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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Teens > Murder > Sex > Film Industry > Horror > Terror > Slasher > Kidnapping > Sex Trade > Exploit > All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/The Canyons (Unrated Director's Cut/2013/MPI/IFC Blu-ray)/Mischief Night (2013/Image DVD)/The Seasoning House (2012/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/Triple C

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/The Canyons (Unrated Director's Cut/2013/MPI/IFC Blu-ray)/Mischief Night (2013/Image DVD)/The Seasoning House (2012/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/Triple Cross (1966/Warner Archive DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Triple Cross DVD is only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here are some thrillers that want to be more based in reality than usual, but that does not necessarily help them become great films...

Jonathan Levine's All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) starts out as the usual teen tension film with the title character (Amber Heard in an early performance) is the gal many of the guys at school want to be with, some of the gals are jealous of and of course, her male friend (while not gay) is safe and not the most masculine guy. Of course, an unlikely group gets together for a weekend that likely will not be functionally fun, so bad things happen (and they're still shocked?) but for the first half hour, this is well acted, well cast and has some promise.

After that, things become more convoluted, more bad things (expected by everyone by the characters and makers, we surmise) happen and then, this becomes bloody, violent and ridiculous at the halfway point. Going into horror and even torture porn territory, the script becomes very desperate and rather smug in its twists and turns that get so dumb, you understand why this is being released as a curio now. Too bad, because they had things going to begin with, but not much to say, so this becomes a tired exploitation film when all is said and done. The actors who had careers afterwards are lucky they did.

A feature length audio commentary track by the director is the only extra.

Paul Schrader's The Canyons (2013) is another curio with even more potential. Landing Lindsay Lohan (acting and as co-producer) in a sex thriller with explicit adult sex entertainment star James Deen is so obviously lurid that the downfalls were many, but here was Schrader (who wrote Taxi Driver and wrote & directed the likes of American Gigolo, Hardcore, Light Sleeper and other looks at the dark side of life) but this would be off of a new screenplay by Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, Rules Of Attraction, American Psycho) so you would think their might be some synergy between the two. Schrader making up for the vapid, empty sense of Ellis works that become almost spoofs of themselves in that respect when they hit the big screen.

The opening credits have a series of closed and rotting movie theaters and cineplexes, pointing to the death of art, cinema near death and a Hollywood that may slowly be losing its soul if not worse, so when we join the characters and in their various relationships and in what will be more than a few sex games, that is supposed to add up. Too bad Less Than Zero was already making that point 25 years ago.

Then we meet the somewhat vapid characters, know something is going to go wrong and bad as people who seem happy are talking in ways and on subjects that can only bring misery, especially when the opening conversations instantly become about propriety in relationships and throwing that all out. As in all previous Ellis works, straight men will suddenly have gay sex out of nowhere and other excess of sex, drugs and potential self-destruction out of control will surface, but again, nothing new. So what did Schrader add?

Nothing new. The script is a repeat of everything Ellis has already penned and instead of trying to flush out the characters and put all into a more realistic context, we get half-baked sex scenes, everything we have seen before, Lohan in less scenes than you might expect, Deen actually giving somewhat of a credible acting performance and 99 minutes that just run on and on and on until they finish gong nowhere. Any violence and sex her is not that graphic when we see it at all and I noticed odd censorship just the same (it needs a separate essay to address), so the Schrader and Ellis worlds land up not cohering much at all and this becomes the disappointment I had hoped it would not be. To give it more credibility in vain, Gus Van Sant (we're supposed to think of My Own Private Idaho, we gather) has a scene as Deen's psychiatrist. That did not help either and the script should have developed more ideas than the obvious button-pressing moments we get too often.

A trailer, Creating The Canyons mini-featurettes with no narration and a Making Of interviews featurette are the only extras.

Richard Schenkman's Mischief Night (2013) takes place on October 30, known as Devil's Night, but that title was likely used already, so we get a different title. The plot here (what there is of it) is a blind gal (Noell Coet) who has become so psychologically from a car accident is being watched by a serial killer in a mask. From there, this is supposed to be a suspenseful thriller, but the only suspense we get here is the beams holding up the house she lives in and even adding Daniel Hugh Kelly (a one-time potential leading man) and Ally Walker (from the hit X-Files knock-off Profiler) are supposed to add further credible tension and though they give good performances, this script is a dud and this even seems long at 86 minutes.

Of course, the great Brian Clemens tried the blind gal in trouble with Mia Farrow in See No Evil (1971, aka Blind Terror) with mixed results and James Bond alumni Terrence Young (see below) had spectacular results with Audrey Hepburn in the 1967 thriller Wait Until Dark as the classic example of how this can work. Schenkman and company are several generations away from this working and despite some promise ands signs of ambition, this also disappoints.

A Behind The Scenes featurette is the only extra.

Paul Hyett's The Seasoning House (2012) is a British-made thriller that takes on a far more serious topic, illegal sex trafficking of vulnerable young women, with the title referring to a place for soldiers in Russia to have sex with said forced prostitutes in forced prostitution. It can get graphic, disturbing and ugly with echoes of the Nazi's Joy Division that functioned the same way. However, this becomes more of a horror outing with clich├ęs and gore on a dirty torture porn level that does nothing to forward any important points, narrative and makes what could have been a seriously good film an exploitation flick.

Sean Pertwee is the angry, bad Russian head soldier who kills the mother of young Angel (Rosie Day) who is abducted on the spot, kidnapped and stuck against her will in the title locale. Because she has a birthmark on her face, she becomes the personal fave of the idiot guy running the place, but she is casing it all to survive and eventually escape if she can. After a set of disturbing set-ups, this becomes a formulaic thriller that quickly goes downhill and never recovers to say the least. This is one house that should be condemned for good.

A trailer and Making Of featurette are the only extras.

Finally we have Terence Young's Triple Cross (1966), his follow-up to his massive worldwide hot James Bond film Thunderball (1965) and the epic war thriller he made before the already noted Wait Until Dark. Like Tony Scott after him, every Young project became a big film project with name stars and great potential, but like Scott, the realization was too often mixed as is the case here. Based on a true WWII tale, Christopher Plummer is an expert thief who is arrested and forced to help the Nazis, but instead of double crossing the Allies, he is helping them, making him a triple agent and thus the title of the film.

The amazing supporting cast includes Yul Brynner, Gert Frobe, Romy Schneider, Trevor Howard, Claudine Auger and uncredited turns by Gordon Jackson and Anthony Dawson means there is no shortage of fine acting talent here, but Young tries to play against the visual form of his Bond films despite hiring more than a few key actors from them and at 126 minutes gets weighted down in what it tries to do not unlike Lewis Gilbert's The Adventurers (1970, reviewed twice elsewhere on this site including in Warner Archive's DVD reissue) and has good moments mixed with almost as many that do not work. Still, it is worth a look for what does work and is as good as anything on this list.

There are unfortunately no extras.

All three Blu-rays have evenly matched performance in their 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers all offering various styled down and even degraded visual approaches and all HD shoots, save Mandy which combined Super 35mm and 35mm anamorphic Panavision to get its look. Flaws and all, they look as good as they are ever going to.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Mischief is also styled to be dark and is much softer with the approach to the point that it is a poor HD shoot. That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 image on Cross the most professional shoot on the list, shot on 35mm film and was actually originally issues in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints, but the transfer is soft and has its share of haloing, though you can see how good the color must have been in many shots.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the three DVDs are a tie for the sonic best on the list, but the soundfields on all three are lackingly inconsistent and have their quiet moments as well. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Mischief and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Cross tie for second/last place and sound good, but the former is weaker than expected and latter holding up better than expected for its age.

To order Triple Cross, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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