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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Exploitation > Murder > Slasher > Crime > Surrealism > Sex > Germany > Thriller > Science Fiction > S > Attic Expeditions (2000*)/Castle Of The Creeping Flesh (1968*)/Elysium 4K (2013/Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/First Snow (2006/MVD Blu-ray)/Happy Times (2020/Artsploitation Blu-ray)/Plague Town

Attic Expeditions (2000*)/Castle Of The Creeping Flesh (1968*)/Elysium 4K (2013/Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/First Snow (2006/MVD Blu-ray)/Happy Times (2020/Artsploitation Blu-ray)/Plague Town (2008/*all Severin Blu-rays)

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

Our next group of genre films include a few upgrades and some odd stories...

We start with Jeremy Casten's The Attic Expeditions (2000) is a sort of throwback to a cycle of thrillers that came out of the likes of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and melodramas that tried to deal with mental illness and the institutions that do and do not help. Here, Andreas Jones plays the victim and though the film does not always work and may go overboard, a young Seth Green is here, joined by Jeffrey Combs, Ted Raimi and rock music icon Alice Cooper (whose theatrics always evoked the Horror genre) turn up in the supporting cast. That in itself makes the madness part just credible enough.

Unfortunately, the screenplay is all over the place and even with Green's extensive presence, the film does not know what to do with him or its ideas, so this does not go where it could have in its 100 minutes. Still, the cast is provocative and meant to make it an instant curio and it is more so that now. All the more reason I wished it was more memorable. Still, fans interested should check it out in this new edition.

Extras include a piece on the film by scholar Adam Rockoff, Alice Cooper and Jeffrey Combs reunited and talking about the film via Internet and the Cast & Crew 20 year pandemic reunion and Story of The Making of the film.

Percy G. Parker's Castle Of The Creeping Flesh (1968) is a German production with an elaborate enough title, though the film landed up getting retitled for other markets and reissues, it is noteworthy for being another film by the director of Mark Of The Devil (rated 'V' for violent, though no such rating existed, they gave out barf bags to customers paying to see it in theaters) and this film has its graphic moments. It may not be as gross, but it does not necessarily hold back, especially in this uncut version, scanned from the original 35mm camera negative.

A group of wild euro-swingers go out to have a good time and decide to try out a castle known for its infamy and association with the Earl of Saxon. Turns out all kinds of bizarre things are taking place there, including plenty of sex, violence, gross experimentation and more, so the party is over for the visitors as the realities of the hidden nightmares going on there take over.

Though the script is smart enough to not just jump into everything happening here, which gives us some suspense with some erotic moments that actually work for a change and are not dumb, throwaway bits. In this case, they are not able to sustain everything they set to do. Still, this is ambitious and I actually saw a very edited and English-dubbed version of this eons ago, which I started to remember as I watched. This version certainly works better and I am glad to finally catch up with it. It is worth a good look to those interested and cheers to everyone involved for saving it in its original form as much as possible. The cast has several Jess Franco regulars, so they are up to the challenge of the production.

Extras include a locations featurette, trailers under the Appointment With Lust title in German and English, opening credits sequences in German & without any text, Mark Of The Devil Q&A with the Hoven Family at the Australian Pulp Film Festival and an archival interview with Joyce Hoven and Percy Hoven entitled Adrian In The Castle Of Bloody Lust.

Neil Blomkamp's Elysium 4K (2013) is one of the more recent films of its genre actually worth seeing issued in the new Ultra HD format. A moderate hit that deserves and even larger audience, we reviewed the film on Blu-ray, and with a separately sold book on its making, at this link:


The Matt Damon film holds up surprisingly well, a working guy struck in a tough job on earth, now wrecked while the most wealthy and powerful live in a space station above, does deal with class division and is as relevant now as it was upon its release, but the film has more to say, has aged well the way the director's District 9 (also now in 4K, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and the rest of the cast (including Jodie Foster in one of her most interesting turns) makes it a pleasure to visit and revisit. I am happy this turned out as well and even better than expected.

Extras repeat the older Blu-ray edition, but five new featurettes have been added to this new 4K release including Exoskeletons, Explosions, and Action Choreography in Elysium, The Hero, The Psychopath, and The Characters of Elysium, The Art Of The Elysium miniatures, Bugatti 2154 and Theatrical Trailers. We also get Digital Copy via Movies Anywhere.

Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner, and J.K. Simmons star in First Snow (2006), a film which is getting a new life on disc thanks to the MVD Rewind series. A thriller from the writers of Iron Man and Children of Men, the film is a pretty fun thriller with a unique script that isn't too predictable. The cast makes it more of a curio than ever.

Wound tight and cocky, Jimmy Starks (Pearce) is a smooth-talking salesman certain he's on the verge of a big break. He has a beautiful girlfriend (Perabo), and everything in life seems to be going his way. Until his car stalls in the middle of nowhere and he decides to get his fortune read by a roadside soothsayer (Simmons). The man assures him that danger is on its way upon the first snow. After he leaves, Jimmy should be happy when his boss suddenly agrees to financially back his business venture, he starts to become paranoid instead. From there, the world around him begins to unravel... and not for the better.

Special Feature include...

Final Omen featurette

Behind the Scenes featurette

Interview with actor J.K. Simmons, Guy Pearce, and Piper Perabo


and Reversible Artwork.

Directed by Michael Mayer, Happy Times (2020) is a dinner party turned amuck type of horror feature. Set in the Hollywood Hills with a mostly Israeli cast, and delivers a gripping and horrifyingly real story. The film starts out normal enough and even a bit sexy in certain scenes, but quickly things turn up on their heads and blood starts to fly...

The film stars Shani Atias, Iris Bahr, Michael Aloni, and Stefi Celma.

No extras.

Happy Times is a dark, sexy, and twisted film which is what we come to expect from the folks over at Artsploitation Films!

And finally, David Gregory's very mixed bag, Plague Town (2008) is now a curio to some extent, now that we actually and sadly have a pandemic, though this is confined to an Irish village, yet the disease affects only one age group. Some people like this one, but our previous reviewer despited the film and I just thought it was a web of missed opportunities and the makers saying and showing some things only they knew the meaning of outside of the obvious gore.

They stick with an acting style that is consistent, but not memorable and at least they did try to do something different here. Now you can see for yourself.

Extras repeat the feature length audio commentary track and two Making Of featurettes the earlier Blu-ray offered, then an Original Theatrical Trailer, short film entitled Scathed, Til Death and third Making Of piece, making this the edition to see if you must see one.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p, 2.35 X 1, HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Elysium 4K is one of the better upgrades of a film with hundreds of digitally-generated visuals that could look awful and could be exposed by the superior format, but the designs and effects here are among a small handful of such films in the last 20 years that are not just sloppy, thrown together and look cheap. Instead, depth, detail and color range surpass the older 1080p Blu-ray (included here) that is much more like what I saw when it opened theatrically and fans will be pleased. This is easily the best way to see the film, though expect some minor detail issues on par with digital CGI of the time.

The same can be said for the nice, smooth, often impressive sound upgrade to 12-track, lossless Dolby Atmos sound, which says something because the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless sound on the older Blu-ray was very state of the art in its time. Music is smoother too and when combined with the great image, you get some fine demo moments as well.

The 1080p digital High Definition image on all three Severin Blu-ray releases look good, but they also all have some flaws, whether it be age, slight issues with some of the frames or just a shoot with some not-so-hot shots. Color is as good as good as can be expected (I liked the color on Creeping Flesh (1.66 X 1) in particular) and the label has done their best to make the presentations look accurate. Attic (1.78 X 1) and Plague (1.85 X 1) both offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes, but Attic is just not that well recorded to begin with, while Plague has location audio issues and a few flaws, so only expect so much sonically. Creeping Flesh has two DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes, one in a not so good English dub, the other in a much better, original German track, which sounded better than either Attic track.

First Snow is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, both of which translate well to disc. The film has a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a very nice color spectrum, which could translate nicer on the 4K UHD format.

And finally, Happy Times is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mix in English and Hebrew with English subtitles. The film is nicely shot considering its low budget and feels like a bigger production than it likely was.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Severin, 4K) and James Lockhart



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