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The Secret of the Sword

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"I've got that flying horsey in my sight" He-Man & the Masters of the Universe was a massive hit toy line and a massive hit animated TV series. He-Man ruled the airwaves in the 80s and it would only make sense to not only make a feature length theatrical film but also a new spin-off series with a new character! The film follows Price Adam/He-Man as he embarks on the search for his twin sister. Turns out that a new villain by the name of Hordak had kidnapped He-Man's twin sister shortly after birth and taken here to another dimension on a planet called Etherea. No one knows what happened to the little girl, Adora. But, with this information and with a magical sword, He-Man is on his way to find Princess Adora.  What much can be said of "The Secret of the Sword", it's not necessarily a film for cinemas as there is nothing special enough about the movie for it to warrant a theatrical release, other than the length of the film. The animation remains the

Evil Spawn (Retromedia) Blu-ray Review


Another video store classic from Retromedia in the form of Evil Spawn, a creature feature that is high on the three Bs (boobs, blood, and beast) and very entertaining. 

Studio: Retromedia
Release Date: September 1987 (video premiere)
                        November 2020 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 10 minutes 41 seconds (Evil Spawn)
                    1 hour 25 minutes 1 second (The Alien Within)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.66:1 aspect ratio) (Evil Spawn)
                480p (1.33:1 aspect ratio) (The Alien Within)
Sound: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (both versions)
Subtitles: No
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Bobbie Bresee, Drew Godderis, Dawn Wildsmith, Fox Harris, John Terrence, Pamela Gilbert and John Carradine
Written by Kenneth J. Hall and Ted Newsom
Directed by Kenneth J. Hall and Ted Newsom
Rating: Not Rated (creature violence and gore, sexual content and nudity, and language) (both versions)

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Poster

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What's It About?

A faded, once desirable, top-tier actress, Lynn Roman (BOBBIE BRESEE), desperate for a comeback movie role, allows herself to become the subject of an experimental drug developed by a mad scientist, played by Horror Movie Icon, JOHN CARRADINE.

Amazingly enough, the formula works and Lynn Roman regains her youth... along with the unpleasant side effect of periodically turning into a large, bug-eyed monster!
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Movie Review

EVIL SPAWN is a lot of fun. It starts out with a monster getting loose and turning a guy into a zombie. The guy then goes and attacks a guy in an alley and rips the dude's arm off. It was nice and gory and I was with the film from then on. We get some decent acting from the cast. We like the characters even if we don't remember them after the film ends. There are some great special effects too. The actress has a dream where she wins an award and when she goes to grab it, she suddenly ages horrifically. The monster looks pretty good too. There is a special feature about what the monster looked like originally and they made the better choice by going with this version. The film has everything that we have come to love about Fred Olen Ray films: nudity, gore, and a short run time so the film doesn't overstay it's welcome.  EVIL SPAWN is a fun film and nothing more. 
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Video/Audio

Coming to us from Retromedia, EVIL SPAWN looks good on blu-ray. The film is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio although I am not sure if this is the original aspect ratio. American films usually used a 1.85:1 as the most common aspect ratio or a 1.33:1 if it was shot for video (although many direct-to-video films were shot in 1.85:1). The 1.66:1 aspect ratio is usually a European aspect ratio. Anyhow, this transfer has not been cleaned up at all. There are those who will hate this, but I actually kind of like it. It shows that there has been no DNR applied which is always a good thing. The dirt, specs, and hairs never get in the way of enjoying the film. There is film grain here, also a good thing. There are plenty of shots that are out of focus or have the wrong focal point in focus. This isn't a problem with the transfer, but it is something that popped up more than I would have liked. Colors are good, blacks are deep, and everything looks how it should. The audio comes to us in the form of a lossy Dolby Digitial track that gets the job done. I don't mind a lossy track on low budget releases like this because I would rather they spend the money on the picture than making the audio lossless.

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Extras

The big extra is the alternate version of EVIL SPAWN titled THE ALIEN WITHIN. This version includes footage that was shot on video a few years after EVIL SPAWN was released. The new footage isn't very good and does nothing but make the already tightly edited EVIL SPAWN longer. I get why Fred Olen Ray shot the new footage, but the original version is already good. There was no need to add this years later shot footage to it. I am glad that this version is here, though, as it gives us a look at how some movies are marketed, repackaged, and given to the same audience again under a new title. The film is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and is taken from a VHS transfer. 

The rest of the special features are worthy of your time including a wonderfully informative commentary track from Fred Olen Ray. He wasn't part of the shoot as he was off making other films, but he still puts the film in context through other films. He spends a lot of time talking about things that aren't a part of the film, but I love hearing old Hollywood stories so I was ok with it. There is some behind the scenes footage that is always welcome here at The Big Movie House as well as the old Nite Owl Theater intro from the DVD release years ago. All in all, this is a great package of extras that will satisfy fans.

There was also a trading card included in the case featuring a photo of Bobbi Bresee on the front and a brief plot synopsis on the back.
  • Commentary
  • The Alien Within (1h 25m, SD, 1.33:1, windowboxed)
  • Behind the Scenes (2m 27s, SD, 1.85:1, 4x3)
  • On Location Footage (33m 44s, SD, 1.33:1) 
  • John Carradine Outtakes (4m 46s, SD, 1.33:1) 
  • Case of the Missing Monster (1m 16s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Nite Owl Theater (4m 7s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Trailer (2m 20s, SD, 1.33:1)

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Overall

EVIL SPAWN is a much better film than I thought it was going to be. While it's not the best film in the world, it did entertain me a lot and that is really all I was looking for. This blu-ray presents the film really well with good picture and sound. The special features are worth the price of the blu-ray alone. Definitely recommended for B-movie lovers and those looking for a forgotten video store classic. 

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Menu



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Film

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Extras

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Packaging


Comments

  1. Sorry, clearly this is not in true 1.66:1 aspect ratio as I can clearly see black vertical areas either side of all screenshots from the film. Every film I've seen in this aspect ratio didn't have these gaps. I'll stick with my Retromedia widescreen dvd thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They talk about this one the commentary. The film was shot 1.85:1, but they had to matte it to 1.66:1 to get rid of film damage on the sides of the frame.

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