Friday, January 13, 2017

WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967) (Blu-ray Review)

WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967)

Label: Warner Archive
Region Code: PG
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 108 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Terence Young
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Jack Weston, Samantha Jones, Julie Herrod

Blind woman Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffany's) lives in a tiny basement apartment in New York City with her photographer husband Sam (Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Beyond Witch Mountain), whom at the start of the movie has just left on a business trip out of town. What neither can know or suspects is that a doll recently given to Sam at the airport by an attractive young woman named Lisa (Samantha Jones, The Way We Live Now)is loaded with heroin, and the sinister hood Harry Roat, Jr. (Alan Arkin, Argo) wants it in the worst sort of way. 


To that end Roat enlists, through nefarious blackmail, natch, a pair of small time crooks, we have nice guy Mike Talman (Richard Crenna, First Blood), and the chubby Carlino (Jack Weston, Short Circuit 2), who aid Mr. Roat in running a con on the seemingly vulnerable blind woman in hopes of obtaining the doll without resorting to violence, though Roat seems perfectly fine with the prospect of murder, just ask the recently deceased drug mule Lisa about that. The con involves them men portraying a military friend of Susy's husband from the past, a cop, and casting aspersion on the marital fidelity of her husband. 


The film is an adaptation of a stage play by Frederick Knott (Dial "M" For Murder), and it does feel like it, too, the scope is close-quarters and claustrophobic, with most of the film taking place in the tiny basement flat, with our trio of hoods trying to run their con on the blind woman, which seems unfair and awful, but it turns out that Susy, as played by Hepburn, proves to be more resourceful and intuitive that anticipated. As the con unfolds she begins to notice small things that cast aspersion on the scenario as performed by the trio of men, possible giveaways like the fact that one of the men seems to be dusting the her furnishings, characters presented as two separate men seem to be wearing the same squeaky shoes, and they keep opening and closing her blinds for some reason. Aside from her heightened senses and wit she also has a secret weapon, a young girl named Gloria (Julie Herrod) who lives upstairs and frequents her apartment to assist Susy from time to time, but the girl turns out to be quite a brat, prone to lashing out at Susy from time to time, knocking over stuff onto the floor in a fit of anger, and borrowing things without permission. 


As stated, the movie is a bit stagey, confined to mostly this one space, and the cinematography isn't the most inspired, this is not David Fincher's Panic Room (2002) with loads of elaborate camera movement, but the movie is well-directed by Terence Young (From Russia with Love), but you have to wonder what a master of suspense and technical know-how like Alfred Hitchcock would have brought to it. The suspense is perhaps a bit slow to build for a modern young audience, which I am not, I have always loved this movie. The suspense builds as the con gets deeper, and as Susy becomes more aware of certain irregularities and violence seems forthcoming, the tension builds, and the final eight-minutes are nail-bitingly good, with an iconic jump scare that is probably why this one is so fondly remembered, and not without excellent reason. 


Audrey Hepburn is just wonderful as the blind woman, she's not helpless, not too naive, and she's not a superhuman heroine either, but she is a clever woman in a bad situation. Both Weston and Crenna as the con men are crooked but don't come of as too menacing, Alan Arkin is a true menace, a super weird cat in a black leather jacket and dark shades, so deeply sinister in a role where he becomes three different persons, he makes it a memorable turn as a twisted baddie. 


This movie is a suspense classic with a good reason, the performances are top-notch and the close-quarters tension slowly steeps, building to almost unbearable levels, and they just don't make them like this anymore, but you can see it's influence on modern thriller movies like this years Don't Breathe (2016) and Hush (2016).   


Audio/Video: Wait Until Dark (1967) arrives on Blu-ray from the the Warner Archive looking very nice, a step-up in crispness and clarity from the 2003 DVD, the grain is nicely managed and the textures and details are improved all the way around - this presentation is a real treat for fans of this classic suspense-thriller. Audio is handled nicely with an English DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0 track that renders the dialogue and the cool Henry Mancini score with good fidelity and without issue, optional English subtitles are included. The Blu-ray box erroneously lists the aspect ratio as scope 2.35:1, but the true aspect ratio is 1.85:1.  


Extras on the disc are a bit slim, we have the interview with actor Alan Arkin and producer Mel Ferrer  which is ported over from the previous release alongside the original theatrical trailer and a cool teaser trailer stating that during the final eight-minutes the theater will be darkened to the legal limit! Unfortunately we don't get a new commentary or extras, the Warner Archive are not known for creating new supplemental material for their releases but this is certainly a suspense classic deserving of a new examination.  


Special Features: 
- Featurette: Take a Look in the Dark-Alan Arkin and Producer Mel Ferrer Reminisce About the Making of the Film (9 min) SD 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 
- "Warning" Teaser Trailer (1 min) SD 

Wait Until Dark (1967) arrives on Blu-ray with a fine A/V presentation from the Warner Archive, who are doing some good work down there in the basement at Warners getting these classics into the hands of fans. I wish we had some new extras for this one but it's hard to be too disappointed when we have a classic suspense-thriller like this one on Blu-ray which looks and sounds top-notch. 4/5


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New images from IFC Midnight's THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA released

THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA

THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA will be available in select theaters, on VOD, and via digital platforms on January 20th.

On a June night in 1912, eight people—a mother, father, their four children, and two guestswere murdered by an axe-wielding killer in the sleepy town of  Villisca, Iowa, a case that remains  unsolved to this day. 104 years later, Caleb (Robert Adamson) and Denny  (Jarrett Sleeper), two friends who share an interest in ghost hunting,  along with Jess (Alex Frnka), the new girl in school who’s already got a  reputation, sneak into the house where the  infamous bloodbath occurred in hopes of recording paranormal activity.  What the trio encounters is far more horrifying than anything they could  have imagined. A century after the shocking crime that put Villisca on  the map, a supernatural force is waiting  to write the next chapter in the home’s bloody history.









Severin Films Debuts Animals on PCP Eco-Horror WILD BEASTS On Blu-ray on February 7th

WILD BEASTS (1984) 

Packed Special Edition of Mondo master Franco E. Prosperi's masterpiece of exploitation


In an attempt to satisfy the insatiable appetites of jaded genre fans, Severin Films is opening the cages and releasing Franco Prosperi’s THE WILD BEASTS into the streets! Viewers will have their minds blown and their throats ripped out by this totally unhinged masterpiece from the co-creator of MONDO CANE and GOODBYE UNCLE TOM. Fully remastered for the first time ever in America, this is the Italian shocker that Third Eye Cinema calls “Very possibly the most entertaining eco-horror film of them all.”


WILD BEASTS TRAILER! 

For his final work, Godfather Of Mondo Franco E. Prosperi took on the ‘Nature Strikes Back’ genre and delivered perhaps the most shocking movie of his controversial career: When PCP gets into the water supply of a city zoo, the drug-crazed beasts – including tigers, lions, cheetahs, hyenas and elephants, as well as seeing eye dogs and sewer rats – go berserk and rampage through the streets of Rome. What follows is a terrifying mix of actual animal attacks (supervised by professional circus trainers) and over-the-top ‘80s Italian gore that remains the greatest eco-revenge shocker in EuroCult history. Lorraine De Selle (CANNIBAL FEROX, HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF THE PARK) and Ugo Bologna (NIGHTMARE CITY) star in this disturbing urban bloodbath, now digitally remastered for the first time ever and bursting with all-new Special Features including a look into the Wild world of legendary shock-u-mentarians Franco E. Prosperi and Mario Morra, as well as a peek at the Italian circus dynasty which coordinated the mind blowing animal stunts on the film and more!!







Special Features:

- Altered Beasts: Interview With Director Franco E. Prosperi
- Wild Tony: Interview With Actor Tony Di Leo
- Cut After Cut: Interview With Editor and Mondo Filmmaker Mario Morra
- The Circus is in Town: Interview With Animal Wrangler Roberto Tiberti's son, Carlo Tiberti
- House Of Wild Beasts: A Visit to the Home of Franco E. Prosperi
- International Trailer


DEADTIME STORIES (1986) DVD/BLU-RAY™ COMBO PACK ARRIVING FEBRUARY 28th FROM SCREAM FACTORY

New transfer from the negative and new extras including commentary, deleted scenes and interview with the cast for this '86 horror anthology on DVD/BD from Scream Factory 2/28! 

DEADTIME STORIES (1986) 
NEW DVD + BLU-RAY™ COMBO PACK
ARRIVING FEBRUARY 28th

NO ONE LIVES HAPPILY EVER AFTER….

Your favorite nightmares come to life in a salute to the age-old bedtime story ritual when Deadtime Stories arrives on Blu-ray + DVD, and digital formats, from Scream Factory™ on February 28, 2017. The set is loaded with bonus features, including a new interview and new audio commentary with co-writer/director Jef Delman, and new interviews with actors Cathryn de Prume, Melissa Leo and Scott Valentine.

Synopsis: Travel on a mysterious journey to a medieval world populated by blood-crazed witches, evil experiments and captive maidens. Then from the catacombs and dark caverns of medieval Europe, you’ll plunge into modern suburbia and the adventures of a female jogger stalked by a savage werewolf. Finally, sensuality will become macabre, black comedy as you follow the trail of three bank robbers who share their country house hideaway with a sweet murderess.

Special features:

- New Hi-Def Transfer From the Original Negative
- NEW Audio Commentary with co-writer/director Jef Delman
- NEW I Like the Grotesque – an interview with co-writer/director Jef Delman
- NEW interviews with actors Cathryn de Prume, Melissa Leo and Scott Valentine
- The Black Forest – an alternate cut of the first story
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailers
- Still Gallery

Thursday, January 5, 2017

FAIRY TALES (1978) (Blu-ray Review)

FAIRY TALES (1978) 

Label: Full Moon Entertainment

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 82 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. Surround 5.1 
Director: Harry Hurwitz
Cast:  Quigley, Don Sparks, Sy Richardson, Brenda Fogarty, and Martha Reeve

Synopsis: Kinky classic Fairy Tales (1978), starring "Scream Queen" Linnea Quigley in her first feature role, sees fairy tale characters Little Bo Peep, Old King Cole, Little Tommy Tucker, Snow White, and many others all grown up - embarking in dance, lust, and romance in a land where everything is possible and clothing is optional!


It is good to see Full Moon digging into the vault to unearth this lusty fairy tale sex-comedy from the 70's, a delightful softcore romp full of 70s campiness, nudity and a load of surprisingly fun musical numbers, because yes sir, this is a softcore fairy tale musical! 


We open with the Prince (Don Sparks, TV's L.A. Law)who awakens on his 21st birthday and is told he must prove to his father the King that he can sire an heir to the throne or risk losing his future Kingdom. To that end the King sends a trio of docs; Dr. Eyes (Irwin Corey, Car Wash), Dr. Ears (Robert Harris) and Dr. Moustache (Simmy Bow, Alligator) to the Prince's bed first thing in the morning, they've brought along a gorgeous blond (Idy Tripodi) who mounts the young Prince in his bed but the Prince's limp-dick cannot rise to the occasion. To my eyes the Prince seems not to favor women but he says that his true love is that of a blond woman as seen in portrait hanging on his bedroom wall, sure, but it is said that the Princess in the portrait disappeared years ago and has not been seen since.

The Prince is sent off by himself to the Land Of The Fairies to find a cure for his limp prick, his first sexy encounter is with the buxom Little Bo Peep (Angela Aames, Chopping Mall), a cutie in a yellow and white bonnet and a dress that leaves little to the imagination, and even that melts off her pretty damn quickly, but still the Prince's prick fails to rise to the occasion, again. Peep advises the Prince to seek The Little Old Lady Who Lives in a Shoe, Madame Gussy (Brenda Fogarty, Trip with the Teacher). Of course the shoe is a whore house run by Gussy, with a wise-cracking doorman played by Roberts Staats, and this wise-cracking guy steals the show. The Shoe is also visited by the smooth pimp Sirius (Sy Richardson, Repo Man), who also steals every scene, these guys are comedy gold.

While traveling through the kingdom on his way to the Shoe the Prince encounters Jack (Jeff Doucette, TV's Alien Nation) and Jill (Lindsay Freeman, Boardinghouse), the latter of whom of course tries to get in his pants without success. Arriving at the Shoe the Prince discovers that each themed room in the shoe is home to a different fairy tale story, we have a kinky Snowhite (Anne Gaybis, Bachelor Party), and her horny seven dwarfs, with my favorite musical number of the show, fun and raunchy! Of course there's also an Evil Queen and her sexy mirror image, a trio of dominatrix including Evelyn Guerrero, Toolbox Murders) who perform a song along the lines of WWII swing jazz classic boogie woogie bugle boy, which was all sorts of awesome, but it also fails to get the Prince's royal dick hard. 

Martha Reeve's of Martha And The Vandellas fame shows up for a fine disco-soul number as a voodoo priestess in a bubbling cauldron, and according to Band's commentary the soul singer didn't even realize she was performing in a softcore sex-comedy until she brought her Church group to see the movie - if that's true that is amazing! Aso notable is the appearance of a sex-loving Old King Cole (Bob Leslie, The Florida Connection) who receives a rather pleasant and oiled up erotic belly-dance from the exotic dancer Nai Bonet (Nocturna). The Prince has no luck fixing his wang-thang until he becomes privy to a secret room on the upper floor of the shoe which may or may not contain Sleeping Beauty (Linnea Quigley, Return of the Living Dead) in her first role and looking so fresh-faced and cute.

The movie is so silly and fun, loaded with hairy-bushed nudity, and eyefuls of softcore orgies, and raunchy musical numbers that are surprisingly catchy, this thing never wears out its welcome, not even for a minute. Sparks is decent in the role of the naive Prince but the movie is stolen in my opinion by motor-mouthed doorman played Roberts Staats, he seemed so familiar to be, a wonderful combination of used car salesman and 42nd street carnival barker, telling Bo Peep he cannot see the future but can tell by her bruises what she did last night, loved this guy.

Fairy Tales (1978) was low-budget and strapped for cash which probably necessitated the cheesy sets and costuming, but that's all part of the charm of it, I like the shoe house/brothel they constructed, it sort of looked like it belonged at a miniature golf place, you know, cheap.  Though it was low-rent the cast are a fun bunch and the musical numbers are excellent, there's a lot to love about this raunchy sex-comedy cum musical.

Audio/Video: Fairy Tales (1978) arrives on Blu-ray from Full Moon restored from its original 35mm negative, framed in the original widescreen scope (2.35:1) aspect ratio, and it look quite good overall, very natural and not artificially sharpened. There's a fair amount of grain present and some minor print damage is visible from time to time but overall this is a good looking release. 

Par for the course for Full Moon there is no lossless audio option on the disc, we have instead choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 Surround. Dialogue, musical numbers and effects sound fine,though, everything is clear and well-mixed. There are no subtitle options on the disc. 


The only substantial extras on the disc is an audio commentary by writer Frank Perilli and Charles Band who kind of do it by the seat of their pants without having done much research before their viewing, which is still informative and entertaining but not the most scholarly of tracks. The disc also includes a handful of trailer for other Full Moon movies. It should also be noted that this is apparently the first time the "director's cut" of the film has been released on home video, running about five minutes longer in length than the previous DVD version. From what I've been able to gather this is mostly extended softcore orgy sex scenes, as this was a first time for I am not exactly sure. 


Special Features:

- Audio Commentary by Writer Frank Perilli and Producer Charles Band 
- Full Moon Trailers: Trancers 2( 2 min), Vampire Journals (2 mins), Puppet Master 2 (2 min), Puppet Master 3 (2 min), Subspecies 2 (2 min), Specters (2 min)


Fairy Tales (1978) is a fun watch, a 70's sex comedy loaded with nude woman and fun raunchy musical numbers, what's not to love? 3/5 

HEAD OF THE FAMILY (1996) (Blu-ray Review)

HEAD OF THE FAMILY (1996) 

Label: Full Moon Entertainment

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: R
Duration: 82 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 
Director: Charles Band
Cast: Blake Adams, Jacqueline Lovell, J.W. Perra, Bob Schott, Alexandria Quinn 

In this weird 90s entry from Full Moon we have a local diner operator named Lance (Blake Adams, The Killer Eye) who is having an affair with a married woman, a scrumdiddlyumptious slice of white trash hotness named Loretta (Jacqueline Lovell, Lolita 2000). The problem is that Loretta is married to a long-haired biker thug named Howard (Gordon Jennison Noice, Virtuosity), a brute of guy who is trying to muscle in on Lance's business as a silent partner-type. Howard is scary but not too bright, and the two lovers manage to carry on with the affair right under his nose, and he seems none the wiser, early on they hook up in the employee bathroom at the diner while Lance finishes his meal. 

On their way home from one of their nightly sex-flings Lance and Loretta observe something strange on the road home, discovering that the local weirdos the Stackpoole's are abducting people right off the highway and experimenting on them for nefarious purposes. Lance uses this tidbit of info to blackmail the Stackpoole's into making Howard disappear on his behalf, in addition to extorting them for $2000 a week, but as you might expect crossing the Stackpoole's is just a bad idea. 

You see, the Stackpoole's are a family of quintuplets, the family is headed up by Myron (J.W. Perra, Mystery Monsters) who has a tiny wheelchair ridden body with an enormously deformed head, he's the brains of the family, of course. He has the ability to mind-control his other siblings who are a bit on the tiny-brain side. We have the wide-eyed Wheeler (James Jones, The Dark Mist) with eagle-sharp vision and an enhanced sense of smell and hearing, the brainless strongman Otis (Bob Shott, Vamp), and sister Ernestina (one-time underage porn star Alexandria Quinn, Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster)is just a sexy vixen. Through them Myron is able to perform his oddball experiments in his basement dungeon, where he hopes to transplant his evil-genius brain into a normal sized person's body, he also puts on stage shows for his own amusement from time to time. 

Head of the Family is a fun watch, if you love the weirdness and silly humor of Full Moon stuff I think you will have a good time with this one, just put that thinking cap aside for about eighty-minutes and you're good to go. The characters are fun, Myron is a creepy Southern mad doc of sorts with a giant head with the psychic ability to control his mindless drone siblings, it's a fun conceit. Lance and Loretta are also a fun pair as they fornicate and conspire to do away with her pesky husband, doing both at the same time usually, ninety percent of their conversations are had while having sex! Blake Adams plays Lance as a fast-talking hustler, full of charms and cheap charisma, while Loretta as played by Jacqueline Lovell comes of as a trailer park version of Scarlett Johansson, she's easy on the eyes and kindly sheds her clothes to reveal her top-shelf assets, which is always appreciated. For his part J.W. Perra gives the character of Myron nice Southern evilness, the make-up effects used to create his bulbous deformed head are impressive, and there's a drool-filled nipple licking scene with Loretta that was just so icky to watch, this movie certainly has it's moments. 

Audio/Video: Head of the Family Arrives on Blu-ray from Full Moon Entertainment looking solid for a low-budget 90s production, on par with what we've seen from Full Moon to date, including the absence of lossless audio option, we have instead choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 Surround. There are no subtitle options on the disc. 

Extras include a commentary from Actor J.W. Perra who does the commentary as both himself and as his character Myron which was sort of neat. Other extras include a promo for the planned 2008 sequel Bride of Head which never happened, at least not yet. We also get the original trailer (2 min) and the 2016 HD trailer (2 min) for the film plus trailers for Vampire Journals(2 min), Puppet Master 2 (2 min), Puppet Master 3 (2 min), Subspecies 2 (2 min) and Specters (2 min). 

Special Features: 
– Audio Commentary with Actor J.W. Perra
– Bride of Head Promo (2 min) 
– Original Trailer (2 min) 
- 2016 HD Trailer (2 min) HD 

– Full Moon Trailers: Vampire Journals (2 mins), Puppet Master 2 (2 min), Puppet Master 3 (2 min), Subspecies 2 (2 min), Specters (2 min)

The movie doesn't have a lot of atmosphere unfortunately, which would have escalated this one a bit, but it does have a peculiar softcore-horror feel that was at least fun, with some goofy humor and campiness, but the lack of atmosphere and that quick wrap ending brings it down a bit, but if you're a Full Moon fan there's plenty to enjoy about Head Of The Family.  2.5/5

Genre icon Bill Oberst Jr. joins the HUNTING GROUNDS, On Demand February7th from Uncork’d Entertainment

HUNTING GROUND (2017) 

Genre icon Bill Oberst Jr joins the HUNTING GROUNDS this February 7th

Uncork’d Entertainment has set award-winning creature feature HUNTING GROUNDS for a Feb 7th release.

Winner Best Sci-Fi Horror Film at the Toronto Independent Film Festival 2015, writer-director John Portanova’s acclaimed film sees a fractured family forced to go up against an angry clan of Bigfoot.
Festival audiences and horror critics have gone crazy for the story of a father and son, forced to move to an old cabin in the woods after a devastating tragedy, who unearth a tribe of Sasquatch.
Written and directed by John Portanova and produced by horror label The October People, Hunting Grounds stars Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Jason Vail, David Saucedo, D'Angelo Midili, and Emmy winner Bill Oberst Jr (Criminal Minds).


Official Synopsis : After losing their home following a devastating tragedy, a father and son are forced to move to an old family cabin. When two old friends arrive for a weekend of hunting, what begins as a bonding trip becomes an unimaginable nightmare. This trip deep into the forest will not find wild game, but does unearth a tribe of Sasquatch that are determined to protect their land.