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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Horror > Fantasy > Action > War > Cable TV > Stop Motion Animation > AfterEffects: Memories Of Pittsburgh Filmmaking (2005/MVD/Diabolik Blu-ray)/House Of The Dragon: The Complete First Season 4K (2022/HBO/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Mad God (2022/Shudder/RLJ

AfterEffects: Memories Of Pittsburgh Filmmaking (2005/MVD/Diabolik Blu-ray)/House Of The Dragon: The Complete First Season 4K (2022/HBO/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Mad God (2022/Shudder/RLJ Blu-ray w/DVD)

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

Here's three high profile genre releases for the holidays and for the year...

Filmmaker Michael Felsher's insightful documentary, AfterEffects: Memories of Pittsburgh Filmmaking (2005) gets a Blu-ray release and chronicles the making of a under-seen movie from some of the filmmakers behind George A. Romero's early films.

The focus of AfterEffects documents the film originally called The Manipulator, and later re-titled Effects that was finished, but sat un-released for nearly 25 years. This limited edition disc is limited to 1000 copies and was a labor of love from those involved in its making.

The film features David Belko, Pasquale Buba, Debra Gordon, John Harrison, Susan Chapek, the late George A.Romero, and Tom Savini to name a few.

AfterEffects: Memories of Pittsburgh Filmmaking is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a full screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix. The documentary looks fine considering it was shot on digital in the early 2000s.

Special Features:

Limited Slipcover

Exclusive Feature-Length Edition with over 15 minutes of never-before-seen interview footage

Feature Length Audio Commentary with Editor & Director Michael Felsher

Poolside With George: A Selection of Interview Clips with Filmmaker George A.Romero

Outtakes & Deleted Moments with Cast & Crew

Effects at the Warhol: Highlights from a one-time-only 2005 screening of ''Effects'' and ''AfterEffects'' at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh

Vintage DVD Release Trailer for ''Effects'' from 2005

and a Collector's Booklet featuring all-new tributes to Pasquale Buba, Joseph Pilato, and George A. Romero.

HBO's Game of Thrones has been off the air for a few years, but the absence is filled with the first prequel series, House Of The Dragon: The Complete First Season 4K (2022), which has now safely landed on 4K UHD disc / Blu-ray in a deluxe home video edition that includes four 4K UHD discs and four Blu-ray discs.

Adapted from the pages of the novel, Fire and Blood, and the first of many seasons to come on HBO Max, The House of the Dragon spans several decades and is set almost 200 years before the events of the original Game of Thrones series.

Following the infamous history of the House Targaryen, who are the only humans to have a strong bond with dragons, are ruthless in the world of politicians and combat, and whom also have chalk white natural hair. The series follows the rise and fall of a honest King, who loses his health as his family grows over the span of a few decades. As the family ages and the King fails to produce a male heir, there is much speculation as to who his reign will fall to. So much happens in the ten episodes of this series that it's hard to summarize without giving too much away. That being said, the less you know going in the more you will enjoy it.

Game of Thrones in general, to those unfamiliar, is heavy on drama and also features high end production design and Hollywood blockbuster level visual effects that boast some of the most impressive looking dragons to ever grace TV or movies. HBO obviously cares for the longevity of the series and spares no expense when it comes to this. There is a definite fantasy aspect to the series, but unlike Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, the characters in this franchise are all human with the only supernatural beings being dragons and (in the original series) an army of the undead. The drama and adult themes are at the forefront, however, mixed in with moments of shocking sexual situations and corruption that reflect the actions of those who are full of greed and lust for power. With that said, there aren't many likable characters in the world of Game of Thrones' Westeros, with just about everyone having an ulterior motive, checkered past, or an insane infatuation for power.

The hard hitting drama is effective on many levels and excels in the same ways that the original Game of Thrones series did. House of the Dragon stars Paddy Considine (HBO's The Third Day and The Outsider), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy, Steve Toussaint (It's a Sin, Doctor Who), Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, Fabien Frankel, and Rhys Ifans. Additional cast members include Milly Alcock, Bethany Antonia, Phoebe Campbell, Emily Carey, Harry Collett, Ryan Corr, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Wil Johnson, John Macmillan, Graham McTavish, Ewan Mitchell, Theo Nate, Matthew Needham, Bill Paterson, Phia Saban, Gavin Spokes, and Savannah Steyn.

Standout performances of the season are definitely Paddy Considine as the King and Matt Smith as the rogue prince Daemon Targaryen. Milly Alcock and Emily Carey are fantastic in the first half of the season playing younger versions of Princes Rhaenyrs and Alicent Hightower, and then there is a time jump mid-season and those characters are played by Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke to perfection as well.

10 episodes from the first season include The Heirs of the Dragon, The Rogue Prince, King of the Narrow Sea, We Light the Way, The Princess and the Queen, Driftmark, The Lord of the Tides, The Green Council, and The Black Queen.

House of the Dragon is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with Dolby Vision / HDR10, an HEVC / H.265 codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.00:1 and a lossless, English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mixdown for older systems) soundmix on all episodes. The 4K UHD version captures the series beautifully and shows more detail in the locations and visual effects than the also included Blu-ray edition does. This 4K HDR presentation is a vast improvement over the streaming option, and in some cases darker scenes and able to be viewed a bit more clearly than they were originally, after online backlash. The 1080p Blu-rays also have the same soundmixes and aspect ratios, though they are not as clear, thick or rich.

Unlike the dimwits over at Netflix and Disney, HBO actually releases all of their shows on physical media as well, which extends their overall audience and allows fans like myself to have physical copies, and not just having to be reliant on streaming platforms for valued content. Also, in the case of a series like this, you are able to see it in full 4K HDR, with no nagging streaming glitches that are inevitable, and which makes a difference for a show of this scope and magnitude. While this series is at low risk of ever getting pulled from the service, this hasn't been the case for other series in the HBO library, which have been pulled off the streamer, and shipped over to other services like Westworld.

Special Features aren't too intricate, but good enough with two exclusive hour long featurettes:

Return to the Seventh Kingdom

Welcome to Westeros

and a collectible steel book packaging (limited).

House of the Dragon could have been a major disaster, especially after the mixed reception to the last season of Game of Thrones. Luckily, the brilliant writing of George R.R. Martin accompanied with top industry talent from around the world in front of and behind the camera all came together to craft a solid new series that feels like an extension of the franchise that is necessary, and not just something throwaway to make a buck. This is definitely a series that benefits from 4K UHD and could serve as a good comparison piece in quality when put side to side by streaming.

The final episode of this season promises big things to come in the future, which sadly won't premiere for another two years (at the time of this writing). The final two episodes are gut wrenching and the series takes turns you wouldn't expect narratively as well. I found this personally to be the most enjoyable program of the entire 2022 year. Let's hope that Game of Thrones as a franchise continues to grow and can maintain its freshness as there is much that can be done in this multi layered fictional universe.

Finally, he created some of the most iconic characters in Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Robocop, and countless other franchises, and now Phil Tippet directs his own project. A nightmarish stop motion animated film, Mad God (2022), which has landed on disc courtesy of Shudder and RLJE.

Praised by film god Guillermo Del Toro and other industry giants, this hard to watch animated film is not for the faint hearted, and is one of the most gruesome and hellish creations to pop out of one's head and onto a screen. Painstakingly animated in jaw dropping stop motion animation, the film is visually stunning and a work of art whilst almost being equally revolving and hard to stomach. This is definitely something you need to be in a certain mindset to make it through to the end, even if you are used to seeing gore in horror movies. For those who find horror movies hard to watch in general, steer clear of this one!

The film features the voice talent of Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, and Anthony Ruivivar.

A masked character known as The Assassin travels through a hellish landscape full of torched earth, demented souls, and gross incarnations of every shape and size. Filled with hidden messages and underlying meanings, the film is something out of a nightmare to say the least. There isn't much of a narrative to the piece overall, and overall the film isn't really inspirational or feel good in any way, shape, or form. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to the general public, but more for those who like to watch extreme cinema.

Mad God 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 a lossless, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mix. The film intentionally has some flaws to its look including grain and odd color combinations, all of which are captured nicely here on disc. Adding the grotesque visions onscreen, the sound mix is equally as disturbing with sounds that make one feel quite uneasy. The filmmaking behind this is very impressive and its captured nicely here. Also included is a standard definition DVD that showcases the film in a lesser more compressed image.

Special Features:

Audio commentary by Phil Tippett and Guillermo del Toro

Audio commentary by cast and crew members

Interview with writer/director Phil Tippett

Mad God Influences & Inspirations

Maya Tippett's The Making of Mad God

Maya Tippett's "Worse than the Demon"

Academy of Art University & Mad God

Behind the scenes montage

Behind the scenes photo gallery

and a Collectible Steel Book packaging limited

Mad God is an impressive piece of work in the art of stop motion animation, but heavy and hard to stomach at times due to its disturbing content.

- James Lockhart



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