Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012/Fox Blu-ray + DVD)/Doctor Who: Planet Of Giants (1964/Story No. 9) + Vengeance On Varos (1985/Story No.
139/BBC DVDs)/Equinox (1969/Umbrella
Region Free/Zero PAL DVD)/Repo Man
(Universal/Umbrella Region B Blu-ray)/Snowmageddon
(2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)
& C/C/C+/B-/B/B- Sound: B & B-/C/C+/C+/B/B Extras: C/B-/C/B-/B-/D Main Programs: C/B-/C/B-/B-/C
PLEASE NOTE: The Repo Man Blu-ray is correctly marked as
a Region B disc and will only play on Blu-ray players that can handle that
format, while Equinox is a Region
Free PAL DVD and both imports can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella
Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.
Rounding out even more Halloween 2012 releases are the
following genre titles…
have one of three Tim Burton-related releases this year that did not work
out. Along with remakes of Dark Shadows (reviewed elsewhere on
this site) and a CG version of his own Frankenweenie
(?!?!?) comes Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham
Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), a bizarre idea that you know cannot
possibly work, yet here it is getting made.
juggle the issue of slavery is problematic as is (here they give Lincoln an
African American best friend who he has known since childhood) and tries to tie
in the evil of slavery with the supernatural (which is at least borderline
offensive if not worse) as we get vampires who can exist in the day (never
explained) and can only be killed with axes made of silver blades (making him
like a Lone Ranger, but isn’t that supposed to be for werewolves? Never explained either) and we get slow
motion killings throughout including seeing the President (hope you’re sitting
for this one) doing gravity-defying acrobatics and quasi-martial arts!
audiences will expect Johnny Carson to show up and start cracking jokes at any
moment, but the actors and makers take this seriously and shockingly to their
credit, hold it all together to the end of the picture n a way most commercial
films of late have not. Too bad they had
to pick Lincoln and not some friends of his at least (a much lower budget Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter already
arrived on home video recently) and the playing with history ultimately
backfires no matter what.
this will be a curio and know if you try it out, you will not be seeing too
much that works, but at least it is competent and professional for the hopeless
project it is. Benjamin Walker looks
more like Young Liam Neeson, Vampire
Hunter for much of this and Rufus Sewell plays yet another villain.
include Ultraviolet Copy, a five part Making
Of featurette, a Graphic Novel Comic Book, Linkin Park Music Video (they’re
still together?), Art Of Transformation:
Makeup Effects featurette and feature length audio commentary by
screenwriter Seth Grahame Green.
far ends of the original run of Doctor
Who are the latest BBC DVD releases of the original series. First we have the early William Hartnell
adventure Planet Of Giants (1964/Story
No. 9) which runs three episodes and offers a fun early adventure where the
Doctor, Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Ian (William
Russell) and the TARDIS find themselves in a strange situation when the door of
the vehicle starts to open. When they
land, they find themselves only an inch tall each average and in a place where
some very bad people are developing an insecticide that is deadlier than just
for its supposed intended use.
three episodes, it shows how creative and fun the early shows were and how the
combination of Sydney Newman (fresh from launching The Avengers at Associated British before moving over to the BBC)
and Verity Lambert (starting up one of the most successful producing careers in
British TV history and breaking ground for women worldwide in the industry)
clicked. Their chemistry would be
evident throughout the early years of the show and in other endeavors
(including Adam Adamant Lives!,
reviewed in an import DVD set elsewhere on this site, but still not released in the U.S.) giving British TV a strong separate
identity from all others.
did anyone know they would be building the foundation for one of the most
successful fiction TV series of all time.
adventures and 21 years later, with Tom Baker long gone, the show stayed
popular, but started a slow decline. The
choice of actors to replace Baker were unusual and interesting, but never
totally worked. This included Colin
Baker (no relation) and Vengeance On
Varos (1985/Story No. 139) is one of his few watchable entries even though
it does not totally work either. The
Doctor and current female companion (the very viable Nicola Bryant) go to a
planet with a substance that could help power the TARDIS, but it offers a sick
society techno-fascist society where people are entertained by violent TV shows
and even sicker things are going on unbeknownst to the distracted, dumbed-down
in when a rebel against the state (Jason Connery around the time he played
Robin Hood (see the Robin Of Sherwood
Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) on his way to being a viable star) being the
tortured TV subject. Eventually the
Doctor arrives and seeing what is going on, decides to save him, not knowing
what a sick, sad alien world they have arrived to. From there we get a good adventure, but an
uneven one that does not go far enough politically and often rings false. However, Baker gives one of his few good
performances in the role and too bad Connery did not stay around on the
show. That makes this a curio at best,
but also a disappointment overall, though the series was running out of steam
at this point just the same.
both Who releases include audio
commentaries and stills, with Giants
adding two featurettes on reconstructing the episodes of the show, PDF
materials that are DVD-ROM accessible, audio of Producer Verity Lambert on the
show and Suddenly Susan featurette with Carole Ann Ford, while Varos adds a Production Note Option,
Trailers, BBC bumpers for the show, Extended/Deleted Scenes and a
Woods’ Equinox (1969) is a fun Jack
H. Harris production now know for being the inspiration for Sam Raimi’s Evil
Dead films (that accursed magic book) as well as a film that helped launch the
career of Visual Effects legend Dennis Muren.
This new Umbrella Region Free/Zero PAL DVD is a repeat of the U.S.
Criterion DVD edition, but with slightly better picture quality.
In it, a
young group of friends go to some canyons in California where they discover a strange
book that will change their lives, open up other worlds and unleash surprises
like monsters. In its time, this was an
amazing low budget achievement that Harris picked up and refined for theatrical
release. The result was a hit and fan
and genre favorite that is sometimes forgotten, but gets this nice DVD
treatment for everyone to see, discover and rediscover.
the flat acting, time capsule look of the era and some of the better stop
motion animation outside of Ray Harryhausen that remains as charming and
interesting as ever no matter how it has aged.
I wish more digital animation in the same genre was half as interesting.
a curio, Equinox is a minor classic
of genre, independent and low-budget filmmaking, not to mention remarkable for
having the effective effects it had. I
really enjoyed seeing it again and is a must-see for all film fans.
include a feature length audio commentary track by Harris & Woods, an
on-camera Muren interview, Trailer, Outtakes, Taurus animation tests, interview
featurette with co-stars Frank Bonner (later of the hit sitcom WKRP In Cincinatti, reviewed elsewhere
on this site), Barbara Hewitt & James Duron, two shorts of connected
interest (The Magic Treasure from
this film’s co-animator David Allen, plus Zorgon:
The H-Bomb Beats From Hell by the film’s crew) and a famous station wagon
commercial at the time with a newly animated King Kong brought to life by Allen
in the best copy of the ad I have seen to date and test footage of the their
Kong recreation in amazing 35mm footage recreating the climax of the 1933
classic in color. A great set of extras!
Cox’s Repo Man (1984) is finally on
Blu-ray, but not yet in the U.S.,
where the best version is this DVD edition we covered a few years ago at the
I was not
a big fan of the film, but think it is interesting and has aged in interesting
ways as Emilio Estevez plays a young car thief who land sup mixing it up with
aliens and the U.S. Government. It is
sometimes unexpected and has some good work all around from its cast, including
Harry Dean Stanton and has never been duplicated despite what seems like a few
attempts (including Cox’s lame Repo Girl
reviewed elsewhere on this site; Repo
Men is also from Universal, but not related to this film). All the extras from the DVD edition are here
we have Sheldon Wilson’s sometimes amusing Snowmageddon
(2012) which is a disaster tale, a supernatural tale and one with Christmas
overtones via The Twilight Zone, but
like a very bad, undeveloped episode of the original, classic version of the
In a nice
small town around the holidays, a family received a gift of a giant snow globe
(no Citizen Kane references
intended) which is also a music box. The
young boy in the family decides to activate it and that is when snow disasters
start to occur. As people start to die
or become severely injured, it takes almost the whole 89 minutes of this
dragging-on-forever tale to change things and the digital visual effects are
phonier than usual. As a result, there
is no suspense, no point and the writers never even try to make this interesting
or self-reflective so it becomes quickly forgotten in the Christmas glut of
releases even if it is not specifically so.
no extras either, so see it at your own risk.
2.35 X 1 AVC @ 26.5 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Lincoln has been stylized down to be
soft, dark and even semi-diffused on purpose, sadly putting it on par with the
nice 1.33 X 1 PAL video transfer on the Equinox
DVD and cheaply shot 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Snowmageddon Blu-ray. The Lincoln
anamorphically enhanced DVD version is much softer and very hard to watch. That leaves the 1.85 X 1 digital High
Definition image transfer on Repo
actually looking the best despite a sometimes rough look, dated visual effects and
low budget. Likely the same HD master as
the older DVD, or at least the same (or similar print), that DVD was a big
improvement over the previous versions of the film, but my fellow writer was
even more impressed. Here, it looks just
that much better and fans will be very pleased.
Lincoln is also available in the Blu-ray
of Who episodes are shot on
professional PAL analog videotape and in 1.33 X 1 framing. Giants
is in black and white and had to be restored from 2-inch videotape reels, so
the footage has some detail issues, motion blur and flaws. I don’t think it could look much better
though, especially as compared to other tapings of the time we have covered on
DVD, including actual Pal imports. Varos is in color and is a more recent
taping, so it looks better and is clearer, though the tape can still show its
age, it too could not look better.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Lincoln is narrowly the best sound mix here, but (in part due to
the time it is set in) some quite moments and dialogue placing the soundfield
towards the front speakers holds the mix back a little bit. Otherwise, it has some nice sonic moments, if
not always and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD is not bad, but no
match for the Blu-ray’s DTS-MA. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Repo and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Snowmageddon
are also pretty consistent throughout with Repo’s
5,1 upgrade from a few years ago paying off and sounding warmer than it did on
that older DVD while Snowmageddon has
a more consistent soundfield than expected.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Giants is
a little worn sounding, has some limited dynamic range, a little harmonic
distortion and slight background hiss throughout, while the lossy Dolby Digital
2.0 Stereo on Varos sounds better as
expected, but also shows its age and has some sonic limits of its own. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Equinox can show its age, but sound
pretty good and clean just the same.
As noted above, you can order the import DVD version of Equinox and Region B Blu-ray version of
Repo Man exclusively from Umbrella
- Nicholas Sheffo