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Currently showing posts tagged Scorpion Releasing

  • The Land That Time Forgot (1975) Blu-ray Review

    The Land that Time Forgot (1975)

    Director: Kevin Connor

    Starring: Doug McClure, John McEnery & Susan Penhaligon

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by David Steigman

    Based on the story written by fantasy author Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land that Time Forgot is the first of four movies that were produced by John Dark, directed by Kevin Connor and starred Doug McClure.  Each film’s main theme was traveling to lost continents with others to discover new races of people, dinosaurs and other giant monsters.  The other three movies are At the Earth’s Core, The People That Time Forgot and Warlords of Atlantis.  Each of the other films, save for Warlords of Atlantis, were offerings from Amicus Productions who had been known for horror anthologies such as Tales from the Crypt, From Beyond the Grave and Dr. Terrors House of Horrors.  Beginning with the Amicus/AIP co-production, The Land That Time Forgot, Amicus’ main focus was to have films that included giant prehistoric monsters. 

    The setting for The Land That Time Forgot takes place during World War I, where a German U boat, commanded by Captain Von Schoenvorts, played by John McEnery torpedoes and sinks a ship.  Among the survivors are Doug McClure as Bowen Tyler, scientist Lisa Clayton (played by Susan Penhaligon) and a few British officers.  The German U boat goes off course and continues to drift onward for at least several weeks until they land on a lost continent called Caprona.  When the submarine emerges from underwater, they are welcomed by a Plesiosaur and other aquatic dinosaurs.  Once on land, the cast struggles to survive, trying to avoid being a tasty treat for the dinosaurs including an Allosaurus, Styracosaurus and Pteroldactyl.  In what was probably a nod to an earlier dinosaur thriller, One Million Years BC, we get a fierce fight between a Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex.  As with all films with dinosaurs, there are some cavemen which also cause trouble for the crew until the climax when a volcano erupts, threatening all life on Caprona. 

    The Land that Time Forgot is co-presented by Kino Lorber Studio Classics and Scorpion Releasing (who produced the extras) and the results are excellent.  The film has never looked better on home video.  In its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this is a beautiful 1080p AVC coded release.  Colors are vivid with excellent contrast and great details during the daylight scenes.  In addition, black levels are spot on while the grain structure is also really strong.  The resolution is so good that it actually spoils some of the special effects work!  Accompanied with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, the audio quality is excellent with all the dinosaur roars loud and clear.  While there is not a ton of extras on the disc, what we do get is really outstanding.  This is where quality of the bonus material outshines the quantity.  We are treated to an Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Connor, a making of featurette that is over 10 minutes long, plus the original trailer. 

    The Land that Time Forgot is a great, entertaining fantasy adventure-filled movie that eventually led to a sequel, The People That Time Forgot, also starring the late Doug McClure.  A well-known actor who went on to star in a few horror movies, such as Humanoids from the Deep and later on several television shows and sitcoms, McClure would ultimately pass away in 1995 at the age of 59 due to lung cancer.

    The dinosaur effects in The Land That Time Forgot consisting of puppets and mockup models are hit or miss with the more realistic creatures being the Triceratops and Styracosaurus.  Others such as the Plesiosaur (well the neck of it anyway), the odd shaped wobbly Allosaurs and Pterodactyls on visible wires are less than convincing, but that’s what gives these films their charm.

    In The Land That Time Forgot, we get another fun fantasy film from the seventies. While the effects work for the film is just average, it is a commendable effort considering there was no CGI effects during that time.  It took a lot of work and craftsmanship to bring forth movies such as this.  The Blu-ray is just a fantastic release with few but impressive extras and great audio and video quality to boot, this movie was an instant day one purchase that comes highly recommended!

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available June 16th from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, The Land That Time Forgot can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Final Exam (1981) Blu-ray Review

    Final Exam (1981)
    Director: Jimmy Huston
    Starring: Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, DeAnna Robins, Ralph Brown & John Fallon
    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    The early 1980s saw the dawn of the slasher genre attacking cinemas on a weekly basis.  Following the massive success of 1980’s Friday the 13th, no holiday or teenage associated location was safe.  Summer camps, graduations, Valentine’s Day and more offered hormonal teenagers a 90 minute escape into terror.  Not surprisingly, exam week seemed ripe for a lone killer to embark on a mass killing spree as well.  Scream Factory, in association with Code Red DVD, proudly presents Final Exam, on Blu-ray for the first time ever!  Study hard or this exam might be your last...

    Final Exam centers on Lanier College as the end of the semester is within reach.  Students are finishing up their exams for the week when a local frat pulls a phony terrorist attack prank.  As the young adults laugh off the joke, a much more serious threat is upon them when a mysterious maniac begins offing students one by one.

    MOVIE:
    The concept of a college set slasher during the genre’s popular boom seemed fitting next to its counterparts.  From the silhouetted poster image to the generic plot, Final Exam makes it clear they’re “borrowing” from Friday the 13th.  Admittedly, most slashers at this time were all trying to capitalize on the runaway success of Sean S. Cunningham’s summer camp nightmare.  Audiences became quickly accustomed to the slasher formula and expected a unique killer, gruesome death sequences and plenty of T&A.  Some succeeded and others failed while, some, like Final Exam, fell into the gray zone of mediocrity.  The film opens promisingly with a college couple necking in a car before falling prey to the mute psychopath.  The story switches gears to Lanier College where the most outlandish prank is executed in order for a frat brother to cheat on his exam.  In a society where college shootings are eerily common, the startling reveal of a van of masked men opening fire on the student body with blank rounds will immediately grab your attention.  As politically incorrect as the prank may be today, the scene is incredibly effective until it is revealed to be a fake stunt.  Unfortunately, Final Exam then takes far too much time to develop its characters and forgets to kill some teens along the way.  This misstep plagues the film from being more exciting and kills any true sense of suspense.  Luckily, we’re treated to the memorable character of Radish (Joel S. Rice) who is obsessed with real murderers and reminds everyone how random their motives can be.  

    Final Exam misfires yet again for being a virtually skinless slasher in a time where other films were showcasing nudity at a rapid rate.  The final act picks up nicely with stabbings and the maniac murdering a frat boy in the college’s weight room, easily the film’s highlight death scene.  Following tradition, Final Exam finds the killer going head to head with Courtney (Cecile Bagdadi), the final girl who spent the duration of the film studying.  As Radish indicated, the killer’s motives were senseless which only adds frustration to the film’s already tedious structure.  Admittedly, with all its issues, Final Exam does have some merit with likable characters and some decent stalk and slash moments in its final act.  Far from perfect, Final Exam is still a golden age slasher that’s worth revisiting every so often, even if it trips over its own feet at times.
    RATING: 3/5

    VIDEO:
    Presented with a 1080p transfer in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Final Exam looks impressive only small instances of flakes and speckles.  Scream Factory have carried over Scorpion Releasing’s HD transfer from the original camera negative making detail and colors all the more vibrant.  Black levels are nicely handled with visibility clean and clear.  Colors appear accurate with blood popping off the screen in bold ways.  Final Exam has never looked better!
    RATING: 4.5/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono mix, Final Exam sounds lovely with dialogue never missing a beat and Gary Scott’s (Beverly Hills, 90210) Carpenter-esque score coming across clear and foreboding.  No noticeable hiss or pops were picked up making this an above satisfying sounding mix.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Audio Commentary with Actors Joel Rice, Cecile Bagdadi & Sherry Willis-Burch

    - Interviews with Actors Joel Rice, Cecile Bagdadi & Sherry Willis-Burch: The actors share their stories on how they landed the gig, how their lives changed following filming and what they’re doing now.

    - Theatrical Trailer

    RATING: 3/5

    OVERALL:
    While, not nearly as impressive as other notable slashers, Final Exam does have enjoyable characters and a halfway decent final act that should have carried over to the rest of the runtime.  Short on suspense and skin, Final Exam still has a charm that gives it a pass as a slasher from the good ol’ days.  Scream Factory treats fans with another top quality video and audio presentation that makes this North Carolina set slasher the best it’s ever looked.  In addition, a small serving of interviews and a cast commentary round out the special features for this recommended helping of college centered mayhem.  
    RATING: 4/5

  • Paper Mask (1990) DVD Review


    Paper Mask (1990)
    Director: Christopher Morahan
    Starring: Paul McGann, Amanda Donohoe, Frederick Treves & Tom Wilkinson
    Released by: Scorpion Releasing

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    The trust we put into doctors is a sacred one.  We are literally putting our livelihood in their hands when seeking medical attention.  The countless years of dedication and education needed to become a licensed doctor is no picnic and we value their expertise at all costs.  But, what if the person you are entrusting your life with isn’t the expert they claim to be?  The suspenseful melodrama, Paper Mask, explores this scenario as one man goes to every extreme to embody the profession he obsessively desires.  Based on the novel by John Collee, future screenwriter of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Happy Feet, Paper Mask will admit you but can’t guarantee a full recovery by its conclusion.  Let’s get the patient prepped and see how this medical thriller holds up...

    Paper Mask stars Paul McGann (Withnail & I) as Matthew Harris, an unhappy hospital intern jealous of the doctors and nurses who surround him.  When a young physician is tragically killed, Matthew assumes his identity and lands a job that the deceased had applied for.  Now, as Dr. Simon Hennessey, Matthew navigates the medical world while falling in love with a friendly nurse, Christine Taylor, played by Amanda Donohoe (Liar Liar).  As Christine learns and maintains Matthew’s secrecy, a fatal mistake leading to a patients death corners the couple into a chilling finale.  Frederick Treves (The Elephant Man) and Tom Wilkinson (The Lone Ranger) co-star.

    MOVIE:
    Crafting a persona that is not your own is not exactly a revolutionary plot device.  Secret agents maintaining a cover or superheroes disguising their true identity, pretending to be someone else and the extremes one goes through to maintain it make for solid drama.  Taking that concept and setting it in the medical profession is slightly more unique added with a lowly intern that desires more from life.  Our hopes and dreams are only truly obtained by hard work and determination but some can’t wait for the sun to shine on them.  Paul McGann, as Matthew Harris, headlines Paper Mask with a sadness and desperation of wanting to be a respected medical expert with a white coat.  He feels he has achieved little in life and longs for more when a sudden tragedy turns a lightbulb on in his mind.  Assuming the identity of a deceased physician, Harris takes up shop at a Bristol hospital as he stumbles his way through the chaotic nature of emergency rooms.  One might question why anyone would attempt to falsify themselves as a licensed doctor especially if they aren’t appropriately trained.  But, it is Harris‘ obsession with the profession that drives him without considering his lack of experience.  Harris can barely focus on his patients‘ needs and drinks himself into a stupor after his first day on the job.  Harris befriends Christine Taylor (Amanda Donohoe), an efficient nurse, who helps him on his feet before the two engage in a romantic relationship.  Harris learns quickly and his own personal studying pays off as he upholds the role of a false doctor.  Supervising physician, Dr. Thorn (Tom Wilkinson), is never fully convinced of Harris‘ dedication to his job and remains skeptical.  Wilkinson’s role is minor but he manages to command strict attention to the screen whenever he appears.  When a fellow doctor’s wife dies under Harris‘ care, an intense investigation is issued threatening Matthew’s cover.  Against better judgement, Christine conceals Matthew’s secret as she is reprimanded for lack of patient attention.  Fortunately, Matthew is cleared of any wrong doing as faulty equipment is discovered as the leading cause of death.  As life begins to stabilize again, an old friend from Matthew’s past nearly blows his cover pushing him to new limits.  Matthew’s friend quickly disapproves of his antics before the good doctor attempts to murder him.  Paper Mask takes a chilling turn as Matthew becomes so desperate to remain in his role that he will do whatever is necessary.

    Available for the first time on DVD in America, Paper Mask does a fine job relaying a story about the desires that consume us and what some will do to obtain them.  Paul McGann is terrific as the lead and delivers a personable, albeit chilling performance.  Amanda Donhoe (LA Law) compliments McGann as the capable nurse, head over heels for a clinical madman.  Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins), appearing in an early film role, has brief screen time but leaves an intimidating impression on McGann and the viewer.  Paper Mask could have benefitted from going deeper with Matthew’s darkness after murdering his friend.  Instead, we are left with him ditching Donohoe‘s character, which seems foolish considering she knows his true identity, and taking up shop in a new hospital with one final blank stare at the camera before concluding.  Nonetheless, Paper Mask achieves suspense and believability thanks to the wonderful performances from the cast.  It may not be the finest production to handle the subject of false personas, but Paper Mask is undoubtedly an entertaining watch.
    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:
    Scorpion Releasing presents Paper Mask in a brand new anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer, mastered in HD.  With the exception of a handful of minor pops, the transfer appears clean and clear of any intruding distractions.  Skin tones look accurate with a nice grain structure apparent throughout the film.  Presented in arguably the best shape the film will ever see, the transfer is a perfectly serviceable one.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    AUDIO:
    Paper Mask comes equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix.  Dialogue comes across slightly muffled in early sequences and the thicker accents of the English cast make it hard to hear at times.  Raising the volume will be necessary in order to catch what everyone is saying.  Luckily, the mix adjusts nicely and makes for an adequate listen.
    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Original Trailer

    - Scorpion Releasing Trailers: Includes Go Tell the Spartans, Saint Jack, The Girl Hunters, Wombling Free and The Octagon.

    RATING: 0.5/5

    OVERALL:
    Paper Mask is an intriguing cynical look at the medical profession that shines a light on obsessions and the choices we make to bring them to fruition.  The principal cast of Paul McGann, Amanda Donohoe and Tom Wilkinson play their roles efficiently and achieve great results.  Scorpion Releasing’s presentation of Paper Mask is possibly the best the film will ever look and is sure to please viewers.  While, special features are scant, Paper Mask still comes recommended based on the strength of the film itself.  
    RATING: 3.5/5

  • The Power (1984) DVD Review



    The Power (1984)
    Director(s): Jeffrey Obrow & Stephen Carpenter
    Starring: Susan Stokey, Warren Lincoln, Lisa Erickson & J. Dinan Myrtetus
    Released by: Scorpion Releasing

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Independent distributor, Scorpion Releasing, is ready to send you for a roller coaster ride filled with possession and horrors thanks to The Power!  This unique blending of genres showcases what happens when an ancient talisman ends up in the wrong hands  and all hell breaks loose.  From the directing duo who brought you The Dorm That Dripped Blood and The Kindred, The Power has been resurrected in a brand new HD master prepared to make you think twice before communicating with the spirit world.  After a lengthy delay, let’s investigate just how powerful this flick is...

    The Power centers on an Aztec idol that is stolen before ending up in the curious hands of three high school students determined to make contact with the spirit world.  Unfortunately, the idols powers are proven very real when another young man steals it for his own purposes and is consumed by its horrific energy.  Can The Power be contained or are the teens doomed to feel the idols wraith?

    MOVIE:
    The alluring rainbow filled poster art for The Power is hypnotic, to say the least.  A cautionary and doom-like tagline ices the cake for what is hoped to be an enjoyable viewing experience.  As the film begins, a college professor is lecturing a class before a snarky student makes offhanded comments.  The professor makes eye contact with an ancient idol sitting in his briefcase before setting his stern gaze on the student causing a bloody nose for the smart aleck.  As the lecture concludes, the professor is greeted by a colleague who is firmly aware that the relic is consuming his friend.  Before long, the professor is left alone with his prized possession until its power is revealed causing the educator to be elevated and impaled on a flagpole.  Suffice to say, a terrific opening.  Without missing a beat, we are whisked away to a desert land where the recently deceased professor’s friend is on the hunt for the relic.  The energy of this ancient talisman continues to grow as the man learns it is now possessed by an elderly gentleman and young boy unwilling to part with it.  The man does the noble thing and shoots them dead before making his claim on it.  This is where The Power begins to test its audiences‘ patience.  The film seems to start over yet again, opening with three high school students planning to conduct a seance later that evening.  Nearly 20 minutes into the film, The Power fails to deliver a stable set of characters for the viewer to latch onto.  Finally, the high schoolers meet at the local cemetery with personal items in tow they feel will protect them should anything go wrong.  Of course, one student has the talisman that seems to be hot on everyone’s Christmas list.  How did his parents come into possession of it before passing it on as a gift?  An explanation is apparently not necessary.  The seance commences with the teens awakening a power that is far beyond their expectations resulting in the death of a cemetery worker.  Just when you thought you had a set of characters you could zone in on, alas more are on the way!  The teens seek the guidance of a local tabloid writer who they believe can help them in their unique situation.  Of course, the writer doesn’t put much faith in their story but her ex-boyfriend isn’t so sure.  He decides to do some investigating on his own before getting consumed by the relic and stealing it for his own purposes.  

    The Power certainly has its share of issues finding its footing but it eventually gets there an hour into the film.  As the idol appears in the writer and her former beau’s life, odd occurrences start.  In an effective nightmare sequence, multiple hands emerge from the woman’s mattress and attempt to stab her before she awakes.  The longer her ex keeps the idol in his possession, the worse his obsession becomes.  He begins to morph into a demon-like creature and is determined to kill his former lover and the teens.  The final act is a fun recovery for an otherwise sloppy first half.  The man’s horrific transformation is a highlight with wonderful make-up effects taking center stage and a demise for the creature that is just as satisfying.  The film concludes jumping ahead three years finding the female teenager in college.  She is greeted by an earlier character that simply appears as a bookend for the film.  He wishes to ask her about her experiences with the relic that have been recorded in a novel written by the tabloid writer that also survived.  The film ends not making a tremendous amount of sense but leaves the viewer with an enjoyable jump scare before the end credits.  The Power had a very bumpy start getting the viewer invested in a core group of characters.  But, the film found its way by finally zeroing in on the three high schoolers and the tabloid writer.  The film would have benefitted immensely had the makers spent less time setting up the relic’s drawn out history and more on those who would possess it for the duration of the film.  Luckily, The Power has some great make-up effects and nifty nightmarish imagery that makes the viewing experience worth it.  The Power may not be the greatest film, but it certainly has some choices moments, warts and all.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    VIDEO:
    The Power is presented in a brand new HD anamorphic widescreen master (1.78:1).  After being delayed due to a better print being located, The Power makes a decent splash on this release.  The film certainly has its fair share of speckles and pops in the transfer, but detail looks nice with colors represented nicely.  Black levels, while quite murky at times, are still presented as good as can be.  Utilizing this better print, one can only imagine how much worse the film could have looked.  Thankfully, Scorpion Releasing did the right thing and presents this film in arguably the best shape it will see.
    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:
    The Power comes equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix that has its fair share of hiccups as well.  Instances of hiss and static are present throughout the mix but surprisingly never intrude on dialogue.  Pops are heard, mostly during reel changes, but again nothing that deters the viewer from catching any moments of dialogue.  A serviceable treatment that could easily have been far worse.
    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Katarina’s Nightmare Theater: Katarina Leigh Waters hosts this optional featurette providing an intro and outro to the film scattered with informative facts and humorous hijinks.  

    - Original Trailer

    - Scorpion Releasing Trailers: Includes Grizzly, Day of the Animals, Dogs, Lurkers and Sorceress.

    RATING: 2/5

    OVERALL:
    The Power tripped over its feet for spending far too much time establishing the relic’s past with former owners and less on those that would steer the majority of the film.  Thankfully, the film does well bouncing back with likable characters and effective make-up designs that save the film from being a total disappointment.  Scorpion Releasing has again saved another cult favorite from obscurity and preserving it with the best care it is likely to receive.  Special features are minimal but those jonesing for an early 80s effort in evil clay relics, The Power might be worth putting in your hands.  
    RATING: 3/5

  • That's The Way of the World (1975) Blu-ray Review


    That’s the Way of the World (1975)
    Director: Sig Shore
    Starring: Harvey Keitel, Ed Nelson & Earth, Wind & Fire
    Released by: Scorpion Releasing

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Independent distributor Scorpion Releasing is back with another sting of diversity in their exciting Blu-ray catalog.  Harvey Keitel (Mean Streets) stars as a hot-shot music producer who’s caught between creating the music he cares for and the music he’s forced into by his superiors.  Artistic tensions escalate as seedy business politics and corruption consume the purity of music.  Scorpion Releasing proudly presents That’s the Way of the World in a brand new HD master from an interpositive.  Produced and directed by Sig Shore (Superfly), this unique flick marks a time and place in music history, but is it a golden oldie or a one-hit wonder?  Turn up the jukebox and let’s boogie...

    That’s the Way of the World centers on Coleman Buckmaster (Harvey Keitel), an ambitious young music producer with A-Kord Records.  As he works closely with an up-and-coming band named The Group (played by Earth, Wind & Fire who also contribute the music to the film) who he believes has what it takes to make it big, Buckmaster is forced to concentrate all his efforts on an unknown trio The Pages.  The pressures and seedy business practices of the industry begin to weigh down on Buckmaster who must make crucial decisions that will impact the bands under his supervision and his personal relationships.

    MOVIE:
    Admittedly, I’m a sucker for films that take place deep within the entertainment industry.  There’s never a shortage of crushed hearts and broken dreams when it comes to characters navigating the world of razzle dazzle.  That’s the Way of the World takes place in New York City which is home turf to some of Keitel’s most memorable performances in such fare as Mean Streets and Taxi Driver.  Keitel breathes life into the role of music producer Coleman Buckmaster effortlessly.  It’s easy to believe in his performance as he focuses in on musical notes with the same precision a chemist handling chemicals would.  Paying more attention to the knobs and buttons in his recording studio, Keitel invokes a passion in his character that is obvious in his dealing with The Group (played by Earth, Wind & Fire).  When the president of A-Kord Records interrupts and forces Buckmaster’s attention on an unknown trio, The Pages, tensions rise.  Buckmaster is torn between his passion project with The Group while being forced into a sound he cares nothing for.  The Pages, a wholesome family trio are far from their cookie cutter image of perfection and hide a much darker backstory.  With the strain of industry politics weighing down and his personal and professional relationships suffering, Buckmaster decides to play the game to his advantage.  As the film progresses, Buckmaster’s motivations seem unclear as he surrenders himself to his seemingly hopeless situation by striking up a romance with The Pages‘ lead singer and eventually marrying her.  As the viewer, we’re confused by Buckmaster’s willingness to give up so easily on his passion since he doesn’t even go down the clichéd road of burning out on drugs.  Of course, the reasons behind this are all explained in the finale in a manner that Buckmaster puts as how the way the world works.  It’s a satisfying conclusion that took a road that left slightly more to be desired.  Luckily, the music from Earth, Wind & Fire is a major draw for the film as the influential band were at the peak of their careers.  In addition, live performances from the funkmasters (some of which take place at a roller derby!) are a wonderful sight with stage antics that excite and music that will keep you bopping your head to the beat.

    That’s the Way of the World also makes phenomenal usage of New York City streets that capture an incredible time in not only music, but the city itself.  In addition, when Buckmaster joins The Pages’ lead singer (played by Cynthia Bostick) on a trip to Hollywood, more terrific street shots are captured making this film a great time capsule of some of the country’s greatest cities at such an exciting time.  

    Many industry professionals have praised That’s the Way of the World for its accuracy in capturing the seedy underbelly of the record business.  The film definitely earns its marks in that department but still falls shy from being a truly great gem.  The film packs one of Keitel’s more intriguing performances of the 1970s with a killer soundtrack supplied by the iconic Earth, Wind & Fire along with some prime footage of New York City and the Los Angeles area.  That’s the Way of the World entertained me but fell slightly short due to the lack of drama some of the characters experienced throughout the film.  While, it strayed from selling the typical “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” story, more of that might have been beneficial in making the film all the more entertaining.  That’s the Way of the World is still a film that offers a lot of quality merits and shouldn’t be overlooked when discussing films about the entertainment industry.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    VIDEO:
    (NOTE: That’s the Way of the World is presented in HD from a slightly different cut than the original theatrical presentation.  Usable HD materials for the theatrical cut were not sufficient hence the cause for the slight difference in its HD presentation).

    That’s the Way of the World is presented in a 1080p anamorphic HD master (1.78:1) from the interpositive.  Overall, the film looks quite nice with a filmic layer of grain intact throughout the entire runtime and skin tones looking strikingly accurate.  Instances of debris and pops in the print are seen occasionally but nothing of real distaste.  Black levels leave slightly more to be desired with a faint haze in darker scenes but again nothing too distracting.  Considering the HD print was struck up from several different sources, I’m quite content with the video presentation.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    AUDIO:
    That’s the Way of the World comes equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that is decent enough.  Dialogue scenes come across clear for the most part but there are instances when conversations fall a little on the low side.  Nothing a little raise to the volume button won’t fix.  The powerful music from Earth, Wind & Fire is as loud and robust as one would hope and their musical live performances are some of the standout moments for the audio mix.  It should be noted that actors’ lips were always a hair behind the actual audio track.  This is certainly nothing that takes away from the serviceable audio quality but it couldn’t help but be noticed.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Theatrical Version: Presented in standard definition, the theatrical cut clocks in nearly four minutes longer than the HD presentation with the most noticeable inclusion being a sex scene between Keitel and Bostick.

    - Theatrical Trailer

    - TV Spots

    - Still Gallery

    - Scorpion Releasing Trailers: Includes Horror on Snape Island, Grizzly, Deathship and Day of the Animals.

    RATING: 2.5/5

    OVERALL:
    Scorpion Releasing never seizes to amaze me with their dedication to cult cinema of all genres.  That’s the Way of the World was an intriguing picture with standout performances from Keitel and a soundtrack so catchy, you’ll be singing it for days.  While, the film won’t go down as an essential film about the innerworkings of the record industry, it still comes recommended for its accurate depiction of a business that can make dreams comes true for the fortunate and destroy lives for the unprepared.  Scorpion Releasings‘ handling of the film is quite possibly the best this music-centered flick is bound to see.  The HD master looks about as pristine as one could hope to achieve considering the hurdles that were undergone.  The inclusion of the theatrical cut was also a nice touch for completists sake.  That’s the Way of the World may have fallen short of my expectations but it’s still a film I am pleased to have in my Scorpion collection and one I can see myself revisiting.
    RATING: 3.5/5

  • Tomboy (1985) Blu-ray Review

    Tomboy (1985)

    Director: Herb Freed
    Starring: Betsy Russell, Jerry Dinome, Kristi Somers, Richard Erdman & Philip Sterling
    Released by: Scorpion Releasing

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Scorpion Releasing has always been a label with a devotion to diversity.  In recent years, they’ve struck major popularity with fans thanks to their Katarina’s Nightmare Theater line where spirited host Katarina Leigh Waters has been viewers’ guide to such horror gems as The House on Sorority Row, Humongous, Final Exam and more.  Sticking with Waters as host, Scorpion Releasing has been spreading their wings to different flicks that also have a cult appeal such as Second Time Lucky, Ator: The Fighting Eagle, Rentadick plus many more.  While the greater majority of Scorpion’s output has been DVD only, the Blu-ray future for the label looks bright and one of their most recent efforts is definitely in need of an inspection.  Grab your tools and style your best 80s perm because we’re about to get greased up with 1985’s Tomboy

    Tomboy stars Betsy Russell (Private School, Saw) as a young tomboy named Tommy (of course) who’s handy under the hood of a car and prefers to play basketball and ride motorcycles than style her hair.  While working as a mechanic at a local garage, a client and young racing entrepreneur, Junior Leeds (the late Eric Douglas, son of Kirk and brother of Michael) comes into the shop with race car driver Randy Starr (Gerard Christopher of “The Adventures of Superboy” fame).  Before you know it, sparks fly between Tommy and Randy but will a competitive racing competition between the two foil this relationship before it can get into second gear?

    MOVIE:
    Tomboy is definitely an oddbird as far as 80s flicks go.  One of the most common complaints I read about this film is that there’s really no plot.  I’d argue that there is a plot, albeit a very paper thin one but it’s definitely there.  The enjoyment factor of this film relies almost entirely on the performances from the young actors and thankfully they manage to deliver.  I couldn’t help but crack up at most of the exchanges these characters would have with one another and the settings and situations they would find themselves in.  Tomboy is certainly not going to be written in history books about how revolutionary it was but riddle me this, how many films do you know have a boxing match scene that turns into a sex scene?  I’ll give you some time… I’ve got plenty.  Moving forward, while Russell is as gorgeous as ever in this film she definitely plays the straight role while the performances of Eric Douglas, who is just so great at being a hilarious 80s scumbag and her best friend played by Kristi Somers practically steal every scene they appear in.  Somers has an unforgettable choreographed dance number that had me rolling on the floor followed up by a comical shower scene that almost makes you question at this point who the lead in the film is supposed to be.  Another memorable moment has Russell and Somers insulting two grease balls in a bar before a chase scene ensues.  As if there was any doubt, our tomboy of this film knows how to handle a motorcycle.  The romance between Russell and Christopher is meant to be the thread that ties the film together but it’s the humorous exchanges between the cast and the over the top parties at Douglas’ mansion that make this film the enjoyable treat it is.  If you have a weakness for 1980s teen flicks then Tomboy easily earns a spot on your shelf.  I had a hoot with this film and now I don’t think I can eat doughnuts again without giggling just a little.
    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:
    Tomboy is presented in a brand new (1.78:1) HD anamorphic master from the original camera negatives.  The film looks beautiful with grain structure looking natural and clear.  I noticed just a few instances of minor dirt and debris over the Crown International Pictures logo screen and during the final race scene.  These instances were so minor that if you blinked, you would miss them.  Beyond that, this transfer is near perfect and quite possibly the best presentation a film like Tomboy could ever receive.  Well done!
    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:
    While the video presentation was a gorgeous sight, the audio is slightly more problematic.  The film is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio which actually sounds really nice.  The music soundtrack comes across loud and clear while the intensity of roaring engines definitely come across great.  The audio during dialogue is clear for the most part but I just couldn’t help notice that having my TV too loud resulted in a sharpness anytime people would talk.  There was also the trouble of muffling during dialogue scenes which probably just added fire to the flame of the sharpness I mentioned.  The audio is in no way a terrible presentation, far from it in fact.  It just became a slight bother to constantly adjust the volume to ensure you were picking up each line of dialogue.  Overall, this is a serviceable audio presentation for such a low-budget flick.
    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:
    Scorpion Releasing delivers a nice handful of special features.  In addition, the reverse side of the Blu-ray sleeve has a rare photo gallery for the film.

    - Kat’s Meow: Katarina Leigh Waters is your host in this optional feature as she introduces you to the presentation of the film in a pit crew costume.  I’ve always found Waters to be a charming presence to Scorpion’s titles because she manages to not only be a pretty face but gives the viewer very useful information about the film and maybe a quick laugh or two.  I would have completely forgotten that Herb Freed directed the 1981 slasher Graduation Day before taking on Tomboy.  You learn something new everyday.  Waters also sticks around after the credits to close off her Kat’s Meow segment.

    - On Camera Interview with Star Betsy Russell: This candid interview is more like a career retrospective on Star Betsy Russell who discusses her early beginnings in commercials before moving onto films like Private School, Tomboy, Avenging Angel, Out of Control and Delta Heat.  Russell also discusses humorous moments on filming locations as well as working with veteran actors and her newfound success with the Saw franchise.  The interview is very informative and laid back which adds a nice atmosphere.

    - Theatrical Trailer

    - TV Spot

    - Scorpion Releasing Trailers: A nice selection of trailers for Deathship (available now on DVD and Blu-ray), Horror on Snape Island, Grizzly, The Pom Pom Girls, Day of the Animals and The House on Sorority Row.

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:
    Tomboy is a fun slice of 1980s teen-cheese flicks that bolsters a wonderful young cast, over the top party scenes that only that decade could provide and a catchy theme song that you’ll have stuck in your head.  Tomboy isn’t groundbreaking by any means but a hilarious dance scene, plenty of skin from various ladies in the film including a quick appearance from cult icon Michelle Bauer and race car driving make this flick fun for the collection.  While Scorpion Releasing’s audio presentation isn’t perfect, the video quality is pretty remarkable and the special features are nicely done.  It’s a joy to see an independent label like Scorpion Releasing embrace Blu-ray as much as they are because we are in for a bunch of treats in the near future that include Girly, The Unseen, The Pom Pom Girls, The Monster Club and much more all in glorious HD!  For fans that are not Blu-ray equipped yet, Tomboy is also available in a DVD only edition.
    RATING: 4/5