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'Jeff Beck - Live at The Hollywood Bowl'
(Jeff Beck / Blu-ray+2CD / NR / 2017 / Eagle Vision)

Overview: In the summer of 2016, Jeff Beck celebrated 50 years of his musical career with a special concert at the famous Hollywood Bowl. The set list reached back to his first recordings with The Yardbirds in 1966 and came right up to date with tracks from his most recent album, Loud Hailer.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, although they must rank in the few, Jeff Beck is an English rock guitarist. He is one of the three noted guitarists to have played with The Yardbirds (the other two being Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page). Beck also formed The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice.

Much of Beck's recorded output has been instrumental, with a focus on innovative sound, and his releases have spanned genres ranging from blues rock, hard rock, jazz fusion, and an additional blend of guitar-rock and electronica.

Although he recorded two hit albums (in 1975 and 1976) as a solo act, Beck has not established or maintained the sustained commercial success of many of his contemporaries and band mates.

Indeed, Beck appears on albums by Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Morrissey, Jon Bon Jovi, Malcolm McLaren, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Zucchero, Cyndi Lauper, Brian May, Stanley Clarke, Screaming Lord Sutch, ZZ Top, and Toots and the Maytals.

As the evening progressed he was joined by many of the great musicians he has collaborated with over the years including Billy F. Gibbons, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Hall, Jan Hammer, Beth Hart and Steven Tyler.

The show climaxed with the guests all joining forces for an exhilarating encore performance of Purple Rain in tribute to Prince, who had passed away a couple of months before the concert.

Blu-ray Track Listing + CD 1:
1) 'The Revolution Will Be Televised'
2) 'Over Under Sideways Down'
3) 'Heart Full Of Soul'
4) 'For Your Love'
5) 'Beck's Bolero'
6) 'Medley: Rice Pudding / Morning Dew'
7) 'Freeway Jam'
8) 'You Never Know'
9) 'Cause We've Ended As Lovers'
10) 'Star Cycle'
11) 'Blue Wind'
12) 'Big Block'

CD 2:
13) 'I'd Rather Go Blind'
14) 'Let Me Love You'
15) 'Live In The Dark'
16) 'Scared For The Children'
17) 'Rough Boy'
18) 'Train Kept A-Rollin'
19) 'Shapes Of Things'
20) 'A Day In The Life'
21) 'Purple Rain'

Running at an incredible one hour and 40 minutes, the 73 year-old Jeff Beck is still as incredible a guitar player as we was in his so called prime. Incorporating some rather excellent duos with Jan Hammer and the amazing Steven Tyler and Billy F. Gibbons, my only whine is that they were all much too short. I wanted them to go on much longer than their gone in the blink of an eye sets.

That said, Beck is a genius guitar player and here surrounded by exceptional talent on stage, let alone the special guests that came and enhanced the occasion, each and every single one of the songs played this night at the famed Hollywood Bowl were untouchable.

Directer and Editor if the video, Jim Yukich, showcases Beck perfectly, never letting this new age need for jaunty camera angles and flash from one musician to another in hot seconds enough to make you dizzy to take center stage. Just trying his best to preserve the magical ebb and flow of Beck and companies rising energy throughout, he lets the music do the talking.

Personally, for me the stand out highlights would include Stevie Wonder's 'Cause We've Ended As Lovers', which has to be quite easily one of the most entertaining tracks that Beck has undertaken, and Steven Tyler's vocal turn on the 1968 beauty 'Shapes of Things.'

Released via Eagle Vision as both a Blu-ray+2CD and a DVD+2CD set, Jeff Beck - Live at The Hollywood Bowl is one of the finest visual and audio releases of this, or the past few years. Buy it now and discover it for yourself. You won't be disappointed. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Night of the Living Dead - 50th Anniversary'
(Judith O'Dea, Duane Jones, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / NR / (1968) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these flesh eating monsters.

DVD Verdict: That's right, boys and ghouls, George A. Romero's cult classic returns for it's 50th Anniversary! The indie horror masterpiece changed movies and the genre forever with its gleaming gore and terrifying twists and now it's been lovingly restored in HD. So prepare for the frightening tale of five strangers struggling for survival against the walking undead, but now in uber crisp Blu-ray!

George A. Romero's 1968 cult classic 'Night of the Living Dead' could arguably be one of the most revolutionary horror films of its time. It may not have been the first zombie film ever made but it's the first one that actually made an impact on popular culture.

On the surface, 'Night of the Living Dead' seems to be a run of the mill horror movie about a group of people hiding out in a farmhouse from these flesh eating beings that have been reanimated from the dead. What's so interesting about this film is its many satirical comments on American culture during the the late 1960's - criticizing society for its racism, its involvement in the Vietnam war, and a general attitude towards women.

George A. Romero chose Duane Jones to play the African-American hero of the film, which up until then was rarely heard of, only to have him [SPOILER!] gunned down in the very end of the film just as he thinks he is finally saved and everything will return to normal.

It's supposed to remind the viewer of all the powerful black males in history that have stood up to their oppressors and revolted against the norms of society only to be assassinated by those who did not agree with their views and beliefs.

The zombies in the film are playing the same role the Vietnamese played in the Vietnam war. They seem to be everywhere and stop at nothing to take over everything in their path. The few humans that are left and trying to survive are the soldiers who were over in Vietnam during the war: they're trapped, they have little resources and have nowhere to run because the enemy they are running from are covering the entire area.

The women in this film are treated as fragile and useless in the situation they are facing. Barbra, portrayed brilliantly by Judith O'Dea begins the film terrified and running from the zombies, only to continue throughout the film helping out in no way possible.

She sits on the couch in shock and rarely responds or has any input to the story line. The only time she ever gets up and takes action is at the end - at which point she is absolutely no help, getting herself taken away (and presumably eaten). Portraying Barbra as silent and unable to help because of her mental state of shock only pointed out how America at the time (and to an extent still does) treat its women as helpless and powerless.

What is so appealing about this film is its ability to have all of these powerful, underlying themes while simultaneously coming off as a meaningless Friday night "Let's go to the drive-in!" B-horror movies of the 1960's. It has the ability to let you just sit down and enjoy it without having to think too heavily about its themes and context. It's a film that can be enjoyed and appreciated by both the brainless teenagers of America and the most analytical of film critics. This is an original Full Screen Presentation (1.37:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and featuring a brand new 2K Transfer.

The Real Story: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(DVD / G / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Separate science fact from science fiction as we re-examine government documents and put old witness testimonies to the test using modern technology.

DVD Verdict: We all have heard of, and most likely seen the 1977 epic movie of the same name as this new PBS/Smithsonian documentary, but all these years later, now we get the chance to watch as a lot of witness testimonies and such are laid bare for today's experts to re-analyze with new technology.

The movie was an instant smash when it hit the theaters forty years ago and reawakened man's obsession with the eternal question: "Are we alone in the universe?" Though a work of fantasy, few realize that Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic was actually inspired by real-life witness testimony, as well as a series of UFO sightings in Michigan in the summer of 1966.

Separate science fact from science fiction as we re-examine government documents and put old witness testimonies to the test using modern technology. Running at only 45 minutes, 'The Real Story: Close Encounters of the Third Kind' is most certainly worthy of all Sci-Fi lovers' time, but originally released in 2011, most all may well have already seen it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Real Story: Scream'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: The gore fest may seem like Hollywood fiction, but it was actually inspired by a real-life killing spree that sent an idyllic Florida town into a panic.

DVD Verdict: We all have heard of, and most likely seen the 1996 movie of the same name as this new PBS/Smithsonian documentary, but all these years later, now we get the chance to learn that it was all based on the true story of a Florida town killing spree - something I actually had zero knowledge about, in all truth!

The movie was an instant smash when it hit the theaters twenty-one years ago and spawned four sequels before it came to a halt in 2011. Word has it though that a fifth 'Scream' has been planned for a while now, but since the passing of Wes Craven, along with a TV series that was good or bad, depending on who you asked, that all seems to have, pardon the pun, died down now, once again.

As for this PBS/Smithsonian big reveal about the real-life crime spree behind the original movie, it focuses on the true events behind the parallels between the fictional serial killer and the real-life serial killer: The Gainesville Ripper.

We quickly learn, given that this documentary only runs for 45 minutes, that Danny Harold Rolling (May 26, 1954 – October 25, 2006) - later to be known as the Gainesville Ripper - was an American who was arrested for being a serial killer who had murdered five students in Gainesville, Florida in 1989.

Indeed, Rolling later confessed to raping several of his victims, committing an additional November 4, 1989, triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana, and attempting to murder his father in May 1990. In total, Rolling confessed to killing eight people. Rolling was sentenced to death for the murders in 1994. He was executed by lethal injection in 2006. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'FRONTLINE: Life On Parole'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 'Frontline: Life on Parole' follows former prisoners through the challenges of their first year on parole. With unique access, the film goes inside the effort to change the way parole works in Connecticut and reduce the number of people returning to prison.

DVD Verdict: Around half of all the inmates put on parole in the U.S. end up violating the terms of their release and are sent back to prison. But across the country, states are trying to change the way their parole systems work in an effort to lower recidivism rates and reduce prison populations.

In PBS's 'Life on Parole', FRONTLINE and The New York Times go inside one state, Connecticut, to examine its ongoing effort to rethink parole: a condition that offers a taste of freedom but comes with strict prohibitions on whom you can live with, where you can go, what time you have to be home, and more.

With unique access inside Connecticut's corrections system, as well as camera-phone footage filmed by the parolees themselves, the film follows ten former prisoners as they navigate the challenges of more than a year on parole - from finding work, to staying sober, to parenting - and doing it all while under intense supervision from the state.

How it all began is that Matthew O’Neill, a documentary filmmaker at DCTV, and the PBS series FRONTLINE came to The New York Times with a proposal to follow people closely, for a year, as they got out of prison. Connecticut, bravely, had agreed to give Matt unusual access which enabled PBS's Frontline team to follow the aforementioned 10 subjects. Now, I won't give away any of the "results", but people such as Erroll Brantley Jr., whoc was also a headline subject matter for PBS around the same time as this was filmed, make some interesting choices when back oustide, that's for sure.

More than two years in the making, 'Life on Parole' is a remarkable, firsthand look at why some people stay out of jail, why some go back, and how one state is trying to break the cycle of recidivism. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Abacus: Small Enough to Jail'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: From Steve James, 'Abacus: Small Enough to Jail' tells the saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud, the indictment and trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves and their bank's legacy in the Chinatown community over the course of a five-year legal battle.

DVD Verdict: The last time acclaimed filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) collaborated with FRONTLINE, the result was, The Interrupters — the gripping documentary about former street criminals in Chicago who place themselves in the line of fire to stop shootings and killings in their communities.

Now James has turned his lens on people in a different kind of struggle: the Sungs, a Chinese American family whose Abacus Federal Savings Bank was the only U.S. bank indicted for mortgage fraud related to the 2008 financial crisis.

The film examines the case against the bank, hearing from prosecutors, jurors, defense lawyers, and the bank’s founder, Thomas Sung, his wife Hwei Lin, and their daughters, who James filmed over a year as they fought to clear their names.

In truth, the case was little covered at the time, and while its outcome is a matter of public record, James prefers that reviewers not reveal whether the verdict was guilty, innocent, or mixed. That's because his Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a compelling non-fiction thriller. It should engross most viewers, even those who've resisted learning what a subprime mortgage is.

As it happens, Abacus didn't deal in subprime. The Chinatown-based bank also didn't package its mortgages into the sort of financial instruments that made The Big Short's machinations so arcane. In fact, the bank had one of the lowest default rates in the country.

The problem was a loan officer, Ken Yu, who asked borrowers for bribes and falsified income statements for mortgage applications. His activities were hard to track, because, as the film explains, Chinatown residents are more likely to make cash transactions than the average American consumer. Also, Yu spoke a dialect that even most of his fellow Abacus employees didn't understand.

I won't give any more away as there is still a twist and turn to come in this gripping story, a story of whether or a not a whole family never knew if their lives were to be finished in jail. That said, cinematically, the most important piece of the legal story is a juror who was inclined to vote guilty. Her recollections keep the narrative taut until what, in Frank Capra's day, was termed the final reel. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and also comes with Mandarin Subtitles.

'Visions of the Great Cities of Europe'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: From Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Czech Republic, 'Visions: The Great Cities of Europe' samples a variety of cultures like no guidebook could portray.

DVD Verdict: In truth, I've never seen anything quite like this before! Visiting a collection of already-beautiful, stunning even cities is one thing, but to do it all from above, giving us so many wider perspectives to the tight streets and cramped market places is unlike any programming idea that I've ever encountered before.

So a hearty bravo to PBS and whomever came up with this idea as it was a complete and utter doozy of one, that's for sure. Here in 'Visions of the Great Cities of Europe', from the air we see the majestic architecture of Vienna, the incomparable coastline of the Cote d'Azur, the timeless monuments of Rome, and even a spectacular view of Mary Poppins' foggy ol' London town.

OK, sure, there's some boots on the ground footage that brings us a native's view of Amsterdam's bicycle culture and winding canals and Prague's Old Town Square, but the completely, totally unobtrusive narration is like a well-traveled friend giving you insider tips about where to go and what to see. This latest edition to the whole Visions catalogue is a great, and unique one and I hope you'll love it as much as I did. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Great British Baking Show - Season 4'
(Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Follow the trials and tribulations of passionate amateur bakers whose goal is to be named the UK's best here in the fourth season (seventh in the UK) of the show.

DVD Verdict: 'The Great British Bake Off', often referred to as 'Bake Off' or 'GBBO', is a British television baking competition which selects from amongst its contestants the best amateur baker. The series was presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, and judged by cookery writer Mary Berry and professional baker Paul Hollywood. It has been broadcast under the name 'The Great British Baking Show' here in the United States, as Pillsbury owns the Bake-Off trademark in the US.

Each season follows the trials and tribulations of passionate amateur bakers whose goal is to be named the UK's best. Each week, the bakers tackle a different skill, the difficulty of which increases as the competition unfolds, judged by British cooking/baking icons, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

OK, now is where it's going to get even more confusing, so hold on tight. For not only is it well known in the UK as the aforementioned 'The Great British Bake Off', but the recently released "Season 1" DVD set from PBS was actually the UK's Season 5 series! The "Season 2" DVD was actually the UK's Season 4! And in yet another twist in the tale, "Season 3" released over here was actually the UK's Season 6!

So, in this particular "Season 4" (was is actually the UK's season 7, if you're still following along at home), filmed at Welford Park in Berkshire, there are once again twelve amateur bakers taking part. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood return as judges, whilst Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc continue to present the series.

If you love this show as much as the British do, you'll also know that each week the bakers tackle a different skill, the difficulty of which increases as the competition unfolds. Judged by the aforementioned Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, the show is a delicacy of edible viewing quite like nothing I've ever witnessed before. So, do not go into watching it with an empty stomach, trust me!

. The 10 episodes included are: Cake - Biscuits - Bread - Batter - Pastry - Botanical - Desserts - Tudor - Pâtisserie - The Final.

Each episode brings challenges in three categories: a Signature Bake, to test the contestants' creative flair and baking ability; a Technical Bake, in which challengers receive basic recipes with ingredient lists and minimal instruction; and the Showstopper Bake, designed to display depth of skill and talent.

As for some additional fun information, although not included here (sorry), a spin-off UK show 'The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice', hosted by comedian Jo Brand on BBC Two, was also launched as a companion series the same year. Each episode was broadcast two days after the main show, but later moved to the same night. The show includes interviews with eliminated contestants and was a big hit with the British viewers.

As I hope it also does with you, 'The Great British Baking Show' aka 'The Great British Bake Off' has most definitely inspired me and my friends to get several cookbooks for my young daughters. They have enjoyed improving their skills while producing tasty foods also, as I can confirm due to what my own daughter chose to cook for our family last night!

Whenever I watch this show I find it all, in the nicest possible way, all very quaint. And so whilst learning a few new cooking tips you also get entertained and dazzled by the wide range of possible things you yourself could make.

In conclusion, wonderful, informative and witty describes this awesome program from across the pond. I absolutely fell in love with this show because not only are the hosts and judges funny and helpful in their critiques, the contestants bring all sorts of ideas and personalities into the mix.

I have learned so much about classical cakes and baking techniques just by watching the episodes. I love learning about the history of dishes and this PBS show mixes in a little history with each new competition. Here's hoping that PBS can bring out the other seasons of this wondrous show - no matter in what order they choose! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Mouse and Mole at Christmas Time'
(Animation / DVD / G / 2017 / PBS-SkipRope)

Overview: 'Mouse and Mole at Christmas Time' is a beautifully animated story about two friends who live together in a cottage in the country.

DVD Verdict: So, living together in a lovely little cozy cottage made for two, Mouse is the practical and cheerful one whilst Mole always gets himself into trouble and needs looking after.

But they work nicely together regardless and are very, very good friends. After delivering Twelfth Night party invitations to their friends, Mouse makes a "snow-mole" for Mole who dreams that his new snow-mole comes to life and takes him to a land where his every wish is granted!

So, here in this episode, we watch to see if Mole learns to be careful what he wishes for or will it all go according to his plan? Also containing nine other cheerful bonus animated tales (so ten in all, of course), all of them are chock full of wise and witty conversations whilst at the same time being filled with timeless, softly-animated charm.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, which runs for 35 minutes, and comes with the following 10 episodes: 'Preposterous Puddle', 'Daffodil', 'Least Expecting', 'Picnic', 'Whiskers', 'Half a Banana', 'Catch a Falling Leaf', 'Spectacles', 'A Frisky Fluttery Ghost', and 'The Secret of Happiness'.

'It's Potty Time!'
(Animation / DVD / G / 2017 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Tackle potty training with some of your favorite PBS KIDS friends!

DVD Verdict: Yep, it's about that time, boys and girls! For if your kids are just of an age where it's either becoming a chore to teach them how to use their potty, or they are doing it all wrong (!), PBS Kids are here to help!

On this four story DVD we get two (2) episodes that include such a trial and tribulation from Daniel Tiger's friend Prince Wednesday and when Daniel himself first begins to use the potty. Along with that pairing we also get one from Peg + Cat and one from, believe it or not, Dinosaur Train.

So, in the first two we Daniel Tiger's friend Prince Wednesday learns how important it is to stop and go potty right away, whilst in a separate episode Daniel himself shows he knows that a potty is for also. Peg + Cat show Big Mouth the six steps of going potty, and Buddy and Tiny discover that all creatures poop, even really big dinosaurs!

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, which runs for 60 minutes, and comes with the following 4 episodes: 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Prince Wednesday Goes to the Potty', 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Daniel Goes to the Potty', 'Peg + Cat: The Potty Problem', and 'Dinosaur Train: Dinosaur Poop!'

Daniel Tigers Neighborhood King Daniel for the Day
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Four-year-old Daniel Tiger invites young viewers directly into his world, giving them a kid's eye view of his life and making them feel like one of his neighbors.

DVD Verdict: For those of you that are not aware, 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood' is an animated continuation to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, where all the original characters are now grown up with their own preschool-aged children.

Personally, I loved Mr. Rogers Neighborhood as a kid, and although this is a very different, more modern show, I am pleased to see the good moral underlining and joy that this show brings to him while still keeping true to the same themes.

I love the little songs that have more meaning than rhyme and the lessons in the show along with the story lines.

Contained in this brand new DVD are seven (7) grr-ific tales: 'King Daniel for the Day', 'Prince Wednesday's Happy Birthday', 'The Neighborhood Fall Festival', 'Daniel Takes Care of Snowball', 'Looking for Snowball', 'Sharing at the Library', and 'Daniel Shares with Margaret'.

In the first of these cute and lovely episodes, and an extended adventure at that, we discover what it's like to be royalty with Daniel Tiger! When Daniel is declared "King for the Day" by King Friday, he sends Daniel on a royal mission to Baker Aker's bakery and Music Man Stan's shop.

Whilst out in the neighborhood completing King Friday's list, Daniel learns that the most important part of being king is helping others and being kind to your neighbors!

But there's more, as aforementioned, for also on this rather tigertastic DVD, Daniel also helps celebrate Prince Wednesday's birthday, shares a book at the library with O the Owl, and takes care of the class pet!

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood so come join Daniel Tiger and friends as they have a whole lot of fun and learn life's little lessons. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Odd Squad Villains - The Best of the Worst'
(DVD / G / 2017 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Join the agents of Odd Squad as they use their math and problem-solving skills to defeat evil villains and set things right!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, The Odd Squad is a government agency that’s run by kids! Their mission is to investigate and rectify strange occurrences and to keep everyone safe. All of the agents have names that begin with the letter “O”.

Field agents Otto, Olive, and their boss Miss O., are in each of the four (4) episodes on this 55-minute "best of" DVD. As the title suggests, each episode is villain themed and so as our heroes come up against the best of the worst each time, they have to not only use math logic to solve the perplexing mysteries in their neighborhood, but set themselves free also!

When the Puppet Master turns a group of people including Otto and Olive into puppets, will the Odd Squad agents be able to crack the case and turn themselves back into humans? Three other fun-filled stories find the Odd Squad team trying to stop Odd Todd from turning townspeople and agents invisible, preventing villain Fladam from destroying the city's cubes, and recovering Ms. O's very important briefcase from the Shape Shifter!

'The Odd Squad' is a live-action series with the goal of helping kids ages 5-8 learn math. And for that reason alone, my boy enjoyed this show and its wacky humor tremendously! Besides entertaining, it teaches logic and math concepts like fractions and graphing/charting.

I highly recommend this DVD to all parents of children interested in math, or otherwise. Either way it will definitely, 100% keep them occupied watching The Odd Squad figure things out - and you also, most likely! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Happy Holidays, Garfield!'
(DVD / G / 2017 / PBS Kids)

Overview: In 'Happy Holidays, Garfield!' we join the ever-loveable character Garfield for two fun-filled holiday tales!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Garfield is an American comic strip created by Jim Davis. Published since 1978, it chronicles the life of the title character, the cat Garfield; Jon, his owner; and Jon's dog, Odie.

Having since progressed from those days through life as a car suction toy for your windows, a soft toy to pull the draw string back on to hear talk, and even creating his very own Twitter account, the Garfield universe has expanded year after year.

And now we have a rather fun 50 minute long new DVD from PBS/SkipRope entitled 'Happy Holidays, Garfield!' Containing two (2) adorable tales, we first get "Garfield's Thanksgiving" where Jon Arbuckle invites veterinarian Liz to celebrate Thanksgiving with him, Garfield, and Odie!

But Jon has no clue how to prepare a Thanksgiving meal and even worse - Liz declares that Garfield must be put on a diet ... on the day before Thanksgiving! Will anyone come to the rescue and cook a delicious dinner for Jon and Liz?

In "A Garfield Christmas Special", Garfield gives Grandma love notes he found that were written by her husband, from when they first met. That thoughtful gift shows Garfield that Christmas isn't about eating lasagna or receiving presents - it's about spending time with your family and making others happy!

So do yourself, and your kids, of course, the favor this holiday season of buying this wonderful DVD and settling in for the evening with both these two fun-filled holiday episodes from the beloved Garfield! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Death Grip - 10 Action Movies'
(Sachin Mehta, Kristina Klebe, Kyrie Maezumi, Gina Gershon, Vincent D'Onofrio, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Welcome to 10 examples of bone-crushing, adrenaline-fueled action movies!

DVD Verdict: First off is The Advocate - (2013) - Color - Not Rated - Sachin Mehta, Kristina Klebe, Michael Raynor - Gifted defense attorney Ray Shekar (Mehta) finds himself in the middle of a twisted game of who-done-it when his curiosity prompts him to take on the case of Allyson Daugherty (Kristina Klebe), a socialite accused of murdering her husband.

'The Advocate' is a terrific criminal mystery film produced on a limited budget and excels in both categories. This film was well paced, with continual twists and turns that keep you fully engaged. Sachin Meta agonizes throughout, yet at times is also cool and in charge and at other times determined and doomed in his search for absolute justice.

Is Kristine Klebe a beautiful heroine or is she a murderer; her story plays with you, at times you are sympathetic and at other times you are suspicious or disbelieving. It is a fascinating journey.

The comes Legacy - (2011) - Color - Not Rated - Kyrie Maezumi, Will Wallace, Oscar Torre, Alysa Schulz - Ari Larsen has resurfaced after a five year absence, still harboring the memories of a scarred childhood. Kidnapped at the age of eleven by her serial killer father, Professor David Larsen, and taken on a three week odyssey of murder and savagery, Ari was left abandoned in the desert. One horrifying fact remains; her father has never been captured.

It truly is a fun throwback to the Hitchcock school of suspense. Very little blood, very high intensity. Ms. Brown, a knockout and hugely talented British actress, plays Tandi Lewis, a no nonsense Shock Journalist with a quick wit that leaves everyone she encounters a bit worse for wear. The character of Rick Larsen, the hapless sheriff pulled into a storm of bad news by a hot younger woman, is played with a fine flare by Will Wallace.

Next up is Mall - (2015) - Color – R - Cameron Monaghan, India Menuez, Gina Gershon, Vincent D'Onofrio - Malcom's done with his life. Only the noise of Crystal Meth gives him a reason to keep going. Equipped with a bag full of weapons and self-made bombs, he makes his way to the nearby mall to really stir things up.

Then comes Night Drive - (2011) - Color - Not Rated - Christopher Beasley, Brandon Auret, Corine du Toit, Leroy Gopal - Against the tranquil backdrop of a game reserve, South African thriller Night Drive tracks a group of tourists left stranded during a night-time game drive after their vehicle breaks down.

Next up is the title piece, Death Grip - (2014) - Color - Not Rated - Eric Jacobus, Johnny Yong Bosch, Rebecca Ahn - Johnny Yong Bosch (Bleach, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Broken Path) and Eric Jacobus (Contour, Dogs of Chinatown) star in this year’s hardest-hitting martial arts action thriller!

Featuring action by acclaimed director Eric Jacobus and The Stunt People, “the premier action team” (Kung Fu Cinema), Death Grip is not your typical martial arts action film - it will keep you in its grasp until the very end!

Then we get The New Republic - (2012) - Color - Not Rated - Owen Beckman, Anthony Tyler Quinn, Jake Tawney, Jeremy Ratchford - New Angeles, the isolated crime capitol of L.A., is home to David Kosinski, a young writer expelled from college and sentenced to house arrest. In solitude his politically charged blogging soon strikes a nerve with the leader of an underground nationalist group. Merely stirring the pot the majority of his life, David’s final decision is now a matter of life and death.

Next is Nobody Can Cool - (2013) - Color - Not Rated - Catherine Annette, Nick Principe - This is a suspenseful thriller of a young couple, Susan and David, who travel to the mountains for the weekend where they find their borrowed cabin already occupied. Tensions and secrets fueled by fear, greed, and suppressed hostility bubble over, and the pending arrival of an unknown danger becomes a test of survival.

If you are tired of mainstream Hollywood movies, but afraid of boring indies, here's one for you. Not a remake, reboot, or sequel, this is an ambitious and slick little thriller that sneaks up on you, draws you in, and takes you for a ride. The plot is tight and clever, and the dialogue is snappy and peppered with hard boiled humor.

Then there's Lost Dream - (2009) - Color - Not Rated - Michael Welch, Shaun Sipos - Emotionally distraught and depressed, Perry Roberts (Michael Welch) has lost faith in all the things he held true – and engages in an emotional roller coaster fueled by drugs and a dangerous game of Russian roulette.

Be forewarned, there are scenes that may make people feel uncomfortable. Not-so- glamorous scenes of emotional outbursts, drug use, selfishness and downright "douche bag" behavior! But I still found both characters to be very likable and magnetic to watch and it's all rounded out by a cool, and very befitting soundtrack.

Next is The Silent Thief - (2014) - Color - Not Rated - Toby Hemingway, Scout Taylor-Compton, John Billingsley, Frances Fisher - This is a psychological thriller that examines familial bonds, the human need to belong and the thin line between sanity and insanity.

For my money, and even though this is the weakest of the ten movies, Toby Hemingway does a really good role using not only possibilities of character but his nuances also. The theme will be familiar to people who watch these types of films, 'The Hand That Rocks The Cradle' is broadly similar, the stranger who invades a home by stealth and gradually morphs into one of its residents while tearing it apart.

Last, but not least, we have Who is Delsin? - (2013) - Color - Not Rated - Ricky Wayne, Emilio Roso, Steven Bauer, Joseph R. Gannascoli - In July 2009, Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist Gerard Martinez walked into the Tampa Bay Museum of art and opened fire. He mercilessly killed men, women, and children before turning the gun on himself. The event came to be known as one of the bloodiest crimes in Tampa Bay history. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.78:1/1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Purgation - 10 Horror Films'
(Lance Hendrickson, Mandy Levin, Catherine McCormack, Suzy Cote, Kat Johnston, Brian Krause, Matt Thompson, Kimberly Alexander, Jesse Kristofferson, Erica Leerhsen, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Welcome to 10 examples of There's no place like Hell horror films!

DVD Verdict: First off is All Alone - (2012) – Color – Not Rated - Mandy Levin, Suzy Cote, Brice Williams, David Haydn-Jones - Two couples embark on an overnight camping trip to get away from the confines of the city and escape to the solitude of the mountains where secrets are revealed and desperation fuels an irreversible chain of events.

The directing is simple yet has a very distinct beauty. This is a not a movie full of special effects, and eye trickery, but it is a strong thriller built for the soul and the mind.

Next up is the title film The Purgation - (2015) – Color – Not Rated - Tiffany Kieu, Kat Johnston, Kate Dauphin, Tom Walsh - Iris thinks she's going crazy. To stay sane, she must confront her past by revisiting the site of a childhood trauma - the old county asylum.

This was quite the decent, if wholly flawed effort. One of the films' better aspects is the fact that this one goes for the rather strong sense of atmosphere and suspense in this one which manages to really make this creepier than expected.

Among the better aspects of this is the film's great opening, where it shows the making-of one of their home videos in the asylum where the creepy, chilling atmosphere located in the dark, dirty location is taken to a nice extreme. The location and setting alongside the fact that they're shooting the film there does the nice thing of putting kids in danger. Effective from moment number one, but sadly the present day remains of the movie don't follow suit.

The comes Ashes - (2012) – Color – Not Rated - Brian Krause, Kadeem Hardison, Richard Gant, Barbara Nedeljakova - A brilliant, obsessive doctor working on a cure for AIDS unwittingly invents an aggressive new bacteria that deteriorates the body and enrages the mind.

Next up is Bloodline - (2013) – Color – R - Matt Thompson, Kimberly Alexander, Jesse Kristofferson - Seminary student Brett Ethos falls away from the church and his faith, only to find out that his bloodline is sought by real evil.

Originally called 'The Cabin', this is an indie horror flick with something a little more ambitious than the normal nonsense: an 18th century historical back story that makes sense for once. Unfortunately, this part of the film occupies little of the running time, and it all quickly descends into the usual cabin in the woods-type nonsense with lame characters being bumped off by villains unknown.

Then comes All God’s Creatures - (2011) – Color – Not Rated - Josh Folan, Jessica Kaye, Ginger Kroll, Molly Fahey - Creature of habit, Jon Smith (Josh Folan - “All My Children”, Ay Lav Yu, The Graduates) spends his days mindlessly working as a barista in New York City. When night falls, this seeming everyman savagely kills “filthy women” as his social outlet.

Next is Billy’s Cult - (2014) – Color – Not Rated - Debbie Rochon, Lou Martini Jr, Suzi Lorraine, Donovan Kern, Anthony Grasso - Billy’s Cult takes us into the demented mind of Billy, (Donovan Kern) a ruthless killer unlike any other seen before. Detectives Gates (Lou Martini Jr.) and Steele (Debbie Rochon) are in pursuit of this killer, trying to put an end to the killing spree, while at the same time, attempting to exorcise their own inner demons.

Then we get Phobia - (2013) – Color – Not Rated - Erica Leerhsen, Chase Ryan Jeffrey, Matthew Tompkins, Jonathan Brooks - In 1885, a female doctor helping a group of people with their phobias becomes embroiled in a murder mystery surrounding a patient that may or may not be a vampire.

For some reason they wanted to set this film in Paris. Problem is, anybody who has ever been in Paris or watched films that represent it well, like recent Woody Allen one, will have hard time finding this setting believably represented either culturally or historically.

If you get by that part, the fake French accents these people are using are so horrible that even if their acting was not absolutely atrocious it would ruin the film! The worst film of the bunch, as if French accents were not bad enough, "vampires" speak with badly done "Dracula" accent (weird fake Hungarian that sounds nothing like actual Transylvania accent, and more like bad Polish accent!).

Next up is Summer School - (2006) – Color – Not Rated - Simon Wallace, Amy Cocchiarella, Tony D. Czech, Lance Hendrickson - Charlie is a teenage horror buff and even runs his own movie review website. He soon finds himself in a series of all-too realistic nightmares that look an awful lot like his movies. His grip on reality loosens as it becomes impossible to tell whether he’s awake or asleep.

Then comes Vanished - (2013) – Color – Not Rated - Stephen Carracher, Carolyn Bock, Cassandra Magrath - This is a gripping psychological thriller dealing with child kidnapping and how far a parent will go seeking revenge.

In my humble opinion, 'Vanished' is a very well crafted and produced little movie. Anyone that cannot follow the plot should have a second look. I thought for a first time writer /director it was a fine effort. All of the actors are new to me and did their bit admirably. Definitely worth a watch if you like a good who-dunnit movie.

Finally we get Stevie - (2008) – Color – PG-13 - Catherine McCormack, Jordi Mollá, Ida Jorgensen, Silvia Tortosa - After a long and unsuccessful period trying to have a family, Claire (Catherine McCormack) and Adrián (Jordi Mollá) finally adopt a girl. The coming of Isabel is desired by the whole family, but making a six-year-old girl with a past of her own fit into her new life might be something more complicated than they expected. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.78:1/1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Vincent Price Collection - 5 Frightening Features
(Vincent Price, et al / DVD + Digital / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Welcome to five films featuring one of the Masters Of Horror! Delve into the world of Vincent Price – experience films from the man that made Horror a work of art!

DVD Verdict: For those not quite in the horror know, Vincent Price was an American actor, well known for his distinctive voice and performances in horror films. His career spanned other genres, including film noir, drama, mystery, thriller, and comedy.

He appeared on stage, television, radio, and more than one hundred films. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for motion pictures, and one for television. Born and raised in the Saint Louis, Missouri, area, Price also has a star on the Saint Louis Walk of Fame.

First off we get the best of the bunch with House On Haunted Hill (1959) - A wealthy man offers a hefty amount of money to a select five people that concur to being trapped in a haunted rental house overnight.

This classic version of 'House on Haunted Hill' is one of the most entertaining examples of the low-budget, black-and-white horror films that used to be such a mainstay for movie fans. It has few frills, but it does have some thrills, and in particular it has a cleverly written story that is told at a brisk pace, with a good deal of interesting and pleasingly macabre detail.

Next up is Last Man on Earth (1964) – Illness reforms any spark of human life into living dead, and the last man left on Earth is forced to set out as a vampire hunter.

The black-and-white cinematography is as stark and minimalistic as the story (and, admittedly, the budget). The exterior scenes set in a deserted Los Angeles - well, actually Rome, shot in the early morning - are often quite effective in mirroring his internal desolation. Cast and crew alike do an excellent job with the material, despite the monetary constraints.

Then comes Shock (1946) – After a woman witnesses a man commit murder, she is locked into a private asylum to face her psychological issues – but the one who admitted her may be the one who indefinitely needs help.

Although somewhat of a potboiler and a bit short on running time per today's standards, 'Shock' is a tightly scripted, directed and acted thriller. As usual, Price is at the top of his game here, and any Price fans who haven't seen this film yet will want to check it out. The rest of the cast is also fantastic, and Anabel Shaw particularly stands out when she's on screen.

Then we get The Bat (1959) – When psycho killer, “The Bat,” escapes, he runs loose in a mansion filled with people.

The Bat, while no Citizen Kane, is still a lot of fun. It gives some very good talent the opportunity to ham it up (Vincent Price made a career of it) while providing some rather rare brutal killings in a 50's movie. Price is brilliant as usual.

Check out the moment when Agnes Moorhead mentions that the Bat is looking for money and that it's probably in the house. Price knows where the money is (talked about early on so no plot spoil) and his eyes lilt ever so slighty when Moorhead talks about it. A great subtle moment from a great actor. Last, but not least is The Jackals (1967) – The heart does in fact, speak louder than the mind – convicted bank robber is after a gold miner, but quickly falls in love with his granddaughter, leading to a change of plans.

'Yellow Sky' (1948) was one of the better American westerns of its era. It was also one of Gregory Peck's better starring roles. So, it's a tall order to try to remake the picture, though 'The Jackals' does a better job than I expected - especially since it mostly stars folks you probably won't recognize.

Aside from Vincent Price (who should not have been listed first in the billing, but goes by the wonderful character name of Oupa Decker), the rest are actors we probably wouldn't recognize here in the States. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1/2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Trick or Treat - Spooktacular Collection'
(Animation / DVD + Digital / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Ghouls, Goblins and Ghosts are Running Amok In This Frightfully Fun Family Collection!

DVD Verdict: This spooktacular collection of 13 tales filled with ghosts, goblins, and ghouls is most definitely one that families can enjoy together this Halloween.

Featuring Casper, the friendly ghost, dragons, mummies, Ichabod Crane, and more, once you unwrap it and slip the disc into your DVD players, prepare for a night of boo-tiful animated fun!

Featuring the voices of James Earl Jones, John Carradine, Claire Bloom, Michael York and so many more, the tales that unfold here in this great Halloween collection are:

The Storybook Series - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ghost in the Shed, Noises in the Night, Misunderstood Monsters, Three Golden Hairs, The Boy Who Couldn't Shiver

Casper - There's Good Boos Tonight , The Friendly Ghost, Boo Moon, A Haunting We Will Go

Fleischer Studio Classics - The Cobweb Hotel, The Fresh Vegetable Mystery, Magic Mummy

These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Coach - The Complete Series'
(Craig T. Nelson, Shelley Fabares, Jerry Van Dyke, Bill Fagerbakke, Clare Carey, et al / 18-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Team up with Craig T. Nelson in his Primetime Emmy® Award-winning role as Hayden Fox, the curmudgeonly coach of Minnesota State University's Screaming Eagles football team, as he tries to navigate his way through the sports world, fatherhood and family life without dropping the ball.

DVD Verdict: OK, for those not quite in the know, 'Coach' was an American sitcom that aired for nine seasons on ABC from February 28, 1989 to May 14, 1997, with a total of 200 half-hour episodes.

The series stars Craig T. Nelson as Hayden Fox, head coach of the fictional Division I-A college football team the Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles. For the last two seasons, Coach Fox and the supporting characters coached the Orlando Breakers, a fictional National Football League expansion team.

The program also starred Jerry Van Dyke as Luther Van Dam and Bill Fagerbakke as Michael "Dauber" Dybinski, assistant coaches under Fox. The role of Hayden's girlfriend (and later wife) Christine Armstrong, a television news anchor, was played by Shelley Fabares.

In 2015, NBC ordered a sequel series to Coach, set to focus on Hayden Fox's son, with Craig T. Nelson reprising his role as Hayden. However, on August 31, NBC scrapped its plans to air the series.

So, what about this 21-Disc Box-Set of pure, unadulterated Must See Television do you feel I need to fill you in on, my lovely readers? How about we start at the top and work our way down.

The first episode was dedicated to the memory of John C. Chulay. There, how about them apples! Wait, you don't know who Chulay was? OK, well, John C. Chulay was born on April 9th, 1923 in Indiana, USA as John Cornell Chulay and was an assistant director and production manager for many a TV show.

This was a great show. Craig T. Nelson is a very funny man and this show was deservedly one of the most popular during its long run. Nelson played Hayden Fox, a football coach for the Minnesota Screaming Eagles, at a college, Minnesota State. He had a girlfriend; anchorwoman Christine Armstrong played by veteran singer Shelly Fabares, a daughter Kelly and her boyfriend and later husband Stewart.

The real stars of the show were the people he worked with though. Jerry Van Dyke, brother of Dick van Dyke played Luther, Hayden's assistant coach, Dauber was another assistant coach who was also a student that never seemed to graduate and the not too frequently seen Howard Burleigh the goofy athletic director that let Hayden get by with a whole lot.

Hayden was essentially a nice guy, but he also had many flaws. He was sexist, self centered, obnoxious, basically a football coach. He was an Archie Bunker for his time, but not near as edgy of course. He was always trying to control the lives of his daughter, his girlfriend and his friends at work.

The show had so many great lines. The writing was great as there was never a week character even people that were in one or two episodes. I thought the weakest characters in the show was his girlfriend and his daughter who were mostly just background noise to his work where the real great gags were. Luther was so great. He was such an odd character he almost made the show.

The best episode of the 200 that aired, in my humble opinion, was the one when we learned of Howard Burleigh's society the Society of Loons. The loon is actually a bird the group is named after. I thought I was going to die when I heard the members scream `LOOOOONNNN!' That is classic. I love how Hayden Fox seems to always be at odds with someone whether it is someone that is a bit on the artsy side, an administrator, one of Christine's friends or almost anyone he chooses.

The show works because the dialogue is not forced. The writing was near perfect. All of them had near perfect lines, except for his girlfriend and his daughter who eventually drifted away from the show. The show lost a lot of its charm when Hayden moved to the pros and coached a team in Florida. It was still funny, but not as good as it once was.

Still this is a great show - that also featured special guest appearances by Troy Aikman, Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Frank Gifford, Johnny Unitas, Bobby Vinton and so many more - and so I'm thrilled that Mill Creek Home Entertainment have now released it as this insanely great priced 18-Disc Box-Set. It's a classic and I know you will think that also once you have purchased this Box-Set for yourselves.

FYI: 1) The 'Coach' theme song was performed by the Iowa State University Cyclone Football "Varsity" Marching Band. The Iowa State band was the winner of a national contest for the right to play the piece for TV.

FYI: 2) At the beginning of each episode, the phrase "'Coach' is filmed before a studio audience" is said by Shelley Fabares. For the "Pilot" episode, this phrase was spoken by Clare Carey. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Friday Night Lights - The Complete Series'
(Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden, Taylor Kitcsh, Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Porter, Jesse Plemons, Michael B. Jordan, et al / 13-Disc Blu-ray / PG-13 / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Coach Eric Taylor is the newest hire at a small town high school in Dillon, Texas. After a series of events leading to his release, Taylor is forced to build a football team from the ground up at the rival high school.

His wife Tami, high school principal, faces scrutiny of her own as she takes constant blame from angry parents. But even through the hardships at work, challenges at home with teen daughter Julie, and endless drama, only one thing matters: Friday night.

DVD Verdict: OK, for those not quite in the know, 'Friday Night Lights' was an American drama television series about a high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas.

It was developed by Peter Berg and executive produced by Brian Grazer, David Nevins, Sarah Aubrey and Jason Katims, based on the 1990 nonfiction book by H. G. Bissinger, adapted as the 2004 film of the same name.

The series' primary setting, Dillon, is a small, close-knit community in rural Texas. Team coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his family, Tami, Julie and Grace, are featured. The show uses this small-town backdrop to address many issues facing contemporary American culture, including family values, school funding, racism, drugs, abortion and lack of economic opportunities.

Produced by NBCUniversal, 'Friday Night Lights' premiered on October 3, 2006, and aired for two seasons on NBC. Although the show had garnered critical acclaim and passionate fans, the series suffered low ratings and was in danger of cancellation after the second season.

To save the series, NBC struck a deal with DirecTV to co-produce three more seasons; each subsequent season premiered on DirecTV's 101 Network, with NBC rebroadcasts a few months later. The series ended its run on The 101 Network on February 9, 2011, after five seasons.

Personally, I came to know 'Friday Night Lights' rather late. I first watched parts of the third season when it was shown on Directv, but wasn't familiar with the characters or their stories, but I knew one thing-it was damn good. However, I had a hell of a time trying to keep track of the show and it wasn't until I went to Texas myself and became immersed in the culture that I really began watching the show.

Thus I watched what I could of season 4 online, and then began searching for season 1. I watched it on ABC Family until it was canceled, and then bought the season 1 DVD and have just now completed the ENTIRE series on one massive 10 day long binge watching extravaganza!

The show is so good it gives me chills. Every aspect of this show is absolutely astounding from the music selection, to the editing and shot selection, the story lines, the acting, and of course the characters. These characters stay with you. Each character has so much depth, and it's so beautiful to watch them through their struggle and growth on film.

hey become a part of you, they inspire you, they surprise you, and through them you gain a new perspective about life as you realize that no matter the hand they've been dealt, each character is simply trying to make sense of life and do the best they can for themselves through their mistakes, disappointments and pain. The characters will surprise you as the seasons progress and you see more of each person.

I also love the shots of Texas in between dialogue. One shot of the bright, burning sun or the open skies, or that lone star on the flag remind me so much of why I fell in love with Texas while I was there.

'Friday Night Lights' captures this brilliantly in such a nuanced way. They bring such poetry and realism to viewers, and yes, their portrayal of Football is not only dynamic, it also captures the culture of Texas Football perfectly. In Texas, Football is God. That is a fact.

There are times when I forget that this is actually a television show. Everything is absolutely authentic. The restlessness that the younger characters feel in living in a small town and feeling like you have no way out is something I can relate to.

Buddy Garrity is the epitome of a Texan and at times I'm convinced that he is not actually portrayed by a trained actor. The same goes for Herc, a supporting character who was introduced to us after Jason Street's injury. Throughout much of that season I did not actually believe that Herc was a character. He just felt so real, and that's the beauty of this show. You come to love and appreciate even the secondary characters because they bring so much, everything is so real which is a credit to the writing team.

The best part was the show's ability to evolve and stay positive and life affirming in the effect this couple had on it and, without giving anything away, the way they ended it was very satisfying. One of the best quality family drama's I've seen. Catch this brilliant TV show now from Season 1 through to Season 5 on Blu-ray, for the first time ever. This 13-Disc Box-Set is delightful and is the perfect companion for those closing in Fall/Winter nights.

FYI: Connie Britton and Brad Leland both had roles in the original Friday Night Lights (2004) movie, also directed by series creator Peter Berg. Their roles were identical to those they have in the series, the coach's wife and a football booster respectively. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Watch Around The Clock - 24 Hours of TV'
(Art Linkletter, Groucho Marx, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, Johnny Carson, George Burns, Milton Berle, et al / 5-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: This incredible 4-DVD collection features non-stop programming from the Golden Age of Television as if you've gone back in time. Starting with early morning cartoons for the kids, daytime programming which includes all your favorite game shows, then all your favorite prime-time hits during the evening and then into the wee morning hours with star-studded movies all complete with commercials from the era.

DVD Verdict: My oh my, what an incredible, simply incredible 5-Disc Box-Set this truly is. Whoever thought this conception for a DVD release up should be applauded for as much as you may think you don't need it all in one long, 24-hour bundle, trust me, once you start playing that first disc you are transported back to an era that welcomes you with open, loving arms.

Disc One brings us all the early morning TV shows, such as Felix The Cat, Betty Boop, Popeye, Lassie, and Howdy Doody, amongst others. Personally, I was a great lover of all-things both Felix The Cat and Howdy Doody. For those not in the know, Felix is a funny-animal cartoon character created in the silent film era. The anthropomorphic black cat with his black body, white eyes, and giant grin, coupled with the surrealism of the situations in which his cartoons place him, combine to make Felix one of the most recognized cartoon characters in film history.

As for Howdy Doody, well, not everyone's taste, I'll grant you, but this was an American children's television program (with circus and Western frontier themes) that was created and produced in Fort Lauderdale, FL by E. Roger Muir and telecast on the NBC network in the United States from December 27, 1947, until September 24, 1960.

Trust me when I say it was a pioneer in children's television programming and set the pattern for many similar shows. One of the first television series produced at NBC in Rockefeller Center, in Studio 3A, it was also a pioneer in early color production as NBC (at the time owned by TV maker RCA) used the show in part to sell color television sets in the 1950s.

Disc One: Betty Boop, Felix The Cat, Popeye, Calvin & The Colonel, Howdy Doody, The Pinky Lee Show, Time For Beany, Wink Dink and You, Rootie Kazootie Show, Paul Winchell & Jerry Mahoney, Lassie and then Superman.

That's backed on Disc Two by the Afternoon block of programming with such shows as People Are Funny, Who Do You Trust?, Queen For A Day, Twenty-One, and amongst others both You Asked For It and Four Star Playhouse. My favorites were both Who Do You Trust? and Twenty-One. Who Do You Trust? was an American game show which aired from September 30, 1957, to November 15, 1957, at 4:30 pm, Eastern on ABC, and from November 18, 1957, to December 27, 1963 at 3:30 pm, Eastern - which helped garner a significant number of young viewers, like me, coming home from school.

The series was initially emceed by Johnny Carson and announced by Bill Nimmo. A year into the run, Nimmo was replaced by Ed McMahon, and from that point until 1992 the two would spend the majority of their careers together. Carson and McMahon departed in 1962 when Carson was hired to take over from Jack Paar on NBC's Tonight (renamed The Tonight Show under Carson), where they would both spend the next thirty years together. Woody Woodbury took over the hosting position while Nimmo returned to announce. The show was produced at the Little Theater on 44th Street in New York (today known as the Helen Hayes Theater).

Twenty One was an American game show originally hosted by Jack Barry which aired on NBC from 1956 to 1958. Produced by Jack Barry-Dan Enright Productions, the program became notorious for being a rigged quiz show which nearly caused the demise of the entire genre in the wake of United States Senate investigations.

Indeed, the 1994 movie Quiz Show is based on these events. A new version aired in 2000 with Maury Povich hosting, lasting about four months, again on NBC.

Disc Two: People Are Funny, Art Linkletter and The Kids, You Asked For It, What's My Line?, The Price Is Right, Who Do You Trust?, You Bet Your Life, Queen For A Day, Twenty-One, To Tell The Truth, G.E. Theatre and Four Star Playhouse.

Next up is the Evening slot, where we sit back and eat dinner to such classics as The Roy Rogers Show, Dragnet, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and amongst others both The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Beverly Hillbillies. For me, I loved all the shows, but I guess if I had to choose two today to reflect back on they would be The Dick Van Dyke Show and Dragnet.

Interestingly enough, Dragnet was also an American radio show, let alone the hit television and motion picture series. Enacting the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partners would hit the stgreets and hunt down the criminals, one by one. The show takes its name from the police term "dragnet", meaning a system of coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects.

Dragnet is perhaps the most famous and influential police procedural drama in media history. The series gave audience members a feel for the danger and heroism of police work. Dragnet earned praise for improving the public opinion of police officers. Actor and producer Jack Webb's aims in Dragnet were for realism and unpretentious acting; he achieved both goals, and Dragnet remains a key influence on subsequent police dramas in many media.

The gloriously funny Dick Van Dyke Show was an American television sitcom that initially aired on CBS from October 3, 1961 to June 1, 1966, with a total of 158 half-hour episodes spanning over five seasons. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, and Mary Tyler Moore.

It centered on the work and home life of television comedy writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) and was produced by Reiner with Bill Persky and Sam Denoff. The music for the show's theme song was written by Earle Hagen and played as much a part of the show to the viewer as the actual acting over the years. Rob, watch out for that ... oh dear, never mind, he's tripped over it yet again!

Disc Three: Annie Oakley, The Roy Rogers Show, Dragnet, Make Room For Daddy, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffiths Show, The Johnny Carson Show, The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show and The Milton Burle Show.

The final fourth disc is the Late-Night portion of this fantastic Box-Set and brings us three stunning films: 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers', 'Cyrano de Bergerac' and 'The Man With The Golden Arm'. Admittedly, I assumed that this "Late-Night" portion of the Box-Set would be talk show-based, but the three films at least allow you to slink into the night comfortably.

My favorite of the three is 'The Man with the Golden Arm'. Filmed in 1955, this drama thriller, chock full with elements of film noir, is based on the novel of the same name by Nelson Algren. It tells the story of a drug addict who gets clean while in prison, but struggles to stay that way in the outside world.

Although the addictive drug is never identified in the film, according to the American Film Institute "most contemporary and modern sources assume that it is heroin", in contrast to Algren's book which named the drug as morphine.

The film stars Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Arnold Stang and Darren McGavin. It was adapted for the screen by Walter Newman, Lewis Meltzer and Ben Hecht (uncredited), and directed by Otto Preminger. The film's initial release sparked controversy due to its serious, in-depth treatment of the then-taboo subject of drug addiction.

Disc Four: 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers' (1946), 'Cyrano de Bergerac' (1946), and 'The Man With The Golden Arm' (1955).

But wait, there's more! Included as a fantastic Bonus is not only Digital Access, but a Holiday DVD (Volume 2) that comes with seven (7) different TV show Christmas-themed, festive-filled episodes. Included in these 13 episodes are such TV shows as The Beverly Hillbillies, The Jack Benny Program, Sherlock Holmes, Gwen Guild Playhouse, Racket Squad, Dear Phoebe and Telephone Time. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Watch Around The Clock - 24 Hours of TV in COLOR!
(Lucille Ball, Edgar Buchanan, Duncan Renaldo, Lorne Green, Mike Connors, Elizabeth Taylor, et al / 5-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: This incredible 5-DVD collection features non-stop programming from the Golden Age of Television as if you've gone back in time, but this time IN COLOR! Starting with early morning cartoons for the kids, daytime programming which includes all your favorite game shows, then all your favorite prime-time hits during the evening and then into the wee morning hours with star-studded movies all complete with commercials from the era. It s an experience like none other!

DVD Verdict: My oh my, what an incredible, simply incredible 5-Disc Box-Set this truly is. Whoever thought this conception for a DVD release up should be applauded for as much as you may think you don't need it all in one long, 24-hour bundle, trust me, once you start playing that first disc you are transported back to an era that welcomes you with open, loving arms.

Disc One brings us all the early morning TV shows, such as Popeye & Friends, Casper, Gumby, Ultraman and, amongst others, Paddington Bear. For me, and easily, my favorite two were Ultraman and Paddington Bear. Man, I couldn't get enough of either of these two polar opposite shows back then. Ultraman was a Japanese tokusatsu science fiction television series created by Eiji Tsuburaya and was actually a follow-up to Ultra Q, though not technically a sequel or spin-off.

The show was produced by Tsuburaya Productions and was broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) from July 17, 1966 to April 9, 1967, with a total of 39 episodes (40, counting the pre-premiere special that aired on July 10, 1966).

A whole other cup o' tea altogether, Paddington Bear was an American/British animated television series. It was the second television adaptation of the children's book series and made by Hanna-Barbera in association with Central Independent Television.

An animated television program based on the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond, the series was scripted by Bond himself and produced by FilmFair London. It was narrated by actor Michael Hordern, who also voices all characters. Animation in stop motion, Paddington himself is a puppet in a three-dimensional environment, whilst other characters are paper cut-outs. It was so easy to watch, so believable to me at the time.

Disc One: Popeye & Friends, Casper, Gumby, The New Three Stooges, Fraidy Cat/Packy & Wacky, Hoppity Hopper, Clutch Cargo & Friends, Ultraman, Space Angel/Captain Fathom, Paddington Bear and Mr. Piper.

That's backed on Disc Two by the Afternoon block of programming with such shows as Gulliver's Travels, The Borrowers, Rescue From Gilligan's Island and The Over The Hill Gang. Just four (4) shows here, in total, the stand out duo for me are both Rescue From Gilligan's Island and The Over The Hill Gang.

Rescue from Gilligan's Island is a 1978 made-for-television comedy film that continues the adventures of the shipwrecked castaways from the 1964–67 sitcom Gilligan's Island, starring Bob Denver and Alan Hale, Jr. The film first aired on NBC as a two-part special on October 14 and October 21, 1978.

In depicting the long-awaited rescue of the castaways, the film forms a cathartic response to many of the episodes of the series in which "they almost get off the island". The film was directed by Leslie H. Martinson.

The Over-the-Hill Gang is a 1969 TV-movie Western comedy about aging Texas Rangers starring Walter Brennan and Pat O'Brien. Chill Wills, Edgar Buchanan, Andy Devine, and Jack Elam play supporting roles. The film was written by Richard Carr and directed by Jean Yarbrough.

The plot concerns a young newspaper editor who is conducting a campaign to unseat the town's "tinhorn mayor." The mayor is backed by a "gun-happy sheriff" and a "whiskey-soaked judge." The editor's campaign receives a boost when he is joined by a former Texas Ranger and "three of the fightin'-est straight shooters around." Oh, and the movie premiered on October 7, 1969, as the ABC Movie of the Week.

Disc Two: Gulliver's Travels, The Borrowers, Rescue From Gilligan's Island and The Over The Hill Gang.

Next up is the Evening slot, where we sit back and eat dinner to such classics as The Lone Ranger, Long John Silver, Mannix, Rango, Dusty's Trail, and amongst others, The Lucy Show. The stand out two here for me are both The Lone Ranger and The Lucy Show, of course.

The Lone Ranger was an American western drama television series that aired on the ABC Television network from 1949 to 1957, with Clayton Moore in the starring role. Jay Silverheels, a member of the Mohawk Aboriginal people in Canada, played The Lone Ranger's Native American companion Tonto.

The fictional story line maintains that a patrol of six Texas Rangers is massacred, with only one member surviving. The "lone" survivor thereafter disguises himself with a black mask and travels with Tonto throughout Texas and the American West to assist those challenged by the lawless elements.

A silver mine supplies The Lone Ranger with the name of his horse as well as the funds required to finance his wandering life-style and the raw material for his signature bullets. At the end of most episodes, after the Lone Ranger and Tonto leave, someone asks the sheriff or other person of authority who the masked man was. The person then responds that it was the Lone Ranger, who is then heard yelling "Hi-Yo, Silver!" as he and Tonto ride away on their horses.

The Lucy Show was an American sitcom that aired on CBS from 1962–68. It was Lucille Ball's follow-up to I Love Lucy. A significant change in cast and premise for the 1965–66 season divides the program into two distinct eras; aside from Ball, only Gale Gordon, who joined the program for its second season, remained. For the first three seasons, Vivian Vance was the co-star.

The earliest scripts were entitled The Lucille Ball Show, but when this title was rejected by CBS, producers thought of calling the show This Is Lucy or The New Adventures of Lucy, before deciding on the title The Lucy Show. Ball won consecutive Emmy Awards as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the series' final two seasons, 1966–67 and 1967–68.

Disc Three: The Lone Ranger, Long John Silver, The Cisco Kid, Judge Roy Bean, Rango, Dusty's Trail, The Lucy Show, Bonanza and Mannix.

The final fourth disc is the Late-Night portion of this fantastic Box-Set and brings us three stunning films: 'The Last Time I Saw Paris', 'The Missouri Traveler', and 'The Proud Rebel'. Admittedly, I assumed that this "Late-Night" portion of the Box-Set would be talk show-based, but the three films at least allow you to slink into the night comfortably.

My favorite of the three is 'The Proud Rebel'. A 1958 Technicolor Western film directed by Michael Curtiz with a screenplay by Joseph Petracca and Lillie Hayward, it was based on a story by James Edward Grant.

It is the story of a widowed Confederate veteran and his mute son who struggle to make a new life among sometimes hostile neighbors in the Midwest. Despite the implications of the title, the main character in "The Proud Rebel" does not dwell much on his Southern past, but finds his life complicated by sectional prejudice.

The film stars Alan Ladd, Olivia de Havilland, Dean Jagger, David Ladd and Cecil Kellaway and co-stars Harry Dean Stanton (credited as Dean Stanton) in an early film appearance. Indeed, 'The Proud Rebel' influenced the famous Indian artist Kishore Kumar, who remade it as Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein in 1964 starring his real-life son Amit Kumar playing the role of the mute son.

Disc Four: 'The Last Time I Saw Paris' (1954), 'The Missouri Traveler' (1958), and 'The Proud Rebel' (1958).

But wait, there's more! Included as a fantastic Bonus is not only Digital Access, but a Holiday DVD (Volume 2) that comes with seven (7) different TV show Christmas-themed, festive-filled episodes. Included in these 12 episodes, are such TV shows as The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Colgate Comedy Hour, Petticoat Junction, The Paul Winchell Show, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Red Skelton Show, and Family Doctor. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Eyes'
(Megan West, Ana Isabelle, Greg Davis Jr., Nicholas Turturro, Vincent Pastore, et al / DVD / NR / 2017 / WowNow Entertainment - Parade Deck Films)

Overview: Six strangers are kidnapped and through governmental technology have proof they have all killed before. They are then all informed that five of them will die this night, one may walk, and that the six have 2 hours to decide who gets to live.

DVD Verdict: Before I begin reviewing this, it should be made known from the off that this was requested purposely to review from the company associated with promoting it, as I'd heard some very encouraging things about it.

That said, and with no bias either way, 'The Eyes' does a very good job at becoming a unique suspense thriller from the off. Shot on location, and not really veering from that office entrapment area, you start to feel as worried for the characters as they do for themselves. Never knowing who will be killed, or for what crime (whether it be theirs or someone else's around the table), the building tension is palpable throughout.

With Nicholas Turturro, doing his best Michael Peña impression, taking gun control of the situation, each one of the six guests is shown via video why they are there. At this point you will start to decide yourself if they should be killed or survive, trust me.

Running at just over an hour and a half, and with camera angles that flash back and forth as the tension rises, it can get a little mid-'90s MTV video-esque, but stay with it as the finale brings with it a fairly decent turn of events.

In closing, as they say about these type of B-movies, it wouldn't win an Oscar, but it doesn't need to, nor does it strive to. It does exactly what it says on the box and scares you and rivets you to the plot in equal measures. Filled with new, and at times interesting music, and with moments of inspired cinematography, 'The eyes' have it for me - and I hope they do for you once you buy/rent this intriguing new movie. This is a Wideescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Rolling Stones From The Vault Sticky Fingers 2015
(The Rolling Stones / DVD+CD / NR / 2017 / Eagle Vision)

Overview: This latest addition to the From The Vault series captures a truly unique event in the long and eventful history of The Rolling Stones. On the May 20th, 2015 at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, California, the band performed the entire Sticky Fingers album live in concert for the first and so far only time in their career.

DVD Verdict: As noted above, this unique performance from May 20th, 2015, saw the band perform the entire Sticky Fingers album live in concert for the first – and so far only – time in their career. The show took place at the intimate Fonda Theatre and celebrated the reissue of the Sticky Fingers album and was the opening night of The Rolling Stones ‘Zip Code Tour’ of North America.

Now released on blu-ray and DVD (which include interviews with the band members intercut with full length performances) and also available as DVD+CD (which I'm reviewing here today) and a delightful 3LP+DVD combo set of packages, the CD and 3LP elements feature the full show as performed on the night.

DVD Track-Listing:
1) Start Me Up
2) Sway
3) Dead Flowers
4) Wild Horses
5) Sister Morphine
6) You Gotta Move
7) Bitch
8) Can't You Hear Me Knocking
9) I Got The Blues
10) Moonlight Mile
11) Brown Sugar
12) Rock Me Baby
13) Jumpin' Jack Flash

DVD Bonus Features:
Tracks cut from the concert film: 1) All Down The Line, 2) When The Whip Comes Down, and 3) I Can't Turn You Loose.

CD Track-Listing:
1) Start Me Up
2) When The Whip Comes Down
3) All Down The Line
4) Sway
5) Dead Flowers
6) Wild Horses
7) Sister Morphine
8) You Gotta Move
9) Bitch
10) Can't You Hear Me Knocking
11) I Got The Blues
12) Moonlight Mile
13) Brown Sugar
14) Rock Me Baby
15) Jumpin' Jack Flash
16) I Can't Turn You Loose

Whether it be watching the show via the DVD or listening to the show via the CD player in the car, top down (it's 90 degrees here in MI as we head into the close of September (!), the music is still as good as it gets from these guys.

You would think that studio work would be enhanced to get the best of their vocals and instruments, but that doesn't explain how live they still perform as if they were teenagers - better, perhaps. These guys never put a musical note wrong and Mick never once forgets a mark, or a line at that.

Sure the old interviews inter cut with live footage does get a little in the way at times, but their live performance art is a delicacy, a master class to watch regardless. The rest of this From The Vault series have tracked back to the '70s and such, so this is the very first time that they've released something so, well, modern, shall we say.

Watching the DVD you immediately get a sense of how much of a treat it must have been to be there that night as it's a small venue whose vibe is bouncing off the walls this evening. By the looks of it, as the camera pans, The Fonda Theatre looks like an amazing place, in general, let alone to house a brilliant, stand alone concert such as this one.

Also the subject of a Pledge Music campaign, The Rolling Stones: From The Vault, Sticky Fingers 2015 DVD+CD is a pure delight from start to finish. Of course, and unlike the majority of others released in the same vein, there are no Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman, or even Nicky Hopkins present on deck, but what we do have are the born again originals - and trust me when I say, even though Mick may well try to make them all sound a wee bit "newer", they all still come across as old school musical gems. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Armed Response' [Blu-ray]
(Wesley Snipes, Anne Heche, Dave Annable, Gene Simmons, Mike Seal, et al / Blu-ray+Digital HD / R / 2017 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A team of highly trained operatives is trapped inside an isolated military compound after its AI is suddenly shut down. The crew begins to experience strange and horrific phenomena as it attempts to uncover what killed the previous team.

DVD Verdict: OK, to be fair, these days you either love or hate Wesley Snipes' films (much like those of Steven Seagal, to be quite frank). Back in the day he was leaner, meaner, more into fighting vampires and demons, sure, but then he had all that tax b/s surround him, bury him, and he jetted off to some far flung country to lay low.

Making just a handful of films since then, he's now back with another B-movie venture that, I'm happy to say, doesn't include a vampire (or does it?!). These days, as you will witness several times throughout the film, he is kinda sorta back to his leaner self, having spent his time abroad not exactly bothering to work out every day (no need to), so this action packed return is somewhat to form for him.

That said, 'Armed Response' is still a B-movie, sure, but it's one with more bang for its buck than your usual straight-to-DVD Seagal ones, that's for damn sure. Snipes leads a team of marines into a prison where a secret government interrogation tool is being held in order to find out why they lost contact with the first half of the team.

As the film progressed, I'm thinking it was going to be some hi-tech, who-done-it mystery as the crew used surveillance to find out what happen to the first team, but as Snipes' team gets picked off one by one, I quickly began to see it as a completely different demographic.

Even though it's not scary, it for sure has elements similar to how the sci-fi/action movie, 'Aliens' (basically a horror movie about marines battling monsters), and how 'Predator' final reveal themselves to be.

I don't mean to confuse you, for this film is nowhere near as good as either of those two cult films, but 'Armed Response' is a very good suspense drama about war, nonetheless. The area where the action takes place is a huge prison that looks like a video game, which you'll either give it more points for or remove them for pure cheese.

Oh, and for those playing spot-the-musician along the way, KISS's long-tongued Gene Simmons (now sporting a bald head - which, in all truth, he's most likely had under a KISS wig for 20 years now!) can be found roaming around here also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Inside the Minds of Armed Response.

'Mickey Mouse: Merry & Scary'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / Walt Disney)

DVD Overview: Invite Mickey and Donald into your home as they bring laughs and merriment to not one, but two holiday seasons!

DVD Verdict: That's right, folks, we now have a Mickey mouse twofer here from Walt Disney Home Entertainment! Here on the just-released 'Mickey Mouse: Merry & Scary' DVD, we get to ride a tide of holiday hilarity with some contemporary classic shorts starring Mickey and friends.

In 'The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular!', for Halloween, Mickey has tricked out his house like a “tomb, sweet, tomb" and along with his pals Donald and Goofy, plans to tell hair-raising Halloween stories!

However, his attempt at being scary falls flatter than a pancake. Can Mickey conjure up a truly terrifying tale before the stroke of midnight?

As Mickey himself says when trying to scare the his friends, it's the ultimate, scariest Halloween story ever told! He even reveals "vampire teeth marks" on his neck, but is all as it seems? Throughout, Goofy thinks that it's all going to be good, that everything will turn out just fine, but whilst the eyes bug out on stalks, and the characters run all over the place (and into each other), Mickey not only tries to add to the scares, but steer the ship evenly to it's final hair-raising destination!

In Duck The Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christmas Special, it’s the most wonderful time of the year - to migrate south for the winter! But Donald wants to stay put and celebrate his first Christmas with his friends.

Mickey creates the ultimate list of everything to make Donald's first Christmas great, but before you can catch a snowflake on your tongue, Donald has turned into a shivering, sneezing duck-cicle!

The moment Donald bursts into Mickey's house as they are trimming the tree and announces that he's going to be home and staying with them for Christmas, and then Mickey gives him a big hug, well, it's game on for the emotions, my friends! Yes, Donald's voice is hard to understand these days, and yes the actual animation here seem a wee bit old fashioned, but that all said, when Mickey says with Donald there it's going to be the "best gosh-darn Christmas ever", you just can't help fall back in love with the whole classic Disney world.

Also included are the Bonus Shorts: "Ghoul Friend", "The Boiler Room", "Black And White", "Entombed", and "Split Decision".

Voice Cast: Chris Diamantopoulus as Mickey Mouse/Vampire; Russi Taylor as Minnie/Huey/Dewey/Louie/The Witch; Bill Farmer as Goofy; Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck; Tress MacNeille as Daisy Duck; and Corey Burton as Professor Von Drake. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Horror Story: Roanoke'
(Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lily Rabe, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / R / 2017 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Life imitates grisly reality TV in one of television’s edgiest and most acclaimed shows ever!

Told in gripping true-crime documentary style, “My Roanoke Nightmare” — this season’s show within the show — chronicles shocking paranormal events.

Blu-ray Verdict: The best of 'American Horror Story' are among my favorite television experiences in the past twenty years.

The writing, the production, and the acting combine great shocks, surprising twists, and likable, down-to-earth characters with an over-the-top morbidity.

The most recent season ('Roanoke') is by far one of the weakest. Like the 'Freak Show' season, it takes an effective method so far that it becomes a joke. In 'Freak Show', the writers made the mistake of piling on oddity after oddity until the weirdness of it had become a gimmick.

The same is true of 'Roanoke': the writers embraced the gruesome killing aesthetic, so that, by the eighth episode, I could no longer find any enjoyment in it. That said, I stuck with it, as one should always, if not in the vain hope that it can salvage a mesmerizing climax, but because, well, I just can't watch a series and not finish it (ie: OCD).

The setup is a documentary series, one of those cable shows in which people tell true ("true") stories of the paranormal as viewers watch cheesy re-enactments.

Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Marcia Clark and O.J. Simpson from "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J.") are Shelby and Matt Miller, Los Angeles newlyweds who, after a violent crime, move to North Carolina and buy a stately old farmhouse for a stupidly low knock down price.

The premiere episode was stylish and scary enough to make horror fans think this season could be a strong one, especially if it turns out to cover several first-person horror yarns, not just this first. For those following along with me here, feeling what I'm laying down about this sixth season, you'll realize that they had already revealed in the sixth episode that everyone died except for one! So the only thing left is torture porn as they play out the inevitable deaths of the entire crew.

This is further destroyed by the depiction of the rural monster family, who have committed every possible sin expected of outcast rural weirdos: incest, cannibalism, drug addiction and production, and a Faustian deal with a group of sadistic spirits.

In closing, and with all this said, 'American Horror Story' isn't for everyone and even the fan base seems to have varying opinions on which season is the best/worst, but I'd certainly give it a try. Even 'Roanoke', as it does has its AHS suspense moments, but it just seems like the pot is running dry there in the AHS writers room, that's all.

Again though, 'American Horror Story' is most-always fresh, new, and exciting and there isn't anything like it out there, that's for damn sure. It can go on, it can fight its way out of this slump, sure, I believe that to be true, and with 'AHS: Cult' now on our TVs, we'll just have to cross our fingers that the slump has indeed been beaten.

Personally, I've always felt that AHS, at its worst, is still better than any other show at its best and that still holds true even after binge-watching 'Roanoke'. The acting is still good and every recurring actor keeps showing how different they can be from a role to another, which I admire. It ruffled my feathers in seasons 2 and 3, but now I'm used to it - quite like the "family" feeling to the clan of actors, to be frank. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Paley Center for Media: Q&A with Cast and Creative Team from PaleyFest 2017
Collection of 'American Horror Story: Roanoke' Promos

The Sixth Installment of the Acclaimed American Horror Story Anthology Comes to Blu-ray and DVD October 3rd, 2017.

Blu-ray Purchase Link

'Blood Feast (Special Edition)'
(Scott H. Hall, William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, Connie Mason, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1963) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Dorothy Fremont is looking to throw a party unlike any other, and she gets just that when she hires the decidedly sinister Fuad Ramses to cater the event. Promising to provide her guests with an authentic Egyptian feast, Ramses promptly sets about acquiring the necessary ingredients the body parts of nubile young women!

Blu-ray Verdict: Following a series of grisly murders, the Chief of Detectives, (Scott H. Hall) and Detective Pete Thornton, (William Kerwin) are stuck as there's no leads in the case. A wealthy socialite, Mrs. Dorothy Fremont, (Lyn Bolton) tries to get her daughter Suzette, (Connie Mason) off the violent crimes by throwing her a lavish party, and visits the catering service of Fuad Ramses, (Mal Arnold) to deliver an Egyptian style party.

As the series of murders continue, the police are more helpless, as nothing has turned up in the investigation, and Pete decides to blow steam off while attending a lecture on Egyptian history with Suzette. During the course, a mention of a fanatical blood cult from the time period piques his interest, and learning more about it, realizes that the killer is a member of the cult and is trying to carry out the duties by trying to bring it's deity back to life, and race to stop the killer before it goes through.

Well, and in journalistic truth, there's very little good about this film, but there's a lot that they bring in. Director Herschell Gordon Lewis, Florida's pioneering father of low-rent gore, is an Ed Wood-type with a fixation on gushing blood, severed limbs, and ridiculous story lines. Hence, the biggest impact in the film is it's unrelenting and extreme gore! This comes in the form of several incredibly graphic kills. The opening victim not only has her leg cut off, she is first stabbed in the eye!

There's also another victim who has their head smashed open, a leg is baked in an oven, a heart is cut out, a girl is flayed by whipping; and most extreme of all, a tongue is pulled out, roots and all. There is a rare intensity about these scenes, a determination to really rub the extreme violence in.

Even though there are no impact shots of anything, the film instead trades them in their place are lingering "aftermath" shots not easily forgotten, including a bloody stump, complete with bone, sticking up out of the suds in a bathtub, brains spread across the sands of a beach, an empty mouth, and so on.

These hold a really great intensity about them that makes up for their badly-done execution. The only other point worthwhile about it is the lone scene that registers anything resembling horror mood. Searching the killer's hideout, they turn on the lights in a darkened room and find that, in front of them the whole but unnoticed in the dark, is the disemboweled and completely mutilated body of a previous victim.

This is simply the best scene in the film and really serves the film's best shock effect over the blood and gore. The short length also helps, as it's really over before it gets boring and overstays it's welcome. This here really has some good points about it.

Aside from all that Gore stuff, and again, in truth, there isn't a whole lot really wrong with this one. The main thing wrong with the film is that there's way too much here that's incompetent. This is easiest to see in the special effects department. The gore in here, while brutal in design, is hardly anywhere near convincing. The fact that just about all of the graphic blood is so obviously red paint that it's hard to believe it's shocking.

This really renders a lot of the deaths ineffective and give them a really goofy air about them. They're just too fake to be convincing and just come off as ridiculous. It's the same really for every single one of the kills, and that is where the film gets some real negative points. There's also the fact that there's no way around the characters could be as moronic as they are portrayed here. This is sheer stupidity on a massive level, there's really no way else to put it.

The heroes who take all film to make the connection between what's going on that the viewers made in a couple minutes, the investigating police do even less to solve the crimes than the heroes do to think about it, and the fact that they complain about it and can't solve them just makes it all the more frustrating. These are what really hold the film back, but they're big ones.

And so, in closing, 'Blood Feast' does, and is as it says on the label: a very graphic, gory tale that exists only because of how bloody it is rather than how good it is. The blood and guts are good enough for gore-hounds, while those who absolutely hate technically-incompetent films will loathe this one. Me, I actually watched it again two nights later! This is a Full Screen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Scum of the Earth - Herschelll Gordon Lewis' 1963 feature
Blood Perspectives - Filmmakers Nicholas McCarthy and Rodney Ascher on Blood Feast
Herschell's History - Archival interview in which director Herschell Gordon Lewis discusses his entry into the film industry
How Herschell Found his Niche - A new interview with Lewis discussing his early work
Archival interview with Lewis and David F. Friedman
Carving Magic - Vintage short film from 1959 featuring Blood Feast Actor Bill Kerwin
Alternate 'clean' scenes from Scum of the Earth
Promo gallery featuring trailers and more
Feature length commentary featuring Lewis and David F. Friedman moderated by Mike Grady
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil

'Blood Feast: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] will be available for purchase on October 24th, 2017.

'Blood Feast: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'Poldark Revealed'
(Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Kyle Soller, Heida Reed, et al / DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Join the cast and crew of Poldark to discover the true stories behind the history, books, and characters of Winston Graham's saga. Uncover the passion behind the people bringing Graham' novels to life, with their unforgettable characters, gripping story, fiery passions, and stunning scenery. Dig deep into the history of Cornwall and discover just what makes Ross Poldark the unforgettable hero the world has come to love.

DVD Verdict: Taking you back, if I may, the original Poldark was from what I would describe as the "golden age" of UK television. Poldark sat happily alongside wonderful series like Upstairs and Downstairs, The Duchess of Duke St and War and Peace. I grew up watching it, but moreover because it was set where I was living at the time with my parents re: Cornwall.

Set in 18th century Britain, nay Cornwall, Ross Poldark, played by Aidan Turner, is a nobleman who shuns social convention. Ross's warmth and his ability to see the true humanity in people, is in stark contrast to the callous, class based snobbery of many of his supposedly, noble peers. Poldark is at its core a romance, but it avoids the "bodice ripper" label by maintaining a very grounded approach to romantic storytelling mixing in a strong social commentary and wry humor.

The cast of this brand new adaptation of Poldark are, to a man and women, truly excellent. Turner is exceptional as Poldark. As is Eleanor Tomlinson who offers up an at times very funny but also deeply touching performance, as Demelza. The remaining cast which is both UK and international, are also extremely talented and well suited to their respective roles.

Given that this is beautiful, coastal Cornwall, we are treated to en mass of the cameraman's preoccupation of showing us said Cornish coastlines from the saddle of Poldark's horse, but we can forgive him for that - as the cinematic visions are beautiful.

Indeed, Poldark is throughout visually stunning and the period enhances the feel of a young man returning from war to an uncertain future and trying to resurrect the family fortune in a disused mine.

And so something such as 'Poldark Revealed' is as much a welcome sight for us fans as anything that has come before it, in truth. We go behind the scenes, on the moors and beyond, listening in on the cast and crew of Poldark, as well as the award-winning creative team behind the series.

Indeed, on this exclusive journey to discover the true stories behind the history, the books, and the characters of Winston Graham's saga, 'Poldark Revealed' begins to reveal the passion behind the people bringing Graham's novels to life, with their unforgettable characters, gripping story, fiery passions, and stunning scenery.

Along with interviews from eminent historians, Andrew Graham, the son of Winston Graham, reveals how his father began writing the Poldark novels when he moved to Cornwall and served as a coast guard during WWII.

In summary, this is a wonderful addition to the series and superb series, in general. It recaptures the golden age of UK television, for those of us old enough to remember it. For those who do not, you are in for a real treat here in the first season of the remake. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Ireland's Wild Coast'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 'Ireland's Wild Coast' is a journey along one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, featuring the wildlife and wild places that make it so special.

DVD Verdict: 'Ireland's Wild Coast' is a documentary directed by Cepa Giblin and John Murray. The latter is most known for his award-winning “Broken Tail” about Indian tigers. After the inevitable stint in the tropics, Murray returned to his native Ireland and help direct two documentaries about its stunning nature and wildlife, the first being “Ireland's Wild River” about the Shannon.

In “Ireland's Wild Coast”, we are introduced to the Irish Atlantic coast, from Skellig Michael in the southwest to County Donegal in the northwest. Animals featured include seals, whales, basking sharks, blue sharks, outcast dolphins (sic), seemingly feral sheep and a wide variety of birds. At Skellig Michael, Manx shearwaters nest in an abandoned medieval monastery. Donegal turns out to be the winter quarters of whooper swans from Iceland - perhaps the only migratory bird spending the winter in Ireland!

I admit that I found 'Ireland's Wild Coast' simply fascinating. The underlying theme of this production is wildlife taking over after humans leaving. In real life, of course, it's the other way around. Murray himself pointed out when interviewed by Swedish television that Ireland, previously regarded as the end of the world, has become one of its most exploited spots, sadly.

But, at least, here on 'Ireland's Wild Coast' from PBS, we get to view never before captured visual wonderment from across Ireland's west coast and wildlife wonders. From the Skellig Rocks; to breaching humpback whales; to golden eagles; to majestic salmon; to the clash of Ireland's last surviving red deer stags, watch this and be amazed. I know I was. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Masterpiece: The Collection'
(Richard Coyle, Frances de la Tour, Tom Riley, Mamie Gummer, Jenna Thiam, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 1947. A fashion empire rises from the ashes of war-torn Paris, run by the breathtakingly charming and thoroughly ruthless Paul Sabine. But behind the glamour and elegance lies a devastating secret that threatens to destroy the company's delicately built success. Sophisticated and contemporary in tone, this is a story about the price of success, set during a pivotal moment in France's history.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'The Collection', from Amazon, is a series starring the stellar cast of Richard Coyle, Tom Riley, Mamie Gummer, and Frances de la Tour. Set in post-war Paris, Paul Sabine runs a fashion house with the goal of bringing glamour back to Paris and to bring the fashion center of the world back there as well.

His brother, Claude, is the actual designer of the fashions, and the arrangement is that to the public, Paul is the designer and his brother stays in the background. They both barely tolerate their overbearing mother, Yvette, a conniving and manipulative woman.

There are several subplots, the main one being Claude's dalliance with a sailor that leaves him badly beaten and leads to all sorts of trouble for the fashion house. There is also a reporter (Stanley Townsend) digging around for information on what Paul Sabine did during the war. A worker turned model, Nina (Jenna Thiam) has a secret, as does the right hand of the house, Charlotte (Alix Poisson). Meanwhile, Paul's wife (Mamie Gummer) attempts to hold onto her husband and mollify Claude.

For some reason, when a series involving fashion is done - The Time in Between, Velvet, as two examples - the era chosen is post-war. The clothing is dazzling in this, and there's mystery, family dynamics, and intrigue present as well. The first season ends on a real cliffhanger.

There's nothing not to love. I do have one quibble that people who live in France, and who are French are speaking French, but most times in English. So, as much as they are obviously not speaking English with a French accent, the fact that most all of the actors are British, and who speak with British accents some times. Confused? Yes, me too, sorry, but that aside, you get over that pretty quickly. Why? Well, it just doesn't matter. They're speaking French. Job done. I mean, in Chekov's plays, the characters are speaking Russian, but outside of Russia, the plays are performed in other languages. Should those people be speaking with Russian accents?

Moving on, and in wrap, the acting is uniformly good in 'The Collection,' with Frances de la Tour ('Rising Damp') a standout, though the two brothers, played by Coyle and Riley, are wonderful. Another actress, Poppy Corby-Tuech, who plays Dominique, is exquisitely beautiful. Mamie Gummer rocks her elegant outfits and is excellent as Paul's unhappy wife.

And as the desperate model Nina, Jenna Thiam gives a sympathetic performance. Give this series a chance and I think you'll also fall in love with it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Designing The Times
Rags To Riches
Behind The Masks

'The Real Story: Platoon'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning film 'Platoon' brought the true horror of the Vietnam War to the big screen. Based on Stone's own experiences as a soldier in the conflict, the film captivated millions of viewers all over the world. But how much of the film was real and how much was Hollywood fiction?

DVD Verdict: We all have heard of, and most likely seen the 1986 movie of the same name as this new PBS/Smithsonian documentary, but all these years later, now we get the chance to learn more about the basis for the war movie of the year.

The movie features Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) leaving his university studies to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. Once he's on the ground in the middle of battle, his idealism fades.

Infighting in his unit between Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes nearby villagers are harboring Viet Cong soldiers, and Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe), who has a more sympathetic view of the locals, ends up pitting the soldiers against each other as well as against the enemy.

Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning film was one for the ages, even back the when it was released just ahead of Christmas Day, December 19th, 1996. It showcased the human effect of the war alongside the manual overload of battle, both in equal measures.

Based on Stone's own experiences as a soldier in the conflict, the film was raw, unadulterated when it came to blood, gore, death, humanity and survival (for some), now PBS wonders just how much of the film was real and how much was Hollywood fiction?

Indeed, to reveal the real story, they recreate scenes, uncover a radio transmission from the battle that inspired the movie's climax, and interview writer/director Oliver Stone and cast member Willem Dafoe.

It's a fascinating documentary that the Smithsonian Channel has put together here and one that should always accompany the watching of the film for generations to come. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'SAS: Rogue Warriors'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Today, the Special Air Service is the world's most famous combat unit with the motto 'Who Dares Wins' but the story of how it came into existence has been, until now, a closely guarded secret.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, the SAS are The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950.[5] The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue.

The corps presently comprises 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component under the operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, and 21 (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and 23 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), which are reserve units under the operational command of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.

The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War. It was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, which is part of the regular army, gained fame and recognition worldwide after its televised rescue of all but one of the hostages held during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.

Here in 'SAS: Rogue Warriors', and for the first time, the SAS has agreed to open up its archive and allow Ben Macintyre to reveal the true story of their formation during the darkest days of World War II.

With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founder members, this series tells the remarkable story behind an extraordinary fighting force. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Girl In The Box'
(Addison Timlin, Zelda Williams, Zane Holtz, et al / DVD / NR / 2017 / LGF)

Overview: In 1977, a girl is kidnapped and kept in a coffin-sized box. When her captors let her out, it's only to abuse her horribly. Will she ever escape?

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, this TV movie is based on a real case that occurred in Red Bluff, a small town in Northern California roughly 3 hours from the border of Oregon. Once you know that, and then watch this Lifetime Movie, you will have a whole other appreciation for what the central character goes through, trust me.

Based on a true story, 'Girl In The box' is a dark psychological drama. In May 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan was kidnapped by a young married couple, Cameron and Janice Hooker.

For the next seven years they kept her locked in a coffin-sized box hidden beneath their bed for up to 23 hours a day. When not imprisoned, Colleen became part of a strange new life as a live-in slave, family child-minder, and victim of Cameron's bizarre and extreme S&M fantasies.

'Girl In The Box' is one of those stories that's so incredibly compelling even glitches in the telling can't sap it of its interest. The biggest area in which I give writer/director Stephen Kemp points is that he's able to make all three principals genuinely interesting characters rather than cardboard heroines or villains.

Ergo, Janice (Zelda Williams) comes off as part-perpetrator, part-victim; Cameron (Zane Holtz) shows off a real personal charm even though we hate him for his actions (one could see why a woman would fall in love with him and go along willingly with at least some of his demands, and the fact that he's a nice person on the surface and a villain only underneath makes him scarier than if he'd been played as a typical looney-tunes movie psycho); and Colleen Stan (Addison Timlin) comes off as a sympathetic victim but also an almost terminally naïve one.

One of the cops who worked on the case called Cameron a "pure psychopath," which for once is technically accurate — the general definition of a psychopath is someone who regards other people as simply objects he or she can use however he or she likes, without any account for their needs or feelings at all — to the point where they can kill people and not feel a shred of guilt or remorse; they were just in the way and she got rid of them. Watch this today, but when out, (sadly) just be wary of your surrounding at all times. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Farewell Ferris Wheel'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Filmed over the span of six years, the film follows a carnival owner, a labor-recruiter, and workers from a small town in Mexico who join the carnival legally on seasonal visas.

DVD Verdict: To be frank, 'Farewell Ferris Wheel' is an honest on-the-ground portrait of the financial, emotional, and physical challenges they all face.

Indeed, I have never, ever seen such a documentary of its ilk before, but I cannot see another one come close to the reveal of this new PBS documentary, that's for sure.

For those that want a wee bit more history to the infamous fun fair Ferris Wheel, well, it is a nonbuilding structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with multiple passenger-carrying components (commonly referred to as passenger cars, cabins, tubs, capsules, gondolas, or pods) attached to the rim in such a way that as the wheel turns, they are kept upright, usually by gravity.

Some of the largest modern Ferris wheels have cars mounted on the outside of the rim, with electric motors to independently rotate each car to keep it upright. These wheels are sometimes referred to as observation wheels and their cars referred to as capsules, however these alternative names are also used for wheels with conventional gravity-oriented cars.

The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. as a landmark for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The generic term Ferris wheel is now used for all such structures, which have become the most common type of amusement ride at state fairs in the United States.

Carnivals have a delightful place in the American imagination, with childhood memories of family fun, fantasy, and summer nostalgia. But rising expenses and changes in U.S. labor patterns have caused many employers to find labor outside of U.S. borders.

'Farewell Ferris Wheel' is an inside look at the struggles of an industry trying to stay alive by employing Mexican migrant workers with a controversial visa.

Filmed over the span of six years, 'Farewell Ferris Wheel' really hits home the fact of how many people it takes to put one of these beasts up, what dangers they behold, and what their lives are surrounding such fun fairs and carnivals, on a daily/yearly basis. It's open, it's honest, and its raw - just like many other PBS documentaries of this type. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Farthest - Voyager in Space'
(Blu-ray / PG / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Launched in 1977, NASA's epic Voyager missions revolutionized our understanding of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and their spectacular moons and rings. In 2012, Voyager 1 left our solar system and ushered humanity into the interstellar age.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the full know, and as always, it's best to start with the complete facts, The Voyager program is a continuing American scientific program that employs two robotic probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, to study the outer Solar System.

They were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favorable alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and are now exploring the outer boundary of the heliosphere in interstellar space.

Although their original mission was to study only the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 2 continued on to Uranus and Neptune, and both Voyagers are now tasked with exploring interstellar space.

Their mission has been extended three times, and both probes continue to collect and relay useful scientific data. Neither Uranus nor Neptune has been visited by any probe other than Voyager 2.

On 25 August 2012, data from Voyager 1 indicated that it had become the first human-made object to enter interstellar space, traveling "further than anyone, or anything, in history". As of 2013, Voyager 1 was moving with a velocity of 17 kilometers per second (11 mi/s) relative to the Sun.

Hence the release of this incredible new PBS documentary, 'The Farthest - Voyager in Space'. Directed by Emer Reynolds, The Farthest tells the story of that successful, and record breaking Voyager 1 mission through first-hand accounts from the passionate men and women who built the ships and guided their journeys.

Negotiating a series of perils on its Grand Tour of the outer planets, Voyager beamed back spectacular images of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. But their moons offered bigger surprises - volcanoes, geysers, and a liquid water ocean. On the chance of discovery by intelligent aliens, each spacecraft carried a Golden Record with music and spoken greetings.

The mission has earned its place in the pantheon of human achievements. Long after our sun has flamed out, the Voyagers are likely to be sailing on, perhaps the only evidence that we ever existed. BONUS FILM: Second Genesis explores the scientific quest to find life or evidence of it beyond Earth. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Masters: Edgar Allan Poe - Buried Alive'
(Denis O'Hare, et al / DVD / PG / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 'Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive' draws on the rich palette of Poe's evocative imagery and sharply drawn plots to tell the real story of the notorious author. Featuring Tony Award-winning actor Denis O'Hare, the film explores the misrepresentations of Poe as an alcoholic madman.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the full know, and as always, it's best to start with the complete facts, Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, editor, and literary critic.

Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story.

Poe is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.

He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

For years, he had been planning to produce his own journal The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced. Poe died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849, at age 40; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents.

Here in the truly fascinating 'Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive', one of my favorite character actors Denis O'Hare ('American Horror Story') takes on the persona of Poe quite like I've never seen anyone do it before (and yes, that includes you, John Cusack!)

With lots to tell about the real story of the notorious author, the Tony Award-winning actor helps the documentary explore the misrepresentations of Poe as an alcoholic madman. Was he just simply that persona, or was there more to his so-called "madness", perhaps?

This American Masters documentary from PBS reveals the way in which Poe tapped into what it means to be a human in our modern and sometimes frightening world. Through the incredible acting of O'Hare, we witness as Poe and his works continually influenced literature in the United States and around the world.

As well as in specialized fields such as cosmology and cryptography, Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television still today. Watch this documentary today if you even only have the slightest curiosity about Poe as it will be revealing and leave you with a much better sense of the man, that's for sure. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of 'Outtakes from the Film'.

'Vice Versa' [Blu-ray]
(Judge Reinhold, Fred Savage, Corinne Bohrer, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1988) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: During an argument, a divorced executive and his 11 year old son casually touch a magical Tibetan skull, releasing a mysterious power that transfers the father's mind to the body of the son and vice versa. Their problems have just begun.

Blu-ray Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment and now on Blu-ray for the very first time, based on the 1882 novel of the same name by F. Antsey, 'Vice Versa' is a hugely enjoyable comedy.

Indeed, it was one of my favorite childhood films and it held up remarkably well. It has a strong and very witty script by British sitcom veterans Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and it is very well directed by Brian Gilbert.

It may not be on the same level as 'Big', another film from the same year which covers much of the same territory, but it is still enormous fun. I think that it is second only to that film as the best of the many body swapping films of the late 1980s. I enjoyed it considerably more than the underwhelming 1948 British version written and directed by Peter Ustinov.

The film stars Judge Reinhold as Marshall Seymour, an up-and-coming 35-year-old executive vice president at the Chicago department store Vigar and Avery. He is so ambitious and determined to succeed in his chosen profession that he is unknowingly neglecting his 11-year-old son Charlie, played by Fred Savage.

While it is not expressly stated, it is pretty safe to assume that his obsessive work ethic is what lead to the demise of his marriage to Charlie's mother Robyn. Charlie feels a little unloved by his uptight, neurotic and mostly absent father and, while he is disappointed that Marshall misses his concert, he is not terribly surprised as this sort of thing seemingly happens on a regular basis.

However, their worlds get turned upside down when they switch places due to a magical Tibetan skull, as you do.

Reinhold is hilarious as Charlie and his excellent performance perfectly captures the enthusiasm and immaturity of an 11-year-old boy. He brings a great deal of childlike innocence to the role and the awkward way in which he walks suggests that the small for his age Charlie is having a bit of trouble adjusting to life in Marshall's gangly, 6'2" frame.

However, Savage steals the show as Marshall, who gets the short end of the stick. Although he recalled his own childhood with great pleasure, he soon discovers that he was viewing it through rose colored glasses and that life can be tougher for a child than many adults realize.

Savage was one of the best child actors of his generation and it is easy to see why he was given the lead role in a TV series at only 12. Although he is playing a 35-year-old in the body of a child, his performance nevertheless seems very natural.

Savage is able to convey Marshall's maturity and occasionally obnoxious tendencies extremely well. He plays the material straight rather than sending it up, a mistake that many lesser (and older) actors make it comes to comedy. Savage and Reinhold have great chemistry and this makes the film's premise seem all the more believable.

Gilbert's great eye for casting is not only on display with the two leads but with respect to the supporting cast as well. Corinne Bohrer, whom I have always thought deserved bigger roles, is very good as Marshall's girlfriend Sam, who is likewise feeling a little neglected because of his work schedule.

The same is true of Swoosie Kurtz and David Proval as the art thieves Lillian Brookmeyer and Turk, who desperately try to gain possession of the skull throughout the film. It also features great performances from Jane Kaczmarek as Robyn, William Prince as Marshall's boss Stratford Avery and Beverly Archer as Charlie's teacher Jane Luttrell and, in smaller roles, Richard Kind, James Hong, Elya Baskin and Gloria Gifford.

Overall, this is a great feelgood film which entertained me almost as much as it did when I was eleven. There is a nice exploration of the father-son relationship and a few touching moments between the laughs. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Mary Reilly' [Blu-ray]
(Julia Roberts, John Malkovich, George Cole, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1996) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: A housemaid falls in love with Dr. Jekyll and his darkly mysterious counterpart, Mr. Hyde.

Blu-ray Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment and now on Blu-ray for the very first time, the most general problem about 'Mary Reilly' is that people are fooled by the foundation of this story.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a horror story, true, but Mary Reilly is not. What Valerie Martin did with the book was to take the story, and instead of exploring the conflict in Harry Jekyll, exploring the psyche of the broken servant girl, and gives an interesting view into life as it was for the underclass in the Victorian London.

Mary Reilly is the soft spoken and demure chambermaid who works in the house of the rather eccentric Dr. Harry Jekyll. He is a gentle man and shows an interest in Mary's story in a way that she is not used to from her masters. At the same time she is fascinated by the uncivilized and crazed fervor of the master's assistant, Edward Hyde.

The scenery and imagery is eerie and elusive, and at the same time visceral and physical and it is constantly covered in the smog of the industrial age. There is no attempt to pretty up the destitution and the physical and moral corruption of London in the Victorian age, a contrast to many other period pieces as they show the Victorian age as something elegant and romantic.

This is dirt and gold side by side. Examples are the trip down butcher alley with Edward Hyde and the sight of the autopsy slab through the swinging doors. This also counts as some of the most unpleasant scenes to watch, but there is also a few hints of gore in this. The prostitute's bedroom is nauseating.

Julia Roberts is good in this role, dodgy accent aside, I think it is so annoying to hear people continue to rant about it. Yeah the accent is crap, but is easy to disassociate from if you try. I think that Roberts give a very good performance, her eyes are haunted, and her body language speaks of a cowed spirit. There is tuned down from the Hollywood glamour, and it really suits her.

John Malkovich is absolutely spectacular, the lack of attempt on an English accent I barely thought of. He is gentle and soft spoken as Jekyll, yet all the time with a glitter of madness in his eyes, it's wonderful. Yet he is perfect as Mr. Hyde, the madness, the brutality, his coarseness, a man completely enslaved by his urges.

John Malkovich smoothly glides through both roles Other memorable performances is Glenn Close as the greedy brothel owner, and Michael Gambon as Mary's monstrous father, he's a man of one's nightmares.

I thought Mary Reilly such a fascinating film because it is so phycological, a person with a little knowledge of Freud and Jung will be to see that parallels in the story to their theories. Exactly why I don't consider it a problem that Jekyll and Hyde are not difficult to separate in their looks. They are supposed to be two sides of the same person, while they also have a little bit of the opposite in them.

The idea of Jekyll and Hyde being the two projectors for Mary's desire is ingenious, the gentle and the ferocious, the safety drive and the sex drive. Well the story has so many psychological layers that it is hard to dissect them all.

The ending was the perfect round up of the story, very poignant and moving. This film is not for those people who wants a gorish horror movie with everything served. This film is for people who does not mind a slow pace, but likes to savor the characters and the mood of this.

In conclusion, 'Mary Reilly' is a truly underrated psychological drama, and while it's not an actual horror film in my opinion, it does has some very nerve wrecking suspenseful moments. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Mini-Series'
(Anthony Hopkins, Leslie-Anne Down, Derek Jacobi, et al / DVD / NR / (1982) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: A disfigured man is feared and tormented by the townspeople of Notre Dame, but he has a sensitive nature of which few are aware.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment on DVD this October 3rd, 2017, 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' brings us the infamous tale that takes place in the 15th Century. In Paris, a young priest named Claude Frollo finds a horribly deformed child abounded in the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

Frollo names the child Quasimodo and raises him in the church. 25 years later Frollo has become the Archdeacon of Notre Dame and Quasimodo the bellringer, who amongst the citizens of Paris is also known as "the Hunchback". During the Feast of Fools, a young gypsy dancer Esmeralda unintentionally wakes the carnal desires inside of Frollo. She also gains the attentions of Quasimodo, a poet Gringoire and Captain Phoebus of King's guards.

This 1982 TV movie/mini-series of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' is an interesting mix of Victor Hugo's book and previous movies of the story. During some parts of the film the story seems to be very close to Hugo's book, whereas in others it seems to follow the footsteps of the famous 1939 version.

Not only that, but film does include some ideas of its own. Frollo's pupil Philippe never appeared in the book or other movies, and this is the only version along with the Disney movie where Esmeralda gives Quasimodo a kiss.

Technically the movie is quite well done for a TV production. The replica of Notre Dame is extremely well made, but some scenes really suffer. In other versions the Feast of Fools has always been presented as an extremely festive event, but here I see none of it. Almost looks like there's not a single person in Paris who would want to celebrate. Also the Court of Miracles scene is a letdown. On the other hand, the angry mob invading Notre Dame is surprisingly well managed.

As for cast, the film includes two amazing performances from Anthony Hopkins and Derek Jacobi. Hopkins, nearly a decade before his fame as Hannibal Lecter, goes right there with the first Lon Chaney as my favorite Quasimodo. You can hardly recognize the man under all the makeup but he really puts passion to his role and makes a touching performance.

The scene of Quasimodo crying after receiving water from Esmeralda, and later when we see how ashamed he is of his ugliness when near her, are truly heartbreaking ones. Jacobi completely nails the character of Claude Frollo, showing a priest dedicated for God, but who becomes obsessed of a girl who woke his hidden needs.

Jacobi is fantastic in the role, showing a good man on his journey to madness. His scene with Esmeralda in the dungeon shows actual torment and conflict.

Rest of the cast is so and so. I was really excited to see David "Hercule Poirot" Suchet as Clopin, but the film keeps his part frustratingly short and Suchet doesn't really have any chances to explore the role. Pity, because he does look great for the part.

Robert Powell is a great actor and he does capture the egoistic gambler and skirt-chaser that Phoebus is, but he doesn't look right to the part for me. Biggest disappointment comes from Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda. Not only is she the weakest link of the cast, but she also lacks the looks. She is pretty, but not pretty enough to make entire Paris drool after her.

Her dance scene is a big disappointment, no thrill whatsoever. Gerry Sundquist is okay as Gringoire but that's it. I certainly fail to see why he should get Esmeralda. Tim Piggot-Smith's invented character Philippe serves no purpose in the story.

The film is lacking in some parts but is decent to watch and it does have two remarkable performances from Hopkins and Jacobi, which alone are worth seeing for. Also during Esmeralda's trial scene you can enjoy cameos of Nigel Hawthorne as Judge and John Gielgud as the Inquisitor. Highly recommended. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Five People You Meet In Heaven'
(Jon Voight, Ellen Burstyn, Jeff Daniels, et al / DVD / NR / (2004) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: An elderly amusement park maintenance man, Eddie, is trapped in purgatory and the only way out is to confront five people from his past. Unfortunately, dark secrets from his service in the Philippines begin to haunt him.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment on DVD this October 17th, 2017, written by Mitch Albom and directed by Lloyd Kramer, due to the success of Mitch Albom's books, it was always a dream of mine that they would one day turn it into movie.

Being that Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven are two of my favorite books, I was rather excited, to say the least, when I discovered they had turned the latter into a Made-For-TV movie.

Being that The Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of my favorite books, I was a little disappointed, but I still really liked this movie. As noted above, this is a Made-For-TV movie so it doesn't have the great budget nor quality it deserved. But the cinematography is great, believe me.

'Five People' is about how each person we meet, though appearing insignificant, are part of the vast web of interconnection that affects our life.

Jon Voight plays Eddie, an 83-year old mechanic who has worked at the Ruby Pier Amusement Park all his life except for a stint in the army during World War II. The first thing we learn about Eddie is that he is dead, killed in a roller coaster accident while trying to save a little girl.

The next thing we find out is that, in Heaven, Eddie will meet and talk with five people who were the most influential in his life. People Eddie would probably not think of first, but whose influence becomes slowly and painstakingly revealed.

As he re-experiences traumatic events from the past, it soon becomes clear that what they share with him allows him to complete and illuminate the past.

Eddie meets "The Blue Man" (Jeff Daniels), part of the sideshow at the park, his Army captain (Michael Imperioli), his wife Marguerite (Dagmara Dominczyk) who died after only a few years of marriage, the wife of the original owner of the Ruby Pier (Ellen Burstyn), and a little Filipino girl named Tala (Nicaela and Shelbie Weigel).

In closing, yes, 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' is most definitely well worth the watch and will leave you less worried, perhaps, about your own final moments on this earth. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Man With A Camera - The Complete Series'
(Charles Bronson, James Flavin, Ludwig Stössel, et al / 2-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / (1958-1960) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Charles Bronson stars as Mike Kovac, a veteran combat photographer who is now works as a New York City freelance photographer. Kovac specializes in getting those hard to capture photos that other photographers cannot take. Kovac utilizes his police contacts in learning about those cases that might bring him the perfect picture.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment on a brilliant 2-Disc DVD set (complete with Digital) this October 17th, 2017, in truth, I've never been much of a Charles Bronson fan, but boy, 'Man with a Camera' was the role that brought him major attention - and into my world.

This was one of the very early series of the young ABC network, so it suffered from a low budget and poor production values, but was broadly hyped by ABC.

Bronson played Mike Kovac, a former combat photographer now free-lancing in New York City, specialising in getting the photographs that other lensmen can't (or don't have the guts to obtain). Ludicrously, a lot of Kovac's assignments came from the police and newspaper editors, who never seemed to have their own photographers on staff.

As this was a crime show, Kovac's assignments always embroiled him in some caper, usually involving a good-looking woman. Kovac's police liaison was Lieutenant Donovan, well-played by James Flavin but stuck with the implausible cliché (dating back to Inspector Lestrade) of the cop who has to go to the independent free-lance hero for help with all the cases the cops can't handle.

One strong point of 'Man with a Camera' is that it involved the latest photographic technology, which inevitably must seem quaint from our modern standpoint. The boot of Kovac's car was converted into a portable darkroom. After he snapped his pix, he would then peel off his jacket to reveal a short-sleeved shirt (with Charles Bronson's brawny biceps).

Kovacs would then ceremoniously take off his wristwatch, mix the hypo, and develop his negatives on the spot. (Wot, no Polaroids?) For special assignments, Kovac would use a miniature camera, a fish eye lens, a telephoto attachment or various other gimmicks - all technologically accurate for the time.

The dialogue in this series tended towards the gimmicky as well. In a typical climax, Kovac went into the villain's hideout (unarmed, natch), punched the crap out of him single-handed, then threw him into the street. Lieutenant Donovan comes running along just as Kovac ominously reaches into his jacket as if drawing a weapon. "You're not going to shoot him, are you?" ... Kovac: "After all the trouble I went to, you're darn right I'm gonna shoot him." Then he pulls out his camera and he *shoots* the villain. Geddit? Hoo boy!

As played by monotone actor Bronson, Kovac could have been a dull stereotype. He was humanized somewhat by the presence of his immigrant father Anton, to whom Kovac frequently came for advice.

Now we have both seasons of the show here on a great 2-Disc DVD set from Mill Creek Entertainment. The individual episodes of 'Man with a Camera' tended to have photographic titles, such as 'Close-Up on Violence', 'Double Negative', 'The Picture War' and run 15 in the first season and 14 in the second.

In closing, and for those star spotting along the way at home, the series also boasted an impressive roster of guest stars, including Frank Faylen, Grant Williams, Angie Dickinson, Don Gordon, Harry Dean Stanton and (pre-Batgirl) Yvonne Craig. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Harts of the West - The Complete Series'
(Beau Bridges, Lloyd Bridges, Harley Jane Kozak, et al / 2-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / (1993-1994) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: After suffering a heart attack – and a major midlife crisis – a Chicago lingerie salesman (played by Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Beau Bridges) says adios to the big city and pursues his dream of becoming a cowboy.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment on a brilliant 2-Disc DVD set (complete with Digital) this October 17th, 2017, this pleasant, short-lived TV dramedy (only one season and 15 episodes were ever created, sadly) is about Dave, a Chicago salesman who decides to buy a ranch after he has a heart attack.

His family, especially his kids (whom he's named after Western actors and characters), aren't too thrilled about his dream of being a cowboy, but they go along with it.

In the pilot, Beau Bridges' mother is featured in a dream sequence where his character is about to be hanged. Bridges' father Lloyd, had a recurring role as a ranch hand and Diane Ladd appeared occasionally as Dave's crusty mother-in-law.

I remember when this was around and to be honest, the show just wasn't in a good time slot. That can kill shows dead right here, and it did for this quaint on way too soon. Add that to its leisurely pacing and odd characters, and that's probably why it didn't last long.

A great family show with a cast of quirky characters headed by Beau Bridges, his father and a greatly underrated actor in Stephen Root, rewatching it all over again now it sure was a fun show to sit down with at night.

We watch as their family goes through all the normal issues of life growing up, albeit now "stranded" out in the middle of nowhere, but still manage to get to watch some interesting stories and funny story lines along the way too.

None more so than when Dave and his family moved into town and the whole town was happy to see them - due, primarily to the fact that was was finally enough people in town to get the town put on the actual physical map!

Chock full of cattle drives, rodeos and great guest stars such as Mark Harmon as rodeo clown Sunset Sam Carver, if more care had been taken by the network in finding an audience, 'Harts Of The west' might just have been a big hit - and given us more season to now enjoy. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Super Why! Sleeping Beauty & Other Fairytales'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Reading is power and Super WHY! helps kids learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive story book adventures!

DVD Verdict: For those of you that are not aware, Super WHY! is a new series that contains a breakthrough interactive approach to reading education. Classic fairy tales with an innovative preschool twist and colorful and empowering young heroes, Super WHY! is the only preschool property created to help kids learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive storybook adventures.

In truth, my 22-month old son loves this show. He loves it because of the singing and interactive nature of the show. I love it because I teach reading at an elementary school! I enjoy the premise of the show immensely - the ability to solve "every day" problems with solutions from a book or story. I also enjoy the fact that Whyatt's super power is the power to read and a big deal is made of it each and every time.

Each of the other characters has "control" over one aspect of reading - spelling power, word power, and alphabet power. All of these skills are important for thinking about letters and sounds as connected and a part of the reading process. Kudos to PBS for providing yet another powerful show that helps our kids learn!

The lead fairytale on this wonderful new DVD enables your kids to soar into the tale of "Sleeping Beauty" with the Super Readers! When Sleeping Beauty just wants to snooze all day instead of playing outside with her friends, Super Why and the gang use their literacy powers to encourage her to try new things!

Next up on this lovely adventure-filled DVD is “The Frog Prince”, where Princess Pea wants to do ballet, and Spider wants to spin webs, so how will these two friends play together?

To find some answers, the Super Readers check out The Frog Prince and meet another Princess who can’t see eye to eye with her friend. Will the Super Readers be able to help the Princess and the Frog kiss and make up?

Then comes “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”, where Whyatt’s family is acting very sneaky and he wants to know why! The Super Readers waltz into the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses – who are acting just as secretive.

The Super Readers may be hot on the trail of the Princesses to discover what they’re concealing, but will Whyatt uncover what his family is hiding?

And, finally, “Princess Gwennie Saves the Day”, where Princess Pea is feeling dramatic (as usual) and she and Red are staging a play. Princess is pretending she’s a queen, but Red doesn’t know what to be!

The Super Readers fly into the story of a princess with a silly sense of humor and a big job to do. They help Gwennie use her talents to save the day, and Red discovers her own special gifts.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Episodes of:

"Sleeping Beauty" "The Frog Prince"
"The Twelve Dancing Princesses"
"Princess Gwennie Saves the Day"

'Super Why! Sleeping Beauty & Other Fairytale Adventures' will be available on DVD beginning October 31st, 2017 and has a run time of approximately 113 minutes.

'Wild Kratts: Wild Winter Creatures!'
(Martin Kratt, Chris Kratt / DVD / G / 2017 / PBS Kids!)

Overview: Join Martin Kratt and Chris Kratt as they embark on four snowy winter adventures! When Chris loses his creature souvenir collection in the Arctic, will he be able to get his creature treasures back before the evil Zach Varmitech finds them?

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Chris and Martin Kratt are brothers (in real life!) who explore the wild throughout the world to learn more about animals and share conservation information. They have three friends who travel in the Tortuga HQ with them named Aviva, Koki and Jimmy Z.

The brothers have creature power suits that allow them to experience what it's like to be the animals they find. The team helps them by creating power suit creature disks for each animal they study. They also bring them supplies and help them out of tricky situations when their adventures get dicey.

In 'Wild Kratts: Wild Winter Creatures!', Chris loses his creature souvenir collection in the Arctic and suddenly it's a race against time, and Evil, to get back his creature treasures before the evil Zach Varmitech finds them!

Also, Chris and Martin continue to face Zach Varmitech when he kidnaps a polar bear cub and a walrus calf, and again when he threatens to use an entire walrus herd to mine precious pearls for Donita Donata's fashion line!

In short, and containing four (4) entertaining episodes, 'Wild Kratts' is a great cartoon adventure show for kids where they can learn about new animals and why conservation is so important to the world, not just them

Also, we get to learn fun facts, straight from the box cover art work, in this case: Do polar bears hibernate in the Winter? The answer is ... ha, you'll find the answer on the back of the DVD! So go buy it today for your inquisitive young ones as any Wild Kratts DVD is a DVD that will entertain and educate your kids for the longest of times. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the four (4) Wild Kratt adventures of: “Polar Bears Don’t Dance”, “Mystery of the Weird Looking Walrus”, “Journey to the Subnivean Zone”, and “Musk Ox Mania”.

'Frontline: Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria'
(Martin Kratt, Chris Kratt / DVD / G / 2017 / PBS Kids!)

Overview: FRONTLINE reporter David Hoffman investigates the alarming rise in hospitals, communities, and across the globe of untreatable infections. Fueled by decades of antibiotic overuse, the crisis has deepened as major drug companies have abandoned the development of new antibiotics. Without swift action, the miracle age of antibiotics could be coming to an end.

DVD Verdict: This documentary is as exciting and scary as any suspense movie, not only providing explanations for how and why some bacteria has become immune to most- if not all- drugs available but showing actual patients and describing specific cases where people died or were permanently affected by bacterial infections - even as doctors struggled to find an effective drug to save them.

Although I knew that deaths due to infections of antibiotic resistant bacteria were on the rise, I didn't know that they are already a significant threat. The reality? Bacteria have formed defenses against antibiotics far sooner than many experts predicted (and those who did raise the alarm were ignored far too often).

This film convinced me that life-threatening bacterial infections are no longer uncommon events. And it could be just a matter of time before a pandemic is likely. When will a bacteria appear which is not only impervious to all antibiotics but easily spread through the world's population?

Grim as this seems, there are still options. Even if we can't prevent the rise of super strong bacteria, we still have choices we can make daily to help reduce risk. The film describes some of those options.

It is clear that much could have been done to slow the evolution of these "super" bacteria : not prescribe and take antibiotics at the first sign of illness, use a wait and see approach until a minor infection worsens, etc. Every dose of an antibiotic gives bacteria another chance to become resistant. Very strongly recommended. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Friar Alessandro: The Voice from Assisi'
(Friar Alessandro, et al / DVD / G / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Friar Alessandro performs sacred standards like "Panis Angelicus" and "Ave Maria," in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, as well as songs which share his spiritual message, including "Here I Am, Lord," "Gaelic Blessing," and more, accompanied by the Orchestra da Camera di Perugia, the choir of the Basilica, and the children's choir Coro Aurora in this rousing, inspirational concert.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Friar Alessandro is an Italian Franciscan friar and a tenor singer of religious music. He is also the first religious brother to land an exclusive record contract with a major record label, in this case Universal Music.

Friar Alessandro's debut album is called Voice from Assisi (in Italian La voce da Assisi or in French La voix d'Assise). Released in late 2012, the initial single is actually a double-A side release, featuring the tracks "Panis Angelicus" and "Sancta Maria".

He followed that up with Voice of Joy (in French, Chanter La Joie) in 2013, but has remained quiet, so to speak, with his recording career ever since. But now he has released a beautiful new DVD via PBS Distribution entitled 'Friar Alessandro: The Voice from Assisi'.

In his first major solo concert for television, Friar Alessandro performs sacred standards like "Panis Angelicus" and "Ave Maria," in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, the 800 year-old church that houses the burial place of St. Francis. The tenor also performs songs which share his spiritual message, including "Here I Am, Lord"; "Gaelic Blessing"; and many more.

Against the astonishingly beautiful medieval Life of St. Francis frescoes by Giotti that cover the entire interior of the Basilica's sanctuary, Alessandro is accompanied by the Orchestra da Camera di Perugia, the choir of the Basilica, and the childrens' choir Coro Aurora in this rousing, inspirational concert.

Bonus video! Friar Alessandro: Here I Am - Friar Alessandro speaks candidly about how he became a singer, his vocation, his passions, and more! Trust me when I say that whether you're a fan of Friar Alessandro's music or a casual, yet interested passerby, once you've watched this incredible DVD you'll be hooked. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Step' [DVD+Digital HD]
(Paula Dofat, Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, et al / DVD+Digital HD / PG / 2017 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: 'Step' documents the senior year of a girls' high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore.

DVD Verdict: OK, it has to be said that having now watched 'Step' (twice) for this review, that it is, and quite easily, now on of my favorite ever documentaries! Directed by Amanda Lipitz and distributed by Fox Searchlight, when I first heard about the film I was rather excited about it anyway, if truth be told.

Mainly because the art of stepping is such an integral part of African-American culture and history. Then when I saw it, twice, as aforementioned, and it completely exceeded every expectation I ever had set aside for it! You will instantly fall in love with all of these lovely young black women, of that have no doubt.

The film follows Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger and Tayla Solomon through their senior year at Baltimore's Leadership School for Young Women. As they navigate the college admissions race while participating in the school's step team, we are given a glimpse of African-American life devoid of stereotype or negativity.

In conclusion, 'Step' is actually a mashup of two wonderfully uplifting films into one. On the one hand, it is a film about the personal struggles and triumphs that three talented black teen girls and their middle class families face. On the other, it is a movie about a step team trying to win its first championship.

I cried, laughed, then cheered and cried with joy again! You will, too, for this powerful film is one for the decades, of that have no doubt. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes
Director Commentary By Amanda Lipitz
Lethal Ladies Music Video - 'Step Is Life'
The Lethal Ladies Of BLSYW
Inside The Rehearsal Room

'George A. Romero Between Night and Dawn'
(Raymond Laine, Judith Ridley, Jan White, Ann Muffy, Lane Carroll, et al / 3 Disc Blu-ray + 3 Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: George Romero s name may be synonymous with the living dead subgenre, but his filmography is far richer and more varied than his reputation as the zombie guy would suggest. Following the breakout success of his debut feature 'Night of the Living Dead', the director would embark upon a series of projects which, whilst firmly rooted in the horror genre for the most part, demonstrate a master filmmaker with more than mere gut-munching on his mind.

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'There's Always Vanilla', Romero's sophomore 1971 directorial effort, it relates the story of Chris, who has recently returned home after serving in the Army in Vietnam. He doesn't have a steady job, instead making money by playing guitar on other people's records and through a variety of other implied methods, eventually moving into the apartment of a young woman he meets and mooching off of her while he tries his hand at writing. His father offers him a secure "vanilla" job at his factory, but Chris rejects the offer as it doesn't suit his lifestyle.

There's not much new and exciting in this film. For the most part, it's all stuff we've already seen a thousand times before. The director, George Romero, called it his worst film, and it is often overlooked even by fans of his work. I would argue, however, that it is well worth watching for two reasons: the dialogue and the lead actor, Ray Laine.

Laine, who plays the sarcastic, apathetic Chris in one of his few film roles, delivers a fun, memorable performance. His acting is leaps and bounds ahead of the other cast members', and even if this film isn't fresh and original, his performance is. The film is never boring and the reason for that is Ray Laine, who dominates almost every scene.

It's hard not to like the character he brings to life and his dry humor and constant sarcasm, even if we almost never agree with his selfish actions and motivations. I must say, however, that the performance is a bit spotty and drags at times, but for the most part it is solid.

Similarly, the dialogue is almost always unrivaled, especially when it comes to nearly every single one of Laine's lines. He delivers most of them flawlessly and nearly all of them are extremely quotable, hilarious, or otherwise memorable. Several of the other characters have some great lines too.

One particularly memorable moment is when Chris appears at his girlfriend's apartment long after she's kicked him out. She asks him what he wants. She wants to know why he's come to bother her and he knows that that's what she's asking, but instead of answering that question he simply shrugs and replies: "A peanut butter sandwich."

This film is by no means a masterpiece, but it is entertaining at the very least and watching it would not be a waste of time. And if you're in the mood for a fun, cheesy '70's B movie, you just might end up loving it. Sure, we've seen this same old story a hundred times before, but rarely, if ever, has it come packaged with the wonderful performance and brilliant dialogue found in 'There's Always Vanilla'.

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
Affair of the Heart: The Making of There's Always Vanilla brand new documentary featuring interviews with producers John Russo and Russell Streiner, stars Judith Streiner and Richard Ricci, and sound recordist Gary Streiner

Digging Up the Dead The Lost Films of George A. Romero archive interview with Romero discussing his early films There's Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch
Location Gallery with audio commentary by Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz
Memorabilia Gallery

1972's 'Season of the Witch' (originally filmed as Jack's Wife, but released to theaters under the title of Hungry Wives) follows the exploits of Joan Mitchell a housewife whose dissatisfaction with her humdrum life leads to an unhealthy interest in the occult. Often confused with the third film in the Halloween franchise released in 1982, also entitled Season of the Witch, Romero's film tells the story of a group of bored and restless housewives that are uncomfortable with aging.

A member of their group, and the butt-end of their humor without her knowledge, is a practitioner Witch. The story focuses in on the protagonist, Joan Mitchell, who expresses interest in learning the mystical arts while sharing the same hopeless outlook on life as her companions.

Although the premise may sound like a straight forward plot the execution that follows thereafter is anything but linear. I was expecting this film to follow in the footsteps of most occult-themed titles of the time that rose in popularity as a result of mainstream coverage and celebrity interest in Anton Lavey's newly-established Church of Satan.

This formation of beliefs caused a resurgence of interest in the occult between high-ranking members of society and film- makers alike. 'Season Of The Witch' ignores religion; choosing to tackle issues concerning the always-flawed ideology of social and gender roles. Female empowerment is a prominent theme on display and this wouldn't be the last time Romero would shine light on societal issues.

There are plenty of vague scenes that offer little substance. As with most Romero films, you have a low-end cast full of actors and actresses that either use their amateur experience as a stepping stone for improvement or a paycheck to get by. Thankfully, in every Romero film I've seen, the acting is tolerable.

When you've scraped the bottom of the barrel for so long you come to appreciate some semblance of talent - because seriously, you can't even begin to imagine the rigors or hardship of sitting through a movie like 1980's Anthropophagous, a dwelling so deep beneath the Earth that it ends up in China.

The film's conclusion manages to incite a "...what the....?" response, but the path one must take to reach that point is a slow and arduous one. I'm actually on the fence when it comes to 'Season Of The Witch' - there are some moments that'll make you regret saying negative things about the movie while on the other hand it's difficult to remember anything great about it.

Brand new 4K restoration of the original theatrical version from the camera negative [90 mins]
Alternate extended version [104 mins]
Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
When Romero met Del Toro filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro in conversation with George Romero
The Secret Life of Jack's Wife archive interview with actress Jan White
Alternate Opening Titles
Memorabilia Gallery

The final movie of this box-set is 1973's 'The Crazies'. A plane crashes near Pittsburgh carrying a bacteriological weapon called "Trixie". It gets into a nearby town's water supply causing it's citizen to go crazy, some of them homicidal maniacs. Some of the town's residents try to escape through a cordon around the town set up by the Army and shooting between the residents and soldiers (who go around wearing white contamination suits) and blood spurts ensue. That pretty much sums up the plot.

Anyway, despite a longer-than-average running time, 'The Crazies' never becomes boring or tired - instead it keeps you gripped throughout until the predictably downbeat conclusion. The film expertly weaves the two aforementioned plot strands - the efforts of a small group of people to survive, and the efforts of the people in charge to contain the outbreak - together into one satisfying whole and the themes and story lines are often impressive.

I especially like the way in which the intervention of the soldiers in contamination suits eventually becomes even more dangerous for our survivors than the disease itself, and Romero dots the film with memorable disturbing images - my favorite being when a vicar dowses himself in petrol and burns himself kneeling in front of his church - so that it can easily be classed as a horror film as well as a sci-fi style thriller.

For me, the film recalls 'Night of the Living Dead' in scenes of the soldiers roaming through the countryside, gunning down those that are infected, and the madness back at the army's base in town - with various parties ranting at each other - is a subject Romero returned to with the opening scenes of 'Dawn Of The Dead'. The tension is racked up as the film progresses, as our party of survivors who hope to escape gradually dwindles and their chances are repeatedly dashed.

The acting is especially strong from the unknown cast, with female lead Lane Carroll particularly affecting as the pregnant mother caught up in the chaos and trying only to escape with her husband. The husband, played by John Saxon-lookalike Will MacMillan, is also a strong and this time heroic character who you end up rooting for.

Also memorable are Harold Wayne Jones as 'Clank', the friend who ends up turning crazy himself in memorable style, whilst the various colonels and doctors involved also have strong roles. Fans of Romero's 'Day Of The Dead' may also spot Richard Liberty (the Doc) in this film as a family man turned insane, who ends up desiring his beautiful elfin daughter Kathy. Played by Lynn Lowry, she is as tragic and as she is disturbing throughout. Fantastic acting. Acting at its finest.

Brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative
Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
Romero Was Here: Locating The Crazies Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz takes us on a guided tour of Evans City, PA and the locations used in The Crazies
Crazy for Lynn Lowry cult star Lynn Lowry discusses her early career including her role in The Crazies
Q&A with Lynn Lowry filmed at the 2016 Abertoir Film Festival
Audio interview with producer Lee Hessel
Behind-the-scenes footage with optional commentary by Lawrence DeVincentz
Alternate Opening Titles
Image Galleries
Trailers & TV Spots

These are all Full Screen presentations (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the overall Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
Original Mono Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
Limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger, Kier-La Janisse and Heather Drain

'George A. Romero Between Night and Dawn' Box-Set [Blu-ray+DVD] will be available for purchase on November 14th, 2017.

'George A. Romero Between Night and Dawn' Box-Set [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'The Voice of the Moon: Special Edition'
(Roberto Benigni, Paolo Villaggio, Nadia Ottavaini, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / (1990) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: The swansong of the great Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini (La dolce vita, 8½), 'The Voice of the Moon' emerged without fanfare: it played the Cannes Film Festival out of competition after its Italian premiere and failed to secure distribution in North America and the UK. This new restoration from the original negative seeks to right that wrong and provide the film with a second chance.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, it's a damn pity that Fellini's last film is not better known as it represents something of a return to form after a series of disappointments. Fellini's visual imagination is still intact but some of the wonderful precision of imagery is no longer present.

Perhaps by the end of his career too many of his old collaborators had died or retired. The best part is the first half hour seen entirely from the perspective of the insane central characters. Their obsession with the moon provides the alibi for many evocative night shots, (I've often thought that one thing that distinguishes great film makers is how they film the night), as well as the spectacular climactic sequence when they imagine that they have trapped the moon.

Elsewhere there is typical Fellini fun with the crowning of 'Miss Flower' complete with an outsize King and Queen of the Gnocci and a final shower of flower on all the contestants. 'La voce della Luna' (as it's more commonly known) shares much of Ginger and Fred's distaste for the contemporary world summed up in a sequence in which a disco rave is interrupted by a Strauss waltz.

This is far more poetic and unexpected than anything in the predictable Ginger and Fred. Those worried by the narrative incoherence of Fellini can bury their boring heads in a screen writing manual. Perhaps the current international popularity of Roberto Benigni, little known outside Italy when the film was made may yet allow this flawed but haunting film to gain the audience it deserves. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original 1.0 mono sound (uncompressed on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles
Towards the Moon with Fellini, a rarely seen hour-long documentary on the film's production, featuring interviews with Fellini, Roberto Benigni and Paolo Villagio
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone

'The Voice of the Moon: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] will be available for purchase on October 31st, 2017.

'The Voice of the Moon: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'Whisky Galore!' [Blu-ray]
(Eddie Izzard, Gregor Fisher, Ellie Kendrick, Sean Biggerstaff, James Cosmo, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1990) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Whisky Galore!' is the charming and heart-warming tale of a community of Islanders on a remote Scottish Island during WW2 coming together to relieve a sinking ship of its amber cargo.

Blu-ray Verdict: At the height of WWII, the remote Outer Hebridean island of Todday (IRL Portsoy, near Aberdeen) runs out of whisky. Then, the RMS Cabinet Minister is wrecked, with a cargo of 50,000 cases of whisky and the abdicated King Edward VIII's love letters on board.

The islanders band together to thwart attempts by the local Home Guard commander and customs to find the bottles. Also, the postmaster's two beautiful daughters are getting married and need whisky for the celebrations. (Cue idyllic Celtfest wedding scene).

'Whisky Galore!' is truly beautiful to look at, the sense of period is pretty good, and once you get used to the slow pace and lack of any LOL moments, it passes the time quite pleasantly. Don't expect anything more. The shipwreck is quite a while in coming, and the raid on the wreck has to wait for Sunday to pass. Towards the end there's a car chase at about 20mph.

My two problems with the film are that the actual number of characters whose stories all seem to to be of the same importance - there's no central character like Bombolini in 'The Secret of Santa Vittoria', does tend to get a wee bit fuddled, and secondly, the sanitized, prosperous, oh-so-comfortable lifestyle they all enjoy seems a wee bit OTT for my real life liking.

But, that said, the wedding scene, where there are dozens of lights strung over the square, is stunning to behold, sure, but begs the question Where does a remote Scottish island in the middle of WWII get all that power from? Where do they all get the petrol for their jaunts everywhere?

So, as much as 'Whisky Galore!' exudes relative greatness here, there's absolutely no sense of the islanders having any hardship at all. Which given their circumstances, and what's at stake for two minor characters' weddings, the free whisky seems very little to hang a drama on. That said, it is an enjoyable romp, and would you believe, this charming remake of the Ealing classic is all based on a true story! This is a Widescreen presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Whisky Galore!' [Blu-ray] will be available for purchase on November 7th, 2017.

'Whisky Galore!' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Now More Than Ever: The History Of Chicago'
(Chicago / DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago' is the unbelievable true story of the rock band Chicago. Spanning 50 years, from 1967 to the present day, it highlights a band that has sold over 100 million records and has never taken a year off of touring, still playing well over 100 shows a year.

DVD Verdict: For those not completely in the know, Chicago is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. The self-described "rock and roll band with horns" began as a politically charged, sometimes experimental, rock band and later moved to a predominantly softer sound, generating several hit ballads.

The group had a steady stream of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Since at least 2008, Billboard has shown Chicago to be the "greatest of all time" American band in singles chart success, and since 2015, the "greatest of all time" American band in album chart success as well.

Chicago is one of the longest-running and most successful rock groups, and one of the world's best-selling groups of all time, having sold more than 100 million records.

Here in the just-released 'Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago', filmmaker Peter Pardini and Chicago have collectively produced a definitive history of the band. Extensive enough to delight long-time fans and concise enough to tell their story to a wider audience and for the posterity of rock and roll history.

This film cuts through the mystery and the myth, and to tell the tale Pardini intersperses vintage footage and photographs with original interviews and stylized cinematic recreations.

Indeed, earlier in the year, the film debuted at several festivals, winning the "Best of Fest" audience choice award at its debut at the 2016 Sedona International Film Festival and also the People's Choice award at the Fort Myers Film Festival.

Since its showing at the festivals, the film been updated to reflect Chicago's long overdue 2016 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And rightly so, for 'Now More Than Ever' transcends the genre of rock documentaries.

Most importantly, the film retains focus on why their story is important and compelling: the quality of Chicago's entire catalog of music and their bond as a band of brothers. Peter Pardini brought a refreshing perspective to documenting Chicago's history on screen.

He is the nephew of Chicago's keyboardist and vocalist Lou Pardini and has worked with the band on projects for the past five years. Chicago's sound engineer Tim Jessup took the film from the theater to our living rooms by mixing it in stereo specifically for the CNN Films broadcast.

A culmination of three and a half years of work by a dedicated team pays off in a forever endearing and glorious ride through the history of a great American rock band. The editing of the vintage footage, a perfectly paced narrative, and recreations elevate the film to cinematic grace. Pardini's 'Now More Than Ever' possesses a delicate sense of perspective, creating the effect of the viewer as a fly-on-the-wall for the most iconic and prescient moments of one of the world's most beloved bands. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Now More Than Ever: The History Of Chicago' [DVD] will be available for purchase on October 13th, 2017.

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'Lewis Black: Black To The Future'
(Lewis Black / DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: The king of the rant, LEWIS BLACK uses his trademark style to skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin.

DVD Verdict: For those not completely in the know, Lewis Black is an American stand-up comedian, author, playwright, social critic, and actor.

He is best known for his angry demeanor and belligerent comedic style, in which he often simulates having a mental breakdown.

His comedy routines often escalate into angry rants about history, politics, religion, or any other cultural trends. He hosted the Comedy Central series Lewis Black's Root of All Evil and made regular appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart delivering his "Back in Black" commentary segment.

His latest stand-up comedy DVD (also released as an equally brilliant 2CD), 'Lewis Black: Black To The Future' arrives just in time for the elections of 2016, where he makes his return to the live stage to take on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; amongst others, of course.

Not everyone's opinionated cup o' tea, for those who do enjoy Black's style of humor, this is about as hilarious and entertaining as Black has ever been. I laughed harder at this hour than I have at anything else I've watched this year!

While the special is mostly about the 2016 election, there are enough side topics and detours that the majority of the material still holds up today; as poignant as ever, in fact.

Black is a very smart comedian, one who does a great job at analyzing and talking about problems without seeming pretentious or preachy. Here, Black delivers a great blend of political commentary and dirty jokes. Even those who don't like political comedy are likely to get a kick out of some of Black's points here.

OK, sure, not every single joke works, and there are couple times where there's a bit too much space between punchlines for my liking, but overall 'Black to the Future' is highly recommended to those in search of losing themselves for an hour.

Working equally as well as a visual show or popping the CDs into your car stereo system and laughing along with him audibly as you drive to and from work, 'Black To The Future' cements Black's place right there the top of his game; in my humble opinion, of course.

The DVD is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Program "The Rant Is Due: Live From Napa". Whereas the 2CD set contains the Bonus Program "This Should Have Been A Special"; a bonus program of the comedy set that was almost lost! The show was recorded at Milwaukee's historic Pabst Theater in 2016 and is a right royal gem, trust me!

'Lewis Black: Black To The Future' [DVD] and the CD will both be available for purchase on October 13th, 2017.

'Lewis Black: Black To The Future' [DVD] Purchase Link

'Lewis Black: Black To The Future' [CD] Purchase Link

A Tribute To Les Paul: Live From Universal Studios
(Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Slash, Buddy Guy, Joe Perry, Edgar Winter, et el / DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Some of music's biggest names come together to honor the ultimate icon Les Paul. The night is headlined by show-stopping numbers from an all-star slate of Paul disciples, inclusive of Slash and Edgar Winter teaming up, amongst others.

DVD Verdict: For those not completely in the know, Les Paul was an American jazz, country, and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor.

He was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar. Paul taught himself how to play guitar, and while he is mainly known for jazz and popular music, he had an early career in country music.

Indeed, he is credited with many recording innovations. Although he was not the first to use the technique, his early experiments with overdubbing (also known as sound on sound), delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects and multi track recording were among the first to attract widespread attention.

His innovative talents extended into his playing style, including licks, trills, chording sequences, fretting techniques and timing, which set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired many guitarists of the present day.

Directed by Evan Haiman (Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar) and produced by Charles Carlini (Les Paul's 90th Birthday Concert at Carnegie Hall), Bob Cutarella (Les Paul & Friends), Howard Lipp, Glenn Aveni (Les Paul Chasing Sound), this 2006 musical tribute to the man who made one of the world's best known guitars is one of the finest live get together's I think I've seen in a long, long time.

Indeed, Michael Braunstein, Executive Director of the Les Paul Foundation stated has since stated that "It is without a doubt that Les Paul is the 'Father of Modern Music' and that musicians from every corner of the globe and in every genre of music stand upon his shoulders".

"He was an inventor, an award-winning musician, and an innovator of the recording industry. The artists and producers who have made this tribute program possible give us every reason to remember that Les Paul was a man who influenced our music industry profoundly".

I am thrilled that viewers worldwide will witness Les' greatest attributes through the performances and storytelling of this program".

Filmed live at what was then the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles on February 8, 2006, 'A Tribute To Les Paul: Live From Universal Studios Hollywood' gives viewers a front row seat for an unforgettable night of powerhouse performances, as some of music's biggest names come together to honor the ultimate icon.

The night is headlined by show-stopping numbers from an all-star slate of Paul disciples that includes Slash and Edgar Winter teaming up on the Stevie Wonder staple "Superstition"; TOTO axeman Steve Lukather's rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing"; and Joe Perry and Buddy Guy closing the night with a soulful blues set. Other highlights include spirited performances by Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, recent Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Neal Schon, and more.

As part of the night's festivities, 'A Tribute To Les Paul: Live From Universal Studios Hollywood' also features rare commentary taken from several of Paul's final interviews recorded at New York's landmark Iridium Jazz Club, as well as at Paul's home in Mahwah, New Jersey.

This oh-so special event was held to raise funds and awareness for the South Central charity A Place Called Home, designed to give at-risk youth a safe and secure environment they can thrive in.

"Superstition" (Slash, Steve Lukather, Edgar Winter)
"Little Wing" (Steve Lukather)
"Watch Boogie" (Joe Satriani)
"House Full Of Bullets" (Joe Satriani)
"Going Down Slow" (Joe Perry, Buddy Guy)
"Hooch Koochie Man" (Joe Perry, Buddy Guy)
"Lovin' Cup" (Robben Ford)
"I Wanna Know You" (Neal Schon, Shayna Steele)
"Rock & Roll Hooch Koo" (Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Steve Lukather, & Edgar Winter)

This is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'A Tribute To Les Paul: Live From Universal Studios' [DVD] will be available for purchase on September 8th, 2017.

'A Tribute To Les Paul: Live From Universal Studios' [DVD] Purchase Link

'L7: Pretend We're Dead' [Blu-ray+DVD]
(L7 / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'L7: Pretend We're Dead' takes us on an all-access journey into the 1990's grunge movement that took the world by storm, and the band that helped define it as the genre of a generation.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not completely in the know, L7 is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California, United States. They were active from 1985 to 2001, and reunited in 2014.

Due to their sound and image, they are often associated with the grunge movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s. L7 influenced many of the riot grrrl bands of the 1990s.

Culled from over 100 hours of vintage home movies taken by the band, never-before-seen performance footage, and candid interviews, 'L7: Pretend We're Dead' is an engrossing time capsule told from the perspective of L7, these true insiders who brought their signature blend of grunge punk to the masses.

Chronicling the early days of the band's formation in 1985 to their height as the 'queens of grunge,' the film takes a roller coaster ride through L7's triumphs and failures, providing never-before-discussed insight into the band's eventual dissolution in 2001.

Formed by Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner-guitars/vocals, the band completed their lineup with the addition of Jennifer Finch on bass/vocals and Dee Plakas on drums.

To highlight the fact that L7 was an all-female group, however, was to miss the point. "Our fans couldn't give a sh*t if we're women," Sparks says. "We did not set out to be an all-girl band. It just happened that way."

Yet the gender issue would return time and again for the band; from shock jocks refusing to play chick rock to academics accusing the band of "incorrectly" embracing their feminism to hard rock press implying the band was merely riding a wave of the aforementioned grrrl power trendiness.

Oh, and as for how 'Pretend We're Dead' actually came about, Sparks herself relates a tale-lost-in-time recap of that musical birth: "I was in my apartment in Echo Park listening to the cassette I’d made, trying to write some lyrics. I was heartbroken at the time. I was actually devastated."

"And the first thing that came to my mind was, “I just pretend that you’re dead.” And I didn’t mean it in a malicious way, not like I wanted him dead or anything, but I truly felt that the only way I could get through this was to pretend this guy was dead. I had to mourn him."

"And then immediately, in my mind, I’m like, I’m not writing that. It’s just not gonna happen. What about, “pretend we’re dead”? I liked that because that was a children’s game. And then it became kind of a commentary on Reagan/Bush–era apathy."

For more goldenly nostalgic stories such as that, and a whole lot more, check out 'L7: Pretend We're Dead' now on MVD Visual. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with Bonus Performances, a 12 Page Photo Booklet, and even Bonus Scenes!

'L7: Pretend We're Dead' [Blu-ray+DVD] will be available for purchase on October 27th, 2017.

'L7: Pretend We're Dead' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

L7 @ Facebook

'War For The Planet Of The Apes' [Blu-ray+DVD]
(Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Toby Kebbell, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / PG-13 / 2017 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

Blu-ray Verdict: The new 'Planet of the Apes' franchise has been an unexpected and surprising success, easily equaling the quality of its iconic ancestral lineage, or even arguably surpassing it.

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' was always going to be a tough act to follow but thankfully 'War' bucks the trilogy trend of the third film often being a lesser installment.

It's not as well executed or as well structured as 'Dawn', but it's an excellent film nonetheless and builds upon an already rich mythology that offers up an elaborate explanation as to how Charlton Heston came back from space to find himself on a damn monkey planet.

Matt Reeves returns for directing duties and recaptures the same foreboding and tension he evoked the last time around. This is a very downbeat and bleak movie, so much so I actually had to remind myself that this is a summer blockbuster produced and released by 20th Century Fox.

It's incredible to think that something as dark as this can still sneak under the wire and into the mainstream, and we should all be thankful of that fact. Andy Serkis has graduated across the series from being the plot device of 'Rise', to the dual protagonist of 'Dawn', to the full-on lead character of 'War', and his motion captured performance is truly remarkable.

You can even tell it's his face at certain points - a sneer here, a frown there - and I fully believe this performance should qualify him for an Academy Award nomination for Lead Actor. He's the crown jewel of this franchise and he leads the charge from beginning to end this time around. I also have to make room for Steve Zahn's performance as a newly introduced ape, who is about the closest thing to a comic relief this film gets and his comic timing and tender eccentricity allows some breathing room between all the doom and gloom.

The crowning achievement of this trilogy is its ability to seamlessly blend technological craft with human artistry. I have always favored practical effects over CGI, but my god, even I can't deny just how magnificent the visual effects are. This is as close to photo-real you will see.

The title of the film is somewhat of a mislead since it's a much smaller and more intimate story this time around, and I feel there was more of an epic war taking place in 'Dawn'. This is much more of a revenge tale, framed through the eyes of our protagonist Caesar, who we have seen grow up and mature into a leader across the two previous films, which lends a greater sense of dimension and complexity to his character.

Watching him and his clan strike back against the remnants of the human race becomes an interesting exercise for us. As human beings we are naturally predisposed to the survival of our species, even in fiction, and usually films set in a post-apocalyptic world tend to lean heavily towards that as the goal.

The 'Apes' films ask us to do something else - they ask us to root AGAINST the human race, and that does create a conflict within us as viewers. Not all humans are bad, and we know where this story is taking us once you factor in 'Planet of the Apes' 1968, yet at the same time these apes are every bit as complex and fallible and heroic and dangerous as we are.

They have an equal right to live and build a future together. And while this film definitely comes down on the side of the apes, unlike 'Dawn' which showed the failings of both sides to make peace, it is a strange experience rooting for them to win this time around since there are no real human allies like James Franco or Jason Clarke's characters.

In any other film, the apes would be the villains and Woody Harrelson's Colonel character makes a good case as to why he sees it that way, even though the filmmakers jettison his humanity in order to paint him as a more out-and-out villain. After all, we, the audience, have to be on side come the finale, especially come the arrival of an unexpected deus ex machina.

This has been an intelligent and emotionally and morally complex series of films that have raised interesting questions about animal rights, speciesism, societal hierarchies, leadership and subservience, communication, conflict and peace.

They are not simply mindless sci-fi movies cashing in on an existing property. Both of the previous films have been deeply thoughtful explorations of those aforementioned themes and ideas. So I am very pleased to report that 'War for the Planet of the Apes' proudly carries that torch all the way through to its beautifully biblical final moments. This is a Widescreen presentation (2:39.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio Commentary by Director Matt Reeves
Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Director Matt Reeves
- Graveyard
- Turncoats
- Barrier Wall
- “I Owe You One”
- “A Great Man”
- “Do Not Lose Hope”
- Snowfall
- The Colonel’s Speech
- Malcolm and the Dinosaurs
- “I Am Like Koba”
Apes: The Meaning of It All
“All About Caesar” Featurette
Concept Art Gallery
WETA: Pushing Boundaries
Music for Apes
The Apes Saga: An Homage

As for these special features, well, as much as two thirds of them are simply Deleted Scenes (which are always nice to watch and weave back into the original story line, the Audio Commentary by director Matt Reeves is interesting, revealing at times, but for the most part it distracts from watching the actual film.

That said, the .52 second "All About Caesar" Featurette may well be short and sweet, but wow, watch it and tell me you're not blown away by Andy Serkis and his CGI work. It is the greatest less-than-a-minute bonus feature I've seen in a long, long time!

Another delightful, stirring Featurette is entitled "Music for Apes" and features the brilliant composer Michael Giacchino doing some of his finest work to date; in my humble opinion. "The Apes Saga: An Homage" is a all-encompassing look at what's gone before, what's here now, and what's to come, and is an interesting watch if you're new to the series.

'War For The Planet Of The Apes' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital] will be available for purchase on October 27th, 2017.

'War For The Planet Of The Apes' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital] Purchase Link

'I Called Him Morgan'
(Lee Morgan, Helen Moore, et al / DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: In February 1972, celebrated jazz musician Lee Morgan was shot dead by his common-law wife Helen during a gig at a club in New York City. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts those who knew the Morgans. This feature documentary by filmmaker Kasper Collin is a love letter to two unique personalities and the music that brought them together.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, Lee Morgan was an American jazz trumpeter. Known mainly as one of the key hard bop musicians of the 1960s, Morgan came to prominence in his late teens, recording on John Coltrane's Blue Train (1957) and with the band of drummer Art Blakey before launching a solo career.

Morgan stayed with Blakey until 1961 and started to record as leader soon after. His song "The Sidewinder", on the album of the same name, became a surprise crossover hit on the pop and R&B charts in 1964, while Morgan's recordings found him touching on other styles of music as his artistry matured.

Soon after The Sidewinder was released, Morgan rejoined Blakey for a short period of time. After leaving Blakey for the final time, Morgan continued to work prolifically as both a leader and a sideman with the likes of Hank Mobley and Wayne Shorter, becoming, in the words of critic Steve Huey, "[a] cornerstone of the Blue Note label roster".

Morgan's career was cut short at the age of 33, when his common-law wife shot and killed him following a confrontation at Slug's Saloon.

I knew that his life had come to a tragic end when he was just in his early thirties, but I was surely lacking in the true details as to what led to his death. Not any more, for in 2016, Swedish film writer/director Kasper Collin released this highly revealed documentary 'I Called Him Morgan.' A beautiful and poignant portrayal of Lee Morgan's professional life, that started as a sideman at age 18 to the great Dizzy Gillespie, the film brings us just enough information about that fateful night without it being too gruesome to partake in.

Indeed, as it turns out, and of which I had no clue, Morgan had a tremendous struggle with heroin that could have ruined not just his musical career, but his personal future. An older woman who would eventually become Morgan's common-law wife, Helen Moore, entered Morgan's life and became all that he would need to get him back on his feet.

This film pays great tribute to Moore's love for Morgan and her place in the more personal side of the New York jazz scene during the peak of Morgan's career. A falling out over Morgan's switching his attention to another woman would lead to his tragic end, however, and seriously effect the jazz community and Helen Moore's life.

The jazz enthusiast in me would perhaps beg for more musical performance, but I believe Collin gave us just enough that a young person with musical interests might explore Morgan's music and/or the genre known as jazz. What brings this documentary to life are the excerpts from a recorded interview with Morgan's wife Helen, filmed interviews with former band mates, and vivid black and white stills taken during both performances and leisure time.

The band mates, in particular Wayne Shorter, express great affection for Lee Morgan. It's easy to sense the hurt that was felt when they lost Morgan at such an early age. Jazz fans, and film fans especially should be pleased with this documentary release. If you are found to be neither, regardless, I believe you will find 'I Called Him Morgan' a fascinating film. This is a Surround Sound, Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, with English Subtitles, and features the official 'I Called Him Morgan' trailer.

'PBS Kids! Happy Birthday!'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS Kids!)

Overview: Break out the balloons and streamers it's a birthday celebration! From choosing a cake to planning a surprise party, join some of your favorite PBS KIDS characters for 10 birthday themed stories!

DVD Verdict: What a wonderful idea this is from PBS! Containing 10 episodes (all previously aired) from PBS Kids shows such as Caillou, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train, Peg + Cat and more, 'PBS Kids! Happy Birthday!' is one joyous celebration from start to finish.

By now, as followers of this magazine, let alone those great PBS Kids TV shows, you'll know all about the characters that inhabit them. Chock full of learning opportunities, fun facts, and oh-so colorful scenery and characters both, 'PBS Kids! Happy Birthday!' showcases the art of choosing a cake, planning the big days worth of surprises, and buying the birthday recipient the most perfect of gifts.

Inclusive of one episode each from this wondrous list of PBS Kids! TV shows - Arthur, Caillou, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train, Odd Squad, Peg + Cat, Reading Rainbow, Super WHY!, Wild Kratts, and WorldWorld - once you put this into your player, just sit back and let the kids get on with life - as they'll be transfixed and learning and laughing their way through the morning for you, of that you can be sure. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & The Quest ...
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 'Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & The Quest for Meaning' explores the fundamental characteristics of myth, reality, ritual, and imagination, and tells the story of C.S. Lewis's intellectual journey into the realm of faith, which began at a meeting with fellow author J.R.R. Tolkien.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the full know, and as always, it's best to start with the complete facts, J.R.R. Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor who is best known as the author of the classic high-fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

C.S. Lewis was a British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist. He held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954–1963).

Indeed, he is best known for his works of fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

'Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & The Quest for Meaning', out now from PBS Home Entertainment, has got to be one of the most fascinating documentaries that I have ever had the pleasure to view.

As simple an hour as our narrative host spinning forth fundamental characteristics of myth, reality, ritual, and imagination, it tells the story of C.S. Lewis's intellectual journey into the realm of faith - which began at a meeting with fellow author J.R.R. Tolkien.

It examines the process in which myth inspires the imagination, especially the imaginative process of Tolkien and Lewis. It also delves into the question of in what ways does faith play into the fantasy and fictional works of Lewis and Tolkien?

Indeed, 'Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & The Quest for Meaning' engages scholars from various spiritual and academic viewpoints while challenging viewers to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of life and the role that mythology and imagination play in determining belief. Fascinating from start to finish. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Epic Fantasy - 5 Mini-Series Gift Set'
(Sam Neill, Armand Asante, Helena Bonham Carter, John Gielgud, Zooey Deschanel, Neal McDonough, et al / 8-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Wizardry, journeys to mystical lands and sorcery are all included in this epic fantasy collection of best-selling Made-for-TV Miniseries. Starring Sam Neill, John Gielgud, James Earl Jones, Ted Danson and more, this set includes "Merlin" (1998), "Gulliver's Travels" (1996), "Tinman" (2007), "Odyssey" (1997), and "10th Kingdom" (2000). 21 hrs, 8 DVD's.

DVD Verdict: We begin with "Tin Man"" (2-Disc, NR, 2007, starring Zooey Deschanel, Neal McDonough and Richard Dreyfus. "Tin Man" is a modern science fiction update of L. Frank Baum’s timeless 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.'

When a sorceress named Azkadellia scorches the once-beautiful land of OZ into a desolate wasteland, the only hope lies in an "outsider" named DG, a young Midwestern woman, whose troubling dreams have summoned her to the doomed paradise. D.G. embarks on a journey to find the great mystic man to save the O.Z.

Personally, I loved the premise behind this - a darker, more adult, epic fantasy version of the Wizard of Oz. I was actually pretty psyched about seeing this. Did it deliver? Well, kind of.

The plot moves along at a good clip for the most part, and the special effects are surprisingly well-done for a made-for-TV miniseries. I liked that the monkey bats seemed to be some sort of puppetry or stop motion rather than entirely CGI. But overall, I was left with the feeling that this series could have been so much better.

One of the biggest problems for me was the dialogue. Tin Man suffers from a severe case of "writer speak" - characters spout lots of "clever" lines that no real person would ever say. It doesn't help that Zooey Deschanel seems to be locked into a narrow range of acting. I don't know if it's her fault or the director's, but regardless of what's going on she conveys a deadpan, sardonic nonchalance. When she's swept into another world by a supernatural storm, she takes it in stride with a shrug and a quip.

Despite things like this, I don't regret watching "Tin Man". There were some genuinely funny moments and enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me engaged. Oh, and watch out for those pesky munchkins as they're now a bunch of psychotic, ugly tree-dwelling trolls!

Next up is "The 10th Kingdom" (3-Disc, NR, 2000, starring Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Scott Cohen, John Larroquette and Dianne Wiest). A father and daughter are caught in a parallel universe where the great queens Snow White, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood have had their kingdoms fragmented by warring trolls, giants and goblins.

In truth, and as much as people have batted this theory around over the years, come on now: "The 10th Kingdom" is clearly based on Germany! This is culled from several details including: its central location on the map of the kingdoms (which was based on a map of Europe), its large size, and the proposition that it be divided into quarters to be run by the Council of the Nine Kingdoms (akin to Germany's division by the Allies after WWII).

Anyway, that aside (as it's always a bone on contention whenever 'The 10th Kingdom' is brought up in conversation, for my money, and a shed load of others, trust me, "The 10th Kingdom" has to be one of the most captivating, spellbinding movies to come along in years! So many have tried, but few have succeeded in creating such a beautifully woven masterpiece as "The 10th Kingdom". There isn't a moment of this movie that I did not wholeheartedly enjoy.

Sure, it's long ... VERY long, but with its spectacular visuals, compelling story line, and off-beat but lovable characters, 'The 10th Kingdom' takes you along for the journey that so captivates, you hardly notice the time that passes. This movie is an adventure of epic proportions that I would rank up there with 'The Neverending Story' and 'The Princess Bride'. Actually, as far as fairy tales go, I daresay this is better!

The cast is perfect for each of their roles and acted them out spectacularly. The script is excellent with its many references to so many beloved fairy tales re: Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, and so, so many more. The scenes with the Trolls and with Snow White were spellbinding. You could literally get lost in this film and never want to escape.

Then comes "The Odyssey" (PG-13, 1997, starring Armand Assante, Greta Scacchi and Eric Roberts). This Prime time Emmy award-winning Mini-Series presents the impeccable journey of Odysseus, King of Ithaca, and his incredible journey as he strives to provide his kingdom with gifts that one could never buy.

The cast is full of well-known names, some of whom do better than others. Assante is a believable Odysseus. He's given some time to mourn the loss of his men, as is proper, and is allowed to weep convincingly. Of the rest, most are pretty good. Except, I must say that Vanessa Williams, a real stunner, is poorly wardrobed (when she's wearing anything) and sounds like an amateur actress compared to the others. Eric Roberts is Eurymachus, the chief suitor, and adds some touches to the role as a real unlikely chap.

The special effects beat those in any other version that I'm aware of. Scylla, the multiple-headed monster who snatches men off ships and eats them, is truly spooky, looking like a highly sentient and directional Venus fly trap. Ugh. The cyclops is no better. He traps the Greeks in his cave and after eating one or two, he gets drunk until, as Homer put it in one translation, he falls asleep "dribbling liquor and bits of men." The "no-man" ruse is retained.

In truth, "Odyssey" is a pretty good story for a whole family. The kids will learn something about ancient Greece and they'll be entertained by the (considerable) violence. So, take it or leave it due to just those facts, I guess.

Following along next is "Merlin" (NR, 1998, starring Miranda Richardson, Sam Neill and Isabella Rossellini). Wizard Merlin strays from his cryptic ways when a beautiful woman touches his heart – his dark, mysterious ways are soon changed with a new love interest, and he must fight to prove his skill set as he strives for positive change.

If you like your fantasy a little light-hearted, then you may well find this movie to be the better choice for you. Where Excalibur is a much more serious, dark fantasy (admittedly touched with the wonderfully delivered humor of Nicol Williamson's Merlin), this movie is more cheerful, and a far more family-friendly version of the myth.

As a made-for-TV production, you could never expect this to have the same quality of final delivery that Excalibur had. Indeed, it doesn't, and its sparse CGI (although above-average for this grade of production) shows up its low budget when it is on screen. But what it lacks in money it makes up for with ambition. It's clear that this has a real drive to be more than most TV movies, and it certainly achieves that, with an extremely solid supporting cast that adds a lot of color and character to the production.

In the end, I suppose it's similar to comparing The Dark Knight to Adam West's Batman. As a pure movie, there's really no contest about which is the better made, the better movie or the better production - but the charm of Adam West's Batman goes beyond its production, and it's the same with Merlin when compared to Excalibur.

Lastly, we have my own personal favorite of the five mini-series', "Gulliver's Travels" (PG, 1996, starring Ted Danson, Alfre Woodard, Peter O'Toole and Mary Steenburgen). Set sail with this Primetime Emmy award-winning Miniseries- 18th century Englishman, Gulliver, as he travels to mystical lands, each with new hardships, encounters, and sorcery.

Lemuel Gulliver (Ted Danson) is a doctor who goes missing at sea, leaving pregnant wife Mary (Mary Steenburgen) behind. Eight years later, he turns up, disheveled and seemingly mad - babbling about his adventures in the lands of the tiny Lilliputians, the giant Brobdingnags, the floating island of the intellectual Laputa, and the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent, talking horses who have to deal with the Yahoos - a race of bestial humans - among many other adventures.

The not-so-good Dr. Bates (James Fox), who has designs on Lemuel's wife, has Gulliver incarcerated in a mental institution, and Lemuel, Mary, and son Thomas (Tom Sturridge) must find a way to prove his sanity.

A splendid adaptation of Jonathan Swift's satirical novel, this film is a magnificent adaptation on so many levels: the story, the satire, the characters, the visuals, the brilliant cast. It's simply a treat to watch, and it's almost amazing considering that it was a made-for-TV film.

The film does a brilliant job of capturing Swift's vicious satire, which cuts like a hatchet through British society of the time, but still resonates today. The wise Brobdingnags and the Houyhnhnms are almost perfect individuals who find it virtually impossible to understand why Gulliver speaks with such pride of the vices and corruptions of his society.

The scenes where Gulliver struggles to prove himself different from the Yahoos are perhaps the best, with biting satire in describing how they pick their leaders ("they seem to pick the worst among them. . . who rules until they find someone even worse"), go to war ("We only go to war for a very good reason - such as they are weaker than us, or we want all of their land"), etc.

The film makes use of beautiful, and fairly convincing CGI effects depicting the very diverse settings of the novel with great effect. The contrast of sizes is done in a very skillful way, and all of the worlds depicted in the story are convincing in their own way. The cinematography (particularly that concerning the asylum) and the costumes are brilliantly done. The editing of the present with Lemuel's memories is a device which could be awkward, but works very well.

Most well-known for his work on sit-com, Danson shows that he's more than just Sam Malone with this wonderful serio-comic performance. Mary Steenburgen is effective as his wife, and James Fox is absolutely repulsive as Bates.

The rest of the cast is made up mostly of cameos, with Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Warwick Davis, Kristin Scott Thomas, Geraldine Chaplin, Alfre Woodward, Edward Fox, and Sir John Gielgud being the most memorable - but even the smallest parts are very well-played. This is a series of Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Horror Hall Of Fame - 26 Classic Horror Films'
(Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, et al / 9-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Hungry for Horror? Stay glued to the edge of your seat with a 26 film bundle including some of the greatest works from the masters of Horror.

DVD Verdict: Obviously given that this wonderful, truly magnificent box-set contains 26 horror films, I won't be reviewing each and every one of them! But, what I will be doing is exploring a couple each of my favorites from each chapter contained within the actual box-set.

The five chapters spread over the 9 discs are: Classic Horror, Hammer Film Collection Volume One, Hammer Film Collection Volume Two, Boris Karloff Collection, and Vincent Price Collection.

In 'Five' (1951, Black and White), starring William Phipps, Susan Douglas, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin, and Earl Lee, when a nuclear bomb destroys the world, only five survivors remain. A pregnant woman, a philosopher, a black man, a banker and an explorer seek shelter in an abandoned house. As the last living human beings, they must work together. However, their clashing visions of the future could lead to their destruction.

Post-nuclear-war dramas centering on a small group of survivors now constitute an entire genre in science-fiction films. All of them, in some way or another, can be traced back to this seminal film from 1951 in which five people deal with the possibility they are the only human beings left alive on the planet. While most of the later movies exploited this possibility for B-movie thrills, 'Five' adopts a quiet, contemplative tone which some may find dull but which thoughtful viewers are more likely to find, for want of a better word, haunting. There is something about this movie which gets under the skin and which lurks in the corners of the mind long after it's over.

In 'The Mad Magician' (1954, Black and White) starring Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor, John Emery, Donald Randolph, and Lenita Lane Gallico the Great, a magician and master of disguise, turns into a homicidal maniac when his manager closes his show and gives his tricks to a rival magician. No one is safe as he begins to take out his victims with the same methods he used to create his illusions.

The plot is basic, and had been done before re: a Magician uses elaborate props from his magic act to dole out revenge on those who have wronged him in his professional life. First is a disloyal partner. Next, a rival magician. Price later impersonates them, by using elaborate masks, keeping them "alive," and effectively leading a double life, to keep suspecting eyes away from him and his crimes. 'House of Wax,' anybody?!

In 'The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll' (1960, Color) starring Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, David Kossoff, Norma Marla, and Francis De Wolff, absorbed in research directed towards freeing the two natures of man, Dr. Jekyll degenerates in to Mr. Hyde, a vengeful maniac. While Hyde wants revenge against a gambler whom his wife is in love with, Dr. Jekyll, takes steps to do away with his evil self.

I was really blown away by this film. The Jekyll/Hyde story has been told again and again and the main character has been portrayed by countless actors. Yet, this may be the great version out there - definitely the best one I've seen yet. The Canadian actor playing both roles was a new face for me, but is pretty amazing and I couldn't see the two personas as the same actor no matter how hard I tried. It was quite impressive.

Christopher Lee, ever-present in the Hammer films (did he ever have a day off?), plays friend Paul Allen. Wow. I've praised Lee in 'Scream of Fear', but he should be praised no less in this, where he's a convincingly sleazy gambler and womanizer. Not the way I picture Lee to be, but it seems so natural here.

The more I see this man in action, the more I see what the generation before me saw. I had always been a Peter Cushing fan, but maybe it's time for me to switch sides? I enjoyed the philosophical questions raised by this film. There's the portrayal of Hyde as younger, more handsome and more charming - not the monster he's usually shown to be.

In 'The Gorgon' (1964, Color) starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelley, Michael Goddliffe, and Patrick Troughton, in a rural village, a series of murders have been committed where each victim was turned into stone. A local professor investigates and finds an evil Gorgon haunting a nearby castle and in search of more victims.

The film begins beautifully with the credits superimposed against the twilit battlements of Castle Borski. Other touches fleetingly capture the mood of gothic-romantic literature. Professor Heitz beguiled into the forest by the Gorgon Magaera's distant siren-call. Her reflection glimpsed through the dead leaves floating on a mill pond. The encounter by moonlight in the graveyard between Richard Pasco and Barbara Shelley.

'The Gorgon' is certainly one of Hammer's most pessimistic entries. The setting is turn-of-the-century Middle Europe and the production-design more Teutonic than ever (Hammer, ever economical, transposed the monster of Greek classical myth to their familiar Germanic milieu). When we join the story the village of Vandorf has been under Magaera's baleful spell for seven years. Much of the action takes place in a repressive asylum. And Castle Borski is not the richly appointed seat of other Hammer films but a broken windswept ruin.

Characterization is equally unrelenting. Cushing's Dr Namaroff is a more ruthless and maniacal variation of Van Helsing. Lee's Professor Meister , though gruffly benevolent, is overbearingly fatalistic. Meanwhile the most sympathetic characters - Carla, Paul, his father and brother - are all killed. I mean, come on now, it's what has to happen to propel the story, of course!

In 'The Snorkel' (1958, Black and White) starring Peter van Eyck, Betta St. John, Mandy Miller, and Grégoire Aslan, this early British Hammer film, was actually filmed in Italy and co-scripted by future Italian director Antonio Marghareti. So, it also anticipates the later Italian giallo thrillers, mostly in its enjoyably absurd plot. In the creepy opening scene a man (Peter Van Eck) puts on a scuba mask (it's technically not a "snorkel") and hides under the floor boards in order to gas his sleeping wife from inside her locked room.

The police naturally think its suicide, but the murdered woman's teen daughter (Mandy Miller) comes home from school and immediately suspects the truth - naturally since she earlier witnessed her step-father drowning her father. Everyone thinks she's crazy, of course, (even after he bumps off her little dog, "Toto", too). Her governess (Betta St. John )meanwhile is torn between her loyalty her apparently delusional charge and her attraction to the suave, seemingly distraught widower.

In 'Maniac' (1963, Black and White) starring Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Donald Houston, and Liliane Brousse, one of the lesser known of Hammer's "psychological thrillers" sure it's not fiendishly clever enough to be really memorable, but it does have a few interesting twists.

We find Kerwin Mathews stranded in a small French town where he books into a hotel and starts to feel attracted to the owners sexy young step-daughter. Soon after this, he also starts feeling attracted to the more mature but still sexy step-mother as well!

Apart from this love triangle, there is a further problem, in that the missing family member in this scenario is the father, who is currently locked up in an asylum for a violent blow-torch murder committed years ago - but now he wants out, and our hero is about to be roped into aiding in his escape!

In 'The Man They Could Not Hang' (1939, Black and White) starring Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox, and Roger Pryor, a mad scientist is about to do an experiment to bring somebody back to life using a special device he has invented. His assistant's girlfriend reports him to the police and they arrive before he completes the experiment and is arrested and sentenced to death.

After hanging, his assistant takes his body and manages to bring him back to life and he then gets revenge on the people who sentenced him. In a struggle at the end, he is shot and he dies for the second time.

'The Man They Could Not Hang' has to be one of Boris's better movies and I have seen it a couple of times. If anyone has seen 'The House on Haunted Hill' and its later remake, this film was probably used for certain inspiration for this film. You have a group of people, all associated with the case, who are all brought to a deserted house, locked inside, and are slowly killed off one by one. The film is short, just a little over an hour in length, but is top notch entertainment, and is very enjoyable, and well acted.

In 'The Boogie Man Will Get You' (1942, Black and White), starring Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Max Rosenbloom, and Larry Parks, a young woman decides to purchase an old Colonial mansion in the middle of nowhere with the hopes of turning it into a hotel; even though it is barely standing.

Her ex-husband finds her only seconds after she has made the purchase (a plot device never fully explained) and tried to convince her she's been swindled. She doesn't care, having become fond of the eclectic cast of characters that inhabit the house - but little does she know, the old man who works in the basement is actually trying to create a race of electric supermen!

Bodies begin piling up and Peter Lorre shows up playing the town mayor/sheriff/notary with a kitten in his coat pocket, and general Hollywood hijinks ensue. The ending is a mess, but it ends up being so convoluted, it somehow finds charms in all of its lunacy!

Finally from the fifth and final chapter comes the just referred to 'House On Haunted Hill' (1959, Black and White) starring Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, and Richard Long. A wealthy man offers a hefty amount of money to a select five people that concur to being trapped in a haunted rental house overnight.

This classic version of 'House on Haunted Hill' is one of the most entertaining examples of the low-budget, black-and-white horror films that used to be such a mainstay for movie fans. It has few chills, but it does have some thrills, and in particular it has a cleverly written story that is told at a brisk pace, with a good deal of interesting and pleasingly macabre detail.

Indeed, the story, in general, is nicely written for the genre, making very good use of the possibilities in the setup, throwing in some good turns, and resolving everything in a resourceful fashion. And it's not without some real suspense - even those who normally watch low-budget horror features solely for the camp factor might get an actual start once or twice as everything plays out. And even if you don't find anything scary, there is plenty here that makes it enjoyable to watch.

Lastly comes 'The Bat' (1959, Black and White) starring Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, and Gavin Gordon. When psycho killer, “The Bat,” escapes, he runs loose in a mansion filled with people.

'The Bat', whilst no Citizen Kane, is still a lot of fun. It gives some very good talent the opportunity to ham it up (Vincent Price made a career of it) while providing some rather rare brutal killings in a 50's movie. Price is brilliant as usual.

Check out the moment when Agnes Moorhead mentions that the Bat is looking for money and that it's probably in the house. Price knows where the money is (talked about early on so no plot spoil) and his eyes lilt ever so slighty when Moorhead talks about it. A great subtle moment from a great actor.

The story itself has lots of room for tension and intrigue, and it makes best use of it as the film is constantly intriguing, and many scenes, particularly the ones involving the menacing bad guy, are filled with suspense. The film is at it's best when 'the bat' is on the prowl, and features several lovely shots of the fiend poking his arm through various crevices in the house.

The house is, as we discover along the way, riddled with various traps and secret passages in true haunted house style, and it adds to the inventiveness and effectiveness of the movie. The film gives the twist away far too early, however, and it kind of spoils the ending as it turns out that, logically, there's only one person who the bat could possibly be. It doesn't really matter though, as the film is always a lot of fun and if you're a fan of Vincent Price (and who isn't?!), or just classic horror movies, in general.

The entire 26-film collection are: The Bat – 1959 – Vincent Price; Before I Hang – 1940 – Boris Karloff; The Black Room – 1935 – Boris Karloff; The Boogie Man Will Get You – 1942 – Boris Karloff; Creatures the World Forgot – 1971 – Brian O’Shaughnessy; The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb – 1964 – Ronald Howard; The Devil Commands – 1941 – Boris Karloff; Die! Die! My Darling! – 1965 – Donald Sutherland; Five – 1951 – William Phipps; The Gorgon – 1964 – Christopher Lee; House on Haunted Hill – 1959 – Vincent Price; The Jackals – 1967 – Vincent Price; Last Man on Earth – 1964 – Vincent Price; The Mad Magician – 1954 – Vincent Price; The Man They Could Not Hang – 1939 – Boris Karloff; The Man Who Turned To Stone – 1957 – Victor Jory; The Man With Nine Lives – 1940 – Boris Karloff; Maniac – 1963 – Kerwin Mathews; Never Take Candy From a Stranger – 1960 – Patrick Allen; The Revenge of Frankenstein – 1958 – Peter Cushing; Scream of Fear – 1961 – Christopher Lee; Shock – 1946 – Vincent Price; The Snorkel – 1958 – Peter van Eyck; Stop Me Before I Kill! – 1961 – Ronald Lewis; The Terror of the Tongs – 1961 – Christopher Lee; and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll – 1960 – Christopher Lee.

This is a series of Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague'
(Hans Zimmer / Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / Eagle Vision)

Overview: Hans Zimmer is one of the most successful film music composers working today. This concert was filmed on May 7th, 2016 in Prague during Hans Zimmer's hugely successful European concert tour.

Blu-ray Verdict: As noted above, Hans Zimmer is truly one of the most world renowned film music composers of our time. Indeed, since the 1980s, he has composed music for over 150 films.

His works include, but are of course not limited to, The Lion King, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1995, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Thin Red Line, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and Blade Runner 2049.

This stunning 'Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague' concert was filmed on May 7th, 2016 in Prague during Hans Zimmer's hugely successful European concert tour. Hans was accompanied by a band, orchestra and choir, 72 musicians in total, including legendary guitarist Johnny Marr of The Smiths.

1. Medley: Driving (Driving Miss Daisy) / Discombobulate (Sherlock Holmes) / Zoosters Breakout (Madagascar)
2. Medley: Crimson Tide / 160 BPM (Angels And Demons)
3. Gladiator Medley: The Wheat / The Battle / Elysium / Now We Are Free 4. Chevaliers De Sangreal (The Da Vinci Code)
5. The Lion King Medley: Circle Of Life (Prelude) / King Of Pride Rock (reprise)
6. Pirates Of The Caribbean Medley: Captain Jack Sparrow / One Day / Up Is Down / He's A Pirate
7. You're So Cool (True Romance)
8. Rain Man: Main Theme
9. What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World (Man Of Steel)
10. Journey To The Line (The Thin Red Line)
11. The Electro Suite (themes from The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
12. The Dark Knight Trilogy Medley: Why So Serious? / Like A Dog Chasing Cars / Why Do We Fall? / Introduce A Little Anarchy / The Fire Rises
13. Aurora
14. Interstellar Medley: Day One / Cornfield Chase / No Time For Caution / Stay
15. Inception Medley: Half Remembered Dream / Dream Is Collapsing / Mombasa / Time

The staging was spectacular with a ground breaking light show, stunning visuals, and a state of the art sound system. As the show plays through, it's quickly brought to the fore that Hans Zimmer performs on multiple instruments, adding to his already-massive musical accomplishments.

Giving introductory insights to many of the pieces during the concert, from the very start with the trio of medleys from Driving Miss Daisy, Sherlock Holmes and Madagascar, on through the stunning Pirates Of The Caribbean medley, at ending with a spectacular Inception medley, each and every chaptered moment of this performance is simply breathtaking.

I honestly don't think you could ever find a much better musical presentation of Zimmer's work that this live show. It is incredibly moving, the compositions flashing you immediately back to the movies, to their specific scenes, with each orchestral maneuver.

On stage, the entire orchestra is performs as the top if their game, their talent and passion fort he project apparent and obvious. Indeed, every single musician and performer on display plays their heart and soul out.

Which is why 'Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague' is a real and genuine treat for lovers of both great musical compositions and great movies.=, in general. This is a Widescreen Presentation featuring a beautiful 1080p High Definition and 16:9 Audio LPCM Stereo Dolby Atmos sound, trust me when I say that your Blu-ray players have never witnessed anything quite like this before - nor have you, I'd hazard a guess.

'Westworld: Complete First Season 4K Ultra HD'
(Sir Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / TV-MA / 2016-17 / HBO - Warner Bros.)

Blu-ray Overview: Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, explore a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged without consequence.

DVD Verdict: Before we begin the review, let's start by acknowledging the INCREDIBLE, brighter, deeper, more lifelike color that these 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays bring forth, each and every time. For they are, well, INCREDIBLE and truly allow you to see things that the generic Blu-ray vision simply cannot. I mean, the color alone on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc - which comes as a six-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 BD-66) - is just so crisp, so clear, so crystal.

For those that wish to be in the know, let's break down some of the geeky stats, shall we. This is a Codec: HEVC / H.265, with a Resolution: 4K (2160p), and an overall Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1. The Audio is English: Dolby Atmos + English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 + Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 + French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, and the Subtitles are: English SDH, French, and Spanish.

Finally, and leaving the best for last, this 4K Ultra HD movie experience means that we have a 4X sharper picture image than regular HD, HDR (High Dynamic Range) means we get brilliant brights and deepest darks within the film, and with Immersive Audio, we get that multi-dimensional sound experience throughout.

OK, on to the actual show review and, well, let's face it, who doesn't like or even simply love the original TV show starring Yul Brynner. I mean, come on now, that 1973 Gunslinger character was embeded within my psyche from the moment it aired on our screens; but did you know that cleverly "hidden" in a moment Yul Brynner easter egg in episode 6 of this new version? You didn't, well, I won't be giving it away here, so go and retrace your visual steps and you'll be amazed and what you missed!

Anyway, moving on, as is exactly what this brand new version of 'Westworld' has kinda gone and done (and with a much bigger production budget, of course), at first glance 'Westworld' proposes an idea similar to the one of 'Jurassic Park' - the action takes place in a huge amusement park 'theme' in which visitors are invited to live in the past the different sensations of everyday experiences of the Wild West.

From the first minutes of the first series viewers will realize that 'Westworld' is maybe a theme park, but one in which consumers will not go along with families and children. It is recreated here in a landscape that recalls the films of Henry Ford's Wild West, populated by male robots who engage in dueling pistols that they will always lose in the fight with the park's customers and female robots that will satisfy every desire and sexual fantasy of the payers of tickets.

Anthropomorphic robots (androids) are provided with all devices that emulate human physiology and the software that put into motion include the emotions of a man, with one limitation - their memory is scheduled to be deleted and permanently regenerated every morning the sun rises on a blue sky together with reinforced scenarios and biographies of each of the robots.

Overnight maintenance crews restore the physiological damages of pistol duels or axes battles in which the robot Indians were killed in the last day or psychological trauma of sexual abuses that have undergone female robots. That, of course, until programs start functioning poorly, and perfect memories are not erased from one day to another.

Malfunctioning (or in technical terms "bugs") of the programs which animate the androids is one of the favorite themes of science fiction sub-genre that deals with relations between robots and humans in the near future. But it is interesting to examine the prospect of dealing with these problems in programming. See for example the Swedish series "Real Humans'.

As in the Scandinavians series, a programming mistake or a portion of code introduced intentionally in the history of the program and hid until at some point, give androids capabilities that were hitherto categorized among those traits that differentiate the robots people.

They fall into two groups - imperfect erasure of memory that allow robots to recover - even fragmentary - past experiences or personal history to overcome threats; and emotional abilities that grant independence feelings beyond pre-programmed scenarios. In these circumstances are born the premises of the species conflict between androids and humans.

As the action progresses the world of 'Westworld' is becoming increasingly complex, the questions multiply, dilemmas become more acute. Some of the characters have become not only familiar, but begin to populate the universe until I become part of their world.

The series benefits from the interpretation of some of the known world cinema actors. Anthony Hopkins is Dr. Robert Ford, the brain who conceived this world, the Creator who gives birth to new characters and manipulates the lives and destinies of androids that are already in action. His assistant is Bernard Lowe (played by Jeffrey Wright) who faces a personal drama and an identity crisis. Ed Harris is the Man in Black - evil character and one of 'consumers' of Westworld.

The two female characters / Androids are Dolores (ingenue actress Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) and both are emotional and produce counterpoints - though very different - while engaging in a process of discovering their own identities. Feminist ideals take an extra dimension, it is about the conflict of authority and social relations of the 19th century women combined with subordination of robots to humans.

Not everything is clear in this action series. Many questions are asked, few are answered about about the evolution of the artificial intelligence technology, about the dangers improvement of improving robots to receive human emotions, about their identity and rights. I'm sure many surprises expect us in the next season(s), but one sure thing can already be said. 'Westworld' is a mirror of our world.

And, once again, watching it all on this 4K Ultra HD it truly is amazing to see everything unfold from the old Wild West in front of you. Even watching all the crystal clear special features is rather delightful in this manner, with one of the stand outs being "Welcome to Westworld" Featurette. At just over two minutes long, and with a haunting piano backbone, it tells the story of what to expect perfectly.

Another truly stunning stand out is the "Imagining the Main Title" Featurette, combined with the "The Key to the Chords" Featurette, as they both showcase the aforementioned, and sublime main title theme from 'Westworld', composed by Ramin Djawadi.

"An Invitation to the Set", where it's showcased that "classic western meets science fiction" is, perhaps my favorite of the bunch included. With Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrhams at the mutual helm, 'Westworld' was always going to have some major league clout to it, but this Invitation slides neatly in between the lines and allows us to view more of what to expect than has already been proffered us. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) containing all 10 episodes of the first season enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Realizing the Dream: First Week on the Set of Westworld
Imagining the Main Title
The Key to the Chords
Gag Reel
Welcome to Westworld
Crafting the Narrative
An Invitation to the Set
About the Series
Reality of A.I.: Westworld
"The Big Moment" Featurettes

'Westworld' - Official Season One Trailer

Official Website

Official Facebook Page

Official Twitter Account

Official Instagram Account

'Masterpiece: The Durrells in Corfu - Season 2'
(Keeley Hawes, Josh O'Connor, Milo Parker, et al / 2-Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Based on naturalist Gerald Durrell's trilogy of novels, this charming and hugely popular series returns to follow the further adventures of the eccentric Durrell family as they embrace life on the gorgeous Greek island of Corfu.

Blu-ray Verdict: This sophomore series sees sparky English widow Louisa Durrell and her brood continue to put down roots in their dilapidated rented house, alongside an ever-increasing menagerie of animals brought home by youngest son Gerry.

Doing their best to settle into the community, they must earn enough money to pay their aggressive new landlady Vasilia, who sees Louisa as a love rival for charming playboy Hugh.

With the help of Spiro and Theo, the Durrells resort to selling typical British produce at the market. But accidentally poisoning the locals might not be the best way to start a new business?

For this second series, writer Simon Nye seemed to think his screenplay for these already beloved stories, needed to be updated from the more realistic 1930's Corfu to a more overtly out-of-place 'modern' 1930's Corfu.

The characters come across as too liberated for this era and often quite aggressively annoying. No longer are we seeing life unfold from a child's eyes (as the perspective of the books) but from an all too modern 'mothers' perspective.

The first three episodes directed by Steve Barron were enjoyably bearable but episode 4 directed by Roger Goldby falls over its own modernity and, like most made for TV serials, introduces stereo typical characters and situations lifted out of far too many other similar programs.

The longer some TV series are allowed to run the more predictable and uninteresting they all too often become. Viewers who just like to watch formulaic stories may not even notice this, but from the string of other reviews posted for this one - it seems I'm definitely not the only one who felt let down.

Personally, I won't be looking forward to continuing with what would have been better left as a movie (or maybe two) before it killed itself off. The locations are good and some will enjoy this version but, purists might not persist. That said, these are all my own viewpoints, and as much as there are delightful scenic moments wove throughout, the fact still remains that this TV show is a flat out insult to the memory of Gerald Durrell.

Oh, and as for Keeley Hawes, she is an actress of supreme talent, and whether she's playing the tough cop Lindsay Denton from Line of Duty, or the Home County's finest here, she excels beyond belief, each and every time. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Day In the Life
Gerry And The Animals
Going To Market
Series 1 Recap

'Masterpiece: Poldark - Complete Third Season'
(Aidan Turner, Jack Farthing, Kyle Soller, Heida Reed, Eleanor Tomlinson, et al / 3-Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 1794: War and the revolution in France hang over Britain. In Cornwall, George Warleggan grows his empire with a view to crush the Poldarks while Ross and Demelza attempt to keep the peace and repair their relationship at Nampara.

Blu-ray Verdict: OMG! You don't have to find some mysterious stones to touch to go back in time to the 18th century. Just experience 'Poldark' on a good TV and good sound system, and you'll BE there. From the stunning Cornwall scenery, to the careful attention to detail in the interior sets and locations, to costumes that range from the ragged to the rich, to the glorious music, this show is as good as the original - if not better!

Oh, and their wonderful choices for casting, especially the brilliant Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, means that this production has proved to be satisfying for people who have never seen the 70's version or read the novels it is based on; as well as those who have done either or both.

Aidan's portrayal gives us a fascinating Ross who is warmer and easier to like than he is in the books, the first of the 12-book saga having been written 70 years ago. By the end of this first series, we care deeply about what happens to him and everyone close to him. The villains are diabolical, of course, excellently played by their respective actors, while the love story between Ross and Demelza, played beautifully by Eleanor Tomlinson, is incredibly compelling.

Here in the lush third season, it's now 1794. War and the revolution in France hang over Britain. In Cornwall, George Warleggan grows his empire with a view to crush the Poldarks while Ross and Demelza attempt to keep the peace and repair their relationship at Nampara.

However, the arrival of Demelza's brothers disturbs the fragile truce and Ross must ask himself how long he can allow George's ascent to continue unchecked. Facing battles both at home and abroad, will Ross answer the call and risk losing everything he holds dear?

Compelling drama from start to finish, and oh boy, that Cornish scenery, let alone Turner's shirtless moments (!), 'Poldark' is a morality tale for today with the "haves and have nots", nouveau riche poseurs, moral courage in the face of poverty and loss, and most importantly, as we discover, in sickness and death.

In closing, this is a beautiful history and love story. The story, scenery and acting is so great, so believable for the time period, and all brought together not only by some truly magnificent acting, but spot on scripts also. I forgot to acknowledge Jack Farthing (George Warleggan), but his portrayal of a most ruthless character showcases just what an incredible actor he is also.

By jove, he keeps this TV show exciting and interesting (if it ever dips into substandard fare, which so far has not happened once, of course)! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Roscoff Rescue (4:05)
Production Design with Jeff Tessler (2:30)
Costume Design with Howard Burden (3:19)
Make-up and Hair Designer (Pippa Woods) (2:30)
The Women in Poldark (2:59)
Favourite Locations (1:41)
Aidan Turner (Ross Poldark) (3:32)
Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza Poldark) (3:03)
Demelza and Hugh Armitage (3:26)
Drake and Morwenna (3:53)
George and Elizabeth (2:04)

'Anne of Green Gables - The Good Stars'
(Ella Ballentine, Sara Botsford, Martin Sheen, et al / NR / DVD / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: True to the beloved classic that has enchanted fans across the world for over a century, L.M. Montgomery's 'Anne of Green Gables - The Good Stars' brings to life a further story of the determined, spirited little girl who touches the lives of everyone she meets.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Anne of Green Gables is a 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery (published as L. M. Montgomery). Written for all ages, it has been considered a children's novel since the mid-twentieth century.

It recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town.

Sure it has been made into TV movies and such many times before, but here in this brand new release from PBS, well, that time-told story have now been evolved into a brand new chapter.

As she did in last years remake of the original, Ella Ballentine does another superb job a bringing her character of Anne to life. She as well can lead an audience in any direction and not disappoint in any way or form. A human firecracker in the making and an array of feelings that will bring you back to childhood with a convincing connection, that's for sure.

Sarah Botsford also returns, and does another awesome job with her character. Her ways of motherhood and friend locks you into her character and takes you for a ride that will for sure not only get you thinking, but I actually was hoping for acceptance from her character as if she was my own mother.

Also returning is the lovable Martin Sheen, whose character blends in so naturally, so seamlessly that you forget while watching that it's a movie. Indeed, he brings a kind of beloved kindred spirit performance to the audience. I mean, for sure, if there were ever a dad figure you would want to grow up with, it would be with Matthew Cuthbert.

In this newest chapter of the original setting, Anne Shirley is thirteen years old and finds that life in Avonlea is never simple. Anne's bosom friendship with Diana Barry is put to the test when Anne begins to spend more time with Gilbert Blythe.

And when Matthew's health begins to slide, he implores Anne to keep it secret because he doesn't want Marilla to worry. Anne struggles with her promise, but in the end, she confesses the truth to Marilla and must then wrestle with the burden of her betrayal to Matthew.

Torn between her free-spirited nature and her own perceived need to become sensible, Anne finds that the journey toward her goal is fraught with confusion and more than a few unfortunate yet amusing mishaps in 'L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables The Good Stars.'

You will not be disappointed with this movie for it is a great Sunday movie to watch with your family or friends. Just be ready to shed the odd tear or two! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Eclipse Over America'
(NR / DVD / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: On August 21, 2017, millions of Americans witnessed the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in 99 years. As in all total solar eclipses, the moon blocked the sun and revealed its ethereal outer atmosphere - its corona - in a wondrous celestial spectacle.

DVD Verdict: The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, dubbed "The Great American Eclipse" by the media, was a total solar eclipse visible within a band across the entire contiguous United States, passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.

As we join scientists and citizens alike as they observe the first total solar eclipse to traverse the US mainland in more than a generation here on 'NOVA: Eclipse Over America', we learn that no solar eclipse had actually been visible across the entire contiguous United States since June 8, 1918.

Indeed, not since the February 1979 eclipse had a total eclipse been visible from anywhere in the mainland United States. The path of totality touched 14 states, and the rest of the U.S. had a partial eclipse. The area of the path of totality was about 16 percent of the area of the United States, with most of this area over the ocean, not land.

This totally fascinating documentary showcases the fact that the event's shadow began to cover land on the Oregon coast as a partial eclipse at 4:05 p.m. UTC (9:05 a.m. PDT), with the total eclipse beginning there at 5:16 p.m. UTC (10:16 a.m. PDT); the total eclipse's land coverage ended along the South Carolina coast at about 6:44 p.m. UTC (2:44 p.m. EDT).

Visibility as a partial eclipse in Honolulu, Hawaii began with sunrise at 4:20 p.m. UTC (6:20 a.m. HST) and ended by 5:25 p.m. UTC (7:25 a.m. HST).

While hordes of citizens flocked to the eclipse's path of totality, scientists, too, staked out spots for a very different reason: to investigate the secrets of the sun's elusive atmosphere.

'NOVA: Eclipse Over America' takes great strides to discover those facts. Indeed, during the eclipse's precious seconds of darkness, they gathered new clues on how our sun works, how it can produce deadly solar storms, and why its atmosphere is so hot.

NOVA investigates the storied history of solar eclipse science, and joins both seasoned and citizen-scientists alike as they don their eclipse glasses, tune their telescopes, and behold the Eclipse Over America. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Visions of New York City'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: From Wall Street to Washington Heights, down Fifth Avenue, over bridges, and across the grid, 'Visions of New York City' celebrates the irresistible attraction of the little island that has captured the hearts of millions and sparked countless lifelong love affairs.

DVD Verdict: In truth, this whole 'Visions ..' series from PBS is quite unlike anything that I've quite seen before of this ilk! Visiting a collection of already-beautiful, stunning even cities is one thing, but to do it all from the perspective of above us, allowing for a much wider outlook to the tight streets and cramped market places, is just profoundly magnificent.

So a hearty bravo to PBS and whomever came up with this idea as it was a complete and utter doozy of one, that's for sure. Here in 'Visions of New York City', the city has long been a symbol of the American Dream and the first stop for immigrant families for generations - and in modern times the symbol of America's continuing strength.

This vivid film offers striking views of New York: the harbor from Lady Liberty's perspective; Central Park as the birds experience it; the crucifix architecture of St. Patrick's Cathedral as intended from the heavens; neighborhoods from the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Chinatown, Harlem and the Upper West Side, and more. Aerial and ground footage highlight the city's iconic images, boundless energy, and enduring allure.

Running at 55 minutes, the overall imagery, music score and narration are top-notch throughout and the stories they tell are ones that, perhaps, you weren't even aware of yourselves. A beautiful panorama of New York's attractions and tourist areas, this wondrous new PBS documentary is a must view if you eve have reservations about visiting the 'Big Apple'.

This latest edition to the whole Visions catalogue is a great, and unique one and I hope you'll love it as much as I did. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Visions of Puerto Rico'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: Take a journey through paradise, from the timeless plazas of Old San Juan, around the island and back again, using the lighthouses at the four corners of the island as transition points.

DVD Verdict: In truth, this whole 'Visions ..' series from PBS is quite unlike anything that I've quite seen before of this ilk! Visiting a collection of already-beautiful, stunning even cities is one thing, but to do it all from the perspective of above us, allowing for a much wider outlook to the tight streets and cramped market places, is just profoundly magnificent.

So a hearty bravo to PBS and whomever came up with this idea as it was a complete and utter doozy of one, that's for sure. Here in 'Visions of Puerto Rico', everything you wanted to know about the island is here, beautifully capture, and wonderfully presented by Rita Moreno.

'Visions of Puerto Rico' features aerial and ground footage shot in high-definition with the latest technology; informative narration about the island's rich history, architecture and lush natural beauty; and a soundtrack of local favorites including the omnipresent chirp of the tiny coqui frog.

Running at 55 minutes, the overall imagery, music score and narration are top-notch throughout and the stories they tell are ones that, perhaps, you weren't even aware of yourselves. The cinematography is breathtaking and the personal stories help students make a human connection with the Caribbean people.

The best-known holidays and traditions are mentioned in an entertaining manner and given the fact that it's nearly an hour long, and very all-encompassing, one assumes that it would also be a great introduction for individual presentations on the Caribbean's rich culture and history.

This latest edition to the whole Visions catalogue is a great, and unique one and I hope you'll love it as much as I did. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Beguiled' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2017 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Overview: From acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) comes an atmospheric thriller that unfolds at a secluded girls' boarding school in Civil War-era Virginia.

When a wounded Union soldier, Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell), is found near the school, he's taken in by its headmistress, Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman). As the young women provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries when McBurney seduces several of the girls.

Blu-ray Verdict: Sensibly crafted, patiently narrated and brimming with sexual tension at all times, 'The Beguiled' is a sophisticated example of restrained film making that envelops its tale with an uneasy atmosphere, is brilliantly steered by Sofia Coppola, and is thoroughly shepherded by strong performances from its committed cast.

Taking place in a Southern girls' boarding school during the American Civil War, the story of 'The Beguiled' is set into motion when one of the girls finds a wounded Union soldier in the woods and brings him to the house. As the ladies tend to his injuries & provide him refuge until he recovers, they start vying for his attention and affection.

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, the story is approached with both confidence and composure as Coppola takes her time to add more depth to the characters, and unfolds the plot in an unhurried fashion. The dense ambiance and slow pace do provide an immersive quality to the picture but there are also moments interspersed with sudden intensity.

The script packs well-defined characters but the story still needed a bit more refinement, for some moments linger on for longer than required while the finale lacks that extra punch. Cinematography is pitch-perfect as its muted color palette and low-light photography not only amplify its bleak aura but also add a Gothic touch and hint of sinister to its images.

Production design team does well to provide an authentic touch to its timeline and setting, and their work is wonderfully assisted by the era-appropriate costumes. Editing is a mixed bag, for the slow pace is fitting here yet there are a few scenes it could've done without. Sound is finely utilized and makes sure that the ongoing war's presence remains in the vicinity while Phoenix contributes with a complementary score.

Coming to the acting department, 'The Beguiled' features a talented cast in Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, and they are all effective in their given roles. Kidman delivers a sharp input, Farrell portrays both the kind and cruel side of his character with ease, Dunst chips in with a subdued performance, Fanning's seductive role is just as interesting but it's the chemistry between them that remains the film's major highlight.

On an overall scale, 'The Beguiled' takes a slow, methodical approach in bringing its tale to life but it's gripping and technically polished throughout, and is a solid addition to Sofia Coppola's filmography. What benefits it most is the smart, subtle and seductive performances from its cast and the palpable sexual tension that permeates its thick atmosphere. What it lacks, however, is that ingredient which makes a good film great but even without that, 'The Beguiled' makes up for a fascinating viewing. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

A Shift in Perspective
A Southern Style
Digital Copy of The Beguiled (2017)

'The Beguiled' - Official Trailer

'The Beguiled' - Blu-ray Purchase Link

'Sting - Live at The Olympia Paris' [Blu-ray]
(Sting / Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / Eagle Vision Entertainment)

Overview: From acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) comes an atmospheric thriller that unfolds at a secluded girls' boarding school in Civil War-era Virginia. When a wounded Union soldier, Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell), is found near the school, he's taken in by its headmistress, Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman). As the young women provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries when McBurney seduces several of the girls.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, although they must rank in the far and few between, Sting (aka Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, CBE) is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor.

He was the principal songwriter, lead singer, and bassist for the new wave rock band the Police from 1977 to 1986, and also launched a massively successful solo career in 1985.

Sting’s 57th & 9th World Tour celebrates his first rock/pop album in more than a decade. This concert, filmed at the Olympia Paris in April 2017, reflects the impulsive energy of the 57th & 9th album recording sessions and brings with it live cuts fro some of his most historic musical past.

Sting is joined onstage by a 4-piece band including his longtime guitarist, Dominic Miller, Josh Freese (drums), Rufus Miller (guitar) and Percy Cardona (accordion), with backing vocals from Joe Sumner plus Diego Navaira & Jerry Fuentes of Warner Music Nashville recording artists, The Last Bandoleros.

Blu-ray Track Listing:
1. "Synchronicity II"
2. "Spirits in the Material World"
3. "Englishman in New York"
4. "I Can't Stop Thinking About You"
5. "One Fine Day"
6. "She's Too Good for Me"
7. "I Hung My Head"
8. "Fields of Gold"
9. "Petrol Head"
10. "Down, Down, Down"
11. "Shape of My Heart"
12. "Pretty Young Soldier"
13. "Message in a Bottle"
14. "Ashes to Ashes"
15. "50,000"
16. "Walking on the Moon"
17. "So Lonely"
18. "Desert Rose"
19. "Roxanne" / "Ain't No Sunshine"
20. "Next to You"
21. "Every Breath You Take"
22. "Fragile"

Bonus Features:
1. "Heading South On The Great North Road"
2. "Looking For Me, Looking For You"
3. "Don't Change The Love"
4. "Jellybean"
5. "Maria"
6. "River Man"
7. "Take Me To It"
8. "I Don’t Want To Know"
9. "Where Do You Go?"

As the darkened stage and arena suddenly give way to the well know opening to "Synchronicity II", the roar of the crowd and the appearance of Sting and his band members alone is enough to make you realize that filming this show was one of the best ideas anyone has ever had.

Featuring en masse of stunningly orchestrated performances of new songs from his most recent release, 59th & 9th along with classics from his days with the Police and solo work, and showcasing his range with some different musical styling of songs that have influenced through the years, the 16-time Grammy winner is on fire here.

Dressed super casual, as usual, Sting takes the power behind that first Police song and continues it onward with the brilliant "Spirits In The Material World", before he brings the tone right down via a sextet of mid tempo melodies and low tempo ballads: "Englishman in New York," "I Can't Stop Thinking About You", "One Fine Day", "She's Too Good for Me", "I Hung My Head", and "Fields of Gold".

Adding another new track to the live show in "Petrol Head", in between that and "Pretty Young Soldier" we get both "Down, Down, Down" and the lush "Shape of My Heart". Another blast from the Police past comes in the form of the heartfelt "Message in a Bottle", before one of the highlight of the night, for me, at least, comes to the fore. His version of David Bowie's iconic "Ashes to Ashes" is simply one of the major highlights of the whole show, and he backs that up, after another new track ("50,000"), with his own iconic hit singles, "Walking on the Moon" and "So Lonely".

A beautiful "Desert Rose" is yet another highlight of the show, and that's backed by the double act medley of "Roxanne" / "Ain't No Sunshine", before the vibrant "Next to You" is performed. Always a pleasure to hear, "Every Breath You Take" is up next, and then the night rounds out after the second encore on a quiet note with the delightful "Fragile". Waving, thanking the crowd with his hand gestures, he leaves the stage, but not before bidding adieu to his audience with an “Au Revoir and Merci”.

Complete with bonus material that features 9 performances from Sting and special guests, Joe Sumner and The Last Bandoleros, 'Sting - Live at The Olympia Paris' [Blu-ray] is the complete package for all fans of his throughout the entire world. Of that, come Christmas, have no doubt. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Sting - Live at The Olympia Paris' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Atomic Blonde' [4K Ultra HD]
(Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Bill Skarsgard, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2017 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

4K Ultra Blu-ray Overview: Oscar winner Charlize Theron explodes into summer in 'Atomic Blonde', a breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.

DVD Verdict: Before we begin the review, let's start by acknowledging the INCREDIBLE, brighter, deeper, more lifelike color that these 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays bring forth, each and every time. For they are, well, INCREDIBLE and truly allow you to see things that the generic Blu-ray vision simply cannot. I mean, the color alone on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc (1 BD-50, 1 BD-66) is just so crisp, so clear, so crystal.

For those that wish to be in the know, let's break down some of the geeky stats, shall we. This is a Codec: HEVC / H.265, with a Resolution: 4K (2160p), HDR10, Layers @ BD-66, and an overall Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1. The Audio is English: Dolby Atmos + English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 + Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 + French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, and the Subtitles are: English SDH, Brazilian Portuguese, French Canadian, French European and Latin American Spanish.

Finally, and leaving the best for last, this 4K Ultra HD movie experience means that we have a 4X sharper picture image than regular HD, HDR (High Dynamic Range) means we get brilliant brights and deepest darks within the film, and with Immersive Audio, we get that multi-dimensional sound experience throughout.

OK, on to the actual movie review and, wow, what an INCREDIBLE movie this truly is! And as we quickly discover, even a Cold War can have rising temperatures. When fighting is no longer televised, it usually runs amuck in the undergrounds. Soldiers trade in uniforms for wires, and ammunition for information. When terrorism hides, spies dance. Loraine waltzes cautiously through a town split by an iron divide. She was sent to extract hard data, but then again maybe she wanted to come here all along.

Loraine has a kiss of death and many suitors. Being a maiden of her own will, she protests aggressively and has the skills to resist. High heels become lethal in her palms, and lipstick doubles as urban camouflage. She is a student of her environment and commissions the most unlikely weapons.

Her partner, David, passes from being reluctant to being obstructive. She acknowledges his handsome operations, but barks at his careful composure. A tedious game of cat and cat ensues, and claw marks rip into each other's confident facades.

Espionage unfolds like a cracking ice sheet on a pond. Very slow all the way until the critical moment, then all the weak points sojourn to the barrier's demise. Loraine watches this deterioration, sunk at the bottom of the pond. She is in the information business, and her competitors have caught all the gossip. Her battered bones attest to brutality of discovering intel a moment too late.

In this foreign pool of entropy, she entwines herself with Delphine, a poet turned informant. Delphine speaks in prose, but observes in stanzas. Rarely enthused, Loraine is tackled by this woman's fearless ignorance. They find themselves wrapped in a mortal coil, a professional love with ulterior motives. Even the purest connection must be scrutinized when your head contains lethal secrets.

Privileged knowledge breeds death. "Top secret" folders are the plagues of elitism. Chairmen look for red flags, but their agents have painted their entire existence red. Uncertainty is a government's biggest fear, and their employees carry out terrorism in the name of obscurity.

Besides how the movie is made and how good the actors are, there is another main character that gains the audience attention: the music. Pure '80s music that will take you to your childhood or to a previous life, or if you weren't alive then, you wish you had been. You won't be able to replay the songs one after another in your head or in your Spotify list.

In closing, 'Atomic Blonde' is a really enjoyable movie, that now is getting some copycats. A movie that will let you forget about everything else and will make you want to travel back in time into Cold War Berlin to have some adventures of your own. Best of all, we can smell a sequel on its way, so let's hope is as good as the original one. Which, by the way, is based in a comic, so there is a background for it, ready and waiting.

And, once again, watching it all on this 4K Ultra HD it truly is amazing to see everything unfold in front of you. Even watching all the crystal clear special features is rather delightful in this manner, with one of the stand outs being "Welcome to Berlin" (HD, 4:33) which takes us behind the scenes of how they built the sets and made the feel of the movie locked into the perfect spy era of the Cold War time.

Another greatly informative on is "Blondes Have More Gun" (HD, 7:01) where we watch Theron being put through her paces by her stunt co-coordinator and so much more. Chock full of action and fight choreography, all lovingly brought to us by the 87eleven fight team, what Theron goes through to get this character right is unbelievable. Three months of training with these guys showcases that come the end, just before filming began, Theron's use of choreographed brutality and athleticism is beyond a joke impressive.

Another one is that then follows on from that last featurette is "Anatomy of a Fight Scene" (HD, 7:52), where Director David Leitch talks about the one long action fight sequence take that he has wanted to do on film for most all his directing life. And, trust me, once you have seen it, uncut and in all its glory, you'll appreciate how much time and effort went into the set up of it, let alone the three days it took to get that one shoot perfect! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and with both this 4K Ultra HD and the standard Blu-ray edition featuring the same Special Features of:

Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 7:23)
Welcome to Berlin (HD, 4:33)
Blondes Have More Gun (HD, 7:01)
Spymaster (HD, 4:18)
Anatomy of a Fight Scene (HD, 7:52)
Story in Motion (HD) - "Agent Broughton" (2:16) and "The Chase" (1:38)
Feature Commentary (HD) - A feature length audio commentary with Director David Leitch and Editor Elisabet Ronaldsdottir.

'Atomic Blonde' Official Trailer

Official Website

Official Facebook Page

Official Twitter Account

Official Instagram Account

'Gun Shy'
(Antonio Banderas, Olga Kurylenko, Mark Valley, Ben Cura, et al / Blu-ray+Digital HD / R / 2017 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: When vacationing in Chile, an aging and pampered rock star's (Antonio Banderas) supermodel wife is suddenly kidnapped by renegades. Unable to navigate more than ordering a sandwich from room service, now he must take to the backstreets of Santiago in this hilarious caper that is as entertaining as it is hair-raising.

DVD Verdict: OK, to be fair, these days you either love or hate Antonio Banderas' films (much like those of Steven Seagal and Wesley Snipes, to be quite frank). Back in the day he was leaner, meaner, more into a lot more real action stunts, but after laying low on the film front for the past few years, Banderas is back - and straight into your living rooms.

But oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! In one of the most bizarre moves that I've seen from a movie producer and director, let alone the casting people behind the project, Banderas is terribly miscast here as an aging BRITISH rocker! With an accent that flirts in and out the entire movie, 'Gun Shy' does admittedly have some moments of genuine coolness, but all too often they are overshadowed by complete and utter, and excruciatingly bad jokes, one-liners or, well, that whole accent thing again!

Packing into it's taut frame enough comedy with enough enjoyable moments to just keep its head above water within this review, much of it plays out as if the filmmakers threw material at the wall each morning just to see which bits stuck and which fell to the floor to be swept away. Me thinks the wrong bits were swept away sometimes though, for the script itself might have worked with a real British actor in place, but leaks too fast, too soon with Banderas and his on-off again version.

As for that script, while vacationing in Chile, his wife Sheila (Olga Kurylenko) is kidnapped by a group of fishermen looking to get some money for their poor village. The million dollar ransom is not the issue if they can get the inept US government representatives from interfering.

Enter Banderas, who plays in a rock band called Metal Assassins with their hit song "Teenage A** Patrol." Seriously? Anyway, of course he sets out to save his wife, and along the way suffers prat falls, indignity at the hands of a dog, throws "BRITISH" around as if he actually knows what they mean, and falls foul of a well overused amount of beer humor.

In closing, and to make this as abundantly clear as I can, Banderas' character Turk Henry is like Inspector Jacques Clouseau or Johnny English without the powers of deduction or the fearless dedication or indomitable spirit; ie: all idiot without the savant. Banderas does an outstanding job with what he's given, fair enough, save for the accent I'll give you that, but the character seems less than fully developed. Waaaay bloody less! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

'The Rock Star, the Pirate, and the Cast of Gun Shy
'Just Who I Can Be' - Music Montage

'To Life, Death and Beyond: The Music of Magma'
(Magma / DVD / NR / 2017 / Citrus Pie Online Inc.)

Overview: 'To Life, Death and Beyond: The Music of Magma' is a tribute to one of the greatest bands that ever existed!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, it's always best to start from the beginning. Magma are a French progressive rock band founded in Paris in 1969 by classically trained drummer Christian Vander, who claimed as his inspiration a "vision of humanity's spiritual and ecological future" that profoundly disturbed him.

In the course of their first album, the band tells the story of a group of people fleeing a doomed Earth to settle on the planet Kobaïa. Later, conflict arises when the Kobaïans—descendants of the original colonists—encounter other Earth refugees.

Vander invented a constructed language, Kobaïan, in which most lyrics are sung. In a 1977 interview with Vander and long-time Magma vocalist Klaus Blasquiz, Blasquiz said that Kobaïan is a "phonetic language made by elements of the Slavonic and Germanic languages to be able to express some things musically. The language has of course a content, but not word by word."

Vander himself has said that, "When I wrote, the sounds [of Kobaïan] came naturally with it. I didn’t intellectualise the process by saying 'Ok, now I’m going to write some words in a particular language', it was really sounds that were coming at the same time as the music."

Later albums tell different stories set in more ancient times; however, the Kobaïan language remains an integral part of the music.

Here in 2017, the Kickstarter project 'To Life, Death and Beyond - The Music of Magma' has been lovingly brought forth by both the band and the enormous monetary backing of their fans.<> The feature film explores one of the most visionary and innovative music of the last 50 years, Magma, sure, but it goes a lot deeper than that, trust me. Featuring a beautiful amount of archive footage, the DVD couldn't have even happened without the amazing work and tenacity of Stella Vander. Who, in addition to having been the lead female singer for Magma since the mid-seventies, is also managing the band now.

Through an in-depth interview of Christian Vander at his home conducted by Laurent Goldstein who has been a friend for over 40 years, testimonials from fans all over the world, musicians and old footage, the film is a passionate journey into the mystery of this timeless music, extraordinary band and its visionary leader Christian Vander.

'To Life, Death and Beyond: The Music of Magma' is quite unlike anything that I've ever sat down to review. Not my musical cup of tea to begin with, I put it on to try and grasp just what all the fuss was about, and boy, did I get quickly locked into this documentary.

Inclusive of that aforementioned in-depth interview of Christian Vander at his home by Laurent Goldstein, this engrossing feature film from the French director is truly one for the ages. A massive two years in the making, and a complete and total labor of love for Goldstein, to document this phenomenon known as Magma was a passion project above all others. And aided by Kickstarter donations, that finished project is out now and ready for you to invest you time and money in.

Featuring, amongst others, Christian Vander, Stella Vander, Didier Lockwood, Klaus Blasquiz, Patrick Gauthier, Simon Goubert, Laurent Thibault, Francis Maze, Dominique Bertram, Robert Trujillo, Jello Biafra, Trey Gunn, Morgan Agren, Julie Vander, Jean-Luc Chevalier, Jean-Pierre Vivante, Jean-Christophe Alluin, Davin Goudie, Jerome Martineau, Herve Aknin, Benoit Alziary, Sergio Sanchez-Ravelo and Paco Casanova, 'To Life, Death and Beyond: The Music of Magma' is executive produced by Jennifer Unruh, edited by Frederique Remy, and written and directed by Laurent Goldstein.

'Finding Joseph I'
(Paul "HR" Hudson / DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Finding Joseph I' is a documentary film chronicling the eccentric life of punk rock reggae singer, Paul "HR" Hudson from Bad Brains.

DVD Verdict: For those not completely in the know, Paul "HR" Hudson is the voice of punk/hardcore pioneers and Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame nominees Bad Brains.

One of the most influential bands to rise out of the 1980's, with Bad Brains, HR harnessed the fiery potential of melding punk rock, reggae, dub, jazz-fusion, metal, and funk into a kaleidoscopic art form centered around his faith in Rasta.

Indeed, HR's uplifting ethos - P.MA. (Positive Mental Attitude) - has cast a light amidst dark defiance, and inspired everyone.

'Finding Joseph I' is a documentary film chronicling the eccentric life of this very same man. The charismatic front man's explosive live performances helped pioneer hardcore punk while delivering an enlightening message of positive mental attitude.

HR's heavy devotion to the Rastafarian faith guided him in a spiritual direction leaving the band several times to explore his love for reggae music. Over the years HR's increasingly unpredictable and abnormal behavior has many convinced that he his suffering from mental illness.

Ergo, 'Finding Joseph I' illustrates the true story behind the legendary lead singers life, career and struggles with never before seen archival footage, photography and exclusive interviews.

Along with some never-before-seen archival footage, photography, some of those artists on film within these exclusive interviews include: Earl Hudson (BAD BRAINS, HR's brother), Ras Michael (THE SONS OF NEGUS), Anthony Countey (BAD BRAINS' manager), Ian MacKaye (MINOR THREAT, FUGAZI), and members of SUBLIME, DEFTONES, FISHBONE, CRO-MAGS, MURPHY'S LAW, THE WAILERS, LIVING COLOUR, and, of course, Paul "HR" Hudson himself.

Running at just over 90 minutes, in truth this is a complex picture of a complex man. It shares his explosive artistry as well as his uphill battle with ailing mental health. In this revealing documentary, HR's peers and fellow musicians share their stories and firsthand experiences with the tumultuous singer.

HR's own interviews find him digging deep to discuss his life, philosophies, and career. And as he informs us, these were paths not always taken in sound mind, with clear judgment, but taken nonetheless. This is one of the most fascinating documentaries on a musician I have ever seen, and I hope you feel the same way too once you have purchased it and then watched it. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Finding Joseph I' [DVD] will be available for purchase on November 3rd, 2017 via MVD Visual.

'Bat Pussy' [Blu-ray]
(Unknown / Blu-ray / R / (1973) 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Bat Pussy, a female superhero, defends Gotham City from a middle-aged couple making a pornographic film.

Blu-ray Verdict: Considered to be the first porn parody, 'Bat Pussy' is the no-fi sexploitation messterpiece of your wildest dreams. And also your most horrifying nightmares. The unidentified lunatic filmmakers have never been located, providing further proof that this movie was most likely made by extraterrestrials!

So, how does it all cum together, I hear you grown. Well, whenever the citizens of Gotham City are under attack by smut filmmakers of any kind, Bat Pussy is the only one that can help! Bat Pussy (aka Dora Dildo) is just hanging out in her secret headquarters (aka an outhouse) day and night, but when her "twat begins to twitch" (!) the warning signal alerts her instantly to an imminent crime.

So Bat Pussy hops on her Holy Hippity-Hop to foil the grotesque sex schemes of, in this case, un-happily married couple Buddy and Sam!

Debuting on Blu-ray in mid-November, 2017, this cult movie - which now has a brand new 2K scan - may well be the world's first sexploitation parody, but it also had the foresight (even in 1973) to include a semi-serious spoken and written warning to any of those viewers dropping in by accident!

Once she gets the call, the scenes of Bat Pussy bouncing her way way up the side of the highway on her bright red hopper are both hilarious and yet excruciatingly D-movie-esque. Which, to be fair, was a level the filmmakers knew they started out at and had not too many high hopes of climbing much higher, one assumes.

Also seeing her stop for a squat pee by the side of a river is pretty outlandish also. Accompanied by some hippty-hoppity, bounce-along music for her hopper journeys (how she ever gets anywhere on time is beyond me though!), Bat Pussy arrives always in the nick of time to stop the porn actual getting, well, interesting!

Oddly fascinating, always a joke within a joke, and some of the chessiest lines you'll ever listen to, 'Bat Pussy' has to be seen to be believed. Written, filmed and produced in an era where anything went, and backed by some in style seedy music, actress "Dora Dildo" gives everything she's got in the role of Bat Pussy.

As for the un-happily married couple, Buddy and Sam, who are trying to make a porn film, to start with they are hardly porn star material, but it was the early '70s where anyone willing to film porn was greeted with applause by the horny masses! That said, no penetration gets underway and all they seem to try out are various oral techniques that look more like feeding time at the zoo!

Nobody is actually recognized throughout the Blu-ray though, actor wise, and not even the filmmakers or the producers get name checked, but that's ok as it's just one of those films that once it is all over 55 minutes later, you just want to hit play on all over again regardless! This is a Full Screen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

New 2K scan from the only surviving 16mm theatrical print!
Commentary track with Lisa Petrucci and Tim Lewis of Something Weird!
Crime-smut trailers and shorts from the Something Weird vault!
Liner notes by Lisa Petrucci and Mike McCarthy, the savior of BAT PUSSY!
Bonus movie: ROBOT LOVE SLAVES, scanned in 2K from an original theatrical print!
Double-sided cover art with illustration by Johnny Ryan!

'Bat Pussy' [Blu-ray] will be available for purchase on November 14th, 2017.

'Bat Pussy' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Bat Pussy' - Official Trailer

'Satan's Cheerleaders' [Blu-ray]
(John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jack Kruschen, John Carradine, Sydney Chaplin, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1977) 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Benedict High School's cheerleaders aren't shy and sweet. The football team knows them well - and Billy, the school's disturbed janitor, would like to. In the locker room, the girl's shower and dress, unaware of the evil eyes which secretly watch them. They don't know that a curse has been placed on their clothes. And they don't know that their trip to the first big game of the season might sideline them for eternity!

Blu-ray Verdict: Not what I expected to be viewing in the slightest, given it's devilish title, 'Satan's Cheerleaders' is all about four high school cheerleaders — pretty blonde Patti (Kerry Sherman), brunette babe Chris (Hillary Horan), busty bird Sharon (Sherry Marks), and man-eater Debbie (Alisa Powell) — who are traveling to a football game with their PE teacher Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole), when they are abducted by Satanists who hope to sacrifice a 'pure maiden' to their master.

The first half an hour of this comedy/horror is a whole lot of cheesy fun, focusing on the Benedict High cheerleaders as they bicker with their rivals from Baker High, take a shower under the watchful eye of pervy janitor Mr. Brooks (Jack Kruschen), and fraternize with the jocks on the football team.

And yes, for those wanting/having to know, there's plenty of female flesh on show, along with crazy pranks, a water fight (that includes viciously hurled water balloons), and some general rough-housing (where pillows wouldn't have seemed out of place!), all accompanied by a cool and funky wakka-wakka guitar soundtrack.

However, once the girls fall foul of the devil worshiping cultists while on the road, the fun slowly dissipates. The action becomes extremely repetitive — the girls get get caught, they escape, they get caught, they escape, they get caught; you get the drift - and despite lots more sneaky up-skirt shots and Ms.Johnson (played by the Director's wife) revealing some cleavage, it all becomes very tiresome toward the end, sorry.

That said, true devotees of cinematic trash may take exception to a low body count, an absence of gore, and the aforementioned amount of bare female flesh. This is closer to the kind of thing one might expect to see in TV movie treatment of such material.

Co-written and directed by B movie veteran Greydon Clark ("Without Warning"), the slumming big name cast provides some curiosity value; Yvonne De Carlo appears to be serious as the Sheriff's wife, but John Ireland 9as the Sheriff) is clearly kidding around; John Carradine knowingly hams it up as a bum, Jack Kruschen is appropriately off putting as Billy, and Sydney Chaplin has some fun as one of the Devils' disciples. This is a Full Screen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original Uncompressed Dual Channel Mono Audio
Audio Commentary Track with the Director, Greydon Clark
Audio Commentary Track with genre film Director David DeCoteau ('Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge') and film historian
Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery

'Satan's Cheerleaders' [Blu-ray] will be available for purchase on November 7th, 2017.

'Satan's Cheerleaders' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Satan's Cheerleaders' - Trailer

'One Million B.C.' [Blu-ray]
(Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Lon Chaney, Jr., et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1940) 2017 / VCI Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'One Million B.C.' is an American historical epic fantasy film produced by Hal Roach Studios and released by United Artists. Boy meets girl - prehistoric style, in this classic of man's battle to survive against the terrors of the prehistoric world.

Blu-ray Verdict: Not to be confused with the other rather more famous 'One Million Years B.C.', this intrepid 1940 film is one of the best of its time and ilk, that's for sure. Starring a stunningly big-chested Victor Mature (in only his second film role), as protagonist Tumak, a young caveman who strives to unite the uncivilized Rock Tribe and the peaceful Shell Tribe, the film focuses on him in a way that it was obvious the camera was falling in love with the leading man.

Carole Landis as Loana, daughter of the Shell Tribe chief and Tumak's love interest and Lon Chaney Jr. as Tumak's stern father and leader of the Rock Tribe also feature heavy, along with dinosaurs, a generalized savage nature throughout, and a gigantic erupting volcano also.

A camp adventure classic, 'One Million B.C.' is also pretty much a kind of ancient love story - and it may even be trying to symbolize that the people from the ancient world were not all barbarians and like animals and that they had their own way of life with emotions and problems very much like ours today.

This is explained after just the initial first five minutes or so, because the film is basically a flashback. Starting in the present day and then remembering what happened long ago, whilst it may not be an incredibly powerful romantic film, it is a great look at old film-making.

Now to those creatures, starting with those "dinosaurs". These are enlarged lizards and alligators with sails stuck on their backs to resemble Dimetrodons. We also see a T-Rex which is just a man in a monster suit and seems to be dancing. At the beginning, the cavemen kill a rubber Tricertops for food.

Other creatures we see are Woolly Mammoths, which I think are just elephants covered with fur, a giant armadillo, aardvark and snakes. Some of these creatures look OK and some look rather shoddy. However, there must have been something to these monsters, beacuse stock footage from this movie was to appear in many others in years to come, including Teenage Caveman, Tarzan's Desert Mystery and King Dinosaur.

Personally, I love the ending to this film - ** SPOILER ALERT ** - for the movie ends not with Conrads Nagels narration to his captive band of sightseers about the story of Tumek and Loana, but with both tribes, Rock and Shell, now living in peace and harmony.

As we see them walking into the sunset with their adopted son - who's mother was killed when he was overtaken by the deadly lava flow, after the earth shaking volcanic explosion in the film - you just feel a warm, calming sense of peace envelope you. Nicely done, Hal Roach. Nicely done. This is a Full Screen presentation (1:37.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Commentary track by Film Expert, Toby Roan
Photo Gallery

'One Million B.C.' [Blu-ray] is now available for purchase.

'One Million B.C.' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'One Million B.C.' - Promo Trailer

'Go, Johnny Go!' [DVD]
(Alan Freed, Chuck Berry, Ritchie Valens, Jimmy Clanton, Jackie Wilson, et al / DVD / NR / (1959) 2017 / VCI Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: Rock & Roll changed 1950s America at 45 revolutions per minute, and the swinging-est of the R&R movies was the electrifying 'Go, Johnny, Go!'. Hung on the loose story line of DJ great Alan Freed’s search for the next big star, are way-out performances by some of the now-known-to-be all-time greats of that music scene.

DVD Verdict: It's the fabulous rocking '50s, and introduced by Alan Freed, he explains the reason for the search that he put underway back in 1959. Or, as he calls it, his search for a "new boy with a beat".

Claiming that once he finds him he's going to instantly rename him "Johnny Melody", the youngster awarded that name turns out to be Jimmy Clanton, an American singer who became known as the "swamp pop R&B teenage idol" due to this show alone.

Indeed, his band recorded a hit song "Just A Dream" which Clanton had written in 1958 for the Ace Records label and it reached number four on the Billboard chart and sold a million copies. He is still singing today.

Showcasing the talents of other great such as Jackie Wilson, Sandy Stewart and her Playmates (all men, of course), Jo-Ann Campbell, The Cadillacs, and the man know here as BIG Chuck Berry. Also featuring some pop in's from Eddie Cochran singing "Teenage Heaven", this is more than simply a flashback of some live b/w hits, but is a film about this "Johnny Melody" character, who thought he could take a shortcut to success - and learned the hard way he was wrong!

A wonderful film to look back on for not only the incredible, raw, and unedited songs of the day being performed by some of music's greatest ever musicians, and as much as it's obviously the truest form of exploitation, 'Go, Johnny Go!' is also pure unadulterated movie art at its finest. This is a Full Screen presentation (1:37.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Commentary by Richard M Roberts, Randy Skretvedt, and Brent Walker
Original Theatrical Trailer

'Go, Johnny Go!' [DVD] is now available for purchase.

'Go, Johnny Go!' [DVD] Purchase Link

'Go, Johnny Go!' - Trailer

'Mussolini: The Untold Story' [DVD]
(George C. Scott, Lee Grant, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Virginia Madsen, Raul Julia, et al / 2-DVD / TV PG-13 / (1985) 2017 / VCI Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: He was powerful-arrogant-mesmerizing. He dreamed of a new Roman Empire- and himself as its new emperor. As Italy's leader he was at first revered...then feared...and ultimately despised. But at the height of his power, the crowd would roar "II Duce" -and the man who would step forward to receive the accolades was Mussolini. This mini-series is the rise and fall of Benito Mussolini.

DVD Verdict: I guess playing George Patton, a very strong authoritative figure qualified George C. Scott to play another. Seeing Scott out there as a strutting peacock he really captures the charisma and the appeal that was Mussolini. In America, we are just now starting to get a taste of that with our new President!

Mussolini, newspaper editor came to power after total Italian disillusion with World War I and their participation in it. Probably most in Italy felt they should have stayed out. They started as an ally to Germany and Austro-Hungary with the Central Powers. Then overnight they switched sides and fought a bloody war of attrition for three years. A post war depression with a lot of parliamentary politicians unable to solve an economic crisis and Italy was in the mood to listen to anyone promising prosperity and stability.

How stable? Italy was a kingdom ruled by the House of Savoy. King Victor Emanuel gave Benito Mussolini the seal of office and as Prime Minister he ruled for over 20 years under those auspices. Another war removed him though the Nazis tried to prop him up.

With the trappings of democracy Mussolini ruled as dictator with a dummy parliament and reserved unto himself the title of Il Duce. Just like his chum Adolph Hitler appropriated Der Furhrer for himself.

Unlike Hitler who was an aesthete and maybe impotent, Mussolini liked living large. Married with a family, his wife played by Lee Grant here he had one voracious appetite for the opposite sex. There is a famous story of how he raped a famous American correspondent, most likely Dorothy Thompson which is reenacted here.

In the end all Mussolini had was his mistress Clara Petacci or I should say the last and most well known of them. Virginia Madsen plays Clara exactly as she was a rather naive and stupid groupie. Take note of Robert Downey, Jr. playing Bruno Mussolini, a favored younger son, a chip off the old block who was killed in World War II.

Still the main feature of this highly laudable mini-series 'Mussolini: The Untold Story 'is a fascinating and compelling performance by George C. Scott. As Il Duce, Scott is the real deal. And instructive in light of an uncertain future America faces. I also loved how the movie showed Mussolini's unfortunate fall from being the strong man of Italy to a mere puppet of a Nazi puppeteer. I found this piece to be very accurate, as was a lot more held within this taut mini-series. This is a Full Screen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Mussolini: The Untold Story' [DVD] is now available for purchase.

'Mussolini: The Untold Story' [DVD] Purchase Link

'Mussolini: The Untold Story' - Promo Trailer

'Ruby: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD]
(Piper Laurie, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis, Janit Baldwin, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1977) 2017 / VCI Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: Sixteen years after Ruby Claire's gangster boyfriend was shot and killed by four associates, a series of gruesome murders takes place at the drive-in movie theatre she now owns.

Meanwhile, the behavior of her mute daughter Leslie is becoming increasingly strange and a visiting psychic claims that forces from beyond are out for revenge.

Blu-ray Verdict: An interesting fact to kick things off is, that this film 'Ruby' was reportedly the highest grossing independent film prior to 'Halloween' (1978), which was released the following year. I had never personally heard nor seen 'Ruby', but based on that just fact alone I was intrigued.

For, as it turns out, this woman Ruby is actually having a "love affair" with the supernatural, and boy, does it get hot, steamy, and bloody in (many) places! Piper Laurie ('Carrie') does a great job here as the leaf character Ruby, and might even take her horror acting skills to a whole new level, in my humble opinion.

Sure 'Ruby' is well known for being a combination of 'The Exorcist', 'The Omen', and even 'Carrie' itself, but this all getting blended into a horror tale such as 'Ruby' just meant that, at the time, it was a sure fire way to get bums on theater seats, that's for sure.

Unfortunately, the special effects and gore are cheaply done and the ending somewhat rushed and abrupt, but, and again, Laurie's impressive turn as Ruby, a hard-drinking harlot in ownership of a weather beaten old drive-in movie theater is simply spot on delightful and perfect casting.

Lest we forgot to pay mention to the possessed child Leslie, Janit Baldwin, who going through her own Exorcist moments is still exceptionally creepy. With the aid of some eye make-up she easily transforms from looking like an innocent child into a creature of evil, and hers is the scariest performance in the whole movie.

Finally, we have Roger Davis, as the spiritual doctor brought in to sort out the whole mess, and he too contributes a solid and flawless performance. In closing, my favorite scene from 'Ruby' is when a mutilated body is hidden inside a Coke vending machine. Then along comes an overweight woman who decides to have a drink, puts a coin in the slot, and receives a healthy cup of fresh blood! Hilarious and so imaginative.

Oh, but then again, on the other hand, although the film is set in 1951, when the projectionist is killed, a 1970's can of A&W Root Beer falls off of a shelf, along with a red extension cord! Oh well, you can't have it all, I guess, but here in 'Ruby' you can have most of it! This is a Full Screen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special features of:

2K Film Transfer and Restoration
2001 David Del Valle Video Interview with Director, Curtis Harrington
Commentary Track – Dir: Curtis Harrington & actress Piper Laurie
Sinister Image Episode – David Del Valle Interviews Curtis Harrington- Vol 1
Sinister Image Episode – David Del Valle Interviews Curtis Harrington- Vol 2
2017 Commentary Track with David Del Valle & ‘Curtis Harrington’ expert, Nate Bell
Liner Notes by Nate Bell
Original Theatrical Trailer – Restored HD
Includes a Bonus DVD copy!

'Ruby: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] was made available for purchase on September 12th, 2017.

'Ruby: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'Ruby: Special Edition' - Promo Trailer

'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story'
(Mick Ronson, David Bowie, Angie Bowie, Ian Hunter, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: From Emperor Media Ltd. and acclaimed producer/director Jon Brewer, music icon David Bowie narrates this unprecedented celebration of the life and works of guitar virtuoso Mick Ronson - a rock hero virtually unknown despite his direct contribution and involvement in countless compositions, lyrics and recordings that changed the face of music forever.

Blu-ray Verdict: As David Bowie's lead guitarist, arranger and band leader from 1970-1973 Mick Ronson made huge contributions to the work that ultimately catapulted Bowie to fame.

Here on 'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story', Jon Brewer's documentary on the late, great Mick Ronson helps give some perspective around his contribution to David Bowie's rise to stardom.

Here, along the way, David Bowie is quick to point out via narration that as much as Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders were only together for 18 months, but that not only was it his favorite period of time, but that it wouldn't have been so successful without Mick Ronson by his side at all times.

His humble beginnings in Hull, England underpinned the values and modest, unpretentious personality of Mick Ronson, who worked with the city's council while he pursued his craft with consummate dedication. Soon word of his talent reached David Bowie, who grabbed at the chance to work with Ronson, in what would become a career-long association.

As Ian Hunter himself points out, looking at Bowie at that time was like looking at someone from another planet, but then looking at Ronson was like looking at God's gift to women! Which is funny, because one of the best behind the scenes stories told here is from Angie Bowie. She relates a time when she told Ronson to put some eyeliner on to "bring out his beautiful eyes", and after he'd done that successfully, the next time she saw him he'd put lipstick on too!

Some other stories tell of how it was hard to understand Ronson due to his thick Hull accent from the UK. Lou Reed, in particular, admits he loved everything Bowie and Ronson did, but had such a hard time understanding one word that he spoke!

Sadly in 1993, while working on a solo album, Ronson passed away before receiving the recognition he so richly deserved or before taking that final bow. Now, with unprecedented access to archival backstage footage - never before released - and iconic imagery from superstar photographer Mick Rock, this fascinating and at times controversial special reveals the ultimate authentic chronicle of the career of a cornerstone of rock.

A stunning hour worth of history, 'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story' is all this and so, so much more, trust me. In closing, I'll leave you with my most favorite quote, and that's from Queens drummer, Roger Taylor. After having performed at Live Aid with Bowie on the bill, and then with Ronson at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert thereafter, Taylor tells us that he knew Bowie very well, and that he one time said to him, "When I found my Mick Ronson I found my Jeff Beck". How beautiful, and solid gold true is that. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story' [Blu-ray+DVD] was made available for purchase on October 13th, 2017.

'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story' Purchase Link

'Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story' - Promo Trailer

'Mario Lanza: The Best of Everything'
(Mario Lanza / DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: Mario Lanza was the world's most famous tenor, bigger than Pavarotti, Carreras or Domingo. His voice was from God, but within ten years of fame and success he was dead. This stunning film traces the legend that was Lanza.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, Mario Lanza was an American tenor of Italian ancestry, and an actor and Hollywood film star of the late 1940s and the 1950s.

Passing away at just 38 years-old, Lanza began studying to be a professional singer at the age of 16. After appearing at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947, Lanza signed a seven-year film contract with Louis B. Mayer, the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who saw his performance and was impressed by his singing.

Prior to that, the adult Lanza had sung only two performances of an opera. The following year (1948), however, he sang the role of Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly in New Orleans.

'Mario Lanza: The Best of Everything' is a really fascinating documentary that, I for one, didn't know about 90% of. It covers all the above along with the fact that his film debut for MGM was in That Midnight Kiss (1949) with Kathryn Grayson and Ethel Barrymore.

A year later, in The Toast of New Orleans, his featured popular song "Be My Love" became his first million-selling hit. In 1951, he played the role of tenor Enrico Caruso, his idol, in the biopic The Great Caruso, which produced another million-seller with "The Loveliest Night of the Year" (a song which used the melody of Sobre las Olas). Indeed, The Great Caruso was the top-grossing film that year.

The title song of his next film, Because You're Mine, was his final million-selling hit song. The song went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

After recording the soundtrack for his next film, The Student Prince, he embarked upon a protracted battle with studio head Dore Schary arising from artistic differences with director Curtis Bernhardt, and was eventually dismissed by MGM.

Not to run his history much more deeply for you guys here now, just know that this 82 minute documentary was written, produced and directed by Alan Byron of Screenbound Entertainment, a group actually specializing in biopics of various musical personalities.

It features interviews with his daughter Elissa; contemporary musicians, including tenors Joseph Calleja and Gianluca Terranova; and rare archival concert footage of Lanza, Maria Callas, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and features the official 'Mario Lanza: The Best of Everything' trailer.

(Lea Lumanog, Aira Joy Jubilo, Lerma Coronel, et al / DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: Taking us into the heart of the planet's busiest maternity hospital, the viewer is dropped like an unseen outsider into the hospital's stream of activity.

DVD Verdict: The planet's busiest maternity hospital is located in one of its poorest countries: the Philippines. There, women face devastating consequences as their country struggles with reproductive health policy and the politics of conservative ideologies.

Director, Producer and Writer Ramona S. Diaz's humbling 'Motherland' (which won a Sundance Special Jury Award for “Commanding Vision") shines a readily, and immediate light on The Jose Fabella Hospital, Philippines. Boasting what they reckon is the world’s single busiest maternity unit, with as many as 100 births a day, 'Motherland' is eyeopening, to say the least.

As for why it finds itself in that position, well, that's explained simply by informing you that these mothers are all mostly poor, Catholic, and unemployed. Already burdened with several children, and no real solid place to turn for birth control, it seems that getting pregnant (aka "having fun") is about the only thing to do in this area of the world.

Not that 'Motherland' runs the gamete of mostly young girls/women, for they actually follow a handful of primary women during their overlapping hospital stays. One is a woman who, if only for a few moments, manages to lose her baby, whilst others include stories about of the men in these women's lives that cannot afford to make the trip to the hospital each day.

And the there's Lerma. An older lady with a whiplash tongue, it takes many a conversation with her before she even agrees to a tubal ligation after seven children. But, just when you, the viewer think you've accomplished something alongside the nurses, Lerma suddenly has a change of heart and the whole deal's off again.

Her newborn still suffering from pneumonia, they cannot stop her. And therein lies the heartbreak side of this documentary for as much as the nurses and doctors are all on top form, giving their all for these women, at any given time it can blow up in their face - and the only person it hurts is the mother.

Filmed in a tight, crisp manner, and obviously not rushed in its scope of time filmed, 'Motherland' is enlightening and devastating in equal measures; but always riveting and heartfelt. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and features the official 'Motherland' trailer.

'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher'
(Lance Letscher / DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: A documentary from frequent Richard Linklater collaborator and Oscar-nominated editor Sandra Adair, who has cut Linklater’s films from Boyhood to Dazed And Confused, 'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher' is a personal and psychological portrait of Letscher; an internationally known (and Austin-based) visual artist.

DVD Verdict: This quite brilliant feature documentary follows Austin-based, internationally-known, collage artist Lance Letscher as he makes a major transition from his intricately designed paper collage work to the medium of metal for a large public art piece.

Following Lance into his studio and environs around Texas - gathering metal, cutting, contemplating - the journey seeks to unveil this intense and quirky character, whose passion for collecting, and seeing potential in the seemingly antiquated, is as fascinating as his densely layered pieces that are shown in galleries and museums worldwide.

We also get to learn along the way that Letscher has been commissioned to create a large metal mural for the side of South Congress Books, in the trendy area for Austin arts and tourism. Lance will tackle the challenge much like he does his paper pieces, by gathering materials from unlikely sources to create a familiar palette in an unfamiliar medium.

Hoping to create a metal collage that speaks to the old as well as the new and which reflects the spirit of Austin, tagging visually along like this as a viewer is truly, totally and utterly enthralling.

Oscar-nominated editor Sandra Adair, the award winner may well be making her directorial debut on 'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher', but has enjoyed an ongoing artistic collaboration with film director Richard Linklater.

Having edited 18 films for him over the past 22 years, some of which include the cult classic Dazed and Confused, the 2012 comedy Bernie and the critically acclaimed Before trilogy, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, and Boyhood, their mutual respect and solid working relationship shines through here on every frame. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and features the official 'The Secret Life of Lance Letscher' trailer.

'Heartworn Highways Revisited'
(Various / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: This film is the highly-anticipated follow-up to Heartworn Highways, one of the most beloved music documentaries ever made. The film, like its predecessor, offers rare insight into the lives of the musicians it follows by authentically depicting a community rarely entered by outsiders, with an intimate, fly-on-the-wall observation of the live performances, studio sessions and home jams of Nashville’s legendary and up-and-coming songwriters.

DVD Verdict: 39 years on from the original, this quite fascinating documentary continues to showcase the still ongoing struggle to define oneself in Nashville. More so, what actually makes a so-called country song "country" any more, and not simply a pop song.

Heartworn originals Guy Clark, Steve Young, and David Allan Coe are reunited for Revisited, even as the film focuses on the next generation of “outlaws”: John McCauley, Jonny Fritz, Josh Hedley, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, Langhorne Slim, Robert Ellis, Andrew Combs, Shelly Colvin, Phil Hummer, and others, who honor the tradition of their predecessors while forging a highway all their own.

With the ever fluctuation, fluid tide of the music industry, musicians are on the road more days out of the year than ever before and the highway rolls on as bands of the modern Americana music scene continue to discover what it is that inspires them and makes it all worth it.

It is in this spirit that director Wayne Price brought the original film full circle here with 'Heartworn Highways Revisited', a 39th anniversary celebration of the original film featuring Shovels and Rope, Joshua Hedley, John McCauley, Langhorne Slim, Robert Ellis, Johnny Fritz and many more.

'Heartworn Highways Revisited' won Best Documentary at the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival. It was an Official Selection at The Nashville Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and Film Society of Lincoln Center Sound + Vision.

'Heartworn Highways Revisited' will also be sold as a combo pack with the original 'Heartworn Highways' film on DVD and Blu-ray. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and features the official 'Heartworn Highways' and 'Heartworn Highways Revisited' trailers.

(José Carlos Ruiz, Gabino Rodríguez, et al / DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: 'Tormentero' is Rubén Imaz’s (“Familia Tortuga,” “Epitafio”) mystical, Lynchian tale of a retired fisherman haunted by his past, suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia.

DVD Verdict: Don Rome (José Carlos Ruiz) is a retired fisherman who found a crude oil slick while he was out with his crew one day. For better or for worse, that singular discovery changed the whole presence of his small town on the global map, ensuring that Rome's comfy fishing exploits were overshadowed now by the big oil companies that have since moved in and claimed anything and everything surrounding him.

So, Rome is now alone, becoming more and more internally dysfunctional due to his daily routines having been stopped stone cold dead in their collective tracks. Now lonely and old, he slowly begins to go mad as he lulls himself in and out of consciousness.

Rome's interactions with the profiteers are, one and all, as creepy as anything within the film. He isn't overly sure he understands their cheesy smiles, hearty pats on the back, but also, at the same time, knows he has company now that visits him, that waves at him when he takes his rare walks.

His children, who try their best to coax their father back into a sense of reality, joy even for what he discovered, are twins Chacho and Ariel, and Yolanda. Sure Chacho and Ariel only appear onscreen once together, but it's the work of Yolanda here that shows the most compassion towards her father's spiraling situation. Acting as his wife and daughter at all times, wearing the cap perfectly, if not disjointedly at certain times of pent up non-understanding, she isn't the only one blurring the lines of the situation.

In closing, know that 'Tormentero' is definitely not an easy film to take in. Highly visceral and at the same time airy enough that you yourself can start to fill in some of the blanks in Rome's mind, at times it might feel like a struggle to watch Ruiz's painstaking performance, but don't give up. He doesn't, so why should you.

'Tormentero,' which translates as ‘stormmaker,’ is in Spanish, with English subtitles. The film was screened at this year’s SXSW and Cartagena Film Festivals and will next screen at the upcoming Rome Film Festival. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and features the official 'Tormentero' trailer.

'Black Sabbath: The End'
(Black Sabbath / DVD+CD / NR / 2017 / Eagle Vision Entertainment)

Overview: 'The End', to be released on November 17th, 2017, captured the final destination of that adventure – an unforgettable farewell show at the Genting Arena in Black Sabbath’s hometown of Birmingham.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, although they must rank in the far and few between, Black Sabbath are an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, singer Ozzy Osbourne, and drummer Bill Ward.

Indeed, Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970) and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

And so, and almost five decades ago, the toll of a bell and rolling thunder marked the conception of an ear splittingly monolithic riff. In that moment, Black Sabbath and the sound of Heavy Metal were forged. The band embarked on what Ozzy describes as the most incredible adventure you could think of, a journey that would go on to define a genre.

The End is a celebration of Black Sabbath's final hometown concert at Birmingham's Genting Arena on February 4th, 2017. This unforgettable farewell show from one of the biggest bands in the world will be released by Eagle Vision on November 17th, 2017.

With a hit packed set list including 'Iron Man', 'Paranoid', 'War Pigs', and many more, the high production values, visual effects, and pyrotechnics wowed fans, as the band delivered the most emotionally charged show in their history.

1. 'Black Sabbath'
2. 'Fairies Wear Boots'
3. 'Under The Sun / Every Day Comes And Goes'
4. 'After Forever'
5. 'Into The Void'
6. 'Snowblind'
7. Band Intros
8. 'War Pigs'
9. 'Behind The Wall Of Sleep'
10. 'Bassically / N.I.B.'
11. 'Hand Of Doom'
12. 'Supernaut / Sabbath Bloody Sabbath / Megalomania'
13. 'Rat Salad / Drum Solo'
14. 'Iron Man'
15. 'Dirty Women'
16. 'Children Of The Grave'
17. 'Paranoid'

Extras [+ CD Tracklisting]:
The Angelic Sessions
1. 'The Wizard'
2. 'Wicked World'
3. 'Sweet Leaf'
4. 'Tomorrow's Dream'
5. 'Changes'

Featuring Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar) and Geezer Butler (bass), with Tommy Clufetos (drums) and Adam Wakeman (keyboards / guitar), watching The End unfold from 'Black Sabbath' on through to 'Paranoid', I have to admit, and even though I'm a fan of Ozzy's work, that I was expecting a shambolic disaster of a vocal and stage performance from him.

I couldn't have been more wrong, for as much as Ozzy still shuffles his way around, still mumbles certain lyrics (didn't he always though?), and even seems to get lost in thought in between guitar solos, Ozzy and his band of merry, dark-hearted me are in sparkling form here.

Sure, Ozzy's vocals that made those heavy metal classics sound the way they did in 1970 onward aren't as piqued as they are now, but that's what happens when you splurge of drugs and alcohol for 40 plus years, once can only assume. But the fact that here throughout this last ever show, his vocals are just close enough to the originals to have everyone baying for the show to go on and on and on each time a song ends, well, that says a lot for the great man.

Tony Iommi, as always, is a genuine master at his craft and brings forth an endless procession of heavily psychedelic, and dark blues. Indeed, the way his creates these so-might-call "sinister" sounds not only showcases what he can do, but resonate with the entire crowd; given that they embody the work of Black Sabbath as stand alone, not lyrics required melodies.

His work, in my humble opinion, is brought to the fore best on such classics as the lumbering 'Iron Man', '“Children of the Grave', and the excellent 'War Pigs.' That said, as Iommi travels through his dark riff journey on 'Dirty Women,' you'll notice Ozzy just starring at him, a grin on his face, his eyes alive and in as much wonderment of pleasure as the rest of us.

The other founding member here on this last ever date on their farewell tour is bassist Geezer Butler. A man whose own ownership of his bass guitar means he completes this trio of musical warriors perfectly. His own stand alone moment comes when introducing 'N.I.B.' as his brilliantly displays bass work that rivets you to his work like deer caught in headlights.

A shout out through to Adam Wakeman (keyboards / guitar) and Tony Clufetos, the latter who took over from original drummer Bill Ward when he left the band in 2012. Sure he's no Ward, who is when it comes to Black Sabbath, but his presence in the band on this tour is not only warranted but steadies the whole ship with a massive backbone to work from.

An incredible performance to see here on DVD, let alone to have been there that very same historic night, 'Black Sabbath: the End' is one of the best metal / rock concerts of I've seen in the past decade. So, knowing they have gone out on a high note, and knowing that Motley Crue did much the same thing earlier this year, and knowing that both a-ha and Cher said goodbye and yet came back (when the money was offered), perhaps this might not be "the end" for Black Sabbath live, after all.

Oh, and all visual formats feature special bonus material of the band playing a selection of their favorite songs not played on tour. These intimate live sessions at Angelic Studios were recorded in the days after their final live performance.

As Tony Iommi himself has since said, "Because it was Birmingham, it was a special night for us. It was great to look out and know that all these people have come to see us. What a great feeling. There’s nothing like it”.

Also, you should know that Eagle Vision will not only release the full live show on (this) DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, double CD, triple 180gm vinyl, but that there will also be an incredible, and highly limited edition Deluxe Collector’s Edition!

A limited number of exclusive merchandise bundles are also available at, but this limited edition Deluxe Collector’s Edition contains:

'The End' on DVD and Blu-ray
'The End' on double CD
The Angelic Sessions on CD (all housed in gatefold card sleeves)
A 32-page perfect bound book on heavyweight stock
A metal Winged Demon pin badge
A replica The End tour laminate
3 Plectrums (all housed in a DVD-height two piece rigid mirror board box)

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Black Sabbath - The End' [DVD+CD] Purchase Link

Black Sabbath @

'The Good Postman'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: A small Bulgarian village facing the Turkish border has been resisting foreign invaders since the times of the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Now, its electorate of 38 elderly Bulgarians is deciding on the future of Europe.

DVD Verdict: The Great Gate, as the village has been called for centuries because of its location on the doorsteps of the former Ottoman Empire, has found itself in the middle of European crisis, as at night asylum seekers sneak across the border causing fear and unrest.

Once again the sleepy and forgotten village has become the most important secret loophole of Europe. Postman Ivan has a new political vision. He decides to run for mayor to bring the dying village to life by welcoming refugees.

His opponents want either to close their eyes or close down the border and reintroduce communism. Busy on the campaign trail while delivering the mail, Ivan soon learns that while good intentions are not enough, even the smallest deeds matter.

Chock full of real, honest and natural folk, this Bulgarian village - which is commonplace and looks just like this one wherever you roam over there, trust me - has low employment stats, barely any young people, and no real "life" to it, so to speak.

The film is about their campaigns and the importance of the refugees issue, which makes for intriguing viewing. The coverage of the people/characters within, even when they are just simply sitting around chatting, uses no zoom handiwork. Just sits there, panned out, watching along with us.

Yet here in 'The Good Postman' director Tonislav Hristov and writer Lubomir Tsvetkov have allowed that cinematic landscape and soundscape to become a welcome mat to the viewer. By simply allowing the camera to roll, seemingly no given rules and regulations for what was being captured, they managed to embrace the naked truth of this village and what is underway.

Filming it all using Sony F55 cameras with cinema lenses, they used LED panels and shot it in 2:35, so as you can imagine it’s very cinematic. Incorporating old film lenses thereafter, this leads to some very beautiful, and very alluring cinematography to be captured.

' Nominated for the European Film Academy Documentary Award and Honorable Mention recipient for the Justice Matters Award at Filmfest DC, 'The Good Postman' has received critical acclaim worldwide. In closing, 'The Good Postman' is a tale told in a foreign-to-us country sure, but it also has a lot of parallels with topics faced across the world. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and features the official 'The Good Postman' trailer.

'Vermeer: Beyond Time'
(NR / DVD / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 'Vermeer: Beyond Time explores the life and work of one of the most loved, influential, and well-known artists, Johannes Vermeer.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.

Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime. He evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.

As we discover in this fascinating new PBS documentary 'Vermeer: Beyond Time', he worked slowly and with great care, and frequently used very expensive pigments. Indeed, as showcased, he is particularly renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work.

Vermeer painted mostly domestic interior scenes. As we learn also, almost all his paintings are apparently set in two smallish rooms in his house in Delft. They show the same furniture and decorations in various arrangements and they often portray the same people, mostly women.

Images from his paintings have become part of our collective imagination and are instantly recognizable to a lot of us art admirers, but what 'Vermeer: Beyond Time' does so well is that it brings the man's work to us in a whole new way.

French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Cottet adopts an imaginative and sensitive approach to his subject, focusing on not only his work, but also his family life; including his conversion to Catholicism, his artistic contemporaries, and the wider world of the short lived Dutch Golden Age of the 17th Century.

Not just flashing over his works, showing us a quick picture of one, before moving to the next, some mumbling narrator trapped in a world where he/she loves their own voice too much to care about what we think, 'Vermeer: Beyond Time' excels in taking his history slowly for us. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'POV: Swim Team'
(Jersey Hammerheads / NR / DVD / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: 'POV: Swim Team' chronicles the extraordinary rise of the Jersey Hammerheads, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence, and a life that feels winning.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, the Jersey Hammerheads is a Special Olympics Swim Team from Middlesex County, NJ.

Here in the must-see 'POV: Swim Team', in New Jersey, the parents of a boy on the autism spectrum take matters into their own hands. They form a competitive swim team, recruiting diverse teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity.

Egro, as aforementioned, 'POV: Swim Team' chronicles the truly extraordinary rise of the Jersey Hammerheads in their quest for capturing a right for inclusion, independence, and a life that feels like winning.

Inspiration, heartfelt, tormented, and sorrowful all at once, 'POV: Swim Team' is a remarkable cinematic storytelling feat of the highest order. Out now through PBS Home Entertainment, it consists entirely of autistic boys and girls and their everyday challenges faced.

As noted, started by Michael McQuay and his wife Maria, whose son Mikey was their inspiration to starting the swim team, Mikey is one of the lead subjects here - and rightfully so.

This Lara Stolman documentary about the Hammerheads swim team is one of the most sincerest, honest-to-God documentaries of the year, maybe of the past decade, it's just that good. 'POV: Swim Team' was filmed over the course of two years and follows the struggles they face as a group and as individuals. Compelling and riveting and everything else you need to bring you in to watch it. Which I suggest you do soon. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with English Subtitles.

Jersey Hammerheads Special Olympics Swim Team @ Facebook

'Zoology' [Blu-ray]
(Natalya Pavlenkova, Masha Tokareva, Aleksandr Gorchilin, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2016) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Middle-aged zoo worker Natasha still lives with her mother in a small coastal town. She is stuck and it seems that life has no surprises for her until one day - she grows a tail and turns her life around.

Blu-ray Verdict: Without a shadow of a doubt, 'Zoology' is one of the most astoundingly left of center, but decidedly wonderful films that I have ever had the pleasure to sit through and review.

In 'Zoology', writer-director Ivan I. Tverdovsky's prize-winning sophomore feature (Special Prize of the Jury at Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Best Picture at Fantastic Fest) deftly mixes the deadpan humor of Aki Kaurismäki with a poignant examination of social issues including loneliness and aging.

At its deep, deep heart, 'Zoology' is a touching, bittersweet film that will hold you in storytelling awe for the entire 90 minutes. A parable, if you will, but at all times a beautiful, love story, this profound storytelling of a middle-aged woman grows and grows before our very eyes, scene after scene.

Described as Kafka meets Cronenberg (Hollywood Reporter) Tverdovsky's film is a beautifully photographed portrait of Eastern Europe that recalls the recent New Romanian Cinema and features a brave and brilliant central performance from Natalya Pavlenkova.

Definitely nothing that I can go too deeply into, although both the Overview (see above) and the Trailer (see below) will for sure make you raise your eyebrow on the central "talking point" of the film, 'Zoology' avoids cinematic clichés and hunkers down for a showcase of both reality and our disillusions therein.

Well worth a secondary viewing, 'Zoology' is profoundly deep, turning the lens on us many times, and our own stubborn, inbred-as-a-society insecurities, whilst trying to sideline that cruelty-for-others aspect in place of a more forgiving, welcoming, accepting outlook. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

High Definition 1080p Presentation
Optional English Subtitles
5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround Sound
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Michael Brooke

'Zoology' [Blu-ray] will be available for purchase on November 14th, 2017.

'Zoology' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Zoology' - Trailer

'J.D.'s Revenge: Special Edition'
{Louis Gossett, Jr, Glynn Turman, Joan Pringle, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1976) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Law student Ike is enjoying a night on the town with his friends when his life changes dramatically. Taking part in a nightclub hypnosis act, he becomes possessed with the spirit of a violent gangster murdered in the 1940s.

Believing himself to be the reincarnation of murderous J.D., Ike launches a revenge campaign against those who had done him wrong all those years ago.

Blu-ray Verdict: One of the best and most effective entries in the short-lived 70's blaxploitation horror craze (prime examples of this nifty sub-genre include both 'Blacula' movies, 'Abby,' and 'Sugar Hill'), 'J.D.'s Revenge' emphasizes mood over violence, with seasoned B-picture veteran Arthur Marks' ('Bonnie's Kids,' 'Bucktown') typically sturdy, stylish, self-assured direction and Jaison Starkes' craftily plotted script deftly milking the creepy, mysterious, unsettling Southern Gothic-style ambiance for all its worth.

Said scary gloom-doom tone, further reinforced by a vivid evocation of that uniquely lazy, luscious and exotic Big Easy atmosphere and Marks' ever dark sense of humor, permeates within the viewer in a low-key, yet forceful manner. The always great Louis Gossett, Jr. offers a dazzling, dynamic portrayal of Elijah Bliss, a flashy, grand-standing, two-faced Preacher man with something to hide.

The lovely Joan Pringle is strong and sympathetic as Ike's concerned girlfriend Christella. Harry May's gorgeous, polished cinematography gives the film a sumptuous professional sheen which totally bellies the low budget.

OK, sure, director Marks doesn't generate anything particularly spine-tinglingly frightening with the flipped-out supernatural current, but works well with the gritty and murky air to cement tough groundwork. Indeed, there is a ruthlessly razor-sharp vibe throughout, even though the make-up is cheaply done, it's Glynn Turman's tour-de-force performance that sells it.

The eerie, groovy, understated score by Robert Prince (who also co-wrote the forgettable ending credits theme song "I'll Never Let You Go") is likewise on the money here also. Reportedly one of Samuel Jackson's longtime favorite movies, 'J.D.'s Revenge' rates as a solid entry into cinematic history. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 1.0 mono sound
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand new interview with producer-director Arthur Marks
Original Theatrical Trailer
Arthur Marks Trailer Reel
Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet containing new writing by Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies

'J.D.'s Revenge: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] will be available for purchase on November 14th, 2017.

'J.D.'s Revenge: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'J.D.'s Revenge: Special Edition' - Trailer

'The Rift: Dark Side of The Moon'
(Ken Foree, Monte Markham, Katarina Cas, et al / DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: An American military satellite crash lands in Eastern Serbia and a team of agents are dispatched to secure the remains of the satellite, but when they locate the crash site all is not as it seems.

DVD Verdict: Liz Waid (Katarina Cas) is a government agent cryptologist who has lost a son (presumably) to cancer. She is tasked to go on a mission to Serbia to get a piece of a crashed satellite that may have information.

The mission is lead by John Smith (Ken Foree - a low budget Samuel L. Jackson), who is also a complete and utter control freak. Also on the mission is a dying NASA scientist (Monte Markham) and Darko (Dragan Micanovic), a Serbian agent acting as a liaison.

When they get to the location of the signal there is no crash site, just Henry, the dormant astronaut on the DVD cover. Well, ok, there are some indigenous folks too, but they don't play much part here, in truth.

'The Rift: Dark Side of The Moon' is explained throughout as a setting for some exploits into so-called science theory, and for the most part it works. It also incorporates non-linear time phases and some kind of space-time travel, so keep an eye on this throughout.

As things begin to hot up, the brilliant Dragan Micanovic remarks, "A criminal, a mad scientist and you, Agent Smith ... not exactly the A-Team" and it's one liners like that that make 'The Rift' stand head above the cinematic waters - albeit just.

The choreography, setting, and camera work is all very well done, for that I must give them all credit. Editing and sound was also done with quality and an eye for detail. But it's the excellent score/soundtrack that, although seems a wee bit too loud in places, wins the day here.

Always appropriate in style, and never competing with discussions, this quite stellar musical background score/soundtrack includes big Prog names such as Rick Wakeman (Yes), the late John Wetton (Asia), Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Colin Moulding (XTC), and more, all performing compositions from Pink Floyd’s seminal album, Dark Side of the Moon. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Theatrical Trailer
Slide Show
The Making Of / Behind The Scenes
Music Video

'The Rift: Dark Side of The Moon' [DVD] will be available to purchase on December 12th, 2017.

'The Rift: Dark Side of The Moon' [DVD] Purchase Link

'The Rift: Dark Side of The Moon' - Trailer

Free To Rock How Rock & Roll Brought Down The Wall
(Kiefer Sutherland / 2-DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Free To Rock is the social history of how western rock music spread like a virus across the Iron Curtain, becoming the symbol of freedom under the Soviet regime. And how it helped end the Cold War.

DVD Verdict: In truth, and if you ask anyone from around that time frame noted within this uber fine documentary, 'Free To Rock' is a long-awaited film; a decade in the making.

Expertly, and cautiously knitting together a musical/pictorial mosaic of archival source material, 'Free To Rock' sheds further light upon the pivotal role American rock music played as a soft power accessory in helping to escalate, if not promulgate social change throughout Cold War, Communist-dominated Eastern Europe.

Other cinematic attempts have been made with a more limited scope, such as 'How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin' (2009), and 'Rockin' The Wall' (2010). However, now with noted filmmaker Jim Brown's valuable contribution, we now have the most up-to-date and comprehensive cinematic assessment.

Indeed, the film is significantly enriched by archival and rare footage as well as recent interviews with the likes of Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev. Also, the genuine spirit of Marshall McLuhan hovers throughout the course of this one hour journey.

In truth, it's nothing less than a meditation on McLuhan's thought-provoking concept of a "global embrace;" one of his futuristic ideas that humanity will more and more be transformed through the heightened availability of images and sounds.

Bands like Flowers, Kino, and Plastic People of the Universe sparked a revolutionary youth movement that openly defied the Communist government, survived the KGB crackdowns, and fueled a desire for freedom.

Interviews and performances included here are immense and feature: President's Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev and Latvian President Vike- Freiberga, KGB General Oleg Kalugin, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Spring¬steen, Scorpions, Cyndi Lauper (The Wall - Live in Berlin), Metallica, Stas Namin, Pits "Pete" Anderson, Boris Grebenshikov, Andrey Makarev¬ich, Valery Saifudinov, Yuri Schevchuk, and Mark Ross, who produced one of the largest free rock concerts in history - outside Moscow in 1991 - days before the USSR's collapse.

In closing, as aforementioned, 'Free To Rock' is a ten-year production with production funding and support from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Grammy Museum Foundation, and The Stas Namin Centre in Moscow. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and Disc 2 contains a 123 minute film called Rockin’ The Kremlin: Outtakes & Original Stories Behind the Making of Free To Rock.

'Free To Rock: How Rock & Roll Brought Down The Wall' [2-DVD] is available to purchase now.

'Free To Rock: How Rock & Roll Brought Down The Wall' [2-DVD] Purchase Link

'Free To Rock: How Rock & Roll Brought Down The Wall' - Promo Trailer

'Animal Factory: Special Edition'
(Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Danny Trejo, John Heard, Steve Buscemi, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1982) 2017 / VCI Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: A young man (Edward Furlong) goes to prison and a tough, older convict (Willem Dafoe) takes him under his wing as a mentor.

Blu-ray Verdict: Steve Buscemi's prison flick 'Animal Factory' is oddly upbeat and yet shallow for the writer-director of the much better 'Trees Lounge.'

We have a young drug war convict thrown to the wolves, but where is he thrown? This is prison as a place where, if he slinks off whenever trouble starts, a con can avoid most of the worst and shoot up with his pals regularly ... sometimes, courtesy of a kindly prison official!

It's the joint as a center of homosexual rape, unless you happen to be doe-eyed, red-lipped 21-year old Edward Furlong, in which case you'll receive all the chaste fatherly ministrations of the skinhead bad ass who happens to run your block and desires not your ass but the preservation of your dignity. An intellectual too, he'll even take an interest in your reading, steering you clear of an author who is a known "police state bitch".

In my humble opinion, these Spielbergian dimensions sit uneasily, to say the least, with the movie's cultivation of a hard edge and undermine what might have been a more honest, less sentimental view of survival.

Verité aside, this wish-fulfillment stuff is watchable for Willem Defoe's determined attempt to wrench more depth from his character than the script can provide. We never find out why such a feared bad ass is suddenly so caring, and what we witness isn't enough to go on to supply our own convincing answer.

Then there is the complete lack of chemistry between the principals; Edward Furlong's rather bland, disaffected character hardly seems compelling enough to risk Defoe's rep or life over. We're hammered thematically with the message that caring means vulnerability, but even teen love stories can tell us that. What's more critical to this context, yet never addressed, is: why bother?

Then there's the real crime. At this moment in U.S. history our prisons are run by private companies who profit blithely from the violence boiling within; outside these pens, the drug war consumes billions of dollars in a fruitless quest.

Although it is his premise, Buscemi has nothing to say about this; nothing. In fact, he has less than nothing to say, since his film's impossible sentimentality mocks the reality of the real-life Furlongs thrown daily to real-life wolves.

Yes, it's all beautifully art directed, the cell blocks washed out in harsh institutional light. Mickey Rourke's minor role as a drag queen is weirdly moving, and Tom Arnold's brief appearance as a sexual psychopath has some punch. The soundtrack by John Lurie is edgy and interesting. Just don't come looking for any narrative sense, believable motivation, or much social awareness. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition digital transfer
Lossless original 2.0 stereo audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Interview with critic Barry Forshaw covering Eddie Bunker's varied career
Audio Commentary by novelist/co-writer/actor Eddie Bunker and co-producer/actor Danny Trejo
Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips

'Animal Factory: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] will be made available to purchase on November 28th, 2017.

'Animal Factory: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Animal Factory' - Trailer

Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth: Spec. Edition
(David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, William Katt, John Billingsley, Richard Riehle, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / (2007) 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: An impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he has a longer and stranger past than they can imagine.

Blu-ray Verdict: Ok, let's get this straight from the start, because I honestly think it needs to be said: Those people hoping for an intellectually challenging movie, chock full of believable and good science fiction, or wishing to view even a mildly enjoyable movie should not watch 'The Man from Earth' ... sorry!

The central concept surrounding the main character does not succeed in becoming more than a gimmick. The writer mistakenly presumed this feature could stand by itself. It fails to spark a sense of mystery, which is aggravated by becoming apparent to even a mildly genre savvy viewer within two minutes.

The obviousness of the concept makes the constant incredulous reactions of the other characters very annoying. Some others within my journalistic circle that have also watched this film, have all pointed out the strength of the concept is its ambiguity; but when one sees the amount of effort made by the writer to uneasily force this uncertainty unto the story, this argument can be quickly discarded.

The characters portrayed are caricatures, which is an insurmountable obstacle in a movie in which eight persons are constantly in one room. From the rock and roll professor to the prudish zealot, not one character is realistic enough to be identified with.

This is made worse by college professors discussing like 18-year-olds, with a failed attempt to use one student (behaving like a 14-year-old) as a foil. Very annoying is the lack of research. Lastly, the lackluster acting of the cast (of which some have shown that they can do better) is painful to watch; a pain which is only surpassed by the ridiculous choice and timing of the music. Together, these failures remove every possibility to take this movie seriously, rendering it nothing more than a (bad) effort; sorry, again.

In closing, 'The Man From Earth' is a very stereotypical movie where the central thrust is that Christ was merely a man whose story has been deified and lost in translation; thus becoming now, more or less, a fairy tale.

That all said, I have to give massive props to the guys who after 10 years made this new Blu-ray Special Edition so much more cleaner to view. In the Special Feature (just one of many) entitled "Before / After comparison of the brand new HD digital restoration of the feature film", we see just how they did it, what worked better than others re: scenes, and then a split screen shows us the complete, and total clarity of difference between the two editions. Incredible to see what they can do to old films these days. Truly. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation (1.78:1) of the main feature
Original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and Dolby Digital 5.1
Brand new feature-length retrospective documentary The Man From Earth: Legacy (HD, 88 mins) chronicling the history and the phenomenon of the film with all-new interviews with the director, producers and the cast
Audio Commentary with Producer / Director Richard Schenkman and Actor John Billingsley
Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Emerson Bixby and Author / Sci-Fi Scholar Gary Westfahl
From Script To Screen (2007 featurette) [2:15, SD]
Star Trek: Jerome Bixby's Sci-Fi Legacy (2007 featurette) [3:28, SD]
On The Set (2007 featurette) [4:00, SD]
The Story of the Story (2007 featurette) [2:13, SD]
The mini-short film Contagion (2016) [:30, HD] from the producer Eric D. Wilkinson and director of The Man From Earth, Richard Schenkman and starring William Katt
Before / After comparison of the brand new HD digital restoration of the feature film
Photo Gallery
Original Theatrical Trailer [SD]
The Man From Earth: Holocene Teaser Trailer [HD]
English, Spanish, French, German and Arabic Subtitles

'Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] will be made available to purchase on November 21st, 2017.

'Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth: Special Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth' - Theatrical Trailer

'Pulp: Special Edition'
(Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney, Lionel Stander, Lizabeth Scott, Al Lettieri, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1972) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: A seedy writer of sleazy pulp novels is recruited by a quirky, reclusive ex-actor to help him write his biography at his house in Malta.

Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, 'Pulp' is a diverting, interesting film in the careers of actor Michael Caine and director Mike Hodges that deserves another look.

It's an offbeat, somewhat sedate, and quite witty send-up of detective fiction, done in style and filmed on location in Malta. Caine plays Mickey King, an author who's approached to ghost write a biography of retired actor Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney), an American expatriate.

King finds a web of intrigue surrounding him, with one striking encounter after another, as he determines to find out what sort of mess he's gotten himself into. The movie comes up with a fine and funny beginning, as we see a team of typists at work while King's narration is heard in voice over.

In fact, it is the narration of King that is one of the brightest elements, as he makes commentary on his various situations in florid style. The role is one of Caine's better ones, and fellow screen legend Rooney is equally fun to watch, in his typical flamboyant manner.

Hodges's sharp screenplay allows for a fair amount of unpredictability, and the audience will delight not only in the kooky charm of the movie, but in not knowing what to expect. Slick cinematography and excellent use of locations are a heavy asset, as well as a great supporting cast also including Lionel Stander as Gilbert's associate Ben Dinuccio, Lizabeth Scott as Betty Cippola, Nadia Cassini as Liz, Dennis Price as the enigmatic English stranger, Al Lettieri as the talkative Miller, Robert Sacchi as Jim Norman, and Leopoldo Trieste as Marcovic, with Luciano Pigozzi and Janet Agren in small parts. What with Sacchi resembling Bogart and Pigozzi resembling Peter Lorre, their appearances are welcome and entirely appropriate.

In truth, 'Pulp' is delightfully breezy and enjoyable right up until its rather ingenious closing credits which leave us laughing. Well, it did me and those with me last night so I hope it does to you and yours upon watching it. True it does have its darker moments along the way, but it never loses its appeal, and as with all Michael Caine films, it's rewatchable. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, supervised and approved by director of photography Ousama Rawi, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 1.0 mono sound
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand-new interview with writer-director Mike Hodges
Brand-new interview with director of photography Ousama Rawi
Brand-new interview with assistant director John Glen
Brand-new interview with Tony Klinger, son of producer Michael Klinger
Original theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet containing new writing by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

'Pulp: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] will be made available to purchase on December 12th, 2017.

'Pulp: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Pulp' - Promo Trailer

'Despicable Me 3: Special Edition - 4K Ultra HD'
(Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / PG / 2017 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

4K Ultra Blu-ray Overview: Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.

DVD Verdict: Before we begin the review, let's start by acknowledging the INCREDIBLE, brighter, deeper, more lifelike color that these 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays bring forth, each and every time.

For they are, well, INCREDIBLE and truly allow you to see things that the generic Blu-ray vision simply cannot. I mean, the color alone on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc (1 BD-50, 1 BD-66) is just so crisp, so clear, so crystal.

For those that wish to be in the know, let's break down some of the geeky stats, shall we. This is a Codec: HEVC / H.265, with a Resolution: 4K (2160p), HDR10, Layers @ BD-66, and an overall Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1. The Audio is English: DTS:X, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: DTS Headphone:X, Spanish: DTS-HD HR 7.1, and French (Canada): DTS 5.1.

Finally, and leaving the best for last, this 4K Ultra HD movie experience means that we have a 4X sharper picture image than regular HD, HDR (High Dynamic Range) means we get brilliant brights and deepest darks within the film, and with Immersive Audio, we get that multi-dimensional sound experience throughout.

OK, on to the actual movie review and, yes, much like its predecessors, this third adventure is chock full of incredibly fun moments. True, that as far as disposable sequels to kids films go, 'Despicable Me 3' is pretty much on par with 'Cars 3' (2017), in my humble opinion. And sure, it's not a particularly memorable film, nor can it really hold its own against something like 'The LEGO Batman Movie' (2017), but at least it's not unpleasant or derivative.

In-fact, in may ways 'Despicable Me 3' is better than the original in that it improves its look-and-feel and provides a decent foil for once in the form of Trey Parker's Balthazar Bratt. Of course, it's to the detriment of neutering the refreshing mean-spirited-ness of the original, but hey, at least you still got those Minions, am I right?

'Despicable Me 3' catches Gru (Carell) and newly minted wife Lucy (Wiig) trying and failing to secure the world's largest diamond from the hands of Bratt our flamboyant 80's themed villain. Fired by the new head of the Anti-Villain League (Slate), Gru and Lucy discover he has a twin brother named Dru (also Carell) whom their parents separated at birth.

With nothing on their plate, Gru, Lucy and the girls (Cosgrove, Gaier and Scharrel), travel to the Mediterranean coasts of Freedonia to meet Dru.

When the family lands in Freedonia, the movie descends into a series of fun but thematically incongruous vignettes. Gru bonds with his brother over Dru's desire to become a villain. Lucy fails, succeeds and fails again to become a mother figure to the three girls. Agnes, the youngest of the three tries to capture a unicorn. Balthazar Bratt sees his plans for world domination come to near-fruition and the Minions ... well let's just say they have their own thing going as well.

About half of all this busy, busy, business works at least as far as furthering the plot. The fact that none of the film's insanity really coalesces into a compelling whole, only makes the film feel more like a mediocre sitcom episode than an actual movie.

Yet as far as inspired moments of slapstick, Despicable Me 3 supplies a little bit more than is to be expected. One highlight involves Gru and Dru driving around the Freedonian countryside in a golden-plated mean machine while police follow while riding literal pigs.

Parents will find these comedic bits more amusing than funny but the kids, the kids will be rolling up and down the aisles.

And isn't that what this movie is ultimately about? To provide entertainment to children? While I don't necessarily condone families watching kid's films for their own sake (and this one in particular is all over the map as far as messaging), there's not really all that much to object about here.

In closing, 'Despicable Me 3' is, at its core, a thoughtless but entertaining jumble of sights, sounds and goofiness. Thankfully unlike your racist aunt, Illumination Entertainment has not used the Minions for nefarious purposes ... at least not yet!

And, once again, watching it all on this 4K Ultra HD it truly is amazing to see everything unfold in front of you. Even watching all the crystal clear Special Features is rather delightful in this manner.

Indeed, my favorite (and I think it will be yours also) is "The Making of Despicable Me 3", which is a brilliant, and eye-opening look at what goes on behind-the-scenes to make this animation all come together. Just watching both Carrell and Wiig standing behind podiums (well dressed, at that) reciting their character lines one after another is a pure delight to then rewatch the movie and know how it was all put together.

In an exclusive interview with Carrell, he reveals how he loves how the character of Gru has evolved and how he started off as this mean, despicable person who has since evolved into this family man and do-gooder - although, as Carrell wryly smirks, he still has these latent tendencies of evil!

Wiig also talks about how her character Lucy fell in love with Gru in the last film and subsequently married him, and here in the third chapter, she's comfortable being a house wife, and a mother, that's not really involved with the criminal world these days.

Until the merging of the step family coming together, and all the struggles that come with that (in real life also, of course), begins to show some cracks. Gru's twin brother Dru is visited in Freedonia, and so interesting things then start to pop up between them. Which all lead to diving, head first, back into crime ... fighting it for the good though, this time (to a point, of course).

Also, the All-New Mini Movie 'The Secret Life of Kyle' is as wondrous to watch as anything you could have hoped to expect to find on this delightful Blu-ray. You can check out a short clip of it below:

'The Secret Life of Kyle' - Clip

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and with both this 4K Ultra HD and the standard Blu-ray edition featuring the same Special Features of:

All-New Mini Movie — 'The Secret Life of Kyle'
Minion Moments — Watch the Minions cause more hilarious mayhem with Gru
Deleted Scene — With intro by Dana Gaier, the voice of Edith
Character Profiles — The inside scoop on the most popular characters, from the actors who play them
The Making of Despicable Me 3 — A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie
Developing Dru — Behind the scenes character development of Dru
The AVL Files — Through the lens of the Anti-Villain League’s hi-tech database, this ultra secret, interactive surveillance briefing showcases all of the agency’s amazing creations and top agents
Freedonia Visitors Guide — Welcome to Freedonia! See all that the town has to offer with this interactive map. From its world class cheese, to its beautiful coastline, Freedonia has it all!
Despicable Me TV — Tune in for some fabulous fun with these Despicable Me 3 infomercials. Includes “Balthazar Bratt Action Figure,” “Bad Boy Bod by Balthazar Bratt” and “Agnes’ Super Cute, Incredibly Amazing Toy Sale.”
“Doowit” Sing-Along — Sing along with Pharrell Williams as the Minions plot their escape from prison
“Yellow Light” Music Video — Official music video by Pharrell Williams
Minion Mugshots — The Minions add to the long list of celebrity mugshots in their very own “rogues gallery.”
Wanted Posters — Have you seen these Minions wanted for various crimes?

'Despicable Me 3: Special Edition - 4K Ultra HD' Purchase Link

'Despicable Me 3' Official Trailer

Official Website

Official Facebook Page

Official Twitter Account

Official Instagram Account

'American Made: 4K Ultra HD'
(Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright Olsen, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / NR / 2017 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

4K Ultra Blu-ray Overview: Tom Cruise reunites with his 'Edge of Tomorrow' director, Doug Liman, in an international escapade based on the outrageous, true exploits of a hustler and pilot recruited to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. history.

Blu-ray Verdict: Before we begin the review, let's start by acknowledging the INCREDIBLE, brighter, deeper, more lifelike color that these 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays bring forth, each and every time.

For they are, well, INCREDIBLE and truly allow you to see things that the generic Blu-ray vision simply cannot. I mean, the color alone on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc (1 BD-50, 1 BD-66) is just so crisp, so clear, so crystal.

For those that wish to be in the know, let's break down some of the geeky stats, shall we. This is a Codec: HEVC / H.265, with a Resolution: 4K (2160p), HDR10, Layers @ BD-66, and an overall Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1. The Audio is English: DTS:X, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: DTS Headphone:X, Spanish: DTS-HD HR 7.1, and French (Canada): DTS 5.1.

Finally, and leaving the best for last, this 4K Ultra HD movie experience means that we have a 4X sharper picture image than regular HD, HDR (High Dynamic Range) means we get brilliant brights and deepest darks within the film, and with Immersive Audio, we get that multi-dimensional sound experience throughout.

OK, on to the actual movie review and if 'American Made' proves one thing it's that truth is most definitely stranger than fiction! The story of American aircraft pilot Barry Seal who became a drug smuggler working for the Medellin cartel, casually rubbed shoulders with Pablo Escobar and ran a massive money laundering operation all while being employed by the CIA, would seem a stretch even by Hollywood's standards. Yet it's precisely the "based on true events" part of Seal's story that makes American Made such a fascinating film to watch.

We are first introduced to Seal as a disillusioned TWA pilot looking for something to put the thrill back in his life. When approached by the CIA to fly reconnaissance of communist factions in South America, he immediately jumps at the opportunity. Flying solo from the US on his own private two- engine plane, it's not long before Seal is intercepted by the Medellin cartel and offered large amounts of cash to smuggle drugs into the US. Ever the opportunist, Seal agrees and soon finds himself playing on both sides of the law and making more money than he knows what to do with. But as the demands from both sides grow increasingly untenable, Seal finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, with his luck quickly drying up.

Tom Cruise brings his manic charisma to the role of Seal, and he's a good fit for the high flying, larger than life character. It's hard not to look with contempt at a man who transported illegal narcotics into the US en masse, but Cruise does a good job in humanizing Seal and portraying him as more than just a criminal. At heart, Seal is a family man looking to provide for his wife and daughter but whose unrelenting pursuit of the American dream finds him working on both sides of the law.

The charisma Cruise brings to the role goes a long way in making Seal an endearing protagonist, and he seems to have fun in the role. Following the underwhelming performance of The Mummy earlier this year, American Made represents a return to form for him and a welcome return to the more grounded narratives in which he fares far better with.

Director Doug Liman ('Edge of Tomorrow', and the highly under-rated 'Fair Game') complements Cruise's commanding performance with his highly energized filming style. The camera is rarely steady for more than a beat and its constant zooming, shaking and moving around lends the film an effective faux doco feel.

On the flip side, however, the incessant camera movements are distracting during some of the quieter moments in the film. In one simple conversation scene in a diner, near the beginning of the film, the camera haphazardly changes angles and abruptly zooms in towards the characters as they speak. It's awkwardly staged and distracts from the dialogue. Luckily the film moves at such a fast clip that Liman's hyperactive filming works mostly well, but some restraint would have gone a long way during the smaller scenes.

Overall, 'American Made' is a fascinating biopic about a larger than life character. The film benefits greatly from Cruise's committed performance and Liman's lively direction to provide an entertaining take on an unbelievable true story.

And, once again, watching it all on this 4K Ultra HD it truly is amazing to see everything unfold in front of you. Even watching all the crystal clear Special Features is rather delightful in this manner.

Indeed, my favorite one of the bunch is 'Cruise & Liman: A Conversation', where the director and the star discuss all the things that went into the making of the movie; and all the things that they wanted to include, but didn't find time for.

Another stand out is the quite brilliant 'Flying High', where we see Cruise piloting the plane himself, whilst chatting to both the passenger and the camera alike. Beaming from ear to ear as he does so, Cruise is at totally ease with the heights and risk factors, and at all times, more importantly in control.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and with both this 4K Ultra HD and the standard Blu-ray edition featuring the same Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes
American Storytellers
Cruise & Liman: A Conversation
In The Wings
Shooting American Made
Flying High
The Real Barry Seal
Digital Copy of American Made

'American Made: 4K Ultra HD' Purchase Link

'American Made' Official HD Trailer

Official Facebook Page

Official Twitter Account

Official Instagram Account

'The Tragically Hip - Long Time Running'
(The Tragically Hip / Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / Eagle Vision Entertainment)

Overview: After screening in theaters across the country and airing on television, the Tragically Hip's 'Long Time Running' tour documentary and concert film of their final live home town performance is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, The Tragically Hip, often referred to simply as The Hip, are a Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario, currently consisting of guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker (known as Bobby Baker until 1994), bassist Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay.

They have released 13 studio albums, two live albums, one EP, and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. They have received numerous Canadian music awards, including 16 Juno Awards.

Following lead singer Gord Downie's diagnosis with terminal brain cancer in 2015, the band undertook a tour of Canada in support of their thirteenth album Man Machine Poem.

The band themselves did not declare it as their farewell tour at the time, stating only that future recording and performing activity would depend on Downie's health.

The Man Machine Poem Tour's final concert, held at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston on August 20th, 2016, was broadcast globally by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a cross-platform television, radio and internet streaming special, and is exactly what we see today here on this just-released new Blu-ray from Eagle Vision.

Sadly, Downie died on October 17th, 2017, but chock full of rare backstage footage, personal interviews and poignant moments from fans from Heriot Bay to Gros Marne, 'The Tragically Hip - Long Time Running' is one of the finest works of visual testimony to a band that, above most all bands of their ilk, truly deserved to have one.

On 'The Tragically Hip - Long Time Running' (the title taken from a song from the band's 1991 album, Road Apples), the band's August 20th performance from Kingston is a concert film for the ages.

Containing all 30 songs from the evening's set list, mixed for Dolby 5.1 sound and fully complete and true to how it was performed; with no post-production overdubs, drop-ins, or 'corrections' to the artists' in-the-moment expressions, if you're a fan or a passerby to their music, sitting down to watch this final ever show inclusive of Downie will have you in awe.

Indeed, 'Long Time Running' gives a unique and exclusive perspective into the challenges and triumphs of that 2016 summer: from diagnosis and the build up to Victoria B.C. to candid behind-the-scenes moments on the road, to electrifying performances of beloved songs and the epic final show in their home town.

In closing, for more than thirty years, The Tragically Hip have occupied a singular place in the Canadian musical zeitgeist, with a strong emotional connection for their fans which remains unrivaled and immutable.

Possessing the enviable status of a band that enjoys mass popularity, with over eight million albums sold worldwide, they also command the admiration of their peers and merit the industry recognition bestowed upon them through numerous accolades, including 16 Juno awards.

This Blu-ray may only be the end of the band, as is, but it's the start (hopefully) of a new era for the remaining guys, for The Tragically Hip is just too good an entity to fold now.

FYI - Additionally, a Deluxe Box-Set houses 'Long Time Running' and 'A National Celebration' on both DVD and Blu-ray, along with a 24-page booklet, collectors pin, replica VIP laminate, tour program and posters.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:

Musicianship Featurette
Original Theatrical Trailer

'The Tragically Hip - Long Time Running' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Fargo - Season 3'
(Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Michael Stuhlbarg, et al / 4-Disc DVD / R / 2017 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Set in 2010, chapter three centers on Emmit, the "Parking Lot King of Minnesota," and his younger brother Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor), a pot-bellied parole officer with a huge chip on his shoulder about the hand he's been dealt...and he blames his brother. Their sibling rivalry follows a twisted path that begins with petty theft, but soon leads to murder, mobsters and cut-throat competitive bridge.

DVD Verdict: In truth, 'Fargo' (the TV series) is continual, and masterful storytelling, always brilliantly executed, and a pure joy to binge watch, each and every season.

Never steering too far away from their 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' theory, all three seasons of 'Fargo' have relatively the same story structure: we get to witness four parties, a unconventional loser (or loser couple) who got involved in some dangerous run in with some gangsters, but who somehow unleash their true potential in the meantime; a traditional group/gangsters that are very successful and unchallenged at running their business at a local scale; a merciless invasion force who represent the future ways of doing business; and finally, that one police officer who just won't give up, fighting all forces to uncover the true story beneath the mountainous onslaught of violence.

Here in Season 3, the good (woman) cop in the small town is called Gloria Burgle (acted by Carrie Coon, in a manner consistent with the previous similar characters in the series). She has a teenage son and is divorcing her husband who left her for a man.

When her step-father is assassinated, one of the murders taking place in the area becomes personal to her. The bad guys are divided on different levels of evil here also: We have the local businessmen with their local conflicts and misdemeanors and we have the corrupt parole officer who falls in love with one of his parolees (acted by the beautiful, and amazing-here actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead - and whom now McGregor has actually left his wife for and moved in with in real life!).

Atop the top of the scale of evil we have the agent of the mob trying to launder many millions of dollars while taking over local businesses. The performance of David Thewlis in this role is simply fantastic. His faces within this role, his mannerisms undertaken for the character is one that you'll not forget in a hurry, trust me.

The quartet of exquisite acting performances is completed by Ewan McGregor, who takes on the roles of BOTH brothers. Both completely different to one another in all ways possible, without this knowledge it might have taken you until the third or fourth episode to discover this fact out for yourselves. Believe me when I say that McGregor's acting is just that damn good.

I guess a lot has been said online already about the action, how it is constructed, how much role the coincidences play, whether there are big plot holes in the story, continuity problems and/or gaffes, or whether some of the shorter (the East Berlin opening, the Holocaust survivor intrusion) or longer (the full episode about the comics SF writer grandpa) side stories add value or distract from your attention.

But, in my humble opinion, most of the material that has since been criticized was intentionally made, thus appearing on screen to add depth to each scene. Have really the stories described in the season happened in reality, as claimed at the beginning of each episode? I doubt it. I mean, true, they are not that credible in their details, but they are true to the world of the Coens.

In closing, life is complicated, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, many times scary, and we do not understand all that happens around us for most of it. So is this immense cinematic 'Fargo' universe created on screen by the Coen Brothers. Just sit back, hit Play and enjoy all ten episodes over a weekend and you'll soon be begging for their fourth season to come a-knockin'!

The series also stars Emmy nominated actress Mary McDonnell (The Closer, Major Crimes) as wealthy widow Ruby Goldfarb; Russell Harvard (Fringe, CSI:NY) reprises his role as deaf assassin Mr. Wrench; Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) as Gloria's boss, Chief Moe Dammik; Olivia Sandoval (Medium) as Winnie Lopez who assists Gloria Burgle in her investigation; Hamish Linklater (Larue Dollard) as an IRS agent investigating Stussy Lots; Andy Yu (Hell on Wheels) and Goran Bogdan (The Last Panthers) as Vargas's henchman Meemo and Yuri, respectively. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

"First Look" Featurette
"Ray and Nikki" Featurette
"Emmit Stussy and Sy Feltz" Featurette
"One Actor, Two Characters" Featurette
"Gloria Burgle" Featurette
"Varga" Featurette
"Anatomy of a Scene" Featurette
"The Digital Age" Featurette
"Connectivity and References" Featurette
"Locations" Featurette
"Noah Hawley" Featurette

'Craft in America: Borders & Neighbors'
(DVD / PG / 2017 / PBS)

Overview: CRAFT IN AMERICA, the Peabody Award-winning documentary series, is an inspirational journey to the artists, objects, techniques, and origins of American craft. 'BORDERS & NEIGHBORS' explores the relationships and influences that Mexican and American craft artists have on each other and our culture.

DVD Verdict: Up next in this highly respected 'Craft In America' series is 'BORDERS & NEIGHBORS'. Firstly, BORDERS explores the relationships and influences that Mexican and American craft artists have on each other and our cultures, artists and events featured in this engrossing new documentary include: Ofelia Esparza, master altar-maker who teaches the meaning and history of the Day of the Dead celebration; master weaver Isaac Vàsquez of Teotitlàn del Valle, Mexico; and American weaver Jim Bassler and potter Veralee Bassler.

Also getting their time to not only shine, but bring forth fascinating reveals about their own culture are the colorful Guelaguetza parade in Los Angeles; and finally a Chicago artist named Kiff Slemmons, who works with maestro Francisco Toledo at the Art Paper Workshop in Mexico.

Then comes NEIGHBORS, which explores the people, history, and traditions of crafts from the U.S. and Mexico, noting how aesthetics cross over and back again in a living and ongoing cultural exchange.

Featuring artists include glass artist Jaime Guerrero; Mexican ceramic artists Magdalena Pedro Martínez and Carlomagno Pedro Martínez; world-renowned painter, muralist, community arts pioneer, and scholar Judy Baca; California ceramic artist Gerardo Monterrubio.

Also showcasing silver designers William Spratling, Carmen Tapia, Miguel Angel Ortíz Miranda, Cristina Romo, and Eduardo Herrera, this particular episode within this fascinating documentary confirms that art is a pathway for creativity and connections without borders.

Oh, and if you were not aware, 'Craft in America' is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration, preservation and celebration of craft and its impact on our nation’s cultural heritage. This DVD features subtitles in English (SDH). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Leatherface' [2017]
(Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Sam Coleman, Sam Strike, Vanessa Grasse, et al / Blu-ray + Digital HD / R / 2017 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: In Texas, years before the events of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', in the early days of the infamous Sawyer family, the youngest child is sentenced to a mental hospital after a suspicious incident leaves the sheriff's daughter dead.

Ten years later, he kidnaps a young nurse and escapes with three other inmates. Pursued by authorities, including the deranged sheriff out to avenge his daughter's death, the Sawyer teen goes on a violent road trip from hell, molding him into the monster now known as Leatherface.

Blu-ray Verdict: The problem with many horror movie franchises is that due to lack of new ideas brought by their authors (who tend to solely exploit the trademarks and fundamentals of the original work instead of contributing something of their own) sequels/prequels lack originality, are too derivative, formulaic and overall sub par. None of these applies to the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel entitled 'Leatherface'.

'Leatherface', directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury ('À l'intérieur') is an example of a very well done prequel. To a certain extent reminiscent of the original work of Tobe Hooper, containing multiple references thereto as well (like the grandfather slamming a victim with a hammer and killing him with a single hit, as the granddaddy is in his prime here), but nevertheless original, self-reliant and solid piece of work.

The biggest achievement of the directors is a successful mixture of genres: a horror movie, a rural shotgun crime film and a mystery. An "asylum horror movie" could also be added to these as a sub-genre, however I have intentionally omitted it as the scenes taking place in the asylum were my least favorite (somewhat derivative, similar to Rob Zombie's 'Halloween' prequel and other asylum horrors). A few words about the cast: they were all pretty damn good! The characters felt real, there was no overacting (or just plain bad acting) that we often see in horror films. Lili Taylor, Jessica Madsen and Sam Strike did a great job, truly, believe it or not.

Visual and special effects are topnotch too. The movie is ultra violent which is just the way a full-fledged 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' film should be. Indeed, the ability to create amazing violent scenes on screen was demonstrated by Bustillo and Maury in their prior work (primarily, in 'À l'intérieur').

The imagery (rural landscape, Sawyers' house, killing weapons, etc) is spot on and consistent with the original 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' also.

The only way in which 'Leatherface' is not fully consistent with its predecessor is that the latter is a dark comedy, while the prequel somewhat lacks the comic and the whole "Grand Guignol" elements of the original. This is only a minor issue though and does not affect the quality of the film in any way, especially if we consider that the film is already a mixture of various genres (as described above).

In a nutshell, 'Leatherface' is one of the best installments in the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' franchise and is a great horror movie on its own terms. Definitely recommended to all horror fans. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs comes with the Special Features of:

Behind the Mask: Making Leatherface
6 Deleted Scenes

'England Is Mine' [Blu-ray]
(Jack Lowden, Jessica Brown Findlay, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / Cleopatra Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: Steven, better known to most as Morrissey, front man of iconic band The Smiths, is a restless young man struggling to escape his working class roots. He dreams of being in a band, writing music and flying clear of the daily grind. Suddenly a chance encounter with guitarist Billy leads to a first gig. Can Steven find his own path and find an England of his own?

Blu-ray Verdict: 'England Is Mine' is a story primarily focused on Morrissey towards the end of the '70s and the struggles he had trying to get his first foot on the ladder as a performer; while at the same time being paralyzed with fear of being on stage and dealing with his everyday struggles.

In truth, the legend comes across as a hyper sensitive and shy person, but with an underlying streak of arrogance in his own belief in his abilities; despite his lack of confidence in social situations. However, the acerbic one liners you would expect from Morrissey are there and when they arrive they are genuine laugh out loud funny.

That said, if Smiths fans are hoping to see a film which has a lot of Smiths music in it they will be disappointed. Indeed, 'England Is Mine' is similar in tone to the James Brown biopic where there's none of the music you may have anticipated being part of the story. Sure, this may well be a problem for some fans, but once you allow yourself to become immersed in Morrissey's early years, you'll let that slip, trust me.

What we do hear though, aside from pop music from the charts from that time (which is just there to set the scene; and works well enough with that regard, is only the one song actually performed by the man himself. A version of the Shangri-la’s hit “Give Him A Great Big Kiss” from 1965, it's still a nice treat to behold.

The cast do a great job here throughout, however, and without dropping any spoilers, the film ended almost at the point it was about to get even more interesting!

And though I doubt there will be any sequel, 'England Is Mine' is an interesting character study of one the UK's greatest ever front men from one of the best bands the country has ever produced. That said, I'm not overly sure that this film is something either, he or his fans, will take to their heart.

In truth, I feel like there's a better film on this subject yet to be made. Interesting, as a psychological study, sure, most definitely, but fans may feel shortchanged. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Sad Facts Widely Known - Featurette
Smoke & Mirrors - Featurette
Director & Actor Commentary

'England Is Mine' [Blu-ray] is now available for purchase.

'England Is Mine' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

Frank Zappa - Summer '82 When Zappa Came To Sicily
(Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa, Moon Zappa, Diva Zappa, Massimo Bassoli, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: In the feature documentary, 'Summer '82 - When Zappa Came to Sicily', filmmaker and Zappa fan Salvo Cuccia tells the behind-the-scenes story of Frank Zappa's star-crossed concert in Palermo, Sicily, the wrap-up to a European tour that ended in public disturbances and police intervention.

Blu-ray Verdict: Ever since the first time I listened to Zappa's Roxy and Elsewhere album, I have been waiting for the movie. Well it's here, finally, on Blu-ray, and it was well worth the wait.

There is a great explanation included of what took so long (to get it just to DVD back in 2013) by both Gail Zappa and John Albarian, the mad engineer who took what had been a total disaster in the filming/recording of the three nights over which this was filmed. Of how using technology only recently available to them at the time, turned it into a pure masterpiece; and to which now has been lovingly created as a crystal clear Blu-ray visual.

But back then, trying any sooner could have meant the ruin of the film and soundtrack. The Zappa Family Trust owes him a true debt of gratitude, as do all FZ fans everywhere.

Moving on and this film demonstrates just how masterful his musicians had to be. The music is very complex and full of key, time signature and tempo changes and they play it all by heart. As he would later do with a percussion piece called, "The Black Page",(Terri Bozio), he takes the music to "Cheepnis" and has the percussion section (including himself) play the most amazing piece, incredibly complex, incredibly challenging; and to watch them do this on stage is just flabbergasting.

filmmaker and Zappa fan Salvo Cuccia narrates his way through the documentary portions, and it's amazing to now know that he himself had a ticket to the concert, but never made it!

And so, some thirty years later, collaborating with Zappa's children, he re-creates the events through a combination of rare concert and backstage footage; photographs; anecdotes from family, band members, and concertgoers; and insights from Zappa biographer and friend Massimo Bassoli.

Back to the actual show, and it's filled with Frank's spontaneous interactions with the audience, as well as audience participation onstage. Having only heard "Big Swifty" performed by Frank's Grand Wazoo band, hearing this band pull it off is, again, just pure joy.

Other instrumentals, such as "T'Mershi Duween," "The Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat," "Enchidna's Arf (of You)", "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" and "Be-Bop Tango of the Old Jazzmans's Church," just left me breathless.

The songs requiring vocals, like, "I'm The Slime," "Cheepnis," "Penguin in Bondage" and "Inca Roads" display the voluminous talents of keyboardist, George Duke, and Saxophonist, Flutist, not to mention FZ himself. Much of the band does harmony vocals and strange sounds as cued by FZ, as I'm sure you, as fans, are all well aware anyway.

But there's more, because the documentary also looks at the rise and heyday of Zappa's career as an innovative composer and libertarian provocateur, and includes such tales as how Moon Unit and her busy father came to collaborate on their hit song "Valley Girl." All joyous to behold, fan or not, trust me. This is a Full Screen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Frank Zappa - Summer '82 When Zappa Came To Sicily' [Blu-ray] is now available for purchase.

Frank Zappa - Summer '82 When Zappa Came To Sicily' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'The Apartment: Special Edition'
(Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1960) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: C.C. 'Bud' Baxter (Lemmon) is a lowly Manhattan office drone with a lucrative sideline in renting out his apartment to adulterous company bosses and their mistresses.

When Bud enters into a similar arrangement the firm's personnel director, J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray, Double Indemnity), his career prospects begin to look up ... and up.

But when he discovers that Sheldrake's mistress is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine, Irma la Douce), the girl of his dreams, he finds himself forced to choose between his career and the woman he loves.

Blu-ray Verdict: Billy Wilder's 'The Apartment' was one of a huge list of movies that are considered classics which I haven't seen, and indeed knew very little about (other than the level of admiration which many people have for it). Having a vague knowledge of the stars of the film (Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine), for one reason or another I was expecting a light-hearted comedy filled with innuendo and witty banter, a tradition of filmmaking that was common around the period when this film was released.

Thankfully I wasn't disappointed, as these elements are all in play in The Apartment, but what really thrilled and surprised me was the much more serious subject matter that the film deals with. To say this is simply a comedy is completely false, as it's a somewhat dark and daring study of the nature of love and infidelity, and the stunning performances and filmmaking on display had me enthralled from the first frame.

The film, now released here as a wonderful Special Edition Blu-ray, certainly begins as a broad comedy. C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) is a young bachelor trying to ascend the corporate ladder by allowing a group of his superiors to use his apartment for their extra-marital liaisons. After he falls for charismatic elevator attendant Fran (MacLaine), who is engaged in an illicit relationship with Mr. Sheldrake, the married head of the company, Baxter tries to free himself from the demands of his bosses, with hilarious results.

While this is certainly risqué subject matter (for 1960), the film takes an unexpectedly sombre turn when Fran makes a suicide attempt in the apartment after learning the truth behind Sheldrake's motives. What follows is a touching, and at times heart-wrenching flowering of Baxter and Fran's relationship, and if the ending is a little predictable, the journey getting there is really something wonderful.

'The Apartment' features an excellent selection of fully-formed support characters, but the film really belongs to Lemmon and MacLaine. Lemmon's reputation as cinema's greatest everyman is really on show here, and it's impossible not to root for him and sympathize with his plight. Playing Baxter as a charming yet awkward underdog, his character is the embodiment of the 'nice guys finish last' maxim, and although some elements of his life may be a little shady to say the least, Lemmon is flawless.

MacLaine is completely up to Lemmon's high standard as Fran, effortlessly making audiences fall in love with her just as Baxter has. She's just so damn cute that even when she's recovering from an overdose of sleeping pills, she exudes such a potent 'girl next door' allure that can't be avoided. Her chemistry with Lemmon is palpable, and when they inevitably end up together, it's one of those truly satisfying romantic moments seen all too rarely in modern cinema.

I'm not usually one to get nostalgic when it comes to film periods, but while I do have great fondness for many more recent romantic comedies, Hollywood really doesn't make movies like 'The Apartment' any more. Wilder's screenplay (co-written with I.A.L. Diamond) is clever, witty and engaging, particularly in the subtle motifs and unique idiosyncrasies of all the characters, and the film is just so expertly crafted.

I'm determined now to seek out more Wilder films, along with catching up on my Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. So, as you can clearly tell, I can't recommend 'The Apartment' highly enough!

In closing, and winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, 'The Apartment' features a wealth of Hollywood's finest talent on both sides of the camera at the top of their game. By turns cynical, heart-warming and hilarious, Wilder's masterpiece now shines like never before in this all-new, 4K-restored edition from Arrow Films. This is a Full Screen presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Limited Deluxe Edition Blu-ray [3000 copies]
Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
Optional 5.1 remix in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio
Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary with film producer and historian Bruce Block
New appreciation of the film and select scene commentary by film historian Philip Kemp
The Flawed Couple, a new video essay by filmmaker David Cairns on the collaborations between Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon
Billy Wilder ABC, an overview by David Cairns on the life and career of the filmmaker, covering his films, collaborators and more
New interview with actress Hope Holiday
Inside the Apartment, a half-hour making-of featurette from 2007 including interviews with Shirley MacLaine, executive producer Walter Mirisch, and others
Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon, an archive profile of the actor from 2007
Original screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond (BD-ROM content)
Theatrical Trailer
Special Collector's packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick
Collector's 150-page hardcover book featuring new writing by Neil Sinyard, Kat Ellinger, Travis Crawford and Heather Hyche, generously illustrated with rare stills and behind-the-scenes imagery

'The Apartment: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is now available for purchase.

'The Apartment: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'The Bad Kids' [DVD]
(DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is one of California's alternative schools for students at risk of dropping out. Every student here has fallen so far behind in credits that they have no hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school. Black Rock is their last chance.

DVD Verdict: At it's core, 'The Bad Kids' is an observational documentary that chronicles one extraordinary principal's mission to realize the potential of these students whom the system has designated as lost causes.

Employing a verité approach during a year at the school, this Sundance award-winning film follows Principal Vonda Viland as she coaches three at-risk teens -- a new father who cannot support his family, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse and an angry young man from an unstable home -- through the traumas and obstacles that rob them of their spirit and threaten their goal of a high school diploma.

As we watch along at how these kids have been treated, and as how the most simplistic acts of kindness, of allowing them some time alone, to find their open space brings smiles to their collective faces, it's easy to assert that there are no bad kids in the world -- only bad parents.

Vonda Viland is the Principal of Black Rock. She stands outside each and every morning, greeting students as they exit the bus to begin school. In addition, teachers and counselors are highlighted, as well as a particularly moving moment in a staff meeting.

Portions of this documentary will make you sad, really sad, but keep watching throughout the hour and 40 minutes, as toward the end you see the sea of change roll over some of these kids that, at the start, you yourselves had no emotional viewing attachment to, trust me. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'National Bird'
(DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: The U.S. drone program is examined by Director Sonia Kennebeck, both through the harrowing experiences of those who live in foreign areas where drone surveillance and attacks take place, as well as through interviews with U.S. servicemen and servicewomen who actually control and monitor the drones.

DVD Verdict: The really eye-opening, and thoroughly intriguing 'National Bird' follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial current affairs issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war.

At the center of the film are three U.S. military veterans. Plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries, they decide to speak out publicly, despite the possible consequences. This documentary is shaped entirely from and by their candor and their refreshing honesty.

Their stories take dramatic turns, leading one of the protagonists to Afghanistan where she learns about a horrendous incident. But her journey also gives hope for peace and redemption.

Watching, you will be shocked to know that such things that are revealed are really, and still happening. Of course, we have sympathy for the innocent victims, but this new documentary is really an eye opener for all of us living in the US (let alone those in Europe, of course).

However, it is good to know that there are brave citizens who risk their families and lives coming out and telling the world their stories. This will encourage more people to come out and protest on the unnecessary killings.

Ergo, 'National Bird' gives rare insight into the U.S. drone program through the eyes of veterans and survivors, connecting their stories as never seen before in a documentary. Its images haunt the audience and bring a faraway issue close to home. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Magnus' [DVD]
(Magnus Calrsen / DVD / NR / 2017 / Film Rise)

Overview: Norwegian documentary filmmaker Benjamin Ree presents a captivating story of Magnus Calrsen, who was once bullied as an introverted 13-year-old boy, yet grew up to become a World Chess Champion. The use of home movies and archival footage records a unique coming-of-age story, revealing a remarkable boy's determination to achieve success.

DVD Verdict: This documentary, which was actually, and amazingly, shot over a decade; from 2004-2014, is quite like no other on the subject matter that I've ever seen.

The title character here is Magnus Carlsen, a man in his mid-20s who is, despite his tender age, the currently reigning chess World Champion, but this actually could not be true for much longer as, right now, he is in a tough battle to keep his crown with an equally young contender from Russia.

However, the heart of the story is not his incredible genius, but the love of his family and how his potential and ability were recognized and nurtured by his parents and sisters. For that reason alone, it is a wonderfully told story of a little boy's journey to develop his talents and achieve greatness at an early age and become a role model for other children.

In truth, people with no interest in chess will not get interested through this film and experts will find it a bit boring, as perhaps they know all the stuff on display here anyway.

That said, the documentary is at its best when it just shows Carlsen's competitive side. As in when we see him as a professional "athlete" during his road trip to the World Championship. But, and admittedly, the weaker aspects are also far from bad enough to make this an underwhelming film overall.

It definitely makes for a good watch though, just not for a great one, in my humble, non-chess playing opinion. However, if you're a chess fan, you'll find this documentary on the chess life of the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen interesting and highly entertaining. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'L.A.M.F.: Live At Bowery Electric' [DVD]
(Walter Lure, Clem Burke, Tommy Stinson, Wayne Kramer / DVD / NR / 2017 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers' classic 1977 'L.A.M.F.' album performed by members of Blondie, MC5 & Replacements.

DVD Verdict: Last year, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers‘ classic (and only) LP, 1977’s L.A.M.F., was performed in full with impressive guests, including Heartbreakers member Walter Lure and Clem Burke of Blondie.

The album turns 40 this year and this superbly raw (in tone) live DVD follows on from the remastered, 40th anniversary edition of 'L.A.M.F.' and the reissue of an extended 4CD box set (and triple-vinyl) of the albums many mixes and demos.

1. "Born To Lose"
2. "Baby Talk"
3. "All By Myself"
4. "I Wanna Be Loved"
5. "It's Not Enough"
6. "Chinese Rocks"
7. "Get Off The Phone"
8. "I Love You"
9. "Goin' Steady"
10. "Let Go"
11. "Can't Keep My Eyes On You"
12. "Do You Love Me"

Captured live at the Bowery Electric in 2016, the 12-song set is fast-paced, blistering, and chock full of that youthful punk verve that the bands had at that time. Inclusive of guests such as Dead Boys' Cheetah Chrome, 'L.A.M.F.: Live At Bowery Electric' is a must-have live performance work of art from all concerned for your music collections.

The DVD includes bonus interviews with all four band-members, plus guest Jesse Malin (D-Generation).

It should also be known that both Walter and Clem subsequently took part in performances of the album, once again, to celebrate its anniversary. The band’s line-up for those extra three performances would include Social Distortion front man Mike Ness and legendary Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock; plus some surprise guests, of course. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Camelot' [DVD]
(Richard Harris, Meg Bussert, Richard Muenz / DVD / NR / (1981) 2017 / S'More Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Camelot' is the story of the marriage of England's King Arthur to Guinevere. The plot of illegitimate Mordred to gain the throne and Guinevere's growing attachment to Sir Lancelot, threaten to topple Arthur and destroy his "round table" of knights.

DVD Verdict: This production of 'Camelot' was part of the cable series HBO Theatre, and is a videotaped presentation of the 1980 Broadway stage revival of the Lerner & Lowe musical.

The production was filmed at the Winter Garden Theater in Manhattan, NY and received four ACE nominations and is thoroughly recommended for family viewing by the National Education Association.

As we all know at this juncture, Camelot is a utopia where good King Arthur, his wife Guinevere and The Knights of the Roundtable live virtuous lives until a French soldier, Lancelot disrupts the kingdom.

He falls madly in love with the queen while Arthur is entrapped by an evil spell cast by Sorceress Morgan le Fay at the urging of the king’s illegitimate son, Mordred.

When their affair is revealed, Lancelot fights his way out of Camelot, leaving Guinevere who is sentenced to die by fire. When Arthur returns from his enchanted imprisonment, he must decide whether to watch her suffer a painful death or incite a civil war.

In truth, 'Camelot' came out at a time when Hollywood was losing its ability to make good screen musicals. Partly, audience taste was changing, and quaint stuff like 'Camelot' just looked dated and irrelevant next to films like 'The Graduate' or 'Bonnie and Clyde.'

But much of the blame falls to the filmmakers themselves, who tried to impose a trendy 1960s visual style on material rooted to the stage, and the results were gangly and ugly.

However, this production of the cable series "HBO Theatre" does manage to claw it's way back into my good books. I've known of this version for a long time, but had never actually seen it. Performed over two Acts, this videotaped presentation may well lack the quality of a brand new, freshly-minted Bly ray viewing, but that's ok: for this version of 'Camelot' should remain seen as is.

With a wonderful cast led by Richard Harris, who may be a bit old at this point to convey Arthur's youthful innocence and enthusiasm for the Camelot code, I'll give you that, the only thing missing from this production is the number covering Guinivere's clever and delightfully playful goading of her knights against Sir Lancelot in the joust.

A pity, since it was one of the original show's highlights. Meg Bussert is a beautiful and engaging Guinivere, and she sings with a power and skill Vanessa Redgrave (star of the film) didn't possess. Running at two hours of pure enjoyment, this performance set the standard for a classic Broadway production. A must see. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Cat O' Nine Tails: Limited Edition'
(James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / (1971) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: A newspaper reporter and a retired, blind journalist try to solve a series of killings connected to a pharmaceutical company's experimental, top-secret research projects and in so doing, both become targets of the killer.

Blu-ray Verdict: Although it's one of his most successful films, this is the least favorite of Director Dario Argento's among his own pictures. Regardless, 'The Cat O' Nine Tails' offers some fine thrills and the typically rewarding combination of imaginative murder sequences and moments of lighter character development that is characteristic of the Giallo genre and of the director's work as a whole.

So, although Argento himself subsequently claimed that the film is a personal failure, and as much as most all his audiences disagreed, I can see why he thought that way. I mean, there's an occasional lack of the distinguishing "Argento flair" that we've come to expect from subsequent films such as 'Deep Red' (1975), 'Suspiria' (1977), 'Tenebrae' (1982), and even 'Opera' (1987), but it is nowhere near as bad as he seems to suggest.

This second entry in the so-called "Animal Trilogy" found Argento further refining his distinctive style and cementing his reputation as the master of the giallo thriller. The characters and the direction of the narrative all draw us into this labyrinthine murder mystery that continues the filmmaker's early interest in the ideas of sight and perception; as well as featuring two fine performances from lead actors James Franciscus and Karl Malden. Not to mention the great 60's influenced soundtrack from Ennio Morricone, which still ranks as one of the best Argento scores ever heard.

Admittedly, some admirers of the filmmaker's subsequent work might be somewhat disappointed by the lack of his more iconic approach to shot composition, color and movement, as well as the relatively tame degree of actual on screen violence, especially if discovering the film for the first time.

However, perseverance is the key, and the film ultimately rewards with a low-key narrative filled with memorable characters, some particularly fraught moments of terror and a satisfying, if perhaps slightly conservative script. As mentioned before, the direction is much more subtle than we might expect from Argento, a man famed for his vivid colors, bold compositions and at times opulent use of production design, with the toning down of these elements allowing the actors to simply bring more personality to their performances.

On the whole, 'The Cat O' Nine Tails' has something of a made for TV feel to it, bringing to mind the slow-burning detective work of a character like Columbo or Kojak in both theme and presentation; though again, this is hardly a bad thing, as the characters are strong enough and interesting enough to support the various workings of the narrative, while the final revelation of the plot is clever, but never ostentatious. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
New interviews with co-writer/director Dario Argento, co-writer Dardano Sacchetti, actress Cinzia De Carolis and production manager Angelo Iacono
Script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time
Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
Double-sided fold-out poster
4 lobby card reproductions
Limited edition booklet illustrated by Matt Griffin, featuring an essay on the film by Dario Argento, and new writing by Barry Forshaw, Troy Howarth and Howard Hughes
'The Cat O' Nine Tails: Limited Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] will be made available to purchase on January 30th, 2018.

'The Cat O' Nine Tails: Limited Edition' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'The Cat O' Nine Tails' - Promo Trailer

'Trump: The Art of the Insult' [DVD]
(Donald Trump / DVD / NR / 2018 / Highway 61 Entertainment)

Overview: Donald Trump dominated the 2016 race, using The Art of the Insult to brand political opponents and bash the media all the way to the White House.

DVD Verdict: In this film, 'Trump: The Art of the Insult', now-President Trump emerges as a marketing genius and performance artist who, despite being a Manhattan billionaire, captured the hearts of middle America.

So, I think we can all agree that the biggest question on everyone's lips was how did the upstart Trump, whom the media and his competitors dismissed early on as an unqualified candidate and fraudulent conservative, emerge as the party nominee from a field of seventeen established Republican politicians to challenge Hillary in the first place?

Here in a very open, unguarded 'Trump: The Art of the Insult', filmmaker Joel Gilbert’s latest documentary (which is also a nod to Trump’s 1987 business advice book, The Art of the Deal) has brought together nearly 90 minutes of campaign and interview footage of Trump using his mouth to lay waste to the media landscape. Well, in truth, not only was it the media getting his quips and comebacks, but so to the other Republican presidential candidates, and also Democrat opponents Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders; all whilst powering his way to a stunning election victory.

The first hour takes apart the road he took to get a stable hold on the podium, whilst the last thirty minites focuses on Trump attacking “Crooked Hillary,” Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren, and his biggest target of all, the “fake news” media. One of the stand out comebacks from Trump here has to be his answer to this: "You call women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs?!", to which he quickly responds, finger in the air for a point of clarification, "Only Rosie O'Donnell"!

In closing, 'Trump: The Art of the Insult' is a film that will confirm one’s pre-existing biases for or against the President. I mean, in simple terms, if you hated the Donald Trump you saw on the campaign trail (or even well before that) and found his "winning" tactics appalling, this documentary will serve as a object to throw at a supporter within your family, that's for damn sure! Otherwise, as an actual supporter, enjoy it and revel in it, one and all. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official Trailer

'The Tragically Hip - A National Celebration'
(The Tragically Hip / Blu-ray / NR / 2017 / Eagle Vision Entertainment)

Overview: When it was announced in May of 2016 that lead singer Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the band decided that they would do one final run of 15 dates across Canada.

'A National Celebration' was the final show of the Tragically Hip's Man Machine Poem Tour recorded on August 20th, 2016 at the K-Rock Centre in their home town of Kingston Ontario.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, The Tragically Hip, often referred to simply as The Hip, are a Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario, currently consisting of guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker (known as Bobby Baker until 1994), bassist Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay.

They have released 13 studio albums, two live albums, one EP, and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. They have received numerous Canadian music awards, including 16 Juno Awards.

Following lead singer Gord Downie's diagnosis with terminal brain cancer in 2015, the band undertook a tour of Canada in support of their thirteenth album Man Machine Poem.

The band themselves did not declare it as their farewell tour at the time, stating only that future recording and performing activity would depend on Downie's health.

The Man Machine Poem Tour's final concert, held at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston on August 20th, 2016, was broadcast globally by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a cross-platform television, radio and internet streaming special, and is now released on stunning Blu-ray from Eagle Vision.

Sadly, Downie died on October 17th, 2017, but 'A National Celebration' contains all 30 songs from the night's set-list, whilst the recording captures an unparalleled, nation-linking occasion.

As noted, originally aired live by CBC across all platforms, the concert was experienced by an estimated one-third of Canadians, among the biggest events in the country's broadcast history. Audio Mixed by Rich Chycki for DVD & Blu-Ray (Rush, Dream Theater) and mastered by Bob Ludwig, if you love this you'll also love their just-released 'The Tragically Hip - Long Time Running' - which is also one of the finest works of visual testimony to a band that, above most all bands of their ilk, truly deserved to have one.

1. '50 Mission Cap'
2. 'Courage'
3. 'Wheat Kings'
4. 'At The 100th Meridian'
5. 'In A World Possessed By The Human Mind'
6. 'What Blue'
7. 'Tired As Fuck'
8. 'Machine'
9. 'Music At Work'
10. 'Lake Fever'
11. 'Toronto #4'
12. 'Putting Down'
13. 'Twist My Arm'
14. 'Three Pistols'
15. 'Fiddler's Green'
16. 'Little Bones'
17. 'Last of the Unplucked Gems'
18. 'Something On'
19. 'Poets'
20. 'Bobcaygeon'
21. 'Fireworks'
22. 'New Orleans Is Sinking'
23. 'Boots Or Hearts'
24. 'Blow It High Dough'
25. 'Nautical Disaster'
26. 'Scared'
27. 'Grace Too'
28. 'Locked In The Trunk of A Car'
29. 'Gift Shop'
30. 'Ahead By A Century'

No matter if you're a dedicated fan or a casual passerby to their music, sitting down to watch this final ever show will have you in awe. For this is a beautiful, bittersweet farewell from Canada's musical son's. The set-list, as you can see, is incredible and the band is most definitely at the top of their game.

In closing, for more than thirty years, The Tragically Hip have occupied a singular place in the Canadian musical zeitgeist, with a strong emotional connection for their fans which remains unrivaled and immutable.

Possessing the enviable status of a band that enjoys mass popularity, with over eight million albums sold worldwide, they also command the admiration of their peers and merit the industry recognition bestowed upon them through numerous accolades, including 16 Juno awards.

This Blu-ray may only be the end of the band, as is, but it's the start (hopefully) of a new era for the remaining guys, for The Tragically Hip is just too good an entity to fold now.

FYI - Additionally, a Deluxe Box-Set houses the aforementioned 'Long Time Running' and 'A National Celebration' on both DVD and Blu-ray, along with a 24-page booklet, collectors pin, replica VIP laminate, tour program and posters.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Tragically Hip - A National Celebration' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'The Tragically Hip - Long Time Running' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Yor - The Hunter From The Future: 35th Ann.'
(Reb Brown, Corinne Clery, John Steiner, Carole Andre, Luciano Pigozzi, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1983) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: It is before the dawn of time. Strange, savage beasts roam the earth, foraging for human flesh. Fierce tribesmen prey on the weak and innocent. Mystic sacrifices appease the gods. Yor (Reb Brown, Space Mutiny) is the mightiest warrior of his era. But his own past and true identity are shrouded in the mists of time ... until now!

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a fantastic 35th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition, and featuring costumes worn by Overlord and his guards that were left over from 'The Humanoid' (1979) - which director Antonio Margheriti did the special effects for - 'Yor' is as chock full of wonderful cheese as it was back then.

Welcome to a land where simple villagers work hard to avoid becoming the lunch special of the day for local dinosaurs! Kudos to the location scout for choosing to shoot in Istanbul, giving the film a very epic feel. At one point, a trans-dimensional vortex connects both Yor and Space Mutiny. Wow, a Yor vs Kalgon battle in the 'futuristic' basement is the only thing missing from giving this two massive thumbs up!

This romp is a blast simply because of two things: Reb Brown. He plays Yor as an earnest, heroic, goodhearted savage who thinks as well as busts up cavemen chops. However, I've since noticed Yor's voice was dubbed and not actually Reb's. Funnily enough, it actually sounds like the voice used to dub Ator's in 'Cave Dwellers', but I honestly don't know for sure.

There are a few sparse moments where Reb's allowed to do his own shrieking or yelling, as his voice changes, but overall it's the dubster that wins the vocal challenge here. Also, give it up to Reb for doing his own running, forward tuck somersault rolls, and the cutting up of choice meats throughout!

I's no wonder Ka-Laa's totally smitten and practically begging to go to Yor's cave! I mean, how much more heroic can Yor be when he even has his own theme song, "Yor's World"?

But, and to be fair, the other reason to love this movie is Pag. The grizzled (yet loyal) fella can make fire, shoots a wicked bow, yet Yor gets all the spotlight! Plus, I totally endorse Pag's hemp policy - the most hilarious stinger of the movie!

Finally, and to make things even more fun for you, why not hold a Yor drinking game whilst you all watch this 35th Anniversary Edition? Do a shot every time somebody says his name! I can promise you that you'll be so sloshed by the time you make it halfway through, you won't care what it is you're seeing on screen!

Altogether one of the most memorable evenings you will spend with a movie, good, bad or otherwise. And that's even without the tequila! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special features of:

New Audio Commentary from Reb Brown
Theatrical Trailer

'S.W.A.T. - Special Edition'
(Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Renner, LL Cool J, Michelle Rodriguez, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (2003) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: An imprisoned drug kingpin offers a huge cash reward to anyone that can break him out of police custody and only the LAPD's Special Weapons and Tactics team can prevent it.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a fantastic Blu-ray Special Edition, 'S.W.A.T.' is n simple, but entertaining action flick that's high in both testosterone and corny clichés.

It feels like a big budget pilot for a TV show rather that a well thought out movie. because it doesn't quite shake off the conventional structure of the TV show its based on.

The characters (played on autopilot by everyone of the cast members) come in, do what there archetype requires and nothing more. The story, despite having a few decent twists here and there, is rather straight forward also. Indeed, you could get up, put the kettle on, make a nice cup of tea, and sit back down again without having paused the film, and still not have lost the story line!

A highly trained sniper (Collin Farrell) is demoted to "the gun cage" after refusing to testify against his partner. He works unhappily for six months until he is offered a second chance again by Sgt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson (Samuel L Jackson), who is creating a S.W.A.T. team with himself and a few others (Michelle Rodriguez, L.L. Cool J, etc.).

The job was good until an arrested drug lord offers 100 million dollars on national television to anyone who will help him escape. Corruption in the S.W.A.T. team soon unravels as they are assigned to transport the drug lord to a high security prison.

The idea, although unrealistic, was quite good. Ergo, 'S.W.A.T.' definitely had potential to be a great action film, but fell though in a few key characteristics. As aforementioned, the acting was bad and the writing was terrible, but the movie had great special effects and wonderful training scenes.

The humorous nature of the S.W.A.T. team made it not only entertaining but set the mood for the theme for the whole entire movie. Overall, the movie was unrealistic and perhaps a little cheesy at times, but still deserves a recommendation due to the all-out action sequences. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special feature of:

2 Full-Length Audio Commentary Tracks with Cast & Crew

'S.W.A.T. - The Complete Series'
(Steve Forest, Robert Urich, Rod Perry, Mark Shera, James Coleman, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / (1975-1976) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'S.W.A.T. - The Complete Series' is the missions of a major city's police department's Special Weapons and Tactics Unit.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a fantastic 6-Disc DVD Complete Series Edition, 'S.W.A.T. - The Complete Series' is as vibrant a watch today as it ever was back then; in my own humble opinion, of course.

The short-lived television series 'S.W.A.T.' was another successful action-packed police dramas that came from powerhouse television producer Aaron Spelling, and under the creation of Rick Husky, Lee Stanley,and Robert Hammer.

Aaron Spelling served as executive producer of the series along with Leonard Goldberg under their production company Spelling-Goldberg Productions for ABC-TV. 'S.W.A.T.' actually was the spin-off of another successful Aaron Spelling produced series, 'The Rookies' where Steve Forrest was a guest star on that episode.

Indeed, furthermore, 'S.W.A.T.' premiered as a mid-season replacement on ABC's prime time schedule on February 17,1975 and lasted a mere two seasons on the air until April 3,1976. A total of 37 color episodes were produced in which Season 1 consisted of 12 episodes produced airing between February 17, 1975 through May 26,1975.

Season 2 consisted of 25 episodes produced airing between September 13,1975 through April 3, 1976. 'S.W.A.T.' basically premiered as a mid-season replacement for ABC's Monday Night Football where it faced competition between two prime-time CBS comedies 'Maude', and 'Rhoda'(which was the spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show),and NBC's Monday Night at the Movies.

The second and final season saw the series moved from Monday nights to Saturday nights where it again faced competition from two CBS comedies 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', and 'The Bob Newhart Show', which clobbered it in the ratings along with NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies.

The premise of 'S.W.A.T.' (Special Weapons and Tactics Unit) consisted of a group of highly skilled men that were called on to tackle cases not to mention handle dangerous situations to intense for the police to handle.

These quasi-military armed men worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and were all Vietnam Veterans (that fought in Vietnam) that were called on to handle situations in a precision style manner that had to be done with split second timing in order to save lives and take down the baddies or thugs as quickly as possible and bring them to justice.

The series starred veteran actor Steve Forrest (of 'The Baron' television series)as Lt. Hondo Harrelson the head man of operations. His second in command was Sgt. Deacon Kay (Rod Perry),and his back up in dangerous situations were Officer T.J. McCabe(James Coleman); Officer Luca(Mark Shera); and Officer Jim Street(Robert Urich).

The series was known for it's opening theme song which became a top-ten hit for the R&B/Pop group Rhythm Heritage in 1976 that were certified Gold and was Grammy nominated that same year. As far as the television series itself was concerned, it premiered in a decade that was littered with detective dramas,and police shows and it was highly criticized for it's violent content that was a rarely with cop shows of the 1970's.

When 'S.W.A.T.' was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1976, the powers that be over at ABC didn't waste any time for it's replacement where another successful Aaron Spelling produced cop drama 'Starsky and Hutch' took over on it's Saturday night prime time slot.

An interesting tidbit of information here is that Burt Reynolds recommended his friend Robert Urich to producer Aaron Spelling for this show. Reynolds and Urich were both alumni of Florida State University and although this show lasted only two seasons, Spelling remembered Urich and later cast him in Vega$ (1978), which had a longer run. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with all 37 series episodes.

'Hollywood's 50 Greatest Screen Legends'
(Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Mae West, Humphrey Bogart, et al / 4-Disc DVD + Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Enjoy this timeless documentary collection that pays tribute to the greatest Hollywood screen legends of all time. Featuring 25 male and 25 female stars of the silver screen, go in-depth on their lives and careers as we honor these Tinseltown treasures.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a fantastic 4-Disc DVD + Digital Edition, 'Hollywood's 50 Greatest Screen Legends' brings together in one place over 20 hours of Hollywood Biographies from some, if not all the biggest names of a bygone era.

This timeless documentary collection pays tribute to the greatest Hollywood screen legends of all time, such as:

Disc 1 - 1. Katharine Hepburn 2. Bette Davis 3. Audrey Hepburn 4. Ingrid Bergman 5. Greta Garbo 6. Marilyn Monroe 7. Elizabeth Taylor 8. Judy Garland 9. Marlene Dietrich 10. Joan Crawford 11. Barbara Stanwyck 12. Claudette Colbert

Disc 2 - 13. Grace Kelly 14. Ginger Rogers 15. Mae West 16. Vivien Leigh 17. Gloria Swanson 18. Olivia DeHavilland 19. Rita Hayworth 20. Lauren Bacall 21. Sophia Loren 22. Jean Harlow 23. Lana Turner 24. Julie Andrews 25. Ava Gardner

Disc 3 - 1. Humphrey Bogart 2. Cary Grant 3. James Stewart 4. Marlon Brando 5. Fred Astaire 6. Henry Fonda 7. Clark Gable 8. James Cagney 9. Spencer Tracy 10. Errol Flynn 11. Gary Cooper 12. Gregory Peck

Disc 4 - 13. John Wayne 14. Laurence Olivier 15. Gene Kelly 16. Orson Welles 17. Kirk Douglas 18. James Dean 19. Burt Lancaster 20. Jack Lemmon 21. Paul Newman 22. Sidney Poitier 23. Robert Mitchum 24. Edward G. Robinson 25. William Holden

Featuring 25 male and 25 female stars of the silver screen, 'Hollywood's 50 Greatest Screen Legends' goes in-depth into their lives and careers, as the quite brilliant Mill Creek Entertainment honor these Tinseltown treasures; one by one.

Showcasing such female talents as Katharine Hepburn - a woman known for her fierce independence and spirited personality, she was a leading lady in Hollywood for more than 60 years; Bette Davis - someone regarded as one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, she was noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic, sardonic characters and was reputed for her performances in a range of film genres; and Grace Kelly - a Monacan-American actress who became Princess of Monaco after marrying Prince Rainier III, in April 1956, the other 22 ladies are just as memorable, trust me.

Also showcasing the male talents, such as Humphrey Bogart - the screen and stage actor whose performances in 1940s films noir such as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The Big Sleep earned him status as a cultural icon; Cary Grant - the English-American actor, known as one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men; and John Wayne - nicknamed The Duke, and an Academy Award-winner for True Grit, Wayne was among the top box office draws for three decades, the other 22 men are also just as memorable, of that you have my word. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Street Sharks - The Complete Series'
(Andrew Rannells, Jim Hoggatt, Lee Tockar, D. Kevin Williams, et al / 3-Disc DVD / G / (1994-1996) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Out of the Deep and Into the Streets! When the evil scientist, Dr. Paradigm, illegally experiments with untested DNA, four brothers are accidentally transformed into monstrous half shark - half humans! Delighted with the success of his genetic meltdown, the madman plans to turn all of humanity into sea creatures of his own design and control.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a fantastic 3-Disc DVD Complete Series Edition, 'Street Sharks - The Complete Series' is as colorful and fun of a watch today as it ever was back then; in my own humble opinion, of course.

In short, 'Street Sharks' was awesome! I mean, come on now, what kid didn't want to watch a show where tough sharks were punching down criminals. It was made simple for children and not adults.

I believe the idea might have been based off of Maui and son's where a typical shark character became so much more when they were provided skate boards, boogie boards, shirts, shoes and anything else that was popular in the early 90's!

When I see pictures from this show it reminds me of a time when Neon colored fanny packs, BK Knights light up shoes, over-sized sunglasses, squeeze-its, lego's, and slap on bracelets were only a necessity of life. Ahhh, yes, the good ol' days!

Anyway, back on track and this animated animal-themed superhero TV series 'Street Sharks' (which aired from 1994-1996) was one of several animated animal-themed superhero TV shows to air during the 1990s - probably to cash in on the craze for such properties created by the wildly successful 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'.

Like more than a few of such series, 'Street Sharks' was co-created by Ron Askin and Phil Harnage to cash in on an already-existing toy line (by Mattel). So, try to imagine this series as 'Jaws' meets the Fantastic Four!

'Street Sharks' concerns the Bolton Brothers - John, Clint, Bobby, and Coop - who are transformed by the insane, megalomaniacal and power-hungry university geneticist Dr. Luther Paradigm, who kidnaps the four siblings and injects them with an experimental serum that transforms them into massive half-man/half-shark mutants.

Together, the four of them team up as one, as the "Street Sharks," to fight crime and all manner of evil in their native Fission City. Of course, Dr. Paradigm becomes their primary nemesis, who has an insane scheme to "gene-slam" the entire human population into nefarious "Seaviates," hideous genetic mutants based on marine animals that will exist only to serve him.

Paradigm himself becomes a victim of his own sick and twisted experiments when he is accidentally injected with his own "gene-slamming" serum and is transformed into "Dr. Piranoid," whose face assumed an inhuman piranha-like form during moments of extreme emotion.

The Street Sharks are aided in their battles against Dr. Piranoid by Bends, their genius human friend, and other "gene-slammed" human/animal mutants like Moby Lick (a Killer Whale) and Rox (a Mako Shark) and later, the Dino Vengers.

Seeing the show in my adult years, it's not as mind-blowing as I thought it was going to be - but perhaps that's just the 31-year-old adult in me. But remembering back to my nine-/10-year-old self, it's easy to get lost in a show that promises nothing more than just great fun and "Jawsome" one-liners. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with all 40 series episodes.

'Horseland - The Complete Series'
(David Kalis, Dana Donlan, Wendy K. Gray, et al / 3-Disc DVD + Digital / G / (2006) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Saddle up for adventures in friendship! It's a galloping good time as four friends and their talking horses ride together through the ups and downs of being a kid in an incredible place known as Horseland!

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a rather delightful 3-Disc DVD Complete Series Edition, 'Horseland - The Complete Series' is as colorful and as playful today to watch as it ever was. The continuing stories of four horses and four horse lovers who go on adventures, aided by a wise collie, a jealous cat and a clumsy pig in a place called Horseland, showcases just how strong the animation was even back 12 years ago now.

Far away, in spectacular countryside, there's a fantastic place called Horseland - a complex of stables, arenas, barns, rolling green pastures, and riding trails through verdant mountain forests. A lot of kids board horses here so we get to follow the adventures of three girls and one boy, all 11-12 years old.

Sarah Whitney and Scarlet - Sarah is a 12 year-old English-American girl who likes to make friends. She is very friendly and loves to encourage others to do their best and have fun. She comes from a rich family, but does not consider herself better than others because of it.

Alma Rodriguez and Button - Alma is 12 years old and comes from a tight-knit Hispanic family. Her father Jorge has worked as the manager of the stable at Horseland for ten years. An avid reader, Alma seems to take every opportunity to read. She's spirited and competitive, and is one of the best and most dedicated riders Horseland has to offer.

Molly Washington and Calypso - Molly is a 12 year-old African-American girl who often deals with life's problems through humor. She is very funny, creative, and charismatic. She enjoys making fun of herself and, at times, her friends, which can cause them to get annoyed at the fact that she doesn't seem to take much seriously. However, Molly can become serious and ride a horse just as well as the others when her friends are counting on her.

Will Taggert and Jimber - Will is 15 years old, relaxed, and good looking. Will is often put in charge of the ranch while Bailey's parents are away. He is Bailey's cousin and has lived with Bailey's family ever since he was a little boy. Mature and insightful, he often acts as an adult figure to the rest of the kids and also serves as their riding instructor and mentor. He loves to listen to country music and is great at horse riding, whether it be Western and English.

They all fast become best of friends as they learn all about horsemanship: the intricate dance of dressage, the thrills (and spills) of show jumping, and the care and grooming of their animals.

We also meet two spoiled sisters with attitudes, and an older boy who serves as mentor for them all, but what makes Horseland such a special place is that the horses and stable animals ... talk! Well, at least to each other!

The animals' rich, exciting lives complement and illuminate the experiences of our human cast - and help make 'tween life a little less confusing.

The show premiered on September 16, 2006 as part of CBS's new Saturday morning cartoon block, KOL Secret Slumber Party on CBS (now Cookie Jar TV). Concurrent with the series, the online virtual pet game that it was based upon was updated to complement the show by launching a new "Junior version" of the game based on the program and featuring its various characters and locations. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with all 27, three season series episodes.

'America's Treasures'
(2-Disc DVD + Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Take an exciting journey across America to learn about the national monuments and parks that pay tribute to our great country, its beauty, and history.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a fascinating 2-Disc DVD 12-Part Documentary Series, 'America's Treasures' begins with the Antiquities Act of 1906 - where President Teddy Roosevelt created the nation's first designation to preserve, for all Americans, significant pieces of the country's ecology, geology, and to memorialize historic sites, and continues onward in an ever increasingly mesmerizing documentary manner.

For me, personally, the story of the United States' past and present glories is an incredible journey to watch unfold, and here on 'America's Treasures' it also lovingly highlight 25 monuments, from man made to God given.

This incredible, breathtaking at times documentary takes us on an exciting journey across America to learn about the national monuments and parks that pay tribute to our great country, its beauty, and history.

As mentioned, and featuring over 25 historic and majestic locations, this 12-part documentary series goes coast-to-coast from Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve in Alaska to the Canaveral National Seashore in Florida.

Disc 1;
Fossil Worlds
Ancient Cemeteries
The Anasazi Homeland
The Fur Trade
Subtropical Florida
The Great Indian Wars

Disc 2:
Symbols of Liberty
Road to Equality
The Incredible Pacific Coast
Canyon Country
The Southern Rockies
Monuments That Became Great Parks

From our most famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty to some of our least known treasures like Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, this brand new documentary has got to be one of the finest scopes of visual art I have ever encountered. Once watched, I hope you feel that way also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Durango Kid Collection'
(Charles Starrett, Helen Mowery, Smiley Burnette, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: The ultimate western hero, Charles Starrett held the record at his retirement in 1952 for most feature films with 131. Most of those were as the cowboy character The Durango Kid, a masked vigilante who fought for justice and thwarted the evil plans of looters, land-grabbers, claim-jumpers, and the like on the range.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a wonderful 2-Disc DVD set, 'The Durango Kid Collection' showcases one of the movies' greatest ever cowboys, Charles Starrett. Who with sidekick Smiley Burnette, the pair were the top B-movie stars who packed a punch and ruled the West.

Starrett was born in Athol, Massachusetts, where his grandfather had built a prosperous tool works. He attended Worcester Academy, then graduated from Dartmouth College. A graduate of Worcester Academy in 1922, Starrett went on to study at Dartmouth College.

While on the Dartmouth football team he was hired to play a football extra in the film 'The Quarterback' (1926). Bitten by the acting bug, Starrett played minor roles in films and leading roles in stage plays. In 1928, he was a member of the Walker Company, a repertory theatre troupe headed by Stuart Walker.

In 1935 Columbia Pictures wanted to replace its incumbent western star Tim McCoy with a younger actor. Starrett heard about this and interviewed with Columbia producers. Starrett ultimately signed four contracts with Columbia, becoming the studio's number-one cowboy star. He cast an appealing figure with his tall stature (6' 2"), strong jawline, confident voice, and air of quiet authority.

Starrett's first western film was Gallant Defender (1935) and although he hadn't planned on making an entire career out of westerns, it all just fell into place for the suave, good-looking actor.

Here we get, spread over 2 DVDs, 10 classics from his Durango Kid days, one of the great legends of the Wild West! I won't go indepth about them all, but suffice to say my personal favorites (and perhaps yours too) are these three gems:

'The Fighting Frontiersman' - (1946) – B&W – 61 Minutes – NR - Charles Starrett, Helen Mowery, Smiley Burnette: The story is centered around people looking for and fighting over Santa Ana's gold, which is just as good a starting point as any for a B western Western, since it all come down to an arrangement of the tropes of westerns. There is a nice, confusing series of double-crosses to keep the viewer interested. There is an early series example of using a narrator to set the story.

'Streets Of Ghost Town' - (1950) – B&W – 54 Minutes – NR - Charles Starrett, Mary Ellen Kay, Smiley Burnette: Steve Woods (Charles Starrett) arrives in a ghost town where we hear about a legend involving a hidden treasure. It turns out that the only person who knows where the treasure is is currently blind, in jail and isn't telling his secret!

For me, this in the Durango Kid series is actually the best. For starters, it dabbles in quite a few horror elements, including the heroes messing around with a skull early on. Another thing is that it used a lot of stock footage, which includes a rather amazing looking cattle stampede; which was perhaps the highlight of this film.

'Laramie' - (1949) – B&W – 55 Minutes – NR - Charles Starrett, Fred F. Sears, Smiley Burnette: The Durango Kid rides again, this time to try to maintain peace between a post of Calvary officers quartered at Fort Sanders and the local Indians. When Chief Eagle is mysteriously shot during a meeting to discuss peace, his son Running Wolf threatens to avenge the death of his father with war.

A couple of surprise appearances in the film for me included Jay Silverheels as Indian Running Wolf, and Myron Healey as Lieutenant Reed, both in uncredited parts. You have to keep in mind that 1949 was the year 'The Lone Ranger' debuted on network TV, so Silverheels got this one in as well as a handful of other pictures before he became Tonto.

The other seven (7) films included are: 'Blazing Across the Pecos', 'Lightning Guns', 'Trail of the Rustlers', 'Bonanza Town', 'Snake River Desperadoes', 'The Hawk of Wild River', and 'The Kid From Broken Gun'. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Locked and Re-Loaded - 4 Barrel Combo'
(Jean Claude Van Damme, Shane West, Mark Dacascos, Vinnie Jones, Jon Foo, et al / DVD / R / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Ready. Aim. Fire! It’s 4 more rounds of action-packed, adrenaline-pumping, shoot-’em-up excitement in this pulse-pounding, star-studded movie collection!

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a pulsating single DVD foursome, 'Locked and Re-Loaded - 4 Barrel Combo' features, in my humble opinion, four very under-rated, and yet highly watchable action movies.

'OPERATION ROGUE' - 2014 - R - Christopher M. Elassad, Mark Dacascos, Sofia Pernas: Christopher M. Elassad captures the attention of Hollywood as the new lovable hero tough guy, Sgt. McCray, alongside the beautiful and athletic Sofia Pernas, martial arts expert Mark Decascos, the versatility of actor Treat Williams, and the engaging Joe Suba, to deliver action packed sequences with fast paced editing.

Deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, a terrorist organization has stolen materials to create a dangerous chemical bomb.

Shot on location in the Philippines with solid photography and a realistic terrorist plot, Chris Elassad's natural talent as an actor and strong physique are a perfect match for his role here in 'Operation Rogue'.

'EXTRACTION' – 2013 – NR - Jon Foo, Vinnie Jones, Sean Astin: Mercy Callo (Jon Foo) is a U.S. Black Ops soldier who finds himself the only survivor of a botched prisoner extraction mission. Forced to fight his way out of a maximum-security Chechen prison, he must keep his target alive in order to save thousands of lives.

Relative newcomer Jon Foo gives a veteran performance with an excellent display of his martial arts skills and better-than-workman-like acting skills. Sean Astin and Danny Glover have some unfortunately somewhat two-dimensional roles, but Joanne Kelly, who it's nice to see is still finding work after Warehouse 13, brings a Myka Bering-esque likability to her role.

'SECOND IN COMMAND' - 2006 - R - Jean-Claude Van Damme, Julie Cox: Jean Claude Van Damme plays an official who's just been appointed as Second In Command to the U.S. Ambassador at an American Embassy in a small, turbulent Eastern European nation.

When local insurgents attempt a coup d'état, the nation's President takes refuge inside the embassy. The embassy is then besieged by the well-armed insurgents. The U.S. Ambassador is killed in the ensuing action, and it's now up to Jean-Claude and the embassy's small detachment of U.S. Marines to fend off the attackers.

I would like to say that this is one of best straight to DVD movies and one of the most underrated. The acting is little above average, the story is interesting, the characters are good but not memorable, but the action is definitely the highlight of this flick. If you are a JCVD fan and you still haven't seen this one, definitely check it out.

'RED SANDS' – 2009 – R - Shane West, J.K. Simmons: During a mission in the Middle East, a group of US soldiers destroy a statue out of boredom only to then be visited by something the next day.

In truth, and as much as it does have a superb final act, 'Red Sands' also has a very slow pace up until that point. Indeed, during the first act it seemed that the story line was almost non existent up until the strange woman stumbles into the soldiers hideout!

Then after that the film starts to build this very unsettling tension that has you thinking there's something out there, but you just don't know what it is - so it all gets a little cat and mouse within you.

Overall, the acting is good, considering the minimal character development, and the cast clearly didn't have much to work with, but they pulled off a decent job. So, and without giving "it" away, the film throws up the usual plight that we see themed in these types of genre films in the last decade ('Deathwatch', 'The Bunker' and 'Outpost'). So, yeah, a good movie if you're the patient kind. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Jerry Lewis Triple Feature'
(Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh, Terry Thomas, et al / DVD / R / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: The late, great comedy legend Jerry Lewis left behind an unparalleled career filled with outrageous characters, impeccable comedic timing and outright lunacy! This hilarious triple feature boasts three beloved films from the height of his career.

DVD Verdict: Released by Mill Creek Entertainment as a hilarious single DVD threesome, 'Jerry Lewis Triple Feature' features, in my humble opinion, three (3) of his very best, and yet still highly-under rated movies.

'DON’T RAISE THE BRIDGE, LOWER THE RIVER' – 1968 – Rated G - Jerry Lewis, Terry Thomas, Bernard Cribbins: Jerry ('Boeing, Boeing') plays George Lester, an American in London, whose grandiose schemes constantly get him into trouble.

Chasing after money and arranging schemes that his wife, the yummy Jacqueline Pearce, dumps him for in disgust, to win her back, Jerry turns her family mansion into a Chinese disco (don't ask!) and arranges a deal with his sometimes-partner; the usually dependable Terry-Thomas, to steal the plans for a new oil drill and sell them to the Arabs.

Aided by some fine support from a young Patricia Routledge, Bernard Cribbins and John Bluthal, the film is still worth a look today. The story is also quite amusing, although I can't help feeling that it could have been used to a much bigger comic impact.

Thankfully, there are enough comic scenarios are characters to help fill out some of the gaps for the film to become too slow. Terry Thomas puts in a fantastic, stereo-typical "cad" performance and there's some great mugging from the aforementioned Cribbins.

'HOOK, LINE AND SINKER' – 1969 – G - Jerry Lewis, Peter Lawford, Anne Francis: Peter Ingersoll (Jerry Lewis, 'The Nutty Professor') is living a humdrum existence as a family man and insurance salesman when he finds out from his doctor friend, Scott (Peter Lawford, Ocean’s Eleven), that he has a terminal illness.

Thinking that his life is nearly over, he lives life to the fullest, building up insurmountable debt. When the debt becomes too much, Scott tells Peter that he is actually not sick. To remove the debt, Scott comes up with the idea to stage Peter’s death, allowing him to return after the statute of limitations is done.

Gone is the juvenile horseplay of his earlier films with Dean Martin. We have here a more restrained and mature comic style, shown to good form at the start of the movie, which is a series of set pieces showing off comic aspects of life in suburbia.

The ending reveals something that you may, or may not have expected to see coming, and as much as it leaves you smiling, the overall slap stick humor should have made you laugh throughout also. Oh, and I noticed the 'Bewitched' TV set instantly in the scenes - perhaps you did also.

'THREE ON A COUCH – 1966 – NR - Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh, James Best: Christopher Pride (Jerry Lewis) has been offered an important commission in Paris but can't convince his girlfriend, Dr. Elizabeth Acord (Janet Leigh), to take some time off from her psychiatric practice.

Elizabeth is worried about three of her female patients, all of whom are extremely hostile toward men and very needy. Christopher, anxious to leave for France, decides to impersonate the ideal man for each of Elizabeth's patients, in hopes of lessening their dependency on her.

In short, all the humor here is cornball, but it is still rather enjoyable. Jerry is a klutz -- not in a cheap slapstick way, but rather because he is a man out of place -- a zoologist, a rodeo star, and a fitness nut. But the ladies are each taken, and it is great. A nice syrupy ending too makes this film a very enjoyable romantic comedy well worth seeing. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Play Date with Miffy!'
(DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Join the curious young bunny Miffy as she learns all about the world around her, along with her best friends Melanie and Grunty.

They embark on adventures and new experiences and have fun celebrating kindness, respect, and friendship. Jump in puddles, take a ballet lesson, play hide and seek, and much more in these eleven fun-filled playtime adventures!

DVD Verdict: Miffy is a small female rabbit who actually began life in a series of picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna.

Now over three season, 'Miffy's Adventures Big and Small' is a Dutch-British CGI-animated television series, based on those very same aforementioned Miffy books. Indeed, it is a continuation of the Miffy and Friends series, which aired from 2003 until 2007.

This brand new series first came onto our screens in 2014 and has been a big success for PBS Kids all around the world ever since.

Here in 'Miffy's Adventures Big and Small: Play Date with Miffy!' we get 11 stories that will, each and every one of them, have your kids of all ages totally enthralled! With a lovely run time of about 80 minutes, the episodes included are:

'Miffy and the Puddles' / 'Miffy and the Tennis Match' / 'Grunty the Ballerina' / ' Miffy's Go-Cart' / 'Miffy Goes Bowling' / 'Miffy the Queen of the Castle' / 'Miffy at the Library' / 'Grunty, Where Are You?' / 'Miffy's New Bicycle' / 'Dan and the Big Bad Wolf' / 'Miffy and the Crocodile'.

Personally, I like the Miffy videos because the graphics are what I consider acceptable. I do not like fast moving, busy, hurried graphics, that you can see on so many children's shows these days. In truth, a more bare bones approach has been taken, a back to basics approach and it works perfectly. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Killer Volcanoes'
(NR / DVD / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: NOVA's expert team looks for the signature of a volcanic eruption big enough to have blasted a huge cloud of ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere. Killer Volcanoes spotlights the search for the mystery volcano that plunged the globe into a deep freeze and inflicted famine on medieval Europe.

DVD Verdict: Here in this downright fascinating new documentary, 'Killer Volcanoes', NOVA follows a team of volcano sleuths as they embark on a worldwide hunt for an elusive volcanic mega-eruption that plunged the medieval earth into a deep freeze.

The mystery begins when archaeologists find a hastily dug mass grave of 4,000 men, women, and children in London. At first they assume it's a plague pit from the Black Death, but when they date the bones, they're a century too early. So what killed off these families?

The chronicles of that time describe a run of wild weather that devastated crops and spread famine across Europe. NOVA's expert team looks for the signature of a volcanic eruption big enough to have blasted a huge cloud of ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, which chilled the entire planet.

From Greenland to Antarctica, the team finds telltale "fingerprints" in ice and soil layers until, finally, they narrow down the culprit to a smoldering crater on a remote Indonesian island.

Indonesia's Mount Tambora, whose eruption so befogged the earth with sulfurous clouds that 1815 would be remembered as The Year Without Summer, with 200,000 dead of famine. Or even Italy's Mount Vesuvius, which not only obliterated the city of Pompeii in 79 AD but saddled us for all eternity with the literary works of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.

Nearly 750 years ago, the former volcano's colossal explosion shot a million tons of rock and ash into the atmosphere. Across the globe, it turned summer into winter. What would happen if another such cataclysm struck again today? Watch this documentary from PBS and get a grip on what could happen, just in case, as they say. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'FRONTLINE: North Korea's Deadly Dictator'
(NR / DVD / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Investigate who killed Kim Jong-un's half brother and what it reveals about the leader and his regime. Amid nuclear tensions, the film examines claims the North Korean leader ordered the assassination, and sheds light on his intentions and capabilities.

DVD Verdict: 'FRONTLINE: North Korea's Deadly Dictator' informs us that earlier this year, Kim Jong-un's half brother, Kim Jong-nam, was ambushed in a Malaysian airport by two women bearing a lethal chemical weapon 10 times more powerful than sarin. He died en route to the hospital.

So, as no one seem to still know, who planned the murder of Kim Jong-un's half brother, and what does it reveal about the leader and his regime? Having said that, Ri Jong Chol, a North Korean man was held in connection with the death of Kim Jong-Nam, back earlier this year, but thus far no charges have been filed against him. As nuclear tensions between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un escalate, producer Jane McMullen examines claims the North Korean leader and his intelligence services ordered the assassination on Kim Jong-Nam, and sheds light on his broader intentions - and nuclear capabilities.

Drawing on interviews with a leading North Korean defector, diplomats, experts, Kim Jong-nam's school friends and even a former North Korean secret agent, the documentary is a rare glimpse inside the secretive country - and an eye-opening look at both how King Jong-un thinks, and how he's trying to ensure his regime's survival and perpetuate his own power.

As for those girls at the airport, well, Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are expected to plead not guilty to murdering Jong-nam, but that could well be something that drags on through the court system also. The reason? Well, one of the women thought she was rubbing baby oil on his face, but it was in fact the VX nerve agent, according to an Indonesian official. More to come, I'm sure, but for now, 'FRONTLINE: North Korea's Deadly Dictator' will fill in a whole lot of blanks for you, of that be very sure. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Secrets of the Shining Knight'
(NR / DVD / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Discover what it was like to be a knight in shining armor and follow the historic manufacturing process. Join master armorers as they re-engineer the Greenwich armor considered some of the greatest armor ever made and then put it to the test.

DVD Verdict: A knight in shining armor may sound like a character out of a storybook, but once upon a time, knighthood was serious business, and for countless medieval fighters, their armor was what stood between life and death.

Here in 'NOVA: Secrets of the Shining Knight' we take a time-travel adventure into the 16th century where the Renaissance was fully underway. In the times of Queen Elizabeth in a jubilee time, imagining oneself inside a turreted gate, enjoy the sights and sounds of a 17-acre village, complete with ye olde shops, taverns and a magnificent castle, is not that hard wiht what's on view here from PBS.

But what was it really like to live beneath the metal? How was that shining armor crafted and how strong was it? Could it withstand impacts from the most lethal weapons of the day, including crossbows, muskets, and primitive hand guns?

NOVA challenged blacksmith Ric Furrer and master armorer Jeff Wasson to recreate parts of an elite armor originally manufactured in the Royal Workshop founded by King Henry VIII.

They also trace their successes and setbacks from start to finish as they rediscover centuries-old metalworking secrets, then put their new armor to the ultimate test against a period musket! Fascinating from start to finish, 'NOVA: Secrets of the Shining Knight' is a world away from all your troubles and a delightful program to learn more about just what went into (quite literally) those suits! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'NOVA: Ghosts of Stonehenge'
(NR / DVD / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Who built Stonehenge and why? Discover how the last decade of groundbreaking archaeological digs has revealed major new clues to Britain's enigmatic 5,000 year-old site and the people who constructed it.

DVD Verdict: Stonehenge is the grandest and most enigmatic of Europe's prehistoric monuments, and has inspired countless theories to explain who built it and why. But was it an ancient cathedral or burial place, or even a Stone Age observatory or computer?

Over the last decade, fresh answers have come from an ambitious program of research, including the first scientific study of human remains - thousands of fragments of cremated men, women, and children - buried at the site 5,000 years ago.

For those not completely in the know, Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighing around 25 tons.

In this Stone Age detective story, 'NOVA: Ghosts of Stonehenge', archaeologists analyze the bones and piece together tantalizing details of the elite families who presided over Stonehenge.

Remnants of huge feasts that fed the laborers at the site have come to light, including evidence that they traveled from far corners of the British Isles to raise the stones and celebrate the winter solstice.

Yet Stonehenge's place as a centerpiece of ancient culture was not to last. Join NOVA as we reveal intimate details of the Stonehenge people and why their power began to fade soon after they raised the mighty stones. Known as the most architecturally sophisticated pre-historic stone circle in the world, 'NOVA: Ghosts of Stonehenge' will open your eyes, in more ways than one, trust me! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Algi Eke, Ozgur Cevik, Asiye Dincsoy, Selen Ucer, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / Film Rise)

Overview: When state censorship leads to her losing her job at a Turkish TV news channel, a woman retreats into her apartment, where she becomes paranoid and delusional.

DVD Verdict: So you are fully aware at just how incredible this movie truly is, 'Inflame' (Turkish: Kaygı) is a 2017 Turkish psychological thriller film directed by Ceylan Özgün Özçelik that was screened in the Panorama section at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival that very same year.

Tackling, head on without blinking, the topical themes of fake news and freedom of expression, 'Inflame' shows us Hasret (Algi Eke), who works as a video editor at an Istanbul TV news station. Things are starting to change around her, and when her bosses start imposing "official editorial lines" that she should now begin to use, Hasret soon becomes unsettled by the news sea change.

Finally making a break from her job, one she loved so long ago, but cannot any longer stomach, Hasret hides away in her apartment in a historic neighborhood that is earmarked for demolition and regeneration. All around her, her world is quite literally crumbing, which is mirrored to her very own mind and total disillusionment with the world she now lives in.

Now isolated in her own home, hour by hour Hasret's paranoia begins to kick in, and then quickly worsen, as she begins to suffer both audio and visual hallucinations. Her apartment rumbles, loud bangs are "heard" and "felt" and even hr walls start to feel hot.

During all this mental turmoil, Hasret begins to obsess over multiple things that have happened to her in life. The main one being the death of her parents, Anatolian folk musicians who "officially" died in a car crash 20 years ago. A couple that were Turkish artists who were being censored and oppressed, she sees parallels in her life also.

I won't say any more, but suffice to say that this feature debut from writer-director Ceylan Ozgun Ozcelik is as good as it gets in this genre. Sure it's rather, shall we say, cryptic and very arty in places, but the fact that it is technically accomplished and very atmospheric just means we have a deserved Award-winner on our hands here, ladies and gentlemen. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and features the official 'Inflame' movie trailer.

'Teen Titans: The Complete First Season' [Blu-ray]
(Ron Perlman, Clancy Brown, Wil Wheaton, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Warner Archive)

Overview: Teenage super heroes never looked so good as Warner Archive Collection brings another favorite from the Warner Bros. Animation canon to Blu-ray™ with the January 23rd, 2018 release of 'Teen Titans: The Complete First Season'.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, the Teen Titans are one of my all time favorite superhero shows; next to Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS, and Justice League. It was an excellent show that appealed to everyone of all ages and was highly regarded as one of the best shows of all time.

The characters were complex and lovable, the story arcs were interesting to watch and see how they unfurl, and it balanced the show with both comedy and action aspects.

Sadly, after the disappointing series finale that was Things Change, fans like me wanted a continuation because it left the door open for another season. Well Stuart Snyder and the rest of CN decide to once again give us fans the middle finger and decide to produce - and not just in my humble opinion - an abomination known as Teen Titans Go!

That aside now though, as we are back in the beloved throes of our wondrous and beloved, and original, 'Teen Titans'. Now with the very first season released on crystal clear, colorful Blu-ray, with awesome super skills and powers galore, these crime-fighting partners kick butt and squash evil like nobody's business!

But as roommates in Titans Tower, it's every hero for him/herself when it comes to living in peace. Not even super heroes can settle fights over who's in control of the TV remote!

In these 13 action-packed adventures, the Titans face all your favorite villains – Mad Mod, The Puppet King, Killer Moth and, of course, their arch-nemesis Slade – in one power-packing showdown after another. Some battles even pit the Titans against each other.

The episode listing for 'Teen Titans: The Complete First Season' is as follows:
'Final Exam'
'Divide and Conquer'
'Forces of Nature'
'The Sum of His Parts'
'Deep Six'
'Mad Mod'
'Car Trouble'
'Apprentice: Part 1'
'Apprentice: Part 2'

As aforementioned, featuring bold animation, funky music and fun characters, this complete Season One from the hit TV series is an intergalactic knockout. Even the costumes worn by our Teen Totan superheroes - Khary Payton (Cyborg), Tara Strong (Raven), Scott Menville (Robin), Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), and Hynden Walch (Starfire) - seem to be more vivid, more alive!

The basic premise here is that with five juveniles on the team there is plenty of room for conflict and interaction. The villains primarily exist to be obstacles that bring in a lot of butt kicking action in the fight scenes.

Robin often makes a point of stressing the need to put them in jail after the villains are defeated. The conflicts in Teen Titans are generally two faced: the bad guys get busted but at the same time the heroes learn their lesson in a particular episode.

The first episode, "Final Exam" starts off this debut season slightly choppy, but the second episode (and my personal favorite) certainly delivers the goods. In "Sisters," we are faced with the typical scenario of sibling rivalry set in a superhero yet slightly familiar and neurotic environment that teenagers face.

The episode focuses on the somewhat bumbling but adorable alien known as Starfire. Her older sister Blackfire, who unexpectedly comes into town, suddenly eclipses her in every way that an older sister can. A chase among invading alien drones carries on until the Titans suspect that the seemingly superior Blackfire may be hiding something.

Some of the episodes are just so bizarre and the Anime influences that allow physical gags can make you choke up or break up with laughter. In "Mad Mod" a British-talking teacher gone wild throws the Titans into a giant booby-trapped school.

The entire episode is a hilarious chase that includes optical illusions, exploding beakers and hypno-screens. It shows how far around the bend this show can get, but is also a massive exercise of creativity and amusement.

The two-part finale "Apprentice" is worth watching again and again as Robin's obsessions with justice lead him further away from his friends and into a cat-and-mouse game with Slade. The Boy Wonder is finally blackmailed and forced to betray his friends to save their lives.

I won't give away the ending, but the finale certainly takes credit for giving one of the best original stories of the show. This season finale sums up what this show is all about: adolescent maturity and the value of friendship.

Guest voices line-up like a Murderer’s Row of celebrity actors, led by the ever-present Ron Perlman as Slade. Also featured in Teen Titans: The Complete First Season are Malcolm McDowell (Mad Mod), Clancy Brown (Trident), Wil Wheaton (Aqualad), Dave Coulier (Captain, Tramm), James Arnold Taylor (Overload, Cash), Kevin Michael Richardson (Mammoth), Rino Romano (Kai), David Sobolov (Cron), Dee Bradley Baker (Cinderblock, Plasmus), S. Scott Bullock (Thunder), Quinton Flynn (Lightning), Tom Kenny (Mumbo, Fixit), Roger Bumpass (Dr. Light), Keith Szarabajka (Trigon), Tracey Walter (Puppet King) and Lauren Tom (Gizmo).

This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Finding Their Voices Featurette
Toon Topia Bonus Cartoons
Comic Creations
Puffy Ami Yumi Featurette
Puffy Ami Yumi Music Video
Sneak Peak at Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi TV Show

'Teen Titans: The Complete First Season' [Blu-ray] Official Purchase Link

Official Warner Archive Website

'Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 1'
(Sachiko Hidari, Koji Wada, Tamio Kawaji, Michi Azuma, et al / 4-Disc Blu-ray + DVD / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Youths on the loose and rebels without causes in the unruly seishun eiga youth movies of Japanese iconoclast Seijun Suzuki. Making their home video debuts outside Japan, this diverse selection of Nikkatsu youth movies (seishun eiga) charts the evolving style of the B-movie maverick best known for the cult classics Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded to Kill (1967).

Blu-ray Verdict: To bring you up to date on what to expect here, Seijun Suzuki (who died just last year), was a Japanese filmmaker, actor, and screenwriter. His films are known for their jarring visual style, irreverent humor, nihilistic cool and entertainment-over-logic sensibility.

He made 40 predominately B-movies for the Nikkatsu Company between 1956 and 1967, working most prolifically in the yakuza genre. His increasingly surreal style began to draw the ire of the studio in 1963 and culminated in his ultimate dismissal for what is now regarded as his magnum opus, Branded to Kill (1967), starring notable collaborator Joe Shishido.

Suzuki successfully sued the studio for wrongful dismissal, but he was blacklisted for 10 years after that. As an independent filmmaker, he won critical acclaim and a Japanese Academy Award for his Taishō Trilogy, Zigeunerweisen (1980), Kagero-za (1981) and Yumeji (1991).

This quite stunning Limited Edition 4-Disc Blu-ray+DVD, Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 1 Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies is a masterful collection of five (5) of Seijun Suzuki's unruly seishun eiga youth movies.

'The Boy Who Came Back' (Fumihazushita haru) (1958) marks the first appearances of Nikkatsu Diamond Guys and regular Suzuki collaborators Akira Kobayashi and Jo Shishido, with Kobayashi cast as the hot-headed hoodlum fresh out of reform school who struggles to make a clean break with his tearaway past.

'The Wind-of-Youth Group Crosses the Mountain Pass' (Tôge o wataru wakai kaze) (1961) is a carnivalesque tale of a young student who hooks up with a down-at-heels traveling circus troupe.

'Teenage Yakuza' (Hai tiin yakuza) (1962) stars Tamio Kawaji as the high-school vigilante protecting his community from the extortions of mobsters from a neighbouring city.

Lastly we get 'The Incorrigible' (Akutarô) (1963) (also known as 'The Bastard') and 'Born Under Crossed Stars' (Akutarô-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo) (1965). Both based on Toko Kon's novels about young love, they represent Suzuki's first films set in the 1920s era later celebrated in his critically-regarded Taisho Trilogy. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [3000 copies]
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
Optional English Subtitles
New introduction to the films by critic Tony Rayns
60-page illustrated collector's book featuring new writing by critic and author Jasper Sharp

'Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 1 Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies' [Blu-ray+DVD] will be made available to purchase on February 13th, 2018 (the one year anniversary of Suzuki's death).

'Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 1 Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies' [Blu-ray+DVD] Purchase Link

'Viva L'Italia: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Renzo Ricci, Paolo Stoppa, Franco Interlenghi, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1961) 2018 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Viva L'Italia' is how Italy's historic national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi led a military campaign known as Expedition of the Thousand in 1860 and conquered Sicily and Naples.

Blu-ray Verdict: Directed by the legendary Roberto Rossellini, who himself was an Italian film director and screenwriter and one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing to the movement films such as the 1945 Roma città aperta, 'Viva L'Italia' is a stunning work of cinematic art, trust me.

Almost on a par with Director David Leans' brilliant 'Lawrence of Arabia', and perhaps even director Sergey Bondarchuk' 'Waterloo' (starring the always-engaging Rod Steiger), 'Viva L'Italia' also features some majestic battlefield moments. Capturing regalia, nationalistic unity, interwoven story lines, and excellent cinematography, Rossellini's 'Viva L'Italia' is a classic to truly behold; even now, after all these years.

Much of 'Viva L'Italia' observes from a distance, as Renzo Ricci's "Giuseppe Garibaldi" (the famed revolutionary who liberated southern Italy and played a large part in "il Risorgimento", the political/social movement which saw different "states" within the Italian peninsula coalesce into the single Republic of Italy) and his forces struggle to conquer the kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

His army of volunteer red shirts landing in Marsala and proceeding to very systematically overthrow King Francis II, other battles follow, but for the most part Rossellini's camera adopts a detached, cosmic tone, wandering about war-torn landscapes while battalions of men, tiny and ant-like, collide or jostle for position. Sadly, from my perspective, the only downfall of 'Viva L'Italia' is that the film remains trapped at the level of folk-myth, a problem which Rossellini's later films attempted to rectify. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:66.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Italian mono soundtracks with optional English subtitles
Garibaldi, an alternate shorter cut of the film originally prepared for the US market
Brand-new interview with Roberto Rossellini's assistant on the film, Ruggero Deodato, recorded exclusively for this release
'I Am Garibaldi', a brand-new visual essay by Tag Gallagher, author of The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini: His Life and Films
Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by filmmaker and critic Michael Pattison

'Viva l'Italia: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] will be made available to purchase on January 30th, 2018.

'Viva L'Italia: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'The Witches: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Clint Eastwood, Silvana Mangano, ‎‎Totò‎, Ninetto Davoli, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1967) 2018 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'The Witches' is a collection of five (5) short stories loosely dealing with the roles of women in society.

Produced by Dino De Laurentiis in 1965 and released in 1967 it consists of stories directed by Luchino Visconti, Franco Rossi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mauro Bolognini and Vittorio De Sica.

Blu-ray Verdict: These five shorts have an undeniable breezy quality, commenting on the freewheeling Italian lifestyle of the swingin' sixties and also offering some timeless period storytelling.

My personal favorite is "The Witch Burned Alive" where Visconti's work is redolent of Fellini's "Juliet of the Spirits"' upper class shenanigans; with the celebrity angle making Woody Allen's comments nearly half a century later seem, well, tired and inferior.

Silvana Mangano appears a bit, well, exhausted in this film and others of the series, like Christina Applegate on a bad day, but the costuming and Kitzbuehl apres ski setting in a chalet still make Visconti's short irresistible.

The Pasolini work ("The Earth As Seen From The Moon") is charming in a semi-dada-esque way, especially with the knowledge that the young male pimply faced "actor' may well have been really a boy toy from the streets of Roma. The story has a punk rock feel that rings with folkloric quirkiness and white magic.

"Civic Spirit" is the most emblematic of the five. Very au courant of the era, using an injured man as an excuse to barrel through Rome traffic at top speed under the guise of being hospital bound; while the driving beauty is really just using the poor hapless man as a shill to get to a rendezvous on time. Oh, and Silvana looks fabulous once again, as she rushes to meet her playboy date.

This film is on cable on occasion late at night and worth sitting through for the aficionado of these fine directors. Brava to Silvana, an actress largely forgotten in the pantheon of stars of international merit.

The shortest of the shorts is "The Sicilian Belle" (or "The Girl From Sicily") from Franco Rossi is the interesting tale of a Sicilian woman who tells her father a man made a pass at her. So, he does the only rational thing and retaliates by massacring the entire family!

That all said, the best 25 minutes of Clint Eastwood's career lurk inside this grab bag of shorts, "An Evening Like The Others". So good is he in Vittorio De Sica's brilliant segment (as the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit who unleashes his wife's libidinous Walter Middy), that you wonder what would have happened had Eastwood done more comedy! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:66.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Italian mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
Brand-new audio commentary by film critic and novelist Tim Lucas
Interview with actor Ninetto Davoli, recorded exclusively for this release
English-language version of Vittorio De Sica's episode, An Evening Like the Others, starring Clint Eastwood
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone and Kat Ellinger

'The Witches: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is now available for purchase.

'The Witches: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link

'Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold'
(Kate Micucci, Tara Strong, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, Diedrich Bader, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Batman teams up with the Scooby-Doo gang when villains from both of their worlds unite to wreak havoc on the city.

DVD Verdict: When Scooby-Doo and the gang run into notorious crooks that are too hot to handle, the caped crusader himself, Batman swings in to save the day!

After an unsolved case from Batman’s past comes back to haunt him, and the mysterious Crimson Cloak threatens to take over Gotham, Batman recruits Mystery Inc. to help crack the case.

In this truly awesome, so much fun to watch new animated movie, the legendary crime fighter finally (perhaps) meets his match and has to be bailed out my the mystery-solving mutt and his gang of average joe humans!

The funniest line in the ENTIRE movie though is when they are on the hunt for the bad guys in the Mystery Machine, trying to chase them down before they launch a massive attack against Gotham. Scooby-Doo is driving (!) and with Batman (and a surprisingly good vocal performance from Diedrich Bader therein) squashed in the back, he tells Scooby to go left, but Scooby goes right instead. "He doesn't know directions?", ponders Batman aloud, to which Daphne calmly responds, "Duh, he's a dog!" Classic!

So, will their teamwork be enough to solve the mystery and foil the plans of the most dangerous rogue villains the world has ever known? Pack your utility belts with gadgets and Scooby snacks to find out, as you takeoff for a wild crime-busting thrill ride of a caper! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair (Vintage Cartoon)
The Caped Crusader Caper (Vintage Cartoon)

'Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold' Trailer

'Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold' Exclusive Clip