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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Psychological > Murder > Assassination > British > Western > Horror > Killer > Superhero > Exploi > Day Of The Jackal (1973*)/Deadman Standing (2018/Lionsgate DVD)/Death House (2010/MVD DVD)/Molly (2017/Artsploitation Blu-ray)/Wizard Of Gore (1970/*both MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-rays)

Day Of The Jackal (1973*)/Deadman Standing (2018/Lionsgate DVD)/Death House (2010/MVD DVD)/Molly (2017/Artsploitation Blu-ray)/Wizard Of Gore (1970/*both MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-rays)

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

Here's some of the darker thrillers we've seen lately, though the first one at least is not exploitation and/or a B movie...

A highly regarded political thriller, The Day of the Jackal (1973), is faithfully based on the bestselling novel by Frederick Forsyth and centers around a French paramilitary group with their target set on President Charles de Gaulle. After trying to kill the President more than once, they decide to send in the Jackal (Edward Fox), whose well qualified in such areas.

The film also stars Michael Lonsdale (Munich, The Bride Wore Black), Derek Jacobi (The Odessa File) and Cyril Cusack (1984, Fahrenheit 451) and cinematography by Jean Tournier (Moonraker).

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a nice sounding English LPCM 2.0 Mono audio track. The film has been nicely restored here with colors that bring the print to life like never before. Watching this film is almost like stepping into a time capsule, and brings to life a very realistic view of the past. Having almost a documentary feel throughout, the cinematography is natural yet very visually pleasing.

Special Features include...

New interview with Neil Sinyard, author of Fred Zinnemann: Films of Character and Conscience

Two rare archival clips from the film set, including an interview with Fred Zinnemann

Theatrical trailer

Original screenplay by Kenneth Ross (BD-ROM content)

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

and First pressing only: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by critic Mark Cunliffe and film historian Sheldon Hall.

A low budget western, Deadman Standing (2018), is close to pulling off the cinematic style that it aims to achieve, but misses the mark with one too many cliches. Starring C. Thomas Howell and Luke Arnold and based on a true story, centers around a troubled lawman who befriends a boy dying of tuberculosis and a scarred (yet pretty) madam of the local brothel (Viva Bianca) while their town slowly gets taken over by Texas cattlemen.

The production value is pretty impressive considering the film was made on the cheap. Most of the acting is a bit over the top and some of the fake accents don't translate too well here. C. Thomas Howell is pretty good here but overall it could have been a bit more cinematic in terms of its lighting and overall look.

Presented on standard definition anamorphically enhanced DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.00:1 and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix, the film looks as good as it can on the aging format. While it could obviously be fixed in an HD format, the colors don't pop as much as they are meant to, but technically the film is professional looking.

No extras, with the exception of trailers for other Lionsgate films.

Deadman Standing has a decent script, but suffers from mediocre lighting and cinematography that could be more stylized, and so-so acting from much of its supporting characters.

Back in 2010. there was a little movie called The Expendables that brought together some of the silver screen's biggest stars for the ultimate team up movie. The trailers and marketing promised action fans the stuff that dreams are made of. However, the film (and its two sequels) ended up being horrendous and soul crushing. Now it's 2018 and Death House comes along... a film that teams up the biggest horror icons of all time for the ultimate showdown. The possibilities were really endless as to what this movie could have been... however what it is... is, by far, the worst film I've seen in the murky year of 2018... the year that also brought us such gems as The Darkest Minds and Snake Outta Compton.

Death House stars Kane Hodder (Jason), Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, Danny Trejo, Dee Wallace, Tony Moran (Michael Myers in Halloween 2), Barbara Crampton, Bill Moseley, Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Adrienne Barbeau, Tony Todd (Candyman), Vernon Wells, Lloyd Kaufman, Camille Keaton (I Spit On Your Grave), Debbie Rochon and the list goes on! What a waste of talent. The story was conjured up by the late Gunner Hansen (Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre), but I'm sure what butchered on the page before it graced the screen.

Death House is a secret prison that holds some of the world's biggest and baddest killers the world has ever known. When two agents are given a private tour, the power goes out and the inmates are set loose and all hell breaks loose. However, this plot isn't easily deciphered, as the first thirty minutes will have you scratching your head wondering what's going on before this plot twist comes. The cameos mostly feel rushed and unmotivated. Lloyd Kaufman is attempting to be a serious surgeon and fails miserably, Dee Wallace phones it in, poor Barbara Crampton and Sid Haig try their best... but unfortunately the material isn't there for them to be effective. Kane Hodder isn't bad and really deserves a better role in something that isn't a slasher film... however his character here is pretty paint by numbers.

Death House has no plot or enjoyable aspects to it at all. It's equivalent to a sort of nightmare a horror fan has where he/she is forced to see some of the industry's most recognizable faces tortured by delivering some of the worst dialogue imaginable, and a storyline that goes absolutely nowhere. The digital effects are so bad its laughable including a digital elevator shaft that is focused on way too heavily. This makes Skyscraper look like... Citizen Kane.

The film is presented here in standard definition, anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen with a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix on the DVD format. I believe a Blu-ray version will be released as well, however, I can't imagine it looking that good though as most of the film is dark and poorly lit. Some scenes are just straight on green screen, as if nothing better could be mustered to matte in. This is an example of a film that had potential but didn't have any passion behind it to make it fun. The directing and blocking is even noticeably bad in many many scenes. What happened behind the scenes, I'm sure, is a movie in and of itself.

Special Features...

Behind the Scenes Featurette

Image Slideshow

and Interviews with cast and crew

This film has been in development since 2015 or maybe before, and I'd been hearing rumors about it coming out, and was anxiously awaiting it. I even have a few friends that have cameos in it... With so many big names and a premise that isn't completely terrible, this was a huge disappointment. When the day comes when a team up movie is good, I'll be right there watching and waiting, but until then we have to suffer through more rushed and phoned-in projects like Death House.

A post apocalyptic film from The Netherlands, Filmmakers Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese's Molly (2017) is a low budget genre romp that's plenty entertaining. It's clear from frame one what type of film that it is trying to be, but needs a bigger budget to pull off some of its grander ideas.

A superhero film of sorts, the film centers around Molly (played nicely by Julia Batelaan), a young girl with 'super powers' who lives in the woods alone and fends for herself. Armed with a bow and arrow, the girl is able to fend off all of the bad guys that come rooting around. Until one day, she encounters a group of Marauders who attempt to drug her and make her fight in a mortal kombat style fighting arena. But when she kills all those guys, and ends up protecting a child that she finds in the wild, the bad guys come in droves to take her down...

Molly also stars Emma de Paauw, Joost Bolt, Annelies Appelhof, Andre Dongelmans, and Arnost Kraus.

Molly has some elements of several other genre films, notably the Logan/Wolverine films and a touch of Hanna and Mad Max. While not necessarily bad, the film doesn't have too great of special effects when it comes to digital animation, but some of the sets are pretty impressive and fight choreography not bad. One sequence that's an anti-gravity scene is particularly well constructed and nightmarish.

The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and has both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and 2.0 Stereo mixes on the disc, both of which come across fine, if not the lossless sound we expect with HD releases. The score of the film sounds pretty fun and is appropriate for the fast paced narrative, and the overall cinematography isn't terrible by any means. Some of the exterior shots are very stylized and have some bright yellows that give it an otherworldly vibe.

Special Features...

Director Commentary

Making of Molly Featurette

and a Trailer

Molly is a fun genre film, but could have been even better if it had a little more budget behind it.

Arrow has a done a great job this year in remastering many Herschell Gordon Lewis films and bringing them to Blu-ray, and they round the year out with what may be the prolific Director's most notorious work: The Wizard of Gore (1970).

A spin on the classic Grand Guignol formula, the film centers around a bizarre magician's live show where, in front of a live audience, he commits gruesome acts of brutality. Miraculously, he's able to control the minds of his audience into seeing these ghastly sights when in reality they are fabricated. Unwilling to accept this illusion as fact when the onstage victims end up dead in real life (in similar fashion as they were killed on stage no less), a TV hostess and her boyfriend attempt to debunk the magic...

The cult classic stars Ray Sager, Judy Clear, and Wayne Ratay.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a remastered original uncompressed English LPCM 2.0 Mono track. Seeing that this film was made on a shoestring in 1970, the audio isn't that great and many scenes have dialogue that's muffled and hard to make out. While I'm sure Arrow did the best they could with the material, and the image is surprisingly intact, the audio likely wasn't that good to begin with.

Special Features include...

Bonus Feature! 1968's How to Make a Doll

Feature-length audio commentary with Herschell Gordon Lewis and Mike Vraney

Montag Speaks - an interview with Wizard of Gore actor Ray Sager

Stephen Thrower on The Wizard of Gore

The Gore the Merrier - An interview with Jeremy Kasten, director of the 2007 Wizard of Gore remake

The Incredibly Strange Film Show - an episode of the cult documentary series focusing on the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis

Original theatrical trailer

and a Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil.

- James Lockhart



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