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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Teens > Murder > Horror > Supernatural > Action > Revenge > Adventure > Germany > Mystery > Arg > Boys Next Door (1984/Severin Blu-ray)/Devil's Revenge (2019/MVD/Cleopatra Blu-ray w/CD)/Hard Night Falling (2019/Lionsgate DVD)/Indian Epic (1959/Fritz Lang/Film Movement Blu-ray set with Tiger of Esc

Boys Next Door (1984/Severin Blu-ray)/Devil's Revenge (2019/MVD/Cleopatra Blu-ray w/CD)/Hard Night Falling (2019/Lionsgate DVD)/Indian Epic (1959/Fritz Lang/Film Movement Blu-ray set with Tiger of Eschnapur and Indian Tomb)/Rojo (2018/Icarus DVD)

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

Up next are some films that try to challenge the audience, even if it within genre, save one that does not try much and a few you should know about...

We start with Penelope Spheeris' The Boys Next Door (1984) with Charlie Sheen in what is his first big screen movie work and Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2) as two streetwise goofs in Hollywood who do not fit in and are as careless as can be. The film opens with an odd montage of serial killers, so we are supposed to believe these two will follow in their footsteps, but it becomes a failed analogy that trivializes actual killings and cuts into some of what the film actually offers.

Instead, the guys go on a spree of destroying things, nearly killing a few people early on and even kidnapping someone's dog. As they get into more criminal trouble and decide to run away from their hometown, then they start stealing and the violence increases, including a notable sequence where they land up at a gay bar and decide to take advantage of the one gay man who assumes they are gay to get money, et al, from him. Eventually, they move on to assault and murder, but they never exactly come close to being serial killers.

Besides being an interesting time capsule of Los Angeles and hollywood at the time, the actors give two of their most interesting performances ever, including of damaged and toxic masculinity. The screenplay is by Glen Morgan and James Wong, who later helped Chris Carter bring The X-Files to life, but it is far form their most polished work, yet better than some of their disappointing work after that series ran too long and folded. Christopher McDonald (Thelma & Louise) and Patti D'Arbanville are among the supporting cast who makes this a better film. A curio everyone should see once, it may not be perfect, but The Boys Next Door deals with issues Hollywood still has trouble grappling with.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary with Director Penelope Spheeris and Actor Maxwell Caulfield, Blind Rage - Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Nightmare USA, Both Side of the Law - Interview with Actors Maxwell Caulfield and Christopher McDonald, Give Us Your Money - Interviews with Street Band Performers Texacala Jones and Tequila Mockingbird, Caveman Day - Cinemaniacs Interview with Director Penelope Spheeris and Actor Maxwell Caulfield, Tales from the End Zone - Interview with Actor Kenneth Cortland, The Psychotronic Tourist - The Boys Next Door, Alternate Opening Title Sequence & Extended Scenes (Silent) and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Star Trek alums William Shatner and Jeri Ryan star in the forgettable low budget satanic thriller The Devil's Revenge (2019). Directed by Jared Cohn (Evil Nanny), who has done his fair share of direct to video schlock, this film is nothing original or new and not without many cringe-worthy moments of acting, especially from William Shatner, whose hamming it up as per usual. Poor Jeri Ryan tries here, but she can't break through a screenplay that doesn't offer her many challenges.

The film also stars Jason Brooks, Jackie Dallas, and Ciara Hanna.

A couple archaeologists go cave hunting and one of them, John (Brooks), finds a relic and a portal to Hell. After they flee the cave, John is overcome with demonic visions that soon start to affect his personal life with his wife (Ryan) and family. He goes into a deep study and discovers that the relic must be destroyed before the Devil can resurface his revenge.

The CD soundtrack of the film's score is also included.

The only extras are a Slideshow and a Trailer.

If you're looking for Shatner going up against the Devil, you should check out Robert Fuest's The Devil's Rain (1975), which is available from disc from Severin Films and reviewed elsewhere on this site. This film plays it a bit safe and is more concerned with flashy images and typical filmmaking tropes than making something actually suspenseful.

Giorgio Bruno's Hard Night Falling (2019) is the latest straight-to-video Dolph Lundgren feature to come out in the last few months and sadly, it continues a trend where he looks particularly bored, the scripts are really bad and the action is as badly written and edited as delivered. This time, he is an old INTERPOL member trying to get together with his estranged wife and child when an old enemy brings henchmen to go after all of them... because gold is buried on their property!?!?!!?

Oh... K.... This thousandth would-be Die Hard on a budget is just lame and will be the longest 86 minutes you've sat through in a while. The kind that you might start to doze off until the surrounds kick in. Lundgren can still be good in genre movies (Aquaman), but he is way too out of it here and maybe the title should be 'hard night falling asleep' or the like.

There are unsurprisingly no extras.

Fritz Lang's Indian Epic (1959) is the last large-scale production of the great director's long and influential career, a big production he originally intended to lens in the early 1920s, but it fell through and he moved onto other classics like Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Metropolis and M. After an amazing run of films in Hollywood, though two versions of the tale were already filmed (the second by the Nazis he left behind at the beginning of WWII), new producers entered the picture with the rights the the long screenplay by now ex-wife Thea Von Harbou to be produced in color.

Made as two separate films, The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb, it harkens back to the serials of the silent era in its pacing, though such Hollywood chapter plays would be edited into longer releases overseas as in Germany, thus the form this one takes and has the famous adventurer plot of a man form a more modern civilization going to another country (usually 'exotic' as it is here) and finding more than expected. Paul Hubschmid is a German architect going tot he city in India of the title to build for the Prince (Walther Reyer) who runs it all.

Unfortunately, the builder fall for a sexy dancer (Debra Paget, stealing most of her scenes without trying) the Prince intends to be with and is in love with. Conflict ensues, but other matters include people out for the Prince, the holy men who are less tolerant of what is about to happen, killer tigers on the loose and more surprises. Running 203 minutes, it was not only Lang's last mega-film, but likely the last epic of any kind to be shot in the older academy aperture narrow vision block style frame he preferred over any widescreen formats. Without realizing it, the makers were at the end of a filmmaking era in several ways.

The film has some problems from actors playing roles they are not the ethnicity of, some fakeness in the sets (though like The Wizard Of Oz, that's the way it was produced and is part of its Fantasy genre affiliation) and some sloppy visual effects that were bad then. Add a few cliches and you can see why despite being a solid film to watch even with its flaws, it is not remembered among Lang's very best. The problem is that Lang made so many great films, some of them have become too forgotten in the shadow of other classics, which is why it is so important this film was restored to its former visual glory because even a flawed Lang film is superior to most such productions you'd see today and it struck me how much better this was than the thousandth CGI/live-action fest that no one remembers in a year if that.

The actors give it their all, all the sets are built to the hilt, Lang has some serious darkness visually and in the melodrama of the film and that it was made outside the Hollywood Studio System and still works for its age is impressive in itself. I had seen bits and pieces of this film a very long time ago, but never looking this great and in its entirety. Lang never lost his edge as a director all the way to the end of his career and this restored Indian Epic shows how unstoppable he really was. Get this and take the time away from everything to see it at least once and be ready for some surprises, a few shocks and even some fun. You won't be sorry.

Extras include a 20-page booklet with an essay by film scholar Tom Gunning, while the discs add a set of feature length audio commentaries by the great film historian David Kalat (who has recorded some of the best such tracks around and does so again here), The Indian Epic documentary and "Debra Paget, For Example", a video essay by filmmaker Mark Rappaport that is good, but gets a little of the path towards the end.

Finally we have Benjamin Naishtat's Rojo (2018) which has in its background, the mid 1970s Dirty War in Argentina that led to a military dictatorship. With that looming but not always discussed, a man named Claudio (Almodovar alumni Dario Grandinetti) is waiting at a restaurant for his wife that he likes, though she does have a habit of being late for whatever reasons. A stranger is furious he has to wait for a table when Claudio has one and has not ordered yet.

After an extraordinary exchange where the disruptor is thrown out, his wife arrives and they eat. When they leave, they are attacked by him and more insanity ensures, but heightened. From there, the story has several twists and turns, including a private detective (Alfredo Castro) investigating where the man 'disappeared' including how and why.

There are some very good, palpable, honest scenes here with some great acting, editing and lensing of the story that makes this work more often than most such films I have seen lately. Still, there are bad notes and a few flaws that stop this from being a home run, but I was still pleasantly surprised and if you like this kind of film, you should definitely give it a look.

There are no extras, but anything would have been nice.

Now for playback quality. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Door is shot on 35mm film and looks good for its age, but does still show its age and has grain that pegs it to film stocks of the time. This looks as good as it can look in the format and is very color correct. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is also as good as it will ever get for this theatrical monophonic release, but it holds up well considering its age. At this point, mono was rare for feature films, so it tells us how low the budget must have been.

The Devil's Revenge is presented in 1080p high definition with a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an English 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, both of which are standard to the format. The film isn't terribly shot for being low budget, but the sound design and editing at times is a bit hokey and flashy for the sake of being flashy. Colors aren't oversaturated or stylized, but pretty normal for the most part. Overall, this is a loud and obnoxious film that you can't exactly fall asleep to. (Even though you might try...).

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on both Indian films looks very color consistent and has been restored as well as possible. Both films were shot on Eastman Kodak 35mm negative (though I wondered if Lang might have wanted Agfa or Ansco film), but best of all, the film was issued in better 35mm prints in the dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor format and this looks like a print like that often. Color impresses throughout and though there are imperfections at times, it looks solid overall with some demo shots. Though the film was apparently a stereo release, the sound here is DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless form whatever surviving materials existed when this was restored. It still sounds fine, but cannot escape its age or what was lost in the lack of stereo. It also looks like the film may have never had Technicolor prints released in the U.S., but we'll see what we find out later as the film gets reintroduced.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Falling is very soft and has softness issues throughout that have nothing to do with any kind of style chosen. The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Rojo is sometimes soft, but color and style are more consistent. Both films offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes, but the Spanish Rojo track is more imaginative and smarter, plus a little more palpable than that of Falling.

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Revenge)



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