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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Anthology > Exploitation > Torture Porn > Japan > Supernatural > Psychological > Mystery > Monste > American Nightmares (2018/MVD DVD)/Brutal (2018*)/DIS (2017/* both MVD/Unearthed Blu-ray)/Fifth Cord (1971**)/Horror Express (1972/**both MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)

American Nightmares (2018/MVD DVD)/Brutal (2018*)/DIS (2017/*both MVD/Unearthed Blu-ray)/Fifth Cord (1971**)/Horror Express (1972/**both MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)

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

Here's a wide sampling of horror thrillers, good and bad...

From the creators of Tales From The Hood comes American Nightmares (2018), which is a technology based anthology horror film that works in some moments and is painfully predictable in others. Starring Danny Trejo as Mr. Malevolent (who resembles Coffin Joe) whose a hacker that forces two millennials to watching seven sinister horror tales.

The film also features Vivica A. Fox, Ella Arro, Rachel Axelrod, Jay Mohr, Chris Kattan, Cleo Berry, Gabriel Brown, Yuri Brown, Bradley Bundlie, and Kate Butler to name a few.

The seven different short stores are Mates, The Prosecutor, White Flight, The Samaritan, Hate Radio, The Healer, and They Will Be Done.

Presented in standard definition, anamorphically enhanced on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, the film looks and sounds fine for the format. Compression issues are there, but the overall presentation doesn't have any noticeable issues outside of its limitations.

The only extra are trailers for American Nightmares and other MVD releases.

American Nightmares isn't simply a Z-grade horror picture and nothing too groundbreaking and at times hilariously over the top.

A series of gruesome murders are happening in Japan. A psychopath man kidnaps women, he kills them in the most brutal and vicious way possible. At the same time a murderess is doing the same thing for men, honey-trapping men and leaving a trail of dead bodies in her wake. But when the two meet, what will they do?

In Takashi Hirose's Brutal (2018), an overweight man kidnaps beautiful woman and beats them to death with his bare hands and raping them to death with knives. A beautiful woman/black widow seduces men and then kills them for lusting after her. Both are damaged goods, the man angry for being the social outcast/loser, the woman tired of being a rape victim. Both of them are sexually frustrated and have self mutilated their own genitals (so that nobody else can abuse them), they can no long have normal relationships instead they express their 'love' with violence and murder. And when they meet and discover each other they can only beat and kill each other to the death as they cry over their own losses.

This was violent movie, brutality for brutality's sake, it gives insight to what happens when a man or woman just can't take it anymore and into the minds of psychopathic killers. Unfortunately this was very poor copy for a Blu-ray format, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 picture was unfocused and scratchy, and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound (stereo?) had static in the background throughout. Even if done on purpose, which is hard to tell, this is awful. Extras include behind the scenes, music videos and trailers.

Adrian Corona's DIS (2017) is a demonic thriller that is sure to make you feel uneasy starting with its sexually explicit opening and ending sequences. Divided into three parts, DIS is a dark look at sex magick and the mandrake legend and depends more on visual and auditory cues than a straightforward narrative or dialogue. This makes the film a short 61 minute journey into a virtual hell on earth. Interesting and challenging from an artistic perspective, DIS isn't necessarily a comfortable or fun watch.

DIS stars Bill Oberst Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon, Manuel Dominguez, and Anne Voitsekhova.

An ex-solider (Oberst Jr.) takes refuge in a creepy woods and comes across an unusual vandalized building. Within the building is a masked demon who takes pleasure in killing in an attempt to feed his mandrake garden. As the ex-soldier ends up captured, he experiences an unholy sanctuary for demonic evil and becomes a victim himself.

The film is presented on 1080p Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a nice sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix. DIS is very nicely shot with plenty of detail on the trees in the woods and the graffiti on the walls. Even some of the more darkly lit scenes come across looking fine here.

Special Features include...

Introduction by Director Adrian Corona

Behind the Scenes

Interview with Bill Oberst Jr.

Portrait - A Short Film

Still Gallery

and Trailers

DIS is more a surreal artistic film than an attempt at narrative. It's one of those 'you either love it or hate it' kind of films. I find myself somewhere in between. If you like films like VVitch (which is reviewed elsewhere on this site), then you may find this sadistic flick worth checking out.

Franco Nero (the original Django) stars in The Fifth Cord (1971), another Italian giallo to add to Arrow's growing HD library. The traditional story of a Detective (Nero) whose trying to solve a case where women keep being murdered and becomes a suspect himself. Shot beautifully and directed by Luigi Bazzoni, this is a landmark film that shines brighter than before than to this new HD remaster.

The film also stars Silvia Monti, Wolfgang Preiss, Ira von Furtstenberg, Edmund Purdom, Rossella Fulk, and Renato Romano.

The Fifth Cord has been remastered in 2K from its original camera negative in this new presentation exclusive to Arrow. The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and has original lossless tracks in PCM 1.0 Mono in Italian (with English subtitles) or English dubs. The cinematography is by Vittorio Storaro (who later went on to shoot Apocalypse Now (among so many others) and win an Oscar), and is very surreal and effective.

Special Features include...

New audio commentary by critic Travis Crawford

Lines and Shadows, a new video essay on the film's use of architecture and space by critic Rachael Nisbet

Whisky Giallore, a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie

Black Day for Nero, a new video interview with actor Franco Nero

The Rhythm Section, a new video interview with film editor Eugenio Alabiso

Rare, previously unseen deleted sequence, restored from the original negative

Original Italian and English theatrical trailers

Image gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kat Ellinger and Peter Jilmstad

Previously released on Blu-ray and DVD from Severin Films back in 2011, Spanish Director Eugneio Martin's Horror Express (1972) starring Sir Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing gets a startling new 2K restoration from the original elements courtesy of Arrow Video. Previously in the public domain, this film has a very similar tone to a Hammer production (aside from just having Lee and Cushing in the leads), and a quite interesting and effective monster. This is a true horror classic and a film certainly not to be missed if you haven't seen it.

The film also stars Telly Savalas, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, and Julio Pena.

A mysterious English anthropologist (Lee) has discovered a frozen monster in the frozen wastes of Manchuria which he believes may be the Missing Link. He brings the creature back to Europe aboard a Trans-Siberian express, but during the trip the monster comes back to startling life, leaving an interesting mark on each of its victims...

The film as mentioned is a new 2K restoration and presented on 1080p Blu-ray disc with its original aspect ratio as 1.66:1 and paired with an English LPCM Mono mix. Comparable to the previous Severin release, the transfer is a tad sharper here and overall is a solid presentation of the film that hasn't shown much age surprisingly.

Special Features include a few carted over from the Severin release and a few new featurettes as well. We get...

A brand new audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman

Introduction to the film by film journalist and Horror Express super-fan Chris Alexander

Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express - an interview with director Eugenio Martin

Notes from the Blacklist - Horror Express producer Bernard Gordon on working in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era

Telly and Me - an interview with composer John Cacavas

Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

and First Pressing Only: Fully-illustrated collector's booklet with new writing by Adam Scovell

This is an interesting film that could potentially get remade and still be pretty cool. This definitely is required viewing for fans of Hammer and/or Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Of course, this is a great change from the many decades that only awful video copies existed. You can read more about the film and the earlier Severin version at this link...


- Ricky Chiang (Brutal) and James Lockhart



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