Posts Tagged ‘Blu-ray’

Walking around my city centre I realised I’d got old, that wasn’t the worst thing though I was out of touch. Not out of touch with the trends or what was going on but out of touch with people, I didn’t recognise my home town. I’d noticed sooner, but sort of shrugged it off and refused to believe it.
It really hit me when I sat down to watch the latest Die Hard, A Good Day to Die Hard… Looking around the cinema at all the empty seats at a premier I realised that me and longtime carer (Mrs. Esmonde) were the only ones there. A premier night?! So I got to the city centre, fancying a drink to fathom it  thinking I may have to queue to get a drink – but then it hit’s me again – bang dead, like a ghost town. Where was everyone?
It not just piracy killing the high street, it’s digital generally. I’m as guilty as the next- I used to buy a magazine to check out what was hot online, now print is becoming as scarce as bookstores. The scope is narrowing and your limited to how you’ll discover the next thing because the net is starting to bottle neck.
 The fun had been lost, times change but there was always people about. But these days there’s not even the bodies. The irony – I was making my books and films available for download even setting the trends, but you know regardless of the over use term financial climate, it’s the media that has changed people, the digital age.
You don’t need a digital copy to come with your DVD or Blu -Ray with UltraViolet. Not even a physical copy of any sort. Online gaming, film streaming. That’s the thing, if you don’t have the physical what do you own, what have you got -nothing…
If the severs stop working or your broadband stops you’ve nothing and nothing to show for it. No album, no tape. No fancy sleeve art, not sausage, just a void… Yeah this nothing new to many of you, it not just films, socialising and may other aspects may become a thing of the past.
The fun, the anticipation, the excitement – all gone. Granted the old days weren’t any better but they seemed one hell of a lot more busier and fun.
UK film distributor 88 films once again thankfully deliver a guilty pleasure of mine on the latest film medium. While an improvement on the transfer of the first and falling slightly short of third probably due to the source material, coming with another collectible booklet and an array of vintage extra and some new surprises it’s a must for puppet master fans.
The puppets return, this time they hunt down some locals and paranormal researchers to assist their master in his evil plan.
Charles Band’s story and David Pabian’s screenplay is almost a remake of the first film. Effects wizard David Allen in the directing chair exceeds the 1st certainly in terms of effects and atmosphere.
While this installment reduces Andre Toulon / Eriquee Chaneé to a walking nod to the Invisible Man and other Universal classic characters, in contrast to how he is presented in the later adventures, it is by far the creepiest of the bunch. Steve Welles performance is wonderfully over the top and steals every scene.
Veteran Nita Talbot is on fine form and the remaining cast are a mixed blessing, Charlie Spradling and Elizabeth Maclellan give solid performances while here at least Collin Bernsen and Jeff Celentano are as mechanical as Tunneler’s innards.
Despite it’s editing and story flaws Allen gives us a darker faster paced and eerier film than it’s predecessor. The flashbacks are welcome and the paranormal investigation angle, while not totally original, gives the proceeds some weight and intrigue. Notably Blade running and jumping from a bed to slice his victim is probably one of best low budget horror moments to date. There are many stand out moments in part 2, Leech Woman’s demise, Torches encounter with a toy whipping boy and the unworldly human puppets reminiscent of the aliens in Carpenter’s (1988)They Live to name a few.
As with all the films in the Puppet Master series they always leave you with one burning question, in the case of two: Why didn’t Julianne Mazziotti/Nita Talbot’s Camille get her own sequel with your favorite little puppets?
Update 28/1/2013: The folks at Full Moon were kind enough to give me an answer: “Many story points in Puppet Master II were influenced by Paramount, not us. That’s why we rebooted the series with PM III.” There’s your official answer.
Some prequels have budgets big enough to buy a small country yet fail to satisfy even the most causal viewer. The third installment of the PuppetMaster series was made in the wake of the 1980’s video boom, in a time when direct-to-video productions were still being shot on in film.

With the recent release of the 1989 original on blu-ray and even though a cult classic the presentation was only a semi-adequate transfer.

However, stop the press, after owning a 1991 VHS and a dubious German DVD version UK distributor 88 Film’s have outdone themselves with this latest blu-ray release. Coming with a collectible booklet I’m happy to say PuppetMaster III exceeds expectations in terms of picture quality (given the budget of the film and the 22 year passage of time), and blu-ray extras.
PuppetMaster 3’s glaring narrative, production faults aside (for which there are countless pages on the net) and budget restrictions, this prequel gives an intriguing insight how those little killer puppets came to be. Set in Berlin 1941, evil Nazi’s want Toulon’s secret formula which animates his puppets to re-animate the Führer’s soldiers and make an unstoppable army for the Aryan race.
The puppets get a run for their money in the acting department this time around. Gestapo officer, Major Krauss played excellently by Richard Lynch steals the show along with James Bond recurring actor Walter Gotell as General Mueller. Both Guy Rolfe as Andre Toulon (previously played by William Hickey) and Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 and 2) as Elsa Toulon bring some emotion to the film.
Naturally there’s Richard Band’s music and thanks to director David DeCoteau and the effects team it’s a blast to see the creation of both Blade and Leech Woman. In addition, Jester gets a fair amount of screen-time.
In a film with reanimated dead soldiers and Nazi’s versus psychotic puppets, you should already know what you’re in for.
Without selling the surprisingly good cast ensemble short it’s a low budget affair but what a recommended  guilty pleasure of entertainment it is. Thank the PuppetMaster for 88 Films!
Where as the first film had the burning question of – What happened to Theresa? The burning question with three is – if Toulon shot himself in 1939 what is he doing alive and well in 1941? Answers on a postcard…
There’s something creepy about inanimate objects coming to life, Puppetmaster is no exception. It’s no secret Fullmoon’s 1989 Puppetmaster is one of my guilty pleasures, forget Magic, Child’s Play and Dolls this is the one that sucks me back in, arguably for all the wrong reasons. Let’s put nostalgia aside, some of the performances are hammy, some of the effects are ropy (even for the time) and that’s just touching the surface.
Puppetmaster through all it’s faults has a great premise with charm to match courtesy of director David Schmoeller. Some of the puppet effects to David Allen and Mark Rappaport’s credit are very well executed and Richards Bands accompanying music score is genuinely creepy.
I’ve owned it on most home video mediums (sad I know) and was pretty excited to get on blu-ray. Apparently UK distributor 88 films press has the edge over it’s US release and DVD, nevertheless its not as clean nor sharp as one would have hoped or expected for a Blu-ray transfer but it is worth getting just to see those good puppets turn bad in producer/writer Charles Band’s preferred aspect ratio.
For those who are not familiar with the plot by Kenneth J. Hall and Band the film begins in 1939 with Nazis arriving at the Bodega Bay hotel in search of Andre Toulon (William Hickey) who holds the secret of bring the dead to life. Cut-to the ‘present day’, a group of psychics assemble to pay their last respects to their shady acquaintance Neil Gallagher and his widower, however things go bad when the Toulon’s puppets begin to kill the guests but who is behind the puppets killing spree?

Thankfully Paul Le Mat and Robin Frates straight performances give the film some weight but the killer puppets themselves are the stars of the show each with their own personalities, with names like Blade, Pinhead, Ms Leech Woman and Tunneler you know your in for a good time. Thanks to Sergio Salvati’s cinematography Puppetmaster is has a quirky dreamlike quality that many big budget horror films lack. But the question is, and one more pressing than – what is the meaning of life? The biggest question is what happened to Theresa? Answers on a postcard…

 

Update 31/1/2013: The folks at Full Moon were kind enough to give me an answer: “No scene was cut.” “It’s just left ambiguous.” There’s your official answer.

“There is very little involvement with the characters themselves…a generally good cast in cardboard roles.” – Variety

 
“An overblown B-movie…technically impressive but awfully portentous and as difficult to sit through as a Black Mass sung in Latin.” – Los Angeles Herald Examiner
 
“An empty bag of tricks whose production values and expensive trickers cannot disguise imaginative poverty.” – Time Out
 
“There’s not enough writing for proper characterisation, not enough plot development for the mind as well as the senses to bite on” – The Guardian
 
These are not Prometheus reviews but those for Alien (1979) also directed by Ridley Scott. I’m a huge fan of Alien and a fan of Prometheus, both have their flaws. Like it or not Ridley returned to the universe and the vision he created. If he had made it prequel like The Thing (2011) that lead right up to the events of the first film, it no doubt would have been dubbed a rehash and/or met criticism as did The Thing. Certain effects aside, I thought The Thing was a worthy prequel and complemented the original it was like watching the Titanic, you were watching ghosts. While it had surprises it was made by deconstruction of the original Thing and its events which as a fan I warmed to.
 
 
Prometheus is set in the same universe, the same world as the Aliens series but as it also stands alone. Prometheus is under discussion, dissection and criticism arguably more so than Alien ever was on its release possibly due to hype, anticipation and interest. But ‘Space truckers’ investigating an Alien ship, Kane examining an egg, the search for Jones while a dangerous little critter on the loose. It’s all science fiction, fiction the key word and entertaining imaginary tale to. Alien was also mocked for characterisation and lack of plot development and is now hailed as a classic.
 
Prometheus is what it is. It’s no use comparing the two. Both films could have opened with the lines “you know what, let’s not go down to that moon it could be dangerous.” They both have debatable flaws without which there wouldn’t be a story.
 
Prometheus raises questions but this adds to a tantalisingly unknown direction for Prometheus. It raised a lot of the debate and has a marmite effect. I’ve put together a Q and A to make the film palatable for some, dot some i’s and cross some t’s so to speak. Be warned there are spoilers.
 
When is Prometheus and Alien set?
Prometheus – Undisclosed date (opening) 2089 and 2093, Alien takes place in 2122.
 
Does this take place on LV-426, the planet from Alien and Aliens?
No, this is set on the moon LV-223.
 
Where in Prometheus did they say that this was LV-223?
The holographic pictogram shows a planetary system containing LV-223.
 
Was the ship from this film the one found in Alien?
No this ship is docked, again it is set on a different planet. The ship in Prometheus only crashes when it collides with the Prometheus, 30 years before the events in Alien. The ship in Alien landed on LV-223 and had been there enough time for the jockey to fossilize (thousands of years).
 
Is the Space Jockey from Alien in this?
No, the fossilized Jockey is not, but an ancient Space Jockey/ Engineer does (in the opening), in addition a living Jockey (awoken by the Prometheus crew) and 2000 year old fossilized remains.
 
Do the Alien or Face Hugger seen in Alien and Aliens appear?
No, but a variation which shares similarities do.
 
Is Meredith Vickers an android?
While her demeanour may suggest otherwise Vickers is not an android. She is no more android than Janek, Chance and Ravel could be. It has been stated by the creators she is not. It as ambiguous as Blade Runner’s Deckard . Even though Scott stated Deckard was a replicant, fan folk still debate the matter.
 
Why do Janek, Chance and Ravel crash the ship?
Janek tells Elizabeth Shaw that he will do anything to stop the Engineers. The pilots have nothing to lose from the time they left Earth, effectively on borrowed time. This is hinted when Meredith Vickers asks David if anyone died during the hyper sleep, substantiating that the crew knew they may not even reach LV-223 alive. Given Shaw’s convincing reasoning with Janek and their services background sacrifice for the greater good of mankind was not beyond possibility.
 
How old was Peter Weyland?
103, born in 1990 according to the viral videos.
 
How do Fifield and Milburn get lost?
Fifield being panicked, intoxicated and because “it all looks the same” he/they get lost because of the static electrical storm that Janek references is interfering with the equipment.
 
Why did the Engineers decide to destroy humans?
According to Sir Ridley Scott: “If you look at it as an ‘our children are misbehaving down there’ scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armour and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, Lets send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him.”
 
Why does Milburn occupy himself with the Alien?
Milburn is a botanist, he’s just getting stuck in herpetologist Steve Irwin style.
 
How does David know there are more ships?
Other structures, the same as where the Space Jockey/ Engineer’s ship is concealed can been seen as they land in the Prometheus on LV-223.
 
What Did David Say to the Engineer?

 Scott removed translation (it works better dramatically). Apparently the line that David speaks to the Engineer is from a longer sequence that didn’t make the final edit. Dr. Anil Biltoo (who appears onscreen as the holographic linguistics teacher) of London’s SOAS Language Centre and taught Fassbender (David) how to speak in Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language. Says: ‘This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life’

David did as directed by Weyland. Engineer is infuriated.

Is that first planet in the prologue Earth?
Ridley Scott says: No, it doesn’t have to be. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself.

Was David’s basketball toss a nod to Alien Resurrection?
Writer Lindelof says: Nothing is an accident in Prometheus. Every single decision that is made by Ridley Scott is made for a very specific reason and purpose.

What are the different effects of the Black Goo/Bio-Former?

  • Engineer + Goo + Water = Human life
  • Goo + Human = Human Mutant
  • Goo (ingested) + Intercourse = Giant squid/face hugger-like Trilobite
  • Trilobite + Engineer = Alien form (similar to that in the Alien Series)
  • Goo + Animal(worm)/Insect = Animal/Insect Mutant

Is Peter Weyland related to Charles Weyland and Bishop II, is there a link with Bishop?

  • Peter Weyland (Prometheus)is the founder and CEO of Weyland Corporation and is not related to Bishop II.
  • Bishop (Aliens/ Alien 3) is an android built by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
  • Bishop II (Alien 3) is the man who designed the Bishop Android.
  • Charles Weyland (AvP) is not linked in any way to Peter. The Alien Versus Predator film series is considered a spin-off and not canon to the Alien or Predator franchises.

Note: Although a debate among fans whether Bishop II is a real person or an Android filmmakers confirm he was indeed human. However, in some of the expanded Alien universe “Bishop II” is referred to as Michael Weyland, so if that’s the case he could be a great-nephew of Peter Weyland’s. (Peter Weyland mentions he didn’t have any sons, so unless he had daughters who kept his name, Michael Weyland would likely not be a direct descendant)

 
If you have any questions give me a shout and I’ll try to track down the answers. in the mean time my thoughs on Prometheus…
 
Prometheus (2012) Review
 
The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-223 in 2093.
 
Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on LV-223 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien (2122A.D) comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel.
 
This change in location allows Prometheus to sit as a stand alone film.Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average sci-fi. That said, Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special and allows set-ups for future instalments.
 
It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce (who is sorely underused) Idris Elba as everyday man Janek and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is astounding as Meredith Vickers, a hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.
 
The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.
 
Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it feels fresh. That said, some character motivations need to be teased out by the viewer for clarification, not all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted.
 
The film took the Alien series in a direction I was not expecting. As a long-time fan of the Alien series, and with this new Prometheus course I can say I’m satisfied, it’s edge of your seat, gory-suspense – director Ridley Scott is on pretty good form.
 
Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological warfare to name a few and although it feels a little rushed it’s a grower just like the spores themselves.
 
Promethus Continues…
 

 
A viral campaign has become part and parcel to accompany a film these days. A rule of thumb though is that its viral campaign ends when a film opens. However, this is not the case with Prometheus…
 
Ridley Scott‘s started in advertising and he’s obviously played a big part in this little spin. After the end of the credits of Prometheus it features the Weyland logo with the date 11th October 2012. Then there popped up a website called What Is 10-11-12? This featured another viral video of Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, who was sorely underused in the film) after this short vid directed by Scott’s son a link appears to http://www.weylandindustries.com/timeline
which seems to be the first part of several chronicling the history of the Weyland company.
 

Is this date setting up an announcement at Comic Con or just a novel way to plug the DVD/Blu-ray release? Only time will tell, but with Prometheus being a financial success and rousing lots of debate amongst fans, a sequel seems somewhat inevitable.

Ridley Scott’s lavish 1985 fantasy Legend had a taxing and interesting history, script revisions, the studio burned down, the film had to be reedited and Jerry Goldsmith’s score was removed from the US version and replaced by Tangerine Dream followed by a Brain Ferry track over the closing credits to name a few.
Despite there being a 140-minute rough cut, which was then cut down to a 125-minute work print, Ridley never intended an audience to see these versions. The 113-minute version is the Director’s Cut (which has now been released on Blu-Ray) and is as close to complete as Ridley Scott intended it to be. Legend is no Blade Runner, Alien or even Gladiator and still remains a flawed film yet there is something magical about Legend even if it doesn’t literally live up to its title…
After a unicorn is killed darkness falls across the land and a forest boy named Jack must save the world and his love before last ray of sunlight disappears forever.
1985’s Legend is simple fantasy tale of good versus evil that unusually leaves room for interpretation. Debatably it lacks any likable characters which is possibly the reason why Labyrinth (1986) and The Princess Bride (1987) fair better in comparison. Tom Cruise, Mia Sara and co are surprisingly subdued and William Hjortsberg’s screenplay is missing the required attention-grabbing dialogue and a sense of journey and adventure. That said, what legend does have is atmosphere, and abundance of it. Many of the visuals in Legend are far superior to the aforementioned and there is no doubt this is due to Ridley Scott’s handling of the production.
Tim Curry’s brief performance and make up design as Darkness is fantastic, as to is the makeup as a whole. A notable cast also include Billy Barty (Masters of the Universe) and Kiran Shah (The Chronicles of Narnia). Alice Playten’s Blix is sorely underused, Annabelle Lanyon is the peculiar fairy Oona and David Bennent is excellent as the eerie elf-like Gump.
The sets are wonderfully constructed this coupled with lighting create a enchanting environment. The Meg Mucklebones is segment is truly creepy reminiscent of the witches featuring in Clash of the Titans (1981). Jerry Goldsmith’s score (reintroduced in the director’s cut) gives the film a timeless feel and underpins the mystical element.
Ultimately despite being magnificently crafted it’s a fantasy that is too straightforward and underdeveloped for adults and too scary for children.
Notorious for being banned in the UK for many years as a ‘Video Nasty’ Zombi 2 a.k.a Zombie and Zombie Flesheaters brought Italian director Lucio Fulci world cult status. Although it’s sequels dissipated into dust Zombie found a following on grainy VHS and DVD plagued problems on its varying editions.
US company Blue Underground have released a new all singing and dancing Blu- ray edition. The two discs are a little marketing ploy but that said what they contain is zombie horror priceless, especially if you’re a fan. However, UK company, Arrow’s 2 disc Blu-ray offering is even better with arguably as good extras.
There’s the familiar commentary with Ian McCulloch and the usual regurgitated promotional material. But on Disc two there is a wealth of new interviews from cast and crew (in HD) and horror cleric Guillermo del Toro giving his thoughts on one of his most beloved films. But the star of this edition is the film itself lovingly restored by the Italian facility LVR to possibly the best it can be (*until the Arrow UK version comes along – probably). Edit Nov 2012 –
*Arrow Blu-ray release has the original mono and while not having the 5.1 sound of option still trumps the Blue Underground version with a far superior picture, and does contain new commentaries and an array of new extras. Arrow is my preferred version to date.

Underground’s like Arrow’s print is clean, defect free with the high resolution bringing out the blood and gores glorious colours. The great thing is that the skin tones look much more natural and even more so in Arrow’s version. Overall, either packages or both are a zombie must have and a worthy upgrade.
My thoughts on the film haven’t changed but if you don’t know much about Zombie here it goes…
After an incident in New York bay a reporter and a scientist’s daughter travel to an Island aided by two locals. However, the dead are returning to life on the Island… The zombies long for human flesh and the pair find themselves in hopeless situation.
Not to be confused with Bruno Mattei’s Zombie Creeping Flesh (1980) (a.k.a Virus, Hell of the Living Dead to name a few) Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesheaters (1979) is far superior. Conflicting reports say that a draft was written prior to Dawn of the Dead (a.ka. Zombi) (this maybe unfounded) but most horror fans are aware that the name Flesheaters was changed to Zombi 2 and a new ending was tagged on to cash in on Romero success. You could argue that the talked about soundtrack is as intrusive as Dawn of the Dead music themes and that the eye scene is better than Argento’s vocational displays.
Comparisons to other movies aside Zombie Flesheaters (1979) suffers from Lucio Fulci’s own trappings – including badly written dialogue, choppy editing and bad dubbing. That said, there are very few directors that capture atmosphere you can taste. Fulci’s cinematic look is heightened by Giorgio Cascio and Fabio Frizzi’s excellent eerie and foreboding score.

The supporting cast are mostly sufficient, leads Tisa Farrow and Ian McCulloch are more than adequate, note worthy is Richard Johnson as Dr. David Menard. Notorious for the shark/zombie scene Flesheaters is so much more, Fulci creates some unmatched ambiance, the visuals are as lingering as the dead, dusty paths, an old Spanish cemetery, darkness lit up by Molotov cocktails and so on.

Zombie Flesheaters with all its low-budget faults is a creepy, slow paced, effective zombie film.
The discs in detail:
DISC 1:
• Audio Commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Guillermo del Toro Intro
DISC 2 All in 1080p!:
• “Zombie Wasteland” – Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (22:19)
• “Flesh Eaters on Film” – Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis (9:39)
• “Deadtime Stories” – Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti (14:30)
• “World of the Dead” – Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca (16:29)
• “Zombi Italiano” – Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi (16:34 )
• “Notes on a Headstone” – Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi (7:25)
• “All in the Family” – Interview with Antonella Fulci (6:08)
• “Zombie Lover” – Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films (9:37)

ARROW’S SPECIAL FEATURES:

– Brand new high definition restoration of the original negative with optional English and Italian opening/closing sequences

– Optional English SDH subtitles for English Audio, newly translated English subtitles for Italian audio
– Original Mono 2.0 Italian and English audio

– Audio commentary with screenwriter Elisa Briganti moderated by Calum Waddell

– Audio commentary with Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower and horror expert Alan Jones .

– UK exclusive introduction to the film from Ian McCulloch

– ALIENS, CANNIBALS AND ZOMBIES: A TRILOGY OF ITALIAN TERROR: Actor Ian McCulloch remembers his three classics of Latin horror lunacy – ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS, CONTAMINATION and ZOMBI HOLOCAUST

– FROM ROMERO TO ROME: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE FILM: Veteran Fulci screenwriters Dardano Sacchetti (THE BEYOND) and Antonio Tentori (CAT IN THE BRAIN), celebrated UK critic Kim Newman and filmmakers Luigi Cozzi (CONTAMINATION), Ruggero Deodato (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST), Russ Streiner (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) plus many more share memories of the genesis of corpse-crunching cinema – from Romero’s early templates to the gory glory days of Fulci and his many successors.

– THE MEAT MUNCHING MOVIES OF GINO DE ROSSI: The special effects magician behind many Italian splatter classics talks about his most famous gore-drenched greats – and shows props from many plasma-packed masterworks – including ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, CANNIBAL FEROX, BURIAL GROUND and PIRANHA II.

– MUSIC FOR A FLESH-FEAST: Composer Fabio Frizzi – Live Q&A from the Glasgow Film Theatre
– ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS – FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Dardano Sacchetti shows key pages from his original ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD screenplay.

– Trailers and TV spots

– Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower, a new interview with star Olga Karlatos by Calum Waddell, a history of Zombie Flesh Eaters and the BBFC by Craig Lapper, one of the board’s senior examiners, and extracts of the original ‘Nightmare Island’ 1978 script including unfilmed, alternate, and more gory sequences as well as a Lucio Fulci CV compiled by Jay Slater

– Limited Edition Exclusive artworks by Graham Humphreys

Taking some horror time out, what seems like a long, long time ago I opened up my Star Wars Blu–ray Saga set expecting a cardboard fold out like the Alien set, however, I was surprised to find them (the UK release at least) stacked like a book of blue plastic. From the off I should state it’s not the originals it’s the reworked 2004 with ‘some’ tweaks.
There’s some nice are work on each of the discs and as a bonus behind a little booklet with some more nice artwork I found concealed a Limited Edition Sentiype that contains a unique 35mm film. The film frame is mounted on postcard (right) that features the artwork from the Star Wars Blu-ray box. The Senitype is numbered for authenticity. A nice surprise as I didn’t realise it came with the set that was ordered.
Limited Edition Sentiype
The biggest problem with the set is not the 2004 updated effects (hated by diehard fan boys of the original) still light-years better than the 1997 release. But the real dilemma is which do you watch first? IV- VI then I-III. Mix it up a little as flash backs and forwards watching I,IV,II, V and so on or watching the documentaries first then the films. Oh my I am a Star Wars geek after all.
The menus look great and the bonus discs are broken up into films and sections, with headings – Hoth, Tatoonie, Endor and so on. Make sure you push left on the remote as it’s easy to think there’s no more, but the menus revolve round revealing more sections. In those sections are the deleted scenes, concept galleries, documentaries and so forth.
Even though there are three discs of extras what I would say is hold on to your original DVD’s if you have them and are a fan of extras as not everything has been shifted over. The Blu-ray is not a definitive collection which is a shame given that the majority of extras are of standard DVD quality. I don’t think it would have hurt to slap everything on.
The package
The first bonus disc covers I Phantom Menace – III Revenge of the Sith, the second New Hope – VI Return of the Jedi and the third disc includes spoofs, a 2010 doc about Empire, Dewbacks and more. Interviews are short and end abruptly. In the Star Wars there’s a handful of deleted interesting scenes including Biggs and an unknown male and female with Luke debatably drunk. You can’t help feel sorry for those actors in the deleted takes who may have gone onto do other things if they’d been included. There’s a very short snippet of an old woman on a dusty road and black a white rough cut of the Cantina that includes Han kissing a woman. If included this would have added three more women to George’s at the time predominantly male world of Star Wars.
There’s a lot of new stuff notably the aforementioned Empire documentary with Lucas, Kasdan and Kershner (R.I.P) , the fly through the Lucas ranch and archives are quite insightful. There are tones of documentaries that give you a broad insight into the making of the Saga over the three discs.
In any case I waited for the sun to go down to avoid glare on the screen and popping in Star Wars I got quite excited. The picture is great and new details are uncovered that could not been seen in other formats. Jabba still looks odd but sits into the scene better and to be honest his inclusion solidifies Hans motivation to leave in the final act. The Han who shoot’s first is corrected and doesn’t look out of place. There’s some new changes to this Blu-Ray notably R2-D2 hiding further behind newly inserted rocks, Obi-Wan’s Krayt Dragon call and some audio changes in the Yavin battle – none of which spoil the fun.
R2-D2 change
However, picture wise the Tatooine scenes are a mixed bag and a good as can be expected but Star Wars really kicks into eye-popping gear on the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star with vibrant colour, great depth and contrast. There are still some inconsistencieswhen Luke is using the lightsaber but the training laser ball now looks spot on. You notice how worn and dirty the Falcon is dispelling that everything is glossy in the world of Lucas. That said, the Death Star is pristine, reflections on the board table, shinny floors, glowing and flashing lights. The scene with old Ben switching of the tractor-beam, humming noises and green lighting are humbly exceptional. As too is the duel the lightsabers now corrected. The whole rescue to the final explosion has never looked so good, probably better than in 1977 theatre.

Watching Star Wars on Blu-ray felt fresh, it took me off autopilot, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialouge and action along with my children and enjoying Star Wars a lot more than I had in a long time. For some reason Star Wars had turned into a journey that you do so often you can’t remember the journey itself and Blu-ray injected something new. (and I’m not a Lucas film employee!)
Biggs where are the women?
The best thing is that my children want to watch them and I’m sure that their children and their children’s children will too. Despite the changes to Star Wars it has never looked so good and until something better than Blu-ray comes along this is it geeks.
Now I just have to decide which one to watch again next.

There’s an easter egg of sorts. ‘easy to miss. It’s a Boba Fett cartoon from the ‘Holiday Special’
1. Go to Disc 8, Episode V
2. Go to Pursued By The Imperial Fleet
3. Go to Collection
4. Go to Boba Fett Prototype Costume
5. Watch “First Look”

Watching the Boba Fett cartoon from the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, it’s clear that when Lucas said he’d changed the original trilogy editions because he couldn’t do things at the time and had always intended the additions he wasn’t doing a Pinocchio. For example, the flying searching droids that aid the Stormtroopers which appear in the special editions are also are present in the 1978 cartoon. Conforming that Lucas wasn’t just adding things on a whim. Kudos to the beard.

Picture notes:

Phantom Menace – while the picture quality is adequate it lacks clarity especially in some shots on Tatoonie. New CGI Yoda looks impressive, with a tone and look more true to Empire than what’s offered in still the excellent incarnation in II and III. (As a side note in the Naboo forest and in the desert Ewan still looks particularly odd with his ever changing hair and weight.)

Attack of the Clones – fairs a lot better than PM but at times the effects around the live characters leave a glowing blur.

Revenge of the Sith – excellent clarity, it looks the crispest of the bunch most likely due to lessons learned on the first two and that it was shot digitally.

New Hope – as mentioned Tatoonie segments differ from shot to shot but is excellent while in space. Music queues and sound are fantastic.

Empire Strikes back – as well as can be expected. Details are brought out for the first time.

Return of the Jedi – oddly the worst of the of the bunch, some scenes look mucky with a lot of noise that lack clarity. That’s said, the briefing scene amongst others look really good.

If you weren’t old enough to have seen the original Star Wars trilogy and The Phantom Menace was your first introduction to Star Wars then many will envy your fresh eyed look at the films from 1-6.

Yoda Movie Poster (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm) () Style A -(Mark Hamill)(Carrie Fisher)(Harrison Ford)(Billy Dee Williams)(Alec Guinness)(David Prowse)“That face you make.
Look I so old to young eyes?”



For the rest and the die hard, extreme countless legions of Star Wars fans you maybe disappointed with the Blu-Ray release.
Star Wars 3.75 Vintage Figure Boba FettI’ll always remember going with my dad to the dankest cinema watching the original films back to back – it was a highlight, even coming out flee bitten it didn’t seem to matter. Recreating Hoth in a kitchen bowl with snow (as it was too cold outside), getting as much play in before it melted, using paper cups to build new spaceship oh the joy of and innocence of Star Wars. The only thing that I remember about disliking the original is that the Millennium Falcon was a horrid uncool looking ship, lacking sleekness, however, overtime that seems to have dissipated.
BLADE RUNNER HARRISON FORD 11X14 PHOTOVHS came and went, then George Lucas began his tinkering with the record breaking classic(s). The 1997 re-released special editions had their faults, some of which the 2004 DVD tried to correct. Now you probably think I’m going to join the legions that are boycotting the Blu-Ray release, not a chance. And between you and me they’ll still buy it. They’re Fanboys. They wont be able to resist the power of the dark-side.

With remakes flooding the market at least Lucas controversial revisiting has saved fans from that. Contentiously regardless of tinkering much of what Lucas has done simply enhances the films. And looking back at the original, originals (no, not a typo) as ground breaking at they were I’m content with the digital corrections and replacements. In the same vain as Blade Runner corrections, lip-syncs, removal of wires and stunt doubles to names few it helps solidify the film, even igniting new interest for an new generation with the publicity that comes with it.

King Kong (Two-Disc Special Edition)Watching Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future complete with it’s original optical effects in tact; would a digital bastardised version have destroyed the story? or make the film better? There was a missed opportunity that would have been more fitting than Steven Spielberg’s E.T from guns to walkie-talkie incident but it was Zemeckis and Spielberg’s call respectively. Should 1933’s King Kong be digitally replaced? Well if Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack were still alive and wanted to do so, why not eh? If Spielberg replaced Bruce with a photo realistic shark I must say I’d be happy with that as he’s simply now a distraction from the great performances.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Two-Disc Widescreen Enhanced and Original Theatrical Versions)If the creators are still alive and decided to undertake arguably unorthodox changes let them I say. So long as studios have their blessing.
Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]In Star Wars case you could say the studios and George are missing a money making opportunity especially by not releasing the original trilogy unaltered but is there really a need to go as far as saying Lucas “raped my childhood” as countless bloggers have posted. There’s a lot of hate there.
If you are that cut up about it go and track down the bonus DVD released in the 2 disc special edition. As Yoda put it, “Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Meanwhile the rest of us can watch blinking Ewoks, Vader shouting ‘Nooo’, new monsters and an array of slight correction in peace.

Lolita 1962 Comedy Drama Movie 24x36 POSTER

Trailers date back as early as 1913 and were popularised in the 60’s by Hollywood teasers on TV. One front runner (and it comes as no surprise) was trend-setter Stanley Kubrick with his montage trailers including Lolita and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2001: A Space Odyssey Poster Movie C 11x17 Keir Dullea Gary Lockwood William Sylvester Dan Richter

To think trailers were usually showed in cinema after the credits, it’s easy to see why this didn’t last long. The thing is these days we know too much before we even sit on our seats in the cinema or insert that shiny disc. With barrage of TV spots, teaser-trailers, official trailers, video diaries, Internet snoops, blog posts and sites more often than not we know the in’s and out a year before it’s gets to the big screen. As oppose to once upon a time not so long ago when we’d have to wait over a year for a film to hit Video, or two years for cable and maybe forever for it to reach terrestrial TV if ever.
JANE BADLER 24X36 POSTER PRINT FROM CLASSIC V SERIES
I recently watched the first episode of the second series (season) of ‘V’ and in the final moments an incarnation of one of TV’s best villains appears… Jane Badler’s character Diana. (Now I may have just spoilt it for someone!) see what I mean. Now if I had read it or caught a whiff on the net, it would have ruined for for me. The same reason as I thought it neat when Charlie Sheen cameos in Wall Street 2, Sean Connery appearing at the end of Robin Hood and Ed Norton being in Kingdom of Heaven.  The problem is this, these publications can give a lot away, all just it takes is a photo or a sentence.  The same can be said for magazines featuring soaps and show’s etc. As Grandpa said in The Lost Boys,”…Read the T.V. Guide, you don’t need a T.V.” Never a truer word spoken.

Cloverfield

The ‘industry’ ‘leaks’ things left right and centre, the the amount money spent on consumer research is nobody’s business and is also why we get sheep-like droves of films that have no substance because they are designed like fast-food with no substance but to temporarily appease the masses. I like a cheeky burger as much as the next but at least some-like to put flare into their public communications, even to have some kind of morale, if not clever creative ways to draw us in while not unmasking the whole film. The film Cloverfield showed very little, it’s advertisements tantalising and mysterious. Notably, Spider-Man’s trailer had an entire action sequence, Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s trailer featured an elaborate special effects scene both especially constructed and were never intended to appear in the theatrical release.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day Poster Movie B 11x17 Arnold Schwarzenegger Linda Hamilton Edward Furlong

Maybe it should be made compulsory that only title cards and a 5 second clip are only shown but no doubt some bring spark will let the cat of of the bag. ‘Kevin Spacey is Keyser Söze.’ or ‘There is no Tyler Durden, The Narrator is one and the the same.’
On writing this I can understand Steven Spielburg reluctancy to record director commentaries, but it’s a case now of give the people what they want and I suppose the bottom line is you don’t have to listen the commentaries or watch the making of supplements, if you want to retain that movie magic. Personally I love a great making of, I remember a double video set of Total Recall with a 20 minute making of feature, I though it was the bee-knees. Little did I know in the future we’d have a thing called DVD and Blu-ray.

Al Pacino

Possibly due to the internet and media hunger today’s Hollywood stars are too accessible and are endanger of loosing their mystic, their allure with endless appearances, twitter and the like. Even a frank biography can destroy a hero. One of the worst things I did was read an authorised biography of Al Pacino. It was my own fault, I wont say why but my preconceived ideas were smashed. But on the flip side ‘Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox’ solidified him for me.
The internet is killing off quality publications, the excitement of waiting a month has gone. Why pay a subscription eh or 4.99, just turn on the TV, PC, or smart phone. As Darth Vader would say, “All too easy”.
Monsters Special Edition + Digital Copy [Blu-ray]Like anything else as consumers we want it instantly and in the process we are in danger of destroying what we love. Yes it’s great to have a build up an anticipation, but in our hunger for more we’re distorting that excitement and surprise and are possibly short changing ourselves when you pay money for a ticket to be entertained. And that is why you and I are feeling let down by almost ever film we see. Most recently I caught Monsters expecting another War of the Worlds rehash, District 9, a grounded version of ID4, or even a better version of Skyline but what I got was a love story with aliens as the back drop. For a spilt second I was slightly disappointed and then I came to my senses and felt a little emotion and thought, I quite enjoyed that. Call it unintentional misdirection, a lack of research and/or avoiding marketing for the film, it was something that I didn’t expect.
There’s a reason I just browse over the back sleeve, don’t pay too my attention to trailers or turn off the TV before the teaser to the next episode…. It’s because I like surprises.