Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CHEECH AND CHONG'S NEXT MOVIE (1980) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Shout! Factory/Shout Select 

Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 95 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Tommy Chong
Cast: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Cassandra Peterson, Edie McClurg, Phil Hartman, John Paragon, Paul Reubens 

The Cheech and Chong movies were my introduction to the joys of r-rated stoner comedy and irreverent humor, I clearly remember marathoning the first three films on VHS when I was just a kid, it was on a sleepover at the Woodard's house, friends of the family, whose kids were around my age even if we were not close. It was a memorable night, one that culminated with one of my first deep adolescent make-out session, a weird and wonderful night with occasional breaks in the fumbling make-out session as the pretty young lady would make me cookies in her Easy Bake oven, we were that young! Needless to stay that night has stuck with me for decades, for various reasons, but I walked away from it with a love for the movies of Cheech and Chong and a series of awkward post make-out middle school encounters with the young lady, it turned out that it would be a one-night only romance, and apparently one that weirded us both out, as we spoke very little for the next seven years of school, right up till our graduation, and sadly she died not long after that in a car accident.

Anyway, 'nuff about my doomed adolescent romance, the sequel to Up In Smoke (1978) opens with our stoner-duo, low-rider dude Cheech and and his more laid back stoner friend Chong, illegally siphoning gas for their "borrowed" car, getting high while debating the merits of their current employment situations before blowing themselves up in a ball of fire, something having to do with gas fumes and lighting a joint I guess. From there the movie plays out as a series of humorous vignettes/sketches about the lovable losers as they set about creating their own brand of acid-rock and going to the unemployment office for a government handouts, a fun scene that culminates with Chong doing the nasty with a foxy girlfriend Donna (Evelyn Guerrero, The Toolbox Murders) on the floor of her office and an encounter with the "Man of 10,000 Sound Effects" Michael Winslow (from the Police Academy films), in his first on-screen role if my memory serves. 

The movie has very little plot other than the L.A. weed-heads looking to score weed and poontang, the pair are sort of separated for a large portion of the movie as Cheech kicks Chong out of their rundown house so he can score with Donna, sending Chong to pick-up his far out cousin Red (Marin in a dual role) while Cheech stays at home cleaning-up, ironing clothes, drinking tequila and eventually falling asleep, having a series of surreal doped-up dreams, including some strange Aztec necrophilia! Meanwhile Chong and yahoo Red embark on a series of wild L.A. adventures, beginning with Red being kicked-out of his hotel, with the obnoxious desk clerk (Paul Reubens, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) holding his belongings for ransom until Red can pay for his room. When Chong learns that one of his duffel bags contains 20 pounds of primo homegrown weed the two plot to get it back, and once they do they embark on another series of scattershot L.A. adventures, heading to a brothel before being kicked out, hanging with one of the whores named Candy (Betty Kennedy) at a music shop where they jam out, then hooking up with a hip richie-rich woman named Gloria (Cheech's wife Rikki Marin, Nice Dreams), who takes the trio home to her parents sprawling mansion. Gloria's mother is played by the always shrill and funny Edie McClurg (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), and her father (Sy Kramer) just happens to be one of Candy's best clients at the whorehouse, with a penchant for tying her up, the horrifying encounter making him squirm in his seat over dinner.

Eventually all five end up in the families Rolls Royce smoking and giant-sized joint and headed for a comedy club where they once again encounter an angry Pee-wee Herman, ruining his set by taking it over, and causing him to be thrown out by a huge female bouncer (Faith Minton, The Wanderers). The episodic mess of a film ends with Red and Chong on the run from the law in a Ferrari, headed to his fabled field of week, ending with an alien abduction, yup, you heard me right, it goes there, but it doesn't end there. The aliens are super cool and give the pair a bag of "space coke", which Chong takes back to Cheech, literally sending the pair through the roof. 

The movie starts off strong, like the predecessor the narrative is loose, Cheech and Chong are hilarious, but the introduction of Red is when it begins to lose some steam in my opinion, he's just not that interesting of a character to watch, it feels padded, and I would have rather has our leads together on this adventure, it a bad idea and the movie suffers for it. I still like it but it's a step down from Up In Smoke, but still funny, just more flawed and padded. 

Audio/Video: The 70's stoner comedy classic arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory as part of their Shout Select line, I don't think this is a new transfer from Shout!, but probably an HD master straight from Universal. The image is fairly crisp and pleasing, while there's not a lot of depth the grain is nicely managed and there's some decent fine detail. The English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio exports the stoner jams, dialogue and Mark Davis (The Night Before) score nicely, also featuring songs great tunes from The Pretenders, Jimmy Reed, The Champs and Ray Charles among others, it has a great soundtrack, plus some Cheech and Chong originals like "Mexican American" and "Beaner". Optional English subtitles are included. 

For those curious, this version does not contain any of the legendary TV version footage, known as the "diamond" cut, containing additional scenes not included on the theatrical release, which if memory serves included an animated intro and scenes of them boarding the alien ship at the end. However, this is the original theatrical release with the original music score and dialogue intact, which had been altered on some previous home video releases. While I know fans were clamoring for the TV edit of this to be included I do commend Shout for rectifying the altered dialogue and music and staying true to the original theatrical version. 

Onto the extras we have the theatrical trailer, five minutes of radio spots and a brand new 19-min interview with Cheech Marin who speaks about the making of the movie, the influence of the L.A. characters they observed on the streets, the difference between making comedy albums and the movies, working with the Groundlings crew, how in real life that he and Chong were both very disciplined, health conscious and reserved. It's a good listen, would have loved a commentary or some input from writer/director/actor Tommy Chong, but what we do get is good. The release comes housed in a standard blue keepcase, with a sleeve of reversible artwork, both significant improvements over the awful 2003 DVD artwork from Universal.   

Special Features: 

- NEW Interview With Cheech Marin (19 min) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (3 min) 
- Radio Spots (5 min

The movie is totally disjointed, directed by Tommy Chong himself, the movie doesn't have a lot of visual flair or style, but the comedy is strong and it always makes me laugh, a lot. Marin and Chong were pioneers of irreverent stoner comedy, both on LP and on film, and while the movie narrative is disjointed as Hell it still works for me on the whole, this is a fun, crude stoner jam. 3/5

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST (1974) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: The Film Detective

Rating: R
Region Code: A
Duration: 86 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Manuel Caño 
Cast: Aldo Sambrell, Fernando Sanchez, Eva León

This voodoo mummy schlock-epic comes to us from director Manuel Caño (The Swamp of the Ravens) and opens with a pair of sneaky lovers Guedé Nibo (Aldo Sambrell, A Bullet For The General) and Kenya (Eva León, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll) clandestinely meeting on the edge of the water on an Caribbean island, they canoodle in a canoe for a bit before they are caught by her angry father, or husband, I couldn't quite place the relationship honestly. 

Hilariously, and horrendously, both Guedé and Kenya are played in straight-up blackface, and full body, makeup! As they splash around in the surf during the ensuing fight between Guedé and the angry old man the makeup washes off in splotches, right away this movie screams at you, "you're watching a bad movie!". Anyway, the old man ends up falling on a knife, killed by accident, and the Caribbean tribe the lovers belong to punish them for their deadly indiscretion. During a tribal ceremony, in which they are plenty of topless women and tiki torches, Kenya is decapitated and her head is passed around like a morbid sports trophy, while Guedé is poisoned and buried alive in wooden sarcophagus in the bowels of a cave. We're given some awful narration that explains that in one thousand years ...or maybe two thousand, that Guedé Nibo "will seek his beloved, blood will be spilled, everything will start again.", or some such horseshit.

Of course, a thousand years later ...or maybe two, the sarcophagus has been unearthed and is in the possession of Professor Kessling (Alfredo Mayo), it is being loaded onto a luxury cruise ship headed for Port au Prince, and it turns out that narrator wasn't wrong about that blood flowing.  At night the cruise ship entertainment reenacts a tribal voodoo ceremony and sure 'nuff mummified Guedé rises from his sarcophagus and wanders out onto the deck of the ship where he is rejuvenated by the ocean sun, also turning quite a bit whiter than he appeared a thousand years ago, though well-tanned. He also manages to acquire a swanky gold Nehru jacket, which looks conspicuous to say the least. While cruising the ship Guedé recognizes Kessling's assistant/lover Sylvia (Léon) as the reincarnation of hs beloved Kenya, and she too is a few shades whiter than she appeared earlier, I guess we can at least be thankful both were not in blackface for the whole damn movie!

From here Guedé embarks on a murder spree on the cruise ship, he seems to need to kill to maintain his youth, and his victims are aplenty, including decapitating a ship steward who conveniently turns out to be the reincarnated form of the man who lobbed off the head of Kenya a thousand years earlier. Guedé takes the guy's head and places it in Sylvia's bed Godfather style, as a token of his vengeance, which doesn't go over so well with her. 

As the bodies begin to pile-up a local detective arrives on scene, Dominguez (Fernando Sancho, Return of The Blind Dead), perhaps one of the most inept detective of all time, a slob who chooses to sip gin and observe while the blood flows freely around him. The story is also populated by some colorful side character, a thick and attractive fire-eating dancer (Tanyeka Stadler), the clairvoyant Mrs. Thorndike (María Antonia del Río, The Beasts of Terror), whose tarot cards early on predict that a mysterious stranger will bring death aboard the ship, which is true enough.

The whole 70's imhotep on a cruise ship shindig has the feel of a standard issue mummy film, what with the mummy finding the reincarnated form of his former lover in modern times circa '74, the ageless story of a love that spans the ages. I liked the idea that he had to kill to maintain his youthful visage, the make-up effects seems done with sculpted clay and time-lapse photography, its low-budget but somewhat effective. While the movie has few inspired moments on the whole the things is way too corny and kitschy to be taken seriously for long, I mean it begins with blackface, c'mon. At one point Guedé intercepts a science colleague of Kessling's at the airport, throwing him under the crushing wheel of a steamroller, co-opting his identity, which Kessling realizes right away, but Guedé manages to coerce the professor's loyalty by providing him with valuable insights into the primitive past. Perhaps the silliest of the film's numerous silly moments would be when someone goes up against the mummy with a damn fire hose, spraying him down with high-pressure water, too funny, and a WTF ending that has the cops taking a flamethrower to the mummy, burning his intended victim alive in the process, too, no one seeming to care even a little bit that they just flash fried an innocent woman. 

Audio/Video: Voodoo Black Exorcist (1974) arrives on Blu-ray in the proper 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio courtesy of The Film Detective, with a brand new 2K scan of 35mm archival print. Seeing it in widescreen for the first time, after years of public domain pan and scan presentations, was nice even if it's not optimal. The source is soft and has some chunky, even grainy, pocked with print damage by way of green nicks and scratches running throughout.  The dubbed-English audio chores are handled by a DTS-HD MA 2.0 that does the job and that's about it, the score is not very remarkable, but I did dig the fuzzed-out guitar title song from Fernando García Morcillo (The Cannibal Man). There are also optional English subtitles. 

As with all of The Film Detectives Blu-ray releases this is not a pressed disc, but a manufactured-on-demand BD-R, with a professionally printed sleeve. There are not special features, this is a bare-bones disc, not even a trailer. 

Voodoo Black Exorcist (1973) has never looked better on home video, but it is still a bad BAD movie with plenty of kitsch and unintentional humor, cheap special effects and an odd abundance of attractive cinematography. A total trashy 70's horror film loaded with topless tribal dancing and unintentional hilarity, while it's certainly entertaining it just is not a good movie, bad movie connoisseurs should have a blast with this one. 2/5

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

FROM HELL IT CAME (1957) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Warner Archive
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 71 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Dan Milner
Cast: Tod Andrews, Tina Carver, Linda Watkins, John McNamara, Gregg Palmer, Robert Swan, Baynes Barron, Suzanne Ridgeway, Mark Sheeler, Lee Rhodes, Grace Mathews, Tani Marsh, Chester Hayes, Lenmana Guerin 

Synopsis: Beware Tabonga! On a remote South Seas island, no one is safe from this hideous...and Tabonga is part man, part tree, all doom. Formerly an island prince, he was unjustly put to death by a witch doctor. Now he's returned to life with roots, branches and a vengeance. Against natives. Against visiting American scientists who investigate the tree's radioactive green sap. Against anyone unwise enough to expect a tree to stay put. A macabre medley of creature feature, Polynesian kitsch and Atomic Age cautionary tale, From Hell It Came is the killer-tree movie you woodn't want to miss!

This 50's atomic age monster/jungle voodoo mash-up features a group of American scientist on a South Pacific island, ostensibly there to do research on the radioactive fallout from nearby atomic weapons test, but they've also committed to help find cure for the black plague which has afflicted the local indigenous people, whom are played with all the appalling stereotypical and condescending tanned awfulness you'd expect from the 50's film. At the top of the b-picture we have the tribe's prince, Kimo (Gregg Palmer), being executed for the poisoning of his chieftain father, the ceremony has all the campy charm of a 3rd grade lulua complete with hula skirts and tiki torches. Kimo is staked to the ground and a ceremonial dagger is plunged into his heart, but not before he swears he will have his vengeance from beyond the grave, in a way that is part Salem Witch Trial and sort of along the lines of Obi Wan's  “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine" speech from Star Wars. Turns out that poor Kimo was framed by the the tribes medicine man, a rival, and his own damned wife, the sexy liar Korey (Suzanne Ridgway, The She-Creature), who betrays Kimo for the chance to marry the new chief.

After killing him they bury him in the ground, and soon a strange wooden faced figure begins to sprout from soil, said to the dreaded Tobanga, a tree of terror! The trio of scientist, Dr. William Arnold (Tod Andrews), cute lady doc Terry Mason (Tina Carver) and Dr. Clark (John McNamara), along with a the horny Cockney widow Mae Kilgore (Linda Watkins) and the ex-communicated local servant girl Naomi (Tani Marsh), look into the growing tree menace. While noting that the wooden growth is strange the science-types do not believing it will rise from the ground and take it's wooden revenge as foretold by the indigenous people, but of course they are so wrong.

The movie is a bit plodding at the beginning, it drags along like a 50s soap opera for far too long with widow Mae Kilgore shamelessly begging to be examined by the hands of a handsome doctor, there a burgeoning romance between two of the docs, and the tribe offers some minor menace towards the Americans as they are wary of the American medicine, which they blame for killing their chief. Then there's the lovely native Naomi speaking at length about how she was cast out of the tribe because of her mixed heritage, and loads of science mumbo-jumbo about radiation and the plague, but once the knotty and vengeful stump emerges things pick up considerably, beginning with a native-girl cat fight! 

Eventually Tobanga uproots himself and sets about having his revenge as promised by Kimo, the lurching tree stump is a hoot, the kitsch factor come on full-tilt with this scowling wooden golem, complete with an exterior beating heart and the very same dagger used to kill Kimo protruding from said heart. The damn thing moves so slow you almost have to fall into it's arms for it to get you, and that's exactly what happens, tossing his first victim, that lying bitch Korey, into some quicksand. Other encounters have a native warrior chucking a spear from three-feet away only to miss, and Tobonga hiding among the trees, clever tree, and snatching the science lady. 

The design of the Tobonga creature is, in my humble opinion, pretty awesome, a deeply grooved wooden visage with loads of texture, that creepy exterior heart pumping away, and large goofy eyes and a permanent scowl plastered on its face. The damn thing is silly as shit, but also loads of bad b-movie fun, which is a good summation of this movie, a movie so over-the-top with z-grade awfulness that it has somehow manages to come all the way back around to becoming good, in a bad way.   

Audio/Video: This clunker from Hell arrives on Blu-ray from the cinema archivists  over at the Warner Archive with a brand new 2017 2K restoration, presented in the original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The black and white image looks crisp and nicely detailed, the grain can be a bit chunky during a few scenes, but this is a nice upgrade from their previous DVD. The nooks and crannies of Tabonga's rubber-barked visage look fantastic, with a ever-present scowl on his wooden face, and the tiki-fashion of the island natives have never looked more machine made, like they pulled them right off the shelf at the local Woolworth's department store back in the day. The black and white image looks wonderful, nicely detailed and with good contrast. The English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono audio does the job, but just that, cleanly and crisply exported, within the limits of the source material. The Darrell Calker score, like the dialogue and creature, is good for a few laughs with some odd choices peppered throughout, optional English Subtitles are provided. The only extra on the disc is a theatrical trailer for the movie.  

Warner Archive have been swooning me as of late with loads of b-movie offerings on Blu-ray, we've seen crisp 1080p presentations of menacing artificial intelligence, stop-motion dinosaur action, and now a wonderfully awful slice of kitschy treevenge, they're doing the cinema Lord's work, and I love 'em for it, keep it up! 

Monday, May 15, 2017



Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Duration: 90 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Audio: English PCM 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Cast: Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald, Ernie Hudson, Andrea Marcovicci, Deborah Pratt, Michael Ironside
Director: Lamont Johnson 

Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone hit the cinema back in '83 as part of the 80s 3D revival, the same year as Jaws 3D, Friday the 13th 3D, and Amityville 3D, the Canadian slice of sci-fi was produced by Ivan Reitman a few years before his success with Ghostbusters. It's set in the 22nd century, where somewhere in space a luxury space cruiser explodes and is destroyed for reasons unknown, the lone survivors are a trio of Earth women who escape in a lifepod, they land on a nearby habitable planet, Terra XI, where they are quickly kidnapped by a group of pirate-scavengers known as "scavs". 

Out in space salvage ship captain Wolff (Peter Strauss, XXX: State of the Union) receives the call for the safe return of the women, a large credit-reward has been issued for their safe return, so he and his sexy android engineer Chalmers (Andrea Marcovicci, The Stuff) head towards Terra VI, arriving on the planet's surface in a space-jeep, called a "scrambler", but it's not long before poor Chalmers is taken out in a battle with the space pirates, during which the trio of Earth women are stolen away by another group of scavs, a rival faction called the "zoners", who abduct the women via rocket powered hang-gliders!  The Zoners take the women to the planet's half-man/half-machine ruler, Overlord, portrayed by a heavily make-upped Michael Ironside (Visiting Hours), almost unrecognizable under all the prosthetic make-up. Overlord rules the wastelands with an iron-fist along with his evil sidekick, a mad scientist known as The Chemist (Hrant Alianak, Pontypool). 

With his android destroyed Wolff is on his own until he meets a spunky Earth orphan named  Niki (Molly Ringwald, Sixteen Candles) who offers to guide him through the wastelands in in exchange for some food and wheeled transportation, together they set out to recover the Earth girls, having to contend with more bands of deformed mutants, amphibious warrior women, and other Mad Max-styled menaces, plus a fellow salvager named Washington (Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters).

The kernel of this movie probably started off as a pulpy maple-blooded Star Wars knock-off with a rogue salvage captain in space, but somehow it ends up more along the lines of a Mad Max/Road Warrior on another planet with apocalyptic wastelands and vicious, and a bit goofy, desert dwelling menaces. It's cheap, it's rough, and is not very good, but I do find it fun in a bad movie sort of way, if you have any love for the cheapie Italian post-apocalyptic movies like Exterminators in the Year 3000 then this might be worth a watch, but keep in mind that it's PG-rated and there's no blood or gore, this one is pretty sanitized for the kiddies. 

Not helping is that the movie is sort of dull, not just the action, but also the visuals are really hit or miss, there's some cool shots in space with miniature ships and corny explosions at the beginning, but this thing anchors on planet Terra VI quickly. There are some cool armored vehicles, mutants with various weapons, and a villainous lair for the Overlord complete with a "thunderdome" styles maze of death, but those exterior shots on the planet's surface are bathed in red which makes it an eyesore to watch, but the shots off the planet's surface and in the interior of caves and alien architecture are kinda cool, like when Niki and Wolff go up against a band of amphibious warrior women, only to be interrupted by a dragon-snake sort of thing, the setting is cool, the women look like extras in the Motley Crue "Looks That Kills: video, but that dragon thing looks damn awful. Sure, we get a cool shot or two, like a cool looking matte painting of the alien skyline, but more often than not the movie fails to deliver, as dull looking as the plot is derivative and confused. 

Strauss and Ringwald are just okay, Strauss takes the movie way too seriously, and Ringwald is just an annoying brat who I found hard to stomach, and that's coming from someone who has had a crush on Reinwald from the age of ten! Her character sputters off corny space-lingo like a galactic version of Heather's. She's probably lucky that John Hughes tapped her for Sixteen Candles the following year or she might have ended up in more dreck like this.

This review probably paint a poor image for the film, but it is very bad, but if you like myself find joy in the Roger Corman produced lo-fi sci-fi films of the 70s and you just happen to dig post-apocalyptic dreck, this is not without it's own brand of 80's cheese awesomeness. 

Audio/Video: Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone (1983) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment. The film has a bit of a storied history, originally presented in the cinema as a 3D movie framed in 2.35:1, but also screened in 2D in 1.85:1 from what I gather. It has been formerly released on DVD by Columbia Pictures in 2001 in the 1.85 aspect ratio. The presentation from Mill Creek is advertised as 1.78, which is a re-framing, and the image does seem to lose some minor information on all sides when compared to the 1.85:1 framed DVD, which is unfortunate, especially when some are already bumming about the fact that they aren't getting the 3D presentation. When this title was announced I know a lot of the forums were clamoring for a 3D release, but did anyone really think Mill Creek would be going all out for this Canadian slice of sci-fi schlock? The source and transfer look problematic, there's some chunky grain, noise artifacts, and grit and debris to contend with, the image is flat with poor depth and contrast, and fine detail is lacking. The image is not helped by the use of a red filter during the exterior shots on the planet's surface, the interior shots are more pleasing, but not significantly, but at least they're not bathed in red.  

Audio on the disc is limited to a lossless LPCM 2.0 stereo track, it's a crisp and clean stereo presentation that handles the action sequences and sound effects with some nice depth, the Elmer Bernstein (Ghostbusters, Heavy Metal) score sounds nicely buoyant. Optional English subtitles are provided. There are no extras on the disc, not even a start-up menu, you slip the disc and it starts to play. While Mill Creek, to my knowledge, have never produced any extras for their releases, unless it was supplied by the licensor, I wish they would maybe do a signature series with a few extras for fans, they have a decent catalog to pull from and it's a great value-add. One thing they did right was the artwork, totally digging the illustration, a big improvement over the 2001 DVD in my opinion.   

Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone (1983) is a pulpy post-Star Wars slice of Canadian schlock cinema, there's maple flowing through it's veins, but there's also a healthy dose of cheese. It feels more like a PG-version of an Italian post-apocalyptic Mad Max knock-off than a Star Wars knock-off, this is sub Ice Pirates stuff, but if you love bad b-movies this should fit the bill for a Friday night cheese-fest. The disc from Mill Creek is not great, but it is a slight improvement over the previously available DVD, but not by much, it's presented in the wrong aspect ratio and with no extras, not even a trailer. If you can find it for under $10 this might be worth the upgrade, it's also available on DVD as a double-bill with 80's fantasy film Krull from Mill Creek. 2/5  


MAGNETlg_bw copy

Magnet Releasing, the genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, announced today that they have acquired North American rights to BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, the highly-anticipated new title from legendary Japanese director Takashi Miike, which is his 100th film.

Takuya Kimura, one of Japan’s biggest stars (HERO, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE), plays the lead alongside newcomer Hana Sugisaki. Sôta Fukushi and Ebizô Ichikawa (13 ASSASSINS, HARA KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI) round out the cast with veterans Min Tanaka and Tsutomu Yamazaki. BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL marks the second collaboration between Miike and Magnet, following 2011’s wildly successful samurai masterpiece 13 ASSASSINS.

The film will have its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in Official Selection next week, marking the third title Magnolia/Magnet has in this year’s festival, after Arnaud Desplechin’s opener ISMAEL’S GHOSTS and Ruben Östlund’s THE SQUARE.

Based on Hiroaki Samura’s long-running manga of the same name, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL follows an immortal warrior who is enlisted by a young girl to avenge her parents' slaughter at the hand of a group of master swordsmen. Magnet plans to release the film later this year.

“We've been huge fans of Miike for a long time and couldn’t be more excited to work with him again on BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “The action and fight choreography in this film are both visceral and balletic. They’re on another level.”

“I’m pleased to present my latest film,” said Miike. “It is a Samurai Action about an immortal warrior. Love and tears splatter with arms, legs and heads that are chopped and splattered. I hope the audience will be prepared for this and enjoy the film.”

Directed by Takashi Miike, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL was written by Tetsuya Oishi and produced by Jeremy Thomas, Misako Saka, and Shigeji Maeda, with Warner Bros. Japan.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia co-EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden, with Gabrielle Stewart and Nicole Mackey at HanWay Films on behalf of the filmmakers.


On Blu-ray/DVD June 27th!

Pre-order is up at!

Directed by legendary cult filmmaker Al Adamson (DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN), NURSE SHERRI is a violent and sleazy hybrid of ‘nurse’ films and supernatural horror. Chock full of gloriously ludicrous twists, over the top death scenes, and a smattering of T/A, Vinegar Syndrome proudly presents NURSE SHERRI on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world, freshly restored in 2k off of its original 35mm negative and featuring all new interviews with its stars and iconic producer Sam Sherman.


• Region free Blu-ray/DVD combo pack
• Newly scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm original negative
• Commentary track with Producer Sam Sherman
• “Nurses’ Confessions” – featurette with co-stars Jill Jacobson and Marliyn Joi
• Alternate feature length ‘exploitation’ version (DVD only)
• “Then and Now” – locations featurette
• Promotional still gallery
• Original trailers
• Reversible cover artwork
• English SDH Subtitles

On Blu-ray/DVD June 27th!

Pre-order is up at!

Acclaimed filmmaker, Joe Sarno’s, ribald and raucous comedy, A TOUCH OF GENIE, co-stars Tina Russell, Harry Reems, Lynn Stevens, and more. Filled with borscht-belt humor, meta antics, and torrid eroticism, GENIE is a sexploitation classic like no other and is coming to Blu-ray newly restored from its original 35mm camera negative and fully uncut for the first time from Vinegar Syndrome.


• Region free Blu-ray/DVD combo pack
• Newly scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm original camera negative
• “A Touch of Eric” – video interview with actor Eric Edwards
• “All About Joe” – video interview with biographer Michael Bowen
• Original theatrical trailer
• Reversible cover artwork
• English SDH Subtitles

Also coming to DVD June 27th:


Monday, May 8, 2017



Label: Synapse Films 

Region Code: Region-FREE (NTSC)
Duration: 380 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles, English Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1),(2.35:1), Fullscreen (1.33:1) 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Karl Inger, Gabi Bäzner, Wolfgang Hinz, Steve Aquilina, Andreas Schnaas,  Anke Prothmann, Claudia von Bihl, Marc Trinkhaus, Uwe Grüntjes, Winni Holl, Matthias Kerl, Timo Rose, Magdalèna Kalley, Eileen Daly, Eleanor James, Marysia Kay, Ralf Hess, Mathias Abbes

Synopsis: In 1980s Germany, horror film censorship was a huge problem. The government rarely let classic horror films pass without severe cuts when they were released on home video. To combat this unfortunate situation, many German horror fans scraped together a few bucks, rented video cameras and created their own ultra-violent, gory, splatter film epics. Arguably the most famous of these micro-budget German gore fests are the VIOLENT SHIT films from director Andreas Schnaas. Shot on standard definition video cameras, these films are a sight to behold. Although they are amateurishly made, choppily edited and loaded with ridiculous low-budget gore, these films have an undeniably offensive charm that has kept horror fans entertained for over 25 years!

America, your long wait is now finally over, a legit release of the lo-fi German gore films that are THE VIOLENT SHIT movies is now available from Synapse Films! Germany has a deep history of gore-soaked 80s cinema from the likes of  Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik, Schramm) and the SOV weirdness of Olaf Ittenbach (The Burning Moon, Black Past), but maybe, like me, you are not so familiar with the infamous works of director Andreas Schnaas, a man, who in my estimations, lacks the talent of either of those other two guys, but who's love for gore and determination brought us four entries in the Violent Shit saga, and let me tell you that Violent Shit is an apt title for these films, they're uber-violent and all utter pieces of shit! 


Rating: Unrated
Duration: 73 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Karl Inger, Gabi Bäzner, Wolfgang Hinz, Steve Aquilina, Andreas Schnaas

Synopsis: The legend of “K. the Butcher Shitter” is born in this German DIY video roughie, shot on the low-fi Video-8 format. A demented killer escapes the police and leaves a trail of blood and gore in his wake. Newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer.

The first film is rough, not that the others that would follow are stupendous by any means, but it does hold a special place as Germany's first SOV horror movie, Meet Karl (Karl Inger), aka  "K the Butcher Shitter,", a bloodthirsty nutjob sent to prison for hacking his mum to death with a meat cleaver. He escapes while being transported (in a green Volkswagen bus with plaid interior!) and goes on a wild and bloody string of carnage, and the lo-fi gore is glorious, but the plot is pointless, but please stay for the gore you won't be too disappointed.

Escaping the bus he finds a new cleaver and begins a new rampage through the woods, no one is safe. Karl also seems to be suffering from an unexplained flesh-eating disease, which grows more severe throughout the film.  The gore is fun in a lo-fi, splattery DIY sort of way; intestines are spewn and limbs are hacked away most viciously.

Shot on '89 era consumer grade home video the movie looks like a piece of piece of violent shit complete with awful video effects. The editing is as rough as the dismemberments and then there's the cheesy synth score, which I actually liked, it added a weird VHS-acid trip sort of loveliness to the SOV proceedings, particularly to that disemboweling of Christ scene. 


Rating: Unrated
Duration: 74 minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Anke Prothmann, Andreas Schnaas, Claudia von Bihl

Synopsis: Set twenty years after the original film, Karl the Butcher Jr. continues his late father’s legacy. After receiving a machete as a birthday gift from his mother, Karl Jr. turns into a maniacal killer slashing, chopping, shooting and disemboweling his way through the German countryside. Newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer.

A few years after the first film director Andreas Schnaas assembled a sequel, one that takes place twenty years after the first film with a warring faction of German gangsters and Yakuza battling one another when a deal turns sour, the fight is interrupted by the cleaving wielding Karl the Butcher Jr, now played by director Andreas Schnaas, who lays waste to them all. The addition of some low-rent and poorly choreographed karate speaks to the inept aspirations of the director, adding another layer of moldy cheese to the already creamy stew of lo-fi weirdness. 

The movie then turns into a documentary of sorts as a journalist interviews members of the community who speak about the legend of Karl the Butcher, while he investigates what looks to be a series of copycat murders, but what we know to be the work of his son, at the behest of his crazy mother, who encourages her son to continue his father's bloody work, the old age makeup of the mother is real-bad, too. There are some weird flashback sequences to her burying the original Karl. This one amps up the gore and the ick-factor with Karl pulling a bloody tampon from the vagina of a victim before stapling her orifice shut while his mother cheers him on in the background, so weird and if you're a lo-fi gore-nut, so awesome. 

Again, the video source and editing are hard to watch, but just on a ridiculous homemade horror level I found this fun to watch. This one is notable for being the film that gave the Butcher his iconic metal-grated mask, and for amping up the nudity with a sun-tanning and bath scene that goes on FOREVER before the inevitable death. 


Rating: Unrated
Duration: 79 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Andreas Schnaas, Marc Trinkhaus, Uwe Grüntjes, Winni Holl, Matthias Kerl

Synopsis: A group of friends get lost at sea and land on a remote island, but they are not alone! Captured by Karl the Butcher Jr. and his father, these men are subjected to a sadistic version of “The Most Dangerous Game” brought on by the Butcher Shitters and their army of metal-masked killers! Newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer. 

Throwing continuity right out the window we have the third entry in the series, which features three men lost at sea who end up on an island run by Karl the Butcher (Trinkhaus) and his son Karl Jr. (Schnaas). They release the three men onto the island in a Most Dangerous Game sort of way, again speaking to director's inept need to expand on the original premise, the guy has aspirations, but not much talent. The men team-up with a group of rebel ninjas on the island who are out to stop the Butchers, who themselves have also teamed-up with a mad scientist hell bent on creating a horde of zombie soldiers! Damn, this one is loaded with weird action and loads of gore, the mad scientist butchering corpses for his research, and a face-pulling scene that brought to mind both Cannibal Ferox and Hellraiser, which was by several measures my favorite gore scene in the film.  Of course there's more oddball kung-fu, poor editing and loads of poor man's bloodshed. Notably, this one has the most polished credits sequence of the first three films, so that's something. 


Rating: Unrated
Duration: 78 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles
Directors: Andreas Schnaas, Timo Rose
Cast: Andreas Schnaas, Timo Rose, Magdalèna Kalley, Eileen Daly, Eleanor James, Marysia Kay

Synopsis: The year is 2023, and the world has become a desolate wasteland with gangs taking over the streets. Karl the Butcher Jr. returns from the bowels of Hell, on a mission to kill a new mass murderer named Axe. Original English Language Version.

In the fourth and final entry of the Schnaas directed Violent Shit films, we open with Karl the Butcher living in down in the bowels of Hell, sent back to the land of the living by none other than Old Scratch himself to challenge a new killer, the Axe, who threatens to steal the Butcher's title. Shot on digital video this is by far the best looking of the movie is the collection. 

Set in the postapocalyptic future of 2023 we have warring factions that feel very Road Warrior esque.  One of the opening scenes has a group of women lead by a queen surrounding a nude man in a chair, there's a hose attached to is junk which is attached to a pump, labeled "sperm separator", the queen is sucking cum out of the other end like some weird cum-dispensing hookah, babbling about only wanting female babies.  Seemingly displeased with his sperm she orders him killed, ripping his junk off he bleeds to death.

The other films were hard to follow, and this one's not much different, while it looks better than what came before the gore is toned way down, there's far less splatter throughout, and that's unfortunate, because really you're only watching these movies for the ridiculous gore,  so without that it ends up being a bit of a yawner. Another oddity of this one is that Karl has these weird fake-muscled arms which are hilariously bad, not sure what that was about, but as where each of the previous films seemed to showcase Schnaas' inept attempt at pushing his boundaries a no-budget filmmaker, this time he moved the ramps right up to the shark tank, and failed. 

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 Minutes
Video: Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Matthias Kerl, Ralf Hess, Mathias Abbes

Synopsis: Shot for a reported $2000 between the filming of VIOLENT SHIT 1 and VIOLENT SIT 2, ZOMBIE ’90: EXTREME PESTILENCE follows two bumbling doctors as they investigate a zombie outbreak. After a military plane crash releases strange chemicals into the German countryside, the dead rise to attack the living! Can they be stopped? Transferred from an original PAL 1” master given to Synapse by Cinematographer Steve Aquilina.

This is a nice bonus on the set, a zombie film shot by Schnaas in between the making of Violent Shit and the sequel, sort of riffing on Fulci's Zombi but with only a fraction the budget, and an eight the talent, of a Bruno Mattei production, but it is loaded with no-budget gore, atrocious dialogue ("I'm gonna run this motherfucker's dick over"), plenty of cheap gut-munching and one of the worst English dubs ever, it sounded at times like Bobby Rhodes' from Lamberto Bava's  Demons (1985) was doing the dubbing, it doesn't fit the movie at all and that's sort of why I love it. 

Audio/Video: The Violent Shit Collection 3-disc set arrives in the U.S. from Synapse Films looking a expectedly cruddy, however, these have been "newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer" and re-framed in anamorphic widescreen, with the first and fourth films framed at 1.78, the second and third films re framed in scope 2.35:1. As the saying goes, you can't polish a turd and the same goes for a Violent Shit, they will only ever look so good, and truth be told they will never look good. Violent shit 1 and 2 share disc one, 3 and 4 share disc two, there are no extras on either disc, just a choice of subtitles. 

Disc three  houses a bonus film, the Italian zombie knock-off Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence, plus the extras, which include  the bonus film Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence (1991), plus extras for Violent Shit 4.0, which honestly don't amount to much of anything. The most substantial and informative extra comes by way of liner notes from writer/director Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) which place the film in context of German censorship and the burgeoning SOV scene.  

Special Features: 

- A Special BONUS DVD, including the English dub version of ZOMBIE ’90: EXTREME PESTILENCE
- The first three VIOLENT SHIT films, remastered by the original owners, plus VIOLENT SHIT 4.0: KARL THE BUTCHER VS. AXE

- Liner notes from Ted Geoghegan (Screenwriter of NIKOS THE IMPALER, and Writer/Director of WE ARE STILL HERE)
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage (10 min) 
- Premiere Footage (16 min) 

The Violent Shit Collection from Synapse Films is sure to please fans of the seminal SOV gore series, while I think the movies are exactly what the title implies, with the emphasis on shit, this is an attractively packaged set, and I love that Synapse seem to be having fun with how awful these movies are with the packaging, advertising this as a "collector's shitition" and a "big box of shit", just the artwork alone for this release has more production value than all four films combined. Not a fan of the movies, a real shit fest, but gotta love Andreas Schnaas's determination.  2/5