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Category:    Home > Reviews > Supernatural > Horror > Ghost > Surrealism > Expressionism > Drama > Vampire > Science Fiction > Experimen > Apartment 143 (2011/aka Emergo/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Eraserhead (1977/Lynch/Umbrella Blu-ray)/The Moth Diaries (2011/IFC/MPI Blu-ray)/Re-Animator (1985/Image Blu-ray)/Vile (2011/Inception Media DVD

Apartment 143 (2011/aka Emergo/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Eraserhead (1977/Lynch/Umbrella Blu-ray)/The Moth Diaries (2011/IFC/MPI Blu-ray)/Re-Animator (1985/Image Blu-ray)/Vile (2011/Inception Media DVD)


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



PLEASE NOTE: The Eraserhead Blu-ray may be marked as Region B on the back of its case, but our final copy was Region Free, should play on all Blu-ray players worldwide and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



Here’s a new batch of Horror releases, including two classics upgraded…



Carles Torrens’ Apartment 143 (2011/aka Emergo, ironically the name of a gimmick from a William Castle film, but meaning a ghost either way) is more an extended video feigning a reality TV set up than a narrative exercise as most of this mess is shot with people looking at their cameras, setting up cameras, being way to impressed with video cameras and more silliness as a group of so-called ghost hunters wire the title locale to see the how, why and if it is haunted.  Unfortunately, the residents and their visitors are so boring, you wonder why any ghosts would want to bother.


This is the latest cynical gimmick mess featuring that young gal with the long black hair and white t-short (???) who keeps showing up from the dead for no good reason and always without explanation.  Maybe she wants a new shirt and hairdo?  Maybe she is searching for a good script, so if she keeps showing up in junk like this, she’ll never rest in peace!


This is Spanish, in Spanish and is so un-Spanish that is it just a very, very bad Xerox of every bad U.S.-produced variant so far.  Skip it!


Extras include an HDNet piece on it, Theatrical Trailer, six making of featurettes and an interview featurette, all which make this look even worse if that was possible.



Another bad import is Taylor Sheridan’s Vile (2011), a very lame, belated entry in one of the dumbest cycles of all time, torture porn.  Though a female video host has a British accent for no apparent reason (to make this seem smarter?), this is a U.S. production and a really bad one trying to be another Saw or Hostel, but it is just silly, obnoxious and a real time-waster.  The kidnapped and trapped group here has their brain fluids interrupted and only pain can save them, but not this absolutely stupid script.


Zero brains, suspense and point, this obvious, cynical dud will be quickly forgotten. Even by diehard fans of the cycle of there are any left.  A trailer and lousy deleted scenes are the only extras.


Mary Harron has given us some very overrated films like I Shot Andy Warhol (she didn’t get what it was really about), American Psycho (would anyone really remember it if it were not for Christian Bale?) plus spotty TV work.  Her latest is The Moth Diaries (2011) taking place at an all-girls school where main character Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) is still dealing with the death of her poet father when she takes on new school assignments and that brings new people like other classmates, a male teacher who excels in poetry so much he liked her father’s work and a young lady named Ernessa (Lily Cole) who is hiding something.


When she gets assigned a book about two young ladies, one who might be a vampire or demon, real life starts to imitate fiction and this film becomes a one-note exercise that cannot compete with the best all-female school thrillers (Bob Clark’s original 1974 Black Christmas) or simply a drama that understands the environment and atmosphere of said school (Jordan Scott’s underrated Cracks, both reviewed elsewhere on this site) so we get a quiet, boring, predictable, one-note lite Goth trip of a non story and a waste of everyone’s time.  Yawn!!!


Extras include a trailer and behind-the-scenes featurette that shows they did not know what they were trying to achieve here, but I’ll blame Harron 100% yet again.



That brings us to two films by filmmakers who know a good script when they have one and know what to do with it.  These new Blu-rays are fine, if not overwhelming upgrades to their previous DVD counterparts, which we have covered twice before each.


First we have David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) which I always enjoy in the way it frustrates its audience (i.e., the majority who do not get the film) and though Lynch himself created this restored version you can order form his website, we happen to have covered the film three times in import editions by Umbrella that are the same video masters.  You can see our thoughts on the DVD at these links for the Single DVD



…plus that DVD in the David Lynch Collection set



Now that I have given my colleague a chance for his thoughts on the film to sink in with our readers (and let people know a whole box set had been issued of Lynch’s harder to get work by Lynch), I will make a few comments.  The film is in love with silent cinema, black and white cinema, Horror cinema and German Expressionist cinema.  Though we start with a lead character in Henry Spencer (Jack “John” Lance), Lynch is also pushing the boundaries of audience expectation, starting out with a standard narrative and switching out of it not unlike Hitchcock’s Psycho at a surprise point, but the shift is suddenly out of narrative space itself, as the film flexes it writerly European sensibilities.


The visuals are obsessed with empty space or space denied by pollution or too much technology making little room for humans.  Like Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate (1980) a few years later, Lynch is walking the line between Hollywood readerly and European writerly narrative approaches, but takes his film into a different realm than Cimino would (trying to do both at once, perhaps, but more on that film when Criterion issues their Blu-ray) or anyone else had before.  But Lynch knew what he wanted and his small film had a huge impact and put him on the worldwide list of top cutting-edge independent directors to the point he still makes films today.


Despite his occasional commercial successes, he is still making films and never sold out, still able to make a film and its visuals so dense as to be palpable.  That started here and the film holds up 35 years later.  I will also add you still could not make this on the best HD video around today since you could not get the HD camera to reproduce these rich monochromatic images, making Eraserhead a black and white pure film classic to boot.  See it if you never have and see it again if you could not stick with it the first time around.


Extras repeating here include Stories (a 90 minutes making of documentary) and the Theatrical Trailer.



Finally we have the other genre classic, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985), a darkly comical, Expressionistic tale on the Frankenstein legend as well as one of the only films to understand and deal with H. P. Lovecraft’s work properly.  A film that becomes more popular all the time, we have covered the two previous special DVD editions (via other writers) now out of print including the famous Elite Entertainment Millennium Edition:



…plus the upgraded Anchor Bay edition that even copies with a collectible bonus:




Sardonic and dark like Verhoeven’s Robocop (1987, both films spawned unusual sequels); Bruce Abbott plays a grad student at a university where a morgue employee (Jeffrey Combs) has found a way to bring the dead back to life, but not in some clean, neat way.  Fascinated at first, the Dan (Abbott) starts to get too involved and this slowly leads to all hell breaking loose.


Immediately reminding me of some aspects of Paul Morrissey’s Flesh For Frankenstein (1973, X-rated at the time; this cut of Re-Animator is unrated), the film can go a little overboard with its still-impressive, palpable make-up effects and was part of a cycle of Horror/Sci-Fi films (including some even Spielberg made) that were make-up crazy, but one could also argue that this fits into the geek/genius cycle that was otherwise a series of teen films (Real Genius, Weird Science, Revenge Of The Nerds, etc.) so add how well it has aged and you can see the film was not just a silly gorefest or the like, but a serious attempt to tell a tale of science gone mad, but now aided and even condoned by the authority and “respectability” of universities.  It’s reputation is earned and in some ways, it seems more relevant than ever in a world of science denied and genetically engineered foods.


Extras include two separate audio commentaries (one with director Gordon and the other with cast members Abbott, Combs, Crampton and Sampson), a 70-minutes-long retrospective featurette, three on-camera interviews with cast and crew, separate discussion of the music with Composer Richard Band, interview with Fangoria Magazine editor Tony Timpone, a deleted scene plus several extended

scenes, TV spots, Theatrical Trailer, Poster Gallery and Production Stills.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Apartment is the poorest of the Blu-rays here as the video is as bad as it is obvious and to think this is intentional, but it does not make it “realistic” on any level, is as unoriginal as anything and the image can even look strained.  Very lame!  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Vile DVD could have at least competed with it if it had been a decent looking low def disc, but it still manages to look worse, poorer, softer and weaker throughout with even more strained images.  No demo material in either case!


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Moth, 1080p 1.66 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfer on Eraserhead and 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Re-Animator tie for the best performers on the list, though Moth ought to be the champ as it is the newest production.  However, the images have been color-gutted and styling has been overdone, though it was shot in Super 35mm film format for 1.85 X 1 presentation, sometimes referred to as Super 1.85.  That leaves Eraserhead (looking better than ever as Blu-ray can do the Black & White more thoroughly and deeply than any DVD could) and Re-Animator easily looking better than their previous DVD counterparts, if not spectacularly so as Eraserhead can show its age from the film footage source and Re-Animator offers better color and definition, but also has more grain, some fading in parts and some strained shots, but not as bad as the newer production.


The best soundtracks appear on the Blu-rays of Apartment, Moth and Re-Animator, which all sport DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but they all have their sonic limits including inconsistent soundfields.  Apartment has some audio flaws that are on purpose, but it is often sloppy so you know some of the flaws were unintended and some were left in.  How weak.  Moth has many moments of quiet and it is often a dialogue-based film, but the recording in competent.  Re-Animator seems to have the same 5.1 soundmaster as the Anchor Bay DVD did, which offered both regular DTS and Dolby Digital.  The result is some dialogue and sound effects are not as good as others and the music tends to sound the best,


That leaves lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Eraserhead that simply repeats the same soundmix from the DVD versions supervised by Lynch himself and as good as they are going to get.  We surmise he did not try PCM or DTS-MA since the age of the soundmaster (even restored) would have had new flaws for any improvements they could have brought.  The worst sound is easily the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo on Vile that in 5.1 has a lower-than-it-should be center channel and 2.0 mix that is also on the weak side.  Both are puzzlingly problematic so be careful of volume levels and volume switching on this one.



As noted above, you can order this Blu-ray import version of Eraserhead exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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