Diary of a new at Home 3D Blu-Ray Fan or How to get Started with 3D at Home Part 3!

Per my previous post I have jumped into the world of 3D Blu-ray/Home Projection and I LOVE IT! 3D TV’s being dead, or prohibitively expensive (for the used ones remaining) held me off for a long time.

However, I did my homework and research (for months) before acquiring my current system, and for under $1500 ( and potentially under a $1000 if you get great deals) you can all-in [Blu-ray, projector, screen, glasses] , have a GREAT 3D system.

So quick update on what I have seen on my 3D system, since part 1, and what the winners and losers are.

Today’s 3D film reviews are two films that actually surprised me.

First watch is THE LEGEND OF HERCULES from 2014.

2014 was one of those years where we had multiple films come out on the same subject. Much as 1981 was the year of the WEREWOLF movie, with three great Werewolf films, 2014 was the year of the sword and sandal films, most notably with 2 big budget HERCULES films reaching theaters that year; the arguably more lauded HERCULES starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson with a pretty great cast of supporting character actors, and then this one, THE LEGEND OF HERCULES. Nothing about this one, from the lead actor to the poster art, made me at all interested in this film.

I think I even caught a bit of this on tv, and just was not compelled enough to finish it. However since I am now on the 3D kick, and had seen the Rock’ HERCULES film in 3D (The 3D is pretty great in that film) and reviews had pointed to this one having great 3D as well, i decided to give this film a look.

A quick aside on 3D, a great 3D home experience depends on your personal setup. So depending on your setup, or lack of, your mileage may vary. At a minimum I suggest a multi-region Blu-ray player that will play 3D. Also either a 3D tv, or more likely these days a DLP 3D projector , and Active Shutter glasses. Your glasses are very important in terms of not just comfort, but image quality. Better active glasses will have a switch to flip the left right views, which makes a MASSIVE difference depending what content you are watching. If the content is flipped, it is going to appear slightly out of focus, incorrect depth wise etc; so a good pair of Active Shutter glasses will let you resolve/fix that with just a press on the glasses. So like anything else, if you are having a less than stellar experience with something, check your setup and tools. As mentioned if I get 7 likes on this post, and the previous parts of this article, i will do a post breaking down my exact recommended 3d/2d hardware/setup.

I have to say, watching this film in 3D, two things surprised me.

One, the 3D from the first frame is what people call Reference quality. Or more literally, this Blu-ray is ‘Show off’ quality. This is one of the 3D discs you put in to sell people who don’t like 3D, on 3D. I just loved the deep depth and clear separation between layers, between all the spatial elements. A lot of newer 3D, is afraid of looking too 3Dy, they are afraid of the clear separation, that for me is the best thing about 3D. This one you can look deep into the screen, offering wonderful depth, as well as offering very compelling and fun push outs.

I was not expecting how impressive the 3D looked, and the thing about really good 3D is it can be the same as really good camera work, or really good sound design, it can become part of the storytelling process, rather than just a gimmick. It can be a part of involving you and immersing you in the story.

I’m not sure if this film was Natively Shot in 3D, or post-converted (if post converted it is a great example of masterful 3D conversion) , but Director Renny Harlin definitely shot it with 3D in mind, with scenes of items projecting toward the viewer. And this effective 3D when added to the story, which to my 2nd surprise I found very compelling, creates a movie that entertained me from first frame to last.

Now it is not perfect by any means. The lead actor does an ok job, however he still seems like a strange choice for the titular character, and Scott Adkins, who I am always happy to see in a film, here is just such a scenery chewing stock villain… it is more than a bit of a caricature rather than a fleshed out character. So there is some storytelling/performance weakness to the film, but not enough to derail what is just a fun, and largely highly enjoyable action/adventure film.

I would say 3D for me really does add a ton to the viewing experience, and while 3D is not as essential to it as 3D is to THE LIFE OF PI, it is a film I would prefer to only watch in 3D.

Grade: A very good film with a reference quality 3D presentation. B- for the movie. A for the 3D.

 

Second watch is THE MAZE (1953).

Kino Lorber and the 3-D Film archive has been the champion for home 3D here in the 21st century, restoring classic 3D films for the home market. So at a time when US theaters have backed away from 3D releases, Kino Lorber and 3D Film Archive have been remastering classic releases for the home 3D enthusiast.

I am lucky enough to have an almost complete collection of their releases, and the ones I have seen, with one exception, are 3D reference quality releases. When I saw THE MAZE, was a B&W film, after issues I had with a DRAGONFLY SQUADRON (an Olive Films released film, also restored by the 3-D Film Archive) I was gunshy about another B&W restoration.

DRAGONFLY SQUADRON sports excessive noise and damage in the film, which is exacerbated and rendered difficult to watch in 3D. So given this I went into the B&W film THE MAZE, with some trepidation. Making assumptions that B&W because of its monochromatic nature, lends itself to a flattening of the image, that does not serve 3D.

Well, a few minutes into THE MAZE, I realize my error. THE MAZE is sumptuous, stellar, ‘Show-Off’ quality 3D Blu-ray! And the film, allowing for its cheap 1950s budget and special effects, is ultimately a fun, eerie, gripping film. Final grade: Film ‘B+’ and 3D effects ‘A’. A must own for any 3D fan!

KINO LORBER Boutique Blu-ray Label Overview PART 2: FIVE FOR FRIDAY

Last installment I covered some recommended titles from Kino Lorber’s ‘While Supplies Last’ sale. This time I just wanted to cover five titles in general that caught my attention and are on my ‘to buy’ list.

Without further ado, here they are!

p.s. As a hint I generally do not purchase films that do not offer special features. At a minimum I need a film commentary.  Physical media should give you more than you can get from just watching it on streaming, or why pay for it.

So yeah if I own it, or recommend it, it has special features. The only exception for that is titles that may not be available streaming, or 3D titles, or other scarce titles, where we are just lucky to still have the film.

Okay, now we get to it!

 

 

Very interesting sounding film from the Director of DUEL AT DIABLO. And since I have that film, I have to get this one.

This one just sounds bonkers in all the right ways. Not because the movie is going to be great, I have my doubts about that. But just the backstory behind it, namely getting relatives of famous stars to star in an exploitation movie. The commentary on this one seems poised to be full of amazing Hollywood anecdotes and backstory.

This movie sold me on its names. Name One: Director Budd Boetticher, I am now interested in seeing more of his films after picking up Arrow’s sold out FIVE TALL TALES boxset. Name Two: Jeff Chandler who has never given a bad performance and was great in a jaw dropping performance in TEN SECONDS TO HELL Name Three: Sidney Poitier. Hell you could have led with that. I have picked up every single Kino Lorber release with the great Sidney Poitier (DUEL AT DIABLO, almost sold out, Gals and Ghouls! 🙂 ). So yeah, this one is a must buy.

I love the films of John Sturges, and not only have I never seen this film, I have never heard of this film. And another film that is sold by its names: the aforementioned John (MAGNIFICENT SEVEN) Sturges! Richard (One of my favorite Movie and radio actors ever) Widmark! And Borden (I wrote two of the best westerns ever, RED RIVER and WINCHESTER 73) Chase!! What?!!! This is an easy must buy.

I did not love this film the first time i saw it, however it is possible i did not give it the attention it deserved. And considering this is one of the most ‘special feature’ rich releases, from the typically bare bones Kino Lorber, this is a must buy, for the special features alone.

Honorable Mentions:

I can not recommend this Blu-ray because it does not have any commentary or special features, but it sounds incredibly interesting. I’m going to look on streaming for this one. I really want to see if it is as good and interesting as it sounds.

 

I do not currently have an affiliate link with Kino Lorber, however you can click on the images above and they will take you to the item on Amazon. If you use the link you get a great item, and this blog gets a very appreciated couple of pennies. A win-win!

The Three Greatest Werewolf Films of All Time!

The Three Greatest Werewolf Films of All Time all came out the same year, 1981. Talk about the zeitgeist in action.

The films are:

 

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THE HOWLING (1981) – Don’t hold the awful sequels against this original, the original is justifiably lauded for a reason.  Like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, this was a movie made by kids, who believed there were still worlds to conquer. A talented young Joe Dante as director, a brilliant young John Sayles as Screenwriter, a gifted 19 year old Rob Boteen, coming off of assisting Rick Baker, creating one of the greatest special effect, transformation sequences in the history of film… and in front the camera a legendary cast of character and veteran actors, led by Dee Wallace’s brilliant performance; all come together to create one of the most beloved and brilliant films of its kind, or any kind.

 

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AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) – No one remembers or continually goes back to the ‘serious’ A-films of 1981, but this little thought of and hard fought and continually enjoyable B-picture, by a young maverick director John Landis and young makeup/special effects artist Rick Baker, remains now almost 40years later, the stuff that careers and legends are made of. An academy award for its makeup effects, it is forever the standard by which all such films are judged.

 

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WOLFEN (1981) – Is the oft overlooked 3rd film , that makes up the holy trinity of great werewolf films released in 1981. it lacks the transformation and special effects that immortalize THE HOWLING and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and perhaps that accounts for its under the radar status.

Also it is not a showy, flashy horror film, it is something a lot darker and more dire. WOLFEN is a slow, brooding, unnerving, and genuinely frightening study and indictment, not so much of monsters… as of men. It is a brilliant film, the first and only dramatic feature film by director Michael Wadleigh, whose only other credits included documentaries. With a director that was nearly 40, this was (unlike HOWLING and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) not a film done by talented, optimistic kids; instead there is a more mature, pensive, jaundiced eye at work here.

While a disappointment in the box office, largely because it was a more thoughtful film than the advertising promised, this film is a masterpiece. It ended Wadleigh’s career before it had a chance to grow, and that is a shame. This first film leaves us to only wonder, what subsequent dramatic films from him, could have been.

WOLFEN has so many strengths. Albert Finney delivers one of his great performances, buoyed by other talented actors… Gregory Hines, Edward Olmos, the script is captivating, the James Horner score haunting, and it is a truly frightening film, in ways that has nothing to do with what you see. Of the three great Werewolf films, it is the one that I think has the most to say. It is just a phenomenal, unjustly forgotten film. And if you do pick up the film via Bluray or streaming, I also STRONGLY urge you to pick up the Whitley Strieber audio-book performed by the late, great Roddy McDowall. That is equally a masterpiece.

 

Well hope you found that little look at the three greatest Werewolf films, enjoyable and informative. If you did, please subscribe, and patronize the links below. Your purchases help earn a few needed pennies for this blog, to keep the proverbial doors open. Much appreciated!

 

Till next time… be well!

WOLFEN Blu-Ray

I hope one of the Blu-Ray labels finally releases a worthy, feature filled director’s commentary. This movie deserves it.

WOLFEN Audio Book performed by Roddy McDowell

AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON

THE HOWLING

and

Stuck at home Item of the Day!

DVD/Bluray Purchases for Week 1 of 2020!! Haul / Deals of the Week!

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.See my previous post where I sing the praises of this film.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.The webpage will not show this image anonymously. Film Noir fan, so this collection of little seen noirs was a must buy. Currently re-watching 1957’s riveting SHADOW ON THE WINDOW by director William Asher (who before he became known for his tv work and teen beach movies, made three notable films, JOHNNY COOL, THE 27TH DAY, and this one). SHADOW ON THE MOON is a thriller, with very ahead of its time sensibilities. One of the earliest films to deal with child trauma, broken homes, latchkey syndrome, and teen violence. It is a surprisingly good film. Unfortunately it is a pretty bare-bones Bluray collection; no commentaries, special features etc. Usually that is reason enough for me not to purchase physical media, however in this case you do get nine well mastered films per collection, for roughly the cost of one film. And the films look great. Purchase Here!

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Bought this one, because it was described as a type of ode to THE WILD BUNCH, and it starred Woody Strode. I went for the DVD over the Blu-ray, because the Bluray offered nothing additional, arguably not even a better picture, and the DVD was half the price. Purchase Here.

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI – An Orson Welles masterpiece, starring Orson Welles and his stunning wife Rita Hayworth, and made when their marriage was falling apart. And it is a testament to Welles as filmmaker, and both of them as actors, that none of that is in the film. Finally remasterd on Bluray and with special features and commentary, and it is dirt cheap. A no-brainer of a buy! One of Welles top 5 films, and from a filmmaker who made arguably nothing but great films, that is saying a lot. Purchase here.

I had never even heard of this movie before, but all the reviews were very strong for this 1945 film Noir imbued thriller. And being directed by the great Joseph H. Lewis  (of THE BIG COMBO fame), with a feature reach, remastered Arrow Video release made this the last of this installment’s must buy Dvds and Blurays. Purchase Here!

Must own Bluray/DVD in the age of Streaming : THE QUEEN OF SPADES (1949)

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QUEEN OF SPADES

Thorold Dickinson made 13, by all accounts , WELL RECEIVED FEATURE films in his career, most dealing to some degree with guilt, and the horrible vagaries of the human heart. The queen of spades is by all reports his masterpiece.

I have not seen most of those other films (exception being 1940s GASLIGHT another phenomenal Gothic, horror tinged period piece) , but I have seen his 1949 THE QUEEN OF SPADES… it is by any standards… a masterpiece. A visual feast, with haunting use of sound, to tell a tale of an officer grasping for riches and status, at any cost.

Anton Walbrook, as that central figure, delivers one of the great performances in cinema, as a man scraped raw by his own desire for… more. It is truly a brilliant film, a florid drama/fable, made gothic and horrific by the stunning visual flourishes and cinematography. The feature rich Kino Lorber/Studio Canal Bluray looks phenomenal and is a must own.

I’ve seen this film three times now, once to listen to the Nick Pinkerton commentary, and while I don’t like the commentary (can get a little droning, monotone and bloated and chaotic) the film itself, simply just gets better everytime.

A highly recommended film and Bluray to own in the age of streaming. Highest Recommendation!  Grade:  A/A+.

 

Get it here!