Laserblast 4-17: Hemlock Grove & Kiss of the Damned

Hemlock Grove horizontal title
This week, the Cinefantastique Laserblast podcast – devoted to horror, fantasy, and science fiction on home video – offers reviews of HEMLOCK GROVE (a new Netflix original series from Eli Roth); KISS OF THE DAMNED (a vampire film from Magnet Releasing, available on VOD before hitting theatres on May 3); ROBOT AND FRANK (on DVD after a small theatrical release last year); and THE FOUR (a recent Fant-Asia film now available on home video). Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski also take a look at the week’s new home video releases for Tuesday, April 30, and offer a couple of titles for suggested viewing.

For those too busy to listen, you will find a summary below:
HEMLOCK GROVE is set in a small town run by a big-wig family, whose matriarch (Famke Janssen) is probably up to not good. Be that as it may, the story is set into motion when a cheerleader is partially eaten by…something. Typical for the soap opera format, many characters and storylines are interwined, and often the narrative stategy (especially during the first four epsidodes, on review here) is to drag things out as much as possible, teasing viewers along with promises of what is to come.
click to watch
click to watch

KISS OF THE DAMNED is a low-budget vampire film with a 1970s Euro-vibe, written and directed by Xan Cassavettes (daughter of the late, great John Cassavettes). Advance word has been possitive, but Dan Persons argues otherwise.
ROBOT AND FRANK offers few extras on DVD, but the excellent film is accompanied by a wonderful audio commentary from writer Cristopher D. Ford and director Jake Schreier.
THE FOUR is a fun-filled martial arts fantasy with a zombie army and gifted superheroes. It is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and instant view.


This week’s video releases include:

click to watch
click to watch

CLOUD ATLAS on instant viewing formats, a week before discs arrive in stores. Read our review of this excellent film here, or listen to our previous podcast discussion.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON THREE on Blu-ray, from Paramount. Extras include: Mission Overview: Year Three (discusses the major changes that occurred in Season Three with both old and new interviews); Selected Crew Analysis: Year Three (an in-depth look at the growth of the continuing characters as well as a closer look at returning crew member Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden)); Departmental Briefing, Year Three: Production (a behind-the-scenes look at particular episodes from the production crew’s point of view); Departmental Briefing, Year Three: Memorable Missions (specific anecdotes about Year Three episodes).

click to purchase
click to purchase

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. If you do not want the entire third season on a multi-disc set, you can opt for this single disc, which offers the Enterprise’s memorable confrontation with the Borg, on Blu-ray and UltraViolet. Extras include:  Audio Commentary with Cliff Bole, Mike & Denise Okuda and Elizabeth Dennehy; Regeneration: Engaging the Borg; and a Gag Reel.
If that’s not enough STAR TREK for you, several of the features films are coming out on Blu-ray:


click to purchase
click to purchase

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS arrives on Blu-ray, courtesy of Shout Factory. The 1970 Hammer horror film, based on J. Sheridan LeFanu’s excellent novella CARMILLA, was previously released on DVD, with an audio commentary from actress Ingrid Pitt, director Roy Ward Baker, and screenwrtier Tudor Gates. That feature has been ported over to the new high-def disc, along with two new featurettes, including the making-of piece “Femme Fantastique: Resurrecting the Vampire Lovers.” (This film spawned two sequels, including TWINS OF EVIL, the subject of a previous podcast review.)


  • SCOOBY-DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED – Dan Personsk, no fan of previous incarnations of the mystery-solving gang, gives the thumbs up for this new version.
  • THE TOUCH: Michelle Yeoh, the great martial arts star, produced this 2002 adventure-romance, which edges into fantasy (a la RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK). It’s funny and engaging, though ultimately slightly disappointing (imagine if RAIDERS had ended with the heroes preventing the Nazis from getting their hands on the Ark!)

You can purchase these and other titles in the Cinefantastique Online Store.


I've Got a Radar Detector and I'm Not Afraid to Use It: Modern technology provides scant protection for Ashley Greene in THE APPARITION.
I've Got a Radar Detector and I'm Not Afraid to Use It: Modern technology provides scant protection for Ashley Greene in THE APPARITION.

All these shades and poltergeists invading suburbia, moving the furniture and scaring the children and snatching souls from still-living bodies and otherwise causing all kinds of ruckus, sure, it’s inconvenient for the residents, but what about the real estate agents? Why doesn’t anybody think of them? What’s to come of their commissions, what about the property values? It’s not fair, I tells ya.
Nevertheless, one week after PARANORMAN took a more light-hearted, but still pretty scary, look at the situation, it’s back to the ‘burbs for THE APPARITION, in which a young couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) find that their brand-new home comes with an unannounced, unwelcome, and quite ill-mannered guest. The Cinefantastique Online team of Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons get together to discuss the film and whether its pseudo-scientific trappings, wrapped in a narrative that borrows liberally from a variety of sources that range all the way from POLTERGEIST to RINGU, can whomp up some legitimate chills.
Then, Steve takes a look at THE AWAKENING, the recently released period tale of a psychic debunker, and finds some interesting contrasts to THE APPARITION. Plus: Steve delivers his capsule reviews of THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN and ROBOT and FRANK; Dan discusses a couple of worthwhile home video releases; and what’s coming to theaters in the next week.


ROBOT AND FRANK theatrical release

After opening exclusively in New York City on August 17, this science fiction comedy moves into limited engagements around the country on August 24. Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, ROBOT AND FRANK is about an aging, retired jewel thief who is given a robot to help clean up his messy home and his unhealthful lifestyle. Instead, the film’s amusing premise has the man return to crime, with the robot as his accomplice. Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon star, with Liv Tyler, James Marsden, Peter Sarsgaard, and Jeremy Strong. Jack Schreier directed, from a script by Christopher D. Ford.
Rated PG-13 for some language.
Release date: August 17, 2012 (New York City); August 24 (San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc).