Wednesday, August 16, 2017


HOLY SHIT! Been waiting for THE HIDDEN (1988) and INNOCENT BLOOD (1992) to make their way to Blu-ray for years, now it's finally happening thanks to the folks over at the warner Archive! 

Even better we're getting the longer international cut of John Landis's INNOCENT BLOOD which runs 115 minutes - all of these are getting brand new 2017 HD Masters, too!

Also on tap are the Ray Bradbury anthology THE ILLUSTRATED MAN (1969) and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN (1996), which are also getting the HD treatment! 


NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER
Run Time 97:00
Subtitles English SDH
DTS HD-Master Audio (REMIX FOR HOME VIDEO) 5.1 - English, DTS HD-Master Audio (ORIGINAL THEATRICAL) 2.0 - English
Special Features:
- Commentary by Director Jack Sholder and Tim Hunter
- SFX Footage with commentary by Jack Sholder
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Something hideous is changing law-abiding citizens into monstrous, hyperviolent psychopaths. Now, only Kyle MacLachlan (Dune, Twin Peaks) and Michael Nouri (Flashdance) can halt the terrifying rampage of The Hidden!

A series of bizarre, inexplicable robberies and murders have L.A. police detective Tom Beck (Nouri) totally baffled. And it doesn’t help when mysterious FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (MacLachlan) tells him that a demonic extraterrestrial creature is invading the bodies of innocent victims – and transforming them into inhuman killers with an unearthly fondness for heavy-metal music, red Ferraris and unspeakable violence! This chilling, high-velocity sci-fi horrorshow that captures a long-gone and way-gone Los Angeles has emerged from the shadows to epitomize '80s cult cinema - and now it's looking show room fresh!


NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER
Run Time 84:00
Subtitles English SDH
DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 Stereo - English

Special Features:
- Commentary by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy
- Additional Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Blaine, Missouri, may be small, but Corky St. Clair always dreams big. Determined to get back to the lights of Broadway, he’s created Red, White and Blaine, a musical celebration of the burg’s 150th anniversary.

This Is Spinal Tap and Best in Show co-creator Christopher Guest plays Corky in this acclaimed comedy. Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Fred Willard and Bob Balaban costar as stagestruck townfolk who pin their hopes of being discovered on Corky’s hilariously hapless theater production...and on reports that big-time talent scout Mort Guffman will be in the audience. “Waiting for Guffman does for regional theater what This is Spinal Tap did for rock ’n’ roll” (Jami Bernard, New York Daily News).


NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER
Run Time 115:00 International Version (UNRATED)
Subtitles English SDH
DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 Stereo - English

Special Features:
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)

This ghoul just wants to have fun! She also wants an occasional bad guy to sink her fangs into – because she never, ever takes Innocent Blood.

Anne Parillaud is Marie, a vampire who imperils Pittsburgh when she fails to kill off one of her victims, mob boss Sal Macelli (Robert Loggia). Sal realizes what a lucky stiff he is: a vampire with deadly powers! If Marie and her undercover cop boyfriend (Anthony LaPaglia) can’t stop the mobster’s new “family” of goons, Pittsburgh will be the pits. As in his An American Werewolf in London, director John Landis saw in Michael Wolk’s script many “possibilities to be outrageous” – and transforms them into outrageous screen reality. With more than two minutes of never-seen-in-the-US footage, Innocent Blood is ready to drain you like never before!


NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER
Run Time 103:00
Subtitles English SDH
DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 Mono - English

Special Features:
- Vintage Featurette "Tattooed Steiger"
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Rod Steiger plays the tattoo-covered title role in this fascinating vision of doom and danger based on the classic short story collection by futurist Ray Bradbury. Robert Drivas portrays a good-natured drifter who can’t tear his eyes away from Steiger’s freakish illustrations. And Claire Bloom is the mysterious seductress who created the “art” that curses its bearer – and comes to life in a nightmarish trio of tales.

Two spoiled children turn playtime into slay time (from The Veldt). Shipwrecked astronauts wander across a planet cursed by The Long Rain. And loving parents choose their children’s fate when the end nears (from The Last Night of the World). Every one of The Illustrated Man’s pictures tell a story. And every story ends in terror.

THE SLAYER (1982) (Arrow Blu-ray Review)

THE SLAYER (1982) 
Label: Arrow Video 
Release Date: August 29th 2017 
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: J.S. Cardone
Cast: Sarah Kendall, Frederick Flynn, Carol Kottenbrook, Alan McRae, Michael Holmes, Sandy Simpson

A surrealist painter named Kay (Sarah Kendal), her husband David (Alan McRae, 3 Ninjas), her brother Eric (Frederick Flynn, Shadowzone) and his wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook, Survival Quest) are on vacation on a small remote island off the coast of Georgia. Kay is hesitant to go, she's been plagued by horrific nightmares since childhood and lately they've been growing in frequency and intensity, they also seem to be aggravating her formerly successful career as a painter of some renown .

The island was once a thriving resort but has since fallen into disrepair, a barren place with just a few dilapidated buildings including a crumbling movie theater and a small vacation home. They fly onto the island on a small prop engine plane piloted by Marsh (Michael Holmes, Deadly Prey), whom before leaving them behind warns them that a hurricane is set to blow through the area, and that they should leave with him, but they choose to stay behind. 

Kay's nightmares persist, she becomes a bit of drag for the others, including her husband, who grows tired of her increasingly frayed sanity, and tormented by a weird sense of deja vu, which Kendall plays wonderfully, she's a wild eyed and ethereal actress, she plays the part of a person who believes her nightmares are manifesting themselves into reality quite believably, her performance brought to mind Zohra Lampert as the titular character in Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1972), a film that shares some tonal qualities to this one.

As the storm blows in the couples hunker down in the vacation home, and one by one they are killed off in some truly gruesome ways. While not a slasher film per se the movie certainly does have some slasher tendencies, such as a killer POV and murder set-pieces, but in reality this is more of a Lovecraftian slow-burn with some slasher type kills peppered throughout, a few of which are rather fantastic. The kills begin with a random fisherman taking a boat oar to the face, then someone having their head caught in between the doors of a basement bulkhead entrance, the setup is great and the payoff is nicely bloody, nearly taking his head off. Another favorite is a pitchfork kill, the tines of the garden tool popping through a woman's breast, and another is a strange fishing line and hook kill, the victim dragged off into the ocean by an unseen malevolent fisherman! some good low-budget make-up effects from Robert Short (Chopping Mall). 

Like I say the film is a bit of a slow-burn, for the first thirty minutes or so we are just establishing characters and remote location, getting a feel for their thoughts for Kay. I would dare say the movie has a bit of a lo-fi arthouse feel to it, once we get to the first kill things pick-up quite a bit and the atmosphere and tone kept me enthralled. The movie does a good job of keeping you guessing as to what exactly is happening, is there an killer on the island, could Kay be the killer, or is there really a demonic entity from her nightmares manifesting itself and killing everyone off? I won't spoil it, anymore than the artwork does, but we do get a glimpse of a fetid, melting-faced creature that really worked for me, it's glimpsed only briefly but it works. A few other tidbits worth mentioning are a nightmare scene with a severed head in a bed, not realizing that it's disembodied Kay kisses it, it's surreal and gross, an effective trickle of blood tearing up from it's eye is super eerie. Also eerie, in aforementioned the pitchfork kill the killer slowly emerges from the darkness, you only see the pitchfork coming toward her, not the killer holding it, it's a truly dread filled moment with excellent follow-through.  

Some of the acting might be a little iffy at times but that didn't detract from the creepy fun for me, I think that Kendall is quite good in the role of Kay, she has a certain wild-eyed etherealness about her that captures the essence of the film and the character. The whole nightmare-killer aspect of the story predated Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) by a few years, Kay even fights to stay awake believing it will stop the killings, this is idea that has since been exploited many times over, so kudos to writer/director Cardone and writer/producer William Ewing for the seminal idea.

The movie  has a great location, a remote island with no one else around, some great island views, plus a lot of it takes place over the course of a dark and stormy night full of thunder and lightning, giving it a Gothic quality, enhanced by some decent lensing from Karen Grossman (Microwave Massacre) and an effective chiller score from composer Robert Folk (Savage Harvest).

Audio/Video: The Slayer (1982) has been a video nasty obscurity for quite a long while, it's been hard to find in any meaningful sort of release, either full screen or cut-up and of poor quality, and never a legit U.S. release. Thanks to Arrow we have a brand new 4K restoration of this sought after slice of Lovecraftian horror straight from the original camera negative. The image is very pleasing, a fine layer of grain is intact, colors are nicely saturated, but it does show it's early 80s film stock limitations, some scenes are softer than others, contrast can be a bit sketchy at times, and some scenes are abundantly grainy and black levels are not as deep as one would hope, but when compared to the grey market versions I've seen this is a phenomenal restoration! Audio comes by way of a lossless LPCM 1.0 Mono track with optional English subtitles. 

Arrow don't skimp on the extras, we have three commentaries, one with Director J.S. Cardone, Eric Weston and Carol Kottenbrook moderated by Ewan Cant of Arrow Video, a second with The Hysteria Continues Podcast crew, and a third with composer Robert Folk, moderated by Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures. There's also a nearly hour-long making of doc featuring interviews with writer/director J.S. Cardone, writer/producer William Ewing, director of photography Karen Grossman, actress Carol Kottenbrook, executive in charge of production Eric Weston, special effects makeup creator Robert short and camera operator/second unit photography/still photography Arledge Armenaki.

There's a fun location comparison revisiting Tybee Island locations with, we get to see the main house, some of the beach locations and the Tybee Post Theater, which was once a working theater in the 30's for servicemen, but which has by the time of the movie had fallen into disrepair, but has been recently restored, and it looks quite nice nowadays. There's also the option to watch it with the Tybee Post Theater Experience with audio from the audience at the theater during the viewing, this also includes introductions by executive director of the Tybee Post Theater Melissa Turner (3 min) and a video intro from director J.S. Cardone (1 min). You have the option to play the whole experience of just the 18 minute Q/A with camera operator / second unit director/still photographer Arledge Armenaki and Ewan Cant of Arrow Video. 

Finishing up the extras there's a still gallery and the original trailer. we were only send a "check disc" for review, but retail copies include a sleeve of reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn, plus the first pressing will include a collector’s booklet featuring new liner notes by writer Lee Gambin

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary with Director J.S. Cardone, executive in charge of production Eric Weston and actress Carol Kottenbrook moderated by ewan Cant from Arrow Video  
- Audio Commentary by the Hysteria Continues Podcast 
- Isolated Score Selections and Composer Robert Folk Audio Interview moderated by Michael Felsher of red Short Pictures 
- Nightmare Island: The Making of The Slayer - Brand new making of documentary featuring interviews with writer/director J.S. Cardone, writer/producer William Ewing, director of photography Karen Grossman, actress Carol Kottenbrook, executive in charge of production Eric Weston, special effects makeup creator Robert short and camera operator/second unit photography/still photography Arledge Armenaki (52 min) HD 
- Return to Tybee: The Locations of The Slayer - Brand new featurette revisiting the original shooting locations on Tybee Island, Georgia with camera operator/second unit photography/still photography Arledge Armenaki, plus an interview with Melissa Turner, the executive director of the Tybee Post Theater(13 min) HD 
- The Tybee Post Theater Experience - Join the audience of the Tybee Post Theater (one of the film;s key locations) for this very special screening of The slayer! Includes live Q/A with camera operator / second unit director/still photographer Arledge Armenaki and Ewan Cant (18 min) HD 
- Still Galley (10 min) HD 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new liner notes by writer Lee Gambin

The Slayer (1982) has been long overdue for a proper release on home video, this bonafide video nasty has languished for decades in obscurity, but now Arrow video have brought this hidden gem into the limelight with a wonderful 4K restoration and a wealth of excellent extras, this is one of my favorite releases of the year so far, and it was worth the wait and is a horror film that has actually lived up to the hype! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

KADAICHA (1988) / INNOCENT PREY (1984) (DVD Review)


Label: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Code: 4 PAL Format
Rating: M (Mature) 
Duration: 91 Minutes / 90 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (No subtitles) 
Video: 4:3 Full Frame
Cast: Deborah Kennedy, Steve Dodd, Tom Jennings, Zoe Carides, Martin Balsam, P.J. Soles, Kit Taylor, John Warnock, Grigor Taylor 
Director: James Bogle, Colin Eggleston 

In this derivative slice of late-80s Aussie horror, also known as Stones of Death, we have a group of suburban high school kids (all in their 20s) who discover that their quiet suburban neighborhood was built on top of an Aboriginal burial ground, very much akin to Poltergeist (1982), which it borrows quite a bit from. Each of the teens begin to have nightmares of "the kadaicha man', a weird aboriginal figure seen in an ominous cave, who in the dream hands each of them a crystal, when they wake in fright afterward they find that somehow the stone from their nightmares has appeared in their hands. While discussing the nightmare with a group of friends one of the teens shows them the stone, a nearby teacher sees the stone and informs her that what she has is a Kadaicha stone, something that aboriginal elders long ago would give to those they had cursed, and death would soon follow for that person. 

Turns out that the kids are cursed because one of their father's developed the land that was a sacred burial ground, and the "evil" comes back to haunt them in their dreams a'la Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), the film also has a bit of an eco-horror angle as the kadaicha spirit can take the form of a number of critters in which to kill the teens, which it does in the form of a barely seen snake, a wild dog, and most notably, a spider which leaps onto the eyeball of one unlucky kid, pumping him full of deadly venom. Most of the spider attack happens obscured by stacks of books, unfortunately, but we do get some keen POV shots of the spider crawling towards the intended victim. 

The movie is not at all original, but the Australian setting and mysticism does lend some atmosphere to the proceedings, the aboriginal mysticism and shaman aspect reminded me a bit of Peter Weir's otherworldly The Last Wave (1977), though much less attractively shot and executed. Originally planned for a cinema release this one went straight to video and TV, which is not a surprise, the direction is rather lacklustre, the cinematography is uniformly low-budget TV looking, and the performances are also TV-centric. Not helping, the special effects are ropey and low-budget, the best special effect would be the kids face all swollen-up after the a spider attack, and a young girl's throat ripped open after the dog attack, but most of the most horrific stuff is happening offscreen or just out of sight. 

If I'd seen this in '88 when I was fifteen it might have a bit more charm for me than it does, but as it is it felt stale and poorly executed. This is a movie I've heard about for years but never had a chance to watch, so the double-feature was appreciated, but this is the clear b-side to the next film, the 80's slasher Innocent Prey (1984).    

Here's another movie I've long heard about been never actually had the opportunity to watch, that is until now. In this mid-80's slasher/thriller we have P.J. Soles (Halloween) as Cathy, a Texan with the biggest most bountiful 80s hair you've ever seen - it's enormous. She lives in Dallas with her new husband, New Zealander Joe (Kit Taylor), who turns out to be a whore fucking/murdering son-of-a-bitch, which she finds one night while driving through town, where she spies her husband's car at the local no-tell motel and pulls over to investigate. 

Earlier that night Joe picked up a prostitute, who played Debbie Sue Voorhees (Friday the 13th v: A New Beginning), paid her $500 bucks for the night, and ended up at that hotel. Poor Cathy doesn't just catch him cheating, she spies them through a window and sees Joe throttling the whore from behind in the shower, there's a lot of thrusting going on, then he slices her throat with a straight razor! Cathy runs off home and confronts her husband about what he's done, he grabs a fire-poker and is about ready to bash her brains in when the local Sheriff (Martin Balsam, Psycho) and other cops show-up and stop him, sending him not to jail, but to the asylum. He escapes the asylum a short time later and heads back to finish off his wife, killing a few cops along the way, cutting head off their female cops assigned to protect her, leaving it on a shelf in the kitchen pantry. She manages to escape, as does Joe, who disappears into the night. 

After all that Cathy has had just about enough of Texas and heads for Australia to stay with her dear friend Gwen (Susan Stenmark), who puts her up in an apartment, run by landlord Philip (John Warnock), who seems like a nice guy, a bit peculiar, but seemingly harmless. Turns out he's a damn weirdo too, this lady just attracts the wackadoos I guess. Phil likes to watch and listens in on his tenants through a series of hidden cameras and microphones which are hidden throughout the complex, and so Cathy has another murderous loony on her hands. 

P.J. Soles is charming and has charisma but perhaps there's a reason she wasn't a lead in more film, this was her first, and last I know of, she's a great side character, but her acting here is a bit on the melodramatic side, there's a scene on the beach where she's speaking two a new lover named Rick (Grigor Taylor) about a pregnancy, it felt like a clip from the daytime soap The Days of Our Lives, dreadful stuff. The scene even has a suitably over dramatic score from Brian May (Mad Max), who has done some great scores for ozploitation classics, this time around he's channeling Bernard Hermann from some tasty Psycho-esque cues throughout when he;s not laying on a melodramatic veneer.

I think the main issue I have with the film is that it feels like two separate movies mashed together, at first we have a psycho-hubbie whore-slasher, that is pretty sleazy, but when she gets to Australia it changes gears dramatically, turning into a creepy psychological thriller about a wacko landlord along the lines of Crawlspace (1986), either one would have been a great turn by itself, but together they sort of cancel each other out, and the two are married together with the slowest sort of melodrama you can imagine, it saps the film of a lot of energy.

The movie was directed by Colin Eggleston, who directed the tense eco-horror film The Long Weekend (1978), the movie has some nice lensing, albeit obscured by the full frame presentation, but the story and script are messy and awkward, which is not to say that I didn't enjoy the film, it has it's charm, and it has a wonderful winky finale that had me in stitches, but it is a bit drawn out and conflicted by what sort of thriller it wanted to be. 

Audio/Video: Kadaicha (1988) and Innocent Prey (1984) arrive on a double-feature DVD from Australia's Umbrella Entertainment on a single-disc release, the presentations are both full frame, and from what I've read there are no prints or negatives available for either release, so what we get a looks to be full frame from something along the lines of a 1" video master, it's VHS quality, with Innocent Prey fairing the better of the two, Kadaicha looking murky and soft with poorer contrast, and some scanning lines appearing towards the end of the presentation. Color reproduction and black levels fare much better on Innocent Prey, all things considered the image looks damn decent, but sub-DVD quality. Audio on both comes by way of  English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitle options, sounding mostly clean and audible, it can be a bit tinny at times but it does the job. 

Extras on the disc include a full frame trailers for each film, plus a new 22-min interview with star P.J. Soles produced by Umbrella along with Cinemaniacs. The star looks back on her time on the film, being cast and meeting with the director, hiding her pregnancy during the filming, how pleasing it was to land a lead role, working with the cast and crew, and she even touches on her ridiculous hairdo.    

 Special Features: 
- Kadaicha Trailer (2 min) 
- Innocent Prey Trailer (2 min) 
- Looking Back on Innocent Pray: A Conversation with P.J. Soles (22 min) 

A fun double dose of 80s Ozploitation from Umbrella Entertainment, I don't think either ranks particularly high among my favorite kangaroo-cult classics like Razorback (1984) or Patrick (1978), but I love that we have them on disc, even if they're full frame and none too attractive. At least we have them on a digital format, and hopefully some better sourced prints will turn up at some point, I would love to see Innocent Prey in a restored widescreen presentation, that would be deserving of a re-examination. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

DEATH WISH II (1982)/DEATH WISH III (1985) (Umbrella Blu-ray Review)

A Cannon Classics Double Feature 

Label: Umbrella Entertainment

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: R/18+
Duration: 91 Minutes/92 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Michael Winner 
Cast: Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Laurence Fishburne, Vincent Gardenia, Martin Balsam, E. Lamont Johnson, Silvana Gallardo,Kevyn Major Howard, Thomas E. Duffy, Stuart K. Robinson, Robin Sherwood

DEATH WISH II (1982) (92 min) 

Eight years after the original Death Wish (1974) Charles Bronson (The White Buffalo) returned to the role of NYC vigilante Paul Kersey, and as you might expect, producers Golan and Globus along with director Michael Winner (The Mechanic), gave the film a trashy 80s sheen, making it a right slice of 80s era Cannon-fodder, turning the sequel to the vigilante classic into an over-the-top slice of violence and sleaze, amping up the misogyny to the nth degree and laying on the violence with a thick and bloody brush. 

The film picks up with Kersey (Bronson) having relocated from NYC to to sunny Los Angeles after the event of the first film, beginning life anew with his daughter Carol (Robin Sherwood, Tourist Trap) who is now confined to a mental institution following the traumatic events of the first movie, she having watched her mother killed and then raped by her killers scarred her deeply. Paul is still working as an architect, he has a new girlfriend named Jeri, played by his real wife Jill Ireland, who is a radio news reporter. Together they attend a street fair along with his fragile-minded daughter, who they've checked out of the asylum for a day of fun. 

While waiting in line to buy some ice cream Paul is targeted by a group of punks who lift his wallet, he chases them down and beats a thug named Jiver (Stuart K. Robinson, Better Off Dead) pretty badly, but ends up letting him go when it turns out he doesn't have the wallet. However, the other thugs now have his wallet with his home address and they head to his home for some sweet revenge. There they encounter his housekeeper Rosario (Silvana Gallardo) home alone, they assault and rape her, and as this is the unrated director's cut of the film it goes on for a bit, it's vile, humiliating and overstays it's welcome by a few minutes, managing to get pretty sleazy, with the men squealing with delight as they run a train on the helpless woman, the assault ends with her getting a crowbar to the skull, killing her. 

Paul arrives home later that night with his daughter and walks into the horrific scene, he's attacked by the thugs who've been waiting for him, he's knocked unconscious and the thugs make off with his daughter, taking her back to their lair where they rape her. The scene is weird, if it had different music the sex would almost seem consensual, that Winner was a creep, but she fights back and runs away, leaping out a window only to be impaled on a spiked iron fence, dying immediately. 

Of course her death inspires the grieving, but always stone-faced, Kersey to go resort to his vigilante ways, going after the gang with a vengeance, taking out the cartoonish gang in a series of bloody and violent vignettes, complete with the requisite one-liners that Bronson delivers with cold menace, my favorite being when he catches up the thug named Stomper (Kevyn Major Howard, Full Metal Jacket), holding him at gunpoint Kersey aks "Do you believe in Jesus?", responding that he does, Kersey says "Well then, you're going to be with him." before blasting him. One of the gang members named Nirvana (Thomas F. Duffy, Super 8)is later apprehended while high on PCP, found unfit to go to jail they send him to the asylum, Kersey disguises himself as a doc and tracks Nirvana down at the asylum where he has his vengeance, electrocuting the killer with the implicit help of an orderly, played by Charles Cyphers (Assault on Precinct 13). 

The movie is a fairly straight-forward rehash of the original film and as such is predictable and none too enthralling, just amped up with violence and more skin-crawling rape, but if you're a fan of badass Bronson and love cheap, exploitative violence there's plenty here to enjoy, also be on the lookout for a very young Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon) as one of the gang members named Cutter, wearing pink new wave glasses, who gets shot in the face right through his 80s boom box. Horror fans will also get a hoot spotting Anthony Franciosa of Argento's Tenebre (1982) in the film as the L.A. police commisioner! 

As this is the unrated director's cut it runs about a few minutes longer than the U.S. R-rated theatrical cut, with some extended rape scenes, which don't amount to much in the grand scheme of things but it's here for your pervy eyes to view in all its trashy glory. Also noteworthy is a screaming guitar and synth driven score from Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page - it's not his best work but it's just fine for this slice of street-cleaning trash.    

DEATH WISH III (1985) (91 min) 

Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) arrives back in New York City to visit an old Korean war buddy named Charlie (Francis Drake), only to find his friend has just been attacked by some neighborhood punks, his friend dies in front of his very eyes, which furthers my belief that Paul Kersey is perhaps one of the most cursed men in all of cinema, to just know his name seems to take years off your life expectancy! Once more the stone-faced avenger must face off against a gang of ridiculous looking punkers, but not before he is detained after Charlie's death by the cops, where the police chief Richard Shriker (Ed Lauter, Cujo) recognizes him as the vigilante from the first film, only to release him back into the wilds of the Bronx, with the edict that he works for him, hoping to get an assist from the vigilante to clean-up the violent streets of the Bronx.  

Paul moves into Charlie's apartment and helps the immigrant and senior citizen who live in the slum fight against the horde of violent criminals that infest the neighborhood like cockroaches.  He is befriended by WWII vet Bennet Cross (Martin Balsam, Psycho), and there's also a doomed love interest, a public defender named Kathryn Davis (Deborah Raffin, The Sentinel) who winds up dying in a fiery car explosion, further fueling Kersey's desire for vengeance. 

This one takes up the cartoonish violence a notch while toning down the rape just a tad, but it's a Michael winner film so yeah there's a rape. The gang is lead by ginger nut job Manny (Gavin O'Herlihy, The Descent: Part 2) who proves to be the worst of the scumbags, and he gets an appropriately explosive and utterly overkill demise in the film, the final thirty-minutes of this one is an all-out war zone with the gangs going up against the well-armed citizens of the neighborhood, it's hard not to love it, even though it is nutso.  

By this point in his career Bronson was waning in enthusiasm and his star had fallen quite a bit, hence the work with Cannon Films, and he seems more detached than the first sequel, the driving force of the film seems to be his increasingly cartoonish arsenal, with a new weaponry like an enormous .475 Wildey Magnum hand cannon, a Browning M1919 .30-caliber machine gun and a rocket launcher which conveniently arrives just in the nick of time through mail-order! Super silly stuff, but if you're a fan of badass Bronson and cartoonish urban vigilantism there's plenty of fun to be had with Death wish III. 

Audio/Video: Both films arrive on Blu-ray from Australia's Umbrella Entertainment with 1080p HD presentations framed in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1). These are solid looking HD transfers with excellent color reproduction and skin tones, the grain can be a bit chunky on Death Wish 2 at times but overall these are pleasing, they're not reference quality, but they're pleasing and a nice upgrade from my DVD versions.  Both film share space on a region-free BD50 disc along with a host of extras, plus a bonus DVD with three versions of Death wish 2; the theatrical cut in anamorphic widescreen and the TV cut and the Greek VHS version, both in poor VHS quality full frame presentations. Audio is advertised as DTS-HD MA Mono but we only get a lossy Dolby Digital mono 2.0 track for both films, they're clean and well-mixed, but a lossless option would have been nice, optional English subtitles are provided.  

As for the extras we get quite a few beginning with as assortment of trailers and TV spots for each film, a nearly hour-long archival making-of featurette with behind the scenes footage of Death Wish 3, Runaway Train and House, there are a lot of cool behind-the-scenes stuff and interviews, narrated by actor Katt Williams (House, Carrie), it's a nice Cannon Films focused extra. 

There are also a whopping 100 minutes of extended interviews from Mark Hartley's Cannon doc Electric Boogaloo with actors Alex Winter, Robin Sherwood, screenwriter David Engelbach, and Todd Roberts, son of producer Bobby Roberts. The Winters interview is particularly fun and scathing, calling the film a "dog pile of shit", how he got out of filming a rape scene, pointing out what an unlikable guy Winner was, and commenting on Bronson and what a class act he was, though clearly just doing the picture for money.  There's also an Easter Egg on the Blu-ray disc, a collection of scenes from the Australian VHS version not found on the theatrical cut of the film, a lot of these are scenes between Kersey and Inspector Richard Shriker (Ed Lauter) at the police station and some extended shootout sequences. Notably, while the rest of the disc seems to be region-free this extras would only play on my region-free player and not on the region-A player. There's also a DVD disc featuring three versions of Death Wish 2, the theatrical cut and the Greek VHS and TV cut of the film, each with additional scenes not in the unrated director's cut. All the versions of Death Wish 2 feature notes by Paul Talbot, author of 'Bronson's Loose! The Making of the Death Wish Films', speaking to the various incarnations of the film and what's exclusive or unique about each.

Reversible Artwork

This release comes from Umbrella Entertainment in a thick-style Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, the main option is a new custom artwork from the folks at Umbrella, on the reverse is a wrap featuring the original one-sheets for both films. The Blu-ray disc sports the Death wish 2/Death wish 3 artwork, while the bonus DVD disc features the Death Wish III one-sheet artwork. 

Special Features: 

DISC 1 (Blu-ray) 
- Notes on the uncut version of Death Wish 2 by Paul Talbot, author of 'Bronson's Loose! The Making of the Death Wish Films' (Text Only) 
- DEATH WISH 3 (1985) (92 min) HD 
- Death Wish 2 Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Death Wish 2 TV Spot version 1 (28 sec) 
- Death Wish 2 TV Spot Version 2 (23 sec) 
- Death Wish 3 Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Death Wish 3 TV spot (29 sec) 
- Interviews with cast members Alex Winter, Robin Sherwood, screenwriter David Engelbach - and Todd Roberts, son of producer Bobby Roberts. (Extended interviews from Mark Hartley's ELECTRIC BOOGALOO)(100 min) HD 
- ACTION II: Making-of featurette with Behind the Scenes footage of Death Wish 3, Runaway Train and House (52 min) 
- Easter Egg: Death Wish III Extended and Deleted Scenes (6 min) 


- DEATH WISH 2: ORIGINAL THEATRICAL CUT (89 min) (Anamorphic Widescreen) 
-  Notes on the R-Rated version of Death Wish 2 by Paul Talbot, author of 'Bronson's Loose! The Making of the Death Wish Films' (Text Only) 
- DEATH WISH 2: TV CUT (94 min) (Full Frame) 
- Notes on the TV cut of Death Wish 2 by Paul Talbot, author of 'Bronson's Loose! The Making of the Death Wish Films' (Text Only) 
- DEATH WISH 2: GREEK VHS CUT (95 min) (Full Frame) 
- Notes on the Greek VHS release of Death Wish 2 by Paul Talbot, author of 'Bronson's Loose! The Making of the Death Wish Films' (Text Only)

Great to have the unrated version of the these Death Wish sequels on Blu-ray, the U.S. versions have been R-rated threadbare of extras, Umbrella rectify that this fantastic region-free double-feature of 80's badassery, loaded with extras and no less than four versions of the second entry. If you're a fan of the movies this is the one to own.  

Monday, August 7, 2017

THE BLACK ROOM (2016) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Cleopatra Entertainment 
Region Code: Region-FREE 
Duration: 94 Minutes 
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 (No subtitles) 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen 
Director: Rolfe Kanefsky
Cast: Natasha Henstridge, Lin Shaye,Dominique Swain, Tiffany Shepis, James Duvall, Lukas Hassel

All aboard for campy erotic demon-sex weirdness with a movie from Rolfe Kanefsky, the director of the pre-Scream ironic-horror film There's Nothing Out There (1991), who has since gone on to direct softcore stuff like The Erotic Misadventures of the Invisible Man (2003) and Emmanuelle 2000: Emmanuelle Pie (2003), the latter stuff I haven't seen but his softcore leanings are quite evident here. Paul (Lukas Hassel) and his wife Jennifer Hemdale (Natasha Henstridge, Species) movie into a new house, they got it for a steal since the former occupants have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.. you know, that old nugget.  

Turns out that the house is home to a sex-demon, an incubus, that begins to meddle in the lives of the newlyweds. The entity lives in a secret room down in the basement of the home, manifesting itself as steam at first, making its way through the house via the furnace duct work, introducing itself to the coupe by giving them both ghost-gasms, but soon enough the demon takes on a physical form by possessing Paul. Not long after the guy begins to molest, fuck, rape and kill every woman in sight, including his wife's goth sister Karen (Augie Duke, The Badger Game) and their sexy neighbor (Dominique Swain, Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre),  

The movie is fun in a campy sort of way but the mix of goofy possession eroticism is awkwardly married with the rape-y weirdness, I imagine the prospect of directing a demon-rape comedy is fraught with challenges, like the fact that the tone changes from low-budget horror to demon-rape comedy every few minutes. The tonal shift make for an uneven viewing, not helping is the over-the-top scene chewing from co-star Lukas Hassel, playing a sexually frustrated, arrogant dimwit, the character is sinisterly dumb and he seems to be in a completely different movie than everyone else, he really amps up the camp to the nth degree, spouting off one-liners and groan inducing puns at an alarming rate, which is fun but weird. The rest of the cast is not too shabby, some familiar faces here, we have Natasha Henstridge from the Species movies as the wife, she seems pretty game for the camp-drenched horror movie, while she never drops her clothes completely she does lean into a washing machine for some masturbatory fun and makes an o-face in the bathtub when the sex-demon gives her some otherworldly pleasure. 

There are also appearances from Al Jourgensen of the industrial-metal band Ministry, Michael Reed (Disco Exorcist), Tiffany Shepis (Tromeo and Juliet) as a realtor, James Duval (Donnie Darko) as a horny Maytag repairman, and Victoria De Mare, who plays Batty Boop in the Killjoy movies. However, the biggest shock for me was the appearance of Lin Shaye (Insidious) as the former owner of the house, in a pre-credit sequence we see her freak out when the demon escapes from its basement prison to seduce and rape her sexy granddaughter, which features some strange nipple manipulation, which pretty much sums up what you can expect for the next ninety-minutes, fun but goofy stuff. 

The special effects of the movie are actually pretty decent, enjoyed the horned-demonic makeup effects and some of the gore was quite good. The latex wall with the groping red demon hands was not one of the better effects but overall I was pleasantly surprised how good the special effects were for otherwise fairly awful movie.

Special Features: 
- Commentary with Director Rolfe Kanefsky and star Natasha Henstridge
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (31 min) HD 
- Behind the Scenes(1 min) HD 
- Bloopers and Outtakes (1 min) HD 
- Storyboards (44 images) HD 
- Slideshow (73 images) HD 

The Black Room (2016) is a bad movie; a campy, sex-drizzled slice of lust-horror loaded with bad dialogue and softcore silliness, every once in awhile we get a decent special effect, a decent song, and plenty of naked ladies, but this is not anything I would willingly watch again. It's trashy, but not a trashy good time, I have to say avoid this one unless you catch it for free on some streaming service or pick it up cheap for just a few bucks. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

2K Restoration of Zombie Cult Classic "The Dead Next Door" Shambles to Retail as 2-Disc Collector's Edition

2-Disc Collector's Edition 

Label: Tempe Digital 
Region Code: A
Duration: 78 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen/Fullscreen
Director: J.R. Bookwalter
Cast:  Peter Ferry,Bogdan Pecic,Michael Grossi,Jolie Jackunas, Robert Kokai

Includes collectable slipcover with first pressing, plus three new bonus features

Tempe Entertainment announces the launch of its Blu-ray label Tempe Digital with the September 26th release of the 1990 landmark independent shocker "The Dead Next Door." Priced at $29.95 SRP, this 2-Disc Collector's Edition includes the same Blu-ray from the company's limited (and now out of print) 3-Disc Ultimate Edition, along with an all-new DVD featuring a collectible slipcover and three new bonus features.

Two and a half decades before "The Walking Dead" made zombies mainstream on cable television, 19-year-old writer/director J.R. Bookwalter ("Ozone," "Witchouse 2: Blood Coven") embarked on "The Dead Next Door," an ambitious horror feature pitting an elite team of Zombie Squad soldiers against hoards of the undead and the secretive religious cult hell-bent on protecting them. The film would ultimately take four years to complete with the help of a now-famous Hollywood director and more than 1,500 Northeast Ohio residents, who portrayed the multitudes of bloodthirsty ghouls.

For this 2-Disc Collector's Edition release, brand-new 4:3 and 16:9 1080p HD masters have been painstakingly created from a 2K restoration using the original Super-8mm film elements. Also included is a 5.1 surround mix which restores the voices of the original cast members for the first time ever, vintage and newly-prepared bonus materials, and much more. The DVD includes a 4:3 standard-definition presentation of the restored feature plus a candid audio commentary by the director recorded in 2001, which was previously only available on long out-of-print international releases.

The second disc also features an all-new 2017 interview with actor Scott Spiegel (director of cult favorites "Intruder" and "From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money"), as well as a 1999 tour of several locations where the film was shot. Rounding out the Collector's Edition is a beautiful slipcover featuring newly-commissioned artwork, which will only be available with the first pressing of 1,000 units.

"The Dead Next Door" 2-Disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray + DVD will be available everywhere on September 26, 2017 at $29.95 SRP, with retail distribution from our partners at MVD. 


Bonus Feature from the Blu-ray called "Restoration of the Dead" which goes into the extensive work done to restore the film: 

"THE DEAD NEXT DOOR" 2-Disc Collector's Edition (Blu-ray + DVD)

Disc 1 (Blu-ray)
- 2K Restored Feature in 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio (1.33:1, 78 mins.)
- 2K Restored Feature in 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1, 78 mins.)
- DTS HD-MA 5.1 Surround Original Cast Mix
- DTS HD-MA 5.1 Surround Classic Dubbed Mix
- 2015 Audio Commentary with producers J.R. Bookwalter, Jolie Jackunas and Scott P. Plummer
- "Restoration of the Dead" Featurette (19 mins.)
- Capitol Theatre Screening Q&A (12 mins.)
- The Nightlight Screening Q&A (16 mins.)
- Behind the Scenes Footage (19 mins.)
- Deleted Scenes & Outtakes (7 mins.)
- Storyboard Gallery (27 mins.)
- Around The World Gallery (4 mins.)
- Behind The Scenes Gallery (9 mins.)
- Production Stills Gallery (6 mins.)
- Tempe Digital Trailers: The Dead Next Door (2015 Version), Platoon of the Dead (2009), Poison Sweethearts (2008)

Disc 2 (DVD)
- FIRST TIME ON DVD! Standard-Definition Presentation of 2K Restored Feature in 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio (1.33:1, 78 mins.)
- NEW! 2001 Foreign DVD Audio Commentary with writer/director J.R. Bookwalter and makeup FX artist David Lange
* NEW! Richards Returns: An Interview with Actor Scott Spiegel (5 mins.)
- NEW! Akron Location Tour with James L. Edwards (5 mins.)
- FIRST TIME ON DVD! Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Original Cast Mix
- FIRST TIME ON DVD! 2015 Audio Commentary with producers J.R. Bookwalter, Jolie Jackunas and Scott P. Plummer
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Classic Dubbed Mix
- 2005 Audio Commentary with writer/director J.R. Bookwalter, actor Michael Todd and cinematographer Michael Tolochko, Jr.
- 20 Years in 15 Minutes (16 mins.)
- Video Storyboards (8 mins.)
- Video Pre-Shoots (6 mins.)
- Auditions (14 mins.)
- 2000 Frightvision Reunion (6 mins.)
- Three Miles Out Music Video (3 mins.)
- Tempe Video Trailers: The Dead Next Door, Kingdom of the Vampire (1991), Ozone, The Sandman, Polymorph

Packaging (First 1,000 Units Only)
- Slipcover with Newly-Commissioned 2017 Artwork
- Classic VHS Release Wrap Arts

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Full Moon presents PUPPET MASTER: THE LEGACY (2003) for the first time on Blu-ray!

Full Moon presents
For the first time on Blu-ray!

The 8th and strangest entry in Full Moon's venerable Puppet Master franchise, Puppet Master: The Legacy is a fascinating look at the mythology of the series, featuring a wealth of intense scenes from classic Puppet Master movies and an all new, intense framing story.

The film tells the tale of Eric Weiss (Jacob Witkin) who, as a boy in World War II Germany, was rescued from a grim fate at the hands of the Nazi's by kindly toymaker Andre Toulon.  Fascinated by Tourlon's supernatural ability to breathe life into his carefully crafted figurines, Weiss spends his entire life attempting to unlock Toulon's methods but, just when he's on the cusp of creating a living doll, a rogue agent named Maclain (Kate Orsini) breaks into his lab and subjects the apprentice puppet master to untold tortures in order to steal his secrets. Time itself seems to stand still as the present meets the past, and the bloody legacy of the lethal puppets is revealed in a mind-bending free-fall into Puppet Master mayhem. 

All your favorite characters - Blade, Pinhead, Tunnler, Six-Shooter, Leech Woman, Cyclops and more - appear in this innovative, pulse-pounding Puppet Master fan favorite that also features the finest of composer Richard Band's iconic music cues. Puppet Master: The Legacy is presented here fully remastered in HD for the first time on Blu-ray. The film will release on August 22nd, 2017 and will include the Puppet Master documentary "No Strings Attached" as well as classic Full Moon Trailers.

Be sure to drop by the Full Moon Amazon channel for all your Full Moon favorites online!