Tuesday, October 24, 2017

NIGHT SCHOOL (1981) (WAC Blu-ray Review)


Label: Warner Archive
Rating: R

Region Code: region-FREE
Duration: 89 Minutes
Audio: English DTS HD-Master Audio Mono 2.0 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Ken Hughes 

Cast: Leonard Mann, Rachel Ward, Drew Snyder, Joseph R. Sicari, Nicholas Cairis

Synopsis: They work by day, take a full schedule of classes all night and somehow find time for study and an occasional date. Women in the evening curriculum at Boston’s distinguished Wendell College do a lot to get ahead in life. But there’s someone who will go to even greater lengths. Someone who will do anything to get a head.
A killer whose m.o. is the ritualistic decapitation of victims makes terror a required course at Night School, directed by Kenneth Hughes (Casino Royale) and starring Rachel Ward (The Thorn Birds; After Dark, My Sweet) in her screen debut. Leonard Mann plays the homicide lieutenant assigned to the puzzling case. He has hunches, not clues. Suspects, not evidence. And a rising body count. Finals are coming early this year at Wendell. And for those who don’t make the grade, heads will roll.

Early 80's slasher/video nasty Night School (1981) opens with a teacher's aide Anne Barron (Meb Boden) playing on a carousel on the school playground after dark when a biker arrives on the scene, the stranger is wearing a leather riding jacket and wearing a biker helmet with a dark visor - a similiar looking killer appears in the sleazy Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975) - he approaches the girl and spins the merry-go-round in a threatening manner, brandishing a khukuri knife and slicing off her head, disposing of it in a bucket of water. 

On the case are Detective Judd Austin (Leonard Mann, Cut and Run) and his wisecracking partner Taj (Joseph Sicari), who learn the victim was a student at Wendell College for women in Boston, it's the second killing wherein the victim was decapitated in as many days. The detective heads to Wendell and interviews Anne's best friend Kim (Elizabeth Barnitz), who informs him that the victim was seeing someone but she is not aware of who, he also speaks to her anthropology professor, Vincent Millet (Drew Synder, Death Wish II), who is not much help. Turns out that Millet is dating a student named Eleanor Adjai (Rachel Ward, The Final Terror), and apparently the professor has a history of dating his student, much to the growing ire of school administrator Helene Griffin (Annette Miller) - who has her own lustful predatory routine happening. 

As the heads keep rolling the professor becomes a suspect in the headhunting murders because of the ritualistic aspect which goes back to his own research, as does a creepy dishwasher at a local diner, especially when one of the waitresses from the diner winds up headless. Her kill is one of my favorites, left alone to close-up the diner the killer stalks her and takes her head, in the aftermath there's a great set-up that leaves you wondering for a few moments if her head ended up in the soup of the day stock pot!

The kills all have a decapitation/water theme happening, while they are not overly grisly they are each set-up rather well minus the gore-strewn conclusion, there's plenty of blood but not much in the way of real gore and that's fine with me, I found them all to be quite effective, including a fun shower scene and prolonged cat and mouse game at the local aquarium which ends with a sea turtle taking a nip out of a severed head fun stuff. The killer's look is also effective, the leather jacket/motorcycle helmet both obscures the identity of the killer and is badass - though I think it become clear who the killer is early on. The cops on the case are fun, Mann is the more serious of the pair, obsessed with the case, becoming more irate as the heads continue to roll, while his partner is more lighthearted, making jokes and grabbing snacks while at the murder scenes and all points in between. They're not bumbling keystone cops but they're not the world's greatest detective team either. 

The movie is well-directed by Ken Hughes (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), who creates a tense and atmospheric slasher that gets the job done without being overly sleazy, though we do get some shower nudity from the very likable Rachel Ward. The movie is accompanied by a dread filled synth score from composer Brad Fiedel (Fright Night, Just Before Dawn, The Terminator) which kicks in and amps up the tension from time to time. 

Audio/Video: Night School (1981) arrives on Blu-ray from Warner Archive with a new 2017 HD Master, the source looks solid, there's some minor print damage and heavy grain during darker scenes, plus some white speckling but overall it looks true to the source without any compression issues. The cinematography is a bit soft focused at times but the HD manages the hazy visuals well. The English DTS-HD MA Mono 2.0 track likewise is solid, everything is well-balanced with no distortion, and the Brad Fiedel score comes through strong, optional English subtitles are provided. The only extra on the release is a full frame trailer for the film. 

Special Feature: 

- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 

Night School (1981) is not a blood-soaked slasher of the Tom Savini (The Prowler) variety, there are no open neck wounds and propulsive bloodletting, but it is a solid slasher/thriller entry, relying on the effective build-up of terror and dread, the stalking pre-kill scenarios play well, with good atmosphere and tension, enhanced by the burbling synth score and some solid cinematography from Mark Irwin (The Blob, The Brood). 


DUNKIRK (2017)

Own it Early on Digital on December 12

One of the year’s most acclaimed films, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Dunkirk,” arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital this December. From filmmaker Christopher Nolan (“Interstellar,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight” Trilogy) comes the epic action thriller “Dunkirk.”

Nolan directed “Dunkirk” from his own original screenplay, utilizing a mixture of IMAX® and 65mm film to bring the story to the screen. The film was partially shot on location on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, where the actual events unfolded.

Said director Christopher Nolan, “I’m excited to be releasing ‘Dunkirk’ on 4K UHD with HDR. The film was shot entirely on the highest definition IMAX and 65mm film and this fantastic new format, with its increased resolution and superior colour reproduction is able to maximize Dunkirk’s impact in the home.”

The film’s ensemble cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy and Barry Keoghan, with Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.

“Dunkirk” was produced by Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, with Jake Myers serving as executive producer. The behind-the-scenes creative team included director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema, production designer Nathan Crowley, editor Lee Smith, costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson and special effects supervisor Scott Fisher.  The music was composed by Hans Zimmer.

On December 19th, “Dunkirk” will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack for $44.95. The 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack will include a 4K Ultra HD disc with the feature film in 4K resolution with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the feature film in hi-definition, a Blu-ray disc with the special features in hi-definition, and a Digital version of the feature film.

4K Ultra HD showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.   

Also on December 19, “Dunkirk” will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99 and DVD for $28.98. The Blu-ray Combo Pack features a Blu-ray disc with the film in hi-definition, a Blu-ray disc with the special features in hi-definition, a DVD with the film in standard definition, and a Digital version of the movie.

Fans can also own “Dunkirk” via purchase from digital retailers beginning December 12th.

“Dunkirk” opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces.  Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in. The story unfolds on land, sea and air. RAF Spitfires engage the enemy in the skies above the Channel, trying to protect the defenseless men below. Meanwhile, hundreds of small boats manned by both military and civilians are mounting a desperate rescue effort, risking their lives in a race against time to save even a fraction of their army.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Syncopy Production, a film by Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk.”

“Dunkirk” 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and Standard Definition DVD contain the following special features:
- Creation: Revisiting the Miracle
- Creation: Dunkerque
- Creation: Expanding the Frame
- Creation: The In-Camera Approach
- Land: Rebuilding the Mole
- Land: The Army On the Beach
- Land: Uniform Approach
- Air: Taking to the Air
- Air: Inside the Cockpit
- Sea: Assembling the Naval Fleet
- Sea: Launching the Moonstone
- Sea: Taking to the Sea
- Sea: Sinking the Ships
- Sea: The Little Ships
- Conclusion: Turning Up the Tension
- Conclusion: The Dunkirk Spirit

On December 12, “Dunkirk” will be available to own in 4K HDR from select digital retailers including iTunes, Google, and Vudu. It will also be available in high definition and standard definition on favorite devices from select digital retailers including Amazon, FandangoNow, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. On December 19, “Dunkirk” will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

*Digital movies or TV episodes allow fans to watch a digital version of their movie or TV show anywhere, on their favorite devices. Digital movies or TV episodes are included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs. With digital, consumers are able to instantly stream and download movies and TV shows to TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones through retail services. For more information on compatible devices and services go to wb.com/digitalmoviefaq. Consult a digital retailer for details and requirements and for a list of digital-compatible devices.

4K Ultra HD Combo Pack - $44.95
Blu-ray Combo Pack - $35.99
DVD Amaray (WS) - $28.98
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD Street Date: December 19, 2017
EST Street Date: December 12, 2017
DVD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French
BD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese
DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French
BD Subtitles: English, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese
Running Time: 106 minutes
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language
4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray: DTS HD-MA



DOWN (2001) (Blue Underground Blu-ray Review)

DOWN (2001)(aka THE SHAFT
Limited Edition (3000) DVD/Blu-ray Combo 

Label: Blue Underground
Rating:  R
Duration: 111 Minutes
Audio: English, French: DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1; English, French Dolby Digital Stereo; English, French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX; English, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Dick Maas
Cast: James Marshall, Naomi Watts, Eric Thal, Michael Ironside, Edward Herrmann, Dan Hedaya, Ron Perlman

Director Dick Mass directed this American remake of his own film The Lift (1983) in 2001, which was a popular thing to do at the turn of this century, keeping the same basic premise and set-pieces as the original film wherein an evil-sentient elevator begins murdering people  in a busy high rise. The setting is re-located from Amsterdam to New York City, inside the Millennium Building, a fictitious skyscraper standing in for The Empire State Building. The film begins not with horny party-goers having a close call inside the elevator but with a group of very pregnant women trapped between floors and nearly running out of air, two of the women give birth inside the elevator, with a scene of one of the women's water breaking, fluid erupting onto the floor.  

Two repairmen from the METEOR elevator company are called into look into the possibility of a malfunction, we have Jeff (Eric Thal, The Puppet Masters) and Mark (James Marshall, Twin Peaks) who investigate but find no malfunction with any of the mechanical/operating systems. They give the elevator a clean bill of health the staff at the Millennium building resume normal operations, but the killer elevator proceeds kill in short order, including a pervy blind man and his seeing-eye dog, plus a security guard who loses his head. Both of these kills appeared in the original film but are expanded upon here, the decapitation scene is less rubbery looking, though more digital, and the blind guy drags his poor service dog down the shaft with him! 

Elevator technician Mark becomes our main guy this time around, and Naomi Watts (King Kong) play persistent underdog reporter Jennifer Evans, both teaming-up to solve the case, obsessed by the growing body count at the Millennium building. There's also a great cast of side characters played by familiar faces, we have Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys) as the building manager Mr. Milligan, Dan Hedaya (The Hunger) as Lt. McBain, Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as Mark's boss at METEOR, and Michael Ironside (Scanners) as a creepy German scientist who is behind the evil A.I. that runs the elevators. 

Aside from the aforementioned blind guy and decapitation stuff  Maas also re stages the scene of a young girl playing with her dolly who is nearly killed by the menacing elevator, but adds a fun daycare element to the story with a stern, foul-mouthed nanny named Ilsa, which was fun. Also new is a high body count scene with the floor dropping out of the packed elevator, with people falling to their demise, bouncing off the walls of the shaft, which is rather fantastic and action-packed. Speaking of action, as where the original film featured the repairman facing off against the bio-chip based evil alone this one features an all out tactical response from the NYC S.W.A.T. team, a real amped-up finale that features a stinger missile launcher!

About the only scene that didn't really work for me was that of an annoying rollerblader (is there any other kind?) who gets sucked into the elevator on the bottom floor and projectile vomited onto the top floor observation deck. falling to his death one hundred floors below. The movie clocks in at nearly two hours long, so it takes a while to get going and the pacing if off from time to time, some of the green screen and digital effects leave a bit to be desired too, but overall if you liked The Lift (1983) I say give this American remake a watch, while I prefer the originals low-budget horror there's still plenty to enjoy with this more comic and over-the-top remake. Watching this again today I was struck how the art deco design of the elevator doors looks a bit like the Hellraiser puzzle box, I wonder if that was on purpose? 

Audio/Video: Down (2001) arrives on makes it US widescreen debut on Blu-ray and DVD from Blue Underground with a lovely new 2K restoration from the original negative approved by Dick Maas, looking great all the way around. Nicely sharp and detailed, colors are saturated, skin tones look good and blacks are solid. Audio options include both loss English and French DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 options, the surrounds get some good use during the action sequences, everything is well-mixed and balanced, though there's a lot of dubbed English dialogue which can sound canned.  This time around Maas did not create the score, other than the opening main title credit score, with the rest of it created by Dutch composer Paul M. van Brugge, plus songs from The Zombies, Chuck Berry and the most on-the-nose selection, Aerosmith's awful "Love in an Elevator". Optional English subtitles are provided.

Onto the extras we get a new commentary from Writer/Director Dick Maas and Stunt Coordinator Willem de Beukelaer moderated by David Gregory, a good track that details the music of the film, the genesis of the remake, how certain shots and stunts were achieved, and how the movie's commercial potential was hampered when six days into it's theatrical run the 9/11 tragedy happened, and the movie which contains shots of the doomed World Trade Center and references to terrorism and Osama Bin Laden failed to connect.

There's also a 9-min extra detailing the making of the film, I was astounded how much work went into making this one, building the marble-lined interiors of the building, the elevator banks, the exterior and rooftop sets, it was s an eye-opener. There's also nearly three hours of raw behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the film, theatrical and teaser trailers, and a gallery of posters, home video releases, stills and behind-the-scenes images. 

This 2-disc release comes housed in a clear Criterion-style Scanavo case with a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring two art options including the original, The Down artwork and the alternate The Shaft artwork which accompanied the original 2003 Artisan DVD. The discs likewise offer up the same two key artwork options on their visage. There's a 20-page collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Michael Gringold, this includes cast, crew info plus chapter selection, and behind-the-scenes images and stills, plus various posters for this movie as well as Maas' Sint, The lift and Silent Witness. 

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dick Maas and Stunt Coordinator Willem de Beukelaer moderated by David Gregory 
- The Making of DOWN (9 min) 
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage [Blu-ray Exclusive] (151 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Teaser Trailer 1 (1 min) HD 

- Teaser Trailer 2 
- Poster and Still Gallery (87 Images) HD 
- 20-Page Collectible Booklet with new essay by author Michael Gingold

Like the original this one is a lot of fun, totally absurd, not too serious or scary, but wonderfully cheesy with a great cast. The new Blu-ray/DVD combo from Blue Underground offers up a crisp HD  presentation, allowing fans to finally enjoy this one is the original scope aspect ratio with some quality extras.  

THE GREEN SLIME (1969) WAC Blu-ray Review)


Label: Warner Archive
Duration: 90 Minutes 
Region: Region-FREE
Audio: English DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Cast: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel, Bud Widom,
Ted Gunther, David Yorston, Robert Dunham

The Green Slime (1969) opens with a set-up seemingly borrowed by the corny blockbuster Armageddon (1998) thirty years later, with a huge red asteroid on a collision course with the Earth. A mission is launched to plant an explosive device on the surface, hoping to alter the course of the cosmic projectile or destroy it. The mission is led by semi-retired Commander Rankin (Richard Horton) whom is tasked with heading up the mission, which involves travelling to Space Station Gamma 3 where they will stage the mission from, but the station is run my Rankin's former friend Commander Elliott (Vince Jaeckel), the men having had a falling out when a mission, years ago, lead by Elliot resulted in the death of ten men, in an to save one. The men resent each other strongly, and the relationship further complicated by a love triangle involving gorgeous former Bond-girl Luciana Paluzzi (99 Women), Elliot's fiance and former girlfriend of Rankin, who doesn't seem like she's over her ex!

A squadron of men fly to the asteroid's surface and drill a hole deep below the surface, planting an explosive device, and retreating a safe distance away before the bomb explodes, hopefully destroying the asteroid, or at least changing it's current extinction  trajectory. The asteroid's surface is covered in red rock, but dotted with pools of green slime, which seems to pulse with life. In true sci-fi fashion one of the scientists on the mission seems particularly enamored with the life forms and wants to take it back to the space station for preservation/documentation, but Rankin thinks it's a bad idea and destroys the sample, but a small dab of the green goo lands on the scientist spacesuit and is brought back to Gamma 3 where it goes undetected, thanks to some poor decontamination protocols, until it begins absorbing energy and growing into an army of green-skinned, red-eyed cyclops who overrun the station causing all sorts of 60's sci-fi fun with their electrically charged tentacles.

Coming just a year after 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) this seems absolutely kitschy when compared to Kubrick's landmark science fiction epic, this is more akin a 50's slice of space-schlock, but it has a charm that's hard to resist for fans of silly sci-fi and/or bad-movie awesomeness. The characters are one-note with hackneyed dialogue full of science fiction mumbo-jumbo and cliched testosterone-fueled grudges, the boring dialogue sort of drags this one down until the tentacled cyclops manifest and begins ruining everyone day. s

The vintage special effects are a wonderful mixed bag of miniatures, rockets on string, kids in rubber suits, plastic guns and cheesy laser blasts, it's fun stuff for the retro-minded, and the scene of a squadron of jet-pack propelled men fighting the green slime monsters on the exterior of Gamme 3 hull is fantastically  entertaining. On the downside the shots of rockets and their wispy trails of smoke trailing behind them are often laughable, the miniature sets and ships are nicely crafted and well-shot, but too often they appear like shiny new toys, too clean, and then they tellingly wobble, ruining the nicely staged shots with an inherent cheapness the movie cannot seem to escape for better or worse, depending on your predilection for sch-fi schlockiness.  

Audio/Video: Sci-fi shlocker The Green Slime (1969) arrives on Blu-ray from Warner Archive with a brand new 2017 HD Master looking rather spectacular, the source is clean and the grain look natural and well managed. Details and clarity are impressive, with he red and greens popping nicely, though the improved clarity and detail might actually work against the movie in a sense, the miniature sets are well-staged and shot but the clarity of the image lets you now you are watching miniatures and rocket ships on strings, but that's all part of the vintage charm of this one. Likewise the 
English DTS-HD MA Mono 2.0 audio is crisp and clean, the mono mix is well-balanced and the fantastic psychedelic main theme song is a highlight, optional English subtitles are provided. 

The only extra on the disc is a trailer for the film, which was not included on the previous 2010 manufactured-on-demand DVD release from WAC. This single disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with the original movie poster art, a gorgeous painting that features a very Barbarella-esque image of Italian starlet Luciana Paluzzi in a spacesuit wrapped in the tentacles of the green skinned, red-eyed cyclopedia alien. The disc features the same key artwork. As with the recent WAC release of The Hidden (1987) the spine features not the usual gold/bronze logo coloring, but coloring keeping with the theme of the artwork, this time around we get a lime green logo, it's a small thing but I am liking it! 

Special Feature: 

- Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 

The Green Slime (1969) is a wonderfully campy sci-fi relic from the late-60's, loaded with the sci-fi tropes, laughable/narcolepsy inducing dialogue, testosterone fueled machismo, and some fun miniatures and rubbery, tentacled aliens. Fans of retro-sci-fi camp and kitschy outer space awesomeness need look no further, this new release from Warner Archive has got it all in wonderful HD. 



Label: 88 Films 
Region Code: B
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, LPCM 2.0 Dual Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Certification: 15
Duration: 102 Mins Approx
Director: James Muro

Cast: James Lorinz, Mike Lackey, Mark Sferrazza, Bill Chepil

88 Films has opened the Vaults and our latest release is a frequently far-too-forgotten gem from the VHS shelves – STREET TRASH!

Never gaining quite the love-fest that its most comparable colleagues such as Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste (1987) and Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead II (1987) achieved; fright-fans of the FANGORIA generation have nevertheless continued to argue that Street Trash more than deserves its place at the top of the pantheon of late eighties horror greats. Directed by Hollywood hot-shot Jim Muro, who went on to be one of Tinseltown’s most in-demand Steadicam operators (with credits that include Terminator 2: Judgement Day [1991], Titanic [1997], Red Dragon [2002] and X-Men: The Last Stand [2006]) Street Trash focuses on a clan of homeless down-and-outs in New York who discover a crate of mysterious alcohol dubbed ‘Viper’. Unfortunately for our loveable inner-city denizens this particular tipple carries more than just a horrendous hangover! Indeed, taking a mouthful of Viper results in the human form being trans-mutated into a gruesome pile of goo… and Street Trash is only too happy to show us such horrors in all their colourful prosthetic-perfection!
Written and produced by Roy Frumkes, who had gained his genre stripes as an assistant to Wes Craven and George Romero, there is no denying that Street Trash is full of good-humoured gore, sanguine-splashed special effects and politically incorrect gags galore! Yet, it is for these reasons that the provocative pot-boiler became a midnight movie favourite, often mentioned alongside the likes of Stuart Gordon’s classic Re-Animator (1985), before hitting the video cassette shelves and captivating a fresh generation of splatter movie devotees. Hailed as a modern day masterpiece by the late great genre critic Chas Balun (of Deep Red magazine) and long-rumoured to be a favourite of pop singer Elton John (hey, Elton – if you are out there please confirm!), Street Trash has been crying out for a British BluRay bow and the retro-maniacs at 88 Films are pleased to come to its belated HD rescue!

Unleashed as part of our acclaimed 88 Vault Collection, which has already shocked and surprised viewers with such grindhouse grime and VHS-era slime as I Drink Your Blood (1970), the South African apartheid blaxploitation flick Joe Bullet (1973), Pigs (1973), Creepozoids (1987) and One Dark Night (1982), Street Trash arrives on BluRay absolutely packed with gut-bursting special features. Pre-orders from the 88 Films web site will gain a special limited slipcover and collector’s booklet from Calum Waddell but be careful – we expect these to go quickly! Now available for direct order, you would need to be on a Viper-level comedown not to want to add Street Trash to your 88 Films collection!

Special Features: 
- Restored Uncut and Uncensored HD master from the Original Negative
- 5.1 Surround Remix
- Original Uncompressed Mono Soundtrack
- Optional English Subtitles
- Audio Commentary with Director James Muro
- Audio Commentary with Writer / Producer Roy Frumkes
- Introduction by Producer Roy Frumkes
- Original 16mm Student Film - Street Trash
- A Conversation between Roy Frumkes and Tony Timpone
- Meltdown Memoirs - Feature Length 'Making-Of' Documentary
- Jane Arakawa Interview
- Deleted Scenes and Out-takes
- Theatrical Trailer
- Teaser Trailer

ABOUT 88 Vault:
The home of grindhouse grime and VHS-era slime, the aim of 88 Vault is to offer fans a veritable collection of obscure and/ or largely less-remembered genre gems from the 1970s  through to the butt-end of the rental period. These are the classics you forgot about – from I Drink Your Blood through to Street Trash and Creepozoids – finally brought back to British shelves – or even the obscurities you might be discovering for the very first time, such as South Africa’s Joe Bullet (1973) and 42nd Street-evoking murder-mystery Pigs (1973). Also including the shock-horror of One Dark Night (1982) and the nature-run-amok madness of Dogs (1976), 88 Vault will continue to surprise followers in 2018 with the release of forgotten sequels, anthology insanity and madcap animal-massacres! We have a lot more planned for this amazing line!

Friday, October 20, 2017

OUT OF THE SHADOWS (2017) (DVD review)


Label: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Code: Region-FREE NTSC 
Rating: MA 15+
Duration: 88 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Dee MacLachlan
Cast: Goran D. Kleut, Jake Ryan, Lisa Chappell

Australian export Out of the Shadows 92017) starts off strong enough, with Detective Eric Hughes (Blake Northfield) arriving at the scene of a grisly murder, father Charles Winter (Jake Ryan) has murdered his wife and three children, including an unborn child that has been torn from her womb and which is nowhere to be found. The case haunts Detective Hughes, his own wife Katrina (Kendal Rae) is pregnant with their first child, and they've just moved into a new home in a rural area, but they're unaware of the home's tragic past and soon find themselves amidst ghostly visitations and a demonic presence hungry for the blood of their first-born child. 

Katrina is left on her own quite a bit while Hughes is investigating the Winter's case, she begins to experience strange happenings around the dilapidated house, seeings shadowy figures and the frightly spirit of a seemingly malevolent nurse with ties tot he home. Katrina seeks medical help, but doctors attribute the visions and fears to pregnancy related psychosis, but when the medication doesn't make the visions go away Katrina seeks the help of a reticent clergy member (Helmut Bakaitis, The Matrix Reloaded) and a renegade demonologist (Lisa Chappell), meanwhile her husband attributes the happening to more earthly culprits, until thy literally flip his car upside down. 

The film benefits from some scenic drone-enabled shots of rural Australia and the look of the film is quite good for a low-budget production, and the special effects and make-up work that aren't too shabby at all, but despite the strong start and decent build up eventually it all descend into the usual haunting cliches with very few surprises in between, we get an exorcism, a demonic presence that's sort of cool, but there's an awful lot of 'been there and done that' familiarity about this one. 

Audio/Video: The disc from Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in anamorphic widescreen framed in scope 2.35:1 and looks good for a low-budget indie-horror, the special effects are decent and the surround audio is serviceable. There are no subtitles and no extras, this is about as bare bones as you can get.

There's nothing about Out of the Shadows (2017) that sparks or stands out, obviously this is hoping to trade-in on the goodwill of better films like Insidious (2010) and The Babadook (2014), but at the very best this is only a decent Netflix one-and-done watch.  

THE LIFT (1983) (Blue Underground Blu-ray Review)

THE LIFT (1983)
Limited Edition (3000) DVD/Blu-ray Combo

Label: Blue Underground
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 99 Minutes 
Audio: Dutch: DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1; Dutch, English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0 ; Dutch Dolby Digital Surround EX 5.1; Dutch, English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Dick Maas
Cast: Huub Stapel, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Josine van Dalsum

Synopsis: There is something very wrong with the elevator in a stylish office high-rise. The passengers never end up on the floor of their choice. They end up dead! When Felix, an inquisitive repairman, investigates the faulty deathtrap, he discovers that something other than malfunctioning machinery is to blame. Some dark, distorted power has gained control of the elevator for its own evil design. After his horrifying discovery is given the shaft by the authorities, he joins a nosy female journalist to battle the unholy force inside THE LIFT!

The Dutch 80's sci-fi horror flick The Lift (1985) opens inside the Icarus office building where a rowdy group of late-night revelers find themselves trapped in an elevator when the power goes out during a storm. One of the couples attempt to make the most of it, with the man groping the woman's bare breasts greedily in the dark, but soon the air proves too thin and they all nearly suffocate. Lift repairman Felix Adelaar (Huub Stapel, Amsterdamned) shows up to check out the faulty equipment but can find no malfunction that would account for the lack of air or any other mechanical-based issues. 

However, the elevator soon racks up a decent body count, beginning with a blind man who walks into an empty shaft and falls to his death, and a security guard loses his head when his he becomes stuck in the doors as the lift descends upon him. It's a fun scene, though the prop head looks mighty fake it is still a fun low-budget decapitation with his head falling several stories down the shaft, landing on the corpse of the as of yet undiscovered blind man. Another security guard, who was helpless to prevent the tragedy, though he didn't seem to try all that hard, can be seen puking into his cap when it happens. 

Felix makes several more trips to the office building to check on the elevator but each time finds nothing peculiar, though he does meet a reporter named Mieke (Willeke van Ammelrooy) who teams-up with Felix to get to the bottom of the seemingly murderous lift. What they discover is a weird experiment being conducted by Rising Sun, a manufacturer of microprocessors, who secretly supply electronics for the Deta Liften, the elevator company that manufactures the lift and who employ Felix as a repairman. His nosing around angers his boss, who puts him on a leave of absence, but Felix is already obsessed with the lift and he and Mieke continue their investigation on their own.

The movie is a weird little entry, the idea of a killer elevator is truly absurd, but is no less strange that a killer car (Christine, The Car, The Hearse) or dry-cleaning press (The Mangler), and Maas clearly knows that, but the actors play this straight as can be, and it makes for a fun, campy watch. There are some slow parts though, Felix sorting through various newspaper  clippings and circuitry diagrams for the lift can me a bit tedious, and the growing rift between he and his wife doesn't exactly set the film on fire, but the fun kills and well-crafted low-budget thrills make for a good watch with stylish visuals and an incredulous premise that somehow works.  

A scene involving a young girl playing in the lobby near a trio of lift doors is well done, she plays a game with the seemingly sentient apparatus, a sort of peek-a-boo that nearly ends in the young girl's death, crushing her precious dolly in it's doors. The finale of this one is a bit kooky, with Felix facing off against the lift's organic-microprocessor brain, but it does manage to squeeze in one more kill with the lift using it's tentacle-esque cables to murder one f it's creators, it's a fun scene and close the movie out on an appropriately cheesy/awesome note. 

Audio/Video: The Lift (1983) debuts on Blu-ray and DVD in the US from distributor Blue Underground with a brand new 2K restoration from the original negative approved by director Dick Maas, framed in the original 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The image looks solid with a nice looking grain field, the oftentimes neon-infused visuals pop in a low-budget sort of way, but there are certain limitations due to the source, with some scenes looking softer than others, but the transfer and encode look fantastic. Audio on the disc comes by way of a fun Dutch DTS-HD MA  5.1 surround mix with optional English subtitles, the surrounds get some use for this one, which is awesome. There are also DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mixes in both Dutch and dubbed-English, the dubbed track is not too bad, but the dialogue obviously sounds more natural and less canned on the Dutch tracks, with the synth score from Maas also coming through with more power and fidelity on the Dutch tracks. 

Onto the extras we have a new commentary from Writer/Director Dick Maas and Editor Hans van Dongen moderated by David Gregory, a lively discussion as the director recalls making this low-budget horror film, how certain effects were achieved, creating the synth score himself and the inspirations seen in the movie from Jaws to Star Wars. He also tells of how actress Willeke van Ammelrooy was not a fan of his direction style, after the film wrapped she left him a cassette tape with notes on how to be a better director with actors, which he never listened to. There's a nine-minute interview with star Hubb Stapel, a continuation of his boat-tour interview we saw on the Amsetrdamned disc, speaking of how he came from a theater background, having appeared in a stage pay of Harold and Maude, being cast in the role, struggling a bit with how Maas directed, and the success of the film, and how he didn't receive any work after the film for another two years, despite how successful it was. The extras are finished up with a gallery of various poster and release artwork from various territories, behind the scenes images, still, Dutch and US trailers and Maas' 2003 short film "Long Distance". 

This 2-disc release comes housed in a clear Criterion-style Scanavo case with a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring two art options including the original VHS artwork sporting the infamous tagline "Take the stairs. Take the stairs. For God's sake take the stairs!!!". The discs likewise offer up the same two key artworks on their visage. There's a 20-page collector's booklet with new writing on the film by former Fangoria editor Chris Alexander, this includes cast, crew info plus chapter selection, and behind-the-scenes images and stills, plus various posters for this and the American remake and John Carpenter's Christine. 

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dick Maas and Editor Hans van Dongen moderated by David Gregory 
- Going Up – Interview with Star Huub Stapel
- “Long Distance” – Short Film by Dick Maas (2003) (4 min) HD
- Dutch Trailer (4 min) HD 
- U.S. Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Poster and Still Gallery (88 Images) HD 
- BONUS 2o-Page Collectible Booklet with new essay by writer and filmmaker Chris Alexander

Blue Underground give The Lift (1982) a top-floor 2-disc release, the new 2K transfer looks great and the extras are a great value-add. I've only seen a handful of Dick Maas's movies, but I love them all so far, his quirky sense of humor an affinity for stylish well-staged thriller/horror action continues to please. In my opinion you can never have too much Dick Maas, and Blue Underground continue the love with this release, which coincides with their release of Maas' American remake of The Lift, Down (2001), starring Naomi Watts (Twin Peaks: The Return), also on 2-disc DVD/BD, and to be reviewed soon.  



Label: MVD Visual 
Region Code: 1 NTSC 
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 50 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 with Optional English  Subtitles 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
I've always loved Lewis Black and his curmudgeonly, acerbic views on the world, the rant-riddled comic came into my life with a fun tirade about NyQuil and has stayed with me ever since. This time out the comedian offers up his pre-election views of the presidential candidates of Hillary Clinton, Cruz and Donald Trump, and we all know how that ended - apparently no one listened to his argument against the Doritos-colored douche. He also pokes at the dim witted weirdness of lizard-eyed Ben Carson, gun control and mental illness as prescribed by the NRA and exemplified by the members Congress. Black is aging, he's in his 60's, and has plenty of that irritable grandfather charm I seem to enjoy so much, his stand-up is laced with profanity but he's always driving home the point, ranting about Christian's clinging on to the Old Testament, which he again affirms is not their book, and is irritated by people who buy their pets Valentine's gifts, while extolling the virtues of mouth-watering, glistening titties is advertising and the pro gun-control benefits of lactating robbers.

Black has arguably lost some of his comedic edge over the years but none of his patented angry-man rage and kinetic/frenetic delivery, not all the jokes/tirades land 100% but the ones that do still kill, so there's just more padding than usual around the edges of the comedy deathblows but there's still plenty to love about the ranty grandpa of comedy and his "jewy-jewness".  

Aside from the main stand-up routine there's also a bonus feature, a 50-minute Q/A titled "The Rant Is Due: Live From Napa" that was streamed to members of Black's fan club at some point, moderated by fellow comedian Kathleen Madigan, with Black answering questions from the crowd with his usual irritable charm. 

Audio/Video: Black to the Future(2017) arrives on single-disc DVD from MVD Visual framed in anamorphic widescreen, the image is solid and the English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 audio is crisp and clean, optional English subtitles are provided for both programs. It comes housed in digibook cardboard case with a clear plastic tray.  

Black to the Future Tracklist: 
1. What's My Job'
2. Ben Carson
3. The Media
4. Gun Control
5. Mental Illness
6. Pet Lovers (Bark Mitzvah)
7. Old Testament
8. Copenhagen
9. Lactating German Woman
10. Election
11. Ted Cruz
12. Donald Trump
13. Hillary Clinton
14. Optimism

Special Features: 
- "The Rant Is Due: Live From Napa" (50 min) 

The Rant is Due Tracklist: 
1. This Could All Go Horribly wrong
2. Moms
3. Knowing Your Audience 
4. Social Media
5. Great Gay Man
6. Public School Teachers
7. Gluten-Free
8. Public Office 
9. Best And worst Countries
10. Your Plays
11. Childhood
12. Funnier As A Woman
13. Golf Score
14 Favorite Republicans 15. Legalize It
16. Meeting Kathleen  

If you love Lewis Black's ranting fervor and passionate profanity you will no doubt have a fun time with Black to the Future, the release is available on a variety of formats, aside from the DVD there's a 2-disc CD and 2xLP, both of which feature the bonus program "This Should Have Been A Special", a 65-minute set from 2016, but do not include "The Rant Is Due" extra which is on the DVD.