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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Crime > TV > War > Swords > Battles > Italy > Horror > Thriller > Science Fiction > Experim > Black Lightning: The Complete First Season (2018/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray set)/Colossus Of Rhodes (1961/MGM*)/Death Smiles On A Murderer (1973/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Bride Of (1993)/Beyond Re-Animator (20

Black Lightning: The Complete First Season (2018/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray set)/Colossus Of Rhodes (1961/MGM*)/Death Smiles On A Murderer (1973/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Bride Of (1993)/Beyond Re-Animator (2003/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Super Fly (1972/*both Warner Archive Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Bride Of/Beyond Re-Animator Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and can play on all Blu-ray players, while the Colossus Of Rhodes and Super Fly Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a group of genre releases you definitely should read about...

DC Comics' latest TV series Black Lighting joins the ranks of their other broadcast cable series seen mostly on the CW (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow - all reviewed elsewhere on this site). Granted, he's not the most popular character that they could of chose, but it's a safe one. Released around the time Marvel's Black Panther (see our 4K review elsewhere on this site) swept cinemas, this new series came out to mixed fanfare. A bit too predictable and silly to take too seriously at times, there isn't much originality to any aspect of this superhero show and is about as cookie cutter as you can get... but that's not to say it isn't at times entertaining.

Black Lightning: The Complete First Season (2018) stars Cress Williams (Code Black), China Anne McClain (House of Payne), Nafessa Williams (Twin Peaks), Christine Adams (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Marvin "Krondon" Jones III, Damon Gupton (Whiplash) and James Remar (The Path).

The show is based on the DC character created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden, Not surprisingly, Black Lightning is executive produced TV heavyweights Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Blindspot, Riverdale), Salim and Mara Brock Akil (The Game, Being Mary Jane, Girlfriends), and Sarah Schechter (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC's Legends of Tomorrow).

Jefferson Pierce was Black Lighting... a vigilante that could harness electricity. Now the years have passed and Pierce is a mild mannered daddy to two and a principal at a high school. Thinking that his past as a crimefighter is over, he is soon thrown back into the field as a gang known as the One Hundreds threaten his neighborhood.

The first season is comprised of thirteen episodes which include The Resurrection, Lawanda: The Book of Hope, Lawanda: The Book of Burial, Black Jesus, And Then the Devil Brought the Plague, Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder, Equinox: The Box of Fate, The Book of Revelations, The Book of Little Black Lies, Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption, Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion, The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain, and lastly Shadow of Death: The Book of War.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (the norm for TV series of this nature) and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the presentation is top notch and up to Blu-ray standards. Of course when this show as originally broadcast it was on network television so not only did it have commercial breaks but hideous watermarks all over it too. In short, if you're a fan of the series, this will be like watching it for the first time as its an uninterrupted and clean transfer. A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include...

Black Lightning Comic-Con panel

A Family of Strength

Black Lightning Come Visit Georgia

Gag Reel

and Deleted Scenes

Before he gained control of his filmmaking his way, Sergio Leone directed the swords & sandals B-movie Colossus Of Rhodes (1961), the kind of film Steve Reeves was making at the time and became the biggest star of in this version of the cycle. However, Rory Calhoun, the gritty character actor known then for Westerns and later for the bloody cult horror spoof Motel Hell (1980) and underrated hit daytime TV soap opera Capitol, plays the moderately strong-looking Dario, who became a war hero out of Athens (circa 280 B.C.) and now is involved in several attempts to overthrow a king whose become a dictating tyrant. The centerpiece of his rule is a new gigantic statue of Apollo.

Of course, the film becomes a mix of big casts, badly dubbed dialogue, mixed fighting sequences and all tend to pale as compared to Kubrick's Spartacus the year before, but the promotion sure goes out of its way to look like it is as big as that film. I give the makers credit for going as bonkers as they could with the resources they had, but the mostly unknown cast can only do so much with the material and the overall result is an uneven film in the genre as expected. Leone is trying to make this work and Calhoun tries to carry this too, so it is interesting to watch the ambition, something most modern blockbusters lack, so those interested should give it a watch, especially on this new Blu-ray.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is better than I've ever seen the EastmanColor production, shots in the old anamorphic 35mm format SuperTotalScope, either a relabeled TotalScope to make it sound better or maybe a barely improved one. Either way, like old CinemaScope, the quality of the lenses show their age as do the 35mm materials. With that said, this is as rest is worth sitting through the flaws to see what looks good.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is a decent representation of the old theatrical mono, though like all old Italian post-WWII films, the dubbing throughout and all over is obvious and can make it challenging to watch whether you are laughing at the flaws or trying to concentrate and enjoy the film.

The only extra is a good one, s feature length audio commentary track by film scholar and historian Christopher Frayling that is very informative and really adds tot he film.

Director Joe D'Amato (Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Beyond the Darkness) is one of the best Italian film directors of all time and even though he has left us, his work lives on in beautiful high definition. Other studios have been restoring and releasing D'Amato's films on Blu-ray disc, most notably Severin Films with their deluxe Beyond the Darkness Blu-ray last year and Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals this year. Now, Arrow steps forward with D'Amato's thriller Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973), starring Klaus Kinski, which is a bizarre little piece of cinema indeed. A period piece, the film is set in Austria and has high production value and great costuming. While gory, it's not quite as far as D'Amato goes later in his career.

Set in the 1900s, centers around a man that discovers an ancient Incan formula for raising the dead, and uses it for a series of revenge murders. Many fall victim in the film and its lucid and dreamlike story (aided by a fantastic score) feels the speculation of who is going to die next. Some of the best scenes are in the last act when the Undead Murderer stalks her prey and it is uniquely photographed and cleverly cut.

The film has been beautifully remastered in 1080p high definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio track, both of which are of great quality. A 2K restoration from the original camera negative, the beautiful cinematography is elegantly captured. You can watch the film in German or Italian (which has newly translated subs) and the original soundtracks as well.

Special Features include...

New audio commentary by writer and critic Tim Lucas

D'Amato Smiles on Death, an archival interview in which the director discusses the film

All About Ewa, a newly-filmed, career-spanning interview with the Swedish star

Smiling on the Taboo: Sex, Death and Transgression in the horror films of Joe D'Amato, new video essay by critic Kat Ellinger

Original trailers

Stills and collections gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Stephen Thrower and film historian Roberto Curtis

Death Smiles on a Murder is a classic and has never looked this good before.

Umbrella releases H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator trilogy on Blu-ray and this review focuses on the Brian Yuzna (Society) directed sequels, Bride of Re-Animator (1993) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003), both of which are together for the first time in HD and star cult film superstar Jeffrey Combs.

Bride was previously released on Blu-ray by Arrow films last year which is a much heftier release with more extras. This is the first time that Beyond has been available in HD, although a Vestron edition is coming out later this summer (with different extras for sure) that we hope to cover and compare to this release as well.

You can check out our past coverage here...




Bride of Re-Animator

It has been eight months since the bloody massacre at Miskatonic Medical School. Unperturbed by the disastrous outcome of his previous meddling with the dead, Dr. West (Combs) continues his research into the phenomenon of re-animation; only this time, he plans to create life - starting with the heart of his lab assistant Dan's dearly deceased, Meg Halsey. Surely nothing could go wrong?

Beyond Re-Animator

When he was young, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) watched his sister get torn apart by one of Dr. Herbert West's (Combs) reanimated corpses. Phillips, now a doctor, is eager to learn more about the mad doctor's attempts to bring back the dead that he accepts a position at the prison where West is being held. Phillips delves further into West's gruesome research, which attracts the attention of a local reporter (Elsa Pataky) and the cruel prison warden (Simon Andreu).

Both films are presented on 1080p High definition with great sounding 5.1 mixes. The films have slightly different widescreen aspect ratios... 1:85 (Bride) and 1.78:1 (Beyond). The transfer of Bride is only bested by the Arrow release, which has a slightly cleaner audio track as well.

Special Features...

Unrated and Rated Versions

Audio Commentary by Director Brian Yuzna and David Gregory (Severin Films)

Audio Commentary with Brian Yuzna, Jeffrey Combs, Tom Rainone, John Carl Buechler, Mike Deak, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger, and Screaming Mad George

Audio Commentary with Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott

Brian Yuzna remembers Bride of Re-Animator Featurette

Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists

Getting Ahead in Horror Featurette

Behind the Scenes with Special Effects Artists

Deleted Scenes

Dark Adventures Radio Presents: Herbert West: Re-Animator Trailer

The Making of Beyond Re-Animator

Dr. Re-Animator: Animate Your Bones

Interviews/BTS Trailers

While this edition is a little pricey in the U.S., it definitely has some great extras and nice presentations if you don't want to go for the Arrow or Vestron releases. It is nice to have both of them together. Too bad Stuart Gordon didn't return to the directing chair for these two, however Yunza has an interesting cinematic voice that works for this genre.

Finally, we have Gordon Parks Jr.'s original Super Fly (1972) arriving exclusively on Warner Archive Blu-ray as the remake starts to arrive in theaters. This original was made on a low budget in the early days of what became the so-called 'Blaxploitation' movement and is both one of its earliest and best films along with Sweet Sweetback's..., Shaft, the Slaughter films and Black Caesar.

In this case, we have Ron O'Neal as Priest, the drug dealing anti-hero of the piece, dealing with others who might be trying to take over his business, turf or just trying to rob from him, but he's got so much going on working to his advantage (women, money, connections, knowing secrets, great clothes of the time and a car like nothing you've ever seen before) that he's a few steps ahead of everyone... even racist white police officers and others high up in power who would like to use him or stop him.

Another ace in the hole he has is his mentor, played by the great character actor Julius W. Harris, who is one of the only actors alive who could have taken this role and made it work. Their chemistry makes you believe they've known each other for many years, are best friends and built what they have going. O'Neal's work here is easy to underestimate as well, carrying the film without a false note throughout. The other actors are not bad either and sometimes you feel like you are watching a documentary and not a drama, but using the streets of New York City of the time (another priceless aspect of the film) means they could not lose cinematically and this is a classic of its genre that deserves the top rate treatment it gets on this Blu-ray edition.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer hardly shows the age of the materials used, is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and manages to retain the grittiness, grain and rich color of the film as shot. To compete with MGM and Shaft, Warner Bros. decided top do them one better at the time by outdoing the color format the 35mm release prints were in. Shaft was issued in MetroColor as MGM's lab was still alive and well, but Warner allowed Technicolor to issue the film in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints and though this transfer might not always show that, at times it does and it is also one of my demos for rich, thick 35mm film of the time looking as it should. They did a great job of the transfer here.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix shows the age and limits of the budget of the film in terms of dialogue and location audio recording, so only so much can be done with that, but as many know, the classic music added to the film by the legendary, ingenious Curtis Mayfield took a good genre film and made it into its own classic. His music is excellent, defines the heavy soul of the era and expands the narrative situations like little to nothing we had ever seen before. It could be argued that years before Flashdance, MTV and the like, Mayfield made this the first soundtrack-driven non-musical and it may be a classic in that respect as much as anything else, which says something. His music was all recorded in studio and in stereo, but being it was probably too high fidelity versus the original dialogue recordings, a stereo or 5.1 upgrade was not possible here. Still, Warner cleaned this up as much as possible without ruining it.

Extras include a solid feature length audio commentary track by film scholar and historian, Dr. Todd Boyd, USC Professor of Cinema and Television and author of ''Am I Black Enough For You: Popular Culture From the 'Hood and Beyond'' (with a few silent moments), Curtis Mayfield on Super Fly, ''Behind the Hog'' with Les Dunham, Ron O'Neal on the Making of Super Fly, Costume Designer Nate Adams Goes ''Behind The Threads'', One Last Deal: A Retrospective Documentary and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

To order the Bride Of/Beyond Re-Animator Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other hard-to-find releases at:


...and to order either or both of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, The Colossus Of Rhodes and Super Fly, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Colossus, Super Fly) and James Lockhart



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