Friday, September 23, 2016

Abel Ferrara's BODY SNATCHERS (1993) Arriving on Blu-ray from Warner Archive on 10/18

BODY SNATCHERS (1993) 

Body Snatchers (1993)
New 2016 HD Remaster
BD50
16 X 9 WIDESCREEN, ORIGINAL ASPECT RATIO - 2.4:1
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
English SDH
Contains original theatrical trailer (remastered 1080p HD) 

"Don’t sleep. Don’t ever sleep. That’s when it happens. That’s when tentacles leave the alien pod and enter your ears and nostrils. Soon you’re not you anymore. You’ve been taken over, a victim of Body Snatchers.

A science-fiction classic gets an eerie, modern update in this spellbinder inspired by 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and from the producer of the 1978 remake. Advances in screen special effects now enable director Abel Ferrara (King of New York, Bad Lieutenant ) and his crew of wizards to depict the actual birthing of a pod – and its devastating effect on the human host. Who says there’s no rest for the wicked? As stars Gabrielle Anwar, Terry Kinney, Forest Whitaker and Meg Tilly discover, no one rests when the only way to sleep is to keep one eye open. And one foot out the door."

STEPHEN KING'S IT (1990) (Blu-ray Review)

STEPHEN KING'S IT (1990)
Label: Warner Bros. 
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 17 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Cast: Tim Curry, Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, annette O'Toole, Tim Reid, John Ritter, Richard Thomas, Seth Green, Emily Perkins, Adam Faraizl, Brandon Crane, Marlon Taylor, Jonathan Brandis, Seth Green, Ben Heller

When Stephen King's It debuted on TV in 1990 as a two-part mini-series on ABC I was sixteen and already a rabid Stephen King fan, my mom was too and it was because of her that I found myself picking up his novels from a very young age. As a fan I was ready and well-primed for Pennywise to leap from the page and onto my TV.

The movie opens on rainy day in Derry, Maine, the year is 1957 and a young boy named Georgie (Tony Dakota) is floating his paper boat down a flooded street when it disappears down a storm drain. Peering down into the drain he sees a clown who introduces himself as Pennywise (Tim Curry, Legend), whom at first speaks nicely to the boy before baring his gnarly teeth and murdering him. Georgie's older brother Bill (Jonathan Brandis) is also haunted by the diabolical clown who has been killing children in the area and turns out to be supernatural in nature, though no adults seem to be aware of or suspect that there is a murderous clown on the loose. As young people continue to be mutilated by the demonic clown Bill teams-up with six other local youths, each of whom have had their own nightmarish and surreal experiences with the other worldly clown. We have fat-boy Ben (Brandon Crane), wheezy Eddie (Adam Faraizl), every boy's crush Beverly (Emily Perkins, Ginger Snaps), funny-kid Richie (Seth Green, Idle Hands), shy-guy Stan (Ben Heller) and what appears to be only black kid in town Mike Hanlon (Marlon Taylor). Branding themselves The Loser's Club they band together to take on the clown-faced menace in the sewers. Thinking they've defeated the clown-demon they promise each other that should it ever return they will come together again and face-off against the clowns sinister evil once again.

Thirty years later the clown returns to Derry and young people are murdered, most of the Loser's Club have long since left Derry in pursuit of their careers except for poor Mike who has become the town historian and still seems to be the only black guy in town. He calls each of his now older childhood friends, asking them to return to Derry and fulfill their youthful promise. The older kids are now played by 80s and 90s sitcom and movie stars, including Night Court's Harry Anderson as Richie, Dennis Christopher as Eddie, Richard Masur from License to Drive as Stan, Smallville's Annette O'Toole as Beverly, The Waltons star Richard Thomas as Bill, and Three's Company star John Ritter as Ben. Reunited the Loser's Club must deal with the suicide of one of their own and their own personal demons as they once again face-off against the demonic clown Pennywise. 

The first half of the miniseries which takes place in the 1950s with the younger cast is fantastic, set in a small town it really channels some of Stephen King's best stuff about life in a small town which has been touched by a dark presence, like a nightmarish Norman Rockwell image, the young cast is overall solid with some nice performances from Seth Green, Emily Perkins and the late Jonathan Brandis who sadly committed suicide in 2003. This half of the mini-series feels a bit like Stand By Me as the misfits kids band together, also having to deal with a menacing bully named Henry Bowers (Jarred Blancard) who loves to make the kids miserable both as youths and again as adults. 

The second half of the movie concerns the reunited kids now grown up, the individually cast is strong but don't have the group chemistry of the younger actors, not helping is that some of the kid grown up look nothing at all like their younger counterparts. The seasoned cast of older actors are not awful by any means, but they just do not have the same magic that young actors had together. A lot of his might have to do with the fact that screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen was not around for rewrites for the latter half of the film, leaving director Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch) on his own to handle those chores, there's certainly a tonal shift and it is more than just the characters have aged, there's a magic missing from the second half. 

Made for TV the movie is pretty light on blood and gore but not without some suspense and moments of supernatural eeriness, a recurring gag involving blood only the kids can see was weird and unnerving, as was a book that comes to life and then bleeds. Some of the effects are just awful though, no one kindly remembers the final reveal of Pennywise's true demonic-spider form which was just corny, but sometimes the run-up to the finale is the best stuff and such was the case with Stephen King's It. The true menace of this movie comes straight from the mind and talent of actor Tim Curry who brought Pennywise the clown to life with a minimal amount of makeup special effects, he is straight-up unnerving and his portrayal of the demonic clown may be the reason so many kids are freaked out by circus clowns these days, he is terrifying and magnetic throughout the entire series, it is just sad that the movie sort of fizzled out at the end, over-extending the made-for-TV budget on the home stretch. 

Audio/Video: Stephen King's It arrives on Blu-ray at long last from Warner Bros. with a new HD master and presented in the original fullframe broadcast aspect ratio, the previous DVD was reframed for widescreen (1.78:1) but this fullframe presentation is the original and correct aspect ratio. The new transfer looks wonderful, very crisp and clean but with a nice layer of grain and along with a fair amount of fine detail. The colors really pop and the black levels are nice and deep, a definite upgrade in picture quality. Audio comes by way of an English language DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo track that is nicely balance, crisp and has some good depth to it. Channel separation is good and there are optional English SDH subtitles in addition to a plethora of alternate audio and subtitle options. 

WB carry-over commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace, and cast members Dennis Christopher, Tim Reid, John Ritter, and Richard Thomas. Carried  which appeared on the previous DVD release. The track is quite good with director Wallace giving a very candid and open conversation about the making of the movie, adapting the source material, and the limitations of the made-for-TV format, 

While the commentary s good who I would have loved new interviews with the cast and crew, including Tim Curry or the cast from the movie, including a young Emily Perkins who was still a few years away from her turn in the Ginger Snaps series. I also would have enjoyed the option to watch the movie in the original two-part broadcast format with the original opening and closing credits for Part 1 and Part 2 which extend the scene of Stan's wife screaming after she discovers his suicide with Pennywise's creepy laugh over it. Part two should open with Bill driving into Derry and checking into his hotel before going o the cemetery. Wish list aside, the Blu-ray we have available to us is pretty great, with a crisp new HD transfer and lossless audio and an easy-purchase price tag that makes this no-brainer HD upgrade for fans of the miniseries. 

Special Features:
- Commentary by Director Tommy Lee Wallace and Actors Dennis Christopher, Tim Reid, John Ritter and Richard Thomas

Stephen King's It continues to scare with varying results twenty-six years after it initially aired on TV. The first-half is still a first-rate watch with the second half still suffering from a drop in quality and a tonal shift, but I still love it and Tim Curry as Pennywise is truly iconic. The new Blu-ray from WB looks and sounds fantastic, highly recommended. 

GRINDHOUSE RELEASING ANNOUNCES 'I DRINK YOUR BLOOD' BLU-RAY & SCREENING DATES!

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1971) 

Infamous Horror Movie Classic Now Back In Theaters!

Grindhouse Releasing, the award-winning "Criterion of cult movie labels", has set a Nov. 8 street date for the new deluxe Blu-ray edition of David E. Durston's gruesome and graphically violent 1971 horror favorite I DRINK YOUR BLOOD. It's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD meets the Manson Family in this gore-drenched tale of LSD-crazed hippies who go on a murderous rampage through a small town after consuming rabies-injected meat pies!

Grindhouse Releasing's deluxe 2-disc Blu-ray set not only presents the ultra-violent, uncensored director's cut of I DRINK YOUR BLOOD in a new hi-def transfer but also includes two more vintage exploitation films in their HD debut: Del Tenney's I EAT YOUR SKIN (1964) and Durston's long-unseen, X-rated psychedelic shocker BLUE SEXTET (1969). Packed with new bonus features not seen on Grindhouse Releasing's 2002 DVD release, the I DRINK YOUR BLOOD Blu-ray is the ultimate edition of a notorious "Blood Horror" classic.

The first film to be rated X for violence, I DRINK YOUR BLOOD was a huge-grossing hit at drive-ins and "grindhouse" theaters but was severely censored during its original release. 


Grindhouse Releasing's uncut, restored version of I DRINK YOUR BLOOD recently debuted in New York and Los Angeles and is now playing at theaters and drive-ins across the U.S. and Canada.

"I DRINK YOUR BLOOD is one of the most infamous movies in the history of exploitation films," says Grindhouse Releasing co-founder Bob Murawski. "Rescuing this lost gem was one of our most important achievements. And being able to finally unite I DRINK YOUR BLOOD with its legendary co-feature I EAT YOUR SKIN, both fully remastered in stunning HD for the very first time, takes that accomplishment one step further. We've spent almost a decade working on this release, and I feel it's our finest yet. I'm also thrilled that so many theaters are playing I DRINK YOUR BLOOD. We've been trying to make this happen for years and have finally succeeded. Seeing this movie on the big screen with an audience is a mind-blowing experience. No self-respecting horror fan should miss this rare opportunity."

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD stars Bhaskar, John Damon, and cult superstar Lynn Lowry (George A. Romero's THE CRAZIES, David Cronenberg's THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, and Paul Schrader's THE CAT PEOPLE).

A limited run of 3,000 copies of the Blu-ray will include the official "I DRINK YOUR BLOOD Horror Hypo" - an actual syringe that fans can use to infect their friends with rabies! Supplies of the Horror Hypo are not expected to last long, so fans should pre-order from DiabolikDVD.com to get the best shot at receiving one! 

The I DRINK YOUR BLOOD Blu-ray is now available for pre-order exclusively at DiabolikDVD.com - click here to reserve your copy! 

Upcoming I DRINK YOUR BLOOD Screening Dates:

9/23 – Grand Illusion Cinema, Seattle, WA
9/24 – Midway Drive-In, Dixon, IL
9/30 – Filmbar, Phoenix, AZ
10/1 – Alamo Drafthouse, Omaha, NE
10/4 – Alamo Drafthouse, Yonkers, NY
10/5 – Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park, Houston, TX
10/7 – Frida Cinema, Santa Ana, CA - with I EAT YOUR SKIN
10/7 – 10/13 – Plaza Theatre, Atlanta, GA
10/14 10/15 – Landmark Main Art, Detroit, MI
10/14 10/15– Landmark Inwood, Dallas, TX
10/14 – 16 – Gateway Film Center, Columbus, OH
10/19 – Alamo Drafthouse, Lubbock, TX
10/20 - Alamo Drafthouse, Littleton, CO
10/22 – Landmark Uptown, Minneapolis, MN
10/22 10/23 - Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa, ON
10/23 – PhilaMOCA, Philadelphia, PA
10/27 – Royal Cinema, Toronto, ON
10/27 – Sun Ray Cinema, Jacksonville, FL
10/28 - Film Scene, Iowa City, IA
10/28 - Alamo Drafthouse Mission, San Francisco, CA
10/28 10/29 – Cedar Lee Theatre, Cleveland, OH
10/28. 10/30 - Screenland Tapcade, Kansas City, MO
10/31 –  Tampa Theatre, Tampa, FL
11/12 – Olympia Film Festival, Olympia, WA 
11/16 – Abertoir Film Festival, Wales
12/3 - Music Box Theatre, Chicago, IL

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD Blu-ray Specs:
- Spectacular new HD restoration of the original UNCENSORED DIRECTOR'S CUT
- 4 controversial deleted scenes including the original blood-drenched ending deemed too disturbing for '70s audiences!
- Provocative audio commentary by director David Durston and star Bhaskar
- Newly recorded audio commentary by stars Jack Damon and Tyde Kierney
- Revealing on-camera interviews with stars Lynn Lowry, Tyde Kierney and Jack Damon
- New in-depth interview with director David Durston
- The original theatrical trailer and radio spots
- Extensive gallery of stills and poster art 
- Rare and shocking film of Bhaskar performing THE EVIL KING COBRA DANCE
- TWO BONUS CO-FEATURES -
   I EAT YOUR SKIN (1964) - presented for the very first time in HD 
+ exclusive interview with 2nd unit director William Grefe
   BLUE SEXTET (1969) - David Durston's long-lost X-rated psychedelic shocker - presented for the very first time on home video!
- Liner notes by David Szulkin (WES CRAVEN'S LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT: THE MAKING OF A CULT CLASSIC)
- Beautiful embossed slipcover
- BONUS - I DRINK YOUR BLOOD HORROR HYPO - Inject your friends with rabies! - limited to the first 3000 copies!
- PLUS OTHER SURPRISES!

For theatrical bookings and publicity contact info@grindhousereleasing.com.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979) (Blu-ray Review)

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979) 

Label: Blue Underground

Region Code: Region-Free 
Rating: PG
Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1, DTS-HD Mono with Optional  English, French, Spanish Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: George McCowan
Cast: Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, John Ireland, Nicholas Campbell, Eddie Benton

The sci-fi future world of The Shape of Things to Come is described in the movie as "the tomorrow after tomorrow" wherein mankind has laid waste to the planet Earth and set-up a new colony on the Moon where we live an enormous domed city known as 
New Washington. There we are dependant on an anti-radiation drug only produced on the planet Delta Three which is run by the power-mad Emperor Omus (Jack Palance, Jess Franco's Justine), who has grand ideas of becoming the new King of the Cosmos. To that end he has cut-off the supply of the life-saving drug, in addition to launching robutt-piloted kamikaze attacks on New Washington. A team of scientists led by Dr. John Caball (Barry Morse, Space: 1999) launches a mission to destroy the dictator and his menacing robot army, joining him on this life-threatening adventure are the attractive security officer (Carol Lynley, Vigilante) and his son (Nicholas Campbell, of Cronenberg's The Dead Zone) and together they arrive on Delta Three and attempt to thwart the intergalactic tyrant with the aid of their tenacious robot and whole lot of cheesy sci-fi drive-in action.


This science fiction clunker was directed by George McCowan (eco-horror clunker Frogs) and so loosely based on H.G. Wells' visionary novel that I swear his very name threatens to fall of the Blu-ray artwork. In the wake of Star Wars there were wanna-be sci-fi epics coming out of every space wormhole in the cinema but this anemic Canadian entry was among the cheapest and most yawn-inducing of them all, and that is saying something when you put up against a few of those Roger Corman rip-offs, but somehow this has managed to stay right at the bottom of the pile, aging like the rancid turd that it is. 

The saving grace of the movie is the intrinsic schlock-value of such a poor production with low-rent sets made of cardboard and alien-worlds which are about as exotic as rural Canada where the movie was made - there sure are a lot of maple trees on Delta Three! The cast have to speak massive amounts of sci-fi verbal vomit but at least we have Jack Palance nicely chewing-up the scenery as he usually did when working for producer Harry Alan Towers. As the diabolical Emperor Omus Palance does what he can as the purple caped villain, but even his treacherous charms have their limits within the context of such an atrocious affront to science fiction cinema. 

Audio/Video: The sci-fi clunker arrives on Blu-ray from cult favorite Blue Underground who have been on a Harry Alan Towers kick of late, though this is by several parsecs the worst of his movies that I have seen. However, Blue Underground work their HD magic and have struck a new HD master from the original 35mm camera negatives, breathing new life into this schlocky space-movie. The image can be a bit dark and the cinematography has an ugly softness to it, through no fault of the new transfer, this is as good as this slice of sci-fi awfulness will ever look on home video. Audio options include your choice of original DTS-HD mono or surround sound, optional English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included. 
Extras on the disc include interview with star Nicholas Campbell (14 Mins) and composer Paul Hoffert. Campbell (17 Mins). Campbell is a hoot and seems like a wild man, giving some great insight into the anemic sci-fi movie and its notorious producer Harry Alan Towers. There is also a selection of trailers, TV spots, an image gallery and the entire pressbook for the movie. 

Special Features: 
- Jason's Journey - Interview with Star Nicholas Campbell (14 Mins) HD 
- Symphonies In Space - Interview with Composer Paul Hoffert (17 Mins) HD 
- French Trailer (2 Mins) HD 
- TV Spot (30 Secs) 
- Poster and Still Gallery (3 Mins) HD 
- Pressbook Gallery (2 Mins) HD 

The Shape of Things to Come is an awful sci-fi entry that came out in the wake of Star Wars but feels more like as on-the-cheap version of the TV series Battlestar Galactica by way of the science fiction movie of the fifties. This is a recommend to hardcore collectors of bad science fiction movies, and possibly a hard-sell to anyone else. Sometimes I wonder how Lustig and company choose their HD upgrades, were fans really clamoring for this on Blu-ray? Whatever the process I remain in awe of Blue Underground;s commitment to cult-film preservation. 

LADY IN WHITE (1988) (Blu-ray Review)

LADY IN WHITE (1988) 
Label: Scream Factory 
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration:117 / 126 / 113 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 

Director:Frank LaLoggia
Cast: Len Cariou, Alex Rocco, Katherine Helmond, Lukas Haas

Frank LaLoggia's supernatural murder mystery Lady In White (1988) is set during the Fall of  1962, specifically the lead-up to Halloween, and the story follows a young boy named Frankie (Lukas Haas) who becomes trapped overnight inside the school cloakroom by a pair of bullies, which is where Frankie witnesses the ghost of a murdered young girl. The girl was murdered in that same cloakroom ten years earlier by an unseen man, a crime which Frankie watches as it replays in front of his very eyes. As if that wasn't frightening enough the murderer shows up this same night looking for something he left behind years earlier which might somehow incriminate him. Frankie senses the danger and tries to hide from the man in the shadows of the room but he is betrayed by a mouse, now spotted by the menacing man Frankie is strangled and left for dead, but he survives the encounter and is later found by his father Angelo (Alex Rocco) who had been searching for the boy when he didn't come home from school that day. 

The authorities place the blame on the school's black janitor Willy Williams (Henry Harris) who is found in  the basement of the school drunk, but Frankie doesn't believe him to be the culprit. As Frankie recovers from his injuries at home he becomes obsessed by the mystery of the murdered girl after finding out that her murder is only one of several which have occurred in the area over the past decade, there's a serial killer on the loose and the police are only too happy to pin the crimes on the janitor.  The young girl is Melissa Ann Montgomery (Joelle Jacobi), the very first victim of the killer, and she begins to haunt young Frankie dreams, forming a supernatural alliance of sorts as Frankie begins to sleuth the mystery of her death. 

Frankie finds a dilapidated house on the nearby cliffs overlooking the local lake, a place seemingly haunted by the Lady in White, actually an old woman named Amanda (Katherine Helmond). It turns out that this was Melissa's home and is also the scene of another tragedy, the suicide of her grieving mother who is said to haunt the area eternally searching for her beloved daughter Melissa. As young Frankie gets closer to the truth he puts himself is great danger as the culprit of the child murders is close by and does not want to be revealed. 

LaLoggia's story a wonderful combination of Stephen King small town horror combined with Jean shepherd's A Christmas Story by way of Disney's Something wicked This Way Comes. The movie really captures the autumnal feel of Upstate New York where the movie is set, and where myself and the director grew up. The changing color of the leaves, the rural small town that feels like a Norman Rockwell image come to life but with a darks idea, the retro Halloween aesthetic really gave me the nostalgic goosebumps, it feels authentic. The movie is a bit of a slow-burn and grows long in the tooth at times, but there's a lot to love about this movie. However, the sub-plot with the wrongly accused janitor goes on for longer than necessary and is resolved in a way that didn't feel was necessary or earned but there are more positives than missteps.

Young Lukas Haas (Tim Burton's Mars Attacks) does fine work as the wide-eyed boy, just coming off his tun in Witness (1985), making for a nice protagonist as the sweet boy pulled into a supernatural mystery in his small town. Italian actor Alex Rocco also turns in a good performance cast against type as the caring widower dad who will do anything for his family, which also includes Frankie's older brother Geno (Jason Presson) and a pair of Italian grandparents who play comically off each other, with grandpa always trying to sneak off to have a smoke. LaLoggia did fine work bringing this supernatural melodrama to life with a great cast who give the small town yarn some real authenticity about it. 

The movie has a series of haunting images that will stay with you, the image of young Frankie with his Dracula mask atop his head in front of the cloakroom window is iconic. For the most part the special effects are top notch though occasionally it does outreach the limits of the budget, but the wonderful autumnal images and striking cinematography make up for the the few minor deviations, this is good stuff, this should rightfully be a kiddie-horror classic in my mind and hopefully this new Blu-ray from Scream Factory will go a ways towards bringing this to the masses. 

Audio/Video: Lady In White (1988) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory presented in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1) with three versions of the movie spread across two Blu-ray discs. The image is fairly crisp, colors are strong and shadow detail is very nice, there is a lot of 80s soft-focus cinematography from Russell Carpenter (who would go on to win the Oscar for Titanic years later) which suits the supernatural themes films, but doesn't make for the most crisp looking image at times. A few of the darker scenes can become a bit on the grainy side, but overall the image is very pleasing with a nice layer of fine film grain. Audio options on the discs include both English DTS-HD MA 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround andI ave to say I loved the surround option, the stereo track might be more authentic to the original theatrical experience by the surround is immersive and does a nice job of immersing you into the sound field with the discreet channel effects and the score. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided. 

The two-disc set is crammed with extras, many of which are ported over from the previous special edition DVD, but with a few new exclusives including the never-before-seen Extended Director's Cut of the movie which runs 126 minutes in length. There's a brief introduction from the director for the director's cut, plus a commentary also for the director's cut version of the film, which is fascinating if you love commentaries. LaLoggia covers a lot of ground and goes into depth about the origins of the Lady in White story, movie production and post-production, his own childhood experiences which informed the story and his love of cinema. Also included are over a half hour of deleted scenes, over an hour of behind-the-scenes footage, the promotional short film which was made to raise money for the independent production, TV spots, radio spots, trailers and a pair image galleries. Scream Factory have also included a sleeve of reversible artwork 

Special Features: 
- Director's Cut  (117 Mins) HD 
- Introduction By Frank LaLoggia (1 Mins) HD 
- Audio Commentary With Frank LaLoggia
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Introduction By Frank LaLoggia (16 Mins) HD  - Deleted Scenes With Introduction By Frank LaLoggia (36 Mins) HD 
- Extended Behind-The-Scenes Footage – Production And Post-Production (73 Mins) HD 
- Promotional Short Film (7 Mins) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 
- Alternate Trailers (7 Mins) HD 
- TV Spots (2 Mins) HD 
- Radio Spots (2 Mins) HD 
- Behind-The-Scenes Photo Montage (2 Mins) HD 
- Extended Photo Gallery (2 Mins) HD 
- Extended Director's Cut  (126 Mins) HD
- Original Theatrical Cut (113 min) HD 

I love this movie, maybe owing to my own upbringing in a small town Upstate New York town just a stone throw away from where this movie was filmed, this movie just rings true to the Rockwell-ian images it portrays, the authentic character made it easy for me to buy into the supernatural themes and to endure the slow-burn, a haunting movie that would make for some great family viewing this Halloween with your kids. Scream Factory have done good work bringing this to Blu-ray with three cuts of the movie and a wealth of bonus features, highly recommended to fans of 80s supernatural chillers and kiddie-friendly horror. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

EVILS OF THE NIGHT (1985) (Blu-ray Review)

EVILS OF THE NIGHT (1985) 
Label: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 85 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Mardi Rustam
Cast: John Carradine, Tina Louise, Julie Newmar, Amber Lynn, Aldo Ray, Neville Brand, G.T. Taylor, David Hawk, Bridget Holloman, Keith Fisher, Karrie Emerson

Mardi Rustam's truly oddball Evils Of The Night (1985) begins with a UFO landing in the middle of Nowheresville USA. The blood-drinking space vampires arrive on Earth to siphon off some life extending blood from the local horny teens who inhabit this particular area. The movie starts off much like a standard 80s slasher movie wherein we some young couples fornicating in the woods at night. Mardi was an awful director but he knew damn well what the kids wanted to see at the drive-in, and that was cheap horror and A LOT of nude women and this low-rent sci-fi schlocker delivers both in ample amounts. 

As the horny couples get busy they are dispatched by the blood-drinking aliens, my favorite kill from the beginning was a young man backed-up against a tree while his horny girlfriend backs her sweet behind right up against her crotch, right in the middle of his young lust bliss the poor guy is strangled while his unaware lady finishes up just in time to notice something is not quite right, you get the impression that maybe he turned soft and she's not too happy about it. The scene is also funny because despite the softcore action the young man is still wearing his blue jeans which are clearly not unbuttoned or unzipped. 

Anyway, a trio of aging aliens set-up a cheeseball laboratory at a local hospital and have hired a couple of slow-minded auto-mechanics to abduct young kids for them so they can drain them of their blood in an effort to somehow prolong their own lives through some science-y mumbo jumbo. The aliens are Kozmar (John Carradine, House of Seven Corpses), Cora (Tina Louise, Ginger from TVs Gilligan's Island), and Zarma (Julie Newmar, Catwoman from the Adam West Batman TV Show), there is also a pair of women who look like 60s go-go dancers decked on is cheesy sci-fi outfits. The murderous auto-mechanics the aliens have hired are played by Aldo Ray (Psychic Killer) and Neville Brand (Eaten Alive). Ray and Brand come off as a pair of weirdos, who are not quite menacing but certainly are strange and none to bright, Brand manages to elicits a tiny bit of the crazy he channeled for Tobe Hooper on Eaten Alive, but this is a dopey movie and he acts accordingly, also playing well of Aldo Ray. 

After the initial opening which is stuffed with copious amounts of nude women we are more or less focused on a group of young folks on vacation at the nearby lake. We have the Heather (Bridget Holloman) and her fiancé Ron (Keith Fisher), Nancy (Karrie Emerson, Chopping Mall), Connie (G.T. Taylor) and Brian (David Hawk). Between them they have about six movie credits all told, aside from Emerson none went onto to much of any career in the movies and even she disappeared after appearing in the TV horror anthology Dead of Night (1989). The remainder of the movie is these five pretty much running around the woods attempting to escape from the clutches of both the aliens and the murderous grease monkeys until the aliens are scared off.

Evils of the Night is honestly a turd of a movie, one that makes sci-fi drive-in drivel like The Being (1983) and without warning (1980) look like science fiction masterpieces by comparison. 
The movie has some backwoods slasher elements but the sci-fi stuff comes across like something from Plan 9, really awful stuff. The odd mixture of aging Hollywood and TV has-beens, a couple of 80s b-movie actors and a handful  of 80s porno stars make for some interesting viewing though, including a big-haired 80s porn star Amber Lynn lights up the screen with her charms, but the plot such as it is makes no sense whatsoever and the pacing is slow and painfully uneven. 

Evils Of The Night is not a movie you watch for story, you watch this for the 80s cheese, the porn star nudity and to see Aldo Ray and Neville Brand threaten to hump a few girls in the process. Cheap, wonky and weird, if that's how you you love your schlock then Mardi Rustam made a movie you just might fall in love with. So get out the nachos and a cold beer, you're in for a shlocky treat tonight! 

Audio/Video: Evils Of The Night (1985) arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Combo from Vinegar Syndrome with a brand new 2K transfer straight from the original 35mm negative and the movie looks surprisingly good in HD! The film grain looks nice and healthy, while a few of the darker night scenes can be a bit grainy the colors are vibrant and the image is crisp with a wealth of fine detail. VinSyn have definitely brought this sci-fi clunker some new life with the new transfer. The English DTS-HD Mono 2.0 mix won't win any audio awards but it dialogue, score and sound effects comes through with decent depth and clarity, the synth score sounds wonderfully cheesy and dialogue is never hard to understand, though some of what they say will have you rolling your eyes into the back of your head. 

VinSyn have included some decent extras on the disc including a new video interview with director Mardi Rustam who talks about the production of the movie and how a few of the cast came to appear in it. A nicely shot interview, well-produced stuff with some good content. Vinegar Syndrome have also included the TV cut of the movie which also appeared on the MPI/Gorgon DVD from a few years back, presented in standard-def. This version actually runs longer than the theatrical cut and omits all of the Amber Lynn scenes, which is a drag. It also trims a lot of the violence and all of the sweet nudity. However, it also adds a few extra scenes including a few more with David Carradine. I'll stick with the original cut myself with all the violence and nudity, but this is a nifty bonus. 

Other extras on the disc include an isolated score track highlighting the synth-driven score of Robert O. Ragland (Grizzly, 10 To Midnight), about twenty-five minutes of outtake footage, a work-in-progress original theatrical trailer, and a TV spot. The sleeve art advertises a reversible sleeve but that is not the case, there is however an image of Karrie Emerson (Chopping Mall) holding an ax on the flipside. The release is a DVD/Combo Pack offering both the movie and supplemental material on Blu-ray and DVD. 

Special Features:
- Alien Blood Transfusion – Video Interview with director Mardi Rustam (9 Mins) HD
- Alternate Feature Length TV edit (93 Mins)
- Isolated score by Robert O. Ragland
- Extensive outtakes (24 Mins) HD
- Work-in-Progress Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) HD
- TV Spot (32 Seconds) 

Yet another glorious sci-fi horror craptacular straight from the drive-in and onto Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome. A silly slice of weirdness with strange cast of Hollywood has-beens and loads of nudity, a tiny bit of gore and a whole lot of what-the-fuckery, if you love bad movies this is one worth celebrating on Blu-ray, another bang-up job from the VinSyn team. 

HAMMER FILMS DOUBLE FEATURE VOL. 2 - THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) & THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1964)

HAMMER FILMS DOUBLE FEATURE VOL. 2:
THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN /THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment

Region Code: A
Duration: 90 Minutes I 81 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen 1.66:1)I1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Terence Fisher I Michael Carreras 
Cast: Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland, George Pastell, Jack Gwillim I Peter Cushing, Eunice Gayson, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn I Peter Cushing, Francis Matthews, Eunice Gayson, Michael Gwynn, Lionel Jeffries, Oscar Quitak, Charles Lloyd Pack, Richard Wordsworth, George Woodbridge 

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) 

In Hammer's Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) Peter Cushing reprises his famous role as Baron Victor Frankenstein, whom at the end of the last film had been sentenced to death by the guillotine. He escape the edge of the blade with the help of his devoted crippled assistant Fritz, It is revealed that in his place an poor priest has been beheaded. Frankenstein has now relocated to Carlsbruck, Germany under the alias Dr. Victor Stein where he now runs a hospital for the poor and wretched, a convenient place to carry on his mad scientist ways. 

The local doctor's in Carlbruck don't much care for Dr. Stein who m has refused to join the local physician's board, but a young doctor named Hans Kleve (Francis Matthews) figures out than Stein is really the reportedly now dead Baron Frankenstein and blackmails his way into an apprenticeship with the doc, who is continuing his experiments at the hospital where he has been amputating body parts from the poor and creating a new monster from scratch. The monster this time around begins as a somewhat normal looking man, the brain that is to be transplanted belong's to Dr. Stein's crippled assistant Karl (Oscar Quitak), who willingly sacrifices his twisted god-given body for the new healthy one crafted by the doctor.


The transplant is a success at first with the new Karl now transformed into a more handsome and able man, now played by actor Michael Gwynn. Kept locked away from prying eyes during his recovery Karl is found by a young nurse named Margaret  who frees him with the help of a scheming orderly. As Karl wanders the hospital corridors he is mistaken for a thief by a janitor and given a beating, with his freshly transplanted brain rattled and damaged the formerly pleasant Karl becomes a flesh hungry ghoul, but he does not amass a high body count, only munching on an unfortunate woman at the park before dying soon afterward. The movie points out that one of the doc's previous transplants involving a chimp and an orangutan ended in the primate becoming a cannibal, foreshadowing the tragic downward spiral of poor Karl, which is something the movie does not exploit as much as I would have liked, I wanted to see the monster in full-on cannibal mode, but it winds down a bit fast and moves onto Frankenstein's own demise and transformation. 

Revenge is a very good Hammer entry and a wonderful sequel to the original Hammer version of the tale with Peter Cushing's mad scientist coming across as a more sympathetic character, as does Michael Gwynn as the monster. Frankenstein begins this movie on a mission of mercy to help his crippled assistant, but at the same time he is exploiting and experimenting on the poor folks at the hospital, whom it should be noted have their just revenge on the mad scientist. I loved Michael Gwynn's performance as the the monster, beginning as a rather handsome fellow before disintegrating into a more feral flesh-eating ghoul, it's a great performance which gives the monster some serious pathos, begging his creator for help before dying at his feet and exposing him for who he really is. 


THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1964) 

The Curse of the Mummy has a pretty standard set-up for a mummy movie, an American showman Alexander King (Fred King) unearths the tomb of a disgraced Egyptian Pharaoh. He plans to take the mummy on the roadshow tour which is guaranteed to generate a lot of cash for the exhibitor. When approached by a museum he refuses to allow his discovery to be whisked away to some dusty old museum for display, earning him a few enemies along the way. As expected once they open the sarcophagus the mummified Pharaoh is nowhere to be found and soon enough those who have done wrong by the ancient Pharaoh are found dead with the lurching mummified menace making a mess of things. 

Curse is not the most pulse pounding of Hammer entries and a pale shadow of The Mummy which was directed by Terence Fisher and starring Christopher Lee, who was by far a more threatening mass of moldy bandages, but this one has some nice opulent Egyptian set pieces, the Pharaoh's tomb looks truly fantastic, but the movie is slow cooking and does not payoff.  Thank goodness for actor Freddie King who does a fantastic job as the fast-talking PT Barnum type American Showman, who completely stole the show for me. 


The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb was previously been issued by Mill Creek Entertainment on a 2-disc DVD multi-pack Hammer Films Collection (2015). The HD upgrade for Curse looks very nice, an measured improvement over the DVD release with a crisper, tighter image with more fine detail. The Revenge of Frankenstein also look nice compared to previous DVD incarnation but is also less satisfying in HD than Curse. The source shows quite a bit of white speckling and minor nicks, colors seem muted and the fine detail not as finely resolved. Again Mill Creek have opted not upgraded the audio, we have the lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0 option. As with Hammer Films Double Feature Vol. 1 there is an unfortunate spelling error on the spine of this release which advertises "The Curese of the Mummy's Tomb", which is just embarrassing. Regrettable spelling errors aside more Hammer Horror on Blu-ray is always a good thing, and this budget-minded double-feature is an easy recommend.