Monday, May 23, 2022

Murder in a Blue World: Limited Edition – Cauldron Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain/France, 1973
Director: Eloy de la Iglesia
Writers: Eloy de la Iglesia, José Luis Garci, Antonio Fos, Antonio Artero, George Lebourg
Cast: Sue Lyon, Christopher Mitchum, Jean Sorel, Ramón Pons, Fernando Hilbeck

Release Date: May 15th, 2022
Approximate running time: 97 Minutes 7 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Spanish
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.99

"In a violent, dystopian consumer-fed future, David (Chris Mitchum - Summertime Killer) blackmails nurse Ana (Sue Lyon - Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita) after witnessing her commit a murder. When Ana and Victor (Jean Sorel - Perversion Story) discover David is a known gang member with an extensive criminal past, they make a plan to turn the tables and use him for their own clandestine purposes." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "2K restoration of the Spanish Producer's cut from the negative."

Murder in a Blue World comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 35.8 GB

Feature: 28.5 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape. Colors look vivid, image clarity and black levels are solid, and grain remains intact.

Audio: 4.5/5 (LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Spanish)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Spanish. Both the audio mixes are in great shape; the dialog always comes through clearly, the ambient sounds are well-represented, and the score sounds appropriately robust. Included with this release are two subtitles: English subtitles for the Spanish language track and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include an image gallery (posters/home video art/stills/lobby cards), a video essay by film scholar Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes who discusses director Eloy de la Iglesia (15 minutes 23 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor/voice dubber Ben Tatar titled Dubbing in a Blue World (12 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a newly edited archival interview with Chris Mitchum titled International Man of Cinema (20 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with film historian Kat Ellinger, a UK VHS cut of Murder in a Blue World titled Clockwork Terror (96 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles, 1.66:1 aspect ratio, standard definition), reversible cover art, a side loaded slipcase (limited edition only), and a twenty-four page booklet (limited edition only) with cast & crew information, an essay titled Reinventing Lolita in a Blue World written by Kimberly Lindbergs, and production notes/special thanks.

Summary:

The thing that immediately grabs you while watching Murder in a Blue World is its obvious connection to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Both films take place in a dystopian future where violent gangs terrorize law-abiding citizens, and to combat the violence, the government has devised a strategy that is designed to cure violent individuals of their ability to commit violence. If this scenario sounds familiar, that is because it mirrors many elements from A Clockwork Orange’s story. That said, there is a subplot which revolves around a character named Ana Vernia, a nurse whose own story intersects with that of a member of a violent gang. This part of the story has no connection to A Clockwork Orange.

Another connection that Murder in a Blue World has to Stanley Kubrick is its lead actress, Sue Lyon, who appeared in his film Lolita in the role of the protagonist. Casting her in the role of Ana Vernia can be seen as a meta moment. This is just one of many meta references in Murder in a Blue World. Also, there is a sequence where her character is reading Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita as she’s disguised as an elderly woman. She does a superlative job portraying an angel of mercy-like character. Another area where this role allows her to spread her wings as an actress is how her character throughout the film assumes other personas that allow her to get close to her victims.

Content wise, Murder in a Blue World, like Eloy de la Iglesia’s other films, is filled with social commentary. With authoritarianism being the main theme explored in Murder in a Blue World, As mentioned before, Murder in a Blue World has two narratives that run parallel with each other. One revolves around David, a young man who’s part of a gang that dresses in matching uniforms and uses wipes to attack their victims, and the other revolves around Ana, a troubled woman who preys upon the weak. It is the latter of these two narratives that is more compelling.

Besides Sue Lyon’s performance, the rest of the performances are best described as serviceable. The only other performance that leaves a lasting impression is Christopher Mitchum (Summertime Killer) in the role of David. Another actor of note is Jean Sorel (Short Night of the Glass Dolls).

If all you see when watching Murder in the Blue World is a knockoff of A Clockwork Orange, then you were not paying attention. But there are many meta moments that reference A Clockwork Orange and Stanley Kubrick. The result is a multilayered film that’s much deeper than your run of the mill knockoff film. That said, Murder in a Blue World, like most of Eloy de la Iglesia’s films, is a cerebral cinema experience that’s filled with subtext.

Murder in a Blue World makes its way to Blu-ray via an experimental release from Cauldron Films that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Combat Shock – Troma Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1984
Director: Buddy Giovinazzo
Writer: Buddy Giovinazzo
Cast: Rick Giovinazzo, Veronica Stork, Mitch Maglio, Asaph Livni, Nick Nasta, Michael Tierno

Release Date: June 7th, 2022
Approximate Running Time: 97 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Frankie is a war vet whose life sucks. He has no money, a nagging wife, junkie friends, and a deformed baby. This is the story of one day in his pathetic post-war life." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Combat Shock comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 15.2 GB

Feature: 15 GB

According to social media comments made by someone who works for Troma Films, Their transfer uses the same source that was used for Severin Films' 2017 Blu-ray release. Though there are some mild instances of print related debris, colors look very good, image clarity is strong, and black levels fare well. That said, despite sharing the same source, the encodes could not be more different. Where Severin Films' Blu-ray was a dual-layer disc, Troma Films' is a single-layer disc that only uses 15 GB for the feature film.

Audio: 3.25/5

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Though range wise, this track can be lacking, the dialog comes through clearly and everything is balanced.

Extras:

Extras on disc one, which contains the feature film, include an introduction with Lloyd Kaufman (2 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles).

Extras on disc two include a DVD trailer for Combat Shock (1 minute 39 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 17 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival locations featurette titled Hellscapes (2 minutes 42 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor Rick Giovinazzo (6 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with writer/director Buddy Giovinazzo (4 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with Buddy Giovinazzo and filmmaker Jörg Buttgereit from the 2009 Berlin film festival (7 minutes 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview titled Der Combat Llyod finds Buddy Giovinazzo at Tromanale 2006 (4 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival documentary titled Post Traumatic: An American Nightmare (29 minutes 12 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), three music music videos directed by Buddy Giovinazzo - Planet TT (4 minutes 20 seconds), Leave this World (4 minutes 5 seconds), and Something in the Water (3 minutes 10 seconds), five short films directed by Buddy Giovinazzo - A Christmas Album (7 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Mr. Robbie (7 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Subconscious Realities (15 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Jonathan of the Night (12 minutes 58 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), and The Lobotomy (7 minutes 13 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles). 

Other extras include trailers for Blood Boobs and Beast, The Last Horror Film, Troma’s War, Story of a Junkie, Squeeze Play!, The First Turn On!, The Toxic Avenger, Mutant Blast, Stuck on You!, Waitress!, Class of Nuke 'Em High, Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1, Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 2, Poultrygeist, and Shakespeare's Shitstorm.

Summary:

From its opening moments, Combat Shock establishes a relentless tone that builds to an unflinching climax. The narrative is an exploration of the American dream, which is decaying in Combat Shock. Many of the things the protagonist experiences are easily identifiable, like an inability to find work, food instability, and a society that’s falling apart at the seams. Needless to say, many of these things are just as relevant today as when Combat Shock was released thirty-eight years ago.

Without a doubt, Combat Shock's greatest asset is the performance of Rick Giovinazzo in the role of the protagonist, a Vietnam vet named Frankie Dunlan. And though he had never acted in a film before Combat Shock and hasn’t appeared in one since, Rick Giovinazzo gives a flawless performance that is utterly believable. 

From a production standpoint, Combat Shock is not a film without shortcomings. Fortunately, its positives far outweigh its negatives. Most notably, its use of gritty New York City landscapes, special effects that look very good considering budget limitations, and an infectious score that does a great job capturing the mood. That said, Combat Shock is the type of film that within the first few minutes will either draw you into its web or you will be so revolted by what you are watching. Ultimately, Combat Shock is a grueling experience that is sure to shock, disgust, and most importantly, entertain you.

It should be noted that there are two versions of Combat Shock. The original cut, known as American Nightmare, is director Buddy Giovinazzo’s preferred version. and a shorter version that was retitled and released by Troma Films titled Combat Shock. For this release, Troma Films has included the American Nightmare cut, albeit with the title card Combat Shock.

Combat Shock gets a fully loaded release from Troma Films that comes with a strong audio/video presentation, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Friday, May 20, 2022

Eyeball – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1975
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Félix Tusell
Cast: Martine Brochard, John Richardson, Ines Pellegrini, Andrés Mejuto, Mirta Miller, Daniele Vargas, George Rigaud, Silvia Solar, Raf Baldassarre

Release Date: September 24th, 2018
Approximate running time: 92 Minutes 14 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £17.99

"Eyeball might just be the late, great Umberto Lenzi's greatest giallo! Gruesome and grueling, this torrid tale of a black gloved killer with a fetish for plucking out the peepers of his unlucky victims is a personal favorite of Pulp Fiction genius Quentin Tarantino and it is easy to see why. Boasting plenty of bloodshed and some beautiful Catalonian locations, Eyeball is a murder-mystery that stands up to the best of Mario Bava and Dario Argento and, with its messy arterial mayhem, even anticipates the later excess of such American slasher staples as Friday the 13th! Dare you open your eyes to Eyeball?" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Brand New 2018 2K Transfer and Restoration with Extensive Color Correction exclusive to this Release."

Eyeball comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 39.1 GB

Feature: 23.2 GB

The source used for this transfer is in great shape, and any source-related impressions are minimal. Color saturation, image clarity, and black levels are solid throughout, and the grain remains intact.

Audio: 4.25/5 (DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian)

This release comes with two audio options: a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are in great shape; they both sound clear and balanced, and range-wise, the ambient sounds are well-represented. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, an English language trailer (2 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an Italian theatrical trailer (2 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital mono with text in Italian), a US TV spot (29 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), a locations featurette (2 minutes 3 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo), an interview with actress Martine Brochard titled Eyeballs on Martin Brochard (15 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), a documentary about Umberto Lenzi titled All Eyes on Lenzi: The Life and Times of the Italian Exploitation Titan (84 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English and Italian with removable English subtitles), and an audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues.

Summary:

Umberto Lenzi is most known for his contributions to the Poliziotteschi and Giallo genres. Orgasmo, So Sweet So Perverse, A Quiet Place to Kill, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, and Spasmo are among his notable films in the latter category. When released in America, many Italian genre films will be retitled by the distributor. Other titles that Eyeball was released under include Red Cats in a Glass Labyrinth, The Secret Killer, and Wide-Eyed in the Dark.

Though, Eyeball has the core elements that are synonymous with the Giallo genre. The result is a by-the-numbers film that brings nothing new to the genre. That said, at least when it comes to the murder set pieces, they are well executed. Most notably, a scene where a character unknowingly photographs the killer, which can uncover their identity. Another area where the murder set pieces stand out is gore, making them the most gory kills from Umberto Lenzi’s Giallo.

Unfortunately, outside of muted set pieces, Eyeball has more negatives than positives. And nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to a narrative that's padded with endless shots of tourists on vacation. That said, one area where the narrative is very effective is its use of flashbacks. Another strength is Bruno Nicolai’s score, which perfectly captures the mood.

Although the Giallo genre is not known for great performances, because most of the cast are hired for their good looks, this actually works in this genre's favor since most films are style over substance. And in the case of Eyeball, it features a rogues gallery of characters who are portrayed by recognizable Euro-cult and Italian genre cinema from the 1970’s. Notable cast members include Martine Brochard (The Violent Professionals) in the role of a woman named Paulette Stone who’s having an affair with her boss, John Richardson (Black Sunday) in the role of Paulette’s boss, and George Rigaud (The Case of the Bloody Iris) in the role of the all too familiar Giallo character, a priest.

What Eyeball lacks when it comes to its narrative, it more than makes up for with nudity and bloodshed. And though Eyeball is never going to be considered Umberto Lenzi’s defining film in the Giallo genre, it is still an entertaining film that indulges in its excesses. Ultimately, Eyeball is a film that Umberto Lenzi’s completists will get the most mileage out of.

Eyeball gets a first-rate release from 88 Films that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a trio of informative extras, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Revolver – Eureka Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy/France/Germany, 1973
Director: Sergio Sollima
Writers: Dino Maiuri, Massimo De Rita, Sergio Sollima
Cast: Oliver Reed, Fabio Testi, Paola Pitagora, Agostina Belli, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Bernard Giraudeau, Peter Berling, Alexander Stephan, Daniel Beretta

Release Date: May 16th, 2022
Approximate running time: 109 Minutes 36 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £17.99

"Kidnappers have snatched the wife of Milan’s top prison warden (Reed) and demand the release of an inmate (Testi) as ransom. But when the warden allows his prisoner to escape, the two become trapped in a deadly conspiracy that reaches from the halls of government to the bullet-riddled city streets. Can an obsessed lawman and an escaped convict survive the forces of corruption as well as each other, or does the ultimate law of society belong to the revolver?" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 2K restoration."

Revolver comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.4 GB

Feature: 32 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape, and this transfer looks solid. Color saturation, image clarity, and black levels are consistently strong throughout.

Audio: 4.5/5 (LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian)

This release comes with two audio options: a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are in great shape; dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, ambient sounds are well represented, and Ennio Morricone’s score sounds appropriately robust. Included with this release are two subtitle options: English subtitles for the Italian language track and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include two radio spots (1 minute 33 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), International theatrical trailer under the title Blood in the Streets (1 minute 55 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 40 seconds, LPCM mono with removable English subtitles for Italian text), English language credits (6 minutes 23 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor Fabio Testi titled Action Man (17 minutes 7 seconds, LPCM stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Paola Pitagora titled Tough Girl (10 minutes 21 seconds, LPCM stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with film scholar Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA who discusses Revolver and director Sergio Sollima (21 minutes 59 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary by Barry Forshaw and film critic Kim Newman, a O-Card slipcase (First 2000 copies only) and a thirty-six page booklet (First 2000 copies only) with cast & crew credits, an essay titled Love and Bullets written by Howard Hughes, an essay titled The Hit Maker written by Howard Hughes, information about the transfer titled Notes on Viewing, and Blu-ray credits.

Summary:

Though the bulk of Sergio Sollima’s feature films were made during an eight-year period from 1965–1973, when he directed nine films. There’s no denying that the quality of these films put him among the premier filmmakers working in Italy at that time. Also, despite working in genres that were known for being overly formulaic, what set most of his films apart from his contemporaries was how they looked beyond the surface by conveying thought-provoking content rooted in social commentary and politics. And no film that he directed was more political than Revolver.

From its opening moments, Revolver sets a tone that is grueling. It opens with a poignant pre-credits sequence where one of the two protagonists, a criminal named Milo Ruiz, is introduced as he buries his best friend in an unmarked grave. What also makes this moment so special is composer Ennio Morricone’s music cue titled "Un Amico," a music cue that would be later rediscovered when used in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

Revolver’s other protagonist is a vice governor of a prison named Vito Cipriani, whose fate becomes intertwined with Milo Ruiz's. When he’s blackmailed into breaking Milo Ruiz out of prison, the blackmailers have kidnapped Cipriani’s wife as leverage. These two characters make an unusual pairing, with one representing law and order and the other presenting their life-changing laws. Also, this dynamic works exceptionally well in the story at hand.

Though Poliziotteschi, like any other film genre, has its own tropes, what sets Revolver apart from other Poliziotteschi is how it goes against this genre's tropes. Most notably, the way it pairs its two leads and its lack of explosive action set pieces. And in the case of the latter, Revolver’s car chase scene is arguably the most anticlimactic to ever appear in a Poliziotteschi. Fortunately, all of these things work in Revolver’s favor.

When discussing Revolver, one cannot overlook its performances. And as good as the entire cast is in their respective roles, Revolver’s heart and soul are its two lead performances: Oliver Reed (The Devils) in the role of Vito Cipriani, and Fabio Testi (The Big Racket) in the role of Milo Ruiz. In the case of the former, Oliver Reed delivers a nuanced performance that’s phenomenal, and it is arguably one of his best performances. In the case of the latter, Fabio Testi is surprisingly good, and his performance is his best.

From a production standpoint, there is not an area where Revolver does not deliver and then some. The superbly realized premise is a no-holds-barred indictment of a corrupt system that only benefits those in power; a well-executed narrative that perfectly builds tension; and a jaw-dropping finale where a character is forced to make a choice that goes against everything that they believe in. Other strengths include Sergio Sollima’s rock solid direction, and once again, Ennio Morricone delivers another spectacular score. Ultimately, Revolver is an extraordinary exploration of morality and the sacrifices one is forced to make to maintain their moral anchor.

Revolver gets an excellent release from Eureka Video that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.









Written by Michael Den Boer

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Beyond Evil – Troma Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1980
Director: Herb Freed
Writers: Paul Ross, Herb Freed, David Baughn
Cast: John Saxon, Lynda Day George, Michael Dante, Mario Milano, Janice Lynde, David Opatoshu

Release Date: June 7th, 2022
Approximate Running Time: 95 Minutes 18 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $19.95

"Architect Larry Andrews and his new wife Barbara travel to a small island off the coast of the Philippines, where they are due to move into a condominium. Barbara is perturbed when Larry's business associate, Del, notifies them the residence is not ready yet, and pays for them to stay in a hotel, and tells Larry she feels Del exploits him. At dinner, Del subsequently reveals to the couple that there was no condominium to begin with, and that he instead arranged for them to live in a large, historic colonial mansion named Casa Fortuna. Del soon explains that the home is supposedly haunted by Alma Martín, the first lady of the home." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Beyond Evil comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 21.6 GB

Feature: 14.6 GB

It appears that Troma Films is using the same 2K master that Vinegar Syndrome used for their 2019 Blu-ray. The result is a similar transfer, albeit a different encode, than about half of the file space that Vinegar Syndrome used for their release.

Audio: 3/5

This release comes with one audio option, Dolby Digital mono English. Though, they didn’t use the DTS-HD mono English track that Vinegar Syndrome used for their 2019. The track that’s been provided for this release sounds clear and balanced.

Extras:

Extras for this release include an introduction with Lloyd Kaufman (1 minute 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a theatrical trailer (2 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with producer David Baughn titled Evil in Paradise (13 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), and an archival interview with director Herb Freed titled Origins of Evil (14 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles).

Others extras include a music video by The Vanilla Milkshakes titled Troma Song, and trailers for Shakespeare's Shitstorm, The Toxic Avenger, Poultrygeist, Class of Nuke 'Em High, Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 2, and Mutant Blast.

Summary:

Though demonic possession has long been a staple of horror cinema, like any well-established genre staple, it ultimately comes down to how effectively it’s employed. With that being said, Beyond Evil is a classic example of a film with an ambitious premise that gets crushed because of limited resources.

And nowhere is Beyond Evil more let down than when it comes to special effects, which look primitive even by early 1980’s standards. Another area where Beyond Evil comes up short is a predictable, weak narrative that’s lacking tension.

The performances don’t fare much better, and at best they’re serviceable. Beyond Evil’s strongest performance was by Janice Lynde in the role of Alma Martin, a one-hundred-year old who possesses the protagonist's wife. Notable cast members include John Saxon (The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Tenebrae) in the role of an architect named Larry Andrews and Lynda Day George (Day of the Animals, Pieces) in the role of Barbara Andrews.

For a film where just about everything that can go wrong, does. If Beyond Evil has one saving grace, it would be Pino Donaggio’s score.

Beyond Evil gets a strong release from Troma Films that comes with a good audio/video presentation, and it ports over two informative extras from Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Tough Ones: Deluxe Collectors Edition – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Arthur Kennedy, Giampiero Albertini, Ivan Rassimov, Biagio Pelligra, Aldo Barberito, Stefano Patrizi, Luciano Pigozzi, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Gabriella Lepori, Maria Rosaria Riuzzi, Corrado Solari

Release Date: August 30th, 2021
Approximate running time: 93 Minutes 53 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English (For Italian Language, Italian Text)
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: OOP

"Maurizio Meril stars as an Italian DIRTY HARRY, punching and shooting his way through the sleazy drug, sex and crime infested cesspool of mid-'70s Rome, on the trail of a sadistic, machine gun-toting hunchback, played by Tomas Milian (THE BIG GUNDOWN)." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (The Tough Ones), 3.5/5 (Brutal Justice)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "4K transfer."

The Tough Ones comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.5 GB

Feature: 25.5 GB

The transfer for this release is on par with Grindhouse Releasing’s 2019 Blu-ray, which is not surprising since both releases appear to use the same 4K source.

Brutal Justice comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 27 GB

Feature: 19.4 GB

The source for Brutal Justice is labeled "Grindhouse Version". There is source-related damage throughout that is minimal and never intrusive. That said, image clarity is strong, colors fare well, and black levels are adequate.

Audio: 5/5 (DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English)

The Tough Ones comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both the audio tracks are in great shape; the dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, the ambient sounds and the score are well-represented. Range-wise, the Italian language track sounds more robust than the English language track. There are English subtitles for the Italian language track and English subtitles for the Italian language text.

Brutal Justice comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Though the dialog comes through clearly, there are some minor sibilance-related issues and a few audio imperfections that are fortunately minor.

Extras:

Extras in disc one include a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate Italian credits sequence (3 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), an interview with actor Corrado Solari titled Standing Out (17 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with composer Franco Micalizzi titled Funk and Violence (26 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Maria Rosario Omaggio titled Men of Violence (20 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with Maurizio Matteo Merli son of actor Maurizio Merli titled A Family Affair (25 minutes 9 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua titled Fast and Furious (11 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with composer Roberto Donati titled Budy’s Story (10 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with director Umberto Lenzi composer Roberto Donati titled Armed to the Teeth (30 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an archival audio commentary with Mike Malloy, director of Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s, and an audio commentary with film critic Kim Newman and filmmaker Sean Hogan.

Extras on disc two include Aquarius Releasing-An Appreciation: By Mike Malloy (29 minutes 1 second, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), and an alternate version of The Tough Ones released in the US under the title Brutal Justice (82 minutes 57 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles).

Besides being about eleven minutes shorter, Brutal Justice also features obvious English language insert shots, and the main theme has added gunshots and explosion effects.

Other extras include reversible cover art, A3 fold-out poster, and a forty-page booklet with an interview with Umberto Lenzi by Eugenio Ercolani.

Summary:

When discussing Italian genre cinema of the 1970’s, there’s no denying the importance that film scores played. Italian genre cinema has had a long history of creating memorable film scores that perfectly reinforce the mood of what’s unfolding onscreen. It should also come as no surprise that music plays such an important role in Italian genre cinema, given that the majority of the dialogue was recorded in post-production. With that being said, one could easily argue that composers’ contributions to 1970’s Italian genre cinema were on par with directors’ contributions. A case in point, Franco Micalizzi’s extraordinary The Tough Ones score does a superb job of capturing the immediacy of Inspector Tanzi’s mission to free the streets of criminals.

Throughout the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, Italian genre cinema inspired American cinema. And, despite the fact that the Italian westerns lasted longer than most genre cycles in Italian,By the early 1970's, American crime films like Dirty Harry and Death Wish would inspire a new Italian genre, Poliziotteschi (Italian crime films).

However, there’s no denying that American cinema may have influenced Poliziotteschi. It’s ultimately the elements that are inherently Italian that make this genre stand out from your typical clone. And in the case of Poliziotteschi cinema, at their core, they were a reflection of what was going on in Italy in the 1970’s. Another strength of Poliziotteschi's cinema is how most of these films return to elements that originated with Italian Neorealism cinema. By returning to their Italian Neorealism roots, this adds a leave of authenticity to Poliziotteschi's cinema.

From a production standpoint, The Tough Ones is a finely tuned machine that, like fine wine, gets better with more viewings. The premise of a society that’s in chaos because the laws harm law-abiding citizens by shielding criminals is superbly realized. And though some films can be seen as forward-thinking, It’s chilling how much the world of The Tough Ones represents the world we now live in. The more things change, the more they stay.

Content-wise, The Tough Ones has all the elements that have become synonymous with Poliziotteschi cinema. A hard-boiled protagonist who’s forced to work outside of the law to get results, a rogue’s gallery of colorful villains, thrilling action set pieces, and an unflinching depiction of the carnage.

The cast members all give excellent performances in their respective roles, particularly Tomas Milian's scene-stealing portrayal of a hunchback named Vincenzo Moretto. And what makes his performance all the more potent is how he initially portrays Vincenzo as a weakling who evokes sympathy before turning into a confident, cold-blooded killer.

Another performance of note is that of Maurizio Merli (Convoy Busters) in the role of this film’s protagonist, Inspector Tanzi. However, he delivers a one-note performance of a character with a one-track mind. This actually works in this film’s favor.

Other notable cast members include Arthur Kennedy (Lawrence of Arabia) in the role of Tanzi’s boss, Superintendent Ruini, Ivan Rassimov (Spasmo) in the role of a pimp named Tony Parenzo who gets his women hooked on heroin, and Maria Rosaria Omaggio (The Cop in Blue Jeans) in the role of Tanzi’s leftist girlfriend who works as a social worker.

Standout moments include a scene where Anna gets abducted by criminals who want to silence Tanzi. And to prove they mean business, they retrain her in a car that’s been placed in a junk-yard compactor. A scene where five young men who come from affluent families terrorize a couple making out in their car. After they trap the boyfriend in the car’s trunk, they then take turns raping the woman. With the scene ending with a very long and large stick, And a scene where the only thing preventing bank robbers from killing their hostages is Inspector Tanzi, who uses air ducks to enter the bank. These three moments are examples of Umberto Lenzi’s knack for creating tense, unsettling moments.

Though, there is a lot of crossover when it comes to the extra participants. These interviews are not the same as the interviews from Grindhouse Releasing’s 2019 Blu-ray. That said, these new extras cover a lot of the same topics as the old. With the only extra on both releases being Mike Malloy’s audio commentary. Also, the 88 Films Blu-ray release comes with a pair of extras exclusive to its release: Aquarius Releasing-An Appreciation By Mike Malloy and an alternate version of The Tough Ones titled Brutal Justice. When it comes to packaging, audio, and video, Grindhouse Releasing and 88 Films Blu-ray releases are must-have purchases if you're a fan of The Tough Ones.

The Tough Ones gets an exceptional release from 88 Films, highly recommended.

Note: Limited edition - 2000 Units Only.
















Written by Michael Den Boer

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