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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Demonic Possession > Thriller > Fantasy > Literature > Mystery > Cable TV > Martia > Dream Demon: Director's Cut (1988/Arrow*)/His Dark Materials: The Complete First Season (2020**)/The Outsider: The Complete First Season (2020/**both HBO/Warner Blu-ray)/Leg Fighters (1980/VCI w/DVD/*

Dream Demon: Director's Cut (1988/Arrow*)/His Dark Materials: The Complete First Season (2020**)/The Outsider: The Complete First Season (2020/**both HBO/Warner Blu-ray)/Leg Fighters (1980/VCI w/DVD/*both MVD Blu-ray)/S.W.A.T.: The Complete Third Season (revival/2019 - 2020/Sony DVDs)/Wild Goose Lake (2019/Film Movement Blu-ray)

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

These next genre releases come from all over...

Jemma Redgrave stars in the thought to be lost film. Dream Demon (1988), which has been resurrected in all its gory glory on Blu-ray thanks to Arrow Video. Not having been seen by human eyes since the VHS era, the unearthed film has an interesting '80s horror element to it and several interesting and surreal moments, but a plot line that can at times be a bit confusing.

Dream Demon: Director's Cut centers around a young couple that's about to get married, however, the bride has horrifying visions of the wedding gone awry, namely at the hands of mischievous demons. As she wakes up from horrible nightmares, she realizes that the demons are real and killing those around her.

The film stars Kathleen Wilhoite, Jimmy Nail, and legendary character actor Timothy Spall (who in later life worked on Harry Potter and many Tim Burton films.)

Dream Demon is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 paired with an English LPCM 2.0 mix, both of which are of high quality for the format. This Arrow exclusive transfer is a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, supervised and approved by director Harley Cokeliss. This is no doubt the best this film has looked at any time.

Special Features:

Brand new scene-select audio commentary with director Harley Cokeliss and producer Paul Webster

Two versions of the film (Theatrical + Director's Cut)

Newly-filmed interview with director Harley Cokeliss

Newly-filmed interview with producer Paul Webster

Newly-filmed interview with actress Jemma Redgrave

Newly-filmed interview with actor Mark Greenstreet

Newly-filmed interview with actor Nickolas Grace

Newly-filmed interview with actress Annabelle Lanyon

Newly-filmed interview with composer Bill Nelson

Foundations of Nightmare: The Making of Dream Demon - contemporary documentary taking a look behind the scenes of the production of Dream Demon, featuring on-set interviews with director Harley Cokeliss, producer Paul Webster, actors Timothy Spall, Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite, composer Bill Nelson and many more

Image Galleries

Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy

FIRST PRESSING ONLY! Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Bilson, author of the Dream Demon novelization, and director Harley Cokeliss

and Reversible poster featuring exclusive newly-commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy

The 2007 big screen adaptation The Golden Compass with Nicole Kidman was a flop but also a sort of test drive for His Dark Materials: The Complete First Season (2020, the new HBO mini-series that is a more serious and faithful companion to the bestselling novel series by acclaimed genre author Philip Pullman.

A cross between some of the fantasy elements of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, the money is on the screen here, and the content is much more family friendly than Thrones of course. This HBO adaptation of the series is definitely a fun series to binge and get sucked into, although it can be a bit slow at times. There's definitely a bright acting future for teen actress Dafne Keen, who captivated genre fans opposite Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in Logan, and plays the lead character here.

In world where humans have spirit animals (known as Daemons), a young woman named Lyra (Dafne Keen) must liberate her world from the Magisterium, a group which threatens to repress this bond that humans have with these creatures. However, the young woman becomes a force of change as she uncovers many sinister plots of corruption thereabouts, while on a search for her missing friend.

The series also stars James McAvoy (Split, X-Men prequels), Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Clarke Peters, and Anne-Marie Duff. The biggest named director of the series is Tom Hooper, whose had a mostly successful career with The King's Speech and The Danish Girl, and a strike out with the abysmal 2019 adaptation of CATS.

8 episodes comprise Season One and span 2 Blu-ray discs and include Lyra's Jordan, The Idea of North, The Spies, Armour, The Lost Boy, The Daemon-Cages, The Fight to the Death, and Betrayal.

His Dark Materials is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, both of which are of a high standard for the format and comparable to the original HD broadcast on HBO. A digital copy is also included. For a show of this magnitude and scope, let's hope that a 2160p 4K UHD version will be available in the near future.

Special Features:

Making His Dark Materials

Dafne Keen: Bringing Lyra Belacqua to Life

Ruth Wilson: Bringing Mrs. Coulter to Life

Lin-Manuel Miranda: Bringing Lee Scoresby to Life

James McAvoy: Bringing Lord Asriel to Life

Adapting His Dark Materials

The Daemons of His Dark Materials

Dressing His Dark Materials

and Building His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials is a well made and interesting series that I'm surprised has yet (as of this writing) grabbed more attention from young audiences. Hopefully, the show will continue and up its ante with even more epic battles. It definitely makes me want to read the books again.

Based on the gripping Stephen King novel, The Outsider: The Complete First Season (2020) is a HBO limited series that's definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of King and/or modern day crime thrillers. Presented here in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc, the haunting series stars Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, Ready Player One) and Jason Bateman in a more serious role than you've seen him in before.

Ralph Anderson (Mendelsohn) is investigating the brutal murder of a young boy in a small town with many suspects. Who could murder such an innocent child? Ralph dives deep into the case and picks apart every piece of the puzzle.

The series also features Cynthia Erivo, Mare Winningham, and Julianne Nicholson to name a few.

The Outsider: Season One has ten one hour episodes which span 3 Blu-ray discs and include Fish in a Barrel, Roanoke, Dark Uncle, Que Viene el Coco, Tear-Drinker, The One About The Yiddish Vampire, In the Pines, In the Pines, Foxhead, Tigers and Bears, and Must / Can't.

The Outsider is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a MPEG-4 AVC and has a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.00:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit) lossless mix. Both of which are of a high standard for the format and a tad better than the original digital streaming through an HBO subscription service. A digital copy is also included. The show is shot beautifully like a high end feature film with gorgeous muted yet natural colors and very stylistic filmmaking.

Special Features include:

El Cuco, The Baby Yaga. The Outsider - All New Featurette

Invitation to Set

Stephen King and The Outsider

Jason Bateman and The Outsider

Adapting The Outsider

Analyzing Holly Gibney

and The Outsider: Inside Episodes 1-10

The Leg Fighters (1980) gets a new HD Blu-ray release courtesy of VCI and is a fun blast to the past for Japanese kung fu/martial arts film lovers. This low budget production has plenty of chop socky action and was likely last seen at drive-in back in the early '80s. Pretty silly to watch by today's standards and full of many cliches that you find in just about every kung-fu movie, The Leg Fighters is a fun watch and this multi-disc release has some interesting extras to boot.

Tan, a Kung Fu Master, trains a bratty princess and her servant, while being tracked down as part of a revenge plot by the brother of a man he killed. The film stars Kuang-Li Hsia, Tao-Liang Tan, Kang Peng, and Tso Nam Lee.

The Leg Fighters is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and two audio mixes - one in English LPCM 2.0 and Mandarin LPCM 2.0 with English subtitles. Also included is an anamorphically enhanced, standard definition on DVD with a similar yet compressed transfer. This is struck from a new 2K restoration of the original 35mm Chinese Print. The film itself looks okay on disc here with not too much detail in the image, no doubt due to the age of the source print. It adds to the overall fun experience of the film, though, and still has film artifacts that make it suitable for its content.

Special Features:

Audio commentary by filmmaker, actor and Kung Fu Film fan Michael Worth

Michael Worth visits with director Lee Tso Nam

Original Theatrical Trailer to Nam's The Hot, The Cool and The Vicious

Discussion with Dan Halsted, curator of Portland's Hollywood Theater Kung Fu Night

Original film memorabilia and behind the scenes photos

and an original illustration was commissioned from popular genre artist, Ian McEwan!

S.W.A.T.: The Complete Third Season (2019 - 2020) is part of a surprising cycle of revivals of older hit TV shows (think Hawaii 5-0, Magnum P.I., MacGyver) that are somehow doing some good ratings despite not being as good as their original counterparts. The odd case here is that this series is not always as well-remembered (save its classic #1 hit instrumental theme song) and first saw a feature film revival that wasted the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell. Now in the thick of things is TV-host-turned-actor Shemar Moore leading the new title team against very bad criminals and dangerous situations in our society,

We get 21 episodes (more than usual for any season anywhere these days) over 5 DVDs and save fans of the show, it is not easy to sit through this revival. The acting is as mixed as the writing and directing, it plays like the glut of almost every other police show on U.S. TV and it features more cliches than bullets and bad one-liners. The original show was considered a revelation for being more realistic (pre-Hill Street Blues) and part of showing a new generation of younger actors in the world (like The Rookies and Mod Squad) while thi9s new show offers nothing we have not seen before. There is some money in it, to the producer's credit, but I was more bored than expected and a little goes a long way here.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundmix are also nothing special, generic, professional at best and not very memorable. The feature film was the same, yet the original show actually had a better look. Extras include a Blooper Reel and Deleted Scenes.

Finally, when gangster Zhou Zenong (Ge Hu) accidentally kills a cop during a mob turf war, he suddenly finds himself on the lam from both the law and the mob. He goes on the run he hides out at Wild Goose Lake, a small rural town with no law or law enforcement, but with a bounty on his head every cop, crook and citizen is looking to collect. Zhou only chance is a mysterious woman say she wants to help him ...but who side is she really on?

In Yi'nan Diao's The Wild Goose Lake (2019), things start heating up for Zhou Zenong when he accidentally kills a cop in the middle of a turf war. Now, there is bounty on him that is too good to pass up and he is on the run from the law and the mob. He hides out at Wild Goose Lake and tries to get his estranged ex-wife to meet him there, but instead he meets Liu Aiai (Gwei Lun-Mei), a beach beauty (prostitute) who tells him she can't make it.

After realizing he can't get away, Zhou tells Liu-Aiai to turn him in collect the reward and give it to his former wife. But then Zhou and Liu-Aiai discovers they both been set up by a rival family and they don't have plans for either of them to live and they were going to kill them both and collect the bounty. Zhou fights back and gets revenge on those who set him up and kills all of them, but in the process, he is mortally wounded and eventually the cops catch him and kill him. Liu Aiai was a prostitute for the mob, but she betrays them when she discovers they had double crossed her. Liu Aiai tries to remain neutral between the cops and the mob but she...

We won't spoil the rest.

This film was filled drama and back stabbing violence, there are no 'good' guys, the cops in the film were just as corrupt as the mobsters. The story takes place as the 2 protagonists tell their stories of how each of them got involved. But as things go from bad to worst, they have no choice but to trust one another if either of them is going to have a chance to live.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is a little softer and less defined than expected (was this really originally 1.90 X 1 as one source lists?) and color is not consistent, while the Mandarin DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is dialogue-based and does not have the most consistent soundfield.

Extras include behind the scenes, interviews, bonus short film and trailers.

- Nicholas Sheffo (S.W.A.T.), Ricky Chiang (Lake) and James Lockhart



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