Monday, June 14, 2021

Day Of The Animals – Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1977
Director: William Girdler
Writers: William W. Norton, Eleanor E. Norton, Edward L. Montoro
Cast: Christopher George, Leslie Nielsen, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Michael Ansara, Ruth Roman, Jon Cedar, Paul Mantee, Walter Barnes, Andrew Stevens, Susan Backlinie

Release Date: May 18th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 97 Minutes 43 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.95

"When a hole in the Earth's ozone layer triggers bloodthirsty madness throughout the animal kingdom, all mankind - particularly a group of tourists on an overnight hike - will become their prey." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "a 2K scan from the internegative".

Day Of The Animals comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 38.8 GB

Feature: 28.1 GB

The source used for this transfer is in good shape and any print related debris is minimal. That said, when compared to Scorpion Releasing's 2013 Blu-ray release and like Severin Films Grizzly release, this new transfer is a noticeable improvement in every way.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. This audio track is in good shape, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and ambient sounds are well-represented.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, a radio spot for Day Of The Animals (28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), two TV spots for Day Of The Animals (32 seconds & 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a trailer for Day Of The Animals (1 minute 12 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), alternate opening title sequence Something is Out There (38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival making of featurette titled Something Was Out There: Day Of The Animals 30 Years Later (21 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Animal Wrangler Monty Cox titled Monty Cox Unleashed (18 minutes 10 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Actor Andrew Stevens titled Against Nature (12 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Actor Bobby Porter titled Nature Boy (17 minutes 49 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actress Lynda Day George titled Lynda and The Animals (5 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower author of 'Nightmare USA' who discusses the Career of Distributor Edward L. Montoro (20 minutes 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and two audio commentaries: the first audio commentary is with Lee Gambin author of 'Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film' and the second audio commentary is with Lynda Day George, actor Jon Cedar and moderated by filmmaker Scott Spiegel.

Summary:

Though Days of the Animals was clearly made because of the box office success William Girdler’s previous film Grizzly. To write it off as a Grizzly clone would be doing Day of the Animals a great disservice, since it actually fits better into the nature versus man films that dominated late 1970’s cinema.

From its opening moments Day of the Animals sets a forbidding tone that builds to a fever pitch by the time its moment of truth arrives. The premise is superbly realized and the narrative does a good job balancing moments of terror, and moments where it lets the viewer catch their breath. Another strength of Day of the Animals is how effective the animal attacks are.

Severin Films gives Day of the Animals its best release to date, highly recommended.









Written by Michael Den Boer

Grizzly – Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1976
Director: William Girdler
Writers: Harvey Flaxman, David Sheldon, Andrew Prine
Cast: Christopher George, Andrew Prine, Richard Jaeckel, Joan McCall, Joe Dorsey, Charles Kissinger, Kermit Echols, Tom Arcuragi, Victoria Johnson, Kathy Rickman, Mary Ann Hearn

Release Date: May 18th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 90 Minutes 47 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.95

"an 18-foot-tall ursus arctos horribilis on a carnivorous rampage through a state park full of campers, and the ranger, chopper pilot and naturalist who must stop it." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "a 2k scan from the internegative".

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

Disc Size: 43.3 GB

Feature: 26.1 GB

The source used for this transfer is in good shape and any print related debris is minimal. That said, when compared to Scorpion Releasing's 2015 Blu-ray release this new transfer is a noticeable improvement in every way. With most noticeable areas of improvement being color saturation and image clarity.

Audio: 3.75/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH. This audio track sounds very good, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and range wise ambient sounds is handled well.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, two radio spots for Grizzly (55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), two trailers for Grizzly (2 minutes 20 seconds & 1 minute 9 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival featurette titled Jaws With Claws (36 minutes 40 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a vintage making of titled Movie Making in the Wilderness (7 minutes, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with producer David Sheldon and actress Joan McCall titled The Grizzly Details (18 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Tom Arcuragi titled The Towering Fury (8 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio interview with business partner and friend J. Patrick Kelly III (36 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower author of 'Nightmare USA' who discusses the Career of William Girdler (45 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and two audio commentaries: the first audio commentary is with Mondo Digital's Nathaniel Thompson and Film Writer Troy Howarth and the second audio commentary is with David Sheldon and Joan McCall.

Summary:

There’s no denying the impact that Jaws made on cinema. Not only did it set the standard for blockbusters, it also inspired countless imitators looking to ride Jaws phenomenal numbers at the box office. 

This brings us to a film like Grizzly whose taglines, “The most dangerous Jaws on land!!!” and “Not since Jaws has the terror been like this!”. So it's not surprising that a film like Grizzly bears a striking resemblance to Jaws.

That said, similarities to Jaws aside, Grizzly is arguably the best “Jaws” inspired film. The premise does a good job shifting from the sea to land and the well-executed narrative ensures that tension never subsides. Other strengths include a solid cast and the brutal grizzly attack scenes do not disappoint.

Severin Films give Grizzly its best release to date, highly recommended.









Written by Michael Den Boer

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Drive: Special Collector's Edition – MVD Rewind Collection (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1997
Director: Steve Wang
Writer: Scott Phillips
Cast: Mark Dacascos, Kadeem Hardison, John Pyper-Ferguson, Brittany Murphy, Tracey Walter, James Shigeta, Masaya Katô

Release Date: May 11th, 2021
Approximate Running Times: 117 Minutes 14 Seconds (Extended Director’s Cut), 99 Minutes 46 Seconds (Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Extended Director’s Cut), 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Theatrical Cut)
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, LPCM Stereo English (Extended Director’s Cut), LPCM Stereo English (Theatrical Cut)
Subtitles: English for Cantonese dialog (Extended Director’s Cut), English SDH (Theatrical Cut)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.95

"Toby Wong (Mark Dacascos, John Wick 3: Parabellum) is on a martial arts mission impossible. With a bio-energy module placed on his chest, Toby's awesome martial arts skills are tuned to a super-human level. The only problem is that Toby doesn't want the power.

Now, only an army can stop him, and that's just what's hunting him down. As he makes his escape from an ammo-packing posse of hitmen, Toby needs a hostage, Malik (Kadeem Hardison, White Men Can't Jump) to drive him to freedom in Los Angeles." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (Extended Director’s Cut), 2.75/5 (Theatrical Cut)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Extended Director’s Cut in 2.35:1 aspect ratio from a brand new 4K HD scan of the original cameral negative".

Info about the theatrical cut, "'Drive: Theatrical Version' Has been included on this disc as supplemental material. It was sourced from an older, undated master and as a result, the image is not in the correct aspect ratio and may contain coloring issues, grain, damage, and occasional pixelation."

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

Disc Size: 44.3 GB

Feature: 24.6 GB (Extended Director’s Cut), 16.7 GB (Theatrical Cut)

The extended director’s cut gets a solid transfer, colors look great, black levels and image clarity look strong throughout.

Included as an extra for this release is the theatrical cut and it comes from a source that pales in every way when compared to extended director’s cut’s transfer. Also, the theatrical cut is in a cropped aspect ratio. 

Audio: 4/5 (Extended Director’s Cut), 3.5/5 (Theatrical Cut)

The extended director’s cut comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes sound great, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and range wise action sequences sound robust. Included with The extended director’s cut subtitles for Cantonese dialog that's spoken in the opening sequence. Though the theatrical cut comes with English SDH subtitles, it's unfortunate that The extended director’s cut does not come with English SDH subtitles.

The theatrical cut comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English and included with the theatrical cut are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout. It should-be noted that the theatrical cut features alternate music cues than the extended director’s cut.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, a limited edition slipcover, a collectable mini poster, a trailer for Drive (1 minute 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), six deleted scenes (8 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival making of documentary titled The Force Behind The Storm (47 minutes 42 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), archival interviews with actors Mark Dacascos and Kadeem Hardison, director Steve Wang, second unit director Wyatt Weed, and stunt coordinator Koichi Sakamoto (24 minutes 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with Steve Wang, Koichi Sakamoto, Mark Dacascos and Kadeem Hardison, and five trailers for other films released by MVD Rewind Collection.

Summary:

Honestly going into Drive I was not sure what to expect. Though the premise has all the elements one would expect from an action film being made in the 1990’s. The result was actually a film that far exceeded expectations by maximizing the sum of its parts.

Also, though there have been American made martial arts films. The best American made martial arts films are films that featured Hong Kong action stars who were making their English language film debut. With the bulk of the American made martial arts films lacking the dynamic action set pieces that have become synonymous with Hong Kong martial arts films.

From a production standpoint, Drive does a great job exploiting its absurd premise and the narrative does a good job balancing action set pieces and humorous interactions with its two leads. That said, ultimately Drive’s greatest asset are its dynamic action set pieces.

Drive gets an exceptional release from MVD Rewind Collection who continue to give underrated films definitive releases, recommended.















Written by Michael Den Boer

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Basher Box Set (The Prodigal Boxer & The Awaken Punch) – VCI Entertainment (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: Taiwan/Hong Kong, 1972 (The Prodigal Boxer), Hong Kong, 1973 (The Awaken Punch)
Directors: Yang-Ming Tsai (The Prodigal Boxer), Lung-Hsiang Fang (The Awaken Punch)
Cast: Fei Meng, Lin-Lin Li, Yasuaki Kurata, Hung Pai, Ching Wong (The Prodigal Boxer), Yung Henry Yu, Pui-San Auyeung, Feng Tien, Li Meng, Nancy Sit (The Awaken Punch)

Release Date: April 13th, 2021
Approximate Running Times: 90 Minutes 3 Seconds (The Prodigal Boxer), 101 Minutes 4 Seconds (The Awaken Punch)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Films)
Rating: R
Sound: LPCM Mono English (Both Films)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Films)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.98

The Prodigal Boxer:

"an early take on the legend of martial artist Fong Sai-Yuk (later to be portrayed by the likes of Jet Li and Alexander Fu-Sheng), here played by Mang Fei. Once Fong Inadvertently kills a student of the rival school run by Iron Hand Tan (Kurata Yasuaki), this action leads to a series of near death confrontations between the men concluding in a tournament battle of the ages." - synopsis provided by the distributor

The Awaken Punch:

"an altruistic fighter who begins to build a name for himself as he violently cleans up a town from within its more seedier elements. But when he must abide by a promise to his dying father to give up his fighting ways, he will be faced with a new challenge in the arrival of the knife-throwing master Tien Feng (Fist of Fury) and his gang." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3/5 (The Prodigal Boxer), 2.5/5 (The Awaken Punch)

Here’s the information provided about The Prodigal Boxer's transfer, "NEW 4k Transfer from a 35mm negative".

More info about The Prodigal Boxer's transfer, "This new 4K transfer of "The Prodigal Boxer" was scanned from a 35mm film negative. The color correction and clean up was minimized to present the most accurate depiction of the original film's grain and attributes. Sharpness, grain and clarity can fluctuate based on the surviving elements used. Color hues and tones have been best determined through stock characteristics and original production images to give the Pearl River audience the most accurate experience of the film's original visual presentation."

Here’s the information provided about The Awaken Punch's transfer, "NEW 4k Transfer from a 35mm inter-positive print".

More info about The Awaken Punch's transfer, "This new 4K transfer of The Awaken Punch was scanned from a 35mm IP print. The color correction and clean up was minimized to present the most accurate depiction of the original film's grain and attributes. Sharpness, grain and clarity can fluctuate based on the surviving elements used. Color hues and tones have been best determined through stock characteristics and original production images to give the Pearl River audience the most accurate experience of the film's original visual presentation."

There are disclaimers that play before both films that perfectly explain what to expect with these transfers. That said, The Prodigal Boxer is the stronger of these two transfers.

The Prodigal Boxer comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 21.9 GB

Feature: 19 GB

The Awaken Punch comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 21.4 GB

Feature: 21 GB

Audio: 3.5/5 (The Prodigal Boxer), 3/5 (The Awaken Punch)

The Prodigal Boxer and The Awaken Punch each come with one audio option, LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. Though both audio mixes are cleaned up, range wise the audio at times sounds limited. That said dialog comes through clearly and the fight scenes sound robust.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, a trailer for The Prodigal Boxer (3 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), a trailer for The Awaken Punch (6 minutes 3 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Creative Chaos: The Basher Genre (14 minutes 49 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with actor/director Michael Worth and Clones Cast/Cinema Bushido host Matthew Whittaker for The Prodigal Boxer and a leaflet with two essays: A Brief History of The Yuen Clan written by JohnKreng and Growing Up Kung Fu: The Prodigal Boxer and The Awaken Punch written by Michael Worth.

Summary:

Though Bruce Lee in the early 1970’s put martial arts cinema on the world stage. Predictably most of the films that follow his lacked the substance he brought to martial arts cinema. With most martial arts films from this era being more concerned with action set pieces, than focusing on strong narratives.

The Prodigal Boxer and The Awaken Punch, the two films that are part of The Basher Box Set, show many of traits that plagued post-Bruce Lee martial arts films. Both films feature revenge themed premises in which the protagonist faces insurmountable odds in their quest for revenge. Along the way the protagonist overcomes a series of obstacles that ultimately prepare them for the final showdown.

From a production standpoint, though both films are clearly working with limited resources. Ultimately both films take full advantage of their resources. And though both films could have benefited from less predictable narratives. This shortcoming will be easy for most fans of martial arts cinema to overlook since the action set pieces are where both of these films shine the brightest.

At its height of popularity martial arts cinema was churning out hundreds of films per year. And though some of the more notable films like Bruce Lee’s films and Shaw Brothers films have turned up in versions that have come from restored sources. Unfortunately, the sources for the bulk of martial arts cinema from the 1970’s appear to have been lost or only inferior sources remain.

That said, The Basher Box Set is a commendable release that provides the best available versions of The Prodigal Boxer and The Awaken Punch, and it comes with a pair of insightful extras, recommended.













Written by Michael Den Boer

Thursday, June 10, 2021

 A Scream in the Streets – Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1973
Directors: Carl Monson, Dwayne Avery, Bethel Buckalew, Harry H. Novak
Writer: Eric Norden
Cast: Joshua Bryant, Frank Bannon, Rosie Stone, Linda York, Brandy Lyman, Con Covert, Colleen Brennan

Release Date: March 30th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 90 Minutes 31 Seconds
Aspect Ratios: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC, 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.95

"From infamous producer Harry Novak - whose Box Office International Pictures brought the world such classics as AXE, MANTIS IN LACE and WHAM BAM THANK YOU, SPACEMAN - comes the still-startling sickie about a pair of L.A.P.D. detectives hunting a transvestite psychopath through a polyester jungle of massage parlor perverts, suburban sex fiends, violence-crazed cops" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.75/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "2k remaster scanned from the original camera negative".

A Scream in the Streets comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.6 GB

Feature: 22.3 GB (1.85:1 Widescreen), 22.3 GB (1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

The sources used for both transfers look very good and any source related debris is minimal. Image clarity, colors and black levels look strong throughout. It should-be noted that there are few compression-related moments.

Audio: 3.75/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds clear and balanced.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, three trailers for A Scream in the Streets: trailer #1 (3 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), trailer #2 (3 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles) and trailer #3 (1 minute 44 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles) and two sexy shorts produced from A Scream in the Streets outtakes: The Peeper Part One (10 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles) and The Peeper Part Two (9 minutes 30 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles).

Summary:

Harry H. Novak's production company released A Scream in the Streets. Other notable films released by Harry H. Novak include sleazy exploitation films like Toys Are Not For Children and The Sinful Dwarf, and horror films like The Child and Rituals.

Though A Scream in the Streets has many elements that have become synonymous with 1970’s exploitation cinema. The result is a film that can’t make up its mind if it's a in your face crime film or a soft-core sex film. With A Scream in the Streets strongest moments revolving around a cross dressing killer. That said, A Scream in the Streets is ultimately a film that fans of 1970’s exploitation cinema are sure to enjoy. 











Written by Michael Den Boer

Day Of The Animals – Severin Films (Blu-ray) Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1977 Director: William Girdler Writers: William W. Norton, Ele...