Tuesday, September 28, 2010

DVD Review: Death Warmed Up (1984)

PURE TERROR 50 Movie Pack (2010)
Mill Creek Entertainment

 "I'll get you, I'll get you all."

DIRECTOR: David Blyth
CAST: Michael Hurst, Margaret Umbers, William Upjohn

THE FILM: At the start of the film teenager Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst) is brainwashed by the evil Dr. Howell (Gary Day), who's hell bent on defeating death itself and creating a army of the living dead ...I think, it's a bit confusing to be honest. The plot and narrative are not this films greatest strength. That night Michael goes home and bloodily shotgun blasts his mum and dad to death under the direction of Dr. Howell's reprogramming. Afterwards he is sent to an asylum for the criminally insane. Seven years later he is released and sets out to exact revenge on Dr. Howell. Along with three friends he returns to the remote island where the evil doctor has continued his pursuit of creating a zombie army using corpses from the psychiatric brain-surgery center he runs. This low-budget export from New Zealand has the distinction of being the first NZ-horror film, it would be several years before Peter Jackson's BAD TASTE (1987), and I have to imagine this would have been a major influence on the young director. David Blyth makes great use of existing locations, fun set pieces and garish lighting to give us something cheap, fun and interesting while not altogether coherent. What struck me 1st about the film was the great use of colored lighting reminiscent of 80's films like DEMONS (1985) that were influenced by Dario Argento and master of the macabre Mario Bava before him. We get a lot of  great gore and splatter, including several awesome exploding heads, brutal impalement, and power drills to the head. Definitely a splatstick comedy with a bit of zaniness that will appeal to fans of Peter Jackson's 1st two films or the more recent BLACK SHEEP (2006). The finale, much like the rest of the film, is disjointed and a bit ambiguous, but a fun watch nonetheless.

DVD: This comes to us by the way of Mill Creek Entertainment's PURE TERROR 50 movie pack. The transfer leaves quite a bit to be desired and looks to be taken from a full frame VHS cassette, not great, but it'll do as it is the only Region 1 release of the film. The audio is mono and there are no special features. I would love to a properly transferred wide screen version of the film.

VERDICT: If you enjoy madcap b-movie splatter films in the vein of Peter Jackson's early stuff I think you'll find a bunch to enjoy here, just don't expect the Citizen Kane of splatter films, this is a strictly lo-budget affair with on-the-cheap effects and a visible boom mic, but it's fun, fast and wonderfully demented. Definitely check out the PURE TERROR 50 Movie Pack, if you're a fiend for b-movies, schlock, euro-horror and obscure awesomeness there's great stuff in there including MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, THE DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE, HANDS OF STEEL, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMBS, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, including several Paul Naschy films. **1/2 (2.5 Out of Five Stars)