Saturday, June 25, 2016

BAD MOON (1996) (Blu-ray Review)

BAD MOON (1996) 
Label: Scream Factory 
release Date: July 19th 2016
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration" 79 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Cast: Hrothgar Mathews, Johanna Marlowe, Ken Pogue, Mariel Hemingway, Mason Gamble, Michael Paré
Director: Eric Red
Synopsis: Full, crescent, quarter... each is a Bad Moon for Ted Harrison. By day, he's a photojournalist visiting family in the Pacific Northwest. By night, he transfigures into a horrific half-human – a werewolf. Dead men tell no tales, so Ted's sure he alone knows about his vile double life. The secret, however, may be out. The family dog Thor, devoted to defending the household, has his suspicions.

Writer/director Eric Red (Cohen and Tate, Body Parts) delivers a new infusion of thrills with this red-blooded shocker. Michael Paré (Streets of Fire) portrays Ted, hiding his accursed condition from his sister (Mariel Hemmingway, Lipstick, Star 80) and nephew (Mason Gamble). What better way to hide it than to create suspicion that the local killings are the work of another – especially if that other is the family's all-too-wise German shepherd!


The nineties are not a decade fondly remembered by horror fans, after they heyday of '80s horror the '90s seemed pretty dame tame and lacklustre, even a bright spot like Wes Craven's Scream spawned a generation of watered down horror cinema, but if you dig down a bit beneath the surface of slick mediocrity there are a few gems to be found. The decade was not as awful as you may have been lead to believe, and if you are willing to expand your definition of horror you will find great movies like Guillermo del Toro's Cronos, Event Horizon, Jacob's Ladder and Richard Stanley's Hardware and Dust Devil tucked away among the folds of the decade. 

Which brings up to Bad Moon, a movie I didn't catch at the cinema but I did watch on the numerous cable airings it was afforded in the '90s. It made for decent background fodder, it wasn't something I was overly fond of as I remembered but not having watched it for a decade or so I was sort of keen to check out this new Blu-ray from Scream Factory. 


The movie is very straightforward, we open with American photo-journalists  named Ted Harrison (Michael Paré) in the rain forest of Nepal on some sort of ambiguous assignment with his girlfriend Marjorie (Johanna Lebovitz). Apparently the assignment has gone well and the two go back to their tent for some vigorous celebration sex, that is until they're rudely  interrupted by a werewolf which tears open the tent and rips Marjorie to shreds, wounding Ted in the process, who manages to grab a shotgun and blow the werewolf's head off. It is a fantastic opening scene, full of gore, sex and loads of energy, way better than I remembered from my last viewing years ago. 

In the aftermath Ted moves back to the Northwest US to be near his sister Janet Harrison (Mariel Hemingway) and her young son Brett (Mason Gamble), who may remember as the kid from the Dennis the Menace movie. It seems that Ted has been looking for a cure to the lycanthropy which he is now afflicted with after the attack, moving from spot to spot in his airstream camper leaving a trail of mutilated corpses in his wake. Having no luck with a cure he decides that pulling his camper up in his sister's back yard might be a good idea, that perhaps re establishing a bond with family will somehow prove curative ...bad idea. 


Janet and Brett live with their loyal and protective German Shepherd named Thor, who immediately takes a disliking to Uncle Ted, he can sense that something is wrong with Uncle Ted and that he will prove to be a threat to the family. After the rather good first few scenes of the movie which offered some sweet gore and hot sex the movie cools down for a long period of time, and this is where the movie lags for me. Unfortunately Pare and Hemmingway are not so good, Hemmingway is flat and has no depth. Pare comes off like a budget version of Michael Biehn without the depth or charisma, his character is conflicted, a seemingly nice guy who turns more menacing as the lycanthropy consumes him, but the material seems beyond Pare's range, the portrayal is inconsistent and unconvincing. Mason Gamble is okay as the kid, but comes off annoying and doesn't have a whole lot to do except play with his dog. Suffice it to say that the best actor in the movie is Primo, one of the dogs that played Thor, he has more depth in his eyes than anyone esle in the cast, everyone else just seems to be sleepwalking through this one. 

The cast is the main problem with the movie no one seems to be into the material or have any interest in creating depth for their characters which made it hard to care about te fate of anyone. All is not lost though, this movie offfers up one of the more awesome onscreen werewolves in my opinion, the design and look of this fearsome beast is a top five werewolf for me. The werwold was created with a man in a suit with an animatronic head which was created by special effects creator Steve Johnson and his crew, the man in the suit is stuntman Ken Kersinger (Freddy vs Jason), the design and hair work is pretty awesome, the snarling visage is one for the ages, this is really good stuff. 

As for the gore we have a few good scenes, beginning with the initial attack in Nepal as a mostly nude woman is eviscerated, it makes for a great opening scene that ends with a nice head explosion. There's a con man who shows up to harass Janet and the kid who becomes fodder for the werewolf, he's come to the home to kill the family dog with a machete but ends up in pieces, clawed savagely by the beast, torn up from the gut and his hand mangled, more good stuff. Overall I would say that this movie is over lit, these are some of the brightest Northwest woods at night I have ever seen, which takes away a lot of the potential atmosphere and suspense, but thankfully the design of the creature is so goodf that it holds up even when overlit during the finale. There is an infamous transformation scenes which is awful in an early 90s sort of way, they took some great practical effects by Steve Johnson and ruined it with digital morphing, which is probably what a lot of folks remember about this movie, the bad stuff. 

Bad Moon is not some lost classic of 90s horror but it is a fun watch with a fantastic werewolf, one that is so cool that you can sort of forgive the shortcoming that surround it. Director Eric Red also directed Body Parts (1991), another 90s entry I need to revisit, he also wrote The Hitcher (1986) and Near Dark (1987), the guy has talent and a keen grip on horror, but this one falls short in ways that have kept it any sort of cult-staus, but that werewolf is awesome. 


Audio/Video: Bad Moon debuts on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in the original 2.40:1 widescreen scope aspect ratio with a new HD transfer of two versions of the movie, the original theatrical cut and a shorter by seconds director's version of the movie which was supervised by Eric Red. The movie looks great, colors are vibrant and robust with some nice shadow detail and a crisp image that will surely please fans of the movie, a solid upgrade iover revious DVD version I own. Audio is capably handled by an english DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround option with optional English subtitles, the dialogue, effects and score from composer Daniel Licht have a nice presence. . 

Scream Factory have included a nice array of new bonus content, beginning with the director's version of the movie which adds back in some of the softcore sex from the opening and trims away a few seconds of the awful digital-morphing they did during the transformation scene, which if you watch the theatrical version should give you a laugh, that they somewhat ruined the good work done by Steve Johnson is sacrilegious. 


There's also a new audio commentary by Eric Red recorded for this release for the director's cut of the movie and a commentary with writer/director Eric Red and actor Michael Pare for the theatrical cut. Theres also a thirty-five minute making of doc with new interviews with Eric Red, Steve Johnson, Michael Pare, Mason Gamble and Ken Kerzinger who offer some nice honest opinions of the movie in retrospect, what t was like working with Primo the dog, creating the creature effects and Reed even makes a few disparaging remarks about Hemmingways range as an actress and what he had to resort to to get a decent performance out of her during the more harries scenes. 

Additionally there's a selection of storyboards sequences for a few scenes, the theatrical trailer for the movie, plus the longer unrated opening scene from the Director’s first cut of the movie which has been sourced from VHS source which goes on for about six minutes, showcasing the more erotic nature of the opening scene, which I think was trimmed down for good reason, but as a red-blooded male I did appreciate it that it was included, haha. 


Special Features:

- High-definition theatrical cut of the film plus a NEW Director’s version supervised and approved by Eric Red.
- NEW Nature of the Beast: Making Bad Moon featuring interviews with writer/director Eric Red, actors Michael Pare and Mason Gamble, Special Effects Make-up artist Steve Johnson and stunt coordinator Ken Kirzinger (35 Mins) HD 
- NEW Audio Commentary with writer/director Eric Red (Director’s version only)
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Eric Red and actor Michael Pare (Theatrical Cut)
- Unrated opening scene from the Director’s first cut (Sourced from VHS) (6 Mins) 
- Transformation Sequence Storyboards (7 Mins) HD
- Thor/Werewolf Fight Stoyboards (10 Mins) HD
- Thor Stares Down Uncle Ted Storyboards (4Mins) HD 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (1 Mins) HD 

Bad Moon is an over-looked 90s werwolf horror entry that I won't say is a lost classic but I will say that it is overly neglected and has a killer werewold creature. I just wish the movie lived up to the promise of the werewolf design in the movie, it deserved way better than the vehicle it was delivered in. Scream Factory's Blu-ray is top-notch, it looks and sounds great and has some great bonus content, and if you're a fan this is an easy recommend, if you're not familiar with it give it a chance, it deserves a watch. 


 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW (2007) SPECIAL EDITION (Blu-ray Review)

JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW  (2007) 

Label: Synapse Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Release Date: July 12th 2016 
Duration: 90 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English  DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo 
Director: Michael Felsher
Cast: George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Ed Harris



Synopsis: In 1982, Author Stephen King, and Director George A. Romero collaborated on a feature-film tribute to the controversial EC comics of the 1950s. Told through five jolting tales of terror, CREEPSHOW has become a celebrated horror classic over the past three decades. With an all-star cast and featuring groundbreaking special effects by genre legend Tom Savini, CREEPSHOW stands as a horrific and hilarious tribute to the stories that helped influence (and corrupt) a generation of writers and filmmakers. Now the tales behind the creation of this chilling masterpiece can finally be told!


Creepshow is one of my favorite horror anthologies, a horror project that brought together director George A. Romero with horror scribe Stephen King, these guys were the undisputed kings of horror in the 80s and it was a pairing that hadn't been rivaled since someone stuck a Hershey's bar in a jar of peanut butter. The resulting anthology was a wonderful blend EC Comics morality and pitch perfect campiness that has yet to be matched in my opinion, this is about as near perfect an anthology as I have ever seen. Sadly, on home video, at least here in the US the movie has been somewhat neglected, dumped onto a bare bones Blu-ray release while horror fans in the UKhave been treated to a deluxe release courtesy of Second Sight Films, which is stuffed with audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and a wonderful retrospective making of documentary titled Just Desserts; The Making of Creepshow from Michael Felsher and Red Shirt Pictures,  a definitive feature length making of doc containing in-depth interviews with director George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Adrienne Barbeau and many others.  

Now Synapse Films have brought the doc to Blu-ray as a stand alone release, and added a ton of new stuff, beginning with two audio commentaries, one with  with Director and Editor Michael Felsher and a second with Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Miller, and Make-Up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci. I have only listened to the Felsher commentary thus far, but its a good listen as he speaks about how Creepshow was his entry into horror films, how he came to form Red Shirt Pictures after a stint at Anchor Bay before heading out on his own, right up to pitching the idea for a Creepshow doc to the studio, which was initially turned down, before being picked-up by Universal in the UK.


There's a new Red Shirt Pictures interviews with Director of Photography Director Michael Gornick who does not appear in the documentary proper, Gornick looks back on his time making the movie, the shooting days and night, his opinion of Stephen Kins performance and the safety concerns on certain shoots. There are also 24-minutes worth of extended interviews with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and Bernie Wrightson, all containing some great stuff, including Savini speaking about some footage cut from the movie of Adrienne Barbeau's characters shredded remains floating to the surface of the lake. 

There is a new Horror's Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark who revisits some of the set locations from the movie with a special appearance from actor Tom Atkins who appears in the wrap-a-round segment in the movie. A nice addition is the inclusion of the Fangoria produced doc Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects with Optional Audio Commentary with Tom Savini. A nice walk down the morbid memory lane of his body of work, a greatest hits compilation of sorts with Savini's back story, how he became obsessed with make-up effects after seeing a Lon Chaney movie. There's also a commentary for it with Tom Savini moderated by Michael Felsher. 


Behind The Screams is a 27-minute compilation of on-set video footage from Tom Savini's personal archives offering a  look at the making of the special effects work in the movie, shots of Ted Danson and Stephen King being made up for their roles, more awesome stuff for fans to drool over. Another nice addition is the vintage 1982 Evening Magazine Segment shot on the set of the film, featuring rare cast and crew interviews, which seems to be some sort of local entertainment show recorded back in the eighties round the time of the films release. We get interviews with Romero, King, Holbrook, Barbeau, Savini and others, along with some cool behind-the-scenes footage. Lastly we have a nine-minute photo gallery of behind-the-scenes images of the cast and crew, plus some great shots of various creatures and make-up being sculpted fr the film. 

Special Features:

- Audio Commentary with Director and Editor Michael Felsher
- Audio Commentary featuring interviews with Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Miller, and Make-Up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci
- Creepshow Days - An interview with Director of Photography Director Michael Gornick (8 Mins) HD 
- Extended Interview Segments with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and Bernie Wrightson (24 Mins) 
- Behind The Screams -- A compilation of on-set video footage from Tom Savini (27 Mins) 
- Horror's Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark (15 Mins) HD 
- Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects with Optional Audio Commentary with Tom Savini moderated by Michael Felsher (53 Mins) 
- Vintage 1982 Evening Magazine Segment shot on the set of the film, featuring rare cast and crew interviews (8 Mins) 
- Behind-The-Scenes of CREEPSHOW Photo Gallery (9 Mins) 



This is such a wonderful watch, obviously Felsher loves horror and has a special fondness for this anthology, a movie that brought together the horror super-powers of Stephen King and George A. Romero. The glaring omission which is the pink elephant in the room is that Felsher was unable to get Stephen King on-camera, but what we do have is pretty great and did not leave me wanting in any way, this is eighty nine minutes worth of in-depth interviews from the cast and crew who recall their time making the iconic movie with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage, there's  just a lot of eye candy that will fill your horror heart with happiness. 

Synapse Films and Michael Felsher have gone above and beyond with this release to give the doc a true special edition worth owning, glad to see it get a proper US release with so many cool extras, this is officially one of my favorite making of docs.  


 

THE PACK (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

THE PACK (2015)

Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight

Release Date: July 5th 2016 
Region Code: A
Duration: 88 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Cast: Anna Lise Phillips, Hamish Phillips, Jack Campbell, Katie Moore, Nick Robertson 
Director: Nick Robertson 

Synopsis: Man's best friend becomes his worst nightmare when a horde of bloodthirsty wild dogs descends upon a family's farmhouse. In a remote stretch of the Australian Outback, a sheep rancher (Jack Campbell), his veterinarian wife (Anna Lise Phillips), and their two teenage children live in bucolic isolation — until a horrifying night when a pack of fang-baring, four-legged, rabid beasts besiege their home. With no one around to help them, the family must band together to survive — or else become canine kibble. Generating a steadily mounting sense of dread, The Pack cleverly toys with genre conventions before it goes in for the kill.


Don't confuse this Australian import with the American "killer dog" movie The Pack (1977) but I can see why you might as both share a name and basic premise, but this Aussie movie is a tense sort of slow-burn killer canine entry that takes place on a rural sheep farm in the Aussie outback. Dad (Jack Campbell) and mum (Anna Lise Phillips) have fallen on hard financial times, the farm is bleeding money as the livestock continue to be eviscerated by a pack of wild dogs in the area. The bank is nipping at their heel with the threat of foreclosure and the pressures are mounting, especially when a banker shows up at their doorstep informing them they are out of options. The sad news brings joy to their rebellious daughter Sophie (Katie Moore) who cannot stomach living in such a rural area far away from friends and modern conveniences, but their young son Henry (Hamish Phillips) loves it there and is saddened by the prospect of losing the family home. After delivering the news the banker pulls his car off to the side of the road for a piss and is promptly eviscerated by a pack of bloodthirsty canines on the edge of the woods, it is a nice moment of someone you hate getting a proper and painful death. 


As night descends on the farm the pack of black-furred terrors depart the edges of the forest and descend upon the farmhouse under the cover of darkness, what ensues is a keenly tense and atmospheric 'when animals attack' scenario that skillfully plays as both a killer canine and an action-packed siege movie. The black furred feral dogs are at first only glimpsed in shadow and quick flashes, eventually they make their presence known and mom and dad must defend their children from this feral menace, both Campbell and Phillips bring a load of parental instinct to the roles as parents who will risk anything to protect their children. 


The animals prove to be both cunning and ferocious, when the mom calls for help from the local authorities they show up and become fast prey for the fast moving canines who pick them off like sharks who smell blood in the water. Eventually the dogs gain access to the farmhouse and stalk the family from room to room with some nice cat and mouse moments. Of course this is a farm and there is a rifle in the house but ammo proves to be in short supply, and the long range weapon doesn't make for the best close quarters defense leaving our protagonist to use themselves as live bait to lure the vicious dogs out into the open. 


The movie has a small cast of good actors, the premise is simple and the atmosphere and action are well-played, but there is a low bodycount which might scare away those looking for something more gory, but the movie is suspenseful and had some nice moments of visceral action, which more than makes up for any lack of bodycount.  


Special Features: 

- The Making Of The Pack Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer

This is a tense, slow-burn killer dog movie with some nice visceral action and atmospheric dread, it also packs in some attractive cinematography that takes a few moments to soak in the gorgeous Australian scenery. If you had a good time with the killer bear movie Backcountry I think you will find a lot to enjoy with The Pack. Like most good killer canine flicks this one makes you think a bit about the "what ifs" of living in close proximity to man's best friend, after all we are only an stom
achs away from being a tasty tidbit. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

CABIN FEVER (2016) (Blu-ray Review)

CABIN FEVER (2016)

Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight
Release Date: July 5th 2016 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated

Duration: 99 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Travis Z
Cast: Dustin Ingram, Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario, Nadine Crocker, Samuel Davis

Synopsis: Executive producer Eli Roth presents this reboot of his instant-classic gorefest, which features all-new characters and all-new kills. The story is familiar: Fresh out of college, a group of five friends retreat to a remote cabin in the woods for one last week of partying – only to become snacks for a gruesome, flesh-eating virus. This fresh spin on a horror-comedy milestone stars Gage Golightly (Exeter, Teen Wolf), Nadine Crocker (Deadgirl), Samuel Davis (Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) and Dustin Ingram (Paranormal Activity 3).


In 2002 Eli Roth brought us the original Cabin Fever (2002), a lo-fi gory delight full of dark humor, a flesh-eating virus, and enough stupidity that it brought a smile to my face in the cinema. It was a refreshingly old school and stupid slice of splatter-horror that had been long missing from the cinemas, and sort of ushered in a new era of cinema-gore in the early 2000s. The movie spawned a pair of sequels by way of the goofy and gross Cabin Fever 2: Spring Break (2009) and Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014). The the series never picked up traction the way of say the Wrong Turn movies as a b-tier franchise but I must say I enjoyed both. Spring Fever was directed by Ti West who disowned the movie after reshoots and producer tinkering, but I still loved it for how innapprorpiate and gross it was, a gory mess of a movie. Patient Zero was not spectacular but also a good gory watch. I think what Roth has in mind with this reboot is to start a new franchise with a bit more cohesion than what came before it. I might be wrong about that but what other reason could there be for rebooting a movie just fourteen years old... besides money.


The movie uses the same script as the original Cabin Fever, featuring five 20-somethings who head out to a cabin in the woods to celebrate graduation. There they make fun of the locals, get stoned, drink some beers, have sex and fall victim to a nasty flesh-eating virus that causes them to rot from the inside and turn to on one another, being young and selfish the virus causes each of their worst qualities to emerge as they throw each other under the bus in hopes of surviving longer than the other. 


Using the same script we get a lot of familiar dialogue coming from actors who are decent but pale in comparison to the original cast in my opinion, they're not awful, not all of them anyway... but the comedy and dark humor is toned down which turns this formerly splatteriffic-comedy to a mostly humorlous action horror movie of a sort, and I think I missed the humor more than anything else. 


They do bring the gore though, there's a decent amount of skin-crawling grossness to go around, we have the familiar blood-fingering, the tragic leg shaving scene, the infected spewing a geyser of blood from their mouths, some good stuff. Another familiar scenario involves a dog tearing apart an unfortunate rotter, that happens off camera and we are only privy to the screams and the aftermath, if you're gonna remake something stupid and gross I say go all the way with it, amp it up and push the boundaries, and they just didn't do it. That being said, they do give us some great shots of the infected dogs who are starting to rot away and are acting rabid, but the when they tear apart someone off screen that bothered me. The movie is attractively shot in the scope aspect ration with very nice cinematography, there's even a nice homage to Kubrick's The Shining at the top of the film, complete with a borrowed music cue.  


As the reboot happens fourteen years after the original they do cram a bit too much of the 'what no cell reception', 'I can't play games?' and 'are you kidding me, no wi-fi' which did get annoying. As I said before the characters sort of just regurgitate familiar dialogie but the comedy is toned way way down, and that didn't work for me. The most notable change is that they made Deputy Winston who was portrayed by Giuseppe Andrews in the first movie into a woman, now played by  Louise Linton, who plays it weird but nowhere near as memorable as Giuseppe Andrews. What they did right was fill out the movie with smokin' hot chics, we have Gage Golightly of Teen Wolf and Nadine Crocker - the latter of whom drops her clothes in not one but two scenes, and she's very easy on the eyes.  


The local rednecks are not as fun this time around, the strange kid Dennis doesn't yell "pancakes" either, but we do get a pancake reference which might explain why the kid in the original film kept yelling it. Also missed is the crazy king-fu action Dennis throws out in the original movie, this time he just sort of seems like a boring extras from the movie Gummo. 


Special Features
- The Making Of Cabin Fever Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer

I don't hate this movie, taken on its own merits it has a lot to offer, damn decent production value and cinematography, the cast is decent, the script is now worse than the original with a few modern updates and the gore is nothing to sneeze at, Now as a reboot it doesn't offer anything new, so I have to ask why even make it, why not pump some of that cash into an original idea? As with any business it comes down to money and marketing and what horror fans are willing to spend some hard-earned dough on, and guess what, you cannot blame them for it. Maybe horror fans over the age of thirty might be put off by a Cabin Fever remake, but there are loads of millennials out there who didn't catch the original movie. These teen brats cannot be bothered to seek it out on their own, a movie from 2002 might as well be a black and might TV show from a bygone era to them, not all of them, but a lot. Maybe this new one will lure them in, and that's alright by me, you don't have to love the reboot, but if it turns a few new teens into horror fans that's good for everyone. Cabin Fever '16 is not a bad movie, it's not a great reboot, but taken on its own it offers some good gore and cheap frights that go down easy with a few beers and doesn't require a lot of thought, just like the first one. 


 

Friday, June 17, 2016

RABID DOGS (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

RABID DOGS (2015)

Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 94 Minutes
Audio: French DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Éric Hannezo
Cast: Lambert Wilson, Franck Gastambide, François Arnaud, Laurent Lucas. Benjamin Rataud, Guillaume Gouix, Virginie Ledoyen
Synopsis: On the main avenue of a crowded city, Sabri (Guillaume Gouix, The Returned), grips the steering wheel of his car, eyes fixed anxiously on the bank entrance opposite… Then, there’s a sudden explosion, and three masked men race to the car, loaded with stolen cash. Unfortunately, everything is about to go wrong. With the cops right behind them, the car crashes and their boss is killed. Sabri and his accomplices are forced to run. The desperate criminals will stop at nothing to make their escape. Taking a young woman and a father and child hostage, they embark on a crazy, violent road trip that not all of them will survive…

Rabid Dogs is a modern remake of Mario Bava's 1974 cult-classic Kidnapped, and of all of Bava's movies I think that this is the one movie I think would hold up to a contemporary remake, the original was gritty and lean, it lacked many of Bava's stylish visuals, so I was intrigued to see how this would go over as a slick French remake. The movie adheres to the original story almost slavishly from what I remember as the movie begins with a bank robbery gone awry when four masked men emerge from the bank into chaos. The more seasoned of the criminals (Pierre Lebeau) is mortally wounded in the squirmish with police and the skittish one among the group Manu (Franck Gastambide) accidentally blows the brains out of a hostage along the way. In the ensuing chaos they take another hostage, a young woman (Virginie Ledoyen) and flag down a car driven by an older man (Lambert Wilson) with his sickly four-year old daughter in the backseat. When the wounded leader of the group decides to face off against police in a hail of gunfire the remaining three men and their hostages head out onto to the rural countryside to evade police. With the loss of their leader the younger Sabri (Guillaume Gouix) takes over, but he has a tough time reigning in Manu and the more vicious psychopath Vincent (Francois Arnaud) who loves to taunt and molest the female hostage.
The movie doesn't add a whole lot to the story, Bava's original was taught, tense and stripped down to the essentials, this version of the story had more style and a few more moments of character depth, and a few new scenarios. One involving an armed gas station attendant and another at some weird bear-skinned festival in a rural area that brought a note of The wicker Man to the story, which leads to an encounter with a old woman with a bell who threatens to blow the whistle on the robbers which ends in tragedy. 

As with the original the movie is very dour and bleak with no sunshine for any of the characters, also intact is the gut-punch of a twist at the end, which I still love. As a remake the movie it is at least stylish, as a bank heist gone wrong movie without the baggage of being a remake this is a nice tense watch with some good cinematography and a very nice electronic score. The acting is very decent, characters crammed into a tight space, the atmosphere is tense, Lambert being a standout as the quietly intense father trying to get his daughter to the hospital before she dies, he does a lot by saying very little. As I had first assumed when heard about this remake it fares well, its hard to imagine a contemporary remake of A Bay of Blood or The Whip and the Body, but this heist gone wrong idea holds up well in new hands, even if it largely apes the original with only the added benefit of a new stylish veneer for a modern audience, but I love the lo-fi grit of the original.

The movie arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory and IFC Midnight, the stylish French production scores major points for the crisp and stylish visuals that pop in HD. The French DTS-HD 5.1 Surround audio is also crisp and powerful, the pulsing electronic score from composer Laurent Eyquem is probably one of my favorite things about the movie. Extras on the Blu-ray include a ninety-three minute making of documentary (a Blu-ray exclusive), plus forty-two minutes of interviews with the cast, and a few special effects featurettes, plus a trailer for the movie. This is a lot of extras when compared to many of the Scream Factory I IFC Midnight releases we've seen, nearly two hours worth, but they're in French, just like the feature movie.

Special Features
- The Making of Rabid Dogs (93 minutes, Blu-ray only)
- Interviews with the cast (41 minutes)
- Effects, Weapons and Production Design featurette (14 minutes)
- Theatrical Trailer

Rabid Dogs is a very modern and slick update of the Mario Bava cult-classic with very little to add or improve upon from the original, the French production is stylish and slick, easy on the eyes but also largely forgettable. I would say this is one of the remakes that just didn't need to happen, but if you can get beyond that the basic story is tense and claustrophobic tale with a brutal twist, and some may find that the new modern veneer to be more palatable than the raw original, but not me. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Erotic 70s Oddity UP IN FLAMES (1978) on DVD August 9th from IMPULSE PICTURES

UP IN FLAMES (1978) 

Label: Impulse Pictures
Release Date: August 9th 2016 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 60 Minutes 
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1 
Audio: english Dolby Digital Mono 
Director: John Seman 
Cast: Kelly Mint, Frank Marks, John Seman, Fred Lee

Time is up for The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers! The landlady has had enough of their dodging rent and drunken stoner parties, and she's giving them ONE DAY to get the rent paid or they're being evicted by sundown.


Completely out of money, the Brothers decide to hit the streets and get jobs so they can stay in their awful apartment (it has a toilet in the kitchen)! Fat Freddy goes to work for Mr. Natural (a vitamin salesman, who dresses in a potato sack and fake beard). Vinnie tries being a painter and Frank tries to have sex with the horny landlady, hoping to get more time to pay. All three brothers get more than they bargained for, with wild sexual encounters and crazy madcap humor, as they try to raise the rent money... and their libido!


An erotic oddity from the late 1970s, UP IN FLAMES is unofficially based on The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Mr. Natural underground comics.


Special Feature:

- Sneak Peek at Impulse Pictures' 42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection Series

GAME OF THRONES JOHN BRADLEY and KILLIAN SCOTT Star in TRADERS - Out 7/11 from DARK SKY FILMS

 

IN A DEADLY NEW GAME, TWO MEN GO UP AGAINST EACH OTHER IN BRUTAL BATTLE - AND THE WINNER IS THE ONE LEFT HOLDING THE BAG
 
TRADERS
 
A Dark Action Thriller Starring Game Of Throne's John Bradley and Killian Scott Comes to Digital EST and Cable VOD on July 11, 2016

WATCH THE TRAILER
TRADERS OFFICIAL TRAILER
TRADERS OFFICIAL TRAILER

"A fantastic look at the things we do for money." - Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects
 
Desperate times call for desperate measures, but the scheme at the center of TRADERS may be the most desperate of all. The twist-filled suspense drama in which young men risk their lives to get ahead stars John Bradley (Samwell from Game of Thrones) and Killian Scott. TRADERS will be available on Digital Platforms and Cable VOD on July 11, 2016.
 
Jobs are gone. Homes are being repossessed. Suicide rates are soaring. But newly unemployed Vernon Stynes (John Bradley, Game of Thrones) might have the solution to the despair brought on by recession. He masterminds a diabolical, all-or-nothing plan he calls Trading. Through an underground online network of similarly displaced individuals, two people agree to "trade" by emptying their bank accounts, selling everything they own and putting the cash in nondescript green bags. They then travel to a remote location, dig a grave and fight to the death. Winner buries the loser and takes the two bags.

Then you find someone else and do it again, and again, and again, until you are rich enough or dead, whichever comes first. Like Vernon, Harry Fox (Killian Scott, Calvary, Love/Hate) has lost his job and his dignity. What else has he got to lose? Why not become a Trader? But when Trading becomes an alarmingly popular underground phenomenon, Vernon becomes a participant in the very game he created. Featuring an exciting young cast and sure to appeal to fans of such classics as Shallow Grave and Fight Club, TRADERS is a daring and troubling look at the depths to which ordinary people can be driven.

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it "an ingenious and macabre debut" for writer-directors Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy. The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore said, "The specifics of its conceit are so well suited to the winners-vs.-losers realities of our economic moment." 

Time Travelling Sci-fi COUNTER CLOCKWISE Is Acquired by Artsploitation Films

Time Travelling Sci-fi COUNTER CLOCKWISE
Is Acquired by Artsploitation Films 


Currently enjoying an extensive festival run (and recent winner of "Best Science Fiction Film" at both the Eugene International and Action on Film Festivals) Counter Clockwise, a hyperventilating blend of science fiction, horror and dark comedy directed by Atlanta-native George Moïse, has been acquired by Artsploitation Films. 

A scientist, while working on inventing teleportation, instead accidentally invents time travel and zaps himself 6 months into the future. But that future is a sinister, confusing and violent one as he finds himself being chased by gun-toting hitmen as well as being the prime suspect in the murders of his wife and sister. He attempts to change history and save his loved ones by travelling back in time to uncover the mysteries. 

The film, starring Michael Kopelow, Devon Ogden and Kerry Knuppe, is set for DVD and VOD release October 4, 2016.


Artsploitation president Ray Murray said, "Totally inventive, fun, and complex. I immediately watched it a second time just to fully understand all the wild happenings! We do not release many American-made films, but this film marks an acquisitions exception. We hope audiences with enjoy and be confounded as much as I was. We release a lot of difficult and challenging titles, but with Counter Clockwise, we have an entertaining, fast-paced sci-fi murder/mystery treat."


Counter Clockwise Official Trailer from George Moïse on Vimeo.

VIOLENT SHIT THE MOVIE (2015) 3-DISC LIMITED EDITION BD/DVD/CD on the way from Reel Gore Releasing in August


Debut release from Reel Gore Releasing is a deluxe 3-Disc Limited Edition of VIOLENT SHIT THE MOVIE (2015), the splatter classic arrives on August 9th 2016 

VIOLENT SHIT THE MOVIE (2015)
LIMITED EDITION 3-DISC  BD/DVD/CD 


Label: Reel Gore Releasing
Region: Region-FREE 
Duration: 82 Minutes
Video: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.78:1 
Audio: English or German DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround with English, Spanish and French Subtitles
Director: Luigi Pastore 
Cast: Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Antonio Zequila, Michela Foresta, Vincenzo Pezzopane, Steve Aquilina, Erika Kamese, Simone Destrero, Lilli Carati

Rome is shattered by a series of gruesome murders that paint the Eternal City deep red. Italian Police Inspector Aristide D'Amato and his German counterpart Hans Ebert initiate their criminal investigations. They stumble upon the eccentric Professor Vassago - a master of myths and mysteries - who is linked to Senator Vinci - a corrupt politician - mutually driven by power and perversions.


The suspicion grows that these atrocious crimes are connected with the return of one of the most heinous serial killers of our time - Karl the Butcher!


First 3000 copies include: CD - Original Soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti's Goblin, Collectible Blu-ray/DVD Slipcase and Sleeve, 24 Page booklet.


The relentless Karl the Butcher, beloved and best known to gorehounds and German Underground aficionados has been revamped and re-envisioned; his trademark brutality in the likes of the distinctly German independent VIOLENT SHIT now remade into an equally ghastly giallo featuring a Claudio Simonetti soundtrack. VIOLENT SHIT THE MOVIE is an homage to both the original's 25th anniversary and the producer's love of Italian horror and blends German gore movies with the mastery of Italian horror. The film stars Italian genre mainstay Giovanni Lombardo Radice as the devil incarnate, who masterminds Karl the Butcher's evil murder spree. Italian directors Enzo G. Castellari (INGLORIOUS BASTARDS) and Luigi Cozzi (CONTAMINATION) have cameos in the movie, as well as Lucio Fulci's screenwriter Antonio Tentori and SUSPIRIA's Barbara Magnolfi. -Fangoria


Bonus Features:

- MAKING OF THE MOVIE by Director LUIGI PASTORE
- THE HISTORY OF VIOLENT SHIT - Interview with Producer STEVE AQUILINA
- TRIBUTE TO LILLI CARATI - The Last Interview
- INTERVIEWS with members of the cast - VINCENZO PEZZOPANE, MICHELA FORESTA, DANIELA CICCONE, ERIKA KAMESE
- WORLD OF STARS - INTERVIEWS with members of the cast - GIOVANNI LOMBARDO RADICE, ANTONIOZEQUILA - & Producer STEVE AQUILINA and Director LUIGI PASTORE
- TRAILERS 
- SLIDESHOW