The Caretaker (2012/MVD Visual DVD)/Chiller
– The Complete Television Series (1995/Yorkshire/Synapse DVDs)/MidSomer Murders – Set 21 (2011/Acorn
Blu-rays)/War Of The Dead (2011/E1
& C+ Sound: C+/C+/B-/B- & C+ Extras: C/D/D/C- Main Programs: C/B-/C+/C
the latest Horror releases…
Conyers’ The Caretaker (2012) is an
Australian low-budget Vampire romp that has some interesting moments, but
cannot sustain its ideas as a good vampire (Mark White) meets up with a group
of people in a rural area as a disease starts turning others into vampires
without the bite. If they can protect
him during daylight, he can fight off all of them at night, but this
arrangement will not be so easy as doom closes in.
actors are well-cast, the acting not bad, but the makers are only able to come
up with so much new and even a change of locale becomes too familiar thanks to
a script that does not go far enough into the promising, interesting direction
it does. Still, we have seen worse and
the makers are at least trying to make something good and smart, which I cannot
say for the majority of junk in the genre we have suffered through of
late. At least diehard fans will want to
see this one.
include a silly Rap clip, feature length audio commentary track by Conyers and
co-star/producer Mark White, a making of featurette, teaser and trailer.
In 1995, Yorkshire tried to launch a Horror anthology series, but
for several reasons (including scheduling issues), Chiller – The Complete Television Series only lasted for five
episodes. Was it the quality of the
shows that killed it? Based on the five
shows here, the answer is definitely no.
The show had smart scripts, good casting decent production values and a
sense of the supernatural that actually works.
five hour-long shows are:
Prophecy in which a group of young people
participate in a Ouija board séance and five years later start slowly turning
up dead in usually horrible accidents.
Did they bring it on themselves?
Sophie Ward and Nigel Havers star.
Toby has a couple (Martin Clunes and
Serena Gordon) loose a baby before it is born.
Disconnected from each other, she seems suddenly pregnant, but despite
all the medical experts telling her she is not, something is wrong and their
baby may be coming back in a whole new murderous form.
Here Comes The Mirror Man does not feature the great hit
record by New Wave band The Human League, but is an interesting piece about
social worker Anna (Phyllis Logan) trying to help a disturbed young man in a
big old house while also investigating the mysterious death of her predecessor
and will get more than she expected.
The Man Who Didn’t Believe In
Ghosts features a
professional writer (Peter Egan) who built his reputation on deconstructing
spiritual fraud moving into a house with his wife and son, but bad, bizarre
things start to happen and people start to die, so is it coincidence or
possibly revenge against him?
Number Six has a child killer on the loose,
so police start to investigate, but one young man starts to see haunted
children who do not otherwise exist and the murders might have more to them
than just one deranged killer. Kevin
the show and am shocked it ended early since the makers were on track to
creating a really good show that could have become better and even a classic at
the rate they were going, but it got killed off and ended too early. Maybe it was too intense for some at the
network, but it is easily as good as any anthology series since the 1980s and
deserves rediscovery. Already issued in
a DVD set by Network U.K.
that will go out of print in January 2013 (they offered it as a limited edition
website-only release), Synapse is bringing it to the U.S. market and fans of the supernatural
should put it on their must-see list.
are no extras.
such a promising show not working out, what gets to survive on British TV? Try MidSomer
Murders – Set 21 (2011) which is a Murder,
She Wrote-like fuddy duddy detective TV show that now has an extended life beyond
the Angela Lansbury hit as they have just had a change in co-stars as longtime
Inspector John Barnaby (John Nettles) was replaced by his “cousin” John (Neil
Dudgeon) and Jason Hughes as his investigative partner Ben Jones, who has been
on the show since 2005, though the show began in 1997.
means this is the first season with the original leads gone and despite 21
sets, the show actually has 15 seasons, but GEEZ is that going on long!
four telefilm mysteries this time over two Blu-rays that play with that
played-out theme song and seem like every telefilm episode we have seen
before. The show plays it safe, keeping
it a hit, but with zero of the excitement we used to get all the time like
Chiller and we’ll see how this new duo works out for the producers. However, this is competent corporate mystery
product at best and plays as well as any of its flat U.K.
competitors, so it is for fans only… if they like the new leads.
we have Marko Makilaakso’s War Of The
Dead (2011) in which Nazi experiments about keeping people barely alive in
sick experiments that seem to have been meant to keep Nazi soldiers alive and
able to survive in 1941. Towards the end
of the war, that area is disturbed and the dead Nazis rise as zombies who
kill. Obviously not intended as a work
of good taste, I was impressed that the makers did not allow this to be a silly
exploitation work but one where science fiction (even if it has a legacy of
quackery and definitely genocide) took the material seriously enough to make a
serious script of it.
beyond that, it is not very convincing, the Holocaust and WWII are somewhat
trivialized as a result and in a zombie subgenre played out beyond belief, they
made this one way too late if it was ever going to work. At least they had some ambition and I did not
feel intentionally insulted, but I did eventually get bored.
is the only extra.
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Dead
is the best of the DVDs, even when it is soft and style choices hold it back,
which is why it is preferred that one sees the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High
Definition image transfer looking better and not as soft or distracting with
its image limits. It was shot on 35mm
and 16mm film including in the Super 35mm film format. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition
image transfers on the four episodes on MidSomer
are not as stylized, but have at least as much softness throughout despite
looking as good as any previous set, it is still not the best of the
series. The 1.33 X 1 on the 35mm-filmed Chiller episodes and anamorphically
enhanced 2.35 X 1 RED HD-shot image on Caretaker
are the poorest performers here. The Chiller episodes are off of older video
masters including specks and dirt, while Caretaker
is just plain soft.
Caretaker also offers lossy Dolby Digital
5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo options, but the 5.1 is just a bit
better, but as limited as the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Dead DVD with limited soundfields and
not just because both have their silent moments. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Chiller actually sounds really good for
its age, well recorded and professionally mixed on all five episodes. To think this could sound better lossless.
Blu-rays win the sonic sound battle with a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1
lossless mix on Dead that has its
moments and reveals more of the quality of what the soundmaster actually has to
offer, while MidSomer has DTS-HD MA
(Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes on all of its episodes that decode
nicely with Pro Logic on home theater systems.
- Nicholas Sheffo