Friday, November 29, 2013

Mischief Night (DVD Review) RLJ Entertainment

Directed By: Richard Schenkman
Written By: Jesse Baget, Eric D. Wilkinson, Richard Schenkman
Starring: Noell Coet, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Charlie O'Connell
Color/86 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
Emily is a high school aged teen, left blind from an accident that left her mother dead. On this night, October 30th, the night before Halloween, Mischief Night, she has finally arranged a date for her dad after years of not dating since the loss of his wife. Emily is excited that her dad has agreed to let her visit her boyfriend's family's cabin for the weekend and is ready to enjoy a quiet evening while her dad gets back in to the dating game. 

There are a few mischievous kids who egg the house as is commonplace on this night and it begins to creep out Emily a bit along with the feeling that Emily has that she is being stalked. And stalked she is, a man in a yellow rain jacket with black and white face paint/mask are stalking the in and around the house waiting for their perfect moment to attack Emily. 

MISCHIEF NIGHT is a solid home invasion horror film featuring a few really creepy scenes and some quality suspense. The director does a good job creation tension with our blind lead and Noell Coet really pulls off playing the blind lead brilliantly. The movie suffers from a "been there, done that" feeling that we've seen this all before. The bit of a twist in the story that our lead girl is blind ends up being much less interesting in the grand scheme of than it could have been and most of the characters are fairly cookie cutter. That isn't to say it is a bad movie because despite it being anything exceptional, it is a well crafted home invasion film that is pretty entertaining. This movie is superior to The Purge which features a fairly similar premise and a much bigger budget.

The Audio & Video
MISCHIEF NIGHT receives a solid DVD presentation from RLJ Entertainment. The audio, which plays a large role for our lead character is mixed well and comes across very clean and clear. The mix between dialogue and sound effects and the score is well done and we're able to relate to what Emily is going through while enjoying being a viewer at the same time. The video side of things is mainly a strong effort with only scenes that are heavy in blacks suffering from blocking and compression issues. Luckily the film is darkly lit through almost all of it but lighting it well done to keep unnecessary black levels out of the picture which the disc benefits from.

The Extras
The disc's lone special feature is a 12 minute behind the scene's featurette that features some interview time with various cast members and a nice look at filming and what worked and what didn't with the writers and director.

The Bottom Line
The film would have been better suited for this title had there been a bit more Halloween and Mischief Night atmosphere as there was very little. As it sits it is a competent home invasion horror film with a very likable lead that performs better than many other films of this type from recent years. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Book - Italian Horror Masters Return For A 12 Part Anthology - Fund Raising Campaign

Update: It's been 2 and a half years and there is no movie. I along with hundreds of others are still owed the goods we donated money for. There's no sign of that ever happening or the movie ever being made. My $75 is gone for good it seems and others who donated anywhere from $1 into the thousands have been ripped off essentially. I don't blame the directors that were to be attached but the "production team" that essentially ran off with over $12,000. I'd be happy if I got the autographed VHS I was promised. What a bummer.

There are days when I'm blind sided by exciting movie related news. You know the feeling, when a director, actor or subject matter gets a green light on a project you're incredibly excited about and that project immediately shoots to the top of your "Most Anticipated Films" list. Well, yesterday was one of those days for me when I heard about THE BOOK.

Taken from THE BOOK'S Facebook page," THE BOOK sees the ultimate collaborative Italian horror film unfold before your very eyes. A one off project of unprecedented scale, THE BOOK brings together, for the very first time, the writers, directors, actors, composers and artists behind the finest Italian genre cinema of the past sixty years. This includes the creative forces behind the Giallo movement, Spaghetti Westerns, Eurocrime and more. Each director will be given the opportunity to showcase their own personal vision of Rome, spread across a dozen episodes. Each segment in this feature film will contain a unique blend of macabre thriller, horror and the fantastic; all delivered with the unique style and method of the director in question."

If that doesn't get you excited, well then you aren't me. 

The directors attached to the project are:
Lamberto Bava (Demons, Demons 2, Macabre)
Antonio Bido (The Bloodstained Shadow, Watch Me When I Kill)
Enzo G. Castellari (Cold Eyes Of Fear, Inglorious Bastards)
Luigi Cozzi (The Killer Must Kill Again, Contamination)
Alberto De Martino (Holocaust 2000, The Antichrist)
Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust, House on the Edge of the Park)
Aldo Lado (Night Train Murders, Who Saw Her Die?)
Umberto Lenzi (Nightmare City, Cannibal Ferox)
Edoardo Margheriti (In The Eyes Of A Killer, Black Cobra)
Sergio Martino (Torso, All The Colors Of The Dark)
Sergio Stivaletti (The Wax Mask)
Tonino Valerii (My Name Is Nobody, My Dear Killer)

The screenplay will be provided by Dardano Sarchetti (Cat 'O Nine Tails, City Of The Living Dead) and the soundtrack will be provided by Goblin. Famous Italian genre poster artist Enzo Sciotti will handle the custom art to round out this beautiful package. 

There is an IndieGoGo campaign underway trying to raise their goal of $100,000 and they've offered up quite a few nice perks including signed DVDs and Blu-rays of THE BOOK upon completion, signed movies and art from each director's film, a limited edition mask from Sergio Stivaletti's original mold of the mask from Demons and even an Executive Producer credit on the film. There is something cool available at every price range to help make this film the best it can be. And you may be wondering exactly what your donation will mean to the film, well the filmmaking team answered that question on their Facebook page as well:

 "We fully intend to involve every possible worthwhile creative force in the Italian genre industry, which means that all of the funding acquired here will go towards attaining further cast members.

Is there anyone you would love to see as part of THE BOOK?

Chances are that they may be appearing, but we’ll need your help.

Every purchase that you make, even the small tier ones, makes a huge difference to our project. With so many great names out there, we want to ensure that we create the ultimate tribute to Italian genre cinema, and we’re off to a great start.

So, once again, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts."

Sounds good to me. 

THE BOOK is a project close to my heart, I'm a long time lover of Italian horror (and other forms of Italian genre cinema), I'd say these movies are what really turned me from a lover of horror into a lover of all forms of film by opening a door to a much wider world of movies. I was exposed to many genres, actors and film makers that I had no idea about when I first discovered the Italian horror world. Seeing so many names I love come together to make this film has made me a very happy person the last few days and I cannot wait to see the final product. If you share in my passion for these great artist's films and want to see THE BOOK be the best it can be head on over to the Indie GoGo page and pick up a cool perk for donating!

THE BOOK can be found on Indie GoGo HERE

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Animals (DVD Review) - Artsploitation Films

Directed By: Marcal Fores
Written By: Marcal Fores, Enric Pardo, Aintza Serra
Starring: Oriol Pla, Augustus Prew, Dimitri Leonidas
Color/94 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

 The Film
Pol is a high school student with a couple of very close friends, and his best friend a talking stuffed bear that he has had since childhood. His bear plays drums in his band and is his closest companion. Of course the bear can only be heard by Pol, who is struggling with the growing feelings of lust and love, for a couple of very different classmates, the monotony of daily school life and an older brother who thinks little of him. Pol's friend Laia is obviously in love with him but Pol's feelings stretch beyond her and perhaps beyond women in general. After a decision to sever the ties with his best friend, Pol's world and experiences hit new extremes which the adolescent finds difficult to deal with without his best friend.

ANIMALS is a coming-of-age film but it cannot be summed up that simply. It is far greater than the sum of its parts. This is the story of growing up, learning the gravity and consequences of every choice you make and learning to stay true to yourself while holding the people you love closer and not letting go. And that growing up doesn't mean you have to lose yourself This movie is smart, funny, insightful and features some beautiful images. There is a strong resemblance to the Marky Mark film Ted here, and it isn't too far away from that, just without he weed and fart jokes. Really though, ANIMALS transcends the high school age of its cast, who are simply fantastic in their roles from top to bottom, and will resonate with viewers of all ages as something that you can really latch on to and take something away from. This is a great film.

The Audio & Video
Artsploitation Films delivers the debut of ANIMALS  to DVD with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks good. Daytime scenes are strong with good color reproduction, clean picture and allowing the photography to shine while night time and darker scenes suffer from a bit of blocking up and weaker black levels as previous releases from this label have. It isn't that big of a deal and the scenes in question still look decent. The Spanish (and partially English) 5.1 audio track sounds great and features English subtitles. There are no hiccups or annoyances to speak of. 

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with director Marcal Fores and Travis Crawford
-"Making Of" Featurette 
-The Bear Truth: A Short Film
-Animals: A Short Film
-Beautiful 12 page booklet featuring an interview with the director
-Official trailer for ANIMALS
-Other Artsploitation trailers
-Reversible cover art 

The Bottom Line 
Artsploitation Films has yet to release a film that I haven't liked. It is getting to the point where I can safely predict that I'll enjoy whatever they put out for me to watch. Their DVDs are always packed with interesting and cool special features and the reversible covers are a great touch. This is a top notch product from a company getting it right.

ANIMALS is available HERE

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Twilight Zone Complete Series - RLJ / Image Entertainment

Few television series have had the impact and staying power that came from a little Sci-Fi series in 1959 known as THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Hosted and narrated by it's own creator, Rod Serling, the series ran for 5 seasons until 1964, totaling 156 episodes, eventually spawning a re-boot in 1985 which ran for 2 seasons and another in 2002 which ran for a single season. In 1983 there was even a feature film simply titled Twilight Zone: The Movie. The series has been referenced and parodied by dozens, perhaps hundreds of other television series and films over the years. The impact the series has had on pop culture would be hard to measure, but it goes without saying that it is great.

The series brought us into future worlds and alien worlds, we got to see robots and martians, the supernatural and doomsday, the mad and the macabre. THE TWILIGHT ZONE featured many current stars and future stars that hadn't become household names including but certainly not limited to Buster Keaton, Charles Bronson, Dennis Hopper, Carol Burnett, Martin Landau, Ron Howard, Elizabeth Montgomery and many more. The list truly goes on and on. Each episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE brought us something new, something exciting, the anthology format made it easy to follow as each week was separate from every other episode.

 Image and RLJ Entertainment provided me with their DVD release of season 1 to preview and spread the word to all you loyal followers on their new release of each season and the complete series sets. I must say that they did an excellent job with these new discs. The picture and sound quality of each of the 36 episodes from season 1 were on point. The source material were in great condition and the digital transfer did them justice. Prints are clean without wiping away detail and digitalizing everything. It looks like we're watching a pristine presentation of the series in its original syndication. The audio is also excellent with a clean track free of any annoying Rice Krispies (snap, crackle, pop).

THE TWILIGHT ZONE isn't going anywhere anytime soon, it will remain an entertaining and important series for decades to come and the new box set from RLJ/IMAGE make sure viewers have an opportunity to add this classic series to their collection.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPLETE SERIES was released on November 19th and is available HERE

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Schoolgirl Report Volume 11 (DVD Review) - Impulse Pictures

Directed By: Erns Hofbauer
Written By: Gunther Heller
Starring: Helga Anders, Sandra Atia, Ulrich Beiger
Color/80 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE

The Film
Few film series reach 11 entries, normally the steam, creativity and profitability is long gone and dried up before we get to double digit entries in a franchise. The simple, cheap and profitable idea of the SCHOOLGIRL REPORT series made making more and more of these sexploitation films an easy decision. 

Subtitled TRYING BEATS STUDYING, SCHOOLGIRL REPORT 11 is yet another series of stories of young women and their sexual encounters. This entry features a struggling student who finds her confidence and academic success after luring the straight-A student to bed. That is until he moves on to another girl. And how about the young blond who is sexually assaulted by her tutor? Or is he seduced by the young girl? It is up to the police to decide who's story is true. Then there are the young boys who have sex in an old barn with more experienced girls and it ends up in a hilarious mess that literally brings the roof down. And those are just the beginning of the fun that SCHOOLGIRL REPORT 11 brings us!

After almost a dozen entries you may think that seeing attractive girls romp around naked while dealing with the drama that their specific story deals with but you'd be wrong. The SCHOOLGIRL REPORT films are quick moving films that are like quick flashes of sexy lightning. What does that mean, you ask? I really don't know but it sounded good. These films are a lot of fun to watch, and they manage to balance out effective comedy and sexy girls and it always equals a good time even if this entry wasn't quite as good as previous SGR chapters.

The Audio & Video
The Impulse Pictures imprint of Synapse Films delivers SCHOOLGIRL REPORT 11 on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen transfer in the films OAR or 1.66:1. The transfer looks good with natural skin tones which is probably the most important thing about the film's look. There isn't a ton of color in the film's palette but what is there also looks good. A bit of dirt and print damage can be found but we are talking about sexploitation films from the 70s. The lone soundtrack option is a 2.0 track in the film's native German with optional English subtitles, which are newly translated. The track is nothing special but it is clean and free of hiss, crackling or otherwise annoying background noise. 


The Extras
Bare bones. 

The Bottom Line
The series quality may be taking a bit of a dip at this point, we'll have to wait until we see the release of parts 12 and 13 to really say, but there is still plenty of exploitative fun with the girls here to please previous fans of the series. If you've never seen a SCHOOLGIRL REPORT film I'd suggest an earlier one to see if you're into it but returning viewers will gladly find a spot on their shelf for this disc.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The 7th Day (2012)

Allan is a quiet man, a loner who works as a dish washer at a local bar, he hates his job, his loud and annoying neighbor, and his co-workers who give him shit. He does have a soft spot for the cute waitress at the bar named Denise who treats him with kindness. Oh, and Allan also has a love for murder that dates back to his childhood.

Allan gets urges to kill every so often, but lately these urges have become stronger and much more frequent. He picks and chooses his victims, often using some sort of knife to kill them off. His madness has been getting worse as he has now started experimenting with rape and necrophilia. He believes he will change the world, even to the point that he is being followed around by an interviewer documenting his life. His delusions are getting worse and worse over the last week and on the seventh day he realizes who he is and what he does and nobody can escape that when he select them.

THE 7TH DAY is an independent horror film made by a team of people from the Baltimore area. Directed by Jason M. Koch, who has an ever growing resume of special effects work with the Aftermath FX team (who worked on this film), the film is a simplistic horror film that works in its minimalism. The cast does a good job being believable in their roles, with Mark S. Sanders being very good in the lead role. Aftermath FX provides plenty of gore that is just dripping with nastiness. They're a team that does excellent work. THE 7TH DAY is a low budget, simple and effective. It isn't perfect but it is definitely shows that the up-and-coming group responsible for this movie have a bright future ahead of them.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Shoot The Sun Down (Blu-ray Review) - Kino Lorber

Directed By: David Leeds
Written By: David Leeds
Starring: Christopher Walken, Margot Kidder, Geoffrey Lewis
Color/99 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Christopher Walken stars as Rainbow, an ex-Confederate soldier who left the war due to being ordered to slaughter indians. Now Rainbow spends his time as a bounty hunter, making money taking in wanted criminals dead or alive. He encounters a young woman (Margot Kidder) who is trying to get home to New Orleans from their current location in Santa Fe. She tells Rainbow a story that he doesn't believe, trying to get him to escort her through the dangerous territories back to her home. All the while a nasty man (Geoffrey Lewis) is on the loose, hunting Montezuma's gold and taking scalps along the way. 

The nasty man, gets a hold of the woman, who was sold into servanthood as a young girl, and discovers some golden treasure. Rainbow and some of his Native American friends team up to take down the scalphunters and rescue the damsel in distress. 

SHOOT THE SUN DOWN is, if anything, an uneven film. Made by the time the Euro Western cycle had practically been dead for a few years, this American production, the only credit for writer/director David Leeds toes the line between a piece of avant garde filmmaking ripe with social commentary and a rather dull western that feels like we've been-there-done-that and it was better before. David Leeds is capable as director, but his writing lacks the punch and feeling of urgency that the powerful and climactic moments need to get the audience to feel their full potential. 

The cast is decent. I'd say nobody really drops the ball but before watching the film I found it difficult to picture Christopher Walken as some sort of gunslinging old west badass and after watching the film he did little to change my mind. I think Walken is a good actor, don't get me wrong, but he just doesn't pull off a convincing western character and that is a major detractor for me as he is the lead and main protagonist.  The film features a pretty solid spaghetti western-esque score that is one of the highlights of the film. There is also enough action and fighting to keep things fun. 

The Audio & Video
The anamorphic widescreen transfer maintains the film's original Scope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and Kino Lorber has done a decent job with the video side of things. As always with Kino they haven't done much in the way of cleaning up the print, there is a bit of white speckling throughout the duration. This is nothing to get annoyed over, it only reminds us that we are watching a film. There are some other instances of dirt, scratches and very minor print damage but nothing major at all. The quality of the transfer is generally good, flesh tones look nice and there is no edge enhancement or digital fuckery to be found. Detail levels are a mixed bag as sometimes they're quite strong and other times the image is soft and muddy. I find this to be more of the source material than anything Kino has done wrong. 

From an audio standpoint SHOOT THE SUN DOWN is great. The 2.0 track is in English and sounds pretty damn good. There is no background noise, and overall there's nothing to complain about the sound quality or audio mix. There are no subtitles available.  

The Extras 
Special features include an alternate opening title sequence with an original song by Kinky Friedman. It is nice to have but I prefer it the standard way. There is also a theatrical trailer.

The Bottom Line
While SHOOT THE SUN DOWN is by no means an essential western, it is decent and filled with familiar names in the cast. Kino did a nice job with the transfer and overall disc presentation so fans of the genre will find enough here to be pleased about. I'd love to see Kino tackle some spaghetti western films as they've shown they're capable of doing solid work within the western genre. 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oui, Girls (DVD Review) - Impulse Pictures

Directed By: Fred J. Lincoln
Written By:  Fred J. Lincoln
Starring: Anna Ventura, Lisa De Leeuw, Sharon Kane
Color/81 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
Ever want to see a guy jerk off just feet away from a woman changing a tire? Ever want to see a slow-mo cumshot that would make any modern day action film director envious? How about a little murder investigation with your sex? Well you've come to the right place. Barbara and Nick go to the Circle S swingers ranch to investigate a murder. While there the pair sleeps around with the other guests trying to gain information to solve the mystery all the while becoming closer than ever before with each other.

OUI, GIRLS is a pretty solid little porno. The movie is more decently acted than almost any other vintage porno I've seen. This could be due to the fact that there is a cast member that looks like Jeffrey Jones from Beetlejuice and Ferris Bueller's Day Off and one that resembles Pamela Springsteen from Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3... not that there was any sort of award winning acting in those slashers. And while the movie certainly focuses more on the sex than the story (and who really would blame them) they got the idea right, at least for this format of film. The sex scenes are certainly more interesting than the average skin flick and it features some pretty funny moments too. 

The Audio & Video
Impulse Pictures brings OUI, GIRLS to DVD with an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that looks pretty good after you get by the rough opening credits. The print isn't perfect but for an early 80s porno it has an attractive and natural looking transfer. The audio is good as well, with just a bit of background noise. The surprisingly catchy and well written theme song might even get stuck in your head. 

The Extras
 Bare bones.

The Bottom Line 
OUI, GIRLS is one of the better vintage porn titles I've reviewed this year and the DVD deserves a place on your shelf (or in the box under your bed) if you're into these movies.  

OUI, GIRLS is available HERE

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Blue Hour Triple Feature (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

USA/1971, 1965, 1969
Directed By: Sergei Goncharoff, Albert T. Viola, Marty Rackum
Written By:
Starring: Edward Blessington, Anne Chapman, Mary Beth Hughes
Color and B&W/220 Minutes/Not Rated

The Films
THE BLUE HOUR is a visually striking, oddly entertaining and just a bit out there story of a young girl with a clouded past who finds herself the victim of the seedy and strange side of Los Angeles. The main attraction of this set is, not surprisingly, the best film included from its writing to its direction and photography. The film is full of as much art house as it is sexploitation and deserves to be discovered and respected.

In ONE NAKED NIGHT a small town girl move to New York City to escape the prying eyes of small town life and to truly experience life. She quickly gets into the modeling community with the help of her friend and ends up in bed with her photographer after a night on the town with him. Her relationships begin to fall apart and she realizes that she moved to the city to escape the judgement from her old life but now must face the mirror and judge herself.

ONE NAKED NIGHT is a pretty decent little movie. The main girl is a likable girl, innocent and curious who finds out that not everything in life works out the way you planned and there will be plenty of setbacks that you have to deal with when trying to find yourself. I enjoyed this one a good bit.

If you like nude hippie girls enjoying their sexuality and freedom then THREE IN A TOWEL is for you. That really is all it is, with some Shakespeare narration over top. This movie is a rare one from what I can tell as I've been able to find very little information about it on the internet. This is a little known piece of hippie film culture that, while very simple, displays a large part in the free spirit nature of the 1960s.

The Audio & Video

THE BLUE HOUR looks very good, in its anamorphic widescreen transfer which does justice to the film's striking images. Colors are strong and bright without being over saturated and there is only a sparse amount of print damage. The audio is also strong with a bit of background noise in limited areas being the only complaint. ONE NAKED NIGHT looks very good overall. The black and white cinematography benefits from a clean print that has been kept in good condition over the years. Black levels are deep and whites never get too hot. The night time New York City streets look especially beautiful in this presentation. The audio track is just as crisp and clean as the picture with a well mixed track and no background noise to speak of. I don't think Vinegar Syndrome could have done better without it being on Blu-ray.

THREE IN A TOWEL is a mixed bag. At times the full frame transfer look reasonably good with natural skin tones and a clean print but it often goes right into a scene that is scratchy and a bit washed out. Dark scenes suffer from poor lighting and cinematography so they look green and blocky. The audio is fine, with background whirling and crackling present but not enough to become a real annoyance. 

The Extras
The lone extra is an original theatrical trailer for THREE IN A TOWEL

The Bottom Line
While the films vary in quality as they do on most multi-feature sets such as this, this is a strong offering from Vinegar Syndrome that will please fans of the label and of sexploitation films.

THE BLUE HOUR triple feature is available HERE

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Films Of Chester Novell Turner: Black Devil Doll From Hell / Tales From The Quadead Zone (DVD Review) - Massacre Video

USA/1984, 1987
Directed By: Chester Novell Turner
Written By: Chester Novell Turner
Starring: Shirley L. Jones, Gladys Ames
Color/132 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Films
In BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL a devout church going, Jesus loving woman finds a really creepy looking puppet in a thrift store and falls in love with it despite the creepy story from the shopkeeper. After buying it the woman starts to have nightmares and sexual fantasies until the puppet comes to life and attacks her, leading to him acting out all sorts of sex acts on her, including taking her long protected virginity. After thinking it was all a dream the woman finds some blood to realize it wasn't. Pleased with the experience she now refers to the puppet as "Mr. Wonderful". The doll has since disappeared and our devout Christian has turned into a little pre-marital sex with stranger having tramp. And that's that for an extended period of time until the doll returns and attacks the woman again.

This movie fucking sucks. I'm sorry. I know it is a huge cult title, especially in the VHS collecting community and this is its debut on DVD but it just sucks. I have no idea why it is so sought after. It is bad even for a shot-on-video movie. The soundtrack is beyond irritating, the acting sucks as much as you'd imagine and the only thing it has going for it is that the doll is creepy looking... who the hell would buy that thing? The movie just doesn't end either.Nothing happens for a good 25 minutes leading up to the finale... I had a serious urge to bash my head into a wall until I passed out. 

TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE fares a wee bit better and I do mean a wee bit. The film is considerably shorter which is already a plus because had it ran any longer and I'd have that urge to concuss myself into unconsciousness again. In this movie a woman reads stories from a book baring the same name as the movie to her ghost son. The stories make up this anthology movie starting with "Food For ?", a story about a poor family who never has enough food to feed everyone at the table so one of the siblings takes matters into his own hands. "The Brothers" is about 2 brothers who have hated each other their whole life. Now that one has died of a heart attack the other steals his body straight out of the funeral home to disgrace him one last time, until his corpse of a brother has other ideas. And the wrap around story is "Unseen Vision" which is more of the mother and her son and how she deals with her husband who disapproves of her talking to their dead son.

QUADEAD ZONE isn't nearly as slow as BDDFH but it is still pretty damn bad and just plain uninteresting. Each and every gag could have been done by anybody, and I really do mean anybody. There's nothing at all special here and it is amazing that these movies have such a cult following. 

The Audio & Video
Perhaps the kings of bringing shot-on-video horror to DVD (and special limited editions), Massacre Video brings BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL and TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE to DVD for the first time and they look and sound how you expect a no-budget horror film from the mid 1980s shot on consumer level VHS camcorders to look and sound. The picture is weak and washed out, with tracking issues and waves and wobbles while the sound is thin and tinny. The soundtrack commonly drowns out the diablogue. These discs look no better than home videos of the time would look. Massacre Video used the master tape from Chester Turner himself, which is the best available copy in existence so it won't look better than this and none of the issues present are their fault.

The Extras
-"Return To The Quadead Zone" - a 35 minute documentary on the films of Chester Turner with Turner and his star Shirley L. Jones. 
-Commentary tracks for both films
-Still galleries 
-Reversible "VHS Design" covers

The Bottom Line
If the resurgence in VHS collecting has done one thing it is bring the chance of introducing a whole bunch of little known horror films to a new generation of fans (or an old generation that missed them the first time). This box set from Massacre Video brings two of the most valuable VHS titles to a much more widely accessible package while not really losing their VHS presentation. The extra features are a nice touch to round out the set and the design of the packaging is great and I have no problem recommending this set for fans interested in checking out the films, bad as they may be. It certainly beats paying $600 for the VHS.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Game Show Models (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

Directed By: David Gottlieb
Written By: David Gottlieb
Starring: Gilbert DeRush, Rae Sperling, John Vickery
Color/89 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE

The Film
Every film we watch, or most anyways, come with preconceived notions of what we are about to see. We expect certain things when we hear a plot synopsis, or a director or actor's name. Even the production and distribution companies tell us what to expect. Sometimes though, a movie comes along that is not at all what we expected. Sometimes that is good and sometimes that is bad.

GAME SHOW MODELS is about a man who leaves his performance artist girlfriend as he wants a more steady job in society and not to be broke all the time. He lands a gig with a popular sex-driven game show where all of the models are beautiful and nude and the contestants have to go through all sorts of tests of sexuality. The man begins to hate his current position and tries to rekindle his relationship and his free spirit.

I don't know what to think about GAME SHOW MODELS, I really don't. I don't even know what kind of movie they were going for here. It seems obvious that they were going for some sort of sexploitation but it is pretty tame. I'm aware the director intended GAME SHOW MODELS to be more of an art house movie but producers re-cut the film for the seedy movie going audience. I don't really see much of an art house movie here either. What it boils down to is a fairly dull drama with some T & A thrown in now and again for good measure. The film does contain a few good scenes including the last one before the credits role and a memorable performance from Dick Miller as the host of the game show. That said, I would suggest the original cut of the film over the re-cut as it is an all around more interesting movie to watch.

The Audio & Video
As I've come to expect Vinegar Syndrome does good work with a film that may or may not have been kept in good conditions. And they've done another good job with the 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. Despite some areas with minor print damage such as scratches, GAME SHOW MODELS is a pretty attractive presentation. It's a shame the set of the game show wasn't more colorful because this disc could have probably done nice work with it and really had it pop. Despite some instances of background hiss and crackle the audio track is clear and stable, nothing more you can ask for out of a movie like this. 

The Extras
Vinegar Syndrome gives us a nice 2-disc release with some solid extra features including:
-Audio Commentary with director David Gottlieb
-The original edit of the film known as "The Seventh Dwarf"
-Still gallery 

The Bottom Line
I honestly wouldn't count myself among the fans of this film but the fact that this 2-disc set has a respectable A/V presentation and the inclusion of both cuts of the film make it a worthy purchase that will please fans.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hanging For Django (Blu-ray Review) - Raro Video

Directed By: Sergio Garrone
Written By: Sergio Garrone
Starring: Anthony Steffen, William Berger, Nicoletta Machiavelli
Color/97 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Johnny Brandon (Anthony Steffen) and Everett "Preacherman" Murdock are a pair of bounty hunters that have come to town to find a group of criminals an cash in on their capture or killing. While in the town they catch wind of Mr. Fargo, a local landowner who is running an illegal ring of smuggling people across the border from Mexico for cheap labor. Fargo has a nasty habit of murdering the whole bunch and dumping them in a ravine anytime someone gets suspicious. There is a massive $40,000 reward offered to the pair to capture Fargo but Brandon and Preacherman are on completely opposite pages and each has their own agenda with Preacherman only caring about himself and his wallet. 

HANGING FOR DJANGO also known as Una lunga fila di croci  (A Long Row Of Crosses) doesn't feature any hangings and is one of literally dozens of films to use the name Django in the title despite having nothing at all to do with Sergio Corbucci's classic film. What it does have is a strong cast including Steffen and Berger in the lead roles who are classic spaghetti western actors and Sergio Garrone (the 3rd Sergio) at the helm. Garrone had success in many different genres of Italian cinema making films to match the popularity of whatever genre was hot at the time. He may be best known for his time in the western genre and this film, while a bit sloppy on the story telling features a lot of action, some fun gun play and a weapon that is a cross between a Gatling Gun, shotgun and rifle.

Ripe with the classic characteristics of the genre, HANGING FOR DJANGO is violent, a bit silly, and handled capably by the cast and crew. Far from great and by no means a classic it is pretty damn decent and certainly entertaining.  

The Audio & Video
I read a review on another site prior watching this disc that absolutely tears the presentation of this disc apart. I have to say, I have no idea what they were watching. Raro Video brings HANGING FOR DJAGO to Blu-ray with a 2.35:1 scope widescreen presentation that does happen to be a 1080i transfer. That said, it isn't bad looking. Colors are decent, and facial details in the many close-up shots you'll see in spaghetti westerns actually feature pretty strong detail. Textures show some decent detail as well. I wouldn't say the image pops or is particularly strong overall but it isn't a disaster or even bad. I'd call it a decent transfer that has room for improvement.

There are a pair of audio tracks, one English and one Italian. Since these Italian productions didn't record live sound and featured casts assembled from all over the world, both tracks are dubbed and neither could really be considered the native language. I chose the English track which sounds okay, but a bit thin. The mix between dialogue and soundtrack is fine and overall it is very listenable. English subtitles are available for the Italian language track.

The Extras
The disc features a 15 minute mini-documentary on the film and its cast and crew. The packaging also includes a full illustrated booklet that features bios of the director, stars and an essay on the film.

The Bottom Line
HANGING FOR DJANGO is an entertaining spaghetti western that won't become a classic anytime soon and this disc probably won't win any awards but it will satisfy fans of the genre with a really decent overall product that I'm proud and extremely happy to have in my collection.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Candidate / Johnny Gunman (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

USA/1964, 1957
Directed By:
Written By:
Black & White/151 Minutes/Not Rated

The Films
THE CANDIDATE surrounds an up and coming politician running for senate and his sexual relationships along the way. Starting with a beautiful blond he meets working in a hotel who he takes on as his new secretary to the woman that he impregnates and arranges the abortion. There are court room proceedings, some laughs and even a home made sex tape.

THE CANDIDATE features a simple story and a simple presentation but the attractive girls, likable characters and timeless story of politicians that can't keep it in their pants makes this one hard to turn away from. It ends up being quite a bit more entertaining than the simple synopsis would lead you to believe.

JOHNNY GUNMAN is a noir type thriller about a pair of lifelong friends who look at each other as brothers who are feuding over mob territory now that the boss, their father, has died. Stuck between their greed, their women, their love for each other and their loyalty this is a quick moving piece that boils down to a knife fight in the streets they played in as kids. This film is a quick and easy noir to enjoy.

The Audio & Video
The first feature on this DVD from Vinegar Syndrome is THE CANDIDATE, presented in an attractive 1.85:1 widescreen print. There is a small amount of scratches through the print but otherwise the source material used was in great condition and the transfer here shows it. There is nice shadow detail and deep black levels. The audio on THE CANDIDATE is also good with intermittent crackling in the background but never becoming a distraction. 

JOHNNY GUNMAN has a nice 1.33:1 full frame transfer from quality source materials. The print has similar high qualities to the first feature on this set with even less print damage while the audio also performs highly with little to complain about. 

The Extras
The packaging features reversible cover art for whichever feature you prefer, other wise it is bare bones. 

The Bottom Line
The solid pairing of films and their good condition and presentation make up for the lack of special features enough to warrant a recommendation. 

THE CANDIDATE and JOHNNY GUNMAN double feature is available HERE

Monday, November 4, 2013

The First Time / Oriental Babysitter (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

USA/1978, 1976
Directed By: Anthony Spinelli
Written By: Richard Delong
Starring: Mimi Morgan, Joey Silvera, Linda Wong, David Book
Color/143 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE

The Films
THE FIRST TIME follows a young woman who is working on her first porno film and takes a look back at some of her sexual exploits that have allowed her to be so open and comfortable fucking on camera for the first time. Then, she attends her first swinger party where she has a couple more first time experiences all the while fighting with her deadbeat boyfriend.

THE FIRST TIME features enough of a story to get attached to, and enough sex to keep you entertained. It isn't the most interesting film, but there are a few moments including one at the end that are sort of made me say "what the fuck?" A breezy film that any vintage porno fan will enjoy.

When it comes to story telling THE ORIENTAL BABYSITTER makes THE FIRST TIME look like Goddamn Shakespeare. The entire narrative is our star discussing her time spent as a babysitter and how she licked, sucked and fucked the parents of the kid she was supposed to be watching. This also includes her first time with a man where she is forced in to it by a drunk father but ends up loving the attention.

Nothing new or surprising here as 95% of the run time is spent on sex with the remaining 5% on credits and shots of the babysitter talking.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome presents both films in this double feature with anamorphic widescreen  1.85:1 prints. THE FIRST TIME looks nice with minimal print damage in the form of scratches. The colors and skin tones look strong and natural and overall it has a nice healthy look to it. THE ORIENTAL BABYSITTER fares just as well with minimal print damage and a strong presentation. Both films have a good audio track as well with very little background noise to be a distraction.

The Extras 
Bare bones. 

The Bottom Line
There isn't much debate here, either you're interested or you aren't. You'll know right away upon reading the synopsis if this is for you. If you dig old school adult films check it out.

THE FIRST TIME/ORIENTAL BABYSITTER Drive-In Collection  Double Feature is available HERE

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Stranger (Blu-ray Review) - Kino

Directed By: Orson Welles
Written By: Anthony Veiller, Victor Trivas, Decla Dunning, Victor Trivas, Orson Welles, John Huston
Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles
Black & White/94 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Mr. Wilson is a government detective given the assignment to track down a high ranking Nazi officer who may be hiding out in a small Connecticut town having built himself a new life and identity while marrying the daughter of the local judge. Orson Welles co-stars as Professor Rankin in this tense post WWII thriller. 

The plot is simple with just a few main characters and one of their past's being the focal point of the film. Edward G. Robinson is the government agent on the trail of Rankin (Welles) who he believes could be responsible for several murders on top of the war time atrocities he committed. The cinematography is stark and the small town setting lends an air of claustrophobia in itself. There's nowhere to hide when everyone knows everyone. THE STRANGER is a really solid noir thriller directed by Orson Welles with many of the classic tropes of the genre. The ending is sure to be memorable and I personally loved it.  

The Audio & Video
THE STRANGER has been remastered from 35mm elements preserved by the Library of Congress by Kino Lorber. To put it simply this is probably the best the film will ever look again. If you've seen the film on home video before it was probably with a torn and tattered print that left much to be desired. This HD transfer is strong, with deep blacks and rich shadow play along with strong textures. The audio track is strong as well with only a couple of moments of background hiss and crackling interfering. Dialogue and music is crisp and clear. 

The Extras
This Blu-ray features a nice assortment of extras

- Audio Commentary by film historian Bret Wood
- "Death Mills" - A 1945 informational short film on the Nazi death camps
- Orson Welles' Wartime Radio Broadcasts - 4 complete programs 
- Theatrical trailer
- Image Gallery

The Bottom Line
The film and its presentation would be enough to warrant a recommendation on its own. The special features would also probably be enough to warrant a recommendation. Put them together and you have a great presentation of a solid noir thriller and a nice collection of historical extras. 

THE STRANGER is available HERE

October Horror Challenge 2013 - Final Days and Final Thoughts

The last few days of the challenge were all similar in that each had 2 movies per day, starting with day 28 and Burnt Offerings. This haunted house story from director Dan Curtis is a slow burn, spine tingling affair that manages to get under your skin without a terrible amount of action. A really good entry into the genre.

Then came the great Lord Of Tears which I reviewed in length HERE

Day 29 featured a movie I love and a movie I fell in love with Cemetery Man was first, a dark comedy zombie movie from Italian director Michele Soavi which is one of my favorite horror films of the 90s. If you haven't seen it you should track it down.

Then was Possession a film I'd never seen before and hadn't seen discussed much but always met with rave reviews when it was brought up. I can see why it received almost universal praise. This is a damn fine film starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani that has the most dysfunctional relationship since The Shining, granted it was made only a year after. This film is nothing like the Kubrick classic though but it is damn good.

October 30th featured The Witchmaker, a complete bore of a film. Some people hanging out in a cabin in the swamp to do some psychic research and are picked off one by one to be part of this devil worshipping cult. The thing with these movies is that they're usually at least cheaply entertaining or feature some good looking T & A but nope, not here. BORRRRING.

I had to follow that up with Trick 'R Treat to get the crappy taste out of my mouth. This movie is a perfect fit for the season and I fall a little more in love with it every year.

Halloween day was another short one featuring just Halloween, the yearly tradition of course, and The Wolf Man, for the first time on Blu-ray. I love The Wolf Man and seeing it with a gorgeous HD transfer was breathtaking. The new transfer for Halloween is a treat as well and that movie remains one of my 2 favorite films.

Thank you for sticking with me through the 31 days, now comes time for my final thoughts and some tidbits of information...

At the conclusion of last year's challenge I mentioned that 2013 would be my 5th and likely final year of attempting (and batting 1.000) 100 horror movies in the month of October. That will be the case. Like last year, there were many times when I wasn't enjoying myself as much as I should due to being burnt out on watching movies. This is partially the cause of the amount of absolute crap that I watched but it is also the pace of averaging over 3 movies per day. It just becomes mentally draining. This was the first year I also fell far behind on reviews I need to tackle so that was looming over my head. I will certainly still do a 31 Days of Horror type deal in the future along with all the contests and fun that come along with it.

And on to the statistics...

Total Films Watched - 106
First Time Film Viewings - 81 (76% - the same percentage as last year oddly enough)
Average Film Score - 6.16/10
5 Best First Time Viewings - Lord Of Tears, Possession, Goke Body Snatcher From Hell, Nekromantik, Corruption
5 Worst First Time Viewings - Detention, A Haunted House,Captives, Wishmaster 2, Wishmaster 4
Biggest Surprise - WNUF Halloween Special
Biggest Disappointment -Black Waters Of Echo's Pond

Thoughts To Sum It Up - The classics are classic for a reason, Pete Walker is underrated, gothic horror still lives, I don't think I can take another shot on video slasher until next year. Why did the Carrie remake even happen? Detention is still the worst piece of shit I've ever seen. Thanks for reading and following along, you guys and girls are awesome.