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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Murder > Haunted House > Demons > Possession > Exorcism > Natural Disaster > TV Mi > The Conjuring (2013/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Exploding Sun (2013/Gaiam Vivendi Blu-ray)/Mindwarp (1990/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Nightmare Honeymoon (1973/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/The Other (

The Conjuring (2013/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Exploding Sun (2013/Gaiam Vivendi Blu-ray)/Mindwarp (1990/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Nightmare Honeymoon (1973/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/The Other (1972/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Blu-ray Picture: B- DVD Picture: C+ Sound: B- & C+/C+/B-/C+/C+ Extras: C-/C-/C/C/C Films: C-/C-/C/C/C

PLEASE NOTE: The Mindwarp and Other Blu-rays are exclusively from Twilight Time, are limited to 3,000 copies, while the Nightmare Honeymoon DVD is only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and all can be ordered from their respective links below.

In time for Halloween 2013, here are five more genre releases with their own degrees of horror that are somewhat diverse, but not all that successful.

We start with James Wan's The Conjuring (2013), a dull, bad would-be tale of a house possessed by demons. Of course, they stay at the house no matter what instead of leaving, calling the police, calling the media, etc. and of course, people die. An inexplicably cynical hit, it wastes the talents of actors like Lily Taylor (who already made one horrible haunted house film with DreamWorks hideous 1999 remake of The Haunting), Ron Livingston, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, though it wastes the time of the view also.

Based on the files of the same couple who unveiled the Amityville Horror fiasco, there is no suspense here, the children-in-jeopardy is on the level of a bad reality TV show, the digital effects are lame, the sound design overdone and is so many generations away from an original idea, that one would call that the true source of any terror here.

Then there is the mysterious devil doll Annabelle, who we see a few times, never talks (i.e., never turns into Chucky, the doll in the so-called real life was allegedly Raggedy Ann) and only moves on its own once. Set in 1971, the actors never seem like they live in that era and having old cars and supposedly period clothes do not cut it for authenticity. A real yawner, it just gets more ridiculous as it goes on and is one of the most overrated big releases of 2013.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, the bonus DVD version and three featurettes that try to convince us this is based on a true story in vein.

As bad is Michael Robison's Exploding Sun (2013), the latest bad Sci-fi TV mini-=series out of canada that has even more bad digital visual effects, bad dialogue, lame plot twists and deadly sun flares that destroys everything but copies of the teleplay these poor actors have to read from. The underrated Julia Ormond (Smilla's Sense Of Snow) and David James Elliott (from the overrated TV mess JAG) are given little to do, the digital graphics are as dated on arrival as the effects and this runs on and on for 176 minutes in the so-called extended edition.

I can see why a cut down version exists. No sleeping pills needed here.

Five cast interviews are the only extras.

Steve Barnett's Mindwarp (1991) are the first of our two Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays here and this is a cult curio that was the first of Fangoria Magazine's attempts to break into feature film production, bringing Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead films) and Angus Scrimm (the Phantasm films) in a post-apocalyptic tale where a young woman (Marta Alicia) becomes aware that she and her mother are being hooked into a cyber dream system to sleep their life away and not know about the ravaged post-nuclear world outside.

Confronting a powerful being who controls things, she is cast outside for the worst, but the script then goes back and forth without even knowing itself which is which as she has to deal with scavengers on a killing spree, et al, but also a potential hero (Campbell) who she starts to get involved with personally. The problem is that this is all over the place and though it has some interesting moments and visuals, it becomes a time capsule of dying independent genre film production and is such a product of the 1980s (then-portable technology, too much latex make-up work and clunky designs) that it is amusing at best, but not much else.

Acting and directing is mixed too, but at least the film (which will remind fans of better films like the Verhoeven Total Recall (1990) or the likes of Logan's Run (1976) or even Clonus (1979, all reviewed elsewhere on this site) that were all better films. At least we have a solid, quality edition of the film so everyone can see for themselves, while supplies last at least.

Extras include another illustrated booklet on the film including a thorough essay by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray disc adds an isolated music score track and a TV spot that looks like an industrial promo for video stores at the end.

Elliot Silverstein took over the thriller Nightmare Honeymoon (1973) for MGM after the great Nicolas Roeg left it for reasons unknown as we post this review, but from what we can see, it seems he was likely trying to make something akin to what he did with Don't Look Now. A newlywed couple (Dack Rambo, Rebecca Dianna Smith) are at a party thrown by her father when they engage in a weird tradition the film (in either cut on this DVD) never explains: suddenly leaving the party to see if the guests can catch them.

Instead, they are hidden and making out when they hear noise and witness a brutal, cold-blooded murder, making this into a cat & mouse chase game complete with sexual assault and a desire to compete with the major B-movie horror hits of the day. The film's ad campaign rips off the original Last House On The Left.

Pat Hingle is her father, John Beck is the main psycho and we get plenty of two-dimensional Southern folks throughout. There are some interesting moments and scenes, but they do not add up to enough of a good film in the longer TV cut or better, more graphic, shorter theatrical edition despite the potential here. Silverstein fared better a few years later with The Car (1977) showing he could direct suspense for a big screen, but this is just not a good film despite its ambitions. It is also exploitive (maybe Roeg left because that is what MGM wanted) and only its original Elmer Bernstein music score keeps it going. Now you can see for yourself.

Extras include the 1.33 X 1 TV version that is unnecessarily longer and an original theatrical trailer.

Finally we have the supernatural thriller of sorts, Robert Mulligan's The Other (1972) which like Roeg's Don't Look Now suggests metaphysical spiritual connection between the living and the dead who might have some unhealthy ideas for the mortal world. This one is set during the Depression and Mulligan has twins playing brothers and handling their acting performances as well as he did in his films of Summer Of '42 and To Kill A Mockingbird, but we also have adults who despite their knowledge and maturity are ultimately unaware of all the horror that is about to slowly (and I mean slowly) transpire.

In this case, it is way too slow, it is more of a drama than horror film despite how it was promoted, any suspense is undercut by its flatness and the screenplay by actor/writer Thomas Tryon (who penned I Married A Monster From Outer Space, reviewed on DVD elsewhere on this site) never becomes campy, but is not memorable when all is said and done. Supporting work by Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur, Louis Frizzell, an then-unknown John Ritter and Victor French in an odd, thankless turn make this interesting here and there and it has its following. I just cannot recommend it unless you feel this is a must see.

Extras include another illustrated booklet on the film including a thorough essay once again by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray disc adds an isolated music score track by Jerry Goldsmith that keeps this going along more than it would otherwise and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on all four Blu-rays, save 1.78 X 1 on Sun, transfers are each other's equals, but for different reasons. Conjuring and Sun are stylized HD shoots with their various flaws and limits, but the shots are generic throughout, while Mindwarp and Other are 35mm film shoots with prints that show their age.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Nightmare and Conjuring are right behind looking fairly good, but not great. The 1.33 X 1 TV version of Nightmare shows more frame at the top and bottom, but has pretty much the same MetroColor.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Conjuring and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix (derived from its original analog Ultra Stereo theatrical release) on Mindwarp are on even par as the best on the list. The former has many moments of silence and an awkward mix, while the latter is not too distorted and decodes well in Pro Logic mode.

That leaves a second/last place tie between the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Sun disappointing with its limited range, recording issues & being too close to the front channels, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both copies of Nightmare showing its age despite decent recordings and transfers, the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Conjuring DVD being weaker than the DTS on the Blu-ray and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on Other having some harshness and slight shrillness at its edges despite its isolated music score by Jerry Goldsmith in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix sounding just fine.

As noted above, you can order the Nightmare Honeymoon DVD by going to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


and to order Mindwarp and The Other limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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