Kent Conrad

El Vampiro Negro (1953) Blu-ray Review: An Argentinian “M”

Film noir as a genre is rather over-subscribed. It existed for a relatively brief period in the ‘40s and ‘50s ...
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Silent Running 4K UHD: Sci-Fi Hippy Dreams Dying

One of the things that made Star Wars such a huge hit was the state of '70s cinematic sci-fi. Because ...
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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 4K UHD Review: Calamitous Christmas Classic

Clark Griswold, the epitome of the American Middle-Class male, is on a slow burn. He has a vision of perfection. ...
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Planes, Trains and Automobiles 4K UHD Review: Thanksgiving’s Annual Lesson

Neal Page is not a bad guy. He's tightly wound, a little too serious, but the most important thing to ...
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Contraband (1980) Blu-ray Review: Explosively Violent Crime Action

Contraband comes in like a cool stylish Italian crime thriller and goes out like a Lucio Fulci gore fest. Being ...
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Elf (2003) 4K UHD Review: Farrell and Favreau Hit

Elf is a strange premise, anchored on a strange performance. Will Ferrell plays the grown-up version of a baby from ...
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The Nun and the Devil Blu-ray Review: Which Mother Will Prove Superior?

Despite the title, the Devil does not make a physical appearance in the Italian The Nun and The Devil (1973). ...
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The Company of Wolves 4K UHD Review: Little Red’s Wolf Fetish

The Company of Wolves (1984) is only kind of a werewolf movie, in that werewolves in the 20th century took ...
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The Kindred (1987) Blu-ray Review: Practical Effects, Impractical Storytelling

The difference between bad practical effects and bad CG is that bad practical still look like effort. Bad CG looks ...
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Casablanca 4K UHD Review: Here’s Looking at UHD

There's an old joke about a woman who saw Hamlet for the first time and hated it. "It was all ...
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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray Review: ’80s Friendly Alien Invasion

E.T. is Jaws inverted. They both involve invasions of small communities by an alien entity. In one, the invasion disrupts ...
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Blind Fury (1989) Blu-ray Review: ’80s Action Meets Japan Pulp

Eighties action was more fun. The special effects were often primitive. The martial arts was less fluid, the camera work ...
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Happy Birthday to Me (1981) Blu-ray Review: Canuxploitation Slasher Slog

Post Halloween, the slasher was the go-to low budget money maker. The formula is so simple (young people, bloody death, ...
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Army of Darkness 4K UHD Limited Edition Steelbook Review: Long Live the Medieval Dead

Army of Darkness was my personal introduction to the Evil Dead. Because of Universal's awful marketing at the time, however, ...
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The Lost Boys 4K UHD Review: Flashy ’80s Vampire Flick

Half of the The Lost Boys is a moody gothic music-video styled horror movie. The other half is the '80s ...
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Le Corbeau Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Poison Pen French Noir

France has always been one of the centers of cinema in the world. After all, the Lumiere brothers rivaled Edison ...
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The Old Man Movie Blu-ray Review: Cows Udders End the World

When three Estonian kids are left in the country to spend the summer with their dairy farming grandpa, they expect ...
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Event Horizon 4K UHD Review: Atmospheric Space Chiller

At first glance, Event Horizon looks like a rip-off of Alien. A crew in space, far from any aid, investigating ...
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Flatliners (1990) 4K UHD Review: Visually Stimulating Psychological Thriller

Doctors lead very exciting lives in movies. Every doctor I've known in real life has been a little dull. Intelligent, ...
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Desperate Hours Blu-ray Review: Hostage Thriller Boils Over

Desperate Hours is based on a classic thriller scenario: a family held hostage in their own home by a criminal. ...
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The Deer King Movie Review: Beautiful, If Overly Complicated Fantasy

Van, the protagonist of The Deer King, is a big man. Probably the biggest in the salt mine where he's ...
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Edge of Tomorrow 4K UHD Review: Groundhog D-Day

It is a strange time to look at a film that earned hundreds of millions at the box-office and wonder: ...
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Panda! Go Panda! Blu-ray Review: Proto Totoro Anime Film

In my estimation, Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro is one of the greatest films ever made. It's an almost perfect fantasy ...
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True Romance 4K UHD Review: Sick Love, Slick Film

True Romance isn't a Quentin Tarantino movie. His name is on the screenplay. It has many scenes which no other ...
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Raiders of the Lost Ark Limited Edition Steelbook 4K UHD Review: Cinematic Adventure Perfection

Watching as a child, I knew that Raiders of the Lost Ark was a great adventure. It had everything you ...
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Candyman (1992) 4K UHD Review: Urban Legend, Urban Horror

Of the many great things about Bernard Rose's Candyman, one of the best is that it isn’t structured like a ...
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Children Who Chase Lost Voices Blu-ray Review: Fantasy Adventure about Loss

Asuna is a happy girl. She's lucky to be happy since she spends so much of her time on her ...
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5 Centimeters Per Second Blu-ray Review: A Story about Distance

The title refers to the speed at which cherry blossoms fall to the earth. It is practically the first line ...
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The Place Promised in Our Early Days Blu-ray Review: Sci-Fi Sentimental Teenage Drama

The Place Promised in our Early Days is set on an alternative Earth on the brink of war. Some part ...
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12 Monkeys (1995) 4K UHD Review: Time-Travel Tragedy

Terry Gilliam lives to be idiosyncratic. In a British comedy troupe, Monty Python, he was the American. In Hollywood filmmaking, ...
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Wild Things 4K UHD Review: High Level Sleaze

Wild Things is trash. But it's a kind of exquisite trash. It's the best Cinemax-style soft porn ever made. It's ...
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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 4K UHD Review: End of the Classic Western

The ubiquity of the popularity of the Western is a cultural phenomenon that is hard to fathom. It wasn't just ...
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Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 13 and The Gizmoplex Debut Today

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a show that will not die. It has moved through so many incarnations, starting on ...
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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) 4K UHD Review: Loud, Blaring Classic Adaptation

There's so much to love about Kenneth Branagh's take on the story of Frankenstein and his monster, but there is ...
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To Sleep So as to Dream Blu-ray Review: Ode to Silent Japanese Cinema

What an odd film. To Sleep So as to Dream (1986), the directorial debut of Kaizo Hayashi is many things. ...
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The Godfather Trilogy 4K UHD Review: A Restoration You Can’t Refuse

The most written about American films in history have to be Citizen Kane, Psycho, and The Godfather. All are epochal ...
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SXSW 2022 Review: In the Court of the Crimson King

I've seen King Crimson once in concert. It was at the Greek in Los Angeles in 2017, and I went ...
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The Legend of the Stardust Brothers DVD Review: ’80s Japanese Manic Musical

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is overlong, amateurishly acted, and schizophrenically directed. It has several scenes that make no ...
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Evil Eye plus The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) Blu-ray Review: Slick in Italian, Murky in American

Nora has a very bad first night in Italy. The relative she is visiting dies of a heart attack right ...
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Alligator (1980) 4K Ultra HD Review: Jaws in the Sewers

It's always nice when a movie tells you exactly what it's about in the title. This film is a monster ...
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Cinema Sentries

The Capture (1950) Blu-ray Review: Complex Modern Western Crime Narrative

Lin Vanner (Lew Ayres), the protagonist of The Capture (1950), accidentally shoots an unarmed man. He believes the man is ...
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Rich and Strange Blu-ray Review: Marriage in Crisis

Alfred Hitchcock is known as primarily a director of thrillers, and after he came to the U.S. in 1939 it ...
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Red Angel (1966) Blu-ray Review: Disturbing War Hospital Drama

Red Angel is about a war-time nurse, and it lives up to themes implicit in the name. Nurse Sakura Nishi ...
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The Toolbox Murders (1978) 4K Ultra HD Review: Gruesome Grindhouse Exploitation

The difference between exploitation and horror is attitude. In a horror movie, you sympathize with the victim. In exploitation, your ...
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Shock (1977) Blu-ray Review: Bava’s Final Film

Shock is the final film that Mario Bava directed and is commonly regarded as an underwhelming swan song. He was ...
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Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People Movie Review: Punk is NOT Dead

Angeli is an apparently extremely famous cartoonist in Brazil. He has created several iconic characters that are, and combined shock ...
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Krampus: The Naughty Cut 4K Ultra HD Review: Anti-Santa Extended Edition

A fan of folklore often feels a pang of loss when one of the creatures or legends you cherish suddenly ...
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David Byrne’s American Utopia Movie Review: Beautifully Filmed but Imperfect Concert

David Byrne is one of those typical outsider becoming insider American stories. He set out to make oddball music, and ...
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Wife of a Spy Blu-ray Review: Understated Japanese Spy Thriller

Wife of a Spy is the latest film by Japanese craftsman Kiyoshi Kurosawa. He was one of several filmmakers, along ...
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The Ghost Ship/Bedlam Double Feature Blu-ray Review: Two Val Lewton Suspense Thrillers

Val Lewton ran the horror film unit at RKO Picture from 1942 to 1946. The massive success of Cat People, ...
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Cinema Sentries

Some Came Running Blu-ray Review: ’50s Melodrama Feels Familiar

Prestige dramas in each decade in American cinema each tend to have their own flavor, and in the '50s, it ...
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Middle Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K Ultra HD Review: Beautiful Box but Incomplete

The Lord of the Rings is a landmark of modern cinema. New Line's audacity of committing to a trilogy before ...
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Cinema Sentries

Night Has a Thousand Eyes Blu-ray Review: Psychic Thriller a Near Miss

What a great title. Night Has a Thousand Eyes. It evokes a sense of mystery, even of terror. The opening ...
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Cinema Sentries

The Beast Must Die (1952) Blu-ray Review: Argentinian Revenge Noir

The structure of The Beast Must Die is the first thing to notice about it. It has a now standard, ...
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Karen Dalton: In My Own Time DVD Review: Sad Songs, Sad Life

Karen Dalton, as described by one of the participants in this documentary, was one of the few folk singers in ...
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Batman: Year One Commemorative Edition 4K Ultra HD Review: Good Batman Story Unexceptionally Told

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns made a bigger splash, but of the two famous Frank Miller revisionist Batman stories of ...
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Cinema Sentries

Mad Love (1935) Blu-ray Review: Grotesque ’30 Body Horror

Mad Love would be a long lost Universal horror film had it not been made by MGM. It has a ...
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Book Review: Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer

Alfred Hitchcock was a weird guy. That's not a slur on his character, but a statement of fact. He was ...
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In the Shadow of Hollywood: Highlights from Poverty Row Blu-ray Review: Independent ’30s B-Movies

Entertainment is often called a recession-proof (or even depression-proof) industry. The theory being that even when people are at their ...
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Cinema Sentries

Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection 4K Ultra HD Review: Four Classic Horrors

The longevity of the iconography of the Universal monster films in popular culture is truly remarkable. A single image of ...
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Deep Red (1975) 4K Ultra HD Review: Argento’s Giallo Swan Song

In Deep Red, Dario Argento finally synthesizes his art and obsessions, and creates a film where the entire visual strategy ...
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Demons I & II Blu-ray Review: Italian Gore Shlock Romp

One of the keys to great schlock is integrity, and sincerity. Schlock that works cannot ever let the audience know ...
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Vera Cruz (1954) Blu-ray Review: Twisty Western Caper

Vera Cruz (1954) is an interesting western: it's a buddy movie where the buddies never really like each other. It's ...
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Dune (1984) 4K Ultra HD Review: Beautiful, Fascinating Mess of an Adaptation

Dune is probably unfilmable. The problem is not the special effects required, nor is it the scope of the action. ...
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Death Screams (1982) Blu-ray Review: Regional ’80s Slasher Artifact

There used to be a thing called regional cinema in the U.S. Hell, there used to be a thing called ...
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Children of the Corn (1984) 4K Ultra HD Review: Beating Up Kids in 4K

In the cottage industry of Stephen King adaptations, it's strange that one of his early stories about killer kids has ...
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The Window (1949) Blu-ray Review: The Boy Who Cried Murder

There's a good reason to hate films focused on kids: they're obnoxious. If they're cute, it's usually a cuteness at ...
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The Village Detective: A Song Cycle Movie Review: Meditation on Ruined Film

Around 2016, an Icelandic fishing boat caught something unusual in their nets. The ship was a bottom trawler, which sends ...
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The Cat O’ Nine Tails 4K Ultra HD Review: Convoluted Giallo Murder Mystery

The frustrating thing about Dario Argento is not the bad parts of his movies: it's the good ones. When he's ...
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Bugsy Malone Blu-ray Review: Bizarre and Charming Kiddie Gangster Musical

Bugsy Malone is one of those movies whose existence is very difficult to explain. It's a pastiche of gangsters and ...
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The Bird with the Crystal Plumage 4K Ultra HD Review: Dario Argento’s Debut Giallo

Dario Argento is one of those "stylish" directors who, at some point in his career, allowed the style to completely ...
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Cinema Sentries

Hail to the Deadites Movie Review: Evil Dead’s Biggest Fans

Horror movie fanatics are a different breed. They've attached themselves to a genre, and usually one film or series in ...
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Dead & Buried (1981) 4K Ultra HD Limited Edition Review: Uncovered ’80s Horror Gem

Dead & Buried takes place in a small town, which is always bad news in a horror movie. Those are ...
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I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes Blu-ray Review: Limp Mystery Noir

There's a tendency amongst enthusiasts of film noir to use it as a badge of quality. If some old movie ...
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Irezumi (1966) Blu-ray Review: Revenge and Obsession

"Irezumi" is the Japanese word for a style of tattooing. It employs the use of a long wooden-handled needle that ...
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Drunken Master II Blu-ray Review: Pinnacle Chan Martial Arts

The fun of any of Jackie Chan's early Chinese movies is in the thrill of seeing someone doing something potentially ...
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The Final Countdown (1980) 4K Ultra HD Limited Edition Review: Great Planes, Great Set-up, No Story?

The scenario and set-up are almost perfect for an alternative history science fiction story: a fully loaded modern (in 1979) ...
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Cinema Sentries

Django (1966) 4K Ultra HD Review: A Spaghetti Western Icon

Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy might have signaled the international recognition of the spaghetti western, but it was Django that launched ...
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They Won’t Believe Me Blu-ray Review: Melodrama Noir

There are two elements normally present in a classic film noir. One is a main character, usually male, with decent ...
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Cinema Sentries

Isle of the Dead (1945) Blu-ray Review: Atmospheric Chiller from Val Lewton

The key to the enduring appeal of the horror movies that Val Lewton produced for RKO in the '40s lies ...
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History Is Made at Night (1937) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Love Crosses the Atlantic

Director Frank Borzage, who grew up with Hollywood, making (and acting in) silents from 1916 and remaining active up to ...
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Perdita Durango 4K Ultra HD Review: An Evil, Evil Love Story

An important key to understanding Perdita Durango, the character: her boyfriend is a bank-robbing Santeria priest who, in front of ...
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The Day of the Beast (1995) 4K Ultra HD Review: Surrealist Spanish Horror Comedy

With solemn music, steady angles and serious lighting, The Day of the Beast opens with a pair of priests in ...
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Southland Tales Blu-ray Review: Strange but Strangely Compelling

Stepping in through the door right when the millennium was opening up and carrying with it a sense of doom ...
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JSA: Joint Security Area Blu-ray Review: Death on the DMZ

There's only one place along the Korean DMZ that soldiers from the North and South stand across from one another, ...
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Tremors (1990) 4K Ultra HD Review: Monster Movie in Perfection

Tremors takes place in a town called Perfection (population: 14). It’s an ironic name, because the only thing perfect about ...
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Survivor Ballads: Three Films by Shohei Imamura Blu-ray Review: Stories of Hardship and Endurance

Shohei Imamura was one of the grandmasters of Japanese cinema in the second half of the 20th century. His first ...
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Bartender (2006) Blu-ray Review: A Calming Aperitif of a Show

Anime in the popular imagination is...I was about to say Dragonball, but that shows my age. Sailor Moon? One Piece? Inuyasha? Once or twice ...
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Versus (2000) Blu-ray Review: Samurai Zombie Yakuza Action

Japanese cinema at the beginning of the 21st century was fun. There was an explosion of cinematic talent coming from ...
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Cinema Sentries

Crash (1996) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Anti-Erotic Film

"Prophecy is dirty and ragged", says Vaughan, while complaining about the cleanliness of the tattoo he gets on his chest. ...
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Vigilante (1982) 4K Ultra HD Review: Gritty Death Wish Redux

Vigilante, a Death Wish-inspired action drama from 1982, does so many interesting and fun things that it's a shame it ...
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Cinema Sentries

Weathering with You (Limited Collector’s Edition) 4K Ultra HD Review: Prettier Colors, More Insight

Whatever misgivings I had about 2019's Weathering With You when I reviewed it a couple of months ago in its initial ...
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Cinema Sentries

Chernobyl (2019) 4K Ultra HD Review: Harrowing, Horrifying Disaster Story

Chernobyl is a horror story with two monsters. One is technological, the other is human. The human horror caused the ...
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Cinema Sentries

Daughters of Darkness (1971) 4K Ultra HD Review: Mysterious, Sensuous Vampire Story

On the first level, Daughters of Darkness is a film about a newly married couple who encounter an intriguing, if overly familiar ...
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Cold Light of Day (1989) Blu-ray Review: Portrait of a British Serial Killer

Obscure, cheap, short, and brutal, Cold Light of Day is a surprising discovery of British cinema. Shot on 16mm, the occasionally extremely ...
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Graveyards of Honor Blu-ray Review: Grim Yakuza Renegade Dramas

Both Kinji Fukasaku and Takashi Miike were unlikely survivors in their different eras of Japanese cinema. They both were highly ...
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Warning from Space Blu-ray Review: Starmen Waiting in the Sky

All science fiction is dated. Even the most up-to-the-minute, forward-looking piece of work is still a work of its time, ...
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Split Second (1992) Blu-ray Review: Blade Runner and Alien’s Stupid Baby

Stealing the antagonist from one Ridley Scott movie and the world building (and star) from another, Split Second could have been a ...
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Flash Gordon (1980) 4K Ultra HD Review: Garish and Spirited Comic Action

George Lucas's inspirations for Star Wars were many. He was a voracious reader of golden age science fiction, and picked elements he ...
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Black Test Car + The Black Report Blu-ray Review: Japanese Businessman Noir

One of the enduring images of contemporary Japanese culture is the salaryman. The rather anonymous guy in the suit who ...
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Pitch Black 4K Ultra HD Review: Riddick Starts Here

Pitch Black was released in 2000, and it feels very much like the last science fiction action film of the '90s. ...
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Weathering with You Blu-ray Review: Anime Girls Make the Rain Stop

In a 2021 Tokyo that is drenched with constant rainfall, there's a rumor going around about a so-called Sunshine girl: ...
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The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4K UHD Review: Four Masterworks of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense, but that's too limited a title for him. Where his talents ...
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The New York Ripper 4K Ultra HD Review: Sleazy Exploitation American Giallo

The New York Ripper is sleazy. It contains sleaze. It is about sleaze. In its semi-coherent narrative, it indulges in the ...
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The House by the Cemetery 4K Ultra HD Review: ‘Damn Tombstones!’

It's probably not accurate to say Lucio Fulci is an acquired taste. It's more accurate to say, of all the ...
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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie Blu-ray Review: Slick ’90s Horror Anthology

The anthology movie seems like it is always going out of style, and yet it seems to crop up again ...
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Cinema Sentries

She Dies Tomorrow Movie Review: Meditation on Impending Doom

The premise is in the title: She Dies Tomorrow. She knows she's going to. She's certain of it. So certain ...
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Ride Your Wave Blu-ray Review: Touching Romance Becomes Ghost Story

For the first half hour of Ride Your Wave, it seems like Masaaki Yuasa was tackling something he'd only ever flirted ...
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Dream Demon Blu-ray Review: Newly-Unearthed ’80s Horror Fantasy

An obscure British release from 1988 that never made it to the states theatrically, Dream Demon's major problem is that it ...
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The Mad Fox Blu-ray Review: Kabuki-styled Cinematic Fantasia

Tomu Uchida is not one of the big names of Japanese cinema in the West, even though he had been ...
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Inferno of Torture Blu-ray Review: Torsos, Tattoos, and Torture

Inferno of Torture is the third of Teruo Ishii's ero-guro (erotic grotesque) films that have recently been released by Arrow Video. Orgies ...
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Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) Blu-ray Review: Love and Madness

Morgan is going mad. Or maybe he was always a little mad, but it became too much and wasn't as ...
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Sound! Euphonium: The Movie – Our Promise: A Brand New Day Blu-ray Review: One More Year of Music

Does anything one does in high school matter? At the time, it seems all dreadfully important, and some people see ...
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Promare Blu-ray Review: Hyper Kinetic Superhero Firefighters

There's barely a still moment in Promare, a science fiction anime film about firefighters who not only put out blazes but ...
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Their Finest Hour: 5 British WWII Classics Blu-ray Review: That British Stiff Upper Lip

The Second World War is a different story, depending where it's told. For Americans, it can be complex (how our ...
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The Bolshevik Trilogy: Three Films by Vsevolod Pudovkin Blu-ray Review: Silent Soviet Masterpieces

First and foremost, Pudovkin was a Soviet. His art was propaganda, because he believed in the cause. He's a contrast ...
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Come to Daddy Blu-ray Review: Twisty, Twisted Story of Family

Come to Daddy is a twisty movie. A lot of its narrative power comes from its plot surprises, so as a ...
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My Bloody Valentine (1981) Blu-ray Review: Superb Slasher Restored

My Bloody Valentine was, if not quite a box-office bomb, a severe disappointment. It was released right at the height of ...
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FLCL Progressive/Alternative Blu-ray Review: A Classic Badly Revived

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions ...
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Trapped (1949) Blu-ray Review: Great Restoration of a B-movie

Film noir are crime movies, but not all crime movies are film noir. There has to be an element of ...
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Book Review: Making Moon by Simon Ward

Hard sci-fi differentiates itself from the other kind by trying to follow the rules of physics and take place in ...
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Millennium Actress Blu-ray Review: Animated Japanese Film Fantasia

It's a love letter to film, a historical overview of early to mid-century Japan, and a biography of an actress ...
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The Fan (1981) Blu-ray Review: Bloody ’80s Stalking Thriller

The Fan was made in 1981. It's about a deranged man who kills people. He uses a special weapon to do ...
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Stephen King’s Storm of the Century (1999) DVD Review: Intriguing Premise at Snail’s Pace

TV made sense as its own thing until about 20 years ago. Nowadays, what constitutes TV is so sprawling and ...
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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Blu-ray Review: Musical Parody Mostly Amusing

Comedy, like horror, is largely critic-proof, because the power of the genre lies in an immediate emotional reaction. You get ...
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The Dead Center Blu-ray Review: Mostly Effective Psychological Horror

A spiral is integral to The Dead Center's imagery and story. A spiral appears on the photographs of a body from ...
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Ringu Collection Blu-ray Review: Ghostly Revenge, Again and Again

Horror as a genre tends to go through brief periods of inspiration, followed by long slogs of imitation. If you're ...
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Genius Party & Genius Party Beyond Blu-ray Review: Dozen Odd Egg Japanese Animations

Short movies get kind of short shrift because... they're short. And even though our modern mode of considering a "film" ...
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Morituri (1965) Blu-ray Review: Hidden Naval WWII Classic

The cliché is, they don't make them like they used to. But, damn it, movies like Morituri don't get made anymore. It's ...
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The Big Fix (1978) Blu-ray Review: A Hippy Neo-noir Lament

Despite being such a sunny city, Los Angeles is the home of noir. All those sun bleached streets are hiding ...
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Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) Blu-ray Review: Same Gore, Less Story

It's strange that so many horror movies spawn enormous franchises when the surprise and the unknown are central to the ...
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Hellraiser (1987) Blu-ray Review: Clive Barker’s Semi-professional Debut

Roger Ebert hated Hellraiser when it came out, giving it half a star. He starts with the money quote Stephen King gave ...
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True Believer (1989) Blu-ray Review: Blisteringly Performed Courtroom Drama

True Believer has been released on Blu-ray in one of Mill Creek's Retro VHS Look packages. While it's the same dimensions ...
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The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Gentle Ozu Comedy

The first thing to get used to in an Ozu film is the camera perspective. He never (or at least ...
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Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy Blu-ray Review: New Wave Filmmaking, Naked Ladies

It's difficult to put a modern film-fan in the mind of a viewer from the past, because of the nature ...
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The Leopard Man (1943) Blu-ray Review: Subtle, Underrated ’40s Chiller

Based on Cornell Woolrich's dark novel, Black Alibi, The Leopard Man was the first property Val Lewton wanted to develop when he became ...
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Yakuza Law Blu-ray Review: Gory Fun Yakuza Anthology

Yakuza Law is not even in the top-five craziest movies made by Teruo Ishii, and in it, a man rips out ...
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Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-ray Review: Fun, If Over-packed, Crossover Event

Crossovers are fun because they can never really be consequential. Popular characters are the tent poles of multi-billion dollar corporations ...
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John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars Blu-ray Review: Sad Retread from a Master

The hero of John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars is introduced asleep and handcuffed to a train. It seems like an apt metaphor ...
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Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray Review: Master Filmmaker’s New Challenge

Hayao Miyazaki has announced his retirement several times throughout his career, but in 2013 it looked like he meant it. ...
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The Brain (1988) Blu-ray Review: Giant Brain Eats Man

There are levels to shlock. And inside many a terrible movie, there are seeds of interest and enjoyment. The Brain is, ...
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A Silent Voice Blu-ray Review: Bully Redemption in a Subdued Tone

There's a certain style in Japanese storytelling and film-making where the important things are what is not shown, what is ...
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Cinema Sentries

The Magnificent Ambersons Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Flawed Masterpiece, but Still a Worthwhile Film

Before getting into the history of the film: the mangling by the studio, the likely deliberately destroyed edited footage, and ...
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Cinema Sentries

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) Blu-ray Review: Uncovering Cinematic Buried Treasures

In an industry that is lately obsessed with making films available in multiple different versions, both in medium of delivery ...
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Cinema Sentries

Children of the Corn (1984) Blu-ray Review: Killer Kids Get Religion

Cult movies aren't the same as good movies. Good movies generally have decent production values, interesting stories and scripts, nuanced ...
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Cinema Sentries

Doberman Cop (1977) Blu-ray Review: Sonny Chiba’s Hick Dirty Harry

Kinji Fukasaku, of Battles Without Honor or Humanity fame, is best known as the director of hard-edged, cynical material with ...
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The Searchers Blu-ray Review: Revisionist Western Before There Were Revisionist Westerns

Taking a highly praised classic on is a tricky business for any film reviewer. A movie as celebrated and revered ...
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Cinema Sentries

Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars DVD Review: A Parallel Adventure in the Galactic Empire

Phineas and Ferb works almost entirely on the basis of their engaging formula. While there have been occasional efforts to ...
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Cinema Sentries

Any Given Sunday 15th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: Oversized Game Meets Oversized Filmmaker

Recently at lunch, I was watching ESPN with the sound off at a local bar. For 20 minutes, the anchors ...
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Hidden Kingdoms Blu-ray Review: Contrived Narratives Meet Astonishing Nature Footage

Nature shows have to balance the nature with the show. The point of watching animals do stuff is to see ...
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The Book Thief Blu-ray Review: Familiar but Compelling Wartime Drama

It's almost always stupid to say, "They don't make films like this anymore" to describe some character drama. It's usually ...
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Books Review: Starting Point: 1979-1996 and Turning Point: 1997-2008 by Hayao Miyazaki: Unique Memoirs from an Animation Genius

Hayao Miyazaki's downbeat personal sensibility, constant self-doubt, and pessimism are nearly absent from his works. My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery ...
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Dragons: Defenders of Berk Part 2 DVD Review: Mostly Satisfactory Season Ender

How to Train Your Dragon 2 looks, at least from the early trailer, like it is willing to take risks ...
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Book Review: Weird Fantasy, Volume 1: Glossy Reprint of Classic SF Comic

EC Comics holds a special place in comic book history. After all, it was EC comics in particular that were ...
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Dragons: Defenders of Berk Part 1 DVD Review: Another Half Season of Dragon Training

They've changed the title. Dragons, the TV series continuation of the hit CGI movie How to Train Your Dragon was, ...
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Himizu Movie Review: Compellingly Weird Coming-of-age Drama

Weird movies (and Sion Sono makes nothing but weird movies) can only be really successful story vehicles if they properly ...
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Guilty of Romance Movie Review: Sexy Thriller with Tacked-on Murder

Izumi seems like the perfect wife, by her husband's sterile and demanding definition of perfect. She has his slippers in ...
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Book Review: Gasoline Alley: The Complete Sundays, Volume One 1920-1922 by Frank King 

Reading archives of old comic strips can be odd, because not only were these never meant to be perennial entertainment, ...
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Book Review: Hellboy: The First 20 Years by Mike Mignola 

Hellboy: The First 20 Years is a celebration, not necessarily of the character, but of the artist and writer who ...
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Wicked Blood Blu-ray Review: Southern Meth Generic Crime Drama

The film's title, Wicked Blood, implies that it will be about family, and I suppose it is. It evokes the ...
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The Agatha Christie Hour: Complete Collection DVD Review: Agatha Christie’s Also-Rans

When I was a young television viewer, I had romantic notions about TV in Britain. The only British TV I ...
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Milius Movie Review: The Director Who Wanted to be a General

For a man who has had many triumphs, John Milius is seen as a tragic figure - he's the one ...
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Bryan Ferry: Live in Lyon DVD Review: Smooth, Professional Concert Crooning

After a certain age, all British rock musicians seem to funnel into one style of music. It begins gradually (and ...
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In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey DVD Review: Straightforward Look at Oddball Musician

Nothing is obscure anymore - or nothing can remain obscure. Internet information proliferation flattens structures. Getting information on John Fahey ...
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Sanguivorous DVD Review: Super-Arty Asian Vampires

At 56 minutes, Sanguivorous has a quality rare in experimental/avant garde cinema - it knows if it isn't going to ...
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Vikings: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review: Old Gods Make Decent Drama

The images that are conjured by the words "History Channel scripted series" are not too exciting. It makes one think ...
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Waking the Dead: Season Eight DVD Review: Forensic Cop Show, Overwrought and Desperate

An advantage many British shows have over American television is that they usually have far fewer episodes. A show will ...
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American Horror Story: Asylum Blu-ray Review: Absolutely Insane, but It Works

American Horror Story is more about horror than it is horror. It has the tropes, and the imagery, of real ...
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Birth of the Living Dead Movie Review: Timely Revisiting of Horror Classic

At the risk of sounding hipsterish, I'm sick of zombies. Zombies are so done. When I was a young Night ...
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Brainwave DVD Review: Interesting Lectures, but Missed Opportunity

Brainwave is an annual lecture/conversation series that has been presented by the Rubin Museum of Art in New York since ...
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Haven: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: Supernatural TV Series Dives into Some Pitfalls

There are two major pitfalls that supernaturally themed TV shows can easily fall into. First, since these shows have to ...
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Blandings: Series 1 DVD Review: The Great Wodehouse (Somewhat) Well Adapted

P. G. Wodehouse, an incredibly prolific British humorist (writing nearly 100 books, and many plays, movies and short stories) was ...
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Robotech 2-Movie Collection DVD Review: The Shadow Chronicles Collector’s Edition and Love Live Alive: A Robotech Sequel and A Long, Long Clip Show

Robotech was the introduction to an entire generation to the wonders of anime (at the time called Japanimation), and (perhaps ...
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Shoah Criterion Collection DVD Review: Superb Release of Haunting, Tragic Film

Shoah is a film about trains. Inside its nearly 10 hours of running time, the image and movement of the ...
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Strike Back: Cinemax Season Two Blu-ray Review: 21st Century Production Values, ’80s Action Sensibility

Throughout Strike Back's second season, a single episode did not go by where someone was not shot in the head ...
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Dragons: Riders of Berk Part 1 and 2 DVDs Review: More Vikings, More Dragons

How To Train Your Dragon was a surprise, a CGI-animated action adventure story with humor and real heart coming from ...
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The Gangster (2012) Blu-ray Review: Ambitious but Flawed Gangland Epic

Classic gangster movies followed a specific arc, probably best codified in the original Scarface (1932) - the audience follows the ...
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