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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Outer Space > Camp > Italy > Horror > Teens > Comedy > Graphic Novel Comic Book > Anthol > Battle Of The Worlds (1961/Film Detective*)/Hell High (1989/Arrow*)/Men In Black 4K (1997/Steelbook/Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Monsterland: Season One (2020/Via Vision Region Free PAL Import

Battle Of The Worlds (1961/Film Detective*)/Hell High (1989/Arrow*)/Men In Black 4K (1997/Steelbook/Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Monsterland: Season One (2020/Via Vision Region Free PAL Import DVD)/Vampire's Kiss (1988/*all MVD Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Monsterland Import DVD set is now only available from our friends at Via Vision Entertainment in Australia, can only play on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD players that can handle the PAL DVD format and can be ordered from the link below.

This set of genre releases certainly represents an interesting mix....

Antonio Margheriti's Battle Of The Worlds (1961) is one of the outer space adventure travel movies we would get from time to time from Hollywood, Japan, the USSR or in this case, Italy. Because it received decent distribution in its time, repeated TV broadcast and curio interest as the late, great Claude Rains (The Invisible Man, Lawrence Of Arabia) as the big star here, as the brilliant scientist who will lead a space crew on a trip to capture an unusual asteroid on the loose he has dubbed 'The Outsider' and if he is correct about all of his many calculations, it could change the course of humanity forever!

Well, the script cannot deliver that much excitement, intellectuality and innovation, but it is ambitious enough like Destination Moon and some other pre-2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) space films that at least tried to be more than a mere space opera. Can the brilliant professor of science succeed? Well, you'll have to see just exactly what happens, but as a B-movie with a difference, any serious film fan or sci-fi fan should see this one at least once. What wears away in age and low budget, it gains in charm, fun and you'll get a kick out of the model work. The overall look of the film is also uniquely amusing, so that alone is a reason to see it.

Writer Ennio De Concini actually has quite a filmography of memorable writing for choice feature films including Divorce Italian Style, Devil in The Flesh, The Evil Eye, The Bastard, The Red Tent, Madam Kitty, Black Sunday with Barbara Steele, War & Peace with Audrey Hepburn and Ulysses with Anthony Quinn, so you can see any profound questions being asked are not just corny or a spoof, but an attempt to raise this to a level above most B-movies. Note that some of those films ran into interesting controversies, but that's a good thing here.

The supporting cast is also not bad, with Umberto Orsini, Bill Carter, Maya Brent, Jacqueline Derval and Renzo Palmer adding to the uniqueness of the film, so definitely give it a good look, especially now that it has been saved!

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used here and there, but this is a really good restoration, especially considering it is an orphan film and is a 4K scan from an archival 35mm print that makes it look better than I have ever seen it over the years. Apparently, this was released in dye-transfer 35mm Technicolor in countries like Italy, but not necessarily in the United States, where it was issued in simple Eastman Kodak 35mm color prints, et al. Either way, the wild, different and purposely weird and odd color was set on set with its unusual lighting throughout and this copy captures that very well. Some shots are softer than others and who knows where the original camera negative is, but this works very well and will not disappoint genre fans, fans of campiness or fans of the film. The very capable Director of Cinematography Marcello Masciocchi delivers some of the more interesting work of a really good career.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is as good as the film can be with this low a budget and a theatrical mono release in its time, but sonics are limited, so don't expect modern clarity throughout. Still, the audio remastering is not bad and music score by Mario Migliardi (Matalo! (Kill Him), The Price Of Death, Shoot The Living and Pray For The Dead) is appropriately experimental and holds up better than you might expect.

Extras include another nicely illustrated booklet on the film as we always get from Film Detective, including informative text and an solid essay by Don Stradley, while the disc adds a consistent feature length audio commentary track by Justin Humphreys and a really good, half-hour long video program on outer space films and the director fo this one by the amazing film scholar and superfan Tim Lucas called A Cinematic Outsider: The Fantastical Worlds Of Anthony Margheriti. It is a very strong set of supplements ghat are worth getting, even if you only find the film to be so good.

A favorite of Joe Bob Briggs, who also does an introduction to the film, Hell High (1989) gets an exclusive new release from Arrow Video. The pseudo-revenge thriller takes high school jerky kids to a new level and has some controversial content in it that will likely shock some today is all I'm gonna say. The film features Breaking Bad's Christopher Cousins, a great performance by the late Christopher Stryker, and a cast full of mostly unknowns, Hell High will most certainly be stuck in your head after watching it!

A troubled little girl accidentally murdered two persons as a child in a freak accident, but grows up to be an intelligent high school biology teacher. When a group of students feel the need to seek revenge on her, they commit a cruel prank on her at her home. Soon, they end up in her wrath as she retaliates against them. This isn't your typical Last House on the Left style revenge thriller though, this film is pretty crazy and never quite does what you expect it to!

Hell High 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 an English LPCM 2.0 mix. The film looks great good overall considering its age and condition, although there is some heavy grain throughout. The music score is very good considering this production and helps elevate the film.

Special Features:

Brand new audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman and cinematographer Steven Fierberg

Archival audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman

Archival introduction and audio commentary with film critic Joe Bob Briggs

School's Out!: a newly-filmed interview with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman

A Beautiful Nightmare: a newly-filmed interview with cinematographer Steven Fierberg

Jon-Jon's Journey: a newly-filmed interview with actor Christopher Cousins

The More the Better: a newly-filmed interview with actress Maureen Mooney

Music is Not Sound: a newly-filmed interview with composers Rich Macar and Christopher Hyams-Hart

Back to Schools: The Locations of Hell High: a tour of the original Hell High filming sites with author/filmmaker Michael Gingold

Archival video interviews with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman and co-writer Leo Evans

Deleted Scene

Alternate Opening Titles

Trailers and TV Spots

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Ralf Krause

and First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring liner notes by Michael Gingold, including an exclusive interview with stunt coordinator/actor Webster Whinery.

Although it's been released on home video many times over the years, finally the Spielberg-produced original Men In Black (1997) is available on the 4K UHD format with a fantastic new presentation and in an awesome looking steel book with new art nevertheless!

This movie was a peak moment in the career of many involved: director Barry Sonnenfeld (The Addams Family, Wild Wild West) knocked it out of the park, and it solidified Will Smith as a blockbuster movie star and leading man after his turn in other hits Bad Boys and Independence Day. Tommy Lee Jones is also unforgettable in his performance here and the great Vincent D'Onofrio (The Cell, Full Metal Jacket, Daredevil), underrated Linda Fiorentino (Last Seduction, Dogma), and the late Rip Torn (Man Who Fell To Earth) also put in memorable roles as well. Of course, it spanned two lesser sequels (which are also available now in a 4K UHD three pack) and the resoundingly awful re-imagining MIB: International, which had the cast but not much else going for it.

In case you have been living under a rock for the past 25 years and haven't see Men in Black, the story revolves around a police officer (Smith) who ends up discovering that there's an alien presence on earth. Policed in quiet by the Men in Black, he joins Agent K (Jones), and gets a new identity as Agent J. Both MIB Agents end up busting New York aliens, whilst attempting to stop a giant alien bug (D'Onofrio) who has taken over the human body of a farmer. Groundbreaking computer generated effects and colorful aliens created by Rick Baker, Men In Black 4K is a Hollywood classic and a landmark achievement that's just as fun today as it was when it was first released.

Men In Black is presented on 4K UHD in native 4K 2160p ultra high definition, an HEVC / H.265 (49.19 Mbps) codec, HDR10/Dolby Vision, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and newly remastered tracks in lossless Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older system; both 48kHz, 24-bit). The 1080p Blu-ray disc of the film that was previously released is also included and houses the archival special features. The film is beautifully shot and the score by Danny Elfman comes across nicely in the mix. It is amazing how good the special effects shots by Industrial Light and Magic still hold up after all these years, but here we are. It's great to finally have this in 4K!

Special Features:

All-new interviews with director Barry Sonnenfeld and production designer Bo Welch

and a Blu-ray disc with original special features.

While (as of this writing) Will Smith's career is in an odd place, it can't be contested that he has made some great movies and Men In Black is at the top of the list. This new 4K edition just proves that this film has staying power all these years later and is still a hilarious dark sci-fi action / comedy that is hard to beat.

Straight from the streaming service Hulu, produced by Sony and now on DVD is the series Monsterland: Season One (2020), which you think at first glance is a horror/sci-fi focused series like The X-Files, but is really just an anthology of heavy dramas that have a tinge of sci-fi surrealism in them. Of course the real monsters are humans right? I was actually pretty disappointed in this, as I was expecting more monster moments, camp, and fun, but got a bunch of sad sappy stories instead that kind of made this reviewer yawn.

The show has different cities around the US as locations as each short episode basically tells you a dramatic tale with maybe a little bit of a surreal quality to it, but is too grounded in realism to have much fun.

8 episodes span 2 DVD discs including Port Fourchon, Louisiana - Eugene, Oregon - New Orleans, Louisiana - New York, New York - Plainfield, Illinois - Iron River, Michigan and Newark, New Jersey.

Each episodes is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition with an 1:78 X 1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The show looks and sounds fine for the aging DVD format, but could benefit from a Blu-ray release.

Monsterland takes itself way too seriously and isn't really much fun to watch, in all honesty. Some of the stories are just okay. I feel this was a missed mark on the whole.

No extras.

Lastly, Robert Bierman's Vampire's Kiss (1988) gets the Blu-ray treatment from MVD Visual. Featuring an insanely over the top performance by Nicolas Cage, this movie just has to be seen to be believed. Starring a young Nicolas Cage in one of his most bizarre roles, this movie is certainly unlike any other vampire film I've ever seen.

A young Nic Cage plays Peter, who is a womanizing executive whose constantly seeking therapy yet is somehow able to pick up any girl that he chooses in 1980s New York City. He takes a woman home one night and a giant vampire bat enters the apartment. Little does he know but the bat is actually a gorgeous vampire (Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame) who bites him and turns him into a blood sucker.

As Peter succumbs to being a vampire, he starts harassing his poor employee Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso) to the point of no return in an attempt to have her kill him. I guess? (I mean seriously this could be shown as an example at a corporate meeting as a textbook of workplace harassment.) Cage becomes more and more strung out as the insanely sexy Beals Vampire feeds on him in his apartment at night. The more she feeds on him and he starts to turn, the more annoying and unhinged he becomes.

Vampire's Kiss 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 an LPCM 2.0 Stereo mix. The film has some gorgeous B-roll of 1980s New York City that really looks nice here. Some shots are noticeably soft and out of focus, which shows the production was pretty low budget. There aren't any real special effects in the film at all or any particularly interesting set pieces. The backdrop of New York is almost a character in the film. This scan is listed as a new transfer provided by MGM for this release. Being that it's Blu-ray and a low budget '80s movie; it looks and sounds fine.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with actor Nicolas Cage and director Robert Bierman

Photo Gallery

Original Theatrical Trailer

and a TV Spot (in standard definition).

If you're a Nic Cage fan then you'll want to see this just to see how far he has come as an actor. All in all, I think Vampire's Kiss is certainly one of those 'love it or hate it' kind of films or one best watched with a crowd or group of people.

To order the Monsterland: Season One DVD set, go to this link to order:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Battle) and James Lockhart



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