31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2013
This is an overall decent collection of four mid 1980's sci-fi flicks that I thoroughly enjoyed watching back then. I eagerly waited for this release when first heard about it. Shout! Factory are noted for the quality of their releases, so I'm going to comment on some DVD attributes I look for that are important to me, and I'm sure, others out there.
Be aware that only one, The Time Guardian, is anamorphic widescreen at 2.35:1. The others are Full Frame (4:3). For those with quality home theater audio systems for surround sound take note, none of the movies are encoded for Dolby Digital 5.1, though all were originally encoded with stereo sound tracks. Arena, America 3000, and The Time Guardian have true stereo Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. They sound decent and enveloping with the Dolby Pro Logic II settings on an AV receiver.
Audio quality is just as important to me as the video experience. The big disappointment for me was the mono soundtrack on the Eliminators, the flick I most eagerly waited for out of the four . The mono soundtrack was so dull and lifeless, despite the action scenes, I stopped watching this about half way through. Believe it or not (and some readers may scoff at this), I dug out my old VHS copy of Eliminators with the VHS HI-FI Dolby Surround audio tracks and watched that instead with 1080p up scaling to compare to the DVD. I enjoyed and preferred my old VHS copy more than I did the brand new DVD copy. The DVD version had the edge on video quality, but the analog audio HI-FI Stereo quality of the VHS version totally blew away the DVD mono version in an A & B audio comparison. Normally, DVD releases will blow away their VHS counterpart in terms of overall quality but I had to note this exception in this review, at least my opinion. The fact the video was Full Frame also deepened my disappointment, especially after waiting 13 years for a DVD release of this film ever since DVDs started becoming popular back in 1999.
Shout! Factory is to be commended for releasing these flicks, among others and making them available. I also believe Shout! Factory can only release these films on DVD based on source material given to them, and hence the quality (or lack of) when licensed from the original studios. With the exception of the Eliminators, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing this collection. With the cheap price point of owning plus the quality release of The Time Guardian, I give this 4 stars.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2013
I have been waiting for years to get my hands on a respectable release of ARENA and ELIMINATORS and Shout! Factory have finally come through! I am loving these 4 film collections they're releasing because they're really giving the fans what they're asking for. I mean, who woulda thunk we'd see CELLAR DWELLER (coming soon!) released on DVD? These sets may not be super fancy HD releases but they look great; clean, watchable and solid sound. For those of you upset with four films being packed on to two discs, I get it, but this is what we're getting, like it or leave it.
For those that like it, grab this film collection NOW! I mean the lineup is geek gold. AMERICA 3000 is insanely bad but fun, ARENA and ELIMINATORS is cheesy sci-fi goodness and THE TIME GUARDIANS is entertaining in its own way. For the price, this collection kicks tail. Is it really worth buying? If you're into this kind of cinema, I'd say 100% yes.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2014
Another sweet release from those wacked-out guys at Shout! Factory. Four films (two films on each single-sided disc) from prolific producer Charles Band, king of B-grade sci-fi trash films from the Regan era!!! His work is every bit as good, if not better, than the stuff cranked out by Roger Corman. I was drawn to ELIMINATORS when it originally came out on VHS because of the awesome artwork in my local video store: a big, stand-up cardboard poster with a blinking LED for the Mandroid's roboeye. Hard for a kid to resist a lure like that! LOL. I really love ELIMINATORS. It's basically a mish-mash comic book come to life. (Writers Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo would go on to create the awesome, but sadly short-lived TV series "The Flash" in 1990 and Knight Rider wanna-be "Viper" in 1994, among all of their other work.) I was so pumped to finally see ELIMINATORS on home video, and in a nice 4-movie pack, to boot! Heck, I would've paid the same price (or more) just for Eliminators!
I had never seen the other three films, but luckily Arena turned out to be a lot of fun, and The Time Guardian & America 3000 were enjoyably silly as well. I think this 2-disc double feature set is a great bargain if you're a fan of this kind of film or are a Empire/Charles Band aficionado. The only complaint is that the transfers are all sort of rough-looking and some of them are 4x3 format instead of widescreen. I am unsure of what the original screen ratios were for these films though, so that may be the way they were shot, but I doubt it. Still, it's just cool to have Eliminators (and the other three films) in my collection. Now I can finally toss that old video tape!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2013
I gave this 4 stars because, like other reviewers, I've been waiting a long time to see these features released on DVD. They are the best of grindhouse scifi. I had fond memories of seeing Eliminators in the theater as a kid and later enjoyed it again on VHS. Also, can't beat the price for four movies. However, like some other reviewers, I am disappointed with the quality of this release. I was really hoping for a High-def transfer or at least a widescreen treatment of Eliminators.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2013
Granted there are four movies in this pack, I bought this for Arena. Which is just a fantastic sci-fi movie that most people probably have not even heard of, that alone is worth the price. Basically think of Bloodsport, in the future, on a space station. It also has a few notable actors that play in series such as Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2013
Shout Factory has become one of my favorite companies, but they really dropped the ball on this release.
I was excited to know Arena was finally coming to DVD, and in widescreen no less (as was falsely advertised by Amazon). Then I actually started to watch the DVD. What a HUGE disappointment Arena's transfer is. It's so bad it's insulting. The VHS I transferred to DVD myself was pretty much identical. While this transfer of Arena doesn't have the artifacts my homemade DVD did, it is much darker. Sure, Shout Factory can only work with the elements they're given, but they could have at least tweaked the brightness/contrast on this transfer, as well as issued a disclaimer warning people that the master was of such poor quality.
Some may think I'm being too harsh, given the fact that this release is cheap and contains four movies, but it was advertised as being in widescreen and Shout Factory's other releases have been great up to this point. I would much rather pay more for a good release of Arena than settle for this one. My faith in Shout Factory has now begun to dwindle.
on December 16, 2014
You never know what you are going to see when you start watching a B movie for the first time. That said let me qualify my rating. I rate B movies apart. They have their own scale in my book. For example, if you compare the most recent Thor or Captain America movies with any of these four B flicks, you of course will have to give these B movies one star. But that’s not fair because these movies don’t have the budgets, star power, director power, etc. That is why these are called “B movies.”
As for the “4 Sci-Fi Movie Marathon” DVD, it includes 2 DVDs. Each DVD contains 2 movies. The movies were originally filmed in 480p (maybe even less) so don’t expect true HD quality. That didn’t exist back then! While these films haven’t been digitally remastered, their quality is better than I expected. I just got done watching a 1983 Richard Hatch B movie and that one had the quality of a 3rd generation VHS recording! The image quality of the “4 Sci-Fi Movie Marathon” DVD is happily much, much better.
If you really want to enjoy these movies than I recommend that you set your expectation very low that way you can be pleasantly surprised. Again, don’t compare them with modern blockbusters, but if you need to compare them with something then compare them with HOW YOU WOULD HAVE made these movies. If you approach these B movies with that mindset, then you will love these films!
The best film of the films hands down on technical merits is Arena. They spent a lot of money on this film for a B movie. The sets and special effects are impressive. The sets and costumes reminded me of the 80s version of Total Recall. Maybe the same people made them movies. However, the aliens, and there are a zillion of them reminded me of the 80s Star Trek movies. Don’t let the aliens and the futuristic setting turn you off. Give it a chance and I think you’ll like the leading characters and even laugh a bit at some of the alien fighters.
The Time Guardian is a close second to Arena. It was filmed in Australia and is about the remnant of humanity in earth’s distant future who are being pursued by murderous cyborgs. Here’s the catch. To escape the cyborgs, the humans keep jumping to other times and each time they are pursued. I found that premise original and the special effects were just convincing enough.
The Time Guardian’s lead actors are outstanding and the director and his crew are very good. However, the acting of the supporting cast is not very good. The film has smooth transitions and I thought the special effects were just fine given the low budget. The actors, props, scene settings were believable and pulled me into the movie. Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) does a good job although her character doesn’t get the screen time that the two leads get.
Note: This is the only film of the bunch that has nudity. It’s one scene where the lead female strips down to swim in a lake. The filmmakers could’ve done this scene without the nudity. That said, you briefly see her precious A/B cup noonies! She’s a real Aussie cutie too.
The next best movie on technical merits is Elminators. It had a lot of potential but unfortunately quite a bit of 80s cheese, particularly with the fight scenes and the dialogue and these significantly weakened the film. For example, the ninja guy (who looks like he could pass for Jackie Chan’s brother) is a total dweeb but I’m sure back then he was pretty convincing tough guy.
I also thought they should’ve cast another actor as the cyborg. This guy was too emotional that he came off as weak and fragile. On the other hand, Denise Cosby’s (Tasha Yar from Star Trek Next Generation) character, who is a total tomboy, brings a lot depth to the film. Take her out and the movie collapses.
Andrew Prine’s (the visitors security chief in V the Final Battle films) character is modeled after Michael Douglas’ Romancing the Stone’s character. I like the V shows so Prine was a bit type cast for me but I think he still pulled it off, which is a tribute to his acting ability. However, the dialogue given to Prine’s character is mixed. It’s either right on or dweebish and cheesy. I fault the screenplay for that and not Prine’s acting ability.
I also didn’t care much for the Elminators’ villain. He’s a one dimensional 80s cheese fest. You know the type. He’s just evil, evil, evil and tries very hard to convince you of that fact by snarling, wincing, and changing the tone of this voice with each line. While I liked parts of Elminator, I struggled to finish the movie. I enjoyed this film the least.
I came into America 3000 with low expectations due to other reviews on Amazon. However, I was pleasantly surprised with it and I think I probably enjoyed this film the most of the four even though it was the worst of the bunch on technical merits.
I would advise you to start watching America 3000 about 11pm when you are a bit tired and ready to believe the absurd. That’s what I did and absolutely loved the film. I even teared up at the end! I’m just a sucker for a good forgiveness story.
America 3000’s setting is America in about the year 3000. A nuclear war between the US and the USSR destroyed civilization about 900 years earlier. Men and women now live separately and the women are amazons and the men are a step above cavemen! That premise, which is ludicrous, is never explained so I just said to myself that this is a B movie and I’m just going to accept that fact on the film’s terms.
America 3000 follows the actions of two men who manage to break the mold and rise to the top. The two actors are Chuck Wagner (who exudes phenomenal levels of energy and passion in his role) and William Wallace (the one who wears the Abe Lincoln hat throughout the film and who also narrates the film). Both guys do a fantastic job. Had these guys flopped the whole movie would’ve flopped. But they really pulled it off and I loved the way they played off each other during their shared scenes. In fact, I would say the relationship of these two leads is what made the movie a success for me.
What also helped America 3000 is that you can’t predict what is going to happen next. I was repeatedly caught off guard and so I see a lot of originality in the film. I also liked the rock soundtrack. 80s rock tunes jam throughout the film and I have to say compliment the scenes.
One thing that stood out to me in America 3000 is that there were about 3 or 4 scenes that were just utterly fantastic. I literally had to rewind the DVD for each of these scenes and watch them again before continuing with the film. That’s how good those scenes were, and I didn’t do this with any of the other films but this one.
I can’t give away any plot spoilers so I will just lift two particular scenes out of context. You will love the scene where Corvis emerges from a fallout shelter decked out in gold duds and mounted on a horse with an American flag draped over it and a boom box in hand, and then later when they blow up that same gold costume with a hand grenade –with 80s rock blaring!
There are some real babes among the amazons. Interestingly, the amazon cast is multi-racial and this at a time when whites were about 80% of the US population. You’ve got some gorgeous white, black, Hispanic, and mixed babes and I have to say that just looking at them made the film enjoyable. Their acting overall is not as good as the two lead guys but heck it’s a B film, right? Oh, and the amazons each used a full can of hairspray! Go 80s!
on January 8, 2015
If you are looking at this product, then it is probable you will like it for what it is. How can you beat 4 low-budget movies from this era for this price and all in one neat package? You cant.
I have watched two of the four (Eliminators and one other--they all morph together after a while) and they certainly dish out the entertainment value one SHOULD expect from this genre. The movies flow well enough, with decent amount of action in between the atypical attempts at plot building and back story. Too often these types of flix get caught up trying to earn respect for cinematography, writing, or directing because they know they have already belly-flopped on the budget and acting front. This creates long, drawn out scenes full of lackadaisical dialogue or endless travellings through bleak scenery. Peter Jackson and Tolkien are of the few who can perforate an action flick in this manner successfully. I have viewed and been thoroughly bored by many such 'cheese' teases which is why I always have my finger on the [>>] button of the remote. I have to say, that at least 2 of the 4 herein deliver an adequate % of entertainment and I managed to watch them in whole. And as has likely been said, failing your expectations, you always have functional coasters and a case to store better discs in.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2013
Arena alone is worth the purchase of this 4 movie 1980's flashback....only The time guardian is widescreen. Picture quality is pretty good. Buy this you wll not regret it.
on November 6, 2013
What a great collection of fantastically entertaining movies! I had never heard of America 3000 but it is one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time. It is similar in tone to "A boy and his Dog" with a little bit more on the nose humor. If you like fallout you may enjoy all the over the top Americana in it. As an added plus, there is a Sasquatch beast that likes boomboxes and noise.
The other films are a mixed bag. Eliminators is goofy but fairly boring, Arena and Time Guardians were campy fun. Pick this up if you like rare films that not many people have seen. Grab a couple of beers and riff these with your friends. Great times overall.