The Blu-ray Crypt – Aug. 20

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Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season

I have yet to watch this show, even though I’ve owned season one for about two years now. I hear nothing but great things about this series so I’m starting to wonder why I’m not caught up yet. This third season of the 1920’s gangland drama, from executive producer Martin Scorsese, takes place sixteen months after the show’s second season. The Blu-ray set from HBO contains all the episodes in high definition and on DVD as well as a plethora of special features. Hopefully, by the time the fourth season is released on Blu-ray, I will have seen the series by then.

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Star Trek – Enterprise: Season Two

Enterprise is the only Star Trek TV series I’ve seen in its entirety. It’s not a perfect show but there is a lot to enjoy and the second season definitely improves upon its first season. There are still some less than stellar episodes in this season but Enterprise succeeds more than it fails. The image quality on the Blu-ray looks slightly better than the first season but the bonus features on this set are where this release excels. Among multiple audio commentaries, deleted scenes and archival interviews and images, there are two new lengthy retrospectives with the cast and crew that delve into the demand for a new (at the time) Star Trek show, the turnover of the writing staff, studio interference and discussion of the story and characters.

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X-Ray/Schizoid

This double feature release from Scream Factory features two ’80s horror films on two separate discs, X-Ray (a.k.a Hospital Massacre) and Schizoid. X-Ray follows a beautiful woman who goes to the hospital for a routine check-up and is trapped in the hospital by a psychotic killer who kills everyone she comes into contact with. Schizoid is about a newspaper advice columnist woman who starts receiving threats from a mysterious person. At the same time, the female members of her psychiatrist’s therapy group are being murdered one by one by a maniac wielding a large pair of scissors.

I had never heard of either film before Scream Factory announced this release, but as a fan of ’80s horror, I definitely want to get ahold of this disc set and give them a watch.

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Killing Season

Deep in the Appalachian mountains, a reclusive American military veteran (Robert De Niro) and a European tourist (John Travolta) strike up an unlikely friendship. But when the tourist’s true intentions come to light, what follows is a tense battle across some of America’s most forbidding landscape proving the old adage: the purest form of war is one-on-one.

The team-up of De Niro and Travolta may have seemed like something of note in the past but it doesn’t seem to have much impact now. Both actors have been in a slew of less than stellar films, moreso with Travolta, who looks silly in this movie with his accent. Killing Season doesn’t look terrible and may make for a momentary distraction but given it’s directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who’s made some pretty substandard movies (cough cough Ghost Rider), I don’t hold out much hope for this one.

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Amour

This French drama, directed by Michael Haneke, explores death, ageing and the fear of loss. Anne and George are a couple in their 80s who are enjoying their retirement until, after an operation following a stroke, Anne is left wheelchair-bound and paralyzed. Although she expresses her wish to die, even going so far as to make an attempt at taking her own life, George tries to remind her of the beauty and worth of life itself and the love that they share for each other.

Amour was good but definitely a bit of a depressing experience for me. Watching someone deteriorate after having a stroke doesn’t make for happy movie watching but the movie is good in showing the effects it has on an elderly couple and feels like a pretty honest portrayal of two people in love and how they deal with the fallout of losing the ability to live a normal life.

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Castle Freak

A Stuart Gordon horror film starring Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton? Count me in! I’ve been aware of Castle Freak for years but it has somehow managed to elude me. Now that it’s available on Blu-ray courtesy of Full Moon Pictures, I definitely want to make a point to watch it soon since the Halloween season is imminent. The movie centers on a troubled couple and their blind daughter that come to Italy to visit a 12th Century castle they’ve inherited. Soon they are plagued by unexplained noises, mysteriously broken objects, and the daughter’s claims of an unknown nocturnal visitor to her bedroom. When the housekeeper and a local prostitute are discovered savagely murdered in the castle’s dungeon, John must unlock the castle’s secret to save himself from jail and his family from the castle’s secret inhabitant. Full Moon’s Blu-ray of Castle Freak has been remastered for this high-def release and features a brand-new interview with director Stuart Gordon as well as William Shatner interviews with Gordon, Crampton and Combs.

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No One Lives

This film follows a gang of ruthless highway killers who kidnap a wealthy couple traveling cross country only to shockingly discover that things are not what they seem. I thought No One Lives, starring Luke Evans and Adelaide Clemens, was an action revenge film when I first heard about it but apparently I was wrong and instead it’s actually a horror movie, specifically falling into the slasher film subgenre. Knowing this, my interest in the movie has risen, especially since the movie comes from director Ryûhei Kitamura, who directed the imperfect but entertaining Midnight Meat Train. After reading some reviews for the film, I’m thinking this one might be worth checking out.

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Rapture-Palooza

When the apocalypse actually happens and a billion people are raptured to heaven, Lindsey and her boyfriend Ben are left behind in suburban Seattle. Amidst talking locusts, blood rain showers and pot-smoking wraiths, the young couple attempts to live a normal, everyday life. When the Anti-Christ settles down in their neighborhood, things quickly take a turn for the worse, especially after Lindsey finds herself as the object of Satan’s affection. With the help of family, friends and a lawn-mowing zombie, the duo set off to stop the Devil from taking an unwilling bride and they may just save the world in the process.

This movie sounds great and with a cast of Anna Kendrick, Craig Thompson, John Francis Daley, Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry and Thomas Lennon, it’d be easy to assume that Rapture-palooza would provide some hearty laughs. Based on the film’s reception, it looks like it does have some good jokes in it but it falters in creating a continuously funny and engaging experience. I’d still like to see the movie for myself but I think my expectations for the movie have been lowered.

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Nightmares Come at Night

This movie was considered a lost film from horror/sexploitation director Jess Franco until it was rediscovered in 2004. It stars Diana Lorys as a sultry dancer who falls under the hypnotic control of the sinister blonde Cynthia and begins to suffer terrifying hallucinations, from which not even a gifted psychiatrist can save her. I still have yet to see a Franco film for myself but I’m quite intrigued as I am a horror fan and the sexploitation genre is something I want to see more of. This week also features the release of two other Franco movies, A Virgin Among the Living Dead and The Awful Dr. Orlof (listed below). Nightmares Come at Night seemed to be the one to appeal to me the most between the three, possibly due to the nearly bare breasted lady featured on the cover, but I’d be interested in seeing any or all three of the Franco releases this week. The Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and Redemption features video mastered in HD from an archival 35mm print, an audio commentary with film Video Watchdog critic Tim Lucas, a 20-minute documentary on the making of the movie, an 8-minute homage to Jess Franco from friends and collaborators as well as a visual essay on the creation of the HD master.

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Shadow Dancer

Adapted by Tom Bradby from his own novel. Belfast native Colette McVeigh from a family of well-known IRA sympathisers. After being arrested on suspicion of carrying a bomb on the London Underground, she is questioned by MI5 operative Mac, and told that if she does not co-operate with the authorities, her young son will be taken from her. As Colette reluctantly takes on the role of informant for the British secret services, Mac tries to use her as a means of breaking the cycle of violence in 1990s Belfast. This IRA themed movie starring Clive Owen looks pretty good and the reviews seem to support that notion.  I’ll have to add this to my Netflix queue.

More titles released today:

Being Human: Season Five

Charulata (Criterion)

The Big City (Criterion)

Scary Movie 5

A Virgin Among the Living Dead

The Awful Dr. Orlof

Evidence

Epic

Return to Never Land

Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright

The Unseen

Roadie

The Dragon Pearl

Knock on Wood

My Favorite Spy

Off Limits

On the Double

Betty Boop: The Essential Collection Volume One

by Ben McBride

Follow Ben on Twitter @monsterpopcorn

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