Thursday, November 29, 2018

THE EPITAPH VOL. 9 : SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (1990) - URBAN LEGEND (1999) - URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (2000) - COMMUNITY - THE COMPLETE SERIES (2009-2015)

THE EPITAPH VOL. 9 

A solid group of capsule reviews this week, something for cult-lovers, a double-dose of modern slashers, and there's even something for the people looking for the funny. 


SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (1990) - URBAN LEGEND (1999) - URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (2000) - COMMUNITY - THE COMPLETE SERIES (2009-2015) 



SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (1990)

Label: Cheezy Flicks

Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration:
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 

Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Brad Dourif, Cynthia Bain, Jon Cypher, William Prince, Melinda Dillon, Dey Young, Dick Butkus

The late-great director Tobe Hooper's was man with a varied and multi-faceted resume, he went from the heights of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist to some late-career dreck best left forgottenr, and right in the middle of that career he did a few films that we're good, but maybe not remembered as fondly as they deserve. Coming off a trio of nutso-film for the Canon Group we have this pulpy story of pyrokinetic empowered man, a film that is ripe for rediscovery and re-evaluation from cult-lovers. We have a young couple exposed to radiation during atom bomb testing in the 50's, a short time they give birth to a baby, and are later incinerated, the victims of what looks to be spontaneous combustion! Years later we catch up with their kid, played by Brad Dourif (Child's Play), in a rare leading role. He's in a relationship, life seems good, but then he discovers he's a living flame-thrower, able to somewhat control his powers, with the downside being that each time he flames up he starts falling apart, physically deteriorating. The film is a bit of a hot-mess (zing!) but has some cool noir-inspired atmosphere as well as some great fire stunt work and flame-gags, some of which are mighty impressive. If you're a cult-film fan this is an easy recommend, Dourif is always solid, and while the film might have some logic gaps and structure issues it's pretty great. The film arrives on Blu-ray from Cheezy Films who I know previously for issuing public domain film on DVD, I think this is their first Blu-ray release. The film was previously available on Blu-ray from Code Red and this looks to be the same transfer, but it doesn't really wow on the technical side. Let me just say that burning your logo brand into the movie title credit sequence is a strange choice, and while the transfer is at time crisp with a nice clarity, it also a bit on the waxy side with anemic black levels, and audio is lossy Dolby Digital with no subtitles (and no extras). I dig the film, but think the presentation is a bit off, but if you can pick it up for a good price, and you cannot find the the technically superior Code Red Blu-ray, this is a good find for b-movie fans. 




URBAN LEGEND (1999) 

2-Disc Collector's Edition

Label: Scream Factory

Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 99 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0, 5.1 with Optional English subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen 2.40:1) 
Director: Jamie Blanks
Cast: 

Urban Legend was a late-'90s slasher done right, a kill-spree film set at on a college campus. Kids are dying in a manner that re-creates popular urban legends, which is all sorts of awesome, with a first kill sets everything up rather nicely. The film is not super-gory or anything but the set-ups and execution are cool, with fun appearances from Robert Englund and Brad Dourif, plus that bright eyed freckle faced girl from the 90's Noxzema commercials, who tunes out to be pretty great in her role.

The slasher is fast paced, stylish and like many of my favorite 80's slashers is a bit mental in that there are a lot of things happening that make absolutely no sense if you really think about. In my jaded 20's I saw this at the cinema and brushed it off as just another  Scream knock-off, but seeing it again years later I reconsidered that harsh assessment, this is actually a bit of a 90's gem, worth it alone to see Danielle Harris (Halloween 4) as the Goth roommate of the survival girl, plus Loretta Devine as the university cop obsessed with Pam Grier in 70's blaxploitation classic Coffy, always makes me laugh, I love that character! The 2-disc Collectros' Edition from Scream Factory is jam-packed with new extras, plus a  slipcover and a reversible sleeve of artwork, top-notch. 

Special Features: 

- Audio Commentary With Director Jamie Blanks, Producer Michael McDonnell and Assistant Editor Edgar Pablos
- Audio Commentary With Director Jamie Blanks, Writer Silvio Horta and Actor Michael Rosenbaum
- Trailer (2 min) HD
- Urban Legacy 
- The Story Behind Urban Legend (10 min) HD
- Assembling The Team (18 min) HD 
- A Cast of Legends (19 min) HD 
- There’s Someone In The Back Seat (16 min) HD  
- Stories From The Set (29 min) HD 
- Campus Carnage (24 min) HD  
- A Legendary Composer (16 min) HD 
- A Lasting Legacy (17 min) HD
- Extended Interviews (40 min) HD  – 
- Extended Interviews: Part 2
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage (44 min) 
- Archival Making Of Featurette (10 min) 
- Deleted Scene (3 min)
- TV Spots (2 min)
- Gag Reel (2 min) 

URBAN LEGENDS FINAL CUT (2000) 


Label: Scream Factory 

Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 99 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0, 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: John Ottomoan
Cast: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Joseph Lawrence, Anthony Anderson, Loretta Devine, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes, Jessica Cauffiel

A year later after the 90's slasher hit it big at the cinema we got a millennial sequel, this time set at a film school and armed with a script with maybe a bit too many puns about movie making. Again we have a core group of people, all semi-talented film students who are competing for the prestigious Hitchcock Award, but someones killing them off one at a time. I don't think the premise is as solid as the first one but the kills are decent, and it's fun, and let me tell you, good kills and fun are the two things I need from a slasher, and it delivers the good, it's just a bit trashier than the previous entry, and that's not always a bad thing, trashy things are fun. This time around the killer's "mask" is not as cool as the heavy-jacket worn by the killer in the first film. Thankfully sassy Loretta Devine returns as the Coffy-obsessed college cop, plus the killer from the first film makes a fun cameo at the end of this one. The sequel apparently didn't rise to the level of deserving a collector's edition from Scream, but we do get new interviews with the cast and crew, as well as a few vintage one, but no new artwork, just that same photoshopped floating heads bullshit we've seen for years now. 


Special Features: 

- NEW The Legend Continues: Urban Legends: Final Cut Including Interviews With Producers Gina Matthews And Michael McDonnell, Executive Producers Nick Osborne And Brad Luff, Chairman And CEO Of Phoenix Pictures Mike Medavoy, Writer Silvio Horta, And Actors Loretta Devine And Rebecca Gayheart (17 min) HD 
- NEW Interview With Actress Jessica Cauffiel (17 min) HD 
- Audio Commentary With Director John Ottman
- Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By - Director John Ottman (9 min) HD 
- Vintage Making Of Featurette (4 min) 
- Gag Reel (5 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer ( 2min) 

TRAUMA (2017) 


Label: Artsploitation Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 110 Minutes 
Audio: Spanish with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Lucio A. Rojas
Cast: Daniel Antivilo, Macarena Carrere, Ximena del Solar, Felipe Ríos, Dominga Bofil

If you feel like your life is going too good, and maybe you need a good punch in the guts to bring you back down to reality, may I suggest the Chilean horror film Trauma (2017), aptly named because I felt as if I had been beaten after I watched. Opening with  a scene of a military torturer serving under Pinochet toying with a mother and her son, she's tied up and beaten, her son is drugged, and forced to perform one of the most heinous things I think I've ever seen on film, it's really beyond the pale! After that the film moves ahead a number of years, after the reign of Pinochet, we have a group of women headed into the rural countryside for a weekend getaway. They stop off at a bar for directions, meet some ogling men who are not very helpful, and finally arrive at the cabin. They begin drinking and having fun, there's some melodrama, some backbiting, and then two weirdos show up, a father and son peeping in on the ladies fun, and then things turn to shit. This slice of foreign exploitation offers some truly disturbing violence, with rape-y stuff that is hard to watch, the violence perpetrated against the women is difficult to digest, as it should be. What I saw was a well-made film, full of painful imagery and disturbing ideas, it's potent stuff, but not something I would likely revisit anytime soon, but if you're a glutton for punishment this is the film that delivers the goods, I can see this really appealing to fans of extreme cinema.  


COMMUNITY - THE COMPLETE SERIES (2009-2015) 12-Disc Set 


Label: Mill Creek Entertainment

Region Code: A
Rating: TVPG
Duration: 2,423 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 

I really limit my TV intake these days, I try to hold onto about five series tops every season, otherwise I fall behind on the movie reviews, so I missed out on watching any of Community until this set dropped into my mailbox. All six seasons on a 12-disc set, so far I'm only a few episodes into the first season and in love with it,  kicking myself for not watching sooner. The show is about a group of friends and staff at a community college, it's  ripe with parody and pop-culture references, featuring a cast of very funny people including Chevy Chase, Donald Glover, John Oliver, Joel McHale, Keith David and loads more. If you're into comedy TV series this is a real no-brainer, definitely check it out, and if you're looking for a solid comedy xmas gift for a friend who loves the funny stuff this would be an awesome gift.


 

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