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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Horror > Vampire > Crime > Air America/Cujo/Near Dark/Red Heat (Lionsgate Blu-rays)

Air America/Cujo/Near Dark/Red Heat (Lionsgate Blu-rays)


Picture: B-/B-/C+/B     Sound: B-/B-/C+/B-     Extras: C-/C/C+/C+     Films: C-/C/C+/C+



Lionsgate continues to issue key back catalog titles on Blu-ray and four of the more talked about titles they hold rights to.  We have covered two of the four previously and links to their DVD coverage are included.


Air America (1990) is Director Roger Spottiswoode’s awful Vietnam comedy with no laughs co-starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr. as the pilots of the secret flying service of the title.  It was awful, has not aged well at all and is from Spottiswoode’s worst period, which is ironically among his most promoted films.  Loosely based on a book, it has all kinds of errors, parachutes from the 1980s, hit records by America form the 1970s, yet it is supposed to take place in the late 1960s.  Burt Kwouk (the original Pink Panther series) even shows up in this sad mess.  At least the leads’ careers recovered.


This was shot in Super 35mm by the great Roger Deakins and even blown-up into 70mm prints with a 4.1 Dolby magnetic surround mix and SR (Spectral Recording) Dolby noise reduction, but the look is one of the only things watchable here.  On this Blu-ray, that sound is stretched to DTS HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1, the only 7.1 mix on all four Blu-rays here, but I give the remixers credit for trying to stretch the sound out.  It sometimes works, but other times it does not and the sources they use show their age.  Extras include the original trailer, three making of featurettes and feature length audio commentary track by Co-Writer/Co-Producer John Eskow.



Cujo (1983)




Near Dark (1987) is Katherine Bigelow’s breakout independent vampire film that turned out to be as influential as Lost Boys the same year and marked elements of the Professional Western becoming pretty much a permanent fixture of the genre since.  Adrian Pasdar (Top Gun) plays a seducer who falls for the wrong gal (Jenny Wright), who happens to be a vampire, part of a rogue team of killers with issues traveling the country.  Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein and James LeGros (all good actors) also star in this fan favorite that has some good moments, but was never a film that stayed with me despite its ambitions.


Director of Photography Adam Greenberg (Terminator 2, Ghost) does some of what is still the best work of his career here, but despite how clean the image can be, the print looks very aged and transfer soft.  This was originally recorded in the infamous (and infamously distorted) analog Ultra Stereo system, presented here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes.  It is distorted throughout and the DTS only shows that all the more.  Extras include feature length audio commentary track by Bigelow, Deleted Scenes with her commentary, trailers and a making-of piece called Living In Darkness.


Red Heat (1988)




The 1080p 2.35 X 1 image (save 1.78 on Heat and 1.85 on Dark) all disappoint and do not look like a new film print by any means, though Red Heat is the best-looking of the four by a small margin.  Cujo also looks too soft and old for a recent anniversary upgrade.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 on Cujo comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and are still all better than just having old Dolby Digital from the DVDs, but are not always spectacular here.  Extras on the DVD versions of the previously reviewed titles are included on the Blu-rays.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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