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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Crime > Detective > Comedy > Zombies > CG Animation > Horror > Mystery > British > Ships > H > Absolute Deception (2013/Sony DVD)/The Amazing Adventures Of The Living Corpse (2012/CG Animated/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/The House Of The Seven Hawks (1959/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/The Rambler (2012/Anchor

Absolute Deception (2013/Sony DVD)/The Amazing Adventures Of The Living Corpse (2012/CG Animated/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/The House Of The Seven Hawks (1959/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/The Rambler (2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Sadako 3D (2012/Well Go USA Blu-ray 3D w/2D)/12 Rounds 2: Reloaded (2013/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)


3D Picture: B-     2D Picture: C/B-/C+/B-/B-/B- & C+     Sound: C+/B-/C+/B-/B-/B- & C+     Extras: D/D/C-/D/C-/C-     Films: C-/C-/C+/C-/C-/D



PLEASE NOTE: The House Of The Seven Hawks is only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Our latest round of genre releases are truly a mixed bag, most with interesting ideas, but they never work…



When you think of combinations that have common denominators, odd ones could make things work, but legendary Australian Director Brian Trenchard-Smith directing Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the lead of a B-actioner like Absolute Deception (2013) could go either way.  Unfortunately, even the man who helmed The Man From Hong Kong, Death Cheaters, Stunt Rock and Dead End Drive-in (all reviewed elsewhere on this site) cannot return to form to make Gooding work in a narrative as he plays a generic FBI agent who has to travel between Australia and New York City to find bad guys… and a bad script.


With a disappointing car chase, action that never works and Emmanuelle Vaugier along the ride for no reason like anyone who views this, you would never know it was a Trenchard-Smith work (was he restricted by contract) and plays more like a bad Aussie TV Movie.  The look and sound of this is not good either, but for Gooding, it is like he is going out of his way to make bad projects.  A shame, because this could have been good if Trenchard-Smith could have been allowed to let loose.


Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-able devices and trailers are the only extras.



Showing the continued fatigue in all things zombified, Justin Paul Ritter’s The Amazing Adventures Of The Living Corpse (2012) is different because it is an all-CG Animated (and not well at that) tale of a John Romero (get the lame reference?) who rises from his grave and that’s where the similarities end as this is a supernatural tale (nothing in George Romero’s films, especially his zombie films are) lands up with a Satan-clone and living, talking gargoyle (we’ll skip the silly names) in what is trying to be some kind of graphic novel with comedy.


Despite this or because of it, we still get everything we’ve seen before and less as this drudges on and on, plus some of the voicing does not even seem to sync up with the animation, so I was hoping it might be interesting but it never, ever gets there.


There are no extras.



So we go back 54 years and counting for the capable Richard Thorpe’s The House Of The Seven Hawks (1959) which has what might suggest a supernatural title, but is actually a somewhat capable tale of a sailor (Robert Taylor) who lands up in Holland looking for a lost treasure in modern times, but finds more criminals and police than expected.  MGM made this film as the kind of production that they were producing in England at the time and this one has mixed results, yet is as good s any of the newer entries on this list.


Nicole Maurey and Linda Christian are the female leads, plus Donald Wolfit (Lawrence Of Arabia) and Eric Pohlmann lead a good cast, but the script is a mixed bag of ideas that do and don’t work.  Some things are predictable, others interesting.  This was one of Taylor’s last films with MGM, but they still gave him top rate people to work with, extending to screenplay writer Jo Eisinger (the original Night & The City, Gilda) base don a book by Victor Canning (who penned the book that would make for Hitchcock’s last film, Family Plot), but it just never comes together.


I’m still glad I saw it for what works and it is the kind of classic curio that should be in print, so mystery fans will want to give it a look.


A trailer is the only extra.



Calvin Lee Reeder’s The Rambler (2012) is our most risk-taking entry with Dermot Mulroney as a convict out of jail and finding trouble upon his exit, but throughout its 99 minutes becomes surreal in a way that only the writer/director knows for sure as his life quickly spins out of control, we get every ‘”Southern White Trash Hick” stereotype you can think of and a VHS device that can record subconscious dreams, but this is done in a dumb, mystified, “I-Wish-I-Were-David-Lynch” way that never adds up on any level and is more extended gimmick than cinema.


Mulroney is an underrated actor and he is able to carry this feature for what little he really has to work with, but it is still a gimmicky work, even if it is not as totally cynical as the usual Torture Porn and tired Found Footage disasters.


There are no extras.



Tsutomu Hanabusa’s Sadako 3D (2012) claims it will be “The Terrifying Conclusion” of all the films like The Ring that started with the original version of that overrated release, but despite a promising start, is miles away from the original films, is never scary, has limited 3D and plays more like an exercise in seeing how many objects we can get to float for a few minutes that the plot allegedly of supernatural terror.


Since these feature films have all pretty much been the same, all is a blur at this point, but WOW is this one dull, even when a few of the visuals work.  The makers might be having some fun making it, but the viewer will not be joining them as this long played-out scenario about videotape that kills (amazing how these thin magnetic tapes never get stored improperly and decay or get muddy like an old VHS collection) and is as terrifying as a stack of old 8-track tapes sitting around doing nothing.


You don’t have to see the first films to enjoy this one, because there is hardly anything to enjoy here in 2D or 3D.  A shame, because they were onto something early, then dropped the ball very quickly.


A trailer is the only extra.



Last is least as we get to the biggest dud here and the most unnecessary sequel in a while.  Roel Reine’s 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded (2013) is a why-did-they-bother follow-up to the 12 Rounds release of 2009 with John Cena at his tiredest (and that says something) we covered at this link:




This time the lead is Randy Orton, another WWE alumni who may not be as tired here, but the script manages to be as tired as the last one in this endless, lame romp that is nothing more than laughable excuses for bad fight scenes, bad dialogue, Torture Porn and dumb death games that could not have possibly looked good on paper, but got greenlit by the WWE geniuses who have zero concept of how to produce anything with a coherent narrative.  Awful, skip it quickly!


Extras are sadly here and include three slight Making Of featurettes and an especially pointless feature length audio commentary track by the Director and his so-called Editor Radu Ion.



The 1.78 X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on Sadako has some 3D you will miss on the 1080p 2D presentation, but not much and not enough to make a big difference, so the two match in picture quality and are the disappointing equal to the three other Blu-ray entries here including the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on CG-challenged Corpse, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the often stylized Rambler and the 1080p 2.55 X 1 AVC @ 21 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Rounds, whose anamorphically enhanced DVD version is softer and weaker.


However, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Deception is the weakest presentation here with a constantly, unnecessarily soft look and way more motion blur that a new production should have.  Is it a disc defect or did someone mess up in the downtrade transfer?  Who knows, but anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 black and white image on House actually looks better despite being so much older and having more than a few soft shots of its own.  I wonder what went wrong?



The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Sadako and Rounds, as well as the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless mixes on Corpse and Rambler all have soundfield limits, sometimes recording limits, some minor flaws and land up in a four way tie for best-sounding release.  I was surprised on how all four also were more towards the front speakers than they ought to be, but they are.  Sadako can’t always keep up with its effects, Rounds is not well edited either (even worse on the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD version), Corpse has that sync issue and Rambler does not always have sound that melds well with its surrealism.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Deception is actually problematic with the dialogue sometimes swept under the mix of sound and music, plus some location audio is an issue and some sound is just plain harsh.


That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on House more competently recorded and just fine for its age, even faring better than its image by a slim margin.  Glad someone took care of this film.


To order The House Of The Seven Hawks, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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