Blu-ray Review “The Beast of Hollow Mountain / The Neanderthal Man”

Actors: Guy Madison, Robert Shayne
Directors: Edward Nassour, Ewald André Dupont
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Run Time: 159 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3 out 5 stars
Extras: N/A

When you see the cover art for Scream Factory’s latest double feature it no question just screams cheese! The 1950’s delivered some really great creature features and it also produced films like “The Beast of Hollow Mountain and The Neanderthal Man”. These films are not the worst for sure but they not the best either. I call these fun, kick back, drive-in films. These are maybe not in the cinematic term of classics but these remind me of films they show trailers for at Disney’s Sci-Fi Diner at Hollywood Studios.  So for what it is worth these still are able to draw me in.

Official Premise: “The Beast of Hollow Mountain” (1956): An American cowboy living in Mexico discovers his cattle is being eaten by a giant prehistoric dinosaur. “The Neanderthal Man” (1953): A mad scientist transforms himself into a prehistoric caveman*his cat into a saber-toothed tiger and his housekeeper into an ape person*which does not enhance his popularity.

Willis O’Brien may not be as well known as Harryhausen but he was still a big name when it comes to stop motion animation and it is well represented here on the Blu-ray for “The Beast of Hollow Mountain”. Scream Factory did a good job with this film’s 1080p transfer presented with an aspect ratio of 2.33:1. This CinemaScope production, which blended live-action and stop motion, is not perfect and shows its age but still acceptable for this type of film.  The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono also works for this film with the dialogue and roars from our dinosaur. There are no special features included for this film.

“The Neanderthal Man” has a few more problems than “The Beast of Hollow Mountain”. The 1080p transfer comes with an aspect ratio of 1.35:1, which is altered from previous releases. The special effects do not hold up as well within this high-def release but it almost adds a cheesy yet fun factor to it. This film also gets a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track which works quite well and is strong with the film’s score. There are no special features included for this film either.

 

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DVD Review “The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow”

Starring: Jack Angel, Fred Armisen, Hank Azaria, Gary Basaraba, Alan Cumming, Tom Kane, John Oliver, Melissa Sturm, Frank Welker, Adam Wylie, Anton Yelchin
Director: Stephan Franc
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: September 10, 2013
Run Time: 22 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I grew up watching “The Smurfs” as a kid back in the 80’s and have always loved watching them. In 2011, “The Smurfs” was made into a CG/Live-action movie, which because a huge hit.  “The Smurfs 2” was released this past summer and did not follow the same path as the first one.  I guess they smurfed up on it or something. “The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow” is a 22-minute short that continues the Smurfs adventures this time in a seasonal special.  Cute special for kids and could be a fun to revisit each year.

Official Premise: When Brainy Smurf is favored to win the annual Smurfberry Hunt for the ninth year in a row, Gutsy Smurf sets out to discover how Brainy wins every year. Gutsy’s investigation takes him into spooky Smurfy Hollow-and right into Gargamel’s trap! Can Brainy and Gutsy, with the help of Smurfette, put aside their rivalry before Gargamel captures them-or worse, they come face-to-face with the legendary ghost, the Headless Horseman?

The short film features the returning cast of Jack Angel (Papa Smurf), Fred Armisen (Brainy Smurf), Hank Azaria (Gargamel), Gary Basaraba (Hefty Smurf), Alan Cumming (Gutsy Smurf), Tom Kane (Narrator Smurf), John Oliver (Vanity Smurf), Melissa Sturm (Smurfette), Frank Welker (Azrael), Adam Wylie (Panicky Smurf), Anton Yelchin (Clumsy Smurf). So the effort is definitely there to bring back everyone involved and only left is Katy Perry (who probably costed to much) and the late Jonathan Winters.

I have admit, I was a little taken back at the fact that this DVD’s cover art suggests a CG animated short like the 2011 and 2013 films. The opening and closing of the show is in CG but the bulk of the story is a traditional animated short. This might disappoint the kids that are introduced to these new films and looking for a new chapter. There are no additional bonus features included here besides some Sony trailers. So the question becomes this is worth the $4.99 that it costs (via Amazon), which is very cheap but you are also getting a 22-minute film on DVD with no special features. So it is a toss up.

Blu-ray Review “Hollow Man / Hollow Man 2”

Actors: Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Greg Grunberg, Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan, Christian Slater
Directors: Paul Verhoeven, Claudio Fäh
Rated: Unrated / R
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
DVD Release Date: March 26, 2013
Run Time: 210 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When I think about Paul Verhoeven, I immediately think about the brilliant work he has done with “Robocop”, “Starship Troopers” and “Total Recall”, hell, even “Showgirls”…but I don’t really think about “Hollow Man”. The film was a see once and then forget about. Watching the film about on Blu-ray gave it a bit of new life. There are parts that I really liked and some I didn’t but overall it is a pretty good film. “Hollow Man 2” is exactly what you expect it would be. It is a lower budgeted direct-to-video film. It doesn’t reach half the standards of the first film due to time and budget but still entertains. Both of these films together on one Blu-ray seems like a no brainer, especially when it is less than $10 bucks. Can’t go wrong.

“Hollow Man” Official Premise: What would you do if you were invisible? How far would you go? After years of experimentation, Dr. Sebastian Caine, a brilliant but arrogant and egotistical scientist working for the Defense Department, has successfully transformed mammals to an invisible state and brought them back to their original physical form. Determined to achieve the ultimate breakthrough, Caine instructs his team to move on to Phase III: human experimentation. Using himself as the first subject, the invisible Caine finds himself free to do the unthinkable.

“Hollow Man 2” Official Premise: Christian Slater stars in the action-packed sequel to the box office hit Hollow Man as a volunteer soldier/assassin who goes mad after he turns invisible. A driven Seattle detective and the molecular biologist he s been assigned to protect, find themselves on the run from an undetectable solider gone rogue as he destroys everything in his path in order to find the serum to save his life and punish the unscrupulous scientists and agents of the government responsible for this creation.

Mill Creek delivered impressive audio and video and both films, even being compressed on one Blu-ray. The 1080p transfer for “Hollow Man” is sharp and clear, as was Sony’s 2007 Blu-ray. The audio is slightly different yet still very effective, boasting a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The action and the score sound great. “Hollow Man 2” has that direct-to-video feel but still looks decent with its 1080p. Same goes for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, which works well but doesn’t have the same suspense the first film did, also the score is not comparable. There are no special features on this release but at least “Hollow Man” comes with the director’s cut of the film. If you couldn’t care less about the sequel and want some extras you could always pick up the original “Hollow Man” Blu-ray from 2007, which still holds up.

Film Review “Hollow”

Directed by: Michael Axelgaard
Starring: Emily Plumtree, Sam Stockman, Jessica Ellerby, Matt Stokoe
Distributed by: Tribeca Film
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 85 minutes

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Unlike many, I am a big fan of the horror found-footage genre. “Hollow” has a cool story but really drags it feet getting started. The film spends the first hour getting warmed up and never really gets off and running. “Hollow” claims to be horror film but the only thing horroric is having to sit through this waiting for something to happen. If you are got time to burn and nothing better to do, this film is here but don’t expect since this film is quite hollow (Oh burn!).

Synopsis: An old monastery in a small, remote village in Suffolk, England has been haunted by a local legend for centuries. Left in ruin and shrouded by the mystery of a dark spirit that wills young couples to suicide, the place has been avoided for years, marked only by a twisted, ancient tree with an ominous hollow said to be the home of great evil. When four friends on holiday explore the local folklore, they realize that belief in a myth can quickly materialize into reality, bringing horror to life for the town.

Since the film is shot using handhelds there really isn’t much production value here at all. A film about a evil spirits around a haunted tree, I was hoping for something really cool here but alas let waiting. The acting is not bad but you can tell that they are all newcomers. I watch a lot of horror and I actually went to turn this off a few times throughout its short 90 or so minutes. If you are looking for a film with great scares be sure to check our “Grave Encounters 2”, also from Tribeca Film.

 

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