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Twilight Zone, The: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

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The Twilight Zone: Season 2 on Blu-rayReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Rod Serling, William Shatner, Art Carney, Russell Johnson, Dick York, Don Rickles, Burgess Meredith, Buddy Ebsen, John Astin, John Hoyt, Sydney Pollack, Agnes Moorehead, Bill Mumy, John Carradine, H.M. Wynant, Bob Cummings, Donna Douglas, Edson Stroll, Joseph Ruskin, Luther Adler, Vivi Janss, Richard Haydn, Inger Stevens, Thomas Gomez, Jonathan Harris, John Anderson, Dean Stockwell, Cliff Robertson, Oscar Beregi, Franchot Tone, Dennis Weaver, Harry Townes, Fritz Weaver, and many more

Directed by Various

Created by Rod Serling

Distributed by Image Entertainment


“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call … The Twilight Zone.”

There’s just no way on the world to ever talk about “The Twilight Zone” without those opening words. They are ingrained in our psyches and are about as pure a slice of Americana as you could possibly get. Some would state that “The Twilight Zone” is the greatest anthology series that has ever been on television. It’s really hard to argue against that because here we have everything that you could want … comedy, horror, science fiction, drama, programming with a conscience. Situations you’d talk about with your neighbors the very next day. That is, if they weren’t alien beings from another planet. Or are they …

Season 2 of this famed show represents some of the very best that this tent pole of TV programming had to offer, and just as they did with Season 1, Image entertainment has knocked it so far out of the park that the ball itself is likely traveling through a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.

The Twilight Zone: Season 2 on Blu-rayFrom the terrors of The Howling Man to the sci-fi goodness with a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan green with envy in The Invaders, you just cannot help but be absolutely captivated by these so ahead of their time experiences. No matter how many times I’ve seen these episodes, I simply cannot take my eyes off of them. Just like the music of powerful musicians like John Lennon or The Doors, every note of these shows remain pitch-perfect and just as relevant now as they were back then when they aired in the early Sixties.

Again, Image Entertainment has restored these episodes with a lot of love and attention, and as a result the 1080p presentation of most of these episodes will leave you staggered by the amount of depth and detail that’s present on the screen. I say “most” because there were six episodes of Season 2 shot on video – The Lateness of the Hour, Static, The Whole Truth, The Night of the Meek, Twenty-Two, and Long Distance Call – that do not fare nearly as well in the quality department. Simply put, in comparison to the rest these look pretty damned crappy. Still, Image can only work with what they’ve got, and given their obvious affection for the product, we’re pretty sure they’ve done their very best.

In terms of audio, as with Season 1 you have the choice of the original mono recording or a stellar restored PCM lossless soundtrack as well as the option to dig on the isolated scores themselves. It doesn’t get much cooler than that, does it?

The Twilight Zone: Season 2 on Blu-rayNow on to the extras. Holy cow. All of the supplemental material from the original DVD releases has made its way back along with a veritable boatload of Blu-ray exclusive stuff that honestly at first glance seems overwhelming, and it is! Not that that’s a bad thing; just prepare to be there for a while when you decides to jump in. Suffice it to say it’s all good, baby! Twenty-five new audio commentaries, brand new interviews with surviving actors, vintage audio interviews with the crew, no stone is left unturned; and if you’re a fan of the series, this is nothing short of nirvana. To go through it all in this review would make it epic in its length so just dig on the full “Special Features” listing below.

In terms of Blu-ray releases, it just doesn’t get better than this, folks. There are no words that can fully illustrate how great these presentations are. They’re not only a gift for fans but will no doubt enjoy longevity as a time capsule of a truly classic show for generations to come. You need this NOW, if not sooner.

Season 2 Episodes
King Nine Will Not Return, The Man in the Bottle, Nervous Man in a Four-Dollar Room, A Thing About Machines, The Howling Man, Eye of the Beholder, Nick of Time, The Lateness of the Hour, The Trouble with Templeton, A Most Unusual Camera, The Night of the Meek, Dust, Back There, The Whole Truth, The Invaders, A Penny for Your Thoughts, Twenty-Two, The Odyssey of Flight 33, Mr. Dingle, the Strong, Static, The Prime Mover, Long Distance Call, A Hundred Yards over the Rim, The Rip Van Winkle Caper, The Silence, Shadow Play, The Mind and the Matter, Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?, The Obsolete Man

Special Features All Blu-ray Exclusive!

  • 25 New Audio Commentaries, featuring The Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, author/film historian Gary Gerani, author/music historian Steven C. Smith, author/film & TV historian, Martin Grams Jr., writer/music historian Jon Burlingame, writer Len Wein, writer/producer Joseph Dougherty, writer/producer Matthew Weiner, writer/director Michael Nankin, writer Marv Wolfman, authors/historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson and writer George Clayton Johnson.
  • Interviews with actors Joseph Ruskin and H. M. Wynant.
  • Suspense episode “Nightmare at Ground Zero” written by Rod Serling.
  • Vintage Audio Interview with director of photography George T. Clemens.
  • Vintage Audio Interview with makeup artist William Tuttle.
  • 15 Radio Dramas featuring Daniel J. Travanti, Jim Caviezel, Jason Alexander, Ed Begley Jr., Fred Willard, Jane Seymour, Michael York, Chris McDonald, Henry Rollins, Stan Freberg and others!

    Also includes:

  • Audio Commentaries by actors Donna Douglas, Don Rickles, William Idelson, Bill Mumy, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver and Shelley Berman.
  • Vintage Audio Recollections with Buzz Kulik, Douglas Heyes, Maxine Stuart, George Clayton Johnson and Robert Serling.
  • 22 Isolated Music Scores featuring the legendary Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Fred Steiner and others!
  • Sponsor Billboards
  • Rod Serling Promos for “Next Week’s” Show

    Series

    5 out of 5

    Special Features

    5 out of 5

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    Satan’s Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review – Sacrifice This Snoozer At The Altar!

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    Starring Jack Kruschen, John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jacqueline Cole

    Directed by Greydon Clark

    Distributed by VCI


    The ‘70s. Satanism. Sultry cheerleaders. Sex appeal. With these tools nearly any low-budget filmmaker should be able to turn out something that is, at the very least, entertaining. The last thing a viewer expects when tuning in to a film called Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) is to be bored to tears. But that is exactly the reaction I had while watching director Greydon Clark’s wannabe cult comedy. Even on a visual level this film can’t be saved, and it was shot by Dean Cundey! No, unfortunately there isn’t a cinematic element in the world that can overcome a roster of bad actors and a storyline so poorly constructed it plays like it was written on the day. The only saving grace, minor as it may be, is the casting of John Ireland as Sheriff B.L. Bubb (cute), a hard-nosed shitkicker who adds all the gravitas he can muster. But a watchable feature cannot be built upon the back of a single co-star, as every grueling minute of Satan’s Cheerleaders proves.

    The cheerleaders and jocks of Benedict High School rule the campus, doing what they want, when they want, with little else on their minds except for The Big Game. Their belittling attitudes rub school janitor (and stuttering dimwit) Billy (Jack Kruschen) the wrong way. What they don’t know is Billy is (somehow) the head of a local Satanic cult, and he plans to place a curse on the clothes (really) of the cheerleaders so they… suck at cheerleading? Maybe they’ll somehow cause the jocks to lose the big game? When Billy isn’t busy plotting his cursed plans, he spies on the girls in the locker room via a hidden grate in the wall. I guess he doesn’t think being a sexual “prevert” is fair trade enough; might as well damn them all, too. Billy has his own plans to kidnap the girls, for his Lord and Master Satan, and he succeeds with ease when the girls’ van breaks down on the highway; he simply offers them a ride and they all pile in. But when Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole) gets hip to his plan the two tussle in the front seat and Billy winds up having a heart attack.

    The squad runs off in search of help, coming across the office of Sheriff B.L. Bubb (John Ireland), who, as the name implies, may be a legit Satanist. Bubb invites the girls inside, where they meet his wife, Emmy (Yvonne De Carlo), High Priestess of their quaint little satanic chapter. While the girls get acquainted with Emmy, Bubb runs off to find Billy, who isn’t actually dead. Wait, scratch that, Bubb just killed him for… some reason. The girls figure out things aren’t so rosy here at the Bubb estate, so they hatch an escape plan and most make it to the forest. The few that are left behind just kinda hang out for the rest of the film. Very little of substance happens, and the pacing moves from “glacial” to “permafrost”, before a semi-psychedelic ending arrives way too late.

    “Haphazard” is one of many damning terms I can think of when trying to make sense of this film. The poster says the film is “Funnier Than The Omen… Scarier Than Silent Movie” which, objectively, is a true statement, though this film couldn’t hope to be in the same league as any of the sequels to The Omen (1976) let alone the original. It is a terminal bore. Every attempt at humor is aimed at the lowest common denominator – and even those jokes miss by a wide berth. True horror doesn’t even exist in this universe. The best I can say is some of the sequences where Satan is supposedly present utilize a trippy color-filled psychedelic shooting style, but it isn’t anything novel enough to warrant a recommendation. Hell, it only happens, like, twice anyway. The rest of the film is spent listening to these simple-minded sideline sirens chirp away, dulling the enthusiasm of viewers with every word.

    A twist ending that isn’t much of a twist at all is the final groan for this lukewarm love letter to Lucifer. None of the actors seem like they know what the hell to be doing, and who can blame them with material like this? I had hoped for some sort of fun romp with pompoms and pentagram, like Jack Hill’s Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) for the Satanic set, but Clark provides little more than workmanlike direction; even Cundey’s cinematography is nothing to want on a resume.

    Viewers have the option of watching either a “Restored” or “Original Transfer” version of the 1.78:1 1080p picture. Honestly, I didn’t find a ton of difference between the two, though the edge likely goes to the restored version since the title implies work has been done to make it look better. Colors are accurate but a little bland, and definition just never rises above slightly average. Film grain starts off heavy but manages to smooth out later on. Very little about the picture is emblematic of HD but given the roots this is probably the best it could ever hope to look.

    Audio comes in the form of an English LPCM 2.0 track. The soundtrack sounds like it was lifted from a porno, while other tracks are clearly library music. Dialogue never has any obvious issues and sounds clear throughout. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

    There are two audio commentary tracks; one, with director Greydon Clark; two, with David De Cocteau and David Del Valle.

    A photo gallery, with images in HD, is also included.

    Special Features:

    • Audio commentary with director Greydon Clark
    • Audio commentary with filmmakers David De Cocteau & David Del Valle
    • Photo gallery
    • Satan's Cheerleaders
    • Special Features
    1.3

    Summary

    Although the title is enough to reel in curious viewers, the reality is “Satan’s Cheerleaders” are a defunct bunch with little spirit and no excitement. The ’70s produced plenty of classic satanic cinema and this definitely ain’t it.

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    A Demon Within Review – Familiar Possession Beats To A Dreary Tune

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    Starring Charlene Amoia, Clint Hummel, Patricia Ashley, Michael Ehlers

    Directed by Ayush Banker and Justin LaReau


    Possession flicks don’t often hold a long shelf life in the horror community, with Ayush Banker and Justin LaReau’s A Demon Within suggesting why. Hands emerging from the darkness, exorcisms, anxious priests – you’ll see it all again as you’ve seen it before. Early scenes glimmer a polish unlike equal indie products, but that’s just the devil playing tricks on you. Once the film’s main satanic takeover begins, cursing teens and stony glares become the been-here-before norm. Low-budget filmmaking isn’t an immediate detractor like some high-society snobs may believe, yet it’s surely no excuse either. Today’s review being an example of both mindsets.

    Charlene Amoia stars as Julia Larsen, a divorcee who moves into Crestwick, Illinois looking for a clean start with daughter Charlotte (Patricia Ashley). Their dusty toucher-upper is a quaint, aged farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, complete with electrical issues and weird noises at night. Nothing to worry about, right? Julia’s focus is better directed towards town doctor Jeremy Miller (Clint Hummel), who she immediately hits it off with (after almost hitting *him* with a car). She’s eating stir-fry at his place one night, all things going well, and that’s when it happens – Charlotte is possessed by an evil force who enacts its sinister plan. Charlotte may physically be present, but only as a vessel for “Nefas.”

    Without hesitation, A Demon Within lays predictable groundwork as small-town haunters have for decades. Charlotte’s new home is already infested with a spiritual squatter, Jeremy bottles (and drinks down) a blemished past that’s exposed too late, there’s plenty of characters sneakin’ up on one another – never with much “oomph.” Charlotte’s teeny-bopper voice drops to truck-driver deep at the height of possession, but it’s a distracting sound design that alone strikes little fear. Serious scares are attempted, be it a pitch-black basement slashing or Charlotte’s hide-and-seek pounce, just never delivered. An inconsequential failure to unite tone and atmosphere.

    Performances are…well…rigid, to say the least. Amoia and Ashley strike a surprisingly likable chemistry as living humans, but once Ashley goes demonic, chemistry bottoms out. The way A Demon Within positions Charlotte when possessed is utterly dull and undefined; Ashley playing an unenthusiastic harbinger of death. It’s bad enough that Hummel’s tortured doctor masters the emotional range of Mona Lisa and the town’s pastor is hardly a scene stealer – but to have a demon be so vanilla (without a side of nuts, no less)? Getting past the limited lighting and Charlotte’s manly demon voice is hard enough, let alone her mostly relenting threats.

    Making matters worse, the film’s third act is hardly a religious salvation that flows with ease. I had more fun watching Julia stammer over pizza and beers with Jeremy than their final fight against ghastly hellspawns. The truths of Jeremy’s past leak out in flashback form, only to reveal his stubborn inability to comprehend one’s own possession encounter in the very house Julia bought (useful information, eh?). The local priest shows up in the nick of time, a few cutaway jolts attempt cheap thrills, and some holy water mucks up an old painting – but again, minimal notability. Er…not even minimal? Shaky last-minute framing makes it hard to even notice the touch-ups to Charlotte’s face that signify her unholy imprisonment, even worse than blackened CGI mists.

    A Demon Within tries, fumbles, and tries some more, but it’s best treated as a reminder of better exorcism stories that exist elsewhere. Even something like The Vatican Tapes is an improvement over this possessive redundancy, hokier than the honky-tonk love song that plays atop a pizza-chain flirt scene. There’s something to be said about getting out and creating original horror, but herein lies the problem – this ain’t *that* original. With harsher scares and tension, such a fate could be ignored. As-is? It’s hard to see past anything more than a January release placeholder.

    • A Demon Within
    2.0

    Summary

    A Demon Within is a seen-it-before possession thriller that brings nothing new to the conversation. Not the worst, but also not a “hidden secret.”

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    Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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    Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

    Directed by David Moscow


    It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

    Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

    Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

    While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

    • Film
    3.0

    Summary

    Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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