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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Camp > Action > Horror > Mexico > Drama > Poland > Shorts > Exploitation > Crime > Urban > Thriller > Dem > Batwoman (1968)/Panther Women (1967/VCI Blu-ray*)/Corpus Christi (2019/Film Movement Blu-ray)/Family Portraits (2003)/Theatre Bizarre (2011/both Severin Blu-rays)/Vigilante 4K (1982/Blue Underground 4

Batwoman (1968)/Panther Women (1967/VCI Blu-ray*)/Corpus Christi (2019/Film Movement Blu-ray)/Family Portraits (2003)/Theatre Bizarre (2011/both Severin Blu-rays)/Vigilante 4K (1982/Blue Underground 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray/*both MVD)/Welcome To The Circle (2020/Artsploitation Blu-ray)

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

Up next are some thrillers and odd cult films, including two upgrades of titles we reviewed before...

If you enjoy cheesy Mexican exploitation thrillers then you'll want this double feature of The Batwoman (1968) and Panther Women (1967).

While today the filmmakers would be sued for copyright infringement in the 'bat' of an eye, back in the simpler times of the late 1960s you could get away with making a sexy rip-off of Batman no problem. Inspired by the success of the American TV series, The Batwoman is about a sexy female crime fighter who wears a cape and a cowl and battles against a scientist whose harvesting glands of wrestlers for his own diabolical purposes.

The films star Carlos Suarez, Maura Monti, Ariadna Welter, Roberto Canedo, Tongolele, and Hector Godoy to name a few.

A ring-side fight to the death happens in Las Mujeres Panteras aka The Panther Women, were worshippers of Satan fight to defend his name. From the same director as The Batwoman, Rene Cardona, the film has the same level of cheese as its predecessor.

Both films have been restored and are presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and PCM 2.0 Mono mix. While both films have been restored in 4K from the original camera negatives as it says on the cover, but the presentations here are nice but not perfect. Some scenes have a bit of compression issue and the image never seems to be quite as sharp as it could be. I am sure, however, that this is likely the best that these films have ever looked though. Please note that Panther Women is in black and white and The Batwoman is in color.

Extras: Trailers for other films of the era

These Mexican B-Movie classics are about as silly as it gets, but fun to revisit on disc. While at the time I'm sure they were controversial, today they are pretty tame. Batwoman here, by the way, does not look like the new version now in her own TV series or the old version in a yellow outfit, or any variant of Batgirl, but runs around in a variant of the Batman costume of the time. Needless to say DC Comics skipped suing.

The intense Polish religious thriller, Corpus Christi (2019) tells the story of a misfit turned priest as a young man surrenders his past life for a better one. The film was chosen to represent Poland in the Best International Feature Film category of the 92nd Academy Awards and was well reviewed all over the world. Now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Film Movement, this involving film is sure to touch your heart.

The film stars Bartosz Bielenia, Aleksandra Konieczna, Eliza Rycembel, and Barbara Kurzaj.

Corpus Christi is presented in 1080p Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and Polish audio mixes in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 with English subtitles. The film has nice color correction and predominantly blue and green tones that come across nicely here and the cinematography on the whole is very impressive and well done.

Special Features:

Making of Featurette

and Nice To See You (2004) - short film directed by Jan Komasa

Douglas Buck's Family Portraits (2003) begs the question, is it a feature film or is it just three shorts by the same director released like one. Cutting Moments (1997), Home (1998) and Prologue (2003) all have tales of violence, mutilation, murder and extreme toxic dysfunction that would give them a hard R or NC-17 rating, with the same sense of flat dread. This does not make Buck an auteur in any way, though, and any shock value did not impress me. It would not have during their original release either.

Shooting the films on what looks like simple 16mm color film with low budgets and little to no lighting helps bring some realistic feel, though some of this also feels a little cliched. The acting is as flat, but that makes some sense considering the way these are made. Some viewers might be more impressed, but I was not and these did not stay with me. At least he's consistent.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image look accurate and authentic enough, throughout with some flaws (left in there perhaps, but probably not intended) and will likely never look better, even if these were in 4K or the like. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes are as flat and dull, including location audio that will remind one of such productions in the late 1960s through the late 1970s.

Extras include separate audio commentary tracks by Buck and Maitland McDonagh, 1998 interview on Cutting Moments, a podcast on that short called That's Dark, Deleted Scenes, Behind The Scenes, Stills, Trailers and an older short entitled After All.

Buck is also one of seven directors on the anthology release, Theatre Bizarre (2011) that Severin issued on DVD many years ago and we reviewed it at this link:


Now it is back in a Blu-ray upgrade and though I do not think it has aged well, it did not get much worse. It is still a very average release that could have been much better, but it did play better in this upgrade. The DVD made it look and feel cheaper than it was, though this is not highly budgeted, it is the preferred way to see it.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition images are not suddenly brilliant and vivid, but are not plagued with the annoying softness of the old DVD. Some of them even look a bit better than I expected versus what I saw years ago. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix varies on each short slightly, but this is much clearer and even sometimes warmer than the old, lossy Dolby Digital on the old DVD.

Extras repeat the audio commentary tracks on almost all the shorts, a trailer, director's interviews and behind-the-scenes clips on each short. Mother Of Toads is here in an extended edition now, we get new commentary tracks recorded in 2020 and trailers, so the extras have been upgraded and expanded too.

An incredibly fun '80s action film in the same vein as Death Wish from director William Lustig (Maniac), Vigilante (1982) gets the 4K UHD treatment courtesy of Blue Underground. Starring the late Robert Forster and Fred Williamson, this time is a great time capsule action movie that shows a touch as nails and dangerous New York City with all sorts of wild characters. The film is also very creatively shot and still holds up pretty well to today's standards. Admittedly, I hadn't seen this film prior to this release and found it to be quite a good time and doesn't shy away from being controversial with its violence and chaos scenarios.

The film also stars Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda, Carol Lynley (Night Stalker (1972)), Woody Strode, Joe Spinell and Salsa legend Willie Colon.

In a story similar to The Punisher, a regular joe named Eddie (Forster) gets his wife and kid are brutally slain for no good reason by a gang of rapist murderers. When the crooked judge lets them go free, old Eddie decides to transform himself into a 'vigilante' and extract his own brand of justice.

Vigilante is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with an HEVC/H.265 codec, HDR & Dolby Vision, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and several high end audio mixes in lossless Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) and lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1. This is a brand new restoration from the original 35mm camera negative and lays out much more detail than previous editions (including the solid older Blu-ray release we reviewed elsewhere on this site), which is why I mentioned it's a nice time capsule piece to see 1980s New York on display.

There is also included a 1080p version of the film on Blu-ray disc with similar audio and widescreen specs, however a slightly more compressed image than the 4K UHD version.

Special Features include...

NEW Audio Commentary #3 with critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson

NEW Blue Collar DEATH WISH - Interviews with Writer Richard Vetere, Star Rutanya Alda, Associate Producer/First A.D./Actor Randy Jurgensen, and others

NEW Urban Western - Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway

Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew Garroni

Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Stars Robert Forster, Fred Williamson and Frank Pesce

Theatrical Trailers

TV Spots

Radio Spot

Promotional Reel

Poster & Still Galleries

Theatrical Trailers

and BONUS: Collectible Booklet with new essay by Michael Gingold

Reversible sleeve with vintage poster art

and First pressing only: 3D lenticular slipcover.

This is a fun action flick if you haven't seen it and very '80s. If you're a fan then you will certainly want to upgrade your previous version to this collectible one.

Finally, a thriller in the same vein as Midsomar only on a smaller scale, Welcome to the Circle (2020) aka The Circle, is the story of a father and daughter who encounter a dangerous and twisted demon worshipping cult in the woods and soon become prisoner to them. At first, the group seem relatively normal if not a bit too nice and pretty, but when the father character sees them eating the guts of a young man, he starts to fear for his and his daughter's safety. The film isn't shot or made badly and has a few creepy moments, but if little girls wearing creepy masks and an abundance of mannequins freak you out then this film may not be for you!

Directed by David Fowler (who, oddly enough, worked on some Disney Nature movies before this) the film stars Taylor Dianne Robinson, Andrea Brooks, Cindy Busby, Hilary Jardine, and Heather Doerksen.

Welcome to the Circle is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC (24.55 Mbps) codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mix. The presentation is pretty solid with nothing to complain about.

Special Features:


Trailer for other Artsploitation films

Welcome to the Circle isn't too bad or completely original either.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Severin) and James Lockhart



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