Between families and grown-ups, plenty of positive content has been released this year on DVD and Blu-ray in the form of newly released box sets. Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s full series presentation of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Arrow Video’s classic creature feature collection, Cold War Creatures, and the latest collection of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood do well to support the noted statements. Between them and so many others, there is more than enough to create a list of this year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall. Enter Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets.
As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the top 10 titles from this year as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15. There’s already some positive news about new releases coming in the new year about new box sets, but in the meantime, the titles on this list will help people pass the time. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets list.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD BOX SETS
1.Cold War Creatures
2. The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series
3. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers Meets New Friends Collection
4. All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1
5. The Watch
6. How To Train Your Dragon: Ultimate Collection
7. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tigertastic 50 Pack
8. Jekyll & Hyde
9. Spongebob Squarepants: Season 12
10. Rugrats: The Complete Series
11. Star Trek Discovery: Season 3
12. Doom Patrol: Season 2
13. Josie & The Pussycats In Outer Space: The Complete Series
14. Human: The World Within
15. Thundarr The Barbarian: The Complete Series
Okay that it’s for this list. There is still one more list to go for this year. It will come tomorrow in the form of the year’s top new family friendly DVDs/ Stay tuned!
This year offered lots for families to enjoy together in the way of television and movies. It also offered plenty for older viewers, whether those audiences needed the occasional break from the more family friendly fare or just needed and wanted something to enjoy. Between imports and domestic releases, this year’s field of new viewing options for grown-ups offered much to appreciate.
DC and Warner Brothers’ second season of Doom Patrol, BBC America’s The Watch (It is sadly still unknown if the show will get a renewal for a second season) offered plenty of enjoyment in their own right. Meanwhile, CBS/Paramount’s third season of Star Trek: Discovery finally got that ship righted. Along with so many domestic and import releases from PBS and other sets from WB and DC, this year’s field of new offerings for older audiences helped audiences escape and relax every day. So much new content was released that it gave Phil’s Picks more than enough for another annual list of the year’s top new offerings in said field.
As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list offers the Top 10 new entries in said field alongside five additional honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles. Each entry in this list is deserving of applause in its own right, too. Without further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2021 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW GROWN-UP DVD/BD BOX SETS
Cold War Creatures
All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1
Doom Patrol: Season 2
Miss Scarlet & The Duke: Season 1
Human: The World Within
Jekyll & Hyde
Star Trek Discovery: Season 3
Black Lightning: Season 4
Superman & Lois: Season 1
Star Trek Lower Decks: Season 1
Finding Your Roots: Season 6
Finding Your Roots: Season 7
The Twilight Zone: Season 2
Star Trek Discovery: Seasons 1-3
That’s it for this list, but before the attention turns from the box sets, there is still one more category to check in on tomorrow. That category is the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall between the stuff for families and that for older audiences. From there, later this week, the attention will turn toward the year’s top new family DVDs and BDs to finish this year’s field of year-end lists. So there’s still plenty to come. That means as always, stay tuned!
It seems like ever year, audiences everywhere are seeing an increase in the number of classic TV shows and movies that were once popular everywhere they go. It really is a sad state of affairs. Of course that is not the only avenue in which older content is getting renewed so to speak. The originals also get new life every now and then on DVD and Blu-ray through various distributors, sometimes in better form than others and vice versa. This year saw a handful of classic TV shows and movies get some laudable re-issues and some less so.
What is most interesting about this year’s field of top new DVD and BD re-issues is the wide range of companies that released said titles. It shows that along with the likes of Shout! Factory – which has made quite the name for itself over the years in the home entertainment field – other familiar and up-and-coming names are really working to make their names known in that field, too, such as Arrow Video and Corinth Films, making for so much more variety.
From Shout! Factory’s re-issue of Explorers, to Arrow Video’s re-issue of the original Dune, to even Mill Creek Entertainment’s re-issue of the classic, short-lived animated series, The Critic, this year’s re-issues and the companies that released them offered audiences plenty of alternatives to the never-ending ocean of prequels, sequels, and reboots that filled theaters and streaming services this year. As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 titles in the given category with five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15. This year’s list was not easy to compile but is complete.
Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series
The Final Countdown
The Belles of St. Trinian’s
Ken Burns’ Baseball
The Rolling Stones: A Bigger Bang – Live at Copacabana Beach
Motorhead: No Sleep Till Hammersmith
The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch
The Transformers: The Movie
Superman: The Animated Series
The Critic: The Complete Series
Star Trek: The Original Series
Emergency: The Complete Series
It should be stressed here that in the case of Emergency and Star Trek, those two series sets are intentionally set at the bottom of this year’s list as, their positives are few. They are the least of the year’s best new re-issues. Audiences would do well to largely avoid these sets. There is a reason they are at the bottom of even the honorable mention titles. Keeping that in mind, this year’s list of top new DVD and BD re-issues is officially wrapped. There are still plenty of other lists coming, such as the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups, families, and even family DVDs/BDs. Stay tuned!
Halloween has come and gone for another year, and the world is once again going headlong into Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s. However, this latter part of the holiday season is not for everyone. For those who would rather avoid everything related to this time of year, Arrow Video has something to pass the time in the form of the new re-issue of The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch. Originally adapted from a classic manga “comic,” the movie debuted in 1968 through Japanese studio Daiei Studios. Originally scheduled for release Sept. 21, Arrow Video is apparently now scheduled to re-issue the movie Tuesday for Western audiences on Blu-ray, more than half a century after its premiere. Arrow Video’s recent re-issue is a strong new presentation of the cult classic movie and will appeal to the movie’s fans as well as to horror and fantasy fans. Its appeal comes in part through its central story, which will be addressed shortly. The expansive bonus content that accompanies the re-issue is just as important to the movie’s new presentation as the story if not more so. To that end, it will be examined a little later. The re-issue’s pricing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later, taking into consideration all the noted content. It will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the re-issue’s presentation. All things considered, they make the movie one more of the best of this year’s new DVD/BD re-issues.
Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Daiei’s 1968 horror flick, The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining presentation especially for those who perhaps have never seen the cult classic. The movie’s appeal comes in part through its story. The story is adapted from a manga “comic” that was originally crafted by famed manga writer/artist Kazuo Umezo. The publication in question is identified in one of the bonus features added to the re-issue. It and more background will be addressed in the examination of the re-issue’s bonus content. The story here in question centers on the innocent “orphan,” Sayuri (Yachie Matsui) as she is randomly reunited with her parents, following so much time spent at an orphanage. The reason for her being in the orphanage is never explained away. This will also be addressed in the bigger discussion on the movie’s bonus content. As Sayuri settles into her home, she starts to discover that the home is plagued by a very negative force, this after she tells her amnesiac mother that she wants her sister Tamami (Mayumi Takahashi) to be allowed to leave the home’s attic room where she lived for however many years. Tamami starts to terrorize Sayuri, apparently unhappy that this new person is in the house. As the story progresses, Tamami shows that she is willing to go to great lengths (including the threat of murder) to get Sayuri to leave. She wants Sayuri out that badly. Eventually the revelation is made that Tamami and Sayuri are not in fact sisters and that there is much more at play. That will be left for audiences to discover for themselves. Tamami is not the only threat, either. There is also another person in the house who does not want Sayuri there. The two end up working together to a point to try and get rid of Sayuri, though there is a surprise as the story reaches its climax and finale. This will also be left for audiences to discover for themselves. The whole of the story is well worth watching, even if one is not a fan of manga or Japanese cinema in general, but into horror. The appreciation for the story is enhanced as audiences take in the expansive bonus content featured in the movie’s re-issue.
The bonus content consists of a new feature-length audio commentary presented by film historian David Kalat and a separate 27-minute featurette, “This Charming Woman,” which finds manga and folklore cholar Zach Davisson. There is also an in-depth look at the movie in the presentation’s companion booklet that was penned by author Raffael Coronelli to expand on everything discussed in the other noted bonus content. Kalat’s commentary points out a number of plot holes in the story, not the least of which being why Sayuri was in the orphanage to begin with. He also makes note of how Sayuri’s mother got amnesia in the first place. He gives credit to the explanation that her mother was involved in an accident, but also points out there the story never even explains what accident led to the amnesia. As if that is not enough, he also brings up the issue of why the back door of the cab that Sayuri hails late in the story opens but no one gets in or out. Ironically, for all the problems that Kalat points out in the story, he openly supports them, stating in his own words, that he feels they add to the story’s presentation in a unique way. That in itself is sure to get audiences talking. On a separate note, Kalat also uses his commentary to share the connection that the movie has to another famous Japanese cinema franchise, that of Gamera and its sequels. As it turns out, director Noriaki Yuasa is directly tied to that franchise, according to Kalat’s information. That is sure to generate even more appreciation for this movie among fans of the Gamera franchise. On yet another interesting note, Kalat opens a discussion on the fairy tale aspect of The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, but does not go into full depth about that connection. Davisson expands on Kalat’s comments in his separate featurette.
Davisson expands on Kalat’s comments by pointing out the connection that the movie has, going all the way back to the stories of the Brothers Grimm. He notes that while this story is based on a manga “comic,” it still incorporates the “feared mother” aspect by making Ms. Shige (Sachiko Meguro – Warning From Space, The Precipice, Kurotokage) the feared mother/step mother figure since Sayuri’s biological mother is “incapacitated” by her amnesia. His commentary on this topic makes a person look back in hindsight and say “aha” in the best way possible. Additionally, Davisson offers audiences some history on Umezo’s career in manga, noting that Umezo started his career at the young age of 18, and that he would go on to be a groundbreaker of sorts in the genre of body horror in manga. As if all of that is not enough, Davisson, like Kalat, points out that this movie was not the ony one of its kind. He stresses that in Japanese cinema, movies involving half animal figures was hardly abnormal and that in fact the movie came out a a time when monster movies were at the height of their popularity in Japan. Davisson points out here that as a result, the movie has never been considered a ground breaker, but is still a cult favorite among the bigger monster movie genre in Japanese cinema. That is sure to bring about its own share of discussion. Between these discussions and others that he delves into over the course of his nearly half-hour featurette (including that of the role of women in cinema in Japan at the time), Davisson adds even more engagement and entertainment to the overall presentation, showing even more why the re-issue’s bonus content is so important.
Where Davisson and Kalat leave off, Coronelli picks up. He adds to the overall bonus content by making note of the role of snakes in the Japanese occult belief system. He compares it to the role of the fox, which according to him, is the more common occult “familiar” figure in Japan. From there, Coronelli goes into a deeper discussion, explaining the role that each animal has in the Japanese occult, and then ties that discussion back into the snakes’ appearances in the movie. This makes for its own share of interest. This is the most important of Coronelli’s discussions as much of the other content in his notes echoes what Kalat and Davisson have already touched on in their discussions. All things considered, the overall bonus content here makes for such a rich background to the story and enhances the re-issue’s overall presentation so much. When the primary and secondary content is considered together, the whole makes the re-issue’s pricing just as important to examine. That is because of how much the content offers audiences to appreciate.
The average price point for the forthcoming BD re-issue of The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch is $29.76. That price was reached by averaging prices through Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and MVD Entertainment Group’s store (the company is working with Arrow Video to distribute the re-issue in the United States). The re-issue was not listed through Walmart and Books-a-Million. As an added note, Barnes & Noble is currently listing the re-issue at a sale price of $19.99 rather than its normal listing of $39.99. If one were to consider that price, it would being the average to $33.76, and would make the listing of $27.99 (at Target and Best Buy) the least expensive and well below both averages. Amazon’s listing of $32.88 is below the upper average, but above the lesser of the two averages. Considering that the movie is technically an import, those higher prices are to be expected. Keeping that in mind, they are less hard hitting, and regardless, it makes those $27.99 listings still just as affordable and worth the price, considering the noted overall content. To that end, the pricing for this re-issue is still its own positive, since there are some prices that while up there, are still relatively affordable, even with the movie being an import. Keeping this in mind along with the engagement and entertainment that the movie’s story and bonus content will offer audiences, the whole once more shows why this movie is another of this year’s best new BD/DVD re-issues.
Arrow Video’s forthcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch is a surprisingly impressive new presentation from the home entertainment company. Its appeal comes in part through its story, which is one part horror and one part fairy tale a la The Brothers Grimm. It will leave audiences guessing throughout about so many items, but in the best way possible. That and the general story itself does plenty to keep audiences watching. The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its new re-issue adds even more to the presentation’s appeal. That is because of the history and background that it adds to the movie. That background and history gives the movie so much more depth through everything discussed. Keeping the content in mind, it makes the re-issue’s pricing its own positive. While not hugely inexpensive, the pricing will not break any viewer’s budget. That is especially understood when audiences keep in mind that the movie is an import. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch. All things considered, they make the re-issue one more of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.
The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch is scheduled for release Tuesday through Arrow Video. More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available at:
Halloween is less than half a month away. With the unofficial start of the holiday season once again so close, Arrow Video is offering audiences a great way to get into the holiday spirit with its recently released Blu-ray box set, Cold War Creatures. Released Sept. 14, the four-disc collection is an excellent way for audiences to do just that. That is due in no small part to the movies featured in this collection and their stories. They will be discussed shortly. The bonus content featured across the set is just as important as the movies and their stories and will be discussed a little later. The set’s pricing rounds out its most important elements, considering the overall content. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the box set. All things considered, they make this collection one of the absolute best of this year’s new DVD and BD box sets for grown-ups.
Arrow Video has quickly become one of the leading names in home entertainment over the course of the past year or so, even surpassing the likes of Shout! Factory. The reason being is its offerings. It continued to do just that last month when it released its new classic sci-fi horror cinema collection, Cold War Creatures. Released Sept. 14 on Blu-ray, the four-disc collection features four classic Columbia Pictures flicks, all produced by Sam Katzman. The movies are all from the 1950s, the era that gave audiences some of the greatest sci-fi and horror flicks of all time. In this case, the movies are spread across those genres. The Giant Claw (1957) is a classic creature feature. It was Columbia Pictures’ answer to all of Universal’s classic creature features. Yes, it is so cheesy from beginning to end, but it is one of those flicks that is just so bad that it is great. Thanks to HD technology, audiences can even see the strings and wires that controlled the giant bird and all of the model planes. On another note, The Werewolf (1956) throws back to Universal’s older monster movies, but even being a werewolf movie, is not just a ripoff of The Wolfman. This will be discussed shortly as the focus turns to the movies’ stories. Creature With The Atom Brain takes the focus on atomic energy in that era and crosses it with a mob flick and a zombie flick. That all sounds really contrived, but in a weird way, it works here. Meanwhile, Zombies of Mora Tau is a more supernatural movie that, as the title infers, centers on a bunch of zombies. However in this case, they aren’t brain-eating zombies. This will also be discussed as the focus turns to the movies’ stories. Looking at all of this, it is clear that the movies are unique from one another while also showing the ground that they cover within the sci-fi and horror realms of the time. Simply put, they in themselves give audiences diversity in their viewing options.
Moving to the movies’ stories, the stories are as diverse as the movies themselves. The story featured in Werewolf for instance centers on a man named Duncan Marsh (playe by Steven Rich – Wagon Train, Plunder Road, City of Fear) who is suffering from amnesia and just wants to remember who he is and how he became a werewolf. Meanwhile, the residents of Mountaincrest — the town where Marsh ends up — meet him and eventually come to find out he is also the one responsible for a series of “murders” that happen in the town. The revelation of how Marsh became a werewolf in the first place versus the mindset of sheriff Jack Haines (Don Megowan – Blazing Saddles, The Creation of the Humanoids, The Devil’s Brigade) and that of his fiancé, Amy Standish (Joyce Holden – Private Eyes, The Milkman, The Ford Television Theatre) really does a good job of making Marsh a sympathetic character. Haines’ mindset meanwhile really makes him more of a villain in the bigger discussion on humans’ humanity and lack thereof. That and the intolerance shown by the townspeople versus Amy’s more humane mindset really makes the story even more interesting. That coupled with the blatant Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comparison makes the story even more engaging and entertaining. It does well to help separate this movie from its Universal Pictures counterpart, The Wolfman. Interestingly enough, the movie is in fact a lifting of another movie, as is revealed in some of the set’s bonus content. This will be addressed later. Getting back on topic, it is just one of the interesting stories featured in this set. The story featured in Zombies of Mora Tau is completely unlike that featured in The Werewolf.
The story featured in The Zombies of Mora Tau centers on a group of treasure hunters who have come to an unnamed region of Africa to retrieve a cache of diamonds. As the set’s bonus content notes (again, this will be discussed later) the comparison to RKO Pictures’ 1932 movie White Zombie (which starred Dracula himself, Bela Lugosi) are inescapable. AS it turns out, the diamonds are “protected” by the zombie crew that originally tried to steal the diamonds. There is some tension and action throughout. It is a story that is completely unlike that of the stories in the set’s other movies.
On yet another side of things, the story featured in The Giant Claw harkens back to the so bad they’re great creature features, such as The Deadly Mantis (1957), Them! (1954) and The Fly (1958). In the case of The Giant Claw, the story is simple. A giant, monster bird (apparently from outer space) comes to Earth to terrorize the planet while also preparing the next generation of super powered creatures. It’s up to a smart mathematician named Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday – The Rookie, The Gauntlet, Sudden Impact) and her guy friend, the stereotypical, headstrong male lead, Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow – This Island Earth, Kronos, Flight To Tangier) to figure out how to beat the apparently extraterrestrial beast. This approach – the elite pair/team working to defeat the deadly beast(s) – was so typical of the creature features of the 50s, but is still just as entertaining to watch here as in those movies, even as cheesy as it is here. Of course Sam Katzman was known for just rehashing previously used plots and plot elements from other movies for the movies that he produced. This is also noted in the expansive bonus content featured in this set. It will also be discussed later. Getting back on topic again, this story is yet another example of the diversity in the movies’ stories.
As noted earlier, the story in Creature With The Atom Brain is unique in its own right. It features a mobster named Frank Buchanan (Michael Granger – Battle of Rogue River, Fort Vengeance, Murder By Contract) who enlists the aid of ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Wilhelm Steigg (Gregory Gaye – Ninotchka, My Gal Sal, Dodsworth) to bring a bunch of dead criminals back to life and use them to get even with the law enforcement officials who caused him to be deported. What audiences get here is a story that blends elements of a crime story and a zombie story to make quite the unique tale that is, again, super cheesy but still somehow so entertaining at the same time. Looking at all of this, it is clear that the stories featured in this set are just as unique from one another as the movies’ genres. To that end, they are just important to the set’s presentation as the movies themselves. The two together are just one part of what makes this collection so entertaining. The bonus content that accompanies the movies and their stories is of its own importance.
To say that the bonus content featured in this set is expansive would be an understatement. Each movie comes with its own bevy of bonuses. Film historian and critic Kim Newman provides his own new introduction to each movie. Each also features its own feature-length audio commentary and other extras. One of the most notable of the “other” extras is the in-depth bonus, “Family Endangered!,” which comes with The Giant Claw. Critic Mike White discusses in this feature, how so many movies in the 1950s reflected audiences’ concerns and the real world in general. For instance, White points out that Creature With The Atom Brain features two antagonists who essentially represented the axis powers from WWII, in an Italian mobster and an ex-Nazi scientist. The hero, an American detective went up against the pair, eventually defeating the men. In the essay about the movie (which is part of the set’s bigger “Essaays” collection about each movie), writer Curt Siodmak was himself a survivor of sorts of Hitler’s regime. The movie’s essay points out that he and his family actually fled their homeland to come to America to get away from Hitler and his evil. So it is interesting to note that this likely played into his writing here.
Getting back on topic, in the case of The Giant Claw, White points out that the bird was essentially a physical manifestation of the fears that Americans had during the Cold War. It was able to “cloak” itself from radar, and destroy so much of America. It even ate the United Nations building while also building a nest in an attempt to spread its evil. In other words, the whole movie was, in essence an allegory of global political tensions at the time. That is interesting in its own right to learn.
On a related note, Newman points out in his introduction to The Giant Claw that allegedly, special effects legend Ray Harryhausen looked into The Giant Claw and essentially turned it down because of the low budget special effects. This is shocking in its own right.
Moving on to Werewolf, Newman points out in this movie’s introduction, the comparison to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydeand adds that it was an intentional throwback to the old Universal monster movies of days gone by. The noted “Essays” collection that comes with the set adds to Newman’s own in-depth discussion, pointing out that the movie was in fact a lifting of the 1943 Columbia Pictures flick The Return of the Vampire. This goes back again to the bigger discussion on Katzman’s willingness to just lift from other movies for the works that he produced. This is also discussed in the “Essays” booklet.
The discussion on Katzman’s willingness to lift plots and plot elements from other movies points out that such a move was intentional. It was part of Katzman’s overall overly spendthrift approach to making movies during the 1950s. He knew that people would buy into such an approach, and that in turn, the movies would make a profit. Keeping that in mind, it leads one to realize that the more things change the more they stay the same, especially in Hollywood. Knowing that movie studios have been excessively taking such an approach over the past 20 years or so, it looks like their approach is nothing new. It lessens the annoyance of studios doing that even today, but at the same time adds to the annoyance that Hollywood even has taken such approach. Ironically if not for that approach, the movies in this set would never have existed, so it becomes something of a bizarre necessary evil. It is just one more of so many bonuses featured in this collection that show the importance of the set’s bonus content. Between everything noted here and so much else featured with the set, the whole strengthens the set’s presentation that much more. Keeping the breadth and depth of that content in mind along with that of the movies and their stories, the whole of the primary and secondary content gives audiences more than enough reason to own this cinematic set. It also makes the set’s pricing money well spent.
The average price point of Cold War Creatures is $93.23 according to prices averaged through Amazon, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. The collection was not listed through Walmart, Target, and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting. Best Buy actually is the best buy in this case, listing the set at $79.99. Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Amazon each list the movie at $99.99. That roughly $80 price point (just over that, counting shipping and handling) is not that bad, considering – again – the amount of content and the depth thereof in this collection. Considering so many Blu-rays ranging from as little as $9 to about $25 on average by themselves, that noted price is actually that much more affordable, considering that at the high end, buying each by itself would equal to about $100. Add in the two extensive booklets that discuss the movies and their art one by one, and that average price point and the least expensive listing becomes that much more affordable. Keeping that in mind along with the overall content, the whole proves even more why any cinephile, any classic sci-fi and horror fan, and any fan of all things Halloween will find this set so enjoyable. It leaves no doubt that the set is among the best of this year’s top new DVD and BD box sets for grown ups.
Arrow Video’s recently released box set of vintage Columbia Pictures movies, Cold War Creatures, is one of the most impressive of the company’s releases so far this year if not the company’s most impressive this year. That is due in part to its primary content. That primary content consists of the set’s featured movies and their stories. The movies and their stories are all unique from one another, offering plenty of diversity from the top down. The secondary content – the bonus content that accompanies the movies and their stories – adds even more engagement and entertainment to the presentation. That is because of the amount of background that it provides for the movies. Any true cinephile fill agree it makes the set that much more immersive. The set’s pricing proves to be money well spent, especially on the lower end. On the lowest end from the nation’s major retailers, audiences will spend less than $100 on the set. Speaking specifically, the lowest point is just over $80. That is not bad, again, considering all of the noted content. When that pricing is considered along with the content, the whole makes this collection overall a complete success one of the year’s top new DVD and BD box sets for grown-ups.
Cold War Creatures is available now. More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available at:
Much has been made of the latest cinematic adaptation of author Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune over the course of the past year plus. It was originally scheduled to make its theatrical debut in 2020, with multiple pushbacks as a result of the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now later this year, the movie will apparently finally get its long awaited debut, too, just before Halloween. If in fact the movie finally makes its way to theaters nationwide, it will not have been the first time that Herbert’s novel has been adapted for the big or even small screen. Its most recent adaptation was a made for TV version that aired on television in 2000. That rendition was followed up in 2003 by the sequel, Children of Dune. Both mini-series aired on the old Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy). Much as with the original theatrical version from 1984 that was helmed by David Lynch, the 2000 and 2003 mini-series has led to plenty of division among audiences. Viewers either loved it or hated it. There was no middle ground. Speaking of that 1984 version, it will receive an expansive re-issue Tuesday in the form of a 4K UHD/Blu-ray box set. If research is correct, the last time that the landmark 1984 version was released on any format was in 2011 on a single-disc Blu-ray presentation with limited extras. The new, forthcoming re-issue from Arrow Video is overall, a large step up from that presentation. That is due in large part to the expanded presentation in this case. This will be discussed shortly. While the expanded presentation is unarguably a positive, the bonus content that features with the new re-issue is a mixed bag. It will be discussed a little later. Considering the overall presentation in the movie’s forthcoming re-issue, its pricing proves important in its own way to the whole of the presentation in a mostly positive fashion. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the forthcoming Dune 4K UHD/BD combo pack re-issue. All things considered, they make this re-issue a mostly successful presentation, despite its concerns.
Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/BD re-issue of the David Lynch-helmed 1984 cinematic adaptation of Dune is an interesting new presentation of the landmark movie. Its presentation here stands out in part because it is expanded from the movie’s previous release. Instead of just being available on Blu-ray, it is also presented here on a 4K UHD platform. For those who don’t know, the picture quality on 4K UHD is an enhancement from that of Blu-ray. That is because of its pixel rate. Now that is not to say that the Blu-ray presentation’s visual quality is bad. It is impressive in its own right in comparison to the movie’s original analog presentation. The picture is much better.
Keeping all of this in mind, it plays into the related topic of pricing for 4K UHD technology. 4K UHD players and TVs are far more expensive right now than Blu-ray players and standard monitors. To that end, consumers who cannot afford or do not want to pay the currently exorbitant price for that 4K UHD hardware can still enjoy this classic sci-fi flick in a positive visual presentation even on Blu-ray. Those who have actually turned out the money for 4K UHD hardware can enjoy it on the already impressive Blu-ray presentation and on the even more enhanced 4K UHD presentation. So to this end, the dual visual presentations ensure that audiences on either side of the BD/4K UHD discussion will benefit.
While the dual 4K UHD/BD presentation of Dune in Arrow Video’s new re-issue is a strong positive for this re-issue, the manner in which the movie’s companion bonus content is presented here is more problematic. Arrow Video has spread the movie’s bonus content (new and old alike) across the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs. Two new feature-length audio commentaries are presented on the 4K UHD disc along with a variety of “older” cast and crew interviews from the early 2000s. Meanwhile, the Blu-ray presentation features a new interview with members of Toto, which composed the movie’s score, and a new interview with make-up artist Gianetto de Rossi, which was filmed in 2020. The new interviews are complimented by a pair of archived interviews with other members of the movie’s crew. The interview with Toto’s members is interesting in that audiences learn it was the first and only time that the band had ever scored a movie’s soundtrack and that Lynch had told the band that working with them was, in hindsight, one of the few things he enjoyed from the movie. The interview with de Rossi, meanwhile, offers a lot of insight into the movie’s creation. Thankfully, the subtitles – de Rossi speaks entirely in Italian during his interview – that he was very picky about how he did things, and that one of the cast members even received a minor injury because the cast member did not listen to him in one particular scene. He also reveals through his discussion that he enjoyed working on the movie for the most part, though in hindsight, he felt the movie really did not end up reaching its potential, which is interesting. That is interesting, again, because he said himself that he enjoyed working on the movie and with the cast and crew.
On a similar note, the archived interview with Production Coordinator Golda Offenheim (recorded in 2003, prior to her passing only years later in 2008) offers similar thoughts. Offenheim reveals during her interview that she also was not a fan of the movie, nor was she a fan of most of David Lynch’s work. Ironically, she admits in her interview that she enjoyed working with the cast and crew, even saying there was a positive sense of camaraderie among them. As if that is not enough, that she leaves viewers (and her anonymous interviewer) hanging on a number of topics, including the fate of a bus used by the cast and crew that went missing, and certain details about the cast and crew. One cannot help but wonder what knowledge she took with her from that interview. That alone makes for so much more interest in this interview along with everything else discussed. Simply put, her comments and those of de Rossi showed that clearly there was some discord among the cast and crew behind the scenes. That is proven even more with the archived interview with star Paul Smith.
Smith reveals in his interview that one of the scenes that he wanted to do was cut out of concerns about him and crew members being accidentally electrocuted. He also reveals that he was initially the first choice to play the Baron, but his own refusal to put on extra weight for the role resulted in him playing another character, the Baron’s nephew. Smith openly states in his interview that he outright refused to gain the extra weight needed for the role of the Baron because he did not want to put his health and life in that kind of danger. It is just another example of that noted discord behind the scenes. Interestingly despite everything that obviously went on behind the cameras, the 1984 adaptation of Dune has still gone on to become a cult hit, even though it may not stick entirely to it literary source material. By comparison, the two TV mini-series that aired in 2000 and 2003 on Sci-Fi Channel stayed closer to their source material but still looked awful. So again, the 1984 version suffered from its own problems behind the lens, but still ended up being better than the 2000 version and its sequel.
Adding even more to the discussion here is the bonus booklet that accompanies the re-issue. Whether audiences own 4K UHD or Blu-ray hardware, viewers on both sides of that divide will get to take in so much content spread across the 60-page publication. From the movie’s place in the bigger history of science fiction on the big screen, to the bigger message of Herbert’s novel, to even the movie’s sound effects and more, the booklet offers in-depth discussions of so many topics. One could actually argue that to at least a point, that breadth and depth of information makes up for the division of the bonus content on the set’s two discs. Keeping that in mind, it helps further enhance the set’s presentation.
Getting back on track, the bonus content featured on the movie’s Blu-ray presentation is, again, unlike that presented in the re-issue’s 4K UHD presentation. This is where the matter of cost comes back into play, but not in a good way. While those with 4K UHD players and TVs will be able to take in the bonus content on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs, those with Blu-ray players and standard TVs will only get to take in the bonus content on the Blu-ray disc. Again, the new content featured in the 4K UHD content includes two new feature-length audio commentaries along with a variety of archived interviews. Not having access to that content, means those with only Blu-ray players and standard TVs are being short-changed. 4K UHD players and TVs are, again, largely cost restrictive in comparison to Blu-ray players and standard HDTVs right now. That means that while yes, some consumers do own that more expensive content, most do not. So in separating the bonus content out in such fashion means that Arrow Video is really shooting itself in the foot here so to speak. To that end, it makes the movie’s bonus content positive and negative all in one. Keeping in mind the positive role that the movie’s presentation on dual formats plays and the role of the divided bonus content here, this latest re-issue of Dune largely proves entertaining but largely imperfect. Even with all of this in mind, there is at least one positive left to note here. That content in question is the re-issue’s pricing.
The average price point for Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/Blu-ray re-issue of Dune is approximately $42, rounding up the number to a whole. Now considering how expensive most 4K UHD discs are by themselves, that seems a bit hit, and that would be right. However, that the movie’s 4K UHD is presented alongside a Blu-ray presentation of the movie, that number makes more sense. What’s more, the most commonly occurring price for the re-issue – through Amazon, Walmart, and Target – is $34.99. That is an even more affordable number, considering the breadth and depth of the content featured in this re-issue. Best Buy’s listing is right at the average, at $42.99. Books-a-Million, the only other major retailer that lists the re-issue, has it listed far above the average at $59.95. So looking at all of these prices, it becomes clear that the pricing for this re-issue is in fact largely positive and will not break anyone’s budget. Even with the concerns raised through the bonus content’s division, that aspect and the movie’s dual presentation works with the bonus content to a point to make this re-issue imperfect but still mostly engaging and entertaining.
Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD/Blu-ray presentation of Dune (1984) is an interesting new offering from the home entertainment company. Its primary positive comes in the form of the movie’s dual presentation. Whether audiences own 4K UHD hard ware or Blu-ray players and standard TVs, viewers on both sides of that divide can enjoy this classic movie with full clarity on either platform. Now while that dual presentation is positive, it also widens the divide. That is because the new and archived bonus footage is split between the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs. Not everyone can afford the more cost restrictive 4K UHD hardware, and those people are relegated to only watching the Blu-ray’s bonus content. Keeping that in mind, the division of the bonus content detracts from the set’s enjoyment to a point. On the other hand, the extensive information shared in the set’s bonus booklet makes up for that shortfall at least to a point. Even with that in mind, the division of the bonus content cannot be ignored. Even with the concerns raised by the bonus content in mind, the set’s pricing proves to be its own positive. It proves cost effective regardless of whether viewers have the noted 4K UHD hardware. Maybe one day when and if that hardware becomes less cost restrictive, then it will become even more of a positive. In the meantime though, it still proves at least somewhat positive. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue of Dune imperfect but still entertaining. The presentation is scheduled for release Tuesday. More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available at:
Independent rock band The Lonely Ones is giving audiences their first preview of its upcoming debut EP.
The band debuted the as-yet-untitled EP’s lead single, ‘Change The Station‘ Friday along with the song’s companion video. The song boasts a modern rock style musical arrangement that is akin to works from the likes of Small Town Titans. One can also argue there is a comparison to some songs from the likes of Shinedown and other similar acts in the arrangement.
The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement is a clear statement about everything that has taken place across America in recent months. It is a gripping commentary whose content works well with the song’s musical arrangement.
The video that accompanies single mirrors the energy and urgency in the song’s collective musical and lyrical content. It features the band performing its single in a studio setting. Each member performs his respective part to the song while cameras spin — almost to dizzying lengths — around the group.
Queen member Brian May and Flash Gordon himself — Sam J. Jones — praised The Lonely ones for its take on ‘Flash Gordon/The Hero.’
May said of the cover through a prepared statement, “What a fantastic cover! I didn’t realize they were going to go into The Hero and the whole reprise…magnificent!”
Jones had the following to say of the cover.
“This is one of the best covers I have ever heard and seen,” he said. “What a gifted group – The Lonely Ones are for everyone of us, from the 1980’s to right now!”
It is unknown if the band’s cover of ‘Flash Gordon/The Hero’ or ‘Real Big Trouble’ will feature in The Lonely Ones’ upcoming EP. Other than the fact that ‘Change the Station’ will feature in the record, all that is known about the record is that it is expected for release this year through Imagen Records.
Front man Marty McCoy recently spoke about the EP’s upcoming release.
“We’re very excited to partner with Imagen Records in 2021,” he said. “They put a deal on the table that was very artist friendly and their excitement about the band has been contagious. It’s a great team with Bob Winegard, Shauna O’Donnell, Steven Nathan and Morgan Rose. The music industry is constantly changing and these cats have their ears to the ground. We are looking forward to this new adventure with Imagen on our side.”
Winegard spoke warmly of The Lonely Ones in his own statement.
“I am very excited to have The Lonely Ones on the Imagen Records roster,” said Winegard. “I knew from the moment I heard their songs that this band was something special. They are hit makers!”
Rose, who is the head of A&R at Imagen Records and is also the longtime drummer for Sevendust also shared his thoughts on the band’s signing.
‘I’ve known Marty and the boys for most of my career,” he said. “When the opportunity to sign them came up, I jumped at it. This band is stacked with hooks and tons of attitude. I can’t wait for the world to hear what they have to say,”
More information on The Lonely Ones’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at The Lonely Ones’ official Facebook page.
Kid Kalifornia Productions’ independent horror flick The Hatred is an intriguing presentation. It is a movie that horror fans will not necessarily hate, but that they will likely not love, either. As with its counterpart The Deeper Your Dig — also created by the independent film making family dubbed “The Adams Family” – it boasts its positives. But it also bears its own negatives. The most obvious of its positives is its story. This aspect will be addressed shortly. While the story is simple enough to follow, the movie’s production values – the very way in which the story is presented – detracts considerably from the overall presentation. It will be addressed a little later. While the overall presentation of The Hatred considerably detracts from its presentation, the pacing of the story makes up for that issue at least to a point. It will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this indie hybrid horror flick. All things considered, they make the movie worth watching maybe occasionally at best.
Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of “The Adams Family’s” independent horror flick The Hatred is a presentation that fans of the genre will agree is worth watching maybe every once in a while. Re-issued in October by Arrow Video as part of a two-movie set that also features “The Adams Family’s” other flick The Deeper You Dig, this movie is hardly memorable, but not a complete failure. One thing that it does have going for it is its story. The civil war-era story featured in this movie is simple. A young woman is left orphaned after a group of apparently Union soldiers murders her sister and mother, this after the group shot and killed one of its own and then hanged the other. The girl – played by Zelda Adams (the youngest member of the “Adams Family” – is so overcome by her rage at what the soldiers did to her family, that when she finds the hanged soldier, she somehow brings him back to life (she claimed it was through praying in her story to the Union officer who is interrogating her. This matter will be discussed shortly, as it does hurt the story) and uses him to make the other soldiers pay for what they’ve done. One by one, the unnamed soldier kills his former fellows by increasingly gruesome fashion, from gunshot to slashing to even disembowelment. Yes, there is a lot of blood and gore here, so those with weak stomachs are cautioned here.
As the story progresses, it is revealed that the story is in fact the girl’s recollection as she is being interrogated by another Union officer about the deaths of the men. This is where the plot hole comes into play. The story never explains how the girl was apprehended and brought in for the interrogation. It seems like a minor issue on the surface, but on a much larger scale, considering that the murdered soldiers are the only other figures in the forest, it would have been nice to know how she was captured. This problem does not leave the movie completely unwatchable, but it is a matter that audiences cannot and should not overlook.
Staying on the topic of problems from which this movie suffers, its very presentation is problematic in its own right. Between the cinematography, the girl’s narration, and the overall acting, the very manner in which this story is presented detracts from the movie’s appeal, in its own way. The constant cold, snowy backdrop and the grey skies are important to setting the mood, given. However, after almost an hour, the gloomy feeling that they generate wears thin. The girl’s narration is so pretentious and goth. It conjures Lydia (Winona Ryder) in Beetlejuice as she sits in her room, writing what is meant to be a suicide note. Adams’ demeanor as she delivers her story is just as annoying as her very delivery. It just detracts considerably from the overall presentation. She is not the only cast member whose performance is problematic. The Union officer who is interrogating her is just as unbelievable in his performance. The same applies to the soldier who is bludgeoned to death by the resurrected soldier. The way in which the bludgeoned soldier begs for mercy is a bit “hammy” to say the least. Simply put, the performances overall, the general cinematography and even the narration give this movie the feel of something that was crafted by a college student more so than a professional film maker, even being an independent work.
For all the problems that the general presentation of The Hatred raises, it does have at least one other positive that keeps it worth at least one watch. That one other positive is the pacing of its story. Audiences are reminded here that The Hatred’s run time does not even reach the one hour mark. Yes, it is that short, coming in at 59 minutes. In that short run time, the story actually does manage to keep its focus throughout. From one soldier to the next, the girl recounts how the resurrected soldier murders each man. There is no side tracking for secondary story lines at any point, which is a very good thing. That allows the story to progress smoothly and in turn keep audiences engaged if only through this aspect. Even in the slightly slower moments in the cabin in which the girl is being interrogated, the pacing does not slow down too much. The end result of that balance in the story’s pacing throughout is that audiences will appreciate the story, even with its one notable plot hole. To that end, viewers will agree that the easy to follow story and its pacing are just enough counter to the movie’s presentation style and make it worth watching maybe occasionally.
Kid Kalifornia Productions’ 2018 independent horror flick The Hatred is hardly one of the most memorable entries in the genre. At the same time it is worth watching maybe at least occasionally. That is due in part to the movie’s easy to follow story. That is the case even despite its one notable plot hole. The movie’s overall presentation style does detract from its appeal as it gives the movie the feel of a production that was created by a college student more so than even a professional independent film maker. While The Hatred’s presentation style greatly detracts from its appeal, the pacing of the movie’s central story makes up for that issue at least partially. When this aspect is considered along with the story, the two elements join to make the movie worth watching maybe at least once.
More information on Arrow Video’s The Hatred re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:
Independent cinema is more important than ever nowadays. In an age when mainstream movies are primarily prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events, independent movies offer audiences a much needed alternative to the general lack of originality being turned out by Hollywood’s Big Six studios. To that end, any time that a new, independent movie is released, it is worth at least some consideration. Such is the case with the independent horror thriller The Deeper You Dig. Originally released in 2019 by Wonder Wheel Productions, the movie was re-issued late last year on Blu-ray by Arrow Video as part of a two-movie collection that also features the movie The Hatred. Each feature was produced and directed by the husband/wife/daughter trio that is known as The Adams Family – John Adams, his wife Toby Poser and their daughter Zelda. For the sake of this review, the attention will remain on The Deeper You Dig. The 95-minute movie is a presentation that fans of paranormal stories and those of crime dramas find equally appealing. The noted audiences will agree that this independent offering is worth watching at least once. That is proven in part through its central story, which will be discussed shortly. While the story at the heart of The Deeper You Dig offers at least some appeal for audiences, its pacing becomes somewhat problematic as it progresses. This will be addressed a little later. Considering that Arrow Video’s recent release of this movie is a re-issue, its bonus content is just as worth noting as its primary content. It will be addressed later, too. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Deeper You Dig. All things considered, they make this independent horror/crime thriller a moderately successful entry into its respective genres.
Arrow Video’s recent re-issue of Wonder Wheel Productions’ 2019 independent horror/crime thriller The Deeper You Dig is a presentation that fans of the noted genres will find worth watching at least once. That is proven in part through its story. The story centers on main character Ivy’s (Tobin) search for her daughter Echo (Tobin’s daughter Zelda) after she goes missing. Echo’s disappearance is the result of Kurt (Adams) accidentally hitting her with his truck one night after a night of drinking. Upon realizing that Echo has survived the incident, Kurt freaks out and decides to suffocate Echo so that she can’t go to the authorities to tell what happened. This on the surface might seem outlandish to some viewers. However, anyone who watches TV newsmagazine shows, such as 48 Hours, 20/20, and Dateline know better. Kurt’s actions are actually quite similar to those of so many of the killers presented in the stories in those shows. That even includes his heinous actions that follow after Echo’s ghost (or is it his own guilt?) gets to him. This aspect of the story – whether it was really Echo’s ghost or just Kurt’s own guilt – echoes hints of Edgar Allen Poe’s timeless tale, The Tell-Tale Heart, in which the main character kills a man, but ends up confessing because of his own guilt. Considering that there are people who have burned bodies to hide evidence, dismembered them, etc. in real life crime stories on the news, Kurt’s actions are heinous, but not unbelievable, sadly. Now keeping all of this in mind, there is at least one major plot hole to the story, that of the lack of damage to Kurt’s truck following the initial incident. Anyone who has ever heard and seen stories of people being hit by vehicles knows that regardless of how fast a vehicle is going, if it is going fast enough to even knock out a person, then there would be damage to a vehicle’s bumper, headlights, glass, etc. Audiences who look closely will notice that Kurt’s truck shows none of those damage signs. That damage is something that the police officers would have instantly noticed when they came to the house that Kurt was flipping. What’s more, when Kurt buys the rope and tarp at the convenience store, the clerk says nothing and does not even take any action. That aspect is not believable, either. Considering that a person was missing, and someone buys items that people have so commonly heard about in crimes on the noted TV news magazines, suspension of disbelief here is impossible. The whole thing ends in quite the unexpected fashion. That finale will not be revealed here, but it will definitely leave audiences scratching their heads. Yes, it turns the typical horror finale on its head, but also seems a bit convoluted at the same time. One can only wonder why the family decided to close out the story how it did. The lasting impression that it leaves will cause viewers to look back on the story and just be confused. The family discusses this aspect and more in its extensive discussion about the movie in the bonus content. That content will be discussed later. Going back to the story, all things considered in the story, the plot hole and contrivances aside, the story’s setup is believable, so it in itself will leave audiences wanting to watch. That it can be likened to Poe’s famed literary work makes for its own share of interest, too. Now for all that the story does to make The Deeper You Dig worth watching, the story itself does suffer from one problem, that of its pacing.
The pacing in The Deeper You Dig’s story starts off relatively stable, keeping the story moving along well. However, as it reaches its second act, in which Ivy starts actually looking for Echo, things dramatically slow down. It makes the movie’s 95-minute run time feel much longer. Much of the time is spent with Ivy going into some alternate realm after visiting an old friend in hopes of getting him to help her. The overly artsy approach and resultant look here greatly detracts from viewers’ engagement and entertainment. Thankfully though, the pacing finally picks back up in the third and final act when Ivy finally realizes Kurt is responsible for Echo’s disappearance and death. Though, that final sequence does get a bit too over the top in its weirdness. That is a story for another time though. It will be addressed in the discussion on the bonus content, too. Getting back to the issue of the pacing, if audiences can force themselves to endure the plodding second act, then they will make it easily through the third act and end. To that end, the pacing of The Deeper You Dig’s pacing is problematic, but luckily not enough to completely derail the story. The bonus content that accompanies the movie’s recent re-issue does its own share to make the movie worth watching at least once.
The bonus content that accompanies Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Deeper You Dig is extensive to say the least. There is a full, feature-length audio commentary that accompanies the movie, as well as a visual essay about the theme of family in this movie, and some smaller extras, such as a poster and music video. They all do their own share to entertain audiences, but the roughly 45-minute featurette, “At Home With The Adams Family” is easily the most important of the bonuses. This presentation reveals that Adams is an artist during one of the family’s discussions. This revelation would explain the movie’s sometimes overly artsy look. Adams also explains that “he likes violence” which would explain one of the movie’s most gruesome scenes in its final act. Yet another discussion that the family takes on in this featurette is the story’s finale. Poser explains that the unsettling finale was intentionally set. She explains that the family did what they did with the finale because they wanted to do something different. There is nothing wrong with doing something different, but this story’s finale will not leave audiences with a sense of fulfillment, but rather with confusion and even some anger at Ivy. These are just some of the topics that the Adams family tackles in its extensive discussion. There is also a discussion about the story’s overall lack of a soundtrack, which is itself another positive aspect to its presentation. That ambient sound versus a constant musical soundtrack actually does much to make the movie engaging and entertaining in its own right. Adams’ discussion on the use of sound in the movie is another interesting topic that will engage audiences. When these topics and the others addressed in the family’s interview are considered along with everything noted in the feature-length audio commentary, the whole of that content works with the movie’s general story to make The Deeper You Dig worth watching at least once even despite the pacing problems and its one notable plot hole.
Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Wonder Wheel Productions’ 2019 independent horror/crime thriller The Deeper You Dig is a presentation that will appeal widely to fans of the noted genres. That is due in large part to the movie’s story. The story mirrors so many of the real life murder stories that TV news magazine shows, such as 48 Hours, 20/20, and Dateline have run throughout their runs. To that end, as brutal as the story is, it actually is believable at least to a point. What happens to Kurt as a result of that central story shows influence from Edgar Allen Poe’s timeless tale, The Tell–Tale Heart. Of course for all the ability of viewers to suspend their disbelief in watching the story, it is not without its problems. It does suffer from one major plot hole that otherwise negates everything in the story. The pacing in the story’s second act detracts from its engagement and entertainment, too. Even with those issues in mind, they are not enough to completely derail the movie. Its collective bonus content makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment. Keeping that in mind, that content and the movie’s story form a foundation for the story that makes it worth watching at least once.
More information on Arrow Video’s The Deeper You Dig re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:
When Disney and Pixar released their movie Wall–E back in 2008, it was lauded by audiences and critics alike, even receiving a score of 95 from Rotten Tomatoes. All of the accolades that the movie received are prime examples of how easily audiences really do forget the past. The movie is a clear lifting of MGM’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as ruminations by the late great scientist Isaac Asimov. On another level, it is also a lifting from another well-known sci-fi flick by the name of Silent Running. As a matter of fact, one could argue that Wall–E pulls more from that movie than from 2001: A Space Odyssey with its overly preachy content. That would go to show the influence of the latter, decidedly nihilistic flick, which in fact received the Blu-ray re-issue treatment last month thanks to Arrow Video. Re-issued Nov. 17, the 1972 cult favorite sci-fi flick will appeal equally to its longtime fans and sci-fi fans who might be less familiar with the movie. That is due in part to the movie’s central story, which will be discussed shortly. While the story is certain to keep viewers engaged throughout the movie’s roughly 90-minute run time, the re-issue’s presentation does suffer from at least one concern, its production. Most notably, the audio production proves somewhat problematic and will be addressed a little later. The bonus content that accompanies the re-issue adds to the presentation’s appeal and together with the story, makes for even more appeal. The two items together make up for the concerns raised by the audio production and make the movie’s re-issue worth watching at least occasionally by the most devoted science fiction fans and of Silent Running.
Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1972 sci-fi statement flick Silent Running is a presentation that will appeal to the most devoted of the movie’s fans. It will also appeal to the most devoted science fiction fans. That is due in part to the movie’s story. The story in question centers on Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern – The Burbs, Nebraska, The Hateful Eight) as he makes his way into space to (he thinks) protect a forest that he oversees in a bio-dome structure attached to his ship, the Valley Forge. The flight happens after an order from Earth for all ships orbiting Earth to destroy their biodomes, which contain the last plant and animal life from Earth. While no reason is ever given for the order, the script does manage to explain that by having one of Freeman’s soon-to-be deceased crewmates note that he did not understand the order either. In a way, that lack of explanation is a sort of commentary about the oftentimes mind boggling actions of any government body. Lowell’s development as the story progresses is really what makes the story engaging. His focus on protecting the forest gradually declines as he increasingly falls victim to the psychological effect of isolation. He eventually comes to the realization that being alone, there is no reason to keep trying to save the forest, leading to the story’s disturbing finale. This critic will not reveal that finale here for those who have yet to see the story. What can be said is that it will leave audiences unsettled, to say the very least.
On another note, there is one notable plot hole to this story that almost completely negates the whole thing. That plot hole comes early on as one of Lowell’s crewmates makes mention that the Earth at the time was 75-degrees. The companion booklet that comes with the movie’s recent re-issue points out that the degrees measure in question is Celsius, not Fahrenheit. That Celsius measure equals to 167-degrees in Fahrenheit. So it leaves one scratching one’s head that Lowell’s crew mates talk about returning to Earth when no human, let alone plant and animal, could survive such temperatures. Humans even now struggle when summer temperatures in the real world get to the 100s, so there is no way humans could even begin to survive at a temperature of nearly 200-degrees year-round. Audiences who can overlook this massive Earth-size plot hole will find themselves able to stay engaged. However in hindsight, that noted realization detracts from the story’s enjoyment quite a bit. The plot hole pointed out in the re-issue’s companion booklet is just one aspect of the bonus content that will be pointed out later. It is also just one of the problems from which the movie itself suffers. The audio production presented in the movie is another concern.
Throughout the course of Silent Running’s 90-minute run time, its audio levels are problematic. The dialogue plays out at a low volume while the music, crafted and performed by folk singer Joan Baez and composer Peter Schickele, is far too loud whenever it is used. Whether that was the result of work done on the movie’s re-mastering or if it was originally like that is anyone’s guess. It was not discussed in any of the movie’s bonus content. Again, the bonus content will be discussed later. Regardless, the constant volume adjustments that audiences will find themselves having to make as they take in the movie will become bothersome to say the least. At least the video quality is worth its share of applause. It makes up at least to a point for the problems posed by the problematic audio production.
For all of the problems posed by Silent Running’s story and its audio production, its re-issue does come with at least one undeniable positive, its bonus content. As has already been noted, the movie’s bonus content makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment. The companion booklet that comes with the re-issue is just one of the noted extras worth addressing. Journalist Peter Tonguette points out on page 21 of the booklet, “In the screenplay by Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, and Steven Bocho, the temperature of the Earth has eached 75-degrees Celsius, apparently rendering it inhospitable to a wide assortment of plants and animals.” A check of those credits on IMDB.com certifies they crafted the movie’s script. Again referencing this, 75-degrees Celsius is equal to 165-degrees Fahrenheit. How that would even be hospitable to any life is confusing. Humans in reality can barely handle temperatures in excess of 100-degrees. So for Lowell’s crew mate to be excited that the planet’s year-round temperature is 75-degrees leaves one wondering how humans have adapted to such high temperature. It creates a massive plot hole about the size of the ships that orbit Earth. It is just one of the interesting aspects pointed out in the movie’s companion booklet. Audiences also learn from journalist Barry Forshaw, that director Douglas Trumbull’s turn helming Silent Running was not his first jaunt into space so to speak. Forshaw points out in his essay, that Trumbull worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey prior to taking on Silent Running, and that it was his stint on the prior that led to the latter. On an equally interesting note, Wall–E – as already noted – lifts liberally from both movies for its story. Additionally, Forshaw points out in page 11 of the booklet, that famed Star Wars director George Lucas was so impressed by Trumbull’s use of sound in the open space scenes, that he was moved to incorporate the use of sound for space scenes, rather than just leave the outer space scenes outside the ships quiet. That is quite the statement for Trumbull to have had such impact. Between all of this and so much more noted in the booklet, it alone more than proves the importance of the movie’s bonus content. It is just one part of the bonus content that is worth addressing.
The bonus content that is presented on disc ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment in that it does not just rehash the bonus content featured in the movie’s 2015 re-issue, its then most recent re-issue. That content is featured here, but is joined by even more new content, such as a discussion on the movie’s soundtrack. As is revealed in that discussion, Schickele’s turn on Silent Running was in fact his first time scoring a big screen feature. Music historian Jeff Bond, who narrates the feature, points out that Schickele’s work with Baez stemmed oddly enough from Baez’s intent to work on a holiday music compilation of all things. Additionally, Bond discusses the attention that Schickele paid to each scene, to ensure every note of every scene made for the utmost emotional impact on audiences.
“First Run,” another of the new bonuses featured in this re-issue, takes audiences through a look at the initial first scenes of Silent Running. The comparison of those early scenes to the final product makes for more appreciation for that final product.
The archived “Making of” featurette joins with the newer content to make for even more engagement and entertainment. Audiences learn firsthand from Dern in the vintage extra, that he ran “200 miles” on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Valley Forge (which was used for most of the movie’s principal shooting) during down time as a means to stay healthy. That is a lot of running. Audiences also learn in this extra that Trumbull did not even initially want to direct the movie, but do other things on the film. Audiences will be left to learn that whole story for themselves. Between this story, the other items noted here and the rest of the features extensive information, it and the rest of the equally extensive list of bonus content does much to entertain and engage audiences. If for no other reason than the bonus content, audiences will find the movie worth watching at least once. Audiences who can overlook the aforementioned plot hole involving the planet’s temperature in the story will find the rest of the movie’s ecologically-minded story worth watching, too. The two items together give audiences reason to watch this movie at least occasionally.
Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1972 sci-fi eco/space drama Silent Running is a presentation that will find enjoyment among the most devoted sci-fi fans and those of the movie. That is due in part to the movie’s story. The story, which does suffer from one massive plot hole, follows a botanist – Lowell — who goes rogue after being told that the forest for which he cared was going to be destroyed. As a result of his actions, Lowell falls into a slow spiral of depression and despair, leading to the movie’s rather depressing finale. That the movie’s script never addresses its one major plot hole greatly detracts from its presentation. Audiences who can overlook that problem will find the movie engaging at least to a point. The video quality of the movie’s re-issue is a positive in its own right, but the audio production proves problematic in its own right, as audiences will find themselves having to raise and lower the volume throughout the movie. The extensive bonus content featured with the movie’s re-issue is its primary saving grace. If for no other reason than that content, audiences will find the re-issue worth watching. Even with that in mind, that content is more worth watching than the movie itself. To that end, the movie in whole is going to find the most appeal among the movie’s most devoted audiences and sci-fi fans than general sci-fi fans and other audiences. Silent Running is available now.
More information on Arrow Video’s Silent Runnning re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at: