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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Vampire > Monster > Erotic > Supernatural > French > Comedy > Fantasy > Adventure > War > TV > Murder > T > Daughters Of Darkness 4K (1971/MVD/Blue Underground 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray & CD)/Jack and the Beanstalk (1952/Abbott & Costello/MVD/VCI Blu-ray)/Outlander: Season Five (2020/Sony Blu-ray Set)/S

Daughters Of Darkness 4K (1971/MVD/Blue Underground 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray & CD)/Jack and the Beanstalk (1952/Abbott & Costello/MVD/VCI Blu-ray)/Outlander: Season Five (2020/Sony Blu-ray Set)/Shock Treatment (1972/Severin Blu-ray)/V For Vendetta 4K (2005/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/C+/B+/B/B Sound: B-/C+/B+/B-/A- Extras: B/C+/A*/C+/B Main Programs: B/C+/B+/C+/B+

Next up are upgrades to four genre and sometimes cult favorites, plus the latest installment of one of the best ancient wars TV shows...

We start with an underrated horror vampire film, Harry Kumel's Daughters Of Darkness 4K (1971) in an amazing upgrade I will get to in a minute. Another gem from Blue Underground, we reviewed the film on Blu-ray years ago at this link...


Now in 4K, it is one of those films that is a revelation in the format all around, the color red being so important to the genre and the monsters here. How we have a great couple, seemingly very happy together and connected, only to be slowly 'invaded' by female vampires. It is one of the more mature such films and the way it handles sexuality and its female discourse make it a great companion to The Velvet Vampire (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and even Paul Morrissey's Blood For Dracula (overdue for restoration) to some extent, reminding us that only few such films have ever been made and new, recent political movements have not changed that.

Thus, the world has still not caught up with Daughters Of Darkness and now is as great a time as any to see it again.

Extras repeat all from the original Blu-ray release, then adda more trailers, posters, stills and Alternate U.S. Main Titles, plus the bonus CD, which sounds good here and is in stereo and a new booklet adds a new essay by Michael Gingold.

Finally on Blu-ray, Jean Yarbrough's Jack and the Beanstalk (1952) is the Bud Abbott/Lou Costello version we covered on DVD years ago and here is what I had to say about it...

''Along with their Captain Kidd film at Warner Bros. (reviewed elsewhere on this site as an online exclusive from Warner Archive), Abbott & Costello in Jack & The Beanstalk was the famous comedy duo's attempt to continue their run of hits in theaters and though it was not a big hit, it was a worthy entry in their big screen hijinks. Starting out in sepia tone, the film becomes full color and was in the rarely used SuperCineColor process Warner and the duo thought might give them an edge and was also used on the their Captain Kidd film.

Though this is dubbed a restoration, it has issues, but until Warner issues a better copy, this is as good as we are going to have. The film is fun, if not great, but at least it is ambitious and viewer-friendly so it is worth seeing.''

A fan of the duo, I appreciate what they were trying to do here, even if it did not always work. Especially after some lame versions since that old DVD was issued, this looks more ambitious than ever and was the first time they made a full color film, even if it is bookended by sepia tone sequences at the beginning and end (like the 1939 Wizard Of Oz, now in 4K elsewhere on this site) and it deserves a larger audience.

This is a new 4K scan of 35mm film materials, but they are not always in great shape, yet this is the best this has looked in years. More on the playback performance below. Money is on the screen for this type of film and the duo deserved moire color projects. Fans will be happy enough with the upgrade for now and extras include a trailer for this, Captain Kidd and a bonus film, Africa Screams (1949) in a rougher copy, but its good enough and a nice addition, regardless of its age or the mixed results of the film.

Claire and Jamie continue to fight in the New World for their homes, friends, family and love. However, with the revolution on the way, they continue fight on both fronts. Jaimie is forced to gather a militia for the war effort and to lead his men. Claire wants to bring modern medical science to save lives on the ridge. However even as the new world begins, things are no so easy as the world continues make them face challenges with enemies old and new in Outlander: Season Five (2020).

Claire and her daughter are time travelers of the past and they both have fallen for men of the past and now living together in the past in order to create a future. However, with the secret of the future and technologies they continue to risk change the future for the sake of their loved ones. Jamie pretends to be a British sympathizer knowing the coming American Revolution will provide true freedom for his clan/people and those who live on the Ridge. Claire tired of medieval medicine decides to bring modern medicine into the past to save lives. Both of them become important leaders to not only their people, but also the people of the time, but it also makes them targets ...in which they have no idea of how much their actions have consequences.

This is a beautiful series with characters, location, costumes and story to cover a dark story, a tale of a foolish time traveling mother and daughter who prefers to living the past instead of the future, their willingness to sacrifice everything to be with a man from the past and how they are able to live with the consequences (including both of them being raped) with the choices they make. Extras include Deleted Scenes, Heart of the Frasers, expanding the world: sets & costumes, commentaries, bloopers, Strength in Action: Women of Outlander, Through Fire & Hell: The Finale, and "Flowers of the Forrest" video. *Also, a Special Edition has been issued with a CD added, so more serious fans and/or soundtrack buffs will want to get that one.

Episodes this time include...

The Firey Cross - Roger and Brianna get married. Jamie is asked to serve in the British Army and to form a militia.

Between Two Fires - Jamie is forced to hunt his Godfather. Claire decides to introduce modern medicine to the Ridge.

Free Will - Jamie and Claire discovers one of their people is a former slave and attempts to buy his freedom, but there are complications when they discover their former 'master' is dying and being tortured slowly to death.

The Company We Keep - Jamie militia runs into a town of hill billies with a blood feud with another one of his men.

Perpetual Adoration - Jamie is forced to kill a man who trusted him after he learns the truth about his past. Claire remembers why she decided to come back in time again to be with Jamie.

Better to Marry Than to Burn - Jamie learns the true goal of Governor Tryon was to trick and lure the Regulators out. Claire learns information about their old enemy at a dreadful cost.

The Ballade of Roger Mac - Jamie is forced to fight the Regulators. Murtagh save Jamie's life but Jamie is unable to save his, afterwards Jamie decides he is done with the British.

Famous Last Words - Roger is traumatized by the last battle and Claire tries to help him overcome his PTSD.

Monsters and Heroes - Jamie is bitten by a venomous snake and Claire tries to save his life. Jamie asks Roger to do something if he dies.

Mercy Shall Follow Me - Jamie plan goes awry in trying to protect his family. Brianna is force to fight for her life and her son's.

Journeycake - The truth is revealed about Roger's and Brianna's son and they decide if they want to return to the future.

and Never My Love - Claire is kidnapped and raped by the hill billies and Jamie rescues her, but now, there is the blood feud between the Brown's and the Frasers.

Alain Jessua's Shock Treatment (1972) is a creepy thriller from the underrated filmmaker, but it does not start this way. As a matter of fact, it starts out more like a comedy/drama and even melodrama as an older woman (Annie Giradot) is a little burned out by life and some of its unsatisfying sides, so she goes to a health farm to feel better, take care of herself and maybe come up with some ideas of where to go next. We've seen such turns in action films (Thunderball and its remake, Never Say Never Again) and the launch of a mystery TV hit (the Hart To Hart pilot telefilm) and other thrillers that even involve plastic surgery.

This could have been a character study of what it means to be a woman in business, in life and in the face of sexism and does play like that for a while, until her closest new friend at the clinic turns up mysteriously dead. Then she starts investigating and it instantly turns into a thriller. Then she meets the doctor at the clinic (Alain Delon, by this time a huge international movie star and even sex symbol; the press, posters and trailer tease his nude appearance in the film to be titillating, but it hides other things) getting very involved, but then things get wilder.

The result is that the film, which works more often than not, is actually part of a cycle of films (like the original Last House On The Left, original Wicker Man, original Stepford Wives, Logan's Run, Clonus and others) that want to show the downside and dark side of any counterculture, civil rights, new age and/or civil rights movements hitting a wall of reality and its limits (Get Out is a belated addition to that great list) so it is at least bold, ambitious and worth a good look, no matter what you ultimately think of it. Well done and nice to see so nicely restored.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and four Making Of featurettes: Alain Jessua: The Lone Deranger with the director interviewed by Curator Bernard Payen of the Cinematheque Francaise, Koering's Scoring with composer Rene Koering discussing the film, Doctor's Disorders offers another Jessua interview and Drumrunning has Koering offering audio commentary on three scenes. A Special Edition adds a CD, which also has a reversible cover.

James McTeigue's V For Vendetta 4K (2005) was produced by The Warchowskis and is as important as any film they made, including The Matrix series and has been nicely upgraded to the 4K format, plus the Blu-ray is a new version. We reviewed the film a few times before, including the older Blu-ray and you can find more details about it all starting at this link:


The tale of a different kind of superhero up against sinister forces in political power repeating the hate and mistakes of the past on purpose was decent success at the time, but not the blockbuster (was it too smart or complex for some?) success it could or should have been, the world has caught up with the film some what so far, the hero's mask became the face of the recently revealed political operative 'anonymous' in real life and still shows up (along with other artwork and images from the film) in protests and defiant literature, but the film also turned out to be part of an unintended anti-fascist trilogy that includes two Paul Verhoeven classics: Robocop (1987) and Starship Troopers (1997) that fully understand how media (especially video media; TV and the Internet, et al) manipulate the masses and how nothing has changed in that respect since the 1930s.

I know Alan Moore took his name off of the film as he does with all works adapted from him, but in this case, he can at least be partly proud some of his intent stuck and did so very well. This becomes the British companion to the Verhoeven films (though the evil is applicable in all cases) and could not be more timely. V For Vendetta is worth revisiting, now more than ever.

Now for extras. We get Digital Copy, while the discs repeat all the extras from the previous editions on the regular Blu-ray and the 4K adds three pieces not issued on disc before: the 2006 V For Vendetta: Unmasked film short, Natalie Portman audition (just over 14 minutes) and James McTeigue & Lana Wachowski in Conversation piece (just over 13 minutes) that are all welcome additions.

Now for the playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.66 X 1 Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Darkness is often stunning, only with some moments showing the films age, but many demo scenes that exceed my letter grade thanks to the discovery of the original 35mm negative. Color range, detail and depth almost make it a new film, superior to the decent Blu-ray already here and especially good at resolving the color it needs to deliver the most in its Video Red. They claim 16-bit color in 4K and the results prove it. Unless you have seen this in a pristine 35mm or even 16mm print, you have not seen it until you see it in 4K.

Then the 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Vendetta is the best I have seen it since my 70mm IMAX screening where I was simply stunned and it is better than the new Blu-ray version, though I thought the older Blu-ray looked a little better than this new 1080p presentation. Video Black is now far more wide-ranging and light is better and closer to the best film prints. Director of Photography Adrian Biddle's work has aged very well here and save some stylized moments (and purposely soft video images) we get some great demo shots that exceed my letter grade here too.

Both have been upgraded in all disc versions to lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) sound and it is interesting in both cases. Blue Underground once again pushes the limits of what they can do with an older theatrical monophonic film and Darkness will never sound better, but they have also included and excellent CD soundtrack of the film's music in stereo. We get some distortion in small places here and there, but this is fine otherwise. As for Vendetta, it really has more of the impact my 70mm IMAX screening had, though the older Blu--ray sound was also not bad for its time. The sound design more than benefits from the upgrade and it has all aged very well, placing it just past the older Dolby TrueHD mix, if not spectacularly so.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Beanstalk can show the age of the materials used as noted, but this is still better than any version I have seen before and it is too bad there was not the money and/or not enough extra reference materials to fix this film better, but this will do until that happens. One spot will look soft, another sharp, one a little faded, the other close to the color SuperCineColor could deliver. It may not have been as sharp or clear as three-strip Technicolor, but has a fine look that fives us an idea how much fun and how interesting it was. The PCM 2.0 Mono is good for its age and could sue some work, but sounds as good as the film ever has to date.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Outlander episodes are the only digital shoot here and they look fine for the format and the genre, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on each show is very well mixed, recorded and has consistent soundfields throughout.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Treatment can show the age of the materials used in a few spaces, but is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and worthy of the best stills and clips I have seen of the film over the years. Color impresses and we get some fine detail and depth. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes are in original French and a lesser English dub, but the French is more realistic, naturalistic and effective, including the music.

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Outlander)


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