Friday, July 31, 2015

INNER DEMONS (2014)

INNER DEMONS (2014) 

Label: IFC Midnight
Region Code: 1 

Duration: 83 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Seth Grossman
Cast: Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, Kate Whitney, Brian Flaherty, Colleen McGrann, Christopher Parker 

Demon possession and found-footage have been around for awhile now, apparently in the minds of young filmmakers they go together like peanut butter and chocolate,  but most of them just aren't that great in my opinion. I typically proceed with caution coming into these found-footage movies, which might be unfair, but once you've been burned numerous times by a well-worn trend you'd be foolish not, fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on me, as they say. 


The movie has a pretty standard set-up, a teenage drug addict Carson (Lara Vosburgh) is followed by a documentary crew whom are there to document how the teen went from straight-a Catholic schoolgirl to straight-up heroin addict. After a few days of observing her behaviors at home and interviewing friends and family she agrees to committed to a rehab facility. The documentary producer thinks they've struck ratings gold when she announces that she believes herself to be a  victim of demon possession. The producer is just so excited about this turn of events, of course she doesn't believe Carson is demon-possessed, she chalks it up to drug-induced weirdness, but she is absolutely ready to exploit Carson illness just the same. 

This is very much how I imagine these type of reality-based TV programs are, I imagine HLN's Nancy Grace waking up each morning and reading the newspaper, wringing her hands with delight when another child is victimized or murdered, because without the misery of the world these people would have very little to do with themselves, they hunger for and feast upon how awful the world can be, and that is why I despise those types of "news" programs. 

Once Carson is admitted to the rehab facility we meet her fellow addicts, a collection of junkies, pill-poppers and sex addicts who welcome her into the group, but sort of turn on her when she confesses she might be demon-possessed. Perhaps unsurprisingly these junkies, each going through their own drug withdrawal, can be a surly bunch, but I probably would too if someone started pulling my darkest secrets from out of nowhere and sharing them with my recovery group, which happens in a very Exorcist sort of way during a group meeting.

As the movie plays out we get some back story about Carson's home life, like the fact that her father is a recovering alcoholic with anger management issues, and how those might feed into the young woman's own issues. Later a school friend reveals the possible origins of her addiction and strange behavior, which of course has been caught on-camera.  A production assistant on the crew named Jason (Morgan McClellan) seems to be the only one who believes that there could be something to this demon possession things after all, his character is set-up early on as someone who might be drawn towards troubled woman, and he's got his work cut out for him with Carson, whom he develops a fondness for. 

I could never quite get a good read on the parents, if they believed it or not, but the rest of the documentary team and the doc at the rehab certainly don't. Of course the foreign nurse at the rehab clinic recognizes the signs of possession, in a very stereotyped portrayal with her coming from a primitive culture of course she would believe in such things, and is fired when she performs an impromptu cleansing. 

Most of the documentary crew are very minor characters, even Jason seems somewhat unneeded, and the feeling her develops for Carson come on a bit too fast, it goes from curiosity about her to overly emotional attachment in a heartbeat, it felt forced, but it didn't ruin it for me, just annoyed me.  


As a documentary style found-footage film we have plenty of the typical cam-footage that is captured both hand-held and from the POV of wall-mounted security cameras, plus an MTV Real World-styled confessional camera, all of which capture the ebb and flow of Carson's decent into demonic possession. At times she struggles to fight the influence, other times the evil inside takes over and she begins to exhibit more violent and strange behaviors, some of which are quite violent, nearly biting off the fingers of the film crew at one point. 

Lara Vosburgh is pretty great in the role of the troubled teen addict, she carries the film and does a balances the troubled teen struggling with addiction and demon possession about as well as I could imagine, I don't think I rolled my eyes even once, and that's a god sign. 
Things build to a decent finale with an appropriately freaky, violent and abrupt ending to the course of events, for those who have seen even just a handful of found-footage movies there are very few surprises to be had in my opinion, but it is well-assembled and the family drama and bizarre happening kept me tuned it right up to the end despite a sort of slow beginning. 3.5/5

Thursday, July 30, 2015

THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES (2014)

THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES (2014) 

Label: Artsploitation Films

Region Code: 1
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Jay Lee, Jim Roof
Cast: Jim Roof, Shannon Malone, Larissa Lynch, Liz Burghdorf, Andrew Hopper

Synopsis: It’s Henry – Portrait of a Serial Killer meets This is Spinal Tap in the gory mockumentary THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES, the grisliest, darkest horror-comedy ever imaginable. Ed and Susan are just your average, middle-class American suburban married couple: they have their quirks, their romantic moments, their hobbies. One of these hobbies has even turned into a small business venture for the couple…because Ed and Susan are also serial killers who sell snuff videos of their crimes through the Internet underground. Since Ed is determined that their next video will surpass all of their previous work, he has decided that it will feature three kills in one night – but after they abduct their intended victims, things don’t go as planned. Filmed entirely through the perspective of Ed’s many cameras, and labeled “one of the greatest horror films of the century” by Film Radar, this film is as shocking as it is slyly satirical about violence and media exploitation.

I love Artsploitation Films and the strange brew of cinema they're known for, each release

offers something different, they're a pretty fantastic distributor and 2015 has been a fantastic year for the label. I've been on board with pretty much everything they've done so far, but this one for whatever reason sat on my shelf for weeks before I could muster up the enthusiasm to watch it. I think that owes a lot to the found-footage aesthetic of it, and I think I am might have been going through a bit of a cinema verite fatigue there for a little while, so I just put it aside until I felt I could watch it without any baggage, and today was that day. 

My fears were unfounded, true there's a glut of found footage out there but like the eternal wellspring of zombie movies there is always someone out there doing something new with it, for every five shit films you might find a gem among the shale, and such is the case with The House with 100 Eyes, a mockumentary along the lines of The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon, a documentary that takes you behind the scenes with serial killers Ed and Susan, a demented couple who operate and underground film studio they call Studio Red, a distributor who offers quality snuff films with all the special features you would expect from a straight studio film, and I thought that was a fun conceit, and a darkly funny one at that. 

Ed and Susan are a blast to watch, the film opens with them filming an intro of sorts for the latest film project, a triple feature snuff film - the first of it's kind. They are attempting to kill three people in one night at the same time. They inform us of their intentions and describe how their home has been set-up with numerous hidden camera, additionally it has been sound proofed, and comes complete with a nightmare torture chamber and a porn-styled studio with a mattress on the floor and a simple camera set-up. As they go about their preparations for the event we are treated to shots from the hidden cameras as they apply make-up, make the morning coffee and assemble their murder-van kit, before they head on out to Hollywood Boulevard to find three tens who are willing to come back to their place to shoot amateur porn for a few hundred dollars. The first pass doesn't go so well, Ed is pretty anxious and when one of the disinterested teens throws some sarcasm his way he threatens to eviscerate them, leaving his wife to calm him down and reminding him they;d best leave the area before the cops show up. 

Eventually the twisted couple do find three teens willing to make some amateur porn and bring them back to their place where things start off surprisingly well at first, all their preparations seem to be paying off.  However, things begin to fall apart when one of the young women begins to lose her nerve, expressing her desire to back out. She is quietly escorted to the torture chamber where Ed subjects her to some squirm inducing punishment, which he delights in to no end, he has a child like  enthusiasm for violence. Back in the porn room things are further delayed when the young man blows his load in the shower before shooting the porn, which sends Ed right over the edge, worried he won't get his money-shot for the movie. 

Ed has a deep need for the porn along with his torture films, an earlier scene shows Ed sitting alone in the living room while watching a previously taped torture sessions while furiously masturbating to the grisly images and the excruciating sounds of screaming, it's a very dark scene. His wife on the other hand is more of a poisoner, she's just itching to inject someone with something, which is at odds with Ed's intentions, several times during the film he questions what she's injecting into their victims, making sure that she is only sedating them and not poisoning them, apparently she's prematurely poisoned victims before, which ruined the movies. 

Shannon Malone is pretty fantastic as Sue, a crazy-eyed blond who seems just a little off, as you might expect of a serial killer, but there's some kind of extra crazy in her performance, something subtle but very clear. During an earlier scene she is narrating while she applies make-up in the bathroom, explaining how her mother taught her to give a good man everything he wants, but to give bad men exactly what they deserve, which feeds into the story later on when her and Ed are odds with each other.

Special Features:
-  Audio Commentary with Director/Actor Jim Roof and Director/Cinematographer Jay Lee
- Trailer(2 Mins)
- Ed's Studio Red Sizzle Reel (2 Mins
- Ed's Studio red Gag Reel (8 Mins) 

- Artsploitation Trailers

I enjoyed this one a lot, a pitch black satire and a fun watch. T he finale reveals itself long before its meant to but I loved the vibe and the inherent comedy herein, the actors portraying the demented couple to a great job nailing the specific tone this movie required, if you like myself are maybe fatigued by the glut of the found-footage horror films on the market right now you might be surprised by The House with 100 Eyes and what it has to offer,a recommend, particularly if you enjoyed The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon which mines similar territory. 3/5

FUTURE JUSTICE (2014)

FUTURE JUSTICE (2014) 

Label: Scorpio Film Releasing Region Code: Region-FREE 
Duration: 83 Minutes
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 
Director: Richard Griffin
Cast: Nat Sylva, Steven O'Broin, Aaron Andrade, Anna Rizzo, Dan Mauro, Johnny Sederquist, Tiffany Lee Ferris
Richard Griffin must be one of the most prolific makers of low-budget b-movie genre pictures out there today, averaging about three finished feature and short films a year. His latest movie Future Justice (2014)  is a tasty no-budget riff on John Carpenter's Escape from New York, and stars Nat Sylva (Murder University) as the bad ass anti-hero Python Dallas, a dangerous insurrectionist who at the start of the film is imprisoned on Saturn's moon of Titan. He's in the process of being transported back to Earth to answer for his crimes, but what exactly those crimes are exactly is a bit of mystery throughout the movie, we have numerous references to an incident that happened in Baltimore that ended with a high body count, but it keeps a bit of mystery about it. 

En route to Earth Python is interrogated by Major Uxbridge (Aaron Andrade) who clearly has contempt for the war criminal, though the tougher he gets the more sarcastic Python becomes, which only further enrages the Major. Approaching Earth the crew are unable to establish radio contact with anyone back at the base command, it soon becomes apparent that the Earth has fallen victim to some apocalyptic nuclear event, the cities lay in ruin and the few survivors left alive scrap over food and scramble for shelter. 

Arriving on the Earth Python is coerced into joining the crew on the surface on a mission to search for survivors. Eventually they find a small group who scientist and various survivors who have banded together and are holed-up in the basement of a building. Opposition arrives in the form of a motley crew of post-nuke pirates headed by baddie Gazebo (Steven O’Broin), a sneering Southern-fried menace who leads a band of redneck outlaws armed with lasers and explosive-tipped crossbow darts. 

Adding to the menace is the threat of a tunnel dwelling mutant-human who oozes irradiated goo, the creature appears from time to time to claim a victim. 

Richard Griffin is channelling the 80s sci-fi action films of his and our youth and the result is a ton of cheap b-movie fun anchored by the fun performances of Nathaniel Sylva, obviously channeling his inner Snake Plisken, and baddie Steven O’Broin, both do a fantastic job in their roles, neither of which requires much depth but it makes for fun action-movie caricatures . 

The special effects of the movie by John C. Dusek are wonderfully cheesy and pretty dated - which is keeping within the Scorpio Film Releasing aesthetic we've come to know and love 'em for through the years. The opening title credit sequence is fantastic, the retro sci-fi font and the accompanying score does a bang-up job of channeling vintage 80s science fiction with plenty of Carpenter's Escape from New York with maybe a little Richard Band thrown into the mix, kudos to Daniel Hildreth for the awesome score, it adds a lot of texture to the movie. 

The opening scenes in outer space are early 90s computer graphics type stuff that might illicit a chuckle, and that's not unfair, its part of the charm of the production, and I think both a result of necessity and design - one of the opening scenes of Python encased in ice -- or crinkled plastic wrap more precisely, made me laugh, it might just be the worse effect of the film, but I still loved it. The command center of the ship is a tight and cramped space, which is straight out of John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon's seminal low-budget science fiction student film Dark Star (1974), a film which surely must have been an inspiration for Griffin.

Special Features:
- Commentary Track with Director, Producer, Cast and Crew
- Short Film 'Mutants of the Apocalypse' (7 Mins)
- Trailer ( 3 Mins) 

A post-apocalyptic science fiction movie is pretty damn difficult to do on what amounts to a shoe-string budget, and this is proof of how challenging it can be. Sure, it has a lot of warts on the surface but I loved the concept and the spirit of the execution, it's hard to convey a nuclear wasteland when your back lot is green with vegetation, but they make a real go for it anyway, and the end result is a shit ton of retro-80s sci-fi apocalypse fun. 2.5/5

WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD (2015)

WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD (2015) 

Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight 

Release Date: August 4th 2015
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated 

Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Cast: Bianca Bradey, Jay Gallagher, Keith Agius, Leon Burchill, Berryn Schwerdt, Luke McKenzie

This low-budget slice of Ozploitation zombie-apocalyptic cinema is high-octane and gore-soaked right from the opening scenes, a seizure inducing action-sequence with kinetic editing that throws up right into a hornet's nest of gnashing zombie teeth. Then it takes a breather to set-up the characters of the film and explain how the zombie apocalypse started, sort of. 

We have a family man named Barry (Jay Gallagher) at home with his smart-mouthed teen daughter and lovely wife, miles away his photographer sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) is in a garage shooting a model painted up in Day of the Dead make-up, and an wise-cracking Aborigine Benny (Leon Burchill) who is on a hunt in the Outback with his brother. That night a comet breaks-up over Earth and just about everyone on Earth is transformed into fart-mouthed zombies who crave human flesh. 

Obviously not everyone one is transformed into the undead, a certain select few seem to have an immunity to the plague, such is the case with Benny, Brooke and Bennie. Early on Brooke is kidnapped by what seems to be the military and brought to the lab of a mad scientist known only as The Doctor (Berryn Schwerdt), a strange bird in a bright yellow contamination suit who keeps a mix of infected and the immune chained to the walls of his lab, carrying out demented experiments, maybe meant to save the world, or maybe he's just an evil loon. The Doc loves to play awful pop music while prancing around the lab, injecting fluid from the zombies brain straight into Brooke's brain, not sure what the intended effect was but I am pretty sure it wasn't meant to give her mind control over the zombies, which it does. 

While Brooke's left on her own for a bit both Benny and Barry must kill their loved ones who have become infected and eventually meet up with each other and then find a shack where three survivors are holed up, lead by Frank (Keith Agius). Teaming-up with the trio they group discover that for unknown reasons - there's a lot of those in this movie - all fuel has become inert and will not combust - rendering all vehicle useless, until they realize they can harness the methane-spewing zombies as a fuel source, brilliant. At this point the boys set out in search of Barry's sister and must contend with not just the vapor-mouthed chompers running around but military who just seem to want to utilize them for their twisted experiments, they don't seem to keen on saving any survivors really.

Had a lot of fun with this one, there's still some life left in the land of the undead, particularly in Australia where they now how to make a kinetic and gore-soaked zombie-apocalypse movie, complete with Raimi-esque armor-up montages, the aesthetic of the film definitely has an old school Sam Raimi by way of Peter Jackson vibe about it, with a smattering of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake thrown in, plus it has that weird aesthetic that you can only find in Australia, a visual flavor that adds a lot of punch to the movie. 

Thankfully there's a crocs ass full of practical special effects on display with loads of pulp gore blowing-up in your face, this is a very bloody movie, with the only negative really being the digital head shots we so often see in these low-budget movies, it's forgivable but it's there just the same. The look of the zombies brought to mind possessed Ash from Evil Dead II with the pronounced, sunken-in eye-sockets and the white of the eyes, with tiny pin-prick pupils, very simple but effective, I also enjoyed the way the vapor-mouthed creatures screeched, very similar to the way the Bennell screeched at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), again, simple but effective.

The cast are pretty one-dimensional with not a lot of depth and that too is something I can look past with a zombie movie. Barry a man of few words but a true badass, Brooke is a tattooed ass-kicker, and Benny is the wisecracking comedy relief. The military and the scientist are just evil for the sake of being evil, without the baggage of having to state that it's for the greater good every five seconds, nope, they're just bad people. 

Filmed over the course of four years the fact that this is as fun, let alone coherent, is quite an accomplishment in my book. While the budgetary constraints of the production shows through it's easy to forgive a few small flaws all in the name of a badass ozploitation zombie movie, I really loved this damn movie. 

Audio/Video: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of another IFC MIdnight and Scream Factory team-up, we get a very strong HD transfer framed in the original widescreen aspect ratio with some solid eye-popping 1080p goodness, the close-up shows a fantastic amount of detail on the characters faces, you can see every pore and glistening bead of sweat up close and personal. The color scheme seems to shift a few times throughout the movie, one dusky scene in particlar is desaturated to near black and white, but overall this one is vibrant and the colors are strong with reds and green popping off the screen.

Audio chores are capabley handled by an English language DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround Sound mix which is aggressive and powerful with strong use of the surrounds, creating an experience that envelopes you, dialogue is clean and clear and the score from composer Michael Lira is top-notch. There's also a DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo audio option and optional English SDH subtitles are provided. 

Onto the extras this one packs quite a bit onto the single Blu-ray disc beginning with an audio commentary by the very enthusiastic Roache-Turner Brothers who clearly loved making the movie, this was quite obviously passion project for the spirited brothers. 

As this was a crowd-funded film we get a selection of material designed to help raise funds for the film including an eight-minute teaser scene and two Wyrmwood Production Pitches totaling about ten-minutes in length. There are also twenty-minutes of deleted scenes, a collection of storyboards, a pair of trailers for the movie, and a forty-nine minute making of doc with loads of behind-the-scene footage. The packaging includes a cardboard slipcover for the Blu-ray case and a sleeve of reversible artwork.  

Special Features
- Audio Commentary With The Roache-Turner Brothers
- The Wyrmdiaries: Behind The Scenes Of WYRMWOOD Featurette (49 Mins) HD 
- 2 Crowdfunding Videos: Wyrmwood Production Pitch (10 Mins) HD 
- Deleted Scenes (20 Mins) HD 
- 7-Minute Teaser Scene (8 Mins) HD 
- Storyboards By The Director (2 Mins, 19 Images) HD
- 2 Trailers (4 Mins) HD 

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is a pretty fantastic slice of undead Ozploitation cinema, it comes at you fast and hard with a action-packed mix of horror, gore and comedy all wrapped up in a nice Blu-ray package with a very nice A/V presentation and entertaining bonus content from IFC Midnight and Scream Factory, this is by far the best zombie film I have seen this year. 3.5/5

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wojciech Has' The Saragossa Manuscript, The Hourglass Sanatorium and Federico Fellini's Casanova make Blu-ray debut September 7th from Mr. Bongo Films in the UK

Three classic films from legendary directors Wojciech Has and Federico Fellini make their debut on Blu-ray thanks to Mr Bongo Films. Has’ The Saragossa Manuscript and The Hourglass Sanatorium and Fellini’s Casanova get the high-def treatment in their fully restored versions on 7 September 2015.


THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT 

Described by world famous filmmakers Luis Bunuel and David Lynch, and rock star Jerry Garcia as their favourite film, legendary Polish director Wojciech Has’ psychedelic epic The Saragossa Manuscript is a mysteriously magical and sometimes disturbing 1960s cult classic like no other.

Adapted from the highly esteemed explorer Jan Potocki’s magnum opus, The Saragossa Manuscript encompasses a whole new supernatural world. During Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, two soldiers of opposing sides discover a strange manuscript at an Inn. Spanning centuries and nations the magical text chronicles the adventures of Alfonso van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski – Ashes and Diamonds) and follows a rich slew of journeys from the humorous to the horrifying, to the chilling final revelations.

Alternatively frightening and comical in its mind-bending exploration of human nature The Saragossa Manuscript beautifully presents Has’ intricate approach to storytelling.


THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM

Wojciech Has’ cinematic universe of byzantine sets, hallucinatory images and galleries of grotesque characters is brought to life in his psychedelic masterpiece The Hourglass Sanatorium.

Adapted from a collection of short stories by Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz, and funded by the Polish Arts Council, this beautifully re-mastered edition dispenses with traditional narrative, fashioning an audiovisual mosaic that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. 

Set in the pre-World War II era, a young man named Joseph (Jan Nowicki – Tulips, Spirala) visits a strange dilapidated Sanatorium to see his dying father Jakob (Tadeusz Konrat – Adventure in Marienstadt, Zawilosci Uczuc).  Upon arrival he finds a hospital crumbling into ruin, where time is slowed down in order to maintain his father’s life signs. Joseph must venture through the many rooms of the sanatorium, each filled with sinister worlds conjured from his memories, dreams and nightmares. 



CASANOVA   
       
Federico Fellini’s most sumptuous and dark production, the daringly visual and imaginatively designed Casanova is renowned as one of the greatest films of the 1970s. Celebrated for its production values, costume design and Nino Rota’s haunting score, Casanova charts the nobleman’s search for happiness that leads his road to tragedy.

Breaking through the myth of Giacomo Casanova, Donald Sutherland (MASH, The Hunger Games) portrays the notorious womaniser in his waning days, engaging in various amorous and political adventures. Casanova craves respect as a scholar and yearns to pursue his interest in alchemy. A sex scandal lands him in prison, but an escape to Paris provides him a new lease of life. Yet every court in Europe and its attendant patrons and hostesses will only entertain him if he lives up to his reputation in the ritual displays of sex and courtship which form part of the daily life of 18th Century Europe.

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR (2013)

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR (2013)
Label: Cinelicious Pics
Region Code: A
Duration: 159 min (Part 1), 158 min (Part 2)
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: Hindi DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, Hindi PCM Audio 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.37:1) 
Director:  Anurag Kashyap
CastHuma Qureshi, Richa Chaddha, Satya Anand, Jaideep Ahlawat, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Manoj Bajpai, Piyush Mishra

Gangs of Wasseypur (2013) marks my first foray into any sort of Bollywood movie, for all my years of watching and loving foreign films not one Bollywood movie has happened across my path, not even one of those weird Mondo Macabro horror movies. 
Which might be my loss after having viewed this engrossing Indian crime saga, a movie laced with crime drama, nuanced moments of tenderness, and punctuated by a somewhat shocking amount of violence. The movie was directed by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and is now available through Cinelicious Pics on a gorgeous two-disc Blu-ray set. . 

The movie opens with a thrilling night time siege as armed men surround the palace home of a known crime figure, they properly thrash the home with a barrage of gunfire and grenades with the intention of killing anyone and everyone inside, thus opens a seriously fantastic crime film that spans seventy-years and three generation of gangsters in the city of Wasseypur, India.

Afterward a narrator explains the history of the town beginning in 1941 during an era of British Colonial rule, a time when train-robber Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) masqueraded as a well-known bandit, but when tribal leaders discover his deceit they banish him from the town Wasseypur. He and his wife move to the neighboring mine town of Dhanbad, where he Shahid finds employment working in a coal mine. A short time later his beloved wife dies giving birth to their only child, a son named Sardar. Shahid missed the birth because of his child and his wife's last moments because a guard at the mine would not let him leave, in retaliation he murders the guard. A few years later the British government relinquishes control over the area and the lucrative coal mines are sold to the corrupt industrialist Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia), who hires Shahid as an enforcer at the mine, his vicious methods earn him a certain amount of fear-inspired respect among the community. 

However, as Shahid's power grows he begins to pose a threat to the rule of Ramadhir Singh, sensing the imposing threat the industrialist has him murdered, with further plans to also kill his son, who is rescued by Nasir, an assistant loyal to his father before. Unable to find the boy the assassin reports back to Ramadhir Singh that the boy has been murdered and buried, though in reality Nasir raises the boy in a neighboring village. When the boy arrives at a certain age he learns of the treachery of Ramadhir Singh  and swears bloody vengeance against the industrialist, vowing to keep his head shaved until he has avenged his father's death. 

Years pass by and Ramadhir Singh becomes a powerful crime boss masquerading as a politician and industrialist. A now mature Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) begins working for the Singh crime family, who do not yet realize that he is the son of the man that Ramadhir Singh murdered many years earlier. The truth of his lineage is revealed when a notable umbrella makes this point clear to all involved. This sets up the war between the families and when the drama begins to unfold before our eyes is magnetic. Not only is there a jarring amount violence and tension throughout, but there's some great drama in the life of Sardar, a horny man with two wives and several children between them. As Sardur and Singh each rise to power both are feared and respected in the community, with Sardur becoming the more feared of the two, which motivates Singh to assassinate the crime boss before he becomes more of a threat. Manoj Bajpai is captivating in every scene, such an intense looking man with piercing eyes, you can feel the intensity through the screen, his story was far and away my favorite of the bunch, but the story as a whole and the arcs of each of the characters are great, no one is give short shrift. 

At this point we are only in 1980s and this epic blood feud lasts through the 2000s, the scope of this is just epic and so too is the run time, the movie clocks in at over five and half hours and it's a marathon of violent crime cinema, but the story is so damn engrossing that you will dread the end of the story. After the not unexpected fall of Sadar we follow the rise and fall of his three sons, particularly that of Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a stoner for most of the film following a traumatic childhood experience, he is forever seen puffing away on his drug of choice lost in a haze of smoke, he seemed an unlikely choice to succeed the thrown of his father but his story is edge of your seat fantastic, not since the Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy has a crime saga been so deftly executed, a story nuanced with interesting characters and surprising moments of subtlety and violence. 

This is no horror story but the violence punctuates the picture frequently, the bullets fly fast and furious, as do the physical punishments visited upon the characters, with a steady supply of grisly beheadings, castration and a myriad of blunt force trauma. 

Audio/Video: The movie arrives on Blu-ray in North America from Cinelicious Pics and looks amazing. The two part movie is spread out over two Blu-ray discs with a highly detailed HD image loaded with vibrant Indian colors, the gorgeous cinematography is mesmerizing. 

The Hindi language DTS-HD MA 5.1 sounds superb, the musical numbers are great, and I thank the Lord for subtitling, or I might never have known how damn fun, kinky and violent the lyrics were. There's plenty of surround sound action with the various gunshots, explosions and rain storms coming in through the surrounds with pleasing clarity, this is a fantastic Blu-ray release with a great A/V presentation. 

Extras on the disc include an audio commentary which is conducted in English, with Director Anurag Kashyap, Actors Huma Qureshi and Richa Chaddha, Composer Sneha Khanwalkar, Lyricist Varun Grover, Associate Director Anubhuti Kashyap, and Assistant Director Neeraj Ghaywan, plus a trailer for the film and a 12-page Booklet with photos and an essay by Aseem Chhabra which added a lot of context to the movie for me, having no background in Indian cinema I found this very informative.  

Special Features: 

 - Audio Commentary with Director Anurag Kashyap, Actors Huma Qureshi and Richa Chaddha, Composer Sneha Khanwalkar, Lyricist Varun Grover, Associate Director Anubhuti Kashyap, and Assistant Director Neeraj Ghaywan
- Official Trailer (2 Min) 
- 12-page Booket with photos and an essay by Aseem Chhabra

This is a fascinating watch, the scale crime epic is massive on all accounts, both in the depth of the characters and in the duration of the movie. I came into this one completely blind I was blown away from the first frame to the last, this is an outstanding movie on all fronts. It might sound strange to say, but the scale of the movie is so grand and the depth of the characters so deep, that I am looking forward to re watching this one, it might require a few viewings to fully appreciate the scope and depth of it. 4/5

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ASTRON-6 Film 'THE EDITOR' on BD/DVD September 8th, 2015 from Scream Factory


THE EDITOR (2014) 


A loving tribute to the gory and gruesome erotic horror of classic Italian giallo cinema, The Editor spins the twisted tale of a once-prolific film editor who becomes the prime suspect in a series of murders haunting a seedy 1970s film studio. Directed and produced by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy, this stylish horror comedy became a festival darling after its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, going on to earn audience and critical acclaim at festivals across North America including the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Fantasia Film Festival. The film’s official trailer can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plL3BNE1Rq4

Making its Blu-ray and DVD debut on September 8th, 2015 from Scream Factory, The Editor comes loaded with bonus features, including an audio commentary with Adam Brooks, Connor Sweeney and Matt Kennedy, a brand new “Making Movies Used to be Fun” documentary, deleted scenes, music and poster featurettes and more! Fans who pre-order their copy from ShoutFactory.com will also receive a free collectible poster.

The Editor stars Paz de la Huerta (Boardwalk Empire), Samantha Hill (Bad Meat), Laurence R. Harvey (The ABCs of Death 2), Adam Brooks (Manborg), Matthew Kennedy (Father’s Day), Conor Sweeney (The ABCs of Death 2), Tristan Risk (Dark Continents) and Udo Kier (Borgia, Blade).

ASTRON-6 presents A Kennedy/Brooks Inc. Film. THE EDITOR is written by Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks and Conor Sweeney; special effects by Emersen Ziffle, Steven Kostanski and Aftermath FX; featuring music by Claudio Simonetti, Carpenter Brut and Jeremy Gillespie; executive producer, Andria Spring; associate producer, Jerry Wasserman and Kevin Ascolillo II; produced and directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy.

Synopsis
Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) was once the greatest editor the world had ever seen. Since a horrific accident left him with four wooden fingers on his right hand, he’s had to resort to cutting pulp films and trash pictures. When the lead actors from the film he’s been editing turn up murdered at the studio, Rey is fingered as the number one suspect. The bodies continue to pile up in this absurdist giallo-thriller as Rey struggles to prove his innocence and learn the sinister truth lurking behind the scenes.

The Editor Bonus Features

- Audio Commentary with Adam Brooks, Connor Sweeney and Matt Kennedy
- "Making Movies Used To Be Fun” Documentary
- Music and Poster Featurettes
- Astron-6 Film Festival Introduction
- Deleted Scenes

Friday, July 24, 2015

Kino Lorber Releases the Fantasy-Adventure and Award-Winning Cult Festival Hit 'Patch Town', a film by Craig Goodwill

PATCH TOWN 

Coming to DVD August 11th packed with special features including an interview with the director, behind-the-scenes featurette, the original award-winning short film that inspired the feature, and more!

Kino Lorber announces the release of Craig Goodwill's fantasy-adventure Patch Town, coming to DVD August 11th with a SRP of $29.95 and packed with bonus features including a behind-the-scenes featurette, casting sessions, animatic, outtakes, the trailer, an interview with the director, and "Patch Town", the award-winning short film that inspired the feature.

A hit at festivals, Patch Town won the Best Feature Award at Canadian Film Fest, and was an Official Selection of Fantasia-fest and the Moscow International Film Festival. Kino Lorber released Patch Town theatrically, opening in New York earlier in 2015.

In Patch Town's dark modern fairy tale, newborn babies are plucked from cabbage patches, turned into plastic dolls, and sold as playthings in a nightmarish, oppressive society. Jon (Rob Ramsay), a discontented factory worker slaving away on a baby-harvesting production line, uncovers a secret from his past that sends him searching for his long-lost mother (Zoie Palmer). As Jon embarks on his journey with his loving wife Mary (Stephanie Pitsiladis), the sinister Child Catcher (Julian Richings) and his diminutive beet-munching henchman (Ken Hall) throw a wrench into his plans.

An eye-popping fantasy-adventure, quirky comedy, and rousing musical rolled into one, Patch Town"combines Soviet-era iconography, Eastern European folklore and Western consumer-culture critique with a dash of song and dance" (Peter Debruge, Variety).

PATCH TOWN
Director: Craig Goodwill
Genre: Fantasy
DVD Street Date: August 11, 2015

1.78:1, 16x9 | 83 minutes | English | 5.1 Surround | Color

Bonus Features:
- "Patch Town", the award-winning short film that inspired the feature
- Animatic
- Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
- Casting Sessions
- Interview with the Director
- Outtakes
- Trailer

'FRIGHTMARE', 'DEMONOID', 'BLUE ICE' & 'NIGHTMARE WEEKEND' Making Blu-ray Debuts from VINEGAR SYNDROME thsi Fall!

FRIGHTMARE (1983) 

In September Vinegar Syndrome will be bringing the odd French/American co-production splatter film NIGHTMARE WEEKEND (1986) to Blu-ray/DVD in a brand new (and much brighter) 2K restoration! 

Then in October they will be releasing the Blu-ray debuts of Norman Thaddeus Vane's FRIGHTMARE (1983) and Alfredo Zacharias' DEMONOID (1981) (featuring both the domestic and international cuts of the film!). 

Also slated for October is Phillip Marshak's supremely weird hybrid of detective drama, film noir, light sci-fi, hardcore sex and Nazisploitation, BLUE ICE (1985).

'THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY' Makes Its BD/DVD Debut September 29th from Shout! Factory

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY
Critically-Acclaimed Fantasia Makes Its BD/DVD
Debut September 29th from Shout! Factory

Dripping with sumptuously surreal imagery, the critically acclaimed The Duke of Burgundy is a deliciously twisted tale of erotic obsession. Written and directed by Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio), this romantically lush yet darkly humorous film will make its Blu-ray and DVD debut September 29th from Shout! Factory, in partnership with Sundance Selects. A mesmerizing ode to Giallo and European art house cinema, The Duke of Burgundy features a lush chamber pop score by Cat’s Eyes and comes loaded with bonus features, including an interview with director Peter Strickland, audio commentary track with Peter Strickland, deleted scenes, a Cat’s Eyes music video, Peter Strickland’s short film Conduct Phase and more!

In a crumbling European estate, butterfly researcher Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen, Borgen, After The Wedding) and her lover Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna, Berberian Sound Studio) repeatedly enact a sadomasochistic role-playing game, with Cynthia as the stern mistress and Evelyn her subservient slave. But as the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and Cynthia grows increasingly uneasy with Evelyn’s insatiable appetite for punishment, their relationship is pushed to the limit.

The Duke of Burgundy Bonus Features:
· Interview with director Peter Strickland
· Audio Commentary track with director Peter Strickland
· Deleted Scenes
· Cat’s Eye Music Video
· Peter Strickland’s short film Conduct Phase
· Still Gallery
· Theatrical Trailer

'MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE' & 'MOSQUITO' on Blu-ray 10/13 from SYNAPSE FILMS@!

Synapse Films October 2015 New Releases

MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (1966) 


Label: Synapse Films
Release Date: October 13th 2015
Region Code: Region-FREE 
Duration: 74 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated 
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono Region: All
Director: Harold P. Warren
Cast: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Mahree, Hal Warren, Jackey Neyman

Synopsis: Mike (Harold P. Warren) and Maggie (Diane Mahree), on a road trip with their daughter and family dog, take a wrong turn in Texas and become trapped at a weird lodge inhabited by a polygamous pagan cult. They soon find themselves in the middle of a power struggle between caretaker Torgo (John Reynolds), cult leader The Master (Tom Neyman), and two warring factions of the Master's wives. As the family tries to escape, the worshipers of Manos decide their fate...

MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, the sole directorial effort of Texas fertilizer salesman Harold P. Warren, perplexed even the most jaded Drive-In audiences and was deemed by many the worst movie ever made. Nearly lost, the original 16mm Ektachrome film elements have been finally unearthed and lovingly restored by Ben Solovey to create the definitive version of this accidental masterpiece. There's no other movie like MANOS... now in HD with picture and sound unseen since 1966.

Bonus Features:
- New 2K restoration
- Audio Commentary
- Hands: The Fate of MANOS Featurette
- Restoring the Hands of Fate Featurette
- FELT: The Puppet Hands of Fate Featurette
- Manos: The Hands of Fate: Grindhouse Edition (Blu-ray ONLY Bonus)


MOSQUITO (1995) 
20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Label: Synapse Films
Release Date: October 13th 2015
Region Code: region-FREE
Duration: 92 Minutes
Rating: R 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English DTS 7.1 HD with English SDH, Spanish, French, German Subtitles
Director: Gary Jones
Cast: Gunnar Hansen, Ron Asheton, Steve Dixon, Rachel Loiselle, Tim Lovelace

Synopsis: Science-fiction becomes horrifyingly real for a park full of innocent campers, as a hideous horde of mutated mosquitos viciously attack without warning! A band of survivors flees the bloodthirsty swarm in a death-defying attempt to warn the world of the mosquito menace. Led by a brave young couple and a resourceful government agent, the group realizes their only hope is to take on the bloodthirsty bugs in an explosive final showdown! A chilling blend of sci-fi, humor and old-school horror, MOSQUITO is a tour de force of terror. Starring genre icon Gunnar Hansen (the original "Leatherface" from THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE) and the late, great Ron Asheton (founding member of the punk rock band, The Stooges), MOSQUITO is a gore-drenched tale made with traditional stop-motion and practical effects!

Bonus Features:
- Audio Commentary
- Bugging Out! - The Making of MOSQUITO
- Deleted/Extended Scenes
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Still Gallery
 - Theatrical Trailer



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ROLLER BOOGIE (1979)

ROLLER BOOGIE (1979) 


Label: Olive Films
Region Code: A
Rating: PG
Duration: 104 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Mark L. Lester
Cast: Linda Blair, James Van Patten, Mark Goddard, Beverly Garland


While I could never roller skate to save my life and I loathed disco music I must say that this is a fun slice of throwaway Seventies entertainment, a corny time capsule from a time when satin shirts, huge headphones, knee-high socks and the bubbly beat of disco ruled the landscape. 

Roller Boogie stars Linda Blair (The Exorcist) as bratty Terry Barkley, a flute-blowing musical prodigy in sunny California surrounded by snobbish friends who just don't understand her. One fine day down at the Venice Beach Boardwalk she meets a young roller skater named Bobby James (Tim Bray),  but she won't give the poor guy the time of day despite his best efforts. That all changes when Bobby later saves Terry from a skating accident at the local roller rink, a happening place for rollers called Jammers. 

Now intrigued by the young man Terry offers to pay Bobby to teach her how to roller skate, which the horny young man is only too happy to so. Bobby hopes to mold the foxy young lady into his partner in time for the upcoming roller disco contest at Jammers. Unfortunately the mafia is coercing the owner of roller rink to sell, now the contest - and Bobby's Olympic skating dreams - might just go up in smoke if the disco-loving teens cannot find a way to save the day. 

This slice of roller boogie confection has all the goofy charm of an episode of Scooby-Doo with mobbed-up bad guys and corny seventies fashions set to the non-stop sounds of that sweet disco music, not to mention plenty of fun choreographed roller-routines which are executed pretty well, it made me sort of jealous.

The acting is pretty awful across the board, even from the very capable Linda Blair, who at this point in her career was probably loaded with a nasal cavity full of rock candy. As someone who vehemently does loathes disco music I must say that I did sort of enjoy watching this, disco music reminds me of my mom, who I am quite sure loved this movie. It's a fun slice of disco corniness loaded with copious amounts of standard teen-love conventions such as lovers from the opposite side of the tracks, parents who just don't understand, friends who are snobbish, and some truly golden-brick dialogue from Blair who at one point screams at her Valium popping mother, "So what, I'm a musical genius! Whatta drag! Whatta bummer!". Not a good movie, but an pretty enjoyable bad movie if you are into such things.

The movie arrives on Blu-ray from distributor Olive Films with a solid HD transfer framed in the original widescreen aspect ratio with some very nice sharpness and clarity to it. Color reproduction is solid through and through, the garish 70s fashions pop off the screen and the skin tones look good, a very nice transfer. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono sound mix is just good enough, clean and well balanced, but the mono mix is flat and the disco soundtrack is not all that it could have been.There are no subtitle options, and no extras to speak of, a pretty standard bare bones release from Olive Films. 2/5