Thursday, February 25, 2016



Label:Scoprio Film Releasing 

Release Date: March 8th 2016 
Region Code: 0 NTSC
Duration: 78 Minutes
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Richard Griffin
Cast:  Anna Rizzo, Jamie Dufault, Michael Thurber, Sarah Nicklin, Monica Saviolakis, Sean Leser, Kevin Michael Strauss, Samantha Acampora

Director Richard Griffin always brings a ton of fun to his low budget horror movies, blending wit and camp with gruesome and bloody frights. From sci-fi and Lovecraftian horror on through to a straight-up slashers the man has toured through many of the beloved sub genres of terror with aplomb, and few have failed to make me giddy with delight. His latest movie available on home video to the masses is the supernatural nunspoitation entry Flesh for the Inferno (2015).

The movie opens in 1999 when a group of nuns confront a naughty priest about his penchant for molesting the young boys at the Catholic school. In response to the accusations Father Renault (The Sins of Dracula) pulls out a gun and shoots one of the nuns in the head and forcing the remaining three into basement below, where he bricks them up inside a wall, adding a touch of Edgar Allen Poe's Black Cat, or maybe Luci Fulci's The Psychic (1977) to the movie. While bricking them up behind the wall the nuns renounce a God who would allow such awfulness, they make a pact with the Devil, swearing their souls to the dark Lord. 

Sixteen years later the Catholic school has been abandoned and a neighborhood youth group arrive on scene under the direction of Mr. Maupin (Michael Thurber, The Sins of Dracula). The group have volunteered to do some clean-up work at the school before re-construction begins on the dilapidated building. They are greeted by the "caretaker", a sloppy young man named Halsey (Sean Lesser, Future Justice), who warns them that they should leave. The group are a fun and dynamic bunch, an array of teen stereotypes ripe for the picking-off, we have the Churchy Meredith (Jamue Lyn Bagely, Frankenstein's Hungry Dead), the straight-A student Gwen (Laura Minadeo), the honry douche Chester (Andrew Morais), young couple Becka and Patton (Ryan Nunes), the guy who is not gay Ian (Kevin Michael Strauss), redhead Kat (Anna Rizzo, Future Justice)  and the new guy Noah (Jamie Dufault, Murder University), who is the visiting nephew of Mr. Maupin. 

The group arrives and begin cleaning-up around the old school with varying degrees of commitment, some are there to do good in the neighborhood while others are clearly there to get laid. Of course the goody-goody Meredith begins judging the other teens right from the start, but she doesn't have too much time for judgement, for when two horny teens accidentally unleash the trio demonic nuns they all find themselves on the run for their lives. 

From here on in the teens are picked off  one by one in a myriad of gruesome ways. The first victim is peeping through a hole in the basement wall when she has her eye plucked out from her skull, another has his tongue ripped out, and a third bashes her face into a bloody pulp. The nuns themselves are fun, they interact with the teens and play around with them a bit before they kill them, poor horny Chester is seduced by all three before he is forced to leap to his death. The gore is cheap, plentiful and fun, not all of it worked for me, but it was still plenty fun. The garish green, red and blue lighting of the film gives the movie the look of Lamberto Bava's Demons (1985), as does the way that the nuns stalk the kids throughout the sprawling school. 

Like most of Richard Griffin's best movies this one features some great teen characters who throw off witty and fun dialogue, both of the straight and campy variety, blended to perfection with just the right amount of wit and snappy line delivery. t makes me think that part of his process must be rehearsal time, honing each line to perfection before committing it to film. I love that the annoying Meredith is set-up as a character that is a bit too easy to hate, but she does not necessarily hold that distinction for the duration of the movie. Early on I was hoping she would die off quick and painfully, but Griffin gives her some heroic moments and a very slight character arc, which is played for laughs, of course. 

Other characters of note are a local hooker with a heart of gold named Claudette (Sarah Nicklin, Nun of That) and two donut loving local cops, played by Rich Tretheway and Andrew Andrade from Future Justice. I would be remiss not to mention Aaron Andrade (the upcoming Seven Dorms of Death) ion a scene stealing performance as the big cheese of evil, The Devil, played with a menacingly smooth charm that is truly befitting of the unholy one. 

Special Features: 

- Commentary Track with director, writer, producer and assistant director.
- Commentary Track with Cast .
- Trailer (1 Min) 

Flesh for the Inferno (2015) is a hugely entertaining horror movie that manages to be funny, eerie and gruesome in equal measure. Griffin always does a lot with a little, the production is helped by a good script from writer Michael Varrati (The Sins of Dracula) and strong performances from a cast Griffin has worked with for the past few years. If you love indie horror comedies and are not familiar with director Richard Griffin do yourself a favor and marathon a handful of his movies, this guy is a low budget wonder of fun horror movies, you won't regret it. 3/5

NARCOPOLIS (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 96 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Justin Trefgarne
Cast: Elodie Yung, Harry Lloyd, James Callis, Jonathan Pryce, Louis Trefgarne, Molly Gaisford, Adam Sims, Cosima Shaw, Elliot Cowan, Nicky Henson, Robert Bathurst, Rufus Wright
Synopsis: In 2024, the manufacture and consumption of drugs has been legalized. Drecks are an elite unit created by an over-stretched police force to keep the black market dealers off the streets and the licensed drug companies rich. When dreck and former addict Frank Grieves is called to investigate an unidentifiable corpse, he makes a connection to the biggest and most powerful drug producer of them all: The Ambro Company. But Ambro has friends in high places and as his corrupt superiors turn on him, Grieves finds himself cut loose by the law and separated from the people he loves. The only way to clear his name is to find the identity of the dead body and its connection to Ambro. But not even Grieves is ready for what the future has in store.

In this dystopian sci-fi thriller we have a future-cop, which are known as Drecks, tehy work in the service of the all-powerful Ambro company, one of a handful of billion-dollar companies  The Drecks keep the illegal street drugs out of the hands of consumers, and keep them buying the legal stuff. When called to the scene of a possible suicide Dreck Frank Grieves uncovers some oddities about the fresh corpse, for one it is not identifiable, nor are the drugs in the body, which is strange. Not only are all drugs legal in this version of the future but every human has been tagged and easily identifiable by a simple scan using some future-tech gizmo. 

Grieves is told the case is closed and does not warrant any further investigation by his superiors, which raises his hackles. Unable to just cannot let go of it he re visits the site of the crime where he comes across a young woman named Eve (Elodie Yung) who says she has come from the future. Not sure he believes her Grieves none the less smells something rotten and hides her away from his superiors, who more and more seem to be working for the Ambro company, which is headed by the sinister Todd Ambro (James Callis), whose legal-drugs are mass marketed  ad nauseum throughout the film. 

Grieves enlists the help of an underground tech-guru named Yuri (Jonathan Pryce) who examines Eva's wrist-watch, what he finds further complicates Grieves investigation into the suicide, causing the other Dreck's to turn against him. at the same time his already unstable home-life begins to further crumble around him, with his wife and young son losing faith in him as he continues to spiral down the rabbit hole of conspiracy and time travel.

The movie reaches far and does a lot on a small budget, the world building is more hinted at than seen onscreen, they're reaching for Blade Runner but we're only getting Looper or 12 Monkeys, which is fine, I love both those movies, and I think they both handled time-travel exceptionally well, and I think Narcopolis does well for itself within the constraints of what they could fund. The keep the sci-fi rooted in the realm of the near-future, there's not an overwhelming amount of advanced tech, which is advanced but not too advanced for its own good. 

What drives the film is the performance of Elliot Cowan in the role of Grieves, a former junkie with some issues, and that of his young son (Louis Trefgarne) and his suffering estranged wife (Molly Gaisford). After that the hard-boiled police procedural element is strong, I think the weakest part of the film is that the Ambro conspiracy part of it begins to fizzle and the time-travel elements are under sorely developed. The movie has style to spare though, a very attractively shot movie that both delivers some sci-fi gloss and dystopian grit, it makes for a nice combination. 

Special Features: 

- Audio Commentary by writer/Director Justin Trefgarne
- Behind-the-Scenes (17 Mins) HD 
- Deleted scene (4 Mins) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 

I didn't love this one, I enjoyed it though, a dystopian science-fiction thriller with some true grit and strong performances, and coming from a first-time director, this is pretty grand.  Not exactly sure what more I wanted from it, but there was something missing. I think needed it to explore the legalization of drugs more within the context of the movie, and for the time-travel part of it to mean more to story. Not to put anyone off the movie, this is worth a watch and then some, I just feel it could have been something more special, as it is it's a good watch. 3/5




Label: Second Sight Films 
Release Date: April 25th 2016
Rating: Cert: 15 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen ( 2.35:1)
Audio: LPCM Dual Mono
DUration: 118 Minutes
Director: William Peter Blatty 
Cast: Tom Atkins, Jason Miller, Richard Lynch, William Peter Blatty, Stephen Powers, Stacy Keach

From William Peter Blatty, renowned author of The Exorcist, comes one the most unique and extraordinary films on screen, The Ninth Configuration, a taut theological thriller from 1980, which makes its UK Blu-ray debut courtesy of Second Sight.

This mind-blowing cult classic arrives on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as download and on-demand on 25 April 2016, complete with a whole host of newly produced bonus features, including brand new interviews with William Peter Blatty, Stacy Keach and many more.

Deep in a forest of pine trees near the coast of Washington State stands a secluded gothic castle, commandeered by the Pentagon for use as a military asylum. Determined to establish the true nature and origin of the men's mental illness, the Pentagon enlists the services of Colonel Kane (Stacy Keach – American History X), a brilliant, yet strangely unorthodox psychiatrist.

With a reserved calm he indulges the inmates’ delusions, allowing them free rein to express their fantasies. But some are wary of the newcomer and his methods. There may be more to Kane than meets the eye and the insanity escalates towards an explosive revelation.

Written, directed and produced by William Peter Blatty this tense and gripping tale mixes theology and psychology and hosts a stellar cast including Scott Wilson (The Last Samurai), Jason Miller (The Exorcist), Ed Flanders (The Exorcist III) and Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon). Who is Kane? And what has is he hiding?

- Audio Commentary by Writer / Director William Peter Blatty
- The Writer/Producer/Director - Interview With William Peter Blatty
- Confessions of Kane - Interview With Actor Stacy Keach
- The Debrief Of Sgt. Christian - Interview With Actor Stephen Powers
- Designing The Configuration - Interviews With Production Designer William Malley
and Art Director J. Dennis Washington
- Killer On My Mind - Interview With Soundtrack Composer Barry De Vorzon
- The Party Behind The Curtain - Interviews With Actors Tom Atkins, Jason Miller,
Richard Lynch and William Peter Blatty
- Mark Kermode Introduction
- Deleted Scenes and Outtakes

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

'The Wasteland' and 'Escape From The Insane Asylum' On DVD In March from MASSACRE VIDEO

Massacre Video March 2016 New Releases

Label: Massacre Video
Release Date: March 8th 2016 
Region Code: 0 
Duration: 80 Minutes 
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1 
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Director: Tsurisaki Kiyotaka
Cast: Music by Corrupted

Synopsis: Japanese documentarian / death photographer Tsurisaki Kiyotaka is back, with his own unique vision of our planet. The Wasteland is a look into the world around us. It is a look into the aftermath of war, religion, and other evil facets that aid in the destruction of Earth. Kiyotaka teams up with the legendary doom metal band Corrupted to set the mood for this epic. Don't look away. The Wasteland is real.

Special Features:
- Reversible Cover
- Stills Gallery
- Original Trailer
- Trailers for Other Massacre Video Releases


Label: Massacre Video
Release Date: March 8th 2016 
Region Code: 0 
Duration: 90 Minutes 
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo 
Director: Nick Palumbo
Cast: Mack Hail, Renee Baio, Alan Margolies

Synopsis: After being committed to a sanatorium by her wealthy husband, a rich heiress is on a race against the clock to prove her sanity and to expose the savage medical experiments that are being performed in the asylum.

Massacre Video, in collaboration with Vinegar Syndrome, presents the obscure Escape from the Insane Asylum on DVD for the first time ever, staring legendary cult writer / producer / actress Renee Harmon (Frozen Screams, Cinderella 2000, The Executioner 2, and many other classics).

Special Features:

- Reversible Cover
- Original NIGHT OF TERROR cut (95 minutes)
- Stills Gallery
- Trailers for Other Massacre Video Releases

AMERICAN HORROR PROJECT VOL.1 (Arrow Video Blu-ray Review)


Label: Arrow Video
Region Code: Region-Free
Duration: 251 Minutes 
Audio: English PCM Original Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1), (2.35:1) 
Directors: Christopher Speeth, Robert Allen Schnitzer, Matt Cimber
Cast: Millie Perkins, Lonny Chapman, Janine Carazo, Herve Villechaize, Sharon Farrell, Edward Bell

Synopsis: Everyone knows the classic American horror titles: Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street, to name but a few. But we want to tell you a different story: a story of the unsung heroes of stars-and-stripes terror, films that have remained on the fringes of the genre either through lack of availability or else sheer obscurity. This is where American Horror Project comes in.

Volume One of this series presents three tales of violence and madness from the 1970s. Malatesta's Carnival of Blood (Christopher Speeth, 1973) sees a family arrive at a creepy, dilapidated fairground in search of their missing son, only to find themselves at the mercy of the cannibalistic ghouls lurking beneath the park. Meanwhile, The Witch Who Came from the Sea (Matt Cimber, 1976), stars Millie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank) as a young woman whose bizarre and violent fantasies start to bleed into reality - literally. Lastly, every parent's worst nightmare comes true in The Premonition (Robert Allen Schnitzer, 1976), a tale of psychic terror in which five-year-old Janie is snatched away by a strange woman claiming to be her long-lost mother.


The first in this trio of obscure American horror is the nightmarish carnival terror Malatesta's Carnival of Blood from 1973, the year I was born. Am odd entry that is largely absent of a compelling narrative thread, but more relies on the unsettling imagery and situations to bring the fright. We have a family arriving at the titular circus as financial investors who hope to profit from the carnival attractions, but instead find themselves on the run from the strange cannibal carnies who favor the taste of human flesh. The carnival of ghouls is owned by Malatesta (Daniel Dietrich) and run by his right-hand man Mr. Blood (Jerome Dempsey), a fiendishly awesome presence in the movie. The loose narrative doesn't leave a lot to grasp onto though, so you had best resigns yourself to this fever-dream of a carnie movie, one with blue-skinned ghouls and some inspired set-design, be sure to keep an eye out for a Volkswagen Bug made to look like a gaping, toothed-mouth, if you love it weird and surreal you are gonna have fun with this one. If you're rooted in story and plot you might find yourself lost at the carnival with no way out. 

The movie has quite a cast of carnie weirdoes, we have pint-sized HervĂ© Villechaize from TVs Fantasy Island as a heavily French-accented killer dwarf, a tranny tarot card reader, and a creepy groundskeeper played by William Preston, who you might remember from those odd segments on Late Night with Conan O'Brien as Carl 'Oldy' Olson - the guy was always creepy, even back in the '70s apparently. The gore is not great, but fun enough, in a way that brought to mind the gore movies of Herschel Gordon Lewis. There's a scene of a carnival goer losing his head on the roller coaster, and some cheap gut-munching, the real horror show are the labyrinth of underground caverns where the blue-skinned ghouls hang out, nightmare stuff that brought to mind Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962) by way of the surreal Spanish asylum-nightmare House of Madness (1973), which is a pretty decent analog as to what you can expect from this movie.

This was absolutely my least favorite of movies on this cool underground cinema set, which isn't to say I hated it, but like House of Madness (1973) which I referenced, I probably won't revisit this one anytime soon. I'd sooner re watch the interviews before I sat through it again, though I did get enjoy seeing the now crumbling William Grove Amusement Park during slightly better days. The landmark carnival had been running since 1928 when it closed in 2005, do yourself a favor and check out pics of the abandoned park now, having been slowly reclaimed by the surrounding forest, creepy stuff. 

Special features for Malatesta's Carnival of Blood include a brand new interview with director Christopher Speeth, who speaks about the origins of the story, working with the producer, the various sets and locations used, the unique sound design of the movie and the troubled distribution history, right up to author Stephen Thrower reaching out to Speeth for inclusion in his book Nightmare USA, which spurred renewed interest in the obscure movie. Theres also an interview with writer Werner Liepolt who speaks about his initial script, how it differed from the movie, and his interest in the grotesqueries of the carnival circuit. Art directors Richard Stange and Alan Johnson speak about coming into the project, how they created the nightmare underworld of the carnival. Additionally the disc is rounded off with about three-minutes of outtakes, a gallery of images, and a DVD-ROM of the original script for the movie. Almost forgot the Audio Commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith, who goes deep into the history of the movie, a nice blend of humor with more academic approach, of the three commentaries on this set, this is the one I can see myself revisiting at some point. 

Special Features: 

- Introduction to the film by Stephen Thrower (4 Mins) HD 
- Audio Commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith
- The Secrets of Malatesta - an interview with director Christopher Speeth (14 Mins) HD 
- Crimson Speak - an interview with writer Werner Liepolt (12 Mins) HD 
- Malatesta's Underground - art directors Richard Stange and Alan Johnson discuss the weird, mysterious world of Malatesta's underground (10 Mins) HD 
· Outtakes (3 Mins) HD 
- Draft script (BD/DVD-ROM content)
- Stills Gallery (39 Images) HD
- Reversible sleeve of artwork featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil


Director Matt Cimber's The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)) is the story of a deeply troubled young woman named Molly, played by actress Millie Perkins. Molly lives along the ocean with her sister and two young nephews, whom she spends her days with wandering the beach and telling them tales of her sea-faring father whom she says was lost at sea years earlier. 

An early scene of her walking the beach watching muscle-bound young men workout evolves into a sick fantasy of the mind, wherein she imagines each one horribly killed. Molly seems to be on the verge of a mental breakdown, and these murder fantasies begin to bleed into reality, literally. When two footballers are found castrated, Molly becomes the main suspect of local detectives. Perkins gives a wonderfully unstable performance as the woman unravelling, damaged by the worst kind of childhood trauma, raped by her own father. The scenes of violence are slightly muffled by the fact that they happen just off screen but they are still shocking just by the nature of the violence, and as a guy I always find castration scenes make my skin crawl. 

The movie is peppered with trippy flashback scenes of the incest and her own murder fantasies, they are well done, though one goes a little too low-rent psychedelic for it's own good. It heps that this was shot in scope by cinematographer supreme Dean Cundey (John Carpenter's Halloween) who even on a shoe-string budget managed to capture some nicely composed widescreen shots, and this one has a nice low-budget artfulness to the composition. 

The original artwork for the movie is a bit misleading, featuring a robed witch with a bloodied scythe in one hand raised overhead, in her other hand is the severed head of a man. Truly a memorable image, but a bit removed from the amount of viscera you will actually find in the movie, though it does capture the essence of the woman protagonist as a man-killer. 

I am not too familiar with the body of Matt Cimber's movies, but from what I gather this is a cut above his usual trashy sexploitation movies, though I have heard his blaxploitation stuff is pretty great, so I will reserve final judgement. Watching this I was reminded of another woman-losing-her-sanity movie, the haunting Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971), a kindred movie with a slow-burn pace and flights of insanity. The Witch Who Came from the Sea was worth the wait, it lived up to the hype, and offered a surprisingly nuanced performance from Perkins, this is incredibly well acted and handsomely shot, well worth seeking out. 

Special features for The Witch Who Came from the Sea include an introduction from author Stephen Thrower, plus an audio commentary with director-producer Matt Cimber, actress Millie Perkins and director of photography Dean Cundey, which was carried over from the now OOP Subversive DVD, as was the thirty-six minute featurette 'A Maiden's Voyage' containing interviews with Matt Cimber, Millie Perkins and Dean Cundey. New to the set is the brand-new making-of doc 'Tides and Nightmares' with new interviews from Cimber, Perkins, Cundey and actor John Goff, plus an additional four-minute interview with Matt Cimber who speaks about the point of the movie, how the original negative was destroyed, and rightfully praising the new restoration from Arrow Video. 

Special Features: 

- Introduction to the film by Stephen Thrower (5 Mins) HD
- Audio commentary with director-producer Matt Cimber, actress Millie Perkins and director of photography Dean Cundey 
- Tides and Nightmares - brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with Cimber, Perkins, Cundey and actor John Goff (23 Mins) HD 
- A Maiden's Voyage - archive featurette comprising interviews with Cimber, Perkins and Cundey (36 Mins) 
- Lost at Sea - director Cimber reflects on his notorious cult classic (4 Mins) HD 
- Reversible sleeve of artwork featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil 


Robert Allen Schnitzer's The Premonition (1976) is a creepy kidnapper tale about a troubled couple, a mentally-ill piano player named Andrea (Ellen Barber) and her crazed carnie boyfriend Jude, played by the always unsettling Richard Lynch (Bad Dreams). Years earlier Andrea was sent to the asylum, and her infant daughter Janie (Danielle Brisebois ) was was taken away from her and adopted by a nice couple, Prof. Miles Bennett (Edward Bell) and his wife Sheri (Sharon Farrell). Andrea has now been released from the asylum, which is where she met her boyfriend Jude naturally, together the disturbed couple set about to kidnap Janie from the Bennets. The movie is played sort of low-key, the horror is not supercharged, but there's a pervasive sense of eeriness about this one with some unnerving Lynchian moments about it. 

Richard Lynch is always a strong presence in any movie he appears in, he has a unique face and unsettling presence about him. His character is an intense white-faced pantomime who is in love over his head with Andrea, and willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy, but a love this intense is bound to burn you one way or another. Mrs. Bennet begins to have frightening visions about Andrea and her daughter, a series of paranormal visions of Andrea, which unsettle the adoptive mother, who becomes both frenzied and despondent to varying degrees. 

When her fears of losing Janie to the unhinged birth mother are finally it is the psychic visions that connect the opposed mothers, and they are key to the recovery of her young adopted daughter. Surprisingly the supernatural elements aren't overly exploited, but are present just enough to give the movie a supernatural tinge that pushed it from just a tense kidnap-thriller to something a little more creepy. The filmmakers take great pain not to paint Andrea and Jude as wholly evil people, just deranged, but Ellen Barber does manage to stir up some threat, and able to hold her own against Richard Lynch's intensity. A scene of her in Janie's bedroom is menacing stuff, as a parent my heart jumped a bit, I cannot imagine walking into my child's room and finding any one of them in the arms of a deranged stranger. The scene is further bolstered by some nice camera trickery, this is the scene that felt very Lynchian to me, definitely surreal and unnerving stuff. 

Extras created for The Premonition by Arrow Video include a new making-of doc with Schnitzer, composer Henry Mollicone and cinematographer Victor Milt, and an introduction from Stephen Thrower. we are also treated to archival interviews with the late actor Richard Lynch and director Robert Allen Schnitzer. Three Robert Allen Schnitzer early short films are included, which are political in nature, and not my cup of tea, it's not like discovering the early shorts of David Lynch, but they're here if you're interested. The disc is finished up with a trailer and handful of TV and radio spots, plus a gallery of images. . 

Special Features:

- Introduction to the film by Stephen Thrower (3 Mins) HD 
- Isolated Music Score by Henry Mollicone
- Audio commentary with director-producer Robert Allen Schnitzer
- Pictures from a Premonition - brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with Schnitzer, composer Henry Mollicone and cinematographer Victor Milt (21 Mins) HD
- Archive interviews with Robert Allen Schnitzer (6 Mins) 
- Archive interviews with Richard Lynch (16 Mins) 
- Three Robert Allen Schnitzer short films: 'Vernal Equinox' (30 Mins) HD, 'Terminal Point' (41 Mins) HD and 'A Rumbling in the Land' (11 Mins) HD
- 4 Peace Spots (4 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) HD 
- 4 TV Spots (3 Mins) HD 
- Gallery 
- Reversible sleeve of artwork featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
- American Horror Project Journal Volume One - Limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new articles on the films from writers Stephen Thrower(Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents), Kim Newman (Nightmare Movies), Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women) and Brian Albright (Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990: A State-by-State Guide with Interviews)

Audio/Video: All three movies have been lovingly remastered with brand new 2K restorations from the best surviving elements for each film, both Malatesta's Carnival of Blood and The Witch Who Came from the Sea were derived from surviving 35mm prints,while The Premonition came from the color reversal intermediate, which is only one stage away from the original negative, as such it is the best looking of the three. The overall results are of the SK restorations are very pleasing. None are reference quality presentations but they are acceptably clean and finely detailed. Colors are mostly strong for all three movies, there's some minor white speckling and vertical scratching, but the natural roughness of the presentations are kept in check and appear very filmic. I don't mind a grit and grime with my cult-classic, and all three of these look great on Blu-ray. 

All three are presented in their original mono presentation by way of lossless English PCM Mono 1.0 audio tracks, like the prints used for the transfers the audio each have some minor issues, though there's nothing too distracting, and the movies sound just fine. My favorite score of the three films would be Herschel Burke Gilbert's haunting accompaniment for The Witch Who Came from the Sea, but Henry Mollicone's comes in a close second. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

Arrow Video have afforded some fantastic extras for these obscure American slices of '70s horror as detailed above, each receiving an intro from co-curator Stephen Thrower, averaging about four-minutes each. Each film presented in a dual-format release, encased in its own keep case with a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil, plus there's a massive 60-page booklet with new writing on each film from writers Stephen Thrower, Kim Newman and Brian Albright, all of it contextualizing the movies and really digging deep into each. Peppered throughout the booklet are images from each movie, plus notes about each of the restorations. 

With the American Horror Project Vol.1 Arrow Video and co-curator Stephen Thrower have set out to document a handful of unsung and throwaway slices of '70s American cult-horror, nuggets of forgotten cinema that didn't get a fair shake on home video, or during their initial drive-in run. When you think about it there are not many banner horror movies left to adorn with deluxe editions these days, the vaults have been plundered and re plundered, so it is great to see these unsung slices of cult cinema getting loving restorations and bountiful extras. What Arrow Video and the crew have put together here is nothing but love for these indie-horrors, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for future volumes. This something special and is limited to just 3,000 copies, so if you love obscure horror you had best jump on this set fast, this is worth owning, so have at it. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

THE BOY (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

THE BOY (2015)
Label: Scream Factory
region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 110 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Directyor: Craig William McNeill
Cast: Rainn Wilson, Zuleikha Robinson, Aiden Lovekamp, Bill Sage, David Morse, Jared Breeze, Mike Vogel

Synopsis: In the summer of 1989, nine-year-old Ted Henley (Jared Breeze, Cooties) and his father John (David Morse, True Detective, World War Z) are the proprietors of the Mt. Vista Motel, a crumbling resort buried in the mountains of the American West. Since Ted's mother left, John has drifted into despondency – leaving Ted to fend for himself. In this isolation, unchecked by the bounds of parenting, Ted's darker impulses begin to manifest. The arrival of a mysterious drifter, William Colby (Rainn Wilson, Cooties, The Office), captivates young Ted and the two form a unique friendship – setting the stage for Ted's final, unnerving metamorphosis.

The Boy is something special, an origin story of sorts about a young, nine year-old boy named Ted (Jared Breeze) who lives with his detached father John (David Morse) at the Mt. Vista Motel, a near-death family business somewhere in the dusty Western United States. The motel seems to be circling around the drain of financial ruin, with only a slow-drip f steady business. Young Ted is left to his own dark devices far too often by his father, a quiet man who is detached from his young son, a ghost of a man. Apparently the mother ran off years earlier, abandoning her husband and son for another man. Ted spends his days dutifully cleaning the motel rooms, when done with his chores he litters the nearby main road with chicken feed, luring small animals to their certain deaths. he watches the carnage through binoculars, then picks-up the roadkill for which his father rewards him with a shiny quarter, this is what appears to have been the beginning of the kids creepy death-obsession.

Left to his own devices Ted is able to freely obsess about death, graduating to killing a chicken, yup, we have a young sociopath in the making, luring animals to their death here folks. If his father wasn't so wrapped-up in sadness and numbed with drink he might haven taken notice of what his son was becoming, and have nipped it in the bud before it overwhelmed the boy, but this isn't that sort of story. This is something creepy, something slow-burning, one which build to a fiery crescendo. Actor Jared Breeze does fine work, the kid is not overtly aggressive, he's coldly calculated and the performance psychologically complex, major credit must also be given to director Craig William McNeil for his direction.  

The motel is a mighty boring place, there's not much for a boy to do aside from kill a few animals for fun, but a few comers and goers arrive from time to time, including a young couple with a boy. Their young son nearly becoming Ted's first victim when a friendly game of head-dunking at the motel pool nearly turns deadly when Ted proves unable to control his death-fascination. The most ominous visitor is a bearded man named William Colby (Rainn Wilson) who becomes stranded at the motel through the animal-baiting actions of young Ted. The man is shady and may be an arsonist, proving to be a mirror of what life has in store for Ted down the road. The man and Ted form a friendship, one that makes Ted's father uneasy, and for good reason, it seems he does at least have a few decent parental instincts left about him, but too little, too late. 

The build-up is slow and taught and might prove to be a bit too down-played for those coming into this expecting the usual killer-kid slasher fare, The Boy is not afraid to play it slow and deliberate, creating a dark tone that is cold and creepy. The movie is also very artful and hypnotic in its direction, the long languid scenes look wonderful, and the cast is great. Rainn Wilson has rarely been this creepy or menacing onscreen, and David Morse as the despondent father plays it perfectly, but the anchor is young Breeze, you can see the demon inside this kid early on, but he plays it so cold, not over-the-top, and it works so well. In certain scenes you cannot help but be creeped out by the kid you also feel sympathy for him, he's still a young a boy, and when he's hurt or threatened its hard not to feel for the damn kid.

The Boy arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory looking shiny and new in 1080p HD, with a decent surround sound presentation, though this one is more front-centric. Extras on the disc are limited to a behind-the-scenes making of featurette, featuring interviews with Rainn Wilson and three of the movie's producers, which Elijah Wood, who speak a bit about this being the first in a trilogy of movies following the life of the character of ted, which I would be on board for. Unfortunately they do not include the short film Henley (2011) of which this is based, I would have enjoyed seeing that, there's a clip of it on YouTube for the curious.
If you're a fan of slow-burn psychological cinema with a side order of killer kiddie movies this one comes very highly recommended, coming in somewhere along the lines of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer by way of The Butcher Boy, this is one creepy-kid movie that is worth a watch. 3.5/5

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

THE MUTILATOR (1984) (Arrow Video Blu-ray review)

Label: Arrow Video 
Rating: R
Duration: 86 Minutes
Region: Region Free
Audio: English PCM 1.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Buddy Cooper
Cast: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock

Synopsis: When Ed receives a message from his father asking him to go and lock up the family’s beach condo for the winter, it seems like the perfect excuse for an alcohol-fueled few days away with his friends. But no sooner are the teens on the island than they find themselves stalked by a figure with an axe (and a hook, and an outboard motor) to grind…Originally released under the title Fall Break, The Mutilator has earned a reputation amongst horror fans as one of the holy grails of ’80s splatter mayhem due to its decidedly gruesome kill sequences, courtesy of FX wizard Mark Shostrom (Videodrome, Evil Dead II). Finally making its long-awaited bow in High-Definition, The Mutilator has returned to terrorize a whole new generation of horror fans.

The Mutilator opens with a young boy named Ed, Jr. preparing to celebrate the birthday of his father. While mom is busy in the kitchen with preparations the young boy decides he will surprise his dad by cleaning his guns. While doing so he accidentally discharges the weapon, which turned out to be loaded. The shot goes through a door and straight into the back of the boy's mother, the impact of the bullet is a fine and bloody mess. As the boy mourns over his mother's corpse his father Ed Sr. arrives home, perhaps in a bit of shock, he drags the body of his wife to his den, props her up against a chair, and shares a glass of whiskey with her. A very strange opening, but one that establishes at least a bit of back story for what is about to unfold years later. 

Now some years have passed and the young boy is a college student, celebrating  "fall break", whatever that is, with his girlfriend and two other young couples. Ed receives a call from his father at the bar, apparently he frequents this place a lot! His father tells him he must come to the family beachfront condo to close it down for the winter, which seems like a bit of a drag, what a shit way to spend "fall break". Ed and his friends decide it will be a fun romp, closing down the house and partying on the beach for a few days, so they pile into Ed's car and head for the ocean front property. 

Upon arriving they settle in after Ed gives them a tour of the place, pointing out his father's numerous prized fish and game trophies, apparently Ed's father is quite a sportsman, he even has a grisly picture of a man he accidentally ran over with his sports boat, the man's flesh lacerated from the boat engine's prop, which is weird. As the night wears on and they grow tired of playing Monopoly one of the couple's decide to go for a stroll along the beach, and find them at a closed public pool, where they strip down nude and jump in for a bit of skinny-dipping, unaware that they have been followed. 

Soon enough young lover's begin to be offed one by one by a killer in a myriad of creative ways that are sure to please the gorehounds. What is not so pleasing is that the identity of the murderer is not hidden from viewers, you know who it is right away. This brought to mind the movie Final Exam, another college-slasher that mixes weird teen humor with some nifty kills, it also does not hide the identity of the killer. Despite this demerit against it I enjoyed this one a lot, probably because the group of friends are so likable and fun to watch. There's not an asshole or bitch among them, which is somewhat odd for an '80s slasher movie. While there is a prankster among the bunch who enjoys a good laugh at his friend's expense, he's not mean-spirited, but he is still a good guy, not that it helps him in the end. Personally I would have liked at least one of them to be a bit of a jerk. 

Ed is a good guy, too, even though he shot his mother dead as a kid, you don't get the idea that it fucked him up too much, unlike the killer from slasher-classic Pieces. The teens are of the horny variety, even friendly Ed, but his girlfriend Pam makes it painfully obvious that she's not gonna jump into bed with him on this trip, at least not unless they are fully clothed -  what a killjoy! As traditional slasher rules dictate, the horny teens must be punished, so maybe her abstinence will work in her and Ed's favor after all. 

The set-up here is nothing new, even in 86 this would have been a pretty standard prelude to a bloodbath, what this movie is most fondly remembered for is the glorious gore which comes courtesy of special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom, who brings the gore with a certain amount of gruesome glee. The killer uses a variety of weapons found around the home, including a machete, a battle ax, a large hook-gaff, and the business end of a boar motor. The most brutal of the deaths occur when the killer straps a young woman down to a workman's bench in the garage, inserts a menacing hook-gaff into her crotch and pushes it up through her abdomen, like he's baiting a hook, before lopping off her head with the ax - brutal stuff! On top of that we have decapitations, a drowning, a machete to the face, a boat prop attack, a severed leg, a pronged fish spear through the neck, and a few other nasty delights. 

The movie moves along at a tidy pace for the eighty-six minute run time with very few instances of drag, Buddy Cooper might not be the most stylish of directors but he kept things moving, when the teens first arrive at the beach house there's a tiny bit of drag but once the first couple are offed it picks up again and doesn't let up. The tone of this one does sway a bit, originally titled Fall Break for it's initial release the movie feels like a teen comedy for the first half, complete with a screwball comedy theme song, thankfully the score is more synth-driven and does offer up a more traditional fright-music. The odd tonal dissipates as the killings begin, but the end credit sequence again takes up a jokey feel with outtakes from the movie, it doesn't ruin the movie, but the tonal shift is weird. 

The Mutilator is a movie that horror fans have been clamoring for for quite a long while, it never had a legit North American release on DVD or Blu-ray, now slasher fans can rejoice, not only is it on Blu-ray, but it is stuffed with bonus content. They killed it with Blood Rage and have done it again with The Mutilator, if they're taking requests for deluxe editions of obscure horror tiles I'd love to see The Slayer (1982) and The Prey (1984) arrive on Blu-ray with some cool bonus content. 

Audio/Video:The Mutilator arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Arrow Video looking mighty fine, after years of bootleg and YouTube viewings this new widescreen 2K restoration is something that should please every fan of the slasher cheapie. Years were spent looking for a proper uncut version of the film until an uncut master print was found at the Library of Congress, that's out tax dollars at work! Film grain is nicely managed, there's an abundance of fine detail with crisp textures, skin tones look natural and the colors are strong, with some source limitations. imperfections are limited to small white speckling, Arrow have done a phenomenal job bringing this on to HD for fans, the gore looks great, and for fans who've long suffered with dark bootleg copies that rendered the latter half of the film near unwatchable, you will be pleased to know that the black levels and shadow detail are quite nice. 

Audio is capably handled by an English PCM Mono 1.0 track that is appropriately flat and probably very true to the original presentation, for better or worse. The creepy synth score from Michael Minard is just fine, as is the annoying theme song :"Fall Break", this one is right up there with "Everybody But You" from Night Train to Terror as far as songs you don't want stuck in your head, but end up there just the same. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

Arrow Video have once again gone way above and beyond what the movie might actually merit, just like they did with Blood Rage, and that is why we horror collector's love them. We begin with a brief iintroduction to the movie with writer-director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell. There are also two audio commentaries, the first with director Buddy Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler, the second with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow, both commentaries are moderated by Arrow Video's Ewan Cant who produced the disc. The commentaries cover a lot of ground, plenty of on-set anecdotes about the production, both commentaries are lively and informative. 

The brand-new making-of doc Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator )75 Mins) features interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and others, telling the story of how the movie came to be, beginning with Buddy Cooper making $86,000 from a sale, and wondering what to do with the money, the choice was either invest in in a vineyard or make a movie, and I am not sure if it paid off for him or not, but I am glad he chose to make a horror film, which at the time were turning tidy profits for indie movie makers, and few were as indie as Cooper at the time.

Special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom shows up for a 16-minute look back at his gory work on the film, which was one of his earliest paying gigs,and his first slasher movie. He recalls this being the most fun he had on set making a movie, also giving a candid account of how a few of the effects went wrong. Composer Michael Minard recalls coming onto the project, speaking a bit about how he went about create the creepy score and the theme song "Fall Break". 

More extras come by way of a five-minute alternate opening titles with The Mutilator title card, thirteen-minutes of screen tests, a selection of trailers, TV spots and radio spots, two versions of the theme song, a behind-the-scene gallery, and storyboards from the opening sequence. Separate from the disc extras there's a sleeve of reversible artwork and a collectible booklet with new and vintage writings on the movie by Arrow Video's  Edward Cant and Fangoria's Tim Ferrante - both a fantastic reads, with Cant going into detail about his love of the movie, his quest to bring it to Blu-ray and his trip to Oceana Motel in Atlantic Beach, NC to interview the cast and crew - it's a fantastic read. There are also notes about the restoration, artwork and images from the movie. 

Special Features
- Brand new 2K restoration of the unrated version from original vault materials
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Introduction to the film with writer-director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell (1 Min) HD
- Audio Commentary with Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler
- Audio Commentary with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow
- Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator – brand new feature-length documentary on the making of the splatter classic featuring interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and more (75 Mins) HD
- Mutilator Memories – special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom looks back at one of his earliest projects(16 Mins) HD
- Tunes for the Dunes – composer Michael Minard reveals how The Mutilator’s unique score was created (8 Mins)
- Behind-the-Scenes Reel (17 Mins)
- Screen Tests (13 Mins)
- Alternate Opening Titles (5 Mins) HD
- Fall Break Trailer (2 Mins) HD 

- Fall Break TV Spot (1 Min) HD 
- The Mutilator Trailer (2 Mins) HD 
- The Mutilator TV Spot Version A (1 Min) HD 
- The Mutilator TV Spot Version B (1 Min) HD 
- 2 Radio Spots (1 Mins) HD 
- Fall Break’ Theme Song (Original and Instrumental Versions)(4 Mins) HD
- Opening Sequence Storyboards (4 Mins) HD
- Motion Stills Gallery (9 Mins) HD
- Original Fall Break Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM content)
- Reversible Sleeve featuring two original artworks

Like Arrow Video's sweet release of slasher rarity Blood Rage before it I have no problem saying that The Mutilator is not a top-tier slasher, but I am someone who loves the lower-end of cinema, and this one is a lot of fun and the gore is bloody superb. Director Buddy Cooper set out to make "a real popcorn muncher", and he did good. Arrow Video have gone above and beyond for this one, a movie that has been a long time coming on Blu-ray, and now that it has arrived all I can say is that it is even better than I could have anticipated.