Monday, February 19, 2018

TRICK OR TREAT (1986) (Team Blu Blu-ray Review)

TRICK OR TREAT (1986) 
The Ultimate Comeback Edition 

Label: Team Blu
Region Code: Region Free
Rating: R
Duration: 97 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Surround 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (No Subtitles) 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director:  Charles Martin Smith
Cast: Marc Price, Tony Fields, Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne, Leslie Graham, Glen Morgan, Elaine Joyce, Doug Savant 

Trick Or Treat (1986) is gonna be one of those reviews wrapped ina nice warm layer of teen-nostalgia, I'm a rocker from way back and in the mid 80's I was a teen coming of age. I first saw this one at a party at a classmates house, if I am not mistaken it was my first teenage, no-parents, drinkin' beers and have fun sort of get together. I don't remember much about the party other than I watched this entire movie laying on the floor in the living room, the girl hosting the party got really upset and ran crying into the nearby woods, and someone was annoyingly dropping Skittles into my can of Old Milwaukee and it started foaming over - that's literally all I remember about the party, and that's enough, because I love this friggin' movie and it's about time someone made it available on Blu-ray in the U.S..  

In Trick Or Treat we have a teenage metal head named Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price, Skippy from fucking Family Ties!), he's a bit of a loner and is completely devastated when he find out his shock-rocker hero Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) has died in a mysterious hotel fire - you know he is because he goes into his room and tears down nearly all his metal posters in a anger-spree! Sammi Curr was a hometown kid made good, having attended the same school as Eddie years earlier, Lakeridge High School. 

Sad Eddie heads to the local radio station to seek comfort from his friend, a rock DJ named Nuke, played by Gene Simmons of rockers Kiss, who gives the teen Curr's last, and as of yet unreleased, final album, giving him the only existing copy, an test pressing. With this exclusive slice of vinyl in his hands he runs home and gives it a spin, accidentally discovering a series of backwards messages hidden in the grooves, the message seem to be aimed at specifically at him, sort of helping him get his revenge on a group testosterone fueled bullies at school who harass him on the regular. The bullies are lead by typical 80's asshole (sort of a James Spader-lite type) named Tim (Doug Savant, Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence)

Under the apparently demonic influence of Curr from beyond the grave Eddie begins to change for the worse, becoming a bit of a mean-spirited asshole bimself, almost killing douche-nozzle Tim in metal shop, realizing the evil-influence Eddie tries to separate himself from the evil record but the rocker manifests himself one night in Eddie' room, appearing in a zap of electricity like he's Horace Pinker from Wes Craven's Shocker (1989). The movie culminates with  the evil-rocker appearing at the school's Halloween concert at his high school Alma mater with the kids believing it's part of some weird  Sammi Curr tribute show, and Eddie trying to stop it before he kills everyone.

I have always loved heavy metal horror and this is one of my favorites, the directorial debut of actor Charles Martin Smith (American Graffiti, The Untouchables) and written by writers Glen Morgan (who plays Eddie's best friend in the movie) and James Wong who went onto work on the X-Files and the Final Destination series, the movie is chock full of 80's cheese but in a really enjoyable way. I don't know who thought to cast Skippy from TV's Family Ties as a teen rocker but they're geniuses, back in the day I thought it was odd, having remembered him a Skippy from Family Ties, but that's all part of the charm, his dweebiness is something I could relate to as I was a bit of high school outsider myself, it's good casting if you want a misfit. 

The cheese factor is strong with this one, but the gore is seriously lacking with hardly any blood of any kind, there's some gooey horror with a teen girl being molested by a demon while listening to a cassette tape of Curr's music, a scene thagt also offering some appreciated nudity, so that's appreciated, but if they had managed to squeeze some more gore it  would have pushed it to the next level. What it lacks in gore in makes up for in ridiculous fun, such as a montage of the bullies chasing Eddie through the school, tripping them up with mop buckets and chairs, sending one flying into stairwell at full speed, and causing bully Tim to burst into the teacher's lounge and spray the teachers with a fire extinguisher, fun 80's stuff like that always brings a smile to my face.  

As heavy metal horror goes this is near the top of the mark for me, it could have been bloodier and more gruesome but it's a lot of fun, the pace is brisk, and the soundtrack featuring hard rockers Fastway is still a great listen.  

Audio/Video: Trick or Treat  (1986) arrives on Blu-ray from artisan MOD label Team Blu in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1) with an AVC encode. This marks the first time I've ever seen the film in widescreen, all previous U.S. releases have been fullscreen. There's grain present but it's not too finely resolved, but the image is not the most crisp and detailed HD you will ever see but it's better than anything I've seen on home video before. The source looks decent, though there's dirt, debris, and white speckling throughout. Skin tones look a bit mottled and red/brown at times, obviously this is not a fresh scan of the original camera negative and lacks the clarity and fine detail that would bring tot he front, but again this is the best I've seen the film look. I have not seen the German and Australian Blu-rays that are out there to compare, though I've heard some unflattering reviews of both. 

The audio on the disc includes two options, we have a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, while I have no info about how it was created it does offer a fullness to the presentation, though I still preferred the Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mix  which was likely sourced from the 2003 Platinum Disc Corporation DVD. The lossy audio sounded just fine to me, no issues whatsoever, and while I would have preferred a lossless option I've heard the foreign releases have serious audio issues - which is why I put off purchasing one. 

In regard to this being a boutique/artisan/custom release, here's what Team Blu have posted on their eBay site about this 
release: This is an out of print or a previously unavailable on Blu-Ray title that has been manufactured "On Demand" by our group that has the rights from the studio to release our custom set using Recordable, not Pressed, media. This does not make it a bootleg. All of our releases are licensed as On Demand titles. "On Demand" is how movies of this type are made available other than a digital file or streaming. The quality is a True HD restoration of the film in question, performed by our team, along with as many bonus features as could be included. 

Let's have a look at the extras on the disc,  we get a vintage EPK featurette that runs about five minutes, this includes behind-the-scenes footage, clips from the film, brief interviews clips with director Charles Martin Smith, actor Tony Fields who plays rocker Sammi Curr, producers Michael S. Murphy and Joel Soisson, plus both Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons speaking about acting in films. 

Also included is the complete Fastway - Trick or Treat (1986) soundtrack album,  if you're not familiar with Fastway they were comprised of "Fast" Eddie Clarke of Motörhead, Pete Way of UFO, and Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie, plus vocalist David King who went onto to sing with Irish rocker Flogging Molly. The soundtrack is presented in a potent DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo mix, it sounds great with some nice separation in the mix, great fidelity. You can play the song separately or hit the play all option and sit back and enjoy the tunes, it's a great 80's hard rock album. On the same menu is the option to watch four of the songs as videos versions,  one is an official Fastway video, plus a live version of "Heft" with a what I believe is a different singer from a later incarnation of the band, plus a performance as seen in the movie of "Trick or Treat" and a clip of "Get Tough" that plays along with clips from the film. 

There's also a  fullscreen trailer and TV spot for the film, both of which look like they're from a VHS. The single-disc BD-R release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a one-sided custom sleeve, which is printed on heavy card stock, non-glossy paper. The disc itself also features artwork printed on the diss. There is a start-up menu with options for scene selections, extras, and set-up, the set-up option let's you choose between Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 and Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. 

Special Features: 
- Behind The Scenes (5 min) SD
- Trick or Treat The Album by Fastway: 1. Trick or Treat(2:47) 2. After Midnight(3:39) 3. Don't Stop the Fight (4:21) 4. Stand Up (4:04) 5. Tear Down the Walls (2:07) 6. Get Tough (3:30) 7. Hold on to the Night" (3:22)  8. Heft (Live Performance)(5:19) 9. If You Could See" (4:34) (English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0) 
- Music Video: 1. Trick Or Treat (4:52) 2. After Midnight (Official Video) (3:55) 3. Don't Stop the Fight (4:21) 4. Heft (Live Performance)(5:55)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) SD 
- TV Spot (30 sec) SD

I'm not very objective when discussing Trick Or Treat (1986), it's one of my favorite slices of 80's heavy metal horror, and while my love is laced with teen nostalgia I do think it will still appeal to fans of 80's horror, particularly those who love 80's hard rock. The lack of gore definitely detracts from it but it's hard not to enjoy this cheese 80's teen devil-music movie, it's just fun stuff. Highly recommended to fans of stuff like Evil Speak, The Gate and Idle Hands. This release can be purchased from Team Blu on eBay HERE

Severin Films Presents THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME (1979) - the infamous Franco rarity now uncut & uncensored in HD for the first time ever!

THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME  (1979)

Label: Severin Films
Release Date: April 3rd 2018 
Duration: 99 Minutes
Rating: Unrated 
Region Code: Region Free
Video: 1080p HD Wide Screen (1.66:1)
Audio: English and Spanish Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Olivier Mathot, Pierre Taylou

Synopsis: In 1979, legendary writer/director Jess Franco (VAMPYROS LESBOS) re-purposed elements of his satanic sex shocker EXORCISM with all-new footage to create a depraved new epic that - even by Uncle Jess standards - achieves new levels of EuroSleaze insanity: Franco himself stars a defrocked priest turned hooker-slashing psychopath, prowling the streets of Paris in a fever of violence, voyeurism, rampant nudity and S&M depravity. Olivier Mathot (TWO FEMALE SPIES WITH FLOWERED PANTIES), Pierre Taylou (HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA), Antonio DeCabo (VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD) and Jess' beloved muse Lina Romay (MACUMBA SEXUAL, MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD) co-star in what Franco considered to be his most personal film of all, now scanned in 4k from elements discovered in the crawlspace of a Montparnasse nunnery.

Special Features:
- The Gory Days of Le Brady - Documentary short on the legendary Parisian horror cinema.
- Stephen Thrower on Sadist of Notre Dame - Interview with the author of "Murderous Passions - The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco."
- Selected Scenes Commentary with "I'm In a Jess Franco State of Mind" Webmaster Robert Monell.
Treblemakers - Interview with Alain Petit, author of "Jess Franco Ou Les Prosperites Des Bis."


Severin Films Presents SINFONIA EROTICA - The lost masterpiece from Jess Franco & the Marquis de Sade now in HD for the first time ever!

SINFONIA EROTICA (1980)

Label: Severin Films
Release Date: April 3rd 2019
Duration: 84 Minutes
Region Code: Region-FREE
Video: 1080p HD  Screen (1.66:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Susan Hemingway, Armando Borges

Synopsis: At the close of the '70s, eminent auteur Jess Franco (SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY) revisited the works of Marquis de Sade to create what EuroSleaze historians have called one of the most sexually daring and boldly creative films of his entire career: When an unstable noblewoman (a fearless performance by Lina Romay) returns to her lavish estate, she will find herself - along with her libertine husband, his male lover, and a young nun with a craving for violation - trapped in a web of unholy hungers and decadent perversions. Susan Hemingway of TWO FEMALE SPIES WITH FLOWERED PANTIES co-stars in this sonata of artsy depravity - featuring a score by Franco & Franz Liszt - now transferred in 4k from an uncut 35mm print donated by The Instituto de la Sexualidad Humana in Madrid.

Special Features:
- Jess Franco on First Wife Nicole Guettard - Interview with Director Jess Franco.
-  Stephen Thrower on Sinfonia Erotica - Interview with the author of "Murderous Passions - The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco."



Saturday, February 17, 2018

VISITORS (2003) (Umbrella DVD Review)

VISITORS (2003) 

Label: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Code: 4 PAL
Rating: MA 15+

Duration: 86 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Richard Franklin
Cast: Radha Mitchell, Ray Barret, Susannah York

Director Richard Franklin (Psycho II) directed this ocean bound psychological thriller about a headstrong yet troubled young woman named Georgia Perry (Radha Mitchell, Rogue) whom is set solo circumnavigating the world in a thirty-eight foot sailboat. Her fiance Luke (Dominic Purcell, the CW's Legends of Tomorrow) secures a corporate sponsorship from Monée Cosmetics to fund the venture, but executive Casey (Tottie Goldsmith) has a condition that stipulates she change the name of the sailboat to Monée, which irks Georgia, beleieving that changing the name of a vessel is bad luck, but the name change turns out to be the least of her concerns on this possibly doomed sea voyage. 

It turns out that Georgia is a deeply conflicted person, having committed her mentally-ill mother to a home where she killed herself by slitting her wrists, and now her father has fallen ill, and she blames herself for a crippling accident that took the use of his legs years earlier.  While at sea she's caught up in a dead calm with no wind to propel her vessel, stranding her amidst a deep fog bank, where she is visited by her numerous inner demons in the forms of phantoms or psychological manifestations, these range from her loving father to her suicidal mother, menacing sea pirates, oceanic arachnids, and phantoms of annoying relatives, some of whom seem to be pushing for her to kill herself. Her wicked mother is played by a terrific Susan York (Superman), she proves to be her apex inner-demon, the one that seems to rule them all, with her maniacal grin and manic performance York was my favorite facet of this thriller.

The movie never really makes a case for whether the visitors are psychological or supernatural in nature, I think that ambiguity would have heightened the suspense, as it is it's just watching how Georgia resolves the inner-demons, and while I did enjoy the way a few of the phantom mysteriously come and go and how they taunt our protagonist the ending was quite underwhelming and wholly unsatisfying. 

Special Features: 
- Photo galleries (20 images) 
- Theatrical trailer (2 min) 
- Cast and crew biographies

I'm a bit saddened that the film didn't appeal to me more, director Richard Franklin made two ozploitation classic, the psycho-coma-thriller Patrick (1978) and Road Games (1981), going onto direct the surprisingly terrific Psycho II (1983) and then onto one of my personal favorite kiddie-films, Cloak and Dagger (1984), before sort of drifting away into TV directing, but he made some great movies along the way. Franklin's a director I feel should have went onto a more storied career, but as it is he had about a six year window of interesting stuff that I personally treasure, which is more than some. However, this lukewarm psychodrama doesn't do much for me, Radha Mitchell does what she can with the material, struggling with her inner demons and talking to her house cat who speaks back to her makes for a somewhat interesting watch, but the story just isn't there, at least not onscreen. Notably, the script was written by someone with his own impressive Ozploitation pedigree, Everette De Roche also wrote scripts for Long Weekend (1978), Harlequin (1980) and Razorback (1984), in addition to Road Games and Patrick, which were directed by Franklin, though unfortunately this re-teaming did not add up to success, proving to be Franklin's final project before his death.  

Black Eagle (2-Disc Special Edition) from MVD Rewind on February 27th

BLACK EAGLE (1988)
2-Disc Special Edition

Label: MVD Rewind Collection
Duration: 94 Minutes
Audio: English Stereo 2.0
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: 2.0 Stereo, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Director: Eric Karson
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sho Kosugi, Ken Tani, Doran Clark, Bruce French, William Bassett 

MVD Entertainment Group is proud to announce MVD Rewind Collection #3 BLACK EAGLE in a two- disc Blu-ray/DVD Special Edition combo pack coming February 27th, 2018.

A video store staple back in the 1980's features action film star Jean-Claude Van Damme (Bloodsport, Kickboxer) going head to head with martial arts legend Sho Kosugi (Enter the Ninja, Pray for Death)!

Synopsis: : After an F-11 gets shot down over the Mediterranean Sea, The U.S. government cannot afford to lose the top-secret laser tracking device that was on board. But unfortunately, the KGB team lead by the infamous Andrei (Jean-Claude Van Damme, The Expendables 2, Universal Soldier) are beating the CIA in the race to find it. The CIA has no choice but to call in their best man, master martial-artist Ken Tani (Sho Kosugi, Ninja Assassin, Revenge of the Ninja), code name... BLACK EAGLE. In response, the KGB resorts to an all-out war, with powerful Andrei matching Ken blow for blow. From legendary action director Eric Karson (The Octagon), Black Eagle also stars Doran Clark (The Warriors), Bruce French (Jurassic Park III) and William Bassett (House of 1000 Corpses).

MVD Rewind Collection's release of BLACK EAGLE is the definitive edition of this 80's action classic that includes two versions of the film and over two hours of additional material including deleted scenes and all-new interviews produced exclusively for this release.

Pre-order now at MVDshop.com

Special Features: 
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the main feature.
- Original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and Dolby Digital 5.1.
- Includes 93 minute theatrical version + 104 minute uncut extended version of the film.
- Sho Kosugi: Martial Arts Legend (HD, 21:26) (featuring new interviews with Sho Kosugi and Shane Kosugi and more) MVD Rewind EXCLUSIVE!
- The Making of BLACK EAGLE (HD, 35:50)(featuring new interviews with Director / Producer Eric Karson, Screenwriter Michael Gonzalez and stars Sho Kosugi, Doran Clark, Shane Kosugi and Dorota Puzio) MVD Rewind EXCLUSIVE!
-mTales of Jean-Claude Van Damme (HD, 19:20) (Brand new interviews with cast and crew tell stories about working with the legendary action star) MVD Rewind EXCLUSIVE!
- The Script and the Screenwriters (HD, 27:14) (featuring Michael Gonzales, Eric Karson and more) MVD Rewind EXCLUSIVE!
- Deleted Scenes 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)
- Collectible Poster

As with all MVD Rewind Collection releases, this Blu-ray + DVD Special Edition combo pack is housed in a limited edition "retro style" slipcover with the film's original 80's artwork. The slip will only be available on the first pressing and once MVD runs out... it's gone (the slipcover... not the release).

Impulse Pictures' April 2018 Release of 'A Touch of Sex' and' Helena' - 1975 was a very good year for sexy '70s erotic cinema!

A TOUCH OF SEX (1975) 
Label: Impulse Pictures
Release Date: March 10th 2018 
Region Code: All
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 73 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono 
Director: George O'Conner
Cast: Harry Wilcox, Seymore Canyon, Skip Chester, Sunny Boyd, Rene Bond

Hired to help launch a new hot rock group called "Tommy and the Penetrations," Mark (Michael Pataki) finds himself dropped into the opulent drug-filled and orgiastic lifestyle of Hollywood. Settling into the historic Villa Elaine Apartment building (previous residents include Orson Welles and Frank Sinatra), Mark is suddenly haunted by visions of a horny group of people everywhere he goes. Are they some sort of mind-bending fantasy or reality?

This music-filled '70s erotic oddity features genre film actor Michael Pataki (HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS, DEAD AND BURIED, GRADUATION DAY) under the alias "Harry Wilcox," and classic adult film starlet, Rene Bond. Presented from an authentic 35mm grindhouse release print for maximum sleaze. Ya dig?


HELENA (1975) 
Label: Impulse Pictures
Release Date: March 10th 2018 
Region Code: All
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 73 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono 
Director: Alain Nauroy
Cast: Valerie Boisgel, Yan Brian, Richard Darbois, Monique Vita

Synopsis: The lovely Helena heads to the French coastline to meet up with Roy, a man she's had affairs with in the past. She arrives at her destination and is told by the man at the door (Frank) that Roy is preoccupied with another woman upstairs and will be down to meet her soon. As Helena waits for Roy, Frank courts her... flirting, making conversation, and finally seducing her in his outdoor pool.

As the truth about Frank is revealed, Helena's life is turned upside down (and the film's plot takes a crazy, unexpected turn) when a gang of thugs breaks into the home. With no way to escape, Helena must give in to dominant sexual games and desires.

Alain Nauroy's HELENA is a classic mix of eroticism and sexploitation from the '70s that will titillate your senses until the film's jaw-dropping and disturbing final act.


Impulse Pictures' April 2018 Release of 'Women In Heat Behind Bars' One of the best Nikkatsu "Women In Prison" films!

WOMEN IN HEAT BEHIND BARS (1987) 

Label: Impulse Pictures
Release Date: April 10th 2018 
Rating: Unrated 
Region: 1
Duration: 69 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Audio: Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono  with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Junichi Suzuki
Cast: Shinobu Wakana, Reina Hatta, Tomomi Segawa, Saeko Kizuki, Mako Takigawa

Synopsis: The lovely Shinobu Himeno is arrested and thrown into Asahi Female Prison for being an unwilling accomplice in a jewelry store robbery. She's to serve her sentence in the infamous Cell Block 21, a dismal area full of tough, sex-starved women. Himeno is bullied and abused by inmates and guards and, after being framed for starting a fight, is taken away and tied up by the prison's infamous Mr. Kiya. Through flashbacks, we discover why many of the women have been locked up here and soon, in one great act of defiance, they rise up to overtake the prison in a bloody, violent riot! Can the shy Himeno ever escape this living hell?

Loaded with gratuitous nudity, sex, and violence, WOMEN IN HEAT BEHIND BARS is one of the best of the "Women in Prison" genre of Nikkatsu's vast exploitation catalog.

Special Features:
- Brand-New 2017 Remaster from Nikkatsu Corporation
- Newly Translated Removable English Subtitles
- Theatrical Trailer