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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Psychological > Murder > Mystery > Crime > Identity > Horror > Science Fiction > Slasher > Surrea > Looker (1981/Ladd/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Night Of The Virgin (2016/MVD Visual/Cleopatra Blu-ray)/Sisters (1973/De Palma/Criterion Blu-ray)/Spirits Of The Air, Gremlins Of The Clouds (1989/Umbrella Re

Looker (1981/Ladd/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Night Of The Virgin (2016/MVD Visual/Cleopatra Blu-ray)/Sisters (1973/De Palma/Criterion Blu-ray)/Spirits Of The Air, Gremlins Of The Clouds (1989/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Torso (1973/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Spirits Of The Air... Import Region Free Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and can play on all Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players, while Looker is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.



And now for more horror thrillers, three of which have distinct reputations, the three with single-name titles...



We start with a film that was not originally a hit, but has gained a following sine it hit cable and home video. The late Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park) wrote and directed this unusual thriller, Looker (1981), which is finally finding its way onto Blu-ray disc in this newly remastered version. While it's pretty dated in many respects to today's standards (the technology of analog TV in particular), the film has some interesting forward thinking ideas, and decent performances that allow you to look past some of its more glaring plot holes.


Starring Albert Finney as plastic surgeon Dr. Larry Roberts, who starts to notice that his already beautiful female clients are starting to turn up dead. Each one obsessed with having a perfect image, Roberts does some investigating which leads him to a secret agency known as Digital Matrix, which has some advanced technology that is being used to hypnotize these women into selling things on television commercials. Why did they need such specific surgery to begin with? How does possibly secret new technology fit into it all?


The film also stars James Coburn, Susan Dey, Dorian Harewood, and Tim Rossovich to name a few.


The film has been remastered and presented in 1080p high definition with a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a nice sounding English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix (originally Dolby System A-type analog theatrical sound, their still new surround technology). The film has been cleaned up considerably from previous releases and have nice color elements for the disc. The sound is pretty good considering the time and budget of the film. Overall, a nice upgrade for fans.


Special Features include...


On Camera Introduction and Feature Length Commentary by Michael Crichton


Deleted Scene (As Used in Network Television Version, should have stayed in the film)


and Theatrical Trailer


No doubt the film influenced the likes of James Cameron, Cronenberg's Videodrome, Carpenter's They Live and is also part of a cycle of film bashing consumerism gone wild including Blue Sunshine, Larry Cohen's The Stuff and others. Looker deserves to be rediscovered and is worth going out of your way for, no matter its flaws or limits.



Director Roberto San Sebastian's Night of the Virgin (2016) is a frantic and bizarre horror film that mainly takes place in a creepy apartment building. Part art house film and part horror, an intriguing (but familiar) plot gets lost in the chaos of it all, with the movie feeling at the end of the day that its main concern is shock over substance.


A weird looking guy named Nico (Javier Bodalo) is at a New Year's Eve Party and destined to lose his virginity. However, he happens across the wrong woman, an attractive mature woman named Medea, who praises a Nepalese Goddess named Naoshi. Once her jealous boyfriend arrives at her apartment and attempts to thwart Nico's plan of getting laid, weirder and weirder things start to become unearthed at the apartment, and Nico realizes the twisted plan that Medea has in store for him...


The film also stars Ignatius Farray, Miriam Martin, Rocio Suarez, and Victor Amilibia.


Presented in standard definition with a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2.0 Spanish language stereo mix (with English Subtitles), the film is pretty dark overall and it feels like there's a lot of detail missing here that would be evident in a HD transfer. Still, for the aging format, it's a passable presentation.


Special Features include two trailers for the film and trailers for other films from Cleopatra.



Next up is a new upgrade of a highly underrated murder thriller, Brian De Palma's Sisters (1973), which is the first of the kinds of films he became most known for and remains one of the best. First issued by Criterion in the old 12-inch LaserDisc format decades ago, they upgraded it for DVD release as one of their earliest anamorphically enhanced DVDs and now, 16 years later, a new Blu-ray upgrade supervised by De Palma himself.


The film stars the late, great Margot Kidder as conjoined twins who were eventually separated, but all is not well and apparently, one of them may be a serial killer. We know we're in for a creepy time with the opening childbirth credits accompanied by an original music score by the legendary Bernard Herrmann, but first, we get some unexpected comedy that turns out to be a bit ironic. From there, the story moves at a good pace as we see a growing relationship that seems healthy enough between Kidder and Lisle Wilson, an African American in what seems like a very progressively good. Then the twists and turns begin.


45 years and counting, the film is as effective as ever, relevant as ever and challenging as what De Palma continued to make, up there with Carrie, The Fury, Blow Out and Dressed To Kill (all reviewed elsewhere on this site) The film deserves a wider audience and this new upgrade will help that cause. Supported by actors Dolph Sweet, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, Barnard Hughes, Olympia Dukakis and Bill Finley, all well-recognized actors, you should put Sisters high on your catch-up and.or revisit list. It is that good!


This is the second time we've had the pleasure of Sisters being released on Blu-ray, the first being four years ago from Arrow U.K. (see link below at the end of this coverage) with a similar 1.85 X 1 transfer, but there are more differences in the two versions than expected and I should add that I like both transfers.


In what might seem a repeat of the the U.S. version of De Palma's The Fury (U.S. Twilight Time transfer with natural grain (also reviewed on this site and now out of print) versus later U.K. edition with newer, high definition digital scan), the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is from a new 4K scan with De Palma's involvement, usually has great color, looks a little better in motion and is no longer missing a credit the Arrow U.K. version was (the bit about no similarities between persons living or dead you usually get in opening or closing credits) though the old Criterion DVD showed the opening credits at 1.66 X 1 windowboxed, then continued to play at a zoomed-in 1.85 X 1. Sometimes, this is a little darker or not as colorful as the Arrow version, but I like the color on both overall despite the differences. We'll have to see this in a 4K Blu-ray edition at 2160p down the line to see how both compare to that.


The old DVD with its small-sounding, lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, was said to be sourced from an optical soundmaster, but this new Criterion is claiming to be from a magnetic soundmaster, still monophonic but if preserved correctly, would sound better than optical with better dynamic range. The PCM 1.0 Mono here is an improvement from the previous DVD, but it still has some slight background hiss, slight harmonic distortion and though clear, slightly dated and with Herrmann's music lacking punch. Yet, the Arrow U.K. edition also sporting PCM 1.0 Mono has a warmer, richer sound and Herrmann's score is richer, warmer and has more bass. Maybe De Palma thought that was too much, but I prefer it that way. Too bad they cannot find a stereo copy of Herrmann's score, then they could create a second stereo track for those so inclined.


Extras repeat the old Criterion DVD extras, but add none of the Arrow U.K. ones, so we get a well-illustrated booklet on the film (it was a paper foldout in the DVD) including informative text and an essay by critic Carrie Rickey, excerpts from a 1973 interview with De Palma on the making of the film, and a 1973 article by De Palma on working with composer Bernard Hermann, while the Blu-ray disc adds a brand new 2018 interview with actor Jennifer Salt, an appearance from 1970 by actor Margot Kidder on The Dick Cavett Show that are new here, plus interviews from 2004 with De Palma, actors William Finley and Charles Durning, and producer Edward R. Pressman, Audio from a 1973 discussion with De Palma at the AFI, a couple of Photo/Stills Galleries that also include press book and poster art of the film's release and Radio Spots.

For more on the Arrow U.K. Blu-ray, go to this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/12715/Bad+Country+(2013/Sony+Blu-ray)/Fragment+Of



From the director of The Crow, I Robot, and Dark City, Alex Proyas, comes his debut feature that's surrealistic and highly imaginative: Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (1989). The post apocalyptic film centers around a stranger (Norman Boyd) who helps a highly religious brother (Michael Lake) and his sister (Melissa Davis) build a plane and fly out of the desert.


Breathtakingly photographed, this Australian film is interesting to look back on and enjoy, especially in this nicely done presentation. The film also stars Rhys Davis. This critically celebrated film is part of Umbrella's new Beyond Genres label, which also features The Re-Animator Trilogy, Razorback, Dagon, and The Quiet Earth. (These films have been reviewed elsewhere on this site.)


This film has been restored in 2K from the original 16mm film master and is presented in its original 4 X 3/1.33 X 1 full frame aspect ratio. Paired with a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, the film looks and sounds fantastic here. While the look of the film has a yellow/orange color to it thanks to the desolate desert landscape, there's no doubt that the film has been restored nicely here with appropriate levels of grain and detail as per the 16mm format.


Special Features includes...


Audio Commentary with Director Alex Proyas


Interview with Cast Members Michael Lake and Rhys Davis


Making of Featurette


Spirits Song Music Video


Image Gallery


and a 2018 Trailer


Although Director Proyas has made some bizarre films as of late (Gods of Egypt anyone?), this shows his impeccable style and stylistic chops were at one point much stronger than they are today. This film undoubtedly got him the job for The Crow, which is easily his best work, and is definitely worth checking out in this newly restored edition from Umbrella.



Finally we have Italian splatter king Sergio Martino's Torso (1973), also known as I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale, is a hardcore slasher film that is finally getting the presentation it deserves on disc thanks to Arrow Video.


Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth both think that this film is Martino's masterpiece and they may be right (although I do love All the Colors of the Dark), as this film is a blueprint for the emerging slasher genre at the time of its release. Packed with exotic locations and more nudity and violence that most can handle, Torso is blood and guts cinema at its finest!


Sex murders start happening on a college campus, and four girls retreat to an isolated weekend away from it all. What they don't know is that a giallo murderer has followed them and has plans for them to meet his knife!


Torso stars Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson, Roberto Bisacco, and Ernesto Colli.


The film has been remastered in 1080p high definition from the original source material and is presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio and paired with two LCPM audio tracks (English Dubbed and original Italian language track with subtitles). The presentation is pretty impressive considered the age of the film and is definitely a step up above previous releases on DVD.


One note on the mix is that the English audio track on the original, longer cut has some portions of the English audio missing. English audio for these sections was either never recorded or has been lost. As such, these sequences are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English.


Special Features include...


Original footage from its U.S. Torso release in color with the different release credits (though the footage is shockingly rough with colorful dots all over suggesting it is 35mm Fuji film with Fujirot)


New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of All the Colours of Sergio Martino


New video interview with co-writer/director Sergio Martino


New video interview with actor Luc Merenda


New video interview with co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi


New video interview with filmmaker Federica Martino, daughter of Sergio Martino


New video interview with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film


2017 Abertoir International Horror Festival Q&A with Sergio Martino


Italian and English theatrical trailers


Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais


and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Howard Hughes.



To order the Umbrella Spirits Of The Air... Import Region Free Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other hard to find titles at:


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


...and to order the Looker Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo (Sisters) and James Lockhart

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


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