Friday, October 30, 2020



Label: Media Blasters
Rating: R
Duration: 96 Minutes
Region Code: 1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Robert Deubel
Cast: Julia Montgomery, James Carroll, Hal Holbrook, Suzanne Barnes, Rutanya Alda, David Halbrook

Synopsis: The day following the homecoming basketball game and victory party, an all-night scavenger hunt is held on the campus of a small Ohio college. Against the backdrop of campus shenanigans, the school mascot is murdered and his bear costume is utilized by a psychotic killer. Stalking
cheerleaders and killing them in creative ways, the killer's identity stays hidden by the playful costume. The campus security officer Mac (Hal Holbrook), whose daughter was a victim of a similar killer, vows to find out who's behind it all before more killings occur.

Girls Night Out (1982) also known as The Scaremaker opens creepily at the Weston Hill Sanitarium where inmate Dickie Kavanaugh has just hung himself. Afterward a pair of knuckleheaded gravediggers are digging his grave in the dark of the night when they are killed by someone with a shovel who then hides their bodies in the plot. Afterward a killer wearing a bear mascot costume with claws made of serrated knives stalks college teens during a campus wide scavenger hunt at nearby Dewitt College.

Turns out that Dicky Kavanaugh had been committed to Weston Hills twenty years earlier after having murdered the daughter of the chief of campus security named, a guy named Mac played by actor Hal Holbrook (Creepshow), and Halbrook is seriously slumming it in this c-grade slasher, surely only appearing in it to support his son who was cast in the movie as a tubby and frustrated student with a bad temper named David Prior. Prior's girlfriend Sheila (Lauren-Marie Taylor, Friday the 13th Part 2
dumps him at a school costume party after a victorious basketball game, leaving him for a nice guy named Benson who is the school mascot. Prior leaves the party in a bit of a rage shouting “You’re all whores!... I won’t forget this!"... what an asshole.

Not long after someone stabs poor Benson to death and makes off with his bear costume, goofily whispering "Sorry, but I need this more than you do". The killer then fashions a set of killer-claws from a set of serrated steak knives which he slips into the paw of the costume, which I think is a mighty cool killer costume for a slasher, the film had me right there and then. Afterward the killer still wearing the bear costume begins stalking and killing college-kids one by one during a campus wide scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt is hosted by the campus radio station, and we get with a disco-era looking DJ who wears a lot of shiny satin fashions who spins old time rock and roll tunes throughout the night. Throughout the night the DJ Chimes in offering a new clues as to the whereabouts of the the next item to be sought - which sends co-eds to all ends of campus in search of the coveted objects. However, the killer is also listening in and arrives at each of the locations to kill the first person to arrive, usually a young woman. After each kill the murderer calls into show to announce each kill cryptically, not unlike  what we saw in the holiday-slasher New Year's Evil (1980).

Eventually the DJ gets weirded-out by the creepy phone calls and calls the campus security guy Mac to let him know what's happening, and soon enough the killer calls Mac himself and says that he is Dickie Kavanaugh and that he has returned. The alarmed Mac calls the Weston Hill Sanitarium and checks in on Kavanaugh, but is informed that it cannot be Dickie because he died several days ago. In true detective fashion Mac is reading through an old stack of newspapers for clues, at one point doodling onto an image of someone from which draws his suspicion of who the killer might be. Noteworthy is that Holbrook appears to have only showed up on set for a day of filming and most of his scenes are not shared with anyone, his scenes edited to make it appear he is interacting with the other cast members, the finished effect is not exactly seamless though, but it works well enough.

When the killer strikes he usually hisses the words "bitch, slut, pay a price you whore", whoever the killer is it's clear that they are chock full o' 
pent-up anger towards women. The killer seems to prefer throat slashes with those cool serrated claws, but they aren’t opposed to a traditional torso stabbings from time to time either.

The amount of characters is this slasher is a bit of a head-spinner, in fact there's no final girl at all, which is sort of weird for an early 80s slasher movie. There are way too many faces to keep track of, but they're a fun assortment and are more likable than a lot of the usual 80s meat-bags we usually got, which I think helps set it apart from the usual other stalk and slash movies. We have a couple of stoned dorks who love to joke around, a pair somewhat homo-erotic jocks who hang around shirtless a bit too much for straight guys, and kinky girls looking to get laid which again is a bit of a deviation from the norm. Aside from the familiar face of Hal Holbrook the movie also stars Julia Montgomery who will forever be remembered as nerd-obsession Betty Childs from The Revenge of the Nerds (1984), as well as the 80s comedy Up the Creek (1984) and the horror under-seen 80s horror gem The Kindred (1987)

The movie has a surprisingly cool soundtrack stuffed with classic rock The Lovin' Spoonful and the 1910 Fruitgum Co., I can only assume that the producer’s must have had some sweet connections in the music industry to score these tunes  - and this could perhaps be a reason the movie has not arrived on Blu-ray yet, sometimes those music rights are the hardest part of a movie to clear.

The movie struggles a bit with a weird tonal duality, at times it has a fun Porky’s teen sex-comedy vibe with loads of horny teen shenanigans but it also has a weird incongruent dark side which borders on sleazy and sorta cheesy at the same time, it's schizoid flick. It doesn't feel like the director has a good idea of what sort of movie he wanted to make at the time, his name was Robert Deubel and he only directed a handful of documentary movies, none of which I've seen. As for the kills they are kind of brutal but not very all that gory, there's plenty of blood but they're obscured by the furry paws of the killer bear costume. The movie also suffers a bit because there's a definite lack of tension and  suspense, but as a lover of goofy 80s slasher schlock I think this is still a blast.

The movie comes to a weird close when the killer abducts the side chick of one of the jocks who runs after her, tracking the killer to the cafeteria kitchen at the campus student union where all is revealed in a jarring and off-beat finale that stands apart from the rest of the movie with a bizarre shocker of an identity crisis infused finale. I found this to be a ton of fun even if it zips up a bit too fast for my tastes. This is definitely a movie full of what the WTF-ery and some goofy 80s awesomeness, but it is not a great slasher movie, just a weird one with a notable killer that stands apart from the rest of the pack.

Audio/Video: The DVD is on the Media Blasters imprint Guilty Pleasures. The film is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 mono audio. Special features include a brief interview with actress Julia Montgomery (who seems a bit horrified to be talking about her involvement in the film), a trailer, and an alternate title sequence featuring the unfortunate original title – The Scaremaker. The print is pretty decent for an obscure early 80’s slasher, a few minor blemishes/fading, but overall good print. The audio is rather unimpressive, but sufficient. Girls Nite Out is also available as part of the Shriek Show Bloody School Girls 3Pack.

Special Features:
- Interview with Actress Julia Mongomery
- Original Trailer

This damn movie is long overdue for a HD upgrade, I would love to see a distributor like Arrow Video, Vinegar Syndrome or Scream Factory pick this up and give it an upgrade with some cool extras, if just to see some new artwork with the killer-bear on the cover. The way I see it is that if schlock like Evils of the Night (1985), Blood Rage (1987), The Mutilator (1984), and Doom Asylum (1988) are Blu-ray worthy then I can only assume this won't get be too far on down the road, please someone make this happen! 

RETRO-REVIEW: STAGEFRIGHT (1987) (Blue Underground Blu-ray Review)


Label: Blue Underground
Region Code: Region-Free
Duration: 90 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD, 2.0 DTS-HD with Optional
English, French, Spanish Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Michele Soavi
Cast: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Ulrike Schwerk, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Mary Sellers

A group of theater actors under the direction of opportunistic director (David Brandon, Delirium) are rehearsing for a new musical set to open is just a few days. The musical is The Night Owl and involves a serial killer that is raped by his victims. During rehearsals star Alicia (Barbara Cupisti, The New York Ripper) injures her ankle and sneaks off to the nearest medical facility for treatment - which just happens to be a sanitarium for the criminally insane. One of the inmates there is a former actor turned serial killer named Irving Wallace who has murdered over a dozen people. Unfortunately for Alicia and her co star Betty (Ulrike Schwerk) the notorious killer escapes the asylum and hitches a ride with the ladies back to the theater with them being none the wiser. Later that night the bloodthirsty killer dispatches Betty with a pick-ax to the face and her body is then discovered by Alicia.

The cops are called in and they haul away the body and piece together that the killer must be the escaped Irving Wallace, who they say murdered an orderly at the asylum by stabbing him in the neck with a syringe. The authorities position a patrol car outside of the theater as a precaution and the theater troupe lock themselves in the theater to continue rehearsals. Inside the opportunistic director rewrite the musical to capitalize on the gruesome murder by making the notorious Irving Wallace the villain of the play - unaware that the murderous actor is inside the theater and is as bloodthirsty as ever.

That's the set-up for what is a pretty great late-era slasher and one of the better made Italian films from this period, let alone from first-time director. Michele Soavi who honed his chops as not only an actor in such films as City of the Living Dead and Alien 2 On Earth but as the first-assistant director working for cinema titans like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Terry Gilliam. The man has style and it shows with his first feature film which is an assured, a stylish and violent piece of Eurocult cinema, the director would follow it up with The Church (1989), The Sect (1991), and the phenomenal Cemetery Man (1994), before settling into a longtime career as a made-for-TV and TV mini-series director in Italy, where he is still plugging away on TV.

The theater troupe provide a fun cast of bitchy characters beginning with a pompous theater director (Brandon) and a sleazy producer Ferrari (Piero Vida, Deep Red) and then there's the cast highlighted by Giovanni Lombardo Radice of Cannibal Ferox as a gay actor who trades catty barbs with theater diva Laurel (Mary Sellers, Ghosthouse) - these two are a fun pair. Much of the other cast are forgettable more or less but they all have memorable deaths so who really cares.

So we have a ton of awesome visual flourished but did I mention the kicker - the killer Irving Wallace wears an owl-headed mask! This is the most outrageous masked killer since the bladed-bear mascot from the slasher Girls Nite Out! It helps that our killer has access to a wide range of weapons and uses them to their fullest potential, beginning with knifing an actress to death n front of the entire cast - the outfit he's wearing is one of the signature costumes of the musical and no one realizes the deranged actors intentions until the blood starts to flow. So far we've had a syringe to the neck, the pick-ax to the face and now a knife plunged into a a poor starlet' guts and they only get more violent throughout as the killer makes use of a power drill, a hatchet and a chainsaw - some seriously grisly stuff.

Now the script is a bit of a let down but these Italian horrors were never reality based in my opinion and were quite fantastical. Logic more or less takes a backseat to blood-spattered visuals and gruesome dismemberment and I am alright with that trade-off - the gore gags are tasty and completely make-up for that laughable shocker-finale.

Stylistically it's a gorgeous film with some great stylized colored-lighting, with scenes bathed in electric blue light and other vibrant colors. A particular scene of the killer standing on the stage with his victims displayed around him stands out as something quite special, almost hallucinatory as he sits upon a throne admiring the carnage while he strokes a cat named Lucifer as bird feathers float in the air around him, it's surreal stuff. Adding to the atmosphere of the film is an effective electronic score from composer Simon Boswell who also scored the stuff like Demons, Dust Devil and Phenomena just to name a few.

Audio/Video: Stage Fright arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground in stunning fashion and framed in the original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio in 1080p HD with a fine looking grain structure. The restoration is top notch - the print is damn near flawless to my eyes. Colors are vibrant and the level of clarity is quite pleasing. Black levels and shadow detail are strong and there's a fair amount of fine detail in the close-ups, this is quite a step-up from the already quite nice standard-def DVD.

Audio option include DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo or 5.1 Surround Mix with optional English, French and Spanish
Subtitles. Not overly dynamic but clean and balanced with no distortion, the score sounds great and the surround mix adds to the atmosphere with some nice use of the surrounds.

Already a home run with sweet PQ and audio Blue Underground have stocked this disc with some great new extras beginning with a 19-minute interview with the director who discusses his early career and producer Joe D'Amato offering him his first feature film which was written by George Eastman (Anthropophagus) going onto describe with some depth what it was to be a first-time director and the film's poor reception at the cinema.

The 12-minute interview with star David Brandon begins by revealing he first met Soavi on the set of Caligula 2: The Untold Story where his character cut out Soavi's tongue. As a theater writer/.director he was intrigued by the role of the theater director in the film and was impressed by the director's passion. He speaks of insisting that the director himself handle the very real chainsaw during his death scene and finishes up with a anecdote about Joe D'Amato.

Star Giovanni Lombardo Radice (The House on the Edge of the Park) begins by revealing he stole two roles from Soavi before being cast in the director's first film. Apparently he helped doctor the script a bit and was quite good friends the Soavi at the time, admitting he had some difficulty working with a few of the non-professional on the set.

Composer Simon Boswell speaks about his band Live Wire and a fateful meeting with Dario Argento around the time of Phenomena that launched his film scoring career leading to gigs on that film and Lamberto Bava's Demons films. He speaks about the director's peculiar way of editing his scores at times and his own style and experimenting with synths and sound. He ends with a weird tale of making two albums with two separate Popes and his new band the Undead who he brought together to perform his scores live.

Extras are finished up with an 11-minute interview with make-up effects artist Pietro Tenoglio, the original theatrical trailer and an image gallery with 75 pics of stills, poster are of the various titles (Aquarius, Delirium, Stagefright) and some cool VHS/DVD artwork from around the globe.

Special Features:
- Theatre Of Delirium - Interview with Director Michele Soavi (19 min)
- Head Of The Company - Interview with Star David Brandon (12 min)
- Blood On The Stage Floor - Interview with Star Giovanni Lombardo Radice
- The Sound Of Aquarius - Interview with Composer Simon Boswell (18 min)
- The Owl Murders - Interview with Make-Up Effects Artist Pietro Tenoglio (11 min)
- Theatrical Trailer ( 2 min)
- Poster and Still Gallery (74 images)

Stagefright is a fun slasher film with more than a few stylistic nods to Dario Argento, and I dig the enclosed space and the bird-brained killer are inspired choices, plus the thing is peppered some wonderfully gruesome kills - there's just a lot to enjoy here, a big-time recommend.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

PATRICK STILL LIVES (1980) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 93 Minutes 
Audio: Italian DTS-HD MA mono with English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Mario Landi 
Cast: Sacha Pitoëff, Gianni Dei, Mariangela Giordano 

Patrick Still Lives (1980) comes from the combined Italian born minds of producer of Burial Ground, the screenwriter of Nightmare City and the director of Giallo In Venice... need I say more? Following the success of ozploitation coma-shocker Patrick (1978) this trio of lucre-minded exploitation filmmakers decided to make an unsolicited and super-unofficial sequel to that film, taking the general premise and arguably improving upon it with generous amounts of sleaze and gore. It all begins with the uni-browed Dr. Herschel (Sacha Pitoëff, Inferno) and his son Patrick (Gianni Dei, Giallo In Venice) stranded on the side of the road while standing next to their broke down car.  As they are joking around a short passenger bus drives by and one of the passengers tosses a beer bottle out of the window, striking Patrick so hard in the face and with such force that in not only seemingly requires reconstructive surgery but knocks him straight into an irreversible coma. 

A few years later Patrick is being kept in a private green-lit ward at his father's health spa, a luxurious place with an in-ground pool and sprawling grass-covered grounds. On this day Dr. Herschel is welcoming five very special guests for a weekend stay. Among them we have lothario David  (Paolo Giusti, Girls Will Be Girls), stuffy politician Lyndon (Franco Silva, Spasmo) and his hot-stuff wife Cheryl (Carmen Russo, The Porno Killers), a machismo-oozing mustached-man named Peter (John Benedy, Kill Django... Kill First) and his sex-hungry wife Stella (Maria Angela Giordano, The Sect), all of whom seem rather seedy and shady right from the start. 

We discover that Dr. Herschel is a tiny bit demented and has been wanting revenge on the person or persons who threw that bottle at his son Patrick on that fateful day. He's been playing the long-game with his vengeance plans, having spent years tracking down the occupants of that particular bus on that particular day, and after finding them he has invited them all for a complimentary stay at his health spa. However, it is not he who will taking the revenge, no sir, it seems that over the past few years Patrick, with his father's assistance, has been able to hone newfound telekinetic 
powers while in the wide-eyed coma. These telekinetic powers are seemingly fueled by siphoning off the mental power of three other comatose patients that his father keeps with him. This part is never quite explained but I inferred that this is what must be happening, otherwise why would his father keep three comatose patients there with him in a private spa, not that any of this needs to make sense to enjoy it, but it made me wonder. 

The whole idea of five strangers being summoned to a luxury spa and then being killed off one by one has a very Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None vibe about it, and that's very much how it plays out, with scandalous secrets are revealed, one of the men getting slap-happy with the women, and some girl-on-girl cat-fighting on the dining-room floor. Being that this is an Italian exploitation flick the film is stuffed with loads of gratuitous nudity and some nicely graphic deaths, with Patrick handing out his mental-revenge in a myriad of gruesome ways. 

We also get a b-story involving Dr. Herschel's sexpot secretary Lydia (Andrea Belfiore, Blow Job) who overtime has caught the attention of the comatose Patrick, it seems that not even a coma can prohibit him from noticing what a hottie she is. Patrick has the ability to control and influence Lydia against her will, forcing her to  perform nude stripteases for him, which is as much for our pleasure as it is his. 

Deaths in the film come by way of being boiled alive in a swimming pool, a decapitation by car power window, a pair of frenzied German Shephard's eating a woman alive, a meat-hook through the neck, and of course the most infamous death of the film, that of a woman being skewered by a telekinetically animated fire poker, entering her through her vagina straight  up through her mouth, and this is the uncut graphic version of the film, so you see it all! This distasteful kill is a real stomach-churner, it being painfully drawn out with the woman shrieking like the wooden splinter in the eye of Fulci's Zombie and as graphic as the skewering from Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, only on budget that is clearly a fraction of either of those flicks. 

The atrocious dialogue is in Italian which I do not speak, so I was relying on the subtitles for this one, and from what I could tell the acting across the board is utter shite, from the overwrought screams of anguish at the start of the film when Patrick takes a bottle to the face to the way pretty much everyone stares blankly at Patrick's floating disembodied eyes that show up when he flexes his mental-muscle, it's all bad, but for us lovers of stinky cinema-fromage it also so-so good. Fear not though, this is not the sort of fright flick that needs thespian acting chops to sell it, all we need are warm, preferably nude, bodies marching towards gruesome death, and we get plenty of all of that. 

The special effects are of the low-budget variety but still fun for lovers of  cheap practical gore. Those aforementioned floating eyeballs are as silly as they sound, and when they show up the whole screen turns green-tinted, replicating the green lighting of the ward where Patrick is kept. As for the actual gore we get a cool torso that's been boiled with the skin blistered and falling off, and a cool-looking severed head, and there's plenty of fake blood to accompany the vaginal skewering and the meat-hook to the neck. The gore is the highlight of the film, the story not so much, but thankfully we get enough nudity and gore to keep our eyes busy our brains turned off. 

Patrick Still Lives (1980) is a silly bit of Italian schlock cinema that goes well above and far beyond the Italian tradition of knocking-off a successful movie and making a sequel to it, which was not all that unusual for this era of Italian cinema, but they way they go at it with so much gusto makes for an entertaining watch. 

Audio/Video: Patrick Still Lives (180) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Severin Films sourced from a new 2K scan of the 16mm OCN. It's a solid upgrade over the nearly 20-year old Media Blasters DVD, presented in 1080p HD and framed in 1.66:1 widescreen. The image is grainy which is not surprising given that the source element is 16mm, but it's uniform and well-managed throughout if a bit chunky. There some noticeable damage to the elements throughout in addition to some fading and flicker, but this is still a solid upgrade and went beyond what I was expecting.  Audio comes by way of Italian DTS-HD MA mono with optional English subtitles, t is unremarkable but does the job, dialogue is presented free of hiss and distortion, and the score from Berto Pisano (Strip Nude for Your Killer) alternates between sickening synths and prog rock that approximates a Goblin score sounded good.  

Extras are a bit thin for this one, we get the theatrical trailer plus an 11-minute interview with comatose star Gianni Dei, the actor getting into the entirety of his career, starting off because he was a good dancer, in films like La Cuccagni, Giallo In Venice, Le Sepicenni, Manhattan Gigolo, C'E' Una Certi Giuliana, Last Round and Madame Bovary with Edwidge Fenech (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh). He says he does remember much about Patrick Still Lives aside the floating eyeballs and working with legendary French actor Sacha Pitoëff who played his father. He says he made three films with director Mario Landi , and says he once missed out on the opportunity to feature in a Sidney Lumet film because he didn;t like where his name was to be featured on the movie poster. He wraps up describing how he left the business after he found out their were hardcore inserts added to a flick he had made, which made it look like he was doing hardcore, and how he came back into the film business years later to play a killer fashion designer in Il Grande Gioco, which is yet to be released, and his late music career. It's a solid interview that covers a lot of ground, though not a lot of it has anything to do with this film, which is unfortunate, but he at least makes the Patrick-eyes during the credits of the featurette! 

The single-disc release comes housed in a black keepcase with a reversible wrap featuring alternate artworks, looking to be the original theatrical poster and a home video release artwork, the disc itself featuring an excerpt of Patrick's eyes from the movie poster. 

Reversible Artwork Option

Special Features:
- C'est la Vie – Interview with Actor Gianni Dei (11 min) 
- Trailer (3 min) 
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork 

Patrick Still Lives (1980) gets a solid HD upgrade from Severin Films who seem to have a nose for this sort of entertaining Italian trash cinema, like a cinema-loving pig digging through shit to get to the trashy truffle beneath. The original Patrick is a fun enough flick, tastefully directed by Richard Franklin (Psycho II, Road Games), but it lacked nudity and gore and this unofficial sequels comes through with plenty of both, highly recommended for fans of Italian cinema cheese and gore. 

More Screenshots from the Severin Blu-ray: