Berlin File (2013/CJ
Bird With The Crystal Plumage
(2013/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/The
Name Of The Game Is Kill
(1968/aka The Female
Night Visitor (1970/VCI
C+/B/C+/B- & C+/C/C Sound: C+/B-/C+/C+& C/C/C Extras:
C/C+/C-/C-/C+/C- Films: B-/B-/C-/C-/C/C
is a group of old and new thrillers you should know about...
Seung-Wan's The Berlin File
(2013) is the big surprise here, a spy thriller from Korea that is
not just a Martial Arts exercise with an incidental spy background,
but one from the director of the decent City
Of Violence (reviewed
elsewhere on this site) about a case that manages to cross and
entangle the CIA, Mossad, Russians, North Koreans and South Koreans
in a well thought out tale of assassination, betrayal and the
technical heisting of billions of dollars from the North Koreans as
its longtime leader is replaced.
leaves us with a ghost agent (Jung-woo Ha as Pyo) who has to juggle
new enemies, old enemies, friends turning on him and maybe even his
wife betraying him in a 2-hour romp that never gets boring and avoids
most of the problems similar Hollywood features in the genre keep
running into. Smart yet realistic with solid action sequences, this
should be a much bigger hit in the U.S. where someone sooner or later
is going to try to remake it. It is so good, I expect a sequel.
include a Making Of featurette and Deleted Scenes.
we have the latest release of Dario Argento's The
Bird With The Crystal Plumage
(1970) which we are now reviewing for the fourth time and in its
second of 3 known Blu-ray editions to begin with. You can read about
the film and its now out-of-print Blue Underground Blu-ray edition at
still think the film is interesting, holds up and has Argento's style
in total, plus Tony Mustaine just passed away, so it was a bonus to
see his fine performance here in a newly transferred version. We'll
get to more of the technical details on this one below, but fans
should know this is an edition to get ASAP.
for this version include the Original Theatrical Trailer and the
Original Music Score by Ennio Morricone in uncompressed PCM sound
separate from the film, but as if it were its own album release.
Harlin's Devil's Pass
(2012) is the action director's belated entry into the found footage,
mysterious disappearance cycle that has been one of the worst in
recent decades. This time, some college students (who seem a bit
airheaded) get a financial grant (how!?!) to investigate how many
decades ago, a group of Russian men disappeared in the Ural Mountains
in 1959. Why no one questions the wisdom of doing this or why there
has been a lack of investigation for 54 years is moire logic out the
window, but here they go and they are dragging us along with them.
things do not go as planned, hey joke too much on their video cameras
and this starts to especially look like a really bad rehash of
Romero's very disappointing Diary
Of The Dead (reviewed
elsewhere on this site) but the eventual twists and turns are so lame
that it is as if the writers jut threw in anything and the effects
people overcompensated. Instead of rooting for any killers, you'll
include a feature length audio commentary track by Director Harlin &
Producer Kia Jam, a Making Of featurette, Original Theatrical Trailer
and Deleted Scenes.
Wan's Insidious, Chapter 2
(2013) is a very boring, obvious, lame, tired and supernaturally
predictable sequel to the 2010 original film and a cousin of the also
flat and dull, yet profitable The
from earlier this year (both reviewed elsewhere on this site). Like
its predecessors, instead of torture porn, we get potentially
supernatural horror, but it only happens on occasion with the
audience expected to read the would-be terror into the ultra
Wilson is back with Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey as the Lambert
Family just cannot seem to leave their house or the horror it
contains. Like the other films, there is plenty of potential in the
cast and situation, but any actual story is very thin. The fact that
the new film is dubbed a chapter
shows even the makers know the actual screenplay could barely fill a
chapter of a small novel. They are yawning their way all the way to
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes
capable devices, while both format version have two Making
Of featurettes, but the Blu-ray adds two more, 3 webisodes tied to
this bore and Work In Progress: On Set Q&A with lots
of boring Qs and just as many forgettable As.
Name Of The Game Is Kill
(1968) is one of those curios like the original Willard
or Medak's Negatives
that you cannot seem to find, but VCI has gained the rights and a
print (from superfan Joe Dante) so the film is finally available. A
few years after he was the first Felix Leiter in Dr.
No (1962) and just as he
was about to start his long run on the original Hawaii
5-0, Jack Lord plays a
Hungarian guy (complete with an accent he could have used on the
original Mission: Impossible) who gets a ride from a gal and lands up
at her family's home.
something strange is going on there and he is unaware of it at first.
When he tried to leave quietly not suspecting anything is wrong,
something bad happens to him, but he is dumb enough to return just
the same. Logic is not a strong point of the screenplay, but oddity
is and there are some wacky and unintentionally hilarious moments
here, thanks in part to co-stars Susan Strasberg, Tisha Sterling and
Marc Desmond. A fitting music score by Stu Philips is a plus and
though this one does not always add up, it is worth a look for any
serious film fans and especially horror and thriller fan. I had not
seen this in eons, so the surprises were fun all over again.
include a feature length audio commentary track by Screenplay Writer
Gary Crucher & Daniel Griffith, Rare TV Spots, Extensive
Promotional Gallery, an Interviews Gallery, a Making Of
featurette entitled Psycho's Sister and Schlockmeister: Joe
Solomon On Reels about the
Distributor and Producer who originally released this film.
Benedek's The Night
Visitor (1970) attempts
to make a smart thriller out of Ingmar Bergman elements including
several veterans of his films on a tale about a man (Max Von Sydow)
sent to a mental institute for being an ax murderer, but the real
story may not be as simple. He escapes to get back at those who
crossed him, but in a way that makes those holding him think he is in
the asylum so when and if they complain, they'll seem like they are
losing their minds. Liv Ullmann, Per Oscarsson, Trevor Howard,
Rupert Davies and Andrew Keir round out a decent cast.
the film produces more atmosphere than suspense or thrills, but it
has some good moments and is an interesting change of pace for all.
I like the look of the film and how odd it tends to be, so we have
here a potential cult item. Henry Mancini also helps with an
original music score that keeps the film moving.
Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Bird
and Insidious Blu-rays are the best two visual performers here
as expected, but Insidious has more weakness than expected
throughout and lands up not being able to match or outdo VCI's fine
restoration of Vittorio Storaro's work from a film that is now 43
years old and counting. The transfer can at times show the age of
the materials used, but it is a Techniscope shoot and will have more
grain than expected. The big question is, how does it compare to the
out of print Blue Underground version?
starters, it is superior to all previous DVD versions, as well as the
controversial 2 X 1 Univisum revision Storaro did himself as issued
on Arrow U.K. Blu-ray and DVD, which cut off the sides, took too many
liberties with the color and sadly (sorry, Mr. Storaro) ruined the
compositions. This is a scope film and should be seen as such. One
of the reasons besides extras the Blue Underground version is
valuable is the transfer, but I can say with great certainty that
this VCI Blu-ray can more than compete with that edition.
compared to each other, color and frame area are very similar, but in
some shots, the color and clarity on the VCI are better than the Blue
underground version, then in others it is the opposite. There is a
four year difference in the releases, but VCI has some of the rich
of a Chromoscope (Eastmancolor) 35mm print version of the film you
would expect from such a print. Like both very much, but now, fans
do not have to get the more expensive version to enjoy the film.
Only a very expensive restoration would produce better results in
anamorphically enhanced DVD of Insidious
is weaker than either Blu-ray, but not as soft and awful as it could
have been, yet the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1
image on the RED EPIC-shot Berlin and anamorphically enhanced
1.85 X 1 image on the digitally-shot Pass can more than match
I on DVD with consistent image quality, even if it can be softer than
we would have liked. Berlin would benefit best from a Blu-ray
release and could edge out Insidious in a match-up.
leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Kill (from
an unrestored print) and 1.33 X 1 (miscredited as anamorphically
enhanced 1.78 X 1) on Night as the poor performers, though
both have fine Directors of Photography (Vilmos Zsigmond on Kill,
Henning Kristiansen (Babette's Feast, Peter Brook's King
Lear (1971) on Night) with both possessing great
character. They need HD upgrades down the line and deserve them.
for sound, Insidious
has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix here mixed down from
its Dolby Atmos 11.1 release, but you would never know that since the
dialogue and other sounds that should be across at least the front
channels are all too often coming from the center channel. What were
they thinking? As a result, the PCM 2.0 Mono on Bird
actually sounds better and more consistent throughout and the lossy
Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on Berlin
can equal it. The same type of 5.1 mix on the Insidious
DVD has the same mixdown issue and sounds worse, so the old,
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Kill
(flaws, age and all) can compete with it.