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Starship Troopers Trilogy (Blu-ray)

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Starship Troopers Trilogy on Blu-ray (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring (Starship Troopers) Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, (Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation) Billy Brown, Richard Burgi, Kelly Carlson, Cy Carter, (Starship Troopers 3: Marauder) Amanda Donohoe, Marnette Patterson, Casper Van Dien, Jolene Blalock

Directed by (Starship Troopers) Paul Verhoeven, (Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation) Phil Tippett, (Starship Troopers 3: Marauder) Ed Neumeier

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Ladies and gentleman — Welcome to the mother of all bug-infested, gore-strewn, Blu-ray boxsets. With the release of the third film in the series, the Starship Troopers franchise comes screaming into the hi-def world with a vengeance thanks to Sony Home Entertainment’s extras packed Starship Troopers Trilogy collection. There’s so much going on here, it’s almost hard to decide where to start.

The films in this collection range from decent to good to classic. Each one brings something unique to the table. The original Starship Troopers brought with it gobs of gore, dark humor, biting satire, and epic action scenes. A few years later Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation scaled things back big time and gave us a movie that pretty much amounts to a zombie flick with giant bugs in it. The newest flim, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (full review here) brings the series back to its grander scale roots while providing an unexpected twist that will have fans debating for a long time.

Each has its rightful place in our home video libraries, and honestly, these full 1080p releases deliver a viewing experience that is nothing short of breathtaking. F/X heavy films like these exemplify what the hi-def experience is all about. The best part? They sound as good as they look. Turn up the volume, man, and don’t blame me if the cops show up at your house because of the screaming and gunfire. You’ve been warned! What we have here is a feast for a couple of the senses. Thankfully we can’t smell, taste, or touch those pesky bugs. The day when viewing interactivity goes that far, I’m just gonna hang it up and immerse myself in the virtual chaos.

Starship Troopers Trilogy on Blu-ray (click for larger image)When the original Starship Troopers hit DVD nearly ten years ago, it was a decent little package. A commentary here, a featurette there, etc. It was pretty cool. Now, however, Sony is delivering to us an edition that has every conceivable extra you can think of and some that you just can’t fathom.

Things kick off with two commentary tracks, one with Verhoeven and writer Ed Neumeier, the other with Verhoeven and stars Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, and Neil Patrick Harris. Do I really have to say which is the more worthwhile listen? Verhoeven and Neumeier, though characters in their own right, come off a bit on the stale side. Moving on. From there we have five different making-of featurettes that clock in anywhere from four to thirty minutes. Everything you’d expect is covered from cast and crew interviews, the crafting of the film’s starships, and even some in-depth insight as to the looks and habits of the bugs. This quintet of behind-the-scenes goodness leaves no stone unturned. Great stuff.

Next up is a series of nine F/X comparisons that clock in at half an hour combined. These are picture-in-picture looks at specific sequences of the movie shown with and without visual effects added. This may be interesting for the techies out there, but something tells me most folks won’t be watching for more than a few minutes. From there we get something called Scene Deconstruction with Paul Verhoeven in which the director walks us through two specific scenes via storyboards and animatics. Wrapping things up we’ll find more storyboard-to-film comparisons, two “Johnny and Carmen” screen tests, and five deleted scenes (including an alternate ending) that come in around the seven-minute mark combined.

I know what you’re thinking — “That’s cool and all, but what about Blu-ray specific features?” Rest easy, little soldier! Have we got a treat for you!

Starship Troopers Trilogy on Blu-ray (click for larger image)Included on the original Starship Troopers Blu-ray is FedNet Mode in which various special features can be watched via picture-in-picture mode while the film is running, and the official Recruitment Test that enables users to play a unique Starship Troopers trivia game! The best part? If your Blu-Ray player is hooked up to the Internet, you’ll be able to upload your scores to leader boards! How friggin’ cool is that? But wait … there’s more! Obviously there’s a ton of stuff to see and do here, but what if you just wanted to kick back and watch only what you wanted to without having to mess with menus and remotes? Enter the Blu Wizard option. Here you can select only what you want to see from anything on the disc, and it will play said features in succession. There are a couple of other things worthy of discussion, but we’ll get back to them later.

For now, let’s talk Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation supplemental material. Everything from the original DVD release has been ported over, but unfortunately nothing new has been added here. Sometimes it feels as if I’m the only one on the planet to give this little flick any respect. For the record you get an audio commentary by director Phil Tippett, producer Jon Davison, and writer Ed Neumeier and two behind-the-scenes featurettes. “Do you want to know more?” How I wish there was more to tell about this one.

Onward to the supplemental material found on Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

Things kick off with two commentaries. The first with Neumeier, producer David Lancaster, and visual effects supervisor Robert Skotak is a bit of a snoozer in terms of a listen. All three participants speak in a sort of monotone that’s bound to not keep your interest. Instead, head right to the second one with Neumeier and stars Casper Van Dien and Jolene Blalock. While not exactly a tour-de-force of anecdotes and hilarity, it’s still tons more fun than the aforementioned one. Once you’re done listening, it’s time for the two featurettes.

First up there’s the eleven-minute Evolution: The Bugs of Starship Troopers 3: Marauder featurette, which is exactly what it says it is. The creatures in this flick are a great combination of puppetry and CGI. Seeing how it all came together is pretty damned interesting. Next up is the fourteen-minute Enlist: Mobile Infantry featurette. Here’s where you will find the bulk of the cast and crew interviews if that’s your bag. Honestly, this is pretty cookie-cutter stuff. “Do you want to know more?” Umm … No thanks. Fanboys only. Now for the true bright spot of the DVD — the extended music video for Sky Marshall Anoke’s “It’s a Good Day to Die”. See it. Sing along with it. Love it. Brilliant stuff!

Starship Troopers Trilogy on Blu-ray (click for larger image)Now that is quite a haul for one boxset. no? Yet I’ve saved the best things about this collection for last! All three discs in this set are BD Live enabled. What this means is that if your player is hooked up to the Internet (yes, that again), you can access the BD Live site, which lets you upload your trivia scores, download wallpapers, and generally get info on all things Sony Pictures. It’s really good stuff, but the best part about this?

Hold on to your asses, folks!

BD Live allows you in conjunction with the Starship Troopers and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder Blu-rays to upload a photo of yourself to later appear pasted onto one of the live action characters running about the chaos within those movies. Imagine just sitting there chilling and then seeing either you or a friend run by on TV in full combat gear blasting bugs. Sure, in the end it looks a bit hokey, but come on, man! This is the next level of cool. Wow. Just wow.

The only bad thing to mention here is that all of the aforementioned video-based special features are presented in standard definition, and that’s the only thing keeping the supplemental portion of this review from getting a perfect five out of five.

Need I say any more? Do you need more convincing? Are you sold yet? The playing field of watching movies has just officially changed. The Starship Troopers Trilogy is simply outstanding. Do yourself a favor, if you’re a movie fan at all, take the plunge and invest in a Blu-ray player. Just think about what other possibilities lie ahead for us with our favorite movies. I’m speechless.

Special Features

Starship Troopers

  • BD Live enabled
  • Blu Wizard
  • Recruitment test
  • Put Yourself in the Movie feature
  • FedNet Mode
  • Audio commentary with director Paul Verhoeven and writer Ed Neumeier
  • Audio commentary with director Paul Verhoeven and stars Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, and Neil Patrick Harris
  • Death From Above featurette
  • The Making-of Starship Troopers featurette
  • The Spaceships of Starship Troopers featurette
  • Bug Test Film featurette
  • Know Your Foe featurette
  • Scene Deconstruction with Paul Verhoeven featurette
  • F/X comparisons
  • Storyboard comparisons
  • Deleted scenes
  • Screen tests

    Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation

  • BD Live enabled
  • Audio commentary by director Phil Tippett, producer Jon Davison, and writer Ed Neumeier
  • Inside the Federation featurette
  • From Green Screen to Silver Screen featurette

    Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

  • BD Live enabled
  • Put Yourself in the Movie feature
  • Marauder Mode
  • Audio commentary by director Ed Neumeier, producer David Lancaster, visual effects supervisor Robert Skotak
  • Audio commentary by director Ed Neumeier and stars Casper Van Dien and Jolene Blalock
  • Evolution: The Bugs of Starship Troopers 3: Marauder featurette
  • Enlist: Mobile Infantry featurette
  • “It’s a Good Day to Die” — extended music video by Sky Marshall Anoke

    Films Combined:

    4 out of 5

    Special Features Combined:

    4 1/2 out of 5

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    Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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    Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

    Directed by Charles Martin Smith


    I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

    Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

    Now let’s get to it.

    First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

    Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

    I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

    Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

    It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

    And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

    Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

    This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

    And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

    Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

    In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

    That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

    Rockstar lighting for days.

    Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

    Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

    More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

    Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

    Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

    All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

    Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

    • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
    3.5

    Summary

    Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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    User Rating 3.59 (22 votes)
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    AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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    Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

    Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


    ** NO SPOILERS **

    It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

    Spoiler free.

    To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

    That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

    Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

    Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

    Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

    Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

    But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

    But let’s backtrack a bit here.

    Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

    And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

    Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

    With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

    Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

    I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

    Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

    Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

    Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

    On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

    That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

    In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

    While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

    Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

    Bring on season 12.

    • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
    3.5

    Summary

    The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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    User Rating 4.13 (23 votes)
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    The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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    Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

    Directed by Nicholas Woods


    The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

    The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

    The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

    The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

    The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

    The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

    ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

    • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
    • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
    • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
    • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
    • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
    • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
    • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
    • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
    • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
    • The Axiom
    4.0

    Summary

    In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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    User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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