REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 4

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kristin Minter (Home Alone)
Matthew Walker (Ginger Snaps Back)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
Anna Hagan (Reindeer Games)
Laurie Holden (The Americans)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Robert Moloney (Power Rangers)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Liliana Komorowska (The Art of War)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Chilton Crane (Final Destination 2)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Travis MacDonald (In The Name of The King)
Venus Terzo (Beast Wars)
Rachel Hayward (Jake 2.0)
Yee Jee Tso (50/50)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Nicholas Campbell (Naked Lunch)
Myles Ferguson (Edgemont)
Lisa Howard (Rarth: Final Conflict)
Dave Ward (So Weird)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Kevin McNulty (Stargate SG.1)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Veena Sood (Hope Island)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Molyl Parker (Lost In Space)
Suleka Mathew (Claws)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Peter Wingfield (Sanctuary)
Ann Turkel (Modesty Blaise)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Ron Halder (Stargate SG.1)
Ocean Hellman (Along Came A Spider)
Byron Chief-Moon (Twilight: Eclipse)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
Carl Chase (Alien 3)
Michael J.Jackson (Coronation Street)
Ricco Ross (Aliens)
Peta Wilson (Superman Returns)
Jamie Harris (Carnival Row)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Relic Hunter)
Simon Kunz (The Cave)
Dougray Scott (Batwoman)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Stacey Travis (Mystery Men)
Jeremy Brudenell (The House of Eliott)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Graham McTavish (The HObbit)
Jesse Joe Walsh (JCVD)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)

maxresdefaultThe goodness continues in 1995 for the fourth season of Highlander: The Series. In fact, the immortal angst just keeps getting better and better- and dare I say it- even great. Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) and his on again off again immortal love Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) must face deadly rogue immortals and even a Dark Quickening while 5,000 year old Methos (Peter Wingfield) falls in love with a dying mortal woman. When the Watcher Tribunal investigates watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) for his friendship with Duncan and fellow immortal Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), Joe must fight for not just his status in the secret organization sworn to observe immortals but never interfere- but also for his very life. MV5BMTcyODg2Mjk1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODQ0NTEzMjE@._V1_Well, Highlander: The Series is now a class unto itself, complete with some seriously sweet opening credits. Everything you need to know about immortals, Duncan MacLeod, and the Watchers is swiftly tressed out in style with this introduction! At this point, Highlander: The Series is a completely separate entity from the inferior sequel films, even the sword sparring shot of theatrical Highlander Connor MacLeod is gone from the opening designs. Season 4’s opener “Homeland” rekindles Duncan’s Scottish roots in fine form, exploring not just immortals freely beyond the film series’ restraints but also filling in Duncan’s timeline with both new places from the past and contemporary individual dilemmas. Not oft touched subjects such as Vietnam are mixed with lovely immortal examinations on war, death, and revenge. Mental illness is debated in “The Innocent,” creativity and human genius versus immortality are questioned in “Timeless,” and immortals seeking fame compared to those who are best left forgetting their immortal transgressions are contrasted in “The Immortal Cimoli” and “Through a Glass, Darkly.” Highlander-TV-640x362Oh dear oh dear, Duncan MacLeod can certainly be a melancholy bloke, can’t he? His continued somber stance and high road in each weekly dilemma is a wonderful contrast to his dishing out periodic beheadings. Can he be both a warrior and loyal to moral oaths he has promised to himself and other immortals over the years? “Reluctant Heroes,” “The Wrath of Kali,” and “Chivalry” put Mac between the mortal rock and the immortal hard place again and again. Sure, there may be great action and battles when we meet an immortal villain of the week, but Highlander: The Series is more wonderful when it brings immortal friends together and puts MacLeod in the middle. Naturally then, it’s just great to see Mac go bad in “Something Wicked” and “Deliverance.” Not only can Paul- who also directed two episodes this season- be crazy cool, but it is so sweet to see Duncan knowingly struggle against doing wrongs he has fought against for centuries. Golly, Dark Duncan does a lot of using and abusing of any and all in his wake! Likewise, the restored MacLeod pains over being called to assassinate in “Promises.” Wow, immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be- who knew? highlander31Fortunately, MacLeod’s sexy run and gun lady foil Amanda adds some much needed cheerfulness and fun in “Double Eagle.” We even get to see a more tender and loving side to Elizabeth Gracen’s vixen in “Reunion,” where she bonds with Mac’s pregnant ex, Lisa Howard guesting as Dr. Anne Lindsay. “The Colonel” provides some great WWI action that comes back to haunt Mac- with Amanda being the one who saves the day for a change! By contrast, Peter Wingfield as Methos is wonderful as the angry and pesky advocate to MacLeod. Despite his often sidelined observant and pacifist stance, Methos is not afraid to do what Mac cannot for the good at hand- or even the personal if it suits him. He wouldn’t have gotten very far without being selfish would he? It’s never out right stated, but you have to wonder if Amanda and Methos have met before. “Methuselah’s Gift” may be one of the best non-MacLeod centric episodes of the series, and every time I watch it, it drives me insane that Wingfield and Gracen are not series regulars. Why can’t they be in the credits? These two appear in the same amount of episodes, if not more, than credited regulars Stan Kirsch and Jim Byrnes do. If all four were listed, it wouldn’t seem like such a disparity, but rather a rotation of supporting players. Yes, its stupid things like this that keep me up at night!7d63cd4f132b0f1812754e6a27dd5592And yes, Richie finally has something to do in “The Innocent” and “Leader of the Pack.” Even if it’s goodness at the time, he always ends up disappearing. Lisa Howard’s final appearance as Anne in “The Blitz,” tells us so much more than Richie’s sporadic appearances. If Kirsch is actually used like a guest star as needed, then why does he get to be in the ^&*(%#@ opening credits? Ahhh! Fortunately, Roger Daltry and Roland Gift also return for “Till Death” and “Double Jeopardy.” Even if there are 7 immortals in one episode, it seems no more than 4 or 5 are ever onscreen together- what’s up with that? Is that some sort of rule like Holy Ground that we don’t know about? This season I also feel like we don’t get enough of Joe Dawson- especially because what we do get teases us with the notion that there’s so much more to tell. “Brothers in Arms” wonderfully highlights how Dawson came to the Watchers while also giving closure for Philip Akin and his Charlie DeSalvo. Although they are almost clip shows recapping some of the immortal and watcher hijinks, the two-part finale “Judgment Day” and “One Minute to Midnight” recap the best parts of Highlander: The Series thus far. All those times you have questioned how Joe and MacLeod got away with all the death and secrecy have indeed come back to haunt them.highlander-the-seriesI’ve already commented previously that some of the Quickenings in Highlander: The Series seem a little orgasmic, to say the least. However, in this recent rewatching, I’m also seeing more homosexual innuendo and gay subtext than I used to notice. Bare butt shots and picking out wallpaper together? Some of the relationships implied here and in Season 5- both male and female- even the entire notion of men cutting off each other’s heads to take one’s essence, the swordfights themselves, each immortal having a teacher or mentor who shows them the ways of it all. Dear Lord, the way they hide on Holy Ground and become Priests with secrets! Maybe I’m just older and wiser on seeing such themes onscreen now, or perhaps it is bemusing for some to look for such tongue in cheek goodness. It isn’t so overt to ruin Highlander: The Series for those not interested in such topics, but audiences who enjoy the male bonding and non traditional relationships may find some frank discussion of true companionship- with immortal twists of course. For the series not to acknowledge the special life long relationships immortals can share would simply be unrealistic.239581Again, I must say those opening credits are sweet- capturing the essence of the show in proper 90s style. We simply don’t get fine introductions like this anymore! The period designs are again great, from the French Revolution to the Old West and World War II. The house that Mac rebuilds is also neat- even if the real estate prices and square footage given onscreen don’t quite match up! The leather jackets and trench coats still look cool and timeless compared to some of the more colorful and crazy fashions from some immortals. What were they thinking? The jazzy period music and Swing styles are also sweet as are new times and places like India. Even past places we are used to seeing look good, more than good, high end even. Fans who want to know all the behind the scenes ins and outs are again welcome to a smorgasbord of features. Almost every episode offers some or all of the following: an audio and/or video commentary, a 5 or 10 minute behind the scenes and/or retrospective interview with cast and crew, Watcher’s Chronicles, deleted scenes, bloopers- and there’s a CD with every script and the series call sheets. Simply put, if you are a fan of intelligent timeless action and adventure fantasy, there is no reason you shouldn’t love Highlander: The Series. We’re done Season 4 now, come on get with it before you loose your head!

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)

Adrian Paul and Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Mortal Kombat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (The Howling)
Peter DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
J.E. Freeman (Alien: Resurrection)
Tamsin Kelsey (The Commish)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Dustin Nguyen (Legend Is Alive)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost)
John Novak (War)
Victor A. Young (Nemesis Game)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Joan Jett (Light of Day)
Leslie Carlson (Videodrome)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Doug Abrahams (Sanctuary)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Fifty Shades Freed)
Stephen Macht (Trancers 4)
Johannah Newmarch (When Calls The Heat)
John Tench (Watchmen)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Vanity (The Last Dragon)
Tim Reid (IT)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on A Plane)
J.G. Hertzler (Staragte SG.1)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (The Brother From Another Planet)
Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery
Martin Kemp (The Krays)
Nigel Terry (Excalibur)
Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow)
Anthony Head (Buffy: TVS)
Marion Cotillard (Inception)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Lockout)

Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)400-year-old Scottish Immortal Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) has spent the last twelve years living a quiet life with his mortal girlfriend, sculptor Tessa Noel (Alexandra Vandernoot). Unfortunately, when young punk Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsh) breaks into their antiques store, he stumbles upon another uninvited guest- Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), also an immortal Highlander. Connor insists Duncan return to The Gathering- an ongoing battle where immortals fight each other to the death by beheading their opponent to take their Quickening. Friendly immortals like the Parisian monk Darius (Werner Stocker) have no interest in the violence and remain on Holy Ground to avoid the evil, corrupt, insane, angry, and power hungry immortals Duncan must face. All this, however, is in addition to Duncan’s daily hiding of his secrets from pesky cops and nosey reporters like Randi MacFarland (Amanda Wyss).Adrian Paul and Soon-Tek Oh in Highlander (1992)I always find it tough to summarize the scenario that establishes the Highlander universe, even though it is a fairly simple fantasy once you get to know it. Longtime franchise producers Peter Davis and Bill Panzer and creative consultant David Abramowitz don’t have to waste much time in setting up The Series’ introductory mythology like most shows do thanks to its parent 1986 film, but that does not mean this First Season isn’t without its flaws. Highlander: The Series spends most of the 1992 debut here trying to adhere to the original film whilst also attempting to appeal to other compatriot shows of the time like Renegade. Sometimes, Duncan is an immortal who also just happens to get kidnapped, Tessa just happens to witness an immortal murder, Richie just happens to get caught up in some immortal romance or crime.Season 1 seems to meander between reopening its fantastical roots- which actually concluded at the end of the first film- and finding an audience with one off action plotlines and crazy guest star immortals. Toss in some ho-hum police investigations and one annoying journalist, and it feels like you have bits of every other nineties television program. It also seems like the filmmakers were light on material early on, for a slew of slow and dated musical montages about absolutely nothing also have not stood the test of time. Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)I’ve complained, yes- but the irony is, Highlander as a series and its Season 1 still work damn fine. So they had to iron out a few special effects and immortal explanations. Maybe there is an uneven mix of normal real world crime storylines and charming, even glorious, period piece flashback sequences. Yes, they have to mimic the first movie while trying to establish episodic material. Yet somehow, all this and more gets done in fun, entertaining, stylized television. A few of the guest immortals do seem a bit interchangeable and even hokey in their maniacal ways, but that’s part of the bemusement. The lovely counterbalance of the tragedies, consequences, and ill desires of living forever are well played along with the beauty and value of morality, artistry, and time for those who inevitably grow old and die. Highlander: The Series may have lured audiences in the door with promises of nineties cool and wicked swordfights, but its intelligent core of immortal drama, heart, and soul win out today.Adrian Paul and Vanity in Highlander (1992)Although Adrian Paul (Tracker, Relic Hunter) has some big sneakers to fill in following Christopher Lambert, he quickly makes Duncan MacLeod his own with the perfect mix of fearless fighter and moral convictions. Yes, part of his fighting skills, suave ponytail, and immortal sexual buffness is meant to be dreamy for the ladies. However, Mac’s kickass ruthlessness against those who do wrong-whether they be mortal or immortal- combined with his sensitive ways and 400 year old hang ups appeal to all. Paul wonderfully expresses the love, loss, humor, and intelligence as well as the anger, vengeance, and violence each episode as needed. There’s no doubt MacLeod is our hero- and yet he is usually the one handing out killing blows. It’s a complicated mix with plenty of fine drama- and Alexandra Vandernoot (The Five Obstructions) is the perfect compliment to Adrian Paul. Though she can seem kind of uppity and European pissy to start, once you come to know Tessa’s artistic heart and moral fulcrum you can’t help but enjoy her and Mac’s relationship. The two have wonderful chemistry, but then you throw in illicit immortal love with mortal women growing old and dying to that romantic design and it’s dynamite. Such juicy and angst still has plenty of relatable, powerful stuff that never fades, wow, almost 20 years on.Still of Adrian Paul and Amanda Wyss in Highlander and See No EvilStan Kirsh (Invincible) is in the precarious hot young thing role as Richie Ryan, but he also proves himself more likeable then annoying here in Season 1. Despite some of the stereotypically juvenile, young love, and crime storylines in which he finds himself, Richie’s fun place within Mac and Tessa’s lives does a lot of good. He is in a way, their kid- always needing to be bailed out or protected in the ways of the world or waxing philosophical from his humorous spot in the backseat. Even over the course of these 22 episodes, however, Richie also becomes a useful ally and sounding board for each of the leads when immortality or mortality gets in the way. Sadly, the ill-used Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street), doesn’t fair so well. Her brief and needlessly stuck in the opening credits reporter Randi is absolutely unrealistic as a journalist and completely annoying in her attempted antagonizing and snooping. Perhaps more could have been done with the character in time, but thankfully, the role was dropped in favor of some  policemen and detectives. Wendell Wright’s (Benson) Sgt. Powell, Tim Reid’s (Sister, Sister) Bennett and Hugues Leforestier as Inspector LeBrun come and go too much in Season 1, but any one of them could have been fine continuing foil for MacLeod. You do have to wonder how the authorities haven’t discovered all these beheaded bodies!Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)In addition to the lovely guest appearance by Lambert as Connor “same clan, different vintage” MacLeod in ‘The Gathering’, Season 1 offers an array of sweet guest stars. Critical immortals such as Elizabeth Gracen’s (later of the spinoff Highlander: The Raven) Amanda and Fine Young Cannibals’ singer Roland Gift as Xavier St. Cloud appear in ‘The Lady and the Tiger’ and ‘For Tomorrow We Die’ respectively. We don’t get to see the late Werner Stocker’s Darius as much as I would have liked, but he and Roger Daltry’s Hugh Fitzcairn are also wonderful pieces in Highlander: The Series’ repertoire, comparing the potential of pacifism for immortals to their apparent zest for women. As much as I love Joan Jett, her appearance as the first female immortal we see in ‘Free Fall’ is one of the woefully dated examples this season. Several other guest villains and street thugs of the week do seem a little the same- especially the maniacal and crazy, if no less understandable, immortals. Again, it’s tough to not have an over the top bad guy when it is your hero befrickingheading someone per episode. A few of the French supporting players also suffer; so many seemed poorly dubbed that you don’t wonder if it would have been better to just have some French dialogue. All in all however, the guests add debut credibility this season whilst laying the ground work for the series to establish itself beyond the films: the plots and players in the Season 1 finale ‘The Hunters’ directly lead to the events in Season 2 and beyond.Adrian Paul and Christian van Acker in Highlander (1992)Although the actors do their part, the designs of Season 1 could have used some…tweaking. The Quickening effects are definitely touch and go to start. Honestly, the lightning shows generally coming at the end of each episode waver from looking extremely painful and capable of powering a village to limp, sputtering light bulbs and quasi orgasmic shuddering. Women seriously seem to get the short end of the stick regarding Quickenings, and the fashions of the time have not been kind. Oh, the unflattering gaudy shoulder pads, pleated pants, and high-waisted jeans! Richie fairs no better, with some woefully colorful New Edition and Color Me Badd cast-offs. At least most of the immortal men seem to have classic, swanky style- except some of Duncan’s sweaters, vests, and colorful blazers are a miss. However, any men who can carry off such a variety of period fashion earn a plus in my book. The Leather jackets, cozy turtlenecks, tuxedos, and fedoras here are as timeless as the kilts, cavalier coats, French uniforms, and kimonos.Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)While the MacLeod and Noel Antiques store, loft, and workshop design look just as good as the period production, it also seems a little too high end and unrealistic today. I know he is immortal and she is a sculptor, but real people could not live in such a pricey and overly designed museum. By contrast, Season 1’s opening Seacouver location seems obvious and bland- again looking like it’s a random warehouse back lot used by every other show made at the time. Thankfully, MacLeod’s barge on the Seine is just a little bit cooler. These French locations add a touch of Old World European class to Highlander. Even if I can’t quite figure the logistics of the barge, (How can one just park his boat on the Seine? What kind of codes and regulations are there for a refurbished ship? Where in the heck does Richie sleep if there’s one bed?!) it’s still a neat and unique set. Yes, Highlander: The Series’ location splits and prominence for French casting is thanks to French financing and production, but it also gives Season 1 a chance to correct its early flaws- including adjusting the opening credits and spending more time in our immortals’ pasts. Subtle connections to the original film are all that’s needed for Season 1 to find its footing- and those motifs largely come from the perfect use of Queen’s soundtrack. You can’t not love the ‘Princes of the Universe’ theme. Be honest, sometimes you just tune into Highlander just to hear the song! The somber ballad ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ also makes a few appearances- however; it’s the nonchalant use of the titular question by unknowing mere mortals that adds extra zing and panache.Fans of the Highlander franchise surely already know and love these DVDs back to front, but 21st Century newcomers will be pleasantly surprised by the exhaustive amount of features for the Season 1 set. The interface is cumbersome, I grant; but the Watcher Chronicles’ menus, additional scenes, bloopers, commentary options, full script CDs, and behind the scenes features are almost obsessive in shear amount, variety, and content. Almost every episode contains some form of extras- and more is included as the season sets progress. I can even forgive the lack of subtitles here, because someone obviously took his time in making Highlander: The Series as complete as possible on DVD. New fans, however, should be forewarned, as there are often spoilers for the entire series within the features. In fact, all the extras from the Complete Series DVDs are probably best left in a marathon viewing all their own. Adrian Paul and Martin Kemp in Highlander (1992)Highlander: The Series is best when it is about the trials of immortality- not the contemporary messes into which an immortal could get himself. Season 1 falters some when it tries for the latter, but there’s plenty of immortal angst and juicy action established here to enjoy. Longtime fans can delight anytime, and audiences looking for action, adventure, fantasy, and romance can certainly find it here. Some scenes and storylines might be too saucy or complicated for younger tween viewers, but a show that matures in its mythos and quality along with its audience while also staying young forever is tough to find. Yes, just think, Highlander: The Series only gets better from here. Start anew or travel back with Season 1 today.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE TORTURED

CAST

Erika Christensen (Swimfan)
Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives)
Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Chelah Horsdal (Arrow)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Bill Dow (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Aaron Pearl (Starate SG.1)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)

The film tells the story of a couple, Elise Landry (Erika Christensen) and her husband, Craig Landry (Jesse Metcalfe), whose lives are shattered when a serial killer named Kozlowski (Bill Moseley), kidnaps, tortures, and kills their only son, Benjamin. Craig feels immense guilt, as he saw Benjamin being kidnapped, but could not catch up to the fleeing vehicle. Elise blames Craig for not watching the child more closely. During the trial, Kozlowski makes a plea bargain, and in exchange for providing details on other murders, is sentenced to only 25 years to life. Elise and Craig are livid with the court’s verdict. Elise asks Craig to get her a gun so that she can kill Kozlowski, but Craig refuses. Elise moves out of the house and Craig, left alone, contemplates suicide. Later, he meets Elise to say that just killing Kozlowski will not be enough, and the two formulate a plan to kidnap the killer.

Craig steals medical supplies and drugs from the hospital where he works. They follow Kozlowski when he is being transferred to prison via police van. The officers soon stop to get some coffee. Craig distracts them, while Elise spikes their drinks. After some time, the police van pulls over, and Craig is successful in hijacking the van with the prisoner inside. In the confusion and panic of the escape, Craig crashes the van and it rolls over a bridge. Elise, following behind in her car, is relieved to see Craig is all right, and the prisoner, though thrown from the van and severely injured, is also still alive. Elise soon receives a call from the case detective (Fulvio Cecere) informing her that Kozlowski had taken the police van and escaped. She is able to sound normal to avoid arousing any suspicion.

They take their captive to the basement of an abandoned cabin and chain him up, just as he did to their son. They gag him, stating that nothing he could say will make them change their minds. They berate him as less than human for his abominable actions. They begin to torture him in various painful ways. During one session, Craig hangs the key to the chains above the captive, taunting him. As the torture progresses over several days, both Elise and Craig are haunted by their deeds, but carry on, remembering the horrific loss of their son. Meanwhile, the police manhunt for the escaped Kozlowski begins narrowing down to the area near the cabin.
Image result for the tortured (2010)Back in the basement, Craig removes the gag in an attempt to suffocate the captive, who begs for a chance to talk. He explains he has no recollection of anything before the van accident. He claims he does not think he could be a vicious killer. The Landrys are taken aback, and retreat upstairs to discuss. Craig feels the torture is unnecessary on someone who cannot even remember his crimes. Elise is certain he is merely lying to avoid any more suffering. They return to the basement and begin crushing his foot in a vise until he tells the truth. Elise demands that he speak their child’s name. Under duress, he eventually says ‘Benjamin’, which convinces Craig that they can continue with their plan. They leave him alone for the evening, promising that the next day’s torture will be the worst yet. Through extreme agony, he manages to reach the key and free himself. He makes his way upstairs and there is a struggle. Craig is knocked down the stairs and the captive escapes out the back door.
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Simultaneously, the police finally track down and apprehend Kowalski in the woods nearby. He appears mostly unharmed, and shows no signs of the torture inflicted by the Landrys. Flashbacks show that, unknown to the Landrys, the prison van was actually carrying two convicts; Kozlowski, and another man serving time for tax evasion. Following the crash, Craig mistook the bloodied man thrown from the vehicle as Kozlowski, and took him hostage instead. The real Kozlowski later emerged from the van relatively unhurt and went on the run.
Image result for the tortured (2010)
At the cabin, Elise and Craig track down the man that they believe is Kozlowski, but in reality is the other prisoner, just as he hangs himself in the barn. He leaves a suicide note stating that, based on what the Landrys had told him, he must be a monster, and deserved everything they had done to him. He apologizes and begs forgiveness. He simply could not stand any more torture, so he hanged himself. Satisfied, the Landrys get in their car and leave, unknowingly passing the police– who are returning Kozlowski to prison.Image result for the tortured (2010)More for seasoned Horror fans.Great acting all the way through and each actor gave it their all, great directing, and most importantly great gore. Not really a hidden gem per say, but a decent genre flick that makes you think nonetheless

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 1

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Paul Campbell (Knight Rider)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Samuel Witwer (Smallville)

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Aaron Douglas, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Lorena Gale (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Alonso Oyarzun (Reindeer Games)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
Tobias Mehler (Disturbing Behavior)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Camille Sullivan (Unspeakable)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)

Edward James Olmos and Michael Hogan in Battlestar Galactica (2004)When you try to reinvent a popular TV icon one of two things can happen. It will fly, or crash and burn. Back in 2003 the SciFi Channel took a huge gamble and aired a mini-series that took the original Battlestar Galactica concept and turned it on its head. It was a risky undertaking considering how revered the 1978 version is by science fiction fans. Would they accept it? Would this new show find a following? The answer was yes.Jamie Bamber and Richard Hatch in Battlestar Galactica (2004)SciFi’s gamble paid off big time and the new Battlestar Galactica has provided the best ratings numbers that the network has ever seen. It has become an icon for science fiction yet again and the new series stands shoulder to shoulder with other giants in the genre. When it originally aired cult followers of the franchise were critical about the differences between the two (of which there are many), but to the untrained eye there was little to gripe about. The basic concept of the original show, Cylons and Humans fighting against each other in a never ending war, is still intact. You still have the same 12 colonies, same major characters, same Battlestar. Everything else has been overhauled to the nth degree.Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In a far distant quadrant of space, the war between Cylons and humans has been over for forty years. Every year, humans send an ambassador to a remote space station to meet with the Cylons and sign a peace treaty, but nobody ever shows up. Then one year they finally appear and begin the eradication of the human species. The twelve colonial home worlds are nuked into oblivion and all that is left of mankind are those that were lucky enough to be somewhere else on a ship. All together, less than 50,000 people.Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Fortunately for those remaining, the Battlestar Galactica is still functioning and even though it’s archaic, it is up to the task of protecting those who escaped. Led by Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) the military takes control of the fleet and begins the necessary steps to ensure the survival of our race. He can’t lead the people alone though so he reluctantly teams up with the new President, Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell). The two characters are at odds almost immediately and while Adama wants to storm into battle with guns blazing, Roslin, who before her battlefield promotion was the Secretary of Education, would prefer to make a run for it and start having babies.Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)The future of mankind is also put in the hands of Galactica’s officers such as the alcoholic Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), the tomboyish Lt. Kara Thrace “Starbuck” (Katee Sackhoff) and Commander Adama’s son Lee (Jamie Bamber) who goes by the call sign Apollo. Every character adds something to this show even the treacherous Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) who sees visions of a human/Cylon model Number 6. Fans of the original will also be pleased to know that Richard Hatch (the original Apollo) makes an appearance on the show as a political terrorist known as Tom Zarek.Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)This ragtag group of survivors teeters on the brink of annihilation throughout the entire season. As if dangers like running out of fuel, death by dehydration, or suicide bombers aren’t enough, the Cylons are never far behind. But throughout the course of this season we do see characters grow closer together and we learn more about their previous lives. There are so many personal conflicts that put everything on the line and you can almost cut the tension with a knife at times. The biggest change in the new Galactica is that the Cylons have “evolved” themselves and now appear completely human. The old “toaster” models are still kicking around (with a slick CGI upgrade) but the human models are the ones pulling all of the strings and carrying out the orders of God. This little change adds huge elements of distrust and paranoia to a show that is already weighed down by overwhelming obstacles.James Callis in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Several minor details in the show have also been tweaked including the forty years of peace to updated weaponry and vehicles. Several character changes have come about as well in SciFi’s new creation. The character of Adama is more militaristic and his relationship with his son Apollo is more than a little rocky. Starbuck and Boomer have gone through sex changes and are now female characters in this new version. Overall many personality traits are true to the original characters but there are quite a few disparities.After undergoing such radical changes, it’s understandable how fans of the original may have been skeptical when the show first started airing. However, it is quite clear this show was careful constructed to appeal to both die hard fans of the original and those looking for a new spin on an old concept. It is important to keep in mind that this version is a reinvention of the classic instead of a continuation. That means that a new audience can get into it without being lost in the mythology. In fact, the only way you will get lost in this new Battlestar Galactica is if you miss an episode or the introductory miniseries. Those of you who have already purchased the miniseries when it was released (like I did) may be a little irritated with the double-dip here, but it’s essential in order to understand what’s going on in the show.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)It’s very rare in a show that every actor clicks with the material but that is defiantly the case here. The team that was responsible for casting deserves a big pat on the back because they nailed every character perfectly. Of course the real heart and soul of a show comes from the script. That’s another area that Battlestar Galactica has covered thanks to a team of veteran writers. The developer of the show, Ronald Moore (of Trek fame), was responsible for penning the mini-series as well as some of the tenser episodes of the first season. His scripting talent sets up the beginning of the season and closes it on such a high note that it will leave you dying for more.Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In the case of this show, the visual aspect has a big impact on the overall mood. Everything is cast with stark contrast between light and shadow which keeps the dark tone front and center. Another interesting look comes from the filming technique since the camera is constantly in motion. Angles are slightly skewed and there is a sense of urgency to the picture even during the simplest of conversations. This is undoubtedly one of the more unique looking sci-fi shows around and trust me when I say that’s a good thing.Everything about Battlestar Galactica proves that it is the anti-Star Trek. There is no exploration, first contact or light hearted comedy episodes. Daily problems on board Galactica include finding food, finding power sources, and constantly running from an enemy that outnumbers and out guns them at every turn. Even on Star Trek’s worst day they never had it as bad as the team on Galactica. This is easily one of the darkest science fiction tales I have encountered as nothing seems to go right for our heroes. They are dogged at every turn by the Cylons, are forced to make difficult decisions for the good of their race and treachery threatens to tear the fabric of their very existence. But make no mistake, this is quality television that fans of the original or science fiction in general should definitely not miss out on.

 

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 4

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Pascale Hutton (Fantastic Four)
Agam Darshi (You Me Her)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: The Awakening)
David Milchard (Big Eyes)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
Pauline Egan (Home BEfore Dark)
Brian Markinson (Caprica)
Mig Macario (The Final Cut)
Lara Gilchrist (Battlestar Galactica)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
John Novak (War)
Martin Cummins (Dar kAngel)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Jonathon Young (Antitrust)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Adam Greydon Reid (Izombie)
Caroline Cave (Van Helsing)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Anjali Jay (Supergirl)
Gil Bellows (Jett)

At the end of the last season things were getting pretty hairy on a couple of different fronts. The subterranean abnormals who live inside the Earth have decided that they want their chance in the sun and three armies march out of caves in different parts of the planet. If that wasn’t bad enough, Magnus is battling an old companion, Adam Worth, who manages to open up a hole in time and slip back to the 1800’s with the aim of curing his terminally ill daughter. This will change the time stream irrevocably, so Magnus follows him on his one-way journey into the past in order to stop him.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)This season opens with Magnus in 19th Century London, following Worth. He manages to wound her and escape, so she turns to one person she knows she can trust, he husband at the time, James Watson Together they have to stop Worth, but even if they do, how will Magnus manage to return to the 21stCentury? She does manage it, but it takes a very long time. Meanwhile Will has been put in charge of the New York Sanctuary by the Sanctuary Network, that mysterious body that runs the various abnormal shelters around the world. He’s having a rough time, as the US military wants to actually attack the invading army, especially after there’s a revolt in the refugee compound that’s housing several Hollow Earth abnormals in which the subterranean creatures take hostages and threaten to kill them. No one in authority will take Will’s calls, and withMagnus MIA he’s clearly out of his depth.Robin Dunne and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)After that crisis, and Magnus’ return, things are different. The government is very leery of abnormals and they create a department, SCUI, to hunt down the Hollow Earth creatures that are still on the surface. Either imprisoning the abnormals that they capture or using them for experiments it’s a race between the bad military and the saintly Sanctuary to see who can locate and capture the renegade abnormals first.There are some very good episodes in this season. Monsoon, where Magnus is held hostage by some abnormal crooks while in an airport in Africa was a high point. Seeing the unarmed Magnus take out a group of ex-military super-humans was delightful.Amanda Tapping and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)The series does wrap up (though there is room for more adventures) It was nice that the show did get a coda. All in al lSanctuary was an excellent show that lasted four seasons and left room for more stories to be told shold Syfy every decide to bring it back.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1: CHILDREN OF THE GODS – THE FINAL CUT

CAST
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Andromeda)
Jay Avocone (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Vaitiare Bandera (Out of The Blue)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Alexis Cruz (Dark Wolf)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Colin Lawrence (X-Men 2)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Richard Dean Anderson, Jay Acovone, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)
The original pilot episode of the long-running television show has been re-cut, re-mastered, and has new special effects.Since I hadn’t seen the pilot episode for quite some time, I had to pull out my original copy from the Season 1 box set and compare it to the new version. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a drastic difference or if it was just going to be a marketing gimmick with just a few minor changes to the original.
Peter Williams in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

I noticed the differences immediately in the credits. They began as they would in a feature-length film, and gone was the traditional opening credit scene against the backdrop of the Stargate. But there were a lot more changes than just the credits. The special effects were redone, a lot of the dialogue had been shortened up, and the story had some significant changes. In the original, Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) has a very gutsy introduction as a woman who can handle her own with the men and even makes a comment about just because her reproductive organs are on the inside doesn’t make her any less of a soldier. It is a little out of character for the Sam we will get to know throughout the series, but I really missed it in the new version.Vaitiare Hirshon in Stargate SG-1 (1997)There’s an awkward conversation between Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and his close friend, Charles Kawalsky (Jay Acovone), where Jack explains about his son’s death that was cut out of the episode. It was an obvious attempt at filling in the audience, but really wasn’t needed and is something a good friend would have already known. In fact, the entire relationship between the two soldiers is much tighter in the new version. There are constant smirks and knowing nods between the two, and at one point they even make the same comment at the exact same timeStargate-SG-1-Children-of-the-Gods-Season-1-Episode-1-Sam-and-Jack-2-e1526998727642The renegade Jaffa, Teal’c (Christopher Judge), who defies his Goa’uld masters to help the SG-1 team, has an overhaul as well. The scenes where he actually picks the slaves to be implanted with symbiotes or killed has been removed, which helps to make his betrayal more believable. There’s also a scene at the end where his voice has been completely re dubbed and he gives a much lengthier speech on his reasons for changing sides and how he himself carries a symbiote in larval form.PDVD_1071One of the most obvious changes in the pilot is the fact that there is no nudity. Originally, the show premiered on Showtime for a few seasons before switching to the Sci-Fi channel. The change makes it fit in better with the series as a whole, but the nudity isn’t just gratuitous. It gives the scene a slightly creepier feel as the symbiote looking for a new host crawls all over Sha’re (Vaitiare Bandera). The changes are not just with story and dialogue, but the music score and special effects have been redone. The rippling of the water-like pool that opens when the Stargate has been activated is standardized throughout every scene. The wormhole effect when someone travels between gates is completely different. The most significant special effects addition is during the ending battle scene where more ships are digitally added to the fray. It really does make the scene fuller and more exciting.childrenofthegods-580x300While most of the changes aren’t necessary to enjoy the episode, the last change that is made in the very last scene makes it a much more satisfying story. Originally, as the Stargate teams flee back through the gate to Earth, a symbiote leaps out of its dying Jaffa carrier and burrows into Kawalsky’s head. The last scene is the Goa’uld exerting its dominance over him and his eyes glowing yellow. After all that has happened in the pilot it ends on this really sour note. In the new version the entire incident is removed and gives the film a completely different outlook.

REVIEW: STARGATE: ATLANTIS – SEASON 2

Starring

Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Torri Higginson (Dark Waters)
Rainbow Sun Francks (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem)
Jason Momoa (Aquaman)
Rachel Luttrell (A Dog’s Breakfast)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)

Joe Flanigan and Mitch Pileggi in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Clayton Landey (Sully)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Kirby Morrow (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Lucia Walters (Fifty Shades Darker)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Kavan Smith (Mission to Mars)
Jonathon Young (Sanctuary)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Claire Rankin (Taken TV)
Brenda James (Slither)
A.C. Peterson (Mutant X)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Aaron Abrams (Hannibal)
Andee Frizzell (Flash Gordon)
Jenn Bird (Blade: The Series)
Chad Morgan (The Purge: Anarchy)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Peter Flemming (The X-Files)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Mark Gibbon (The 6th Day)
Ryan Robbins (Caprica)
Sonja Bennett (The Fog)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Brandy Ledford (Androemda)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic Four)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)

Rainbow Francks in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Season one not only established this show as a unique rival to its fellow series `Stargate: SG-1′, but also set the bar very high for a second season with this new breed of adventurers continuing to battle Wraith and other foe in the far-removed Pegasus Galaxy.Joe Flanigan in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Just as with its sister series, `Atlantis’ is adept at balancing a large season story-arc while at the same time providing its audience with inventive one-off stories that act both to attract new viewers to the show and also give the loyal fan-base a break from the on-going threat of the Wraith. This second season is no exception.Rachel Luttrell and Jason Momoa in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)The Siege Part III – As last season closed, the cliffhanger had Atlantis under siege by the Wraiths and things were not going well. Atlantis was ready to self destruct and Maj. Shephard was on the way to a suicide mission. As is customary in such situations, the cavalry arrives just in the nick of time in the form of the Earth Ship Daedelus. It has some advanced Asgard technology on board which saves Shepherd and helps to destroy the hive ships attacking Atlantis. Some manage to get away and they are heading back with reinforcements. While the cleanup is going on, a lieutenant is rescued but he has been severely damaged by the wraith. He is irrational and jumpy about the others who do not fully trust him. As the enlarged wraith fleet arrives, Atlantis decides to gamble on deceiving them that a self destruct has really taken place. This occurs just as the damaged lieutenant steals a puddle jumper and flees through the gate.Runner – A team from Atlantis is investigating a planet with extremely high solar radiation. While there, they find a dead Wraith. There is evidence that he was killed by Lt. Ford, the guy who fled in the first episode of the season. The team heads back to try and get him to come back. They find a surprise. There is another human on the planet who has had a transmitter mounted in his back so that he can be the guest of honor in a sort of trophy hunt. He has managed to elude the Wraith for 7 years before being captured. He is set free by Lt. Ford who is deranged. Now it is a 3 way manhunt with nobody trusting anyone else.David Hewlett and Paul McGillion in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Instinct – While investigating a new planet, the Atlantis team comes across a village that is intermittently plagued by a Wraith. The team agrees to hunt it down but finds something unexpected. They find a local scientist who has been raising a juvenile female Wraith as his daughter. He swears that it is not her who is terrorizing the village. He also maintains that there is another Wraith out there. The science types at Atlantis think they might be able to use the girl to develop a vaccine to fight the virus that causes humans to become Wraiths. It might even turn Wraiths back into humans. The research is promising until the young Wraith girl jumps the gun causing no end of problems.David Hewlett, Rachel Luttrell, Paul McGillion, Jason Momoa, and Kavan Smith in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Conversion – At the close of the previous episode, LTC Shepherd was injured by the Wraith girl who had tried the experimental virus. Some of their blood mingled. Now he is infected with the parasitic virus that produces Wraiths. Now the race is one to capture an alien bug, get some stem cells and find a cure. The col. is going stir crazy while this happens and is getting more and more volatile. The Lost Boys – The team is following up on a tip and is captured. They are quickly taken to another planet where they find that they have been captured by a force led by the AWOL Lt. Ford. He has been on a rampage and has been taking Wraith “enzyme” from all of his victims. He feeds the enzyme to his followers to give them super strength. He thinks that is the way for humanity to defeat the Wraith. The enzyme prevents him from thinking straight. And, by the way, this one is a cliffhanger.Joe Flanigan and Jason Momoa in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)The Hive – Lt. Ford’s plan to prove the worth of the enzyme is simple. They use a stolen dart and use it to blow up a hive ship. That’s what they were doing at the end of the last episode when they got captured. Remember, Ford doesn’t think all that well under the influence of the enzyme. After the capture, all grow through withdrawal from the enzyme. The longer it has been used, the worse the withdrawal. Help comes from an unexpected source from the least likely hero. Critical Mass – Stargate Command on Earth and Atlantis are plunged into chaos when it is revealed that a Goa’uld operative is hidden in Atlantis. The operative has orders to set a bomb to blow up Atlantis when the Stargate is used to dial Earth. They apparently want to destroy Atlantis to keep the Wraith from getting anywhere near them. The mole is very highly placed.Connor Trinneer in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Michael – Something is not quite right. The episode begins with a man in sick bay. As he is awoken, all of the command staff is notified to be there. He has amnesia and cannot remember anything. He is told that he was a member of a team captured by the Wraith and recaptured by Atlantis. That is not quite the truth which is quite a bit uglier. He was a Wraith upon whom an experimental retrovirus had been tried. The experiment threatens the existence of Atlantis itself.Andee Frizzell in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Allies – A Wraith hive ship arrives. Instead of opening fire, the Wraith ship opens communication. It is being led by Michael, the Wraith upon whom experiments were conducted. He is offering all sorts of Wraith military secrets…for a price. They want the retrovirus used to create Michael. They believe that will give them supremacy over other Wraith. They are a slimy group though and hidden agendas are not beyond the realm of possibility. The alliance is not what it seems. Earth is in trouble in this season ending cliffhanger.