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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Drama > Children > British > Apocalypse > Australia > Science Fiction > Science > Post- > Our Mother's House (1967/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/These Final Hours (2013/Roadshow/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/Zardoz (1973/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Our Mother's House (1967/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/These Final Hours (2013/Roadshow/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/Zardoz (1973/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Our Mother's House DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series, while Zardoz is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 5,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last. Both can be ordered from the links below.

Here are three ambitious genre films, but one is a classic that stands out above all...

Jack Clayton's Our Mother's House (1967) is a creepy thriller about a group of brothers and sisters well underage who hide the fact that their highly religious mother has died, then they try to control their lives and manipulate the situation to preserve their new found freedom. I forgot how bizarre this could get, but it loses credibility early, starts to wallow in its situation and even Dirk Bogarde cannot save the film when all is said and done.

We covered the limited edition CD soundtrack of Georges Delerue that remarkably is still in print, which you can read more about at this link:


The child actors are good, including Pamela Franklin and Mark Lester a year before taking on the title role in the film of the musical Oliver! The great Gerald Sim even shows up in a great turn as a bank teller. It is still worth a look, but offers very mixed results.

A trailer is the only extra.

Zak Hilditch's These Final Hours (2013) is set in Australia and is a disaster film about an earth about to be engulfed by its sun, which will soon incinerate it. What will they do? James (Nathan Phillips) has a great relationship with his girlfriend, but when he goes out to help them both, he lands up helping a little girl who has lost her family. This may be a way to make this a different kind of end-of-the-world tale, but it backfires when she is dragged into bad situations any sensible adult would not drag her into and the twists and turns become lame quickly despite the makers taking it all seriously.

Daniel Henshaw (The Babadook, the cable TV series TURN: Washington's Spies) has a memorable turn as one of his best friends, too drunk as he parties to eventually handle the situation. He is a star in the making as much as any of the good cast here and if he becomes a star like he might, that will make this one a curio. I wanted it to work and some scenes do, but it falls short.

A trailer is the only extra.

John Boorman's Zardoz (1973) is a film most people do not get, but it I as complex as (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Man Who Fell To Earth or the most challenging science fiction films ever made and is much more. A British classic, it has influenced everything from Superman: The Movie to the original Star Wars. Sean Connery boldly takes on the role of Zed, a killer for the mysterious floating head in the sky that lands and delivers bullets and guns to kill and hunt other humans down for population control. He secretly jumps into the delivery sculpture and into the world of the Immortals, which will shake up their peaceful world and possibly deliver him from his murderous existence. From there, we learn the various ways the human race broke off into sections of different development (evolution, technologization and otherwise) and how this may and may not be sustainable. And more surprises, battles and murder are in store.

Like a Kubrick film, if you are laughing (save any rare intended jokes), you are likely missing out on what the film is saying. This is a film made by smart adults for smart adults and especially in an era where the genres it covers has has so many $100 Million+ films made as well as several films more interested in being tricky than any tricks or twists really adding up to anything, Zardoz remains a supreme achievement in and out of the genre, exceeding its genre by asking tough questions that are increasingly not being asked.

Some might find it too British or 'foreign' to handle, but that is actually one of its achievements, remaining challenging and ever other-worldly when so many films (even good ones, like Terry Gilliam's trilogy of Brazil, 12 Monkeys and Zero Theorem) have come along in its wake. The production design remains impressive, sense of post-modernism far superior to the likes of Being John Malkovich and it is far to say most filmmakers and audiences have still not caught up to the film or what it has actually achieved. The excellent cast includes Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestleman, Niall Buggy as the eccentric Arthur Frayn, John Alderton, Reginald Jarman as the voice of Death and David de Keyser as the voice of the Tabernacle. I love this film and it just gets better with age. Nice to see it get such grade-A treatment. Get it while it's in print!!!

Extras include a DigiPak with a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and Julie Kirgo essay that gets the film, while the Blu-ray adds an Isolated Music Score Track, Original Theatrical Trailer, classic Radio Spots with voice-overs by the great Rod Serling and two feature length audio commentary tracks: one by Boorman from the previous DVD release and a new one by film historians Jeff Bond, Joe Fordham and Nick Redmond.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on both Blu-ray releases look as good as they possibly can, but Hours has too much shaky camera work, too many degraded image moments and some other flaws (sorry DP Bonnie Elliott), so it is actually not as good as Zardoz, which looks really good and has its share of demo shots. Sure, the print can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and was shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision by legendary Director of Photography Geoffrey Unsworth, B.S.C. (2001: A Space Odyssey, Cabaret, Cromwell, Superman: The Movie (1978)) uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent for a big screen and very big impact that shames most widescreen films today. The old Fox DVD is no match bigtime.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 image on House is from a print that is a bit worn from a transfer that has aged and has some dirt, but it is well-shot by Director of Photography Larry Pizer (Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare, Isadora, De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise) whose work helped save the film. It deserves a new transfer. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on House is on the weak side, no match of the sound on the CD soundtrack noted above and could also use some restoration.

Both Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, with Hours having some nice sonic moments, but is not as strong in other scenes and some location recording is not as good as others. Zardoz was originally issued in 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects in its best 35mm print presentations in its original theatrical release and with the DVD offering an odd, lossy Dolby Digital 3.0 Stereo sound presentation. Though the back of the Blu-ray case says it will only offer a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix, we actually get an exceptional 5.1 mix that far exceeds what I was expecting of the film's smart sound mix. The music by David Munrow, who died way too young, is a plus along with the the great sound effects.

To order the Zardoz limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at this link:


and to order the Our Mother's House Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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