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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Drama > Comedy > Medical > Reality TV > Supernatural > Thriller > Murder > Torture > Zombie > Beware (2011/Maya DVD)/Bones – Season Six (Fox Blu-ray)/Ghost Hunters – Season Six, Part Two (Image Blu-ray)/In A Glass Cage (1987/Cult Epics Blu-ray)/Sugar Hill (1974/MGM Limited Edition Collection D

Beware (2011/Maya DVD)/Bones – Season Six (Fox Blu-ray)/Ghost Hunters – Season Six, Part Two (Image Blu-ray)/In A Glass Cage (1987/Cult Epics Blu-ray)/Sugar Hill (1974/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD)


Picture: C-/B-/C+/B-/C+     Sound: C/B-/B-/B-/C+     Extras: C-/B-/D/C/C-     Main Programs: C-/B-/D/C/B-



PLEASE NOTE: Sugar Hill is an online-only exclusive from MGM and can be purchased from Amazon.com, which you can reach through the sidebar of this side.



Here is a mix of Horror releases including a gem that is only available for a limited time.


Jason Daly’s Beware (2011) ought to be renamed “Consumer Beware” as this inept as any such release I have seen lately, barely joining the worst of them, but still very, very close.  In this one, a tortured boy comes back from the dead to kill a bunch of nit wits dumb enough to hang in the town where the crime occurred.  As they get killed one at a time (so the film will last longer and they do not have to pay as many actors) with zero suspense, they never get the idea it is time to leave.  Oh boy.  It also has a torture porn side, but you are better off just skipping it.  A trailer is the only extra.


The hit series Bones continues its run and this Season Six Fox set is not bad, though the show is starting to get worn down a bit, so the question is how long before they call it quits.  Hopefully while they are ahead.  I always recommend you being with the first season and you can find several of the releases reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Extras this time include a Gag Reel, Audio Commentary on Select Episodes, The Killing Pilot Episode, 2 extended episodes and 2 featurettes: Breaking Down: The Blackout In The Blizzard and The Visual Effects of Bones. 


The reality TV mess Ghost Hunters – Season Six, Part Two does not quit at all… being lame.  The last set just arrived not that long ago, so the owners must want to get these out while they are still hot… or is it cold?  The worst entry on this list, there are no extras.


Our oddest entry is Agusti Villaronga’s In A Glass Cage (1987) which may remind some of Apt Pupil (the book and film, reviewed elsewhere on this site) involving an unhealthy relationship between a Nazi War Criminal and sexualized children.  We open with said Nazi practicing his joy and craft long after WWII in the town he is hiding in.  He tries to jump to his death, but lands up paralyzed from the neck down and living in a giant glass respirator.  Also, someone took his Nazi notes of child torture.  He lives with his wife and their daughter in a big house and hires a new male nurse to help out, but something is wrong and the film gets more twisted and twisted.


I was able to defend Apt Pupil against claims that it trivialized the Holocaust, but I cannot say the same about this all-over-the-place film, which uses that real life horror as a mere plot point.  Though the acting is good here, the film is shot atmospherically and it has a trick ending that tries to actually say something, the film just never works and it lands up waddling in the very pedophilia and death worship that is supposed to be shocking.  This is more obvious when compared to both Apt Pupil and Pasolini’s Salo (also reviewed elsewhere on this site), but maybe if they just skipped The Holocaust, this could have focused and been a better film.  If you can handle the gore and implication, you might want to see this once for yourself, but I was not impressed.


Extras include 2010 Q&A and featurettes with the director, plus three of his short films: Anta Mujer (1976), Laberint (1980) and Al Mayurca (1980) which make for an interesting comparison to this film and show he was trying to make it work.


That brings us the best last, Paul Maslansky’s Sugar Hill (1974) is not the Wesley Snipes film, but a combination Blaxploitation/Horror/Zombie/Voodoo film that works much better than you might expect, has aged well and is underrated.  I am surprised MGM is only going to allow this to be a Limited Edition DVD, but serious Horror fans alone should consider this a must-see, must-own film.


In it, the title character (Marki Bey, later of Starsky & Hutch looking like a close relative of Vivica A. Fox) is horrified that her boyfriend has been brutally killed by Italian Gangsters.  So how will she get revenge?  Black gangsters?  Irish gangsters?  Turn informant for the U.S. Government?  No.  She turns to Mama Maitreese (Zara Cully, best known as George’s mother on the TV classic The Jeffersons) whose mastery of voodoo and the occult can give her the revenge she really wants.  The result?  Mama conjures up the leader of the land of the dead, Baron Samedi (pronounced Sam-Dee, though it was Sam-E-Dee in the James Bond film Live & Let Die the previous year) who can offer her zombies to kill those who wronged her and her lover.  Don Pedro Colley (THX-1138, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes) gives a fine performance in the role (different, but equally effective to what Geoffrey Holder did in that Bond film) and the film has some funny lines, fine suspense and is better as a Horror flick than a Gangster or Blaxploitation film, yet does all well enough to be a very enjoyable, one-of-a-kind film everyone should rediscover.  Only some effects have dated, but I liked the atmosphere.


A long trailer is the only extra, but it is different than the other trailer I have seen on the film circulating more widely.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Bones (AVC @ 18 MBPS) is better than the limited HD shoot on Hunters, but it is not always perfect and has its own style limits.  The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Cage should have been the best here, but the print is a bit dated and limited, though color and style still come through.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Beware is one of the most gutted in the genre I have ever seen, looking overexposed and faded in the worst way.  Despite a disclaimer about its condition, the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Sugar may be soft in places and have Video Black limits, but it is saved by the color range (love those old film stocks) and decent condition of the print to the point in can compete with Hunters.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Bones and Cage are the best, despite their limits (Bones is closer to the front speakers that I would like while Cage shows its age from an old analog mix not intended for multi-channel sound originally) and Hunters has Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with healthier-than-expected Pro Logic type surrounds. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Beware is one of the weakest AC-3 lossy mixes I have heard in a while (obviously it was not recorded this way) leaving the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Sugar better than expected for its age.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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