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Entries in Blu-ray (3)


Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter

Blu-ray review


Phil Caracas

Murielle Varhelyi

Maria Moulton

Directed by:

Lee Demarbre

The tagline for Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is "the power of Christ impales you", and that line should tell you whether or not you'll enjoy this film.

As the title implies, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is about Jesus Christ's quest to eradicate vampires in Ottawa, Ontario.  The bloodsuckers have apparently been around a long time, but have become particularly troublesome in recent months because they've been rounding up lesbians.

Why, you ask, are the vampires rounding up lesbians?  Apparently, if you graft the skin of a lesbian onto a vampire, the vampire can then walk around in daylight.  No, I'm not making this up.  Oh, it also has a musical sequence.

In case you hadn't figured it out, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is a B-movie, through and through.  It was shot on 16MM film, and they had no audio on set, so all the dialogue was dubbed in (badly) using ADR processes later on.

In 2008, someone decided to dust off the original negative and create a high definition transfer of this film.  Surprisingly enough, it looks fantastic for something that was shot on 16MM film with a crappy little handheld camera.  The problems with this transfer are obviously from the original negative (e.g. damage during cutting, framing issues).

Audio is pretty lacklustre, living up to the original stereo mix that was created for the film.  It sounds awful, but that's how it's supposed to sound. 

Special features are fairly limited, including a 15 minute retrospective with some of the cast and crew filmed nine years after the movie was finished.

One part Evil Dead and two parts 70's Kung Fu film, JCVH is actually a pretty entertaining film.  It does have a hard time sustaining it's 85 minute run time, but the creators knew to hold some of the fun back for the big finish.  They have a surprising amount of stunts, but not very much in the way of special effects.  That doesn't stop them from staging a blow out ending that involves a fog machine and a mirror (again, not making this up).

Oh, they also seem to think you won't look at anything except what they will you to look at on screen, so keep an eye out for stray crew members, guts made of what looks like toilet paper tubes and cotton balls, fabric intenstines used as a weapon, and an airline pilot mysteriously changing gender from one cut to another.

For fans of bad movies, it doesn't get much better than this.  Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is destined to become a classic along the lines of Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space.


The Brothers Bloom

Blu-ray Review


Adrien Brody

Mark Ruffalo

Rachel Weisz

Directed by:

Rian Johnson

For those of you who are not familar with The Brothers Bloom, it tells the story of two brothers, Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo).  The brothers are con men, with Stephen being the architect behind their schemes and Bloom his reluctant muse.

The film starts out during the brothers' childhood, with Stephen and Bloom bouncing from one foster home to another.  During one of these bounces the brothers discover their true calling, grifting.

After their first con is complete, flash forward twenty years, and we meet up with the brothers again in their adulthood.  We also meet the third man in their crew (Rinko Kikuchi), an asian woman who rarely speaks and is most commonly referred to as "Bang Bang" because of her love of explosives.  Bloom wants out of the con man game, and Stephen wants to set up one more score.  The mark is a wealthy heiress, Penelope (Rachel Weisz), who has a comical ability to repeatedly crash her Lamborghini.

We follow this con from its inception through to its inevitable end, with a few predictable and not so predictable twists along the way. 

The Brothers Bloom is not a perfect movie, however it does tell an engaging story.  After watching it, my wife and I were running through the names of our friends who we thought would appreciate it, and the others we thought would hate it, and the fact that we were able to have that discussion tells me there is definitely something here.

The problems with the movie tend to primarily be due to an uneven tone.  The Brothers Bloom switches between slapstick comedy, subtle comedy and drama, and the background is filled with tiny details careful viewers will thoroughly appreciate.  Unfortunately, the changes between drama and comedy can be somewhat jarring.

The plot is also fairly convoluted, and relies on a lot of deus ex machina to get us from point A to point B (and C and D).

I'm trying not to come across as negative, because I actually enjoyed the film.  There were many moments when I found myself laughing out loud, and by the end, I genuinely cared about the characters.  It's the kind of film I could see myself watching multiple times, but where I'd need to leave a fair amount of time between viewings (so it could "surprise" me again).

People who like the films of Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) will probably find themselves enjoying this film.  People who prefer a film to settle on a style (either realistic, or slapstick), will probably be turned off by the abrupt changes in tone.

For fans of the genre, and fans of any of the creative team who put this together, you won't regret seeing The Brothers Bloom.  I wouldn't recommend it as a blind buy for anyone, but it's a very strong rental.


Terminator Salvation

Blu-ray Review


Christian Bale

Sam Worthington

Moon Bloodgood

Anton Yelchin

Directed by



The Terminator franchise is an odd one.  There have been four movies now, all with pretty long delays between them, and the franchise has been saddled with financial issues as the backing studios have either gone belly up, or sold the rights in order to maintain cash flow.  About the only thing that's consistent between the four films is the premise: killer machines out to wipe out humanity.

The fourth installment in the series, Terminator Salvation, is better than it has been given credit for.  McG has shown he can put together an action sequence and have it make sense, and he also shown that he understands the history of the franchise and its roots.  Having said that, Salvation is not a classic film like the original or Terminator 2: Judgement Day, but it is certainly stronger than the third outing in the franchise.

Salvation takes place in the future, after judgement day.  John Connor (Christian Bale) is fighting the war against the machines while former death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) tries to help a teenage Kyle Reese(Anton Yelchin) - John Connor's future father - escape from a levelled Los Angeles filled with terminators.  Throughout the course of the story we are introduced to Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood), an A-10 pilot who is shot down while trying to assist Wright and Reese in their escape.

The plot is essentially an excuse to move from one huge action set piece to the next, but it does a good job of holding the story together and remaining true to the original films. The performances are stellar, especially Worthington's portrayal of Marcus Wright and Anton Yelchin's fully believable performance as a young Kyle Reese (played as an adult by Michael Biehn in the original Terminator film).  Christian Bale does a great job playing a tortured John Connor, who is trying to determine what changes have happened in the timeline as a result of the machines that have come back in time to kill him in the prior films.

The special effects are also spectacular.  There are many scenes that are reminscient of (or lifted directly from) other films, including Aliens, War of the Worlds, The Road Warrior and Transformers, and the film sometimes crosses the line between homage and rip off.  It's also filled with subtle (and a few not so subtle) call backs to previous films.  At one point, John Connor is trying to draw a Terminator's attention, so he plays music from a boom box (Guns 'n Roses "You Could Be Mine", first heard in T2), at an earlier point Kyle Reese says the line he will later famously say to Sarah Connor in the first Terminator, "come with me if you want to live." (and a line which is repeated by Arnold Schwarzneggar's "friendly" Terminator in T2).

As far as the Blu-ray release goes, it's one of the best I've seen.  The silver-retention film process that was used to shoot the film is rendered perfectly on the Blu-ray, giving it a gritty feel with a colour palette that feels just slightly "off" (but in a good way).  The audio is superb, with lots of surround activity, great highs and  beautiful low frequencies.  The special features are also spectacular, including one of Warner Bros "Total Movie Experiences" which allow you to watch the film as director McG walks you through the choices he made and allows you to understand the work that went into some of the scenes in the film.  If you watch the TME, you will completely understand where the money that went into this film was spent; it's all up there on the screen.

Terminator Salvation is not going to become a long term classic like the original or Terminator 2, but it is a very strong action picture, and a good addition to the Terminator franchise.  The story is serviceable, the actors give great performances and the action sequences are spectacular.  Compared to most franchises that reach a fourth film (Lethal Weapon 4, anyone?) Terminator Salvation is high art.