Thursday, March 5, 2015



Label: Grindhouse Releasing
Region: A
Rating: R
Duration: 83 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0, Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) HD
Director: Duke Mitchell
Cast: Duke Mitchell, Vic Caesar, Louis Zito, Cara Salerno, Jimmy Williams

Mimi Miceli (Duke Mitchell) is the son of the powerful New York crime boss Don Mimi who has been exiled to Sicily by the American authorities for what I assume to be mob related activities. Mimi is eager to resume the mafia lifestyle and leaves his son and father behind in Italy to pursue a life of crime in Hollywood, California. Once in Hollywood searches for his childhood friend Jolly (Vic Caesar), whom he finds tending bar at a local dive. Reunited the two quickly carve a path of violence and murder through the streets Hollywood. The first order of business is to kidnap and ransom the West Coast Mafia Boss, Chucky Tripoli (Louis Zito). After the successful ransoming the duo with balls of brass crash the wedding party of Tripoli's daughter and raise a toast. Afterward Mimi runs off with one of the wedding guests, a voluptuous brunette named Liz (Cara Salerno) whom remains his companion for the duration of the film.

The movie is quite a wild ride from the first scene and over-the-top massacre that begins with Mimi and Jolly entering an office and abducting a handicap man in a wheelchair. After forcing him into a bathroom stick hos foot in the urinal and attach electrical wires to the brace on his leg before plugging it into a wall outlet. Afterward they blast their way through fourteen more victims. Strangely none of whom thought to flee when they heard the shots ringing out from the duos hand cannons, the death throes of a few of the victims are pretty funny, they're either overly exaggerated or a bit too subdued, but that's what happens when you recruit your friends for a low budget mafia film, you get what you get.

On their way to top of the L.A. food chain Mimi and Jolly take on a pimp named Super Spook (Jimmy Williams) in an attempt to takeover his lucrative whoring trade, apparently this smooth pimping cat has forty white broads making $500 each a night and the Sicilians want in on that sweet action. When the acquisition doesn't go quite as planned Mimi is forced to pursue more legitimate business opportunities, that is if you consider the porn industry to be a legitimate enterprise. Their adventures in the skin trade are short lived it does serve to treats viewers to some soft core girl on girl action out on a boat. It's not too long before the mafia-blooded Mimi and his loyal strongman are at it once again, committing violent acts within the mob community in L.A. which angers his mafia boss father back in Sicily. Advertised as the most violent film ever made the home-made mafia movie falls a bit short of the hyperbole but certainly entertains with a blend of action, violence and b-movie mayhem.

I thought Duke Mitchell was pretty fantastic as the amped-up Mimi, a charismatic character who in equal measures both craves and condemns the mafia lifestyle with weird little monologues, the dialogue in the film is wonderfully colorful and often racist. One such verbal delight emerges with Mimi holding the hands of an old woman while at dinner with Tripoli. He laments that "the Italian hasn't been disgraced, you and I disgraced it", to Tripoli, going onto say that Italian women have given the world some of the most appreciated foods in the world, but in return, "we gave her violence, we have her death, we gave her dishonor, we gave these hands the ability to fondle the rosary beads and to pray for us while we are in jail facing the electric chair ..." and on and on it goes, the gift that keeps on giving, these monologues and voice over narration are just as much apart of the charm of the movie as the violence dealt throughout the film, every word is a treasure to be cherished by b-movie maniacs for many years to come.

There's little doubt that Duke Mitchell was an amateur filmmaker but he was also a bit of an auteur with a unique perspective and keen ear for dialogue informed by years of interacting with Italian Americans while crooning at the clubs over the years. While t was inspired by the enormous success of the Godfather it's safe to say that Massacre Mafia Style stand alone unto itself. Some of the later crime films out of Italy in the '70s were more violent but none were as strangely weird and wonderful.

A wild crime movie loaded with plenty of action, trashy dialogue and mafia-fueled violence with a high body count that leaves absolutely no one unscathed. Written, produced and directed by a lounge crooner turned low-budget filmmaker this one captures your attention from the first frame and will not let go, right up till the violent last scene, this one's a keeper.

The new restoration from Grindhouse releasing is superb with nicely managed grain, a surprisingly crisp image and robust color saturation through and through, the restoration afforded to this wild slice of mafia cinema is pretty astounding when you think about it. The colors are vibrant color, and the depth and clarity accentuate the sweet 1970s aesthetic from the texture of the corduroy to the fine detail of those kitschy paisley shirts.

The DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0 track comes through mostly clean due to the limitations of the source material. Nothing too offensive, just some oddly recorded dialogue here and there. Love the use of David Mitchell's original songs throughout, particularly the upbeat song "Tic-a-Tee, Tik-a-Tay" at the top of the film during the massacre at the office building, which if you know anything about the film is pretty much the entire trailer for the film we've been seeing for years, and it's still my favorite scene. .

Not unsurprisingly Grindhouse have gone all out for the bonus content on this 2-Disc Deluxe

Edition beginning with a 43-minute version of Like Father, Like Son documentary put together by Duke's son Jeffrey, a musician in his own right. It's an intimate portrait of his storied father with tales of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and hos father's sometimes violent temper in addition to a few stories from his own life including working for English music producer Mickie Most in the UK and playing with Suzi Quatro and studio sessions with the Bay City Rollers and Hot Chocolate. 

There's also interviews with exploitation producer Matt Cimber and actor Jim LoBianco (Gone with the Pope) who discuss Mitchell and the film, plus nearly an hour of home movies featuring Duke Mitchell accompanied by the crooner's own songs, including a an entire 52-minute performance from 1960 with the Keith Williams Orchestra. The Blu-ray disc is finished up with a theatrical trailer, four radio spots, extensive image galleries and filmographies for both Mitchell and actress Cara Salerno featuring select trailers, most notably Salerno's vintage porno Space Thing, whoah.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray disc of the set are the inclusion of the feature film Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla presented in black and white and it looks quite nice, much better than the many public domain versions I have watched. There's also a trailer for the film and an image gallery. Additionally we get what looks to be some sort of TC special, An Impressionistic Tribute to Jimmy Durante with the lounge crooner impersonating one of his childhood heroes Jimmy Durante, and performing his songs. These seems to be sourced from videotape but the accompanying 16mm dailies from the special look fantastic.

Additionally there are a few Easter Eggs hidden away on the discs too, plus over half an hour of sweet Grindhouse Releasing previews and a 12-page collector's booklet with rare photos and poster art and new liner notes by author David Szulkin, the booklet features a variation on cult artist Dave Lebow's cover art. On the 
DVD-Rom are two versions of the treatment and script for the movie, plus handwritten notes about the narration including an Italian to English translation of common Italian phrases used during the making of the film. 

Special Features:
- 2 Disc DVD/BD Combo Pack
- Incredible new hi-definition digital restoration of the original director’s cut
- Stunning digital restoration of the original mono soundtrack
- Like Father, Like Son Documentary (43 Mins) Interviews with Jeffrey Mitchel, Frankie Ray, George Jacobs, Jim LoBianco, and exploitation legend Matt Cimber
- Matt Cimber and Jim LoBianco Interview (10 Mins)
- Almost one full hour of never-before-seen Duke Mitchell Home Movies (52 Mins)
- Theatrical Trailers (2 Mins)
- Radio spots (3 Mins)
- Still Galleries (283 Images)
- Duke Mitchel Filmography with trailers for Gone with the Pope (2 Mins) and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (2 Mins)
- Cara Salerno Filmography with trailer for Space Thing (4 Mins)
- Grindhouse Releasing Previews (33 Mins)
- Disc Production Credits
- DVD Rom Extras
- Bonus Movie: Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (64 Mins)
- Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla Trailer (2 Mins)
- Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla Still Galley (36 Images)
- Bonus TV Special: An Impressionistic Tribute to Jimmy Durante (37 Mins)
- An Impressionistic Tribute to Jimmy Durante 16mm Dailies (7 Mins)
- Glossy booklet with rare photos and liner notes by author David Szulkin
- Spectacular new cover painting by renowned Los Angeles cult artist Dave Lebow

Massacre Mafia Style (1978) might just be one of the most cult movies ever made, a wildly entertaining piece of crime cinema dripping with mob violence, revenge and a tiny pinch of b-movie camp. Kudos to Grindhouse Releasing for the dusting off this forgotten gem with a gorgeous restoration and the exhaustive bonus content, a very high recommend for any enthusiast of crime and cult cinema.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Scream Factory Presents Ghoulies & Ghoulies II on Blu-ray April 21

On Blu-ray April 21, 2015

Look out or they'll get you in the end! Scream Factory proudly presents a monstrous double feature of GHOULIES GHOULIES II on Blu-ray on April 21, 2015. New bonus features include an audio commentary with Ghoulies director Luca Bercovici and interviews with executive producer Charles Band.

Take a creepy old Hollywood mansion, a naive young man and a pretty girl. Add an over-the-top orgy and some slimy, winged goblins who crawl out of toilets, and you have Ghoulies, a horrifying and hilarious ride into the darkest regions of hell! Conjured during a party thrown by the mansion's new owner, the hairy, fanged demons waste no time wreaking havoc on the scene – and declaring the unsuspecting owner their new lord and master! Peter Liapis (Ghost Warrior), Lisa Pelkin (Jennifer) Michael Des Barres (Waxwork II, Under Siege) and Jack Nance (Eraserhead, Twin Peaks) star in this fanged frenzy of sharp twists and eye-popping shocks that’ll get you where it counts!

The demonic, toilet-dwelling goblins are back! Stowed away in "Satan's Den," the traveling House of Horror operated by carnival workers Larry and Uncle Ned, the Ghoulies merrily devour the sideshow attraction's patrons... until Larry realizes his horror house is for real and tries to flee the scene! Deliciously outrageous special effects and over-the-top antics ratchet up the horrific fun! Kerry Remsen (Pumpkinhead), Phil Fondacaro (Troll), William Butler (1990’s Night of the Living Dead) and Royal Dano (Big Bad Mama) star in this creepy, crawly sequel that’s got every bit as big a bite as the original!


· Audio Commentary with director/co-writer Luca Bercovici
· New interviews with executive producer Charles Band, composer Richard Band, actor Michael Des Barres and special effects makeup artist John Vulich
· Original Theatrical Trailer

· New interviews with executive producer Charles Band, actress Kerry Remsen, actor Donnie Jeffcoat and special effects artist Gino Crognale
· Rare Deleted Scenes
· Original Theatrical Trailer



Label: Olive Films

Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 85 Minutes 
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 
Video: HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Jeff Burr
Stephen RootBruce GloverGary Lockwood,John HawkesDirk BlockerMartine Beswick, 
Dirk Blocker, Elizabeth Barondes

When the local troublemaker of a small agricultural community accidentally disturbs the crypt of a long buried warlock the spirit magic man is released. Taking the corporeal form of a scarecrow who immediately sets about wreaking his vengeance on the village whose forefathers betrayed him decades earlier. 

At the top of the film Claire Goodman (Elizabeth Barondes, Not of this Earth), the estranged daughter of the Mayor (Gary Lockwood, 2001: A Space Odyssey), one of four brothers who seem to own the town, we have the priest Uncle Thaddeus (Bruce Glover, Chinatown), the farmer Uncle George (Dirk Blocker, Poltergeist) and the sheriff Uncle Frank (Stephen Root, Office Space). Of course we have to have a love interest for the Mayor's daughter, enter Dillon (prolific TV actor John Mese) as the construction foreman for the Mayor who winds up in her bed pretty damn fast, all you had to do was talk some trash about her blowhard father, because it's just that easy gentlemen. 

A killer scarecrow movie is still pretty fertile ground to mine these days, there are not too awful many but here were definitely a few prior to this one, including the seminal TV terror Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) and the thriller (1988), so even at the time it was not an original idea but it is quite a bit of fun. Shot in the mid '90s the film feels very '90s with director Jeff Burr at the helm, one dimensional characters played by a cast of somewhat limited ability, s a cool scarecrow design for our iller and a bunch of fantastic practical in-camera special effects that should please the gore fans, there are a few pretty awful CGI morphing shots but for the most part they keep it old school cheap thrills, some of which are executed quite nicely.

One of the first kills is a character being thrashed to death by a threshing machine in a barn, which brought to mind Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing (1981), a few others cannot help but conjure the TV terror Dark Night of the Scarecrow, most of these scarecrow films owe that one quite a debt. A lot of the effects have to do with something getting under the skin of the victims, usually straw, sometime tendril type roots the burst out and drag the victim screaming beneath the ground, just on a fun effects driven level this one is a lot of fun. 

The scarecrow does bust out a few groan inducing one-liners in the vein of later era Freddy Krueger but it's kept to a minimum, aside from some wooden performances from a few of the younger cast members this one doesn't stray too far into the realms of camp, thankfully. I loved the design of the scarecrow, a one-eyed (button) menace wrapped in stitched burlap and tattered clothing, with a slightly too affected vocal effect that makes it hard to decipher just what he says from time to time, but it's a small complaint in an otherwise entertaining b-movie. 

Back to the cast I was surprised to see bona fide Bond Girl Martine Beswick (From Russia with Love) in the role of the preacher's wife, I was less surprised to see that the priest's daughter had been singled out for onscreen nudity, the very cute Cristi Harris (Demons 2) with her perky breasts definitely spices up the screen and her ensuing death is one of the best! Stephen Root is always brings something more to the screen, this is a serious turn as a straight-faced sheriff who wants to put an end to the string of murders plaguing his formerly quiet town, he's not threatening to burn down the office over a stapler but he does the job.. 

The story itself is nothing special, a typical small town setting with some shady business dealing, a weak love story and at the kernel of the film, the story of a vengeful warlock having his vengeance, what saves the film is a brisk pace and some quality deaths. There are a few flashback sequences that tell the back story of the warlock, shot is sepia tone they depict one of the most unattractive orgy scenes ever committed to film, these shots are pretty grainy but not near grainy enough to obscure what's transpiring, you've done something wrong when I d not want to see the orgy!

Audio/Video: Night of the Scarecrow arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films with an AVC encode presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and the source material is in pretty good shape, with some heavy grain in the darker scenes and occasional dirt and debris. Colors are sold and nicely saturated but the image quality varies from scene to scene, which I would attribute to the source material and the low-budget nature of the film, none of which ruined my experience. The DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 does a decent job exporting score and dialogue creating a nicely balanced stereo presentation, the unremarkable synth score adding only a modicum of atmosphere to the proceedings. 

Special Features: Bonus content on the disc begins with a very informative commentary from director Jeff Burr moderated by Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. Burr is loaded with technical and behind-the-scenes commentary and it makes for a fascinating listen as he speaks about producers forcing the awful '90s digital special effects on the film, there's never a lull in the conversation and if you are a Jeff Burr fan there's a lot there to enjoy. 

Additionally there's a vintage featurette with participation from special effects man David Miller, Elizabeth Barondes, John Mese, Gary Lockwood, John Hawkes, Christi Harris plus an 8-minute still gallery with some of Jim Manzie's score and commentary from director Jeff Burr. 

Verdict: Night of the Scarecrow (1995) is a fun bit of murderous scarecrow business with some decent kills and plenty of cheap horror thrills, a b-movie that makes for a decent Friday night viewing with a bowl of buttery popcorn and some tasty brews. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015



Label: Olive Films 

Region Code: A
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Duration: 80 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 
Video: HD SuperScope (2.00:1)
Don Siegel

Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates

One of the greatest and most influential Sci-Fi films of all time stars Kevin McCarthy as a doctor in a small California town whose patients are becoming hysterical and accuse their loved ones as emotionless impostors. Plant-like extra-terrestrials have invaded Earth, replicating the villagers in giant seed “pods” and taking possession of their souls while they sleep. Realizing that the epidemic is out of control, in a terrifying race for his life, he escapes to warn the world of the deadly invasion of the pod people! Directed by the great Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) and co-starring Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates and King Donovan. 

This is one of those many science fiction and horror movies I watched on the late night horror show that aired on WPIX back in the early '80s. Most of these I watched sitting directly in front of the tube TV in the floor with a big bowl of cereal and a glass of soda in hand. Those wonderful nights of sugar-fueled nightmare cinema are what fed my love of scary stuff from a young age, my mother was a horror fan herself so she was permissive about my late night viewings. 

Afterward the credits rolled I through the darkened house on my way to my room just a bundle of nerves and jumping at every shadow. Once snuggled in bed would be unable to succumb to the sandman for quite some time having been temporarily scarred for life by what I had just watched and the massive amounts of sugar still coursing through my veins. Once I managed to fall asleep my nightmares were usually a continuation of whatever film I had watched only now starring a cast faces familiar to me, my friends and neighbors. It was scary stuff but somehow I have never been able to get enough of the creepy movie magic. 

I can definitely recall watching the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS for the first time and it certainly gave me nightmares of strange happenings in a small town. It all begins with Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returning to the sleepy village of Santa Mira, California after a brief trip. Here he runs into an old flame named Becky (Dana Wynter) who has also returned to town following a recent divorce, and the two divorcees begin a budding romance picking-up where they left off some years earlier. The strange happenings begin when a frantic young boy is becomes convinced that his parents are not whom they appear to be and have changes in some insidious way. Soon after Becky's cousin Wilma (Virginia Christine) suspects that her own father, psychiatrist Dr. Dan Kaufman (Larry Gates), has been transformed into an soulless impersonator, but the psychiatrist assures Miles that the village is simply suffering from some form of mass hysteria, which he accepts, after all, Dr. Kaufman's a psychiatrist and if anyone would know what tricks the mind could play it would certainly be him. 

While the doc and Beck slowly rekindle their romance at a cocktail party the strangeness around town persists and the doc is called away to the home of friend Jack Belicec (King Donovan) and his wife Teddy (Carolyn Jones). The couple have discovered a strange body in their home, a humanoid form devoid of detail. Oddly, they do not report the eerie discovery to the authorities and the doc simply advises to the couple to keep an eye on it, to which I would say "fuck you". Later that night the doc and Becky find another half-formed body in her own basement, this one resembling Becky herself. Hitting a bit closer to home the duo are take things a bit more seriously, while they don't know what the fudge is happening in the village of Santa Mira it is certainly more than a case of mass hysteria!

What I love about this movie is the creepiness and paranoia of it all, it seems that these imposters are formed once you go to sleep, and eventually you have to fall asleep, there's just no way around it. Once you drift off the pod transforms into a mirror image of you, the copy assumes your role in the community, imbued with your memories and knowledge but devoid of all humanity. It is revealed that the copies come from a large pod seeds that are somewhat corny by today's standards, looking somewhat like a four foot long pea pod, but in context of a '50s sci-fi movie they're pretty decent props. Something else I love about the film is that there is no hideous alien creature that comes off as more schlocky than shocky, a lot of the paranoia and fear come straight from your mind. 

Realizing what a threat these space pods from space pose to the world and humanity Miles repeatedly attempts to warn the public of the impending doom but you just never know who you can trust when the people you know may not be the people you know at all. They realize just how large scale the invasion is when the discover a plan to send truckloads of the space pods into neighboring cities thereby spreading the alien invasion from town to town until the entire planet are a community of hive-minded doppelgangers.

McCarthy is fantastic in this paranoid science fiction thriller, his chiseled chin and all-American good looks brought to mind the '50s version of '80s b-movie legend Bruce Campbell with a bit more depth and way less camp, McCarthy can do unhinged with the best of them on the big screen. 

I love the look of the film which has a moody noir aesthetic with most scenes bathed deeply cast in light and shadows which accentuates the creepy vibe. The brassy score from composer Carmen Dragon is effective but secretly I wised for a cheesy theremin score. 

The special effects are simple but effective considering the era, the black and white images of the seed pods blooming and spilling forth a foamy white liquid with the malformed bodies emerging thrilled me as kid and still do something for me today, while they may not be on par with what was to come with the Kaufman remake in '78 they are quite good and don't come off as cheesy.  

More so than any effect what sells the film is actor Kevin McCarthy and the paranoid vibe the film creates and carries through right until the fantastic end, and this is one of the most memorable finales of all time with McCarthy running crazed through the streets warning strangers of the impending invasion which by now is well underway, it's one of my favorite apocalyptic endings in all of cinema. 

Not a lot of negative comments about this one, the script is tight and the pace is brisk, running at just eighty-minutes long, the biggest beef would be the tacked-on book end beginning and ending and the voice over narration, none of which was necessary but both were added by producer Walter Wanger. It doesn't ruin the film but on the whole I feel t would have been a more effective film and the ending would have had more weight had it stopped with McCarthy screaming  "They're here already! You're next! You're next!" to passing motorists. 

The Blu-ray from Olive Films presents this science fiction classic in the  SuperScope (2.0:1) aspect ratio as it was originally screened in theatres with an AVC encode and it looks fantastic. The source used for the HD master is nearly flawless with only minor instances of print damage, white speckling is kept to a minimum, this has a very smooth and natural appearance. Contrast looks very nice throughout with fantastic shadow detail accentuating the noir inspired cinematography, there's a lot to be happy about here. The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 exports the dialogue, effects and Carmen Dragon's score very nicely, crisp and clean throughout, no subtitles options are provided. 

Unfortunately there are no extras on the disc of any sort which is saddening as this is a film with a storied production history and there must be film scholars and science fiction authorities who would have loved to wax nostalgic about it. I would have enjoyed a newly commissioned featurette or a brief making of documentary, but nope, nada.
If you love vintage black and white science fiction films I think it is safe to say that Olive Films presentation of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is worth a purchase, the new HD upgrade is fantastic even if there are zero bonus features. If you have seen the Philip Kaufman's remake and have not treated yourself to a viewing of the original movie you are doing yourself a disservice, sixty-years on this is still quite a gripping slice of sci-fi cinema, highly recommended.  

From a Whisper To a Scream on Blu-ray April 28 from Scream Factory

On Blu-ray April 28, 2015

Welcome to Oldfield. Stop in for a night of pure terror. Prepare to be shocked out of your skin with four grisly tales of terror in one small town! On April 28, 2015, From a Whisper to a Scream (also known as The Offspring) makes its Blu-ray debut, courtesy of Scream Factory. This release comes complete with an array of new bonus features, including two audio commentaries and the feature-length documentary Return to Oldfield: The Making of WHISPER TO A SCREAM.
In his last role in a horror film, legendary king of horror Vincent Price gives "his fullest, most sepulchral tones of macabre camp" (Los Angeles Times) to this gruesome anthology that will haunt you for days

On the night his niece is executed for committing a string of brutal killings, historian Julian White (Price) reveals the sinister secrets of her hometown, Oldfield, Tennessee, a horrific hamlet that spawns evil! But as the town's murderous legacy is exposed with White's chilling accounts – including stories of a necrophilic madman, a voodoo priest with life-prolonging powers and a legion of children with an appetite for flesh – White doesn't realize that he is about the write the final chapter of Oldfield's morbid his own blood!

· Return to Oldfield: The Making of WHISPER TO A SCREAM - - A comprehensive feature-length documentary about the making of 'From A Whisper To A Scream', featuring director Jeff Burr, producer Darin Scott, co-screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner, star Clu Gulager, and many more!
· A Decade Under the Innocence: Adventures in Super 8 Filmmaking - A feature-length documentary about teenage adventures in 'Super 8' filmmaking during the 1970's in Georgia, featuring director Jeff Burr and more!
· Audio Commentary with writer/director Jeff Burr
· Audio Commentary with writer/producer Darin Scott and writer C. Courtney Joyner
· Still Gallery with commentary by writer/director Jeff Burr
· Theatrical Trailer

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

CARRIE (2000) / THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999) On Blu-ray April 14, 2015

CARRIE (2000) /THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999)
On Blu-ray April 14, 2015

Get ready for a double dose of telekinesis terror! Scream Factory presents Carrie & The Rage: Carrie 2 on Blu-ray on April 14, 2015, with bonus features that include new audio commentaries with Carrie director David Carson andThe Rage: Carrie 2 director Katt Shea and director of photography Donald Morgan.

CARRIE (2000)
Angela Bettis (May) stars in this 2002 adaptation of Stephen King's classic tale of horror and retribution, featuring eye-popping special effects and a shocking, all-new twist ending! Carrie White (Bettis) is a lonely, awkward teenage girl who just doesn't fit in. At school, she endures her classmates' constant ridicule, and at home she suffers endless psychological torture at the hands of her fanatically religious mother (Patricia Clarkson, Six Feet Under). But Carrie has a secret. She's been cursed with the terrifying power of telekinesis. And when her tormenters commit an act of unforgivably cruel humiliation at the prom, they'll soon learn a deadly lesson. Taking its inspiration from King’s book rather than the original film, Carrie was written by Bryan Fuller (TV’s Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) and stars Emilie de Ravin (Lost), Katharine Isabelle (See No Evil 2, Ginger Snaps) and Chelan Simmons (Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil).

- NEW Audio Commentary with director David Carson
- Trailer

In this horrifying 1999 sequel to Brian DePalma’s 1976 classic, Rachel (Emily Bergl, The Knick) is a high school misfit who gets caught in the middle of a vicious prank orchestrated by a group of jocks that turns deadly. Once the police bring one of the boys in for questioning, his teammates target Rachel for squealing, and hatch a devious scheme to publicly humiliate her. But messing with Rachel is worse than playing with fire, for when her temper's crossed, it triggers a powder-keg of anger and unleashes horrifying powers that turn a wild teen house party into a wilder mad-house inferno! Also starring Jason London (Dazed And Confused), Rachel Blanchard (TV’s Clueless), Mena Suvari (American Beauty) and Amy Irving (reprising her role as Sue Snell from Brian DePalma’s original Carrie), this fast-paced, white-knuckle revenge fantasy takes telekinesis to the next level of terror!

- NEW 2015 Audio Commentary with director Katt Shea and Director of Photography - Donald Morgan, moderated by filmmaker David DeCoteau
- Original 1999 Commentary with Katt Shea
- Alternate Ending with “before and after” special effect sequence
- Additional scenes not seen in theatres
- Theatrical Trailer


MOONTRAP (1989) 
Label: Olive Films
Region Code: A
Rated: R
Duration: 92 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Robert Dyke

Cast: Walter Koenig, Leigh Lombardi, Bruce Campbell
Tagline: For Fourteen Thousand Years... It Waited

A 1980s cult-movie phenomenon, Moontrap stars Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead) and Walter Koenig (Star Trek‘s original Chekov) as astronauts sent to the moon to investigate evidence of what appears to be signs of human life. They reanimate the body of a woman (Leigh Lombardi), who warns them that the moon is under the control of a race of alien cyborgs, which have been awaiting the opportunity to stage their invasion of Earth. The humans realize that desperate measures must be taken to halt the cyborgs’ departure from the moon — even if it ends in their own destruction.

MOONTRAP (1989) begins as you might expect - in outer space - with Mission commander Colonel Jason Grant (Walter Koenig, STAR TREK) and his co-pilot Ray Tanner (Bruce Campbell, EVIL DEAD) orbiting the Moon. Out there they encounter a derelict alien space craft orbiting the Earth. Grant slips into his space suit and boards the vessel where he finds the mummified remains of a humanoid alien and a strange red pod, both of which they bring return to their ship and to Earth for further examination. If you even have a cursory knowledge of these types of films you know that this is a bad idea, and nothing good can happen because of it. 

Back on Earth NASA carbon dates the corpse and figure that it is about fourteen thousand years old. It does not take long for things to turn South quickly when the pod turns out to be some sort of cybernetic weapon which creates a deadly cyborg using the mummified body and lab equipment. After a brief but fun assault the mechanized menace is stopped when it's head is blown off.  Afterward NASA deduces that the cybernetic menace is based on the moon send Grant and Tanner back to the Lunar surface to seek and destroy the enemy. Once on the moon they find a humanoid survivor at a moonbase, of course it's an attractive woman in a cryogenic chamber. Opening the chamber they awaken the woman, her name is Mera (Leigh Lombardi), She doesn't speak English but does at lest give a name to the mechanized baddies, the Kaalium. The Kaalium are planning to launch an invasion force to Earth and it's up to our trio to stop the cybernetic threat.

There are moon crater sized gaps in logic to contend with this one but I didn't find it too hard to enjoy for the goofy science fiction film that it is. The filmmakers are definitely fans of '50s sci-fi films and that seems to be the somewhat hokey direction they were aiming for with MOONTRAP and are largely successful. 

On the moon we get some great old school matte shots of the lunar landscape as the astronauts traverse the moon's surface riding around on an authentic looking lunar vehicle which was pretty cool. While there may be plenty of b-movie cheese peppered throughout the film I was pleased with how cool the lunar surface appeared, though that ever present blue tint does get annoying after awhile.  

Colonel Grant is played by none other than Walter Koenig, who played Russian navigator Ensign Chekov on the original Star Trek series. The guy must have jumped at the chance to finally be the captain of his own damn space ship after 25 years of saying "warp factor three, Captain". Unfortunately he has absolutely zero charm, so we should be thankful to have Bruce Campbell as the second in command, a man never short of charisma and wit, his character having what turns out to be the most memorable line of the movie "We don't take no shit from machines!".

The influence of Tobe Hooper's space vampire epic LIFEFORCE is felt heavily at the beginning of the film, when the astronauts happen up a derelict ship in space is a straight-up lift... I mean homage. But it would seem that this movie has had some minor influence of it's own on cinema. the idea of cybernetic menace is something we would see again with the movies VIRUS (1999) and SCREAMERS (1995). I can certainly appreciate are the use of practical special effects work used to create the cyborg menace, at times they can be a bit on the ropey side but are way more enjoyable than the shitty digital stuff you see on the Syfy Channel these days. 

MOONTRAP seems to be going for a retro science fiction aesthetic and conjures memories of craptacular monster movie matinees from the '50s, it's corny stuff, with one dimensional characters but with the addition of a very solid performance from Bruce Campbell and some awesome b-movie special effects... and some much appreciated nudity. 

MOONTRAP was remastered in HD by Olive Films specifically for this release, as a result we can now see this cult classic presented in the proper widescreen aspect ratio, which is awesome, unfortunately the image that's been digitally manipulated and scrubbed of clean of film grain, what's left of the image is plasticine and devoid of fine detail. Facial features are waxy and undefined as are clothing and landscape textures. Color saturation is decent, the rampant blues pop nicely, but the shadow detail is murky at best. Not the crisp HD image you have come to expect from Blu-ray, a very flat and undefined image. 

The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono is unremarkable and anemic -  the sound design just feels off, though I have little doubt that has everything to do with it's modest budget and audio original source elements. No subtitles are provided. 

- Interview with Bruce Campbell (21 Mins)
- Interview with Walter Koenig (33 Mins)
- Audio Commentary with director Robert Dyke and Screenwriter Tex Ragdsadle

Onto the extras we have several interviews and a commentary that appear to have been recorded in 2014. We begin with a pretty great audio commentary with director Robert Dyke and Screenwriter Tex Ragdsadle who offer up a tn of fun anecdotes about making the film and working with the cast. They go into some detail about how certain effects were achieved using miniatures and puppets, using cement mix to simulate moon dust and are very honest about their ambitious but low-budget endeavor, often filling in the blanks that don't quite come across through the film. 

The interviews with Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig total about 52 minutes total and cover some good stuff with Bruce offering some fun behind-the-scene anecdotes and speaking of his enjoyment making independent films, working with Koenig and his own fandom for the Star Trek series. Walter Koenig speaks about coming onto the film, his career and the love scene with Leigh Lombardi, plus working with director Robert Dyke and his own adolescent fantasies of being chained to a wall by a gorgeous woman, who knew!

MOONTRAP is an ambitious b-movie production that falls way short but manages to keep it fun and fast-paced with a blend of practical effects and goofy sci-fi action. A Blu-ray was long overdue for this title, I just wish it were a more satisfying transfer. If you can get past the poor AV presentation the bonus content is decent and movie is entertaining, cult-cinema fans and sci-fi schlock fans will definitely want to pick this up.