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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Mystery > Cable TV > Slasher > Killer Doll > Comedy > Drama > Supernatural > Relationships > Scienc > AHS Apocalypse: The Complete 8th Season (2019/Fox DVD set)/Child's Play (2019/MGM/Fox/Orion Blu-ray)/Family (2019/IndiePix DVD)/Gwen (2018/BFI/RLJ Blu-ray)/Weird Science (1985/Universal/MVD/Arrow Blu-

AHS Apocalypse: The Complete 8th Season (2019/Fox DVD set)/Child's Play (2019/MGM/Fox/Orion Blu-ray)/Family (2019/IndiePix DVD)/Gwen (2018/BFI/RLJ Blu-ray)/Weird Science (1985/Universal/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)

Picture: C+/B/C/B-/B+ Sound: C+/B/C/B/B+ Extras: C/C/C-/C/B+ Main Programs: C/C/C/C/B+

With Halloween upon us, here comes the horror and thriller releases timed to go with it, so we start with a continuation, revival, upgrade of a classic and two new entries in the genres of horror and the mysterious....

AHS Apocalypse: The Complete 8th Season (2019) is the latest new series of American Horror Story, but they've tried for a post-apocalyptic tale this season and it easily is their poorest showing after a set of seasons that were creepy and challenging more so than most TV shows made anywhere (of many) that were more hyper than substance (especially Supernatural, soon thankfully over) so instead of doing something different or more challenging, it plays like a bad sci-fi show (some of which are in production now) and is easily the nadir of the series.

For a show that tried to avoid cliches, this one gave up this time around and formula abounds. Save Kathy Bates, underused and not used to full effect here, Sarah Paulson is the only really known name and the 10 episodes here just drag on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. For die hard fans only.

There are no extras.

Lars Klevberg's Child's Play (2019) is yet another revival of the played-out killer doll franchise, but this time, we get a cyber/Internet version named Buddi whose eyes change color (red means death, and boredom and predictability) voiced by Mark Hamill, who does his best to overcome a lame script. Then this has zero suspense, new ideas and is just boring and pointless all the way. Why anyone thought this was a good idea to restart this this soon smacks of desperation, but any murder here is even boring.

Time to retire this doll for the next 20 to 30 years when it makes sense to go back, maybe. Otherwise, this 'play' is a dull boy.

Extras include Digital Copy, plus featurettes The Making of Child's Play, Bringing Child's Play's Chucky to Life, Toy Massacre, A.I. Mayhem, Soundtrack Trailer and a Stills Gallery.

Veronica Kedar's Family (2019) at first seems like a drama about mental illness, but it is a horror film where Lily is not helped by anyone in her family (they are actually dead, it seems), her daughter or her therapist. From there, this thing just drones on and on and she has delusions on top of that. Coming very close to trivializing serious mental health issues, the script is a wreck saying only this the writer/director understands and this is one family you'll be glad you are not part of.

A trailer is the only extra.

William McGregor's Gwen (2018) has another female protagonist who also has a failed family (father gone, mother sick) and villagers think it makes her and her home faire game to take over or destroy. She has a sister who tries to help, but the film suggests something supernatural may also be at play. Unfortunately, that is not well integrated into the plot and ultimately does not matter as much of the predictable happenings here happen no matter what the young gals do against trashy villagers who you'll hope burn themselves to death by accident when they try to hurt and kill defenseless others.

Maxine Peake and Eleanor Worthington-Cox are good here as are the other actors for what they are given to do and the makers are hoping the naturalism of the period and its isolation will pay off and make this creepy, but that cannot combat the failed parts of the script and this barely even works as a mood piece. We've even seen this kind of thing before and it didn't work then either. Oh well.

Interviews with co-stars Peake and Worthington-Cox are the only extras.

Finally, from the creator of the most '80s-riffic films of all time such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, John Hughes' classic comedy, Weird Science (1985), gets a brand new remastered edition on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow video. Looking and sounding superior to any prior release, this version has been restored by Arrow Films and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 5.1 and a Stereo 2.0 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) audio mixes. The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution with a new color pass done on the overall film in Burbank that makes the contrast pop more notably from before. There's also audio options in lossless stereo audio and an additional 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround option (theatrical version only). If you're a fan, then you'll want to check this version out for sure as it's almost like watching the movie for the first time again.

The Frankenstein-esque '80s comedy centers around Gary (Anthony Michael Hall, Sixteen Candles) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), who are two hopeless high school nobodies that are sick of their status at the bottom of the social food chain. Using Wyatt's 'high tech' computer, the two create the jaw dropping Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) - a living breathing supermodel that worships them. Being highly intelligent, persuasive, and irresistible to everyone around her, Lisa whips the two boys in shape and gives them the confidence they need to become strong willed men.

The film also stars a very young Robert Downey Jr., Vamp's Robert Rusler, and the late Bill Paxton in a very funny performance. Of course, we can't forget the Oingo Boingo title track of the same name that's one of the greatest tunes in the history of ever.

Special Features include:

Edited-for-TV version of the film (SD only, 95 mins), plus comparison featurette highlighting the alternate dubs and takes

Option to watch additional scenes from the Extended Version separately

Newly-filmed interview with special makeup creator Craig Reardon

Newly-filmed interview with composer Ira Newborn (Real Genius)

Newly-filmed interview with supporting actor John Kapelos

All-new interview with casting director Jackie Burch

It's Alive: Resurrecting Weird Science, an archive documentary featuring interviews with cast, crew and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall

Theatrical trailers and TV spots

Image gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching

and First Pressing Only: Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes

Sure, Weird Science is completely silly, impossible, and a bit dated, but it's essential '80s movie viewing. I'm surprised it's title and formula hasn't been retooled in modern cinema yet and starring The Rock in a gender swapped edition, but this amazing new release from Arrow is very detailed and certainly worth the price tag. Recommended.

As for the rest of the playback performance, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Play revival is an HD shoot that is not bad, second only to Science in overall quality. Too bad it is generic and nothing special or as good looking as the original.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Gwen does make the HD look naturalistic enough for an HD shoot, but too bad the script did not have the same energy, though editing is not bad. Too bad it is not too memorable and has motion blur more than it should.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on AHS is and anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Family, both decent HD shoots, also have motion blur (Family is softer throughout, unfortunately) and play as well as they can for the older standard definition format. Both also offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, but Family is weak on this account too, though both are not great. Maybe lossless versions would have sounded better.

Play and Gwen have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that at least offer consistent soundfields and are not bad, though they could have been a bit better too.

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Science)



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