Tuesday, October 7, 2014

NEKROMANTIK (1987) Special Edition Blu-ray

NEKROMANTIC (1987) 

Label:
Cult Epics
Duration: 75 Minutes 

Rating: Unrated 
Region Code: A
Audio: German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p  Full Screen (1.33:1)
Director: Jørg Buttgereit 
Cast: Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice M.

Nekromantik is the story of a strange young man named Rob Schmadtke (Daktari Lorenz) whom is employed at Joe's Streetcleaning Agency, a service that cleans-up crime scenes. It's a grisly job but one that suits of Ron who is a necrophile. Rob collects various body parts from the accident and crime scenes and keeps them in specimen jars at his apartment where both he and his death-obsessed girlfriend Betty (Beatrice M.) can get-off on touching and stroking the gruesome body parts. 

As this morbid fascination becomes more intense Rob steals a gooey corpse freshly pulled from the swamps and brings it home to the perverse delight of his girlfriend. They immediately fashion a iron-cock from scrap piping and before you know it we are treated to a very macabre threesome as Betty licks, sucks and fucks the rotting, tight-skinned cadaver as Rob takes her from behind in a trippy and revolting sequence.

However, when Rob loses his job Betty dumps him and takes her corpse-lover with her. Dumped in favor of a corpse poor Rob further spirals into the maddening depths of misery. He attends a misogynist slasher movie at the cinema before procuring a prostitute to fuck at the graveyard. Seems thr grave stones aren't enough to excite Rob as he experiences a bit of erectile dysfunction but rises to the occasion once he strangles her to death. It sex just isn't the same without the element of death for the depraved necrophiliac.

Afterward he further descends into disparity back at his apartment, he stuffs his cat into a trash bag and smashes it repeatedly against the wall into a bloody pulp. Now the cat is a prop but let me say that animal lovers will take exception with this film just in case the necrophilia didn't scare you off. Additionally, there's an actual scene of what appears to be an actual rabbit being bled to death, skinned and gutted - so just be aware of that. 

Shot on Super 8 mm film in 1987 the film has a rough homemade quality about it that won't appeal to your average horror-fan, so pile that on top of scenes of necrophilia and the death of small animals and you have a film that just doesn't;'t have a lot of appeal to your average joe. The very first shot is of a woman urinating along the roadside just before her and a male companion are involved in a horrendous car accident that leaves the woman torn in half, it's in aftermath of this that we meet Rob during the crime- scene clean-up. 

There were quite a few repulsive scenes but one of the first to affect me was the repeated bare handed handling of a corpses which made me a bit nauseous. The gore effects are low-budget and grotesque. When the lovers of the dead start to lick and suck the eye-socket of the cadaver I had to put my damn beer down for a few minutes before it came back up on me. 

Aside from the licking of body parts and the corpse there a few other effective gore gags including a sweet decapitation scene with spewing blood at he graveyard when Rob is discovered next to the dead whore the next morning. Speaking of spewing we cannot overlook perhaps the most infamous scene in the film - SPOILER ALERT - when Rob completely distraught lies in bed and pulls out his erect cock and begins stabbing himself in the guts repeatedly as thick streams of cum start to spew and them torrents of blood straight from his cock. It's definitely a scene you won't soon be erased from your memory. 


Blu-ray: The brand-new HD transfer approved by the director straight from the original Super 8mm negative is not a pretty sight. It's a lo-fi film made for pennies over twenty-five years ago and it looks like it. It's soft, the contrast is poor, the darker scenes are at times impenetrable and there's no fine detail to be found anywhere. This was a first time watch for me on any format and I can only assume this is superior viewing experience but without having something to compare it to I can only say this was a disappointing Blu-ray experience. I didn't go in expecting crystal clarity and pores of the skin to be jumping off the screen but it was a very flat and dull presentation. 

There are two versions of the film - we have the 8mm HD transfer and one from a 35mm print which looked like it been around awhile. Honestly I preferred it to the 8mm - it's darker and the colors are more muted but the grain and print damage added a lot of character to the viewing. 

Audio is also flat and unremarkable, both the stereo and surround mixes. Recorded without audio the dialogue was later dubbed in which gives it a weird disconnected vibe which suits the nightmarish imagery quite nicely. 

Onto the extras we have audio commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and Co-Author Franz Rodenkirchen plus a making-of doc and a featurette for NEKROMANTIK. The making-of doc features a bunch of unused scenes, outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage.  Buttegreit's short film HOT LOVE (1985)  is included on this disc and has never before been released, there's also a short making-of doc for the short film. .


There's a Q+A with Buttgereit from Beyond Fest 2013wherein he discussed everything from making the film to German schizer porn. There's also a collection of JB trailers, a still photo gallery and the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is included as a bonus on the Blu-ray disc, which I would have appreciated more if it were a stand alone CD disc. This release is Limited Edition of 10,000 copies and includes Nekromantik collectible art cards by Johnny Ryan and Nekrophilia photo of Beatrice M. from the film. 

The PQ left me wanting a bit more but perhaps these are the best available elements currently so it is what it is. I think the selection of extras more than make up it. There's a lot to sift through here and it;s interesting to hear the director speak at length about legal troubles while fighting censorship plus we get the short film that preceded NEKROMANTIK with some very cool making-of extras with a wealth of behind-the-scenes material.  

Special Features:
- New Director’s Approved HD Transfer (taken from the original Super 8mm negative)
- New Grindhouse HD Version (taken from the theatrical 35mm print)
- Introduction by Jorg Buttgereit
- Q+A with Jorg Buttgereit at the American Cinematheque (2013)
- Never Before Released Short Film Hot Love (1985) (29 minutes)
- Audio Commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and Co-Author Franz Rodenkirchen
- The Making of Nekromantik (12 minutes)
- Nekromantik Featurette
- Still Photo Gallery (102 images)
- JB Trailers
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Verdict: A dark and vile piece of cinema that I won;t soon be revisiting - it's right up there with CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST as a film you should really never be in the mood to watch but instead feel compelled to endure from time to time. Glad I finally watched it though I'm not sure when I'll feel the compulsion to view it again. 

SCREAM FACTORY SHOCKTOBER ANNOUNCEMENTS!

SHOCKTOBER is underway with a sale this week and title announcements galore from Scream Factory. Some of their classic releases are available this month at very cheap prices. Each week check out the "Sales From the Crypt Six" and receive a FREE set of EXCLUSIVE Magnets when you order any of the titles in the week's listing. Can't wait to check out these magnets, loved the coasters during the SUMMER OF FEAR promo and I am looking forward to scoring a set of these little beauties.... 


Scream announced some very exciting new in regard to the much anticipated TALES FROM THE CRYPT / VAULT OF HORROR release in December....

When we found out that the Fox HD master we licensed was the theatrical cut, we went searching for an uncut film element. This was a challenge since the film is over 40 years old and somewhat obscure. At some point we started to accept that that we were going to have to splice DVD footage of the uncut footage (lifted from a prior UK release) into the theatrical cut to be able to present it uncut, as promise when we announced. We tried that and the results were not great. Still, we thought this was the best we were going to be able to get. 

Thankfully, there was rumor that the British Film Institute had done a restoration on the film years ago. We contacted them and, sure enough, BFI had done an HD transfer from a film print--and it was the UNCUT version! We quickly had a clone made of their master and then removed dirt and scratches from it to the best of our resources.

The release is now a 2-disc set. The first disc will include TALES and VAULT's uncut widescreen. The 2nd disc will include VAULT's theatrical cut (from the Fox master) and a rare open-matte version of the BFI master.

We thank you for your patience on the delay of this release and hope you will find that our presentation of these films will have been worth the wait!


Onto the new announcements we begin with the anthology film FROM A WHISPER TO SCREAM (1987)....

FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (1987) 

In Feb 2015, the 1987 anthology horror film FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (also known as THE OFFSPRING) will make its debut on the Blu-ray format.

Directed by Jeff Burr (The Stepfather 2, Pumpkinhead II, Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Puppetmaster 4 & 5), the film stars legendary king of horror Vincent Price, Clu Gulager (The Return of the Living Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2), Susan Tyrell (Angel, Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker) and Cameron Mitchell (Silent Scream, The Toolbox Murders).

Artwork you see here is final (and we will strive to make the reverse art as “The Offspring” – no promises at this time.) There are no details on extras at this time but they will be announced before the end of the year.


On Jan 13th, The sci-fi thriller SUPERNOVA makes its debut on the Blu-ray format. Check out the all-over-the-place cast of some well-known names and cult film favorites: James Spader (The Blacklist), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story) , Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Peter Facinelli (Twilight), Wilson Cruz (My So-Called Life) and Robin Tunney (The Craft).

In Feb, a blood-sucking double feature of guilty pleasures BLACULA and its sequel SCREAM, BLACULA SCREAM from the 70s will bare their fangs on blu-ray for the first time too in the U.S. and Canada. Both films star William Marshall as “Blacula” (and who also played “King of Cartoons” in Pee-wee’s Playhouse—out from Shout Factory on 10/21) and the legendary Pam Grier (Foxy Brown) is third-billed in SCREAM, BLACULA SCREAM.

Artwork you see here is final. There are no details on extras at this time but they will be announced before the end of the year. 


CLASS OF 1984 (1982) 

Next Spring we will unleash the vengeance-filled cult favorite CLASS OF 1984 as a “Collector’s Edition” for the first time on the Blu-ray format!

Although this is not a “horror film” in the true sense of the word we thought it was suitably violent, edgy and dark enough to warrant inclusion in the brand (Not to mention it has a strong following). The Director himself - Mark L. Lester - is very on board with this strategy as well. Those of you who love the film know what a gem it is and that it sports a great cast that includes Perry King (Mandingo, Riptide), Roddy McDowell (Fright Night, The Legend of Hell House), Lisa Langlois (Deadly Eyes, Happy Birthday to Me), Timothy Van Patten (The Sopranos) and even Michael J. Fox in an early role. 


LOVE AT FIRST BITE (1979) / ONCE BITTEN (1985) 

Good morning everyone. We start our month-long "Shocktober" celebration with a new title announcement (one of several this month). Actually, we have TWO films to reveal today that will be in a double-feature: The horror comedies LOVE AT FIRST BITE (with George Hamilton) and ONCE BITTEN (with Jim Carrey)! This is the first time on the Blu-ray format for both films and is expected to land near Valentine's Day 2015. No details on extras at this time.

Re: LOVE AT FIRST BITE - We are aware that prior DVD versions of the film were altered, specifically during a key moment in a disco in which the song "I Love the Nightlife" song (sung by Alicia Bridges) was replaced by another track. We are doing our best to correct this and will keep you posted on the progress. 


Okay, I must admit these SHOCKTOBER announcements are not the most thrilling titles I would have hoped for - there are so many wish list titles I would rather see represented here. Still waiting for THE PREY, MUTILATOR, MADMAN, WAXWORK 1/2 but what can you do? 

Kino Lorber Announces its Classic Horror Releases on Blu-ray and DVD in October

Kino Lorber Releases Five Sought-after Horror Classics on Blu-ray

B-Movie classic THE DEATH KISS, starring legendary horror icon Bela Lugosi, Mario Bava's PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, and modern horror classics THE FIRST POWERJENNIFER, and TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT all to become available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber in October. 
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 7, 2014 - Kino Lorber is proud to announce the Blu-ray releases of five horror classics in October, just in time for Halloween: THE FIRST POWER, starring Lou Diamond Phillips; the supernatural shocker JENNIFER, inspired by Carrie; the Christmastime slasher flick TO ALL A GOOD NIGHTPLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, by Italian horror maestro Mario Bava, and the 1932 B-movie classicTHE DEATH KISS, starring Bela Lugosi and re-uniting him with his Dracula co-stars David Manners and Edward Van Sloan, presented here in a stunning new HD restoration from archival materials by the Library of Congress.

THE FIRST POWER stars Lou Diamond Phillips as an LA detective on the trail of an immortal serial killer. This exciting thriller streets on Blu-ray and DVD October 7th, with a SRP of $29.95 for the Blu-ray and $19.95 or the DVD.

JENNIFER is a horrifying tale of a young girl possessed with evil powers, who uses her supernatural powers to seek revenge on her classmates who have made her life a living hell. This supernatural horror film, inspired by Brian DePalma's Carrie, streets on Blu-ray (SRP: $29.95) and DVD ($24.95) October 14th.

Also streeting on October 14th is THE DEATH KISS, which stars the legendary horror icon Bela Lugosi as the head of a Poverty Row movie studio who is faced with devastating scandal when one of his actors is found dead. Dracula co-star David Manners appears as the determined young writer who sets out to find the identity of the murderer in order to clear the name of a young actress under suspicion for the crime. This restored edition, mastered in HD from 35mm archival materials preserved by the Library of Congress, contains the original color sequences hand-tinted by Gustav Brock, and featured an audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith, making this edition a must for collectors and Lugosi fans!

TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT puts a horrific spin on the usual Christmas fare, as a group of schoolgirls, set on having a debaucherous Christmas Eve alone with their boyfriends, find themselves terrorized by a killer Santa spreading Christmas "fear", slashing one victim after the other as the bodies pile up. This terrifying slasher flick will street onOctober 21st with a SRP of $29.95 for the Blu-ray and $24.95 for the DVD.

And lastly, Mario Bava's PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, which finds a group of astronauts doing battle with a race of aliens who want to turn them into zombies. Directed with characteristic stylish flair by Bava, PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES will street on Blu-ray (SRP: $29.95) and DVD ($19.95) on October 28th.


THE FIRST POWERBlu-ray and DVD Street Date: October 7, 2014
Blu-ray SRP: $29.95
DVD SRP: $19.95
1990/Color/98 mins/PG

Director: Robert Resnikoff
Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Tracy Griffith, Jeff Kober, Mykelti Williamson, Elizabeth Arlen

Synopsis: How do you stop a killer with immortal powers? Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba) stars as a hotshot L.A. homicide detective caught in a harrowing game with a man who lives to kill - and cannot die - in this psychological thriller that transcends mortal terror! After a long, gruesome hunt. Detective Russell Logan (Phillips) finally captures the brutal Russell Logan (Phillips) finally captures the brutal Pentagram Killer (Jeff Kober), and watches as the murderer is executed at San Quentin. Finally, the terror is over... or is it? When the ritualistic killings begin again. Logan is haunted by violent visions of the executed man, and seeks the counsel of a beautiful psychic (Tracy Griffith). Together they discover that the Pentagram Killer, one of Satan's disciples, possesses the First Power - the ability to inhabit the bodies of others at will! Now Logan has to catch the killer again, not knowing where - or in whom - he'll show up next! Charged with bone-chilling suspense and otherworldly evil, The First Powerwill scare the devil out of you!


JENNIFERBlu-ray and DVD Street Date: October 14, 2014
Blu-ray SRP: $29.95
DVD SRP: $24.95
1978/Color/90 mins/PG

Director: Brice Mack
Starring: Lisa Pelikan, Bert Convy, Nina Foch, John Gavin, Jeff Corey

Newly Re-Mastered in HD

Synopsis: Lisa Pelikan (Ghoulies) unleashes the forces of hell in this supernatural thriller, inspired by Carrie. Jennifer is a shy, quiet country girl who wins a scholarship to the prestigious Green View School for girls, a dream come true. But the snobby girls at the school refuse to accept Jennifer and begin to torment her, hoping she'll leave. The humiliation becomes unbearable and Jennifer's growing anger and pain suddenly turn to a consuming desire for vengeance. Determined to repay those who degraded her, Jennifer releases the evil powers she had once fought to suppress. In a blinding fury of destruction, Jennifer evens the score. The strong supporting cast includes Bert Convy, Nina Foch, Jeff Corey and John Gavin.
THE DEATH KISS 
Blu-ray and DVD Street Date: October 14, 2014
Blu-ray SRP: $29.95
DVD SRP: $24.95
1932/B&W and Color/71 mins/NR

Director: Edwin L. Marin
Starring: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, Adrienne Ames

Synopsis: Reuniting three of the stars of Universal's Dracula (released the previous year), this low budget production was, on the surface, a blatant attempt to capitalize on the a major Hollywood hit. But THE DEATH KISS is anything but a cheap knock-off. A Pre-Code murder mystery that plays out on the soundstages, screening rooms, and dressing rooms of the fictitious Tonart Studios, the film offers modern viewers a precious glimpse at the workings of a Poverty Row Studio during the Great Depression. Bela Lugosi stars as the head of a struggling studio, who tries to contain a scandal after an actor is killed during the making of a film. While the police investigate the deepening mysteries within the studio, a quick-witted screenwriter (David Manners) decides to solve the crime himself, in order to clear the picture's leading lady (Adrienne Ames) from suspicion.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
Mastered in HD from 35mm elements preserved by the Library of Congress
Includes original color sequences hand-tinted by Gustav Brock
Audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith


TO ALL A GOOD NIGHTBlu-ray and DVD Street Date: October 21, 2014
Blu-ray SRP: $29.95
DVD SRP: $24.95
1980/Color/90mins/R

Director: David Hess
Starring: Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Linda Gentile, William Lauer, Judith Bridges

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, Santa Claus is stirring, and he's not bringing gifts.  Five young female boarders at the Calvin Finishing School have set their sights on a festive Christmas holiday romp.  They have just drugged their housemother and smuggled their boyfriends into the house. But their fun-filled promiscuous frolic will soon turn into a blood-soaked nightmare when a sadistic maniac dressed as Santa Claus arrives to deliver some holiday cheer, or maybe that's FEAR.   The insane Santa Claus starts slashing his way through the house, and the gory body count begins.  So you better watch out, as this Santa knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!   Jennifer Runyon (in her film debut) stars in this 1980 slasher cult-horror favorite, directed by David Hess (Krug in Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) and written and prodcued by Alex Rebar (THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN).  Now see it in glorious HD for the first time ever. 
PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES 
Blu-ray and DVD Street Date:October 28, 2014
Blu-ray SRP: $29.95
DVD SRP: $19.95
1980/Color/86 mins/NR

Director: Mario Bava
Starring: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Angel Aranda, Evi Marandi, Stelio Candelli

Synopsis: A Close Encounter Of The Undead Kind! Get sucked into a chilling black hole of cosmic creepiness when an evil alien race zeroes in on a crew of unsuspecting astronauts, turning them into zonked-out zombies! Packed with space-age suspense and extraterrestrial terror, this eerily photographed and electrifying thriller drips with an intoxicating, feverish atmosphere of dread. A band of space travelers has just intercepted a distress call from a distant world! Is it a desperate cry for help... or something far more sinister? After landing on the shadowy planet, the crew is attacked by a horde of disembodied aliens with a diabolical plan: to conquer the universe by controlling the crew's minds and stealing their souls-proving that even in outer space, possession is 9/10 of the law! Directed by horror legend Mario Bava (Black SundayBlack Sabbath).

COMPANEROS (1970)

COMPANEROS (1970)
Label: Blue Underground
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Region Code: Refion FREE
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 115 Mins. / Italian: 119 Mins.
Audio: English and Italian DTS-HD Mono with Optional English SDH, French, Spanish, English Subtitles for Italian Version
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Sergio Corbucci
Cast: Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, Fernando Rey, Karin Schubert, Jack Palance

SYNOPSIS: 

Yodlaf Peterson (Franco Nero of DJANGO) is a suave Swedish arms dealer with a love for fast money. Vasco (Tomas Milian of TRAFFIC) is a trigger-happy Mexican bandit with a hate for suave Swedish arms dealers. But when the two men team up to kidnap a professor who holds the key to a fortune in gold, they find themselves hunted by the American army, stalked by a marijuana-crazed sadist (Academy Award winner Jack Palance) and trapped in the middle of a revolution about to explode. Can these two enemies blast their way across Mexico together without killing each other first?

THE FILM: 

Here we have another Zapata Western of the Italian persuasion from director Sergio Corbucci (DJANGO) set during the Mexican revolution. The film Western legends Franco Nero (DJANGO) and Tomas Milan (DJANGO KILL). Milan portrays a Mexican bandit El Vasco who wears a beret which gives home a certain Che Guevara flavor. Vasco's not the sharpest tool in the shed which makes him useful to the self appointed rebel leader General Mongo (José Bódalo) who sends him into battle. The red-coated Mongo is more interested in personal gain than the revolution so it's always handy to have a few good disposable men at your disposal and Vasco fits the bill.

When a dapper Swedish arms dealer Yodlaf (Nero) arrives on scene to sell weapons to Mongo we discover that his payment is locked away in the impenetrable town vault and only the counter revolutionary leader Professor Xantos (Frenando Rey) knows the combination. He's currently imprisoned at an American Army base on the other side of the border and Vasco and Yodlaf must team-up to free te non-violent revolutionary. 

What makes the film here is the adversarial buddy-relationship between the slow-witted Vasco and the blue-eyed Swede, which is also very much what made THE BIG GUNDOWN such a fun watch which also starred Milan as the rough and tumble Mexican. As a Zapata Western there's certainly some political leanings to the film but for me the humor and camaraderie are what pulled me in and pushed me through - this is a wonderful watch and comedy tends to be painted in broad strokes. Milan is very much the straight man - a dapper stranger in a strange land who plays the opposition against each other to his benefit. Milan is sort of a low-life who cannot stand the well-dressed foreigner he has been assigned to. He mockingly refers to the well-dressed Swede as a "penguin" and the two double-cross and trade barbs with each other.

A particularly fun scene has Penguin at the wrong end of a noose balanced precariously on top of a barrel. Having just been betrayed by the Swede Vasco takes his sweet time freeing the arm dealer and with no small amount of taunting before doing so, these two are dynamite together - even more so than Milan's teaming with Lee Van Cleef (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK) in THE BIG GUNDOWN

The performances are captivating and the chemistry of the two actors is undeniable - it's a damn shame this was they're only team-up onscreen. Also making a memorable appearance is Jack Palance as a weed-smoking mercenary with a vendetta against the Swede. He's a colorful character with a wooden hand and a pet hawk named Marshall (or Matilda in the English version), the back story is a fun one, he plays it cool but there's that Palance menace just beneath that nightmarish grin. Fernando Rey as the non-violent counter-rebel leader gives the film quite a bit of soul it wouldn't have had otherwise. 

There's a lot of nice character touches throughout that just add to the film in small ways beginning with the question of why the Swede gave Vasco a dollar upon meeting him - the question nags at the Mexican throughout the film. Another weird touch is professor Xantos discovering the younglings of a rare species of turtle which he carries with him, at the end of the day neither are significant to the story but help paint are more colorful image including references to DJANGO with someone dragging a coffin from a graveyard and the machine gun making an appearance. 

A fun film from start to finish but the film does strike a nice balance with the violence we've come to expect from the sub-genre with some excellent exchanges of gunfire, violence, bridges blowing up, hangings and bursts brute force but it never once loses the comedic edge. 

The visuals are top-notch and the cinematography is excellent, the sweaty Western visuals are framed nicely, just on a visual level this is a knockout. Adding immensely to the film is another stand-out score for Ennio Morricone (THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY) that stays with you long after the movie ends. 

BLU-RAY: 
COMPANEROS (1970) arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground with a brand-new transfer sourced from the original negative. Colors are uniformly strong and vibrant with black levels and shadow detail scoring high marks - this is a great looking disc with some nice clarity and moments of fine detail in the close-up shots.  There are two versions of the film on the disc, a 115 minute English version and the 119 minute Italian version which adds a few additional scenes including the "death to the oppressors" opening scene.

Audio options include an English DTS-HD Mono track for the English version and both DTS-HD Mono Italian and English for the extended Italian version with Optional English subtitles for both.

Onto the extras we have the 17 minute featurette from the 2001 Anchor Bay disc presented in standard-def. Nero speaks about his preference to play foreigners and to use his own voice in his Westerns while Milan address the fact that he could be a very difficult actor to work with and using his beret in the film as a prop to enhance his character. Both stars speak about their somewhat adversarial relationship during filming. They also recall working with the the imposing Jack Palance and director Sergio Corbucci with Nero glossing over his falling out with Corbucci with whom he did not collaborate with again following this film. 

There's a new audio commentary from Journalists C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke who have also done commentaries for THE GRAND DUEL (1972) and THE BIG GUNDOWN (1967). It's quite a good listen as the two are deeply versed in the genre and add a lot of insights into the cast, context and making of the film. 

Extras are finished up with a selection of stills, TV spots and trailers including an electrifying Italian trailer comprised of still shots and animation. 

SPECIAL FEATURES
- Audio Commentary with Journalists C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke
- In The Company Of Companeros - Interviews with Stars Franco Nero, Tomas Milian and Composer Ennio Morricone (17 minutes)
- International Trailer (1 minute)
- Italian Trailer (1 minute)
-Poster and Still Gallery (31 Images)


VERDICT:
Not as excessively violent as Sergio Corbucci's classic Spaghetti Western DJANGO (1966) but  just as enjoyable on another level. A top notch Italian Western infused with a fun buddy movie chemistry from Milan and Nero and some effective bursts of violence that punctuate the film. Blue Underground have done a fantastic job with the transfer and there's a decent set of extras, any fan of Spaghetti Westerns and the Zapata sub-genre in particular should jump on this without reservation.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

David Cronenberg's SHIVERS makes Worldwide Blu-ray Debut from ARROW VIDEO 10/13

David Cronenberg's SHIVERS will be available on Blu-ray from Arrow Video on October 13th! This will mark the HD debut of the film anywhere in the world and is loaded with extras and available on Blu-ray or as BD/DVD SteelBook edition! 



BEING TERRIFIED IS JUST THE BEGINNING…
ON BLU-RAY AND DVD/BD STEELBOOK – OCTOBER 13TH

**GLOBAL BLU-RAY PREMIERE **

THEY CAME FROM WITHIN


At its most obvious level — the raw, startling and shocking imagery — [Shivers] has never been bettered, not even by the director. It is at this level of outrageous imagery that the film first assaults any viewer. One experiences a tremulous sensation that suggests one might have witnessed the end of the unconscious. There it seems to be, thrown up on the screen in all its truly perverse and initially repulsive splendour, unmasked and unashamed. Shivers was beyond one’s worse fears of repressed forces, desires and twisted sexual fantasies. It was then, and remains, an unforgettable experience. It inevitably opened the floodgates of disgust and outrage — purely at the image level.  - Cronenberg on Cronenberg, first published in 1992 by Faber and Faber Limited

Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the release of David Cronenberg’s debut 1975 feature Shivers, one of the most controversial and ground-breaking horror films ever to escape from the wilds of Canada. Drawing influences from works as diverse as Night of the Living Dead (1968), J.G. Ballard’s novel High-Rise (1975) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Shivers will be available on BD/DVD and as an exclusive Blu-ray Steelbook from 13th October. The film follows the chilling story of a modern apartment complex overrun by a sexually transmitted parasite that insidiously spreads throughout the building’s population, turning the tenants into sex-obsessed zombie-like killers.

Informed in part by Canada’s historical medical tragedies, Cronenberg’s feature length debut explores the same kind of abstract concerns as in his early productions Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970), but with a more traditional and focused narrative horror framework. Shivers’ clever combination of taboo-busting sex, medical terror and squishy creature effects introduces novel twists on the usual depiction of doctors and disease that the novice writer-director would return to as he evolved into one of the 1980s’ most original and provocative horror auteurs.

This new release which boasts a new High Definition Digital Transfer supervised and approved by writer-director David Cronenberg will include a host of exciting features including a brand new documentary, Parasite Memories which features interviews with stars Barbara Steele, Allan Kolman and Lynn Lowry, special effects genius Joe Blasco and film critic Kier-La Janisse.

Other extras include On Screen! an original episode of the Canadian television programme which documents the release history of Shivers, featuring interviews with Cronenberg, producer Ivan Reitman, as well as other cast and crew.

Alongside this, the disc will also include a specially-commissioned video essay; From Stereo to Video by Caelum Vatnsdal, author of They Came from Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema, charting Cronenberg’s career from his experimental beginnings through to Videodrome, his first major studio picture.

The reversible sleeve features original artwork and a newly commissioned cover art by Nat Marsh. The collector’s booklet features new writing on the film by Paul Corupe, creator of the Canuxploitation website, reprinted excerpts of Cronenberg on Cronenberg and more, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Synopsis
Initially reviled in its native land (some critics took exception to the fact the film was largely funded by the Canadian taxpayer), Shivers is an intensely claustrophobic, subversive masterpiece and an essential entry in the oeuvre of one of the horror genre’s most gifted auteurs. Some 40 years after its release, it still retains its power to shock.

Starliner Island is an idyllic community. Cut off from the rest of the world, the luxury apartment block affords its occupants the chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. But this isolation is to prove fatal when a new breed of parasite – a combination of aphrodisiac and venereal disease which arouses sexual aggression in its hosts – is let loose in the building, resulting in an orgy terror and mayhem.

Known under a host of alternate titles such as The Parasite Murders and They Came From Within!, Shivers is the startling debut full-length feature from director David Cronenberg which anticipates the body-horror concerns of his later films such as The Fly and Videodrome.

Special Features
· New High Definition Digital Transfer supervised and approved by writer-director David Cronenberg
· High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
· Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
· Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
· Parasite Memories: The Making of Shivers – A brand new documentary featuring interviews with stars Barbara Steele, Allan Kolman and Lynn Lowry, special effects genius Joe Blasco and film critic Kier-La Janisse
· On Screen! – An episode of the Canadian television programme which documents the release history of Shivers, featuring interviews with Cronenberg, co-producer Don Carmody, as well as other cast and crew
· From Stereo to Video – A specially-commissioned video essay by Caelum Vatnsdal, author of They Came from Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema, charting Cronenberg’s career from his experimental beginnings through to Videodrome, his first major studio picture
· Original Theatrical Trailer
· Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nat Marsh
· Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Paul Corupe, creator of the Canuxploitation website, reprinted excerpts of Cronenberg on Cronenberg and more, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Specs
Release Date: Monday October 13th 2014
Certificate: 18
Language: English (English SDH Subtitles)
Running Time: 88 minutes
Region: B/2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: 1.0 Mono






Monday, September 29, 2014

THE SQUAD (2011)

THE SQUAD (2011)
AKA EL PARAMO
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 100 Minutes
Audio: Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2:35:1) 
Director: Jaime Osorio Marquez
Cast: Juan David Restrepo, Juan Pablo Barragán, Mauricio Navas, Alejandro Aguilar, Andrés Castañeda


Synopsis: All contact with a military base high in the desolate wastelands of Colombia has been lost. The authorities – believing the base to have fallen to a terrorist attack – send a nine-man squad to investigate. When they arrive, the men discover a shocking scene of carnage and only one survivor: a mute woman in chains. Gradually the isolation, the inability to communicate with the outside world and the impossibility of escape begin to undermine the sanity of the soldiers. They start to question the identity of their enemy and the true nature of the strange, silent woman. Is she a terrorist? A victim? Or something more sinister? Something supernatural? Paranoia takes root. Prisoners of fear and the terrible secret they share, the men abandon their humanity and turn savagely on one another.

This claustrophobic thriller from first-time director Jaime Osorio Marquez throws us right into a tense set-up as a group of nine Colombian soldiers are dispatched to a military outpost after communications have been cut-off. Operating under the theory that a group of guerrilla soldiers may have taken the base by force they arrive on foot only to discover a scene much more eerie, the base is completely empty with the exception of a few corpses.  There are no immediate signs of soldiers stationed at the outpost or of the suspected rebel fighters. 


The walls of the outpost are blood-spattered as if something awful has happened but are precious few clues as odd are the chicken feet dangling from the ceiling on strings and strange incantations written on the wall designed to ward off evil. It just so happens that behind one of these walls the soldiers uncover a feral woman sealed-up inside, she's alive but unable or unwilling to speak - she just screams a lot and makes the men uncomfortable. . 

The nine-man squad from the get-go are a bundle of nerves and the dynamic between each are strained, the situation only worsens after the discovery of the woman and the longer they remain on the mountain the more the soldiers succumb to distrust, paranoia and violence towards each other - could this witchy woman be the cause? 

The location of the base is quite effective, a secluded mountain top communications base shrouded in a dense layer of wispy fog, it adds quite a bit of character to the film when exterior shots are used, I only wish they had made more use of it. The color scheme is a bit drab and the characters sort of run into each other as they are in uniform and dirt-covered - it took me a while to differentiate between them all.  It's a taught slow-burn but I must admit that the pay-off left me less than satisfied, there's very little story arc to the film and by the end you realize just how little how transpired for the duration of the film and that was problematic for me. It has some truly creepy moments but is lacking the visceral punch it needed to make the slow-burn pay off. 

I give the cast a lot of credit for these are solid performances through and through, a mix of aggressive machismo and soldier camaraderie peppered with anxiety and edginess. Technically the film is very tight and well crafted but the journey left me wanting more as the film did not deliver on on the slow-burn that builds to more of a fizzle. A lot of promise onscreen but just not a film I can see myself watching again anytime soon. 

The Blu-ray from Scream Factory offers up a solid HD 
transfer with a strong Spanish language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles. Extras include a 20-minute Spanish language making-of featurette and a trailer for the film. 

THE SQUAD (2011) didn't quite do it for me but I do appreciate when Scream branch off from the eighties horror and cult-classics with a contemporary foreign import or made-for-TV production from time to time. They've had winners with Larry Fessenden's creature feature BENEATH (2013) and the COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES (2012). This one's a decent one and done that won't leave you sour but probably won't have you running back for a second helping. . 

THE BABADOOK Trailer Debut

IFC Midnight Presents
THE BABADOOK

Opening in theaters and VOD November 28th

Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6 year-old, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both.


When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook’ turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control, he becomes more unpredictable and violent. Amelia, genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour, is forced to medicate him.

But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.