Overall | XII (Blu-ray) (2008) | Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)

XII/Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)

XII/Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)

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Released 8-Jun-2010

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Overall Package

    Icon Entertainment have combined two "B" grade horror flicks, XII, and Dark Ride, into a single disc Blu-ray package with no other extras. Both movies have the usual combination of budget priced production values and loose plot but nevertheless are quite reasonable forays into the slasher genre. You wouldn't go out of your way to seek each title however overall this package is worth a look if you can find it at a discount price.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | XII (Blu-ray) (2008) | Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)

XII (Blu-ray) (2008)

XII (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 8-Jun-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Trailer-The Descent 2
Trailer-Infestation
Trailer-Pandorum
Trailer-Triangle
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 79:23
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael A. Nickles
Studio
Distributor
Unified Pictures
Icon Entertainment
Starring Steven Brand
Emily Hardy
Mercedes McNab
Josh Nuncio
Joe Nunez
Nick Searcy
Jeremy Fitzgerald
Michael Leydon Campbell
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI Box Music Tim Montijo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"You have been summoned"

     XII is a "B" grade horror movie that starts quite promisingly but soon adopts predictable slasher-style clichés. After a nicely surprising murder involving a recently married couple and a red truck, we find FBI agent Naughton (Steven Brand) inspecting a horribly disfigured body following an autopsy. The victim has had his face peeled off - apparently whilst hanging upside down and still alive. Hmm - do we have an Ed Gein/Leatherface style murderer on the loose? Naughton is instructed to drive to a small town where we first meet our heroines, Claire (Emily Hardy) and the self absorbed Vicki (Mercedes McNab) who are waitresses in the local cafe. Claire has a visit at work from her sometime boy-friend Shane (Josh Nuncio) who tells her that someone in a red truck has tried to kill him. Shane has got a gun to protect himself and also wants them both to leave town and start a new life and leave his troubled past behind. Claire however is not convinced that Shane is able to change and is doubtful about his story.

     In the meantime Naughton arranges to meet local deputy Sheriff Kent (Nick Searcy) at the cafe to ask about some townspeople in a list who are perhaps connected in some way. Kent is in charge whilst the Sheriff is on leave but Naughton is reluctant to tell him why he is querying the names. Shortly after these events we see Naughton make a surprising exit and then, via Shane, we see the modus-operandi of our killer in quite a graphic way. With Kent now suspicious about a missing elderly lady, and following the previous talk with Naughton and information from Claire, Kent realises that the people under question were all jury member at a particular trial. Kent, with Claire and Vicki in tow, decides to look for another jury member who is apparently a drug dealer living on the outskirts of town. (I'd have thought a felon would be excluded from jury service but anyway ....). As you'd expect events take a turn for the worse from here on as our girls fight for their lives against a deranged killer.

     After a promising start XII rambles along in predictable fashion interspersed with some admittedly nice, if gruesome, murders. Fortunately the acting is all very capable with Hardy in particular quite likeable and convincing as the waitress thrown into the deep end. The gory effects are quite well done given the modest budget although not particularly scary for anyone familiar with modern day slasher films. The main problem with this movie's plot is that the viewer really has very little idea of what motivates the killer and why he is mutilating the victims. All we have is a couple of lines of dialogue and the opening credit sequence which provides some clues. Fortunately the disc back cover notes also give an insight as to what is happening. The audience shouldn't really have to research after the movie to find out these major plot points.

     As written and directed by Michael A. Nickles XII isn't a bad movie but could have been so much better. Given the short running time more work should have been done in developing the plot and providing more background to events. Fortunately there is enough here to maintain interest, but not enough to make this a title to seek out.

     XII is the headliner movie included as a double-header disc along with Dark Ride.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This film is presented in 1.78:1 aspect which seems to be the original aspect ratio. This is an adequate transfer but not a great example of high definition video. There are no particular faults in the video presentation, however it was really no better than what you would expect in a good quality DVD. Blacks and colours were good with night scenes well defined. Flesh tones were accurate and the blood looked realistic. There was some digital noise throughout although it was not particularly annoying.

     Overall the video quality is rated as good. The picture detail was quite grainy and not up to high definition standards. There were no film artefacts.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     This audio track overall is very good. The default DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at around 2,300Kb/s delivers a good soundstage with directional effects used effectively. The alternative Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 at around 2,300Kb/s is very similar to the DTS offering however the DTS version is slightly louder with the LFE channel in particular a bit punchier. I therefore preferred the DTS track.

     There were no audio synchronisation issues and voices were relatively clear and easy to understand. There were no clicks or dropouts or any other audio problems that I noticed. The front sound stage was good with main voices coming from the centre channel and effects used appropriately from all directions. Surround channel use was used successfully to complement the action. The subwoofer was also used to good effect when crashes and bangs were required. At times there was a low growl coming from the sub that helped build tension. The musical backing score complemented the on screen action well and was not intrusive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu featured static background with movie choice shown.

Trailers

     Trailers for Icon Entertainment distributed films The Descent 2, Infestation, Pandorum, Triangle.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray twin movie offering does not seem to be duplicated elsewhere however there are XII (also known as Twelve) movie only versions available on Region 2 DVD. The US version does not appear to be available at time of writing. The UK version however contains a feature commentary, behind the scenes featurette, exploding head "breakdown", and makeup effects gallery. If these additions interest you then importing from the UK might be worth it.

Summary

     XII borrows heavily from other better made horror movies and almost succeeds in being quite good. Director Michael A. Nickles was obviously constrained by a tight budget but really should have spent more time on plot exposition and developing the characters. There are no extras as such and I'd rate this movie as good for a rental only.

     The video quality is good. The audio quality is very good. Extras are confined to the "bonus" movie Dark Ride and some trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Monday, May 02, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | XII (Blu-ray) (2008) | Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)

Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)

Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)

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Released 8-Jun-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Trailer-The Descent 2
Trailer-Infestation
Trailer-Pandorum
Trailer-Triangle
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 94:05
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Craig Singer
Studio
Distributor

Icon Entertainment
Starring Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Patrick Renna
David Clayton Rogers
Alex Solowitz
Andrea Bogart
Jennifer Tisdale
Brittney Coyle
Chelsey Coyle
Dave Warden
Jim Cody Williams
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI Box Music Kostas Christides


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"Will You Survive The Ride Of Your Life?"

     Dark Ride is another horror flick from the Lions Gate "B" movie stable that's almost good - but not quite. This flick starts with twin girls who take a ride on the boardwalk "ghost train" (also known as "dark ride") and come to a bloody end. Their deranged killer is a deformed carnie called Jonah who has committed many murders and fashioned the victims to grotesquely mimic his train ride models. On capture the killer is locked away in a mental asylum and the boardwalk attraction permanently closed down in deference to the murder victims. Around fifteen years later we find our band of obnoxious teens - Cathy (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), Bill (Patrick Renna), Steve (David Rogers), Jim (Alex Solowitz), and Liz (Jennifer Tisdale) who are saddling up for a Spring holiday road trip. After loading up the van with all the essentials for teen travelling - that is booze, condoms, and attitude - they set off, each taking turns to drive. So far so boring. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker Jen (Andrea Bogart) who is a stunningly attractive psycho hippy-type who endears herself to the boys and dismays the girls. Her stash of weed however wins over the semi-reluctant group and they continue onwards in a haze of gunga smoke. Along the way the travellers decide to save some cash by staying at a deserted "dark ride" on the boardwalk – yes, the very same one that had been closed down fifteen years earlier but is now due to be reopened. Unbeknownst to them however there has been an escape at the local loony bin and, you wouldn't believe it, but our carnie murderer has made his escape in quite spectacular fashion. All aficionados of slasher films will know what happens next but needless to say our group of friends are in for quite a ride on the ghost train.

     Director Craig Singer fails to focus on what makes a good horror movie in Dark Ride with irrelevant and uninteresting sub plots, cheap and predictable scares, and a cast which you wish would die - quickly and gruesomely. Nevertheless there are things to like with Dark Ride including the seriously strange Jen (a character who I imagine many would simply loathe, but who I found rather amusing and far more interesting than the others), and the setting itself. Most of the dispatching is done with some style although, oddly enough, it's not so much the fatal blows that we see but the aftermath. The male viewers will get their requisite titillation in a quite extended sex scene where the term "head job" gets a new twist. This scene was totally unbelievable but I got a kick out of it (so call me sick). Anyone looking for a believable plot should not be here so suffice to say your brain should be switched off when the opening credits start. The first thing that occurred to me as the film progressed was why should five teens who seem to dislike each other go off on a road trip in the first place? We never find out why our killer is deformed or wears a Friday the 13th type mask, and the plot twist at the end also raises more questions than answers - nevertheless the boardwalk horror house premise is a good one and perhaps most of us have fond memories of those cheap "ghost rides" that were quite scary as a child. Despite the many flaws there was enough here for me to like as a once-off viewing so this ninety minutes or so were not totally wasted.

     Dark Ride is the second movie included as a double-header disc along with XII.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     This film is presented in 1.78:1 aspect which seems to be the original aspect ratio. This is quite a nice looking transfer but is, in common it seems with many B grade movies, not a great example of high definition video. There are no glaring faults in the video presentation however it was really no better than what you would expect in a good quality DVD. Blacks and colours were good with the predominant dark scenes well defined. Flesh tones were sometimes a bit clay-faced but the blood and gore looked realistic. There was some digital noise throughout although it was not particularly annoying. I did notice some white flecks during the very dark scenes, for example at 62:00 and 73:07. After looking at the frames a number of times I couldn't be sure if they were flaws or just light flashes or reflections. Either way they are unobtrusive and most would not notice.

     Overall the video quality is rated as good. The picture detail was quite grainy and not up to high definition standards. There were no minimal artefacts.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     This audio track overall is quite good. The default DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at around 2,300Kb/s delivers a good soundstage with directional effects used effectively. The alternative Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 at around 1,500Kb/s is very similar to the DTS offering although there is slightly less depth - especially for the LFE track. For this reason I preferred the DTS-HD offering.

     There were no audio synchronisation issues however I thought the voices were often a bit thin and lacked clarity. A few times I had to rewind and concentrate to understand what was said. This seemed to improve however in the carnival settings so I assume it was a recording aberration rather than a production mastering fault. There were no clicks or dropouts or any other audio problems that I noticed. The front sound stage was good with main voices coming from the centre channel and effects used appropriately from all directions. Surround channel use was used successfully to complement the action. The subwoofer was also used to good effect when crashes and bangs were required. The mandatory thunderstorm was suitably menacing with a low growling background in effect much of the time. The musical backing score complemented the on screen action well and was not intrusive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu featured static background with movie choice shown.

Trailers

     Trailers for Icon Entertainment distributed films The Descent 2, Infestation, Pandorum, Triangle.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray twin movie offering does not seem to be duplicated elsewhere however there are Dark Ride movie only versions available on Region 4 and Region 1 DVD. The Region 4 DVD has no extras. The Region 1 DVD version contains deleted scenes, storyboards, feature commentary, behind the scenes featurette, and a "making of" documentary. These are useful additions if you liked the movie so importing from the US might be worth it.

Summary

     Dark Ride is not a bad attempt in the slasher genre but doesn't deliver anything new or noteworthy. The characters are all whiney and annoying, the acting is adequate at best, the plot drifts and wallows, and the gore is not as graphic as it could be. Nevertheless it is a quite enjoyable romp overall once the mayhem starts, with the boardwalk surroundings nicely done and the sets suitably atmospheric. Maybe those childhood memories of "ghost trains" at the carnival helped add to the romance, but either way I quite enjoyed it. Oh - and Andrea Bogart aroused this viewer's attention favourably at least. There are no extras as such and I'd rate this movie as good for a rental only.

     The video quality is good. The audio quality is good. Extras are confined to the "bonus" movie XII and some trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE