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Friday, June 27, 2014

REVIEW: Runaway Nightmare (Vinegar Syndrome Limited Edition Blu-ray) - Worm Farmers Locale Union vs. The Mega Babes

Worm farmers kidnapped by female gun runners who are forced to participate in a sinister plot to steal the mafia's platinum. This concept has all the hallmarks of a hat-drawn plot aggregation whereby you simply toss a pile of ideas that sound reasonable into a hat and then draw several of them generating a brand new concept to evolve into a full story. It's a brain storming technique gone bad, but in the case of Runaway Nightmare directed by Mike Cartel, it is absolutely gonzo with a cordial offering of humor bounded by moments of pure seduction and sexy ladies holding weapons. I'm happy to say that the positive reviews that I had heard about this film by word of mouth are absolutely true that the cult importance of a picture of this type cannot be understated. That and the damn thing looks like a vision of pure, unadulterated Blu-ray. It is what a Blu should look like especially when we discuss a movie that was previously unrestored and left to the back annals of your Mylar tape collection.  In short, what a fuckin' ride Vinegar Syndrome has in store for you my lucky friends who have been able to get in on the limited run of 1000 on Blu-ray/DVD combo. At the very least the story line sounds like an ad-lib completed by a pile of film hip stoners and at the very most the boundary by which all things can commingle on planet Earth to generate a movie well ahead of its time in terms of feel and comedic pacing.


Synopsis from Vinegar Syndrome:

After discovering a woman buried alive, two Death Valley worm farmers are kidnapped by an all-female cult of gun runners who, after making the men into their sex slaves, force them to assist in a plan to steal a suitcase full of platinum from the mafia. Combining black comedy with elements of horror, action, thriller, and surrealist cinema, director/writer/producer/editor/star Mike Cartel’s (Pets, Bitter Heritage) RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE stands as one of the most fiercely unique works of outsider/cult cinema to emerge from the 1970s and 80s. Also featuring a co-starring performance from Georgia Durante, author of The Company She Keeps and crewed by Rowdy Harrington (director of Road House) and Daryn Okada (cinematographer of Mean Girls).


While the movie sounds like it might be an over the top blood and boob fest it is actually remarkably restrained in terms of its gratuity. What's more is that this restraint serves the movie well acting almost seductively to carry you between tense moments that might otherwise be filled with unrequited hard-ons. It is this very sexual tension that creates moments of superb comedy and give away to some physical comedy that our two protagonist, worm farmers execute naturally. 
Along with wide shots of the perfect beautiful west, you get some intimate shots of seduction that actually leave quite a bit more to the imagination than one might expect. That's why the whole thing works so well. It's aim is for you to like the leads. To appreciate their nerdy sensibility, and most of all their fish out of water tale (these boys ain't gunner runners or mafia thieves). 

The disc itself contains commentary with director Mike Cartel which is Cartel's only directing gig. He acted in a few movies as well, but never made it back behind the camera. Also included alternate video scenes from the VHS. The release is a 4k restoration of a 35mm camera negative that looks superb and in keeping with the excellent quality of the Vinegar Syndrome other Blu-ray releases. It's important to note here that if you are familiar with VS's Peekarama and Drive-In collections you may not fully understand just how fantastic a transfer these fellas can put out. I urge you to pick up The Telephone Book and Massage Parlor Murders and Night Train to Terror if you need further comparative examples for quality control with this preservation company.  Don't let their adult features on DVD fool you. Vinegar Syndrome is the real (reel?) deal. Sometimes their mission is to simply put on disc what must be preserved. Other times, a film requires a special touch with heart and warmth that only cinema fans can provide. 

Predominantly I believe you will find this to be a dark comedy, the likes of which could easily have influenced someone like Tarantino or Edgar Wright. While it has foundations in crime thrillers of the 70's it also realizes its limitations. Runaway Nightmare doesn't allow itself to be taken seriously but in a way that works to its advantage much in the same way that it's lake of excessive tit and gore work to seduce the audience. By laying on the ham bone comedy, you actually start to immerse yourself deeper into the strange plight of our two naive heroes. Theirs is a walk into the land of evil ways which may stir a laugh but is taken freely and with moments of tragedy.

You can still pick up copies of this very limited run of 1000 from DiabolikDVD. Make sure to get your orders in or you may have to fight for it on the flipping block later.


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