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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

Weird Wisconsin: The Bill Rebane Collection (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review


The man who gave us such classics as Twister's Revenge and The Giant Spider Invasion gets the respect he deserves with the outstanding boxset from Arrow Video. Six movies and a documentary about Rebane plus a bunch of extras will have fans wanting more. 

Studio:
Arrow Video
Release Date: July 1965 (Monster A Go-Go) (theatrical)
                           October 30th, 1974 (Invasion from Inner Earth) (theatrical)
                           May 24th, 1978 (The Alpha Incident) (theatrical)
                           1983 (The Demons of Ludlow) (theatrical)
                           1984 (The Game) (theatrical)
                           1988 (Twister's Revenge) (theatrical)
                           May 24th, 2021 (Who Is Bill Rebane) (video premiere)
                           May 24th, 2021 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 8 minutes 42 seconds (Monster A Go-Go)
                    1 hour 34 minutes 10 seconds (Invasion from Inner Earth)  
                    1 hour 34 minutes 44 seconds (The Alpha Incident)
                    1 hour 32 minutes 21 seconds (The Demons of Ludlow)
                    1 hour 24 minutes 5 seconds (The Game)
                    1 hour 29 minutes 4 seconds (Twister's Revenge)
                    1 hour 55 minutes 18 seconds (Who Is Bill Rebane?)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.33:1 aspect ratio) (Monster A Go-Go, Invasion from Inner Earth, and The Game)
                1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (The Alpha Incident, The Demons of Ludlow, The Game, and Twister's Revenge)
                1080p (1.78:1) (Who Is Bill Rebane?)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (All films)
Subtitles: English SDH (all films)
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No

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Posters
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What's It About?

Monster A-Go-Go (1965) A space capsule crash-lands on Earth, and the astronaut aboard disappears. Is there a connection between the missing man and the monster roaming the area?

Invasion from Inner Earth (1974) A group of young pilots in a remote region of the Canadian wilderness begin to hear strange reports over their radios about planes crashing, cars stalling and a deadly plague that has gripped the planet. It becomes clear that earth is in the midst of an invasion. The group of pilots decide to barricade themselves in a cabin deep in the woods and wait for their impending doom.

The Alpha Incident (1978) A microorganism from Mars, brought to Earth by a space probe, terrorizes passengers in a railroad office.

The Demons of Ludlow (1983) A murderous demon lurks inside an antique piano in a picturesque coastal town.

The Game (1984) Three bored millionaires gather nine people in an old mansion, and give them a proposition--if they can meet and conquer their biggest fears, they'll get one million dollars in cash.

Twister's Revenge (1988) Three bumbling criminals have been trying to get their hands on the computerized control system of Mr. Twister, a talking monster truck with a mind of its own.
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Film Review

Monster A-Go-Go (1965) This is the first feature film that Rebane made and it is lackluster, but that's ok. We have seen this film a million times before in films like THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT and THE INCREDIBLY MELTING MAN, so there isn't much new here. The monster chases and kills while "top men" try to figure out what is going on and how to stop it. It is a very basic film, but again, that is ok. It's not a bad film, but it isn't very good either. 

Invasion from Inner Earth (1974) Here is a film that presents a unique situation (people happen upon strange happenings) and they spend the rest of the film trying to figure out what is going on. I know that I don't make it sound exciting, and it really isn't, but I really liked the laidback approach to the film. There doesn't seem to be any panic going on and I honestly think that is how something like this would actually happen. I mean, look at how the recent pandemic happened. No one took it seriously until it got way too serious way too quickly. Again, this is a film that is better than what people will tell you, but it isn't very good. The pace of the film is way too slow and nothing really happens for large portions of the film, but that's ok. 

The Alpha Incident (1978) So far I have walked away from each film in this collection not wondering why these films exist, but having a fondness towards them. You can't hate something you have sympathy for and I have a lot of sympathy for these films. Of course, that sympathy was put to the test when I watched THE ALPHA INCIDENT. The rundown of the film is this: something happens and people are quarantined together until something can be done. While in this quarantine, the guys spend most of their time harassing the only woman there with them. Then a bunch of stuff happens at the end. This film is the very definition of dull. Nothing happens for a big chunk of the film and none of the characters are likable. This is a test pattern of a film. 

Demons of Ludlow (1983) Alright, we have found the best film of the set so far. This is a demonic possession film, but instead of people, it's an inanimate object, AMITYVILLE HORROR 4-style. The demons show up after the possessed piano is played. It makes people bleed from their hands AND moves a glass of water from a desk to a nightstand. Fancy, right? Rebane does a decent enough job creating a creepy mood even if he isn't all that successful at it. The film also has a good look to it, but it also feels like it cost about ten dollars. Still, the film isn't as bad as the other films found in this set and is actually pretty watchable.

The Game (1984) This is another snoozer. I was hoping that it would have been good. I mean, the premise is very promising, but the lazy direction makes an hour and a half feel like four hours. There are a few good scenes here and the film has a decent look to it, but I was just bored. I don't really have anything to say other than that. Being boring is the worst thing a film can be.

Twister's Revenge (1988) TWISTER'S REVENGE is what I call a "good ole boy" film. It is the type of film that is made because the filmmakers had access to something that they could make a film around. In this case, it's a threefer: a monster truck, a monster truck derby, and a tank. They also had a few houses to knock down as well. Bill Rebane had a lot of fortune on his side making this film and it looks like it cost a lot of money, but it didn't. The problem with the film is that it is boring and not very exciting. We have a hero that is so bland that white bread is jealous along with three bumbling criminals who just aren't funny. We are waiting for the destruction to happen and when it finally shows up, we just don't care. It is impressive, but it comes too late and after far too much filler. Watch the Red Letter Media review of this for a far better explanation of why the film isn't very good. 

Who Is Bill Rebane? (2021) This is a really well produced look at the films of Bill Rebane. We don't get too much in the way of personal information. We are given the films and some stories that go along with them. There are a bunch of interviews with industry professionals as they dissect Rebane's films and put them into the context of when they were released. While this doc isn't as good as the Al Adamson doc Severin put out in 2020, this is a great look back at the man who gave us the films HE wanted to make without any compromises. 

So, I shit on Rebane's film quite a bit throughout these reviews, but I have to say that there is a weird quality about these films. While I was watching them, I felt good. I don't really know how to explain it, and it doesn't happen very often with films that I don't like, but I felt a calm come over me while watching each and every film in this set. The films' aren't trying to reinvent anything. Rebane just wanted to make movies for a living and these are most of those films. There is a "niceness" to most of Rebane's films, although some of his films are not nice at all. These films are underdog films. They are regional horror films and they always have a different quality about them. I can't really hate on these films because these filmmakers got out there and actually made a fucking film. Rebane got out there and worked his ass to make these films. I know that it is easy to hate on films like this, but I can't. Sure, they may be "bad films", but there is a quality here that the biggest, most expensive films out there wish that they had. I will take any film that Rebane has made over a Marvel film any day of the week. Rebane made his films with a love that the Marvel films can't ever have. I kept saying that it was ok to many of my criticisms of the films included in this set because at the end of the day, I appreciated these films more than most of the films released today. It's ok to not like them. It's ok to find faults with them. It's ok that the films present their stories in certain ways that aren't the norm. It's ok that these films are the greatest in the world. It's ok because Rebane had a passion for the art of film.
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Video/Audio

All the films in this collection have received brand new scans from various sources. Each film has a lot of grain to it which some will hate, but that is how these things are supposed to look. MONSTER A-GO-GO looks the worst of the bunch with many problems, including vertical scratches that stay around for most of the film. The colors in THE GAME fluctuate throughout the film. The rest of the films look good. I didn't mind the problems with any of these transfers as they add to the charms of the films. 

We get DTS-HD Master Audio tracks for each film as the only tracks and they sound just like they should. Well, TWISTER'S REVENGE has a pitch problem with a few scenes where it sounds like the characters sucked on balloons full of helium right before saying their lines. This problem isn't there all time and even goes away or comes around mid-scene. This is really the only problem that I noticed throughout all the films. 
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Extras/Packaging

Disc 1: Monster A Go-Go! / Invasion from Inner Earth

        Straight Shooter: Bill Rebane on Monster A Go-Go! (10m 46s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Straight Shooter: Bill Rebane on Invasion from Inner Earth (9m 58s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Kim Newman on Bill Rebane (15m 7s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Short Films
                 Twist Craze (8m 49s, HD, 1.33:1)
                 Dance Craze (14m 41s, HD, 1.33:1)
                 Kidnap Extortion (14m 28s, HD, 1.33:1)
        Posters and Stills (22 Images)
                
We get the first two installments of Straight Shooter where Bill Rebane talks about each film in this set, one film at a time. He talks about how he got MONSTER A GO-GO made and how it was finished by Herschell Gordon Lewis and released by him. He talks about the shooting of INVASION FROM INNER EARTH and how it was filmed in Wisconsin during a tough winter. Kim Newman then gives us an all too brief rundown of Rebane's career, film by film. Three shorts that Rebane shot are up next and they are cool for what they are and we end this disc with posters and stills from both films. The film was played on a double bill with STAR WARS of all films at various drive-ins. 

Disc 2: The Alpha Incident / Demons of Ludlow

        Straight Shooter: Bill Rebane on The Alpha Incident (9m 24s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Straight Shooter: Bill Rebane on The Demons of Ludlow (7m 44s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Rebane's Key Largo (16m 5s, HD, 1.78:1)
        The Demons of Ludlow Trailer (2m 40s, SD, 1.33:1)
        The Alpha Incident Trailer (3m 20s, HD, 1.85:1)
        Image Gallery (21 images)

The second two installments of Straight Shooter are found here. Rebane considers THE ALPHA INCIDENT to be his first "real" movie. He is proud of the work here as he found the making of the film very challenging as he never really made a story-driven film before. Rebane moves on to THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW by praising his cast. He says that he had bought the piano first before coming up with the idea for the film. He did the cinematography on the film so he had total control over how the film looked and felt. He distributed the film himself for a while before a company bought up the rights. Next up, we have a brand new visual essay from historian and film critic Richard Harland Smith that covers THE ALPHA INCIDENT. He calls THE ALPHA INCIDENT Bill Rebane's KEY LARGO as the film shares a lot of similarities to the Humphrey Bogart classic. Rebane had shot a bunch of scenes for the film that were cut before release. I found out a lot of info about the film, but my favorite piece was that the Menards guy, Ray Szmanda, is in the film. Theatrical trailers for THE ALPHA INCIDENT and  THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW as well as an image gallery finish up the special features found on this disc.

Disc 3: The Game / Twister's Revenge

        Straight Shooter: Bill Rebane on The Game (6m 57s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Straight Shooter: Bill Rebane on Twister's Revenge (8m 10s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Discovering Bill Rebane (28m 16s, HD ) A lecture by historian and critic Stephen R. Bissette on his 
        personal relationship with the films of Bill Rebane
        Trailers:
                The Game (1m 27s, SD, 1.33:1)
                Twister's Revenge (3m 39s, SD, 1.33:1)
        Image Gallery (17 images)

We find ourselves at the end of the Straight Shooter segments with Rebane's memories on THE GAME and TWISTER'S REVENGE. With THE GAME, he made the film because he had the opportunity to shoot in a hotel so he created a film around the location. He doesn't think that the film played in theaters in the US, but it did in foreign countries and did very well. He doesn't like gore nor nudity, but he had to put in those things to help sell the film. With TWISTER'S REVENGE, the idea for the film came about from going to a monster truck rally and everything just fell into place after that. He was able to get the tank from the state department. He had planned on doing a series of films with the three bumbling criminal characters from the film. The negative for the film was thrown away. 

Disc 4: Who Is Bill Rebane?
 
King of the Wild Frontier (1h 33m, HD, 1.78:1) When historian and filmmaker David Cairns spoke to critic Stephen R. Bissette about Bill Rebane for his documentary, he didn't expect their conversation to last almost two hours, but that's exactly what happened. Presented here in full, Stephen R. Bissette's impassioned thoughts on Bill Rebane, the man, the myth, the legend...
          Outtakes - All are silent
                     Invasion from Inner Earth (16m 42s, HD, 1.33:1) 
                     The Demons of Ludlow (11m 12s, HD, 1.85:1)
                     The Alpha Incident (9m 41s, HD, 1.85:1)
          The Giant Spider Invasion Trailer (3m 55s, HD, 1.85:1)
          Image Galleries
                     A Rebane Miscellany (31 images)
                     The Giant Spider Invasion (34 images)
                     The Capture of Bigfoot (7 images)
                     Rana the Legend of Shadow Lake (6 images)
                     Blood Harvest (9 images)
                     From the Collection of Stephen R. Bissette, SpiderBaby Archives (24 images)

The features found on the WHO IS BILL REBANE? disc are the best of the entire set. King of the Wild Frontier is an hour and a half long (not "nearly two hours" like the menu claims) interview with critic Stephen R. Bissette, parts of which appear in the WHO IS BILL REBANE? doc. This interview is full of information about Rebane and his films, but also the time in which the films were released and other tidbits throughout. I was totally enthralled by this interview and wished that it had gone on longer. We also have three sets of silent outtakes for three films. These are interesting in their own right as they are the only behind-the-scenes footage we have for any of the films. We also have a trailer for Rebane's GIANT SPIDER INVASION which is nice. We finish out the features with some image galleries. 

WEIRD WISCONSIN: THE BILL REBANE COLLECTION comes to us from Arrow Video. The outer box, the type that Arrow has been using for years which is a style that many other companies have copied, is a hard box that houses the contents of the set nice and snuggly. The artwork is a commission done by The Twins of Evil who also did the artwork for each film. Inside the box, you will find four clear blu-ray cases. Three of these cases house two films apiece while the last one only houses the WHO IS BILL REBANE? documentary. These cases feature the above-mentioned Twins of Evil artwork and it is reversible for all four cases with one side for each film on that disc. This is something that Arrow Video has been doing to cut down on costs and I don't mind it. While it would be nice to have each film on it's own separate disc with its own separate case, that really isn't possible without the set costing an arm and a leg. Also inside the case is a 60-page hardcover booklet featuring a big essay by author Stephen Thrower, a list of credits for the films included in the set, and information about each transfer used in the set. Lastly, there is a double-sided, glossy poster featuring the two main commissioned artwork pieces by The Twins of Evil.

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Overall

WEIRD WISCONSIN: THE BILL REBANE COLLECTION is a must-own for fans of the man's work. We are given a big chunk of his filmography (there are only four films not included here) and while all the films are not very good, they do represent a time in film history we are never going to see again. Rebane was able to make the films he wanted to make, the way he wanted to make them, and he did it at a studio that he created. The only thing missing here are some commentary tracks. I would have loved to hear from some film scholars or even a filmmaker like Fred Olen Ray, who knows all about low-budget filmmaking. 
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Packaging


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