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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Satanism > Murder > Mystery > Demonic Possession > Science Fiction > Thriller > Cr > Beyond Darkness (1990* )/Old 4K (2021/Shyamalan/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Retribution (1987/*both Severin Blu-rays w/CDs)/Warning (2021/Lionsgate)/The Window (1949/RKO/Warner Archive Bl

Beyond Darkness (1990* )/Old 4K (2021/Shyamalan/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Retribution (1987/*both Severin Blu-rays w/CDs)/Warning (2021/Lionsgate)/The Window (1949/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Window Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for some mystery thrillers in time for Halloween....

Claudio Fragrasso's Beyond Darkness (1990) has the Italian Troll 2 director in the U.S. with a Satanic Possession thriller about a reverend haunted by a recently executed child killer who loves Satan and comes back to haunt him and his family when they move into a newly-purchased house. That gives it a child-in-jeopardy issue, but the vengeful killer also has captured the souls of the group of children she took over. That is a very heavy, ugly situation that seems more like an Italian horror film or a bold indie horror B-movie in the U.S., but that is how dark this is.

Yet, it also is repeating too much we have seen in the genre before film films like The Exorcist, The Omen, The Beyond, Poltergeist and a few others. Considering it was made long after such films had their best cycle years before, you can see why it decided to go overboard in other ways. Effects are not bad, acting not bad (Gene LeBrock, David Brandon, Barbara Bingham and Michael Stevenson make up the main cast), music score effective and the look different, but it was only so memorable and only worth a look for serious horror fans who want to be completists. The title was changed to 'Evil Dead 5' overseas, but it has no such sardonic humor.

The one other reason to recommend it it it does pull off a consistent and dim atmosphere that helps it get over even its obvious parts, something we do not see in such film much these days. Now you can see for yourself.

Extras include a CD soundtrack, while the discs add Beyond Possession: Interview With Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso, The Devil In Mrs. Drudi: Interview With Co-Writer Rossella Drudi, Sign Of The Cross: Interview With Actor David Brandon and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

MNight Shyamalan's Old 4K (2021) is the latest formula film from the talented-but-self-limiting director who was once being touted as another Spielberg (a goofy notion) and thought his hits would never end. Instead, he quickly ran into formula (though some people like his idea of a superhero film, I thought they were limited and overrated too despite some actors I like) and his approach eventually collapsed into the disaster known as The Happening.

The other issue is that his films kept implying some mysterious disaster (a different one for each film) was not only coming, but would quietly befall the entire world, often without them knowing it or knowing it after it was too late. In the post-COVID-19 era, it all rings as hollow now as it did for myself from the beginning (not even taking The Sixth Sense seriously, ever) and thus, I finds the title of this new film highly ironic, especially when the director's name is added.

In the actual film, several families are visiting a nice, sunny, beautiful, clean beach to have their vacations and though we have global warming and high depletion of the ozone layer, what happens to them is worse than sunburn or skin cancer. They suddenly start to age many years in only a few hours, sometimes killing them. How and why? Not enough sun screen? Is it aliens? A timeslip? A bad dream?

As usual in Shyamalan films, it is presented as supernatural or surreal for the majority of the film and then later, maybe, another alternate explanation is offered (never as good as a better Twilight Zone episode) and it never works. Some viewers may wish the mystification stayed and no 'realistic explanation' was revealed, but more often because the reveal is just so bad, not just because they want to enjoy being in the clouds.

The cast (looking like they are trying to remake either Lost, Gilligan's Island or both!) includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicki Kreips, Rufus Sewell (of Dark City fame,) Alex Wolff, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung, Embeth Davitz, Thomasin McKenzie and others keeping the odd tone going throughout without fail. Too bad that cannot save yet another dud.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the discs add (per the press release) DELETED SCENES, SHYAMALAN FAMILY BUSINESS - We look at what Night's two daughters, Ishana and Saleka, contributed to the film and how collaborating with family made filming outside Philadelphia still feel like home, ALL THE BEACH IS A STAGE - Shooting a film in a wide-open space is challenging because angles have to be created, much like theatre. Night explains the significance of his camera movements and the cast discuss the unique experience of filming without coverage, NIGHTMARES IN PARADISE - When making a film like OLD, finding the right shooting location is everything. Hear the story of why Night took the production to the Dominican Republic and how Mother Nature both challenged and helped the production and A FAMILY IN THE MOMENT - Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Thomasin McKenzie and Alex Wolff recount one very special, emotional night of filming that brought them closer than they ever imagined.

Guy Magar's Retribution (1987) has a wild concept where two different men (one a passive man (suffering manic depression?) and the other a killer criminal,) both born at the same time, die at the same time, then come back to fight each other in the same man. OK. The passive man tries to kill himself and when he fails, the killer starts possessing him. Filled with lots of latex make-up and optical effects, it is a mixed bag, but a very ambitious film just the same, yet too convoluted to really work. That did not stop them from making and completing it.

In that, it needs all the exposition it can get, so the longer Dutch version that has not been as seen actually works better, so its great Severin has been able to get both versions and given this a 2K restoration that makes the film look about as good as it possibly can. The cast of Dennis Lipscomb, Leslie Wing, Suzanna Snyder and Hoyt Axton gives it their all to keep this going and I was impressed at the times it did work. The night shooting is a plus and though it does not all hold together when all is said and done, it is more ambitious than most films in its genre are today, which is the best reason to revisit it.

Extras include a CD soundtrack, while the discs add Audio Commentary With Co-Writer/Director Guy Magar on the Extended Dutch Video Release Version and the Theatrical Version offers Writing Wrongs: Interview With Co-Writer Lee Wasserman, Shock Therapy: Interview With Actress Leslie Wing, Angel's Heart: Interview With Actress Suzanne Snyder, Santa Maria, Mother Of God, Help Me!: Interview With Actor Mike Muscat, Settling The Score: Interview With Soundtrack Composer Alan Howarth, Visions Of Vengeance: Interview With Special Effects Artist John Eggett, The Art Of Getting Even: Interview With Artist Barry Fahr, Living In Oblivion: Interview With Production Designer Robb Wilson King, BINGO: Student Short By Guy Magar with Optional Director Commentary, an Original Theatrical Trailer, Stills & Poster Gallery and Reversible Artwork.

Agata Alexander's Warning (2021) is an interesting attempt to do a thriller where technology is so over-prevalent, there is not room for people to be human and too much has been surrenders to technology, which all gets thrown off when a worldwide storm hits and starts affecting all electronics. The cast is more impressive than expected, including Alice Eve, Thomas Jane and Alex Pettyfer, all underrated actors who deserve ambitious material like this.

Visual effects and sound effects are not bad in design, but the film gives us some good and interesting ideas, only to interrupt them with wasted spaces and off moments. One of the saddest is that religion has been totally corporatized and you have to 'subscribe to God' including a free version and upgrades that you have to pay extra for. The film does achieve a convincing coldness and is worth a look for the cast and things that do work. Too bad they did not have more money and one more rewrite, as they were that close to at least a minor classic.

Digital Copy and a trailer are the only extras.

Ted Tetzlaff's The Window (1949) is based on a Cornell Woolrich story of a young child (Bobby Driscoll, on loan from Disney at the time for this film) who tells many tall tales, but it is a hot summer and his parents can only take so much. Soon after his latest made-up follies, his mom lets him sleep on the fire escape (!) and when he moves up a flight of steps, he is near another apartment where he actually witnesses a murder!

Of course, no one believes him, not just because of his lying for attention, but because he is a child and it was common in that era for children to 'be seen and not heard' which is dealt with to some extent in the screenplay. But he is a witness and when the male/female couple who did the killing find out he was actually there, they form a plot to stop him.

This is not bad for a short B-movie that has Film Noir elements, even with a child-in-jeopardy, but he is somewhat resourceful, so he is not as much of a sitting duck or victim in a plus for the film, which later inspired Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954, see our 4K review elsewhere on this site) but the two films do not have as many similarities as you might think.

Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman make up the rest of the solid cast and those interested should still catch this, but expect a little political incorrectness in the beginning.

There are sadly no extras.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K version of Old looks the best of all the releases here, shot on 35mm film and with fine, consistent color, detail and depth, yet despite the higher 12-bit color of Dolby Vision, the film still has a sort of oddly flat look. The 1080p is not as good with lesser brightness and color, but it is passable. The Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) has the best sound here too, but it is not always active (Shyamalan's films always have their share of silence) and is on both disc versions.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image on Darkness has a slightly faded look, partly due to the styling of the film, yet some of it might not be, so expect the look to be very prominent, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix in Italian is not strong, but more authentic than the English dub that is not very convincing.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on both version of Retribution look pretty good, but the optical printing work for visual effects look grainy and age the film the most. Fortunately, the film is one of the now-rare films totally shot on Fuji 35mm negative color film. A competitor (with Agfa, who like Fuji, no longer makes motion picture film of any kind, sadly) gives the film a unique color pallet that gives it a added dimension of otherness. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix is from the old Dolby System A-type noise reduction soundmaster and decodes well (try Pro Logic or one of its variants for home theater owners) and sound pretty good for a low budget film its age. The combination is more impressive than you might think.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Warning is our only HD shoot here and is a little softer than expected, CGI visuals not withstanding. Color and the look are not bad overall. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix has its moments, but has an inconsistent soundfield and a few other minor detail limits. Otherwise, this is watchable enough.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Window can show the age of the film at times, but it usually looks pretty good and the restoration is yet another volatile RKO film saved pretty well. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is also a little better than expected, even when it shows its age, you can hear the audio with more warmth and clarity than expected. This will likely never sound better.

To order The Window Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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