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!

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!

Stuck at Home? Currently Watching: HIGH MOON streaming on Roku via Amazon Prime Channel/App!

Stuck at home? Well here is a suggestion:

 

HIGH MOON aka HOWLERS(2019) – I like Westerns and I like Werewolf movies, so combine the two and I’m definitely the audience. Add to that this Josh Ridgeway directed flick is actually not the campy parody the title would suggest (HIGH NOON being one of my favorite Westerns).

Smartly written, also by Josh Ridgeway, with a nice mix of horror and wit, and excellently performed by a cast of solid actors, this movie is surprisingly good. Matthew Tomkins, who I have never seen give a bad performance, is his usual rock solid self, and the whole cast delivers. Chad Michael Collins is great as the primary protagonist, the time tossed Cowboy, Colt. Tom Zembrod, as his furry nemesis is the type of scenery chewing villain, that puts a smile on your face. Sean Patrick Flannery also keeps the film flying with his portrayal as a Mayor, quite a few steps beyond corrupt. And the ladies likewise, Chelsea Edmunson and April Hartman have roles of some complexity to dig into.

Add in good makeup effects, solid action, and characters you care about and you have a rip-roaring monster mashup. Man, did i have a lot of fun with this movie. A solid B+.

Howlers (2019)

Really glad I caught this courtesy of Amazon prime, and this one goes on my ‘to own’ list.

No Blu-ray at this time, but you can snag the DVD here!

Three must watch Short Werewolf Horror Films! On VOD Now!

 

Delightful. Suitable for all ages.

Definitely not suitable for all ages, Pretty disturbing actually. But incredibly well done.

End of the Road (2015)

All three of these movies are great for different reasons. END OF THE ROAD skews closest to the traditional WEREWOLF film,and it pays off in a GREAT creature design, and just a pretty memorable and fantastic sequence. A must watch.

 

Check Vimeo, or Amazon Prime, or Youtube to view the above titles. Would love to hear your comments once you do.

Movie of the Day: WOLVES (2014) by David Hayter

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David Hayter-‘s WOLVES- I really didn’t love the trailer for WOLVES, but being a werewolf movie, my favorite genre of horror movie, I thought i’d give it a try. Initially I thought this was going in TEEN WOLF and TWILIGHT territory, but thankfully it strayed pretty quickly from that path, becoming a far better and more satisfying film than the trailers hinted at.

Combining great performances, a compelling story, outstanding direction cinematography and editing, and a stellar soundtrack, and some of the best Werewolf makeup and transformations and you have just a home-run of a film. Jason Momoa is such a galvanizing physical presence and is perfect here in his role of crazed Alpha dog.

This one I saw for free courtesy of HULU, it is an easy MUST OWN. Grade: A-.

WOLVES (2014) aka: Les Loups-Garous, CANADIAN-IMPORT, UNRATED EDITION (+ Theatrical Version) REGION A BLU-RAY

Wolves


DVD / BLU-RAY Review: THE WOLFMAN (2010)


Lawrence Talbot: Are you expecting a war?

Singh: A Sikh is a warrior of God. He must always arm himself against evil.


or


Sir John Talbot: You’ve done terrible things, Lawrence. Terrible Things.

The quotes come from the 2010 Joe Johnston film, WOLFMAN. I was a huge fan of this film when it hit the theaters a couple years ago, see my original review here, and have been meaning to pick up the unrated Blu-ray Director’s Cut for sometime.

I own very few Blu-Rays, I find on a whole it to be only a marginal quality difference to DVD, and all other things being equal, I’m unwilling to shell out more for a Blu-Ray

The exceptions being a movie deserving of the extensive and elaborate special features and dissection/discussion that a Blu-Ray can bring to bear.

I find the WOLFMAN to be one such film. Unlike many I was a huge fan of the film in the theaters, and I’m happy to say the Blu-Ray experience, with the Director’s Cut, only solidifies my enjoyment and praise for this film.

I won’t get into specifics of the film except to say the additional 15 or so minutes of the Unrated Director’s cut helps to make more cohesive and strong a film that did suffer from unevenness and feeling rushed. Particularly Benicio Del Toro’s unfairly maligned portrayal, is expanded and fleshed out, as well as his relationship with his father played by Sir Anthony Hopkins.

They both, in my opinion did well in the theatrical version, and shine in the Unrated Director’s Cut. And all the parts are likewise… raised.


Lawrence Talbot: Why did she do it?

Sir John Talbot: She struggled with life, as we all do. She lost.

The only minor qualm in the Unrated version is, it is less subtle in terms of the villain, for this reason it may be more prudent to see the theatrical version first, then graduate to the Unrated version.

But that minor issue aside, in every other way the Unrated version makes more compelling an already very good film. I’d go so far to say the Unrated version makes it a great film, particularly if you take into account the wealth of extra features.

Now picture wise, the WOLFMAN Blu-Ray is a negligible improvement over DVD, owing much to how it was shot, it’s a muddy, subdued, grainy type of film that does not play to the strengths of Blu-RAy.

But the extra features, interviews with Rick Baker, etc., and some nifty new interactive features makes this well written, beautifully filmed, wonderfully directed, masterfully edited (really effective jump scares, that no matter how many times I see the film… stay scary. That takes talent!) and well performed Horror/Monster film… a fun addition to anyone’s library.

Grade: Recommended! B+.

The Wolfman (Two-Disc Unrated Director’s Cut) [Blu-ray]

TOP 15 FAVORITE DVD Commentaries! Part 2 of 3!

Continuing my list of 15 favorite DVD commentaries, here are selections 6-10.

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN- Great reminiscences on the making of the film and the personalities including Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen by a quartet of voices that includes Eli Wallach and James Coburn (with a voice so deep, it’s like mountains… shifting) makes this an endlessly listen-able and informative and enjoyable commentary.
The Magnificent Seven (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition) This is the version to get as it contains two commentaries, including one that is not on the Blu-Ray version. Who loves ya baby?! 🙂


Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW commentary is up next. Tim Burton is a ‘hit and miss’ director for me, while always an amazing visual stylist, his more humor laced films such as DARK SHADOWS I don’t like. There’s a natural tendency to black humor in the direction of Tim Burton, but it works better when he doesn’t play to this tendency, because then it comes out forced as in DARK SHADOWS. However when the humor is not the goal, but just a side effect of the situations or the truth of the characters, when it doesn’t supplant or overshadow the drama or action or horror… then it works.

That’s what is so special about his films, such as SLEEPY HOLLOW and to a lesser extent the first BATMAN, that dark Gothic atmosphere, that tone, stays paramount, and indeed is heightened by brief moments of levity.

Heightened by a deadpan delivery, not there for laughs, but because that is the truth or the absurdity of that character in that moment. The scenes should work when played and taken straight, and shouldn’t be there expecting a laugh (which is the surest way not to get one), however if the humor works, comes across for some, that’s just an added bonus.

A great commentary by Tim Burton touches on all of this. Burton discusses working with Christoper Lee and Landau and of course Depp, the power of Spanish horses, his sheep fetish, working on sets (which Burton is a master of), discussing Depp’s amazing ability to faint like a girl. 🙂 Just a fun, informative commentary that lets you see first and foremost Burton as film fan and connoisseur.
Sweeney Todd / Sleepy Hollow (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]


INSIDE MAN- Spike Lee’s career took a heavy hit with the atrocious film, MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, one of the few movies so awful I walked out on (to be fair the camera work was great, just the story and dialogue and pacing was garbage). However prior to that, he was firing on all cylinders with the film INSIDE MAN. Not just one of Spike Lee’s best films, but one of the best heist/thriller films you’ll come across. And it’s adorned with a FANTASTIC commentary by Spike Lee that shows him as the ultimate New Yorker. Just great, high energy stories about Lee shooting in a city he clearly loves. Perhaps the only other filmmaker who is as much a cheerleader and champion for New York as Spike Lee would be Martin Scorsese. A wonderful commentary.
Inside Man (Widescreen Edition)


THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN- It’s rare when you can point to a film and say. “yep this is the film that ended his career”. You can do that with this film, and the directing career of Stephen Norrington. Most people hate this film for largely not being Alan Moore’s comic, and the changes made.

Well it is definitely changed. But that’s the nature of Adaptations, what works on the page does not necessarily work on the stage/screen. And slavish devotion to the source material, ala SIN CITY is no guarantee of quality (I hated SIN CITY). If you want the source material, go read the source material, that hasn’t been changed.

For the rest of us, we are sharp enough to get the fact that the film has to meet the needs of a far greater range of people and interests, and becomes by definition a different thing. Now whether that different thing is good or bad is the question.

In the case of Stephen Norrington’s THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN I enjoy this film a lot. And I appreciate it more every single time I see it. It takes the framework of Moore’s story, and builds something that moves at a brisk, exciting pace to fill close to 2 hours (110 minutes), something that Moore’s original, was not designed to do. Moore’s work is designed for the page, and works best there.

But to adapt it to the screen, it has to become something else. And I think Norrington and crew create a something else… that is one of the best love letters to the age of the pulp hero and two-fisted action that you will find, outside of an Indiana Jones film. And I love that it goes for practical effects, and tries different things, instead of just CGI. So yep I proudly own the DVD for this film, and routinely take it for a spin.

And I also routinely listen to the commentary, which is great. By all reports Norrington had a bumpy time with his first success BLADE, coming to loggerheads (a fancy old time expression, meaning to bring something to a boil. A loggerhead back in the day being a long heated piece of iron with a bulbous head used to heat liquids. And yes, that is your word for the day :)) with individuals, that almost there ended his directing career before it began.

Here in LEAGUE, in his fourth film, he ticks off (forget Alan Moore, forget the fans)… he ticks off the star of the film, the legendary Sean Connery! And all of that, is included in the commentary. How are you going to talk about throwing down with Sean Connery?!! So it is an amazing bit of commentary for this 2003 film, and seemingly signals a promising director’s swan song from the business.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Widescreen Edition)


THE HOWLING- Everyone knows this is one of the greatest Werewolf movies ever, but what you might not know is it’s also one of the most enjoyable, fun commentaries. With Joe Dante, Dee Wallace Stone and her husband Chris Stone (boyfriend during the filming of the movie, I’m such a romantic that I dig things like that, plus I generally adore Dee Wallace, she is just so completely invested and open and awesome in this film), and Robert Picardo, all just having a ball.

And to that fact, there are guest stars/cameos galore (Ackerman, Sayles, Corman, Caradine, Slim Pickens, etc) in this film, and this commentary becomes everything a great commentary should be. Easily should make anyone’s best of list!
The Howling (Special Edition)

Join me in the next installment as we cover the final five favorite commentaries #11-15 (Here’s part 1 if you missed it)! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries! If you like this post, take the time to give a ‘like’ and also take the time to purchase using the links provided.

That one two punch of support is what keeps this blog going. And it also helps me decide what future segments to concentrate on, the posts that get the most likes, and generate the most purchases, are more than likely topics that have an audience, so I’ll revisit them.

So yeah, your feedback in those two ways… just a way cool thing for you to take time to do! Keep it up! Thanks!:)!

Here’s Part I!

The COMIC STRIP Returns?!!!! THE HOUSE OF DUELING MIDNIGHT #1

Yeah, yeah.. it’s pretty stupid, and horrible. But I have to admit… it made me chuckle. 🙂

As far as why… Well I’ve been meaning to put up a couple strips for a while. And have been trying to network, collaborate with a couple of artists, but I’ll let you in on a secret, artists aren’t really the most reliable bunch for collaborating or networking with… at least the ones I’ve been dealing with.

So rather than wait on people to grow up, I decided to just ‘what the heck’ it, and just go ahead and create and post something that would make me laugh.

Hence this very brief, very juvenile ‘cut and paste’ cartoon courtesy of one of the free cartoon generators out there, The art is crude, but the insane story and words and madness is all me. Hope you enjoyed it. If you do, leave a comment and some likes!

It’s a work in progress experiment, that will improve if you guys will stick in there with me. Thanks!! 🙂

Three Best Werewolf Movies available on Archive.Org!

Three Best Werewolf Movies available on Archive.Org!

I like big WereWolf movies and I cannot lie!

That sounded much better as a rap song, 🙂 Anyhow, I do happen to have a fondness for Werewolf movies.

And this being the age of torture porn, and slasher flicks, and zombie movies (none of which I like)… good werewolf flicks are not that prevalent. Unlike many I did quite enjoy Joe Johnstone’s recent WOLF-MAN.

Unfortunately, at this rate it means one good werewolf movie every decade or so (sorry TWILIGHT and UNDERWORLD, not really interested).

Well for those who have seen all the classic wolf flicks (AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, HOWLING, WOLFEN) and are seeking something to tide them over try these obsure, little seen flicks available on Archive.org. While not exactly good, stick with em, they rise above their flaws :):

WEREWOLF IN A GIRL’S DORMITORY- A zero budget film, sprinkled with sizeable amounts of bad acting. That said there is one actor who gives a compelling performance, some interesting mad scientist elements, and some interesting makeup. Worth a look. Grade: Has its moments. View it here.

WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON- Dean Stockwell who spent his early career playing annoying, conflicted characters is true to type in this zero budget horror flick. Comes off as more the rushes of a film, rather than a finished film. At times laughably bad film. Horror drama as political farce. The Werewolf meets Dr. Strangelove. I know this is one movie Dean Stockwell wishes did not exist. The telephone booth scene being so ludicrous it’s laughable.

I cannot decide if this flick is going for brainless or brilliant, at times both. The licking the midget scene at the feet of Frankenstein was just too bloody much for me!! Add to that a cage-match on the White house lawn?!?

What possessed Stockwell to think this film was a good career choice is beyond me. And is it me or does that President remind you of Bush? A bad movie, that should be at least fast forwarded through. : ). ”Get back people! He may be the President but he’s still a Human Being!”

And yet….

I have never hated the beginning of a movie more, written it off, and been captivated by the last hour! I wrote most of this review before reaching the end of THE WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON. It really turns on a dime, and becomes a film that laughs at itself, and at you. That’s not quite right. It’s not comedy so much as satire, and by the end, very effective satire. Give it a look, I think it may grow on you.

Grade: It may take an effort, but if you can make it through the incomprehensible and pitiable first 40 minutes, the third act, may just salvage it for you as it did for me. I’ll go so far as to say that by the end of the film, I was quite entertained. View it here.

WEREWOLF WOMAN- Softcore exploitation flick, it actually transcends its meager budget, and suspect direction, to have some heart, and some care, and some tragedy. It’s more than you think. There’s a sinister thread to it, a broken morality, a fragmented picture of… abuse begetting abuse. Grade: This movie surprisingly transcends its limitations. And it has stayed with me long after seeing it. Which is more than I can say for most films today. Of the three, it’s the one I wouldn’t mind having a nice DVD version of (Well this and WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON). Your mileage may vary. View it on Archive.org and decide for yourself

[Quick Update: WEREWOLF WOMAN has been removed, like too many movies, from Archive.org. There is a Shriek Video DVD available here, but most reviews state that the Shriek DVD is sub-par, and recommends rather searching out a DVD offered by a Japanese label.]

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