Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

BD Review: The Children

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

The Children Blu-RayMovie Info:
Writer: Tom Shankland, Paul Andrew Williams
Director: Tom Shankland
Cast: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, Hannah Tointon, Raffiella Brooks, Jake Hathaway, William Howes, Eva Sayer
Rating: R
Studio: Lionsgate

Release Info:
DVD Release Date: October 6, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $14.99

While teen screams have the potential to be fun, I don’t feel that the teen horror conventions found in the scream movies have to be followed to make a horror movie effective or worth watching. Every once in a while, it is nice to see an intelligent, teen in a horror movie. That’s exactly what you’ll get from The Children.

The thing I enjoyed about The Children is that the story is creepy enough, it isn’t overly conventional, and there is actually quite a bit of character development. Sure, as in any horror movie, some of the characters make stupid choices, and pay the price for it, but I felt that the choices that were made, stupid or not, made sense for each character’s situation. While I found some characters (especially Chloe and Jonah) exceptionally annoying, I realize that was exactly how they were supposed to act, and therefore, am able to deal with the fact that during most of the movie, I wanted to punch them in the face.

The Children is a direct to DVD release through Sam Raimi’s Ghosthouse Underground horror label. Raimi has picked some fairly freaky films for this year’s release, but thus far, The Children is my favorite. The entire question of whether a parent should or could kill their children is a major theme of this film, and it’s presented in a way that many of the other, evil children movies (i.e. Children of the Damned) fail. The performance of the parents was especially realistic, in my opinion.

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BD Review: Misery

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Misery Blu-Ray Box ArtMovie Info:
Writer: Stephen King, William Goldman
Director: Rob Reiner
Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis
Rating: R
Studio: MGM

Release Info:
DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $15.99

I love the movie Misery. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this movie, but I just can’t seem to get enough of it. Kathy Bates plays the ultimate psycho and does it well. Annie Wilkes scares me. As someone who relies on caregivers for my daily living needs, I can imagine how terrifying it is for someone stuck in a wheelchair to be in the position that Paul Sheldon is in.

When I heard that Misery was coming to Blu-Ray, I was elated. I am starting to get all the movies I own on DVD in Blu-Ray. I like the quality of Blu-Ray better, anyway, which is the entire point of this newer system. The big question that needed to be answered, for me, is whether the quality of the Blu-Ray is better than the quality of the standard DVD, and whether it is worth it to upgrade to the Blu-Ray version.

When it comes to Stephen King books, I’m usually all in. Save for some of the last books he’s written, I’m a huge King fan. It’s fairly easy to see why he’s called the Master of Horror. In the late 70s, 80s and 90s, he owned the genre. I have found the movie adaptations of his works to be hit or miss. I am especially disappointed in the remakes for movies like Carrie. When a King movie is done well, it is awesome. When it isn’t, (Dreamcatcher, for example) the whole movie falls apart. Misery falls in the hit category. In fact, this movie is one of my all time, favorite, Stephen King adaptations.

I guess it is the relate-ability factor that really gets to me. Annie Wilkes isn’t some craze zombie that’s going to eat Paul’s flesh. She’s not a Michael Meyer’s type of serial killer who can be shot and shot and shot and shot and still come back to life. She’s a human being. I hate to call her average, because she’s about as fruit loopy as it gets. Still, there are people as nutty as Annie and anything could set them off. Being as I’m in a wheelchair, the reality of a nutso caregiver keeps me from hiring just anyone for my care. I do fear that there are Annie Wilkes out there, and that’s the true horror of a movie like Misery.

Misery Plot
“I’m your number one fan.”

That line alone says it all. I can’t help but mention that every time I hear it, I laugh as I imagine Stewie Griffin in an Annie Wilkes outfit, during the Family Guy spoof of Misery. That, of course, has little to do with the plot of the movie, so I digress.

Paul Sheldon is a famous author known for his Victorian romance novels, the Misery series, about his well received protagonist, Misery Chastaine. He has just finished his first novel since ending the Misery series, at the same place he writes all his books, a private lodge in Silver Creek, Colorado. After finishing his novel, he decides to drive back to New York, where he lives, but he doesn’t realize that a huge storm is hitting the roads he’ll have to head down to get home.

When his car skids off the road and down an embankment, Paul is miraculously saved by Annie Wilkes, who lives in the area, and takes him to her home. Annie used to be a nurse, so she has the skills to nurse him back to health. At first, Annie seems very sweet and nice. She is Paul’s number one fan. She’s read all his books, named her prized pig, Misery, and looks up to Misery, the character. However, looks can be deceiving.

Paul learns this after he lets Annie read his new novel, an untitled story that Annie says is filled with profanity. Annie is furious with this. Paul is a “Dirty Bird” who swears too much and it ruins the book for Annie. After going nuts and revealing her true psychotic side to Paul, she calms down and things go back to her nursing him with relative niceness.

In town, Annie buys the latest book in the Misery series, which has just been released, Misery’s Child. What she doesn’t know is that “Mister Man” aka Paul has killed off her beloved Misery, so that he can devote time to other projects. When she realizes what he’s done, she informs him that nobody knows where he is, she makes him burn the only copy of his latest novel, and forces him to write another Misery novel, bringing her back from the dead.

The small sheriff station in Silver Creek is looking for Paul since his publicist called them, worried. The sheriff starts reading Paul’s books to gain insight into him, and asking questions at the local store. When Paul’s car is discovered in the snow, down the embankment, everyone but the sheriff assumes that he’s dead. What none of them realize is Paul is left in the unmerciful care of a psychotic, former nurse that likes to drug him, hurt him, and imprison him, while he’s confined to a wheelchair.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:5]
Replayability: [rating:5]
Acting: [rating:5]
Directing: [rating:5]

Audio/Visual:
Fans of Misery will not be disappointed in this Blu-ray transfer. The 1080p and AVC encode offer one of the best transfers that you will find for this must own movie. Despite the slightly older age, Misery looks like it’s brand new. The level of detail and clarity shown here are quite impressive. The little things are amplified to make a pristine picture quality. Compression errors are not a problem and things like softness or glare are a rare occurrence. When grain occurs it is also rare. It does happen, but it’s so light it shouldn’t bother the majority of people. The colors are right on track and the black levels are strong.

There are three audio tracks here. Being an English speaker, I opted for the English DTS HD/MA 5.1 track and it sounded good. The visual quality manages to amaze, but the audio is very good, also.

Misery is mainly a dialogue driven affair. The dialogue is always easy to hear and is a step above what you might remember from the DVD presentation. The background sounds are what really add a nice element to the movie, though. Things like creaking floorboards, moving wheelchairs, and the occasional banging of Paul’s hands when he pushes across the floor are well placed. The ding of the typewriter offers nice sound quality, as well. Minor surround sound elements are used when appropriate. Beyond the English track there are Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and subtitles in all three languages.

Visual: [rating:4.5]
Audio: [rating:4.5]

Bonus Features:
Misery comes with a DVD copy, as well as the Blu-ray. While the quality is definitely worthy of Blu-ray recognition, the special features have been heavily sloughed over. Rather than porting over the special features from the DVD or whipping up some new ones, Fox decided to avoid the special features on the Blu-ray and let the features on the DVD go it alone. If you don’t already own the DVD this might be acceptable if you plan to watch the provided DVD here. Otherwise, if you’re looking to upgrade, like most Misery fans are, you won’t find a reason to do so when it comes to the special features.

If you don’t own the DVD or didn’t before this, you will find two audio commentaries (one by Rob Reiner and one by William Goldman) and seven featurettes that range in quality and topic, from stalkers (and stalking) to the infamous Annie Wilkes.

Bonus Features: [rating:0]

Bottom Line:
Misery in Blu-Ray looks so good, if you already own a previous DVD release, I recommend the upgrade. I am not fond of the lack of new supplements, but the upgrade visually and audio-wise is so great, and the price of the Blu-Ray is reasonable enough that I feel buying the Blu-Ray is a must. If you don’t own the DVD, get this movie. It comes highly recommended, though if I have to name my favorite transfer, to date, its this Blu-Ray release.

[rating:overall]

[tags]Misery, Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray Review, Movie Review, Dirty Bird, Mister Man, Annie Wilkes, Stephen King, James Caan, Kathy Bates, Horror[/tags]

BD Review: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End Blu-Ray Box ArtMovie Info:
Writer: Alan B. McElroy, Turi Meyer
Director: Joe Lynch
Cast: Erica Leerhsen, Henry Rollins, Texas Battle, Daniella Alonso, Steve Braun, Aleksa Palladino, Matthew Currie Holmes, Crystal Lowe, Ken Kirzinger, Ashlea Earl, Clint Carleton, Rorelee Tio, Jeff Scrutton
Rating: R
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment

Release Info:
DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $18.49

Horror sequels usually suffer a fate far worse than that of their film predecessors. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in this case, it is my job. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End was definitely one of those movies I did not enjoy. I found the original to be decent though not exceptional. Since the original wasn’t so stand out it deserved a sequel, I’m not exactly sure why the powers that be behind this project made one, other than to try to profit off the series.

In the first movie, Wrong Turn, the freaky, genetic mutant, incest loving cannibals are creepy, but it doesn’t take long for them to get old. By the time the action begins in Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, I was over the cannibals. Add in the fact that they become ten times more annoying and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is already a miss with me. I was ready for the movie to end with the first viewing of the cannibals, which now includes females. And don’t get me started on the nasty, cannibals/incest sex scene. Seriously, the implications they were sleeping together was gross enough. Seeing it wasn’t gross in a cool horror kind of way. It was flat out disgusting and stupid.

The writer of the script for Wrong Turn 2: Dead End didn’t do himself any favors. I blame the director for the annoying aspects added to the cannibals and their performances, but I blame the writer for character development (or lack thereof) and writing one helluva dumb story. The characters are atrocious. I feel absolutely no sympathy for any of them. All of them, on both sides, deserved to die, except for maybe Henry Rollins’ character, though, he too, was annoying in his own way. I ask for so little in horror movies these days, but a horror movie cannot fit true horror convention if it has not one character worth sympathizing with…and that is the first place Wrong Turn 2: Dead End fails.

I could honestly end my review of Wrong Turn 2: Dead End here, by telling you not to bother with this film, but I know some of my readers are gluttons for punishment. That’s okay, I am as curious about seeing how truly ‘bad’ a movie is, so I will sometimes watch badly rated films, just for the shits and giggles aspect of it. If you heed my words wisely, you can stop reading. The film isn’t worth it. However, if you want to find out how truly horrible Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is, keep reading. This review will give you enough information on whether renting this film, to laugh at it, is worth it or not.

The Wrong Turn 2: Dead End Plot
It has been a few years since the end of the first wrong Turn. Back in West Virginia, a bitchy celebrity by the name of Kimberly is driving down the back roads. Calling her agent, she is quite peevish as she explains she is lost. Kimberly is on her way to the middle of nowhere, to compete in a backwoods version of a survivor kind of reality series. As Kimberly complains about having to even participate in this show, she finds that the reception on her phone keeps going out. Trying to find her way to meet the rest of the cast and the film crew, she accidentally hits someone. When she gets out of the car, she is attacked by cannibal mutants, is murdered, and the credits begin to roll.

After the credits, the rest of the cast has all made it to the filming location. Each character has a gimmick. There is the jock, Jake, the emo, goth, Nina, the ho, Elena, the former military badass, Amber, and the annoying ass, Jonesy. These are the contestants on “Apocalypse: Ultimate Survivalist.” All of them take part on a series hosted by Dale Murphy, a former military man, with the chance to win shitload of money.

When Kimberly, the diva, is a no show, the cast and crew aren’t surprised. However, the producer of the show, Mara, a shy girl with very little confidence or outdoor skills, must take Kimberly’s place at the insistence of her boyfriend, Michael, who is the creator/cameraman of the show. It doesn’t take long for the cannibals to show up. They kill a crew member and capture Dale. In the meantime, the ho, Elena, gives head to Michael, which Mara happens to stumble upon (without them knowing).

Hurt by the betrayal, Mara decides to leave. She is accompanied by Nina, who helps her find a cabin. The two search for a phone, but are interrupted by a Ma cannibal giving birth to a nasty mutant, cannibal baby. The shock of the girls allows them to be spotted. They are chased into the woods, and one of them is killed. The other goes off to find the others and warn them, but for some, it will be too late. As the cannibals take back their woods, it is up to the contestants of the survival show to truly survive or die trying.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:1]
Replayability: [rating:1]
Acting: [rating:2]
Directing: [rating:1]

Audio/Visual:
The previous Wrong Turn did not offer a visual quality befitting of its time, so to assume that the second installment, a direct to DVD flick, would be any better might be assuming far too much. The two films were shot in different mediums, but the actual quality ends up with the same results. The fact is, this is not a highly detailed, clear transfer. Instead it is soft and bland like the first film. It appears that some of the shots were cleaned up to the best of the filmmakers’ ability, but it didn’t do much for the end result of the film. The colors have their share of issues, but the blacks are more on level, which is a brief improvement. Sadly, some of the most detailed scenes are the ones that most will want to skip. In any case, this is hardly representative of the best (or even the middle ground) of what Blu-ray is capable of offering.

Wrong Turn 2 features a DTS HD MA 5.1 track, but it doesn’t manage to offer a strong audio mix at all. I really don’t expect much from horror movies, but this is just bland. The screaming is loud and the inbred mutants make you want to smash them with a stick from all that grunting and sex noises, but otherwise things are just plain. The dialogue is easy to hear for the most part and the music is manageable, but nothing here is worth bragging about. It could be much worse though, so I will try and keep my complaints to a minimum. Like the first Wrong Turn you also receive Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and subtitles in English and Spanish.

Visual: [rating:2.5]
Audio: [rating:2.5]

Bonus Features:
After watching a movie this bad, a reviewer silently hopes for no special features because that means that they will be forced to stomach the movie that much longer. Unfortunately, in this case, my prayers were not answered because there are more bonuses here than I wanted to even consider watching. Even one featurette would have been bad enough, but having a few with two commentaries on top of them was just too much.

The first commentary is with the director Joe Lynch and two of the actors from the film, Henry Rollins and Erica Leerhsen. There really lacks a point of having three people in this commentary. Leerhsen rarely talks and Lynch talks enough for everyone. It’s nice to see a first time director enthusiastic about his projects, but with work like this I’m hopeful that he’s not hired too often from now on. Fans of the movie will like this, but don’t expect anything earth shattering. The second commentary is with Turi Meyer and Al Septien. This is another useless track. It’s easy to listen to, but it’s just not important or even overly necessary. They talk rather blandly, so expect them to pick apart the plot (as they think there is one) and to talk about the characters.

The Making Of for the film is called “More Blood, More Guts: The Making of Wrong Turn 2” and it lasts for just over nine minutes. The things discussed include the characters according to the cast that plays them, the mental issues of the director, and decisions concerning casting. This is pretty cut and dry and not incredibly exciting.

“On Location with P-Nut” is a short, two minute featurette filmed by P-Nut. He was visiting the set during the scene where the inbreds were getting it on. Don’t expect anything amazing here, because if you are expecting it, you’ll be disappointed.

The final featurette on the list is “Making Gore Look Good” and it’s one of the longest of the featurettes coming in at around eleven minutes. This was probably the best that the special features had to offer. This talks about the special effects that were used in the film. Effects fans will enjoy this, but everyone else will safely be able to take it or leave it.

Bonus Features: [rating:2]

Bottom Line:
I hated watching Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. If I didn’t have to review this film, I would have turned it off before the end. My biggest problem is with the cannibals. They drove me nuts. I wanted them out of the movie. Add in a lack of sympathetic characters and a shoddy plot and this movie was a total miss for me. In Blu-Ray, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End leaves much to be desired. Though relatively cheap for Blu-Ray, I recommend renting a standard release if you absolutely must see this film (especially to laugh at it). Otherwise, I recommend not bothering. Rent the original Wrong Turn instead.

[rating:overall]

[tags]Fox Home Entertainment, Wrong Turn, Horror Franchise, Bad Film, Inbred, Wrong Turn 2, Dead End, Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray Review, Movie Review, Horror[/tags]

BD Review: Child’s Play

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Child's Play Blu-Ray Box ArtMovie Info:
Writer: Don Mancini
Director: Tom Holland
Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, Dinah Manoff, Tommy Swerdlow, Jack Colvin, Neil Giuntoli
Rating: R
Studio: Fox

Release Info:
Theatrical Release Date: November 9, 1988
DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $14.49

The horror franchise I remember most from my childhood is Child’s Play. We weren’t really allowed to watch horror movies growing up, but Child’s Play was a film I remember seeing. Apparently, a demonic doll isn’t as scary as a dude with a face mask. Honestly, I think a demonic child’s play toy is a lot more scary than a face masked dude, especially if you are a kid, like I was the first time I saw this.

In the grand scheme of things, Chucky really is one of the more mild horror villains. Yeah, he is a nasty little doll, but he is not as scary as Michael Myers or even Freddy. Still, Child’s Play is a fun horror series, and it’s one of the classics of my generation. If you do not know who Chucky is, then you have been living under a rock for the past 20+ years. Granted, the series has steadily declined with the more sequels that have been made, but the original Child’s Play is a must watch for any horror fan.

The success of Child’s Play is, in large part, due to the non-mechanical acting. Little Andy (Alex Vincent) is so innocent and adorable you do not want anything to happen to him. He is the pawn in the game of a serial killer turned doll. Before she was married to a preacher on Seventh Heaven, Catherine Hicks was Andy’s mom who would defend her little boy to the death and Chris Sarandon is good in pretty much everything he’s in. Hicks and Sarandon have decent chemistry and both play their parts well. Even Dinah Manoff is good as Aunt Maggie, who has one of the most hilarious looking/sounding deaths in horror history.

You can’t go into watching any horror film with a realist’s point of view, but especially not Child’s Play. It’s about a doll that comes to life and tries to kill people. If you can look past everything to the silly, fun story Child’s Play has to tell, then you are going to enjoy this movie. Otherwise, I recommend not watching this and suggest you develop an imagination.

The Child’s Play Plot
Charles Lee “Chucky” Ray (Brad Dourif) is The Lakeshore Strangler. He has been pursued by the police and now, Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) has him cornered inside a toy store. When Chucky is mortally shot, he opens up a package of the store’s Good Guy Dolls, says a voodoo incantation and transfers his soul into the doll. The ritual creates a storm and the store is hit with lightening, burning down in the process.

It’s Andy Barclay’s (Alex Vincent) birthday and all he wants is a Good Guy doll. Andy’s mom, Karen (Catherine Hicks) has been scrimping and saving, but as a widow, her department store job isn’t enough to do much more than support Andy and herself. Desperate to buy a Good Guy Doll since Andy has been so good this year, she is willing to do nearly whatever she can to get one.

When Maggie (Dinah Manoff), who works with Karen and often babysit’s Andy, finds a Good Guy doll, Karen is willing to buy it from a smelly street vendor. However, this doll is no ordinary doll. It was taken from the burnt down store and contains the soul of Chucky. Strange things start to happen and it seems like Andy is to blame. When Aunt Maggie ends up dead, Andy becomes the prime suspect, especially when little good guy footprints are found on the counter top.

When Andy skips school and is at the scene of an explosion, the police want to have Andy’ committed, despite Karen’s protestations. However, when Karen takes Chucky home with her, she soon realizes that he has been moving and talking with no batteries and discovers that Andy is telling the truth. Now, all she has to do is convince the police her son is not crazy before more people end up dead. especially Andy.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:4]
Replayability: [rating:5]
Acting: [rating:4]
Directing: [rating:5]

Audio/Visual:
Child’s Play does not look like a perfect Blu-ray transfer. In many ways it does not even look as if it was remastered for the experience. Don’t get me wrong, at times, it is easy to see the improvement in the visual transfer. You won’t find anything as impressive as you will with Misery, but this transfer is a step up from the DVD version that fans probably already own. The detail can be rather hit or miss. Occasionally you’re dealing with a nicely detailed movie and at other times it feels like you’re watching the DVD and the quality has not changed. The issues and complaints aren’t major, but they are present and they are noticeable. The colors are more than acceptable even if the blacks sometime need work. You might have better luck and be more impressed with the visuals than I am, but even though I was not wowed, it managed to get the job done even if the quality was not that of a new release.

The audio kicks the visuals ass and then some. It’s funny to think how much work they would put into renewing the audio, especially since the visuals often felt half-assed. The surround sound is used as effectively as possible. The dialogue is stellar, but it is the pitter patter of Chucky’s little feet that really stands out. The same can be said for the other background noises that the film uses to make things more interesting. In addition to the main, English DTS HD-MA 5.1 track there are English, Spanish, and French tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Visual: [rating:3]
Audio: [rating:4]

Bonus Features:
There are a few special features on this new Child’s Play Blu-ray. I can’t say that I am wowed by any of them, but some are certainly better than others. The commentaries (yes, there are two of them) are just what I mean. The first commentary features Kevin Yagher, Catherine Hicks (Karen) and Alex Vincent (Andy). The biggest problem with this commentary is that the three are not in the same room and it’s badly mixed. Catherine and Kevin are together and having a normal enough conversation. Alex is not in the room and his comments are thrown in here and there as the opportunity presents itself. It ends up feeling broken and there are certainly issues with flow as a result. The next commentary is with David Kirschner and Don Mancini. This is the commentary to listen to if you’re looking for something more technical.

The “Chucky Commentary” is one of the more amusing featurettes on the disc. This commentary mainly occurs during any of the action/murder/attack scenes and Chucky has plenty to say. This is purely for entertainment sake. It’s worth listening to, especially if you’re a Chucky fan. Of course, once you’ve heard it once you probably won’t have a reason to hear it a second time.

“Evil Comes in Small Packages” offers all of the behind the scenes information that you might want to learn. Here you have information about the production, the development of the story, and various interviews with cast and crew. There is a good amount of technical talk here, which separates it from a lot of other behind the scenes featurettes.

“Chucky: Building a Nightmare” is definitely the best featurette available for Child’s Play. Kevin Yagher offers up how he brought Chucky to life using animatronics. It’s quite interesting, especially considering this is when things were done by hand, without things like CGI and other enhancements.

“A Monster Convention” includes the Monster Mania 2007 panel that includes Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, and Catherine Hicks. This only lasts for around five minutes, so there isn’t much to chew on here. Only one or two questions make it worth listening to.

“The Making of Child’s Play” is not so much a making of, as it is a making of Chucky. This deals with the animatronics, much like “Chucky Building a Nightmare” does.

The special features finish up with a photo gallery and a trailer presented in standard definition.

Bonus Features: [rating:3]

Bottom Line:
Child’s Play is a must watch/must own for true horror buffs. However, the quality and bonus offerings on Blu-Ray are just okay, and not spectacular. It would be a safe bet to say you will enjoy this as much on DVD as you will Blu-Ray. So, until a better BD release comes out, save a few bucks and buy this on DVD, or if you already own it, don’t feel compelled to upgrade just yet. There’s bound to be another Blu-ray upgrade attempt for Child’s Play soon enough.

[rating:overall]

[tags]Child’s Play, Doll, Voodoo, Blu Ray, Horror, Fox Home Video, Movie Review, Blu Ray Review, psychopath[/tags]

BD Review: Wrong Turn

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Wrong Turn Blu-Ray Box ArtMovie Info:
Writer: Alan B. McElroy
Director: Rob Schmidt
Cast: Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto, Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth, Julian Richings, Garry Robbins, Ted Clark, Yvonne Gaudry, Joel Harris
Rating: R
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment

Release Info:
DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $17.99

Every horror movie should have a hot heroine. That’s supposed to be a horror convention, but I’ve seen some real woofers in my day. Not so with Wrong Turn. Eliza Dushku is sizzlin’ hot in this movie. Sure, this definitely doesn’t stretch her skills as an actress, but this had to be a fun little film for her to make. It isn’t one of those horror movies that is going to hurt her career, but at the same time, making this movie didn’t do her any favors.

As far as horror movies go, this is your typical hillbilly cannibal story. Yes, the cannibals are kind of weird, but I found them far more annoying in the sequel to this movie. In this one, they were pretty creepy. It made me want to avoid the backwoods of Kentucky or West Virginia just in case there were some redneck cannibals in the back woods of the state. I don’t mean to single these states out, but I’m pretty sure, somewhere in one of the movies, it is mentioned that this takes place on the backwoods of West Virginia.

The acting, for the most part, was pretty good. It wasn’t standout, but I definitely do not expect an Oscar type of performance in a horror movie such as Wrong Turn. The most annoying character had to be Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui). It’s not that Chriqui’s acting was bad (she was much better in Zohan), but her character was just downright stupid. The stupid characters get on my nerves quite easily in horror movies. Of course, this is part of the horror convention. There has to be at least one character you just hope gets it. For this movie, that character is Carly.

The saddest part of this movie is that it was successful enough to make someone (not sure who is responsible for this) decide it would be really nifty to make two, very pathetic, direct to DVD sequels. I’m glad Wrong Turn was successful, but that didn’t mean that the direct to DVD sequel market had to start up. What a complete waste of time these sequels are. I recommend only watching this film ad skipping the others in the series.

The Wrong Turn Plot
The movie begins with a peek into what might be happening. A pair of 20-somethings are rock climbing. They are teasing each other as they near the top. When the guy reaches the top, he takes a look around. The girl, falls, but is caught by her climbing wire. When she calls for the guy to help, he has disappeared. It isn’t long before he is thrown over the cliff, and the girl is being pulled up. Cutting the rope, she falls, landing next to the guy’s body. Things don’t look good for her, as the sound of creepy laughter can be heard, and we’ll leave it at that, before the credits roll.

There are a few hints in the credits about inbreeding and mutations. Next thing you know, Chris Flynn is driving on the highway in West Virginia. Actually, he’s pretty much at a stand still. He is a medical student on his way to a job interview and he cannot be late, so that chemical spill holding up traffic means he’s going to have to take the back roads. He stops at a gas station (barely that) to get directions, but the old guy running the station doesn’t help. On an old map he sees a road he decides to take.

On the dirt road, Chris is startled when his car crashes into a Range Rover that has had its tires popped and is sitting in the middle of the road. The car has a group of hikers trying to go hiking in the woods to make Jessie (Eliza’s character) feel better after a breakup. Her friends include the engaged Carly and Scott and couple Francine and Evan. Chris, Jessie, Carly and Scott decide to walk down the road to get help while Evan and Francine stay at the car for some nookie. Well, they get more than nookie thanks to the cannibal hillbillies who call the woods home.

What is supposed to be a fun and relaxing trip for Jessie turns out to be a fight for survival. There are at least three crazy cannibals on the loose, one with a wicked bow and arrow, and they are on the hunt for supper. In the end, Jessie may discover she doesn’t really like the woods or outdoors quite as much as she thought.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:3]
Replayability: [rating:3.5]
Acting: [rating:3]
Directing: [rating:3]

Audio/Visual:
Wrong Turn should be able to offer a nice transfer and in some ways it does, but it’s not as nice as a newer movie should offer. Parts of the movie offer detail and effective colors, but many areas of the movie end up feeling far too basic, soft, and occasionally blurry. Many of the wilderness shots feel fuzzy, especially the darker ones and many of the other shots are soft. With all the softness you shouldn’t expect to catch many detail shots, because they just are not there. It’s disappointing for Blu-ray. It might be passable for DVD, but I can’t say whether this was just ported over or not because I’ve never seen the DVD to compare the two. In any case, as far as Blu-ray goes, this is disappointing.

Where the visuals disappoint, the audio manages to pull through nicely. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is not like listening to Transformers, but it gets the job done for its intended purpose. The surround sound is used mainly for the horror moments and for more subtle woodsy moments. You will hear lots of leaves rustling and plenty of outdoor sounds, which makes plenty of sense since the movie is set in the mountains. The murder sequences also come through better than you would expect. I admit, I didn’t have too high of hopes for the audio after seeing the video. Still, the dialogue passes with flying colors and the music, though drab, is presented as well as one could hope. Along with the English audio there are tracks in Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 and subtitles in English and Spanish.

Visual: [rating:2]
Audio: [rating:3.5]

Bonus Features:
There are a number of special features here. I wouldn’t say any of them were absolutely necessary, but they will be appreciated by fans of the film. In all fairness, this is probably the best of the franchise and I am sure it will remain as such no matter how many of these movies are made. Things begin with a Commentary that includes Rob Schmidt, Eliza Dushku, and Desmond Harrington. This commentary is one that is worth listening to. Naturally fans of the film are going to enjoy it more than anyone. In any case, it is a commentary that is filled with laughs and offers a good time. There is some information here, but you can expect a more conversational style as opposed to something that is strictly informative and down to business.

There are three deleted scenes that last for around seven minutes total. One of the scenes is nothing more than a makeout scene. This is followed up by a kill sequence that was an extension of one of the shots in the film. None of these are really necessary in the scheme of things.

Four featurettes are available including “Fresh Meat: The Wounds of Wrong Turn,” “Making of Wrong Turn,” “Eliza Dushku: Babe in the Woods,” and “Stan Winston Featurette.” In “Fresh Meat” the director talks about his goals for the film and the producer talks about the inbreds and some of the kills in the film. This is funnier than anything, especially when the director explains how he wanted people to meet the characters and then watch them die, which is pretty much how things went. The Making Of is more of a fluff piece. You aren’t going to learn one thing from this featurette that you don’t already know from the movie.

“Eliza Dushku: Babe in the Woods” is the most amusing featurette just because of the subject matter. The director and Dushku talk about the depth of Dushku’s character and what an amazing story arc she goes through. Personally, I don’t recall either of these things, but it could have been just me. Finally, in Stan Winston you get to learn more about the effects man and how he enjoys his work.

The only other feature available here is the trailer.

Bonus Features: [rating:3]

Bottom Line:
Of all the Wrong Turn movies, this one is the best. Eliza provides nice eye candy. The cannibals are creepy without being too annoying. The story is suspenseful. Overall, for a horror film this isn’t bad. If you are looking for a good date movie, or just want a little mindless hillbilly cannibalism in your life, pick this movie up. While I’m not as impressed with the Blu-ray quality as I should be, the film in Blu-ray isn’t very expensive, but the Blu-ray quality isn’t a necessity. Whichever version of this movie you choose to buy should suffice.

[rating:overall]

[tags]Fox Home Entertainment, Wrong Turn, Horror Franchise, Bad Film, Inbred, Eliza Dushku, Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray Review, Movie Review, Horror[/tags]


Blu Ray Review: Children of the Corn [Blu-Ray]

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Children of the Corn Blu-Ray Box ArtMovie Info:
Writers: Stephen King, George Goldsmith
Director: Fritz Kiersch
Cast: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger, AnneMarie McEvoy, Julie Maddalena, Jonas Marlowe, John Philbin
Rating: R
Studio: Anchor Bay/Starz

Release Info:
DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $12.99

Late 70s and 80s horror films are some of the best horror films that have ever been made. Perhaps I can say that because I am partial, having been born in the late 70s and raised in the 80s. Still, when I am looking for something to scare me or to give me a good laugh, I always go back to my favorite 80s scare flicks. These are movies I’ve seen hundreds of times. Movies like Child’s Play, A Nightmare on Elm St, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Bad Dreams, and of course Children of the Corn. These are movies that, like most horror, you have to suspend your belief in reality to enjoy. However, if you are willing to do so, in most cases, it is worth the trouble.

I’ve loved Children of the Corn since my first viewing as a child. These days I have found that it’s more of a cult favorite in terms of its fans. People either love this movie or they hate it. Most critics hate it. I love it. In fact, I love everything about it, right down to the horribly cheesy effects at the end (you know what I mean if you’ve seen this). Written by Stephen King when he was the master of all things psychotic, CotC is a story unlike most others. There is something interesting about a bunch of religion obsessed kids that worship the god of corn.

Along with the inventive storyline the acting pushes the story along nicely. The main actors (though there are technically quite a few) include John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Linda Hamilton, and Peter Horton. While Hamilton and Horton work well as the somewhat concerned adults, the real stars here are the kids. Franklin plays the part of the more than creepy cult leader. His raspy voice and his controlling ways all help to build the main character. However, it is never Franklin’s character that becomes truly frightening (even though that hat he wears is pretty scary). Instead, it is Gains’ character that stands out as the creepy, overindulgent murderer that you hope never comes to your town. Despite it being one of his first roles, Courtney Gains showed us that he has the making of a cult leader’s henchman. Even now, years after this movie was made and the cast had all moved on, “Outlander” is still used in reference to the lanky red-headed boy sent to do the bidding of his leader.

Unlike some horror movies, Corn is scarier on a psychological level. Kids with machetes that are willing to kill for “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” is a terrifying concept, especially if you’re the poor interloper that gets stuck traveling the same corn road to try and actually help someone. Needless to say, I have learned lessons from this movie. If I’m ever driving through overly religious corn towns and I run over someone that was already dead, I am just leaving them in the road. No point in sacrificing myself too, right?

The Children of the Corn Plot
Gatlin, Nebraska was once a small farming town like numerous in the midwest. Everyone knew one another. The families all went to church on Sundays. They all ate at the same local hangout. Even the kids all played together. Unfortunately, they might have played together too much. One sunny Sunday, Job (Robby Kiger) and his dad head to church and then stop at the local diner for their lunch, like they always do. This Sunday is a little bit different because Job’s mom and his sister Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy) have stayed home as Sarah is sick with a fever. Also absent from church are all the other children in town. They all attend a meeting with Isaac (Franklin), a boy preacher that serves He Who Walks Behind the Rows. After convincing the children that he has all the answers, they stage a mass murder by poisoning the coffee at the diner and going from house to house in order to finish anyone off over the age of 19 years old.

Most of the children believe (thanks to being brainwashed) that they are doing the right thing. They agree to give up games, music, and fun for the life that Isaac says they must lead. Not all kids agree that this is the right thing to do though. Job and Sarah hide from the other kids and make sure to have as much fun as possible. Isaac’s enforcer, Malachai (Courtney Gains) wants to punish them for their misdeeds, but Isaac will not let him because Sarah has the “gift of sight.” Sarah is able to draw pictures (something that is forbidden) that tell the future. In fact, her drawing of Burt (Horton) and Vicki (Hamilton) let the children know that outlanders are on their way through Gatlin and they will need to be stopped.

Burt and Vicki have no idea where they are going when they enter Gatlin or what they are up against. Burt just graduated college and he’s heading across country, driving to Washington to the hospital where he will do his residency. While driving past the corn fields, the couple hits a boy that is standing in the middle of the road. After some investigating, Burt learns that the child was dead prior to being in the road and that they did not actually kill him. Still, their adult sensibilities get the best of them and they decide they need to find an adult and see if they can identify the body and the boy’s parents. Little do they know finding an adult in Gatlin is not going to be easy. The kids don’t mind them trying though, after all, He Who Walks Behind the Rows needs a new sacrifice.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:4.5]
Replayability: [rating:5]
Acting: [rating:4.5]
Directing: [rating:4]

Audio/Visual:
Anyone that has seen Children of the Corn knows that the quality has never been anything to write home about. In fact, in most cases it has always been pretty bad. It’s passable (or ignorable) because of how entertaining the movie has always been. Had it been a lesser movie people would not have been able to ignore the cheesy special effects and the lower visual quality of the film. Needless to say, I had little hope when this was released on Blu-ray. I knew that Anchor Bay would either give it a stellar release or they would just go with the remastered DVD quality in an otherwise unchanged Blu-ray setting. The results are more of the former and less of the latter.

The aspect ratio of 1.85:1 mixed with 1080p offers a transfer that has occasional flaws, but that is far better than I ever expected that it would be. The colors are bright and vibrant and most of the movie is incredibly detailed. I was actually quite shocked to see it as cleaned up as it was. It’s not a 5 star quality compared to today’s blockbusters, but for a low budget 80s movie you really won’t find anything much nicer than this. The black levels weren’t always as impressive as they needed to be, but that’s forgivable. Likewise, there were a few moments that offered some blur. Still, fans will love this transfer as it is by far the best option out there for Children of the Corn fans.

There is something oddly comforting about hearing…”Outlander….We’ve got your woman, Outlander!” screamed in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The sound of Malachai’s voice fills the speakers with venom and hatred and it sounds pretty awesome. Again, this is a low budget 80′s flick. That being said, you aren’t going to find a better set with a nicer audio. The sound effects are more dynamic than ever and the dialogue remains consistent throughout the film. English is the only spoken language available on the film, but subtitles are available in both English and Spanish.

Visual: [rating:4]
Audio: [rating:4]

Bonus Features:
There are a number of special features available on this Blu-ray. There are three brand new, Blu-ray specific featurettes, some ported material from the last Special Edition DVD, some galleries, and even BD Live functionality. All in all, fans should not be disappointed by the mix that is being offered here for them. If anything, I was pleasantly surprised.

The included commentary has Fritz Kiersch, Courtney Gains, and John Franklin as the main participants. The producer is also included. Fans should enjoy this thanks to the great stories and on-set anecdotes that have been added. While it is somewhat slow at times, there are enough good moments to warrant a watch, especially if you’re a fan of the movie.

Fast Film Facts: Think Pop-Up Video, but with trivia and this is what you have. You can play this with the commentary or the film, though I recommend doing it with the commentary and killing two birds with one stone. It can take away from the film if you have the facts popping up so you’re better off having them playing when you’re listening to the commentary. There are plenty of little known facts here, so it’s definitely fun to check these out.

Harvesting Horror: This documentary lasts for close to 40 minutes and is filled with lots of great Children of the Corn memories and information. If you want to take a nice, longer look at the film and it’s impact this is a good way to do that.

Welcome to Gatlin: Sights and Sounds of Children of the Corn: This is one of the best bonus features available in this set, as far as the featurettes go. You spend a lot of time listening to the production designer, and the composer weighs in towards the end, as well. In the case of the production designer, you learn about what it was like creating the sets and building the world while paying attention to the religious nature of the film.

It Was the Eighties!: This is more of an interview with Linda Hamilton. She talks about what it was like filming this movie and what her experiences on the film were like. She also delves into some stories from other films she has worked on and talks about acting as a whole. Fans of the movie will be able to take or leave this but Hamilton fans will definitely want to see this.

Stephen King on a Shoestring: In this producer led featurette, you learn what it was like to film a horror movie on a lower budget. This can have moments of boring, but you learn a good deal, so it equals out in the end.

Things wrap up with the theatrical trailer for the film (it’s the original trailer sans remastering), Poster, Still, Original Storyboard Art, and Original Title Sequence Art Galleries, and BD-Live offerings which were not available at the time of the release of this review.

Bonus Features: [rating:4.5]

Bottom Line:
Words cannot express how important it is that fans of Children of the Corn run out and buy this Blu-ray. I am way more impressed than I ever expected that I would be. The quality is stunning, even with the overly cheesy special features, especially when I expected much worse would be available. The same can be said for the audio, which sounds excellent, and the movie itself, well you just can’t be the original Children of the Corn when it comes to horror series’. Children of the Corn is a classic in a sea of dismal horror films, which goes to show that the 80s offered some pretty good horror options over the years. If you’re a fan you need to upgrade to Blu-ray. If you’re one of the three people that have never seen this, there is not a better day to check it out than today. This comes highly recommended.

[rating:overall]

[tags]Children of the Corn, Anchor Bay, Blu-Ray Release, Review, Blu-Ray Review, Malachai, Outlander, Isaac, Stephen King, Movie[/tags]


BD Review: The Haunting in Connecticut

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-Ray Box ArtMovie Info:
Writers: Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe
Director: Peter Cornwell
Cast: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew, Martin Donovan, Sophi Knight, Ty Wood, Erik J. Berg, John Bluethner, D.W. Brown, John B. Lowe, Adriana O’Neil
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Lionsgate

Release Info:
Theatrical Release: March 27, 2009
DVD Release Date: July 14, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $23.99

“Based on a true story” movies can be a funny thing. I often see that tagline on horror movies though when you see the flesh eating cannibal come out of the woodwork it’s easy to see that it’s based about as far as one of the character’s names and the city that they live in. However, every now and then a movie will come around that is filled with falsities, but has a little bit of truth to it, too. The Haunting in Connecticut is one of those movies.

This is supposed to be based on a true story. The people that lived it swear by their story, though others do not believe the story to the lengths that it has been told. The movie version has the basic details correct. The house is in Connecticut, the boy begins seeing and feeling the presence of the ghosts/demons first, and the details in that respect are basically how things went.

In real life, the story goes a little bit differently. According to the parents, the house, which was once a funeral home, did contain the presence of demons. Not only that, but the demons apparently raped them. Obviously moments like this are not in the film. The family claims that after the mother learned that the home had been a funeral parlor her son began exhibiting weird behavior. How much of the family’s story is true may never be known. Some people believe their story and others claim that they cannot keep their stories straight and deem it as being unreal. Whether or not you believe it is strictly up to you.

The movie version of The Haunting in Connecticut begins with that infamous “Based on a True Story.” In the end, that really says all that needs to be said. Some of this is “true” and other parts are not. How much you want to believe any of this will probably be relative to how much you enjoy the movie. If you’re hoping to see a true story and are looking for what could have happened and what didn’t happen, then you might not have a good time. However, if you’re looking to watch something for entertainment sake that has that thriller appeal to it, Haunting shouldn’t be so bad for you.

The Haunting in Connecticut Screenshot 1

The cast is competent enough. Virginia Madsen (Long Gone, Wonder Woman) has the lead, of sorts, playing the mother, Sara. Sara is married to Peter (Martin Donovan – Weeds), a man with a drinking problem. They have three kids, Matt (Kyle Gallner – Big Love), being the most prominent, who has cancer.

Overall this isn’t a bad film. You have to look at it for what it is worth though. For starters, this is a PG-13 film. It’s not as scary as some of the better movies, but for that creepy haunting tale it succeeds on a moderate level. The biggest problem with this is that it’s not entirely scary. Sure, there are creepy moments, but on some levels it becomes predictable and on others, it is merely entertaining.

The acting definitely saves this one. It’s hard to say what it might have been like with better writing because the writer was going off of a story that was in part, true, and adding PG-13 elements to piece together a film. Naturally, any sort of sodomizing that the parents claimed happened is not going to be seen in a PG-13 flick.

The Haunting in Connecticut Plot
It’s 1987 and Matt Campbell (Gallner) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Though the prognosis is bleak, Matt is just a teenager and his parents aren’t ready to give up on him just yet. He is accepted in a cancer trial that may be able to help him, so his mother (Madsen) makes the long, few hours trek with him when he needs to have his treatments at a hospital in Connecticut. Of course, the drive after the treatment is excruciating on Matt, so much so that he can barely handle it. This prompts his mom and dad (Donovan) to consider renting a house in Connecticut so that he can be closer to the hospital.

Without too much discussion, during a treatment trip, Matt has an incredibly hard time and his mom decides that it’s the right thing to do to rent a home. She finds one that is perfect, but it has a past. She ends up taking the home because Matt is having such a hard time, she can’t bring herself to make him take the drive back. Needless to say, the two stay in the house alone the first night and the family has plans of making the drive shortly thereafter.

Matt chooses to sleep in the basement bedroom. There is a bathroom down there and it’s private. Of course, there is also a spare room that no one can seem to get into initially. Soon after the family moves in, Matt begins to change. He has hallucinations and he has moments where his personality changes. After a series of unfortunate accidents while the kids are playing in the house, Matt finds a box of photos under the floorboards in the attic. The box is filled with séance pictures along with a boy named Jonah; one of the boys that he had seen in the house on numerous occasions. He also finds a box of eyelids, though he isn’t quite sure what they are, as they are quite old.

The Haunting in Connecticut Screenshot 2

From there, Matt does some research and learns the truth behind the house. It was in fact a funeral home, owned by Doctor Aickman in the 1920s. Aickman often did séances, for a price, to settle the deeds of the dead. To accomplish this he made use of a boy named Jonah that seemed to have a gift with the spirits. One day, something expelled from Jonah’s mouth during a séance that exploded and burnt everyone in the house alive. The house is filled with the spirits of the dead that have been unable to rest. It is up to Matt to save himself and his family from the house or suffer the consequences, whatever they might be.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:3]
Replayability: [rating:4]
Acting: [rating:4]
Directing: [rating:3]

Audio/Visual:
The Haunting in Connecticut comes to Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 transfer with 1080p. The results are certainly worthwhile. Due to the nature of the film you get a chance to see two specific worlds. There are the shots and scenes in the hospital and prior to the move to Connecticut where the colors are bright and there are a variety of open shots in different angles. Slowly, the film becomes darker once the family is in the Connecticut house. The shots become grimmer and the colors fade to a darker palette.

There are moments of grain and noise beyond what is meant to be there (many scenes use this to show age/timeline differences and flashbacks). The colors are decent, the blacks work well, and there really are not too many problems to mention. The detail is good, but it’s also not as impressive as I have seen in other films. Still, for what it’s worth there isn’t a great deal to complain about.

Haunting makes use of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless track that is full bodied and horror friendly. It would have sounded amazing had there been some more frights to go with this kind of sound backing. You manage to hear even the slightest whisper, which is incredibly important in a movie such as this. Everything is right on target from the screams in various parts of the house to the slight crick of the floorboards as the house settles.

Volume toggling was not a real issue and dialogue always remains clear and crisp. Along with the dialogue and special effects, the soundtrack did a good job at pushing the story in the right direction. Haunting also offers a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track and subtitles in English and Spanish.

Visual: [rating:4]
Audio: [rating:4.5]

Bonus Features:
If you’re interested in this film and the story behind it, you should enjoy these special features quite a bit. There is a nice blend of movie features and a documentary piece that is meant to tell more about the real story. Whether you believe it or not is up to you, but the information is offered for anyone that wants to listen.

The features begin with a set of commentaries to get things rolling. The first is more technical with the director (Peter Cornwell), the producer (Andy Trapani), the writer (Adam Simon), and the editor (Tom Elkins). You won’t hear anything out of the ordinary in this commentary. It’s the basic information about a variety of topics from casting to the basic idea of the movie. The second commentary is more fun and free flowing with Cornwell, Virginia Madsen, and Kyle Gallner. This track is more like a conversation with some laughs, a few serious moments, and various bits of information and personal stories. The actors make sure to do their best to blend personal stories with movie facts. I found the second track to be the one worth listening to, though both offer their own specific benefits.

“Two Dead Boys: The Making of The Haunting in Connecticut”: Coming in at around 15 minutes, this is your standard featurette. The cast and crew are interviewed to talk about the film and what the cast brings to the table to make it successful. Other topics discussed include the theme of the film and more technical aspects.

“The Fear is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting”: This documentary lasts for close to an hour and it takes the time to examine the family behind the movie. The Snedeker family, along with their friends and people that know them, are looked at through interview clips. If you refuse to believe anything that the Snedeker’s say you might find this amusing. However, if you want to find out about the family, this is a good way to do that in a general sense.

“Anatomy of a Haunting”: This 12 minute featurette is pretty straight forward as it gives you a glimpse into the world that rests between the living world and the dead one.

“Memento Mori: The History of Post-Mortem Photography”: The final featurette tops out at about 11 minutes. This deals with the practice of photographing the dead in order to remember them.

The Haunting in Connecticut Screenshot 3

Also included are some deleted scenes with optional commentary, and trailers for Haunting, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Cabin Fever, and The Eye. A second disc is available that includes the digital copy of the film, as well.

Bonus Features: [rating:4]

Bottom Line:
It’s becoming increasingly hard for me to find a movie that is labeled in the horror genre that truly scares the wits out of me. Haunting is not one of those movies. I didn’t expect anything with a PG-13 rating would. Still, the acting makes this more than watchable. I recommend the Blu-ray over the DVD merely because I am sure that it has a better quality to offer. If you’re picky about your ghost stories you might want to rent this one first. However, if you’re willing to take it for what it’s worth you should find it entertaining. This would be a good haunting flick for a girl’s slumber party.

[rating:overall]

[tags] Blu-ray Review, The Haunting in Connecticut, Based on a True Story, Virginia Madsen, Ghosts, Funeral Home, Cancer, Lionsgate, Thriller, Horror Movie[/tags]

BD Review: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer [Blu-ray]

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I  Still Know What You Did Last Summer Blu-Ray Box ArtMovie Info:
Writer: Lois Duncan, Trey Callaway
Director: Danny Cannon
Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., Brandy Norwood, Mekhi Phifer, Muse Watson, Bill Cobbs, Matthew Settle, Jeffrey Combs, Jennifer Esposito, Jack Black
Rating: R
Studio: Sony

Release Info:
Theatrical Release: November 13, 1998
DVD Release Date: July 14, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $14.99

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is not a screamfest, but it is goofy enough with decent acting to make a perfect, fun film during a date night.”

Once upon a time there was a man who wrote Scream. It became a huge success. Then, he sold an earlier script of his called I Know What you Did Last Summer. He’s not the guy who wrote this movie, but without him, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer would not exist. Whether you want to thank him or not for this remains to be seen.

Around this time, Jennifer Love Hewitt was all the rage. The first film, I Know What You Did Last Summer featured Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. (Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar), Ryan Phillipe, Bridgette Wilson, Anne Heche, and Johnny Galecki. I recognize every single name, and these characters made the movie a viable horror flick. Well, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer features some notable names besides Prinze Jr. and Love Hewitt, who return, but I can’t say this movie is credible as a horror film.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer features Brandy, Mekhi Phifer, Matthew Settle (Rufus from Gossip Girl), and guest starring appearances by Jack Black (with dreads – he rocks!), Jennifer Esposito (Samantha Who’s best friend), and Bill Cobbs. This means the acting is pretty good. This isn’t one of those horror flicks that make you giggle like a school boy (or girl) from the sheer cheesiness of the acting. Instead, you’ll giggle at the sheer cheesiness of the plot.

What is it with the evildoers in horror movies not dying? Ben Willis is a modern day Michael Myers when it comes to the bad guy not dying. He was thrown overboard how many times? He had his hand cut off (the one with the hook), and he was shot multiple times. This dude doesn’t die. I get it with Freddy and Jason. They’re kind of like other worldy beings, but Ben Willis (much like Michael Myers) is just a human guy who has this evil hatred consuming him. I guess that kind of thing guarantees immortality in horror.

In the end, what this movie offers is fun. You can’t take I Still Know What You Did Last Summer seriously because it isn’t the type of film that should be taken seriously. It’s a fun romp with a horror twist, crazy storytelling and while this isn’t the best horror movie (it’s not even in the middle of the road as far as horror goes), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is engaging enough to make any date night, friendship based movie night or all around casual viewing worth the watch.

The I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Plot
Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is attempting to deal with the aftermath of the first movie. She’s attending school away from her hometown, in Boston, content to get away from the memories of her dead friends. She’s still dating Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.), but their relationship is strained because he’s working on the docks in their hometown and she’s in Boston.

It’s Spring Break, almost a year after the events of the first movie have occurred, and Julie doesn’t want to return to her hometown to spend it with Ray. Ray mistakes this as rejection, but really she keeps having nightmares about Ben Willis (Muse Watson), the man who almost killed her a year ago. Julie’s best friend, Karla (Brandy Norwood) thinks she should forget about Ray. He’s not in Boston and their cute friend, Will (Matthew Settle) obviously likes her. Julie thinks Will is nice, but Ray is her boyfriend and they’ve been through a lot together, so she isn’t keen to her friend prodding her towards Will.

When Karla wins a trip to Jamaica, after “correctly” answering the capital of Brazil (she said Rio…hmmm), she ends up taking Julie, her boyfriend, Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer), and the guy of Julie’s choice. Julie chooses to take Ray, but when Ray doesn’t show up, Karla invites Will, which is, at first, upsetting to Julie. Little does Julie know Ray has been planning to propose to her, and on his way to surprise her (and go on the trip with her) he is attacked. While Ray’s friend is murdered, Ray manages to escape, though he ends up in the hospital, muttering something about a man with a hook.

When the foursome arrives in the Caribbean, they soon learn that it is storm season on the secluded island. The resort is dead, for the most part, and their hotel is off the mainland, so the area is pretty much empty of residents. The only people on the island are Mr. Brooks (Jeffrey Combs), the hotel manager, local pothead, Titus Telesco (Jack Black), the hotel bartender, Nancy (Jennifer Esposito), and Estes (Bill Cobbs), the hotel porter/bell hop.

Julie is freaked out, especially when people start dying. At first, no one believes her, but when it becomes clear Ben Willis is alive, the group tries to find a way to get off the island, during a hurricane, or face a most certain death. Add in the fact that Ray has escaped from the hospital, on his way to Miami and then Jamaica and you have a somewhat intriguing story, that is bound to make you laugh.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:2]
Replayability: [rating:3]
Acting: [rating:4]
Directing: [rating:2.5]

Audio/Visual:
While the 2.40:1, 1080p, HD picture has improved the quality from the DVD release of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer this transfer isn’t nearly as good as I Know What You Did Last Summer when it came out in Blu-Ray. I found the picture to be a bit soft, personally. While it added to the more horrific scenes, the sharpness could have been better during other moments. There wasn’t any problem with compression errors or edge enhancements, and grain was kept to a minimum. Overall, this transfer is decent, but not spectacular.

The sound transfer for I Still Know is actually pretty good. The main track is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Dialogue comes through crisply. The sound effects and music balance one another out. Everything sounds clear and none of the sounds override one another. I didn’t have to worry about volume toggling while watching this movie, and the surround capabilities were pretty awesome. There are two additional tracks included in French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

Visual: [rating:3.5]
Audio: [rating:4.5]

Bonus Features:
There aren’t many bonuses included with this Blu-Ray. What is here, isn’t all that impressive. Here is a list of the bonuses and a brief description of each of the offerings.

“Making Of” Featurette: This featurette is pretty standard. The cast and crew talk about making the movie and the series in general. Nothing too interesting or worth sinking your teeth into in this making of.

“How Do I Deal” by Jennifer Love Hewitt Music Video: I hate when companies include music videos as bonus features. Unless you’re a little kid and this is a Hannah Montana or Lizzie McGuire video, I don’t think anyone finds these music videos enjoyable.

Theatrical Trailer: This is self-explanatory.

BD-Live is Enabled, though I don’t know what is offered since the Blu-Ray hasn’t been released yet.

Finally, this isn’t really a bonus, but I Sill Know What You Did Last Summer offers an all-region Blu-ray Disc for A, B, & C.

Bonus Features: [rating:1.5]

Bottom Line:
You cannot have high expectations when watching I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. This isn’t supposed to be an Academy Award winning film. Hell, it’s not even supposed to be a blockbuster. It’s just some crazy horror movie, that will make you laugh. While I cannot guarantee a purchase on Blu-Ray is right for this title (save money, go DVD), whatever version you get, you’re bound to enjoy this film for what it is.

[rating:overall]

[tags]I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Blu-Ray, Movie, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Horror, Freddie Prinze Jr., Brandy, Ben Willis, Sequel, Blu-Ray Review, Movie Review[/tags]