(1966/Universal/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Battle
Of The Damned
(2013/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Ice
Blu-ray)/It Came From
(1953/Universal/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Scarecrow
B-/B-/B-/C+/C+/B Sound: C/B-/B-/C+/C/B- Extras: D/C-/D/B/D/C+
Came From Outer Space
Region 4 PAL format DVDs will only play on players that can handle
that version of the format and are now only available from our
friends at Umbrella Entertainment and can be ordered from the link
are some genre thrillers that sometimes have gimmicks and a few that
needed much more...
(1966) has been on DVD in the U.S. for a while and as we wait for a
Blu-ray edition of some kind (Criterion perhaps?), Universal has
licensed the film to Umbrella Entertainment in Australia in what is a
Region 4 PAL Import DVD.
paraphrase my description for the U.S. DVD, Arabesque
gives us Gregory Peck as a professor of hieroglyphics who is
recruited to figure out the meaning of a message he is unaware was
obtained by murdering its carrier. Soon, he finds himself in a web
of intrigue that includes a power struggle between visiting Arab
powers, a mysterious, beautiful woman played by Sophia Loren in her
best outright Hollywood film work ever and is one of director Stanley
Donen's greatest, most underrated films.
film still needs to be more widely rediscovered and this can only
help, so here's hoping this new release will help. Those Down Under,
in New Zealand and surrounding areas now have no excuse to miss this
visually superior spy thriller.
There unfortunately are
Of The Damned
(2013) runs at the opposite end of effectiveness as Dolph Lundgren
continues his low budget action thriller cycle, this time giving him
an excuse to join the tired cycle of zombie narratives. This might
have worked as a mere actioner if they had not tried so hard, but it
is badly done and then to make things much worse, some very badly CG
animated killer robots who look like rejects that would never show up
in any version of Robocop turn up to go after them and
is just silly, and when it takes itself seriously, it just gets
worse. Even for Lundgren, this is bad and sloppier than usual, again
even for him. It's hard to say exactly who the audience is for this
mess, but it is bad.
Making Of featurette is the only extra.
(2013) has almost the exact high concept as the just-reviewed Code
(see elsewhere on this site) where murderous USSR tyrant Josef Stalin
had tried to create a group of supermen (genetically engineered) to
make the Soviet Union the strongest nation in the world. Having
collapsed by 1990, a group near the frontier that was lands up
battling the very belated results of those experiments. While Code
has them become zombies and has a few good moments, we just get a few
blonde supermen who look like thy are doing bad impersonations of
Dolph Lundgren in Universal Soldier, et al. Dominic Purcell (trying
for action features), Michael Ironside and Adam Beach are the leads
who play the group finding the killers, but the only thing more
barren than the snowy locales are the lack of ideas in the script.
some dumb early scenes to badly written latter ones, there might have
been something good here if the makers tried to concentrate when
producing this dud, but it is far less ambitious than Code
was and that had more than its share of problems. Put this one back
in the freezer!
are no extras.
Came From Outer Space
(1953) was originally issued in 3D and is one of the biggest hits and
best such film from the brief period having
great fun and using the 3D to great effect. However, it has its
creepy moments and is fun enough in 2D as presented here. Ray
Bradbury wrote the script with Barbara Rush and Richard Carlson
spending time alone in the desert when a mysterious object falls from
the sky in a fiery crash. They immediately investigate and it turns
out to be killer aliens!
was imaginative for its time and still has its moments as one of the
great classic 1950s B-movies. More ambitious than many similar
versions since, including an awful 1996 telefilm remake, Gilligan's
fans know Russell Johnson shows up in the supporting cast and
Director of Photography Clifford Stine (who later lensed the original
William Cameron Menzies original version of This
makes this visually dense and engaging throughout. If you have not
seen the film or not for a long time, it is definitely worth seeing
include a feature length audio commentary track by film historian Tom
Weaver, a Photograph/Poster Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer and
documentary on Universal Pictures.
(2013) is not about the Batman villain or about farming, but about
the title monster out on the kill. Unfortunately, this has zero
suspense, the digital visual effects tie Battle
Of The Damned
above as some of the worst and lamest we have seen in a while and for
horror fans, this is no remake or (by lightyears) match for the far
superior TV movie Dark
Night Of The Scarecrow,
which has actually been issued in a fine Blu-ray at this link:
is a newer shoot by 33 years and looks weaker as well, not even
counting any formats used to shoot the thing. Appearing on the
usually comatose SyFy Channel, Lacey Chabert has the lead and is
wasted with the rest of the cast and anyone watching for a very long
96 minutes. The story starts with the characters attending a
scarecrow festival, only to find the real thing. That tired
switch/plot idea is beyond played out, echoing the emptiness to be
found here. Yawn!!!
are no extras.
but not least is Alain
(1967) which is a sometimes comic French New Wave film about a man
(Jean-Louis Trintignant, sometimes playing himself and putting him
and his performance in a surreal position) who will rob something and
transport whatever it is on the title train. We see it transpiring
as three people in one of the train's actual cars think up a thriller
storyline, changing it and arguing it throughout. This does not
always work, but the film is more successful than not, finding it in
Godard/Film Noir territory (deconstruction while trying to say and
show other things).
includes a few James Bond references, images & comments on
masculinity and an unusual amount of images of bondage (no puns
intended) that had the film run into censorship issues in some
places. However, it is looks great (especially on Blu-ray) and makes
getting lost in the world it creates so much easier. Marie-France
Pisler leads the females who show up and though it is not perfect,
this is a must-see film for all people serious about pure cinema.
include Original Theatrical Trailers for three Robbe-Grillet films, a
2014 promo for his films with Kino and a vintage interview featurette
with the director on this film.
1080p 1.66 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfer
is easily the visual champ here with amazing clarity and detail,
depth and character, plus another great example of how great
monochrome film can look on Blu-ray. Director of Photography
Willy Kurant (Godard's Masculin-Feminin,
delivers some of the best work of his career and every shot is
visually engaging one way or the other. Impressive!
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Damned is
sloppy and styled down to look darker and grittier, but it looks fake
and the constantly bad CG also hurts it, while Ice has some of
the same cliched action look but is cleaner and better-edited despite
sharing some of the same played-out visual elements, so the
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the Arabesque DVD
can actually compete and tie with it for second place for visual
performance. Again, it is shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision
and was originally issued in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor
prints and deeply deserves a Blu-ray.
1.33 X 1 black and white image on Space
was originally issued in 3-D in theaters and was great that way, but
we only get a 2D version here which looks good for DVD, but is no
match for how good this looked in theaters. That leaves the
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Scarecrow
also overly digital and worse, soft and visually unmemorable. If it
were any worse, it would be the big dud here.
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless mix on Damned
and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix on Ice
should be the sonic champs here, but the mixes are too much towards
the front channels and Damned
can be (again) particularly sloppy, so the restored PCM 2.0 Mono on
ties it with great sound design and character that us a great match
for its great picture performance and another big surprise. The
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Scarecrow
is surprisingly compressed and too much towards the front and center
channels, making it a tie with the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on
as the poorest sound performers here, so be careful of sound
switching and high sound levels. Like Damned,
is just sloppy, but in the case of Arabesque,
Umbrella tried to get rid of some of the harshness from the U.S. DVD
version, but landed up cutting into its volume level to fix the
sound. Especially with a solid Henry Mancini score, Arabesque
needs some cleaning like Express got.
leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Space
in he middle, sounding good, but showing its age and some
compression. This was originally issued in 3-track stereo and I hope
that soundmaster has not been lost.
order either of the
Umbrella import Blu-rays or DVD, go to this link: