Thursday, February 22, 2018

THE AFTERMATH (1982) (VCI Blu-ray Review)


Label: VCI Retro Elite
Region Code: A/1

Rating: Unrated
Audio: English LPCM Stereo 2.0 with Optional English
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Steve Barkett
Cast: Steve Barkett, Lynne Margulies, Sid Haig, Christopher Barkett, Alfie Martin, Forrest J Ackerman, Jim Danforth
The Aftermath (1982) borrows a page from the Planet of the Apes (1968) with an opening scenes of a trio of astronauts returning to Earth after a mission, we have Newman (Steve Barkett), Matthews (Larry Latham), and Williams (Jim Danforth). For reasons unknown they've been unable to get a communications signal from NASA during re-entry and end up ditching the ship without guidance somewhere off the coast of California. One of the astronauts dies during re-entry and the other two swim to shore, they're separated at first and our main guy Newman (Steve Barkett) discovers what appear to be sun bathers on the beach off in the distance, only to discover upon closer inspection that they're charred corpses, victims of a nuclear war that has destroyed most human life on the planet. Regrouping with his fellow astronaut they make a campfire for the night and are attacked by a group of survivor mutants, in the morning they awaken to the startling sight of a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles which lays in ruins. They astronauts end up taking over a mansion in the Hollywood hills and begin to make the best of a shitty apocalyptic  situation. 

Along the way they fight more mutant survivors and come to the aid of a woman named Sarah (Lynne Margulies, the girlfriend of late comedian Andy Kaufman) who tells them of a ruthless savage named Cutter, played with vicious enthusiasm by the always awesome (and usually sleazy) Sid Haig (The Devil's Rejects) who along with his band of like-minded cronies roam the area and round up survivors, killing the men and children while raping the women, this is the Hell that Sarah's escaped from. Newman and Sarah strike up a quick relationship, but when tragedy strikes close to home Newman ends up going on a rampage, killing the baddies one by one on one-man killing spree. 

The Aftermath is a fun post-apocalyptic movie in a low-budget regional sort of way, a true independent slice of 70's cinema packed with questionable acting, shallow storytelling, and some iffy, lo-fi science fiction/apocalypse elements, offering a plethora of fun matte paintings and miniatures showcasing the obliterated city scapes.  Writer/Actor/Director Barkett wrote and directed the film, casting himself as the hero but he's not the most charismatic guy, he's very soft spoken, which both works for and against the film. He does a decent job in the hammy action scenes, most of which are poorly staged and choreographed, but in a fun b-movie sort of way. It's bad guy Sid Haig who steals the show as the villain, a scuzzy raper of women and killer of men and children. To my surprise some of the lo-budget gore and brutal killings were affecting, some of the film's sci-fi elements are laughable, such as the spaceship on a string effects from the opening scenes, but the more post-nuke survivor stuff is actually pretty harrowing, though the over-dramatic voice over narration and myth building is way over-cooked.

The film borrows liberally from Planet of the Apes and Last Man on Earth, mixing in some more 70's science fiction stuff and does a lot with very little, but in the wake of Star Wars and Escape from New York this must have looked hokey as Hell. Beloved  Forrest J. Ackerman (Famous Monsters of Filmland) as a museum curator, and the recorded voice of Dick Miller (Gremlins) can be heard on a casette tape in one scene that fills in some of the story of what lead to the apocalypse on Earth. The film is fun but a bit shabby, but you can see this was a labor of love for Steve Barkett and it's that love and indie-spirit that makes this slice of post-nuke cinema so much fun.

Audio/Video: The Aftermath (1982) arrives on a dual-format 2-disc release from VCI Retro Elite, who previously issued the film as MOD DVD-R release, this pressed Blu-ray presents the film from 2017 2K scan of the original 35mm camera negative, and the results are generally pleasing, colors are robust with a surprising amount of clarity and depth, which is great. Black levels are decent but the shadow detail loses definition, and the grain is unevenly managed, looking natural at times but excessively DNR'd in others, but generally I found it acceptable. Audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA Mono track, the fidelity is limited, sounding canned at times, boxy dialogue sounds like most of it was dubbed in post-production with out sync sound, so there's a disconnect between the image and sounds, and while I love the score it often drown out any onscreen audio subtlety, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Onto the extra VCI carryover the extras from the 1997 laser disc release, these include fifteen minutes of interviews with winter/actor/direct Steve Barkett, his son Chris Barkett and daughter Laura - both of who appear in the film, plus composer John Morgan, producer Fred Olen Ray, and screenwriter Stanley Livingston. There's also still images with notations, offering plenty of great behind-the-scenes images of the special effects work featured in the film, plus there's a prop tour video. These extras ported over from the laser disc play as one 15-min extra and are not viewable separate from each other. 

Onto he new stuff, we get a trailer for the film, plus the 21-min short film Night Caller (19723) a student film also starring actor Steve Barkett and directed by Dan Gilbert. It's a great short film with atmosphere, loved the shocker ending on this one. We also get a nine minute Empire of the Dark (1990) Promo, also directed and starring Steve Barkett, a film about an inter-dimensional satanic cult, which is also slated for a forthcoming Blu-ray release, according to another lengthy text scroll. 

The 2-disc dual-format release comes housed in a standard 2-tray Blu-ray keepcase with a two-sided sleeve of artwork, the a-side featuring the traditional artwork for the film, which is also excerpted for the disc art, the b-side fearing notes on the film regarding the transfer and special features, also directing you to various websites for more info about Steve Barkett. Not the most enthralling of liner notes, mostly replicating the text scrolls from the disc extras. This is the first extra with a rather long text scroll intro, which is a bit dated. The disc also presents the original John Morgan score in lossless LPCM 2.0 audio (also with a text intro), it's a wonderfully dramatic score. 

Special Features: 
- Original Laserdisc Extras (15 min) HD 
- The Aftermath Trailer (3 min) HD 
- Nightcaller (21 min) HD 
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (LPCM 2.0, 23 Tracks) )
- Empire of the Dark Promo (9 min)HD
- The Past 20 Years of Steve Barkett (3 min) 
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Actor Steve Barkett and Chris Barkett 

The Aftermath (1982) is a fun, albeit hokey, post-apocalyptic nugget, released in '82 but filmed in the late 70'sit doesn't feel like an 80's movie. If you're a fan of trashy lo-fi post-apocalyptic films (A Boy and His Dog, Omega Man) this one should be on your radar. The new Blu-ray from VCI looks and sounds quite nice, it's not perfect but it's the best the film has ever looked on home video and the extras should please fans of the film.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

LORDS OF DOGTOWN (2005) (Mill Creek Blu-ray Review)


Label: Mill Creek Entertainment

Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 110 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Heath Ledger, John Robinson, Victor Rasuk, Emile Hirsch, Michael Angarano, Nikki Reed, Rebecca De Mornay, Johnny Knoxville, America Ferrera, Mitch Hedberg

Not sure what took so damn long for this to hit Blu-ray in the U.S. but here it is, finally. While I wasn't a skater as a kid I had a few skater friends in my periphery and hung around quite a few, I would read their Thrasher magazines and listen in in their hero worship of the Bones Brigade and skaters like Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva, so I had an appreciation for it, but I couldn't skate to save my life, but I also enjoyed the aesthetic fo the sport, and the music, 80's skate-punk music like the Descendents and JFA was awesome. Lords of Dogtown came out in the wake of Stacy Peralta's phenomenal documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, and the screenplay was co-written by him so you know it has some authenticity to it, along with some polishes by writer/director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) who added more depth and female characters to it based on her own research into the story. 

For those who don't know the movie is a biographical look into the early 1970s lives of the Venice Beach teen-surfers Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk, Godzilla) Stacy Peralta (John Robinson, Transformers) and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) who along with surfboard designer Skip Engblom (Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight) transformed the local surf-scene into a burgeoning skate scene after the advent of urethane wheels which made it possible for the teen surfers to rode the concrete waves of the streets like never before, eventually popularizing the sport into the juggernaut that it became. 

Along the way there's women, personal differences, jealousies and betrayals all in the name of bloated fame and fortune, the success going to their heads causing divisions with various team members abandoning Zephyr for more lucrative contracts with competitors who were throwing money at them. The movie is shot pretty slickly but has a nice grainy sheen about, a lot of the shots feel like documentary footage, referencing the Dogtown and Z-Boys doc, but also giving some great POV action shots of shooting the pool and tearing up the streets, it gives the movie a great visual style, and the soundtrack in bonkers good, a cavalcade of 70's hard-rockers like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, T.Rex, Jimi Hendrix, Ted Nugent and Iggy and the Stooges, some of which gave the surround sounds a nice deep workout.

The cast is uniformly good, the main cast of teens have great chemistry and pull off the skating wonderfully, and Heath Ledger as the often drunk Zephyr founder Skip often steals the show. Also be on the lookout for appearances from Rebecca De Mornay (Mother's Day) as Jay's weathered, surf-hot mom and the late Mitch Hedberg in a small but pivotal role, and as with a lot of the late heath Ledger's performances, this one gets better with age, he's was gone far too soon, such a talent.   

Audio/Video: The unrated extended cut of Lords of Dogtown arrives on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment in 1080p HD widescreen, framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. The image is nicely saturated with deep color, alternating between some 70's sun-drenched California visuals and nicely lit night scenes, it has a nice 70s vibe about it. The audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that nicely exports the the Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo) score to the surrounds for a nice full sound, the 70's soundtrack featuring Cream, Budgie, Blue Oyster Cult and loads more is superb and sounds fantastic, optional English subtitles are provided.   

Extras ported over from the previous special edition DVD include the two audio commentaries, making of featurette, a gag reel, and a theatrical trailer. Notably they d0 not carry over six of the featuerrtes adding up to about fifteen minutes of content from the DVD, these include a fun half-hour cameo guide and alternate dialogue shots submitted to the ratings board during the classification process. Also gone are about 20 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, a music video of Rise Against covering Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown", and a storyboard comparison, so you might want to hang onto that DVD for the extras. 

The single-disc Blu-ray comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase (not an eco-case) with a one-sided sleeve of artwork and a slipcover (o-card), glad to see them continuing this trend of o-cards following the MC releases of Yor and Shakes the Clown - keep it up! The disc features the same key art. 

Special Features: 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
- Making-Of Lords of Dogtown (30 min)
- Dogged On Dogtown (7 min) 
- Gag Reel (4 min) 
- Uncensored Director and Commentary
- Original Z-Boys Audio Commentary 

Lords of Dogtown looks great on Blu-ray from Mill Creek, I wish they would have ported over all the extras from the special edition DVD but this is a deal for money. A fun coming of age film with appeal that breaches that of just skate enthusiasts, thoroughly enhanced by a great cast and awesome 70's music.



Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 82 Minutes/81 Minutes 
Audio: English Uncompressed LPCM Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1), 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Cyril Frankel / Seth Holt 
Cast: Gwen Watford, Niall MacGinnis, Patrick Allen, Gwen Watford, Felix Aylmer / Christopher Lee, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Susan Strasberg 

As I've been digging into these early non-horror titles from the UK's Hammer Films a few have taken me by surprise, such is the case with the Never Take Candy From a Stranger, a black and white thriller that was years ahead of the game in regard to the taboo subject of pedophilia and the sexual abuse of children, even touching on child-murder! We have a British couple moving to a small Canadian village where the father Peter (Patrick Allen, Night Creatures), has been appointmented as principle of the local school. He is joined by his wife Sally (Gwen Watford, Taste the Blood of Dracula) and their freckled nine-year old young daughter Jean (Janina Faye, Horror of Dracula. One night when their daughter cannot sleep she makes an astonishing confession to her parents, that earlier that day she and her friend Lucille (Frances Green) visited the home of an old man named Clarence Olderberry (Felix Aylmer) who offered the girls candy to prance around naked in his home. 

As a parent just watching this I was gutted, it's like being hit with a sledge in the stomach, the parents are understandably shaken by the revelation, but when they approach the local police about it they get brushed off, no one wants to rile the feathers of the Olderberrys, a well-to-do family of some local repute who's roots go deep in the community, in fact the son of the old pervert seems to run everything in the town, from the high school to the asylum. However, the parents persist taking the case to court, what unfolds is a bit of a courtroom drama, the Olderberry's defense lawyer raking the newcomers to the community over the coals, grilling the young girl to the point of tear, and casting aspersion on the validity of the vile claims. 

The film is handled with some deftness, this is a topic that could easily have been more exploitative and unseemly than it already is, but it is captivating from the opening scenes of the perv watching the girls on a swing to the tragic final moments. I found the handling such a taboo topic in a small community who doesn't want to air their dirty laundry to be both fascinating and highly upsetting. The final act of the film takes place in a wooded area near a lake is a nail-biter, with two young girls in peril being chased through the woods by a silent but still menacing Olderberry, this sequence is particularly well shot by cinematographer Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man). This recent discovery from Hammer just  might be one of my favorite non-horror thrillers them, such a great thriller, it really made me uncomfortable, as it should. 

SCREAM OF FEAR! (1961)  
Scream of Fear or Taste of Fear as it was known in the UK is a surprise filled suspense film concerning young Penny Appleby (Susan Strasberg), a wheelchair bound young lady who returns home from boarding school after her best friend dies in a drowning accident, only to discover that her beloved father has gone missing, and her cold step mother Jane (Ann Todd) whom at first seems to be ever so nice might be up to no good. Penny begins to snoop around for answers with the aid of her chauffeur Bob (Ronald Lewis), and begins to see visions of her father's corpse around the house, particularly in the guest house. Meanwhile her mother's friend Doctor Gerrard (Christopher Lee, City of the Dead) visits nightly and suggests the visions are a product of  nervous disorder.

Scream of Fear! is loaded with some very fine suspense and twisty turns, a top notch black and white thriller that makes great use of Penny's wheelchair, a scary accident that plunges her into the mansion pool is a particularly effective scene, loved this one.

Audio/Video:  Mill Creek Entertainment bring both Never Take Candy From a Stranger (1960) and Scream of Fear! (1961) to single-disc Blu-ray as a double feature. Never Take Candy from a Stranger is framed in 1080p HD widescreen (2.35:1) and looks quite nice in HD, Freddie Francis's black and white cinematography is nice reproduced, the final shocking scenario looking rather fantastic. Scream of Fear! gets a widescreen (1.66:1) presentation, also featuring some wonderfully atmospheric black and white cinematography from cinematographer Douglas Slocombe (Raiders of the Lost Ark). Both films have uncompressed English LPCM 2.0 audio with optional English subtitles. There are no extras on the disc whatsoever, bare bones just like all the other Hammer Films double-feature releases so far

Another high recommend for fans of vintage Hammer horror, this double-feature has a fine looking HD transfer for both films and for the price (less than $9) it's hard to go wrong.


MANIAC (1963) / DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! (1965) 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 87 Minutes / 97 Minutes
Audio: English Uncompressed LPCM Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Michael Carreras Silvio Narizzano
Cast: Liliana Brusse, Nadia Gray, Kerwin Mathews / Tallulah Bankhead, Stephanie Powers, Yootha Joyce, Peter Vaughn, Donald Sutherland

MANIAC (1963) 
Hammer's black and white thriller Maniac (1963) is set in the South of France, opening with a young woman named Annette (Liliane Brousse) accepting a ride home from school from a creepy landscaper who proceeds to drive her to a secluded area where he rapes her. When the girl's father discovers this he kidnaps the man, torturing and then murdering the rapist with an acetylene torch. In the aftermath the father is sent away to the asylum for the criminally insane, but is regarded as something of a local hero for his act of vengeance against his daughter's rapist.

Months later an American painter named Geoffrey Farrell (Kerwin Mathews, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf) arrives in the area and stays at a small hotel run by the young girl's step mother Eve Beynat (Nadia Gray, La Dolce Vita). Geoffrey initially is charmed by her teen daughter Annette, but the flirtation is frowned upon by Eve, who intercedes and before you know it Geoffrey and Eve are involved in a passionate and very physical relationship, which was weird, moving on from the teen daughter to mother happened real quick. Eve involves her new love in a plot to free her homicidal husband from the asylum, and what transpires from there is a twisty, sexed-up thriller that I could not have predicted the outcome of, this thing has several hairpin turns that will absolutely disorient you with it's labyrinthine of deceit!

Hammer's first color film was this matriarchal nightmare, Die! Die! My Darling! (aka Fanatic in the UK) starring Tallulah Bankhead (Lifeboat) as religious zealot Mrs. Trefoile, a decrepit old woman who is visited upon one day by Patricia Carroll (Stephanie Powers, Experiment in Terror) - the one time fiance of her now dead son, he having apparently perished in a fatal car accident. Bankhead really seems to be channeling Bettie Davis in a hag-horror role that chews-up the scenery with maniacal lunacy, blaming Patricia for taking her son away from her, chastising her for wearing the devil's color (red), and wearing lipstick (gasp!). When she finds out that Patricia plans to marry another man she locks her away in a room, hoping to make her repent her sinful ways, to purify her and mend her wicked ways. Mrs. Trefoile is assisted in her religious zealotry by a husband/wife servant duo, the lecherous Harry (Peter Vaughn, Straw Dogs) and dutiful Anna (Yootha Joyce, Fragment of Fear), plus a dim-witted gardener played by a very young, and under utilized, Donald Sutherland (Invasion of the Body Snatchers). 

This was such a fun movie, very campy in a later-era Bettie Davis/Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? sort of way, with the wicked old woman starving poor Patricia, along the way her servant Anna regularly lays hands upon her, even stabbing her at one point with a pair of scissors, providing some of that precious, patented red-paint Hammer blood. If you love campy hag-horror this one has it in spades as the puritanical lunatic attempts to brainwash/purify the 60's-era liberated young woman. 

Audio/Video: Mill Creek Entertainment bring both Maniac (1963) and Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) to single-disc Blu-ray as a double feature.Maniac is framed in the scope widescreen (2.35:1) aspect ratio, the wide lensed black and white cinematography looks great, capturing the coastal French location nicely with a good looking grain structure, fine detail is plentiful and the contrast and shadow detail is very pleasing. Audio comes by way of a clean and crisp English LPCM Mono 2.0 track, dialogue and the jazzy score from Stanley Black (The Flesh and the Fiends) sound terrific, optional English subtitles.  Die! Die! My Darling! (1963) is presented in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1). The image is crisp and clean, the source looks fantastic, colors are rich and textured, there's some nice use of Mario Bava-esque lighting in some attic scenes that absolutely glow/pop-off the screen. Grain is nicely managed and fine detail is abundant, with only some minor white speckling to note as far as blemishes. Audio comes by way of an English LPCM 2.0 Mono track, it's well-balanced, the dialogue and Gothic score from Wilfred Josephs (The Deadly Bees) comes through naturally without any distortion, optional English subtitles are provided. I would think these are sourced from the same Sony masters used by Indicator for their Hammer: Fear Warning Vol. 1, they look great with only some very minor age related wear. 

This double-feature is highly recommended to fans of Hammer's non-horror thrillers - both of these are great watches, but if you want all the bells and whistles I cannot recommend Powerhouse Films release of Hammer Vol.1: Fear Warning! enough, it has both of these films along with The Gorgon (1964) and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964) with loads of extras and deluxe packaging, but if you're more of a casual fan just looking for the films with good A/V this release from Mill Creek should do the trick! 

MAD FOXES (1981) (Full Moon DVD Review)

MAD FOXES (1981) 

Label: Full Moon Features
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 80 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0, Surround 5.1 (No Subtitles)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)

Director: Paul Grau
Cast: Jose Gras, Laura Premica, Andrea Albani, Peter John Saunders, Ana Roca

Mad Foxes comes to us from legendary Swiss exploitation producer Erwin C. Dietrich who worked with euro-cult favorite Jess Franco's on several of the director's most notorious films, these include Jack the Ripper, and Barbed Wire Dolls. While this is not a Franco film it is even more demented and frenzied than his work, a trashy and overly offensives Nazi biker action flick that must be seen to be believed! 

I won't call the lead Hal (Jose Gras, Lucio Fulci's Conquest) a hero, because a hero is probably not a forty-something man who takes a teenage girl out to a cheesy disco on her eighteenth birthday to get her drunk in hopes of deflowering her. That's not quite a hero, but he is our main man, just not a very good one, but he is one with a sweet looking Corvette Stingray, so all is forgiven I guess. Earlier in the night Hal and his date are harassed by a group of Nazi bikers at a stoplight, leading to the death of one of the bikers who crashes into a parked car while chasing the Stingray through the streets. When the couple emerge from the disco later that night they find the Nazi bikers have been waiting for them to avenge the death of their friend, they beat the snot out of Hal, helpless to do anything he watches one of the bikers jackhammer-rape his date, ruining his chance to deflower her himself, which really does seem to me to be his motivation for revenge.

The next day the tenderized Hal calls in a favor to a friend who conveniently runs a karate school, who along with his karate-kicking students meets Hal at an abandoned coliseum where the bikers are holding a funeral pyre for their fallen friend. Hal announces his arrival yelling "Sons of bitches, here I am!" and some hilariously bad choreographed fighting ensues, ending with the effeminate leader of the biker gang having his dong cut-off and stuffed down his throat! 

Now keep in mind were are only about twenty minutes in and this thing is just getting started, a madcap slice of trash cinema that has our main guy bedding another broad within moments of the avenging showdown at the coliseum, what a guy! Far from being over the surviving bikers head on over to the karate school and toss a grenade into the gymnasium, those who don't die in the initial blast are mowed down in a hail of gunfire. 

Unaware of all this Hal meets another woman who has just fucked her boyfriend on a beach not minutes before, but she hitches a ride with Hal anyway, leaving her befuddled boyfriend in the dust! Hal takes this wholesome gal to his parents house out in the country, they shack up for the night, having sex in an unhealthy bathtub of discolored water - looking like Hal might have had a diarrhea discharge. The next day they ride some horses through the countryside and fornicate some more, in their absence the bikers show up and slaughter Hal's family, discovering their mangled corpses Hal is none too pleased, and the cycle of fucking, fighting and avenging continues.

This one is a ripe slice of exploitation cinema, it has absolutely no redeeming value other than the never ending carnage and an abundance of nudity, including plenty of full-frontal from Mr. Eric Falk, the guy's schlong really should be credited on the movie poster. The madcap action and inappropriateness of this one makes for a fun watch, it's never boring and the bad/hilarious English dubbing adds another layer of cheese to the already nacho-friendly viewing. Main man (remember, not a hero) Hal as played by Jose Gras is wonderful, falling somewhere in between Charles Bronson in Death Wish 2 (1982) and Robert Ginty from The Exterminator (1980), his hammy, tortured looking facial expressions are worth the price of admission alone, a rubber-faced eye-roller with the charm of a pervy car salesman.  

Audio/Video: Mad Foxes (1981) arrives on anamorphic widescreen DVD from Full Moon Features, sourced from producer Erwin C. Dietrich's original negative for the film. Like the Jess Franco films that Full Moon have been releasing from the Dietrich library the image looks good, there's some unmolested film grain present throughout, the image looks soft at times, there's also some white speckling and a huge vertical scratch in one scene in particular, but otherwise this is a nice looking standard definition presentation. I hope this eventually comes to Blu-ray at some point the same way that the Jess Franco films have. The disc includes option of both Dolby Digital stereo and surround English-dubbing, the 5.1 is the better and more robust sounding of the options, the better to hear the corny dubbed dialogue and a pair of songs from 80's rockers Krokus!     

Onto the extras we get a 23-minute making of interview with actors Helmi Sigg, Eric Falk and producer Erwin C. Dietrich. Sigg starts it off speaking about his love of Universal monster movies and always wanting to be in the movies, which happened when he met director Paul Grau who cast him in Island Women (1980), also speaking about the free-wheeling and improvisational nature of Grau in contrast to Dietrich's more orderly approach to producing. Sigg even brings along his WWII bomber pilot cap he wore so memorably in the film. Also brought up is how they had to remove the Nazi swastika from their Nazi biker outfits for the outdoor scenes as the swastika had been banned in Germany at the time. Falk himself also speaks about the unrestrained way he created his character, comparing the over-the-top nature of the films to the antics from the Muppet's Pigs In Space, with Sigg saying the characters were shallow and without depth, described Falk's character as King Kong, a big ape who was also a bodyguard on-set, which was his former profession, he even tells a story of how he attributes being cast in Mad Foxes as saving his life, when his job as a body guard put him up against a group of Hell's Angel's bikers he invited then to join in on Mad Foxes. Sigg also speaks about the difficulty of driving the light dirt bikes on the city streets, how they were not quite the Harley's he had envisioned. Producer Dietrich only chimes in for brief moment or two, he's an older guy here and seems a bit lost in the conversation, though he does speak about director Paul Grau bringing the project to him, saying the movie was so bad he couldn't even watch it at the time, but now finds it quite funny, discussing the cinema success and eventual banning of film on VHS, clarifying his stance on cutting films, which he is clearly against in anyway. The actors discussing various infamous scenes, such as the death on the toilet of Falk's character and the grisly nurse-gutting scene Sigg's character did. The interview comes to as Falk's confesses he visited a lot of whore houses in Barcelona and ended up with a case of gonorrhea, and Sigg saying that the effeminate Nazi bikers-leader was a real-life Nazi and had to be threatened with violence to stop spouting propaganda at the hotel they were staying in.   

Falk again shows up for a solo interview, again relaying the anecdotes about the Hell's Angels and his gonorrhea but in finer detail, the big guy also speaks about director Paul Grau, giving some running commentary on a slave/master scene from the film which is being played on a screen in the room, also commenting on his own phase of sexual dominance and submission. The disc also includes a trailer for the film. 

The single-disc release comes housed in a standard DVD keepcase with a one-sided sleeve of artwork featuring a variation of the illustration I've seen on the Illusions Unlimited German Mediabook release of the film - though this version is censored, the Nazi dominatrix breasts are covered with a purple halter top, and the ass of the woman is the lower left hand corner is obscured by a a superimpose dark spot, the cover art also wraps around and continues on the spine. I wish they would have done reversible artwork on this one with an uncensored image. The uncensored image of the topless Nazi dominatrix can be seen on the special features menu of the disc. 

Special Features:
- Scum of the Earth: The Making of Mad Foxes (23 min)
- Stiletto's Song: Interview with Actor Eric Falk (9 min)
- Trailer (3 min)
- Full Moon Trailer: Caged Women (1 min), Ravenwolf Towers (1 min), Blood of a Thousand Virgins (1 min), Babes Behind Bars (1 min), Trophy Heads (2 min), Badass Mothafuckas (1 min) 

Mad Foxes (1981) is a super sleazy and action-packed slice of trash cinema, we get loads of nudity with plenty of amped-up violence and a veneer of cheesiness that when combined with the corny English dubbing makes for a stupendous watch, the level of cartoon violence onscreen here is off the charts, tasteless exploitation fans and trash-cinema lovers take note - this is a must-see!  

Cult Epics Presents 'MOON CHILD' (1989) - Agusti Villaronga's film adaptation of the Aleister Crowley novel on April 24th

MOON CHILD (1989) 

Label: Cult Epics
Region Code: Region-FREE
Release Date: March 24th 2018 
Duration: 120 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Audio: Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround (Blu-ray); Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (DVD) with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Agusti Villaronga
Cast: Maribel Martin, Lisa Gerrard, Lucia Bose, Enrique Saldana, David Sust

Inspired by famed occultist Aleister Crowley's 1923 novel of the same name, Agusti Villaronga's film centers around the extraordinary 12-year-old David (Enrique Saldana), who has been adopted by a treacherous scientific cult where extraordinary mental powers are common. He begins an archetypal journey across two continents with Georgina (Lisa Gerrard) to find his destiny as Child of the Moon.

Coming on the heels of Villaronga's unforgettable 1986 film, In a Glass Cage, Moon Child is a mystical fantasy film for adults, available for the first time in the United States on Blu-ray and DVD. Presented in a new High Definition transfer and boasting an unreleased soundtrack by the band Dead Can Dance, Moon Child is a thoroughly unique gift to cinema and music fans alike.

Special Features:

- New HD Transfer from original 35mm film.
- Interview with Agusti Villaronga (2018).
- Lobby Cards photo gallery.
- Isolated Score tracks by Dead Can Dance.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Alamo Drafthouse's American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) and Bleeding Skull! announce 'THE SOULTANGLER' (1987) Coming to DVD on March 13th


Label: AGFA/Bleeding Skull
Release Date: March 13th 2018 
Rating: Unrated 
Region Code: Region FREE
Audio: English Dolby Digital 
Video: Fullframe (1.33:1)
Director: Pat Bishow
Cast:  Bill Bernhard, Jennifer Brown, Tom Ciorciari |

Alamo Drafthouse's American Genre Film Archive, the largest non-profit genre film archive in the world, and Bleeding Skull!, the site and series of books dedicated to celebrating ultra-obscure genre movies, are excited to announce a March 13, 2018 release date for THE SOULTANGLER on DVD. After a successful run of limited edition releases with Mondo, the art boutique of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Bleeding Skull! has teamed up with AGFA to share wild horror and exploitation movies from the 1980s and 1990s with the world. THE SOULTANGLER is the first release in this ongoing partnership.

If RE-ANIMATOR was shot on Long Island for the price of a used car, THE SOULTANGLER would be the result. Insane genius Dr. Anton Lupesky has developed a drug that allows users to inhabit corpses and transform into rabid maniacs! Can reporter Kim Castle stop the carnage and save our species from annihilation?! This epic of outsider filmmaking is a dream-like wasteland that's punctuated with severed heads, evil beasties, and hooded slashers. Filmed in basements and garages, director Pat Bishow's earnest devotion to storytelling in the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft elevates THE SOULTANGLER beyond kitsch and into heavenly territory.

NOTICE: THE SOULTANGLER was shot on 16mm film, but edited on video. This transfer is taken from the original 1" master video tapes.

"Before now, THE SOULTANGLER was only ever released on VHS," said AGFA director Joe Ziemba. "We're so excited to bring this mind-bending movie to a wider audience, and it's a perfect title to kick off the new collaboration between AGFA and Bleeding Skull."

Special features:
- Transferred from the original 1" master tapes!
- Unseen 62 minute alternate director's cut!
- Commentary track with director Pat Bishow!
- Behind the scenes footage!
- Music video for "Wow" by Hypnolovewheel!
- Liner notes by Bleeding Skull's Zack Carlson!
- Reversible cover art!

Pre-order THE SOULTANGLER here.

About AGFA
The American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit located in Austin, Texas. AGFA exists to preserve the legacy of genre movies through collection, conservation, and distribution. Formed in 2009, AGFA focuses on outlaw exploitation movies that were produced from the 1960s through the 2000s. From manic hicksploitation epics to bloodthirsty shoestring goreblasts, each title in AGFA's collection is a celebration of culture that should never be forgotten. Housing over six thousand 35mm film prints and trailers, our non-profit archive counts among its board members and advisors Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League, filmmakers Paul Thomas Anderson, Anna Biller, Frank Henenlotter, and Nicolas Winding Refn, musician RZA, exploitation film savior Lisa Petrucci, and genre film superheroes Zack Carlson, Kier-La Janisse, and Lars Nilsen.

Monday, February 19, 2018

TRICK OR TREAT (1986) (Team Blu Blu-ray Review)

The Ultimate Comeback Edition 

Label: Team Blu
Region Code: Region Free
Rating: R
Duration: 97 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Surround 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (No Subtitles) 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director:  Charles Martin Smith
Cast: Marc Price, Tony Fields, Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne, Leslie Graham, Glen Morgan, Elaine Joyce, Doug Savant 

Trick Or Treat (1986) is gonna be one of those reviews wrapped ina nice warm layer of teen-nostalgia, I'm a rocker from way back and in the mid 80's I was a teen coming of age. I first saw this one at a party at a classmates house, if I am not mistaken it was my first teenage, no-parents, drinkin' beers and have fun sort of get together. I don't remember much about the party other than I watched this entire movie laying on the floor in the living room, the girl hosting the party got really upset and ran crying into the nearby woods, and someone was annoyingly dropping Skittles into my can of Old Milwaukee and it started foaming over - that's literally all I remember about the party, and that's enough, because I love this friggin' movie and it's about time someone made it available on Blu-ray in the U.S..  

In Trick Or Treat we have a teenage metal head named Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price, Skippy from fucking Family Ties!), he's a bit of a loner and is completely devastated when he find out his shock-rocker hero Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) has died in a mysterious hotel fire - you know he is because he goes into his room and tears down nearly all his metal posters in a anger-spree! Sammi Curr was a hometown kid made good, having attended the same school as Eddie years earlier, Lakeridge High School. 

Sad Eddie heads to the local radio station to seek comfort from his friend, a rock DJ named Nuke, played by Gene Simmons of rockers Kiss, who gives the teen Curr's last, and as of yet unreleased, final album, giving him the only existing copy, an test pressing. With this exclusive slice of vinyl in his hands he runs home and gives it a spin, accidentally discovering a series of backwards messages hidden in the grooves, the message seem to be aimed at specifically at him, sort of helping him get his revenge on a group testosterone fueled bullies at school who harass him on the regular. The bullies are lead by typical 80's asshole (sort of a James Spader-lite type) named Tim (Doug Savant, Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence)

Under the apparently demonic influence of Curr from beyond the grave Eddie begins to change for the worse, becoming a bit of a mean-spirited asshole bimself, almost killing douche-nozzle Tim in metal shop, realizing the evil-influence Eddie tries to separate himself from the evil record but the rocker manifests himself one night in Eddie' room, appearing in a zap of electricity like he's Horace Pinker from Wes Craven's Shocker (1989). The movie culminates with  the evil-rocker appearing at the school's Halloween concert at his high school Alma mater with the kids believing it's part of some weird  Sammi Curr tribute show, and Eddie trying to stop it before he kills everyone.

I have always loved heavy metal horror and this is one of my favorites, the directorial debut of actor Charles Martin Smith (American Graffiti, The Untouchables) and written by writers Glen Morgan (who plays Eddie's best friend in the movie) and James Wong who went onto work on the X-Files and the Final Destination series, the movie is chock full of 80's cheese but in a really enjoyable way. I don't know who thought to cast Skippy from TV's Family Ties as a teen rocker but they're geniuses, back in the day I thought it was odd, having remembered him a Skippy from Family Ties, but that's all part of the charm, his dweebiness is something I could relate to as I was a bit of high school outsider myself, it's good casting if you want a misfit. 

The cheese factor is strong with this one, but the gore is seriously lacking with hardly any blood of any kind, there's some gooey horror with a teen girl being molested by a demon while listening to a cassette tape of Curr's music, a scene thagt also offering some appreciated nudity, so that's appreciated, but if they had managed to squeeze some more gore it  would have pushed it to the next level. What it lacks in gore in makes up for in ridiculous fun, such as a montage of the bullies chasing Eddie through the school, tripping them up with mop buckets and chairs, sending one flying into stairwell at full speed, and causing bully Tim to burst into the teacher's lounge and spray the teachers with a fire extinguisher, fun 80's stuff like that always brings a smile to my face.  

As heavy metal horror goes this is near the top of the mark for me, it could have been bloodier and more gruesome but it's a lot of fun, the pace is brisk, and the soundtrack featuring hard rockers Fastway is still a great listen.  

Audio/Video: Trick or Treat  (1986) arrives on Blu-ray from artisan MOD label Team Blu in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1) with an AVC encode. This marks the first time I've ever seen the film in widescreen, all previous U.S. releases have been fullscreen. There's grain present but it's not too finely resolved, but the image is not the most crisp and detailed HD you will ever see but it's better than anything I've seen on home video before. The source looks decent, though there's dirt, debris, and white speckling throughout. Skin tones look a bit mottled and red/brown at times, obviously this is not a fresh scan of the original camera negative and lacks the clarity and fine detail that would bring tot he front, but again this is the best I've seen the film look. I have not seen the German and Australian Blu-rays that are out there to compare, though I've heard some unflattering reviews of both. 

The audio on the disc includes two options, we have a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, while I have no info about how it was created it does offer a fullness to the presentation, though I still preferred the Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mix  which was likely sourced from the 2003 Platinum Disc Corporation DVD. The lossy audio sounded just fine to me, no issues whatsoever, and while I would have preferred a lossless option I've heard the foreign releases have serious audio issues - which is why I put off purchasing one. 

In regard to this being a boutique/artisan/custom release, here's what Team Blu have posted on their eBay site about this 
release: This is an out of print or a previously unavailable on Blu-Ray title that has been manufactured "On Demand" by our group that has the rights from the studio to release our custom set using Recordable, not Pressed, media. This does not make it a bootleg. All of our releases are licensed as On Demand titles. "On Demand" is how movies of this type are made available other than a digital file or streaming. The quality is a True HD restoration of the film in question, performed by our team, along with as many bonus features as could be included. 

Let's have a look at the extras on the disc,  we get a vintage EPK featurette that runs about five minutes, this includes behind-the-scenes footage, clips from the film, brief interviews clips with director Charles Martin Smith, actor Tony Fields who plays rocker Sammi Curr, producers Michael S. Murphy and Joel Soisson, plus both Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons speaking about acting in films. 

Also included is the complete Fastway - Trick or Treat (1986) soundtrack album,  if you're not familiar with Fastway they were comprised of "Fast" Eddie Clarke of Motörhead, Pete Way of UFO, and Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie, plus vocalist David King who went onto to sing with Irish rocker Flogging Molly. The soundtrack is presented in a potent DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo mix, it sounds great with some nice separation in the mix, great fidelity. You can play the song separately or hit the play all option and sit back and enjoy the tunes, it's a great 80's hard rock album. On the same menu is the option to watch four of the songs as videos versions,  one is an official Fastway video, plus a live version of "Heft" with a what I believe is a different singer from a later incarnation of the band, plus a performance as seen in the movie of "Trick or Treat" and a clip of "Get Tough" that plays along with clips from the film. 

There's also a  fullscreen trailer and TV spot for the film, both of which look like they're from a VHS. The single-disc BD-R release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a one-sided custom sleeve, which is printed on heavy card stock, non-glossy paper. The disc itself also features artwork printed on the diss. There is a start-up menu with options for scene selections, extras, and set-up, the set-up option let's you choose between Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 and Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. 

Special Features: 
- Behind The Scenes (5 min) SD
- Trick or Treat The Album by Fastway: 1. Trick or Treat(2:47) 2. After Midnight(3:39) 3. Don't Stop the Fight (4:21) 4. Stand Up (4:04) 5. Tear Down the Walls (2:07) 6. Get Tough (3:30) 7. Hold on to the Night" (3:22)  8. Heft (Live Performance)(5:19) 9. If You Could See" (4:34) (English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0) 
- Music Video: 1. Trick Or Treat (4:52) 2. After Midnight (Official Video) (3:55) 3. Don't Stop the Fight (4:21) 4. Heft (Live Performance)(5:55)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) SD 
- TV Spot (30 sec) SD

I'm not very objective when discussing Trick Or Treat (1986), it's one of my favorite slices of 80's heavy metal horror, and while my love is laced with teen nostalgia I do think it will still appeal to fans of 80's horror, particularly those who love 80's hard rock. The lack of gore definitely detracts from it but it's hard not to enjoy this cheese 80's teen devil-music movie, it's just fun stuff. Highly recommended to fans of stuff like Evil Speak, The Gate and Idle Hands. This release can be purchased from Team Blu on eBay HERE