Tuesday, April 28, 2015

BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE (1970)

BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE (1970) 


Label: Arrow Video
Rating: A
Region Code: A
Duration: 85 Minutes 
Audio: Japanese LPCM 1.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Cast: Meiko Kaji, Hoki Tokuda, Makoto Satô
Director: Teruo Ishii


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

This is a strange one, a weird blend of a bad ass female Yakuza film and a cat ghost story (which s apparently a thing in Japan) wrapped up in a tale of vengeance and violence, one that is not easily categorized. The movie begins with an excellent stylized fight sequence with Akemi and her Tachibana Gang battling adversaries Goda Gang during a torrential downpour. The dragon-tattooed Tachibana are in fine form, but Akemo accidentally blinds Aiko (Hoki Tokuda), the sister of Boss Goda with her sword, afterward a black cat appears begins to lick the blood pouring from the blinding wound. The entire opening credit sequence is fantastic, rain-soaked and action-packed with effective use of still frames, it's a very stylish sequence bursting with color and violence.  


After the bloody battle Akemi is imprisoned for her crimes, when she is released three years later she resumes her role as the leader of the Tachibana Gang but now faces opposition from rivals Gang Boss Dobashi (Toru Abeand) the the Aozora Gang lead by the smelly Aozora (Ryohei Uchida). She must also contend with the fact that one of her own are conspiring against her with a rival boss. However, she is aided by a bad ass warrior named Tani (Makoto Sato) who aids the Tachibana in their battles throughout the neighborhood, enforcing his own brand of justice. 

The blinded woman from the start of the film reappears at a freaky sideshow as a knife thrower, and not long after members of Akemi's gang are found dead with their dragon tattoos skinned from their backs. Akemi is convinced that she has been cursed following the appearance of the black cat, a creature that has haunted her dreams for since the accidental blinding. The spooky black cat's reappearance gives the film a strange supernatural vibe, even if it's not fleshed out in a satisfactory way I appreciated the mash-up of genres. 

The Blu-ray from Arrow Video looks fantastic, bold colors and sourced from a great looking print. The Japanese LPCM 1.0 Mono audio presentation is decent, not the cleanest presentation you could hope for on Blu-ray with some minor instances of distortion along the way but overall is damn decent Blu-ray edition of Blind Woman's Curse (1970) which is making it Blu-ray debut in North America here from Arrow Video. 

Bonus features are pretty slim by Arrow Video standards but are nothing to scoff at, beginning with an info packed audio commentary from noted Japanese film scholar Japser Sharp, who also wrote the liner notes for the Impulse Picture's Nikkatsu Collection DVDs. There's also a theatrical trailer for the film, four more trailers for Nikkatsu film starring Meiko Kaji, plus a reversible sleeve of artwork and a collector's booklet with new writing on the film. 

A weird and confusing tale of female Yakuza revenge with some supernatural elements and some fantastic imagery. Admittedly I didn't quite follow everything the first time around but I enjoyed it quite a bit just the same, was even better the second time around, a very entertaining revenge film laced with betrayal and some supernatural charms. *** 3/5

EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

Label: Scream Factory / IFC Midnight 
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 101 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Colin Minihan
Cast: Michael Ironside, Freddie Stroma, Brittany Allen, Anja Savcic, Jesse Moss, Gil Bellows, Melanie Papalia

Extraterrestrial (2014) starts off with a frantic young woman (Emily Perkins) who arrives in a panic outside a rural convenience store just as they've close up shop for the night. Seeing a phone booth nearby she runs to it and frantically dials for help, as she is doing so  the booth's light flicker on and off and in a brilliant burst of light she disappears, not just her but the entire phone booth. The next scene features the store clerk admitting to the local sheriff (Gil Bellows) that while he may have a history of ingesting hallucinogenic drugs what he saw that night was some seriously freaky shit. It's a nice start and felt very much like an X-Files episode, which is quite appropriate.  

Next up we meet a young college couple, April (Brittany Allen) and her boyfriend Hyle (Freddie Stroma), whom are off to April's family's cabin in the woods. She's going out to the cabin to snap a few pics of the property for her mother who is selling the property following her divorce. Unexpectedly tagging along for the weekend getaway are Seth (Jesse Moss) and his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic) plus April's best friend Melanie (Melanie Papalia). The three pile into an SUV and head off to the rural properly for a weekend of fun, we have the typical assortment of 20-something shenanigans, a montage of illicit fireworks, drinking and smoking weed and some relationship turmoil thrown into the mix. So far we have a group of five young people and a cabin in the woods, we're on pretty familiar territory and there's not much new under the sun and we sort of know where we're headed... until a fireball falls from the sky exploding into the nearby forest.

Drunk and curious our group arrive at the scene of the crash where they discover not a meteor but a UFO straight out of Mar's Attacks! Furthermore they find a set of alien footprints leading off into the woods in the direction of their cabin. Unfortunately for them they do not just jump into their car and head get the Hell out of there, of course not, instead they head back to the cabin which just happens to be the same direction as the alien foot prints seem to have been headed. What I sort of love about this film is that the  Vicious Brothers are not out to reinvent the alien encounter film, instead they cram a lot of familiar tropes and mash it up with a cabin in the woods movie, and it's pretty effective stuff. 

Beginning with the characters we have a a typical cross-section of 20-somethings, April and Kyle are a sweet young couple experiencing some relationship troubles, they each have some minor depth to them which makes sense since they are the main characters. Their three friends are rather annoying from the start, especially Seth, but even he managed to grows on me before the inevitable body count begins,he suffers a particularly painful dismemberment and anal-plunging at the hands of the aliens. Separate from the group of friends we have the weed-growing neighbor played by the always awesome Michael Ironside, a 'Nam vet with a penchant for conspiracies who doesn't appreciate any sort of intrusion on his property. I only wish we had more of him but what we do get is pretty awesome, he adds some flavor to what is really a minor character. Additionally we have Gil Bellows as the local Sheriff and his deputy investigating the strange disappearance at the start of the film, they have a great scene in the squad car when they encounter one of the aliens, which is very memorable and a bit gory. 

It's a low-budget movie but looks great, shot on Red HD cameras the film is surprisingly polished with some nice locations and great lighting, you can see the tiny budget onscreen with loads of production value, quality digital effects and some great atmospheric lighting. Visually this one top notch production, major kudos to the production team for what they were able to get onscreen. The aliens look very good, again they're not reinventing the wheel here and keep with the standard large-eyed greys familiar to us in everything from Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind on through to the X-Files. 


At one point we arrive on the alien ship, which broadens the scope of the film, giving it a Fire In The Sky vibe by way of the Matrix, quite a feat for a low-budget movie but they pull it off well enough with scenes of slime covered cocoons and the not-unexpected bloody anal-probing, we get a nice balance of sci-fi and horrific gruesomeness throughout.

A fun watch, a mix of sci-fi and horror tropes mashed-up in a way that is fast paced and entertaining, even the love story that figures strongly into the finale didn't feel too forced. The inclusion of the Magnetic Fields tune "Book of Love" is a nice counterpoint to the nihilistic ending, which is dark, and includes an possible homage to the X-Files character Cigarette Smoking Man along with a great government cover-up to top it off. 

Audio/Video: The Blu-ray from Scream Factory  and IFC Midnight is solid with a crisp HD image with strong color saturation and black levels, a top notch presentation. The English 7.1 DTS-HD MA is powerful and immersive, the bombastic low-end blast that announces the arrival of the alien spacecraft was intense and rattled my shelves, plus the soundtrack featuring Crystal Castles, Magnetic Fields and Elton John among others sounds terrific.

Bonus content on the disc begins with an audio commentary with the Vicious Brothers and actors Brittany Allen And Melanie Papalia, The breezy commentary features the Vicious Brothers chime in from time to time with technical talk about lens choices and creating the many effects for the film, but mostly it's just commenting on scenes with anecdotes about making the film. Additionally there are a collection of deleted scenes, a making of featurette and a trailer for the film, plus additional trailers from IFC Midnight. Non disc extras include a slipcase and a reversible sleeve of artwork, which I always appreciate. 

Special Features
- Audio Commentary With The Vicious Brothers and Actors Brittany Allen and Melanie Papalia
- Deleted Scenes (7 Mins) HD
- The Making Of Extraterrestrial Featurette (8 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins)

- IFC Midnight Trailers ( 6 Mins) HD 

Loved this one from start to finish, a spunky sci-fi horror mash-up with some quality special effects and a good cast. Proof that it doesn't have to be an original idea to give it a recommend, just entertaining, which this certainly is. *** 3/5 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

LORD OF THE FLIES (1990)

LORD OF THE FLIES (1990) 

Label: Olive Films
Release Date: April 28th 2015 
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Harry Hook
Cast: Balthazar Getty, Chris Furrh, Danuel Pipoly


Synopsis: Lord of the Flies stars Balthazar Getty (Lost Highway) in an adventure tale based on the classic novel by William Golding. When an aircraft carrying a group of military school cadets is forced to crash land in an uninhabited Pacific jungle, it is survival of the fittest, man against nature, and boy against boy as sides are drawn when the hunters become the hunted.

I was still a sophomore in high school when Harry Hook's Lord of the Flies adaptation came to the cinema. At the time I just happened to be reading William Golding's source material novel for a class assignment and having just finished the fantastic novel I was pretty stoked to see a big screen adaptation. At the time I was unaware of the 1963 film and as such my viewing was not skewed by a comparison of the two films, just on the novel, and I loved it.


It was a harrowing viewing marked by the surprising savagery of children left to their own devices far from the eyes of parents and teachers. Now, looking back through the years in the aftermath of numerous school shootings in a post Battle Royale era the savagery of the kids is far less surprising, it's almost expected. 


While the original was shot in black and white this more contemporary version was shot in the tropics and is a feast for the eyes loaded with picturesque beaches, luscious green jungle and a stunning array of blue vistas and iridescent sunsets, on just a purely visual level this is quite an attractive film from the first frame on through to the last, the gorgeous natural beauty is a nice counterpoint to the darker savagery.

Watching it now I can see that the unfolding drama suffers the same shortcoming as the '63 original, the young cast is a bit spotty in places but not awful, they're just young, inexperienced cast. Getty and Furrh are solid in their respective roles, and Pipoly as Piggy is good, but this time around I found him rather annoying, which is by design. he comes off as weak and whiny despite being well intentioned, it's easy to see why he grated on the nerves of the other boys. His demise is brutal, even more so than in the original film, a death which traumatized me as a youth, still packing quite a wallop even now.


Piggy of course is not the only victim of the adolescent savagery which erupts on the island, both the pilot of the downed aircraft and another cadet fall victim to their sharp-tipped wooden spears, the cadet is speared repeatedly by his fellow cadets in the dark of night, having mistaken him for a monster they believe to inhabit the island. 



The story is pretty solid, children turned into savages without the constraint of society and the rule of adults. This adaptation follows the same template as the original film with only some minor updating beginning with the kids being American military cadets as opposed to British school children. Their arrival on the island is a bit more fleshed-out, the original movie started with Ralph and Piggy already in the island following a series of still frames, this version begins with a slightly artful underwater sequence before the kids arrive on the island together. Not all the updates are for the better though, around the campfire a kids name drops the '80s sci-fi sitcom Alf of all things, which sort of horribly dates it.

The Blu-ray from Olive Films looks pretty great, presenting the film with a 1080p HD transfer in the original widescreen aspect ratio sporting a fine layer of fine film grain. Colors are vibrant and the black levels are decent with some nice shadow detail with a modest amount of depth and some fine detail. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 English audio is solid, blending the tropical sounds of the island, dialogue and composer Philippe Sarde's score seamlessly and well-balanced, a very nice A/V presentation all around. Unfortunately there are no bonus features on the disc whatsoever but the disc's audio-visual merits are quite nice


While the '90 version lacks some of the depth of the original it does manage to stay close to the original story and in my opinion slightly improves upon it in certain respects, with a gorgeous array of tropic beauty and more visceral savagery on the part of the unruly kids, which make for quite a thrilling watch.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

BREAKING GLASS PICTURES TO RELEASE 'WHITE RABBIT' ON DVD MAY 12

Britt Robertson, Sam Trammell and Nick Krause Star in White Rabbit
 
"..strong performances and impressive cinematography.." - The Hollywood Reporter
 
Breaking Glass Pictures will be releasing White Rabbit on DVD May 12, 2015. Directed by Tim McCann, White Rabbit is a psychological thriller starring Sam Trammell ("True Blood," The Fault in our Stars), Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride, Tomorrowland), Nick Krause (The Descendants, Boyhood) and Ryan Lee (Super 8, Goosebumps). Following in the tradition of Gus Van Sant's acclaimed Elephant, this intense drama follows a bullied high school student's descent into madness.
 
Nick Krause, who starred opposite George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in The Descendants, plays a troubled teen that has been tormented by visions since his alcoholic father (Trammell) forced him to kill an innocent rabbit while hunting as a boy. Now that Harlon (Krause) is a bullied high school student, his undiagnosed mental illness is getting worse. He begins to hear voices and his imagination encourages him to carry out violent acts. Things begin to look up when Julie (Robertson), a rebellious young girl, moves to town and befriends Harlon. But when she betrays him, the rabbit along with other imaginary comic book characters taunt him into committing one final act of revenge.
 
White Rabbit made its world premiere at Zurich Film Festival and saw its North American premiere at the 2014 Catalina Film Festival where it won Best Feature Film. The film also won Best Cinematography at Chelsea Film Festival and Best Actor (Krause), Best Supporting Actor (Trammell), and Best Supporting Actress (Robertson) at the Boston Film Festival. White Rabbit was released in theaters and VOD on February 13th

Adam Rifkin's Documentary GIUSEPPE MAKES A MOVIE (2014) Coming to Blu-ray June 9th


GIUSEPPE MAKES A MOVIE (2014) 
Label: CineliciousPics
Street Date: June 9th 2015
Duration: 82 Minutes
Color and Black and White 

Mixed Aspect Ratio 
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo 
Region A
Genre: Documentary Not Rated
Director: Adam Rifkin
Cast: Giuseppe Andrews, Big Ed, Vietnam Ron, Miles Dougal, Walt Dongo, Tyree, Sir Bigfoot George, Spit, Walter Patterson, Tiffany Naylor, Bill Nowlin, Mary


Synopsis: While the rest of America slept, DIY filmmaker/musician Giuseppe Andrews (a one-time teen actor in Independence Day and Detroit Rock City) has made over 30 experimental features with titles like Doily’s Summer of Freak Occurrences, Trailer Town and Utopia Blues. Set in some demented alternate universe (i.e. Ventura, California), they are populated by real-life alcoholics and drug addicts, trash-talking senior citizens and trailer park residents dressed in cow outfits and costume-shop wigs, acting out booze-fueled vignettes of severe psychosis filtered through Giuseppe’s John Waters-meets-Harmony Korine-meets-Werner Herzog sensibility.

Director Adam Rifkin (Look, The Dark Backward) creates a wildly surreal, outrageously funny and strangely touching portrait of a truly Outsider Artist inhabiting a world few of us even know exists, as he follows Giuseppe and his seriously impaired troupe on the production of his latest 2-day opus, Garbanzo Gas, starring Vietnam Ron as a Cow given a weekend reprieve from the slaughterhouse at the local motel. Beyond the sun-stroked Theater of the Absurd madness of Giuseppe’s vision, there is a remarkable and endearing sense of family among the director, his amiably bonkers dad Ed, patient girlfriend Mary, Sir Bigfoot George and the rest of his surreal Trailer Park rep company.

As skate-punk Spit sagely observes about Giuseppe’s movies: “They’re just like, nothing really makes any sense, and I don’t know, that’s kinda how reality is, and nobody really cares to accept that.”

The stranger-than-fiction documentary explores the Giuseppe universe, showing how the self-taught filmmaker captures an unexpected level of humanism and creates a family unit for a group of people who need one.

WEBSITE: http://giuseppemakesamovie.com/

Bonus Features:
- Trailer, Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Garbanzo Gas feature film
- Highlight Reel
- Interview with Giuseppe Andrews
- Interview with Bill Nowlin
- 5TH Wheel TV Pilot







Reviews:
AMERICAN MOVIE meets Charles Bukowski in a trailer park.
-Bobcat Goldthwait

A swift, at times riotous walk on the wild side with the ultimate independent filmmaker
-LA Times

Makes John Waters's PIK FLAMINGOS look like GONE WITH THE WIND.
-New York Times


THE TRAIN (1964) AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY MAY 11th FROM ARROW ACADEMY


THE TRAIN (1964) 


ONE MAN’S IMPOSSIBLE MISSION – TO SAVE HIS COUNTRY’S PRICELESS TREASURES

Label: Arrow Academy 
Release Date: Monday 11th May 2015
Certificate: PG
Language: English
Running Time: 133 minutes
Region: B
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: 1.0 Mono
Colour: Black and White

Following the success of Brute Force, The Killers and Sweet Smell of Success, Arrow Academy is delighted to announce their latest Burt Lancaster title, John Frankenheimer’s classic war picture, The Train. Often hailed as the film which set the template for Die Hard and that particular brand of action movie, The Train will arrive on Blu-ray from 11th May 2015.

The high definition presentation of the film will be accompanied by an audio commentary with John Frankenheimer, an isolated score option and a newly-filmed interview with Burt Lancaster’s biographer, Kate Buford, tracing the actor’s career throughout the decade.

Also present are a French television news report on the making of The Train, containing interviews with the locals of Acquigny who assisted in its production, an archive interview with actor Michel Simon, footage from the film’s gala screening in Marseilles and the theatrical trailer.

The Blu-ray will also come with new artwork by Vladimir Zimakov and a collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Sheldon Hall, illustrated with archive stills and posters.

SYNOPSIS
Directed by John Frankenheimer at the peak of his powers, The Train was made during a tremendous run of top-class pictures that also included Birdman of Alcatraz, Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate, with Seconds soon to follow.

France, 1944. Art lover and fanatical Nazi Colonel Von Waldheim has plundered a Paris museum for its masterpieces, including works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Cezanne. His intention is to have them transported by rail to Berlin, but one man stands in his way. Aware that the Allied forces are fast approaching the French capital, Resistance fighter Labiche need only stall the train for a few more days, but he’ll have to use all of his wits and skills to do so.

Featuring two Oscar-winners in its lead roles – Burt Lancaster as Labiche and Paul Scofield as Von Waldheim – and Jeanne Moreau and Michel Simon in support, The Train combines star power with spectacular action sequences to produce a classic war movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES
· High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film
· Uncompressed 1.0 mono PCM audio
· Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
· Audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer
· Optional isolated score by Maurice Jarre
· Burt Lancaster in the Sixties – a newly-filmed interview with Lancaster’s biographer Kate Buford, tracing the actor’s career throughout the decade
· French television news report on the making of The Train, containing interviews with the locals of Acquigny
· Archive interview with Michel Simon
· Footage of The Train’s gala screening in Marseilles
· Theatrical Trailer
· Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov
· Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Sheldon Hall, illustrated with original stills and artwork

Scream Factory Presents TENTACLES (1977) & REPTILICUS (1961) on Blu-ray June 16th


TENTACLES (1977) / REPTILICUS (1961) 

On Blu-ray June 16, 2015

Invincible…Indestructible! Two underwater creature shockers on Blu-ray for the first time! Scream Factory proudly presents the monstrous arrival of Tentacles and Reptilicus in a double feature Blu-ray release on June 16, 2015.

TENTACLES
It's angry. It's hungry. It's extremely well-armed and it's descending on a small seaside town to sample the local cuisine! John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins and Henry Fonda do all they can to keep a giant marine menace from turning their sleepy village into a one-stop snack-shop in this fast-paced thriller! Directed by cult director/producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (Beyond the Door, The Visitor, The Curse), Tentacles is a menacing jolt-a-thon that'll grip you with relentless terror and never let go!



SPECIAL FEATURES:
· Theatrical Trailer
· Photo Gallery
· Radio Spot

REPTILICUS
Discover the true meaning of survival of the fittest, as a terrifying creature from the past brings the future to its knees! Packed with thrills, chills and prehistoric spills, Reptilicus proves that "if cats have nine lives, monsters have even more" (Citizen News)! Directed by Sidney W. Pink (writer and producer of the cult films The Angry Red Planet, Pyro), Reptilicus is a spine-chilling creature feature about a cold-blooded 90-foot killer whose time has come... again!

SPECIAL FEATURES:
· Theatrical Trailer
· Photo Gallery
· Brand New 1.66: 1 Widescreen HD transfer

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (1987)

FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (1987)

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code:
Duration: 99 Minutes
Rating: R
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Jeff Burr
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Clu Gulager, Susan Tyrrell, Terry Kiser. Lawrence Tierney, Martine Beswick, Vincent Price

Horror anthologies are the comfort food of horror cinema, tiny vignettes of the mad and the macabre you can watch in one sitting or enjoy in bite-size chunks at your convenience, something you can watch a bit of and walk away from and then pick-up again a day or two later, maybe after work, which is how I usually digest them. 

Jeff Burr's anthology From a Whisper to a Scream, alternately known as The Offspring, begins with a pretty decent wrap-around device, and how could it not be, starring horror legend Vincent Price (The Last Man on Earth) as Julian White, the town librarian of Oldfield, Tennessee. He is sought after by a young reporter  (Susan Tyrrell, Cry-Baby) who is curious as to why the old codger did not attend the execution of his murderous niece (Martine Beswicke, From Russia With Love). As the conversation begins he spins a series of tales about the inhabitants of Oldefield throughout history, beginning with a tale of resident sicko Stanley Burnside. 

Stanley Burnside (Clu Gulager, The Initiation) was an awkward grocery clerk who lived with his sickly sister Eileen (Miriam Byrd-Nethery, Leatherface). The two share a strangely intimate relationship with Stanley regularly bathing his nude sibling. Aside from his weird relationship with his sister it turns out that Stanley is creepily obsessed with boss, an attractive woman named Grace (Meghan McFarland), with whom he tries to make conversation with but just comes across as a weirdo. Eventually he manages to invite her to dinner, which she accepts. Unable to control himself on the date Stanley makes a pass at her, however, when she refuses his advances his intimacy turns to murder. Of course, old Stanley is not gonna let something a simple as death stop him from fornicating with her lifeless body. Needless to say the film goes where you might expect, and then it goes a few places you might not! Clu Gulager is fantastic as the creepy weirdo who suffers from the worst kind of nightmares, waking up in a fright, unleashing a nerve rattling scream that you won't soon forget, this one is a perverse shocker. Apparently the segment so angered Forry Ackerman of Famous Monsters magazine that he wrote a letter to Vincent Price decrying the damn thing, poor Uncle Forry couldn't handle the combination of possible incest, murder, necrophilia and demon babies, it's potent stuff, and not for everyone. 

The second story is set in the 1950s and concerns a criminal by the name of Jesse (Terry Kiser, Weekend At Bernie's) who is betrayed by his conniving girlfriend who drops a dime on the guy to a pair of gangsters who want him dead. After shooting him they leave him for dead in the swamp, where he is found and nursed back to health by an old swamp rat named Felder (Harry Caesar). As the two get to know each other it becomes evident that Felder is keeping a secret from Jesse, in fact he might be holding onto the secret to immortality and Jesse wants in on the secret. Of course, messing with someone who may or may not dabble in the occult is risky business and Jesse might just live long enough to regret his decision to betray Felder.

Onto the third story we move even further back in time, to a carnival side show during the 1930s where a local girl named Amaryllis (Didi Lanier) carries a torch for the carnival's resident glass-eater, a strapping young man named Steve (Ron Brooks, Leatherface), The relationship that must be kept a secret from the carnival Snakewoman (Rosalind Cash, The Omega Man), a controlling woman who does not approve of the romance with a local girl. The young lovers defy her at their own peril which ends with the young glass chomper being torn apart from within, this one is a very grotesque entry and the gore-fiends should enjoy it. This one benefits from some great carnival atmosphere and some gruesome flesh-tearing gore, not the best of the bunch but my second favorite so far. 

Keeping with the rhythm of the anthology the fourth and final segment reaches even further back into the history of Oldfield, set during the final days of the American Civil War as Union Sgt. Gallen (Cameron Mitchell, Raw Force) and his small band of men happen upon a farmhouse inhabited by what appear to be war-orphans, but these killer kiddies have a deadly secret. Sgt. Gallen is quite a despicable character from the onset,established as war profiteer and a cold-blooded murderer, what he and his men have coming to them is very well undeserved. Unfortunately the story makes for a lacklustre finale to an otherwise damn decent anthology, this is the one that should have been relegated to the middle of the film so it could have finished-up with something a bit more memorable or punchy in my opinion. 

The wrap-around device with Vincent Price ends quite appropriately, further feeding into the story of Oldfield being an epicenter of evil. From a Whisper to a Scream stands tall and is one of only a handful of anthologies from the '80s that manages to maintain a decent following. While maybe not quite on par with a classic such as Creepshow this one certainly has enough creepy charm to keep me coming back, that it is one of the more gruesome anthologies entities certainly doesn't hurt either,. 

Audio/Video: Jeff Burr's From A Whisper To A Scream (1987) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a 1080p HD transfer framed in the original widescreen (1.85:1) aspect ratio. The source material looks good with some minimal white speckling and minor dirt throughout but overall an impressive presentation. Colors are strong and despite heavy grain does show some minor depth and clarity, not an overwhelming abundance of fine detail but quite an improvement over the 2006 MGM DVD. Despite being advertised on the jacket as sporting a DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track what we actually have is a LPCM 2.0. It does the job, the mix is decent and well-balanced but lat and unremarkable.

The A/V merits could be better but Scream Factory and Ballyhoo Motion Pictures have done as exquisite job with the extras for this release beginning with a brand-new audio commentary with Writer/Director Jeff Burr
and a second track with Writer/Producer Darin Scott And Writer C. Courtney Joyner. I only fast-forwarded through the Burr commentary and must say it was pretty damn entertaining with loads of behind-the-scenes anecdotes. I will definitely be revisiting the commentaries for this one again in their entirety next time I find myself doing some chores around the front of the house.

Motion Ballyhoo Motion Pictures have also produced two feature-length documentaries for this release.  A Decade Under The Innocence (77 Mins) is a doc about the Super 8 film culture that developed in Dalton, Georgia in the '70s, among them director Jeff Burr and many like minded folks who found each other through their love of film making, the film tracks their amateur film adventures from middle school on through to their days in college and beyond. There are loads of clips from the Super 8mm films they made, this was a fantastic watch and a nice companion piece to the film in a weird way. 

The Return To Oldfield (116 Mins) documentary covers the making of the film from the very beginning on through to the finish with new interviews from Director Jeff Burr, Producer Darin Scott, Co-Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner, Actor Clu Gulager and many more. My favorite interviews are if Burr's recalling how he found out where Vincent Price lived and walking-up to his front door, the director was a bundle of nerves, and surprised when Price himself answered the door, apparently in his kitchen baking bread at the time. Equally amusing are the anecdotes of Price's unhappiness on set, particularly after ruining one of Price's own vintage jackets during the making of the film. Additionally there's a trailer, TV spots and an image gallery with commentary from writer/director Jeff Burr, plus a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring the alternate title of the film, The Offspring. 

Special Features:
- Return To Oldfield - A Comprehensive Feature-Length Documentary About The Making Of From A Whisper To A Scream, Featuring Director Jeff Burr, Producer Darin Scott, Co-Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner, Actor Clu Gulagar And More! (116 Mins) HD
- A Decade Under The Innocence - A Feature-Length Documentary About Teenage Adventures In 'Super 8' Filmmaking During The 1970's In Georgia, Featuring Director Jeff Burr And More! (77 Mins) HD
- New Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Jeff Burr
- Audio Commentary With Writer/Producer Darin Scott And Writer C. Courtney Joyner
- Still Gallery With Commentary By Writer/Director Jeff Burr (10 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer
- "The Offspring" TV Spots (2 Mins) HD


From A Whisper To A Scream is a bonafide '80s horror anthology made my young first-time filmmakers who clearly loved horror and the anthology format in particular, and they did a great job their first-time out! Scream Factory have put a lot of love into this one, the PQ is decent but the special features are something special. The perverse vignette with Clu Gulager is worth the price of admission alone, but everything else after is just gravy, highly recommended.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Artsploitation Films Returns with a Vengeance


The Indie Distribution Company Announces a Diverse Slate of Genre Films



After a hiatus of 16 months, alternative North American film distribution company Artsploitation Films (www.artsploitation.com) has announced its upcoming summer line-up of international films. From the comedic to the horrific; the unsettling to the blood-curdling; and from the erotic to the controversial, the films showcase the best and most innovative genre movies the world has to offer.

The announced selection of 10 titles begins June 9th with the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the German slasher film and film festival favorite DER SAMURAI and features films from 6 different countries. Showcased is a cross-dressing, samurai sword-wielding killer (DER SAMURAI); a middle-class snuff-making suburban couple (THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES); a group of cub scouts who should not have gone into the woods (CUB); a porno director’s bed-hopping search for his next female star (TRANSGRESSION); a young girl tormented by psycho-sexual dreams (HORSEHEAD); a money-desperate drug dealer who will stop at nothing (DEALER); a kidnapped woman more duplicitous than her abductors (RECKLESS); and, coming this Fall, a severed hand bent on bloody revenge…and bodily reunification (BLOODY KNUCKLES). And there is not a G–rated children’s film in the bunch!

There will be several limited theatrical releases (FEVER and DEATH IN BUENOS AIRES this summer) and most films will go out day and date on DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD. Artsploitation’s founder, Raymond Murray, sums up the company’s acquisitions philosophy as, “We seek entertaining and provocative films that encompass our admittedly left-of-center film aesthetic. My goal is to find films that my team and I love but then the hard work begins: connecting each film with its targeted, often quite specialized audience. And remember, hundreds of fictional men, women and children have been killed, kidnapped, tormented, or have had their blood sucked out of them and the least we can do is connect their stories with their future fans.”

The slate of titles are below with more films to be announced in the coming weeks.
DER SAMURAI
(2014, Germany, Director: Till Kleinert)
Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: June 9, 20015

A young police officer stalks a cross-dressing villain with a sword and a predilection for beheadings.

"A fantastic piece of cinema...beautiful and blood drenched."
- Ain't It Cool News

Bonus features:
Director's commentary
Making of featurette






THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES
(2013, USA, Directors: Jay Lee and Jim Roof)
DVD Release Date: June 16, 2015

This grisly horror-comedy follows a nice couple who happen to also be serial killers and snuff filmmakers.

"One of the greatest horror films of the century."
- Film Radar
 
Bonus features:
Director's commentary
Sizzle reel
Gag reel





HORSEHEAD
(2014, France, Director: Romain Basset)
Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: June 23, 2015

A shocking horror-fantasy about a young woman haunted by nightmares involving a horse-man.

"Well acted, gorgeously and nightmarishly executed."
- Ain't It Cool News

Bonus features:
Making of featurette (60 minutes)
Four short films






THE TREATMENT
(2014, Belgium, Director: Hans Herbots)
Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: July 7, 2015

A murder-mystery about a cop seeking a maniac who torments the parents before abducting their kids. Based on the international best seller by Mo Hayder.

"Exceptionally well made…incredibly creative and the twists come as huge surprises."
- Influx Magazine

Trailer:
https://vimeo.com/124133052





RECKLESS
(2014, Netherland, Directed by Joram Lürsen)
DVD Release Date: July 14, 2015

A wealthy beautiful woman is kidnapped by two ex-cons but their plan goes all wrong in this twisted thriller.  Based on 2009's The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Trailer:
https://vimeo.com/124133699









TRANSGRESSION
(2014, France, Director: Jean-François Davy)
DVD Release Date: July 28, 2015

A semi-documentary about a seasoned French erotic filmmaker who goes on an unusual flesh and sex filled tour of Eastern Europe in search of his next leading lady.
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/124357796

Bonus feature:
Director's cut of EXHIBITION, Jean-François Davy's 1975 documentary on the French porn industry.







CUB
(2014, Belgium, Director: Jonas Govaerts)
Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: August 18, 2015

A camping trip turns into a carnage for a troop of cub scouts as a killer, aided by his feral young assistant, stalks them with deadly traps.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l75j-JeFM1c

Festival screenings:
2014 Toronto International, 2014 Sitges Film Festival, 2014 London Film Festival





THE SUMMER HOUSE
(2014, Germany, Director: Curtis Burz)
DVD Release Date: August 25, 2015

A psycho-sexual drama in which a middle-aged family man’s sexual attraction to his daughter’s young friend threatens the stability of his family.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/120181262

DEATH IN BUENOS AIRES
(2014, Argentina,
Director: Natalia Meta)

DVD Release Date: September 8, 2015

A rookie cop to goes undercover in Buenos Aires’ gay underworld to solve a murder in this crime thriller that was one of Argentina’s top grossing films of 2014.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-CB7GLfhMk
DEALER
(2014, France, Director: Jean-Luc Herbulot)
DVD Release Date: September 29, 2015

A stylish, violent thriller about a drug dealer who is thrown into an urban hell when a deal goes sour.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re5e914SnQ8