New Art Book Featuring Amorphis, Metallica, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Behemoth, Judas Priest, Opeth, Obituary, And More

Veteran metal/rock journalist, Ramón “Oscuro” Martos, has finally published his eagerly awaited metal art book, …AND JUSTICE FOR ART: STORIES ABOUT HEAVY METAL ALBUM COVERS – VOLUME 2. This one-of-a-kind collection of graphics and stories reveals all the particulars behind the making of now-legendary album art including Slayer’s Hell Awaits, Judas Priest’s Screaming For Vengeance, Morbid Angel’s Altars Of Madness, Metallica’s Death Magnetic, Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell, Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime, Emperor’s In The Nightside Eclipse, Death’s The Sound Of Perseverance, Type Of Negative’s Bloody Kisses, Carcass’ Surgical Steel, Amorphis’ Tales From The Thousand Lakes, Soulfly’s Archangel, Behemoth’s The Satanist, Opeth’s Sorceress, and many others. 

The stories behind these iconic works are told through more than one-hundred exclusive interviews with metal icons like Max Cavalera (Soulfly), Jeff Walker (Carcass), Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer), K.K. Downing (ex-Judas Priest), Satyr (Satyricon), David Vincent (ex-Morbid Angel), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Luc Lemay (Gorguts), Ihsahn (Emperor), Paul Mazurkiewicz (Cannibal Corpse), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), and so many more. Additionally, the collection features insightful interviews with legendary illustrators such as Eliran Kantor, Dan Seagrave, Travis Smith, Valnoir, and Costin Chioreanu, who also designed the book’s stunning front cover. 

“This new book features 252 color pages and more than 400 images. It provides firsthand information about hundreds of graphics, which are presented in extremely high quality,” Ramon Oscuro comments. “Although this is a direct continuation of the first volume published in 2015, it’s also a true standalone book. Readers will be able to discover images and stories that haven’t been published until now. This volume is the product of three years of intense work and insightful research. Working on it was an amazing experience.” 

Several musicians have expressed their enthusiasm for the …AND JUSTICE FOR ART book series. Soulfly’s Max Cavalera — who penned the new book’s foreword — has thanked the author, “for helping to keep alive the ritual of the album cover.” Vltimas/ex-Morbid Angel frontman, David Vincent crowned …AND JUSTICE FOR ART, “a historical document about the importance of metal album covers.” Cattle Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan proclaims, “this is exactly what the music world needs to remind us how important album covers have been to all of us that grew up surrounding ourselves with physical media.” 

…AND JUSTICE FOR ART – VOLUME 2 was funded through a successful crowdfunding campaign launched by Oscuro via Indiegogo. The current edition is limited to 300 copies and is exclusively available at THIS LOCATION. Each copy is personally signed by the author.View the book’s teaser video at THIS LOCATION.

DVD Review “Ella the Elephant Season 1 Volume 1: The Magic of Friendship”

Voices of: Addison Holley, Annick Obonsawin, Avery Kadish, Devan Cohen, Helen Taylor
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Run Time: 188 Minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Ella the Elegant Elephant” premiered on Disney Junior this past February, which is based on the book series written by Carmela D’Amico and illustrated by Steven D’Amico. I would like to say that I absolutely love this series but my daughter never really latched on to the show. It is cute following Ella the Elephant and her magical red hat through stories about fun, friendship, love and laughs but the show just didn’t stand a chance about others like “Sofia the First”, “Doc McStuffins” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”. It is still hard to say no to that cute face and who knows maybe this DVD will allow us to become bigger fans of this show.

Official Premise: Journey to an island of adventures where the magic of friendship has never been so much fun! Join Ella and her kindhearted friends in this all-new animated series featuring eight charming episodes. Elephant Island is home to many curiosities but Ella and her friends’ appetite for fun lands them in some tricky, often hilarious situations. It’s up to Ella’s imagination and her magic red hat to save the day! It’s a must-own collection of delightful stories centered on highlighting teamwork, lessons and adventure for the whole family to enjoy.

“Ella the Elephant Season 1 Volume 1: The Magic of Friendship” contains eight episodes from the seires including: “Ella’s Got Talent/Safety First”; “Trunk Trooper/Ella in Charge”; “Girls’ Club/Soapbox Squabble”; “Treasure Hunters/Ella Borrows Trouble”; “Ella Bakes a Cake/Camp Ella”; “Ella on the Ball/Up, Up and Away”; “Tea Party Trouble/Home Again” and “Ella’s Carnival/Monkey Business”. There are no other special features included on the DVD other than the episodes. With 26 episodes created for the first season, we can surely expect another two volumes of this show to complete the season.

Book Review “Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook (Volume 3)”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Storybook Collection (Book 3)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Disney Press; 3 edition
Release Date: June 17, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When my wife and I started dating back in 1999, she gave me the first volume of the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook. I have always loved that book. The stories are so timeless and give you the ability to open it up at any time and revisit your favorite Disney stories very easily. I thought to myself that I was going to hang on to this book until I have kids one day and then this would make a great bedtime book. Fast forward 15 years, we have a two year old together now and there is a third volume of this series released perfect timing for our daughter bedtime story reading tradition. If you love Disney, this book is a must own.

This new third edition of Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection retells some of Disney’s best known stories, including “Cinderella”, “Peter Pan”. “Lady and the Tramp”, “The Love Bug”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Bambi” and “Pinocchio”. Also included are some lesser-known but still classic tales such as “Pluto Pup Goes to Sea” and “The Flying Car”. This updated collection also contains over 300 beautiful pieces of vintage art as well as gilded pages. This book is perfect to just flip through of to look at the wonderful artwork or to sit down and read these wonderful stories. Each story is not to long either, so as I stated they are perfect for bedtime stories. I hope Disney doesn’t wait too long to release a fourth volume because we are already half way through the book.

DVD Review “Challenge of the Gobots: The Series, Volume One”

Starring: Lou Richards, Arthur Burghardt, Frank Welker, Bernard Erhard, Bob Holt, Marilyn Lightstone, Sparky Marcus, Leslie Speights, Morgan Paull, Phil Hartman, B.J. Ward, Brock Peters, Peter Cullen
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Archive
Run Time: 660 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Being a young boy in the 80’s, I used to be glued to watching cartoons all day and night. Thankfully, Hanna-Barbera helped me grow up with there endless supply of cartoons. “Challenge of the Gobots” was based on the Gobots toy-line released from Tonka. Warner Archive has been behind this series for a while now as they released the “Challenge of The Gobots: The Original Miniseries” back in 2011. This volume one collection includes the first 30 episodes in this 65 episodes series. Hopefully we will not have to wait as long for volume two. Getting a chance to revisit this show has been such a treat and reminded me how much I love giant transforming robot cartoons. I just do. Love them as a kid and nothing has changed now 30 years later. A must have for any 80’s cartoon fan!

Official Premise: They’re mighty robots and mighty vehicles are back at last! Cy-Kill! Leader-1! Cop-Tur! Turbo! Crasher! Scooter! The noble Guardian GoBots and the nefarious Renegade GoBots continue the war begun in The Battle for GoBotron (see Challenge of the GoBots: The Original Mini-Series) across time and space in their epic 60 episode series that comes to you factory fresh and newly remastered – from the original film elements! With Earth as their chosen staging ground, the Renegades deploy Earth’s worst such as the deranged Dr. Braxis (voiced by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Rene Auberjonois) in their quest to conquer Earth and GoBotron, so it’s a good thing the Guardians have Matt, Nick and AJ of UNECOM on their side! This 30-Episode, Three-Disc set collects the first half of the series and finds the amazing, metamorphosing cyborgs taking their fight to Ancient Rome, lost Atlantis and back to GoBotron in a series of adventures that will leave you shouting for “MOAR”!

The first 30 episodes included are: Battle for GoBotron; Target Earth; Conquest of Earth; Earth Bound; The Final Conflict; It’s the Thought That Counts; Renegade Alliance; Time Wars; Terror in Atlantis; Trident’s Triple Threat; Lost on GoBotron; Cy-Kill’s Shrinking Ray; The Quest for Roguestar; Ultra Zod;
Sentinel; Cy-Kill’s Cataclysmic Trap; Speed is of the Essence; Genius and Son; Dawn World; Pacific Overtures; Forced Alliance; Invasion from the 21st Level Pt. 1 & 2; Doppelganger; Scooter Enhanced; Tarnished Image; Cold Spell; Crime Wave; Auto-madic and Renegade Rampage Pt. 1. They are presented with their aspect ratio of 1.37:1. They look good but haven’t been restored. I am personally happy to have them available on DVD for the first time ever in one collection. Bring on volume two!

Blu-ray Reviews “Gamera: Ultimate Collection – Volume 1 & 2”

Created by: Yonejiro Saito
Portrayed by: Teruo Aragaki, Umenosuke Izumi
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 29, 2014
Run Time: 345 / 343 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Besides me, who simply cannot get enough of giant monsters battling giant monsters. Originally conceived as a rival to Toho’s “Godzilla” franchise, “Gamera” has become a cult classic series. With its tagline “Guardian of the Universe. Friend of all children!”, the giant turtle has protected the people of Japan and kicked some monster ass for many years starting back in 1965. These two new volume Blu-ray sets are available for the first time ever, thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment.

Each of these volumes include four of Daiei Studios’ monster series in the Showa series including “Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965)”; “Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)” , “Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)” and “Gamera vs. Viras (1968)”  in volume 1. Volume 2 includes the following “Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)”; “Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)” ; “Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)” (one of my favorites) and “Gamera: Super Monster (1980)”. These films have been restored to their original Japanese cuts and have never looked better and a price point of under $15 dollars that makes this a no-brainer purchase.

Mill Creek Entertainment has really been behind the franchise for years. Back in 2011, they also released the three Heisei trilogy films on Blu-ray with glorious transfer. The same is the case with these films. They really did a phenomenal job hooked this eight films up with a solid high definition 1080p transfer. The color reproduction is very impressive and even though there is some age here and there it is quickly overlooked due to a vibrant print. The only part that stuck me by surprise is no English dub track here. There is only a Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital track with English subtitles. included for all eight films. It works but still could have used at least an HD audio track.

Volume 1 includes the following “Gamera” films:
“Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965)” Official Premise: The first entry of this Sci-Fi epic takes place midst the peak of the Cold War, as conflict between the East and West transforms into a nuclear disaster! This atomic explosion releases more than massive radiation, it awakens an ancient and long-forgotten legend of Gamera!

“Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)” Official Premise: Once the fear of Tokyo, Gamera returns to Earth to save it from the malevolent monster Barugon who is able to freeze anything its path. This unholy battle between fire and ice challenges the survival of mankind while bringing them an incredible slam-bang, knock-down monster slug-fest!

“Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)” Official Premise: The third entry of this classic monster series continues when a volcanic eruption awakens Gyaos, a gigantic vampire-like bat who has a ravenous hunger for blood. Gyaos is Gamera s most popular foe, returning in four more films (not counting the stock footage in SUPER MONSTER). Can the fire-spitting terrapin Garmera defeat this nocturnal beast?

“Gamera vs. Viras (1968)” Official Premise: The reign of terror continues when aliens take two boy scouts hostage to blackmail Gamera into aiding their invasion of Earth. When that plan fails the giant alien leader Viras battles the flying turtle in a duel to the death.

Volume 2 includes the following “Gamera” films:
“Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)” Official Premise: Gamera, the giant flying turtle, spins into action when two young boys board a spaceship and are hijacked to a strange planet on the other side of the sun. While the boys evade the clutches of two brain-hungry alien beauties, Gamera must deal with a knife-nosed monster named Guiron.

“Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)” Official Premise: The fire-breathing action continues as Gamera battles one of his greatest foes, Jiger, a horned monster reminiscent of the Triceratops. Drawn to the World Expo in Osaka by an ancient statue, the evil reptile injects Gamera with its parasitic offspring to eliminate the super turtle.

“Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)” Official Premise: The shark-like alien Zigra attacks Earth to enslave the human race as food. Aided by spacewoman X-1, Zigra s wicked plan goes swimmingly until the invaders are challenged by Gamera and confounded by two troublemaking kids.

“Gamera: Super Monster (1980)” Official Premise: The final entry of the Showa Gamera series plays as a highlight reel reviving all of the previous evil monsters. When the alien Zanon tries to conquer Earth with an army of monsters, three superwomen enlist the help of Gamera to foil the invader’s plans.

Besides the films, there are no special features at all includes on these Blu-ray, which is a little bit of a letdown but I am sure it was due to licensing not laziness. So now that these films are available on Blu-ray, it actually completed the entire franchise of “Gamera” presented in high-definition. The only film not released by Mill Creek Entertainment on Blu-ray is the 2006 film “Gamera the Brave”, which is in the Millennium series. So if you want to complete your set, this is also available now from Tokyo Blasters.

Blu-ray Review “Puppet Master: The Blu-ray Collection – Volume 1”

Directors: David Schmoeller, David W. Allen, David DeCoteau
Number of discs: 3
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Full Moon Features
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Run Time: 264 minutes

Series: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Puppet Master: The Blu-ray Collection – Volume 1” includes the following films “Puppet Master”, “Puppet Master II” and “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge”. When you think of Full Moon Features, you thing of “Puppet Master”. They are the face for this company and in fact, they are the most successful independent direct-to-video horror franchise of all time! There has been a dozen films in this series and they may not all be perfect but they are certainly fun. This series has also seen some great talent come through including Paul Le Mat (“American Graffiti”, William Hickey (“The Nightmare Before Christmas), Irene Miracle (“Midnight Express” and Jimmie F. Skaggs (“Lethal Weapon”. A must own for any Full Moon fan. I just have one question since this came out in late 2012…where is Volume 2?

Series Official Premise: The secret of life has been discovered by master puppeteer Andre Toulon. But we quickly discover Toulon’s secret of death in the form of five killer puppets-each one uniquely qualified for murder and mayhem. Tunneler has a nasty habit of boring holes in people with his drill bit head. Ms. Leech regurgitates killer leeches that suck her victims dry. Pinhead strangles his enemies with his powerful vice-like hands. Blade has a gleaming hook for one hand and a razor-sharp knife for the other. And Jester, the ruthless brains of the bunch, is absolutely merciless. Together, they’re an army of skilled assassins, diabolically programmed to guard the deadly secrets of the Puppet Master throughout the decades.

The first 3 films, “Puppet Master”, “Puppet Master II” and “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge”, have been fully remastered in HD and presented in 16:9. Each of them come stock with a 5.1 Surround Sound track as well. “Puppet Master” was surprisingly the worst of the bunch. But when you watch the comparison video below you realize how much work they actually did. Concerning “Puppet Master II” and “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge”, they were both a vast improvement and looked pretty darn sharp in their high-def transfers. Full Moon actually went to work and deliver it’s fans some decent special features as well for these films. There are brand new introductions by Puppet Master creator Charles Band. There are also never-before-heard audio commentaries by Charles Band, writer C. Courtney Joyner (“Puppet Master III”), and director David DeCoteau (“Puppet Master III”). There are a few behind-the-scenes VideoZones episodes. There is a montage of “Puppet Master” kills. Lastly there is a rare “Puppet Master” promo and various Full Moon trailers included.

Check out below to see how the film was restored and a nice comparison:

Blu-ray Review “Angry Birds Toons: Season One – Volume One”

Rated: Unrated
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: December 3, 2013
Run Time: 73 minutes

Episodes: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, I am totally obsessed with the Angry Birds-mania, which is taking over the world. From what started as a smart phone video game has since expanded into a cultural phenomena. Included in the first volume of the “Angry Birds Toons” are 26 episodes from season one. The show is wordless but if you are a fan of the games you will enjoy seeing these characters come to life.

Official Premise: Life isn’t easy on Piggy Island for the Angry Birds. Red and his fearless feathered companions, Chuck, Matilda, Red, Bomb, Blues and Terence, must band together to protect their eggs – and their future – from the wily plotting of the Bad Piggies.

The animation is very crisp and look great with their 1080p transfers. I have seen these episodes before on my smart phone via the “Angry Birds” apps. So the colors are very sharp and really impressive. The DTS-HD Master Audio tracks are good but if you know the show there is not much in terms of dialogue, more like sound effects..but it still works. I am curious to see how this is going to translate and expand in the upcoming feature film.

In terms of special features, there is some decent content including “Meet the Characters” and “Meet the Flock” Pods. There are three Behind-the-Scenes featurettes on the show. There is the special holiday episode “Wreck the Halls”, which themed perfectly with the upcoming holidays. There is a Character Art Gallery. Lastly there is a bonus Angry Birds Windows PC Game included.

CD Review: Five Finger Death Punch “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell – Volume 1”

Five Finger Death Punch
“The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol. 1”
Prospect Park
Producer: Kevin Churko
Tracks: 14

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Los Angeles metalers Five Finger Death Punch are back with the first of two new albums titled “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol. 1”. The album is the follow up to the bands 2011 release “American Capitalist” which was certified gold in September of 2012. “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol. 1” is being released via Prospect Park and features 14 hard rocking songs produced by Kevin Churko.

Prepare to have your fillings knocked loose as the boys in Five Finger Death Punch pull no punches with the first of two new releases slated for 2013. “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol. 1” Immediately amps things up with probably my favorite song off the album titled “Lift Me Up” which features a stellar guest performance by the Metal God himself Rob Halford. The album takes you on a roller coast ride of emotion as singer Ivan Moody seems to be venting his inner most demons on tracks such as “Burn MF” and “Dot Your Eyes”.

Moody’s vocal presentation combined with the thunderous bottom end of bassist Chris Kael and drummer Jeremy Spencer and the searing tandem guitar attack of Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook the album sounds amazing! Though I’m not a big fan of albums that feature different version of the same song FFDP was able to make it work with the addition of guest vocalists Maria Brink, Jamey Jasta and Max Cavalera. Each guest performer seemed to not only give the track a breath of fresh air but also elevate them to a higher performance level.

Solid from start to finish “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol. 1” delivers. If the bands 13 original tracks weren’t enough for you the guys in FFDP take things a step further by throwing in a rocking rendition of the LL Cool J classic “Mama Said Knock You Out”. Whether you are a fan of heavy metal or not the latest release from Five Finger Death Punch is a must have.

Track Listing:
1.) Lift Me Up (feat. Rob Halford)
2.) Watch You Bleed
3.) You
4.) Wrong Side of Heaven
5.) Burn MF
6.) I.M.Sin
7.) Anywhere But Here (feat. Maria Brink)
8.) Dot Your Eyes
9.) M.I.N.E. (End This Way)
10.) Mama Said Knock You Out (feat. Tech N9ne)
11.) Dairy of a Deadman
12.) I.M.Sin (feat. Max Cavalera)
13.) Anywhere But Here
14.) Dot Your Eyes (feat. Jamey Jasta)

DVD Review “Popeye The Sailor: The 1960s Classics – Volume 1”

Voices: Jack Mercer, Mae Questel, Jackson Beck
Studio: Warner Archive
DVD Release Date: May 7, 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 409 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love Popeye The Sailor? If you are a parent, you should take advantage of his lessons to eat your spinach. When I was a kid, I remember my parents used to always say eat your spinach so you can be strong like Popeye. These shorts are really classics. They are also fun to watch when I was a kid and nothing has changed as an adult. I look forward to sharing these with my daughter as well. This release is volume 1 of the classics Popeye cartoons from Paramount, adding up to 72-episodes. If you are a Popeye fan, this is a great release from Warner Archive. The episodes look great and are well represented here. Sign me up for volume 2…and keep them coming Warner Archive!

With TV reruns of the Fleischer/Famous Studios theatrical shorts proving that Popeye still packed a spinach-powered punch that delivered smash ratings, King Features commissioned a new series of Sailor Man shorts under the aegis of executive producer Al Brodax. The TV incarnation of Popeye made up for its scaled back animation with a broadened narrative scope while still staying true to the source. Thanks to the continued use of voice actors Jack Mercer (Popeye), Mae Questel (Olive) and Jackson Beck (Bluto who was now called Brutus) as well as the use of veteran Popeye animation talents who were then working at Paramount Cartoon Studios, these shorts remained authentic. The addition of a number of Thimble Theater comic strip characters making their cartoon debuts – including King Blozo, Toar, and Sea Hag – only added to the shorts “yam what I yam” charm.

Disc 1 consists of the following episodes ranging from 1960-1961: 1. Hits And Missiles, 2. The Ghost Host, 3. Strikes,Spares An’ Spinach, 4. Jeep Is Jeep, 5. The Spinach Scholar, 6. Psychiatricks, 7. Rags To Riches To Rags, 8. Hair Cut-ups, 9. Poppa Popeye, 10. Quick Change Olie, 11.Valley of The Goons, 12. Me Quest For Poopdeck Pappy, 13. Moby Hick, 14. Mirror Magic, 15. It Only Hurts When They Laughs, 16. Wimpy The Moocher, 17. Voo-Doo To You Too, 18. Popeye Goes Sale-ing, 19. Popeye’s Travels, 20. Incident At Missile City, 21. Dog Catcher Popeye, 22. What’s News, 23. Spinach Greetings, 24. The Baby Contest, 25. Oil’s Well That Ends Well, 26. Motor Knocks, 27.Amusement Park, 28. Duel To The Finish, 29. Gem Jam, 30. The Bathing Beasts, 31. The Rain Breaker, 32. Messin’ Up The Mississippi, 33. Love Birds, 34. Sea Serpent, 35. Boardering On Trouble and 36. Aladdin’s Lamp

Disc 2 continue with shorts from 1961. 37. Butler Up, 38. The Leprechaun, 39. County Fair, 40. Hamburgers Aweigh, 41. Popeye’s Double Trouble, 42. Kiddie Kapers, 43. The Mark of Zero, 44. Myskery Melody, 45. Scairdy Cat, 46. Operation Ice-Tickle, 47. The Cure, 48. William Won’t Tell, 49. Pop Goes The Whistle, 50. Autographically Yours, 51. A Poil For Olive Oyl, 52. My Fair Olive, 53. Giddy Gold, 54. Strange Things Are Happening, 55. The Medicine Man, 56. A Mite of Trouble, 57. Who’s Kiddin’ Zoo, 58. Robot Popeye, 59. Sneaking Peeking and 60. Seer-Ring Is Believer-Ring.

Lastly Disc 3 completed the volume with more episodes but jumps from 1961 back to 1960 for some reason. 61.The Wiffle Bird’s Revenge, 62. Going…Boing…Gone, 63. Popeye Thumb, 64. Where There’s A Will, 65. Take It Easel, 66. I Bin Sculped, 67. Fleas A Crowd, 68. Popeye’s Junior Headache, 69. The Big Sneeze, 70. The Last Resort, 71. Jeopardy Sheriff and 72.Baby Phase.

Blu-ray Review "Subspecies: The Blu-ray Collection Volume 1"

Starring: Anders Hove, Denise Duff, Angus Scrimm
Director: Ted Nicolaou
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Full Moon Pictures
DVD Release Date: May 21, 2013
Run Time: 270 minutes

The Blu-ray Collection Volume 1: 3.5 out of stars
Subspecies Blu-ray: 2 out of 5 stars
Subspecies Extras: 1 out of 5 stars
Bloodstone: Subspecies II Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Bloodstone: Subspecies II Extras: 3 out of 5 stars
Bloodlust: Subspecies III Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Bloodlust: Subspecies III Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

One of the best series to come out of Full Moon has easily been “Subspecies” to date. The series ran for the better part of the 90’s with three sequels and a spin-off   This volume one Blu-ray collection includes “Subspecies”, “Bloodstone: Subspecies II” and “Bloodlust: Subspecies III”. I am assuming there will be a second volume in the cards with the “Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm” and “The Vampire Journals” to work up the series (at least untill Subspecies 5, you here that Charlie!). The series creates one of our great villains, the vampire Radu Vladislas, portrayed by Anders Hove. When you think of great vampire villains, I always come back to Radu. The scripts are not perfect and the acting is decent at best but these films are classics. Full Moon is relatively new to the format of Blu-ray, with only a few “Puppet Master” films getting the treatment.  For the slim price at around the price of one standard Blu-ray, if you are a fan of the series then this is a really a steal.

“Subspecies”: Three students studying the folklore of Transylvania uncover more than they anticipated when they stumble upon a clan of vampires ruled by the monstrous Radu. The sadistic vampire becomes obsessed with making them his fledglings and pursues them relentlessly. Wielding the power of the Bloodstone, a relic that drips the blood of the saints, Radu and his subspecies – a pack of small, sinister creatures – give the girls a true understanding of the local mythology.

“Bloodstone: Subspecies II” In the second installment of the Subspecies series, Radu’s fledgling and love interest, Michelle, flees from his castle with the holy relic – the Bloodstone. Meanwhile, as a new vampire, Michelle struggles with her emerging bloodlust. To escape Radu, she hides in the basement of a theater in Bucharest, waiting for her sister to arrive from the US to help her – before it’s too late. “Bloodlust: Subspecies III” – Bloodlust brings the third coming of Radu, who captures his fledgling, Michelle, and returns her to the castle he shares with his sorceress mother. Radu teaches Michelle how to master her vampire powers. Meanwhile, Michelle’s sister, Becky, plans an armed assault on Radu’s stronghold. She is determined to save her sister’s soul – and this time she’s brought some help.

Since the Blu-ray release for “Subspecies” was for the 20th anniversary, originally released in 2011, it really doesn’t feel like it comes with the anniversary treatment. The high-def Blu-ray only clocks in at 1080i transfer and feels a little flat. This still looks much better than past DVDs but not up to standard for Blu-ray. I mean there is massive noise throughout the scenes and the colors are very shaky. I also have a real big issue with the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. Since suppose to be Blu-ray high-definition, the track is far from it. It sounds fine but I would have loved to seen them upgrade this film to a a 5.1 surround track for this release. In fact the Blu-ray box boasts all three films as full HD and 5.1 surround sound, which is not the case for this film.

“Bloodstone: Subspecies II” & “Bloodlust: Subspecies III” again takes the correct path for a proper Blu-ray presentation. Since this films were shot many years ago and on a very low budget, they are still represented quite well here. Both films have very nice 1080p transfers (unlike “Subspecies”).  There is some noise interference around the color black but besides that they both have pretty sharp transfers. Also both films also have good 5.1 surround tracks.  They are not perfect but they are a nice step up from “Subspecies” and at least they represent the high-definition of the Blu-ray much better.

“Subspecies” is also a big disappointment in the special features department. There is an original VideoZone episode, which I enjoyed…but that is it. There are no other extras besides some Full Moon Trailers. Luckily, the special features for “Bloodstone: Subspecies II” & “Bloodlust: Subspecies III” improves quite a bit in that area. The extras are mirrored for both films including “Making Subspecies: The Recollections of Ted Nicolaou, Anders Hove and Denise Duff” is a great revisit from the director and cast from the film. Both films include an equally entertaining audio commentary again from the trio; Nicolaou, Hove and Duff. Some topics are revisited from the making-of feature but still worth checking out. “Killer Subspecies Montage” is a fun collection of clips from this series. Lastly, there are  also original VideoZones episodes included for the sequels, as well as additional Full Moon Trailers included.

DVD Review “Police Academy: The Animated Series- Volume One”

Starring: Ron Rubin, Dan Hennessey, Howard Morris, Greg Morton
Studio: Warner Archive
Number of Discs: 3
DVD Release Date: December 11, 2012
Run Time: 658 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

If you were a kids in the late 80’s like myself, then you would have looked forward to coming home from school for shows like this.  I have always been a fan of the “Police Academy” series, obviously shows like this don’t really warrant a animated series but it still is fun and reminds me of the time when afternoon cartoons were the bees knees.  This series fits in between the fourth and fifth movie in the franchise but this does not include any of the original cast voicing their characters.  I am not sure what it is about 80’s animated series but they just have this certain charm. I am glad to finally have these episodes on DVD and I look forward to the next volume to complete this animated series.

There were 64 episodes in this series produced over two seasons.  The first season consisted of 26 episodes, so the 30 episodes presented here cover the first season and a bit of the season. This is the first time that this episodes have ever been released on DVD, thanks to Warner Archive. The episodes have not really been restored for this release but they still look good. They have been manufactured from the best-quality video master currently available.  They are presented in a 4×3 full frame with the original aspect ratio of  1.37:1. The audio track included is a basis mono track but it works, especially with the catchy theme song “They Wear the Blue” performed by The Fat Boys.

Official Synopsis: The wacky rookies are back – and this time their antics are animated! After a bust goes awry in the opening episode, the heinous Capt. Harris gets busted back to the academy. With a serious hate-on for academy alums, Harris drags Mahoney, Jones, Hightower, Hooks, Tackleberry, Callahan, Sweetchuck and Zed back to the academy! In this 30-Episode, 3-Disc collection, the hit cartoon spin-off of the legendary law-and-disorder comedy franchise, Mahoney and Co. are joined by the stalwart members of the K-9 Corps, dog cops who are a few bones short of being top dogs, while battling super-villains like the Kingpin, Lockjaw, Amazona, Numbskull, Mr. Sleaze and the Claw. The noble-but-not-all-there Commandant is on hand as well, aided by new character The Professor and his crazy gadgets. Tip-top hip-hop act The Fat Boys sings the toe-tapping theme.

DVD Review “Futurama: Volume 7”

Creator: Matt Groening
Cast: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: December 11, 2012
Run Time: 286 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

When this show got canceled back in 2003, I was dying for more “Futurama”. Between me and you, I like this show far better than “The Simpsons”, post-90’s. This volume contains the first 13 episodes of the seventh season of the show. This season has some really good episodes. This season touches base on everything happening in pop-culture this year from the Maya Calender to the election to even Bender having a baby. Some of the best episodes of the series here and a real improvement from season six. These episodes also have a great replay value and only get funnier. If you want more “Futurama”, the second half of season seven begins in June 2013.

Official Premise: Crank up the gravity and put your head safely in a jar! It’s Volume Seven of FUTURAMA – the animated sci-fi comedy from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Crammed with a whole new dimension of extras not shown on TV, this cosmic collection includes 13 bizarre and brilliant episodes involving ancient prophecies, Presidents’ heads, robot gangsters, angry butterflies, and of course, sausage-making. It’s a shipload of futuristic fun!

The episodes includes in this volume are: The Bots And The Bees; A Farewell To Arms; Decision 3012 ; The Thief Of Baghead; Zapp Dingbat; The Butterjunk Effect; The Six Million Dollar Mon; Fun On A Bun; Free Will Hunting; Near-death Wish; 31st Century Fox; Viva Mars Vegas and Naturama.

The special features are A-MAZING! There are commentary tracks on all of the 13 episodes from this season.  There is even a bonus commentary on the second episode “A Farewell To Arms” from the Animators of Rough Draft Studios.  These are worth the price of the release alone! There is an alternate ending for the fifth episode “Zapp Dingbat”. I am a big fan of the score from “Futurama” and there is a nice feature on the composer “Christopher Tyng’s Big Score”, read our interview with Christopher here. There is a funny sing-along with the character in “Futurama Karaoke”.  Lastly there is a funny infinite loop for “Möbius Trip” and some really great collection of deleted scenes in “Too Good For TV”.

DVD Review “The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection – Volume 1”

Directed by: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera
Voices of: Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Mel Blanc, Bea Benaderet, Gerry Johnson, Don Messick, John Stephenson
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 99 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“The Flintstones” are a timeless cartoon that can never be replaced. Warner Archive is releasing a pair of classic Flintstones specials on DVD for the first time. “The Flintstones Prime-Time Specials Collection – Volume 1” includes the special “The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone” and “The Flintstones Little Big League”. These classic Hanna-Barbera specials are perfect for cartoon fans of all ages. I would think that this being being released now to steal some spotlight from Halloween. If you are a fan of the series (I mean who isn’t) then this is a great addition to your collection.

“The Flintstones Meet Rockula” originally aired during Halloween of 1979 and “The Flintstones Little Big League” originally aired April of 1978. These are classics have been LONG out of print before Warner Archive released these as part of their Hanna–Barbera Classics Collection. These episodes are newly remastered and looks sharp for specials that are well over 30 years old. They are presented in 4 X 3 FULL FRAME with their original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. Being a fan of this show since I was a kid, this release is a real treat to get to own these fantastic specials.  Time for Volume 2! Bring it on!

Synopsis: Following a spate of Saturday morning spin-offs, America’s favorite Stone Age family returned to network prime-time with a full slate of hysterical pre-historical specials – no quitting time for Fred! In The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone, the Flintstones and the Rubbles travel to fear-fraught Rockysylvania thanks to a big game show win. Fred and Barney soon stumble upon – and awaken – the legendary Frankenstone Monster, who promptly revives his vampiric master, Rockula. When Rockula falls head over batwings for Wilma, will Fred end up having an undead-old time? Flintstones Little Big League sees Fred and Barney facing off as opposing Little League coaches while Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles duel across the diamond. Swept up by competitiveness and paternal pride, their friendship ends up in the dug-out doghouse. Meanwhile, a cop, a judge and Mr. Slate are all putting pressure on Fred to win at all costs – what’s a cavedad to do?

DVD Review “Iron Man: Armored Adventures – Season 2, Volume 1”

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Vivendi Entertainment
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Episodes: 6
Running Time: 141 minutes

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

This show does not work on any level at all. I am a big fan of the character “Iron Man” but this is a waste of time for any real Marvel fan. It will surely entertain young kids, who only do not know any better. The 3D CGI toon doesn’t even look good. It’s animation looks to date back to the days of “ReBoot”. I have a love of the simple hand drawn look of other Marvel shows like “The Super Hero Squad Show”.

This series also focuses on a younger (still cocky) Tony Stark, at the age of 16. It is a look inside early Stark’s life acting as heir of the billion-dollar corporation Stark International. Though he is already sporting the famous iron suit and friends with teenage version of Pepper Potts (who is incredibly annoying in this series). Season two focuses on Tony and his friend fighting to keep control of Stark International. They fight evil who seek to steal the suit and team up with rivals like Black Panther.

When the first season of “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” was released on DVD, it was presented as a complete series with a total of 26 episodes. Now for season two, they have decided to release them in 6 episode intervals. I am not a fan of this decision, it seems like a way to cash in the recent explosion of “The Avengers”. And they seemed like they didn’t want to wait for season two to be completed.   The episodes included are: “The Invisible Iron Man Part 1: Disassembled!”, “The Invisible Iron Man Part 2: Reborn!”, “Look into the Light”, “Ghost in the Machine”, “Armor Wars” and “Line of Fire”.

DVD Review “The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Season 1, Volume 2”

Created by: Doug Wildey
Directed by: Mike Milo
Starring: J. D. Roth, Michael Benyaer, Jesse Douglas, George Segal, Robert Patrick, Frank Welker, Quinton Flynn, Rob Paulsen, Jennifer Hale, John de Lancie
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Warner Archive
Running Time: 286 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

If you are a boy and love cartoons, who doesn’t love Jonny Quest, seriously. It has adventure, action and plenty of thrill, especially for a cartoon. This series is revival of the 1960s Hanna-Barbera Jonny Quest franchise. It aired from 96-97, with only a mere 52 episodes produced. It does not pack the same thrill though that the original series had. This reinvention is more the “high-tech” upgrade of the series.  Fans of the original Hanna-Barbera (like myself) might want to remember this franchise more like the original series, though this is not terrible overall.

This series still contains adventures with Jonny Quest, Hadji Singh, and Jessie Bannon as they follow Dr. Benton Quest and bodyguard Race Bannon to investigate strange phenomena, legends, and mysteries. This is where it differs a little bit, some of the action in this series takes place in the virtual realm of QuestWorld, which is 3D cyberspace land. So the series, takes a leap into CG but falls a little short. The late 90’s were a time in animation, where CGI was trying to make it’s presence known but was still a little premature.

In this volume two of episodes, it contains the next 13 episodes completing the first season…finally. Warner released the first thirteen episodes in volume 1 all the way back in February 2009. So fans had to hold their breath for a long time for this one. Luckily, Warner Archive Collection is great with releasing archive cartoon series but I am not sure how long fans are going to have to wait before the second season of 26 episodes is released.

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Season 1, Volume 2 is now available from Warner Archive at http://bit.ly/GXOb0F

Synopsis: Team Quest is Back! In this pulse-pounding second volume, The Real Adventures reinvention of the classic animated adventure series Jonny Quest continues. Jonny, scientist father Benton Quest, bodyguard Race Bannon, paranormal pal Hadji and Race’s daughter Jessie, unravel mysteries and uncover strange phenomena while criss-crossing the globe. The scientific secrets of the dazzling virtual reality domain known as Questworld (rendered in CG sequences that broke ground for the era’s TV animation) receive the full Team Quest treatment as well in this 2-Disc Collection of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Season One’s second 13-Episodes. Strap in for suspense and thrills! Special Feature: “Journey into Questworld.”