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Blu-ray Reviews for August 14, 2018

Selections from this week’s Blu-ray releases can be found below in this ongoing weekly summary of reviews. Click on any of the following titles to navigate directly to that review. This week’s releases include: Marvel’s killathon The Avengers: Infinity War, Severin’s excellent release of The Changeling, Umbrella Entertainment’s release of Stuart Gordon’s H.P. Lovecraft romp Dagon, the newest zombie comedy Dead Shack, the long-awaited high-def debut of the action cult classic No Escape (aka Escape from Absolom), Shout Factory’s Return of the Living Dead 2, and Arrow Video’s stacked release of the giallo What Have They Done To Your Daughters? A list of other titles also available this week can be found at the end.


Distributor: Disney/Marvel Studios

In “Avengers: Infinity War,” members from every MCU franchise must sacrifice like never before in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Don Cheadle as Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Paul Bettany as Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Peter Dinklage as Eitri, Benedict Wong as Wong, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Dave Bautista as Drax, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, with Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, with Josh Brolin as Thanos, and Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord.

(Spoilers abound. Snap your gigantic Thanos fingers and get out of here instantly.)

I’ve completely lost count of what part of the Avengers series Infinity War is: 17? 18? More than that?

Those numbers sound ludicrous, but once Infinity War begins, it hardly lets up, packing its two-hour running time with a ridiculous amount of action, chaos, and CGI extravaganzas not seen since…maybe ever. Even the synopsis above is exhausting. But it makes sense: if this cinematic embarking of The Avengers were a television show, Infinity War would be the season finale (or the penultimate episode if you’re HBO, who is the only juggernaut who could afford something like this). Infinity War constantly cuts back and forth from team to team, each striving to stop or at least slow down the immortal Thanos (Josh Brolin), who wishes to annihilate half the world’s population in an effort to reset its natural balance. (For the record, if he were real, I would totes be Team Thanos.)

Pretty much all of The Avengers: Infinity War is a balancing act. When you’re dealing with this many beloved characters (with a huge dose of big-name stars who play them), more than anything else, the distribution of these characters is going to be the most insurmountable obstacle to overcome. For the most part, Infinity War admirably handles this (except for Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, who is totally wasted); for most of its running time, the entire ensemble is divided into smaller teams (or sometimes just pairs), allowing everyone smaller moments to go beyond just the spectacle of New York destruction and imbue a little humanity along the way. Tony Stark gets the rare chance to show some paternal instincts toward the lovable pipsqueak Peter Parker (which makes the latter’s death scene more emotional, and which is made more devastating by Tom Holland’s performance). Even Thor and Rocket Racoon (whom Thor continuously refers to as “the rabbit” for added yucks) manage to share a handful of nice, small moments, which is impressive considering one is a God of Thunder stuck in a spacecraft being piloted by a CGI racoon voiced with Bronx-ish cabbie aplomb by Bradley Cooper.

Following on the heels of the hysterical Thor: Ragnarok, the humor in Infinity War pales in comparison, rendering it as somewhat corny and dismissible, but perhaps the comparison is unfair: Infinity War seems to encapsulate the kind of humor that’s been shown throughout the Avengers series, with Thor: Ragnarok’s style of comedy being the anomaly here. (It’s still my fave, however.) The small moments of levity do work more often than they don’t, but the ones that don’t are face-covering/groan worthy.

So, where do the Avengers go from here? Considering half the team has been finger-snapped out of existence, including the just-established Black Panther (Chadwick Bosemen), it’ll be curious to see what comes next. In the world of comic book mysticism, are these characters actually dead? It’s entirely possible (and I’m sure Disney is keen to save a bunch of money from not having to sign multi-picture contracts with those actors again), but time will tell. There’s never been any surer thing than this: The Avengers will be back — whatever’s left of them.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Strange Alchemy (5:08) – Share the thrill of characters from across the MCU meeting for the first time—and discover why some were teamed up together.
  • The Mad Titan (6:34) – Explore the MCU’s biggest, baddest villain, his trail of influence through the stories, and the existential threat he represents.
  • Beyond the Battle: Titan (9:36) – Dive into the climactic struggle on Thanos’ ruined world, including the epic stunts and VFX, to uncover the source of its power.
  • Beyond the Battle: Wakanda (10:58) – Go behind the scenes to find out how the filmmakers pulled off the most massive and challenging battle Marvel had ever attempted.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (10:07)
  • Happy Knows Best (1:23) – Tony and Pepper spar over the details of their upcoming wedding—until a hassled Happy Hogan pulls up with an urgent request.
  • Hunt for the Mind Stone (1:24) – On a darkened street, Wanda Maximoff and the wounded Vision attempt to hide from Thanos’ brutal allies.
  • The Guardians Get Their Groove Back (3:20) – As Peter Quill and Drax quarrel over their failed mission to Knowhere, Mantis interrupts with news.
  • A Father’s Choice (4:00) – Thanos confronts Gamora with a vision from her past—and with lying to him about the Soul Stone.
  • Gag Reel (2:05)– Watch your favorite Super Heroes make super gaffes in this lighthearted collection of on-set antics.
  • Audio Commentary (approx. 149 min.) by Anthony and Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.


Distributor: Severin Films

A Manhattan composer (George C. Scott) is consumed by grief after his wife and daughter are killed in a shocking accident. But when he moves to a secluded Victorian mansion, he will find himself haunted by a paranormal entity that may unleash an even more disturbing secret. Trish Van Devere (The Hearse), two-time Oscar® winner Melvyn Douglas (Being There) and Barry Morse (Asylum) co-star in “one of the most unsettling ghost stories ever” (IFC.com), winner of 8 Genie Awards – including Best Foreign Actor, Best Foreign Actress and Best Canadian Film – and based on actual events.

The ghost movie has become my favorite faction of the horror genre over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the more visceral thrills of seeing some masked ‘80s psycho remove a handful of teen heads, but if I want to feel unnerved and creeped out, I’ll go for the ghost flick every time. Either filmmakers are getting more refined, or the firewall of horror I spent my entire life reinforcing is being pared down as I get older, leaving me more vulnerable to those cinematic ghosts invading my psyche and giving me the super creepers.

In the pantheon of the haunted house film, 1980’s The Changeling easily joins the ranks of the original Robert Wise classic The Haunting as being one of the classiest ghost flicks of all time. Staffed exclusively with adult actors (gasp!) — legendary ones like George C. Scott at that — and made by an honest-to-gosh filmmaker, Peter Medak (The Ruling Class, Romeo is Bleeding), this modestly priced Canadian production doesn’t just hail from the old school approach of less is more, but exemplifies it. Much like The Haunting, which used off-screen noises, dramatic camera angles, and eerie ambience to flavor its tone, The Changeling relies on restrained techniques and not a single large set piece or moment of gore or violence. It relies solely on the talent of its lead actors, Scott and his real-life wife Trish Van Devere, and Medak’s assured hand to wrench every possible scare from a scene.

As you might assume, in a film about a haunted mansion, the production design is astounding. The house, haunted or otherwise, and very run down in spots, is beautiful, including its artificial ficade. Scott rides high on a career of having played very domineering and intimidating characters (Patton — enough said), so to see him traversing the wide, dark hallways of the Chessman Park house with fear in his eyes as he investigates a phantom pounding sound makes the audience even more afraid. If the guy who played George S. Patton is freaked, then we, the audience, really should be. Still, Scott’s John Russell is a quiet, docile, haunted, and gentle man — in stark contrast to some of the more acerbic characters he’s played in the past. In a few small moments, he lets his grief get the best of him, staringly forlornly at a painting or sobbing quietly in his new bed in his new home as he continues to come to grips with his newly severed family. He even only does the infamous George C. Scott yell once — once!

The film’s plot unfolds in the most realistic way possible — or, at least as realistic as one can be when your plot involves ghostly apparitions and noises, telepathic communication, and political conspiracies. The origin of this screenplay, however, is allegedly based on “real events.” From Wiki:

The film’s screenplay was inspired by mysterious events that allegedly took place at the Henry Treat Rogers mansion in Cheesman Park, Denver, Colorado, while playwright Russell Hunter was living there during the 1960s. After experiencing a series of unexplained phenomena, Hunter said he found a century-old journal in a hidden room detailing the life of a disabled boy who was kept in isolation by his parents. During a séance, he claimed, the spirit of a deceased boy directed him to another house, where he discovered human remains and a gold medallion bearing the dead boy’s name.

Believe as much or as little of that as you wish. It definitely won’t take away from your enjoyment of the film these so-called occurrences directly inspired.

If you’re a devotee of the haunted house sub-genre, it’s nearly impossible not to see how The Changeling inspired filmmakers like James Wan and even Hideo Nakata: the auto-writing scene with the paranormal investigator plays out very closely to Wan’s own Insidious; the strange music box, which enjoys the final shot of the film is straight out of The Conjuring; and then there’s the body-in-the-well revelation from Ringu, which unfolds the same way. Classics, even when they’re not heralded as much as they should be by mainstream audiences, never fully go away, so long as their inspiration carries over to the next generation of filmmakers. The Changeling proves this.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Audio Commentary With Director Peter Medak and Producer Joel B. Michaels Moderated By Severin Films’ David Gregory
  • The House On Cheesman Park: The Haunting True Story Of The Changeling
  • The Music Of The Changeling: Interview With Music Arranger Kenneth Wannberg
  • Building The House Of Horror: Interview With Art Director Reuben Freed
  • The Psychotronic Tourist: The Changeling
  • Master of Horror Mick Garris On The Changeling
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • Trailer
  • TV Spot


Distributor: Umbrella Entertainment (Region Free)

Based on the short story by the undisputed master of the macabre, H. P. Lovecraft. A boating accident off the coast of Spain sends Paul and his girlfriend to the dilapidated fishing village of Imboca looking for help. As night falls people start to disappear and things not quite human start appearing. Paul finds himself pursued by the entire town and discovers Imboca’s  dark secret whilst running for his life… the freakish half-human creatures that populate the town. They pray to Dagon, a monsterous God of the sea. All outsiders are sacrificed, the men are skinned alive and the women offered as unwilling brides to bear Dagon’s unholy children.

I’ve never been a huge fan of director Stuart Gordon outside of the original Re-Animator, but I respect any director who willfully and consistently works in the horror genre. Along with Re-Animator, Gordon has steadily adapted many of horror author H.P. Lovecraft’s icky tales, including From Beyond, Castlefreak, Dreams in the Witch House, and finally, Dagon. Though his efforts vary in both loyalty and quality (again, I love Re-Animator, but it shares very little in common with the original story), his dedication to doing Lovecraft right is admirable.

Back during its initial 2001 release, about which I only knew because of its coverage in Fangoria Magazine, I gave Dagon a fair shot but determined it was another in a long-line of overhyped under-the-radar horror releases that fanboys would heap praise upon simply because it wasn’t “mainstream.” Seventeen years later, I’m not prepared to say that the hype was worth it, and oh what a fool I’ve been, but I will say it plays a lot better for me now than it did back then.
For much of its running time, Dagon sidesteps gore and violence in favor of otherworldliness and a definite creep factor. Gordon has never tried to be “scary” like he does in Dagon; the director’s most well-known works are celebrated more for their shock value and violent gore gags. But as our lead hero, Paul Marsh, stumbles through the rain-drenched Spanish town of Imboca looking for his missing wife, and as the mysterious, mutant town citizens stumble in the background toward him in the midst of undergoing their strange transformation, the realization that this is actually pretty creepy begins to sink in. Don’t get me wrong, by film’s end, faces will be carved entirely off their skulls and worn, Leatherface-style, by the fishy members of the town, but until that point, Gordon chooses to walk a classy path of strange eeriness.

This being a low-budget, early 2000s production, whichever visual effects Dagon attempts look very poor. Thankfully there are only a handful of moments that call for these kinds of set-pieces that would be physically bigger than the production could afford, and even more thankfully, the film’s reliance mostly on practical effects works out because they all look great and very imaginative.

In general, Dagon isn’t a slam dunk as a horror experience, but it’s certainly one of the strongest titles in Gordon’s filmography and also one of the more solid Lovecraft adaptations out there. Hopefully this reissue of the film will allow it to be reintroduced, as it did me, to people who either dismissed it the first time, or who are completely unaware that it exists at all.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Making-of Featurette
  • Interviews:
    • Macarena Gomez
    • Stuart Gordon
    • Raquel Meroño
    • Ezra Godden
  • Interviews from the Set:
    • Stuart Gordon
    • Julkio Fernández
    • Raquel Meroño
    • Ezra Godden
    • Francisco “Paco” Rabal
  • Trailer
  • Teaser
  • TV spots


Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

It’s shaping up to be a good weekend for Jason, a shy teenager. He’s driving up to a cabin in the woods with his brash best friend Colin, Colin’s older sister Summer, and their father and stepmother Roger and Lisa, who are permanently stuck in party mode. But things quickly go south when Jason, Colin and Summer witness their neighbor feeding two locals to her undead husband and kids. Realizing their own potential fate, the kids must work together to bash in some zombie skulls and save themselves from the neighbor’s ghoulish family.

The zombie comedy. People are still making these!

But you know what they say: you can’t keep a chuckling ghoul down.

To its credit as a zombie comedy (a zombedy, if you will), Dead Shack is at least funny. Not consistently funny, with most of its gutter-mouth Superbad-inspired humor landing very flat, but I’d at least say that Dead Shack spends more of its time being funny than not funny. Donavon Stinson as Roger, the family’s patriarch, is hands-down the biggest purveyor of the film’s best humor. His interactions with Lisa, his hard-drinking girlfriend, especially, are tremendously dry and strange and often very funny.

Being that we’re dealing with a zombie movie, Dead Shack is also violent. Very violent. And it’s that wonderful old school practical violence that I’ve really come to miss in genre entertainment. Heads come off, neck wounds spurt geysers of blood, axes fly into and connect with bodies, etc. It’s a joyful romp of gore — this, at the very least, won’t disappoint genre fans.

Since I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who thinks the zombie market has become saturated, you’ll be pleased to know that Dead Shack at least has somewhat of a unique concept, mostly in the form of Neighbor (she’s never given a name) played by Lauren Holly, who suits up in SWAT gear and corrals the hapless directly into the mouths of her zombified family. It’s interesting in that she’s clearly the villain of the piece, yet the audience develops empathy toward her anyway because she’s clearly not in her right mind and is having tremendous difficulty dealing with the death of her family.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Dead Shack never turns into one of those …of the Dead scenarios where shit hits the fan in the final act and hordes of zombies begin stampeding through shopping malls and underground military bases. Dead Shack keeps things pretty intimate in that regard, though the stakes still remain fairly high.

If you’re a fan of the zombie genre, Dead Shack certainly ranks as one of the better titles you should seek. Lord knows the zombie thing has been done to death (ha!), but every so often there’s a reason to not completely dismiss it out of hand, either. You can thank Dead Shack for that newest slice of redemption.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Dead Shack Behind the Scenes
  • Dead Shack Trailer


Distributor: Umbrella Entertainment (Region Free)

In the year 2022, society has created the ultimate solution for its most ruthless criminals. Absolom, a remote jungle island where prisoners are abandoned and left to die. For most, Absolom means no escape, no hope and virtually no chance of survival. But for convicted Marine Captain, John Robbins (Ray Liotta, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For), the ultimate prison becomes the ultimate challenge – to clear his name, he’ll have to first escape from Absolom…

If you’ve heard of 1994’s Escape from Absolom at all, it’s likely by its American title, No Escape (not the Owen Wilson film of the same name). Though it opened at #1 at the box office during its weekend debut, it would ultimately fail to make back its production budget, relegating it to live in home video obscurity. Director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale), relatively unknown at that time, helms an adaption of Richard Herley’s obscure 1987 novel The Penal Colony and staffs it mainly with character actors — and Ray Liotta in a rare heroic leading man role. The likes of Stuart Wilson (Death and the Maiden), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), the immeasurably cool Lance Henriksen (Aliens), a very pre-Entourage Kevin Dillon, and many more “hey, it’s that guy!” folks fill out the diverse cast — none of whom would be considered box office draws.

No Escape was one of the many unexpected titles I thrived on as a kid; a version recorded off television (mostly likely Prism) enjoyed dozens of revolutions in our trusty VCR. Though it’s a fairly violent film, the idea of two warring prisoner factions attacking each other’s very rustic fortresses clad in armor and wielding weapons both futuristic as well as those obviously made from forest implements was hugely alluring to a child’s overactive imagination. No Escape, in a sense, actually plays like an adult person of Hook, with the Insiders (good guys) taking on the adult counterpart roles of the Lost Boys who live by their own code and with their own sense of order. Houses are constructed from logs and tree trunk wood, clothes are burlap, weapons and armor are fashioned from bamboo, and the less said about their food, the better. And then, like a grown up and cynical Peter Pan, Ray Liotta’s John Robbins drops unexpectedly into their lives — although, instead of re-learning how to fly, he learns how to kill a bunch of bad dudes with an array of fun firearms alongside other people instead of killing a bunch of bad dudes by his lonesome.

Additionally interesting is the dichotomy of the prison island’s inhabitants, because everyone on the island deserves to be there — everyone has taken lives — but yet the prisoners naturally deflect to either side. If you’re semi-bad but bare some regret for your shiftless life, you become an Insider and you live as an undersupplied and undernourished member of what’s essentially a poor community, but if you’re really bad, you become a member of the Outsiders — the baddest of the bad who are offered a very unfair advantage by the Warden who drops off supplies from a helicopter (which include the aforementioned futuristic weapons) to ensure the two factions remain constantly at war. Even among prisoners, the Insiders strive to be good, under the paternal guidance of the Father (Henriksen). The film acknowledges that, yes, people can make poor choices, but even when living in the physical manifestation of oblivion where there is no chance of salvation — where there’s nothing to be gained from living in peace; there’s no such thing as time off for good behavior — some still choose to live as good men anyway.

Much of No Escape can be explored and further analyzed; its futuristic setting (sort of — this movie takes place in or around 2022, which is depressingly right around the corner) is once again a warning on where a failing society can lead: rich vs. poor exaggerated to the nth degree, and the idea of a for-profit prison system are two aspects of the plot that are still in constant conversation today.

Liotta’s John Robbins is an interesting lead; even when the hardened bad-ass Marine eventually softens, Liotta still plays him as intimidating and slightly cold, unwilling to grow close to any of the men. In particular, Robbins takes Kevin Dillon’s Casey, a young and hapless would-be kidnapper, under his wing (sort of)…yet he still maintains a detectably off-putting presence toward him. He’s that film father who offers tough love from the very start, and only at the end when his ice melts does he reveal himself as someone empathetic and warm; here, however, this film father fails on that second part. Liotta can play warm — 2001’s mediocre drug flick Blow proves this — but in No Escape, where he’s playing the hero for the first time in his career, he seems to have trouble playing someone strong and heroic but also someone who surrenders to the warmth and shared community of the Insiders’ camp. As such, the audience never fully warms up to him, even as he slowly sheds his lone-wolf sensibilities in favor of living in a community — or the closest thing to it he can find.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • Making Of Featurette 1
  • Making Of Featurette 2
  • Trailer
  • TV Spot 1
  • TV Spot 2
  • TV Spot 3
  • TV Spot 4
  • English, French, German, Italian And Spanish Language Options


Distributor: Shout! Factory
The zombies have returned! The horror begins again as mysterious barrels bounce off an Army transport as it passes through a new housing development and land near an abandoned cemetery. Mischievous neighborhood boys discover the barrels and open them, unaware of the evil contained within. A deadly green vapor escapes and turns the living into flesh-eating zombies and causes the dead to rise from their graves. As these hideous living dead hunt down the fresh human brains they need, man is pitted against man, and the living against the dead. It is a macabre struggle for survival!

Like all other horror franchises, Return of the Living Dead eventually lost its way, succumbing to straight-to-Sci-Fi-Channel sequel oblivion stocked with actors you’ve never heard of (and Peter Coyote) and with budgets so low that they made even Night of the Living Dead feel opulent. Some folks who profess to be horror fans don’t actually know there are a total of five films in this franchise. I don’t blame them. After the classic original film, which I consider to be the quintessential example of how to make a horror-comedy, the trajectory of the ensuing sequels were tonally all over the place, vying sometimes for a straightforward horror experience, and sometimes vying for extreme, unmatched, unprecedented stupidity. Return of the Living Dead 2, the only sequel to be financed and distributed by a major studio (Warner Bros.), is desperate to achieve the same magic tonal balancing act as its predecessor but isn’t nearly as successful.

Return of the Living Dead was very much a product of the ‘80s, filled with a bevy of absolutely delightful special effects and make-up, an inspired punk soundtrack, and a gleefully unrestrained Dan O’Bannon, who strived to push both genres to their breaking points. The teenage faction of the main cast were additionally punked out: mohawks, big hair, neon and pastel colors, leather, chains – you name it. It was very ‘80s, but a different kind of ‘80s.

The sequel wisely chose to eschew this particular punky approach (as it would have seemed even more derivative) in favor of another series of ‘80s tropes: the plucky boy hero, aerobics, and Michael Jackson. What results is a movie that feels more like its own entity rather than something sequalizing something else; Return of the Living Dead 2 is part and parcel with many other horror flicks with this sort of tone that pervaded theaters back during this magical decade. Titles like Night of the Creeps (and Night of the Comet), The Blob, Neon Maniacs, C.H.U.D., and more offer a very playful tone juxtaposed against creepy imagery, with all kinds of fun violence to boot. I genuinely believe that Return of the Living Dead 2’s reputation would be far more celebrated had it been released under a different title. Compared to its predecessor, it’s not nearly as fun, funny, vicious, or by default, original. But it’s not a totally dismissible effort, either. (That wouldn’t start until Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis.) Much of the humor still works, the entire cast is game (including Twin Peaks’ Dana Ashbrook and my longtime childhood crush, Suzanne Snyder), and the gore gags, though somewhat neutered when compared to the original, are still pretty icky/gooey for a mainstream studio release.

In an odd bit of stunt casting and surreal humor, James Karen and Thom Matthews (the doomed warehouse workers from the previous film who most certainly did not survive their encounters with the undead), appear as different characters: Burke and Hare-ish grave robbers who can’t quite put a finger on why their new zombie perils feels so…familiar. It’s a weird gag and sort of groan-inducing in its unsubtlety, but it’s still a delight to have them, and frankly is a joke that should have kept going well into the series.

Return of the Living Dead 2 is an example of a very middle-of-the-road sequel. It harps on all the highpoints of its predecessor without mastering any of them, but it’s still worthy of attention. I’d even go as far as to call it a highlight of the ‘80s, if you can put aside its lineage and look at it as a standalone brain-munching romp.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • NEW 2K Scan From The Interpositive
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Actress Suzanne Snyder
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Gary Smart (Co-author Of The Complete History Of The Return Of The Living Dead) And Filmmaker Christopher Griffiths
  • NEW Back To The Dead: The Effects Of Return Of The Living Dead Part II – Including Interviews With Special Make-up Effects Creator Kenny Myers And Special Make-up Effects Artists Andy Schoneberg And Mike Smithson
  • NEW The Laughing Dead – An Interview With Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn
  • NEW Undead Melodies – An Interview With Composer J. Peter Robinson
  • NEW Interview With Actor Troy Fromin
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn And Co-star Thor Van Lingen
  • They Won’t Stay Dead: A Look At Return Of The Living Dead Part II Including Interviews With James Karen, Thom Mathews, Brian Peck, Kenny Myers, Susan Snyder, Michael Kenworthy, And More…
  • Archival Featurette – Live From The Set
  • Archival Interviews With Ken Wiederhorn, James Karen, Thom Matthews, And Kenny Myers
  • Behind-the-scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer And Teaser Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery Of Posters And Stills
  • Still Gallery Of Behind-the-scenes Stills From Makeup Effects Artists Kenny Myers And Mike Smithson


Distributor: Arrow Video
In 1972, director Massimo Dallamano (Colt 38 Special Squad, The Night Child) broke new ground in the giallo genre with the harrowing What Have You Done to Solange? Two years later, he followed up with an even darker semi-sequel – the chilling What Have They Done to Your Daughters? A teenage girl is found hanging from the rafters of a privately rented attic, pregnant and violated. Hot-headed Inspector Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli, The Suspicious Death of a Minor) and rookie Assistant District Attorney Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli, Cold Eyes of Fear) are assigned to the case, the scope of which grows substantially when they discover that the dead girl was part of a ring of underage prostitutes whose abusers occupy the highest echelons of Italian society. Meanwhile, a cleaver-wielding, motorcycle-riding killer roars through the streets of Brescia, determined to ensure that those involved take their secret to the grave. Also starring Mario Adorf (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) and Farley Granger (Strangers on the Train) and featuring an insanely catchy score by Stelvio Cipriani (Death Walks on High Heels), What Have They Done to Your Daughters? is a fast-paced, brutal and unforgettable thriller from a director at the peak of his creative powers.

One of the most popular European cinematic sub-genres of the ‘60s and ‘70s was the giallo — a hyper-stylized approach to filmmaking that was pioneered by Italian filmmakers Mario Bava and Dario Argento, and which would be largely credited as the inspiration behind the slasher sub-genre. This movement got its name from the array of paperback pulp fiction novels from the same era whose cover designs were uniformly yellow (“giallo” in Italian), which were filled with masked murders, gruesome violence, and sexytime. It was a cinematic movement that prided itself on style over substance, with the plot often secondary (and in the case of Argento, revisited time and time again). Even if one’s exposure to the giallo movement were limited only to the films of Bava, Argento, and Lucio Fulci (not to mention J.P. Simon’s ridiculous Pieces, which totally counts,) it’s not hard to have developed at least a rudimentary idea of what defines a giallo: the killer’s point of view, the leather gloves, the rich red blood, the discotheque score, the unrestrained sexuality, and the abstract non-linear sense of time.

Another movement also came to prominence during this time, spearheaded by European filmmakers less interested in depicting the ghastly crimes and more in the ensuing police investigations that looked into them. Called poliziotteschi, these were dark and gritty cop and crime thrillers that often offered the same kind of pulpy thrills and graphic violence, but in far less amounts. In American terms, films like Dirty Harry and The Laughing Policeman would be considered poliziotteschi, even though they were less graphic than their European colleagues. While poliziotteschi weren’t necessarily graphic with horrific imagery, they often could be. Italian director Massimo Dallamano, who had previously directed a more typical giallo What Have You Done with Solange? returns with what’s been called a spiritual sequel, What Have They Done with Your Daughters?

What makes Daughters so notable is that it’s commonly believed to be the first giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid, focusing both on graphic murder sequences and the ensuing police investigation. In giallo terms, think The Bird with the Crystal Plumage meets a less gun-loving Dirty Harry. That’s not to say that Daughters is a bodycount giallo in the same way that films like Pieces or Tenebrae were, so those looking for that kind of visceral experience may be disappointed. In fact, I’d imagine that Daughters may scratch the itch more for someone looking for a typical poliziotteschi experience, as that’s the dominating component.

Dallamano stages several intense and beautifully crafted stalking scenes, most notably the one in the parking garage of the District Attorney’s apartment building; the camera lingers just over the killer’s shoulder as he rushes in between lines of parked car and adamantly chases down his intended victim. But then later, once the viewer has become accustomed to this giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid, Dallamano will suddenly unleash a very action-oriented chase scene involving the killer on his motorcycle and the police, filmed with the same kind of energy and zest as shown by the likes of Peter Yates (Bullitt) and William Friedkin (The French Connection), known for having directed the most renowned car chase scenes in film history.

Like pretty much every other giallo, the plot of Daughters doesn’t fully come together, depending on a handful of coincidences and happy accidents for the plot to move forward, and the comeuppance of the killer could fairly be considered anticlimactic. (Spoiler: the killer is masked the entire film, leading the audience to believe that his or her identity, when revealed, will eventually be some kind of twist — it’s not. The killer is just some dude.) But Dallamano captures and delivers the story with such confidence that it’s easy to overlook Daughters’ shortcomings.

THE SUPPLEMENTS:

The complete list of special features is as follows:

  • 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless Italian and English mono soundtracks
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
  • Masters and Slaves: Power, Corruption & Decadence in the Cinema of Massimo Dallamano, a new video essay by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine
  • Eternal Melody, an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
  • Dallamano’s Touch, an interview with editor Antonio Siciliano
  • Unused hardcore footage shot for the film by Massimo Dallamano
  • Italian theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Mackenzie


Also Available This Week:

Distributor: Lionsgate Films

In his quest for power, D.C. aide Michael Lawson (David Corenswet) will do anything to take part in Senator Baines’s (David James Elliott) White House campaign, including blackmailing Baines’s shady advisor (Adrian Grenier) and sleeping with the candidate’s wife (Mimi Rogers). But when he gets involved with the senator’s alluring daughter, Lawson (Grace Victoria Cox) learns his dangerous game could have a deadly payoff. Also starring Thora Birch, this pulse-pounding thriller is a perfect match for today’s turbulent political climate.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Director/Producer Eric Bross
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailer Gallery

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Bad Samaritan is a terrifying cautionary tale of two thieves uncovering more than what they bargained for when breaking into a house they thought would be an easy score. After making a shocking discovery, they must choose to run and hide, or face the killer whose dark secrets they have exposed. Directed by Dean Devlin and written by Brandon Boyce, Bad Samaritan was produced by Dean Devlin, Marc Roskin and Rachel Olschan-Wilson and executive produced by Brandon Lambdin and Carsten Lorenz. Electric Entertainment distributed the film theatrically.

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • English SDH subtitles for the main feature

Distributor: Arrow Video

From late splatter movie master Herschell Gordon Lewis, who brought you infamous “video nasty” Blood Feast, his appropriately-titled The Gore Gore Girls is perhaps his grisliest, most outrageous offering of all time!

A vicious killer with a twisted sense of humour is butchering the girls of a go-go dancing club. As the grim death toll mounts, young reporter Nancy Weston teams up with obnoxious but dapper private investigator Abraham Gentry to try and crack the case. Nipples are snipped, faces are fried and asses are tenderized as The Gore Gore Girls hurtles towards its shocking (and hilarious) conclusion.

Also including H.G. Lewis’ 1971 hicksploitation oddity This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! as a bonus feature, The Gore Gore Girls is now even more lewd, crude, and just downright rude in eye-popping HD!

Special Features:

  • Bonus Feature! 1971’s This Stuff’ll Kill Ya!
  • Introductions to the films by H.G. Lewis
  • Audio commentary on The Gore Gore Girls with H.G. Lewis
  • Audio commentary on This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! with camera operator and Lewis biographer Daniel Krogh
  • Author Stephen Thrower on The Gore Gore Girls
  • Regional Bloodshed – filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons on Lewis’ legacy as a pioneer of regional indie filmmaking
  • Herschell Spills His Guts – H.G. Lewis discusses his career post-The Gore Gore Girls and his further adventures in the world of marketing
  • This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil

Distributors: Lionsgate Films

London in the 1970s finds most suburban teens yearning to be punk rockers and Enn is no exception. When crashing a party thrown by Queen Boadicea, Enn discovers what he first thinks are foreign exchange students. Before the party is over, though, he discovers that they have traveled much farther. They are aliens from another galaxy that have come to Earth in order to fulfill a rite of passage with a dark twist. Enn, who has fallen for one of the girls, must put a stop to it in order to save the alien he has fallen for.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Director John Cameron Mitchell and Actors Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp
  • Making an Otherworldly Production
  • Deleted Scenes

Distributor: Warner Bros.

When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) turns regret into reset by going back to college…landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna—now Dee Rock—embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.

Special Features:

  • ‘80s Party
  • Mom Sandwich
  • Line-O-Rama
  • Bill Hate-O-Rama
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes

Distributor: IFC Midnight via Shout! Factory

What happens when you throw together a fallen Mexican wrestler with serious rage issues, a just-out-of-prison ex-con with a regrettable face tattoo, and a recovering junkie motel owner in search of a kidney? That’s the premise of the berserk, blood-spattered, and wickedly entertaining feature debut from Ryan Prows. Set amidst the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, Lowlife zigzags back and forth in time as it charts how fate—and a ruthless crime boss—connects three down-and-out reprobates mixed up in an organ harvesting scheme that goes from bad to worse to off-the-rails insane. Careening from savagely funny to just plain savage to unexpectedly heartfelt, this audacious thriller serves up nonstop adrenaline alongside hard-hitting commentary about the state of contemporary America.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Director Ryan Prows And Cinematographer Benjamin Kitchens
  • Audio Commentary With Director Ryan Prows And Writers Tim Cairo, Jake Gibson, And Shaye Ogbonna
  • Making-of Featurette
  • Short Films

Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Four siblings move to America with their mother to escape a troubled past. When she dies, they vow to stay together, no matter what. But when a ghostly presence torments what’s left of their family, and a lawyer threatens their pact, the four must stand together or be torn apart forever in this chilling thriller. From the producers of Pan’s Labyrinth and starring George Mackay (Captain Fantastic), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Charlie Heaton (“Stranger Things”) and Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness).

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Marrowbone Behind The Scenes
  • Marrowbone Visual Effects Reel

Distributor: IFC Midnight via Shout! Factory

When you’re dealing with demons, be careful what you wish for. In this ultra-unsettling occult nightmare, teenage Leah (Nicole Muñoz, Once Upon A Time) finds solace from the recent death of her father — and from her strained relationship with her mother (Laurie Holden, The Walking Dead) — by dabbling in the dark arts. It all seems like harmless fun at first … until an argument leads Leah to do the unthinkable: put a death curse on her mother. Leah immediately regrets her decision, but it may be too late: An evil presence known as Pyewacket has risen — and threatens to destroy both mother and daughter. Backcountry director Adam MacDonald creates hair-raising tension and a complex mother-daughter dynamic in this frightening fable about our darkest desires come to life.

Special Features:

  • Making-of Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

Distributor: VCI

VCI presents in a very special – Ultimate Package – from the low budget, cult-film director, S.F. Brownrigg’s (Poor White Trash 2 and Keep My Grave Open) gory, gruesome, greatness – DON’T OPEN THE DOOR and DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT. 2 Doors… we dare you to open! Both restored from new 2K scans, so bloody good we warn you… To avoid fainting, keep repeating: It’s only a movie…It’s only a Movie! Don’t Open the Door – In this effective, low-budget cult-classic, a dutiful granddaughter goes home to take care of her dying grandmother. Once there, she finds herself trapped inside the house with a homicidal maniac and all hell breaks loose. Don’t Open the Basement – this gory little chiller takes place in an experimental hospital for the criminally insane where the creative thinking director allows several inmates to act out their psychotic delusions (you know, like – necrophilia, paranoia, and popsicles). Things really start to get nuts when a new staffer arrives…starting with the bloody ax murder of the doctor himself and leading to a total takeover of this hallowed institution by its craziest and violent inhabitants.

Special Features:

  • Original Theatrical Trailers on Both Features
  • 2018 Commentary Track On Dont Look In The Basement from Film Historian and Journalist David Del Valle & Genre Director David Decoteau (Puppet Master III: Toulons Revenge)
  • Assorted other Grindhouse Trailers

Distributor: Unearthed Films via MVD Visual

Mary witnesses the brutal suicide of her Father. His death unleashes the savage forces of demonic possession in his daughter. The End of Days is upon the world, famine, drought, looting and chaos are ripping the world apart and the Catholic Church is trying to save an innocent soul from the ravages of satanic possession. Wave after wave of holy men are sent to confront the possessed but what is the Holy Church actually doing? The City on Seven Hills is working on the Second Coming of Christ but before He comes back – the Antichrist must rule for seven years. The Song of Solomon’s true nature is to unleash an evil the world has been waiting for since the beginning of time.

Special Features:

  • Commentary with Stephen Biro & Jessica Cameron
  • Commentary with Stephen Biro, Marcus Koch & Jerami Cruise
  • Behind the Scenes/Making of
  • Outtakes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Video Interview with Actress Jessica Cameron
  • Video Interview with Writer/Director Stephen Biro
  • Video Interview with Special Effects Artist Marcus Koch
  • Video Interview with Director of Photography Chris Hilleke
  • Video Interview with Actor Gene Palubicki
  • Video Interview with Actor David McMahon

Distributor: Arrow Video

For his tenth feature, Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Twelve Monkeys) adapted Mitch Cullin’s celebrated cult novel Tideland, a work he once described as “Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho through the eyes of Amélie.”

To escape her unhappy life in a remote part of Texas, nine-year-old Jeliza-Rose dreams up an elaborate fantasy world. But the reality of having junkie parents – played by Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski) and Jennifer Tilly (Bound) – and the influence of her eccentric neighbours begins to encroach, turning her daydreams ever darker.

A rich slice of Southern Gothic blurring whimsical fantasy with unsettling reality, Tideland is among Gilliam’s most personal works – indeed, with its shifts between the amusing and the macabre, expressive camerawork and striking special effects, the film could be the very definition of Gilliamesque!

Special Features:

  • Commentary by writer-director Terry Gilliam and co-writer Tony Grisoni
  • Introduction by director Terry Gilliam
  • Getting Gilliam, a 45-minute documentary on the making of Tideland by Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice)
  • The Making of Tideland featurette
  • Filming Green Screen featurette with commentary by Gilliam
  • Interviews with Terry Gilliam, producer Jeremy Thomas and actors Jeff Bridges, Jodelle Ferland and Jennifer Tilly
  • Deleted scenes with commentary by Gilliam
  • B-roll footage
  • Gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two choices of original artwork
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell

Distributor: Shout! Factory

She was desperate to have a child … until she was impregnated with THE UNBORN. A young wife (Brooke Adams, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers) suspects that a mysterious doctor (James Karen, The Return Of The Living Dead, Poltergeist) has inseminated her with mutated sperm in an attempt to create a super-human fetus. Unfortunately, there are extreme side-effects. More frightening than Rosemary’s Baby, this chiller features early film roles in the careers of Lisa Kudrow and Kathy Griffin.

Special Features:

  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Producer/Director Rodman Flender And Filmmaker Adam Simon
  • Theatrical Trailer

Distributor: MVD Visual

When it comes to laying down the law with a vengeance, one man can make a difference. Action superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Skyscraper) takes no prisoners as he fights for justice and crushes corruption in this hard hitting adventure that’s “endlessly enjoyable and a whole lot of fun” (Fox-TV)! Johnny Knoxville (Jackass, The Last Stand), Neal McDonough (Captain America: The First Avenger, Minority Report), Michael Bowen (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Jackie Brown) and Ashley Scott (S.W.A.T., Into the Blue) costar in this “bone-cracking, adrenaline-pumping” (Arizona Daily Star) ride inspired by the true story of a man who decided to take a stand – and take back his town!

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary by star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
  • Audio Commentary by Director Kevin Bray, Editor Robert Ivison, and Director of Photography Glen MacPherson
  • ‘Fight the Good Fight’ Stunts Featurette (SD)
  • Deleted Scenes (SD)
  • Bloopers (SD)
  • Alternate Ending (SD)
  • Photo Gallery (TBD)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)

Distributor: IFC Midnight via Shout! Factory

A teenage girl’s coming-of-age arrives with a terrifying twist in this spellbinding take on the werewolf legend. Since birth, Anna (Bel Powley) has been raised in isolation by a man she knows only as Daddy (Brad Dourif, Child’s Play). He has done everything possible to conceal the truth about her origins from her. But when the teenage Anna is suddenly thrust into the real world under the protection of no-nonsense police officer Ellen (Liv Tyler, The Strangers), it soon becomes clear that she is far from ordinary. Unable to adjust to a normal life, Anna finds herself drawn instead to the wild freedom of the forest while struggling to resist the growing bloodlust that has awakened inside her. This moodily atmospheric thriller combines supernatural scares with a myth-like tale of self-discovery.

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Trailer

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Written by

J. Tonzelli is a writer, film critiquer, and avid Arnold/Van Damme/Bronson enthusiast who resides in rural South Jersey. He is the author of "The End of Summer: Thirteen Tales of Halloween" and the "Fright Friends Adventure" series, co-authored with Chris Evangelista. He loves abandoned buildings, the supernatural, and films by John Carpenter. You can read some of his short fiction at his website, JTonzelli.com, or objectify him by staring at his tweets: @jtonzelli. He apologizes for all the profanity.

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