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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts > Sword Fighting > Revenge > Japan > Horror > Comedy > Demons > Satan > Spain > Mexico > Vampire > Crazy Samurai: 400 Vs. 1 (*)/Day Of The Beast 4K (1995/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray**)/Nosferatu In Venice (1988/Blu-ray**)/Russian Raid (*both 2020/Well Go Blu-ray)/A Scream In The Streets (1972/Blu

Crazy Samurai: 400 Vs. 1 (*)/Day Of The Beast 4K (1995/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray**)/Nosferatu In Venice (1988/Blu-ray**)/Russian Raid (*both 2020/Well Go Blu-ray)/A Scream In The Streets (1972/Blu-ray/**all Severin)/Southland Tales (2006/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B+/B/B-/B-/B/B+ Sound: C+/B-/B-/B/C+/C+ Extras: C-/B-/C+/C-/C/B Films: A-/C+/C+/C/C/C+ (both versions)

These next genre films are some of the wildest and wackiest we have covered and in one group, in a while...

The Infamous undefeated Miyamoto Musashi (Tak Sakaguchi) challenges the Yoshioka clan and walks into a 1 vs 400 ambush/battle. The entire film shot in one 77-minute action sequence, adding to the legend of Miyamoto Musashi as one of the greatest swordsman of Japan in Yuji Shimomura's Crazy Samurai: 400 Vs. 1 (2020).

The entire Yoshioka clan want some payback after Miyamoto Musashi defeated one of their masters ...in a 'fair fight' an epic battle of 400 vs 1. 100 Samurai who want the honor and glory of defeating Musashi and 300 hired mercenaries who want the bounty on his head, but in order to collect, he must fight the greatest swordsman ever.

This was an epic movie, filmed all in one shot. Based on Miyamoto Musashi who was considered to be one of the Sword Saints of Japan and invented the dual sword technique. The film had excellent costuming, setting and real swordplay. The only thing that seemed strange after a while was how ALL the defeated opponents used their last dying steps to die off screen and also how Musashi's blade seemed always free of blood (all the blood was CGI-ed in and then it disappeared whenever it hit the ground). Extras includes trailers.

Alex de la Iglesia's The Day Of The Beast 4K (1995) looked at first like it could be a serious film about Satan coming to haunt a priest and go on a kill, but it is actually a somewhat comical exercise (no pun intended) that may not be a great film, but is still a better comedy in the genre than most made in Hollywood and most independent cinemas of the last few decades.

A priest (Armando De Razza) thinks he has caught onto ominous signs of a new arrival of Satan and immediately shares this concern with a fellow priest, who is suddenly killed in the church they meet at. In a serious horror film, it would start a series of brutal killings that are supposed to shock the audience and become increasingly brutal, as in the original Omen films. Instead, the script decides to make these moments play for humor with a little ironic distance, then moves on to make commentary about and show a darker side of society that is as damning of Spanish and Mexican culture as it is of U.S. and U.K. culture.

Without ruining anything, this pre-Internet era tale includes TV personalities on lower channels advertising for call-ins to help people predict the future and dispel evil spirits, its connection with music culture (including some mainstream music) and even how this connects with sexploitation in society. The film is not outright political or preachy, but these elements are there.

The actors never try to be funny and play it all straight, as the comedy is consistently not trying to be funny throughout, which I liked. However, the film is still too silly for tis own good, including how its logic about demonology works (I never bought any of the explanations, even if they were maybe meant to be funny, but who knows but the makers) and by the time any explanations are (consistent or not) offered, too much comedy has set in by then.

The film was apparently a hit overseas and I can see with the proper release timing, why. Now, it is a time capsule of an era that is sadly gone, as we've recently entered an uglier world. It is a genre film horror fans will be more likely to enjoy than one might think and it being a foreign film does not get in the way of how it works or functions. Now you can see for yourself.

Extras include trailers, four on-camera interview pieces (Antichrist Superstar with Iglesia, The Man Who Saved The World with Actor Armondo De Razza, Beauty and the Beast with Actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta and Shooting The Beast with Director of Photography Flavio Martinez Labiano), feature-length 'Making Of' the film piece Heirs Of The Beast and the director's short film Mirindas Asesinas.

Augusto Caminito's Nosferatu In Venice (1988) is a little-known and shockingly belated sequel to the 1979 Nosferatu that Klaus Kinski did with Werner Herzog that had some acclaim and is one of their best films. Five directors, none of which were Herzog, actually contributed to directing this (Kinski being one of them apparently) and the film has some interesting ideas, but it is not as good as the 1979 film despite the makers landing Christopher Plummer and Donald Pleasence.

They are both cast well here, but not used to the their or the film's best advantage, while Kinski is not as restrained and nudity is pushed, as well as his main female focus being a sexy woman of color that was more surprising back then. It is also never played for comedy as it was in Clive Donner's Old Dracula (1975) with David Niven.

The result is a curio that has its moments, but never adds up to what it could have been. In all that, it should be far more well known than it is at this point and unlike too many films and TV shows, has not made vampires boring and sadly hip, so you still get an actual vampire horror film here without any PC adjustments and the locales before they started to experience record flooding!

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, Outtakes, the documentary Creation Is Violence about Kinski's final years and two featurettes: Gypsies Should Be Played By Real Gypsies! and Nothing Bad Can Happen.

Denis Kryuchkov's Russian Raid (2020) wants to be a martial arts film that impresses, including some training sequences, but Dolph Lundgren has nothing to worry about. Ivan Kotik plays a man who has grown up wanting revenge for the killing of his father in front of him for a few decades and will do anything to achieve this. The training comes in there.

The killer happens to be a man who has now become a top gangster (guess the government just lets those guys run unchecked) making the revenge harder, but the chance becomes easier when he discovers a crack group of fighters will attack a factory owned by the killer. Let the many fight scenes begin.

This was surprisingly dull, though Kotik is actually a stuntman in real life. That is probably why some of this just looks too rehearsed, though there are a few moments that were not bad. There is also a touch of Russian Nationalism here, but it is not ridiculous or overdone. The problem is ultimately, it is underdone, predictable and not very memorable. Better luck next time guys!

Extras only include trailers.

Carl Monson's A Scream In The Streets (1972) is a bad film with no apologies for being exploitive, sleazy, sloppy and crude. There is a killer on the loose and the police are looking all over for the suspect, yet we get several lame sex scenes, so I guess the killer won't strike in bedrooms? Running 90 minutes, everything is bad here from the sex to the 'acting' to the script to the pacing and it is ultimately a homophobic film despite its thought-police lesbianism scene.

The 'soft core' items seem like bad filler, as if they knew they had a bad script, but then this is all over the place. The killer ('surprise') is a cross-dressing man, so you can figure out the rest, a film to be filed in the 'celluloid closet' world of film studies.

What little that does work here includes some of the outdoor footage, which looks better than expected and not being able to tell if the actors know how bad they are or even care. If you like trashy films, you'll want to see this one, but know that it is even not the best second-rate trash, so you won't be too disappointed.

Extras include trailers and two shorts that were cut out of this film's 'sex' sequences to make more money as sex loops.

And finally....

In the near future, America stands on the brink of social economic collapse however little do they know it is the end days and the fate of the world is in the hands of amnesia-stricken soldier (Dwayne Johnson), a former porn star (Sarah Michelle Gellar) turned reality TV and a police officer (Seann William Scott). As their fates intertwine, they try to search for some meaning to their life in Richard Kelly's Southland Tales (2006).

America is hit with nuclear bombs and triggers World War III. America is boycotted and isolated from the world and its people split into fascism and neo-Marxism. Oil is cut off (electric cars and solar energy being more mainstream were less of a possibility when the film was made) and America is forced to search for alternative fuel. As America's economy collapses, society loses its civil liberties and socialism. A soldier celebrity with amnesia tries to remember what happened to him, a reality TV porn star want to use the soldier's story to expose the corruption and illegal experiments. But what they discover is in the search of alternate fuel they opened up a time rift and those who go through it (and live) end up with a double of themselves, but if they ever come in contact with one another, they would start a chain reaction and destroy all of existence.

This was a sci-fi movie (they have two versions here) and you can tell by how old the movie was by how young the actors all looked, see Dwayne Johnson before he became a mega-super star. It is basically a dystopian movie with low special effects that was transferred onto Blu-ray. Extras include commentary, interview with cast and crew, image gallery and trailer.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Beast is easily the best looking transfer here and that is in the face of some good regular HD transfers. The regular Beast Blu-ray looks pretty good and has a consistent transfer throughout, but the 4K edition does a better job showing off the color of the original 35mm negative (all shot on Kodak film) and makes it all work better. Both have a decent, but sometimes dated in evidence of some slight lacking sound and mixing choices, a solid-enough DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Spanish 5.1 lossless mix that is the best of the choices here. The film was a 5.1 digital release.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Samurai is the second-best looking release here, a fine digital HD shoot with consistent color, depth and detail, but its Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is not as well presented and was inconsistent, disappointing and maybe a little off.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Nosferatu has some softness that is part of its style, but it was more often than I would have liked, so I had to hold it responsible for that ratings-wise, but it is fine otherwise form its new 2K scan of the original negative including the color being very consistent. As for sound, we get DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes in both Italian and English, but it is the English that is better and more authentic in this case.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Raid is softer throughout than expected, including on some of its few CGI effects, so only expect so much. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix fares better, though the makers offer some odd mixing choices and odd sound effects that one might find unintentionally funny.

Though the case fails to note this, Streets is here in two 1080p digital High Definition versions from its new 2K scan: 1.85 X 1 and 1.33 X 1. They both look good with the 1.33 showing more of the original frame, but the 1.85 X 1 has a chance to show some better color.The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix was done on a low budget and this is about as good as this film will ever sound, but do not expect much sonically here.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Tales is better than the film looked on its older Blu-ray edition, but being able to see it better does not make it a better film, and no matter the version. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix should sound better than Donnie Darko, but it is often silent, odd, off or just a bit inconsistent in its soundfield. Some of the time, that is intended, but other times, it sounds sloppy, much like the film itself.

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Crazy, Tales)


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