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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Vampire > Mystery > Demonic Possession > Literature > Spain > Western > Drama > Come > Count Dracula (1970/Franco/Lee/Severin Blu-ray)/Cowboy (1958/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Hateful Eight (2015 Theatrical Cut/Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD)/Sha

Count Dracula (1970/Franco/Lee/Severin Blu-ray)/Cowboy (1958/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Hateful Eight (2015 Theatrical Cut/Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD)/Shadow Of Doubt (1935/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Cowboy Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while Shadow Of Doubt is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here are four very unique, key genre films you should know about and see at least once....

Jess Franco's Count Dracula (1970) is a really interesting film with Christopher Lee once again playing the most famous vampire of all time, but instead of making this as part of the series he did at the Hammer Studios, this was a one-shot adaptation of the original book where Lee plays the character at a much older age (including the age he was at the time) wanting to do the book purely and originally. A lack of budget and circumstances got in the way of that a bit, but this was part of a larger cycle of Dracula and vampire films beyond Lee's Hammer work, including television, comic books and even hit records.

Lee takes a different tone with the character, the look & feel of the film is different from anything Hammer and a supporting cast that includes Herbert Lom as Van Helsing and Klaus Kinski as Reinfierd (later Nosferatu himself in the Werner Herzog remake in 1979) makes this a version that has only appreciated in value, but has not always been as available. It holds nothing back in the blood and grossness department, but that makes it all the more authentic and closer to the book than many other versions before and since.

There are also some scenes that are very effective (co-producer Harry Alan Towers co-wrote the screenplay adaptation) and we get some good chemistry between the actors throughout. Severin has issued this on Blu-ray uncut from a new HD transfer that has its moments. Especially in this longer cut, this is one of the key Dracula, vampire and horror titles to have. Along with the great locations and sets, Maria Rohm, Fred Williams, Soledad Miranda, Jack Taylor, Paul Muller and Franco Castellani also star.

Extras are many and include CUADECUC, VAMPIR (1970), an Experimental 'Making Of' Feature By Pere Portabella based on this film, a fun feature-length audio commentary track with horror historian David Del Valle and Actress Maria Rohm, Beloved Count interview with Director Jess Franco, An Interview With Actor Jack Taylor, Handsome Harker interview With Actor Fred Williams, Stake Holders: An Appreciation By Filmmaker Christophe Gans and a German Theatrical Trailer.

Delmer Daves' Cowboy (1958) is an unusual Western from Daves, who was no stranger to the genre, with Glenn Ford as the head of a posse of working cowboys and Jack Lemmon as a hotel worker who meets them and lets their head man know he has money and is interested in making more the hard way... by joining them. Ford thinks he's grossly underestimating his abilities to endure and survive the great outdoors and hard work required to make a single penny and say no. However, circumstances start to twist and turn enough that they land up together, like it or not.

This is not an outright comedy, despite Lemmon's famous talents for that genre and Ford has proven he can do comedy as well, but is only passively funny himself. Instead, this seriocomedy takes the situations seriously and any comedy is incidental, ironic or contextual. Thus, this is not just another disposable comic Western of any kind and is trying to do more in its long 92 minutes. Dick York, Richard Jaeckel, Brian Donlevy, Strother Martin, King Donovan, James Westerfield and Frank DeKova are all a plus, but this tends to drag a bit.

One of the reasons this tries to stretch the genre without being a major transitional work in it is Dalton Trumbo was the writer, originally uncredited during his Hollywood Witch Hunt exile, so this has more clever things going for it than if it were standard writing and a standard release. However, it also does not always gel and so, this is still for Western fans only or those curious to see the players (or how Trumbo's work was handled), so I see why Sony and Columbia Pictures decided this one should be a Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray. As usual, they have done a great job with this release.

Extras include another illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and very cinematically literate essay by Julie Kirgo that is standard with all Twilight Time releases, while the Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary track with Kirgo, Nick Redman and Paul Seydor that really gets to the core of the film, Isolated Music Score by George Duning and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015) has been issued in its slightly shorter Theatrical Cut only for now by Anchor Bay on Blu-ray with a DVD copy. Originally, an early draft of the screenplay was leaked in an incident that led to a lawsuit at one point, but Tarantino always intended it to be a 70mm production and after a time, he fortunately changed his mind and the production eventually got under way. Little did anyone know it would lead to a revival of one of the great large-frame formats.

The film starts with people meeting in the middle of blizzard conditions when it is calm, then all land up at a haberdashery, where some know each other from reputation and others from previous meetings. What happenstance. From there, things start to not add up depending on whose perspective we are following, with everyone looking for the next reward money (Kurt Russell plays a man who has taken a rough Jennifer Jason Lee prisoner to collect on her arrest) and the Civil War has ended, but the hatreds than made it possible... like all major wars, are far from over.

Thus, the indoor locale becomes the slow boiler for the return of the repressed. Samuel L. Jackson is a solider who fought for those yankees, while Bruce Dern is a Confederate whose seen his world fall and end. Tim Roth and Michael Madsen are among the other solid supporting actors (we won't revel all) who also turn up and as usual, we get some rough language, some gross moments, pure hate pure anger, pure violence and crazy twists that tell us it could only be a Tarantino film. The Weinstein Company backed this more than any film any studio or distributor has backed in recent memory, down to 70mm productions and 70mm presentations nationwide; up to $80,000 a screen just to install such projectors, plus prints and skilled projectionists for the longer roadshow version.

This Blu-ray only has the shorter version, but as it turns out, those 20 minutes of footage from that longer director's cut does make enough of a difference and enough of an impact that I prefer the longer version. Still, this is impressive enough in this shorter cut and even in that form, is one of the best Westerns in the last few decades... a genre that needs totally reinvented every time you make one or you fail. Tarantino did not and its a new chapter in his long line of purely cinematic experiences. Definitely catch it if you haven't yet, but expect a very graphic tale.

Extras in a slipcase packaging that opens up in the front, the DVD copy and Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds Sam Jackson's Glorious Guide to 70MM which does a great job of explaining the Ultra Panavision 70 process and Beyond The Eight, a Behind The Scenes look at the film.

George B. Seitz's Shadow Of Doubt (1935) starts out simply as a tale of a few gals interested in the same movie producer (Bradley Page) who want to be with him, work for him or use him against other men in their life... until he is killed! That leaves the women (Virginia Bruce, Isabel Jewell, future Westinghouse Electric spokeswoman Betty Furness) and at least one man (Ricardo Cortez) murder suspects. The police, headed by a so-so detective (Edward Brophy) tries to find out, but the dead man's reclusive aunt (Constance Collier) is already questioning one of the women when he is killed, so she intends to find out who done it!!!

A nice twist on the usual mystery at a time when Hollywood was making so many good feature films of them, you think at first auntie will be a royal pain, snob and really bad person making all the drama worse. Then she springs into action and the film takes a 180-degree turn that makes it more interesting, fun, exciting and suspenseful. The result is a remarkable 74 minutes that one wishes went on longer, but the makers get in there, tell their story and wrap it up on a good note. This is a fine mystery gem worth going out of your way for.

An original theatrical trailer is sadly the only extra.

The 1080p 2.76 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hateful is often a remarkable transfer, including demo shots for any HDTV (and 4K Ultra HDTV), shot on Kodak Vision 3 65mm camera negative film stocks throughout by the incredible Robert Richardson, A.S.C. with Ultra Panavision 70 anamorphic lenses; the first film in half a century since Khartoum (reviewed on limited edition Twilight Time Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) to use the format that saw only ten feature films produced this way. It is lavish, expensive, meant to imitate 3-camera Cinerama in one camera and its return is stunning and a true, pure cinematic event in itself.

Older 70mm productions going back to the 1950s (as well as large frame VistaVision) and recent actual IMAX 70mm productions tend to look really great on Blu-ray and this being the newest such narrative production, expect to see color, detail, depth and definition like nothing on home video today. Using this superior equipment with the best movie camera negative stocks ever made delivers a key must-have disc for any serious collection. The indoor shots are worthy of Ford's The Searchers, while the outdoor footage bests Ice Station Zebra (ha!) and will make you want to get any IMAX Blu-ray you can get for comparison. It also compares extremely well to the 70mm print I viewed of the uncut version of the film, a true event screening (booked everywhere for two weeks) that was as important as any film engagement of the last 20 years.

An anamorphically enhanced DVD version is also included, but it is not able to compete with the Blu-ray in hardly any way and is even a little softer than expected.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dracula has a consistent full color print that shows the age of the materials used a bit, but despite the good condition and the color on the stable side, it seems a bit lite for being shot on Eastmancolor 35mm film stocks and shots in the supplements confirm some warmth and richness is missing a bit. Despite that, detail is good and we get some depth, so this is not a bad presentation and I don't think any dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor versions of the film exist at least in the U.S. despite several Hammer Draculas of the time getting that treatment. Otherwise, it looks really good and was lensed by two main DPs.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Cowboy can show the age of the materials used, but the film was actually issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor versions of the film and the color holds up well here to the point that you can see in many places how good it must have looked in such copies. Director of Photography Charles Lawton Jr. (The Lady From Shanghai, Two Rode Together, Nick Carter - Master Detective, original 3:10 To Yuma, 3-D Technicolor Miss Sadie Thompson) manages to pull off something odd here in making the film look like a top A-level Hollywood production while still also making it look dirty and gritty. The two qualities almost go to war with each other here, but the result does not seem strictly from its late 1950s time period, so it has not dated like most Westerns of the time. Of course, this can still ring odd, but I cannot imagine this looking much better either way.

The 1.33 X 1 black & white on Doubt is so well shot and a Grade A release from the original, giant MGM Studios, but this transfer is sadly a little too soft and print a little beat in parts. Thus, this underrated mystery romp deserves a total restoration for Blu-ray and it would be worth it. Even here, you can see the great shooting, money on the screen and smart approach to how this was shot. For its age (18 years and counting!!!), it also impresses.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Hateful is often as exceptional as its image, well mixed, presented and even better than the DTS 70mm sound I heard theatrically. Again, Tarantino takes total advantage of the multi-channel possibilities, so the film's impact just increases. Add the Oscar-Winning Ennio Morricone music score and you have one of the best soundmixes of the past few years. The DVD has a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that is passable, but a bit weak, especially as compared to the DTS on the Blu-ray.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mixes on Cowboy and PCM 2.0 Mono on Dracula I had hoped would reveal all kinds of interesting nuances in the respective films and though they sound good, both are a bit more sonically limited than expected and a bit disappointing. Sure, they sound better than they ever have before, but they show their age more than I thought. When you compare the isolated music score on Cowboy to its soundtrack, that becomes more obvious, but the sound stems were obviously too old or lost for even a simple stereo upgrade.

That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Doubt sounding its age too much, with tiny spots of brittleness here and there, but more than deserving of a restoration and upgrade.

To order the Cowboy limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




and to order the Shadow Of Doubt Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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