Thursday, March 29, 2018

BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2007) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Scott Glosserman
Cast: Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Zelda Rubinstein, Scott Wilson, Robert Englund

In Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007) we have a documentary film crew lead by journalist Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals, V.I. Warshawski) who along her two cameramen, Doug (Ben Pace) and Todd (Britain Spellings), have been invited by an aspiring serial killer named Leslie Mancuso (Nathan Baesel) to accompany him while he prepares to debut his serial killer persona, that of Leslie Vernon. He took the name of a local urban legend as his identity, Vernon was a local farm boy who murdered his family before being killed and dumped in the river by a mob of local vigilantes. In this alternate reality slasher film killers are real, this includes Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees, these are Leslie's  role models and who he aspires to be, he even has a mentor, a retired serial killer named Eugene, played by Scott Wilson (The Exorcist III, The Walking Dead). 

The film crew documents Leslie's preparations for his debut as the killer Leslie Vernon, a detailed vision map where he had identified his virginal final girl, and her group of peripheral friends whom he plans to kill at an abandoned farmhouse which figures prominently into both he local lore and his character's mythical backstory. As we all know every serial killer must have a nemesis, for Leslie it's Doc Halloran, his psychiatrist/nemesis played wonderfully straight by Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), his character is a nice homage to Donald Pleasance's Dr. Loomis from John Carpenter's Halloween (1978).  

Nathan Baesel is great in the role of Leslie, he's charismatic, disarmingly affable, but also intense and slightly goofy as he sets about showing the doc-crew how he will execute his kill-spree, it's sort of akin to a magician showing you how his illusions are achieved. We see hi doing cardio so he can seemingly speed-walk to catch fleeing victims without looking like he's running, pre-spooking the final girl days before the event, and nailing windows shut to prevent escape, really going into detail about how it will all go down - the documentary team are totally in awe of his preparation. 

However, on the night of the kill-spree Taylor begins to have reservations about baring witness to a mass murder and tries to prevent Leslie from going through with it, but once he dons his signature mask and outfit, including a hand-held sickle-weapon, he will not turn back. Taylor and the camera crew try to warn the final girl of what's about to happen, in a nice twist they walk in on the virginal final girls riding a guy reverse cowgirl style, which would seem to throw Leslie's final girl aspirations out the window, but there's a nice twist to ti all and the films plays out wonderfully. 

At this point the doc crew abandon the documentary and the film reverts to a traditional narrative style, abandoning the documentary-POV, and when I first saw this film I did have a problem with that, the tonal-shift and change in perspective was jarring - but not so much this time around, I was able to just go with it and enjoy the slasher movie it becomes, which is rather good, maybe so good that I kinda want a straight Leslie Vernon movie. Once the carnage starts it's pretty good, there's an exquisite though not to graphic kill with Vernon plunging a post-hole digger into a victim's chest and pulling out his heart with the tool, depositing in into the hand of the victim, that's just great stuff. For a few brief scenes I could really see Angela Goethals as an Amy Steel type final girl, I was really into the whole last third of the film. 

The only downside to it all is that we've seen Leslie's civilian identity we know what nice-guy type he is, and while his murdering persona shows none of that you just cannot unsee that, so it informs you're enjoyment of the slasher part of it, I call this the Osbourne Effect. I love Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne's music, but after having watched Ozzy's reality show The Osbournes I cannot help but think if what a drug-addled dip shit the guy is when I hear the music, I still love the music, I could listen to "Fairies Wear Boots" on repeat for days, but there's always that niggling image of that drug-addled and befuddled Ozzy in the back of my mind when I hear his music, the same with Gene Simmons, what a fucking douche-nozzle, but I still love Ace Frehly era Kiss, though I do tend to skip over a few of the Simmons-sung songs mow! 

Audio/Video: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a new HD master from the 2K intermediate. I never had an issue with the previous Anchor Bay Blu-ray and I struggle to see much of a difference here, but that's fine because the image looks solid with what looks to be accurate color reproduction and deep blacks, so all is good. This is shot in part as a documentary so the video and audio components are a bit limited when compared to a full-on traditional film, but everything looked authentic to my eyes without any issues, and when it reverts to a traditional narrative slasher the visual quality is vastly superior. Audio options include both English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and stereo, the 5.1 is not the most active but there's some decent use of the surrounds from time to time.    

Scream Factory celebrate the 10th anniversary of this meta-slasher gem with new extras in addition to porting over the extra from the Anchor Bay DVD (which were not ported over for Anchor Bay's own Blu-ray upgrade). These include an audio commentaries, deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a half-hour on-set and behind-the-scenes making of doc,  six minutes of casting sessions including a few actresses who didn't make the cut, and the theatrical trailer. New stuff exclusive to this edition begin with 'Joys and Curses', a retrospective doc with new interviews from actors Angela Goethals, Ben Pace and co-writer/co-producer David Stieve who discuss the genesis of the project, the struggle to make it while actors Angela Goethals and Ben Pace speak about their unfamiliarity with the slasher genre.

There's also an interview with comic book artists Nathan Thomas Milliner (he's also a slipcover illustrator for Code Red and Scream Factory among others) who did the artwork for the sequel comic books for the film, speaking of how he reluctantly came to work on the comic after creating a promotional poster for the film.  

This single-disc collector's edition release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, the b-side featuring the original movie poster, the a-side is a new illustration from artists Joel Robinson (Misery, Silent Night Deadly Night, Tales from the Hood) which is an improvement on the original home video artwork IMO, though it is too floating heads-style for my tastes. This release comes with a slipcover(o-card) featuring the same Robinson illustration as does the Blu-ray disc. 

Special Features:
- NEW HD master from the 2K intermediate
- NEW Joys and Curses - interviews with actors Angela Goethals, Ben Pace and co-writer/co-producer David Stieve (29 min) HD
- NEW Before the Mask: The Comic Book – an interview with comic book artist Nathan Thomas Milliner (6 min) HD
- Audio commentary with co-writer/director Scott Glosserman, moderated by filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch
- Audio commentary with Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Britain Spelling and Ben Pace
- The Making of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon featurette (32 min)
- The Casting of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon featurette (6 min)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary (25 min)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- Easter Egg ( 1 min) 

When I first saw Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon about a decade ago I enjoyed it but I didn't love it, but watching it again after having some distance from it I think it has aged remarkably well, I love it. This is not a send-up of slashers, this is a straight-up love letter from a writer and director who clearly love this stuff, this thing is great, glad to finally have it on Blu-ray with some worthy extras. 

AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS (1973) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Cast: Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham

Gothic shocker And Now The Screaming Starts (1973) was directed by Roy Ward Baker (Asylum) and was a bit of a stylistic departure for Amicus in that it was not an anthology film and it's a Gothic period piece, which was first and only for them. Set in the 1700's we have Charles Fengriffin (Ian Ogilvy, The Witchfinder General) bringing his gorgeous new bride Catherine (Stephanie Beacham, Schizo) back to his ancestral home, there she is almost immediately spooked by a portrait hanging on the wall, one of Charles grandfather Sir Henry Fengriffin (Herbert Lom, 99 Women). She gets woozy at the sight of it and imagines a bloodied hand erupting from the painting... and that's when the screaming starts. When it turns out to be nothing her doting husband chalks it up to newlywed nerves and as they settle in for the night, when Charles steps out of the room for just a moment she is attacked in bed by a disembodied hand, and once again there's no proof of what frightened her and they move on as though nothing had happened.   

Elsewhere on the sprawling  property lives a woodsman (Geoffrey Whitehead) who lives rent free, telling Catherine that his grandfather was bequeathed the small property by Sir Henry Fengriffin himself, when she inquires to Charles about why the woodsman's family was gifted the land he refuses to say, but it has something to do with a dark family secret, which is revealed in flashback during the latter half of the movie, and boy is it terrible stuff. This might be one of Herbert Lom's most despicable characters, and that's saying something as he also starred in Jess Franco's 99 Women and Mark of the Devil!

Charles doesn't seem to believe his new bride's frightful visions are real - including an eyeless phantom who looks a lot like the woodsman - but nonetheless he calls in Doctor Whittle (Patrick Magee, Lucio Fulci's Black Cat) to assess the situation, but when he dies her must call in yet another doc, Doctor Pope (Peter Cushing, Frankenstein Created Woman) who both begin to look into the root cause of his new bride's frightful visions - and of course it all goes back to Sir Henry's debauchery fifty years earlier. . 

And Now The S Creaming Starts is reported to have been Amicus's most expensive production and it shows, this is the only Gothic period piece they did and they went all out, trying to out-Hammer Hammer with lush visuals, from the painterly rural locations to the atmospheric wafts of morning fog drifting across the property, this thing is dripping with Victorian melodrama and Gothic chills in every frame. The pace is a bit languid by Amicus standards which might be why this one is sort of relegated to lower-tier Amicus appreciation status in my opinion, it's just not a film I think gets it's due when one thinks of Gothic British horror. 

The direction from Roy Ward Baker (The Vampire Lovers) is top notch as usual, reuniting him with actors Peter Cushing, Partrick Magee and Herbert Lom who also appeared together in Baker's Amicus anthology Asylum (1972). I won't get anymore spoilery that I already have but Herbert Lom's character is absolutely the worst human being, he's the key to the curse that haunts the Fengriffin family and the comeuppance at the end is twistedly wonderful, I love the ending of this one and how it all comes full circle.  
Audio/Video: And Now The Screaming Starts (1973) arrives on Blu-ray from Severin Film remastered in 4K, and looking to have been sourced from a quality print, easily surpassing Ayslum (1973) in terms of picture quality. The grain is better managed, colors are more robust and the image density more uniform, with some scenes showcasing some very fine detail. There's some minor print damage by way of small scratches, white speckling and at least one cigarette burn I noticed, nut overall this is a very pleasing HD upgrade of this Amicus Gothic chiller. 

Audio on the disc comes by way of an English language DTS-HD MA Mono track, capably exporting dialogue without issue, the score from Douglas Gamley sounds great, the lush arrangements complimenting the Gothic visuals nicely. Also included is the option to watch the film with a Spanish-dub track presented in Dolby Digital mono, which is expectedly a much flatter audio presentation without the depth and separation of the DTS-HD audio. 

Onto the extras Severin have carried over the theatrical trailer and a pair of audio commentaries from the previous Dark Sky Films release, the first with Director Roy Ward Baker and Actress Stephanie Beacham moderated by  director Marcus Hearn (Marcus Hearn, Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros. Years) and a second with Star Ian Ogilvy moderated by film archivist Darren Gross. 

Onto the new stuff, the 15-min Haunting of Oakley Court is a look at the iconic filming location known as Oakley Court, a Victorian mansion used in literally hundreds of films ranging from Brides of Dracula, to Girly and the cult-classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, one look at it and you will recognize it from multiple movies and television appearances, even if you cannot place the film you will know the unmistakable facade. The tour is a walk about the grounds with authors Allan Bryce and David Flint, walking and talking as clips from various movies made there play out, along the way they offer a history of the location, which was favorited by both Amicus and Hammer through the years. There's also a 12-min audio interview with Actor Peter Cushing By Denis Meikle that touches on his work with director Freddie Francis, Christopher Lee, and working with both Amicus and Hammer Films. Journalist Denis Meikle shows up for a brief 4-min dress-down of the film, he doesn't have a high opinion of it, speaking about the oddity of an Amicus Gothic production at a time when such things were on the down turn, as was the British film industry, also speaking a bit about Cushing's fragile state of mind following his wife's death. 

The single-disc release comes housed in a nifty black Blu-ray case with a single-sided sleeve of artwork, which looks to be the original VHS artwork, the disc features an excerpt of the same artwork. If I could have my everything I do wish we had a reversible option featuring the original movie poster illustration of a hand pulling back bed sheets, which Dark Sky used on their previous DVD edition. 

This release is also available as part of Severin's 4-disc limited edition of The Amicus Collection which also features the anthology Asylum (1972), the werewolf whodunit The Beast Must Die (1974), as well as a bonus disc stuffed with a complete set of Amicus trailers, TV commercials, rare interviews and more. The Beast Must Die and the bonus disc are exclusive to the limited edition set (of 3500) which is now sold out on the Severin site but still available for about $60 at various online retailers right now, so act quickly on this one if you want the 4-disc set, it's worth it, I'm glad I ordered mine the day that set went live at the Severin site!  
  Special Features:
- The Haunting Of Oakley Court – Featurette with Allan Bryce, Author of “Amicus: The Friendly Face Of Fear”, and David Flint, Author of “Ten Years Of Terror”, visit the classic horror film location (15 min) HD 
- Audio Commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker and Actress Stephanie Beacham
- Audio Commentary with Star Ian Ogilvy
- Archive Audio Interview with Actor Peter Cushing By Denis Meikle (12 min) 
- Horror Journalist Denis Meikle Recalls And Now The Screaming Starts – Featurette (4 min) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (1 min) HD
- Radio Spot (1 min) HD

And Now The Screaming Starts (1973) is an overlooked gem of British horror, a creaky Gothic tale of debauchery and ancestral revenge that is worth re-evaluating if you've passed it by previously, Lord know I have through the years. Maybe because I've acquired a taste for slow-burning Gothic chillers as I've grown older this played gangbusters for me, right up to the shocker finale that features a fevered desiccated corpse desecration. The new Blu-ray from Severin is the best this has ever looked on home video by a Gothic mile, so have no fear, this is worth the upgrade and some serious re-evaluation. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ASYLUM (1972) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)

ASYLUM (1972) 

Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 88 Minutes 
Rating: PG
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Cast: Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Barry Morse, Robert Powell 

This Amicus produced horror anthology directed by Roy Ward Baker (The Vault of Horror) and written by Robert Bloch (Psycho) is a very fine example of the classic portmanteau-film, a collection of chilling (and usually slightly hokey) short stories blended together with a unifying wrap around story. Hammer's arch-rival Amicus made a wonderfully robust amount of them in the 70's, and Asylum is one of the best of the bunch. The wrap-around story - which evolves into it's own vignette - begins with Dr. Martin (Robert Powell, The Asphyx) arriving at an asylum for a job interview for the lead physician position. He's greeted by a wheelchair bound  Dr. Lionel Rutherford (Patrick Magee, A Clockwork Orange) who informs him that his job interview will be a rather unusual one, he will have to interview four criminally insane inmates kept locked away on the secured second floor and deduce which is actually the former head doctor of the asylum, he or she having had a violent mental breakdown, if he chooses correctly he will be considered for the position. That's our wrap-around story in a nutshell, with Dr. Martin touring the second floor of the facility with an orderly named Max (Geoffrey Bayldon, Tales from the Crypt) escorting him and offering some wry commentary along the way.

The first of the stories proper is "Frozen Fear", a tale of a unhappily married man named Walter (Richard Todd, Bloodbath) who is desperate to be rid of his wife Ruth (Sylvia Syms, The Tamarind Seed), to that end he has planned to ax-murder her in the basement, as you do. However, her dabbling in the occult makes her brutal dismemberment one worth remembering, she having her vengeance from beyond the grave. This one starts things off briskly as the husband chops her up rather quickly after luring her to his basement/kill-room, wrapping her torso and severed head and limbs in brown deli-wrap paper and tidily binding it with string like a well-manicured choice cut of meat fresh from the local butcher's shop. Stowing her remains in freezer he begins planning a getaway with his new lover Bonnie (Barbara Parkins, The Mephisto Waltz) only to be interrupted by his ax-whacked wife whose surprisingly re-animated pieces have a go at him. I loved this one, it's a fun opening salvo that starts things off with a wink and a nod, light-hearted perfection, if you can call wife-murder light-hearted. 

Up next we have "The Weird Tailor" wherein a cash-strapped tailor named Bruno (Barry Morse, Funeral Homeon the verge of being evicted is approached by a seemingly wealthy patron named Mr. Smith (Peter Cushing, Corruption), tasked with stitching together a custom fitted suit with the odd instructions that it must only be sewn in the early morning hours after midnight and before dawn. Strange though the request may be Bruno dutifully fulfills the order per the instructions,  however, upon delivering the finished suit to his patron he finds that Mr. Smith not only doesn't have the promised money but has some weird occult resurrection in the works! Anything with Peter Cushing in it is gonna be worth a watch, and this segment is no different, but it's Barry Morse who steals the show this time around, I love his performance as the tailor, and the twist at the end involving a store mannequin at his shop was rather unexpected, and a bit goofy.  

Orderly Max next introduced Dr. Martin to a young woman named 
Barbara (Charlotte Rampling, The Night Porter) in the segment "Lucy Comes To Stay", she relays to him the story of how she was formerly incarcerated at an asylum before being freed, released to her brother George (James Villiers, Otley) who sets her up at home under the supervision of a kindly older nurse named Miss Higgins (Megs Jenkins, The Innocents), which frustrates her. When her friend prankster Lucy (Brit Ekland, What The Peeper Saw) shows up unexpectedly it cheers her up a bit, but when Lucy's pranks turn to murder most foul she blames Lucy, but there's a problem with that scenario we come to find out.

The last of the stories proper is "Mannikins of Horror" starring the always great (no matter how bad the film may be) Herbert Lom (And Now The Screaming Starts) as a patient at the asylum who is working on some sort of soul-transference process, obsessed with the notion of sending his psyche into that of a tiny automaton, which looks for the most part like a cheap wind-up toy with a well-crafted likeness of his own head on it. Let's just not think about why a mental health facility would encourage such a thing and let him keep the damn toy in his room, but it has a decent payoff that works better than it should. Herbert Lom is fantastic, and the premise works better than the cheap looking robot would have had me believe, this one tying directly into the wrap-around story at the asylum, and then we finish-up with a fun (though not shocking) conclusion with orderly Max addressing us, the viewers, directly, as a new candidate arrives at the asylum for the same sort of interview.    

Audio/Video: Asylum (1972) arrives on Blu-ray from Severin Films, this is a film that hasn't had an update on home video since Dark Sky Films gave it a special edition DVD polish years ago, so this is a welcome HD upgrade, sourced from a new 2K scan of "vault elements" which judging by the image was a good quality theatrical print. Framed in 1.78:1 widescreen the 1080p HD image is a bit on the soft side but acceptable given the source, colors look good and the grain field is nicely managed for the most part, while looking overly abundant at times, it's not pristine but it's the best we've had on home video so far. The English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono audio exports the orchestral score from Douglas Gamely nicely, dialogue is clean and clear, everything well-balanced without distortion. A Spanish-dub track is also included as an audio option. 

Onto the extras we get a nice selection, beginning with a lively vintage commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker and camera operator Neil Binney moderated by Marcus Hearn, many facets of the production are covered, good stuff. We then get a vintage on-set featurette by the BBC filmed during shooting of the film. New stuff begins with an appreciation of writer Robert Block (Psycho) by writer David J. Schow (Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), plus a remembrance of Amicus' Milton Subotsky by his widow. The 20-min Inside The Fear Factory Featurette is a nice overview of Amicus Films as told by Directors Roy Ward Baker, Freddie Francis and Producer Max J. Rosenberg, if you're a fan of British horror and Amicus in particular this is a fun watch. The disc is finished up with two trailers for the film.

The single-disc release comes housed in a nifty black Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve of artwork, of which I preferred the b-side. The disc features an excerpt of the a-side artwork.

Reversible Artwork 
This release is also available as part of Severin's 4-disc limited edition of The Amicus Collection which also features the Gothic-shocker And Now the Screaming Starts (1973), the werewolf whodunit The Beast Must Die (1974), as well as a bonus disc stuffed with a complete set of Amicus trailers, TV commercials, rare interviews and more. The limited edition set (of 3500) copies is now sold out on the Severin site but still available for under $60 at various online retailers, so act quickly on this one if you want the 4-disc set, I'm glad I ordered mine the day that set went live at the Severin site!  

Special Features:

- Two’s A Company: 1972 On-set report from BBC featuring Interviews With Producer Milton Subotsky, Director Roy Ward Baker, Actors Charlotte Rampling, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, Art Director Tony Curtis and Production Manager Teresa Bolland (18 min) HD 
- David J. Schow on Robert Bloch – Featurette (21 min) HD 
- Fiona Subotsky Remembers Milton Subotsky – Featurette (10 min) HD 
- Inside The Fear Factory Featurette with Directors Roy Ward Baker, Freddie Francis and Producer Max J. Rosenberg (20 min) 
- Audio Commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker and Camera Operator Neil Binney
- Theatrical Trailers (3 min) 

I love the Amicus horror anthologies, in fact I watch them a lot more than I do the Hammer Films truth be told, the short-story format is appealing to me, while there's usually a dud in the three or four stories I find that the occasional bad apple doesn't spoil the whole basket of vignetted-fruit. While none of the stories in Asylum (1972) are particularly scary or overly clever they all wok for me as a whole, even the wrap around story is great, plus we have an outstanding cast that includes Herbert Lom and Peter Cushing. That the film doesn't culminate with the usual 'they're already dead' trope we've seen several times from Amicus is a bonus, but even this twist here is nothing all that original, it's just a well-crafted and stylish series of vignettes that flow well, making this a classic slice of British horror. 

THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1972) (VCI Blu-ray Review)


Label: VCI Entertainment 

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: PG
Duration: 81 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM Mono, Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Eddie Romero
Cast: John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Charles Macaulay, Pam Grier 

In this low-rent knock-off of H.G. Welles' The Island of Dr. Moreau we have international man of adventure Matt Farrell (John Ashley, Beach Blanket Bingo) scuba-diving in some unknown international waters when he is attacked by two divers who proceed to lasso the guy and haul him out of the water like some sort of trophy marlin dangling from a winch and crane. Once on the deck of the boat he is drugged and taken by evil-henchman Steinman (Jan Merlin, The Hindenberg) to an uncharted island where well-mannered mad scientist Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay, Blacula) is up to the usual man-animal hybridization we've come to expect from mad docs on tropical islands. Dr. Gordon has handpicked the heavily side-burned adventurer as his next human lab-rat, but when the doc's gorgeous daughter Neva (Pat Woodell, The Big Doll House) finds herself attracted to the handsome guy things begin to go awry, leading to the couple freeing the manimal hybrids from captivity and escaping into the jungles on the island with Gordon and his right-hand man Steinman, along with a myriad of red-shirt bad guys, in hot pursuit. 

This low-fi riff on the well-familiar H.G. Welles story is cheesy, fun entertainment, we get human-animal hybrids of all variety, from a rapey ape-man to a winged bat-man, a even a horned (but not horny)  antelope-man! Of note 70's blaxploitation Goddess Pam Grier (Foxy Brown) shows up as a panther-woman, and while the manimal designs aren't great, Grier is always purr-fectly welcome when she appears onscreen. The creature designs are cheaply made with what looks to be special effects consisting of clay clumped onto actors faces with tufts of horse hair, horns and sharp teeth and/or fangs, no one made out very well in the look department, though bat-boy might get the worst of it with his horrendous vinyl wings, but at least he gets hooked up to a crane and wires (I am assuming) for some flying scenes, which are ropy but fun. There's some minor bloodshed, the most prominent being an javelina-human hybrid shot in the head with a .22 caliber pistol, causing a mini-geyser of blood to spew forth, we also get some bloody gunshot wounds and neck wounds. The main attraction here for me was the inclusion of Pam Grier as the panther woman, she's fanged and fearsome, offering up some ass-kicking action and plenty of purring and roaring in equal measure. 

This is one of the Filipino-exploitation films shot in the Philipines in the 70s, and director Eddie Romero was no stranger to the source material, having already riffed on the H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau with his own film Terror is a Man (1959), this version is cheap and lo-fi but it's very entertaining in a drive-in double-bill sort of way, breezing by in just over eighty-minutes it's hard to have fun with it, bad b-movie lovers should have a blast with this one, I sure did. 

Audio/Video: Twilight People (1972) arrives on dual-format Blu-ray/DVD from VCI Entertainment, advertised as being a new 2K scan of the original camera negative. The 1.78:1 widescreen image looks clean and shows very minimal white speckling and very few if any other damages to the film, however there is a yellow/green hue that permeates the image, skin tones looking overly green at times. The clarity at is often impressive with nice depth, but the density fluctuates wildly from one scene to the next, with contrast and black levels also varying. A few scenes are marred by some yellowing of the image, one scene in particular is a view of the island from the ocean, it looks as if a piss-colored cloudburst has opened up and poured down the center of the screen, not sure if this is endemic of the original source or if this is an age-related irregularity, but it's there. The English language PCM Mono 2.0 audio is limited in it's fidelity but comes through relatively clean with only some minor hiss and boxiness to the dialogue, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Extras on the disc include an audio commentary from film historian and journalist David Del Valle and director David DeCoteau (Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge), both of these guys are movie buffs and have been in and around the industry for decades, each comes to this one with a true love of bad b-movies and trivia galore about the cast and crew, and the various versions of the source material that have been adapted for the big screen - even if you hate the movie this is a great commentary track. We also get an hour-long vintage interview  with director Eddie Romero who discusses his career as a filmmaker and how he came to be a director, working on Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, it's got some great stuff in there, but the source is lo-fi, possibly VHS sourced and the sound is spotty. Additionally we have a theatrical trailer for the film and a selection of TV spots. 

The 2-disc release comes housed in a clear eco-lite Vortex Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring the original blue-tinged movie poster and a more colorful version of the same artwork with Pam Grier featured prominently into it. The 2-discs themselves featuring differing images from the film, the DVD features the same feature and extras in standard definition with lossy audio.

Special Features: 

- Audio Commentary by Film Historian and Journalist David Del Valle and Genre Director David DeCoteau (Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge) 
- Video Interview with the director, Eddie Romero
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots (2 min)

The Twilight People (1972) offers up some cheap Moreau-styled thrills that lovers of bad b-cinema should lap up with a thirst, sure it's a bad movie but it is an entertaining slice of exploitation, and noteworthy for the early appearance from a fur-covered Pam Grier. Glad to have this one on widescreen Blu-ray, while there are some not insignificant issues with the image this is a nice widescreen HD upgrade of the schlocky and animalistic cult-classic.  

MOHAWK (2017) arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 10th

MOHAWK (2017) 

Comes to Blu-ray and DVD on April 10th

Starring Kaniehtiio Horn (Hemlock Grove), Justin Rain (Fear the Walking Dead), and Eamon Farren (Twin Peaks: The Return) along with Noah Segan (Looper), Jonathan Huber (WWE Superstar Luke Harper), Robert Longstreet (I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore), and Sheri Foster (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

After its hit festival run, Dark Sky Films is proud to announce the Blu-ray and DVD release of Ted Geoghegan's MOHAWK on April 10th. The release will feature reversible box art (pictured above). MOHAWK is a no-holds-barred action-thriller marking the second team-up between writer-director Ted Geoghegan, producer Travis Stevens, cinematographer Karim Hussain and Dark Sky Films after their award-winning 2015 horror hit, We Are Still Here. 

Reversible Artwork
After one of her tribe sets an American camp ablaze, a young Mohawk warrior finds herself pursued by a contingent of military renegades set on revenge. Fleeing deep into the woods they call home, Oak and Calvin, along with their British companion Joshua, must now fight back against the bloodthirsty Colonel Holt and his soldiers - using every resource both real and supernatural that the winding forest can offer.

Praised as "gripping" and "a wild ride" by Indiewire, and "realistic and very personal" by The Hollywood Reporter, MOHAWK unfolds over the course of one bloody day during The War of 1812. Birth. Movies. Death. Says, "[Mohawk] does a fine job of reminding us that sometimes the truest horror is that of our own history." and called the film "A searing genre hybrid."

MOHAWK stars Kaniehtiio Horn (Hemlock Grove), Justin Rain (Fear the Walking Dead), and Eamon Farren (Twin Peaks: The Return) along with Ezra Buzzington(Justified, The Middle), and including Ian Colletti ("Arseface" from AMC's Preacher) and Jonathan Huber, WWE Superstar Luke Harper making his big screen debut.

Produced by Dark Sky Films, the producers and distributors of We Are Still Here as well as House of the Devil, Stake Land, Hatchet 2 + 3, and many more, and Snowfort Pictures (Cheap Thrills, We Are Still Here, Starry Eyes) this is The Last of the Mohicans meets The Last House on the Left.

Director: Ted Geoghegan
Producers: Travis Stevens and Greg Newman
Writers: Ted Geoghegan and Grady Hendrix
Starring: Kaniehtiio Horn (Hemlock Grove), Ezra Buzzington (Justified, The Middle), Eamon Farren (Twin Peaks: The Return), Justin Rain (Fear the Walking Dead), Ian Colletti ("Arseface" from AMC's Preacher), Noah Segan (Looper), Jonathan Huber (WWE Superstar Luke Harper), Robert Longstreet (I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore), and Sheri Foster (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)



Label: 88 Films
Region Code: B
Rating: Cert. 12
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: Uncompressed LPCM English Mono 2.0, Uncompressed LPCM Chinese Mono 2.0 with English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Cast: Danny Lee, Terry Liu, Hsieh Wang

Director: Shan Hua

The UK's top label for Hong Kong cinema has outdone itself by bringing one of the key classics of kaiju craziness back to shelves for a British BluRay premiere!

With a street date of 23rd April, 88 Films is proud to announce that the Cantonese-language classic THE SUPER INFRAMAN (1975) is now IN STOCK at our online web shop and shipping almost a month early! Highlighting a brand new HD transfer and coming clad in our trademark slipcase that features the original Hong Kong poster artwork, this is a superhero epic that needs to be seen to be believed. Years before caped crusaders, airborne idols and indestructible uniform-clad animal-men became a blockbuster presence, the East Asian superstar actor Danny Lee (CITY ON FIRE/ THE UNTOLD STORY) punched and kicked his way to stardom as the headline attraction in this outrageously entertaining action packed masterpiece!

The very first Hong Kong superhero opus, THE SUPER INFRAMAN also drew on the kaiju (direct translation: 'strange beasts') boom that had proved so popular in Japan thanks to the ongoing ULTRAMAN and GOJIRA/ GODZILLA franchises. However, by the mid-1970s even the 'King of the Monsters' was starting to look a little long in the tooth and, as a result, it was up to the director Shan Hau, whose other classic credits include SOUL BROTHERS OF KUNG FU (1977) and BLOODY PARROT (1981), to attempt to cross cultures with this Chinese variant. The proof, of course, is in the prize - and THE SUPER INFRAMAN was a smash hit across the Asian continent - bridging language boundaries and national identity as viewers grooved to the loud colours, lavish costumes and otherworldly creations. Featuring creature feature fisticuffs, with Lee pitched against a number of monstrous creations, and foxy femme fatales - this is pure glam rock mixed with chock-a-block adventure and intrigue.

Cleverly mixing sci-fi and shocks together - THE SUPER INFRAMAN became one of the most celebrated Shaw Brothers productions of its era. Inspiring a cult following that has lasted until this day, this genius 1975 jaunt of good vs. evil in mysterious lands has been one of the most demanded titles from followers of the 88 Asia line. As such, we are proud to present THE SUPER INFRAMAN in this dazzling release - that comes with options of the original Cantonese audio track, with English subtitles, or - for that true 'grindhouse' experience - the Anglicised dub where not a single word matches a single mouth motion! Also included in this release is a behind-the-scenes image gallery and a booklet by Dr. Calum Waddell looking back at the history of the kaiju trend!

Special Features: 
- Remastered on 2.35:1 from the Original Negative
- Uncompressed LPCM English Mono
- Uncompressed LPCM Chinese Mono with English Subtitles
- Behind the Scenes Image Gallery
- Reversible Sleeve featuring Original Hong Kong Poster Art

Severin Films Presents EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS (1977) - the ultimate sex & gore shocker - newly remastered for the first time ever.


Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals - Limited Edition

Only 3,000 units with an exclusive Slip Cover and CD Soundtrack!

Label: Severin Films
Release Date: May 8th 2018 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 94 Minutes 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English, Italian Dolby Digital Mono
Director: Joe D'Amato
Cast: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Monica Zanchi, Donald O'Brien

Synopsis: In 1977, infamous filth auteur Joe D'Amato (BEYOND THE DARKNESS, ANTRHOPOPHAGUS) combined the insane extremes of eroticism and cannibalism for the most groin-grinding, gut-munching, gore-spewing EuroSleaze saga of them all: When journalist Emanuelle (the ever-luscious Laura Gemser of BLACK EMANUELLE fame) discovers evidence of an extinct cannibal tribe in a Manhattan mental hospital, her investigation will take her to the Amazon jungle for an orgy of carnage that SexGoreMutants calls "...feral, demented and nasty. And in exploitation terms, that's entertainment!"

Gabriele Tinti (EMANUELLE IN AMERICA), Monica Zanchi (SISTER EMANUELLE) and Donald O'Brien
(DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D.) co-star in "the flesh & fear masterpiece from the late great splatter genius" (DVD Beaver) released to '80s grindhouses as TRAP THEM AND KILL THEM and now scanned in 2k from original vault elements.

Special Features:
- The World of Nico Fidenco - An interview with composer Nico Fidenco.
- A Nun Among the Cannibals - An interview with actress Annamaria Clementi.
- Dr. O'Brien MD - An interview with actor Donald O'Brien.
- From Switzerland to Mato Grosso - An Interview with actress Monika Zanchi.
- I Am Your Black Queen - Laura Gemser archive audio interview.

- Theatrical Trailer