Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DVD Review: OFFICE KILLER (1997)


Region: 1 NTSC
Rating: R
Duration: 83 Mins
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (No Subtitles) 
Video: 16:9 Widescreen
Director:  Cindy Sherman
Cast: Carol Kane, Molly Ringwald, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Tagline: Working Here Can Be Murder

Synopsis: Dorine (Kane) is a quiet and diligent social outcast who has endured years of abuse as the office doormat. When the magazine she works for takes a dive, Dorine hangs on through the downsizing and drastic changes. But one night, the mild-mannered paper-pusher accidentally electrocutes an obnoxious co-worker, and in the process, completely short-circuits her sanity. From that moment on, Dorine believes that anyone can be her best friend…once they're dead.

This was a film I caught on IFC some years ago no doubt drawn in by the appearance of my one true 80's crush - Molly Ringwald - whom one could quite easily argue I spanked it too on way too many occasions in my adolescence - total crush - it's embarrassing.

In the indie slasher Office Killer (1997) we're introduced to the staff at the Constant Consumer magazine. A small time publisher suffering through a period of budget cuts and restructuring - you know - corporate downsizing. This was 1997 so these poor bastards aren't even aware of just how bad things would become for print media in the very near future. Dorine (Carol Kane, When a Stranger Calls) is a mousy proof reader on staff who gets demoted to working part-time from home at the start of the film. She's a tightly wound bundle of nerves, one of those wallflowers that's a bit too quiet. She lives at home with her invalid mother Carlotta (Alice Drummond, the librarian from Ghostbusters!) and her cats. I first suspected  there might be more to her than just being awkward during an early scene when a cats brings to her a dead mouse and she throws it down the garage disposal, that's just disgusting, normal folks just don't do that.

Also on staff at the magazine are ax-woman Norah (Jeanne Tripplehorn, TV's Big Love), the bitchy Kim (Molly Ringwald, Breakfast Club), the chain-smoking asthmatic Virginia (Barbara Sukowa, M Butterfly), tech-guy Daniel (Michael Imperioli, TV's The Sopranos) and douche-nozzle staff writer Garry (David Thornton, TV's Law and Order).

Just after getting the news she's been demoted Dorine finds herself working late in the office when the womanizing douchebag Gary calls her into the office to fix his computer but he is accidentally electrocuted when Dorine resets the tripped circuit breakers while he's messing with some wiring. At first Dorine attempts to do the right thing by calling 911 but instead chooses to take him home where she props him up on a couch in the basement. This accidental death spurs Dorine to set off on a bloody office murder spree taking out her co-workers one at a time all the while sending emails from her new laptop at home that would seem to indicate odd but somewhat logical reasons why the staff are dissappearing. Amidst these killings we're treated to flashbacks from Dorine's childhood and a strange relationship with her father (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio) which give us insight into her quirks and murderous impulses.

As the body count climbs Dorine's basement quickly nears capacity with cadavers, the spree is not limited to co-workers either and the bodycount includes two young  girlscouts whom show up on her doorstep one day selling cookies. Dorine spends her time amidst the decomposing bodies talking to her new found friends while her cats eat at them, she tends ttheir feline woulds with packing tape and Windex. The only one to suspect Dorine is a psychotic killer is the pushy Kim (Ringwald) but her warnings fall on deaf ears and to the detriment of the non-believers. 

The film has a decent body count but it is most certainly not a blood bath in anyway, it's pretty tame in the gore department. What we do get an electrocution, poisoning, a throat slashed with a cuisinart blade, attempted stranglation, a tire iron to the skull, stabbings and several offscreen deaths of undetermined nature.

Verdict: This film is an odd, quirky late-90's indie slasher that's pretty entertaining. 1997 was not a great year for memorable horror films - we had Uncle SamMimic, Event Horizon and an obscure little film Bleeders - that's really about it and I would be quite pleased to hear this film mentioned a bit more when 90's horror is talked about. Sure, it's not gonna make anyone's top 10 list but it is an entertaining office slasher that deserves a space on your shelf somewhere between Office Space and Corporate Cutthroat Massacre, fun stuff. 2.5 Outta 5 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

HALLOWEEN 4 and HALLOWEEN 5 on Blu-ray August 28th from Anchor Bay

On August 21st Anchor Bay Entertainment revamps two of the most iconic horror films to ever grace the big screen with Halloween 4 (1988) and Halloween 5 (1989).  The films are coming to Blu-ray with all brand-new hi-def transfers and over an hour of both archival and newly created bonus features! This is great news for slasher fans whom can also look forward to Collector Edition Blu-rays of Halloween 2 (1981) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) on September 18th from Scream Factory. The Anchor Bay discs are loaded with some very cool newly created bonus content including new audio commentaries and deleted scenes.

HALLOWEEN 4 (1988)  Blu-ray 

Label: Anchor BayEntertainment
Release Date: August 21st, 2012
Rating: R
Duration: 88 Mins
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 with English, Spanish Subtitles 
Director: Dwight H. Little 

He had maimed 16 people to get to his sister.  He was shot and incinerated, but still the entity that Dr. Sam Loomis (the legendary Donald Pleasence) calls “Evil on two legs” would not die. Tonight, Michael Myers has come home again…to kill! This time, Michael returns to Haddonfield for Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris, Halloween 5, The Last Boy Scout) – the orphaned daughter of Laurie Strode – and her babysitter Rachel (Ellie Cornell, Halloween 5, House of the Dead). Can Loomis stop Michael before the unholy slaughter reaches his innocent young niece?

Bonus Features: 
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes (30 minutes of NEW scenes!)
- Audio Commentary with Director Dwight H. Little and Author Justin Beahm(NEW)
- Audio Commentary with Actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris
- Halloween 4/5 Discussion Panel
- Theatrical Trailer

HALLOWEEN 5 (1989) Blu-ray 

Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Rating: R
Duration: 98 Mins
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 with English, Spanish Subtitles
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard

Michael Myers survived the mine explosion thought to have killed him. One year later, his traumatized young niece Jamie is horrified to discover she has a telepathic bond with her evil Uncle…and that Uncle Michael is on his way back to Haddonfield. But Dr. Loomis has a new plan to destroy The Boogey Man in his childhood home using Jamie as bait.  With enhanced gore and effects, vengeance has never looked so gruesome!

Bonus Features: 
- Audio Commentary with Director Dominique Othenin-Girard and actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman
- Audio Commentary with Actor Don Shanks and Author Justin Beahm (NEW)
- Halloween 5: Orginal Promo (NEW
- Halloween 5: On the Set Footage (NEW - 17 mins. of raw footage)
- Theatrical Trailer

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Original Director's Cut DVD 
Label: Mondo Macabro
Region: ALL NTSC 

Duration: 78 min.

Rating: Unrated
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono French with English Subtitles
Video: Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Alice Arno, Howard Vernon Kali Hansa, Lina Romay, Tania Busselier, Robert Woods 

Synopsis: In the Countess Perverse aka La Comtesse Perverse (1973) a pair of decadent and debauched aristocrats turns their private island into a human hunting ground where they can stalk their naked prey. As each victim is murdered, their carcass is then cooked and fed to their guests; simply delicious! What the unsuspecting visitors don't realize is that they will soon become the next evening’s “meal, “ eventually fighting for their lives in a shocking and flesh-baring cat-and-mouse game.

The ever-prolific Jesus Franco is a true master of Euro-sleaze cinema with a stunning filmography that's 200+ strong. Franco is someone whom I honestly cannot say I've seen a ton from but of what I have seen it's been a love it or loathe it experience. A title that I am particularly fond of is the erotic-revenger  She Killed in Ecstasy (1971) starring the stunning 70's sexpot Soledad Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos) which I just cannot recommend enough for Euro-cult enthusiasts. It's problematic for me that it was my first entry into the Cult of Franco because I  think it set the bar rather high for a director who's rather hit and/or miss for me. 

This erotic take on the pre-code classic The Most Dangerous Game (1933) begins with a couple discovering a naked and unconscious woman on the beach. They take her back to their home where the gorgeous red-haired beauty named Kali (The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff) spins a delirious tale of  traveling to the island of Count (Howard Vernon, Seven Women for Satan) and Countess Zaroff (Alice Arno, Justine De Sade) in search of her missing twin sister. We get a an odd flashback as she is transported to the eerie island on top of which sits a fantastic home, it's a bizarre construct. It seemed so familiar to me and then it dawned on me that I had previously seen it in Franco's She Killed in Ecstasy. Unfortunately the couple whom found her washed-up  on the beach, Bob (Robert Woods, Lady Lucifera) and his wife Moira (Tania Busselier, Ilsa the Wicked Warden), are in league with the Zaroff's and procure young beauties for their diabolical games.

Bob and Moira are a swinging couple whom befriend young ladies, seduce them and  take them to the island of the bizarre Count and Countess Zaroff whom treat their guests to a succulent meal then tag-team rape them and then stalk their naked prey before eating them and serving them to the next guests. It's a delirious and fever-pitched slice of cinema that doesn't always make sense but never fear because Franco is a master of his craft and before your brain can properly launch a protest your mind and libido are assaulted by a feast of nubile flesh. Franco may have his shortcomings as a filmmaker but his eye for exotic locations and stunning naked women are never in doubt.  The true find for me here was the super-hot Silvia (Lina Romay, Female Vampire) as a Spanish tourist whom befriends Bob and Moira and ends up in their bed and inevitably on the island where she is seduced by the Countess only to later discover the duo in the process of beheading poor Kali. Silvia faints at the sight and awakens to find she has become prey for Countess Zaroff in the film's finale. The site of a nude Alice Arno stalking Lina Romay over the island with a bow and a quiver full of arrows is quite a sight and not one you'll soon want to forget but the final scene  featuring Robert Woods decked out in a rhinestone studded denim jacket and bell bottomed jeans wading into the ocean carrying the lifeless body of his beloved is a bit too dramatic and early 70's for me, totally laughed my ass off. There's some 70's cheese here but the cinematography and locations are quite striking as are the women. The story is pretty threadbare but it's entertaining and perverse with deviant elements that should delight any Euro-sleaze enthusiast.  

DVD: Mondo Macabro's presentation of Jesus Franco's erotic-thriller Countess Perverse (1973) is presented in it's original 4:3 aspect ratio and not 16:9 as the DVD jacket would indicate. That said the transfer is sourced from a newly restored camera negative and is pretty fantastic with vibrant color and nice clarity and sharpness that's free of debris, artifact and blemishes. The French language Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio is clean and the post-dubbed dialogue and film score sound great, especially loved the sweet fuzzed-out guitar score alternated with some less than stellar organ-mashing. 

We get a video interview with actor Robert Woods whom discusses the uneasy transition from westerns into Countess Perverse and  there's some discussion of the  other six films he went onto do with Franco. He speaks about the genius of the director and his less than enthusiastic opinions of the alternate XXX versions of the film. The second interview comes from author Stephen Thrower whom speaks about the film's origins as a take on The Most Dangerous Game (1933) with some Marquis De Sade elements, good stuff. 

We also get a 10 pg. text essay entitled "About the Film" which is pretty informative with plus we get "Cast and Crew Profiles" of Robert Woods, Alice Arno, Tania Busselier, Howard Vernon and Lisa Romay. There's a nice Mondo Macabro video preview of a ton of Mondo Macabro titles. I haven't seen a ton of MM's stuff and this got me excited to check out a few more really soon. The films on the preview reel are Snake Sisters, The Queen of Black Magic, Silip - Daughters of Eve, Mystics in Bali, The Blood Rose, Snake Dancer, The Devil's Sword, Lifespan, Don't Deliver Us from Evil, Satan's Blood, Virgins from Hell, For Your Height Only, French Sex Murders, The Deathless Devil, Living Doll, Satanico Pandemonium, Panic Beats, Clonus, The Killer Must Kill Again, The Mansion of Madness, Alucarda, The Diabolical Dr. Z, Aswang, The Living Corpse, Blood of the Virgins, Seven Women for Satan, Lady Terminator, Crazy Love, Mill of the Stone Women, Dangerous Seductress and More!

Special Features:
- Brand New Transfer from Original Negative 
- Cast and Crew Profiles of Robert Woods, Alice Arno, Tania Busselier, Howard Vernon and Lisa Romay
- Interview with actor Robert Woods (15:56) 
- Introduction by film critic Stephen Thrower (16:03) 
- Exclusive Profile of director Jess Franco 
- Mondo Macabro Previews (7:43) 

Verdict: I was completely turned-on by Countess Perverse, it's an erotic and twisted take on The Most Dangerous Game with all the sex and perversion one has come to expect from a Franco film with a nice side of rape, cruelty and cannibalism thrown in. After the erotic-revenger She Killed In Ecstasy (1971) this is my favorite Jess Franco feature so far, definitely puts me in the mood to further explore the filmmakers prolific early 70's filmography. In 1973 alone Franco completed nearly a dozen films, truly a mad genius.  
3.5 Outta 5 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DVD Review: THE COLLAPSED (2011)


Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment 
Region: 1 NTSC
Duration: 82 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1; Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with English Subtitles
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Justin McConnell
Cast: John Fantasia, Anna Ross

After a slightly ambiguous world-ending event a family of four find themselves scouring the countryside for supplies which brings them to an abandoned gas station where they hope to collect gasoline and snacks. While there the father spots a group of heavily armed men entering the building and the family abandon their vehicle and make the forested wilderness where they encounter other survivors of the apocalypse whom may or may not be cannibals and something otherworldly that's all together more sinister.

I do love a well-crafted apocalypse film, one I can throw myself into and think what would I do in that situation and what are these guys on-screen doing wrong that I could do better. That's something that I think I first encountered with George a. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978) when I was eight years old  thinking what the Hell would I do and how awesome would it be to be holed-up in a frigging mall of all places. When I was eight that was appealing but now thirty years later when I step foot in a mall it feel like a soul-sucking apocalypse but for different reasons, now I loathe the mall.

Justin McConnell's film The Collapsed (2011) offers up some decent suspense and mystery for it's duration, it moves along a t a pretty good pace and there's a supernatural element to it that reminded me a bit of Gregg Holtgrewe's Dawning (2009), it gave the film a nice sense of paranoia and dread that amped up the finale. 

The acting in the film is pretty decent, maybe a bit short of great but definitely serviceable. These people are in a desperate and dire situation compounded by personal feelings. These are family members under a lot of stress, the tension is palpable and to that end it's pretty successful and pulls you in with some nice character moments. Now one of my main issues  are some suspect motivations that left me scratching my head wondering just what a few characters were thinking, but for the most part this was a very decent watch and nothing was so odd that it withdrew me from the film.

Special Features: 
- Feature length behind-the-scenes documentary "Apocalypse On A Budget: The Making of The Collapse"
- Two audio commentaries: director/writer/producer Justin McConnell and co-story/co-producer Kevin

Hutchinson; lead actor John Fantasia;
- Music Video: Rob Kleiner's "Devil In Disguise"
- Trailers
- Photo Gallery
- Original Score Jukebox and MP3 Album Download
- Original Screenplay
- Easter Eggs

Verdict: Not a perfect film but a thoroughly enjoyable watch and a well crafted apocalyptic indie-thriller with some sweet nail-biting moments. A definite rental at the very least and a probably a buy for the apocalyptic nuts out there. Good Stuff.  3.5/