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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Specials: 20th Anniversary Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Thomas Haden Church, Rob Lowe, Jamie Kennedy, Paget Brewster, Judy Greer, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2000) 2019 / La-La Land Entertainment)

Overview: La-La Land Entertainment will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Craig Mazin's film 'The Specials' (2000) with a brand new limited edition release, available for purchase on July 14th, 2020.

The sixth (or seventh) best superhero team in the world pursue their rightful place in the harshly competitive world of toy tie-ins and fighting evil!

Blu-ray Verdict: Bringing it to you from the off, this very special 20th Anniversary limited edition Blu-ray of the highly under-rated 'The Specials' also marks the film's world premiere release in high-definition.

Featuring a brand new 2K scan and restoration from the film's interpositive, with lossless 5.1 and 2.0 audio for the first time, new and vintage bonus features, and all-new front cover art by artist Paul Shipper, 'The Specials: 20th Anniversary Edition' [Blu-ray] is, quite easily, one of the best Blu-ray's to have landed here for review in a long, oh-so long time!

The foundation to this, at-times laugh out loud comedy, at others a dramedy with comedic underlay, is that at their modest suburban headquarters, The Strobe (Thomas Haden Church), The Weevil (Rob Lowe), foul-mouthed Amok (Jamie Kennedy), Ms. Indestructible (Paget Brewster, Deadly Girl (Judy Greer), new member Nightbird (Jordan Ladd) and the rest all spend their time bickering, having extramarital affairs, and preparing for the grand unveiling of their own action figure line!

But when a furious Strobe suddenly disbands the group, who will be there for the oddballs, rebels, outcasts and geeks? Even more worryingly, before they save the world, can they save themselves?

Also featuring Kelly Coffield (In Living Color), Michael Weatherly (Dark Angel), Chase Masterson (Deep Space Nine) and a blink and you'll miss it cameo from Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina), this hilarious, and now deservedly cult hit from director Craig Mazin (creator of HBO's Chernobyl) and screenwriter James Gunn (Writer/Director of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2), is a low-budget variant on Ben Stiller's 'Mystery Men' (that came out the year before this), albeit with a script that's about four times as good!

A film about superheroes that, thanks to an obviously small budget, features little to no special effects, and weirdly no scenes where the Specials demonstrate their powers (until the very end, of course), what we do get is a smartly written work that incorporates some fascinating characters.

Legendary director James Gunn (who also plays Minute Man), made every attempt to create believable human beings, "cursed" with superpowers that even they have yet to fully understand or barely harness.

Running at a highly entertaining 82 minutes, sure there are multiple layers of shallow parodies of comic book entries from down the years, but the interspersed gags along with an honest-to-God group breakdown that will have you begging for them to come back together (for the sake of the plot, let alone the world!), means that 'The Specials' still connects with us today.

I mean, simply put, 'The Specials' isn't really about superheroes being superheroes, but superheroes being real people. The fact that the superheroes take everything so seriously is the source of a lot of the movie's humor, of course.

But, and as aforementioned, the humor is so subtle, yet so obvious, that it doesn't have to always end in belly laughs to be funny. For me, well, it was hard at times to keep a straight face when Thomas Haden Church was acting as even in his serious moments, well, suffice to say he can crack you up with just an expressive look or grunt!

It even looks like all the actors had a blast making this movie and furthermore, Director Craig Mazin maintains a constant snappy pace throughout, whilst doing an expert job of creating a dry, yet infectiously zany tone.

In closing, the funky, catchy soundtrack, Brian Langsbard's stirring score, and Eliot Rockett's polished cinematography are all likewise up to speed, but what really makes this movie so funny and enjoyable are the spirited and engaging performances from the uniformly excellent cast.

FYI: During the end credits we see an "In Memory: 1970-1993" reference and picture of Mr. Stretch, an original member of the Specials that we are told died of mouth cancer in one of the interview segments! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the copious amount of Special Features such as:

NEW 2K REMASTER OF THE FILM from an interpositive
Theatrical Trailer
Moro's Magic: The 'Specials' effects - Featurette
Audio Commentary with Director Craig Mazin, Writer/Actor James Gunn, Producer Mark A. Altman and Visual Effects Supervisor Mojo recorded in 2000
Audio Commentary with Writer/Actor James Gunn and Actress Paget Brewster recorded in 2005
Deleted Scenes
Wedding Video
Toy Commercial
Behind the Scenes Photos

'The Specials: 20th Anniversary Edition' [Blu-ray] is out July 14th, 2020 via La-La Land Entertainment.

20th Anniversary Blu-ray Red Band Blu-ray Trailer

'Legion of Super Heroes: The Complete Series'
(Michael Cornacchia, Adam Wylie, Kari Wahlgren, Andy Milder, Yuri Lowenthal, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / (2006-2008) 2020 / Warner Archive Collection)

Overview: One thousand years from now the legendary Man of Steel inspires a group of emerging young heroes from the 31st century to band together and defend the newly formed United Planets.

That is, if they don't kill each other first!

Blu-ray Verdict: Taking it from the top, 'Legion of Super Heroes' was originally developed because of Cartoon Network's desire to have a Superman-centric series to coincide with the movie 'Superman Returns' (2006) and Superman as part of the Legion worked for them.

When Cartoon Network passed on the show, Kids WB! stepped in and they, too, wanted a Superman-centric series with Superman fresh out of Smallville, learning to be Superman.

Add to that the early promotional literature noted that Clark Kent would be called Superboy, as in the comics, and I assume that you also felt that shiver go down your spine!

However, a court ruling awarding copyright to that specific character to creator Jerry Siegel's family and thus prompted Warner Brothers to change the premise by having Clark's superhero identity be simply a young Superman.

All that aside, and with both the cancellation of the 'Teen Titans' (developed by Glen Murakami and Sam Register) and then the reveal of the not-so-great (on oh-so many levels) direct-to-video animated film 'Superman: Brainiac Attacks' reigning down in 2006, I was personally fearing for the future of intelligently-written and superbly-drawn DC superhero cartoons.

But then, and with a bulk of Legion's animation having been done at Korea's Dong Woo and Lotto studios (which, founded in 1991, has produced many wonderous animated series and films), something different came along.

Whereas 'Teen Titans' had both its very dark story lines (come on, at times it did, you know it did) and its uber-comedic moments (which we all loved, even to this day still quoting), 'Legion of Super Heroes' stuck to a more straight-forward, rigidly classic superhero feel.

Throw into this whole scenario of wicked excellent, and at all times uber colorful nostalgia, a bunch of Easter Eggs and homages for fans of all things DC (especially Superman, but no, I will not reveal them here for you), the team's aim was to, simply put, save the world (or rather, the galaxy) at all costs.

In Season One, Legionnaires Bouncing Boy (Michael Cornacchia), Brainiac 5 (Adam Wylie), Saturn Girl (Kari Wahlgren) and Lightning Lad (Andy Milder) travel back in time to convince an awkward teen named Clark Kent (Yuri Lowenthal) to join their Legion of Super Heroes and battle their arch nemeses, the Fatal Five.

The insecure teen is, in turn, inspired by his new friends and, with their help, begins his journey to become the galaxy's greatest hero.

Catching up two years later, Season Two presents Superman and the Legion with an even greater challenge: Kell-El, the Superman of the 41st century!

Originally titled, 'Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes' (as aforementioned above), what we have here is a very rich girl named A-LEX-is, who has a special interest in Superman, and later gets all her hair burnt off (but settle down, it's not permanent!)

Any guesses who she turns out to become, perhaps? No? Seriously! OK then, moving right along and we also come across a being called Drax, who escapes from the Phantom Zone, and then pulls out some unexplained weakness of Clark's (a green rock of some kind!) - oh, and who answers to some supreme being that appears to want out of the Phantom Zone!

The animation is highly stylized, though not distracting, and the themes are surprisingly deep for a children's cartoon - but, believe me, this is a very good thing!

That doesn't mean it's violent, though. While the characters get knocked around fairly often (I mean, this is a super hero show, after all), there's no more violence than one could expect from any other rated show of this ilk.

The characters are very realistic and not only do they speak like real people, but they're constantly growing, changing, and capable of error.

OK, I said I wouldn't reveal any of the Easter Eggs, but I will let this slip, as I think it's just so damn brilliant! As we know, 'Legion of Super Heroes' also gives some nods to the comic books and Superman mythos, in general.

For example, in a bout of insanity, Brainy exclaims, "Red ants! Red ants! Superman shouldn't play with red ants" (which I'm sure all Superman junkies will understand immediately), so it's enjoyable for kids and comic book fans alike.

Unfortunately, and wrongly in my book, it was cancelled after season two and some 26 episodes, and even though I don't think I would have personally taken Brainiac 5 the route they did re: being a "transformer" who may, or may not be an upgrade of the original Braniac, the psychic rings of Saturn emanating latitudinally from Imra's head is a quite brilliant visual (even for animation levels back some 14 years ago!). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

We Are Legion (9:05) - This 2007 promotional featurette was originally included on Warner Bros.' Legion of Super Heroes Volume 1 DVD collection.

Commentary on Series Finale: Dark Victory, Parts 1 and 2 - This exclusive new commentary track features producer James Tucker, director Brandon Vietti, and voice actor Kari Wahlgren (Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet), and is moderated by the Warner Archive Podcast team of D.W. Ferranti and Matt Patterson.

Warner Archive Collection continues its proud tradition of distributing the best of Warner Bros. Animation’s robust library of DC-based productions with the release of 'Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series' on Blu-rayTM starting July 14th, 2020.

Official Purchase Link

'The Berenstain Bears: Bear Family Vacation'
(2-Disc DVD / G / 2020 / PBS Kids)

Overview: It's time to hit the road with the Bear Family!

First, the family arrives at a mountain cabin. Although Papa promises the best vacation ever, things don't go according to plan!

Then, the family heads to an amusement park where brother boasts to his friends that he can ride the thunderbolt rollercoaster.

Plus, the family tours Bear Country's National Parks, hosts a family reunion and more!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, 'The Berenstain Bears' began as a children's literature franchise created by Stan and Jan Berenstain and continued by their son, Mike Berenstain; who assumed partial authorship in 2002, and full authorship in 2012 following Jan's death.

The books feature a family of anthropomorphic grizzly bears who generally learn a moral or safety-related lesson in the course of each story.

Indeed, since the 1962 debut of the first Berenstain Bears book, The Big Honey Hunt, the series has grown to over 300 titles, which have sold approximately 260 million copies in 23 languages.

Of course, as we know, 'The Berenstain Bears' franchise has also expanded well beyond the books, encompassing two television series and a wide variety of other products and licenses.

While enjoying decades of popularity and receiving numerous awards, the series has been applauded for portraying many tales of bravery, caring for others, and learning responsibility well beyond The Bears' young years.

Furthermore, 'The Berenstain Bears' is sensibly written to appeal to younger children (preschool and kindergarten age) and teach them values at the same time.

In this age of redundant stupidity in entertainment, parents need a show like this one to help illustrate how fair life should be, and give a firm footing to children, not overwhelm them with glitz, glam and gloss.

By keeping plots simple and allowing children to follow along at their level, this show simply teaches children how to be fair, consider other's feelings and have good sportsmanship.

These are core values which are not being taught to children at daycare dumps or underfunded public schools, in my humble opinion.

In the main episode, 'Too Much Vacation,' the family getaway is a disaster: the cabin's roof leaks, the lake is muddy, and the mosquitoes are ravenous.

But when the bears return home and develop their snapshots, they laugh and laugh, fully enjoying the worst vacation they've ever had!

So yeah, The Berenstain Bears learn yet another important in this installment of their series: there's no place like home. Many things go wrong on their trip, but they happily laugh at photos of it once they returned to the safety of their home.

In closing, here in 'The Berenstain Bears: Bear Family Vacation' we get a wonderful 80 minutes of tales encompassing six (6) singular episodes: Too Much Vacation - Visit Fun Park - The Haunted Lighthouse - By the Sea - Car Trip - Family Get-Together. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Experience: George W. Bush'
(2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: In this two-part, four-hour look at the life and presidency of George W. Bush, follow his unorthodox road to the presidency through the contested election of 2000, when a Supreme Court ruling resulted in his becoming the 43rd President.

The film chronicles the tumultuous events, domestically and internationally, that dominated Bush's eight years in office.

DVD Verdict: The latest in AMERICAN EXPERIENCE's award-winning series of presidential biographies, 'American Experience: George W. Bush' offers a dutiful look at the 43rd president, spread over four hours and two discs.

Perhaps inevitably, though, the omissions feel more significant than some of the material that's covered, and the steadfast focus on his presidency fails to shed much light on the man himself.

As aforementioned, 'American Experience: George W. Bush' chronicles the tumultuous events, domestically and internationally, that dominated Bush's eight years in office - including the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the subsequent war in Iraq, the search for weapons of mass destruction, Hurricane Katrina, and the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.

But, and again, as aforementioned, most of the biographical information sheds relatively little light on Bush as a person, other than the fairly well-worn questions about his relationship with his father, having "felt overlooked and underappreciated" when George H.W. Bush was elected president and the focus on the next bearer of the family name with serious political aspirations shifted to brother Jeb.

Similarly, when Bush won a second term - a form of vindication after the divisive, controversial outcome of the 2000 election - the narration notes that he "took a journey from the White House to the Capitol that his father had been denied."

One of the stand out moments for me, in retrospect, working with his senior staff, President George W. Bush reviews the speech that he will deliver to the nation the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 11th, 2001, from the Oval Office. Moving is an understatement.

In closing, for anyone who followed the reporting about the Iraq war, most of 'American Experience: George W. Bush' plays mostly like a rehash, despite interviews with many key figures who worked in the Bush administration, including chiefs of staff Andy Card and Joshua Bolten, press secretary Ari Fleischer, Rove and others.

The biggest disappointment, however, is that 'American Experience: George W. Bush' pays virtually no attention to the 11 years since Bush left office.

Bush has, in fact, scrupulously maintained a low profile - making his participation in "The Call to Unite" event this last weekend, and the tweet griping about him by President Trump, more noteworthy.

Indeed, there has been some debate about Bush's legacy in the broader context of the Obama and Trump presidencies, a potentially fertile area that goes unexplored. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'American Experience: Mr. Tornado'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Meteorologist Tetsuya Theodore "Ted" Fujita spent ten months studying The Super Outbreak of 1974, which was the most intense tornado outbreak on record.

'Mr. Tornado' is the remarkable story of the man whose groundbreaking work in research and applied science saved thousands of lives and helped Americans prepare for and respond to dangerous weather phenomena.

DVD Verdict: The Super Outbreak of 1974 was the most intense tornado outbreak on record, tearing a vicious path of destruction across thirteen states, generating 148 tornadoes from Alabama to Ontario, damaging thousands of homes, and killing more than 300 people.

Meteorologist Tetsuya Theodore "Ted" Fujita spent ten months studying the outbreak's aftermath in the most extensive aerial tornado study ever conducted, and through detailed mapping and leaps of scientific imagination, made a series of meteorological breakthroughs.

In one of the most interesting documentaries I have seen in the past decade (or more), we eagerly watch along and learn that Fujita's discovery of "microbursts," sudden high wind patterns that could cause airplanes to drop from the sky without warning, transformed aviation safety and saved untold numbers of lives.

While many meteorologists today rely upon computers to do their analyses, Fujita preferred to do his own, according to Chicago meteorologist Duane Stiegler. “He used to say that the computer doesn’t understand these things,” said Stiegler, who worked closely with Fujita from 1977 until the latter’s death.

In the 1950s, Fujita began conducting pioneering research in the field of mesometeorology, the study of middle-sized, atmospheric phenomena such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

By the end of his career, he had received nearly $12 million in grants from agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.

Fujita made the first color movie of planet Earth in 1967, a technique now widely used on television weather reports. Fujita made the movie using 34 color pictures taken at 30-minute intervals from the ATS-III satellite whose orbit provided a stationary view of the Earth.

The satellite was equipped with a camera stable enough to accurately determine cloud motion relative to the Earth’s rotating surface.

“After devising the Fujita Tornado Scale with his wife Sumiko in 1971, he became known as ‘Mr. Tornado,’” Partacz said. Fujita’s six-point F-scale ranges from F0, winds of 40 to 72 miles an hour and minor damage, to F5, winds of 261 to 319 miles an hour and massive destruction.

“His investigation of the Eastern Airlines Flight 66 aircraft accident in 1975 at New York’s JFK Airport led him to discover the killer winds he called microbursts,” Partacz said.

“This important discovery helped to prevent microburst accidents that previously had killed more than 500 airline passengers at major U.S. airports.”

The starburst patterns of uprooted trees found in forests following tornadoes led Fujita to his theory of microburst winds. He had seen similar patterns years before — when he had visited Nagasaki and Hiroshima just weeks after the atomic bombs were dropped to observe shock-wave effects on trees and structures in the devastated areas.

The theory stirred controversy for years. Many meteorologists found it difficult to believe in the concept of a microburst, a small-sized downdraft that could induce an outburst of 150-mile-an-hour winds on or near the ground.

But Fujita continued to collect data in critical field experiments with imaginative acronyms: NIMROD (Northern Illinois Meteorological Research on Downburst in Chicago’s western suburbs, including O’Hare Airport, 1978-79), JAWS (Joint Airport Weather Studies, Denver, 1982-86), and MIST (Microburst and Severe Thunderstorm project, Huntsville, Ala., 1986-88).

Fujita’s data eventually led to the widespread acceptance of the microburst concept and to the installation of Doppler radar at airports to improve aviation safety. Learn more about this amazing man in the just-released 'American Experience: Mr. Tornado,' out now on PBS DVD. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Man Who Tried To Feed The World'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: 'The Man Who Tried to Feed the World' recounts the story of Norman Borlaug, a man who not only solved India's famine problem but would go on to lead a "Green Revolution" of worldwide agriculture programs estimated to have saved one billion lives.

He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work but spent the rest of his life watching his methods and achievements come under increasing fire.

DVD Verdict: In 1966, drought and an exploding population confronted India with the imminent threat of a severe famine that many scientists and intellectuals feared was a harbinger of global catastrophes to come, as the world's population outstripped its ability to produce food.

India turned to Norman Borlaug, an unassuming plant breeder from Iowa whose combination of scientific knowledge and raw determination had made him a legend among a small handful of fellow specialists.

'American Experience: The Man Who Tried To Feed The World' informs us that Dr. Borlaug, a central figure in the “green revolution”, was born on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, to Henry and Clara Borlaug.

For nearly three decades, he collaborated with Mexican scientists on problems of wheat improvement; for the last ten or so of those years he had also collaborated with scientists from other parts of the world, especially from India and Pakistan, in adapting the new wheats to new lands and in gaining acceptance for their production.

An eclectic, pragmatic, goal-oriented scientist, we learn that he accepted and discarded methods or results in a constant search for more fruitful and effective ones, while at the same time avoiding the pursuit of what he calls “academic butterflies”.

He spent countless hours hunched over in the blazing Mexican sun as he manipulated tiny wheat blossoms to cross different strains. To speed the work, he set up winter and summer operations in far-flung parts of Mexico, logging thousands of miles over poor roads.

He also battled illness, forded rivers in flood, dodged mudslides and sometimes slept in tents.

He was by then a trained scientist holding a doctoral degree in plant diseases. But as he sought to coax better performance from the wheats of Mexico, he relied on a farm boy’s instinctive feel for the plants and the soil in which they grew.

Even around the time of his passing in 2009, Dr. Borlaug was participating in extensive experimentation with triticale, a man-made species of grain derived from a cross between wheat rye that shows promise of being superior to either wheat or rye in productivity and nutritional quality.

Learn much more about this incredible man in the just-released 'American Experience: The Man Who Tried To Feed The World,' out now on DVD from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Somewhere South, Season 1'
(Chef Vivian Howard / 2-Disc DVD / PG / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Chef Vivian Howard explores cross-cultural dishes through the professional and personal relationships she has with southerners of many backgrounds.

Each episode of Somewhere South explores the connectivity of a single dish, and the ways people of different backgrounds interpret that dish while expressing the complex values, identities, and histories that make up the American South.

DVD Verdict: In six one-hour episodes, chef and author Vivian Howard digs deeper into the lesser known roots of Southern food, Southern cooking, and Southern living.

Her curiosity has made her beloved by the millions of people who watched her grow into an award-winning television host, bestselling author, and celebrated chef over five seasons of A Chef's Life.

With 'Somewhere South', Howard serves as both student and guide, exploring cross-cultural dishes through the professional and personal relationships she has with southerners of many backgrounds.

Each episode of Somewhere South explores the connectivity of a single dish, and the ways people of different backgrounds interpret that dish while expressing the complex values, identities, and histories that make up the American South.

'Somewhere South' lets viewers meet their neighbors while exploring the foods that bind and define the American South - one dish at a time.

In the first episode, American as Hand Pie, Howard's first stop is to the North Carolina company whose version of the sweet treat fed thousands of mill workers and now lines the shelves of convenience stores and gas stations across the Southeast.

That hand pie lesson prompts a trip to West Virginia’s coal mining country, which offers a taste of their signature pepperoni rolls made by Italian immigrants who used what they had to create what became an ubiquitous treat inside coal miners’ lunch pails.

In another episode, Dumpling Dilemma, while cooking a charity dinner with Southern-Korean chefs, Howard spins out her version of French gnocchi to be served alongside Asian dumplings descended from the Chinese royal court tradition.

During their discussion, the chefs realize that while they all understand what a dumpling is, they can’t actually define it. On her quest to figure out that conundrum, Vivian quickly learns that no one culture can define a dumpling.

So she heads to Mississippi to visit with longtime Chinese communities in the Delta for a complicated history lesson over dim sum.

In another great episode, How Do You ‘Cue?, Southerners are particular about the way they cook and eat barbecue. No dish says eastern North Carolina more than the region’s signature whole hog barbecue; however, the art of cooking meat over fire and smoke is one shared by all cultures.

On a tour of eastern North Carolina barbecue joints, Vivian is reminded of traditions that define the area’s version of pork barbecue while being introduced to new techniques.

Flipping what she already knows about ‘cue, Howard sets out to uncover buried barbecue histories and to learn about the unexpected ways that different types of meat are smoked, pit-cooked, wood-fired and eaten.

Learn much more about this delightful Chef and her tasty trips (with the other episodes being: Porridge For The Soul, What A Pickle and It's A Greens Thing) in the just-released 'Somewhere South, Season 1' out now on DVD from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Titans Of The 20th Century'
(2-Disc DVD / PG / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: This series is about the four most powerful individuals of modern times: Franklin D Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.

These were people who came from different parts of the world, espoused radically different political doctrines and seem to have had no common characteristics except an ambition to lead, a taste for power and a belief that they had been chosen by destiny.

DVD Verdict: Simply put, 'Titans Of The 20th Century' is a parallel biography of the most significant figures of the twentieth century from the last shot fired in the First World War to the victory of Mao Zedong.

A story of the power to lead and mislead, to inspire and to cause mass destruction.

Indeed, this is a series which is at its core about the four most powerful individuals of modern times: Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR), Winston Churchill (Winnie), Adolf Hitler (The Führer) and Josef Stalin (Uncle Jo).

These were people who came from different parts of the world, espoused radically different political doctrines and seem to have had no common characteristics except an ambition to lead, a taste for power and a belief that they had been chosen by destiny.

Here we get down and dirty with the facts and find out much more about these four men than we ever knew existed. Such as with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who whilst in college, fell in love with Theodore Roosevelt's niece (and his own distant cousin), Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, and they married in 1905.

Encouraged by his wife, Eleanor, FDR appointed more women to federal posts than any previous president; he also included black Americans in federal job programs (though they remained largely segregated).

Winston Churchill’s mother was an American and a rather daring escape from prison camp earned him instant fame! He also organized a massive World War I attack that failed spectacularly and most of his famous speeches came within a few months of each other.

As for Adolf Hitler, well, taking it from the top, Hitler was almost Adolf Schicklgruber. Or Adolf Hiedler. His father, Alois, was born out of wedlock to Maria Anna Schicklgruber and given her surname.

However, when he was about 40 years old, Alois decided to adopt the last name of his stepfather, Johann Georg Hiedler, who some speculated was actually his biological father.

On the legal documents, Hitler was given as the new last name, though the reason for the spelling change is unknown.

And finally we get, Josef Stalin, whose mother, a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, actually wanted him to become a priest!

Furthermore, in 1888, she managed to enroll him in church school in Gori. Stalin did well in school, and his efforts gained him a scholarship to Tiflis Theological Seminary in 1894.

However, a year later, Stalin came in contact with Messame Dassy, a secret organization that supported Georgian independence from Russia. Some of the members were socialists who introduced him to the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Stalin joined the group in 1898.

The rest, as they say (and for all of these noted four men, is history! Learn much more about these notable figures of history in the just-released 'Titans Of The 20th Century' out now on DVD from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Greatest Bond'
(DVD / PG / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: 'The Greatest Bond' is an inspirational documentary, highlighting the journey of disabled veterans whose lives are changed through the unconditional love of service dogs that have been trained by female prison inmates.

Join three veterans as they meet their service dog and work with the inmates in a Texas women's prison. Witness these men's transformation, as each dog expands the veteran's world and heals their hearts.

DVD Verdict: A touching and inspirational one-hour documentary special, shot in observational style, 'The Greatest Bond' is an in-depth chronicle about the high cost of war on the brave heroes and heroines who fight for our freedom.

Over the course of one hour we follow a group of disabled US veterans who are about to be given a service dog. We see their transformation as the dog expands the veteran's world and heals their hearts.

Not only do these dogs help the veterans on a very practical level, they provide constant emotional support, protection and relief from the terrors of their combat-related PTSD.

Peppered among the vulnerable and broken veteran stories, we will also experience the lighthearted joy of the puppies, the redirected lives of the female inmates and the good-natured humor of the Patriot Paws trainers.

'The Greatest Bond' centers around a service dog organization called Patriot Paws based in Dallas, Texas. Many of these traumatized men and women come to Patriot Paws in their darkest hours, as a last resort.

While the service dogs help on a fundamentally practical level, the audience will be left with the knowledge that ultimately these dogs save lives.

Simply put, the mission of Patriot Paws is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence.

We learn that Patriot Paws intends to build partnerships with the state and community organizations to help develop and support this goal.

Even more incredible is the following list of just some services provided to assist disabled veterans in accomplishing daily tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible:

Get help in emergencies - Recognize and avert PTSD episodes - Pick up and retrieve items - Open and close doors - Pull wheelchairs - Provide bracing to stand, walk, and sit down - Help with chores, such as laundry, and amongst others, Take off shoes and socks.

Funded entirely by private donations, this 501(c)(3) organization places service dogs with veterans free of charge, nationwide. Certified by ADI. Learn much more about this incredible organization in the just-released 'The Greatest Bond' out now on DVD from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Scoob!' (Blu-ray + Digital Code)
(Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / NR / 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: 'Scoob!' reveals the never-before-told story of Scooby’s origins. It shows how one of history’s most famous friendships began when an adorable, homeless puppy met a lonesome young boy named Shaggy, and how the two of them joined forces with aspiring young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to become the celebrated Mystery Inc.

Blu-ray Verdict: Well, in truth, 'Scoob!' is most likely going to be the entry in the Scooby-Doo franchise that is going to equally divide its audience - with each side giving its own valid reasons, of course.

Some viewers are going to appreciate the modernization of the story, while others will wish it had stayed in the late 1960s. Some are going to get a kick out of the pop culture references, while others will ask themselves why they are even in a Scooby-Doo movie.

Some will appreciate the superhero theme, while others will forget that Blue Falcon and Dynomutt have existed in the past. Some will recoil at the childish crude humor, while others may giggle at it.

For me personally, the casting of this movie is excellent for Jason Issacs does a great Dick Dastardly, and Ken Jeong is amazing as Dynomutt - and his dialogue is wonderful too!

In fact, it was fun seeing him do a "serious character" for a change. Oh, and one of my favorite scenes is at the beginning on Halloween when they solve their first mystery after meeting each other (the other is at the end when they fight Cerberus).

As always, the overall theme of the movie is friendship, an important thing right now, especially because it is something everyone should have, to enable us all to get through these most trying of times.

Some longtime Hanna-Barbara fanatics are going to love the tie-in with other characters - such as the aforementioned Dick Dastardly and Muttley, Captain Caveman, and during the end credits, we see Atom Ant, The Great Grape Ape, Jabberjaw, Dr. Frankenstein, and Dr. Benton Quest, who is himself currently developing R.O.S.I.E.), while others are going to call it a forced attempt to kick-start a shared universe.

It'll be very interesting to see how the overall consensus falls, and it'll also be up to the individual to form its own opinion. At the end of the day, it's a kids' film and, for all intents and purposes, that's the best anyone can say about it.

It does what it can to introduce this franchise to a younger generation through those quirks and contemporary computer animation, while at the same time, it does have enough weight in the story and aims closer to the source material than more recent attempts - even when it doesn't always digest easy.

Of course, it'll be up to you to decide where this lands. Obviously, it's more focused at entertaining today's kids than being a great entry in the Scooby-Doo canon.

However, if it connects with the long-time meddling kids that grew up with the characters for over half a century, then it has definitely earned its extra Scooby Snack points! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes (including alternate opening)
How To Draw Scooby Doo (with director Tony Cervone)
New Friends, Newer Villains
And Puppies!!

Learn the origins of Mystery Inc. and prepare for adventure when “SCOOB!” arrives on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Official Trailer

'Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection' [Blu-ray]
(Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Tom Kratochvil, et al / 10-Disc Blu-ray / NR / (1975-1979) 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: 'Wonder Woman,' the beloved 1970s live-action television series starring Lynda Carter, has been remastered and is coming to Blu-ray™ on July 28th, 2020.

Blu-ray Verdict: Save the world? That’s a man’s job! Then along comes star-spangled Wonder Woman with her bullet-deflecting bracelets and golden lariat to set everyone straight!

With Lynda Carter staring as the title character, Season One features adventures in Wonder Woman’s original World War II era, while Seasons Two and Three whoosh forward to the disco-loving ‘70s.

Times change. The need to smash evil, calamity and injustice does not!

In all truth, the stories of 'Wonder Woman' have always been a favorite of mine, despite the often weak stories and tongue-in-cheek sensibilities, of course.

It was just such a fun show, with a perfectly cast lead. Lynda carter wasn't likely to win any acting awards, sure, I'll grant you that, but she played the character straight and looked the part too.

She had great charisma and was fairly athletic (and had a great stunt double, as it has subsequently been revealed down the years) and looked fantastic on screen.

She made the rather ludicrous costume work, something other actors have struggled with in superhero movies and television.

Personally, I prefer the first season, set in the 1940's. Yes, it looked like a studio lot, but it was more interesting; like a view from another world.

Of course, a few anachronisms showed up in costuming, but nothing too jarring. The main plus was the Nazis as villains. This helped make up for the lack of real Wonder Woman villains, of which there were few exceptional ones in the comics.

As stated earlier, Lynda Carter was perfectly cast. She looked like the character, had a great figure (still does, too), and was gorgeous. That said, Lyle Waggoner made for a nice Steve Trevor, if a bit bland.

He was never that impressive as an actor and got by on looks, in my humble opinion. Carter wasn't an Emmy contender either, but she had a better handle on the material, as aforementioned.

It would have been nice to see a few more villains from the series, like Giganta or the Cheetah, but Fausta and Baroness Paula Von Gunther were fine; although the Baroness was rather weak, compared to the comic version from the 40's.

Fausta could have been used a few times before being reformed, but c'est la vie, as they say.

In my opinion, the series suffered when it was moved to the present (well, the '70s, as were). The concept seemed to work better in the 40's, and the villains were less impressive. Also, the wetsuit and skateboard costumes were just plain silly, sorry!

Add to that, Carter's confident performance did indeed have a great run on-screen, but as with all good things, it came to an end when they tried to relocate Wonder Woman to L.A., bring in an annoying kid character, and have her boss act just like the boss of Starsky and Hutch!

So, my own personal favorites episodes include the quite brilliant pilot ("The New Original Wonder Woman") and succeeding two specials (first three episodes) and the two-part "Feminum Mystique" (debut of Wonder Girl).

That said, there are some interesting facts to know and discover this original 'Wonder Woman' series. Such as in season two's "Mind Stealers From Outer Space" (two-parter), aside from the obvious 'Star Wars' "borrowing of scenery and theme, there's also stock footage from 'This Island Earth' (1955).

Also in season two's excellent "The Bermuda Triangle Crisis," they use stock footage of the submarine Seaview from 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' (1964-68) and in season three's brilliant "Time Bomb," where people from earth's future appear in the '70s, stock footage from the brilliant, and wholly under-rated 'Space 1999' (1974-77) is used.

And whilst I'm at it, season three's "The Boy Who Knew Her Secret" (two-parter) is actually rather a misleading episode title as this is way more about remaking 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' (1956).

So, I hear you ask, why the switch to crazy sci-fi episodes in Season 3? Well, the show got a new producer that year, Bruce Lansbury, who was known for a cult sci-fi series re: 'The Fantastic Journey' (1977).

He brought with him a new music composer, Richard LaSalle (ex-'Land Of The Giants'), and you could say that Lansbury and LaSalle turned the 'Wonder Woman' series upside down, I guess!

Simply put, these 'Wonder Woman' seasons one to three are a great way to introduce a whole new generation that wasn't born when the classic show first aired on ABC Saturday Nights, and CBS Friday Nights.

Indeed, 'Wonder Woman' is less on the level of the George Reeves 'Superman' and the Adam West 'Batman', and more on the level of some of the great '70s action adventures like 'Charlie's Angels' and 'Kojak'.

Every episode is original, and our comic book heroine battles foes from Nazis to domestic terrorists, to intergalactic criminals. This was one classic television program from back in the day that NEEDS a new generational audience and now out on remastered Blu-ray, I get the feeling it will.

Now remastered and coming to Blu-ray™ from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on July 28th, 2020, this excellent 'Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection' houses all three seasons of the great show and sets you up perfectly for the upcoming 'Wonder Woman 1984' (with Gal Gadot).

Oh, yeah, once last thing, for the film that follows that, Patty Jenkins, how about Lynda Carter as Hippolyta! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

The collection also includes such Bonus Features as Audio Commentary on the film pilot by Lynda Carter alongside executive producer Douglas S. Cramer, as well as Commentary by Carter on Season 3's premiere episode, "My Teenage Idol Is Missing."

There are also three featurettes: "Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective," "Revolutionizing a Classic: From Comic Book to Television" and "Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Feminist Icon."

Out of the three, my favorite is the expansive, 20 minute long "Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective", where even Carter herself admits that she doesn't think there's ever been anyone quite like Wonder Woman in the world!

It gets revealed, by the man himself, Executive Producer Douglas Kramer, that he went into the show with the reputation of being the "master of camp in Hollywood," which explains why as a kid at ABC (in the program department) his dream of putting a comic book on television soon came to fruition.

It brings us the facts of how 'Wonder Woman' (the TV show) originated from the comic books set in 1941, how they chose to push on through the male-dominated comic book and TV show era (Batman, Superman, et al) by determinedly bringing the female Wonder Woman to celluloid life, and even how Lynda Carter herself was chosen to play the lead role.

Oh, and how about this for a juicy factoid: William Moulton Marston, also known by the pen name Charles Moulton was an American psychologist who, with his wife Elizabeth Holloway, invented an early prototype of the lie detector -- he was also known as a self-help author and comic book writer who actually created the character of Wonder Woman!

The 'Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection' Blu-ray box set (USA $64.99 SRP, Canada $69.99 CAN) comes complete with all 59 episodes, plus the treasured pilot movie, across 10 discs.

'Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection' comes to Blu-ray on July 28th, 2020 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

'The Phantom Rider: Restored Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Buck Jones, Marla Shelton, Diana Gibson, Harry Woods, Frank Larue, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / VCI Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: Buck Jones, the great king of outdoor adventure drama in his most exciting and mysterious role? Playing a daring lone hand against a band of ruthless outlaws, who stop at nothing to steal control of every ranch in the valley and the fabulous gold mine of one of their victims!

Not even the girl he loved and fought for knew who he was? An amazing series of daring adventures and astounding escapades!

Spine-tingling mystery - breath taking suspense and a thousand thrills!

Blu-ray Verdict: VCI Entertainment now brings us another Classic Cliffhanger, fully restored from a new 2K scan of Universal Pictures' original 35mm film masters and for the for time ever on Blu-ray.

'The Phantom Rider was a 15-episode serial in which Buck Grant, the Phantom Rider, helps rancher, Mary Grayson, fight off a band of outlaws out to seize her property.

1. Dynamite 2. The Maddened Herd 3. The Brink of Disaster 4. The Phantom Rides 5. Trapped by Outlaws 6. Shot Down 7. Stark Terror 8. The Night Attack 9. The Indians Attack 10. Human Targets 11. The Shaft of Doom 12. Flaming Gold 13. Crashing Timbers 14. The Last Chance 15. The Outlaw's Vengeance

OK, so, to set the scene, so to speak, Buck Grant (Jones) is an undercover State Ranger, tasked, with assistance from Judge Holmes (Frank LaRue) with rounding up a gang of outlaws who have been trying to drive ranchers out of the region.

Buck himself poses as what they term a "nester" to hide his connection with the State, but soon thereafter disguises himself - dressed all in white to match his horse Silver - as "The Phantom Rider" (whilst stating that the new get-up will instill a dread of fear in them there outlaws.

As for Buck's "Phantom" disguise, well, in what I can only assume for its time, featuring a masked hero must have been like walking a tightrope on set for the audio engineers as surely that mask tended to muffle the actors' voice? I mean, not only Buck's but his cohorts and the bad guys too, of course.

But from what I can hear now, remastered and restored from the 2K original studio film masters, their voices here today are all crisp and understandable.

Moving on, and whilst embedded at Hidden Valley Ranch (isn't that the same place they make the dressing?!), he quickly ascertains - whilst the owner, Jeff Grayson (Lafe McKee) is off prospecting - that neither his daughter Mary (Marla Shelton) and her friend from the East, Helen Moore (Diana Gibson) appear to be outlaws.

Buck's assistant Spooky (George Cooper) are now embedded further into the ranch which allows more characters to get some screen time, like the wealthy and respected rancher Harvey Delaney (Harry Woods), whose interests seem to include the aforementioned Mary.

So, whilst the outlaws rustle cattle, their goal is to get control of the ranches in the region to profit from the coming of the railroad.

Sure, and especially for it's time, 'The Phantom Rider' doesn't exactly have an original plot, but it serves the purpose mighty well, and must have slipped perfectly into the television watching patterns of those tuned in, back in 1936.

Other exponents that propel the storyline, whilst also adding sub-plots and side ventures to fill our minds as we watch, are a gold mine, renegade Indians (from what seems to be, for all intents and purposes, a rather peaceful tribe), Buck getting arrested on a false murder charge, and the appearance of some musical entertainers (Cactus Mack and His Saddle Tramps) - who show up in the saloon and at the ranch several times, but who we only actually hear three songs from.

OK, sure, the action is slow in some places, focusing more on the sub-plots that either distract or waver, according to who they are based around, but with Buck Jones at his finest comedic and dead pan best, the show was always going to be a might fine hit.

Add to that some great performances by the rest of the cast, which includes, in my book, stand outs from Harry Woods and his gang of underlings, and lest we forget the many background actors that had appeared in most all movies and TV shows of this ilk up until that point, and I'm sure all those viewers familiar from other serials and westerns akin to this would not have had one compliant.

As noted, this restored version is sourced from material in Universal's archives, thus the image quality is outstanding, although there are some filtering moments on display; noticeable grain field, albeit one that ebbs and flows.

And, in general, the overall quality of the sound is also very good, with little noise, low distortion and good frequency response. All the dialogue is presented crisply and clearly - even from behind the masks, for the most part - although that would also account for patches of speech that now sound a wee bit hollow, without much resonance, shall we say.

But, in truth, with 90-year old stock like this, we are truly blessed to get what we get, and VCI Entertainment have done an excellent job here in restoring this from the 2K original studio film masters for a whole new generation (or two, or even three!) to enjoy. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.37:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer, and with Audio in English LPCM 2.0 Mono.

The 'The Phantom Rider: Restored Edition' [Blu-ray] will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.99.

Official Purchase Link

'Hiroshima: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Eiji Okada, Yumeji Tsukioka, Yoshi Katô, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1953) 2020 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: 'Hiroshima' (1953) is a powerful evocation of the devastation wrought by the world's first deployment of the atomic bomb and its aftermath, based on the written eye-witness accounts of its child survivors compiled by Dr. Arata Osada for the 1951 book Children Of The A Bomb: Testament Of The Boys And Girls Of Hiroshima.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, and as I'm sure you would have fully expected, 'Hiroshima' is a bleak depiction of life in Hiroshima in the days leading up to the dropping of the atomic bomb (on Aug 6th, 1945) and the consequences of the attack, with a focus on the short, and long-term term effects of radiation exposure, especially on children.

The production is outstanding, with realistic recreations of the ruined city blended with authentic footage, and the cast (many of whom were not actors) is excellent.

The scenes of homeless, parentless, children trying to survive are especially poignant, notably the two siblings finding their family's rice bowls as they pick through the rubble of their home or the group of boys trying to teach the youngest enough English to beg for food from American servicemen.

The film is scored by Akira Ifukube, who a year later would write the iconic themes for the original 'Gojira'. His stirring music plays over the end, in which the people of Hiroshima congregate at the Genbaku Dome, the unbelievable scenes that feature the multitudes of extras for which the film is famous.

Not surprisingly 'Hiroshima' is unabashedly anti war, but is not simply a screed against the U.S. The contentious idea that the bomb would not have been used if the target population was white is briefly mentioned, but is counterbalanced by scenes of the Imperial forces deciding to lie to the Japanese public about the nature of the weapon and use the devastated city as a rallying cry to incite even more hatred of the Allied forces (in an attempt to reinforce the implacable resolve that defenders of the A-bombing maintain made use of the devastating weapons necessary).

While Hiroshima did have some military value as a target, the casualties were overwhelmingly civilian, including many children. The film's message is not an overly-simplified don't drop the bomb, but rather a more nuanced plea to consider the consequences beyond tactical or strategic objectives.

Furthermore, the film also touches on one of the lesser known consequences of the bombing - the survivors sometimes faced anger and resentment from the rest of the population for their unique 'victim status' as "Hibakusha" ("people affected by the atomic-bombs").

Unfortunately, the visceral impact the scenes of stunned survivors limping through the streets, filthy, burned and bloody, may be blunted to some viewers because they almost look like a parody of modern "zombie" movies.

Excellent: sad, and memorable and perhaps, in some small part, a contributor to nuclear restraint - despite the proliferation of the weapons (and the powers that wield them), and despite the numerous wars that have been fought since 1945, they have never again been used. [JR] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed audio
Archive interview with actress Yumeji Tsukioka
Hiroshima Nagasaki Download (2011), 73-minute documentary featuring interviews with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings now residing in the United States, with an introduction by the director Shinpei Takeda
New video essay by Jasper Sharp
Newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mick Broderick

'Zombie For Sale: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Jeong Jae-yeong, Jung Ga-ram, Kim Nam-gil, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: When the illegal human experiments of Korea's biggest Pharmaceutical company go wrong, one of their "undead" test subjects escapes and ends up in a shabby gas station owned by the Park family a band of misfits spanning three generations who hustle passers-by to make ends meet.

When the Park family uncover their undead visitor, he bites the head of their household, who instead of transforming into an undead ghoul becomes revitalized and full of life!

The family then hatch a plan to exploit this unexpected fountain of youth, allowing locals to pay to be bitten too, until things go wrong!

Blu-ray Verdict: The eccentric Park family own a run-down gas station not far from the test site of a pharmaceutical company. One of the company's test subjects accidentally becomes a zombie, which wanders away and into the Park's gas station.

After showing a distinct preference for cabbages, the zombie bites the family patriarch! But an unexpected side effect of that bite is that the patriarch suddenly becomes much more vigorous than his age would suggest, and soon all the elderly men in a nearby village are paying to be bitten themselves!

However, there may be more unforeseen side effects coming too!!

I'm not a big zombie movie fan, as they tend to get either super gory or just tedious after a while, and often one zombie flick is much like another.

However, here we have a zombie comedy in which a family of misfits and schemers have to cope with a situation far beyond any of their capabilities!

There's also a lot of references to Millennial "Zom-Com" films such as 'Shaun of the Dead,' 'Warm Bodies' and 'Zombieland,' but also straightforward Zombie films, like George E. Romero's 2005 'Land of the Dead.'

The characters are all well-drawn and distinctive, including the zombie who (oddly enough) is very sympathetic, and the humor is more of the laughing-at-ourselves kind than the malicious sort.

It's not enough to turn me into a zombie movie fan, but if you like any of those aforementioned zombie movies, then Lee Min-Jae's film is for you. It was an entertaining way to spend an evening, that's for sure.

FYI: In its Midwest premiere, Min-Jae stated that his wife co-wrote the script and that the fact "zombies" belong to Haitian Vodou. He further said that, in fact, the idea of the "living dead" can be also found in Korean lore. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA options
Newly-translated English subtitles
Brand new audio commentary with filmmakers and critics Sam Ashurst and Dan Martin
Q&A with director Lee Min-jae from a 2019 screening at Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago, moderated by film critic and author Darcy Paquet Eat Together, Kill Together: The Family-in-Peril Comedy - brand new video essay by critic and producer Pierce Conran exploring Korea's unique social satires
Making-Of Featurette
Behind-the-Scenes footage
Original Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Mike Lee-Graham
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Josh Hurtado

'Zombie For Sale' Official Trailer

'Black Rainbow: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Rosanna Arquette, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1989) 2020 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette, Pulp Fiction, Crash) is a travelling clairvoyant on the road with her sceptic father (Jason Robards, Once Upon a Time in the West, Magnolia).

During a séance Martha communicates a message from a dead man to his wife in the audience. Shocked the wife insists her husband is still alive.

Later that evening the husband is killed by a ruthless assassin. As Martha foresees more and more tragic events journalist Gary Wallace (Tom Hulce, Amadeus, Animal House) follows the pair in pursuit of a hot story with catastrophically eerie results.

Blu-ray Verdict: Personally, I love films about fake psychics who suddenly discover they actually do have psychic powers!

'The Night Has a Thousand Eyes' with Edward G Robinson did it brilliantly, but this film written and directed by Mike Hodges is right up there with the best.

This film makes you appreciate Mike Hodge's talent as a storyteller, and there are layers to 'Black Rainbow' that make it doubly interesting.

Tom Hulce plays reporter Gary Wallace who stumbles across Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette), a medium who works with her father doing a spiritualist act in South Carolina.

We are in "Elmer Gantry" territory here and although we are led to believe the act is a scam, Martha begins to have visions that come true. However the things she sees put her life in danger.

Wallace feels he is onto a big story and although he doesn't believe in her powers at first, he becomes fascinated with the enigmatic and sensuous Martha.

Without spoiling things, the film has a terrific ending that leaves you wondering. Hodges could come up with a punchy ending – remember 'Get Carter'?

A perfect cast struts their stuff including a low key Tom Hulce as the disbelieving reporter. Jason Robards goes to town on his alcoholic Walter Travis, the father who doesn't realize his daughter's powers have progressed beyond mere show business.

However Rosanna Arquette steals the show as the ethereal Martha. Rosanna Arquette always brought a sense of detachment and a certain quirkiness to her roles and often surprises you with how sexy she could be – her screen persona is hard to define.

Simply put, 'Black Rainbow' blends together a heady mixture of spiritualism, bent detectives, hit men, corrupt corporate heads and a dash of sex.

Mike Hodges captured a slice of life in South Carolina with the same assurance he caught life in the North of England in 'Get Carter'.

It's a penetrating gaze, but not a jaundiced one, he has a feeling for people and the script has touches of wit. Brand new restoration from the original negative approved by writer-director Mike Hodges
Original stereo 2.0 PCM uncompressed audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround Sound options
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
New audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
Archival audio commentary by Mike Hodges
Message in a Bottle: Archival 'Making of' documentary
Archival interviews with Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, Rosanna Arquette
Archival featurettes '8 Minutes'; 'Disasters'; 'Seeing the Future'; 'Behind the Rainbow' featuring interviews with Hodges, Arquette, Robards, producer John Quested including behind-the-scenes imagery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Mike Hodges and more illustrated with stills

'Black Rainbow' Official Trailer

'Bloodstone: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Brett Stimely, Rajinikanth, Anna Nicholas, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (1988) 2020 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: The Bloodstone, a priceless stolen ruby, accidentally ends up in the possession of American newlyweds Sandy (Brett Stimely, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death) and Stephanie (Anna Nicholas, Remington Steele).

Now, their honeymoon in India is interrupted as they become the target of international fence Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame, The Prestige) and his evil henchmen.

When Van Hoeven kidnaps Stephanie and ransoms her for the jewel, Sandy joins forces with cabby and dormant stunt-driver Shyam Sabu (Rajinikanth, 2.0) to rescue his young bride.

Blu-ray Verdict: For my money, 'Bloodstone' is one of those forgotten films of the '80s that deserved so much more!

Most people who saw it in the theater then have forgotten they did and the movie disappeared from theaters never to be heard from again - that is, until now!

I, for one, was one of the people that forgot about this film. For years my memory of the film lay dormant, then one day I saw it on the shelf at one of my local DVD stores (remember them?!).

I was totally surprised to see it, so I picked it up. But now, the wonderful folks are MVD Visual have brought out a simply stunning new Blu-ray Special Edition of the film, digitally remastered, with plenty of delightful Special Features.

As for the movie, it brought back great memories. The story is your average adventure affair, much like 'Indiana Jones,' 'Romancing The Stone', and the brilliant, and itself highly underrated 'Firewalker,' but it does have many comical moments too.

For me, the best part of the film is the police chief that speaks with a funny back-of-the-throat vocal growl! I found myself mimicking this voice for days after I initially saw the movie!

The film was a pleasure with its adventure, off-the-wall humor, and exotic locations. If you like adventure films, give this lost gem a try, you won't be disappointed. And for those of you who saw the movie, and can't remember, well, it's time to refresh your memories, my darlings! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 2.0 Stereo PCM Uncompressed audio and 5.1 Surround audio options
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Optional Greek subtitles
Brand new audio commentary by Bryan Reesman
Keeping it to Myself brand new interview with producer and co-writer Nico Mastorakis
Brand new video essay on Bloodstone s star Rajinikanth by Indian cinema expert Josh Hurtado
Image gallery
Original screenplay [BD-ROM content]
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 Mark Cunliffe

'Bloodstone' Official HD Trailer

Life Is a Long Quiet River: Special Ed. [Blu-ray]
(Benoît Magimel, Valérie Lalande, Tara Röme, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1988) 2020 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: The radiantly bourgeois Le Quesnoys with their immaculate children and perfect manners and the grubby, disreputable Groseilles are thrown together in absurd chaos by an act of revenge as they discover that twelve years prior their babies were switched at birth.

Blu-ray Verdict: A witty send up of class relations and family ties, 'Life Is a Long Quiet River' was celebrated with a host of trophies at France's César Awards ceremony winning for best screenplay, best debut work and acting prizes for Héléne Vincent and Catherine Jacob.

For me, personally, this movie was actually more about how life is not a long, tranquil river. Anyone can disturb the peace by a simple action like the nurse did, first by switching the children and later writing to the parents about it.

To her it was just an act of revenge towards the doctor, but the consequences were not limited to the doctor. Etienne Chatillier pokes fun at many different issues throughout the movie which is meant to be a comedy.

Americans, without knowledge of all these issues, as well as the play on words and other humor aimed at the French, will not enjoy it to its full extent. Nevertheless, anyone will laugh at the doctor swearing scene. (La salope)

Most of the characters seem to be very stereotypical - the Arab shopkeeper, the "poor family", the policemen, the doctor, the "rich family".

In fact, the only truly realistic character is Mômo. His many sided character sometimes puzzles the audience. His romantic love for his biological mother, his stealing to help his other family, his spite in revealing the truth to Bernadette, his friendships with the children in both families and his childishness, create a curious mélange.

In addition to these basic characters, there is also the priest. He is used to criticize the church and religion in general.

Parenting and upbringing of children is an important theme in this film. The children in the rich family are very polite, intelligent, religious, etc. while the children in the poor family act stupid, are rude and naughty.

I noticed that this difference in upbringing was not really substantial because when Mômo became part of the family and introduced "naughty" ideas, the rich children just followed along with enthusiasm.

The way they were convinced so easily, shows that their parents hadn't ingrained their education into the children. The only reason why they hadn't done the "naughty" things before was that they hadn't heard of such ideas. Once Mômo supplied them, they dropped all pretense of a higher education, morals, etc. and followed along.

The rich parents' method of dealing with the problems was heavily criticized in the movie. When Bernadette purposefully spilled the soup at the table, they just sat there in silence.

They continue using this approach and we see how the children only get wilder and wilder, unrestrained, and with no solution in sight.

I felt that the ending scene fitted in with the movie really well. It summed up the idea that so many problems arise when one person simply pursues their goal, not stopping at anything.

The satisfied nurse sitting, victorious, with the doctor completely broken. And this right after seeing how the rich family completely fell apart. A cruel type of humor, sure, but well placed here.

In closing, 'Life Is a Long Quiet River' ('La vie est un long fleuve tranquille') is not an American comedy. There are few slapstick moments. Nevertheless, I think many Americans would enjoy this movie. I would definitely appreciate watching it once more myself. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition digital transfer
High Definition Blu-rayTM (1080p) presentation
Original Mono audio
Newly translated optional English subtitles
Archival interviews with director Étienne Chatiliez, actor André Wilms, co-writer/co-producer Florence Quentin and producer Charles Gassot
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Romney

'Life Is a Long Quiet River' Official HD Trailer

'Gamera: The Complete Collection' [Blu-ray]
(Eiji Funakoshi, Kojiro Hongo, Nobuhiro Kashima, Tsutomu Takakuwa, Eiko Yanami, et al / 8-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: The original hero in a half-shell returns! For the first time ever worldwide, all twelve tales of the adventures of everyone s favorite titanic terrapin are collected together in one deluxe Blu-ray boxset!

Blu-ray Verdict: This Limited Edition Collectors Set traces the decades-long evolution of Gamera, from the friend of all children in his more light-hearted earlier films, to the Guardian of the Universe in the groundbreaking 1990s reboot series, often hailed as three of the best kaiju films ever made.

Disc One: 'Gamera The Giant Monster' (1965) - An ancient gigantic prehistoric flying turtle is awakened from its centuries of slumber and embarks on the expected destructive rampage. Can an elite team of top scientists from all over the world figure out a way to stop Gamera before it's too late?

Director Noriaki Yuasa, working from a neat script by Nisan Takahashi, relates the cool premise at a steady pace, maintains a serious tone throughout, and stages the funky and exciting mondo destructo set pieces with real aplomb (the scenes with Gamera attacking Tokyo are not only very thrilling, but also surprisingly harsh and grim).

The cast play the material with admirable sincerity, with praiseworthy work from Eiiji Funakoshi as pragmatic zoologist Dr. Eiiji Hidaka, the fetching Harumi Kiritachi as Hidaka's faithful assistant Kyoko Yamamoto, Junichiro Yamashita as eager reporter Aoyagi, Jun Hamamura as the wise Professor Murase, and Yoshiro Uchida as lonely turtle-loving misfit kid Toshio Sakurai.

The special effects are pretty good and convincing; Gamera makes for an impressively huge, deadly, and fearsome fire-breathing beast.

High Definition (1080p) transfer of Gamera the Giant Monster, with lossless original Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, and optional English subtitles
Commentary and newly filmed introduction by August Ragone
High Definition (1080p) transfer of Gammera the Invincible (Blu-ray premiere), the American theatrical version of the film, with lossless mono audio and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Remembering the Gamera Series, an archive featurette from 1991, including interviews with director Noriaki Yuasa, writer Nisan Takahashi and others
Interview with Noriaki Yuasa, filmed by Jörg Buttgereit in 2002 Gamera Special, an hour-long best-of compilation supervised by Noriaki Yuasa in 1991
Alternate English credits
Trailer and image galleries

Disc Two: 'Gamera Vs. Barugon' / 'Gamera Vs. Gyaos' (1966/1967) - In the first of the two movies, 'Gamera Vs. Barugon' begins with the giant turtle being freed from the rocket he was trapped in at the end of Gamera, the Gigantic Monster and returning to Earth to wreak havoc on a dam.

He then disappears for a good 45 minutes while the movie follows a trio of treasure hunters to a tropical island on their quest to retrieve an opal the brother of one of the hunters hid in a cave during the Second World War.

Not to give away too much, but the procurement of this opal leads to the emergence of Barugon, in the middle of Japan, who Gamera (eventually) fights in typical Gamera fashion.

This probably is the most adult oriented of all the Gamera films mainly because it is the only film in the original series not to feature a child as the main human character.

However, I also think that it is the one of the weaker films in the series. The human characters aren't really that interesting and this is one of the flaws of the Gamera series.

At least with the Godzilla series (or for that matter Toho kaiju films altogether) the human characters, especially in the earlier films, are fully dimensional whereas in the Gamera films they are treated as more of an afterthought.

In the second of the two movies, 'Gamera Vs. Gyaos,' we get, in my humble opinion, the best looking rival of Gamera - namely Gyaos. In this movie, Gamera, as friend of little kids, also gets firmly established.

An ancient monster Gyaos awakes due to activity of Mt. Fuji. Gamera was sleeping near by and awakened by Gyaos' movement. In an effort to save a boy, Gamera challenges Gyaos.

Gyaos can fire ultrasound from its mouth that slices through almost anything. Being cut by Gyaos' ultrasound, Gamera retreats to the ocean. Gyaos is carnivorous, and nocturnal. It flies out at night to eat humans.

How will Gamera defeat Gyaos without being sliced by Gyaos' ultrasonic attack ?

Sadly, problems that existed in the previous Gamera movies are still present in this movie - namely poor integration of human related scenes with that of the monsters.

Compared to Toho's Godzilla movies that teamwork between directors Ishiro Honda, and Eiji Tsuburaya was seamless, this movie suffers poor matching of human related part of the story with the part kaijyu appears. But that's all, so come on in and enjoy regardless!

Also, fun fact, Kojiro Hongo who've appeared in 1995 version of Gamera vs. Gyaos (Gamera Guardian of the Universe) is the star of this move.

High Definition (1080p) transfers of Gamera vs. Barugon and Gamera vs. Gyaos, with lossless original Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, and optional English subtitles
Commentary on Gamera vs. Barugon by August Ragone & Jason Varney
Commentary on Gamera vs. Gyaos by Stuart Galbraith IV
Newly filmed introductions to both films by August Ragone
High Definition (1080p) transfer of War of the Monsters, the shorter American edit of Gamera vs. Barugon, with lossless English audio Alternate English credits for both films
Trailer and image galleries

Disc Three: 'Gamera Vs. Viras' / 'Gamera Vs. Guiron' (1968/1969) - In the first of the two movies, 'Gamera Vs. Viras,' the veering of the Gamera series towards the younger generation finally began with this fourth film in the series.

Released a speedy three years after the original hit Japanese theaters in 1965, even though the previous movie, the gleefully entertaining 'Gamera Vs. Gyaos' was also geared mostly toward children, it still had an element of terror and dread in it.

That is gone here and 'Gamera vs. Viras' is an unsuccessfully endeavor, sadly. However, that it is hardly due to the fact that it is being directed at little children and those who are still able to find the child deep within themselves.

The problem with this picture is, despite its wonderful beginning and wonderful ending, most of the middle is just shameless, lazy jigsaw-construction of its predecessors. In other words, it's mostly just stock footage reels, sorry.

The second of the two films on this disc, 'Gamera Vs. Guiron,' junior astronomers, Akio and Tom (Nobuhiro Kajima and Christopher Murphy) have detected a strange craft landing near their house, and set out to investigate.

This leads to their being whisked away to the ship's bizarre planet of origin. Upon their arrival, the boys encounter two brain-eating alien women and their gigantic, knife-headed monster, Guiron!

As should be expected, the "story" is secondary to the obligatory battle between the titular titans. Once everyone's favorite turtle arrives, the showdown begins!

But first, a flashback sequence gets us up to speed on Gamera's history as "friend to all children", and we check in back on Earth to burn up more screen time. But don't worry, it's worth the wait!

High Definition (1080p) transfers of Gamera vs. Viras and Gamera vs. Guiron, with lossless original Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, and optional English subtitles
Choice of three different versions of Gamera vs. Viras via seamless branching (72-minute Theatrical Version, 81-minute Director’s Version and 90-minute US Extended Version)
Commentary on Gamera vs. Viras by Carl Craig and Jim Cironella
Commentary on Gamera vs. Guiron by David Kalat
Newly filmed introductions to both films by August Ragone
New featurette with actor Carl Craig showing his souvenirs and props from Gamera vs. Viras
Highlights from the G-FEST X convention in 2003, featuring Noriaki Yuasa and Carl Craig
The 4th Nippon Jamboree, a promotional film for the Boy Scouts of Japan directed by Yuasa in 1966
Alternate English credits for both films
Trailer and image galleries

Disc Four: 'Gamera Vs. Jiger' / 'Gamera Vs. Zigra' / 'Gamera Super Monster' (1970/1971/1980) - In the first of the three movies on this fourth disc, 'Gamera Vs. Jiger,' the vicious behemoth beast Jiger attacks Japan during an annual science fair!

It's up to Gamera to stop the foul fiend. However, Jiger has injected the heroic flying prehistoric turtle with its parasitic offspring. Can two little boys save Gamera in time?

Director Noriaki Yuasa, working from a fairly dark and twisted script by Fumi Takahashi, relates the entertaining story at a constant brisk pace, maintains a generally serious tone throughout, and stages the fierce and lengthy monster fight set pieces with a reasonable amount of skill and flair.

Moreover, there are also pleasing moments of large scale mass destruction with Jiger demolishing a major city and surprisingly harsh bits of violence (Jiger cripples Gamera by shooting needles into all of his limbs and turns people into skeletons!).

In the second movie, 'Gamera Vs. Zigra,' which in truth, after 'Gamera Vs. Jiger,' this one is a definite upgrade to the level of previous Gamera movies.

A real charmer, 'Gamera Vs. Zigra' features an alien who controls humans with hypnosis to get what it really wants. The plot runs into two children, the girl, Helen, who, with her older sister Maggie, appears to be bi-racial, and Kennie, who have a psychic link to Gamera.

Avoid the non-Japanese print, this one is beautifully shot in widescreen that is completely lost in the TV cut version. Also, the acting is much more restrained than the horrible dubbing would have you believe!

It's sort of the ultimate expression of the Gamera idea.

In the third and final movie of the three on this disc, 'Gamera Super Monster' (which itself comes a decade after the last one mentioned!), well, yes, everyone has their own view of this movie, but unless you take into consideration the reason it was made and the target audience, you may find yourself giving it a lower review then it deserves.

'Super Monster Gamera' is MEANT to be a cheap, fun, lazy film. It's nothing more then a blending of the entire series sprinkled with a new plot to tie the battles together.

It's not meant to be taken seriously, it's not meant to deliver an important issue, and it's not meant to WOW the audience with late '80s special effects.

It's just a kid's film; no more, no less.

With that in mind, 'Super Monster Gamera' is by far my fav of the original Gamera series. Six monster battles, a catchy opening theme song, great music and very, very, VERY bad acting! What a perfect Saturday afternoon popcorn treat!!

High Definition (1080p) transfers of Gamera vs. Jiger, Gamera vs. Zigra and Gamera Super Monster, with lossless original Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, and optional English subtitles
Commentary on Gamera vs. Jiger by Edward L. Holland
Commentary on Gamera vs. Zigra by Sean Rhoads & Brooke McCorkle
Commentary on Gamera Super Monster by Richard Pusateri
Newly filmed introductions to all three films by August Ragone
Alternate English credits for all three films
Trailer and image galleries

Disc Five: 'Gamera The Guardian Of The Universe' (1995) - Reports were coming in as a trio of large, bird-like reptiles called Gyaos are going around eating people.

Gyaos are super weapons created by a civilization long forgotten (presumed to be Atlantis). Luckily, that same civilization created Gamera to destroy Gyaos and protect humanity, but with the military believing Gamera to be the larger threat, its up to a few scientists and a teenage girl (Ayako Fujitani, daughter of Steven Seagal!), who shares a link with the giant turtle, to help the Guardian of the Universe save the day!

This movie truly stands on its own with a good story, decent cast, cool special effects, and awesome action scenes. Its nice to see Gamera finally have a serious and dark role. Thankfully, there's no annoying kids ruining the show!

Instead, we get teen girl Asagi to share a bond with the monster, which helps appeal to a broader audience. The Gyaos have a menacing atmosphere to them, especially when they go hunting humans, while Gamera embodies a sense of power and nobility.

Some Gamera movies have the tendency to torture the poor green guy, but here, thankfully, he delivers plenty of punishment back. Now that's turtle power!

High Definition (1080p) transfer of Gamera the Guardian of the Universe, from a 4K restoration by Kadokawa Pictures
Original Japanese and dubbed English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio, with optional English subtitles
Commentary by Matt Frank
Newly filmed introduction by August Ragone
A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 1, the first in an epic three-part documentary interviewing cast and crew of the Heisei Trilogy
Interviews with director Shusuke Kaneko and SFX director Shinji Higuchi, filmed by Jörg Buttgereit in 2002
Extended 90-min interview with Shinji Higuchi from 2001, focusing on the trilogy’s special effects
Behind the scenes featurettes tracing the film’s production from announcement to release
Alternate English credits
Trailer and image galleries

Disc Six: 'Gamera 2: Attack of Legion' (1996) - OK, now this film is definitely one of the best movies featuring this movie monster - and one of the few that rival the best that rival Toho Studios put out.

The story is rather suspenseful and very well written, even in dubbed form (nothing is really lost, as I have seen the original Japanese release in subtitled form as well).

The Legion creatures are interestingly made and very creepy to watch, especially in the scene in which they cover Gamera completely. The sight of the huge beast with an army of insectoids completely covering him and bristling with movement is just plain weird to watch.

In closing, 'Gamera 2' (for me) ranks right up there with the original Gamera movie and it's 1990s revamping. The rest of the series is definitely just for the kiddie crowd, but these three movies stand out from the rest, comparing easily with the best Godzilla movies of any period.

High Definition (1080p) transfer of Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, from a 4K restoration by Kadokawa Pictures
Original Japanese and dubbed English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio, with optional English subtitles
Commentary by Kyle Yount
Newly filmed introduction by August Ragone
A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 2, the next part of the documentary interviewing cast and crew of the Heisei Trilogy
On-set footage from the shooting of the film’s main unit and special effects filming
Behind the scenes featurettes tracing the film’s production from announcement to release
Alternate English credits
“Lake Texarkana” comedic dub track
Trailer and image galleries

Disc Seven: 'Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris' (1999) - The Gyaos have returned, newly evolved and multiplying like crazy around the world. As if that isn't bad enough, a new foe has emerged, one who has been bred by the hate of a teenage girl who harbors a grudge against Gamera for accidentally killing her parents in the first film.

This new creature is called Iris (named after the girl's deceased pet cat), a mysterious armored, blood-sucking squid creature with immense destructive power and a genetic link to the Gyaos. With the military once again hunting Gamera, will all this be too much for the Guardian of the Universe?

The stakes are raised and so is the severity of the violence. Tons of people are laid waste as the monsters battle each other for supremacy, destroying everything in their path.

It's great. Gamera looks really fearsome, looking as if he will stop at nothing until all his monstrous enemies are destroyed. He even has some new tricks up his giant sleeve.

Iris is a fascinating creature, bringing a sense of both awe and dread to his presence, especially when he's flying. In fact, he reminds me of an Angel from "Evangelion".

Furthermore, it's nice seeing some of the old cast in this one like Gamera's human companion Asagi, who has really grown as a character. Some the new characters are interesting while others are strange, which is why sometimes I feel that this film may appeal to goths.

The star here is Ayana, whose backstory and hatred for the turtle and backstory allow her to stand out from the rest of the cast.

High Definition (1080p) transfer of Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, from a 4K restoration by Kadokawa Pictures
Original Japanese and dubbed English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio, with optional English subtitles
Commentary by Steve Ryfle & Ed Godziszewski
Newly filmed introduction by August Ragone
A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 3, the final part of the documentary interviewing cast and crew of the Heisei Trilogy
Newly filmed interview with Kaho Tsutsumi about the DNA Tokasatsu exhibition in Tokyo, by kaiju historian Edward L. Holland
Behind the scenes featurettes tracing the film’s production from announcement to release
Deleted Scenes
The Awakening of Irys (Remix), a montage of behind-the-scenes footage and work-in-progress special effects footage
Alternate English credits
Spoof commentary by “Gamera” & “Soldier No.6”
Trailer and image galleries

Disc Eight: 'Gamera The Brave' (2006) - Director Ryuta Tazaki comes from Japanese sci-fi action television with quite a resume with the Japanese Power Ranger Shows and never ending Kamen Rider series.

This film shows little of his TV roots as this film is very well directed, well photographed with some modest experimentation with visuals and sound design.

The film has a sort of naturalism that you don't usually get in a kaiju film. The hero just lost his mom to a car crash and his friend is afraid she won't live thru a heart operation in the hospital.

The parents are working class shop owners. A few moments of over-sentimentality and cuteness are here but the rest of the film makes up for it.

The special effects live up to the level of the Kaneko Gamera films with a couple of shots that are excellent. Tazaki doesn't have Kaneko's dramatic flair for the action scenes, but they are well done, nonetheless.

In closing, it's not as thrilling or suspenseful as 'Gamera Guardian of the Universe' or 'Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion' and it does not surpass most of the Godzilla movies in overall entertainment, but this is one of the better of all the Gamera films, in my humble opinion.

High Definition (1080p) transfer of Gamera the Brave
Original Japanese and dubbed English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio, with optional English subtitles
Commentary by Keith Aiken & Bob Johnson
How to Make a Gamera Movie, a featurette hosted by director Ryuta Tasaki
Behind The Scenes of Gamera the Brave, an all-access on-set documentary
The Men That Made Gamera, a documentary looking back at the series from start to finish, featuring interviews with cast and crew
Opening Day Premiere, a featurette showing the cast and crew presenting the film at its first showing
Kaho’s Summer, an interview with the film’s young star
Special Effects Supercut, a montage of effects shots overseen by FX supervisor Hajime Matsumoto
Trailer and image galleries

These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the collective Special Features of:

Limited collectors’ edition packaging, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank
Casebound, fully-illustrated disc book containing eight Blu-ray discs
High Definition (1080p) versions of all twelve films, with lossless original Japanese audio and a complete collection of English dub tracks, including classic American International dubs on the Showa-era films remastered from original MGM elements
Hardback 130-page comic book including a full-color reprint of the four-issue Gamera comic series originally released by Dark Horse Comics in 1996, and the first-ever English-language printing of the prequel comic The Last Hope by Matt Frank and Joshua Bugosh
Perfect-bound 80-page book including a new retrospective on the series by Patrick Macias, an archive interview with Noriaki Yuasa by David Milner, kaiju X-ray illustrations by Jolyon Yates, Fangoria set reports on the Heisei trilogy by Norman England, and a viewers’ guide to the English-dubbed versions of the films
Double-sided four-panel poster of “Gamera’s Map of Japan” in both Japanese and English
Collectors’ art cards for each film, featuring new artwork by Matt Frank

'Gamera: The Complete Collection' - Arrow Video Channel Trailer HD

'Abrakadabra: Limited Edition' [BR +CD]
(Germán Baudino, Eugenia Rigón, Gustavo Dalessanro, et al / Blu-ray+CD / R / (2018) 2020 / Cauldron Films)

Overview: What the eye sees and the ear hears, the mind believes!

Thirty years after his father is tragically killed during a magic trick gone wrong, Lorenzo’s own magic act is suddenly derailed by a series of gruesome magic themed murders.

Struggling to prove his innocence, he begins to unravel the mystery that leads him through an intricate, bloody trail all the way back to his father’s demise.

Blu-ray Verdict: Filled with a pulsing Goblin-esque soundtrack and all the earmarks of a classic Giallo, 'Abrakadabra' pays homage to the Italian horror films of the '70s, and is the third, and final entry in the Argentine-born Brothers's Giallo Trilogy (the other two being 'Francesca' and 'Sonno Profondo').

Well, I have absolutely no idea how they did it, but those wondrous Onetti Brothers have conjured up a film that from the off, if you had no prior knowledge, you would assume (and without a shadow of a doubt) was filmed back in the glorious days of Giallo!

Oh, for those not in the know, and in the context of 20th-century literature and film, especially among English speakers and non-Italians in general, "Giallo" refers specifically to a particular Italian thriller-horror genre that has mystery or detective elements and often contains slasher, crime fiction, psychological thriller, psychological horror, sexploitation, psychedelic and, less frequently, supernatural horror elements.

Indeed, this particular style of Italian-produced murder mystery thriller-horror film usually blends the atmosphere and suspense of thriller fiction with elements of horror fiction (such as slasher violence) and eroticism (similar to the French fantastique genre), and often involves a mysterious killer whose identity is not revealed until the final act of the film.

Ok, so as we're all up to date now, this genre having been developed in the mid-to-late 1960s, peaked in popularity during the 1970s, and subsequently declined over the next few decades, but my goodness, these brothers have most certainly blown the dust and cobwebs off the genre and brought it back to oh-so colorful life!

Both Luciano and Nico Onetti - who also directed the international anthology 'A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio' (2019) and 'What the Waters Left Behind' (2017) - stars Germán Baudino ('What the Waters Left Behind'), María Eugenia Rigón ('Deadpoint'), Clara Kovacic ('I Am So, Tita from Buenos Aires'), Ivi Brickell ('Until It Happens'), Gustavo D´Alessandro ('Francesca'), Raúl Gederlini ('Francesca') and Pablo Vilela ('Giants of Mexico').

With a lovely run time of a healthy, but not over done 70-minutes, watching along with 'Abrakadabra' (which, for me, is a definitive Giallo homage to films like both 'Tenebrae' and 'The Bird With The Crystal Plumage'), you have zero idea who has done what, who is most likely to die next, how it will end, or, for the most part, what the f**k is actually going on!

I mean, there was even a (supposed) big reveal that came during the final act, one where I accepted what was being said, yet still remained confused - and, as it turned out, rightly so!

What we get is a theatrical performance that provides us a washed up, alcoholic gambler of a magician, still traumatized from when he sadly witnessed the death of his own father on stage (following a magic trick gone wrong), who suddenly becomes the prime suspect in a murder when a woman turns up dead amongst his own equipment.

From then on in, as the cameras tip and twirl, back and forth, up and down, the bodies continue to fall and just about everything continues to point to our already-in-the-hot seat magician - but he's doggedly determined to prove that he's being framed!

The original story was written by Carlos Goitia and so with supervision from both brothers as directors, it's obvious their main challenge was to create a story that could fit the low budget they obviously had, and yet still adequately deal with the subject of mind and personality.

Ergo, the brothers have created a rather bold and expansive use of Gaillo via their camera work, for flashing between faces, close up's here and there and everywhere (to the point that sometimes all you see are twitching eye balls), for a spit second you think everyone's a suspect. Whether it be their mannerisms, hushed conversations, flirtive looks and shy gestures, you seem (as the viewer, and amateur detective looking in) that the killer must be that guy, but no, wait, surely now it must be this girl, but no wait, ...!

Having said all that, 'Abrakadabra' is actually set in 1981 and as us oldies know that era oh-so well, here the wardrobe, set design, hair, and makeup, well, my goodness it's all so spot on it's actually quite magnificent.

Of course, due to the whole Giallo aspects, the '70s creep in, smother in certain cases, the actors and scenery accordingly, which is just fine with me. The soundtrack alone is magnificent and then we get the overall color correction, created in post-production, to bring the Giallo era to the fore, works splendidly, seamlessly.

Indeed, it's amazing to think that 'Abrakadabra' wasn't actually shot on such expressive means as either a 16mm or 35mm camera, which I'm sure they would have LOVED to have used, but using what they did obviously worked out rather well too, of course.

In closing, the brothers even took time to design the end credits to have that Giallo '70s with a tinge of '80s aura and specific look - and boy did they nail it!

Obviously neither are fans of “neo gialli,” here their collective research has paid of to the hilt and back, Word has it they even brought in a real magician to come to the shooting to help them stage things, and coach the actors also.

Also, it seems they also used real magic tricks for the murders. For example, the guillotine and the box with the spades are real acts! And in the theatre scene, there’s a real time trick for us viewers to watch, safely from the comfort of our own sofa's! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Limited to 1000 copies
CD soundtrack with music by Luciano Onetti
Behind the Scenes
Italian 5.1, Italian 2.0, and English 2.0 audio options
English & Spanish subtitles
Inserts with promotional artwork
Limited Edition high quality slipcase with original poster art

Official Purchase Link

Official Trailer

'American Rickshaw: Limited Edition' [BR+CD]
(Mitchell Gaylord, Daniel Greene, Victoria Prouty, Donald Pleasance, et al / Blu-ray+CD / NR / (1989) 2020 / Cauldron Films)

Overview: The way that is the way is not the ordinary way!

After a stripper tricks him into filming a sex tape, Scott Edwards (Olympic Gold Medalist Mitch Gaylord), a Miami rickshaw runner, becomes embroiled in the murder of an evangelist’s son when he inadvertently takes the wrong video tape.

With the help of the stripper and an Asian witch, Edwards sets out to clear his name while avoiding the assassin dead set on retrieving the video tape.

Blu-ray Verdict: Directed by Italian genre legend Sergio Martino ('All the Colors of the Dark') and Written by Sauro Scavolini ('A Man Called Blade') with a story by Roberto Leoni ('Santa Sangre') this late '80s Miami-lensed Action/Horror hybrid has only ever been available on VHS in the US in a muddy full screen presentation.

Featuring all of the action, nudity and bizarre practical effects you can handle, Cauldron Films now brings us 'American Rickshaw' (aka 'American Tiger' / 'American Risciò'), in all of its sun drenched glory, with a brand new 2K scan sourced from the original camera negative as their inaugural release!

OK, well, yes, the plot to this is extremely simple and yet, my goodness, what a LOT of fun this late '80s film really is! After inadvertently befriending an ageless witch, a young student helps her save a legendary Boar Statue from the clutches of a ruthless televangelist!

Well, you've got me hooked, so let's dive in! Scott Edwards (the aforementioned Olympic Gold Medalist Mitch Gaylord) is your typical college kid who makes ends meet by being a rickshaw puller in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Wearing his trademark Tiger tank top, something he's very proud of (as he was apparently born in the Chinese year of the Tiger), one rainy night he picks up a new fare, that of an elderly Chinese mystic, Madame Luna (Kobi) - a woman who watches everything that goes on around her via the spirits found within her "pets" ... a cat and a cobra!

But then, all hell breaks loose for Scott as he quickly gets himself knee deep in a bad conspiracy and is even more quickly framed for murder!

Out of nowhere a hitman named Francis (Greene) is on him like jam on peanut butter, so Scott goes on the run with a prostitute named Joanna (Victoria Prouty), whilst they both try and clear his name.

Oh boy, and now cometh the hour, cometh the man as maleficent televangelist Reverend Mortom (the always great, Donald Pleasance) is on the prowl and wants his pound of flesh!

Of course, sure, there are much more supernatural forces that come to the fore, from various deviant entities that join the chase, so to speak, and yet all brought out into the open by the highly cherished, and highly sought after, "stone of evil".

I think, personally, that looking at the box art and knowing what the true storyline escapade turned out to be, seems like it was perhaps a little deceiving to any prospective renters back in the day, so to speak.

Anyway, in truth, any one familiar with Italian horror and Giallo's will know the name Sergio Martino, for the man is a legend within the genre. I mean, come on now, the man has brought us every genre imaginable, like post-apocalyptic, Spaghetti Westerns, sexploitation, Poliziotteschi, and oh-so many more.

In closing, 'American Rickshaw' is a great film for its day, and still holds up today, in my humble opinion. So rush out and buy this brand new Blu-ray with soundtrack CD release (one chock full of quite wondrous '80s-esque vibes and sounds from and of the day) and settle back, grab a beer, and press play for a wonderful evening's entertainment, my friends! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Limited to 1500 copies
On camera interviews with director Sergio Martino and production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng
Then and now location footage
The Projection Booth Podcast discuss AMERICAN RICKSHAW
Commentary with Samm Deighan & Kat Ellinger
Image Gallery
Booklet with writing by grindhouse comics writer and Tough to Kill co-author, David Zuzelo
Reversible cover featuring Italian artwork
Limited Edition high quality slipcase with new artwork by Mattias Frisk

Official Purchase Link

Official Trailer

'Even Money: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Kim Basinger, Nick Cannon, Danny DeVito, Kelsey Grammer, Carla Gugino, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2006) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Struggling writer Kate (Kim Basinger) loses her family's savings at a casino; a washed-up magician (Danny Devito) tries to help Carol regain her money; Clyde (Forest Whitaker) owes so much money to his dangerous bookie (Jay Mohr) that he asks his NBA-destined nephew (Nick Cannon) to throw the game.

Also starring Kelsey Grammer, Tim Roth, Ray Liotta and Carla Gugino, 'Even Money' is a cautionary thriller about addiction and deception that hits a jackpot of suspense.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Even Money' follows a theme that many are seeming to tackle lately. That of intertwined actions from inter-related characters resulting in one climactic reaction. 'Crash' mastered this superbly only two years earlier and then came 'Even Money.'

Lined up with a commendable list of actors, 'Even Money' sets out to prove something from the start. Based around a theme of gambling addiction and its consequences, 'Even Money' definitely delivers where it matters.

Everyone plays their part effortlessly but some obviously stand out more than others. After disappearing into the world of direction, Danny Devito reappears as a failed magician still holding onto his dream.

His character offers moments of comic relief and utter charm. Tim Roth is impeccable as Victor, the second-hand man to mysterious Ivan. But it is that of Forest Whitaker who absolutely shines once again in this film, showing that there is no role he cannot hold.

While the acting for the most part is truly fierce, and the mood is alive with all the happenings of a gritty urban underworld, 'Even Money' feels like it tries just a bit too hard, or possibly, not enough, in making the character's stories interweave and you can see it a mile away.

But even with that, it is much more about the emotions portrayed through those lasts scenes and the impact they have. 'Even Money' is a dramatic and powerful attempt at a new 'Crash' and achieves a definite amount of success. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature
Audio: English 5.1 Surround
English and Spanish Subtitles
Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:30)

'Even Money: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out April 14th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Even Money' Trailer

'First Snow: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, J.K. Simmons, William Fichtner, Adam Scott, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2006) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential), Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) and Academy Award© Winner* J.K. Simmons (Whiplash, Spider-Man 1-3) star in this intriguing thriller about a man whose life spins out of control after psychic tells him his days are numbered.

After his car breaks down in a desolate town, a slick salesman, Jimmy Starks (Pearce), visits a fortune teller (Simmons) to kill some time.

But the psychic's ominous reading sends Jimmy's life into a tailspin when he learns that his life will soon end, but he is safe at least, until the first snow of the season.

ow, with his ultimate fate looming nearer, Jimmy becomes obsessed with revisiting his past in hopes of changing his destiny before it's too late.

Blu-ray Verdict: Guy Pearce confirmed his cult status with his tortured Leonard of Memento. Writing notes to himself because of his serious short term memory loss, he pursues a putative killer of his wife.

Now in 'First Snow,' Pearce as Jimmy Starks pursues another threat, his imminent death disclosed by a fortune teller. The theme of fate versus determinism - Can anyone alter his destiny? - is provocatively introduced, but only partially developed beyond plot demands for someone avoiding death.

The expectations for a thematically heavy duty, time challenged thriller like Christopher Nolan's Memento are not always in Mike Fergus's 'First Snow,' a semi-entertaining thriller slow in many parts and hardly challenging other than seeing Pearce put his indie-strange stamp on a mediocre knockoff of his most famous role.

Here he displays his usual taut physical and mental persona but without any puzzling character depths other than selling old Wurlitzer juke boxes and flooring while touting shoulder-length hair and attitude incommensurate with the nowhere character he inhabits.

The New Mexico setting is just right for the new-age ambiance of the occult and existentialism. This region has had its cult status confirmed with the many UFO sightings and the starkly haunting work of Georgia O'Keefe. Chris Martinez's minimalist score punctuates the spare emotional landscape.

Jimmy's palm reader, Vacaro (a wonderfully weary J.K. Simmons), says, "I saw no more roads, no more tomorrows. But you're safe until the first snow."

The script doesn't allow Jimmy to go too far beyond disbelief at this prophecy into whether or not one can be happy knowing the future. Try he will to alter that future but without intellectual resolution for the audience.

More promising is the redemption motif in which he must face a recently-released-from-prison former business partner, who went up the river because of Jimmy's testimony and who may now wish to exact his due.

How Jimmy faces this prophetic return is not well enough dissected, but it remains an energetic coda to an otherwise sporadically interesting study of personal responsibility and fate. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
English Subtitles
Final Omen featurette (SD, 03:32)
Behind The Scenes featurette (SD, 07:12)
Interview with Actors Guy Pearce & Piper Perabo (SD, 6:54)
Interview with Actor J.K. Simmons (SD, 1:20)
Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:00)
Reversible Artwork

'First Snow: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out June 30th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'First Snow' Trailer

'Haven: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Orlando Bloom, Zoe Saldana, Anthony Mackie, Bill Paxton, Bobby Cannavale, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2004) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: On the idyllic shores of the Cayman Islands, Shy (Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and Andrea (Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy) share a secret her parents can never know - they are in love.

But a night of passion leads to their discovery and a devastating act of vengeance by Andrea's brother (Anthony Mackie, Captain America: Civil War).

Meanwhile, a shady American businessman (Bill Paxton, Aliens) has fled with his daughter to the Islands to avoid federal prosecution, only to be drawn into a dangerous web of deceit.

As lives intersect and truths are revealed, a chain reaction of violence is set in motion that will determine whether love can survive the fall of paradise.

Blu-ray Verdict: From the producers of 'Crash', this non-linear narrative style movie takes place in the Cayman Islands and boy, it makes for one really remarkable movie (for many reasons).

The cast does a great job, Bloom especially delivering one of his best performances so far, but there really is not a single weak act that stands out.

Indeed, writer/director Frank E. Flowers does a fantastic job of keeping the story coherent as we alternate between two timelines, set four months apart. The acting is strong and the entire film has a distinctive atmosphere.

The writing is tight and complex and the movie introduces a fair number of very different characters that we need to care about in order for it to work, but they do pull that angle off - and that is quite a considerable achievement in itself, as you yourself will discover.

As aforementioned, the story is told in a non-linear way, and in fact there is a phase of the movie during which you might wonder how this whole thing fits together.

But then the threads are pulled together nicely and artfully, with a lot of attention to detail so that a viewer will be delighted in their visual discoveries (although, sure, perhaps repeated viewings wouldn't be a bad idea either just to ensure you catch all the seams, so to speak).

Ergo, those things that fall into place are seen to have a meaning with respect to other parts of the narrative, and quickly the film becomes complete and whole.

Oh, and high praise to the photography/cinematography too as it is truly beautiful in those places where it should be, and gritty in others.

There, in my humble opinion, 'Haven' is a gritty, fierce yet picturesque portrayal of realism surrounding Cayman's underground subcultures.

From love to drugs to violence, Flowers and his team perform an astounding delivery of these themes through the use of raw, powerful drama, all the while winding around a multitude of heinous plots that grow and intertwine to the point of cataclysm.

In conclusion, the lesson learned here is that people, even good people, can be cruel. There's something for every one here for 'Haven' is a complete rollercoaster of emotions and a carnival of characters that I'm sure you'll enjoy. I know I did. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature
Audio: English 5.1 Surround
English and Spanish Subtitles
Making of Featurette (SD, 3:26)
Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:30)

'Haven: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out April 14th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Haven' Trailer

'Possession: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace, Chelah Horsdal, Michael Landes, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (2009) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Grudge 1 & 2), leads an all-star cast including Lee Pace (TV's Pushing Daisies) and Michael Landes (Lakeview Terrace) in the year's most mesmerizing thriller.

Newlyweds Jess (Gellar) and Ryan (Landes) seem to have it all until a car accident renders both Ryan and his brother Roman (Pace) comatose. But things spin even more eerily out of control when Roman awakens and tries to convince Jess that he is her husband.

Beside herself with fear and grief, Jess grapples with one question: Could the man before her actually be the man she lost - or does something far more sinister await her in his arms?

Blu-ray Verdict: Jess (Sarah Michelle Gellar) finds her perfect married life turned upside-down when both her husband Ryan (Michael Landes) and his bad-boy brother Roman (Lee Pace) are sent into comas following a head-on car collision.

Roman eventually wakes from his coma, but seems convinced that he is Ryan. Will Jess believe that her husband's spirit has somehow passed into the body of his brother, or will she call bulls**t?!

It doesn't surprise me at all to find that 'Possession' is a remake of an Asian film: it stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, it moves like molasses, and the messy plot sure takes some swallowing!

The title promises supernatural shenanigans, and for most of the film, that is precisely what we are led to believe we are watching; but as the film progresses (very, very slowly) to the less than scintillating finale, it becomes apparent that there is nothing supernatural about the story whatsoever!

Personally, I felt more than a tad cheated: I watched the film with the expectation of a spooky chiller, but what I got was a psychological thriller-cum-romance instead, sorry!

That all said, I recently watched 'Addicted,' the Korean film on which this was based and as much as it too is also a very slow-moving film, it did possess (sorry, not sorry) a much more, and wholly worthwhile overall spooky vibe to it (which, at some point, became devoid here in the American remake).

And so, in conclusion, and playing Devil's Advocate, 'Possession' has an interesting plot which keeps you thinking and, at times, even guessing throughout, but the "mystery" is still reserved for the very end reveal.

Though the acting is not outstanding, the plot makes up for it in that respect and where some might find the actual reveal a little weird, given that there are definitely scenes beforehand that kinda sorta contradicting of the ending, if you don't think to hard, this film is just perfect for a wet Sunday evening viewing. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature
Audio: English 5.1 Surround
English and Spanish Subtitles
Making of Featurette with star Sarah Michelle Gellar (SD, 3:34)
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (SD, 32:58)
Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26)
Reversible Artwork

'Possession: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out April 14th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Possession' Trailer

Nothing Stays The Same: The Story of The Saxon Pub
(Various / DVD / NR / (2019) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: With iconic Austin venues closing each year due to rising rents and property taxes, the writing is on the wall for The Saxon Pub, a mainstay for live music since 1990.

Soon being forced to a new space - akin to closure for most clubs - its owner, staff, regulars, and its beloved musicians turn to face the music until they learn their fate might not be sealed after all.

DVD Verdict: As noted, 'Nothing Stays The Same' celebrates the last 30 years of live music in Austin, Texas, while also examining the challenges faced by musicians and music venues in one of the fastest-growing and most popular cities in the country, all through the lens of the legendary Saxon Pub.

Opened in 1990, the Saxon has hosted well over 22,000 musical performances and has also been the location for films, videos and countless live recordings.

On any given night you might see a major celebrity from the film or music industry either having a beer or sitting in on stage jamming with the locals.

Furthermore, this award-winning listening room has helped launch the careers of several prominent entertainers. It is also known for booking some of the greatest music legends around, performing in an intimate atmosphere that Kris Kristofferson likened to “playing in his own living room.”

As we progress though this highly informative new documentary, we quickly learn that located on South Lamar in Austin, TX, the Saxon Pub was actually going to be forced to relocate (because of rising rents and real estate deals) in 2015.

But by 2016, the plan had collapsed – but this wasn't the same old song of an Austin club on the brink of disappearing. Instead, it got an unexpected lease of life from a surprising source.

Longtime TV documentarian Jeff Sandmann's decided to film a tribute, if you will, to his beloved Pub, with its sticky floors and awesome sounds generated almost 7-days a week, and so instead of a There she goes direction, he redirected the viewers eyes and ears toward something much more optimistic.

Chock full of oh-so many talking heads and, in some cases, even recognizable faces, ok sure, his documentary does lean more toward those musicians in residence for the local bar (most of which you will not have a clue about if you live outside of Austin), but the way Sandmann (a real last name that totally rocks!) showcases those challenges that faced owner/manager Joe Ables (let alone his employees and all those musicians) truly defines not only the Saxon Pub, but this documentary as a whole.

In closing, 'Nothing Stays The Same: The Story of The Saxon Pub' is a quite wondrous look into the history of Austin music, whilst at the same time a musical treat for your ears. It also won the Best Music Documentary at SXSW in 2019. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Nothing Stays The Same: The Story of The Saxon Pub' [DVD] is out July 14th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Nothing Stays The Same: The Story of The Saxon Pub' Trailer

'Sukiyaki Western Django: Collector's Edition'
(Hideaki Ito, Yusuke Iseya, Kaori Momoi, Quentin Tarantino, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2007) 2019 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Famed Japanese auteur Takashi Miike, best known for cult classics 'Audition', 'Ichi the Killer' and 'The City of Lost Souls', redefines the spaghetti Western with 'Sukiyaki Western Django,' an epic tale of blood, lust and greed starring Hideaki Ito, Yusuke Iseya, Kaori Momoi and Quentin Tarantino ('Pulp Fiction').

Two clans battle for a legendary treasure hidden in a desolate mountain town. One day, a lone gunman, burdened with deep emotional scars but blessed with incredible shooting skills, drifts into town.

Two clans try to woo the lone gunman to their sides, but he has ulterior motives. Dirty tricks, betrayal, desire and love collide as the situation erupts into a final, explosive showdown.

Blu-ray Verdict: In a way, everything Takashi Miike makes from here on out could easily be considered fan service. That's partially because he has fans that wouldn't be disappointed no matter what he does!

From the straight street dramas of the Black Society Trilogy to the messy violence of his more famous cult classics and lately to the more surreal works of 'Big Bang Love, Juvenile A' and even 'Zebraman', his work is both loved and admired.

But it's also partially because nobody really has a handle on what he's doing except that it's bizarre! So how does one tell a good Miike movie from any other one?

Well, how kick-ass it is? Yup, sometimes it just boils down to that!

'Sukiyaki Western Django' is a boiled mish-mash of various conceits and approaches, an almost chaotic display of Western bravado meets mixed-genre in-jokes.

With Quentin Tarantino and a brief animated display, nonetheless!

However, what makes it really work are those things that wouldn't have worked if it wasn't half the point: the broad widescreen of Sergio Leone - used to show a color-corrected Japanese landscape that looks nothing like the West; the Man with No Name approaching a nearly empty gold mining town - made in Japanese architecture complete with the man hanging off of the rectilinear entry-gate; set in a dry universe of gun-play and whiskey - that suddenly turns to rain and snow once the violence and vengeance comes reigning from the sky!

Phew, yup, the point isn't to make a Western with Japanese people, the point is to make an epic shootout with grit-teethed character. The rest are all details.

Anachronistic, displaced and utterly absurd details, but beautiful beautiful detail at that.

It's not strictly parody and it's not strictly surreal. At one point there's a hint that it's a prequel to the title movie. It has references to things from 'Yojimbo' to 'Once Upon a Time in America' on through to 'Kill Bill,' but it exists utterly in its own logic and is completely unpredictable.

The characters discuss anime as a weakness, a sheriff starts grappling with himself like Gollum from 'The Lord of the Rings,' and the spider-woman gunslinger might be a hermaphrodite (just saying!)

But while I do not believe in a "Miike Universe" that cross-references between different movies, there is most certainly a "Miike mood" which is the ability to range from pure hysterics to morbid fascination to disturbing reveals to good ol' fashioned fireworks.

This movie might not make a lick of sense in terms of chronology and setting, but that won't stop you from caring deeply about its characters and laughing at its jokes.

This is one of those things where I really wish I could get more people to buy/rent the movie at work, simply because it's so much goddamn fun, but have to settle for the fact that for the most part, the incredibly sincere Japanese acting and the over-the-top Western landscapes (including a painted backdrop that purposefully gets blood sprayed on it) won't mesh with the average viewer's careful expectations of what they want from a movie.

For shame, too, because this is actually precisely what you want from a Western. Nobody goes into a Western for it to make any historical sense! Am I right! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via a brand new Blu-ray (1080p) HD presentation and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature in 2.35:1 aspect ratio
Audio: English 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Stereo
English and Spanish Subtitles
Sukiyaki Western Django : Extended Cut (HD, 159:57, with Optional Japanese Subtitles)
Making of Featurette (SD, 52:37, In Japanese with English Subtitles)
Deleted Scenes (SD, 06:37)
Sizzle Reel (SD, 03:12)
Promotional Clips (SD, 02:58)
US and Japanese Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots (SD)
Reversible Artwork

'Sukiyaki Western Django' Original Movie Trailer

'The High Note' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jr. Kelvin Harrison, Ice Cube, Bill Pullman, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / PG-13 / 2020 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Set in the dazzling world of the LA music scene comes the story of Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), a superstar whose talent, and ego, have reached unbelievable heights, and Maggie (Dakota Johnson), her overworked personal assistant.

While stuck running errands, Maggie still aspires to her childhood dream of becoming a music producer. When Grace's manager (Ice Cube) presents her with a choice that could alter the course of her career, Maggie and Grace come up with a plan that could change their lives forever.

Blu-ray Verdict: Just so we're all on the same page here, 'The High Note' is a new romantic music film directed by Nisha Ganatra, the director of Chutney Popcorn and Code Academy.

The film is about Maggie (Dakota Johnson), who works as a personal assistant to the famous singer Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). Maggie tries to break through as a music producer in the music world, but Grace and her manager Jack Robertson (Ice Cube) provide little further help in making her desired career switch.

Grace later meets up-and-coming singer David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and tries to help him break into the music world and therefore pretends to be a music producer.

Maggie hopes that she will break through with David, but when it is discovered that she is not an official music producer, she can forget her dreams in the music world.

The music elements of this film are clearly visible. Cast members Tracee Ellis Ross and Kelvin Harrison Jr. ensure good and realistic singing in the film.

Both come across as credible as their own kind of singer, because Tracee comes across as an ambitious and somewhat arrogant singer due to her success, while David plays the rather nice but insecure starting singer.

Both have a good relationship with Dakota Johnson and her character. Tracee Ellis Ross is also the daughter of the famous singer Diana Ross and with this role she almost looks like her mother as a singer during her younger years.

The film's weaker point is the film script, as it was written by Flora Greeson and this is only the first film script she has written. With the exception of the musical genre, the romantic genre is somewhat obvious.

Furthermore, it is also written a bit messy, so it is not really clear whether the film should be more of a comedy or a drama film. Oh, and for those playing along at home, the actual "story" of the film is very similar to the story of the film 'Begin Again' that came out in 2013.

In closing though, and with it also being of a similar structure to 'The Devil Wears Prada' (minus the biting dialogue and insightful commentary on a high profile industry), 'The High Note' briefly touches on ageism, sexism, and nepotism, as well as the 'money vs art' question - but the purpose here is entertainment, not enlightenment.

True artists have an incessant need to create, often risking a comfortable position to stretch themselves - showing the iconic Capitol Records building a few times, and contrasting Maggie's Nova with Grace's Bugatti, doesn't quite make the philosophical statement that we'd expect for a deeper message.

Instead, it's a feel good movie. It's comfort food, and it's delivered with a crisp bow on top. And in these days, what more could you ask for? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:

Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes
The Dream Team: Inside the Creation of 'The High Note'
Making A Legend: The Grace Davis Story
"Like I Do": Original Song Music Video

'The High Note' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital] is out August 11th, 2020 via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

'COMA' [Blu-ray]
(Rinal Mukhametov, Lyubov Aksyonova, Anton Pampushnyy, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / MPI Home Video)

Overview: After a tragic accident, a young architect wakes up in a dystopian world: COMA. Here, reality is made from the memories of people who have fallen into a comatose state.

Cities, rivers and the sky all flow in and out of each other — fragmented and unstable just like our memories. The common laws of physics don’t exist and nightmarish reapers roam the land spreading death.

Having lost most of his own memory, the architect must develop new skills to survive and adapt to the chaos around him. On his search for a way back to reality, he joins a rogue group of fighters and discovers a secret that will affect their lives forever.

Blu-ray Verdict: An amalgamation of 'Annihilation,' 'The Matrix' and 'Inception,' 'COMA' is a story chock full of weird dreams, fantasies, and psychosis. Add to that en masse of layered upon layered CGI, the sci-fi genre has been admittedly quiet these past few years, and so we should all welcome this movie with open arms.

To be honest, and having watched the trailer a few times before the Blu-ray arrived for review, I assumed that it was simply an American B-movie, but it turns out (as the trailer tends to hide all speaking-on-camera actors), that it's a badly dubbed Russian to American movie.

But hold on, that doesn't make it bad, as a whole. No, far from it, for whoever the CGI team were, well, wow, they did a fantastic job at creating running wild, highly imaginative landscapes and cinescapes for the actors to play within.

Colorful from all angles and with a plot not that hard to follow, and coming complete with a twist ending you will either roll your eyes at and throw your hands up in the arms in disgust at, or you will warmly embrace, smile and nod in appreciation (for me, it was the latter), 'COMA' may well be swimming in the waters of a Russian 'Inception 2', but its filmmakers carefully tread water, instead of taking a deep dive, into questioning the nature of reality.

In closing, sure, the dubbed speeches come across annoyingly out of sync, for the most part, but once you learn not to stare at the mouths of the actor speaking and just concentrate on another actor or some building scenery, the visual buoyancy found here within 'COMA' does start to win the day. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Extras of:

"CGI" - Featurette
"The Characters" - Featurette
"Love" - Featurette
"The World of COMA" - Featurette
Audio Tracks: English Dub and Russian with English subtitles.

'Coma' [Blu-ray] is out August 4th, 2020 via MPI Home Video.

Official 'COMA' Trailer

'Automation' [Blu-ray]
(Elissa Dowling, Sadie Katz, Graham Skipper, Parry Shen, Sarah French, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / Epic Features)

Overview: A workplace robot, "Auto" transforms into a killing machine when he discovers he will be replaced by a more efficient model.

"Auto" fears being terminated and will stop at nothing to prevent his own destruction. The human employees must band together to stop him before it's too late.

Blu-ray Verdict: In this deliciously wonderful, purposely tongue in cheek, low budget Sci-Fi comedy piece of cinematic gold, set in the near future in an unknown city, and just six months into an insulation manufacturing company's Automated Worker Program has been imputed, and aside from the slew of human worker lay-offs (in fact, 90% and just before Christmas too, so why don't we have a party to celebrate!) that came from it, everything seems to have gone rather smoothly for the company!!

Enter "Auto", a prototype humanoid robot half a year into his shift, and so boss and the old boss's daughter, Susan, have decided (well, moreover she has decided) not only to upgrade "Auto" but add en masse more (and newer model) robots to the automated team.

Their plan is to then retire the prototype known as "Auto" after transferring his internal data to the new models, but, of course, and only in these types of comedic-bent movies, "Auto" is outside the office door and happens upon the damning information (crushing a tea cup in his steel claw).

So, and aside from the usual grouping together of office workers, rightly disgruntled, and angry (and now ex-) employees, and, of course, the office harlot, "Auto" rises up and his previously issued commands (a twist I won't spoil here) come menacingly to the fore; bringing us a robot vs. humans battle for the (low budget) ages!

With one of the best lines in the movie being "He's firing a laser," spoken by a woman, albeit calmly, to Susan, adding "We don't need that for Shipping and Receiving!", the tone of the movie is set right there and then, for as much as this is a Sci-Fi movie at its heart, the comedic levels are most certainly always bubbling underneath.

"Auto"s only ally is Jenny, an independent contractor who stayed on despite a 32% pay cut, and yet is always distracted away from her actual job, due to working on her music video.

From the off she is friendly with "Auto, noticeably calming him, allowing herself to have a "friend" that doesn't want anything from her.

As for "Auto" himself, well much like those old Sci-Fi TV shows and films back in the '50s, you're not fooled at any time into thinking it's a real, or even a CGI robot!

I mean, it's obviously a man in a thinly disguised costume (voiced by VO Artists Jim Tasker), but knowing, and better yet, being at peace with that going in, is what will make this movie (a to-be much revered classic ten years from now!) the fine evenings entertainment you had hoped for.

Whilst most definitely showcasing a giant, slow wink to the gloriously cheesy horror days of companies such as Vestron and the mighty Troma, 'Automation' updates a lot of things, and also manages to strain the cheese long enough each time to bring forth some dedicated B-movie acting.

Looking through and beyond all that though, 'Automation's scripted core still manages to raise some rather pertinent questions, such as What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be automated? And to what genuine extent are any of us actually ever so-called "free agents"?

In closing, if you are a fan of all those '80s low budget horror and Sci-Fi movies, where actors go to rooms and places that no sane person ever would, and where the language is slightly fruity, but never overly coarse, and for no good reason simulated sex scenes abound, then 'Automation' is the movie for you!

As for the Special Features, well, my personal favorites are the immersive Behind The Scenes Featurette and the slew of Audio Commentaries (one with Director Garo Setian and Writer Rolfe Kanefsky, and one with Setian, Producer Anahit Setian, and Producer Dan Bowen).

Collectively they reveal how certain things were done, what scenes took the longest to get right and why, and how certain actors really stepped up their game on set.

Indeed, it is more than obvious that the filmmakers along with the cast had a genuine love and respect for one another, as you simply could not make such a low budget, so-called "indie" B-movie as this without a lot of care and attentive devotion from all parties concerned. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Extras of:

Audio Commentaries
Deleted Scenes
Alternate Scenes
Behind The Scenes Featurettes
Writing The Screenplay
Building "Auto" with 'Evil' Ted
"Auto's Voice" An Interview with VO Artist Jim Tasker
Bonus Interviews

A few words from the Director: "It seems every day there is another news story or article concerning the threat of machines replacing people in the workplace. We are also seeing stories about the development of robots that can learn to behave more human by observing human behavior."

"So what would happen when a robot with this ability to learn, replaces humans in the workplace, but then faces the prospect of being replaced by more advanced technology? Our movie AUTOMATION is a cheeky take on this concept."

"Our goal was to tell an interesting and timely story with characters the audience cares about. So despite the film being a satire of corporate cost cutting and planned obsolescence, there is a true heart to the movie in the relationship between Auto and Jenny." - Garo Setian (Writer /Director/Producer/Editor).

'Automation' [Blu-ray] is out now via Epic Pictures.

Official 'Automation' Trailer

'Orange Is the New Black: The Final Season'
(Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2020 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Netflix’s original flagship series comes to an end when 'Orange Is The New Black: Season Seven' arrives on DVD and Digital July 28th from Lionsgate.

DVD Verdict: Even here in its seventh and final season, 'Orange Is The New Black' continues to make bold moves!

Sure, ok, I think we can all agree that there have been a couple of sleeper seasons amongst the bunch, but here in the end game, well, we are in for some serious prison malarkey, my friends!

This seventh and final season of the American comedy-drama television series consists of thirteen episodes, each between 55 and 89 minutes long.

For those not in the know, the series is based on Piper Kerman's memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison (2010), about her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison. [The series was created and adapted for television by Jenji Kohan].

In this final season, Piper struggles with life on the outside, while life in Max, as corrupt and unjust as ever, goes on without her.

Taystee's friendship with Cindy still hangs in the balance as her life sentence looms, Gloria and her kitchen staff are confronted by the hard truth of Polycon's newest profit stream, while others chase drugs or dreams and grapple with the reality of their place in this world.

In truth, Taystee’s story line got even darker. She tried to hang herself from a prison bunk, in a crushingly bleak scene, and when that failed, she asked Daya (Dascha Polanco) for drugs to help her end her own life.

She wrote a letter to Cindy’s (Adrienne C. Moore) daughter revealing her parentage, which indirectly led to Cindy’s homelessness. And yet, as the season continued, Taystee kept finding fragments of things to cling to.

Her friendship with Tamika (Susan Heyward), now Litchfield’s warden, was one. Her realization that she could help other inmates get their GEDs by tutoring them was another.

She came up with an idea for helping recently paroled women succeed on the outside by teaching them financial literacy and giving them microloans, via a fund named after Poussey.

After she learned that her lawyer didn’t think there was sufficient new evidence to open an appeal in her case, and Taystee realized all over again that she would likely be in prison for the rest of her life, she also found out that several inmates had passed their GED test. “You made this happen,” Tamika told her in a note. “Tomorrow will be better.”

Will it? With Taystee, the show found an ending that wasn’t uplifting, necessarily, but that wasn’t outright devastating either. She remained unjustly incarcerated for murder, while the people who covered up Piscatella’s death went free.

Her friend was fired as the prison warden and replaced with an abusive, power-hungry, drug-smuggling guard. Still, Taystee was left with something to wake up for every day—the ability to help other women so that they’d have a better chance at life than she did. It’s not the ending I wanted for her.

It’s not the ending she deserved. But it was a way for the show to reconcile its commitment to capturing the reality of the penal system with its duty to a character who helped carry it for seven seasons.

OK, sure, Taystee didn’t get justice ... yet, but I’m still hopeful for a future version of the show in which she does! But she did, despite everything, manage to survive, and surely that's what matters the most ... yes?

Overall, the final season of Orange mostly works — even if it is surprisingly dull at points — and does give a compelling, emotional farewell to these characters that we’ve grown to love.

It cements the series’ legacy as something truly special — something that felt almost magical at the beginning — and absolutely proves why these stories need to be told. Oh, and in case you are still on the fence about watching this incredible show, 'Orange Is The New Black' addresses several social issues in the most hilarious ways. It shows you how prison can break a person and turn them even worse that they were before getting it.

It also shows you how capitalism has affected what should be government owned properties, and turned prisoners into rather slaves.

It shows you how racism is still very much alive and how it affects the discriminated against and how it favors the rich and white over others.

It also shows how prisoners are being treated and sexually harassed just because they cannot speak of it.

It even addressed homosexuality and how it is stigmatized even by law enforcers. It shows how religion has made tribalism stronger than ever and so, so much more.

personally, I love how it shows prisoners as people by making you relate to them in a funny way. Normally in life, one wouldn't sympathize with prisoners nor want their tax money going to better their lives, but this show shows you that they are people after all and how they were brought up contributed to who they are now.

In short, 'Orange Is The New Black' is very strong in its characterizations and you really get to know all the characters inside and out.

Furthermore, you understand their struggles and why they act the way they act. You really feel empathy and love for so many of these characters.

Indeed, the wonderful thing about this show is that there is no real main character. We jump back and forth between many complex characters and learn so much about their background and so on.

In short, this wondrous series has excellent direction, writing, cinematography, setting, soundtrack and acting and every single actress in this show delivers superlative performances. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Evolution of "Orange"
Here We Are ... At The End
A Message to the Fans

Official Trailer

Official Website

Amazon DVD Purchase Link

'The Sin of Nora Moran' [Blu-ray]
(Zita Johann, John Miljan, Alan Dinehart, Paul Cavanagh, Sarah Padden, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1933) 2020 / The Film Detective)

Overview: The Film Detective (TFD), a leading classic media streaming network and film archive that restores and distributes classic films for today’s cord-cutters, is proud to announce 'The Sin of Nora Moran' (1933) will be available to audiences this summer on DVD and in a special, limited-edition Blu-ray collectible (only 1,500 available).

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, this Poverty Row, Pre-Code marvel that stunned audiences when released in 1933, stars Zita Johann as Nora Moran, a young woman sentenced to death for a murder she did not commit.

Awaiting her sentence, Nora explores the patterns of her life in a dream-like haze, including the dark secret that could change not only her own fate, but the fate of those she holds most dear.

Directed by Phil Goldstone, who under "Phil Stone" also directed such works as both 'Backstage' 'Snowbound'), 'The Sin of Nora Moran' masterfully utilizes flashbacks, dreams and hallucinations to tell the tale of fateful doom, true to the thematic style of the Pre-Code era.

With the lesser captivating working title of 'The Woman in the Chair,' it's true that this is low-budget production, but it also comes complete, and at times even overflowingly, with high production values.

Directed by Phil Goldstone and starring Zita Johann, a notable stage actress with few films to her credit, here her characterization of Nora Moran offered her a very rare opportunity in a lead feature film performance.

The storyline is that an ex-circus performer, the titular Nora Moran, becomes a New York chorus girl and meets up-and-coming politician, and soon to be Governor, Dick Crawford (Paul Cavanagh), and they begin an affair.

Since Cavanagh is married, he sets up a neat little love shack for their off-the-books trysts, but after a few months of this, what can only be described as an accidental murder abruptly ends their love affair.

District Attorney John Grant (Alan Dinehart) - who also narrates the story - is assigned to prosecute Moran and as he actually also helped Cavanagh to win a state governorship, and is the brother of his cheated-on wife, well, things immediately look rather grim for Moran.

Complete with such music cues as both 'Nora Theme' and 'Love Theme', composed by Heinz Roemheld and introduced perfectly into this film - they were also used in other films produced by numerous low-budget studios in the mid-1930's, including Universal and Republic - the cinematography is rather excellent for its time too.

Sure there's a certain "cheapness" to the overall picture, but that's exactly what the director (in my mind) was going for. This isn't a pretty, colorful, and amusingly meandering film from 1933, but instead embodies a thoughtful, thought provoking screenplay that fully deserves its darker moments.

As for the lead roles here, well, in my humble opinion, the film definitely benefits from Johann being just so damn good in the title role.

She's very attractive, knows her cues, seemingly monitors her vocal responses to a tee, and also manages to deliver a fully rounded character performance.

A star of stage and screen, Johann was fresh from performances in Boris Karloff’s 'The Mummy' (1932) and Edward G. Robinson’s 'Tiger Shark' (1932), so delivering such a grand, if not haunting-at-times performance here was always on the cards, I'd like to think.

The supporting cast, including John Miljan, Alan Dinehart and Paul Cavanagh - as well as Henry B. Walthall in a brief part - are equally astute in their roles, but Johann shines like the bright star here (even in the most dullest of lit sets, at times).

To promote the release, TFD is holding a Willy Wonka-esque promotion, with one gold certificate sealed in one of the limited-edition Blu-rays.

The winning ticket holder will receive a framed, 27” x 41”, hand-pulled lithograph of the film’s original poster by painter Alberto Vargas, deemed one of the most iconic posters in film history.

Printed on Coventry 100% cotton archival paper with the finest quality archival ink using a rare, antique German Dufa printing press, by Society Ltd. (1999), the poster comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Packaged in in a sleek, black case — with elements from the film’s original poster — this spellbinding crime drama will be released with a stunning, new, 4K restoration of the film from the original 35mm camera negative.

The DVD is presented in Dolby Stereo and the Blu-ray in DTS, a restored, duel mono original. Aspect ratio is 1.37 pillar boxed.

Commented Sam Sherman, film producer and an heir to Johann’s estate, “A superior restoration of The Sin of Nora Moran in an elaborate, deluxe presentation.”

This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:37.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of being narrated by film historian and producer Samuel M. Sherman, an original documentary where Johann’s illustrious career takes center stage from Daniel Griffith at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, with the Blu-ray including English subtitles and the DVD closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

The Blu-ray edition only will also include an exclusive collector's booklet with commentary on the production of and response to the film.

'The Sin of Nora Moran' will be available for purchase July 29th on DVD ($19.99) and in a collectible limited-edition Blu-ray ($24.99).

With only 1,500 Blu-ray editions available, fans can order a copy now by CLICKING HERE.

'Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons'
(Michael Chiklis, Sasha Alexander, Asher Bishop, Noshir Dalal, Castulo Guerra, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Mercenary and master assassin Slade Wilson leads two lives: one as the relentless killer known as Deathstroke and the other as a dedicated family man.

When these worlds collide, forced together by the vicious terror group known as H.I.V.E., it is the killer in Slade who must fight to save his loved ones, as well as what remains of himself.

With his soul torn apart and his young son held captive, Deathstroke will have to atone for the sins of his past to fuel the battles of his future!

Blu-ray Verdict: OK, before we dive into this quite brilliant 'Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons' film, it should also be known that this has been produced in a dual format.

Initially as animated shorts, the first five of which appeared on CW Seed, with a runtime of 87 minutes, this feature-length 'Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons' film has nearly 50 minutes of never-before-seen content, including the film’s thrilling climax!

The film is also rated R for bloody violence/gore, language, disturbing images, and some sexual content, but don't let that sway you from taking a visual shot on it, as it truly is an amazing work of visual art, my friends.

For everything about this storyline, the animation and especially the voice acting is top class ab-fab, that's for sure! Incorporating the parts of Deathstroke we know and love along with adding new twists and turns, this feature-length 'Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons' (in my humble opinion) does not have one flaw to its name.

Featuring Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Michael Chiklis (The Shield), who headlines the cast as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, alongside Sasha Alexander (Rizzoli & Isles) as Wilson’s wife, Adeline “Addie” Kane Wilson, let alone Chris Jai Alex (ThunderCats Roar) as The Jackal, Faye Mata (League of Legends) as Jade/H.I.V.E Queen, Griffin Puatu (Beastars) as Joseph/Jericho, and Imari Williams (Transformers: Rescue Bots), this 87 minutes is jam-packed action combined with some rather suspenseful moments too!

Sung Jin Ahn directs the film from a script by J.M. DeMatteis, and so what we get is, some might say, a slightly imaginative children’s fantasy world that allows the tale to begin being told.

We learn more backstory about the origins of Deathstroke and his abilities, why he feels the way he does, and what truly motivates him, and all that takes a little time, sure, but when things get going, well, there's no slowing this film down!

Anyway, Slade reunites with Addie and they tackle a grown Joseph, who has fallen in with the H.I.V.E. Queen (Faye Mata) and now goes by Jericho.

As for those aforementioned never-before-seen, all-new-material 50 minutes of content, well, 'Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons' builds very nicely to it and slides seamlessly into it, to ensure the film has one heck of a thrilling, and ultimately wholly satisfying climax, of that you have my word! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Feature of:

• Deathstroke: One-Man Death Machine (New Featurette) – Some think he’s a villain. To others, he’s an unsung hero of secret wars fought all over the world. One thing’s for certain: When you see the orange-and-black mask, Deathstroke is coming!

Go behind the mask and into the deep backstory of one of DC’s most revered anti-heroes in 'Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons', a new entry in the popular series of DC Animated Movies.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Blue Ribbon Content and DC, the feature-length animated film will be released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting August 4th, 2020, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack on August 18th, 2020.

'Poetry In America, Season 2'
(Marilyn Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Randy Komisar, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Katie Couric, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Poets, public figures and members of various communities join series creator Elisa New to engage in close readings of a single American poem.

Each episode mixes lively discussion with archival materials, location footage and vivid animation.

The series offers audiences an immersive and accessible experience in reading poems that touch on many aspects of American life, past and present.

DVD Verdict: In the second season of 'Poetry in America', guests join Elisa New for a lively and immersive discussion of the poems of Marilyn Chin, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Mark Doty, Yusef Komunyakaa, Stephen Sondheim, William Carlos Williams, and Walt Whitman.

Produced by Leah Reis Dennis and Cathleen O'Connell, and Narrated by Host Elisa New, this is a truly fabulous series that does an excellent job of showcasing a diverse range of classic and contemporary American poems.

Each episode is a deep dive into the historical and literary context, language, and form of a single poem, some well-known and beloved and others newly discovered.

Professor New's interviews with writers, musicians, artists, politicians, and everyday people lend profound insights into the vitality and necessity of poetry and how it shapes our public and private life.

Personally, I am very grateful and most definitely humbled to have these 8, 20-odd minute discussions of specific poems to view from my sofa and with others surrounding me.

Many poets and poetry teachers get locked into one form of discipline to discuss poems - and only the "approved" poems - but here we get given a wondrous mix and blend of different poems, and from a wide range of known and unknown people.

Simply put, poetry is an extraordinary art. It nourishes everyone. So please purchase this DVD today. You, and your family and friends, will not regret it. Of that you have my word.

Includes: Urban Love Poem – Marilyn Chin
One Art – Elizabeth Bishop
The Fish – Marianne Moore
This Your Home Now – Mark Doty
Finishing the Hat – Stephen Sondheim
You and I Are Disappearing – Yusef Komunyakaa
This Is Just to Say – William Carlos Williams
Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS DVD Purchase Link

'Nova: Eagle Power'
(DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: 'Nova: Eagle Power' explores the bald eagle, a North American legend, with a deep connection to Native American cultures and emblematic status that helped it make a remarkable journey back from the brink of extinction.

DVD Verdict: Eagles dominate the skies, but what makes these predators so special? Researchers put one eagle to the test here in 'NOVA: Eagle Power' and stunning up close footage reveals her incredible strength, eyesight, and flying skills.

Narrated by Eric Meyers and produced by Laurie Cahalane, Melanie Wallace, and Simon Baxter, 'NOVA: Eagle Power' is a very insightful, and extremely close up look at the bald eagle (aka Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and takes us on mountainous journeys that will leave you in awe for days.

The bird of prey found in North America, another of its ilk is the sea eagle, and it has two known subspecies and forms a species pair with the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla).

Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico and it is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.

NOVA takes you into the lives of these spectacular birds, following a nest of bald eagle chicks as they face everything from sibling rivalries to insect swarms and learn the skills they'll need to survive.

Meanwhile, researchers study one special golden eagle, using cutting-edge filming technology to capture her hunting techniques and flight maneuvers.

Learn what makes an eagle, and see how these birds' exceptional adaptations help them survive and thrive in every imaginable habitat in this brand new, and fascinating new PBS documentary 'Nova: Eagle Power,' out now on PBS DVD. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS DVD Purchase Link

'American Masters: Mae West - Dirty Blonde'
(Mae West / DVD / PG / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Mae West achieved great acclaim in every entertainment medium that existed during her lifetime, spanning eight decades of the 20th century.

A full-time actress at seven, a vaudevillian at 14, a dancing sensation at 25, a Broadway playwright at 33, a silver screen ingénue at 40, a Vegas nightclub act at 62, a recording artist at 73, a camp icon at 85 - West left no format unconquered.

'American Masters: Mae West - Dirty Blonde' is the first major documentary film to explore West's life and career, as she "climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong" to become a writer, performer and subversive agitator for social change.

DVD Verdict: As I'm sure all us of a certain age already know, Mae West was possessed with creative and economic powers unheard of for a female entertainer in the 1930s - and still rare today.

Though she was a comedian, West grappled with some of the more complex social issues of the 20th century, including race and class tensions, and imbued even her most salacious plotlines with commentary about gender conformity, societal restrictions and what she perceived as moral hypocrisy.

'American Masters: Mae West - Dirty Blonde' takes us through her life, whilst never shying away from the fact that she was also one of the most controversial movie stars of her day.

Born Mary Jane West on August 17th, 1892, in Brooklyn, New York, to Matilda and John West, family members called her Mae (spelled May at the time) from an early age.

Matilda, also known as "Tillie," was a German immigrant and aspiring actress, but her parents' disapproval in career choices brought her dreams down to a more realistic profession as a garment worker.

However, she clandestinely abandoned her seamstress work for the less respectable, though somewhat more glamorous work, as a fashion model and never totally gave up the prospect of having some career in show business.

Over the years, West encountered many problems, especially censorship. She once quipped, "I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it," and she bucked the system by making comedy out of conventional mores; and the Depression-era audience admired her for it.

When her film career ended, she wrote books and plays, and continued to perform in Las Vegas and the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and even recorded rock 'n roll albums!

Indeed, and rightly so, in 1999, the American Film Institute posthumously voted West the 15th greatest female screen legend of classic American cinema.

For more on the Hollywood star, please purchase the brand new 'American Masters: Mae West - Dirty Blonde' DVD today from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS DVD Purchase Link

'Asian Americans'
(Ming Na Wen, Satsuki Ina, Greg Watanabe, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: 'Asian Americans' delivers a bold, new perspective on the Asian American experience that will surprise, move and inspire audiences.

The five-part documentary series traces the epic story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, international relations and cultural innovation.

DVD Verdict: In what is obviously a very timely area to now be presented in, 'Asian Americans' is clear-eyed look at the vital role that Asian Americans have played in defining who we are as a nation.

As the United States is rapidly becoming more diverse, but also more divided, how do we move forward together? Through the lens of the country's fastest growing population, 'Asian Americans' illuminates the way one group of Americans, who were long excluded and considered outsiders, have pursued two visions of the American Dream: one of opportunity and a better life, but also the pursuit of ideals of equality and a more perfect union.

Their stories are a celebration of the grit and resilience of a people that reflects the experience of all Americans and here in 'Asian Americans' (out now on DVD from PBS and narrated by both Daniel Dae Kim and Tamlyn Tomita), we quickly learn that the US Asian population is a diverse one, for sure.

Indeed, a record 20 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, languages and other characteristics.

Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success.

The 19 largest origin groups together account for 94% of the total Asian population in the US which means that a perfectly representative national survey of 1,000 adults would include 59 Asian Americans.

For more insight on this subject matter, please purchase the brand new 'Asian Americans' DVD today from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS DVD Purchase Link

'American Experience: The Vote'
(DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, 'The Vote' tells the dramatic story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote, a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in U.S. history.

DVD Verdict: In its final decade, from 1909 to 1920, movement leaders wrestled with contentious questions about the most effective methods for affecting social change, debating the use of militant, even violent tactics, as well as hunger strikes and relentless public protests.

The battle also upended previously accepted ideas about the proper role of women in American society and challenged the definitions of citizenship and democracy.

Here in the quite eye-opening, and hugely relevant to our current times documentary, for a myriad of reasons, 'American Experience: The Vote' tells us about how passed by Congress June 4th, 1919, and ratified on August 18th, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote.

It details further how the 19th amendment guaranteed all American women the right to vote, but achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation and protest.

Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution.

Few early supporters lived to see final victory in 1920.

Beginning in the 1800s, women organized, petitioned, and picketed to win the right to vote, but it took them decades to accomplish their purpose. By 1916, almost all of the major suffrage organizations were united behind the goal of a constitutional amendment. When New York adopted woman suffrage in 1917 and President Wilson changed his position to support an amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift.

On May 21st, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18th, 1920, the amendment passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states.

Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26th, 1920, changing the face of the American electorate forever.

To learn more about this incredible achievement and all that went into it "behind the scenes," please purchase the brand new PBS DVD 'American Experience: The Vote' today. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS DVD Purchase Link

'Masterpiece! Mystery – Endeavour, Season 7'
(Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, James Bradshaw, Sean Rigby, et al / 2-DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Shaun Evans charms audiences with his portrayal of the younger version of Inspector Endeavour Morse in this highly successful prequel.

Season 7 finds Endeavor and his team solving crimes at the dawn of a new decade — the socially progressive 1970s.

DVD Verdict: Endeavour and his colleagues are entering a new decade and era of change. Opening on New Years Eve 1969, normal order has been resumed and the team reunited at Castle Gate CID, with Chief Superintendent Bright back in charge.

However, the events of the past year have left their mark. Old friendships will be challenged, and new relationships will blossom.

Simply put, if you think that you could enjoy a slightly repetitive show, albeit a very good, engrossing, well acting with interesting characters one set in the late '60s, and now early '70s, and one that lends it's charm and beauty to those periods to perfection, then this is, without a shadow of a doubt, the show for you, my friends!

Sure the general length of the episodes requires you make time for them (here in the seventh season we get 3 episodes spread over an amazing 4.5 hours!), but perhaps the shortness of the seasons compensates for that. Personally, I would rather have slightly shorter episodes and more of them, but that's just me, perhaps.

Moving on and none of these cases are perfectly sensible, logical or anywhere close to being grounded in todays reality, but therein lies the rub as they do suit perfectly the early, heady, and more simplistic days of the '70s.

In a series that uncompromisingly sticks to the rules and customs of the setting things out, layering them, never giving things away, never even bringing you close to guessing the culprit before the last 15 minutes or so, we also get strict tracking continuity from shot to shot.

Add to that characters' motivations from scene to scene seem to gel spotlessly, seamlessly, and yet, yes, admittedly getting to the main point, the crux of the storyline can take a dozen or so red herrings and some misdirects, I'll give you that!

But here in 'Masterpiece! Mystery – Endeavour, Season 7,' indeed with every season thus far (ok, sure, there have been a couple of fillers), this is television at its best.

Cerebral, intricate, yet simple, and efficient, this is excellent production and storytelling from tip to toe. Shaun Evans is just perfect for this role as the older John Thaw version of Morse. His body language, facial expressions, tone, basically everything is finessed to conjure up Thaw's spirit to perfection.

Furthermore, there could not have been a better choice for DI Fred Thursday as Roger Allam, a fine actor and together he and Evans make solid duo.

In closing, we need more TV such as this! A lot more! Highly recommended, especially if you like old school detective stuff - like myself! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS DVD Purchase Link

'Grantchester - The Complete Fifth Season'
(Robson Green, Tom Brittney, Al Weaver, Tessa Peake-Jones, Kacey Ainsworth, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: It's 1957, and Reverend Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) has settled into his role as vicar in idyllic Grantchester.

But as local DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green) knows, every Eden has its snakes—and there's darkness lurking in their corner of Cambridgeshire.

DVD Verdict: Based on acclaimed mystery novels by James Runcie, and highly reminiscent of 'Father Brown,' 'Grantchester' is a beautiful time piece, peacefully captured with vignettes of rich objects identifying a long gone world of wonderment and scenery serene to dye your soul.

The episodes run a quick 45 minutes each and are a comfortable fit for an evenings viewing. I admit to enjoying British period pieces, such as 'Foyle's War' and the aforementioned 'Father Brown,' and so this show is a welcome addition to the genre.

The fact that, whether it's true or not, back in the 50's the Vicar's of small Parishes were all a) drunks, b) crime solving addicts, and c) one-liner wiz's, seems to make me smile!

James Norton played the crime-solving vicar in question for four seasons before this fifth one, and as I loved the way Norton portrayed his character, I was skeptical about the series continuing when he made the decision to leave.

However, that skepticism slowly faded as season four unfolded with Tom Brittney stepping up to the proverbial pulpit (in the unfolding episodes) and with season five the skepticism is completely gone.

With characters as irresistibly likable as this, it's understandable that change could bring some bitterness to an avid viewer. When you start to deviate from the natural progression of characters, it betrays everything audience members liked about the story to begin with.

If it wasn't for the way the show has progressed, I would speak more highly of the show and sure, although I can understand the reasons for change, it is still frustrating in the way it was handled.

Anyhoo, I'm happy it is continuing; however, and I was eager to see what is in store for the seasons to come. And here in the fifth season, yes, even the new vicar is now found helping his friend, a local cop, solve murders!

I mean, why not! But the whole thing is never really very dark, for the cinematography is colorful, the little community around the new vicar is warm and friendly, and the viewer feels instantly drawn to the stories as they unfold.

Indeed if Poirot had a handsome younger brother, it would be newcomer Vicar Tom Brittney for his charisma is rather suppressed, but equally impressive at the very same time.

As for this fifth season, Brittney has the same chemistry with Robson Green "Geordie" as he he had with "Sydney". It's a great period piece and the new Vicar seems to be more open minded than even I expected.

Featuring 6 episodes running 6 hours over 2 DVDs, life in 1957 Cambridgeshire certainly gives the appearance of tranquility and contentment.

As noted, Will is hitting his stride after taking over for departing vicar Sidney Chambers, and he's intrigued by local reporter Ellie Harding (Lauren Carse).

Geordie, meanwhile, has come to terms with his wife Cathy's (Kacey Ainsworth) desire to work at a department store — especially once her mum (Paula Wilcox) visits to help out and bring him his slippers.

In the opening episode, a student at an all-female college turns up dead after a night of drinking — and there are many murders to come, along with storylines involving drug abuse, racism, homophobia and mental illness.

For my money, this fifth season is probably the most uncomfortable to watch, and for a minute there I thought one of the episodes was way outside the 'Grantchester' brief, so to speak.

But, as it plays out, it turns out to be the best episode yet, in my humble opinion, for in that hour, two boys make a suicide pact and a dark secret is unveiled that has a devastating effect on the main characters.

So yes, 'Grantchester' still maintains its humor. It still maintains its life-affirming themes and Will and Geordie's growing bond is a pleasure to watch.

With Sidney, the detective could relate as a fellow veteran; they shared the experience of war. With Will, he's the son he never had and Geordie is the father he's never had. And watching along, I'm happy to say that lovely relationship is really cemented early on.

In closing, the show overall is reliably well produced, the scripts true and the characters full of flaws to satisfy the most demanding 'make-them-human' viewer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs with the Bonus Feature of:

Grantchester: The Making of Season 5

'Arthur: The Ultimate Friendship Collection'
(3-Disc DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Join Arthur and his friends for 48 friendship-filled stories featuring more than 10 hours of fun!

DVD Verdict: If you were not aware, 'Arthur' is a show that gives off such a great message of friendship. Even though all the characters are so lovable, they each have their own unique flaws.

Like how Arthur complains about D.W all the time or like when Muffy gets her snobby attitudes. Also when Francine gets competitive, and the brain brags about his IQ!

Ergo, 'Arthur' represents life's imperfections and how to deal with them for Arthur and his friends have so much fun together because, and solely because they except each other for who they are.

Which I think is definitely a message kids should learn early in their lives and what makes 'Arthur: The Ultimate Friendship Collection' one of the best 3-Disc DVD releases of 2020 thus far!

In this value-packed collection, Arthur, Francine and Buster must complete a report on ancient Rome. Can they work together to complete the school assignment?

Then, D.W. loves to get her own way. Can she learn how to be nicer to her friends to continue playing with them on the playground?

Plus, Arthur receives some bad news – Buster is leaving town to go live with his dad for a while! Is this the end for the two buddies?

Learn how to work together as a team, care for other's feelings, build new friendships, and much more!

These 48 friendship-filled stories - with the most episodes from seasons 8 and 9, with five episodes each; and no episodes from seasons 14, 16, 22, or 23 - are filled with tales of honesty, open-mindedness, compromise, and compassion and are just perfect (and safe) for your young ones to engross themselves within.

119b. "Arthur Makes the Team"
122b. "Team Trouble"
126b. "Poor Muffy"
203b. "Buster and the Daredevils"
208b. "The Big Blow-Up"
212a. "Arthur's Faraway Friend"
219b. "Finders Key-pers"
301a. "Buster's Back"
312a. "What Scared Sue Ellen?"
404a. "The Contest"
406b. "Prunella Gets it Twice"
407b. "To Beat or Not to Beat"
504a. "The World Record"
510b. "Muffy Gets Mature"
601a. "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked"
601b. "Best of the Nest"
605a. "The Boy Who Cried Comet"
703b. "Don't Ask Muffy"
704b. "Waiting to Go"
709a. "Prunella Sees the Light"
801a. "Dear Adil"
802a. "Fernfern and the Secret of Moose Mountain"
803a. "Arthur's Snow Biz"
804a. "Fernkenstein's Monster"
808b. "Tales from the Crib" 902b. "George Blows His Top"
904a. "Buster's Green Thumb"
906a. "Arthur Makes Waves"
908a. "The "A" Team"
1002a. "The Squirrels"
1006b. "Arthur Changes Gears"
1007b. "D.W., Bossy Boots"
1102a. "Arthur Sells Out"
1107a. "Hic or Treat"
1107b. "Mr. Alwaysright"
1204b. "Ungifted"
1207b. "I Owe You One"
1209a. "Home Sweet Home"
1302a. "The Silent Treatment"
1508b. "Best Enemies"
1509a. "Buster's Garden of Grief"
1704a. "Opposites Distract"
1704b. "Just the Ticket"
1802a. "The Friend Who Wasn't There"
1909b. "Besties"
2001b. "Arthur and the Whole Truth"
2104a. "Muffy Misses Out"

This is a 4x3 Full Screen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: By virtually every yardstick, antisemitism in the US and Europe is rising and worsening in ways not seen since the 1930s.

It comes in the forms of vandalism, social media abuse, assault and murder. Like a virus, it mutates and evolves across cultures, borders and ideologies, making it all but impossible to stop.

Emmy®-winning filmmaker Andrew Goldberg and producer Diana Robinson explore its infectious behavior in 'Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations.'

Goldberg travels through four countries to speak firsthand with victims, witnesses, antisemites, and interview subjects including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Fareed Zakaria, George Will, and many others.

DVD Verdict: With opening narration by Julianna Margulies, the film examines the far right in the US and how it has incited such acts as the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Moving to the far left in England, see the traditionally anti-racist Labour party conflating Israel and Jews, causing tremendous harm to the Jewish community.

And in France, delve into the seemingly endless wave of violence against Jews by Islamists and radicals.

To my mind, this excellent documentary on the sad state of hatred directed at Jewish communities around the world is a must-see for everyone around the world.

Yes, you can disagree with Israeli Policies; but to attack one's innocent neighbors is never acceptable. As one of the commentators says: "When things are prosperous, folks say what can we do better. But when times are tough, who can we blame?"

I wish we could criminalize Conspiracy Theorists! The ignorant are not just stupid they are dangerous!

Indeed, the increasing antisemitism within each of these four countries paints a terrifying portrait of how this kind of global hatred begins, and how easily it disseminates.

As activist Maajid Nawaz explains, "If we don't draw a red line in the sand when it comes to antisemitism, Muslims will be next, gays will be next, and everyone else who is deemed a minority will be next."

Thus, I implore you, no matter your political or worldly standpoint, to watch this 'Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations' (out now on DVD from PBS), as it is always good to hear both (more) sides of any story. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Dahmer: Collector's Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Jeremy Renner, Dionysio Basco, Bruce Davison, Matt Newton, Artel Great, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2002) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: A butcher. An animal. A monster. Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (Academy Award© nominee* Jeremy Renner, The Avengers) was vilified when authorities discovered he murdered, dismembered, and even tried to consume the bodies of 17 young men in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

But is there such a thing as a human monster? Starting somewhere between popular legend and historical fact, 'Dahmer' dares to explore the truth of a man many called an abomination of nature, but who was most decidedly a living, breathing person.

Inspired by life events, it takes you into the demented world of this lonely factory worker and examines the ways in which his twisted personal pain led to the most self-destructive extremes of human cruelty.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, Jacobson's film shows little violence. That's a point I'd like to stress because there is a certain audience I think will appreciate this film but who may not give it a chance because they expect graphic nastiness.

Against the film's interests, the marketing tries to sell the film to the cheap horror-movie audience and I think this is a pity. Instead of depicting violence, Jacobson's film discomforts you using dramatic means - principally writing and acting. All of which are used with enough skill to distinguish the film from cheap horror movies.

It would be wrong and unfair to dismiss 'Dahmer' because of its packaging. It is a well-written and performed character drama.

It's subject matter is too horrible for the general drama audience to welcome, but at the same time its serious approach makes it too straight for the entertainment market.

By that I mean the Hannibal Lecter/Seven audience, who prefer their serial killer tales abstracted (and therefore made safe) by the presence of movie stars.

'Dahmer' is more akin to Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer in being low budget, filled with unfamiliar faces, and focused so much on the killer that there is no awareness of the authorities or justice in the story. There is no hero cop or FBI agent in pursuit.

Furthermore, 'Dahmer' is very unlike McNaughton's infamous film because, as already mentioned, it's low on violence, but also because it's a technically better-executed piece of work.

The photography and editing, the use of music, the already-mentioned acting and writing, make this a surprisingly good-quality film considering the expectations stacked against it.

One technical achievement I find worth noting is how well it recreates period. Sequences set in the '80s have a visual authenticity that puts big budget studio attempts to shame.

Obviously, you know what kind of film you like. If what I've said above sounds interesting to you, then I recommend giving it a look. I repeat that you will not see much in the way of gore or violence.

There are plenty of films with more graphic content dressed more commercially. 'Dahmer' won't make you feel good. It isn't a fun movie, but if you are looking for something with more substance you may just find it here. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature from a brand new 4K HD master struck from the original camera negative supervised by director David Jacobson presented for the first time in its original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Audio: DTS 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Mono LPCM
English and Spanish Subtitles
Audio commentary by director David Jacobson and actors Jeremy Renner and Artel Kayaru
Making of Featurette (SD, 16:17)
Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
Story Boards
Red Band Trailer (SD, 02:13)
Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 01:45)

'Dahmer: Collector's Edition' [Blu-ray] is out September 15th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Dahmer' Trailer

(Dayo Okeniyi, Ben Robson, James Cromwell, Kat Graham, Keean Johnson, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / Universal Pictures)

Overview: 'Emperor' is inspired by the legend of Shields "Emperor" Green (Dayo Okeniyi), a descendant of African kings turned outlaw slave in the pre-Civil War South.

Seeking freedom for his family, Emperor fights his way north, joining the daring raid on Harper's Ferry and helping alter the course of American history.

DVD Verdict: Inspired by the true story, the film follows Shields Green (Okeniyi), who in 1859 escaped from a plantation and made a daring journey north where he met Frederick Douglass (Lennix) and John Brown.

With the opportunity to continue to freedom in Canada, Green instead chose to fight to end slavery. The raid at Harpers Ferry is considered one of the sparks that led to the Civil War.

Ready, willing and always able actors, Academy Award® nominee Cromwell and Academy Award® nominee Dern, play John Brown and Levi Coffin, respectively, two of the great heroes of the American abolitionist movement.

Known for her role in the Starz drama, Power, Naughton plays Sarah Green, the wife of abolitionist and runaway slave Shields Green. Sheer, recently seen in The Disaster Artist and Veep, portrays drunken, pretentious plantation owner Duvane Henderson.

The film, directed and co-written by former Lionsgate executive Mark Amin and Pat Charles, and primarily shot in Savannah, Georgia, is actually very timely for our day.

For Shields Green’s story tells us about a time when so many brave people were fighting for racial equality, meaning Shields’ willingness to die for the principle he knew was right – that no man is born greater than any other – moves one to the core, believe me.

Indeed, this cinematic story of courage and fight against injustice will resonate deeply with audiences worldwide for its timeliness and enthralling depiction of a legend and his allies who literally changed the course of history. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official 'Emperor' Purchase Link

Official 'Emperor' Trailer

Official 'Emperor' Website

'Open 24 Hours'
(Vanessa Grasse, Brendan Fletcher, Cole Vigue, Emily Tennant, Tomi May, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2018) 2020 / 4Digital)

Overview: A young woman, newly-released from a mental hospital where she landed for setting her brutal boyfriend on fire takes a job at an all-night gas station.

Soon, the isolation triggers her paranoia and hallucinations, with devastatingly gory results.

Blu-ray Verdict: In what is writer/director Padraig Reynolds's fourth full-length film, 'Open 24 Hours' is one of those incredibly tight, well orchestrated, low budget suspense movies that takes a simple concept (such as locking in on a primary location and allowing the imposing weather conditions to become one of the main characters) and complete with some rather creatively, and well drawn actor portrayals, allows it to organically become an incredibly tense, unknowingly all-consuming, and quite brutal (whether or not what we see is actually real or in the hallucinating mind of our lead) production of the highest order.

Indeed, and therein lies the brilliant caveat to all this bloody onscreen mess, for it's left up to us, the engrossed (and at times grossed out) viewer, the cinematic interloper, to question what is indeed real verses what might well be going on in the paranoid, delusional and broken mind of our lead character, Mary (Vanessa Grasse, working at full tilt here in her fourth movie).

'Open 24 Hours' (which was so obviously filmed in Serbia that it does somewhat distract a little away from anything found in the US) opens on a quick, and bloody flashforward scene, but soon thereafter takes its own sweet time in setting in motion all the pieces of Mary's life up until her taking the graveyard shift at the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere gas station.

Simply put, after discovering her live-in boyfriend was actually a serial killer of women (35, so they say), Mary set their family home on fire with him inside it!

The trouble was that due to Mary having accompanied said boyfriend (the calm, cool and collected Cole Vigue as James) on some of his latter kills, quite literally watching him perform these acts (which the press then nicknamed her "The Watcher" for), she herself got prison time.

But, now out on parole, and with a grizzled Parole Officer on her case every day, asking for daily check in's, Mary (a chain smoker) gets this low-end job to appease everyone; but moreover to try and start her life anew, whilst still fighting trauma, paranoia and delusions.

Look, I'm not going to plod through every scene, give away crucial moments to watch for (although the scene where James has three of the cast strapped to chairs alongside each other does rank high in my gore viewings now), or even reveal the ending, but with Grasse performing at a high level here, albeit in the outward guise of a young Anne Hathaway, and Emily Tennant playing her friend Debbie, working overtime also to make these best buds realistic, well, combined with the cinematic work of David Matthews, 'Open 24 Hours' never lets you visually break away for one second.

As for that not-to-be-revealed ending, well, all I shall say is that it was a wee bit too ambiguous for my liking. I like a nice, tidy, job done ending, but here it's actually left to the viewer to determine if what they have just witnessed was all in Mary's mind, or has actually happened.

The tacked on 10 second clip (come the fade to black) is needless, in all truth, but might, or might not set up a sequel, I guess. But again, you can add that to the conversation in your head about what you have just witnessed on your own time.

Oh, and in case you are curious, in the Alternative Ending feature, we get to see that our main character actually leaves the gas station, albeit in a complete mess, walking past all the victims into the distance, the movie ending on her doing so! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Extras of:

Director's Commentary
Alternative Ending
The Making of 'Open 24 Hours' Documentary

'Open 24 Hours' [Blu-ray] is out now via 4Digital.

Official 'Open 24 Hours' Trailer

'Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk'
(Sam Gittins, Joe Egan, Ryan Winsley, Jennifer Martin, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / Trinity Creative)

Overview: A WWII POW with boxing abilities is targeted by a Nazi Commander, who wants to pit the prisoner against his own champion in a match.

The soldiers use the diversion leading up to the fight to plot a mass escape back to Dunkirk and freedom.

DVD Verdict: In this most finest of cinematic quality-produced British films made on a budget, Danny Finnegan, (played by Sam Gittins), is an accomplished British boxer, finding himself retreating from the advancing Germans near Dunkirk.

He is captured, but a German SS Officer identifies him and pits him in the boxing ring against an equally talent German boxer. At the same time, however, the POW's use the cover of the boxing ring to stage an escape.

Personally, and as you might already have guessed, I thoroughly enjoyed this film from start to finish, and although the first third is a wee bit slow, building its scenes, molding its characters, the plot overall is very solid and commendably well written.

Not to give too much away, as trust me, there are various twists and turns here, 'Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk' plays on your heart strings throughout (well, once the action starts up).

Sure we have our hero "fall guy" allowing others to escape, but remember those twists and turns I just mentioned, well, the final outcome to it all is something that fully deserves viewing.

I mean, the lad must have trained for months as a boxer, as he was on point the whole time in both his on-screen training and his actual fight scenes. Showcasing an incredibly good boxing technique, it's also possible he was a trained boxer beforehand, I guess!

The on-screen chemistry between the main characters Danny and Billy is especially moving to behold, as we watch them travel the journey through boy to men, bonding their friendship over time, over the years, never allowing either one to falter.

Promising to give them a fight they simply cannot take their eyes off, our brooding hero boxer Danny might well take center stage here, but for me, the girl playing Chantalle (Jennifer Martin) is an absolute standout as the mysterious French farm girl.

In conclusion, the story line is determinedly good, albeit that such events would not have actually happened in reality during the German advance on Dunkirk, and the acting is top notch and emotionally present at all times from the primarily young, and unknown cast. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVS.

'Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk' [DVD] is out August 18th, 2020 via Trinity Creative.

Official 'Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk' Trailer

Bloodfight + Ironheart [Bolo Yeung Double Feature]
(Bolo Yeung, Julian Lee, Richard Norton, Britton K. Lee, Yasuaki Kurata, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Bloodfight' takes you back to the arena of death. Chang (Bolo Yeung Jean Claude Van Damme's final opponent in 'Bloodsport' and Bruce Lee's nemesis in 'Enter The Dragon' is the ruthless and unbeatable title holder of the World Free-Fighting Tournament.

In 'Ironheart,' martial arts expert, John Keem (Britton K. Lee) is out for revenge, but he's in for the fight of his life. His target is, Milverstead (Richard Norton, Mad Max: Fury Road), the ruthless drug dealer that killed his best friend.

Blu-ray Verdict: On the heels of 'Bloodsport' (1989), director Shuji Goto snagged the formidable Bolo Yeung, attempting to capitalize on that film's success for his similarly titled, 'Bloodfight'.

The plot echoes 'Rocky IV' as retired world champion martial artist, Masahiro Kai(Yasuaki Kurata), now the trainer of a fledgling gym, prepares for his main event fight against Chang Lee(Bolo Yeung), the one responsible for the murder of a former pupil, Ryu Tenmei (a really young Simon Yam).

Kai watched as Ryu battled against a group of bullying punks, led by Stuart Smith, seeing a possible champion-in-the-making, hoping to take him under his wing.

At first Ryu resists, instead concerned with a career in basketball that is until he has another altercation with the punks, left battered and bruised.

To the dismay of girlfriend Milly, Ryu will abandon his potential basketball career, working hard with new trainer Kai, preparing for a tournament in the hopes of becoming world champion.

In truth, 'Bloodfight' is an unexpectedly serious action flick that has some good, at times artistic camera work. Unlike most Chinese martial arts films, this one does not have the awful English overdubs that make these films so bad.

The Chinese actors are actually speaking English, albeit with heavy accents, and it lends an extra level of quality to the production. The story is good, if not very original.

Kung-Fu cult icon, Bolo Yeung is his usual demonic self as the fighter who takes the kid's life. Basically a revenge flick, but with some decent character development and higher production values. In 'Ironheart' (1992), Richard Norton really lights the screen up in this Portland, Oregon-based martial arts masterpiece. Norton, an Aussie heartthrob, plays the evil Mr. Milverstead who runs a successful import/export business both smuggling arms and participating in the female flesh trade.

Usually the women are plucked from his favorite dance club with the help of a squad of goons the most well known of who is Bolo Yeung, playing the role of Ice.

Trouble comes for Milverstead when a new cop in town John Kim (Britton Lee) is out to avenge his dead partners murder at the hand of Milverstead's organization.

If you have time to see only one (or in this case, two) martial arts movies this year, don't miss this quite brilliant Double Feature classic. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1 / 1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Bloodfight + Ironheart' [Bolo Yeung Double Feature] [Blu-Ray] is out August 11th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Max Reload and the Nether Blasters' [Blu-ray]
(Tom Plumley, Wil Wheaton, Lukas Gage, Martin Kove, Greg Grunberg, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: A small town video game store clerk must go from zero to hero after accidentally unleashing the forces of evil from a cursed Colecovision© video game cartridge!

Blu-ray Verdict: OK, it's true that when you see the game store owner is Kevin Smith, you instantly know what level of humor to expect, along with how many zany, left of center and unrealistic scenarios are about to head your way, but at least here in 'Max Reload,' well, he's not the center of attraction, so to speak!

That all said, I got exactly what I expected to from watching this movie and have to say I was thoroughly entertained for its 80 minute run time.

Heralding from something born of the mid-'80s, complete with animation (of the day ilk) and oh-so colorful blasts of light and flares, 'Max Reload' is a blast (all puns intended) from back in the day, lovingly created here in modern times.

Furthermore, when I also saw that Greg Grunberg, Wil Wheaton, Martin Kove and Lin Shaye were in the cast list, I must admit that all just further enhanced my viewing pleasure!

Personally, I can't claim to have an ounce of interest in Kevin Smith, so there was no hype for me there, but if that tickles yer funny bones, you can add this movie to his "out there" hit list, that's for darn sure!

Chock full of '80s ambiance and cheesy catchphrases galore, and with Grunberg taking the lead role with both hands, never once letting slip his mask of What have I signed up for here?, there are some really nice, and interestingly fun references and Easter eggs spread throughout the movie, if you wish to rewatch (which I'm sure you all will).

Directed by Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp, sure there are times when it feels like the plot has been locked into autopilot, when the cast are working through their individual (character building) issues, or it has to arc off to bring in a side-stored plot point, but overall 'Max Reload' is a quite brilliant, 'Jumanji'-like story that unfolds perfectly as you watch it. All in all, 'Max Reload and the Nether Blasters' is a riotously fun, '80s-themed, highly colorful film that is best suited for all gamers and hardcore pop culture nerds alike. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Art and Animation Featurette
"NetherCragon" VFX Featurette
"Egypt" VFX Featurette
"Reggie Gets Nethered" Anatomy of a Scene Featurette
"Speed Run" Bonus Featurette
Original Theatrical Trailer

'Max Reload and the Nether Blasters' [Blu-ray] is out August 11th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

Official Trailer

'Split Second: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Michael J. Pollard, Alastair Duncan, Pete Postlethwaite, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1992) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: In a flooded future London, Detective Harley Stone hunts a serial killer who murdered his partner, and has haunted him ever since. He soon discovers what he is hunting might not be human.

Blu-ray Verdict: Well, taking it from the top, and despite some decent word of mouth and an exciting advertising campaign, the under-appreciated 'Split Second' underperformed at the U.S. box-office due to the fact that it opened during the weekend of the Los Angeles, California riots!

It should also be noted that Ian Sharp directed several minor scenes, with Michael J. Pollard, as well as the sequences of the final showdown in the metro, after the original director quit!

With all that and much more already going against the production of this film, which was also titled 'Pentagram' in its early stages, 'Split Second' was finally shot in just eight weeks, pre-production only lasting three weeks.

Anyway, enough of all that and, simply put, 'Split Second' is the epitome of '90s fun ... or whatever you want to call this fantastic brand of entertainment!

If you appreciate classics like 'Big Trouble in Little China', 'Tango and Cash', 'The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai' and such, it means you have the sense of humor required to lovingly add this one to your collection!

Rutger Hauer plays a slightly psychotic cop in a futuristic London (2008!) facing a supernatural threat. Complete with awesomely snappy dialogue and great acting, this makes this Sci-Fi B-movie a magnificent movie now to watch in 2020!

The setting for this movie is very dark, similar to 'Blade Runner' and Rutger Hauer delivers yet another great performance. A few interesting actors in this movie that you will recognize from well-known British movies and American series' along the way, but for the most part the stand out is the delightful, and uber-sexy Kim Cattrall ('Sex and the City').

Fun fact, Cattrall still has her hairdo from 'Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country' (1991) which indicates that the shooting of this movie happened shortly after the completion of 'Star Trek VI.'

But, and as always with the great man, Rutger Hauer is what really makes this film work, with his dead-pan delivery and sarcastic comments!

Like some of the best movies in its sub-category, ala John Carpenter's classics like 'The Thing', 'Escape From NY', and the aforementioned 'Big Trouble in Little China,' this movie excels in great characters that you love giving great sarcastic dialog and the best one-liners!

One-liners on par with Carpenter's best! Even the all too brief character of "The Rat Catcher", played excellently by Michael J. Pollard, who you will recognize, is played so well that you feel bad when he is killed later!

This is why this movie endures, sure, but the plot was pretty decent too! With the entire British police force now on the hunt for this (possibly) abnormal killer, they use what they know from Hauer as a map to track the thing down into the sewers where it dwells.

In one scene, as Hauer and his new partner (who he has no time for from the very start!) make their way through the sewers, they finally come face to face with the creature. A Xenomorph-esque type creature that prowls under the water!

Chock full of "bad" clichés - some of them even laughably bad - they take nothing away from (possibly even enhance!) this movie. Again, Rutger Hauer steals the show here, his character, Harley, an enjoyable and yet tough guy with his witty retorts abounding!

Alastair Duncan was enjoyable as Dick Durkin and it was great seeing him at the end become a cold, hard killer, who handled his own when face to face with the "thing'!

Overall, a pretty enjoyable experience, warranting repeated viewings, and of which I would highly recommend to any '80s/early '90s action or horror fans out there.

Interestingly enough, originally, Wendy Carlos - who composed music for A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980), and TRON (1982) - was hired to compose the score, but her work was rejected and a new score was composed by Francis Haines and Stephen W. Parsons.

That said, a couple tracks of Carlos's rejected score, which were going to be used in the morgue scene, were included on her album Rediscovering Lost Scores, Volume 2.

The song 'Nights in White Satin' by the Moody Blues features prominently in the movie as the romantic theme. In fact, it's featured in a bar scene as background music as well ('Knights in White Satin' is the title of a remake by Giorgio Moroder). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes chock full with the new/old Special Features of:

High Definition (1080p) presentation of the main feature in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, newly scanned, restored and color graded in 4K from the 35MM internegative
Audio: 2.0 LPCM Stereo
English Subtitles
NEW! Audio Commentary by action film historian Mike Leeder and filmmaker Arne Venema
NEW! "Great Big Bloody Guns!" Producer Laura Gregory & Actor Alastair (Neil) Duncan on Split Second (HD, 27:25)
NEW! "Call Me Mr. Snips!" An Interview with Composer Stephen W. Parsons (HD, 22:21)
NEW! "Stay In Line!" An Interview with Line Producer Laurie Borg (HD, 23:02)
NEW! "More Blood!" An Interview with Creature Effects Designer Cliff Wallace (HD, 32:03)
NEW! "Shoot Everything!" An Interview with Cinematographer Clive Tickner (HD, 18:57)
Original 1992 Split Second Making of featurette that includes interviews with stars Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Alastair (Neil) Duncan, Michael J. Pollard, Writer Gary Scott Thompson and more! (SD, 6:26)
Original 1992 behind the scenes featurette with effects creator Stephen Norrington, cast and crew (SD, 3:41)
Split Second Japanese Cut, full frame with burnt-in Japanese subtitles (SD, 95:00)
Deleted Scenes from the Japanese Cut (English, burnt-in Japanese subtitles) (SD, 4:42)
7 Promotional TV Clips (SD)
U.S. VHS Home Video Promo (SD, 2:34)
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:15)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Dude Designs created exclusively for this release
Collectible Mini-Poster featuring original style VHS artwork

'Split Second: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out August 11th, 2020 via MVD Visual.


(Sadie Scott, Isabelle Barbier, Deeksha Ketkar, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / Lightyear Video)

Overview: On the last night of her college freshman year, Izzy tries to lose her virginity with the help of her two best friends - but their only hope is getting into an exclusive, invite-only "Crush Party."

DVD Verdict: "You're like a Monk with with a vagina!" ... "That's a Nun!" It's a simple, yet throwaway line such as that, that had me hooked from the off and it just got better from there on in, trust me!

In this captivatingly perfect full-length debut from young filmmaker Emily Cohn (which had its World Premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival in April), and which was an absolute joy to watch unfold from start to finish, the dynamic between the three lead girls is both hilarious and tense, sure, but beautifully depicts their friendships nonetheless.

For me, Isabelle Barbier is hilarious as Izzy, and Sadie Scott and Deeksha Ketkar take their roles equally two-handed, and with both bravado and a soaring desire to leave everything behind on camera.

With the filmmaker employing innovative narrative devices to usher the story along, 'CRSHD' is the most perfect time capsule for life for millennials, of that have no doubt.

These three leads must have hung out beforehand as on screen their timing is perfect, their chemistry real and honest, and their deliver of lines - both serious and comically - is as spot on magnificent as ever it could be.

A tender-hearted coming of age film at its finest, 'CRSHD' an unblemished look into todays society, where the spirits are high and the social media antics are on point! Oh, and the musical score is also well chosen and typical of today too. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary with Writer/Director Emily Cohn
Q&A with Emily Cohn and stars Isabelle Barbier, Sadie Scott and Abdul Seidu (courtesy of Cleveland Cinemas)

'CRSHD' [DVD] is out August 11th, 2020 via Lightyear Video.

Official Trailer

'Time Loop'
(Sam Gittins, Mino Sferra, Ellie Poussot, et al / DVD / NR / (2018) 2020 / Trinity Creative)

Overview:A father and son team of scientists unlock the secret of time travel while researching time movement.

During their first test they get trapped in a Time Loop, where their actions, in the past, have grave consequences, for the present and future.

DVD Verdict: Having sat down and watched this last night, sure it's not perfect, and sure there are repetitively-themed moments galore throughout (I mean, it's right there in the title, so it was to be expected!), but at its heart, 'Time Loop' is a work of low brow Sci-Fi that wouldn't have been out of place on the infamous Syfy Channel.

Then again, 'Time Loop' (aka 'Time Perspectives') doesn't feature any monsters, or treacherous situations, or stun guns, or nefarious villain's, or space ships, so maybe not!

That all said, what the film does feature, is a three person-helmed magical work of B-movie art that opens on an old Sanyo radio cassette playing an oddly whistled song, whilst we watch our lead, Ricky Farina (Sam Gittins) go over and over the math done for the creation of the "Time Machine" in front of him.

Quite how he and his father, Riccardo (played, at times, in a hurried, unintelligible rotation of Italian-to-English words by Mino Sferra), ever managed to create such an amazingly magnificent work of electronic majesty in their dirty old barn is beyond me, and as for the investment money having come from the fathers savings and a few loans, well, I don't know anyone that would be able to loan me the millions it would have cost to make this thing, let alone never want to see the fruits of said same outlay!

But here in 'Time Loop' (as with all movies of this ilk), we put aside obvious issues such as this and allow ourselves to enjoy what has been graciously filmed for our viewing attention.

With the monitor screen graphics having been told to us to have come from an old video game Ricky had been working on just prior (although they themselves are just two wave bars fluctuating all the time!), the first test fails and the two men come together to figure out why.

In truth, you can piece together exactly how this movie will play out from the off, but that doesn't spoil it in the slightest, for watching this film for what it is, 'Time Loop' is a soothing, evenly run, tight ship that never once lurches too far.

Subsequently, weird things happen to Ricky as he himself is transported back in time by just over an hour several times, creating new versions of himself each time.

We never get told what happens to these other versions of him, especially given that in this small Italian town, he himself has to work hard to avoid them, but that's seemingly a plot point for another day.

There are quite a few lingering shots in the opening third, that you expect to come back later in the film to mean something, but they just don't.

And plot points such as the Lotto, University Professor Celestine Dijoux (Ellie Poussot), his fathers out-of-nowhere fall from a cliff edge, a cute piglet, a girl in town, a stolen Vespa and a "Time Machine" that just keeps annoyingly turning itself on and off throughout the film, admittedly keep the film running nicely, but far too many of them lead nowhere throughout the 84 minutes run time.

But, chock full of beautiful, sweepingly scenic landscapes of the Cancellara and Basilicata regions of the Italian countryside used for filming 'Time Loop,' the film is multi-layered, colorful, and oh-so well acted by Gittins ('Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk'), that you forgive all the plot points that don't come to mean much and simply allow the film to play out. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Time Loop' [DVD] is out on VOD, Digital and DVD on Tuesday, September 1st, 2020 via Trinity Creative.

'1275 Days: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / FilmRise - MVD Visual)

Overview: After a botched home invasion, 15-year-old Blake finds himself facing a virtual life prison sentence for felony murder.

With the unwavering support of his single mother and teenage girlfriend, a David-and-Goliath uphill battle ensues in Elkhart, Indiana. They take on the system in hopes of a second chance.

Blu-ray Verdict: In October of 2012, five friends, including 15-year-old Blake Layman, attempted to rob a home. After breaking in they were faced with gunshots; one hitting Blake in the leg and the other hitting his friend Denzel in the chest, ultimately killing him.

While Blake escaped into a closet, the owner phoned 911 to report the crime. When police arrived the boys were arrested and charged with felony murder. Sentenced to 55 years in prison, Blake’s family takes to social media in an attempt to gain support to appeal the case, feeling her son’s prison term was unjust.

Watching along, it's hard to fathom out how it is possible, in this day and age, to be charged with a murder you didn’t commit, while the person who actually pulled the trigger, and who made the call to the police, gets off scott free!

That said, and as we quickly learn, in the state of Indiana, if you are involved in a felony where someone dies, you will be charged with murder.

Indeed, the state’s intense law sends a message to anyone everyone thinking of getting involved in a crime that if there is a death, they will be charged with murder whether they pulled the trigger or not!

As is to be wholly expected, many people from the community support the family’s fight to get the court to appeal the case, but, amazingly, there are also a devote group who think the boys deserve the maximum sentence!

As we peer into the families personal lives, we watch as they begin to slowly break down as they struggle financially to pay their bills, attorney, and take care of Blake’s needs behind bars.

The court eventually appeals the felony murder convictions and the sentence is reduced from 55 years to 45 years, but completely dissatisfied with the results, petitions get filed to have the case transferred to the Supreme Court.

Remarkably, Blake is seen serving his time with no complaints of violence or torture from inmates, but weirdly, he doesn't even seem to be remorseful about the robbery.

He informs us that he feels that he should be charged with breaking and entering at the most, but not murder. As he graduates with his GED behind bars, the family delivers the news that the Supreme Court did indeed overturn the original conviction, leaving him with 10 years to serve.

Not to give too much away here, but Blake’s remaining time also gets reduced due to exceptional behavior and time already served and so, as we continue to watch along, the documentary comes full circle when Blake is eventually released and set free. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Theatrical Trailer
Photo Gallery
Experts on Retroactivity
Deleted Scenes

'Inside The Rain: Special Edition'
(Ellen Toland, Eric Roberts, Aaron Fisher, Rosie Perez, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / FilmRise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Facing expulsion from college over a misunderstanding, a bipolar student (Aaron Fisher) indulges his misery at a strip club where he befriends a gorgeous, intelligent, outrageous woman (Ellen Toland) and they hatch a madcap scheme to prove his innocence.

Blu-ray Verdict: At its core, 'Inside The Rain' is a rather invitingly dramatic expose of the struggle of a young man with mental challenges, that, perhaps, whilst watching, touches those of us whom may be ourselves a few beats away from much the same of a situation.

College film student Benjamin Glass (played by writer-director Aaron Fisher) has it all: ADHD, OCD, borderline personality. And he's also bipolar!

But Glass is more than his diagnoses - he prefers the term "recklessly extravagant" - and he's determined to prove his genius. When a misunderstanding threatens to expel him from college, Glass pushes back; he plans on recreating the incident on video, with the help of a moonlighting sex worker (Ellen Toland) to clear his name.

But how will he raise the money for the film, when his parents dismiss the scheme as another manic episode? Sure we get the answer to that, along with a slew of unintended others, along the way, but what 'Inside The Rain' is also, and free flows with it throughout, is a wincingly funny and expertly written new film for the ages.

Based on Fisher’s own life experiences, the plot admittedly switches erratically between comedy and drama sometimes, whilst all the while seamlessly juggling many (sadly) half-realized plot points.

But the movie’s strange, inconsistent rhythm ultimately works as a reflection of Ben’s manic and depressive states. Fisher’s performance is disarmingly blunt and deadpan, offering an up-close portrait of mental illness as a banal reality (which often involves negotiations with ill-equipped bureaucracy), rather than the stuff of horror or caricature.

Emma, whom Ben meets when he defends her from lascivious men outside a strip club, is the classic Hooker With a Heart of Gold. She has no compelling qualities outside of her sensuousness and her desire to help Ben, but she does it effortlessly (both in character and as the actress toboot).

Sadly, in my humble opinion, Rosie Perez gets short changed here as a smack-talking psychiatrist, the actor’s earnest charm undercut — as is the case with many of the film’s other off-to-the-left actors - but ultimately, there is no need for too much suspension of disbelief, for you will be invested from the off and that will carry you lovingly to its amiable conclusion. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Theatrical Trailer

'Five Corners: Special Edition'
(Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins, John Turturro, Todd Graf, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1987) 2020 / Liberation Hall - MVD Visual)

Overview: From Academy Award Winning director Tony Bill (The Sting) and Academy Award Winning writer John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck) comes 'Five Corners'.

John Turturo (Barton Fink) is "Heinz", a rapist who has been released from prison, who attempts to court Linda (Jodie Foster), the young woman whom he previously attacked.

Coming to Linda's aid is Jamie (Todd Graff), her disabled boyfriend, while Harry (Tim Robbins), her protector from the earlier incident, is preoccupied with joining the civil rights movement.

As Heinz' behavior grows increasingly bizarre, the offbeat tale moves towards its dramatic conclusion.

Blu-ray Verdict: In all honesty, from the moment I saw the names of Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins and John Turturro, and Oscar- winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley on the front and back cover art, well, I was very interested and so dived right into this Blu-ray with a lovely bottle of red to keep me company!

I was not disappointed. On the contrary, I was very pleasantly surprised. I love period movies, and this one is warmly set in New York City (specifically, in the Bronx) in 1964. The script may be a bit unusual, but that is part of its charm.

OK, sure, telling it like it is, Jodie Foster's role is small, but I think she does a fantastic job in the time she is on screen. Her New York accent is so believable you start thinking she actually is from the Bronx! She is certainly not wasted.

Tim Robbins and John Turturro are also excellent. A few people I've since spoken with about this film have stated that the latter's performance is even more admirable because it could have been over the top, but is not. Tim Robbin's portrayal of a young man who renounces violence is also excellent; an early sign of his acting genius, if I might be bold enough to remark.

Besides this film being an early entry in the filmography of Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins and John Turturro, it is also one of the few films made by Rodney Harvey, a talented young actor with a lot of promise (he was the Bellboy at the bed-and-breakfast where Kevin Costner and Sean Young spend the weekend in 'No Way Out') who unfortunately died of a drug overdose in 1998. Had he lived, I am sure, he would have gone far.

I also loved the sub-plot involving the glue-sniffing girls and the boys they meet. Plus, the mysterious bow and arrow vigilantes' antics are pretty funny too.

Overall, this is a charming, often funny, poignant film, with excellent performances, plenty of good humor, and even social commentary. I also think its portrayal of 1960's New York is right on the button. Oh, and the canny use of Beatles songs in the soundtrack is a nice touch also. I recommend it to anyone who loves movies and good acting. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary Track
Actor Biographies
Original Trailer
Chapter Menu

'Brutal Massacre: A Comedy' [Blu-ray + DVD]
(David Naughton, Brian O'Halloran, Ken Foree, Gunnar Hansen, Ellen Sandweiss, et al / Blu-ray + DVD / NR / (2007) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Harry Penderecki, a once heralded horror auteur, finds himself on the outside looking in at Hollywood. He hasn't had a hit film in years, and most in the industry, including his close friends, think he's washed up.

Harry is given one last chance to redeem himself with what could be his best or last picture.

'Brutal Massacre' becomes just that, as the cast and crew find themselves battling one mishap after another as Harry struggles to keep his sanity against overwhelming resistance to finish the picture and finds himself at the top once again.

Blu-ray Verdict: From director Stevan Mena (Malevolence) comes this hilarious send up of horror films and horror filmmakers featuring an all-star cast that includes David Naughton (American Werewolf in London), Brian O'Halloran (Clerks), Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Gerry Bednob (The 40 Year Old Virgin), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) and Ellen Sandweiss (The Evil Dead).

In truth, most movies I've seen about making a movie aren't very good, but this one bucks the system. It's a mockumentary about a director (David Naughton), who created one hit movie, but after a series of bad movies he is basically given one more chance to create a movie that people want to watch.

So he and his film crew head to a small town to film his latest movie, but once again, the director in question is just as awful as ever before!

He hires a cast of kooky film makers and actors and so everything that could possible go wrong while making a movie like this does indeed go spectacularly wrong in this moviemaking experience, of course!

Ergo, in this film-within-a-film, the acting is good, above far, but the characters portrayed are completely clueless (if that even makes any sense!).

'Brutal Massacre' is unto itself a low budget movie, but is still well done, in my humble opinion. I barely even noticed the lack of big effects or segued scenes and plot lines and just sat back and enjoyed the "mess" that is this Spinal Tap-esque new cinematic gem of wonderment!

Funnily enough, it actually reminded me a lot of The Office in some respects (aside from the fact it was filmed in Allentown, PA, not far from where The Office supposedly took place in Scranton, PA, of course.

Some of the humor is slapstick, some situational, and some subtle. For example, when David Naughton's director character talks about how Scorsese had problems making Apocalypse Now (it was Coppola), he reminded me of Michael Scott's attempts to appear knowledgeable on The Office.

In closing, 'Brutal Massacre' gives the audience a humoristic view on the set of a B-slasher movie. The acting is good enough, the story is pretty simple, but therein lies part of the strength of the movie.

The (often subtle) humor is great, although you have to be a fan of that. Of course, this isn't an all out fall of the seat, constant belly laugh movie (which I usually do not enjoy), but it has some superb moments to it.

With a well picked out cast, including Gerry Bednob (known from the 40 year old virgin) as the hilarious camera man Hanu Vindepesh, I highly recommend you check out this brand new Blu-ray+DVD Combo release of 'Brutal Massacre' for yourselves. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Behind the Scenes featurette
Deleted Scenes
On the Set featurette
Photo Gallery
LMB Poster Gallery
'What Happened Was True' - Director's Commentary
Weekend of Horrors Brutal Massacre Cast Panel
Theatrical Trailers
BRAND NEW artwork created exclusively for this release!

'Pit Stop'
(Bruce Payne, Swaylee Loughnane, Sam Dunning, et al / DVD / R / 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: A rave in a deserted warehouse, the perfect place to introduce a new designer drug - right?!

Two young blokes, alongside two girls picked up en route, quickly discover just how wrong they were!

With users turning, blood gushing and body parts flying, will there be anyone left alive amongst the undead?!

DVD Verdict: Originally titled 'Acid Pit Stop' (!), simply put, Paul (Hal Hillman) and Lucio (Callum McGuire) are hosting a rave, but are in need of the key element: Acid!

And so, whilst on their way to pick it up they get rear-ended by Shailene (Megan Jenkins) and Anita (Jennifer Johnson). Of course, as we always need a side-plot, Anita is Paul’s ex, but that aside (pun intended), and rather than doing the smart thing and calling a tow truck, the boys welcome them both into their own vehicle.

Once they get to the actual pick up point, well, that doesn’t go too smoothly either as Jake (Bruce Payne, Highlander: Endgame, here wearing a big, grey-white, curly mop wig!) seems to have taken a stupid amount of his own product; both now and progressively over the years!

The guys quickly discover that "homebrew drugs" frequently have nasty side effects, in this case, it’s a hunger for human flesh! As the foursome try to make their escape, James (Gbola Adewunmi) shows up.

Of course, we are due for another side-plot, so as he seems to have been expecting this, and at the same time has a score to settle with Paul and Lucio, the floodgates open of a new battle royale!

Once back on the road, we are presented with four YA's who along the way to the rave, stop to pick up 2 liters of liquid LSD, that clearly has a recommended dosage of just 10 ml per usage.

But, well, you know what happens next without me having to paint the gruesome picture for you and so yep, soon enough we have four more fast-moving zombies eating people!

There indeed is a twist that comes in this British, oh-so low budget films final third, but it's not exactly a cherished one for the genre, nor is it a totally unhidden one, but it works to a (plot) point, I guess.

In closing, 'Pit Stop' has many layers, one being a decent sense of its own B-movie humor, much like the identity of James’ zombie repellent (you'll see when you get there!).

Sure, ok, there’s more than a few gags that fall flat, especially some of the overly silly bits towards the end, but that's what you get from a movie such as '(Acid) Pit Stop'! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVS.

The Goonies: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital
(Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / PG / (1985) 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Following a mysterious treasure map into a spectacular underground realm of twisting passages, outrageous booby-traps and a long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons, the kids race to stay one step ahead of a family of bumbling bad guys ... and a mild-mannered monster with a face only a mother could love!

Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'The Goonies’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 1st, 2020.

For my money, this 'The Goonies: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'The Goonies' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the scenes in the underground cave, where all the walls and water and cracks and crevices were immensely darkly brown or green, now come alive, shimmer and shine! It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the now infamous Truffle Shuffle scene, where the looks on all the kids faces from the porch as lit up, expressive and not bland and buried within the textures of the old house. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kbps), Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kbps), Dutch: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (192 kbps), and Czech: Dolby Digital 2.0.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, this one gives me the warmest sense of nostalgia every time I watch it. It's the ultimate '80s kid adventure, as a crew of young pals seek lost pirate treasure beneath their sleepy coastal Oregon suburb. Led by a sharp-tongued Corey Feldman, the young actors do a great job of conveying that blend of quick wit and fading innocence. They might occasionally trip over words and step on lines, but that makes the production feel more alive, more real.

Because, let's be honest, in a room full of actual grade-schoolers, there aren't a whole lot of quiet moments.

The opening act, in particular, is a masterpiece of off-the-cuff jokes and effective scene-setting, as we get to know the gang and prepare the stage for their bicycle-powered expedition.

Later chapters can get a bit cute, and pacing is sometimes a problem, but those shortcomings are generally smoothed out by the film's convincing practical effects, sweet character and overwhelming sense of childhood discovery.

Furthermore, the cast is perfect. From Sean Astin's Mikey to Josh Brolin's Brand, all the kids are fantastic in the movie, and they really act like kids, screaming one over the other, insulting each other, doing stupid things and that's a really great thing.

The action and the adventure moments of the movie are fantastic too. It's just pure fun and entertainment and it sure has some of the best moments of this kind of movies.

Personally, I loved the part in the ship and the parts where they're trying to avoid the "booty traps"! Oh, and the she score by David Gruisin only increases the fun-filled, joyous levels of the adventure found within this delightful movie.

But, and again, once 'The Goonies' starts a-rolling, the action and the thrills do not stop! Some people I know always point out that this film has more to it than most action films.

Whether or not that is to your liking will depend on your tastes. The film is loaded with special effects. Some are good, and some ... not too good!

But, overall, 'The Goonies' is a veritable time capsule of the personalities, and production styles, of the period and, well, now I've got Cyndi Lauper running through my head again!

'The Goonies' stars Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Academy Award® nominee (2009) Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, Avengers: Endgame), Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys franchise), Martha Plimpton (TV’s “Raising Hope”), Ke Huy Quan (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix) and Lupe Ontiveros (TV’s “Lies in Plain Sight”).

'The Goonies' was directed by Richard Donner (Superman) and written by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter series, Mrs. Doubtfire) from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. Donner produced with Harvey Bernhard (The Lost Boys) and Spielberg executive produced with Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy (Indiana Jones series, Back to the Future, Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

As for the Special Features included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, the stand out for me is easily "The Making of The Goonies" Vintage Featurette.

Running at just under seven minutes, it opens with a now familiar voice shouting "Quiet please. This is a turn over. Rolling. Fade. Ready. Action." and Steven Spielberg pops up, leaning casually against a row of old mailboxes, informing us they are just making an "... ordinary adventure here, an ordinary fantasy, nothing extraordinary happens in this picture at all," and who then goes on to explain who the kids are and why they came together.

Layered atop a funky '80s bass line, we watch behind-the-scenes takes of, amongst other things, a police car diving off of a road into a boat in a harbor, cave antics, and numerous scenes on teaching the kids how to position themselves for the best camera shots.

'The Goonies' (along with 'Beetlejuice', 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows') will be available on September 1st, 2020 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 (expected retail price) each, and feature an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features in HD, and a Digital HD* version of the feature film.

Fans can also own the 4 films in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Cast Audio Commentary
Hidden Treasures Pop-Up Track
"The Making of The Goonies" Vintage Featurette
Deleted Scenes
Cyndi Lauper Music Video - "The Goonies R Good Enough"
Theatrical Trailer

Official 'The Goonies' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Trailer

'The Goonies: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link

Beetlejuice: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital
(Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Winona Ryder, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / PG / (1988) 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Michael Keaton, Academy Award winner Geena Davis, Alex Baldwin and Winona Ryder star in director Tim Burton's comic twist on supernatural horror tales, 'Beetlejuice'.

When a couple of nice, young homebody ghosts (Baldwin and Davis) try to haunt the pretentious humans who have moved into their house, they ask for help from a demonic wraith (Keaton) they cannot control in this comic fantasy that mixes the quick and the dead with a laugh and a fright.

Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'Beetlejuice’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 1st, 2020.

For my money, this 'Beetlejuice: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Beetlejuice' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265 (71.22 Mbps), Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the scene where Baldwin asks Beetlejuice if he can be scary, and Keaton breaks out his "alien tentacle" face (albeit from the back!) in the graveyard, where once before it was all blended in, dull and grey, here it is now brightly popping and highly effective for the scene in question (out of many)! It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably in every scene now where we get a close up of Keaton uttering his catchphrase "It's showtime", as the detail in his face (and those of the "dead couple," who I won't give away their names, in case you still haven't seen this incredible movie!), are now so defined, so, well, alive in their contrast and depth. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: Dolby Digital 2.0, French (Canada): Dolby Digital 2.0, German: Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0, Chinese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 and Czech: Dolby Digital 2.0.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, hyperbolic as it may sound, there has never quite been another film like 'Beetlejuice'.

Vomited from the maniacal mind of Tim Burton, before his name became tantamount to an adjective, the film is such a flurry of paradoxes that it really shouldn't work.

But work it does, not so much bending genres as warping and distorting them like the monstrous pantomime faces scrunched by its ghostly protagonists – a ghoulishly zany live action cartoon filled with wonderful weirdness, and an unequivocal '80s classic.

Only Burton could transmogrify the horror of life after death into a rambunctiously mischievous fairy tale, but the snarkily cheerful Leave it to Beaver New England introduction proves a perfect setup to the ensuing punchline of the afterlife.

Naturally, in the hands of dear Tim, the true horror of death lies not in the exquisitely realized, gruesomely surreal Dune-like wasteland of horrific stop motion leviathans, but in purgatory ultimately functioning as a garish, never-ending bureaucratic waiting room, with drawling receptionists thumbing copies of pedantic instruction manuals. Oh, the horror!

Indeed, for all its zaniness and Tex Avery-style slapstick, 'Beetlejuice' is a film brimming with surprising heart and cleverness.

Burton has always been at his pitch-black, satirical best ripping apart ideologies of 'normal life', and he has a ball equally taking jabs at our goodhearted ghostly protagonists (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, both charmingly flustered), who are tickled pink by the prospect of a 'staycation' cooped up refurbishing their home, or the house's posthumous inhabitants (the deliciously demented Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O'Hara), who tastelessly claw at postmodern décor or oafishly Machiavellian capitalism, goaded on by their preening design consultant Otho (the note-perfect Glen Shadix).

By contrast, it's pretty easy to sympathize with their goth daughter (Winona Ryder at her surly, adorable best), who cheerfully pens suicide notes beginning with "I am *utterly* alone" before it was cool.

This all goes without mentioning the film's star attraction: Michael Keaton, as the titular sh*t- disturbing Bio-Exorcist. Keaton's career-defining performance is truly on another level of comedic genius, as he roars through the film like a Tasmanian devil Rumplestiltskin, riffing, swearing, crotch-honking, and guzzling scenery like the demonic snake he eventually transforms into.

It's a tantamount to Keaton's wacky, manic charisma that he's barely in his own movie, and yet provides one of the most unforgettable filmic characters of all time from essentially an extended cameo.

And yet, the film's most bizarrely impressive accolade is, in spite of this cauldron of seething, seemingly antithetical weirdness, Burton has managed to stir up a strangely, unprecedentedly feel-good film.

Somehow, in its mad tornado of satire, gorgeously oddball visuals, and adventurously eccentric performances, seasoned with Danny Elfman at his infectiously bouncy best, and sprinkled with a couple of Harry Belafonte Calypso dance numbers for good measure (naturally), Burton's Gothic ode to the afterlife couldn't surge with more life and vibrancy.

Beautifully grotesque and morbidly heartfelt, for audiences familiar or inexperienced, it's unquestionably worth reciting the name three times, and uncorking the spectacular insanity of 'Beetlejuice'.

As noted, 'Beetlejuice' was brought to life from the imaginative mind of Tim Burton who went on to produce and direct some of the most visually stunning films of our time such as Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

'Beetlejuice' also received an Academy Award® for Best Makeup with renowned makeup artist and three-time Oscar-winner Ve Neill, and went on to be ranked on AFI's Top 100 list of Funniest American Movies.

As for the Special Features included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, there's not many, as you can see, but the stand out for me are the three (3) hilarious "Beetlejuice" Cartoon Episodes; which are crudely drawn and brought to life, sure, but still resonate a love for them from the viewer, even now.

Those episodes are: 'A-Ha!', 'Skeletons in the Closet,' and my own personal favorite, Spooky Boo-Tique.' Indeed, as they are not that long in length, you should go to YouTube now and watch the entire first season of the Animated TV Show!

'Beetlejuice' (along with 'The Goonies', 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows') will be available on September 1st, 2020 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 (expected retail price) each, and feature an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features in HD, and a Digital HD* version of the feature film.

Fans can also own the 4 films in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

"Beetlejuice" Cartoon Episodes
Theatrical Trailer

Official 'Beetlejuice' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Trailer

'Beetlejuice: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link

Sherlock Holmes: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital
(Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / (2009) 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: The hangman did his job, Dr. Watson declared the condemned man dead ... yet Lord Blackwood has emerged from the tomb to assert his deadly will over 1890 London.

Is he in league with the forces of hell itself? Is the whole Empire in peril? It’s a mystery macabre – and only Sherlock Holmes can master it.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law put memorable imprints on Holmes and Watson in this bold new reimagining that makes the legendary sleuth a daring man of action as well as a peerless man of intellect.

Baffling clues, astonishing Holmesian deductions, nimble repartee, catch-your-breath scenes of one slam thing after another – director Guy Ritchie helms the excitement reintroducing the great detective to the world.

Meet the new Sherlock Holmes!

Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'Sherlock Holmes’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 1st, 2020.

For my money, this 'Sherlock Holmes: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Sherlock Holmes' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the excellently orchestrated Meat or Potatoes? fight scene, where once it was all drab and uncolored, all a blend unto one another, here it is now vibrantly separated and allows each punch, each deflection from Holmes to be its own movement. It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the now he's Far Too Fond of Himself hanging scene, where the faces of all three centralized characters are now way more "alive" and expressive (given the horror they have seemingly stumbled in on!) Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, English director Guy Ritchie ("Snatch," "RocknRolla") applies his witty and gritty crime thriller style to the first mainstream 21st Century version of Holmes, one that will likely appeal to a younger crowd and those less familiar with previous incarnations of the iconic sleuth.

The reason is the new Holmes is much less concerned with the quality of the mystery and more focused on breathing a new quirkiness and style into the character and his top-notch detective work.

The script hopes you'll be hooked on the reveal of how Holmes figures everything out and not so much the crime/mystery itself. In other words our new Holmes is about creating an entertaining diversion in the form of clever logic, high-brow humor and old-school science - it uses mystery conventions but to a showier end. Downey Jr. continues to impress in his turn as Holmes, managing to employ his same wit and charms while creating a unique character that makes you feel as if you're watching Holmes, not RDJ with yet another accent.

This Holmes is not merely a wise detective of old, but the quirky type, suggesting some insanity behind the genius. RDJ makes him much more colorful and entertaining and takes attention away from an okay storyline.

The mystery surrounds Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who appears to have supernatural abilities derived from an ancient magic. He creates terror in London appearing to have risen from the grave and committed a couple murders.

Holmes and his dear friend Dr. Watson (Jude Law) are on the verge of ending their partnership because Watson has plans to settle down and marry when the crafty Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) gets them deep into the Blackwood case.

The supernatural angle didn't work well for the latest Indiana Jones film and it doesn't exactly do well here. Indeed, 'Sherlock Holmes' (2009) is a little more Dan Brown's Angels & Demons and a little less Se7en,' if you will.

This is fine for those who can look to Holmes for a more mainstream romp than what an older crowd might hope to be a rigorous exercise in fine mystery and logic. Again, the fewer the expectations, the better.

As for the lean and mean Guy Ritchie depiction of Holmes, it's not entirely unfounded. The script creatively draws the connection between Holmes' intellectual prowess and how he might use it in a physical bout. It does take a bit of settling in to understand exactly what direction this new Holmes is going in, but it works thanks to RDJ and picks up as the mystery thickens and Holmes' limits are tested.

McAdams' character lacks enough strength to stay memorable and as much as I like Strong, his character lacks dimension too. But the rebirth of Holmes will be a nice Holiday escape for the modern audience and those willing to keep an open mind.

It's not your grandfather's 'Sherlock Holmes,' but can you think of any reason why it should be? From Village Roadshow Pictures and director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, RocknRolla), 'Sherlock Holmes' stars Academy Award™ nominee Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man series), Academy Award™ nominee Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley), Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, The Notebook) and Mark Strong (RocknRolla, Syriana, Shazam).

As for the Special Feature included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, that would be Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented, where we see how director Guy Ritchie and star Robert Downey Jr. set about reinterpreting the master sleuth and how Downey prepared for the role.

It's a near fifteen minute featurette and opens with the incredibly choreographed bare-knuckle fight scene (you know the one) and straight off the bat, Downey reveals that in recreating Holmes, he quickly discovered that he (the character) was stranger than even he (the actor) could ever have imagined!

'Sherlock Holmes' (along with 'Beetlejuice', 'The Goonies' and 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows') will be available on September 1st, 2020 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 (expected retail price) each, and feature an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features in HD, and a Digital HD* version of the feature film.

Fans can also own the 4 films in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented

Official 'Sherlock Holmes' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Trailer

'Sherlock Holmes: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (4K Ultra HD)
(Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Eddie Marsan, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / (2011) 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, in 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.'

Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room, until now!

For there is a new criminal mastermind at large — Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) — and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective.

Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 1st, 2020.

For my money, this 'Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the bewildering brilliant scene where Holmes is tossing an apple up in his hand, holding a gun ready to shoot at it in the other, for it now brings that gorgeous, green and red-tinged apple to life like never before! In fact, it all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably scenes where Holmes dresses like a Victorian bohemian, or an old street woman, peppers his conversations with wisecracks and such, which now are lovingly embodied with delightful, and vibrant angles of light and apparel definitions). Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit), French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), German: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, 'A Game of Shadows' picks up where the prequel left off; Holmes is tracking down Professor Moriarty, a man he believes is responsible for a series of bombings and mysterious deaths around world. Though there is an element of mystery in this film, it is not as in-depth as the first film. Rather the focus is on the action sequences and clever humor. The story itself is not special, but its pace is what counts and I can actually recall walking out of the theater back in 2001, feeling refreshed and glad that I saw this movie.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are once again a true treat to watch as Holmes and Watson. Their chemistry and interactions are perfect; it's easy to tell that both had fun with the script and with each other. The set and costume designs are exquisite, bringing to life of what Europe was like in the late 1800s and the sound and editing is crisply done also, the music top-notch too.

The visual effects are mostly good, but some scenes were a bit over the top and borderline ridiculous. One of many examples include a woman being thrown from a fast moving train into a river, without sustaining injury or even dying.

Of course, this is impossible. Then again, it's Hollywood. The filmmakers aren't doing their job if a sense of the ridiculous is not thrown into an action flick from time to time.

In closing, 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' delivers as a great, action-packed, and a rather humorous, popcorn loving flick and now here on 4K Blu-ray, well, there's never been a better time than now to check it out!

Oh, and as I ended with for the 'Sherlock Holmes: 4K Ultra HD' release, it's not your grandfather's 'Sherlock Holmes,' but can you think of any reason why it should be? From Village Roadshow Pictures and filmmaker Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes”), 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows', stars two-time Academy Award® nominees Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man series) and Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) along with Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, The Notebook), Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes), Eddie Marsan (War Horse), Geraldine James (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Jared Harris (TV’s “Mad Men”), Stephen Fry (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), and Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' (along with 'Beetlejuice', 'The Goonies' and 'Sherlock Holmes') will be available on September 1st, 2020 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 (expected retail price) each, and feature an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features in HD, and a Digital HD* version of the feature film.

Fans can also own the 4 films in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p, but sadly does not come with any Special Features.

Official 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Trailer

'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link

'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD'
(Atsuko Tanaka, Iemasa Kayumi, Akio Ôtsuka, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / NR / (1995) 2020 / LGF)

Overview: 2029: A female cybernetic government agent, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are hot on the trail of “The Puppet Master,” a mysterious and threatening computer virus capable of infiltrating human hosts.

Together with her fellow agents from Section 9, Kusanagi embarks on a high-tech race against time to capture the omnipresent entity.

Director Mamoru Oshii’s award-winning cyber-tech thriller, based on the comic book by Shirow Masamune, is lauded as one of the leading Japanese animation films of all time.

Blu-ray Verdict: Lionsgate Films (LGF) is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'Ghost In The Shell’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 8th, 2020.

For my money, this 'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Ghost In The Shell' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the roof top drop scene, where she is spying on the bad guys, and then, when disrobing, does her magnificent backward dive off the top of the building, now come alive, shimmer and shine! It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material; notably the gorgeously badass fight scene between our hero and a big, goatee-wearing thug, the background awash with bill stickered posters and adverts. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: Japanese: LPCM 2.0, Japanese: Dolby Atmos, Japanese: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Atmos, and English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, allow me open with this quote: "There are countless ingredients that make up the human body and mind, like all the components that make up me as an individual with my own personality."

"Sure I have a face and voice to distinguish myself from others, but my thoughts and memories are unique only to me, and I carry a sense of my own destiny. Each of those things are just a small part of it. I collect information to use in my own way."

"All of that blends to create a mixture that forms me and gives rise to my conscience. I feel confined, only free to expand myself within boundaries." - Major Kusanagi.

The 1995 cyberpunk film by Mamoru Oshii made a splash for anime in Western markets. On top of its stellar animation, character and world design, much in the tradition of the cyberpunk genre, GITS presents a philosophical look at highly cyberized highly bureaucratic highly oligarchic late capitalist society.

Major Kusanagi, we're informed, is equipped with a fully cyberized body. None of what can be physically identified as "her" is organically her. Nothing but her consciousness, or ghost, remains inside of a mechanical shell.

There is a particularly compelling scene where the Major ponders if she can even be called really human any more. Her reflection provokes thought as to what it means to be human, and as to where and how much technology as a capacity to augment our reality has eroded our humanity.

This philosophical pondering of self leaves us open to many ways of answering what it means to be a self in an age where all things and even people are becoming commodities in an increasingly bureaucratic and autocratic society.

It's the axiom of impersonal market forces, high tech-low life culture that speaks to the immediate critique of the social relations and warped view of self that liberal capitalism puts us through. For that reason, on top of some of the best animation I've ever seen, easily the best animation of the '90's right up there with 'Cowboy Bebop', I think it's important that as many people as possible experience this film (especially as it is now out as this wondrous 25th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD edition along with a quite stunning Steelbook edition too).

As for the Special Features included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, the stand outs for me are both the brand new bonus featurettes: “Accessing Section 9: 25 Years into the Future” and “Landscapes & Dreamscapes – The Art and Architecture of Ghost in the Shell.”

As the knowledge that people LOVE machines in 2029 AD is immediately drummed into us from the off, we are also made aware that the creation of this film back in 1995 was a master work that broke the mold of conventional filmmaking.

It further, and fascinatingly informs us about DGA (Digitally Created Animation), where they say as much as such a service was rarely used in TV back then, here for the film, well, it was surely to become the standard for creating digital effect in the future.

It further explains how these hand drawn background cells, which were then shot on film, were stacked upon each other to complete the "3D" look so that the overall visual (with added graphics and even audio) can then be digitized and turned into data.

Sure, all stuff we take for granted now, but to watch and listen along in these two brilliant new featurettes, the flashback in time is a glorious one, for sure.

The 'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack' will be available for the suggested retail price of $22.99.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

• Full-length audio commentary of Ghost in the Shell with Mary Claypool (Animation Writer and English Language Scriptwriter), Eric Calderon (Animation Producer and Writer), Richard Epcar (Voice of “Batou”), and Charles Solomon (Animation Historian and Critic)
• “Accessing Section 9: 25 Years into the Future” Featurette
• “Landscapes & Dreamscapes: The Art and Architecture of Ghost in the Shell” Featurette
• Production Report & Digital Works Featuretes
• Theatrical Trailer

Official 'Ghost In The Shell' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Trailer

Special Feature Clip - "Ghost In The Shells Impact"

Special Feature Clip - "Mainstream Influence"

Special Feature Clip - "Photo Inspiration"

Special Features Clip "Like A Good Wine"

'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link

'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD' Steelbook Blu-ray Best Buy Purchase Link

'Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway' [BR]
(Daniel Tadesse, Agustín Mateo, Guillermo Llansó, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: What do you get when you cross Afro-futurism, Cold War paranoia, the dystopian world of Philip K. Dick and '60s exploitation cinema, along with a hefty dose of Lynchian surrealism?

The answer: 'Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway', the second feature by Miguel Llansó (Crumbs) and one of the most striking and original films you'll see all year.

CIA Agents Palmer and Gagano are tasked with the mission of destroying a computer virus called "Soviet Union". They enter the system using VR but the mission turns into a trap!

Blu-ray Verdict: The year is 2035, and Special Agent Gagano (Daniel Tadesse, Crumbs) dreams of leaving the CIA to open a business with his wife Malin (Gerda-Annette Allikas).

Before he can hand in his resignation, however, a strange cyber virus attacks Psychobook, the CIA's operating system, forcing Gagano to enter cyberspace via virtual reality to combat the threat.

Before long, however, the virus starts to reach out into the real world, destabilizing the fragile socio-political order for its own ends, and Gagano, trapped in the VR world, must find a way out before it's too late.

Well, as with all storylines of this ilk, the task at hand doesn't quite got he way our heroes expect, mainly due to the fact that in addition to the Soviet leader-masked virus, there's also a "substance" (which induces all sorts of hallucinations in its users!).

Bring in the leader of Beta-Ethiopia, Batfro (Solomon Tashe), and a man who might be Jesus and might be Roy (Guillermo Llanso), and things get complicated really, really fast! In truth, there just isn't really a way to describe this film, which could be equally considered science fiction, romance, comedy, thriller, Afro-Futurism and super-psychedelic trip, depending on one's perspective at the moment of celluloid intake.

Clocking in at a pacey 83 minutes, it's exactly the kind of film to see with other fans of Gonzo and most of all, who love movies of this left-field variation.

Director Miguel Llanso's earlier film, 'Crumbs', is still one of my all-time Top 10 films ever witnessed, although to this very day, I have to fully admit that I don't really understand it all!

That said, 'Jesus Shows You ...' is much more coherent and rather hilarious in places too! Simply put, it's like a mix of Wes Anderson's aesthetic, but in a dream. It's like if Napoleon Dynamite made a film about a spy. It's like a very, very weird 'Matrix'! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
New audio commentary by critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Anton Bitel
From Talinn with Love, a new visual essay by critic Will Webb exploring the influence of exploitation cinema on Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway
Exclusive audio interview with director Miguel Llansó, conducted by critic Josh Hurtado
Crumbs (2015), Miguel Llansó's feature directorial debut and spiritual predecessor to Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway (Limited Edition Exclusive)
Chigger Ale (2013) and Night in the Wild Garden (2015), two short films by Miguel Llansó
Original proof-of-concept trailer
Theatrical trailer
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Austin Hinderliter
Double-sided fold-out poster
Limited Edition illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway by Barry Forshaw and Crumbs by Anton Bitel
Limited Edition of 2000 copies

Amazon Purchase Link

Official HD Trailer

'Pitch Black: Special Edition' [4K Ultra HD]
(Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Keith David, Cole Hauser, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / R / (2000) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: When an intergalactic transport ship crashes on a remote desert planet with no sign of help on the horizon, the survivors, led by Fry (Radha Mitchell), band together to find a way back home.

Among the passengers is Riddick (Vin Diesel), a convicted murderer being transported by marshal Johns (Cole Hauser) and now freed of his chains and on the loose.

But as a solar eclipse plunges the planet into total darkness, a threat even worse than Riddick reveals itself, and the last humans standing may have to form an uneasy truce with the cunning fugitive (whose eyes have been surgically altered to see in the dark) to last the long night.

Blu-ray Verdict: Arrow Films / MVD Visual is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'Pitch Black’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 1st, 2020.

For my money, this 'Pitch Black: 4K Ultra HD's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in the 4K Ultra HD world and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Pitch Black' presented to us as a two-disc Blu-ray edition. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265 (68.04 Mbps), Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as The Dark Brings Devils scene, where the creatures are taking flight in front of a burnt orange back drop, that now comes alive, shimmers and shines! It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the frantic cave scene midway through, where the creatures are swooping at the band of humans trying to escape them, and Vin is the macho, dark sunglassed hero with the flaming torch). Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we only have: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, the year 2000 was awash with sci-fi movies, not all were stellar of course, but siting at the top end of the scale was this - director David Twohy's super slice of action/horror/sci-fi cake.

Right from the off we are thrust on board the cargo ship Hunter- Gratzner, which as it happens is plummeting through space. The ship has been hit by meteorite debris and junior officer Caroline Fly (Mitchell), after coming out of hyper sleep, manages to crash land on a nearby planet.

Only a handful of passengers survive the crash, including infamous convict Richard B. Riddick (Diesel), but as the survivors struggle to cope with the threat from within the group, it becomes apparent that there's a bigger threat soon to join the party - a deadly alien species, a species that can only operate in the dark.

Pity, then, that an eclipse is due!

Ok, so lets get the obvious out in the open right away: Yes, 'Pitch Black' is a variant of 'Alien', one of a ream of films that grabbed the coat tails of Ridley Scott's game changer.

Yet this is still a fresh movie, a lesson in low budget film making with grace, style, blood, brains and balls - the execution grade "A" from those involved.

It's maybe surprising given the synopsis, to find that it's a very character driven piece, with Twohy continually building his characters even as the carnage and terror is unleashed - and these are a very diverse bunch of characters.

One of the universe's baddest criminals, a spunky lady officer having to take command, a morphine addicted bounty hunter, an Islamic priest and his young companions, a camp alcoholic and a couple of strays.

It's the not so wild bunch, but everyone of them are afforded chance to impact on the story before and during the inevitable picking off one by one at the claws of the beasts.

The narrative strength comes via Diesel's hulking convict, he's double jointed and has had optical surgery so he can see his enemies in the dark!

The group must come to rely on him for he is clearly their best hope of survival, but can he be trusted? What is his ultimate ulterior motive? Riddick is the épée to Fry's foil, it's at times like a devil and angel trying to become one in the simple name of survival.

These crux characters lift the simple premise to greater heights, that Mitchell (sexy/vulnerable/hard/smart) and Diesel (moody/beefy/gravelly/menacing) are bang on form helps no end. As does the work of the tech department.

The setting created here is a splendid veer from one of the curses of sci-fi films, that of an unbelievable world. Twohy, Eggby and the art department achieve a world of 3 suns, of a scorched barren landscape, with the photography switching between bleached and metallic filters for maximum sci-fi impact.

While the effects work belies the budget, check out the pre-eclipse sequence. What of the creatures themselves? They are legion, a sort of pterodactyl nightmare who let out high pitched bleats, they smell blood and move at high speeds, and like Riddick they have special vision in the dark, it's the light that they are afraid of, thus this gives our survivors a glimmer (ahem) of hope in how to stave them off.

The science and logic is hokey, but so what? This is a classy and taut sci-fi film brought about by a very under valued director, one that puts many a bigger budgeted Hollywood production to shame.

Indeed, come the finale, where there's still time to have your jaw dropped, you may be minus some nails and perched on the very edge of your viewing seat. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 4K restoration by Arrow Films of the Theatrical and Directors Cuts of the film, approved by director David Twohy
4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
Original DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround on both cuts
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both cuts
Archive commentary with director David Twohy and stars Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser
Archive commentary with director David Twohy, producer Tom Engelman and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang
Nightfall: The Making of Pitch Black, a newly filmed interview with director/co-writer David Twohy
Black Box: Jackie's Journey, a newly filmed interview with actor Rhiana Griffith
Black Box: Shazza's Last Stand, a newly filmed interview with actor Claudia Black
Black Box: Bleach Bypassed, a newly filmed interview with cinematographer David Eggby
Black Box: Cryo-Locked, a newly filmed interview with visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang
Black Box: Primal Sounds, a newly filmed interview with composer Graeme Revell
The Making of Pitch Black, a short behind-the-scenes featurette
Pitch Black Raw, a comparison between early CG tests and the final footage
Additional behind-the-scenes making of footage
2004 archive bonus features, including an introduction by Twohy, A View Into The Dark, and Chronicles of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia
Johns Chase Log, a short prequel narrated by Cole Hauser detailing the character's hunt for Riddick
The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (in 16:9 widescreen with DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio), an animated short film directed by Peter Chung that acts as a bridge point between Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, featuring vocal performances by Vin Diesel, Keith David and Rhiana Griffith reprising their roles
Dark Fury bonus features including Bridging The Gap, Peter Chung: The Mind of an Animator, A View Into The Light, and a pre-animation version of the film
Slam City, a motion comic from the film's official website
Into Pitch Black, a TV special offering an alternative non-canon glimpse into what happened before and after the events of the film
Raveworld: Pitch Black Event footage
Theatrical trailers, sequels & video game trailers
Image galleries
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned 'night' and 'day' artwork by Luke Preece
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collectors booklet feat. new writing by Simon Ward on the film's creature designs, original production notes, and an archive interview with Vin Diesel from Starlog magazine

Amazon Purchase Link

Original Trailer

'Ivansxtc: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Danny Huston, Peter Weller, Lisa Enos, Angela Featherstone, Valeria Golino, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2000) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: Opening with the death of its titular protagonist, 'Ivansxtc' goes back in time to chart the final days of hot-shot Tinseltown agent Ivan Beckman (Huston) and his fast-paced, wheeler-dealer lifestyle, which will ultimately lead him to an early grave after a shock cancer diagnosis.

Blu-ray Verdict: Loosely based on Leo Tolstoy's celebrated 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and featuring a searing performance by Danny Huston at its core and wonderfully sleazy turn from Peter Weller as Ivan's biggest client, 'Ivansxtc' is not only a powerful meditation on life, death and morality set against the glitzy backdrop of La La Land, but is really one of the most honest, most genuinely unnerving films I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot, by any standards, trust me).

My lady and I didn't speak for any entire hour afterward, just sitting there in stunned contemplation of this stunning film!

Huston is an absolute revelation as Ivan, a once-in-a-lifetime performance that seems to have sprung into life fully formed and whole.

His is one of the greatest faces cinema has offered, full of humanity and pathos, at once a recognizable everyman and a unique and extraordinary figure.

The narrative's initially gimmicky flashback structure become essential as we are allowed to see the fundamental pointlessness of the feckless Ivan's life even before we meet him. From the early realization of Ivan's insignificance, we are drawn to see him as fully alive and utterly human.

This is the triumph of the director's intensely humanist vision, a moving testament to the individual worth and humanity of each of us, even the most lost and dissolute amongst us.

Equally rich are the surrounding performances, the whole cast working tiny wonders, but special mention certainly belongs to Huston and also Peter Weller, the latter giving what I think must be his strongest ever role.

His sleazy big-shot actor is an instant classic, utterly true and blackly comic.

I lived and worked in the industry in Hollywood and I recognized many of the characters and situations. In the whole film, not one false note was struck.

The locations expertly chosen, from the Sky bar to the winding backroads around Mulholland and Hollywood Blvd at dawn, the feel of Ivan's Hollywood was exactly right.

In closing, I wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone looking for difficult but richly rewarding, thought-provoking cinema. It is not "entertainment", but it performs the quiet miracles that few film-makers even attempt, let alone achieve with these devastating results.

A triumph, a truly visionary work and clearly a labor of love for all involved, 'Ivansxtc' is simply astounding and quite the equal to the early works of Ingmar Bergman; and I can think of no higher praise than that. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA options
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Q&A with director Bernard Rose, actress/producer/co-writer Lisa Enos, actors Danny Huston, Peter Weller and Adam Krentzman from a 2018 screening at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Robert J Simpson

Amazon Purchase Link

Original Trailer

'Graveyards of Honor' (2-Disc Special Edition)
(Tetsuya Watari, Tatsuo Umemiya, Yumi Takigawa, Ryo Amamiya, Narimi Arimori, Yoshiyuki Daichi, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / R / 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: Two peerless masters of Japanese cinema Kinji Fukasaku (Battles without Honor and Humanity, Battle Royale) and Takashi Miike (Dead or Alive, Audition) present their own distinctive adaptations of yakuza expert Goro Fujita s gangster novel 'Graveyard of Honor' - each tapping into the zeitgeist of a distinct period of Japanese history.

Based on the true story of Rikio Ishikawa, both story lines follow a self-destructive man who becomes a powerful member of the Japanese mafia, but quickly loses his self control.

Blu-ray Verdict: First up is Kinji Fukasaku's 'Graveyard of Honor' (1975), which is a fantastic entry into the yakuza genre or, for that matter, the gangster genre in general.

However, more so than many of its counterparts, it is an excellent Brechtian character study. Filmed in a "mockumentary" style, 'Graveyard of Honor' breaks up its action and storytelling relatively often with bits of narration, setting the events of the film in their period context and transitioning over long gaps in time.

The Japanese gangster film is far more presentational than its western counterparts. From the bright, red, paint-like blood to the strict characterizations and operatic emotions, 'Graveyard of Honor' (and other films like it) are a sort of midway point between Kabuki theater and French nihilism.

It is an intriguing genre, and one that internationally acclaimed director Kinji Fukasaku uses brilliantly to pose intriguing questions and point out crucial problems in the Japanese mindset of the time.

As for the film itself, well, overall, this tough and seemingly soulless beast of a man who is feared by even his criminal peers, is also a pitiable creature unable to find any joy in life.

Tetsuya Watari is brilliant in his role of the uncontrollably violent yet pitiable maniac criminal. The only truly likable character in the film is Ishikawa's girlfriend (played by the beautiful Yumi Takigawa), who sticks with Rikio, the man who has raped her and made her a prostitute.

The supporting cast includes many familiar faces for fans of Japanese cinema, including Eiji Go (Tokyo Drifter, The Executioner, etc.) and the beautiful Exploitation-Princess Reiko Ike (Sex And Fury, Female Yakuza Tale, etc.), and is someone I am a big fan myself.

Then we get director Takashi Miike's 'Graveyards of Honor' (2002), which is a rather straightforward Japanese Yakuza thriller redo with a hefty dose of violence.

However, this violence is less comic-style than in Miike's best work Fudoh, Dead or Alive or Ichi the Killer. The violence comes across as raw and real which gives the film a gritty edge that reminded me more of the classic Yakuza flicks than of a Miike film.

There are occasional outbursts of over-the-top-Miike-isms (the final "fall" of the hero, a throat-slicing scene, etc.), but they are limited to a few scenes.

Another Miike-trademark in the film will be as problematic as ever: The harsh treatment of women. The hero's first contact with his future wife and the beating of said wife later in the film did strike me as particularly unappealing.

However, I felt that in 'Graveyards of Honor', men and women get treated the same way - badly that is. No one gets away clean in this film and to label Miike a chauvinist (or whatever names circulate the web) would actually be far more appropriate with some of his other films! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Exclusive two-disc set featuring two different versions of Graveyard of Honor: the 1975 film by Kinji Fukasaku and the 2002 film by Takashi Miike
Limited edition packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on both films by Jasper Sharp
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless Japanese PCM 1.0 mono soundtrack
Optional English subtitles
New audio commentary by author and critic Mark Schilling
Like a Balloon: The Life of a Yakuza, a new visual essay by critic and Projection Booth podcast host Mike White
A Portrait of Rage, an archival appreciation of Fukasaku and his films, featuring interviews with filmmakers, scholars, and friends of the director
On the Set with Fukasaku, an archival interview with assistant director Kenichi Oguri
Theatrical trailer
Imagery gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless Japanese PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack
Optional English subtitles
New audio commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes
New visual essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger
Archival interview special featuring Miike and cast members Goro Kishitani and Narimi Arimori
Archival making-of featurette
Archival making-of teaser
Archival press release interviews featuring Miike, Kishitani and Arimori
Archival premiere special featuring Miike, Kishitani and Arimori
Theatrical trailer
Imagery gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan

Amazon Purchase Link

'Black Test Car' + 'Black Report' [Blu-ray]
(Jirô Tamiya, Junko Kanô, Eiji Funakoshi, Eitarô Ozawa, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: Japanese maverick director Yasuzo Masumura (Blind Beast) helms a bitingly satirical espionage thriller set in the heart of the Japanese auto industry in his 1962 landmark 'Black Test Car', which launched a series of similarly themed Black films.

In a bitter, take-no-prisoners corporate war between the Tiger Motorcar Company and their competitors, the Yamato Company, undercover spies have infiltrated both sides.

As Tiger prepares to launch its newest Pioneer car and a prototype bursts into flames, Toru (Hideo Takamatsu, The Last Emperor) heads a secretive task force to root out Yamato s spy, and find out what they can about the competitor's familiar-looking new model.

Making its worldwide Blu-ray debut, 'Black Test Car' is paired here with the English-language video premiere of its follow-up, 'The Black Report', also directed by Masumura.

Blu-ray Verdict: First up is 'Black Test Car' (1962), where two car manufacturers spy on each other to try to find out details and prices of a new sports car each is about to launch.

The movie opens with the Tiger corporation suffering through a disastrous test run for its latest sports-car model, the Pioneer. Hiding in the brush, photographers from the Yamato corporation document the whole flaming mess, and leak the photos to the press.

Reeling with shame, Tiger rushes to get an improved Pioneer to market, while simultaneously feeding misinformation to Yamato, and trying to figure out what the other car company is doing with its new sports model, so that its price can be undercut.

'Black Test Car' is largely effective because Masumura plays the story relatively straight. Shooting in stark black and white, in crowded rooms framed at cramped angles, Masumura keeps the mood tense and coaxes performances that are earnest without becoming campy.

The boardroom chatter — along the lines of, "People want speed and luxury!" — coupled with the fast-paced editing make 'Black Test Car' play like a darkly sophisticated live-action episode of Speed Racer!

In the follow-up, 'The Black Report' (1963), we see that even an average Masumura film is still a gripping drama.

It’s a police procedure/court room drama with the preoccupation of the unfulfilled justice from the prosecution side.

Masumura spends the first-third of running time to lay down all the evidence and reveal the associated parties before inserting the vicious lawyer.

While in 'Black Test Car' there are some digressions away from the main storyline, 'The Black Report' concentrates more single-mindedly on the murder investigation and subsequent trial.

As a result, the need for a twist every few minutes makes them so convoluted they’re sometimes difficult to follow.

Unfortunately the characters are mostly stereotypes and perfunctory, but I’m surprised by the somewhat downbeat, but not hopeless ending.

However, it’s definitely worthwhile for a watch if you’re a Japanese film buff, and a lover of all-thing international cinema, of course. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of Black Test Car and The Black Report
Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio on both films
Optional newly translated English subtitles on both films
Newly recorded critical appreciation by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Theatrical trailers for both films
Image galleries for both films
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet with new writing on the films by Mark Downing Roberts

Amazon Purchase Link

'Driveways: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Brian Dennehy, Hong Chau, Christine Ebersole, Lucas Jaye, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: A lonesome boy accompanies his mother on a trip to clean out his late aunt's house, where he ends up forming an unexpected friendship with the retiree who lives next door.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, it's only about halfway through that this quite magnificent film helps us to establish the its central relationship.

Up until this point, the story kind of plugs along at a really slow pace. Once this moment hits (revolving around a birthday party), the film finds something pretty special.

The story follows a struggling single mother and her 8 year old child as they have to take care of her sisters estate. Arriving as strangers to this town, a very cluttered house, and a quiet, they meet the quiet, elderly man who lives by himself next door.

As the 8 year old son lingers in the shadows of a mom who is barely hanging on, he begins to gradually strike of a friendship with the man next door.

The performances are really subtle, but once this relationship begins to establish itself, the chemistry between the young boy and the elderly veteran emerges as something very genuine and honest. They are by far the best part about this film, which leans into a very understated script.

It's the symbolism of the driveways though that hits the hardest. In some sense you have a young man who has his whole life ahead of him. On the other end you have a man who is nearing the final years of life.

Separated by driveways, these journeys find a way to intersect through shared experience. Both are lonely, and both find needed companionship in the other. And both are able to breathe new life into these shared perspectives from their side of the journey.

Trust me when I say, if you are someone who is touched by these kind of multi generational stories you are guaranteed to find a few tears here, even if the story itself doesn't blow you away. And that is a testament to the films heart, which it has in spades. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Photo Gallery
Theatrical Trailer

'Driveways: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out September 15th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Driveways' Official Trailer

'Rewind: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Brian Dennehy, Hong Chau, Christine Ebersole, Lucas Jaye, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Digging through the vast collection of his father's home videos, a young man reconstructs the unthinkable story of his boyhood and exposes vile abuse passed through generations.

Blu-ray Verdict: Wow! I mean, just, well, ... wow! Having now finished watching this new release from the great folks at Film Rise, I'm just so incredibly sorry to Sasha and his sister for the horrific abuse they endured, as no child should ever have to suffer in silence.

As shown here in 'Rewind,' they have brought into the light that which had been buried in darkness, and have shone a brilliant light on to the path that can lead to healing and hopefully prevention of this occurring.

I can only pray that they continue this important and worthwhile work they've done and continue lighting that path for others to find the courage to overcome these abhorrent crimes.

This was such a well-done and intimate story told in the most compelling manner. Indeed, from start to finish I found myself wholly immersed in the tale and filling with anger and rage at these monsters who betrayed this family.

The storyline was concise, direct and makes you feel connected, but also has the ability to allow your mind to forge paths of anger and repulsion against the protagonists featured.

While it can be a very difficult story to tell and some tend to carry on with melodramatic and labored points, this absolutely gets to the heart and the soul and you're immediately awash in empathy, apathy and rage for these children and hope when you're left with the closure of the final scenes.

Again, 'Rewind' is a stunning documentary and one that should be mandatory viewing for anyone who doubts this could ever happen to them/their children, because it's much easier than anyone wants to believe and within the blink of an eye, your family is thrust into a tumultuous and chaotic place from which few ever emerge unscathed.

Simply put, unflinching and uncompromising, 'Rewind' is a documentary that isn't afraid to dive deep into the issues of abuse and trauma that it explores across its relatively brief 80 minute runtime, as documentarian and main subject Sasha Neulinger delves into his own childhood and his families horrific experiences that spanned generations. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Photo Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
Filmmaker Interview with Sasha Joseph Neulinger

'Rewind: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out September 15th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Rewind' Official Trailer

'SWANS: Where Does A Body End?' [Blu-ray]
(SWANS, Michael Gira, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Where Does a Body End?' is an intimate portrait of the band SWANS, from their roots as a brutal, confrontational post-punk band that emerged from the same early 1980s era NYC that gave us Sonic Youth (and, somehow, Madonna) through their ill-fated bid at mainstream success in the '90s indie-rock gold rush, through breakups and chaos (on and offstage) to their odds-defying current status as one of the most accomplished and ambitious bands in the world - one whose concerts are more like ecstatic rituals than nostalgic trips back through their most popular songs.

Blu-ray Verdict: SWANS has always been a collection of singular performers, but there's been one constant since its formation in 1982 - singer, songwriter Michael Gira.

With unfettered access to hundreds of hours of Gira/SWANS archives of never-seen-before recordings, videos, and photographs, 'Where Does A Body End?' brings us along the path they needed to carve for themselves.

The film is many things, a musical history, a time-capsule, a tour diary, a concert film, but mostly it's the story of a life in the arts, frequently difficult, spanning decades without a safety net, creating the work because Gira says What else am I going to do?

As bandmate Thor Harris notes, Michael is not a fearless person, but he is a fearless artist.

To my way of thinking, if you listen to SWANS you instantly find yourself believing that Michael Gira is indeed the closest thing we have to a musical shaman; a sonic demi-god, a martyr hurling his mind, body, and soul ceaselessly into the maelstrom of sound, spewing catharsis from every pore!

The story here begins not with the band itself, but with its mentor and creator, the aforementioned Michael Gira, a man of unparalleled talent.

From a young age, Michael felt independent and debased from society, a result of leading a relatively poor life in the slums of New York.

These conditions instilled into him a sense of aggression and rage that he started to tap into after the dissolution of his previous band, Circus Mort, a psychedelic post-punk outfit.

Calling his new project SWANS, Michael enlisted the help of Jonathan Kane, Sue Hanel, Roli Mosimann, among others, and created a visceral and challenging sound that changed and morphed over the years.

From the more metallic and industrial-sounding no wave records Filth and Cop, which granted them comparisons to their peers in Sonic Youth, to the more artistic, melodic and expansive records in the later years of their first formation – such as White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and The Great Annihilator - Michael Gira was never afraid to experiment with sound and was very strict and direct in what he wanted the auditory experience to be.

This, of course, led to the notion that he was a difficult person to work with it, a result of his combative nature.

Despite that, Michael and SWANS persisted for fifteen years and many were its collaborators. The most notable of those is, undoubtedly, Jarboe.

Owner of an incredibly powerful voice, Jarboe in many ways influenced Swans’ sound and persuaded Michael to try singing instead of shouting.

This not only gave way to a new era of sonic force within the band but also cultivated a relationship between Michael and Jarboe – a relationship which would meet its untimely end with the dissolution of Swans after the release of Soundtracks of the Blind.

After the demise of SWANS, Michael Gira turned his head to other ventures, most notably Angels of Light, a quieter and more lyric and acoustic-based group compared to his previous band.

It was at this point that Michael started to experiment with the notion of creating songs in an acoustic setting and adding orchestration on top at a later stage, something he would continue doing well into the second formation of SWANS.

That same formation, which is also the most well-known, came to be in 2010 and consisted of Christopher Hahn and Norman Westberg on guitars, Phil Puleo and Thor Harris on drums and percussion, Christopher Pravdica on bass and, of course, Michael Gira on guitar and vocals.

Revitalized and with a newfound purpose, this second incarnation of Swans released four immensely powerful records – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, The Seer, To Be Kind and The Glowing Man.

This last one would also prove to be, once again, the last record by SWANS. Or at least, of the band’s second incarnation. A final live album, Deliquescence, and a world tour would bring the second end to SWANS.

Thus, 'Where Does A Body End?' is an exhaustive portrait of Gira’s perpetual resilience, without but mostly within the most uncompromising, beautifully self-destructive band to ever be spawned.

Director Marco Porsia has done a huge service to the world by bringing forth this incredible work of musical and visual art and my only hope is that it garners the worldwide viewing attention that it truly deserves for all concerned. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Extended Cut (161 minutes)

'SWANS: Where Does A Body End?' [Blu-ray] is out September 11th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'SWANS: Where Does A Body End?' Trailer

'Pizza - A Love Story' [DVD]
(Dave Portnoy, Henry Winkler, Lyle Lovett, Rick Nielsen, et al / DVD / NR / (2019) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Learn about the history, the families, the love and design that goes into each pie. Moreover, discover a completely new appreciation for pizza as true culinary art..

DVD Verdict: In the 6 block radius of Wooster square lies the trifecta, Sally's, Pepe's and Modern. Three pizza palaces loved by everybody from Presidents to Rock Stars.

Even Frank Sinatra used to send his driver all the way from Hoboken just to pick up some pies. And to the people of the Elm City, there's no question.

Since Frank Pepe first wheeled his bread cart down Wooster street in 1925, New Haven has been home to the finest pizza on the planet. Coming off the success of his last feature, 'Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements,' which Rolling Stone named "one of the seven best music documentaries of the year," director Gorman Bechard moves from one lifelong obsession to another.

This time taking a look at the long history, the families, the high and the lows of three universally recognized restaurants, and how a city that itself has gone through many highs and lows, has always rallied behind them.

In truth, anyone who has spent some time in southern Connecticut has probably heard about New Haven Pizza. This film does a great deep dive into the history, and the reasons why it has such a reputation.

As someone who went to school in the area, I fell in love with New Haven style pizza from the very first bite, and have craved it ever since.

This documentary made me nostalgic for the time I spent there, and made me want to get back in the car and take a pilgrimage back to the true Mecca of the pizza world.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, New Haven is the pizza capital of the world, and this film will help you understand why, and hopefully, inspire you to try it for yourself. Not your typical dry documentary, 'Pizza - A Love Story' relates the history of pizza and how three pizza "families" caused New Haven, Connecticut to become the Pizza Capital of the World (IMHO).

You will surprised by the appearances of many well-known persons as they share their love for pizza. The soundtrack and humor sprinkled throughout make the 85 minutes fly by.

Do not miss this! You'll never again think of pizza as just a cheap dinner after seeing this film!

'Pizza - A Love Story' also features a Commentary from director Gorman Bechard, co-producers Dean Falcone and Colin M. Caplan Lyle Lovett on Pepe's Pizzeria, Michael Bolton on Wooster Street, Making Pizza with Modern's Bill Pustari, Italian American Culture in New Haven, Urban Renewal in New Haven, Hy Katz Explains the Pizza Boy Song, There Can Be No Favorites, Q&A with director Gorman Bechard, co-producers Dean Falcone and Colin M. Caplan on opening night in New Haven, The Original Opening, Original Trailers and a few more special surprises in who shows up on camera! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Director's Commentary
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Original Trailers
New Haven Opening Night Q&A

'Pizza - A Love Story' [DVD] is out September 29th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Pizza - A Love Story' Official Trailer

'Seniors: A Dogumentary' [DVD]
(DVD / NR / (2019) 2020 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Seniors: A Dogumentary' is a loving portrayal of the vitality of senior dogs and features Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, the celebrated forever-foster home based sanctuary in Mount Juliet, Tennessee and Chaser the Border Collie, known as the smartest dog in the world.

DVD Verdict: Here in the heartwarming 'Seniors: A Dogumentary,' these, and oh so many other dogs stories are brought together through the lens of famed photographer Jane Sobel Klonsky.

Ms. Klonsky is the author of the book Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love. She specializes in capturing the cherished relationship between senior dogs and their owners.

The film follows Zina and Michael Goodin, the Old Friends founders, as they relocate into their current facilities, and introduces us to Leo, a social media phenom who became the most popular dog in the sanctuary's history.

We also meet Dr. John W. Pilley, Jr. and his beloved Chaser who, even into her senior years, never stopped learning. Not only had Chaser learned the names of over one thousand toys, she could also differentiate between nouns and verbs, understand full sentences, and mimic Dr. Pilley's actions after just observing them once.

It's oh-so obvious that Director Bechard, who also made A Dog Named Gucci, (winner of the 2015 ASPCA Media Excellence Award) sought to create an animal welfare film that would make people smile; and wholeheartedly succeeded.

In closing, and if the overall message isn't clear enough yet for you, we live in such a disposable society where when something or someone outlives its usefulness, we just throw it away.

This wondrous documentary centers on the story of Zina and Michael Goodin who have stepped in and saved countless older dogs from shelters around their hometown in Tennessee.

Furthermore, they provide a positive role model for the rest of us to fulfill our commitments to our pets and each other. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Q&A at World Premiere in Nashville
Watching the Total Solar Eclipse at Old Friends Senior Dogs Sanctuary
Jane photographs Leo and Friends
Michael's Thoughts on Senior Dogs
Springsteen VS. the Paper Towel Roll
Jane's photographs of the dogs at Old Friends Senior Dogs Sanctuary
Behind-the-Scenes photographs
Director's Commentary

'Seniors: A Dogumentary' [DVD] is out September 29th, 2020 via MVD Visual.

'Seniors: A Dogumentary' Trailer

'Judy Collins & Jonas Fjeld - Winter Stories'
(Judy Collins, Jonas Fjeld, et al / DVD+CD / NR / 2020 / Wildflower Records - Cleopatra Records)

Overview: Judy Collins - along with critically acclaimed Norwegian folk artist Jonas Fjeld and masterful Americana band Chatham County Line - invite you to a hootenanny at the Oslo Opera House.

Filmed in February 2020 off the tails of the newly formed groups' critically-acclaimed studio release Winter Stories, the resulting live DVD and CD is a collection of classics, new tunes, and a few surprises.

DVD Verdict: Iconic singer, songwriter, author and activist Judy Collins’ new seasonal album Winter Stories (Cleopatra) was recently released and featured an intimate and rootsy excursion of new holiday songs that capture the ice, frigid winds and sought warmth of the season.

The tour promoting that aforementioned album ended in February 2020 at the stunning 1,364 seat Oslo Opera House in Fjeld’s native country.

Calling on North Carolina newgrass quartet Chatham County Line and Norwegian artist Jonas Fjeld, the collaborative record is a swirling mix of new originals and classic covers, including Joni Mitchell’s 'The River,' and a re-recording of Collins’ evergreen classic 'The Blizzard.'

Watching this magnificent live Wintery performance play out before my eyes, even here in early September, the ethereal soprano, who just turned 80 in May, is at the top of her game and showcases a still, and incredibly prolific Collins at her vocal finest.

The 80-minute concert was recorded in HD sound and video and now comes in this brand new DVD+CD package, entitled Judy Collins & Jonas Fjeld - Winter Stories.

So not only do you get the luscious live experience, but a bonus CD with the 15 songs performed that night, making this both a sonic and visual treat.

At the time of the concert Collins was approaching her 80th Birthday and yet you’d never tell that from her voice here, especially the closing a capella 'Amazing Grace'.

Featuring songs such 'Northwest Passage,' 'Mountain Girl,' 'Angels In the Snow' and 'Frozen North,' along with classics such as 'Both Sides Now' and oh-so many more Collins originals, she plays guitar, but there is no piano work from her here this time.

Fjeld is more of a song writer – at least three of his compositions appear here – but his rough voice works perfectly on the tribute to Canadian Stan Rogers ('Northwest Passage') and does perfectly counter Collins' soprano.

In the past four years, Collins has released three albums and a each have received a tremendous amount of accolades. 2016’s Silver Skies Blue, a duets record with Ari Hest, was nominated for a GRAMMY Award, and led to a performance at the GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony.

In 2017, she released Everybody Knows, her first album with Stephen Stills celebrating an important decades-long friendship that led to a year of touring, a profile on CBS Sunday Morning and more.

Their 2019 album was acclaimed as one of the best of the year, and their live performances have been hailed across America and watching this beautifully, and indeed stunningly videoed live show now, you can clearly see why.

1. 'Mountain Girl'
2. 'City Of New Orleans'
3. 'Winter Stories'
4. 'Sweet Refrain'
5. 'Northwest Package'
6. 'Wildwood'
7. 'When Morning Comes To America'
8. 'Hun Kom Som En Engel'
9. 'River'
10. 'Angels In The Snow'
11. 'Highwayman'
12. 'Frozen North'
13. 'Bury Me With My Guitar On'
14. 'Both Sides Now'
15. 'Amazing Grace'

Amazon DVD+CD Purchase Link

Full Metal Jacket [4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray+Digital]
(Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / R / (1987) 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: A superb ensemble falls in for Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant saga about the Vietnam War and the dehumanizing process that turns people into trained killers.

The scathing indictment of a film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

‘Joker’ (Matthew Modine), ‘Animal Mother’ (Adam Baldwin), ‘Gomer’ (Vincent D’Onofrio), ‘Eightball’ (Dorian Harewood) and ‘Cowboy’ (Arliss Howard) are some of the Marine recruits experiencing boot-camp hell under the punishing command of the foul-mouthed Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermy).

The action is savage, the story unsparing, and the dialogue is spiked with scathing humor.

Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'Full Metal Jacket’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 22nd, 2020.

For my money, this 'Full Metal Jacket: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Full Metal Jacket' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the 'Gomer Pyle' scene, where the new recruits are all put through their collective paces, some passing out, some breaking down, but the dawn breaking through to the new day skyline is just wondrously pristine in its contours here now. It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the now infamous Boot Camp/Basic Training scene, where Private Pile is verbally berated by a brilliant, if not manic, foul-mouthed Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermy), and is called everything from being a "major malfunction” to "numb nuts" during his close quarters tirade! Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps) and French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, for me, 'Full Metal Jacket' is a war drama that accurately displays the hardship of the military - in this case the Marine Corps, during the Vietnam War.

The film is through the perspective of Private Joker, played by Matthew Modine, as he navigates basic training and the war. The film is very versatile in that there is obvious drama, but there are moments of comic relief mostly to those who were in the military.

I feel the point of this film was to shed light on the actualities of the military during training and war time, which have been improved since Vietnam. According to some veterans I have spoken with in my years, the nail was hit smack on the head.

The director, Stanley Kubrick, paced this film perfectly. Even though the pacing was unable to keep my teenage son intrigued, knowing what happens in basic training and having done my time in a war, the pacing couldn't have been better.

When the story is being told from the service members point of view, the pacing all revolves around how that member absorbs their surroundings.

The payoff is unfortunate, but it is the truth of war. The loss of characters you get attached to during the film is a direct depiction of any war where friends and family are lost, but the end is just as heart warming as it is sad.

Technically, 'Full Metal Jacket' isn't as showy and attention grabbing as some of Kubrick's other films, however it still retains a lot of his characteristic visual touches like the use of one-point perspective and the use of steadicam, etc.

The urban, ground level combat scenes are very well staged and directed. The production design has to be admired a lot for those scenes too.

From an acting standpoint, I have already mentioned R. Lee Ermey for his brilliant performance. I think Matthew Modine and Vincent D'Onofrio deserve special mentions too for coming up with contrasting, yet equally compelling performances respectively.

In conclusion, I'll say 'Full Metal Jacket' doesn't quite achieve greatness due to the flawed second half of the film. But it's still an exceptionally good movie that comes close to greatness due to the incredibly brilliant first half; which I think is as good and as powerful as anything Kubrick has ever done in a visceral scene.

It's a film that can be directly connected to 'Paths of Glory' and 'Dr. Strangelove' in terms of Kubrick's criticism of institutional authority, dogmatic patriotism and toxic masculinity. It's most certainly worth recommending.

In closing, I would recommend 'Full Metal Jacket' to anyone, especially those interested in the military.

As for the Special Features included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, they are all previously-released assets, with the stand out being for me personally the Commentary by Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey and Critic/Screenwriter Jay Cocks.

Together, all those names would have been a formidable platoon of steely eyed commentators come together, but here recorded separately though, they never really gel as a unit.

That said, they do give a their various, and personal reflections on the film and its notorious director, for better and for worse, and explore their very own characters wholly too.

In fact, both D'onofrio and Ermey disappear at the halfway point, for some strange reason, but it still makes for a highly passable commentary worth sampling - even if only during 'Full Metal Jacket's now infamous boot camp sequences!

In Between Good and Evil, Modine steps in with his castmates to unravel the film's development, casting, performances, behind-the-scenes conflicts, shooting challenges and, of course, Kubrick and his approach to the material, his actors and the production as a whole.

The 4K remastering was done using a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging. Stanley Kubrick’s former personal assistant Leon Vitali worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. during the mastering process.

Ultra HD showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

The 'Full Metal Jacket' Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the film in high definition and the previously released special features in high definition, and a Digital version of the movie.

Fans can also own Full Metal Jacket in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on September 22nd, 2020.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary by Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey and Critic/Screenwriter Jay Cocks
Featurette Full Metal Jacket: Between Good and Evil
Theatrical Trailer

Official 'Full Metal Jacket' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Trailer

'Full Metal Jacket: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link

'Killer Therapy'
(Michael Qeliqi, Elizabeth Keener, Thom Mathews, PJ Soles, Adrienne King, Daeg Faerch, Javon Johnson, Ivy George, et al / DVD / NR / (2018) 2020 / 4Digital Media)

Overview: After a series of escalating violent incidents, Brian is moved from failed therapist to failed therapist, maturing into a young man still unable to escape his anger issues.

When his life eventually falls apart by his own choices, Brian blames his series of failed therapists, embracing his dark nature and taking his revenge on everyone who ever wronged him, one by one, finally understanding that accepting who you are inside can be the best therapy.

DVD Verdict: Brian is a disturbed child with sociopath tendencies dealing with a father who doesn't love him, a mother unconvinced of his violent nature, and a newly adopted sister he believes is there to replace him.

After a series of escalating violent incidents, he is bounced around from failed therapist to failed therapist, maturing into a young man still unable to escape his anger issues.

When his life eventually falls apart by his own choices, Brian blames his series of failed therapists, embracing his dark nature and taking his revenge on everyone who ever wronged him - one by one, finally understanding that accepting who you are inside can be the best therapy.

Featuring a cast that has figuratively died oh-so many horror deaths in the lead up to appearing here in this new 4Digital Media horror/suspense movie, 'Killer Therapy' - including roles in such classics as The Return of The Living Dead, Carrie [1976], Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th Part II, Friday the 13th Part VI, Halloween [1978], and even the more recent Halloween [2007] - you could only hope to the horror Gods that their combined knowledge and perception of what makes a good horror tale work would come to the fore here in this lower market film.

And, by God, they do as from the moment it opens to the moment it closes, there isn't an actor on screen - bit part, spare part, or main - that doesn't give their all in this quite brilliant, bloody and suspenseful new film.

Filled with the aforementioned original Friday the 13th and Halloween cast members, which drew my attention immediately, this film from Barry Jay brings us, well, sure, for all intents and purposes, a tale of a troubled youth aka one akin to Michael Myers, who is bringing his dark side into the light after having been to one too many failed therapist sessions!

There is also a nod to 'The Joker' here, given our lead, Brian Langston's (Michael Qeliqi) passion for daubing white concealer on his face, rounding it off with black eye liner, but no matter how you "see" this film, the way it pulls you in, the way it creates its very own deranged and psychotic imagery, sooner, rather than later, it enables you to forgo those preconceived notions, which in turn enables you to settle in and find where it voluntarily (if not maddeningly) takes you. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Killer Therapy' [DVD] is out on VOD, Digital and DVD on September 15th, 2020 via 4Digital Media.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Explore The Outdoors
(DVD / G / 2020 / 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 adventurous 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 (that runs a solid 82 mins) are six (6) grr-ific tales: "Daniel Explores Nature," "Daniel’s Nature Walk,” "Daniel Plays in a Gentle Way,” "Daniel Learns About Lizards," "Daniel's Toy," and "Daniel Feels Two Feelings."

In “Daniel Explores Nature,” Daniel and his family are spending the day outside exploring when Daniel spots a beautiful red bird. As they watch the busy bird, they learn how a bird’s nest is built.

But, when the nest falls out of the tree, they must figure out how they can help.

Then, Daniel learns that there is so much to explore when you’re outside as he goes on a nature walk in the forest with O the Owl and Uncle X in “Daniel’s Nature Walk.” They see frogs, worms, and even spot a rainbow in the sky.

In “Daniel Plays in a Gentle Way,” Daniel Tiger is playing slowly outside at school, but his friends start to play too fast and rough with him. Daniel and his friends learn that sometimes friends want to play fast, but other times it's important to play slowly and gently.

Along with these episodes, viewers will watch Daniel participate with friends and family in activities like learning about lizards, sharing toys with friends, learning to respect each other’s choices, and much more in 'Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Explore the Outdoors.'

And with the overall message to head outdoors and explore – because it’s always a beautiful day in the Neighborhood - well, here in this fun-packed new 6-episode DVD, there truly is a lot to explore when you’re outside!

So come join Daniel Tiger and his 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.

'FRONTLINE: Opioids Inc.'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: 'FRONTLINE: Opioids Inc.' is the story of a drug company that pushed opioids by bribing doctors and committing insurance fraud.

With the Financial Times, an investigation of how Insys Therapeutics profited from a fentanyl-based painkiller 50 times stronger than heroin.

DVD Verdict: There was a stranger waiting for Sarah Fuller when she visited her doctor to discuss switching medications for her back and neck pain — a saleswoman pitching a prescription version of the potent opioid fentanyl.

The drug, called Subsys, is so powerful, and the risk of addiction and overdose so formidable, that the Food and Drug Administration requires doctors to undergo special training before they are allowed to prescribe it. And it has approved Subsys only for cancer patients who suffer intense flares of pain.

Fuller didn’t have cancer. She had been in two car accidents and been diagnosed with painful fibromyalgia. Yet her physician “let the sales rep start talking about helping her with the pain,” David Fuller, who accompanied his daughter to the appointment, tells us.

Just over a year after that January 2015 office visit, 32-year-old Sarah Fuller was found dead in her bedroom by her fiancé. The county medical examiner ruled her death the result of the “adverse effect of drugs.”

A toxicology screen revealed a level of fentanyl in her blood that experts consulted by STAT said is lethal. There was also a small amount of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax in her system.

Synthetic forms of fentanyl, most of it illegally shipped from China, have flooded into the US and Canada in the past year, causing hundreds of overdose deaths.

But Sarah Fuller’s case shows that the prescription version of the drug can also be dangerous when it’s prescribed “off-label” for conditions it’s not approved for — and that Insys Therapeutics sales reps have encouraged doctors to do just that.

'FRONTLINE: Opioids Inc. captures this and other stories of the opioid crisis through personal stories and interviews with experts, whilst revealing the tragic impact of the overuse of prescription painkillers on individuals, families, and communities.

Watching this documentary, if you haven't learnt something devastingly horrible about opioid's and their rampant designs on all our lives within the first few minutes, than you're simply not listening!

The opioid epidemic or opioid crisis is the rapid increase in the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in the United States and Canada beginning in the late 1990s and continuing throughout the first two decades of the 2000s.

Opioids are a diverse class of moderately strong painkillers, including oxycodone (commonly sold under the trade names OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and a very strong painkiller, fentanyl, which is synthesized to resemble other opiates such as opium-derived morphine and heroin.

The potency and availability of these substances, despite their high risk of addiction and overdose, have made them popular both as formal medical treatments and as recreational drugs.

Due to their sedative effects on the part of the brain which regulates breathing, opioids in high doses present the potential for respiratory depression, and may cause respiratory failure and death.

As we discover, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, "overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels."

That means that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved prescription opioids. From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales, and substance abuse treatment admissions related to opioid pain relievers all increased substantially.

By 2015, annual overdose deaths from heroin alone surpassed deaths from both car accidents and guns, with other opioid overdose deaths also on the rise.

The stories told here in 'FRONTLINE: Opioids Inc.' often begin with medical treatment for moderate to severe pain that evolve into drug addiction and death.

In addition to the stories, the documentary explores the dramatic increase in the use and acceptance of prescription painkillers and addresses possible solutions to the opioid epidemic including more non-drug treatment for pain, improved opioid prescribing, and reducing the amount of opioids produced and prescribed in America. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, must-see viewing. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas'
(DVD / G / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Lucy Worsley recreates how Christmas was celebrated during the age of Henry VIII - eating, drinking, singing, dancing and partying like people did 500 years ago.

On each of the traditional twelve days of Christmas, Lucy reveals a different aspect of the festivities - uncovering fresh insights into the Tudor mind and casting a captivating new light on Christmas itself.

DVD Verdict: Everyone knows “The 12 Days of Christmas” as one of the most beloved traditional carols of the holiday season.

However, what we may not know is how important those 12 days were to the celebration of Christmas centuries ago.

Lucy Worsley’s special takes us back further than the time when Prince Albert brought Christmas trees to Victorian England, to the court of King Henry VIII.

Indeed, right here, at Hampton Court, Worsley shows us what’s changed, and what hasn’t, about the way we celebrate Christmas.

With the help of food historian Annie Gray, Lucy Worsley actually gets to prepare two royal feasts in the kitchens of Hampton Court Palace.

Dressed as Henry himself, Lucy samples a stuffed boar's head; later, she tastes a giant forerunner of the Christmas cake.

Lucy joins Tudor carol-singers to hear a festive hit written by Henry; experiences the rabble-rousing fun and chaos created by the Lord of Misrule; and enjoys the kind of spectacular entertainment staged at court.

She also discovers how ordinary Tudors liked to enjoy themselves - and why the holidays were such a welcome break.

Personally, I'm a BIG fan of Lucy Worsley's documentaries, and found this one to be incredibly informative and highly entertaining. In this new documentary she explores how Christmas was celebrated during the reign of Henry VIII, and I personally liked that she focuses not only on the Royals, but also on the lower class of people.

Another very well done documentary, 'Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas' is Worsley at her best, making history fun and yet bringing us the "true" facts of the historical case too! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Prehistoric Road Trip'
(DVD / G / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Join host Emily Graslie on the road for a fun and fascinating journey around the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska to explore 2.5 billion years of Earth's history.

Each of the three episodes examines different eras in time, focusing on the geology and ecology of prehistoric environments to discover what the landscape may have resembled millions, even billions, of years ago.

DVD Verdict: On this immersive adventure, Graslie, Chief Curiosity Correspondent at the Field Museum in Chicago and YouTube sensation, uncovers the geologic history of North America, helping scientists dig up dinosaurs and other extraordinary creatures.

With her trademark sense of adventure and wit, Graslie brings extinct world's to life, and seeks to better understand our planet's past and what new discoveries might mean for its future.

Crossing the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming, she examines the fossils of diverse prehistoric creatures and plants and introduces some of the people who helped bring these ancient discoveries to light.

Each episode turns back the pages of the past to examine different eras along Earth’s geologic timeline, focusing on the geology, ecology, and environment.

On this immersive adventure, Graslie uncovers and discovers the history of North American dinosaurs and other fascinating prehistoric creatures, including ancient fishes, mammoths, and early mammals.

Filmed using state-of-the-art drone technology and featuring dynamic illustration graphics, the series brings this now-extinct world to life.

“I am thrilled that I get to share my love of nature, history, paleontology, and – in general – really old, really dead stuff with the PBS audience,” says Graslie.

“And this is an incredible opportunity for me to revisit my home state of South Dakota, where I grew up exploring the great outdoors as a kid.” This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Lets Talk Menopause'
(DVD / PG / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Dr. Tara Allmen provides the tools every woman needs to enter this phase of their lives triumphantly. Dr. Allmen and other women's health experts explain common symptoms, health risks and therapeutic options.

Also, women share their first hand experiences, personal journeys and successful strategies to effectively cope with perimenopause and menopause.

DVD Verdict: In 'Let’s Talk Menopause,' host Dr. Tara Allmen provides viewers with the tools every woman needs to enter this phase of their lives triumphantly.

Therein lies the first lesson: Menopause is part of a process. Menopause refers to a specific point 12 months after a person’s last menstrual cycle.

Perimenopause, which can begin up to 10 years before menopause, is the transitional time during which most menopausal symptoms occur.

Perimenopause usually begins in a person’s 40s but can start as early as a person’s mid- to late 30s.

“During these years, most women will notice early menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbance, heart palpitations, poor memory and concentration, vaginal dryness and … depression,” Dr. Tara Allmen explains.

There’s no better time than now to get educated - an estimated 6,000 women reach menopause every day in the U.S., and by 2025, over 1 billion women in the world will be experiencing menopause.

In this one-hour documentary special, Dr. Allmen, alongside other women's health experts, explains common symptoms, health risks and therapeutic options.

Also, women share their first-hand experiences, personal journeys and successful strategies to effectively cope with perimenopause and menopause. “We can’t be afraid to talk about it; the more informed women are, the better their menopausal years will be," says Allmen.

It is not uncommon to feel grief about the menopausal transition. Allmen says that some of her group describe feeling “old” and struggle with their identity as women. “I try to help them work through the grieving process and work toward an acceptance of what is happening to their body,” she says. “It [the transition] does not change who they are, just how they see themselves.”

Allmen always reassures her group that even though the menopausal process may sometimes seem as if it will go on forever, the stage is temporary. “There is life after menopause,” she emphasizes. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'And She Could Be Next'
(DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: 'And She Could Be Next' follows a defiant movement of women of color as they transform politics from the ground up.

Filmed during the historic 2018 midterm elections, the series follows organizers and candidates including Rashida Tlaib and Stacey Abrams as they fight for a truly reflective government, asking whether democracy can be preserved and made stronger by those most marginalized.

DVD Verdict: A matter of fact now, Democrat Rashida Tlaib, a former Michigan state lawmaker, was the very first Muslim women in Congress come November of 2018.

She ran unopposed in a largely blue House district previously held by Rep. John Conyers — who resigned earlier that year in the wake of sexual harassment allegations — so she was expected to sail to victory, in truth, of course.

Tlaib is a Detroit native who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, and she ran on an unabashedly progressive campaign in the Democratic primary.

As we watch along, we note that she’s part of a wave of about 100 Muslim Americans who filed to run for Congress that year, a surge that one study has tied to growing pushback against rising Islamophobia during the Trump administration.

A strong grassroots campaign propelled Tlaib to victory in the primary, where she edged out Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and Conyers’s great-nephew, state Sen. Ian Conyers.

And she’s not the only Muslim woman who has made history that year — Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Somali immigrant who lived in a refugee camp before moving to the US, won the House seat formerly held by Keith Ellison in Minnesota.

Made by a team of women filmmakers of color, 'And She Could Be Next' features history-makers Stacey Abrams, Rashida Tlaib, Lucy McBath, Maria Elena Durazo, Veronica Escobar, Bushra Amiwala, and Nse Ufot and is a true must see for all interested in the documentary genre. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'Frankie Drake Mysteries: Season 3'
(Lauren Lee Smith, Chantel Riley, Rebecca Liddiard, et al / 3-DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: In Toronto during the roaring 1920s, crime runs rampant. This is the age of flyboys, gangsters, rum-runners, and speakeasies, but these are no match for unflappable heroines Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) of Drake Private Detectives the city's only all-female detective agency.

DVD Verdict: In truth, I'm very glad I gave this show a chance, because it's a lot of fun! I was concerned about other people I talked to about it, saying it was not as good as another favorite of mine, 'Murdoch Mysteries,' but I should not have feared for one second, for 'Frankie Drake Mysteries' is as great a show as I could ever have hoped for!

Oh, and continual comparisons to 'Miss Fisher Mysteries' are unfair as sure, they're both women in the 1920s solving mysteries, but the similarities end there. It's like saying Albert Campion is derivative of Lord Peter Wimsey because they're both male detectives in the 1930s!

That all said, sure, it did take a few episodes for everything to click, but right from the start the actresses were engaging and interesting.

Frankie is the calm center around which some lively characters spin. At times Lauren Lee Smith seems to underplay the part, but when Nora arrives, it makes for a stark and entertaining contrast in personalities.

And here in the wondrous third season, the writing just gets better with each episode and, for me, the highlight episode is the second episode in, "Counterpunch," where Frankie goes undercover as a boxer as part of a plan to take down a corrupt cop.

I guess my only gripe would be the producers constant appeal in trying to shoe horn in real historical figures from their time into the (at times) zany narrative.

The guy who played Hemingway was terrible and boring and added nothing to the story. He should stick to print modeling. And the episode with Mack Sennett would have been better if it were a Mack Sennett type instead!

In my humble opinion, the real-life figures hamper the ability to tell the stories creatively. Otherwise, the plots are enjoyable fun and a good way to spend some time in Corona lockdown!

Other stand out season three episodes here for me are "A Brother in Arms," when Frankie is floored when a man claiming to be her half-brother shows up at the agency begging her to help with wrongly imprisoned friend, and the fun "Life on the Line," where when a toy store owner is the target of an harassment campaign, the gang goes undercover at a telephone exchange to nab the culprit.

Another is the season-ender "A Sunshine State of Mind," where when one of their close friends' mother invests in "Miami Springs" (which turns out to be a prime real estate scam) the team sets up a plan, with the help of an old friend of Frankie's to get her money back. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Girl Gang
Styling The Twenties

'Easy Yoga For Everything With Peggy Cappy'
(Peggy Cappy, et al / 10-DVD / G / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: These 10 workouts address how yoga can be used to alleviate pain and cope with various physical challenges from arthritis to heart health, back pain and diabetes.

In these exercise routines, Peggy Cappy demonstrates her signature yoga approach in a workout that anyone can do in a standing or a seated position; with or without the aid of a chair; at home; one routine or one segment at a time.

DVD Verdict: For over forty years, Peggy Cappy has been teaching yoga to students of all ages and abilities.

Yoga has been shown to help with balance, muscle strength, flexibility, and improving circulation.

These 10 workouts address how yoga can be used to alleviate pain and cope with various physical challenges from arthritis to heart health, back pain and diabetes.

In these exercise routines, Peggy Cappy demonstrates her signature yoga approach in a workout that anyone can do in a standing or a seated position; with or without the aid of a chair; at home; one routine or one segment at a time.

Programs include: Easy Yoga for Arthritis / Heart Healthy Yoga / Easy Yoga for Easing Pain / Back Care Basics / Easy Yoga for Diabetes / Survival Guide for Pain-Free Living / Part 1: The Basics / Part 2: Lower Body / Part 3: Upper Body / Part 4: Preventing Pain / Easy Yoga: The Secret to Strength and Balance.

If you are just starting out with yoga or rehabiliting from an injury this is the DVD for you. Peggy explains every movement before it's performed.

Overall, there are three participates - one that is always performing the movements seats, one that requires a chair for balance and one that performs the moves for the experienced yogi.

This 10-Disc DVD box-set divides itself fluidly into five sections so the user has the option to complete the entire program or pick one section; i.e. breathing, seated warm-up, etc.

Sometime, you might find one of the DVDs a little slow, but that's the point as it's geared towards people wanting to develop their strength and balance.

Indeed, throughout these wonderful DVDs, Peggy really makes us achieve much more balance - mentally and physically - in our lives. I was amazed at how I could actually attain balance in the majority of her poses the first time I did it!

I love all the programs and feel confident that I will also achieve much more strength in my body as well as balance as I work with her.

Every DVD I have purchased of hers is perfect for therapeutic as well as gentle Yoga in my life - as a 70 year old woman who's body is aging, but not defeated!

Even my regular Yoga instructor approves of her techniques so that's definitely two thumbs up for Peggy right there (do they even day that anymore, sorry?!)

Peggy's practices are so relaxing and effective. I want to be flexible and strong, without feeling like I have to stretch beyond the limits of my flexibility.

Peggy is encouraging and gives different options for your own level of flexibility. I particularly love the lying practices. I did the Lying Poses for Flexibility practice today and I feel incredibly relaxed (like I'd had an amazing massage!)

In closing, sure, I'm no spring chicken, but I'm an active person and have been doing Peggy's yoga DVDs for quite a while now and I have gained so much in my upper body strength and flexibility.

Furthermore, I am very impressed that I can get those results so quickly and so I would highly recommend this brand new box-set 'Easy Yoga For Everything With Peggy Cappy' from PBS for anyone (even if you are not a beginner, as you will gain oh-so much from these DVDs, believe me!) This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(David A.R. White, Jeff Fahey, Burt Young, Brighton Sharbino, William Baldwin, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: A contract killer, becomes the reverend of a LA church, until a cult leader and his minions kidnap his daughter.

Blinded by vengeance, he cuts a bloody path across the city. The only thing that can stop him is his newfound faith.

DVD Verdict: Aaron Beckman is finished – done with a life lived in the shadows as a cruel gun for hire. Now, his soul cries out for healing, peace, forgiveness and grace.

In desperation, he appeals to the church and is welcomed by an ailing pastor like a long-lost son. However, his journey towards salvation is cut short when his adopted daughter is kidnapped by a deranged cult leader named Reese.

Blinded by rage, Beckman sets off on a dangerous rescue mission and is forced to revert back to his old violent ways. The only thing that can stop Beckman's rampage is his faith – but will he remember it in time to save his soul?

Well, my friends, if you like your action OTT and yet firmly straddled between coarsely believable and completely unbelievable, then 'Beckman' is the movie for you!

Right out the gate we get a taste of what's to come and sure, when one finds religion one tends to slow their collective roll, but then, when one gets angry again, yep, we're back running at full throttle for one hell of a movie!

'Beckman' also features a pretty decent action storyline that keeps you entertained and always rooting for the good guy to win. As for the whole premise of the movie, the theme of a hitman turned Preacher who has to turn back to his former life to rescue his adopted daughter from the bad guys, sure, it pans out long enough to become something you cannot turn away from.

But, of course, all these types of movie have that one, B-movie star that just doesn't seem to age, but whoes acting doesn't seem to get any better either!

Here that is the one and only Billy Baldwin who, and not to give too much away here, runs a so-called cult, and as much as his acting is off the charts chock full of cheese, I actually wish they had spent a wee bit more time fleshing his storyline out, in truth.

Regardless, he's not really that much of a menacing villain, for, well, he came across more of a reluctant pacifist to me, but he does manage to bring something threatening, some psychological padding to his role and the storyline therein. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• Feature commentary with writer/director Gabriel Sabloff and executive producer/star David A.R. White
• The Making of BECKMAN: Faith and Hope Amidst the Storm
• BECKMAN Bloopers

Official Trailer

Official 'Beckman' Facebook Page

Official 'Beckman' Twitter Page

Official 'Beckman' Instagram Page

'A Dark Path'
(Akenna Guyler, Mari Beaseley, Thomasin Lockwood, Jimmy Essex, Annabel Mackinnon, Austin Grace Long, Adrian Dimberline, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / Trinity Creative Partnership)

Overview: On their way home from a party in eastern Europe, sisters Abi and Lily get lost. With no signal and an unreliable GPS, they try to navigate their way out using road signs.

Along a narrow road, through a deep forest, their front tire suddenly blows out. With no spare or cell service, they are completely cut off.

Soon they discover that this is no ordinary forest and there is a reason no cars come up here, for the locals know of what lives deep in the woods and if they’re woken, there is nowhere to run.

DVD Verdict: Sure, we've all seen the good ol' lost in the woods 'horror movies a ton before, but on a lower budget, done with some formidable camera work, here in 'A Dark Path,' well, this one actually kept me watching the whole way through.

Admittedly, it is chock full of silly, if not completely nonsensical situations and decision making, and, of course, the "monster" itself (when finally revealed) was a B-movie costume/CGI incarnation), but I guess the one thing that pissed me off the most (and this wasn't realized until the end of the film), was that the twist ending had actually already featured in the trailer!

All that aside, and even as the movie does kinda conclude very abruptly for my liking, here in 'A Dark Path' there are no clever characters, no good choices made, and everything is set up for them all to meet their maker, sooner rather than later; and yet it all works!

But if you are hoping for some back story to the "monster," sorry kids, but that just ain't forthcoming, for at no point are we presented with any folklore or mythology about why it inhabits those woods (which, for my money, would have been nice).

In conclusion, 'A Dark Place' feels like a low budget TV movie made in the late '80s, especially with the "monster" a combination of what they used to look like in old computer games crossed with the knock off cousin of Swamp Thing, but this dark (literally and figuratively) movie is worth your time if you are a fan of this genre 9and who isn't?) This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

(Janet Shay, Hayley Flowers, Sandra Stockley, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / GVN Releasing)

Overview: Angered by all the child abuse in the world, a former child psychologist goes vigilante, targeting child sex offenders who escaped severe sentences.

DVD Verdict: Centered around a female vigilante who has just had enough, come to the end of her tether, with all these child predators (back) out on the streets, this low budget, but expertly shot movie features one heck of a compelling script brought to life by our magnificent lead, the frustrated and angered Jessie (Janet Shay).

Not to give too much away early on, but our "heroine" is a former child psychologist who happens to be a (stalking) vigilante who - even through some uneven, and less than original seaming together of plot points - brings to the fore an acting job that (given its subject matter) should resonate two thumbs up from us all!

With a gritty cinematic look and feel to it, the overall cast acting is good, the background given throwaway lines here and there, but in truth no one is really given too much verbal script to get their teeth into; primarily because there isn't a lot of dialogue thrown around here, I guess.

So, with our moody and pissed off lead taking on all bad comers, one by one, this vigilante may not be keeping herself to the high "get in fast, get out clean" standards of our beloved "Paul Kersey" (look it up, if you must), but she most certainly does add some thrills and subtle amounts of realism to this low-violence, yet tension and suspense-filled movie. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.