Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blu-ray Review: "Chopping Mall"


The first time I saw "Chopping Mall" was at a screening of the film at Texas Frightmare Weekend. Director / Writer Jim Wynorski and actor Kelli Maroney were in attendance and answered questions from the audience. It was a great experience and exciting to see the 1980s cult classic on the big screen.


The movie was recently released on Blu-ray for the first time through Lionsgate's Vestron Video Collector's Edition line. This gave me the perfect opportunity to re-visit it and see how it fared on a second viewing. "Chopping Mall" is just as glorious in all its 1980s charm and cheese at home in HD.


Filmmakers took what could have been a typical slasher film and turns it on its head. They introduce us to characters who don't just wait around to get hacked up, but actually react proactively by fighting back. Couple that with three totally awesome killer robots (or Killbots, as it was originally titled) and quite possibly the greatest head explosion ever caught on film and you have must-see B-movie gold.


Partying teenagers get trapped in a high-tech mall overnight. They must find a way out before three malfunctioning security robots destroy them in "Chopping Mall".


Special features for the Blu-ray edition of "Chopping Mall" include audio commentaries from Director / Co-Writer Jim Wynorski, Actress Kelli Maroney, Co-Writer / 2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell, Historians / Authors Nathaniel Thompson (Mondo Video) and Ryan Turek (Shock Till You Drop). Featurettes include “Back to the Mall”, “Chopping 'Chopping Mall'”, “The Killbots”, “Scoring 'Chopping Mall'”, “The Robot Speaks”, “The Lost Scene”, “Army of One”, and “'Chopping Mall': Creating the Killbots”. A trailer and isolated score by Chuck Cirino is also found.


"Chopping Mall" is rated R for violence and gore, profanity, sexual situations, nudity, drinking and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes.

"Chopping Mall" is available now on Blu-ray.

Blu-ray Review: "Chopping Mall"


The first time I saw "Chopping Mall" was at a screening of the film at Texas Frightmare Weekend. Director / Writer Jim Wynorski and actor Kelli Maroney were in attendance and answered questions from the audience. It was a great experience and exciting to see the 1980s cult classic on the big screen.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

TV Review: "Star Wars Rebels" Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2 - "Steps Into Shadow"


"Star Wars Rebels" continues to carry us into the territory explored in the original trilogy. Y-Wings seem to be all the rage right now and how the Rebellion gets these ships soon to be seen in "Rogue One" is answered in these exciting first episodes. Ezra's advancement in the Force is, as the Emperor would say, "unnatural" and is very reminiscent of the impatience we see in both Anakin and Kylo Ren. The writers for the series deliver plenty of Easter eggs for diehard Star Warriors to enjoy as well.


Led by a more powerful Ezra (Taylor Gray), the rebels break an old friend out of prison to help acquire ships for the fleet. However, Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) discovers that Ezra's new skills come from a dark place in the first two episodes of season three entitled "Steps Into Shadow".

"Star Wars Rebels" is rated TVY7. It contains violence and frightening and intense scenes.

TV Review: "Star Wars Rebels" Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2 - "Steps Into Shadow"


"Star Wars Rebels" continues to carry us into the territory explored in the original trilogy. Y-Wings seem to be all the rage right now and how the Rebellion gets these ships soon to be seen in "Rogue One" is answered in these exciting first episodes. Ezra's advancement in the Force is, as the Emperor would say, "unnatural" and is very reminiscent of the impatience we see in both Anakin and Kylo Ren. The writers for the series deliver plenty of Easter eggs for diehard Star Warriors to enjoy as well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blu-Ray Review: "Beauty and the Beast" 25th Anniversary Edition


What can be said about “Beauty and the Beast” that hasn’t already been said? It’s one of the greatest animated adaptations in cinematic history and already a Disney classic. Everything about the movie exudes quality and beautiful craftsmanship. The musical numbers, the animation, and the vocal performances are top notch and unforgettable.


In "Beauty and the Beast", an arrogant young prince (Robby Benson) and his castle's servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress. She turns him into the hideous Beast until he learns to love and be loved in return. The spirited, headstrong village girl Belle (Paige O'Hara) enters the Beast's castle after he imprisons her father Maurice (Rex Everhart). With the help of his enchanted servants, including the matronly Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation.


The Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy version of "Beauty and the Beast" 25th Anniversary Edition contains three different versions of the movie. They are an Original Theatrical Edition, Special Extended Edition, and a Sing-Along version. Audio commentary for the Extended Edition is provided by Directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, Producer Don Hahn, and Composer Alan Menken. Song Selection is available on the Sing-Along Edition. Five featurettes take us behind the scenes of the movie. A sneak peek at the upcoming live-action "Beauty and the Beast" is included, as well as a Classic Bonus Preview that gives us information on what movies are available digitally.

"Beauty and the Beast" 25th Anniversary Edition is available now on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy.


Blu-Ray Review: "Beauty and the Beast" 25th Anniversary Edition


What can be said about “Beauty and the Beast” that hasn’t already been said? It’s one of the greatest animated adaptations in cinematic history and already a Disney classic. Everything about the movie exudes quality and beautiful craftsmanship. The musical numbers, the animation, and the vocal performances are top notch and unforgettable.

Blu-ray Review: "Sacrifice"


"Sacrifice" is a predictable murder mystery with great actors who deserve a better script. The story immediately reminded me of two much better films: "The Wicker Man" and "The Stepford Wives". I'll not deny that the location shooting and scenery did make the movie more tolerable to watch than it should have been. I just wish there was a surprise or two along the way to raise this movie above Straight-to-DVD or Netflix stature.


Shortly after surgeon Tora Hamilton (Radha Mitchell) moves with her husband (Rupert Graves) to the Shetland Islands – 100 miles off the coast of Scotland – she makes an unnerving discovery: the body of a young woman with strange symbols carved into her flesh and her heart ripped out. When what at first appears to be the remains of a victim of an ancient ritual turns out to be a fresh corpse, Tora is plunged into a dangerous mystery that may be connected to the dark myths of the island's folklore in "Sacrifice".

"Sacrifice" is unrated, but contains violence and gore, profanity, alcohol / drugs / smoking, and frightening and intense scenes.

"Sacrifice" is available now on Blu-ray + DVD Combo and Digital editions.


Blu-ray Review: "Sacrifice"


"Sacrifice" is a predictable murder mystery with great actors who deserve a better script. The story immediately reminded me of two much better films: "The Wicker Man" and "The Stepford Wives". I'll not deny that the location shooting and scenery did make the movie more tolerable to watch than it should have been. I just wish there was a surprise or two along the way to raise this movie above Straight-to-DVD or Netflix stature.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blu-ray Review: "The Conjuring 2"


James Wan proves to be the modern king of horror once again with "The Conjuring 2". He does a fine job blending together jump scares with a sense of buildup that captures the essence of both slow-burning classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist" and the new wave of sudden clanging and banging frights being released today. As a Christian, I also found it refreshing that the Warrens' religious beliefs weren't overlooked or dumbed down.

In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren come out of a self-imposed sabbatical to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor), an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter starts to show signs of demonic possession. As the Warrens try to help the besieged girl, they become the next targets of the malicious spirit in "The Conjuring 2".

"The Conjuring 2" is rated R for horror and terror violence.

The Blu-ray edition of “The Conjuring 2” contains "The Enfield Poltergeist: Living The Horror" featurette, "'The Conjuring 2': Hollywood’s Haunted Stage" featurette , "Creating Crooked" Featurette, "Crafting 'The Conjuring 2'" Featurette, "Sounds of Scary" Featurette, and deleted scenes.

“The Conjuring 2” is available now in Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital editions.


Blu-ray Review: "The Conjuring 2"


James Wan proves to be the modern king of horror once again with "The Conjuring 2". He does a fine job blending together jump scares with a sense of buildup that captures the essence of both slow-burning classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist" and the new wave of sudden clanging and banging frights being released today. As a Christian, I also found it refreshing that the Warrens' religious beliefs weren't overlooked or dumbed down.

Marvel and Disney Bring "Captain America: Civil War" Into Your Home


Disney and Marvel bring home “Captain America: Civil War” to Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download. Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo work from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It was adapted from the 2006 - 2007 comic book series written by Mark Millar (“Wanted”, “Kick-Ass”) and illustrated by Steven McNiven (Ultimate Secret, New Avengers). Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and the rest of the core members of the Avengers are joined by Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman portraying Black Panther.


In “Captain America: Civil War”, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.


Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do a great job taking comic book superheroes and melding them with social commentary. Much like “Captain America: Winter Soldier”, what we have here is an intricate political thriller. However, it’s also tangled up within the framework of a tale of revenge.


You would think with so many characters jammed into one movie, “Captain America: Civil War” would suffer from being spread too thin. Somehow that’s not the case here. Most of the characters have already been introduced in one form or another in their own films, making it alright for them to just to show up and do their thing. Even Black Panther’s rushed debut doesn’t feel abrupt like you might expect it would.


“Captain America: Civil War” is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem. Younger viewers might be upset seeing their favorite superheroes fighting each other. There’s also some profanity, including the use of g!@#amn.


Bonus material for the Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD edition of “Captain America: Civil War” is rather generous. “United We Stand, Divided We Fall -- The Making of ‘Captain America: Civil War’” is split into two parts that clock in around 22 to 23 minutes a piece. The featurettes "Captain America: The Road to Civil War" and "Iron Man: The Road to Civil War" give viewers insight into how each of the heroes arrived at their perspectives in the movie.


Audio commentary is provided by Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. There are also deleted and extended scenes and a gag reel included. A 4-minute sneak peek at “Doctor Strange” rounds out the special features.


The “Captain America” movies have always been some of my favorites from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thankfully, “Civil War” continues this trend for me. Although I would consider it to be more of an “Avengers” film, I understand why it’s considered a “Captain America” entry. The friendship and loyalty between Steve Rogers and Bucky are really the central focus when you think about. A great mix of humor, comic book action, and a complex storyline make “Captain America: Civil War” rise above the rest yet again.

“Captain America: Civil War” is available now on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.


Marvel and Disney Bring "Captain America: Civil War" Into Your Home


Disney and Marvel bring home “Captain America: Civil War” to Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download. Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo work from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It was adapted from the 2006 - 2007 comic book series written by Mark Millar (“Wanted”, “Kick-Ass”) and illustrated by Steven McNiven (Ultimate Secret, New Avengers). Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and the rest of the core members of the Avengers are joined by Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman portraying Black Panther.

"LEGO Star Wars: Freemaker Adventures S1" Coming on Blu-ray / DVD


Unleash the Lighter Side of the Force With the Action Packed Thrills of "LEGO® STAR WARS: The Freemaker Adventures Complete Season One"!

The Complete Season One on Blu-ray™ and DVD for the First Time on December 6, 2016

6 Exclusive Magnets Packed Inside Each Blu-ray and DVD!


Join the Freemakers in their spectacular first season of "LEGO Star Wars Adventures".

Get more info about this exciting new release after the jump!


Synopsis: Taking place between the events of "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi", these new adventures follow a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact – the Kyber Saber –he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and discover the strength of family. Relive all 13 action-packed episodes in "LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Season One".


Bonus Features: "The Freemaker Adventures: Meet the Freemaker Family" – Get to know the members of your favorite family of celestial scavengers – and meet the actors who bring them to life – in this fun collection of clips, behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews!

"Freemaker Salvage and Repair" - Visit the shop with the finest salvage in the galaxy as Rowan, Kordi and Zander take you on a tour of the family business.


Voice Cast: Nicolas Cantu (upcoming TV movie “Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie”) as Rowan; Vanessa Lengies (TV’s “Second Chance”) as Kordi; Eugene Byrd (TV’s “Bones) as Zander; Grey Griffin (Disney Channel’s “Miles from Tomorrowland”) as Naare and Matthew Wood (Disney XD’s “Star Wars Rebels”) as RO-GR.


Executive Producers: Bill Motz, Bob Roth

Release Date: December 6, 2016
Format: 2-Disc Blu-ray; 2-Disc DVD
Ratings: US: TV-Y7-FV, CE/CF: G (anticipated)
Run Time: Approximately 286 minutes; thirteen 22-minute episodes

Aspect Ratio: 1:78 (Widescreen)
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Languages & Subtitles: English, French & Spanish


"LEGO Star Wars: Freemaker Adventures S1" Coming on Blu-ray / DVD


Unleash the Lighter Side of the Force With the Action Packed Thrills of "LEGO® STAR WARS: The Freemaker Adventures Complete Season One"!

The Complete Season One on Blu-ray™ and DVD for the First Time on December 6, 2016

6 Exclusive Magnets Packed Inside Each Blu-ray and DVD!


Join the Freemakers in their spectacular first season of "LEGO Star Wars Adventures".

Get more info about this exciting new release after the jump!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Suicide Squad Deal with War Crimes in New Special


The creator of the modern incarnation of the Suicide Squad, John Ostrander, returns to pen DC Comics’ Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1. Gus Vazquez and Carlos Rodriguez provide the sort of graphic gore and visual frenzy we’ve come to expect from the pages of any book featuring Task Force X. Now if we could only get the real Harley Quinn from “Batman: The Animated Series” back, these books would be near-perfect.


A retired American politician is taken to Europe and tried for alleged war crimes. The USA must recover him from an allied nation before terrible truths are revealed. Enter the Suicide Squad, who storm the Hague itself to save America from her own dark secrets.


As I read Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1, I giggled a little at the “coincidence” of a foreign nation they’re going up against just “conveniently” having their own version of a Task Force X. Aside from that, there’s that one disposable minor member who is basically the “red shirt” of the group and is destined to die. If it wasn’t all so much fun, I might be a whole lot more annoyed by all these occurrences.


Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1 is rated T+ for “Teen Plus”. It contains violence and gore, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes. There’s a few headshots that might be a bit disturbing for younger readers. My one curse word that I have the most problem with is used as well: g!@#amn. As a Christian, I can’t stand hearing or seeing that used.


I’m so torn after reading quite a few Suicide Squad one-shots now. On one hand, I smile as there’s always some sort of witty twist to the story. However, it also gets a bit monotonous knowing what’s to be expected in the end. The War Crimes Special is no different. I was entertained by plenty of action, violence, and dark humor. However, it all felt familiar when everything was said and done.

Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1 is available now in print and digital editions.

Below is a preview of Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1 provided by CBR. Click on the page to enlarge.


Suicide Squad Deal with War Crimes in New Special


The creator of the modern incarnation of the Suicide Squad, John Ostrander, returns to pen DC Comics’ Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1. Gus Vazquez and Carlos Rodriguez provide the sort of graphic gore and visual frenzy we’ve come to expect from the pages of any book featuring Task Force X. Now if we could only get the real Harley Quinn from “Batman: The Animated Series” back, these books would be near-perfect.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Ash vs. Evil Dead" Season One is Groovy, Gory Fun


Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz unleash the Blu-ray and DVD for the television series horror fans have been waiting over 20 years to see. "Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season" continues the misadventures of Bruce Campbell's most famous character and brings along a few buddies on his road trip to Hell. Ash is joined by fellow department store workers Ray Santiago as reluctant wanna-be hero Pablo and Dana DeLorenzo playing the spunky and dangerous Kelly.


"Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season" follows the stock boy, aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter (Bruce Campbell) who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons –personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip. A mysterious figure named Ruby (Lucy Lawless) is on the search for our hero, as she believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks. Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), a disgraced Michigan State Trooper, is also set on finding Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner.


If the fact that Bruce Campbell is back as Ash for the series isn't enough to convince you to give it a try, maybe the fact that "Evil Dead" creator / writer / director Sam Raimi is heavily involved will be. He even directs the first episode of the show. He and his brother, Ivan, also are writers and developers of "Ash vs. Evil Dead".


For the most part, I really did like "Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season". It was a worthy progression from “Army of Darkness”. The show had the slapstick humor of both it and “Evil Dead 2” while restoring the realistic bloodiness of the original film and its remake.


One thing I was surprised about was the length of the episodes for "Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season". The majority of them were only 30 minutes long. Somehow, the runtime worked for the show. The first episode and the final one were around 45 minutes long. There's about 294 minutes of material between all of the episodes. All I kept thinking as I watched the whole season, "They could've just trimmed some of the fat out of each of these and made two straight-to-DVD movies."


I do wish "Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season" wasn’t as raunchy as it is and had less profanity. The original three movies with Bruce Campbell as Ash weren’t heavy on nudity, sexual situations, and as much crude language. It almost seems like the producers of the show felt they had to include more of these lewd ingredients to appeal to a newer and younger crowd.


"Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season" includes a healthy amount of special features. Audio commentary is found for every episode. Bruce Campbell provides his thoughts on eight of them, while Sam Raimi only talks shop about the first episode. Actors Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago, and Dana DeLorenzo also get in on the commentary. Two featurettes entitled "Inside the World of Ash" and "How to Kill a Deadite" take viewers behind the scenes of the show. A collection of Bruce Campbell's shining moments in the series are found in the montage "Best of Ash".


I’ll say the same thing I said to a friend of mine. Any new “Evil Dead” starring Bruce Campbell is better than not getting any. "Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season" is pure gore entertainment. It does tend to get bogged down with extraneous events every once in a while. Overall, it takes you on a wild ride back to where it all started and then leaves you heading into a future which looks to be very bleak and wonderfully deadly.

"Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season" is available now on Blu-rayDVD, and as a Digital Download.