Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scream Factory Announce 80's Slasher-Shocker SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) on Blu-ray for 2014 Release!


Shout Factory horror imprint Scream Factory announced today that they will be releasing the original uncut of the slasher-shocker SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) on Collector's Edition Blu-ray for the first time next Spring! 


Scream Factory also revealed that Director Kevin Tenney's NIGHT OFTHE DEMONS(1988) and WITCHBOARD (1986) will be released on December 24th 2013! 

SYNAPSE FILMS, INC. LICENSES “SUSPIRIA”, ONE OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED HORROR FILMS OF ALL TIME, FOR DVD, BLU-RAY AND FUTURE OPTICAL MEDIA

Synapse Films announced today via their Facebook page they have obtained the rights to Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA (1977) and are creating a new 2K scan of the negative for a 2014-15 release!


ROMULUS, MI – Synapse Films, Inc. has acquired the North American home-video rights to the 1977 classic horror film SUSPIRIA, directed by Italian horror master Dario Argento. Described as “one of the scariest films of all time” by Entertainment Weekly, SUSPIRIA stars the beautiful Jessica Harper as a young girl caught up in a coven of witches controlling a German dance academy.

“I’ve been involved in the restoration and release of many films in my career, but SUSPIRIA has always eluded me, until now,” says Donald May, Jr., President of Synapse Films. “It’s one of my favorite horror films and I’m ecstatic that my business partner, Jerry Chandler, was able to negotiate with the rights holders to release this film. This is going to be an amazing project for us.”

Synapse Films, Inc. will work closely with Technicolor Rome and Technicolor Los Angeles to create an all-new high-definition 2K scan from the original negative for a possible 2014-15 video release. “It’s important to spend as much time as possible to create the definitive high-definition home video version for the fans,” May explains. “We’re going to take our time with this one.”

Synapse Films, Inc. is currently planning the extensive work on SUSPIRIA in conjunction with Technicolor, utilizing both their Rome and Hollywood facilities. The film scanning will be coordinated and supervised by Technicolor Hollywood’s Director of Restoration Services, Tom Burton, whose film restoration credits include Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER, Georges Méliès’ A TRIP TO THE MOON and BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S.

Final specifications, retail pricing, and extras for the Synapse Films release of SUSPIRIA will be announced closer to the as yet to be determined release date.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DVD Review: ADAM CHAPLIN: VIOLENT AVENGER (2011)

ADAM CHAPLIN: VIOLENT AVENGER (2011) 

Label: Autonomy Pictures
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Emanuele De Santi
Cast: Emanuele De Santi, Valeria Sannino, Paolo Luciani, Alessandro Gramanti, Wilmar Zimosa

Set in the fictional country of Heaven Valley, Adam is investigating his wife s suspicious death and discovers the involvement of the local mafia boss, Denny Richards. Unable to trust the police, who are controlled by Denny, a vengeful Adam summons up a demon, who offers him superhuman strength and dark powers. The demon will guide Adam to his wife s murderer only if he follows all the demon s wishes. The war has been unleashed against the police and it will be the bloodiest, goriest battle for anyone who tries to stop ADAM CHAPLIN: VIOLENT AVENGER!

Italian Writer-Director-Actor Emanuele De Santi has created a hyper-violent slab of splatter with his entry Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger. Italian horror has seemed pretty non-existence since the late '80s, the last notable Italian export on my radar was Michele Soavi's macabre black comedy Cemetery Man (1994),  now it seems we have a modern splatter classic putting Italy back on the map. The plot as in the preceding paragraph is quite simplistic, Adam Chaplin's wife dies mysteriously and he summons a demon to get revenge on a weirdo mafia boss, followed by an endless parade of meat-grinder carnage.


With a super low budget director Emanuele De Santi manages to pack in wall-to-wall practical gore effects enhanced by computer animation, we get a dizzying array of splatter and onscreen nastiness, with a minimum of character development and world building. There seems to be several techniques at work here, the gory practical effects, plenty of bloody CGI and even some miniatures, most of it works withing the parameters of the super stylized design of the film but there are a few fall a bit short, but fear not, overall this is a pretty amazing gore film.

At times it reminded me of Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) with an infusion of anime styled violence, we have non-stop splatter and a wild array of super-villainous baddies that our violent avenger must plows through. There are hordes of crooked cops, cronies and losers. each are mangled and shredded in quick succession, which is not to say that there aren't moments when the story threatens to slow things down, it happens. Along the way we get a back story for our anti-hero, the arch villain has an appropriately fucked-up origin and there's a villainous counterpart to the protagonist. Now the acting, it's not great, but it's not awful either, that it's in Italian and dialogue is kept to a minimum works in it's favor, director Santi himself plays the titular pumped-up anti-hero and he does the job just fine, everyone else is pretty much meat for the grinder. The film has such a fun sense of kinetic energy, a lot of energy in it's execution, great stuff. It's low budget, it's super violent and the heart and passion the creative team put into it pours of the screen in torrents of blood. I would dare say that Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger (2011) is a new splatter-classic and a ton of fun. 


Special Features: 
- H.A.B.S (Hyper-realistic Anime Blood Simulation) (2:31)
- Mechanisms of Gore (1:34) 
- Building Up Adam (2:58)
- Scene Autopsy (1:41) 
- Trailer (1:38)

Verdict: Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger (2011) is an ultra-violent, hyper-stylized gore-classic drenched in splatter, this would make a great party movie with a roomful of drunken friends, immensely entertaining, this Italian lo-fi gore import gets a recommend. 3 Outta 5 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blu-ray Review: THE OTHER (1972)

THE OTHER (1972)
The Limited Edition Series Blu-ray 
Label: Twilight Time DVD
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: PG
Duraton: 100 Minutes Video: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Cast: Uta Hagen, John Ritter, Diana Muldaur, Martin Udvarnoky, Victor French, Chris Udvarnoky
Director: Robert Mulligan

What a trip seeing this classic folk-thriller on Blu-ray after so many years, I saw it on TV when I was young, too young, and it left a mark on my psyche. The year is 1935 on a family farm in rural Connecticut, it's a gorgeous area marked by scenic beauty, we meet a set of 11 year old identical twins, the mischief maker Holland Perry (Martin Udarnoky) and his more sympathetic brother Niles (Chris Udvarnoky) who gets roped into Holland's naughty adventures. Their father has passed away and they are left in the care of their anguished and reclusive mother Alexandra (Diana Muldaur) and Russian emigre grandmother Ada (Uta Hagen). Alexandra stays in her room most of the time but Ada has a particular fondness for Niles, even showing him a trick she calls "the great game", projecting his consciousness into a raven soaring through the sky. It's a weird supernatural twist to the story and one that spins wildly out of control by it's tragically fractured end. 

Through the eyes of the twins we are treated to a series of practical jokes perpetrated by Holland upon family and neighbors, pranks that are almost always result in untimely death. One such "joke" results in the a family member being skewered on a pitchfork, a magic trick for a neighbor spinster results in a terror-induced heart attack, wherever the twins go death seems to follow. The most tragic turn of events begins when a newborn baby is kidnapped from the Perry home, mirroring the recent Lindbergh baby kidnapping in the newspapers, the chain of events this kidnapping unleashes is unnerving. Sure, the film starts out a bit slow and deliberately paced but the finale left me breathless, it's tense and dizzying stuff.

The Other (1972) is beautiful film, it's sort of sinister the way the pastoral scenery and warm rural settings shot by cinematographer Robery Surtees (Ben-Hur) get under your skin, Jerry Goldsmith's lyrical score perfectly accentuates the scenery and the underlying eeriness of what's happening onscreen. It seems so idyllic with rustic barns, flowing fields and winding streams, but there's some seriously sinister stuff afoot, deadly happenings indeed. 

As a kid I was caught my surprise by the twist ending, I just did not see it coming and it completely floored me. Watching it again 30 plus years later I could see the mechanics of the film at play and it softened the impact a bit, it's hard to say for sure since I cannot erase what I already knew, regardless it's a chilling conclusion ripe with tragedy and it resonates strongly. Something I love about the movie is that I think it's open to interpretation, while the twist might fairly obvious to me given the mechanics of the film, it does not take away from the power of the storytelling or the ghastly impact of the events. 

Blu-ray: Twilight Time present The Other (1972) with an AVC encode, the 1080p widescreen (1.85:1) presentation is very pleasing, there's a nice natural layer of film grain, colors are accurate, and the soft focus cinematography looks fantastic. The English 1.0  DTS-HD Master Audio Mono audio sounds great, while subdued by modern standards this has a nice dynamic range, dialogue is consistently clear and Jerry Goldsmith's sublime score comes through beautifully. 

The only extras are a trailer for the film plus an isolated music track featuring Jerry Goldsmith's lyrical score which perfectly captures the strange menace and the pastoral beauty depicted in the film, it's a very nice bonus feature, well worth a listen on it's own. Let's not forget Julie Kirgo's liner notes contained in an 8-page booklet with gorgeous stills from the feature, aways informative and adding another layer of appreciation for the film. As with all of the Limited Edition Blu-rays from Twilight Time this release is strictly limited to only 3,000 and available exclusively from www.screenarchives.com

Verdict: A classic slice of slow-burn psychological horror in the tradition of the Bad Seed, bereft of blood it still packs quite a wallop through it's intense storytelling, tense, eerie and beautifully shot, they just do not make cinema of this caliber anymore, a very high recommend. 4 Outta 5 

DVD Review: PSYCHOMANIA (1972)


PSYCHOMANIA (1972) 

Label: Severin Films
Region Code: 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Don Sharp
Cast: George Sanders, Beryl Reed, Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Roy Holder, Robert Hardy


Synopsis: The cult classic known as ‘the greatest British zombie biker movie ever made’ returns with the ultimate full-throttle restoration: Nicky Henson (Witchfinder General), Beryl Reid (The Beast In The Cellar) and Oscar® winner George Sanders (All About Eve, Village Of The Damned) star in this beloved ‘70s mind-blower about a motorcycle gang who burst from their graves to crush a world of psychedelic hippie pleasures under the wheels of black leather occult mayhem. You’ve got to believe it’s come back: Psychomania – from veteran horror director Don Sharp (Kiss Of The Vampire), the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriters of Horror Express, and featuring some of the wildest cycle stunts of the decade – has now been restored from the only uncut 35mm print in existence and packed with new Bonus Features produced exclusively for this edition.

Psychomania's a wild ride of culty 70's exploitation, a weird mash-up of the the zombie and biker movies of the day with a nice smattering of the occult thrown in, because why not, right? Tom (Nicky Henson, Witchfinder General) is the leader of a UK biker gang known as The living Dead, they have cool names like Hatchet, Gash, Chopped Meat and Hinky plus they're adorned in awesome skull and bones helmets and pretty much ride around and terrorize the populace of the surrounding area, the ginger-haired cutie Abby (Mary Larkin) is his lover, but she has some competition within the gang, the sexy biker chic Jane (Anne Michele, House of Whipchord) who always seems to be at Tom's side.

Tom's mother Mrs. Latham (Beryl Reid, Dr. Phibes Rises Again) dabbles in the occult and seances alongside her mysterious butler Shadwell (George Sanders, Mr. Freeze of the 60's Batman TV series). It's through his mum that he discovers that if he commits suicide believing 100% that he will return, not only be resurrected but he will also become invulnerable to injury, it's a suicide pact with the devil. Of course, it's only a short time before Tom rides straight off a bridge and into the river, his corpse washes up onshore a short distance away. 

At his funeral Tom is buried a bit strangely, no coffin for this guy, nope. He's buried upright straddling his motorcycle dressed in his leathers and helmet, which makes for a great resurrection scenario. You hear the motorcycle rev it's engine and then he bursts forth from the ground like a bat out of Hell. Reuniting with his gang most of the others are only too eager to make the suicide pact with Satan in order to earn immortality. Some are successful, but some lack the faith and just end up dead, not the desired undead status. Soon we have a squad of undead bikers raising Holy Hell on the street, impervious to harm they seem unstoppable but when you make a deal with the Devil surely things are never quite as they appear at the start.

Psychomania (1972) might come up a bit short in terms of nudity and blood and guts but this Eurocult classic does have some great atmosphere which is accentuated by John Cameron's acid-tinged guitar score. For a low budget cheapo it boasts some decent cinematography from Ted Moore (Goldfinger, Clash of the Titans), particularly the haunting opening shots of the bikers in a foggy graveyard, it's very effective at setting a macabre tone. We also have some decent direction from Don Sharp (Curse of the Fly, Witchcraft)and some action-packed motorcycle stunt work,  it really does makes for an entertaining watch with the hi-speed chase scenarios and pursuits, even if I wished it were ramped up with gore and sleaze. . 

Fans of 70's Eurocult and schlock cinema take note, this one's a winner. Sadly, veteran actor George Sanders committed suicide shortly after filming ended, leaving behind a succinct suicide note which read "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.". It's rumored he saw a rough cut of the film in Spain shortly before killing himself, no word on if that contributed to his decision to kill himself. 

DVD: Severin Films present Psychomania (1972) on DVD in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), since the original negative is considered forever lost they sourced it from a surviving uncut 35mm print. All things considered it's a strong presentation with solid colors and a nice layer of film grain. The print is a bit worn with minor print damage but they are rather insignificant and shouldn't detract from your enjoyment. The English Dolby Digital Mono audio sounds fine with only minor snap, crackle and hiss. The dialogue comes through clean, audio effects and the acid-tinged guitar score from John Cameron sound fine. 

This UK cult classic gets some sweet Severin produced extras beginning with the making-of doc 
Return Of The Living Dead (20:25) with interviews with from actors  Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Denis Gilmore, Roy Holder and Rocky Taylor. All participants seem a bit surprised that anyone remembers this obscure zombie biker film, each offering a glimpse into making the film with kind recollections of director Don Sharp and veteran actor George sanders who committed suicide shortly after filming ended. There's also an interview with the composer of the score John Cameron with the Sound Of Psychomania (9:06) featurette, a nice interview with Cameron on composing the enjoyable acid-rock score. An interview with folk singer Harvey Andrews who speaks about performing the tune "Riding Free" in the film only to be replaced by an actor who lip-synced the song, noting that he finger-picked his guitar the actor is strumming, I never even noticed. There's also an appreciative Introduction by Fangoria Editor in Chief Chris Alexander (5:30) and the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:49).  

Special Features:
- Return Of The Living Dead: Interviews with stars Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Denis Gilmore, Roy Holder and Rocky Taylor (25:02)
- Sound Of Psychomania: Interview with Soundtrack composer John Cameron (9:06)
- Riding Free: Interview with Riding Free singer Harvey Andrews (6:25)
- Introduction by Fangoria Editor in Chief Chris Alexander (5:30) 

- Original Theatrical Trailer (2:49) 

Verdict: Psychomania (1972) is a fun 70's slice of Eurocult, a definite product of it's time and while I think the absence of nudity and gore might turn off a few of the not-so adventurous types, I would have loved more gore and sleaze but what we get is fun. I found it to be quite a howl with a terrific acid-rock score, a squad of undead bikers with neat skull and bones helmets terrorizing a small town, what's not to love? If you haven't seen Psychomania (1972) I think you're missing out! 3 Outta 5 

 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

DVD Review: UNSOLVED (2008)

UNSOLVED (2008)

Label: Lost Empire
Region Code: 1
Duration: 88 Minutes 
Video:16:9 Wide Screen (1.78:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Director: Lance McDaniel 
Cast: Lezette Boutin, Jerome Braggs, Amy Briede

Amanda (Lezette Boutin) is among a group of law students assigned to investigate cold cases by her college professor, the case she chooses is a murder which took place fifteen years earlier on her own campus, a young woman was murdered outside her dorm, the killer was never captured. Upon sleuthing the murder she uncovers a few unsavory details, some of which are hitting very close to home for the young woman with a troubled past, even putting herself and friends in harm's way to get to the bottom of the case. 

Not so much a slasher as a thriller with some slasher elements I found Unsolved (2008) to be an entertaining enough micro-budget feature with some decent twists and turns.  While no one here is walking away with the Oscar for a low-budget feature it's fairly strong cast with a dynamic range of characters. The body count is not particularly high but the kills are executed nicely even if the blood isn't pouring off screen. Visually it's well shot with some decent camera movement but the cinematography definitely shows it's micro-budget constraints, contrast is poor and there's no depth to the image, but f you can overlook a handful of cinematic shortcomings this is a decent whodunit with a decent climax which I didn't see coming, very nicely done. Honestly I don't see it having broad appeal but if you find yourself scouring the $1 bin and come across it you could do much worse.  2.5 Outta 5 

Blu-ray Review: MINDWARP (1992)

MINDWARP (1992)

Label: Twilight Time DVD

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: R
Duration: 96 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Steve Barnett
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Amgus Scrimm, Elizabeth Kent

In the year 2037 Earth is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a nuclear war has erased the ozone layer and the few surviving members of humanity are split into three distinct groups. In an area known as the Death Zone we have the cannibalistic mutants known as Crawlers, then we have the non-mutated humans survivors known as Outworlders who survive on a diet of small animals and evade the menace of the Crawlers. The third group are privileged non-mutated humans living in protected biosphere-styled cities known as the Dreamers who spend most of their life plugged into a virtual reality simulator known as Infinisynth. It's here we meet a young woman named Judy (Marta Martin) who is unsatisfied with her plugged-in life, she craves a more meaningful connection to her mother who is only too happy to live out her opera-singer fantasies inside the Infinisynth system. This virtual reality aspect the film had a strong flavor of Total Recall (1990), it's fun stuff and predicted the family disconnect of the digital age where everyone is plugged into their mobile device, gaming systems or blogging about obscure b-movies. Infinisynth is a pleasant distraction from reality, everyone seems quite content to drink their green-slime protein shakes and immerse themselves in the artificial reality of Infinisynth, everyone that is except Judy. 


When Judy's mom refuses to unplug from Infinisynth the young woman infiltrates her mother's virtual dream in an attempt to wake her up with disastrous consequences, her actions anger the mysterious System Operator who operates Infinisynth, resulting in Judy being exiled from the safety of the city into the radioactive wastelands where she wakes up in a shallow grave. Digging herself out she discovers a macabre collection of crucified skeletons and is soon set upon by the cannibalistic Crawlers only to be saved by an crossbow-wielding Outworlder named Stover (Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead) who gets the better of the puss-faced mutants. After rescuing her Stover shows Judy the way of the wastelands, how to hunt and survive, the two hook-up and are soon captured by more Crawlers and taken to an underground lair where they meet the Crawler's leader, a cult leader of sorts with a human-skin mask named The Seer (Angus Scrimm, Phantasm) who plans to breed a new race of Crawlers with Judy, yikes.


Previous to this viewing I had never watched Mindwarp, which happens to be the first of a trio of films Fangoria magazine funded film in the early 1990's. I had read about this film once in a zine, I new it featured Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm but I just never came across the VHS, so it was a nice surprise to see that Twilight Time chose to give it a 1080p release. Evil Dead fans are certainly gonna wanna check this out if just for Campbell's participation, it's definitely a more subdued performance than were used to seeing from him, no quips or one-liners, he plays it pretty straight-faced. Marta Martin as our heroine Judy is pretty decent, but it's hard for here to shine in the presence of Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm, Scrimm is super creepy as the priest-like leader of the Crawlers, she's just not very dynamic. 


Mindwarp (1999) is certainly no lost horror classic but it's an entertaining post-apocalyptic viewing with lots of gore and bloodletting with some fun action sequences, it's nice to see it on Blu-ray. The highlights for me were the great set-dressing and gore effects from KNB which are pretty great. Inside the Crawler lair there's a gnarly human meat-grinder, victims go in one end a syrupy red liquid comes out the other, the Crawler's just love to drink up this grue. There are also mind altering leeches which Stover falls victim to only to vomit them up later, some very fun moments of gore and bloodletting, not a classic but an interesting footnote of early 90's low-budget horror.


Blu-ray: Twilight Time's Blu-ray presents the feature in it's original widescreen (1.78:1) aspect ratio with an AVC encode. A very nice transfer with the film grain intact. nice saturated colors and a pleasing amount of fine detail. The solo audio option is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with optional English subtitles. Dialogue is clean and consistently clear, effects and score are well balanced. 


Special features are limited to a home video commercial for the film and and isolated score track featuring the music of Mark Governor and an eight-page booklet featuring new writing of the film from Twilight Time scribe Julie Kirgo offering some background on the project. 


Verdict: An entertaining post-apocalyptic b-movie with plenty of gore and Mad Max-styled scenery, it's not going to blow your mind but it's great to see this low budget post-apocalyptic adventure on Blu-ray with a nice 1080p presentation. As with all of Twilight Time's Blu-rays this release is limited edition, only 3,000 were pressed, so snag it soon if this sounds like something you want in your collection, available exclusively from www.screenarchives.com 3 Outta 5 



Friday, October 25, 2013

ARROW VIDEO 2014 Titles Announced with Artwork, Extras and Pre-Orders!

 RABID DOGS (1974) 
DUAL FORMAT DVD+BLU-RAY 

Release Date: February 24th 2014
Starring: Lea Lander, George Eastman, Riccardo Cucciolla
Directed by: Mario Bava

Duration: 96
Following difficulties in his career Mario Bava happened across an idea that would enable him to compete with the younger directors lighting up the Italian box office such as Dario Argento and Sergio Martino.

Rabid Dogs begins as $70,000 of wages are being transferred when the Ajaccio gang hit. With a hail of bullets in a quick raid they speed off in their waiting getaway car. Tough, violent and realistic, Bava’s film ramps up the tension and doesn’t stop as hostages are added and the film builds to its dizzying finale.

Unfolding in real time, a rare device seen only in earlier films such as High Noon and 12 Angry Men yet totally unheard of in Italian cinema at the time, Rabid Dogs is a singular film in Bava’s filmography and one of the greatest crime films of the period.

SPECIAL 3-DISC EDITION FEATURES:
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of two versions of the film; ‘Rabid Dogs’ – Bava’s original version posthumously completed from his notes & ‘Kidnapped’ – the re-edited, re-dubbed and re-scored version, supervised by Bava’s son and assistant Lamberto Bava and producer Alfredo Leone
-Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both versions
-Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
-End of the Road: The Making of Rabid Dogs – A documentary featurette including interviews with Lamberto Bava, Alfredo Leone and star Lea Lander
-Original Trailer
-Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Stephen Thrower, a history of the multiple versions of the film from Semaforo Rosso to Rabid Dogs to Kidnapped by Peter Blumenstock, illustrated with original stills and posters
-Much more to be announced!
 BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE (1970) 
DUAL FORMAT DVD+BLU-RAY

Release Date: March 17th 2014

From Teruo Ishii “The King of Cult”, Blind Woman’s Curse (also known as Black Cat’s Revenge) is a thrilling Yakuza film featuring eye-popping visuals, thrilling samurai fight sequences and thegorgeous Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood, Stray Cat Rock), in her first major role.

Akemi (Kaji) is a dragon tattooed leader of the Tachibana Yakuza clan. In a duel with a rival gang Akemi slashes the eyes of an opponent and a black cat appears, to lap the blood from the gushing wound. The cat along with the eye-victim go on to pursue Akemi’s gang in revenge, leaving a trail of dead Yakuza girls, their dragon tattoos skinned from their bodies.

A bizarre blend of the female Yakuza film and traditional Japanese ghost story, with a strong dash of grotesque-erotica (the same movement was a sensibility of Edogawa Rampo whose works were adapted by Ishii in Horrors of Malformed Men), Blind Woman’s Curse is a delirious mash-up of classic genre tropes, to which Ishii was no stranger having directed everything from Super Giant films to Biker movies!

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region 2/B
RRP £19.99

 PIT STOP (1969) 
DUAL FORMAT DVD+BLU-RAY

Release Date: March 31st 2014

RAW GUTS FOR GLORY! FLESH AGAINST STEEL!

The most dangerous game ever devised, to pit man against man, flesh against steel – the figure-8 race! Jack Hill (Coffy, Foxy Brown) follows up Spider Baby, once again teaming up with Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses) in one of his greatest roles for this action-spectacular crash-o-rama!

Richard Davalos (East of Eden) stars as Rick Bowman, a street punk who winds up in jail after a street race goes wrong. Bailed out by race promoter Grant Willard, Davalos is put in the deadly track where he comes up against Haig’s maniacal winner Hawk Sidney. Featuring an outstanding supporting cast including Brian Donlevy (The Quatermass Xperiment) in his last film appearance, Ellen Burstyn, billed as Ellen McRae (The Exorcist) and Beverly Washburn (Spider Baby) Pit Stop is one of Hill’s lesser known films but arguably his greatest.

Filmed on a real figure-8 track, Hill and his crew were able to capture gripping real-life car wreck scenes lending the film a brilliant sense of realism. You’ve never seen a motion picture like this before – can you take it?

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region B/2
RRP £24.99

 FRIVOLOUS LOLA (1998) 
DUAL FORMAT DVD+BLU-RAY 

Release Date: February 10th 2014

One of the sunniest of Tinto Brass’s erotic comedies, this sets its breezy tone from the opening scene in which Lola (Anna Ammirati) cycles around a small Po Valley town in a flapping skirt that leaves nothing to the imagination.

But it’s the 1950s, and her baker fiancée Masetto (Max Parodi) is determined that Lola remains a virgin until their wedding night. However, she is equally set on establishing whether or not he’s a good lover before they tie the knot. His dough-kneading technique seems promising, but how can she be sure without an expert to compare him with? In short, can Masetto live up to the erotic ideals professed by Lola’s mother’s lover (Patrick Mower)?

Fortunately, the outwardly innocent town turns out to be a hotbed of licentiousness, with opportunities for voyeurism and maybe more around every corner - all in the interests of self-improving research, of course.

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region B/2
RRP £19.99

 HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN (1988) 
DUAL FORMAT DVD+BLU-RAY

Release Date: January 27th 2014
With the 20th Century drawing to a close, nuclear war has wiped out civilization as we know it. The embattled human race’s last remaining hope lies with one man and his loaded weapon.

Sam Hell may be an ex-con, but he also happens to be one of the last surviving fertile men on the planet. Now, under the custody of a group of feisty female fighters, Sam finds himself enlisted on a mission to impregnate a harem of beauties. Sounds cushy enough, but the ladies in question are prisoners of Frogtown – home to a gang of mutant (and ill-mannered) amphibians!

Starring wrestler-turned-actor Rowdy Roddy Piper, known to John Carpenter enthusiasts for his body-slamming and bubblegum-chewing antics in They Live, Hell Comes to Frogtown is unashamedly a B-movie through and through with more guns and girls than you can shake a frog’s leg at.

Special Features:
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
-Grappling with Green Gargantuans: Wrestling icon "Rowdy" Roddy Piper speaks about his leading man turn in Hell Comes to Frogtown
-Amphibian Armageddon: Actor Brian Frank remembers his role as Commander Toty
-Creature Feature Creator: Effects wizard Steve Wang reveals the secrets behind Hell Comes to Frogtown's mutant manifestations
-Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Jeff Zornow
-Original Trailer
-Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Calum Waddell

Region 2/B
rrp £19.99
 SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (1951) BLU-RAY


Release Date: March 10th 2014

VERONICA LAKE’S ON THE TAKE

Director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is one of Hollywood’s hottest talents, with an uncanny gift for getting audiences rolling in the aisles. But he’s dissatisfied: he wants to abandon comedy for Serious Statements, and buys the rights to celebrated social-realist novel ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’

To make his masterpiece as realistic as possible, Sullivan naturally has to understand how the book’s downtrodden characters must have felt, so he takes to the road as a hobo, is taken under the wing of a failed actress (Veronica Lake), and learns several valuable home truths about the importance of not patronising his audience.

Writer-director Preston Sturges had an inspired run in the 1940s, turning out some of the funniest American comedies ever made (The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek). Sullivan’s Travels is one of his best: not just hilarious but also truly wise.

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region B
RRP £24.99

 PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974) BLU-RAY

Release Date: February 17th 2014

Brian De Palma’s inspired rock’n’roll fusion of Faust, The Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Gray boasts an Oscar-nominated score by Paul Williams, who also stars as an evil record producer who not only steals the work of composer/performer Winslow Leach (William Finley) but gets him locked up in Sing Sing - and that’s not the worst that happens to him along the way.

Few revenge scenarios have ever been so amply justified, but the film is also constantly aware of the satirical possibilities offered by the 1970s music industry, exemplified by Gerrit Graham’s hilariously camp glam-rock star. Jessica Harper (Suspiria) appears in her first major role as the naïve but ambitious singer, on whom Winslow secretly dotes.

Prodigiously inventive both musically and visually, this is one of De Palma’s most entertaining romps, not least because it was so clearly a labour of love.

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region B
RRP £24.99

WHITE OF THE EYE (1987) 

DUAL FORMAT BLU-RAY+DVD

Release Date: March 24th 2014

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HUNTER AND A KILLER …IS HIS PREY

A serial killer is on the loose in and around the small community of Globe, Arizona, and housewife Joan White (Cathy Moriarty) gradually comes to suspect that her opera-loving hi-fi engineer husband Paul (David Keith) might know more than he’s letting on...

So far so familiar, but in the hands of British visionary Donald Cammell (who wrote and co-directed Performance with Nicolas Roeg), the film becomes a dazzling kaleidoscope of images and ideas, spanning everything from Apache folklore, desert landscapes and stylish murder set-pieces that recall Dario Argento to a painfully vivid dissection of the emotional fissures undermining a modern marriage. It’s all set to an equally eclectic score co-written by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason.

Described by the distinguished critic David Thomson as "one of the great secret works in cinema", White of the Eye is one of the most bizarre and unforgettable thrillers ever made.

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region 2/B
RRP £24.99

 HELLGATE (1990) 
DUAL FORMAT DVD+BLU-RAY 

Release Date: January 27th 2014

BEYOND THE DARKNESS TERROR LIVES FOREVER

Legends abound of ‘The Hellgate Hitchhiker’. So the story goes, a beautiful young woman was once brutally defiled and murdered by a biker gang. Now, returned from the dead, she wanders the roadside luring unsuspecting motorists to their doom…

Refusing to heed the warnings of locals, a group of college friends set out on a cross-country road trip looking for fun and frolics. But they get much more than they bargained for when they wind up in the abandoned mining town of Hellgate and hemmed in by hordes of the undead!

Providing gore and gags in equal measure, Hellgate recalls the good old days of early 90s fright flicks and challenges other gleefully twisted flicks such as Re-animator and Return of the Living Dead for sheer grisly delirium!

Special Features:
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the main feature
-Road to Perdition, B-Movie Style: An extensive interview with Hellgate director William A. Levey
-Alien Invasion, Blaxploitation and Ghost-Busting Mayhem: Scholar, Filmmaker and fan Howard S. Berger reflects on the intriguing film career of William A. Levey
-Video Nasty: Kenneth Hall, writer of the Puppet Master series, speaks about the direct-to-video horror boom that allowed Hellgate to become a classic of the cassette rental era
-Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
-Collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Lee Gambin, illustrated with original artwork and stills

Region 2/B
RRP £19.99

 CHEEKY (2000)
DUAL FORMAT DVD+ BLU-RAY

Release Date: March 10th 2013
When free-spirited beauty Carla (Yuliya Mayarchuk) moves to London, her search for a flat leads to a lesbian seduction by estate agent Moira (Francesca Nunzi), much to the horror of Carla’s boyfriend Matteo (Jarno Berardi) still stuck in their native Venice. And then he discovers a cache of letters from an ex-boyfriend, accompanied by a highly revealing and very public photograph of her...

Ravishingly shot in two of the world’s great cities, bouncily scored by Pino Donaggio, and crammed with wall-to-wall nudity and casual sexual flings, Cheeky is as lighthearted as its title suggests, but it’s subtler and more philosophical than the average sex romp.

In particular, it’s a genuinely moving look at problems arising when a desire to remain scrupulously faithful collides with the lure of baser instincts. Carla genuinely loves Matteo, but how can she reassure him when he spots temptation around every corner?

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region B/2
RRP £19.99
THE STUFF (1985) 

BLU-RAY+ DVD

Starring: Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris
Directed by: Larry Cohen
Rating: 15

Overview: Are you eating it ...or is it eating you?

The Stuff is the new dessert taking supermarket shelves by storm. It’s delicious, low in calories and – better still – doesn’t stain the family carpet… What’s not to like?! Well, for a start it has a life of its own, and we’re not talking friendly live bacteria…

Young Jason seems to be the only one who doesn’t love The Stuff – in fact he won’t go anywhere near it, after having seen the pudding crawling around the fridge one night. What’s more, everyone who eats The Stuff has started acting really weird... Now, teaming up with wise-cracking industrial saboteur “Mo”, Jason must put a stop to The Stuff and the organisation behind it or face a gooey, gloopy demise.

Coming courtesy of horror auteur Larry Cohen (director of the It’s Alive series and scribe behind the Maniac Cop trilogy), The Stuff is a titillating treat for the taste-buds which blends elements of films such as Street Trash with the straight-up B-movie flavour of The Blob. So grab a spoon and dig on into The Stuff – the taste that delivers… much more than you bargained for!

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region 2/B
RRP £24.99

THE KILLERS (1964) BLU-RAY

Release Date: February 24th 2014

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO KILL A MAN…

"I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run. Why all of a sudden he'd rather die."

So muses hitman Charlie (Lee Marvin) after his high-priced victim Johnny North (John Cassavetes) gives in without a fight. Obsessed with the answer, Charlie and his hot-headed associate Lee (Clu Gulager) track down Johnny's associates, and uncover a complex web of crime and deceit involving his femme fatale girlfriend Sheila (Angie Dickinson) and ruthless mob boss Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan in his last screen role).

Loosely inspired by the Ernest Hemingway story, and directed by Don Siegel (whose many other taut, efficient thrillers include Dirty Harry and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers), The Killers was commissioned as the very first 'TV movie', but was given a cinema release because of its violence - although a cast like that really belonged on the big screen in the first place.

Special Features:
-New high definition digital transfer
-Newly commissioned artwork
-Collector’s booklet
-More to be announced!

Region B
RRP £24.99

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blu-ray Review: THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES (1973)

THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES (1973) 


Label: Severin Films
Region Code: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 88 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 
Video: 1080 Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Paul Harrison
Cast: John Ireland, John Carradine, Faith Domerque
Tagline: Eight graves! Seven bodies! One killer… and he’s already dead!

The cult 70's drive-in chiller The House of Seven Corpses (1973) opens with a witchy looking Gayle Dorian (Faith Domerque, Legacy of Blood) performing what appears to be a satanic conjuring of some sort in a room with Satanic symbols on the floor, suddenly weird things start to happen and just when we think something strange and supernatural might happen we hear a director scream "Cut!", irritated that someone has ruined the scene. Yup, it's all been a sort of cheat on the us, the audience, there's no Satanic ritual taking place just a low budget film crew struggling to finish a low budget production.

Director Eric Hartman (John Ireland, Satan's Cheerleaders) and a small film crew have arrived at an old spooky mansion with a storied past to recreate the mysterious deaths that occurred at that very same place years earlier, seven members of the Beal family met tragic ends. On-set we have the middle-aged actress Gayle Dorian (Domerque), an alcoholic thespian Christopher Millan (Charles Macauley, Three O'Clock High), the younger starlet Anne (Carol Welles, The Cheap Detective) and the hero David (Jerry Strickler). It's a fun cast, Gayle's demanding and unhappy with her fading career, her leading man Christopher is a pompous lush and the is just trying to get this low budget movie made, but life ain't easy for indie filmmakers. The mansion is maintained by the creepy caretaker Edgar Price (John Carradine, The Howling) who interrupts numerous takes with stories about the deaths that occurred at the mansion, all of which we get to see during a fantastic and gruesome opening credit sequences, it's a fun montage and probably the most entertaining sequence in the entire film, talk about blowing your load early!


Not only does the director have to deal with the daily struggle of keeping the low budget production on schedule and dealing with a bitchy cast but he experience more difficulties than he could have imagined when one of the actors recite passages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Wouldn't you know it, the reading of the words actually resurrect a ghoul from the nearby graveyard who wreaks a terrible horror on the film crew. That's pretty much the whole story right there, a small crew shoot a film at haunted mansion, a zombie is resurrected and people start dying, that's it. It's a low budget drive-in cheapie with a fun veteran cast, plus it's always a blast to see Carradine in one of these 70's schlockers.

My favorite part of this 70's drive-in flick would be the film-within-a-film aspect, the small crew struggling with temperamental actors and weird happenings to get their low budget film made, eventually they wind up the victims of a supernatural force and it's good goofy fun, definitely the junk food of b-movie cinema. Watching it I was reminded of the late night chiller TV shows I would watch as a kid, fun stuff. 

Blu-ray: The House of Seven Corpses (1973) comes to Blu-ray with an AVC encoded in 1080p widescreen (1.85:1), the print is well worn and bares the scars of a well screened print. There are scratches, burn marks, print damage and a nice heavy layer of grain, the first reel looks the particularly bad but it improves and is quite watchable. Transferred in hi-def from original vault materials it's the best we're gonna get for this 70's drive-in obscurity, while there's some fading the colors seem pretty accurate, the transfer even affording some modest depth and occasional fine detail and texture. Darker scenes are murky and grain-heavy. 

The English language DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 is decent, the atmospheric score sounds very nice, dialogue was a bit of a chore to decipher at times, the levels dropping low occasionally and there's some distortion when the screaming starts, overall a decent if unremarkable audio presentation that compliments the visuals.

Extras start with an audio commentary from Associate Producer Gary Kent Moderated By The Alamo Drafthouse’s Lars Nilsen, and it's a fun track with a lot of bits of trivia about the location, production and cast. There's also a half-hour video interview with actor John Carradine recorded in 1983. He speaks about his film career and seems downright annoyed that people are so fascinated by his work in horror films, which make-up only a fraction of his 400 plus films. He speaks of working on a few of the later Dracula films for Universal and Joe Dante's The Howling (1981). The quality of the video seems like it's sourced from a 3rd generation VHS but it's a great watch, Carradine is a gifted storyteller as he speaks about his relationships with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. When questioned about his favorite horror film he names the silent classic The Golem (1920). The last extra on the disc is a rough looking trailer plus we get a DVD disc which mirrors the feature and extras on the Blu-ray. 

Special Features: 
- Rare Archive Interview With Star John Carradine (28:03)
-Audio Commentary With Associate Producer Gary Kent Moderated By The Alamo Drafthouse’s Lars Nilsen
-Theatrical Trailer (2:08)

Verdict: The House of Seven Corpses (1973) is a fun low budget 70's haunted house flick with a neat film-within-a-film element which I loved, there's also some decent atmosphere and a creepy score that enhance the proceedings. It's no masterpiece of genre cinema but it's definitely a fun slice of cult drive-in cinema that should appeal to fans of late night chiller TV from the 70's and early 80's. Gotta love Severin Films for digging deep for these cult gems and putting the love that they do into polishing 'em up with some decent extras, love it. 3.5 Outta 5