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Currently showing posts tagged Richard Harland Smith

  • A Game of Death (1945) Blu-ray Review

    A Game of Death (1945)

    Director: Robert Wise

    Starring: John Loder, Audrey Long, Edgar Barrier & Russell Wade

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Readapting Richard Connell’s thrilling tale just over a decade after its pre-Code movie makeover from the directors of King Kong, A Game of Death is a briskly paced and suspenseful jungle-based adventure where the hunter becomes the hunted.  Starring John Loder (How Green Was My Valley) as noted author and respected hunter Don Rainsford who after becoming shipwrecked, finds shelter in Erich Kreiger’s (Edgar Barrier, Macbeth) exotic island homestead.  An isolated locale hosting fellow shipwrecked siblings Ellen (Audrey Long, Born to Kill) and Bob (Russell Wade, The Body Snatcher) Trowbridge, their welcoming host proves sinister as his homicidal tendencies to hunt humans across his vast land are revealed.  Tensely orchestrated by the masterly Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting) while recycling selected footage from The Most Dangerous Game, A Game of Death never wanes in its excitement with commendable performances put forth by the respectably gruff Loder and deliciously wicked Barrier as the German human hunter who prefers a bow and arrows over rifles.  Climaxing with a fog-entrenched pursuit through the island’s jungle greenery with hungry bloodhounds on Don and Ellen’s coattails, A Game of Death is a thoroughly entertaining catch, tonally reminiscent of the weekly film serials of the era with an unquestionably cinematic punch drawing viewers into its horrifying island of danger.

    Newly remastered, KL Studio Classics proudly presents A Game of Death with a 1080p transfer, preserving its 1.33:1 aspect ratio.  Bearing age-related traces of speckles and scratches to varying degrees, the 1945 black-and-white remake overwhelmingly impresses with its conveyed detail in Kreiger’s prize room and the dirt and blood stains found on Rainsford’s attire.  Meanwhile, black levels bear strong deepness while, recycled footage from the ship’s destruction to instances of the hounds pursuing Don and Ellen show obviously grainier levels.  Equipped with a basic-sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is decently relayed with increases in volume recommended to fully capture their entirety.  Furthermore, mild instances of hiss are present but never deal-breaking on the track while, obscene cracks or pops are thankfully excused.  Special features include, a richly researched Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Harland Smith and Trailers for The Quatermass Xperiment (2:13), The Earth Dies Screaming (2:14), 99 River Street (2:13) and No Highway in the Sky (2:09).  An excellent second stab at Connell’s revered short story, A Game of Death keeps its suspense high and runtime swift ensuring a pulse-beating good time for all.  Bestowing a solid HD remastering on the RKO thriller with a recommended audio commentary, KL Studio Classics have claimed another keeper in their hunt for film’s treasures.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from KL Studio Classics, A Game of Death can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) Blu-ray Review

    The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

    Director: Terrence Fisher

    Starring: Willard Parker, Virginia Field, Dennis Price, Thorley Walters, Vanda Godsell, David Spenser & Anna Palk

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following a worldwide extraterrestrial assault, The Earth Dies Screaming follows several survivors whose defenses and ingenuity depends on the future of the human race.  Willard Parker (Kiss Me Kate) headlines this British science fiction opus, scripted by Harry Spalding (Curse of the Fly, The Watcher in the Woods) under the pseudonym Henry Cross.

    Surrounded by a siege of collapsed bodies and witness to vehicular disasters, The Earth Dies Screaming finds civilization ravaged by robotic saucer men, leaving only a handful of survivors to counteract the invasion.  Breezy and immensely entertaining, Director Terrence Fisher (Horror of Dracula, The Mummy), commonly known for his gothic masterpieces for Hammer Films, brings ample tension and desolate dread to one of his only proper sci-fi centered features.  As the metallic monsters repurpose fallen humans as eerie, white-eyed hunters, The Earth Dies Screaming, led by an American surrounded by local Englishmen, unquestionably bears its influence on George A. Romero’s zombie classic Night of the Living Dead while, remaining a terrifically undervalued end of days feature in its own right.  Shot at Shepparton Studios in London, suspicion amongst the surviving humans and an expectant mother contribute added doses of suspense to this space age thriller that concludes on an explosive note.

    Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents The Earth Dies Screaming with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.66:1 aspect ratio.  Bearing no detrimental marks of age-related scuffs, the film’s monochrome photography is beautifully relayed with sharp detail and black levels leaving deeply inky impressions.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is well handled and absent of hiss or pops while, the remainder of the rather tame track makes admirable strides through its score and collisions into the alien robots.  Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Harland Smith, an Animated Photo Montage (3:37) and Trailers for The Earth Dies Screaming (2:14), Invisible Invaders (2:00), Chosen Survivors (3:06), Panic in the Year Zero (2:24) and The Satan Bug (2:12) rounding out the supplements.

    Trading Dracula’s fangs for terror from above, The Earth Dies Screaming maintains Terrence Fisher’s exacting touch with thrills and atmospheric suspense.  Wildly underrated while influencing later day genre efforts, the menacingly titled British feature stands out against its rampant American made counterparts of the era.  Meanwhile, Kino Lorber Studio Classics welcomes the sci-fi favorite to high-definition with impressive technical grades that genre fans will be happy to have invade their collections.

    RATING: 4/5

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