March 30, 2013

Blu Review- From Beyond (1986)

When it comes to buying horror movies on Blu-ray, we have one issue; we already own so many horror movies on DVD, that upgrading them all to Blu-ray would cost a small fortune. There are however some titles that we just have to own in the best format available, and so we open to you our Blu-ray Archives, which consist of what we consider to be Must Own Horror Blu-ray's.

From Beyond (1986)

Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Price: $19.99
Two-disc set
1 50GB BR Disc
1 DVD copy
Video: 1080p
1:78:1 AR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/2.0
Subtitles: English
Region A

From Beyond is one of the most enjoyable horror flicks to have come out of the 80's, plain and simple. It's full of otherworldly Lovecraftian brilliance, it has the ever-sexy Barbara Crampton acting her ass off in a state of erotic overdrive, and it features the much beloved Jeffrey Combs at the top of his manical game. Aside from a few instances of cheesiness here and there, From Beyond is an effective flick that has held up well over the last 27 years.

What Stuart Gordon created with From Beyond, is a dazzling glimpse into an alternate universe that unbeknownst to we humans, exists all around us. You have to use a resonator to actually see this other world -it stimulates the pineal gland, which is obviously the key to the melding of dimensions- but once you do, all kinds of creepy shit shows up and tries to eat your head.

It's basically a flick that uses gore and sensuality to show you what the consequences are when you get a little too curious. It reminds me, in places, of movies like The Thing and Hellraiser, but that could jsut be me.

They call him Dr. Love.
The movie looks great in HD. It's not reference quality or anything, and it isn't quite as filmic as I'd like (I love film grain), but for the most part it's smooth and crisp in its presentation, even if it is a bit soft. The resonator and its glow are gorgeous to behold in HD, and where the Blu-ray treatment really shines is during most of the FX shots; the monsters look great here, in all of their slimy, nasty glory.

I'll admit that I'm easily wowed by most Blu-ray offerings, which is to say that I don't nitpick every detail of the transfer looking for flaws, nor do I particularly care if every frame isn't crisp, brilliant perfection. That said, the visuals here didn't necessarily "wow" me, but neither did they leave me thinking that things could have looked better. This is a pretty transfer, and it's most definitely the best the movie has ever (or likely will ever) look on any home video format.

If there's one thing that I can and have to nitpick, it's the way that some of the old school FX shots come off. To put it plainly, some of them look extremely dated and are pretty poor. I'm talking in particular about the flying monster and the night vision-like "beyond" scenes here, because they do not look as slick as the rest of the FX shots in the movie. To be fair, there was only so much that FX guys could do back in the 80's, especially with a small budget.

There's a penis growing out of that penis.
The DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track on this disc is crisp and sounds great.

Not being much of an audiophile, that's about as much expertise on this subject that I can pretend to be all smart about here, because honestly, who cares. If it sounds good, I'm all set, and this one really does sound great.

Aside from the special features listed below, which are all fun to watch, the best "special feature" on this disc is the fact that this is an unrated cut. What's so impressive about that, aside from the fact that some long lost scenes were re-incorporated back into the movie, is how they were so painstakingly cleaned up and made to look fantastic, even though the source material was scratchy and in very poor shape; they don't look out of place at all, as some re-integrated scenes tend to. They did an excellent job with the restoration of said scenes, and they explain the process in the "THE EDITING ROOM: LOST AND FOUND" mini-doc, which just makes it all the more fascinating.

FROM BEYOND Collector’s Edition – Unrated Director’s Cut bonus content:
  • Audio Commentary with writer Denis Paoli
  • MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS – A look at the film’s extensive Make-Up & Creature Effects with Special Effects Creators John Buechler, Anthony Doublin, John Naulin, and Mark Shostrom (20 mins)
  • PAGING DR. MCMICHAELS – An interview with Actress Barbara Crampton (15 mins)
  • A TORTURED SOUL – An interview with Actor Jeffrey Combs (15 mins)
  • AN EMPIRE PRODUCTION – An interview with Executive Producer Charles Band (5 mins)
  • Audio Commentary with director Stuart Gordon and the cast
  • THE DIRECTOR’S PERSPECTIVE – interview with Stuart Gordon
  • THE EDITING ROOM: LOST AND FOUND – Gordon Stuart and MGM restoration team interview
  • Interview with composer Richard Band
  • Storyboard to Film Comparisions with Introduction
  • Two photo galleries
Suck that eyeball, boy... the good stuff's behind it!
As a movie, From Beyond is an A as far as we're concerned; it hits just about every note that a good movie needs to, and despite one or two minor flaws, is an exceptionally fun movie to kick back and spend 90 minutes with.

As a Blu-ray disc, there's really nothing here to complain about. We're not going to call it a perfect release, but we can easily say that it is perfectly awesome on just about every front. Shout! Factory has taken another beloved genre favorite of old, given it a beautiful Blu-ray transfer, loaded the disc with entertaining extras, and made us happy. They are the go-to company for Blu-ray horror releases right now, period.

It's a must own for us, and should be for you too.

4 out of 5 Blu Masters
Barbara Crampton didn't only bring the sexy to her role in From Beyond, she actually gave one hell of a performance, so don't just look at her like she's a piece of meat!

We offer you now some sexy pictures of Ms. Crampton, because how do you take pictures of acting talent?

March 27, 2013

The Digital Dread Report for the week of March 26th

This week is so jam-packed with must have releases, that It feels like Hollywood has declared a Jihad against my wallet.

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Good Lord I'm going broke this week.

The When a Stranger Calls/Happy Birthday to Me and Hollow Man 1 &2 2-packs are good buys on the cheap, especially the former. They aren't breaking anybody's bank (they're only $5-$10 depending on where you get them), but it's the rest of the must-have's of the week that are going to hurt.

The Collection is the cool little follow up to The Collector, and we're glad to finally have then both on Blu-ray.

Shout Factory's releases of 80's classics From Beyond and Phantasm 2 are our most coveted releases this week, not just because both are awesome flicks, but because they are seeing release on Blu-ray for the first time ever. Hell, Phantasm 2 didn't even see a DVD release until a few years ago (and it was a lackluster offering), so this is a pretty big one. We need both of these in our creepy little hands asap.

For $40 or so dollars, The Terminator Anthology is a must have. All of the Terminator flicks are great (to their own degree), and it will be nice to finally have them all in one package, not to mention in glorious HD.

Last, but absolutely not least, is the DVD release of the complete Johnny Sokko and His Giant Robot series. Between Giant Robot and Ultraman, I watched little else when I was a wee lad. To be fair, I was a wee lad in the late 70's/early 80's, and there were only like 10 channels on TV back then, but whatever.

Giant Robot is pure cheesy bliss, and if you've never seen it, you're missing out. This may not be the best release of the week (technically or quality wise), but it is certainly the one with that inspires the most affection from me.

People tend to throw around the "... like a kid on Christmas!" phrase way too much, but I promise you that this Giant Robot DVD release will make me feel exactly like a kid on Christmas. Or in a candy store. Perhaps even at the Neverland Ranch. Whichever way you cut it, I'll be screaming.

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The week's non-horror releases are all pretty solid.

Continuum is a fun little Canadian Sci-Fi show, and though I don't feel the need to own it, it's definitely worth a watch. It helps a ton that Rachel Nichols is in it, because she's one of our faves (and original Horror Hotties to boot.)

Star Trek is not my thing, never has been, but I'm sure there's lots of peeps out there who love it and will covet the release of Enterprise S1. Knock yourselves out.

Futureworld is the sequel to the classic Westworld, and a classic in its own right, and worth a look for fans of 70's craziness.

Killing Me Softly is one we'll probably end up buying when it hits a smaller price point, because Brad Pitt playing an ice-cold Irish Hitman is something you just have to love. This movie was much maligned when it hit theaters last year, but it was a fun watch, and didn't deserve most of the dislike that was heaped upon it.

The Jurassic Park flicks hitting Blu-ray is a good thing, although I'm not sure I love them enough to upgrade from DVD just yet. No doubt they'll look and sound great in HD, but they're gonna have to wait to join my collection. When they hit the $10 or less price point, I will make my move!

Finally, the 20th Anniversary edition of The Sandlot is a beautiful thing to see for anyone who grew up watching it endlessly on VHS. It's a great flick, and it features a smoking hot 19-year-old Marley Shelton, who inspired a generation of young boys to fall in love with not only her, but hot lifeguards as well. We don't cover comedy titles here often (which makes perfect sense, since we're not a comedy website), but this one is definitely a non-genre must have.

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The week's Rent-its are a mostly-solid little bunch, especially The Frankenstein Theory and Easy Money. We'll catch up with most of these at some point.

Maybe we'll skip the one with Jude Law as a sexy vampire, because, meh.

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The ones we're skipping this week are all cheesy-looking cheapo's. You know the kind; cool posters, shitty movies.

We can't truly say that any of these flicks are shitty (because we've seen exactly none of them), only that we're anticipating their shitty-ness.

We can say with first hand experience however, that Bangkok Revenge pretty much sucked. We expected a good time from that one, and it was not very good at all. The Raid: Redemption has truly spoiled us.... so go rent that instead.