Digger (1971, aka The
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
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+
Blade Of Grass
are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive
series and all can be ordered from the link below.
a new selection of thriller releases, many of which are creepier than
(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.
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.
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
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
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.
are no extras.
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.
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
Of The Dragon, The
was Director of Photography.
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.
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.
trailer is unfortunately the only extra.
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.
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,
both reviewed elsewhere on this site) film meets ITC British action
TV shows like Department
Man and The
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.
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,
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.
are no extras.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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:
(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.
trailer is the only extra.
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
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.
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.
Blade Of Grass
and/or the Raffles
on Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for them and many more great
web-exclusive releases at: