Saturday, April 16, 2016

DESTROYER (1988) / EDGE OF SANITY (1989) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory:

Region: A
Rating: R 
Duration: 94 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Option English SDH
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Robert Kirk 
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Clayton Rohner, Deborah Foreman, Lyle Alzado

The late-80's were a fertile time for prison-bound horror movies, in just '88 and '89 alone saw the release of Prison (1988), The Horror Show (1989) and Wes Craven's Shocker (1989). Scream Factory have seemingly cornered the market on late eighties prison-set horror movies having released all three on Blu-ray, and they've added Destroyer (1989) to the docket, yet another jail house supernatural thriller featuring a hulking killer sent to the electric chair for his crimes, who has now come back to continue his murder spree. 

Serial killer Ivan Moser (former NFL star Lyle Alzado) is a convicted serial killer, having raped and murdered twenty-four men, woman and children before being apprehended, the last of his victims was a popular game show hostess, along the lines of Vanna White. While sitting on the chair waiting to be fried for his crimes he obsesses over a nearby TV screen showing a rerun of the game show, which is a nice perverse touch. The roided-out Alzado is a frighting hulk of a man bursting at the seems, with his muscular and veiny physique the guy as if he is about to pop like a muscular zit, his eyes nearly bulging from their sockets, the guy looks like he is amped-up on steroids and a steady diet of that reportedly tasty '80s cocaine. While the big guy is being zapped by millions of volts on the chair there's a power outage, in the ensuing panic Moser rises up from the dead, an ensuing prison riot closes the prison down for good, and it is assumed that Moser died during the murderous riots, though no body has ever been recovered. 

Eighteen months later we have a b-movie director (Perkins) making a sleazy a women-in-prison movie at the now closed down penitentiary along with he screenwriter David Harris (Clayton Rohner) and his stunt-woman girlfriend Susan (Deborah Foreman, April Fool's Day), plus a cast of jailhouse background actors, including the leading lady who is a big-haired no-talent. Also among the crew is a nerdy special effects guy named Rewire (Jim Turner) who does the electrical and special effects work on-set, he seems to be the comic relief with a mix of nerdiness and stoner antics.

In the media the screenwriter mouths off about the riot at he prison, placing blame for the tragedy on the former prison warden named Kirsh (Pat Mooney), prompting an angry set-visit from the former warden, who becomes the first in a series of grisly murders perpetrated by the thought-dead Moser who burns the warden with an acetylene torch while he drops a turd in the toilet. 

The movie has some cheap prison atmosphere about it but lacks much if any charisma, certainly the venerable Anthony Perkins lends some credibility to his role as the director but this is a small change role for the guy, the eighties were not kind to the actor and most of his roles were not up to par with his talents. NFL-er Lyle Alzondo is a big guy with menacing physique but the character is devoid of any depth, his physicality is imposing and I wouldn't want the guy to get me in a headlock, but he's just a big muscular body with no character aside from an annoying and maniacal laugh, at least Horace Pinker from Shocker was fun.. 

Even by late-'80s standards the gore is pretty tame and won't do much for horror fans, a charred body is about as gory as you're gonna get, not even the presence of '80s scream queen Deborah Foreman (Waxwork, April Fool's Day) could give this one any juice, not an awful movie but just a lacklustre '80s slasher. 

Destroyer arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a new HD transfer derived from the only known surviving elements, which were not the original negative. The image is pretty solid with some decent fine detail, but the image doesn't have a lot of depth to it. The grain can be heavy at times, but all things considered the image looks good. The English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo audio sounds good, clean and well-balanced, optional English subtitles are provided, the only extra for the movie is a standard-def trailer. 

Special Features: Trailer (1 Mins) 


Label: Scream Factory:

Region: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Option English SDH 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Gérard Kikoïne
Cast: Ben Cole, David Lodge. Sarah Maur-Thorp, Anthony Perkins, Glynis Barber

The second half of this Anthony Perkins double feature is the more intriguing Edge of Sanity starring Perkins in a kinky version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Perkins starring as Dr. Jekyll, a man of science with good intentions who's alter ego is unleashed after a lab accident.  At the top of the movie we are treated to a nightmare sequence which reveals how Jekyll was traumatized as a young boy after catching his father in the barn with a whore, the experience has had long lasting psychological affects on the boy which have haunted him on through to adulthood. 

Jekyll's most recent experiments are based around the medicinal use of cocaine as an anesthetic, one night a lab monkey knocks over the cocaine into another chemical and the ensuing vaporous cloud has a transformative affect on the doc, transforming him into his the crack-smoking lecherous murderer Mr. Hyde who roams opium dens and whorehouses of Victorian London in search of sexual kicks before embarking on an erotic murder-spree. 

Perkins was already infected with HIV at the time of the movie and his transformation into Hyde shows a bit of the emaciated facial features I associate with the disease, the transformation is rather upsetting in a way on that level. However, it was great to see Perkins in a meatier role after his appearance in the sub-par slasher movie Destroyer, showcasing his talents as he transforms from a well-mannered man of science to an immoral killer, some of the psycho sexual scenes are very uncomfortable to watch. It may not be a rape-revenge movie but the scenes of nudity are uncomfortable to watch, with Mr. Hyde seducing, torturing and then murdering each of his victims, usually slashing their throats. 

The story of Jekyll and Hyde is one of the most told stories on the silver screen, but this version was something unique. I found Perkins depraved and creepy as the sinister alter-ego unleashed, the way they weave in elements of Jack the Ripper is also a treat. The movie is set in Victorian era London but I have to say this is the most '80s looking Victorian movies I have ever seen, but it worked for me, the stylish cinematography is rich with lush visuals and good atmospherics, including the fog-drenched streets of London you would expect of a Ripper story.

The 91-minute R-rated uncut version of Edge of Sanity arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory looking awesome on Blu-ray, there's a nice layer of fine film grain, plenty of fine detail and the colors are strong, with the vivid reds and blues really popping off the screen. The English DTS-HD MA 2,0 stereo audio sounds great. As with Destroyer the only extra is a trailer for the movie. 

Special Features: Trailer (1 Mins) 

I love the Scream Factory double features, they may not all be venerated cult-classics but they're always fun for us lovers of b-movie cinema, who can even appreciate the modest charms of something like Destroyer, which scrapes the bottom of the '80s slasher barrel. Edge of Sanity is an awkwardly kinky take on Jekyll and Hyde with a standout performance from Anthony Perkins and is worth the price of purchase alone on my opinion, I only wish we had some new bonus features to go along with it. 3/5