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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Swords > Sorcery > Horror > Exploitation > Torture Porn > Fantasy > Surrealism > Conan Chronicles 4K (Barbarian (1982,) Destroyer (1984)/MVD/Universal/Arrow 4K Blu-ray Set)/Deadgirl (2008/Unearthed*)/Vile (2011*)/Wrong Door (1990/Visual Vengeance/*all MVD Blu-ray)

Conan Chronicles 4K (Barbarian (1982,) Destroyer (1984)/MVD/Universal/Arrow 4K Blu-ray Set)/Deadgirl (2008/Unearthed*)/Vile (2011*)/Wrong Door (1990/Visual Vengeance/*all MVD Blu-ray)

4K Picture: B/B+ Picture: X/X/B+/B-/B- Sound: B/B-/B+/B-/B- Extras: B (C+/B-)/B/C+/B Films: C+/C/C/C/C

Here's the latest set of upgraded genre releases, including two 4K action films that still have their followers...

The Conan Chronicles 4K include both films with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Robert E. Howard's all-time great action character that has been in books, comic books, toys and much more in 1932 and has built a loyal consistent and serious following since. It took half a century for any serious live action version to be made, but it finally happened when Dino De Laurentiis (Barbarella, Flash Gordon (1980,) Danger Diabolik) took it on and made it happen.

First came John Milius' Conan The Barbarian (1982) giving Schwarzenegger his first feature film hit, though it did not establish him as big box office at that point and many thought it would be his only major hit film, with some (whether they liked the film or not) were saying that the less he talked, the more the film worked. Writer/Director Milius (Big Wednesday, Red Dawn, Spielberg's 1941, Coppola's Apocalypse Now) us known for his right-wing tendencies, yet he wrote the screenplay with Oliver Stone (JFK, Nixon, Natural Born Killers, De Palma's Scarface, Cimino's Year Of The Dragon) for for being politically the opposite. However, the common denominator is that both are realistic filmmakers who do not shy away from grit or violence. That serves the film well here.

Comments on Schwarzenegger's voice notwithstanding, the strength of the film is that it has its stretches of silence that use visuals and action to tell the story the way passages of the books and the like would in any credible Conan adaption. James Earl Jones was already an important, successful actor before he became further immortalized as the voice of Darth Vader when he took on the villain role here, giving people (pre-Internet) the chance to see the actor in live action action.

Other cast members delivering and melding well with the script, locales, cinematography and atmosphere are Sandahl Bergman, Mako, William Smith, Gerry Lopez, Jack Taylor, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Valerie Quennessen, Franck Columbu and Max Von Sydow. That casting holds up well here, even when the film has not always aged well, plus some parts I did not think worked, plus some heavy-handed points that the film has been criticized for (which we will not get into here, partly due to lack of space) still makes for a film you can understand people like. Fans should be happy for the most part with the upgrade and expansion of this film.

Richard Fleischer's Conan The Destroyer (1984) had a great journeyman director, the lead was back and a larger budget was also there. This time, the cast included the return of Mako and Sven-Ole Thorsen as a different character, plus Grace Jones, Sarah Douglas, Tracey Walter (Burton's Batman,) Jeff Corey, Pat Roach (Never Say Never Again,) Wilt Chamberlain, Olivia D'Abo (The Living Daylights) and Ferdinand (aka Ferdy) Mayne. Its a more eclectic cast and with an odder script with more talk and less action, makes for an odd film with too many missed opportunities.

I guess the makers were trying to make the film more family/kid-friendly down to going from an 'R' to a 'PG' (PG-13 was just being invented) so it is one of the last such films ever made. Some of the fights are not bad and the cast is giving it its all, but it went too far into the wrong direction (Batman & Robin anyone?) and destroyed any chance of a series for decades, a series that has not been revived or has materialized since. D'Abo is very young here playing a princess they all have to get together and save. It just has too many asides and humor that usually does nto work. No cult following for this one yet, but it is sure a curio.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on both films do look better than all previous video releases of the film, but Barbarian is looking rougher than expected with more grain and what looks like more optical printing than I remembered. The films also remain the only two franchise films in history that used real anamorphic lenses (while shooting on 35mm to boot) to use two different brand lenses, neither of which were from Panavision and both highly underrated.

Barbarian was lensed by Director of Photography Duke Callaghan (Jeremiah Johnson, The Take, The Scalphunters, some key TV) with Todd-AO 35 lenses, like those used on Logan's Run, King Kong, Grizzly, Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, Polanski's MacBeth, The Devil's Rain, Ragtime, Day Of The Animals, Mad Max and Lynch's Dune. Considering the various budgets and types of films there, Barbarian looks the roughest of any of them and some of that may be intentional, but some of it looks like the original camera materials may not have held up as well as fans and preservationists might have liked. The response to this one by others will be very interesting.

Destroyer was lensed by one of the greatest cameramen of all time, Jack Cardiff, whose groundbreaking work in Technicolor and color filmmaking with The Archers to Hitchcock's Under Capricorn, The Black Rose, The African Queen, The Barefoot Contessa, The Vikings and The Prince & The Showgirl, among many others, this film looks more color rich and vivid than Barbarian. However, some could argue it looks too good and not as gritty as the last film, but more money was spent here and that includes the used of J-D-C Scope lenses. They were used on films like Return Of The Jedi, Year Of The Dragon, the original versions of Firestarter and Poltergeist, the Anthony Hopkins version of The Bounty, Razorback, Lifeforce, Leviathan, Rambo III, Superman IV, Highlandler 2, The Sicilian, Blue Velvet and the Schwarzenegger film Raw Deal. This looks pretty good as compared to most of the other sequels listed above, but this transfer also has some soft moments and blur a little more often than expected. Color is rich and more consistent, though.

The original theatrical monophonic sound has been remastered for DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mixes in both cases, but performing at least a bit better are the lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) upgrades that are not the best from monophonic films I have heard to date. The films were remixed for 5.1 for some earlier video releases, but those mixes where considered underwhelming. Barbarian actually sounds better in both cases, with the Destroyer mono weaker than expected and its Atmos seeming to be limited sonically overall. The Atmos upgrades are still not top notch, but as good as both films will ever sound, sometimes sadly. Just wish the mono was here in 2.0.

Extras include three versions of
Conan The Barbarian via seamless branching: Theatrical Cut (127 mins), International Cut (129 mins) and Extended Cut (130 mins), plus...

  • Archive commentary for Conan The Barbarian by John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Archive commentaries for Conan The Destroyer by Richard Fleischer and actors Olivia d'Abo, Tracey Walter and Sarah Douglas

  • Brand new commentaries for both films by genre historian Paul M. Sammon

  • Newly assembled isolated score tracks in lossless stereo for both films

  • Newly filmed interviews for Conan The Barbarian with production artist William Stout, costume designer John Bloomfield, special effects crew members Colin Arthur and Ron Hone, actors Jorge Sanz and Jack Taylor, assistant editor Peck Prior, visual effects animators Peter Kuran and Katherine Kean, filmmaker Robert Eggers (The Northman) and authors John Walsh and Alfio Leotto

  • Newly filmed interviews for Conan The Destroyer with Bloomfield and Walsh, casting director Johanna Ray, art director Kevin Phipps and stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong

  • Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan, an archive documentary from 2000 featuring interviews with Schwarzenegger, Milius, Stone, Jones, Lopez, Bergman, Poledouris and several others

  • Archive bonus features for both films, including interviews with sword master Kiyoshi Yamasaki, writers Roy Thomas & Gerry Conway and Poledouris, outtakes and more

  • A Tribute to Basil Poledouris, a series of videos produced by the Ubeda Film Music Festival, including video of Poledouris conducting a concert of music from Conan The Barbarian in 2006 (remixed in 5.1 surround)

  • Theatrical trailers and image galleries for both films

  • Double-sided fold-out posters for both films

  • Twelve double-sided collectors' postcards

  • and an illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing by Walter Chaw and John Walsh, and archive set reports for both films by Paul M. Sammon.

So that leaves one other unanswered question; how does it compare and do I think it compares to the 2011 Marcus Nispel-directed (semi-)remake with future Aquaman Jason Momoa? Here's the link to my review of the 4K release of that film with regular 2D and 3D versions:


Plagued with production issues and last minutes changes, it is not a perfect film and Momoa was simply instructed to play Conan every way Schwarzenegger did not. That put him in the same position Roger Moore was in making Live And Let Die and he did as well as he could. I still think it is the best Conan film to date, from what I said above about these two films to the so-so animated TV cartoon series and the live-action TV show from the late 1990s with Ralf Moeller that strayed too far form the books, et al.

Schwarzenegger tried to do a third King Conan film and Paul Verhoeven would have reunited with him from the original Total Recall to make it, but it never took off and now that it has been awhile since that got shelved, it will probably never happen again. It going to take a great combination of a new lead actor, writer, director, producer, cast and screenplay to make a new Conan film worth everyone's time to happen. Until then, no matter their flaws, Schwarzenegger is the definitive Conan and this set's very existence shows that.

Deadgirl (2008) gets a 15th Anniversary edition on Blu-ray thanks to the good people at Unearthed Films. The grotesque thriller shows how far unsupervised hormonal teenage boys can go when they discover a comatose imprisoned woman in an abandoned building who (despite several vile efforts) cannot be killed in the traditional sense. How she got there and who put her there is a complete mystery.

The high school boys become consumed by self empowerment and start doing terrible things to her both physically and sexually. Of course it doesn't take long for the word to spread to other boys in the school that there's a naked woman chained to a bed in an abandoned building. Other high school guys fall victim to her (lack of) charm as well so to speak. Then the Deadgirl starts to get violent and bite back in a rabid zombie-like state. Once that happens some very strange things occur to the men who wronged her. The last act makes you think it's going to go one way then goes another. While the film implies some pretty nasty things just off camera, it still does a good job of being pretty repulsive and sure to make most normal people shake their heads in either disgust or confusion. As for practically or realism, the film doesn't go to great lengths to be very realistic, as many things don't quite add up... but it is only a movie after all.

The film stars Shiloh Fernandez (Evil Dead), Noah Segan (Glass Onion), Michael Bowen (Breaking Bad) and Candice Accola (The Vampire Diaries).

Deadgirl 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, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). The film doesn't have much production value so to speak and limited locations outside of a high school and the abandoned building where most of it takes place. The cinematography is dark and appropriate for the story though although a few scenes could have been trimmed up a bit dialogue-wise in the editing color. All in all, the Blu-ray presentation is fine for the content.

Special Features:

Interview with Co-Director Gadi Harel

Interview with Writer Trent Haaga

Interview with Actor Noah Segan

Interview with Actor Shiloh Fernandez

Interview with Special Makeup Effects Artist & Designer Jim Ojala

Behind The Scenes Gallery

Extended Makeup FX Gallery

Audio Commentary with Cast & Crew

Audio Commentary by actor Jenny Spain

Exquisite Corpse: The Making of Deadgirl

Jenny Spain's Audition

Deleted Scenes

Promotional Stills Gallery

and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Deadgirl is sure to shock some, but could have been even more extreme if it wanted to. I'm not sure about the ending as it leaves a lot of questions, but perhaps that was the point of the filmmakers. The film is well made for being on the lower budget spectrum and the special effects are performances are pretty convincing.

The feature film debut from seasoned filmmaker Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone) comes this low budget horror film, Vile (2011). The flimsy horror romp results in a lot of yelling, torture, and fingernails being ripped from fingertips. The film is in the tradition of Saw or Hostel, but isn't as memorable or realistic as the any of them.

The film stars April Matson (Kyle XY), Greg Cipes (Teen Titans), Ian Bohen (Teen Wolf, Yellowstone) and Heidi Mueller & McKenzie Westmore (from the NBC soap opera Passions).

Two young couples offer a pretty lady a ride in the middle of nowhere at night and end up prisoners in a hostile environment. They find themselves gassed out in a walled up facility where a handful of others are held, all of which have devices attached to their heads meant to collect chemicals needed to make drugs with. The best way for the chemicals to be released is by fear and pain, leading to the prisoners being forced to hurt and mangle one another in order for their bodies to dispense the necessary chemical ingredients. Once enough physical damage has been dealt within a 24-hour period, they can be released. The results are what you expect, absolute madness. In essence, the film is similar to a Saw film only without the inventive torture and an overall message. In fact, the ending of the film is quite weak and doesn't really answer or solve much of anything. I can see that on paper this probably seemed like a better concept than what it turned out to be.

Vile 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 audio that includes a lossy English Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) and lossless LPCM 2.0 Stereo mix. The film was shot well enough for being a low budget production, but there are still a few scenes with bad color correction and moments of bad ADR dubbing on some of the actors where lips don't perfectly sync up. Both are pretty normal in the low budget filmmaking world. This is likely the best looking option available for seeing the film due to its age.

Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Trailer and Reversible Artwork.

The Wrong Door (1990) is a strange thriller where a student studying sound design ends up down a rabbit hole ending in murder and surrealism. Shot and produced pretty well for a low budget 1990 production, the film lands on disc for the first time courtesy of Visual Vengeance who supplied the film with a 2K transfer from the original Super 8mm photochemical film elements. The film has a strong start, but looses a little bit of steam midway. It does have a pretty cool ending though. All in all this is a film worth checking out if you like low budget regional horror films.

The film stars Robin Keller, James Groetsch, Loreal Steiner, and Jim Bullock to name a few.

The Wrong Door 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 a PCM 2.0 English stereo mix that are both appropriate for the film. This looks and sounds as good as it can on Blu-ray disc and is loaded with goodies as is the usual with Visual Vengeance. The film's lighting is probably its strongest suit and Visual Vengeance has done with a nice job with the presentation on the whole.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with directors Bill Weiss and Shawn Korby

Audio Commentary with director James Groetsch and producer John Schonebaum

New Documentary: Men Make Movie, If Not Million$

James Groetsch Interview

Shawn Korby Interview

Bill Weiss Interview

Actor Matt Felmlee Interview

Distributing The Wrong Door: Chris Gore Interview

Alternate Director's Cut of The Wrong Door (2019)

Super 8 short: Raiders of the Lost Bark (1983)

Super 8 short: The Pizza Man (1988)

TV Episode: The Gale Whitman Show

Original unedited Muther Video VHS intros

Image Gallery

Original Storyboards Gallery

Film Threat Review

Now Hiring Trailer

The Wrong Door Trailer

Visual Vengeance Trailers

2-sided Insert

Collectible folded poster

Reversible Sleeve Featuring Original VHS Art

and a 'Stick Your Own' VHS Sticker Set.

- Nicholas Sheffo (4K) and James Lockhart



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