Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Crime > Bootlegging > Con Artists > Thriller > Mystery > Serial Killer > British > Scienc > Found. (2014/XLrator DVD)/The Moonshine War (1970/MGM)/The Night Digger (1971, aka The Road Builder/MGM)/No Blade Of Grass (1970/MGM/Warner Archive DVDs)/The Originals: The Complete First Season (2013

Found. (2014/XLrator DVD)/The Moonshine War (1970/MGM)/The Night Digger (1971, aka The Road Builder/MGM)/No Blade Of Grass (1970/MGM/Warner Archive DVDs)/The Originals: The Complete First Season (2013 - 2014/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD Set)/Raffles Double Feature (1930, 1940/Samuel Goldwyn Company/Warner Archive DVD)/Whitewash (2014/Oscilloscope DVD)

Picture: C/C/C/C+/B- & C/C/C+ Sound: C/C/C/C/B & B-/C/C+ Extras: C/D/C-/D/C+/D/C- Main Programs: C/C+/B-/C+/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Moonshine War, Night Digger, No Blade Of Grass and Raffles Double Feature are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and all can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a new selection of thriller releases, many of which are creepier than usual...

Scott Schirmer's Found. (2014) has some real potential never realized as a young fan of horror movies, et al, who is in all of fifth grade. Marty (Gavin Brown) is also picked on in school, but things take an even bloodier turn when dead bodies start turning up dead via butchery. A serial killer seems to be on the loose, which his parents and brother cannot ignore, yet something darker is going on and Marty has to figure it out when he has no one else to turn to.

To its advantage, this somehow manages to have the atmosphere and independent isolation of the original Phantasm, along with a somewhat interesting cast and some good ideas. After the first half of the 103 minutes, it becomes apparent the makers do not know where to go with a good set-up and situation. Still, hardcore genre fans will want to see it at least once, but for the rest of us, maybe not.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Director Schirmer and author Todd Rigney, an uncut version of the film-within-the-film Headless and full, uncut version of Deep Dwellers.

Richard Quine's The Moonshine War (1970) tells a story of con artistry in the middle of Prohibition as Patrick McGoohan turns up as an federal agent threatening to single-handedly close some illegal distilleries down unless he gets what he wants, but they runners don't take kindly to that and threaten him. He turns to a classy criminal (Richard Widmark) for support, but the situation is about to become more complicated than it sounds.

Will Geer and a young Alan Alda turn up as two of the family bootleggers, while the songwriter and sometimes singer Lee Hazlewood turns up as a criminal and Melodie Johnson, Suzanne Zenor and Joe Williams in this adaption of a Elmore Leonard book scripted by Leonard himself. Though I always found the earlier parts of the film problematically plausible, it is an interesting film and took long enough to finally arrive on DVD, despite the success of the hit TV show Justified which is somewhat in a similar more. Some moments are amusing, others very politically incorrect, but this one is worth a look all around and was interesting to see again after all these years.

There are no extras.

Alastair Reid's The Night Digger (1971, aka The Road Builder) is the creepiest, most effective and even chilling film on the list, yet it is not as known now as it should be and I will guess a combination of edited TV prints and a problematic, confusing title for the film did not help. In real life, uncut, this is a minor classic of the psychological thriller genre with the script and talent to match.

Patricia Neal is a woman who takes care of an older blind woman with money (Pamela Brown) she calls mother in an old mansion, so already the film is in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962, see the Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) territory of older actresses in the genre, a cycle still going strong 8+ years later. The Joy Cowley novel was adapted by none of the than the legendary Roald Dahl, who happened to be Neal's husband. Bernard Herrmann did the music score, while Alex Thompson, B.S.C. (Alien 3, Year Of The Dragon, The Krays, Labyrinth, Legend) was Director of Photography.

The life is safe, if not great, but they need assistance fixing the big place and when a new hire drops out at the last minute, they land up hiring a friend of that person to make up for having to cancel. Billy (Nicholas Clay) shows up in biker gear and after meeting mother, immediately starts revitalizing and fixing up everything he can practically single-handedly. However, there is a killer on the loose murdering young woman who keep disappearing not to be found and it just might be him. Instead of just stopping there, we get more creepy twists and turns up until the wild ending.

Most of this is plausible enough, but really deserves some rediscovery and the combination of this DVD release and serious film fans looking for gems too few have heard about. The supporting cast including Graham Crowden, Peter Sallis, Jean Anderson and Yootha Joyce just slowly keep making this a bit more and more disturbing, even when they are not trying or are even playing bad people. Reid later directed two of the earliest, darkest episodes of Dahl's hit TV anthology series Tales Of The Unexpected (reviewed elsewhere on this site; see Taste and The Hitch-Hiker episodes) and does a solid job here. My favorite on this list, it is the most highly recommended... if you can handle it.

A trailer is unfortunately the only extra.

Cornel Wilde's No Blade Of Grass (1970) is a British Science Fiction thriller that imagines the world is about to destroy itself when a virus turns up out of nowhere, but blamed on insane amounts of pollution, creating a virus that kills grass worldwide. Nigel Davenport (looking like he is the twin of TV spy Jason King) leads his family across the country to the countryside where his brother owns a farm where they can survive as this environmental disaster ruins food supplies and causes chaos, so they take a car and drive through the disaster as quickly as possible.

Not all goes as planned, meeting more desperate type, encountering unexpected complications and other people. The film is shot and edited, down to its many action sequence, in the mode of a Peter Watkins (Punishment Park, Privilege; both reviewed elsewhere on this site) film meets ITC British action TV shows like Department S, Jason King, Secret Agent/Danger Man and The Prisoner (Eric Boyd-Perkins cut on that show and is co-editor for this film) among others to make its action work and have some edge. I liked how it handled the environmental issues without pandering and though the results are mixed, including the odd handling of a rape sequence, this is a very interesting film.

The film also had HAR Thomson as its Director of Photography, who lensed The Naked Prey (1965) for actor Wilde (trying to launch a directing career) and two Linda Thorson/Tara King episodes of another British TV spy classic, The Avengers. That easily, further explains the visual approach chosen. Jean Wallace, Lynne Frederick, John Hamill, Patrick Holt, Michael Percival, Tex Fuller, Anthony Sharp, Christopher Neame, Wendy Richard and George Coulouris also star.

There are no extras.

Proving the 1960s Dark Shadows was more ahead of its time than some may may have considered, The Originals: The Complete First Season (2013 - 2014) is the latest vampire soap opera involving young people who look like they just came out of model school. Set up for fans of the long-running hit Vampire Diaries, it is not connected save that Warner's TV division produces both, as well as the played-out series Supernatural. This runs 22 hourish episodes establishing the main characters, chaos, werewolves and even werewolf/vampire hybrids.

Unfortunately, despite being able to consistently juggle everything, there is nothing new, different, interesting or particularly memorable about the show and it plays like everything we've seen before, especially lately on TV in the genre. Not as obnoxious as the Teen Wolf series, it is still a tad condescending towards the audience it is aimed at (tweens, et al) as the supernatural takes a back seat to soap opera. Only try it if the similar shows are your thing. Otherwise, it might put you to sleep.

Extras includes Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the discs add a feature length audio commentary track on the Pilot episode, Unaired Scenes and five Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes on the show.

The Raffles Double Feature offers two films of almost the same material that were made by the Samuel Goldwyn Company when they had the rights to the first book featuring the Amateur Cracksman created by Ernest William Hornung, who happened to be the cousin of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Both films had no less than Gregg Toland as their Director of Photography (even if he shared the duties on the first film version) and both are decent adaptions. The 1930 early sound version with Ronald Coleman in the title role, directed by Sidney Howard is darker in look and tone, while the 1940 Sam Wood-directed version with David Niven goes for a brisker approach.

In both, the lead is a high society guy who is secretly robbing the rich of the jewels, et al and leaving the police stumped. They also happen to be dating a great woman (Kay Francis and Olivia de Havilland respectively) who do know know he is the mysterious, uncatchable robber. Goldwyn himself obviously loved the 1898 book and knew its potential as well as that of the book series, but both films never led to a movie series. Still, you can see how smart Goldwyn was by seeing the clever, proactive changes he made between the two versions to make the film work. They are both fun and all serious mystery and detective film fans should see these at least once.

There are no extras, but the studios eventually gave up on the character, but in 1975, British TV finally pulled it off with a series that would star the great Anthony Valentine in the title role. You can read more about it at this link:


Emanuel Hoss-Desmarias' Whitewash (2014) opens with Thomas Hayden Church as a man who suddenly runs a man over to kill him. He succeeds, but why kill? As he starts to hide in the very vehicle he did the killing with in the middle of a Canadian winter, we see in flashback how he met the man he killed, how things did not start that way and how we get to where we began. Yes, there are a few moments that will remind one of the Coen Brothers' film Fargo, but is not an imitator and some other interesting moments that make it worth seeing once. Church is underrated and the rest of the little-known cast works very well in what is atmospheric enough.

A trailer is the only extra.

Though it has its issues, the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on all the HD-shot episodes of Originals have the best picture reproduction here, though the anamorphically enhanced DVD versions are among the softest on the list. Most of the older feature films show the age of the materials used, including the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 on Moonshine, anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 on Night and both 1.33 X 1 black and white prints for the Raffles films. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Grass shot in real anamorphic Panavision and 35mm film fares better despite archive footage as originally used in the film and some age on the newer shots, tying the anamorphically enhanced HD-shot 2.35 X 1 image on Whitewash with some faintness. It is not bad and not as motion-blur riddled as the mixed HD-shot on Found with some very poor shots to boot.

In the sound department, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on episodes of Originals Blu-rays are impressive, well recorded, mixed and presented, but the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD versions do not impress as much with soundfield weakness by comparison or not. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Grass and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Whitewash tie for second place with the Originals DVDs, showing how well the older film was recorded and how quiet the newer one is. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the rest of the Warner Archive films show their age, distortion and limits in dynamic range, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Found shows its low budget by being sonically limited and quiet.

To order The Moonshine War, Night Digger, No Blade Of Grass and/or the Raffles Double Feature on Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com