Sunday, June 29, 2014

THE FINAL TERROR (1983)

THE FINAL TERROR (1983) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
MPAA Rating: R
Duration: 82 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono with Optional Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Andrew Davis
Cast: Adrian Zmed, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Wood, Mark Metcalf, Ernest Harden Jr., Joe Pantoliano, John Friedrich



In the vintage backwoods slasher THE FINAL TERROR (1983) a group of troubled youth head into the wilderness to clean-up the woods and and some naughty good times with minimal adult supervision and a demented bus driver. As the day wears on the smoke some grass and go skinny-dipping, before they settle down for the night for the traditional campfire tale of an escaped mental patient and her incestuous offspring with the expected jump scare at the end. what these teens don't know is that there's actually a killer is actually lurking among the trees with an uncanny ability to blend into the surroundings. The camouflage  aspect is a cool addition as the killer is creep up on the campers without notice. It's not long before the group realize that certain members have wandered from the camp and have not returned and then the heads start to roll. The creepy killer stalks the woods using a unique bladed weapon to dispatch the horny teens one at a time to great effect - even if the kills themselves are not super-gory the set-ups are quite decent.

Set in the majestic redwood forest the film sets-up some great views with some skillful cinematography - it a better shot film than most of the slashers of the time. The film is a kindred spirit to other survival-horror films JUST BEFORE DAWN and RITUALS and is on par and maybe slightly better than either. Director Andrew Davis performed second duty as the cinematographer on set and would go on to direct the mega-blockbuster THE FUGITIVE with Harrison Ford - even at this stage of his career you can see the quality of his craft and the film benefits from it.

THE FINAL TERROR is an eerie and slow-burn with some sweet visceral violence but apparently the producers thought it was so slow they put it on a shelf for a few years until Daryl Hannah made it big with BLADE RUNNER. Hoping to exploit the star's minor role in this entry the producers tagged on an unnecessary prologue which awkwardly bumped up the body count by two. The handful of remaining deaths are not gory in execution but the set-ups are tense and quite effective. One scene that stands out is the assault on the bus with the killer smashing in the windows in an attempt to get at the teens inside - a very atmospheric and tense situation.

The cast is top notch with a slew of first-timers and future stars including a pre-BLADE RUNNER Daryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano (MEMENETO) plus the douche from ANIMAL HOUSE. Everyone turns in a solid performance even if most of the young ladies don't have meaty roles. The standout here is Pantoliano as the agitated bus driver who seems a bit off from the beginning and only gets worse as the film roles along before disappearing for a large chunk of the movie.

The original negative and film elements are thought to be lost so what Scream Factory have done here is stitched together a new HD master from six prints of the film sourced from collectors. Keeping that in mind I found the image to be surprisingly consistent throughout though marred by flickering and other imperfections such as vertical lines,, cigarette burns and speckling. Whatever digital manipulation used to clean-up the film we are left with a fairly consistent grain structure with some minor depth and fine detail in certain scenes. The only audio option is the DTS-HD Master Audio Mono which is clean and  does a good job of exporting the dialogue and Susan Justin's eerie synth score including a great main title theme. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided on the disc. 

Special features on the disc include a new audio commentary with director Andrew Davis who speaks at length about the cast and location with a few fun anecdotes about the production such as how the prologue added by producer Samuel Z. Arkoff ended up paying for his wedding. There are also new interviews with actors Adrien Zmed and Lewis Smith plus the husband and wife duo of production supervisor Allan Holzman and composer Susan Justin. .

THE FINAL TERROR is strong backwoods slasher with an interesting killer and a creepy vibe set in the gorgeous redwood forest. This gets a definite recommend for fans of the kindred RITUALS and JUST BEFORE DAWN who are looking for an above average slasher entry with some strong survival-horror elements. 






Saturday, June 28, 2014

GINGER SNAPS (2000)

GINGER SNAPS (2000) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 108 Minutes 
MPAA Rating: Unrated 
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: John Fawcett
Cast: Mimi Rogers, Kris Lemche, Jesse Moss, Katharine Isabelle, Emily Perkins

GINGER SNAPS (2000) follows the exploits of a pair of death-obsessed sisters in the suffering in the suburbs. The spooky young ladies are outcasts from even the freaks at school - they're the darker versions of Lydia from BEETLEJUICE. Not having friends leaves them plenty of time to  plan their suicide pact and stage morbid death scene Polaroids. The younger sister Bridgette (Emily Perkins, JUNO) is the mousier one of the pair, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle, TV's HANNIBAL) is a bit more aggressive and confrontational. On the night that Ginger receives the Curse - her period -  Ginger is attacked by a monstrous beast that drags her into the woods screaming. Torn up and bleeding profusely she escape the creature when the local drug dealer (Kris Lemche, FINAL DESTINATION 3) splatters it across the from of his minivan. Fleeing the scene Bridget arrives home with  Ginger bear death but whose wound start to mysteriously heal. Afterward she begins to sprout hair in weird places and her personality changes. Almost overnight she is transformed and quickly becomes an object of lust while her cravings and desires spin wildly out of control. What she at first mistakes for sexual desires is actually a deep hunger for flesh meat. As Ginger deals with her period and cravings for meat her sister Bridget must stop her sister's murderous impulses while dealing with losing her best friend and her mother's kind-hearted interference. 


The film has the unique perspective of a menstruating young woman struggling to find her identity while going through a very odd supernatural change in personality and form. Her sister struggles to curb her new murderous instincts which becomes more difficult. The cast is superb, I completely believed these two were sisters in the way they fought and fed off each other. Mimi Rogers as the mom struggles to connect with her weird daughters  - she even encourages their morbid hobbies - but they don't make it easy and towards the end is quite fun the length of which mom would go to protect her daughters. When they do reach out  to her for advice about boys it's only a ploy to distract her from the bodies hidden around the house. The father is in the picture but his presence is minimal and ineffectual - the focus here is on the women and they're bond.   


As a character driven slice of horror cinema this is prime stuff with a lot of nuance and some nice character development however the effects are a bit shaky. Ginger's subtle transformations are handled quite nicely as she grows a tail and her nails grow. Her eyes change color and facial features are altered and she develops multiple nipples along her abdomen. All that was nicely done but the final transformation is pretty weak sauce - but this is not your standard issue werewolf flick and it rises above this shortcoming. The characters are what drive the story which is good as the shaved-cat sort of rubber suit was awful. There's some great squeamish moments peppered throughout - this is after all a body horror film to some degree. 


At times I was reminded of HEATHERS in that GINGER SNAPS has it's own witty goth-infused high school vernacular - it sets a tone and atmosphere and carries it through consistently. We have some nice moments of gore and black humor sprinkled throughout with an abundance of blood, dead pets and some guy pissing blood - because as it turns out lycanthropy is sexually transmitted and Ginger's out of control sexual urges prove problematic. 


GINGER SNAPS (2000) arrives on Collector's Edition Blu-ray+DVD from Scream Factory presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio. There's a nice layer of fine film grain t with strong color reproduction and shadow detail, a very nice upgrade from the standard-def DVD. Audio options include an English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 fand DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with optional English subtitles. 


Some great extras from Scream Factory beginning with an hour plus documentary about the making of the film with director John Fawcett, writer Karen Walton, actors Emily Perkins and Jesse Moss, Producer Steve Hoban, Make-up Effects artist Paul Jones, Composer Mike Shields and Editor Brett Sullivan. This goes in-depth from the script process, pre-production, the production and the reception of the film - very solid. 


At just under a half hour there's a panel discussion with Rebekah McKendry (FANGORIA), Axelle Carolyn (CENTURION), journalist Heide Honeycutt and Kristy Jett from HORRORHOUND discussing feminist puberty-horror and it's quite an interesting discussion with mentions TEETH, CARRIE, MAY, IN THE COMPANY OF WOLVES and even MARTIN.


There are also deleted scene with optional commentary, two audio commentaries from the writer and director, three vintage featurettes, cast audition tapes, a trailer and TV spots. A pretty stuffed edition from Scream Factory on top of a nice looking 1080p upgrade which comes with a slip cover and a reversible sleeve of artwork. 


Special Features:
- NEW interviews with director John Fawcett, writer Karen Walton, actors Emily Perkins and Jesse Moss, Producer Steve Hoban, Make-up Effects artist Paul Jones, Composer Mike Shields and Editor Brett Sullivan (66 Mins)
- NEW Women in Horror panel discussing GINGER SNAPS (27 Mins)
- Audio Commentary with Director John Fawcett
- Audio Commentary with Writer Karen Walton
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by John Fawcett and Karen Walton (25 Mins)
- The Making of GINGER SNAPS - Vintage Featurette (5 Mins)
- Creation of the Beast - Vintage Featurette (5 Mins)
- Being John Fawcett- Vintage Featurette (2 Mins)
- Cast Auditions and Rehearsals (18 Mints)
- Theatrical Trailers (4 Mins)
- TV Spots
-Production Design Artwork Photo Gallery


GINGER SNAPS (2000) is one my favorite millennium horror films with a unique take on the werewolf lore mixed in with a demented coming-of-age story about two death-obsessed sisters. 
The disc comes out on July 22nd from Scream Factory and I hope this release pleases fans and opens it up a wider audience - this is a high recommend. 


Friday, June 27, 2014

LAKE PLACID (1999)

LAKE PLACID (1999) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 82 Minutes 
Rating: R
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0,  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Platt

LAKE PLACID (1999) is a damn fun creature feature, more a comedy than straight-up horror but it's loaded with some sweet gore and genuine moments of suspense but make no mistake about it though for sarcasm and wit are the cold-blooded heart of this reptilian beast. We begin with a great scene as a deputy is chomped in half while inspecting a beaver dam - no that's not a euphemism. At first it it theorized that it could have been one of those underwater grizzly bears stalking the depths of Black Lake. The sheriff  dismisses this retarded thought and it's soon quite clear that a man-eating monster crocodile is terrorizing the calm waters but no one has any idea just how massive this beast actually is.


A small group set out to track and capture the beast, we have Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson, IN BRUGES), Fish and Game officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman, ID4) and American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda, JACKIE BROWN) who is woefully and hilariously out of her element among the mosquito and worms. Also joining in on the croc crusade is a pompous mythology professor who moonlights as a weird crocodile whisperer Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt, X-MEN:FIRST CLASS) plus various red-shirt types who end up as headless croc-chum. The secret weapon of the cast is the foul-mouthed Betty White (TV's GOLDEN GIRLS) who made a name for herself in the past few years as a nasty granny but this was the first time we saw her turn blue in a hilarious turn as a nutty blue hair who turns out to be at fault for the reptilian plague.

The humor elements works for me, much of it derived from the interactions of the characters ore so than clumsy prat falls - it makes for a fun watch. The pompous Hector constantly talks down to the small town sheriff who is no fan of the sarcasm that routinely falls out of the mouth of just about everyone who's not him. Pullman's a bit dry compared to the rest of the cast - maybe a bit miscast - but he does just fine as the straight man with a wry sense of humor. Platt and Gleeson are a fun adversarial duo regularly trading barbs and one line stingers. 

The now 15 year-old special effects hold-up surprisingly well including some early stage digital effects. Miner went with a mix of digital and practical effects with the vast majority being old school physical in-camera stuff much to the benefit of the film. None other than Stan Winston (JURASSIC PARK) created the 30 ft. animation croc used in the film and it's a stunner of a beast. Watching the extras I was surprised to learn the cow on the helicopter sling was animatronic which blew my mind - I thought that was a real heifer! The are some great moments of gore -   they start off strong with the initial kill as the deputy is torn in half and lifted from the water into a boat - his entrails hanging from his torso - this is some good stuff. 


The film failed to find audiences in theaters back in 1999 with it's odd mix of comedy and horror - the studio just didn't know how to market such a film - they seem to have a hard time with these genre benders. Not horror enough for the gore-hounds and not comedic enough for the comedy lovers but as I sat in my seat watching this fifteen years ago I was quite a happy camper and revisiting again over a decade later it holds-up just fine. 


The Blu-ray from Scream Factory looks quite nice which is not too surprising given this is one of the more recent films they've given the Collector's Edition treatment to. The source element used for the HD master looks great with only the most minimal of white specks. The grain structure is intact but the fine detail is not as strong I would have hoped for from a newer film. We do get some moderate depth and clarity to the image and the color reproduction is strong, the black levels are pleasing and the contrast is fine - overall a solid 1080p transfer in the original widescreen aspect ratio. . 


Audio options include the choice of English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround. The surround track is quite nice with a good dynamic range and some good use of the surrounds. The score seems a little high in the mix from time to time and I  found myself adjusting the volume quite a bit throughout - optional English subtitles are provided. 


Onto the extras we have a half-hour making of  featurette with new interviews from director Steve Miner, actor Bill Pullman, director of photography Daryn Okada, editor Marshall Harvey, Production Designer John Willett, Effects supervisor Nick Marra and Puppeteer Toby Lindala mixed in with clips from the film, quite a decent watch with lots of production notes and fun anecdotes. My favorite stories are of the foul-mouthed Betty White and the story of the trained bear on-set who spotted the 30 ft. animatronic croc and turned tail -- scared to death of the behemoth -- haha. 


We also have a 5-minute vintage featurette, animatronic test footage, trailer and TV spots. A very nice set of features and the disc comes with slip cover and reversible artwork with the option of the original poster art or a new illustration from R.P. "Kung Fu" O'Brien.

Special Features:
- The Making of LAKE PLACID featuring new interviews with director Steve Miner, actor Bill Pullman, director of photography Daryn Okada, editor Marshall Harvey, Production Designer John Willett, Effects supervisor Nick Marra and Puppeteer Toby Lindala (31:20) 
- Vintage Featurette featuring interviews with actors Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Oliver Platt, Brendon Gleason, Bette White and director Steve Miner (5:38) 
- Behind the Scenes Still Gallery - 40 Images  (5:41) 
- Animatronic Croc Test Footage (7:21) 
- 3 TV Spots (1:34) 
- Theatrical Trailer (1:58) 

Glad to see LAKE PLACID get the Scream Factory treatment with a definitive Blu-ray. Director Steve Miner (HOUSE) crafted a fun piece of popcorn entertainment loaded with gore and some decent suspense plus a ton of sarcastic wit. This is the comfort food of creature features and it hangs quite comfortably with ARACHNOPHOBIA and DEEP BLUE SEA which tread the same water but LAKE PLACID does it way better. 


SCREAM FACTORY EXCLUSIVE HALLOWEEN LITHOGRAPH REVEALED!

Psyched to receive this email today from SCREAM FACTORY!

Thank you for being one of the 500 customers who preordered the upcoming Halloween: The Complete Collection Blu-ray set early. With this purchase, you will be receiving a free, limited edition 14” x 36” litho of the design you see here—an extended “Haddonfield” setting illustrated by artist Paul Shipper (who also created the artwork for the collection). We hope you enjoy it.

Street date for the set is September 23rd. The litho will ship along with it, rolled in a tube.

'BLACK ANGEL' and 3 More TINTO BRASS titles on the way to Blu-ray on 8/12 from CULT EPICS

BLACK ANGEL (2002) 



Label: Cult Epics
Release Date: August 12th 2014
Duration: 124 Minutes 

Language: Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 with English subtitles
Video: Color Widescreen 1.78:1
Production Year: 2002 

Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Tinto Brass
Stars: Anna Galiena


In 1945 Italy, Livia (Anna Galiena), the bored wife of an Italian official, 

recalls the taboo affair she has been having with a much younger Nazi lieutenant (Gabriel Garko). The elation of her middle-aged sexual 
awakening is soon diminished when she discovers that her lover's 
intentions are far from honest. Ashamed and betrayed, she must make 
the difficult decision to resolve her devastating erotic entanglement.

Tinto Brass reminds us why he is a master of his art. The lush and 
sentimental Ennio Morricone score beautifully complements the striking cinematography that contrasts the bliss of a woman's rediscovery with a society ravaged by war. This is Camillo Boito's 1882 novella Senso as 
only maestro-of-erotica Tinto Brass could tell it. Cult Epics is proud to 
present this contemporary classic drama on Blu-ray for the first time in the U.S. 

Bonus Features:
- The Making of Black Angel
- Black Angel Promo
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Video Gallery
- Motion Picture Soundtrack


TINTO BRASS: MAESTRO OF EROTIC CINEMA 

4 Disc Blu-Ray Box Set + DVD

Label: Cult Epics
Release Date: August 12th 2014
Duration: 439 Minutes
Language: Italian and English 
Dolby Digital 5.1 with English subtitles

Video: Color Widescreen 1.78:1  
Region: ALL
Production Years: 2000/2002/2003/2005/2014
Genre: Erotica MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Tinto Brass

Stars: Anna Galiena, Anna Jimskaia, Yuliya Mayarchuk, Franco Branciaroli
Cult Epics presents in new high-definition transfers, four of Tinto Brass most delightful, erotic films of recent years: Cheeky!, Black Angel, Private, Monamour, plus the documentary Tinto Brass: Maestro Of Erotica Cinema, featuring an in-depth Interview with the Maestro himself reflecting on his full career, illustrated with rare footage.

Bonus Features: 
- New Restored High-Definition Transfers
- Tinto Brass HD Trailers
- Photo Video Galleries
- Making Of Featurettes
- Widescreen Versions (16x9 Enhanced)
- Bonus DVD Documentary: Tinto Brass: Maestro Of Erotic Cinema
- 40-Page Collectible Booklet




































THE PERFECT HOUSE Horror Anthology Coming to DVD with SLEEPAWAY CAMP's Felissa Rose & Jonathan Tiersten


'THE PERFECT HOUSE' 

Starring Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten
Coming to DVD July 22nd from Wild Eye Releasing

Wild Eye Releasing has announced that The Perfect House, the anthology horror film from Kris Hulbert and Randy Kent, will make its long-awaited DVD release on July 22nd. Starring Sleepaway Camp's Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten and Return of the Living Dead's John Philbin, The Perfect House will finally be available to own after a multi-city theatrical tour and screenings at film festivals and horror events across the country.



The film has been hailed as a "love letter to classic and modern horror" (Just Press Play) and having "enough gore for ten movies" (Crosstalk New York). The Perfect House won awards at several fests, including Best Visual Effects and Best Actor at the Underdog Festival and Best Feature at the Scarlet Waters Film Fest.


The Perfect House is an anthology inspired by the styles of three of the most famous time periods and sub genres of horror. Each vignette reveals a dark side to suburban anonymity through three different homeowners of the same house. A young couple are now looking to buy the house, but the violent acts of the previous doomed occupants are reawakened for them to experience. Now they must escape or become part of the legacy of pain that lives in the basement, and possesses anyone who stays too long.


The Perfect House (Official DVD trailer) 

The DVD release of The Perfect House (SRP $14.95) will exclusively include over two hours of bonus features: behind the scenes featurettes, cast interviews, footage from the national theatrical tour, special effects featurettes, and footage and an alternate ending. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TOURIST TRAP (1979)

TOURIST TRAP (1979)
Label: Full Moon Features
Region Code: A
Duration: 85 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: David Scmoeller

Cast: Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Keith McDermott, Dawn Jeffory, Jon Van Ness, Robin Sherwood, Tanya Roberts

A group of teens on a road trip through Texas breakdown on the side of the road and end up at the abandoned Slausen's Desert Oasis where the girls skinny-dip at a small water oasis before the gun-toting proprietor Mr. Slausen shows up and warns them not to wander at night for there are dangers in the area. Offering them refuge at his run down wax museum for the night the teens are picked off one at a time by the telekinetic weirdo brother of Mr. Salusen.


This is a creepy PG chiller that scared the bejeezus outta me as a kid but didn't do much for me this time around. Chuck Connors is alright here as the troubled proprietor of a was museum on the decline giving a creepy performance - he does crazy pretty well. The killer here is telepathically gifted and likes to put on deadly puppets shows with the mannequins on the property - some of which are quite creepy and the shrill cackling that accompanies the performances are unnerving.

The group of teens is pretty serviceable with a decent final girl. Molly (Jocelyn Jones, THE ENFORCER) doesn't break any new ground or offers anything new - not a particularly strong character she's a bit on the mousy of things. I was hoping Becky (Tanya Roberts, BEASTMASTER) would be the final girl. What a hottie and totally rocking a pair of cut-off jean shorts and a very full halter-top - when she had to go I was devastated.

The effects are pretty low-budget but effective for the time. we have lots of animated mannequins with hinged jaws used to great effect. Mr. Slalusen's wax mask is super eerie and makes for fantastic poster art. Bob Burns who worked on Tobe Hooper's TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE does some effects and set-dressing here and it is similarly sparse and dark.  

The new Blu-ray from Full Moon features a new HD master of the film and the 1080p upgrade affords this low-budget chiller a bit more texture and better color reproduction with a slightly sharper edge. It does have a few issues beginning with a very soft and gauzy shooting style which doesn't create the most razor-sharp image for the format. Also the grain structure seems a bit odd from time to time - mostly in the very first scene - it just seems off. Add to that a weird mirroring effect seen in the lower right hand of the image when Woody is rolling the flat tire. After this initial scene the grain is more pleasing and natural. 


Additionally much has been made of this Blu-ray missing about five minute of footage. It's been a good long while since I've watched the DVD but I can't say that I am such a fan that I could tell you what was excised. The reasons for it's absence  have never been definitely explained but both Charles Band and director David Schmoeller have differing opinions on that. Schmoeller suggests that Band may not have had access to the original negatives and went with a cut print for the source of the HD master.

FM have chosen to go with the lossy 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital in place of a DTS-HD Master Audio track unfortunately. Things are well balanced but Pino Donaggio's score would have benefited greatly from the lossless boost. As t is the 5.1 offers only modest depth and channel separation and the stereo track is just as effective. 

Extras include a brand-new audio commentary from director David Schmoeller who talks about the production - both good and bad and working with the cast. There's also a 25-minute documentary produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures "Exit Through the Chop Shop" comprised of an interview with Schmoeller inter-cut with clips from the film covering much of the same ground from the commentary. Additionally there are also a selection of Full Moon trailers for our enjoyment. 

TOURIST TRAP is a PG-rated horror film with very little blood and no gore whatsoever but it does have a generous amount of atmosphere thanks in part to the Pino Donaggio (BLOW OUT) orchestral score and some decent cinematography. It loses points for the obvious identity of the killer but wins me over with how weird and demented it is, a very strange film. 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT (1979)

HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT (1979)

Label: Redemption Films

Region Code: A
Duration:  110 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English LPCM 2.0
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Pete Walker
Cast: James Aubrey, Alision Elliot, Mark Burns, Juliet Harmer, Debbie linden, Chris Jagger 

At first glance HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT (1979) doesn't seem to be the usual Pete Walker shocker - but only on the surface. Ginny (Allison Elliot) is a sweet young woman who is picked-up while hitchhiking by songwriter Mike (James Aubrey)and the two have great chemistry and a sexual relationship unfolds. weeks later and quite by accident the 28 year-old songwriter discovers his lover is only 14 years and despite his better judgment and initial horrified reaction he continues to engage with the young woman.

Soon after her protective parents become aware of their young daughters sexual activity with the older man and then the police are brought in to investigate the accusation. Her father is strongly pursuing a criminal case against the young man while her mother is somewhat more sympathetic believing her daughter may not be the victim everyone else suspects her to be. At first you have some sympathy for the young woman as she is urged by both father and authorities to say she was raped - which she clearly was not. She's embarrassed to admit the truth and therefore presses on with rape charges only somewhat reluctantly. As the film rolls on she becomes quite a bit less sympathetic as she paints herself as the victim and the future of Mike becomes more and more grim. 


Walker spices up what amounts to a melodrama with a peppering of salacious sexual scenes which make you feel pretty damn dirty once we discover that Ginny is a minor - once this is made clear the film does not ease up - the sexual encounters while not super sleazy are lurid and voyeuristic. I can see why the film was provocative at the time as the young woman is made to be the villain while at the same time it's hard to forgive Mike for continuing the relationship once he realized the age of the young girl. It makes for an interesting watch with lots of tension and frustration as Mike is loses the faith of friends and family in the wake of the rape allegation. 

A bit of a departure for Walker with no shock elements to it - no sudden outburst of violence - but there is a moral complexity to it mixed in with some fleeting moments of sexploitation. Walker sets up some interesting questions that might make you squirm but the courtroom finale was a bit of a letdown as he doesn't follow-up on a few of the more intriguing dramatic elements set up early in the film such as Ginny's doubting mother and a best friend of Ginny's who knows the truth of the matter but chooses to remain silent. 


Redemption Films present the film in it's original widescreen aspect ratio (1.66:1) with a new HD transfer that is quite nice but not amazing. The grain structure is nicely intact and natural in appearance but the cinematography is a bit sift-focus and gauzy in it's presentation, fine detail and sharpness suffer for it but this is a stylistic choice on the part of the filmmaker and not the transfer. The print itself is in decent shape with only minor instances of white speckling and print damage. The LPCM English audio is decent but unremarkable. At times the volume shoots from low to high with the soundtrack music but overall a decent presentation with occasional audio hiss and the high-end treble can be at bit annoying at times. 


Extras on the disc include an 11-minute interview with director Pete Walker and a selection of Walker trailers. Not a ton but the interview is quite good as Walker discusses the casting of the film and it's themes and the usual beating he received from critics at the time, owning up to the fact is was the wrong film for him to make at the time. 


A very interesting entry in the canon of director Pete Walker - it might not be everyones cup of tea as it strays a bit from what one has come to expect from the director but as a slightly exploitative melodrama that begs a few difficult questions - none of which it answers - it's a damn decent watch. 

redemption-fiilms.com

Monday, June 23, 2014

SCAVENGER KILLERS (2013)

SCAVENGER KILLERS (2013) 

Label: Midnight Releasing 

Release Date: July 1st, 2014
Duration: 102 minutes
Region Code: 1

Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Dylan Bank
Cast: Robert Bogue, Rachael Robbins, Eric Roberts, Dustin Diamond, Robert Loggia, Charles Durning


SCAVENGER KILLERS is a low-budget thriller from director Dylan Bank and concerns a judge (Robert Bogue, THE FOLLOWING) and his defense lawyer girlfriend (Rachael Robbins, BIKINI BLOODBATH CHRISTMAS) who routinely let the guilty off the hook in the courtroom so that can kill them in weird and lustful ways later. These two are super-kinky and totally get off on murder and sex while commuting murder. 

Also along for the ride are Dustin Diamond who you may remember as Screech from SAVED BY THE BELL who portrays a clairvoyant who can only use his gift while he fondles the breasts of a large black woman while finger-fucking her mouth... and he has tourettes syndrome. There are also appearances from Eric Roberts (THE DARK NIGHT), Charles Durning (DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW) and Robert Loggia (LOST HIGHWAY) who are seriously slumming it in this D-grade thriller, someone must have some dirt on these three to get them on board with this cheapie.

Every performance is overwrought or amateurish from the entire cast. I definitely feel that Bank was going for campiness by design but the script and humor are just awful from start to finish, I did not find a single legitimate laugh to be found anywhere. The effects are a mix of practical blood and CGI assisted splatter - not awful but not great either. Having just watched CAMP BLOOD FIRST SLAUGHTER and GILA! the special effects bar was set mighty low. 

Poor Robert Loggia - does the guy even realize he was in a movie when he made this - the guy is getting on in years and to see him in this was almost traumatic but I must admit that the scene with his brain being scooped out of his skull was bit of fun. What little there is to enjoy here would be some cheap gore and an endless parade of nude women - at times it felt like the producers held a casting call at the local strip club - so there's that cheap thrill at least.

The DVD from Midnight Releasing looks decent as a digital production -  the cinematography and sound recording are at least competent if not mind-blowing and there are a a few extras by way of behind-the-scene stuff.

A rather poor excuse for a horror film and no amount of tits and ass are gonna save it from that fate. There's possibly some entertainment value as a group viewing just to pick it apart but not if you have to drop any cash to make it happen. A definite SKIP IT.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

CAMP BLOOD FIRST SLAUGHTER (2013)

CAMP BLOOD FIRST SLAUGHTER (2013) 

Label: MVD Visual
Duration: 85 Minutes
Region
Code: 1 NTSC

Rating: Unrated
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Director: Mark Polonia
Cast: Jeff Kirkendall, Ken Van Sant, Cindy Wheeler


What we have here is your run-of-the-mill slasher cheapie - there's just so damn many of 'em these days. Obviously the filmmakers have a love for the genre even if they aren't adding anything to it and execute it rather poorly. A class of kids are sent into the woods by their professor on an assignment to dispel the urban legend around the Camp Blood which is said to be terrorized my a creepy clown killer. You know the story - kids go into the woods - kids get dead - sound familiar? 

Poor acting, amateur camera work and awful photo shopped blood effects are not doing this movie any favors but there's a certain charm to this one - it too me awhile to put my finger on it but in the end I figured it out. This has a distinct shot-on-video  aesthetic about it which brought to mind the schlocky SOV classics as CANNIBAL CAMPOUT and VIDEO VIOLENCE. If you seriously love your vintage SOV you just might have a good time here if you can overlook the poor execution and awful editing. There's a found footage element to this one that I didn't quite hate at the start but it just shoots itself in the foot with impossible editing and a news cast from out of nowhere - where did that come from? They were onto something with the twist that could have been something interesting but what few bright spots there were here were quickly dimmed by the poor execution.

If you're feeling adventurous or are maybe a shit-film enthusiast have it - otherwise I'd be hard-pressed to recommend this to anyone - even to the die hard slasher fans. 

GILA! (2014)

 GILA! (2014) 

Distributor: Polyscope Media Group
Duration: 96 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Director: Jim Wynorski
Cast: Brian Gross, Terence Knox, Jesse Janzen, Christina DeRosa, Madeline Voges, Callie Burk, Julie McCullough

In this send-up of creatures features a giant gila monster is threatening small town folk in the 1950's - in fact this is a loose remake of the 1959 drive-in schlock fest THE GIANT GILA MONSTER from b-movie auteur Jim Wynorski who brought us CHOPPING MALL (1986) and 976-EVIL 2 (1992) and about 96 other soft-core erotic films not worth mentioning in my opinion. While I do love the 1980s horror stuff  he did there's just not much else in that filmography I feel the urge to watch - sorry Jim. 

This is going for a retro-1950s vibe that both pays homage and sends-up the atomic fueled creature features of the era. We have dueling high school drag racers who are clearly not age appropriate, a pair catty girlfriends and small town cops who are all but helpless to stop the reptilian threat that plagues their town. 

The effects work here is sub Syfy quality which is likely why the creature is glimpsed for mere moments. When the film is titled GILA! that's gonna be an issue now don't you think? Set in the 1950 the low-budget of this one didn't exactly make it easy to capture the vintage aesthetic - they give it a good try but the styles sorta come and go from scene to scene. There's a handful of classic cars on display though - these hot rods are freaking sweet but bad CGI and hot rods do not a good movie make.

The cast is pretty game for what they're making here - they're painfully aware they are making a cheesy creature feature and a shitty creature feature and  Wynorski is a skilled enough tradesman to keep the film moving forward in a way that keeps you plugged-in if not exactly interested.

The disc from Polyscope Media Group has a few extras that mostly text-based about the original film including a trailer and lyrics to the end credits song. GILA! is just not a film I can say I enjoyed watching or would revisit again - I have to give the a SKIP IT!

GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977)


GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977) 


Label: Intervision Picture Corp
Region Code: 0 NTSC
Duration: 96 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono
Director: Cesare Canevari
Cast: Marc Loud, Daniela Poggi, Maristella Greco

GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977) d
irected by Cesare Canevari is alternately titled LAST
ORGY OF THE THIRD REICH  and  CALIGULA REINCARNATED AS HITLER  - it starts off a few years after WWII with Third Reich Commandant Conrad von Starke (Adriano Micantoni) visiting the death camp he ran during the war. There he meets up with Lise Cohen (Daniela Poggi) a former Jewish prisoner at the death camp turned lover of the German commandant - which is already quite strange. Through flashback we are told their story, of her imprisonment and torture and the depraved events at the death camp and how she came to be the lover of the hateful Nazi commander.
This is a film with certain amount of arthouse pretension - you can detect the makings of a film with a certain amount of style though just barely. It does manage to rise above most of the nasty Nazisploitation films coming out of Italy at the time. A lot of repellent stuff going on here fetishisizing the idea of a Nazi camp slash brothel full of Jewish women being degraded. We have the Commandant's SS lover Alma (Maristella Greco) riffing on a character straight out of the ILSA films with the pre requisite amount of sexiness and awfulness - a sadistic character with lesbian tendencies when she's not punishing the Commandant for his premature ejaculation by shoving the thick end of a whip right up his arse - which he thoroughly enjoys, of course.

Separate from the sexual depravity which include forced incest, scatology and an extended orgy/rape scene we have various scenes of torture and humiliation which are sometimes hard to stomach including a harrowing scene of women burning alive in a furnace. There's also a menstruating woman eaten alive by ravenous dobermans. It's sick stuff, some of which past the shock of it are darkly humorous . A prime example being a woman dipped in into a pool of corrosive quicklime or when Lise is is hung by her feet and lowered face first into a box of ravenous... gerbils

One of the films more grotesque threads of the movie is that of cannibalism and the consumption of Hebrew flesh by the higher ranking Nazi officials at a dinner party where the main entree is the stewed flesh of babies - this movie has a little bit of everything going on. 

When the content of the meal is revealed a Jewish woman forced to labor as a server passes out. Not missing a beat  she is placed on a large serving tray, doused in the best Nazi cognac and flambeed to the salacious delight of the Nazi's who look on with hungry eyes.  

There's not a lot of social commentary going on here - just scene after scene of shock peppered with a few scenes exploring the Lise's transition from tortured death-craving victim to mistress of the cruel Commandment  - which is never fully explored. Played for seriousness the camp level is pretty low here which might hinder the joy one could derive from this Video Nasty but if you're looking for some unredeeming nazisploitation this trashy slice of Italian cinema sure to please.

The DVD comes with the now classic white Amaray case we've come to expect from Intervision. The transfer is sourced from a decent element with some minor white speckling and scratches throughout but is never hard to watch. Not having watched this since the glory days of VHS this is by far the best I've seen it. There are other DVD versions but I've not seen them. The movie is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio which is a plus but the image is a bit soft with very little depth and sharpness - it's a very flat presentation with instances of camera shakiness - while some of the framing looks nice the cinematography can be a it amateurish at times.

The English dubbed audio is represented by a mono Dolby Digital track that includes a generous helping of audio hiss and the occasional snap, crackle and pop - at times it feels like were listening to a thrift store LP while eating a bowl of cereal but that's just fine, just adds to the experience. Of note is a quite nice score that transcends  the merits of the actual film. There are no subtitle options.

Extras on the disc include a great Theatrical Trailer (3:39) for the film and A Brief History of
Sadiconazista- Interview with Film Historian Marcus Stiglegger (36:30) with the film historian giving a brief history of the nazisploitation sub-genre beginning with war time propaganda on through to the "roughie" SS LOVE CAMP and the artier entries such as THE NIGHT PORTER ending with the Italian cycle of sleaze such as what were watching here.

GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977) is a slightly arty piece of Nazi exploitation that is crammed with shocking scenes of perversion and the humiliation of women at the hands of Nazi captors. Definitely par for the course with this cycle of exploitation but this one has a few striking moments that will stick with you for awhile. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN (1975)

HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN (1975)


Label: Redemption Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 104 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM Mono 2.0 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Pete Walker
Cast: Anthony Sharp, Norman Eshley, Sheila Keith

Pete Walker's HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN (1974) is definitely a poke in the eye of the Catholic Church, about a demented priest driven to murder his sinful; parishioners in the name of the Lord. Father Xavier (Anthony Sharp) is played with sinister delight by Sharp -  his appearance, mannerisms and holier-than-thou pomposity is spot on, a very creepy and intense character. He lives with his decrepit mothers and a strange one-eyed housekeeper Ms. Brabazon (Sheila Keith, HOUSE OF WHIPCORD) whom is every bit as corrupt as the priest. 


Enter a young the pretty young woman Jenny Lynch (Susan Penhaligon) whom catches the eye of the priest  during a confessional in which she reveals she's living in sin, her boyfriend is a cheat and that she's had an abortion! You can just imagine the righteous priest stewing in his juices upon this confession and it's not long before those surrounding young Jenny end up dead through burning, poisoning and other violent methods of murder.  


I consider myself a fan of Walker's string of horror-shockers from the 1970s but must confess I do find his films a bit dry and long in the tooth and HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN is no exception at 104 minutes. The saving grace are some nice violent punctuation - the deaths may not be overly elaborate but they are violent and gruesome in a ripping red-paint sort of way.

The film, also know under the title of THE CONFESSIONAL, is a bitter indictment of the Catholic Church - the old priest is a vile man but Walker does paint the younger Father Bernard (Norman Eshley) as a kinder more benevolent character. The young priest is struggling with his own faith as he considers turning away from the church for the love of a woman - a decision that does not sit well with Father Xavier as you can imagine. 


Jenny suspects the obsessed priest might be the culprit but her accusations fall on deaf ears - after all who would suspect a priest of such heinous crimes? I quite enjoyed the priests relationship with the one-eyed housekeeper, the hard-faced woman adds an additional element of menace to the proceedings. The finale in typical Pete Walker fashion is a shocker - it's bitterly dark and jaded. At points the films does drag a bit and Walker was never as stylish as Argento but this lurid shocker is quite a feast. 


The Blu-ray from Redemption Films presents the film in it's original aspect ratio (1.66:1) and the transfer is sourced from the original 35mm negatives and it looks quite nice with only very minor white speckling now and again. Not a lot of depth but the HD presentation does offer some modest fine detail and strong color reproduction. The English language LPCM 2.0 Mono audio fares well if not remarkable with what modest depth the mono track can muster. The Stanley Meyers score, dialogue and effects are clean and balanced - a very nice hi-def presentation. . 


Onto the extras an audio commentary with Walker moderated by Jonathan Rigby, author of English Gothic. If you enjoy Walker's films and this one particularly you're in for a treat as the director discusses the production which was designed to infuriate the Catholic Church plus some fn anecdotes about the cast and the cast he had hoped for. There's also an 11-minute featurette with Walker discussing a lot of the same information and a Pete walker Trailer Reel. 


Pete Walker's time at Catholic School as a young boy was apparently quite traumatic and HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN is a definite one-fingered salute to the hypocrisy of the church from the director - it's still pretty shocking to this day. This is a top-notch Blu-ray from Kino Lorber/Redemption and a first-class Walker entry, a high recommend to exploitation fans and Pete Walker aficionados that's worth the upgrade from the previous standard-def editions.