City Of The
(1980/aka The Gates Of Hell/Blue
Underground Blu-ray) + Lake Placid 3 –
Unrated (2010/Sony DVD) + S&Man
Blu-ray) + Winter’s Bone
B-/C+/C/B- Sound: C+ (Bone: B-) Extras: C+/D/C-/C Films: C+/D/C-/C
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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