Better than Streaming: A look at V: The Final Battle Blu-ray (by Warner Archive)

By now, many of you should be aware about how much I loved watching V: The Original Miniseries and the best way to view it in high-definition is on Blu-ray. I was a kid when I first saw V: The Original Miniseries way back in the 1980s and it was a major hit not only in America but also around the world. Considering the way the 1983 miniseries ended and the success it achieved, a sequel was inevitable although it was not spearheaded by creator and genius Kenneth Johnson. 

That sequel is none other than V: The Final Battle which was another mini-series that played all over the United States in 1984. It was considerably longer than its predecessor as it had three episodes and combined for more than 270 minutes playtime. V: The Final Battle, which had the now iconic Michael Ironside as the most notable addition to the highly talented cast, was a TV ratings hit as well and eventually Warner Bros. proceeded with its plan to produce a regular TV series out of Kenneth Johnson’s creation. Oh yes, like the original mini-series of 1983, I saw both V: The Final Battle and the TV series locally back in the 1980s. My first bout of replaying V: The Final Battle digitally was on DVD format more than fifteen years ago.

Just two days ago, I received my Blu-ray copy of V: The Final Battle which I ordered online. 

The front cover of V: The Final Battle Blu-ray.

Released in April 2020 by Warner Archive, V: The Final Battle on Blu-ray comes with two discs (the first disc contained the first two episodes). Its technical specs goes as follows:

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Audio
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles
English SDH

Discs
Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (1 BD-25, 1 BD-50)

Playback
2K Blu-ray: Region free

The people at Warner Bros. surely wanted to freak buyers out.

Having viewed the first episode the other night, the most telling difference I spotted right from the start was that V: The Final Battle’s footage did not fill the entire screen of our HDTV at home. In fact, what was presented was a more squarish image with black borders on both sides. This is because the sequel was formatted with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Having seen V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray with its widescreen imagery (aspect ratio of 1.85:1), I found the sequel’s 1.33:1 Blu-ray look not only weird (note: I still remember that TV imagery in the 1980s were more squarish than widescreen) but somehow less immersive on our HDTV. Regardless, I still had fun and engagement replaying V: The Final Battle’s first episode. The picture quality, so far, looks good and the colors look more vibrant than ever. As for the extra stuff, there is really not much here to satisfy fans of the sequel as the Blu-ray comes only with network teasers. If you are looking for behind-scenes stuff or interviews with the cast, you will be disappointed. How is the overall quality and fun of V: The Final Battle as a whole? That will be revealed in a future review. 

If you are a long-time V fan, or if you are looking for gems of the science fiction genre, or if you are looking for the standout entertainment properties of the 1980s to add to your Blu-ray collection, be aware that you can order V: The Final Battle Blu-ray online by clicking here.

In ending this piece, watch this short clip of V: The Final Battle from the Warner Archive YouTube channel. It’s got Michael Ironside as Ham Tyler doing action and a glimpse of established V franchise hero Marc Singer as Mike Donovan!

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-ray and The Thing 4K Blu-ray.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: John Carpenter’s The Thing 4K Blu-ray combo coming out on September 7, 2021

Calling all fans of director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell as well as Blu-ray collectors fond of science fiction and horror films!

Get ready because Carpenter’s classic sci-fi horror film The Thing (1982) will be released in 4K Blu-ray format (in a combo including the Blu-ray disc and digital code) on September 7, 2021. In addition, those who insist on having the best 4K visuals with the classic movie will be delighted over the early confirmation that The Thing has been rendered in native 4K.

The cover of The Thing 4K Blu-ray combo.

As of this writing, there is no suggested retail price yet. Still, here are the product descriptions and specs from Blu-ray.com’s articles about The Thing 4K Blu-ray. Some parts in boldface…

SPECS

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

English: DTS:X

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Subtitles

English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (1 BD-100, 1 BD-50)

Digital

Digital 4K

Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

DISC ONE – 4K BLU-RAY

  • 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
  • DTS:X AUDIO TRACK
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
  • John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature

DISC TWO – BLU-RAY

  • Main feature
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
  • U-Control: Picture in Picture
  • Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature

For those who are not too aware about this old sci-fi horror movie, The Thing tells the story of an American research team stationed in Antarctica whose lives turn upside-down after a sled dog comes to them after being hunted by a helicopter from the Norwegian research team.

Historically speaking, The Thing was released in cinemas in the United States just two weeks after Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The Carpenter-directed space alien monster film was trashed by movie critics of the time and in the American box office, Spielberg’s movie about a friendly alien creature from outer space was simply unbeatable. As time passed by, The Thing found its audience on TV and home video and its critical reception turned from negative to positive overall. In the awards circuit, The Thing was nominated for Best Horror Film and Best Special Effects (credit to Rob Bottin who went on to work on effects for RoboCop and Total Recall) in the 10th annual Saturn Awards given by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Fans of actor Keith David will want to see his performance in this particular film. David also went on to work again with John Carpenter years later.

To get to know more about John Carpenter’s The Thing through trivia, watch the video posted below from Minty Comedic Arts. Be warned of potential spoilers…

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray, The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray, Mortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-ray, Space Jam 4K Blu-ray and V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray disc of Warner Archive (read my retro review).  

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: A close look at V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (by Warner Archive)

Welcome back, my readers, fellow Blu-ray disc collectors and fellow pop culture enthusiasts! Last time around, I informed you about the approaching June 15, 2021 release of the respective 4K Blu-ray discs of Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) and In the Line of Fire (1993). If you missed that article (which contains lots of details and links), check it out now.

In this latest edition of Better than Streaming, I want you to join me in taking a close look at the Blu-ray disc of V: The Original Miniseries (1983) which was released on August 27, 2019 as part of the Warner Archive Collection. I bought this Blu-ray release only this year and I can confirm to you all that I had a great time replaying it from start to finish and in high-definition! Having seen V: The Original Miniseries on TV and video tapes in the 1980s and to its early digital form on DVD in 2001, the Blu-ray release is the best visual experience yet!

If you have not seen my retro review, head on to https://carlocarrasco.com/2021/05/08/a-look-back-at-v-the-original-miniseries-1983/

Going on with the Blu-ray release of V: The Original Miniseries, posted below is a new picture of my copy that I photographed for this article.

My Blu-ray copy of V: The Original Miniseries.

The cover really gives V: The Original Miniseries its own distinct look. A look that fans of V will instantly recognize and given the fact that it does not feature any pictures of the actors and only had images of the alien motherships (read: very huge saucer-like space ships that can carry thousands of people plus equipment) on the cover, I can imagine this Blu-ray release standing out when placed with many other Blu-ray discs on store shelves. The tag line on the top – Humankind’s Last Stand – adds punch to the cover.

When it comes to the technical specifications, it goes as follows…

1080p High Definition

16×9, 1.78:1

DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English

Single disc – Region free

To be clear, the above specs were written on the back of the Blu-ray box and they refer specifically to the main feature…the 2-episodes of the miniseries totaling 197 minutes (3 hours, 17 minutes).

Speaking of the main feature of V: The Original Miniseries contained in the Blu-ray disc, it is entirely presented in one single selection. The two episodes are not presented as separate selections. It means that once you are done with watching the first episode, you only need to wait for the end credits to finish and just let the video play on with the opening credits of the second episode to start and lead further to the story. However, if you saw the first episode and decide to watch the second episode at a later time, only then will you need the remote control of your Blu-ray player to go through chapter selection (skip the chapters of the first episode) to start the second episode.

As mentioned earlier, V: The Original Miniseries was presented in 1080p high-definition and for me it is the best-looking form to date! If you want specifics about the visual quality (as opposed to the high-definition look of the mini-series), I can say that its visual aesthetics from 1983 are still intact but with added benefits due to the higher resolution and digital format. To put things in perspective, the level of visual details, the color-grading, the textures seen on the actors’ faces and the natural look of their skin tone are all improved over the 2001 DVD.

As this is a 1980s production, the film grain also made it and even though it intensifies or weakens as the main feature plays, it never was annoying to watch. If there are any weak spots on the visuals, it’s the fact that the high-definition state made the matte lines in key special effect shots (note: specifically in the scenes of people on the street looking up at a mothership above them) look very obvious and fake. As for other visual effects, the laser blasts look even better and the perfect timing on simulating on-set explosions (specifically the spots that got hit by the laser blasts) add a lot of punch to the spectacle!  

The disc.

As for the extra stuff, I regret to say that V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray only has the exact same stuff the 2001 DVD had…the feature-length commentary by Kenneth Johnson and a behind-the-scenes documentary. Nothing new at all and this easily reminds me of the words describing this release – Warner Archive Collection.

To be clear about the extra stuff, I really find it very disappointing that the 24-minute behind-the-scenes documentary was presented only in standard definition and had a sub-par quality visually which kinda ruins the fascinating stuff of the production (Johnson and crew filming scenes, Marc Singer and Faye Grant being interviewed, etc.) shown.

The real meat of the extra stuff is the feature-length commentary of Kenneth Johnson. All throughout the two episodes, Johnson provided a lot of insight on the filmmaking, the creative concepts, the symbolism connecting the mini-series with the rise of the 3rd Reich in Europe, etc. I replayed the mini-series entirely with Johnson’s commentary turn on and it was really engaging as a viewing experience!

Conclusion

While the lack of new extra stuff somewhat hampers it, I still had great enjoyment with my Blu-ray copy of V: The Original Miniseries (1983). Its main feature and the Kenneth Johnson commentary are the best things about it and therefore make it worth buying. I can only speculate that if more V fans (plus the many people out there who have yet to discover V of the 1980s for their home entertainment and sci-fi craving) bought a lot of copies of this Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray release, the executives at WB could be convinced to release another Blu-ray of the 1983 mini-series with all new stuff involving the participation of Johnson, the other production team members and the surviving actors (note: it would be great to come up with brand new interviews with Marc Singer, Faye Grant, Jane Badler, David Packer, Blaire Tefkin, Robert Englund and others). It would be great to see pop culture convention footage related to V compiled not to mention an all-new feature commentary with the actors participating.

Overall, the V: The Original Miniseries – Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray is highly recommended! Fans of V of the 1980s will love it and all others who have yet to discover it will find something new and compelling to watch at home with this. Add this to your shopping list and your Blu-ray disc collection!

In closing this Better than Streaming piece, posted below for your enjoyment is the 43-minute YouTube video of the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panel that had Kenneth Johnson and Marc Singer as guests focused on V.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at V: The Original Miniseries (1983)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching V: The Original Miniseries and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Way back in 1983, I was fortunate to watch the 2-episode sci-fi mini-series on television titled V: The Original Miniseries. Because there was no Netflix, no YouTube, no Internet access and no DVD at the time, getting to replay the said mini-series as well as its sequel V: The Final Battle was really hard. Replays of them on local TV rarely happened.

Then in 2001, V: The Original Miniseries was released on DVD format and I got to watch it all over again with a good amount of enjoyment. In recent times, I purchased the Blu-ray release and replayed the original miniseries in high-definition at last!

You must be wondering if the original mini-series aged well through the decades, and is it still good to watch by today’s standards? While I will comment about its overall quality below, what I can say is that its theme about people fighting to be free from fascism, oppression, terrorism and dictatorship remains relevant to this day.

For his part, star Marc Singer stated: “I think themes of what holds society together and what tears society apart, those themes are universal themes and I think they’re always going to be relevant. I think there’s going to be a necessity for things like V to be revisited in order that society remember what it is that’s cohesive and coherent about it and why is it that we should all stand together and treat each other well.”  

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V: The Original Miniseries, written and directed by Kenneth Johnson. The first episode was broadcast on television in the United States on May 1, 1983.

V: The Original Miniseries

Early story

The story begins in El Salvador where camera operator Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) and his companion Tony risk their lives capturing footage of an armed conflict. As the two tried their best to move away from the heat of battle, a helicopter of the enemy tracks them and corners them. Just as hope seems lost for Mike Donovan, the helicopter suddenly flies away. He turns to the other direction and witnesses the presence of a huge, floating saucer-like space ship coming his way. He begins to record footage of it.

Soon enough, several other space ships arrive and float above many other cities around the world. In America, medical student Julie Parrish (Faye Grant) and her colleagues carefully watch the TV news coverage. In a nice neighborhood, several residents – including Robin Maxwell (Blaire Tefkin), Eleanor Dupres (Neva Patterson), Daniel Bernstein (David Packer) and his grandfather Abraham (Leonardo Cimino) to name a few – marvel at the sight of a space ship above them. At another location, the research of scientist Robert Maxwell (Michael Durrell) and his colleague got interrupted with the arrival of a space ship.

The Visitors formally begin their new relationship with the people of Earth.
Diana of the Visitors played by Jane Badler.

Some time later, the Visitors make verbal contact with the people around the world using varied languages of Earth. In a special arrangement held at the top of the United Nations (UN) building in New York closely viewed on TV by the general public, the Visitors reveal themselves represented by John (Richard Herd) who expresses their message of reaching out peacefully to the people of Earth, seek their help and, in return, share with them their advanced technologies that could help humanity a whole lot for future generations. The Visitors are human in appearance but speak with very distinct sounds.

As a result, the governments of Earth agree to the offer of the Visitors and establish ties with them. Symbolically, a large group of Visitors’ engineers led by Diana (Jane Badler) and security chief Steven (Andrew Pine) arrive at a refinery to formally begin collecting chemicals and minerals.

Then things start to turn bad…

Quality

I can clearly declare that the writing and directing done by Kenneth Johnson remains great, and for many reasons why. On storytelling, Johnson (who was inspired by the anti-fascist novel It Can’t Happen Here and made an adaptation of it before finally coming up with V) clearly took his time on establishing the core concept stage-by-stage, and he also found efficient ways of explaining details to viewers by using in-story news reports and videos and retrospective as effective tools of exposition (these helped cut down the reliance on expository dialogue).

As the story goes on, Johnson carefully introduced the many characters on-screen (including the use of quick introductions of some characters who are located away from others they are connected/related with), established who they are and, most notably, showed how the events that took place affected them.

The Visitors (and one member of their youth auxiliary movement wearing brown) posting propaganda material to condition people’s minds they are friendly and trustworthy. These posters are familiar to many Nazi propaganda materials used in Europe decades earlier. Prior to the release of the Original Miniseries, a real-life marketing campaign of putting up such posters happened in real life.

Johnson also used symbolism which reflects what happened decades ago in Europe with the rise of the Third Reich. The Visitors’ symbol resembles the Nazi Swastika while the persecution of scientists (as well as their families and associates) resembles the Nazi persecution of Jewish people, and the scene of Daniel Bernstein joining the Visitors through their “Friends of Visitors” movement recalls memories of the Hitler Youth. I should state that Earth citizens who chose to collaborate with the aliens from space (strongly symbolized through Eleanor Dupres), images of the armed Visitors watching several helpless Earth people being taken away from their homes and the dominance of propaganda over the free press also reflect what happened back in World War II when the Nazis occupied many parts of Europe. The fact that Johnson used alien humanoids as the Visitors make them a more universal antagonistic force that viewers can relate with.

When it comes to the cast members and their respective performances, there is a whole lot to enjoy here and I can confirm that the quality of dramatic performances is pretty good and adds a whole lot of believability to the story. The most notable performer here is none other than Faye Grant who believably portrayed Julie Parrish on her in-depth transformation from a promising medical student to a reluctant organizer of a movement of freedom-loving people called the Resistance. Faye Grant excellently portrayed emotions and even showed the fragile side of Julie as she struggles to strengthen herself to lead her fellow people who seek freedom and survival. Julie also is the most charismatic and likeable character in my view.

Marc Singer’s Mike Donovan is the closest thing this miniseries has to an action hero. Donovan is not a soldier, nor a policeman, nor a combat specialist. He is a hard-working media employee who has covered a lot of armed conflicts overseas and along the way he learned how to fight. As he is not a fighting machine, Donovan was portrayed to be vulnerable and really ends up struggling a lot. In a way, Donovan symbolizes people who take action once they realize what is wrong and what lies they have been fed with. It should be noted that before Bruce Willis wowed audiences as the vulnerable hero John McClane in Die Hard, Marc Singer’s Donovan was the vulnerable and struggling action performer realized ahead in time. On the dramatic side, Donovan’s talk with his mother Eleanor is a great scene to watch, and his contrast with Kristine Walsh (Jenny Sullivan) must be seen! If you ask me, Mike Donovan is Marc Singer at his best!

Faye Grant’s portrayal of Julie Parrish is highly believable complete with a good range of emotions. Her character development all throughout the Original Miniseries is very believable.
Marc Singer as Mike Donovan.

The other most notable role is none other than the Visitors’ commander Diana excellently played by Jane Badler. Diana was played to be charismatic, powerful, and sadistic at the same time. She is not a mere evil figure nor is she your typical pure evil antagonist. In fact, she is the powerful extension of an unseen high authority of the aliens and this alone makes her worth your attention. Also, through her interactions with her fellow aliens Steven and Brian (Peter Nelson), you will see very interesting traits of Diana’s personality. I should state that Jane Badler’s eyes and expressions really gave her character a very commanding presence on-screen. Even though her screen time is not dominant, Diana’s impact remains very strong.

As for the other cast members and their contributions in the film, I can state that Robert Maxwell was excellently portrayed by Michael Durrel to be the very caring father striving to protect his family even as society has been manipulated to demonize scientists like him. Daniel Bernstein is clearly the traitorous Earthling who has gotten so involved with the Visitors, and I am confident that David Packer will get on your nerves. Willie is the good-natured Visitor who tries to fit in with the people of Earth and his friendship with Harmony Moore (Diane Cary) is very symbolic. Given the reputation of Robert Englund as a horror icon, his performance as Willie is a must-see!

The most notable of all the supporting cast members here is none other than Leonardo Cimino’s Abraham Bernstein who is a Jewish man who went through the Holocaust and survived to establish the family in America only to see evil return in the form of the Visitors. His dramatic scene of protecting a certain family is a must-watch, and most likely it will stir your emotions.

This scene shows the contrast between Abraham Bernstein (Leonardo Cimino) in the background and his grandson Daniel (David Packer) in the foreground. Abraham is an old Jewish man who went through the Holocaust and lived on. Daniel, who is 17-years-old, willingly joined the Visitor’s youth auxiliary movement which parallels that Hitler Youth.

In addition to being successful with telling the story, spreading the details and getting solid performances from the cast, Kenneth Johnson also proved to be really crafty with the way the camera captured images and how the very important moments were presented to captivate viewers. Johnson’s work here is clearly a labor of love. As for the music, Joseph Harnell did a good job overall. His style gives V a distinct aesthetic on tunes and I noticed his music becomes more lively late in the 2nd episode. Harnell also knew how to add musical excitement when the narrative needed a boost of energy or speed.

People of Earth, including children, are helpless under the Visitors.

Last but not least, I want to talk about the action and visual effects here. The action is, for the most part, raw and believable to watch. The action performers dressed as the Visitors never looked like they were trained but at least their ways of positioning themselves to fire their laser weapons made up for it. The hard action has that raw aesthetic which I actually liked because the action performers – including Marc Singer himself – were convincing with the way they exerted efforts. In this modern age of wire works and digital effects, seeing raw action and real human effort combined with risk taking is refreshing to watch.

More on the action scenes, I should state that the concept of showing the humans using conventional guns against the laser-armed Visitors was done in a satisfying and believable manner on-screen. Such concepts could have turned out bad had Kenneth Johnson and his team lacked talent and precision. As for the visual effects, they resulted a mixed bag as far as quality and artistry are concerned. While the laser blasts still look very good (and their impact was felt thanks to excellent timing with the on-set explosions and fireworks), the huge motherships really look dated as they were matte images (not miniatures), and in a few shots the matte lines were clearly exposed in high-definition which broke the immersion for me. The smaller space crafts that were shown flying also had that similar, out-of-place look (note: they did not match the lighting of the live-action footage). Still, the practical effects used are good to see and the matte paintings used for two key shots in the 2nd episode were photo-realistic.  

Conclusion

The free and righteous praying to the Lord.

As it is clearly still great and engaging to watch, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) certainly aged well, it remains essential to watch even by today’s standards and most of all, its theme about the conflict of freedom and dictatorship makes it completely relevant to this day. It is a reminder about what your part in your society is, who you are, what your values are, and why you have freedom in your local society which can be destroyed by an alienating force once your fellow people refuse to resist it. As mentioned earlier, the cast is great and I am confident that you readers will find a character or two to relate with.

The focus of this miniseries on fascism invading the lives of the free people easily reminds me about how, in this modern age, sinister influences like Marxism, socialism, Communism, unrestrained political correctness and fascism poisoned the minds of millions of people through the academic system and turned them into social rebels, domestic terrorists, looters, rioters and new criminals who are so determined to go against their fellow people who do not share their beliefs. In modern-day America, the ongoing movements of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, SJWs, the anti-Semitic BDS movement, the rabid LGBTQ+ movement, the so-called democratic socialists and other agents of Satan have been harming patriotic Americans, attacking their values, taking the innocence of the youth and children away, destroying businesses and tearing down societies as we know it. The 1983 mini-series will remind you that from time to time, social order will be pushed hard by the invaders (be it people or be it influences so alien to the society) and the people who are righteous can choose to restore the said order as well as their respective lives.

Seriously, if you value your freedom, your culture, your values, your people and your faith in the Lord, you certainly would not want to submit yourselves to a foreign people who intend to destroy you.

No matter what happens, people should never lose faith in the Lord and they must look up to Him for deliverance. The Lord will punish the wicked and make ways happen to lift up the faithful. Clearly, V’s theme about the fight for freedom is truly universal.

Symbolism and socio-political relevance aside, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) also comes with a good amount of spectacle that make sense within the narrative. Do not expect to see extensive, over-the-top action scenes of modern-day cinema/television here but I assure you that the spectacle (note: even with the flawed matte imagery of the visual effects) in this production paid-off nicely in relation to the build-up of events throughout the story.

I strongly recommend you acquire V: The Original Miniseries on Blu-ray while it is still available. Watching it in high-definition is a great experience on my part.

Overall, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) is highly recommended! That being said, I strongly encourage you to buy it on Blu-ray disc format while it is still available and affordable. If you want more of Kenneth Johnson’s other work related to V, I suggest you to look for his book V: The Second Generation. Don’t forget to visit Johnson’s website at http://www.kennethjohnson.us/

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more V-related writings of mine, check out my retro comic book reviews of the V comic books (published by DC Comics) issues #1, #2, #3 and #4.

A Look Back at Night of the Creeps

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

When you craft a story meant to entertain people, it is already tough to mix genre elements and make them work together while still telling a cohesive story. Imagine how hard that could be when making a movie with the mentioned creative mix?

Back in the mid-1980s, a young film enthusiast named Fred Dekker not only pulled it off but actually made a feature-length film titled Night of the Creeps which was his cinematic directorial debut. Before making that science fiction/horror/comedy movie, Dekker grew up watching movies of horror, science fiction and fantasy and developed a passion for movies (and movie production eventually).

After much learning through UCLA, Dekker broke into Hollywood and started a professional career in film and eventually got his dream project in the form of Night of the Creeps.

“Night of the Creeps is very much a first feature with the attitude of many first features. The I-may-not-get-to-do-another-movie-so-I’m-going-to-do-everything-I-want-to-do-in-this-movie attitude. It’s an attitude that often backfires, but in this case, it’s exactly what makes Night of the Creeps so much fun,” Dekker stated.

With the short film history lesson done, it’s now time to take a look back at Night of the Creeps written and directed by Fred Dekker, and released in 1986 by TriStar Pictures.

Screenshot_20200620-215521_YouTube.jpg
If you were the police chief, how many police officers would send to corner one zombie?

Early story

The story begins inside a space ship where one alien creature (carrying a canister) is running away from two armed personnel. With the two chasers delayed, the creature manages to shoot the canister into the realm of space.

On Earth, the year is 1959. In a typical American suburb, a college student visits a sorority house to pick up his date. Together, along with a few other pairs in cars, they spend time at a parking spot with a nice night view. A young police officer, who is aware of the news about a potential killer on the loose, approaches the pair and recognizes the lady from the sorority house. He tells them to go home for their safety, and then leaves them.

Shortly after, the canister from space arrives and crashes nearby causing the college student to drive the car (with his date with him) and find the spot of the crash. He parks the car by the woods and moves into woods leaving the sorority girl alone, sitting and waiting. He finds the canister and decides to look at it closely. Through an opening, an alien slug suddenly jumps from the canister and into his mouth. Meanwhile, the lone lady in the car hears the news about the loose killer and realizes the details about their location (being the destination of the killer). Slowly creeping up on her is a man with an axe.

Screenshot_20200620-213549_YouTube.jpg
What teenagers in America used to do in the 1950s.

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Someone closing in…

In 1986, at the same locality, college students party around and engage in lots of activities in relation to pledge week being organized at a local university. Among the students walking down the sidewalk are Chris Romero and his handicapped friend J.C. Chris spots a pretty girl from a distance and instantly falls for her at first sight. With the help of J.C., he decides to pursue her…

Quality

Even with a low budget, Night of the Creeps is very creatively done and comes with a good amount of fun for viewers who enjoy elements of horror or sci-fi, 1950s romance, 1980s teen comedy and even detective story. What made this movie a cinematic gem is that Fred Dekker and his creative team combined their strengths with the talents of their cast members specifically Jason Lively, James Marshall, Jill Whitlow and Tom Atkins.

At its core, Night of the Creeps is a zombie horror flick that had sci-fi elements of UFOs and the 1950s as a strong foundation (in addition to serving in the background of the plot). Those combined genre elements alone (backed with a plot that is cohesive enough thanks to Dekker) made this movie solid and yet, the implementation of detective/crime storytelling and 1980s teen comedy (specifically college culture) further added more punch and variety in making the film really engaging and fun.

That being said, the actors delivered the goods with their respective performances. Jason Lively and Steve Marshall have excellent chemistry together as the 1980s college boys Chris Romero and J.C. They started their acts as typical college guys trying to achieve something when it comes to campus achievements and winning the girl’s heart. They also delivered strong performances on the comedy and they pushed their dramatic limits further when the film’s tone shifted to horror. Jill Whitlow is interesting as sorority girl Cynthia who has that girl-next-door charm. She proved to be talented with acting as she had convincing romantic chemistry with a certain jerk and Chris.

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Steve Marshal, Jason Lively and Jill Whitlow as J.C., Chris Romero and Cynthia.

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The horror film genre legend himself, Tom Atkins!

The standout performer among them all, unsurprisingly, is Tom Atkins as detective Ray Cameron. Before making this movie, Atkins worked in horror movies and a few cult movies, and got involved with the legendary John Carpenter. As such, playing the veteran detective Cameron here was a natural fit for the actor. As the aging and troubled detective, Atkins portrayed him dramatically and because of his very rugged touch, the actor really looked like he actually lived through decades of police work in the fictional town. Atkins also proved to be very good with quotes, specifically with “Thrill me!” It should be noted that this is Atkins’ personal favorite role in the horror genre.

When it comes to telling a cohesive story to emphasize the mixed genre elements, I should say Fred Dekker and his team succeeded. The pacing ran at a medium pace for the most part and even during the slower scenes, there was never a boring moment. More on storytelling, Night of the Creeps’ concept made sense for the most part (about how a slug from outer space would gradually cause zombification on people and even animals, in the midst of college-related events happening) and still had room for suspense, spectacle (note: Jason Lively and Jill Whitlow themselves used dangerous weapons near the end of the film) and, yes, character development! All of that pulled of nicely in roughly ninety minutes and the viewing experience was ultimately fun and engaging.

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I wonder if this image would be considered offensive by the SJWs…

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Perhaps this will inspire you to research what American life was like back in the 1950s.

It should be noted that, in terms of presentation, key scenes were very well directed and strong performances from the actors were realized. The scene where detective Cameron and Chris had a private talk was intriguing to watch, and that one had the strongest act Tom Atkins made in the film. I should also mention that, apart from the dramatics and performances, I enjoyed the cinematography done by Robert C. New especially with the way the camera moved as the actors delivered their lines in key sequences. There were closeups that perfectly captured the moments when the actors delivered their strongest acts. Last but not least, the music by Barry De Vorzon fit the film’s tone and concept smoothly.

Conclusion

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Here they come…

I really love Night of the Creeps and I want you – my readers and fellow film buffs and pop culture geeks – to watch it from start to finish. I never saw this movie in the cinemas in the 1980s but was fortunate enough to watch it on cable TV on a late night in 1998 (twelve years after its cinematic release). That was a night I’ll never forget because Night of the Creeps delivered the fun and exceeded my expectations. Then years ago, I finally acquired the Sony Pictures Blu-ray disc release which I replayed from time to time at the comfort of home with my Xbox One console as the disc player. The film looks even better in high-definition!

The best thing I love about Night of the Creeps is its big mix of genre elements which was supported by solid storytelling and performances. When it comes to spectacle or shock moments, it should be stated that the practical effects used (note: no CGI or computer-generated images here) in the movie still stand up strongly until now although I must say that the aliens creatures in the early part of the story were just not convincing enough.

Even by today’s standards, Night of the Creeps is enjoyable and gripping to watch, and the fact is nobody in Hollywood is making anything like it, nor are there any filmmakers willing to do a big mix of genre elements and tell a cohesive story with good performance from hired talents. This alone makes Fred Dekker’s directorial debut a cinematic gem that has been overlooked by too many people

In light of modern society and its norms, I declare that Night of the Creeps will give you a good dose of escapism not only from real life but also from the corrupted and highly politicized culture of Hollywood which points to the Political Left (whose central figure Barack Obama supports Iran, the terrorists and illegal immigrants) and its trouble makers (examples: social justice warriors or SJWS, the socialists, the radical feminists, the LGBTQ) who managed to infiltrate the American film industry and even the American media (note: you can tell if a movie review was written by an SJW who only writes something to fit his/her social justice agenda). This old movie was made to deliver fun without any political garbage whatsoever. That being said, it will make you wish that Hollywood would just focus on making their movies truly entertaining and be free from political poison at the same time. Movies that carry political overtones or emphasize identity politics are major turn-offs.

Overall, Night of the Creeps is highly recommended! That being said, I urge you to order a Blu-ray copy of Night of the Creeps now at Shout Factory and Amazon. Whichever Blu-ray version you acquire (note: the Shout Factory version has newer and more extra stuff), you can’t go wrong with Night of the Creeps in high-definition.


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