Friday, February 28, 2014



Label: Artsploitation Films
Region: 1
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 89 Minutes
Audio: Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles

Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Valentín Javier Diment
Cast: Gabriel Guity, Lola Berthet, Matias Marmorato

We start off with a creepy and macabre lullaby as a young woman, Alicia, wakes up from a frightful nightmare to find her beloved husband Jorge laying dead next to her. Forward forty-nine days later and she has assembled a small group of Jorge's closest friends at her rural home for a reading of a letter Jorge left behind for each of them, and to celebrate his life. 

Perhaps not surprisingly when the film is titles Memory of the Dead there's a bit more to the story than that. It seems Alicia has called upon these friends in an effort to resurrect Jorge from the grave through the occult, and as the clock strikes midnight odd and menacing things creep up on each of the mourners with violent results. 

Argentinian director Valentín Javier Diment's film is a pretty simple conceit, a variation on the classic cabin-in-the-woods story filtered through the eyes of Dario Argento, a phantasmic nightmare of malevolent spirits and geysers of ferocious gore. The images conjured are demented and sopping with blood, the gore hounds will not be disappointed by the visceral experience but some might be a bit turned off (or maybe just confused) by the pervasive dream logic, the narrative can be a bit disjointed at times.

I found the performances to be very natural, if sometimes a bit campy. There's definitely a macabre sense of humor at play throughout the film, it's not all dread and nightmares, particularly the finale. The group of mourners are on the surface friendly with each other but as the night creeps in those friendships are quickly torn asunder and betrayal is evident at every turn. 

The production looks fantastic while the image doesn't have a lot of depth to it's superbly lit in every shot and each sequence is framed nicely, this is a gorgeous film with oodles of macabre atmosphere and surreal imagery. I give this a high recommend, a creepy and nightmarish version of Evil Dead 2 (1987) by way of Argento's Suspiria (1977) and one heck of a ferocious gore-fest, totally fun. 3.5 Outta 5 



Label: Image Entertainment UK
Release Date: March 4th 2012
Region Code: 2 PAL
Rating: Not Rated
Duration: 85 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Cast: Jim Tavaré, Rae Latt, Lexi Giovagnoli, Alex Dobrenko, Randi Lamey
Director: Brian C. Weed

It's been three years since Winston High School's star athlete and wanna-be rapist Billy (Jesse Ferraro) was burned alive at the homecoming dance. The group of freshman responsible for his demise are now seniors and as the homecoming festivities get underway the teens receive ominous "Happy Homecoming" notes in their lockers - it seems someone might want them dead - but who? 

Here we have a fun assortment of high school archetypes represented including the straight arrows Steve (Alex Dobrenko) and Laura plus horny burnouts Robbie (Shaleen Cholera) and Nora (Elizabeth Bigger), a trio of vapid cheerleaders Cheryl (Victoria Park), Darcy (Hillary Wagner) and Cassie (Taryn Cervarich) and the class president Wade (Branden Lee Roth). The cast do a decent job with the sometimes adversarial teen friendships which are full of sarcasm and  teen drama as you might expect, the characters are decently fleshed-out and once the body count commences you actually do feel some sense of loss for these folks, a good job on part of the writer and cast creating more than just cookie-cutter stereotypes. Even the homecoming queen Cassie is given more depth than what you might expect from a slasher entry and I appreciated that. The teens felt like teens and the humorous/sarcastic dialogue came across appropriate and was pretty funny, I laughed quite a bit. 

The teaching staff get some decent screen time as well, we have the pervert principal Mr. Patterson (Steve Earnest), a handful of teachers, the lecherous football coach (David Young) and the requisite creepy janitor (Jim Tavare) who seems to be channeling Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes). While the staff are not developed quite as much as the student body we do get some fun exchanges between the staff and student, some more than others.

Our masked-killer wears a fireman turnout coat and helmet face-mask to conceal their identity. The look definitely added a My Bloody Valentine (1981) by way of Prom Night (1980) flavor to the film, the murder weapon of choice is the coveted Winston Wildcats spirit baton that goes missing early on in the film, it's  fine choice of weapon and does the deed nicely. Occasionally the killer branches out a bit and at one point suffocated a victim with a burst balloon skin which I give credit for originality if a bit odd. 

As the killings get underway we have a nice assortment of baton-killings, they're not gore-soaked but there's plenty bloody. There's not a lot new under the sun as killings go but they're executed nicely and I don't require a ton of originality to enjoy a retro-slasher and Bloody Homecoming does just fine with an admirable body count and decent kills. 

I didn't guess the identity of the killer but the revelation is decent and we get a fun monologue as the murderer lays out the motivations for the murder-spree, again it's not original by any means but nicely done. The shortest straw of the film would be a few of the performances seem awkward but overall this was just a damn fun watch with steady performances, a decent amount of humor and some decent low-budget deaths. 

The film is low budget but has very nice production value, it doesn't feel cheap. The digitally shot image looks just fine and while I wasn't in love with the slightly desaturated aesthetic it is well shot with some nice camera movement and decent editing. The score definitely has a bit of John Carpenter (Halloween) flavor to it from time to time as well as that particular stressed-strings sound I usually attribute to an influence from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980).

Bloody Homecoming (2012) is a damn decent slasher entry that doesn't stray far from the established formulas and that's just fine by me, I like my slashers straight-up without a lot of irony. What it does it does quite well and the end result is a very enjoyable retro-slasher with a Prom Night (1980) by way of My Bloody Valentine (1981) flavor - what's not to enjoy? The film is available on March 4th in the UK from Image Entertainment and currently available here in the US from image on DVD.  3 Outta 5 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Blu-ray Review: FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 4 Film Collection

4-Film Collection  Blu-ray (1996-1999)

Label: Echo Bridge Entertainment
Rated: R
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1/1.78:1)
Audio: English 5.1 DTS and English 2.0 Stereo

Duration: 290 Minutes
Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Scott Spiegel, P.J. Pesce
Cast: Michael Parks, George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Quentin Tarantino, Cheech Marin, Fred Williamson, Danny Trejo, Salma Hayek, Tom Savini

I am still in San Antonio on an extended training trip for the new job, working 74 hours a week is sort of shitty and what little downtime I do have is off hours leaving me few choices other than to sit on my uncomfortable couch and watch a movie or two - which isn't so bad. This week I was able to sift through the Echo Bridge Entertainment FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 4 Film Collection on Blu-ray featuring the classic original team-up of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez plus the two straight-to-video sequels and the full length documentary FULL TILT BOOGIE.


FROM DUSK TILL DAWN has the distinction of being written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez and it's a stone cold vamp classic. The introduction to the film is outstanding as actor Michael Parks (RED STATE) portrays a Texas Ranger who enters a liquor store to quench his thirst and use the crapper. He shoots the shit with the clerk (John Hawkes) for a bit and when the old man heads for the bathroom it's revealed that the clerk and a few young women are being held at gun point by a pair of wanted men - brothers Seth and Richard Gecko played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino. The Geckos havejust robbed a bank and are on the run seeking refuge in Mexico at a place called El Rey. En route they kidnap a family of three at a hotel. A priest (Harvey Keitel) whose lost his faith and his two teen children Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu) who are forced to smuggle the brothers across the border in their RV.

Clooney is a straight-up thief while his brother Richard is something a bit more fucked-up - a deranged psychopath and violent rapist. Seth loves his brother but clearly finds his brothers depraved proclivities and taste for blood disturbing - especially when he rapes and kills a middle-aged woman -  it's disturbing stuff. 

Crossing the border into Mexico the Geckos and the kidnapped family end up at the Titty Twister trucker bar, a seedy place full of tough dudes and curvy strippers. Of particular note is a sultry temptress named Satanico Pandemonium as portrayed by Salma Hayek! Unfortunately she never truly disrobes but her erotic snake dance is a sexually charged showstopper of performance, the striptease and the stunner intro make this film for me, this is  fantastic stuff. For more of Hayek stripping check her out in Kevin Smith's DOGMA. 

Amidst the booze and boobs it's revealed that the bar is stuffed to the brim with bloodsucking vampires and our band of misfits must band together with a few other patrons to defeat evil. We have some great cameos from Fred Williamson (HELL UP IN HARLEM), Tom Savini, Danny Trejo (MACHETE) and Greg Nicotero who stomp major vampire ass, it's hard to forget Savin's crotch-cannon. 

There's a ton of fun practical gore gags here - the blood is pouring off the screen during the final third of the film but I do have some beef with the effects, most of the vampire make-ups and the digital-aided transformation scenes have dated quite poorly. I just wish I had enjoyed the designs more but it's not awful.  A few qualms about the creature design aside this is a top-tier vamp flick with elements of a bad-ass grindhouse cinema, Tarantino's dialogue is pretty sweet and Rodriguez's directing and editing is very sharp. Plus we have some gruesome special effects work from the KNB EFX group - this one is firing on all cylinders from the get-go. 4 Outta 5 


Three years after the original theatrical release Miramax entered the direct-to-video market with a sequel directed by Scott Spiegel (INTRUDER) and starring Robert Patrick (T2: JUDGEMENT DAY) as Buck - an ex con who puts together a group for a new heist - they're out for money but what the end up with is a battle against undead bloodsuckers. I love me some Robert Patrick but he cannot save this one - it's a bit by the numbers and uninspired - plus it looks pretty damn cheap and lacks the boobs, blood and script of the original. What it does have is a few patented Scott Spiegel POV shots which are just crazy - almost every scene features a nutty POV shot from the bottom of a dog bowl, a beer cooler or from the back of a vamp mouth - weirdness - watch Spiegel's slasher entry  INTRUDER (1989) to see more of his weird POV. 

It starts off with brief cameos from Bruce Campbell (EVIL DEAD) it's pretty damn short - even by Campbell cameo standards. The effects are awful - those damn bats are just horrendous. The Titty Twister bar is reborn here to some degree and Danny Trejo returns as Razor Eddie the bartender - but he comes and goes pretty damn quick. 

There's just way too much of this film is spent watching four dudes watching porn in a hotel room and the tits and gore are few and far between. The horror is weak and the heist elements are worse, this an anemic and very unnecessary cash grab. Props to some decent action sequences and neat vampire make-ups but very little else - skip it.  1.5 Outta 5


The same year as the first sequel we get a third entry - a prequel which tells the origin story of the vampire princess Satanico Pandemonium from the first film sans Salma Hayek - so right from the start we're at a deficit. What we do have is the return of actor Michael Parks, this time as the American author Ambrose Bierce who is travelling through the West shortly after the American Civil War to join ranks with the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. En route he meets a priest (Lennie Loftin) and his new wife (child-killer Rebecca Gayheart) and the trio's carriage is overtaken by a group of bandits lead by Johnny Madrid. Madrid  (Marco Leonardi) recently escaped the noose and has taken the gorgeous young Esmerelda (Ara Caeli) hostage - she's the daughter of a hangman and her abusive father is on Madrid's trail.

Later that night the travelers, thieves and the hangman's posse all end up at a whorehouse which we discover is a familiar place from the first and second films. Much as with the first film as the groups gather at the whorehouse the bloodsucking shit hits the fan as the sexy undead drain the precious bodily fluids. 

Having Parks back is a plus - he lends a certain gravitas to the film that was lacking from the first sequel. The setting is better, the cast is improved and the writing is a bit richer - while not on par with Tarantino's script it's serviceable. I enjoyed the vampire make-ups here - more so than even the first film but the digital effects are just as awful. 

Sonia Braga (KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN) appears as Quixtla - the madame of the whorehouse and the mother of the half-blood vampire Esmeralda. As Santanico Pandemonium actress Ara Celi is quite a feast for the eye. 
We have some fun make-up effects, a story that is entertaining and some nice action sequences and set pieces, not nearly the film that the original was but at least it's entertaining which is more than I could say for previous entry. 2.5 Outta 5


The feature length doc about the making of the first film is a decent watch but it focuses mostly on the non-union crew members and not enough on the writer and director for my tastes, what little screen time we do get with Clooney and Tarantino feel like scripted comedy bits and the soap opera drama of the crew members bored me to tears. 2.5 Outta 5 

Blu-ray: The Blu-ray from Echo Bridge features all four films crammed onto a single disc. The original films looks nice in 1080p with strong colors, varying degrees of crispness and a natural layer of films grain. It's not perfect, the HD image varies from scene to scene with some black crush. It also sports an English language DTS-HD Master Audio track with well balanced score, dialogue and effects - there are no subtitle options. The A/V quality of the sequels less pleasing with varying degrees of image softness, black crush and artifacting with  FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY looking the worst - that sequel also features on as DTS-HD 2.0 track. FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3: THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER sports a 5.1 mix and a slightly better transfer but it's not great. There are no extras on the disc unless you include the inclusion of the feature length documentary FULL-TILT BOOGIE. 

Verdict: I would have preferred at least a 2-disc set instead of the four titles crammed onto a single Blu-ray but you do get a lot of bang for your buck with this one. FROM DUSK TILL DOWN looks and sounds quite nice in 1080p - all the other titles fare considerably less. If you love the first film I recommend buying the stand alone Blu-ray but for the more adventurous types and completest why just snag the whole set. The first sequel is pretty awful but there's some fun to be had with the prequel - for a few bucks there's a lot of value here if not a ton of entertainment but there's no denying what a great film the original is. 3 Outta 5  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

DVD Review: SHE CAT (1983)

SHE CAT (1983) 
Label: Impulse Pictures
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Audio: Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Duration: 87 Minutes 
Director: Shingo Yamashiro
Cast: Ai Saotome, Koichi Iwaki, Yoshie Otsuka

Dr. “Cat” Kagami is an OB/GYN with a haunted past and it seems to be catching up with her. While attending a social function she is the intended target of a failed assassination attempt on her life. In the aftermath she must deal with passion, betrayal and revenge. She Cat (1983) feels like something a little different for a Nikkatsu film of the era with more intricate plotting and and crime/revenge tendencies.

Not to worry pervs, there are still the prerequisite sex scenes peppered throughout every ten minutes but for the most part they just aren't quite as weird as some we've seen from this series. We have a very memorable woman-on-woman shower scene that's just delightful plus a second straight sex shower scene later. Not all the scenes are as sweet, one of the centerpieces is a brutal and bizarre rape scene at the women's clinic when several cronies arrive on scene in search of a mysterious skull -  which Ca carries around in a hat box - it figures into the plot. They rape a nurse and a woman's who has just had an abortion performed, then one of the perp inserts a speculum into the victims vagina and we have a strangely comedic POV from the inside looking out, gross and weird.

This certainly isn't the first time I've noticed a Dario Argento flavor during a Nikkatsu film director but director Shingo Yamashiro takes it beyond with a tracking-shot lifted straight from Tenebrae (1982), there's a lot of similarities. There's also a very Goblin-esque score the has a distinct Euro-cult sound, but the Argento influence is fleeting and diminishes as the film moves forward turning into a more of a crime-revengeer but it's memorable to say the least and quite welcome

Not so strange for a Nikkatsu production are a few corny moments of humor which comes by way of an amorous butcher and his unfortunate taste in women - or men dressed as women! The film ramps up in the final moments with a tense shootout and a tragic closing salvo - this is a recommend. 

The DVD transfer from Impulse Pictures is solid with strong color reproduction and black levels from source elements that are in great condition. The mono Japanese language audio sounds fine, not overly dynamic but balanced and free of distortion. Special features are limited to a trailer and writing on the film from Japanese Film Scholar Jasper Sharp. 

An engaging watch with the prerequisite sleaze you've come to expect from the a Nikkatsu production. Managing to come off as equal parts thriller and erotic cinema, the two marry well onscreen and this ends up being a memorable entry in the Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection from Impulse Pictures2.5 Outta 5 

Monday, February 3, 2014



Label: Vinegar Syndrome

Region: Region-FREE
Duration: 128 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono
Director: Anthony Spinelli
Cast: Chris Cassidy, Kristine Heller, John Leslie, Joey Silvera, Jack Wright

The fine purveyors of filth and sleaze over at Vinegar Syndrome have put together this XXX double feature from porn auteur Anthony Spinelli from 1977. Both films are of the plot-driven porno variety and feature attractive women doing a lot of naughty things.

In Expectations (1977) we start of with some sex of course, nicely lit with a blue light and ending with a a damn decent blow job. The woman performing this delightful oral routine  is Margo (Delania Raffino) and she's bored with her upper crust lifestyle. To cure this malaise she sets in motion a plan to swap lives with a young hippie-type named Montana (Chris Cassidy). The two women meet-up and exchange IDs and apartments and Margo heads off to Montana's little bungalow - it's just that easy. Margo arrives at the quaint apartment and its not long before there's a knock a the door. A young and young mustached stud enters and pretty much forces himself on her - while it starts out a bit rough she's completely game for this new experience after a few seconds. This guys corny sex-talk is hilarious, you gotta hear it. 

Meanwhile blond hippie Montana is back at Margo's pad sifting through jewelery and making herself comfy in the new surroundings when Margo's one-eyed brother Vincent (Jack Wright) arrives looking for his sister. After some small talk the two get down to the expected sex-stuff and she takes on the persona of Margo which gives the encounter weird incestuous overtones, plus that eye-patch is just the most ridiculous thing ever. 

Montana sends a female companion over to Margo for her very first interracial woman-on-woman encounter. For all of a 1/2 second she seems resistant but she cums around nicely to the idea and we end up with a sweetly intimate encounter. However, when Montana boasts to Margo that she fucked her brother and indulged his incestuous fantasies she calls off the swap but not before some Margo-on-Montana sex action, oh yeah.  This one was a nice slice of x-rated entertainment shot fairly well and with an intriguing (enough) framing device. I loved the 70's styles and the hardcore sex is dirty and hot with no shortage of bush, blow jobs, and glistening genitalia. 

The second feature Confessions (1977) starts when a married couple wake in bed together. The husband Gary wakes-up with a skull-pounding headache after a night of drinking. Fortunately his wife Beth (Kristine Heller) sucks away his brain pain with a morning blow job and when he finishes-up on her face she cleans-up his love gun with her tongue, she's a nice lady! The selfish fucker jumps in the shower and is off to work without even reciprocating - what a shitter. 

Unsatisfied in bed Beth decides to explore other sexual avenues throughout the course of the day. Her husband refers to himself in the third person, he's obviously a douche nozzle. Before you know it Beth's sucking biker-cock (and not very well according to him) so he gives her an impromptu lesson in fellatio. At a party later that night she screws Gary's boss in the bathroom after giving him one of those newly practiced blow jobs while the films inter cuts between a party guest eating a banana, she was so into it assume she's dreaming of a cock between those lips. Later she answers a personal ad to dominate a woman's submissive husband (Jack Wright again minus the eye-patch), she does it so well that she's rewarded with a prolonged carpet munching session from the grateful wife who tongue-darts her to a screaming orgasm. Her thirst for sex  not quite quenched she resorts to one final excursion - prostitution. This one made me wonder what kind of weirdo would go-down an a prostitute! I love it when the john inquires "How Much?" and she responds "$200" which he scoffs "I wanna fuck you, not support you". 

Kristine Heller is quite a looker with a gorgeous body and the camera loves every inch of her, for the most part she has some decent acting chops when they're called upon - which is not that often to be honest - but once again the premise is an just interesting enough to pull the various sex scenes together into a semi-coherent films 

You just don't see hairy pussy and cock-shaft like this anymore, t was a seedier time when porn wasn't streaming online for free and you had to seek it out in cum-stained theaters projected  - now thanks to Vinegar Syndrome you can watch it on DVD for cheap at home.

The DVD from Vinegar Syndrome presents both films in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with English Dolby Digital Mono audio with no subtitles. Scanned from 2K film elements the transfers look nice with . strong color reproduction and clarity, the crispness is generally quite nice with only a few instances of print damage. The mono audio is decent and the score and dialogue sound nice with some underlying minor hiss but it's not distracting. No special features for either film on this set, the budget-minded Drive-In double features from VS rarely sport commentary tracks but there's only so much you can say about a fuck tape

Verdict: Another fun x-rated double-feature from the filth preservationists over at Vinegar Syndrome who are on quite a run this past year with obscure slices of nasty cinema. If I had to pick my preference I'm going with the swap identity turn-on of Expectations (1977) a filthy piece of cinema with a fun premise and plenty of the requisite seedy sex scenes. If you're looking for a quality double-dose of 70's hairy-bushed porn this double feature is just what you're looking for.  2.5 Outta 5 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

DVD Review: REPLIGATOR (1996)

Label: Whacked Movies
Duration: 84 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Director: Bret McCormick
Cast: Gunnar Hansen, Brinke Stevens, Keith Kjornes, T.J. Meyers, Carl Merritt

Synopsis: An army experiment gone awry turns burly brutes into gorgeous nymphets who morph into gators when they reach orgasm. This crazy, erotic sci-fi romp tells the story of a top secret military experiment that turns burly soldiers into sexy nymphomaniac babes who turn into gators when they reach orgasm! The film stars Gunnar Hansen (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and scream queen Brinke Stevens who reveals her finest assets. A cult classic ripe for rediscovery, Repligator offers non-stop fun and plenty of topless babes.

There's not a lot I can add to that synopsis. If I did you just might go cross-eyed trying to make sense of it all and I certainly couldn't. In fact, that's probably why they stuffed it with glorious amounts of naked woman, just to turn the thinking part of the brain off so you could just enjoy how deliciously campy and fun this cornball b-movie is. It stars Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as Dr. Kildare and 80's scream queen Brink Stevens (The Slumber Party Massacre) as Dr. Goodbody, oh the names in this movie are something else. Both are scientist working for the military industrial complex. Goodbody has tapped into the horny thoughts of men and Kildare has invented a frikkin' laser beam that turns hard-nosed male soldiers into horny babes, now tell me what's not to love about that? There is however one very unfortunate side effect to all of this, once these horny babes are sexed-up they turn into alligator-women - that's right - glorious no budget alligators! 

So, yeah this is a pretty awful film but it's certainly entertaining in an eye-rolling sorta way, the comedy is juvenile and the sci-fi techno babble is mind certainly ridiculous but these guys did something that's rarely done well, they made a bad movie by design and it actually worked, for me anyway. 

The special effects are laugh-out-loud bad but the cast are just awful enough in that special way to make the screwball script work it's schlocky magic. Imagine if Frank Henelotter (Frankenhooker) penned a retro science fiction script and Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall) directed it with Roger Corman producing, the bad movie making firing on all cylinders right there! To give credit were credit is due the film was actually written by Keith Kjorned and produced/directed by Texas b-movie auteur Bret McCormick and while I enjoyed this one I have so very little interest in watching any of his other films. I get the feeling this was sort like capturing lightning in a bottle and for others it might just be a jar full of piss.

The DVD from Whacked Movie features a a cool Behind the Scenes Featurette documenting the fun/problems of working on a low budget productions plus an Interview with Director, Bret McCormick who speaks about Roger Corman's influence on his career.

This is not quite a broad recommend to everyone because you have to seriously love bad cinema to get through it but if what you've read so far intrigues you seek it out. 2 Outta 5