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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Creature > Crocodile > Supernatural > Demon > Slasher > Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyp > Dark Age (1987/Umbrella PAL Region Free DVD)/Exorcismus (2010/IFC/MPI DVD)/Hardware (1990/Umbrella Region B Blu-ray)/Heartless (2009/IFC/MPI DVD)/Hellraiser (1987) + Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988/Umb

Dark Age (1987/Umbrella PAL Region Free DVD)/Exorcismus (2010/IFC/MPI DVD)/Hardware (1990/Umbrella Region B Blu-ray)/Heartless (2009/IFC/MPI DVD)/Hellraiser (1987) + Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988/Umbrella Region Free Blu-rays)/Julia’s Eyes (2010/Umbrella Region 4/Four PAL DVD)/Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)


Picture: C+/C/C+/C/B-/C+/C+/B- & C     Sound: C+/C+/C+/B-/B-/C+/C+/B- & C+     Extras: C/D/C+/C-/D/C-/C-/D     Films: C/D/C/C-/C/C-/C-/D



PLEASE NOTE: Five of the eight titles here are from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment including the Region Free PAL DVD of Dark Age, Region Free Hellraiser Blu-rays, Region B Hardware Blu-ray and Region 4 PAL DVD of Julia’s Eyes and can only operate on machines capable of playing back those formats.  All can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.  The rest of the titles are U.S. releases.



Trick or treat?  Most of the following are more the former, but all are worth knowing about, especially since you many not have heard of some of them.



Though it is 12 years after Jaws, Arch Nicholson’s Dark Age (1987) is an Australian rip-off of the film that wants to be more than just Ozploitation and that hampers the overall film badly.  Instead of a shark, we get a very big and deadly crocodile called a Numunwari, which is also apparently part of aborigine lure and the producers even got Walkabout star David Gulpilil to be one of the group connected to the nature that brings about this death beast.  Too bad the suspense is weak, the score goofy and the ending dumb.  At a certain early point, there is a murder where the film seems to declare it is going to be rougher than Jaws.  Too bad that backfires.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image shows its age, though it has had some restoration done, as has the sound, here in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.  The only extra is a feature length audio commentary track by Star John Jarratt and Executive Producer Antony J. Ginnane.


Manuel Carballo’s Exorcismus (2010) is a British rip-off of The Exorcist 38 years too late and very, very boring as a young lady finds out she may be possessed by you know who.  Unimaginative, derivative and pointless, British film and TV have covered the subject much better and I never bought it for a minute.  The unknown actors try to do this seriously, but the script is awful and if it were any worse, there would be a lawsuit for ripping off the 1972 classic.  The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is one of the softest here, stylized to be so, but also just plain soft as a transfer, making this even less watchable.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix is not engaging, too much towards the front channels and is weak overall down to the dialogue.  Extras include a trailer and making of clip.


Richard Stanley’s Hardware (1990) has been available for a while on Blu-ray in the U.S. and now Umbrella has issued a Region B Blu-ray with its own set of extras.  For starters, you can read more about the film and that release at this link:




Both have the same image transfer showing the film’s age and budget, but Umbrella has upgraded the sound to a lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix that is a little better, but also tends to show more flaws in the sound.  I liked this version the best just the same.  Extras are almost the same.  While the earlier releases offered “Deleted & Extended Scenes, feature length audio commentary by Stanley, Stanley on the sequel that never happened in Hardware 2, 2006 Stanley short Sea Of Perdition, early Stanley short Rites Of Passage, No Flesh Shall Be Sparred documentary on the making and history of the film and the early Super 8mm film version of Hardware entitled Incidents In An Expanding Universe”, but this version adds The Voice Of The Moon documentary by Stanley and looses Flesh.


Philip Ridley had been involved with writing the underrated Peter Medak gangster film The Krays (1990), so here he is directing a supernatural thriller called Heartless (2009) about a guy (Jim Sturgess) who is rejected because he has red markings on his face (the script never suggests a make-up cover-up as the marks are not that bad!) but this drives him into loneliness and maybe obsession, but he is being picked on and demons are also hanging around his house looking like people with the monster heads.  To reference an old Horror film, we’ll call them “C.H.U.D. U.K.” for the sake of identification.


Then he gets the opportunity to get rid of the marks (and not from medical treatment), there is a demon, killings, he is told he needs to take the heart out of something living by midnight and place it on some step (no Aztec Mummies show up though) and what could have been an interesting film is never believable from the start, has too much vocal music on the soundtrack (sung oddly, including by our lead) and the more this moves on, the more contrived it gets and that means early on, it reaches the point of no return and gets worse and worse.  It also includes a dumb “deal with the devil’ where he gets his looks back as if he lost them to begin with and anything else they can throw in to keep you watching but a script that adds up.  Timothy Spall even shows up to no avail among the wasted cast.  Yawn!!!


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is other one of the softest here, stylized to be so, but also just plain soft as a transfer, making this even less watchable.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix is does use the surrounds somewhat well, but the mix is nothing distinct.  Extras include a trailer, making of clip Behind The Scenes at SITGES featurette, BIFA Awards clip, Heartless audience reactions (which seem contrived as these people seem to be being nice because they know a camera is on them), UK Trailer and Sturgess Music Videos which are unnecessary.  He also sung several Beatles songs in the disastrous Across The Universe, so maybe he should choose whether he wants to sing or act, because neither is working out for him at this time.


We have covered Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (1987) twice in two out-of-print editions in both formats, as these links will show:


U.S. Anchor Bay Blu-ray



U.S. Anchor Bay DVD



This import edition has no extras, but seems to use the same video master as the previous editions.  Note that another U.S. edition is due, so we’ll see if how that compares, but it is obviously too popular a film to stay out of print for long.


We have never covered Tony Randel’s Clive Barker-produced sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) but here it is and while you can get this import too, but the extras (save the audio commentary) are in the PAL format, so be sure to have a Blu-ray player that can cover that or get the U.S. Blu-ray.  The film picks up where the first left off, even (pre-home video) repeating the end of the last film.  After that, there is not much going on here and this wears thin quickly, but six more sequels and counting still got made somehow.  The sound here is also DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and image also 1080p HD, but it neither looks or sounds as good as the previous film, is from an older print/video master and is barely above a DVD.  Extras include a Behind The Scenes montage, four featurettes, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots and feature length audio commentary track by Randel, Writer Peter Atkins and Co-Star Ashley Laurence.


Guillermo del Toro produced Guillem Morales’ Julia’s Eyes (2010) and you might think it is a supernatural thriller and it sure is sold that way, but after you get past that mystification, you get a surprisingly formulaic, predictable, disappointing thriller that does not always work, is everything we have seen before and is very plain for Del Toro to put his name too.  A woman’s sister is having blindness problems and kills herself, or was she murdered?  Her sister (a psychic connection is suggested, then forgotten) investigates, only to discover someone is stalking her.  Is it a ghost?   Killer?  What a shame this is a dud.  The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image and Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix are underwhelming and a little weak in both cases, though this is at least a nicely shot film with some good sound design.  Extras include Julia’s Eyes B-Roll, Theatrical Trailer and Interviews with Morales, del Toro and co-stars Belén Rueda and Lluis Homar.


And we saved the worst for last.  Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011) continues what might be the worst franchise series in Horror (give or take Final Destination) thinks it is a prequel, but is just a torture porn mess that mixes that with every psychopath and mental illness stereotype they can throw at you.  This is “Unrated” but who cares.  It is very slight and absolutely stupid, so skip it.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 19 MBPS digital High Definition image is not that good and the anamorphically enhanced DVD is far worse, both being soft, having motion blur and detail issues throughout.  The chosen style is boring, smug and self-impressed, along with its lame editing.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is more towards the front speakers than you might expect, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix on the DVD is weaker still and does not even engage the surrounds as much as it should whereas the DTS does somewhat.


Extras include three featurettes, 4 inane, so-called Music Videos, Deleted Scenes and one of the worst feature length audio commentary tracks of the year (and maybe beyond) by Director Declan O’Brien.



As noted above, you can order the Australian imports exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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