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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Exploitation > Serial Killer > Thriller > Supernatural > France > Fantasy > Witch > Russi > Trick (2019/RLJ Blu-ray)/Viy (1967/Severin Blu-ray)

Freaks (2018/Well Go Blu-ray w/DVD)/Manson Family Movies (1974 - 79/Cult Epics DVDs)/Ready Or Not (2019/Fox Blu-ray)/The Returned: The Complete Second Season (2012 French version/Music Box Blu-ray set)/Trick (2019/RLJ Blu-ray)/Viy (1967/Severin Blu-ray)

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

Here's more creepy new releases for your entertainment consideration...

Emile Hirsch stars in Freaks (2018), an interesting sci-fi thriller centering around a young girl named Chloe who has unusual powers and is locked inside her home by her controlling father (Hirsch). Chloe has never left the house in her young life, but believes that there are creatures known as 'abnormals' live outside and threaten the lives of her and her father. One day, Chloe leaves the house and discovers the world is not at all what she was raised to be believe. Possessing telekinetic abilities and bleeding out of her eye, Chloe's life is quite complex as she searches for answers about her life and lost mother.

The film also stars Bruce Dern, Lexy Kolker, Amanda Crew, and Grace Park and is directed by Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein.

Freaks is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and audio mixes in English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 lossy Stereo. The film is nicely photographed and quite cinematic with a wide color range and a surreal quality to the normal outside world. There's also an anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD version of the film with a more compressed image and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo mix.

Special Features include a Feature length Audio Commentary by Directors Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein.

There have been many films on Charles Manson and his infamous murderous family over the years. However, none of them quite match this one as it is a truly unique experience. The filmmaker John Aes-Nihil has filmed reenactment sequences of different Manson 'home movies' that attempt to capture an oddly beautiful side to the chaos. The whole movie was also filmed on the actual locations where these events took place decades before, which gives it an even creepier vibe in the Manson Family Movies (1974 - 1979).

The Manson Family Movies are presented on DVD in anamorphically-enhanced standard definition with a full frame presentation and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track helps the film achieve the style it's going after.

Special Features include:

Director's Commentary Track

Outtakes with Director's Commentary

Never Before Released Manson Music

Last Interview with Charles Manson (30 min)

The Original LAPD Crime/Morgue Photos

Original Charles Manson Artwork

and Bonus Disc: Sharon Tate Home Movies (silent)

Rising star Samarah Weaving (Ash Vs The Evil Dead, Mayhem) stars in Ready or Not (2019), a fresh and original horror film that's among one of the best thrillers of the year. A young bride named Grace (Weaving) marries an insanely rich young man and meets his insanely rich family, who own a world renowned gaming franchise. They have their wedding at a gorgeous mansion, where at midnight they play a deadly game where they 'hunt' the bride in abidance to an ancient satanic ritual. As the night goes on, Grace ends defends herself against her bloodthirsty new in-laws, for if they don't kill her by sunrise then they end up dead themselves.

The film also stars Andie MacDowell, Mark O'Brien, Adam Brody, and Henry Czerny.

Samarah Weaving is great in this role and isn't afraid to get soaked in blood when necessary. At some points channeling Uma Thurman from Kill Bill, her character evolves over the course of the mild from mild mannered and friendly to hardened and blood thirsty, which is fun to watch.

Ready or Not is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and sound mixes in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) and in English and French languages. The image overall is pretty sharp, however some scenes seem a bit overly orange. This was likely the choice of the filmmakers, but translates a little goofy on disc. The other predominant color is green, which reads nicely and doesn't oversaturate the skin tones as much as the orange hue tends to do in some of the candlelit scenes. A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include:

Let the Games Begin: The Making of READY OR NOT

Part 1: A Devil's Bargain

Part 2: The Le Domas Name - A Family Brand

Part 3: 'Til Death Do Us Part

and a Gag Reel

Audio Commentary by Radio Silence and Samara Weaving

If you are a genre or cult film fan, I definitely suggest checking out Ready or Not.

Next up is the original version of a horror series that also has a U.S. remake, but despite being discussed at times, just never take hold in the U.S. in either version. The Returned: The Complete Second Season (2012) is the French version of the hit series (at least overseas) where victims of a disaster suddenly find a way back home, even if it is not what we would call normal. For more on the debut season of the U.S. remake, try this link...


Now, it is six months later after the big flood (in this version) and people are being surprised in weird and subtle ways, but then odder things start happening and dead bodies start showing up, but some in ways that look more like ritualistic killings. The eight episodes here (running 460 minutes!!!) have a good look to them that is consistent and a little dark as expected, but there were not very memorable shots.

The cast is not bad, but the teleplays keep giving us odd moments, some of which are supposed to be horrifying, but sometimes gross without being memorable either and there are too many such moments that turn out to be delusions, a bad move. I understand if someone needs to see the first season for a second one to work, but even having seen (and barley remembering) the remake debut season, this is just not that good and good for the fans, I found this all style and no point. The only thing is someone is trying to find out what is going on. They're just taking way too long in the narrative to do so.

At least the HD-shot 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is not bad and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is professionally and consistently recorded and mixed, but the sound and visuals are about as standard as the rest of this package. If you think the genre is histrionic, maybe this is for you, but all it proved to me is that this does not work in either version.

There are no extras.

Trick (2019) is a new slasher film that's a mixture of Halloween, Saw, and Scream in one modestly budgeted package. Omar Epps stars as a Detective named Denver whose hot on the trail of a young serial killer that lost it at a Halloween party a few years back and massacred several fellow teenagers. Thought to be dead after being shot and falling from a building, bodies start to fall after years in dormant and seems to match the M.O. of Trick, who has become something of an urban legend and is even supported by a group of bizarre followers.

The film also stars Jamie Kennedy, Tom Atkins, Vanessa Aspillaga, and Ellen Adair. The film is directed by Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000).

Trick is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a sharp sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. Though shot on a modest budget, the film has a nice look overall and passes fine on Blu-ray disc.

Special Features include:

The Making of "Trick" Featuring Interviews with the Cast and Crew

There's plenty of stabbing and murdering going on in Trick, but at the end of the day, it's just your average run-of-the-mill slasher that borrows heavily from other films.

Finally we have Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov's Viy (1967) based on a popular novel by Nicolai Gogol, which inspired Mario Bava's Black Sunday a few years before involving the Church, a tricky witch and much supernatural chaos. While Bava's film was played more seriously with death and darkness heavily weighing in, this Soviet Cinema remake is more comical and more fantasy oriented. In that, it is more ethnically accurate per se (Russian Orthodox, et al), but I was not as convinced and some of the effects have aged badly.

That includes the wacky costumes for some of the demon monsters which more like they belong on a TV kids show like H.R. Puf-N-Stuf or Lidsville, though also alike the later Super Inframan (1975), so expect the need to suspend disbelief more than you might expect. It is being called influential and I can see that in parts, so it is a mixed film, but it is also a look at a cinema that is long gone.

Cheers to the actors who go all in and play it as seriously as they can, but they also look amused at times and can only take it all so seriously. It was still the kind of film the USSR was allowing to be made to compete not only with Hollywood and its independent equivalent, but other such cinema coming from the likes of Japan, the U.K. and Germany. Now you can see for yourself, but don't expect any serious horror cinema. I hope we see more of these Soviet films finally getting restored and being made available in the U.S. because many of them need the help and are long overdue for reissue and rediscovery. Cheers to Severin for taking the initiative.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used in a few flaws here and there, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film you will see anywhere else outside of a mint film print and does as fine a job as possible of recreating the SovColor format. The Russian DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix shows its age even more so, but that was the way it was recorded and this as good as the sound will likely ever get.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, four short black and white silent Soviet Cinema fantasy short films and two featurettes: Viy The Vampire interview with Richard Stanley and From The Woods To The Cosmos with John Leman Riley delivering an excellent overlook of Soviet Cinema jumping on technology, fantasy and science fiction early on as the country itself did from its early science fiction films to the classics it produced. Most of these films have never been released in their original form in the U.S. either, which makes it a must-see piece.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Returned, Viy) and James Lockhart



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