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31 December 2022

VCI learns that CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (Review)

A low-rent troupe of Florida actors sneak onto an island graveyard in order to dig up a corpse and resurrect him for kicks.  Only too late do they learn that CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS.  From the director of BLACK CHRISTMAS, PORKY'S, and A CHRISTMAS STORY.

REVIEW LINK: VCI Home Video (US) Region ALL UHD/Blu-ray Combo (DVDCompare)

CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS UHD/Blu-ray Combo:

  • Disc One (UHD):
    • 2160p24 HEVC 1.85:1 Widescreen (SDR)
    • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
    • Optional English SDH Subtitles
    • Audio Commentary by actor/co-director Alan Ormsby and actresses Anya Cronin and Jane Daly, moderated by David Gregory
    • "Dreaming of Death: Bob Clark's Horror Films" documentary (72 mins)
    • Theatrical Trailer
  • Disc Two (Blu-ray):
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
    • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
    • Optional English SDH Subtitles
    • Audio Commentary by actor/co-director Alan Ormsby and actresses Anya Cronin and Jane Daly, moderated by David Gregory
    • "Dreaming of Death: Bob Clark's Horror Films" documentary (72 mins)
    • Theatrical Trailer
  • Disc Three (Bonus Blu-ray):
    • 2022 Alan Ormsby Interview
    • "Memories of Bob Clark"
    • 2007 Grindhouse Q and A
    • "Confessions of a Grave Digger" interview with construction chief Ken Goch
    • "Dead Girls Don’t Say No" and "Cemetery Mary" music videos by The Deadthings
    • Tribute Video
    • Photo Gallery
    • Radio Spots
  • Reversible Cover
  • Liner Notes Booklet
  • Slipcover

28 December 2022

CineVentures Best of 2022 Blu-rays/UHD

Top Blu-ray Releases of 2022:
1. BOILING POINT (Phillip Barantini, 2021) Region B UK Second Sight (REVIEW)
2. SISTER, SISTER (Bill Condon, 1988) Region ALL USA Vinegar Syndrome (REVIEW)
3. DRAGON'S RETURN (Eduard Grecner, 1968) Region ALL Second Run (REVIEW)
4. LOVE (Karoly Makk, 1971) Region ALL Second Run (REVIEW)
5. THE PARTY AND THE GUESTS (Jan Nemec, 1966) Region ALL Second Run (REVIEW)
6. EXECUTION IN AUTUMN (Hsing Lee, 1972) Region B Eureka (REVIEW)
7. TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (Amando de Ossorio, 1971) Region ALL Synapse Films
8. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR (Jess Franco, 1973) Region ALL Mondo Macabro
9. TO SLEEP SO AS TO DREAM (Kaizo Hayashi, 1986) Region A/B Arrow Video (REVIEW)
10. COACH TO VIENNA (Karel Kachyna, 1966) Region ALL Second Run (REVIEW)

Top 4K UHD Releases of 2022
:
1. QUIET DAYS IN CLICHY (Jens Jørgen Thorsen, 1970) Region ALL UHD/Blu-ray Blue Underground (REVIEW)
2. DOG SOLDIERS (Neil Marshall, 2002) Region ALL UHD/Region B Blu-ray Second Sight
3. SCHIZOID/X-RAY (David Paulsen, 1980/Boaz Davidson, 1981) Region ALL UHD/Region A Blu-ray Vinegar Syndrome (REVIEW)
4. MADMAN (Joe Giannone, 1981) Region ALL UHD/Blu-ray Vinegar Syndrome (REVIEW)
5. THE WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN (Leon Klimovsky, 1970) Region ALL UHD/Blu-ray Vinegar Syndrome
6. DEATH WISH II (Michael Winner, 1982) Region ALL UHD/Region A Blu-ray Vinegar Syndrome (REVIEW)
7. FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (Dario Argento, 1971) Region ALL UHD/Blu-ray Severin Films
8. THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (Neil Jordan, 1984) Region ALL UHD/Region A Blu-ray Scream Factory/Shout! Factory
9. THE FOG (John Carpenter, 1980) Region ALL UHD/Region A Blu-ray Scream Factory/Shout! Factory
10. PHENOMENA (Dario Argento, 1984) Region ALL UHD Synapse Films

Top Boxsets of 2022
:

1. TWISTING THE KNIFE (Claude Chabrol, 1997-2003) Region A/B Blu-ray Arrow Video (REVIEW)
2. THE WAR TRILOGY (Andrzej Wajda, 1955-1958) Region ALL Blu-ray Second Run
3. LIES AND DECEIT (Claude Chabrol, 1984-1994) Region A/B Blu-ray Arrow Video (REVIEW)
4. SYLVIA KRISTEL 1970s COLLECTION (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1975/Wim Verstappen, 1978/Paul de Lussanet, 1978/Sigi Rothemund, 1974) Region ALL Blu-ray Cult Epics (REVIEW)
5. GOTHIC FANTASTICO: FOUR ITALIAN TALES OF TERROR (Massimo Pupillo, 1965/Alberto de Martino, 1963/Mino Guerrini, 1966/Damiano Damiani, 1966) Region ALL Blu-ray Arrow Video (REVIEW)

Honorable Mentions:
While Severin Films made fans ecstatic with their UHD debuts of the first legitimate English-friendly release of Dario Argento's lesser-seen FIVE DAYS OF MILAN and the first fully uncut version of FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET that did not depend on sub-par 16mm or standard definition video inserts, what may have fallen under the radar for many are their other halfway to Black Friday and Black Friday releases including THE DEVIL'S GAME - which not only includes the first legitimate release anywhere of Mario Bava's final film "The Venus of Ille" (co-directed with his son Lamberto Bava) but also otehr Italian telefilm adaptations of other pieces of fantastic nineteenth century literature including one from DEATH LAID AN EGG's Giulio Questi - as well as the little-seen South African psychosexual slasher THE SHADOWED MIND - truly a rescue operation since no film materials were available when the film was last announced as a DVD release by another label half a decade ago - the rare giallo LIBIDO (with heretofore unavailable English dub), and Jess Franco's MACUMBA SEXUAL, MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD, and SEX IS CRAZY.

Besides the aforementioned Blu-ray debut of Franco's arthouse stunner THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR that made our top ten, Mondo Macabro also gave us in that same bundle LOVE BRIDES OF THE BLOOD MUMMY - heretofore only available as a Spanish-language copy of the domestic nudity-free version or a British 8mm reduction that was also lighter on sex than violence - and THE HORRIBLE SEXY VAMPIRE, neither of which are truly good films but are atmospheric timewasters nicely-curated with audio commentaries, footage from alternate versios in the case of MUMMY and much-needed context about the true crime "Vamprire of the Highway" case for HORRIBLE.

Arrow Video's announcement of Region A editions of three Shaw Brothers Blu-ray releases of titles already available in the UK from the likes of Eureka Video and 88 Films with a nice set of extras was initially not that thrilling, but they put their own spin on things for the better.  COME DRINK WITH ME had a new commentary track from the esteemed Tony Rayns and a host of interviews from the archvies of Frédéric Ambroisine, THE ONE ARMED BOXER ported over the UK commentary but added an exclusive interview, and THE EIGHT POLE DIAGRAM FIGHTER not only featured a healthy stack of extras but also addressed the issue of lost frames at every splice point that has dogged other masters of Shaw Brothers material including the previous Blu-ray editions.

25 December 2022

Arrow Video Weaves a GOTHIC FANTASTICO Out of Four Italian Tales of Terror (review)

You know Mario Bava, you know Barbara Steele, you know Christopher Lee, but the golden age of Gothic Italian horror cinema also brought us some lesser known though no less atmospheric fright flicks like the four in this boxed set.  In LADY MORGAN'S VENGEANCE, a young bride is terrorized and driven to the brink of madness by her husband but she gets the last word from beyond the grave.  In THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER, a young heiress returns to her ancestral castle with her friends only to discover that her brother is trying to keep her from discovering a family curse.  In THE THIRD EYE, a sheltered aristocrat loses his domineering mother and his fiancee on the same day and develops a habit of stalking and killing beautiful women with the help of his housekeeper.  In THE WITCH, a womanizing writer hired to catalogue a private library of an aging widow falls under the spell of her beautiful daughter leading to a web of manipulation, murder, and witchcraft.  Franco Nero, Richard Johnson, Paul Miller, Erika Blanc, and Rosanna Schiaffino star among other Euro horror familiar faces.

REVIEW LINK: Arrow Video (US) Region A/B Blu-ray (CineVentures Blog)

GOTHIC FANTASTICO: FOUR ITALIAN TALES OF TERROR Blu-ray specs: 

  • Disc One - Lady Morgan's Vengeance:
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
    • Italian LPCM 1.0 Mono
    • Optional English Subtitles
    • Audio Commentary by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
    • "Vengeance from Beyond" video introduction by Mark Thompson Ashworth
    • "The Grudge" video essay by author and producer Kat Ellinger
    • "When We Were Vampires" video interview with actress Erika Blanc
    • "Born to Be a Villain" interview with actor Paul Muller
    • "The Pupillo Tapes" audio interview with director Massimo Pupillo
    • Original Cineromanzo, published in Suspense in April 1971
    • Theatrical Trailer
  • Disc Two - The Blancheville Monster:
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
    • English and Italian LPCM 1.0 Mono
    • Optional English SDH Subtitles (for English dub) and English Subtitles (for Italian dub)
    • Audio Commentary by filmmaker and film historian Paul Anthony Nelson
    • "Castle of Horror" introduction by Italian film devotee Mark Thompson Ashworth
    • "Are You Sure It Wasn't Just Your Imagination?" video essay by writer and pop culture historian Keith Allison
    • "Welcome to the Manor" video interview with author and filmmaker Antonio Tentori
    • American Opening Credits
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Image Gallery
  • Disc Three - The Third Eye:
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
    • English and Italian LPCM 1.0 Mono
    • Optional English SDH Subtitles (for English dub) and English Subtitles (for Italian dub)
    • Audio Commentary by author and critic Rachael Nisbet
    • "The Cold Kiss of Death" introduction by Mark Thompson Ashworth
    • "Nostalgia Becomes Necrophilia" video essay by author and filmmaker Lindsay Hallam
    • "All Eyes on Erika" interview with actress Erika Blanc
    • Image Gallery
  • Disc Four - The Witch:
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
    • English and Italian LPCM 1.0 Mono
    • Optional English SDH Subtitles (for English dub) and English Subtitles (for Italian dub)
    • Audio Commentary by author and producer Kat Ellinger
    • "Witchery" introduction by Italian film devotee Mark Thompson Ashworth
    • "Loving the Devil: Ageing and Sexuality in La Strega di Amore" video essay by author and academic Miranda Corcoran
    • "The Rome Witch Project" interview with author and filmmaker Antonio Tentori
    • Image Gallery
  • Comes in limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch, an 80-page book featuring new writing on the films by Roberto Curti, Rob Talbot, Jerome Reuter, Rod Barnett and Kimberly Lindbergs, as well as a foldout double-sided poster.

21 December 2022

Eureka Classics pays respect to YES, MADAM! (review)

Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock join forces in search of a murderer and an incriminating piece of microfilm in Hong Kong's first "girls and guns" comic thriller.

REVIEW LINK: Eureka Video (UK) Region B Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

YES, MADAM! Blu-ray specs: 

  • Hong Kong Version:
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
    • Cantonese LPCM 2.0 Mono (theatrical and home video mixes)
    • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (2002 dub)
    • Audio Commentary by Asian film experts Frank Djeng and Michael Worth
    • Audio Commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
  • English Export Version:
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
    • English LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Select Scene Commentary by actress Cynthia Rothrock
  • "Cynthia Rothrock on YES, MADAM!"
  • A Conversation with Mang Hoi
  • Archival Interview with Michelle Yeoh
  • "Battling Babes" promo
  • Hong Kong Theatrical Trailer
  • U.K. Home Video Trailer
  • The first 2,000 copies includes a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver and a slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling

17 December 2022

Synapse Films sights the CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE (Review)

A Vietnam vet and a hippie explore the swamps of Louisiana in search of the CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE.

REVIEW LINK: Synapse Films (US) Region ALL Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE Blu-ray specs:

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by film historians Michael Gingold and Chris Poggiali
  • "Swamp Stories" interview with cinematographer Dean Cundey
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Radio Spot
  • The first 2,500 copies ordered directly from Synapse Films include a limited edition slipcover.

Cult Epics exposes JULIA (review)

A sexually frustrated boy goes to spend the holidays with his estranged father at his uncle's villa where he hopes to finally make love to best friend Julia, but things take unpredictable turns as their young desires get entangled with those of their elders in this German sex comedy that featured Sylvia Kristel before she became internationally known as EMMANUELLE.

REVIEW LINK: Cult Epics (US) Region ALL Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

JULIA Blu-ray specs: 

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • German DTS-HD Master Audio and LPCM 2.0 Mono Audio
  • English LPCM 2.0 Mono Dub
  • Optional English Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by Sylvia Kristel biographer Jeremy Richey
  • Poster and Still Gallery
  • U.S. Theatrical Trailer
  • Bonus Trailers
  • The first pressing includes a reversible cover and a booklet by Ulrich Mannes.

14 December 2022

Cult Epics is PLAYING WITH FIRE (review)

A corrupt banker and his sexy daughter become entangled in a twisted kidnapping and sexual trafficking plot as only Alain Robbe-Grillet can spin it.  Jean-Louis Trintingant, Philippe Noiret, Anicee Alvina, and Sylvia Kristel star.

REVIEW LINK: Cult Epics (US) Region ALL Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

PLAYING WITH FIRE Blu-ray specs:

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • French DTS-HD Master Audio and LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Optional English Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by film historian Tim Lucas
  • Interview with Catherine Robbe-Grillet
  • Bonus Trailers 
  • The first pressing includes a booklet with an essay on Alain Robbe-Grillet by film scholar Marcus Stiglegger and a reversible sleeve with uncensored original poster art.

Vinegar Syndrome lets loose an EVIL LAUGH (review)

A cackling killer stalks a group of med students who are fixing up a mansion that was once the site of an orphanage where a massacre occurred in the eighties slasher comedy EVIL LAUGH.

REVIEW LINK: Vinegar Syndrome (US) Region ALL Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

EVIL LAUGH Blu-ray specs: 

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.33:1 Pillarboxed Fullscreen
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by The Hysteria Continues
  • "The Joy of Laughter" feature-length documentary
  • Still Gallery
  • Reversible Cover
  • The first 6,000 units ordered directly from Vinegar Syndrome include an embossed limited edition slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr. (link unavailable during December partner label-only month).

12 December 2022

Eureka Classics haunts THE CAT AND THE CANARY with THE GHOST BREAKERS (review)

Bob Hope got his big screen break paired with Paulette Goddard in a pair of horror comedies.  In THE CAT AND THE CANARY, scaredy cat Hope is heiress Goddard's only protection in a haunted house with a mad killer on the loose.  In THE GHOST BREAKERS, Hope and Goddard take on ghosts and zombies in a haunted castle on a Cuban island.

REVIEW LINK: Eureka Video (UK) Region B Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

THE CAT AND THE CANARY/THE GHOST BREAKERS Blu-ray specs:

  • The Cat and the Canary (1939):
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.37:1 Pillarboxed Fullscreen 
    • English LPCM 2.0 Mono 
    • Optional English HoH Subtitles 
    • Audio Commentary by film historians Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons 
    • Interview with author Kim Newman 
    • Theatrical Trailer 
  • The Ghost Breakers (1940): 
    • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.37:1 Pillarboxed Fullscreen 
    • English LPCM 2.0 Mono 
    • Optional English HoH Subtitles 
    • Audio Commentary by film historians Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons 
    • 1949 Radio Adaptation starring Bob Hope 
    • Theatrical Trailer 
  • Reversible Cover 
  • The first pressing of 2,000 copies includes a limited edition slipcase and collector's booklet featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann.

11 December 2022

Paramount Pictures gets possessed by SMILE (review)

After a patient commits suicide in front of her, Dr. Rose Cotter starts to experience vivid hallucinations and becomes convinced that she is being stalked by a demon with a frightening SMILE.

REVIEW LINK: Paramount Pictures (US) Region ALL 4K UHD (DVDCompare)

SMILE 4K UHD specs:

  • 2160p24 HEVC 2.00:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby Atmos, English Audio Description Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canadian) Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Parisian) Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish (Latin American) Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Optional English, English HoH, Dutch, French (Canadian), French (Parisian), German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish (Latin American), and Turkish subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by director Finn Parker"
  • Something's Wrong with Rose: Making SMILE"
  • "Flies Inside the Wall: Inside the Score" 
  • Deleted Scenes with optional audio commentary by director Parker Finn
  • "Laura Hasn't Slept" 2020 short film with introduction by director Parker Finn
  • Slipcover

03 December 2022

Eureka Classics battles THE DEAD AND THE DEADLY (review)

Sammo Hung is a bumbling funeral assistant who suspects that his best friend did not die by natural causes.  When his friend's ghost comes back, he must donate his own body to help him achieve vengeance in this classic Golden Harvest horror comedy.

REVIEW LINK: Eureka Video (UK) Region B Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

THE DEAD AND THE DEADLY Blu-ray specs: 

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • Cantonese (theatrical mix), Cantonese (home video mix), and English (classic dub) LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Optional English Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by Asian film experts Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) & Michael Worth 
  • Audio Commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema 
  • Sammo Hung Interview at the 2016 Udine Film Festival 
  • Sammo Hung Q and A at the 2016 Udine Film Festival 
  • Hong Kong Theatrical Trailer 
  • The first pressing comes with a limited edition O-card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling and a collector's booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver.