Regan comes to Blu-ray

“Get yer trousers on, you’re nicked!” was the first line uttered by John Thaw’s iconic character Jack Regan. Making its debut on 4 June 1974 as part of the Armchair Cinema umbrella brand, this was the second in that format’s run, following on from the previous week’s “The Prison”, starring James Laurenson (revolving around a successful Paris magazine proprietor embarking on a destructive voyage of self-discovery, after his wife shoots dead her own sister, with whom he had an affair with for several years).

Although much attention has been rested upon the subsequent series The Sweeney, “Regan” certainly benefits from the remastering and restoration into Blu-ray high definition, which it has never been treated to before. Granted, weighing in originally on 16mm film, it cannot quite reach the dizzy bright heights of those productions originally rendered in 35mm, but it is a significant improvement on what has come before. You’re no longer distracted by the scratches and blips, and can concentrate on the story as it unfolds.

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Quatermass & The Pit Blu-ray

There’s a bizarre snobbery at work with the Hammer Films version of “Quatermass and the Pit”. The 1967 big screen adaption of the 1958 BBC television series tends to suffer the same critical mauling in some circles as the cinematic overhaul of the first two Doctor Who Dalek adventures. So, here we have the chance to view the final entry in the original Quatermass trio of stories realised in Blu-ray High Definition, and hope it leads to a re-evaluation.

Rest assured, it should be, as original author Nigel Kneale gets to helm the screenplay, and director Roy Ward Baker turns in some his best-ever work, in a career that spanned the likes of The Avengers, The Saint and Minder on TV, and “A Night to Remember”, “Moon Zero Two” and “The Monster Club” for the cinema. The combination in this Quatermass is spooky and unsettling, letting the words and performances create the fear, rather than relying on special effects.

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Cat O'Nine Tails on Blu-ray

Argento’s second movie is a slow but suspenseful murder thriller with plenty of death and colourful characters. James Franciscus (“Beneath the Planet of the Apes”, Mr Novak) stars alongside Karl Malden (“Patton”, The Streets of San Francisco). Carlo Giordani (Franciscus) is a tenacious newspaper reporter sniffing around a top secret biotechnology lab in Rome where a break-in has occurred but strangely nothing appears to have been stolen.

He bumps into Franco Arno (Malden), a blind man with a penchant for puzzles and a curious mind. They soon team up to investigate the case which rapidly spirals into a multiple homicide. It turns out that the lab was developing a controversial test for people with a ‘XYY’ genetic trait that apparently suggests they have a greater propensity for violence and criminal activity. Can the odd pairing crack the case before the ruthless killer’s focus turns to them?

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Cannibal Holocaust Blu-ray

“Cannibal Holocaust” is undoubtedly one of the most controversial ‘video nasties’ of them all, primarily acquiring that label for its depiction of real animal killing and cruelty, and disturbingly sexual violence. Bizarrely, the cannibalism aspect is of secondary importance. DVD label Shameless has released new editions to tie in with the current vogue for ‘found footage’ films, not least because this trend-setting movie predates “The Blair Witch Project” by twenty years.

Professor Harold Munroe (Robert Kerman – “Spider-man”) is despatched by a TV network into the Amazonian jungle to track down four intrepid film makers. They were making a documentary about mysterious tribal activity but never returned to civilisation. Munroe and his backup make some grizzly discoveries and find some cans of film in the possession of natives. The professor returns to America and engages in a battle with the network to stop the shocking footage being broadcast.

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The Persuaders! on Blu-ray

For those of you who don’t know this 1971-1972 series, Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) and Lord Brett Sinclair (Roger Moore) are two millionaire playboys – one a self-made man who battled his way out of the New York slums, and the other a peer of the realm, born into the high life – who are duped by retired Judge Fulton (Laurence Naismith) into righting wrongs that come onto the judge’s radar.

Filmed on location around Pinewood Studios and in Monaco, The Persuaders! was the casting coup of Lord Lew Grade, pitching two big names together, after the idea of two mismatched playboys first surfaced in an episode of The Saint (“The Ex-King of Diamonds” – Stuart Damon in that case playing the American half).  That episode is including within this stunning HD set, and I have bad news for all those on a budget – you are going to have to upgrade from your DVDs!

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