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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Vampire > Mystery > Giallo > Italy > Serial Killer > Comedy > Satire > Schlock > Thril > Addiction, The (1995*)/Case Of The Scorpion's Tail (1971*)/Doom Asylum (1987*)/The Great Game (2015/Icarus DVD)/Sleeping Dogs (1977/*all MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)

Addiction, The (1995*)/Case Of The Scorpion's Tail (1971*)/Doom Asylum (1987*)/The Great Game (2015/Icarus DVD)/Sleeping Dogs (1977/*all MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)

Picture: B+/B+/B/C+/B Sound: B+/B/B/C/B Extras: B/B/B/D/B Films: B/C+/C/C+/C+

Here's a sometimes twisted group of thrillers, some with mystery about them...

A dark and semi-realistic take on the Vampire genre, Abel Ferrara's The Addiction (1995) gets a new life on Blu-ray disc thanks to Arrow with a excellent presentation. The black and white film, which features Lili Taylor (The Conjuring, Mystic Pizza) and Christopher Walken himself, is pretty heavy, slow moving, and philosophical and doesn't shy away from going dark places.

The film also stars Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco, Paul Calderon and Fredro Starr.

Kathleen (Taylor) is a philosophy student living a normal life... until one night when she is attacked in an alley and bitten on the neck by Casanova (Sciorra). After that night, she starts to slowly become a vampire and slowly leaves her human life behind. This get even wilder from here.

The film is presented in 1080p with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a great sounding restored DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, this is a very nice black and white presentation of this edgy film. As with many releases from Arrow video, the sound and picture are top notch as this is a new restoration in 4K from the original camera negative and approved the film's Director of Photography, Ken Keisch. This is likely the best that this film has ever looked as to my knowledge it hasn't been released in HD until this point. Defiantly worth checking out.

Special Features include...

Feature-length audio commentary by Abel Ferrara, moderated by critic and biographer Brad Stevens

Talking with the Vampires (2018), a new documentary about the film made by Ferrara especially for this release, featuring actors Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor, composer Joe Delia, Ken Kelsch, and Ferrara himself

New interview with Abel Ferrara

New interview with Brad Stevens

Abel Ferrara Edits The Addiction, an archival piece from the time of production

Original trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by critic Michael Ewins

Italian Director Sergio Martino's gorgeously shot giallo The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (1971) lands on Blu-ray with a deluxe presentation thanks to Arrow films. This is one of the nicest restorations I've seen of an older foreign film on Blu-ray disc as of late with impeccable detail, especially on some of the wide shots.

The film stars George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, and Evelyn Stewart to name a few.

The giallo film takes advantage of its exotic locations and centers around Lisa Baumer (Stewart) who learns that her husband has been killed in a plane accident. She travels to Greece to collect his life insurance policy... but becomes a target for murder instead. A detective named Peter Lynch (Hilton) is soon hired and attempts to protect her from the unknown killer.

The film has been remastered and restored in 2K from the original camera negative and presented here in 1080p high definition. The film sports a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and the original lossless Mono Italian and English soundtracks. Also on the disc are newly translated English subtitles.

Special Features include...

Audio commentary with writer Ernesto Gastaldi, moderated by filmmaker Federico Caddeo (in Italian with English subtitles)

New interview with star George Hilton

New interview with director Sergio Martino

New analysis Sergio Martino's films by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film

New video essay by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Rachael Nisbet and Howard Hughes, and a biography of star Anita Strindberg by Peter Jilmstad

Doom Asylum (1987) is a schlocky horror comedy is for the folks who love low brow '80s laughs that stars Frankenhooker herself, Patty Mullen, as well as a young Kristin Davis (Sex and the City), but that doesn't help just how terribly bad this movie is on every possible level (including scene continuity). Arrow as per usual delivers a great presentation of the disc with some new extras, restoring this VHS oddity to HD for collectors and cult fanatics.

Doom Asylum also stars Ruth Collins, Harrison White, and Michael Rogen.

Presented in 1080p high definition Blu-ray with a two different widescreen aspect ratio choices (1.85:1 and 1.33:1), the film is presented with its original uncompressed PCM Mono audio mix. This new presentation from Arrow is a 2K restoration from the original camera negative, so no doubt this is the best the film has ever looked. Though shot on a shoestring, the film holds up and looks good all things considered.

Special Features include...

Brand new feature-length audio commentary with screenwriter Rick Marx

Brand new feature-length audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues

Tina's Terror - a brand new interview with actress Ruth Collins

Movie Madhouse - a brand new interview with director of photography

Larry Revene Morgues & Mayhem - a brand new interview with special make-up effects creator Vincent J. Guastini

Archival Interviews with producer Alexander W. Kogan, Jr., director Richard Friedman and production manager Bill Tasgal

Still Gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourne

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully-illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes

Though you might find politics in some other releases in this batch of films, Nicolas Pariser's The Great Game (2015) is more explicitly about them as an older veteran politician (Andre Dussollier) asks a young writer (Melvil Poupaud) to secretly ghost write for him about politics, et al, but the one-time best-selling younger author is being fed information that is intended to bring down certain French political figures. Before he knows it, some people want to kill him!

You can immediately ask if you've heard this plot before or if the younger guys is dumb enough to do this without thinking, is he none-too-bright and should know better than to get himself into such trouble? The DVD case even evokes Michael Clayton (the underrated George Clooney/Tilda Swinton film), House Of Cards (only the U.K. version is watchable now) and Polanski's underseen Ghost Writer with Ewan McGregor. This could have been as good as they were, but the script meanders like this is an original idea and 100 minutes later, nothing much here is memorable or really works despite the efforts of a decent cast and some nice locale shots.

Maybe this is one kind of such thriller too many, even if being French, you might expect a different perspective, but it seems too much like all we've already seen and at least never insulted my intelligence. Too bad they couldn't find new ground, but the still-curious should still give it a look.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is not bad with some style for an HD shoot, but Video Black suffers a bit, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is a little weaker and quieter than expected, so be careful of high playback levels and volume switching. There are no extras.

We conclude with a early film by a director now known for many big Hollywood productions. An interesting (and frightening) war film set against the backdrop of New Zealand, Sleeping Dogs (1977) features a young Sam Neil (Jurassic Park) as Smith whose drawn into a struggle between guerillas and right-wingers. Implicated in a murder and framed as a revolutionary conspirator, Smith tries to maintain an attitude of non-violence while being stuck in the middle and tries to stay alive.

The film also stars Ian Mune, Warren Oates, Nevan Rowe, and Clyde Scott.

Sleeping Dogs is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an optional 2.0 (uncompressed LPCM) and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, the presentation here is up to standards and looks and sounds fine for the format. The film hasn't aged to much and has some strong production design that hasn't lost its effectiveness over the years.

Special Features include...

Commentary by writer-director Roger Donaldson, actor Sam Neill and actor-writer Ian Mune

The Making of Sleeping Dogs (2004), a 65-minute retrospective documentary on the film's production featuring interviews with Donaldson, Neill, Mune, Geoff Murphy

The Making of Sleeping Dogs (1977), a contemporary behind-the-scenes documentary featuring interviews with Donaldson and Neill

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell, a contemporary review by Pauline Kael and the original press book.

An interesting film that's a product of its time, Arrow has again done a fine job restoring the film and packing it with extras.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Great) and James Lockhart



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