- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A film to rock and roll all night to and a scary movie short on scares are a few of the latest titles in Blu-ray home entertainment this week.

Detroit Rock City (Warner Home Video, Rated R, $19.98)  — A coming-of-age film from 1999 gets dusted off for the Blu-ray format to satisfy the nostalgic, hard-rock demographic smitten with the 1970s.

In this movie, set in 1978 in Cleveland, viewers learn about the slightly reckless life of four teens infatuated with the rock band KISS. Their journey to see the band live at Cabo Hall in Detroit leads to much sophomoric humor and ribald shenanigans for the adult viewer.

Pop culture joyously clutters the screen throughout and for those geeks thriving during the late 1970s, keep an eye out for the likes of a Stretch Armstrong doll, a Ted Nugent pinball machine and a “Master of Kung Fu” comic book.

But, clearly the star of the movie is the soundtrack jamming in over 50 tunes from the era. Listen for such ditties as “Iron Man” (by Black Sabbath), “Surrender” (Cheap Trick), “School Days” (The Runaways) and “Little Willy” (The Sweet) to name just a few.

It’s also worth mentioning a few of the distinguished actors from the ensemble cast include Edward Furling (“Terminator 2”) as one of the teen burnouts, Shannon Tweed (Gene Simmons’s wife) as a female temptress and SCTV veteran Joe Flaherty as a slightly deranged priest.

The digital transfer is as great as one would expect from for a 16-year-old movie — slightly grainy at times and a bit washed out — but all of the colors and details really gel in the last scene with KISS preforming “Detroit Rock City.”

The Blu-ray disk also packs in most all of the extras from the DVD release from 2000, which is a very good thing.

Let’s start with no less than three commentaries tracks starring:

* Director Adam Rifkin — Someone needed to justify a film that bombed at the box office but has developed a cult following akin to “Rock and Roll High School.” Mr. Rifkin covers all production topics in a workmanlike manner especially building a period film, even using a filters to capture a 1970s vibe.

* An assembly of cast and crew — About a half dozen actors and staff (from Shannon Tweed to Lynn Shaye, Melanie Lynskey and James DeBello) discuss some of the fun moments, with many laughs, on the set.

* The original line-up of KISS — Could it get any better than this? Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss (in separate tracks) talk about the film but more about the mythology of the band and its transformation into a popular culture franchise.

Also, fans will appreciate a featurette with about 30 minutes worth of on-the-set interviews with the producers, director, cast and KISS bassist Gene Simmons.

Additionally, look for some classic music videos of The Donnas performing “Strutter” and Everclear with “The Boys are Back in Town.”

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $39.99) — Legendary Hammer Film Productions, who created those “Dracula” homages in the 1960s and 1970s, offered a sequel to its minor 2012 hit last year about the return of the mother of all evil.

The decidedly British affair, set within World War II, offers the tale of a young teacher and a schoolmarm taking a group of children to a countryside abode called the Eel March Manor to duck the Nazi blitzkrieg of Britain.

With high hopes for horror, “The Woman in Black 2” presented all of the ingredients for a great Hammer film, including a creepy mansion, lots of fog, a cemetery, flickering lanterns, creaking doors and frightening dolls.

Unfortunately, despite the fleeting appearances of “mother,” the movie is not very scary. It’s devoid of much terror, and no matter how pristine the digital transfer, many of the potential frights play out in near-complete darkness. They were almost impossible to see even with all of my lights turned off.

Also, the plot eventually centers on the restless spirit causing children to kill commit suicide and that was more than a bit uncomfortable for me.

The 98-minute effort is a rental at best and only for the most devoted horror or ghost story fans who enjoyed the first film.

The extras are perfunctory with a 15-minute look at the making of “The Woman in Black 2” and a 5-minute featurette on some of the genuinely eerie locations.

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