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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Demonic Possession > Mystery > British TV > Monsters > Sex > Exploitation > German > A Discovery Of Witches: Series One (2018/Acorn DVD)/Horrors Of Spider Island (1960*)/Satan's Slave (1980*)/Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh (1971/*all Severin Blu-rays)/The Wind (1986**)/The Woman (2011) +

A Discovery Of Witches: Series One (2018/Acorn DVD)/Horrors Of Spider Island (1960*)/Satan's Slave (1980*)/Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh (1971/*all Severin Blu-rays)/The Wind (1986**)/The Woman (2011) + The Offspring (2009/**all MVD/Arrow Blu-rays)

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

And now for a new batch of all kinds of horror, old and new...

Diana Bishop born of witches decides to become a historian rather than follow her witch heritage. But when she suddenly discovers the long lost first grimoire of the witches the Book of Life, she suddenly finds herself unwittingly pulled into the world of the creatures of the night, vampires, witches and demons who all want the book at any cost. Diana finds herself aligning with vampire geneticist Matthew, the only one who is willing to protect her than take the book from her. The book may contain the secrets to their origins, but will it destroy them ...or save them?

Long ago in A Discovery Of Witches: Series One (2018), there were creatures vampires, witches, demons and magic but through the ages they slowly disappeared, now they hide among humanity growing fewer by the years. That is until Diana discovered the book that created the creatures of the night. Matthew a vampire geneticist warns her of the danger she discovered and soon all magical creatures will be coming after her because over the centuries vampires, witches and demons have begun growing less and less powerful and fewer are born each year and the book maybe key to saving their races. However, there is an uneasy truce between the races and each one of the elders wants it for themselves.

At first, Diana and Matthew clashed as natural enemies, but in time they began fall in love with each other. Unknown to Diana, she and Matthew is breaking the oldest covenant between the tribes, no interbreeding between the species. As Diana's powers begin to grow she learns of the conspiracy between the elders and secret of her own origins. Diana and Matthew discover her awaken powers are far stronger than any they have seen in centuries and there are those who want to control Diana, her powers and the book. Diana, Matthew and a small group of younger generations of vampires, witches and demons believe they can co-exist and begin to fight back against the counsel of elders, but in order to do so Diana must learn to control her power before the elders find her.

This is supernatural story on vampires, witches and demons with a modern twist on legends of the supernatural. It is beautifully shot with scene around Europe and rich story telling with twists and turns and a even a bit of romance. Extras include featurettes about the characters, mythology, TV magic and trailers.

Fritz Bottger's The Horrors Of Spider Island (1960 aka Body On The Web, which now sounds like a thriller about terrorism and murder on the internet or something dumb and sexual) is one of those B-movies that has some surprises you are not expecting, even when you think it will be cheap and silly all the way. The only thing you do not expect is if there will be real spiders or fake ones of exaggerated sizes (we get the latter here and badly so), though we also get plenty of sexual (and pseudo-sexy) sequences as Alexander D'Arcy leads a mostly Germanic/European cast of mostly unknowns.

I will not try to ruin how the spiders get to where they are and/or how they start to build a human body count, but the script does not end there as one of the characters gets 'infected' in a certain way and more madness ensues. Sad and embarrassing that this film knows its way around a genre better than most of the monster horror films we've seen in the last 5 to 10 years, but that is the case and I am glad to see the full cut for the first time ever (this had been on U.S. TV in its dubbed & butchered version, as well as spoofed by Mystery Science Theater, rightly. That makes it the most interesting older horror title to arrive on Blu-ray in the last few months and is one every serious movie fan should see. You'll get a kick out of this one.

Extras include the alternate U.S. Release Version - IT'S HOT IN PARADISE, The History of Spider-Island with Prof. Dr. Marcus Stiglegger, Audio Interview with Actor Alexander D'Arcy by Horror Historian David Del Valle form his archive, Alternate Clothed Scenes and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Sisword Gautama Putra's Satan's Slave (1980) might have a title that sounds like a really bad, very cheap exploitation film, but it turns out to be more interesting than that and the only film I can recall where Satanism invades the seemingly undisturbed holy territory of Islam, which bookends the film in its purest form in what are the best-lit shots in the film. Made in Indonesia by a company not know for the Horror genre but for exploitation films, Rapi Films had a big hit on their hands as the story unfolds, a young teen boy is slowly taken over and (SPOILER) some satanic killer zombies also show up.

I probably missed some subtle cultural references that would have freaked out more religious people or persons more use to societal norms in Indonesia and surrounding countries (not even to get into strict Islam teachings), but even without that, it is a unique entry into the parts of the horror genre it tackles and has interesting timing versus what other countries (Italy, The U.S., the U.K.) were turning out at the time. Even if some of it might seem a little familiar, other moments are interesting as is the use of color at times, so fans of the genre should definitely give this one a look.

Extras include Satan's Box Office - Interview with Producer Gope T. Samtani, Indonesian Atmosphere - Interview with Screenwriter Imam Tantowi, Satan's Slave Obsession - Audio Interview with Remake Director Joko Anwar whose two short films from 2016 (Jenny and Don't Blink) are also included here. He remade the film recently.

Another lesser-seen giallo from Italy, Sergio Martino's The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh (1971) has pretty ladies being targeted by a deadly killer with a love of knives this time, but when the target is Edwige Fenech as the wife of a diplomat (with a few secrets of her own), it seems something more may be going on than just the usual crazy serial killer on the loose. Why her? Why now? The film becomes more of a mystery than usual and tries for something different than the usual 'who is the killer' bit, but that comes with mixed results and a few unintended laughs.

George Hilton, Cristina Airoldi and Manuel Gill lead the rest of the convincing cast in an entry into this kind of film that is at least different, of not the best or most successful. The music has its moments, as does the use of the scope framing, but it is also one of the earlier entries and seeing it gives one insight into where this ever-popular cycle was going and trying to go. I had not seen it in ages and it plays much better now than then, even with some issues. Fans will want to see this one, now restored from a new 4K scan of the original 35mm materials.

Extras include a CD soundtrack but NOTE that it is only in the first 3,000 copies being issued of this film, while all copies will also include Of Vice and Virtue - Interview with Director Sergio Martino, Cold As Ice - Interview with Screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, Vienna Vice - Interview with Actor George Hilton and Italian Genre Historian Antonio Bruschini, Archive Interview with Actress Edwige Fenech, Introduction By Actor George Hilton, a feature length audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of the great book All The Colors Of Sergio Martino and and Original Theatrical Trailer.

Meg Foster (John Carpenter's They Live) stars in Nico Mastorakis' The Wind (1986), which is a cat and mouse murder mystery that centers around Foster's character whose a mystery author that leaves her life behind for a getaway in the Greek town of Monemvasia to a quaint small house. The owner of the house (Robert Morley) warns her of harsh winds at night outside the scenic location and that his handyman (Wings Hauser) has a few screws loose. Well, it doesn't take long until the handyman starts stalking and threatening her life in an attempt to gain a role in her latest murder mystery. In short, her fictional writing has come to life in a way she never wanted!

The film also stars David McCallum (NCIS, Sapphire & Steel, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Steve Railsback, and Mihalis Giannatos to name a few.

Special Features:

Blowing The Wind - Brand new interview with Director Nico Mastorakis

The Sound of The Wind - The complete soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer and Stanley Myers

A collection of trailers for the films of Nico Mastorakis

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Kat Ellinger.

The Wind isn't too bad for a one time watch, but didn't blow me away personally.

And finally, a mixed double feature. The Woman (2011) is mean spirited horror film from the director of May (2002), Lucky McKee. While some horror fans enjoy it, I personally found The Woman shock value for shock value's sake with twists and turns I saw coming from a mile away and characters that are nearly impossible to feel anything towards other than disgust. Apparently, the folks at Arrow think highly of it as they have gone out of their way to pull out all the stops for this new release, which also features a similar cannibal vs ordinary family film The Offspring (2009).

A feral cannibal woman (Pollyanna McIntosh of The Walking Dead) lives in the woods and is abducted by a twisted Lawyer (Sean Bridgers) who imprisons her. With the intention of 'civilizing' the woman, this puts stress on his otherwise wholesome American family, who are all forever changed by the vicious actions of their father. It doesn't take long until the feral woman predictably strikes back and goes against the oppression of the woman beating rapist/lawyer/family man.

The film also stars Carlee Baker, Lauren Ashley Carter, Angela Bettis, Zach Rand, and Shyla Molhusen.

Also included is the 2009 film Offspring, directed by Andrew van den Houten, which centers around a clan of cannibals that go after an innocent family.

Woman Extras:

New commentary with director Lucky McKee, editor Zach Passero, sound designer Andrew Smetek and composer Sean Spillane

New commentary by star Pollyanna McIntosh

New commentary by critic Scott Weinberg

Archive commentary with director Lucky McKee

Dad on the Wall, a brand new 75-minute fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes documentary filmed by the director's father Mike McKee

Being Peggy Cleek, a newly filmed interview with star Lauren Ashley Carter

Malam Domesticam, an archive making-of featurette

Meet The Makers, a short featurette on the making of the film

Deleted Scenes

Mi Burro, a short film by editor Zach Passero

'Distracted' music video by Sean Spillane

Frightfest Total Film Panel Discussion, a 2011 onstage chat about the future of American indie horror at the popular horror film festival, featuring Lucky McKee, Andrew van den Houten, Larry Fessenden, Adam Green, Joe Lynch and Ti West

Theatrical trailers

and Image galleries

The Offspring Extras:

New commentary by director/producer Andrew van den Houten

Archive commentary with writer Jack Ketchum, director/producer Andrew van den Houten and producer/cinematographer William M. Miller

New interview with Pollyanna McIntosh and Andrew van den Houten

Fly on the Wall, a brand new fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes documentary

Extended interview with Jack Ketchum

Restoration comparison

Progeny: The Birth of Offspring, an archive behind-the-scenes featurette including interviews with cast and crew

First Stolen's Bailout, an archive behind-the-scenes featurette

Webisodes, short featurettes used to promote the film online

Archive Easter Eggs

Theatrical trailer

and an Image Gallery.

Now for playback performance. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix on the episodes of Witches are as good as they can get for the format, but this is of the typical high quality Acorn always tends to deliver, so no surprise here.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Spider can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and is one that boasts about how it was shot. Not only do you get to see the older-style Arriflex logo, as the film rightly brags it used the company's ever-great equipment, but there is a rare use of Perutz black and white film. A serious competitor in the consumer film market worldwide at the time, the German-based company was successful for decades, but was eventually bought by Agfa-Gevaert in 1964, a few years after this film was made and the same year those companies merged. No dummies, they continued to use the Perutz name for decades and you may have even used some of the film and not known it as it was found in many single-use 35mm cameras.

The way this helps Spider is that you get a very unique, creepy monochrome look in this film, especially making the night scenes like nothing you will ever see elsewhere and even with how cheap some of the effects obviously are, it still makes other moments unexpectedly more effective and creepier than expected. Combine that with Arriflex equipment and some decent lenses used here and you can see why this would have some great impact in HD. Fans will be surprised and impressed. I hope we see more of this down the line.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition images on both Slave and Vice are here in their complete scope frames in good color, but despite no credits identifying the format, both look like they were shot in Techniscope (later known as Chromoscope when three-strip Technicolor was not used to produce the film prints) or maybe early Super 35. Though the color in both cases are not the usual formats we are used to seeing, so it must be the labs and film stocks used (maybe Fuji, Ferrania or Agfa versus Kodak), Vice has its color credited as Technichrome. That is a name Technicolor used on consumer Super 8 projectable movie film made for them by Agfa, but the inconsistency and sometimes weak color we get in some shots make it hard to tell. However, in all three cases, this is as good as the films are likely to look as Severin goes out of their way to make sure each of their releases is top notch.

All three also offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes in their native languages and lesser English dubs (save Slave, which is not here in any dub), but I preferred the original foreign language tracks because they were more naturalistic, realistic and clearer. In the case of Spider, it has aged better than the hilariously 'hip' 1950s English dubbing that is a distraction, especially when you laugh so much, you cannot hear them at all.

The Wind is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a nice sounding audio mixes in original DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless surround and LPCM Stereo 2.0 lossless audio. The film transfer comes from a new 4K scan of the film's original camera negative, which has been approved by the director Mastorakis and by Arrow Films, and comes across quite nicely on the disc here. I haven't seen this film on lesser formats, but can assure you that it is up to Arrow's high standards.

Lastly, The Woman and The Offspring too at least look and sound fine on Blu-ray disc though with a scan from the new 4K restoration that is approved by the filmmakers. The film is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and features great sounding audio tracks in English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes. This is an improvement over the previous release of the film on Blu-ray from The Collective in 2012, which didn't have a scan that looked this nice.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Synapse), Ricky Chiang and James Lockhart (Arrow)



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