Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Short Film Review: ASSASSINS (2011)

Duration: 10 min
Video: 16:9 Widescreen
Director: Michael Bonomo
Cast: Bill Oberst Jr., Vicente Disanti, Caitlyn Sabrio

A short film. It sounds pretty easy, right? Pumping out a compressed little story in an abbreviated form with a beginning, middle and an end that's coherent and intriguing... wait, that actually sounds kind of excruciating now that I think about it. Well thankfully for you there's short subject directors like Michael Bonomo who fully understand what it takes to make not just a great short film but just a great film, period..

The filmmaker's sixth short film ASSASSINS (2011) is a tale of the fateful meeting of two hitmen; the seasoned, steely-eyed pro Nathan (Bill Oberst Jr., DISMAL) and the newbie Walter (Vicente Disanti) who may just not be cut out for this line of work. Without spoiling the ten minute film too much Walter is a novice hitman whose hit has goes horribly awry. Nathan is then called in to clean-up the mess one way or the other, well there you go.

Right from the get go the film is a well-directed, taut and tense beast, it's a pretty slick short with high production value, attractive cinematography and lighting, tight editing and a low-key but effective score from Kristen Baum (THE BOOK OF ELI).

When it was all over and done with I definitely wanted more in the best possible way, it maintained it's mystery while revealing just enough, which is pretty impressive for a ten minute film. I was left with lingering flavors of Michael Mann's COLLATERAL and a few choice bits of Quentin Tarantino's PULP FICTION as Oberst seemingly channels some of Harvey Keitel's "The Wolf" from that film, the seasoned professional sent in to clean things up.

High marks to this tense thriller from Michael Bonomo, be sure check out his website at the link below where you can watch a few of his previous short films. The film is not yet available online as Bonomo will be travelling the film on the festival circuit quite soon. Also be sure to check out Bill Oberst Jr. over at the wickedly interactive Facebook app which is a truly unnerving social media mindfuck that must be experienced first hand to fully appreciate. 4/5 


Monday, October 24, 2011

DVD Review: THE DEVIL'S KISS (1975)


Label: ArrowDrome
Region Code: 0 PAL
Rating: 18 Certificate
Duration: 89 mins
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, French Dolby Digital Mono
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Jordi Gigo
Cast: Silvia Solar, Oliveir Mathot, Jose Nieto
Tagline: One kiss dragged the dead from their graves...

Arrow Video have unearthed director Jordi Gigo's (EXORCISMO) trashy French-Spanish production THE DEVIL'S KISS from the dusty vaults of Eurocine and spit-shined it for a right proper release through the ArrowDrome imprint, in all it's campy 70's glory to the delight of bad cinema lovers everywhere.

Claire Grandier (Silvia Solar, EYEBALL) is a former Countess turned occult spiritualist whom arrives at the Castle of the Duke de Haussemont's (Jose Nieto, FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR) to attend an awesomely terrible fashion show, you just gotta see it for yourself, it's a frightfully  groovy sight. When she discovers the Duke's desperation to contact his deceased son through occult channels she charms her way into castle following a spooky seance. What the grieving Duke doesn't seem to realize is that Claire is actually out to destroy him in revenge of her late husband's death, he having committed suicide which she blames the Haussemont family for. Once inside the castle walls Claire, along with her co-conspirator Dr. Gruber (Olivier Mathot, REVENGE IN THE HOUSE OF USHER), hatch a diabolical scheme to unearth a fresh corpse, inject it with regenerative micro cells (what?) and call upon the dark powers of Astaroth to possess the corpse which will carry out her vengeance with the assistance of Dr.Gruber's telepathy (Oh! That explains it). Unearthing a recently deceased villager the two macabre nuts carry out their fiendish plan. However, Dr. Gruber is afflicted with a worsening heart condition and as his telepathic powers wane it becomes increasingly difficult to harness the evil inside the blue-skinned ghoul.

The film has an odd cast of deviant characters including a pervy voyeur butler, a lusty maid, a rape-y dwarf and the Duke's douchey playboy nephew, no one is particularly likable here so don't expect to care who dies. There's a lot going on in this rickety Gothic schlockfest, it's crammed with wildly awful 70s fashion, ham-fisted erotic inserts, grave robbery, spooky seances, devil worship, necromancy, zombies and a kitschy retro Euro-sleaze aesthetic candy coated with a thick organ score that at times sounded as if someone had fallen onto the keyboard.

Reversible Artwork
While here's some cool set design going on and cinematography ain't half bad the stiff acting and poorly dubbed dialogue do the film few favors. That said, it tended to be just awful enough to be a good bit of fun. The Gothic atmosphere and kitschy elements just never quite seem to come together in a way that works but as a slice of trashy Euro-sleaze it's a fun watch.

DVD: ArrowDrome's DVD edition of THE DEVIL'S KISS is presented in 16:9 widescreen (1.66:1) with choice of English and French language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with optional English subtitles. The film look surprisingly good even with some minor nicks, scratches and dirt, it's a pretty great print all around and was an unexpected treat. The mono audio while lacking depth and fidelity sounds pretty decent even with some snap, crackle and pop. For the purpose of this review I would occasionally toggle back and forth from English to French during the feature for comparison and I would say that the English dialogue sounds more crisp but the French effects and score sounded a more robust on the whole. Small amounts of print damage and hiss are the least of this film's worries,

The  screener "check disc" from Arrow Video did not include any packaging artwork or the collector's booklet but did include the Eurocine trailer reel which was a pretty great feature. Of the five trailers one that jumped out at me was ZOMBIE LAKE which I've heard so much about but have never watched, it looked wonderfully terrible and I sincerely hope that Arrow Video plan release it through their ArrowDrome imprint, it seems to be very much in the spirit of the grindhouse b-movies we've seen from them thus far and I think it would make a wonderful edition to the ArrowDrome catalog.

Special Features:
- New Booklet by Author Stephen Thrower

Verdict: There's a smorgasbord of cheese-tastic Italian Euro-cult titles floating around on DVD these days but these Spanish co-productions like THE DEVIL'S KISS and THE MAN WITH THE SEVERED HEAD (with Paul Naschy) have been given short shrift, I'm very pleased to see that the Spanish schlock is getting it's due in the UK and elsewhere. If you're a connoisseur of cinema fromage, kitsch and bad b-movies gather your friends and give this a watch, definitely a film that benefits from a roomful of bad movie fans and a couple of sixers. If you're not a fan of bad 70's cinema move on, otherwise get your schlock on. 2.5/5  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blu-ray Review: CAT O' NINE TAILS (1971)

Label: Arrow Video
Region Code: Region FREE
Rating: 15 Certificate  
Duration: 111 mins
Audio: LPCM Audio English, LPCM Audio with English subtitles
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.35:1) 1080p
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak
Tagline: Caught between the truth and a murderer’s hand!

CAT O' NINE TAILS (1971) is Dario Argento's sophomore film following THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE. It's the middle entry in what's known as Argento's "Animal Trilogy", a trio of films with names of animals in the title which is capped off with FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET and share little in common aside from being that oh-so wonderful Italian variation on the classic whodunit called a giallo and Argento's artful eye for the stylish macabre, not unlike John Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy".

The film stars Karl Malden (HOW THE WEST WAS WON), features a score by Ennio Morricone (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY) and is co-written by Italian screenwriting legend Dardana Sacchetti (BAY OF BLOOD). The story revolves around a blind, middle aged man named Arno (Malden) who cares for his young adopted daughter Lori (Cinzia DE Carolis, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) and bides his time assembling the daily newspaper's crossword puzzle. One evening while walking down the street with Lori he overhears two men discussing blackmail in a car parked on the street outside of a genetics lab which just happens to sit next to Arno's apartment. Pretending to bend over and tie his shoe he asks Lori to observe the men in the car, she's only able to describe one of the men to Arno. Later that night while working on a new puzzle Arno overhears a scuffle outside his window which unbeknownst to him is a crime taking place.

The next day Arno is out on the street when he's accidentally knocked over by a reporter named Carlo (James Franciscus, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES) near the genetics lab and when he asks the reporter what has happened he's informed that the previous evening the night watchmen of the lab was knocked out cold and that someone has broken into the Terzi Institute to perhaps perform some act of industrial espionage. Whatever it is Prof. Terzi (Tino Carraro, WEREWOLF MAN) doesn't seem too keen on assisting the police with their investigation. Soon after the break-in one of the lab's lead scientist Dr. Calabresi (Carl Alighiero, BLADE OF THE RIPPER) is thrown in front of a speeding train pulling into the station during the high profile arrival of a movie starlet, his moment of death is caught on camera and makes the front page news.

The next day Arno's daughter Lori notices the picture of the victim at the train station and recognizes that it's none other than one of the men from the car outside the genetics lab. The two seek out reporter Carlo and the trio set about sleuthing the mystery in classic whodunit fashion as the killer sets out to eliminate those who may be able to finger them as the devious culprit. Red-herrings abound in this atmospheric, slow-burn including the sexy, spoiled daughter of Prof. Terzi, Anna, played by the vivacious French actress/singer Catherine Spaak.

The set-up is your classic murder whodunit but it soon becomes entangled in an improbably array of twists and turns stemming from the strangest chromosomal motivation this side of well, nearly most everything, it's very odd and not one of Argento's better twists in my opinion, it's a head-scratcher for sure and not in a complimentary way.

The cinematography from Erico Menczer lacks the stunning scope and framing of say Storaro (THE BIRD WITH TH CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) or Tovoli (TENEBRE) but it's an early Argento so there's some great Euro 70's style and set decoration courtesy of set designer Carlo Leva. Love those 70's fashions, locations and decors, ornate wall paper and a funky 70's color palates. The kills are not particularly elaborate (mostly strangulation) and are lacking in my opinion but there are some great POV shots, trademark stairwell shots, cool eyeball close-ups and nifty set pieces, a particularly fun departure from life occurs when the villain meets a grisly end screaming down an elevator shaft, his hands torn to pieces grasping at the steel cables.  
Perhaps not on par with Argento's finest works but still a very fine giallo that absolutely outshines anything he's done post-OPERA in my estimation. It's a bit of a slow burn, which I rather enjoy, and the kills aren't as intricate as you may have hoped but still an enjoyable whodunit that's wonderfully acted, steeped in atmosphere and masterfully directed.

Highlights for me were a particularly tense seen featuring Carlo getting a close shave from a barber who takes exception to his article implicating that a barber may in fact be the murderous maniac, a white-nuckle care chase through the busy streets Italy and the film's elevator shaft shocker finale, fun stuff. I am reminded in a way of Lucio Fulci, whose later gore-riddled films brought him much notoriety but it is forgotten that he once also directed suspenseful, less visceral film such as THE PSYCHIC and I think Argento's CAT O' NINE TAILS  is similarly lost amidst his oeuvre and it's definitely a film deserving of some respect for the thriller that it is.
Blu-ray: The CAT O' NINE TAILS Blu-ray from Arrow Video presents the film in original 16:9 enhanced  aspect ratio (2.35:1) in 1080p HD, the transfer comes from a very nice looking print that is nearly free of print damage. The transfer is a tad bit brighter than my Blue Underground DVD from a few years back and occasionally appears unnaturally bright which may be attributed to some brightness boosting, but not ruinously so. Otherwise, colors look quite good, black levels are fine and the film's fine grain structure is nicely intact. Arrow's 1080p transfer definitely boost the fine detail and facial features and is a welcomed upgrade over my DVD edition.

Panel B

The LPCM mono sounds very nice handling the high and lows with ease, no distortions were noticed on either the English or the Italian track, the latter I only sampled now and again for purpose of this review. It's mono so we don't get a lot of depth but the dialogue, effects and score are all well balanced and sound great, particularly Ennio Morricone's score, which isn't his finest work but the "Lullabye in Blue" is definitely a haunting highlight that opens the film.

As usual Arrow Video and High Rising Productions have come through with a sweet array of bonus content that compliment the film. Dario Argento Remembers The Cat O’ Nine Tails (10:31) features the maestro recalling the film and his distaste for it, stating the film is too American for his taste sand is his least favorite of all his films, obviously this was filmed prior to GIALLO. The Cat O’ Nine Tails in Reflection, an interview with long-time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi (16:24) is a nice reflection on Cozzi's friend and collaborator Argento's career plus Giallo mastermind Sergio Martino (TORSO) is featured on Sergio Martino: The Art and Arteries of the Giallo (24:05) as he recounts Argento's contribution to the giallo genre, his style and touches on quite a few of Argento's films, as well as his own masterful giallo entry TORSO. All three the interviews are conducted in Italian with English subtitles and interspersed with clips from the film, trailers and poster art, lastly we get  the Italian language theatrical trailer for the film with English subs

Panel C

The final round of content unfortunately did not accompany my "check disc" but for everyone else you'll be treated to four reversible art options including a sweet new panel from artist Rick Melton whose Arrow covers I'm a huge fan of, great stuff that captures one of the film's most effective scenarios, a two-sided fold out poster and an exclusive collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing by Alan Jones, author of ‘Profondo Argento’. I'm quite a fan of the bonus content that High Rising Productions are creating for the Argento films from Arrow Video, perhaps my only regret is that scream queen Daria Nicolodi is not featured in the film and therefore offers no interview for inclusion on this set which is a loss for all because that woman tells it how it is. It's worth mentioning that there is no commentary track, where's  Calum Waddell, Allan Jones, Kim Newman or Thomas Rostock? Two minor gripes aside there's some really nice supplements here that really point to Arrow Video's and High Rising Production's devotion to the film and the director.

Verdict: Overall a very fine Blu-ray release from Arrow Video that's well worth the upgrade. CAT O' NINE TAILS might not be as stylish as THE BIRD WITH CRYSTAL PLUMAGE or TENEBRAE but is still a first-rate thriller, a slow burn for sure, that ends with a satisfying conclusion, even if I think the XYY chromosomal motivations are quite absurd. Just a reminder that the disc is region FREE and playable worldwide, even the features are in HD and look great.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blu-ray Review: FRANKENHOOKER (1990)


Release Date: November 8th 2011
Region Code: Region FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 mins
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1) 1080p
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround, DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
Director: Frank Henenlotter

Cast: James Lorinz, Patty Mullen, Louise Lasser, Joseph Gonzalez, Joanne Ritchie, J.J. Clark
Tagline: Some Assembly Required

Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz, THE SWEET LIFE) is a medical school drop-out and aspiring mad scientist who at the start of the film gives life to an aquatic brain with a cyclopian eyeball that he keeps in a fish tank. When his fiance Elizabeth (Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen) is massacred by a remote-controlled lawnmower of his own design he sets out resurrect her using only the best body parts from NYC's finest prostitutes. He comes to decide that the cities crack epidemic is already killing the prostitutes so he creates an even deadlier form of super-crack to get the job done just a little quicker.

When he encounters the musclebound pimp Zorro (Joseph Gonzalez) Jeffrey books his finest selection of whore and sets about choosing the perfect woman with the perfect parts in a fun montage of measuring breasts, arms and legs to decide which street walker has the finest assets. However, when the whores prematurely discover his stash of super-crack it has the unfortunate side effect of causing the ecstatic ladies to explode. Making the most of the unfortunate event Jeffery is able to pick the best parts off the floor (each marked with an "X") and takes them back to his converted car garage slash laboratory where he puts his dubious medical knowledge to the test, resurrecting his beloved Elizabeth in true Mary Shelly's Frankenstein style during an especially intense lightning storm.

Once resurrected however things don't quite go as planned and it becomes clear that Elizabeth has picked-up many of the personality traits of the whores that comprise her voluptuous body, including the stock phrases "wanna date.. got any money?".  When Jeffrey tells her he has no money she knocks him out cold and makes her way to, where else, 42nd Street to turn tricks.  Her first john is a horny pear-shaped sleaze (David Lipman, THE EXTERMINATOR) who gets a deadly dose of the Frankenhooker's high-voltage discharge.

What's so great about Henenlotter's campy retelling of Frankenstein is how wonderfully absurd it is, never taking itself seriously, it revels in the ridiculous. James Lorinz is fantastic as the amateur mad scientist who occasionally performs trephination upon himself. He looks quite a bit like Andrew McCarthy (PRETTY IN PINK) and his line deliveries are spot-on with witty dialogue and a great monologue acting opposite the always great Louise Lasser (HAPPINESS) as his clueless mother. Next to him it's Patty Mullen's (DOOM ASYLUM) adorable performance as the tit-ular character that drove this one home for me, so cute, even when decked out as the purple nippled trick turner.

The film's special effects are pretty great but may not be what you're expecting from the man behind BASKET CASE and BRAIN DEAD, they're totally campy, nearly bloodless and not played for realism. In the aforementioned exploding whores on super crack scene the bodies are obviously dressed-up mannequins as per Hennenlotter's vision and it totally works. Patty Mullens's make-up effects are fantastic, she absolutely looks like the hottest whore comprised of body parts you'll ever see. The film's finale features the remnants of Zorro's whore recombining in odd configurations and the effects would not look out of place in Henenlotter's BASKET CASE sequels fun stuff.

Blu-ray: The film is presented in 16:9 widescreen (1.78:1) in 1080p HD. The brand new 2K transfer derived from original vault elements looks pretty great, sharp detail, a fine bed of natural grain, decent black levels and vibrant colors, the neon almost pops of the screen. A few occasional small scratches and specks here and there but hardly anything noticeable. It's a pretty typical Synapse transfer in that there are very few complaints to lodge and no evidence of DNR scrubbing. Audio option include both DTS-HD MA 5.1 and a DTS-HD MA stereo mixes which both sound great. Dialogue is always crisp, clear and the score and effects are well balanced. The 5.1 is appreciated and while not overly active in the directionals really does provide some ambient depth and fleshes out Joe Renzetti's (DEAD AND BURIED, THE EXTERMINATOR) fun score.

We get an audio commentary with director Frank Henelotter and make-up effects creator Gabe Bartalos, it's a good technical track with some fun insights. Not the most riveting track but if you're a fan of the film it's a keeper. There are also three very cool interview featurettes; A Salad That Was Once Named Elizabeth  (8:43) with actress and former Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen who's still looking great, what a sweetheart. She reflects on her favorite and least favorite scenes, driving home in the full Frankenhooker make-up, working with Lorinz and her crush on special effects advisor Gabe Bartalos. A Stitch in Time: The Make-Up Effects Of Frankenhooker (21:00) has SF/X man Gabe Bartalos introducing some cool behind-the-scenes footage of not just FRANKENHOOKER but also BRAIN DAMAGE and heaps the praise on Patty Mullen. Turning Tricks: Jennifer Delora Remembers Frankenhooker (19:32) features red-headed wild woman Delora, the type of dame that just has crazy in her eyes and it makes for a fun interview as she speaks to going from an '87 beauty queen to working on BAD GIRLS DORMITORY and then dishing some dirt from the set of FRANKENHOOKER, disparaging James Lorinz and strong arming difficult strippers on set. Definitely a fun woman but not one you wanna piss of, know what I mean? Rounding out the disc's features are Jennifer Delora's Frankenhooker Scrapbook featuring behind-the-scenes pics and the Theatrical Trailer (1:32) plus reversible artwork. All in all a great set of features that compliment a crazy fun campfest.

Special Features:- Audio Commentary with Director Frank Henenlotter and Make-Up Effects Designer Gabe Bartalos
- A Stitch in Time: The Make-Up Effects Of Frankenhooker (21:00) 4:3
- Turning Tricks: Jennifer Delora Remembers Frankenhooker
- Original Theatrical Trailer (1:32) 16:9

- Jennifer Delora's Frankenhooker Scrapbook
- Reversible/Alternate Cover Artwork

Verdict: FRANKENHOOKER is a wonderfully absurd cult-comedy and a funny take on Mary Shelly's Frankenstein that reeks of the 80's with it's irreverent humor and neon-glow. Watching this I was transported back to late-night viewings of films like THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS, DOCTOR DETROIT and WEIRD SCIENCE. Just a fun time all around and the best cinematic cure for a shitty day I've seen in quite sometime. If you love camp, sleaze and naked ladies have I got the film for you...


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BLU-RAY BATTLE! Maniac Cop vs. Maniac Cop

BLU-RAY BATTLE is my attempt to guide genre film fans towards the most complete and proper presentations of our favorite films through comparison of special features and specs. I'll make my decision known and why but take a look at what each release offers and make your own decision based on what's important to you as a buyer. Some go for the commentaries and 5.1, others may take a shine to interviews and artwork. I'm just thankful for region-FREE Blu-rays and the fact that there are niche labels the world around competing for our hard earned dollars because choice is a very good thing.

The third installment of the BLU-RAY BATTLE series once again pits US genre film distributor SYNAPSE FILMS against their venerable UK counterpart ARROW VIDEO. In question are their region FREE Blu-ray editions of William Lustig's MANIAC COP starring Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Robert Z'Dar and Lauren Landon. Let's break 'em down...


DIRECTOR: William Lustig
CAST: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Robert Z'Dar, Lauren Landon, Richard Roundtree, Wiliam Smith
TAGLINE: You Have The Right To Remain Silent... Forever.

SYNOPSIS: In William Lustig's MANIAC COP a seven-foot tall disgraced cop named Cordell (Robert Z-Dar, TANGO AND CASH) has seemingly returned from the grave and is stalking the streets of New York City slaying not criminals but innocent folks which sets off a wave of panic and paranoia as everyday citizen's grow to fear the very men sworn to protect them.
MANIAC COP [Synapse Films]

DURATION: 85 mins
VIDEO: MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 16x9 Widescreen (1.85:1)
AUDIO: English: 6.1 DTS-HD MA, 4.0 DTS-HD MA, 2.0 DTS-HD MA

- Maniac Cop Memories - Interview with Robert Z'Dar (12:12) 16x9 HD
- Out the Window - Interview with Tom Atkins (10:56) 16x9 HD
- Three Minutes with Danny Hicks Featurette (3:32) 16x9 HD
- Motion Still Gallery (3:07) HD
- French Theatrical Trailer (1:23) 16x9
- TV Spots (3:55) 4x3
- Additional Scenes Filmed for Japanese Television (5:43) 4x3
- Spanish Radio Spot (:31)
MANIAC COP [Arrow Video]

RELEASE DATE: October 31st 2011
RATING: 18 Certificate
DURATION: 85 mins
VIDEO: MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 16x9 Widescreen (1.85:1)
AUDIO: English DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo

- Exclusive UK introduction to the film from star Tom Atkins
- Doomed Detective: Tom Atkins on Maniac Cop
- Lady of the Night: Laurene Landon remembers Maniac Cop
- Scripting a new Slasher Super-Villain: Larry Cohen on Matt Cordell
- Trailer

- Reversible sleeve with original and new artwork by Rick Melton
- Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
- Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by author Troy Howarth and The Original Maniac: An interview with William Lustig, adapted from Calum Waddell's book Taboo Breakers

SYNAPSE FILMS: Synapse's disc offers the film in 16:9 widescreen 1080p with DTS-HD MA 2.0, 4.0 and 5.1. Interviews with actor Robert Z'Dar, Tom Atkins and Danny Hicks, plus trailers, TV spots and additional scenes filmed for Japanese TV.

ARROW VIDEO: Arrow's presentation likewise is 16:9 widescreen 1080p and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix without the benefit of a surround sound option. The disc also features and introduction and interview with Tom Atkins, Lauren Landon and Larry Cohen, a trailer, collector's booklet, poster and reversible artwork.

VERDICT: With Synapse's BD lacking the group commentary from their DVD release I have to say this is a pretty even match, both featuring interviews with actor Tom Atkins (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS). Arrow's has no Robert Z'Dar interview but does get writer Larry Cohen to comment on the film. So who's the winner here? Well you are, two competing high definition, region-free BD's of MANIAC COP is a win-win in my opinion, but the decision goes to Arrow Video who while lacking a 5.1 surround option come through with collectible packaging with reversible artwork plus a booklet featuring a William Lustig interview. If the Synapse commentary had been included I think I would have leaned the other way but as it is I'm swinging once again toward the UK title, largely because I'm a sucker for packaging and reversible artwork and Arrow are masters of ephemeral. The 5.1 surround really makes a strong argument for the Synapse disc and if they'd been able to port over the commentary I surely would have swung the other way but as it is they're so evenly matched in regard to features Arrow won me over with the packaging. Keep in mind I have not seen the Arrow transfer of the film and my decision is based on specs and special features and not picture qaulity. I received a screener of the Synapse Blu-ray of MANIAC COP and reviewed it HERE and the transfer is pretty spectacular.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



LABEL: Vicious Circle Films
RATING: Unrated
DURATION: 93mins
AUDIO: English Dolby Digital Stereo
VIDEO: 16:9 Anamorphic (1.78:1)
CAST: Peterr Stickles, Michele Tomlinson, Lynn Lowry, Carlos Larkin, Shannon Hadson, Eric Dean

J.T. Seaton's debut feature film GEORGE: A ZOMBIE INTERVENTION is a quirky indie zombie comedy the likes of which I haven't quite seen before. The films sets up straight away that zombies are a fact of life, not all zombies are flesh-eating lunatics and some can actually be productive members of society. This conceit is set up through a fun and ingenious PSA styled advert at the top of the film.

We then meet the focus of the film, a zombie named George (Carlos Larkin) who's definitely not what you would call a productive member of society, dead or alive, he's a bit of a slacker zombie who lounges around his home in a bathrobe and a tie-dye t-shirt watching TV and occasionally gnawing on a human from time to time. It's this appetite for human flesh that has his best friend Ben (Pete Stickles, SHORTBUS), sister Frannie (Shannon Hodson), ex-girlfriend Sarah (Michelle Tomlinson, BRAIN DEAD) and her douche bag boyfriend Steve (Eric Dean, OFFICE OF THE DEAD) concerned. Fearing that George may be turning to the dark side of zombiedom they stage an intervention at his home with the charmingly inept interventionist Barbra (Lynn Lowry, THE CRAZIES) presiding over the event.

While George attempts to evade his well meaning friends and family his hunger for flesh human grows and when the group take a time out from the intervention people start turning up dead around the house including a couple of Mormon missionaries, some ditzy strippers and a door to door salesman who ends up a prisoner in the basement where the bodies keep piling up. The thing about a only half eaten corpse is that it tends to become a zombies themselves which proves problematic to the proceedings.

I gotta say I really enjoyed this flick, it's smartly written and capably acted. Carlos Larkin as the slacker zombie George is a ton of fun, such a likable guy even when he's sinking his teeth into a nice slab of stripper breast looking like Sylvester with a mouth full of Tweety when he's caught. It was a treat glimpsing Lynn Lowry of SHIVER, THE CRAZIES and SCORE as the interventionist and Troma impresario Lloyd Kaufman appears in one of his patented cameos. The group dynamic totally works, the dialogue really is quite funny while there are horror elements this is a straight up situational zom-com with loads of deadpan humor.

DVD: The screener from Vicious Circle Films presents the film in 16:9 widescreen (1.78:1) with English language Dolby Digital stereo, with no subtitles. It's a bare bones disc and did not include any of the special features which include director's commentary, featurette, alternate takes, deleted scenes and a short film.

- Deleted/Alternate Scenes
- Cast and Crew Commentary
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Zombie Rehab Center - Group Therapy
- Lloyd Kaufman Alternate Takes and Bloopers
- "Sunday on the Street with George" - Short Film

VERDICT: First time feature length director J.T. Seaton has crafted a fun, quirky zom-com that manages not to quirk itself right into the realm of annoying which is a rare feat. Zombie purist may scoff at this irreverent take on the tired zombie genre but if you enjoyed FIDO, AAAH! ZOMBIES or SHAUN OF THE DEAD this should prove entertaining, it's not rewriting the zom-com but it's a fun entry in the sub-genre. 3.5/5

DVD Review: iCrime (2011)

iCrime (2011)
LABEL: Vicious Circle Films
RATING: Unrated
DURATION: 103 mins
AUDIO: English Dolby Digital Stereo
VIDEO: 16:9 Anamorphic (1.78:1)
DIRECTOR: Bears Fonté

CAST: Sarah Fletcher, Travis Brorsen, Leah McKendrick, Christie Burson
TAGLINE: The Truuth and Cyberspace Collide

Small town Midwestern girl Carrie Kevin (Sara Fletcher) moves to L.A. to watch over her super model cousin Stefy Sinclaire (Kelly Noonan) after learning that tabloid journalist Evelyn Echo (Katherine Randolph) is about to go public with a sex tape of her cousin which could damage her rising star. Carrie makes a deal to provide the tabloid journalist with an even bigger story, to prove that annoying internet vlogger sensation Jordan Rivers (Leah McKendrick) apparent kidnapping from her bedroom during a video broadcast is merely a hoax perpetrated for notoriety. After a chance encounter with wanna-be actor and part-time grocery cart return boy Zeffer (Travis Brorsen) the two set out to solve the mystery Scooby-Doo style.

The film starts off pretty dark with a seedy hotel encounter but then as it rolls on it becomes a darker version of Nickelodeon's tween TV sensation iCarly with annoying tween-appealing vlogging, blogging and texting superimposed on the screen, it's very Nickelodeon cum Mtv. Perhaps it's hypocritical that I find it so annoying since I am a blogger after all but I found it just annoying, on the other hand my tweens walked into the film midway and we're enraptured with it leading me to believe this could be a hit with a younger, and arguably more annoying demographic.

Anyway, as Carrie delves deeper into the seedy underbelly of LA celebrity she herself becomes something of an internet sensation. The dark, twisty ending is a good bit of fun though perhaps a bit too clever for it's own good. At 103 minutes the film could have used a judicious round of editing, there must be a good 15 minutes of Carrie looking moody and dragging on a cigarette, the film definitely needed some tightening up.
Fletcher and Brorsen offer some solid performances, the rest of the cast is a mixed bag but overall this is a pretty typical indie film in that respect. Obviously a film shot on the cheap with limited resources the film visually plays to it's strengths and is rooted in reality. Stylistically the film is a mixed bag for me. While at times quite attractive the gimmicky picture-in-picture vlogging and text superimposition grinded my nerves. Too many characters are introduced, many of which are extraneous to say the least, and the film lacks focus to it's own detriment because somewhere in here there's a pretty lean 88 minute thriller.
DVD: The DVD screener from Vicious Circle Films presents iCrime in 16:9 widescreen (1.78:1) with English language Dolby Digital stereo, with no subtitles. It's a bare bones disc and did not include any of the special features which include director's commentary and deleted scenes. As the burned screener is of lesser quality I would assume the final DVD to be much better in regard to picture quality and as such I'll refrain from critiquing the transfer of the film which certainly lacked in many respects.

VERDICT: Surely iCrime will appeal to a younger market, in my not-so-early 30's I found it annoying despite the fact that I'm on twitter, tumblr, facebook and blogging about a quarter of my waking day, so maybe it just hit too close to the bone for comfort - am I really that annoying? iCrime is the feature film debut from writer/director Bears Fonté, it really aims to be a sexy digital thriller and is only somewhat successful, in actuality it's more of a dark iCarly episode. Certainly not a terrible film but definitely lacking substance and it's a one and done for me. 2/5

Sunday, October 16, 2011


RATING: Unrated
DURATION: 78mins
AUDIO: Dolby Digital
VIDEO: 16:9 Widescreen
DIRECTOR:William Butler
CAST: Jackie Beat, Paris Wagner, Steven-Michael McLure, Kimberly Pfeffer, Justin Schwan
TAGLINE: The Ultimate Roller Boogieman

The foul-mouthed, fun-sized confectionery killer Millard Findelmeyer aka the Gingerdead Man (William Butler, GHOULIES II) returns in this retro-70's slasher sequel. The film opens with a sweet send-up of Jonathan Demme's thriller THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS as FBI Agent Clarissa Darling (Laura Kachergus, KING OF CALIFORNIA) pays visit to the ugly cookie killer who's imprisoned at the Research Institute of Homicidal Baked Goods alongside other deadly pastry terrors, Hannibal Lecter style. During the interview he escapes when a group of PETA-esque pastry sympathizers raid the facility and the mini-murderer escapes after stumbling upon a time machine set for the year 1976. Not sure why there's a group of scientist working on a time machine in a high security prison but back in the 70's the Gingerdead Man finds himself at that most 70's of places, a roller rink, smack dab in the middle of a roller-boogie contest. Unable to escape the 70's he lays into the roller disco kings and queens as only the Gingerdead Man can.

The film has a fun cast of characters that include the introverted Cherry (Paris Wagner) the niece of the roller rink owner, Trixie (Kent Fuher, GRIEF) and the two have a total Stephen King's CARRIE mother-daughter style relationship complete with latent telekinetic powers and her aunt's over-protective instincts. It really boils down to the film being a roller-disco retelling of CARRIE with the Gingerbread Man thrown into the mix. Also rounding out the cast are roller rink employee Randy (Steven-Michael-McLure) who has the hots for Cherry, the bitchy roller queen Tammy (Kimberly Pfeffer, SUPER SHARK) and a nutty, drug addled DJ. On top of the SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and CARRIE homages there's a fun PORKY'S through line courtesy of the roly-poly Ingrid (Muffy Bolding, MADHOUSE) which is a riff on Beulah Balbricker with the iconic white shorts, sweatshirt and sweater tied around the neck which leads to a disturbing homage of the bathroom shower scene from PORKY's complete with the Gingerdead's Man's pretzel stick making an appearance.

It was beyond my expectations that this film would prove to be so damned entertaining, the entire concept just seems so stupid, right? Well, it definitely is stupid but it won me over with the fun retro-70's vibe, it was a masterstroke confining it to the roller rink which is a both fun and cost effective, a totally groovy set with garish 70's colors, flamboyant bell bottom styles, strobing disco balls, rampant drug use, disco tunes and a ton of great roller skating, the extras in the film are memorable and pretty awesome skaters, a skill I myself have never mastered.

The comedy is a constant element with the Gingerdead Man offering non-stop comic musings, awful puns and schlocky one-liners, a few were major duds but overall they were pretty lame in the best possible way, know what I mean? Not having seen either of the previous  GINGERDEAD MAN entries I can't say that effects were better or worse but most are of the CGI variety and pretty terrible but I think they actually work in the context of this silly, low-budget slasher film. Gingerdead Man doe snot have the most articulated creature effect I've ever seen but again within the context of a Full Moon feature it's not too shabby either.

The film has a nice variety of kills, too and while I'm not really a fan of CGI I did find myself enjoying 'em. We've got three voluptuous ladies in bikinis at a car wash who unwittingly spray themselves with hydrochloric acid, a tripped out threesome interrupted by a nail gun massacre, the DJ snorting a line of Drano, the brutal severing of one unluckly fuck's Achilles heel and cleavers through the head. It bloody stuff with some practical effects work thrown in but mostly it's low-rent CGI which takes a few points off for sure but is enjoyable nonetheless.

The film culminates in a fun series of events that include lots of death, poorly animated electrocution, a fizzle of telekinesis, way too many bad puns and the assistance of two time-travelling pre-teens, plus Jeffery Dahmer, Lizzy Borden, Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler whom help cram the Gingerdead Man back in his cookie jar, it feels straight outta BILL AND TED, yet another fun parody.

VERDICT: You kinda know what you're in for with a film called THE GINGERDEAD MAN 3 - SATURDAY NIGHT CLEAVER especially coming from Full Moon Entertainment, and that's not a bad thing. It's schlocky b-movie fun, and this one mostly struck all the right chords with me. Fun stuff that goes perfect with a few cold beers, nachos and a couch full of friends. I'm definitely tempted to go back and watch the first two entries in the series. The film is available from Full Moon Entertainment and Echo Bridge Entertainment as a stand alone disc or as part of a boxset collecting all three films. 3/5

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blu-ray Review: HALLOWEEN H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)

LABEL: Echo Bridge Entertainment
DURATION: 85 mins
VIDEO: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
AUDIO: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
DIRECTOR: Steve Miner
CAST: Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adam Hann-Byrd
TAGLINE: True Terror Never Dies!

A few years before one-time scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis (HALLOWEEN, ROAD TRIP) started slinging adverts for Activia Yogurt - the cultured bacteria food stuff that makes you shit right - she returned to the HALLOWEEN franchise for it's twentieth anniversary. Why? I dunno. Maybe with passing of Donald Pleasance the series needed someone to carry the torch and not wanting to continue on with the Cult of Thorn - Tommy Dolyle storyline from HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYER'S the producers instead chose to ignore the continuity of every sequel after John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN and make this direct sequel to the first.

I'll let the cat outta the bag early and say I really dislike this film, but before I let into why let me just say that it has a pretty great opener that falsely raised my hopes. Dr. Loomis's one-time colleague Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens, HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN II), the nurse from the original HALLOWEEN, returns home to find that someone has broken into her home through the front door. Alarmed she runs next door to the neighbors home where wise-ass teen Jimmy (Joseph Gordon-Levit, INCEPTION) answers the door wearing a hockey mask which startles her. It the first of maybe 150 jump scares in the film among perhaps as many references to other better fright flicks, there's a lot of 'em. Jimmy volunteers to check out the house against Marion's wishes and enters with hockey stick in hand boasting in the third person "Jimmy's been suspended five times this year already for gettin' a little crazy with the stick." He searches the home but doesn't find anyone inside but he does fuck up the kitchen with his hockey stick when he gets spooked while swiping some beers, which he blames on the intruder. With the authorities on their way Marion enters the home to inspect the damage. It's here that we gather she was a caregiver for the ailing Loomis until his natural death, one of the rooms is plastered with clippings about the Haddonfield murders  20 years earlier. In her office she finds that files pertaining to Laurie Strode are missing, Laurie being Myers' sister who survived the attack years earlier. When Marion realizes that someone is in the house with her she makes a panicked run for Jimmy's house and lets herself in when there is no answer only to find the teen in a sofa chair with is hockey skate impaled into his face, his friend is also dead and as Marion sees the police arrive next door she rushes to the window to scream for help but Myers slashes her throat. Seconds later the responding officers notice the neighbors broken window and enter the house as Myers pulls out of the drive way in a car in pursuit of Laurie.

Two days later we're in Northern California, and it's Halloween. We learn that Laurie Strode faked her death some years earlier and is now known as Keri Tate, the head mistress of the Hillcrest Academy High School, and mother of teen John (Josh Hartnett, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES). The events from twenty year prior still haunt her and she's troubled by disturbing dreams. Even after all these years she's convinced that Michael still lives and will one day return to finish what he started, sure enough tonight's the night.

Laurie tries to put her fears aside and plans to spend the weekend with boyfriend Will (Adam Arkin, UNDER THE RAINBOW) while the student body leave on a field trip to Yosemite but Laurie's son John and his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams, SPECIES) along with his best friend Charlie (Adam Hann-Byrd, THE ICE STORM) and his love interest Sarah (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, THE CROW: SALVATION) play hooky, skipping out on the trip and holing up in a dormitory on campus to celebrate Halloween with a little drinking and partying. Also on campus is the poetry spouting school security guard Ronnie (LL Cool J, DEEP BLUE SEA).

With the campus pretty much empty Michael Myers arrives on scene having sleuthed Laurie's current whereabouts. Inside Laurie and Will are drinking wine and preparing for some frisky business when she reveals her dark past to him while at the same time the teens get to partying but as ever Michael shows up and the killings begins anew.

The story is economical, it's simplicity in itself and the basic storyline ain't half bad if you don't mind them ignoring HALLOWEEN 2-6 - which I kinda do. That aside this feels less like a HALLOWEEN film than any that have come before it. There's zero atmosphere, the night scenes are overlit, most of the deaths are weak or happen just offscreen. Jamie Lee Curtis, the iconic scream queen from John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, offers a decent performance but is not likable as the haunted survivor of her brother's killing spree, and bares little resemblance to the teen version of herself. However, when it's time for Strode to face-off against Michael she's doesn't so much channel her inner scream queen as she does a variation on Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in ALIEN, she's quite the ass kicker.

Josh Hartnett as Strode's son John is pretty wooden (when isn't he?) and I think his best roles (VIRGIN SUICIDES being my favorite) are tailor made to compliment his stiff acting style but as a brooding teen he's just annoying. I rather enjoyed LL Cool J as Ronnie the security guard, it's a bit part with a thankless death but I dig LL in small roles like we see here and in DEEP BLUE SEA. The standout performance of the film comes from a young Joseph Gordon-Levit in a brief but enjoyable bit part, if the film could have maintained the spirit of the pre-credit sequence we could have had something special but the film's post-SCREAM 90's sensibilities and Steve Miner's flat direction really go nowhere.

DVD: Echo Bridge's Blu-ray of H20 presents the film in re-framed 16:9 widescreen (1.78:1) which is quite a departure from it's original "scope" (2.35:1) presentation. Honestly, Steve Miner and cinematographer Daryn Okada don't make great use of the scope aspect ratio here but I'm a stickler for presenting film on DVD/BD in their OAR and I think it's disappointing that EB have opted to go the 1.78:1 route. Aside from the re-frame there's black crush, colors seems muted and the the1080p boost in resolution only marginally improves fine detail and texture. The 1080i transfer of THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS is noticeably superior on pretty much every level to what we have here.

The DTS-HA MA 2.0 Stereo  audio is a downgrade from the previous Dimension Collector's Series DVD from a few years back that sported a not only a 16:9 (2.35:1) transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound but subtitles and a small selection of extras, none of which we have here. While the DTS-HD MA 2.0 is adequate it is little else. Dialogue, effects and score come through clean and strong but it's not very dynamic and there's minimal use of the stereo directionals, it seemed very center heavy.

There's no special features, no subtitles, not even a trailer which I consider to be the bare essential, at least give us a trailer, c'mon now. The Dimension Collector's Series was pretty slim on features but at least offered an 18 minute featurette, lame trivia game and a Creed music video. Actually, I'm kind of thankful that we don't get the Creed video but not porting over something from the DVD release is quite disappointing. The transfer being what it is (re-framed) and the audio not much better (DTS-HD Stereo) at least throw us a bone with some features. EB's DEAD MAN BD is the only title I've reviewed thus far that ports features from the previous DVD incarnation.

VERDICT: As a continuation of the HALLOWEEN franchise I find H20 to be an utter and complete failure of a film. It has no personality, a complete lack of atmosphere and is definitely a product of the post-SCREAM 90's with an irritating script and a sterile, super-polished look about it. The kills are mostly lame, many of which happen just off screen and the jump scares are completely out of hand. I know this film has a devout following, which puzzles me,  but I can't recommend it as a first-time watch or even as an HD upgrade for fans when there are just so many better films worth your time and money, including HALLOWEEN 1-6. The 90's slasher resurgence is much maligned and not without reason, and H20 is prime example of why.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


LABEL: Echo Bridge Entertainment
DURATION: 88 mins
VIDEO: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
AUDIO: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
DIRECTOR: Joe Chappelle
CAST: Paul Stephen Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Mitch Ryan, Donald Pleasance
TAGLINE: True Terror Never Dies!

HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS picks-up six years after THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS in which Michael was abducted from the Haddonefield Police Dept. by the mysterious Man in Black who also kidnapped Jamie Lloyd, too. Now 15 years old Jamie (JC Brandy, KINDRED: THE EMBRACED) is held against her will by the Cult of Thorn and forcibly impregnated via in-vitiro fertilization with no less that Uncle Mike's DNA... yep, you read that right, incest. The baby is born on Halloween night ('natch) and it's not long before Michael come looking to kill his progeny as he's been known to do. Jamie and the baby escape the cult's labyrinthine compound with the help of a sympathetic nurse who dies very shortly after at the hands of Meyers who emerges from the shadow, picks her up and rams her skull against a sharp implement protruding from the wall. With Michael not too far behind Jamie steals a pick-up whose owner attempts to drunkenly stop her until Myers twists his head 360 degree. Jaime stops off at a bus depot to alert the authorities from a payphone but when she can't get through she instead call radio shock-jock DJ Barry Simms (Leo Geter, NEAR DARK) whom hosts a
Michael Myers conspiracy show. Jamie gets on air and pleads for help from Dr. Loomis, and who just happens to be listening? None other than a very frail Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance, RAW MEAT) and Tommy Dolye (Paul Rudd, KNOCKED UP) who was the boy Laurie Strode babysat in the first film and is now an awkward young man completely obsessed with Myers after his traumatic childhood experience. Stowing her newborn in a bathroom stall Jamie narrowly avoids Michael but is later run off the road by Myers who catches up with her inside an old barn where he impales her through the guts on a corn-thresher. Jamie's a goner but the baby remains safe, for now. 

The next day Tommy is able to play back a recording of Jamie's frantic phone call tot he DJ and traces her whereabouts to the bus depot where he discovers the infant which he takes to the hospital where he encounters Dr. Loomis and the two strike-up a friendship while trading Myers theories. Tommy tells Loomis that he lives across from the Myers house which is currently inhabited by relatives of the Strodes.

The Strode family living in the Myers home are Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan, STAKE LAND), her young son Danny (Devin Gardner), teenage brother Tim (Keith Bogart) mother Debra (Kim Darby, BETTER OF DEAD) and a real shit-turd of a father John (Bradford English, WOLF). Playing into the Cult of Thorn mythology is young Danny who is having visions of the Man in Black telling him to "Kill". Eventually Kara, Danny, Tommy and Loomis' paths converge and Tommy tells her that Danny has been selected to inherit some nutty Druid curse and that the Cult of Thorn hopes to sacrifice Danny. This sets up Myers motivations for killing his family and culminates in a bizarre showdown at an asylum wherein Michael is injected with syringes of nitric acid. The film really takes a left turns towards the end teetering on the edge of becoming a mad-scientist flick but is not without it's merits and I actually enjoyed it.

As the film plays out the Strode's are predictably killed off by Myers, as are some peripheral characters, the Cult of Thorn is revealed to be a teak of Druid-esque geneticist out to distill Michael's ancient evil down to it's purest form. Yeah, it's hard swallow for sure but I gotta give it to screenwriter Daniel Ferrands (THE GIRL NEXT DOOR) for making a strong effort to inject the franchise with some new life and he did so without launching Myers into space. It doesn't quite work 100% and it's overwrought and convoluted but I'm gonna tell you I like this film a bunch despite it's faults.

First, right from the get-go we have two of my favorite elements; buckets of rain and a pretty great Midwestern Halloween feel, there's some great set dressing throughout and the entire film is evocative of the season, jack-o-lanterns, kids in costumes, corn husks - the setting just feels appropriate, there's some great atmosphere throughout. Myer's mask is one of the better variations since the original film, too. It's had it's up and downs over the years but this one's a keeper for sure. Director Joe Chappelle (PHANTOMS, TV'S FRINGE) keeps things on track, cult elements aside this is a slasher film through and through with some great kills right from the start.

Like I say it's not a perfect film, first the Cult of Thorn stuff is a hard swallow but I didn't hate it, it was something different and I only mention it because some of you might balk at the notion. On that note the one singular thing that irked was after killing Jamie Michael burns the image of the Thorn rune into a stack of hay, that's just fucking ridiculous. Paul Rudd had just come of CLUELESS when he took on the film and doesn't seem to have any dramatic acting chops, there's a lot of overacting, he's just not the right guy for the role, but compared to Davin Gardner who played Danny he's Oscar worthy. The kid just cannot act for a shit and is easily the worst feature of the film.

This was the last film to feature Donald Pleasance in the role of Dr. Loomis and he gives it a solid go but is obviously in a very poor state of health and actually died shortly after the film wrapped. I loved his playful introduction at the top of the film and I think his exit is fitting if not great.

 DVD: The film arrives on Blu-ray from Echo Bridge Entertainment in 1080i HD in a re-framed anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer from a pretty great print. Colors are saturated, black levels are deep, flesh tones look accurate and there''s plenty of fine detail in facial features and textures, definitely an improvement over previous non-anamorphic DVD editions. Audio wise we have a lossless DTS-HA MA 2,.0 Stereo track that delivers effects, score and dialogue quite well but is pretty standard. Alan Howarth's score sounds great but nothing can make Southern rock band Brother Cane sound any good at all.

An immersive 5.1 surround track would have been appreciated but from what I've seen many of Echo Bridge's blu's feature re-framed aspect ratios and down-mixed audio. I would love to know if these are the elements they're being provided from the Miramax vaults. Ideally we're seeing films presented in OAR with the best audio presentation and it's unfortunate that EB continue to dump skewed presentations on us. Honestly, the re-framed film didn't catch my notice during the viewing but on principal I think we need to see director's visions adhered to, a recent abomination of a re-frame job can be seen with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro's unfortunate re-framing of Arrow Video's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE which I think was an intrusive blaspheme perpetrated upon the film, this is less an abomination but still unfortunate.  

There are no special features presented which isn't surprising when you consider the Dimension DVD from years back offered none either and EB like Mill Creek Entertainment don't seem to be in the market for creating and/or licensing supplemental material. Two other versions of the film exist but have not been officially released, though they remain available through less than legal means. I do not understand why we haven't seen either come forth with a legitimate release, you cannot tell me there's no market for these films. I've read elsewhere that Disney owns the rights to the producer's cut of the film and surely they're not wanting for cash so I would assume it's a rights issue. Not an optional presentation but a step-up from the Dimension DVD and at a budget price. 

VERDICT: HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS is an enjoyable entry in the series with some great atmosphere,  decent kills and an interesting if overwrought cult-curse element that, perhaps wisely, was never to be referenced again in the series. Then again, if you've seen the final two entries in the original run of films it may have been preferable. Definitely a film I will rewatch again and enjoy. It's not John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978) but then again, what is?