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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Vampire > Thriller > Monster > Action > Spy > Drama > British > Science Fiction > Fantasy > TV Mini-S > Aaron's Blood (2017/Gravitas Ventures Blu-ray)/Age Of Kill (2015/Sony DVD)/Children Of Dune (2003/Umbrella Import Blu-ray Set)/The Devil's Rain (1975/Severin Blu-ray)/The Entity (1982/Umbrella Import

Aaron's Blood (2017/Gravitas Ventures Blu-ray)/Age Of Kill (2015/Sony DVD)/Children Of Dune (2003/Umbrella Import Blu-ray Set)/The Devil's Rain (1975/Severin Blu-ray)/The Entity (1982/Umbrella Import Blu-ray)/Hell On Frisco Bay (1955/Warner Archive Blu-ray)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Children Of Dune and Entity Import Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and can play on all Blu-ray players, while Hell On Frisco Bay is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.



And now another selection of genre films you should know about...



Aaron's Blood


The new Vampire flick, Aaron's Blood (2017), puts a real-world spin on the genre. Aaron (James Martinez) is a single dad to Tate - a hemophiliac. Poor little Tate gets picked on in school by a bully and ends up in the hospital when he loses too much blood. Stuck in the hospital and exhausting all options, Aaron makes friends with a Vampire. After a blood transfusion saves his life, Tate soon ends up showing vampiric side effects of course, much to the surprise of his unbeknownst mother. The film has a fun concept but overall is pretty bland with no performance or stylistic direction that really grabs the eye. When compared to a film like Let Me In (or Let The Right One In), which is sort of in the same vampire sub-genre, there's really no comparison that this is could have been executed better.


The film also stars Justin Roberts, Farah White, Michael Chieffo, Luke Barnett, and Sterling Stovall to name a few. The film is directed by Tommy Stovall (Sedona, Hate Crime).


Presented in standard definition DVD with an anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital track, the film looks and sounds as good as it can for DVD with nothing too great about its compressed look and dimly dark images. The score is very reminiscent of other supernatural terrors with haunting piano cues supported by decent sound design.


Special Features are standard EPK and include...


BTS B-Roll


BTS Intro


Making Of


Deleted Scenes


Trailer


Aaron's Blood is an hour of slow build-up with so-so performances and half baked drama until we finally get to see some vampire action. And when that action arrives, it's a bit lackluster when compared to stronger films in the genre. Some scenes meant to be serious and instead comical. This is that kind of movie.



Age Of Kill


Neil Jones' Age Of Kill (2015) is another entry in the tired cycle of cliched terrorist attack films, but the twists here include that this one takes place in London (cliched though, if you have endless U.K. police procedurals to suffer through as overly numerous as their U.S. counterparts), it wants to evoke the current era of Daniel Craig Bond films (which it overdoes to the point of being sickening) and it has actor and former singer Martin Kemp (now on the endless U.K. TV soap opera EastEnders, but best known internationally as part of the great duo Spandau Ballet with his brother) trying to hit the best notes as the hero/protagonist.


Sadly, as much as I really wanted this to work and like the idea that Kemp could pull a Mark Wahlberg somehow (he and his brother were excellent as Peter Medak's The Krays (reviewed elsewhere on this site) so both can actually act as well as they sing!), the 86 minutes here are flatly shot (Basic Instinct 2 anyone?) with script that plays like a bad 'greatest hits' of everything we've seen before and the title here might best the 'the age of underkill' since old episodes of The Saint, Return Of The Saint, Jason King, The Professionals, Callan and The Sandbaggers seem elaborate by comparison. The makers of these new action productions seem to have just arrived with zero point of reference or point at all sadly, so any potential goes right out the window.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 at least play well enough, though I again thought the film achieved no new look that worked. There are no extras either, but this much is true, Kemp will only find action 'gold' if he can find something as classy, smart and memorable as his previous music hits. Thus, 'only when you leave' the cliches behind should you put yourself though this trouble again.



Children Of Dune (2003)


Of all the science fiction franchises, it seems that Dune has yet to have found its so called 'definitive' film version. David Lynch's adaption (Lynch took his name off of it at one point and never really got his final cut) of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel in 1984 is met with mixed reviews from fans and critics... now relevant more for with its association with Lynch himself than as a film on its own. Then there's this, more definitive, adaption that was originally broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2000, followed by this 2003 follow-up: Children of Dune.


It's not often you see many Dune fans come forward as they do with other Sci-Fi franchises in that there aren't many Dune cosplayers or merchandise as there are with other genres as well. None of the films have been box office/ratings smashes (but this series obviously was enough for this follow-up to exist), so this could be one reason why. The story and world of Dune is pretty desolate, epic, and dark so I'm surprised Hollywood studios haven't tackled it yet as they go through remake after remake (though whispers persist).


The story is a bit complicated honestly, but to sum it up: The twins of Paul "Muad'dib" Atreides, who both hold supernatural abilities, become embroiled in the political landscape of Arrakis and the rest of the universe. Unlike Star Wars, this series is a bit political, with lots of drama and sparse action. I would definitely suggest watching the 2000 mini-series before this, which you can read more about at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7480/Dune+(2000/Umbrella+Entertainment/Region+Zero



Starring a then-unknown but now huge star James McAvoy (Wanted, X-Men Prequel films, Atomic Blonde) and Susan Sarandon, plus Alec Newman, Edward Atterton, Steven Berkoff, Daniela Amavia, and Julie Cox to name just the leads with direction by Greg Yaitanes (Banshee) and a screenplay by filmmaker John Harrison, who often collaborated with George A. Romero on such classics as Creepshow and Day of the Dead. Running a staggering four and a half hours long and spread over three parts, the mini-series is presented on Blu-ray from Umbrella.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.77:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless English track, this is easily the best way to watch the series at home. Commercial and watermark free and sporting a clean image and strong mix, fans will definitely choose to binge the story in this release. Some of the digital effects are lacking but this is quite an ambitious production with overall impressive production value on all fronts.


Extras include...


Special Effects


Making of Featurette


Storyboards with Commentary


Visual Effects Featurette


Umbrella Entertainment is the place to go if you want to get this series on either Blu-ray or DVD as they have the first original 2000 series (which features William Hurt) and this series available on both formats.


To my knowledge either series hasn't gotten a Region A release from the studio as of this writing on Blu-ray. There have been talks that rising Director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) is taking Dune as one of his upcoming projects. Could this be the so-called definitive version that fans have been waiting for? Either way, this series is fine for what it is and presumably for hardcore fans that have read the books, but not really engaging to even someone like me, who is obsessed with Sci-Fi.


In the meantime, also check out the earlier feature film version of Dune by Alejandro Jodorowsky that fell through, yet influenced a few later classics...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/12860/Jodorowsky's+Dune+(2014/Sony+Blu-ray+w/DVD


Or our most favorable coverage of the David Lynch 1984 feature film...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/3727/Dune+-+Extended+Edition



Robert Fuest's The Devil's Rain (1975)


I like Robert Fuest as a director and his ambitious camera style puts most pseudo-slick HD productions with their lazy Go Pro cameras to shame, but he went irrecoverably overboard when he made The Devil's Rain (1975) in conjunction with the actual Church of Satan itself. Jumping on the Rosemary's Baby/Exorcist bandwagon, we reviewed the DVD release of the film many years ago at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/3006/The+Devil's+Rain+(1975/VCI+DVD


Not a big initial success at the time of its release, it found curiosity interest because of its name cast and was reissued by another company after its original distributor Bryanston (the gangster-controlled distributor soon busted for good by the U.S. Government, but not before releasing films like the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre among other memorable releases) was gone, selling the film on then-unknown John Travolta who became a big star in between releases by that time.


Severin has picked up the film for home video in the U.S. and issued a well-upgraded Blu-ray with a ton of new extras never seen before. The film has not improved with age and if anything, its clearness reveals how much more standard of an approach Fuest took with shooting it and that may have hurt it all around despite having the use of the underrated anamorphic Todd AO 35mm scope format in his hands. Still, for better and worse, it is worth a look, but just don't get your hopes up too much. However, you may be laughing unintentionally at all the odd, unexpected and outright bad moments in the film. I guess Satan and company cannot spot bad scripts and cliches.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used a little bit here and there, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film, was (again) shot in the great Todd AO 35mm anamorphic scope format (based on their brilliant 70mm lenses) and it does give it all an odd look and feel throughout that does help the film. Early posters and press promotion suggest it would be issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor print versions of the film, but that process had ended the year before in the U.S., so any such print that might exist now would have to come from the U.K. or unexpectedly from another market and be very valuable. In many shots though, you can see in many places how good it must have looked in such copies, but then the Lord is said to work in mysterious ways, so Satan loses again!


Later prints would be on Eastman Color, Kodak, 3M/Ferrania or other film stocks that might or might not fade, depending on how they were developed, stored and saved. I cannot imagine this looking much better than we see here and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless sound mix is not bad and as clear as we could expect for a theatrical monophonic film of the time with such a limited budget.


Extras are the new highlight and include a feature length Audio Commentary track with Director Robert Fuest, Confessions Of Tom - Interview with Actor Tom Skerritt, The Devil's Makeup - Interview With Special FX Artist Tom Burman, 1975 Archive Interview with Actor William Shatner, First Stop Durango - Interview with Script Supervisor Ana Maria Quintana, Consulting with the Devil - A Conversation with the High Priest & High Priestess of the Church of Satan, Hail Satan! - Interview with Anton LaVey Biographer Blanche Barton, Filmmaker/Horror Collector Daniel Roebuck On The Devil's Rain, On Set Polaroid Gallery Of Script Supervisor Ana Maria Quintana Accompanied By Radio Spots, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots and a Poster/Still Gallery.


The back of the Blu-ray case says the bonus content was approved by Lucifer himself! 42 years after the original film, that is really very odd, goofy and a little unnecessarily desperate. Otherwise, see this once for what works.



The Entity


Barbara Hershey (Black Swan) stars in this supernatural thrill-ride of Sidney J. Furie's The Entity (1982), a film that was defiantly inspired by The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby in its raw depiction of horror violence. Based on true events, the film centers around Hershey, a mother of three, who is raped and tortured by a demonic spirit. Though made years before, the film reminds me a bit of the original Poltergeist, with some elements of other horror films of the year. Interestingly photographed with a convincing performance by Hershey and a nerve-racking score, The Entity is an effective piece of horror cinema. The film also stars Ron Silver, Robert McNaughton, and David Labiosa and is directed by Sidney J. Furie (The Ipcress File, Lady Sings The Blues, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace).


After a typical night after work getting ready for bed, Carla Moran (Hershey) is raped and attacked by an invisible force in her very bedroom. With no sign of any intruder and other supernatural occurrences happening, she begins therapy with Dr. Phil Sneiderman (Ron Silver), a psychiatrist who believes Carla's traumatic past is motivating her to commit self-induced injuries, rather it being a ghost. However, she knows that it's not in her past and that she's not just seeing (and feeling) things. Finally, with the help of some college students/paranormal investigators, Carla gets the help she needs to figure out what is happening.


The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless track, the film looks and sounds surprisingly great on Blu-ray disc. While there was an Anchor Bay release of the film on Blu-ray in 2012, I'm unsure of how this disc compares to that one, however from what I've read and heard, it appears that this version is superior.


Special Features include...


Finding a Voice: A Conversation with composer Charles Bernstein


Robert McNaughton Remembers The Entity


HD Theatrical trailer


Poster and Stills gallery


Reversible Blu-ray sleeve



Hell On Frisco Bay


Frank Tuttle's Hell On Frisco Bay (1955) is a slightly melodramatic big screen gangster film with Alan Ladd as a former cop just getting out of jail for being a dirty cop, immediately bad to his woman and out to get the man who sent him there. That won't be easy because it is a powerful gangster (Edward G. Robinson still playing to type, even if it is in color and scope) who he will not be able to easily get to, but can the element of surprise work to his advantage in revenge?


No doubt the film looks good, has some fine location shots (though I kept thinking how much better Hitchcock's Vertigo was at those moments) and it is slow moving often, hoping to coast on the color, widescreen and impressive cast that also includes William Demerest, Joanne Dru, Paul Stewart, Perry Lopez and even Fay Wray!


So some of it plays as very dated and other parts are actually interesting, making it worth a look at least once, but it is a more commercial release and the studio knew it. You may even be amused (unintentionally?) at times, but it is no classic of any genre. At least this well-restored Blu-ray from Warner Archive offers fine playback and though the 1080p 2.55 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and it is very well restored. We still get some of the imperfections of the older CinemaScope format and the WarnerColor has its limits, but it looks fine otherwise and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix will have to do until a good copy (if one still exists) of the original 4-track magnetic soundmaster with traveling dialogue and sound effects for this film is ever recovered.


The only extra is the Original Theatrical Trailer.



To order the Children Of Dune and The Entity Umbrella import Blu-rays, go to this link for them and other hard to find releases:


http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/


...and to order the Hell On Frisco Bay Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo (Age, Rain, Hell) & James Lockhart

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


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