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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Environment > Nature > Monster > Western > Civil War > Revenge > Drama > Crime > Immigrant > Day 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 Marksman (2020/Universal

Day 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 Marksman (2020/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Speed 4K (1994/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K 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 Programs: C+/C+/C+/C+/C-/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Escape 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.

Next up are genre productions that sport low to medium budgets, yet are often known and worth discussing...

We 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 (1975).

With 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.

Running 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 additionally amusing.

Amazingly, Jaws 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.

Extras 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 (The Towering Fury with Actor Tom Arcuragi and The Grizzly Details with Producer David Sheldon and Actress Joan McCall), the vintage Making Of featurette Movie Making In The Wilderness, Jaws With Claws archival featurette, an audio interview with Director Girdler by with business partner/friend J. Patrick Kelly III with 8mm movies, et al and Nightmare USA Author Stephen Thrower on Girdler's career.

Lucking out a second time in a row the same year, Girdler struck gold again with Day Of The Animals following the natural disaster cycle Hitchcock invented in his 1962 hit The Birds (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:


George 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.

Girdler 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.

Extras 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 Dead II 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 Boy with Actor Bobby Porter, Against Nature with Actor Andrew Stevens and Monty Cox Unleashed talking to the animal trainer for the film), archival featurette Something Was Out There: Day Of The Animals 30 Years Later and Nightmare USA Author Stephen Thrower on Producer Edward L. Montoro.

John Sturges' Escape 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!

A 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.

Huge 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 here.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

It 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 photographers too often became drowned in cheap tabloid journalism.

Like 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!

Many 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 of Kolchak: The Night Stalker in to 1975, coming soon to Blu-ray!) and all the pictures are shot in black and white too.

Though such shows eventually moved to an hour-long format (though some British shows stuck to that length into the early 1970s, serial shows like Dr. Who 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 Wish clones.

I 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.

No, 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.

There are sadly no extras.

Liam 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 Marksman (2020) in his most ill-advised turn since he appeared in that wacky A-Team big screen remake.

He 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.

A very, very long 108 minutes, it is for Neeson fans only, if that.

Digital Copy and a Making Of featurette are the only extras.

Finally, we have Jan De Bont's Speed 4K (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 ever.

When 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:


That 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.

As 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 The Last Movie did not work out as expected, it must have seemed like the best kind of revenge.

Of 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 Wars/Rocky 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.

Extras 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.

Now 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.

With 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 presentation.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Animals and Grizzly 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

The lenses were one of the best competitors to Panavision at the time (along with Technovision from Italy) and were also used on big films like Logan's Run, the 1980 Flash Gordon (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).

Both 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.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Fort Bravo 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.

Another 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.

The 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 anamorphically 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.

That 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 Love Lucy on Blu-ray had a few such moments, though The Honeymooners 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.

To order the Warner Archive Escape From Fort Bravo Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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