Daredevils of the Red Circle

Review by Andrew Johnson

It is agreed by many that this was the best movie serial ever made. I fully agree – it’s a must for all to see.
“DAREDEVILS OF THE RED CIRCLE” has Chapter 1 running longer than any other opening chapter of a serial, about a half hour. It ends with a closing cliffhanger of one of the good guys riding through a newly opened tunnel connecting an island to the mainland, looking very much like the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. th Flood waters engulf both him and the celebrity car in the tunnel’s opening ride-through. For 1939, the special effects are quite good, rivaling the special effects in “KING KONG” around that same time.


The tale concerns a young boy being killed in a fire set in a circus amusement park. Three stuntmen take it upon themselves to avenge his death caused by a madman known as 39-0-13, played by Charles Middleton (Emperor Ming of Flash Gordon serial fame). This individual is seeking revenge on multi-millionaire Horace Granville, the man who was responsible for his imprisonment. He impersonates him and wreaks havoc on Granville’s property in his deeds of destruction.


The cast is a good one: Charles Quigley, Herman Brix (later named Bruce Bennett), David Sharpe, and Carol Landis. The acting hits the mark with the tale well directed by William Witney and John English. That classic opening chapter makes you really want to see the rest of this Republic serial in 12 chapters.


I remember being awed as a child by the serial in its rerun at the old Colony Theatre in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I viewed it once again, many years ago, on a badly copied video tape and have longed to see it again. Thanks to Kino Lorber, who has been offering DVDs of those films which often seem to fall beneath the cracks, enjoyment is once again nostalgically yours, as is mine. This company does such a terrific job in releasing so many of these films of the past which really strike our memory banks of the cinematic past. Bravo again Kino Lorber, you are truly an asset to cinema.


“DAREDEVILS OF THE RED CIRCLE” has a total running time of about three and a half hours. Sit back and enjoy those golden days of yesteryears when special effects were accomplished difficultly but plausible. This DVD was newly mastered in HD from a 4K scan making it crystal clear to watch.


Chiller: The Complete TV Series
by CJ Henderson



As everyone knows, they do things differently on British television. Yes, this is the complete run of "Chiller." But, that only adds up to five episodes, or 265 minutes total. Still, the question is, are they 265 minutes that are worth your time, or aren't they? The answer is, could be.
If you are a fan of the British way of doing horror, the five episodes are a tribute to what can be done with a small budget. What one has to do, of course, is rely on story-telling rather than unlimited gore and special effects. CGIing everything in sight costs money. Telling a twisted, thought-provoking, ingenious tale only takes the effort involved in gathering up a good writer and director and turning them loose.

That was done here to quite remarkable effect, actually.

Also, "Chiller" is a rather recent production. The run was aired in the UK in 1995, and has never been seen in America before this release. This means not only original material one can almost be guaranteed of never having viewed previously, but more up-to-date subject matter as well. Now, granted, malevolent spirits, serial killers, evil children, haunted houses, et cetera, are not the most modern of subjects. I'm referring to the handling of the subjects.
All five episodes are both well thought out and intelligently presented. Unlike most modern American horror film makers, there is no wink-and-a-nod to the audience to let them "in on the joke." There is no joke here. The shows being presented are done in a serious, forthright manner, and the entire production benefits from the we're-taking-our-work-seriously-here attitude of the filmmakers involved.

The episodes also feature a number of top British players of the era, including Nigel Havers ("Chariots of Fire", "Coronation Street"), Martin Clunes (the UK's "Men Behaving Badly"), Sophie Ward ("Young Sherlock Holmes") and Kevin McNally (Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" series).

There is nothing too fantastic to report in areas such as cinematography, costuming, direction, and so forth. These have all been well-serviced, but at a solid workman level. For instance, since it's all modern day settings, costuming's main goal was too be both realistic and timeless enough so that people did not look too goofy a few years down the road. The camera people all do a fine job, but low budget's mean shooting in standing structures and not building endless sets.
Still, what one is left with are five solid segments of a well-made television series. Excellent writing, solid, well-paced direction, and all other bases covered by people who knew what they were doing. The production was a fine effort and one can see why Synapse Films went after it.
So far Synapse has done an excellent job finding and making available hard-to-obtain, or classic, horror materials. They've also been able to uncover some nifty gems for the extras sections of their releases (always a personal favorite of mine with any DvD). Not so this time.
Apparently there was nothing much to offer. The two discs are well-produced, but offer no extras whatsoever. And that, my children, is pretty much it this time around.

Our final word: 5 stars out of 5.




                       

NES Classic is Coming for Christmas 2016

Nintendo's Classic Mini is a tiny NES with 30 games

Relive your childhood memories


That old NES in your attic is a pain to drag out of its box whenever you get the hankering for a rousing game of Super Mario Bros. 3.

Enter the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition and is described by the company as a "near-identical, mini replica" version of the original NES console which was released in 1985.

The diminutive version of one of the most influential home video game consoles of all time will launch with over 30 NES titles preloaded, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and Metroid. The mix also includes some surprising choices such as StarTropics, but it's a well-rounded sampling of the best the system has to offer.

The full list includes Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Dr. Mario, Excitebike, Final Fantasy, Galaga, Ghosts' N Ghoblins, Gradius, Ice Climber, Kid Icarus, Kirby's Adventure, Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Pac-Man, Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, StarTropics, SUPER C, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tecmo Bowl, The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

You'll get the preloaded games, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter and one NES Classic Controller, which obviously looksexactly like the ones you're used to. Nintendo has offered a few more details about the micro console, including whether or not it can connect to the internet to download more games and if the company will release additional software for it.

For those that want to play with a second player, Nintendo confirmed that the replica console will support two-player functionality for games with that option and a second controller can be purchased for $9.99. Players with a Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro can also use those, according to the company

 

The system launches this November 11th for $59.99 across North America and the UK.



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