Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo (1996) quietly released on U.S. DVD by Mill Creek Entertainment

The Canadian animated cartoon, The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo, created by CineGroupe and distributed by Astral Programming Enterprises and Hearst Entertainment, and based on the classic Victor Hugo novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, focuses on the adventures of Quasimodo and his friends Esmeralda the gypsy and Francois the poet in medieval Paris, as they meet various characters, including various villians, and fight sinister plots and deadly traps. Their biggest enemy is the embodiment of all evil, Frollo.

I recently came across this cartoon late last September on a Canadian VHS released by the now-defucnt Canadian VHS outfit Astral Video, which featured the 2-part pilot episode, and I have to admit, I became intrigued by it. I never did see it as a kid, mostly because it aired on Canadian television and European television around the same time Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame was released. Good animation, along with excellent voice acting, notably the voice of Canadian character actor, Vlasta Vrana as Frollo, and well-crafted plots, are what make the show worth watching. As for Quasimodo himself, he actually does more than just ring the bells of Notre Dame, among other duties. He never puts himself before others, is adventurous, brave, and kind. He does not let his hunchback get in his way and does not care what others think of him.

I recently acquired the complete series, released by Mill Creek Entertainment quietly in 2009/2010, for $6 on Amazon. This box set features all 26 episodes on 2 discs. I haven't watched all of the episodes on this set yet, but from what episodes I have seen so far, quality on said episodes seem to be okay. Audio is in English and is of acceptable quality as well, though I have read on an Amazon review that there is a glitch where at least one episode on this set has Spanish audio heard beneath the English audio. I am not sure which episode this is, as I have yet to encounter it, but as soon as I find out, I will report back on it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Some quick thoughts on Dancin' thru the Dark (1990) + Screencaps from the 2012 British Lace Entertainment DVD

Mike Ockrent's Dancin' thru the Dark (1990), based on Willy Russell's play "Stags and Hens", is quite an interesting and humorous unknown gem.  While quite well known in the United Kingdom, it, unfortunately, is not as well known here in the United States as it is across the pond. Humorous moments, good acting, which is almost stage play-like, interesting Liverpool locations, and excellent dialogue and upbeat soundtrack really make the film so good.

Linda and Dave are about to get married. While she is on her hen night, Linda starts to have doubts about getting married.  Her doubts start getting major when her fiance, whose on his stag night, shows up at the same Liverpudlian night club she is celebrating at, and when the club's band happens to be led by her ex-boyfriend Peter. While Linda does eventually overcome her doubts, she still has a big decision to make. Will she settle down and marry Dave, or will she chuck everything away and run away with Peter?

I first saw this film on YouTube back in April of 2011. I really liked it and was repulsed by its obscurity here in the U.S. After a few more viewings on YouTube, I finally decided to purchase Lace International's Region 2 DVD of the film, released back in March. The film is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio and looks spectacular. The only downside is that the DVD, despite the popularity of the film, has no bonus features whatsoever, not even a trailer. Still, this DVD is worth the purchase, especially for fans of British cinema. I should mention however, that prior to this DVD being released, the only other DVD release of this film was incidentally, here in the United States, but on a bootleg DVD from notorious bootleg outfit Jef Films. I have not seen that DVD and never will since that DVD had quality that was even worse than the British VHS of that film. Thankfully, with this spectacular widescreen release, that U.S. DVD has pretty much vanished into digital obscurity and was already out of print by the time this new DVD arrived.

Once again, I highly recommend this film and DVD. And for those who would like to purchase this DVD but concerned about compatibility due to this being a region 2 release, I also highly recommend investing in a region-free DVD player as well.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some quick thoughts on Death Junction (1995) + Screencaps from the rare Greek DVD release

I've been a fan of Jalal Merhi's films for maybe since February of 2009 after watching Tiger Claws one time on YouTube. I eventually acquired some of his films on VHS including Tiger Claws and Tiger Claws 2, Talons of the Eagle and TC 2000, among others. Many will disagree with me, but his movies are quite fun in my personal opinion.

I found one film of his that does not seem to have seen much of a release back in January of 2011. That film was Death Junction (1995), directed by John Bradshaw (The Big Slice) and veteran Canadian actor Al Waxman (Cagney and Lacey, The King of Kensington). I had seen a trailer for it on YouTube back in August of the year before and that along with its rarity got me all the more interested.

The movie centers around Johnny (Phil Morrison - The Big Slice, Prom Night 4) who is a small time drug pusher for Toronto crime boss Eddie Vegas (Brad Milne - Zombie Strippers, Crisis). Johnny and Eddie are on extremely good terms until a major shipment is stolen and Johnny is falsely accused of stealing the shipment after it is found in his bedroom by Eddie and his men. Now all Johnny has is himself as he fights back against the man who framed him but at the same time, Eddie and his men have a bounty on Johnny's head too! Meanwhile, Toronto police lieutenant Jenkow (Waxman, in what is merely a special appearance) is dead set towards putting a stop to the violence.

For a low-budget martial arts crime thriller, the film is quite gritty and violent but enjoyable. There are some good martial arts scenes along with a catchy score by Merhi's in-house composer Varouje and some of the scenery in the more urban parts of Toronto are quite effective in my personal opinion. Morrison and Milne play their parts quite well.

As I've said, the film has not really seen much of a release outside of Canada, but in January of 2011, I found on eBay, a rare Greek budget DVD quietly released by an outfit called Modern Times, which seems to have released mostly Martial Arts films onto DVD in Greece, including the Canadian Martial Arts camp classic Dragon Hunt (1990) and Sometimes a Hero (AKA: Cold Vengeance) (2003), the latter of which is another Jalal Merhi production.

The DVD comes in a slim plastic case, similar to many DVDs found at the dollar store or bargain bins and has 6 chapter stops. The presentation is in full screen, but the quality is actually quite good, despite some minor artifacts and glitches that pop up a few times. In one scene there is some VHS tracking-like thing that shows up, which suggests that a tape master may have been used for this release. The DVD does also come with hard-coded Greek subtitles, which cannot be removed, but then again, I can't really complain. Sound is decent as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eliminators (1986) - 1986 U.S. Playhouse Video VHS vs. 1986 Canadian Cineplex Odeon/MCA VHS

Now here's a real favorite of mine! This Charles Band produced Sci-Fi action flick Eliminators has been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since renting it at the now-out of business Hollywood Video on Woodway here in Houston at the age of 10. Some really great action, neat effects, especially for it's time, and a plot that does, in my personal opinion, make the film really all the more awesome.

I've had the Playhouse Video VHS since 2008 when I found it at a local Mom & Pop store for just a dollar. Only recently I obtained the even rarer Canadian VHS from Cineplex Odeon/MCA through a Facebook deal. Like with any other Canadian tape of a film I already have a U.S. tape of, I wanted to post some pictures of the 2 tapes to compare them with.

Like with a few others, the only real difference, or advantage between the two tapes is that the Canadian VHS can actually be backed up onto a DVD-R, while the U.S. VHS is copy-protected. Once again, the only downside is that the Canadian VHS lacks Closed Captioning, while the U.S. VHS had subtitles.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Some screenshots from the British Hollywood DVD release of Hired to Kill (1990)

Here's a budgeted British DVD release of Nico Mastorakis's 1990 Action classic Hired to Kill (1990) that sort of got a quiet release in 2002 by a company called Hollywood DVD. Try to picture this as the kind of movie that would be playing on The Simpsons' TV set, as one IMDb reviewer said.

Mercenary Frank Ryan (The Terminator's Brian Thompson in a rare leading role) is recruited along with seven beautiful women to rescue a rebel leader jailed on a Greek Island fortress. Ryan and his fellow female soldiers pose as a fashion designer and his models on tour to avoid any sort of suspicion from the Island's flamboyant dictator (Tommy's Oliver Reed). All I can say is if you manage to find a copy on any format, pick it up. You will not regret it.

Meanwhile, the British DVD has a surprisingly good Widescreen transfer that's properly anamorphic but has only one bonus feature, the film's trailer. The sound quality is on the same level as well.


Looks like I finally got the Flash issue with Firefox resolved. At least for now. All I had to do was go into RealPlayer and disable Web downloading and recording. Who would've thought it?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Multi-Topic post: Happy 1st of October + Some quick thoughts on J. Christian Ingvordsen's The Outfit + The Outfit (1993) USA MCA/Universal Home Video VHS vs. Canadian C/FP Video release

First off, I would like to wish who ever may see this a Happy first of October!

Now onto the second part. I've been a pretty big fan of indie action director/producer J. Christian Ingvordsen for about 2 1/2 years now. Some of my favorites from Ingvordsen include Blue Vengeance, Mob War, Covert Action and The Outfit, which I want to discuss today. I'm not even afraid to admit that I also enjoyed Hangmen and Airboss. But enough of that! Anyway, Ingvordsen's The Outfit (1993) is a really good yet violent gangster movie in the same style as Billy Bathgate or to a further extent, The Untouchables. Some good performances, especially from the main advertised actors, Lance Henriksen (Near Dark, Aliens, The Terminator), Billy Drago (The Untouchables, Cyborg 2), and Martin Kove (The Karate Kid 1, 2 and 3, Rambo: First Blood Part II). Fun fact: The cover makes it seem like Kove's character is a bad guy, when in actuality, his character is a good guy and the boss of our hero of this film, undercover FBI agent Bone Conn played by Chris himself, who reguarly casts himself in his films. One of the flaws I've noticed is some poor editing, but for that alone, I can't help but imagine that some of this film's more violent scenes had to be cut to avoid an NC-17 rating. All in all, fun stuff. 8/10 from me.

Thrid and finally, I've had the original 1993 MCA/Universal Home Video VHS for sometime and more recently obtained the Canadian C/FP Video tape released around the same time. The differences betweent the two tapes are that the U.S. VHS has trailers for How U Like Me Now (1992) and TC 2000 (1993). The Canadian VHS has no previews. The major difference between the two tapes and what the Canadian tape has over the Universal tape is that the Canadian tape can actually be backed up onto a DVD-R for safekeeping, while the Universal VHS, like with many Universal tapes, is copy protected.

The one similarity that the two tapes has is that both tapes are closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Saturday, September 22, 2012 &

It's pretty weird as to how you can log onto other Amazon sites with your regular Amazon login, but not or

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Is this for real?

Seriously, $90 for a movie that's already widely available on DVD? And the fact that a rather questionable Blu-Ray is included only makes matters worse. Price gouging should be really be illegal.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Busted Up (1986) 1987 US MCA Home Video VHS + 1987 Canadian Cineplex Odeon/MCA VHS

I've had the MCA Home Video VHS of Conrad Palmisano's Busted Up for about 4 years now. I remember purchasing it many summers ago for just a buck. A pretty good bare knuckle boxing drama, based on writer/co-producer Damian Lee's pre-film career as a bare knuckle boxer in Peru. I recently obtained the Canadian VHS released by Cineplex Odeon/MCA and I wanted to post some images that compare the 2 tapes. The only real difference, or advantage between the two tapes is that the Canadian VHS can actually be backed up onto a DVD-R, while the US VHS is copy-protected. The only downside however, is that the Canadian VHS lacks Closed Captioning, while the US VHS had that.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blind Fear (1989) - 1989 Malofilm Home Video VHS vs. 2002 Platinum Disc DVD

To start things off, I actually really enjoyed this partially unknown Canadian thriller which has a nice twist ending to boot. But what I wanted to do today is make comparisons between the original Canadian VHS from Malofilm, started by French-Canadian producer Rene Malo, fyi, and the 2002 Platinum Disc DVD, which is sourced from the Malofilm VHS. I recently bought the Malofilm VHS and transferred it to a DVD-R and noticed some improvements over the Platinum Disc DVD, which I've had since January. One of the few improvements that this DVD-R has over the Platinum DVD is that when the DVD-R is played on my computer, the sound comes out of both speakers, while on the Platinum DVD, sound only comes out of the right speaker. The Platinum DVD also has some encoding errors such as brief pixels that show up during the film, while this DVD-R thankfully, lacks that. The biggest improvement however, is the picture quality. The Platinum DVD had sort of a green tint to it, and looked a bit rough too, while on this DVD-R, picture is a little bit softer yet clearer.

Here are some pictures for comparisons:

 1989 Malofilm Home Video VHS

2002 Platinum Disc DVD