Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blu-ray Review: PUNK VACATION (1987)

2-Disc Blu-ray + DVD Combo

Label: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Code: 0 
Duration: 93 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo
Directors: Stanley Lewis
Cast: Stephen Fiachi, Sandra Bogan, Roxanne Rogers, Rob Garrison

When some L.A. punks roll into a small rural town for a much needed vacation from the urban decay of the city the shit hits the fan when a young punk named Bobby (Rob Garrison) loses forty-cents in a soda vending machine, all the money he has in the world. Now he's pissed and vandalizes the soda machine, that is until the diner owner chases him off with a shotgun. Bobby returns a short time later with the entire gang of what are supposed to be threatening punks but what look to be teased hair new-wavers in rather heavy make-up, but this was the 80's and TV and film never did quite capture the true essence of punk, anyone remember that infamous punk episode of Quincy? The gang of bike riding trouble-makers are are lead by a somewhat threatening chic-punker named Ramrod (Roxanne Rogers) and the ensuing altercation ends with the diner owner dead and his young daughter apparently molested and catatonic. As the punks flee the scene the older daughter Sally (Karen Renee) and her cop boyfriend Steve (Stephen Fiachi) arrive on scene injuring Bobby with his squad car, but the rest of the punks get away.

In the aftermath Bobby is taken to the hospital with a broken arm where a vengeful Sally attempt to stab the punker with a pair of surgical scissors while he's handcuffed to the bed, and failing miserably.  She only further complicates matters when she attempts to track down the punks on her own which leads to her capture, she's stripped down to her undies and chained to a tree, thus becoming their prisoner. 

Her deputy boyfriend Steve enlists the help of the local sheriff and a group of rednecks with rifles whom manage to track the punks to an abandoned farm where a shootout ensues, it's pretty lackluster and not very entertaining in the traditional sense but it plenty entertaining as a slice of inept trash cinema, particularly entertaining is the cigar-chomping Sheriff Virgil (Louis Waldon) who spews a verbal tirade against the commie pinko punk rockers, it's hilarious stuff that expectantly devolves into an cartoonish 80's punks vs. rednecks debacle.

Punk vacation (1987) is a film from a director and writing team who went on to do absolutely nothing else and for a very good reason, this is a stinker! We have a cast of first-time actors giving it their best and still coming up short, perhaps the most egregious offense would be the complete lack of a punk rock soundtrack, instead we get a shitty synth score that does little to enhance the proceedings, not that it would have polished this turd of a revenger but it couldn't have hurt, Keith Morris and Black Flag chugging through "I Don't Care" in HD audio, that would have been fucking sweet! As it is this is a stale "punk" revenger that's just so bad that there might be some intrinsic entertainment value, but you would have to be a serious connoisseur of 80's schlock n' trash to appreciate it.  

Blu-ray: Vinegar Syndrome give this low-budget "punk" revenger a 1080p widescreen (1.85:1) transfer with an MPEG-4 AVC encode from a master that was scanned and restored in 2K from 35mm archival film elements, and considering what a low-rent production it was the presentation is quite stunning. Skin tones are spot on, color reproduction is accurate nicely saturated and there's quite a bit of detail, some of the darker scene suffer from black crush but overall this looks pretty great, way better than it probably deserves to in actuality

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 does the film justice, there's some very minor audio hiss and the dialogue is a bit muffled at times but it's never difficult to decipher. My main beef is that for a film titled Punk Vacation there's very little... um, actually no punk rock to be found anywhere, instead we get some 80's new-wave synth which is quite a disappointment but overall this is a decent audio presentation, but abandon all hopes of a Repo Man (1984) worthy punk soundtrack. 

Main Menu
Onto the the special features we get two video interviews, one with producer Stephen Fusci whom speaks about his previous feature Nomad Riders (1984) and Punk Vacation (1987), his aspirations to become a Roger Corman-esque low-budget producer and working with the original director of the film, whom was apparently quite a pain the ass, he was replaced by cinematographer Daryn Okada at some point during filming. The second video interview is with Production Coordinator Steve Rowland who was also the stunt coordinator on the film, he speaks about teaching the inexperienced cast to ride motorcycles, low budget shortcuts and a scene with the rats that featured in the film  terrorizing an aerobics studio full of women which was cut from the film,  also pointing out that Clint Eastwood was shooting Pale Rider in the very near vicinity plus a fun anecdote about a messy port-a-pottie incident. There's also an image gallery with 100 behind-the-scene pics and still from the film. 

The best extra is the inclusion of the Stephen Fusci produced Nomad Riders (1984) from director Frank Roach presented on the DVD portion of the 2-disc set, sourced from a 1" tape master that's quite watchable in a full screen VHS sorta way, and it's a fun trashy watch. This one features a cop named Steve Thrust (Tony Laschi) who sets out for revenge against a crime boss named Mister Vacci, played by director Frank Roach. Vacci hires a trio of bikers known as the Marauders to send a message to Thrusts, I was never sure what that message was but the Marauders end up blowing-up his wife and child, it's fun stuff. As the film opens Thrust is airborne in a glider (WTF) as his wife and kid wait for him on the ground, as he approaches for landing the bikers arrive on scene and force his wife and kid into a tent, douse it with gasoline and toss in a grenade. As the bikers ride off Thrust lands and in hilarious slow-mo he jumps from the glider and tears off his member's only jacket screaming as the tent goes up in flames. The Marauders next victims are a site surveyor using the a port-a-pottie, again a grenade is used and then they run wild through some old woman's house, destroying it. The first five minutes of this film are pretty great  but the last 75 are not so great with Thrust riding around in his Trans Am with his sunglasses on avenging his families death... when he's not busy bedding a babe, of course. 

Special Features: 
- Video Interviews with producer Stephen Fusci (17:57)

- Video Interview with Production Coordinator Steve Rowland (13:54)
- Still Gallary (4:41)
- Bonus Feature Film: Nomad Riders (82 Minutes) - DVD Only

Verdict: Not sure what would lead Vinegar Syndrome to bestow the 2-disc special edition treatment upon the rather inept Punk Vacation (1987) but every shit 80's revenger should be so damn lucky, it's a great looking release with some striking artwork and the inclusion of the feature length film Nomad Riders (1984) doesn't hurt, it definitely loses points for it's lack of punk rock and the fact that it sorta stinks, definitely a low-rent 80's trash fest. 2 Outta 5