Friday, November 18, 2016

MERIDIAN (1990) (Full Moon Blu-ray Review)

MERIDIAN (1990) 

Label: Full Moon Features

Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 85 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 
Director: Charles Band
Cast: Sherilyn Fenn, Malcolm Jamieson, Hilary Mason, Alex Daniels, Phil Fondacaro

In Meridian (1990) Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) stars as Catherine Bomarzini who returns to her family's ancestral castle in Italy after the death of her father. There she reunites with her former childhood nanny, the kindly Martha (Hilary Mason, Dolls) who watches after the castle and has cared for her family for generations. What Catherine does not know is that her inherited birthright includes a secret family curse, one that promises Gothic romance and tragedy, haunting visions and some troubling date-rape by a hairy-beast! 

After arriving at the castle Catherine is joined by her art school classmate 
Gina (Charlie Spradling)who is employed in Italy doing art restoration for a local church, together they go out for a night on the town and wind up at the Fauvrey's World of Wonders carnival. The women are so impressed by the wonderment of magician  Lawrence Fauvrey (Malcolm Jamieson) that they invites him and his troupe of carnie performers back to the castle for some late-night dinner and wine. The magician seems charming and well-mannered, but his evil dwarf (Phil Fondacaro, Ghoulies 2) drugs the women's wine and the night devolves to a hallucinatory rape and orgy scene, featuring a hairy-backed beast who fornicates with the drugged Catherine. 

Afterward, despite the date-rape, Catherine maintains a weird relationship with the rape-y magician, who it turns out has a twin brother. One is good, one is evil, both are cursed, and are somehow entwined into Bomarzini family history. Soon after Catherine begins having visions of a murdered woman in white around the castle, when she tells Martha of her visions the old woman brushes it off as an old family superstition, but as the visions become stronger she reluctantly reveals that the woman she is seeing is Catherine's own aunt, who was murdered years ago by someone from the Fauvrey's World of Wonders. Ah, the date-rapey plot thickens. 

The movie promised Gothic romance along the lines of Dracula by way of Beauty and the Beast, it also promises plenty of nude Sherilyn Fenn, which it delivers to varying degrees, but the movie is a hot mess with a half-hearted script written by regular Full Moon scribe Dennis Paoli, whom in the past has done some great work with Stuart Gordon (Pit and the Pendulum, From Beyond, Re-Animator), but this cursed Gothic romance doesn't flow so well, and throwing rape into a romance is just troubling. What it does have going for it aside from an amply nude Fenn, who is stunning, is that it was lensed by cinematographer Mac Ahlberg (Hell Night, From Beyond) who gives the movie a nice sumptuous look on what was surely a shoestring budget> We also get a decent score from the talented Pino Donaggio (Carrie, Dressed to Kill), and some competent direction from Full Moon impresario Charles Band. It's not the most engaging movie you will watch this week, or maybe even today, but it has some keen Gothic elements and that peculiar Full Moon visual style that makes me nostalgic for the 90s, but like I said, the overall movie is a drawn-out romance yawner, not helping matters is the fact that the romance is triggered by a drug-induced date-rape! 

The real draw here is Sherilyn Fenn who would this same year go onto TV fame with David Lynch's Twin Peaks as the sweater-rockin' Audrey Horne, she is kind enough to bare her voluptuous top-shelf assets multiple times throughout, most notably in an extended rape-seduction scene, which was nice but the sexual politics of this things are twisted indeed, if you can get beyond that there are some cheap Gothic-tinged thrills to be had and plenty of Sherilyn Fenn in 1080p HD

The movie arrives on single-disc Blu-ray from Full Moon and is advertised as being restored from the original 35mm camera negatives. The end result is a mixed bag, it looks very nice framed in widescreen, it is a step-up in all the expected areas, however the image is a bit dark and thick at times, but this is the best the movie has looked on home video to date, it's just not the most crisp and wonderful HD image you could hope for. While advertised as being sourced from the OCN there are numerous instances of dirt, debris and slight print damage that I would typically associate as coming from a theatrical print, but I don't have any info on that other than what is advertised on the disc. That being said, I was pleased with what we have, it's not reference quality, but it beats the snot out of the previous fullframe DVD releases. Like all of Full Moon's Blu-rays up to this point they have forgone a lossless audio option and go with choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 mixes, the stereo is they way to go here, the surround mix is forced and front-centric.
Extras on the disc are limited to a vintage 5-min behind-the-scenes featurette and a selection of Full Moon trailers, including one for Meridian under the alternate title of The Ravaging.