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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Cable TV > Monster > Giant Man > Biography > History > Literature > Relationships > American Horror Story: Cult (2018/Season 7/Fox DVD Set)/The Cyclops (1958/Allied Artists*)/Rowing With The Wind (1988/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Patient Zero (2018/Sony Blu-ray)/The Swarm (1978

American Horror Story: Cult (2018/Season 7/Fox DVD Set)/The Cyclops (1958/Allied Artists*)/Rowing With The Wind (1988/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Patient Zero (2018/Sony Blu-ray)/The Swarm (1978/*both Warner Archive Blu-rays)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Rowing With The Wind Region 4 locked Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD players that can handle Region 4 locked PAL DVDs, while both The Cyclops and The Swarm are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.



Now, yet more horror releases for you to catch up on, no matter their many flaws....



Season 7 of the hit FX show American Horror Story: Cult (2018) hits disc just in time for Halloween. This season focusing heavily on the Election of 2016 and many hot button topics of modern time. Things run amok with the show's big ensemble cast this season, though the absence of Jessica Lange is certainly felt.


The huge cast including Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson, Billie Lourd, and Alison Pill to name a few.


This season focuses on the various phobias that Ally Mayfair-Richards (Paulson) has after Trump wins the election and a distraught liberal college dropout (Lourde) and her weirdo brother (Peters). Creepy clowns, phobias, anxieties, homosexuality, and other topics attempt to scare and shock in this seventh season as these characters intermingle in a small Michigan town.


Season 7 consists of seven episodes that span three DVDs, which include: Election Night, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Neighbors From Hell, 11/9, Holes, Mid-Western Assassin, Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins: Scumbug, Winter of Our Discontent, Drink the Kool-Aid, Charles (Manson) in Charge, and Great Again.


The presentation here is top notch for the aging SD DVD format and presents the show in its original anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and paired with a 5.1 Dolby Digital lossy audio mix. The compression issues are highly evident when watching on a 4K TV, but you're watching it in less form they may not be as noticeable. Still, it presents the show commercial and watermark free which is ideal for fans to binge.


The only extras are TV Promo Spots.


Being a huge fan of horror cinema, American Horror Story is a show that escapes me. When you get past its glossy exterior, its main goal is to shock, and be politically correct as opposed to actually being scary.



While the special effects are pretty primitive to today's standards, Bert I. Gordon's The Cyclops (1958) was likely an impressive piece of VFX work at the time. In a plot line that sounds like a Jurassic Park film, a plane crashes and an expedition is sent into the wild jungle of Mexico to find a man's fiance. When they get there, they discover giant bugs, mountains of uranium, and a huge 25-foot-tall human Cyclops man. Can they escape this prehistoric hell before its too late?


The Cyclops stars James Craig, Gloria Talbott, Tom Drake, and Lon Chaney Jr.


The black and white film has been restored to 1080p HD and is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and paired with a nice sounding English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono lossless mix, both of which update this classic to modern times. I happen to be a big fan of watching older black and white films in HD as they usually look fantastic and this title is no exception. If you're a fan of this classic and only have it on DVD then this is definitely worth the upgrade.



No doubt literature and horror fans have heard of the story of that in 1816, Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), Doctor John Polidori (The Vampire), Lord Byron and Percy Shelley decided to write the most shocking, terrifying story they could and the two noted above resulted. A few films have been made of these events, but Gonzalo Suarez's Rowing With The Wind (1988) is an art film that does not focus enough on the horror, but tries to offer characters development with nice locales, costumes, decent cast and more casual nudity than expected.


Unfortunately, this Spanish/British co-production tends to drag despite Suarez directing films like Oviedo Express, House Of The Damned and Beatriz, but maybe it was in the search for a different approach to the tale (Ken Russell had already tried his take in 1986) got the makers in trouble. This is a curio with Hugh Grant as Byron, Elizabeth Hurley as Claire Clairmont (not the co-star, she is not in the film as much as I would have liked) and Lizzy McInnerny (currently on the hit series The Crown, previously of The Commander telefilms) as Mary Shelley, you can see why its back on DVD.


Miramax had even handled some if its distribution pre-Weinstein scandal, so unless it was a big hit, smaller films like this that were released with limited success and many others that were barely released, not as remembered or shelved have fallen through the cracks. The Spanish actors (including Jose Luis Gomez as Polidori) are as solid. However, this is a Region 4 locked PAL format Import DVD from Umbrella, so you'll need a special DVD player to watch it.


The transfer is very old, here in a letterboxed 1.85 X 1 image that does only so much justice to the cinematography of DP Carlos Suarez, including some scratches and dirt more than expected. The sound also has issues here in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with actual optical flutter in the first few minutes of the film, which was originally issued in Dolby old A-type analog Dolby System format. That means it has Pro Logic surrounds, but they are on the weak side and can reveal more weakness in the soundtrack we get.


There are unfortunately, no extras.



Patient Zero (2018) is a sort-of zombie movie that has a great cast, impressive production design, and an interesting story. Starring Game of Thrones alum Natalie Dormer and John Bradley, they are joined by Matt Smith (Dr. Who) and Stanley Tucci (Hunger Games).


A global super-virus has turned mankind into rabid creatures and what's left of humanity has gone into hiding. Set in a research facility, an asymptomatic Victim (Smith), an ambitious Doctor (Dormer) and her team attempt to communicate with a few imprisoned infected people. Their goal is to find Patient Zero (Tucci), who may hold the chance of a cure. However, they aren't prepared for this superior new race and Patient Zero is a lot more unique than they bargained for...


The film is nicely presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. The colors and character details are fine for the format, with even some of the darker scenes coming across well on disc here. No digital copy.


Sadly, the only extra features on the disc are previews for other Sony films.


If you're a fan of films like 28 Days Later or the Resident Evil films, then you'll probably enjoy Patient Zero. While they could have done more in terms of the look of these infected persons, the story is interesting, and I found it to be better overall than I expected.



Finally, mutant killer bees are the enemy is this epic from Warner Bros circa 1978. Irwin Allen (Towering Inferno) direct The Swarm (1978). This big budget flick which stars Sir Michael Caine, Katharine, Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain, and Ben Johnson.


Slow and unintentionally funny watching it now, the film is a sort of blueprint for big budget apocalyptic films in the years to come much like the ones Roman Emmerich (Independence Day) makes. After the success of Hitchcock's The Birds (1963, reviewed elsewhere on this site), Warner wasn't the only company that tried to capitalize on killer bees as the great English Horror company Amicus also made their version which is worth looking up called The Deadly Bees (1967), which came several years before.


The film is presented in 1080p with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix, both of which bring the film to life on Blu-ray disc. This film definitely had a big budget for the time and it shows here as its cinemascope transfer and bright colors have been nicely updated for HD.


The only extra on both of these releases is a HD Trailer.



To order either of the Umbrella import DVD, Rowing With The Wind, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases at:


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


...and to order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, The Cyclops and The Swarm, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo (Rowing) and James Lockhart

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


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