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Piranha II: The Spawning (Blu-ray)
Just when you thought it was safe to stay out of the water again.

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What, Leatherface is giving you nightmares? Don't mess with Texas, and you'll be safely out of harm's way. Pinhead? Put down the puzzle box. Jason Voorhees? C'mon, if you're reading a Blu-ray review in 2018, you've long since aged out of his crosshairs. Great whites are only a thing in saltwater, so if Jaws left you trembling with terror, just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to. How do you escape carnivorous fish with wings, though? You can't. The original Piranha transplanted a swarming, flesh-eating menace from the Amazon to small-town America. Piranha II: The Spawning takes them out of the water altogether.

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I mean, it all comes down to the usual Army/Navy rivalry. A decade and change earlier, the Army had engineered mutant piranha in the hopes of devouring the Vietcong. The Navy rolled its eyes and gave the fuckers wings, thus creating the ultimate killing machine. And, y'know, The Navy, so of course these piranha aren't going to be limited to freshwater when they decide to go for a swim. It's just that the naval supply ship carrying several cannisters of those eggs crashed off the shore of some nameless Caribbean island. And – audible gulp – this tropical island is home to the luxurious Club Elysium, whose guests include one amateur diver after another who just can't resist the siren song of that wreckage.

Dive instructor Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O'Neil) warns her boss that something is devouring the tourists and that all water events need to be cancelled tout de suite until they figure out what's going on. The guy practically snorts in her face. Her dive classes are booked solid for days, and the big grunion run fish fry on...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Piranha II: The Spawning]


The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (Blu-ray)
The Case of the Scorpion's Tail opens with a murder. This is not terribly surprising, considering that we're talking about a giallo and all. However, it's not that kind of murder, and this isn't that that kind of giallo. We never actually meet Kurt Baumer; outside of photographs, the closest we come are repeated glimpses of the jet he's boarded, prior to its violent explosion mid-flight. Lisa (Evelyn Stewart) – the serially unfaithful widow he left behind – isn't the least bit devastated, making plans with a secret someone in Tokyo and arranging to collect on her late husband's million dollar life insurance policy in Athens. The closer she gets to the money, the more bodies start to pile up. Lisa herself is nearly added to that tally, rescued from a vengeful blade at the last possible moment by insurance investigator Peter Lynch (George Hilton).

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Thanks to Peter, Lisa is soon strutting around Athens with a million dollars – in cash, ill-advisedly – and preparing to catch the next first-class flight to Japan. The temptation is to say that you know what happens from there: masked killer, black leather gloves, gleaming knife, parade of mutilated corpses. And, yes, there is that, but there's nothing quite so simple about The Case of the Scorpion's Tail. Director Sergio Martino and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi were aware how well-acquainted their audience was with gialli and weren't content to deliver just more of the same*. There isn't from start to finish a singular protagonist. When I think of the giallo, I can't help but imagine an artist of some sort who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Case of the Scorpion's Tail]


Black Lightning: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
"Justice, like lightning, should ever appear to some men hope and to other men fear."

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The people of Freeport already know Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) to be a hero. He is, after all, a former Olympian, making for one of the few voices in this predominantly black community that those in power will bother to listen to. As principal of Garfield High School, he's seen graduation rates soar to 90%-plus. What's less known in Freeport is that, up until nearly a decade ago, Pierce wore the mantle of Black Lightning. His wife Lynn (Christine Adams) pleaded with him to stop playing superhero after returning home broken and bloodied one time too many. The thought of their two young children growing up without a father was just too much to bear. The argument goes that Pierce has saved more lives as a principal and community leader than he ever did as a metahuman vigilante. Whatever truth to that there may have been, those days are gone. The organized crime of The 100 has overtaken Freeport, and Garfield is no longer the safe haven it once was. While there are still good men on the police force, racism and corruption run far too rampant to rely on them. A designer drug by the name of Green Light has infested the city, resulting in bursts of supercharged violence and a slew of overdoses. When Pierce's children are caught in the crossfire, no choice remains but for Black Lightning to strike again. Little does he know that this isn't just a crimewave bearing down on Freeport but a far-reaching conspiracy, and at the heart of it is Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III): the man who murdered his father.

Though Black Lightning airs on The CW and is based on a DC superhero, this series stands very much on its own, existing outside of the...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Black Lightning: The Complete First Season]


More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 7/15: Phantom Thread (Uhd)
  • 7/15: Cars 3 (Uhd)
  • 7/14: The Virgin Suicides (Blu-ray)
  • 7/14: Piranha II: The Spawning (Blu-ray)
  • 7/13: The Virgin Spring (Blu-ray)
  • 7/10: The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (Blu-ray)
  • 7/8: Vampire in Vegas (Hdtv)
  • 7/7: Finding Dory (Blu-ray)
  • 7/6: Bringing Up Baby (Hdtv)
  • 7/5: The Awful Truth (Blu-ray)
  • 7/3: Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (Uhd)
  • 6/30: Punch Drunk Love (Blu-ray)
  • 6/26: The Shape of Water (Uhd)
  • 6/24: Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws (Hdtv)
  • 6/22: What We Do in the Shadows (Hdtv)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 7/16: Man of Steel (Uhd)
  • 7/16: Leon The Professional (Uhd)
  • 7/16: My Neighbors the Yamadas (Blu-ray)
  • 7/16: Justice League (Uhd)
  • 7/16: Rick and Morty: Season 3 (Blu-ray)
  • 7/14: Mercy Street: Season 2 (Blu-ray)
  • 7/13: A Strange Adventure (Blu-ray)
  • 7/8: Phantom Thread (Uhd)
  • 7/7: Mad Men: The Final Season, Part 2 (Blu-ray)
  • 7/6: Piranha II: The Spawning (Blu-ray)
  • 7/6: The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: The Virgin Spring (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: The Awful Truth (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: Punch Drunk Love (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: The Virgin Suicides (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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