Tuesday, February 9, 2021

THE EPITAPH VOL. 33: SNOWPIERCER: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (2020) - DOOM PATROL: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (2020) - FREAKY (2020) - PLAGUE TOWN (2009)

THE EPITAPH VOL. 33 - BRIEF REMEMBRANCES OF THE RECENTLY RELEASED 

SNOWPIERCER: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (2020) -DOOM PATROL: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (2020) - FREAKY (2020) - PLAGUE TOWN (2009) 


SNOWPIERCER: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
(2020)

Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment 

Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 459 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Directors: James Hawes, Sam Miller, Frederick E.O. Toye, Helen Shaver, Everardo Gout, 
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Alison Wright, Mickey Sumner, Susan Park, Iddo Goldberg, Katie McGuinness, Lena Hall, Annalise Basso, Roberto Urbina, Jaylin Fletcher 

Snowpiercer (2020) the television series is based on the critically acclaimed French graphic novel series and the feature film from director Bong Joon Ho (Parasite). This TV  adaptation is set more than seven years after the Earth has become a frozen wasteland, which is set-up in the first few minutes of the series. The story centers on the remnants of humanity who inhabit a train that is 1001 cars long, that circles the globe non-stop. On the cars the people are deeply divided and separated by a class system, and there's plenty of drama with the class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival playing out in each episode. I loved the film and this series does justice to the film, though I have never read the graphic novel, so I am unsure how it stacks up. I was enthralled by the series first season from week to week as it aired on TNT, it has a great cast  that includes Jennifer Connolly (Phenomena) as Melanie, the train's Head of Hospitality, who keeps things running while keeping a secret about the Head Engineer Mr. Wilford. The main thrust of the first season is when a murder occurs in first class at the head of train Melanie recruits the world's last remaining detective, Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs, Hamilton), a lower class passenger in the tail-end of the train. He is called upon to investigate and solve the murder, which opens his eyes to the extreme disparity between the head and the tail of the train. It's a cool piece of sci-fi that takes the film and keeps much of it's design and production values, with a class-warfare storyline that kept me coming back each week. There's also a great cast of side characters, one of my favorites being Melanie's deputy in Hospitality, Alison (Ruth Wardell, Castle Rock), who is loyal till she discovers Melanie has been keeping a pretty big secrets from her. Another favorite on the show is Pike, played by Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead), a battle-scarred "tallie" who answers the call when the class wars start-up. I loved the first season, all the moving parts that are set in motion throughout come together nicely and set up the second season, which so far has been excellent. 
All ten episodes of the first season arrive on a 2-disc Blu-ray set, the HD image is pleasing and the DTS-HD audio sounds great. Extras include a handful of cool featurettes that explore the themes and give is a cool behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the series. We also get a slipcover and inside there's a episode guide with synopsis of each episode, plus a code for a digital copy of the series. 

Special Features: 
- Overview
- Class Warfare
- Jennifer & Daveed – Behind The Scenes Interview
- The Train
- Behind the Curtain: Art of the Frozen World

DOOM PATROL: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (2020)

Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 461 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Directors: Christopher Manley, Harry Jierjian, Samira Radsi, Omar Madha, Glen Winter, Kristin Windell, Jessica Lowrey, Amanda Row, 
Cast: Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Joivan Wade, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Timothy Dalton

DC's strangest team of misfit heroes have returned, and following the defeat of Mr. Nobody in the first season the Doom Patrol start off the new season mini-sized and stranded on Cliff's toy race car track, and it only gets weirder from there! I love Doom Patrol, the simple fact that this made it to a live-action series is mind-boggling to me, there is nothing else out there quite like it. Each episode is a madcap and surreal adventure as our heroes contend with the consequences of their sordid pasts and personal demons. This season we get baddies by way of the Candlemaker, Dr. Tyme, the interdimensional being Red Jack, The SeX-Men, The Scants and plenty more, while the team each struggle with their own baggage. We get Dorothy dealing with the repercussions of her imaginary friend, Cliff attempting to reunite with his estranged daughter, Larry reunites with his son with tragic results, and Rita returns to acting in a community theater, while Miranda is mired in a power struggle for dominance with her multiple personalities. The fact that this show even exists and has been renewed for a third season is a source of great pleasure, we truly live in a golden age of nerd culture. This season was cut a bit short by the pandemic, so we only get nine of the intended ten episodes, and it does feel cut short, but the season still works. The nine-episode second season arrives on 2-dic Blu-ray with 11-minutes of featurettes and a slipcover, inside there is an episode guide with a brief summary of each episode, but no digital copy for this one.   

Special Features: 
- The Transformers: Doom Patrol’s Make-up FX
- Doom Patrol – Come Visit Georgia PSA


FREAKY (2020) 
KILLER SWITCH EDITION 

Label: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment 
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 102 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich and Alan Ruck

Freaky (2020) comes by way of director Christopher Landon, who gave us both the Happy Death Day series as well as the Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse... the man definitely knows how to deliver a bloody and fun horror-comedy. He strikes blood-gushing gold again with this Freaky Friday by way of Friday the 13th mash-up, wherein high school senior Millie (Kathryn Newton, Blockers) is just trying to survive being an unpopular teen at her highschool when she becomes a target of a  masked serial killer nicknamed The Butcher (Vince Vaughn, Psycho). Their fateful encounter after the homecoming football game goes askew when the killer's ancient Aztec dagger turns out to have mystical powers with unintended consequences. When he plunges the dagger into Millie they are body-switched. Now she is trapped in the body of a towering psychopath, and he in hers. Millie learns she only has 24 hours to reverse the curse and get her body back before the switcheroo becomes permanent and she is trapped in inside the body of a middle-aged maniac forever. This one has lots of laughs, tons of gory kills, and a little bit of heart. The lynch-pin of the whole slasher is whether Vince Vaughn can portray a sixteen year-old teenage girl convincingly... and he can!  Millie now trapped in the middle-aged body of the serial killer teams-up with her besties, the comedically woke Nyla (Celeste O’Connor, Ghostbusters) and the fabulously gay friend Joshua (Misha Osherovich, The Goldfinch) to get her body back or die trying. I appreciated the humor, but I REALLY appreciated the great kills which are surprisingly potent for a comedy. We get a brutal hay hook to the eye, a bottle shoved down a throat and then shattered, a teacher sawn in half the long way on a table saw, and a cool cryogenic death that could be seen as either a nod to Jason X or the X-Files, there are tons of fun nods to other horror films, too. The whole Freaky Friday the 13th hybrid sounds like it could be a rote idea but co-writer/director Christopher Landon knocks it out of the park. The Killer Switch Edition Blu-ray release looks and sounds fantastic, plus we get an embossed slipcover, and a handful of extras that includes deleted scenes, featurettes and an audio commentary. This was one of my favorites from 2020, glad to see it get a killer home video release, this highly recommended. 

Special Features: 
- Deleted Scenes: The Butcher Lends a Hand (2 min), Charlene Hears a Rumor (1 min), Late for the Party (3 min) 
- Split Personalities: Millie vs. The Butcher (2 min) 
- Crafting the Kills (4 min) 
- Christopher Landon's Brand of Horror (3 min) 
- Final Girl Reframed (3 min) 
- Feature Commentary with Co-writer/Director Christopher Landon
- Traler (3 min) 

PLAGUE TOWN (2009)

Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 & 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: David Gregory 
Cast: Josslyn DeCrosta, Erica Rhodes, James Warke, Lindsay Goranson, David Lombard

Plague Town (2009) was the feature film debut of Severin Films head honcho David Gregory (Master of Dark Shadows) is an atmospheric slice of brutal folk-horror. In it a dysfunctional American family are touring rural Ireland in search of ancient ruins. We have father Jerry (David Lombard ) and his new girlfriend Annette (Lindsay Goranson), plus his argumentative daughters Molly (Josslyn DeCrosta) and Jessica (Erica Rhodes). Also along for the trip is an annoying Brit-guy named Robin (James Warke) whom one of the sisters has picked-up while on Holiday, much to the chagrin of everyone else. Eventually they become lost in the Irish countryside and stumble across remote village that is cut-off from the outside world, a place that hides a hideous secret. The village is seemingly plagued by a not-too-specific curse that has resulted in the birth of deformed children who like to play violent games with the strangers who enter their town, and now the family must contend with the horrific consequences of their current predicament. This has some tasty folk-horror atmosphere and scenery, punctuated by some wince inducing valence, like that of a head that cut in half by a tightening thin wire, and someone hung from a tree with a rope strung through their empty eye sockets, it has plenty of gruesome imagery. This being Gregory's first film it's a solid effort, but not perfection. While it has some great scenery, atmosphere and gore some of the acting can be a bit novice, and I thought the editing was a bit too busy for the folk-horror tone of the film, I would have liked to see the camera linger a bit more. Previously available on Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films this new Blu-ray from Severin is an uncut HD master with both archival and new extras. New stuff comes by way of a terrific new eighty-six minute making of documentary that gets into the nitty gritty of the making of this indie production with participation from nearly everyone involved with the making of the film. Archival stuff comes by way of an audio commentary, a half-hour behind-the-scenes featurette,  a sixteen-minute sound design featurette, plus a trailer and two short film by Gregory.  

Special Features:
- 2009 Audio Commentary with Director David Gregory & Producer Derek Curl
- White Lace & Button Eyes – The Making of PLAGUE TOWN by Documentary Filmmaker Howard S. Berger (86 min) 
- A Visit to Plague Town – Behind the Scenes Featurette (28 min) 
- The Sounds of Plague Town (16 min)
- Trailer
- Short Films: Scathed (44 min), Til Death (8 min) 

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