Tuesday, June 6, 2017

HIDEOUS! (1997) (Blu-ray Review)

HIDEOUS! (1997) 

Label: Full Moon Features
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Charles Band
Cast: Michael Citriniti, Rhonda Griffin, Mel Johnson, Jacqueline Lovell, Tracie May, Jerry O’Donnell

Charles Band and Full Moon has always had a soft-spot for tiny-terror films, low-budget movies that involved little things doing bad stuff, killer dolls and puppets (Puppet Master, Demonic Toys), galaxy travelling little people (Dollman), and even half-sized versions of the Universal Monsters (The Creeps), and  Hideous! (1997)is yet another slice of miniature monster mayhem. 

The movie opens with a scenario that feels more akin to Troma than Full Moon, with a trio sewage plant employees skimming the cesspool with long-poled nets, looking for unwanted chunks of whatever horrid stuff might plug up the works. The more senior of the trio relates to the newbies how he's found everything from a diamond ring (which he proposed to his girlfriend with) to a kilo of heroin,  and even deformed mutant babies! As luck would have it he fishes out another deformed mutant newborn and carries it away to his car in the parking lot, apparently he's been selling these deformed babies he finds to an unscrupulous business woman named Belinda Yost (Tracie May, The Game) who in turn sells the freaks to the highest bidder for a massive profit. The two main collectors of hideous deformed babies in the area are are Dr. Lorca (Michael Citrini, Goodfellas) and Napoleon Lazar, played by Mel Johnson Jr., the mutant cabbie Benny from Total Recall!

When it is revealed, by her own dim-witted secretary Elvina (Rhonda Griffin, The Creeps), that Yost short shrifted Dr. Lorca in favor of Lazar in regard to the sale of her latest deformed acquisition, the angry Lorca sends his sexy female assistant/thug Sheila (Jacqueline Lovell, Head of The Family) to retrieve the latest mutant freak for his own private collection, she does so topless and wearing a gorilla mask in the dead of winter, fun stuff, completely nonsensical, but awesome in a schlocky what-the-fuck, why not, sort of way. As I said in the review of Head of the Family I definitely have a thing for Lovell, looking very much like a trailer park version of former adult film star Traci Lords and Hollywood's Scarlett Johansson. 

Angry that he's been stolen from, Lazar along with Yost, Elvina and a newly hired private eye (Jerry O'Donnell, TV's Mad Men) head to Dr. Lorca's Gothic castle to confront him about the theft, but what they don't anticipate is that the new baby freak is somehow still alive and has re-animated three of Lorca's other prized baby freaks, which he keeps in a jar full of formaldehyde, which causes a bit of a mayhem for the six people at the castle.

As a tiny-terror entry Hideous! has it's moments but is bogged down by the fact that the tiny-terror action is slow in the coming and doesn't pay off too well, the freaks, designed by Mark Rappaport, (Zombeavers), are kept to a slime-covered minimum, and there's way too much talking and not enough terror. It helps that the lovely Jackie Lovell drops her top for a bit and spends the entire film in a pair of hot shorts and a leather vest that only just barely covers her top-drawer assets, and that both Citrini and Johnson are gleefully chewing up the scenery having a blast, but it was a let down that the deformed babies are kept mostly in the dark, caught in very fleeting glimpses, and even those are a bit under lit.

I also loved Tracie May as the deformed baby-broker, she has no scruples and is sort of sexy, too. She looks a bit like a femme fatale from a 40's noir movie, and her shit-for-brains secretary is fun, too.  A ditsy dame who at one point has her nipple nibbled on by one of the mutant babies, it's a fun scene, but for the most part the freaks do not have a lot to do, which is a shame, and as a result this one loses points, but is still a fun watch.  

Audio/Video: Hideous! (1997) arrives on Blu-ray from Full Moon Features, restored from the original 35mm negative, and it looks pretty solid with good contrast and black levels, colors are nicely vibrant, purples and red really pop, though there is a brief scene at about the 61 minute mark when the video quality drops significantly, it looks like that scene comes from  standard definition source, perhaps an old video master. That being said, other than some very minor white speckling, dirt and horizontal scratches the movie looks quite good to my eyes, though it does seem a bit dark at times The disc includes a lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and surround 5.1, Full Moon have yet to embrace lossless audio, but both do the job, though I preferred the stereo track. The dialogue and effects are mixed well, but the Richard Band (Re-Animator) score is one of his lesser efforts. 

Extras on the disc begin with the original 19-min Videozone featurette with vintage interviews from Charles Band,  Michael Citriniti, Tracie May, Rhonda Griffin, Terry O'Donnell and Jackie Lovell. Bands speaks about directuing for the first time since Prehysteria, filming at his studio in Romania,  while Cinitrini speaks about the fun of chewing up the scenery, Tracie May relishes in playing such a nasty character, and wearing a particular fragrance crafted just for her character by her friend who was a perfume designer. Rhonda Griffin speaks a bit about her brainless character who has heart, while Lovell loved the idea of being nude with a gorilla mask. These vintage Videozone segments are always a blast, Band was ahead of the curve when it came to including special features, even back in the days of VHS. There's also an audio commentary from Mel Johnson Jr and Michael Citriniti, who have fun recollecting their time on the low-budget film, speaking about the fun times they had in Romania, making fun of their dialogue, and the secret to how the lovely Lovell used double-sided tape to keep that vest secured to her breasts.  We also get about 14 minutes of Full Moon trailers in widescreen HD. 

Special Features: 
- Commentary with Actors Mel Johnson Jr and Michael Citriniti
- Original Videozone (19 Min)
- Full Moon Trailers: Ravenwolf Towers (2 min) HD, Head of the Family (2 min) HD, Killjoy Psycho Circus (2 min) HD, Puppet Master 2 (2 min) HD, Puppet Master 3 (2 min) HD, Vampire Journals (2 min) HD, Spectres (2 min)HD

Another 90s Full Moon tiny-terror entry arrives on Blu-ray looking solid, while this doesn't rise to the level of cream of the crop of the Full Moon catalog this is absolutely on par with Head of The Family (1996)as a fun, low-budget, slice of Full Moon schlock. If you dig Full Moon's 90's output like Head of The Family and The Creeps (1997)you will probably dig this, if you're not a fan of FM or those film this won't change your mind, it's hokey and goofy, but it's also entertaining in a trashy sort of way. 2.5/5