Saturday, June 19, 2021

Hunting Ground – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1983
Director: Jorge Grau
Writers: Antonio de Jaén, Manuel Summers, Jorge Grau
Cast: Assumpta Serna, Víctor Valverde, Luis Hostalot, Montserrat Salvador, Paloma Lorena, Sahli Mimoun Amar El, José Antonio García Romeu, Manuel Rodríguez, Alejandro Hernández, Alicia Hernández, Manuel Pereiro

Release Date: June 8th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 108 Minutes 46 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Spanish, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Adele, a female lawyer, brilliantly played by Assumpta Serna, passionately defends criminals, believing that everyone deserves a second chance and that criminality is more often than not bred by deprivation. In the courtroom, a pair of local hoods see her in action and decide to follow her. They steal her car, find the keys to her country villa and decide to rob the place. Unfortunately, Adele’s family turn up at the villa mid-burglary, and her husband is killed. But that is only the beginning of the nightmare..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “brand new 4k transfer from film negative”.

Hunting Ground comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 23 GB

Feature: 21.7 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape and any source related debris is minimal. Colors, image clarity and black levels look strong throughout.

Audio: 4.5/5

This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Spanish and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Spanish language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel and an archival interview with director Jordi Grau (49 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Spanish with removable English subtitles).

Summary:

Though Jorge Grau is most remembered for a pair of horror films he directed, The Legend of Blood Castle and The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. He was a versatile filmmaker who worked in most of cinema’s genres. His other notable films are Violent Blood Bath, Hunting Ground and Love Letters to a Nun.

Jorge Grau’s Hunting Ground a revenge themed tale that's overflowing with social commentary. At the heart of Hunting Ground is a film that explores crime and punishment, and the effects that both of these things have on society. The narrative revolves around a defense attorney who believes that everyone is redeemable and that punishment handed down to the convicted is counterproductive. Along the way, her lifer intersects with a vicious gang of criminals who murder her husband during a home invasion. From there she’s forced to go against everything she believes in when it becomes clear that her only way of surviving her tormentors is becoming them.

From a production standpoint, there’s no area where Hunting Ground does not deliver and then some. The crime and punishment premise is superbly realized and the narrative does a great job maintaining tension. With the finale providing an excellent conclusion to the events that have unfolded.

Mondo Macabro have put together another impressive release that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and an insightful interview with Jorge Grau who discusses his most celebrated films, highly recommended.









Written by Michael Den Boer

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Howl of the Devil – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1988
Director: Paul Naschy
Writers: Paul Naschy, Salvador Sáinz
Cast: Paul Naschy, Caroline Munro, Howard Vernon, Fernando Hilbeck, Mabel Ordóñez, Sergio Molina

Release Date: June 8th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 96 Minutes 56 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Spanish
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Hector Doriani a stage and screen actor who feels himself living in the shadow of his dead twin brother, Alex Doriani – the latter once a famous star of horror movies. Alex’s young son, Adrian, now lives with Hector in his brother’s isolated mansion in the countryside. To keep alive the memory of his father, the boy imagines himself visited by the spirit of the dead man, incarnated in a series of classic horror characters from the past. Eric, Alex Doriani’s former butler, now also works for Hector. His main role is to locate and bring to the mansion a series of women who are paid large sums of money by Hector to take part in various sadistic sex games. To complicate matters even further, the games always seem to end with the women getting slaughtered in various gruesome ways by a black gloved, masked killer." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “brand new 4k transfer from film negative”.

The Howl of the Devil comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 37.4 GB

Feature: 26.4 GB

The source used for this transfer is in great shape. Colors are nicely saturated, image clarity looks strong throughout and black levels look very good.

Audio: 4.5/5

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

Extras:

Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel, an archival making of featurette (27 minutes 8 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Spanish with removable English subtitles), an interview with actor Sergio Molina titled Adrian Speaks! (36 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Spanish with removable English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Troy Guinn and Rod Barnett (The Naschycast).

Summary:

There’s no denying Paul Naschy’s affection for horror cinema. Over the course of his six-decade career he portrayed horror cinema’s most celebrated monsters. With the character he most remembered portraying being a werewolf named Waldemar Daninsky.

By the late 1980’s European horror cinema no longer was able to draw international audiences like it did during its heyday the 1970’s. Though, Paul Naschy continued to make films until his death. Paul Naschy's career reached its apex in 1983 with Panic Beats and The Beast and The Magic Sword.

Content wise, The Howl of the Devil features all the elements that have become synonymous with his most celebrated films. The superbly realized premise allows Paul Naschy to portray several iconic monsters Frankenstein's Monster, Mr. Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, Waldemar Daninsky, and Quasimodo and The Devil. Also, there’s never a shortage of gory murder set pieces and naked women.

Though the opening setup has a dark tone, outside of the kill scenes the overall tone is more playful than sinister. With the scenes where Paul Naschy’s characters interact with a boy who’s portrayed by his son Sergio Molina being the most heartfelt of his career.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where The Howl of the Devil does not excel. The excellent premise gives Paul Naschy plenty to work with and he gives what is arguably the strongest performance of his career. The well-executed narrative ensures there’s never a dull moment and the visuals are overflowing with atmosphere.

Mondo Macabro continues to shine a light on the cinema of Paul Naschy by giving his films solid audio/video presentation and insightful extras Paul Naschy, highly recommended.









Written by Michael Den Boer

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A Ghost Waits – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2020
Director: Adam Stovall
Writers: MacLeod Andrews, Adam Stovall, Matt Taylor
Cast: MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Sydney Vollmer, Amanda Miller

Release Date: May 3rd, 2021 (UK), May 4th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Time: 85 Minutes 52 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK), $39.95 (USA)

"Tasked with renovating a neglected rental home, handyman Jack (MacLeod Andrews, They Look Like People, Doctor Sleep) quickly finds out why the tenants keep leaving in droves - this house is haunted. The ghost in question is Muriel (Natalie Walker), herself employed from beyond the veil to keep the home vacant. Against the odds, Jack and Muriel find they have a lot in common... pulse notwithstanding. Having found a kindred spirit in an otherwise lonely existence, they must fight for their newfound affection as pressure mounts for them each to fulfil their "cross-purposes"." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “The High Definition master was provided by the filmmakers”,

A Ghost Waits comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 38.5 GB

Feature: 22.9 GB

Shot on digital, the source used for this transfer looks great. Contrast, black levels and image clarity look solid.

Audio: 4.5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, an image gallery, a trailer for A Ghost Waits (2 minutes 25 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), outtakes (12 minutes 16 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Frightfest Glasgow 2020: interview (10 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and post-film Q&A (13 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Cast & Crew Interviews: actor/producer/writer/sound design MacLeod Andrews (21 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), executive producer Deborah Parag (7 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), executive producer M.F. Thomas (11 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), director of photography Michael C. Potter (13 minutes 25 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), actress Sydney Vollmer (11 minutes 42 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), composer/co-lyricsit Margaret Darling  (8 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), composer Mitch Bain (9 minutes 30 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), and director/writer/producer/etc Adam Stovall (29 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), video essay by film historian Isabel Custodio titled Humanity and the Afterlife in A Ghost Waits (15 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), three audio commentaries: the first audio commentary is with Adam Stovall, the second audio commentary is with Adam Stovall and MacLeod Andrews, and the third audio commentary is with Adam Stovall, Michael C. Potter, MacLeod Andrews, and Sydney Vollmer, a limited-edition slipcover and a limited first pressing twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Worked to Death(and Beyond): A Ghost Waits in a Capitalist World written by Craig Ian Mann and information about the transfer.

Summary:

Though many films have tried to mix horror and humor. Most horror/comedy hybrids come up short because they force humor instead of letting it evolve organically within the narrative. With examples of films that successfully mix horror and humor being few and far between.

A Ghost Waits is a good example of why one should not judge a book by its cover. Though the trailer and synopsis give a good idea of what to expect. The result is a film that often surprises and exceeds expectations.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where A Ghost Waits comes up short. The premise is superbly realized and the narrative is a satisfying mix of humor, horror, and romance. Also, the two leads MacLeod Andrews and Natalie Walkerare very good in their respective roles.

A Ghost Waits gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

The Stylist: Limited Edition – Arrow Video (Blu-ray/CD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2020
Director: Jill Gevargizian
Writers: Jill Gevargizian, Eric Havens, Eric Stolze
Cast: Najarra Townsend, Brea Grant, Davis DeRock, Sarah McGuire, Jennifer Seward, Millie Milan, Kimberly Igla, Laura Kirk

Release Date: June 7th, 2021 (UK), June 8th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Time: 104 Minutes 24 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), R (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK), $39.95 (USA)

"We all dream of being someone else… but for Claire (Najarra Townsend, Contracted), that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Hairstylist by day, serial killer and collector of scalps by night, Claire’s lonely existence is thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia (Brea Grant, After Midnight, Lucky), asks her to style her hair for her wedding day. Increasingly fixated on Olivia’s seemingly flawless life, Claire vows to lock up her scalp collection and change her ways for good – only to discover that repressing your deadly desires is easier said than done…" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “The High Definition master was provided by XYZ Films”.

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

Disc Size: 46.5 GB

Feature: 26.9 GB

Shot on digital, the source used for this transfer looks great. Image clarity, colors and black levels look solid throughout.

Audio: 4.5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The Stylist is a dialog driven film, dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, the soundtrack sounds appropriately robust and ambient sounds are well-represented. 

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, a double-sided fold-out poster, two image galleries (production stills and location scouting), teaser trailer for The Stylist (1 minute 3 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), trailer for The Stylist (1 minute 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), two short films: The Stylist (14 minutes 58 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and Pity with optional introduction by director John Pata (9 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), original kickstarter video for The Stylist (2 minutes 30 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), outtakes (6 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), location scouting (4 minutes 12 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), behind-the-scenes featurettes: Short to Feature (22 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), “WTF Claire?” (10 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), “Olivia” (4 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Women in Film (3 minutes 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Film Family (6 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Designing The Stylist (10 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Filming in KC (5 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and Kansas City Chiefs! (3 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), visual essay by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, exploring the themes of women’s labor and female killers in The Stylist and horror cinema titled The Invisible Woman (20 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with co-writer/producer/director Jill Gevargizian and actress/producer Najarra Townsend, an introduction by Jill Gevargizian (45 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a limited-edition slipcover, a limited-edition CD containing the original The Stylist Soundtrack and a limited first pressing twenty-eight-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled The Stylist: A Case of Mistaken Identity written by Emma Westwood, Location Scouting/Final Film Comparisons and information about the transfer.

Summary:

Though horror films are the most resilient genre that first-time filmmaker's are drawn to. Ultimately there are too many by the numbers horror films that bring nothing new to the table. That said, the most memorable horror films are the ones that keep you guessing.

Based solely on premise The Stylist is a film that sets expectations high. And though the opening moments do a great job laying the foundation for the events leading up to The Stylist’s gruesome ending. The bulk of the narrative is best described as a melodrama with a few gory set pieces.

From a production standpoint, there are not many areas where The Stylist does not succeed. The premise is well-executed and the two leads Najarra Townsend and Brea Grant deliver solid performances. With the visuals being The Stylist’s greatest asset.

The Stylist gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, recommended.









Written by Michael Den Boer

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

Hunting Ground – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray) Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1983 Director: Jorge Grau Writers: Antonio de Jaén, Manuel Summers,...