Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're here because you want to know the experience I have watching this/these film(s).
New on Blu is a new column from film pundit Chase Whale, exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy, rent, or avoid.
During an era where we are getting remakes, reboots, "spiritual sequels," and "blood relatives," there's a filmmaker bring fresh screams to the screen: James Wan (The Conjuring franchise, Insidious franchise, and the first and best Saw, which spawned six more films in the box-office hit franchise). He's now expanding his oeuvre into other genres -- Furious 7 and the much anticipated Aquaman feature. Wan is a name you can trust, which is why the cover of LIGHTS OUT has his name instead of the writer or director.
It's hard for me to be scared of studio films these days, but first-time feature-length director Lights Out did an exceptional job with a few great jump scared. This film seems to be more tailored for a younger audience with it's PG-13, but many directors have shown you can create great frights with having to make it bloody (The Sixth Sense will always be the best go-to for this argument). What I do value is how the scares are constructed. It sticks with you and makes the audience think twice about electricity and how often we take some of America's greatest inventions for granted. There's always a formula to every genre of film, and it's always a treat when films like LIGHTS OUT stray from that formula.
Horror fanatic? BUY.
George C. Scott (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Patton, Hardcore) stars as in the third round of THE EXORCIST, this time hunting down a possible copycat of famous serial killer The Gemini Killer, a baddie executed years before. We learn over time, the wicked soul of the Gemini Killer is possessing other bodies and killing off whom it pleases, then passes on to another human vessel. The passing-to-another-human-vessel formula has been used in quite a few horror films but rarely in inventive ways. THE EXORCIST III has a lot of fun with this formula.
I remember how disappointed I was when JASON GOES TO HELL used the transformation of Jason's demon to regular folks to carry out the killing, and we don't get the real masked maniac until the very end of the film. That's not a way for Jason Vorhees to go out, but Hollywood thought up other formulas to keep him going (Freddy vs. Jason and a solid reboot).
Some of the best kind of horror films are the ones that know they won't be taken serious, but the team clearly had fun as possible making it, it either becomes a bomb or a cult hit. THE EXORCIST III is a cult hit.
Plus, this is from Scream Factory, who spend a lot of time making kick-ass artwork, forcing your heart to buy it.
DISC ONE: The Exorcist III (Theatrical Cut)
NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive
Deleted Scene/Alternate Takes/Bloopers
Vintage Interviews (Featuring Behind-The-Scenes Footage) With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty, George C. Scott, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Grand L. Bush, Executive Producer James G. Robinson, Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Larry King And C. Everett Koop
DISC TWO: Legion (Original Director's Cut) 105 minutes
NEW Audio Interview With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty
NEW A "Wonderfull" Time – Interviews With Producer Carter DeHaven, Actors Clifford David And Tracy Thorne And Production Assistant Kara Reidy
NEW Signs Of The Gemini – An Interview With Brad Dourif
NEW The Devil In The Details – Interview With Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Assistant Designer Daren Dochterman And Illustrator Simon Murton
NEW Music For A Padded Cell – An Interview With Composer Barry DeVorzon
NEW All This Bleeding – A Look At The Re-shoot And Makeup Effects With Production Manager Ronald Colby, Editor Todd Ramsay, Effects Artists William Forsche, Mike Smithson, Brian Wade And Actor/Body Double Charles Powell
Criterion Collection led the pack on making the artwork so killer, you're going to buy the film whether you've seen it or not. They started the trend Scream/Shout! and many others followed, which is helping keep physical product alive. Criterion stacks extra features for each release iTunes can't touch because some are physical -- essays written by prolific film historians or the director himself.
Take a look at Luis García Berlanga's THE EXECUTIONER. No giant famous faces on the cover you find on most U.S. releases. Criterion figured out people don't browse video stores a long time ago. (In fairness, I owe a lot to Blockbuster. Most cult hits and olds films I've seen are because of this place.) There are some video stores still around today, but they specialize for a niche audience.
THE EXECUTIONER (aka NOT ON YOUR LIFE aka EL VERDUGO) is Berlanga's 8th feature and considered in Spain as one as its countries masterpieces. It centers on, you got it, an executioner (played by José Luis Rodríguez), who's reaching the age where his old hands losing their grip when it comes to slicing off heads. He's got two things on his mind: who's going to take over his killer job, and will anyone marry his daughter -- currently his profession scares all the boys away from the yard. He's worried she'll grow old and alone.
Not in this story. The town's undertaker (mortician/funeral director) comes into the picture and is burdened with the adversity as the daughter -- no father wants to give their daughter away in this line of work.
THE EXECUTIONER cuts deeper than being just a story of replacement and finding a man for his daughter to marry. It's about broken dreams of finding in peace that you'll never achieve them. Sounds sad as weeping willow but Berlanga does a terrific job bringing in black comedy sprinkled throughout the film, poking fun at the act of executing a human, and other oddities that come with the job, giving us an abundance of laughs at the seriousness of death. A great title to add to Criterion.
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar
New program on director Luis García Berlanga, featuring interviews with his son José Luis Berlanga; film critic Carlos F. Heredero; writers Fernando R. Lafuente and Bernardo Sánchez Salas; and director of the Berlanga Film Museum Rafael Maluenda
Spanish television program from 2012 on The Executioner, featuring archival interviews with Berlanga
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by film critic David Cairns