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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Cyberspace > Mental Illness > Drugs > Surrealism > Murder > Serial Killer > Australia > Enter The Dangerous Mind (2013/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/John Doe: Vigilante (2013/Rapidfire/Main Street/Arc DVD)/The Killers (1946/Universal/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Roadside (2014/Image DVD)/T

Enter The Dangerous Mind (2013/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/John Doe: Vigilante (2013/Rapidfire/Main Street/Arc DVD)/The Killers (1946/Universal/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Roadside (2014/Image DVD)/The RoomMates/A Woman For All Men (1972, 1974/Gorgon Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Killers Import 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-rays and can be ordered from the link below.

Here is our latest look at thrillers on home video...

Youssef Delara and Victor Teran have co-directed the off the wall Enter The Dangerous Mind (2013) with a young man named Jim (Jake Hoffman) stuck to cyber computer entanglements too much for his own good, isolated and not well. The title of this release tells us he is not well and immediately, odd things (and not just the jumpy, sloppy editing) tell us he is at least partly not connected to reality. However, by the first reel, we have clearly entered territory we have sen before in films like Pi, Fight Club and Requiem For A Dream. Then it cannot make anything it does gel and it just slowly implodes predictably no matter what the makers try.

Hoffman is a solid choice for the title role, but the overly derivative script cannot be overcome by the fancy approach or some good supporting turns by Thomas Dekker, Gina Rodriguez, Joe Egender, Jason Priestly and Scott Bakula. There is some energy here, but it is at a dead end eventually. Oh well.

A trailer is the only extra.

Kelly Dolen's thriller John Doe: Vigilante (2013) comes from Australia and wants to be a smart thriller about what a serial killer thinks, especially if he is one who operates under a moral code (we've seen this in films like Uncle Sam, reviewed elsewhere on this site). Instead of being formulaic in what is a played-out concept, the makers actually tackle this with some energy and ideas, smartly casting Jamie Bamber in the title role. This also gets a bit graphic as expected, but like Mind above, choppy editing does this one in. However, we get some good moments and this is one of the better genre works we have seen out of Australia of late, for what that's worth.

Some moments have Kubrickian aspirations and the fact this takes itself seriously is a plus, along with its underutilized locales. Ultimately though, we have seen most of this, but the makers are on the correct track and I look forward to see what they do next.

Extras include two feature length audio commentary tracks (one by Dolen and Screenwriter Stephen M. Coates, the other by Bamber), three Interview clips and three Behind The Scenes clips.

Robert Sidomak's The Killers (1946) is one of the great Film Noirs that also marks the feature film debut of Burt Lancaster as Swede, a criminal some hitmen are looking for, but they may not want to find him. He's ready to fight back, but the past gets in the way, including his former involvement with Kitty (Ava Gardner), who is the kept woman of the kingpin pulling the strings of the guys trying to get him.

Based on the Ernest Hemingway novel, this first film version of the novel holds up really well, even in the face of the later Don Siegel remake and the changes in crime films decades later like other ones on this list. Lancaster become an instant star, Gardner his equal and we get great supporting work from Albert Dekker, Edmond O'Brien, Sam Levene, Jack Lambert, William Conrad, Charles McGraw, Charles Middleton (uncredited, the original Ming The Merciless from the Flash Gordon serials) and Jeff Corey (also among the solid uncredited actors). Add the twists and turns in the smart script and you've got a must-see classic, now in a special edition with as many extras as a Criterion Collection release.

Extras include a reversible sleeve featuring one of the original posters and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw, a collector's booklet containing new writing by Sergio Angelini and archive interviews with director Siodmak, producer Mark Hellinger and cinematographer Woody Bredell (The Phantom Lady), illustrated with original production stills, while the Blu-ray adds an Isolated Music & Effects soundtrack to highlight the great Miklós Rózsa's famous score, Frank Krutnik on The Killers, a video piece by the author of fine Noir book In A Lonely Street, which introduces the film and offers a detailed commentary on four key scenes, Heroic Fatalism, a video essay adapted from Philip Booth's comparative study of multiple versions of The Killers (Hemingway, Siodmak, Tarkovsky, Siegel), Three archive radio pieces inspired by The Killers: the 1949 Screen Director's Playhouse radio adaptation with Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters; a very funny 1946 Jack Benny spoof; the 1958 Suspense episode Two for the Road which reunited original killers William Conrad and Charles McGraw, a stills and posters gallery and trailers for The Killers, Brute Force, The Naked City and Rififi.

Eric England's Roadside (2014) is part of a cycle of isolated harassment thrillers where the usually unseen antagonist torments 'common folk' just trying to get somewhere, often by motor vehicle. These are also variants of the stuck-in-a cycle and we have seen a new cycle of such films. This one has some nice shots in its camera work and reproduces the plotting common in these thrillers, but the acting, writing and story are flat with two-dimensional character development.

I never bought this once the actors started talking (they talk at each other so oddly, it stops you from being invested when trouble starts, especially when they say dumb things in bad situations you would not hear in real life versions of said situations) and the result is a run-on until the ending... which I did not buy. Maybe this seemed like a good idea on paper, but it never escapes that, remaining as flat and disappoints.

There are no extras.

Finally we have a double feature of Arthur Marks films: The RoomMates (1972) and A Woman For All Men (1974), both starting out with pleasant, inviting images of female sexuality, then moving on to their stories. RoomMates has five female friends (including Roberta Collins, Marki Bey and Christina Hart) looking for good men and a good time, but not necessarily commitment. They are very laid back and the film is a timer capsule of an easier time of more fun, but that is a sad reminder of how bad things have become since the 1980s, then we get this turning into a thriller with a killer on the loose stabbing women to death.

That is cheap, cheesy and dates the film the most, though this might have been more shocking then. Now, it plays badly and too stereotypically as if it does not belong to the rest of the film. Still, it has some jokes and is worth a look.

Woman fares better, especially with its cast. Judith Brown is Karen, so sexy that men want her all the time, but she meets a rich man (Keenan Wynn in one of his best later performances) marrying her all of the sudden despite their age difference. This does not sit well with his three children who stand to inherit his millions, but one of the two sons (Andrew Robinson from Dirty Harry) also decides to get involved with her and all hell breaks loose!

This gets as cheesy, but the actors play it seriously all the way and the sexy, coy performance by Brown is in the same league as what we would see from Jill St. John, Melanie Griffith and Hallie Berry in this respect. It is not a perfect film and is also its own kind of time capsule, holding up better than RoomMates and even more worth revising. Together, both make a solid double feature for viewing.

Extras include Making Of featurettes for both films, with RoomMates adding a feature length audio commentary track by Marks, then Woman adding TV Spots and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Mind is on the pale side, in part from being an HD shoot, but also because it is stylized that way, but it is ultimately not a plus for the production. Therefore, the 1080p 1.78 X 1 High Definition image transfers on RoomMates and Woman may the age of the materials used at times, but they look better overall, have the best color on this list and will surprise those used to poor prints of both. The anamorphically enhanced DVDs are not bad for the format, but look weaker by comparison and the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image on Killers is a solid new transfer even offering some demo images. However, the print sometimes shows its age, but not often and looks as good as anything here.

Both stand-alone DVDs offer anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 images are new digital shoots, but Vigilante is softer and weaker than I would have liked, plus its editing approach adds inconsistency to its issues and that's a shame. Roadside is more consistent, yet it also has some softness here and there.

As for sound, Mind offers a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is the best on this list, with a solid soundfield, though some of the sound is overdone and too loud in unbalanced ways that backfire. RoomMates and Woman offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on Killers PCM 1.0 Mono that are all surprisingly good for their age and in the case of the double feature, their budgets. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the DVD of the double feature is weaker as expected, but passable.

Audio for both stand-alone DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are not much better and might reveal more in lossless versions, but will work well enough here for what you get.

You can order The Killers (1946) Region B import Blu-ray among other great extras-loaded Blu-rays from Arrow U.K. (only some of which will come to the U.S.; this one will not due to rights issues) at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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