Film Review: “Three Identical Strangers”

Starring: Robert Shafran and David Kellman
Directed by: Tim Wardle
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 114 minutes
“Three Identical Strangers” is the best documentary thus far in 2018 and one of the best overall films of the year. The well-deserved recipient of a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for storytelling at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, “Strangers” is a compelling work that is thoughtful, compelling, moving and leaves a lasting impression for many moons after the credits have faded to black. Even though it’s been 38 years since long lost triplets miraculously reunited, it remains a story with ripple effects being felt to this very day.
Initially, “Strangers” reels us in with an infectious enthusiasm we feel radiating from Robert “Bobby” Shafran who describes with a gregarious smile how he stumbled upon his identical twin brother, Edward “Eddy” Galland. Their reunion made headlines across the country, but it became even crazier when a third brother, David Kellman saw doubles of himself in a newspaper. The triplets became overnight sensations and appeared on a multitude of media outlets at a blistering pace, which was only matched by their wild partying. Both David and Bobby recount those days, as well as how they started families, with great fondness. However, things start to take dark turn as “Strangers” begins to develop a grittier, tragic tone with its probe into how they were separated in the first place.
As it turns out, the triplets improbable, 1980 reunion in New York set a series of disturbing events in motion that began with a negative meeting between the brothers’ angry parents, who were upset their sons had been intentionally split apart, and an adoption agency with some shadowy backers. It’s paired with an author/journalist in Texas who uncovers a secret study that, as David describes, turned the brothers into lab rats.
The sinister background to it all begins with late child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr. Peter Neubauer (1913-2008). Neubauer was an Austrian Jew who was able to escape his Nazi-controlled country by fleeing into neutral Switzerland where he completed his training before moving in 1941 to New York City. It sounds heroic enough until we learn that like the Nazis he fled from, Neubauer initiated an inhuman, concentration camp-like experiment by orchestrating a program in which several sets of twins and one set of triplets, the brothers in “Strangers,” were deliberately separated during infancy as part of a clandestine “nature vs. nurture” experiment. Even more shocking is that it was the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services who helped Neubauer with a program that led to a variety of mental health issues among its unwitting participants as they entered adulthood.
Naturally, Bobby and David, among others, continually try to demand answers, but he ended the program in 1980, Neubauer, realizing his work would be controversial, had his study sealed upon his death at Yale University until the year 2066, thus insuring its participants would be dead by the time its findings would be released to the public.
“Strangers” is a superb example of documentary filmmaking as it entertains, educates and causes thought provoking discussion of the subject matter. All of director Tim Wardle’s interview subjects are engrossing to listen to and his overall storytelling flows naturally like winding stream. His work shines a light on a dark tragedy that almost disappeared into the shadows. This is a film that should not be missed.


Enter to Win Blu-ray Combo Pack of “The Strangers: Prey At Night”

To celebrate the Blu-ray release of “The Strangers: Prey At Night“, Media Mikes would like to give two of our fans a chance to win a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack of the film. If you want to win this great prize, please leave a comment below your favorite horror film and why? This giveaway will remain open until June 12th 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.

A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. Johannes Roberts, whose shark diving thriller 47 Meters Down was a smash hit,directs this horror film featuring Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), Bailee Madison (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), Martin Henderson (The Ring),and Lewis Pullman (Battle of the Sexes).


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Book Review “Strangers” by Michaelbrent Collings

Author: Michaelbrent Collings
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: June 5, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Move over Stephen King…Clive Barker…fuck it…even R.L. Stine, Michaelbrent Collings is taking over as the new king of the horror book genre. I am have to admit, I am not the biggest reader.  When I read a book, it really has to draw me in VERY quickly in order to keep my interest.  Well, there is something about the way Collings writes that grabs you by the neck and pulls you in immediately starting with the damn Preface.  In fact, this is the second book that I have completed from him in the last month, the last being (another great book), “Darkbound”. I am a sucker for a good horror/thriller, so maybe that is the case here but I need to highly recommend this book to everyone since I could not put this book down!

Here is the official premise of the book: You wake up in the morning to discover that you have been sealed into your home. The doors are locked, the windows are barred. THERE’S NO WAY OUT. A madman is playing a deadly game with you and your family. A game with no rules, only consequences. So what do you do? Do you run? Do you hide? OR DO YOU DIE?

The book contains over 100 chapters, but don’t freak out since they are super tight and literally each chapter makes you race to turn the page to see what happens next. Having read this on the Kindle app for my iPhone, when they would include an extra black page between chapters I thought that was very clever since it made you want it even more.  The story is slow to unwind, which is perfect to create the fantastic suspense that literally last to the very last page of the Epilogue.  There are constant twists and turns throughout.  When you think you have it figured out there is another curve thrown at you. If you haven’t of Collings work, I urge you to check it out! He is now one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to see what he has planned next.


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Blu-ray Review “Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train”

Actors: Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll
Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Run Time: 101 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Strangers on a Train” has always been one of my favorite Hitchcock pictures. It really shows him at his pure best. I know, I know “Psycho” is amazing but this is a completely different type of picture. It literally keeps you on the edge of your chair from once the plot to “exchange” murders begins on that train. Warner Brothers delivers a really fantastic 1080p transfer within it’s aspect ratio of 1.36:1. The black and white film looks so crisp and sharp. The audio is also near-perfect with its DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track. Dimitri Tiomkin’s score really secures your seat placement on your couch.  There are two different cuts of this film on the Blu-ray. There is the final release version, which we all know and love and then there is the preview version which runs about two minutes longer and features some alternate takes. They are subtle changes but if you are a hardcore fan of Hitchcock, you are going to want both versions.

The special features are ported from previous DVD releases but still great.  There is a jam-packed commentary track with Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Bogdanovich, Joseph Stefano, Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell and about fifteen others who pop in. Obviously, it is edited together and done very well. Next up with five behind-the-scene featurettes, including “Strangers on a Train: A Hitchcock Classic”, which is a nice chat with Peter Bogdanovich and a few others about film. “Strangers on a Train: The Victim’s P.O.V.” looks into the shot uses for Laura Elliot in the film (one of my favorite shots). “Strangers on a Train: An Appreciation by M. Night Shyamalan” is the “The Sixth Sense” director’s tribute to Hitchcock.  “The Hitchcocks on Hitch” is a chat with both Hitchcock’s daughter and granddaughter. “Alfred Hitchcock’s Historical Meeting” is a short extra with the director meeting up with actors made up as historical characters. Lastly there is the theatrical trailer included.

Premise: Before anyone though of “throwing Momma from the train,” the idea of a double “crisscross” murder has already been hatched. Or “hitched,” as in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train”. Tennis star Guy Hanies (Farley Granger) half-jokingly muses about killing his wife with a stranger he meets on a train, unhinged playboy Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker), who’d prefer his father be deceased. In theory, each could murder the other’s victim. Crisscross. No motive. No clues. No problem…except: Bruno takes the idea seriously, with deadly consequences.

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DVD Review “When Strangers Click”

Director: Robert Kenner
Distributed by: The Disinformation Company
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 52 minutes

Overall Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The internet really has everything from social networking to online shopping. Internet dating has really become a very popular medium for people to meet spouses over the years. This documentary focuses on five people that have used the internet to date and their stories. I have to give props to this film it was well paced and really kept my interest. All of the five stories were extremely interesting and provided great insight into the world of internet dating. I recommend this documentary with high regards.

The first of the five stories includes a woman Kim, who flew to Prague to marry a man she never spoke to. She finds he didn’t speak of lick of English except “Hello”. The two are happily married with children today. The next story is about Dave, who wasn’t very confident but ended up meeting many woman on the chat rooms and found his love, getting marrying and having a child. The next is about Beth who takes us on a journey of being single and turning 30. I really enjoyed her idea of walking around the city with a video camera filming her birthday wishes. She also ended up meeting her husband online, getting married and having kids. Ryan is next and his story is about his struggles being gay. He found “others” like him in the chat room and got wrapped up in politics scandal, when the closet Mayor of his city hit on him and many others. Jonas’ story is the last and focuses on a online website called Second Life, which is pretty much like “The Sims” but virtual dating. It also showed how he besides meeting his future wife and having a child, it also showcased how he was able to get picked up by a record label for his music. Great stories and each one better than the next.

If you are not aware of Robert Kenner, you need to be! He is the director of amazing documentaries like the Oscar nominated “Food, Inc”. The DVD comes stocked with some decent special features as well. We have one called “Bara & Director / Second Life Interview”, this was very interesting. I have never heard of Second Life prior to watching this. There is one deleted scene called “Cyber Cyrano”, worth checking out. Lastly we have a Q&A with the filmmakers, which is also very interesting. Overall very impressed with this film and this release.