Monday, September 29, 2014

THE SQUAD (2011)

THE SQUAD (2011)
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 100 Minutes
Audio: Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2:35:1) 
Director: Jaime Osorio Marquez
Cast: Juan David Restrepo, Juan Pablo Barragán, Mauricio Navas, Alejandro Aguilar, Andrés Castañeda

Synopsis: All contact with a military base high in the desolate wastelands of Colombia has been lost. The authorities – believing the base to have fallen to a terrorist attack – send a nine-man squad to investigate. When they arrive, the men discover a shocking scene of carnage and only one survivor: a mute woman in chains. Gradually the isolation, the inability to communicate with the outside world and the impossibility of escape begin to undermine the sanity of the soldiers. They start to question the identity of their enemy and the true nature of the strange, silent woman. Is she a terrorist? A victim? Or something more sinister? Something supernatural? Paranoia takes root. Prisoners of fear and the terrible secret they share, the men abandon their humanity and turn savagely on one another.

This claustrophobic thriller from first-time director Jaime Osorio Marquez throws us right into a tense set-up as a group of nine Colombian soldiers are dispatched to a military outpost after communications have been cut-off. Operating under the theory that a group of guerrilla soldiers may have taken the base by force they arrive on foot only to discover a scene much more eerie, the base is completely empty with the exception of a few corpses.  There are no immediate signs of soldiers stationed at the outpost or of the suspected rebel fighters. 

The walls of the outpost are blood-spattered as if something awful has happened but are precious few clues as odd are the chicken feet dangling from the ceiling on strings and strange incantations written on the wall designed to ward off evil. It just so happens that behind one of these walls the soldiers uncover a feral woman sealed-up inside, she's alive but unable or unwilling to speak - she just screams a lot and makes the men uncomfortable. . 

The nine-man squad from the get-go are a bundle of nerves and the dynamic between each are strained, the situation only worsens after the discovery of the woman and the longer they remain on the mountain the more the soldiers succumb to distrust, paranoia and violence towards each other - could this witchy woman be the cause? 

The location of the base is quite effective, a secluded mountain top communications base shrouded in a dense layer of wispy fog, it adds quite a bit of character to the film when exterior shots are used, I only wish they had made more use of it. The color scheme is a bit drab and the characters sort of run into each other as they are in uniform and dirt-covered - it took me a while to differentiate between them all.  It's a taught slow-burn but I must admit that the pay-off left me less than satisfied, there's very little story arc to the film and by the end you realize just how little how transpired for the duration of the film and that was problematic for me. It has some truly creepy moments but is lacking the visceral punch it needed to make the slow-burn pay off. 

I give the cast a lot of credit for these are solid performances through and through, a mix of aggressive machismo and soldier camaraderie peppered with anxiety and edginess. Technically the film is very tight and well crafted but the journey left me wanting more as the film did not deliver on on the slow-burn that builds to more of a fizzle. A lot of promise onscreen but just not a film I can see myself watching again anytime soon. 

The Blu-ray from Scream Factory offers up a solid HD 
transfer with a strong Spanish language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles. Extras include a 20-minute Spanish language making-of featurette and a trailer for the film. 

THE SQUAD (2011) didn't quite do it for me but I do appreciate when Scream branch off from the eighties horror and cult-classics with a contemporary foreign import or made-for-TV production from time to time. They've had winners with Larry Fessenden's creature feature BENEATH (2013) and the COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES (2012). This one's a decent one and done that won't leave you sour but probably won't have you running back for a second helping. . 

THE BABADOOK Trailer Debut

IFC Midnight Presents

Opening in theaters and VOD November 28th

Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6 year-old, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both.

When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook’ turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control, he becomes more unpredictable and violent. Amelia, genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour, is forced to medicate him.

But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.

THE VISITOR (1979) on Blu-ray in the UK 10/6 from ARROW VIDEO!

Prepare for the Space Jesus! One of the strangest cult-movies of all time is coming to Blu-ray in the UK on October 6th.



Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the release of the 1979 B-movie sci-fi/horror mash-up The Visitor, available on BD/DVD from 6th October. A bizarre blend of The Exorcist, The Omen and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Visitor was criticized and humorously dubbed ‘a turkey made of cement’, yet it has recently gone on to become something of a cult classic in its own right.

The Visitor is the ultimate experience in B-movie madness from Ovidio G. Assonitis, producer extraordinaire and director of such deliciously guilty pleasures as Beyond the Door and Tentacles. Described by various sources as “one of the most mind-altering cinematic experiences of the 1970s” and “the Mount Everest of insane ‘70s Italian movies”, The Visitor brings together an astonishing ensemble cast (Lance Henriksen, Shelley Winters and Mel Ferrer to name but a few) in a hallucinatory intergalactic tale of a demonic little girl and her pet hawk. In the words of one astute reviewer, The Visitor is “the most fun you can have in a movie theater without risking permanent brain damage”!

In addition to offering a high definition (1080p) and Standard Definition presentations of the feature, this release will also feature interviews with star Lance Henriksen, screenwriter Lou Comici and cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri. The Reversible sleeve features original artwork and a praised newly commissioned cover art by Erik Buckman. The collector’s booklet features new writing on the film, illustrated with original stills.

You may think you’ve seen it all, but NOTHING can prepare you for The Visitor! The ultimate excursion into B-movie madness, this 1979 cinematic oddity from schlock producer extraordinaire Ovidio G. Assonitis, director of such deliciously guilty pleasures as Beyond the Door and Tentacles, brings together an extraordinary ensemble cast in a mind-bending tale of a girl and her pet hawk.

At first glance, Katy Collins is just like any other normal 8-year-old girl – but appearances can dangerously deceptive. As it turns out, Katy is the Earthly incarnation of an ancient evil by the name of Sateen – an intergalactic supernatural entity who was vanquished many light years ago. Katy possesses tremendous powers making her capable of great destruction – powers which some are keen to eradicate, and some to harness…

A veritable cult phenomenon thanks to its recent re-discovery, The Visitor combines stunning imagery, incredible set-pieces alongside a truly jaw-dropping cast list which includes John Huston, Mel Ferrer, Shelley Winters and Franco Nero appearing as Jesus!

Special Features
· High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements
· Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
· Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
· Interview with Star Lance Henriksen
· Interview with Screenwriter Lou Comici
· Interview with Cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri
· Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Erik Buckman
· Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film and more!

Release Date: Monday October 6th 2014
Certificate: 15
Language: English (English SDH Subtitles)
Running Time: 108 minutes
Region: B
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: 2.0 Stereo

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) 40th Anniversary Restoration UK Steelbook Blu-ray released on 11/17

The brutal classic THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) 40th Anniversary Restoration comes to Blu-ray in the UK on November 17th from SECOND SIGHT FILM as a standard two-disc Blu-ray and a Limited Edition Blu-ray SteelBook with new extras and a 4K HD Restoration!!

Label: Second Sight Films
Release Date: November 17th 2014 
Region Code: B
Duration: 84 Minutes
Video: 1:77:1, 1080p
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Aduio 7.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, PCM Stereo 2.0, PCM Mono 1.0 
Director: Tobe Hooper 

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre not!only changed the face of!horror in 1974 but still remains one of the most shocking, powerful and terrifying films ever made.Now to celebrate its 40th Anniversary, brand new!restored version comes to Blu-ray!courtesy of Second Sight.

Widely banned on release! its notoriety has not! diminished and this harrowing tale of a depraved Texan clan and its chainsaw wielding icon of horror Leatherface! continues to stun and disturb audiences like no other film.

Supervised by director Tobe!Hooper, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has received a stunning 4K restoration and 7.1 audio!mix, looking and sounding like never before.

The film will be released as a two-disc limited edition Steelbook blu-ray with!brand new artwork created by Doaly and stacked with brand-new!bonus features, a standard two-disc Blu-ray with reversible sleeve featuring the new 
artwork and the original!U.S. poster!artwork will!also!be!available on November 17th 2014.

- NEW 4k transfer from the original 16mm A/B rolls.
-NEW 7.1 surround audio mix supervised by Tobe Hooper, 5.1 surround, 2.0 stereo, 1.0 original mono.
- NEW Audio commentary with Tobe Hooper.
- NEW Deleted scenes and outtakes.
- NEW audio commentary with cinematographer Daniel Pearl, sound recordist Ted Nicolaou, and editor J. Larry Carroll.
- NEW Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
- NEW 'Grandpa's Tales' with actor John Dugan.

- Audio commentary with Tobe Hooper, actor Gunnar Hansen, cinematographer Daniel Pearl.
- Audio commentary with actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, and Paul A. Partain, and production designer Robert Burns.
- 'Cutting Chain Saw' with Editor J. Larry Carroll.
- Horror's Hallowed Grounds: TCSM.
- 'The Shocking Truth' documentary plus outtakes.
- 'Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of The Saw'.
- A Tour of the TCSM House with Gunnar Hansen.
- 'Off The Hook' with Teri McMinn.
- 'The Business of Chain Saw' – with Production Manager Ron Bozman.
- Tobe Hooper interview.
- Kim Henkel interview.
- Deleted Scenes and Outtakes, Trailers, TV and Radio spots.

Thursday, September 25, 2014



Label: SGL Entertainment
Duration: 125 mins
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Director: Massimiliano Cerchi
Cast: Artie Richard, Shana Betz, James M. O'Donoghue, Veronica Bero, Solomon Cobitt, Kelly Goldstein, Stephen Steel, Beverly Lynne, Charlie David, Nick Armas, Jennifer Amanda Morgan, Yvette Lopez, Lindsey Labrum, Gregory Etchinson, Michael Brazier, Katy Moses

There's certainly some truth in the adverting which proclaims this to be a double feature from Hell. Truly I do feel as those I've been punished and sent to an awful place for what felt like an eternity - actually just two hours but those are two hours I will never get back. What we have hear are to sacrilegious no-budget cheapies shot on what would appear to be low-end consumer grade cameras. Now no-budget doesn't necessarily equate to awful but in this instance is certainly does, these are awful films. 

The first feature  is HELLINGER (1997) a painful knock-off of HELLRAISER featuring a demonic clergyman who appears in the darkness to pluck out the eyes of his victims before disemboweling them - definitely a few nods to HELLRAISER and a bit of CANDYMAN. The demonic priest is quite a sight, just imagine a white-faced Pinhead minus the nails and played by Wallace Shawn (THE PRINCESS BRIDE). Every scene is overwrought and unintentionally funny. The cast has zero charisma but somehow Massimiliano Cerchi manages to get some comely young lasses to bare their breasts for the  prerequisite sex scenes - which were not great but at least distracting. The gore is pretty awful and the production value is has all the charm of a backyard wrestling video on YouTube.

Onto the scond opus in this diabolic double-feature from director Massimiliano Cerchi we have HOLY TERROR (2002) which was shot a few years later  but somehow looks worse. This one is somewhat centered around a possessed nun who terrorizes a group of friends with the help of her evil minion - a pervy realtor. I had hopes for some fun schlocky no-budget nunsploitation with this one because I sort of enjoyed the make-up effects of the possessed-nun but the film is so criminally inept in all categories there's not much to enjoy even on a shitfest level. Again Cerchi finds a few actresses willing to bare their tits for a few sex scenes plus a strip club segment - which explains where these directors find young women desperate enough to bare some skin in shit movies  

This double-feature of no-budget awfulness is the worst sort of trash cinema. I can forgive the shoddy production value and poor acting but the both films are so uninspired and flat that they just cannot keep my interest. There's no passion to praise onscreen here and maybe if there was a modicum of wit or wink-wink irony I could maybe muster some enthusiasm but this is a dud from start to finish - a complete waste of time. At just over two hours to watch both films may I suggest you go to your shelves and pull out a decent ninety-minute horror film and watch that - anything but this one. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Retro-schlock creature feature 'MUTANTIS' (2014) now available on DVD and Digital!


Watch out for the MUTANTIS! The no-budget schlock-fest from director Kelly Fitzgerald and writer Mark Leake is now available on DVD and Digital Download. At first glance I would say this is the something along the lines of ZAAT by way of THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE MOVIE, a super low budget homage to the glorious grindhouse monster movies of the nineteen seventies. Watch the trailer and see if you have what it takes to take on the MUTANTIS!

MUTANTIS (2014) 

Synopsis: When an unscrupulous scientist drags his stepchildren out into the forest to use them as bait -- in the hopes of luring out a big foot -- not even the team of hillbillies he hired can contain the horror they find: the horror of Mutantis! Only the adventurer Dr. William Fury may be able to stop the beast, but hope dwindles fast once Dr. Fury realizes that the monster is not only intent on murder but procreation as well. Could this be the end of the world as we know it?

It is now available on DVD at Amazon, and digital copies are available for purchase or rental at the website,


DR. MORDRID (1992)

DR. MORDRID (1992) 

Label: Full Moon Features

Region Code: All
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 74 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.9, Dolby Digital 5.1 
Video: 1080 Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Charles band, Albert Band
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Yvetter Nipar, Jay Acovone, Brian Thompson

DOCTOR MORDRID stars the always fantastic Jeffrey Combs (RE-ANIMATOR) as a wizard sent to Earth from the fourth 
another dimension to guard us against the evil Kabal (Brian Thompson, X-FILES). Kabal has been imprisoned for centuries but has escaped and is now on Earth where he plans to unleash a demonic horde - it's up to Mordrid to save us all. 

Mordrid lives in New York City in a sweet apartment festooned with ancient relics and shelves of books on demonology, sorcery and alchemy. There's definitely been a few pages torn from Marvel's Doctor Strange playbook as Mordrid astral projects himself to other dimension where he communes with an entity known as The Monitor. The sorcerer also wears a magical cloak and derives his power from a mystical amulet.

Combs classes up every movie he appears in and this is no different. His turn as a slightly cold demeanored sorcerer battling evil is good stuff. The effects work is standard for an early nineties Band directed film with plenty of low budget in-camera and visual effects but they work quite nicely. The miniature and stop-motion effects from the late David Allen are a lot of fun - from the floating prison to the animated dinosaur skeletons it's just fun stuff.

Brian Thompson who played the menacing alien bounty hunter in nine episodes of the X-FILES appears as the evil mulleted wizard Kabal and he strikes an imposing figure. On Earth he enlists a couple of metal-heads burnouts to do his bidding. The dude is a dud but his female companion at least offers up some fun nudity to the proceedings. 

They do squeeze in a love interest into the story in the form of TV actress Yvette Nipar as Samantha Hunt a NYPD special consultant and Mordrid's neighbor with an interest in the dark arts. The performances are pretty decent with Combs playing it quite cool while Brian Thompson gets to chew the scenery as the villainous sorcerer. 

The film was co-directed by Albert and Charles Band and moves along nicely but is quite short at just under 75 minutes with a rushed ending. Points deducted for a final battle that was less than epic but for a first time watch without the benefit of nostalgia this was quite an entertaining watch . 

The picture quality is nicely crisp and with good color saturation, the print used for the HD Master is in great shape with very little wear and tear, just a smattering of white specks. I am not certain but I believe this was shot in the open-matte format and has been cropped for this release to create a proper widescreen presentation. which means we lose information on both the top and bottom of the frame but the framing is done quite nicely. Would love it if they would offer both the cropped and original open matte versions like we saw on the EVIL DEAD Blu-ray. 

None of the Full Moon Blu-rays have offered HD audio and the disc is no different. The film relies on a capable English Dolby Digital presentation with both a stereo and surround option. It handles the dialogue and effects quite nicely and Richard Band's score comes through cleanly but I would love to see Band's score get a DTS-HD Master Audio option with an isolated music track - that would be fantastic. This particular score is quite familiar to me and is used for a lot of the FM promos. There are no subtitle options provided. 

Onto the special features we have a lively commentary from Charles Band and star Jeffrey Combs that is never dull - these two keep it interesting with tales from set and the origin of the story. The vintage Videozone featurette has interviews with co-director Charles and Albert Band, stars Jeffrey Combs, Brian Thompson and Yvette Nipar plus visual effects artist David Allen parsed with behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the film.

The Uncut Behind-the-Scenes footage starts with outtakes from a vintage promo and then into extended filming of the Videozone segment including some for what appears to have been for the making-of BAD CHANNELS. It's pretty neat to hear these segments being set-up and to hear the interviewer ask the questions with flubs and interruptions intact. The David Allen stuff is awesome as he explains the process and we see some fun shots of him setting up the stop motion shots used in the film.   

The William Shatner Interview with Jeffrey Combs, Stuart Gordon and Barbara Crampton can also be found on the CASTLE FREAK Blu-ray and is fun, it's just weird to have Captain Kirk interviewing these three. Finishing up the extras are HD trailers for REEL HORROR, OOGA BOOGA, TROPHY HEADS, and UNLUCKY CHARMS. 

- Audio Commentary with Jeffrey Combs and Charles Band
- Original Videozone featurette ( 9 Minutes) SD
- Rare William Shatner Interview with Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton (12 Minutes) SD
- Uncut Behind-the-Scenes Footage from the Full Moon Vault (133 Minutes) SD
- Trailers HD 


With the exception of the TOURIST TRAP release and the mystery of the missing five minutes I think that Full Moon have done a fine job of remastering their films for the HD crowd. A fun watch oozing with sorcery and that special brand of b-movie charm. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment 

Region Code: 1
Duration: 89 Minutes
Rating: R 
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Steven R. Monroe 
Cast: Kaitlyn Leeb, Cassi Thomson, Graham Wardle, Hiro Kanagawa 

Here we have the very cute Kaitlyn Leeb playing Maiko, a transfer student in Japan whose birth mother took her own life in the infamous Suicide Forest in Japan. The tragedy has left a Maiko with a void and now she's assembled a crew of student documentary filmmakers to accompany her to the place where her mother died.  The Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan where thousands of people have committed suicide through the years.  

As it turns out this is not just a ceation of the film and is a very real place where 50-100 people commit suicide every year. At some point I watched a VICE video doc on the the suicide forest and it was quite a haunting place, so eerily quiet and littered with evidence of suicides past such as personal belongings and nooses hanging from the trees. So these kids get to the forest and start filming and we get a found-footage flavor right from the start but that pretty quickly falls to the side as the story plays out. They walk deeper into the forest towards the site where Maiko's mother committed suicide but before long before she begins  to see ghostly j-horror apparitions and the group make the acquaintance of a man (Hiro Kanagawa) who knows quite a bit about the forest - maybe a little too much. Additionally some jack-ass pranksters have followed the teens into the woods and they harass the doc crew and disrespect the dead - which is never good Karma. 

This one comes across as BLAIR WITCH PROJECT by way of the EVIL DEAD filtered through a j-horror prism and it's not awful but it certainly is not great either. Directed by Steven R. Monroe who brought us the I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake a few years ago but apparently has been busy making Syfy channels movies ever since - which is exactly what this is - a Syfy produced TV movie. 

For a Syfy movie is pretty damn watchable and the location used for the forest is serene, haunting and quite nice to watch. The acting is pretty decent  and there's a surprising amount of gore for a Syfy film. The effects are decent - the digital stuff towards the end was slightly better than the Roger Corman produced Syfy stuff. The make-up effects of the j-horror inspired ghosties was actually quite good if nothing original. Monroe does manage to create a certain amount of atmosphere but there's little suspense or tension and this is only just watchable and not a memorable experience.

Afterward I was wondering why this was titled GRAVE HALLOWEEN? I didn't catch it the first time around but apparently they are in the woods on Halloween night but it's not relevant to the film in anyway, just a marketing gimmick. 

The disc looks good - the cinematography is quite nice and the transfer is solid but there are no extras on the disc. Not something I would run out to own but maybe a rerun on Syfy on an off night wouldn't be the worst idea ever. Monroe is a competent filmmaker but these made for TV movies just are not doing it for me but this is infinitely better than 12 DISASTERS which he also directed for Syfy. 

DEMONS & DEMONS 2 on Blu-ray 11/11 from SYNAPSE FILMS minus the extras from the SteelBook!

SYNAPSE FILMS are releasing a more stripped down version of their DEMONS and DEMONS 2 SteelBook Editions on November 11th. Same stellar transfer minus the extras...

DEMONS (1985)

Label: Synapse Films

Release Date: November 11th 2014
Duration: 89 Minutes
Region Code: A

Rating: R 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Lamberto Bava
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Geretta Geretta, Bobby Rhodes


From the minds of Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava comes the horrific Heavy Metal splatter film classic, DEMONS! Presented in a stunning new high-definition transfer and re-mastered audio!

A strange masked man offers tickets to a horror movie sneak preview at the mysterious Metropol cinema. When a patron is accidentally scratched by a prop displayed in the lobby, she transforms into a flesh-ripping demon! One by one, the audience members mutate into horrible creatures hell-bent on destroying the world. Can anyone escape this gory orgy of terror? Features an amazing soundtrack of '80s rock/heavy metal by Billy Idol, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Accept, Saxon and MORE!

Bonus Features

- Theatrical Trailer
- Newly translated optional English SDH subtitles

DEMONS 2 (1986)

Label: Synapse Films

Release Date: November 11th 201
Region Code: A

Rating: R
Duration: 92 Minutes
Audio: English 
DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English SDH Subtitles 

Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Lamberto Bava
Stars: David Knight, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Bobby Rhodes, Asia Argento


From the minds of Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava comes DEMONS 2, the sequel to the surprise horror hit, DEMONS! Presented in a stunning new high-definition transfer and re-mastered audio!

There's a scary movie on television and the residents of a luxury high-rise building have their eyes glued to their sets. Unfortunately for a young birthday girl, an eternal demonic evil is released through her TV and partygoers soon find themselves fighting an army of murderous monsters! Acid blood, demonic dogs, possessed children and rampaging zombies wreak havoc for the trapped tenants! Starring Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni (Dario Argento's OPERA), Bobby Rhodes (DEMONS), and a young Asia Argento in her very first film role, DEMONS 2 is a jaw-droppingly gory film from the golden age of Italian "splatter" films! Features an amazing soundtrack of '80s rock/heavy metal by The Smiths, The Cult, Dead Can Dance, Art of Noise, Peter Murphy and MORE!

Bonus Features:
- Theatrical Trailer

- Newly translated optional English SDH subtitles

STAGE FRIGHT (1987) (Exposure Cinema Blu-ray Review)


Region Code: ALL
Duration: 90 Minutes
Rating:  18 Certificate
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Michele Soavi
Cast: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore, Robert Gligorov, Mickey Knox, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, George Eastman

A group of theater actors under the direction of opportunistic director (David Brandon) are rehearsing for a new musical set to open is just a few days. The musical is The Night Owl and involves a serial killer that is raped by his victims. During rehearsals star
Alicia (Barbara Cupisti) injures her ankle and sneaks off to the nearest medical facility for treatment - which just happens to be a sanitarium for the criminally insane. One of the inmates there is a former actor turned serial killer named Irving Wallace who has murdered over a dozen people. Unfortunately for Alicia and her co star Betty (Ulrike Schwerk) the notorious killer escapes the asylum and hitches a ride with the ladies back to the theater unbeknownst to them. The killer dispatches Betty with a pick-ax to the face and her body is discovered by Alicia.

The cops are called in and they haul away the body and reveal that the killer must be the escaped Irving Wallace who murdered a male orderly at the asylum with a syringe to the neck. The authorities station a patrol car outside of the theater and the theater troupe lock themselves in the theater as the opportunistic director attempts to rework the musical to capitalize on the gruesome murder by making the notorious Irving Wallace the villain of the play - unaware that the murderous actor is inside the theater and as bloodthirsty as ever. 

That's the set-up for what is a pretty great late-entry slasher and one of the better Italian films of the era from first-time director Michele Soavi who honed his chops as not only an actor in such films as CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and ALIEN 2 ON EARTH but as the first-assistant director working for Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Terry Gilliam. The man has style and it shows with his first feature film which is an assured, stylish and violent piece of Eurocult cinema. 

The theater troupe provide a fun cast of bitchy characters beginning with a pompous theater director (Brandon) and a sleazy producer Ferrari (Piero Vida) and then there's the cast highlighted by Giovanni Lombardo Radice of CANNIBAL FEROX as a gay actor who trades catty barbs with theater diva Laurel (Mary Sellers) - these two are a fun pair. Much of the other cast are forgettable more or less but they all have memorable deaths so who really cares. 

So we have a ton of awesome visual flourishes but and some obvious nods to Argento including a nice lift from TENEBRE, plus did I mention that the killer Irving Wallace wears an owl-headed mask! Maybe the most outrageous masked killer since the bear mascot in GIRLS NITE OUT! It helps that our killer has access to a wide range of weapons and uses them to their fullest potential, beginning with knifing an actress to death n front of the entire cast - the outfit he's wearing is one of the signature costumes of the musical and no one realizes the deranged actors intentions until the blood starts to flow. So far we've had a syringe to the neck, the pick-ax to the face and now a knife plunged into a a poor starlet' guts and they only get more violent throughout as the killer makes use of a power drill, a hatchet and a chainsaw - some seriously grisly murders that look great on camera. 

Now the script is a bit of a let down but these Italian horrors were never reality based in my

opinion and were quite fantastical. Logic more or less takes a backseat to blood-spattered visuals and gruesome dismemberment and I am alright with that trade-off. The gore gags are delicious and completely make-up for that hilarious and completely unnecessary finale. 

Stylistically this is a gorgeous film with some great stylized lighting, scenes are bathed in electric blue light and the colors are vibrant and very nineteen-eighties, very loud and obnoxious. A particular scene of the killer on stage with his victims displayed around him stands out as something quite special, it is almost hallucinatory as he sits upon a throne admiring the aftermath of his carnage while he strokes a cat named Lucifer as bloody feathers fall from the sky. Adding to the atmosphere of the film is an effective electronic score from composer Simon Boswell who also scored the films DEMONS, DUST DEVIL and PHENOMENA just to name a few. 

Stage Fright arrives on Blu-ray from Exposure Cinema uncut for the first time in the UK
with a brand new restoration, color-timing corrected and produced from original vault elements and I must say that the restoration here is top notch and matches the Blue Underground Blu-ray in all respects. The print is damn near flawless to my eyes and the colors are vibrant with a very pleasing level of clarity. Black levels and shadow detail are strong and there's a fair amount of fine detail in the close-up shots. Currently my Blue Underground disc is out on loan but I must say without the benefit of a side by side comparison this would seem to be equal in all measures. 

The only audio option is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo Mix with optional English subtitles. The presentation is crisp and clean with a nice balance and no distortion. Dialogue is always clear and Simon Boswell's atmospheric score sounds quite nice. 

Minus the 5.1 surround Mix on the Blue Underground disc this is pretty much an even match with that disc - which is also region-free. Let's have a peek at the extras - for many this will be the hand that tips the scale. we begin with a new retrospective documentary with director Michele Soavi and actors Barbara Cupisti and Mary sellers plus screenwriter George Eastman (29 Minutes HD). In Italian with English subtitles. 

Giovanni’s Method - Interview with star Giovanni Lombardo Radice (21 Minutes HD) is on par with the interview on the BU disc with the actor who starred in CANNIBAL FEROX and HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK speaking about meeting Soavi early in his career and stealing a few roles they both auditioned for. In Italian with English subtitles. 

Alan Jones: The Critic’s Take – the critic and FrightFest co-founder discusses the film in detail (29 Minutes HD) features the critic speaking at length about his love of the film and his own experiences with Dario Argento, Soavia and Joe D'Amato. 

There's also a cool Cut Version Comparison (2 Minutes HD) featurette with a split screen comparison of the cut Avatar Video release and the new uncut version, plus the original theatrical trailer and a gallery with behind-the-scenes images and international artwork including the very cool alternate title of THE BLOODY BIRD! 

There are two extras that are not specific to the actual film, first we have the hour-long Joe D’Amato: Totally Uncut (55 Minutes HD) an hour-long interview with the director/producer in Italian with English subtitles that spans his entire career. And a very cool doc Revenge of the Video Cassette - documentary about VHS horror collectors (25 Minutes HD) featuring Dale Lloyd of VivaVHS site - while not specifically commenting on this film I did sneak a peek at a STAGE FRIGHT VHS on his shelves. It's a pretty hip extras with some fun VHS inspired music videos, fashions and fans of the format speaking about their love of all things VHS. There's also a nearly six minute trailer for ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST on the disc in HD!

SPECIAL FEATURES:- Original trailer (2 Minutes HD) 
- Still, poster and behind-the-scenes gallery featuring rare photos and international artwork (8 Minutes, HD)
- Cut Version Comparison (2 Minutes HD)
- A Bloodstained Featherstorm – Interviews with cast and makers, including director Michele Soavi and leading lady Barbara Cupisti (29 Minutes HD)
- Giovanni’s Method - Interview with star Giovanni Lombardo Radice (21 Minutes HD)
- Alan Jones: The Critic’s Take – the critic and FrightFest co-founder discusses the film in detail (29 Minutes HD)
- Joe D’Amato: Totally Uncut – Archival, hour-long interview with the film’s producer on his career in Italian horror cinema (55 Minutes HD)
- Revenge of the Video Cassette - documentary about VHS horror collectors (25 Minutes HD)
- Video Chillers – collector’s illustrated ’80s-style booklet featuring new articles on late gialli and overlooked slashers, trivia and biographies
- Limited Collector’s Edition (3,000 copies)
- Original artwork used on front cover

STAGE FRIGHT is a damn fine slasher film with plenty of Dario Argento esque flourishes, I love that nod to TENEBRE! A fantastic looking film with vibrant neon colors and great lighting with an inspired masked-killer and some brutal violence -  there's just a lot to love about this film. 
This is the first release I've seen from EXPOSURE CINEMA and I am quite impressed. Keep in mind that this edition is limited to 3000 copies so act fast - truth be told I think I prefer the extras on this disc over the Blue Underground release. A top notch release with some great bonus content, a very high recommended.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MARK OF THE DEVIL Uncut BD/DVD to be released in the UK UNCUTon 9/29 from ARROW VIDEO


Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the UK Blu-ray and DVD release of Mark of the Devil, once proclaimed as “positively the most horrifying film ever made”, Mark of the Devil finally arrives uncut in the UK on 29th September 2014 with both English and German audio tracks.

With Mark of the Devil, writer-director Michael Armstrong created a bloody and brutal critique of state-funded brutality and religious corruption with a doomed romance at its centre. The use of real torture implements, which Armstrong had found in the Mauterndorf Museum, added to the realism of the picture and made it all the more shocking and the violence unpalatable. In America Mark of the Devil was distributed with the marketing gimmick of a free sick bag provided for every patron.

In the UK the BBFC were obliged to sit through the entire uncut film and deemed it “vicious and disgusting.” They recommended that a certificate be refused entirely and provided a list of required cuts to make the film acceptable for an X certificate.

Altogether the required cuts amounted to 2,100 feet of film; approximately twenty-four minutes running time.  However, despite being awarded an X certificate, Mark of the Devil never received a theatrical release in the UK. In 1993 Redemption Films resubmitted the uncut film with cuts still demanded which amounted to more than four minutes. Described by the BBFC as a film whose “primary urge is with the dynamics of inquisitorial torture”

Another ten years later a DVD was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment which was also cut, although by only 38 seconds. Three cuts were made to the scene in which the blonde woman is tortured on the rack. The cuts removed her naked breasts as it was an unacceptable combination of sexually titillating and violent images under the BBFC guidelines at that time.

This means that finally, after more than forty years, the full-blooded, full-frontal version of Mark of the Devil can be released onto an unsuspecting UK public making its UK Blu-ray debut on 29th  September 2014 in a newly restored transfer with a host of extra features including an audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell, an exclusive feature-length documentary, Mark of the Times, which looks at the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies. The documentary will feature contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren (Terror), David McGillivray (Frightmare), Professor Peter Hutchings (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman.

Other special features included on the disc include, Hallmark of the Devil, which sees author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas and Mark of the Devil: Now and Then which looks at the film’s locations and how they appear today.

The disc will also feature interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and Herbert Lom. Alongside this, the Blu-ray will also feature outtakes, the original theatrical trailer, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and a sizable collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork.

A bloody and brutal critique of religious corruption, Mark of the Devil sees horror icon Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein, Suspiria) play a witchfinder’s apprentice whose faith in his master (Herbert Lom) becomes severely tested when they settle in an Austrian village. Presided over by the sadistic albino (a memorably nasty turn from Reggie Nalder), the film presents its morality not so much in shades of grey as shades of black.
Written and directed by Michael Armstrong, who would later pen Eskimo Nell, The Black Panther and House of the Long Shadows, this classic shocker has lost none of its power over the years – especially now that British audiences can finally see it in one piece.

- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements – available uncut in the UK for the first time!
- Optional English and German audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Newly translated English subtitles for the German audio
- Audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell
Mark of the Times – exclusive feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions on the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies, featuring contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren (Terror), David McGillivray (Frightmare), Professor Peter Hutchings (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman
Hallmark of the Devil – author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas
- Interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and Herbert Lom
Mark of the Devil: Now and Then – a look at the film’s locations and how they appear today
- Outtakes
- Gallery
- Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork

Release Date: Monday 29th September 2014
Certificate: 18
Formats: Blu-ray and DVD
Language: English / Geran
Running Time : 108 minute
Number of Discs: 2
Region: A/B (Blu-ray)1/2 (DVD)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: 1.0 Mono