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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Thriller > Outbreak > Alien > Drama > Prison > Character Study > WWII > War > Battles > Aust > Andromeda Strain (1971/Universal/Umbrella PAL Import DVD)/Animal Factory (2000/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Attack Force Z (1981/Umbrella/MVD Visual Blu-ray)/Blood Money (2017/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Death La

Andromeda Strain (1971/Universal/Umbrella PAL Import DVD)/Animal Factory (2000/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Attack Force Z (1981/Umbrella/MVD Visual Blu-ray)/Blood Money (2017/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Death Laid An Egg (1968/Cult Epics Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Houses October Built 2 (2017/RLJ Blu-ray)/Kingsman: The Golden Circle 4K (2017/Fox Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Rift: The Dark Side Of The Moon (2016/MVD Visual DVD)/Time To Die (1966/Film Movement Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A Picture: C+/B+/B/B/B & B-/B/B/B-/B Sound: C+/B/B/B/B & B-/B/B+/B-/B- Extras: D/B/C+/C/C/C+/B/C+/B- Films: B/C+/C+/C/C/C/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Andromeda Strain Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray and DVD players that can handle the PAL format and can be ordered from the link below, plus they also offer Attack Force Z, you can get it in the U.S. from Music Video Distributors.

Here is yet another selection of genre films, some of which have a serious reputation, others of which are new or you may have never heard of...

Robert Wise's film of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain (1971) was a film Wise made after some of the biggest highs (The Sound Of Music) and commercial lows (if extremely ambitious Star!) of his career, a pair of 70mm epics with Julie Andrews. I have not been his biggest fan as a filmmaker, but have to give him credit for always going big and trying to deliver an effective story. This is my favorite film of his, one of the early, original, smart films about a viral outbreak (no matter what the source) and oddly, it remains as relevant as ever as we now face superbugs and massive negligence of the priceless importance of science.

Here, a space satellite has crashed in New Mexico and suddenly, people nearby are affected by a deadly disease that kills quickly and needs to be stopped before a pandemic kills millions and possibly even ends human life on earth as we know it. Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid and James Olson lead the terrific cast in this never-long, always intense, smart, suspenseful thriller like few you've seen before and much imitated since. You'll also love how some of the technology is dated, yet some of it is not and the principals of some of what is still holds up today.

Woody Allen got to mock it a bit a few years later in a few of his films (Sleeper, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex...) while the film itself is part of the proudest cycle of Science fiction films launched by Godard's Alphaville (1965), Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966) and Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and more than endures and stands proud with them. I hope it gets rediscovered soon and is worth going out of your way for.

By the way, a later TV version was made, but it was very disappointing. See this one instead.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was originally issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints, even if the film has a monochrome approach at times. Director of Photography Richard H. Kline (The Boston Strangler, Camelot, De Palma's The Fury, Soylent Green) uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent, including unusual angles to make the crisis that much creepier. This is a transfer the looks better in its bright scenes than dark ones, but when the color kicks in (like in the opening credits), it impresses.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound is often really clean and clear for its age, down to the remarkable electronic score by Gil Melle (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) that holds up remarkably well and is a mixdown from the 6-track magnetic stereo 70mm blow-up soundmaster I hope is recovered whenever Universal does a 4K 2160p Ultra HD Blu-ray of the film. The dialogue and sound effects are clear enough and even the film's silences are effective.

There are sadly no extras.

A horror film in its own right, comedic actor Steve Buscemi takes on drama in his directorial effort Animal Factory (2000), which shows the dark side of prison. Whether you've been in prison or not, this film will certainly send some chills up your spine as it realistically captures what its like. Featuring a solid cast in Edward Furlong, Mickey Rourke, Danny Trejo, and Buscemi himself, Animal Factory is a tough as nails film that's presented on Blu-ray from Arrow in its unrated cut.

Ron (Furlong) is sentenced to prison on marijuana charges and experiences firsthand the horror of life behind bars. Lucky for Ron, he makes a friend in 18-year prison veteran, Earl Copan (Dafoe), who takes Ron under his wing. While dealing with drugs, racism, rape, and every other terrible thing you can think of, Ron tries his best to keep a level head under Earl's guidance. While his lawyer attempts to get Ron out quickly, prison soon crafts him into a new man.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a PCM 2.0 Stereo track, the film looks and sounds fine for Blu-ray with little left to be desired. For a film that's seventeen years old, there are little signs of wear or nose. Arrow continues to do a solid job with this disc being added to the library.

Special Features include...

Audio commentary by novelist/co-writer/actor Eddie Bunker and co-producer/actor Danny Trejo

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by Glenn Kenny.

Early-in-their-career Mel Gibson and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Event Horizon) star in the Australian World War 2 Film, Attack Force Z (1981) in this 35th Anniversary Blu-ray edition. A huge improvement over previous transfers of the film, this 4K scan and restoration from the film's original interpolative looks fantastic here as presented on disc from Umbrella and MVD.

The film also stars Chris Haywood and John Waters and is directed by Tim Burstall. This was one of the films that helped Mel Gibson rise in popularity as it was released in 1982 around the same time as The Road Warrior and Gallipoli. Neill was first seen widely in the third, failed Omen film, but he would soon be on his own road to success.

The period film centers around Captain P.G. Kelly (Gibson) who was dispatched during World War II to locate and rescue the survivors of a shot down plane on a South Pacific island, occupied by the Japanese enemy. One of the castaways, a defecting Japanese official, holds the secret to ending the war and Kelly will do whatever it takes to keep him alive.

Aside from the great looking HD transfer, the film is also presented along with its original uncompressed dual channel PCM 2.0 Mono audio track that sounds pretty good as well. There is some grain evident throughout the feature, but it's not too distracting.

Special Features include...

'The Two-Men Debriefed' (SD, 25 mins) featurette with executive producer John McCallum and actors John Waters and Chris Haywood

Original Theatrical Trailer

Photo Gallery

An Australian cinema classic, Attack Force Z gets the upgrade it deserves.

Greed has a price.

John Cusack returns in Lionsgate's action thriller Blood Money (2017) is a decent re-imagining of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but told in modern day. Centering around a group of kids that come across some 'blood money' aka stolen Cartel money in the woods, it seems like their financial dreams are about to come true... until they quickly discover that a vicious criminal (Cusack) already called dibs on the cash... and isn't exactly eager to hand it over to a bunch of kids who include Ellar Coltrane, Willa Fitzgerald and Jacob Artist.

Cusack does his best with the material and the direction by Lucky McKee (May, Masters of Horror) isn't exactly innovative but interesting. All in all, the film can't escape its predictable plot points and some lesser acting from the supporting cast.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless track, both of which look and sound great for the format and lives up to the high standards that Lionsgate is known for.

A Digital HD copy is also included.

Special Features are pretty scarce here and only include the "Blood Money Uncovered" featurette.

The bizarre 1968 Italian thriller Death Laid an Egg, also known as La morte ha fatto l'uovo, is Directed by Giulio Questi (Django Kill... If you live shoot!) and finds its way onto HD thanks to Cult Epics.

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant (Bertolucci's The Conformist), Ewa Aulin (Candy), and Gina Lollobrigida, the giallo thriller centers around a man, two women, murder and a chicken farm. Who is really the killer? The film touches on a bunch of hot topics including sexism and modern technology within the food service industry.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack features both the 1080p high definition version of the film with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an Italian DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track and English subs. While this edition is in HD, the image isn't as pristine as even a 2K transfer. The film was shot on a low budget for the time I'm sure, but I can't help but feel like the colors could be a big better. Also included is a lesser, compressed standard definition DVD with a lossy, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix.

Extras include...

Isolated Score by Burna Maderna

Lobby Cards Photo Gallery

HD Trailer

There was a limited edition of this that also featured the soundtrack CD and a booklet, however, we did not get them to review and fans should get that version while they can.

The Houses October Built 2 (2017) is a fun low budget Halloween horror romp that follows back with what worked in the original and succeeds in making something interesting with its ultra low budget. Part found footage documentary and part cinematic narrative, the sequel brings back original cast member Brandy Shaeffer, who narrowly survived the first film. Also like the original, the film is from producers of The Insidious and Paranormal Activity franchises.

The sequel also stars Director Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews, Mikey Roe, and Jeff Larson.

In this Houses sequel, we once again center around an anonymous group called the Blue Skeleton, who take Halloween haunting a bit too far. Not afraid to slay their victims and be one step ahead of their prey, the Blue Skeleton pop up as the Halloween season goes into full effect. And for five friends, what starts as a harmless documentary made for a cash grab takes a turn for the worse. After convincing the original survivor, Brandy, to go on a cross country haunted house tour for the film, the crew discovers that the Blue Skeleton has returned in various places across the country. Some of the spots along the way include The Razor's Edge haunt, a Zombie Pub Crawl, a Zombie Run, and a conclusion in the Outer Banks.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, the film looks and sounds as good as it can on the Blu-ray format. Using prosumer cameras, you can tell that some of the drone camerawork is a little shaky with some compression issues. Considering the source of the material, the film looks fine.

Special Features include...

Deleted Scenes

Uncut Projection Scene

Halloween Spooks Music Video

Portrait of a Scare Actor 2

While it may not be the most successful horror franchise, The Houses October Built 2 is fun and interesting in that its ultra low budget and mixes documentary with found footage horror movie. It could take the violence a level further with the unrated home video market, but is still creepy enough to be entertaining.

For our coverage of the first film, try this link...


While not as fresh as the original, the Matthew Vaughn-directed sequel, The Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) is fun eye candy and pretty imaginative despite its mixed word of mouth from critics and audiences.

The film is written from comic book heavyweights Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) and Mark Millar (Kick Ass, Original Kingsman) and brings back much of the original cast members along with some more famous faces. Whether or not you end up liking the film or not, the 4K presentation here is quite impressive and definitely one that fans of the format should check out for image clarity and sound alone.

The all star cast includes Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Colin Firth, Sophie Cookson and Channing Tatum with Elton John and Jeff Bridges.

Eggsy (Egerton) returns, this time a full fledged Kingsman agent, and has to face off with a super villain Poppy (Moore) - who has a bizarre fascination with the 1950s era. Aided by her robotic dogs, solider enhancement appetites, and cannibalistic tastes, her group The Golden Circle is comprised of super human fighters that are out to destroy every Kingsman left the world over. After Poppy destroys every major headquarter of the Kingsman spy organization, the remaining agents must team up to stop her. They manage is bring back Harry Hart (Hurt) using revolutionary new technology who helps Eggsy as Poppy sets a worldwide virus in effect that's linked to recreational drugs. Eggsy has to use his wits and close allies to help the millions affected by the virus and beat The Golden Circle.

The big budget action sequel delivers R-rated espionage action complete with explosions, car chases, puppies, robots, beautiful women, and more violence than a James Bond movie's PG-13 rating will allow. Equal parts comedy and action, the sequel is pretty fun to watch even if its plot isn't as bulletproof as its main characters. I have to admit the film was better than what I was hearing, as the reviews were less than spectacular. A bit cartoonish and over the top at times, there's still a lot of imagination here.

Presented in stunning 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2:39:1 and a great sounding, lossless 11.1 Dolby Atmos track (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 in mixdown), the transfer here is pristine throughout with little left to be desired. Colors are equal and nicely saturated. Also on the disc are tracks in Spanish and French and also included is the 1080p Blu-ray version with similar specs, but not as impressive as the 4K presentation when compared.

A digital HD copy is even included.

Special Features include...

Inside The Golden Circle Documentary

Distilling The Story: Kingsman Returns

Trafficker, Tailor, Southerner, Spy

Poppy's Special Guest: Elton John

Nefarious Lairs & High-Falutin' Headquarters

Suited And Booted

Weapons of Choice

Brothers In Arms

Doomsday Protocol: Visual Effects

End Game

Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase

Kingsman Archives

Concept Art: Sets, Costumes (36 Images)

and Stills: Behind The Scenes, Sets, Props, The Cast (52 Images)

If you're looking for a popcorn muncher and enjoyed the first, The Golden Circle is worth watching for Julianne Moore's performance alone.

For more on the first film, here's our coverage of its 4K release...


Not bad for a low budget sci-fi movie, Devin Zecevic's The Rift: The Dark Side of the Moon (2016), is an ambitious thriller that wears its inspirations on its sleeves but is fairly well executed even with its big budget dreams.

Starring Ken Foree (Rob Zombie movie alumni, the original Romero Dawn of the Dead), who is a great and highly underused actor, the film centers around the death of a child and an American military satellite that crash lands in Eastern Serbia. When a team of US and Serbian agents are dispatched to secure the remains of the satellite, they discover a rift that changes their lives forever.

Presented in standard definition DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix, the film looks and sounds fine for the format compression issues are evident but that's to be expected. The film has an interesting soundtrack, which starts with a Pink Floyd knockout (it is called 'Dark Side of the Moon' after all) and ends with some funky offbeat electronica for the end credits.

Special Features...


Slide Show

BTS Featurette

and a Music Video

Nothing groundbreaking here, but its not a bad watch.

Arturo Ripstein's Time To Die (1966) is a Revenge Western, but the big twist here it that it is simply not a product of Hollywood, the town that build the Western genre. Instead, it is a Mexican production with Jorge Martinez de Hoyos (from the original Magnificent Seven) finally out of jail after 18 years, ready to get his life back and expecting what little he was promised after he was locked up to be there again. He's about to get a few unexpected surprises.

Film Movement has issued this new restoration of Ripstein's feature film debut on Blu-ray and after seeing so many bad retro Westerns with endless formula and predictability, it is oddly refreshing to see a film almost as raw as Leone's 'Spaghetti Westerns' from around the same time. Not that it does not have its conventions, but writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Old Gringo author Carlos Fuentes did the dialogue) tries to make this into a character study of sorts and is more successful than not. However, the genre was changing into its final phase before it full life ended by the early 1980s. For all the reasons that this is just different and works in and from its time, it is worth a look, even if you are not a Western fan. It makes me want to (re)see Ripstein's films. Marga Lopez (Bunuel's Nazarin) also stars.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, especially in a few places, but this looks fine otherwise and not like your usual monochrome film of the time from Hollywood, from TV or even independently made for whatever reasons. I consider that a plus. The PCM 2.0 Stereo is not bad for its age, simple as it is, but is it a boost of older mono or from a soundmaster (and/or soundstems) that just allowed for this? Either way, it is fine for its age and budget.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent essay by Carols A. Guttierrez, while the Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary track by Director Arturo Ripstein & Accot Enrique Rocha and a video intro by Director Alex Cox, a big fan of the film.

To order the Umbrella import DVD of The Andromeda Strain, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Strain, Die) and James Lockhart



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