Dead Man Down (2013/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/The
Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)/Perfect
Friday (1970/Network U.K.
Region B Import Blu-rays)/Stoker
B- & C/B+/B-/B- Sound: B- &
C+/B-/B-/B- Extras: C-/B/C/C- Films: C-/B/C+/C-
PLEASE NOTE: The Man Who Haunted Himself and Perfect Friday Blu-rays can only be operated on machines capable of
playing Region B Blu-ray format software and can be ordered from our friends at
Network U.K. at the website address provided at the end of the review. The others are Region A.
the latest thriller releases on Blu-ray…
Arden Opley’s Dead Man Down (2013)
had some potential with Colin Farrell as an assassin dealing with a dangerous
head gangster (Terrence Howard in one of his lesser performances) while also
finding a romantic interest in a sexy, lonely woman (Noomi Rapace) who is able
to blackmail him with video footage of his work. Even with Dominic Cooper and Isabelle Huppert
in the supporting cast, the script is a disaster, has every cliché you can
imagine, the directing lacks energy, the director cannot make any of this
intense or believable and the result is a shocking waste of talent and
weakly captured and it was a bore all around.
See it when you are not tired or not operating heavy machinery.
include three making-of featurettes, two of which are Blu-ray exclusives.
Dearden’s The Man Who Haunted Himself
(1970) is an underrated, truly creepy thriller based on Anthony Armstrong’s story
“The Case Of Mr. Pelham” (once
adapted into a Alfred Hitchcock Presents
episode) in which the serious, rich, at peace, slightly stuffy, elite Harold
Pelham (Roger Moore in one of the best performances of his long, great career)
suddenly finds his accomplished life in unexpected trouble.
Michael Douglas in David Fincher’s The
Game (1997, which owes a little more to this film than you might think),
crisis slowly develop out of nowhere and Pelham has to figure out exactly what
is going on. Where Douglas’
corporate guy is warned in advance of his upcoming plight, our electronics
businessman is not for certain if he is losing his mind, if he is being lied to
or if a strange twin of himself has somehow appeared in his reality to destroy
his life or all of reality as we know it.
offers no easy answers and as much as Fincher’s film, deals with huge wealth,
socio-economic class and additionally since it is a British film, a caste
system that is and is not invisible. Moore is the perfect choice
for the role, being able to be the high class guy and possibly the absolute
opposite. His reactions are classic and
in his performance, he is able to constantly show the shock of someone who has
been holding their emotions back all their life (i.e., selling their soul(s))
just to be part of the establishment, capitalist elite and success at any
cost. As far as I am concerned, the film
is an underrated British classic and maybe Dearden’s best film, whose son later
made Douglas’ Fatal Attraction
(1987) possible. Hildegard Neil,
Alastair Mackenzie, Anton Rodgers, Freddie Jones, Olga Georges-Picot, Gerald
Sim and Charles Lloyd Pack help make up the incredibly terrific supporting
this remarkable, fully restored Blu-ray with a bunch of great extras has
the full screen 1.33 X 1 version on DVD (which was not part of our press copy,
but is included if you purchase it), Image Gallery, Promotional Material
Gallery, Isolated Music Score by Michael J. Lewis, Original Theatrical Trailer,
Music Suite, PDF DVD-ROM Press Materials and a another very strong, excellent,
terrific feature length audio commentary track with Roger Moore from a few
years ago joined by Producer (and Director in his own right) Bryan Forbes that
not only covers the film itself, but offers outstanding insight into
filmmaking, the British film industry and other priceless information that
makes owning this disc a must!
Hall’s Perfect Friday (1970) is a
lesser-seen entry in a cycle of classy heist thrillers that started with Topkapi and Charade, but is not anywhere nearly as competent or effective as
longtime bank employee Stanley Baker (Zulu)
has been planning a robbery of his business and being such an efficient
employee, believes he will get away with it since he’ll be gone before he is
suspected, but he gets help in a couple who loves money and robbery. Ursula Andress (Dr. No, looking as good here as she ever did) and David Warner (Titanic, Time After Time; channeling an evil twin version of Peter
Wyngarde’s Jason King more than a
bit) plan to help him out and take some cash for themselves.
not work out so easily and we get some twists that are at least ambitious, but
the film is too self-conscious of its stars and the cycle it is in, therefore
holding it back from ever totally working or ever totally being
believable. Still, it has enough moments
to see once, but it did not work when I saw it back in the day and it has not
aged any better since. At least it is a
first-rate production and all serious film fans should see it once.
include Stills, A German Theatrical Trailer and PDF DVD-ROM Press Materials.
Chan-Wook’s Stoker (2013) is an
attempt to do a creepy family secrets thriller, something that has already been
rendered silly recently by the Dark
Shadows remake, but done more seriously here with Mia Wasikowska as a young
woman who loses her father, has an uncle (Matthew Goode) she did not know about
mysterious turns up soon after and a mother (Nicole Kidman, stealing every
scene) who has some secrets of her own to hide.
is the family name, so you would expect this to be about vampires, but the
screenplay wants it to be about murder, demons, possibly incest, throws in
touches of Alice In Wonderland and ultimately does not know what it wants
to be. It is not a film that works, even
with a great turn by Jackie Weaver and Dermot Mulroney’s appearance. I really was expecting more from the director
of the original Oldboy, but this
vies between clichéd, meaningless and boring with more than a few moments
having meaning only the makers likely understand. Another waste of talent, this is a sad miss.
include Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-enabled devices,
Deleted Scenes, 3-part theatrical behind-the-scenes featurette, Image
Galleries, Red Carpet Premiere and A
Filmmaker’s Journey piece on the film.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Dead
is a digital shoot with some clichéd styling, but is passable and better than
the much softer anamorphically enhanced DVD version also included, which is the
poorest performer on this list.
1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image on Friday
is a 35mm film shoot with Movielab color that can look good at times, but is
not consistent, nor is the print, which shows its age at times, but this is
still the best the film has looked in eons and Network have secured the best
2.35 X 1 AVC @ 33 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Stoker has digital enhancements in its
visual effects and style choices that are not as clichéd as we would usually
see in the genre, but it is still overdone and does not make up for what the
visual champ on this list without any doubt is the 1080p 1.75 X 1 digital High
Definition image on Haunted which
has never looked so good, has some great demo shots, looks like a brand new
print and whose representation of a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor
version of the film as issued in it original theatrical release is very
impressive throughout. This was always a
good-looking film, but on Blu-ray, you can really finally see the visual intent
throughout. Director of Photography Tony
Spratling (Fanny Hill, Edge Of Sanity, TV’s Space Precinct and The Persuaders! with Roger Moore (both TV shows reviewed elsewhere
on this site) is a very underrated talent who delivers some of the best work of
his career here.
seem always open, yet claustrophobia is just around the corner and the idea of
visual entrapment is always at least hinted at in subtle ways that make the
film all the creepier and thanks to Blu-ray, you can see the depth and
structure intended. This transfer has
more than a few demo moments for even the best HDTVs, even Ultra HDTVs and is a
serious must for all filmmakers and big movie fans.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Dead and Stoker should
be the sonic champs and though they are recent recordings, they both suffer
from problematic soundstages that put their sound too much towards the front
simply has a boring mix and an obvious one with little imagination, while
imagination cannot save Stoker from
its mix of quietness, dialogue and subtle sound effects that are supposed to be
mysterious, but say and do nothing.
The PCM 2.0
sound on Haunted and Friday can show their age, but with
less tricks and a more realistic/naturalistic approach sound warm and as good
throughout (Friday seems to have
been boosted to simple stereo) and have never sounded better. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Dead DVD is the poorest performer here
and allows you to hear the mixing limits in new ways.
above, you can order The Man Who Haunted
Himself and Perfect Friday
Blu-ray imports exclusively from Network U.K. at:
- Nicholas Sheffo