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  • Malibu High (1978) Blu-ray Review

    Malibu High (1978)

    Director: Irvin Berwick

    Starring: Jill Lansing, Katie Johnson, Alex Mann, Tammy Taylor, Stuart Taylor, Wallace Earl Laven, Garth Pillsbury, John Harmon & John Yates

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Jill Lansing, in her only film appearance, stars as underachieving high school student turned hooker in the sleazily fun Malibu High.  An avalanche of misfortune from flunking classes to getting dumped by her steady beau opens the attractively feisty Kim Bentley’s eyes to a whole new career of opportunity.  Before long, getting horizontal turns her grades around and fills her wallet but her scandalous way of life leads the barely legal teen down a deadly path.  Irvin Berwick (The Monster of Piedras Blancas, Hitch Hike to Hell) directs.

    A true crowning jewel from low-budget purveyors Crown International Pictures, Malibu High sells  a sultry cocktail of sex, crime and murder where putting out for a price comes at a fatal cost.  Tonally shifting from teeny sexploitation hilarity to coldblooded crime shocker, failing high schooler Kim Bentley, who self-medicates her troubles with booze and pot, finds her calling when taking up local drug dealer and smalltime pimp Tony (Alex Mann, I Drink Your Blood) on his offer to start hooking for him.  Wildly sexy, Kim takes to her new profession with ease, racking up a clientele of johns while learning the tricks of the trade to pocket extra cash every opportunity she gets.  Sleeping her way to better grades but, unhappy with her current wage, Kim trades up with crime kingpin Lance (Garth Pillsbury, Mistress of the Apes) who rewards her services in flashy cars and lavish accommodations.  In turn, Kim’s role as a high-end prostitute is morphed into a hit girl, commanded with blowing away Lance’s top competitors…  or else.  Fuming with typical teenage jealousy over her ex-boyfriend’s new girl before flaunting her untanned breasts during several sexual rendezvous and ultimately getting off on the pull of trigger, Jill Lansing commands this drive-in favorite with untamed energy and looks that kill, making her memorably but, all-too-brief film career a whirlwind of what could have been.  Constantly throwing curveballs at its audience culminating in a tragic conclusion that’s a far cry from its scandalously bubbly beginnings, Malibu High is exploitation excellence with the skin and violence to back it up!  

    Newly restored in 2K from the 35mm original camera negative, Vinegar Syndrome works wonders with this beaten to death favorite previously banished to a variety of multi-film budget packs.  Arriving with a gorgeous 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, colors are bursting with bright shades seen in such prominent vehicles as an electric blue Mustang and flashy 70s attire.  Additionally, skin tones are natural and sharply detailed while, age-related damage is practically nonexistent in this spectacular handling of one of Crown’s best pictures.  While not a wildly dynamic track, the DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix conveys speech with ease and only fleeting instances of an echoey presence with music inclusions also well supported.  

    Loading the release with a bevy of desirable content, special features include, an Audio Commentary with Producer Lawrence Foldes & Actress Tammy Taylor, Making Malibu High: An Interview with Producer Lawrence Foldes (26:40) is an exceptional sit-down with the producer who made the film at the shocking age of 18 while, sharing stories on the film’s sometimes challenging star, Crown International’s distribution capabilities and his lifelong obsession with films, Playing Annette: An Interview with Actress Tammy Taylor (12:42) catches up with actress who played Kim’s bitter rival in the film and her early desire to act that culminated in early roles in Don’t Go Near the Park and Malibu High while still in college.  Furthermore, Playing the Boss: An Interview with Actor Garth Pillsbury (14:51) finds the actor turned photographer expressing his head-scratching surprise at the film’s continued appeal with fans and recalls his other roles including appearances in two memorable Star Trek episodes, a Q&A from the New Beverly Cinema Screening with Producer Lawrence Foldes, Actress Tammy Taylor & Actor Alex Mann (27:02), Struggle for Israel: A Short Film by Lawrence Foldes (19:57) from 1976, Grandpa & Marika: A Short Film by Lawrence Foldes (11:07) from 1975, the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:17), a Promotional Still Gallery (2:52), DVD edition and a Reversible Cover with slightly modified artwork concluding the impressive slate of extras.

    Fun in the sun where a trigger happy teen hooker makes her living, Malibu High is a wildly different experience than one might expect from its sexploitation teasing poster but, a ride that exceeds itself in all the best ways.  Thriving on its genre-mashing DNA while supplying all the exploitation goods, Vinegar Syndrome’s definitive release does the impossible by urging fans to buy this drive-in staple one last time for its spectacular presentation and stacked supplements, making the release its final statement on home video.  

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available now from Vinegar Syndrome, Malibu High can be purchased via VinegarSyndome.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Colors (1988) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    Colors (1988)

    Director: Dennis Hopper

    Starring: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Maria Conchita Alonso, Don Cheadle & Damon Wayans

    Released by: Shout Select

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Eye-opening at the time of its original release and unfortunately still potent in today’s divided society, Colors presents the dangerous world of gang warfare in a realistically gritty light.  Within a year’s reach of retirement, veteran L.A.P.D. officer Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall, The Godfather) is partnered with hot-headed rookie Danny McGavin (Sean Penn, Milk) in an anti-gang unit.  With clashing personalities, the two must learn to trust one another in order to survive the mayhem of Los Angeles’ South Central district.  Returning Academy Award nominee Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider) back behind the camera, Colors stages the murder of a Bloods gang member that heightens the turf war between the neighboring Crips and Barrio residing hoodlums, culminating in bullets, bloodshed and the police’s role in the center of their fatal path.  Riskily shot in the thicket of real gang territory that adds a genuine honesty to the proceedings and resulted in the actual shooting of extras during filming, Colors doesn’t flinch at the harsh realities of its crime-infested ghettos while, balancing the line of controversial good cop/bad cop approaches in protecting lawmen’s own and the community.  

    Although the casting of Penn and Duvall is inspired, their characters never fully develop as deeply as anticipated while, gang vengeance toward trigger-happy Crip member Rocket (Don Cheadle, House of Lies) takes control of the final act, leaving Hodges and McGavin’s purpose all but lost in the shuffle and shortchanging a still harrowing but, nonetheless weakened conclusion.  Featuring a chart-topping soundtrack of rap hits from such artists as, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane and Salt-N-Pepa, Colors also costars future players Damon Wayans (Lethal Weapon) as a drug-addicted gangbanger, Tony Todd (Candyman) and Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell) in a blink-and-you’ll-miss him role as a young thug.  An intense examination of gang life that has debatably improved over time, Colors is perhaps best recognized for its capturing of the lifestyle’s arguably darkest era and the L.A.P.D.’s equally deadly attempts to right its ship.

    Preserving its unrated cut for the first time on high-definition, Shout Select presents Colors with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Welcoming natural skin tones and lush radiance during the many sunny daytime sequences, black levels found in officer’s uniforms are deeply inky while, the drama’s filmic integrity remains firmly intact with no major anomalies to speak of.  Equipped with a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is never challenged by cracks or pops while, the heavy beats of the film’s hip-hop soundtrack and jackhammering assault of bullets pulverizes onscreen action terrifically.  Carried over from Second Sight’s U.K. edition, special features include, Cry of Alarm: An Interview with Screenwriter Michael Schiffer (28:46) that shares the dangerous risks Schiffer undertook to understand the gang culture and accurately capture members’ speech patterns and slang for the script.  In addition, Cops & Robbers (16:53) hosts Technical Advisor/L.A.P.D. Gang Division Dennis Fanning on his unique career perspectives that were brought to ensure a legitimacy to the story.  Lastly, the film’s Trailer (1:53) is also included while, a hidden Easter Egg (accessed by clicking right of the Trailer in the disc’s bonus features section) offers an additional interview snippet with Screenwriter Michael Schiffer (2:16).  While the lack of supplements may fall short of other Collector’s Edition entries in the Shout Select catalog, what is included is luckily informative.  Appreciatively ensuring the film’s uncut presentation, Colors’ mileage may vary by viewer but, remains a recommendable watch for its believable expression of L.A. gangs and their very real mean streets of the era.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Shout Select, Colors can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Band of the Hand (1986) Blu-ray Review

    Band of the Hand (1986)

    Director: Paul Michael Glaser

    Starring: Stephen Lang, James Remar, Michael Carmine, Leon Robinson, John Cameron Mitchell, Danny Quinn, Al Shannon, Lauren Holly & Larry Fishburne 

    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Executive produced by Michael Mann (Thief, Heat), Band of the Hand finds five incarcerated youths released to an intense rehab program that teaches them survival and value for one another.  Returning to the gang-infested streets of Miami, the one time criminals wage their own war against the drug kingpins destroying it.  

    Retaining the dangerously seductive allure of Mann’s hit television series Miami Vice with the backwoods survival instincts of Lord of the Flies, Band of the Hand makes crime and violence essential to the scenery that both corrupts and cures the film’s pack of anti-heroes.  Serving time for a multitude of offenses, five juvenile felons including, drug trafficker Carlos Aragon (Danny Quinn, Stradivari), punk turned murderer J.L. McEwen (John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), car thief and attempted prison escapee Dorcey Bridger (Al Shannon, Casualties of War) and rival gang leaders Ruben Pancecho (Michael Carmine, Leviathan) and Moss Roosevelt (Leon Robinson, Cool Runnings) find themselves facing lengthy sentences until fate intervenes.  Unknowingly transported to the swampy Everglades and under the watchful eye of Native American Vietnam veteran Joe Tegra (Stephen Lang, Avatar), the hot blooded teens must learn to work together and survive the cruel conditions of nature in an intensely experimental rehabilitation program.  Sharpening their skills and developing a trusting foundation, the group return to the mean streets of Miami where after revitalizing an abandoned house, seek to do the same for the crime-ridden community.  Igniting a war against feared pimp Cream (Larry Fishburne, Boyz n the Hood) and black magic worshipping drug lord Nestor (James Remar, The Warriors) who claimed Carlos’s girlfriend Nikki (Lauren Holly, Dumb & Dumber) for his own, the band of vigilantes have their work cut out for them.

    Helmed with style and a rebelliously youthful attitude by Paul Michael Glaser (The Running Man), Band of the Hand takes cues once again from Crockett and Tubbs with a pop-rock soundtrack of hits from Bob Dylan (who supplies the film’s title track with assistance from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), Prince and Mr. Mister that brings aggressive synergy to the onscreen action.  Following an explosive shootout between the band and Miami’s worst leaving one of their own dead, a go for broke retaliation on Nestor’s drug facility leaves the screen littered with enough bullet holes and bodies to quench the thirst of action hounds.  While the film may be less refined than Mann’s weekly crime series set in the same city, Band of the Hand funnels similar ingredients of fast cars, drug pushers, sexy women and ghettos through the delinquent eyes of teenage thugs turned saviors, making it a worthy and largely overlooked crime thriller drenched in 80s decadence and pastel hues.

    Mill Creek Entertainment presents Band of the Hand with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  While the film bears its fair share of speckling, rearing its head most noticeably in black levels during countless nighttime sequences, skin tones are generally satisfying with colors found in the vibrant costume choices prevalent during the 80s Miami scene popping as appreciatively as one might hope.  Natural grain is notably retained while, screen jitter is observed but mostly held to the film’s opening sequences.  A mixed bag of quality that thankfully never gravely disappoints where it counts, Band of the Hand makes a respectable first leap to high-definition.  Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that treats dialogue with prioritization while, the film’s selection of songs celebrates a healthier emphasis of authority, much like sequences of explosive inferno and machine gun fire, the track is a middle of the road affair that suffices.  Although no on-disc special features are included, a Reversible Cover Art revealing slightly modified poster imagery is provided.

    The heat is on as teenage badasses return to their former stomping ground to clean up the filth and mayhem controlling the streets.  Taking on the likes of pimps and pushers, Band of the Hand mimics the style and energy of Miami Vice with enhanced violence and an imperfect yet, still entertaining execution.  Well casted and vibrantly photographed, Glaser’s directorial feature film debut is a promising urban action opus unfortunately missed by many during its initial release.  Arriving on Blu-ray for the first time ever, Mill Creek Entertainment offers the film a decent debut that admires the colorful sights of its 80s fashion choices and Miami hotspots with appreciable quality.  Void of bonus content, the inclusion of reversible cover art is a rare and welcome treat from the budget label.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available now from Mill Creek Entertainment, Band of the Hand can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Loophole (1981) Blu-ray Review

    Loophole (1981)

    Director: John Quested

    Starring: Albert Finney, Martin Sheen, Susannah York, Colin Blakely, Jonathan Pryce & Robert Morley

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Based on the novel by Robert Pollack, Loophole centers on career criminal Mike Daniels (Albert Finney, Big Fish) and his cronies as they embark on an ambitious heist of one of London’s most prestigious bank vaults.  Requiring the services of a straight man in the highly successful yet, unemployed Stephen Booker (Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now), the desperate architect agrees to join the team in hopes of turning his misfortunes around.  Susannah York (The Awakening), Colin Blakely (The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes), Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and Robert Morley (Around the World in Eighty Days) costar.

    Marking the final directorial effort of John Quested (Philadelphia, Here I Come), Loophole is a tightly crafted and well-executed crime picture bringing the worlds of expert thieves and one down on his luck businessman together for the heist of a lifetime.  Suffering from a series of professional setbacks and living a lifestyle well beyond his means, respected architect Stephen Booker is offered a position unlike anything else.  Discovering a vulnerability in the underground sewer systems, professional bank robber Mike Daniels targets the International Securities Bank holding millions and requires Stephen’s architectural expertise to navigate the team’s entry.  Struggling to repay his own debts while funding his wife’s (York) new interior design business, Stephen agrees to the arrangement pending no violence is utilized.  Efficient and precise in their work, the crew penetrate a nearby manhole cover as they descend under the city to eventually emerge through the floor of the thought to be impenetrable vault.  Tearing through brick walls and combatting poisonous gas, rats and unexpected flooding, the well-thought-out scheme may cost the men their lives before recovering their riches.  Hosting excellent performances from both Finney and Sheen, Loophole may not be the most exciting of pictures yet, the thieving crew’s calculated plot and refreshing camaraderie between them make the film an engaging watch.  In addition, although Stephen’s insistence of nonviolence foreshadows the likelihood of a rogue teammate backstabbing his allies, the lack of such an expected cliché makes seeing the charismatic crew succeed in their mission all the greater.  Critically panned and largely overlooked by audiences at the time of its release, Loophole is a crafty crime thriller worthy of retrieval from the vault.

    Presented with a 1080p transfer and sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, KL Studio Classics’ handling of Loophole is a passable effort that admires accurate skin tones and only slight traces of speckling seen mostly during the film’s opening.  Far from a wide-varyingly colorful feature, costume textures are pleasing while, the crew’s yellow truck pops effectively.  Furthermore, once the thieves enter London’s sewer system black levels are respectable with visibility generally satisfying.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that handles dialogue with ease, Lalo Schifrin’s (Mission: Impossible) score is presented with decent, if not, inconsistent effectiveness while, the click-clang and explosive sound effects during the crew’s penetration of the sewer rings nicely.  Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director John Quested, moderated by FilmWax Radio’s Adam Schartoff.  Lastly, a Trailer Gallery featuring Loophole (1:26), When Eight Bells Toll (2:49), Juggernaut (2:54), Thunderbolt & Lightfoot (2:00), The File of the Golden Goose (2:37) and The Internecine Project (3:00) conclude the disc’s bonus offerings.

    While Loophole may not take more dramatic chances with its narrative, the film offers wonderful performances from its entire cast and delivers an excellent overview of the painstaking planning of a job, perhaps better than most heist films before or after.  Scant on extras, KL Studio Classics breaks this bank robbing picture into the HD realm with admirable results, sure to satisfy cinematic heist hounds with a penchant for the overlooked.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from KL Studio Classics, Loophole can be purchased via KinoLorber.com and other fine retailers.

  • On Dangerous Ground (1952) Blu-ray Review

    On Dangerous Ground (1952)

    Director: Nicholas Ray

    Starring: Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond & Charles Kemper

    Released by: Warner Archive

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Based on the novel by Gerald Butler, On Dangerous Ground centers on hard-nosed city cop Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan, The Wild Bunch) who after being disciplined for excessive force on the job is sent upstate to investigate the murder of a young girl.  Ida Lupino (High Sierra), Ward Bond (Wagon Train) and Charles Kemper (Yellow Sky) costar.

    From rainy metropolis streets to the desolate snowy wilderness, On Dangerous Ground exudes a gritty, weathered dynamic common to the most stylish of film noirs and inflicts a depraved loneliness upon its crime stopping leading man.  While his fellow coppers manage to leave their baggage on the beat, years of cleaning up after pimps, hoods and winos have cast a disgruntled shadow upon New York detective Jim Wilson.  Reprimanded for roughing up one too many suspects, Jim is reassigned upstate to assist in locating the murderer of a young girl.  Teamed with the vengeance-fueled father of the deceased (Bond), Jim’s tracking of the culprit leads him to the cabin of Mary Malden (Lupino) whose blindness and relation to the killer crafts a complicated entanglement between the two lonely souls.  Wonderfully encapsulating the visual aura of noir with smoky alleyways, the fedora-wearing fuzz and rarely seen, for its time, usage of hand-held photography that offers effective stabs of realism, On Dangerous Ground thrives on Ryan’s battered performance of a detective overwhelmed by the plague of life in the big city and Lupino’s beautiful turn as his blind host who after enduring personal tragedy, still finds solace in Jim’s company.  Honored with a prized score from Bernard Herrmann (The Wrong Man, Taxi Driver), On Dangerous Ground is only rattled by a saccharine ending that feels forced and lacks the deeper impact of a more downbeat finale originally intended by its director.  Nonetheless after the dust has settled, Nicholas Ray’s (Rebel Without a Cause) moody crime drama appeals to the finer attributes of the genre with its swift direction and visual aesthetic that likeminded cinephiles of RKO’s rich history lovingly celebrate.

    Warner Archive presents On Dangerous Ground with an impeccable 1080p transfer (1.37:1) that brings exceptional detail in its monochrome photography through radiant black levels, excellently textured costumes and sharply handled facial features.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that spares viewers any popping distortion, dialogue is clear and exacting while, Bernard Herrmann’s thrilling musical queues give surprisingly strong passes on the track for a film of its age.  Recycled bonus supplements include, an Audio Commentary with Film Historian Glenn Erickson that is as rich and expertly researched as one could expect with the film’s Theatrical Trailer (2:10) also on hand.

    Haunted by loneliness and criminal delinquents, On Dangerous Ground delivers a praiseworthy performance from Robert Ryan who finally finds redemption in the tortured soul of Ida Lupino’s Mary.  Capturing the gritty style of film noir, Nicholas Ray’s examination of crime-filled streets and unsavory characters matched with the beauty of its rural Colorado filming locations give the feature its true value.  Exquisitely upstaging its previous release culled from subpar elements, Warner Archive’s new 4K remaster is a revelation that gives the film a second picturesque life.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Warner Archive, On Dangerous Ground can be purchased via WBShop.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers. 

  • Fuzz (1972) Blu-ray Review

    Fuzz (1972)

    Director: Richard A. Colla

    Starring: Burt Reynolds, Jack Weston, Tom Skerritt, Yul Brynner & Raquel Welch

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    When a crazed extortionist targeting public officials descends upon Boston, Fuzz finds the bumbling forces of local law enforcement determined to capture the mysterious criminal using any goofy means necessary.  Burt Reynolds (Deliverance), Jack Weston (The Thomas Crown Affair), Tom Skerritt (Top Gun), Yul Brynner (Westworld) and Raquel Welch (Fantastic Voyage) star in this crime-comedy from Director Richard A. Colla (Battlestar Galactica).

    Set in the 87th Precinct where an apple green makeover is in progress and incompetence runs thick, Fuzz oddly melds police procedural with comedic antics in pursuit of saving Beantown from a mysterious criminal mastermind.  Based on the popular book series and scripted by its creator Ed McBain (under the pseudonym Evan Hunter), Fuzz is as loud and bustling as its set city with rampant activity, chain-smoking and overlapping conversations taking place amongst the undercover detectives’ workspace.  Proving their hilarious nincompoopness time and again, Detective Steve Carella (Reynolds), masquerading as a hobo finds himself torched by youthful punks for kicks while, the arrival of the jaw-droppingly foxy recruit Det. McHenry (Welch) leaves the station struggling to pick their tongues up from the ground.  Following extortion demands and hits on several esteemed city officials from a villainous deaf man (Brynner), the entire department pull their efforts together to bring down the methodical baddie.  Boasting a fine ensemble cast, Fuzz is tonally peculiar but, generally succeeds in capturing laughs while, its more serious agenda as a hard-nosed copper feature feels rather routine.  Although charmingly dated with great moments featuring Reynolds and Weston undercover as nuns while, Welch and Skerritt get trapped within a sleeping bag conducting surveillance, Fuzz has sporadic shades of fun, best served as a nostalgic time capsule where antiquated appearances from speed dial cards and 25 cent peepshow booths take place.

    Newly remastered, Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents Fuzz with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  While its opening titles of city life feature murkier black levels, skin tones are pleasing and well-detailed with the apple green paint applied to the 87th Precinct popping suitably.  In addition, textures seen in costume choices are respectable with natural grain well intact and print damage being of minimal concern.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is audible but can present challenges attributed to actors intentionally speaking over one another.  Occasionally hollow sounding with street ambiance and other subdued effects proving more fortuitous, the final product is decent at best.  Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Richard A. Colla, moderated by Filmmaker Elijah Drenner.  Covering a vast array of topics including, Brian De Palma’s original attachment to the film, praising Hunter’s charming script and location shooting versus backlots, Drenner does an admirable job pulling anecdotes from Colla about the production and his television career.  In addition, “Trailers From Hell” with Josh Olson (3:05) and Trailers for Fuzz (2:58), White Lightning (2:25), Gator (1:09), Sam Whiskey (2:24) and Malone (2:00) round out the bonus features.

    Aligning a comedic touch to the more traditional cop drama it becomes in its later half, Fuzz makes its goofiness prominent and enjoyable with the ensemble cast noticeably having a great time.  A relic of its era that still musters mild charm, Kino Lorber Studio Classics welcomes the adaptation to high-definition with middle of the road results and enlightening commentary on the film from its maker and Academy Award nominated Screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence) respectively.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available now from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Fuzz can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Venom (1982) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    Venom (1982)

    Director: Piers Haggard

    Starring: Sterling Hayden, Klaus Kinski, Sarah Miles, Susan George, Nicol Williamson & Oliver Reed

    Released by: Blue Underground

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Based on the novel by Alan Scholefield, Venom concerns a criminal trio consisting of an attractive maid (Susan George, Straw Dogs), a temperamental chauffeur (Oliver Reed, The Curse of the Werewolf) and an international terrorist (Klaus Kinski, Nosferatu the Vampyre) as they attempt to kidnap a young boy from a lavish London townhouse.  When complications result in a murdered police officer, the unexpected arrival of a deadly black mamba escalates the danger for both the captors and their hostages.  Sterling Hayden (The Killing), Nicol Williamson (Excalibur) and Sarah Miles (The Big Sleep) co-star in this suspenseful thriller.

    The result of a troubled production that initially went before cameras under the direction of Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) before being replaced by Piers Haggard (The Blood on Satan’s Claw), Venom strikes viewers with its simple tale of criminal mischief gone wildly south.  When a planned kidnapping derails into a heart pounding hostage situation, a delivery mixup inviting the world’s most lethal snake into the film’s central location brings certain doom to its many players.  Headlined by the equally hotheaded Kinski and Reed, their clashing offscreen personalities serve their onscreen counterparts well with knife cutting tension as Kinski utilizes Reed as his go-to whipping boy while the Burnt Offerings star boils with anger in his eyes.  Graduating to a tense standoff between crooks and cops, Venom’s true bite comes in the form of its slithery serpent that navigates through the home’s heating ducts and leaps to attack leaving the sexy Susan George on ice in the film’s most grizzly death sequence.  As the sickly child, his elderly grandfather and a herpetologist fear for their survival, Venom strikes sharply as the reptile slides its way up a wounded Reed’s pant leg during another satisfyingly uneasy moment.  While the film would be far more revered in later years on home video, Venom is a notably tense slice of reptilian celluloid, boasting worthy performances from its varied cast and sinking genuine fangs of fear into the uninitiated.  

    Beautifully remastered in 2K, Blue Underground presents Venom with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Looking healthier and more vivid than its previous release, skin tones are pleasingly natural while colors in wall paint are more prominent with detail appearing noticeably sharper.  In addition, print damage in the form of scuffs and scratches are thankfully nonexistent.  Matched with a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, optional Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes are also included.  Meanwhile, special features include, a vintage Audio Commentary with Director Piers Haggard, the Theatrical Trailer (1:23), Teaser Trailer (0:29), three TV Spots (1:30), a Poster & Stills Gallery (76 in total), a 17-page booklet featuring stills and a deeply researched essay by former Fangoria Editor Michael Gingold.  Finally, a DVD edition and a Reversible Cover Art round out the disc’s supplements.

    In one of the few snake-related thrillers of its day, Venom ranks highly with its casting combo of Kinski and Reed plus, its highly suspenseful sequences achieved through the use of real black mambas.  Better appreciated thanks to Blue Underground’s newly remastered Blu-ray, Venom still has the power to make your skin crawl!

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Blue Underground, Venom can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Regression (2015) Blu-ray Review

    Regression (2015)

    Director: Alejandro Amenábar

    Starring: Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, David Denick, David Thewlis, Devon Bostick, Dale Dickey & Aaron Ashmore

    Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Inspired by true events, Director Alejandro Amenábar’s (The Others) Regression finds Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke, Boyhood) investigating the troubled case of the victimized Angela (Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) who accuses her father (David Denick, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) of sexual abuse.  Accepting guilt of the crime with little to no memory of its occurrence, Kenner calls upon the respected Professor Raines (David Thewlis, The Theory of Everything) to unlock the dark memories hidden inside, triggering a nationwide panic of satanic worship and deceit.  Utilizing the wildly reported claims of devil worshippers and sacrificial crimes during the late 80s and early 90s, Regression enters a bleak playground of fear that was very real for its time although its validity would ultimately prove false.  Set in the overcast lands of Minnesota circa 1990, frightened teen Angela seeks solace from her local church to evade further sexual abuse from her father and imminent danger from mysterious satan worshippers.  As the lines begin to connect, Detective Bruce Kenner uncovers a link between Angela’s abuse and members of his own department when an experimental psychological technique is implemented to retrieve repressed memories from the subconscious.  When the local community and the media’s interest in the occult increases, Kenner finds himself confronted with nightmarish imagery and threats that may or may not be happening, rattling his judgement of the case.  Continuing his successful streak of horror fueled pictures including Sinister and The Purge, Ethan Hawke delivers a fine performance as the hard-boiled detective itching to find justice for Angela only to discover a darker evil at play.  In addition, the lovely Emma Watson conjures a strongly layered performance as the fragile victim who cries wolf only to have her own testimony being questioned.  Mysteriously plotted with suggestions of the supernatural and the black arts, Regression delivers a well-crafted investigative thriller that some may feel slighted by in its revealing third act.  While its conclusion may not be as haunting as one would predict, the message is a strong reminder of the dangers of falling victim to hysteria and that the most vile monsters exist among us.

    Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Regression with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.39:1 aspect ratio.  Cast under grey skies and darker tones, the film succeeds in delivering inky black levels with healthy depth and no anomalies.  Skin tones are healthily handled with sharp detail while, the subdued colors and textures of Kenner’s suits are appropriately captured.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, ideal sound quality is effortlessly achieved with clear dialogue levels and ghostly music touches while, the dreary ambiance of the rainy environment is also appreciatively captured.  Light and rather repetitive as each supplement covers similar ground, special features include, Ethan Hawke - Bruce’s Obsession (2:04), Emma Watson - The Complexity of Angela (2:30), The Cast of Regression (2:26) and The Vision of Regression (2:43).  In addition, a Digital HD Code is also included.  Formulating an intriguing whodunit against the backdrop of one of the countries most scandalizing reports, Regression plays its cards carefully with worthy performances and a suspenseful pace.  Concluding on a more grounded and unsettling note, Director Alejandro Amenábar’s return to his darker roots is a pleasing feature, excellently presented courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Anchor Bay Entertainment, Regression can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Dillinger (1973) Blu-ray Review

    Dillinger (1973)

    Director: John Milius

    Starring: Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Michelle Phillips, Cloris Leachman, Harry Dean Stanton, John Ryan & Richard Dreyfuss

    Released by: Arrow Video

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Chronicling the final months of the infamous gangster, Dillinger stars Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch) as Public Enemy No. 1 John Dillinger on his bank robbing exploits as determined FBI Agent Melvin Purvis (Ben Johnson, The Last Picture Show) closes in on his gang’s reign of crime.  Michelle Phillips (Valentino), Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein), Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man), John Ryan (It’s Alive) and Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws) co-star in John Milius’ (Red Dawn) directorial debut.

    Displeased with the outcome of his previously scripted features, the intimidatingly creative John Milius would be lured by American International Pictures to tell the tale of one of America’s most infamous characters.  Smooth as he was crooked, John Dillinger was idolized by the country’s average joes for his style and prison escape abilities while, law enforcement, rightfully so, had little affection for the criminal outside of seeing him push up daisies.  Creative liberties withstanding, Dillinger traces the famed bank robber’s assault on the midwest, his encounter and love affair with Billie Frechette (Phillips), the culmination of his cohorts including, Pretty Boy Floyd (Steve Kanaly, Dallas), Baby Face Nelson (Dreyfuss) among others and FBI Agent Melvin Purvis’ ruthless pursuit of Dillinger leading to his unapologetic demise.  Crafting a mythic tale that lives up to Dillinger’s legendary reputation, Warren Oates, reportedly never deeply researching his character, exudes charisma and ferocity as the commonly nonlethal criminal while, Academy Award winner Ben Johnson’s controlled demeanor and cigar chomping fearlessness wonderfully counterbalances the wildness of Dillinger’s gang of deviants.

    Although its female characters are grossly underdeveloped leading more to be desired from Dillinger and Billie’s relationship, Dillinger’s technical limitations affords the film a raw, documentary-like quality juxtaposed with black and white still photography and era accurate stock footage crafting a tonally rich presentation.  Far more brutal than the eternally hailed Bonnie and Clyde, Director John Milius' debut opus is an ambitious, down and dirty shoot’em up centered on the fascinating Dillinger gang and their violent assault on the country before succumbing to the returned fire of the capture hungry FBI.  Concerned with honoring the larger than life aspects of its titular character, Dillinger enforces the legend with its ruthlessly entertaining depiction.

    Restored in 2K, Arrow Video presents Dillinger with a 1080p transfer, retaining its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Casting a softer focus to retain a naturally lit appearance, colors can appear subdued with bolder choices found in wall paint and particular ensembles making stronger impressions.  Skin tones are rich with the gang’s suits appearing nicely textured while, black levels, although not deeply inky, are sufficiently pleasing with only minor instances of specks and flakes on display.  Equipped with an LPCM 1.0 mix, dialogue is audible while, the screeching sounds of getaway vehicles and tommy gun fire leave effective statements.  Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Author Stephen Prince, a Music & Effects Track, Shooting Dillinger with Jules Brenner (12:01) where the film’s cinematographer sits down for a newly captured interview, Lawrence Gordon: Original Gangster (10:08) hosts the producer as he recollects on his many credits and the film in question and Bullets and Ballads with Barry De Vorzon (12:00) finds the composer of The Warriors and Rolling Thunder sharing his personal experiences on many of his achievements.  Finally, a Still Gallery (99 in total), the Theatrical Trailer (2:23), a 23-page booklet featuring new and vintage essays from Kim Newman and John Astin, a DVD counterpart and a Reversible Cover Art boasting the film’s original 1-sheet poster conclude the releases supplements.

    Violently entertaining and wonderfully capturing a bygone era, Dillinger continues the assault of gangster cinema laid forth by Bonnie and Clyde with skilled performances and a rawness that draws viewers into Dillinger’s getaway ride.  Arrow Video does remarkable service to John Milius' directorial debut with a rich, newly transferred HD presentation and a strong stable of supplements that highlights the contributions of those behind the lens.  No one did it quite like Dillinger as Arrow Video’s capture and appreciation of this underrated AIP effort further cements its status.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Arrow Video, Dillinger can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Suspicion (1941) Blu-ray Review

    Suspicion (1941)

    Director: Alfred Hitchcock

    Starring: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce & Dame May Whitty

    Released by: Warner Archive

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock (The Man Who Knew Too Much, Strangers on a Train), Suspicion stars Joan Fontaine (Rebecca) as bookish Lina McLaidlaw who’s swept off her feet by the dashing Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant, North by Northwest).  Overwhelmed with affection and married hastily, Lina slowly learns the truths of her new husband’s dishonesty and potentially murderous agenda with the newlywed fearing she may be his next victim.  Sir Cedric Hardwicke (The Ten Commandments), Nigel Bruce (Limelight) and Dame May Whitty (Mrs. Miniver) co-star.

    Adapted from Anthony Berkeley’s (under the pseudonym Francis Illes) novel Before the Fact, Suspicion presents a romantically conceived tale, tensely elevated to soaring heights as a girl in love suspects her one and only is out for blood.  Playing against type, the charismatic Cary Grant slides his way into frame as the worry-free and financially irresponsible Johnnie Aysgarth whose good looks and fast talk only take him so far when shards of his true self are slowly revealed to his hopelessly in love new bride Lina (Fontaine).  Moving into a mammoth estate, Lina learns that not only is Johnnie jobless but gets by routinely borrowing large sums of money in order to gamble his way into actual fortunes that never last.  In order to put his wife’s worries at bay, Johnnie takes employment with his cousin as his loveably buffoonish buddy Beaky (Bruce) visits the couple and innocently informs Lina of Johnnie’s untruthful way with words.  Before long and without Johnnie’s knowledge, Lina learns of his job loss due to embezzlement of funds shortly before a family tragedy strikes.  While Lina grieves over the loss of her father, Johnnie grows frustrated at their dismal inheritance leading a real estate opportunity to bloom with Beaky.  As lies and deceit mount in the wake of yet another questionable death, Lina begins to suspect her husband will do anything to stay financially stable… even murder.

    Rightly earning Joan Fontaine an Academy Award for the only Hitchcock lensed performance to earn such an honor, Suspicion is gracefully directed with Grant and Fontaine’s irresistible love story warming viewers’ hearts.  While Johnnie consistently lies and increasing disappoints Lina, Grant’s wit and obvious infatuation with his onscreen wife make his wrongs forgivable.  Shifting its tone to a tensely orchestrated thriller, Johnnie’s obsession with mystery novels and untraceable poisons convinces Lina that her next glass of milk may be her last.  Rattled by nerves and a heart-pounding, high speed car sequence in its waning moments, Suspicion throws itself through the windshield with a wholly underwhelming conclusion that preaches the cons of wrongly suspecting others instead of delivering a gutsier conclusion found in its original source material.  While its ending may be uneventful, Suspicion captures a cocktail of effective atmosphere, sound performances from its leads and remains as technically polished as anything helmed by Hitchcock during this era.

    Presented in 1080p, screened in its 1.37:1 aspect ratio, Suspicion looks sumptuous with deep blacks and natural grain permeating its runtime.  While the lavish settings and intricacies of set pieces including, Lina’s heirloom chairs, appear nicely detailed, textures in costume choices and the film’s monochrome photography are beautifully communicated.  Accompanied with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is wonderfully handled with any signs of crackling distortion absent.  With the exception of Franz Waxman’s (Stalag 17) evocatively simple score, the track is rather simple in its range but, handsomely treated.  Furthermore, special features include, Before the Fact: Suspicious Hitchcock (21:36) which offers a valuable critical analysis of the feature with insight from Author Bill Krohn, Film Historian Robert Osbourne, Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and others while, the film’s Theatrical Trailer (1:41) rounds out the supplements.

    In a particularly marvelous decade for the auteur, Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, although suffering from a rather dull finale, ranks highly for its genre blending prowess and award winning turn by Fontaine.  Masterfully restored, Warner Archive treats another of cinema’s greats with the expected quality and care film enthusiasts have come to expect.  

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Warner Archive, Suspicion can be purchased via WBShop.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Wrong Man (1956) Blu-ray Review

    The Wrong Man (1956)

    Director: Alfred Hitchcock

    Starring: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles & Anthony Quayle

    Released by: Warner Archive

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train, Rear Window), The Wrong Man centers on blue-collar musician and loving family man Manny Balestrero (Henry Fonda, 12 Angry Men) who is wrongfully accused of robbery.  Emotionally distressed, Manny’s loving wife Rose (Vera Miles, The Searchers) begins losing her sanity while her suspected husband confronts a possible future behind bars.  

    Based on true events, Hitchcock’s influential docudrama is a harrowing depiction of themes commonly depicted in most of the auteurs work including, misidentification and authoritative fear.  Introducing the film in silhouette and barring himself from any distracting cameo appearances, Hitchcock’s final feature for Warner Bros. is composed with the utmost seriousness for its non-fictional source.  Struggling to make ends meet while, his wife requires dental work for the hefty sum of $300, Manny Balestrero (Fonda) seeks to take a loan out against his wife’s insurance policy only to be identified by several office workers as a multiple-offending robber.  Investigated by local detectives, Manny is questioned and whisked away to several businesses where he is accused once more for acts he did not commit.  After a tense interviewing process and a police conducted lineup, Manny is surreally charged and placed behind bars in what appears to be a living nightmare.  Miraculously making bail, Manny is reunited with his loving wife Rose (Miles) as they seek to clear his name by hiring noted attorney Frank O’Connor (Anthony Quayle, Lawrence of Arabia) to take his case.  Faced with the very real possibility of being found guilty, Manny and his wife push forward to establish several alibis before their grim reality takes an emotional tole on Rose forcing her to be hospitalized.  In what seems like impossible odds stacked against him, Manny’s entire livelihood hinges on the capture of his offending doppelgänger.

    Shot on location in New York City at many of the events actual locations including the now defunct Stork Club, The Wrong Man is intensely thrilling and shockingly potent for today’s society where the innocent are increasingly incarcerated under similar circumstances.  Bringing life to the city that never sleeps, Hitchcock’s on-site coverage welcomes an authenticity that highlights its smoke-filled alleyways and bustling energy that would permeate films to come.  Headlined by legendary talents, Henry Fonda and Vera Miles bring acute believability to their roles while, Miles’ emotional breakdown arguably overshadows her leading man at times.  Equally brilliant, the thespians give their all for achievements that rank highly amongst many of the greatest Hitchcock directed performances.  Tensely crafted and demonstrating the psychological strain an accusation places on the human spirit, The Wrong Man is unanimously found guilty of cinematic perfection.  

    Warner Archive presents The Wrong Man with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Gorgeously reproducing its monochrome photography, the film’s intended gritty appearance is left intact without sacrificing viewability with unfavorable levels of muddiness.  Furthermore, facial features are excellently detailed while, black levels are sound and inky with extremely fleeting instances of speckles spotted.  Beautifully handled, Warner Archive have done Hitch proud.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is strongly prioritized with no indication of hiss on hand.  In addition, the partying crowds at the Stork Club and Composer Bernard Herrmann’s (Citizen Kane, Vertigo) jazzy score make impressive statements.  Special features include, Guilt Trip: Hitchcock and The Wrong Man (20:19), this vintage retrospective offers insight on the film from Director Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), Historians Robert Osborne & Richard Schickel, Art Director Paul Sylbert, Director Richard Franklin (Psycho II) and more.  Finally, the film’s Original Theatrical Trailer (2:35) is also included.

    Largely impacting Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, The Wrong Man is a deeply gripping examination of being wrongfully accused, heightened by its chilling real world roots.  Henry Fonda and Vera Miles give outstanding turns in their respective roles while, Hitchcock’s own deep-rooted fear of authority accounts for the film’s effectively unsettling atmosphere.  Meanwhile, Warner Archive’s exemplary work continues, leaving another Hitchcock classic in a glorious state.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Warner Archive, The Wrong Man can be purchased via WBShop.com,

    Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Report to the Commissioner (1975) Blu-ray Review

    Report to the Commissioner (1975)

    Director: Milton Katselas

    Starring: Michael Moriarty, Yaphet Kotto, Susan Blakely, Hector Elizondo & Tony King

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Set in the gritty landscape of New York City, Report to the Commissioner stars Michael Moriarty (The Stuff) as rookie cop Bo Lockley whose youthful determination leads to the death of a fellow undercover officer.  Yaphet Kotto (Alien), Susan Blakely (The Towering Inferno), Hector Elizondo (Leviathan) and Tony King (Hell Up in Harlem) co-star in this dramatic thriller from the director of When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? 

    Based on the novel by James Mills, Report to the Commissioner opens on the tragic aftermath of a shootout leaving one female victim dead.  Redirecting viewers to the events leading up to this fatal outcome, inexperienced cop Bo Lockley (Moriarty) is assigned to track the whereabouts of a young runaway named Chicklet, rumored to be wandering the streets of the Big Apple.  Unbeknownst to Lockley, the alleged runaway is undercover officer Patty Butler (Blakely), willingly shacking up with heroin pusher Thomas “Stick” Henderson (King) in order to gather hard evidence.  While Lockley acts in good confidence to find the missing girl, his role contrived by his superiors is only meant to further convince Stick of his live-in girlfriend’s false identity.  After being advised to forget Chicklet as quickly as he finds her, Lockley is determined to rescue her causing a violent showdown between the inexperienced officer and the neighborhood drug lord.  Shot on location in the bygone grime of New York City’s grindhouse and strip club infested streets, Report to the Commissioner bolsters a strong supporting cast including, Yaphet Kotto as Lockley’s streetwise partner Richard “Crunch” Blackstone, Hector Elizondo as corrupt Captain D’Angelo and a young Richard Gere (American Gigolo) making his screen debut as a fedora wearing pimp.  In addition, Michael Moriarty carries the film superbly well as the conflicted Lockley struggling to maintain a decent stature while, confronted with the dark underbellies of criminals and interdepartmental politics.  After Butler is killed in the middle of gunfire, a tense chase sequence from rooftops to a stalled elevator shaft ensues between Lockley and Stick, leaving the two soaked in perspiration with their guns permanently pointed at one another.  While Lockley’s fate over the shooting of Butler is heavily questioned for the sake of his superiors’ livelihood, Report to the Commissioner concludes on an unexpectedly somber note that will stay with viewers long after the end credits.  Tightly paced and excellently acted, Report to the Commissioner delivers a hard-nosed tale of crime and undercover investigations come undone, leading to a thrilling conclusion.

    Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents Report to the Commissioner with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Boasting natural grain and a noticeably filmic quality, Report to the Commissioner contains only minor flakes in its presentation while, skin tones are lifelike with crisp detail revealing aging lines and constant perspiration in facial closeups.  Meanwhile, black levels contain slightly more speckling without ever compromising watchability.  Joined by a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is always audible even during the film’s many exterior scenes set against the hustle and bustle of New York City streets.  Composer Elmer Bernstein’s (The Great Escape, Ghostbusters) score and the film’s few gunfire moments ring loudly when designated.  Arriving virtually barebones, special features included are limited to the film’s Theatrical Trailer (2:21).

    In his second to last feature film, Director Milton Katselas’ exploration of a rookie cop’s idealism amongst the crime and politics of New York City delivers ample drama and action.  Supported by a committed cast and the tonally perfect landscape of the Big Apple’s nearly forgotten dangers, Report to the Commissioner is an exceptional police procedural that showcases the seedier sides of those who are meant to uphold the law.  Graduating to an impressive high-definition transfer, Kino Lorber Studio Classics preserves the rich, filmic quality of this gritty drama much to the delight of viewers.  Suspenseful and action-oriented, Report to the Commissioner earns its badge of approval.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available July 7th from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Report to the Commissioner can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • An Eye for an Eye (1981) / Hero and the Terror (1988) Blu-ray Reviews


    An Eye for an Eye (1981) / Hero and the Terror (1988)

    Director(s): Steve Carver / William Tannen

    Starring: Chuck Norris, Christopher Lee, Mako & Maggie Cooper / Chuck Norris, Brynn Thayer, Steve James & Jack O’Halloran

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Serving up two explosive action outings from the 1980s, Kino Lorber Studio Classics proudly presents An Eye for an Eye, starring Chuck Norris (Missing in Action, The Delta Force) as San Francisco detective Sean Kane (Norris).  Consumed with revenge following the murder of his partner, Kane ditches the badge for vigilante justice to expose a powerful drug ring responsible for the crime.  Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man), Richard Roundtree (Shaft), Mako (Sidekicks), Terry Kiser (Weekend at Bernie’s) and Maggie Cooper (Falcon Crest) co-star.  Next up, Chuck Norris headlines as Los Angeles detective Danny O’Brien in Hero and the Terror.  After nearly losing his life to capture ruthless serial killer Simon Moon A.K.A “The Terror”, O’Brien is haunted by nightmarish memories of the ordeal.  Escaping prison years later, The Terror is back on the loose and claiming victims left and right with O’Brien the city’s only hope to stop him.  Bryan Thayer (Kansas), Steve James (American Ninja) and Jack O’Halloran (Superman II) co-star.      

    Following the murder of his partner, San Francisco detective Sean Kane quits the force in order to wage a war of revenge on those responsible.  After his fallen partner’s girlfriend Linda (Chao) informs Kane that a massive drug cartel was behind the murder, Linda falls prey to the deadly wrath of the organization.  Appearing in one of his first starring roles, international superstar Chuck Norris takes hold of the part as a broken police officer determined to find his friends killer’s with a staunch seriousness that lets his fists do most of the talking.  Far from lacking a sense of humor, Kane seeks out his martial arts mentor and Linda’s father, Chan (Mako), to aid him in the hunt while, simultaneously providing viewers with a comedic chemistry as Chan constantly criticizes his protege’s concentration during dangerous encounters.  Surrounded by a colossal cast of living legends and character actors, An Eye for an Eye pits Kane against the charming yet, merciless drug lord Morgan Canfield (Lee) who intends to unload a major import of narcotics into the country, unless he can be stopped.  While the film’s premise may feel generic, An Eye for an Eye plays to its strengths with sequences of heavy gunfire and explosions plus, countless opportunities for Norris to partake in hand to hand combat or lack thereof when Kane’s hands are bound allowing him to only kick his assailants.  Uncovering a web of police corruption throughout his investigation and engaging in a steamy fling with Linda’s news editor, Kane puts those closest to him in danger the deeper he digs.  Marking their first collaboration (followed by 1983’s Lone Wolf McQuade), Director Steve Carver injects the necessary bits of adrenaline to keep the film moving while, the beardless Norris roundhouse kicks his way to a final standoff with Canfield’s impenetrable, elevator-shoe wearing bodyguard.  An entertaining and well-cast production, An Eye for an Eye delivers in the action department while, serving as an admirable early effort for Norris as his star status rose to greater prominence.

    Based on the novel by Michael Blodgett, Hero and the Terror would serve as an attempt for star Chuck Norris to grow beyond his traditional martial arts star roots.  Reteaming once again with Cannon Films, Norris plays the lead role of detective Danny O’Brien, haunted by his past of a serial killer he captured years prior.  Preparing for the birth of his daughter with his girlfriend Kay (Thayer), O’Brien’s world is turned upside down when news emerges that Simon Moon has escaped.  Presumed dead after a motor vehicle accident, O’Brien is confident The Terror has not only survived but, claiming new victims.  Meanwhile, as the city of Los Angeles celebrates the renovation of a theater Moon once used as a hideaway, women who were last seen on the premises begin disappearing.  Convinced The Terror has returned home, O’Brien begins hunting  for the unstoppable killer in the secret passages of the theater.  With an intriguing plot and suspenseful opening, Hero and the Terror quickly derails as O’Brien’s relationship with his pregnant girlfriend and her commitment issues take center stage.  Focusing too deeply to be considered mere character development, the tame action-thriller begins to share more in common with a soap opera.  As more victims emerge including a fellow officer, O’Brien uncovers Moon’s secret whereabouts leading to the most exciting brawl of the film on the rooftop of the theater.  Lacking a conscience and possessing virtually supernatural strength, Moon’s character feels slightly out of touch in a film that appears grounded in reality.  Failing to capture an audience at the time of its release, Hero and the Terror tanked at the box-office and would ultimately end Norris’ relationship with Cannon Films.  Although the skeleton of its premise is inviting, Hero and the Terror unfortunately fails in its execution.

    Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents both An Eye for an Eye and Hero and the Terror with 1080p transfers, sporting 1.85:1 aspect ratios.  While possessing minimal softness, An Eye for an Eye bolsters a filmic appearance with healthy colors and clear detail in facial features.  Arriving later in the decade and appearing slightly sharper than its predecessor, Hero and the Terror also relays a strong sense of color and texture.  In addition, both films possess respectable black levels while, instances of flakes and mild murkiness are captured but not overwhelming.  Satisfying in both cases, Hero and the Terror squeaks by as the favored transfer.  Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes, both films deliver dialogue respectfully although, moments of hushed tones can sometimes be overwhelmed by external factors.  The heavier shootouts and fireworks explosion in An Eye for an Eye deliver an added sharpness while both film’s scores are implemented nicely.  Special features found on An Eye for an Eye include, an Audio Commentary with Director Steve Carver, An Eye for an Eye Theatrical Trailer (1:52) and the Hero and the Terror  Theatrical Trailer (1:26) while, Norris’ 1988 effort recycles the An Eye for an Eye Theatrical Trailer (1:52) and the Hero and the Terror Theatrical Trailer (1:26).

    Pulverizing retro action fans with a double helping of Chuck Norris, An Eye for an Eye may possess a routine plot but, delivers where it counts with fun doses of action and an entertaining cast that easily trumps the missed opportunity of Hero and the Terror.  Riding high on the success of his previous Cannon Films efforts, Norris’ attempt to diversify himself was an honorable move that unfortunately backfired and ended his Cannon alliance.  Meanwhile, Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents both films with appreciable boosts in quality that will please likeminded action buffs as they kick and punch these adventures into high gear.

    An Eye for an Eye RATING: 3.5/5

    Hero and the Terror RATING: 2/5

    Available June 16th from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, An Eye for an Eye and Hero and the Terror can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Wolfen (1981) Blu-ray Review

    Wolfen (1981)

    Director: Michael Wadleigh

    Starring: Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines & Tom Noonan

    Released by: Warner Archive Collection

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Starring Albert Finney (Big Fish) as New York City detective Dewey Wilson, Wolfen centers on a string of grisly murders plaguing the city with no suspects in sight.  As Dewey’s investigation deepens, supernatural forces responsible for the savage acts become a shocking reality.  Diane Venora (The Insider), Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver), Gregory Hines (Running Scared), Tom Noonan (Synecdoche, New York) and Dick O’Neill (The Jerk) co-star.

    Released in the renowned year of the werewolf, Wolfen joined the ranks of Joe Dante’s The Howling and John Landis‘ An American Werewolf in London that strove to make audiences fear a full moon once more.  Lacking the darkly comic tone and groundbreaking transformation sequences of its competitors, Wolfen manages to inject yet another inspired twist in the saga of lycanthropes.  Director Michael Wadleigh (Woodstock), in his only dramatic feature, weaves a mystery of urban crime set in the crumbling borough of the Bronx.  In a role that was reportedly denied, yet better suited for an eager Dustin Hoffman, Albert Finney headlines as seasoned detective Dewey Wilson summoned to a murder scene involving a wealthy tycoon and his coke-loving wife.  In awe of the gory aftermath and stumped on its account, Dewey teams up with Criminal Psychologist Rebecca Neff (Diane Venora) and a city coroner (Hines) to uncover the truth.  As more victims turn up and the idea of a human committing the murders becoming null, the possibility of bloodthirsty wolves preying becomes very real.  Incorporating effective Stedicam techniques by Garrett Brown (Rocky) and thermographic POV imagery popularized later by 1987’s Predator, Wolfen takes great pride in building suspense while keeping itself relatively grounded in reality.

    Admittedly, Albert Finney is competent but grossly miscast as an inner city detective confronted with hounds from hell overtaking his streets.  Meanwhile, the supporting cast shine brightly in their respective roles with Hines and the Oscar-nominated Edward James Olmos as a Native American that may or may not possess shapeshifting abilities rewarding the viewer with their performances.  Far grittier than other werewolf offerings from its decade, Wolfen also provides effective moments of bloodshed sure to satisfy devoted horror enthusiasts.  Critically praised and a reasonable financial hit, Wolfen combines an urban landscape and Native American folklore to deliver an effective thriller at a time when many werewolf films were clawing for their time in the moonlight.

    Marking its Blu-ray debut, Warner Archive Collection presents Wolfen with a 1080p transfer sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.  Relaying natural skin tones and exceptional detail in facial features, film grain is appropriately handled with no intruding aging artifacts on display.  Capturing the dilapidated and dimly lit ghettos of the Bronx, black levels appear inky and clear with no crushing allowing Director Michael Wadleigh’s howling opus to shine in high-definition.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is generally strong and audible with only minor instances registering lower due to louder exterior forces.  Composer James Horner’s (Avatar) moody score and sequences of greater intensity are also well handled and effectively delivered.  Finally, the sole special feature is the film’s Original Theatrical Trailer (2:17).

    Hardly as appreciated as Dante and Landis‘ own werewolf offerings, Wolfen boldly took a horror subgenre that may have been pushing its luck and delivered an appreciably unique effort.  Soaked in the virtually lost grime and danger of New York City and incorporating a deeper theme of Native American folklore, Wolfen keeps viewers absorbed in its web of mystery and terror.  Warner Archive Collection has proudly presented this often overlooked chiller with an exceptional HD boost that sits nicely against their increasingly impressive library.  Substituting its more gothic roots for a contemporary crime setting, Wolfen howls to be different and generally succeeds.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available June 2nd from Warner Archive Collection, Wolfen can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Night Game (1989) Blu-ray Review

    Night Game (1989)

    Director: Peter Masterson

    Starring: Roy Scheider, Karen Young, Richard Bradford, Carlin Glynn & Paul Gleason

    Released by: Olive Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Set against the backdrop of Major League Baseball, Night Game stars Roy Scheider (Sorcerer) as Texas police detective Mike Seaver.  When a string of mysterious murders linked to night baseball games strikes the Galveston area, Seaver must connect the dots before another life is taken.  Karen Young (9 1/2 Weeks), Lane Smith (The Mighty Ducks), Richard Bradford (The Untouchables), Carlin Glynn (Sixteen Candles) and Paul Gleason (Die Hard) co-star.

    Continuing in his string of gritty crime thrillers, Roy Scheider appears unconvincingly as Texas detective Mike Seaver, hot on the case of a ruthless serial killer with a weakness for blondes.  Murdering his victims with a hook-like instrument and leaving them with mysterious notes, Seaver and his team are left with few leads as more bodies begin turning up on Galveston’s beaches.  Juggling his recent engagement to the much younger Roxy (Young) and feeling pressure from his superiors, Mike, a former minor league ball player, takes notice of the questionable coincidences between the murders and the Houston Astros‘ winning streak.  Before long, it’s clear whenever Astros pitcher Silvio Baretto takes the team to victory, another murder is committed leading Seaver on a hot trail to pinning his suspect down.  

    Shot on location in Galveston, Texas and the Astrodome in Houston, Night Game stumbles to build a story of suspense and criminal intrigue.  Considerably miscast, Scheider does little to disguise his New Jersey roots as a Texan and appears generally unenthusiastic in his performance.  Cloaked in far too much mystery until its closing moments, attempts to bulk Scheider’s character up with a past as a former minor leaguer and being the son of a crime boss is suggested but, never serves much purpose to the plot.  With viewers left clueless the entire picture about the killer’s identity, the reveal is ultimately unoriginal and wildly underwhelming.  In addition, wasting the talents of supporting players such as, Lane Smith (My Cousin Vinny) and Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club) in throwaway roles, Night Game suggests a worthwhile thriller with its alluring slasher-esque poster art but, instead delivers a curveball of disappointment.

    Olive Films presents Night Game with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Boasting a natural, filmic appearance and inconsequential moments of speckling, Night Game delivers strong detail with perspiration off baseball players‘ faces and wardrobe relaying sharply.  Skin tones are inviting while, black levels are handled appropriately with little to no crushing observed.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is always audible and crisp with Composer Pino Donaggio’s (The Howling, Blow Out) score delivered authoritatively and balanced evenly with sound effects.  Unfortunately, Night Game strikes out with no special features.  

    Performing poorly at the box-office, Night Game never strives to be original and wallows in the tropes of other run-of-the-mill crime thrillers.  Instead of weaving a quality tale of mystery, viewers are left oblivious to its uninspired outcome with Scheider closing the decade out on a low note.  Olive Films delivers the film for the time on Blu-ray (and DVD) with pleasing technical achievements sans special features.  Boasting a better poster design than memorable film, Night Game is an unfortunate bust.  

    RATING: 3/5

    Available now from Olive Films, Night Game can be purchased via OliveFilms.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Best Seller (1987) Blu-ray Review

    Best Seller (1987)

    Director: John Flynn

    Starring: James Woods, Brian Deenehy & Victoria Tennant

    Released by: Olive Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From the director of Rolling Thunder, Best Seller centers on veteran police office and best-selling author Dennis Meechum (Brian Deenehy, First Blood).  Widowed and raising his only daughter, Dennis owes his publisher an overdue followup but, suffers from writer’s block.  When Cleve (James Woods, Videodrome), a self-professed career hitman, approaches Dennis about penning his story, Dennis is skeptical but, intrigued.  As the facts surrounding Cleve’s many hits for a high powered executive turn out true, the possibility of the damaging tell-all tale endangers Dennis and those closest to him.  Victoria Tennant (Flowers in the Attic), Allison Balson (Little House on the Prairie) and Paul Shenar (Scarface) co-star.

    Scripted by Larry Cohen (The Stuff, Maniac Cop), although, heavily rewritten by Director John Flynn, Best Seller kicks off in Los Angeles circa 1972 where a trio of Richard Nixon mask wearing gunmen attempt to rob a police evidence facility.  After a struggle ensues and shots are fired, Officer Dennis Meechum (Deenehy) survives the account to publish a novel based on his experiences.  Over a decade later, Meechum, now a detective and raising his only daughter following his wife’s untimely passing, owes his publisher a long overdue followup.  From the shadows, Cleve (Woods) offers Dennis a proposition to pen his life experiences as a career hitman in order to get even with his unappreciative former employer, wealthy executive David Matlock (Shenar).  Curious but, cautious, Dennis is not easily convinced about his collaborators evidence until threats confront them both.  In addition, Dennis realizes that his history with Cleve predates their most recent encounter, making trust between the detective and hitman incredibly tense.  As research continues on the tell-all book, Dennis finds himself in over his head with his daughter in mortal danger.

    Failing to light the box-office on fire, Best Seller is a uniquely different buddy film where law enforcement and career criminal must team up to combat a larger threat.  Brian Deenehy fits comfortably in the role of a respected detective who finds himself unable to produce material for a followup novel.  Dennehy treads the line perfectly of an aggressive cop willing to go to the limits while, possessing an air of sophistication that sells his dual career as a respected author.  Meanwhile, James Woods, in arguably his most underrated role of the decade, plays the snappily dressed Cleve with a fast tongue and an even quicker trigger finger.  Woods brings the right energy that makes Dennis and the viewer equally intrigued and unsure of his questionable motives.  From a kindhearted demeanor to a bloodthirsty killer instinct, Woods’ performance and his yin and yang relationship with Deenehy elevates the film beyond the standard crime picture.  Shot on location in Los Angeles and New York City, Best Seller is a throughly entertaining and tightly orchestrated effort that separates itself from the bunch, courtesy of Woods and Deenehy’s captivating chemistry.

    Olive Films presents Best Seller with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Beginning with a noticeably softer image, the film quickly improves with inviting skin tones and a well-handled color scheme.  Flakes and speckles are mild leading to a nearly blemish free picture while, detail in close-ups wavers in sharpness from decent to strong.  With a healthy layer of grain intact throughout the majority of its runtime, Best Seller satisfies on high-definition.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo mix, the film relays all dialogue with clarity and ample range while, Composer Jay Ferguson’s (License to Drive, Bad Dreams) far too brief funky synth score sets the mood accordingly.  Finally, the sole supplement is the film’s Theatrical Trailer (1:44).

    Criminally (no pun intended) underrated and capturing top-notch performances from its two leads, Best Seller takes the buddy formula of past crime offerings and delivers a refreshingly suspenseful response.  Olive Films’ high-definition treatment will appease viewers while, the strength of the film and most notably, Woods’ role earning Best Seller a strong recommendation to the uninformed.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Olive Films, Best Seller can be purchased via OliveFilms.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Dangerously Close (1986) Blu-ray Review

    Dangerously Close (1986)

    Director: Albert Pyun

    Starring: John Stockwell, Carey Lowell, Madison Mason, Bradford Bancroft & J. Eddie Peck

    Released by: Olive Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From Director Albert Pyun (Cyborg), Dangerously Close focuses on The Sentinels, the self-proclaimed teenage guardians of their high school.  Weeding out those they deem unfit, their gang-like activity is questioned after a student winds up dead.  When the school newspaper editor, Donny Lennox (J. Eddie Peck, The Young and the Restless), seeks the truth, The Sentinels up their aggressive ante to a whole new level.  John Stockwell (Christine), Carey Lowell (Law & Order), Madison Mason (Dreamscape), Bradford Bancroft (3:15) and Dedee Pfeiffer (The Horror Show) co-star.

    While, Cannon Films found their way into every niche genre imaginable during the 1980s, the teen crime film was far and few between for the low-budget titan.  Marking only his third feature after The Sword and the Sorcerer and Radioactive Dreams, Director Albert Pyun makes his Cannon debut with a relatively grounded story about a gang of jocks who deliver “safety” and swift justice to fellow high school students they view as insignificant.  In what would be perceived as the squarest club to be apart of, The Sentinels take their narc-like position very seriously and are constantly at odds with the burnouts and punks of their class who ridicule them for their Nazi-like behavior.  On the surface, protecting the school from graffiti and theft appears noble but, when The Sentinels take unkindly to those who oppose them, over the top pranks turn into actual murder.  Level-headed and intelligent school paper editor, Donny Lennox (Peck), is willing to better understand The Sentinels and is invited into their pack only to be at odds with his mohawk-toting best friend Krooger (Bancroft).  Before long, Donny finds himself deep in the thicket of something sinister resulting in a full blown murder investigation and the disappearance of Krooger.  Donny knows that he must get to the bottom of The Sentinels plans and uncover the truth before he’s next on the chopping block.

    About as exploitative as an episode of 21 Jump Street, Dangerously Close manages to deliver earnest performances from its young cast but, lacks the juicier elements one expects from a production bearing the mark of Cannon.  Meanwhile, horror enthusiasts will be delighted to catch minor appearances from Thom Mathews (The Return of the Living Dead), Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning) and Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge).  The inclusion of punkish characters and Krooger’s ridiculous Knight Rider-esque car make for fun eye candy although, the film suffers to find a stable footing midway through its runtime.  As Donny teams up with Julie (Lowell), a fellow Sentinels girlfriend, to reveal the true culprit behind the shady doings at their high school, a hilarious albeit, played totally straight, battle incorporating paintball guns and firecrackers ensues.  Bolstering a righteous 80s soundtrack including, hits from Robert Palmer, Fine Young Cannibals and The Smithereens, Dangerously Close isn’t quite the knockout one would hope but, still manages to be a decent Cannon foray centering on high school hooligans.

    Olive Films presents Dangerously Close with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  To viewers‘ delight, this lower-budgeted affair shines in high-definition with natural skin tones and bold colors that pop most effectively.  Detail is rather striking in closeups of The Sentinels painted faces during their “hunting” sequences while, black levels ring decently with slight murkiness appearing at times.  Minimal flaking in its transfer aside, Dangerously Close delivers with a relatively clean and surprisingly rich looking presentation.  Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, Dangerously Close relays dialogue with reasonable authority with some moments requiring a slight raise in volume.  The 80s pop-rock soundtrack delivers with better authority while, the mix overall never suffers from any hiss or other audio distortion.  Finally, the sole special feature included is the Theatrical Trailer (1:33).

    With an enticing plot and a radical soundtrack, Dangerously Close forgets to entertain in its second half with uneventful sequences and a rather underwhelming finale.  Released during a storm of rebellious teen flicks, Dangerously Close settles somewhere in the middle for a film that should have been much more under the shield of Cannon Films.  Thankfully, Olive Films delivers with a wonderful transfer that should easily appease the most dedicated of Pyun fanboys.  Scant on special features, worshippers of the church of Cannon won’t bat an eyelash adding this tale of teenage trouble into their high-definition libraries.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Olive Films, Dangerously Close can be purchased via OliveFilms.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Mace (1987) DVD Review

    Mace (1987)

    Director: William VanDerKloot
    Starring: Ed Marinaro, Darrel Larson, Cassandra Gava, Issac Hayes, John Hancock, William Sanderson, Corbin Bernsen, Harry Goz and William Windom
    Released by: Code Red DVD

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Since switching distribution gears, Code Red DVD’s output has been like a box of chocolates, you never know what (or when) you’re going to get (them).  Selling the latest Code Red flicks exclusively through their Big Cartel storefront has proven to be successful in an industry that becomes tougher to survive in each year.  Die hard Code Red enthusiasts can always count on a unique variety of films to hit the storefront and their July slate is no exception.  Gold of the Amazon Women, Virginity and 1974’s How to Seduce a Woman join a flick about a cop on the line between justice and revenge.  This gritty cop flick, shot on location in Atlanta, bolsters an all-star cast and plenty of shoot-outs but does it have the chops to make its way into your next Code Red shopping cart?  Let’s find out…

    Mace (aka Dead Aim) tells the story of Malcolm “Mace” Douglas (played by Ed Marinaro of Hill Streets Blues fame), a tough detective whose sole job is delivering justice on the streets.  After a slew of mysterious overdoses of local strippers pops up, Mace and his partner (Darrell Larson of Men at Work, remember?  Charlie Sheen shot him in the butt with a pellet gun) come to realize after infiltrating seedy drug lords, they are on the heels of a serial killer.  Mace will stop at nothing to track this goon even as the lines of justice and revenge get blurred.  The supporting cast is rounded out by Cassandra Gava (Conan the Barbarian), Issac Hayes (South Park), John Hancock (L.A. Law), William Sanderson (Blade Runner), Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law), Harry Goz (Mommie Dearest) and William Windom (Fool’s Parade).

    MOVIE:
    Coming off the high of one of Code Red’s best releases (in this reviewer’s opinion) to date, The Police Connection, I was looking forward to cutting into another gritty piece of crime cinema from the late 1980s.  Code Red’s 88th spine numbered release serves up a seedy dish of city street violence that I love in flicks like this.  The 1980s is arguably my favorite decade for cult films but when one flies below the radar that utilizes violence, drugs, strippers and a no bull-shit cop, you have my attention.  This low-budget film manages to make the most of its surroundings by shooting the city of Atlanta with natural grit that comes across beautifully on screen.  The strip joints and graffiti stained walls make the location a character all its own, giving the film wonderful authenticity.  The film shines mainly due to the wonderful cast who all bring their A game to the table. Ed Marinaro plays Mace with all the right attitude and is supported by terrific players like Issac Hayes as a local street hustler with a funny accent and John Hancock as Mace’s superior who commands the screen anytime he appears.  Considering the flick deals with the overdoses of countless strippers, scenes inside said establishments are a plenty.  Scantily clad women dominate the screen for probably 30-40 minutes of the actual running time which again adds to the seediness that we all love in these films.  The extras in these scenes are pretty hilarious to watch as their facial expressions do wonders for the viewer.  In addition, one such patron kindly asks a stripper to “sing, bitch!” while she’s performing on stage.  A true sign of a gentleman!  The violence factor comes in waves, most excitingly during a shootout between Hayes’ gang and some other not-so-nice gents.  Plus, the finale of the film includes a chase scene between car and plane that results in a hurl of flames.  Classic.  Mace isn’t a masterpiece of 1980s crime flicks but it certainly knows how to have fun by delivering in all the right departments aficionados like ourselves love to see.  If you dig shootouts, strippers, seedy city spots and cops with a short temper, look no farther than Mace.  He’s a nice guy once you get to know him.  Trust me.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    VIDEO:
    Mace is presented full-screen in 1.33:1 aspect ratio presumably from a tape source.  The film actually looks quite nice with just a few minor pops that in no way deter from the viewing of the film.  Night scenes are dimly lit but the DVD is certainly clear enough for you to make out what’s going on in them.
    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:
    The audio here is English Mono and gets the job done.  Dialogue may seem a little low but nothing a slight increase on the volume button won’t fix.
    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:
    Code Red DVD provides fans with 2 special features here:

    - Audio Commentary with Director William VanDerKloot and Associate Producer Toby Murphy: The commentary track, which was recorded in 2009, definitely has its fair share of quiet spells but considering how many years has passed since filming took place, VanDerKloot and Murphy still manage to reminiscence about the shoe-string budget of the film, the grueling 100 degree days that shooting took place on and the title changes to the movie.  While not an amazing commentary, it’s still a treat to have, considering it was nearly lost but turned up just in time for the DVD release.

    - Code Red Trailers: including already available titles like The Police Connection, The Girls Next Door, The Undertaker as well as upcoming titles like The King of Kung-Fu, Death Machines, Just Before Dawn and Raw Force round out this release.

    RATING: 3/5

    OVERALL:
    Mace is a fun piece of late 80s crime cinema that bolsters a decent amount of violence but plenty more skin.  The highlight of the film comes from the cast who manage to do plenty with what they’re given.  If you’re a Code Red completist like this reviewer, then picking this flick up is a no-brainer; if not, I would still recommend Mace because it hits all those seedy notes well enough to warrant a spot on any cult lovers shelf.
    RATING: 3.5/5