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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Action > Adventure > Underwater > Supernatural > Kidnapping > Revenge > Western > Heist > D > Amsterdamned (1988/Blue Underground Blu-ray w/DVD)/Beneath The 12-Mile Reef (1953/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Devil Lives Here (2015/Artsploitation DVD)/First Kill (2017/Lionsgate B

Amsterdamned (1988/Blue Underground Blu-ray w/DVD)/Beneath The 12-Mile Reef (1953/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Devil Lives Here (2015/Artsploitation DVD)/First Kill (2017/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Gun Fury 3D (1953/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Hero (2017/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Hour Of The Gun (1967/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Illustrated Man (1969/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Kill Switch (2017/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Law and Jake Wade (1958/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Lawman (1971/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)



3D Picture: B+ Picture: B/B/B/B+/B-/B+/B/B/B+/B/B Sound: B+ & B/B/B/B-/B-/B+/B-/B-/B+/C+/C+ Extras: B/B-/C/C+/C/C/C+/C/C/C-/B- Films: C+/C+/C+/C/C+/C+/B-/C+/C/C+/B-



PLEASE NOTE: Amsterdamned has had one of its discs recalled, so consult the Blue Underground website for details. The Beneath The 12-Mile Reef, Gun Fury 3D, Hour Of The Gun and Lawman Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while The Illustrated Man and The Law and Jake Wade are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.



Genre films did not start out fully formed, even when Hollywood tried to invent as many of them as they could. The first action work started in the silent films with serials like Perils Of Pauline that gave stuntmen plenty of work, including in tales of the West, though Westerns did not become a full fledged genre until John Ford's 1939 classic Stagecoach, by which time series added sound and became Saturday Morning movie theater kiddie fare. This not only included action and Westerns, but science fiction, some horror and the first signs of Superheroes.


The following selection of feature film release are far and wide-ranging, but maybe not always as far apart as it may seem...



Amsterdamned


From the Director of The Lift, Dick Maas, comes Amsterdamned (1988) which is definitely inspired by the films of Dario Argento and the like, feeling very much like a giallo but instead of a classic black glove, we have a villain whose a deep sea diver in a diving suit hacking and slashing. Brutal and at times funny, Amsterdamned is a fun film to watch and boasts a highly detailed HD transfer that really does the film justice.


Amsterdamned stars Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven, and Serge-Henri Valcke.


In its core a Jack the Ripper story, corpses (mostly women) are found all over the city of Amsterdam, namely in the canals surrounding different parts of the city. A police investigation gets underway with the authorities hot on the trail of the killer, but his random victims never get a glimpse of his face as its hidden behind a thick black diving suit. Will the killer be caught before he takes more innocent lives? Or is nobody safe in Amsterdam?


Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a nice sounding Dutch DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track along with a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless track and a dubbed English version in DTS-HD MA 2.0. Blue Underground did a wonderful job restoring the film to high definition with a mostly clean transfer that highlights the exotic location in Amsterdam and captures the beauty of the area. There were some compression issues that were stated from Blue Underground recently, with replacement discs being offers to those who caught these minor mistakes, however outside of these issues the film does look great on Blu-ray with a lot of detail and depth in the frame. Also included is a DVD edition of the film in standard definition anamorphically enhanced and with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which presents the film in a lower quality but still acceptable for the format.



Special Features:


Audio commentary with writer/director Dick Maas and editor Hans van Dongen


The Making of Amsterdamned


Tales From The Canal - Interview with star Huub Stapel


Damned Stuntwork - Interview with stunt coordinator Dickey Beer


Dutch & US trailers


Lois Lane "Amsterdamned" music video (directed by Dick Maas)


Poster & still gallery


Collectable booklet with new essay by writer Michael Gingold



Beneath The 12-Mile Reef


Delivering more deep sea diving and possible murder of a different kind, Robert D. Webb's Beneath The 12-Mile Reef (1953) has become a sort of cult favorite for big screen and widescreen movie fans, considered one of the early CinemaScope films that were fun and worked better than usual. The action and passion collide in fighting above the surface, some still-great underwater footage below (it would take Thunderball to top this) and a decent cast that includes an early star turn for Robert Wagner, joined by Gilbert Roland, Terry Moore, J. Carrol Naish, Peter Graves, Richard Boone, Jay Novello, Angela Clarke and Harry Carey Jr. among its interesting cast.


Though the plot is nothing groundbreaking, the great A. J. Bezzerides (Kiss Me Deadly, reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) keeps it going well enough, Webb juggles things well enough, the film looks good thanks to Director of Photography Edward Cronjager and the Bernard Herrmann score turns out to be a fan favorite, keeping this from being just another B-movie with bells and whistles. Fox has licensed this to Twilight Time to be one of their Limited Edition Blu-rays and fans who go way back (including to an old 12-inch laserdisc version of the film and/or the out of print Film Score Monthly CD soundtrack we covered eons ago) will be very satisfied we covered overall.


Playback performance is also the best the film has been since its original release, with the 1080p 2.55 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer a little on the blue side (for the water perhaps?) and only occasionally shows the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film in any other video format and gives us a pretty good idea of how good the original 35mm, dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints of the film must have looked. In addition, the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent, remaining one of the greatest uses of earlier, wider CinemaScope and is impressive.


As for sound, we get both DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and (somewhat lesser and less convincing) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes from a film whose original best sound was 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects, but the 5.1 never sounds fake. Purists might have wanted a 4.0 mix, but the 5.1 will not disappoint.


Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray disc adds and excellent, lossless DTS-MA 3.0 version of Herrmann's work as an Isolated Music Score with audio from the taping sessions where you can hear him talking to the orchestra with fidelity that surpasses the old, out of print CD, an Original Theatrical Trailer, and nearly hour-long look at Wagner's career (Robert Wagner: Hollywood's Prince Charming) originally shown on the AMC Network's hit Biography series.



The Devil Lives Here


Possibly one of the bloodiest foreign horror films I've seen in quite a while, The Devil Lives Here (also known as O Diabo Mora Aqui aka The Fostering) is an edge of your seat blood fest that grabs you and doesn't let go. Leave it up to the foreigners to not shy away from blood and gore, if this one doesn't turn your stomach then likely nothing will and it easily puts that Evil Dead reimagining from a few years ago to shame.


The film stars Pedro Carvalho, Ivo Muller, Sidney Santiago, and Clara Verdier to name a few.


Three teenagers go to visit a friend at his old farmhouse where things at first seem fine and dandy and then suddenly turn supernatural. Of course there's some ancient evil and war brewing that is ripe with demonic forces. The film is directed by Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio.


Presented in standard definition DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Portuguese Stereo track with English subtitles, the film is begging for a HD release from frame one. Noticeable compression issues are evident when viewing in 4K resolution.


Special Features include...


Trailer


Previews for other Artsploitation releases



First Kill (2017)


Star Wars actor Hayden Christensen and Bruce Willis star in the new action/thriller First Kill (2017). While it didn't receive anything beyond a limited run theatrically, the film hits on the pulse of similar child abduction films in the genre, and shows some growth as an actor from Christensen since his George Lucas days. Willis is on autopilot the whole film, however, laying down his one liner with his usual John McClane no nonsense delivery. But without the presence of these two actors, this film wouldn't be anything more than an R-rated CSI episode.


The film also stars Ty Shelton, Gethin Anthony, Heather Johansen, and Charlotte Kirk.


Hot shot Wall Street broker Will (Christensen) takes his family on a vacation in an attempt to rekindle his damaged relationship with his son (Shelton). As part of his elaborate plan, Will decides to take the family up to the secluded cabin where he grew up. However, once Will and Danny go hunting, their trip takes a deadly turn when they witness the murder of a crooked police officer and a bank robbery goes wrong. Will's son finds himself abducted by the bad guys and now it's up to Will and the smooth-talking police Chief (Willis) to crack the case and recover the stolen money in exchange for the boy's life.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and a great sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the film looks and sounds fine on Blu-ray disc. The stylistic tone of the film is natural and the colors are vibrant enough for the genre. The score and sound mix is fine but nothing groundbreaking. A digital UV copy is also included.


Special Features:


Director's Commentary


Deleted Scenes


"Behind the Scenes of First Kill" featurette


Extended Cast/Crew Interviews



Gun Fury 3D


Raoul Walsh's Gun Fury 3D (1953) is the gutsy director's 3D revenge western with Rock Hudson and Phillip Carey taking on each other over Donna Reed, a robbery and the future of the West at a short-but-fun 82 minutes. It can drag at times, but the 3D is a plus and the odd clashing of actors (lead Hudson a bit out of his element, pure heart Reed in the middle of this madness, Carey in an early role) makes it all a one-of-a-kind experience. It is not a great film, but more fun in 3D included on the Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray Sony has licensed of this Columbia Pictures release.


Though the film was apparently issued at 1.75 X 1, we get the solid 1080p MVC-encoded 3-D - Full Resolution digital High Definition image and 2D 1080p digital High Definition image transfer in a slightly horizontally stretched 1.85 X 1 that looks a little more obvious in 2D, which can show the age of the materials used including more grain than expected in some shots. The film was originally issued in both kinds of prints in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor and that is one of the reasons it looks as good as it does now. The 3D has less grain and flaws.


For sound, we get a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix, but it was originally issued with 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects, so we are missing some of the sound indeed sadly. This still sounds good for what it is for its age, but I wonder how much better this would have been with the better sound.


Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a Partial Isolated Music Score (there must be a really interesting story about what happened to the soundmasters on this film) and an Original Theatrical Trailer.



The Hero (2017)


Sam Elliott (who we lost as we were editing this) stars in Director Bretty Haley's The Hero (2017), which reminds me a lot of Jeff Bridges' turn in Crazy Heart (2009) in the way that it centers around a falling star who deals with the bridges that he has burned in the past while trying to maintain his life in present day. Sam Elliott does great in the film and it's great to see him in a role like this but the story isn't as strong as Crazy Heart, with the performances being the highlight.


The film also has a strong supporting cast, which features Krysten Ritter, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Katharine Ross, and Mei Melançon.


The film centers on Lee Hayden (Elliott), who starred in a hit Western in his earlier years, but is now an aging pothead whose struggling to find work in modern day Los Angeles. As he attempts to reconcile his relationship with his daughter (Ritter) and dates a younger woman (Prepon), he gets a cancer diagnosis and decides to live life to the fullest with one more film role.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a nice sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 track that delivers a standard Blu-ray presentation that looks and sound fine considering the nature of the film. The tones are natural and the score is light and delicate with nicely saturated tones. A digital UHD copy is also included.


Special Features...


Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Brett Haley and Actor Sam Elliott


Photo Gallery


Not exactly the type of film that I was expecting, The Hero has some great performances and solid directing but doesn't offer too much that we haven't seen before story-wise.



Hour Of The Gun


John Sturges' Hour Of The Gun (1967) is a challenging film at times that asks the question if Wyatt Earp (James Garner here in one of his most serious, humorless roles ever; a fine performance) was a hero or a cold blooded psychotic killer. It is worth asking in the face of so many myths of the West and many of which were not challenged enough, eventually leading to the demise of the genre by the end of the 1970s. This United Artists gem (now owned by MGM) has now been issued by Twilight Time as one of their Limited Edition Blu-rays, but we originally reviewed the film on DVD years ago at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/2292/Hour+Of+The+Gun+(1967/MGM+DVD


I agree with my fellow writer that the film drags and has issues, yet I like the attempt to do a more honest Western (something that was settling in the genre by the late 1960s) and add the fine cast and ambitious production and it is a better Western than most of the half-hearted ones we are getting from the half-witted revival we have recently experiences with few exceptions since Unforgiven and Dances With Wolves. In that, it is definitely worth a look for those interested and does not drag on as much as any cut of Kevin Costner's ill-fated epic Wyatt Earp years later.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer does not show the age of the materials used much in this transfer that is far superior to the soft DVD from years ago with the DeLuxe color looking as good as it can in the format and joined by a decent DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix that outperforms the DVD easily with more warmth and clarity.


total representation of a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film, but you can see in many places how good it must have looked in such copies. Director of Photography Lucien Ballard shot with real anamorphic Panavision lenses using the full wide frame to best effect, while the score by Jerry Goldsmith helps the film in its flat moments.


Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds an Isolated Music Score with select Sound Effect and Original Theatrical Trailer. Too bad there's no audio commentary track.



The Illustrated Man


Jack Smight's of Ray Bradbury's anthology novel The Illustrated Man (1969) only uses three of the eighteen stories presented, hires the great Rod Steiger in the title role and then some, has some moments worth seeing and is at least trying to do something smart, new, fresh and different in the wake of the new wave of Science Fiction (Godard's Alphaville (1965), Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Kubrick's 2001 (1968)) and even horror, but lands up more like a 103 minutes full color version of The Outer Limits and maybe Twilight Zone than a full-fledged feature film. The tattoos (before the current trend where they are very common) was shocking at the time and spoke of the counterculture of the time as does several other aspects of the film (nudity, new age thinking, et al) and each image is hooked to a different tale.


A young man (Robert Drivas) is in an area near water and forestation, taking a break and swim, when he is soon joined by the mysterious man who is very covered up clothing-wise considering the weather. Along with a small dog and a few belongings, he is traveling too and when the two meet, his body art starts to show and eh eventually starts to explain what each image means. Steiger, Drivas and Claire Bloom play characters in all three segments (futuristic parents let their children get carried away in a holodeck-like place, other parents have to figure out to do with their children when an awful circumstance arrives, astronauts get caught on a bizarre planet) and though the hype on some of the posters (including art on this Blu-ray cover) say the tales are supernatural, that is very tentative at best.


Unfortunately, the film drags despite interesting performances, situations, production design,. costumes and Steiger's gutsiness in getting his body literally plastered with full-color art at a time long before the latex make-up revolution of the 1980s and more complex than Shirley Eaton being painted gold for Goldfinger. Everyone gives their best here, but the results are mixed and never add up, even when the script tries to do otherwise. Fortunately, Warner Archive has decided to issue the film on one of their online-exclusive Blu-rays and you can see for yourself. It has been well restored, in its full widescreen scope image and is worth a good look no matter what you land up thinking about it.


Of course the future in this is the clean modernist one we used to see in the genre all the time and the talent is enough alone to go see this one, no matter its negative reputation. Also, it should be noted that it is on the shortlist of films Woody Allen was poking fun at in his ever-brilliant science fiction spoof Sleeper, so add that to the reasons you should see it.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and the materials used here look really good. The film was shot in real anamorphic 35mm Panavision and at its best, issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints (which are now very valuable) with the color here showing how good that looked because it can look that good often. Director of Photography Philip H. Lathrop (The Killer Elite (1975), Lolly Madonna XXX, Earthquake, Finian Rainbow, Wild Rovers) creates a good looking film with a strange sense of darkness underlying any of its odd beauty, pushing the color into interesting territory. Some of it is also nearly black and white to convey sterility and coldness.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is not bad for its age, has some interesting aural effects and a score by Jerry Goldsmith that makes the film more effective than it otherwise would be. Its times like this I wish the film were in stereo at least or the disc had a stereo isolated music score, but we only get two extras: the Original Theatrical Trailer and a vintage Making Of featurette entitled Tattooed Steiger, worth seeing after watching the film that runs just over 9 minutes.



Kill Switch


Somebody should have pulled the 'kill switch' on this one, the new sci-fi film Kill Switch (2017), a first big film from Director Tim Smit, is full of techno mumbo jumbo as an over-saturation of so-so digital effects shots. Aiming to be a Neill Blomkamp film, but missing the cinematic style and eerie edge, the film is partly from a first person point of view which is a little video-gamey yet what it lacks most are convincing leads.


The film stars Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast), Berenice Marlohe (Skyfall), and Charity Wakefield (Doctor Who).


A Physicist named Will Porter (Stevens) tries to accomplish the impossible task of making unlimited energy a reality for mankind. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, everything can and does go wrong as Will must race through an imploding world against various sci-fi drones and warriors, and retrieve the 'Redivider Box', which will hopefully help set things straight.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the presentation on Blu-ray disc is up to Lionsgate's usual high standards and features a clear image and sound track that suffices fine given the film. If the effects were a bit better, I wouldn't mind seeing it in 4K actually, but that isn't the case here.


A digital UV copy is also included.


Special Features:

"The Visual Effect: Inside the Director's Process" Featurette

Audio Commentary with Director Tim Smit


Kill Switch doesn't lack the heart or originality that it should. The dialogue is clunky and the performances seem to be phoned in. Aside from a few cool SFX moments, there isn't much here.



John Sturges' The Law and Jake Wade (1958) is another one of the director's lesser-known films, but a revenge western with a twist as Wade (Robert Taylor) becomes a sheriff after a big robbery to make his criminal past go away, but that does not work. His former partners resurface and all of this in the middle of war with 'Indians' so you can imagine how all over the place this attempt at an epic Western drama gets. Richard Widmark, Robert Middleton, Henry Silva, DeForest Kelley and Patricia Owens are fine in the supporting cast, but this starts to drag the more it gets to the last reel.


Originally issued by MGM, Warner Bros. owns and is issuing it as part of their online-only Warner Archive Blu-ray series as Hour Of The Gun hits the format. It is not as good as Gun, Gunfight At The OK Corral or The Great Escape, but you can't fault it for falling over itself with ambition. It did not stay with me, the 'Indians' really date it and it is for fans only, but it deserves to be in print in the high quality edition here.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, as well as the limits of the old CinemaScope format, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film I've seen on home video and other video clips. Director of Photography Robert Surtees (The Graduate, Ben Hur (1959), The Last Picture Show) handles the compositions well and Warner has restored this very well.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is not great, but not awful, but a little weaker than expected. The film was originally issued with Perspecta Sound, often found on many VistaVision releases, it offered an imitation stereo that was not stereo as we know it today, but split by frequencies. Does that version survive and how does it sound? We'll see more on that at some point hopefully.


The only extra is the Original Theatrical Trailer.



Last but not least is Michael Winner's brutal revenge western Lawman (1971) with Burt Lancaster in one of his most underrated turns as a marshall who will follow the rule of law, no matter whom he has to gun down in cold blood. He's not a criminal like Jake Wade, has no phony 'happy' reputation as a hero like Wyatt Earp. Here, Lee J. Cobb and his sons have wronged an innocent man, but should they get special treatment for being longtime members of the community? Having friends? Having connections? Because it was accidental? Because they have a ranch and wealth?


Winner was just a short time away from making his infamous first Death Wish film, ironic in both cases as he was known as a British gentleman director and hearing him talk, you'd never know he could get this violent. However, he could put that aside to make sure he told his story with the most impact and took advantage of the new freedom in filmmaking. This was rated R and at the time, would be considered a hard R, but is not as bad as what we see today since the violence is deeply ingrained in the story. The supporting cast including Robert Ryan, Robert Duvall, John McGiver, Albert Salami, Sheree North, J.D. Cannon, John Beck. Ralph Waite and Joseph Wiseman are great and the tine of the film is one of the most no-nonsense in Western history, but it still has a few off moments in its tight 99 minutes running time. For the most part, it gets to the point with just enough character development, but the music score by the amazing Jerry Fielding is a huge plus.


This United Artists gem has been licensed by MGM to Twilight Time as one of their Limited Edition Blu-rays. If you're interested, get it while you can, especially because of the extras and high playback quality.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used in parts, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and clips I've seen of it before. The DeLuxe color is consistent and just right for the Western setting. Director of Photography Robert Paynter (An American Werewolf In London, Scorpio, Curtains, Superman II, Trading Places) keeps coming up with great shots that put you into the story well and may be his most underrated work.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix for the movie sound is a little rough, aged and has slight harmonic limits, so no upgrade from the original optical theatrical monophonic sound was possible, but one of the extras here is Fielding's incredible score in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo and it sounds absolutely amazing. Warm, rich, detailed, full, even lush, its more sonic evidence of why he is one of the greatest movie music composers of all time.


Other extras include yet another illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray disc adds the Original Theatrical Trailer to that stunning Isolated Music Score. Too bad we do not get a feature length audio commentary track, because this film deserves it.



To order Beneath The 12-Mile Reef, Gun Fury 3D, Hour Of The Gun and Lawman limited edition Blu-rays, buy them and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:


www.screenarchives.com


and


http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/


and to order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- James Lockhart & Nicholas Sheffo (Illustrated, 3D, Westerns)

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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