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Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Thriller > Heist > Gangster > Giamt Monster > Horror > Sex > Revenge > Bad Turn Worse (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/The Black Scorpion (1957/Warner Archive DVD)/The Honeymoon (2013/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Zarra's Law (2014/Arc DVD)

Bad Turn Worse (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/The Black Scorpion (1957/Warner Archive DVD)/The Honeymoon (2013/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Zarra's Law (2014/Arc DVD)

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

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

The following are all thrillers of some kind that have some great ideas and go somewhere with them, but fall short along the way, though you should still check them out...

Zeke & Simon Hawkins' Bad Turn Worse (2014) starts out with great potential, but its goofy, showy dialogue (gross sexual bits) unfortunately point to the many shortcomings on the way as a young man (Jeremy Allen White) robs a amount of money he should not then gets two friends (Mackenzie Davis, Logan Huffman) involved whether they should or not. They are soon pushed into his bad behavior and a tough local criminal (Mark Pelligrino overacting a bit) has them stealing in a plot that is supposed to replace the stolen/spent money, but something uglier is up.

Many of the twists and turns work early on here and Jon Gries (Real Genius, Napoleon Dynamite) has an interesting role himself that does not last long, but despite on-target casting and some good moments, the script and plot start to strain credibility midway through and this all sadly implodes. William Devane also turns up in what is a plus here, but 92 minutes may not have been enough to make work what the Hawkins were putting together. With some concentration, they should do better next time.

There are sadly no extras.

Edward Ludwig's The Black Scorpion (1957) might seem like just another B-movie creature feature, but it is actually an underrated, if sometimes campy romp with some of the best stop-motion animation Willis O'Brien (King Kong) was ever involved in. A volcano erupts in Mexico, unleashing the title giant monster in a film that initially combines elements of Westerns with a scientific exploration narrative, then becomes the horror monster film audiences expected. Despite the unintended laughs, this has the most consistent script of all the releases here, is pretty good for its genre and its pacing holds up well.

Richard Denning leads the cast of mostly unknowns and the best of the creature sequences and fights remain creepy with more suspense than you might expect. A fun romp. Nice to have it back in print.

Extras originally issued in 2003 include trailers for this & a few other Giant Monster gems, Stop Motion Masters with Ray Harryhausen, stop motion test footage of the Las Vegas Monster and Beetlemen and Harryhausen animated sequence from Irwin Allen's 1956 documentary The Animal World.

Leigh James' The Honeymoon (2013) starts out very well with a newlywed couple (Rose Leslie & Harry Treadaway) going to a house by a lake to be as alone as possible (a couple lives nearby), but they are not alone. At first, everything seems fine, but he starts seeing lights neither were noticing overnight and suddenly, her behavior starts to alter. What is happening?

Well, not enough to justify the 87 minutes of this would-be horror thriller which does get off to a good start before losing its way. Though creepy and suspenseful at first, it starts to run out of ideas and goes flat and boring quickly, although I wished it would have found a twist to save itself and make itself more believable. That never happens. The actors (a few others show up as noted) are good, but just being creepy and gross without content does not a thriller make and in the end, it was time for a quick divorce.

Extras include Festival & Theatrical Trailers, AXS-TV clip promoting its release, Canoe Behind The Scenes, The Worm Behind The Scenes, BD Live interactive functions and two interview clips: one with co-stars Rose Leslie & Harry Treadaway, the other with Leigh James.

Last but not least is Juha Wuolikoki's Zarra's Law (2014), a gangster genre drama with ambitions never reached despite serious efforts as the title character (Tony Sirico) finds trouble long after retiring from being a police officer, including an obnoxious new gangster and nephew who is a lawyer trying to deal with all more than his share of criminality. The past (including who might have killed his brother) still haunts him and a new set of fights and murders are on the way.

The makers take this seriously, which helps a great deal and supporting turns by Burt Young, Michael Badalucci and Renee Taylor are a plus with the rest of a decent cast, but no new ground is broken in its too-short 79 minutes running time and this really needed more exposition and help throughout. Still, fans of a genre still exhausted by the immense success of The Sopranos will most likely want to give it a look.

There are sadly no extras.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Turn is the best-looking of the DVD releases here with a sometimes soft, but consistent look (wish this were a Blu-ray) whose style never gets carried away, while the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 black and white image on Scorpion (shot by the great Lionel Lindon, A.S.C., a regular Director of Photography for John Frankenheimer) needs a cleaned up print and new transfer looking nice otherwise and the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Law is purposely styled down, but partly at the expense of detail and even depth, at least in this transfer. It is different enough that I cannot take this transfer as definitive and would like to see it in HD at some point. As a result, our Blu-ray is the best transfer here and the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Honeymoon has some nice shots too, but it also has its share of soft or blurry shots where it should not do either. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the film does not always have a consistent soundfield, but it has its moments.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Turn ranks second-place for sonics and is not badly recorded, but the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Law is not always as well recorded or mixed, so the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Scorpion can compete with it more than expected and is a fun recording down to its mix.

You can order the Black Scorpion Warner Archive DVD along with many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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