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Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Blu-ray / DVD)

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Hellboy II: The Golden Army on Blu-ray and DVDReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment


So what has to happen to make a sequel work? First you need everything that made the original film sequel-worthy to begin with back and in place. Second you give the audience more of what they had originally loved. And finally third you up the ante on just about everything from storyline to special effects. Hellboy II: The Golden Army does all of that and then some. Director Guillermo del Toro has delivered us a horror/fantasy film for the ages, and Universal Home Entertainment has delivered us a package that is no doubt a contender for Blu-ray/DVD of the year.

Once again Armageddon has reared its head and the human race faces possible extinction. What’s caused all the hub-bub? The rogue Prince of the Underworld, Nuada (Goss), is tired of honoring a deal made years ago that would find humanity living in peace with the mythical creatures it was once at war with. As a result, and against his father the King’s wishes, he awakens an ancient extermination squad dubbed The Golden Army to rectify the situation and return absolute power to the darker side. Good thing for us we have Big Red (Perlman) and his crew of paranormal outcasts to save us, but can a monster born of the fires of hell really be our savior, or is he just a band-aid on an increasingly bleeding wound? The answer to that question will no doubt be answered in Part III, but for now let’s just revel in the wonder of this amazing sequel, shall we?

Hellboy II: The Golden Army on Blu-ray and DVDLet me just get this out of the way … this movie kicks ass on every conceivable level. There’s just so much going on and so much to see. The flick is dripping with enough monsters and action to make the Star Wars films seem light on both. Never mind Lucas’ celebrated cantina scene in Episode IV, one stroll through del Toro’s Troll Market will instantly capture your imagination and make you forget all about it. It’s that damned good. For more on the film itself, check out our Hellboy II: The Golden Army theatrical review here. It totally nails it, and there’s so much to go through supplemental-wise that we need to get started immediately.

The film is available as three separate packages with unique features in each: a single DVD, a three-DVD set, and of course a two-disc Blu-ray edition. All are linked below for your purchasing needs, and the supplemental materials on each package have also been noted so you will know what you’re buying.

On all three releases you’ll be getting two commentaries, one with with director Guillermo del Toro and the other featuring cast members Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair, and Luke Goss. Sadly, Perlman is nowhere to be found here, and his presence is conspicuous and sorely missed. Still, both tracks offer a sufficient amount of bang for your buck, but brother, you haven’t seen or heard anything yet. Next up we have something called Set Visits, which offers viewers seven mini-documentaries on all of the various stages of the film. This is way cool, but each mini-doc pales in comparison to the next goodie — The Troll Market Tour with Guillermo del Toro. Through sketches, behind-the-scenes video, etc., Guillermo walks us through one of the best scenes in film history, and in the end if you’re like me, you’ll be thoroughly pleased and grinning from ear to ear. From there we have several deleted scenes with optional commentary by del Toro and an animated Zinco epilogue comic. Pretty sweet.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army on Blu-ray and DVDThe next set of features we’re talking about appear on the three-DVD set and the Blu-ray two-disc set only. The superstar supplement here is no doubt the over two-hour long making-of feature Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon. Honestly? We could do a whole other review on this alone. In it you will get every single in-depth bit of background and every snippet of behind-the-scenes info that you could possibly want to know about the creation of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. It’s a slam dunk! But wait … there’s more! Much more! Also appearing is something called Prologue, which serves as a special introduction to the DVD from del Toro, a Director’s Notebook that’s filled with interviews, image scans, and text from del Toro’s personal notebook, a concept art gallery, a banner and poster gallery, and finally a featurette called Production Workshop: Professor Broom’s Puppet Theatre that gives us a look at the making of the film’s incredible opening. Tack on the script for DVD Rom users and a digital copy for portable players, and we’re done!

Tired yet? I know I am, but there’s even more exclusive content to talk about! On to the Blu-ray. There’s no doubt Big Blu has been good to Big Red as there’s a bevy of exclusive and cool features to explore in this hi-def package. Let’s dive on in.

The picture quality and the sound mix on this Blu-ray are simply astounding. Flicks like this are what the medium was created for! Every detail of onscreen action is delivered in eye-popping fashion thanks to full 1080p resolution, and if you can support it, the 7.1 surround mix will have you drooling. 5.1 users needn’t worry, though, as that DTS HD audio track more than holds its own. But what of the exclusives? First and foremost full advantage has been taken of both BD-Live and Universal’s U-Control features. What’s that mean you ask? Strap in!

Hellboy II: The Golden Army on Blu-ray and DVDUsing B-D Live will allow you to do a lot of nifty stuff while watching the film like chatting with other people who are digging on the Hellboy II: The Golden Army Blu-ray at the same time that you are! Man, how far we have come, eh? You can also share your favorite scenes, peep a sneak peek at the upcoming release of Wanted, and to further feed your inner geek, there’s even a comic book builder that will enable you to craft your own story by taking stills from the movie and dropping them into a comic book format. From there these slivers of self-crafted cool can be e-mailed to friends or published via BD-Live buddy lists for others to enjoy.

Through U-Control there’s the Scene Explorer: Schufften Goggle View option that will let you watch scenes from the film as it progresses from storyboards to early renderings of the visual effects to finally the finished version of the movie. In addition to that there’s a Comic Book Back-Story Interactive Feature in which you’ll be able to click on motion pages throughout the movie and get some back story on each character. Finally, there are interactive versions of the aforementioned Set Visits and Director’s Notebook features that you can access via pop-up window while watching the movie. Seriously, does it get any cooler? Not much, that’s for sure.

There you have it! A mountain of a package to scale with a smile on your face. Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a movie you shouldn’t be without no matter what you buy it on. Either way you just cannot lose! Go ahead … click one of the links below and treat yourself! Wow. Just wow.

Special Features

  • Digital Copy (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • BD-Live enabled (Blu-ray only)
  • U-Control enabled (Blu-ray only)
  • My Chat (Blu-ray only)
  • Sneak Peek of Wanted (Blu-ray only)
  • My Scenes Sharing (Blu-ray only)
  • Comic Book Builder (Blu-ray only)
  • Scene Explorer: Schufften Goggle View (Blu-ray only)
  • Director’s Notebook Interactive (Blu-ray only)
  • Set Visits: Interactive vignettes (Blu-ray only)
  • Comic Book Back-Story Interactive Feature (Blu-ray only)
  • Feature Commentary with director Guillermo del Toro (all releases)
  • Feature Commentary with cast members Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair, and Luke Goss (all releases)
  • Set Visits (all releases)
  • Troll Market Tour with Guillermo del Toro (all releases)
  • Animated Zinco Epilogue Comic (all releases)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by director Guillermo del Toro (all releases)
  • Prologue: A special introduction to the DVD from director Guillermo del Toro (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • Pre-Production Vault (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • Director’s Notebook (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • Concept Art Gallery (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon featurette (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • Production Workshop: Professor Broom’s Puppet Theatre featurette (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • Image Gallery (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)
  • DVD Rom: Hellboy II: The Golden Army Script (Blu-ray and three-disc DVD set only)

    Film:
    “>“>“>“>“>

    5 out of 5

    Special Features:
    “>“>“>“>“>

    5 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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