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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Mystery > Filmmaking > Satire > Literature > Superhero > TV > Slasher > British > Sci-Fi > T > Scare Package (2019/RLJ Blu-ray)

Black Cat (1990*)/Black Lightning: The Complete Second (2018 - 2019)+ Third Seasons (2019 - 2020/DC Comics/Warner Archive DVDs)/The Owners (2020**)/Patrick Still Lives (1980/*both Severin Blu-rays)/Scare Package (2019/**both RLJ Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Black Lightning DVD sets are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Just in time for Halloween, new releases that take place darkness and mystery...

Luigi Cozzi's The Black Cat (1990) says it is based on the Edgar Allen Poe classic, but this satire of the filmmaking business is a bit far from that classic book, yet it has some fun moments, even if it is not a great film. Brett Halsey, Florence Guerin, Maurizio Fardo, Luisa Maneri, Antonio Marsina, Karina Huff and Urbano Barberini make for a decent cast, but what makes this worthy and ambitious in the face of past versions is to have the great Caroline Munro as the protagonist who will do what she needs to do to get what she wants.

She is as dynamic as anyone here and even as this takes some odd turns that do not always work, plus it wants to be the original Suspiria in some of its look, it works a bit more often than not. I hoped it would pick up, but it has 89 minutes and does not always spend them as well as it could. Still, I was glad I saw it and it was at least trying to do something different. Some moments are just false notes or it tries too hard.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and featurette Cat On The Brain featuring interviews with director Cozzi and lead actress Munro. For adaptations that did a bit better by Poe, try these links:

1934 Karloff/Lugosi version on import DVD


1981 Lucio Fulci version on Blu-ray


Black Lightning: The Complete Second (2018 - 2019) and Third Season (2019 - 2020) arrive on DVD at the same time, continuing the new exploits of the DC Comics superhero that was relaunched with the debut season we covered on Blu-ray at this link:


You can find out more about the show there, then this is one of those shows that to explain much would spoil it, so you have to start at the beginning, but I was not as impressed as some fans and even disappointed at what they came up with. I thought the show might take off after being enough of a ratings success that they would take risks (even if it was not the TV revival of Watchmen) but despite an occasionally nice touch, it is awful, loaded with missed opportunities and just gets worse and worse as you watch.

I even hoped for the sophomore jinx, but the Third Season was as bad, just droning on. It might as well be the lame TV S.W.A.T. revival with superhero costumes. I hope it gives the cast of mostly unknowns to a chance at better, more memorable work, as lightning ought to strike twice and better for them next time. As this show stands, it is more like a fading light bulb.

Each set only has one featurette, Whale Of A Villain for the second season, a 2019 San Diego Comic Con panel for the third.

Despite what the cover might suggest, Julius Berg's The Owners (2020) is a British release that has many missed opportunities and is not another Buffy or the like, but part of a cycle of younger people being predators, only to find older people are much better at it. This time, they are played by one-time Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy and longtime character actress Rita Tushingham, who have some good chemistry here.

Unfortunately, most of this is predictable, sometimes silly in the wrong way and the other actors get outacted by the older duo. Its no Motel Hell, et al, but it was a little less obnoxious by default by simply not being from the U.S. and again, has a few good moments Too bad you have to sit through a long 92 minutes to get to any of them. For completists only.

A Making Of featurette is the only extra.

Mario Landi's Patrick Still Lives (1980) is an unofficial sequel/take-off to the popular 1978 Australian thriller Patrick (the title character is in a coma in bed, but may be using telekinesis to kill those he hates) that I was not as big a fan of, but one of my fellow writers is with the crows who loves it and you can read more about that film at this link:


Made only two years later, this Patrick (Gianni Dei, looking like a distant Italian cousin of Parker Stevenson) has a father in the medical profession and is assaulted in a way in the opening sequence that is so bad, he lands up in a coma. Turns out in this case, his father is up to no good and conducting all kinds of unethical experiments and other people are being held against there will too.

This time, we get far more sex and female nudity, then the murders are more gruesome and involves an unusual amount of sexual violence, though why Patrick would hate most of the women here so much (they are not all that bad) begins some of the lapses in logic that stop this film from toping the original. Yes, it is still better than the awful, recent remake of the 1978 film, but so is most of the better sci-fi/horror (what little of it there is) that we have seen lately.

I love the use of lighting and it was all shot on 16mm film (see more in the tech section below) giving it an added creepiness it might not have otherwise. Definitely worth a look despite its flaws and limits, it is ambitious and its supporting cast, including Sacha Pitoeff, Carmen Russo, Mariangela Giordano, Paolo Giusti, Franco Silva, John Benedy and Anna Venezziano all give good performances that meld well together and make this interesting enough at least to see it once.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and featurette C'est la Vie, an interview with lead actor Gianni Dei.

Finally, we have Scare Package (2019) is another release tied into the Shudder TV network and the cover wants to suggest a retro idea of it containing B-movies similar to what you might see on cable TV in the 1980s, down to a dead hand grabbing for a VHS tape. Without ruining much, one story takes place at a video store just barely hanging in there.

Both stories are not that good or memorable, but the real twist is that the makers got legendary B-movie critic Joe Bob Briggs to host it all as he has been on hundreds of films throughout his entire career. That makes it not just nostalgic for some, but much more amusing than it could ever be otherwise. Briggs saves this release to some extent, treating it like all the film he covered from the then-Turner Catalog (MGM film to 1986, Warner films to 1948, all RKO films and anything else he could get his hands on, now all owned by Warner) and that is singularly the only reason to see this otherwise very forgettable release. Creepshow it is not, but see it for kicks if you are really, really interested. Otherwise, skip it.

Extras include Creators Commentary on the Film, Commenting on Other Films That Have Better Commentary Tracks, Bonus Segment: Locker Room Z, Rad Chad's Rad Ad, The SCARE PACKAGE Blooper Reel, Original Not-as-Good Ending and Blu-ray-only The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: SCARE PACKAGE episode.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Cat is well shot and has been well preserved, here in a new 2K scan from the best, original vault elements and it looks very impressive, especially for its age. Color and detail are nice, though grain and lighting have been used for styling the look of the film. Despite any dubbing, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix sounds very good for its age and the combination works nicely.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Owners is an HD shoot that has some motion blur and some shots that are just not that good, but the makers try for some visual consistency. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix sounds like multi-channel sound was an afterthought and is not that soundfield-consistent, but you can mostly hear the dialogue.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Patrick can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to any video copy that might have existed before, shot on 16mm Fuji color negative film. It is a new 2K scan of that negative and looks accurate for the kind of film it is as a genre work, a rare film shot on Fuji stock and with fine color, especially in some scenes.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Scare Package is a mix of HD formats and the narrative programs here are just not that good-looking, so the Joe Bob Briggs segments tend to look the most stable and consistent. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix varies in quality going from segment to segment, again with the narratives not quite sounding like they thought multi-channel sound through properly. Oh well...

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on both Lightning episodes sets are not bad for the format, but no match for the debut season Blu-ray set that resolved and color range and Video Black much better. The same for the sound, here in the older, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 format and no match for how good the show sounded in lossless DTS-MA on the Blu-ray release, but the makers have not given up on good sound mixing. This version just cannot handle it all.

To order either of the Warner Archive Black Lightning DVD sets, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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