Recently in Blu-ray

An American Werewolf in London (Full Moon Edition) Blu-ray Review: Its Cult-classic Status Is Certainly Warranted

Required by law to state "You'll howl with laughter."
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After a string of comedic box-office successes (Kentucky Fried Movie, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and The Blues Brothers), director John Landis had the clout to pick his next project. He veered away from comedy to a screenplay he first worked on in 1969 while a production assistant on Kelly’s Heroes in Yugoslavia. An American Werewolf in London was Landis’ take on the Wolfman. David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are backpacking their way through Europe. The film opens with them traversing through the moors of Northern England, but all Jack can think of is hooking up with a woman

Twilight Time Presents: Something I Can Never Have

From the unconditional (or unwanted) affection of one's parental unit, to the ever-classic pursuit of maximum financial units, these five flicks have more to offer than just a nude Ornella Muti (although that's just fine on its own!).
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At one point or another in life, we have experienced the passion, turmoil, and frustration that comes from not being able to possess something ‒ sometimes, anything ‒ we wanted more than life itself. For some, it is a material obsession; the desire to acquire great wealth to control others with, or to even take charge of an individual. For others, it is simply the allure of being able to step out of the proverbial limelight for once and lead what they perceive to be a life of normality. And it is in this marvelous line-up of May 2016 releases

Dead-End Drive-In Blu-ray Review: Post-Apocalypse, '80s Style

It's like a b-grade version of Mad Max, but it's still a lot of fun.
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The synopsis for Dead-End Drive-In on IMDB reads as follows: “In the near future, a teenage couple is trapped in a drive-in theater which has become a concentration camp for social outcasts. The inmates are treated to drugs, exploitation films, junk food, and new wave music.” That sounds a bit like paradise for me so if that’s the post-apocalyptic future we have to look forward to, sign me up. An opening crawl details the recent economic collapse of every major economy and the violence that ensues. The camera moves through an unnamed Australian city and we see broken windows, burning

Warcraft Blu-ray Review: In My Entire Life, I Have Never Felt as Much Pain as I Do Now

Devoid of any originality, credibility, or explanation whatsoever, the big-screen adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment's massively successful strategy game is a giant, predictable bore.
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Contrary to popular belief, the oft-repeated phrase "Hollywood has run out of ideas" has been popping up for quite sometime now. During the '60s and '70s, television producers would take two-part TV shows or standalone TV movies and release them theatrically abroad, luring (mostly) European filmgoers into cinemas to see an extended episode of something like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in order to take advantage of an outrageously gigantic demand for all things James Bondian at the time. It would have been foolish not to take the chance, right? It was a most cunning strategy on their part. In the

Styx: Live at the Orleans Arena Las Vegas Blu-ray Review: A Quality Performance Even Without the Band's Biggest Songs

Instead of having someone else singing some of the songs Dennis DeYoung sang, Styx just completely leaves them out of the rotation.
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Filmed while on tour in July of 2014, the Blu-ray shows off some of the band’s well-known hits. Interspersed between the eight-song concert are interviews with the band and crew members detailing their adventures and lifestyle on the road. Topics covered range from what they do during their off hours to the inner workings of the business and how the technology has changed their experience of being away from home and their family. The line-up for the concert is Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar); James “JY” Young (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Todd Sucherman (drums); Lawrence Gowan (vocals/keyboards); Ricky Phillips (bass, backing vocals);

The Flash (2014): The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: At Its Core, The Series Is a Family Drama

An entertaining show that stands out among the glut of superhero programs.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. Like the Flash, I have the ability to go back in time, so let me do so and grab my description of the TV series' premise from my review of the series' first season: “The Flash presents the adventures of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), an assistant forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, where his adoptive father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), works. Joe met a young Barry years ago

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) Blu-ray Review: Truth in Advertising?

23 years after my first attempt at watching it, this Riccardo Freda/Barbara Steele gothic horror movie about a necrophiliac surgeon still can't raise the dead to save its life.
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For Italian filmmakers, the 1960s were as versatile of a period as ever, especially for the ever-expanding realms of fantasy. It was a time when sword and sandal peplums, space operas, James Bond-ian espionage adventures, Poliziotteschi crime dramas, stylish giallo thrillers, and one of the country's best-known cinematic exports ‒ the spaghetti western ‒ ruled the screens. The decade also epitomized another unique motion picture subgenre: that of the gothic horror flick. From the late '50s to the late '60s, Italy's gothic movement brought forth a number of memorable, atmospheric titles from the likes of Mario Bava, Antonio Margheriti, and

Dead-End Drive-In Blu-ray Review: The Australian Escape From New York

This ozploitation feature could have been a spinoff in the Mad Max universe.
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It's difficult to decipher what will become a cult classic and what will end up being a major dud in this age of social-media marketing. Any film that gets released has the potential to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show. Technically speaking, Sharknado is considered by many to be a cult favorite and I would both agree and disagree with that statement. I agree that audiences are the ones who get to choose what movies will eventually be part of this category. Where I disagree is that cult films are not instant, they just don't happen over night. Sometimes

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Early Masterwork

A wonderful tale of love and loss at the Kabuki theater.
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Kiku (Shotaro Hanyagi) is the adopted son of Kabuki royalty in Tokyo. As the presumed heir to this theatrical throne, he is constantly lavished with acclaim. The mouths that herald his praises come with two faces and out of the other, they spit ridicule. Even Kiku’s father-in-law cannot bring himself to tell him how poorly he acts. Late one night, he walks with Otoku (Kakuko Mori), nursemaid to Kiku’s brother's son, who finally tells him the truth - he stinks! Instead of lashing out in anger, Kiku’s is filled with gratitude that someone is finally willing to speak to him

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) Blu-ray Review: Beheading Your Way

The outright evil, bloodthirsty cousin of 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon' makes its long-awaited splash to home video courtesy a beautiful HD release by Olive Films.
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Generally, motion pictures which owe their entire existence to the success of an entirely different (and more popular) feature have very little to offer the overall history of cinema itself other than its ‒ sometimes blatant ‒ connection to its source of inspiration. It's even harder to have an affect on the world of film when your movie happens to be an obvious "rip-off" of a horror film, especially if it was made during a time when horror movies provided audiences little more than an excuse for teenagers to make out at the drive-in. Or terrorize the really small, impressionable

The Girlfriend Experience: Season 1 Blu-ray Review: A Secret Life Has Consequences

Maybe this show can make the audience care about it as much as some of Christine's clients care about her.
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The Girlfriend Experience is a show about Christine Reade (Riley Keough), a law student and law intern in Chicago who finds out that one of her classmates Avery is an escort who provides the "Girlfriend Experience." An escort who provides the "Girlfriend Experience" also known as a "GFE" not only provides sex to her client, but also goes on dates, attends events, and provides the emotional support of an actual girlfriend. Intrigued by Avery's secret life, Christine gets involved and provides the GFE to clients while balancing law school and her internship at a high-profile Chicago law firm at the

The Night Manager (Uncensored Version) Blu-ray Review: Beautiful Spies

Mysterious characters, beautiful scenery, loads of intrigue, The Night Manager has everything you want in a spy story.
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I made the mistake of watching Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation just before I started The Night Manager. I really rather enjoyed Mission: Impossible; it's probably my favorite of the series in fact. It's a non-stop ride of thrills and magnificent set-pieces. No, the mistake wasn’t watching another Mission: Impossible film, it was the juxtaposition between that and The Night Manager that was difficult to adjust to. Calling The Night Manager slow would be an affront to snails. Its intentional languid, methodical pacing creeps across the screen. I do not in anyway mean this as a critique but coming off

Supernatural: The Complete Eleventh Season Blu-ray Review: The Winchesters May Have Just Been Defeated by Their Own Writers

What other challenge can you bring to the Winchesters that can compete with the one and only God?
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. When Season Ten wrapped up, the Winchester brothers had found a way to remove the Mark of Cain from Dean’s (Jenson Ackles) arm. The mark had been slowly driving him insane and more and more violent and making him less human. Unfortunately, there were two problems with removing the mark. The first was that they had to kill Death, which they managed to do. But in doing so, not only was Dean

Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: These Aint Your Father's Women-in-Prison Films

A terrific collection of some really wonderful genre films is maligned by less than stellar video quality.
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Leave it to the Japanese to perfect the Women-in-Prison subgenre. First time director Shunya Itō took all of the sleazy elements of the genre - rampant nudity, rape, gratuitous violence, and lesbianism - and turned it into real cinema. Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion and its sequel Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 aren’t just good examples of the genre but honest-to-god great movies. The subsequent sequels (Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable and Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song don’t fare quite as well but there are still some really nice moments in each. Arrow Video has recently combined the four films

Arrow: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Darkness Consumes Several Characters as Loyalties are Tested

Arrow's fourth season pushes several characters to their limits.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. With the popular CW show, Arrow, about to begin its fifth season, The Complete Fourth Season has been released on Blu-ray. The show picks up directly where Season Three left off. Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) has packed up and left Team Arrow with his girlfriend Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), opting for a life of domestic bliss. As the show is called Arrow, it does not last long before Queen is

The Jungle Book (2016) Blu-ray Review: Much More Than the Bare Necessities

Jon Favreau's live action/CG remake hits the mark.
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The biggest surprise about this charming and successful film is that it works at all. Sure, it had a solid blueprint to build on from the original Disney animated film, as well as Rudyard Kipling’s novels, but let’s review a few of the many potential pitfalls. First, casting an unknown and unseasoned child actor carried the potential to instantly doom the project. There was some dissenting opinion in my household, but I thought Mowgli actor Neel Sethi was a solid choice and held up his huge part of the equation just fine. He contributes a natural performance, never coming across

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon Blu-ray Review: A Neglected Curiosity Comes to Home Video

A typically odd late-period Otto Preminger film showcases a fine Liza Minnelli performance.
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Otto Preminger’s work in the late ’60s and early ’70s did not do wonders for his critical or commercial reputation, but there’s something compelling about nearly all of the genre-flouting work he made during the period — even if one doesn’t find the films particularly good. Olive Films has done an excellent job of resurfacing a number of these maligned, mostly forgotten films, including the bonkers Elaine May-penned rom-com satire Such Good Friends, dubious racial melodrama Hurry Sundown and star-studded flop Skidoo, and it’s done it again with a long-awaited release of Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon.

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: The Return of the King, Baby

All involved can take great pride with the results.
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Regardless of the brief cameo at the end of the reboot/sequel (has there been an official designation?), the onslaught of returning properties, and the intensity of the fan base, news of the return of Bruce Campbell playing Ash in a TV series for STARZ still seemed damn near impossible to believe. And while the news was exciting, it also brought with it some trepidation because of the high bar the previous beloved works by Sam Raimi et.al. had set since not everyone has the same low standards Star Wars fans do regarding milking the franchise. Thankfully, all involved can take

The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) Blu-ray/DVD Review: Hey, Where's the Swingin'?

The appropriately misleading exploitation flick from Jack Hill gets a deluxe treatment from Arrow Video.
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While exploitation cinema may seem like straightforward T&A or violence most of the time, there are ‒ much like a rotten onion ‒ many layers that make it so unique. One of my favorite facets embedded in such a terrible analogy was the genre's ability to flat-out lie to potential audiences about what it had to offer. Shady folks who liked to call themselves distributors would frequently re-title, re-cut, and re-release other films ‒ sometimes going as far to shoot new footage or record new dialogue ‒ all in the name of deliberately marketing their product something it was not.

The Arrow Video Roundup for August

What's worth purchasing from Arrow Video this month.
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Here's what's worth seeking from Arrow this month. Suture (1993) Arrow Video is such a necessity in the Blu-ray landscape if only to find a hidden gem like Suture. I'd never heard of this twisty, noirish psychological thriller before Arrow's recent Blu-ray release, and I heartily recommend giving it a blind buy. In the vein of Memento (complete with black and white aesthetic), Suture follows two recently reunited brothers, Clay and Vincent (Dennis Haysbert and Michael Harris). Despite their obvious racial differences both remark on their "remarkable resemblance." However, Vincent's motives for reuniting with Clay are proven to be suspect

The Bloodstained Butterfly Blu-ray/DVD Review: The Unconventional Courtroom Giallo

Duccio Tessari's bizarre giallo/poliziotteschi/krimi hybrid hatches once again thanks to the diligent efforts of Arrow Video.
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It hasn't even been a year-and-a-half since the UK-based Arrow Video label first expanded into the U.S. market, but in that short amount of time, they have managed to conquer many a blackened heart, releasing a number of significant cult classics from all over the world very few folks ever thought they would even see on DVD, let alone Blu-ray. With a venerable selection of trippy Italian thrillers already under their belt, Arrow continues to broaden the horizons of giallo lovers who, up to this point, though that they had seen everything when it comes to movies centering on anonymous

Darker Shades of Blu: Film Noir from the Warner Archive

From Humphrey Bogart to Alfred Hitchcock, the WAC offers up some of the best mysteries ever available now on Blu-ray.
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Along with the many wonderful Standard-Definition releases of films that have slipped through the cracks of time, the Warner Archive has also been releasing a limited assortment of classics on Blu-ray. During the last few months alone, the Manufactured-on-Demand outfit ‒ which only issues a handful of titles per week ‒ has unveiled an unbeatable selection of movies hailing from the dark side of classic motion pictures, including many film noir titles from the '40s and '50s. For this modest capsuling of features, I have chosen four Humphrey Bogart films, including one of his most famous characterizations; an alternate (first)

DC's Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Brings the Fun Back to Comic Book-related Shows

It ties in well to the Arrowverse and may be the best comic-book show on TV right now.
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While DC’s recent superhero movies have gotten mixed reviews for being too dark or brooding or not understanding the source material (particularly with Superman), they seem to be doing everything right with their television shows. Programs such as Arrow and, especially, The Flash remember that these shows are based on comic books and that comic books, at their heart, are supposed to be fun. Much like their competition at Marvel has built a shared universe with their movies and, to a lesser extent, their TV shows, DC has done the same. The Flash spun off of Arrow and the characters

Gotham: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: So Far, So Good

Warner and DC Comics' small-screen reboot of the Batman franchise grows, leaps, and slays in great strides.
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The ascension to success is quite often a very bumpy climb. Just ask Gotham's hero Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Poor Jimbo was continuously getting bumped up and down the police department ladder of rank and popularity ‒ random punishments sentenced to him by his corrupt superiors that even included a brief stint as a security guard at the infamous Arkham Asylum, where all sorts of video game scenarios are formed. In Gotham: The Complete Second Season, things are even more wild for both Jim Gordon and the residents of Arkham. Our hero gets demoted and promoted and hired and fired

Microwave Massacre Blu-ray Review: This Comedy is Overcooked

Who knew a comedy about a cannibalistic serial killer could be this unfunny?
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I used to have a roommate named Bobby. He was a nice guy, but not very culturally sophisticated. He was the kind of guy who, even though we were working 10-hour shifts and there was a 45-minute commute to and from the job would come home and immediately spend an hour at the gym. He was the kind of guy who, after a night at the club, would see a cute girl on her way out, roll down his window, and ask, “Are you hot or not?” He was the kind of guy who was attractive enough to make that

A Taste of Honey Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Taste of Adolescence

Tony Richardson's tale of the sweet and sour gifts life delivers to us.
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A renaissance in British cinema erupted in the 1960s; known as the Free Cinema and instigated by directors Tony Richardson, Lindsay Anderson, and Karel Reisz, British cinema of the era espoused fantasy for gritty realism. These "kitchen sink dramas" dealt with the uncertainty and futility of living poor in England. Richardson's own A Taste of Honey, out today on DVD and Blu via Criterion, depicts these issues with the faintest glimmer of a silver lining. Jo (Rita Tushingham) is a young teen struggling to find some stability with her flight, man-obsessed mother (Dora Bryan). Jo soon falls for a kind

The Bloodstained Butterfly Blu-ray Review: A Giallo Version of Zodiac

Arrow Video releases Duccio Tessari's classic giallo film in a stunning new Blu-ray edition.
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I must start off this review with a confession. The only giallo (supernatual/mystey films that were usually made in Italy) movies I have ever seen were Suspiria and this one. There was a foreign film section at the video store when I was younger. But they never had such original titles like A Suitcase for a Corpse, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave ,or my favorite, Kill the Fatted Calf and Roast It. I'm not sure if they come up with the title first and then write the script, but these titles are awesome. Even the name of

Microwave Massacre Blu-ray Review: Surely Someone Will Enjoy This

Not really horror, not really funny, but definitely dark, and definitely takes too long.
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Microwave Massacre tells the tale of Donald (Jackie Vernon), a construction worker with simple tastes driven mad by his wife's obsession with fancy cuisine and constant nagging about his lack of sophistication. One night he snaps, kills his wife, and, a short time later, accidentally eats some of her remains as a midnight snack. Turns out he has a taste for human flesh, and he sets about town, luring prostitutes back to his place for sex and dinner, in that order. There's enough there to make some sort of movie out of, but I was left wanting. Vernon plays the

American Ninja / American Ninja 2: The Confrontation Blu-ray Reviews: The Dawn of Dudikoff

Olive Films unleash one of the Cannon Group's greatest franchises in High-Definition via releases fans are sure to get a high-flying kick out of.
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There are a number of things that made the 1980s the 1980s. New Wave music. Big hair. Video game consoles. Outrageous fashions. Odd expressions. Even the film industry pertaining to that particular decade offered up a variety of awesome flicks from every genre possible, from westerns to comedies, and from horror to action. But it is the latter category to wit we owe an eternal debt of gratitude, thanks largely in part to an amazing slew of low-budget wonders from Golan-Globus Productions, and their now-infamous distribution company, the Cannon Group. The men behind this outfit, Yorum Globus and Menahem Golan,

Woman in the Dunes Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Digging out a Life in Sand

Hiroshi Teshigahara's enigmatic, hypnotic tale of a man trapped is equal parts Twilight Zone and Kafka, and completely absorbing.
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Every night, the woman shovels sand from the bottom of a hole, which gets carted up by a rope pulley, and hauled away. She lives at the bottom of a deep pit, and every night the sand builds up. If she leaves off for more than a couple of days, the sand will get everywhere, and eventually the house will collapse, and she will die. Her husband and daughter were killed by the sand. So she digs, each night, for most of the night. She sleeps during the day, nude, sometimes not even under a blanket, since sleeping with the

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