Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CEMETERY SISTERS (1988) (DVD Review)

CEMETERY SISTERS (1988) 

Label: Olive Films I Slasher // Video

Region: 1 NTSC 
Rated: Unrated
Duration: 58 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: Full Frame (1.33:1) 
Director: Nick Millard
Actors: Joan Simon, Leslie Simon, Albert Eskinazi, Irmgard Millard


Synopsis: Sisters Joan and Leslie (Joan Simon and Leslie Simon) are no strangers to the dead. Having grown up around the family mortuary business, they have a comfortable appreciation for that fact of life. Being goal-oriented siblings, they, too, would like to start their own mortuary business. But, how? A plot to provide a healthy client roster (as well as a means of funding the enterprise) will involve multiple marriages, multiple murders and multiple corpses in the never-less-than-entertaining Cemetery Sisters. Cemetery Sisters, directed by Nick Millard (Death Nurse, Death Nurse 2), stars real life sisters Joan Simon and Leslie Simon in their one and only film appearance, Albert Eskinazi (Death Nurse, Death Nurse 2) and Irmgard Millard (The Terrorists).

Aaah, the nostalgic video magic of a vintage shot-on-video production from none other than Nick Milland, director of the Death Nurse series of movies and other assorted cinema atrocities. Cemetery Sisters (1988) stars real life sisters Joan Simon and Leslie Simon... as the aptly named Joan and Leslie. Two death-obsessed siblings who prowl the single ads in an age before the Internet, looking for lonely men to marry in short order. After the nuptials the men always wind up dead, stabbed to death, with the widow collecting the life insurance money. 


To what end are these sisters working towards, you might ask. Well, it seems these two young women were raised in a mortuary and long to get back into the family business, and these unfortunate lonely souls they're murdering are the key to their dreams. Things seem to be going well for the nicely '80s coiffed ladies, that is until just after they murder one of their new hubbies and before they can dispose of the bloody body properly their newly single and sex-crazed auntie arrives at the door step looking for a place to crash until the ink is dry on her divorce papers, throwing a wrench into the murderous women's plans. 

Even a particularly good shot-on-video movie can be a chore to sit through, everyone of them is a cash-strapped production with few resources and this one is no different, but there's a strange and hypnotic quality about this one at times, while it's not on par with the demented mind-melting madness of David A. Prior's Sledgehammer (1983) or the Canadian nightmare Things (1989) this one is not without a certain schlocky charm, which I attribute solely to the performances of Joan and Leslie Simon who have an inherent chemistry and line delivery which I found fascinating. 



The video production itself is very plain, Millard is a man with a VHS camcorder slung over his shoulder capturing moving images on 3/4" tape... and that's about that is about the extent of the artistry of this one, which only just barely gets by just on the charm of the three women on-camera, but c'mon, does that translate to a good movie? The answer is a resounding no, the production is so anemic that the director found a way to string-in 10 minutes worth of his previous movies Criminally Insane and Satan’s Black Wedding into a flashback sequence, which even then only pushes this movie to the fifty-nine minute mark.

Audio/Video: Disclaimer: Cemetery Sisters, originally Shot On Video, is presented using the best available elements provided by Slasher // Video. Yup, it look and sounds just like a not-so-worn VHS tape. Come into it with some realistic expectations, you cannot polish a turd, they can only present it as best they can with the materials they have at hand... and this is a turd.


Extras include an audio commentary with Director Nick Millard, Producer Irmi Millard, and Jesus Terán of Slasher // Video, old Millard is still sharp and as a tack and loves talking about the no-budget production. There's also a 25-minute Q and A with Irma and Nick, some outtakes, artwork from Jazmin Martinez who did the artwork for the original Slasher // Video DVD release, a photo gallery the 3-minute short film Death Sisters starring Nick Millard and Irmi Millard, it appears to have been shot by Teran around the time of the Q and A on the disc. Slasher // Video and Martini Entertainment, a division of Olive Films, have been doing a great job with the artwork for the Slasher // Video titles, and this repackaging of Cemetery sisters looks great from the outside, what you think of what's on the inside will vary on your tolerance of SOV movies. 

Special Features: 

- Audio Commentary with Director Nick Millard, Producer Irmi Millard, and Jesus Terán of Slasher // Video
- Q and A with Nick and Irmi (25 Mins) 
- Death Sisters (Short Film) (3 Mins) 
- Production Outtakes (4 Mins) 
- The Art of Jazmin Martinez (4 Mins) 
- Photo Gallery (6 Mins) 

- Cemetery Sisters Trailer (3 Mins) 


Cemetery Sisters is a nostalgic reminder of a time when the VHS tape was king and is proof that pretty much anything by anyone could be released on VHS back then, which I guess is not too dissimilar to whats happening now. Anyone can make a movie on their iPhone nowadays, and distribute it through any number of digital on-demand platforms, including YouTube, but back in the '80s for a period of time you could make a buck with what amounted to a glorified home movie such as this. As trashy as this movie might be I have to wonder if in a few decades time will there be someone like Slasher // Video's Jesus Teran releasing commemorative special editions of any of these no-budget horror movies shot on iPhone and consumer grade digital equipment? I would love to think that two decades from now there might be an HD formatted special edition of Chuck Conry's Morbid, a movie I didn't love, but I certainly enjoyed more than this movie right here, but someone loves this movie, and I love that. I certainly hope there's a physical format of some sort in twenty-years and that someone is curating a trash-cinema library for a new generation of cult movie lovers who love to root through the cinema trash heap in search of obscure stuff from a bygone era. 2/5 

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