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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Serial Killer > Murder > Ireland > Horror > Slasher > Action > Suspense > Canada > Born For Hell (1975*)/House On Sorority Row (1983/MVD Blu-ray)/Siege (1982*)/Skinned Deep (2003/*all Severin Blu-rays)/Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (2021/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

Born For Hell (1975*)/House On Sorority Row (1983/MVD Blu-ray)/Siege (1982*)/Skinned Deep (2003/*all Severin Blu-rays)/Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (2021/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

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

For a creepy, bizarre set of horror releases, read on...

We start with an older film that is somewhat ambitious and reminds us of how new the idea of a serial killer was at the time. Denis Heroux's Born For Hell (1975) takes the horrible murders of Richard Speck and transplants them in Belfast, Ireland. The variant of that serial killer here (Matthew Carriere, effective enough here) arrives from elsewhere, but we eventually cannot tell if he is telling the truth or not. Arriving in Belfast with a terrorist explosion in a local church he luckily survives, he starts making the rounds in town.

He eventually finds a place with student nurses who turn him on to kill and more, thus beginning the additional terror in the story.

The violence can be hard for some to watch, but the makers are trying to make a link with unrest in the world (Vietnam, Irish conflict, Israel/Palestinian conflict, etc.) by showing such events prominently on various TVs in the film. Unfortunately, that is all the link made, then we get the violent side of things. Of course, we get it, but now that the serial killer concept in real life and fiction is as common as zombies, the shock is gone.

Still, despite some dated aspects of the film like that, it has some ambitions to be taken somewhat more seriously than a mere genre film, but the results are mixed at this point. Playing some of the nurses are Debra Berger (Inglorious Bastards), Leonora Fani (Giallo In Venice), Ely Galleani (Baba Yaga), Christine Boisson (the original Emmanuelle) and Carole Laure (Sweet Movie). In all this, the acting is not bad, sometimes better than the film.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers have some flaws and show the age of the film in parts, including slight dirt, but this is very color accurate from the 2K scan of the original 35mm camera negative, so detail is good and interesting. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) French and English 2.0 Mono lossless sound is as good as it can sound, with the French being the original sound and English being the dub with a lack of sound effects only present on the other track.

Extras include the Italian Original Theatrical Trailer, six Making Of featurettes (The Other Side Of The Mirror interview with Actor Matthew Carriere, Nightmare In Chicago interviewing filmmakers John McNaughton and Gary Sherman about the real serial killer Richard Speck, A New Kind Of Crime with podcaster Esther Ludlow discussing Speck, Bombing Here, Shooting There video essay by filmmaker Chris O'Neill, Artist Joe Coleman discussing Speck and Inside The Odditorium again with Coleman) and Naked Massacre, the U.S. video release version of the film.

The horror cult classic is on Blu-ray again, this time courtesy of MVD Visual and part of the MVD Rewind Collection, The House on Sorority Road (1983) remains a fun time capsule piece and an interesting and fun murder tale full of twists and turns. Watching it now, it's severely dated and some of the special effects don't hold up as well as one would hope, but it's still a charming and welcome addition to '80s horror collector's libraries.

The film stars Kathryn McNeil (Sudden Death), Eileen Davidson (Days of Our Lives), Harley Jane Kozak (Arachnophobia) and Jean Schertler (Runaway Bride).

A group of sorority girls in the 1980s end up killing their House Master by mistake when she doesn't agree to their intentions of having a Graduation party. When they attempt to dump her body in a pool, and the outrageous party begins her body goes missing... and the girls start dying left and right by the hand of a mysterious killer.

The House on Sorority Row is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, and paired with a lossless LPCM 2.0 stereo sound mix and an alternate version of the film with director approved pre-credit sequence with an LPCM 2.0 (48kHz, 16-bit) mono audio mix. The film still doesn't look perfect even in this release and still has a SD kinda look to it. This could be due to an aging, some style choices and/or imperfect master, but this also helps bring a nostalgic flair to the film that's fun and almost adds to the experience.

Special Features are courtesy of Scorpion Releasing and include:

Audio Commentary #1 with director Mark Rosman

Audio commentary #2 with director Mark Rosman and stars Eileen Davidson and Kathryn McNeil

Interviews with cast and crew including: Director Mark Rosman, stars Harley Jane Kozak, Eileen Davidson and Kathryn McNeil, Composer Richard Band and Producer Igo Kantor

Original Pre-Credit Sequence

Alternate ending storyboards

TV Spots

Theatrical Trailer

Reversible Artwork

Collectible Mini-Poster

and Limited Edition Retro Slip Cover - FIRST PRESSING ONLY!

Paul Donovan & Maura O'Connell's Siege (1982) is trying to be a Canadian answer to John Carpenter's original Assault On Precinct 13, but instead, the police go on strike for higher wages (guess they decided not to work while negotiations were in progress?) and that means small groups of troublemakers get nuttier and start committing crimes more in the open and more often.

This is also based on an actual strike that happened in Halifax, but the style (down to some of the poster art on the Blu-ray case) just screams Carpenter. So this focuses on an apartment building where the residents with no expectation they would ever have to deal with any violence have to defend themselves against a group of particularly bad criminals. The shorter version shows it age and looks cheaper than the longer version which I would recommend you see first if you catch this one.

Problems still exist with some so-so-acting, some bad dialogue and some mixed pacing, but being set in Canada makes it a little more interesting because a different look results and that makes for an interesting and slightly unusual viewing to its advantage. Doug Lennox (Breaking Point), Tom Nardini (Cat Ballou), Jack Blum (Happy Birthday To Me) and Keith Knight (the original My Bloody Valentine) lead the cast.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used in parts, but this looks good in both cuts and also makes for as nice time capsule. Color is very accurate in this new 2K scan from the original 35mm negative. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless sound shows its age and the low budget of the film, including the limits of the location audio, but it has been remastered as well as possible and will probably never sound better.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track with Co-Director Paul Donovan & Filmmaker Jason Eisener, an Original Theatrical Trailer and both cuts of the film.

Gabriel Bartalos's Skinned Deep (2003) is a very belated entry into the slice-and-dice world of killers with a certain costume, look and way of killing. So tired this all was at this point, the film has an odd sense of humor, but it is hard to tell when they are laughing and they do not know how unintentionally funny or bad this all is. Three decades after the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, you can pretty much know what to expect for the long, long 98 minutes this runs.

This time, a family gets stuck in a small town with strange strangers and it includes the killer we see in action in the opening sequence of this film. From there, it gets dull and is obvious as it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, blood and guts included. Warwick Davis is wasted as an assistant to the main killer who has zigzag steel teeth as part of his active death mask. Famous Monsters Magazine publisher and film scholar Forrest J. Ackerman also shows up, but it too late to do anything with him either. Playing like an on auto pilot slasher film trying to get as many horror magazine covers as possible, there is nothing 'deep' about this one and is only for the very, very, very curious.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer may be a newer production, but the new transfer shows more flaws than expected, sometimes even sloppiness in the way it was produced. Color is accurate. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix can sound too forward or oddly loud, but it is inconsistent either way. The result is a bizarre combination 'worthy' of the film.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track with cast & crew, archival Making Of featurette, Original Theatrical Trailer and a new Deep Cuts Making Of featurette with Writer/Producer/Director Gabe Bartalos, Actors Jason Dugre & Karoline Brandt and Weapons Machinist Jake Lee.

Finally, the SAW franchise continues with Spiral (2021), which changes up the formula and spins it into a detective story starring Chris Rock, whose most known for more comedic roles. Taking more than a little inspiration from David Fincher's Se7en, and also featuring Samuel L. Jackson, the film is more entertaining than previous tired installments, but can't be saved from a highly predictable and silly twist that's aided by anti-police propaganda that you are beat over the head with until the film's conclusion.

A tortured cop (Rock) is on the pursuit of a cop killing serial killer who mimics the actions of the (thought to be dead) Jigsaw Killer. Digging into Rock's personal life and involving his Father (Jackson) as well, the once thought closed book of Saw seems to be open once again.

The film also stars Marisol Nichols, Max Minghella, Tobin Bell, Nazneen Contractor, and Josh Stolberg to name a few with direction by Darren Lynn Bousman.

Spiral is presented in 2160p native 4K with an HEVC/H.265 codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35 X 1, and audio mixes in lossless English Dolby Atmos, and English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). Being a newer film, it looks stunning on the 4K UHD format, and leaves little to be desired in terms of presentation. There's also a 1080p Blu-ray version of the film included as well that looks fine for the format.

Special Features:

Audio Commentaries

The Consequences of your actions: Creating Spiral Featurette

Drawing Inspiration: Trap Breakdowns

and Trailers

The SAW movies have never really been more than torture films, and in this regard, there are some pretty inventive deaths in Spiral. Chris Rock makes for a more fun than usual lead in a film of this kind, but feels out of place in some instances. This is a movie you will either really enjoy or really hate, depending on your own personal and semi political views presented within.

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



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