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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Killer > Psychopath > Thriller > Literature > Documentary > Slasher > Film Business > Sci > Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920/Barrymore/Paramount/Kino Blu-ray)/Never Sleep Again (2010/Image Blu-ray set)/Plus One (2013/MPI/IFC DVD)/The Power (1968/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/The Prey (2011/Cohen Media

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920/Barrymore/Paramount/Kino Blu-ray)/Never Sleep Again (2010/Image Blu-ray set)/Plus One (2013/MPI/IFC DVD)/The Power (1968/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/The Prey (2011/Cohen Media Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Power DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the links below.

This is a set of thrillers all our readers should know about...

We start with a real classic, the 1920 John S. Robertson Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde with John Barrymore made at Paramount Pictures and one of the true silent horror classics. Kino is issuing an expanded, restored version of the classic in High Definition and it easily makes all previous editions obsolete. Still one of the best adaptations of the book ever made, Barrymore was at his best here pulling off a great performance and playing Henry Jekyll as classy as he played Hyde in hideous creepiness. Partly inspired by the stage version, this horror classic might be Hollywood's (and the U.S.A.'s) first full length horror film. It is a landmark in so many ways.

The look is atmospheric for its age and holds up very well 94 years later and counting, the supporting cast good, sets fine, it never looks too stage bound and even the title cards often have great creepy illustrations to go with them. But best of all, the film never misses anything from the original Robert Louis Stevenson book and very few versions after (the 1931 Fredric March version in particular) could compete with it. If you love horror and great filmmaking, this is a must-see, must-have release all serious fans will love.

Extras include a 1909 Columbia Records recording version of
The Transformation Scene from the book that plays like early radio drama and runs just under 3 minutes, Stan Laurel's amusing 1925 spoof of the book Dr. Pyckle & Mr. Pride, 15 minutes of the competing 1920 MGM Jekyll film with Sheldon Lewis produced by Louis B. Meyer that was no match for this one and a 12 minutes long silent 1912 version of the book on film from Thanhouser Studios with James Cruze in he title role that has its moments. I had hoped the 1913 Kinemacolor version with Murdock MacQuarrie might be here, but maybe it is lost. Universal made one in 1913 as well in black & white with King Baggot that is not lost, but who knows if a good print it out there. It also is not here, but these other rare extras are priceless and are also musts for all serious fans.

At nearly 4 hours, Never Sleep Again (2010) is a massive look at the rise and entire run of the original Nightmare On Elm Street series with Robert Englund and leaves few stones unturned talking about how the first film came together at a company that was so small and then helped put them on the map, yet they did not make hardly any money on it due to selling too much of the rights to raise the budget, so it became a longer series and made child-killer and supernatural dream invader/tormentor Freddie Kruger a pop culture and horror icon. It is almost everything you could want to know about the series with rare still, video clips, films clips and interview footage to go with all the new interviews.

Not the biggest fan of the series, the cheapness then is actually fun and ambitious in a way it never could have been originally now that we have been besieged by so much (and so much bad) digital visual effects and once again shows how hard work and collaboration makes memorable cinema, even if it is not always great. It also gives us a look at the industry at the time New Line was independent (though it missed how Turner Entertainment bought and owned the company before Time Warner) and more industry tales (even in the supplements) would have been welcomed, but that is not the focus even if there was more to say and show.

This is a double Blu-ray set and the only extras on Blu-ray One is a feature length audio commentary track by the makers, while Blu-ray Two adds more Cast/Crew interviews, a funny featurette on how silly an early videogame based on the films was, a featurette that goes back to the Elm Street that inspired the series called Horror's Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street, a featurette on the tie-in comic books & novels, the first film compressed in 10 minutes, a First Look at Heather Langenkamp's I Am Nancy, For The Love Of The Glove featurette, Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans featurette, The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Songwriter of the series, Elm Street's Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak featurette and a Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Teaser Trailer. Fans will love this, while the rest might find this more compelling than imagined, even if you are not a fan of the series.

Though the DVD case for Plus One (2013) says it is from the director of Last House On The Left, they do not mean Wes Craven, but Dennis Iliadis responsible for the hideous remake a few years ago no one wants to talk about anymore. You'd know why if you suffered through it. Four years later, he is back with a tale of teens who start seeing double (duplicates of themselves) when unknown to them, an outer space alien meteorite lands near a party they are taking part in and starts affecting the electricity among other things.

The attempt to do a twist on Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and the like (they say they are not doing comedy in the extras, but that is not totally true) does feature some good unknown actors (Rhys Wakefield, Ashley Hinshaw, Natalie Hall and an especially comically gifted Logan Miller) with flat script with no suspense and Iliadis' uncanny ability to make people boring to the point of dehumanizing them, intended or not. We'll consider more of the former.

Then there are the digital effects which the production is too self-impressed with to the point of being nearly smug and what might have been half-interesting turns into a dud over and over again. The World's End just did nearly the same scenario as a dark comedy and managed to capture the genre much better with far more suspense, better visual effects and better pacing. Let's hope more than four years pass before anyone gives Iliadis money to shoot another feature, or even a TV commercial or anything else ever. He is one of the biggest hacks out there.

Extras include a Poster Gallery, Cast Auditions, a feature length audio commentary track, regular & Red Band Original Theatrical Trailers, SXSW interview featurette with Iliadis & the three leads talking him up, Deleted Scenes, Zap Entertainment Iliadis interview a Visual FX featurette.

Byron Haskin's The Power (1968) was a big George Pal production at MGM that did not quite do as well as the company had hoped, but it does have a fine cast, is modernist crazy in its locations & designs and was an early film to deal with the concept of the mind moving objects, known as telekinesis. George Hamilton is the lead starting to wonder how and why people keep turning up dead mysteriously, but it all centers around a special research institute he works at that is examining the power of the human mind.

Research seems to be going well until the bodies start piling up, then he has a big fallout with the institution and is asked to leave, yet stays in touch with a lady he likes there (Suzanne Pleshette, then known for Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) before TV immortality on The Bob Newhart Show) and starts seeing things as he is chased and nearly murdered a couple of times. Like Stanley Donen's Arabesque (1966, reviewed elsewhere on this site), the script borrows more than a little of Hitchcock's North By Northwest (1959, see the Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and also wants to be an adult thriller while retaining its fantasy effects that can seem out of place at times.

It is a good-looking film with a solid supporting cast that includes Michael Rennie, Yvonne DeCarlo, Richard Carlson, Earl Holliman, Ken Murray, Gary Merrill, Arthur O'Connor, Nehemiah Persoff, Aldo Ray and Barbara Nichols in want is a top rate production for its time, but its would be overshadowed by the other bigger MGM Science Fiction release that year, Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) so this ambitious production got lost in the shuffle. Still it is worth a look and with Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976) remade yet again, plus all the Blu-ray editions suddenly issued worldwide of De Palma's The Fury (1978, both on Blu-ray on this site), The Power is worth revisiting.

There are no extras, but George Pal discusses the film in a supplement on as limited edition double Blu-ray set of The Puppetoon Movie we will be covering ASAP.

I am glad I just saw Eric Valette's The Prey (2011) because it was jut announced the live-action part of DreamWorks intends to remake it, so I have the original under my belt as it were and though it has issues, it is not bad and I can see why someone would try to remake it so soon. The film has its own Hitchcockian aspirations, if not always as good as his films with Franc (Albert Dupontel of Irreversible) serving time in jail for bank robbery in modern France today. There are tough guy idiots there messing with him, which gets worse when his new roommate (Stephane Debac) there for attacking young girls, which he tries to say he did not do.

This goes on for a while, but the molester and maybe more is out of prison when Franc realizes the man was not only giving him an innocent act, but is gong to go after his family and worse, so he has to escape the prison! This is when the film finally starts to kick in, but it never totally recovers despite some great set pieces, action sequences, the emergence of Alice Taglioni as a female cop who starts to wonder what is really going on, especially when the child predator starts to frame Franc for his crimes!

Valette is able to keep much of this working, but it hits a few false notes long after the early slow start, yet is not always as predictable as it might have been otherwise and has enough solid moments that you should see it once. I liked the cast, which also includes Sergi Lopez (Pan's Labyrinth), Natacha Regnier, Caterina Munro (Casino Royale (2006)) and Serge Hazanavicius. The budget and French locales are a plus.

Extras include a booklet on the film with chapters and the main cast, while the Blu-ray adds a Making Of featurette, Original Theatrical Trailer and on camera interview with Director Valette.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfer on Jekyll is obviously going to show the age of the materials used since the film is nearly 100 years old and some of the added footage is softer (likely sourced from rough 35mm film and/or 16mm reductions) but the transfer is a revelation versus the usually awful DVD prints that have been issued since that format's launch. Despite those flaws and other print issues, the film has never looked so good (some shots are tinted in what we surmise is authentic) and the best shots are just amazing.

It is as good as anything on the list, which is trouble for the other releases. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Prey is the other visual champ, but it has some image issues itself being slightly undefined from its HD shot. Some shots look great and the editing is solid, but color and detail can be limited and the style has it slightly darkened at times.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Sleep documentary is all on one Blu-ray, which mighty explain some of the strained images in the newly shot interview footage, but we get more than our share of rough analog video clips and even rough film clips, so don't expect this to always look as good as you might think. This is why despite having some pint issues, The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Power with its sometimes problematic MetroColor is actually able to compete with the new production. Director of Photography Ellsworth Fredericks has also shot the original 1956 Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, so he understood scope framing very well and this film demonstrates that very well.

The poor performer here is the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Plus One, which always looks a shade too weak and soft throughout. Hope the over-reliance on visual effects did not drive the makers to degrade the visual look of it all too much to hide the limits of the digital work.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Prey has the best soundfield of all the releases on the list that is well edited, warm, well recorded and well mixed. It has silent moments and the soundfield is a little more towards the front channels than I would have liked, but it is fine otherwise. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo instrumental score for Jekyll can match it (it works well in Pro Logic mode too) but this is obviously not an original recording from 1920. The same DTS-MA 2.0 mix can be found on Sleep, but has much less action and is not as effective since it is constant talking and old audio with rarely any real sonic wows, typical for most documentaries.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Plus One is often quiet with ambience, but also has moments where the music and party sound kicks in. However, it is not a very defined soundfield, though I wonder if this might sound better in a lossless version of the soundmaster.

That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Power the sonic dud here sounding as if it were transferred at one level too low, which is a shame since the Miklos Rozsa score is not bad. This film deserves a sonic restoration and upgrade.

To order The Power and other exclusives from Warner Archive, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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