Thursday, April 2, 2015

RABID GRANNIES (1988)

RABID GRANNIES (1988)

Label: Troma Entertainment
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 68 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 
Video: 1080i Widescreen 
Director: Emmanuel Kervyn
Cast: Danielle Daven, Anne Marie Fox, Jack Mayar, Elliot Lison, Francoise Moens

A pair of elderly old grannies invite their gold-digging family and friends to their mansion to celebrate the occasion of the aging duo's ninetieth birthday. During the party it becomes quite evident that the family members are just a bunch of gold-diggers who are only there to hopefully secure their inheritance once the grannies shuffle off this mortal coil. However, what they don't realize is that these feisty grannies will be out living most of them before the night is through. As birthday cake is being served the grannies open a gift sent via a creepy courier from their estranged nephew, the black sheep of the family who is known to dabble in the occult and for this reason was not invited. The gift is an ornate wood-carved box that appears to be empty, but is actually filled with demonic spirit which quickly possesses the grannies and transforms them into long-clawed, toothy demons with a hunger for human flesh.

The story does not rise above the simple and novel premise of demonic grannies savaging numerous party guests but I must say that the numerous scenes of gruesome gore are especially fantastic and quite a bit of fun, delivering vintage '80s practical effects and vomitous gore-gags in quick succession. While it's strong on gore the film is troubled when it comes to the areas of character development and storytelling, not that many of the characters are around long enough to merit any sort of arc.  

Rabid Grannies is not some classic or even underrated slice of '80s horror cinema but it is a fun and brainless splatter film sort of along the lines of a dumbed down version of Lamberto Bava's Demons or Peter Jackson's Brain Dead, and that's not such bad company to keep in my opinion. 

Audio/Video: The Troma Blu-ray of Rabid Grannies is quite a mess beginning with a 1080i transfer framed in a doctored scope aspect ratio that cuts information from both the top and bottom of the image. Not sure what the source material was but it would appear to have been a VHS with from the looks of it. Murky scenes that alternate between a yellow patina and a blue infusion with rampant softness and no fine detail whatsoever. Truly a disaster of a botched transfer from Troma. The English-dubbed Dolby Digital Stereo audio option is muddied and muffled with some of the poorly dubbed dialogue being quite a chore to decipher.

Onto the extras on the Blu-ray disc we begin with the main feature, which is advertised on the box as an 89 minute run time but the actual duration is an abbreviated sixty-eight minute cut of the film, one that favors the gore scenes but removes twenty plus minutes storytelling, such as it is. Given the nature of this gore-film its arguable that you are not missing much but fans of the film deserve the longest most complete version available to date and that is not what we have here. 

On the Blu-ray there is an option to watch the "Producer's Cut" of the film, which seems to be an early April Fools joke from the Troma team. It's the exact same version of the film only with the addition two minutes of black screen before the movie starts. Extras on the Blu-ray include 8 minutes of deleted scenes, an brief interview with the producer Johan Vandewoestijne, and a typically silly interview with one of the Rabid Grannies.

Onto the DVD we begin with a longer eighty-nine minute version of the film presented in the full screen aspect ratio that contains more story but less of the gore, you just cannot win with this release. The colors are more natural looking and are not marred by the sepia tone and blue tinting of the Blu-ray, which is both sadly confounding and a minor bonus. While it may be full screen at least it's not the bastardized scope aspect ratio of the Blu-ray which is poorly cropped and ugly all the way around

Extras on the DVD include a wealth of junky Tromatic extras that have nothing to do with the film, plus an audio commentary from director Emmanuel Kervyn, which is absent from the Blu-ray. Additionally, there are outtakes, more gory footage, and the interview with the producer.

On it's own merits Rabid Grannies is a trashy gore-film with plenty of splatter and a story that is at least decent enough to set-up a series of grisly scenes as the demonic grannies tear into the flesh of gathered friends and family. Tonally this one is along the lines of Peter Jackson's Brain Dead without the wit, but still a satisfyingly gruesome viewing for the gore-hounds.  However, the sub-par Blu-ray is a true Tromatic turd from top to bottom, and not one I cannot recommend in good faith, this film deserves better than this, you deserve better than this.  

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