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The Fabelmans [4K Ultra HD]
(Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, et al / 4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital / PG-13 / 2023 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: A deeply personal portrait of 20th Century American childhood, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans is a coming-of-age story about a young man’s discovery of a shattering family secret and an exploration of the power of movies to help us see the truth about each other and ourselves.

Inspired by Spielberg’s own childhood, The Fabelmans is written by Spielberg and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Caroline, or Change), who has earned Oscar nominations for his screenplays for Spielberg’s Lincoln and Munich.

The film is produced by three-time Oscar nominee Kristie Macosko Krieger (West Side Story, The Post), Spielberg and Kushner.

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated The Fabelmans in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this February 14th, 2023.

For my money, this The Fabelmans [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital] combo pack 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 Fabelmans 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 UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is 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 exquisitely shot, dulcet in shades, Mom’s Heart scene, where Seth Rogen does some of his best dramatic acting to date.

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 Camping Trip Movie scene, where Paul Dano earnestly tells his son he should film everything that goes on whilst out there camping, as it would make his mother feel better.

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1.

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.

As for the movie itself, well, for my money it is arguably the best movie of 2022! A list of the greatest directors of all time, beginning with Orson Welles, would include Steven Spielberg. This thesis is proven multiple times in his tour-de-force The Fabelmans, his semi-autobiography that chronicles the early family life of Sammy Fabelman, standing in for Spielberg, and the birth of his obsession with movies.

As a youngster, Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel La Belle) is introduced to cinema by his mother, Mitzi, and father, Burt (Paul Dano), after he exclaimed his lack of desire to witness this adult diversion. Once he saw a train wreck on the screen, he was impelled to re-create the scene with his model train. Subsequently as a young man he filmed toilet-paper mummies, his Boy Scout troupe in stock westerns, and bloody war movies in the desert of Arizona.

And so began the story of his film passion up through his brief encounter with legendary director John Ford: They tell me you want to become a picture maker. What do you know about art, kid? Obviously much.

The strength of this engaging recounting of Sammy’s growth into a world-class director is the sustained realism of the challenges a young man experiences, like his eccentric mother in love with his dad’s best friend, Uncle Benny (Seth Rogan), and crushing anti-Semitism in high school. The depiction of his harassment is alternately cliched-the bigger boys pick on diminutive, Jewish him-and inspiring as he uses his burgeoning film expertise to subvert the relentless annoyances.

Midway in the drama, itinerant arts-loving Uncle Boris (Judd Hirsch) expresses what Spielberg and his co-writer, Tony Kushner, are getting at about the conjunction of art and life: Family, art, life - it will tear you in two. The Fabelmans evidences the way to deal with the vagaries of cinema-love every ironic and sardonic moment, because they are the stuff of art. The score, by who else but John Williams, elevates even the darkest moments.

While he has difficulty dealing with these roadblocks, no doubt they contributed to his deep understanding of life’s richness in its flaws. So trust me when I say that even if The Fabelmans doesn’t receive multiple Oscar nominations, that include best picture, it is still one of the, if not the BEST film of 2022, of that you have my viewing word!

• THE FABELMANS: A Personal Journey - Steven Spielberg reflects on how THE FABELMANS is inspired by his own personal story and family.
• Family Dynamics * - Discover how the film’s cast brought THE FABELMANS to life as Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen and more build a bridge between their onscreen personalities and their true-life counterparts.
• Crafting the World of THE FABELMANS *- From costume and set design to music and cinematography, the filmmakers behind THE FABELMANS reveal how they created movie magic while capturing the film’s unique look.
*Not on DVD

Director Steven Spielberg brings a deeply personal portrait of a 20th century American childhood in the semi-autobiographical film, THE FABELMANS, available to own on Digital January 17, 2023 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD on February 14, 2023 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Fabelmans | Trailer | Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

The Fabelmans Official Website

Fill ’er Up With Super (Collector’s Edition) [BR]
(Bernard Crombey, Etienne Chicot, Xavier Saint-Macary, Patrick Bouchitey, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1976) 2023 / Radiance - MVD Visual)

Overview: Two 25-year-old lads have to drive a Chevrolet from Lille to Cannes. As they fill up with gas in Paris, they’re joined by two other guys. Each has his own reasons for being in the car. For all of them, this road movie is an opportunity to reflect on their lives and ambitions.

Blu-ray Verdict: From acclaimed director Alain Cavalier, César Award winner for Best Film and Best Director for his film Thérèse in 1987, Fill ’er Up with Super is ranked #71 in Time Out’s list of the 100 greatest French films, and rightly so, in my humble opinion.

Klouk (Bernard Crombey) is a car salesman who has to miss a family holiday to deliver a luxury Chevrolet station wagon to his boss’ wealthy client. He decides to take his friend Philippe (Xavier Saint-Macary) along with him for the ride across the length of France from Lille to the Cote d’Azur.

On the way they give a lift to hitchhiker Charles (Etienne Chicot) who also brings along his friend Daniel (Patrick Bouchitey). A buddy road movie that came together from genuine friendship and developed throughout the months-long script workshop, giving the film a casual and naturalistic quality that pre-dates Richard Linklater’s similar approaches by some decade, Fill ’Er Up with Super is one of many touching road movie comedies about youth in a line of classics.

A meditation on friendship and masculinity, often funny, even a little offbeat, and with a good, solid cast carefully taking care of the script throughout; one which includes Etienne Chicot - who wrote the end credits music, and the wonderful Patrick Bouchitey, who made the very same year the extraordinary la meilleure façon de marcher - Fill ’er Up With Super is now presented here as a most glorious new 2K restoration of the film from the original negative and is, once more, a gleaming cinematic jewel to behold of the highest order.

Archival interviews with the cast
Reversible sleeve featuring designs based on original posters
Limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the film and archival writing
Limited edition of 2000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings

A Woman Kills (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
(Jean Rollin, Claude Merlin, Solange Pradel, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1968) 2023 / Radiance - MVD Visual)

Overview: A series of prostitute murders disturb the public with the thought of a serial killer on the loose. Hélène Picard, a prostitute, is sentenced and executed for the murders, but shortly thereafter similar crimes continue.

Executioner Louis Guilbot meanwhile develops a relationship with the investigating officer, Solange, who soon learns Louis may not be who he says he is.

Filmed in the tumultuous events of May 1968, Jean-Denis Bonan’s A Woman Kills never found distribution due to controversy around the director’s first film and producer Anatole Dauman (The Beast, Hiroshima mon amour) was unable to find distribution for the film for 45 years until Luna Park Films brought it back to life in a new restoration.

Now released on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere, audiences outside of France can finally experience this utterly singular film, a new wave-influenced serial killer film that presents its narrative in an almost true crime approach yet focuses more on the psychological aspect with echoes of Polanski and Franju, set to a discordant, jazzy score.

Blu-ray Verdict: In what was already a little-known French movie, but one whose premise (even for back in 1968) was wholly original and one that I myself was immediately intrigued by, we open in Spring of 1968 in Paris.

A serial killer has been executed and yet murders of prostitutes in Pigalle continue, thus the police restart investigating the case, their tails well and truly between their collective legs!

Embodied with some truly stellar cinematography provided by Gérard de Battista, which at most all times gives it a rustic Noir feel throughout, A Woman Kills also comes complete with a jazzy soundtrack by Bernard Vitet; which only adds excellence to the overall textures of the visual experience.

Inclusive of some rather excellent political context of its time also, something that is honorably reflected when such refrains are required, Jean-Denis Bonan’s A Woman Kills is now re-released as a sumptuous Limited Edition 2K restoration of the film from the original 16mm elements Original uncompressed mono PCM audio.

Thus I would highly recommend this movie to hardcore film European Noir lovers, like myself, and also to French New Wave fans. Although, I guess I should add this, if you honestly don’t like disturbing films, stay away from this one altogether!

Also presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of markings, and, among other things, featuring an Audio commentary by critics Kat Ellinger and Virginie Sélavy, with an Introduction by the latter also included, A Woman Kills (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] is as good, as great as it gets for this quite mesmeric of late ’60s French films.

2K restoration of the film from the original 16mm elements
Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
Audio commentary by critics Kat Ellinger and Virginie Sélavy
Introduction by Virginie Sélavy
On the Margin: The Cursed Films of Jean-Denis Bonan (Francis Lecomte, 2015/2022, 37 mins) - a newly updated documentary featuring director Jean-Denis Bonan, cinematographer Gérard de Battista, editor Mireille Abramovici, musician Daniel Laloux, and actress Jackie Rynal
Short films by Jean-Denis Bonan: The Short Life of Monsieur Meucieu (1962, 13 mins), A Crime of Love (1965, 7 mins), rushes of an incomplete film; The Sadness of the Anthropophagi (1966, 24 mins), Crazy Matthew (1967, 17 mins), A Season with Mankind (1967, 20 mins)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 4K UHD Steelbook
(Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, et al / 4K UHD Steelbook Blu-ray / NR / (1974) 2023 / MPI Home Video)

Overview: Violent, confrontational, and shockingly realistic, director Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE terrified audiences in a way never thought possible when it was unleashed on a politically and socially tumultuous America in 1974.

Facing a storm of controversy, censorship, and outcry throughout its troubled release, this masterpiece of horror has stood the test of time to become a landmark motion picture and cultural milestone.​

Now, for the first time, Dark Sky Films proudly presents its director-approved 4K restoration of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE on UHD, bringing all the scares and the screams into terrifying focus and clarity, making for an immersive viewing experience you won’t forget.

Whether first-time viewer or long-term fan, this is THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE as you’ve never seen or heard it before!

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: MPI Home Video / Dark Sky Films is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the expansive 4K Ultra HD Steelbook format this February 28th, 2023.

For my money, this The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [4K Ultra HD Steelbook] has a crisp sharpness to it that takes a fairly large step forward from others that have tried to bring this horror gem to the masses.

So, what we have is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre presented to us as a two-disc combo pack, with other stand out points you should know being: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision, 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 UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable. For me, it’s the now infamous Shorts Scene (which is actually used in directing classes around the world for young filmmakers), where after shouting out for Kirk, our red-short wearing female (Pam) leaves the water and heads directly for the house!

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 very same exquisitely shot scene above, where Pam, until the menacing structure hides the safety and security of blue clouds and a bright, sunny day by filling the entire frame, disappears into the discomforting shadows of the front porch. Simply phenomenal, as a film making art, but also as to how overall crisp this color all looks now, some 50+ years on.

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit) and English: LPCM Mono (48kHz, 16-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.

As for the movie itself, well, since the dawn of time, man has entertained one another by telling chilling tales of the mad and macabre. In the beginning merely illuminated by the flickering lights of a campfire, later the stories of horror was put on to paper and the theater stage as the institution of man grew more sophisticated, through the annals of time.

When the magic of motion pictures first dawned upon us in the early 20th century, that grand tradition naturally continued in this new medium and now, almost a hundred years later, an extensive catalogue of titles have been responsible for generations upon generations of nightmares, chronicled and passed down through the ages to invoke joy and wonderment in the hungry masses of scare crazed fans.

In the 21st century however, one of the ultimate truths in the way of fright flicks is that something changed back in the smoldering summer heat of 1974 (just as it did when George A. Romero created the modernized version of the zombie in 1968). The change? From them on out, all roads traveled in the ways of horror would inevitably lead to Texas.

After hearing rumors about grave robbing and ritualistic desecration of the corpses at various rural graveyards in and around Texas, five youths, consisting of Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her invalided brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) accompanied by three of their friends are subsequently en route to examine the condition of their grandfather’s resting place and afterwards spend a few days crashing at an old family heirloom - an abandoned farmhouse, that’s as desolated as it is sheltered - for a bit of relaxation under the blistering hot summer sun.

As the group ventures though the bucolic landscape, they pass a depleted and crumbling old slaughterhouse, where they decide pick up a dense looking hitch-hiker (Edwin Neal) standing at the side of the road, but this benevolent act backfires horribly as the mood turns increasingly sinister, culminating in the ominous stranger attacking the wheelchair bound Franklin and cutting his arm with a filthy straight razor before the group can managed to push him out of the van.

As the party reaches the confides of the old family home, the mood is understandably a bit tense, with Franklin in particular, distressed by the preceding events, getting on everyone’s nerves with his excessive whining about the matter. As the mood starts to settle and the group begins to unwind, the faction soon separate and while some stay at the house to get settled, others turns to exploring the area - an initiative that will prove highly ill-advised as a certain part of the region’s residents doesn’t take too kindly to strangers.

Soon the kids plunge into a seemingly never-ending nightmare as they are attacked by the monstrous Leatherface (Gunner Hansen) and his nefarious family of cannibals who proves that you don’t need much in the way of etiquette or social skills, when equipped with a bloody big chainsaw and a full-size supply of meat hooks!

You might wonder why I chose to incorporate the little intro on the history of horror, preceding the synopsis. Well, you see, I was going for that epic feel - a touch of grandeur, if you will, as I not only regard The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the greatest horror film of all time but quite possibly the greatest motion picture ever produced, period!

Just like it pertains to most examples of great film making, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is utterly unique - a movie that completely obliterates genre conventions and transcends the boundaries of its form. I cited Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968) earlier, which is the film that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre undoubtedly shears most of its attributes. Both were conjured up during times of great turmoil, globally as well as within the United States.

Both movies also reflects an alarming distrust in authorities and societies’ appointed leaders and their escalating lies and deception, while simultaneously operating as a stake through the heart of the American myth concerning the altruistic good guys sporting white hats while forever prevailing against the deficient elements. In these films man as a whole, was the deficient element.

Another funny coincidence is that both films have also been added to the permanent collection of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, thus validating their claim as legitimate, unconventional art. Not bad for a film originally entitled Headcheese. Co-written by Kim Henkel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is, just as Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) and Deranged (Alan Ormsby, Jeff Gillen, 1974), inspired by the heinous crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, and introduces gritty Texas-atmosphere in a sizzling heat with discomfort, disgust and death along with the now almost mythical chainsaw and one of the most iconic masks in horror cinema history.

But the film is not just cruel and horrifying. It’s also a kind of social satire (without being funny), which turns and twists the so-called American Dream and the gloss image of the perfect American family. Daniel Pearl’s secure sense of eerie cinematography is one of this film’s many strengths. Shot on 16mm using a Bolex and Eclair NPR camera, the visuals and the compositions are a work of pure incontrovertible art (you could hang any frame on the wall) and Pearl’s handheld, free-wheeling, pseudo-documentary cinema-vérité style with almost panic-like zooms on skulls, bones, rusty birdcages and dilated eyes, is an ideal fit for the frantic and unsettling narrative, palpable throughout the piece.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for some sly and rather sophisticated set-ups along the way. Check out the aforementioned scene where Teri McInnis’ Pam walks from her previous position by a swing set, towards the ominous looking farmhouse, for further proof of this. A grainy and nicotine yellow color pattern seems to be all pervading in the scenes depicting daytime activities, capturing the desolated landscape of the lone star state flawlessly, with its desiccated dirt roads and untamed vegetation, whereas nighttime as a fusion of shadowy black and steely blues invokes similar awe and astonishment at the capacity of the film and the people behind it.

The score by Wayne Bell and Hooper himself is another triumph. This experimental soundtrack is reminiscent of twisted uncontrolled metal sounds and squeals, and is highly unorthodox in its chaotic sound design, tailor-made for evoking anguish and discomfort.

Last I want to mention the film’s brilliant set-design courtesy of art director Robert A. Burns, which truly act as a benchmark for the genre and has acted as inspiration for every Hillbilly Horror following. The acting performances are also incredibly effective. Especially Marilyn Burns and Paul A. Pertain are extremely valuable in bestowing the film with an almost impenetrable sense of tension and despair, throughout its 90 minute of run time.

The rest of the fresh faced cast seems to act primarily as fodder, but personally I enjoyed the fact that they are portrayed with an air of naive innocence about them. But let’s face it, you came here for the family and boy do they deliver, as this is quite possible the baddest bunch of hombres ever depicted on film.

Edwin Neal is absolutely radiant as the psychotic Hitch-Hiker, attacking each scene with a manic energy befitting a true berserker; he doesn’t so much draw you in as pull you violently face to face with his epic performance. Equally impressive is the character of the cook, the irascibly family patriarch, who is brilliantly brought to life by veteran character actor Jim Siedow. Sadly he passed away in 2003, but left us this immaculate part to enjoy.

Leatherface, meanwhile, is a full-fletched horror-icon, celebrated by all as the true face of the franchise and it’s not difficult to see why. Gunner Hansen embodies this monstrosity with all his might and he truly is Leatherface, reducing all others who have subsequently donned the human skin mask to a mere afterthought.

Tobe Hooper’s almost apocalyptic landscape is a deserted wasteland of dissolution where vibrant colors and hope for a future is all but desiccated. The lone star state has metamorphosed into a hellish bone yard of dying cattle, rusted gas stations and desecrated cadavers, and now functions as home base for a pack of psychotic killers whose hunt for rations is the standard when it comes to challenging the established American experience in movie terminology.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is, without a doubt, Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece and an utterly flawless motion picture experience and its impact on the unsuspecting viewer, neither can nor will be replicated, ever again. In truth, Hooper has never since managed, or even gotten close, to reaching the majestic heights of his debut feature. Much like a young Orson Wells, Hooper hit the ground running, only to gradually run out of steam throughout his subsequent career.

Never the less, the fact that, and according to John Larroquette himself, that his payment for doing the opening narration was a marijuana joint, one has to still bow down to a master of such creative genius!

The film follows a group of young friends (played by Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail and Teri McMinn) road-tripping by van through Texas who fall victim to a bizarre family of cannibals – including a huge masked madman known as Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) who always has a gas-powered chain saw at the ready.

The shocker originated many elements of the slasher genre that would soon explode: the use of power tools as murder weapons, a hulking faceless killer, a desolate rural setting, and the sadistic slaughter of innocent young victims.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre arrives in deluxe 4K UHD and 4K UHD Steelbook editions, each containing a bonus disc containing a wealth of supplemental materials. Disc 1 holds the 4K UHD feature film and four commentary tracks: writer-producer-director Tobe Hooper, actor Gunnar Hansen and cinematographer Daniel Pearl; actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger and Paul A. Partain with production designer Robert Burns; Tobe Hooper solo; and Daniel Pearl, editor J. Larry Carroll and sound recordist Ted Nicolaou.

Disc 2, a Blu-ray, contains the new, never-before-seen feature-length documentary The Legacy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and several featurettes. These include “The Cinefamily Presents FRIEDKIN/HOOPER,” a conversation about the film between Tobe Hooper and The Exorcist director William Friedkin; “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth”; “Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw”; a tour of the TCSM house with Gunnar Hansen; “Off the Hook with Teri McMinn”; and “The Business of Chain Saw: An Interview with Production Manager Ron Bozman.

Filling out the generous package are deleted scenes and outtakes, a blooper reel, trailers, vintage TV and radio spots, and much more to thrill fans old and new.

Nothing Is Impossible
(David White, Nadia Bjorlin, Mark Lawrence, Robert Amaya, Stella Parton, et al / DVD / NR / 2023 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Scott Beck’s (David A.R. White) life has not gone to plan. Working as the janitor at the high school where he was once the star of the basketball team, he is dealing with an ailing father, a busted truck and memories of Ryan (Nadia Bjorlin), the girl he loved long ago.

but opportunity arises when Ryan, now the owner of the Knoxville Silver Knights, decides to hold open tryouts for the team. Scott attempts to make the impossible happen by not only making the team, but getting back the woman he loves in this inspiring and winning drama.

DVD Verdict: Scott Beck was shoe-in for the NBA. Or so everyone thought. 20 years later he’s a janitor at the old high school he once attended, having been passed over during the draft.

He’s still a legend there with the current team, but life and reality changed his plans. In the present day he’s juggling a nagging landlady, tight finances, a frequently broken truck and an ill father.

Everyday is the same and feeling bleak, until an old flame and new opportunity come into his life. Ryan Aikins, his high school sweetheart and former fiancé, is now the owner of the Knoxville Silver Knights, their hometown team.

After firing two players for criminal and unethical behavior, the team is in desperate need of replacements but financial issues pose a problem to recruitment. Butting heads with Coach Banks, Ryan decides to hold open tryouts which brings Scott and Ryan back into each others worlds.

So, the question now arises, will the past Scott gave up on years before come back for a second chance with the sport and the woman he still loves?

Well, as they say, with God, nothing is impossible, and thus this excellently-crafted movie Nothing Is Impossible is one of those flicks that you start to watch, continue to watch and only realize come the ends credits that you never once moved, were always attentive to the acting, the plot, the dialogue and everything that went with it.

For me, the characters felt real. They have their own talents, but are flawed, like us every day folk. Which is why I liked this movie as in today’s world it’s the norm to make the protagonists so perfect that there is no triumph, no risk, and no real investment.

Fortunately, Nothing Is Impossible stuck with the tried and true form of storytelling. They get us invested in who these people are, where they came from, their strengths and weaknesses, their failings and their courage.

In short, this is what good storytelling is all about. Thus people are inspired to reevaluate their own lives even in relation to this fictional story, because even in the fiction there is relatable truth.

Personally, I instantly liked, and believed in Scott from the off. I found him to be relatable. He continually was being judged as he struggled with his past. He had to learn about himself, how to use his talents to be good and listen to what God was telling him instead of those around him always doubting him.

In closing, I thought this was a touching, inspirational and heartwarming story that would be a perfect addition to any family movie night.

Official Trailer

Training Day (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital)
(Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, et al / 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital / R / (2001) 2023 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Denzel Washington delivers an Academy Award-winning performance opposite Ethan Hawke in this gritty drama set in the morally ambiguous world of undercover police work.

Every day a war rages between drug dealers and cops on the streets of America’s inner cities. With every war come casualties, none greater than 13-year veteran Los Angeles narcotics officer Alonzo Harris (Washington), whose questionable methods blur the line between legal and corrupt.

Today Alonzo gets a new partner, idealistic rookie Jake Hoyt (Hawke), and Jake has one day - and one day only - to prove his mettle to his fiercely charismatic superior. Over 24 hours, Jake will be dragged into the ethical mire of Alonzo’s logic as both men risk their careers and their lives to serve conflicting notions of justice.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the intensely frenetic Training Day in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this February 28th, 2023.

For my money, this Training Day [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital] combo pack 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 Training Day 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 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 UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is 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 Break In at Roger’s House scene. Set out like a raid from the outside, but ending up inside more like pirates digging up buried treasure than they do cops, the scene really now pops.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the faded, murky white-graded material.

Such as the now infamous You’d Be Dead By Now MF car scene with both Washington and Hawke, where Alonzo offers up some undercover tips; and yet given the scene is a perfect example of peer pressure, still deeply resonates with not only the now color-boosted car talk, but also the fine line facial reaction from Hawke as the gun is pressed to his temple!

As for the audio, well we have a veritable mini smorgasbord of choice here: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: 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.

As for the movie itself, well, Denzel Washington earned his Best Actor Oscar in Training Day portraying a veteran LAPD narcotics officer who has become every bit as hard, amoral and corrupt as the mean city streets he patrols.

We’ve seen plenty of bad apple cops in movies before, but rarely one as chillingly complex as Alonzo Harris, a man who long ago abandoned any of the crime-fighting idealism that led him to the job in the first place. Harris has learned that to deal with bad people one has to become bad oneself, and he has no compunction against going outside the law if that is the only way to get what he wants.

For while he may piously declare that he is only beating the lowlifes at their own game - employing their tools, using their methods - the truth is that Harris has simply sold his soul to the same self-centered greed that motivates the criminals he is supposedly after.

Writer David Ayer provides Harris with the perfect foil for him to go up against in the form of Jake Hoyt, a rookie cop who has been assigned to be the veteran’s partner. Feeling that he is finally going to be able to fulfill his lifelong dream of helping to make the world a better place, Jake is in for a very rude awakening once he comes up against the hard boiled cynicism of this more-than-he-bargained-for partner.

Filled with the understandable jitters and self-doubt that come with the first day on the job, Jake quickly comes to see that there is something not quite right with Harris, who spends much of the day breaking laws, flaunting procedures and even threatening Jake’s life if he doesn’t go along with the many nefarious plans and schemes he has up his sleeves.

Of course, Harris attempts to seduce Jake over to his way of thinking by arguing that such unconventional actions are required to circumvent a legal system that hamstrings officers with its bureaucratic rules and obsession with civil rights violations. Or is this just a convenient excuse for Harris to justify his lawbreaking?

The film is, in many ways, more interesting as a study of Jake’s character than of Harris’, as we wonder if Jake will come to accept Harris’ seasoned viewpoint or somehow see through it and remain true to his ideals.

Training Day is filled with scenes of great dramatic intensity, often times based on some legitimate moral dilemma that Jake finds himself confronting. The mercurial nature of Harris’ behavior keeps us as bewildered and off guard as it does Jake, for like him, we really don’t know what exactly Harris wants or where he is coming from.

Such moral ambiguity is a sign of powerful storytelling and Ayer deserves a great deal of credit for bringing some depth to an overworked genre. However, at times the film feels a bit forced and strains credibility just when we most need to believe in its truthfulness.

This is particularly the case in a scene in which Jake is about to be blown away in a bathtub and receives a last minute reprieve in the form of a coincidence too preposterous to be even slightly believable. Moreover, some of Harris’ actions - though valid for the point that the film is trying to make perhaps - seem highly unlikely in the real world.

The overall effect of them is to throw the audience out of the movie just when we are most eager to go where we feel it is taking us. However, these are minor quibbles about a film that works so well for so much of the time

As this is the film that won Washington his Academy Award, we must not fail to mention the superb performances delivered by both him and Ethan Hawke as Jake. Washington, generally relegated to good guy roles, proves himself a deft villain in this case, displaying the many intricate coils of his seething, cobra-like character.

In many ways, though, Hawke does the more impressive job, partly because he has been given the less flamboyant role of passive observer. Washington gets to hit all the dramatic heights, yet, it is through Jake’s eyes that the audience gets to observe this lethal individual and Hawke provides the understated richness that brings this every man character to life.

As Jake gets more and more intricately ensnared and embroiled in Harris’ immoral actions, we can’t help but identify with the ethical plight being thrust on this man who just wants to do what he knows – or thinks he knows – is right. Thus, these two fine actors provide the explosive, symbiotic partnership that brings the screenplay to vivid life.

Director Antoine Fuqua makes each moment count dramatically, whether it be a tense confrontation between Harris and Jake over an issue of great moral consequence or a subtle moment of quiet reflection as Jake contemplates his next move.

In closing, and despite the fact that the film seems to strain a bit at the edges (one wonders what Jake’s SECOND day on the job will be like), Training Day provides more food for thought than your average cop buddy movie – and much, much finer acting.

Training Day Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:
• Pharoahe Monch’s “Got You” music video
• Nelly’s “#1” music video
• Deleted Scenes
• Commentary by director Antoine Fuqua
• Training Day: Crossing The Line Featurette
• Alternative Endings

Training Day, starring Academy Award winner Denzel Washington and Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke and directed by Antoine Fuqua, will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack on February 28th and Digital on February 7th, it was announced today by Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ 2001 crime thriller Training Day was directed by Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen, The Equalizer) from a screenplay by David Ayer (The Fast & The Furious). Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Detective Alonzo Harris, and Hawke was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Office Jake Hoyt.

Training Day was produced by Bobby Newmyer and Jeffrey Silver. The film also stars Scott Glenn (Silverado, Backdraft), Cliff Curtis (Live Free or Die Hard), Dr. Dre (Set It Off), Snoop Dog (The Wash), and Eva Mendes (Ghost Rider, The Women).

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.

Training Day will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $33.99 SRP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Digital download of the film. Fans can also own Training Day in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on February 7th.

House Party [2023]
(Karen Obilom, Tosin Cole, Jacob Latimore, et al / DVD / R / 2023 / Warner Bros. Pictures)

Overview: In “House Party”, aspiring club promoters and best buds Damon (Tosin Cole) and Kevin (Jacob Latimore) are barely keeping things together. Out of money, down on their luck and about to lose the roofs over their heads — and freshly fired from their low-lift jobs as house cleaners — the pair needs a huge windfall to make their problems go away.

In a ‘What the hell?’ move, they decide to host the party of the year at an exclusive mansion, the site of their last cleaning job, which just happens to belong to none other than LeBron James. No permission? No problem. What could go wrong?

DVD Verdict: For those unaware, House Party is a remake of the 1990 film of the same name and is directed by Calmatic, who himself is more known for directing music videos by various music artists.

The plot is about Damon (Tosin Cole), who is himself not financially strong. In fact, his financial situation is so bad that he can hardly afford to pay for his house anymore. So together with his friend Kevin (Jacob Latimore), they try to make money cleaning houses.

When they also lose this job, they decide to throw a house party at the last house they cleaned: LeBron James’ house! Knowing that LeBron won’t be coming home, the two friends throw a big party at his house and try to make money from it.

Now, sure, the house party seems to be a financial success at first, but when things start to get out of hand, things change for the two friends!

In addition to the film being directed by Calmatic (the aforementioned music video clip artist), this remake has also clearly been written, and influenced, by other musical writers. And as much as these writers have done more in the way of short musical TV stuff before, here on this feature-length film, they do come together well, if not wholly.

Indeed, it is so very obvious that they collectively know how to process their musical knowledge well, and appropriately, in this remake, and with comedy that responds to this.

That said, and although it cannot sustain the sometimes-riotous comedy elements throughout, Tosin Cole and Jacob Latimore do manage to carry the film as the leads, but a better written script, and a plot that didn’t feature just so many corny plot holes, most assuredly would have heightened their overall control of this quite rhythmic movie.

Oh, and you also, as you might well have expected, get some rather entertaining cameos from famous people, especially people from the music world. Sure, most of these people get little to do with their time in the movie, besides providing some extra comedy, but it works for those most precious of quip moments.

In conclusion, House Party is a fun and nostalgic romp, and as much as it doesn’t quite live up to the original, it is definitely its very own musically-comedic beast (and that’s all that we could have asked for in this remake, is it not?).

Get your VIP ticket for the hottest event of the year when “House Party”, the remix to the fan-favorite ‘90s classic, arrives for purchase Digitally on January 31. The film is directed by Calmatic in his feature film directorial debut and is written by Jamal Olori and Stephen Glover. The film will also be available to purchase on Blu-ray and DVD beginning on February 14th, 2023.

1. On January 31st, 2023, “House Party” will be available for early Premium Digital Ownership at home for $24.99 and for 48-hour rental via PVOD for $19.99 SRP on participating digital platforms where you purchase movies, including Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu.

2. On February 14th, 2023, “House Party” will be available to purchase on Blu-ray and DVD online and in-store at major retailers. “House Party” will also continue to be available to own in high definition and standard definition from participating digital retailers.

“House Party” | Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish [Combo Pack]
(Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / PG / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Everyone’s favorite leche-loving, swashbuckling, fear-defying feline, Puss in Boots, returns in a new adventure from the Shrek universe as the daring outlaw discovers that his passion for peril and disregard for safety have taken their toll.

Puss has burned through eight of his nine lives, though he lost count along the way. Getting those lives back will send Puss in Boots into the Black Forest to find the mythical Wishing Star on his grandest quest yet.

With only one life left, Puss will have to humble himself and ask for help from his former partner and nemesis: Kitty Softpaws. They are joined in their journey by a chatty and cheerful mutt named Perro.

Together, our trio of heroes will need to stay one step ahead of the fair tale realm’s craftiest crooks including Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Blu-ray Verdict: I really love Puss’ characterization and development in this movie. He is a fearless and brave individual and he found identity in that. But in most ways, he took it for granted. He lived a life where his 9 lives were disposable, where there was no true value in them, until his final one.

So, when the doctor confronted him on the reality of the situation, he hated it. Mocked it even. He’s the fearless Puss in boots after all. What would his life be if he wasn’t living in danger? But only when confronted by a bounty hunter coming after his life, and being completely overwhelmed in battle, where he truly realizes the reality and value of his 1 singular life.

And this part of the movie gave me literal chills. The animation and visual team did an amazing job showing Puss’ despair, with his hair standing up as it slowly reaches to his face, and how he was willing to go through a toilet to save himself. The lengths he was willing to take to live is so reflective of what humans would do to live, sometimes even doing morally evil things too.

He wasn’t fearless, he was full of fear. He wasn’t Puss in Boots, he was just a scared cat.

Puss has a traumatic experience from that throughout the entire movie, with the wolf’s signature whistle being a huge trigger for him, and it’s such a menacing way of introducing him into the scene too.

Speaking of the wolf, he’s such a menacing and terrifying antagonist. His presence and character design are great, but what makes him so scary is his visual portrayal mixed with the voice acting. The movie wasn’t afraid to not cater to kids and to not be limited by that.

Which is a problem I have with some films, where mature themes aren’t done to the fullest potential due to limitations. Thus, here, the way he effortlessly dodges Puss’ attacks and instills fear into him is so memorable and impactful.

Puss being haunted by the fear of death is something we need to take into consideration too in our lives. People love to live in the present, but also don’t see the biggest problem of death right in front of us. We rather not think about it because it’s such a scary reality.

So, when life hits us, we’re like Puss facing the reality of death for the first time. We’re vulnerable and afraid. And not everyone tells people about how they’re feeling. Some people keep it to themselves, which is what Puss did throughout the movie till he shows vulnerability and expresses his fears to Perro the dog.

But, as we all well know, even the most powerful of people will still succumb to the fear of death when reality hits them.

But I digress. Goldilocks and the 3 bears were also amazing characters, where she was seeking for the wishing star because she doesn’t have an ordinary family. By just right, she wanted and craved for a human family. She used her foster family as steppingstones to reach her goal of replacing them, which is so tragic because she faces an issue of envy. When a person is clouded with envy, they aren’t grateful for what they have, and would do what they can to obtain what they don’t have.

I also love the build up to the eventual reveal of her wish. Her appreciating the simpler times with the bears in their house was so heart-warming. It’s the small things that often go unappreciated, like how she would hold this fairy tale book as a child wherever she would go, sleeping on comfy bed, drinking soup with her foster family, and so on.

Sometimes, you just have to stop and take a look around you. You have a house to live that house’s memories. You have food and water. You have transport to go to different places. You have photos with your families and friends that you can reminisce. You can even go beyond that and just admire the complexities of the world. How trees give you shade when it’s a sunny day, or how the sky has a pleasing and calming color, and even animals and how unique they all are.

There are a lot more aspects that I really love about this movie, but as I seem to be wandering a wee bit, I’ll stop right here. I definitely recommend watching it. Not only is it narrative-nuanced, but the pacing of the movie is also good. Cinematography and choreography of the fights are so well done, the soundtrack a bountiful coupling too, and so this movie is actually recommended to kids (young and old of heart) of all ages.

• ALL-NEW EXCLUSIVE SHORT “THE TRIDENT” - When you’re the legendary Puss in Boots, life and death go paw in paw. In this epic original short, Puss recalls one of his most daring deaths yet.
• A CAST OF CHARACTERS - You know their voices, now see the faces behind all the beloved PUSS IN BOOTS characters.
• IN THE BEGINNING - Go behind the scenes with the filmmakers of PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH to discover how they brought this great tale to life.
• JACK HORNER’S LINE-O-RAMA - Jack Horner says it all in this comedic line-o-rama.
• FEARLESS HERO - LYRIC VIDEO - Sing along from home!
• HOW TO DRAW THE PURRFECT PAWTRAIT - Join Director Joel Crawford and Co-Director Januel Mercado as they teach us how to draw our favorite characters.
• HOW TO MAKE A PAPER PERRITO - Every hero needs a sidekick and this How To will help you create your very own.
• KITTY CAM - Sit back, relax and enjoy a festive cluster of kittens as they frolic and play. This cat-stravaganza is sure to entertain for hours.
• FEATURE COMMENTARY - with Director Joel Crawford, Co-Director Januel Mercado, Producer Mark Swift, Editor James Ryan and Head of Story Heidi Jo Gilbert

After a decade-long wait, DreamWorks Animation presents an all-new adventure in the Shrek universe with PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH Collector’s Edition available on Digital February 21st, 2023 and on 4K UHD, Blu-rayTM and DVD February 28th, 2023 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Nominated for Best Animated Film by both the Academy Awards® and the BAFTA Film Awards, Puss in Boots’ latest adventure now includes over an hour of bonus content featuring an all-new exclusive animated short “The Trident”, deleted scenes, a lyric video, and a cast of characters.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” | Trailer | Studio Distribution Services

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” | Official Website | Studio Distribution Services

Heart of Dragon (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
(Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Emily Chu, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1985) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Lifelong friends since they met as boys at Peking Opera school, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung conquered the Hong Kong film industry side-by-side in the 1970s and 1980s. One of their greatest collaborations sees the two brothers playing actual brothers for a change: 1985’s Heart of Dragon, a film that combines heart-rending drama with pulse-pounding action!

Tat (Chan) is a hotshot cop with more stresses than he can bear: if he’s not on the verge of getting beaten up on his day job, he’s looking out for his mentally handicapped brother Dodo (Hung), who needs constant supervision in case his naive, kind nature gets taken advantage of.

Tat wants nothing more than to escape his obligations and see the world; but when Dodo accidentally winds up in the line of fire, Tat must run into danger and make the ultimate sacrifice to save his brother.

Blu-ray Verdict: If there is credit due, and there is, I think it should really to large part go to Sammo Hung for directing and doing a first-rate performance as Jackie’s well-intentioned, but mentally deficient brother.

Sure, Jackie does a reasonably good job as his older brother who gives up his dreams to care for his brother, but can’t help but communicate his unhappiness to his brother, who only ends up in more trouble as a result.

More serious and emotionally driven than many of their prior films, Hung and Chan made sure not to skimp on jaw-dropping stunts and high-velocity violence while showing a broader depth to their talents than audiences had seen before.

The result is one of the jewels of 80’s Hong Kong action cinema, now restored with additional fight scenes filmed especially for the Japanese market!

For those who adore the fights scenes - and I fit that characterization - like as not you will be slightly disappointed, though there is an excellent sequence near the end. As an emotional movie, it is somewhat depressing, not the sort of feel-good movie like many of us action lovers are used to.

Sadly, the skillful Sammo Hung also does not get a real opportunity to show us his fighting capabilities. Ditto for Biao Yuen (another schoolmate) who can be a glory to watch, but who only gets a few bits and pieces in this one.

That all said, Heart of Dragon, in which the film’s tear-jerking moments are more likely to cause sporadic and hysterical fits of laughter, simply because these scenes are so over-blown with hammy acting you just cannot stop the giggles, is a movie from this genre to most definitely catch.

2K restoration from the original negative by Fortune Star
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of the 91-minute Hong Kong Theatrical Cut and the 99-minute Extended Japanese Cut via seamless branching
Original lossless Cantonese and English mono audio on both cuts, plus Mandarin on the Theatrical Cut and Cantonese with alternate score on the Extended Cut
Optional English subtitles for both cuts
Brand new commentary by Frank Djeng & FJ DeSanto on the Extended Cut
The Making of The First Mission and The First Mission: Pre-Release Event, two extended featurettes made to promote the Japanese release by Shochiku
Archive interview with star Jackie Chan
Archive interview with star Rocky Lai
Two archive interviews with director/star Sammo Hung
Archive interview with cinematographer Arthur Wong
Alternate English credits as The First Mission
Trailer gallery, including the music video trailer by Su Rui
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Gilbey
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Dylan Cheung and David West

The Assassination Bureau: Special Edition[Blu-ray]
(Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1969) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Anarchy reigns as Diana Rigg and Oliver Reed go head to head in a blackly comic caper that plays out against the colorful backdrop of Europe on the cusp of World War One.

London, 1908. When feisty journalist and women’s rights campaigner Sonia Winter (Diana Rigg) uncovers the headquarters of the Assassination Bureau Limited, a clandestine enterprise that has existed for decades by bumping off the rich and powerful – but only if there’s a good moral reason for it – she sets on a path of putting an end to its activities.

Bankrolled by her press baron boss, Lord Bostwick (Telly Savalas), she commissions the organization to undertake the assassination of its very own chairman, Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed). Being the gentleman that he is, Dragomiloff responds to the assignment with glee, challenging his fellow board members to complete the contract.

Only they’ll have to catch him first!

Blu-ray Verdict: Oliver Reed stars as the unlikely-monikered Ivan Dragomiloff, the head of an international (though wholly European) bureau of assassins (hence the title) who will kill anyone for the right price. When investigative journalist Sonya Winter (Diana Rigg) shows up at his doorstep asking him agency to accept a contract to kill him, the game, as they say, is afoot.

Now, in all truth, the movie doesn’t take itself seriously and you shouldn’t either. The arch dialogue - sounding like something from an off-off-off-Broadway play - is preposterous but fun, and Reed and Rigg twist their tongues around such ludicrous tongue twisters that by fifteen minutes into the film you’re primarily laughing at the movie, albeit, and perhaps, not always with it.

But it’s also fun to watch two pros spar with one another with such purple prose, and everyone else in the film - even Savalas (TV’s Kojak) - is along for the ride, playing racial stereotypes and accents to the hilt (the film is, after all, nearly 55 years old). Adding to the laughs are overdone costumes; set in the years just prior to WWI, Rigg spends most of the movie in Gibson Girl get-up, while Reed moves from one overdone suit to the next.

The plot is actually a pretty good idea and I could see a remake of this film being done (hopefully with a more contemporary setting), though that would lose you the most rib-tickling part of all, a long fight scene atop a creaky zeppelin between Reed and Savalas and his cronies.

Reed here is sharp and funny - I hadn’t realized he had a gift for comedy like this - and he’s also remarkably handsome and lean (my strongest memories of him are playing Bill Sykes in Oliver and Athos in the good Musketeer movies, both shabby characters).

Reed, in fact, comes off as Johnny Depp’s cinematic predecessor, giving a crisp, precise but offbeat performance. Rigg is howlingly miscast as the young Miss Winter (she was 31 when she made the film), a tee-totaller straight-lace who, predictably, eventually comes around; but her wonderfully expressive face is put to good use here, and hey, Diana Rigg in a gunny sack is still a sexy Diana Rigg!

I won’t say much about Savalas - cast as a sort of English William Randolph Hearst - because I find he played one character no matter who it was, and you either like his uni-role acting style or you don’t. It was, however, nice to see Clive Revill hamming it up as an Italian count, and a host of B-actors from the Avengers (most notably Warren Mitchell, who at 80, was still working and in mighty fine form); all of them manage to understand perfectly the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film and seem perfectly at home.

In closing, this movie will probably play as overly silly to most modern audiences, though it is lighthearted fun, but any fans of Rigg or Reed or even slightly campy comedies should most definitely give this one a long, hard look.

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original lossless English mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand new audio commentary with authors Sean Hogan and Kim Newman
Right Film, Wrong Time, a 30-minute appreciation by critic, broadcaster and cultural historian Matthew Sweet
Original trailer
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork choices

Lovers Lane (Special Edition )
(Erin J. Dean, Diedre Kilgore, Carter Roy, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1999) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: A steamy secret tryst that was brutally cut short on Valentine’s Day an unlucky thirteen years ago comes back to haunt the teens who linger around the lovers lane where the double slaying took place.

The County Sheriff Tom Anderson (Matt Riedy) has just about come to terms with the fact that it was his wife who died in another man’s car on that fateful night. His daughter Mandy (Erin J. Dean), who as a four-year-old saw her mother’s corpse carried away from the scene, has a different take on things.

It doesn’t help that her classmate Michael (Riley Smith) lost his father to the same hook-handed homicidal maniac in that night’s incident. To cap it all off, as another Valentine’s Day comes round, reports come through that the man arrested as “The Hook” has just bust out of his asylum!

Blu-ray Verdict: Lovers Lane, from 1999 might well just be another so-called mindless slasher, created only to feed off the scraps of viewership left over from all the Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare movies, but for pure rollicking entertainment value, it is pure gold, trust me!

OK, sure, it certainly doesn’t score any points for originality, but it magnificently also goes against the clichéd 90s horror self-parody b/s that quickly grew tiresome after Scream and such.

What we get here is the story of a man who killed a couple making out on lovers lane 13 years earlier who returns to wreak more havoc. The plot is more complicated than the typical slasher fare, the acting top notch for a B-movie, and action wise, well, trust me when I say the film is never dull!

Character development is also present here, allowing the viewers to care about the victims, the character arcs solid, the dialogue as perfect as you would expect from a movie of this ilk, and with Erin J. Dean (playing Mandy Anderson) as the heroine, it’s all good, my friends.

Oh, and the film has more than its share of eye candy, here in the shape of a young Anna Faris (as Jannelle Bay) and Riley Smith (as Michael Lamson), the latter as hunkier than ever! And whilst there is not all that much gory blood to be seen, the plot does keep you watching, the ending clever, sure, but could have been tweaked a wee bit, in my humble opinion.

Brand new 2K restoration from a 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Two versions of the film: the widescreen 1.85:1 version and the full-frame 1.33:1 version
Original lossless stereo audio on both versions
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand new audio commentary with writer-producers Geof Miller and Rory Veal
Screaming Teens: The Legacy of Lovers Lane featurette with Geof Miller and Rory Veal and actors Matt Riedy and Carter Roy
Original trailers
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ilan Sheady

Phenomena (2-Disc Special Edition) [4K Ultra HD]
(Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasance, Daria Nicolodi, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1985) 2023 / Synapse Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: From Italian master of the macabre Dario Argento (Suspiria, Tenebrae), comes Phenomena - one of his most beautifully designed horror films - now remastered in 4K Ultra HD and Dolby Vision in a two-disc set! As the mystery unfolds, they find themselves in a bizarre murder plot with maggots, telepathic insects and a razor-wielding chimpanzee! Can Jennifer uncover the killer’s identity before becoming a victim herself?

Phenomena features a fantastic soundtrack from progressive-rock gods Goblin, British heavy metal masters Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Andi Sex Gang, Bill Wyman and Simon Boswell. Dalila Di Lazarro (Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein), Daria Nicolodi (Tenebrae), Patrick Bauchau (Clear and Present Danger) and Fiore Argento (Demons) also star in this truly unique, gory and unsettling thriller.

Blu-ray Verdict: First, before I say another word, there is one thing about this and other Dario Argento films that I can’t stress enough: ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES. Years ago, when PHENOMENA was first released, there was an Americanized version retitled CREEPERS. That is to say it was the raped, slashed and strangled version of what we now know as PHENOMENA.

I thought it was an amazing film even then, but it seemed incomplete to me somehow. I was ticked off and felt completely validated in my suspicions some years later, when I picked up a full-version bootleg of the REAL film at a convention. I was completely floored by the full-strength wallop packed by the uncut version, which was a wonderful surprise (but I think I would’ve enjoyed it more when I first saw it).

So should you ever have the opportunity to see the full version of any Argento film, (or other horror classics for that matter,) don’t hesitate and don’t compromise. The films’ creators would thank you if they could, but more importantly, YOU will thank you.

Now, where was I?

Oh, yeah, we were about to talk about this simply MAGNIFICENT, and fully-complete 4K UHD of Phenomena, where were are first introduced to Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly), an American transplant to a Swiss boarding school (for girls, of course).

She’s not finding it easy making friends or getting along, since her dad is a big-time TV and film star. More than a few of the other girls think she’s a stuck-up bitch because of this fact, but you have to wonder, and with a mysterious killer cutting into the student body one girl at a time, wouldn’t THAT be a little more important than ganging up on poor Jen?!

Well, what-eveeeer! It’s not like she’s completely without friends, anyway. She’s been having some strange sleepwalking incidents, but it’s more like dream-walking for her, because during the dreams she has the power to communicate with insects - moths, beetles, flies, well you name it, she’s a regular insectoid Dr. Dolittle.

But that’s not all, for thanks to this psychic link, she’s also a sleeping witness to the killer’s own nocturnal activities, and the closer she gets to him, the closer she is to discovering his identity, and then the closer HE gets to her ... well, you get the gist now of the plot.

Her powers also lead her in part to the house of Dr. John McGregor (Donald Pleasance) who is, coincidentally enough, a forensic entomologist. He helps her understand her unusual abilities and she in turn helps him help the police with the serial killer case.

Of course, neither they nor anyone they know can possibly prepare for the twists and turns events will take, as Jennifer unmasks the killer and he responds as most killers will by trying to take out as many of the good guys as he can before he himself gets taken down. And in this terrifically twisted tale, I mean that LITERALLY.

Like most of his other films, Argento sets the tone, the pace and the rules of the game right from the get-go. PHENOMENA is unique in many ways, natch, but how many films feature a trained helper monkey assisting a crippled lead character, like the one who aids Dr. McGregor and keeps him company (well, yeah, there is MONKEY SHINES and LINK, but those came much later). Not to mention that the precocious primate plays an important and jaw- dropping role in the grisly climax!

So basically, if you aren’t willing to suspend your disbelief before you even hit play, you might want to consider buying and watching something else. Part crime-drama, part supernatural fairy tale (and, come on now, even complete with its own wicked witch, splendidly played by Daria Nicolodi (the former Mrs. Argento), and a horrific version of Rumpelstiltskin you are guaranteed NEVER to forget), PHENOMENA is classic Argento, not to be missed. And consider this early performance of the now award-nominated Ms. Connelly a bonus!

4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentations in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
New 4K restorations of all three versions of Phenomena, including the original Italian version (116 mins.), the International cut (110 mins.), and the U.S. Creepers cut (83 mins.)
Lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo soundtracks on the international version, derived from the original 4-channel Dolby Stereo elements
Rare alternate DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix on the international version, featuring different sound effects and music cues
Lossless Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo soundtracks, derived from the original 4-channel Dolby Stereo elements
Lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono and 2.0 stereo music version soundtrack on Creepers, mastered from the original 3 track DME magnetic mix
Lossless hybrid English/Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the hybrid soundtrack
U.S. theatrical trailer and radio spots for Creepers
Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
Audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of Murder by Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento (on Italian Version)
Audio commentary on the international version by Argento scholar and author Derek Botelho and film historian, journalist and radio/television commentator David Del Valle
Of Flies and Maggots, a feature-length 2017 documentary produced by Arrow Films, including interviews with co-writer/producer/director Dario Argento, actors Fiore Argento, Davide Marotta, Daria Nicolodi and others.
The Three Sarcophagi, a visual essay by Arrow Films producer Michael Mackenzie comparing the different cuts of Phenomena
Jennifer’s music video, directed by Dario Argento
Slipcover/o-card with beautiful artwork from artist Nick Charge
Reversible cover with original Italian PHENOMENA art

The Grand Tour [Blu-ray]
(Jeff Daniels, Ariana Richards, Nicholas Guest, David Wells, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1991) 2023 / Unearthed Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: A widowed innkeeper battles a band of disaster-groupies from the future with explosive results. Ben Wilson (Jeff Daniels) and his daughter (Ariana Richards) buy an old Victorian mansion and begin renovations with plans to open up an inn. Their first guests are a strange and mysterious covey of tourists led by the eccentric Madame Lovine (Marilyn Lightstone).

In an emotionally charged and suspenseful race against time, Ben must battle the seductive time bandits as well as his own personal demons in an attempt to save his daughter and the town from total destruction.

In GRAND TOUR, David Twohy (Pitch Black. The Arrival) has created an action-adventure sci-fi thriller that examines a futuristic force of evil - with a climax that leaves the viewer in absolute awe.

Blu-ray Verdict: In, to give it its full US name, The Grand Tour: Disaster in Time, and which is based on the novella Vintage Season by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, which originally appeared in the September 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction (although it was credited to Lawrence O’Donnell, a pseudonym used a few times by Kuttner and Moore), and Timescape (as it was called in the UK), was one of the late night films I personally always loved to catch, lying on the sofa before bed.especially those with a hankering for/in time travel!

As we learn within The Grand Tour, it talks about how anyone traveling from the future cannot come back and change the past, as this would change the future itself. Something we now all know and take fro granted, sure, but this was back in 1991.

The movie is a little slow in the beginning, and could have been much better technically, in my humble opinion, but it is not bad for what it was set out to be, that’s for sure.

Furthermore, it answers many questions and also questions many of the theories that currently exist in the scientific world! It has characters that you can care about, because they’re written well in the story. Ariana Richards is just right in this pre-JURASSIC PARK role, for example. Plus we get nice performances from character actors like George Murdock.

There are some fairly decent twists to the story, because, well, there is actually a story playing out! Which means the actors get some decent lines and don’t spend their time screaming or saying things like Gotta kill a few people, or something just as insightful.!

In closing, the special effects shots are kept to a minimum, most likely due to budget, so they matter less here, and we get nearly all of the camera time on the characters. And that makes the film work on the most highest of levels for me.

Texas Chainsaw Mascara [Blu-ray]
(Heather Beck, Dani Bliss, Colvin Burnett, et al. / R / 2023 / Grimoire - MVD Visual)

Overview: A group of New Yorker’s take a road trip to Texas, intent on seeing the locations of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They never make it. Their car breaks down and they trust a local woman to lead them toward help. Their northern attitudes anger the wrong people, and a series of gruesome events follow!

Blu-ray Verdict: If you are a fan of director Bill Zebub, or even just an innocent bystander to some of his previous movies, you will instantly know what you are in for here in the non-parody film Texas Chainsaw Mascara.

Having already given us weird ass titles such as Kill The Scream Queen, The Worst Horror Movie Ever Made, Jesus, the Total Douchebag, Dickless Zombies, and Night of the Pumpkin, now comes his non-parody of the infamous Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.

I keep saying non-parody as it clearly states just the same on the actual front cover art of the movie, so, well, there you have it. Those are just the facts, mam!

So yeah, getting back on track, a group of New Yorker’s take a road trip to Texas, intent on seeing the locations of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Something that I am sure has been done thousands of time, in real life, over the years, but none more so fully-enveloped than these guys, I’d like to bet!

Anyway, they never make it there safe and sound, but oh-boy, as luck wouldn’t have it, their car breaks down, but they willingly trust a local woman to lead them toward some kindly appreciated help.

Buuuuuuuuuut, this bunch of Yankees soon piss off the wrong people and a battle between the north and the south comes to a bloody head, and is one where, as we watch along, it’s hard to believe anyone will survive!

As for a genuine Leatherface, no, we don’t get one of those, but what we do get is a gentleman with a pig head (mask, possibly not) on who seems as likely as anyone to not only commit some heinous and bloody acts, but walk away clean (so to speak) thereafter!

Texas Chainsaw Mascara - Official Trailer

The Retaliators [Blu-ray]
(Marc Menchaca, Joseph Gatt, Robert Knepper, Michael Lombardi, Tommy Lee, et al. / R / (2021) 2023 / Quiver Distribution)

Overview: An upstanding pastor uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers surrounding his daughter’s brutal murder.

Marc Menchaca (Ozark), Michael Lombardi (Rescue Me), and Joseph Gatt (Game of Thrones) star alongside Five Finger Death Punch, Tommy Lee, Papa Roach, The Hu, Ice Nine Kills and Escape The Fate.

Also stars Jacoby Shaddix, Ivan Moody and Katie Kelly with a Score by Stranger Things composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein!

Blu-ray Verdict: Well, usually the trailer gives it all away, and then reveals itself not to be something I want to invest time in, but this trailer for The Retaliators was just phenomenally outstanding, gritty, dark and drew me in for more!

As I watched along, kinda-sorta knowing what to expect (from the trailer), I also discovered that it hadn’t given everything away, as pockets of layered scripted acting and overall tone started to seep into my viewing experience.

Thus, we quickly identify with the two main characters, moreover we understand their collective motivation, their responsive actions (both before, during and after), and we are wholly believing that what happens, what plays out on screen is not just understandable, and justified!

As for our central lead retaliator, the father of one of the girls, well, come on now, who here (as a parent) wouldn’t understand the rage that swells up inside of him, their daughter’s life so senselessly, so horrifically taken?

And yes, sure, given the scenes that play out, one could make a case that this film has elements of gratuitous torture porn but that is truly only a side step in this movie and not the whole, you have my word.

But for all you horror/thriller/sicko fans out there wanting to know, yes, of course, your un-satiated thirst for for buckets of blood will not go un-quenched, as there is a shit ton of it to be spread around (all pun intended!)

In closing, The Retaliators is one of those movies that won several awards from multiple prestigious film festivals, and rightfully so, whilst also featuring loud and heavy music - and acting from the likes of members of bands including Tommy Lee, From Ashes to New, The Hu, Ice Nine Kills, Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, Escape the Fate, Bad Wolves, and Eva Under Fire.

Special Features: Cast Interviews, The Retaliators Music Videos, and a Theatrical Trailer.

The Retaliators - Official Trailer