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Thursday, May 21, 2015

"THAT GIRL" with Marlo Thomas -- Stadium Media to Distribute Classic 60's Sitcom

LOS ANGELES, CA – Stadium Media announced today that it is set to distribute the classic television show “That Girl” via digital platforms.  “That Girl” first aired in 1966 and starred the effervescent Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie, a struggling actress in New York.  Current plans are set for “That Girl” Season 1 to stream on Hulu beginning May 22, 2015.   Season 2 will follow shortly thereafter.  The digital deal was jointly announced by Mitch Mallon, founder of Stadium Media and Paul Brownstein, whose company owns home entertainment distribution rights to more than 4,000 hours of classic television. 
“We’re delighted to be offering fans of classic television this gem on digital platforms,” commented Mallon.  “We are also pleased to be able to open the eyes of a new generation to this wonderful and iconic television program.”

“That Girl” premiered in 1966 and was one of the first sitcoms to concentrate on a single woman who was not a domestic or living with her parents. The program is considered by many to be the precursor of such influential programs as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Murphy Brown,” and “Ally McBeal,” and a reflection of the changing roles of American women in feminist-era America.   Also featuring Ted Bessell as Ann Marie’s boyfriend Donald, “That Girl” had a cast that included George Carlin, Dabney Coleman, Ruth Buzzi and Bernie Kopell among others.
With a subject that was revolutionary in its depiction of a young, modern woman, “That Girl” was unique for its time.  And as its newest acquisition, it is also a reflection of Stadium Media’s founding principles:  as a company that is equally independent as it helps independent filmmakers find their digital home in a vibrant and ever-changing marketplace.
Paul Brownstein is an executive producer who has worked in the fields of television, music, recording, radio, concert touring and home video.  Paul Brownstein Productions owns worldwide TV and home video distribution rights to classic TV comedy, variety series and specials, including “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and has worked with clients such as Cher, Richard Pryor, Groucho Marx Productions and Lucille Ball Productions. 
About Stadium Media
Stadium Media is a digital distribution company and content provider with a proven track record in an ever-changing marketplace.  The company has successful long-term business relationships with the top platforms including iTunes, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and Google.  Its founder, Mitch Mallon, is a 25-year entertainment veteran who has achieved tremendous success in the music, home entertainment and digital entertainment industries.  He has over a decade of experience in the digital distribution arena and was a key player in the launch of one of the industry’s first digital content companies, Egami Media, a subsidiary of Image Entertainment.  The field was virtually unknown at the time and he built relationships with accounts very well known today including iTunes, Hulu Plus and Google.  Stadium Media is where the content finds its audience.



Anyone who knows what an animation cel is should at least be aware of the classic Warner Brothers theatrical cartoon shorts of the 30s-60s.  If you grew up with them, then chances are that they, along with the equally brilliant MGM cartoons of the same era, are among your all-time favorites. 

And since they were made to entertain both the adults and children in the theater audience with a combination of slapstick absurdity and wry, sophisticated humor, their appeal doesn't diminish with the passage of time.  Indeed, many of them are even more impressive today than ever before.

If nothing else, the Warner Brothers animation department--including such directors as Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, and Robert McKimson--were a wildly innovative bunch, and this is rarely more evident than in their experimental music-based cartoons.  Some of these, such as "Rabbit of Seville", "One Froggy Evening", and "What's Opera, Doc?", are nothing short of astounding.  With LOONEY TUNES MUSICAL MASTERPIECES, Warner Home Entertainment has collected 18 of these on one DVD which should delight any fan of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.

Not only do we get a cross-section of the best WB musical cartoons but also, for most of them, commentary tracks by film historians and in some cases the original directors, animators, etc.  Some also have isolated music and voice tracks. 

The artwork and design of these classic shorts are just as beautiful as ever, from the more lavish, rounded figures and backgrounds of the earlier ones ("I Love to Singa", "Page Miss Glory", "Katnip Kollege", "Rhapsody in Rivets") to the later, more abstract and angular look of the "modern"-era cartoons (the mindboggling "What's Opera, Doc?" and "One Froggy Evening", the jazzy "Three Little Bops").  Even the occasional misfire ("Nelly's Folly", "High Note") is worth a look. 

Old standby characters are called into service and perform brilliantly, with such legendary figures as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, and Sylvester the Cat ("Back Alley Oproar") proving themselves quite adaptable to the musical format thanks to the voice talents of the great Mel Blanc, Arthur Q. Bryan, Stan Freberg, and others.  Warner Brothers musical maestros Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn provide the robust musical backing. 

Bugs is the runaway star here--in addition to "Rabbit of Seville" and "What's Opera, Doc?", he's also at his irreverent best in "Corny Concerto", "Rhapsody Rabbit", and "Hillbilly Hare" with its hilarious square-dance finale.  But the one-shot efforts in which the directors were allowed to experiment most freely ("Pizzicato Pussycat", "Lights Fantastic", "Pigs in a Polka", the delightful "Holiday Shoestrings") are loaded with a warmth and charm all their own. 

The DVD from Warner Home Entertainment is in the original standard format with Dolby English and Spanish mono and English subtitles.  In addition to the various commentary and isolated tracks are the "Behind-the-Tunes" featurettes "It Hopped One Night: A Look at 'One Froggy Evening'", "Wagnerian Wabbit: The Making of 'What's Opera, Doc?'", "Merrie Melodies: Carl Stalling and Cartoon Music", and "Sing-a-Song of Looney Tunes."

Those who grew up with Looney Tunes already know how great they are, but for anyone who has somehow managed to miss out on the wonders of the Warner Brothers theatrical cartoons all these years, LOONEY TUNES MUSICAL MASTERPIECES should be a real eye--and ear--opener. 
Street date: May 26, 2015


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season" - The 1st Successful Spy Show on American Televison Comes to DVD!


Features All 29 Digitally Remastered Episodes and Nearly 2 Hours of Bonus Content

BURBANK, CA (May 18, 2015) – The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has captured the hearts of its viewers since its premiere in 1964. This critically-acclaimed spoof television series featuring Leo G. Carrol, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy was the first successful spy show on American television and one of the first series to become an international phenomenon. Prior to the theatrical release of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in August 2015, fans can now relive their favorite moments as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment gets set to release The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season on DVD August 4, 2015.

This digitally enhanced series, also nominated for 7 Emmy Awards over its successful 4 season run, includes 29 one-hour long episodes of priceless entertainment and over 100 minutes of enhanced content. Order due date is June 30, 2015.

In this hit spoof of the spy genre, actors Robert Vaughn and David McCallum play the roles of top agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin who use their charm, wit, and a never-ending assortment of gadgets to defend the world from evil, chaos and bad taste. The successful series also stars Leo G. Carrol as Alexander Waverly and features guest stars such as William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, of Star Trek, Kurt Russell, Ricardo Montalban and longtime comedy favorite Ken Murray. From trying to save the world from fear gas to trying to save themselves from a pack of bloodthirsty cheetahs, these serious spies bring the suspense and fun to life. You may even forget it's in black and white!

“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season is the first successful spy series of its kind and we are proud to bring it back to viewers to experience all the action” said Rosemary Markson, WBHE Senior Vice President, Television Marketing. “The episodes have been digitally remastered and will allow audiences young and old to relive this phenomenon before the theatrical release!”

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season Enhanced on DVD includes 29 1-Hour Episodes:


The Vulcan Affair
1.       The Iowa-Scuba Affair
2.       The Quadripartite Affair


3.       The Shark Affair
4.       The Deadly Games Affair
5.       The Green Opal Affair


6.       The Giuoco Piano Affair
7.       The Double Affair
8.       The Project Strigas Affair


9.       The Finny Foot Affair
10.   The Neptune Affair
11.   The Dove Affair


12.   The King of Knaves Affair
13.   The Terbuf Affair
14.   The Deadly Decoy Affair

15.   DISC SIX

16.   The Fiddlesticks Affair
17.   The Yellow Scarf Affair
18.   The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair


19.   The Secret Sceptre Affair
20.   The Bow-Wow Affair
21.   The Four-Steps Affair


22.   The See-Paris-And-Die Affair
23.   The Brain-Killer Affair
24.   The Hong Kong Shilling Affair


25.   The Never-Never Affair
26.   The Love Affair
27.   The Gazebo in the Maze Affair


28.   The Girls of Nazarene Affair
29.   The Odd Man Affair


•         Bonus Features

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Inc.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment's home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees.

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Do you dare enter "THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET"? Coming May 26th to DVD from Level 33 Entertainment!

Level 33 Entertainment Announces the May 26, 2015 DVD Release of
The Acclaimed Horror/Thriller Film

Los Angeles, CA - Level 33 Entertainment announced today the upcoming release of the psychological horror / thriller feature film THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET available for the first time on DVD at and fine retailers everywhere beginning on May 26, 2015.  The film has just completed a successful limited theatrical run.

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET was written and directed by festival award winning director, Arthur Luhn (Conned, The Golden Legacy) and was produced by Bill McAdams Jr. (Money Shot, House Of Fear). The film was an official selection of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, the Northampton International Film Festival, and the winner of the Golden Reel Award at the Nevada Film Festival. 

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET features the talented cast of Ethan Embry (Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie”, Eagle Eye, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), Academy Award ® Nominee Eric Roberts (Inherent Vice, The Expendables, The Dark Knight), Jessica Sonneborn (Alice D, Dorothy and the Witches from Oz), Alex Rocco (The Godfather, The Wedding Planner), and Courtney Gains (Sweet Home Alabama, Back To The Future).

Synopsis:  When Amy moves into a new apartment, she notices strange things happening at THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET. Always a curious girl, Amy is compelled to investigate further. The more she finds out, the closer she gets to the center of a horrific conspiracy that threatens to tear apart her new town and destroy the lives of its people.

View the Official Teaser Trailer here:

ABOUT Level 33 Entertainment
Los Angeles based Level 33 Entertainment is an entertainment company dedicated to redefining the landscape for independent film distribution.  Level 33 provides innovative sales, marketing and distribution services for feature films and entertainment content, delivering a flexible and transparent distribution solution for all platforms including Theatrical, Home Entertainment, Digital and Broadcast.
Twitter:  @Level33_ent

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Red Sea Media to Handle International Sales on 10-Picture American International Pictures Horror Classic Remakes

Connected Universe of Bad Girls, Antiheroes & Monsters Will Begin Principle Photography This Fall
LOS ANGELES/CANNES (May 16, 2015) – Red Sea Media is handling international sales on Cinedigm’s American International Pictures (AIP) reinventions of the 1950s genre classics. Lou Arkoff (THE MESSENGERS, DARKNESS FALLS, INSPECTOR GADGET), Jeff Katz (FREDDY VS. JASON, SNAKES ON A PLANE, WOLVERINE) and Hal Sadoff (THE NICE GUYS, THE BREED, HOTEL RWANDA) are set to produce this ten-picture deal. The AIP reinventions have a September production start earmarked. All ten titles are scheduled to shoot back-to-back. Cast and directors are expected to be announced shortly.
Former New Line and Fox executive Jeff Katz penned each script and the ten individual stories will feed into one epic overarching storyline across all ten films.  Arkoff is the son of the late Samuel Z. Arkoff, co-founder of AIP and has previously remade AIP titles for Showtime and HBO. This unique 10 picture project will deliver a complete reinvention of the quirkiest and most memorable movies in the famed American International Pictures portfolio, flipping them into an R-rated comic book style movie universe with multiple interconnecting characters.
American International Pictures (AIP) was founded in 1954 by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff. After realizing the growth and influence of teenage movie-goers, Nicholson and Arkoff set off over the next 30 years inundating the teen market with action, comedy and horror films. AIP grew very lucrative in the 1960s mainly due to Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptations.  Corman was soon dubbed "The King of the Cult Film" and "The Pope of Pop Cinema", and to this day dozens of his films are still considered genuine cult classics, and inspirations for many filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovich.
Roman Kopelevich is the CEO and founder of Red Sea Media and its genre label Dead Sea Media which was launched in December 2011 with Vadim Gorainov and Svetlana Snitko.
Red Sea's slate includes BEYOND SKYLINE directed by Liam O'Donnell; THE 7TH TEAR, a science fiction adventure film produced by Brett Ratner, Matthew Chausse and Greg & Colin Strause and John Cheng; SQUIRRELS produced by Timur Bekmambetov (director of BEN HUR, WANTED, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER), and the science fiction supernatural film, CHIMERA, produced by Hydraulx. Completed films include THE ENGLISH TEACHER (starring Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins and Nathan Lane), THE TIMBER, starring Josh Peck and produced by Scott Einbinder; FRANKIE GO BOOM (starring Lizzy Caplan, Ron Perlman & Chris O'Dowd); OFFICER DOWN (starring Stephen Dorff & James Woods); PAWN (starring Forest Whitaker, Nikki Reed & Ray Liotta); FREE SAMPLES (Jesse Eisenberg); 10 RULES FOR SLEEPING AROUND from ThinkFactory; and JULIA X 3D, (starring Kevin Sorbo).
Founded in 1954 by Samuel Arkoff and James H. Nicholson, AIP specialized in low-budget, independent films aimed at the teenage audience. AIP produced or distributed more than 500 films during its existence, including the Beach Party series with Frankie Avalon and the late Annette Funicello as well as the early films of director Roger Corman. In 1979, AIP merged with Filmways, which later was folded into Orion Pictures. Currently, the rest of the library is owned by MGM, Orion’s successor.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY -- Blu-ray+CD Review by Porfle

Jess Franco's immediate follow-up to his relatively well-made VAMPYROS LESBOS is another dark, death-shrouded vehicle for the lovely and exotic Soledad Miranda (again billed as "Susann Korda") featuring some of the same castmembers including Paul Müller, Ewa Strömberg, and Franco himself.

The result, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1971), is a slasher/revenge thriller which stands with his previous effort as one of my two favorite Franco films so far.

The storyline this time is lean and simple--genetic research scientist Dr. Johnson (Fred Williams) commits suicide after his maverick work with human embryos is viciously derided as inhumane by his peers, who suggest he be not only imprisoned but even executed for such atrocious ideas.

Devastated, his devoted wife (Soledad Miranda, known only as "Mrs. Johnson" throughout the film) vows revenge against the four scientists she holds responsible for her husband's death. These are Prof. Jonathan Walker (Howard Vernon), Dr. Franklin Houston (Paul Müller), Dr. Crawford (Ewa Strömberg), and, last but not least, Jesús Franco as the understandably nervous Dr. Donen.

Even before the murders begin, we get an idea of how casually perverse SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is when we learn that Mrs. Johnson is keeping her husband's death a secret in order to have necrophilic relations with his corpse. While this may sound romantic on paper, it comes off as a bit strange in practice.

Soledad Miranda handles these scenes as she does all her others, with a smoldering intensity that is always enhanced by her dark, exquisite physical beauty. When she becomes a seductive femme fatale, donning various guises to stalk her male and female prey before brutally killing them, her presence always fascinates.

As Franco's muse for all-too-short a time, she seems to inspire him to do some of his best work. For example, the death of Dr. Crawford (Strömberg, who played Countess Carody's lover in VAMPYROS LESBOS) is artfully choreographed and shot, with the added visual flair of having the hapless woman suffocated with a clear plastic pillow through which we can still see her anguished face.

The murders of the male victims are more brutal and violent, although much of this is suggested rather than graphically depicted. Still, it's shocking enough to see Mrs. Johnson going through the motions of castration and aggravated genital mutilation (Franco's unfortunate shlub of a character gets special attention) on a level usually reserved for the most agregious rape-revenge plots.

This emphasizes just how deranged she is and to what extent she must sadistically torture and degrade the objects of her wrath as punishment for driving her husband to suicide. These scenes are heavily sado-masochistic as well.

A limited collector's edition, the handsome 2-disc Blu-ray+CD set from Severin Films is in 16 x 9 widescreen with 2.0 sound. The soundtrack is German with English subtitles. Extras consist of a 20-minute Franco interview, an interview with Soledad Miranda historian Amy Brown (the same one found in Severin's VAMPYROS LESBOS set), an interview with "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jess Franco" author Stephen Thrower, a brief interview with actor Paul Müller, and the original German trailer.

Disc two is actually a music CD entitled "3 Films by Jess Franco" containing tracks from VAMPYROS LESBOS, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY, and THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA. These 24 musical tracks by Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab are offbeat and enjoyable--much more so, in fact, when isolated in this way than when heard as backing for scenes which, in my opinion, they're often wildly inappropriate. I found much of this music to be terrifically listenable.

Although still displaying that unpolished quality characteristic of Franco's work, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is more crisply wrought and thematically unfettered than his other films I've seen. And as a companion piece to VAMPYROS LESBOS, it stands as a fitting testament to the talent and appeal of Soledad Miranda, whose promising career was so tragically cut short by a fatal car accident soon after filming was completed.

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(Stills shown are not taken from the Blu-ray.)

Other Jess Franco reviews from HK and Cult Film News:



VAMPYROS LESBOS -- Blu-ray+DVD Review by Porfle

So far, I've seen five films by cult director Jesús "Jess" Franco, including THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA, THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF, BLOODY MOON, and PAULA-PAULA. Not enough to call myself an expert on the prolific filmmaker, but enough to conclude that I'll probably never become a devoted Francophile since I find little of his work particularly compelling unto itself.

That said, I do find most of it fun to watch even if it's often in a "so bad it's good" kind of way. My fifth Franco film, VAMPYROS LESBOS (1971), is the best one I've seen so far and definitely worth watching, although I wouldn't call it a must-see unless you're already a fan.

This sun-blanched, 70s-tacky vampire yarn is like a distaff version of "Dracula", with Ewa Stroemberg (SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY) as Linda and Soledad Miranda (here billed as "Susann Korda") as Countess Nadine Carody filling in for Jonathan Harker and Count Dracula. Linda arrives at the Countess' sunny island in Istanbul to help expedite a legal matter--namely, the inheritance by Nadine of the late Count Dracula's estate--and ends up mired in a nightmarish lesbian affair with the undead beauty in which she unwillingly supplies both emotional and physical sustenance, i.e. blood.

Linda has already been having dreams about Nadine before meeting her, so the attraction is mutual. After some skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing, Nadine drugs Linda's drink (this vampire DOES drink wine) and has her "vampyros lesbos" way with her, giving Franco the first of several chances to enhance his film with some "Cinemax After Dark"-style softcore sex before the lady vamp goes for the jugular.

After waking up with confused memories of the encounter, Linda and her boyfriend Omar (Viktor Feldmann) seek the help of Dr. Seward (Dennis Price, VENUS IN FURS), a specialist in the supernatural whose sanitarium is home to a madwoman named Agra (Heidrun Kussin), also a victim of Countess Carody. Of course, the troubled inmate in the thrall of the vampire, the occult-savvy Dr. Seward, and the sanitarium setting itself are all further references to the original Dracula story.

The plot proceeds at a snail's pace most of the way and not a whole lot exciting happens with the exception of a few key scenes such as the showdown between the Countess and Dr. Seward and Linda's capture and near-murder by a demented hotel employee played by Franco himself. Things come to a rather sedate climax that builds little suspense and goes more for tragedy than horror as the Countess spins her web of forbidden desire for the hapless Linda.

Visually, VAMPYROS LESBOS often resembles a Doris Wishman film with its rough-hewn production values and garish, often kitschy design, all in distinctive Eastmancolor. As expected, the camerawork is clumsy at times but Franco shows some style as well as his usual inborn zest for filmmaking. A strangely inappropriate score by Manfred Hubler, Siegfried Schwab, and Jess Franco is a mish-mash of noodly jazz, twangy sitar notes, and what sounds like someone mumbling robotically through a distorted speaker.

Performances are mostly wooden save for Heidrun Kussin's frantic portrayal of Agra, while Soledad Miranda's dark beauty and charisma as the Countess (she reminds me of Victoria Vetri) lend the film much of its appeal. Also appearing are Paul Muller (NIGHTMARE CASTLE) and J. Martinez Blanco as the Countess' loyal servant Morpho.

A limited collector's edition, the attractively packaged 2-disc Blu-ray+DVD set from Severin Films is in 16 x 9 widescreen with 2.0 sound. The soundtrack is German with English subtitles. Extras consist of a 20-minute Franco interview, an interview with Soledad Miranda historian Amy Brown, an interview with "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jess Franco" author Stephen Thrower, a brief clip in which Franco explains how he was the inspiration for the "Star Wars" character Yoda, trailers, and the alternate German opening titles sequence.

While disc one contains the German-language HD-remastered Blu-ray version of the film, disc two is the "bootleg" Spanish-dubbed DVD version. The print has that "grindhouse" look (which I like because of the nostalgia value) and is a shorter edit with several trims and all of the nudity deleted. (This includes two lengthy sequences in which Soledad Miranda's character does an erotic dance in a local nightclub.) Another big difference is an alternate organ-based musical score which sounds much more like a traditional creepy score for a horror movie.

Slow-moving and dry, VAMPYROS LESBOS nevertheless has that indefinable Jess Franco quality that should appeal to his fans. For others, this very sunny and not all that horrific vampire tale will either be a bore or a pleasant diversion.

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(Photos shown are not stills from the Blu-ray.)


Sunday, May 10, 2015

THE DROWNSMAN -- DVD Review by Porfle

Creepy in a way that harkens back to such now-vintage horrors as NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, THE DROWNSMAN (2014) scores major points for originality and even more for style. Not to mention an "A" for effort.

After a near-drowning experience that leaves her deathly afraid of water, Madison (Michelle Mylett, ANTISOCIAL) is haunted by delusions--or are they memories?--of being held captive by a hideous fiend in his horrible basement dungeon where he drowns his victims. Even a year later, her fears cause her to miss being maid of honor at the wedding of her friend Hannah (Caroline Korycki), who angrily arranges a group intervention in order to exorcise Madison's seemingly irrational fear of water.

But the "seance" Hannah believes will do the trick backfires when Cathryn (Clare Bastable) turns out to be a real medium and actually invokes the evil spirit of Madison's "Drownsman", who then goes on a reign of terror in which he abducts and drowns Madison's friends one by one. As the death toll mounts, Madison and Hannah realize that their only hope for survival is to somehow track down and confront the supernatural killer in his own dreaded lair.

While relying just as much on jittery jump scares as most other current horror films, THE DROWNSMAN also carefully establishes an overall mood of creeping unease punctuated by moments that are nightmarishly surreal. The ghostly killer can strike anywhere there's water, so we're constantly startled by shots of hands darting out of bathtubs, sinks, washing machines, etc. and dragging people kicking and screaming down the drain.

There's also good use of the kind of dark "anything can happen" dreamworld atmosphere of the original ELM STREET, but without Freddy's smart-ass sense of humor. Scenes such as the one in which Madison, Hannah, and their friend Kobie (Gemma Bird Matheson) are trapped in an elevator that's quickly filling up with water even have a bit of a Dario Argento quality about them that helps elevate the film out of the ordinary. (I also found it reminiscent in certain ways of the surreal Japanese horror film NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE.)

Their venture to a madhouse to talk with the Drownsman's only surviving victim, Isabelle (JoAnn Nordstrom), is equally shiver-inducing as well as revealing. It all builds to a nocturnal visit to the haunted house where the killer's ghost is said to reside, and down into the basement of watery doom itself.

What happens there isn't exactly terrifying, and didn't leave me looking over my shoulder as did such genuinely blood-chilling flicks as THE VICTIM and THE ABANDONED, but director Chad Archibald has a sharp, eye-pleasing visual style and knows how to keep us in suspense. His cast, while not outstanding, fill their roles well and are more than convincing in the more difficult scenes. Steph Copeland's music is robustly effective without blasting our eardrums as so many current horror film scores do.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish. No extras.

It's nice to see a modern horror thriller that isn't about a group of ditzy teenagers getting picked off in a secluded cabin by the latest Jason wannabe, or freaking out over scary text messages on their cell phones. THE DROWNSMAN may not give you nightmares, but it's a welcome throwback to a certain kind of imaginative, atmospheric, suburban-Gothic chiller that cropped up now and then during the 70s and 80s. 

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