THE EPITAPH VOL.5
BORIS KARLOFF COLLECTION - TO CATCH A KILLER (1992) - SCARLET DIVA (2000) - BUYBUST (2018) - THE COLLECTOR (1965) - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (1998) - METROPOLIS (2001)
This week we remember the recently released from VCI Entertainment, Film Movement, Umbrella Entertainment, Well Go USA, Powerhouse Films, Shout Select and Mill Creek Entertainment. Movies running the gamut from over-stuffed historical drama and true-crime TV from the 90's, to dystopian sci-fi animation - and all points in between - there's a little bit for everybody here.
First up in the 2-disc 4 film set BORIS KARLOff COLLECTION from VCI Entertainment, collecting Fear Chamber (aka Torture Zone) (1968), House of Evil (aka Dance of Death) (1968), Isle of the Snake People (aka Cult of the Dead) (1971) and Alien Terror (aka The Incredible Invasion) (1971) - all four film made in Mexico and co-directed by Jack Hill (Spider-Baby) and Juan Ibáñez. Needless to say this is not prime Karloff, but they are somewhat decent b-movie trash for connoisseurs of bad movies, even at this late stage Karloff had something to give his fans, even if was LSD zombies, sacrifices to a living rock, sinister toys and alien-controlled sexual deviants. These are full screen versions that are of dupey VHS quality, but if you're a die-hard Karloff fan and want to see his final few films you can get it here for pretty cheap!
TV crime-drama TO CATCH A KILLER (1992) was a 2-part TV movie that aired in 1992. I'd never heard of the film before Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment announced it. Their release features the 2-part film in the original full-frame presentation. The three-hour telefilm follows the investigation that lead to John Wayne Gacy's arrest in December 1978, an investigation lead by Lieutenant Joseph Kozenczak (Michael Riley, Black Swan) who doggedly pursues suspect John Wayne Gacy whom is suspected in the disappearance of several young men. Brian Dennehy (First Blood) is intense as the serial killer suspect, the scenes of him in the Gacy clown make-up is so disturbing. Be on the lookout for Meg Foster (They Live) as a city attorney and Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) as a spiritual medium. The TV movie is dramatic and intense, both Riley and Dennehy bring their a-game to the film, it's well-paced and pulled me right in from the first few frames. This is an overlooked gem of a true-crime TV film, very high caliber stuff, well-worth checking out if true-crime and serial killer stuff is your bag. The only extras on the region-free disc is a promotional trailer for the film.
Asia Argento is the daughter of Italian director Dario Argento, this is her semi autobiographical tale of sex, fame and drugs, it's titled SCARLET DIVA (2000), and it's an interesting look at celebrity and fame, at the hangers on and enablers that surround them. It's a fairly self indulgent film, but not without some style of it's own. It was shot on Mini-DV at the start of the millennium so it has limits to how good it can look on Blu-ray but Film Movement give the film a solid release with loads of extras and a booklet with contextual writing by Kier-La Janisse, author of 'The House of Psychotic Women'. There's also a new commentary that covers some of the same stuff from the original 2004 release, but also really lays in Harvey Weinstein for obvious reasons.
From distributor Well Go USA comes
actioner BUYBUST (2018), a hyper violent tale of a drug bust gone real bad in a slum in Manila. Here we have new recruits of a drug task force entering a supposedly drug-free zone to take down a baddie, but all hell breaks loose and as they hunker down and try to fight back the casualties pile up, and loyalties are tested. Fans of no-holds barred action should definitely seek this one out, it can be a bit over-the-top at times both in terms of choreography, visuals and sound design, but I cannot deny that the physical brawls, exchanges of gunfire and violent skirmishes peppered throughout are intense and never-ending. The dual-format DVD+Blu-ray combo looks and sounds A-OK, and we get some insightful extras for those craving more after the movie ends. There's also an English dub for anyone not wanting to read subtitles.
From Powerhouse Films via their Indicator imprint comes THE COLLECTOR (1965) starring a young Terrence Stamp (Superman II) as a lonely and unstable young man who has won the local lottery. He buys a fine home in the country and collects butterflies to pass the time. However, he grows lonely and decides he needs a woman in his life, to that end he stalks and kidnaps art student Miranda Grey (Samantha Eggar, The Brood), chloroforming her and keeping her hidden away in a secret basement-room he has designed just for her. Obviously she wants to escape, but to do so she must gain the trust of the socially awkward young man. I found this to be a completely enthralling watch, Stamp is coldly mesmerizing in the role of the socially inept young man,, and Eggar is wonderful in the role of his captive, trying to figure him out, hoping to outsmart him and gain her freedom. A wonderful and suspenseful psychological-thriller with two amazing performances in the leads, definitely a gem of 60's cinema worth discovering if you're unfamiliar. The region-free Blu-ray from Powerhouse Films looks fantastic and has load of extras, including new interviews with stars Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar.
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (1998) gets a 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition from Shout! Factory via their Shout Select imprint. The big-budget version of The Three Musketeers stars Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu and Gabriel Byrne as the aging Dutch swordsmen, finding them during the dire reign of King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio). I was never a big fan of big-budget historical thrillers that were over-stuffed with big name stars, and this is certainly one of those. A hammy, scenery-chewing big budget flick with a woefully miscast DiCaprio in a Golden Raspberry-nominated dual role. Shout have given the film a brand new 4K scan from the OCN with new interviews with producer Paul Hitchcock and production designer Anthony Pratt, plus vintage extras. The new artwork is horrendous, I can only assume none of the stars would give permission to use their likenesses, and were too embarrassed to bother to commit to speaking about the film on any new extras.