Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Drama > Comedy > Horror > Thriller > Con Artists > Messiah Of Evil (1974/Radiance/*both MVD Blu-rays)

The Boys: Season Three (2022/Sony Blu-ray Set)/Devil Doll (1936/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The Gamblers (1970/UMC/VCI*)/Justice League X RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsman, Part Two 4K (2023/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Messiah Of Evil (1974/Radiance/*both MVD Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Devil Doll Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Superheros, super con artists and the supernatural all can be found in these latest releases, including three very impressive remasters....

The Boys: Season Three (2022) has the darkly humorous, rather violent (more than most superhero productions for the big or small screen) based on the Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson comic book series, produced for TV here by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and others, this has quietly been a moderate success (if not a smash hit; its lucky its still in the game after the (temporary) collapse of the genre) going for the Watchmen/Suicide Squad crowd, more in like with horror movies than the genre in its usual iteration.

One of the heroes goes to work for the U.S. Government in the midst of a peace time stretch at this point of the series, but that will not last long as old enemies and other circumstances finally catch up with each other. The characters cannot help but be too similar to many a DC Comics, Marvel Comics or even professional western gang in it for the money, et al. If you can buy the characters, starting with the first season, you might like the show. Otherwise, you will not find this particularly memorable.

Karl Urban, Erin Moriarty, Chace Crawford and Jansen Ackles do a decent job of headlining the cast.

Special Features are few, but (per the press release) include:

    • Gag Reels

    • Deleted and Extended Scenes

    • and The Making of Featurette.

Tod Browning's The Devil Doll (1936) is back and upgraded for Blu-ray by Warner Archive in time for Halloween 2023. We have reviewed the wild John Barrymore/Maureen O'Sullivan horror film before twice on DVD form the same box set. I was up first and said about the film...

''The topic this time is miniaturization, with the crazy/interesting plot about the ''new science'' being used on animals so the world's pet food supply goes further! Of course, it is not long before humans are being zapped down to size. Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan and Frank Lawton lead the cast of the very interesting subgenre entry involving shrinking people and the world.''

My fellow writer liked it even a bit more than I did and you can read about it and more of the horror films from that set at this link...


No doubt it has been imitated and been influential, especially considering its director. Criterion just released a few of his films in a Freaks collection, so this Blu-ray belongs on the shelf right next to that. Erich von Stroheim even co-wrote the screenplay!

Unlike the DVD version, we actually get extras here including two classic MGM Technicolor cartoons (Milk and Money, The Phantom Ship,) an Original Theatrical Trailer and a new feature length audio commentary track by the great film scholar Dr. Steven Haberman.

Ron Winston's The Gamblers (1970) is a lesser-discussed entry in the con artist/heist cycle of sophisticated comedies that include Topkapi, Rififi, Beat The Devil, several Hitchcock films, The Pink Panther films (at least initially) and the original Italian Job among others. Also loosely based on a book from 1866 (!!!) in this case, the madness begins when a group of card sharks target a rich man, but things will not go as planned as the pigeon arrives on a ship soon to be bound for Dubrovnik.

Don Gordon (Bullitt) and Stuart Margolin (Futureworld) head the cast of con artists up to no good, soon to get a beautiful young woman (Suzi Kendall, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage) involved, though she does not know what they are really up to yet. They talk often and in more indoor rooms than I would have liked, but when the film moves to the outdoors, I tis at its best and looks as good as any of its ilk.

No, it is not too memorable, but it has more than enough to like throughout including decent directing and the cast has some chemistry. The only downside that has not aged well is a problematic subplot involving their Asian helper (Richard Ng under the name Richard Woo) as an assistant who is eccentric, knows martial arts and is played somewhere between Bruce Lee and the Cato character from The Pink Panther films (and not The Green Hornet!), down to a fight with another Asian 'manservant' that starts with what would now be considered very homophobic taunts. That badly dates an otherwise decent film.

This is one of the few United Marion Corporation films VCI had not managed to get out on home video until now and its time for rediscovery is long overdue. Better than most such films now dying and trying desperately to be this authentic, you'll be surprised how much of this still works. And to think it looks really good for the low budget they had, serious filmmakers mighty want to take a look at it too.

Rounding out a decent cast are Kenneth Griffith, Faith Domergue, Pierre Olaf, Massimo Serato, Anthony Chinn and Relja Basic. These actors are not always as remembered as they ought to be, but they are the kind you have likely seen on many an occasion if you love films of this era, but could not name them, even if you recognized them. That's another reason to catch this one.

A feature length audio commentary track by film historian Robert Kelly is the only extra.

Justice League X RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsman, Part Two 4K (2023) continues the teams team-up tale we began covering in 4K at this link...


That joins nine and counting RWBY titles several of us have covered over the years, which you can look up at this link...


My colleague was not as impressed by the first installment, but things do pick up a little bit this time around, but unless you are familiar with the RWBY franchise and love, love, love Justice League, this might not be for you. The match-up makes sense, but the synergy is limited because there is not (without creating any spoilers) enough exposition on the characters and the Justice League is a little underdeveloped here for whatever reasons (time and/or budget limits) so only catch it if you see the first part and try some RWBY beforehand.

Extras include Digital Movie Code, while the disc adds two featurettes: I've Got Your Back: The Bond Between The Justice League X RWBY and You Look... Different: RWBY on Earth.

Willard Huyck's Messiah Of Evil (1974) is a creepy horror thriller from a filmmaker who later became know for his writing work on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Radioland Murders, Lucky Lady, French Postcards and two duds, Best Defense and especially Howard The Duck. Considering the broad comedy of most of the latter films, you might think he and his co-writer Gloria Katz could not make a more serious film of any kind. Well, we get some campy moments that hold this all back and a few that do not work, but this can be and often is a very dark film.

A small town near the sea is quiet, maybe too quiet, as the regulars seem to just go about their business, when you can see them at all. However, from a visit from a stranger many decades ago, something has overtaken the town and its residents. Each visitor finds they cannot get out of the town and when they least expect it.

The film is an early zombie film of sorts, but it is told in flashback (which does not make any of the events less creepy) from a woman (Marianna Hill) who was simply looking for her father, still damaged by what she saw and we get to see and hear the entire tale. The cast has some familiar faces, including model/actress Anitra Ford (one of the first models on the Bob Barker The Price Is Right had many great turns on TV and in movies,) legendary writer/director Walter Hill in a cameo, plus Joy Band, Michael Greer, Royal Dano, Elisha Cook, Jr. and Charles Dierkop.

When the darkness and suspense combine, the film is at its best and is up there with the original Night Of the Living Dead, Rosemary's Baby, Hitchcock's Psycho, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Last House On The Left, Cohen's It's Alive, Ganja and Hess, De Palma's Sisters and Clark's Black Christmas as an authentic part of one of the greatest stretches of horror cinema ever made. The film has not been recognized as such and not just because of that Marvel Comics movie, but because it is yet another orphan film that has dropped out of the public and horror movie conscience for way too long. Finally, we get a restored edition with plenty of extras to help permanently correct that. Any serious film fan, especially any serious horror film fan, has to consider this a must-see, but definitely stick with it when it goes astray in places.

Two editions of the film have been issued, including a more expansive Limited Edition with all the goods, including a feature length audio commentary by critics and horror experts Kim Newman and Stephen Thrower

  • Archival interview with co-writer-director Willard Huyck by Mike White from the Projection Booth Podcast

  • A new ''Messiah Of Evil'' documentary

  • Visual essay on the American Gothic by critic Kat Ellinger

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow

  • Limited edition 80-page booklet featuring new and archival writing

  • and ''Messiah Of Evil'' limited edition is presented in rigid box and full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings.

The later regular edition only has a single Blu-ray disc and the extras only offered on the disc itself.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.78 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on RWBY has the best image quality here, though it has some minor flaws, color and the solid appearance of the image throughout is fine. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is also well done and has a fine soundfield, so the combination works and is in line with most animated DC 4K titles we have covered so far.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Boys is not bad, but also has some purposely desaturated images throughout as part of its style, along with more than a few CGI soft spots, though so does most CGI in live action films, no matter their budget. Superhero productions are especially susceptible to this. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is pretty good and consistent, helping the presentation.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Devil Doll can show the age of the materials used, but this is superior to the DVDs we covered of the film before and more vivid. Therefore, any thing creepy is more effective, though expect some dated matte work and other visual effects that might sometimes be off. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is better than I expected for a film of its age and sounds easily as good as it ever will.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Gamblers can also show the age of the materials used with some softness that just might be a limits of the Blu-ray format (versus a possible 4K disc version?) with color and clarity being the real star of this otherwise and the PCM 2.0 Mono is as good as this film will likely ever sound. Mel Brooks' veteran composer John Morris delivers the well done music score.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Evil can show the age of the materials used here and there, but this has some impressive color (thanks to a solid 4K scan of the original 35mm color camera negative) and at times, detail, density and depth. Shot in Techniscope, it looks good and can be grainy, plus Technicolor did the lab work for it, but we could not confirm if it was one of the last films, Techniscope or otherwise, to get 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints, but some shots here look like it. The PCM 2.0 Mono is going to show its age too, but it has been well-restored and is very likely as good as this film will ever sound as well.

To order The Devil Doll Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com