Recent Reviews

Key Largo (Blu-ray)
The Warner Archive Collection has long been responsible for bringing many of Warner Bros.' most interesting films and television series to home video, but their release slate in the early months of this year has been particularly remarkable. In the space of four short weeks, they're bringing to Blu-ray long-awaited editions of Hitchcock's I Confess and The Wrong Man, two cuts of The Big Sleep on a single disc, and, in another Bogart and Bacall pairing, Key Largo.

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Humphrey Bogart stars as the world-weary Frank McCloud, a veteran who's spent the years following WWII circling the country. The former officer's travels have now taken him to just about the southernmost point of the United States. A couple of brusque thugs snarl that the Hotel Largo is closed for the season, but Frank pays it little mind; it's not as if he's here to stay. Once he's met with the family of one of the men who fell under his command -- George's widow Nora (Lauren Bacall) and grieving, wheelchair-bound father James (Lionel Barrymore), who run the hotel -- he'll be back on a bus heading who knows where. Frank sets the Temples' minds at ease, noting how exceptionally their son and husband had served their country and that George did not suffer at the end. Afterwards, the two of them encourage Frank to stay the night. Some prickly loon may have bought out the entire hotel, but it's not as if they're at a loss for empty rooms.

Frank's timing couldn't have been worse. He's arrived just as a mammoth hurricane is bearing down on the Florida Keys. Even worse, he and the Temples are trapped inside the hotel with notorious mobster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson), who's returned from exile to reclaim his criminal empire.

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Gun-toting mobsters inside and a hurricane outside:...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Key Largo]

The Black Sleep (Blu-ray)
A kitchen nightmare? Oh, if only it were that simple for this Gordon Ramsay (Herbert Rudley). Unjustly convicted of the vengeful murder of a moneylender to whom he was deeply in debt, the once-revered surgeon is hours away from a trip to the gallows. After being hanged until dead, his remains are scheduled to be dissected for the benefit of science. One of his professors from decades past, Dr. Cadman (Basil Rathbone), meets with Ramsay the night before his execution. He's arranged for his former pupil's remains to receive a proper Christian burial, and to ease the pain of the noose, Cadman offers Ramsay the gift of a rare Punjabi drug he calls the Black Sleep. Ramsay never does make his appointment with the gallows, however, discovered dead in his cell the following morning. True to his word, Cadman has his gypsy cohort Odo (Akim Tamiroff) carry away the man's lifeless body.

...lifeless, that is, until he's awoken once again.

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You see, the Black Sleep is more than just the sedative it's made out to be, instead inducing a state all but indistinguishable from death. Cadman explains that he couldn't possibly allow a mind as gifted as Ramsay's to meet such a grisly end. The aging doctor's young wife (Louanna Gardner) has lain comatose for the better part of a year, and to remove her brain tumor without ravaging any of the gray matter around it, Cadman needs to more thoroughly chart the human mind. To achieve that, he'll need a capable assistant. I snatch you from the clutches of death; you help me restore my wife to the lively woman she once was. Quid pro quo. To remain free of the authorities' watchful eyes, Cadman spirits Ramsay away to his remote Gothic lair, complete with hidden passageways and a secret laboratory. It's hardly the two of them alone in the...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Black Sleep]

Hangman (Blu-ray)
"I think I need a vacation after that vacation!" Yeah, good one, Dad (Jeremy Sisto). He and Mom (Kate Ashfield) are still grabbing luggage out of the trunk as the kids (real-life siblings Ryan and Ty Simpkins) head inside and realize what's happened. The entire damned house has been turned upside down. In the two weeks the Millers have been away, someone broke in through a kitchen window and made themselves right at home: ate their food, slept in their beds, watched their home movies, rifled through their daughter's drawers, scrawled some kind of hangman in the shower with ketchup, and generally just tore through the place like a fucking tornado. It's gotta just be some bored kids looking for a laugh, right? Some vagrants who stumbled upon a cozy place to squat for a couple weeks? No matter who's to blame, the cops say the place is clear now and that this is an increasingly familiar story. Lesson learned. Clean up as best they can. Try to move on with their lives.

The only thing more terrifying than that sort of violation...? He's still there.

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Hangman is a found footage film that...wait! Stop! I get that your kneejerk reaction upon hearing "found footage" is to immediately click away to another review or whatever, but director Adam Mason and co-writer Simon Boyes really do make exceptional use of the format. In the weeks that the Millers were away, this lone, nameless lunatic has stationed cameras and microphones throughout their home. From his hidden control center in the attic, the Hangman leers at the family at their most exposed...learns their most closely guarded secrets...and watches them over and over and over. Unlike most found footage flicks where you're inevitably left wondering "wait, so why is he still filming this?", the killer's compulsion to...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Hangman]

More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 2/13: Donovan's Brain (1953) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 2/13: Donovan's Brain (1953) (Blu-ray)
  • 2/12: Final Exam (Blu-ray)
  • 2/11: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Theatrical)
  • 2/10: Key Largo (Blu-ray)
  • 2/8: The Black Sleep (1956) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 2/8: The Black Sleep (1956) (Blu-ray)
  • 2/6: Hangman (Blu-ray)
  • 1/31: Sleeping with Other People (Blu-ray)
  • 1/30: The Wrong Man (Blu-ray)
  • 1/28: Zombeavers (Blu-ray)
  • 1/21: Lizard in a Woman's Skin (Blu-ray)
  • 1/18: Zoolander (Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/18: Trailer Trauma (Blu-ray)
  • 1/17: Ant-Man 2-Disc 3D BD Combo Pack (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 2/11: The Mutilator (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 2/5: Strange Brew (1983) (BD) (Blu-ray)
  • 2/4: Spectre (Steelbook) (Blu-ray)
  • 2/2: Donovan's Brain (1953) (Blu-ray)
  • 2/2: The Black Sleep (1956) (Blu-ray)
  • 2/2: Final Exam (Blu-ray)
  • 2/2: Gravy (Blu-ray)
  • 2/1: Key Largo (Blu-ray)
  • 2/1: Hangman (Blu-ray)
  • 1/27: Tenebrae (Limited Edition Steelbook) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/22: Mercy Street (Blu-ray)
  • 1/21: The Wrong Man (Blu-ray)
  • 1/20: Zombeavers (Blu-ray)
  • 1/15: Zoolander (Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/14: The Martian (Uhd)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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