Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: MPI Media 
Release Date: September 6th 2016 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated

Duration: 84 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-MA 2.0, DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.00:1) 

Director: Kyle Rankin
Cast: Maria Thayer, Michael Cassidy, Ray Wise, Syd Wilder, Chris Marquette

The indie zombie comedy Night of the Living Deb (2015) comes by way of director Kyle Rankin who brought us the bug-horror comedy Infestation back in 2009 and it all begins on the night of Fourth of July as quirky ginger Deb (Maria Thayer) and her ugly Christmas sweater wearing friend Ruby (Julie Brister) are having a few drinks at a local bar. The horny Deb spots pretty boy hipster Ryan (Michael Cassidy) across the bar and is prodded by her ironic gal pal to make her move, which she does, she makes an awkward introduction and manages to anger Ryan's high-maintenance finance Stacy (Syd Wilder) who dumps him on the spot. 

Flash forward to the next morning a somewhat discombobulated Deb awakes in Ryan's bedroom a bit unsure of what happened the night before but happy to be there just the same. She plays cute while poor Ryan kindly tries to find a way to give her the one-night regret brush-off in the nicest possible way, he's too kind. However, Deb is a bit on thick side and doesn't go away gracefully. eventually they go there separate ways, Ryan heads off to the local coffee spot while Deb jumps in her 70s gas-guzzler car named Otis. It doesn't take long for both to realize that something odd has happened in the neighborhood, they've woken up to a zombie apocalypse, with Ryan finding his favorite barista munching on a human foot and Deb cannot help but notice this year's 4th of July parade includes locals eating each other. 

Reluctantly united out of fear the two head for Ryan's father's house, dad is played by the venerable Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), his character Frank runs the city water treatment plant whose crooked dealings may have something to do with the outbreak of gut-munching. Arriving at his father's place Ryan must contend with his dad's disappointment in his lifestyle, while also trying to keep things civil with his dip shit dude-bro brother Chaz (Chris Marquette, Fanboys) and his ex whom has also holed up at his father's home when the human-hungry hordes arrived on scene. 

The movie is a smart and breezy, more along the lines of Warm Bodies than Romero's 
Dawn of the Dead, a charming comedy about two people finding an awkward sort of love during a zombie outbreak without lowering itself to the level of an annoying parody. In my mind the key the movie's success is the chemistry between actors Maria Thayer and Michael Cassidy who play off each other perfectly, great casting choices. Thayer is so awkward and awesome, her interactions with the somewhat prissy Ryan brought to mind the chemistry between The Kid and Apple in Turbo Kid (2015). Thayer is far and away my favorite part of the movie, playing her role with a mix of sweet ditziness and playful sarcasm. Meanwhile Ray Wise's character is initially painted as the face of corporate evil but Wise manages to give the guy some more depth and quirky charm than was probably in the script, the guy can do a lot with just a little, I love all of his line deliveries, weird and heartfelt all in the same breath 

At certain points it does seems the threat of being eaten by zombies takes a backseat the family turmoil and awkward  love story, coming back into play only to give some slight menace to the proceedings and to take a minute or two to poke fun at zombie conventions, including one of the more basic ones which we as horror fans just take for granted, which comes into play during the final few scenes to comedic effect. 

Special Features: 

- Commentary with Writer/Director Kyle Rankin, Actor/Producer Micheal Cassidy, Actor Maria Thayer, writer Andy Selsor, and editor Tony Copolillo
- Bloopers
- Behind-The-Scenes
- Trailer 

The Blu-ray disc from MPI Media Group looks and sounds great, the release includes a cast and crew audio commentary track, a behind-the-scenes making of featurette, a blooper reel and the trailer for the movie. Don't be fooled by the generic artwork on the Blu-ray, this is a fun and goofily heart-warming zom-com with loads of charm. If you have a soft-spot for quirky red heads Maria Thayer might just steal your heart, this is a high recommend to the zombie comedy lovers out there, fun stuff.  

Monday, August 29, 2016

RAISING CAIN (1992) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)

Label: Scream Factory
Release Date: September 13th 2016 

Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0, DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Lolita Davidovich, John Lithgow, Frances Sternhagen, Steven Bauer, Gregg Henry

Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow) is child psychologist taking a break from his professional practice to braise his young daughter Amy (Amanda Pombo). He seems like a wonderful father and husband, but his wife Jenny (Lolita Davidovich) begins to feel he might be a bit too obsessive when it comes to their daughter, and he's acting erratic in their relationship as well. When Carter learns that Jenny is having an affair with an old flame named Jack (Steven Bauer) his devious twin Cain arrives on the scene and the bodies of women start turning up in the local lake. Also, the women's children have gone missing though no bodies have turned up yet. What does this have to do with kind-hearted Carter and his late father's diabolical childhood behavior studies? 

Brian De Palma returned to the thriller genre in the early nineties for the first time since Body Double (1984) channeling story elements from his own Dressed To Kill (1980) with his now familiar Hitchcockian themes, including some visual cues straight from Psycho (1965). What he came up with was a somewhat delirious thriller that to put it plainly I loathed when I caught it at the campus cinema. I walked away angry that I had just wasted a few bucks on a clunker, I thought Lithgow chewed-up the scenery, and that the movie was front-loaded with insanity that seriously shot the suspense in the face straight out the gate.

As with music I find that revisiting a movie that didn't sit right with me after a few years can have the affect of making me appreciate it a bit more the second time around. eventually I re watched Raising Cain on home video years later at which point I was more familiar with Brian De Palma as a filmmaker, and sure enough it went down smoother. I now absolutely loved the John Lithgow performance, but the movie proper was still a hard watch with a poorly structured narrative that left me confused and worse yet, it blows the suspense of the movie right from the opening scenes with the reveal of Carter's split personality, which is a huge misstep.

The new 2-disc Blu-ray from Scream Factory offers up the same theatrical cut restored in HD but also throws in one heck of a bonus, a recut of the movie by super-fan Peet Gelderblom who re sequenced the movie as it was originally envisioned by director Brian De Palma, who dramatically re edited and re ordered the movie in post-production. The new recut is a vast improvement as it has a more natural flow, opening with Jenny's story and her unease in the relationship with Carter and the start of the affair. The split personality stuff is eased into and were not hit over the head with it right from the start. It makes for a much better viewing experience, however, that ending is still a a train wreck, including the shocker of an ending that seems lifted right from Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982).

Audio/Video: Brian De Palma's Raising Can (1992) arrives on 2-disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory which is derived from a new HD master and looks quite nice. The movie lacks to my eyes much of the style I associate with his earlier works and has the look and feel of more conventional 90's thriller from the era. The image has some nice depth and clarity which easily advances over the Universal DVD from 1998. The image has an inherent softness by design so it is not overly sharp, but color reproduction is vibrant and looks solid through and through.

Audio on the discs come by way of English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround with Optional English subtitles. Everything is clean and  nicely balanced in the mixes, no issues with deciphering dialogue, and the lush Pino Donaggio score sounds wonderful. 

Scream Factory have stuffed this 2-disc set with some cool extras beginning with the inclusion of the aforementioned Director's Cut which is actually a re cut assembled by fan Peet Gelderblom, who in 2012 discovered that the movie was re-sequenced by De Palma in post-production, which dramatically changed the structure of the movie. After obtaining the original script Gelderblom set about re-sequencing it to reflect De Palma's original vision for the movie. The recut has been created from the new HD version of the theatrical cut so it looks great. The end result is a more fluid version of the movie which while unfortunately  not incorporating any additional footage does flow much differently, the flashbacks, the dream sequences and storylines marry together much better, this is a superior version of the film, though it is not the miracle cure, the movie still has some serious issues. The Director's Cut is on the second disc of the 2-disc set, which also features an introduction from Peet Gelderblom and his video essay which accompanied his version of the movie which debuted it on IndieWire. Brian De Palma was very happy with the re cut and was instrumental in having this version of the movie included on the Collector's Edition from Scream Factory, which as a fan must have sent Gelderblom through the roof.

Extras on disc one include brand new interview with Actors John Lithgow, Steven Bauer, Gregg Henry, Tom Bower, Mel Harris And Editor Paul Hirsch adding up to about an hour and twenty minutes. Lithgow gives a half hour interview touching on his trio of movies with De Palma but focused on Raising Cain and his turn in what amounted to five separate roles and what fun that was, he also speaks about Brian De Palma's process on-set and what a great director he is. Editor Paul Hirsch also comes in to speak about being brought in to re-edit the final scene, not surprisingly De Palma was having difficulty piecing together this choppy thriller, and even Hirsch thought it was a hot mess. extras are finished-up with the original theatrical trailer, a gallery of images, a sleeve of reversible artwork, and a slipcover. 

Special Features:
Disc One:
- Theatrical Version Of The Film (91 Mins) HD
- NEW Not One To Hold a Grudge: Interviews With Actor John Lithgow (30 Mins) HD
- NEW The Man in My Life: Interview with Actor Steven Bauer (24 Mins) HD
- NEW The Three Faces of Cain: Interview with Actor Gregg Henry (16 Mins) HD
- NEW The Cat's in the Bag: Interview with Actor Tom Bower (8 Mins) HD
- NEW A Little Too Late For That: Interview with Actress Mel Harris (9 Mins) HD
- NEW Have You Talked to the Others? Interview with Editor Paul Hirsch (11 Mins) HD
-Original Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) HD
- Still Galley (2 Mins) HD (26 Images)
Disc Two:
- Director's Cut Of The Film Featuring Scenes Reordered As Originally Intended (91 Mins) HD
- NEW Changing Cain: Brian De Palma's Cult Classic Restored Featurette (2 Mins) HD
- NEW Raising Cain Re-Cut – A Video Essay By Peet Gelderblom (13 Mins) HD

Scream Factory have put together a wonderful edition of Raising Cain (1992) for Brian De Palma fans. Watching the new recut is the best watch of the movie so far, still an imperfect watch but I love Lithgow's performance more and more each time, he saves the movie. The new Scream Factory Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, the new recut is a solid bonus and the new interviews make this a must-own for De Palma fans. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (1990) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: 
Rating: R
Duration: 96 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Mick Garris 
Cast: Anthony Perkins, CCH Pounder, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey, Warren Frost

Synopsis: A seemingly rehabilitated Norman Bates (Perkins) is drawn to a late night radio show where the host (CCH Pounder, Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight) encourages him to share his views on the topic of matricide. Reliving his childhood, Norman recounts his trials of a young boy (Thomas, Ouija 2) living with his widowed schizophrenic mother (Hussey, the original Black Christmas). These haunting memories are more than just disturbing visions of the past; they threaten to rekindle his killing urge in this spine-tingling thriller directed by Mick Garris (The Stand, Masters of Horror).

Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990) catches up with our old friend Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) a few years after his incarceration at the end of the third movie, he been rehabilitated ...sure he has. We catch up with him at his home listening to a call-in radio program hosted by Fran Ambrose (CCH Pounder, Demon Knight) who is discussing matricide, a topic close to Norman's heart, and coincidentally her guest on the show is  Dr. Richmond, Norman's, none other than former psychologist from the asylum. Norman of course cannot resist the urge and calls into the show under the alias "Ed" and speaks about his past and also says that he plans to kill his pregnant wife this very same night. 

What follows is a series of flashbacks to Norman's formative childhood and teenage years as he tell his story beginning with the death of his father, Norman is left alone to care for and in care of his increasingly unstable mother. Norma has some serious issues with her Norman's burgeoning sexuality curiosity, admonishing him for his sexual curiosity and dressing the poor kid in women's clothes as punishment when he pops an erection next to her in bed... hmm, it's all starting to make sense now. Young Norman is played by Henry Thomas (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) and he does a decent turn as the troubled Norman, he looks the part but for me he just never plugged into the character. Norma is played by Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas) who plays nutty Mama Bates nicely with a mix wide-eyed insanity and lunatic parenting, treating Norman poorly while carrying on a torrid relationship with her new lover Chet (Thomas Schuster). Chet is a brute of a guy and bullies the young Norman. His contempt for the man and his tormentor mother finally boils over when Norman serves them both poisoned iced teas, the lovers die a vomitous and wonderfully painful death, which was my favorite scene in the movie natch. 

In the aftermath Norman is racked with guilt over the murder of his mother which develops into the dissociative identity disorder we know him so well for, becoming the murderous young man we met in Alfred Hitchcock's 1965 classic. Norman murders a pair of women who are unlucky enough to turn him on, triggering his alternate personality of "mother", these are some quality scenes, but the good stuff is too few and far between. Thomas does not exactly fill the shoes of Perkins so much as make a decent enough place holder in the story, managing to hold his own against Hussey's version of Mother. Perkins does just fine taking up the role of Perkins again, he has a charm and menace that comes easy, after playing the character over a span of thirty-five years the guy can probably turn it on and off like blinking an eye, the guy still had it, even if the script didn't. 

As the movie moves forward radio host Fran Ambrose and Dr. Richmond start to piece together who "Ed" is and argue over what course of action should be taken. In the end we discover the reasons why Norman is planning to kill his wife, who is a psychiatrist, which smacks a bit of Harley Quinn and Joker, I also thought that Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers might have borrowed that scene where Loomis is listening to the radio program about Michael Myers. While I rather enjoyed the flashback scenes the wrap-around radio program nonsense did nothing for me, it felt tacked-on, not developed, not needed and padded for running time. This prequel feels very much like the made for TV movie it was, it lacks scope and some grandiosity, but it is not awful. Mick Garris is a serviceable director and he does what he can with the mixed bag of a screenplay, which was penned by Psycho (1965) scribe Joseph Stefano, though this is a shadow of his former screenplay.  

Audio/Video: Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory looking solid, the anamorphic 1.78 widescreen looking fairly sharp with some nice depth and clarity, the grain can be a bit course in the darker scenes, but overall this is a very pleasing presentation. The lone audio option is an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 track with optional English subtitles. The track is nicely balanced and fairy robust. the score used which Bernard Hermann's iconic original score in addition to some new stuff from Graeme Revell sounds great. 

The disc includes an Audio Commentary from Director Mick Garris and Actors Olivia Hussey and Henry Thomas, Garris is always a great commentator and an astute moderator, this is a great track in which the director is very candid about his experience working with Anthony Hopkins who was not impressed my the young director at the time of filming. 

There's also a half hour making of doc with new interviews from Mick Garris, Actors Henry Thomas And Olivia Hussey, rare behind-the-scenes video of the making of the movie, a gallery of on-set photos and video of the movie being scored by Graeme Revell. All things considered this is a pretty packed edition, great to have all of the Psycho movies on Blu-ray here in the U.S.. 

Bonus Features
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Mick Garris, Actors Henry Thomas And Olivia Hussey
- NEW The Making Of Mother: An Interview With Make-up Effects Artist Tony Gardner (28 Mins) HD 
- Rare Behind-The-Scenes Footage From Director Mick Garris (13 Mins) HD 
- Photo Gallery Of Rare Photos From Mick Garris (6 Mins) HD 
- A Look at the Scoring (of) Psycho IV (6 Mins) HD 

I only vaguely remembered watching this on cable back at the start of the grunge decade and had only small hope of it succeeding as a prequel to the iconic suspense classic, but at least it wasn't awful, just not very good, and as such it probably wont ave huge appeal aside from the die-hard collectors, but for those who need it this new edition from Scream Factory looks and sounds great in HD and has some worthy extras. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

SESSION 9 (2001) (Blu-ray Review)

SESSION 9 (2001) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 100 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Brad Anderson
Cast: David Caruso, Josh Lucas, Peter Mullan, Brendan Sexton III, Stephen Gevedon, Josh Lucas

Synopsis: It looms up out of the woods like a dormant beast. Grand, imposing... abandoned and deteriorating, the Danvers State Mental Hospital, closed down for 15 years is about to receive 5 new visitors.Donning protective gear, the men of the Hazmat Elimination Co. venture into the eerily vast and vacant asylum that is filled with an evil and mysterious past. Rampant patient abuse, medieval medical procedures and rumors of demonic possession are some of the many dark secrets the hospital holds – but then so do each of the men.

When I was a kid my dad was employed at the Willard Psychiatric Center in Upstate New York, a place which somewhat oddly loomed large in my youth. With the nearest legit cinema over an hour away I would watch 35mm movies at the asylum in Hadley Hall, an auditorium that served as both gymnasium and a cinema, there was even a bowling alley in basement - the place was very curious. As I recall they ran movies once a month on a Saturday and would screen second run and vintage movies for the patients. There  were usually a handful of other kids there whom I assume had parents who also worked at the asylum. When I wasn't watching movies there I would cut through the sprawling 500 acre grounds on my way nearby Seneca Lake for swimming and fishing, the asylum was perched on a hill overlooking the scenic lake, there was a public swimming area nearby a dock right off the mouth of Pines Creek which offered some awesome fishing opportunities, and in the winter there was a great hill for snow sledding. It seems strange now when I look back at it but the asylum was always there and a part of my life. 

I often wandered what life was like at the place for the inmates, the poor souls who lived there who haunted by inner demons. I could not help but wonder what lead to their being left behind in such a place. Did they ever have hope of leaving, did they have family who visited them? My father worked in a more modern building known as Hatch, but I clearly remember the red brick Victorian era buildings from the the previous century which were no longer in use, they were imposing and gave me the creeps when I walked past them. What primitive psychiatric horrors happened there, were they subjected to electroshock and ice bath therapies, did they perform pre-frontal lobotomies there? In my youth I would wonder about these things, and I still do

With those memories still intact I remember watching Brad Anderson's creepy Session 9 for the first time, it brought all those memories all back to me and seriously gave me the creeps, a claustrophobic tale of five men who have been tasked with cleaning up asbestos at an abandoned psychiatric center, eerily similar to the one I grew up next to. Each of the men are struggling with there own problems, though none more so that Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan) the owner of the small asbestos removal company who put in a low bid to remove asbestos from the Danvers State Hospital, which closed fifteen years earlier after mental health reform and a lawsuit. Gordon is a new father and is burdened with the threat of losing his business along with the rigors of a newborn child at home. Working the job with him are Mike (David Caruso, C.S.I. Miami), Phil (Stephen Gevedon), Hank (Josh Lucas), and Gordon's nephew Jeff (Brendan Sexton III, Welcome to the Dollhouse). right from the start there is animosity between Phil and Mike, as Mike's former girlfriend left him for Phil, a fact that Phil never passes up the opportunity to rub into his face. Jeff is a newbie and a bit of dipshit, and Hank quickly becomes obsessed with reel to reel audio tapes he finds in a records room at the asylum containing a series of audio recordings of therapy sessions with a woman named Mary Hobbes who was a patient at the asylum with dissociative identity disorder, who murdered her family on Christmas day. The creepy sessions are chilling as Hobbes slowly reveals her multiple personalities one by one throughout the course of the movie, first the innocent girl "the Princess", a young boy named "Billy", and the more menacing "Simon" who is reluctant to reveal himself.

As the team gets to work Gordon begins to slowly crumble under the mounting pressure, often stopping to make phone calls to his wife, you get the idea that something bad has happened and he is trying to make-up with her, eventually admitting to his nephew Jeff that he hit her after she accidentally spilled a pot of boiling water on his leg. He's also hearing voices in the asylum, the movie certainly plays a bit like Kubrick's version of The Shining in places. Meanwhile both Phil and Hank are making nightly after hours visits to the asylum pursuing their own private obsessions, Phil having found a stash of valuable in the wall of the basement near the mortuary and Hank is obsessed with those therapy session tapes, staying up all night an immersing himself in the multiple personality madness. 

The atmosphere is thick and tense and the setting is a stroke of genius, the dilapidated asylum is a nightmare and the crew needed to do very little to make it creepier, asylum's are creepy places and it's not hard to imagine someone losing their mind while working inside. Things begin to go awry when Phil goes missing after being attacked,  the guy's assume he's just abandoned the job but in quick succession several more of them men meet death at the asylum, murdered by unseen assailant with an orbitoclast, a tool used to perform lobotomies back in the primitive days of mental healthcare. 

This is a classic slow-burn slice of cinema with some sweet Kubrick-ian camera works, nice slow camera movements that glide along taking in the Gothic views of the crumbling asylum, the way the movie plays out is slow and masterful, there's a deliberate descent into madness that plays along to the scenes of Hank listening to the therapy sessions with Mary Hobbs, which are among the creepiest damn things you will ever hear in a movie. It may take a bit to get a proper head of steam but sometimes the fun is in the simmering of the movie before it boils over, and when it does finally boil over the payoff is haunting and stays with you for quite sometime, good stuff. 

Session 9 (2001) finally arrives on Blu-ray by way of Scream Factory framed in the original scope aspect ratio. The new HD transfer is a marked improvement over the 2002 DVD from Universal. The 1080p HD image is nicely crisp and finely detailed, to a certain degree, the movie was shot on a Sony HD camera in 2001 and the image has limitations but the blacks are nicely deep and the appearance of the image is very pleasing overall, definitely the best it has looked on home video. 

The only audio option aside from a commentary track is a English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0 and it does the job nicely, well-balanced and crisp, those session tapes of Mary Hobbes are nightmare fuel and the music has some nice depth which adds another layer of atmosphere to an already creepy movie. I am a bit surprised this one does not have a surround sound option, the eerie music score and sound design would seem ideal for a surround mix, but the stereo track sounds just fine. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

Scream factory carry over all the extras from the 2002 DVD beginning with a very good if somewhat subdued commentary from Director Brad Anderson and co-writer/actor Stephen Gevedon whom go into some good detail about the creation of the movie, production and stories from the set. Also carried over are a series of Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending with the option to view it with commentary by director Brad Anderson who speaks of how the scenes were trimmed following test screenings when a certain sub plot involving a homeless woman living at the asylum proved to be somewhat confusing. Also carried over are a storyboard to screen comparison, an on-set making of featurette and the theatrical trailer for the movie. 

New and exclusive to the Scream Factory Blu-ray is a forty-nine minute making of doc with interviews from director/co-writer Brad Anderson, actor/co-writer Stephen Gevedon, actors Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Larry Fessenden, composers The Climax Golden Twins and director of photography Uta Briesewitz. A lot of what is brought up is covered in the original commentary but there's some great stuff covered, , including creepy stories from cast and crew of strange happenings on-set, including a fleeting suicidal thought and director of photography Uta Briesewitz nearly being lobotomized in a freak accident on-set with a dental drill! It  is pretty clear the place unnerved many of the cast and crew who seem to believe that there may have been something supernatural happening at the asylum. 

Also new is an episode of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark who visits the location which has changed dramatically since 2001, the main building used in the movie has been torn down, but he visits the cemetery and a few locations used in the movie, plus the episode features vintage camcorder footage of the building used in the movie from 2004 before the building was torn down, it is creepy stuff as he and a few others navigate the dark corridors of the asylum in near total blackness, the footage is rough looking but still very unsettling

Special Features:
- NEW Return to Danvers: The Secrets of SESSION 9 featuring interviews with director/co-writer Brad Anderson, actor/co-writer Stephen Gevedon, actors Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Larry Fessenden, composers The Climax Golden Twins and director of photography Uta Briesewitz (49 Mins) HD
- NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds - revisiting the locations of the film (20 Mins) HD
- Audio Commentary with Brad Anderson and Stephen Gevedon
- Deleted Scenes/ Alternate Ending with/without commentary by director Brad Anderson (10 Mins) HD
- Story to Screen (10 Mins) HD
- The Haunted Palace (13 Mins) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 

Session 9 (2001) is a criminally under-watched movie, hopefully this Blu-ray from Scream Factory will bring it to a wider audience which it so richly deserves. The Blu-ray's improved A/V and worthy new special features make an easy upgrade, well worth the money if you're double-dipping on this one, so dig and enjoy one of the creepiest asylum movies out there, very few have done asylum-horror better or creepier, this is a classic slice scary cinema.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

DER BUNKER (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

DER BUNKER (2015) 
Label: Artsploitation Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Nikias Chryssos
Cast: Nikias Chryssos, Hans W. Geissendörfer, Hana Geissendörfer

Artsploitation have come through with another supreme slice of foreign weirdness, this time they've brought us the German import Der Bunker (2015), a surreal watch about a young boy named Klaus (Daniel Fripan), the son of oddball parents (David Scheller, Oona von Maydell) who live a reclusive life in an underground bunker located deep in the woods. The first bit of weirdness to get out of the way is that young Klaus appears much older than a boy of eight, in reality he is a grown man playing a boy, wearing ill-fitting schoolboy clothing and coming off as a bit developmentally challenged. The question of his age is a bit perplexing, whatever the explanation is it does add yet another odd element to the uneasy proceedings. 

A young man referred to only as the "student" arrives at the family bunker to rent a room which had been advertised as having a view of a lake. He seeks to rent a quiet room where he can fully immerse himself in solitude and his studies. What he finds is a cold, concrete bunker that is sparse and depressing. Despite the poor accommodations he decides to stay on as a tenant with the family, hoping to further his studies into subatomic quantum mechanics or some such science-y type stuff. His studies prove not to be too important to the story as he is quickly overcome by the strange happenings at the bunker-house and the oddball inhabitants who call it home. 

The father is a strict taskmaster prone to lashing his son with a rod when he disapproves of the boys lack of progress with his home studies, at night he dons white-faced mime make-up and tells awful jokes to the family, at dinner he counts how many dumplings and napkins the new tenant eats and makes notes in a journal. Mother is a weirdie, too. A quietly intense woman obsessed with keeping her seemingly challenged son at home, and again the boy seems to have aged well beyond eight years old, perhaps because his domineering parents have not allowed him to grow, perhaps stunted by their claustrophobic neediness. Strangely, Mom and Dad have set a lofty career goal for their son, encouraging him to rise to the challenge of becoming the President of the United States, which as a German might prove to be difficult

Weird seems to be the word of the day while watching Der Bunker, an arty movie that seems to touch on the dangers of suffocating parents, the horrors of home schooling, and wraps it up in a voyeuristic melange of surreal weirdness ... oh, and then there's the addition of a sentient wound on the mother's leg which makes decisions for the family. Yup, way beyond weird and darkly funny, which I was not expecting. The movie has a building sense of quirky dread which I thought would transform into some bloody carnage, but it only unfolds into more surreal lunacy. If a mash-up the 70's cult-classic The Baby (1973) by way of Delicatessen (1991) sounds like a good time, this ought to be a fun watch for you, for others it might just be a head-scratcher. Highly recommended for fans of surreal black comedies. 

Intervision Pictures Corp Release of Lady Libertine / Love Circles Coming On Blu-ray This September


Label: Intervision Pictures Corp

Release Date: September 27th 2016
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 177 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Full screen (1.33:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono 
Director: Gerard Kikoine 
Cast: Christopher Pearson, Jennifer Inch, Sophie Favier and John Sibbit, Marie-France, Josephine Jacqueline Jones

In an effort to increase the global temperature during the more temperate post-Summer months, Intervision Picture Corp is excited to present two titillating feature films from France’s master of erotica, Gérard Kikoïne. Erupting with white hot sexuality and vintage sin, both of these films will satisfy all your wildest desires for art-fueled naughtiness! The flesh gets exposed on September 27th.


Synopsis: Famed French TV game show hostess Sophie Favier stars in this boldly sexy epic about a cross-dressing teenage orphan named 'Frank' who is adopted by a handsome nobleman with his own strange urges. But when the sultry virgin's gender-bend is revealed, her deflowering unleashes a shocking torrent of voyeurism, violation, sadism and submission that will blur the line between pleasure and pain forever!

This 1984 Playboy production ignited an international controversy when Sophie Favier unsuccessfully sued to stop its long awaited re-release. Her court loss is a victory for Skinemax fans everywhere!


Synopsis: From Paris to Rome, Cannes to Hong Kong, and Los Angeles to New York City, the true universal language is lust! In this decadent update of the scandalous classic LA RONDE, a bevy of international beauties complete a chain of liaisons where every urge is fulfilled and no taboo is left unbroken. Will it take more than one man to satisfy a nymphomaniac's voracious needs? How does a single oiled body trigger an unstoppable steam room orgy? What is the ultimate act of love between sisters?

Special Features:

- Interview with director Gerard Kikoine (French with English subs)
- Gerard Kikoine introducing Lady Libertine at the Fantasia Film Festival

Thursday, August 18, 2016

OBSERVANCE (2015) (Artsploitation Blu-ray Review)

Label: Artsploitation Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 86 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 with Optional english Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Joseph Sims-Dennett
Cast: Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King, Brendan Cowell, John Jarratt, Benedict Hardie, Tom O'Sullivan, Roger Ward

Synopsis: Atmospherically creepy and visually unnerving, Australia’s Joseph Sims-Dennett’s startling feature film debut follows Parker, a young man in the grip of grief following the death of his young son, his marriage on the rocks and nearing bankruptcy, but who reluctantly returns to work as a private investigator. His assignment it to observe a woman from an abandoned apartment, and as her watches bizarre happenings surrounding her, he slowly becomes aware that the derelict building he is in has a dark presence which slowly threatens to consume him. A frightening horror tale of a man spiraling into madness and reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s THE TENANT, Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, and the works of David Cronenberg and David Lynch.

The creepy voyeur film Observance comes from Australia by way of distributor Artsploitation Films who have been doing good work bringing the best (and weirdest) that foreign cinema has to offer for a few years now. This one is a real creeper that brought to mind Francis Ford Coppala's underrated The Conversation (1974) by way of a David Lynch tinged version of Rear Window (1954). We have a troubled private eye named Parker (Lindsay Farris) who is hired to monitor a young woman named Tenneal (Stephanie King) for the span of seven days, tasked to watch her and report back to his benefactor, which seems a simple enough assignment. He is set-up in an apartment across the way from the woman with a great view of her place, but the flat they've set him up is real nightmare fuel, the place has faulty electricity and the walls are lined with yellowed newspaper, it looks like a place where nothing good has ever happened ... and what the fuck is that black liquid in a jar up on the shelf? Increasingly Parker becomes aware of the while not much is happening to the mysterious woman that a lot of weird stuff is happening to him, things not easily dismissed. 

He become increasingly obsessed with the beautiful woman, haunted by sexual dreams of her, all the while becoming more and more concerned about the nature of the assignment, of which everything seems ambiguous, nothing is clearly defined. Soon sores begins appear on his back, he begins vomiting awful black goo, and as his health and sanity begin to erode as he begins to spiral down a hole of madness, one with possible supernatural overtones. The movie brought to mind the early works of Roman Polanski like Repulsion (1965) and The Tenant (1976), with a bit of that David Lynch strangeness and some choice Brian De Palma tendencies, but without coming off as a clone or copy, all of these influences are swirled together into a claustrophobic concoction of weirdness, voyeurism and paranoia that made for a great watch. 

It is a bit of slow-burn that doesn't go out of its way to explain much to the viewer, which I appreciated, this is definitely a movie for fans of slow-burn weirdness. This Australian export is a high recommend, a thoroughly eerie and spellbinding watch. Fans of creepy slow-burn cinema like Session 9 (2001), The Tenant (1976), and Kill List (2011) are strongly urged to seek this one out.  

SATANIC PANIC Now available in paperback and hardcover (limited edition) via FAB Press

Now available in paperback and hardcover (limited edition)
via FAB Press

"An electrifying descent into '80s-era cultural terror."
- Mike McPadden, author of Heavy Metal Movies

In the 1980s, it seemed impossible to escape Satan's supposed influence. Everywhere you turned, there were warnings about a widespread evil conspiracy to indoctrinate the vulnerable through the media they consumed. This percolating cultural hysteria, now known as the "Satanic Panic," not only sought to convince us of devils lurking behind the dials of our TVs and radios and the hellfire that awaited on book and video store shelves, it also created its own fascinating cultural legacy of Satan-battling VHS tapes, audio cassettes and literature. 

Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s offers an in-depth exploration of how a controversial culture war played out during the decade, from the publication of the memoir Michelle Remembers in 1980 to the end of the McMartin "Satanic Ritual Abuse" Trial in 1990.

Satanic Panic features new essays and interviews by 20 writers who address the ways the widespread fear of a Satanic conspiracy was both illuminated and propagated through almost every pop culture pathway in the 1980s, from heavy metal music to Dungeons & Dragons role playing games, Christian comics, direct-to-VHS scare films, pulp paperbacks, Saturday morning cartoons, TV talk shows and even home computers. The book also features case studies on Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth and Long Island "acid king" killer Ricky Kasso. From con artists to pranksters and moralists to martyrs, the book captures the untold story of how the Satanic Panic was fought on the pop culture frontlines and the serious consequences it had for many involved.

"An often hilarious, sometimes terrifying view into the damage that can be caused when belief outweighs reason." - Daniel XIII, Famous Monsters of Filmland

Pre-order, Images, etc: 

VICE interview with editors:

The Authors
SATANIC PANIC features essays and interviews by authors and media critics including Adam Parfrey (Apocalypse Culture), Gavin Baddeley (The Gospel of Filth, Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship and Rock n' Roll), Liisa Ladouceur (Encyclopedia Gothica), David Flint (SHEER FILTH!), Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (Rape Revenge Films: A Critical Study), Adrian Mack (The Georgia Straight), Forrest Jackson (Cosmic Suicide: The Tragedy and Transcendence of Heaven's Gate), Alison Nastasi (Flavorwire), Leslie Hatton (Popshifter), David Canfield (Twitch), David Bertrand (Fangoria; Spectacular Optical), Alison Lang (Rue Morgue, Broken Pencil), Kevin L. Ferguson (Eighties People), Wm Conley (Deathwound), Kurt Halfyard (Twitch), Samm Deighan (Satanic Pandemonium), Stacey Rusnak (The Postnational Fantasy: Essays on Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction), Ralph Elawani (C'est complet au royaume des morts), Gil Nault (Liturgie apocryphe), one-man band John Schooley and Joshua Benjamin Graham, alongside co-editors Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women) and Paul Corupe (Canuxploitation). The book also features comic art by Rick Trembles (Motion Picture Purgatory) and original illustrations by Toronto artist Mike McDonnell.

Stephen David Brooks Invites Audiences Into FLYTRAP

FLYTRAP (2015) 

Available Now on Amazon Instant Video

Available August 23rd on iTunes and Vudu
"A hint of Kubrick, a soupçon of Tarkovsky, all expertly mixed into an intoxicating cocktail by master barman and writer/director Stephen's very own intriguing brand of dark humour and clever writing. All extremely well lit, shot and acted - 
Jeremy Crutchley and the rest of the cast are brilliant." 
-- International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema London

My Man Productions has announced the rollout release of Stephen David Brooks' Flytrap on Digital HD.  Following an impressive year on the international film festival circuit, Flytrap is now streaming on Amazon Instant Video and Google Play.  It will be available to rent or own starting August 23rd on iTunes, Vudu and more.

Order Flytrap on Amazon Instant

Preorder Flytrap on iTunes

Since its debut on the film festival circuit, Flytrap has consistently won acclaim and awards around the world.  Among the awards won are Best Non-European Indie Feature at the European Independent Film Festival in France, Best Low Budget Feature at Worldfest Houston, Special Jury Prize at the Chelsea Film Festival as well as Best Feature, Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Blechman) and Best Ensemble at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

Jeremy Crutchley ("Salem", "Black Sails") centers the film as a stranger in a strange land held at the whims of peculiar housemates Ina-Alice Kopp (Big Gay Love), Jonah Blechman (This Boy's Life, Another Gay Movie), Gabrielle Stone (Cut!) and Jason Duplissea ("Parks and Recreation").

On the day he arrives in the U.S. to teach at UCLA, paranoia roots itself into James Pond, a reserved English astronomer, who is seduced and quickly trapped in a suburban Los Angeles house by the mysterious and alluring Mary Ann and her equally bizarre housemates.  Are these people in a doomsday cult?  What do they want?  Are they even human?  This psychological, sci-fi thriller hybrid unfolds as James attempts to escape his freakishly foreign captors.  Even if he could escape, would the world believe his crazy story?

Flytrap Trailer from Stephen David Brooks on Vimeo.