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    Ice – Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on May 23rd, 2017

    It’s not often that a show can come along that impresses me with its talent in front of and behind the camera; then when the show premieres, it is just bad for a couple of episodes and then manages to bounce back.  There are just so many options that if you don’t come out swinging, your show is going to be passed up for something else. I still feel like we’re in the Golden Age of television despite some of the best series in the past decade having already been retired from the airwaves (Breaking Bad is sorely missed despite Better Call Saul).  There is still so much out there that sometimes good stuff gets overlooked, and it’s not till DVD rolls around that you can discover a show, and that is the case for the new series Ice.
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    The Frank Sinatra Collection: The Timex Shows Vol. 1 & 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 18th, 2017

    “Just give us those good old songs.”

    Last year Eagle Vision released four discs that were collectively known as The Frank Sinatra Collection. But when a man’s been singing for nearly 70 years, you can’t hold a career like that on just four discs. There was always going to have to be more. The more arrived in the shape of three more DVD’s brimming with Sinatra vintage shows. But that still wasn’t going to be enough. Now there are two more discs that bring us the classic Frank Sinatra Timex specials. This was a series of four specials that aired in 1959/1960. Each had a theme that carried through the broadcast hour.
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    Saving Banksy

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on May 9th, 2017

    When it comes to graffiti art there is only one name that comes to mind, and it’s Banksy. Before checking out this documentary I had no clue that graffiti art was actually something people took seriously, beyond gang tags and little kids marking up a wall for fun. Apparently there are numerous acclaimed graffiti artists around the world, artists who define themselves with their own unique style and message they’d like to share with the rest of the world, even if their message will most likely be painted over.  In 2010 Banksy came to San Francisco to vandalize some walls with a little paint, and it was enough to create a buzz across the city about what the artist would do, and out of that spawned this unique documentary that explores the value of graffiti art.
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    Streets of San Francisco: The Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 8th, 2017

    If you weren’t around in the 1970’s you might be surprised to find out that film superstar Michael Douglas was once in a television cop show. It was this influential crime drama that allowed Douglas to show off the acting chops that would earn him a spot in the Hollywood elite for decades to come. It didn’t hurt any that he was able to team up with Karl Malden, an undervalued talent in his own right. The two of them literally bring the show to life.  The series was run by Quinn Martin, himself no stranger to groundbreaking television. Martin was the same talent who created the crime drama with The Untouchables. His uncanny ability to come up with a clever premise was responsible for such milestones in television history as The Invaders and The Fugitive. Later he would continue to shape the look of television
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    Apocalypse Child

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on May 4th, 2017

    It is always interesting to see how the history of cinema weaves its way back into the art form, especially when it is incorporated into the narrative itself. For example E. Elias Merhige’s  Shadow of the Vampire (2000) constructs its narrative around a fictional filming of F.W. Murnau’s  Nosferatu (1922). Recently, Gary Oldman announced his interest in writing and directing Flying Horse, a biopic of Eadward Muybridge, one of the founding fathers of moving images as we know them. Cinema is the only art I am aware of that artists take strides to be self-reflexive for the sake of appreciation of the medium. Apocalypse Child (2015) toys with self-reflexivity, but in a very unique way: It portrays cinema as a quasi-mythical presence through alluding to Francis Ford Coppola’s hellish stretch of filming Apocalypse Now (1979) in the Philippines.
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    The Affair: Season Three

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 4th, 2017

    I thought it was dull…unless it was supposed to be a satire.”

    Television has been trending toward shorter, more self-contained stories. Successful shows like American Horror Story, Fargo, American Crime, and others reboot themselves every year with new characters and storylines in an attempt to offer viewers something fresh each season. The Affair seemed ready-made for that formula: each season could’ve followed different adulterous encounters in a wide variety of settings. Instead, the perspective-shifting Showtime drama is determined to chronicle the far-reaching effects of a single Long Island dalliance. So while the show brushes up against some interesting relationship dynamics, it feels like it has stretched a thin concept beyond its breaking point.
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    Vega$: The Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 1st, 2017

    By 1978 the television detective model had been nearly complete and possibly already a cliché. Dan Tanna might have well been the complete model as far as the formula goes. It was almost as if you could go down a checklist and, like Dr. Frankenstein creating a monster, you would check off the necessary elements. The scripts could then almost write themselves, and you let the show fly on autopilot for three seasons or so until someone decides to look behind the curtain.
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    The Vampire Bat

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on April 30th, 2017

    The early 1930’s was an excellent time for production of horror films. 1931 saw the classic productions of Frankenstein and Dracula, and 1932 The Mummy and White Zombie. These are all what I would call genre-defining films: they have refined the formulaic plots (mad scientist, supernatural threat) that came before them, but did so while incorporating the famous images we see today. Think about it; 80 years later and we still see Frankenstein’s monster with a flattened head and bolts, or Dracula with the jet-black widow’s peak and cape. As iconic as these films have become, there are countless productions that have flown under the radar of popularity. Frank R. Strayer’s The Vampire Bat is one such film that is worthy of more attention.
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    Chupacabra Territory

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 25th, 2017

    I have to admit I’m a sucker for cryptozoology, and stories about chupacabras and Bigfoot are fun to talk about. In the reality-TV-show world, there are many shows that have people travelling in the woods in search of evidence of these creatures. The proof is sketchy at best, but still it makes for entertaining television. Now we have the found-footage film Chupacabra Territory that dares to take us on an adventure into chupacabra territory where four hikers manage to get lost in the woods.  Is the found footage worth checking out? Well, that all depends how big a fan of the found-footage genre you happen to be.
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    The Circus Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 17th, 2017

    Ben Franklin once said that there are two things that no one should see made. He was talking about sausage and laws. In the 18th century most people had little exposure to the workings of their government. Campaigns were waged on the road in public squares, and seldom by the person running for office. Party nominations were held in halls attended only by the party faithful. It was here in the span of a few days that a nomination would be haggled out of the delegates who attended. Since the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, the selection of nominees was handed to the registered voters, usually of the party in a series of primary elections that begin in January of each election year. The campaigning has become intense and now often begins nearly a year before that first nomination struggle.
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    Drunk History: Season Four

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on April 11th, 2017

    Drunk History is a good example of a good idea that lost steam very quickly. I remember when initial idea was aired as a web series produced by Funny or Die in 2007, and it was a rather brilliant idea. The show was not picked up by a major network for six years; then in the summer of 2013, it made its premiere on Comedy Central. Granted, I remember being excited about this premiere. However, about midway through that first season, I realized how too much of a great idea can be a bad thing. The format just became tiresome and dull after a few episodes. Now, four years later, the show has returned for four entire seasons, but it definitely feels it has run its course.
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    Archer: Season 7

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 6th, 2017

    With Season 8 gearing up, Season 7 of Archer makes its way onto DVD, for many to binge and catch up before the season premiere. I have to admit this was a show I had watched perhaps a handful of episodes but I could never quite get into.  I’ll admit at times I can be a bit thick-headed when it comes to watching an animated series. After repeated requests (or demands that may or may not have been at gunpoint), I settled in and binged a season of Archer.  To my surprise, I had a blast with the show and quickly devoured more episodes which finally caught me up to Season 7.  So what trouble has the former world’s greatest secret agent, Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) gotten himself into?
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    Split

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 30th, 2017

    Let me preface this review by clarifying that this is not M. Night Shyamalan’s 2016 thriller about a dangerous man with different personalities. Instead, this review addresses Deborah Kampmeier’s Split (2016). It is an unfortunate circumstance for films to share the same name when released in the same year, especially if one of the directors has a considerable amount of fame under his belt. Thankfully, Kampmeier’s film came through the Upcoming Discs hub; otherwise, I might never have heard about it through my traditional consumption. Split is most certainly worth the watch, but the imagery is uncomfortably intense for the majority of the film. To the average film consumer, I offer a fair warning to stay away. However, Split delivers image after image of disturbing symbolism, nearing the caliber of Alejandro Jodorowski.
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    When Calls The Heart: The Heart Of Faith

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on March 27th, 2017

    I am not the target audience for this Hallmark Channel series. Despite this fact, it was not hard to find something to like about When Calls the Heart: Heart of Faith. This Christmas special which takes place between the Season 3 finale and the impending Season 4 premiere tugs on the heartstrings and provides a festive feeling in the month of March. Odd, I know, but who says you can only have holiday cheer during the winter season? More than that, the special preaches the true meaning of Christmas as we watch a town come together to accomplish something not for themselves but for the betterment of the committee.
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    Bloodrunners

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 20th, 2017

    We’ve reached a point where I’m starting to wonder if there is anything new that can be brought to the vampire genre. They may not be my favorite horror creature, but vampire movies tend to be fun for the most part, and being fun is mostly what we look for when we decide to check out a horror film. Bloodrunners attempts to show us something new, taking us back to the prohibition era of the 1930’s, but is this a trip worth taking? Grab a bottle of hooch and a stake for the road, because it’s nightfall, and I’m about to dive into this vampire tale.
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    Joe Bullet

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 12th, 2017

    When it comes to exploitation films you really are rolling the dice when you find a title you’ve never heard of and you decide to watch it. Through the 60’s and 70’s there were countless exploitation films that covered many genres, many of which were sold to audiences by a cool-looking poster and catchy title.  Sex and violence were the major exploits with these films, and at this time there was also the birth of black cinema, or simply blacksploitation films.  Many have heard of Foxy Brown, The Mack, and Truck Turner, but for all these hits there were many more misses, and it’s the lost gems of the era that film geeks get excited over.  Just because a film wasn’t a hit at the time didn’t mean the film was no good; many just fell between the cracks, and Joe Bullet just happens to be one of those titles.
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    Resistance

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 12th, 2017

    Resistance was first released in the UK in 2011, and it saw its first DVD release two years ago in Finland. Now in 2017, the US is finally getting DVD distribution. However, like most distribution marketing strategies, the cover, DVD home screen, and advertised star power are an inaccurate depiction of what the film actually offers. While the film has many strengths, all the imagery that you get prior to actually watching the film (the cover and home screen), prepare you for what you think is going to be an interesting WWII-themed thriller with possible action sequences. Instead, Resistance is an interesting, yet severely slow-paced character study that doesn’t necessarily follow its own plot description.
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    Star Trek: Voyager – The Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 10th, 2017

    Star Trek Voyager was the third spinoff from the original Star Trek, following the superior Next Generation and the inferior Deep Space Nine. While the idea was quite an original premise, the cast never seemed to gel. The obvious attempt at political correctness gives us the most diverse cast yet on Star Trek, including the first female captain. Kate Mulgrew is the weakest captain to date on Star Trek. (I know I’ll catch heat for this.) The reason is not her gender, but such a lack of strength. She never walks, but seems to glide across the bridge when she moves. The strongest characters come in Tom Paris, the Federation inmate, and Torres, the half-Klingon, half-human hybrid. There is real passion in those characters that keeps the cast interesting enough. The combination of Federation and Maquis (a rebel Federation group) members was a great setup that too quickly gets tossed aside in later years. There’s plenty of Star Trek eye candy and a whole new quadrant of aliens to meet here. It had been quite some time for me since I had seen Voyager
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    Slasher.com

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 9th, 2017

    Contemporary horror films are in a really strange position. Gone are the days of the formulaic slasher flick or creature feature. Today we have filmmakers who only seem interested in breaking genre conventions in order to try something new and be deemed “relevant.” As  a result, we are treated to an intellectually-driven horror renaissance with films such as It Follows or The Babadook, or we must sit through the onslaught of torture-porn-infused sequels to 70’s and 80’s classics such as Evil Dead (2013), I Spit on Your Grave (2010), or The Last House on the Left (2009). If the filmmaker is trying to break genre conventions, it is important to note that they do not always succeed, as is the case with Slasher.com.
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    The King of New Orleans

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 2nd, 2017

    I don’t know what it is with this place. I don’t want to call it voodoo because that’s so cliché and you guys probably hate that down here…but there’s definitely a feel.”

    To say that a certain city is “almost like another character” in a movie has become somewhat commonplace. The phrase is usually applied to films where directors have placed an inordinate emphasis on the background and setting of their stories. By that standard, The King of New Orleans doesn’t simply cast The Big Easy as “almost like another character”…the city gets a starring role.
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    Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 23rd, 2017

    Before there was South Park, in 1993 MTV released the coolest cartoon that was out there when they began to air Beavis and Butt-Head.  When it came to animated shows, there really wasn’t much out there that appealed to the average teenage boy, but MTV understood their audience and took a chance on creator Mike Judge’s little series that was virtually an overnight sensation.  The blend of having a short animated series mixed in with music videos that the show’s characters would deliver their commentary from the torn up sofa was the perfect blend for what would be an unexpected pop-culture movement.  Looking back at the series with older eyes, I can understand why my parents rolled their eyes about my urgency to get home to watch the new episode of Beavis and Butt-Head
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    Quarry: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 22nd, 2017

    I’m not as comfortable as you are with the notion of killing other human beings.”

    Remember that time about six months ago when NFL star Colin Kaepernick set off a firestorm of controversy by repeatedly kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest? A big part of the outrage was tied to the notion that Kaepernick’s actions were disrespectful to members of the U.S. military. One of the most striking things about Quarry — Cinemax’s compelling, well-rounded Vietnam War-era drama — is how it depicts a period not that long ago in our country’s history when veterans were openly treated with venom and vitriol that went way beyond someone taking a knee.
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    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 15th, 2017

    “It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives day by day, and we explore the galaxy trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here: not to conquer you with weapons or ideas, but to coexist and learn.” 

    No Star Trek series has divided Trek fans as much as the 1993 release of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
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    The Crooked Man

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on February 15th, 2017

    Have no fear, Michael Jai White is here, in a role that is outside the norm that has been established for him in recent years. You know the one, kicking ass and taking names, usually without a shirt on. However, in The Crooked Man, a horror film, he is doing quite the opposite, and also unlike him, he is not the focal point, as the story focuses on a young girl named Olivia, who finds herself not only framed for her friend’s death at the hands of the Crooked Man, but institutionalized when no one believes her story. An intriguing premise, but a bit long in the tooth, if you know what I mean. That said, it does earn the title of best television movie of 2017 for me, but we shall see how long its reign lasts, as we are only two months into the year.
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    The Black Dragon’s Revenge

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 14th, 2017

    Exploitation film has reached a point where there are just too many subgenres to count, or to care about for that matter. This film combines three of the subgenres into one incoherent amalgamation of boredom: Blaxploitation, Kung Fu flicks, and “Brucesploitation.” While the two former concepts should be familiar outside of the realm of cinephilia, Brucesploitation may be a little more difficult to grasp. Basically, after the death of Bruce Lee, filmmakers began to capitalize on Lee’s image posthumously, by using barely passable lookalikes such as Bruce Le or Bruce Li as lead martial artists.
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