Sunday, September 30, 2018

THE BRIDE (1985) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)

THE BRIDE (1985) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 118 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Franc Roddam
Cast: Sting, Beals, Geraldine Page, Clancy Brown, Anthony Higgins, David Rappaport

The Bride (1985) open up in a very Hammer horror sort of way with Baron Charles Frankenstein (Sting, Dune) in his castle tower lab on a dark and stormy night, he's mad at work creating a female counterpart for his first spare body parts creation, the Monster (Clancy Brown, Highlander). Colored liquids are bubbling around the lab, electricity is crackling in the air, there's a corpse wrapped in bandages suspended into the storm, you know, the usual Frankenstein stuff. With the crack of lighting the body comes to life and we're introduced to Eva (Jennifer Beals, Vampire's Kiss), Frankenstein's newest creation has none of the unsightly scars of predecessor, it seems that Dr. Frankenstein has learned a few new tricks since creating the original monster. However, when Eva's introduced to her intended mate she recoils in horror at his disfigured  visage, and then the  rejected monster goes into a rage and destroys the lab, setting it on fire with the roof collapsing. 

The resulting fire destroys the laboratory and kills Frankenstein's lab assistants, and in the aftermath the monster is incorrectly assumed dead as well. The doctor sets about teaching the gorgeous Eva how things work in proper English society, his goal is to mold her into the ultimate woman, man's equal in every way. Meanwhile the monster roams the countryside where he meets a kind dwarf named Rinaldo (David Rappaport, Time Bandits), after the monster saves the dwarf from bullying at the hands of mean-spirited children he gives the hulking man a proper name, Viktor, and begins to teach the simpleton the ways of the world in ways that Frankenstein never did. Together they travel to Budapest to join a travelling circus operated by crooked scumbag who would rather have the ignorant Viktor to himself without the watchful/protective eye of Rinaldo.

As the film plays out we follow Frankenstein's efforts to manicure his latest creation, refining her manors and introducing her to polite society, with a few missteps along the way, like when she screams in fright at a cat during a social function, believing it to be a little lion! Her introduction into public society almost immediately puts her in the sights of Captain Josef Schoden (Cary Elwes, The Princess Bride), an arrogant Lothario who has designs on relieving her of her innocence, igniting her passions and skewing the relationship with Frankenstein who begins to turn creepy towards his creation. 

Meanwhile Viktor is growing emotionally, with the help of Rinaldo he becomes a functional person, earning a living at the circus and developing a deep friendship with his pint-sized mentor, humorously drinking beer (and nursing a hangover) for the first time, even developing his comic timing as part of Rinaldo's trapeze act. Clancy Brown is wonderful underneath all the make-up and prosthetics, he gets across the stilted emotion of the character, he gets to the heart of the Frankenstein creature, in a lot of ways this is my favorite non-Karloff version of Frankenstein' Monster, very few films outside the original Frankenstein have made me care about the creature or given him pathos, this movie did that for me. It also helps that Rappaport is so damn charming as the diminutive Rinaldo, offering humor and depth in equal amounts, genuinely caring for his new friend, they watch out for one another, until tragedy and betrayal tear them apart. 

I thought Sting was pretty good as Dr. Frankenstein, he has the proper English coldness the character requires, the hubris you'd expect of a mad doctor, it's all there. The only real oddball element for me is Jennifer Beals as Eva, the proverbial bride of this piece. Sting is good in the role but the chemistry between them is off, it pales to that of Brown and Rappaport on-screen. You have Sting's mad doctor playing God, but he gets angry when his child rebels against him, there should be some alchemy there, but at times they feel worlds apart when they're in the same scene together. There's no denying that Beale has plenty of physical allure and charm, a surprising amount of it on display for a PG-13 film, she's a gorgeous lady, but she feels miscast as the bride. 

This is a film that I have not watched since I was a kid watching it on WPIX when I lived in New York, thirty years later there was a lot I'd forgotten about the film. For starters the underdeveloped psychic connection between Viktor and Eva, it's so undeveloped it's no wonder I'd forgotten about it, it's barely there. Then the film wraps up like the director's mom walked into the room and caught him wanking his rod, it just closes up shop and rolls credits way too fast, it's sort of stunning. I cannot say this is a high recommendation, but it's an interesting update of The Bride of Frankenstein, just nowhere near the same league as the original, but far from the worst Frankenstein adaptation I've ever seen, Clancy Brown and David Rappaport together make this worth a watch. 

Audio/Video: The Bride (1985) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a solid looking presentation, presented in 1080p HD 1.78:1 widescreen the image has a nice sheen of grain, blacks are deep and inky and skin tones look natural within the confines of the lighting of the film. The image is often bathed in  blue and purple lighting, the fine detail really comes through and shows off some of the period detail and decor, this is a great looking release. Audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA audio with optional English subtitles. Dialogue is always crisp and well defines, the score from composer Maurice Jame (Dreamscape) has some nice presence in the mix too. 

Onto the extras we get a some great new extras beginning with a commentary with Director Franc Roddam, plus we get a half-hour interview with him as well. The real good stuff though is a 2-part interview with Clancy Brown who plays the monster, he speaks about getting the role, the extensive make-up work, working with David Rappaport in addition to sting, detailing how the extensive time in the make-up chair detracted from some quality rehearsal time, leading to some stunted action-sequences and Sting injuring himself slightly on set. It's a great interview with Clancy going deep with his recollection of the film, including the character's motivations and his opinion on the film, this 40-min interview is worth the price of admission alone.

The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a 2-sided sleeve of artwork, the a-side is the original movie poster and the b-side features not a reversible artwork option but an image from the film.  The disc itself features an excerpt of the same key artwork.  

Special Features: 
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Franc Roddam
- NEW Interview With Director Franc Roddam (22 min) 
- NEW Interview With Actor Clancy Brown Pt. 1 (22 min) 
- NEW Interview With Actor Clancy Brown Pt. 2 (18 min) 
- TV Spot (1 min)

The Bride (1985) is an interesting variation of The Bride of Frankenstein, if you're down for something different but not necessarily classic this is a decent watch, aside from some poor chemistry and the dismally rushed conclusion. The Scream Factory Blu-ray looks and sounds absolutely fantastic, and the new extras are solid, if you're a fan of the film or just of Clancy Brown in general I'd say this is a must-buy for the A/V and extras. For all others it's probably not an essential purchase, but if you're curious it helps that this is a technically solid release. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-FREE

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 78 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono
Video: B/W 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Del Tenney
Cast: John Scott, Alice Lyon, Allan Laurel

Del Tenney's regional cult-classic The Horror of Party Beach (1964) was “The First Horror-Monster Musical”, a schlocky sixties stinker with one of the worst looking creatures creations to ever scar the silver screen, looking like a humanoid aquatic-chicken choking on a bag of dicks. It's real bad stuff from the first frame on through to the last, but it's also the sort of movie tailor made for a bad movie night group watch with way too much beer. If you love bad movies this is sure to be some of the tastiest/moldiest cinema fromage you've ever had, so dig into this bad movie fondu with two forks my vintage shit fest fans, The Horror of Party Beach is served!  

The movie is variation on that old 50's nugget - the toxic waste monster, it all begins with a very bad company dumping toxic waste off the Eastern Seaboard. The toxic sludge leaks from a barrelthat been dumped near an old shipwreck, coating the skeletons of a long-dead sailors, re-animating them as half-man/half-fish creatures that elicit more laughs from viewers than any sort of fear. The creatures make their way from the depths to land emerging to slaughter young people who have gathered near the beach for some sun, fun and sand, clawing their faces and leaving behind a string of bloody corpses that would have made the 'Godfather of Gore' Herschel Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast) proud, with loads of chocolate syrup blood dripping off of the shredded limbs of dead teenagers. 

We have a a pipe smoking scientist, a housekeeper who stumbles upon the way to kill the monsters (it's the same way you would kill a slug), there's a slumber party massacre, bad boy bikers, beach parties, surf-rock from The Del-Aires and a creepy underwater transformations that is actually sort of eerie. This spunky shocker's got a little bit of everything for fans of vintage schlock, none of it all that good but every last bit of it is entertaining in that special bad movie night sort of way that some of just cannot get enough of, it's not for everyone, but for some of us it's everything.  

Audio/Video: The Horror of Party Beach (1964) debuts on Blu-ray from Severin Films with a new 2K scan from the original camera negative, presented in 1080p HD and framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. The black and white image of the Blu-ray advances over the previous Dark Sky Films DVD looking brighter and cleaner, grain is visible (for better or worse), blacks are deeper and the gray scale is much improved. Dare I say crisp? No, I wouldn't say that at all, but it is definitely a step in the right direction, but it's still soft and overly dark in places, there's some fading and print damage evident throughout, but this is absolutely the best the film has looked on home video. Audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA Mono with optional English subtitles, the audio is fairly solid and reproduces dialogue and the surf party tunes of The Del-Aires and the roars of the aquatic mutant menace. 

Severin are kind enough to give us some new extras to accompany the film, we get a 16-min Return to Party Beach: A Retrospective Documentary on The Horror of Party Beach which is narrated by Tom Weaver and has an interview with the late directors wife Margot Hartman who speaks about the various challenges and adventures while making the film, while the narration gives a nice overview of Tenney's career. We also get a 4-min interview with The Del-Aires band members Bobby Osborne and Ronnie Linares, these guys look like aged surfer hippies and still rock out, performing their  song “Zombie Stomp” right there in the living room, very cool dudes. Director Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs) shows up to discuss rock n' roll in movies beginning with I Was a Teenage Werewolf and on through the beach party film of the 50's and beyond. Severin also carry-over the 9-min interview with director Del Tenney who speaks about his life, career and making his movies, there's also a trailer for the film. 

Special Features: 
- Return to Party Beach: A Retrospective Documentary on The Horror of Party Beach (16 min) 
- It's the Living End: An Encounter with The Del-Aires - Interview with band members Bobby Osborne and Ronnie Linares (4 min) 
- Shock & Roll: Filmmaker Tim Sullivan on Rock & Roll Horror Movie (8 min) 
- Archival interview with Director Del Tenney (9 min) 
- Trailer (2 min) 

The Horror of Party Beach (1964) is a bad-film classic, full of good surf music, bad schlock, a few decent thrills, and aquatic chicken creatures that look like they're choking on a bag of dicks - what's not to love? If you're a bad movie enthusiast now's the time to get enthused, Severin have come through with another slice of vintage crud with some quality extras and a damn decent A/V presentation. 

PORKY'S REVENGE (1985) (88 Films Blu-ray Review/Comparison)


Label: 88 Films
Rating: Cert. 15 
Region Code: B
Duration: 93 Minutes 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Audio: English DTS-HA MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: James Komack
Cast: Dan Monahan, Wyatt Knight, Tony Ganios, Mark Herrier, Kaki Hunter, Scott Colomby, Nancy Parsons, Chuck Mitchell

TOP: 88 Films Blu-ray 

BOTTOM: Kino Blu-ray

Synopsis: Long-demanded by fans of the franchise, and by followers of eighties sex comedies in general, PORKY'S REVENGE was released in1985 and marked the conclusion of the blockbuster teen-centred trilogy. In this hilarious and superior sequel the boys from Angel Beach High School are in their senior year, but when old enemy "Porky" steamrolls back into town with his illegal casino and brothel, the likeable - and every horny - lads find themselves tied-up in an unwelcome plan to compromise the upcoming basketball game! Adding to the headaches is an unwanted marriage, old acquaintances, bad dates and the usual hormonal overload (thanks to the presence of the frequently topless Playboy Playmate Kimberly Evenson) that one would expect from a PORKY'S movie.

TOP: 88 Films Blu-ray 
BOTTOM: Kino Blu-ray

Porky's Revenge (1985), the only film in the trilogy not directed by Bob Clark (Deathdream), is the third and final entry in the boner-riffic teen-sex trilogy, a series I enjoyed when I was way too young, like so many I would imagine. Thinking back on it the original film was probably the movie that inspired my earliest jerk-off session. it was either that or watching scrambled porn on cable TV, either way it was definitely in that youthful period of adolescent self-discovery. In their final horny adventure the boys from Angel Beach High School are finishing up their senior year, and looking a bit like early-thirties Pro Golf Shop employees, no disrespect to key players Pee Wee (Dan Monahan, Up The Creek), Billy (Mark Herrier), Tommy (Wyatt Knight), Meat (Tony Ganios, The Wanderers), Brian (Scott Colomby) and Wendy (Kaki Hunter) - but they all look like they should be teachers at Angel Beach, not students.  Which is not to say they don't still bring the chuckles and charms that made us love them the first and second go round, but it's no surprise that this was the last entry in the series.

TOP: 88 Films Blu-ray 
BOTTOM: Kino Blu-ray

Call me a nutter but I actually think this entry is just a tiny bit better than the Porky's II: The Next Day in that it features the return of the titular Porky (Chuck Mitchell, Better Off Dead), who after having his bar decimated by the boys has moved his gambling/brothel operations offshore onto a gambling river boat, one baring the familiar neon sign that promises some pig on pig fornication. The boys are also dealing with a few multi-faceted issues, such as dealing with the repercussions of getting caught watching a stag film at school by their arch-nemesis Ms. Balbricker (Nancy Parsons, Motel Hell), and Pee Wee has a hard-on for the Swedish exchange student Inga (Playboy Playmate Kimberly Evenson, The Big Bet). They're also trying to get their beloved basketball coach Mr. Goodenough (Bill Hindman) out of gambling debt with Porky, not helping is that beefy Meat bangs Porky's homely-but-horny daughter Blossom (Wendy Feign), which might lead to a shotgun wedding. On top of all that the basketball team has made it to the state championships but they might have to throw it to appease an angry Porky, and a pair adulterous teachers are trying to keep Meat from playing in the Big Game. It's just another wild series of vignettes that are sophomorically entertaining but don't add up to much and pale when stacked-up against the original film, which is still one of my favorite teen sex comedies.
TOP: 88 Films Blu-ray 
BOTTOM: Kino Blu-ray

Considering that the film was not written or directed by franchise creator Bob Clark the film manages to admirably ape the tone and feel of the previous films, but it does lack the boisterous raunch and humor that Clark brought to the first film, but it does at least brings back the key players, including Eric "Tallywacker" Christmas as Principle Carter, and titular Porky who was missing from the second film. 

TOP: 88 Films Blu-ray 
BOTTOM: Kino Blu-ray

Audio/Video: The series capper to this teen-sex threesome arrives on region B locked Blu-ray from 88 Films in 1080p HD framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. I have the Kino Lorber double-feature of Porky's II: The Next Day and Porky's Revenge so I was able to do a comparison (check out the screen caps throughout the review), and for those of you who were disappointed at the lack of a fresh new scan from Kino you won't be too thrilled by what you find here either. This seems to be the same dated master we;ve seen before, the image is soft, it's thick with unsightly grain lacks clarity and detail. I will say that the 88 Films Blu-ray does look less bright in places and the grain is marginally less intrusive in the darker scenes and skin tones look slightly warmer, but only a smidgen, the difference is negligible. 

The English DTS-HA MA 2.0 Stereo audio sounds alright for the most part with limited dynamic range, but the dialogue and soundtrack selections from George Harrison, Carl Perkins, The Crawling King, and Dave Edmunds sound good in the mix, optional English subtitles are provided. 

TOP: 88 Films Blu-ray 
BOTTOM: Kino Blu-ray

While the A/V unfortunately does not advance considerably over the US release from Kino Lorber but what 88 Films do offer are a pair of welcome new extras, the Kino release offered only a pair of  trailers for the films. We begin with an enjoyable conversation with film critic Kim Newman, who is always a pleasure to see on a set of extras, he discusses the blockbuster success of the teen-sex comedy, how it was inspired by the retro-teen success of American Graffiti, which also inspired the Lemon Popsicle films, which were remade for American audiences as The Last American Virgin. Newman also touches on Bob Clark's impressively varied filmography, and goes through a few other films from the brief teen-sex comedy cycle, pointing out that the stars of teen-sex comedies - with very few exceptions - did not go onto bigger careers as did some of their peers in slasher films. I am not used to hearing Newman discuss anything other than horror so this was a nice change of pace, seated on that same quilt-covered couch he seem to always be sitting in front of with a hodgepodge of books, music and movies behind him. 

We also get a new interview with co-star 
Wendy Feign who plays Porky's daughter, speaking about the audition for the role, shooting her nude scene and enjoying how the guy's had to get nude for the film, and working with the main cast who were all nice and down to earth. She also goes into some detail about a few of her scenes that were cut out of the film, and meeting her stunt double Luke Halpin, whom she had a crush on as a young girl when he starred in TV series Flipper. The last of the disc extras is a trailer for the film.

If you ordered directly from the 88 Films web site this release came with a limited edition collector’s booklet with writing on the film from Dr. Calum Waddell, plus and a slipcase with the original U.S. theatrical art and a reversible sleeve of artwork.  The disc itself featuring the logo with a pair of basketballs on a white background. 

Special Features:
- First Print Run Slipcase and Booklet
- High School Nights - Teens in the Eighties: An Interview with Film Critic Kim Newman (16 min) 
- Porky's Daughter: An Interview with Actress Wendy Feign (26 min) 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- Reversible Cover Artwork
- Limited Edition Booklet Notes by Calum Waddell

The more I watch Porky's Revenge (1985) the more I enjoy it, I didn't initially love it the first time I watched it as a teen, but the patina of this vintage teen-sex comedy has improved considerably with age, and I now rank it as the second best in the series. The 88 Films Blu-ray doesn't offer a huge leap in quality over the Kino Blu-ray but we do get some nifty new extras and keen artwork options, making this the most desirable version yet.