Really? FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: ROUND 4!
This marks the fourth review that I have done on the Robert Rodriguez film From Dusk Till Dawn. I have reviewed this film in the individual release by Echo Bridge followed by the double feature which contained Texas Blood Money and then finally in the series release that had all four films crammed onto one disc. To get my views on the film, please visit my review of the double feature from 2011. How does the initial 2008 disc from Alliance (now Entertainment One) stack up in comparison?
I initially gave the video presentation on the Echo Bridge version 3.5/5. I am giving this version a 3.5/5 as well. The EB release was actually a remastered version produced sometime after or during this Canadian release. The visual presentation is opened up slightly from 1.85 to 1.78; but it's miniscule to worry about having an opened matted presentation since these two aspects are almost the same thing. The visual presentation on both releases of the film has been a debate for some time now; after watching both, I am leaning towards the Echo Bridge release.
I will be giving spoilers in these following descriptions of shots; when Jimmy is now a vampire, the blood on his white shirt in the Canadian release is almost orange. At the almost 1:23 into the film, Kate is thrown by Sex Machine; in this version, you can clearly make out the wires attached to Juliette Lewis. In the Echo Bridge version that's been remastered, wires were completely removed from the shot. Despite the somewhat orange skintones on people in the remaster, the color scheme seems more natural on blood and other things.
You might ponder why am I giving this the same score? The detail is still pretty strong in this transfer and that is a big pro for this. The biggest con on this transfer, and I assume this is why it was remastered, is that the print damage is all over the place. Another pro against the EB release is that the right side of the screen doesn't show any sort of distress which was noticeable after the gang leaves the stock room of junk for weapons. One other thing and this minor, the end credits look like it has finger prints visable throughout on the Canadian transfer. I give this transfer a 3.5/5 along with the remaster, it's all about that concept called the power of suggestion which I will leave for you to decide which version is best.
Alliance (Entertainment One) has given this initial transfer a pretty powerful English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track along with a Dolby Digital 5.1 and French DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DD 5.1 tracks. I think they might have gone overboard on the audio tracks if you ask. To compare audio on both releases, I would give it to this disc. The sound has a more raw and gritty feel to it, whereas the DTS-HD MA 5.1 on the Echo Bridge sounds more subdued. The French dub sounds average in my opinion. I award the audio on this disc 5/5.
Just like the Echo Bridge Blu-ray, this Canadian release has no extra features.
As far as I know, this disc is out of print now. After the Echo Bridge Blu-ray came out, Alliance put out a combo pack and a steelbook and from what I read, those two releases contained the remastered version that Echo Bridge used. One of the big cons on the Echo Bridge Blu-ray is that English subtitles are rarely applied to releases and this one falls in that category. If you're a person who relies on subtitles to help you enjoy the film, this Canadian release has English subtitles. I give Alliance (Entertainment One) initial release a 3.5/5.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
"Miramax ... Why?"
The Hole: 2/5
A group of kids decide to go into an abandoned bunker from World War II while they were supposed to go on a school field trip. Needless to say, something happened and everyone ends up dead. Except for one soul survivor, played by beautiful Thora Birch. While locked up in a hospital, a detective (Embeth Davidtz, Army of Darkness and Europa Report) is trying to help her to understand the situation in which the three others died.
I am going to go into spoiler territory because I need to. If you haven't seen The Hole, please skip this review or scroll down to Venom. I hate movies about characters who have this sort of mental disorder where it has to be about "ME". Take the film I reviewed not too long ago called Roman. Roman disgusted me to no end because I sat through that garbage. I felt that The Hole was going to be ok until we got to the twist and I was like; "NO!"
Thora Birch's character is revealed to be this stalker type character who is obsessing over Desmond Harrington's character in the film. She lies to cover her ass and whenever something doesn't go her way, she kills them. It's this annoying "ME" complex where it has to be about them and not take into consideration the other people involved. It's a wreckless behavoir of someone who is disturbed and mental. Even at the end of the film, she ruins the life of Embeth Davidtz's character and virtually walks away scott free.
I hated it; is the film well made? Sure. I thought the acting was pretty good from Kiera Knightley and Thora Birch. Didn't care that much for Desmond Harrington's acting. I also find it funny how it's marketed around Knightley on the box art, including a quote about her, when she's probably only in the movie for fifteen minutes tops. 2/5.
Everyone in town knows Ray Sawyer as the local and creepy tow truck driver in a small Louisiana town. While Eden (Agnes Bruckner) and Eric (Jonathan Jackson) are fighting one night, Ray drives by and has a head on collision with an elderly woman who practiced voodoo. While Ray proceeds to save the old woman, he opens the suitcase she had with her and is soon killed by the snakes living inside it. As soon as the police salvage Ray's corpse, it vanishes and soon a body count starts to rise quickly in the small Louisiana town.
This was a "so-so" slasher flick. The film was based on a video game that never got finished and released to the public. From what I could find on both the bonus material and searching on the net, Ray was originally going to be named Mr. Jangles after the keys that were on his belt loop. This film was also a casualty of Harvey Weinstein leaving Disney and was just dumped into a small run in theaters by Disney.
The acting was cheesy as hell and had a very stereotypical teenage slasher feel. It felt almost as if this was Scream with a supernatural entity instead of Ghost Face. Meagan Good was ok in the five minutes of screen time that she had. Agnes Bruckner was okay in the lead, but I couldn't really care that much. I give the film 2.5/5.
The Hole: 3.5/5
Presented in open matted in 1.78:1 instead of 2.35:1, Echo Bridge gives The Hole a decent HD presentation. I did notice a glitch in the video in the opening, Thora Birch's character is walking to a pay phone and the video distorts. Other than that, it's got a nice grainy transfer throughout. Would it have been better if it was presented in OAR? Sure. I give the transfer 3.5/5.
Echo Bridge has released Venom several times on Blu-ray and every time has released it in this open matted 1.78:1 from the 2.35:1 source. Grain is pretty strong throughout; there was a shot were the image looked real dull in this morgue sequence. I also noticed that the shading covering the camera is visible in a shot when Bijou Philips's character is going around Ray's Happy Time shop. I give the presentation 3.5/5.
Echo Bridge has given The Hole a very typical 2.0 DTS-HD MA English track and it sounds average. Venom on the other hand has a wide variety of audio tracks present; English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Why do we honestly need the English DTS-HD MA 2.0 when we have the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track? That seems like a waste of space if you ask me. I give the audio presentation on both films 4/5.
We have no bonus material for the film The Hole; but, we do have all the extras ported over from the Disney DVD of Venom. We have a Making Of, storyboard to film comparisons, and cast auditions. The making of was only a few minutes which was ok. Storyboard comparisons shows how close everything matched up in the few scenes that were selected. And the casting auditions were so-so, especially when all of the acting was bad. I give the bonus 2/5.
I picked this up and several others for $3.99 plus tax each during Best Buy's Echo Bridge sale. For that price, I can recommend this release. I doubt that we'll ever get these in their proper aspect ratio any time soon. Will these encodes most likely get re-used in another Blu-ray from Echo Bridge? I wouldn't be surprised, 3/5.
"Worth the $5. I guess..."
Two soldiers form a bond to take down the Qin empire in ancient China. Liu Bang (Leon Lai, Seven Swords) is asked by Xiang Yu (Feng Shaofeng) to take back his love Yuji (Liu Yufei, Forbidden Kingdom and The Assassins) to their home. Liu agrees but sees that he's being denied from raiding the Qin empire and taking the throne; this is something Liu's comrades cry foul over. Liu agrees with them and secretly go to raid the Qin empire so Liu can take the throne. Xiang Yu is angered and seeks advice from Fen Zhang (Anthony Wong, Hard Boiled and Black Mask) and learns that this will not end well.
I managed to pick up this UK Blu-ray of White Vengeance along with A Tale of Two Sisters and Evil Angel at Grooves Inc. It has an impressive cast with Anthony Wong, Liu Yufei, and Andy On appearing in it; ultimately, the film is too long. If Daniel Lee (director of Black Mask) could have shortened this by a half hour, I would probably liked it more. Also, I noticed Chinese copyright infringement with the opening studio logos; the first uses the audio from the Sony Home Entertainment credits and the second studio logo has an altered Godzilla roar. Not making it up. I give the movie 2.5/5.
G2 gives White Vengeance a beautiful 2.35:1 transfer. This transfer is top notch however, I did notice some sort of stutter in the image in some spots. I do not know if that was intentional or not. Cannot complain with how it looks over all. The contrast and color scheme of the overall image is stunning. I give the visual presentation a 4.5/5.
G2 has only given us one audio track for the film; Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1. Accompanying the audio is a nice variety of subtitles; English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The audio presentation is nice and loud. Audio is demo worthy during the fighting scenes. 5/5.
Before we get to the main menu, we have trailers for Detachment and Transit. Then when we get to the main menu, we only have a trailer for White Vengeance. Kind of a bummer that there's nothing else. 1/5.
For $5, it wasn't bad. I think if I had to choose, I'd re-watch Daniel Lee's Black Mask over White Vengeance. It is nice to see Anthony Wong popping up in both of Daniel's films. However, this film is far too long, as it clocks in at 132 minutes. This disc is Region B locked, you have been warned. 3.5/5.
"Standard Definition British Horror Invades France."
Small Town Folk: 3/5
A couple out on the English country side are lost and stop and ask a man and his companion (Warwick Davis, Leprechaun) for directions. They are told to stay away from a place called "Grockleton". The couple don't heed the warning and go to the quiet, empty residence. Once there, they discover that sinister beings run the place and slavery and murder are a way of life.
I'm guessing that the budget is close to nothing, or all of it went to Warwick Davis for his two minutes of screen time. The biggest problem which all will catch is that it will switch from filming on location to green screen. And the green screen work is pretty bad. The acting on the main couple was ok, I've seen better. I think Chris R. Wright as the main villain was probably the best out of all the actors. The story was not that bad either, but the green screen work will stand out. 3/5.
Max is a deaf man who lives in the forest in a post-apocalyptic 2015. Max struggles to survive on a day to day basis in the forest with zombie-like creatures called Biosyns. Jamaal is a hunter who is searching for Max and quickly finds him when Max is attacked by a Biosyn. Max and Jamaal form an alliance and try to make their way through the forest. The duo find two other survivors and soon they all realize that the Biosyns may not be the only killers in the forest.
I really enjoyed the film. The silence in the atmosphere as we follow Max is a very nice touch to the zombie genre. The color spectrum that the film has is also a very nice touch as well. Almost like how the film Hobo with a Shotgun played with different hues. The acting was very good too. I can recommend Vanguard as a must for zombie fans. 4.5/5.
Zombie Diaries: 3.5/5
The Zombie Diaries is an eighty minute horror films from the perspective of three different groups of people during various points of the zombie outbreak. In the first portion, we have a group of journalists who are going out to the English countryside to interview a farmer. While waiting on his property, the farmer is nowhere to be found and the first zombie is found inside his house. We cut to the second story which deals with a couple looking for supplies to survive. The third group is holed up in a house who try to survive day by day.
For a horror film that is not as long, it wasn't that bad. I think it would have worked better if it was eighty minutes of just one group instead of three and kept a decent span of time throughout. The acting was very good and believable. The visual effects were good on the zombies too. I give The Zombie Diaries 3.5/5.
Small Town Folk: .5/5
At the end of the film, the film states that it was filmed on Canon XL1S and Canon XL2 cameras. I worked with XL2 cameras in my film classes in Germany and they're all SD cameras. Obviously, it means that this film is upscaled. But, I think this was shot in 4:3 or 640x480 and then cropped from 4:3 to 16:9, which is 640x360. Despite the fact that this film will never look good, it's visual presentation is better than say The Zombie Chronicles. .5/5
I don't know if this was mastered in SD or if Emylia messed up on the transfer for this film. You can tell that portions of this film were shot on celluloid and then some was shot on digital. Whenever you do see scenes that were shot on film, you can see the print damage. However, there's scenes where you can see text on the screen and it's horrible looking! I give the visual presentation for Vanguard a 1.5/5.
Zombie Diaries: 1/5
Emylia has given Zombie Diaries a 1.78:1 presentation. In the making of documentary of the film, it shows the director with an old school 4:3 television behind him with the film playing. It seems as if this film was shot in 4:3 and cropped to 16:9 for the mastering process. The presentation looks better than Small Town Folk, but not as good as Vanguard. And there is a lot of post-production tinkering with the video to simulate damage to video source. 1/5.
Emylia has given all of the films a DTS-HD HR 5.1 track for the English audio and French dubbing in DTS-HD MA 5.1. I think all of the audio sounds good for these films. No real complaints all around. Too bad none of these films were shot in HD to match the nice audio. 5/5.
Small Town Folk and Vanguard do not contain any special features as they are on one disc. Disc two which contains The Zombie Diaries and has a collection of deleted scenes and an almost hour long documentary called When the Lights Go Out. The documentary had a decent amount of input from everyone who worked on it. Does it have much of a re-watch value to it after the first time? No. The deleted scenes do not have enjoyment to them either. You can see why they are cut. I give the bonus material 2.5/5.
I managed to trade a sealed Canadian Alliance Blu-ray of Dracula 2000 from a nice person off the Blu-ray website. Considering it was about $10, it's worth it. I don't believe Amazon France is selling this anymore and you'll have to pick up the individual Blu-rays. It's region free, however, 1080/50i will stop you from getting past the Emylia studio screen. 3/5.
"An Interesting Horror Flick."
While I was in the process of buying the UK Blu-ray of A Tale of Two Sisters from Grooves Inc, I stumbled across this German Blu-ray for a film called Evil Angel. I never heard of it and saw that it advertised Ving Rhames (Lilo & Stitch and Piranha 3DD) as the lead. I looked up the trailer for the film and was pretty surprised. For $10, why not?
The film deals with two storylines that collide; Ving Rhames plays agent Carruthers who is investigating murders at a crackhouse when his son is killed by a woman who is under demonic possession, Lillith. Marcus (Kristopher Shepard) is a paramedic going through a crisis as he discovers that his wife is having an affair. The death of a young girl draws Marcus into learning about religion and various other possessions as the bodies pile up. Carruthers soon realizes that Marcus is possibly next on Lillith's list and must try to save his life and soul.
I think Richard Dutcher made a great film and he's not only a good writer, director, but actor as well. Richard Dutcher plays Marcus's former partner and helps him out in the last half of the film. Now, does the film need to be over two hours? Possibly not. The pacing was decent, but, I did think some events should have happened sooner when it all hits the fan for Carruthers and Marcus. I can recommend it, 3.5/5.
Shot on film and presented in 2.35:1, WGF films gives Evil Angel a very sweet and devilish presentation. The grain levels are pretty strong throughout the film. I did spot a few specks of dirt here and there, but, you won't really see it if you're focused on the story. Contrast and colors are very stunning for an unknown film. I give the visual presentation 4/5.
WGF has given Evil Angel two different audio presentations; English and German DTS-HD MA 5.1. The English audio sounds great in motion whereas the German dubbing has been cranked up an extra notch with the dialog. Despite that small problem with the German dubbing, which most reading this will probably not watch it with that audio option, it's pretty solid. 5/5.
The ball was dropped on the extras portion of the disc. Regarding Evil Angel, there's a trailer and a slideshow gallery. We also have trailers for Terra Nova aka Island of the Damned; Alexander: Der Kreuzritter; Nobel Son; and The Burrowers. Quality on the trailers looks like they were ripped straight from Youtube. I question where the Terra Nova trailer came from as it's in English and Russian with English subtitles for the Russian dialog. 1.5/5.
This disc is region all, however, 1080/50i is problematic from the start. I loaded it up on my PS3 and nothing happened at all. This film hasn't been released yet in the U.S. and from what I've read on the internet, Richard Dutcher has been trying to get this film a theatrical release. It was supposedly going to be released on Halloween 2012, but, the date came and passed. It has managed to get Blu-ray releases in Australia, France, Germany, and Taiwan. If you're in the U.S. and you can play 1080/50i material, you can get this for a good $10. Go for it. 3.5/5.
Friday, September 6, 2013
"Shock and Awe."
Before I start my review on both films, I have seen some bad movies. Read my previous reviews for Other Side of the Game, A Walk in My Shoes, I Spit on Your Grave 2010, etc. I think this might take the cake in terms of horrendous movies that I have ever seen. There will be spoilers, but, I don't think that many people will be seeking this Blu-ray 3D out. You have been warned.
Evil Unleashed: The Mummy (2003): .5/5
In the days of ancient Egypt, Princess Nefertiesia wants to live forever and gives herself to a demon God. Thousands of years later, in Egypt, her remains were found and the poor souls who discovered it were killed by scorpions. The remains of Nefertiesia are somehow transported to America to some school for special needs college kids. At least, that's what I think because our protagonists in this film must of had some sort of mental problems with all the alcohol consumption and stupid answers that are given in their professor's classes. When the Mummy of Princess Nefertiesia is set loose; all kinds of wacky shenanigans and murder is beset on the four kids.
If you noticed that I took a serious approach to the first part of the last paragraph and just went from smart to stupid in one sentence, that's this film in a nut shell. This is one of the worst films that I have ever sat through. I prayed for the seventy-four minutes to come fast and thankfully, it did. However, the acting is atrocious! I couldn't feel any connection to this film and felt brain cells just firing off and dying in my brain. I couldn't recommend this to anyone, .5/5.
The Zombie Chronicles (2002): .5/5
Tara is a writer who is searching for a small town. Upon driving, she hits a man who talks like a loony drunk. She agrees to give the man a ride in return to going to this small town. The old man stops her at a busted and weathered barn to discuss the history of this supposed place. He proceeds to tell the story of a retired soldier and his girlfriend who are haunted by a zombie. Then, he finally tells the story of three college kids who awake a two-hundred year old zombie cowboy and his family. Tara goes off calling the old man crazy and he disappears, making Tara wonder what is really going on.
Just as atrocious as the first film on this disc. The seventy-one minutes went at an ok pace. Other than that, boo hoo. This was crap. I will honestly say that the visual effects used on the one college girl who had her face ripped off by a zombie was pretty good. .5/5
Before I start the video portion, I do not have a 3D TV, so these reviews are based off of the 2D versions that are presented on the disc. And besides, how good can these look in 3D anyway?
P.S: I don't know if they tried to shoot these with some sort of 3D equipment at the time, there's some strange things with these transfers.
Evil Unleashed: The Mummy (2003) - .5/5
Presented with an MPEG4 AVC transfer in 1.33:1. The video quality is horrendous! I cannot distinguish whether or not if this movie was shot on VHS or miniDV or something else or an overall combination of multiple formats. The quality is all over the place, even with some of the footage looking like blown up VCD footage. .5/5
The Zombie Chronicles (2002): .5/5
Could the transfer get worse than the previous film? Yes! It can and it does with The Zombie Chronicles. I am calling it that this was shot on VHS or that this master used was a VHS tape blown up to HD. One of the things that shows off the horrendous quality is that oddly the color yellow is completely shifted to the right of the screen. Not sure if was some sort of 3D conversion that went wrong or not. .5/5.
Both films on this disc are presented in English with a plain Dolby Digital 2.0 track. It's pretty rough by my standards and if you go through my reviews, I am pretty lean on audio. You'll hear glitching and clicks here and there. Other than that, sounds like audio from a VHS tape. You'd be surprised how the horrible audio compliments the horrible video. .5/5.
We have trailers for the other "Grindhouse" films which this is disc is marketed as. It's funny that the titles for several of these films has the same cheesy video generated titles that you would see on porn from the 80's and 90's. Other than that, nothing else. 1/5.
I managed to pick this up used for $6. I honestly cannot recommend this Blu-ray at all unless you like bad movies. I love a bad movie like the rest of us, but, I don't know anymore. I honestly don't. Is this the worst thing to grace Blu-ray 3D? Let's wait until I get Traumatic Possession 3D: The Tape comes out to judge. 1/5.