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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Heist > Japan > Slasher > Norway > Superhero > TV > Monster > Halloween Ends 4K (2022/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Hex (2022/Lionsgate DVD)/Maniac Driver (2020/Diabolik DVD/*all MVD)

Blood and Diamonds (1977/88 Films Blu-ray*)/Christmas Cruelty (2013/Unearthed Blu-ray*)/Doom Patrol: The Complete Third Season (2022/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray Set)/Grandmaster Of Kung Fu (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Halloween Ends 4K (2022/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Hex (2022/Lionsgate DVD)/Maniac Driver (2020/Diabolik DVD/*all MVD)

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

Here's a large group of thriller releases for your consideration...

Fernando Di Leo's Italian crime thriller, Blood and Diamonds (1977) also known as Diamanti sporchi di sangue, gets a new life on Blu-ray courtesy of 88 films as part of their Italian Collection. When a man is arrested for robbery and thrown in jail for five years. He goes free and gets revenge on the people who put them there, with precious diamonds being his reward. Despite having a pretty average storyline, the film is nicely made, and could easily be readapted to a modern twist.

The film stars Claudio Cassinelli, Martin Balsam, and Barbara Bouchet.

Blood and Diamonds 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 Italian and English tracks in Linear PCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit). The film has been remastered in 4K and looks and sound very clean throughout and looks and sounds fine on Blu-ray.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Italian Cinema Expert Troy Howarth

Journey of Love: Discovering Fernando Di Leo Feature-Length Documentary

Blood and Di Leo: A Portrait by Luc Merenda

Italian Opening, Intermission and Closing Titles

Italian Theatrical Trailer

The Norwegian Christmas horror film, Christmas Cruelty (2013) also known as O'Hellige Jul!, lands on Blu-ray in America courtesy of Unearthed Films. The film is directed by Per-Ingvar Tomren and Magne Steinsvoll and follows a serial killer dressed up as Santa Claus to knock off all the naughty kids on his list. This grisly tale is full of murder and gore that should please those who like their Christmas movies on the bloodier side.

The film 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 lossy, Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 mix with English subtitles. The film looks and sounds fine for the format.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Per-Ingvar Tomren and Raymond Volle

"How Cruelty Changed Our Lives" Featurette

Interview with Morten Haagensen

"Endless Highway" music video by The Last Rebels

Press Conference


Watch-a-long with Flesh Wound Horror

"Tradition" short film

Teaser Trailer

and a Photo Gallery

Season Three of DC Comics' Doom Patrol (2022) picks up where last season left off (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and maintains the interesting premise and does a good job of creating some fun characters on the screen for the first time. Characters in The Patrol include Cliff Steele aka Robotman (Brendan Fraser), Larry Trainor aka Negative Man (Matt Bomer), Rita Farr aka Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby), Jane aka Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), and Victor Stone aka Cyborg (Joivan Wade) with Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) being the leader and a recurring character himself.

The Doom Patrol, however foul mouthed and insubordinate they are, simply aren't as relatable as Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy series are and really are all grief stricken persons of trauma with powers they don't want. The end result is a bit depressing for the most part. I think the pitch for this show would be kind of a Guardians of the Galaxy meets X Men, but with dialed up DRAMA. I also can't help but compare the characters in the series to be closely similar to other film characters too, at least in terms of appearance. It's pretty clear what the inspirations are; I mean the one character literally looks exactly like Universal's original Invisible Man, another looks vaguely similar to a Planet of the Apes character, and so on. The story itself is reminiscent of X-Men too in that a father figure (played by Timothy Dalton) rounds up the team and find their purpose through their intense otherworldly investigations. Now that the DC movie and television reboot is getting a hard reboot, it's unlikely the show will continue on HBO Max in this incarnation.

10 episodes make up the season including Possibilities Patrol, Vacay Patrol, Dead Patrol, Undead Patrol, Dada Patrol, 1917 Patrol, Bird Patrol, Subconscious Patrol, Evil Patrol, and Amends Patrol.

The series is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.20:1 and English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) lossless mixes on all episodes. The transfer comes across nicely on HD and is a bit better than its original streaming incarnation.

Special Features:

DOOM PATROL SEASON 3: LIFE AFTER DEATH (All-New Featurette): Going inside Season 3 of Doom Patrol with an in-depth look at all the mayhem and madness that follows on the heels of Niles Caulder's death. Showrunner Jeremy Carver and the cast of the series discuss the loss of Niles, new beginnings, awakenings and new journeys in a unique way.

FILTER NOT INCLUDED: ROBOTMAN'S BEST LINES (All-New Featurette): He may be mostly machinery but one thing Robotman does not have is a filter. As The Doom Patrol's most foul-mouthed robot/grandfather, Cliff Steele never holds back exactly what he's thinking.

Digging Deep Into Doom Patrol: Introducing Madame Rouge: The Doom Patrol is at a difficult crossroads and things get a whole lot more complicated when Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez) arrives in a time machine with a very specific mission, if only she could remember it.

and This Season On The Doom Patrol: Robotman aka Cliff Steele, Negative Man aka Larry Trainor, Elasti-Woman aka Rita Farr, Crazy Jane and Cyborg aka Victor Stone, are at a crossroads as each member struggles to face who they are and who they want to be.

Director Chen Si-Yu's The Grandmaster of Kung Fu (2019) is a fun and exciting martial arts film that fans of films like IP Man will want to gravitate towards. Starring Gao Xuemi, the film takes place during the Qin Dynasty, when a Chinese martial arts school is threatened by Japanese Imperial takeover. In an effort to protect their community, a martial arts contest between the Chinese and Japanese goes down. With fear on the Chinese side, they luckily have Gao Xuemi who is a badass martial artist that can run with the best of them.

The film also stars Yang Feng, Yu-Hang To, and Mei Xue.

The best parts of the film are definitely the well choreographed and filmed fight scenes. The film has a pretty fast pace and moves along with efficiency. Definitely a fun film with good production value and talent on display in front of and behind the camera. Recommended!

The Grandmaster of Kung Fu is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35 X 1 and a lossless, Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mix with English subtitles.

The only extra is a trailer.

The conclusion of the new Blumhouse-produced Halloween trilogy (which started in 2018 with Halloween (S3) and was followed up by 2021's Halloween Ends, reviewed elsewhere on this site) directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween Ends 4K (2022), has landed on 4K UHD disc from Universal.

The much maligned horror three-quel did not leave many horror fans pleased, but still made a truckload of cash at the box office and through streaming despite heated online chat discussions on social media. Now that it has made its way onto video, it can join other hated Halloween sequels (I'm looking at you Halloween Resurrection and Rob Zombie's Halloween 2) in what may be one of the most confusing franchises ever conceived, mainly due to the different routes the sequels went with their storylines.

This 'choose your own adventure' vibe is no doubt in part to the franchise being in the hands of different producers and companies over the past few decades since the original 1978 classic was an independent film.

What is unique, however, is how different all of the Halloween films feel and are executed depending on what director is at the helm. David Gordon Green decided to ignore all of the films after the first and pick up the story decades after the original classic whilst Rob Zombie went back to square one and made more of a prequel film with his initial installment and did a soft reboot storyline. Halloween 4, 5, and 6 follow their own storyline that's still connected to the original two films, the original Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, of course is a classic in its own right and has nothing to do with Myers, and then there's H20 and Resurrection which are kind of off on their own and relics of the Scream-inspired slasher trend of the 1990s. All of these sequels can be found in previously released box sets and many of them are on 4K UHD from Scream Factory while this new trilogy is strictly from Universal Studios.

The biggest mistake that Halloween Ends makes is that hardly features Michael Myers himself at all. I believe Myers is in like ten minutes of the film. Jamie Lee Curtis does what she can with the role of Laurie Strode, but feels ready to throw in the towel for the character. Even with the untimely death of a main character, there still seems to be a feeling that said character will inevitably turn up again in a future film or spin-off.

The focus of Halloween Ends shifts to a new character who is center stage and not particularly likable named Corey (Rohan Campbell) who accidentally kills a young boy while babysitting in the opening sequence (which kind of has echoes of the first kill in the original Halloween), and then gains a bad reputation in town. Years later, Corey works as a repairman at a junkyard and accidentally meets Laurie (Curtis) and her granddaughter Allyson (underrated actress Andi Matichak). Romance blooms between Corey and Allyson and he starts to get weird serial killer vibes when he's not with his newfound love, when he teams up with Michael Myers, who is hiding out in a sewer system and injured from the attacks of the last film, Halloween Kills.

A bizarre romance blooms between Corey and Allyson and lots of folks get murdered along the way as Corey becomes secretly infected with the Michael Myers 'virus', which is the film's explanation for why Myers is the way he is.

In short, the film has some underlying messages about trauma and bullying that are mixed in with a cheesy love story and domestic disputes. That being said, the film gets pretty heavy at times and should have maybe focused more on Myers stalking, murdering, and making things more ambiguous, as that's what the fans really want to see and what worked in the earlier films of the franchise in yesteryear. I think this film has some good ideas behind it and shines in certain moments, but at others feels pretty muddled and may be a victim of 'too many chefs in the kitchen' when it came to the screenplay. There are four writers credited here, which seems a bit of overkill.

The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Rohan Campbell, and Will Patton.

Halloween Ends is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with HDR10, an HEVC / H.265 presentation, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems; in 48kHz, 24-bit), both of which replicate the theatrical exhibition at home.

Franchise creator John Carpenter returns to executive produce (along with Curtis) and do the music for the film along with his son, which adds some validity to the production. The look of the film is fine and maintains a high production value that at moments mimics the original John Carpenter classic. The kills featuring Michael feel well thought out and executed, it's the rest of the film that's the problem!

There's also a Blu-ray edition of the film here in 1080p included with a MPEG-4 AVC (29.80 Mbps) codec, similar sound specs and a bit less detailed image. All in all, Universal has done a fine job here.

Special Features include a Gag Reel, Deleted and Extended Scenes and the following featurettes:


Final Girl

No Place Like Haddonfield

A Different Threat

The Visions of Terror

and Twisted Deaths

and a Feature-Length Audio Commentary track with co-writer/director David Gordon Green, actors Andi Matichak and Rohan Campbell, co-producer/first assistant director Atilla Salih Yucer, and production assistant Hugo Garza.

There is also a three film trilogy 4K UHD box set available from Universal being issued as this single is.

Halloween Ends at least tried something different, even if it went completely against fan expectations, but many horror fans were harsh on this reboot series from the get-go and while they aren't perfect they aren't completely without merit. All three films in the new series at least pay nice homage to the original classic, even going as far as getting original cast members (and even Carpenter himself) involved that in itself is commendable and shows love for the material. Halloween never truly ends, after all, regardless of what the title may lead you to believe.

A five person group skydiver unit loses a member under supernatural circumstances in Hex (2022), which is on DVD now from Lionsgate. The film is inspired by Final Destination in a way, but done on a low budget scale. Some of the aerial photography is pretty impressive considering that to get some of these angles you would have to be skydiving along with the actors. Some of the acting is hit and miss, and outside of the aerial stuff all of the photography isn't spot on and there are some flaws in the overall orchestration of shots, but all in all the film isn't bad for a low budget Hollywood effort, but nothing too memorable either.

The film stars Kayla Adams, Cody Renee Cameron, Courtney Munch, Rob Mars, Matthew Holdcomb, and Eric Alperin. Directed by Andy Malchiodi and Chris Johnson.

Hex is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition on DVD with a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio mix. The presentation is fine for the DVD format but compression is evident in the image.

No extras.

Lastly, we have Maniac Driver (2020,) a Japanese neo-giallo, which is something pretty interesting you don't normally see. The film is part throwback / part music video experimental as it relies heavily on its wild retro 80s style throwback soundtrack. Japan's top adult stars (Saryu Usui, Iori Kogawa, Ai Sayama, among others) are portrayed as lascivious victims in the film, which is directed by Kurando Mitsutake (Gun Woman).

The story follows a killer taxi cab driver in Tokyo who vows to kill a special woman he comes across along with himself as revenge for the universe taking his love from him in the same manner. Going as far as dressing up as the killer, the driver goes to great lengths to torture his female victims before the cold blooded kill.

There have been many serial killer films like this in the past, especially foreign titles, such as Dr. Lamb and others, but this goes to pretty great length at trying to replicate an older style of filmmaking and succeeds in that regard.

The film is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a lossless, Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) with English subtitles. The image looks pretty good for 1080p and the film's soundtrack is particularly noteworthy.

Special Features include:

A Feature-Length Audio Commentary by Kurando Mitsutake

Making Of featurette

and a Slideshow.

- James Lockhart



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