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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Mystery > Giallo > Italian > Slasher > Satanism > The South > Religion > Relationships > E > Cat O'Nine Tails 4K (1971/MVD/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/A Day Of Judgment (1981*)/The Fourth Victim (1971*)/Invaders Of The Lost Gold (1982*)/Jurassic Hunt (2021/Lionsgate DVD)/Midnight (1980/*all MV

Cat O'Nine Tails 4K (1971/MVD/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/A Day Of Judgment (1981*)/The Fourth Victim (1971*)/Invaders Of The Lost Gold (1982*)/Jurassic Hunt (2021/Lionsgate DVD)/Midnight (1980/*all MVD/Severin Blu-rays)

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

Now for some interesting, independent thrillers, including some classics and a few more unusual than expected...

Dario Argento's Cat O'Nine Tails 4K (1971) is the iconic Italian director's second film after this quite successful first outing: The Bird with The Crystal Plumage (reviewed elsewhere on this site on various formats, including the new 4K edition from Arrow we just reviewed), and remains a fan favorite. This is the first time that the film is seeing a 4K remaster and it looks and sounds better than previous versions I can attest. This isn't my favorite Argento film, but it is still a pretty good one. His later work such as Suspiria, Opera, and Phenomena are much more colorful and violent than this earlier one, which feels a bit different in terms of cinematography. His attraction to killers is no different, however, but you can tell he was still finding his style footing with this one.

The film stars Karl Malden, Catherine Speak, James Franciscus, Pier Paolo Capproni, and Rada Rassimov.

The film centers on a newsman (Franciscus) who works with a blind but brilliant puzzle solver (Maiden) to catch a giallo killer whose connected to a pharmaceutical company's top secret experimental research projects. Once they get in the case a bit too deep, they themselves become a target!

Special Features:

Audio commentary by critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman

Nine Lives, an interview with co-writer/director Dario Argento

The Writer O' Many Tales, an interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti

Child Star, an interview with actress Cinzia De Carolis

Giallo in Turin, an interview with production manager Angelo Iacono

Script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time

Original Italian, international and US theatrical trailers

Illustrated collector's booklet featuring an original essay on the film by Dario Argento, and writing by Barry Forshaw, Troy Howarth and Howard Hughes

Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative

Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards

and Limited Edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring originally and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative.

It is a great set to go with the terrific 4K set Arrow just did on Bird with The Crystal Plumage and they have a similarly loaded 4K set on Argento's Deep Red coming up, so be expecting that next.

C.O.H. Reynolds' A Day Of Judgment (1981) has a slasher on the loose on a small town in the South in the 1930s, though the film is very heavy on churches and Bible quotes that do not always have any relevance to the thin plot. Made by a cast of unknowns regionally from a small production company that got a few films made, I had seen this film decades ago under odd circumstances and it is not just another slasher film from the slasher cycle. Instead, it is a pro-Christian propaganda film aimed at younger viewers warning them to repent or else!

Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the makers to repent from sloppy filmmaking as this 97 minutes of condescending filmmaking with break in between for some blood and horror, is just not that good and there is a reason its release stayed regional. It is just not that good, but a time capsule of such propaganda before it became more sophisticated, leading to the ultra-right wing domestic politics, brainwashing and baiting that we have now messing up the country and much more.

It may be flawed, dated and a time capsule of bad filmmaking, bad ideas and bad politics, not to even cover bad religious practices, but is just deadly dull with its flat acting, bad editing and is not that memorable save being insulting and sneaky as a work of insulting one's intelligence and arrogant at that. And this could have even been worse!

Extras include two featurettes: The Atheist's Sins with Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower and Tales of Judgement with filmmaker Worth Keeler and Writer Thom McIntyer.

Eugenio Martin's The Fourth Victim (1971) tries to do Hitchcock's Suspicion (et al) as a giallo with Carroll Baker as the fourth wife of a rich man (Michael Craig) whose previous three have died of supposedly natural causes. He is actually a killer, is it all a coincidence or is something wilder going on here?

The film has nice locales, is shot nicely and has a good pace thanks to its director, best known for his remarkable classic thriller Horror Express (see our coverage of the film finally saved and restored for Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) so it fits well with other psychological thriller giallos we've seen before and even if it is not the best of them, it is still pretty good and the supporting cast is a plus.

Oddly, despite so many thrillers like this being made at the time, including in Techniscope, this one somehow did not get picked up by a distributor in the U.S. at the time and that is like leaving money on the table. I thought it was ambitious and at least smart without condescending to its audience, something I cannot say about most thrillers we suffer through now, so its arrival on Blu-ray and making its English-language premiere on this disc is great news for serious film fans.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scene and featurette Eugenio Martin, Auteur with film scholar Carols Aguilar.

Alan Burkinshaw's Invaders Of The Lost Gold (1982) shows that all imitators of Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) were not medium to big budget imitators that looked fake-on-arrival. Made in the Philippines (the film actually takes place there in the plot, instead of the country standing in for another locale, fictional or otherwise) then moves to other locales. Starting in 1945 as WWII is ending, a group of Japanese Imperialists are transporting very valuable gold holding on foot in the jungle when they are attacked. The gold never makes it back to Japan, liberated or not.

Fast forward to the modern day and a guide (Hollywood veteran Stuart Whitman, never one to turn away from a genre film) is hired to help find and recuperate the treasure that has only skyrocketed in value. Woody Strode plays a man hired to help him and Harold Sakata (Oddjob from the 1964 James Bond classic Goldfinger) is again a villain. Add actor Edmund Purdom, Laura Gemser from the original Emmanuelle film and Glynis Barber from the hit U.K. TV show Dempsey and Makepeace and you've got a curio that has been talked about for decades.

I do not remember seeing it before and certainly not with this nudity and bloodletting (the violence is as fake as the fight scenes, but still...) and I can say it is not great, but keeps coming up with crazy little moments and unintentionally funny bits that makes it worth a look if you like exploitation films. Cheers to the actors trying to make this work to no avail, but it reminds us of how much more vibrant independent B-movie productions were at the time.

Extras include outtakes from the Machete Maidens Unleashed documentary (reviewed in its entirety elsewhere on this site) and Rumble In The Jungle on-camera interview with Director Alan Birkinshaw.

Jurassic Hunt (2021)... You can tell from the title and box art that this is a low budget Jurassic World rip-off and the result after watching it is just about as bad as it sounds. This is low budget attempting to be high budget, and the result is a painfully tacky genre movie that doesn't even make time to create its own interesting dinosaurs, it rips off the Spielberg's dinosaur designs to a painful degree. The raptors and other dinosaurs look like a Playstation 2 rendering and nothing close to being polished. The acting is painfully bad and while this story would allow a change for a wide variety of fun characters instead wastes it's time with heavy exposition. A few nice drone shots though so points there?

The story centers on a group of hunters who pay top dollar to hunt down dinosaurs. Soon they get picked off one by one until only the strong survive. All in all, the story could work with a bigger cast and better special effects. I feel like there's a good movie hidden within this screenplay, but it just didn't translate well onscreen.

The film stars Tarkan Dospil, Motown Maurice, Joston Theney, and Antuone Torbert. The film is directed by Hank Braxtan.

No extras.

This is like a Jurassic World fan film got wrong. If you don't mind special effects akin to Birdemic only with dinosaurs then you may enjoy this tough watch. It has an interesting concept, but the execution is as 'stinky' as T-rex doo doo.

Finally, we have filmmaker John Russo's Midnight (1980) based on a novel he wrote. A long associate of George Romero and Tom Savini, it is really one of the last indie horror products of the 1970s and has its style, as well as essentially becoming another odd attempt to revisit Texas Chain Saw Massacre territory. That's a shame, because the Satanic beginning promises to deliver some real creepy moments throughout the film, but the later part of the film never recaptures that in theme or atmosphere, so what then works in between is the tale of two friends in a van (John Hall, C. Anthony Jackson) on their way to take a cross-country trip from North of Pittsburgh to California, when they pick up a female hitchhiker (Melanie Verlin).

They joke around, go shoplifting and we have some nice, amusing moments, then they take the wrong turn and get captured by the Satanists by driving up the road where they live. A police officer (Hollywood legend Lawrence Tierney) also gets involved, but the film loses its flow as soon as they take that ill-fated turn. It is very smoothly made otherwise and easily matches more expensive such films, looking better than most such HD shoots now, so it will remain a curio.

John Ampas from Romero's Martin also stars.

Extras include a Radio Spot, Original Theatrical Trailer, Isolated Score Selection with audio commentary by Composer Mike Mazzai and four interview featurettes: Making Midnight (John Russo), Producing Midnight (Samuel W. Sherman), Midnight Killer (John Ampas) and Small Favors (Tom Savini).

Now for playback performance. Cat O'Nine Tails 4K is presented in 2.35 X 1, 2160p on 4K Ultra HD disc with Dolby Vision, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image and the restored original lossless PCM 2.0 Mono Italian and English soundtracks, all of which paint a beautiful restoration and image on the 4K UHD format. If you're a fan of the film you will want to pick up this definitive edition as the image bests previous Blu-ray releases in terms of image clarity and color spectrum.

It was shot in two-perf Techniscope and issued in 35mm Technicolor prints, just like The Fourth Victim, which is here in a decent 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition transfer in a new 2K scan of the original 35mm negative. It does a pretty good job of approximating a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film, though maybe 4K would have put it more on par with Bird above. Still, it is better than several Techniscope films where the transfer was badly mis-transferred and/or tampered with after the fact. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is a little rough and as good as it is likely to be in English, but the Italian version is so low in volume and with a few other issues that I would say be careful of high volume playback and volume switching.

Judgment and Invaders are both here in 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers that can show the age of the materials used from their new 2K transfers, but Judgment is a bit softer and rougher, just not that well shot or edited and nothing any transfer can do will fix that. It is at least color consistent. Invaders has some nice shots throughout and has aged well, The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes also show their age and Judgment is rougher than it should be, but again, a lack of experience and some sloppy work cannot be fixed once it is baked in. Invaders has some dubbing and just has dated sound often, but at least it is not as rough.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Midnight again looks surprisingly good with nice detail, a new 4K scan that shows how professional this shoot was. Color is also very consistent and narrowly edges out all but Tails as the best presentation visually of all the releases here. The sound is usually well recorded, so we get both DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo and upgraded 5.1 lossless mixes, but the 5.1 is not too convincing, especially when some of the sound elements sound flat, dull and even monophonic. Otherwise, this plays well for an independent production of its time.

Lastly, Jurassic Hunt is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The transfer looks about as good as it can on DVD with some compression issues evident. I don't think an HD production would help the lackluster effects much, but maybe make them look even worse honestly.

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



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