Shorts! (Blu-ray Reviews Done Quickly) Vol. 4: Starman (Collector's Edition), Waterworld (Limited Edition), The Predator (Digibook), and Graduation Day

Studio: Scream Factory
Release Date: December 14th, 1984 (theatrical) / December 18th, 2018 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 115 mins
Region Code: A (locked)
Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith
Written by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon
Directed by John Carpenter
Rating: PG (language, some violence, and brief nudity)

John Carpenter is known for making really dark films. This is the man who had his “hero” ruin a peace summit (Escape from New York) and reset the world technologically (Escape from L.A.), left the ending open in The Thing, and lead the world into chaos (In the Mouth of Madness), and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Carpenter loves dark films but jumped at the chance to make a positive film when the opportunity arose in 1984. The result was Starman, a film that found Jeff Bridges as an alien who needs to travel across the country to get to the ride that will be arriving shortly. He takes the form of Karen Allen’s dead husband and they fall in love all over again. The film is a nice change of pace for Carpenter and he blends in very nicely. His style is all over this film with his love of the widescreen format and his love of effects. The introduction of the alien that will take the form of Jeff Bridges is both horrifying and beautiful. The film doesn’t have an offensive bone in its body and is sweet natured and fun.

Scream Factory has brought the film to blu-ray, after a Sony release back in the day, and the results are pretty nice. The picture and sound are carried over from that Sony release, which means that both are of very good quality. Sure, we would have loved a brand new scan, but what we have is still good. The special features are the reason to pick this release up. There are two big features here and they are a brand new retrospective featuring John Carpenter, Jeff Bridges, Charles Martin Smith, and Sandy King Carpenter. The other is a commentary track with Carpenter and Bridges. This track, which is awesome as usual, is making its U.S. debut after being a U.K. exclusive for what seems like forever. There is also a vintage featurette, a teaser, a trailer, some tv spots, and a stills gallery. This is a wonderful release that belongs next to the other Carpenter blu-ray releases that Scream Factory has released.

Special Features:

They Came from Hollywood: Remembering Starman (23m 55s, HD)
Vintage Making of Featurette (11m 20s, HD, 1.33:1)
Teaser Trailer (50s, HD, 1.85:1)
Theatrical Trailer (2m 18s, HD, 1.85:1)
TV Spots (1m 51s, SD, 1.33:1) 4 spots
Still Gallery (8m 2s, HD)
Commentary with John Carpenter and Jeff Bridges (found in the setup menu)

Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: July 28th, 1995 (theatrical) / January 22nd, 2019 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 135m (theatrical) / 176 mins (TV Cut) / 177 mins (The Ulysess Cut)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: No (Hard Box Limited Edition)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino, Michael Jeter, and R.D. Call
Written by Peter Rader and David Twohy
Directed by Kevin Reynolds
Rating: PG-13 (some intense scenes of action violence, brief nudity and language) (theatrical only)

If you were around in the 90’s, there is a really good chance you heard of Waterworld. The film was crucified in the media for going over budget by tens of millions of dollars, becoming the biggest budgeted film of all time (at the time), and for being a disaster even before anyone saw the film. When the film was finally released in the summer of 1995, it opened at #1 at the box office in the U.S. and would go onto gross over $300 million at the worldwide box office. The film wasn’t a big hit, but it wasn’t the mega bomb everyone thought it would be. It is still thought of as a flop, but that is just not the case. So, how is the film? It has been compared to as Mad Max on the water, and that is an apt comparison...on the surface. The Mad Max films are all high adrenaline thrill rides and are incredibly well-made films that are in a league of their own. Waterworld, while pretty well made, is exciting at the beginning and at the end, but is a slog to get through during the middle slump of the film. I blame a lot of the problems on Kevin Costner. I just don’t think that he is very good here, electing to be a silent bore for the entire film. The action is very well handled, but the film seems slapped together instead of one big story. I have seen Waterworld a few times over the years (including once in the theater) and I have never really warmed up to the film.

This blu-ray, from Arrow Video, is something that fans of the film have been asking for for a long time. There are three versions of the film found here, each taking up its own disc. Disc one finds the theatrical version of the film. This is the version that is commonly in release. Over on disc two is the TV version of the film. When the film aired on ABC, it was presented with over 40 mins of deleted scenes. These scenes helped flesh out the film and do fix some of the problems that I have had with the film over the years. Since this the TV version of the film, all of the language, nudity, and the more graphic violence that was in the theatrical version of the film. The third disc houses, what is called the “Ulysses Cut”. This version of the film is the same as the TV version but without the cuts to the language, violence, and nudity. So, three versions of the film is a pretty big deal and I know that fans will love this set.

Moving onto the picture quality, it is pretty good. I am not sure if this is a new scan, but the film looks great no matter what version you decide to watch. The audio quality is also really good as well. The special features are headed up by a brand new feature-length documentary about the making of the film. This doc dives into all of the controversies that film faced all the while covering the making of the film. This is another great doc from the guys over at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. There is also a featurette that takes a look at the subgenre of "end of the world" films that is a pretty good watch even if its only to get the names of the films featured. The rest of the features that we have come to love on Arrow Video release. We get a ton of still galleries and trailers. Both the second and third discs do not feature any special features outside of the films. This edition of Waterworld is the definitive version of the film and is worthy of being in any fan’s collection.

Special Features:

Disc 1: The Theatrical Version (2h 15m, HD)

Maelstrom: The Odyssey of Waterworld (1h 42m, HD)
Dances with Waves (9m 20s, SD, 1.33:1) Archival making-of featurette.
Global Warnings (22m 21s, HD) Film critic Glenn Kenny explores the subgenre of End-of-the-world Hollywood blockbusters.
Image Galleries:
Production Images:
Concept art (63 images)
Prodcution stills (73 images)
Behind the scenes: Hawaii (35 images)
Behind the scenes: L.A. (24 images)
Miniatures and effects (45 images)
Promotional Image Gallery (36 images)
Original Trailers:
Original teaser (2m, HD, 2.35:1) Features James Earl Jones narration.
Original trailer (2m 15s, HD)
Original TV spots (9m 6s, HD, 1.85:1, 4x3) 14 spots

Disc #2: TV Cut (2h 56m, HD)

Disc #3: The Ulysses Cut (2h 57m, HD)

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: September 14th, 2018 (theatrical) /  December 18th, 2018 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 106 mins
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (2.39:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, and French
Slipcover: Yes (Digibook)
Digital Copy: Yes
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Alfie Allen, Trevante Rhodes, and Sterling K. Brown
Written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker
Directed by Shane Black
Rating: R (strong bloody violence, language throughout, and crude sexual references)

The Predator is a really good action film that didn’t get the attention it deserved. It got attention, but for all the wrong reasons. What people blew off as a disaster turned out to be a very good action film that is gleefully bloody and funny as hell. Shane Black, who wrote Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight has crafted a film that is a very loving tribute to the 1987 classic. While the film is a bit messy at times (because of the unnecessary reshoots), the film more than makes up for it with thrilling action scenes, funny, well written characters, and tons of gore. I had a blast when I saw the film in theaters on opening night and I had a blast watching it on blu-ray. This is another well done sequel in a franchise that gets less love with each sequel that comes out.

The blu-ray, from Fox Home Entertainment, is nice, but lacking. The picture and sound are, of course, really nice. The special features, on the other hand, aren’t really worth it. We get a few deleted scenes, but we know that the entire third act was reshot so why aren’t those scenes here? In fact, the scenes that are here aren’t even from the thid act. They are character scenes that are from the first half of the film. Come on Fox, we all know that you are the newest Disney bitch, but you could have put forth a little effort. The rest of the features are EPK featuettes about the making of the film. This version that I have comes inside a very nice digibook that features art from the film. This version is only available at Target, but I really like this packaging so it was a no-brainer for me. Still, I would recommend the film and the blu-ray, but don’t waste your time with the special features.

Special Features:

Deleted Scenes (6m 55s, HD)
        Traeger Meets McKenna
Lynch Goes Shopping
Surveying the House
Nettles' Outtakes
A Touch of Black (10m 28s, HD)
Predator Evolution (20m 11s, HD)
The Takedown Team (16m 14s, HD)
Predator Catch Up (9m 7s, HD)
Gallery (1m 50s, HD)
Theatrical Trailers (6m 6s, HD)
        Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Final Trailer

Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Release Date: May 1st, 1981 (theatrical) / September 9th, 2014 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 97 mins
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.78:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: None
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Christopher George, Patch Mackenzie, E. Danny Murphy, E.J. Peaker, Michael Pataki, and Richard Balin
Written by Anne Marisse and Herb Freed
Directed by Herb Freed
Rating: R (horror violence and gore, some language, and brief nudity)

Graduation Day came out during the heyday of the slasher boom in the early 80’s. The film has many of the ingredients that would make a slasher film popular, but it doesn’t hit the right notes to make it right. Some of the kills are pretty good, but most of them are silly and nonsensical. The characters aren’t really given much of anything to do before they are killed off and the pacing is all over the map. The bright spot of the film is the direction (for the most part). The director created some really nice stalking scenes filled with suspense. We also have tons of red herrings so we never really know who the killer is until the final act of the film. Still, the film didn’t really win me over, but it sure did try.

The blu-ray, from Vinegar Syndrome, is pretty nice. The picture quality is really nice with colors and detail really showing through. The audio is nice as well, although I found the dialogue to be a bit quieter at times. The special features are really nice, with two worthwhile commentary tracks (with one done by The Hysteria Continues podcast) and four interviews, with the film’s theatrical trailer rounding out the features. While I wasn’t over the moon by the film, I do still recommend this blu-ray, especially to slasher fans.

Special Features:

Commentary by producer David Baughn.
Commentary by The Hysteria Continues.
Interview with actress Patch Mackenzie (8m 48s, HD)
Interview with director Herb Freed (12m 22s, HD)
Interview with producer Dave Baughn (11m 34s, HD)
Interview with editor Martin Jay Sadoff (7:20, HD)
Theatrical Trailer (2m 4s, HD)

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