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    The Casual Vacancy (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 3rd, 2015

    How do you follow up the biggest publishing phenomenon of the last 20 years? Well, if you’re J.K. Rowling, you excise all talk of horcruxes and Hogwarts and supplant it with warring parish council members and the idyllic village of Pagford. That’s the setting for The Casual Vacancy, Rowling’s 2012 follow-up to the Harry Potter series. The book has been adapted by BBC and HBO into a three-part miniseries. With its small-town setting and 23(!) main characters, the series simultaneously feels quaint and sprawling. It also made me wish I was able to spend more than three hours with these people.
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    Witches of East End: Season 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Deborah Bostock-Kelley on August 2nd, 2015

    Loosely based on Melissa de la Cruz’s book, Witches of East End was renewed for a second season in July 2014, opening with over 1 million viewers scrambling to the TV set to see what would happen now that the portal of Asgard was opened and Joanna was struggling to overcome Argentium poisoning. Featuring Julia Ormond as the matriarch Joanna Beauchamp, she is parked in the middle of lofty tales of the supernatural ,which are commonplace to this unusual family. If you’ve been following the trials and tribulations of the Beauchamp brood, you already know these aren’t the wart-nosed witches of your childhood storybooks.
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    William S. Burroughs In The Dreamachine

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on August 2nd, 2015

    The DVD release of In The Dream Machine makes a number of promises. It promises to show rare footage of William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. It does, but only in the broadest interpretation of that concept. It has a blurb from famed avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger which says, “More interesting than most documentaries in that it is presented in the way Burroughs writes”. I flat out disagree with that. It does show Burroughs extensively, but mostly in incoherent or unflattering segments. The film is incompetently edited and put together with a slapdash of offbeat and unintelligible segments.
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    Ghost Town (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 30th, 2015

    Shout Factory has brought yet another 1980’s Empire Pictures horror film to high definition on Blu-ray. This is another one of those Schlock-O-Rama films that are best viewed with a group of friends. While it’s certainly a step ahead of some recent entries on this list, there’s plenty of fun to be had in a gathering. This release also has the advantage of just one film on the disc. Of course, I’m talking about Ghost Town, directed by Richard Governor, but did you know that Mac Ahlberg of Ghoulies and Re-Animator fame was an uncredited assistant director on the film? The man’s a pretty good cinematographer, and his eye lends itself to a better-looking shoot with more atmosphere than you might ordinarily find on these things.
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    Helix: Season Two

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 29th, 2015

    It’s almost upon us. After many long years and two less-than-stellar films, the original X-Files is returning to its rightful place on television. In the years since it left the airwaves, there have been many attempts to recreate its style and place in the hearts of fans. Helix was an attempt to take something that would have been a great X-Files episodes and turn it into a complete series franchise of its own. You remember the scenario. Mulder and Scully would be locked in the arctic where an ancient disease or worm would contaminate the people there. It would be up to these guys to solve the mystery and rescue what was left of the base scientists.
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    Joan Rivers Box Set

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on July 28th, 2015

    Joan Rivers left behind an enormous legacy after leaving us in September of 2014. Known for her sharp wit and celebrity stings, the comedienne proved she was a force to be reckoned with. Most known for her television vehicle Fashion Police (started in 2002 and still running), she has had a major influence in the world of comedy, and her death really shook that world. Perhaps my favorite project she has worked on was the brilliantly-titled In Bed With Joan. While televised, it was also released as a podcast.
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    White God (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 27th, 2015

    At this risk of going all 30 for 30 on you, what if I told you one of the most layered, soulful performances I’ve seen all year comes courtesy of a canine? White God is a hypnotic, Hungarian parable about a girl and her dog. Sounds simple enough, but director Kornel Mundruczo places an unprecedented amount of storytelling responsibility on non-CGI, four-legged performers. The results are occasionally uneven, but frequently spellbinding.
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    Ex Machina (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 23rd, 2015

    “You wanna see something cool?”

    If you’re old enough to remember audio tape, you might be old enough to remember Memorex. If you remember Memorex, you should recall their popular slogan: “Is it live or is it Memorex?”. Of course, the idea was that the tape quality was so good you couldn’t distinguish it from the real thing. What if robotics and artificial intelligence reached that same plateau? The point where you could not tell the difference between an actual human being and an artificial one.
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    Amazing Space: An Audio/Visual Meditation on the Cosmos

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 23rd, 2015

    Amazing Space is a three-disc set (Blu-Ray, DVD and CD) that is essentially an ambient experience. There is actually a lot that I can say about the presentation, but it is not complicated on its surface. The cover picture shows a young woman in a silhouette sitting in a lotus position. That speaks volumes as well (as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words). The movie takes us on a musical journey from Earth to the farthest reaches of space and back again. The music can best be described as New Age and meditative. Again that is very important to the purpose of this presentation.
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    What We Do in the Shadows (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 23rd, 2015

    “When you get four vampires in a flat, obviously there’s going to be a lot of tension.”

    The set-up for What We Do in the Shadows makes it sound less like your typical vampire movie and more like some kind of twisted season of The Real World. (Well…slightly more twisted than usual.) But besides finding a funny way to skewer bratty roommates and the mundaneness of everyday life, the movie works as a cheeky celebration of the classical cinematic bloodsucker.
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    Ancient Aliens: Season 7 – Volume 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 22nd, 2015

    “Millions of people around the world believe we have been visited in the past by extraterrestrial beings. What if it were true? Did ancient aliens really help to shape our history? And if so, what if there were clues left behind, something hiding in plain sight? What if we could find that evidence?”

    Ever since Eric von Daniken released his speculative book and its subsequent 1970 film Chariots of the Gods, there has been an entire field of study created around something commonly called Ancient Astronaut Theory, the idea is that extraterrestrials have visited many of our ancient civilizations.
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    WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 22nd, 2015

    “Baby, if you’ve ever wondered, wondered whatever became of me, I’m living on the air in Cincinnati,
    Cincinnati, WKRP. “

    It almost sounds like a take on Harry Chapin’s WOLD, and in many ways it is. The song was hot for a while on radio stations. It seems that DJ’s couldn’t resist songs about DJ’s. Who saw that coming? Of course, the song is the opening theme to WKRP In Cincinnati. The show is back on DVD thanks to the folks at Shout Factory.
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    The Jokesters

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on July 22nd, 2015

    Jokesters takes a long time to get to the point. The plot is extremely long-winded to the point that I questioned if the long awaited gruesome stuff would ever come. More time was spent on the setup, specifically the wedding reception sequence, than on the actual climatic events of the movie. Some of the setup was entertaining but it didn’t take long before I was considering hitting the fast-forward button just to get to the good stuff. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I put the disc in, but it didn’t take long for me to put together all that was going to happen (well, maybe not all; don’t want to come off like a know-it-all).
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    The Legend of the Lone Ranger (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 20th, 2015

    Who is that masked man?”

    That’s actually a loaded question when it comes the famously troubled 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger. It obviously refers to the masked former Texas Ranger who battles outlaws in the Old West, but it also applies to star Klinton Spilsbury, who never made a movie after this one. The question could also be a nod to the producers of this film suing actor Clayton Moore — who famously played the Lone Ranger on TV and film in the 1950s — to prevent him from appearing as his signature character in public. Unfortunately, none of that fascinating information is included (or even hinted at) on this bare bones Blu-ray.
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    Singularity Principle

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 19th, 2015

    The Singularity Principle has two recognizable character actors, John Diehl (Miami Vice, The Shield, Escape From New York, Stripes) and William B. Davis (the smoking man from The X-Files), but is a low-budget Canadian production. It was filmed at the Canadian light source Synchrotron in Saskatoon, which adds considerably to its production value. It is a believable technical and scientific workplace. The film is co-written and directed by physicist Dr. David Deranian and is very focused on the scientific aspects of the story, at least those are the most successful elements of the film. The story deals with experiments conducted involving the Einstein-Rosen Bridge, which involves what is on the other side of black holes and wormholes.
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    Cellar Dweller / Catacombs (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 17th, 2015

    “The devil can touch you and leave his mark. Just so he doesn’t steal your soul.”

    You might say that the devil made them do it. Shout Factory utilizes their Scream Factory moniker to deliver another doubleheader horror-fest from the 1980’s. Many of us love to be touched by a little evil, so long as it’s some harmless fun from a horror movie. While I’m not a huge fan of having two or more films on one disc, this pretty much amounts to the same as the standard four episodes on a disc that you’ll find in many television releases in high definition.
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    Pretty Face is Going to Hell: Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dustin P. Anderson on July 17th, 2015

    Gary is a low-level demon trying to find different ways to make it up the corporate ladder in hell. He is also a slacker who doesn’t know the first thing about being a demon, despite his length of time in hell. Claude is a new demon who is sent to intern for Gary but ends up outshining him. As Claude rises to the top, Gary must attempt to gain some sort of recognition for his years of servitude to the dark lord, lest he be forced to shovel coal into hell for eternity. This show isn’t one of Adult Swim’s funniest creations, but it is still funny. This isn’t going to be an instant favorite of mine, like Metalocalypse or Too Many Cooks, but it was a nice watch nonetheless.
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    The Outing / The Godsend (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 15th, 2015

    At the end of 2013 Shout Factory released a horror marathon on DVD called Scream Factory All Night Marathon. OK, so it only had four films averaging about 90 minutes each, hardly all night. But it was a nice collection of more obscure 1980’s horror that made a rather nice night in with the boys…or the girls. Two of those films have now found their way to a single Blu-ray disc and released by…you guessed it, Shout’s Scream Factory division. While I’m not a huge fan of having two or more films on one disc, this pretty much amounts to the same as the standard four episodes on a disc that you’ll find in many television releases in high definition.
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    Borderline

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on July 15th, 2015

    I’m such a big fan of the late Charles Bronson. Though I have not seen every film on his résumé, I have seen enough to know that if you give that man a gun, you have a movie. From his leading roles in Once Upon a Time in the West and the Death Wish franchise, to his supporting roles in The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven: if he is in it, I want to see it. Perhaps he is best known for his leading roles as hardened vigilantes or silent hit men, but it is safe to say, you are not watching Borderline for the story. You are watching it for Bronson.
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    All Quiet On The Western Front:The Uncut Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 15th, 2015

    “This story is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war” – Erich Maria Remarque

    Like most people from my generation, I suspect, I saw this version of All Quiet On The Western Front first in a high school history class. I can’t for the moment recall if it had been a world history class or American history.
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    Mutant Planet: Season 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Deborah Bostock-Kelley on July 14th, 2015

    As one who uses animal shows as a precursor to taking a nap — much like Pavlov’s theory when I hear the melodious voice of the narrator, I drift off into a restful slumber — I expected the same experience with the second season of Science Channel’s Mutant Planet. Having never experienced season one, with popcorn and large cup of coffee in hand, sitting – not reclining — in my living room recliner – I was ready to ward off the yawns. Boy, was I was wrong. Mutant Planet Season Two in its glorious five-episode 220-minute runtime is, in one word, amazing. I was not expecting to say “wow” every 10 or so minutes, but that’s exactly what I did watching what animals did to adapt to their ever-changing surroundings.
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    Kill Me Three Times (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 14th, 2015

    “What you’re talking about is a one-way street, you understand? Once you start there is no going back.”

    Ah, but there is going back if you’re watching Kill Me Three Times. I don’t necessarily mean that you’ll want to watch the film over again (you might). Kill Me Three Times is a bit of a collection of vignettes that continue to circle back upon each other. Each time you get a different perspective or a bit of new information is unveiled. For those of you who insist on a linear logic to your films, this one’s not for you. In fact, those of you who insist on logic at all might not quite get this one.
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    71

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on July 14th, 2015

    Typically I do not seek out modern war films for leisure watching. They may take great strides to make battles seem realistic, or just more extreme. Normally with the focus on cinematography and editing, the depth of the story is sacrificed in the process. Sure, you have a narrative to follow, but ultimately what satisfies is the visual masterpiece. For me, ’71 followed this pattern accurately, though I was pleasantly surprised with the visuals, as they went above and beyond my expectations.
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    Absolution (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 13th, 2015

    I wanna tell you something. I’ve been a bad man…I’ve been a very bad man most of my life. So, I decided I want to do one thing in my life. One good thing in my life before I die.”

    Those words are spoken by elite contract killer John Alexander at the start of Absolution, a straight-to-DVD offering that is largely cobbled together from the spare parts of other junky action flicks. The film stars Steven Seagal, who was a very bad man on-screen during his early ’90s heyday. John wants to do one good thing before his time is up; coincidentally, all I want is for Seagal to make one action movie that at least comes close to recapturing the spark that made him a star. Absolution is not that film.
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    Echoes of War

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on July 10th, 2015

    I have often wondered how blood feuds got started in the western times. The Hatfield and McCoy feud is the most legendary, of course, except before long how the whole ordeal started just became a bunch of he said/she said. In the case of Echoes of War, it turns out that the feud that is sparked between the McCluskeys and the Rileys began over a just cause; however, the battle was bit one-sided and slow-paced for my liking. Not the mention the film does a bit of a 360 on me that really turns me against the person I spent the entire movie sympathizing with.
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