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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Exploitation > Mystery > Crime > Drama > Italy > Dark Comedy > Superheroes > Monsters > Supernatura > August Underground: Penance (2007/Unearthed Films Blu-ray w/DVD*)/Facts Of Murder (1959/Radiance Blu-ray*)/Five Nights At Freddie's 4K (2023/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Titans: The Comple

August Underground: Penance (2007/Unearthed Films Blu-ray w/DVD*)/Facts Of Murder (1959/Radiance Blu-ray*)/Five Nights At Freddie's 4K (2023/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Titans: The Complete Fourth and Final Season (2022-2023/DC Comics/Warner DVD Set)/Vampires And Other Stereotypes (1994/Visual Vengeance Blu-ray/*all MVD)

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

Now for more genre releases of all kinds for you to know about...

Fred Vogel's August Underground: Penance (2007), produced by his independent horror label Toetag Pictures, lands on Blu-ray / DVD from Unearthed Films and for the first time to a broader market (previously it was only available second hand or on the now defunct Toetag Pictures website) can see this intense and vile film looking the best it can. Following Mordum and the original August Underground (reviewed elsewhere on this site), the conclusion of the shot on video trilogy puts the viewer in an uncomfortable seat watching as a sinister serial killer Peter (Vogel) slashes his way through the holiday season along with his partner, Krusty (Cristie Whiles.)

Penance puts an end to the trilogy by showing the serial killers starting to lose their edge a bit and one of them finally starts to shed a little humanity. The film features some of the most intense gore special effects I have ever seen on film and succeeds in being the ultimate gross out snuff film for those who appreciate that genre. Some of the most disturbing aspects of the film is its realism include a long murder/rape scene in a couple's house on Christmas and another long sequence where a pregnant woman is gutted. This is just the surface of what you see in this intensely sickening film!

This is definitely, I repeat, NOT for a casual viewer of horror films or anyone with a weak stomach.

August Underground's Penance 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 an original, lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) English 5.1 stereo mix. The film is purposely shot to be a found footage shot on VHS film and so the quality is intentionally bad which adds to the realistic and unsettling nature of the piece and works to its advantage. Also included is a more compressed DVD version of the film with similar specs.

Special Features include four feature-length audio commentary tracks, including...

Commentary by EFX Artist Jerami Cruise, Producer Shelby Vogel, Director Fred Vogel, and Ultra Violent Magazine's Art Ettinger

Commentary by Director Fred Vogel and Editor Logan Tallman

Commentary by Toetag

Commentary by Director Fred Vogel

Editing "August Underground's Penance": An Interview With Co-Editor Logan Tallman (BLU-RAY ONLY)

The Most Disturbing Scene (BLU-RAY ONLY)

Superfan Rob's Underground Experience (BLU-RAY ONLY)

Disemboweled: Behind the Bile Documentary

Commentary With Toetag on 'Disemboweled'

Zoe Rose Smith Interviews Fred Vogel (BLU-RAY ONLY)

Voyage to Perdition: An Interview With Fred Vogel (BLU-RAY ONLY)

Dave Parker's Roundtable with Fred Vogel, Jerami Cruise, Shelby Vogel, Logan Tallman, Ryan Logsdon (BLU-RAY ONLY)

Stephen Biro Interviews Jerami Cruise (BLU-RAY ONLY)

Deleted Scenes

Extended Scenes

"Poppa Pill - The Murderer Is Back" Music Video

"Rue - The Locust" Music Video

NEW Extended Photo Gallery

NEW Teaser Outtakes

and Trailers.

Pietro Germi's The Facts Of Murder (1959) is an interesting directorial effort by the director and sometimes-actor, also playing lead Inspector Ingravallo, trying to solve a robbery that leads him to a murder! If the robbery had been simple and simple to solve, he might have missed it, but instead he has more on his hands than it first seemed. However, he is practical in all matters and starts to investigate, including questioning a beautiful young lady (Claudia Cardinale) about her boyfriend, et al.

The film has its mystery, but is also a character study of sorts of the Inspector and Italian society as it was and partly still is today, in a long, ambitious 115 minutes with a great supporting cast, nice locations and a somewhat Noir look and feel, though the Noir period had just lapsed a year before the film's release. As photography become more detailed as all the film stocks of the time kept improving, you get a new look every few years and monochrome film was still very much in use as color was still so new and still on the expensive side. Add some elements of melodrama with touches of Italian Neo-realism as we have here and this is a key film all serious film fans should see at least once, especially in this remarkable restoration.

Germi already showed his acting chops in The Railroad Man (1956) and Man Of Straw (1958) when he took this on and happen to have also wrote and starred in them, so he was on a roll and followed this a few years alter with the huge international Marcello Mastroianni hit Divorce Italian Style, so this comes form a really prolific period. Cardinale was already getting notice for films like Big Deal On Madonna Street (the year before with Mastroianni) and in the same year, also had La Prime Notte and Il Magistrato putting her on the map before films like Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers (1960,) Girl With A Suitcase, The Lions Are Loose (both 1961,) Cartouche (1962,) Fellini's 8 1/2 and Visconti's The Leopard (both 1963) and the very first Pink Panther film (1964) put her on the international superstar map permanently. As of the late 2023 posting of this review, she is still in the acting business!

But this is also an intelligent adult film made for intelligent adults and we see that so rarely anywhere and limited-episode cable/streaming platforms are no true replacement for such cinema. Thus, despite some unevenness, it is highly recommended to all serious film fans, especially in this incredible restoration and you will not be disappointed with said expectations as explained here. Franco Frabrizi also stars.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer rarely shows its age and was shot totally on DuPont black and white 35mm negative film, itself a too-rare thing, but this looks amazing throughout and the 4K restoration ranges from impressive to stunning. DuPont has a film stock like no other company and was as solid and unique in its time as Kodak, Ansco, Gevaert, Ferrania, Agfa and Ilford. That the film is very well-shot only adds onto how compelling a watch it is and that includes demo shots. The original theatrical monophonic sound has been restored and is presented here in lossless, PCM 2.0 Mono sounding as good as it ever will.

Extras include:

  • New interview with Pietro Germi expert Mario Sesti (2023)

  • The Man With the Cigar in His Mouth - a documentary about Pietro Germi featuring interviews with his colleagues and collaborators including Mario Monicelli, Claudia Cardinale, Stefania Sandrelli, Giuseppe Tornatore among others (Mario Sesti, 1997, 41 minutes)

  • and What's Black and Yellow All Over? All Shades of Italian Film Noir - visual essay by Paul A. J. Lewis on the presence of noir trends in Italian cinema and the evolution of the genre (2023).

Five Nights At Freddie's 4K (2023) is based on a wildly successful video game franchise of the same name and has finally been brought to the big screen from Blumhouse (The Conjuring series, M3gan, Purge, the new Halloween revival) which is the perfect production company to pull off such young adult horror adaption. The film was a huge hit in theaters despite getting a same day release on the NBC/Universal/Comcast streaming network, Peacock, and is the first of many films in the franchise. Its overall critical reception wasn't too stellar, but it seemed like those familiar with the game weren't too upset. The film is edgy and pushes the PG-13 rating by not showing too much onscreen blood and guts even if it does touch upon some disturbing topics such as child abduction and kidnapping.

The film stars Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail, Matthew Lillard, Mary and Stuart Masterson.

Mike (Hutcherson) is low on options and has to take care of his lovable young sister Abby (who may get adopted by his sinister Aunt if he's not careful) so he reluctantly signs up for a job as a night time security guard at an abandoned themed restaurant called Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria. Mike soon discovers that the animatronic characters that live at Freddy's come to life after midnight and kill anyone who comes onto their territory in a hellish game of cat and mouse. But there’s an odd connection between Mike's past and the characters of the pizzeria.

Five Nights at Freddy's 4K is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with HDR10, an HEVC / H.265 codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.00:1 and an audio track in lossless, English Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems; both 48kHz, 24-bit). The 4K UHD disc is far superior to the also included 1080p Blu-ray edition which shares the same audio mixes and solid picture presentation. The film is nicely shot and the production design inside Freddy's and the creepy animatronic characters are really done well.

Special Features include:

Five Night's at Freddy's: From Game to the Big Screen featurette

Killer Animatronics

Five Nights in Three Dimensions

and an Original trailer.

Five Nights at Freddy's is a fun PG-13 popcorn munching horror flick that’s pretty enjoyable and translates the creepy world of the video game to the screen accurately.

The DC Comics TV series Titans is finally coming to an end after four long seasons on HBO MAX as its primary streaming source with Titans: The Complete Fourth and Final Season (2022 - 2023.) The teen superhero series is a gritty take on the Teen Titans series and tries to be the DC universe's answer to the X-Men, proving once again that hormones and super powers don't easily mix. There is also a Blu-ray edition on the market but we will be covering the standard definition DVD edition here.

The series stars Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Curran Walters and Conor Leslie.

Ten Episodes make up the season and are entitled (Episode 1) Lex Luthor, (2) Mother Mayhem, (3) Jinx, (4) Super Super Mart, (5) Inside Man, (6) Brother Blood, (7) Caul's Folly, (8) Dick and Carol and Ted and Kory, (9) Dude, Where's My Gar?, and (10) Game Over.

Titans is presented in standard definition, anamorphically enhanced DVDs with a 2.00:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix. The show looks as good as it can on the aging format of DVD with compressed image and a 5.1 sound mix that is fine. There is obviously a decent budget to the show as the look and scope of it is pretty cinematic it does have some nice production design and digital effects which is on par with other DC series in the same vein such as Gotham.

Special Features include the featurettes Mystical Women, Welcome to Metropolis and Baptism in Blood.

Visual Vengeance rescues another shot on video film from obscurity: Vampires And Other Stereotypes (1994). The film is ultra low budget and isn't quite as wild and entertaining as some of the cover art may lead you to believe. It seems to me that this movie was shot in a Halloween haunted house that's sets were re-used for a movie. There are a few creative moments featuring a giant mutant rat, but all in all, the film is a tough one to sit through and will have you scratching your head even if it does illustrate homemade horror from the VHS era.

This a first feature from prolific 1990s Shot-On-Video writer, producer, director Kevin J. Lindenmuth. It stars Fia Perera, Laura Vale, and Rick Poll amongst others.

The film follows a group of teens who step into a portal that leads to hell and they are stuck within it where they meet two mysterious characters that seem to know their way around the place...

Vampires And Other Stereotypes is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a fullscreen aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and an English 2.0 stereo mix. Given that the film was shot on video it can only look so good and given that this was a low budget production Visual Vengeance has done what they can with the resources in existence. This is a new 'director supervised SD Master from 1-inch tape' and is definitely the best that this film has ever looked or sounded before.

Special Features include three feature length audio commentary tracks including:

An Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Lindenmuth

A second Audio Commentary with Actor Mick McCleery and Director Kevin Lindenmuth

and a third Audio Commentary with Tony Strauss of Weng's Chop Magazine

Director Kevin Lindenmuth Interview

Actress Laura McLauchlin Interview

Actor Mick McCleery Interview

Actress Suzanne Turner Interview

Actress Sally Narkis Interview

Makeup Effects Artist Ralis Kahn Interview

Special Effects Artist Scott Sliger Interview

Photographer Sung Pak Interview

Publicist Joe Mauceri Interview

Behind the Scenes Image Gallery

Kevin Lindenmuth Early Super 8 Films

Original Trailer

Visual Vengeance Trailers

Six-page liner notes by Tony Strauss of Weng's Chop Magazine

'Stick your own' VHS sticker set

Collectible Folded mini-poster

Reversible sleeve featuring original VHS art

and a Limited Edition Slipcase: FIRST PRESSING ONLY.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Murder) and James Lockhart



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