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article imageReview: Everyone does things a little differently in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 30, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an innovative take on the zombie movie; a cartoon about a strange family; a movie inspired by a fantastic book; and a variety of John Carpenter’s pictures.
Beyond Re-Animator (Blu-ray)
Vestron Video
After causing the Miskatonic University Massacre, Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) has been serving a prison sentence for the past 14 years. When Howard Phillips (Jason Barry), a new young doctor, comes to work as the prison MD and requests Dr. West’s assistance, Dr. West discovers that Howard has something he left behind 14 years ago.
The longer this franchise continued, the goofier it became, for which it compensated with more blood and gore. In spite of his limited resources, West is still carrying on his experiments from behind bars, though Howard’s appearance significantly improves his makeshift lab. Howard’s motives for seeking out West are understandable, but completely misguided. He doesn’t really understand what he’s unleashed by reuniting West with his secret formula, until the prison is overrun with hideous monsters and a sadistic warden who relishes his new reality. This movie’s returned dead aren’t as creatively impressive as some of its predecessors, but it certainly fits with the rest of the series.
Special features include: commentary by director Brian Yuzna; isolated score selections & audio interview with composer Xavier Capellas; ““Beyond & Back”; “Death Row Sideshow”; “Six Shots By Midnight”; production art gallery by illustrator Richard Raaphorst; “Dr. Reanimator — Move Your Dead Bones” music video; vintage EPK featurette; still gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Vestron Video)
The Cured (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
What happens when the undead return to life? In a world ravaged for years by a virus that turns the infected into zombie-like cannibals, a cure is at last found and the wrenching process of reintegrating the survivors back into society begins. Among the formerly afflicted is Senan (Sam Keeley), a young man haunted by the horrific acts he committed while infected. Welcomed back into the family of his widowed sister-in-law and journalist, Abbie (Ellen Page), Senan attempts to restart his life — but is society ready to forgive him and those like him? Or will fear and prejudice once again tear the world apart?
Each year brings dozens of new zombie movies trading on the same shtick repeated countless times over the years… and each year there are one or two pictures that standout for bringing something new to the table. This Irish drama is one of the latter. In this instance, scientists synthesize a cure for the monstrous virus that works for 75 per cent of the infected population and prevents it from decimating the human race. Reintroducing them into society via menial jobs is difficult for the healed and uninfected as their perceptions of each other and themselves has been vastly altered. Moreover, the fate of the remaining untreated 25 per cent is in flux. As the anti- and pro-cured movements gain momentum, Abbie, Senan and a doctor (Paula Malcomson) try to keep the warring sides in check. The blood is reserved for the final act, but before that the picture asks some interesting questions about the challenges in such a situation — how would these formerly rabid killers be reintegrated into society? — as well as creates parallels with the Troubles of Northern Ireland.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Gravity Falls: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
Twin brother and sister Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to the small town of Gravity Falls, Oregon to spend their summer vacation with their great uncle ("Grunkle") Stan. Upon arrival, Grunkle Stan enlists the siblings' help in running The Mystery Shack, a self-owned tourist trap that overcharges unsuspecting customers. While Dipper has a hard time getting used to his new surroundings, Mabel's upbeat optimism comes in handy in her quest to find true love. But there may be more to Gravity Falls than meets the eye as Dipper and Mabel encounter strange occurrences and weird creatures. When Dipper stumbles upon an elusive book, he discovers it is the answer to uncovering the town's mysterious happenings. Soon, Dipper and Mabel realize they must rely on each other to navigate this unfamiliar place. Meanwhile, Grunkle Stan guards a secret of his own — one that just might hold the key to unlocking the deeper mystery that is Gravity Falls.
In only two seasons, these kids manage to squeeze a lot of adventure into their summer vacation. From zombies driven by more than just a need for brains to ghosts tagging along and trying to sabotage their quest, these twins see it all over the course of their visit. Grunkle Stan is a bit of a curmudgeon, but he clearly cares for the Pines children and wants them to be safe, which isn’t always easy in this town. Luckily, Dipper and Mabel can almost always count on each other to get out of sticky situations and solve strange puzzles together. Things are, of course, a little more complicated as Stan harbours his own secret mystery that he’s been trying to crack for years. This is one of those animated series that feels like it’s directed at “mature audiences,” even though it includes minimal cursing and violence.
Special features include: commentaries on all 40 episodes with creator Alex Hirsch and members of the cast and crew; deleted scenes; “One Crazy Summer"; "The Hirsch Twins"; "Between The Pines"; “Shorts,” interstitial programming between seasons 1 and 2; and promos. (Shout Factory)
In the Mouth of Madness (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) is the best-selling author whose newest novel is literally driving readers insane. When he inexplicably vanishes, his publisher (Charlton Heston) sends special investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) to track him down. Drawn to a town that exists only in Cane's books, Trent crosses the barrier between fact and fiction and enters a terrifying world from which there is no escape.
Director John Carpenter wants viewers to constantly question reality in this picture. While the narrative appears to begin IRL, even that is later made suspect. The devotion — and fanaticism — of Cane’s admirers is increasingly disturbing as it doesn’t just stop at bookstores. Trent is an expert at debunking frauds, but impersonators are the least of his worries when they arrive at a fictional town in Cane’s books. Things quickly go from weird to weirder as even the slightest detail of the town is just as Cane described. The film does an excellent job interweaving the outrageous, implausible and realistic to keep Trent and viewers on their toes for the duration of the film. Neill does an excellent job reacting to this bizarre world created by special effects legend Greg Nicotero.
Special features include: commentary by director John Carpenter and producer Sandy King Carpenter; commentary by director John Carpenter and cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe ; making-of featurette; “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds”; “The Whisperer Of The Dark”; “Greg Nicotero’s Things In The Basement”; “Home Movies From Hobb’s End”; TV spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Just a quick nap and weary stock analyst Nick Halloway (Chevy Chase) is sure he'll emerge as good as new. Instead, he wakes up as good as gone. Vanished. A nuclear accident has made Nick ... invisible! Invisibility makes it easier to spy on the agents (particularly chief adversary played by Sam Neill) who've put him in this predicament. And he can romance a lovely documentary producer (Daryl Hannah) in a way she's never "seen" before.
Chase has generally relied on his physical presence to deliver his typically comedic performances, but this time that element is largely removed from his arsenal. Now, he’s often just a floating voice, charming his love interest and teasing his would-be captors. However, the innovative visual effects produced by Industrial Light and Magic allow for Nick to only partially appear on screen or most impressively become somewhat visible in a rainfall. Director John Carpenter proves surprisingly versed in the romantic comedy genre with a little supernatural thrown in for good measure. This is still an amusing picture thanks to Chase’s timeless performance and the still impressive special effects.
Special features include: “How To Become Invisible: The Dawn Of Digital F/X”; interviews with director John Carpenter and actors Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah; behind-the-scenes footage; outtakes; TV spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Operation Red Sea (Blu-ray)
Well Go USA
When a terrorist plot to obtain nuclear materials is hidden under the cover of a violent coup, only the Chinese Navy's elite Jiaolong (Sea Dragon) Assault Team have the deadly skill and precision needed to take on the situation.
The film starts with a covert operation that demonstrates the team’s skills as they work together as a highly disciplined unit to achieve their objective and return safely. When they’re dispatched to rescue the Chinese citizens trapped in the midst of a violent coup, they’re severely outnumbered and faced with armed combatants who do not play by the rules. This high-intensity war picture is constantly moving as stealth manoeuvres are unexpectedly switched to firefights and plans to extract the hostages constantly go awry. This movie is on par with the Western pictures of a similar nature, measuring up to the better films in the genre and keeping audiences engaged from beginning to end.
There are no special features. (Well Go USA)
Ready Player One (3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray & Digital copy) (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place. The only time Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spend their days. In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone — the only limits are your own imagination. The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who left his immense fortune and total control of the OASIS to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends — known as the High Five — are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS and their world.
As Van Halen’s “Jump” blares from the speakers and the camera moves into “The Stacks,” where Wade is getting ready to plug in as Parzival, fans of the novel will think, “Yes! This is exactly what I imagined.” But the next scene and the one after that aren’t exactly accurate… but that’s okay. And then they get to the race for the first key — and you realize this is a movie based on Ernest Cline’s book, not an adaptation. For various reasons, including the innumerable licenses required and the incredible detail of the novel, an exact book-to-screen adaptation was never feasible. But it took a lot of insight to alter the narrative as much as they have, yet still satisfy fans of Cline’s source material. It’s been a while since director Steven Spielberg ventured into the realm of sci-fi, but having been at the centre of some of the ‘80s’ most iconic movies has readily prepared him to create this world that seamlessly blends the past and future.
Special features include: “Game Changer: Cracking the Code”; “Effects for a Brave New World”; “Level Up: Sound for the Future”; “High Score: Endgame”; “Ernie & Tye's Excellent Adventure”; and “The '80’s: You’re The Inspiration.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Someone is Watching (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
The horror starts at the moment Leigh (Lauren Hutton) is framed in the lens of a telescope. For Leigh, it's the beginning of terrors that escalate from anonymous calls and gifts to lights that mysteriously flicker to prove that someone watches every moment of her life. Leigh fights back, matching her tormentor's obsession with her own relentless drive to uncover his identity. The prey is now predator — and that escalates the stalker's game to a deadly new level.
This begins as a very disturbing story of an obsessive and dangerous stalker who immediately begins to infiltrate Leigh’s life. She’s the definition of an independent woman, thwarting the unwanted advances of several men and picking up a man at a bar that she does find interesting. When the phone calls begin, she brushes it off; then she seeks help from her friends, followed by the police. When the feeling of being constantly unsafe becomes overwhelming, she takes matters into her own hands. This changes the tone of the movie somewhat, which is a credit to director John Carpenter’s storytelling ability. Unfortunately, the ending leaves something to be desired.
Special features include: commentary with author Amanda Reyes (Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999); “Adrienne Barbeau: Looking Back At Someone’s Watching Me”; “Carpenter’s Enforcer”; “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds”; “John Carpenter: Director Rising”; still gallery; and TV promo. (Scream Factory)
More about Ready Player One, Operation Red Sea, The Cured, Gravity Falls, Beyond ReAnimator
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