The Divide Blu-ray review

            There are some moments of unnecessary melodrama that mostly contains a maddening amount of shouting, but the overall concept and execution of The Divide is spectacular. With all of the post-apocalyptic visions in recent cinema, The Divide takes a unique approach which is able to simplify the vision in a claustrophobic manner. Survivors of an unexpected nuclear attack by an unknown enemy are forced to barricade themselves in the basement of an apartment building in hopes of surviving.

            Some of what happens in the basement over time is rather predictable for anyone with a little bit of an imagination or previous viewing experience with post-apocalyptic films. Amidst this expected moments, however, are some shockingly unique and unexpected sequences. Even more fascinating is the film’s unwillingness to commit to any one genre. While it has elements of horror and suspense along with drama and melodrama, there is also a little bit of science fiction and action thrown into the mix. All that is really missing is humor. At just over two hours, this is a grueling viewing experience which may be too intense for some. Genre fans owe it to themselves to see this film, though it is just short of spectacular.

            There are nine strangers trapped in the basement together. They are both fortunate and unfortunate enough to have a resident superintendent living in the basement, who just happens to be an apocalypse fanatic. He has the basement stocked with food and water, though the provisions were meant for him and not all of his guests. The reality of having to share his supplies with ungrateful tenants unnerves him, causing problems with some of the more riled up survivors. Milo Ventimiglia (“Heroes”) is especially frightening in the transformation as time passes within the basement.

            The Blu-ray includes an audio commentary with director Xavier Gens, as well as actors Michael Beihn, Michael Eklund and Milo Ventimiglia. There is also a trailer, though the highlight is simply having this visual spectacle in high definition.

The Terror Experiment Blu-ray review

            The Terror Experiment is beyond just being bad. It is nearly so awful, so depraved of every single element of common-sense filmmaking, it almost becomes enjoyable. Almost. Not quite. Instead of making me laugh at the poor production values, the terrible script and the atrocious acting, I was simply cringing through the entire 82 minutes of embarrassment.

            I don’t mean to be cruel. I watch a lot of bad films. I’ve seen so many that I am almost surprised when a movie is actually good, especially in the horror genre. The Terror Experiment doesn’t even qualify as mildly amusing. It is an unoriginal concept with an offensively sloppy execution.

            When a deranged man sets off a biological weapon in a federal building, a group of strangers are forced to stick together in order to survive. This doesn’t work well and eventually they all seem to turn against each other anyway. There are also the victims of the biological weapon, which turns humans into violent zombie-like creatures fueled with pure aggression. The outside of the building is quarantined off and the survivors are forced to fend for themselves within the building.

            There are no special effects are make-up effects within The Terror Experiment which would warrant a high definition presentation. The Blu-ray is an unnecessary upgrade for a film like this. The special features include an audio commentary by executive producer /director George Mendeluk.

The Wicker Tree Blu-ray review

            The Wicker Man is on the BFI’s list of the top 100 British films. A film like that should not be touched or messed with, which is why I found the Nicholas Cage remake to be unnecessary. The Wicker Tree makes that remake look like a masterpiece. Original writer/director Robin Hardy returns to the subject, though this has only tarnished the image of the original. Even a guest appearance by The Wicker Man star Christopher Lee is unable to save this mess of a film.

            Part of the problem with this return to the same subject matter is that it can never live up to the shocking nature of the original. We already know from the very beginning that all of the villagers we meet are actually insane members of a pagan cult. This time it is a na├»ve young couple from Texas who are pulled into a ridiculous new ceremony in a rural Scottish community.

            The couple (played by Brittania Nicol and Henry Garrett) are on an odd missionary trip, attempting to spread the word of the Lord to the Scottish people. Apparently they have not heard of Christianity yet. She is a former sex-object teen pop star, turned born-again Christian artist. This seems like an odd choice for a person to kidnap and kill, but we are asked to accept this major plot hole from the very beginning.

            The Blu-ray offers very little excitement to an already unimpressive film. There is a making-of featurette as well as some deleted scenes and a trailer. The high definition is not altogether forgiving on the shoddy filmmaking, from the special effects to the simple production values. The only reason for the high definition seems to be in order to see the copious amounts of flesh as clearly as possible.

Let the Bullets Fly Blu-ray review

            Let the Bullets Fly is full of bullet ballet moments which seem inspired by a John Woo film, though it also has a plot that is worthy of a classic western and some slapstick which is often oddly closest to films like Kung-Fu Hustle. Not all of these elements always line up smoothly within the film, but individually there are some great sequences. The storyline is what truly makes the movie engaging, playing out like a chess game between two violent men.

            Legendary bandit Pocky Zhang (Jiang Wen) and his numbered gang members attempt to make easy money with train robberies. When they attack a carriage holding a con man governor (Ge You), Zhang is given the opportunity to make a great deal more money with a scheme. They enter the town as Goose Town as governor, but find that the town is under the iron fist of Master Huang (Chow Yun-Fat). Huang is rich and ruthless, soon giving Zhang reasons beyond money to destroy him. These two brilliant and violent men go to battle against each other passively, manipulating and maneuvering in secret until the final blowout.

            There is plenty of action in Let the Bullets Fly, but the focus remains much more on the maneuvering of the two men than it does gunplay. There is far less spectacle than I was expecting, and fans of gun films may find themselves a bit disappointed in that respect. Fortunately, there are enough other strong elements to make up for the minimal gunplay within a film with bullets in the title.

            The high definition does look spectacular, as the film has great production values even with less action than hoped for. The special features are lacking, however, including only trailers and an English Language track for those too lazy to read subtitles.