Bargain Bin Blu-Ray Reviews

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 11th October 2011.

With the price of blu-ray discs coming down, there are now some great deals which bring the price of high definition discs in line with their standard definition DVD counterparts. One particular local non-specific music and movies store even has a special of 3 blu-rays for $40. This proved rather hard for me to resist so today I took the opportunity to purchase some movies which were not particularly well reviewed but I had some interest in, as well as an old favourite that I couldn’t wait to see in high def. So without any further ado, here are the reviews of my 3 for $40 marathon.

The Exorcist is regarded as the scariest movie of all time, and I must say that pea soup vomit in high definition does not disappoint. I never got the chance to see it during its original theatrical run, being minus two years old at the time, but it still packs a mighty punch. Even if you have no particular religious beliefs regarding demonic possession or exorcism, it is practically impossible to not get sucked into the spooky tale of young Regan McNeil and the events which transpire when her body becomes the temporary home for the evil spirit Pazuzu, as often happens.

This blu-ray edition features the 2000 released, “Version You’ve Never Seen”, which includes the infamous originally deleted but now restored spider walk sequence, where twelve year old Regan, played convincingly by Linda Blair, walks down the stairs on her hands and feet, backwards and upside down. I caught this version on the big screen at the time and believe me, it will send shivers down your spine.

The bonus features include some very interesting documentaries on the making of the film, plus an informative commentary from the director, William Friedkin. Unfortunately, the 2008 BBC documentary, The Fear of God: The Making of “The Exorcist” is nowhere to be found. A must-see for any fan of classic cinema, don’t watch it alone, or without extra underwear on hand.

Machete spun from a spoof trailer added to the 2007 Grindhouse double feature from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Unfortunately, Australian distributors did not think that audiences would sit though two horror / exploitation flicks in a row, complete with fake coming soon trailers, and the films were released separately, bombing badly at the box office.

Starring ex-con turned actor Danny Trejo in his first leading role, Machete also boasts an all-star lineup of top shelf Hollywood actors such as Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez, as well as has-been acts including Don Johnson, Steven Seagal and Lindsay Lohan.

A violent, bloody celebration of B-grade seventies drive-in fare, the film is great fun, especially if you enjoy the work of director Rodriguez, who co-directs with Ethan Maniquis. If you’ve ever wanted to see Bob De Niro hamming it up alongside renowned thespian Seagal, then Machete should be on your bargain bin list. Don’t expect much from the extra features. There are a few deleted scenes and a pointless audience reaction sound track.

Faster stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Driver. Yep, no name, just Driver. To up the acting quotient, Billy Bob Thornton also stars as Cop. Hmm, perhaps they should have renamed the film, Movie.

The problem with Faster is that they’ve taken Johnson, one of the most charismatic Hollywood stars to emerge in recent years, and removed any sense of humour or fun from the film. An action packed revenge thriller, it takes itself way too seriously and made me want the film to end…faster.

For a few dollars more than the price of one new blu-ray release, I got one classic, one rewatchable spoof and one humourless dud, which translates into two keepers and one pretty coaster. Not bad for forty bucks, really.

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Published in: on October 17, 2011 at 05:22  Leave a Comment  
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