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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Haunted House > Satanism > Speculation > Killer Puppet > Serial Killers > Cult > C > The Castle Project (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Curse Of Chucky (2013/aka Chucky 6/Unrated/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Snuff (1976/Blue Underground Blu-ray)

The Castle Project (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Curse Of Chucky (2013/aka Chucky 6/Unrated/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Snuff (1976/Blue Underground Blu-ray)

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

Now for some new horror releases you should know about...

Brian Higgins' The Castle Project (2013) allegedly exposes a haunted mansion in Denver (maybe its just the thin air playing with people's minds) but the HD-shot production that insists the place is haunted, talks to all kinds of people, shows its so-called evidence and does this for 76 very, very long minutes ending in none of this being convincing and even silly.

At least it is not edited with so many cutaways and with the abundance of tired shaky camera work we have seen in this sub-genre of would-be supernatural expose, but in the end, it never works, it is weak, totally unconvincing and a waste of my time. Unless you really, really, really enjoy this kind of thing, skip it.

A trailer is the only extra.

Don Mancini's Curse Of Chucky (2013) is the sudden 6th film in the on and off series, but this time, the writers and makers have decided to end the all out comic approach and get back to the mean, sick, dark, suspenseful version of the killer doll and though they succeed greatly at this, it only brings us back to just about everything we'd seen in the original trilogy. That is welcome news for fans and a nice break from the endless shlock and amazingly sloppy, bad work in the genre of the lats few years from low budget to big budget works.

This also happens to be in time for the arrival of another new killer doll, The Conjuring's Annabelle, but the makers manage to keep Chucky quiet at first, building up the suspense and allowing the tension to build. The film is not shy about being graphic, but does this with timing and effect with discipline rarely seen in the genre today. Even if we have seen it all before, at least they pulled that much off. This is still for fans only, but they will be pretty happy.

Extras include Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray exclusives include Storyboard Comparisons, Living Doll and Voodoo Doll featurettes and both format offer a feature length audio commentary track by Mancini, Puppeteer Tony Gardner & Star Fiona Dourif, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel and a Making Of featurette entitled Playing With Dolls.

Finally we have the infamous 1976 release Snuff, a film shot cheap in South America where “life is cheap” as the ads tell us, though this was before the U.S.A. became the greatest debtor nation versus the greatest creditor nation it was at the time of the film's release. It was sold as a film made by sick people who are brutally killing woman on camera and selling the results for profit, getting the film banned in many states and causing an FBI investigation. The film was a fraud, but the hype worked and it made money as the sweepstakes in the horror/exploitation genre was in full swing to have films that outdid each other for outrageousness, though this is not a Horror genre work per se.

The actual film is an outright exploiter with some tough angry gals torturing and killing all kinds of people, who turn out to be lead by a Charles Manson type, but the cheap, sloppy work is all over the place, has a child molesting moment for bad measure and ends in more bloodshed, but the U.S. distributor knew the film was bad and would not sell until he came up with the idea of adding a epilog scene that tells the audience all they have been watching is a film production (deconstruction) only (SPOILER ALERT!!!) for the makers to take an actress on the set, hold her down, rape, torture, mutilate her and kill her in one final bloodfest that says the murder and blood is all over the place.

By today's standards, it is still gruesome and deserved its X-rating for violence and gore, but it is garbage and it knows it, os only it as a curio and for the scenes that are not so graphic is it watchable at all. In this era of so much hate, Torture Porn and genre gore excess, some of this sadly seems somewhat tame, but it is the ad campaign and reputation of the film that was a larger success than the content of the actual film in any cut.

Filmmaker Paul Schrader once said that the idea of a snuff film was actually more disturbing than the actual film to people on immediate consideration and Joel Schumacher's underrated 8MM (with Nicolas Cage, reviewed elsewhere on this site) dealt with the issue as a murder thriller inspired by Schrader's own underrated Hardcore (1978) which likely inspired his comments. Horror fans and film completists should see this film once, but don't expect much. It is not that good, that real (which is a relief in that no one was killed for profit) and now Blue Underground has this infamous curio on Blu-ray so everyone can see it for what it really is.

Extras include a Controversy Gallery with text, Posters & Stills Gallery, optional Nicolas Winding Refn intro to the film, U.S. Trailer, German trailer, a text essay on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and three Making Of featurettes: Shooting Snuff, Up To Snuff and Porn Buster.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Castle DVD is soft throughout, has image flaws (some intended, some just sloppy) that makes this additionally hard to watch and is not in the visual league of the few better-shot variants of this kind of visually played-out look.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Chucky is an HD shoot that has some good shots, but also some soft ones and bad ones, though this is often saved by some unusually good composition at times. The anamorphically enhanced DVD is much softer and harder to watch as a result.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Snuff was shot on 16mm film and though the print used can show the age of the materials used, this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film. Color is the big surprise here, looking decent and offering a few really good shots, while blood is always very red. You can also more obviously see the stock type and quality switch at the end of the film with its added ending.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Castle is also the weakest audio presentation here from location audio issues (some faked?) to plenty of rough audio that makes this one a real patchwork of a mix.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Chucky is the big surprise on the list as after so many bad and lame horror genre mixes of late, the makers actually knew what they were doing and create a solid, consistent, warm soundfield that understands sound design, suspense and the genre. Everything including the dialogue is exceptionally well recoded and mixed, making this possibly the best sounding film in the series. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is sadly much weaker and barely gives a hint of how good this is.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 lossless Mono on Snuff has been cleaned up and sounds as good as it ever will considering the dubbing and cheap budget.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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