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Category:    Home > Reviews > Special Interest > Speculation > Aliens > Horror > Comedy > B Movie > Camp > Zombie > In Search Of Ancient Mysteries (1973/Film Chest DVD)/Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988/MGM/Arrow U.K. Region B PAL Import Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Killer Shrews (1959/Film Chest DVD)/Life After Beth (201

In Search Of Ancient Mysteries (1973/Film Chest DVD)/Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988/MGM/Arrow U.K. Region B PAL Import Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Killer Shrews (1959/Film Chest DVD)/Life After Beth (2013/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Killer Klowns From Outer Space Import Region B Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Arrow U.K., can only play on Blu-ray players that can handle Region B locked Blu-ray discs and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's some fun, wacky titles just in time for Halloween 2014, et al...

The Alan Landsburg-produced In Search Of Ancient Mysteries (1973) might sound like an episode of the old In Search Of... series (reviewed elsewhere on this site) narrated by Leonard Nimoy and that is because it is actually an early TV special meant to serve as a pilot for a possible series. It spawned the show after a second special, but the twist is that the original narrator was Rod Serling of Twilight Zone and Night Gallery fame. Still one of the best of its speculative subgenre cycle, Serling passed away before a show could launch, thus they hired Nimoy in his place and the show was a hit.

This show is well thought out and edited, taking itself more seriously than most of its later imitators, especially recently. Serling asks some interesting questions as many experts in their field offer possible evidence, ideas and models on how aliens from outer space may have come to earth and why. No, you don't have to believe any of it, but it is well done and Serling puts it over the top without trying. It is definitely worth a look, even where it has dated and aged.

There are sadly no extras.

The Chiodo Brothers' Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) was not a big hit in its time, though it slowly picked up as a curio on home video and turns out to be one of the first retro-genre B-movie productions that started to surface around the time of its release. Inspired no doubt by the rise of VHS and home video, the idea was why should fans settle for old bad movies when we can make bad new ones? A couple tells the police that a group dressed up as clowns are on the loose, but little does anyone known they are extra-terrestrial killers!

A silly film all around, I was never much a fan, though am surprised it picked up like it did. Whether the cult status was forced or not is hard to say, but it is enough for owners MGM to spend some time and money cleaning it up, restoring it and reissuing it on Blu-ray, then possibly even more popular as Arrow U.K. has issued it in a Region B PAL Import Blu-ray w/DVD with more extras than we will ever see in the U.S. market. Whether it will go further is hard to say, but I bet fans would like it to stay as is. If you've never seen it before, Blu-ray is the way to go, but only expect so much.

Extras include the bonus DVD version (unreviewed since we did not get it), a reversible sleeve featuring original & newly commissioned artwork by Godmachine for the non-steelbook edition & a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Starburst critic Joel Harley, illustrated with original archive stills and posters, while the Blu-ray disc adds a feature length audio commentary track with the Chiodo Brothers, The Making of Killer Klowns: a 20-minute featurette looking at the film's production, including an interview with the Chiodo Brothers alongside behind-the-scenes footage, Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr.: an interview with Charles Chiodo and visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr., Kreating Klowns: an interview with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts, Bringing Life to These Things - A Tour of Chiodo Bros. Productions. Chiodo Brothers' Earliest Films: a look back at the Chiodo Brothers' early homemade productions, Tales Of Tobacco: A brand new interview with star Grant Cramer, Debbie's Big Night: A brand new interview with star Suzanne Snyder, Komposing Klowns: interview with composer John Massari, Deleted Scenes with Director's Commentary, interesting Bloopers, Klown Auditions, an Image Gallery and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Ray Kellogg's The Killer Shrews (1959) is one of those all-time bad films Klowns would like to join, but this ultra-low budget chuckler is up there on the all-time bad list as James Best (later of TV's Dukes Of Hazard) is joined by a cast of unknowns fighting hand puppets and dogs with really bad make-up attachments on their mouths trying to convince us they are deadly killers!

Yes, it is that bad, and that is just for starters. Forget the bad acting, awkward editing or any sense of suspense. It is just outright bad, but I never laugh, but just sit in disbelief it got made. It is just bad, weak filmmaking, plain and simple. You'll just have to see it for yourself.

There are sadly no extras.

Jeff Baena's Life After Beth (2013) starts out seeming like a melodrama where a young man (Dane DeHann of Amazing Spider-Man 2) is stunned by the death of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza() until he thinks he sees her alive and her parents (an amusingly understated John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) are lying. Turns out she has come back form the dead as a zombie!

Unfortunately, the script cannot make this work and thinks the single concept will carry it (they missed Bob Clark's Deathdream (reviewed elsewhere on this site) apparently), even with Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser well cast as his parents. The cast tries, but this is flat throughout and seems long at 89 minutes. Just goes to show how played out the zombie thing has really become too.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary track by Director Baena, actors Plaza, DeHaan & Matthew Gary Gubler, Deleted Scenes and the Making Of featurette Life After Beth: The Postmortem.

The 1.33 X 1 color image on Ancient is a little grainy and rough with color and detail issues, but is watchable, save that it is rough. I had to readjust the image to make it look better, so expect issues, but it is a good show. Needs an HD restoration, at least. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Klowns is the best presentation here and not just by default. The transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and gets the color correct for the most part.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Shrews is rough as expected for the infamous orphan B Movie, but has been cleaned and is from an HD master. There is only so much that could be done with the print, however. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Beth should have been the best of the four, but is plagued by some softness and motion blur it should not have, so Klowns outdoes it.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Beth is obviously the newest, best recording, but is too quiet and refined at times to take total advantage of the multi-channel possibilities, so the PCM 2.0 Stereo on the Klowns Blu-ray with pro logic surrounds from its original Dolby A-type analog release can actually compete with it, especially after the clean up MGM and Arrow have given it. That is as good as both of them are going to get.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Ancient and Shrews are definitely rough and old, even a little brittle at times, down a generation or so, but audible enough to enjoy. Just don't expect top rate mono sound.

You can order the expanded, exclusive Killer Klowns From Outer Space Blu-ray among many great special editions at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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