Sunday, September 11, 2016

PETEY WHEATSTRAW (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray/DVD)

Vinegar Syndrome has released four classic Rudy Ray Moore films on Blu-ray, each with abundant extras, newly commissioned artwork and great transfers. Tonight we are going to talk a little about Petey Wheatstraw. It's the most Horror of the four (which include Dolemite, Human Tornado and Disco Godfather). That means it is the most accessible to me, but perhaps also the most appropriate of the four to this site. There's a certain Twilight Zone quality that comes along with being offered a second chance to influence the world after being gunned down by the forces of evil. Of course there's also a certain silliness to it as well. I suppose that comes with the territory, RRM's Kung Fu fighting is something that would be reserved for works of pure comedy today.

The opening birth scene birth sequence/origin story of Petey Wheatstraw and his occult connection quite funny, and almost seems to be a play on the nativity scene. The movie fast forwards to a time when Rudy  Ray Moore is put up against the forces of evil, being offered a second chance after having been gunned down in front of a church and having his powers revealed to him. It's up until this moment that the Petey Wheatstraw feels like a truly novel story with an original concept playing on some of Serling's best ideas. Unfortunately, after his supernatural abilities are revealed the story takes a turn for formulaic, bad Kung Fu, Rudy Ray Moore action movie. There's nothing wrong with that mind you. We watch these movies to laugh more than for an original concept, but Petey Wheatstraw saw the best chance for an original concept to be carried throughout the picture.

The disc looks incredible with some damage to the print during the title sequence, but overall looking like excellent film elements, a solid transfer and good restoration. The disc continues the four part documentary on Rudy Ray Moore. As with each of the releases in this series, I enjoy Jay Shaw's new cover art for the movie. If you're a purist you can always flip the sleeve for the original poster art. There's also a great revisit with the shooting locations form the movie. I love this kind of extra in my Horror releases, enjoy Horror's Hollowed Grounds and it's great to see this kind of featurette tackled on a Vinegar Syndrome release.

Overall I like it better than Human Tornado due to some of the supernatural elements playing on the silly nature of Moore movies, and I still struggle was to whether I prefer it to Disco Godfather, a movie that is out and out disco exploitation comedy gold. Director Cliff Roquemore is responsible for both Petey Wheatstraw and Human Tornado, released two years apart and clearly showing Roquemore's evolution as a filmmaker from a copycat in Human Tornado, simply revisiting Dolemite with new story elements to a mixed moral martial supernatural arts tale in Petey.

Get your Petey on.

Order your copy from Vinegar Syndrome:

From Vinegar Syndrome:

Rudy Ray Moore is Petey Wheatstraw, whose talent for comedy is only topped by his gift for Kung-Fu. When his arch rivals, Leroy and Skillet, massacre him and his friends, Petey ends up in Hell and is given a unique opportunity: in exchange for his and his friends’ return to earth, he must wed Satan’s daughter. The only problem: she’s the ugliest woman he’s ever seen! Will Petey be able to defeat Satan with his magic pimp cane or will he be forced to become the Devil’s son-in-law?

Rudy Ray Moore’s third theatrical feature, PETEY WHEATSTRAW is a raucous and ridiculous blending of action, horror, and Moore’s signature brand of raunchy humor. Written and directed by Cliff Roquemore, PETEY is perhaps the craziest of all of Moore’s films and is coming to Blu-ray for the first time, newly restored in 2k from its original 35mm camera negative.

Directed by: Cliff Roquemore
1977 / 99 minutes / Color / 1.85:1
Actors: Rudy Ray Moore, Jimmy Lynch, Leroy Daniels, Ernest Mayhand, Ebony Wright, G. Tito Shaw

Features Include:
• Region free Blu-ray and DVD combo pack.
• All extras on both formats.
• Scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm original camera negative
• “I, Dolemite Part III” making-of documentary
• Commentary track with Rudy Ray Moore’s biographer, Mark Jason Murray, co-star Jimmy Lynch & director Cliff Roquemore.
• “Shooting Locations Revisited” featurette with Rudy Ray Moore
• Soundtrack • Promotional still gallery
• DISCO GODFATHER – theatrical trailer
• THE HUMAN TORNADO – theatrical trailer
• DOLEMITE – theatrical trailer
• Reversible cover artwork by Jay Shaw
• English SDH Subtitles

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