Of The Animals/Grizzly
(Both 1976/Severin Blu-rays)/Escape
From Fort Bravo
(1953/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Man
With A Camera: The Complete Series
(1958/MPI DVD Set)/The
(2020/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Speed
(1994/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)
Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B/B/B/C/B- & C/B Sound:
B-/B-/B-/C+/B & C+/B- Extras: B/B/C-/D/C-/B Main
From Fort Bravo
Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
up are genre productions that sport low to medium budgets, yet are
often known and worth discussing...
start with two hits that could have only happened in the 1970s as a
plethora of independent releasing companies were releasing films
every week along side the major studios at the time and often had
hits, including unexpected ones. It made filmgoing more exciting and
two of the hits happened to be directed back to back by William
Girdler. Both released in 1976, Grizzly
was the very first film to be a take-off of Spielberg's Jaws
a cast led by Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel
playing characters similar to the trio from the earlier hit film,
they were actually always likable actors who had an uncanny knack for
picking interesting projects, even if it did not make them A-list
stars. Still, anything they ever did was always worth watching.
Once all figure out it is the title animal on a frequently violent
killing spree, they have no choice but to go into action.
91 minutes, it knows it is not going to be able to equal the larger
hit, so it gets through its moments with a good pace, though it is
more graphic than many might remember from the time, though there are
also some odd sides to such scenes. Some parts might be fake or
dated, but since it is not the often bad digital of today, it is
is still getting ripped-off and most of the knock-offs are not as fun
or smart as this one, but it still has its B-movie trappings and
authentically so in a way you rarely see in any seriously ambitious
monster film today. It has an odd, unique mood that is a plus and
definitely deserves its surprisingly nice upgraded special edition,
so all serious horror or monster fans need to mark this one down as a
must-see. Everyone else should see it at least once and if you saw
it, you might want to see how its aged.
are many and include a feature length audio commentary track with
Mondo Digital's Nathaniel Thompson and film writer Troy Haworth,
Radio Spots, Original Theatrical Trailers, two on-camera interviews
with Actor Tom Arcuragi and The
with Producer David Sheldon and Actress Joan McCall), the vintage
Making Of featurette Movie
Making In The Wilderness,
archival featurette, an audio interview with Director Girdler by with
business partner/friend J. Patrick Kelly III with 8mm movies, et al
Author Stephen Thrower on Girdler's career.
out a second time in a row the same year, Girdler struck gold again
Of The Animals
following the natural disaster cycle Hitchcock invented in his 1962
(see the 4K version elsewhere on this site) and was already brewing
as a cycle before Jaws
arrived. In this case, a earlier Blu-ray edition was issued and we
reviewed it at this link:
and Jaeckel returned for this film as new characters, joined by Lynda
Day George, Leslie Nielsen before his comedy phase, Michael Ansara,
Ruth Roman, Paul Ceder, Paul Mantee and an up and coming Andrew
Stevens. They have a little more money and know they are following
up a hit, so the energy is there, making this great fun,sometimes an
howler unintentionally and it runs a little longer than Grizzly.
It is also on par with the film.
was becoming a better filmmaker, so it is too bad he passed early,
but it has its moments and is another must-see for genre fans, worth
a good look for the rest of us and worth revisiting if you have seen
it before. The music score by no less than the legendary Lalo
Schifrin is a big plus.
expand from the older edition and include two feature length audio
commentary tracks (one with Writer/Scholar Lee Gambin, the other with
Actors Lynda Day George and Jon Cedar hosted by Evil
Co-Writer Scott Spiegel) worth your time, TV Spots, Radio Spots, an
Original Theatrical Trailer, Something
Is Out There:
Alternate Opening Sequence for the retitled version,
four on-camera interviews (Lynda
and the Animals
with Lynda Day George, Nature
with Actor Bobby Porter, Against
with Actor Andrew Stevens and Monty
talking to the animal trainer for the film), archival
Was Out There: Day Of The Animals 30 Years Later
Stephen Thrower on Producer Edward L. Montoro.
From Fort Bravo
(1953) is a mixed Revenge Western set during the Civil War with the
usual tensions, with William Holden as a cold Captain for the North
and John Forsythe representing the Confederate prisoners, et al.
Eleanor Parker is thew woman between them and when that is not
enough, stereotypical 'Holly wood Indians' are out to kill them all!
bit sloppy in its narrative nad even some editing, it was one of the
small group of MGM films made at the beginning of their establishment
of the MetroColor labs and that means they used Ansco brand color
negative film, giving this a different look than most films you have
ever seen. That and a supporting cast that also includes Polly
Bergen, Richard Anderson and William Demarest is why it is still
worth a look, despite its many problems.
fans of Westerns will probably like it even more, but it is at least
an ambitious production and it has been restored as much as possible
Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.
is hard to say how some actors become big on TV and others on the big
screen, but most of them often have started on TV, especially in the
early years. While he would log up plenty of supporting work on the
big screen, Charles Bronson once had is own TV series in the title
role of Man
With A Camera: The Complete Series
(1958). Even Action shows were only a half-hour at the time, but the
makers did their best to portray an honest photographer trying to
make a living long before
too often became drowned in cheap tabloid journalism.
so many shows of the time neglected in later years simply because
they were not in color, hits or not, it has not been seen much, but
has its moments. He is freelance, so he also works for other kinds
of companies, yet he also has people trying to get him to take
pictures for odd reasons. This even happens at gunpoint at times!
will get a kick out of seeing older technology, from older
telephones, to old print newspapers to that large format camera he
uses to then-newer cameras like the miniature Minox camera (it used
16mm frames and until 110 cameras arrived in the mid-1970s for
consumers, was a popular spy camera too and could be seen in episodes
The Night Stalker
in to 1975, coming soon to Blu-ray!) and all the pictures are shot in
black and white too.
such shows eventually moved to an hour-long format (though some
British shows stuck to that length into the early 1970s, serial shows
not included) so you could tell a story in that time, which they do
here in all 29 shows. B5ronson later became a star of a series of
cheap reactionary exploitation films that made quick bucks for him,
extending his career beyond many of his contemporaries, but he could
act and he shows that here better than in most of his Death
like the look for the show, which has some style without overdoing it
(though Noir was winding down, so you will see few such shots here)
and the guest stars (some of whom were just getting started) is
impressive including Yvonne Craig, Angie Dickinson, Harry Dean
Stanton, Ruta Lee, Grant Williams, Sebastian Cabot, Norma Crane,
Gavin McLeod and others that kept the show in a healthy pace.
none of the show are standouts, yet they are always interesting,
different and will be more of a surprise to those who do not watch
older such TV or even movies than those of us who are used to it. It
is also some of Bronson's better work, so it is nice to see it
finally arrive on DVD.
are sadly no extras.
Neeson has more in common with Bronson in his career of doing
supporting roles, some respectable, then doing more action films than
expected, though he has had more prestige work. Unfortunately, his
new role as the title character of Robert Lorenz's The
(2020) in his most ill-advised turn since he appeared in that wacky
big screen remake.
is a widower who is driving his truck one day when a woman and her
very young son come over the U.S./Mexican border, chased by
semi-stereotypical Mexican cartel killers! He reluctantly helps
them, but not before resisting, which lands him up in a shootout.
They escape, but he has to deal with the ramifications while possibly
losing his longtime home and still being depressed over losing his
wife. Sounds like a cliche-fest? Yup, and it gets worse and worse
and worse and worse and worse.
very, very long 108 minutes, it is for Neeson fans only, if that.
Copy and a Making Of featurette are the only extras.
we have Jan De Bont's Speed
(1994) with Dennis Hopper's grand commercial villain turn that was
unthinkable only a few years before, plus it put Sandra Bullock on
the map and cemented Keanu Reeves as a star beyond his peers, one
that he still is today, a top box office star with more fans than
the Blu-ray format first arrived, it was one of the early titles that
made many of us curious as to how it would play in the new format.
We covered it at this link:
was a rather basic edition, but people generally liked it and in
retrospect, it likely helped make the format a success. How, Disney
(now the owners of the old Fox catalog) have decided to issue it in
the 4K format. I will get more onto the playback quality below, but
the big surprise is how shockingly good it looks.
for the film now, Reeves surprised everyone across the board that he
could get tougher and pull off the role, though he did not play a
stereotypical tough guy by any mean. Hopper lets loose in a way in a
way that seems like the return of the repressed and knows exactly
what he is doing here. For the executives who wrote him off after
did not work out as expected, it must have seemed like the best kind
course, the horrific events of 9/11 made making these kind of films
obsolete, so it is a time capsule in its own right and one of the
best of the populist Star
populist feel good crowd-pleasers, but it is a film that holds up
well enough and a key film for all involved. De Bont continued with
a mixed commercial directing career and they never were able to
recreate how this particular film worked again.
include Digital Copy, while both disc versions offer two
feature-length audio commentary tracks (one by De Bont, the other by
Screenwriter Graham Yost and Producer Mark Gordon) and the regular
Blu-ray adds the Inside Speed featurette, Action Sequences, Extended
Scenes and a music video for the film by Billy Idol.
for playback performance. I figured that Speed
could look improved in 4K and it would be nice to see it looking
clean and clear like a new film print, but the
2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1 HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra
High Definition image is actually more impressive throughout than
even I imagined. De Bont was first a cinematographer in the business
for the likes of Paul Verhoeven, so he was going to have his first
feature film looking good.
Director of Photography Andrzej Bartkowiak, there is hardly any
digital work here, especially because of the time it was made, such
effects had not become commonplace yet and they push the use of the
scope frame in ways that up the excitement. However, the color is
fine, nothing has been enhanced or changed from the original release
and it is a remarkably clear, detailed and warm presentation
throughout. The sound landed up with two Oscars, but the DTS-HD MA
(Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix can show its age and you can hear
some of the audio's analog origins. This is the same soundtrack
repeated on the regular 1080p Blu-ray that looks fine, but is no
match for the 4K version with its demo shots and surprisingly good
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Animals
are new scans from a 35mm internegative and they look as good as they
ever have, but why they could not scan the original 35mm camera
negatives is unknown, though these look the best they have since
their original theatrical releases, with Animals
improving over the then-decent earlier Blu-ray in color range and
warmth. Both happen to have been shot in the anamorphic Todd-AO 35
format and that helps make them look better than the usual B-movie
and that is
lenses were one of the best competitors to Panavision at the time
(along with Technovision from Italy) and were also used on big films
the 1980 Flash
(see our 4K review elsewhere on this site) and Lynch's Dune,
but also the artistic likes of Polanski's MacBeth
(see our Criterion Blu-ray review).
films were originally theatrical monophonic releases, so the DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono sound on both discs sound as good as these
films will likely ever sound and the Lalo Schifrin score on Animals
is solid and I wish it were in stereo. Severin has brought out the
best ion both films and fans will love it, while the rest will be
surprised at the high quality.
1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Fort
can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a
transfer to all previous releases of the film thanks to the hard
restoration work by Warner Archive. However, the result shows more
than a few variances in quality, meaning the film was not in prime
shape and sections had to be reconstructed from various 35mm
materials. Still, it is one of the rare films shot in 35mm Ansco
color film. The result at its best is color you will not see
anywhere else and could compete with Kodak and other color films of
the time that exploded into production after WWII.
surprise is that the film is here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0
Stereo as al the studios were trying out then-new stereo on select
films and this is not bad for its age. The combination makes for
interesting viewing that helps overcome the film's narrative flaws
and cliches (if not racism) for those interested.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Marksman is
an HD-shoot that can have some softness and slight blur throughout,
plus dulled color that becomes tired quickly, while the
enhanced DVD version is even softer and is the poorest performer on
the list. At least the sound is a bit better and competent at best
on Blu-ray in its DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless form. For
some reason, the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is much weaker
and thinner than expected, especially in comparison. Not a pleasant
release overall and across the board.
leaves the 1.33 X 1 black and white image on the Camera
DVDs having some clear moments for the format and the age of the
series, but it also has more than a few rough moments, including some
minor damage or second-generation parts typical of olderTV shows of
the time that managed to survive today. Even I
on Blu-ray had a few such moments, though The
on Blu-ray remarkably did not. Since the show is about photography,
it was shot to look good and it often does. The lossy Dolby Digital
2.0 Mono is fine and a little better, showing the age of the
recordings, but they are not bad considering. The combination is
fine for the format.
order the Warner Archive Escape
From Fort Bravo
Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive