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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Gothic > Supernatural > Sex > Erotic > Horror > Italy > Crime > Serial Killer > TV > Surrealism > Japa > An Angel For Satan (1966/Severin*)/The Blacklist: The Complete Eighth Season (2020 - 2021/Sony DVD Set)/Blind Beast (1969/Arrow*)/Death Screams (1982/aka House Of Death/Arrow*)/Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's

An Angel For Satan (1966/Severin*)/The Blacklist: The Complete Eighth Season (2020 - 2021/Sony DVD Set)/Blind Beast (1969/Arrow*)/Death Screams (1982/aka House Of Death/Arrow*)/Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War (1996/*all MVD Blu-rays)/Waxworks (1924/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: B/B-/B+/B+/B+/B & C+ Sound: B-/B-/B+/B+/B+/B & C+ Extras: B/C+/B/B/D/B Main Programs: C+/B/C/C/C-/B-

Now for some thrillers loaded with horror and mystery that try to do more than the usual releases in the genre, whether they succeed or not...

We start with Barbara Steele's final Gothic Horror film from her prolific Italian period, Camillo Mastrocinque's An Angel For Satan (1966) revolves around a mysterious statue that has been dug up from the bottom of a local Italian lake, misfortune starts to befall everyone starting with the two sailors who brought it back. It is supernaturally cursed and if so, can this nightmare be reversed?

Well, it certainly releases repression (from violence, to sex and more) in people all over the small town and a madness slowly starts to build up as well. Part mood piece, I like the look of the film, along with its sets, costumes and locales, but it also sacrifices some exposition and narrative to achieve this and that holds the film back a bit. Otherwise, it does come at the end of many such gothic monochrome (melo)dramas and it is amazing it took this long for the film to arrive on video. Not originally issued in the U.S., it is great the film survived and we can now all appreciate what the makers did pull off.

Also helping are the solid supporting cast including Claudio Gora, Anthony Steffan and Marina Berti, faces fans of the genres this film covers are familiar with and you may have seen before, even if you did not know who they were. Definitely consider this one worth a good look.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film, which was not widely released. It is a good-looking film and has one other special thing going for it. It is one of the all-too-rare monochromatic films to be shot on DuPont 35mm black and white negative film, a high quality film, stock the company produced (in various ASA/ISO light sensitivities) known for its high quality and made until about 1973, when the company got out of the film business asa color took over (they contributed to the remarkable but sadly underused three-strip TruColor format, but it went by the wayside by the 1960s) and it is very distinct.

Director of Photography Giuseppi Aquari makes the most of its strengths and versus other monochrome stocks they could have shot in at the time (Kodak, Agfa, Ferrania, Ansco, Ilford, ORWO, etc.) and it tends to retain a little more silver than most, so the film black is inkier, yet it still retains more detail than you might expect from later black and white film (Kubrick had pushed such film to the limit in Dr. Strangelove (1964) while Godard made overexposure part of the look of Alphaville (1965, only using Ilford film) for the dark, near future police state of its plot. This impressive restoration now easily stands as an outstanding example of how excellent DuPont movie film was and could be, along with the large-frame VistaVision films that originated on it in the 1950s. Serious film, fans have to see this!

The PCM 2.0 Mono in mixed English and much better, original Italian lossless sound including the music and sound effects, so watching the Italian with subtitles offers the best impact and has also been restored as well as possible. I doubt the film will ever sound better than it does here.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and an extended version of it with the missing part lacking any audio, an outstanding Feature-Length Audio Commentary track with Actress Barbara Steele, Film Scholar & Horror Historian David Del Valle and Severin Films' David Gregory in a great must-hear track to watch after seeing the film, a second Audio Commentary with Kat Ellinger (Author of Daughters of Darkness) with a different approach to covering the film that goes out of the way to not be a typical or robotic track, The Devil Statue on-camera interview with actor Vassili Karis (Italian with English subtitles) and Pierre Andre's Venus In Furs film: Barbara & Her Furs (9:27 in 1080p) in French with English subtitles starring Steele and offering a brief audio commentary by her.

Next, the explosive Eighth Season of The Blacklist (2020 - 2021) lands on home video. Starring the infamous James Spader in his iconic role as Raymond ''Red'' Reddington, a former most wanted fugitive that decides to work with the government in tracking down a sacred black list of mobsters, terrorists, and various fugitives. In this season, he goes against profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) who is his equal in many ways.

The series is created by Jon Bokenkamp and has won several primetime Emmy Awards. The series also stars Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix, Amir Arison, Laura Sohn, and Hisham Tawfiq.

22 Episodes span 5 DVDs and include include Roanoke, Katarina Rostova: Conclusion, 16 Ounces, Elizabeth Keen, The Fribourg Confidence, The Wellstone Agency, Chemical Mary, Ogden Greeley, the Cyranoid, Dr. Laken Perillos, Captain Kidd, Rakitin, Anne, Misere, The Russian Knot, Nicholas Obenrader, Ivan Stepanov, The Protean, Balthazar ''Bino'' Baker, Godwin Page, Nachalo, and Konets.

The Blacklist is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition on DVD commercial and watermark free here with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, both of which prove to be a more immersive experience than watching it on streaming or broadcast television. The show is shot pretty well and feels more cinematic than your usual series.

Special Features include:

Deleted Scenes

Blooper Reel

and a few featurettes

Blind Beast (1969) is another bizarre piece of Japanese erotic cinema from the time that pits a blind artist against a model that he is obsessed with. The more the woman model is punished and made as the centerpiece for his work, the more attracted to him she becomes as she adopts his ideals of touch being his pathway to pleasure.

From director Yasuzo Masumura (who made a few Gamera films), Blind Beast is considered a masterwork of cinema from the time and has a surreal and bizarre sexual overtone to it despite its artsy premise and execution. While it wasn't really my personal thing, I can see those who enjoy films like Irezumi or Horrors of Malfromed Men enjoying this.

Blind Beast is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossless Japanese LPCM Mono (48kHz, 24-bit) mix. The film looks and sounds fantastic on the Blu-ray format and certainly has never looked this good on previous releases as the color grade was done by Arrow in this new restoration.

Special Features:

Brand new audio commentary by Asian cinema scholar Earl Jackson

Newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns

Blind Beast: Masumura the Supersensualist, a brand new visual essay by Japanese literature and visual studies scholar Seth Jacobowitz

Original Trailer / Image Gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Virginie Selavy.

He wants your body... in pieces!

Death Screams (aka House of Death, 1982) is another Z grade '80s slasher that hasn't seen the light of day in decades and has now gotten a nice Arrow release. While the film has some indie budgeted '80s charm, there isn't anything too special about it as it seems to be more or less made in an effort to cash in on the success of movies like Friday the 13th that were hot at the time. There's not really anyone you will recognize in this, unless you're a fan of the Earl Owensby films of the North Carolina scene from around this time. If so then you'll also notice that Worth Keeter (director of several Owensby productions) was the head of special effects on this.

A murderer goes on a rampage on an unsuspecting town during a town carnival. As several characters go about their daily business, two corpses are floating downstream... The film is directed by David Nelson and stars Martin Tucker, Jody Kay, Hanns Manship, and Susan Kiger to name a few.

Death Screams is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and a lossless English LPCM Mono mix. The film itself looks pretty good and has been restored nicely as this is likely the first release of this film since the VHS era.

Special Features:

Brand new audio commentary with producer Charles Ison and special effects artist Worth Keeter moderated by filmmaker Phil Smoot

Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues

All the Fun of the Scare: The Making of Death Screams - newly-produced making-of documentary featuring interviews with producer Charles Ison, special effects artist Worth Keeter, writer Paul Elliott, actors Hanns Manship and Curt Rector, actor/producer's assistant/assistant supervising editor Sharon Alley and actor/talent wrangler Robert "Billy Bob" Melton

TV and Radio Spots

Image Galleries

House of Death Alternate VHS Opening Titles

Two versions of the screenplay under the original title of Night Screams [BD-ROM content]

Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork and a newly-commissioned reimagining of the original VHS artwork by Sadist Art Designs presented with die-cut slipcover

and a Fully-Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by Brian Albright

The pre-Matrix cyber sci-fi thriller, Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War (1996) has a feel that only a bad '90s genre movie could have. We have seen this same icky look in films like Super Mario Bros. and Double Dragon. While pretty cheesy, at the same time the film isn't without some interesting imaginative moments and some cool production design. The seed of a Hollywood blockbuster is there, but it doesn't ever quite sprout. In short, the film is an absolute cheesy mess that pretty much put the nail in the coffin on the franchise and doesn't involve Pierce Brosnan or any of the original film's masterminds. The first film in the series is still a guilty pleasure for some and was a big money maker for New Line Cinema back in the day. If you are a fan of this failed sequel, however, it does look quite nice on this new Blu-ray release from Ronin Flix.

The film stars Austin O' Brien, Matt Frewer, Patrick Bergin, Ely Pouget, Kevin Conway, and Camille Cooper.

Jobe (Frewer) is an evil computer consciousness that seeks world domination. It's up to a group of rag tag computer engineers to thwart the villainous world domination plot up against a futuristic '90s setting.

Lawnmower Man 2 is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and audio mixes in lossless, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo (48kHz, 24-bit) as choices, depending on your home theater setup. The transfer is very nice and clean and presents the film as best it can look on the Blu-ray format.

No extras.

Finally, we have Paul Leni's final silent German film before he headed to Hollywood, the Expressionist Horror classic Waxworks (1924) which is an anthology film (of sorts) that features three separate tales (originally intended to be four of them, but money ran out!) tied to a wax museum and its terrible, horrifying secret. William Dieterle is the young man (yes, the future director started as an actor) is hired by the museum's owners to write back stories for three of the figures (Werner Kruss as Jack The Ripper, Emil Jannings as Captain Haroun-al-Rashid and Conrad Veidt as Ivan The Terrible) despite their infamous crimes being well known for the most part.

The results are creepy, visually arresting, effective, dense and still impresses after nearly a century, which is why it has been often imitated (including in the form of a few more classics) and is one of the great German Expressionist films. This is the most complete version of the film I have ever seen and its almost total restoration (some parts are still missing) shows how creative and clever so many of the people here were. Some parts have obviously aged and some parts are more effective than others, but the film has had a legendary reputation and now more than ever, you can see why. A true classic, Horror fans and all film fans need to mark it down as a must-see!

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white (with tinting) digital High Definition image transfer 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 stunning restoration work that has been done here started in 4K and finished in 2K from the best surviving sources. It must have been painstaking work to get this saved and cleaned up without ruining the original intent or amazing work done almost 100 years ago as we post, so expect to be surprised and impressed.

The two DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless music-only mixes on the Blu-ray are fine, but neither stood out too strongly for me either, playing about evenly well.

The 1.33 X 1 DVD with lossy Dolby Digital Stereo is passable and fine for the old format, but is no match for the impressive Blu-ray presentation.

Extras are impressive and include another high-quality Collector's Edition Souvenir Booklet Limited Edition) featuring new essays by Phillip Kemp and Richard Combs on the film's history and significance; notes on the restoration process by Julia Wallmuller (Deutsche Kinemathek); and rarely seen production photographs and promotional material, while the discs add a Feature-Length Audio Commentary Track by Australian film and arts critic Adrian Martin, Paul Leni's Rebus-Films Nr. 1-8 (Courtesy of Kino/Lorber,) these Leni-helmed cinematic crossword puzzles were originally screened in 1920s German cinemas as featurettes accompanying the main film. Each of these animated shorts was split into two parts: a clue and an answer, and presented before and after the feature presentation, In Search Of the original version of Paul Leni's Das Wachsfigurenkabinett offers an interview with Julia Wallmuller (Deutsche Kinemathek) based on her presentation after the premiere of the restored film at Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna 2020, and A Conversation with Kim Newman delivers another in-depth interview with journalist, film critic, and fiction writer Kim Newman, discussing the legacy of Waxworks.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Satan, Waxworks) and James Lockhart



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