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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Zombie > Supernatural > Monster > Filmmaking > Torture Porn > Exploitation > Thriller > City Of The Living Dead (1980/aka The Gates Of Hell/Fulci/Blue Underground Blu-ray) + Lake Placid 3 – Unrated (2010/Sony DVD) + S&Man (aka Sandman/2005/MagNet/Magnolia Blu-ray) + Winter’s Bone (2010/L

City Of The Living Dead (1980/aka The Gates Of Hell/Blue Underground Blu-ray) + Lake Placid 3 – Unrated (2010/Sony DVD) + S&Man (aka Sandman/2005/MagNet/Magnolia Blu-ray) + Winter’s Bone (2010/Lionsgate Blu-ray)


Picture: B-/C+/C/B-     Sound: C+ (Bone: B-)     Extras: C+/D/C-/C     Films: C+/D/C-/C



The cascade of horror thrillers continue, including a reissue of an old favorite on Blu-ray for the first time, an unnecessary sequel of an unnecessary sequel and two other odd titles thrown in for good measure.


First we look at Lucio Fulci’s City Of The Living Dead, his 1980 opus (aka The Gates Of Hell) is not just another zombie film (despite the title) but a work loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s work as a priest in the Dunwich (in New England, so this is connected to the historical Salem Witch Hunts) commits suicide by hanging and this brings about the rise of the dead.  Those who live in the town discover they have until All Saints Day (the day after Halloween) to close the opening or the killer dead will roam the world and be unstoppable.  It is a good idea that features his distinct style of death, mutilation, blood-letting and there is some suspense.


However, the film is uneven, was never the most effective of its kind and is not as fully realized as I wish it were.  It still has a good cast including Christopher George (Rat Patrol, The Immortal) Catriona MacColl and Giovanni Lombardo Radice with the cast pretty good in general.  The Fulci Touch was still there, but it was starting to slip a little and it is not as all consuming in its supernatural aspirations as it could have been, but there is enough interesting here to see it at least once.


Extras include a major Making Of piece, three interview pieces (Acting Among The Living Dead with actress MacColl in HD, Entering The Gates Of Hell with actor Radice, Memories Of The Maestro with the cast and crew), Marketing Of The Living Dead Poster & Still Gallery in HD, Theatrical Trailers in HD and Radio Spots.



Lake Placid 3 (2010) brings back the giant crocodiles to kill more unsuspecting goofs in another installment of the tired beyond belief franchise.  It is so bad, you’ll root for nature!  Boring, dumb and hard to believe anyone bothered to make it, this is not even good enough to be filler and should be skipped.



S&Man (looks like S&M Man but is pronounced Sandman) is an old 2005 release where a filmmaker “studying” the link between voyeurism and filmmaking (reading Laura Mulvey was never enough, apparently) leads him to a group of idiots essentially making snuff films.  In the torture porn era, this is filming people being tortured to death for real for “fun” and the “pleasure” of sick viewers.  Director J.T. Petty plays himself uncovering this in yet another “can we make Blair Witch money with this junk?” project that is idiotic and was rightly forgotten.  The use of the clip of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960) in the beginning should tell you how desperate this mess is.  Blu-ray should be its last hurrah.  Extras include two unnecessary feature length audio commentary tracks, trailers, additional films within the film (save the Powell classic) and Deleted & Extended scenes.



That leaves Winter’s Bone, an odd and somewhat predictable bit about a young 17-year-old-girl (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to find her drug-dealing father who has put the family home up for his bond, then disappears, so she want to find him to save the house, but (surprise?) something more sinister is going on and it goes downhill from there.  Unfortunately, Debra Granik’s 2010 thriller falls short of working (though the Ozark Mountains are a good location) and this goes nowhere with what essentially is an idiot plot in reverse.  More concentration and challenge would have made for a better screenplay, but we don’t get that here.  Needless to say the female filmmaker with a female lead does not add up to the synergy this badly needed, which means they both should have read more Laura Mulvey.  Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Granik and her Director of Photography Michael McDonough, Deleted Scenes, Making Of featurette and Alternate Opening.



The 1080p digital High Definition image on all three Blu-rays are disappointing, especially on the lame (at 2.35 X 1) S&Man, which looks almost as cheap as the film it wants to imitate, Blair Witch Project.  Bone is better at 1.78 X 1, but is still an HD shoot with motion blur, detail and depth issues, leaving the oldest film (Fulci’s 1980 work at 1.85 X 1 shot in 35mm by his Director of Photography Sergio Salvati from the 1979 Zombie) looking the best of the four discs despite the age of the print.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 on Placid DVD is an HD shoot, but as bad and motion blur plagued as it is, still looks better than the S&Man Blu-ray.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes on the three Blu-rays are underwhelming, with only Bone (at 5.1) the only one with somewhat of a decent soundfield.  S&Man (also 5.1) really shows how cheap it is in the lossless format and Living (at 7.1) can only do so much with its old monophonic soundtrack (also presented here in a lesser Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix).  Placid has regular Dolby Digital 5.1 and is nothing special in the soundfield or recording department either, sounding rushed and as if corners were cut.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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