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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Filmmaking > Mystery > Thriller > Italy > Science Fiction > Robots > Cable TV > 5-25-77 (2007)/Gothic Fantastico: Four Italian Tales Of Terror (1963 - 66/Arrow/both MVD Blu-rays)/Minute You Wake Up Dead (2022/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Westworld: Season Four The Choice 4K (2022/HBO/Warne

5-25-77 (2007)/Gothic Fantastico: Four Italian Tales Of Terror (1963 - 66/Arrow/both MVD Blu-rays)/Minute You Wake Up Dead (2022/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Westworld: Season Four The Choice 4K (2022/HBO/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

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

Now for more thrillers...

It is interesting that MVD is releasing 5-25-77 (2007) onto Blu-ray around the same time that Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans is in theaters. Both films are about young passionate filmmakers in the 1970s that live and breathe the art of making movies.

But what 5-25-77 gets wrong is that it's marketed as a sort of Star Wars parody when the overly long film is more of a coming of age drama akin to Freaks and Geeks or The Wonder Years with some jokes peppered in for good measure. The film gets pretty heavy at times too as if it’s trying to be a Kevin Smith movie or something and the actors portraying these dramatic characters don't really excel in these moments. The fact that its based loosely on a true story gives it some weight, but all in all the film feels like a miss. I think with a stronger cast this could have been better.

The film stars John Francis Daley, Emma Chen, and Colleen Camp to name a few with direction by Patrick Read Johnson (Angus, which was the Napoleon Dynamite of its time).

A young filmmaker is inspired by sci-fi classics of the 1960s - 70s and starts chasing the filmmaking dream. Along the way he struggles with romance and growing pains as the release of the original 1977 Star Wars film looms and will seemingly help usher in a new stage of his life.

5-25-77 is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and lossless, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) and LPCM 2.0 mixes as well. The transfer isn't too bad but there are some scenes that are a bit grainy or noisy.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with writer/director Patrick Read Johnson, moderated by Seth Gaven, founder of the A.V. Squad and editor of the film Spaced Invaders

Q&A from the 2013 Fantasia Film Festival with director Patrick Read Johnson

Three Theatrical Trailers

and three Photo Galleries.

Gothic Italian horror films come together in a great new box set from Arrow Video: Gothic Fantastico: Four Italian Tales Of Terror (1963 - 66). I wasn't aware of any of these films from the 1960s era before checking out this box set and was pleasantly surprised how eerie and well crafted they are. All of which deal with revenge in some way and most feature a young woman as the lead character. If you're a fan of Italian horror films by Mario Bava or the like then I would suggest checking this out.

Lady Morgan's Vengeance (1965) is a ghost revenge story about a woman who comes back as a vengeful spirit after her husband murders her. Directed by Massimo Pupillo and starring Gordon Mitchell, Erika Blanc, and Paul Muller.

The Blancheville Monster (1963) a young woman who fears she will be made a sacrifice due to a curse held by her lineage. Directed by Alberto De Martino and starring Gerard Tichy, Leo Anchoriz, and Ombretta Colli.

The Third Eye (1966) is also a very interesting thriller in the same vein as Hitchcock's Psycho in some regards. A jealous maid to a rich family attempts to take over by inspiring two murders, but finds that the son (Franco Nero in an early role) is bonkers with a devious agenda of his own. The film has many twists and turns and highlights obsession, necrophilia, lust, and cold blooded murder. Recommended. Directed by Mino Guerrini and starring Gioia Pascal and Erika Blanc.

The Witch (1966) centers on a historian who goest to a castle library to translate some erotic literature but instead encounters unholy spirits. Directed by Damiano Damiani and starring Richard Johnson, Rosanna Schiaffino, Gian Maria Volonte.

The Gothic Fantastico set is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with English and Italian LPCM Mono with optional English subtitles. All of the restorations are beautifully done and present these films in significant clarity. Another worthy restoration done by the folks at Arrow.

Special Features:

Brand new video introductions to each film by Italian film devotee Mark Thompson Ashworth

Image galleries

Limited edition 80-page book featuring new writing on the films by Roberto Curti, Rob Talbot, Jerome Reuter, Rod Barnett and Kimberly Lindbergs

Fold-out double-sided poster

Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch


Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Brand new video essay on the film by author and producer Kat Ellinger

Brand new video interview with actress Erika Blanc

Newly edited video interview with actor Paul Muller

Newly edited audio interview with director Massimo Pupillo

The complete original cineromanzo, published in Suspense in April 1971



Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker and film historian Paul Anthony Nelson

Brand new video essay on the film by writer and pop culture historian Keith Allison

Brand new video interview with author and filmmaker Antonio Tentori

Opening credits for the US release of the film



Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Rachael Nisbet

Brand new video essay on the film by author and filmmaker Lindsay Hallam

Newly edited video interview with actress Erika Blanc


Brand new audio commentary by author and producer Kat Ellinger

Brand new video essay on the film by author and academic Miranda Corcoran

and a Brand new video interview with author and filmmaker Antonio Tentori

Michael Mailer's The Minute You Wake Up Dead (2022) is another Grindstone production, this time with Cole Hauser as a stockbroker who may get framed for murder, or be murdered, after getting involved with a supposedly introverted waitress. Turns out the killing was no crime or passion or mere bit of revenge, but a monied hit and several criminal elements around are or want to be involved for whatever reasons.

Morgan Freeman shows up as the police, but he is not enough or in it enough to save this thin script from breaking down early as the film barely gets in any character development or developed ideas before it becomes unusually crude, bloody and violent. All of that seems as desperate as it is unnecessary, so if you fall asleep watching it, don't worry about waking up at all. You won't be missing much.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is a new HD shoot that is softer than expected or should be, especially at this point in time when we are in the 4K era of Ultra High Definition video. Colors can be poor and this is not just some style choice, with some shots just plain sloppy, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is at least professional and competent enough. Still, it is nothing special.

Extras include Digital Copy and a trailer.

Last but absolutely not least, Westworld: Season Four The Choice 4K (2022) as what has sadly become the last season (for now) of one of the best science fiction TV series anywhere since early seasons of The X Files (few shows since have not been more than comedies, space operas or knock-offs of better, earlier shows) as the show keeps its edge, it amazing cast, its sharp writing, great production values and has gone about as far as it could dealing with a future of computer artificial intelligence gone wild that lost it is audience more than the makers might have expected. It does not mean they made any major mistakes.

The show is so involved by this time, taking its place with McGoohan's The Prisoner and Lynch's Twin Peaks as among the most complex and challenging TV shows ever made with ideas audiences still have not caught up with yet. Why this is not celebrated more with Westworld is strange, but that has been the case so far. Like Disney's original Tron (1982,) a much more commercial enterprise decades ago, some of this will make more sense as the world catches up with it.

When the original Westworld was issued by MGM in 1973 in theaters, the studio had zero hopes it would be a hit, but it turned out to be their biggest hit that year. The idea of machines turning on people, when they were supposed to be for people to use and enjoy (especially at an expensive amusement park for adults) was a step forward in examining the human relationship with technology and at a time when it was far more unusual (the analog era) than it is now. The series has recaptured that terror very well, extrapolating upon it as effectively as any science fiction made and along with the underrated 1976 Futureworld sequel, now stands as the most underrated examination of these ideas.

That makes this show, despite being a hit all this time, still underrated and the makers had at least one more season planned. I hope we see a revival, but if anything, these eight episodes do not let up and the cast (including Ed Harris, Tessa Thompson, Thandiwe Newton, Aaron Paul, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Hemsworth, James Marsden and more) have achieved (including former cast members) a very special show that is always realistic, smart, palpable and very rare in how it works and holds up. I would start from the first season (and actually, with the 1973 and 1976 films for maximum impact) before getting to this season, but the show is enough of a classic that we'll be talking about it years from now and those talking will be as amazed as us looking now at the 1973 and 1976 films. Yes, its that good.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.78 X 1 (with occasional variances), Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image is the best-looking presentation on the list and even in its (for now?) final season, is the best-looking show on TV today with more than a few amazing shots above my letter grade. The combination of shooting on 35mm film (and very well) with state-of-the-art CGI that is not fake or overdone, though some CGI cannot help but soften some shots (especially when compared to the sharpness and clarity of the Kodak Vision3 full color negative films used here) and the whole series will hold up for decades to come and consistently so. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray episodes are fine, but no match for what the 4K discs can deliver.

As for sound, the 4K discs offer Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) lossless mixes, while the Blu-ray offer lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixdowns that are not bad and have some weight to them, but are not a match for the impact of the Atmos mixes. That makes this one of the best-sounding TV series ever made.

Extras include Digital Code, while the discs add Westworld on the Road (Exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and even DVD editions)

  • Westworld: An Exploration of Humanity (Exclusive to Home Entertainment)

  • Westworld's Temperance: A Set Tour

  • and Creating Westworld's Reality Episodes 1-8

- Nicholas Sheffo (Minute, Westworld) and James Lockhart



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