Kent Conrad

Book Review: Atlas Comics Library No. 2: Venus Vol. 2

Venus tells a very revealing story - not about its characters or world, but about the world of comic book ...
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A Fistful of Dynamite Blu-ray Review: Viva la Sergio Leone Revolucion

For many filmgoers, Sergio Leone made four movies, four Westerns that helped to define the perception of the Spaghetti Western. ...
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The Lion in Winter (1968) Blu-ray Review: Cutthroat Politics, Medieval Style

The Lion in Winter is largely about terrible people who might love each other, when they're not plotting against each ...
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The Ring Collection 4K UHD Review: Video Terror’s Diminishing Returns

The Ring (2002) might be one of the most influential horror movies of the new century. Based on the Japanese ...
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Archangel (1990) Blu-ray Review: Dreamlike Semi-silent Melodrama

Guy Maddin does not make movies in any particular genre. He makes "Guy Maddin" movies, which are unlike anything else ...
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The Heroic Trio/Executioners Criterion Collection 4K UHD Review: Insane Hong Kong Lady Action

In the pre-Internet era, information about different cultures’ cinema was obscure. It was rumor. It was some still in a ...
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Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Blu-ray Review: Twisty Drama in the Courtroom

A filmed courtroom drama has a double-edged sword. It's of course easy drama, the conflict is already fixed. Defense vs. ...
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Jennifer 8 Blu-ray Review: Ambitious but Flawed Crime Story

Jennifer 8 wants to be more than a serial killer story. It has the elements to be more. Friends with ...
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Eureka (1983) Blu-ray Review: Greed, Grudges, and Gruesomeness

Eureka is four films in one, in succession. First, it's an experimental art film about a man obsessed with finding ...
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Elegant Beast Blu-ray Review: The Family That Scams Together

We know the Maeda family are shady from the first scene. They're rearranging the furniture in their apartment to hide ...
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Farscape: The Complete Series 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Wild Ride in Outer and Inner Space

Westerns were a big thing for a very long time. The West (capital W very much intended) meant the frontier. ...
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2 Days in the Valley Blu-ray Review: Not Quite Pulp Fiction

It's hard to overstate the change that Pulp Fiction made on mid-budgeted filmmaking in the early '90s. It's not like ...
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A Bullet for Sandoval Blu-ray Review: Grim, Dark Revenge Western

Spaghetti Westerns are marked by their high drama, brutal and sometimes over the top action, and morally ambiguous heroes. But ...
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Book Review: Atlas Comics Library No. 1: Adventures into Terror Volume 1

The mainstream American comic book is the home of the super-hero. But that was just its final evolution. While the ...
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The Legend of Zorro 4K UHD Review: Not So Legendary

The Mask of Zorro (1998), while not a perfect movie, had a near-perfect sense of tone, and fantastic casting. Antonio ...
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Alien Outlaw Blu-ray Review: Happily Senseless Sci-fi Western

There's an aspect of a movie like Alien Outlaw (1986) that is review-proof. It's not trying to be "good", in ...
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Red Dragon (2002) 4K UHD Review: Hopkins’ Last Lecter

While Silence of the Lambs is justly Thomas Harris's most famous story about Hannibal Lecter, it's the previous novel, Red ...
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The Black Phone 4K UHD Review: Unnerving Kidnapping Tale

Proper new screen horror villains are rare. While it seems like they pop up all the time, the ones that ...
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Night of the Demons 2 Blu-ray Review: Angela Comes Back, Better

Night of the Demons 2 is a direct-to-video sequel to Night of the Demons, released six years later. It's cheaper, ...
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Night of the Demons 4K UHD Review: Shameless & Shameful Evil Dead Rip-off

When I saw the opening credits of Night of the Demons, I had the feeling that the animated floating demons ...
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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm 4K UHD Review: Batman in Love

In the last couple of decades, DC has been aggressive about adapting its comic book stories into films. Some of ...
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Foolish Wives Blu-ray Review: The First Million Dollar Picture

Erich von Stroheim, the director of Foolish Wives, was well known for his aristocratic and military background. He was a ...
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City of the Living Dead 4K UHD Review: Where Zombies Are Ghosts

What makes Italian horror films of the '70s and '80s exciting is that anything can happen. What makes them infuriating ...
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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 4K UHD Steelbook Review: Danke Schoen for a Perfect Movie

For a certain segment of the population, this is the movie. The movie. One of my older brothers. My high ...
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Nightbreed 4K UHD Review: Clive Barker’s Monster Mess

It's unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising that Clive Barker hung up his directing hat. He made his first film, Hellraiser, ...
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Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams Criterion Collection 4K UHD Review: A Master Reflects

With a master artist, their later works are impossible to judge outside of the context of their careers. One could ...
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Book Review: Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers: The Count Roquefort Case and Other Stories: The Disney Afternoon Adventures Vol. 3

The third in Fantagraphics reprint series, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: The Count Roquefort Case and Other Stories: The Disney ...
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Book Review: Scrooge McDuck: The Dragon of Glasgow by Joris Chamblain and Fabrizio Petrossi

Scrooge McDuck is best known from either DuckTales, or from the 1983 Disney Short, "Mickey's Christmas Carol." There he played, ...
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Book Review: Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge: Operation Galleon Grab by Giorgio Cavazzano

While never a major draw in the United States, comic book stories starring the main line Disney cartoon characters, Mickey ...
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The Truman Show 4K UHD Review: Prescient Dystopic Satire

What's frightening about The Truman Show, a dystopic nightmare about the co-option of human experience and survival in a corporate ...
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The White Buffalo Blu-ray Review: Bizarre Prairie Jaws

There's potential in the idea of The White Buffalo. A pastiche of real world characters (Wild Bill Hickock, Crazy Horse, ...
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Time Bandits Criterion Collection 4K UHD Review: A Child’s Nightmare Fantasy

Is Time Bandits a children's movie? It stars a child, and there's nothing on the face that a child shouldn't ...
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Tales from the Gimli Hospital Redux Blu-ray Review: Oddest of Odd Bedfellows

David Cronenberg, fellow Canadian and not a stranger to weirdness once said, "You haven't truly seen a foreign film until ...
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The Bridges at Toko-Ri Blu-ray Review: The Toll of War

Korean war movies all tend to have a sense of ambivalence. WWII movies, even when they have obligatory scenes of ...
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Book Review: Doris Danger: Giant Monsters Amok by Chris Wisnia & Ricky Sprague

As the American comic book industry developed in the '60s, it became significantly less diverse. Superheroes eventually became, essentially, the ...
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Violent Streets (1974) Blu-ray Review: Blood and Guts Yakuza Story

It might be a form of survivorship bias, but movies "demystifying" or "deglamorizing" yakuza seem to outnumber any other kind ...
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Samurai Wolf 1 & 2 Blu-ray Review: A Scruffier Yojimbo

The first director a Western audience thinks of for classic samurai films is Akira Kurosawa. After all, his Seven Samurai ...
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Branded to Kill Criterion Collection 4K UHD Review: Yakuza Movie as Experimental Art

Goro Hanada's life is spinning out of control. His wife spends all his money, so he's always on the financial ...
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All-Star Superman 4K UHD Review: Great Comics, Okay Movie

Superman is a difficult character to write good stories about because… he's Superman. Impervious to damage, always the strongest and ...
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Backtrack (1990) Blu-ray Review: Dennis Hopper’s Lost… Piece

Backtrack feels like one of the weird indie comedy-crime-dramas that came out in the wake of Pulp Fiction's success. It's ...
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Heat (1986) Blu-ray Review: Burt Reynolds Comes Back Fighting

They call him "Mex." His name is Nick Escaflante (Burt Reynolds), and we meet him drunk in a bar hitting ...
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The Big Easy (1986) Blu-ray Review: Corrupt Cop Chews Scenery

For Remy McSwain (Dennis Quaid), life in the Big Easy is smooth. He's got his big smile (he's Dennis Quaid, ...
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The Maltese Falcon (1941) 4K UHD Review: Bogart’s Big Break

Is The Maltese Falcon a film noir? To many viewers, it's not a question. It's black and white. There's crime. ...
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Book Review: Fools Die on Friday by Erle Stanley Gardner

Donald Lam knows the girl's a phony. He knows from the second he sees the monogram on her cigarette case ...
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Dead Silence (2007) 4K UHD Review: Scary Dolls Don’t Do Anything

James Wan has had an interesting career. An absolute underdog, coming from Malaysia via Australia, he made the film Saw. ...
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Dragonslayer (1981) 4K UHD Review: Great Dragon, Murky Movie

The title Dragonslayer brings to mind knights in shining armor. Villainous, fire-breathing wyrms. Damsels chained to posts in sacrifice to ...
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The Vagrant (1992) Blu-ray Review: Baffling, but Never Boring Horror Film

The Vagrant has about four movies worth of themes and plots, but less than a single film's coherence. It's weird, ...
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Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Blu-ray Review: Puss Meets Death for the Ninth Time

The Shrek series has been dormant in the cinema for over a decade, since the release of the first Puss ...
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Book Review: The George Herriman Library: Krazy & Ignatz 1925-1927

Krazy Kat is the kind of thing that doesn't happen. The comic strip ran for almost 30 years despite irritation ...
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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 4K UHD Steelbook Review: Grinding Relentless Horror Classic

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre deserves its reputation. For grisliness, for nastiness. And for excellence. It's a rare movie that ...
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Kubo and the Two Strings 4K UHD Steelbook Review: Stop-motion Tribute to Samurai Cinema

Kubo and the Two Strings is the story of an estranged family coming together. It is the story of a ...
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The Boxtrolls 4K UHD Steelbook Review: Charming, Odd, Ugly Beautiful?

Stop motion animation is a pretty weird medium. It was an early special effects trick, long since superseded by technology. ...
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Book Review: Talespin: Flight of the Sky-Raker and Other Stories: The Disney Afternoon Adventures Vol. 2

Disney Afternoon was a staple of after-school procrastination for nearly a decade, from 1990-1997. Several of those years included my ...
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Three Colors Trilogy Criterion Collection 4K UHD Review: Enigmatic Masterpieces About People Connecting

The Three Colors of this film trilogy, Blue, White, and Red, are so-chosen for the French tri-color flag (sorry, U.S.A.) ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Cinema Sentries

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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The Body Snatcher (1945) Blu-ray Review: Boris Karloff’s Finest Hour

What makes The Body Snatcher interesting is how much it isn't like a low budget horror movie. That's what it ...
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Perfect Blue (1997) Blu-ray Review: Anime Psychothriller Lives Again

Perfect Blue was the feature film directorial debut of Satoshi Kon, one of the bright lights of anime whose career ...
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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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Lu Over the Wall Blu-ray Review: Vampire Mermaids Warm the Heart

Masaaki Yuasa is something of a wild card anime director. In an industry that can be chided for a certain ...
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Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms Blu-ray Review: Emotional, Poignant Fantasy Epic

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is visually stunning, and works hard at it. It opens with the working of ...
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Suspiria (2018) Blu-ray Review: Wildly Reinvented, Massively Flawed

Suspiria is a strange film to remake, because most of what makes it an effective movie has nothing to do ...
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Melies: Fairy Tales in Color Blu-ray Review: When Special Effects Were Magic

Georges Melies was one of the first special-effects wizards in the history of Cinema. He was so early on the ...
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Little Annie Rooney Blu-ray Review: Charming Silent Comedy and Melodrama

Mary Pickford was 32 when she made Little Annie Rooney, where she plays a girl barely into her teens who ...
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Fanchon the Cricket (1915) Blu-ray Review: Lost Pickford Film Charms

In modern films, it seems that everybody who wandered anywhere in the vicinity of the set gets an on-screen credit. ...
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Orgies of Edo Blu-ray Review: Torture, Surrealism, and Topless Women

When a form of entertainment is facing a crisis, when other forms of media cut into its business and make ...
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Metropolis (2001) Blu-ray Review: Visually Opulent, Narratively Dormant Adaptation

The cliché about Osamu Tezuka is to call him the Walt Disney of Japan. He was, indeed, a pioneer of ...
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Torso (1973) Blu-ray Review: Sleazy Suspenseful Giallo Goodness

One of the things that make giallo movies arresting is setting. Giallo movies are Italian, and, unsurprisingly enough, tend to ...
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Book Review: The Teenage Slasher Movie Book by J.A. Kerswell

Before the late '90s-early 2000s revival of horror as a mainstream money maker (thanks largely to Scream and the new ...
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Horrors of Malformed Men Blu-ray Review: Complete Malformed Japanese Madness

Escaped asylum inmates, mistaken identity, resurrection from the grave, bizarre biological experiments, murder, incest, and a plot for world domination ...
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Tideland Blu-ray Review: Childhood, Love, and Necrophilia

In a recorded introduction to Tideland, director Terry Gilliam states flat out, "Many of you are not going to like ...
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Mind Game (2004) Blu-ray Review: Endlessly Confusing, Endlessly Fascinating

The first couple minutes of Mind Game contains, after a brief scene of a girl being chased onto a subway ...
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Street Mobster Blu-ray Review: Gritty, Nasty Yakuza Drama

Street Mobster is a rough, often ugly story about Okita, a common street thug who tries to eke out a ...
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The Third Murder Movie Review: All Justice, No Truth

There shouldn't be much to the murder trial. After all, the murderer has already confessed. The prosecution is pushing for ...
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Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! Blu-ray Review: Undercover Yakuza Hijinks

Seijun Suzuki, one of the stable of directors at Nikkatsu in the '50s and '60s, Japan's oldest film studio, was ...
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The Bloodthirsty Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Dracula Goes East

As one of the great national cinemas, the Japanese movie industry has invented whole cloth many genres and excelled in ...
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Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 2 Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies Blu-ray Review: Nikkatsu Noir

Seijun Suzuki is one of the more famous Japanese directors of the '60s, when younger filmmakers were taking the rein ...
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Basket Case (1982) Blu-ray Review: Enthusiastically Silly and Sleazy

My conscience tells me I have to recommend this release, because it is a superb home video version of Basket ...
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Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno Blu-ray Review: Lost Masterpiece or Dodged Bullet?

There's a little cottage industry of documentaries about movies that didn't get made. Every few years one of them pops ...
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Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis Blu-ray Review: Friendship in the Face of Evil

Until the Paris Terrorist attack on November 13, 2015 where their concert at the Bataclan was targeted leaving 89 dead, ...
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An Actor’s Revenge Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Kabuki Costumes in Modernist Cinema

Yukinojo, the kabuki female impersonator who gets the titular vengeance in Kon Ichikawa's An Actor's Revenge (1963), is a tough ...
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Kameradschaft Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Cry for Cooperation

It's difficult to separate Kameradschaft from its historical context. Released in 1931, this story of cooperation between French and Germans ...
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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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Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth (2007) Blu-ray Review: Science Fiction Chamber Play

A man is confronted by his friends after he walks out on his going-away party. He's been a local professor ...
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Glory (2016) DVD Review: Bulgarian Tragicomedy Depressed Me

One of the reviews quoted on the box for Glory describes it as "Frank Capra Meets the Dardenne Brothers". I ...
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The Captive (1915) Blu-ray Review: War, Romance, Forced Labor

The Captive is a story of war-time deprivation and how terrible circumstances can bring disparate people together. There's gun battles, ...
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Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) Blu-ray Review: Rural Murder Italian Style

There's an old saying in Classic Hollywood, attributed to Howard Hawks, that a good movie is "three good scenes, no ...
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Terror in a Texas Town (1958) Blu-ray Review: Swedish Sterling Slays Slinger

Watching older movies, it's fun to remember sometimes how much all media is created as much by the times as ...
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The Slayer (1982) Blu-ray Review: Marital Crisis Solved by Slayer

Achieving notoriety in the early '80s (at least across the pond) for being one of the Video Nasties, films legally ...
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Book Review: Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji by Tom Mes

To much of the post-Millennium western cinematic audience, Meiko Kaji was introduced with her voice. Both the theme songs from ...
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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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The Big Knife (1955) Blu-ray Review: Poison Pen Letter to Hollywood

The Big Knife (1955) is several things at once. It's a Hollywood movie about how awful Hollywood is. It's a ...
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Hana-bi Blu-ray Review: Violence, Beauty, and Beautiful Violence

Off-beat and enigmatic, with a timeline that eschews strict linearity, Hana-bi (originally released in 1997 in the states as Fireworks) ...
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Soul on a String DVD Review: Astonishing Vistas, Ambiguous Story

Soul on a String offers the visuals (and the length) of an epic Western, and even some of the story ...
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Down Down the Deep River DVD Review: A Tribute to an ’80s Childhood

It seems rare in American arts that people are allowed to do more than one thing. It seems almost greedy ...
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New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: The Complete Trilogy Blu-ray Review: More Frenzied Yakuza Madness

Battles Without Honor and Humanity has been called the Japanese Godfather, and while it has some similarities (depicting daily life ...
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After the Storm (2016) Blu-ray Review: Human Drama is Equally Sad, Sweet

The premise sounds like a high-concept, wacky comedy: down on his luck novelist and sometimes private detective follows around his ...
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In This Corner of the World Movie Review: Daily Life in Wartime

In This Corner of the World is a Japanese animated movie that tells the wartime story of Suzu, a sweet ...
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Warlock Collection Blu-ray Review: Satan’s Son Starts Franchise

Like House II, Warlock was one of those movies that I remember seeing heavily advertised on television as a kid, ...
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The Fencer Movie Review: Touching Soviet-Era Sports Drama

Never before have I seen a sports movie whose main emotional tone was quiet dread. One look at the title: ...
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Zaza (1923) Blu-ray Review: Swanson’s Spitfire Star Turn

It's hard to get around the fact that, for a modern movie viewer, silent movies are a lot of extra ...
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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 Unholy (1988) Blu-ray Review: Damp Devil Movie Gets Superb Release

Devil movies work best when they have a core of revelation. They need characters to struggle against the reality of ...
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Caltiki the Immortal Monster (1959) Blu-ray Review: Bava’s First Horror Bash

Every era gets the horror monsters it deserves, I think. In the '30s and '40s old literary monsters were brought ...
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House: Two Stories Blu-ray Review: ’80s Horror Done Weird

House II is one of the few movies I can remember seeing ads for on TV when I was watching ...
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Cops vs. Thugs (1975) Blu-ray Review: Corrupt Cops Combat Corporatization

Of the spate of Japanese movies that infiltrated the American consciousness at the beginning of the 21st century, when the ...
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Brain Damage (1988) Blu-ray Review: Schlock That Loves Being Schlock

There's a certain genius to Brain Damage (1989). Thousands of horror movies are made which simply copy the last popular ...
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Good Morning (1959) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Japanese Master’s Flatulent Comedy

Comedy doesn't tend to get the respect of drama in movie writing. Like horror, its effectiveness depends on whether or ...
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Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism Blu-ray Review: Radical Politics and Radical Filmmaking

Some movies offer formal challenges as part of their appeal. They might have sequences of the narrative where the viewer ...
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Dead or Alive Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Literally Explosive Cinematic Madness

The opening six minutes of Dead or Alive, one of the first films of Takashi Miike to get international attention, ...
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Mifune: The Last Samurai DVD Review: Japan’s Greatest Actor Profiled

Toshiro Mifune is one of the most dynamic actors who's ever played on the big screen. He was an animal ...
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We Are X Blu-ray Review: Hair Metal and Heartache

Early in We Are X, Yoshiki, the leader of the band is asked in an English-language interview why the band ...
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Ludwig (1973) Blu-ray Review: Lots of Castles, Little Story

Strange for an explicitly socialist director of the mid-20th century, but Luchino Visconti was unabashed in his almost fetishistic adoration ...
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Your Name Movie Review: Bodies Swapped, Heartstrings Tugged

For what is on the surface a sweet, elegiac coming of age romance, Your Name gets pretty ambitious. It starts ...
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Book Review: LOAC Essentials Vol. 8: King Features Essentials 1: Krazy Kat 1934 by George Harriman: Rare Dailies of the Kraziest of Komics

It is ironic that, in the era of the Internet which has disrupted so much of modern publishing, it has ...
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Psychomania Blu-ray Review: Inexplicable Zombie Biker Cult Movie

Other people's movie cults are just weird. My own cult obsessions are, of course, completely justifiable and unquestionable (Big Trouble ...
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The Handmaiden DVD Review: Period Thriller, Twisty and Twisted

Movies that depend on plot twists have a number of complications forced on them, in order to be good and ...
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Black Society Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Madman Miike’s (Relatively) Somber Saga

Takashi Miike is the Japanese director who will, seemingly, film anything. And anything does not just mean he'll put the ...
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Blair Witch Blu-ray Review: Murky Modern Updating Misses Mark

Ambiguity is a central attribute to satisfying horror movies (I write "satisfying" because, if the box office is any indication, ...
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Book Review: To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy: Surprisingly Accessible Financial Memoir

If Toy Story had flopped, it would have been the end of Steve Jobs. Remembered in his later life for ...
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C.H.U.D. Blu-ray Review: Cheesy Happenings, Underwhelming Direction

What's weird about C.H.U.D. is how much it's like a real movie. An '80s horror flick, it has the feel ...
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The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast Blu-ray Review: Extensive, Exhausting Exploitation Experience

Enormous multi-movie box sets (especially expensive ones) have two real audiences: already devoted fans, and movie buffs who want to ...
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Private Property Blu-ray Review: Sizzling Hot Forgotten Noir

Made just on the cusp of the broadening of censorship rules in Hollywood, Private Property was probably too much, too ...
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Dark Water Blu-ray Review: A More Intimate Ring of Terror

While it's not entirely accurate to say that Ringu was the first J-horror movie (the momentum for that had been ...
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Woman in the Dunes Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Digging out a Life in Sand

Every night, the woman shovels sand from the bottom of a hole, which gets carted up by a rope pulley, ...
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Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: She’d Have Killed Bill in the First Movie

Despite all the blood, boobs, torture, cruelty, crazy lighting schemes, and wild camera angles, the most indelible image in these ...
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The Invitation (2016) Movie Review: Paranoia, Isolation, and a Good Wine Party

Writing about a movie like The Invitation is a delicate business, because much of its effectiveness depends on the surprise ...
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Person of Interest: The Fifth and Final Season DVD Review: Goodbye to the Machine

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The ...
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Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan Blu-ray Review: Master of Monsters Revealed

The advent of DVD extras has, I think, cost a toll on entertainment documentaries. I've seen reviews that refer to ...
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Blood and Black Lace Blu-ray Review: Astonishingly Beautiful Depiction of Ugliness

Blood and Black Lace, a lurid proto-slasher movie with gruesome and copious violence, is one of the most visually beautiful ...
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Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 2 Blu-ray Review: Some Things Don’t Translate

Japanese cinema is samurai showdowns, tough gangster pictures, or calm, quietly devastating domestic dramas. Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi. Oh, and Godzilla. ...
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The Assassin (2015) Blu-ray Review: Mesmerizingly Beautiful, Maddeningly Obtuse

It's hard when reviewing a movie to admit that you don't get it. If you have enough ego to broadcast ...
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The Zero Boys Blu-ray Review: A Thrill-less Thriller

Execution is the most important aspect of any thriller. A science fiction movie with good ideas can stand pokey pacing ...
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Barcelona Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Innocent Imperialists Abroad

The first thing to get about Barcelona is the movie is sympathetic to its protagonists. Fred and Ted are cousins ...
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Outlaw Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: Gangster and Outlaw, All in One

How is being an Outlaw Gangster different from just being a gangster? By definition, they're all outlaws, aren't they? It ...
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Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo DVD Review: Giant Robots with Daddy Issues

This will take some explaining. In the mid '90s, the anime TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion sparked something of a ...
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Let There Be Light: John Huston’s Wartime Documentaries Blu-ray Review: From Propaganda to Trauma

It's odd to feel nostalgia for a time one never lived in, and to envy men who are fighting in ...
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Book Review: The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series: A Gleefully Grisly Souvenir

When I first heard about the Hannibal TV show, it seemed like a joke - the apotheosis of the modern ...
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Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 1 Blu-ray Review: Action Heroes ’50s Japanese Style

The Nikkatsu Diamond Guys title comes from a marketing scheme from nearly 60 years ago. Nikkatsu is a studio in ...
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David Bowie, The Heart’s Filthy Lesson, Se7en, and Me

David Fincher led me to David Bowie. I doubt that was a typical path to the Thin White Duke, but ...
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Bone Tomahawk DVD Review: Rare Horror Western Hybrid

One of the problems with the modern Western is the seemingly desperate need for creators to seem superior, both to ...
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Wake Up and Kill Blu-ray Review: Gritty but Unengaging Criminal Bio-pic

Wake Up and Kill isn't quite a traditional gangster film. There's a philosophy to the gangster film that requires a ...
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Requiescant Blu-ray Review: Massacred Mexican Communist Revenge

As Westerns go, Requiescant is an odd one. Its story isn't all that unusual - a young boy's entire Mexican ...
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Tenderness of the Wolves Blu-ray Review: Serial Killer Social Drama

German cinema during the '70s belonged to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The director was incredibly prolific from an annoyingly precocious age. ...
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Attack on Titan: The Movies: Part 1 & Part 2 Review: Anime-Inspired Cinematic Insanity

Of the various pleasures of Japanese cinema, for me one of the greatest is to see stuff on screen that ...
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Big House, U.S.A. Blu-ray Review: Lean, Tough ’50s Crime

This was an unexpected treasure. Big House, U.S.A. (which is a completely undescriptive, absolutely terrible title for this grim thriller) ...
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The Hee Haw Collection DVD Review: Stockholm Syndrome in the Cornfields

The first hour of watching The Hee Haw Collection might have been the longest hour of anything I've seen. The ...
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Cemetery Without Crosses Blu-ray Review: Franco-Spanish Spaghetti Western

Filmed in Spain, with a mostly French cast directed by (and starring) the French Robert Hossein and with a screenplay ...
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He Ran All the Way Blu-ray Review: Beautiful Cinematography Elevates Standard Noir

He Ran All The Way was written by Dalton Trumbo and directed by John Berry, both just before they were ...
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Person of Interest: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review: A.I. Supercomputer Battle Royale

Every season of Person of Interest ends with some kind of apocalypse, some place to recover from. A lot of ...
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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Blu-ray Review: A Magical Series About Real Magic in England

There are people who cannot handle fantasy. There are viewers who think that any mention of the specifically impossible (instead ...
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Stray Cat Rock Blu-ray Review: Motorcycle Girl Gangs and Hippy Crime Sprees

On an interview on this disc, director Yasuharu Hasebe talks about how ephemeral the movies he made were. “I expected ...
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Society Blu-ray Review: Glorious Mess of an ’80s Horror Movie

Horror movies are often critiqued as metaphors, largely in an attempt to approach them in terms that distance critics from ...
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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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Retaliation Blu-ray Review: Japanese Gangster Exploitation Mayhem

One of the joys of watching old exploitation movies like Retaliation is that the inexpensive filmmaking meant that a documentary ...
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The Friends of Eddie Coyle Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Crime, Lowkey, and Unsentimental

Released about a year after Coppola's crime epic, The Godfather, The Friends of Eddie Coyle was seen by some critics ...
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Fast, Cheap & Out of Control Movie Review: Skewed Look at Human Behavior

The title might throw a viewer off - 'Out of Control'. A documentary about things being out of control sounds ...
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Blind Woman’s Curse Blu-ray Review: Gory Japanese Ghosts and Yakuza Fun

Blind Woman's Curse, directed by Teruo Ishii and due out on Blu-ray on April 21 from Arrow Video, is a ...
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A Walk Among the Tombstones Blu-ray Review: Somber, Slow Detective Throwback

Looking at the trailer for A Walk Among the Tombstones, one would be forgiven for assuming it is a Liam ...
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The Vanishing (1988) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Thriller as Character Study

The missing person is the greatest motif of the mystery story. Even if the murder story is more common (and ...
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UHF Blu-ray Review: Constant Parodying, Semi-Constant Laughter

"Weird Al" seems to be perpetually "coming back". It's surprising to see, in a world where all careers have peaks ...
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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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Father Brown: Season One DVD Review: Uninspired Priest Detective Series

It is difficult to determine where Father Brown fails more completely: as an adaptation, or as a mystery show in ...
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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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Rocks in My Pockets Movie Review: Animated Exploration of Suicide and Depression

Rocks in My Pockets begins with a detailed discussion of suicide by hanging, with all angles fully explored, from how ...
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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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