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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Mystery > Giallo > Italian > Police Procedural > TV > Crime > Martial Arts > Japan > Docum > Bird With The Crystal Plumage 4K (1970/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray*)/Code 3: L.A. Sheriff's Case File - The Complete Series (1957/MPI DVD Set)/Hydra (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Monster Collection: Frankenste

Bird With The Crystal Plumage 4K (1970/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray*)/Code 3: L.A. Sheriff's Case File - The Complete Series (1957/MPI DVD Set)/Hydra (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Monster Collection: Frankenstein Complex (2013) + Phil Tippet: Mad Dreams & Monsters (2019/Music Box Blu-ray Set)/Mortuary (1983/Blu-ray/*both MVD)/Not Quite Hollywood (2008/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: X/C+/B/B+/B/B Sound: C+/C+/B-/B+/B/B- Extras: B+/D/C-/B+/C+/B Main Programs: B/C+/C/B+/C+/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Not Quite Hollywood Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.

We start with the first Dario Argento film, which we have covered 4 times before and remains one of his most effective thrillers. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage 4K (1970) is one of the great directorial debuts and is a film that always had a distinctive look, feel and impact with it superior use of color and widescreen framing. That he did this with the tiny Techniscope frame that was not always getting the respect it deserved and when you add the actors, locales and script, it was an instant winner.

We reviewed Arrow's Blu-ray special edition of the film with the same strong group of extras at this link recently:


The only sound option remains DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Mono lossless mixes in English and Italian, with English a little more convincing, but no multi-channel upgrade as was featured on a previous Blu-ray edition. It is fine otherwise.

As for the picture, this does not include the controversial version by the Director of Photography Vitorrio Storaro that cut off the sides and made some shots black and white. I love Storaro's work, but it did not work for me at all.

Thus, the 2160p HECV/H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image is the full 2.35 X 1 Techniscope frame and the color is the best I have ever seen the film and is as close to the best prints of the film issued at the time. They were 35mm in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor (the Technicolor lab in Italy invented Techniscope) and you can see how good that looks here, but the color is not always overly heightened and is convincing enough. Only a few shots show their age, so the upgrade is worth it for all fans of the film and makes it easily the best way to see the film outside of such a now rare film print.

Argento's Cat O'Nine Tales is coming out on 4K disc next, so be on the lookout for it. I know we will.

Another lost TV show that deserves to be seen again, Code 3: L.A. Sheriff's Case File - The Complete Series (1957) was one of the Hal Roach Studio's more serious endeavors, broadcast by ABC at the time. A half-hour drama, it ran for only a season, but is not a bad show and a nice alternative to the overplayed Dragnet series. Since it was not a hit and in black and white, it apparently got lost in the shuffle when reruns rolled along and TV channels wanted color TV shows to go with new color TVs.

Practically an anthology show, each one has the same host (Richard Travis) and various detectives, who do reoccur in several of the episodes, but the same office and police world are implied and you can get that the more shows you watch. Of course, you can watch them out of broadcast order without major issues. Denver Pyle and Fredd Wayne are among the semi-regulars and guest stars include DeForest Kelley, William Scallert, Robert Armstrong, Stacy Keach, Russell Johnson, Mike Connors, Guy Williams, James Best, Harry Bartell, John Archer and Dick Sargent. 39 episodes resulted.

The 1.33 X 1 black and white image looks pretty good for its age, though the episodes have minor visual flaws here and there, plus some slight damage might be seen, but the monochrome and grey scale are pretty consistent, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is even a little more surprising in its clarity and lack of harmonic distortion you might expect from a TV show or even feature film of its age. The result is a better quality back catalog release on the older DVD format than expected. Hope we get more such shows soon.

There are no extras.

Kensuke Sonomura's Hydra (2019) is a Japanese gangster crime film that is also part of a streaming channel launched by Well Go a bit ago specializing in martial arts films called 'Hi-Yah!' with this tale of a retired assassin who has to return for an irresistible opportunity and maybe revenge. Running only 78 minutes, it has so-so fighting, a thin plot, nothing we have not seen before (despite some nice shots here and there) and was not very memorable overall. Some of it was too over the top for its own good and not as gritty as older such Japanese films in the genre, many of those of which are being reissued in solid restorations over the last few years.

The unknown acting cast does try it best to make this work, but the title locale (though the title has more than one meaning, for better or worse) is overused and slows down and already problematic work. For the very, very curious only.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is an HD shoot that at least usually looks good when it is in color, but some monochromatic moments do not ring true visually or otherwise. The Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix lacks a consistent soundfield, plus some of the location recording is a little off, so the makers seem a bit inexperienced and maybe this has a lower budget than one might first think, but who knows.

A trailer for this and a few other Well Go releases are the only extras.

If you're a fan of monsters in the movies and the history of special effects then you will most certainly want to pick up this three disc set, The Monster Collection, that's loaded with exclusive interviews and Behind The Scenes footage from classic films from some of the biggest names in Hollywood makeup special effects. The Frankenstein Complex (2015) is a fantastic documentary that digs in deep and is very interesting. Some focus points on the doc are the making of such classic films as Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Abyss, Hellboy, Lord of the Rings, Terminator 2, and many more. There's also a feature length documentary on effects mastermind Phil Tippet in Mad Dreams and Monsters (2019) that is a very in depth and interesting journey into the mind of the mastermind behind many of the greatest special effects ever seen on film.

Interviews are featured with seasoned special effects rockstars including Rick Baker, Phil Tippett, director Guillermo Del Toro, Steve Johnson, Greg Nicotero, The Chiodo Bros and many many more. The film talks of the great legends of the genre with Lon Chaney Sr., Dick Smith, and Jack Pierce and into the more modern age evolution of monster creation in cinema.

The films are presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78 X 1 and audio mixes in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo. The films have a solid presentation and are a mix of behind the scenes photography and cleanly shot interviews. Rather than showing an abundance of film clips, the B-roll focuses on statues from Sideshow Collectibles as well as close up looks on many screen used props.

Special Features include:

Feature Commentary with Phil Tippett and directors Alexandre Poncet and Gilles Penso

"Meeting the Monsters" Making Of Documentary

Prehistoric Beast (1985) a short film by Phil Tippett with audio commentary

Mutant Land (2010) a short film by Phil Tippett with audio commentary

Phil Tippett Museum: A Virtual Gallery of Tippett Creations

Joy of Working with Phil: Interview with Paul Verhoeven

Phil Will Fix This!: Interview with Joe Johnston

Animating with Phil: Interview with Tom St. Amand

Phil's Vision: Interview with Chris Walas

Friendship, Robots, and Dinosaurs: Interview with Dennis Muren

From Stop-Motion to Computer: Interview with Craig Hayes

Memories and Archives with Phil Tippett

Dinosaur Supervisor (Jurassic Park) with Phil Tippett

Starship Troopers 2 with Phil Tippet and Jon Davison

"Dinosaur!" with Paul Verhoeven and Jon Davison

and Mutant Fish (Piranha) with Joe Dante (1978).

This beautiful set is a must have for any genre film fan and is essential viewing for filmmakers of all types.

The odd horror film, Mortuary (1983), has a very early and fun performance by the late Bill Paxton that makes it worth checking out for that reason alone. Along with notable cast members, Lynda Day George (in her final film role to date) and Christopher George (Day of the Animals), this odd indie film has finally been remastered and unearthed by MVD Rewind and now part of their collection.

The film also stars Mary McDonough (The Waltons) and David Wallace (Humongous) and is directed by Howard Avedis and produced by the infamous Edward L. Montoro (who produced Grizzly and Day of the Animals and an infamous thief, but that's another story).

A disturbed teenager (Paxton) works at his father's (Christopher George) mortuary and hatches a scheme to win over a girl (Mary McDonough) by deadly means and of course getting her boyfriend (Wallace) out of the picture. Meanwhile, he discovers that his father is part of a Satanic Cult with the girl's mother (Lynda Day George) involved. Are people getting embalmed a bit too soon?

Mortuary is presented in 1080p high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1:78 X 1 and a lossless English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 16-bit) mix, both of which are appropriate for a film of this kind and disc. The film has some '80s charm to his photography, but overall looks fine here in this HD restoration.

Special Features:

Interview with Composer John Cacavas

Original Theatrical Trailer

Collectible Mini-Poster

and Limited Edition Retro Slip Cover - FIRST PRESSING ONLY.

Mortuary is fun to see a young Paxton amongst the Georges... but the plot can be a bit confusing at times and a bit silly.

Finally, we get to look again at one of the most referenced documentaries and filmmaking of the last few decades, Mark Hartley's Not Quite Hollywood (2008) has been a priceless look at the rise and continuing influence of Australian action films with all kinds of sex, violence, political incorrectness and rawness that has come in handy as these films, many gems, have been restored and reissued for new generations to see, enjoy and be shocked they even exist! You can read our review of the U.S. Blu-ray at this link, which links to my older coverage of the Umbrella import DVD edition:


The new Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray edition has all the extras of the U.S. Blu-ray, is an upgrade of their old DVD and us as timely as ever as these films start coming out, including the original Mad Max (1979) in 4K (unreviewed, but not bad, though the sound and picture could still use a little work on them) and The Man From Hong Kong (also issued by Umbrella on Blu-ray, reviewed elsewhere on this site) or Dead End Drive-In (1986, issued by Arrow in the U.S.) and more.

That makes it a must-see film for all serious film fans with solid 1080p 1.78 X 1 picture quality, lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo mixes (though many of these films are low budget and monophonic) and you get all the extended extras from the previous Blu-ray. As relevant as ever, you won't be sorry. If you have seen it, you know what I mean.

To order the Not Quite Hollywood Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link and other hard to find titles at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Monster, Mortuary)



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