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Tremors - 25th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray + UV Copy] [1990] [Region Free]
Tremors - 25th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray + UV Copy] [1990] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Rod Underwood
Price: £7.14

5.0 out of 5 stars TREMORS [1990 / 2015] [25th Anniversary Special Edition] [Blu-ray + Digital HD ULTRAVIOLET], 5 Feb. 2016
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TREMORS [1990 / 2015] [25th Anniversary Special Edition] [Blu-ray + Digital HD ULTRAVIOLET] They Say There’s Nothing New Under the Sun! But Under the Ground!

Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward star as two country handymen who lead a cast of zany characters to safety in this exciting sci-fi creature comedy. Just as Valentine "Val" McKee [Kevin Bacon] and Earl Basset [Fred Ward] decide to leave Perfection, Nevada, strange rumblings prevent their departure. With the help of a shapely seismology student Rhonda LeBeck [Finn Carter] they discover their desolate town is infested with gigantic man-eating creatures that live below the ground. The race is on to overcome these slimy subterranean worm monsters and find a way to higher ground, in this cult classic co-starring Michael Gross and Reba McEntire. The 25th Anniversary Special Edition of this iconic movie includes a Digital HD Copy of the movie for your Digital Collection.

FILM FACT: The creature designs for Tremors were done by Amalgamated Dynamics. The full-scale graboid, that is seen after Valentine "Val" McKee digs it up, was cast in lightweight foam. It was placed in a trench, then buried, and dug up again to achieve the desired "used" effect. Burt Gummer's elephant gun, was an 8-gauge Darne shotgun, was rented from a private collector for use in the film. It "fired" dummy cartridges custom made from solid brass rod stock.

Cast: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, Reba McEntire, Robert Jayne, Charlotte Stewart, Tony Genaro, Ariana Richards, Richard Marcus, Victor Wong, Sunshine Parker, Michael Dan Wagner, Conrad Bachmann, Bibi Besch, John Goodwin, John Pappas and Tom Woodruff Jr. (Grabboid monster) (uncredited)

Director: Ron Underwood

Producers: Brent Maddock, Gale Anne Hurd and S. S. Wilson

Screenplay: Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson

Composers: Ernest Troost and Robert Folk (uncredited)

Cinematography: Alexander Gruszynski

Video Resolution: 1080p [Color by Deluxe]

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 DTS, Italian: 5.1 DTS, German: 5.1 DTS, Spanish [Castilian]: 5.1 DTS and Japanese: 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: Japanese, English SDH, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish and Japanese

Running Time: 96 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Universal Pictures UK

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘TREMORS’ [1990] is one of those rare motion pictures that fails during its theatrical run but finds new life on video. Examples of this can be found dotted throughout the VHS/DVD era of cinema post-1983, but few are as dramatic as in this case. It's not hard to see why ‘TREMORS’ ultimately became a massive cult film success. It's a decent monster film with tolerable special effects and a fair amount of tension during the action scenes. It also has a strong sense of humour and never takes itself too seriously. Horror/comedies often tread too far to one side or the other of that fine line; ‘TREMORS’ walks it like a tightrope. We jump when we're supposed to jump and laugh when we're supposed to laugh and not the other way around. Perhaps the biggest question about this film is why it took a video release before the public embraced it? With three sequels and a short-lived television series, and I had forgotten just how fresh and exciting ‘TREMORS’ was. Currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release, of this monster film has been given the high-definition treatment with a new Blu-ray release and ‘TREMORS’ has come out smelling fresh as daisies.

The ‘TREMORS’ franchise series deals with the small Nevada town of Perfection and its killer earthworm infestation. The giant subterranean monsters that stalk the land surrounding Perfection are called Graboids and they propel themselves through the dirt and snacking on as many desert-dwelling bumpkins as they can wrap their prehensile tentacles around and shove them down their palate. Eventually, the townspeople realise these underground giant worm aliens "vision" is based on movement and vibrations from the ground. This sends the townsfolk to the top of their houses to avoid making any noise. With the help and ammunition from Burt Gummer [Michael Gross] and Heather Gummer [Reba McEntire], the townsfolk seem safe, but when the aliens start destroying the houses, they all decide to make a run for the hills, which ends in one final showdown...

Kevin Bacon playing Valentine "Val" McKee and Fred Ward as Earl Bassett, lead the cast, and two boisterous handymen determined to finally leave this dirt trap of the small Nevada town of Perfection. Unfortunately, the day the two finally work up the drive to leave town is the day the Graboids decide to make their presence known. Soon, Valentine and Earl find themselves trapped in Perfection with the rest of the town’s residents and forced to hide on rooftops or on top of giant rocks for fear of their footsteps in the dirt causing vibrations that will alert the Graboid’s sharp ears.

Also included in the cast is Rhonda LeBeck [Finn Carter] as a college student in town studying the unusual seismic activities and starts to record some very strange readings underground that are caused by the Graboids presence and Reba McEntire and Michael Gross act as a pair of gun-loving survivalists whose militia training and ammo hoarding behaviour help ensure the town’s survival. Well unfortunately a few people go missing and a few dead bodies are discovered, and then the alien Graboids stick their ugly heads up from the ground and start attacking the townsfolk.

Like all redneck kaiju type films, ‘TREMORS’ effortlessly combines low-key country humour with monster film spectacle. While some horror comedies tend to pick an area that they will direct most of their efforts and leaving the other genre to shrivel up and fall off like a Doberman’s tail during docking. ‘TREMORS’ pays equal respect to both the scary and the silly, and jokes come as fast and appreciated as jump scares with the characters going from classic comedy banter to survival mode within seconds. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward’s chemistry is the thing of any kind buddy movie legend and with the two bickering like an old married couple as they attempt to stay alive without looking like total pansies in front of the hot college student in their presence.

The film’s special effects are appropriately down-to-earth and managing to work around the film’s relatively low budget and use the creature’s subterranean nature to the film’s advantage. Despite this subdued approach to effects, the film never feels like anything but a Hollywood blockbuster. Blissfully large in scale and featuring monsters with a real bite, the films effects fire on all cylinders. Taking a page out of the book of Steven Spielberg’s ‘JAWS.’ The Graboids are gradually revealed throughout the film with each new scene offering an increased glimpse at the creatures’ true nature. It's a credit to the way the film was assembled that we never once question the reality of the creatures. There's never an instance when we're pointing at the screen and laughing at something that is obviously a bunch of rubber monsters, especially when there's a lot of action during the film's final third as the characters become the hunted. The film as a whole is like that: a little action, a little gore, and then a joke to ease the tension.

There's a lot of action during the film's final third as the characters become the hunted. They have bombs and guns at their disposal, thanks to the Michael Gross and Reba McEntire characters, and a recognition that while Graboids can collapse houses, they can't get to anyone who has reached the safety of a rock outcropping. The dilemma: how to achieve the safety represented by the nearby mountains which don't seem so near when there's a massive, smelly, ugly thing giving chase from beneath, poving he's good for more than a smile and a quip, Valentine "Val" McKee puts his life at risk in a suspenseful sequence where we're sure he's a goner. The movie as a whole is like that: a little action, a little gore, and then a joke to ease the tension. One aspect I loved about this film is that none of the characters are as stupid and brainless as we're initially led to believe. Instead, once they learn about these ferocious creatures, they start planning and thinking, which most people automatically do in the same situation in the event of this catastrophe on this scale, which is what see happening in these types of films. The dialogue is hilarious, and is still quoted today amongst us cult film fans. The acting is fun and at times over-the-top, but oddly, never cheesy. Most of these actors are remembered for their roles in this film and for very good reason.

Blu-ray Video Quality – Universal Pictures UK has released this Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p encoded image, with an even more spectacular 1.85:1 aspect ratio and it looks pretty dang smooth with a crisp image and stunning vivid colours that pop out off the screen during the many scenes of the film that take place under the bright desert sun. The colours are pretty great, they shine vibrantly throughout, with the blacks running fairly deep and the flesh tones are also very natural. Luckily this release has been given a far more superior image transfer than its inferior 2010 release and definitely far superior than the inferior DVD version of the film. For the most part, though, the image is totally impressive than it was when the film was released twenty five years ago. That is why this film is amongst one of my favourites as is cult film fans among you and this upgraded image makes it well worth owning this 2015 Blu-ray remastered release and well worth the wait.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures UK has released this Blu-ray with a very impressive soundtrack that is presented in a stunning audio experience of a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and uses the various speaker channels to their full extent. The ambient noises of people screaming, rocks falling, and the aliens attacking are all loud and flow nicely from the surround speakers, especially with the rushing and grumbling of the earth coming at you from all sides of the room as the Graboids attack. The music score is also great and never drowns out dialogue or the sound effects. When the aliens pop out of the ground, and gun shots go off, the bass rumbles and the speakers pack a powerful punch and is a solid audio presentation. The Blu-ray is well worth an upgrade for anyone that already own the inferior DVD.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: The Making of ‘TREMORS’ [1990] [480i] [1.33:1] [53:38] Here we have a lengthy behind-the-scenes documentary divided into ten chapters which are "How It All Began…;" "Building Perfection;" "The Mechanical Effect;" "The Cast;" "Photography and Editing;" "The Creatures;" "The Miniatures;" "The Cliff;" "The Ending" and "Creature Featurette." You can either Play All or watch them individually. What you get to see is in-depth interviews with the filmmakers, who are Ron Underwood [Director]; Brent Maddock [Screenwriter/Producer]; Steve Wilson [Screenwriter/Producer]; Tom Woodruff, Jr. [Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.]; Alec Gillis [Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.]; Dennis Skotak [4-Ward Productions, Inc.]; Robert Skotak [4-Ward Productions, Inc.]; Fred Ward [Actor] (archive footage); Kevin Bacon [Actor] (archive footage); Reba McEntire [Actress] (archive footage) and S.S. Wilson [Screenwriter] (archive footage). You get to see loads of behind-the-scenes shwing the tricks of the trade, especially with the Graboid monster, but what makes me laugh is how Americans whoop and cheer when an effect has been seen to work, which I find a very strange situation. We also get a lot of talking about different aspects of the film with Ron Underwood [Director, as well as the casting of the actors, seeing the monsters in action, the editing, and much more. We also get to see the rare “Original Ending” that was not in the film released in the cinema. If you are a fan of this film, be sure to check this out, as it is a must view. Additional Music by John R. Graham. This is a MCA UNIVERSAL Home Video Production.

Special Feature: TREMORS Featurette [1990] [480i] [1.33:1] [3:52] This is a long promotional film from Universal Pictures, where we get to see lots of excerpts from the film, lots of behind-the-scenes filming, also of very short interviews with the cast on the set, that includes Kevin Bacon; Michael Gross and Reba McEntire. The unknown narrator makes it well worth viewing. This was actually quite funny. This is more of a Universal Pictures studio promo feature to promote the film ‘TREMORS.’

Special Feature: Kevin Bacon Profile [1990] [480i] [1.33:1] [2:54] This is basically an extension of the “TREMORS Featurette,” but where we concentrate on the actor Kevin Bacon and his involvement on the film, and we especially see Kevin actually in action in excerpts from the film ‘TREMORS’ and we also see in depth interviews with Kevin throughout the promo. This is more of a Universal Pictures studio promo feature to promote the film ‘TREMORS.’

Special Feature: Michael Gross Profile [1990] [480i] [1.33:1] [2:22] This is basically an extension of the “TREMORS Featurette,” but where we concentrate on the actor Michael Gross and his involvement on the film, and we especially see Michael actually in action in excerpts from the film ‘TREMORS’ and we also see in depth interviews with Michael throughout the promo. This is more of a Universal Pictures studio promo feature to promote the film ‘TREMORS.’

Special Feature: Reba McEntire Profile [1990] [480i] [1.33:1] [1:56] This is basically an extension of the “TREMORS Featurette,” but where we concentrate on the actor Reba McEntire and his involvement on the film, and we especially see Reba actually in action in excerpts from the film ‘TREMORS’ and we also see in depth interviews with Reba throughout the promo. This is more of a Universal Pictures studio promo feature to promote the film ‘TREMORS.’

Finally, this Universal Pictures UK release of ‘TREMORS’ was not a box office success upon its originally theatrical release. It took time and cult fan enthusiasm for the film like this to gain as much attraction as it eventually ended up achieving. Thanks to a solid performances and some genuinely funny comedy, the film managed to achieve a timeless feel that makes it a perfect catalogue title to release on Blu-ray, which helps with the stunning camera work is pretty spectacular as it mixes in some good horror film puns and even pays homage to Sam Raimi's 'Evil Dead' now and again. ‘TREMORS’ is, after all, the type of popcorn entertainment that was meant to be purchased and enjoyed with a six-pack of cheap beer and a big bag of sweet popcorn. People remember ‘TREMORS’ fondly because, while the film has enough edge-of-the-seat moments, it also gives viewers an opportunity to relax. The characters are all likeable; there are no uncomfortable factions, power-struggles, or two-legged villains. The humans don't do stupid things in the name of greed; survival is their lone goal and ‘TREMORS’ remains a fresh and engaging experience. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

The Stranger (Dual Format - Blu-ray & DVD)
The Stranger (Dual Format - Blu-ray & DVD)
Dvd ~ Orson Welles
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE STRANGER [1946 / 2015] [Blu-ray + DVD], 5 Feb. 2016
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THE STRANGER [1946 / 2015] [Blu-ray + DVD] The Most Deceitful Man A Woman Ever Loved!

Having directed two undisputed masterpieces like ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘The Magnificent Ambersons,’ Orson Welles delved into the suspense film, crafting a post-war, psychological noir that laid the foundations for his later “film noir” classics, ‘The Lady from Shanghai’ and ‘Touch of Evil.’

Edward G. Robinson stars as a government agent tracking down a sadistic Nazi officer Franz Kindler [Orson Welles], who has evaded justice for running Nazi extermination camps. Rankin has crafted a new identity for himself in a quaint Connecticut town by marrying Mary Longstreet [Loretta Young], the daughter of a local judge, but as his past begins to catch up with him will his wife side with the investigators or her husband…

Circulated in poor versions for decades, this edition of ‘THE STRANGER’ was remastered in HD [1080p] from an original 35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress and this special edition to celebrate the 100th year of the birth of Orson Welles is accompanied by a wealth of extras including “Death Mills” documentary by director Billy Wilder. Original Theatrical Trailer and an excerpt from the TV series: “Around the World with Orson Welles,” plus the radio broadcasts by Orson Welles.

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 19th Academy Awards®: Nomination: Screenplay for an Original Motion Picture Story for Victor Travis.

Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Philip Merivale, Richard Long, Konstantin Shayne, Byron Keith, Billy House, Martha Wentworth, David Bond (uncredited), John Brown (uncredited), Neal Dodd (uncredited), Nancy Evans (uncredited), Fred Godoy (uncredited), Joseph Granby (uncredited), Ethan Laidlaw (uncredited), Ruth Lee (uncredited), Lillian Molieri (uncredited), Isabel O'Madigan (uncredited), Gabriel Peralta (uncredited), Gerald Pierce (uncredited), Robert Raison (uncredited), Rebel Randall (uncredited), Johnny Sands (uncredited), Erskine Sanford (uncredited), Pietro Sosso (uncredited), Brother Theodore (uncredited) and Josephine Victor (uncredited)

Director: Orson Welles

Producer: Sam Spiegel

Screenplay: Anthony Veiller, Decla Dunning (adaptation), John Huston (uncredited), Orson Welles (uncredited) and Victor Trivas (story/ adaptation)

Composer: Bronisław Kaper

Cinematography: Russell Metty

Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: Blu-ray: English: 2.0 LPCM Dual Mono and DVD: English: Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles: None

Running Time: 94 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 2

Studio: RKO Radio Pictures / OEG Classic Movies

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Within just five years, Orson Welles had fallen from the position of Boy Genius with complete artistic control over his work to an industry-wide failure, forced to take on ‘THE STRANGER’ to prove he could work within the studio system as well as anyone. After a four-year hiatus and a lot of bad press, Orson Welles was eager to prove himself capable of bringing in a picture on time and within budget. The result was ‘THE STRANGER,’ Orson Welles's most conventional film but one which nevertheless bears some of his distinctive touches. There are also little jokes buried in each scene, as when Edward G. Robinson is knocked cold by a gymnast’s ring and the camera glances past a sign warning "use this apparatus at your own risk." But perhaps the most remarkable thing about ‘THE STRANGER,’ is that production proceeded without delays, incidents, hassles with studio executives, or the kind of scandals that marked the shooting. In that respect, it's the most un-Wellesian of any Orson Welles's film.

Orson Welles directed what is widely considered one of the all-time greatest films, ‘Citizen Kane,’ among several other acclaimed works, but his only bona fide box office success is the rarely-discussed ‘THE STRANGER.’ After the controversial debut of ‘Citizen Kane’ and the poor performance of his second directorial effort, ‘The Magnificent Ambersons,’ Orson Welles found it hard to get work as a director. He took a few years off to focus on acting and starting a family before returning to the director’s chair for the 1946 film ‘THE STRANGER.’

Orson Welles stars in ‘THE STRANGER,’ where he plays Franz Kindler, an infamous Nazi war criminal and after destroying all evidence of his past atrocities, Franz Kindler moves to a small town in Connecticut where he assumes the identity of a prep school teacher and marries Mary Longstreet [Loretta Young], the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice. He believes himself to be above suspicion, oblivious to the fact that a member of the Allied War Crimes Commission, Mr. Wilson [Edward G. Robinson], is on his trail and Mr. Wilson is charged with the task of convincing the naive Mary Longstreet of her new husband’s true identity in order to capture him.

With its game of cat and mouse and the exciting conclusion atop a clock tower, ‘THE STRANGER’ is ostensibly a standard drama-thriller. But further inspection reveals it to be more complex than that; it serves as a transitory piece in Orson Welles career. The film contains many of the artistic flourishes of his early works where Orson Welles keen direction includes several lengthy, albeit subtle, uninterrupted takes, while laying the groundwork for the “film noir” classics he would go on to create, including his follow-up feature, ‘The Lady from Shanghai.’

‘THE STRANGER’ was produced shortly after the conclusion of World War II, and although the war was over, the American people were still living in fear of another attack. The film plays on that fear, leading audiences to believe that the person sitting next to them could be secretly plotting to strike from within. The sense of unease is perpetuated by the inclusion of actual concentration camp footage; the first film to do so. It’s interesting to see Orson Welles take on a darker role rather than that of the hero, and he delivers a performance that is among his best. Edward G. Robinson’s portrayal of Mr. Wilson is equally commendable.

Years after ‘THE STRANGER’ was released Orson Welles and Edward G. Robinson spoke of how they disliked working with each other. Any conflict the two legendary actors had behind-the-scenes certainly did not show up on camera as they play off each other brilliantly. The strongest performances in the film come when the diminutive Robinson puts the lofty Welles on the defensive as he presses to learn the truth about his past. Another strong performance comes from the beautiful Loretta Young as the innocent Mary Longstreet whose steadfast will to defend her husband leads her gradually into madness.

Blu-ray Video Quality – OEG Classic Movies brings an 1080p encoded image that was mastered from archival 35mm elements which were preserved by the Library of Congress and this high-definition presentation offers a noticeable improvement, and it's apparent there were minimal restoration efforts done to this film and is presented here as is, warts and all, which is more or less a blessing in disguise. The 1.33:1 aspect ratio image displays strong definition and clarity for most of the film's runtime and overall resolution is really excellent. Fine lines and textures in various scenes are nicely detailed with some particularly revealing close-ups. A thin layer of natural grain washes over the picture and remains consistent throughout. Contrast is better balanced and accurate for the most part, as there a few instances of blooming in the highlights. Black levels too, are often rich and true with good gradational details, but some sequences appear a tad faded and murky. In the end, this is a good presentation of this film and you will not get anything better and I wish OEG Classic Movies had spent a lot more money on this classic Orson Welles film, as for me there are far too many white speckles and fine white lines running on the left hand side of the screen that keep appearing, as well horrible film gate dirt down the right hand of the screen, which too me sort of spoilt the enjoyment of the film, but unfortunately I expect other companies who have brought out this Blu-ray had the same problem, so sadly I am stuck with it, which is a shame as it is a totally brilliant tour-de-force espionage thriller film from Orson Welles. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – OEG Classic Movies brings you a choice of two audio soundtracks and on the Blu-ray it is 2.0 LPCM Dual Mono and on the DVD is Dolby Digital Mono, and very confused why they have done, which is all very strange. Vocals are cleanly and intelligibly delivered in the centre, and overall imaging comes with strong acoustical details. The design is not particularly dynamic, but the mid-range is nicely balanced and well-defined, providing the soundstage with an appreciably broad presence. Bass is pretty limited though there's just enough to give the music and the voices of actors some mild weight. All in all, it's still a good track and an improvement over its counterpart.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: ‘DEATH MILLS’ [1945] [480i] [1.33:1] [32:40] This is an information film about the Nazi Death Camps with footage that appeared briefly in ‘THE STRANGER’ film. The film starts very badly with those countdown numbers and I cannot understand why they could not have edited this out and started it where the main title appears. Also another puzzle that I do not understand is that right at the end of the documentary you get short repeats of the documentary you have just viewed. This was originally made with a German soundtrack for screening in occupied Germany and Austria, this film was the first documentary to show what the Allies found when they liberated the Nazi extermination camps: the survivors, the conditions, and the evidence of mass murder. The film includes accounts of the economic aspects of the camps' operation, the interrogation of captured camp personnel, and the enforced visits of the inhabitants of neighbouring towns, who, along with the rest of their compatriots, are blamed for complicity in the Nazi crimes, one of the few such condemnations in the Allied war records. ‘DEATH MILLS’ [‘Die Todesmühlen’] is a 1945 American film directed by Billy Wilder and produced by the United States Department of War. The film was intended for German audiences to educate them about the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. For the German version, Die Todesmühlen, Hanus Burger is credited as the writer and director, while Wilder supervised the editing. Wilder is credited with directing the English-language version. The film is a much-abbreviated version of ‘German Concentration Camps Factual Survey,’ a 1945 British government documentary that was not completed until nearly seven decades later.

Special Feature: Bull Fight in Madrid [1955] [1080p] [1.33:1] [15:12] This is an Extract from ‘Around the World with Orson Welles.’ Orson Welles pitches a film about the world of matadors, bullfights, and their spectators. Cast: Orson Welles, Kenneth Tynan and Elaine Dundy. The quality of the black-and-white 1080p image is spectacular; it is such a shame the main film could not of been of high quality standards as this particular special feature.

Special Feature: CBC Orson Welles's Wartime Radio Broadcasts [1941 – 1942] This particular extra includes four WWII-era broadcasts that Orson Welles voiced and was broadcast on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation apart from one, which is a great extra inclusion. Here you have four audio only radio broadcasts, which sadly are of very poor quality and they are as follows:

From The Series: Nazi Eyes on Canada [CBC]: ALAMEDA [29:00] Orson Welles performs in, but did not direct. This dramatization of the Nazi takeover of the small Canadian town of Alameda. It was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as part of the Third Victory War Drive. This was broadcast on the 25th December, 1942.

From The Series: Hello Americans [CBC]: BRAZIL [29:00] This is the Premiere episode of a lively variety program intended to foster Inter-American relations, and featuring an appearance by Carmen Miranda. The cinematic counterpart of this program was Orson Welles’s ill-fated film ‘IT’S ALL TRUE.’ This was broadcast on the 15th November, 1942.

From The Series: Ceiling Unlimited [CBC]: WAR WORKERS [29:00] In this episode of Orson Welles’s patriotic aviation themed program “He Swipes The Microphone” from a Nazi Spy point of view and broadcast to Berlin with a tour of the Lockheed-Vega Corporation plant. This was a light-hearted spin on “The War of the World” type spoof broadcast, where Orson Welles employs the pseudo-documentary approach for which he had become famous for. This was broadcast on the 14th December, 1942.

From The Series: Orson Welles Commentaries [ABC]: BIKINI ATOMIC TEST [14:00] Airing shortly after the release of ‘THE STRANGER’ film. This particular episode is of Orson Welles’s political opinion program discussing America’s further development of the Atomic Bomb, as well as the demise of The Office of Price Administration. This was broadcast on the 30th June, 1946.

Theatrical Trailer [1946] [480i] [1.33:1] [1:16] This is the original Theatrical Trailer of ‘THE STRANGER.’ Despite the grainy quality, it is still a great dramatic presentation trailer.

Special Feature: Stills Gallery [2015] [1080p] Here you get to view a gallery of black-and-white and colour images of a total of fifteen publicity photos, storyboards sketches, and Cinema Film Posters from different countries. To view them you have to keep pressing next with your remote handset.

Finally, though not as celebrated as Orson Welles's two previous films, ‘THE STRANGER’ is a crucial part of the director's filmography, proving he could create a commercial success without fully sacrificing his artistic integrity. It's a slick, thematically substantial post-war thriller, and it holds up well next to some of the best noir films of its day. ‘THE STRANGER’ has had a chequered history with the home video format like many films in the public domain, Odeon Entertainment has treated this classic film with respect, giving us a detailed high definition transfer, a great audio track, and a disc that includes an informative series of vintage radio broadcasts. It's a definite upgrade from previous Blu-ray releases, which had DNR [Digital Noise Reduction] done to death and also featured an audio track that should have been upgraded. ‘THE STRANGER’ may not be Orson Welles’s best effort, and it’s certainly not his most celebrated work, but it’s a great film worthy of recognition. As it is in the public domain, there are dozens of poor-quality versions of the film floating around on home video, but OEG Classic Movies Blu-ray presentation is slightly let down quality wise, but you do get some nice extras as compensation. ‘THE STRANGER’ is a better-than-average spy-thriller and particularly relevant for the time period of its release and most definitely worth discovering for Orson Welles fans everywhere. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2016 8:17 AM GMT

Midnight Run [Blu-ray]
Midnight Run [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Robert De Niro
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars MIDNIGHT RUN [1988 / 2015] [Blu-ray], 5 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: Midnight Run [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
MIDNIGHT RUN [1988 / 2015] [Blu-ray] The FBI Wants Him to Talk! The Mob Wants To Silence Him! Robert De Niro Just wants Him to Shut Up!

Bounty hunter Jack Walsh has got a new assignment, one that could set him up for retirement. He's just got to get bail-jumping accountant Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas back to L.A. by midnight on Friday. But he's not the only one on his trail. The Duke's just embezzled $15 million from the mob who want him dead, trying to get him first are the FBI who wants him to testify, five minutes in his company and Jack just wants him to shut up. It's going to be a long journey from New York to L.A.!

With a razor-sharp script and performances to match, Martin Brest's cult road movie sees Robert De Niro give one of his greatest comic performances, equally matched by his co-star Charles Grodin.

FILM FACT: To research for his role, Robert De Niro worked with real-life bounty hunters and police officers. As Jack Walsh un-cuffs Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas on the train, the latter says, "Thanks, 'cause they're starting to cut into my wrists.'" In fact, Charles Grodin has permanent scars resulting from the handcuffs he had to wear for most of the film. The scene where Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas falls off a cliff, this was shot on location in the Salt River Canyon in White Mountain, Arizona and the conclusion, taking place in rapids, was shot in New Zealand because the water was too cold in Arizona. Martin Brest was impressed by Charles Grodin's audition with Robert De Niro, however, feeling that there was a real chemistry between the two actors.

Cast: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Dennis Farina, Joe Pantoliano, Richard Foronjy, Robert Miranda, Jack Kehoe, Wendy Phillips, Danielle DuClos, Philip Baker Hall, Tom McCleister, Mary Gillis, John Toles-Bey, Thomas J. Hageboeck, Stanley White, Scott McAfee, Linda Margules, Lois Smith, Fran Brill, Michael Hawkins, John Hammil, Lou Felder, Frank Pesce, Paul Joseph McKenna, Matt Jennings, Rosemarie Murphy, Jack N. Young, Robert Coleman, William Robbins, Wilfred Netsosie, Sherman L. Robbins, Dale Beard Jr., Thomas Nez, Pete Jensen, Andy Charnoki, Tracey Walter, Robert Vento, Joe 'Tippy' Zeoli, James Portolese, Armando Muniz, Dan York, Rowdy Burdick, Tom Irwin, Jimmie Ray Weeks, Martin Brest (uncredited), Lisa Burnett (uncredited), George D. Miklos (uncredited), Robert Minkoff (uncredited) and Jock L. Schloss (uncredited)

Director: Martin Brest

Producers: Dan York, Martin Brest and William S. Gilmore

Screenplay: George Gallo

Composer: Danny Elfman

Cinematography: Donald E. Thorin

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio and English: 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Region: Region B/2

Running Time: 126 minutes

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Universal Pictures / Second Sight

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: In 1988 Universal released ‘MIDNIGHT RUN,’ as a high-profile action comedy. It contained several elements that were unusual for a film of its type and genre and now is finally available on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK of this seminal action film. For starters, Robert De Niro was the lead. The idea of this brooding method actor playing it light was virtually unthinkable at the time, especially with ‘ANALYZE THIS’ a decade. It found great success at the box office, though perhaps it’s inevitable the result ended up as more of a cult offering, never quite getting the critical attention it deserved. As it rolls into town on Blu-ray, there’s never been a better time to reappraise the production as one of the most underrated buddy films of all time.

Jack Walsh [Robert De Niro], a cop-turned-bounty hunter, who is given an easy assignment, the “midnight run” of the title in escorting former mob accountant Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas [Charles Grodin] across country after he skipped a sizeable bail. Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas ran off with millions belonging to the fearsome Jimmy Serrano [Dennis Farina], giving the money to charity and becoming a national hero of sorts in the process. A smooth operation goes pear-shaped when Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas [Charles Grodin] tells Jack Walsh [Robert De Niro], he can’t fly, and from there on in everything that can go wrong does go wrong, leading to an epic road trip packed with pitfalls such as raging rivers, a rival bondsman and bullet-spewing helicopters. Everyone it seems wants Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas captured or whacked before Jack Walsh can turn him in and collect his own reward.

The main thing to say about this action packed film is that despite of its high octane antics it has an easy-going likeability other films would kill for. This is down to the offbeat chemistry between Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, a masterstroke of casting from director Martin Brest and his team. Jack Walsh’s tough guy exterior gets the slow burn treatment from a laconic but mischievous Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas, and gradually he is worn down until the pair become friends. The other factor is George Gallo’s excellent script, which bursts at the seams with memorable lines, like “Is this Moron No.1? Put Moron No.2 on the phone?” is a particular favourite. Every character talks like a screwball comedian, but under Martin Brest there is grit and an intimacy that makes it all seem natural.

Because you have Robert De Niro and Dennis Farina in the frame, it also means the serious scenes carry a mighty punch. The scene where Jack Walsh is briefly reunited with his wife and daughter, who he lost contact with following a bribery scandal at his former job and is beautifully-played and Serrano and Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas’s fleeting scene together is a sliver of ice among the pratfalls. The biggest surprise is perhaps Yaphet Kotto as Alonzo Mosely, an FBI agent who falls foul of Jack Walsh early on, enduring humiliation after humiliation. This is a great film about hard men losing their dignity, from Serrano’s exasperation over his lackeys’ incompetence to the stripping of Jack Walsh’s rough-house shell by Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas.

Danny Elfman’s rock-blues soundtrack is an absolute triumph and a shock if all you’ve never heard from him with his thundering strings like he did for Tim Burton films. There’s a bit of distortion on the opening music for this 1080p transfer, but despite this minor quibble, it still is an absolute triumph. What is also brilliant about this Blu-ray release is the spectacular vista of visions of the dusty life on the road, which took place in a location shoot in New Zealand, and the neon signs of Las Vegas look even crisper and spectacular.

Maybe the biggest compliment you can pay is that when it’s time for the journey to end, you feel genuinely sad that these guys have to part. The door was open for a sequel, and TV series follow-up were made without Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin being involved. But it’s probably it was best that this remained a one-off. Think 1980s films about mismatched buddies are old hat? Stick this in your Blu-ray player and prepare to be totally amazed, especially of the comic interplay between Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ is a delight as well as pure gold. Two more stand-out performances come from Yaphet Kotto, as FBI Special Agent Alonzo Mosely, and John Ashton, as rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler and when the FBI chief steals Marvin's cigarettes again, he quips: "Why don't you quit? It'd be cheaper for both of us." ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ builds to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion, with a wonderful closing line. A timeless treat!

Blu-ray Video Quality – Second Sight has released ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ a really good stable 1080p encoded image transfer and a serious step up all round. The image itself is spotless, the picture rock solid in frame, the sharpness and picture detail crisp and the colour largely naturalistic. The contrast is punchy throughout and when the lighting is favourable this results in a really pleasing image, but in darker scenes this can result in some of the detail being sucked in to get those solid black levels, though no more so than on Universal Pictures previous inferior DVD. On the whole, this is a very fine job all round. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Second Sight has released ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ with two alternative audio soundtracks, which consists of 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio and 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio, and the 2.0 LPCM track is the closest to how the film was originally shown in the cinema. Surprisingly, I much preferred the 2.0 LPCM Stereo track, which has a brightness and clarity that feels a tad subdued on the 5.1 track, where a little too much to the lower frequency sound ended up in the subwoofer. But if you do prefer to view it with the 5.1 track, a word of warning, as the lip syncing is totally out sync and is very unncomfortable to watch, but most importantly the dialogue and music come across particularly well; though neither have quite the dynamic range of more modern studio features.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: We Got the Duke – Interview with Charles Grodin [2015] [1080p] [1.78:1] [12:24] Here we find Charles Grodin who is much older and really shocked me, but is much slimmer wearing a baseball cap. The still instantly recognisable Charles Grodin, and there's something about that voice and remembers how he landed a role that plenty of actors wanted and Paramount Pictures apparently wanted Cher to play his part in the film. Yes, you read that right, Cher the singer turned actress who was flying high at the time off the success of ‘Moonstruck,’ can you imagine, and so when Martin Brest would not do what they say, Universal Pictures took up the rights to the film because Martin Brest and George Gallo wanted Charles Grodin. Charles talks about his unconventional first marriage and his current long-lasting one and reveals that his favourite exchange in the boxcar scene and the aforementioned comment that was a sexual put down comment that is too extreme to reprint here and one was the result of him being asked by director Martin Brest to improvise an exchange that would allow the two characters to re-bond. I particularly liked Charles Grodin's comment about when he was in a Broadway play entitled “Sometime Next Year” and Sir Lawrence Olivier came to his dressing room and because the way you see him talk in this interview, he spoke the same way to this English actor, and got told off the way he spoke to Sir Lawrence Olivier, but he says he could not understand the negative comment. We also hear that Charles Grodin also does a lot of directing and also loves doing “One Man Shows.” Charles talks specifically about that specific scene in the film where Robert De Nero and himself were going down the dangerous rapids and says it was in Arizona and the water was freezing cold and if they had stayed in too long, they would have ended up seriously ill, so eventually they finished the rapid scene in New Zealand and the water was much warmer. As we get near the end of the interview, Charles mentions that he has just watched ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ again, and feels it was a brilliant film to be in and was very proud of his work on the film and was also proud of all the people he worked with. Director: David Gregory. Producer: Carl Daft. Executive Producer: Chris Holden. This was a Severin Films, Inc. Production.

Special Feature: Moscone Bail Bonds – Interview with Joe Pantoliano [14:24] Adorned in a jacket, a beret and a silver neck chains, the ever so slightly bohemian and a much older looking Joe Pantoliano and recalls how he got into acting, how he landed the role of Eddie Moscone of the Bail Bond establishment and informs us that director Martin Brest was initially not convinced he would be right for the part, because being too young and too slim for the role as originally envisaged, and reading and working with Robert De Niro. Joe Pantoliano outlines the importance of nailing the audition and too many came in and just gushed at Robert De Niro, and has the highest of praise for Charles Grodin, who he also informs us that he was "a genius comedian," whose performance he claims is the glue of the film. We find out that Joe Pantoliano in his early years grew up poor and had dyslexic with attention deficit and was encourage to go into acting. Joe praises George Gallo for producing a brilliant script that was a rollercoaster type film with lots of twists and turns and was really proud of being in the film. Interviewer: Josh Johnson. Director: David Gregory. Producer: Carl Daft. Executive Producer: Chris Holden. This was a Severin Films, Inc. Production.

Special Feature: Hey Marvin! – Interview with John Ahston [17:27] Sporting a flat cap and a sizeable cigar, the hugely entertaining and good natured John Ahston who provides some brilliant anecdotes about the making of ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ and the interview is also surprisingly moving, and even poignant as John Ashton sincerely explains why he became an actor, and he never looked back. John also talks about remembering landing the role of Taggart in film franchise ‘Beverley Hills Cop,’ and being prompted to adlib by director Martin Brest, but after the third film felt he had got into a rut and through circumstances found out about the role in ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ and auditioning with Robert De Niro and his story confirms Joe Pantoliano's claim that your acting career can depend on what you do in that few minutes you spend in the audition room. John Ahston claims that had he not got into acting that he'd probably be dead by now and says, "I was a bit of a juvenile delinquent" and reveals that Dorfler was a real scumbag in the script and was originally killed off, but a rewrite was forced when it was realised that he was becoming so likeable. The funniest bit has John Ashton recalls that he and Robert De Niro's use of what he calls a very over the top expletive swear words, to judge whether they were overdoing the excessive swearing, and he gets surprisingly emotional when he talks about why he became an actor. John also gives great praise about screenwriter George Gallo and felt it was the best script he had ever read and also gives great praise about the director Martin Brest. Like just about everyone else interviewed here, he has nothing but fond memories of the shoot itself and regards it as "the best film I ever did, best film experience I ever had, bar none," even thought it was a 6 month shoot and a 14 hour a day shoot. I must say this is one of the best interviews I have ever seen and John Ashton is a very funny man and was filmed at the Verrado Golf Club, Buckeye, Arizona. Director: David Gregory. Producer: Carl Daft. Executive Producer: Chris Holden. This was a Severin Films, Inc. Production.

Special Feature: Midnight Writer – Interview with Screenwriter George Gallo [2015] [1080p] [1.78:1] [24:44] Here we have a fascinating interview with the screenwriter George Gallo, and we find out he was either 21 or 22 when he wrote his first script, and felt it was the only way of getting into movies. We find out that the thoroughly engaging George Gallo covers in some detail how ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ came to be with regards to Bounty Hunters, and confirms that Paramount Pictures were pushing Martin Brest hard to cast Cher as Mardukas, whereas "Paramount Pictures wanted the star for the movie," and suggests that Martin Brest's refusal to give in to this was what led them to take the project to Universal Pictures instead. George discusses his working relationship with Martin Brest, his dizziness at being a 31-year-old newcomer and hanging out with Robert De Niro, and reveals that a key sequence in the film stems from his own fear of flying, one that came close to losing him the gig when he refused to travel by plane with Martin Brest from Chicago to New York and the whole project was very draining, but also very enjoyable at the same time, as he put his heart and soul into the project. All in all this was another brilliant interview, especially the fact that George Gallo is a very likeable person and was very interesting to listen to. Director: David Gregory. Producer: Carl Daft. Executive Producer: Chris Holden. This was a Severin Films, Inc. Production.

Special Feature: I'm Mosely! – Audio Interview with Yaphet Kotto [2015] [1080p] [1.78:1] [7:36] The wonderful Yaphet Kotto [‘Alien’ and ‘Live and Let Die’] is interviewed by phone and remembers how refreshing it was to get a comedy script after a slew of screenplays for would-be Alien clones had landed on his desk. He fondly recalls working with Martin Brest and Robert De Niro, and describes Mosely as the black Inspector Clouseau and "was completely and absolutely out of his fricking mind." This was a Severin Films, Inc. Production.

Special Feature: Original ‘Making Midnight Run’ Promo [1988] [480i] [1.33:1] [7:26] This Universal Pictures promo is a very typical of its 1980s period, but nonetheless it is a valuable inclusion promotional feature made at the time the film came out, especially with its brief interview bites from Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, John Ashton, Yaphet Kotto, Yaphet Ashton, Dennis Farina and also some of the other cast, and we also get to see director Martin Brest and a young George Gallo [screenwriter], plus behind-the-scenes footage, and a couple of shots that didn't make it into the final film.

Finally, it is easy to tell that British distributors Second Sight Films wanted to have a really nice sparkling Blu-ray release of director Martin Brest's ‘MIDNIGHT RUN,’ and is helped that they included some really excellent exclusive new supplemental features for this Blu-ray release. ‘MIDNIGHT RUN,’ is still one of the most sublimely written, performed, directed and scored comedy-dramas of the 1980s and one of my all-time favourite mismatched pair to appear in this particular road movie. It features Robert De Niro's first and finest comic performance, Charles Grodin at his on-screen finest, a pair of pitch-perfect turns from Yaphet Kotto and Dennis Farina, and oh yes, it is just totally funny and utterly terrific film. Second Sight Blu-ray is a huge leap over the previous inferior DVD release in every respect, and thus I have to concur that this is a highly welcome release. With any luck this excellent package will bring this unsung gem to a new audience, and if you were one of the people who wrote it off back in the day then this is the perfect chance to give it another go as it is easily one of the most enjoyable comedy thrillers to have come out of the 1980s, having aged a lot more gracefully than most of its contemporaries. ‘MIDNIGHT RUN’ is again is a very funny and exciting and the actors often improvise their dialogue, but the film is always under control, never over-acted, never ingratiatingly sentimental, and is never played for easy laughs. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Commando: Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Commando: Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars COMMANDO [1985 / 2015] [Director's Cut] [30th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray], 5 Feb. 2016
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COMMANDO [1985 / 2015] [Director's Cut] [30th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] Somewhere, Somehow, Someone’s Going To Pay! COMMANDO Director's Cut Explodes on Blu-ray!

Now on Blu-ray for the first time ever. Experience every awesome moment of ‘COMMANDO’ the way it was intended! The Special Edition Director’s Cut, which includes amazing action, extensive special features and the Arnold Schwarzenegger you could ask for.

Retired Delta Force operative Colonel John Matrix [Arnold Schwarzenegger] lives a secluded life with his daughter Jenny Matrix [Alyssa Milano]. When his daughter is kidnapped by a brutal former team member seeking revenge. Colonel John Matrix must travel to South America and get her back. Somewhere . . . somehow . . . someone’s going to pay!

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, James Olson, David Patrick Kelly, Alyssa Milano, Bill Duke, Drew Snyder, Sharon Wyatt, Michael DeLano, Bob Minor, Michael Adams, Gary Carlos Cervantes, Lenny Juliano, Charles Meshack, Chelsea Field, Julie Hayek, Hank Calia, Walter Scott, Greg Wayne Elam, George Fisher, Phil Adams, Ava Cadell, Mikul Robins, Branscombe Richmond, Matt Landers, Peter DuPont, Tom Simmons, Bill Paxton, Richard D. Reich, John Reyes, Billy Cardenas, Eddie Reyes, Vivian Daily, Thomas Rosales Jr., Ronald C. McCarty, Jim Painter and Rick Sawaya (uncredited)

Director: Mark L. Lester

Producers: Jeph Loeb, Joel Silver, Matthew Weisman, Robert Kosberg and Stephanie Brody

Screenplay: Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman and Steven E. de Souza

Composer: James Horner

Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti

Video Resolution: 1080p [Color by Deluxe]

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital, French: 5.1 DTS, Spanish: 5.1 DTS, German: 5.1 DTS, Italian: 5.1 DTS, Czech: 1.0 Dolby Digital and Thai: 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Bulgarian, Czech, Korean, Chinese and Thai

Running Time: 90 minutes and 92 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: It’s taken a ludicrous seven years, with surprisingly little fanfare, but the Director’s Cut of ‘COMMANDO’ has finally arrived on this UK release Blu-ray disc remastered. It is rare that we get a case of truly legendary action films float through the re-release schedule for Blu-ray nowadays but my interest peaked when I saw that this gem’s Director’s Cut was coming out. It is not hyper when I say that possibly the following is probably the granddaddy of the action film craze, which kick-started in the 1980’s. It’s got Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s got amazing goons being dispatched awesomely, it’s got mountains of pithy one-liners and it’s got a killing spree as long as the coastline of Val Verde and of course I am of course talking about ‘COMMANDO.’

John Matrix is a retired U.S. Special Forces Colonel and spends his retirement looking after and raising his daughter Jenny Matrix [Alyssa Milano]. One day after hearing of his former squad members being bumped off, Jenny Matrix is kidnapped by the South American dictator Arius [Dan Hedaya] and John Matrix’s former colleague Bennett [Vernon Wells] threatens her life unless John Matrix carries out a political assassination. Playing along with it until he can slip away, John Matrix finds out where the dastardly pair has taken Jenny and asks himself if he’s bad enough to save his own daughter Jenny. The film is loaded with hilarious and memorable dialogue, thickly delivered with Arnold’s trademark stony accent. It’s right up there with ‘Predator’ in terms of over the top quotes, and maybe even edges it out. And when Matrix finally launches his one man attack on the bad guys’ compound, it’s an absolute massacre (81 kills), obliterating everything that moves in an orgy of squibs and fiery explosions. They never stood a chance.

Of course, your mileage may vary in your enjoyment of this special film, as it depends solely on whether you love Arnold Schwarzenegger’s own brand of killer instinct and deadpan humour. It is how much you want to revel in this glorious pinnacle of that is how much you will enjoy this action packed film. Those who do will not be left disappointed. Straight out of the excess of the 1980’s, ‘COMMANDO’ will continue to empower disbelief in you to this day with its winning combination of 180mph insane action and unforgettable one-liners. I mean, this film has Arnold Schwarzenegger freewheeling 4×4 down a mountainside, combat-rolling from a plane’s landing gear during take-off into a swamp and duplexing a phone booth whilst a yuppie goon is inside… all within the first 45 minutes! That shed scene in the final stretch with the spectacular kills contained within is worth the price of the Blu-ray alone. You have to suspend your disbelief and accept that Arnold Schwarzenegger has cheated and turned on God Mode and Infinite Ammo but it is all beautifully tongue in cheek and beautiful stuff.

For those dying to see all those amazing additional Arnold Schwarzenegger kills and one-liners that were left on the cutting room floor, prepare to be pseudo-disappointed. Sure, it’s brilliant to finally see the banned scenes that have been denied for such a long time with the ‘sawblade to the neck’ kill. In the end, ‘COMMANDO’ as an action film throws you back to that carefree decade of the 1980’s of real life action super heroes with an invincible Arnold bulldozing his way through his madcap world and not batting an eyelid to the insanity, as he unloads a book full of sarcastic, in a delicious 92 minutes. The Director’s Cut of the film features a couple minutes of extra exposition, and makes many small but intimate touches to the film’s already violent action scenes, showing more gore and lingering longer on the carnage and if you’ve never seen that gloriously violent buzz saw kill before. If you’re willing to indulge in an Arnold Schwarzenegger spectacle, the original still holds up just as good.

The original UK cinema and video versions were censored by around 15 seconds, and removed the shots where Colonel John Matrix [Arnold Schwarzenegger] slices off the soldier's arm with the machete as well as Bennett's death to remove a shot of the pipe in his chest and the tracking shot of it sticking from his body. The 2001 UK DVD release retained these cuts and also added a further 44 seconds of distributor cuts; this was because the DVD master used for the UK release was a censored Scandinavian version. All cuts were fully waived in 2007 by the BBFC. The heavily edited 2001 UK DVD version, with a total of 56 seconds removed, was also used as the master for the initial Australian DVD release. In this version additional edits include:

01: In the opening scene, after Cooke [Bill Duke] has initially shot the man in the robe, he walks over to the body and shoots him again. This second hit has been removed.

02: When Colonel John Matrix breaks Henriques's [Charles Meshack] neck on the plane, he simply elbows him, and in the next shot, Henrqiues is already dead. The shot of Colonel John Matrix snapping Henriques’s neck is gone.

03: The shot of the piece of wood sticking through Cooke's stomach is absent.

04: All close ups of the pole in Bennett's [Vernon Wells] stomach are gone.

05: During the scene where Colonel John Matrix and Cindy [Rae Dawn Chong] follow Sully [David Patrick Kelly] from the airport to the shopping mall, there is an extra scene where she asks him his name and what he does for a living.

Blu-ray Video Quality – Considering this film ‘COMMANDO’ is now 30 years old, and given there are some substandard transfers of movies of similar ilk and age previously, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looks. When you consider that on the same disc we have both the Original Theatrical and Director’s Cut version, and with extras too, there is no let downs, because it’s a winner. With both normal 1.85:1 and 1.78:1 and widescreen cared for with the full 1080p encoded resolution image also, and it manages to breathe new life into a film you would not expect benefiting from such a transfer. Particular of interest, the extras shine and stand out more. This is a great transfer makes the bullet flashes as we cut rapidly between Arnold Schwarzenegger unloading on a hapless Arius cool-looking. Those cardboard cut-out men in that island raid sequence look faker than ever though! Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – 20th Century Fox has released this Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio as standard. From what I can determine, this is the same 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track from the original Blu-ray, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The audio track packs the right amount of punch, with explosions rocking the subwoofer and gun shots having the perfect amount of bass. Nothing here feels weak, which for a movie that features so much gunfire is essential. As for the rear channels, we get an endless parade of gunshots, shouts, helicopter fly-bys, and yes, James Horner’s Jamaican steel drum centric score, that many people give the music score not much appreciation, but you can’t deny it’s unique and somehow manages to work in its own strange way.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Features both the Original Theatrical Feature and Director’s Cut.

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Director Mark L. Lester Theatrical Version Only]: Here we get a personal introduction from the director Mark L. Lester and informs us that he is honoured to be doing this audio commentary, and also informs us that this is his favourite film, especially out of the 28 other films he has directed and with this Theatrical Version Mark tells us that they used the original 20th Century Fox intro music that they found in the vaults of 20th Century Fox. Mark talks about all the different locations that they shot at the start of the film. Mark also tells us that Arnold Schwarzenegger had his hair styled in the certain way especially for the film and when the film was released they had a craze when all the fans of the film wanted their hair styled the same way. When Arnold chases after the bad guys with his daughter from his home, Mark praises the stunt work with the Jeep goes down into the valley below without the use of the engine. When you see Arnold doing stunt work under the plane, they had to do several runs with the plane taking off and landing to get the shots right, despite the problems they encountered and when Arnold finally landed in the water after escaping from the plane was well executed, but when you see Arnold fall from the plane, in fact that was a dummy, but if filmed today, it could not be filmed, because planes taking off and landing is far too busy and crowded. When you see the filming at the GALLERIA, they had to close it down and had to shoot over 5 nights period and they had to pay all the shops for their use and all the people you see in the GALLERIA are all extras, but we also find out that this particular GALLERIA is no longer there. When you see Arnold grab the coloured balloon item above the Mall and see Arnold swing over to the bad guy in the lift, it is in fact a smaller guy from a local circus who happened to be there for the filming and if you freeze the frame when the guy lands on top of the lift, you can see it is not Arnold. When we see the two nasty guys turning up at the Val Verde Airport, it was in fact filmed at the Long Beach Airport to look like the somewhere on a Latin American Island location. When you see Arnold arrive on the beach and puts on his combat uniform, here Arnold injured himself when he puts the big knife in the holder, as he cut his hand very seriously and had to go and get stitches and they lost a day’s shooting. When you see Bennett [Vernon Wells] chasing Arnold’s daughter down in the boiler room, this was actually below the 20th Century Fox’s Studio Film lot and they were more than pleased it was used, as it saved them a lot of money trying to find other suitable locations. When you see Bennett and Arnold really fight for real and land on the metal grating floor, they really hurt themselves, but being real troopers and professional actors, they wanted to carry on shooting that scene in the boiler room. As we get to the climax of the film, Mark L. Lester comments by saying, “I really had a great time making the film and was one of the best experiences of his life and especially working with the actors in the film, particularly Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was just a dream to work with and was also a great person and everyone around loved Arnold and did a great job as an actor and definitely catapulted his career in films with is performance in this film, and also came together with the lines and worked well with the culture of the time and people picked up on different things that were said in the movie by Arnold and became part of the language of the movie and started a whole string of action adventure movies of the time, and they really popularized action films and you want to get the idea that Dawn and Arnold whether they would get together finally and get married and that was the concept and implication at the end of the film, that when the love story starts. Maybe Dawn becomes the mother and Arnold gives up his career in fighting, so the three of them at the end of the film go off as a family. The End Title song is by Andy Taylor of the British Duran Duran Group and Power Station Group and Andy Taylor came into the studio to write the Title song and Mark thought he did a great job and was a popular musician at the time and Mark says that I hope all the fans out there, enjoyed the movie and enjoyed the commentary, enjoyed the movie again as much as I did, and this is my favourite movie, you can watch this film again and again I love it and it really holds up, so thank you very much for joining me again in seeing the film ‘COMMANDO.’

Director’s Cut Audio Commentary: Commentary by Director Mark L. Lester: This particular audio commentary with director Mark L. Lester is exactly the same as the Theatrical Version of the film. The wording in the menu makes it sound like they are two different commentaries, but they are essentially the same audio track with this director’s cut audio commentary, but have slight variations with scenes that were not in the Theatrical Version of the film.

Special Feature: Deleted Scenes [1985] [1080p] [1.85:1] [2:53] You view three deleted scenes and the first two are “Mall Aftermath” and “Freeze!” and the third one is “Bennett’s Death” and here you get a quick handful of one-liners improvised for Bennett’s iconic death scene, where Arnold says, “Let off some steam, Bennett!” and this one’s great for a laugh at what could have been. You can either watch them separately or alternative Play All.

Special Feature: COMMANDO: Pure Action [2007] [1080p] [1.85:1] [15:08] Here we get an introduction from people involved with the film ‘COMMANDO’ and they are Vernon Wells, Bill Duke, Joseph Loeb III, Steven E. de Souza and Rae Dawn Chong. Here they all praise that it is one of their favourite film, but we also get to view excerpts from the film ‘COMMANDO.’ But as a bonus we get to see behind-the-scenes filming, where we get to see Arnold Schwarzenegger talking on the set of the film. As we get into this promo of the film, we get to see the likes of Mark L. Lester [Director] talking about the film, and then we get more intimate interviews from the likes of Joseph Loeb III [Screenwriter], Steven E. de Souza [Screenwriter], Rae Dawn Chong [Cindy], Bill Duke [Cooke] and Vernon Wells [Bennett]. This was a Sparkhill Productions LLC.

Special Feature: COMMANDO: Let Off Some Steam [2007] [1080p] [1.85:1] [7:18] This is basically an extension of “COMMANDO: Pure Action” where contributors of the film talk more about being involved with the film ‘COMMANDO’ and why it has become successful and also a cult film and here we get to hear views from Vernon Wells [Bennett], Rae Dawn Chong [Cindy], Arnold Schwarzenegger [Colonel John Matrix], Steven E. de Souza [Screenwriter] and Bill Duke [Cooke] who stays silent. At the end of this special feature we read TOTAL BODY COUNT: Army of Val Verde: 0 and Army of Matrix: 81. This was a Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Production.

Theatrical Trailer [1985] [1080i] [1.85:1] [1:50] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘COMMANDO’ and is a great presentation.

Finally, if you have never ever seen this wonderful Arnold Schwarzenegger killing spree film before, especially with this Director’s Cut, then you owe it to yourself to own this ‘COMMANDO’ UK Blu-ray Release. It is so vastly different to what passes as action escapism today; you will feel like you’ve stepped into another world. With a great brilliant presentations of both versions of the film, the reintroduction of missing bonus features, and a beautiful case package, this is the definitive release of one of the most entertaining and influential action packed film of all time. It is not only highly sort after, but an absolutely critical addition to every lover of action film collection. I would have loved to have seen a newly produced documentary that took an extended look at the film’s production and maybe featured some new interviews with Arnold and company, the special features here, while short, are still entertaining enough. The film ‘COMMANDO’ is still amazing for today’s modern audience and the transfer from a 1985 film is near perfect. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Animal Farm [Blu-ray]
Animal Farm [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Gordon Heath
Price: £6.10

5.0 out of 5 stars ANIMAL FARM [1954 / 2014] [60th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray], 5 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: Animal Farm [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
ANIMAL FARM [1954 / 2014] [60th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] Halas & Batchelor’s Acclaimed Adaption of George Orwell’s Celebrated Satire!

An outstanding achievement for award-winning animators John Halas and Joy Batchelor, this landmark adaptation brilliantly conveys the horror and humour of George Orwell's scathing satire. To celebrate its 60th Anniversary, the film is featured here in a new High Definition transfer made from original film elements.

Inspired by the dream of Old Major, a prize boar, the overworked animals of Manor Farm rise up against their negligent, drunken owner and drive him out. Led by two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, they establish their own self-sufficient farm, but as the farm flourishes it begins to slide into dictatorship. Narrated by Gordon Heath.

FILM FACT: The story of how his book was turned into Britain's first animated feature film is fascinating, not least because the movie was funded by America's Central Intelligence Agency. The truth about the CIA's involvement was kept hidden for 20 years until, in 1974, Everette Howard Hunt revealed the story in his book “Undercover: Memoirs of an American Secret Agent.” Why did the CIA choose England as the place to make the film? They were impressed by the advertisement commercials Halas & Batchelor had made for Kellogg’s Cornflakes, and by the wartime propaganda films the couple had been behind. The CIA also thought it would be cheaper to make the film in England and believed, with good reason, that they would be able to keep the English animators in the dark about who was funding the film. In the optimistic C.I.A. approved ending to the film, the (non-pig) animals ask for help from the outside. They are helped, enabling them to crush the evil Stalin ruler. Some endings are more equal than others, it seems.

Voice Cast: Maurice Denham (All Animals)

Directors: John Halas and Joy Batchelor

Producers: John Halas and Joy Batchelor

Screenplay: Borden Mace, John Halas, Joy Batchelor, Laurence Heath (uncredited), Lothar Wolff, Philip Stapp and George Orwell (based on a memorable fable)

Composer: Mátyás Seiber

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 72 minutes

Studio: Halas and Batchelor / Network

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Britain's first feature-length animated film, ‘ANIMAL FARM’ that was George Orwell's classic fable about repression, revolution, and corruption became a quirky animated mini-classic 1954 animated feature caught the bleakness of George Orwell's allegory, and the growing usage of the animated cartoon as a medium for conveying something more than short spurts of slapstick entertainment and children's fairy tales is eminently marked by the rendering of George Orwell's novel "Animal Farm" into a full-length adult cinematic satire, which opened at the Paris yesterday. This vivid and biting animation of George Orwell's popular tale of social revolution and disillusion, expressed in terms of animals on a farm, is, indeed, a pretty brutal demonstration of the vicious cycle of tyranny, and what there is of outright laughing humour in it comes from the smartness of its clever caricatures.

Obviously, the British animators, John Halas and Joy Batchelor, who made this film for Louis de Rochemont Associates, were most fascinated and inspired by the task of presenting the leaders of the new Power State of the animals as pigs. For their most illuminating and devastating revelations of inhumanity and selfish greed are in their brilliant drawings and animations of the dictatorial Napoleon and his fellow swine. It is in the ponderous porcine features and pompous movements of these heavy beasts, who lead the animals in a revolt against the farmer and then set up a socialistic state in which they impose a tyranny of their own, that a sense of the monstrous hypocrisy of the totalitarian leader type is conveyed and the irony and cynicism of the idea of this satire is most clearly visualised.

Actually, the pigs are the only creatures that are fully caricatured and they to a lesser degree, the donkey, Benjamin, and the swarthy Farmer Jones. The rest are fairly representational with the sheep, the chickens, the cows and ducks and the heroic draught horse, Boxer, who comes to a horrifying end when he is carted off to be made into glue. As a consequence, the drawing of this cartoon is very close to what is known as the Disney style, with prettified and heroized animals set in quaint and toyland fields and barns. And, indeed, one or two of the sequences, such as that of the animals doing the daily chores or building their own proud windmill, would do credit to a Disney cartoon.

But the theme is far from a Walt Disney animation, and the cruelties that occur from time to time are more realistic and shocking than any of the famous sadisms that have occurred in Disney films. The business of Napoleon bringing up puppies to be his own special pack of killer dogs, the liquidators of those who oppose him, is, for instance, blood-curdling stuff. And the carting away of poor old Boxer is unrelieved agony.

The film's credited producer is Louis de Rochemont, whose major achievement up to then was the creation of the March of Time newsreel format in the US, though he had also produced feature films dealing with sensitive political issues. But later research suggests that the funding was provided directly by the CIA, who at the height of the McCarthy witch-hunts was keen to back a popular film with an explicitly anti-Communist message. To emphasise this, Orwell's profoundly pessimistic ending was softened, though it's still left ambiguous as to whether the rule of the hated pigs truly is coming to an end.

However, that's the nature of this picture, as it is of George Orwell's novel: The shock of straight and raw political satire is made more grotesque in the medium of cartoon. The incongruities of recognisable horrors of some political realities of our times are emphasised and made more startling by the apparent innocence of their surrounding frame. John Halas and Joy Batchelor were hired to direct what would turn out to be Britain's first animated feature film, with Maurice Denham supplying all the voices, bar the narration, by Gordon Heath. The visual style recalls the great Walt Disney features of the 1930s and 1940s, though the content is far more adult and notably unsentimental.

Blu-ray Video Quality – In celebration of its 60th anniversary, ‘ANIMAL FARM’ has been brought back to life with this Network’s brilliant 1080p encoded image, with of course an equally impressive 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The restoration of the animation film for this transfer is also very impressive. The picture quality is great; carefully preserved to recreate the image without damaging its original look and feel. The colours are not oversaturated, and it does not seem to look like there has been too much DNR [Digital Noise Reduction] and definitely gets a 5 star rating from me for a great effort of the team at Network. Network has done an outstanding job with the musical elements of ‘ANIMAL FARM,’ treating them with importance and respect. Mátyás Seiber’s score is simply breath-taking and brings a whole new dimension to cartoon animation. Interestingly, Halas & Batcehlor’s ‘ANIMAL FARM’ is often dictated by the rise and fall of the score, giving the audience an immersive experience that’s only heightened by Network’s competent restoration. Network’s rendition will allow George Orwell’s and Halas & Batchelor’s legends to survive respectively; with the 20th century tale facing a contemporary and ever-changing audience in the 21st century. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The sound is presented in its original 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio, which is very clean for a film released in 1954, especially with the recording techniques that were not so sophisticated in 1954, that you expect from audio sounds that you get with films released today. Still, this is a great preservation of ‘ANIMAL FARM,’ which will do a fine job of replacing your worn-out VHS copy. But overall it is a great effort on the part of Network and their team in finally seeing the best animation Halas & Batchelor ever produced with this brilliant classic animation cartoon from the Halas & Batchelor vaults.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary: Commentary with Brian Sibley: Here Brian Sibley introduces himself and informs us that he is a Film Historian and is also an English writer. He is author of over 100 hours of radio drama and has written and presented hundreds of radio documentaries, features and weekly programmes. But the thing that strikes Brian with the opening film credits is how prominent Louis de Rochemont is credited and was a major American filmmaker known for creating, along with Roy E. Larsen from Time, Inc., the monthly theatrically shown newsreels “The March of Time” documentary series. Brian also points out the wording states it is a “Memorable Fable,” whereas George Orwell called it personally a “Fairy Story,” which is an interesting concept. Brian says that what strikes you is the music composed by Mátyás Seiber, which is very lyrical, pastoral, especially with a wonderful visual opening, which is so reminiscent to the beautiful English countryside, but it quickly turns to a great brown burnt out colours of the farm, that gives it a totally sinister look. When you see Moses the raven sitting on the Manor Farm sign, and that the raven is a very important character, especially throughout the animated film progresses, because the raven is a sort of sentinel and an observer of everything that is taking place on the farm, who is basically a silent witness and also the music gives the impression of something that is very foreboding, and also something suggesting there are doomfully things to come. Brian praises the brilliant effects of light and shading that we would normally associate with a Walt Disney animation, but with a Halas & Batchelor gives us a more European style animation, with heightened animation. Brian feels that when “Old Major” collapses and dies, which is a very bold move so very earlier on in the animated film, which was a very dramatic move on the part of Halas & Batchelor. When the animals rise up against the humans and they run off, but suddenly we see the dog has been killed, and Brian says that Halas & Batchelor are not scared to show death, like in real life, whereas with a Disney animation, it would not be shown, but then the animals in turn destroy everything related to the humans, which relates to the tyranny of Famer Jones, and is a very symbolic part in the animated film, and is also very evocative, because it beautifully animated without any use of dialogue or narrative. Brian says that over the passage of time is depicted especially with the changes of the seasons are superbly done with superb animation, especially with stylised backgrounds, but when it comes to scenes with snow, which is very flat, but is highlighted beautiful with the animals footprints in the snow. Brian feels when you see the animals start to build the windmill, which Brian feels is brilliantly choreographed sequences, and it much characterisation is created in a way in which the animals pull things, push things, lift things and Brian also points out particular “Boxer” the shire horse shows the weight he is pulling and also the other animals as well, which is brilliantly animated observation. Brian comments on the scene where it starts to rain, which is the first time we have observed and the sheer struggle and tension of the animation in seeing Boxer and Benjamin still struggling to finish building the windmill, and the dramatic conclusion is when Boxer is seriously injured and the sad pathos of Benjamin consoling Boxer his long term friend and is trying to revive Boxer, which is so brilliantly portrayed, where you have great comedy, but with high pathos. As we get to near the end of the animated film, where the animals rise up against the tyrannical pigs, and is rendered with shadows on the wall of the farm house, especially seeing the portrait of Napoleon is smashed, but finally we see the rest of the animals marching forward and the birds fly over their heads, which perhaps gives the impression of a renewed promise for hope for the future and Brian feels that ‘ANIMAL FARM’ might not have a Disney happy ever after ending, but it is one of optimum, never the less it is an ending like no other animated film that was made before or since, which I concur 100%. But with Brian’s summing up of this very powerful prophetic animated film ‘ANIMAL FARM’ and the very forwarding thinking and professional Halas & Batchelor team, in producing one of the best animated film for all of us in the United Kingdom and how John Halas, Joy Halas and Louis de Rochemont were not afraid to be very provocative and fight against the strong criticism by the British Government of the time and the strong prejudice personally by Winston Churchill against his portrayal and caricature of the pig Napoleon, because Winston Churchill had no personal say in the matter, because if there had been interference from all politicians, the film would of turned entirely different to the detriment to free speech and a much more sanitised direction of the animated film, so once again three cheers to Halas & Batchelor for standing up against the establishment.

Special Feature: A Stay Tooned Special: Down On Animal Farm [1995] [480i] [1.33:1] [29:15] Presented by Blackadder’s Tony Robinson, and in each episode he would give an in depth profile of key cartoons or studios and this “Stay Tooned” special presents a special programme to mark the re-release of the Halas & Batchelor’s animated feature and also charts the history of the film and the Halas & Batchelor animation studio. We get an in depth look at ‘ANIMAL FARM’ especially considering the BBC TV Series was made for a BBC Children’s TV audience with interviews from Bob Godfrey [Animator], whilst Maurice Denham [Voice Actor] talks us through performance, animator Harold Whitaker [‘Animal Farm’ Animator] elucidates on the art of animation and are all tied together by Tony Robinsons presenting style, which keeps it from being too patronising, which most BBC Children’s TV have a tendency to fall into. But as an added bonus, we get excerpts from: ‘Train Trouble’ [1940]; ‘Filling the Gap’ [Black-and-White] [1942]; ‘Dustbin Parade’ [Black-and-White] [1941]; ‘Festival of Britain’ [Documentary]; ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ [1952]; ‘The Figurehead’ [1953]; ‘Animal Farm’ [1954]; ‘Ruddigore’ [1967] and ‘Automania 2000 [1963], sadly some of the animation you view is of very poor quality. This documentary stands as a good introduction into the Halas & Batchelor studio and the film.

Special Feature: Storyboards to feature [2015] [1080p] [1.33:1] [25:54] This Storyboards to Feature comparison, unusually these storyboards are in full colour and simplistic in design resembling what we would see today as a colour script. Nonetheless comparing them to the final film is compelling enough. It is really good to see what Halas & Batchelor’s extensive storyboard we see and how you get to see the finished film beside the storyboard.

Special Feature: Character sketches [2014] [1080p] [1.33:1] [2:56] Here we get another peep into the archive of Halas & Batchelor, with character model sheets, sketches and action poses of the cast all laid out for the film. Here you get a short video showing some of the original black-and-white pencil character sketches of the key characters in the animation film that aided the animation of facial expressions that was eventually transferred to the finished animation film.

Special Feature: Poster Gallery [2015] [1080p] [00:46] Here you get to view three very rare specially designed colourful cinema advertising posters of the film ‘ANIMAL FARM.’

Special Feature: Clapperboard extract [1980] [480i] [1.33:1] [13:02] Here once again we dip into the archive of the Granada TV cinema television programme entitled “Clapperboard.” This is a fascinating interview with John Halas that is centred around the animated film ‘ANIMAL FARM’ and gives his perspective of the film. It is interesting to hear how an irate Winston Churchill contacted the production team after the release about his caricature in the film. John Halas also talks about the key points of the film, including why the ending was added. But as a bonus you get to see lots of clips from ‘ANIMAL FARM’ [1954], but sadly throughout this Clapperboard extract you get to view varying quality of the images, that goes from average to some washed out colour.

Special Feature: Image Gallery [2015] [1080p] [3:57] Here you get to view 80 stunning images, that includes black-and-white images of behind-the-scenes, also lots of beautiful colourful promotional items, stunning black-and-white and colourful of all of the artists sketches, beautiful colourful cells that went towards the making of the brilliant Halas & Batchelor award winning animation film ‘ANIMAL FARM.’

Special Feature: PDF Material [2015] All the Special Features are available via the BD-Rom drive on your PC or Mac computer.

Finally, ‘ANIMAL FARM’ is a pretty good film, and the animation cartoon itself is technically first-rate. The animation is clean, and the colour image rendition is beautifully defined. The Halas & Batchelor team really knew their animation business in a very professional way. But don't make the mistake of thinking this is for little children, just because it is an animation cartoon, in fact it is aimed more at an adult audience, as some of the scenes would really scare and frighten children and give them nightmares. The idea at the heart of ‘ANIMAL FARM’ are still very prescient to this to a very modern audience and that is why I really enjoyed watching this brilliant Blu-ray of ‘ANIMAL FARM.’ I would without doubt recommend that people seek out ‘ANIMAL FARM,’ and maybe even show it to young viewers at the right appropriate age, because it’s a very sophisticated adult story that should be helpful to young viewers when it comes to understanding the way the world works. One of the finest entries into The British Film collection yet, as ‘ANIMAL FARM’ is an animation film loaded with lots of meaning. George Orwell and animation fans alike will greatly enjoy this. Whilst the United Kingdom has an incredible variety of animated feature films with its history of film heritage and definitely starts with ‘ANIMAL FARM,’ which lasts as a testament to the professional talent of the day form of the very professional Halas & Batchelor team and as inspiration for the talent of the future. But most importantly ‘ANIMAL FARM’ is a masterpiece of animation that still makes a pin-sharp point in today's society of increasing political and social inequality. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Always [Blu-ray] [2015] [Region Free]
Always [Blu-ray] [2015] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Richard Dreyfuss
Price: £10.30

5.0 out of 5 stars ALWAYS [1989 / 2015] [Blu-ray], 5 Feb. 2016
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ALWAYS [1989 / 2015] [Blu-ray] He Was There When They Needed Him. . . Even After He Was Gone!

A story about life, love and loss, Steven Spielberg directs ‘ALWAYS,’ a heart-warming romantic adventure. After sacrificing himself to save a friend Al Yackey [John Goodman], a daredevil firefighting pilot Pete Sandich [Richard Dreyfuss] returns to earth to help his surviving girlfriend Dorinda Durston [Holly Hunter] move on with her life. Breath-taking cinematography and exhilarating aerial choreography highlight this compelling adventure that features a special appearance by Audrey Hepburn.

FILM FACT: Principal photography took place in Kootenai National Forest, Montana, with some scenes filmed in and around Libby, Montana. Some 500 people from nearby Libby, Montana were recruited for the film as extras to act as wildland firefighters. Those scenes set in "Flat Rock, Colorado" were filmed at and around the Ephrata airport in eastern Washington. ‘ALWAYS’ was the last ever film in which Audrey Hepburn appeared.

Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Brad Johnson, John Goodman, Audrey Hepburn, Roberts Blossom, Keith David, Ed Van Nuys, Marg Helgenberger, Dale Dye, Brian Haley, James Lashly, Michael Steve Jones, Kim Robillard, Jim Sparkman, Doug McGrath, Shereil L. Bowens, Acencion Fuentes, Todd Jacobson, DeMarious T. Morganfield, Mike O'Neal, Larry Landless, Steve Shatnyski, James Pruitt, Joseph McCrossin, J.D. Souther (The Singer), David Jackson, David Kitay, Gene Strimling, Roy E. Harrison, Ted Grossman, Gerry Rothschild, Loren Smothers, Taleena Ottwell, Jim Dunkin (uncredited), Tim Hiser (uncredited) and Joseph Michael Roth (uncredited)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Producers: Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg

Screenplay: Chandler Sprague (story), Dalton Trumbo, David Boehm Diane Thomas (story), Frederick Hazlitt Brennan, Jerry Belson

Composer: John Williams

Cinematography: Mikael Salomon

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: DTS, Italian: DTS, German: DTS, Spanish: DTS and Japanese: DTS Stereo

Subtitles: Japanese, English SDH, French, Italian, German, Spanish [Castilian], Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Arabic and Hindi

Running Time: 122 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Universal Pictures UK

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Universal Studios was important to Steven Spielberg, which he launched his career by sneaking onto the Universal Studios backlot and setting up an office. Universal Pictures would be home to many of his pivotal films, so it is significant that this Steven Spielberg film. I don’t get why they didn’t include Schindler’s List. Were they afraid it’s too heavy for a “fun” collection that includes Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park? I think we’re all sophisticated enough to have Schindler’s List in a Spielberg collection.

The real revelation for me is that ‘ALWAYS’ is a film that is not of any interest to younger viewers and I can understand why younger viewers are more interested in the likes of the Indiana Jones franchise and was not at all into a more mature story of grieving adults and trying to move on with their lives. ‘ALWAYS’ [1989] is a remake of the 1943 romantic drama of the film ‘A Guy Named Joe,’ is about a sentimental, patriotic Hollywood fantasy about a dead World War II bomber pilot, Major Pete Sandidge who becomes guardian angel to another pilot, Capt. Ted Randall, guiding Randall through battle and helping him to romance his old girlfriend, despite her excessive devotion to Major Pete Sandidge's memory. Whereas with the ‘ALWAYS’ [1989] film, here Steven Spielberg did not treat the film as a direct scene-by-scene repeat of the earlier World War II melodrama. The film, however, follows the same basic plot line: the spirit of a recently dead expert pilot mentors a newer pilot, while watching him fall in love with his surviving girlfriend. The names of the four principal characters of the earlier film are all the same, with the exception of the Ted Randall character, who is called Ted "Baker" in the remake and Pete's last name is "Sandich,” instead of "Sandidge."

With this Steven Spielberg ‘ALWAYS’ [1989] film, here we find Pete Sandich [Richard Dreyfuss] is a daredevil pilot who’s just about to settle down with his gal Dorinda Durston [Holly Hunter] when his plane explodes rescuing his wingman Al Yackey [John Goodman]. In the afterlife, Hap [Audrey Hepburn] sends Pete Sandich back to say goodbye and help his friends move on. He can influence their thoughts but they can’t see him or hear him directly.

This is a lovely story about dealing with a great loss of a loved one. It is a delicate balance between honouring Pete Sandich’s memory and being locked in mourning, and Pete Sandich can be a little selfish at first. But scenes like that were usually very boring for youngsters viewing this film when Al Yackey and Dorinda Durston are at a stagnant stage in the film, especially reflecting on their loss, and those are the most powerful scenes to me now. John Goodman is a national treasure, bringing his power to Al Yackey’s repressed grief and explosion.

Richard Dreyfuss really was the leading man, who carries this whole film, from Pete Sandich’s living bravado to the humour and conflict of the abstract concept of a spirit watching his friends move on. There is quite a bit of humour in Pete Sandich’s messing with the living, which I also wouldn’t have appreciated as a kid, but also the relevance of Pete Sandich feeling bad about it when he sees the consequences. Holly Hunter is saddled with a bit of a reactive part with a tomboy mechanic in an emotional fatal position for most of the film, but she’s still Academy Award® Winner Holly Hunter for a reason. You never doubt she’s going through the greatest loss of her life.

‘ALWAYS’ is a really beautiful looking film, and no wonder. It was shot by Mikael Salomon, the director of the film ‘Hard Rain.’ It’s not Steven Spielberg’s usual Vilmos Zsigmond or Janusz Kaminski, and I wonder why it’s the only time Steven Spielberg worked with Mikael Salomon, because the aerial action is absolutely totally brilliant, as well as awesome, and the shots of the afterlife are epic in their haunting stillness. Those scenes look totally brilliant with this exclusive Universal Pictures UK Blu-ray release.

For additional forest fire footage, Steven Spielberg re-created fires by re-burning areas of Yellowstone that had already been destroyed. In order to control the new fires safely, the special effects team, under the supervision of coordinator Mike Wood, rigged the pre-burned trees to ignite on cue. Cinematographer Mikael Salomon's beautiful photography throughout ‘ALWAYS’ provides one of the film's greatest strengths. His crisp images capture the dramatic visuals of the raging forest fires and the exciting flying sequences, expertly choreographed by veteran aerial coordinator and pilot James Gavin. Long-time Steven Spielberg composer John Williams created the musical score for ‘ALWAYS.’ For Pete Sandich and Dorinda Durston's special song, Steven Spielberg had wanted to use the obvious choice of Irving Berlin's romantic tune "Always." However, when approached about getting the rights, Irvin Berlin refused. The 94-year-old composer said he was saving the song for himself to use in the future. Instead, Steven Spielberg used the equally appropriate Jerome Kern ballad "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

Blu-ray Video Quality – Universal Pictures UK has made a great leap forward with this new 2015 remastered release, compared to the more inferior 1999 release, as what you view is a stunning 1080p encoded image and an equally stunning 1.85:1 aspect ratio that shows off the film in a spectacular way, especially with lovely greens of the forest, yellows and orange of the flames and reds of the fire retardant are all strong. The white of Dorinda's dress during the party scene pops out of the frame, against the smokey brown and yellow background of the firefighter crew surrounding her. Hap's outfit, which came from Audrey Hepburn's personal wardrobe, has an even brighter white glow. Detail is plentiful throughout; although there's somewhat less of it in darker shots where the lighting has been deliberately manipulated to differentiate areas of the frame, especially with a long scene in the cockpit of a plane near the film's end is a noteworthy example. This phenomenon has always been part of the film and is not a fault of this 1080p transfer.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures UK has released this Blu-ray with an excellent 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that is very solid, but slightly held back slightly by the film’s dated acoustics. Still, as it is a mostly dialogue-driven drama, it sounds fabulous with unexpected aggressiveness during the aerial bombing missions, as well as the Fire Eaters dive past and into burning trees, scraping their wings (and more) against branches and hearing flames lick at them from all sides. The sound mix puts the viewer into the pilot's seat, which, depending on one's taste for such things, can be either exciting or unnerving. The scenes with the ground crews are equally powerful, with the sound of uncontrolled blazes all over. Scenes near the film's end involving a water escape are equally enveloping. John Williams supplied the carefully calibrated score, which traverses the film's complex emotional territory with the composer's characteristic delicacy. So, if you do love this particular Steven Spielberg film that you will finally get a viewing experience that replicates its opening night splendour, especially with this stunning 2015 release upgrade, then this 2015 Blu-ray release is the one for you.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Theatrical Trailer [1989] [480i] [1.33:1] [2:18] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘ALWAYS,’ which is exactly the same as the Universal Pictures 1999 inferior DVD release. Which of course means that it is sadly very grainy, but despite this, it is still a great presentation of this Steven Spielberg film.

Finally, this 1989 ‘ALWAYS’ film that has now been given a brand new lease of life with this 2015 Blu-ray remastered release, and is of course a film that is drenched in nostalgia for things in the past, meaning it has the genre of the old style film that was released for an older style of film-making, with that ideal of romantic love, even by the standards of 1989 when it was originally released, which some might say that is considered very corny; especially for the excitement of a new relationship before it gets complicated by marriage, family and the practical details of building a life together. Steven Spielberg himself has often said that he could not have made certain films except when it happened at particular times in his life, ‘ALWAYS’ was released in the same period when he was going through a divorce with his first wife, especially dealing with such a sensitive subject and dealing with themes of letting go and moving on. This new 2015 Blu-ray presentation by Universal Pictures UK is by far the best the film has ever looked and is a fine presentation of the film. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

2001: A Space Odyssey - Limited Edition Steelbook
2001: A Space Odyssey - Limited Edition Steelbook
Dvd ~ Gary Lockwood
Offered by wmdservices
Price: £31.02

5.0 out of 5 stars 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [1968 / 2015] [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray] [Amazon Exclusive Release], 5 Feb. 2016
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [1968 / 2015] [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray] [Amazon Exclusive Release] An Epic Drama of Adventure and Exploration! The Greatest and Most Influential Film Ever Made! Quite Unlike Any Film We Have Ever Seen!

The sci-fi masterpiece from acclaimed producer/director Stanley Kubrick about a space voyage to Jupiter that turns chaotic when a computer enhanced with artificial intelligence takes over. An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Sir Arthur C. Clarke. When Dave Bowman [Keir Dullea] and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship's computer system, HAL, begins to display increasingly strange behaviour, leading up to a tense showdown between man and machine that results in a mind-bending trek through space and time.

FILM FACT: The space suit helmet featured in the film ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY,’ Stanley Kubrick consulted aerospace specialists to make sure on the design's accuracy. "Stanley Kubrick made the ultimate science fiction movie, and it is going to be very hard for someone to come along and make a better movie, as far as I'm concerned. On a technical level, it can be compared, but personally I think that '2001' is far superior" as stated by George Lucas, 1977. ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ earned Stanley Kubrick an Academy Award® for Best Visual Effects, as well as nominations for Best Director and Original Screenplay and shared with Sir Arthur C. Clarke. Anthony Masters was also nominated for Best Art Direction. Sir Arthur C. Clarke reports that he "wondered, as loudly as possible, whether the judges had passed over ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ because they thought we had used real ape-men." The film won four British Academy Film Awards, for Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Track and Best Road Show presentation, and was nominated in the Best Film category.

Cast: Daniel Richter (Chief man-ape), William Sylvester, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack, Irena Marr, Krystyna Marr, Robert Beatty, Sean Sullivan, Frank Miller, Bill Weston, Glenn Beck, Mike Lovell, Edward Bishop, Edwina Carroll, Penny Brahms, Heather Downham, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, Douglas Rain (HAL 9000), Alan Gifford, Ann Gillis, Maggie d'Abo (uncredited), Chela Matthison (uncredited), Judy Keirn (uncredited), Vivian Kubrick (uncredited), Kenneth Kendall (BBC 12 announcer) (uncredited), Martin Amor (uncredited), S. Newton Anderson Sheraton Blount (uncredited), Ann Bormann (uncredited), John Clifford (uncredited), Harold Coyne (uncredited), Julie Croft (uncredited), Penny Francis (uncredited), Jane Hayward (uncredited), Roy Lansford (uncredited), John Swindells (uncredited), Burnell Tucker (uncredited), Marcella Markham (uncredited), Kim Neil (uncredited), Jane Pearl (uncredited), Penny Pearl (uncredited), Ivor Powell (uncredited) and Kevin Scott (uncredited)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Producers: Stanley Kubrick and Victor Lyndon (uncredited)

Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke (based on the story "The Sentinel")

Composers: Aram Khachaturyan, Gyorgy Ligeti, Richard Strauss and Johann Strauss

Cinematography: Geoffrey Unsworth

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor and Metrocolor]

Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 [Super Panavision 70]

Audio: English: 5.1 Dolby Digital, English: 5.1 LPCM Master Audio, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital, German: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish [Castilian]: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish [Latin American]: 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, German SDH, Italian, Italian SDH, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Spanish [Castilian], Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese [Brazilian] and Swedish

Running Time: 149 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Warner Home Video

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: The creation of ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ [1968] was as big an epic as the sci-fi film itself. Employing teams of professionals in every field from space flight to food services, Stanley Kubrick set out to make what he simply described as a "good science fiction film." His first step was to contact famed author Arthur C. Clarke, and over the next four years the two men crafted a "fictionalized science lesson" which was to be a coming of age of the entire human race.

‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ [1968] is a landmark, science fiction classic and probably the best science-fiction film of all time about exploration of the unknown. It was released, coincidentally, at the height of the space race between the USSR and the US. It appeared at the same time as NASA's exploratory Apollo Project with manned Earth orbiting missions and a prelude to orbiting and landing on the Moon with Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. And it prophetically showed the enduring influence that computers would have in our daily lives.

Director Stanley Kubrick's work is a profound, visionary and astounding film and a tremendous visual experience. This epic film contained more spectacular imagery, about what space looked like, and special effects than verbal dialogue. Viewers are left to experience the non-verbal, mystical vastness of the film, and to subjectively reach into their own subconscious and into the film's pure imagery to speculate about its meaning. Many consider the masterpiece bewildering, boring, slow-moving or annoying, but are still inspired by its story of how man is dwarfed by technology and space.

The first spoken word is almost a half hour into the film, and there's less than 40 minutes of dialogue in the entire film. Much of the film is in dead silence, accurately depicting the absence of sound in space, or with the sound of human breathing within a spacesuit. Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi experiment intended to present its story almost purely with visual imagery and auditory signals with very little communicative human. All scenes in the film have either dialogue, music or silence, but never both together.

The film is enriched by stunning and totally brilliant pioneering technical effects that was so advanced at the time and still looks awesome today. It featured orchestral music, presented in movements like in a symphony, from: Richard Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra; Johann Strauss, The Blue Danube Waltz; György Ligeti, Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna, and Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs and Orchestra and Aram Khatchaturian, Gayane Ballet Suite.

The breath-taking, richly eloquent, and visually-poetic film that is deliberately filmed at a slow pace and about space travel and the discovery of extra-terrestrial, and was based on the published 1951 short story “The Sentinel,” that was written in 1948 by English science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. Its original screenplay was co-authored by director Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke from an expanded novelization, and the film was originally titled ‘Journey Beyond the Stars.’ The film's title was chosen because it was the first year of the new Millennium and of the next century. The film was also strongly influenced by director George Pal's ‘Conquest of Space’ [1955], and was similar in some plot elements that were referenced by Stanley Kubrick. Three months after the film made its debut, Arthur C. Clarke published a novel based upon the film's screenplay.

The space sequences proved no less imaginative. Because characters would be traveling and living in a variety of environments onboard spaceships, Kubrick needed to find a realistic way to blend both gravity and weightless conditions. The techniques ranged from the simple method of mounting a pen on a piece of rotating plexi-glass so that it appeared to be floating, to actually rotating the set, while the actors roamed about inside. The weightless spacewalk sequences were achieved by suspending actors, and in some cases set pieces like the "pod" transports, from the ceiling by wires. The "floating" actors were then shot from below, their bodies hiding the wires. For the "stargate" sequence, FX Supervisor Douglas Trumbull devised what was called a "slitscan machine." The machine helped with the process of photographing backlit transparencies of artwork, exposing each frame for a full minute, and moving the camera and artwork in sync, recording the art with a "streaked," stylized fashion. The result was the appearance that Dave Bowman was moving through time and space at infinite speeds.

Taking just over four years and costing M-G-M $11 million, 2001: A Space Odyssey was met with mixed reviews when it premiered on April 12, 1968. Critics pretty much hated the film, calling it slow, boring, and confusing. Luckily, for Kubrick and Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey struck a chord with younger audiences, who made the film the second biggest box office draw of 1968. 2001: A Space Odyssey is now widely praised as a remarkable achievement for its realistic depiction of space flight during a time when our space program was in its infancy. Years before we actually set foot on the moon, Kubrick and Clarke not only envisioned settlements there; they showed us an unsettlingly accurate portrayal of the lunar surface. A sequel was made years later: director Peter Hyams's ‘2010’ [1984] from a 1982 published adaptation titled “2010: Odyssey Two” by Arthur C. Clarke. Other Arthur C. Clarke writings are potential film instalments: “2061: Odyssey Three” and “3001: Final Odyssey.”

Blu-ray Video Quality – Warner Home Video brings you ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ in the stunning Technicolor and Metrocolor image that you expect to experience in this awesome encoded 1080p image that will blow you away and is helped with the framed 2.20:1 [Super Panavision 70] aspect ratio that is equally spectacular that one would expect it to be with this high resolution and also shows a very fine grain structure, and that is exactly how it appears in this transfer from Warner Home Video and it hardly looks as if it has aged. Of course, the look of the film is no doubt helped out by the brilliant Stanley Kubrick’s shooting style of exposing his special effects composite shots as successive passes on the original undeveloped 65mm negative. This new remastered Blu-Ray edition is a sight to behold with a near flawless HD transfer. The opening pre-historic part is filled with rich, warm colours in the sunsets and desert environment. The flesh tones are accurate, colours are vibrant and blacks are rather inky and stable throughout as well. I would imagine that ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ has never looked better, like what you would of viewed in the cinema. There are only some minor issues with some spottiness of blacks around the very edges of the frames keeping this from being absolutely perfect. But despite this the print is in excellent condition and isn't marred by any softness, edge enhancement, scratches, or any distracting instances of source noise. For a film that's well over forty years old, this high-definition release is nothing short of a stunning spectacular presentation and especially with the opening "Dawn of Man" sequence seems to have been shot entirely at magic hour. The resulting shots are totally beautiful and really show off this 2015 remastered Blu-ray disc with flawless handling of the colour balance. Just about every scene in ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ looks as though it could have been filmed today. The print is flawless and the images are truly spectacular. This is a must own title on Blu-ray and is the ultimate definition of hi-definition reference grade and it is a must purchase for all fans of Stanley Kubrick’s ultimate science fiction masterpiece. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Once again Warner Home Video brings you ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ in the stunning and equally impressive 5.1 LPCM Master Audio and of course you also have the option of the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, but the main hi-resolution audio option is a 5.1 LPCM Master Audio mix. The 5.1 LPCM Master Audio offers up a nicely expansive sound for the driving classical score, with a surprising amount of low end as well, but there is also a quite a bit of audible distortion in the orchestral recording. Dialogue is otherwise clean and intelligible in the centre channel. While I didn't notice much of a difference between the two tracks, both sound better than ever and provide a faithful experience that still manages to enhance Stanley Kubrick's original vision. The classical music in the film opens up the sound field and resonates with solid bass and stable trebles. Dialogue is crisp and perfectly prioritized, with HAL's soothing tones dominating the soundscape to good effect. Sharp sounds like bestial grunts and mechanical hisses have a distinct impact, while quiet scenes on the ship are layered with a careful level of naturalistic ambiance. This was the first time I'd noticed the subtle and comprehensive intricacies of the sound design. The original 6-channel stereo sound track has been remixed for 5.1 surround, but the rear channels have a limited presence that bolsters acoustics more than anything. The tone of the sound design is a clear product of the 1960s, particularly evident in the tenor of the voices, which can be attributed to the original recording more than anything else. Having said all that, ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ has never sounded better than it does here and is an elegant mix that adds to the experience of this incredible once in a lifetime awesome powerful sci-fi film.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood: The actors behind the characters Dave Bowman and Frank Poole reminisce about how they got involved with the project what it was like to work with such a visionary director, and they share their personal opinions about the greater meanings in the film. With the start of the film, the actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood introduce themselves and of course they inform us that they both had an amazing thought provoking experience to be part of the film ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.’ Gary Lockwood informs us that he became an actor in 1959, and came to England in 1965 to start shoot the film ‘2001.’ Keir Dullea informs us that at the same time was filming in London on the film ‘Bunny Lake Is Missing,’ and when he got home from the days filming he got a call from his Agent to inform him that Staley Kubrick wanted him in his film 2001,’ and of course Keir was blown away, as Stanley Kubrick was his all-time favourite director ever since he viewed the film ‘PATHS OF GLORY’ [1957]. Because Stanley Kubrick hated flying, he sent a crew to Africa to take still photographs of the African landscape, which were photographed on plate glass to use as the background at the start of the film and when you see the Ape-men it was all shot in the film studio in Boreham Wood in Hertfordhsire. Keir Dullea says when he read the script, he felt that he had read the same outline before, and suddenly realised he had read the same story in a science fiction magazine entitled “The Sentinel” written by Sir Arthur C. Clarke. When both actors were not filming, Stanley Kubrick would invite them to his home in North London, where other guests were gathered, like scientists, painters, sculptors, artists and also other people that were on the same wavelength of Staley Kubrick, where loved to discuss all aspects of life. Keir Dullea also informs us that to get the light right for filming a certain scene, Stanley would use a Polaroid camera to take hundreds of pictures and that is why each scene took ages to set up. When you see Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood watching the panel of small TV screens, Gary Lockwood says when you see all the panel of video screens relating to the working of the spaceship, they were actually small screens that had a 16mm projector being projected onto them and there were loads of people behind to keep the projectors working. Keir Dullea also informs us that the food they were eating was developed by NASA. Keir Dullea also praises Gary Lockwood and really enjoyed working with him and that they both got on very well throughout the filming of ‘2001,’ especially that both actors had totally different personalities and Keir also says that it was to do the fact that it was a sort of YIN and YAN scenario, and that is why they acted so well together and again got on extremely well together, which helped a great deal, as they worked on the film for about 6 months. But as the years have passed them both by, they are still very good friends, despite not being in regular contact, because Keir Dullea mainly works in the theatre in New York and Gary Lockwood does other pursuits that is not involved with film. But what they both inform us that they were both very proud to work on such an awesome film, that they were also very proud to work with such a brilliant director like Stanley Kubrick, who also informed them both that he was also proud and honoured to have Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood appear in ‘2001.’ But most important that there is a pretty good balance of personal stories and behind-the-scenes information, to such an extent that the audio commentary never becomes at all dull, because sometimes audio commentaries aren't really worth your time, but this is a really good one. So all in all this audio commentary is a must listen, as both actors are so informative about all aspects on their experiences with the film ‘2001’ and you will be spellbound by what you hear and it definitely get a 5 star rating from me.

Special Feature: Channel Four Documentary: 2001: The Making of a Myth [2001] [1080i] [1.78:1] [43.08] Hosted by James Cameron [Director], along with leading actor Keir Dullea, co-author Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Visual Effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, goes behind-the-scenes into the making of Stanley Kubrick’s classic space epic ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.’ The geniality of the mythical Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ is explored and debated here by scholars, some members of the cast and crew, plus other luminaries who were part of the magnificent experience that would help towards making the film become one of the landmarks of science fiction films, and still fascinating audiences with its mystery still today, as well as its spectacular visual images and its messages. Contributors to this special feature are: John F. Kennedy (archive footage), Con Pederson (Special Photographic Effects Supervisor), Douglas Trumbull (Special Photographic Effects Supervisor and Inventor), Brian Johnson (Special Effects Artist), Fred Ordway (Scientific Consultant), Heather Downham (Spaceship Stewardess), Ed Bishop (Spaceship Captain), Daniel Richter (“Moonwatcher” Chief man-ape), Guy The Gorilla (London Zoo 1966) (archive footage), Keith Denny (man-ape), Professor Camille Paglia (Writer/Critic), Ray Lovejoy (Film Editor), Dr. Ron Brachman (Artificial Intelligence Expert: AT&T), Elvis Mitchell (Film Critic: New York Times), John Logsdon (Director: Space Policy Institute, Washington DC), Roy Coutinho (Videophone Technologist: AT&T) and Dr. Lawrence R. Rabiner (Voice Recognition Expert: Bell Laboratory).

Special Feature: Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001 [2007] [1080p] [1.78:1] [21.24] Take a hypnotic journey with filmmakers whose own careers were inspired by the cinematic landmark of ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.’ Stanley Kubrick's ground-breaking ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ opened the door to all the films and filmmakers who followed it. Through interviews with directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Sydney Pollack, as well as special effects professionals and cultural historians and this documentary examines the legacy of Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece and its influence on science fiction films, special effects and world cinema. It is also spit up into different categories, which includes “First Impressions;” “Reinventing The Form;” “Breaking New Ground;” “A feast For The Senses;” “Commitment To Truth” and “A Filmmaker’s Filmmaker.” Contributors to this special feature are: Caleb Deschanel (Cinematographer), Dennis Muren (Special Effects Artist and Supervisor), Ben Burtt (Sound Designer, Film Editor, Director, Screenwriter, and Voice Actor), Jay Cocks (Contributor: “The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey”), Roger Ebert (Film Critic), Phil Tippet (Stop Motion Animator), John Dykstra (Special Effects Artist Supervisor), Peter Hyams (Director), Anthony Frewin (Assistant to Stanley Kubrick), Dan O’Bannon (Screenwriter), Ernest Dickerson (Director), David Hughes (Anglo-Welsh Author: “The Complete Kubrick”), William Friedkin (Director), Paul Duncan (Author: “Stanley Kubrick: The Complete Films”), John Calley (Former Warner Bros. Executive), Jan Harlan (Executive Producer), Janusz Kami'ski (Cinematographer), Douglas Trumbull (Special Photographic Effects Supervisor and Inventor), John Baxter (Author: “Stanley Kubrick: A Biography”).

Special Feature: Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 [2007] [1080p] [1.78:1] [21.30] Stanley Kubrick and Co-Author Sir Arthur C. Clarke create a finely detailed vision of the future. In this documentary, Filmmakers, Writers and Sir Arthur C. Clarke himself, reflect on the accuracy of their predictions. In ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY,’ Stanley Kubrick showed us what the future might look like. How true was his vision? This documentary employs interviews with filmmakers, screenwriters and authors and including Arthur C. Clarke to delve deep into the heart of the film's imagined future and determine the extent to which Stanley Kubrick and Sir Arthur C. Clarke's vision predicted a world of fantasy or today's reality. It is also spit up into different categories, which includes: “A Credible Future?;” “The Reality of Space Travel;” “A Product of Its Era” and “The Altar of Technology.” Contributors to this special feature are: Sir Arthur C. Clarke (Author: “2001: A Space Odyssey”), John Baxter (Author: “Stanley Kubrick: A Biography”), Anthony Frewin (Assistant to Stanley Kubrick), Anthony Frewin (Assistant to Stanley Kubrick), Robert Ebert (Film Critic), David Hughes (Anglo-Welsh Author: “The Complete Kubrick”), Paul Duncan (Author: “Stanley Kubrick: The Complete Films”), Douglas Trumbull (Special Photographic Effects Supervisor and Inventor), Dan O’Bannon (Screenwriter), Rob Coleman (Canadian Animation Director), Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles (Author), John F. Kennedy (archive footage), Phil Tippet (Stop Motion Animator), John Dykstra (Special Effects Artist Supervisor), Jan Harlan (Executive Producer), Hugh Hudson (Director), William Friedkin (Director), John Calley (Former Warner Bros. Executive), Richard Edlund (Special Effects Cinematographer) and Sydney Pollack (Director).

Special Feature: 2001: A Space Odyssey – A Look Behind the Future [1996] [480i] [1.33:1] [23.10] We take a look in on the “LOOK” magazine’s charmingly retro guided tour of the London set in Boreham Wood, Hertfordshire of ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.’ With this short documentary about the making of and production of Stanley Kubrick's ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ and its impact on the 1960's view of the future. Sadly the quality is of terrible quality, but still pleased it was included in the extras. Contributors to this special feature are: Vernon Myers [LOOK Magazine], Fred Ordway [Space Scientist], Harry Lange [Space Scientist], Charles A. Lindbergh (archive footage), Roy Carnon, Anthony Masters, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Tom Buck [LOOK Magazine], Keir Dullea (Actor), Gary Lockwood (Actor) and Stanley Kubrick (Director).

Special Feature: What Is Out There? [2007] [1080p] [1.78:1] [20.42] Examines the philosophical themes of ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY,’ including possibilities of Extra-Terrestrial life; The Concept of God and the intersection of these two possibilities. At the start of this special feature, you get a quote from Stanley Kubrick, where he states, “In an infinite and eternal universe, the point is, anything is possible.” Keir Dullea narrates a segment that starts off rather awkward with him reading from notes on his lap, but evolves into another informative look at the themes presented in the film. Excerpts from an interview with Sir Arthur C. Clarke are sourced as well as Keir Dullea sharing relevant quotes from great thinkers like Isaac Asimov. The piece is written, rather well I should note, by Anthony Frewin, son of the film's unit production manager and a long-time assistant to Stanley Kubrick. They examine the philosophical themes of ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY,’ including possibilities of extra-terrestrial life, the concept of God, and the intersection of these two possibilities. One interesting item we see at the end of this special feature is a quote from Stanley Kubrick that is relevant to the film ‘2001’ in which Stanley states, “The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile, but that it is indifferent. If we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death, our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfilment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” Contributors to this special feature are: Keir Dullea (Actor), Stanley Kubrick (archive footage) and Sir Arthur C. Clarke (from ‘People To Watch’ BBCTV 1966) (archive footage).

Special Feature: 2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork [2007] [1080p] [1.78:1] [9.28] Here we get a retrospective of the Art and Visual Effects Designs that led to the mind-bending visions of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.’ The first half of this features Douglas Trumbull (Special Photographic Effects Supervisor and Inventor) discussing the slit-scan techniques used during the final voyage beyond the infinite as well as the method of dabbing lacquer and enamel paints in water to create the illusion of shattering cosmic events. Christiane Kubrick (Widow of Stanley Kubrick) follows with an introduction to the colourful conceptual artwork everyone associated with the project was asked to submit to help guide the direction of the film's final act. Despite none of colourful conceptual artwork was used, it was still worth a view. While viewing all the conceptual art images, you get in the background the specially composed music for ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.’

Special Feature: LOOK: Stanley Kubrick! [2007] [1080p] [1.78:1] [3:15] Here we get to view some of Stanley Kubrick’s early work as a photographer, chronicling 1940’s America for the LOOK Magazine, reflecting Stanley Kubrick’s natural talent for visual storytelling. Stanley Kubrick also had a natural eye for photography. Just before the start of his career he sold several photographs to the LOOK magazine while still a student at the Taft High School in New York. In 1946 Stanley Kubrick left Taft High School and went to work for the LOOK magazine. Over the next four years Stanley shot thousands of photographs and you actually get to view America in the late 1940s and it demonstrates his remarkable talent. . . You get to view a collection of stunning black-and-white still photographs taken by Stanley Kubrick, but as a bonus you also get to hear a brilliant jazz soundtrack in the background.

Special Feature: Audio-Only Bonus: A fascinating interview with Stanley Kubrick conducted by Jeremy Bernstein in 1966 [76:00] Director Stanley Kubrick, talks with physicist and writer Jeremy Bernstein, discusses his life in general and also the making of ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ in this very rare 1966 audio interview. Perhaps the best inclusion on the set, this 76 minute interview with physicist and author Jeremy Bernstein is a candid discussion from the formative years of a visionary artist. There is an incredible wealth of information here, and anyone who considers himself a fan of Stanley Kubrick's work is sure to enjoy this very informative rare interview.

Theatrical Trailer [1968] [1080p] [1.78:1] [1:50] This is the original Theatrical Trailer for ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY,’ but sadly not being shown in the 2.20:1 [Super Panavision 70] aspect ratio. But despite this, it is still a stunning awesome presentation, Time Magazine proclaimed, “The most dazzling visual happenings in the history of the motion picture!”

Finally, Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ is an absolute masterpiece, the magnum opus of our greatest filmmaker and one of the most important films ever made and it has been my ultimate No.1 favourite film of all time. It’s nothing short of breath-taking. ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ is widely considered to be one of the ultimate science fiction film ever made, and with good reason. It’s something totally unique and forward thinking and you owe it to yourself to savour that experience by owning ‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ especially with this Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray. Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Circus World [Blu-ray]
Circus World [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ John Wayne
Price: £6.10

5.0 out of 5 stars CIRCUS WORLD [1964 / 2014] [Blu-ray], 18 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: Circus World [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
CIRCUS WORLD [1964 / 2014] [Blu-ray] Surrounds You With The Greatest Thrill-Packed Story Ever Filmed!

Ladies and Gentlemen. . . Get ready for non-stop hire wire action with John Wayne riding and brawling his way across Europe as the two-fisted boss of a three-ring Wild West show.

Co-starring the vivacious Claudio Cardinale and the beautiful Rita Hayworth, this Hollywood extravaganza is packed with thrilling stunts and action-filled fun. You’ll see a devastating shipwreck, an explosive fire that fills the screen with danger, teams of horse-back-riders, wild animals on a rampage, and Europe’s top circus performers.

Don’t miss the incredible stunts, unbelievable spectacle, a cast of thousands and old-fashioned romance that makes Bronston’s ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ a movie to remember!

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1965 Golden Globe® Awards: Win: Best Song in a Motion Picture for Dimitri Tiomkin (music) and Best Song “Circus World” for Ned Washington (lyrics). Nominated: Best Motion Picture Actress in a Drama for Rita Hayworth. 1965 Golden Laurel Awards: Nominated: Action Performance for John Wayne. While filming a scene where the main tent catches fire, John Wayne was almost killed when the set collapsed. As he was "fighting" the fire, Wayne was to be cued by the assistant director when to leave before the set was to collapse in flames. Either John Wayne didn't hear the cue, or the a.d. mistimed it (it was never determined which), but the flaming set began to collapse before John Wayne got out. He escaped with just a few seconds to spare before the entire set would have fallen down on top of him. While the film is taking place in 1901, there are several mistakes with the European flags. One example is the Finnish flag that is seen in the movie. Finland didn't achieved independence and the flag until 1918.

Cast: John Wayne, Claudia Cardinale, Rita Hayworth, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, John Smith, Katharyna, Katherine Kath, Wanda Rotha, Margaret MacGrath, Miles Malleson, José María Caffarel, Kay Walsh, Francois Calepides, Robert Cunningham, Hans Dantes, Katherine Ellison (uncredited), Margaret Fuller (uncredited), Víctor Israel (uncredited), Moustache (uncredited), Sydna Scott (uncredited) and George Tyne (uncredited)

Director: Henry Hathaway

Producers: Michal Waszynski and Samuel Bronston

Screenplay: Ben Hecht (screenplay), James Edward Grant (screenplay), Julian Zimet (screenplay), Bernard Gordon (story) and Nicholas Ray (story)

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin

Cinematography: Jack Hildyard

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 [Super Technirama-70]

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio

Subtitles: None

Running Time: 142 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Samuel Bronston Production / Anchor Bay Entertainment

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ that originally was released as ‘The Magnificent Showman’ in the United Kingdom in 1964, but now with this UK Release, has now been given its original title. This big, sprawling film, beautifully filmed in Cinerama, that is set in the early years of the 20th century, Matt Masters [John Wayne], who is also the foster father of Claudia Cardinale her mother (an aerialist) having left both of them years before. , Matt Masters is an American circus impresario in the early 1900's, decides to take his circus and Wild West Show to Europe, with the ulterior motive of finding Lili Alfredo [Rita Hayworth], mother of Toni Alfredo [Claudia Cardinale], the young circus performer whom Matt Masters has protected since Lili Alfredo's disappearance 14 years earlier.

Lili Alfredo had been married to an aerialist though in love with Matt Masters; and when her husband, “The Flying Alfredo” who fell to his death, which at the time it was believed that Aldo Alfredo [Richard Conte] dove to his death deliberately when he realised his wife loved Matt Masters and not him. The troupe puts on a show aboard the circus boat in Barcelona; when a performer falls overboard, the huge audience surges to the railing, causing the ship to capsize. No lives are lost, but the circus is destroyed. Matt Masters, Toni Alfredo, and Steve McCabe [John Smith], Toni Alfredo's boyfriend, join a touring Wild West Show and are a great success. Matt Masters plans to put together another show and rehearse it in Spain during the winter before touring.

In Madrid, Lili Alfredo turns up in the audience and later tells Matt Masters that Toni Alfredo is better off not knowing about her mother. Later, Lili Alfredo asks for a job in the circus, but she is still determined to keep her identity a secret, until Tojo [Richard Conte], a clown, tells Toni Alfredo about Lili Alfredo and about her father's suicide. Toni Alfredo becomes hysterical and is about to confront Lili Alfredo in hatred when Matt Masters stops her and tells her that her mother was refused a divorce by her father.

A fire breaks out, and Toni Alfredo and Lili Alfredo, scaling a rope to the top of the tent, save the major part of the big top from burning. When the fire is extinguished, Toni Alfredo and Lili Alfredo embrace and all is forgiven and decides to stay with the circus; and at the opening of the circus the next night, the two perform an aerial act with Rita Hayworth and Claudia Cardinale astounding the crowd by doing over one hundred over-the-shoulder one-arm somersaults. But as to the outcome of the film and finale, well you will have to view this Blu-ray to find out.

Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ has received a really wonderful restoration, with its stunning sparkling 1080p encoded image and also offering a beautiful transfer with an equally stunning 2.20:1 [Super Technirama-70] aspect ratio and seems to have undergone a meticulous frame-by-frame clean-up, culled from the original 35mm horizontal 8 perf Technirama negative with a total professional job. The source is just about impeccable, with no traces of dirt or blemishes. Blacks are pure, and contrast is vibrant and retains a definite filmic look quality. The originally, already-brilliant Technicolor palette is superior and in some cases, greatly improved over the previous inferior DVD version. Detail and sharpness also receive a noticeable boost. The image is three-dimensional, with appreciable depth and excellent clarity even in the most detailed shots. It's also no surprise that this is a rock-solid encoded image, with no apparent edge enhancement or motion artefacts. ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ was restored and re-mastered to HD [1080p] quality from the original 35mm horizontal 8 perf Technirama negative by Pinewood Post Production in the United Kingdom. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Anchor Bay Entertainment has brought you ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ that has gone above and beyond with the audio quality experience with this film. What you are given is two audio tracks, which includes a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio, which you have to select in the menu, as it automatically goes to the 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio. With the 5.1 mix it is a full bodied soundstage experience. Minor ambiance is also nicely sustained, particularly during the outdoor action, but the rear speakers come into play more prominently when you have the full orchestra go into overdrive to great effect. The music score is also technically impeccable, with a nice richness I wasn't expecting for an older title like this. So all in all a very nice audio experience, that especially helps you to enjoy the circus environment you view on the screen.

Blu-ray Special Feature and Extras: Sadly there are no extras with this Blu-ray release. But what you do get is the original film release INTERMISSION and with it you get the Best Song in a Motion Picture of Dimitri Tiomkin (music) and Best Song “Circus World” for Ned Washington (lyrics) in the background. Also sadly all you get is a blank screen, but what a shame they could not of supplied a still image of the film title. But what is a slight let down, is the audio has a horrible crackling throughout the intermission, so if they can do a restoration on the image quality, why couldn’t they have done an upgrade on the audio presentation.

Finally, here is a real show stopper! Which all can view now with this brilliant Blu-ray release. ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ is at its best with all the personal drama and spectacle and calamity that can befall a troupe of performers. It's a great film! It is also another outlet venue for the Duke to excel in. I've been searching for this film for a very long time, but now I have been rewarded and definitely belongs in your Blu-ray Collection, like mine now, especially with all the Duke's other great films that have now been released in the Blu-ray format. Henry Hathaway at least makes the film look gorgeous, filmed in something called Super Technirama-70, but promoted as Cinerama. ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ is visually rich, with beautiful saturated colours, with an admirable level of kinetic energy sweeping across the screen, particularly in the numerous circus show segments. Henry Hathaway finally finds a pulse in the late catastrophic fire scene that injects some much needed momentum into the ‘CIRCUS WORLD’ film. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

The Raven [Blu-ray]
The Raven [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Vincent Price
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE RAVEN [1963 / 2015] [Blu-ray], 18 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: The Raven [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
THE RAVEN [1963 / 2015] [Blu-ray] The Supreme Adventure in Terror! The Macabre Masterpiece of Terror!

Although “THE RAVEN” is one of Edgar Allan Poe s most famous poems, the lack of a narrative hook initially stumped screenwriting legend Richard Matheson [‘I Am Legend,’ ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ and ‘Duel’] until he realised that the idea of adapting the poem was so ridiculous that he might as well make it a comedy.

And what a comedy! Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff play rival magicians whose paths cross when Dr Craven [Vincent Price] hears Dr. Bedlo tap-tap-tapping on his windowpane. For Bedlo [Peter Lorre] has been turned into a raven by Dr. Scarabus [Boris Karloff], and when transformed back into his old self he naturally vows revenge. But the scripted rivalry is as nothing compared to three great horror masters relentlessly upstaging each other even a young Jack Nicholson, as Bedlo’s son, barely gets a look-in.

If there’s not much authentic Edgar Allan Poe in these sorcery shenanigans, the sets and cinematography more than compensate: director Roger Corman was by then a master of conjuring Gothic atmosphere on a very modest budget.

Cast: Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, Olive Sturgess, Jack Nicholson, Connie Wallace, William Baskin, Aaron Saxon, John Dierkes, Dick Johnstone (uncredited) and Mark Sheeler (uncredited)

Director: Roger Corman

Producers: James H. Nicholson, Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff

Screenplay: Richard Matheson and Edgar Allan Poe (poem)

Composer: Les Baxter

Cinematography: Floyd Crosby

Video Resolution: 1080p [Pathe Color]

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio and Music: LPCM Mono Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 86 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: American International Pictures / Arrow Video

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: This was the fifth of Roger Corman's eight Edgar Allan Poe inspired films brought together some old horror masters, behind and in front of the cameras, for ‘THE RAVEN’ [1963], a loose comic take on the classic poem that pleased audiences, critics, and those involved in its making.

Roger Corman directs this very lively, funny and hugely entertaining entry with this fifth in his Edgar Allan Poe series of films. This one has little to do with Edgar Allan Poe's original work save for the passages read over the opening of the film and a line or two spoken by Vincent Price. Comedy is the order of the day here. According to Roger Corman, everybody had a great time participating in this production. However, Boris Karloff was slightly annoyed during his time on the film working with Peter Lorre who ad-libbed much of his dialogue. Boris Karloff, was a classically trained actor, preferred to recite his lines exactly as they were written and this off-the-wall style of acting wreaked havoc with his method.

Vincent Price is Dr. Erasmus Craven, a 15th century magician in retirement following the death of his wife, Lenore [Hazel Court]. He is startled one night by the appearance of a talking raven, who is actually another former magician, Dr. Adolphus Bedlo [Peter Lorre], turned into a bird for daring to challenge master sorcerer Dr. Scarabus [Boris Karloff]. Dr. Erasmus Craven returns Bedlo to human form, and the grateful man tells him he has seen a woman resembling Lenore living in Scarabus's castle. Traveling to the castle with Dr. Erasmus Craven's daughter and Bedlo's son, the group soon learns that Lenore and Scarabus are partners in treachery. In the end, Bedlo is once again a raven, and that's all we're going to give away, other than to note that the whole affair is a fun romp with its all very tongue firmly in cheek.

Dr. Erasmus Craven returns Bedlo to his rightful form, and that’s when Bedlo notices the painting of Erasmus’s dead wife Lenore. Bedlo swears the woman is alive in the castle of Scarabus, and indeed she is. She had faked her own death after becoming bored with Erasmus, in order to enjoy Scarabus’s wealth and power. Bedlo turns out to be part of a plot to lure Erasmus to the castle so that Scarabus can learn the secret of the magician’s hand manipulations. Scarabus threatens to harm Erasmus’s daughter Estelle [Olive Sturgess] unless Erasmus reveals his power, and it is then that Erasmus realises that it’s time to take action. He challenges Scarabus to a duel to the death. The two magicians certainly duel, by conjuring snakes, bats, gargoyles, knives, cannons, fireballs, etc., but not quite to the death. Erasmus proves to be the more powerful of the two and, with the castle in flames, leaves triumphantly with Estelle, Bedlo and Bedlo’s inept but charming son Rexford [Jack Nicholson].

If the plot seems slight, that's because it is. Richard Matheson's screenplay doesn't bulk up the source material- it ignores the poem entirely save for some quoted passages. What we get instead is is a series of comic set pieces followed by a saggy middle section. The film caps off with a spectacular and hilarious face-off between Dr. Erasmus Craven and Dr. Scarabus. Don't come looking for Richard Matheson's typical depth and subtext, because you will not find it here, just sit back and enjoy some jolly camp acting, with lots of magical spectacular three actors trying to outdo each other. The three lead horror heavyweights are in fine form, which is surprising given the age of Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff. Still, for the most part, and the three legendary leads appear to be having a marvellous time. I enjoyed watching gothic horror film because it's so obvious that everyone enjoyed making the film with great gusto and hilarity, and you will enjoy it also.

The Triumphant of Terror that happens with the film ‘THE RAVEN,’ is when melancholy magician Dr. Erasmus Craven, having recently relinquished his membership in the Brotherhood of Sorcerers after the apparent death of his wife Lenore, is paid a visit by a foul-mouthed talking raven, claiming to be small-time wizard Adolphus Bedlo. After some persuasion, Dr. Erasmus Craven returns Bedlo to human form, reversing a spell placed by the evil Dr. Scarabus, who is Dr. Erasmus Craven's chief rival. After learning that a woman bearing a strong likeness to Lenore was seen in the Doctor's company, Dr. Erasmus Craven accompanies Bedlo to Dr. Scarabus's castle, where the resulting battle of wills escalates into all-out magical warfare between the two embittered sorcerers.

The film’s biggest boost is clearly the three leading actors who are all at their absolute peak. I especially enjoyed Peter Lorre who brazenly steals every scene he is in and ad-libbed many of his funny lines much to the consternation of his fellow co-stars. In fact if Peter Lorre wasn’t in this film it wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable. A young Jack Nicholson as his son is equally entertaining and the frosty relationship that the two characters have was apparently a carry-over from how they felt about each other from behind-the-scenes. Some of the effects are clearly animated, which looks tacky and as the group arrive at Scarabus’s castle one can see that the place is merely a painting matted on the screen. The story also does have its share of lulls, but all in all this gets forgiven by the climactic sorcerer’s duel, which is the film’s fantastic highlight.

As a post script for the film ‘THE RAVEN,’ is that in 1960 when producer-director Roger Corman launched his highly successful series of films loosely based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, he turned to Richard Matheson for the first screenplay, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ [1960]. Richard Matheson went onto pen ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ [1961], ‘Tales of Terror’ [1962], and ‘The Raven’ [1963]. Appropriately, Richard Matheson later won an Edgar Allan Poe Award for his writing on ‘The Night Stalker’ [1972]. Jack Nicholson has a role as Peter Lorre's son, Rexford. In later years, Jack Nicholson had high praise for everyone he worked with on the film, except for the Raven itself, as Jack Nicholson had a nasty habit of relieving himself all over the set. Boris Karloff had appeared in another film with the same title in 1935, co-starring with Bela Lugosi. Other than the name, however, the two pictures have nothing to do with each other. The film took the critics and the public by complete surprise and out-grossed all of the previous films in the franchise. When the picture was shown to the censorship board they not only approved it, they actually praised it, which pleased Roger Corman no end. But the picture’s success cast some serious doubts about the future of Edgar Allan Poe at the box-office. Despite this conundrum, seriously folks, you could die laughing, that is how funny and hilarious this film is!

Blu-ray Video Quality – Once again Arrow Video has done a very professional job with ‘THE RAVEN’ on this Blu-ray, that has been presented with a stunning 1080p progressive widescreen encoded image. The source used for this transfer that has been transferred from original film elements by M-G-M and is in superb shape, as colours look nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp and black levels look consistently great throughout. Grain look healthy and natural throughout, there are no issues with DNR [Digital Noise Reduction] or compression. Overall another solid transfer from Arrow Video that is on par with their transfer for their other Vincent Price releases. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – With the release of this Arrow Video Blu-ray audio presentation of ‘THE RAVEN,’ this release comes with two audio options, one is the 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio mix in English and an equally excellent Isolated Music and Effects Track. The audio sounds really clean, clear and well balanced throughout. Range wise though things sound rather limited and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. The release of the second audio track with music and effects track is very much welcomed addition. Also included as usual with this release are the English SDH subtitles.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

High Definition Blu-ray [1080p] presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by M-G-M.

Original uncompressed 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio.

Optional Isolated Music and Effects track.

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Special Feature: The Two Faces of Peter Lorre [1984] [61:00] Harun Farocki’s career-spanning black-and-white documentary portrait of Peter Lorre’s early days in the theatre alongside Bertolt Brecht [Poet] to his untimely death. Driven by an audio soundtrack that consists solely of an unhappy-sounding female narrator and blending factual information with intellectualising, with just a smidgen of artistic snobbery, it does follow a timeline through Peter Lorre's career, but focuses on specific films, perhaps unsurprisingly, the classic film ‘M’ is afforded a generous amount of screen time, and is big on thematic deconstruction. Peter Lorre achieved international fame for his performance in the myth-making role in M. This character has held a peculiar fascination for generations of cinéphiles. However, at the time, whilst such success meant recognition, it also weighed on the Hungarian actor as a constrictive burden. Using photographs and film extracts, ‘The Double Face’ [‘Das doppelte Gesicht’] reconstructs the ups and downs of Lorre's career, taking into consideration the economic imperatives and workings of the film industry at the time. Subtitled in English for the first time. Despite it being a worthy documentary of Peter Lorre, I did find it slightly hard going and very confusing as well, and didn’t help with the strong boring monotonous German audio presentation, that I found distracted me at times, but now and again you do get some English presentation of films Peter Lorre has been in. Director: Harun Farocki. Screenplay: Harun Farocki. Cinematography: Ingo Kratisch and Wolf-Dieter Fallert.

Special Feature: Richard Matheson: Storyteller [2003] [1080p] [1.78:1] [6:30] M-G-M Home Entertainment presents this very interesting interview with the legendary novelist and screenwriter. Here we have a brief but welcome chat with screenwriter and author Richard Matheson, who describes himself as “an offbeat writer” and explains why he decided to transform the Edgar Allan Poe “The Raven” poem into a comedy film, which he actually wrote 20 to 30 pages while on vacation with his wife on an old fashioned typewriter. Richard describes Vincent Price as the nicest man he ever met in Hollywood, and he also described Boris Karloff as a very fine gentleman. Richard also reveals that at this stage in his life for Boris Karloff, even walking was very painful and said he was very concerned when on the set, which is then illustrated by a clip from the film of him slowly descending the stairs that makes you wince with understanding of the situation. Richard Matheson also states that few so-called scary actors realise just how funny they can be, well he might be just right. Sadly this special feature on Richard Matheson was far too short and I would have really liked to hear more from this very interesting person. Director: Greg Carson. Producer: Greg Carson. Cinematography: J.B. Letchinger.

Special Feature: Corman’s Comedy of Poe [2003] [480i] [1.33:1] [8:10] M-G-M Home Entertainment presents an interview with Roger Corman discussing the making of the film ‘THE RAVEN,’ and was recorded in 2003. To get us in the mood we get the start of the film with all the swirling colours and of course we hear Vincent Price reading the Edgar Allan Poe “The Raven” poem. With this interview Roger Corman describes the film ‘THE RAVEN’ as one of his favourite film and really enjoyed directing it. Roger Corman recalls that it was Peter Lorre who seemed to be having the most fun with his typical improvisation, to the point where it started to flummox the more classically trained Boris Karloff, who prefers to go with what is written in the script. Roger also informs us that most of Poe’s poems are very similar in style and sadly the films with AIP started to look also very similar, so with the help of Richard Matheson they decided to make ‘THE RAVEN’ in a totally different direction and make it a 100% comedy film. Over time the sets from previous Roger Corman films were reused and over time they added new scenery and by the time ‘THE RAVEN’ was filmed the sets had become enormous. Roger really enjoyed working with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, who decided to do lots of improvisation, which Boris Karloff did not, as he preferred to stick to the scrip, because Boris was a trained actor in England. Roger also talked about the young Jack Nicholson and how he wanted the audience to think that Peter Lorre [father] had a love/hate relationship throughout the film. Roger also explained about some of the trick effects when it came to the “Battle of the Wizards” scenes in the film and how it was achieved, but because at the time of the film, they had to use an optical printer to create the effects and wish he had the modern technology of today’s filming, with the CGI effects, but despite the low budget of the film, he is still pleased with the results and says that it is one of his favourite films and I totally agree with Roger 100%. Director: Greg Carson. Producer: Greg Carson. Cinematography: J.B. Letchinger.

Special Feature: ‘THE TRICK’ [1997] [1080i] 1.78:1] [12:19] Black Cat Films presents a short film about rival magicians, and is written and directed by Rob Green. Here we see three judges who are in a hall for ‘The Master Magicians’ who are here to audition different magicians and to vote on who they feel are true magicians. The first silent magician is shown the exit. The second silent magician is totally mysterious in his performance, but disappears behind his magic green door, so the three judges go to investigate, who also disappear mysteriously. But what happens to everyone, you will have to view this really spooky video and when you see the final scene of the video is very disturbing, but please be warned, especially if you are a person of a nervous disposition. By the way, if you act like the three selfish judges, you too could well get your comeuppance if you are in a similar situation. Cast: Clive Perrott, Steven O'Donnell, Tanya Myers, Mark Webb [The Fake Chinaman], Don Warrington [The Magic Man], Neil D’Souza, Emma Graham, Tanya Lowry, Claire Lubert, Alison Morrow, Ralph Perrott, Oliver Reade and Christian Wheeler. Director: Rob Green. Producers: Kate Dain, Leslie A. Jones and Sarah Carr. Screenplay: Rob Green. Composer: Michael Hewer. Cinematography: Peter Field.

Special Feature: Stills and Poster Gallery [1080p] [5:41] 57 stunning black-and-white and colour production stills, with a handful of cinema posters, some of the main actors, behind-the-scene images of the sets and publicity images, all in sparkling brilliant HD resolution. Use the chapter navigation on the remote to manually move through all the images you view.

Special Feature: Promotional Record [1963] [1080p] [5:41] This is an audio promotional presentation in conjunction with the film ‘THE RAVEN’ that pushes the film as a work of "monstrous terror" and includes an introduction by Boris Karloff who welcomes us with his very spooky voice and we also get to hear Peter Lorre reading segments from the Edgar Allan Poe's original “The Raven” poem. You'd never know there was a moment of humour in the film from this and Boris Karloff even suggests that it's so terrifying that "it may be the last picture you ever see," but it's a valuable inclusion and a splendid listen. This special Hi-Fidelity audio presentation was originally released on a Japanese Long Playing Album and you get an image of the record label, which states “LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE’S THE RAVEN.”

Theatrical Trailer [1963] [1080i] [2.35:1] [2:25] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘THE RAVEN.’ We are informed with a spooky presentation, when you hear the announcer say, "A tempest of thrilling terror!" And we get to see Boris Karloff and Vincent Price doing their hand manipulation wizardry, with great aplomb. Sadly this is of very poor quality, but despite this, it is a brilliant presentation.

PLUS: Beautiful Designed Reversible Blu-ray sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov. Vladimir Zimakov is a Los Angeles based artist, designer and illustrator who works in a variety of techniques including linocut, silkscreen and letterpress among other traditional and digital media. He also frequently conducts workshops and teaches college level courses in the areas of Graphic Design, Illustration and Foundation.

BONUS: Beautiful Designed Collector’s 28 page booklet featuring new writing “COMEDY AND KARLOFF” by Vic Pratt and “THE TRICK” Rob Green. It also includes “CAST;” “CREW;” “ABOUT THE TRANSFER;” PRODUCTION CREDITS” and “SPECIAL THANKS.” It also has brilliant illustrations artwork and with original rare black-and-white stills.

Finally, cramming classic horror actors like Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre all into one gothic horror film would be hard to mess up, since they are all pros in their acting craft at this sort of thing. Anyone who enjoys gothic horror, fantasy, comedy, or light-hearted adventures will love this film, especially knowing that Roger Corman and company relished the opportunity to poke fun at the staid Edgar Allan Poe series, and the distinguished leads contribute to the spirit of fun by lampooning their own cinematic reputations. Plus fans of Jack Nicholson (who cut his acting teeth on this and other AIP productions) should enjoy his melodramatic performance here as Bedlo's straight-as-an-arrow son; Jack Nicholson would later co-star with Boris Karloff in the Roger Corman film ‘The Terror,’ which was shot in two days using the same sets! Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Tales of Terror [ Blu-ray]
Tales of Terror [ Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Vincent Price
Price: £17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TALES OF TERROR [1962 / 2015] [Blu-ray], 18 Jan. 2016
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TALES OF TERROR [1962 / 2015] [Blu-ray] A Trilogy of Shock and Horror!

In his earlier Edgar Allan Poe films, Roger Corman took short stories by the great Gothic master and expanded them into full-length features. Here, by contrast, the stories stay short, the only other thing they have in common being the participation of Vincent Price.

In Morella, Vincent Price plays a tormented man forced to confront a dark family secret when his long-estranged daughter tracks him down. In “The Black Cat,” he’s the rakish lover of the wife of Peter Lorre, who naturally plots a deadly revenge. And in the title role of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” Vincent Price tries to relieve chronic pain by asking Basil Rathbone to hypnotise him, something that leaves poor Valdemar hovering on the border between the dead and the living.

Roger Corman’s previous Edgar Allan Poe films were played completely straight, and parts of ‘TALES OF TERROR’ are as authentically creepy as any of them. But he also stirred comedy into the Edgar Allan Poe brew for the first time, particularly in the scenes between Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Narrated by Vincent Price.

FILM FACT: Patricia Medina was originally cast as Helene in the episode "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" but was replaced by Debra Paget. The British censor deleted the gruesome final shot from the "M. Valdemar" segment and substituted it with a fade to black. "The Black Cat" has been adapted to film numerous times with varying degrees of faithfulness to the original story. The most famous version is Edgar G. Ulmer's 1934 version with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Others include Harold Hoffman's low-budget 1966 remake filmed in Texas, Lucio Fulci's Gatto Nero in 1981 with Mimsy Farmer and Patrick Magee, Luigi Cozzi's Il Gatto Nero in 1989, Dario Argento's "Due occhi diabolici" episode in his collaboration with George Romero in 1990, ‘Two Evil Eyes,’ and the recent 2007 adaptation by Stuart Gordon for the Starz cable series, "Masters of Horrors."

Cast: Vincent Price, Maggie Pierce, Leona Gage, Peter Lorre, Joyce Jameson, Basil Rathbone, Debra Paget, David Frankham, Lennie Weinrib, Wally Campo, Alan DeWitt, John Hackett, Edmund Cobb, Scott Brown, Paul Bradley (uncredited), Kenner G. Kemp (uncredited), Jack Kenny (uncredited), Cosmo Sardo (uncredited) and Jack Tornek (uncredited)

Director: Roger Corman

Producers: James H. Nicholson, Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff

Screenplay: Richard Matheson and Edgar Allan Poe (stories)

Composer: Les Baxter

Cinematography: Floyd Crosby

Video Resolution: 1080p [Color by Pathe]

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio and Music: LPCM Mono Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 89 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: American International Pictures / M-G-M / Arrow Video

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Who would have thought that the short stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe, written in the early 1800s, would inspire a plethora of film franchise, more than a hundred years later on and become popular with young film fans? After the financial and critical success of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ in 1960, American International Pictures wasted no time in producing a steady stream of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, all of them directed by Roger Corman. ‘TALES OF TERROR’ [1962] was the fourth entry in the series, but a departure in form from the previous three American International Pictures Edgar Allan Poe films and Roger Corman changed tact with this his fourth entry into the Roger Corman franchise and Edgar Allan Poe cycle of films: ‘TALES OF TERROR’ [1962]. The director mixed up his formula this time and delivered his content in the form of an anthology of stories rather than just one main focus, while also allowing for some lighter comedy themes to feature star Vincent Price flexes his gothic horror muscles in three leading roles.

‘TALES OF TERROR’ involve three separate stories that start out with a narration done by Vincent Price himself. Vincent Price talks while we hear the sound and view the image of a human heart beating. Vincent Price, in that spooky horror movie voice, asks the question: “Have you ever wondered what happens after death?” And so the first story begins, the first one is called “Morella” and it’s about a man who gets visited by his young daughter Lenora. Her father [Vincent Price] hates Lenora because she killed his wife during birth. She refuses to leave even though he emphatically scorns her. Soon Lenora discovers that her father is so obsessed with his dead wife that he has kept her rotting corpse inside of his room! Is there some deeper darker secret to be revealed?

The second story is entitled “The Black Cat” and this one starts with Peter Lorre, who is a drunkard and all he thinks about is drinking, drinking, drinking himself beyond redemption! One day, when he runs out of money for drinking, he decides to walk into a wine tasting event, where all these wine connoisseurs are about to present an Expert in wines played by Vincent Price himself. Peter Lorre sees this as an opportunity to get a couple of free drinks in, so he challenges Vincent Price's wine knowledge! Needless to say, they both get extremely drunk that night! Vincent Price ends up taking Peter Lorre to his house, because he is too drunk to walk by himself. When they finally arrive at Peter Lorre’s house, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre’s wife decide to kick start a relationship between them, which of course infuriates Peter Lorre and leads him to take drastic measures for revenge, but how this is done is for you to find out, but all I can say is that Peter Lorre gets his comeuppance!

The last of the three stories is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” and it’s about a dying old man named Valdemar. He has a decease that has him under a lot of pain, so he asks a hypnotist to put him under some kind of trance so that he won’t feel so much pain. The problem comes when Valdemar is hypnotized…and he dies while under hypnosis! So he remains stuck between the world of the living and the world of the dead! But what horrors will befall all of them from beyond the grave? Again, yet another spooky tale and a simple fact that it’s about a guy stuck in a hypnotic state between the land of the living and the land of the dead, and that he can speak to us from “the other side” is an awesome premise! Also, it’s cool as hell to see Vincent Price as some kind of zombie. Again, this gothic horror film surprised me with its make-up effects toward the ending of this particular tale and to find how they did the brilliant make up of Vincent Price in his zombie state, you have to read the booklet on how it was achieved.

‘TALES OF TERROR’ is a wonderful Edgar Allan Poe adaptation precisely because it captures the range that the writer often exhibited in his own literature. The various tales reveal Edgar Allan Poe's trademark paranoid characters, his vivid imagination, and even his morbid sense of humour. ‘TALES OF TERROR’ is ultimately an effective piece of horror precisely because it has no pretensions; it truly is simply a set of spooky tales, which is precisely what Edgar Allan Poe excelled in. Unlike many horror anthologies, there's no true framed story here and instead, each tale is introduced by a short monologue from Vincent Price that's centred around Edgar Allan Poe's favourite theme: death. Each segment represents a different phase of death: what happens after, before, and at the moment of death, respectively. It's an interesting way to tie together the film just enough so that isn't just a completely random set of tales.

‘TALES OF TERROR’ proved to be a financial success for AIP, making more than the previous Edgar Allan Poe adaptation like ‘Premature Burial’ [1962]. Roger Corman remarked that the $1.5 million gross "encouraged Richard Matheson and me to transform Edgar Allan Poe's classic poem “The Raven” into a lighter comedy-horror project and use those two again Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. It was the biggest looking Edgar Allan Poe film to date because we were using sets from previous films." "I was getting a bit tired of the Edgar Allan Poe films by this time," admits Roger Corman, "but AIP felt that I should continue, but I was totally exhausted,” Roger Corman also says, “with ‘TALES OF TERROR’ we tried to do something a little different. The screenplay was actually a series of very frightening, dramatic sequences inspired by several of the Edgar Allan Poe stories. To break things up, we tried introducing humour into one of them..."

Vincent Price gets to show off his range as an actor in ‘TALES OF TERROR.’ Each one of his characters is different and, while a moot point nowadays, really show that the man was more than just a B-movie actor. He is still deliciously fun to watch on the screen as he mourns over the death of a wife as a paranoid widower, appears as an arrogant boaster in another, and a feeble old man on the edge of death in the final tale. Throughout each of the three shorts, Vincent Price flexes some serious acting skills and keeps ‘TALES OF TERROR’ afloat, and the critics at the time described ‘TALES OF TERROR’ at the time of its release as, “trashy absurdities.” The 1960s were good for the horror genre anthology, and rather surprisingly, the style seems to be having a sort of resurgence, especially with this superb Arrow Video Blu-ray superior top notch release.

Blu-ray Video Quality – Once again Arrow Video has brought us a stunning 1080p encoded progressive widescreen image, with an equally stunning 2.35:1 [Panavision] presentation, and especially with displays of totally vibrant colours, keeping the horror interests alert with its deep blood-based reds, while the period costumes of the period are preserved in their lively primaries colours and the skin tones look wonderful and radiant as well. Sharpness of the image is equally excellent, exploring crisp facial textures and as well as the set decoration, bringing out the fine detail of the cinematography, which gives you the impression that you would love to touch the surfaces and substances and highlighting the frame information with sustaining deep blacks that is generally strong. The print is in encouraging good shape, with only a few elements of damage and speckling now and again. Image is also of very filmic quality, with comfortable grain management. The transfer, as with the other titles that Arrow Video has brought out in this series, benefits from a great deal of quality restoration, which keeps the original cinematic look and feel of the piece that is spot on, and shows off the bold use of colours in the production and presents a beautiful clarity in the detail without suffering from an heavy handed clean-up. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – As always with Arrow Video they try to bring us the best audio presentation, and again they have done a superb job in presenting us with a brilliant 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio experience, to give us that supposedly spooky mood that it is intended, with a wonderful spooky sense with the music scoring cues by the brilliant Les Baxter, that gives it a definite sense of atmospherics that are very pronounced, in delivering a good sense of chilling excitement. The audio sounds very clean, clear, well balanced and robust when it needs to be. Again the age of the film still sounds good considering its limitations of the mono source and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. This release has the optional second audio track of music and sound effects track, which is very welcomed addition. Despite the age of the film, overall Arrow Video again does a very excellent job in trying to give us the best audio experience.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

High Definition Blu-ray [1080p] presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by M-G-M.

Original uncompressed 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio.

Optional isolated music and effects track.

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Special Feature: The Directors: The Films of Roger Corman: The Films of Roger Corman [1999] [1080i] [1.37:1] [58:30] This just under an hour long episode of this special AFI ‘The Directors’ TV series documentary that was first screened on Februray 1999, takes a career-encompassing look at filmmaker Roger Corman’s work as director and producer, and includes contributions from James Cameron; Jonathan Demme; Bruce Dern; Carl Franklin; Ron Howard; Diane Ladd; Martin Scorsese; Nancy Sinatra; Roger Corman and Dave Mann (Voice Over Announcer). Roger Corman has produced and directed more than 550 motion pictures. In 1953, he sold his first screenplay; the following year he produced his first independent film, beginning with one of the most prolific careers of low-budget films in Hollywood’s history. Some of his major achievements, that we get clips from, include ‘Death Race 2000’ [1975]; ‘Death Sport’ [1978]; ‘A Bucket of Blood’ [1959]; Highway Dragnet’ [1954]; ‘Monsters From The Ocean Floor’ [1954]; ‘The Fast and The Furious’ [1954]; ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ [1960]; ‘Big Bad Mama’ [1974]; ‘Five Guns West’ [1995]; ‘Candy Stripe Nurses’ [1974]; ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ [1960]; ‘The Intruder’ [1960]; Attack of the Crab Monster [1957]; ‘Swamp Women’ [1955]; ‘The Raven’ [1963]; ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ [1961]; ‘The Wild Angels’ [1966]; ‘Humanoids From The Deep’ [1980]; ‘The Trip’ [1967]; ‘Fighting Mad’ [1976]; ‘Boxcar Bertha’ [1972]; ‘Caged Heat’ [1974]; ‘Big Bad Mama II’ [1972]; ‘Grand Theft Auto’ [1977]; ‘The Howling’ [1980]; ‘Battle Beyond The Stars’ [1980]; ‘Fail Fathom Fire’ [1990]; ‘Fire on the Amazon’ [1993] and ‘Frankenstein’ [1990]. Throughout the documentary all the contributors praised Roger Corman for giving then a start in the art of filmmaking. Also Roger Corman is aske d what is his favourite film, which he said was really impossible, but if pushed he would say the film that gave him so much satisfaction in directing was ‘The Intruder’ [1960], which is about interracial problems is an all-white school in America. Roger Corman tells us that he feels he has done his best in what he has produced and still feels he has a lot to give to the film industry and feels now he can slow down and make fewer films, on a much more personal level. So all in all this is a totally fascinating feature on Roger Corman, and you sure learn a lot about this very prolific director/producer. Director: Robert J. Emery. Producers: Robert J. Emery and Milt Felsen. Screenplay: Robert J. Emery. Cinematography: David M. Wark and Robert J. Emery. Composer: Kevin Kelly. Narrated by Dave Mann.

Special Feature: Kim Newman on Edgar Allan Poe [2014] [1080p] [1.85:1] [29:32] Critic and novelist Kim Newman discusses the influence and effect of Edgar Allan Poe has had in the cinema and especially some of the key adaptions of his works. Here again we view and hear Kim Newman in his home with his long old fashioned hair, who thinks he is still in the 1960s? Anyway Kim talks again about the influence of Edgar Allan Poe in the commercial sense and also the massive influence he had in the cinema genre. Kim mentions the Edgar Allan Poe stories that were filmed by D.W Griffith in America and in Germany in the silent era. Also mentioned when Universal Pictures started making Edgar Allan Poe films in the 1930s, which included ‘Murder in the Rue Morgue,’ ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘The Raven.’ It was not until Roger Corman entered the film world and felt there was still life left in the Edgar Allan Poe stories to film and also that Roger Corman felt he had a hit on his hands and when they got released in the 1960s ere, they were a massive hit and box office gold, but what Roger Corman did is make the audiences aware of the existence of the Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems. Kim talks in great detail about Poe’s personal life, where he had a drink problem and was always sending out begging letters to people asking for money so he could carry on doing his work, but it was his Mother-in-Law who sent money to him to support him, as he was always poor. Kim also mentions that all Poe’s stories were very short, but of course the filmmakers tried to adapt the stories and had to add extra material to make the film worthwhile for the paying audiences, which Kim points out that it of course does not make it a real Edgar Allan Poe film. But Kim does point out one full length novel that Edgar Allan Poe wrote and that was “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” and feels this would make a really totally ideal gothic horror film, but feels it would be too expensive to shoot. Kim then moves onto Roger Corman the producer/director and the American International Pictures films he made, which of course included ‘The Haunted Palace,’ ‘The Premature Burial’ and ‘The Raven,’ which basically were not really Edgar Allan Poe films. Kim also mentions the films ‘The Mask of the Red Death’ and ‘Tomb of Ligiea,’ but in the end Roger Corman was getting fed up with this treadmill of Poe films he had been churning out, as basically they are in fact the same premise of Poe films, but with different variations. Kim finally sums up Edgar Allan Poe, in saying he was marginally successful in his own time, a man who sort of destroyed his own reputation, before other people could do it for him. Kim also feels Roger Corman got it spot on and not the AIP film studio and feels Edgar Allan Poe speaks to the people and especially angry, crazy people. Kim also mentions the last Roger Corman film based on Edgar Allan Poe and that was ‘Gas-s-s-s.’ One sad fact that Kim points out, is that with all the adaptions of Edgar Allan Poe stories, it is a shame Edgar Allan Poe is not around today to pick up all the royalties from all of the film adaptions. So all in all a very nice insight into the life and times of Edgar Allan Poe and also hearing about the films that have been adapted from Poe’s stories and poems. Producers: Anthony Neil and Michael Brookes. Executive Producer: Francesco Simeoni. Cinematography: Michael Brooke.

Special Feature: Anne Billson on Cats in Horror Films [2014] [1080p] [1.85:1] [9:10] Anne Billson is a novelist, film critic and photographer, whose work appears regularly in national newspapers and magazines. Anne Billson is also the creator of the “Cats on Film blog, and also the author of the short story “My Day with Jones,” which retells the events in the film ‘ALIEN’ from the viewpoint of the Nostromo’s only feline crew member. Anne Billson also discusses the contribution our feline friends have contributed to the genre of the cinema. Here we find this very strange and eccentric looking Anne Billson sitting in here lounge, but what is even weirder is seeing Anne wearing red gloves, that gives the impression Anne is allergic in handling books, which we see Anne reading from a particular large book which Anne is reading from while looking at the camera. Here Anne tells us that she is here to talk about cats that have appeared in films and especially horror films, which cats play a very important role in films. Anne also informs us that cats are the most domestic animals in the world, but that cats also have a darker side to their personality. In ancient Egypt they were worshipped as gods, and in medieval times they were associated with witches and a great deal of negative superstition, especially around nocturnal times, which is what you get to see in horror films. But even weirder is that Anne starts producing loads of toy cats that she drapes over herself. Anne also talks about the important categories, like in horror films that Anne calls “CATZILLA,” which refers to badly behaved cats, which cause destruction, pain and death, or seeking revenge on murderers or would be murderers, who avenge the dead mistress or even dead cats. Anne also talks about the film ‘TALES OF TERROR’ where Peter Lorre gets caught out because the cat has been walled up with the corpses. Anne also talks about the films related to cats, which include ‘The Shadow of the Cats,’ Eye of the Cat’ and ‘The Uncanny.’ Anne next talks about the subject entitled “PUSSZILLA,” which hints at great evil, without doing much and especially with cats that have appeared in the James Bond films, but also talks about cats that have appeared in films like ‘Inferno,’ ‘Black Sabbath,’ ‘Sentinel,’ ‘The Perfume of the lady in Black’ and ‘The Corpse Grinders.’ Anne also informs us that cats do not get all their own way and talks about “THE CATRIFICE,” where the cat is mistreated in the narrative, especially in films like ‘Beware! The Blob,’ ‘Drag Me To Hell’ and ‘The Fly.’ But Anne informs us that there is one happy category about cats and that is “THE HEROPUSS,” where a cat saves lives, of chasing off evil in films like ‘The Mummy,’ or chasing off evil demonic spirits in the film ‘Sleep Walker,’ or vampires in ‘Let The Right One In,’ or werewolves in the film ‘An American Werewolf in London,’ or battling off trolls in the film ‘Cats Eye.’ And so ends this very short feature on cats in horror films, especially by the very eccentric Anne Billson, who tends to read mostly from the big book in front of her that was probably written by her or with some collaboration with someone else. Producers: Anthony Neild and Michael Brookes. Executive Producer: Francesco Simeoni. Cinematography: Michael Brookes.

Special Feature: THE BLACK CAT [1993] [1080i] [1.78:1] [18:18] This is a short 1993 short film adaption of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale, co-written and directed by Rob Green, was also adapted by Rob Green and Clive Perrott. Starring Clive Perrott as a condemned prisoner waiting to be hanged for his crime, who relates the story of his crime he carried out, which of course was eventually discovered. It also starred Alison Morrow and David Kincaid. Edgar Allan Poe's ‘THE BLACK CAT’ may well hold the record as having inspired more feature films than any other short story, but this British short is by far the most faithful adaptation yet. Clive Perrott certainly looks the part of Edgar Allan Poe and manages to convey the author's dry sense of humour as well as his sense of impending doom as he awaits the death penalty chained up in a lonely cell. The black cat of the title, which is pivotal to the story, only shows in the final scenes when it neatly switches to animation. But of course with any Edgar Allan Poe, loves to go into great detail of what evil deeds that people want to commit in thinking they can get away with murder, but of course with the end of an Edgar Allan Poe story, the guilty always get their comeuppance. Cast: Clive Perrott, David Kincaid, Alison Morrow, Ralph Perrott, Nick Devaney, Neil Mockler, James McCusker, Mark Webb, Robby Locke, Tony Ellinas and Brian The Magician. Director: Rob Green. Producer: Sarah Carr. Executive producer: Leslie Jones. Composer: Russell Currie. Cinematography: Simon Margetts.

Theatrical Trailer [1962] [180i] [2.35:1] [2:20] This is the original Theatrical trailer for the film ‘TALES OF TERROR.’ Despite the quality of the image is very soft grainy image quality, the bonus is that is presented in great style, in making the viewer to go and view this gothic horror film.

PLUS: Beautiful Designed Reversible Blu-ray sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford, who is a freelance illustrator working out of Studio100 in central London, United Kingdom.

BONUS: Stunning Designed Collector’s 28 page booklet featuring new writing “THREE DOWN, FIVE TO GO” by Roger Clark and “THE BLACK CAT” BY Rob Green. You also get the “CREDIT” to all three filmed stories ‘Morella;’ ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.’ You also get information on “ABOUT THE TRANSFER;” “PRODUCTION CREDITS” and “SPECIAL THANKS.” Plus you get lots of wonderful illustrated artwork, with also the original black-and-white stills from ‘TALES OF TERROR.’

Finally, the Blu-ray of ‘TALES OF TERROR’ is delivered in a package that's quite stylish for its time; it of course features the trademark lush colour palette of the age, but it also features some interesting camerawork, particularly when the film portrays the disoriented state of Montressor's mind in "The Black Cat." The film is often atmospheric and makes use of some elaborate scene-setting, particularly the decrepit mansion in "Morella," and the film's score is appropriately spooky. ‘TALES OF TERROR’ isn't the most conventional of Edgar Allan Poe’s adaptations, and then again, how many have been? But it's a great example of popcorn fun and represents an excellent bridging of two horror legends and time periods. The anamorphic transfer is crisp and clean and the print shows little age and; likewise, the mono soundtrack is very clear and as usual Arrow Video has brought us something truly amazing and extra special and a great honour to add this to my ever increasing Vincent Price Blu-ray Collection. At any rate, ‘TALES OF TERROR’ was the definite highlight of the AIP, Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price cycle. I think they are fun; I love that old school horror atmosphere. As they say, they don’t make them like this anymore. Still, for a fun filled old fashion horror film, with loads of atmosphere and a touch of comedy you can’t go wrong with ‘TALES OF TERROR’ and that about sums up this brilliant eclectic Blu-ray release. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

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