Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Drama > Murder > Literature > British > Police > Crime > Battles > Vikings > Terror > Assassination > ...and then there were none (1945/Agatha Christie/VCI Blu-ray)/Blood (2012/Image Blu-ray)/Hammer Of The Gods (2013/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971/Paramount/Warner Archive


...and then there were none (1945/Agatha Christie/VCI Blu-ray)/Blood (2012/Image Blu-ray)/Hammer Of The Gods (2013/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971/Paramount/Warner Archive DVD)/The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012/MPI/IFC Blu-ray)/Suddenly (2013 remake/Gaiam Vivendi Blu-ray)/Targets (1967/Paramount/Warner Archive DVD)/Wish You Were Here (2011/E1 DVD)


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




PLEASE NOTE: The Let's Scare Jessica To Death and Targets DVDs are only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Now for a new group of genre films, including some interesting back catalog releases, just in time for Halloween 2013…



Agatha Christie wrote so many mystery classics, you can loose track of them, but one of the best non-detective stand-alone tales has been issued under many titles (including Ten Little Indians, which is has been remade under a few times and a title before that dropped for highly racist reasons) so in recent decades, it has simply become known as ...and then there were none and in 1945, the French director Rene Clair took on the book as a feature film and the results are one of the best early sound films of a Christie work.


Distributed at the time by Fox, the amazing cast of people stuck on an island they have been invited too (spoofed in Murder By Death (1976, reviewed elsewhere on this site) from the Neil Simon play) includes Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Judith Anderson, C. Aubrey Smith, Roland Young, June Duprez, Richard Haydn, Harry Thurston and Queenie Leonard as strangers brought together for what seems like an innocent get-together.


However, they have a common denominator and the person responsible for the event is actually there to kill them off, one by one, with the killer amongst them.  Considering this is going on 70 years old (!!!, it sure does not play that badly at all), this has suspense, tension and pace the later remakes and endless (and especially of late, endlessly bad rip-offs) lack.  The cast has chemistry, there is humor, dark humor and real talent that makes each character more than a tired cardboard cutout (like so many bad “stuck-in-a” films of late) and that is why it is more than deserving of a Blu-ray than most films of its kind.


Outside of hit TV shows, this is one of the first Christie feature film adaptations to make it to Blu-ray and it is a nice enough upgrade for a title that has been an early favorite from the VCI Entertainment catalog.  The film became public domain remarkably decades ago, but is a fine mystery that has aged well, holds it own against most in the genre today and is even charming in between the sinister goings-on throughout.


I was really hoping for some extras, but there are 'none' here, which is a mystery to me because this film is so good and worthy of more discussion.



Nick Murphy's Blood (2012) is a feature film remake of a 2004 British TV mini-series called Conviction in which a cop (Paul Bettany) goes too far and his partner and biological brother (Stephen Graham) covers up for him.  At first, they are investigating a gruesome murder, a woman who is the victim of one of those unspeakable crimes.  They have a suspect they are certain is guilty, but the investigation starts to go sour and they start to do their best to make sure the suspect is within their grip until they figure out if he really did it.  This all changes when things take a dark turn and they have to deal with some ugliness neither could have expected.


I will not say much  more save that we have seen this set up before and done more convincingly, though there are some good actors here (Mark Strong and Brian Cox among them), but this plays like a police procedural trying to be dirty and that does not always work.  In the end, I was very disappointed and wondered if the original could have been that good to begin with.


There are no extras.



When I either talk about Hammer Of The Gods (2013) or get asked about it, I have had more than a few cases where people were wondering if a Led Zeppelin film had finally been made, as a book of the same title (and even DVD on the band, reviewed elsewhere on this site) that was a best seller exists.  Instead, it is yet another film set in Medieval times involving the Vikings, bloody battle scene, slow motion, loose history and massive conflicts.  The result of Director Farren Blackburn's (Doctor Who) feature debut is more of a weak Braveheart rehash in a genre that is long played out, down to the cable TV series Spartacus.


Some of it will remind you of the beyond-tired 300, then more of it looks like a British TV series or Mini-Series on the same subject (this one set in 871 A.D. Britain).  The cast of unknowns are not bad and clearly getting into what they are doing, but only the most die hard fans on the subject are going to want to see this and even if made a few years ago or so, there is not much memorable here.


Extras include Interviews, A Making Of featurette, AXS-TV clip on the film and featurette Behind The Visual Effects.



John Hancock's Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971) has been out of print for a while, originally issued on DVD by Paramount, but Warner Archive is reissuing some of their back catalog including this one and it is the same exact DVD transfer we reviewed at this link:




That sadly includes no extras, not even a trailer, but it is a film worth revisiting and with the second remake of a similar key film like Carrie on the way, its timing could not be better as this film asks if Jessica is losing her mind or if she is being betrayed by those around her.



It is interesting that two of the more noted films about terrorism are directed by women, but while Katherine Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty (2011) is a major success that is still being debated, Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) also avoids the trappings and clichés of similar films, yet has many new problems of its own that hold back the story of a young Pakistani (Riz Ahmed) that the CIA thinks is involved with a terror plot, but maybe not.  An agent (Liev Schreiber) struggles to give him the benefit of the doubt as they talk in a Middle Eastern eatery and the tale is told, including with alternate possibilities.


That makes it too much of a flashback film and its look and dealings with the events of 9/11 do not work.  The asides from this are a plus for the film, but they are undone by wacky twists, a film that is not sure what it wants to say and good performances (including from Kiefer Sutherland as the young man's boss in a successful financial business firm) that is trying to ask new questions about the nature of terrorism.


However, it seemed too distant to work, a good individual scene is followed by a few bad ones over and over.  Maybe the novel was good, but the film never adds up, is forgettable and seems very dated on arrival.  At least it takes the subject seriously.


Kate Hudson also stars.


A Trailer and Making Of featurette are the only extras.



Along with Zack Snyder, McG and Brett Ratner, Uwe Boll is one of the worst directors in the business today, yet despite an endless string of disasters, keeps getting to make more product,. But that is all it is.  For some reason, like boredom, he was compelled to remake the 1954 Frank Sinatra film Suddenly, but this 2013 version is a very, very pale copy of the much more interesting original despite Ray Liotta heading a cast that may be trying to maker this work, but have a horrid director to make the worst possible decision every time.


The plot concerns men who show up at a residential home as agents protecting the president, but they are lying and up to no good, having to do with an assassination plot against the President Of the United States (played by an actor meant to look like Barack Obama) but this is dull and flat, you never believe a minute of it and all I could think of was how much better the original film was and still is.


Shot in Canada, it even has a bring look, so skip this time killer unless you MUST see it for some reason.  Michael Pare and Dominic Purcell also star.


There are thankfully no extras, but you can read more about the original 1954 film at these links:


HD Cinema Classics/Film Chest Blu-ray w/DVD



Image Entertainment Blu-ray





Peter Bogdanovich's mixed thriller Targets (1967) has also been out of print for a while and like Let's Scare Jessica To Death, it was a Paramount release that Warner Archive is reissuing on DVD.  Boris Karloff (in his last major film role) plays a film executive sick of the business as a very unbalanced young man (Tim O'Kelly) is secretly gathering firearms and goes on a shooting spree to terrorize Hollywood and Los Angeles at large.  Karloff's producer has made his share of thrillers and even acted in them at one time, but real life is about to come calling and it will not be pretty.


The film combines 20 minutes of older Karloff footage from an older Roger Corman film with 20 minutes of new Karloff footage shot in a few days by Bogdanovich, who then added about 50 more minutes of dramatic footage resulting in a film that has gained a cult following, set in place  Bogdanovich's capacity (with his production company Saticoy) to produce a few hit film classics in a row (see The Last Picture Show and What's Up Doc? reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and works enough that people still talk about it.


I am not as much of a fan and find it uneven, but Karloff is good, the new footage is well shot by the great Laszlo Kovacs, A.S.C., and it shows a real love of filmmaking from all involved.  It is worth seeing once just to see a major filmmaker of the American New Wave find his way and to see Karloff still able to deliver a top performance.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Bogdanovich and an introduction by Bogdanovich he taped on camera many years ago.



The one thing I can say about Kieran Darcy-Smith's Wish You Were Here (2011) is that the actors are doing an exceptional job and this might include Joel Egerton's best acting performance to date, but this Australian thriller starts to lose its way after a half-hour and not only never recovers, but becomes incredibly predictable until its would-be twist conclusion that wants to have a shocking conclusion only to ring untrue, false and hollow.


Even if “it could happen” as is shown, that is not enough and the lack of edge and trying something different like we have seen in so many great Aussie films is absent here too much.  Still, Darcy-Smith can direct and I want to see all these actors again, so that counts for something.


Extras include a nice section of smart Cast/Crew interviews and a Making-of featurette.




The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition black and white image on None is about as good as the film has ever looked on home video, but is a bit darker than I might have liked at times, yet it is a serious improvement over VCI's much older DVD pressing and outside of whatever qualities the public domain Image Entertainment DVD might have had, this is probably the best the film will look until someone gets a better print and/.or spends more money to fix it up; a treatment it deserves.  As it stands, you can see details previously missing.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Suddenly remake is stylized to its disadvantage and has enough flaws and the usual issues with Boll's films that it not only does not look better than the 1945 Christie film, it cannot top Image's Blu-ray of the 1954 original, so don’t expect much from the performance here.


The 1080p  2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Blood, Hammer and Fundamentalist also have their own styling issues that hold their performance back a bit, with Blood trying to be darker at times than it should be, Hammer gong for monochromatic color overdone in its genre and Fundamentalist with its share of shaky camerawork, lack of detail and downstyling (sandy overexposure is clichéd indeed) so they may not be as annoying as the Suddenly remake in their approaches, but they all suffer for their aesthetic choices.


So to my surprise, the older anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on the Jessica DVD can pretty much compete with all the Blu-rays here, not because it is so stunning, but because it is a consistent transfer from a consistent print.  Sure, you can see shots where it is obviously standard definition, yet color, depth and detail have held up between pressings.


That leave the two poor performers on the list as the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Targets and the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Here are softer than they ought to be and for different reasons.  Targets is simply an older transfer that dulls the detail and Pathé color, while Here is an HD shoot whose downtraded image is soft and stylized to be so, adding up to too much softness.


As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Reluctant Fundamentalist is the sonic winner with the best soundfield, best mix, best recording and best dynamic range, with similar DTS-MA 5.1 mixes on Blood, Hammer and Suddenly are too much towards the front channels and Hammer can have some harsh edges it should not have.


The PCM 2.0 Mono on None, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Here and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Jessica are next in line the sonics department, with the older two films showing their age and newest one (Here) with a generally weak soundfield.  They are fine for what we get, but could all be better.


That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Targets the disappointment, a generation or two down like its image and even with its low budget should sound better and in real life, likely does.



To order Let's Scare Jessica To Death and Targets, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com