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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Epic > Magic > Drama > China > Horror > Supernatural > Serial Killer > Relationships > Japan > Myster > Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days (2018 Blu-ray w/DVD*)/The House That Never Dies: Reawakening (2017/DVD/*both Well Go Blu-ray)/Maniac (1980/remastered/Blue Underground Limited Edition Blu-ray/CD

Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days (2018 Blu-ray w/DVD*)/The House That Never Dies: Reawakening (2017/DVD/*both Well Go Blu-ray)/Maniac (1980/remastered/Blue Underground Limited Edition Blu-ray/CD Set)/Third Murder (2017/Film Movement Blu-ray)/The 13th Chair (1929, 1937/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The 13th Chair DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Now for a group of wilder genre films going back quite a ways...



The Three Guardians of the afterlife return for the trail of Kim Soo-hong, the brother of their last paragon, Kim Ja-hong. Their purpose is to help souls move on to the afterlife and judge if they lived a good life and deserve to be reincarnated in the next life, but things are more complicated this time round with the fact that Kim Soo-hong was murdered and in order to help him, the 3 guardians must uncover their own secret past and how they came to be in Kim Young-hwa's Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days (2018).


The Three Guardians of the Afterlife return ...but were they always the Three Guardians? This time they are given two tasks, one Guardian must escort the spirit of So-hong through Hell to be tested by the various Gods. While the other two Guardian must get an Earth deity God to return to the afterlife, but the Earth Deity reveals a far greater secret, that he was also a former Guardian ...and he know their past which has been sealed away. A 1,000 years ago the Guardians were morals and their story will be key in the final trial of So-hong.


This is a continuation to Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds, picking up right where the first movie left off. While it still had amazing special effects and graphics, this time the story seem to focused more on the Guardian Spirits story than of the mortal character. It gives insight into the Asian cultures and beliefs of reincarnation and karma.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image and DTS: X 11.1 lossless soundtrack are very impressive in combination, the money in the screen and offering solid playback. It's not the best ever, but offers demo moments just the same. Extras include character intros, production documentary and trailers.



Doctor He's husband is the Chief foreman in renovating a hundred year old mansion on the hill to be their new home, House 81. Unaware of it's haunted past, all who lived have met strange and mysterious ends. A tragic tale death and murder, as they uncover a tomb filled with baby skeletons and it's dark secrets, she begins to have visions of the past and she sees the ghost of the child in Joe Chien's The House That Never Dies: Reawakening (2017).


Doctor He (Joan Chen) is a surgeon and a woman of science and her husband is a contractor. After moving into a haunted mansion she begins seeing strange visions/hallucinations as if she and her husband once lived in the mansion a hundred years ago. A sad tale of a powerful general and his wife, after years of unable to conceive a child the general takes a second wife ...but the house 'doctor' used forbidden alchemy in sacrifice infants in an unholy ritual. The spirits continue to take hold of Doctor He's mind through her fears, paranoia and jealous as she watches her husband work along side his beautiful female assistant. Soon, Doctor He is unable to tell what is real and what is a dream. She is lure into a nightmare by the ghost of her dead daughter she lost years ago... is she trying to drag her to hell ...or warn her of some greater danger?


This movie tells the tale of two stories, a doctor and her husband and their past lives. A tragic death of woman and a spirit that has been trapped in house since it's beginning and won't leave until it gets what it wants.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image looks as good as it can in the old format, but the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is a little lacking, whether it us the way this was recorded and/or the old audio format. Extras include trailers.



The new 4K restoration of Bill Lustig's Maniac (1980) is one of most impressive releases of the year. Having seen this film in several different formats, its incredible how pristine it looks here in this new transfer. As with their recent release of Lucio Fulci's Zombie (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Blue Underground has pulled all the stops and created a worthy presentation of one of their star titles that features two Blu-rays for the film and its many extras, the soundtrack CD, a great insert booklet, and a 3D lenticular cover!


Starring Frank Zito as Frank, Maniac is a truly unique horror slasher that crafts a very creepy serial killer that feels very real yet you oddly feel bad for. Stalking the streets of New York, the killer collects the scalps of female victims (mostly prostitutes) for his own sadistic purposes and isn't afraid to kill anyone else that's in his way. A tortured soul at the same time, this deeply disturbed individual starts up a relationship with a gorgeous photographer by a stroke of luck, but can't keep the monster within him at bay...


Maniac also stars Joe Spinell, Kelly Piper, Tom Savini, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, and Rita Montone. Savini also did the effects for the film, which still hold up, and crafted himself a pretty unique way of going out.


The film has been restored in 4K, however is presented here in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and several different audio tracks in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1, DTS-HD 2.0, and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0. The film was originally shot on a shoestring budget and 16mm film, but this is definitely the best it will likely look until a 2160p update here is an actual 4K disc in the future.


Special Features include...


NEW - Returning to the Scene of the Crime with William Lustig

NEW - MANIAC Outtakes Featurette

Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni

Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini, Editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Joe Spinell's Assistant Luke Walter

Anna and the Killer - Interview with Star Caroline Munro

The Death Dealer - Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini

Dark Notes - Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway

Maniac Men - Interview with Songwriters Michael Sembello (Flashdance) and Dennis Matkosky

Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots

Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2 Promo Reel

The Joe Spinell Story

MANIAC Publicity

MANIAC Controversy

BONUS CD - MANIAC Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Jay Chattaway

BONUS Collectable Booklet with new essay by author Michael Gingold


While the Elijah Wood remake isn't terrible (reviewed elsewhere on this site), nothing beats the original Maniac, and this is certainly a great way to revisit it thanks to a stellar release from Blue Underground. For more on the film, try our coverage of the previous Blue Underground Blu-ray...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10468/Maniac+%E2%80%93+30th+Anniversary+Edition



A high profile lawyer, Shigemori is to be a defense attorney to a murder robber case of Misumi. And while they already have a confession, what should be a simple quick open and shut case, Shigemori senses there is more to what everyone is saying. As he gets more and more involved with the case he discovers discrepancies between the evidence and the stories, the suspects and victims. Who is telling the truth and who is lying ...but what if everyone is lying, how is he to find the truth?


In Hirokazu Koreeda's Third Murder (2017), Shigemori is the defense attorney to Misumi, he is accused of murdering and robbing his former factory boss, but he is also an ex-convict for two murders thirty years ago. Shigemori's goal is to help get a reduced sentence, but then discovers evidence and the possibility of conspiracy with the victim's wife trying to collect life insurance, but the case then get even complicated when daughter of the victim comes forward to testify that she has raped by her father and Misumi killed her father to protect her. Finally, in mid-case, Misumi suddenly reverse his plea, threatening a mistrial. But the truth is... You'll have to find out by seeing the film, but Masaharu Fukuyama and Koji Yakusho are fine as the leads.


This film is a court case drama with intense moments and sudden twists. A case in which everyone is lying ...but for different reasons. The lawyers only cares about evidence which can benefit their clients, the police serves the law but not justice, and the Judge cares more about his reputation than the truth.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image looks fine throughout, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is limited as this is a dialogue-based soundtrack. Otherwise, the combination plays fine. Extras include making of the movie, messages from the cast, bonus short film: A Gentle Night and trailers.



Before they made Universal's 1931 Dracula and became super stars, Bela Lugosi and Todd Browning (Freaks) made The 13th Chair (1929), which was also remade in 1937 by a very different director George B. Seitz (The Iron Claw, The Exploits of Elaine). Warner Archive presents this double feature DVD with both versions for a unique double feature.


The 1929 version stars Conrad Nagel, Leila Hyams, Margaret Wycherly, Helene Millard. It also features Holmes Herbert, who was in the same character Sir Roscoe Crosby in that version as well.


The 1937 version stars Holmes Herbert, May Whitty, Elissa Landi, Lewis Stone, and Madge Evans.


Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance participants had a reason and a means to kill, and one of them uses the cover of darkness to kill again. When someone close to the medium is suspected she turns detective, determined to uncover the true murderer.


Both films are presented on standard definition DVD and are in black and white with their original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratios and lossy Mono 2.0 Dolby Audio tracks. They are a bit compressed but that goes along with the Blu-ray format. The 1929 version looks a bit rough as I suspect this is probably the best print of the film that still exists. The 1937 version looks a bit sharper, but both of them could use a 4K or 2K restoration on a superior format but the best results. The audio too is likely as good as it gets, both of which have some hiss on the track that resonates throughout. It doesn't particularly take away from the film though.


The only extra is a trailer for the 1937 version.


They are both interesting takes on the same story, and I would be interested in seeing someone attempt to remake this now, especially if it retained a period setting.



To order The 13th Chair Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Ricky Chiang and James Lockhart (Maniac, Chair)

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


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