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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > New Age > Supernatural > Murder > Mystery > Crime > Killer > Sex > Counterculture > Science Ficti > Astrologer (1977/aka Suicide Cult*)/Color Out Of Space 4K (2019/Lovecraft/RLJ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Mind Games (1989/aka Mindgames/MVD Blu-ray)/Night Of Open Sex (1983*)/Paganini Horror (1988

Astrologer (1977/aka Suicide Cult*)/Color Out Of Space 4K (2019/Lovecraft/RLJ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Mind Games (1989/aka Mindgames/MVD Blu-ray)/Night Of Open Sex (1983*)/Paganini Horror (1988/*all Severin Blu-rays)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A Picture: B-/B+/B-/B/C+ Sound: B-/B+/C+/B-/B Extras: C+/B-/B-/C+/B Films: C+/B+/C+/C-/C+

Next up are some down and dirty horror and psychological thrillers, all made out of the mainstream...

We'll start with Jim Glickenhaus' The Astrologer (1977), a film that wants to mix a little science fiction with supernatural, speculative fiction, new age religion, cults and astrology in a cycle that does treat persons of color in a semi-racist way ('exoticness' is no excuse) and included other B-movie thrillers, some TV shows and special and silly Sunn Classic 'films' released in theaters covering everything from Jesus to Noah's Ark. The rare high end of this was the In Search Of... TV series hosted by Leonard Nimoy (reviewed elsewhere on this site).

Here, the tale bounces back and fourth between the journey of a dark and mysterious man who has a cult of followers and sex with potential sacrifices or those to be possessed, while a local woman in New York City (Monica Tidwell, a Playboy Playmate around the time of production or so) finds instant shock when she has a palm reader sense something odd about her, but she does not know what the tarot card reader means. Then, we start to discover a connection between the two with plenty of trouble and mystery along the way.

Not necessarily a great film, it does work on a B-movie level showing off what was then futuristic architecture (post-modernism had not arrived yet) and then amazing technology that usually now looks dated, though still very interesting, down to an oversized set of computers. I have to say it is creepy in ways it may not have intended at the time and is a time capsule of such filmmaking at the time when there was still a healthy output of B-movies that tries to do something different and sometimes produced surprise hit films. Today, everything is over-anaylized ands the films usually predictably bad. That is why it is worth a look, interesting in at least trying to build mystery and suspense.

You even get an extended shot of a rare Lotus sports car looking for the lead, shot a bit like the opening of the classic Patrick McGoohan series The Prisoner. Nice try!

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is a little rough as the film looks aged in parts and we get the occasional bit of stock footage or optical printing that adds grain to the image, but this looks as good as it can and has some atmosphere to it. The PCM 2.0 Mono sound can also be rough, but it is surprisingly consistent in sounding as good as it can for its age, so cheers to whomever remastered the available sound sources.

Extras include four featurettes: Sign Of The Times (on camera interview with the director), Monica and The Astrologer (actress Monica Tidwell on camera interview), Tales from the Set (with Brendan Faulkner & Frank M. Farel, veteran crewmen) and Zodiacal Locations, showing what the locations where the film shot look like now, minus the atmosphere and creepier color.

Next, from acclaimed filmmaker Richard Stanley (The Otherworld) comes a new re-imagining of H.P. Lovecraft's classic story, The Color Out Of Space (2019). Starring Nicolas Cage in the lead role, the film is faithful to the original story and is a welcome return for Director Richard Stanley with this being the first of a planned trilogy based around the works of Lovecraft.

The film also stars Joely Richardson, Q'orianka Kilcher, Tommy Chong, and Madeleine Arthur.

Nathan Gardner (Cage) has a normal loving family but they are soon changed when a meteorite lands on their property. Spawning a mutant alien organism that bends their minds and the reality around them, the Gardner's become infected by this malicious alien force.

Hot off the success of his previous film, Mandy, Nicolas Cage is doing a great job of being the leading man for more independent and experimental titles. Color Out Of Space is quite atmospheric and definitely captures the feel of the original story effectively. Fans of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) will also find one of the film's special effects pieces a subtle nod.

Color Out Of Space is presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image 4K UHD disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a great sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. This film is quite colorful and uniquely photographed and it comes across very well on 4K UHD disc as opposed to the also included 1080p high definition Blu-ray disc, though it has NO kind of HDR in it, despite being a 4K shoot. Still, there are some nice shots, here, like the close-up shots of nature seen towards the beginning and later details on effects. This is certainly a very nice looking disc.

Special Features include:


Deleted Scenes

and a Photo Gallery

This a genre film that you should definitely add to your watch list.

Bob Yari's Mind Games (1989/aka Mindgames) is part of a cycle of 'unwanted guest' thrillers that especially took off after Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction (1987) became a huge surprise hit no one expected it to be. Here, a married couple (Edward Albert and Shawn Weatherly) are on a trip in their camper with their son (Matt Norero) to have a good vacation. Unfortunately, despite telling him to stay close, he walks into the park and finds a young man (Matthew Caulfield) playing a flute and they start talking.

His parents are unhappy when they find him, but meet the flutist and start talking with him. Trusting him, they bring him along (!!!???!!!) for part of the trip, but this turns out to be a mistake, as he is a sociopath slowly working on each person to get too close to them.

This film probably could not be made the same way today. One scene with the child might not happen at all now and as the cover art suggests, the child is in jeopardy, but so are the adults, as no one seems very wise throughout. Still, the movie rolls on despite this and Caulfield is able to play his reliable sane-looking-at-first crazy guy, but so much bad news about torture and murder, especially in the age of 24-hour news and the Internet exists today, so this film is a time capsule of a time already long gone.

That is why this too is worth a look and a rare film directed by the longtime producer, plus Caulfield's near cult status from Grease 2, et al, makes it a curio, so you might want to see what they did here. Its better than many such films I have seen in recent years. The cast is interesting too.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer has some minor flaws and softness issues here and there more than a few times, but looks good otherwise, though a few other shots were a bit faint. The PCM 2.0 Stereo sound is encoded with Pro Logic-like surrounds, as the film was originally issued in the cheaper competitor to old Dolby A-type analog noise reduction for 35mm film releases at the time: Ultra Stereo. Though Dolby A had its problems and was already made obsolete by Dolby's new SR (Spectral Recording) analog noise-reduction format, many films still used it and those who could not afford it or wanted to save money and have more than just simple stereo or mono sound on their film licensed Ultra Stereo. The result is a little more harmonic distortion than even Dolby A-type, but this still sounds decent for tis age. Note in one scene in the film, when they are watching a classic Humphrey Bogart film at (what looks like a single-scene) movie theater, the Ultra Stereo logo is all over the place.

Extras (adding to the press release) include a brand new feature length documentary "The Making of Mind Games" (HD, 108 mins) featuring interviews with stars Maxwell Caulfield, Matt Norero and Shawn Weatherly, producer Mary Apick and director Bob Yari, then "Bob Yari: Portrait of a Producer" (HD, 33 mins) is a surprisingly honest retrospective featurette on the career of the producer (who talks extensively and is always interesting) of the Academy Award Best Picture Winning Crash, The Illusionist, Find Me Guilty and many other great films. Also included is the film's original trailer, reversible artwork sleeve, mini-poster and a limited slipcover.

Next up is Jess Franco's Night Of Open Sex (1983), which might be the worst film he ever made and part of a small group of films he made cheap in Spain that hardly got distribution for unknown reasons, though this one is so bad, I can see why. Its faint plot has something to do with stealing something valuable from someone, but its too busy with degrading and degraded sex and other degraded human encounters to really establish anything else, and a low budget is no excuse.

In all cases, the sex here is either by very dirty people, people who like to be unhealthy/dirty, people who are outright stupid and any portrayal of sex is very negative from voyeurism to several scenes (involving the same male and female characters) getting involved sexually with a third woman, only to cut her, degrade her, torture her and kill her! This is why it is now part of a review featuring erotic titles (which we rarely do) because it is not erotic in any true way despite being sold as such.

Lina Romay, Robert Foster (aka Antonio Mayans), Lorna Green and Albino Graziani are among the unknowns who make the cast, but wow, is this awful and pointless.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is the default highlight, shot in the 2-perf Techniscope 35mm format on Eastman Color film stocks, these films were no longer being processed in three-strip, dye transfer Technicolor, so the tag 'Chromoscope' was dropped at this point for non-Technicolor films in Techniscope, which Technicolor in Italy invented in the mid-1960s. The PCM 2.0 Spanish Mono shows its age much more and has much dubbing, not sounding well and even rough, magnifying the film's cheap feel. Extras include three featurettes: In The Land Of Franco Part 2, When Donald Met Jess and Lina Part 2 (part one of both are on Severin's Cries Of Pleasure Blu-ray we will cover soon) and The Night Of Open Jess. They are more tolerable than the actual film. Don't say you were not warned.

Finally, we have Luigi Cozzi's supernatural thriller The Paganini Horror (1988) with an all girl rock band from the 1980s, looking for a new image and sound decides to make a music video using an unpublished song by Niccolo Paganini. However legend has it that Paganini sold his soul to the devil for fame and fortune, but little do girls and film crew know how true it is until it is too late and they trapped with the ghost of Paganini ...killing them one by one.

An all girl rock band and their manager seeking to find their next record hit decides to try making the next 'Thriller' music video by filming in a broken down/haunted mansion with a 'haunted' song. After playing the song, they discover the legends are true and they resurrected the ghost of Paganini, who trapped them in a mansion with an unseen force, but what they though was a joke and ghost story soon they realize they are in a horror story and they must either find a way to escape ...or die.

The film stars Daria Nicolodi, Jasmine Maimone, Pascal Perciano and a turn by the late, great Donald Pleasence.

This film, here in a 1080p 1.66 X 1 presentation, looked like it was a VHS transfer to Blu-ray, this was a horror story from the 1980s featuring '80s glam rock with's 80's special effects and costuming. What passed for 'horror' in the '80s now would be considered comedy. The sound fares better in PCM 2.0 Stereo, but can still show its age.

Extras include Play it Again Paganini - Interview with the Director, The Devil's Music - Interview with Actor Pietro Genuardi, deleted scenes and alternate ending, a CD soundtrack and trailer.

- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Paganini) and James Lockhart (4K)



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