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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Mystery > Suspense > War > Horror > Comedy > La Denonciation (1961/aka The Immortal Moment/*both Icarus DVD)

Ambush, The (2021/Well Go Blu-ray)/Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things 4K (1972/MVD/VCI 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/A Game For Six Lovers (1960*)/Hinterland (2021/Film Movement DVD)/La Denonciation (1961/aka The Immortal Moment/*both Icarus DVD)

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

Now for some mystery/suspense dramas, including horror and some comedy, including a comedy genre classic restored!

Pierre Morel's Ambush, The (2021) is a new war thriller set in 2018 when three military soldiers from the United Arab Emirates were ambushed by militants with all kinds of weapons, but their head officer decides to launch a rescue mission to save them. The Taken director attempts to tell the story in the mode of Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (now in a great 4K edition) and the results are not bad. Unfortunately, the amalgamation of quick editing, video screens, desert scenes and weapons are in a style we've seen too many times.

To the film's credit, it is not badly acted by a mostly unknown cast (Marwan Abdulla Saleh, Khalifa Al Jassem, Mohammed Ahmed, Saeed Alharsh) and is gritty and realistic enough. Still, it is not able to exceed the genre it is in, especially in its new revived form, and is only worth a look for the most curious.

A trailer is the only extra.

Bob Clark's Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things 4K (1972) has been upgraded from the decent Blu-ray set we covered a few years ago to this amazing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray both Blu-rays from that set in one of the best 4K packages of the year!

For a look at the film via our previous coverage you can go to the following links for the...

Blu-ray set


and DVD 35th Anniversary Edition


In the few years between that Blu-ray set and this impressive upgrade, George Romero is no longer with us, but the original Night Of The Living Dead received a stunning 4K restoration (see more below in the tech section) through no less than The Criterion Collection (Dawn Of The Dead arrived in a stunning 4K edition too, but only in the U.K. so far) and we have seen many more zombie movies, TV shows, music videos and spoofs thereof, so this film continues to be way ahead of its time and of the curve.

Thus, Alan Ormsby's sometimes controversial performance is that much more distinctive and more of a distinct plus in a sea of all that have followed him and this film five decades later. Despite having seen it many times over the years, especially through VCI's faithful video releases of the film over the decades, it only gets better with age and you do say to yourself 'if only these actors knew what was ahead' at a time anything to do with zombies was rare.

Any serious horror and zombie fan must think of this film as a must see and now, in this total restoration in 4K, now more than ever!

Extras, which are many, repeat the Blu-ray set's above, and then add two new ones for the film's 50th Anniversary: a 90-minutes-long documentary Dreaming Of Death on the films of Bob Clark and a new video intro with Q&A with co-writer/co-star Alan Ormsby.

Jacques Doniol-Valcroze's A Game For Six Lovers (1960) is the first of two mystery films here by the French director who was emulating French New Wave trends, but was still more of a journeyman filmmaker with pre-New Wave sensibilities helming his first feature film. A big inheritance suddenly comes up when Milena (Francoise Brion) has to deal with the passing of her grandmother, whom she lives with. Part of the will excludes some estranged relatives, but greed kicks in when one of them pretends to be someone else.

With a music score and hit song by legendary French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, the melodrama focuses on various relationships, manipulations and more in a subtle high-stakes between people who are often family and/or have known each other forever. Too bad money changes loyalties quicker than the more naive think. This is well-directed and acted enough and quits while it is ahead at 84 minutes, but the results were only so memorable for me, though this is some kind of minor classic and film of note at the time in French Cinema.

Cheers to the solid cast that also includes Gerald Barray, Bernadette LaFont, Jaques Riberolles, Alexandra Stewart and Paul Guers.

A clip from La Denonciation is the only extra.

Stefan Ruzowitzky's Hinterland (2021) is a surreal film taking place just after WWI, but in an almost alternative reality (think Guillermo del Toro meets Jean-Pierre Jeunet with a bit of David Lynch and Terry Gilliam, all in a good way) with a serial killer on the loose in Vienna (German Expressionist Cinema style with its visuals sometimes distorted) with Peter Perg (Murathan Muslu) coming back from the war. Worse, he tends to know all the victims, so something is very wrong.

Though not a suspect (yet?) he starts to look for answers on his own and keeps finding new surprises and barriers as the great city tries to recover from 'The Great War,' but he does find an ally in a female forensic expert (Liv Lisa Fries) and maybe, just maybe, they can stop more killing before it is too late.

A very ambitious production, there is definitely an audience for this one out there, even though I thought it was uneven in places. There is definitely a love of cinema to go with its sense of history and the makers are really trying here. Thus, if this sounds like your kind of film, you should see it at least once to see what you think. For all the films in the last few years that have attempted what this film does, it is more successful than most, which often fared worse.

Extras include notes inside the DVD's cover, while the disc adds the VFX featurettes, a solid, smart, feature length audio commentary track by Director Ruzowitzky and Bonus Short Film: Merryl Roche's creepy Haute Cuisine.

Jacques Doniol-Valcroze's La Denonciation (1961 aka The Immortal Moment) re-teams the director with Francoise Brion as Michel (Maurice Bonet) is being harassed and then framed for a murder he did not commit, but he was also a fighter in The Resistance in WWII. Apparently, he is being targeted for revenge, but by whom and how?

With Doniol-Valcroze's third feature-film, the mystery and murder elements are more steeped in the French New Wave and the use of monochrome widescreen is fine, as well as the pacing of the script. I liked this a bit more than his first film and the Georges Delerue music score is a real plus here, as is the scenery. The cast also includes Nicole Berger, Sacha Pitoeff, Gisele Braunberger, Raymond Gerome, Jean-Claude Darnal, Fran├žois Maistre, Michele Grellier, Laurent Terzieff and legendary actor Michael Lonsdale (Frankenheimer's Ronin, Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black, Spielberg's Munich, the James Bond film Moonraker) playing a detective who more than holds his own in the few scenes he gets.

Unfortunately, this only lasts 72 minutes and could have been longer and more developed, but is not bad and worth a look.

A clip from A Game For Six Lovers is the only extras.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Ultra High Definition image on Dead Things is more impressive than expected, with the 16mm-shot film displaying great color range, authentic to film stocks of the time and no major grain or haze that older transfers may have had. VCI has been handling the film on home video for decades and it remains one of the most successful Canadian-made feature films of all time (director Bob Clark has several such films on any Top 100 list with Cronenberg, et al) and Video Black is just right.

It has no HDR (High Dynamic Range) of any kind, but ironically, the 4K editions of the overseas-inly release of Tobe Hooper's original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the original 1920 Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari and most importantly, the also-remarkable restoration of Romero's original Night Of The Living Dead from Criterion also have no HDR. Why this happens to be the case with all-time horror genre films is odd, but Dead Things can more than compete with its fellow classics in this respect. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is the older Blu-ray we reviewed a few years ago and remains a little softer than I thought it could have been, but the 4K is just so much better than most who see it will be very pleasantly surprised. The PCM 2.0 Mono sound is as good as this film will ever sound and with the 4K picture, looks like that mint-condition film print your aunt left in the attic and forgot about, then stayed fresh decades later.

The HD-shot image on the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition Ambush is the second-best looking release here, stylized as it is to be sepia-toned and dark, though expect some minor detail issues and blur, some of which is intended. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is sonically the best here, in part because it is the newest film and the only multi-channel lossless film here, but it has a solid soundfield throughout, even if it has no major surprises or nothing too memorable for the genre or otherwise.

The anamorphically enhanced black & white image on the two French films (1.66 X 1 for Game, 2.35 X 1 for Immortal, miscredited on the package as 1.85 X 1, but shot in Franscope!) are from new 2K restorations and look about as good as they can in this older format despite a few soft spots. Wonder if they'll get Blu-ray releases? The only other issue is Immortal cheats at the beginning and the transfer has the framed zoomed in on for some of reason, then pulls out to go into its full scope presentation. That was a bad idea and a mistake. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 French Mono on both films has also been cleaned up, but they are just a little too soft and weak here, even with subtitles, so be careful of volume switching and high volume playback.

That leaves us with the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Hinterland with some interesting choices of color, but mixed results with the CGI visual effects. Would they look better on Blu-ray or in 4K? Otherwise, the visuals are consistent, so some artifice is intended to go with its surrealism. As for sound, you get lossy German Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes, but instead of the 5.1 being outright better, they are both on par with each other. It still made me wonder what a lossless version of either would sound like as I expect there are better sonics to be uncovered for this film.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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