Sleep 4K (2019/Warner 4K
Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Hudson
River Massacre (1965*)/My
Life Is Murder
Mr. 'X' (1946*)/Red
West (1935/*all MVD/VCI
Ultra HD Picture: A Picture: B+/C+/B/C+/C+/C+ Sound:
A/C+/B-/C/C+/C+ Extras: B/C-/C/D/C/C- Main Programs:
next are a group of new releases, all connected to the past in one
way or another....
Flanagan's Doctor Sleep (2019) is the sequel to Stephen King's
The Shining and serves as both a big screen adaptation of
King's novel of the same name and a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's genre
classic The Shining (1970) maintaining much of the imagery of
the former. 2019 was a big year for several Stephen King cinematic
adaptations including the IT sequel and various television
adaptations, and I think this one kind of got lost in the shuffle
with its post Halloween release date.
the ever so talented Ewan McGregor as adult Danny Torrence, the film
is a fun thrill ride and an entertaining entry to The Shining
universe. The film arrives on 4K UHD and Blu-ray combo pack in both
its theatrical version and extended Director's Cut (regular Blu-ray
only), which alternate, extended, and deleted scenes that help flesh
out story points closer to the novel.
film also stars Rebecca Ferguson (who does a great job here after
last year's The Mummy with Tom Cruise - reviewed elsewhere on
this site), Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, and Zahn McClarnon.
Torrence, still scared from his frightening childhood experience at
the sinister Overlook Hotel, is now a grown man trying to shut out
the evil spirits around him. When he meets a young girl (Curran) who
also has 'the shining', he discovers a group of drifter vampire-like
immortality seekers that are after the girl to suck out her
life-force. Feeding on the life forces of people who have this gift
of 'the shine', Torrence ends up facing off against Abra (Ferguson)
who is the leader of the pack, in a final confrontation at the
only gripe is that the Director's Cut is NOT on the 4K UHD disc and
only in the (also included) 1080p Blu-ray only. Likely due to the
fact that the Director's Cut is 30 minutes longer... but still
disappointing. Not sure what happened there. At any rate, the
Blu-ray has the same audio and widescreen specs in a 1080p master as
opposed to 2160p.
Features include the following featurettes:
on the Director's Cut
to the Overlook
Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision
From Shining to Sleep
included is a digital copy.
Sleep deserves more attention than it got initially and I hope
that it finds that now that it is on 4K UHD and Blu-ray.
de Ossorio's Hudson
(1965) also takes place in an isolated location, but this
Spanish-language Western action drama actually takes place in Canada
(!!!) has the famous (an d much imitated) Hudson Bay Company
(supported by the British) trying to push out independent trappers,
but in the face of death threats, terrorism, kidnapping and murder,
fight back resulting in the action seen here. The back of the case
says it is a Spaghetti Western and that has some validity, but it
also is a precursor to Michael Cimino's Heaven's
(1980) which pulled out all the stops and literally went for broke.
Pamela Tudor, I did not recognize the names or actors by face as I
watched, but they give it their best and this is not the longest
film, yet despite its budget limits and flaws, they play it well
enough that you buy the period it takes place in and costuming and
sets are not bad considering. If is is a Western of any kind, it
becomes a Revenge Western when the brother of the main character is
killed by the British. Only bits and pieces of this stayed with me,
but that is still better than most big budget messes we've been
getting lately, so if this is your kind of film, you might want to
give this one a try.
are sadly no extras, save trailers for other Spanish releases from
VCI on Blu-ray.
surprise is Xena
actress Lucy Lawless coming back to TV with the Australian production
Life Is Murder
(2019) where she convincingly plays a retired detective trying to get
on with her life when one of her old friends comes to her for help in
a particularly difficult case. The show is smart, has humor, she
shows she can act and it has an energy and pace that is better than
most of the now-played out police procedurals we have been getting.
this will continue or not, we get 10 episodes, meaning the first case
leads to others and we get more about her life throughout, though
being set in Australia is a plus and I can see why people would like
this one. The only thing that is annoying is her name is Alexa, now
the name of a particularly annoying device. Otherwise, those
interested in a different variant of such TV fiction should take a
look, or just see Lawless at her personal best.
include some animated shorts and a 17-minutes-long Behind The Scenes
conclude with three Saturday Morning Movie Serial Chapter Plays
originally produced by Universal Pictures decades ago, competing with
Republic (its predecessors) and Columbia Pictures in this market that
lasted until TV arrived. The
Mysterious Mr. 'X'
(1946) is a fun action piece made towards the end of the pre-nuclear
era as a scientist creates an engine for a submarine so incredible,
it can power a submarine for days. Too bad some bad people want to
steal it for their own use.
cliffhangers here are amusing, but we get some visual effects that
are a little more sloppy than usual (even for the time) for such a
production of the time, but there are laughs (some unintentional) to
be had and when this does work, it is fun. The opening credits
imitate the opening of Universal's Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes
films (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and there is some (simpler)
mystery here, of course.
a few shots look Noirish or at least like the better detective films
of the time, a doctor goes missing the the bad guys are using a
mysterious chemical from Africa to hypnotize people and brainwash
them into doing things they would not otherwise do. Though not the
best ever of its kind, this one has its moments (including some
murder attempts that are not bad) and those interested should give it
a good look.
are sadly no extras.
up are two serials that are inarguably Westerns, starting with one of
the most famous hero characters of the genre you do not hear much
about today: Red
(1934). Buck Jones plays the title Sheriff 'Red' Davidson of Sun
Dog, keeping criminals out of his town single-handedly, running into
more trouble than usual when he saves a friend from being falsely
hanged. Soon, he runs into a web of criminality he might not have
initially expected. However, he's ready for anything.
tis credit, the 15 chapters have lots of fights, chases, gunfire,
gunfights and energy, even more so than later filmed adaptations of
the character (eclipsed in part by time and a bit of the Lone Ranger)
that are not bad, but never quite as convincing as this version,
which might be the best ever for the character. Jones was a big star
in his time and he is too forgotten too, yet he plays this well and
the camera likes him just enough that we can see why he was a big
star in these kinds of productions at the time.
formula and some stereotypes aside, it is one of the better Western
Serials ever made, albeit a little dated and mixed at times.
include a stills/poster section, featurette on the character by
Daniel Griffith and episode of an unreleased TV pilot with Jones for
Filming Of The West''.
we have Jones a year later in another serial, The
(1935) and though Universal could have produced a sequel serial (they
did three Buster Crabbe/Flash Gordon serials), they have him as
“Montana' - the moral center of a gold rush story where too many
are out for themselves and a few criminal types with even kill for
the gold itself. Another 15 chapters in length, this has about as
much energy as Red
but a little darker since he is not an established hero off the bat
and the stakes are higher.
result is some overlap with the previous production, sometimes on
purpose for the benefit of the fans, but another winner with about as
much energy and a little more darkness visually. It is probably best
to watch the two back to back in the order of first theatrical
release. Fans should be pleased too.
for the unaired TV episode, this set repeats the two extras from Red
Sleep is presented on 4K UHD disc with a 2160p
HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra
High Definition image and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1
and audio mixed in lossless 11.1 Dolby Atmos (mixdown Dolby TrueHD
7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), and English lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps).
The film is highly cinematic and definitely looks fresh and inspired,
obviously, quite a bit by Kubrick's visual style in segments. The
score has a lot of similar motifs from the Kubrick film as well and
exploits them every chance given. There's several scenes with a
simple heart beat to help elevate the tension, and it works pretty
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Murder looks
good for an HD shoot, taking advantage of the color and locations
Down Under throughout, as well as its star and cast, so it is also
more pleasant than most police procedurals that try to look dark
these days and just seem to try too hard. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix has Pro Logic-like
surrounds and is well recorded.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hudson also
has some good color, but the source is not in the best of shape, so
you get some good sho0ts and more than a few flawed ones. However,
it was shot to look good and you can see that in the shots that have
aged best. The sound is a PCM 2.0 English dub that sounds very
compressed and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish Mono that sounds more
authentic and is recommended as the preferred way to watch the film.
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfers on all three serials are from new 2K scans of their 35mm
film masters, but still can show the age of the materials used, yet
we get some fine shots and clean ones throughout. By sticking all
the chapters on two Blu-rays (save Mysterious
on one), you still get some compression, but the idea is to keep the
action going for fans with the least amount of interruptions. That
means you can get flatness in many shots, but they all look as good
as you are likely to ever see them outside of an actual quality film
print. All also feature their original optical monophonic sound
presented here in PCM
2.0 Mono that is not bad, but shows the age, technical limits and low
budgets of the time.
Nicholas Sheffo and James