Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dead Air Podcast: Episode 84 - Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

This week on the show, Jeff (@DeadAirJeff), Jesse (@DestroySuperman), and Chad (@HorrorMovieBBQ)  discuss Lin Shaye's MMA abilities, Chad's exploits at foreign comic book conventions, the passing of Christopher Lee, and the latest entry in the INSIDIOUS franchise. 

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The Dead Air Horror & Genre Podcast is brought to you by GenreWatch,The Liberal Dead, and Horror Movie BBQ. Be sure to visit the sites for more great content!

Looking to order any of the titles we discussed on this show? Head on over to Amazon for the best prices and help support our show.

And, as always, if you want to drop us a line to let us know what you think of any of the movies discussed tonight, or you just want to give us feedback on the podcast in general, please send an email to DeadAirHorrorPodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ghost Town (Scream Factory Blu-ray)

Wild West Horror has never quite got me good. It’s not the period, but the simple fact that my expectation is always something out of Scooby Doo. I expect half decaying corpses in the middle of a desert scene engaging in a classic shoot out… you could include some Ennio Morricone music to add Marina. None of them do that though. It’s always some character driven, thought-provoking ghost tale. Light on the effects and nudity. I suppose all the great Westerns are being used in John Carpenter movie completely outside of the old west. Empire changed that in 1988 with a real work of the strange and usual by cross time travel with a ghost story with plenty of gratuity (in pure Charles Band fashion). Ghost Town came into being toward the decline of Empire and as Full Moon was about to rise up out of the Empire ashes. It contains every reason why Empire should have continued and succeeded from a complete understanding that Horror works the best when it’s entertaining (laughs and scares) and holds one of the most memorable covers of my video store going childhood. Scream Factory has been pushing out quite a bit of Empire lately to fan excitement, and this was particularly exciting for me because despite being fully in love with the cover, I had never seen it before.

This is Richard Governor’s only directorial effort and it explains why Empire staple cinematographer Mac Ahlberg’s uncredit involvement in the picture. Ghost Town has moments of pure Western Horror that make you feel as though you might be watching your favorite 80’s vision of the classic wild west mythology, but it bounces around and plays with time too. The problem with the time play is that it’s only moderately effective and sometimes just a little confusing. The concept is brilliant and allows for battle in both modern settings complete with authentic ghost town or traditional Western locations. Duke Sandefur (who worked on the screenplay for Phantom of the Opera from 1989) and my personal favorite David Schmoeller (of Tourist Trap fame) penned some really interesting ideas that carry over nicely to the screen.  The acting is pure cheese fun and the effects are practical and original. The rotting cowboy zombies make for truly frightening baddies.

While the Scream Factory release preserves the original cover art and provides an alternate cover option, it actually has no extras. Not that you need a whole back story on this popcorn flick, but given the success of the Charles Band interview on Ghoulies, I would have enjoyed some words with the man that made Empire great. I like the transfer, but I admittedly have not seen the picture until now. It felt like a good representation of the film, and no obvious flaws.

I’d recommend Ghost Town to fans of the Empire label and to those of you who like cheesy Westerns. I would not praise Ghost Town for its realism, but for its fantastical portrayal of a supernatural town that won’t stay dead. It makes for a great urban legend and provides plenty of eye candy to enjoy from both sexual and practical effects stand points. There’s some grizzly about Ghost Town that punches you in the gut and it still contains the basic elements of a 50’s TV show with modern effects and gratuity.

Not from the Scream Factory Transfer

You can order Ghost Town now from Scream Factory and continue enjoying the Empire that once was. 

From Scream Factory:

A dusty ghost town, seemingly abandoned, holds the lives of its original inhabitants in an animated netherworld for 100 years…

When a modern-day sheriff's deputy is lured to a desolate, spooky ghost town in search of a missing woman, he comes face-to-face with a malevolent spirit from the town's past. The spell of death and suffering over the undead townspeople must end to set them free from eternal pain. The horrors of a possessed outlaw, in a time-suspended dimension are only the setting for a frightening battle for the mind, nerves and flesh.

Starring Franc Luz (The Nest, When Harry Met Sally), Jimmie F. Skaggs (Oblivion, Puppetmaster), Catherine Hickland (Witchery) and Bruce Glover (Diamonds Are Forever, Chinatown, Walking Tall), Ghost Town is an unnerving, white-knuckle walk into the wild, undead west.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (Redemption Blu-ray)

For those of you who follow Redemption releases of Jess Franco films on Blu-ray, this is an easy choice. You simply buy Erotic Rites of Frankenstein and enjoy the transfer and a movie that is as gonzo as the name suggests. What you have here is a bit of black magic ritual meets classic monster movie meets softcore porn embraced in an art film with liberties taken at every moment in the production. It’s a mess… a beautiful, silvery monster mess. This was my first experience with Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, but it is just another shining example of what Franco meant to the world. He embodied the creative spirit of the artist with a camera. He also like monster pictures. He also loved beautiful women. The only thing you could do to create a more perfect piece of enjoyable trash is if you had Frankenstein’s monster fight the Wolfman or Dracula in relation to the titular erotic rites.

What you see is what you get with Erotic Rites of Frankenstein. The name is perfect. You have a silvery monster that resembles some of the early incarnation of the big guy with musculature and bulbous head that make it almost parody. In fact I have seen porn parodies of Frankenstein that seem to indulge a similar vision of the big guy. It isn’t frightening however it does embrace that perfect camp that was near categorical when discussing Universal monsters in the 70’s This is the like the X rated version of the TV show Monster Squad (not the 80’s movie… the show).

Just read the plot of the movie and try to piece together the writing of the story. It comes at you from a variety of directions with various mythologies intertwined and even a strange light scope that allows for the temporary rejuvenation of the dead. Perhaps the only moment of tension in the movie involves the questioning of the deceased Doctor Frank…will he get the damn words out or will he continue with his expository attempt at providing hyperbole to the myth of Cagliostro?

How else would you know this is Franco picture? How about the names of the characters. Doctor Seward (is this an homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula?). Doctor Frankenstein played by Denis Price. He sort of maybe kind of looks a little like another famous doctor… Peter Cushing. This being 1972  post-Hammer Frank would make this the  perfect opportunity capitalize on Cushing’s likeness.  Then of course there’s Cagliostro, a character so strange that it take the entire canon of Frankenstein and throws it out the window. Top it off with Madame Orloff played by Britt Nichols. There’s always an Orloff! This is Franco after all. Mr. Franco makes an appearance as Morpho.

The Redemption cover preserves the traditional poster art. I have always been fond of the Redemption product including the transfers. Video Watchdog's own Tim Lucas does the commentary for this one, and it also includes a trailer.

Order your copy now and don't miss out on possible Halloween costume ideas or Friday night date plans. These are the kinds of "rites" you need in your life. This is essential viewing for you Franco nuts and actually has a narrative that is fairly simple to follow unlike much of Franco's abstract erotic fiction. Plenty of flesh on screen. Plenty of the Frank.

From Redemption:

After the death of Victor Frankenstein (Dennis Price), two figures vie for control of his metallic-skinned monster (Fernando Bilbao) and the radical technology that created him: the scientist's daughter, Vera (Beatriz Savón), and the immortal wizard Cagliostro (Howard Vernon), who is assisted by a blind bird-woman with an unquenchable thirst for blood (Anne Libert).

With THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN, controversial filmmaker Jess Franco merges his fondness for old-school horror with his unique and perverse tastes in sex and violence, partly inspired by the garish adult European comics of the early 1970s.

Extras include:

Audio Commentary by Tim Lucas
Original Theatrical Trailer

All American Bully (Wild Eye Releasing DVD)

I haven’t watched a movie that spoke to my seventeen year old self in quite some time. In the case of All American Bully I relieved at least three instances where I the butt end of  some serious bullying that made me the angry young man I am today. Have I let it go? Maybe not as much I would like. I still remember a pair of lunatic assholes jumping me the parking lot in high school and shredding my Black Flag hat. I also remember not fighting back and saying “forget it” a lot after it happened. I didn’t want to escalate the situation and quite honestly I didn’t know if I could even take one of them  in a fight much less two. I was pretty terrified. What amazes me about All American Bully from Wild Eye Releasing is that it actually seems to show the alternate reality of what could have happened that day if I had put up a fight post-hat destruction. 

From Wild Eye Releasing:

Three friends try to cope after one of them is victimized by a bully, and their lives are slowly torn apart as the they fall deeper into a twisted web of buried secrets, ignorance, and revenge. Through it all, Principal Kane (King) rules her small town high school with an iron fist, teaching harsh lessons to students and faculty alike. The vicious cycle leads to a disturbing and violent conclusion where it turns out no one is truly innocent.

The big draw for this picture seems to be the appearance of Adrienne King, famous for her role in the original Friday the 13th and her delightful wines, but she really only plays a small part in the picture albeit well. The real stars of the show are a group of nerdy, gamer friends who walk to high school together and pretty much epitomize the term outsiders. They are a friendly dork crew with the best of hearts and the best of friendships. You truly feel as though you are watching a group of chums pal around. Of course the other side of the coin, the bullies are just as good. While you won’t know any of the names of any of the performers in this picture, their performances are spot on as ruthless, motivated, animosity filled thugs. With a crew like this there’s always more than meets the eye, and as the movie carries out its almost obvious dirge toward conflict, you’ll see what truly motivates the antagonists beyond an unhealthy love of cocaine.

What resonates for me is the accuracy in this picture. Each aspect of the bully/victim relationship is spot on and each characteristic of the victim and bully nearly match some of my own experiences. An audience who has been in either of these situations should be able to identify with one of the characters easily (for better or for worse). I do take issue with some of the loose ends or underused characters in the picture (the principal and teacher in particular), but it really doesn’t matter once you hit the final act. All American Bully explodes into a violent, emotional storm that doesn’t end until you have to deal with some particular disturbing concepts and a brutal rape. All American Bully displays well that the motives beyond the bully can be just as important as the rights of the victim in trying to quell this type of behavior. It’s easy to identify and empathize with the victim, but All American Bully will ask you to do the same for the attacker. Be prepared for some emotional conflict that you may not actually feel resolved.

You know there’s a bit of an addendum to my “hat story”. I found out later that the two jerks who attacked me carried knives regularly. That they had no conscious about pulling them on people and furthermore that they had done so in the past. When I think about the situation in this picture, the very thing that creates the conflict and ultimately leads our protagonists down a wicked path, it very well could have been the same outcome for me in high school. All American Bully is a hard movie to watch and despite a few minor issues, I think it’s an excellent independent dramatic effort with some moments of really real horror and a pile of young folks who need to be in more movies. Wild Eye Releasing found a particular relevant and well created film in All American Bully. It’s a cautionary tale in part and it’s a story that shows just how complex the human situation can be.

You can order All American Bully now from Wild Eye Releasing. Be warned, this is not a feel good movie and you never get the revenge you think you want (especially as a former victim).

RECKLESS (Artsploitation DVD)

Sometime Artsploitation does Horror. Sometimes Artsploitation does surreal, dark art pictures and sometimes they find movies that are perfect thrillers with evil people doing evil things in complex situations. That’s what we have in their new release Reckless. It’s a kidnap and ransom picture with twists and turns and perfect tension. This is a Dutch production that is based on the 2009 British film directed by J Blakeson, The Disappearance of Alice Creed. While I have not seen the 2009 film, this 2015 release is pretty damn good hitting all the right triggers from sexual drama to bits of dark comedy to madness.

Joram Lürsen gets the maximum performance possible out of three skilled actors who play off each other very well. There are moments of suspense that will have you yelling at the screen and others that will make you gasp as the plot unfolds, smart characters act like amateur morons and victims fight back. Each of our three stars exceeds at creating emotional characters who are each lovable and completely hatable at the same time. Consider Reckless an emotional yo-yo of a picture. Reckless uses sex to rev up your heart and then creates jarring scenes of violence to shock you. Think of this picture as salty and sweet.

The disc does not contain extras and is in Dutch with English subtitles. It’s also a DVD only release. Joram Lürsen is an award winning director who has done television work and other features films, but this is the first time I’ve come across his name. I think it’s a strong effort and hopefully we get to see more from him and more from his cast that performed so well.

From Artsploitation:

Everyone’s heard of inferior American remakes of European films, but this is a real twist: a superior European (Dutch) remake of an English-language (British) film that even improves on the original! RECKLESS [Bloedlink] is a riveting retelling of a story first explored in the 2009 thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed, but director Joram Lürsen’s new version is even more stylish, sexually charged, and tightly wound than its source of inspiration. Laura Temming wakes up to find herself bound to a bed in a sound-insulated vacant apartment. Two masked men strip the clothes from her body, place her in a track suit, and take photos that will be used to obtain ransom money from Laura’s wealthy father. As the clock ticks, Laura discovers that she may have a relationship with one of the kidnappers that she never expected…and that the two men may have a relationship with each other that no one could have expected. With more twists than one could imagine, RECKLESS is ingeniously seductive.

Order Reckless from Artsploitation now.

Some Call It Loving (Etiquette Pictures Blu-ray/DVD)

The year is one for Etiquette Pictures, a newly created venture by the good folks at Vinegar Syndrome geared toward bringing you obscure, artistic and often under appreciated films form yesteryear, restored with the utmost care and delivered in handsome packaging. Having been a supporter of Vinegar Syndrome since their first year, I’m glad to see the hardworking folks behind this outfit branch out into non-exploitation/horror/adult film. It’s a market place that really only has a few players restoring films of this type and vintage and those are either filmmaker focused efforts or more mainstream resto efforts like the good folks at Criterion (mainstream being a relative term here). The first Blu-ray release of any venture of this type should be considered their calling card; this is how the company will do business and what you can expect from quality of transfer, product form and supplementary content. Some Call It Loving is in the spotlight, and while many of you may not have heard of it, it’s unforgettable.

Based on a short story by John Collier, Some Call It Loving’s title conveys the observation you might make as you watch the picture; it shows a life completely unique that is guaranteed to seem just a little wacky. Beyond the opening sequence  that exists in an almost surreal, Jodorwoksian reality where a side show act could involve a “sleeping beauty” for which you may pay a fee to attempt to wake her with a kiss, the movie questions that very nature of love; how love begins and what might consist of a relationship or uncommon connections between individuals in an age after the sexual revolution. You may be uncomfortable with some of the nontraditional roles displayed in Some Call It Loving. Questions of both dominance, polyamory and the nature of true love are all addressed. Unfortunately you might not like just how far the rabbit hole goes; Some Call It Loving wasn’t built for a happy ending. This is a picture that simply walks you through the steps of unconventional love and allows you to see, in an almost cautionary way, how the world works outside of fantasy and idealism. 

I adore the performances by Tisa Farrow and Zalman King. This is well before Farrow went on to become a cult icon of sorts in Fulci’s Zombi and shows that she is as emotive as she is stunning. Zalman King plays the aloof, almost childlike, well financed seeker of love. Love is his mission and his control must be absolute, as if a child’s control over a toy, or he simply hides in the corner and dissolves. I was unfamiliar with King who is a consummate and well respected actor, having only seen him in a few more popular releases. His effort here is on point conveying a feeling of wonderment about love as well as a certain ennui that prevents him from truly understanding attachment as more than a physical connection. The big name on this one is Richard Pryor who plays a junkie and the best friend of our protagonist. He is the mirror by which we can better understand King’s character. Pryor’s dialogue is comedic; it’s sad and sweet and you’ll love and worry about him.

Great gobs of jazz music and soft focus are the predominant sensual aspects on screen and through the speakers. The “Sleeping Beauty theme” by Bob Harris is mesmerizing as is the music composed by Richard Hazard.  This is an art picture. For fans of Vinegar Syndrome’s work you’ll notice that this is a more highbrow. It’s conveys concept beyond an over saturation with physical gratuity. Be prepared to think a bit. Be prepared to feel a bit. The transfer is on par with the efforts from Vinegar Syndrome, the transfer and restoration looking gorgeous. The case takes notes from the Criterion Collection packaging, which while it does not necessarily convey a sense of defining Etiquette Pictures, it does offer a reliable and well-groomed case and presentation.  The booklet including essay and notes on transfer are included and both Blu-ray and DVD are provided. The cover art is a bit abstract which is unique to this release and may be the best example of defining Etiquette Pictures outside of their content selection.  Refined and tasteful yet challenging.

From Etiquette:

EP-001: Some Call It Loving
1972 / Director: James B. Harris
Blu-ray / DVD Release date = July 14th, 2015

In this modern day re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty, a disillusioned musician named Robert (Zalman King) obtains a carnival act from a sleazy carny and brings home a young girl (Tisa Farrow) who has been asleep for many years. After bringing her to his secluded castle and awakening her with a kiss, Robert tries to introduce her to his strange and magical world, but as their relationship develops Jennifer begins to pine for a life that is more complex than Robert can offer.

Director James B. Harris (Cop, Fast Walking) combines magical realism with sumptuous visuals by cinematographer Mario Tosi (Carrie, The Stunt Man) and a haunting score by Richard Hazzard (Xanadu, Terms of Endearment) to create a poetic love story like no other. Etiquette Pictures brings this forgotten masterpiece to Blu-ray and DVD for the very first time, in a new, Director & Cinematographer approved 2K restoration from the 35mm camera negative.

Extras include:

Special Features (on both DVD & Blu):
Commentary with Director James B. Harris
Video Featurette with Director James B. Harris
Video Featurette with Cinematographer Mario Tosi
Extensive Outtakes with Commentary
Reversible Cover w/ original French art
English SDH Subtitles

From Etiquette Pictures:

Make sure to enjoy the Etiquette Pictures website as well as follow them on social media for updates about future releases.

Dead Air Podcast: Episode 86 - Vendetta (2015)

This week on the show, Jeff (@DeadAirJeff), Jesse (@DestroySuperman), and Chad (@HorrorMovieBBQ talks about 90s direct-to-video action movies, why Sean Penn is ridiculous, why INSIDE OUT gives Jesse the feels, why DOPE is dope, and they review the Soska Sisters' latest film, VENDETTA.

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The Dead Air Horror & Genre Podcast is brought to you by GenreWatch,The Liberal Dead, and Horror Movie BBQ. Be sure to visit the sites for more great content!

Looking to order any of the titles we discussed on this show? Head on over to Amazon for the best prices and help support our show.

And, as always, if you want to drop us a line to let us know what you think of any of the movies discussed tonight, or you just want to give us feedback on the podcast in general, please send an email to DeadAirHorrorPodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dead Air: Episode 85 - Jurassic World (2015)

This week on the show, Jeff (@DeadAirJeff) and Jesse (@DestroySupermantalk about high heels, stupid controversies, feeling like a kid again, and why 3D isn't always terrible (among other topics)... Oh, and they also review the gigantic money machine that is JURASSIC WORLD.

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The Dead Air Horror & Genre Podcast is brought to you by GenreWatch,The Liberal Dead, and Horror Movie BBQ. Be sure to visit the sites for more great content!

Looking to order any of the titles we discussed on this show? Head on over to Amazon for the best prices and help support our show.

And, as always, if you want to drop us a line to let us know what you think of any of the movies discussed tonight, or you just want to give us feedback on the podcast in general, please send an email to DeadAirHorrorPodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Check out this episode!

Anticipation and Flesh Pond (Vinegar Syndrome DVD) - Peekarama Double Feature - Tobalina Inside

For the next Vinegar Syndrome Peekarama double feature we have yet another glimpse into the stark-raving-orgy mind of Carlos Tobalina. Each time we get together and have the chance to watch a double feature of classic Tobalina is a special time when we get to discuss places like San Francisco, great opening credit scores and orgies, orgies, orgies. As usual the traditional poster art is preserved on the cover for both movies with Peekarama banner. The two movies are Anticipation and Flesh Pond. One is about the joys of infidelity; the other is about kidnapping and fucking. It’s a strange combination filled with pure Tobalina goodness.


From Vinegar Syndrome:

Erotic intrigue comes to a full boil in this story of two brothers who find themselves in a sticky situation when they begin lusting after each other’s wives!
D: Carlos Tobalina / 1981 / 82 min / Color / 1.85:1

Operating under the pseudonym Troy Benny you can instantly tell this is a Tobalina movie whether his name is on the feature or not. A wide, opening shot of the Golden Gate Bridge… must be Tobalina. Plenty of sexy, suave, 70’s fuck music to enjoy from the get go. The focus on the movie is on what excellent bedfellows the spouse of your significant other makes. It’s pure infidelity from the outset with a lesson in fatherly advice that gives way to a half Latin/half Japanese bang session. Father always knows best and in this case, he’s right about his wife’s unfaithful nature.

What may seem like a potential moral tale turns into an every married individual out for themselves. The pairings are as varied as the couples involved and, as you may have guessed, there’s only one way to end this… orgy. It’s nice that the groups in the prevailing orgy are varied rather than a stagnant collection of actors (more on that when we get to Flesh Pond). Of course you get more characteristic Tobalina goodness with a great bar set up featuring a Schlitz lamp (Carlos always gets the best bars).  He’s set whole fuck sessions in bars; I suppose it requires expertise to find unique dives like this.

Unexpected Groucho Marx glasses, instant replay and a fella who looks like David Hess make for pure novelty as Anticipation winds down. What’s more is that this picture ends with an almost feel good ending featuring an old couple, cuddling being a “happy family”. The whole time I kept thinking, are they going to get it on and will it be with their kids? They don’t, but the fact that I thought there was a possibility shows the kind of debauch present in 70’s adult features. This is depravity. This is Tobalina.

Flesh Pond

From Vinegar Syndrome:

Two men escape from a county jail and hold a group of beautiful swingers hostage in a remote brothel. As sexual chaos ensues, can anyone stop the orgies before it’s too late?
D: Carlos Tobalina / 1983 / 78 min / Color / 1.85:1

Some truly unique blue lingerie gives way to a rustic scene at gun point. How am I supposed to know that this is a Tobalina picture if there’s not opening wide angle shot of San Fran? It’s as if someone said, “Carlos, all your movies start with wide angle shots of San Francisco. Maybe you should give a different locale a try so that people feel like their watching a different movie.” So how does one tell if a picture is a Tobalina film? Orgy. If all is lost and you truly can’t find your way, let group sex be your guide.

One of the most awkward scenes you can watch in a picture is a sexy woman in an unusual hipster dress fuck a fake man… in multiple positions… for a long time. I suppose if you’re being held captive, this is something you’ve gotta try, and if you really want to take it as a “glass half full” sort of way, at least it’s instructional. Follow that with an orgy…. A long… drawn out… orgy. Very long. I mean we’re talking long. Insert a back story about the escapees that are holding our beloved victims captive, more doll sex then… you guessed it… orgy. I suppose given the recent New York prison break debacle, this movie almost has significance an starts to feel less dated.

Throughout the whole mess of flesh (or perhaps a flesh pond as it were) the lady in the blue lingerie is the favorite, the one to watch with the boniest ass you’ve ever seen on an adult movie star. Some of the music the ensues is straight out of Sesame Street or perhaps a department store which is up beat but moderately in appropriate. There are very few opportunities for non-orgy sex.

If you like big cocks and big, furry bushes come on over to the pond and stay awhile. I assure you this thing has a happy ending and everyone gets good and fucked. So as we stated in the opening to this review, no shot of San Fran, but the whole goddamn thing is an orgy. I suppose there’s some kind of Zen like balance in that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Contamination (Arrow Blu-ray) - Get Your Pods Ready!

Guys I feel weird saying this, but I like Contamination better than I like the original Alien. That’s a bold statement. I can’t fully explain except that the original Alien is clearly the scarier movie, but as some of you may know, entertainment is what I crave. I don’t necessarily need to be scared to enjoy a picture and between some of the most fun splatter effects of any early 80’s picture, Ian McCullouch in the lead and Cozzi in the director seat as well as Goblin’s score setting the mood. This is what Italian Horror is all about. Taking a proven concept and then making it just fun as Hell. Arrow Video is releasing Contamination in an amazing package, available in the US and UK, breaking the chains of its Video Nasty status.

Let’s talk about the extras for a minute. It includes newly translated subtitles (typically there’s a reason for the new translation though I’m not familiar with the specifics off-hand). The disc includes commentary from Fango editor, Chris Alexander who has been making the rounds to do commentaries and intros for all your favorite Italian and Euro Horror classics. Some of you balk at that idea because you haven’t been into Fangoria for years, but I can assure you that Alexander knows his stuff. His editorials on Italian Horror and his commentary always provide insight into the release and display the kind of passion that you’d want in a fan commentary. I may not always enjoy popular horror sites, but I do enjoy Fangoria because they have strong leadership in Chris Alexander (even if we disagree at times). Alexander also wrote the editorial for the accompanying booklet. Beyond that you get an archived making of featurette with director Cozzi as well as an in depth look back at one of the Italian master’s careers. If that’s not enough Cozzi the disc includes an informative Q&A with Cozzi and McCulloch.

Perhaps the most important thing for Italian Horror/Action fans is the featurette about the Italian copycat game. With the new Eli Roth cannibal feature coming out and movies like Witchery and Ghosthouse seeing proper Blu-ray releases you’ll want to understand the game. These little features are what makes Arrow releases special. They create educated movie watchers and better fans. Also dear to my heart is the discussion of the soundtrack by the keyboardist from Goblin. Remember that I’m a bit of a soundtrack junkie, so anything referencing this especially great score is a must watch. Remember that parts of this score were co opted without permission for use in Hell of the Living Dead which just saw it’s Blu-ray release in the US via Blue Underground. The music should be familiar to you.

The transfer is superb. This movie demands great color saturation based on the effects work, and it looks phenomenal. The grain structure looks great. It’s clear. It’s free from digitization (to the best of my naked, unpretentious eye). Another strong visually stunning release from a company that knows how to do transfers.

It is also worth noting that the newly commissioned Gary Pullin cover art is also a treat for the fanboy in all of us. Sure you get the traditional artwork on the reverse, but I think Pullin’s is better in this instance.

The movie itself is jam packed with a fairly standard mystery plot that relies on effects on tried and true Italian movie stars that create a fun world in which to have an alien adventure. Despite the influence of Alien on this picture, the two movies are completely different save for a few choice of effects and visual cues. The movie appears lighter and less menacing, happening in your everyday world rather than on the confines of a space ship. It almost pairs perfectly with Bohus’ Deadly Spawn in that it is an effects driven nightmare. Every kill is superb and the finale is filled with a dark lair that may not the planet in Alien, but it certainly feels like a game of Contra being live action performed in front of your very eyes.

So Alien is scarier, but Contamination aka Alien Contamination aka Toxic Spawn is just more fun. It has suspenseful moments that work in a horrific way and effects that allow you to enjoy the practical mastery of the Italians. Can you imagine what they would have gotten with stop animation instead of the animatronics? The extra package is exhaustive. The actual physical packaging and booklet are gorgeous. The movie looks fantastic. Get nasty with Contamination. Enjoy exploding alien pods! This is why Cozzi is great (even if he wasn’t allowed to use Caroline Munro).

From Arrow:

Synopsis: Branded as a “video nasty” in the UK, director Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination takes the premise of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and peppers it with exploding guts galore and a dangerously infectious soundtrack from celebrated Italian prog-rockers Goblin (Deep Red, Suspiria).

A cargo ship drifts up the Hudson River. Its crew: all dead, their bodies horribly mutilated, turned inside out by an unknown force. Its freight: boxes upon boxes of glowing, pulsating green eggs. It soon becomes clear that these eggs are not of this planet, and someone intends to cultivate them here on Earth. But who? And to what end?
Starring Italian horror veteran Ian McCulloch (Zombie Flesh Eaters), Contamination is an ultra-violent sci-fi epic that really gets under the skin. In space, no one can hear you scream – but on Earth, the terror rings loud and clear!

Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Contamination super-fan Chris Alexander
Notes on Science-Fiction Cinema: An archive documentary featuring behind-the-scenes footage and director Luigi Cozzi on the birth of Contamination
2014 Q&A with Cozzi and star Ian McCulloch
Sound of the Cyclops: Goblin's Maurizio Guarini on the music of Contamination - the Goblin keyboardist discusses Contamination's dark, progressive rock score and a lifetime making music for Italian terror
Luigi Cozzi vs. Lewis Coates - a brand new interview with the director in which he discusses his filmmaking career from past to present
Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery: A Critical Analysis of the Italian Cash-In - a brand new featurette looking at the Italian gerne movies which sought to cash-in on popular Hollywood blockbusters
Theatrical Trailer
Graphic Novel based on the original Contimanation screenplay [Disc Gallery]
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
Fully-illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Alexander

Night of the Strangler (Vinegar Syndrome DVD) or Watch Mickey Dolenz Drink J&B

Hey hey it’s the strangler, and people say he strangles around… I mean or not at all. Night of The Strangler is somewhat of a misnomer when it comes what the killer in the picture actually does. Good thing for you is that this plays out like a low budget slasher film (though you’ll note the year is 1972 which puts it before Black Christmas) with at least one interesting cast member (see if you can guess who from the opening sentence/song) with some interesting kills an overall dirty, gritty, grindy feel that epitomizes that late 70’s deuce. Fans of the new grindhouse, meet the old grindhouse. Vinegar Syndrome continues their partnership with the AGFA library to bring you a pre-slasher, murder romp with a hefty twist.

In case you haven’t guessed who are actor du jour is, it’s Mickey Dolenz. Yes, that Mickey Dolenz. From The Monkees…. You heard me right.  Once you see him in this post-TV show/band film you’ll wonder if you can ever take Night of the Strangler seriously. Now Dolenz has done plenty of acting and voice work outside of The Monkees, so it shouldn’t be as if he was just a one hit wonder and then fell off the face of the planet. Dolenz does comedy well, but his dramatic acting comes off like comedy. When he’s on screen in Night of the Strangler, you are pretty much forced to laugh. Good thing for you, his role in the picture is somewhat limited. For the novelty of his appearance alone you can pick up this one and feel satisfied with the watch, but it’s actually a great movie.

If you can get past the Monkee in the room than you’ll have to also get past the racial slurs with the incessant use of the phrase “nigga lovin’”. It can put you out. In the first ten minutes I was wondering if this thing could get beyond novelty actor #1 and uncomfortable n-word usage. It’s a great thing that people start dying soon thereafter. The killings are racially motivated and almost has a bit of the old Toolbox Murders feel. There’s a great bathtub kill scene that really sets the grind tone. Night of the Strangler has a strong endgame with nice surprise.

The transfer is good, but the source material is marred up. This is a DVD release from Vinegar Syndrome, and I think it shows the limitation of preservation/restoration efforts. There’s some damage to the print. Fortunately it can actually lend itself to making the movie feel filthier and thus more effective. The movie itself suffers from focus issues and low light, but it’s not related to the transfer of the film; that’s simply the way the movie was made.

Just a warning to ye old animal lovers… a snake gets it… for real. Also, for fans of the gialli, enjoy Dolenz hitting the J&B hard.  Joy N. Houck Jr. made Night of Bloody Horror and Women and Bloody Terror before jumping into this thriller with a bit of a moral message. Houck then immediately went back to Creature from the Black Lake. I guess Joy found his calling in strange monster pictures rather than more realistic psycho thrillers.

From Vinegar Syndrome:

Interracial baby-makers vs. insanely racist strangle-ragers in this southern-fried whodunnit hatewave. Everyone’s second favorite Monkee (Micky Dolenz) stars in Louisiana’s premier bloodletting blowout: Guns! Knives! Drowning! Venomous snakes! Absolutely zero strangling! It’s a sweat-soaked, sleazoid slay-ride through segregated ’70s slaughter!

Now available on DVD for the first time ever in its original aspect ratio!

The American Genre Film Archive houses one of the world’s best collections of 35mm exploitation prints and now Vinegar Syndrome is bringing the weirdest, rarest and most outrageous movies in their archive to DVD!

D: Joy N. Houck Jr. / 1972 / 90 min / Color / 1.85:1

Features Include:

+ DVD | Region Free | 1.85:1 OAR
+ Restored in 2k from a rare 35mm theatrical print

Crypt of the Living Dead and House of the Living Dead (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray) - Limited Edition

1970’s monster horror is a strange batch. Where it tries to be traditional focusing on some of the better creature features of yesteryear almost riding Hammer’s coattails to try to get some of that Universal gold from the 40’s, often times the budgets didn’t meet the expectation of the viewer. That beings said some of these meager productions create haunting images due to their budgetary restraint. Production value you can yield the creeps. Just ask fans of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. No budget. Great looking zombies (and by great I mean creep). For a Spanish production filmed in Turkey this release has some strong locations and distinctive style. You’d almost expect it as a part of the Drive-In collection from Vinegar Syndrome, but it gets the Blu treatment.

Crypt of the Living Dead has some of the best classic piano horror music you’ll hear with perfect stings. It really sets the proper tone for this no budget vamp production. While the movie opens incredible strong with a solid decapitation that shows ingenuity and the fun spirit of the grue lover, the middle ground leaves something to be desired as the film tries to find what drove Hammer and Universal to success.

I was unfamiliar with Directors Julio Salvador and Ray Danton. While both had modest careers, Danton’s TV work seemed to have accelerated after this production, having worked on everything from TJ Hooker to the Incredible Hulk. Immediately following this release Danton would Direction The Psychic Killer. For Salvador this was the end game. He had previously done a number of Spanish production but would only go on to write two more films after Crypt of the Living Dead, Love Brides of the Bloody Mummy (which has a simply fantastic title) and Touch Me Not. Perhaps the most notable attachment to this project was Andrew Prine in the lead. His connection to Horror and Exploitation cinema is nearly legendary especially with roles in Simon, King of the Witches, Nightmare Circus and Grizzly (though he’s probably known better for his non-genre work).

The effects are pure cheese and aside from the slow moments, but this is all Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray with gorgeous transfer consisting of a fabulous grain structure preserved in digital form. The choice of movie for restoration to Blu-ray is an interesting one. While I have definitely enjoyed the over the top poster art over the years, it’s not a movie that stuck out to me as especially strong. You can also look it up under its alternative title, Hannah, Queen of the Vampires.

On the other hand there’s House of the Living Dead, the second feature on this Blu-ray. Where Crypt of the Living Dead may be a strong suit for low budget creep-outs, House of the Living Dead is pure grilled cheese. What would you expect from a movie that feature primate kidnapping, mad scientists, an old witch and music so dramatic it could only have been composed for a made for TV movie. Director Ray Austin did quite a bit of TV after working on House of the Living Dead aka Curse of the Dead, but before this release he worked on Virgin Witch, a widely praise cult favorite (available through Redemption Films). This is most likely my first South African Horror film and I feel like I’d be hard pressed to find another that I enjoyed as much for all its faults.

This a perfect Hammer copycat that also seems to have hints of The Asphyx only not sophisticated enough to handle either duty. House is a period piece drama that gives way to some old fashion practical effects, perfect red blood, organs that play themselves mysteriously in true haunted house fashion and a final act that’s pure madness. Once House of the Living Dead gets out of its own way it actually becomes somewhat effective with creepy organ music that haunts.

While I can’t help but think that the title for this release should have been Beethoven Does Color Light Chemistry, it has a distinctive look, enough gonzo to keep you laughing and visually entertained while having some of the most memorable facial expressions and forced exclamation point dialogue I’ve seen in a movie from the early 70’s. The final word… if you complained about the horse in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II I beg you to figure this one out!

From Vinegar Syndrome: 

This release is limited to just 2,000 units. Limit two copies per customer.

After arriving on a remote island to bury his father, a young American engineer (Andrew Prine) opens the crypt of a vampire queen. He inadvertently unleashes a terrible and violent force of evil on the unsuspecting townspeople, making them fight for their lives, while a few townsfolk aren’t who they appear to be. Vinegar Syndrome brings the U.S. theatrical version to blu-ray, scanned and restored in 2k from a newly exhumed 35mm negative. Open the tomb and re-discover CRYPT OF THE LIVING DEAD!

D: Julio Salvador & Ray Danton / 1973 / 85 min / Color / 1.85:1

In the seemingly peaceful and rural colonial vineyards of South Africa, a mad scientist plots to steal people’s souls and place them into jars for eternity. To complete his twisted experiments, he begins to undertake a bloody rampage in the nearby countryside. Who can stop this madman, and what other terrible secrets does he hide? Who knows what other horrors you will discover in HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD!

D: Ray Austin / 1974 / 88 min / Color / 1.85:1

Features Include:

+ Blu-ray/DVD Combo | Region Free | 1.85:1 OAR
+ All content included on both dual-layer Blu-ray and DVD
+ Restored in 2k from 35mm negatives
+ Original theatrical trailer for COTLD
+ Alternate title card for COTLD
+ Bonus feature film: HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD
+ English SDH Subtitles for both films

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Flying Acquaintances (Vinegar Syndrome DVD)

It doesn’t take much to hook me on an adult feature that has any sort of a narrative. I’m typically guaranteed a peeper’s eye view of at least SOMETHING worth watching. In this instance, the case for Flying Acquaintances, the presence of my favorite male porn star, Jamie Gillis, was a great hook. This is a particularly domestic and somewhat dated sex comedy that features some very silly stereotypes that would hardly seem appropriate to include today. First and foremost Flying Acquaintances is a hook up movie about people simply trying to woo each other into the sack while going about their busy daily life. In that, you get a clear cut vision of the 1970’s albeit with a pornographers hand on the lens. Vinegar Syndrome brings this odd piece of American history to your home movie screen on DVD. It’s got plenty of subtle nuisances to keep you entertained while you wait for some closer to softcore lovin’ (by modern porn standards)

The narrative is fairly basic but works. This isn’t a Tobalina love fest where the primary plot device is how to get to the next orgy. It’s an aggressive sexual picture though not quite as hardcore as you’d expect from the cast. The focus of Flying Acquaintances is on the comedic moments that surround sex. Everyone answer the phone during sex (and there’s a series of light blue rotary phones that could be predict Viagra). There are flight announcements and instructions during a sex scene with a stewardess. I urge you to pay attention to the sign on the wall and some of the dialogue in this scene. Very funny stuff.

One of the more memorable moments finds a dorky fella who meets this hottie on the street and they fuck to French  or Italian bistro music. It’s like a sexual version of Lady and the Tramp… without dogs… or food. Combine that with one of the goofiest sex scenes between an older woman who teaches a younger man how bump uglies with lesbian finish, and you have an assortment of unique situations from which to caress your libido. Strangely enough the movie doesn't truly follow a main thread. It bounces around from story to story as if it were almost an anthology picture.

It’s a nice transfer on DVD though it is extra-lite.

Hey, have you ever wanted to watch a woman seduce her TV watching husband while wearing a hard hate while drinking PBR (fuck Heineken)? You can order Flying Acquaintances from Vinegar Syndrome now. Despite its softer leanings and lack of extreme genital close ups, this is still an adult feature. Best to leave this one to the adults. Hell, the younger crowd wouldn’t get it anyway with a rotary phone mid-coitus.

From Vinegar Syndrome

Meet New York’s most sexually charged circle of friends. There’s the stewardess who can’t wait to try every cockpit in the city. There’s the cabdriver who takes beautiful women for the rides of their lives. There’s the nosey neighbors who can’t get enough of the non-stop sounds of love from next door. Meet all of them and many more in the lost until now sexploitation rarity, FLYING ACQUAINTANCES, newly restored from the 35mm negative and coming to home video for the first time!

D: Robert Steiner / 1973 / 78 min / Color / 1.85:1

Features Include:

+ DVD | Region Free | 1.85:1 OAR
+ Restored in 2k from 35mm camera negative
+ Original theatrical
+ Extensive outtakes
+ Promotional Still Gallery

Dark Summer (Scream Factory Blu-ray)

Dark Summer is the newest installment in horror pictures that focus on a young audience and their dilemmas. In this instance we follow a young man who gets put on house arrest for stalking a classmate and then the supernatural occurrences that turn the tables on our protagonist. It’s a novel film for this age and one that should be enjoyed by old and young audiences with plenty of frights and so much to learn. Though the premise can be unbelievable at times, once we realize we are in the land of fable, we are allowed to let our mind soak up the message, appreciate the darker aspects and often divisive urges we have as well as some pretty filmmaking. Scream Factory releases another successful new effort with this great looking Blu-ray.

Dark Summer is a cautionary tale; don’t stalk your classmates or something or someone will stalk you right back. Of course it’s almost romantic and sweet especially when you take into the consideration the relationship our stalker has with his close friends. This friendship actually allows you to feel sympathy for our protagonist while allowing you to form a strong bond with the character rather than expect a prudent revenge be visited upon him for his own criminal behavior. Dark Summer is just that… dark. It’s brooding and it has plenty of little pop scares that work.  Keir Gilchrist has been working up to this kind of role especially with how much I enjoyed him in It Follows.

This disc is packed with extras that add to the discussion about the motivation behind the characters and the creating of this scare flick. It’s a modern movie shot in HD and looks good on Blu-ray.

You can order Dark Summer now. It’s for lovers you know… or maybe for interested parties who like to stalk each other romantically.

From Scream Factory

This truly frightening, modern ghost story follows Daniel Williamson (Keir Gilchrist of It Follows, United States Of Tara and Dead Silence), a 17-year-old boy under house arrest for cyber-stalking a classmate. With his mother away on business, obsessive Daniel flirts with the idea of reconnecting with the classmate, Mona (Grace Phipps of Fright Night). But fate has different ideas for him when Mona is driven to desperate measures and Daniel discovers that someone – or something – is now stalking him. With the tables turned, Daniel becomes trapped in a house he cannot leave… with a malicious presence he can't escape.

Features include

Audio Commentary With Director Paul Solet
Atmosphere And Style Featurette
Director Paul Solet Featurette
The Art Of Dark Summer Featurette
The Music Of Dark Summer Featurette
A Conversation With Peter Stormare Featurette
The Kids - Cast Interviews
Theatrical Trailer

Alien Outpost (Scream Factory Blu-ray)

I have to admit I was concerned. After watching Monsters: Dark Continent after thoroughly enjoying the original Monsters only to realize I was in for a bro-war-pic shoot em up, minimal alien anything flick, I was worried that Alien Outpost would be the same exact thing. We’re talking about a fighting force in the future that is trying thwart a war on terror and war against extraterrestrials. It could have been easy to lose the aliens inside the subplot for the pure Earthbound problems of the warrior of the future. That’s not the case. Scream Factory and IFC Midnight continue their partnership with a Blu-ray release of Alien Outpost.

Alien Outpost is slow to start, but I assure you eventually there’s some noteworthy action. The alien invader that makes a screen cameo after the thirty minute mark reminds me of something out of 1950’s alien picture, a standalone stoic bad ass with some gnarly makeup and suit. It’s almost unbelievable which keeps the fun going long into the movie. While not much can be said of the actual intra-human issues they only serve to distract from the battle between human an alien. This is the kind of movie that can set up a powerful, effects driven sequel, especially if you stick around to the end and see which side wins (are there any winners in intergalactic warfare?).

The disc looks great and includes some bonus material in keeping with the Scream Factory model. The cover is a modern one which I find to be less than exciting (I prefer retro art for something like this), but don’t let it deter you from checking it out. It’s worth a watch and adds nicely to current trends in alien horror pictures. It does demonstrate nicely how the problems of our world exist in the future and alongside new problems from outside our world and the difficulty in managing them together.

You can order Alien Outpost (also known as Outpost 37) now.

Audio Commentary By Director/Co-Writer Jabbar Raisani And Director Of Photography/Co-Writer Blake Clifton
Interviews With Cast And Crew
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer

From Scream Factory:

2021: An invading race of aliens known as the Heavies are narrowly defeated in the First Earth War. But thousands of them were left behind as a new war on terror rages. In the aftermath, a series of remote operating bases are created to defend the planet. Three Seven is the deadliest, positioned in the most hostile place on Earth.

A documentary film crew is sent to record daily life in Outpost 37, where the men, led by hardened commander Captain Spears (Rick Ravanello, Dark Haul), are under constant enemy fire. When a member of the crew disappears during a Heavy ambush, the unit launches a raid deep into enemy territory to rescue him… and make a terrifying discovery.

Directed by Jabbar Raisani (Visual Effects Supervisor on Game Of Thrones, Machete, Predators), this explosive actioner is a non-stop barrage on the senses and a first-rate science-fiction masterpiece.

GHOSTHOUSE and Witchery (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Mi Casa es La Casa 3 and 4

You look at Ghosthouse and Witchery and find two very different movies with supernatural elements directed by two different filmmakers. You ask why they are on a double feature together and the answer appears to be only one, they are Italian Horror movies from the 80’s. The fact that the two movies appear to be completely otherwise unrelated may irk you at first, and the fact that Ghosthouse is a mesmerizing terror tale while Witchery is a goof-off picture featuring the Hoff may make you feel just a little strange about trying to double feature them in the same evening. You’d almost be better off pairing Ghosthouse with Lommel’s Boogeyman and saving the double feature of Witchery for Grotesque or maybe Hell Night to preserve the Linda Blair-isms. I assure you folks that there is a connection far greater than the sum of these two pictures that demands them be released together.

Do you watch Italian Horror? If you do than you know that the Italians do two things really well, adapt popular, successful Hollywood stories to their own gratuitous devices AND create sequels. Sequels in name only of course. For Italian Horror Week at DOCTERROR.COM we’ve focused on this issue to the point where you can try to follow certain series in chronological order only to find yourself as lost as if you read the entire RL Stein Fear Street series from start to finishing expecting a running thread. In the case of Ghosthouse and Witchery we find this to be the case and the perfect reason to have a double feature Blu-ray pair the two (although I would still recommend the aforementioned double feature suggestions). Ghosthouse and Witchery as part of the infamous La Casa series. The only series more convoluted than the La Casa series is the Demons series (which is a tale for another day).

Things you’ll want to know about this series:

-  It was “created” to capitalize off the success of Evil Dead 1 and 2, released as La Casa and La Casa 2 respectively in Italy.

- The third installment directed by the great Umberto Lenzi (famous for his cannibal films and splatter flicks) is Ghosthouse which took the naming convention of the Evil Dead pictures in Italy to ride their coattails.

- The fourth installment is also produced by the great Italian smut peddler Joe D’Amato (that is a term of endearment) who further tried to carry the success of the Evil Dead franchise to his own Hasselhoffian effort. This one is directed by Fabrizio Laurenti who was also responsible for The Crawlers (also released by Scream Factory on an All Night Horror Marathon four pack). The Crawlers of course has its own sequel misdirected history in its alternate title Troll 3 (no real relation)

- La Casa 5 is Beyond Darkness, produced by D’Amato, directed by Claudio Fragasso… you know… the guy who directed Troll 2.

- La Casa 6 is House 2… figure that out!

- La Casa 7 is… you guessed it… Horror Show aka House III aka a totally unrelated movie to the American movie House 2 much less the La Casa series or Evil Dead.

It’s almost imperative that these movies are released together. Now if you Scream Factory would release some kind of definitive release of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 (they already have plans for Army of Darkness which is unrelated to La Casa series) and then release House 2 on Blu-ray having already released Horror Show on Blu-ray they’d have the whole damn set! You’d almost want a box set release for the La Casa series. You probably should fan-create one if they get them all  under the Scream Factory banner.

Now that you have context for this double feature, let’s move on to the individual titles.

Ghosthouse is a fan favorite for Italian Horror fans. I know people who collect versions of this (and the other La Casa series actually), but this one stands out as their favorite. It’s got supernatural elements that are frightening and mystical as well as a ghostly girlie with a creepy clown. As we all know, clowns scare the pants off of everyone especially those who remember a similar clown toy from Poltergeist. As I said before, the strangely ghostly presence in Ghosthouse almost has a feeling of a more lighthearted Boogeyman. It isn’t exactly filth or raunchy but stylistically it’s all Italian embodying some of the great aspects of successful horror pictures with original twists that make it feel like a new movie. We’re not talking about Cruel Jaws where the movie intercuts scenes from the original Jaws, just aspects of the movie that may feel familiar to Horror fans of the 80’s. Add in a strange use of sound effects and an Italian Horror score that is worth a listen.

Note: the house in Ghosthouse… the same house located in Connecticut used in Fulci’s House by the Cemetery. It’s great to see how the old place has stood the test of two horror pictures.

Witchery on the other hand isn’t exactly a favorite of mine. Yes, I can appreciate the fun and camp that comes along with putting David Hasselhoff in a horror picture especially with Linda Blair in all her late 80’s horror glory, but it stylistically feels plain Jane. It doesn’t carry that gusto that you’d come to expect from 80’s Italian Horror, and it’s probably the director’s fault. Fabrizio Laurenti doesn’t have much in the way of theatrical releases to his name. He did TV in Italy and his other “big hit” was The Crawlers which has a certain fan base but ultimately has a better cover than it does a storyline. There are moments of unintentional comedy that will carry the “bad movie” crew through this one easily, but for those of you seeking a true horror movie or even a good representation of an Italian Horror movie, best to stick with Ghosthouse first and drink beers during Witchery.

This double feature is available now from Scream Factory. It’s essential for the Italian Horror collector with good looking transfer for both movies (better than maybe Witchery deserved). Ghosthouse looks gorgeous.

From Scream Factory:

Clown dolls. Witches. Hasselhoff. What more could you want?

Prepare yourself for one of the most bizarre double bills imaginable with Ghosthouse and Witchery! Released in Italy as part of the infamous La Casa series, these two highly unusual horror films are essential viewing for fans of Cult Cinema.


Your tour of terror begins with Ghosthouse, in which a group of visitors to a seemingly-deserted home find themselves tormented by demonic spirits – including one particularly freaky little girl and her creepy clown companion. Soon, our hapless heroes find themselves powerless to conquer the evil of the Ghosthouse – where death holds the mortgage and if you move in… there'll be Hell to pay!


Then, a new address brings new frights as the immortal David Hasselhoff and The Exorcist's Linda Blair turn up the terror in Witchery. When a terrible storm leaves a motley assortment of people stranded on an island resort, they soon find they have more to worry about than not packing rain gear! A horrible witch unleashes her wrath on the unwanted visitors – and no one is safe from her unquenchable thirst for death!

Ghosthouse. Witchery. A duplex of doom, brought to you on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Scream Machine (Deadly Indie DVD)

Junkfood Horror Fest. Death by VHS. Horroroma, Nightmare Ally. I love the titles of these movies, but try as I might I have not enjoyed a single one. In fact Death by VHS pissed me off. Not many movies actually get me mad enough to :gasp: shut a movie off. I usually watch em all to the end whether they're terrible or not. I'm pretty sure that at the end of my life I'm going to have to account in some way for all the time I wasted reviewing movies that should have been shut off in the first five minutes. My life might be more productive; for all I know the precious moments wasted on movies that I despise may be the very same moments in which I could have created a truly magnificent presence in the horror-verse. You guys remember the Nightmare Ally review crisis, right? When a reviewer negatively reviewed Nightmare Ally and was subsequently attack on repeat by the filmmaker? It sort of made the filmmaker a pariah. It created bad blood in certain circles and quite frankly I wouldn't want to review one of his pictures either if I was to be met with an amplified hatred and disdain for my honest opinion. Until now... Consider this a sort of suicide by cop.

Scream Machine (not to be confused with the roller coast at Six Flags) is an anthology of five short horror stories pasted together with horror host-esque segues. When Lloyd Kaufman does the introduction for your movie and it's not being distributed by Troma and he has to look at a paper for a second to remember the title, you can only imagine the schlock that is about to befall your poor brain. I love Lloyd and Lloyd is a staple of independent film cameos these days which is truly something that I admire him for. He's giving back (paid or not). I've met him once, and his energy is super fun, his charisma is insurmountable and his salesmanship is carnival barker-lite. There are warning signs when you watch horror pictures and those are especially important to look out for when watching indie flicks. You can have a "scene missing" or "reel missing" in the middle of your picture at a key moment but to randomly place it in the middle of a digital camera image without comedic effect... well, let's just say that milk right there may have expired. So within the first the first minute you have TWO warning signs. Kaufman in a non-starring role and a cheap grindhouse gimmick that mocks one of my favorite eras in film history (and Ruether's next effort is called Grindsploitation! Fuck me running covered in gasoline while holding a lit blowtorch).

The credit sequence has back masked vocals over a heavy organ score that sounds monsterfic but canned. You won't be familiar with the cast save for maybe Walter Ruether III who is Scarlet Fry, but you'll get all of their names in alphabetical order on a black background. Credit sequences like this are the movie equivalent of leaving your fly down. We can see what color briefs you're wearing.

Now the introduction and segues are quite funny starring "Dr. Fry" in an originally crafted mask, strange hat and scrubs (none of this ensemble works together). So after this Ebola death apocalypse thing... the doctor and his associate (now only a slimy head... Mr. Head for short) are pulling a sort of screening room for the end times. Lloyd Kaufman sent a gift to the doctor in the form of five films. So now you get to watch them.  Tales that will make you  "vomit your innards" and make you "beg to see more".  I do not fault this opening segment or the production in general for its low production value in fact in contrast to the production value in the rest of the film which is only slightly less amateur. Some of my favorite films are budgetless movies with plenty of heart, and the opening to Scream Machine is cheesy enough to make you laugh and then realize that your laughing and get embarrassed.

The stories have terrible canned music. The general concept behind the first couple stories are actually interesting. They suffer from dialogue delivered with plenty of starch and wasted time and exposition. Still.. you can tell that this effort is supposed to make you laugh. At least there are practical effects, right? The Sledgehammer story features a pitcher named Dutch Ruether? ... you can see why this is hilarious right? This is the kind of shit you'll find in each story. How can you take it seriously as a horror picture or even as a horror comedy when the suspension of disbelief is completely unsuspended.  Still... I can admire some of the effects work with ground chuck gore that makes me think of 80's direct to video and shot on video efforts.

Your second tale involves a guy who hates his wife, is gay and loves to kill and fuck decapitated heads. Furthermore he is having a love affair with Jeff Dahmer of all people. Some funny dialogue in this one but the sax music balanced with synth, hit stings with strange industrial noise mixed with um some kind of "crazy sounds mix" is completely off-putting.  Watching the lead masturbate with a dead guy's head should be fun or at least creepy, but it isn't funny enough to inspire a reaction. Not enough gore to keep it interesting. This scene should be hot and sweaty and sticky and a mess and it looks like some guy bought a Halloween mask, stuffed it and was playing a prank on this mother.

April Fool's Party is the third entry. Involves an April Fool's Day gag on a drug dealer by a bunch of junkies. The joke isn't a good one (not really much of a joke at all). The punchline to the whole story is bland, and it fails to meet the gore factor especially for the length of time you're forced to watch it.

Septic Shock features a "watch tortoise" and a shameless plug of Scarlet Fry's Horroroma. From there you have to watch cross cuts between a tortoise eating a vegetable and a guy seemingly drowning and rotting in what looks like a box. The end is abrupt. Throw some Halloween decorations and some fake blood in a toilet and call it a day. Do you know what you just watched? Nope. You have no fucking idea, but if you go to Party City this Halloween you can live it in your own bathroom. Tortoise not included.

The last tale features a couple at a drive-in. One of them forgets their meds, starts hearing voices through the radio and within minutes she's cutting his guts and ripping them out of his body while the guy obnoxiously screams. Forever. Are we sort of paying homage to City of the Living Dead here? Strangest intestines I ever did see, but I kinda like them. This one finishes like cheap box wine and tries to go for screaming supernatural psychosis but only delivers lack of believability and a stabby lady who figured out how to kill someone on the other side of the drive-in movie screen (in the film itself).

I realize that filmmakers make short films and then put them together as anthologies to release them and attempt to capitalize on their work. That makes sense, and I approve of this model. The problem: some of these guys are giving anthology horror a bad name especially when they're marketing savvy and know how to put a descent looking cover on the goddamn thing and sell it on Amazon. I'm not going to recommend Scream Machine to you as a whole, but you have to watch the Sledgehammer segment at least you get to see a guy murder someone while wearing one of those damn baseball masks. I always wondered what they were for. I admire the energy Ruether puts into his work. I truly do. I just don't seem to be the audience for it.

You'll be able to order Scream Machine now, coming September 29th.