Thursday, July 2, 2015

RECKLESS (2014)

RECKLESS (2014)

Label: Artsploitation Films
Release Date: July 14th 2015
Region Code: A

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 Minutes 
Audio: Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: Anamoprhic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Joram Lürsen

Cast: Marwan Kenzari, Tygo Gernandt, Sarah Chronis

Synopsis: Laura Temming wakes up to find herself bound to a bed in a sound-insulated vacant apartment. Two masked men strip the clothes from her body, place her in a track suit, and take photos that will be used to obtain ransom money from Laura’s wealthy father. As the clock ticks, Laura discovers that she may have a relationship with one of the kidnappers that she never expected…and that the two men may have a relationship with each other that no one could have expected. With more twists than one could imagine, RECKLESS is ingeniously seductive.

I gave this one a spin completely blind about what I was in for and almost immediately I knew I had watched this very story unfold before and sure enough I had. Turns out that this is the Dutch remake of the British thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) from a few years back, a film I enjoyed quite a bit. This one sticks surprisingly close to the original source material, a kidnapping/ransom thriller about three people confined to a small space entangled in a web of deceit and greed. 

Laura (Sarah Chronis) is the kidnapped woman, while Rico (Marwan Kenzari) and Victor (Tygo Gernandt) are the kidnappers, a duo with a deep prison formed bond and a simple yer well executed scheme to walk away with four million Euros, by kidnapping and ransoming the strong willed daughter of a real estate millionaire. Chromis is great as the strong willed victim who gives her captots, one in particularly quite a difficult time. Gernandt just has one of those faces, a storied face with loads of character, he reminded me of Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) with an even deadlier scowl on his face, that's some serious scowl!

The film is tightly woven and fast paced, peppered with enough twists and revelation to keep fresh, unspooling with a taughtness I could appreciate it and not too damn clever for it's own good, I love a good twist but being  little too clever for your own good doesn't appeal to me.  

Set mostly in one small apartment location, with a cast of just three, this one gets claustrophobic by design pretty quick and as the deceit and distrust begins to permeate the air it is like a rope tightening around your neck ...and you know it won't be long before you're gasping for air. It should be noted though that it's not all deadly serious either, there's a subtle black streak of humor running through the movie that makes for a highly satisfying movie experience, this is thriller I can get behind, one that delivers the goods, even if it's not original -- it is a remake after all, but even beyond that it's just a good solid thriller.  

My only beef with the film is that I was already familiar with the source material and as such it held very few surprises for me, but the storytelling is solid, the cinematography is stylish and the cast is top notch. If you are familiar with the original I wouldn't worry about it completely ruining your viewing, the material holds up very well, and stands up to a revisit through different director's eyes. Its the rare remake that can hold up to the original film, and I sort of love the delicious irony of  an English language film being remade by a foreign director and completely owning the material. 3/5 

CONTAMINATION (1980)

CONTAMINATION (1980) 
Label: Arrow Video
Release Date: July 6th 2016 
Region Code: Region FREE
Certificate: 15
Duration: 95 minutes
Audio: Language: Italian/English 1.0 Mono 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Luigi Cozzi 
Cast: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé, Siegfried Rauch 

Luigi Cozzi's throbbing Alien knock-off begins with a cargo ship drifting into New York harbor - not unlike the beginning of Lucio Fulci's Zombi (1970) but on a larger scale. The crew are all found dead, their bodies seemingly turned inside-out by an unknown force. As authorities explore the derelict ship they discover crates of coffee in the hold from Columbia. Inside they find not coffee beans but thousands upon thousands of pulsating green eggs, which have the appearance of tumor filled zit pustules. The eggs seem to grow when exposed to heat and explode upon contact - spraying a corrosive green fluid which causes humans to explode in a horrendous torrent of blood and guts -- captured here in exquisite slow-motion. 

Special Division Five is called in to assess the situation and we're introduced to the sexy Colonel Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau) who quarantines the cargo ship and orders the eggs to be frozen. Of course the science-geeks back at the laboratory have to run some tests on the eggs, exposing a rat to the green fluid from the egg, causing it to explode just like the humans did. It soon becomes clear that these eggs are not of this planet, and that someone intends to cultivate them here on Earth, but to what diabolical end? 

Colonel Holmes team-up with Lt. Arras (Marino Masé) from the NYPD and a former disgraced astronaut named Hubbard (horror icon Ian McCulloch) who two years earlier reported seeing eggs during a NASA mission to Mars .. just wait till you see the Mars excursion flashbacks scenes and the toothy mouth of the the Martian cave ...and those motorcycle helmets, cheap doesn't even begin to describe it. Hubbard's former astronaut partner Hamilton (Siegfried Rauch) at the time contradicted his story, attributing the encounter to a form of space madness brought on by the enormous stress of the mission, but now it seems that Hamilton might be a slave to the alien eggs.

The authorities raid a warehouse at the boat docks hoping to capture those responsible, in the ensuing melee there's plenty of gunfire with a nice bloody shot to the head, plus they uncover thousands more of the alien eggs. The human collaborators explode before they can be apprehended with loads of splatter, afterward the evil clutch of eggs are destroyed, burning them with flamethrowers. Having destroyed the alien eggs in NYC Arras, Hubbard and Holmes head off in search of the tropical origins of the lethal cargo, tracking down the treacherous Hamilton and and the hideous one-eyed alien creature who seems to be pulling his strings.

There's plenty of schlock and cheese to enjoy, beginning with the score from Goblin is ham-fisted and fun, and once the trio arrive in the tropics we are subjected to a pretty goofy half-formed love triangle and a love story that lasts for all of ten seconds. Additionally, Colonel Holmes seems to enjoy a good authoritative slap to the face, which Hubbard is only to happy to provide, slapping her hard after she calls him "soft, you're half a man", to which he retorts "that's just so we understand one other", to which she gleefully replies, "yes, I believe we do understand one another" with a perverse smile on her face -- such a weird little slice of misogyny mixed in with the schlocky science-fiction thrills, gotta love those Italians. 


Landing in Columbia the trio secure a hotel  where one of Hamilton's minions plants an alien egg in Holmes shower, jamming the door shut and trapping her inside with the pulsating menace. Unfortunately despite the perfect set-up there is no nudity during the scene, just Holmes panicking and knocking on the door screaming for help as eerie enlarged egg pulsates, threatening to coat the Colonel in the gooey corrosive green slime.

Eventually the trio end up at on a clandestine coffee plantation where we finally catch-up to the one-eyed alien monster who speaks through Hamilton through some form of mind control, and it's a b-movie disaster of a creature, created by FX designer Giovanni Corridoli (Zombie Flesh Eaters). A gooey and ridiculous cyclops of an alien, with large folds of green flesh and mouths that somewhat resemble a vagina oozing a milky secretion. The design reminded a bit of Kang and Kodos, the comic alien duo from The Simpsons, minus the classic sci-fi glass helmets.


The build-up to the  end is a fun bit of awesomeness, with the reveal of the giant one-eyed alien, the Bond-type villain Hamilton meets an appropriately gruesome fate, and an ominous downbeat ending that comes perhaps a bit to quick, but it is what it is, a fun Italian Alien knock-off with more than a few nods to the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but amped with buckets of blood and Italian knock-off goofiness. There's a lot to love here, weather you love gory science fiction or just revel in bad cinema there's plenty of both for your enjoyment.

Audio/Video: Arrow Video went back to the original negative for a brand-new 2K restoration f the film and the results are beyond what i could have hoped for. The film looks fantastic with a fine layer of film grain, a modest amount of fine detail and improved clarity, a fantastic 1080p HD transfer all the way around. Audio chores are capably handled by a the PCM 1.0 Mono track, with choice of either Italian or English languages, with optional English subtitles. The dubbed-English track is solid, dialogue comes through very clean and crisp and is well-balanced. The Goblin score is fun, and though I wouldn't consider it top tier among their filmography, it does have a certain cheesy charm about it.


Arrow have again gone above and beyond with bonus content for this release, beginning with a commentary by filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Eurocult enthusiast Chris Alexander who provides a fan-based commentary with is quite good with some fun observations and the story of how he discovered the film the first time, a nice blend of fandom and insider info. There's also a 22-minute vintage documentary about the making of the film with director Luigi Cozzi loaded with behind-the-scenes footage, a 41-minute Q/A from 2014 with with Luigi Cozzi and actor Ian McCulloch, a brand new 43-minute career-spanning interview with the director, a 12-minute interview with Goblin keyboardist Maurizio Guarini who speaks about creating the score for the movie, plus a new 17-minute featurette, Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery: A Critical Analysis of the Italian Cash-In  with the participation of noted author Maitland McDonagn and Chris Poggiali fromTemple of Schlock, which is a fun overview of the Italian knock-offs of the seventies and eighties, mentioning such classic knock-offs as Killer Fish and the outright theft of Great White, a Jaws knock-off the that Universal has pretty much sued out of existence. 

Extras are finished-up with a trailer for the movie and a 55-page black and white digital comic based on the original screenplay with artwork by Sergio Muratori. There's also a 12-page illustrated collector's booklet with writing on the film by Fangoria's Chris Alexander. and a sleeve  of reversible artwork featuring both the original and newly commissioned artwork by artists Gary Pullin. 

Special Features
- Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
- Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Contamination super-fan Chris Alexander
- Notes on Science-Fiction Cinema – an archive documentary featuring behind-the-scenes footage and director Luigi Cozzi on the birth of Contamination (22 Mins) HD
- 2014 Q/A with Cozzi and star Ian McCulloch (41 Mins) HD
- Sound of the Cyclops: Maurizio Guarini on the music of Contamination – the Goblin keyboardist discusses Contamination’s dark, progressive rock score and a lifetime of making music for Italian terror (12 Mins) HD
- Luigi Cozzi vs. Lewis Coates – a brand new interview with the director in which he discusses his film making career from past to present (43 Mins) HD
- Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery: A Critical Analysis of the Italian Cash-In – a brand new featurette looking at the Italian genre movies which sought to cash-in on popular Hollywood blockbusters (17 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (3 Mins) HD
- Graphic Novel based on the original Contamination screenplay (Disc gallery)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
- Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Alexander


Arrow Video's new 2K restoration of Luigi Cozzi's sci-fi splatter classic is top notch and the extras were far beyond my expectations, watching this again for the first time in years I was surprised by just how much my appreciation for the Alien knock-off had grown, this was quite a bit of fun. A high recommend for fans of Italian gore and science-fiction horror, a fantastic Blu-ray from Arrow Video. 3.5/5 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

METAMORPHOSIS & BEYOND DARKNESS on Blu-ray 8/25 from Scream Factory

MORE ITALIAN SCHLOCK FROM SCREAM FACTORY COMING IN AUGUST! 
METAMORPHOSIS / BEYOND DARKNESS
on Blu-ray August 25, 2015

A double feature of insane Italian horror awaits you… On August 25, 2015, Scream Factory proudly presentsMetamorphosis and Beyond Darkness, two tales of scary supernatural shenanigans both on Blu-ray for the first time!

First up is the science-fiction/horror of Metamorphosis! When his experiments in genetics are mocked by his colleagues, maverick scientist Dr. Peter Houseman takes extreme measures to prove that his untested anti-aging serum works. Injecting himself with his miracle cure, he soon experiences a terrifying change within himself that threatens not only the lives of those around him, but also his own sanity. From cult cinema mainstay George Eastman, Metamorphosis proves that nightmares may change, but fear is forever!

Next, take a terrifying trip into a world beyond fear, beyond belief… Beyond Darkness. When a man of God and his loving family move into a new house, they think they’ve found the perfect home…until they discover that their new digs were once the location where a coven of witches were burned at the stake! It’s only a matter of time before the radio starts blaring satanic chants and the cutlery takes on a mind of its own. Will the awakened evil in this house have its final revenge, or can a plucky priest fend off what lurks Beyond Darkness? This tale of terror comes from Claudio Fragasso, the director of Troll 2 (so you KNOW it’s good!).

GIUSEPPE MAKES A MOVIE (2014)


GIUSEPPE MAKES A MOVIE (2014) 
Label: Cinelicious Pics
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 82 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen 
Director: Adam Rifkin
Cast: Giuseppe Andrews, Vietnam Ron, Big Ed, Sir Bigfoot George, Ed, Mary,Mike dougal, Walt dongo, Tyree, Walter Patterson, Tiffany Naylor, Spit, Bill Nowlin, Gayle Wells, Ruth Estes

While the rest of America slept, DIY filmmaker/musician Giuseppe Andrews (a one-time teen actor in Independence Day and Detroit Rock City) has made over 30 experimental features with titles like Doily’s Summer of Freak Occurrences, Trailer Town and Utopia Blues. Set in some demented alternate universe (i.e. Ventura, California), they are populated by real-life alcoholics and drug addicts, trash-talking senior citizens and trailer park residents dressed in cow outfits and costume-shop wigs, acting out booze-fueled vignettes of severe psychosis filtered through Giuseppe’s John Waters-meets-Harmony Korine-meets-Werner Herzog sensibility.

From Director Adam Rifkin (Look, The Dark Backward) comes a very strange documentary chronicling the film making efforts of former teen actor Giuseppe Andrews, a young man whom you might remember from appearances in the Blockbuster Independence Day and Rifkin's own Detroit Rock City, or as more recently as the bumbling stoner-cop in the Cabin Fever movies. What you may not know is that for the past 12-years Andrews has been making series of no-budget outsider movies, way out there avant-garde cinema populated by a cast of characters fresh from the trailer park, which is where Giuseppe shoots these slices of lower-culture life, in and around the trailer park where he lives in Ventura, California, surrounded by a cast and crew of societal rejects and dregs that most would avoid, but the young director embraces. 

Surprisingly this is not seem to be a case of the filmmaker exploiting the down-trodden, Giuseppe truly loves his drug and booze addled crew with all his heart -- there's a mutual respect for one one another and everyone involved is so damn passionate about the movies they're creating together, however humble they may be to the average eye. This is pretty out there stuff, outsider cinema way beyond (and below) anything from Harmony Korine (Gummo), amateur just doesn't even begin to describe it. The doc is peppered with scenes from they're previous films  Doily’s Summer of Freak Occurrences, Trailer Town and Utopia Blues while also showing us a glimpse of his latest venture, a two-day shoot for a film called Garbanzo Gas, starring Vietnam Ron as a Cow who had been granted a weekend reprieve from the slaughterhouse at a local motel - yeah, just try to make sense of that one my friend.

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary by director Adam Rifkin and producer Mike Plante. 
- Garbanzo Gas: The Feature Film Being Made in Giuseppe Makes a Movie (75 Mins) 
- Schlock Oysters: Extra scenes from Giuseppe Makes a Movie (25 Mins) 
- Visual Medium Observation: Producer Mike Planet Talks with Giuseppe Near His Home in Austin, Texas (29 Mins) 
- Bill Nowlin Lives: Giuseppe Interviews Bill Nowlin, an Actor in His Early Films (14 Mins) 
- 5th Wheel: The TV Pilot by Giuseppe Widely Pitched to Networks, roundly Rejected (22 Mins) 
- 16 Page Collector's Booklet with writings on the films by Bill Gibbons and Mark Borchardt
- Directed by Giuseppe: Highlight Reel of Giuseppe's Filmography (5 Mins) 
- Trailer (3 Mins) 

The cast of transients, recovering addicts and alcoholics put on quite a show for the camera, this is cinema in it's most pure form, there's no ego or pretense, but there's plenty of vibrant and foul-mouthed dialogue delivered by as cast of well worn and weathered lunatic fringers, it makes for a very surreal viewing experience -- there's something quite beautiful about it -- but this documentary and the movies made by the subject thereof are certainly not for anyone. I myself would certainly prefer watching the documentary again over the movies themselves, they're an acquired taste, but I love the pure spirit of all involved -- even if I don't see myself tracking any of them down to watch anytime soon -- the documentary is quite a success. 3/5

DOG SOLDIERS (2002)

DOG SOLDIERS (2002)
Label: Scream Factory 
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 105 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Neil Marshall
Cast: Liam Cunningham, Kevin McKidd, Thomas Lockyer, Emma Cleasby, Sean Pertwee, Neil Marshall

A squad of six regular British Army soldiers lead by Sgt. Harry G. Wells (Sean Pertwee, Gotham) are dropped by helicopter into the chilly Scottish Highlands for what is to be a standard military exercise, they are up against a Special Forces unit lead by Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham, Centurion). Suddenly the training exercise turn to shit when the soldiers find the Special Forces unit have been eviscerated by an unknown enemy, the encampment is covered in blood and guts, with only the critically wounded Ryan having survived. While Ryan keeps repeating "there was only supposed to be one" the enemy make themselves known and the group retreat into the forest, in the ensuing panic one of the soldiers impales himself on a tree branch and Sgt. Harry is disemboweled by what turns out to werewolves. Patching the Sgt. up the remaining soldiers are found by a woman in a Jeep who transports them to a nearby woodland cottage where they regroup, and treat the injured. Meanwhile, the werewolves gather around the cottage and lay siege throughout the night. Neil Marshall made quite a werewolf film back in 2002, a darkly funny and gory mash-up combining a gritty war movie with the hairy-howls of a Howling-esque terror film, that at its prime feels a bit like Assault of Precinct 13 with werewolves thrown-in to the mix. 

The group of soldiers are spot-on fantastic, a great assortment of actors who imbue their characters with some minor depth as they each share war stories and fret about missing the big soccer match in between barbing each other about this and that, the dialogue is snappy and vibrant. An earlier scene with Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd) establishes both his own moral code and his antagonistic relationship with Capt. Ryan from the Special Forces. These are all decent blokes, except for maybe Ryan who is keeping vital information from the other soldiers, and whom strangely has recover from his injuries in record time, I wonder...

The pace is kinetic and the atmosphere is tense, the Scottish Highlands (Luxembourg actually) look damn great, loads mist-laden greenery with rocky outcroppings made even more ominous by the black and white wolf-vision employed by the filmmakers for the POV shots of our hairy-antagonists. The design of the werewolves is great, seven foot tall beasts with the head of a wolf, their bodies are somewhat hairless with a long mane descending down their back from their head, long-clawed fingers with seemingly overlong arms with quite a reach... the better to disembowel you with with my dear. I think the design gives a wink to the creatures from Joe Dante's The Howling, but they manage to hold their own without resorting to outright theft, plus we do not get an elaborate transformation scene, mostly achieved quite simply with just yellow contact lenses and a set of teeth, they duck down below a table or whatnot, a boom  they're transformed. I love that Marshall went practical for the appearance of the werewolves, thereby avoiding the shock and awfulness that was An American Werewolf in Paris, this has an great old school special effects vibe.

Audio/Video: Dog soldiers was previously issues on Blu-ray from First Look Studios in North America and the image was lacking to say the least, when Scream Factory announced a new Collector's Edition of the movie was in the works I was very pleased. After a bit of a delay what we ended up with was a new 2K scan HD transfer approved by director Neil Marshall. Unfortunately, not from the original negative -- which by all accounts seems to be lost -- but from two 35mm film prints. So the expectations of a new 2K scan must be tempered by the fact that we have no negative and there's only so much you can do with a 35mm print -- that is actually a Super 16mm negative blown-up to 35mm. 


Keeping that in mind the PQ is not ideal, by the director's own admission the film is contrasty, overly bright and cursed with black crush and an abundance of grain. I don't mind the film grain, I love it, but the brightness and contrast issues are unsightly, but overall I think the grittiness of the image is actually complimentary to the kinetic hand-held nature of the film. Perhaps down the road someone will uncover the seemingly lost original 16m negative for the movie as we will have a superior transfer, but until such a time we will have to make due with what source elements that were available, and this appears to have been the best of what was available, not ideal but that's the reality.

There are two audio options, English language DTS-HD 2.0 and a Surround 5.1 mix, both are adequate but neither are gonna blow-up your home theater system. Dialogue, the score and special effects audio are nicely balanced, the surround sound option is more active with some use of the rear surrounds during the more action-oriented sequences with some pleasing ambient sound and gunfire. There are optional English subtitles are provided. 

Bonus content on the disc include an hour-long making of documentary with input from Director Neil Marshall, Producers Christopher Figg And Keith Bell, Actors Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Leslie Simpson And Emma Cleasby, Special Effects Artist Bob Keen. There's also a new featurette with Production Designer Simon Bowles who brings out a scale model of the cottage and speaks about the design and logistics of the cottage sequences.There's also a new audio commentary from the director loaded with anecdotal info about the making of the film, the cast and crew, and the genesis of the project. Neil Marshall's short film 'Combat' from 1999 is included on the set, a fun war-themed version of the pub dating scene at the time, it's a fun addition



A few extras not carried over from previous DVD editions worth mentioning are an audio commentary by writer/director Neil Marshall, producer Keith Bell, cameraman Sam McCurdy and actors Kevin McKidd, Liam Cunningham and Sean Pertwee which can be found on the Region 2 DVD, plus a  commentary by producers David Allen and Brian O'Toole which can be found on both the R2 and R1 DVD. Also missing are a brief Making of Dog Soldiers featurette (found on the R1/R2 DVD) and a selection of deleted scenes and gag reel with optional audio commentary by writer/director Neil Marshall -- only found on the R2 DVD from Pathe. Depending on your love of extras you might want to hang onto those DVDs. Notably, the previous Blu-ray from First Look Studios was completely bereft of extras, so this release from Scream Factory is much appreciated, and the new making of doc more than makes up for the missing supplemental material. 

As one of Scream's Collector's Edition we have a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring original artwork -- which sort of reminded me of the baboon horror fest 'Shakma' -- and new artwork from illustrator Scream regular Nathan Thomas Milner, with a slipcase featuring the new artwork. This is a DVD/BD Combo with a DVD disc that mirrors the same feature and extras only in standard edition, the disc art is the same on both the DVD and Blu-ray, which I think is a missed opportunity to showcase the new artwork. As I recall most of Scream's combo releases typically have the same artwork, with the exceptions of Escape from New York and Motel Hell which two art options on the disc -- it's a small thing but I love it when they do it. 

Special Features
- NEW 2K Scan HD Transfer Supervised And Approved By Director Neil Marshall
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Neil Marshall
- NEW The Making Of DOG SOLDIERS Featuring New Interviews With Director Neil Marshall, Producers Christopher Figg And Keith Bell, Actors Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Leslie Simpson And Emma Cleasby, Special Effects Artist Bob Keen, And More! (62 Mins) HD
- NEW A Cottage in the Woods: A Look At The Model Of The Sets Created By Production Designer Simon Bowles (13 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (5 Mins) HD
- Neil Marshall's Short Film: Combat (8 Mins) HD
- Two Still Galleries – Photos From The Film And Rare Photos From Production Designer Simon Bowles And Special Effects Artist Dave Bonneywell's Archives (69 Images) SD


Dog Soldiers is in my opinion one of the best werewolf movies of the past twenty-years, without a doubt. Other than the very recent Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf (2014) there are precious few werewolf movies worth a re watch these days, if there are, please tell me what they are. Scream Factory new edition is a solid purchase, loaded with cool extras and highly recommended.  4/5

Monday, June 29, 2015

GHOSTHOUSE / WITCHERY DOUBLE FEATURE

GHOSTHOUSE (1988) / WITCHERY (1988) 
SCREAM FACTORY DOUBLE FEATURE 

Label: Scream Factory 

Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated I R
Duration: 94 Minutes I 96 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono with optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Umberto Lenzi I Fabrizio Laurenti
Cast: Ron Houck, Martin Jay, Kate Silver, Greg Scott, Lara Wendel, Mary Sellers I Hildegard Knef, Linda Blair, David Hasselhoff, Annie Ross, Catherine Hickland

GHOSTHOUSE (1988) 

Synopsis: Your tour of terror begins with Ghosthouse, in which a group of visitors to a seemingly-deserted home find themselves tormented by demonic spirits – including one particularly freaky little girl and her creepy clown companion. Soon, our hapless heroes find themselves powerless to conquer the evil of the Ghosthouse – where death holds the mortgage and if you move in… there'll be Hell to pay!

Italian horror movies are typically strange, somewhat surreal and usually a cheap knock-off of a then current popular American horror, and Ghosthouse comfortably falls into that category for sure. Directed by the infamous director Umbert Lenzi who brought us the vicious Cannibal Ferox and the outrageous zombie actioner Nightmare City, this time we find him up to something a bit more subtle and ghostly, okay, so maybe it's not so subtle, but it's not mean-spirited cannibalism or kung-fu zombies either. 


We begin with HAM radio operator Paul (Greg Scott) picking up on a creepy transmission of a man screaming followed by some eerie carnival music, afterward he and girlfriend Martha (Lara Wendel) head off in search of the transmissions origin, which brings them to a creepy old house in near Boston. While there they encounter Jim (Martin Jay), his sister Tina (Kate Silver), and their friends Mark (Ron Houck) and Susan (Mary Sellers) who just happen to be investigating the strange HAM radio transmission. I would be hard=pressed to think of another film so focused on HAM radio, it's a silly sort of set-up for a damn goofy tale of haunting, one that  might have made for a decent episode of Scooby-Doo.

The culprit behind the mystery is the angry spirit of a young girl and her creepy clown doll, obviously the writers had watched Poltergeist and knew that clowns were something worth exploiting, but they should have tried harder, the clown is pretty silly. There's a back story about the owner of a Mortuary who took the clown doll from a coffin, which leads to some possession and murder, and the death of the young girl. The gore is pretty decent and opens with a father finding his daughter in the basement with a pair of blood-soaked scissors, next to her is the corpse of the family cat. Of course the father is alarmed by this, but he doesn't have to worry long for just a few short moments later someone buries an ax into skull just before mommy dearest is stabbed through the neck, it's good stuff. 



The move certainly has its own brand of ghostly charm, full of creaking doors and breaking glass, a cheesy synth score, and plenty of horrifying screams. It's fun as the spirit of the evil little girl and her creepy clown companion murder the gathering of HAM radio enthusiasts, each time the warped carnival music chimes in before something awful happens. No, it's not a great film but certainly entertaining, limping along to the end on an atmosphere of goofy synth score and schlocky Italian camp. 

This is the third in a series of film known as La Casa, which were "sequels" to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 movie, which in Italy were marketed as the La Casa  and La Casa 2. Yet another example of the Italian penchant for cashing in on American movies even odder is that parts five and six in the La Casa series are House and House II.

WITCHERY (1988) 

Synopsis: Then, a new address brings new frights as the immortal David Hasselhoff and The Exorcist's Linda Blair turn up the terror in Witchery. When a terrible storm leaves a motley assortment of people stranded on an island resort, they soon find they have more to worry about than not packing rain gear! A horrible witch unleashes her wrath on the unwanted visitors – and no one is safe from her unquenchable thirst for death!

The sorta of sequel to Ghosthouse is a haunter from director Fabrizio Laurenti and is centered around Gary (David Hasselhoff, Knightrider) and girlfriend Linda (Catherine Hickland) whom arrive on an island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate the paranormal activity at an abandoned resort hotel. Linda is writing a book on local witchcraft and hopes to capture the fabled "Witch Light" on camera, and investigate the decades old death of a suspected witch who lived on the island at one point, and it's connection to the suicide of an aged actress whom also lived on the island years later. 



They're not alone on the island, the Brooks family have arrived and hope to buy the property for a song turn it into a resort. They've brought with them their pregnant daughter Jane, played by Linda Blair (Savage Streets, The Exorcist) and a few business partners.  The night the group are collectively stranded on the island by a storm front, and they are picked-off one by one by the mysterious Lady in Black (Hildegard Knef), whom transports each victim through a portal to a cavernous netherworld where they are tortured and killed by witchy tormentors. 

The visual effect that makes-up the portal is hilariously bad, but the torture and murders are executed nicely, compared to Ghousthouse the gore is more creative and consistent. The gruesome scenes include a mouth being sewn shut, burned alive, an upside down crucufixtion, rope strangulation, a woman raped by a gnarly mouthed demon, and a stabbing through the neck by a mounted swordfish, the gorehounds who might have been disappointed by the a-side of this double-feature will most like appreciate the increased horror quotient. 


Of the two I would have to say this one is my favorite of the two films on the double feature, benefiting from a superior story and the one-two punch of Linda Blair and David Hasslehoff! There's a pretty great scene of the Hoff catching a mouthful of blood straight straight from a wound on someones neck, that right there is worth the rpice of the double-feature alone. 


Audio/Video: Both movies are presented on a single-disc Blu-ray from Scream Factory in 1080p HD widescreen framed at 1.66:1. They look pretty good considering both favor soft-focus cinematography which never translates well to HD in my opinion. Both appear a little on the soft side but colors look good, black levels are acceptable and the skin tones appear accurate. I give Witchery the slight upper hand in respect to the better transfer, but it's really a toss-up. Both movies have English DTS-HD 2.0 Mono audio tracks sound good, the dialogue, score and effects are nicely balanced and free of any noticeable hiss or distortion, optional English subtitles are provided. Extras are nearly non-existent except for a pair of trailers for the movies. I was hoping for an interview with Blair and/or Hasslehoff but it just wasn't in the cards this time. 

I have quite a fondness for the cheesy Scream Factory Double Feature Blu-rays which in my mind are carrying-on the cult and b-movie tradition of the MGM Midnite Movies series, many of which Scream have give HD upgrades. I hope this continues for a long time to come, there are still many American International Pictures/MGM titles I would love to see sweetened with a new 1`080p presentation. These two slices of Italian schlock are not classic haunters by any definition, but they are fun double-feature and well worth the money. Love seeing Scream Factory dip their toe into Italian horror, I hope they agree with the waters and take the full-on plunge and we see more Euro cult movies on the way. 3/5

ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT BRINGS HOME THE TERROR AGAIN WITH AMC’S “THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON” 8/25


EXPERIENCE IT ON BLU-RAY™ + DIGITAL HD
AND DVD AUGUST 25, 2015

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Five years ago, a man awoke from a coma in a hospital. For sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), what should have been a cause of celebration became the flash point for five years of unceasing horror, unrelenting personal sacrifice...and one of the most popular TV shows ever broadcast. On August 25th, Anchor Bay Entertainment gives home entertainment fans their annual Walker fix with THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON Blu-ray™ + Digital HD and DVD releases. Each 5-disc set presents all sixteen gripping episodes from the series that has single-handedly redefined the zombie genre. True to the tradition of the previously released seasons, THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON arrives jam-packed with three hours of insightful and provocative bonus features that give viewers yet another inside glimpse into creating the fallen world of the Walkers and the souls brave – and crazy – enough to attempt survival. 

Fans can also look forward to THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON Limited Edition. Once again, legendary collectibles creator McFarlane Toys has created another must-have unique package for the Blu-ray™ + Digital HD discs. Artwork and release date will be announced shortly.

Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” continues to grow in global popularity and audience viewership. The fifth season also saw the introduction of such notable characters from the graphic novel as Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) and the cannibalistic Hunters.

THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON cast also includes Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Chad L. Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., Michael Cudlitz, Emily Kinney, Alanna Masterson, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt and Andrew J. West.

“The Walking Dead” Season 6 premieres on AMC this October.

Bonus Features on the Blu-ray™ + Digital HD and DVD include:
- Audio commentaries featuring Showrunner/Executive Producer/Writer Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer Tom Luse, Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor /Director Greg Nicotero, Director Julius Ramsay; Actors Lauren Cohan, Chad L. Coleman, Michael Cudlitz, Sonequa Martin-Green, Danai Gurira, Alana Masterson, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Norman Reedus, Christian Serratos and Steven Yuen.
- Deleted Scenes
- Inside “The Walking Dead”
- The Making of “The Walking Dead”
- The Making of Alexandria
- Beth’s Journey
- Bob’s Journey
- Noah’s Journey
- Tyreese’s Journey
- A Day in the Life of Michael Cudlitz
- A Day in the Life of Josh McDermitt
- Rotters in the Flesh

About AMC
Whether commemorating favorite films from every genre and decade, or creating acclaimed original programming, AMC brings to its audience something deeper, something richer, Something More. The network reigns as the only cable network in history ever to win the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row with “Mad Men,” and six of the last seven with current back-to-back honoree, “Breaking Bad.” The network boasts the most-watched drama series in basic cable history and the number one show on television among adults 18-49 for the last three years with “The Walking Dead.” AMC’s original drama series include “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead,” “Better Call Saul,” “Hell on Wheels,” “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” and the forthcoming “Humans,” “The Making of The Mob: New York,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Into the Badlands” and “The Night Manager.” AMC also explores authentic worlds and discussion with original shows like “Talking Dead” and “Comic Book Men.” AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc. and its sister networks include IFC, SundanceTV, BBC America and WE tv. AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile. AMC: Something More. 

About Anchor Bay Entertainment:

Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading independent home entertainment company celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015. Anchor Bay acquires and releases a wide array of filmed entertainment in the theatrical and home entertainment markets, including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports and specialty films on Blu-ray™ and DVD formats. The company has long-term distribution agreements in place for select programming with The Weinstein Company, AMC Networks and RADiUS, among others. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a full service distributor in the North American market. Anchor Bay Entertainment is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business, www.starz.com.

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“THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON”
Blu-ray™ + Digital HD
Street Date:                 August 25, 2015        
Run Time:                   710 minutes
Rating:                        Not Rated
Format:                        Widescreen Presentation 1.78:1
Audio:                         English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:                     English SDH and Spanish

“THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON” DVD
Street Date:                 August 25, 2015        
Run Time:                   710 minutes
Rating:                        Not Rated
SRP:                            $69.98
Format:                        Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio:                         English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:                     English SDH and Spanish