Blu-ray Review “Live by Night”

Actors: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller
Directors: Ben Affleck
Rated: R
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: March 21, 2017

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

I was flat out surprised with the lack of success around Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night”. Personally, I think it was affected by his nonstop headlines with his role of Batman. Fans are torn on him now between popularity. This film I enjoyed. I love Affleck in it as well as his script and his direction. Affleck does best when he is in control of his story and shots. I also loved the supporting cast including Elle Fanning and Brendan Gleeson. This film also came out a tough time of the year during award season. The studio wasn’t pushing this film for awards hard enough and it ended up hurting the film as it disappeared like other missed attempts like “Silence”.

Official Premise: Taking fatherly advice is not in Joe Coughlin’s nature. Instead, the WWI vet is a selfproclaimed anti-establishment outlaw, despite being the son of the Boston Police Deputy Superintendent. Joe’s not all bad, though; in fact, he’s not really bad enough for the life he’s chosen. Unlike the gangsters he refuses to work for, he has a sense of justice and an open heart, and both work against him, leaving him vulnerable time and again—in business and in love. Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him and those close to him, Joe heads down a risky path that goes against his upbringing and his own moral code. Leaving the cold Boston winter behind, he and his reckless crew turn up the heat in Tampa. And while revenge may taste sweeter than the molasses that infuses every drop of illegal rum he runs, Joe will learn that it comes at a price.

Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (“The Aviator”, “Hugo”) captures the film’s time setting perfectly within its 1080p transfer. Surprisingly this film has a Dolby Atmos available to choose from, which don’t get me wrong is amazing but seems overkill. There is also a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The special features are lacking including the rather boring of the audio commentary track with Ben Affleck, Director of Photography Robert Richardson and Production Designer Jess Gonchor. There are three featurettes focusing on the characters, cast interviews and the car chase scene. Lastly there are some deleted scenes included optional commentary.

 

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  • CD Review: 3 Doors Down “Us And The Night”

    “Us And The Night”

    3 Doors Down
    Republic
    Producer: Matt Wallace
    Tracks: 11

    Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    The Grammy Award-nominated 3 Doors Down is back with a brand new album titled “Us And The Night”. The album which is being released via Republic Records is the first album to feature new material from the chart topping Mississippi natives in five years. Produced by Matt Wallace (Maroon 5, O.A.R.) the album features 11 tracks chocked full of the groups signature rock

    With five years between the bands last album “Time of My Life” and “Us And The Night” is was certainly more than anxious to see where the band would take things with their most recent release. The 11 tracks which make up the groups sixth studio album all have potential to be hits as the album is spilling over with pop like hooks which are set nicely against a rock and roll background making for a great listening experience. From the driving bass lines of “In The Dark” to the chugging solo infused “Believe It” the band does a good job revisiting their hard rock roots while expanding on their musicality with tracks like the expansive “Inside of Me” which blends piano and acoustic filled verses with huge crescendoing choruses while the track “Pieces of Me” is on the other side of the spectrum featuring a scaled back arrangement that despite less instrumentation is an equally powerful performance.

    Time away certainly did not hurt 3 Doors Down as their latest offering has everything fans have come to expect from the band who brought us hits like “Kryptonite” and “Here Without You” and maybe a little more. “Us And The Night” is packed with an even blend of pop appeal and edginess which harkens back to the band’s debut release. Though there are a few slower moments on the records I could have done without with as I much more prefer the harder side of this band however the album mixes things up nicely and is an enjoyable listen.

    Track Listing:

    1.) The Broken
    2.) In The Dark
    3.) Still Alive
    4.) Believe It
    5.) Living In Your Hell
    6.) Inside of Me
    7.) I Don’t Wanna Know
    8.) Pieces of Me
    9.) Love Is a Lie
    10.) Us And The Night
    11.) Fell From the Moon

    Film Review “The Night Before”

    Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie
    Directed By: Jonathan Levine
    Rated: R
    Running Time: 101 minutes
    Columbia Pictures

    Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

    Not since “Bad Santa” has a vulgar comedy elicited this much holiday joy. If you’re looking for something besides the network television claymation specials and the obligatory “A Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” showings on TV, “The Night Before” is a much welcome sight at the box office.

    While Christmas is sweet like milk and cookies for most, the holidays are a spoiled milk time of year for Ethan (Gordon-Levitt). That’s because when he was younger, his parents passed away on Christmas Eve. There to help pick Ethan up that day were Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie). Like any good (or bad depending on how you view it) friend, they helped Ethan get over the tremendous loss with drugs and alcohol, and thus a tradition was born.

    Every Christmas Eve, the three young wise men head out into New York City, do drugs, check out Christmas lights while high, get drunk, sing karaoke, and consume massive amounts of Chinese food. But something has evaded them, the Nutcracker Ball. It’s a mysterious event that takes place in a secret location one day a year, barely known amongst the general populous. Flash forward 14 years later, Isaac is preparing for his first child, Chris is dealing with football fame, and Ethan is dealing with another holiday tragedy. It’s time for one more drunken hurrah for the three, including some stolen tickets to the coveted Nutcracker Ball.

    “The Night Before” spikes the eggnog and laces the mistletoe with hallucinogens, but it accomplishes that rare Christmas miracle, of making my Grinch heart grow three sizes. Most holiday movies feel unnecessarily cheesy with their forced warmth, but “The Night Before” has a genuine heart. A lot of that credit can go to Jonathan Levine, who struck pay dirt with Gordon-Levitt and Rogen before in “50/50”, another film that plucked the right heart strings.

    What Levine’s movie tragically suffers from is an ADD direction. It feels a bit long as the script hurriedly goes from idea to another. Some of those ideas are a wonderfully constructed laugh riot and at other times those ideas seem like everyone was comfortable settling for a predictable chuckle. Rogen handles the bulk of comedy, while Gordon-Levitt handles the emotion, and Mackie completes the trio by being the bridge and glue between the two extremes.

    The three are complemented by a slew of others. There are some shameless appearances by real life stars that feel more forced than natural. But the real gem of the movie is Michael Shannon. Shannon plays a prophetic drug dealer that crosses paths with the three and serves as a spiritual leader for the three, with pot of course. Jillian Bell does a great fill-in as Rogen’s pregnant wife and helps set-up some of the best jokes for Rogen to spike to the audience.

    “The Night Before” is a familiar movie, but that’s because it enriches itself with an understanding of what makes a Christmas movie. It takes the plot devices from holiday stories like “A Christmas Carol” and others, but it adds its own flavor to them. Some are more obvious than others while some are clearly used to make that one person in the audience smile. “The Night Before” is a complimentary movie to the upcoming holidays, whether it be to laugh with friends and family or to alleviate the mounting stress we face.

    ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Cirque Dreams Unwrapped and the Elf on the Shelf Set to Wow Guests at the Annual Christmas at Gaylord Palms Celebration

    ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, CIRQUE DREAMS UNWRAPPED AND   THE ELF ON THE SHELF® SET TO WOW GUESTS AT THE ANNUAL CHRISTMAS AT GAYLORD PALMS CELEBRATION

    KISSIMMEE, Fla.  – (July 15, 2015) – ‘Twas the summer before Christmas and all throughout the 4.5 glass-enclosed atrium, everyone was stirring with anticipation over the 2015 Christmas at Gaylord Palms season.  With ICE! in the tent, snow tubing in the hall and 2-million lights strung with care, everyone wondered – could there be more to this holiday affair? But of course…

    Don a kerchief and get to the Gaylord Palms Resort to experience the astonishment of everyone’s favorite poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in nearly 2 million pounds of hand-carved vibrant ice sculptures. This year’s ICE! presented by Pepsi attraction will also feature four slippery ice slides, live carving stations inside of the Artisans in Action Frostbite Factory and back by popular demand, On the Blocks, the exclusive adult-only ICE! bar.

    Christmas at Gaylord Palms includes myriad offerings for every age. Guests can experience the adrenaline of Alpine Rush Snow Tubing – an 18’ 8-lane giant snow hill created with 1.5 million pounds of real Florida snow.

    Not a thrill seeker? How about an elf seeker? The all new The Elf on the Shelf® Scavenger Hunt ignites the inner sleuth and takes guests on a journey throughout the holiday-clad hotel. Participants will follow clues and scan the hotel to spot the 10 scout elves who have landed at Gaylord Palms. By solving puzzles and finding all of the elves, guests will reveal the elves’ names so they can report back to Santa. All families that complete the scavenger hunt will win a special prize.

    Once you have found the last scout elf, make your way over to the Emerald Bay Stage for the world premiere of the all-new Cirque Dreams Unwrapped. Guests will be dazzled by an array of seasonal characters brought to life in a dreamscape of imaginative costumes and creativity, while stunning feats of showmanship are unwrapped, performed on stage and in the air, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats.   Broadway director and Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg is bringing the famed entertainment brand to Orlando for the first time in the company’s 22 years with this exclusive show. The entire family can enjoy this uniquely inspired 25-minute Christmas dream presented with the Broadway style and inventive theatrics for which Cirque Dreams is renowned.

    The season’s hottest couple, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will also be a part of the festivities. Photos with Santa will take place in Santa’s Workshop located in Alpine Village and Mrs. Claus will be a part of the all-new Brunch with Mrs. Claus at the award-winning Villa de Flora.

    Alpine Village, the holiday attraction hub, will also feature the Gingerbread Decorating Corner presented by PEEPS ®, Snowy’s Snack Shack and holiday shopping galore.

    If that’s not enough, wander through the atrium’s lush gardens (over 500,000 plants) sprinkled with poinsettias, grand holiday displays, the famous 54-foot-tall majestic Christmas tree and more than 2 million twinkling lights.

    In addition to the holiday happenings, hotel guests can enjoy fish and alligator feedings, relax at Relâche Spa with themed-seasonal treatments, plunge into Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park and indulge in holiday dining at our eight delectable restaurants. Whether you enjoy a filet, fresh seafood, pasta or a burger – we guarantee there is something to whet your appetite.

    Christmas at Gaylord Palms is open daily from November 24, 2015 – January 3, 2016, including holidays. Packages are on sale today. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to ChristmasatGaylordPalms.com.

    Gaylord Palms Resort is located five minutes from the gates of Walt Disney World at 6000 W. Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34746.

    Be sure to “Like” Gaylord Palms on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information and special deals and promotions!

     

    About Gaylord Hotels®

    Gaylord Hotels® is a collection of hotels and upscale resorts that affords endless opportunities for leisure travelers and conventioneers. The brand’s hallmark—“everything in one place”—provides guests with diverse dining options, quality spa and fitness center services, top-notch entertainment, on-site shopping and endless activities. Gaylord Hotels is a pioneer in the hotel and convention industry with properties in the nation’s most desirable destinations. Gaylord Hotels include Gaylord Opryland® in Nashville, Tenn.; Gaylord Palms® in Kissimmee, Fla., near Orlando; Gaylord Texan® on Lake Grapevine, Texas; Gaylord National® on the Potomac River in National Harbor, Md.; and The Inn at Opryland® in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit www.GaylordHotels.com.

    Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is a leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 4,000 properties in 78 countries and territories and reported revenues of nearly $13 billion in fiscal year 2013. The company operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts under 18 brands. For more information or reservations, please visit our web site at  www.Marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.MarriottNewsCenter.com.

     

    About Cirque Dreams

    Over 50 million people have experienced a Cirque Dreams show in theatres, casinos, theme parks, cruise lines, and on Broadway.  Now in its 22nd Year, Cirque Dreams shows have garnered the praise of critics around the country from USA Today, Associated Press and the New York Times to CNN, Today Show and Fox & Friends.  Producer and Director Neil Goldberg has been declared “One of today’s leading theatrical impresarios” by The LA Times and “Uniquely ingenious” by the New York Daily News. The Cirque Dreams franchise is a globally recognized entertainment brand including, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, Cirque Dreams Rocks, Cirque Dreams Holidaze and Cirque Dreams & Dinner onboard Norwegian Cruise Line.

    For more information, visit www.cirqueproductions.com.

    The Elf on the Shelf ® and © (2015) CCA and B, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

     

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    Film Review “Run All Night”

    Starring: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman and Ed Harris
    Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
    Rated: R
    Running time: 1 hour 54 mins
    Warner Brothers

    Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

    When we first meet Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) he’s flat on his back with a bullet in the side, trying to explain how he got that way. Though the story is a little long, it’s well worth learning.

    Jimmy and Shawn Maguire (Harris, in another outstanding character role) have been friends for almost five decades. Doing what they needed to do to earn a living, they both found themselves on the wrong side of the road. However, while Shawn has become a very successful “businessman,” Jimmy likes to drink and play cat and mouse with a police detective (Vincent D’Onofrio), who is trying to pin no less than 17 murders on Jimmy. Both men have sons – Shawn’s boy, Danny (Boyd Holbrook) is a chip off the old block while Michael Conlon (Kinnaman) has distanced himself from his father, earning money as a limo driver while teaching inner-city youths how to box. When a deal Danny organizes, against his father’s wishes, goes bad, Michael inadvertently finds himself on the wrong side of things, causing him to reluctantly have to rely on his pop.

    Gorgeously filmed (director Collet-Serra and cinematographer Martin Rhue give New York City its own starring role in the film) and strongly acted, “Run All Night” is another in a long line of “bad ass with a heart of gold” roles for Liam Neeson. Here he plays a tough Irishman who drinks, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t much of a stretch. And while he’s very good here, as he is in pretty much everything he does, I miss the romantic Neeson…the “Love, Actually” Neeson. Here he gets to mete out some fatherly advice while constantly making sure that Michael never fires a shot, afraid he will follow him down hell’s path. The best part of the films are when Neeson and Harris meet up and talk about their lives and their plans. Both men are mesmerizing on screen and they’re fun to watch. They know that their sons are suffering because of them and when they’re in the same room together, the tension grows so fast you may need to take a breath on occasion. The film does manage to run a little long, and an almost “forced” reminder of the New York Rangers hockey team take a little glow off of the film, but all in all, it’s a well recommended film!

    Win Passes To See “Run All Night” in Kansas City on March 11th [ENDED]

    So successful was our giveaway last week that, once again, Media Mikes is teaming with Warner Brothers to give (50) of our readers (and a guest) another chance to see the upcoming film, “Run All Night,” this coming Wednesday night in Kansas City.

    The film, which stars Liam Neeson and Ed Harris, will be shown on March 11, 2015 at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. The screening will start at 7:30 p.m.

    All you have to do is go to http://www.wbtickets.com/MediaMikesRAN to receive your pass for (2). Passes are on a first-come, first-served basis. Good luck!

    http://www.runallnightmovie.com
    https://facebook.com/RunAllNightMovie

    Enjoy the “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Game”! Available now

    To celebrate the release of “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Game” next week, we wanted to share you with a fun digital game called “Knight Flight”. The object of the game is to help Larry collect as many artifacts as you can find while racing through the staircase maze.

    Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings back to life your favorite museum heroes in NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB available on Blu-ray and DVD March 10. Families around the globe have come out to see the hysterical third and final installment in the franchise, which has grossed more than a billion dollars. Now, parents and kids can not only enjoy the best ‘Night’ ever, but also get their hands on a bonus Digital HD movie: their choice of either Night at the Museum or Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

    Win Passes to the Kansas City Advance Screening of “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” [ENDED]


    Media Mikes has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to give (25) random readers (and three guests) a chance to attend the advance screening of “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

    The screening will be held on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at the Legends 18 theatre in Kansas City, Kansas. The screening begins at 10:00 a.m.

    All you have to do is go to http://www.gofobo.com/main/sweepstakes/medianight and register. On Thursday, December 11, 2014, (25) random entries will be selected and those selected will receive a pass for (4) to attend this special screening.

    “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Robin Williams, opens on Friday, December 19, 2014

    Official Site: www.NightAtTheMuseumMovie.com
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/NightAtTheMuseumMovies
    Rating: Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.

    Synopsis:
    Get ready for the wildest and most adventure-filled Night At the Museum ever as Larry (Ben Stiller) spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever

     

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    Blu-ray Review “Prom Night: Special Edition (1980)”

    Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Jeff Wincott, Anne-Marie Martin, Robert A. Silverman, Mary Beth Rubens
    Director: Paul Lynch
    Rated: R (Restricted)
    Studio: Synapse Films
    Release Date: September 9, 2014
    Run Time: 92 minutes

    Film: 4 out of 5 stars
    Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    Who doesn’t remember the classic 80’s tagline “If you’re not back by midnight, you won’t be coming home!” That is honestly something that films today lack, which is a solid memorable tagline! Synapse is behind this brand-new 2K high definition transfer which was taken from the original 35mm camera negative. Plus who doesn’t love seeing Jamie Lee Curtis in a bra in HD? 😉 They give this film a lot of love and it has never looked better. The film also still holds up today and hopefully will wipe the horrible remake from our memory. A must for any horror fan and perfectly times for the Halloween season.

    Official Premise: Jamie Lee Curtis (“Halloween”) and Leslie Nielsen (“The Naked Gun”) star in this celebrated slasher horror classic. Four Hamilton High seniors are hiding a terrible secret. What happened to Robin Hammond six years ago was a game that turned into a horrible tragedy, and someone saw what they did… someone waiting for gruesome revenge! Wearing a black hood and wielding an axe, a killer brutally slaughters the teenagers one by one at their high school prom. As the spotlight falls on the newly crowned prom king and queen, the psychopath will show everyone his new favorite game to play…

    The Special Edition Blu-ray release for “Prom Night” comes with a great Blu-ray presentation. The 1080p transfer for this film with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio is really outstanding. You can see that a lot of time and effort went into this restoration. Synapse Films also includes a solid brand new 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround track. It works well with the suspense and the film’s score. Also included with this Blu-ray is the original 2.0 Mono track, but the new track is personally my choice here.

    The special features are fantastic like the film. There is over 10 minutes of additional footage from the original NBC TV Broadcast. There is a brand new 40+ minute behind the scenes featurette called “The Horrors of Hamilton High: The Making of Prom Night” with select cast and crew interviews. There is a decent commentary track with Director Paul Lynch & Screenwriter William Gray. Lastly there are Never-Before-Seen Outtakes From Prom Night and a Motion Still Gallery that are both Exclusive to Blu-ray along with the Original Theatrical Trailer & Television Spots, rounding out these great extras.

    Blu-ray Review “Silent Night, Deadly Night: 30th Anniversary Edition”

    Actors: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Eric Freeman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Linnea Quigley
    Directors: Charles E. Sellier, Jr.
    Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    Studio: ANCHOR BAY
    Release Date: September 16, 2014
    Run Time: 85 minutes

    Film: 5 out of 5 stars
    Blu-ray: 2 out of 5 stars
    Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

    I can honestly say that I feel old celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the horror cult classic “Silent Night, Deadly Night”. I loved this film growing up as a kid (and nothing as changed today). I mean who doesn’t love the idea of a killer Santa Clause. This is the first time that this film has ever been released on Blu-ray but Anchor Bay sadly gives this film no love at all and it will surely just enrage any true horror fan. Recommended only for the very true avid collectors, otherwise stick with your DVDs.

    Official Premise: “Silent Night, Deadly Night” is the heartwarming story of little Billy Chapman who was traumatized by his parents’ Christmas Eve rape and murder, then brutalized by sadistic orphanage nuns. But when a grown-up Billy is forced to dress as jolly St. Nick, he goes on a yuletide rampage to ‘punish then naughty’. Santa Clause is coming to town…and this time he’s got an axe!

    So I am happy with the fact that this Blu-ray includes the original unrated version, but I am not thrilled that the transfer feels like nothing better than a DVD upscale. Also the uncut scenes are not cleaned up at all and stick out like a sore thumb. This could have easily been cleaned up in the restoration process. The audio included is not terrible boasting a decent Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track.

    Then we get to the special features, which are definitely going to let down again. Firstly, they are missing the original trailer which started all the controversy and protecting about the film. There is a new commentary track from Writer Michael Hickey, Composer Perry Botkin, Editor/2nd Unit director Michael Spence and Co-Executive Producer Scott J. Schneid. It is new but is also quite a bore and almost painful to listen to. Lastly there is the unauthorized interview from director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. and Poster and Stills Gallery included.

    There is plenty of effort they could have put into this release but you can tell that it is frankly just lazy. Lame special features, mixed with a poor 1080p transfer, I am left shaking my head with disappointment. When you look at what other companies like Scream Factory, Synapse Films and Grindhouse Releasing are doing with there releases, Anchor Bay is falling into the discount bargain bin category.  This is definitely not a  30th Anniversary Edition quality release.

     

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    Book Review “Mickey & Friends Mickey’s Spooky Night”

    Age Range: 6 – 8 years
    Grade Level: 1 – 3
    Board book: 24 pages
    Publisher: Disney Press
    Release Date: July 22, 2014

    Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

    I have no idea how or why but my two year old daughter absolutely loves Halloween. Every since her first Halloween when she was around six months we would take her pumpkin picking, so I guess it rubbed off. Funny also, here favorite TV show on Disney Junior is “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”, so this book is a great combination of both.

    Official Premise: Mickey Mouse has decorated his whole house for a Halloween party. But when Minnie, Donald, and the others show up, they can’t find Mickey. Instead they just find one scary thing after the next! This gently spooky storybook is perfect for Halloween.

    The book is quite big and meaty for the kids. The pages are hard stock and work well with those little hands that are unable to turn paper pages. To make things even more impressive, there is also a great Mobile App included for iPhone and iPad! “Read and Play”.

     

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    Blu-ray Review “Hell of the Living Dead/Rats: Night of Terror (Blood Soaked-Double Feature)”

    Actors: Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Geretta Geretta
    Directors: Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso
    Rated: Unrated
    Studio: Blue Underground
    DVD Release Date: August 26, 2014
    Run Time: 198 minutes

    “Hell of the Living Dead”: 4 out of 5 stars
    “Rats: Night of Terror”: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
    Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

    When I see an announcement from Blue Underground, I can’t help but get excited since they always find a way to release some crazy cult classics that I loved growing up. Case in point, their new ‘Blood-Soaked Double Feature’ Blu-ray, which includes both “Hell of the Living Dead” and “Rats: Night of Terror”. These are great Italian horror films that deserve a great release. I remember the first time I rented these on VHS and was drawn in by their fantastic boxes when I walked down the horror isle. So these were a great trip down memory lane.

    Both of these films are directed by the legendary Italian director Bruno Mattei, who is also known for “Emmanuelle in Prison” and “SS Extermination Love Camp”. When you think of ’80s Italian shockers, these are always two that come to my mind. They are jam-packed with over-the-top gore, twist endings, humor and still hold up today. It’s been a while since I have seen these films but they are still just as fun and shocking.

    Official Premise “Hell of the Living Dead”: An accident at a chemical plant unleashed a horrific virus, and an elite SWAT team is sent to New Guinea to investigate. But when they arrive on the hellish island, they discover a plague of flesh-eating zombies as well as a beautiful female reporter who practices nude anthropology. Can the commandos survive this cannibal rampage, uncover a shocking government secret and still find time for occasional cross-dressing before the ravenous hordes of the living dead infect the entire world?

    Official Premise “Rats: Night of Terror”: In the year 225 A.B. (After the Bomb), a group of post-apocalyptic bikers discover an abandoned research laboratory filled with food, water…and thousands of rats. But these are no ordinary vermin; these are super-intelligent mutant rodents with a ravenous appetite for human flesh. Can a bunch of heavily armed but not-too-bright human scavengers survive a night of terror against the most hungry and horrific predators on earth?

    Blue Underground didn’t just throw these on Blu-ray, they really delivered them with some extra love. These were both given brand-new high definition transfers from their original uncut and uncensored negatives. These films have never look better personally. Blue Underground could have just dropped these on a disc and called it a day but instead, they really make sure they were giving a solid release to the fans. These films also come with solid DTS-HD Master Audio Mono tracks, both films sound great. So if you are a horror fan, these are a must.

    In terms of special features, there is some decent content. There is a newly-produced documentary called “Bonded By Blood”, which includes interviews with Co-Writer/Co-Director Claudio Fragasso and Stars Margit Evelyn Newton, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua & Massimo Vanni. There is also an interview with Director Bruno Mattei in the extras “Hell Rats Of The Living Dead”. Other than that there are some Theatrical Trailers and Poster & Still Galleries included here.

    Blu-ray Review “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection)”

    Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
    Director: Richard Lester
    Number of discs: 3
    Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    Studio: Criterion Collection
    DVD Release Date: June 24, 2014
    Run Time: 87 minutes

    Film: 5 out of 5 stars
    Blu-ray: 5 out of 5 stars
    Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

    The Beatles is one of the best bands EVER. They have changed pop culture forever. Their music is eternal and will never be forgotten. I can sum this Blu-ray up in one word…SPECTACULAR. If you are a Beatles fan, you NEED this release. If you don’t have a Blu-ray player, go out and buy one! “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night” was released on Blu-ray back in 2009 to a pretty poor release. If you felt burned that one all you need to know is that this is being released under the Criterion Collection and that means perfection. The music in this film is just so amazing. Tell you that you don’t belt out these classic Beatles tracks like “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Tell Me Why”, “If I Fell”, “And I Love Her”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and “I Should Have Known Better” while watching or even thinking about this film.

    Official Premise: In 1964, the Beatles had just recently exploded onto the American scene with their debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The group’s first feature, the Academy Award-nominated “A Hard Day’s Night,” offered fans their first peek into a day in the life of the Beatles and served to establish the Fab Four on the silver screen, as well as to inspire the music video format.

    Criterion is releasing this as a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. The film itself has been recently given a spectacular 4K restoration from the original camera negative for this Blu-ray. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, I cannot stress how stunning this transfer looks. 5/5 stars is simply not high enough. Also this release is also director approved, so you can not just take my word but also Richard Lester’s word. The black and white is so sharp looking and you couldn’t tell that this was shot nearly 50 years ago.

    Since The Beatles are obviously known for their music, the audio tracks on this release are very important. There are a few different tracks on this Blu-ray. My favorite has to be the LPCM mono track. It is extremely clear and the songs are very well balanced. When I cranked up a few of the songs, they just sounded absolutely perfect. Same goes for the dialogue in the film, it sounded great as well. There is also a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which was made by Apple Records. Personally, this track works best with the songs, of course. Both very impressive and two different experiences, to be honest.

    The special features are jam-packed and quite outstanding for this release. “Anatomy of a Style” feature story editor and screenwriter Bobbie O’Steen and music editor Suzana Peric discussing the film’s music sequences including “A Hard Day’s Night”, “I Should Have Known Better”, “Cant Buy Me Love”, “And I love Her” and “She Loves You”. “In Their Own Voices” includes behind-the-scenes stills and footage from the making of “A Hard Day’s Night” as well as clips from audio interviews a few of the Beatles. “You Can’t Do That: The Making of A Hard Day’s Night” is the 1994 documentary, produced by Walter Shenson (producer of “A Hard Day’s Night”) and narrated by Phil Collins featuring cast/crew from the film and runs just over an hour.

    “Things They Said Today” is a  documentary from 2002 that focuses on long term success of “A Hard Day’s Night”. “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” is a short film that was shot by Richard Lester in 1959 and features Richard Lester, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Graham Stark, and Bruce Lacey. “Picturewise” is a  new video essay focuses on the production history of “A Hard Days Night” and Richard Lester’s directing style. This was written and produced by critic and filmmaker David Cairns exclusively for Criterion. “The Beatles: The Road to A Hard Day’s Night” is a new video interview with Mark Lewisohn, author of “The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1 — Tune In”, which was also conducted exclusively for Criterion in 2014.

    But wait, there is still more…there is an audio commentary track from 2002 created from material produced by Martin Lewis and features actors John Junkin, David Janson, and Jeremy Lloyd; cinematographer Gilbert Taylor; associate producer Denis O’Dell; second assistant director Barrie Melrose; assistant editors Pamela Tomling and Roy Benson; and others. There are two trailers including the 2000 re-release and the 2014 re-release.  Lastly there is an fantastic illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Howard Hampton.

     

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    The Oak Ridge Boys’ Richard Sterban talks about new live album “Boys Night Out”

    Photo Credit: Jarrett Gaza

    Richard Sterban is best known as the bass singer for the country and gospel quartet The Oak Ridge Boys since 1972. He started off his career singing with the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Going 40+ years strong, the band is currently touring around 150 days a year and shows no signs of slowing down. On tax day, April 15th, the band is releasing their first live album “Boys Night Out”. So if you have any money left over, I would highly recommend checking it out. Media Mikes had the privilege to chat with Richard about the live album, singing with Elvis and non-stop touring.

    Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the new album “Boys Night Out” and why a live album now?
    Richard Sterban: This is something that our fans have wanted for a long time. Our fans always tell us that they love our studio albums but that live and in person we are so much more exciting. So we decided that it was time to capture that excitement on a CD. It seemed like every time we were going to try and record a live album, we would get an opportunity to do a new studio album whether it would be a new country album, Christmas album or Gospel album. So we always put the live album on the backburner, so to speak. Last year, we just decided we were going to record some of our shows live. We ended up recording eleven live shows and between all of those we chose out what we thought were the best cuts that would describe a live Oak Ridge Boys show. I think it turned out really well.

    MG: How much planning when into picking the playlist for this album?
    RS: There were certain songs that we felt had to be included, “Elvira” for sure and “Thank God for Kids” was another. Then we listened to the input of Cleopatra Records, who we just recently signed with. It was a combination of their input and what we wanted. We just put our heads together and came up with fourteen songs. I feel that it is really a great example of a boys night out with The Oak Ridge Boys.

    MG: What was it like starting your career singing with Elvis? How do you top something like that?
    RS: I have had a pretty excited life and career. For two years prior to joining The Oak Ridge Boys, I sang with JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet and I had a chance to sing with the King of Rock and Roll, which was really exciting. I got a call one day that the bass singer from The Oak Ridge Boys” was leaving and they wanted me to take the job. So I had to make a very important decision. I loved singing with the King of Rock and Roll…lip-singing with Elvis but I joined the Oak Ridge Boys and I have gone on to bigger and better things with them.

    MG: I know that you also have a book out that also covers your early years with Elvis and through your amazing career with The Oak Ridge Boys.
    RS: Yes, I do have a book out called “From Elvis to Elvira”. It is my life story and is filled with tons of great stories. It is available on my personal site RichardSterban.com, Amazon.com or catch up with us at a show and I will have them with me to sell and sign if like.

    MG: Over 40 years with The Oak Ridge Boys, what continues to drive you?
    RS: I think it is several things but the most important is that even after 41 years we still enjoy doing what we do. We look forward every night to getting up on that stage and taking our music live to our audiences. We are still having fun doing this and I think that is the most important. We also love the creative process of going into the studio and creating new music. So that is what keeps us going.

    MG: Why do you think that generations of fans are still following you guys today?
    RS: We pride ourselves on that. There is no question that we have gotten older and our core audience has aged along with us. But we are really considered family entertainment. There is something for every family at our shows whether you are a grandpa/grandma or a young kid. We encourage parents to bring their kids to their show as well. Our shows are definitely fun for the whole family.

    MG: Which of your songs really gets you going the most when you are on stage?
    RS: Naturally, I would have a tendency to levitate to “Elvira”. That is our biggest song and everyone has to hear “Elvira” at our shows. We have tons of other really great songs. I think one of the most meaningful songs that we ever recorded is “Thank God for Kids”. We do that song every night and we look out in the audience and see parents hugging their kids and people holding hands. It is pretty emotional. Now at our age, when William Lee Golden sings this song at the end he says “Thank God for Grandkids too!” [laughs] We are all grandparents now and I hate to admit this but last week I became a great grandfather as well, so that is definitely something amazing.

    MG: Can you reflect on music today in the age of Facebook, Twitter and other social media?
    RS: We try to pay attention to that. Duane Allen is on Facebook all day and keeps the fans posted there. Joe Bonsall, our drummer, is on Twitter all day. There is an advantage to being in a group since you can spread the responsibility out. I am not a big social media guy. I am on Twitter though. I spend my time doing the old fashion thing, like we are doing right now. I talk to

    Photo Credit: David Bean

    newspapers and radio stations all the time. So that is the function that I serve. In this day and age, we have a lot of ways to get the news out and we are really embracing it.

    MG: You guys never seem to rest; tell us about your non-stop touring this year?
    RS: We average about 150 days a year on the road. You can tell by looking at our schedule this year going to be no exception, in fact probably more. But it is what we love doing. We look forward to each night and sharing our music with our fans and that is why we are still going strong. Touring is a big thing for us and we love getting out there and doing it. Health is probably the key to our future. I think as long as the four of us continue to enjoy good health then we are going to keep getting out there and touring.

    Win Opening Night Tickets to see Rod Stewart and Santana in Albany, NY [ENDED]

    Media Mikes is teaming up with AEG Live to giveaway two (2) opening night tickets to ROD STEWART AND SANTANA: THE VOICE, THE GUITAR, THE SONGS North American Tour in Albany, NY.  If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this amazing prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Rod Stewart and Santana songs. This giveaway will remain open until April 11th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

    Rod Stewart and Santana, two of music’s most influential hit makers and dynamic live performers, will join forces and embark on an 18-concert North American tour this summer. Kicking-off May 23 in Albany, NY, the tour unites two musical trailblazers who have helped redefine the sound of popular music for the last five decades through their combined love of rock, soul, world rhythms, funk, jazz and blues. Both Stewart and Santana are known for their high-energy, hit-packed live concerts — making the combination an incomparable experience for all music fans.

    With his singular voice, narrative songwriting and passionate live performances, Rod Stewart has built one of the most successful and enduring music careers of all time. In a career spanning more than five decades, he has amassed sales of more than 150 million albums worldwide and has countless chart-topping hits and industry accolades – including two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was bestowed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen of England. In May 2013, Stewart released Time, his first rock album in a dozen years, on Capitol Records. The album features 11 original tracks and marks Rod’s return to songwriting after nearly two decades. Time entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 1, setting a new British record for the longest gap between chart-topping albums by an artist — and in the US, it marked Stewart’s highest-charting album of original material since 1979. In addition to touring, Stewart headlines one of Las Vegas’ most critically and commercially successful residencies at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

    For forty years and as many albums later, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. To date, Santana has won ten GRAMMY ® Awards and three Latin GRAMMY ® Awards. He won a record-tying nine GRAMMYs for a single project for 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”). He has also received the Billboard Century Award (1996), was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1998), and received the Billboard Latin Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement honor (2009). Among many other honors, Carlos Santana has also been cited by Rolling Stone as #15 on their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Celebrating the chart debut of Guitar Heaven (Arista) in 2010, Santana joined the ranks of the Rolling Stones as the only musical act in chart history to score at least one Top 10 album in every decade beginning with the 1960s. He is also currently headlining at a multi-year residency at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. In 2013, Carlos Santana was the recipient of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Award. Santana’s new album CORAZÓN (RCA/Sony Latin Iberia) due out May 6, 2014 is a collaborative effort with the biggest names in Latin music.

    ROD STEWART AND SANTANA: THE VOICE, THE GUITAR, THE SONGS North American Tour Itinerary 2014

    May 23 – Albany Times Union Center
    May 25 – Uncasville Mohegan Sun
    May 27 – Pittsburgh CONSOL Energy Center
    May 31 -Buffalo First Niagara Center
    Jun. 3 – Louisville KFC Yum! Center
    Jun. 6 – St. Louis Scottrade Center
    Jun. 7 – Lincoln Pinnacle Bank Arena
    Jul. 31 – Eugene Matthew Knight Arena
    Aug. 2 – Vancouver Rogers Arena
    Aug. 4 – Calgary Scotiabank Saddledome
    Aug. 5 -Edmonton Rexall Place
    Aug. 8 – Winnipeg MTS Centre
    Aug. 10 – St. Paul XCEL Energy Center
    Aug. 12 – Denver Pepsi Center
    Aug. 14 – Kansas City Sprint Center
    Aug. 16 – Rosemont Allstate Arena
    Aug. 19 – Washington DC Verizon Center
    Aug. 20 – Wantagh, NY Jones Beach

    For additional tour/ticket info visit: http://thevoicetheguitar.com/