Blu-Ray Review: Bad Milo (2013)

Bad-Milo-PosterBAD MILO! (2013)

(Warning! This review might contain spoilers. So stop reading if you don’t want plot points spoiled. Peace out).

When I first heard of this movie a long while ago it was simply called, Milo, and was being touted as a movie about some guy with stomach problems who finds he has a demon living in his colon. Poster art showed a claw and part of a face. I was intrigued. I don’t think we have ever had a movie in existence about a demon living in someone’s ass.

As time progressed the title was altered to Bad Milo! and the eventual trailer that was released reminded me of an episode from that 1988s TV show, Monsters. This was good because I loved that show.

I passionately sought out a review copy and was mildly disappointed. In a way it hit all the right spots, especially in the FX department. Milo is a 100% practical effect and the gore he metes out to the people that deserve it is appropriately bloody. The cast is perfect, but for some reason, with such an absurd concept, I expected a movie with more gross out laughs, something like the John Gulager’s Feast trilogy but it’s a fairly serious movie for something about an “ ass demon.”
The plot goes like this. Accountant, Duncan (Ken Marino) suffers a lot of daily stress. He has a boss played by Patrick Warburton, who’s an A #1 douchebag who ends up embezzling the company’s money, putting Duncan right in the middle. Duncan’s mother (Mary Kay Place) has married a much younger man (Kumail Nanjiani), and his wife (Gillian Jacobs) wants kids, which he doesn’t want at the moment. All this stress gives him rampant gastrointestinal problems (aka explosive diarrhea) on a regular basis.

One night, a new employee he’s been saddled with in his new office (aka the men’s room) accidentally deletes some files he’s been working on for a year. Such stress sends him to the toilet where he passes out taking his routine shit and Milo emerges. Milo takes off and kills the guy and then slips back into Duncan’s ass.

There are definite shades of Forbidden Planet (1956) where Milo represents Duncan’s subconscious and what he’d really like to do to some of these people in his life. Rabid raccoon attacks are blamed for the mysterious mounting deaths by the way, well, that is, until he deliberately sets Milo loose on his boss in the elevator, then there is some question of them being done by a serial killer.

A hypnotherapist (Peter Stormare) Duncan agrees to see plays our sage in the movie explaining how the anus has a legend connected to it. This, of course, comes after Duncan gets hypnotized and inadvertently releases Milo in the office. Stormare insists he bond with the creature and that killing it is out of the question. It’s a part of him and to kill it would be like giving himself a lobotomy.

Speaking of lobotomies Duncan makes a breakthrough and realizes he has father issues. We eventually learn his father (Stephen Root) has an ass demon of his own and things don’t end well on that front at all.

This flick also reminded me of Brain Damage (1988) and there’s even a moment that mirrors a section of that movie when Duncan decides to take off and spend some time in a hotel room trying to bond with Milo. In Damage the kid takes off and holes up in this seedy motel where he tries to go cold turkey from Aylmer.

As with pretty much all genre movies nowadays Bad Milo! ends with the possibility of a sequel.

I wanted to like this movie and I do but just not enough for repeated viewings.

Bad Milo! hits DVD and Blu-ray separately courtesy of Magnolia’s genre sub-label Magnet Releasing with a very nice looking 1.85:1 anamorphic 1080p high definition transfer with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which was just as good. (Subtitles: English, Spanish and French).

As for extras you get a commentary with Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs, Director Jacob Vaughn and Writer Benjamin Hayes. It was interesting to find out that David Cronenberg’s early films was what inspired this movie, specifically The Brood (1979), and that the creature was initially called Bruno.

Other features include:

Extended Outtakes (7:40): Bloopers, basically.

Extended Dinner Scene (7:01): The uncut dinner scene, which I think is better in this version.

Deleted Scene: Veterinarian (1:20): A cut scene that’s discussed in the commentary showing Gillian Jacobs was a veterinarian and Ken Marino was picking her up at work. He finds her delivering a baby pig in one of the operating rooms.

Behind Milo: The Puppeteers! (1:33): The scene where it’s revealed that Stephen Root, playing Ken’s father, has an ass demon of his own, and his and Ken’s have a fight to the death. Here you get to see the puppeteers working the creatures before they were edited out in post-production.

Behind Milo: Raw Take (1:04): Split screen take of the scene where Milo leaps upon the desk and knocks over the fan being done over and over a few times.

Interview With Ken Marino (9:49): Just what it says, an interview with Ken Marino
AXS TV: A Look At Bad Milo! (3:03): The same interview above, just shorter and interspersed with clips from the movie.
And finally you get the trailer.

I wonder if this flick gets successful enough to create an ass demon franchise?



One, two, Freddie’s coming for you,
three, four, better lock the door,
five, six, grab your crucifix,
seven eight gonna stay up late,
nine ten, never sleep again…

I first saw A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) on a weekend in November/December of 1985. I’m going to say it was a Saturday morning on HBO or Showtime. Loved the movie on first viewing. When the sequel came out A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) I skipped seeing it at the theater based solely on my best friends reaction to it. He had seen it without me, which dismayed me a little bit, and said it wasn’t all that great. I remember the Fangoria coverage of it, and I seem to think I was perusing one of those issues in his room when the told me about seeing it the night before.

I have no immediate memory of when I eventually saw it on cable.

Now when A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) was hitting theaters early in ’87, it was a whole new ball game for my friends and me. For some reason we were all excited to see this particular one. It probably had to do with the fact that this sequel was being tied directly in to the events of the first film and that Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) was making a return and taking on Fred Krueger once again. It also helped that Dokken had been recruited to do a song for the movie and if you’re an Elm Street fan from the 80s you know how iconic that “Dream Warriors” song has become. For me, sequel 3 is when Freddy started to become a big deal.

The day I saw Dream Warriors at the movies was also a big deal. It was a Saturday afternoon and my mother was driving me, Gerry (my best friend), his brother, Tony, and I seem to think one other person to the movies. I want to say it was Ashley, an in-school friend I knew through Gerry, or it might have been Jim, another of Gerry’s friends. Strange that I can’t remember who that third person was. Anyway, I remember Gerry telling me when he got into the car he had avoided seeing any of the commercials for the movie because he wanted to go into it knowing nothing and being surprised.

We all had a ball and as a far as Elm Street sequels go it’s one of the better ones they cranked out. By the time A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) rolled around, I was all graduated from high school, Gerry had left to join the army and I had made a new best friend, Chris, whom I had met in school six months before graduation. He was the one I saw The Dream Master with and to be honest we were slightly disappointed. I recall Fangoria covering the movie and based on those articles Chris and I had a totally different interpretation of what this Dream Master Freddy was going to take on was. We had the impression this otherworldly being was going to show up or something and kick Krueger’s ass. Still we had fun watching it and to date I still like it. My only other memory from this time was Chris driving me home that night and both of us trying to do Freddy impressions.

Trying being the operative word.

That’s the last Elm Street movie I ever saw in a theater. I was still single at the time, but Chris wasn’t. He decided this time to see A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) with his chick rather than me. Then again I don’t recall having a lot of desire to want to see it anyway. Regardless their critique of Dream Child was not a good one, so I didn’t end up caring too much in the end about having not been invited along. I’m pretty sure I saw it on cable, but I have no concrete memory of that particular event, or a lot of the movie itself. I guess it was a fairly forgettable sequel after all.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) is the only Elm Street movie I never saw and still have no desire to see. By this time my interest in these movies had all but waned. I have memories of seeing the commercials on TV, and thinking, ‘Ugh, another Freddy Krueger movie?!’

I remember getting somewhat re-interested in them when Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) was being covered in Fangoria and quite liking that sequel when I saw it, as usual, on cable. Though Freddy’s appearance at the end of that one almost nulls and voids the dread you get from the rest of the movie. I always felt he was too physically personified at the end of that one.

The next and what looks like the last time I ever find myself in a theater watching Fred Krueger kill off “all his children” is when Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) came out and I tell you I absolutely loved that movie. As with all “old movies” these days, and with some new ones now that I think about it, Hollywood remade A Nightmare On Elm Street in 2010 but based on all that I now know about it there was never any desire to go see it. It’s been on cable and still I have never felt the urge to check it out. I guess that makes two Elm Street movies I never want to see; Freddy’s Dead and the remake.

It’s 2014 and we now have in existence an extensive 2-disc documentary called, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. It clocks in at 4 hours and through interviews with as many cast members, filmmakers and anyone else that was even remotely connected to the making of these movies that were willing and available to talk a definitive critique on this particular horror franchise from conception to release was created.

I really loved the opening credits. Taking key scenes from the franchise they are reproduced in stop motion animation style. Very clever and very well animated. Aside from not being able to get Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette to participate the filmmakers try to turn over every stone they can find in an effort to make this the definitive Elm Street documentary by even including the extra who played Girl On Bus #2 in an early dream scene from Freddy’s Revenge.

What I noticed from listening to this, an in the process kind of diminishing my interest in these movies, Craven’s first film not withstanding, was that New Line didn’t want to turn Freddy Kruger into the truly evil force he could have been. Wes Craven even wrote the initial screenplay to Dream Warriors and what he wrote was a much darker movie than what he created for his first film but New Line didn’t want to go in that direction and you can see with each subsequent sequel the child molester/child killer got more and more “lighter.” Not that that was an entirely bad thing, I suppose, from New Line’s perspective. Most of those lackluster sequels pulled in a butt load of money for the company.

After learning how dark initial scripts were I now would have liked to have seen Kruger become more evil rather than the almost light-hearted evil he became for the remainder of the series.

The doc also reveals after Dream Warriors the M.O. for New Line was to create a poster and set a release date without having a completed script and The Dream Master and The Dream Child scripts were written as the movie was being filmed; more so, if I can remember, with The Dream Child. It amazes me that they were even able to put together a coherent narrative that could be marketed. The MPAA really didn’t like The Dream Child either forcing director Stephen Hopkins to cut the gore down.

As I stated before I had never seen Freddy’s Dead and after seeing this doc I’m glad I didn’t. It appears to be the worst of the sequels; almost a comedy I dare say.

I especially liked the talk about the Freddy’s Nightmares series. I never watched that show on any consistent basis back in the day and was astounded to learn how a lot of the directors thought it was crap. Robert Shaye says the first hand full of episodes were good after that forget it. And since it was syndicated and the directors were left alone to do what they want the series became rather sexually explicit and gory. I personally don’t remember any of that, but as I said I only caught a few episodes. I didn’t hate Freddy’s Nightmares but on the other hand I didn’t really like it either. I didn’t really come around to it until the Chiller Channel started airing it and I caught a few episodes.

The end credits to this doc were cleverly done too. They had some of the actors look into the camera and do some of their lines from their movies.

Did I mention Heather Langenkamp narrates?
You also get a commentary by directors Andrew Kasch and Daniel Farrands, writer Thommy Hustson and cinematographer Buz “Danger” Wallick.

Now onto Disc #2, which has these features on it:
Extended Interviews (1:40:55): These are snippets that were cut out from the various interviews done on the doc in Disc #1, probably to keep the runtime from getting too unholy. Most of this is pretty good stuff that should have been kept in, but I digress.

First Look: Heather Langenkamp’s ‘I Am Nancy’ (6:42): I forgot Langenkamp had a documentary in the works. This is a little sneak peek of it. She seems concerned that Freddy is more popular than Nancy.

For The Love Of The Glove (18:16): This is here is basically a video love letter to Fred’s iconic weapon. Several collectors who specialize in reproducing this prop and selling it are interviewed.

Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans (12:50): Interviews with various cast members and filmmakers on why they think Fred is popular and a look at some of those fans who worship him.

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return To Elm Street (23:10): A very cool concept, to revisit some of the locations Wes Craven’s movie was filmed at. Sean Clark does the hosting for this featurette and even bumps into some of the cast members.

Freddy Vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd (5:30): This is basically about a kid who reviews old video games and there was one based on Craven’s movie.

Expanding The Elm Street Universe: Freddy In Comic Books & Novels: (15:45): I was always aware of the Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash comic but never knew there were other Elm Street comics or even novels that were written about Freddy. This featurette talks with some of those authors and looks at those comics.

The Music Of The Nightmare: Conversations With Composers & Songwriters (13:40): Members of Dokken and other composers who did music for the series discuss who their songs and music came about.

Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art Of Matthew Joseph Peak (7:31): Peak created a majority of the posters for the franchise. Here he tells you what inspired him, and that he was also a fan of Dreamscape (1984), so much so he worked the snake creature from that movie into the poster of the first Elm Street movie.

A Nightmare On Elm Street In 10 Minutes (10:07): This is basically actors from each movie reenacting portions of their dialogue.

Last but not least you get a Never Sleep Again Teaser Trailer
This documentary initially hit DVD back in 2010. It took 3 long years but we now have it on blu-ray courtesy of Image Entertainment. Image has this doc framed at 1.78:1 and in 1080p high definition, with a lossless 2.0 DTS-MA audio configuration. Both the video and the audio were fine, crisp and clear. I never saw this when it came out in 2010, so this was all new to me and quite fun to watch.

I know this is stating the obvious but if you’re a die-hard Elm Street fan you will probably want to upgrade to this blu-ray as soon as possible.

Blu-Ray/DVD Review: WITCHBOARD (1986)

83080_frontWITCHBOARD (1986)

I was seventeen and in high school when this movie came out. I remember the commercials on TV vividly. I seem to recall this friend I had named, Paul, saw it before I did and he said the ending was better than Highlander (1986). Yes, you heard that right. For those who have never seen Highlander, it’s basically a fantasy action movie. For all those who have never seen Witchboard, that movie is not. Regardless it didn’t stop Paul from uttering it. Frankly, I’m not really sure he ever saw Highlander. If he did, I’m certain he would not have said something so utterly ridiculous. And that’s not bashing either film. Highlander and Witchboard are two of my favorite movies from the 80s. The ending to Highlander is basically a sword fight, the death of the bad guy and an FX extravaganza of weirdness where the “good guy” becomes mortal (maybe), yet with strange powers (maybe). It’s a long involved plot, but you get the picture. So, seeing as I had never seen the latter but had already seen the former, Paul’s absurd statement had me intrigued.

I can’t recall who I eventually saw Witchboard with, but when I did I knew Paul was either full of shit, had been high or drunk when he made that statement, or… I don’t know. I remember coming to school the next day, telling my best friend about the movie and telling him Paul had no clue what the fuck he was talking about.

The next time I saw it was when it hit VHS; my mother rented it one night and we watched it in my room.

Kevin Tenney captured lightening in a bottle twice with this his first movie and his second, Night Of The Demons in 1988. Here he weaves a ghost story, a slasher flick and a mystery and each component works perfectly. It all begins at a small soiree Jim (Todd Allen) and Linda (Tawny Kitaen) are throwing at their house. She invites ex-boyfriend and Jim’s former best friend, Brandon Sinclair (Stephen Nichols), who happens to have an interest in the paranormal. Bringing his ouja board along he tells everyone he’s been talking to a dead 10-year-old kid on a routine basis through it and demonstrates for everyone how the board works.

From then on Jim and Linda are slowly tormented by this supposed child ghost, which takes the form of creepy POV ghost shots and trivial precognition, but things turn deadly when Jim’s friend dies in a seeming accident on the construction job they were working and Linda begins to get psychically manipulated by the spirit. More death results when Brandon invites a psychic (Kathleen Wilhoite) over to get rid them of the little shit. This is where the slasher aspects and the mystery angle start to really unfold. She gets a sense of something about the ghost, but doesn’t live to tell it as she is slashed across the throat by a hatchet and pushed out the window of her apartment, landing impaled on a sundial on her front lawn.

For those who have never seen this movie I will refrain from revealing anymore. It is genuinely creepy and has a nice ending that would have been a huge downer had that epilogue not been attached. Not that I have anything against downbeat endings. The ending on Highlander is terrific and the ending on this movie is also terrific, but for different reasons. To date this is also the best movie ever made about the ouja board. As of this writing Universal is currently in production on their own ouja board movie simply titled, Ouja. It’s aiming for either a PG or PG-13 rating.

Casting was brilliant, too. Kitaen was somewhat notable from her previous role in Bachelor Party (1984) but she became more noticeable from her appearances in any music video White Snake did. Nichols was soon to become famous too as Patch on Days Of Our Lives, which he played from 1985 to 1990, then again from 2006 to 2009.

There were two sequels made—Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway (1993) and Witchboard III: The Possession (1995). Kevin Tenney directed the first sequel but another director helmed the third one. I saw both and felt neither lived up to the first movie.

Witchboard finally hit DVD back in 2004 from Anchor Bay Entertainment, incidentally the same month they released Tenney’s Night Of The Demons. Both movies have since been out of print for years but are now back in circulation with brand new remasters and on blu-ray even. Witchboard streets on February 4th through Shout! Factory’s horror sub-label, Scream Factory in a DVD/Blu-ray combo.

The 1080p 1.85:1 anamorphic high definition transfer is head and shoulders above the Anchor Bay version; on par, I would say, with Scream’s newly remastered Night Of The Demons, which I also recently reviewed. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio is clear and crisp as well.

There are subtitles and they’re English only.

As for extras you get two commentaries. The one from the 2004 DVD has been ported over which consists of participants Director Kevin Tenney, Executive Producer Walter Josten and Producer Jeff Geoffray. The second commentary is new and consists of Tenney and actors, Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite and James Quinn. Missing is Tawny Kitaen and Todd Allen, with Kitaen it was scheduling conflicts, no idea why Allen couldn’t be there. Compared to the cast commentary on the new Night Of The Demons (1988) combo, this one is a bit livelier and gets MST3K hysterical at certain points.

Like the Night Of The Demons combo the crème of the crop of the extras is the new documentary, ‘Progressive Entrapment: The Making Of Witchboard’ (45:41). New interviews with the cast and the filmmakers that goes from conception to release, very thorough and very entertaining.

The second most interesting extras are these six featurettes—Making Of Witchboard (6:54), Cast Interviews (20:00), On Set: With Todd Allen & Stephen Nichols (19:56), On Set: With The Making Of Witchbaord (19:59), Life On The Set (20:13), and Constructing The World Of Witchboard (21:14). They’re all vintage video taken during production. You get interviews with the three principal actors, Director Tenney, Executive Producer/Producers Walt Josten and Jeff Geoffray along with some “fly-on-the-wall” videos (some stand alone, some mixed in with the interviews) of life on the set. I liked these interviews the best for they’re raw and not like the polished talking head stuff you’d get nowadays. You can hear the questions being asked, there’s background noise, and the actors come off feeling more like real people.

Finally you get some Outtakes (6:18), roughly 214 behind-the-scenes/promo stills spread out across two featurettes—Behind The Scenes Gallery (13:52) and a Promo Gallery (3:37), and the movie’s Theatrical Trailer.

Scream Factory’s Witchboard combo is the last word on this cult classic. Not put your ouja board down and go out and buy it! Carlos Malfeitor will psychically manipulate you into doing it anyway. Why resist?

Blu-Ray/DVD Review: NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)

NIGHT ONight-of-the-Demons-bluray-cover-600x753F THE DEMONS (1988)

It was issue #2 of the 1989 fanzine, Slaughterhouse Magazine, which clued me in to the existence of director, Kevin Tenney’s, Night Of The Demons. Flip to page 25 and right there is a super close-up of possessed and burned Stooge’s (Hal Havins) face. The next page his evil, scorched mug is there too, spread out across both pages, not as large, but just as imposing. It was this gross make-up for this character (by FX artist, Steve Johnson) that quite frankly turned me off to this movie for a while. I was 20 and I had never seen anything like that in my life. I thought, ‘oh, God, this looks like a gross movie. Look at that fuckin’ thing.’

My memory is somewhat vague when it comes to the night I saw it on cable. IMDB states its release date was October 14th, 1988, which would mean I probably saw it in ’89 or ‘90. Back then it generally took a year before any new movie made it to cable and the memory I have of the next day is clearly summer, or late summer. I was working at K-Mart back then (in the stockroom) but I don’t have any memory of going to work the next day, so it may have been a day off I had.

But back to the night it actually came on. It was late, and I was in the living room, the only room that had the cable box hooked up to the TV and I think I knew ahead of time it was going to be on. I also vaguely remember thinking ‘well, I’ll give it a look but no guarantee I’ll continue to watch it all the way through.’ From the photos in Slaughterhouse I already had this preconceived notion of what the production value was going to look like and quite honestly I assumed it would be, at the most, a pretty crummy movie. Nothing more, nothing less.

It was that animated opening credits, however, that actually gave me hope that, perhaps, this wasn’t going to suck balls after all. Anyone who’s seen them knows of which I speak. There were creepy, cartoonish images of a house on a hill, ghosts and ghouls flying about all wrapped up in classic 80s synthesized, instrumental rock music that actually appealed to me. It was basically a unique opening, one that an average low-budget horror movie about a haunted house generally doesn’t have. It hinted that the filmmakers were striving to do something different, something they actually gave a shit about.
I decided to relax and give this thing some serious attention.

The premise is simple. Throw a group into a confined environment and set upon them a “force,” be it human, alien, giant insect, etc., and watch how they react. You’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again, here the group is a bunch of teens on Halloween looking for a place to party, the confined environment is an abandoned mortuary called, Hull House, and the “force” that’s going to set itself upon them is demonic.

What makes this particular confined environment terror tale a standout are due to several factors, most importantly the characters/actors are congenial and relatable. Even the “douchebags” in the bunch, and every group in one of these movies has at least one, aren’t as douchey as they could be. I’m speaking strictly about Stooge (Hal Havins) and Sal (William Gallo). They fall more into the “lovable douche” category; off putting on one level but balanced out with enough good humor and charm where you end up liking them in the end.

There are ten kids in all—Stooge (Hal Havins), Helen (Allison Barron), Rodger (Alvin Alexis), Angela (Amelia Kinkade), Judy (Cathy Podewell), Suzanne (Linnea Quigley), Jay (Lance Fenton), Sal (William Gallo), Max (Philip Tanzini) and Frannie (Jill Terashita).

Stooge, Rodger and Helen attempt to make it Hull House first, but don’t due to Stooge not having a tire iron; this’ll be the first date for Jay and Judy; Sal was not invited but nailed Judy months prior and wants to see her again, so he crashes the party; Max and Frannie are a couple and are hitching a ride with Jay and Judy; Amelia is the Goth chick who planned this whole night and Suzanne is her best friend, both of whom are seen for the first time in a convenience store. Angelia is shoplifting while Suzanne acts as the distraction.

Hull House has a history and is completely encircled by a brick wall, which lines up perfectly with the underground stream on the property. It was once a mortuary but more than that the land it was built on is cursed. What better place to throw a Halloween bash?

Aside from the relatable characters the second thing this movie has going for it is the house itself. It’s not a set but an actual location, and up to then the second creepiest abode I had ever seen committed to film; the first being the Marsten House from Tobe Hooper’s 1979 mini-series of Salem’s Lot. I remember being quite impressed with the fact that it didn’t look like some cheap location.

The next thing to impress me was Angela’s talk of demonic infestation. The last time I came across that term was in the book The Demonologist, the one that chronicles those ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren. I remember thinking, ‘I wonder if the filmmakers had read that book and decided to incorporate some of that info in the movie?’ Lastly, the movie does a good job and making you feel afraid of the dark and the demons lurking within it. I credit that to the cinematography and the actors who actually act like they’re terrified.

Last but not least, Steve Johnson’s’ effects are a standout. Stooge’s and Angela’s state of possessions being key among them, as well as Suzanne’s infamous lipstick gag.

The following day when I got up I had that end credit’s song, “The Beast Inside,” on my mind as I showered. I believe right then and there I made the choice to actually record it the next time it came on.

My next vivid recollection of this movie is in the fall of 1990. I had just started dating this girl and we were at her apartment. It was the night I first met her brother and wouldn’t you know it the movie was about to start on cable. All three of us watched it. Neither she nor he had ever seen it and I remember the both of them jumping when Max’s severed arm leaps at Judy and grabs her ankle.

Back in the late 90s when Anchor Bay was the king of cult classic distribution Night Of The Demons finally saw the light of day on DVD in 2004. To say I was pleased would be an understatement. Now that it’s finally hitting blu-ray (and DVD again) in a combo with a new remastered transfer on February 4th I’m pleased all over again.

Coming from Shout! Factory’s horror sub-label, Scream Factory, the new 1080p 1.85:1 anamorphic high definition transfer is without a doubt the best I have seen this movie look. To me it looked like it could have been made yesterday. It’s so vivid I actually noticed the “crotch patch” Linnea Quigley wears under her panties in her famous bent over ass shot in the convenience store. It’s almost flesh colored but not quite and you can see some of it on both sides of her clothed nether regions. I have never noticed this before with Anchor Bay’s 2004 DVD. Details on the walls in Hull House could be made out and quite frankly this new look made the abode creepier. Colors were very good, too.

I was also impressed by the new 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. This is the crispest one I have ever heard on a Scream title. I even heard audio sounds I’ve never noticed before. The scene at the house where they go into the kitchen and you hear the story of the Indian. As they first enter, the camera is on Max and in the background you can see Frannie and Judy looking at and commenting on something. On this version I could hear, “Look at this,” “Ewww,” from the girls. Never had I heard that dialogue before. You also have two other audio options—the 2.0 original DTS-HD track and a new 2.0 DTS-HD track.
There are subtitles; English only.

Now we come to the extra features and this new edition is loaded. The crème of the crop is the 1 hour, 11 minutes and 31 second documentary titled, “You’re Invited”—The Making Of Night Of The Demons. From idea to release, this doc chronicles it all. You even get interviews with the two artists who did the animation for the opening credits. Some of the info is reiterated from what gets conveyed by Tenney in the two commentaries, but for the most part it’s all new stuff you’ll learn. The only two actors that couldn’t be part of the doc, for whatever reason, are the ones who played Frannie and Max.

You get two commentaries. The old one from the Anchor Bay DVD has been ported over, which has director Kevin Tenney, Executive Producer Walter Josten and Producer Jeff Geoffray and a new one made especially for this combo, which has Director Kevin Tenney and cast members, Hal Havin, Cathy Podewell, Billy Gallo and FX Artist Steve Johnson.

‘Interview With Amelia Kinkade’ (22:31)—Recorded in South Africa, this was broken apart and inserted into the doc. This here is the whole thing cut together with a few new tidbits that were not shown.

‘Allison Barron’s Demon Memories’ (3:56)—Allison narrates a slide show of some of her personal photos taken during production.

You also get a Theatrical Trailer, a Video Trailer, some TV Spots, a Radio Spot and a Promo Reel (4:11). Watching the TV spots again made me think I may have actually seen them when the movie was coming out. And rounding out the extras are 344 behind-the-scenes photographs, most if not all I have never seen before. They are spread out among four different slideshow featuretets: Behind The Scenes Gallery (9:22), Special Effects And Make-Up (8:42), Photo Gallery (8:37) and Posters And Storyboards (1:27).

In a nutshell I declare this new combo to be the definitive edition of Night Of The Demons (1988). What are you waiting for? Get your ass onto the net and buy it!

Review: KNIGHT OF THE DEAD (2013)

maxresdefaultKNIGHT OF THE DEAD (2013)

Personally I think zombie movies are suffering from over exposure. Everyone and their brother are making them. I can kind of understand why. They are one of the easiest movie monsters to create on a low budget. All you need is a human being and make-up that makes him or her look recently dead. So, it takes something really unique or unusual to get me to watch a zombie movie these days, which brings me to why you’re reading a review I did on the latest walking dead flick cleverly titled, Knight Of The Dead.

I’ve seen zombie movies done in the desert, in the old west and even during the civil war, but I can’t recall one that was ever done in medieval times like this one is. Plus, I used to be heavy into Dungeons And Dragons when I was in high school and because of that any kind of medieval setting I see in movies always brings to mind that role playing game. While watching the trailer for this movie I kept thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if someone actually did a zombie movie in the Dungeons And Dragons realm with D&D characters?

Until that becomes a reality I decided to satiate that desire with this particular flick, unfortunately, though, it failed to quell that need.

During the Black Death, a band of swordsmen are charged with escorting a priest through treacherous lands as he attempts to take the Holy Grail to men more learned than he. Along the way members of the band attempt to rescue a woman who’s being accosted. They kill the perp, but in so doing incur the wrath of the group of assassins he was a part of and the leader takes some of his men on the hunt for them.

The priest and his escorts take a short cut into this valley but soon learn only the walking dead populates it. They encounter a woman, what appears to be the only non-zombie in the valley, and she strikes a bargain with them. She’ll show them the way out if they take her with them. They agree and the fight is on. Survive or die at the hands of the living dead.

I will give the movie props for shooting in real locations (no green screen landscapes here), using authentic garb and making the actors in general look as grungy as you’d expect someone to look living in medieval times. Color has been sucked out of the print too, giving it an almost black and white palette and making the movie appear even grimmer. The FX for the zombies, however, is as simple as I expected them to be for this low-budget fare. They’re all recently dead looking. Gore is present but nowhere near Tom Savini-levels. CGI is kept to a bare minimum but is present nevertheless in occasional blood spurts and a vertical cleaving in half of one of the walkers. A brief landscape shot of a ton of walkers is most likely CGI/green screen, too.
The entire flick clocks in at an hour and eighteen minutes only.

Aside from being a rather nice-looking movie the story, the zombies and the characters failed to pull me in at any level.

Overseas you can get this movie on DVD and blu-ray. For it’s US debut from Inception Media Group it’s available on DVD only. The 1.78:1 transfer looks sharp and the English 5.1 stereo track is, too. There are no subtitles and no extra features.

Bluray Review: ZOMBIE NIGHT (2013)

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Zombies are my least favorite movie monsters. They always have been. Having said that I will also admit I do own a small collection of their movies: Return Of The Living Dead (1985), Night Of The Living Dead (1990), Dawn of The Dead (2004), Dead And Buried (1981), Resident Evil (2002), and the pseudo-zombie flick, Planet Terror (2007).

And now Feast trilogy director, John Gulager, adds his two cents to the sub-genre with Zombie Night. He doesn’t attempt to redefine it other than tweaking the myth ever so slightly with the idea that once daylight comes the walking dead return to their normal, inert, non-malicious state; personally I thought it was a nice slice of, or more precisely a nice ‘night in the lives of’ that chronicles two families desperately trying to keep themselves alive, and in one piece, over the period of a single night as corpses begin returning to life and feeding on the flesh of the living.

The movie begins precisely at sundown and ends precisely at sun-up. One family led by Joseph, (Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the series, Spin City) are all together at their house. He has a wife named, Karin (Jennifer Taylor) a teenage son named, Perry (Daniel Ross Owens), and a younger child by the name of Nathan (Gibson Bobby Sjobeck). They have a panic room and Joseph simply cannot get his eldest son to join them in it because he told his girlfriend he’d wait for her downstairs until she showed up.

The second family led by Patrick Jackson (Anthony Michael Hall from Weird Science, National Lampoon’s Vacation) is, unfortunately, split up. His wife, Birdie (Daryl Hannah from Splash and Memoirs Of An Invisible Man fame) and Birdie’s blind mother, “Nana” (Shirley Jones from The Partridge Family) is home waiting for Patrick and their daughter, Tracie (Rachel G. Fox) and Tracie’s friend, Rachel (Meg Rutenberg), to return. They’re all in a car coming home from some unknown destination and on the cusp of learning the dead have risen.

The big plan is for all of them to hole up in Joseph’s panic room, but as is the case with all “big plans” monkey wrenches are bound to find their way into them, and in this case those wrenches inevitably lead to tragedy.

Along with the two families the movie breaks away for a few scenes to follow the exploits of a local cop who has a pretty rough time of it as he fends off the ambulatory corpses and in the process—SPOLIER—gets a little girl killed. In this film, the bite of a zombie does not turn you, only death in it’s many forms will convert you harking back to Romero’s original, if I recall. And now this poor, zombiefied, little girl must be dealt with in the harshest of manners.

Gulager’s real-life main squeeze, Diane Ayala Goldner, makes a cameo as doomed Officer Johnson and I’m almost sure Gulager’s father, Clu, makes a cameo, too. There’s a very brief close-up of a zombie who bears an awful resemblance to the man.

The movie has its ups and downs, moments where I lost interest and moments where it grabbed me again, but there were enough moments of being grabbed that I found myself enjoying the flick as a whole. Of course my opinion may be in the extreme minority. I have yet to read a review lately that gives it a thumbs up. It reminds me of Brian Yuzna’s Amphibious: Creature Of The Deep (2010). I loved that movie despite all the bad reviews I had read.

There was also a moment where I finally realized Anthony Michael Hall was in it. I had only vaguely paid attention to the opening credits and at about the 40-minute mark, I said to myself, “Holy shit, that’s Anthony Michael Hall!” And then remembered he was supposed to be in it.

All the zombie FX is practical with only a smidge of CGI thrown in (i.e. a sword kill, some spurts of blood, a car explosion at the end which gets augmented by computer). There was only one effect I thought that didn’t work and it involved a legless zombie that shimmies up the back of Tracie’s friend. First off his weight alone should have driven the girl to the ground and secondly the cable effect made him look more like he was levitating.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed John Gulager’s fifth movie and obviously it ends in such a way you could conceivably do a sequel. I wouldn’t mind seeing one as long as he directs it.

This originally debuted on the SyFy channel back in October and it hit DVD and Blu-Ray separately courtesy of The Asylum Entertainment early in December. It says ‘Unrated Version’ on the top of the cases, and there does seem to be some subtle gore additions, like holding longer on a gore effect.

The what I assume is the 1080p high definition 1.78:1 transfer is a hell of a lot better looking than the SyFy airing. Audio options are 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio only. No subtitles. Extra features consist of The Making Of Zombie Night (7:25) and a Gag Reel (1:02).

BluRay Review: CAT PEOPLE (1982)

61776_frontCAT PEOPLE (1982)

I loved the early 80’s for many reasons, one of which is that’s when my family first got cable and now I was swimming with the big boys. There was an elite group of kids I went to school with who had it already and now I could participate in whatever random movie conversations that might pop up. Hell, I could even start one if I wanted to.
“Hey, any of you guy’s catch Cat People last night?”

I can never remember exactly when we got cable, only that it was early 80s. I do, however, remember when Cat People was on. I’m almost certain Spotlight aired it. That was the other cable channel we had with HBO. And on Spotlight, at the end of each month, they used to run a show that would spotlight the movies coming the following month. One of them was Cat People and I remember it was an August movie. I know this because school was in September and back then going to school just made me anxious. The scene that always showed on that coming attractions show was Kinski doing that flip over the balcony.

My mother used to have the same tastes in movies as I did, so she and I used to watch a lot of them together, this, however, became somewhat problematic when something like Cat People was on. It’s an erotic horror movie, emphasis on the word ‘erotic.’ But that viewing with her was only slightly uncomfortable compared to the Body Heat (1981) one I accidentally took in with her. Enough said on that subject.

Two things burned bright in my memory after I saw Paul Schrader’s movie—Nastassja Kinski, for obvious reasons, and Malcolm McDowell. This was the first time I had seen McDowell and his acting and that character he played were mesmerizing. I found him sort of cool, even though I knew he was basically the “bad guy.”

We had a couch in the living room where I used to try and mimic that preternatural cat leap he makes in that scene where he creeps into Kinski’s bedroom while she’s sleeping and watches her after leaping up onto the edge of the bed. At first my leaping onto the armrest of that couch resulted in a face smash into the cushion but after many tries I was able to get up on it, perched there like McDowell.

It goes without saying McDowell’s best scenes are those with Kinski, and I also remember pretending to smash through a glass door window, copying that later scene where he confronts Kinski again. The black, leather coat was a cool touch that always got my interest, too.

Schrader’s movie is a remake of Val Lewton’s 1942 flick of the same name, but Schrader turns his version into an erotic horror film, or an erotic dark fantasy. Take your choice. Both descriptions work. Here the mythology of the cat people involves using sex as a triggering mechanism that allows the cat person to physically transform into a panther, and to get back to human form killing is that secondary mechanism. Irena Gallier (Nastassja Kinski) knows nothing of these rules, or even of their existence, when the movie starts out. She grew up in foster care and has only recently found her brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell), coming to New Orleans to reconnect with him.

Paul, though, has ulterior motives. Irena is a virgin so has yet to get in touch with her “cat” side. Paul’s been in touch with his for years and has been killing hookers in the area for just as long, partially eating them. He wants a mate, and is under the belief (rightly so) that their kind can only be with one another. Anything else generally results in bloodshed and death, mostly for the human they’ve just sexed up.

A slight digression, I had never heard of the word, ‘incestuous,’ until this movie. I also recall turning to mother and asking her what he meant when McDowell says it in that dream sequence.

While Paul tries to work his “persuasive charms” on Irena in key scenes throughout the film, failing miserably I might add, Irena starts falling for Oliver Yates (John Heard), the curator of a local zoo, who’s ex-girlfriend, Alice (Annette O’Toole), works with him. Her sexual cat person awakening is at hand now, and she still manages to resist her brother’s advances. He on the other hand kills a random chick he picks up in a graveyard, tries to kill Lynn Lowery (The Crazies, They Came From Within) in a short scene; manages to get himself caught and imprisoned in Oliver’s zoo; tears off Ed Begley, jr’s arm, and ultimate decides once and for all to put an end to his sisters reticence to have sex with him by trying to finally kill Oliver.

Paul Schrader’s direction, Giorgio Moroder’s music, Tom Burman’s FX, Albert Whitlock’s stunning matte paintings and John Bailey’s cinematography, along with Kinski’s body, and McDowell’s cool ass performance, all of it jacked me up like some kind of ethereal drug. It’s up there with Lifeforce (1985) and The Beast Within (1982) as being a film that was never ripped off, or remade, thus ensuring its unique purity remained alive in all our memories.

Cat People was first made available on DVD back in the early days of the format (1997) from Image Entertainment in one of those now obsolete snapper cases. It got a new release in 2002 with a special edition that had a better transfer, a bunch of extras and a commentary. It now finally gets the blu-ray treatment from Shout! Factory’s horror sub-label, Scream Factory, with a breathtaking 1080p 1.85:1 high definition anamorphic transfer! Just gorgeous!

Audio options you get are a 5.1 DTS-HD and 2.0 DTS-HD tracks. There are English subtitles available for this release, too. Aside from the Theatrical Trailer, a TV Spot, a Photo Gallery and Production Art And Posters you get up-to-date interviews with the Cast & Crew (Kinski, McDowell, Heard, O’Toole, Lowery, composer Moroder and director Schrader). Ed Begley, jr. was the only one not included. None of the extras, or the commentary, from the 2002 special edition was ported over, so I recommend if you have it you’ll want to hang on to it.

On a final note the custom artwork by Justin Osbourn is the cat’s meow!

Review: NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR (2013)

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I never heard of Scott Adkins until the 2012 movie, Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning. I never saw the movie (took in the trailer though) and only noticed Adkins when one of the forums I frequent started a thread on the movie saying it was pretty good. Most of the reviews I read after that concurred.

The first movie I watched with Adkins was The Expendables 2 (2012) where he played a despicable second in command bad guy to Van Damme’s main villain. One I was glad to watch die at the hands of Jason Statham.

Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear is the official credits title, even though it is a sequel to Adkins’ 2009 movie, Ninja, the II only exists on the DVD and blu-ray cover. And there are no opening credits; they are mixed in with the end credits. Pet peeve of mine, I actually like opening credits and am not a big fan of them when they appear after the movie is over.

Adkins is a hell of martial artist whose moves reminded me of Jackie Chan. Here he’s reprising his Casey Bowman character, living in Japan, teaching his martial arts and preparing to have a baby with his fiancé, Namiko Takeda (Mika Hijii), also reprising her role from the first film. One night while he’s out at a local market getting Namiko food to satiate her pregnant cravings someone breaks into their home and kills her. He naturally suspects the two punks who tried to rob him earlier that day and hunts them down and kills them.

He then heads on down to a martial arts retreat owned by his friend, Nakabara (Kane Kosugi) to try and get some closure on Namiko’s death, to work out his anger and grief, but it just doesn’t work. In the meantime, someone ends up killing a student there in the same fashion as his wife’s. Nakabara then fills him in on some kind of blood feud/revenge thing this man Goro had planned since he was a child, Casey’s father was on that list and apparently anyone related to the man is being murdered. Now, Casey has a new mission, get his ass to Burma to confront this now drug kingpin and get his own revenge.
A nice twist at the end reveals something more . . .

Not a bad movie. The action scenes are certainly breathtaking and violent. Oddly, though, the gore is incredibly restrained despite the R-rating. Not something I normally complain about, its just here there is a few slit throats and even a beheading at the end, which for the type of strength used the slit throats are very minor cuts, shed little blood but create death nonetheless; the decapitation has no blood spurting at all.

The movie itself reminded me of Chuck Norris’ Forced Vengeance (1982) and a little bit of American Ninja (1985). I have to admit I was slightly disappointed in it. Even though it’s a nice homage to those martial art films of the 80s, I was hoping for more ninja action, some ninja-on-ninja action actually, which there was none, just lone ninja Casey, who finally suits up at the end. It was infinitely better than Ninja Assassin (2009) which made them far too comic bookish. While I still wait for a closer homage to those ninja films Sho Kosugi did back in the 80s, this will have to do.

Millennium Films releases the movie on DVD and Blu-ray separately with a 1080p high definition 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer in blu that looks very good. The English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD is good, too. You can also choose an English 2.0 Stereo if you like.

The extra features consist of a general Featurette (7:15), a Cast And Crew Interviews (12:36) and a Behind-The-Scenes (5:23) featurette. The first two repeat a lot of information and up to now I had no idea Adkins was British. His American accent is flawless. And the last extra is just footage of the crew filming scenes and prepping shots.

Extras are carried over to the standard DVD.



I still have memories from really early in childhood. I think my earliest memory is from when I was like 2 or 3. There’s this one photo I have of my grandfather, on my mother’s side, sitting on the couch holding me as a baby. I remember that moment exactly. And my earliest memory of seeing any kind of movie, or anything movie related, was the trailer for The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.

Let’s see I was 4 when the movie came out at the theater and that’s probably when I saw this really bizarre trailer on TV one afternoon that fascinated me. It was the stop motion monsters that nabbed my attention. Of course being 4 at the time, and for years after, I always had this memory of seeing the commercial of some movie about this ship on the high seas in a storm with some guy tied to a mast as stop motion monsters fought each other around him. That was how my 4-year-old brain interpreted the trailer.

I think I finally saw the movie on TV one night many years later and finally realizing this was that commercial I saw way back when I was 4.

Personally, I think, those Greek mythology movies (Jason & The Argonauts, The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger and Clash Of The Titans) were some of the best ones he ever made, and the best of those 3 Sinbad movies is his Golden Voyage. It’s got the best cast, the best characters, the best storyline and some of the best mythological monsters. And it’s got the best actor, John Phillip Law, playing Sinbad; the most believable in my opinion.

In this movie Sinbad (Law) is pitted against Prince Koura, an evil sorcerer played to perfection by Tom Baker. As I understand it this is the movie that helped get Baker his Doctor Who role. Both are in a race to reach the mythical island of Lemuria where a tablet that’s been broken into 3 pieces will give the possessor untold riches and powers once assembled. Sinbad acquires two pieces, while the third is buried with a six-armed statue of the Goddess, Kali, the natives pray too.

Koura, however, is clever and manages to keep up with Sinbad and his riddle solving of the tablet by throwing his black magic at him and his crew, which takes the form of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion magic; a homunculus Koura uses to spy on him at various points in the voyage, he then brings to life the figurehead on Sinbad’s ship to steal the map he just made, and then once they are on Lemuria he brings to life that aforementioned six-armed statue to kill Sinbad and his men, which results in one of the best humans-vs-a-stop-motion-monster battles Harryhausen ever created. I think it even tops the end battle in Jason And The Argonauts where Jason and three of his men take on a horde of animated skeletons.

To top it all off we get the traditional monster battle Harryhausen likes to put in his Sinbad movies where two mythological monsters battle to the death. In the 7th Voyage it was a giant Cyclops and a dragon, in Eye Of The Tiger it was a troglodyte and a saber-tooth tiger and in the Golden Voyage it’s a one-eyed centaur and a griffin.

All the monsters aside the second thing this movie is memorable for is the slave girl character, Margiana, played by the ravishing Caroline Munro (Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, At The Earth’s Core) who spends the entire running time of the movie decked out in skimpy clothing.

Twilight Time finally brings out The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad on blu-ray and the restoration Sony did to it is nothing less than stunning. Sony’s 2001 DVD was formatted at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the ratio stated on the back of this new blu also says 1.85:1, but the movie is cropped on the left and right a little bit. IMDB says the correct ratio is 1.66:1, so I’m going to assume this new blu has been formatted at that ratio and the 1.85:1 on the back cover is a misprint.

The audio—English 5.1 DTS-HD—is also much better than it’s standard DVD counterpart, which incidentally is still in circulation. I believe all the standard DVDs of Harryhausen’s Greek Myth movies are also still in circulation.

Extras ported over from that 2001 DVD are all three featurettes for The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver, Mysterious Island and Earth Vs The Flying Saucers, and the original theatrical trailer. The only new feature added is the Isolated Score, which is a requisite for all Sony blu-rays being distributed through Twilight Time.
Subtitles are in English only.

Twilight Time is a boutique label that presses only 3,000 units of any title they release. As of this writing both The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad and Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger are still available to buy. You can only buy Twilight Time discs from two sites—Screen Archives Entertainment and

Review: MAN OF TAI CHI (2013)


Show of hands, how many of you have felt compelled in one-way or another to “take a walk on the dark side?” Yes, I know that’s a very sanitized way of asking if anyone has ever felt compelled to chuck their morals aside for a little while, but haven’t we all at some point in time felt the pull to do something wrong, or at the very least had a dream or a nightmare or two of being “morally fucked up?”
Sure, we have.

Some of us have dipped our toes into that dark pool while others have dove right in and seen themselves on the eleven o’clock news for some kind of heinous act they have just committed.

I feel some people are more genetically predisposed to feel some kind of attraction to the “darkside” than others; more aptly put there are some who have a spiritual weakness that makes them unable to resist the urge to do bad or in the extreme Evil.

On one level Man Of Tai Chi is the tale of a good person (Tiger Chen) who has a moment of spiritual weakness, while simultaneously it’s also a tale of how a “morally corrupted” individual (Keanu Reeves) goes about satisfying his yen for power (without control) in an absolutely insidious way, a way that sheds some scary light on how nihilistic our society is becoming.

In the opening we get a glimpse of this movie’s darkside as two combatants square off in a room. One combatant beats the other within an inch of his life, but refuses to take the whole nine yards and kill him. A man dressed in black and wearing a black mask comes in and breaks the unconscious combatants neck killing him on the spot. Next we are introduced to Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) who calmly saunters into the locker room of the surviving combatant and knifes him to death.

Now he needs a new fighter.

Mark has the innate ability to pick the right person for this underground fight club he runs.

Tiger Chen plays Tiger Chen, a Tai Chi student who has developed his own style of Tai Chi and who learns from his Master Yang in a 600-year old Temple. He also competes in tournaments, which is unusual since the general conception of Tai Chi is that it’s an art used for mediation. He’s very good at using the art for combat purposes too, which is how he initially grabs Mark’s attention.

On the surface the plot is similar to Bloodsport (1988) and Fight Club (1999), but below the surface, as I hinted at earlier, it’s something insidious, one component of that involves setting up hidden cameras in Chen’s home, at his work, in the temple he trains, etc. He is watched 24/7 after he’s lured into Mark’s employ, and it becomes obvious upon their first meeting that he was “hired” for his fighting skills. Skills that get better the more he is offered the opportunity to test them in situations that don’t involve any kind of rules (or control).

Mark has done his job almost to well, and Chen becomes a formidable Frankenstein creation that he must contend with at the end of the movie.
“I knew you had it in you.”
For Chen it’s time to look into the mirror of his new face and what he sees he instantly despises.
“I am nothing.”
Chen vs. Reeves.
Good vs. Evil
Power vs. Control
Place your bets.
Reeves directed this movie and he made the fight scenes into how martial art fight scenes used to be back in the 70s and 80s. Simply watching two realistically trained martial artists fight each other. There is some wirework, but that’s only 1% of the fight scenes.

If there’s a weak link in this movie, it’s not Reeves directorial skills, those are impressive, it’s his participation as an actor. I know he can act, relatively, I’ve seen evidence of it in his other movies but his performance here is a truly robotic one punctuated by a couple of “emotional outbursts,” (i.e. a random smile and a random scream as he looks deep into the camera lens). If there was some weird, bizarre, out of left field twist that reveals Reeves to be an android or something then this performance would makes perfect sense, but there isn’t. However, this in no way detracts enough to pull you out of the movie. I mean he is the bad guy, so an odd performance like this does kind of makes sense.

You also have to suspend your disbelief somewhat when Chen and Reeves face off in the end, especially when Reeves actually manages to kick his ass for a little while. It’s obvious his fighting skill is no match for Chen’s from what we’ve seen from him in the rest of the movie. But, again, it’s not to the point where it’ll make you scoff and want to turn the movie off. By this point in the film you will be so immersed into what’s happening to Chen you’ll want to see Reeves get his comeuppance and Chen get his morality back on track.

The movie is multilingual with English only coming in whenever Reeves enters the story.

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p anamorphic 2.40:1 high definition—English, Cantonese, Mandarin with English subtitles (DTS-HD 5.1)—Spanish subtitles
As for extras there are only two: a commentary and a featurette. Concerning the commentary, which is with director/co-star, Keanu Reeves and star Tiger Chen, it’s one of the worst I’ve had to sit through. If you agree to do one of these the object here is to talk about the movie, about how you made it, about why you made it, about the story, the actors, the shots, anything. Reeves and Chen barely say a thing. If I didn’t know any better I’d say they didn’t want to do a commentary but were forced into it.

With ‘The Making Of Man Of Tai Chi’ (7:52) you learn more about the movie than in the entire commentary and wonder of wonders Reeves actually speaks with passion about the movie he directed.

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