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Twilight Zone, The: Complete 80’s Series (DVD)

The Twilight Zone: Complete 80's Series (DVD)Starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Mor

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The Twilight Zone: Complete 80's Series (DVD)Starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Dee Wallace Stone

Directed by Various

Distributed by CBS Television Distribution


It’s a safe assumption that I have been obsessed with Rod Serling’s original 1959 TV series The Twilight Zone – I mean let’s face it, there is NOTHING like it past or present – the majority of the shows were written to some extent by Serling himself, and after running steady for 5 seasons, the series was cancelled, leaving him to sell off a large chunk of his stake in the program. Fans of the pioneer sci/fi broadcasts were treated to a complete collection release late last year on DVD (which was put together rather well), and while the 1960 revival wasn’t exactly the second coming of the almighty, the series reboot still had its followers (present company included).

So when the situation presented itself to review The Twilight Zone: Complete 80s Series on DVD, I literally jumped at the chance. After Twilight Zone: The Movie finished up a lackluster box-office performance in theaters, it used its mediocre earnings to springboard the 1960 series, which only lasted a meager 7 seasons.

We now commence with the criticism of the DVD collection (and I’ll try to shove my favoritism to the side, here) – overall, it’s a Zoner’s dream come true: all 65 episodes crammed onto 17 discs, totaling 109 segments. We’ve got stars littering all facets of each program, with Bruce Willis as a man who mistakenly calls home and he answers the phone…yes, HE answers – Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale from The Walking Dead) plays a drunk driver who stumbles into the oddest bar around, Dee Wallace with her yard-sale magic lamp purchase, Adrienne Barbeau gets possessed by a stone gargoyle perched atop the gang-heavy school she works at, and Scott Wilson (Herschel from The Walking Dead) playing an ailing arms designer who gets cryogenically frozen, then awakens after 700 years – and that’s just a piece of Season 1.

What made this particular series so unique was although it was a reboot of the 1959 arrangement was that many of these segments were newly scripted, with just a few remakes of the original, and with the mounting disappointment amongst the viewers and studio execs, you can tell how the quality of each show slid further down the creative drain as hiatuses and programming shifts occurred until the show’s eventual cancellation in 1989. Unfortunately, aside from the weak stories that were on display in the late second through the third season was the presence of each show itself – these look EXACTLY like a bootleg off of a grainy VHS tape that was dubbed, and it appears that no care was taken in the transmission – now I know that a lot of 80’s TV looks as if it was shot through a cheesecloth, but COME ON, this is The Twilight Zone for cryin out loud! A sad loss here as many of the shows look exactly as they were originally broadcast: washed-out colors and muffled audio in some spots but hey, them’s the breaks.

The packaging also left a lot to be desired, and once again, I know that there can only be so much that’s done when putting together a box set that contains so many discs, but to have all 17 slammed down on top of each other, merely held in place by a cheap cardboard holder? I’m sorry, but for a guy that manually goes through ALL of his Blu-Rays and DVDs each month on my shelves to inspect for dust and scratches (although I’m the only one that watches them), my OCD in this matter goes into overtime, and I begin to sweat and pace like a caged farm animal (okay, maybe that was too extreme of an example).

There is a decent portion of special features for the technical viewer as well – multiple commentaries from some of the creative minds responsible for the show, a photo gallery, and an exclusive interview with director Wes Craven (hey, you didn’t think you’d be blown away with extras from a show that its own head honchos had hung out to dry, did you)? In any fashion, fans of the series will be content to finally have all 7 seasons contained within one box, but the care with how it was presented leaves me with a bad taste in my piehole. A nice pickup worth the dough if you’re a fanatic, otherwise skip it, and wait for the reruns on TV.

Special Features

  • Over a dozen audio commentaries
  • Exclusive interview with director Wes Craven
  • Photo Gallery

    The Film:

    7 out of 5

    Special Features:

    2 1/2 out of 5

    Discuss The Twilight Zone: Complete 80’s Series in the comments section below!

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    Like Me – Will You Like This Dystopian Thriller?

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    Starring Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden

    Directed by Robert Mockler


    While Like Me is not dystopian in the classic science-fiction sense, it does aptly put the downer vibe across. If the present is abysmal, then the future is downright hopeless. We learn this as we follow an unhinged teenage loner called Kiya (Addison Timlin) on a hollow crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. At first the world “likes” her—with the exception of YouTube rival Burt (Ian Nelson), who disdainfully denounces her viral videos—but pride goes before the fall, and Kiya’s descent is spectacular.

    If you’ve peeped the trailer for Like Me, then you’re probably expecting a horror movie. I mean, they’ve got the requisite menacing masked baddie and they’ve got genre icon Larry Fessenden in a major role—those are a couple of the key ingredients, right? Yes they are, but this simmering, shimmering stew of Natural Born Killers, Excision and King Kelly, it boils down to a whole lotta nothing. Like Me is sort of a drama, kind of a road trip flick, and almost a thriller. It succeeds at none yet does stand on its own as a compelling collection of cool visuals and pertinent performances. But is that enough?

    While Kiya is a compelling character on the surface, there’s barebones beneath. Sure, she’s a Millennial mind-fed on random online clips and snappy soundbites—but what turned her into a psychopath? Was she born that way? Is social media to blame? We’ll never know, because not a hint is given. I don’t mind ambiguity, but even a morsel would have been welcome in this case. As Kiya ramps up her reckless exhibitionistic extremes, the stakes are never raised. In the end, who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

    A word of warning: If you plan on watching this movie while chomping snacks…don’t. There is stomach-turning scene after vomit-inducing scene of orgiastic easting, binging, and the inevitable purging. I’m sure it’s all metaphorical mastication, a cutting comment on disposable consumption. I get it. But I don’t wanna look at it, again and again and again. Having said that, Like Me is an experimental film and in its presentation of such grotesquery, it’s quite accomplished. Montages, split-screens and jittered motions are scattered throughout, showing us all sorts of unpleasant things…Kudos to the editor.

    I didn’t hate Like Me. But I do think one has to be in the mood for a movie such as this. It’s not an easy or entertaining watch, but it is a peculiar and thought-provoking one. There’s some style and mastery behind the camera, and I am curious to see what first-time writer-director Rob Mockler comes up with next.

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    Last Toys on the Left

    Funko Giving Jurassic Park the Pop! Treatment as Only They Can

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    It is no secret we’re BIG fans of Funko’s Pop! Vinyl line here at DC HQ, and now they’ve announced a new series that has made our hearts just about burst… read on for a look at Pop! Movies: Jurassic Park, heading our way in February. The regular figures are awesome on their own, but wait until you see the exclusives!

    From the Funko Blog:
    Jurassic Park fans, get excited! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic film’s appearance on the silver screen, Jurassic Park is coming to Pop!

    This series of Pop! features paleontologist Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park CEO John Hammond, mathematician Dr. Malcolm, and embryo-smuggler Dennis Nedry. (Keep an eye out for Dr. Ellie Sattler in Pop! Rides coming soon.)

    We couldn’t forget the Jurassic Park dinosaurs! Featured in this line are the great T. rex, Velociraptor, and Dilophsaurus. Look for the Dilophosaurus chase, a rarity of 1-in-6.

    Be on the lookout for exclusives. At Target you can find a wounded Dr. Malcolm, and the Dennis Nedry and Dilophosaurus 2-pack is available only at Entertainment Earth.

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    American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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    Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

    Directed by Colin Bemis


    Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

    The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

    As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

    Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

    In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

    On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

    In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

    Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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