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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Thriller > Japan > Supernatural > Germany > Psychological Thriller > Science Fiction > Audition (1999/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Haunted Hospital: Hellstatten (Blu-ray w/DVD*)/Jonathan (Blu-ray/*both Well Go 2018)/Skinner (1993/Severin Blu-ray)/Year Of The Dragon (1985/Warner Archive Blu-

Audition (1999/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Haunted Hospital: Hellstatten (Blu-ray w/DVD*)/Jonathan (Blu-ray/*both Well Go 2018)/Skinner (1993/Severin Blu-ray)/Year Of The Dragon (1985/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Year Of The Dragon Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a set of thriller releases that tend to push the envelope, get challenging and all of them you should definitely know about, older cult classics included...

One of the most unnerving foreign films I've ever seen, Audition (1999) will make you think twice before going out on a date. From the twisted mind of acclaimed filmmaker Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Blade of the Immortal), Audition presents the character of Asami, who at first appears to be just your normal innocent 24-year-old Japanese girl. However, looks can be deceiving... A huge hit on the festival circuit and on home video, Audition gets a new 2K remaster from the original film elements and new extras courtesy of Arrow Video.

Starting out like a romantic drama, a widowed TV producer is encouraged by his son to remarry before he gets too old. Unable to find anyone that he's interested in, he decides to hold auditions for a false movie in order to test out potential wives. He thinks he may have found the one he is looking for when he auditions a former ballerina. She has it all... except her sanity.

The film is presented on 1080p Blu-ray disc from a new 2K remaster from the original vault elements and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a great sounding Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix with English subtitles. A bit sharper and with more supplemental content than the previous 2011 Shout! Factory release (see below), Arrow has done a fine job with this cult classic that will make it difficult for fans not to double dip.

Special Features include...

The Making Of Before We Vanish, an 53-minute featurette including on-set footage and interviews with cast and crew

Inside The Story and Inside The Characters, two featurettes with cast and crew interviews

Looking Back, members of the cast reunite to discuss memories of the production

Red carpet interviews from the Cannes Film Festival premiere

Cast and crew Q&As from four screenings including the Japanese premiere


Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket

and First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell.

For more on the film, try our coverage of that earlier U.S. Blu-ray edition noted above here...


Next, the new horror film Haunted Hospital: Hellstatten (2018) is a German found footage flick that imitates The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity phenomenon popular here in America. For what it is, however, it's not a bad film and has some interesting and creepy moments that fans of the found footage horror sub-genre will enjoy. The premise is simple enough: a group of teenage video bloggers accept a challenge to stay the night in a super creepy haunted hospital. While at first everything is fine and dandy, as the night rolls on things are to get especially weird, and supernatural when they go snooping around where they shouldn't.

The film stars Nilam Farooq, Farina Flebbe, Sonja Gerhardt, Maxine Kazis, and Lisa-Marie Koroll.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless track in 5.1 German (with English subtitles) and a dubbed English mix. The film is nicely photographed and isn't too nauseating with its many handheld shots. Also included on the disc is a standard definition DVD version with an anamorphically enhanced widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix in German and dubbed English. The colors are nice throughout and not too over-exaggerated, even though the film uses a mix of different video formats.

The only special feature is a trailer.

While it doesn't bring particularly too much new to the table, Haunted Hospital: Hellstatten is fine what it is, and is surprisingly more effective than the Blair Witch sequels.

Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) stars in the psychological thriller Jonathan (2018), which is a spin on the 'split personality' character only with a bit more dramatic than the norm. While it's a bit reminiscent of other films in the subgenre such as Memento and Fight Club in some respects, Jonathan is an interesting thriller that has some very stylized filmmaking that makes it unique.

Jonathan also stars Patricia Clarkson, Suki Waterhouse, Matt Bomer, and Douglas Hodge. The film is the directorial debut by filmmaker Bill Oliver.

Jonathan (Elgort) is actually two people trapped inside one body. During the day he's Jonathan , a mild mannered young man and at night he's living a completely different and wilder life. When both personalities get involved with the same woman (Waterhouse), the two sides of Jonathan start fighting with one another... with dangerous consequences.

The film is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and two nice sounding tracks in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix and a lesser lossy, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. While it's not as impressive as Ultra HD, the film looks and sounds fine and doesn't have any glaring issues on Blu-ray that hinder the presentation. Zach Kuperstein's cinematography is quite nice and feels very real.

The only extra on the disc is the HD trailer and previews for other Well Go titles.

Ted Raimi, brother of genre filmmaker Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead), stars in the long lost slasher flick Skinner (1993), which has been brought back into the spotlight courtesy of Severin Films. Also starring Ricki Lake and Traci Lords, the film features special effects from renowned FX masters K and B, and is presented on Blu-ray in its full uncut glory.

The film is directed by Ivan Nagy (The Hitchhiker) and also stars David Warshofsky, Richard Schiff, and Blaire Baron.

Similar to the horror classic Maniac in some regards, Dennis Skinner (Raimi) is a normal man by day and a savage murderer at night, who likes to peal off and collect female skin. Not surprisingly over the years, Dennis has made a few enemies, one of which is Heidi (Lords), who was left disfigured because of him. As Dennis moves on to a new love in his life (Lake), he must find a way to hide his grotesque alter ego before she catches wind of what he's up to.

This is by far the best that Skinner has ever looked in this eye-popping new 4K remaster struck from the original film negative. The film is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and paired with newly mastered tracks in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 2.0 Stereo. Though shot on a shoestring, the film has an interesting color palette and convincing violence seen in new detail.

Special Features include...

A Touch of Scandal - Interview with Director Ivan Nagy

Under His Skin - Interview with Star Ted Raimi

Bargain Bin VHS For A Buck - Interview with Screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden

Cutting Skinner - Interview with Editor Jeremy Kasten

Flaying Sequence Out-takes & Extended Takes

and a Vintage Trailer

If you're an Evil Dead or Maniac fan, then Skinner is definitely worth checking out, especially with this new presentation from Severin Films.

Last but absolutely not least is Michael Cimino's thriller Year Of The Dragon (1985) based on the Robert Daley book (based on a true story) and one of the first U.S. films to address Chinese Triads, the original 'mafia' organization. Cimino had already debuted with one of the great heist films (Thunderbolt & Lightfoot) and an all-time critical and commercial blockbuster (The Deer Hunter), yet was just coming off of a huge bomb that ended a studio (the highly ambitious Heaven's Gate caused owned Transamerica to put United Artists into bankruptcy, which was picked up by the original MGM), so the fact that he was able to take on such a big project, even after rejecting it several times, shows the respect he still commanded at the time.

Mickey Rourke, in one of his finest moments, is extremely decorated Vietnam veteran Stanley White, a policeman who is also racist and has something bad to say about everyone. No one will even acknowledge the Triads exist in New York City and its chinatown, but he knows better. When one of the elder heads of one of the Triad families is assassinated in broad daylight, he is replaced by a very young successor Joey Thai (John Lone of The Last Emperor and The Shadow) and to everyone's shock, Stanley is moved up to investigate. Instead of just going after the young killers, he intends to go after Joey!

From there, it is a battle of wills as the bloodshed slowly increases and Stanley tries to break the Traids or at least bring Joey down. Funny, smart, suspenseful and with some unforgettable sequences, Cimino adapted the book with soon-to-be super director Oliver Stone, who had just come off of co-writing the 1983 Scarface remake with Brian De Palma. That film is at its best in its uncut X/NC-17 edition, but I still like this film even better yet the audience has still not caught up with it, even though it has inspired a slew of imitators including Philip Kaufmann's Rising Sun, Ridley Scott's Black Rain and those repetitive Rush Hour films.

Cimino went all out making a thriller with much character study but along with William Friedkin's To Live & Die In L.A., this was the end of the line for the gritty police thrillers that started in the early 1970s. However, this has aged extremely well (no one denies Triads exist anymore) and it is probably one of the most underrated gangster genre films ever made, though it is much more. The pacing is exceptional, the realism very raw and stark, but what it builds up to is a truly stunning climax and the film has all kinds of hidden thinks in it you'll catch after a few viewings. Rourke proves why he was one of the most talented and dangerous actors of his time. I have been a gan of the film for years and it is great this has finally made it to Blu-ray in the U.S. after surfacing in other markets the last few years.

Another great thing is how great this film looks, shot in the J-D-C- Scope format, using the great anamorphic lenses with 35mm color camera negative. Other films to use those lenses include Lynch's Blue Velvet, Return Of The Jedi, Poltergeist, The Bounty, Firestarter, The Mission, Highlander 2 and even The Sandlot. This is my favorite use of those lenses and you can see how effective and great they are, making them among the best along with Todd-AO 35, Clairmont Scope, Hawk Scope, Franscope and the usual array of great Panavision lenses. You will find this to be great demo material for your Ultra HDTV or HDTV.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer rarely shows the age of the materials used, looking like it was shot more recently than it was. The brilliant, late, great Director of Photography Alex Thompson, B.S.C. (Alien 3, Raw Meat, Excalibur, Roeg's Eureka, Branagh's Hamlet, The Keep, The Krays, Ridley Scott's Legend) uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent, making the film increasingly involving the more you watch. It was also released in 70mm blow-up prints and the rare thing Cimino did was letterbox his scope frames instead of cutting any sides of it to fit the 2.20 X 1 70mm frame.

Now I have the French Blu-ray edition from Carlotta (though it has no English subtitles, the book edition is one fans should get ASAP) and it has a great HD transfer, but it is NOT the same one as the Warner Archive edition here. That was produced by Studio Canal and MGM overseas, where they have rights there and you get the new MGM logo at the beginning, while this edition has the old MGM/UA logo preceded by the disclaimer that the film is not meant to offend or degrade Chinese Americans.

The French edition (which is region free despite being marked as Region B) has some great color, detail and depth, but I thought the color timing was a little off at times and the very important Video Red is not as rich, full and warm as it should be. The Warner edition has the superior Red, is warmer and more color consistent in its color timing, though it might not be always as sharp and clear as the French edition. Both are superior to the U.S. DVD, but the film's use of color and amazing detail in its set-ups show no regular Blu-ray can totally capture the film, so maybe a 4K version will eventually make up the slight visual losses or inaccuracies in both editions. Despite that, thanks to Blu-ray, you can see the depth intended to experience the look, feel and atmosphere pretty much throughout. That makes it easily one of the best back catalog Blu-rays of the year.

The original soundtrack of the film at its best was a 70mm magnetic 4.1 Dolby Surround soundmaster featured only on the blow-up prints, upgraded nicely to DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix here that does as much justice to the film's original soundtrack as possible. The French version sounds as good with little variation for the record, so you'll hear everything as cleanly and clearly as possible and I always liked the film's sound design.

Extras include a repeat of the outstanding feature-length audio commentary track by Cimino, who has so much excellent to say and share, plus the Original Theatrical Trailer, both of which were the extras on the old U.S. DVD. Add the great supporting cast and production design and you MUST see this one!

To order the Warner Archive Year Of The Dragon Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Dragon) and James Lockhart



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