Monday, November 28, 2011

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) / Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) / Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) / Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

Movie: 3/5
Video: 2.5/5
Audio: 2.5/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 2/5

One, Two, Skip a Few; Screw the Seventh Film in the Series!

I've never really subjected myself to the straight to video Hellraiser films because it seemed like there was always a new one coming out in the early 2000's. Sure, Bloodline was a theatrical film and the final nail in the theatrical coffin for Pinhead and the Cenobites. Upon seeing this release by Echo Bridge hitting the stores, I searched out and found this release for $10 and figured; "Eh, why not?"

This Blu-ray release contains the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth film in the Hellraiser series. One question that has been on my mind is why they didn't either include the third or seventh film in the Hellraiser series since Echo Bridge has the rights to these films from the Filmyard/Miramax library. Again, another thing that puzzles me is that why didn't Lionsgate take interest in getting the rights to Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth? Surely, if Echo Bridge was going to put together an four-in-one Blu-ray, surely they would take full advantage and the interest of Pinhead fans and putting Hell On Earth on the disc to make this disc really worth the $10. And it also makes no sense that they skipped the seventh film, Hellraiser: Deader, for the eighth entry; Hellraiser: Hellworld.

Hellraiser: Bloodline is an origin story dealing with the creation of Lament Configuration and the span of three generations of the family who created the puzzle. The first generation spans around the time frame of 1600 to 1800's. And we essentially see who Pinhead was and another one of his Cenobites origins. The second generation spans in modern time with descent of the Lament Configuration's creator. We see some neat Cenobites come into play which will finally be in the final act which is the future and Pinhead in space.

Ultimately, the film is probably my least favorite in this collection. Always putting a super-natural/villain into space has always been a downfall; like "Jason X". With the same actor portraying his generations takes it a bit on the cheesy side of the film. If we were going to have an actor to do this portrayal, they should have gotten a much better actor for the role. Film scores a 2.5/5.

Bloodline is presented in an okay 1080p transfer. I want to say that this probably another compressed down transfer that's different from the Single and Double feature release containing this film. There's print damage that pops up here and there and the video feels pretty weak. Considering that this film was shot on film, we couldn't possibly get a remaster with this? Video scores a 2.5/5. The audio presentation on this disc is most likely the same on others since they didn't change the audio on From Dusk Till Dawn's different releases. The audio is fair and I feel it deserves a 3/5.

Hellraiser: Inferno. To sum this film, if this weren't a Hellraiser film, it would be a lot better. I'm sure most fans of Pinhead know that the lead Cenobite is barely in this film. A child has gone missing and a crooked detective puts himself on the case only to get more than he bargained for as a person known as "The Engineer" is the one who has taken the child.

I give this film a 3/5 and if this wasn't a Hellraiser film, I'd give it a higher recommendation. In a Hellraiser film, we want Pinhead, Pinhead, and more Pinhead. With Pinhead barely in the film, it feels like you're being ripped off.

Presented in a rough and inconsistent 1080i transfer and again, probably an HDTV master for the film, which is what all these Echo Bridge releases seem like. Upon comparing screenshots of the Multi-Feature and the Double Feature, this version is a compressed down version of that transfer. Due to the compression, I have to give this a dismal 1.5/5. And again, I am sure the audio presentation is the same from the Double Feature. I give the audio a 2.5/5.

Hellraiser: Hellseeker. The sixth entry of the series stars Ashley Laurence from the original Hellraiser trilogy. In this entry, her husband (Dean Winters, of the "All State" Commercials) is believes that his wife didn't drown in the car crash they were in. When he discovers the Lament Configuration, his world turns upside down as he reaches his way closer to the truth.

I feel this one deserves a 3/5. At times it feels slow, but at the same time, I also feel that this is a somewhat recycled version of Hellraiser: Inferno. It seems to have that same theme going for it with trying to uncover the truth. But Pinhead is in it a lot more than he was in the fifth entry, but at the same time, I wish he was in it more than he was.

Presented in it's OAR of 1.85:1, Hellraiser: Hellseeker debuts with a somewhat all right transfer. It doesn't seem as bad as Inferno, but I think it's probably a tad better than the Hellworld transfer. I feel that Hellseeker deserves a 3/5. Audio again, decent, 2.5/5.

Hellraiser: Hellworld, the final chapter until Harvey Weinstein produced the newest latest Hellraiser that was is Doug Bradley-less. Bradley's final outing as Pinhead is somewhat a satisfying farewell to the actor's departing of the series. In this entry, Hellraiser goes online with a World of Warcraft-esque game where gamers take their love a little far when a player is found dead. Upon going to the funeral, the player's friends are invited to a "Hellworld Party" where players can meet and have their own "Pleasures". One by one, each of them meet their end by Pinhead and his Cenobites.

Sure, what I just wrote above sounds interesting, but once we hit the twist at the end; the film crashes and burns. I came real close to just shutting the film off and just writing it off and leaving the last fifteen minutes alone. However, those final moments, did bring it back up for me and I was pleasantly surprised how they could rebound from that horrible plot twist. Movie scores a 3/5.

This 1080p transfer is inconsistent like the Hellraiser: Inferno transfer and I am sure this is more or less something that the DP had in mind with shooting the film. Shots switch back and forth from bright to freakin' dark. And this is a strong contrast between the shots. Also, the soft bright shots also become to overwhelming. Video scores a 2/5. And again, the audio is average, 2.5/5.

Movies: 2.5 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 2.875 = 3/5.
Video: 2.5 + 1.5 + 3 + 2 = 2.25 = 2.5/5.
Audio: 3 + 2.5 + 2.5 + 2.5 = 2.625 = 2.5/5
Extra: 0/5
Overall: 3 + 2.5 + 2.5 = 8/4 = 2/5

With this release scoring a 2/5, for the price, I can recommend it. The debut of Hellseeker is pretty good; in comparison to the release of Full Tilt Boogie in that Multi-Feature. For $10, pick it up. It probably won't be worth it to track down the other releases with these titles in it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) / From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) / From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (2000) / Full Tilt Boogie (1997)

Movie: 4/5
Video: 2.5/5
Audio: 3.5/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 2.5/5

From Dusk Till Dawn - Round 3.

Upon scanning the files on my laptop, the encodes on From Dusk Till Dawn 1 & 2 are the same encodes as the double feature release. I will be skipping straight to The Hangman's Daughter and Full Tilt Boogie. Scores are still of all four films together. To see my opinions on the double feature, please read my review over there.

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter; the third and supposed last entry in the series until these past few months when Harvey Weinstein stated that he wanted to work with Miramax's new owners and make sequels to past projects he's produced at Miramax when it was once owned by Disney. I think this is an open and closed book with these three films and the documentary. As a step up from the second film, I still felt somewhat disappointed by the film.

The film is based around the character Esmeralda who is played by Ara Celi in this film since it's obvious that they couldn't get Selma Hayek back for the role. We learn that she was once a girl who was "The Hangman's Daughter". This is a very basic cash in sequel to milk the series dry. Sure, we got Michael Parks and Danny Trejo back, but the material feels very recycled. The acting is average to poor in a lot of scenes; the actor who plays Johnny Madrid could have done better. Orlando Jones' performance was campy and he's one of my favorite comedic actors, so it's always great to see him whenever he does a movie. Movie barely scores a 3 out of 5 in my book.

One big problem with this encode is that Echo Bridge cut the film off during the end credits which effectively removes a scene past the credits with Michael Parks sitting in a bar. It's such a shame that they would mess that up. I feel that this also effects my opinion towards this disc. The movie is presented in 1080p and it's OAR, but it's still a mess. A proper restoration should have been done on the film as some shots have a complete difference in color tone. A lot of the film has a brownish tone to the film, but even some shots of the sky in the opening minutes of the film has this purplish hue in the blue which shows that this film's master print has not been handled properly.

Another big problem I have with this film's presentation is the computerized effects in which they were rendered and it hurts the visual presentation for the film. In a shot on the professional review for the individual release, there's a shot of Temuera Morrison fighting a snake and the picture has the lowest resolution I believe I have ever seen; even possibly lower than VCD resolution. Maybe it's because this was a straight to video flick and they possibly never thought about high definition at the time this film was released in the year 2000. These low resolution shots mainly happen towards the end half hour of the film. With these problems aside, the transfer feels soft and just a real average transfer; but with these problems factored in, video scores a 2/5.

The audio presentation on the disc is DTS-HD MA 5.1, even though it seems like Echo Bridge is stepping it up with audio the audio on their releases, this track could have been better. The first film's audio presentation was pretty decent whereas with this, we have the audio from a straight to video flick where I don't think the care was really given to it in the first place. Audio scores an average 2.5/5.

And for the final film in this set, we have "Full Tilt Boogie". A documentary catching behind the scenes of Robert Rodriguez's film, "From Dusk Till Dawn". And that's the gist of it. We see that they had problems during production of the film and that we see how some of the people work behind the cameras. The documentary is pretty solid in my opinion, but there's some sluggishness to it in a spot or two, mainly when we have some women talking about on set crushes and stuff like that. I could care less about it. Movie scores a 4.5/5.

The video presentation is surprising to say the least. It looks as if this was remastered in the process over the years as we have a very nice image from the 16mm and VHS sourced material. Obviously the film footage of "From Dusk Till Dawn" is the newly remastered footage thrown in. One thing that I question is the OAR. I think it would be safe to assume that this was presented open matted on VHS and DVD throughout the years by Disney as this new HD master gives a cropped 16:9 version of the shot footage. Usually when the OAR is really effected, I would really lower my score; but I think this is the best the documentary has ever looked, 3.5/5.

The audio presentation is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. Considering this a documentary, I think the audio works well for this. I really don't have any real complaints towards it. I know I might be giving it an advantage by giving it 5/5.

Let's total up:
Movies: 5 + 2.5 + 3 + 4.5 = 15/4 = 3.75 = 4/5
Video: 2.5 + 1.5 + 2 + 3.5 = 9.5/4 = 2.375 = 2.5/5
Audio: 3.5 + 2.5 + 2.5 + 5 = 13.5/4 = 3.375 = 3.5/5
Extas: 0x4 = 0/5
Over all: 4 + 2.5 + 3.5 = 10/4 = 2.5/5

This disc is average with it's 2.5/5 rating. Considering that you can pick this up currently at $8 to $10, I can say that I can recommend it to you even though "From Dusk Till Dawn" is the same compressed encode from the double feature. Also, this is the only Blu-ray release Echo Bridge has given us for "Full Tilt Boogie". A 2.5/5 doesn't seem that bad really. Maybe the score could have been higher if it would have been just the first film and the documentary.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dracula 2000 (2000) / Dracula II: Ascension (2003) / Dracula III: Legacy (2005) / They (2002)

Movie: 2.5/5
Video: 3/5
Audio: 2.5/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 2/5

If Interested in Dracula 2000, Seek Out the Canadian Release.

First Film: Dracula 2000, Wes Craven's produced Dracula flick taking place in London to New Orleans. Van Helsing is protecting Dracula's tomb in which gets stolen and soon the king of the undead will rise. Dracula is awaken and hungry and feeds off the grave robbers turning them into vampires. As Dracula makes his way to the U.S, he starts feeding off on beautiful women and searching for a woman who unknowingly is related to Dracula.

The movie scores a four out of five. I found the film to enjoyable considering how old the film is. The video presentation by Echo Bridge will come off as either average or poor to A/V enthusiasts. The film is in 1080i and is presented in 1.78:1 from it's 2.35:1 presentation. I was so disappointed to see the image fill the screen after the opening credits which were presented in 2.35:1. Video scores a 2.5/5. Audio is just average, audio scores a 2.5/5.

Second Film: Dracula II: Ascension, in a continuation of Dracula 2000, a charred corpse appears in a morgue which appears to be a vampire. At the same this discovery is made, a mean vampire slayin' priest shows up to try to bless the corpse. The med students who take the corpse bathe it in blood and Dracula is born again but not looking anything like Gerard Butler from the first film. They contain Dracula in a burned out factory where they try to uncover the secret of his eternal life.

Movie scores a three out of five. It's all right but it seems to pale in comparison of Dracula 2000. Jason Scott Lee is pretty awesome as the vampire slayin' priest. The video scores a 3/5 and Echo Bridge has provided us with a 1.78:1 1080p transfer of the film. I cannot comment if this is cropped or matted from the 2.35:1 transfer. It looks a lot better than the 1080i transfer of Dracula 2000. The audio is again average and it scores a 2.5/5.

Third Film: Dracula III: Legacy, the priest and lone med student are tracking down Dracula in the Eastern Europe. Dracula again changes his form and looks nothing like the vampire from the previous installment and is now portrayed by Rutger Hauer. Soon the priest and Dracula duke it out to save the fate of mankind.

The film scores a three out of five. I feel a little let down that we go from Dracula 2000 to Dracula II: Ascension and then finally to Dracula III: Legacy; I mean, what was one of the key points of Dracula 2000? That Dracula's blood line kept on and then after that, they just ignored it and focused on these med school kids. The video again was presented in 1.78:1 1080p by Echo Bridge. Not sure if it's cropped or open matted because the last time I saw this movie was when it came out in 2005 on DVD; video gets a 2.5/5. I have a problem with the audio presented on this disc; the dialogue sounds echo-y and the music is way too loud. Audio scores a 1/5.

Fourth Film: They. A college med student gets a message from a childhood friend who's been having trouble sleeping. It turns out that there's something evil and sinister hiding in the dark. These creatures are coming to take them to hell or whatever.

As you can tell by my last sentence, I couldn't care about this film at all. I found it to be downright horrible. The ending was one of the biggest pieces of BS I have ever seen. It was like; "Why don't they do that from the get-go?" Movie scores a .5/5. The video scores a 3.5/5 as Echo Bridge gives us a 2.35:1, OAR, 1080p transfer. The video has print damage that pops up here and there throughout the film; it's not that bad but it could have been a better transfer. The audio is just average again, like every other film on this disc.

Film: 4 + 3 + 3 + .5 = 10.5/4 = 2.625 = 2.5/5
Video: 2.5 + 3 + 2.5 + 3.5 = 11.5/4 = 2.875 = 3/5.
Audio: 2.5/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 2.5 + 3 + 2.5 = 8/4 = 2/5

Even though it gets a two out of five, I can recommend this if you need the Dracula sequels in HD. I cannot stress it enough that if you're just buying this for Dracula 2000, skip it and get the Canadian release by Alliance because it's presented in it's original 2.35:1 and has an amazing transfer. They, which sucked in my opinion, was the only film they presented in it's original aspect ratio. Don't pay more than $10 for this release.