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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Sports > Hockey > Racism > Horror > Slasher > Gore > Murder > Science Fiction > Thriller > Affair > Melo > Across The Line (2015/LightYear Blu-ray)/Beyond The Darkness (1979/Severin Blu-ray w/CD)/Buster's Mal Heart (2016/Well Go Blu-ray)/Correspondence (2017/Fox DVD)/The Devil's Backbone (2001/Umbrella Imp

Across The Line (2015/LightYear Blu-ray)/Beyond The Darkness (1979/Severin Blu-ray w/CD)/Buster's Mal Heart (2016/Well Go Blu-ray)/Correspondence (2017/Fox DVD)/The Devil's Backbone (2001/Umbrella Import Blu-ray)/Pretty Little Liars: The Seventh & Final Season (2016 - 2017/Warner DVD Set)/S.W.A.T.: Under Siege (2017/Sony Blu-ray)/With Great Power... The Stan Lee Story (2010/Well Go DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Devil's Backbone Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.

What follows is a wide-ranging set of dramas, most of which are genre thrillers and a few offer comedy too...

Across The Line

Mattie is rising young hockey star and has a chance to play for the NHL teams, but his dream is threaten by his hustling brother and racial discriminate at school. While he is on the path to glory by being on the path of the straight and narrow, he must choose which side he stand on when he gets involved with Jayme, a girl from the hood in the feature film debut of Music Video director Director X: Across The Line (2015).

Mattie is a ghetto kid, but he has the chance to get out of the rat race filled with poverty and crime. He dreams of becoming a hockey superstar, he is perfect, smart, strong and true, he has been the focused on by various scouts for the national. But getting out of the hood isn't easy when his brother is a gangster-wannabe and black kids are beat up and discriminated daily at school. Any hint of a criminal record and he'll lose his chance to the NHL, it is specially hard for him when he can't fight back to prove to a girl he likes that he is better than they say.

This is an age old tale that has been told since the founding of America. Even in the modern day, minorities face racism and discrimination from white people, et al. African-Americans have to work twice as hard and turn the cheek when others spit on them, there is a double standard when it comes to the authorities and the laws. It is a catch 22, black people want others to respect them, but they can't fight back to defend themselves. And if they do, they are the ones who are labeled as the trouble makers. It is not a wonder why discrimination and racism still exists and this film was an example to why violence continues to escalate on the subject of race.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is consistently fine for the format, but the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix is not very impressive, with dialogue not great and music a mixed bag. Extras only include trailers.

Beyond The Darkness

Imagine if Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) was rated X/NC-17 and tripped out on acid and you get an idea of what Director Joe D'Amato's Beyond The Darkness (1979, also known as Buio Omega and Buried Alive) is like. A film that even Hitchcock himself got the willies watching, this hardcore horror film isn't for the faint of heart or for those with high moral standards. Despicable, tasteless, and horrific, Severin has done a fantastic job restoring the film to high definition and bests previous versions released by Umbrella and others. This is without a doubt, the must-own horror disc of the summer and one of Severin's best titles to date.

Originally a hit on the 42nd Street circuit and banned all over the world, this intense film takes the serial killer genre to explosive new heights. Quoted by many as one of the most disturbing films ever produced, this film doesn't shy away from necrophilia, brutal violence, and nudity that's shock value is up there with the goriest works of Fulci and Argento. Splatter King Joe D'Amato, who is also known for Anthropophagous, a sensational director that contributed to both the horror and adult film genres, had a knack for making his audience sick and revolted, as shown here in full display.

The film stars Kieran Canter, Cinzia Monreale (Fulci's The Beyond), Franca Stoppi (The Other Hell), Sam Modesto, and Anna Cardini.

Frank (Canter) and Anna (Monreale) are in love... the only problem is that Anna is dead. When Frank, who is a taxidermist, can't cope with the loss of his loved one, he decides to steal and preserve her body in secret. Much to the dismay of his older lover (Stoppi) who helps aide him in his crimes, Frank finds himself stalking young women and brutally murdering them as they try to replace the love he had for Anna, yet nobody can quite compare. A love story at its core, Beyond The Darkness is bound to make your stomach turn more than once!

Restored in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.67:1 (issued 1.85:1 in some cases) and paired with a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless track, the film respectively looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray disc with little signs of wear due to the age of the print. A few scenes have some film artifacts and a little grain, but it doesn't take away from the powerful imagery in the film. The sound mix is great with the pulse pounding Goblin score in accompaniment, which drives the film during slower moments and amps up the action for others.

For being released in 1979, this film could look a heck of a lot worse than it does here!

Special Features...

Blu-ray exclusive: CD soundtrack (music by cult band Goblin - who also did Argento's Suspiria and Romero's Dawn of the Dead among other classics)

Joe D'Amato: The Horror Experience (feature length)

The Omega Woman: Interview With Actress Franca Stoppi

Goblin Reborn Perform Buio Omega Live 2016

Locations Revisited

Sick Love - An Interview With Actress Cinzia Monreale

Original Trailer

Be sure to visit Severin's website and get a great bundle pack with this disc that also includes an awesome T-shirt, poster, and other goodies as well.

Buster's Mal Heart

Sarah Adina Smith's new film Buster's Mal Heart (2016) stars Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) and is a bizarre and stylistic foreign thriller. Visually appealing, the film is a mind bender with elements of other stronger films and tries a bit too hard to be weird at times. Bouncing back between both realities, this film will defiantly give your brain an exercise.

The film also stars DJ Qualls, Kate Lyn Sheil, Lin Shaye. Tony Huss, Mark Kelly, and Sandra Ellis Lafferty.

The story focuses on an eccentric mountain man named Buster (Malek) is on the run from the law, surviving the winter by breaking into empty vacation homes in a remote community. Regularly calling into radio talk shows - where he has acquired the nickname "Buster" - to rant about the impending Inversion at the turn of the millennium. He is haunted by visions of being lost at sea, and memories of his former life that was ruined, where he was a family man named Jonah who had it all until he encountered a drifter who turns his life upside down.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the presentation is crisp and up to standards with the Blu-ray format. The sound design gets a bit wild as something of the film's hallucinatory scenes take hold and the score is quite haunting. Visually, the film's colors are predominantly green and brownish yellow with nice saturation levels and nicely exposed subjects.

Special Features...



Deleted Scenes

The film was a huge hit on the festival circuit, had a small theatrical run, and is now landing on Blu-ray disc thanks to Well Go USA with a great transfer and sound presentation.


Jeremy Irons has had a nice little comeback as of late with a slate of new films, which includes the romantic drama Correspondence (2017 - also known as La corrispondenza); a film that will take you on a trip of forbidden love, dark secrets, and undying romance. Also starring Olga Kurylenko (who was the main Bond Girl in Quantum of Solace), the film pulls at the heart strings through a beautifully photographed lens but feels almost like something you would see on a foreign Hallmark Channel (but with a brain). The film is Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso).

An astronomer (Irons) has an affair with a PhD student (Kurylenko) that gets hot and heavy over the course of six years and then fizzles out. Though the astronomer ends the relationship and disappears off the map, his lover still receives gifts from him as well as messages indicating that he's still out there somewhere. Her willingness to find him digs up some dirt of her past, as everything comes slowly into focus.

Presented in standard definition with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the film looses a bit of its impact here that would be brought out in High Definition.

No Extras - just a digital UV copy.

While not bad and nicely made, the film is for romantics and nothing more. The target audience will likely be middle aged single women on their sofas eating ice cream out of the box, or at least that's what I envision.

The Devil's Backbone

Director Guillermo Del Toro's second ''adult fairy tale'' after his feature film debut Cronos (see links below), is the incredible supernatural drama The Devil's Backbone (2001). In many ways a prototype for Pan's Labyrinth (in that they have simple story structures), this dark film is beautifully photographed and captured well on disc from Umbrella. However, there is also a Criterion Collection version of this film that came out in the past few years that is a bit superior to this disc. Still, there are a good number of extras surprisingly for this title, and some cool artwork too.

It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco's right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces. A young boy named Carlos, is left by his tutor in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere and has to adapt to this new environment. The orphanage is run by a curt but considerate headmistress and a kind professor, both of whom are sympathetic to the doomed Republican cause. Soon, the vision of a young ghost encounters Carlos and makes startling predications that start to come true all centering around the deranged past of the orphanage. Monsters begin to take hold that are most human than supernatural...

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a lossless 5.1 Spanish DTS-HD MA mix, the transfer here isn't bad but not as detailed as the Criterion's 2K HD remaster that was supervised personally by Del Toro. Subtle textures are missing here that are evident in the other version as well.

Special Features...

Commentary with Del Toro and Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro


Storyboard Comparisons

Original Movie Trailer

Video Prologue

Spanish Gothic Featurette

Director's Notebook

Deleted Scenes

Multi-Angle Storyboards

The Criterion version has comparable featurettes however what this edition is missing are some newly photographed interviews and a few other extras that were made by Criterion themselves.

If you live in the U.S., then I would suggest the Criterion version simply because the transfer is more impressive and the extras a bit more pleasing. However, this edition isn't bad.

For more on the Criterion Blu-ray, try this link....


For more on Cronos, try our coverage of the Criterion DVD edition...


Pretty Little Liars: The Seventh & Final Season

It's the series finale of Pretty Little Liars, as the liars must band together to discover and fight off the mysterious A.D. who seems to know ALL their secret and always to be one step ahead of them. A.D. intends to blackmail the PLLs and pay for their crimes. The Pretty Little Liars must work together to discover who A.D. is and even more shocking revelations that will change their lives and friendships forever.

As the Pretty Little Liars are trying to live normal lives, they soon discover their secrets are far from safe. With the death of Charlotte, they realize none of them are truly safe. They must not only find and catch A.D., but discover who A.D. really is before the deadline is up, but in doing so they will discover dark secrets about their own past that they didn't even know about. With each new piece of evidence or discovery, A.D. either takes away, destroys or blackmails them with it. Their friendships and relationships will be tested and strained. Will the Pretty Little Liars be able to find their happily ever after or will the truth finally come into the light?

The Pretty Little Liars series reminds me a lot of Gossip Girl, where a group queen bee girls are being blackmail for the sins of their past. It is filled with teen dramas and murder, with each season, the lies, murders and mysteries continue to build as they try to cover up more and more of the deaths. While the PLLs are not completely innocent, all they need a nemesis, someone who is worse than them to make the audience sympathize with them, proving once again pretty girls can get away with anything.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on all episodes are as good as they are going to get in this format, definitely equal to the DVD sets of the show we've covered as well. Extras include Inside PLL sheets, That PLL Boy Is Mine, A PLL Proposal, A Surprising Mary Drake, Hot for Haleb, Say I Do: A PLL Wedding, The Final Send Off From Rosewood, A.D.: The Ultimate Suspect, Thank You to Fans, Special Episode: Pretty Little Liars: A-List Wrap Party and Deleted Scenes.

The final episodes are...

Tick-Tock, Bitches - The PLLs are given 24 hours to discover who's Charlotte's killer really is.

Bedlam - Hanna is rescued. The dynamics between relationships the PLLs changes.

The Talented Mr. Rollins - The PLLs try to rescue Ali from the mental institute, but something happens and they have another dead body on their hands.

Hit and Run, Run, Run! - The PLLs buries Mr. Rollins, but it causes trouble between them and their bed buddy boyfriends.

Along Comes Mary - Jenna returns to Rosewood and become the top suspect of who A.D. might be.

Wanted Dead or Alive - Rosewood P.D. beings investigating the PLLs cover ups. Alison is attacked and Sara is murdered by an unknown figure.

Original G'A'ngsters - Jason returns to Rosewood. The PLLs discover Mary had another mysterious child. Noel Kahn becomes the next prime suspect for A.D.

Exes and OMGs - Emily and Paige interview for the same job at their old high school. Jason and Aria tries to look into Mary's past to find who her child is.

The Wrath of Kahn - Hanna takes things into her own hands and attempts to face Noal Kahn alone. But things don't goes as planned.

The Darkest Knight - The PLLs search for Hannah and ends up in a showdown with Noel and Jenna ...and ends with a fatally.

Playtime - The PLLs recover from the attack and Noel Kahn's death. Spencer learns more about Mary Drake.

These Boots Were Made for Stalking - The PLLs play a dangerous game when A.D. has proof of them killing Rollins. Emily faces off with Addison. Spencer confronts Mary about their family past.

Hold Your Piece - The PLLs discover Jenna has been working for A.D. Hanna's turn at the game gets more than she wanted.

Power Play - Alison remembers a traumatizing past. Spencer faces her father.

In the Eye Abides the Heart - Emily handles her relationship with Alison. Aria plays into A.D.'s hands.

The Glove that Rocks the Cradle - Hanna and Caleb tries to protect Spencer. Aria and the PLLs continue to be played by A.D.

Driving Miss Crazy - Aria continues to fall deeper into A.D.'s control. Caleb talks about his plans with Hannah's future.

Choose of Lose - The police have warrants for all the PLLs. Hanna and Caleb get married.

Farewell, My Lovely - The PLL face the end game with A.D.

Till Death Do Us Part - A year later the PLLs get on with their lives ...but is it really over?

SWAT: Under Siege

Yes, SWAT: Under Siege (2017) is every bit as bad as it sounds and then some but what you would expect from a direct-to-video action spinoff from a feature film years ago that it self was a bad remake of a decent hit TV show in the 1970s. On a production level about the size of a television cop drama, the film draws some inspiration from Assault on Precinct 13, only with some lackluster action sequences and a little more violence and language than what you would see on TV.

The highlights of the film are the three leads with Michael Jai White (Spawn) kicking butt and every scene that Adrianne Palicki (Agent of SHIELD), who plays her role with style and a sense of humor. The film also features Sam Jaeger (American Sniper), who plays your typical hero archetype fine but nothing too notable. All three actors do what they can with the material, what little there is of it.

When a D.E.A. and S.W.A.T. cartel team-up takedown ends in a shootout, S.W.A.T. Agent Travis Hall (Jaeger) seize a prisoner (White) and take him into custody. However, it doesn't take long for Assault Teams to show up and action to ensue as everyone tries to get him back. Can the SWAT protect their coveted prisoner (who has ties they don’t know about), work without communications and limited weaponry, and get out alive?

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the film is clear with plenty of character detail though a natural and realistic color palette throughout. Some of the action scenes are filmed tightly with some blur, but it's not too terrible. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix has a pulsing score and some interesting sound design for some of the action sequences.

No extras.

Your average SWAT entry, this film feels like a cop show with bag language and a little more violence. There's nothing terribly cinematic about it or anything that we haven't seen a million times before.

With Great Power... The Stan Lee Story

A few months ago, we reviewed this title from an import DVD release from Umbrella, but here we are covering a new 2-Disc edition that has plenty more extras from Well Go in the U.S market. It's not uncommon for a documentary to have several releases in various territories, as we saw recently with Future Shock: The 2000 AD Story, which was released in the UK by Arrow and in the U.S. from Severin Films.

Sadly, With Great Power... The Stan Lee Story (2010) isn't on Blu-ray as of yet here in the states, but this edition is a welcome upgrade as it takes us forever into the life of Living Legend and Pop Culture Icon, Stan Lee, one of the masterminds behind Marvel Comics and the creator of Spider-Man, Thor, The Hulk, and more of your favorites!

Directed by Terry Douglas, Nikki Frakes, and Will Hess, With Great Power... The Stan Lee Story (2010) is a well made documentary explores Mr. Lee's early years to the present, as he brings to life over 500 characters that have been mostly household names. Some focus points in the film star from his time spent at Marvel, to his later years with POW! Comics - a label of his own creation. Stan's personal life is also highlighted as we get to learn about his family as well and some of the sacrifices he had to make before he got to be a household name. This documentary is great for artists and comic fans that are curious to know more about Stan and is sure to inspire some as well.

Presented in standard definition with a full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and a lossy English 2.0 track, the film looks and sounds fine on DVD but has some compression issues that would have been tightened in HD. For a documentary of this nature, the film looks fine and features interviews of varying formats and quality and a host of images as well, some from Stan's own personal collection.

Special Features include...

Filmmaker Commentary

Over 90 minutes of Featurettes

Extended Interviews

Gallery of over 500 characters that Stan created


You can check out our review of the Umbrella release here...


Winning several awards on the Film Festival circuit, this is a great look at the life of Stan Lee and fun for fans of comics (both new and old) to look at with affection.

To order The Devil's Backbone Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other great, hard to find releases:


- Ricky Chiang (Across, Liars) & James Lockhart



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