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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Demonic Possession > Found Footage > Mystery > Mexico > Superhero > Action > Adven > Afraid (2018/Well Go DVD)/Boris Karloff Collection (1968, 1971/MVD/VCI DVD Set)/Constantine: City Of Demons 4K (2018/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Row (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Va

Afraid (2018/Well Go DVD)/Boris Karloff Collection (1968, 1971/MVD/VCI DVD Set)/Constantine: City Of Demons 4K (2018/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Row (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Vault Of Frankenstein (2018/Hardcover/Quarto Books)

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

More goodies in the Horror genre that happen to be released around Halloween 2018...

From the Co-Creator of Punk'd and starring Alanna Masterson (of Walking Dead fame) comes Afraid (2018), which is a terrible found footage film centered around a girl and her obsessed stalker who attacks her and her boyfriend in a cabin on a weekend getaway. You can see some of the influence of the Punk'd show's style here as it uses the 'hidden camera' as a way to tell its story. However, Afraid is so bad that it makes Paranormal Activity look like Citizen Kane... and I wasn't even a big fan of Paranormal Activity.

Where to begin with this film? The bottom line with Afraid is that its very anti-climatic and painfully predictable. Half of the movie is just Alanna Masterson crying and screaming. The bottom line? It's just not scary. Who is magically cutting all of this footage together in the world of this film? It's very amateur and was probably produced over the course of a weekend.

The film is presented in anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen with a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix, both of which are average for the format. Seeing that most of the movie is found footage or shot using crappy cameras, this isn't exactly a film that suffers from compression issues evident in the format.

The only extra is a Trailer.

I wouldn't suggest putting anyone through the torture of watching this movie... unless it was by 'Punking' them (pun intended) into thinking it was actually going to be good.

Boris Karloff is one of the greatest horror actors of all time but like many actors had a few not so great titles in his filmography. Celebrated here is some of his lesser known (and schlockier) fare in this new collection of four films from the late '60s-early '70s. While the presentations here on DVD are nothing too special, this is still a fun set that's makes for fine viewing during the Halloween season. The VCI Boris Karloff Collection (1968, 1971).

All of these films are directed by Jack Hill and Juan Ibanez and I rate them... C+/C /C+/C-.

Dance of Death (1968) - Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, this whodunnit mystery circles around an ancestral mansion with a psychotic killer in the mix.

Torture Zone (aka Fear Chamber) (1968) - This film has a psychotic killer in its core as well... only this one has a thing for harvesting girl's organs for profit...

Alien Terror (aka The Incredible Invasion) (1971) - A Mexican horror film where Karloff discovers a powerful ray gun in the early 1800s. However, an alien species doesn't think its too good of an idea for mankind to have something so powerful.

Cult of the Dead (aka Isle of the Snake People) (1971) - A Mad Scientist creates an army of zombies fueled with LSD. Need I say more?

The films are all presented in their original 1.37:1 full frame aspect ratio and paired with a new English Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. Unfortunately, the transfers aren't very well restored and have a rather hazy and clunky feel to them. Often times the image will jump and there's a lack of detail all around on characters and backgrounds. Granted, these films were probably shot on low grade film, but there isn't anything too impressive about the presentation here.

No extras.

These are fun Karloff films to look back on if you're a hardcore fan like I am.

John Constantine is one of DC Comics most interesting but flawed characters and has gotten new life in the 2000s in the TV and film world thanks to a live action TV series (which sadly wasn't renewed for a second season) and the Keanu Reeves led film from 2005 that was met with mixed reviews.

Here's my review of Constantine: The Complete Series...


He's also a member of Justice League Dark; represented by another DC animated film that we reviewed...


Constantine (voiced again by Matt Ryan - the actor who played him in the live action TV series) refuses to give up and returns in this new R-rated animated feature, The City of Demons (2018), which is much more fun than expected. The City of Demons was produced in a dual format - initially as animated shorts, the first five of which appeared on CW Seed. With a runtime of 90 minutes, the feature-length Constantine: City of Demons (2018) film has over an hour of never-before-seen content including the film's climax.

John Constantine, a Detective and master of the Occult, faces up against his arch nemesis Nergaf in the seedy underbelly of L.A., where hell-ish things are amok. Facing against a decades old mistake and foes such as Nightmare Nurse, The Queen of Angels, Aztec God MIctlantercuhtli, and the demon Beroul, Constantine bites off a bit more than he can chew.

The film earns its R-rating with some rather grotesque imagery of Hell and some of its citizens, not to mention some of the language and overall dark content. A character like Constantine lends himself well to the animated format with its surreal characters and backgrounds that would be pretty expensive if it were produced live action.

The animated film is presented here in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. This is definitely a step up in presentation as opposed to other WB DC 4Ks that I've reviewed in the past (namely Gotham at Gaslight). In this release, there's a tad more detail in the colors and textures than the other included 1080p Blu-ray version of the film, which has similar widescreen and sound specs. The animation has a nice style to it and is similar to that of Batman: The Animated Series.

A digital copy is also included.

Special Features (as explained by the press release):

The Sorcerer's Occultist - Understanding John Constantine - An exciting examination of the powers and abilities used by DC's working-class occult detective, John Constantine.

Constantine: City of Demons WonderCon Panel 2018 - Storytellers join City of Demons' star Matt Ryan at this year's WonderCon for an inside look at Constantine's latest adventure.

and The Sorcerer's Occultist - Understanding John Constantine

This standalone Constantine animated film is a treat for fans and pretty close to its source material. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you enjoyed the TV series or the film.

Sorority Horror Film The Row (2018) is about as cookie cutter as a slasher film can get. Similar in tone to Valentine, Urban Legends, and Scream, the film centers around a series of gruesome murders that happen at a sorority house and its up to Randy Couture to solve the mystery.

What at first was thought to be a hazing to induct new members, it's soon apparent that this vicious killer has plans to make his victims into 'dolls' upon their demise and cutting off different body parts each time. But who could this killer be?

The Row stars Lala Kent, Mia Rose Frampton, Sarah McDaniel, Dylan Sprayberry, and Lexi Atkins.

Lionsgate always does a great job with their Blu-ray presentations and this is no exception. The film is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a nice sounding English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mix. The details on the characters are impeccable and the film is shot pretty nice on the digital HD format.

A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include...

Director's Commentary

Behind the Scenes Featurette

and an HD Trailer

While the film has more beautiful women than you can shake a stick at, unfortunately that's about the most it has going for it. The plot isn't too original, acting isn't the best, the gore isn't over the top enough, and it becomes way so reliant on its police procedural angle that at some parts I had to remind myself that it wasn't an episode of CSI.

Frankenstein is one of the most iconic characters in horror history and we now get a full overview of his history with this beautiful new book - The Vault of Frankenstein (2018) which is written by Paul Ruditis. A must have for Franken-Fans the world over!

Spanning the 200 year lifespan of the character, the book dives in deep with the beginnings of the Monster's creation with the story by Mary Shelley, various plays, and then the various cinematic incarnations everything from the silent film to Boris Karloff to Hammer Films (specifically Christopher Lee's interpretation) and up to present day.

The book even highlights the many films over the past few decades that are based on the Frankenstein character, both directly and indirectly, which I found interesting. Characters such as Lurch from The Addams Family. Each page of the book is beautiful and highly detailed with poster reproductions and nice stills from the films.

Of course for Universal, Frankenstein was also played by Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, and Glenn Strange. In later years the monster was portrayed different by Robert DeNiro in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) and in the 2000s more outlandish interpretations as seen in the films Van Helsing (2004) and I, Frankenstein (2014).

The primary focus is on the most famous incarnation of the character which is obviously the Karloff version and his Bride. Attention is magnified on other appearances of the monster as well that aren't strictly cinematic: in theater, cartoons (such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Frankenweenie), cereal boxes (Franken-berries), toys, and interpretations that aren't horror related and spoofs such as Young Frankenstein. Even Famous Monsters of Filmland and Forrest J. Ackerman are mentioned!

The book also contains as a bonus replica memorabilia in a nice envelope-shaped back cover slip:

The Bride of Frankenstein movie poster

Pages from Mary Shelley's original manuscript of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

Photo of Boris Karloff on the set of Universal's Frankenstein

Playbill for Presumption; or The Fate of Frankenstein, the first stage adaptation of Frankenstein

and a Frankenstein movie poster

Just in time for the Halloween season, I highly recommend this book to classic monster fans or to anyone who is fond of this character and wants to dive deep.

- James Lockhart



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