Friday, July 31, 2015



Label: IFC Midnight
Region Code: 1 

Duration: 83 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Seth Grossman
Cast: Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, Kate Whitney, Brian Flaherty, Colleen McGrann, Christopher Parker 

Demon possession and found-footage have been around for awhile now, apparently in the minds of young filmmakers they go together like peanut butter and chocolate,  but most of them just aren't that great in my opinion. I typically proceed with caution coming into these found-footage movies, which might be unfair, but once you've been burned numerous times by a well-worn trend you'd be foolish not, fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on me, as they say. 

The movie has a pretty standard set-up, a teenage drug addict Carson (Lara Vosburgh) is followed by a documentary crew whom are there to document how the teen went from straight-a Catholic schoolgirl to straight-up heroin addict. After a few days of observing her behaviors at home and interviewing friends and family she agrees to committed to a rehab facility. The documentary producer thinks they've struck ratings gold when she announces that she believes herself to be a  victim of demon possession. The producer is just so excited about this turn of events, of course she doesn't believe Carson is demon-possessed, she chalks it up to drug-induced weirdness, but she is absolutely ready to exploit Carson illness just the same. 

This is very much how I imagine these type of reality-based TV programs are, I imagine HLN's Nancy Grace waking up each morning and reading the newspaper, wringing her hands with delight when another child is victimized or murdered, because without the misery of the world these people would have very little to do with themselves, they hunger for and feast upon how awful the world can be, and that is why I despise those types of "news" programs. 

Once Carson is admitted to the rehab facility we meet her fellow addicts, a collection of junkies, pill-poppers and sex addicts who welcome her into the group, but sort of turn on her when she confesses she might be demon-possessed. Perhaps unsurprisingly these junkies, each going through their own drug withdrawal, can be a surly bunch, but I probably would too if someone started pulling my darkest secrets from out of nowhere and sharing them with my recovery group, which happens in a very Exorcist sort of way during a group meeting.

As the movie plays out we get some back story about Carson's home life, like the fact that her father is a recovering alcoholic with anger management issues, and how those might feed into the young woman's own issues. Later a school friend reveals the possible origins of her addiction and strange behavior, which of course has been caught on-camera.  A production assistant on the crew named Jason (Morgan McClellan) seems to be the only one who believes that there could be something to this demon possession things after all, his character is set-up early on as someone who might be drawn towards troubled woman, and he's got his work cut out for him with Carson, whom he develops a fondness for. 

I could never quite get a good read on the parents, if they believed it or not, but the rest of the documentary team and the doc at the rehab certainly don't. Of course the foreign nurse at the rehab clinic recognizes the signs of possession, in a very stereotyped portrayal with her coming from a primitive culture of course she would believe in such things, and is fired when she performs an impromptu cleansing. 

Most of the documentary crew are very minor characters, even Jason seems somewhat unneeded, and the feeling her develops for Carson come on a bit too fast, it goes from curiosity about her to overly emotional attachment in a heartbeat, it felt forced, but it didn't ruin it for me, just annoyed me.  

As a documentary style found-footage film we have plenty of the typical cam-footage that is captured both hand-held and from the POV of wall-mounted security cameras, plus an MTV Real World-styled confessional camera, all of which capture the ebb and flow of Carson's decent into demonic possession. At times she struggles to fight the influence, other times the evil inside takes over and she begins to exhibit more violent and strange behaviors, some of which are quite violent, nearly biting off the fingers of the film crew at one point. 

Lara Vosburgh is pretty great in the role of the troubled teen addict, she carries the film and does a balances the troubled teen struggling with addiction and demon possession about as well as I could imagine, I don't think I rolled my eyes even once, and that's a god sign. 
Things build to a decent finale with an appropriately freaky, violent and abrupt ending to the course of events, for those who have seen even just a handful of found-footage movies there are very few surprises to be had in my opinion, but it is well-assembled and the family drama and bizarre happening kept me tuned it right up to the end despite a sort of slow beginning. 3.5/5

Thursday, July 30, 2015



Label: Artsploitation Films

Region Code: 1
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Jay Lee, Jim Roof
Cast: Jim Roof, Shannon Malone, Larissa Lynch, Liz Burghdorf, Andrew Hopper

Synopsis: It’s Henry – Portrait of a Serial Killer meets This is Spinal Tap in the gory mockumentary THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES, the grisliest, darkest horror-comedy ever imaginable. Ed and Susan are just your average, middle-class American suburban married couple: they have their quirks, their romantic moments, their hobbies. One of these hobbies has even turned into a small business venture for the couple…because Ed and Susan are also serial killers who sell snuff videos of their crimes through the Internet underground. Since Ed is determined that their next video will surpass all of their previous work, he has decided that it will feature three kills in one night – but after they abduct their intended victims, things don’t go as planned. Filmed entirely through the perspective of Ed’s many cameras, and labeled “one of the greatest horror films of the century” by Film Radar, this film is as shocking as it is slyly satirical about violence and media exploitation.

I love Artsploitation Films and the strange brew of cinema they're known for, each release

offers something different, they're a pretty fantastic distributor and 2015 has been a fantastic year for the label. I've been on board with pretty much everything they've done so far, but this one for whatever reason sat on my shelf for weeks before I could muster up the enthusiasm to watch it. I think that owes a lot to the found-footage aesthetic of it, and I think I am might have been going through a bit of a cinema verite fatigue there for a little while, so I just put it aside until I felt I could watch it without any baggage, and today was that day. 

My fears were unfounded, true there's a glut of found footage out there but like the eternal wellspring of zombie movies there is always someone out there doing something new with it, for every five shit films you might find a gem among the shale, and such is the case with The House with 100 Eyes, a mockumentary along the lines of The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon, a documentary that takes you behind the scenes with serial killers Ed and Susan, a demented couple who operate and underground film studio they call Studio Red, a distributor who offers quality snuff films with all the special features you would expect from a straight studio film, and I thought that was a fun conceit, and a darkly funny one at that. 

Ed and Susan are a blast to watch, the film opens with them filming an intro of sorts for the latest film project, a triple feature snuff film - the first of it's kind. They are attempting to kill three people in one night at the same time. They inform us of their intentions and describe how their home has been set-up with numerous hidden camera, additionally it has been sound proofed, and comes complete with a nightmare torture chamber and a porn-styled studio with a mattress on the floor and a simple camera set-up. As they go about their preparations for the event we are treated to shots from the hidden cameras as they apply make-up, make the morning coffee and assemble their murder-van kit, before they head on out to Hollywood Boulevard to find three tens who are willing to come back to their place to shoot amateur porn for a few hundred dollars. The first pass doesn't go so well, Ed is pretty anxious and when one of the disinterested teens throws some sarcasm his way he threatens to eviscerate them, leaving his wife to calm him down and reminding him they;d best leave the area before the cops show up. 

Eventually the twisted couple do find three teens willing to make some amateur porn and bring them back to their place where things start off surprisingly well at first, all their preparations seem to be paying off.  However, things begin to fall apart when one of the young women begins to lose her nerve, expressing her desire to back out. She is quietly escorted to the torture chamber where Ed subjects her to some squirm inducing punishment, which he delights in to no end, he has a child like  enthusiasm for violence. Back in the porn room things are further delayed when the young man blows his load in the shower before shooting the porn, which sends Ed right over the edge, worried he won't get his money-shot for the movie. 

Ed has a deep need for the porn along with his torture films, an earlier scene shows Ed sitting alone in the living room while watching a previously taped torture sessions while furiously masturbating to the grisly images and the excruciating sounds of screaming, it's a very dark scene. His wife on the other hand is more of a poisoner, she's just itching to inject someone with something, which is at odds with Ed's intentions, several times during the film he questions what she's injecting into their victims, making sure that she is only sedating them and not poisoning them, apparently she's prematurely poisoned victims before, which ruined the movies. 

Shannon Malone is pretty fantastic as Sue, a crazy-eyed blond who seems just a little off, as you might expect of a serial killer, but there's some kind of extra crazy in her performance, something subtle but very clear. During an earlier scene she is narrating while she applies make-up in the bathroom, explaining how her mother taught her to give a good man everything he wants, but to give bad men exactly what they deserve, which feeds into the story later on when her and Ed are odds with each other.

Special Features:
-  Audio Commentary with Director/Actor Jim Roof and Director/Cinematographer Jay Lee
- Trailer(2 Mins)
- Ed's Studio Red Sizzle Reel (2 Mins
- Ed's Studio red Gag Reel (8 Mins) 

- Artsploitation Trailers

I enjoyed this one a lot, a pitch black satire and a fun watch. T he finale reveals itself long before its meant to but I loved the vibe and the inherent comedy herein, the actors portraying the demented couple to a great job nailing the specific tone this movie required, if you like myself are maybe fatigued by the glut of the found-footage horror films on the market right now you might be surprised by The House with 100 Eyes and what it has to offer,a recommend, particularly if you enjoyed The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon which mines similar territory. 3/5



Label: Scorpio Film Releasing Region Code: Region-FREE 
Duration: 83 Minutes
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 
Director: Richard Griffin
Cast: Nat Sylva, Steven O'Broin, Aaron Andrade, Anna Rizzo, Dan Mauro, Johnny Sederquist, Tiffany Lee Ferris
Richard Griffin must be one of the most prolific makers of low-budget b-movie genre pictures out there today, averaging about three finished feature and short films a year. His latest movie Future Justice (2014)  is a tasty no-budget riff on John Carpenter's Escape from New York, and stars Nat Sylva (Murder University) as the bad ass anti-hero Python Dallas, a dangerous insurrectionist who at the start of the film is imprisoned on Saturn's moon of Titan. He's in the process of being transported back to Earth to answer for his crimes, but what exactly those crimes are exactly is a bit of mystery throughout the movie, we have numerous references to an incident that happened in Baltimore that ended with a high body count, but it keeps a bit of mystery about it. 

En route to Earth Python is interrogated by Major Uxbridge (Aaron Andrade) who clearly has contempt for the war criminal, though the tougher he gets the more sarcastic Python becomes, which only further enrages the Major. Approaching Earth the crew are unable to establish radio contact with anyone back at the base command, it soon becomes apparent that the Earth has fallen victim to some apocalyptic nuclear event, the cities lay in ruin and the few survivors left alive scrap over food and scramble for shelter. 

Arriving on the Earth Python is coerced into joining the crew on the surface on a mission to search for survivors. Eventually they find a small group who scientist and various survivors who have banded together and are holed-up in the basement of a building. Opposition arrives in the form of a motley crew of post-nuke pirates headed by baddie Gazebo (Steven O’Broin), a sneering Southern-fried menace who leads a band of redneck outlaws armed with lasers and explosive-tipped crossbow darts. 

Adding to the menace is the threat of a tunnel dwelling mutant-human who oozes irradiated goo, the creature appears from time to time to claim a victim. 

Richard Griffin is channelling the 80s sci-fi action films of his and our youth and the result is a ton of cheap b-movie fun anchored by the fun performances of Nathaniel Sylva, obviously channeling his inner Snake Plisken, and baddie Steven O’Broin, both do a fantastic job in their roles, neither of which requires much depth but it makes for fun action-movie caricatures . 

The special effects of the movie by John C. Dusek are wonderfully cheesy and pretty dated - which is keeping within the Scorpio Film Releasing aesthetic we've come to know and love 'em for through the years. The opening title credit sequence is fantastic, the retro sci-fi font and the accompanying score does a bang-up job of channeling vintage 80s science fiction with plenty of Carpenter's Escape from New York with maybe a little Richard Band thrown into the mix, kudos to Daniel Hildreth for the awesome score, it adds a lot of texture to the movie. 

The opening scenes in outer space are early 90s computer graphics type stuff that might illicit a chuckle, and that's not unfair, its part of the charm of the production, and I think both a result of necessity and design - one of the opening scenes of Python encased in ice -- or crinkled plastic wrap more precisely, made me laugh, it might just be the worse effect of the film, but I still loved it. The command center of the ship is a tight and cramped space, which is straight out of John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon's seminal low-budget science fiction student film Dark Star (1974), a film which surely must have been an inspiration for Griffin.

Special Features:
- Commentary Track with Director, Producer, Cast and Crew
- Short Film 'Mutants of the Apocalypse' (7 Mins)
- Trailer ( 3 Mins) 

A post-apocalyptic science fiction movie is pretty damn difficult to do on what amounts to a shoe-string budget, and this is proof of how challenging it can be. Sure, it has a lot of warts on the surface but I loved the concept and the spirit of the execution, it's hard to convey a nuclear wasteland when your back lot is green with vegetation, but they make a real go for it anyway, and the end result is a shit ton of retro-80s sci-fi apocalypse fun. 2.5/5



Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight 

Release Date: August 4th 2015
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated 

Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Cast: Bianca Bradey, Jay Gallagher, Keith Agius, Leon Burchill, Berryn Schwerdt, Luke McKenzie

This low-budget slice of Ozploitation zombie-apocalyptic cinema is high-octane and gore-soaked right from the opening scenes, a seizure inducing action-sequence with kinetic editing that throws up right into a hornet's nest of gnashing zombie teeth. Then it takes a breather to set-up the characters of the film and explain how the zombie apocalypse started, sort of. 

We have a family man named Barry (Jay Gallagher) at home with his smart-mouthed teen daughter and lovely wife, miles away his photographer sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) is in a garage shooting a model painted up in Day of the Dead make-up, and an wise-cracking Aborigine Benny (Leon Burchill) who is on a hunt in the Outback with his brother. That night a comet breaks-up over Earth and just about everyone on Earth is transformed into fart-mouthed zombies who crave human flesh. 

Obviously not everyone one is transformed into the undead, a certain select few seem to have an immunity to the plague, such is the case with Benny, Brooke and Bennie. Early on Brooke is kidnapped by what seems to be the military and brought to the lab of a mad scientist known only as The Doctor (Berryn Schwerdt), a strange bird in a bright yellow contamination suit who keeps a mix of infected and the immune chained to the walls of his lab, carrying out demented experiments, maybe meant to save the world, or maybe he's just an evil loon. The Doc loves to play awful pop music while prancing around the lab, injecting fluid from the zombies brain straight into Brooke's brain, not sure what the intended effect was but I am pretty sure it wasn't meant to give her mind control over the zombies, which it does. 

While Brooke's left on her own for a bit both Benny and Barry must kill their loved ones who have become infected and eventually meet up with each other and then find a shack where three survivors are holed up, lead by Frank (Keith Agius). Teaming-up with the trio they group discover that for unknown reasons - there's a lot of those in this movie - all fuel has become inert and will not combust - rendering all vehicle useless, until they realize they can harness the methane-spewing zombies as a fuel source, brilliant. At this point the boys set out in search of Barry's sister and must contend with not just the vapor-mouthed chompers running around but military who just seem to want to utilize them for their twisted experiments, they don't seem to keen on saving any survivors really.

Had a lot of fun with this one, there's still some life left in the land of the undead, particularly in Australia where they now how to make a kinetic and gore-soaked zombie-apocalypse movie, complete with Raimi-esque armor-up montages, the aesthetic of the film definitely has an old school Sam Raimi by way of Peter Jackson vibe about it, with a smattering of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake thrown in, plus it has that weird aesthetic that you can only find in Australia, a visual flavor that adds a lot of punch to the movie. 

Thankfully there's a crocs ass full of practical special effects on display with loads of pulp gore blowing-up in your face, this is a very bloody movie, with the only negative really being the digital head shots we so often see in these low-budget movies, it's forgivable but it's there just the same. The look of the zombies brought to mind possessed Ash from Evil Dead II with the pronounced, sunken-in eye-sockets and the white of the eyes, with tiny pin-prick pupils, very simple but effective, I also enjoyed the way the vapor-mouthed creatures screeched, very similar to the way the Bennell screeched at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), again, simple but effective.

The cast are pretty one-dimensional with not a lot of depth and that too is something I can look past with a zombie movie. Barry a man of few words but a true badass, Brooke is a tattooed ass-kicker, and Benny is the wisecracking comedy relief. The military and the scientist are just evil for the sake of being evil, without the baggage of having to state that it's for the greater good every five seconds, nope, they're just bad people. 

Filmed over the course of four years the fact that this is as fun, let alone coherent, is quite an accomplishment in my book. While the budgetary constraints of the production shows through it's easy to forgive a few small flaws all in the name of a badass ozploitation zombie movie, I really loved this damn movie. 

Audio/Video: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of another IFC MIdnight and Scream Factory team-up, we get a very strong HD transfer framed in the original widescreen aspect ratio with some solid eye-popping 1080p goodness, the close-up shows a fantastic amount of detail on the characters faces, you can see every pore and glistening bead of sweat up close and personal. The color scheme seems to shift a few times throughout the movie, one dusky scene in particlar is desaturated to near black and white, but overall this one is vibrant and the colors are strong with reds and green popping off the screen.

Audio chores are capabley handled by an English language DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround Sound mix which is aggressive and powerful with strong use of the surrounds, creating an experience that envelopes you, dialogue is clean and clear and the score from composer Michael Lira is top-notch. There's also a DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo audio option and optional English SDH subtitles are provided. 

Onto the extras this one packs quite a bit onto the single Blu-ray disc beginning with an audio commentary by the very enthusiastic Roache-Turner Brothers who clearly loved making the movie, this was quite obviously passion project for the spirited brothers. 

As this was a crowd-funded film we get a selection of material designed to help raise funds for the film including an eight-minute teaser scene and two Wyrmwood Production Pitches totaling about ten-minutes in length. There are also twenty-minutes of deleted scenes, a collection of storyboards, a pair of trailers for the movie, and a forty-nine minute making of doc with loads of behind-the-scene footage. The packaging includes a cardboard slipcover for the Blu-ray case and a sleeve of reversible artwork.  

Special Features
- Audio Commentary With The Roache-Turner Brothers
- The Wyrmdiaries: Behind The Scenes Of WYRMWOOD Featurette (49 Mins) HD 
- 2 Crowdfunding Videos: Wyrmwood Production Pitch (10 Mins) HD 
- Deleted Scenes (20 Mins) HD 
- 7-Minute Teaser Scene (8 Mins) HD 
- Storyboards By The Director (2 Mins, 19 Images) HD
- 2 Trailers (4 Mins) HD 

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is a pretty fantastic slice of undead Ozploitation cinema, it comes at you fast and hard with a action-packed mix of horror, gore and comedy all wrapped up in a nice Blu-ray package with a very nice A/V presentation and entertaining bonus content from IFC Midnight and Scream Factory, this is by far the best zombie film I have seen this year. 3.5/5

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Label: Cinelicious Pics
Region Code: A
Duration: 159 min (Part 1), 158 min (Part 2)
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: Hindi DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, Hindi PCM Audio 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.37:1) 
Director:  Anurag Kashyap
CastHuma Qureshi, Richa Chaddha, Satya Anand, Jaideep Ahlawat, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Manoj Bajpai, Piyush Mishra

Gangs of Wasseypur (2013) marks my first foray into any sort of Bollywood movie, for all my years of watching and loving foreign films not one Bollywood movie has happened across my path, not even one of those weird Mondo Macabro horror movies. 
Which might be my loss after having viewed this engrossing Indian crime saga, a movie laced with crime drama, nuanced moments of tenderness, and punctuated by a somewhat shocking amount of violence. The movie was directed by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and is now available through Cinelicious Pics on a gorgeous two-disc Blu-ray set. . 

The movie opens with a thrilling night time siege as armed men surround the palace home of a known crime figure, they properly thrash the home with a barrage of gunfire and grenades with the intention of killing anyone and everyone inside, thus opens a seriously fantastic crime film that spans seventy-years and three generation of gangsters in the city of Wasseypur, India.

Afterward a narrator explains the history of the town beginning in 1941 during an era of British Colonial rule, a time when train-robber Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) masqueraded as a well-known bandit, but when tribal leaders discover his deceit they banish him from the town Wasseypur. He and his wife move to the neighboring mine town of Dhanbad, where he Shahid finds employment working in a coal mine. A short time later his beloved wife dies giving birth to their only child, a son named Sardar. Shahid missed the birth because of his child and his wife's last moments because a guard at the mine would not let him leave, in retaliation he murders the guard. A few years later the British government relinquishes control over the area and the lucrative coal mines are sold to the corrupt industrialist Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia), who hires Shahid as an enforcer at the mine, his vicious methods earn him a certain amount of fear-inspired respect among the community. 

However, as Shahid's power grows he begins to pose a threat to the rule of Ramadhir Singh, sensing the imposing threat the industrialist has him murdered, with further plans to also kill his son, who is rescued by Nasir, an assistant loyal to his father before. Unable to find the boy the assassin reports back to Ramadhir Singh that the boy has been murdered and buried, though in reality Nasir raises the boy in a neighboring village. When the boy arrives at a certain age he learns of the treachery of Ramadhir Singh  and swears bloody vengeance against the industrialist, vowing to keep his head shaved until he has avenged his father's death. 

Years pass by and Ramadhir Singh becomes a powerful crime boss masquerading as a politician and industrialist. A now mature Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) begins working for the Singh crime family, who do not yet realize that he is the son of the man that Ramadhir Singh murdered many years earlier. The truth of his lineage is revealed when a notable umbrella makes this point clear to all involved. This sets up the war between the families and when the drama begins to unfold before our eyes is magnetic. Not only is there a jarring amount violence and tension throughout, but there's some great drama in the life of Sardar, a horny man with two wives and several children between them. As Sardur and Singh each rise to power both are feared and respected in the community, with Sardur becoming the more feared of the two, which motivates Singh to assassinate the crime boss before he becomes more of a threat. Manoj Bajpai is captivating in every scene, such an intense looking man with piercing eyes, you can feel the intensity through the screen, his story was far and away my favorite of the bunch, but the story as a whole and the arcs of each of the characters are great, no one is give short shrift. 

At this point we are only in 1980s and this epic blood feud lasts through the 2000s, the scope of this is just epic and so too is the run time, the movie clocks in at over five and half hours and it's a marathon of violent crime cinema, but the story is so damn engrossing that you will dread the end of the story. After the not unexpected fall of Sadar we follow the rise and fall of his three sons, particularly that of Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a stoner for most of the film following a traumatic childhood experience, he is forever seen puffing away on his drug of choice lost in a haze of smoke, he seemed an unlikely choice to succeed the thrown of his father but his story is edge of your seat fantastic, not since the Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy has a crime saga been so deftly executed, a story nuanced with interesting characters and surprising moments of subtlety and violence. 

This is no horror story but the violence punctuates the picture frequently, the bullets fly fast and furious, as do the physical punishments visited upon the characters, with a steady supply of grisly beheadings, castration and a myriad of blunt force trauma. 

Audio/Video: The movie arrives on Blu-ray in North America from Cinelicious Pics and looks amazing. The two part movie is spread out over two Blu-ray discs with a highly detailed HD image loaded with vibrant Indian colors, the gorgeous cinematography is mesmerizing. 

The Hindi language DTS-HD MA 5.1 sounds superb, the musical numbers are great, and I thank the Lord for subtitling, or I might never have known how damn fun, kinky and violent the lyrics were. There's plenty of surround sound action with the various gunshots, explosions and rain storms coming in through the surrounds with pleasing clarity, this is a fantastic Blu-ray release with a great A/V presentation. 

Extras on the disc include an audio commentary which is conducted in English, with Director Anurag Kashyap, Actors Huma Qureshi and Richa Chaddha, Composer Sneha Khanwalkar, Lyricist Varun Grover, Associate Director Anubhuti Kashyap, and Assistant Director Neeraj Ghaywan, plus a trailer for the film and a 12-page Booklet with photos and an essay by Aseem Chhabra which added a lot of context to the movie for me, having no background in Indian cinema I found this very informative.  

Special Features: 

 - Audio Commentary with Director Anurag Kashyap, Actors Huma Qureshi and Richa Chaddha, Composer Sneha Khanwalkar, Lyricist Varun Grover, Associate Director Anubhuti Kashyap, and Assistant Director Neeraj Ghaywan
- Official Trailer (2 Min) 
- 12-page Booket with photos and an essay by Aseem Chhabra

This is a fascinating watch, the scale crime epic is massive on all accounts, both in the depth of the characters and in the duration of the movie. I came into this one completely blind I was blown away from the first frame to the last, this is an outstanding movie on all fronts. It might sound strange to say, but the scale of the movie is so grand and the depth of the characters so deep, that I am looking forward to re watching this one, it might require a few viewings to fully appreciate the scope and depth of it. 4/5

Friday, July 24, 2015



In September Vinegar Syndrome will be bringing the odd French/American co-production splatter film NIGHTMARE WEEKEND (1986) to Blu-ray/DVD in a brand new (and much brighter) 2K restoration! 

Then in October they will be releasing the Blu-ray debuts of Norman Thaddeus Vane's FRIGHTMARE (1983) and Alfredo Zacharias' DEMONOID (1981) (featuring both the domestic and international cuts of the film!). 

Also slated for October is Phillip Marshak's supremely weird hybrid of detective drama, film noir, light sci-fi, hardcore sex and Nazisploitation, BLUE ICE (1985).

Wednesday, July 22, 2015



Label: Olive Films
Region Code: A
Rating: PG
Duration: 104 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Mark L. Lester
Cast: Linda Blair, James Van Patten, Mark Goddard, Beverly Garland

While I could never roller skate to save my life and I loathed disco music I must say that this is a fun slice of throwaway Seventies entertainment, a corny time capsule from a time when satin shirts, huge headphones, knee-high socks and the bubbly beat of disco ruled the landscape. 

Roller Boogie stars Linda Blair (The Exorcist) as bratty Terry Barkley, a flute-blowing musical prodigy in sunny California surrounded by snobbish friends who just don't understand her. One fine day down at the Venice Beach Boardwalk she meets a young roller skater named Bobby James (Tim Bray),  but she won't give the poor guy the time of day despite his best efforts. That all changes when Bobby later saves Terry from a skating accident at the local roller rink, a happening place for rollers called Jammers. 

Now intrigued by the young man Terry offers to pay Bobby to teach her how to roller skate, which the horny young man is only too happy to so. Bobby hopes to mold the foxy young lady into his partner in time for the upcoming roller disco contest at Jammers. Unfortunately the mafia is coercing the owner of roller rink to sell, now the contest - and Bobby's Olympic skating dreams - might just go up in smoke if the disco-loving teens cannot find a way to save the day. 

This slice of roller boogie confection has all the goofy charm of an episode of Scooby-Doo with mobbed-up bad guys and corny seventies fashions set to the non-stop sounds of that sweet disco music, not to mention plenty of fun choreographed roller-routines which are executed pretty well, it made me sort of jealous.

The acting is pretty awful across the board, even from the very capable Linda Blair, who at this point in her career was probably loaded with a nasal cavity full of rock candy. As someone who vehemently does loathes disco music I must say that I did sort of enjoy watching this, disco music reminds me of my mom, who I am quite sure loved this movie. It's a fun slice of disco corniness loaded with copious amounts of standard teen-love conventions such as lovers from the opposite side of the tracks, parents who just don't understand, friends who are snobbish, and some truly golden-brick dialogue from Blair who at one point screams at her Valium popping mother, "So what, I'm a musical genius! Whatta drag! Whatta bummer!". Not a good movie, but an pretty enjoyable bad movie if you are into such things.

The movie arrives on Blu-ray from distributor Olive Films with a solid HD transfer framed in the original widescreen aspect ratio with some very nice sharpness and clarity to it. Color reproduction is solid through and through, the garish 70s fashions pop off the screen and the skin tones look good, a very nice transfer. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono sound mix is just good enough, clean and well balanced, but the mono mix is flat and the disco soundtrack is not all that it could have been.There are no subtitle options, and no extras to speak of, a pretty standard bare bones release from Olive Films. 2/5



Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 313 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen, Fullframe
Director: Arch Oboler, John Brahm, Leslie Kardos, Anthony Bushell
Cast: Vincent Price, Victor Jory, Christopher Lee, Eva Gabor, John Emery, Yvonne Monlaur

Mill Creek Entertainment have licensed four somewhat scarce movies from the Columbia Pictures catalog and released them as a 2-disc horror movie collection that's priced just right for the budget-minded collector's out there.

FIVE (1951) 
B/W - 93 Mins -  Not Rated - Fullscreen 

Starring: William Phipps, Susan Douglas, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin, Earl Lee

We start off with the very strong Five (1951), a post-nuclear war tale of five survivors who come together after the bombs have fall, oddly the weapons of mass destruction don't seem to have caused much distraction at all from what we see, but this weird aspect at least allows our survivors to enjoy a somewhat romanticized version of the nuclear Holocaust, able to garden and eat the wildlife, there doesn't see to be much of any radiation, though we do get a few radiation sickness issues throughout, but the threat is very small. 

The five survivors converge on a small rural home located in the Mountains, our first survivor is a young pregnant woman who was in a lead lines x-ray room at the time of the blast, she makes her way from the city into the rural countryside to the rural home where she grew up, once she arrives she discovers a man already living there, his story is that he was in an elevator on the top of the Empire State Building . A short time later two men arrive, they were employees of a bank trapped inside the vault when the bombs dropped. The four create a somewhat idyllic life for themselves for a few week, until a day trip to the beach introduces a German who has washed-up on the beach. 

The group take him back to the mountaintop home and things seem fine, but we slowly come to realize that the new arrival is a racist and looks down upon a black member of the home. This causes disharmony among the group, some more forgiving than others, as loyalties are torn the group begins to disintegrate with disastrous consequences. 

This is a pretty great character study of a small disparate group of survivors after the bombs have dropped, though the larger world views in quite unrealistic, but as a character study this is good stuff and highly recommended. 

B/W - 72 Mins -  Not Rated - Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Starring: Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor, John Emery, Donald Randolph, Lenita Lane

The second feature is The Mad Magician (1954) starring horror legend Vincent Price as magician Gallico the Great, a good man turned diabolical by the corruption of those around him and his desire for revenge. This quickly assembled follow-up to the huge success of House of Wax a year earlier absolutely feels like a quick cash grab but it pulls through on the hammy charm of Mr. Vincent Price. 

On the night that the magician is about to exhibit his newest creation, The Lady and the Buzz Saw, the show is called to a stop by the magicians employer who lays claim to all of his magic inventions. Adding insult to injury the employer has stolen the suffering magician's wife years earlier -- there's only so much a man can take! 

At the end of his rope Gallico murders his employer using the very same buzz saw contraption he would steal, afterward Gallico disguises himself as the murdered man through truly impressive make-up effects to carry on his career as a magician, but his former wife, played by Eva Gabor, threatens to throw a wrench into his plans. When the movie premiered in '54 it was shown in stereoscopic 3D, unfortunately we do not get to benefit from a three-dimensional presentation on this disc, but the black and white transfer is solid, sourced from a clean print with very nice contrast. 

B/W - 71 Mins - Not Rated - Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Starring: Victor Jory, William Hudson, Charlotte Austin, Jean Willes, Ann Doran, Paul Cavanagh

The Man who Turned to Stone (1957) concerns young women at a reformatory school where there seems to be a high mortality rate, turns out that the keepers of the school are a group of doctors from the 1800's whom have survived the centuries by draining the life from young women through a chemical bath, if the doctors fail to revitalize themselves in a timely manner they will turn into stone and cease to exist. 

When a doctor and a social worker at the school begin to question the high mortality rate after a questionable staged suicide things begin to fall apart for the immortal doctors, compounded by a growing sense of guilt and regret from within their group.  Unfortunately this one is quite a snoozer and it put me to sleep more than once as I repeatedly endeavored to watch it, which is never a good sign. 

Color - 76 Mins -Not Rated - Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Starring: Christopher Lee, Yvonne Monlaur, Geoffrey Toone, Marne Maitland, Brian Worth, Ewen Solon

The final entry is the only color production on this two-disc set, Hammer Films production of The Terror of the Tongs (1961), an unfortunate entry which sees Hammer straying from the familiar Gothic horror to dip their toes into the Asian crime waters. It's not the first time we've seen Christopher Lee is slant-eyed prosthetics either, years later he would once again become a yellow-devil for the Eurocult pioneer Jess Franco in The Blood of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu. How this ended up under the category of "classic horror" is beyond me but at least the transfer is very good and there's some laugh-out loud ludicrousness to enjoy as the mostly European cast struggle or outright refuse to mask their accents. 

This is a cool collection of somewhat scarce movies from Columbia Pictures, the quality of each vary wildly but for me it is worth nine0bucjks just for the inclusion of Arch Oboler's Five (1951), having the The Mad Magician (1954) is just icing on the cake> While I didn't care for The Man Who Turned to Stone or the Fu Manch shenanigans of Hammer's The Terror of the Tongs (1961) I still give this one a minor recommend based on my enjoyment of the first half of this vintage foursome of terror and the very reasonable price point. 2.5/5



Monster Pictures I MVD Visual
Region Code: 1 NTSC

Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Travis Bain
Cast: Vernon Wells, Melanie Serafin, Anthony Ring, Shawn Brack

We begin with a funny scene of an Asian immigrant panning for gold in a stream sometime in the early 1800s, the lucky prospector finds a nice nugget of gold in his pan, but no sooner has he found it than a bushranger comes along and swipes it from him at gunpoint. A few moments later the thief has the pilfered nugget taken away from him in a nice Karmic moment by another bushranger, the dreaded ‘Thunderclap Newman’. Unfortunately for all three they are savaged and killed by a fearsome creature which turns out to be a Yowie, the Australian Aboriginal folklore version of Bigfoot , that's right, we have a bonafide Ozploitation version of a Bigfoot movie on our hands.

Moving forward to the modern age and we have a pair of would-be fortune hunters named Jack (Shawn Brack) and Kent (Anthony Ring) in search of the fabled treasure of the aforementioned bushranger, ‘Thunderclap Newman’, in the wilds of Queensland, Australia, which they actually do find. Things quickly turns for the worse when one of the treasure seekers tuns against the other in a moment of murderous greed, but they must also fight for their lives to survive the dreaded mythical Yowie who prowls the valley.

The movie is very low-budget and it shows through in nearly every scene, which is not to say that it is awful, but it's not short on very high-end digital video and if you aren't use to the lo-fi HD aesthetic it might be a bit of a hurdle to overcome. While this may be on the higher-end of dirt cheap it is what it is. It didn't ruin it for me though, thanks in no small part to strong cast of unknowns who deliver some pretty decent dialogue, there's something about the way that Australians deliver their dialogue I just love. Anthony Ring and Shawn Brack have a good rapport with each other and the exchanges ring true enough, though once the betrayal sets in I don't think either show enough malice towards each other considering the life and death nature of the adversaries.  

Along the way they encounter a forest ranger named Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin) and a detective investigating the disappearance of at least nine people in the area, Detective McNab is played by Ozploitation veteran Vernon Welles who you will definitely remember as "Wez" in The Road Warrior, a classic 80s villain. While his cameo is fun it doesn't exactly add a lot to the story. but if I ever make a low-budget movie and I was able to wrangle someone along the lines of Vernon Welles you know I would do it in a heartbeat. Serafin also doesn't add a lot to the story but is decent just the same, not given a lot to do but no harm. At ninety-three minutes this ends up being a bit long in the tooth and would have made a better film eighty-three minute film with better pacing a tighter editing. 

The creature design of the Yowie is honestly pretty rough, a more simian version of Bigfoot that is only glimpsed for the most part, usually obscured by trees and whatnot, and I think that was a wise move on the part of the director. I do love the idea of the Australian Aboriginal folklore version of Bigfoot but I do wish that Bain had had more funds to properly put it onscreen and maybe amp up the gore a bit, this one is very gore-poor and I think some blood and guts would have been welcome.

The  Queensland Tropical Rainforests of Australia look fantastic even with the lower-end digital cinematography, gorgeous green scenery that adds a lot of production value to the movie, the views are fantastic and are captured quite nicely with good framing and shot composition. It's too easy to kick back and knit pick the deficits of the movie, but keep in mind that Director Travis Bain was pretty much a one-man film crew during the production, who wrote, produced, directed, shot and edited the low-budget movie, which is quite an accomplishment. Surprisingly the one thing he did not do was compose the score, while I was watching the movie the score sounded so familiar to me, I kept thinking to myself that someone did a pretty good job of channeling Richard Band (Re-Animator), I was surprised when I peeked at the credits and saw that it was in fact Richard Band, along with Amotz Plessner, who scored the movie, which is very cool. The score combined with the gorgeous Queensland locations adds a lot of production value to this low-budget indie. 

The disc from Monster Pictures is loaded with a wealth of info about the making of the movie, There's over an hour of Behind the Scenes Production Diaries and Video Blogs, a brief deleted scene excised for pacing issues, trailers, a series of radio interviews with the main actors, plus an excerpt Henry Lawson's "The Hairy Man"  read by Vernon Welles. 

Also included are three early short films by Travis Bain which are amusing but not up to par with the main feature, which should not be a surprise. The short film 'Parrot Ice Tours' involves two kids trying to raise money to pay for a window repair, it's fun stuff and the best of the bunch. Considering the low budget nature of the movie you have to admire Monster Pictures for not only distributing it but for jam-packing it with cool bonus content 

Special Features: 
- Alternate Ending (14 Mins)
- Behind the Scenes Production Diaries (45 Mins) 
- Video Blogs (23 Mins)
- Three Short Films from Travis Bain:  Daniel's Jack (6 Minutes), Full Moon, Dirty Laundry (8 Mins), Parrot Ice Tours (5 Mins)
- Deleted Scenes (3 Mins) 
- Trailers (5 Mins)
- Radio Interviews with actors Shawn Black and Anthony Ring (44 Mins) 
- Excerpt of Henry Lawson's "The Hairy Man" read by actor Vernon Welles  (1 Mins) 

Throwback is a fun enough Bigfoot type movie with some good moments of humor but I am sure this would be a difficult watch for general audiences because it is rough around the edges, a bit overlong and the creature design is laughable, but it had a lot of heart and a admirable do-it-yourself spirit that is hard to deny. I am looking forward to what comes next for director Travis Bain, expecting some good stuff will be on the way. 2/5