Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Drive Hard (DVD Review) - Image/RLJ

Directed By: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Written By: Chad Law, Evan Law, Brigitte Jean Allen, Brian Trenchard-Smith
Starring: John Cusack, Thomas Jane, Zoe Ventoura
Color/96 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: November 11, 2014

The Film
Thomas Jane plays a retired racecar driver who is struggling to pay the bills now while he works as a driving instructor. A seemingly normal day takes a wild turn when he's hired for a lesson and subsequently kidnapped by a thief (John Cusack) for his superior driving skills. A heist and shootout have the pair on the run and put in various tight and sometimes funny situations.

Ring, ring, it's two great actors phoning it in. Thomas Jane and John Cusack can be great but they take whatever kind of payday was attached to this movie and run with it by putting very little into their performances. I don't think their best performances would have mattered too much as there's not much to go with in the script. The movie plays out like more of a road trip comedy than any sort of crime thriller. DRIVE HARD has little excitement and none of the adrenaline rush that better films of this nature have. It all comes across very bland and halfhearted and I'll be damned if I wasn't waiting for John C. Reilly to show up and sing his Dewey Cox song but instead of "walk hard" he'd sing "drive hard". At least that would have been interesting.

The Audio & Video
Image/RLJ release DRIVE HARD on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks as good as you'd expect a current release to look. The picture is sharp and clean with no damage and overall nice quality from top to bottom. The Dolby 5.1 audio is just as good. The mix is spot on and has great clarity.

The Extras
Extras? What extras?

The Bottom Line
If you're a big fan of either John Cusack or Thomas Jane and are curious about the film I'd recommend a rental viewing otherwise you're just as well off skipping it.

DRIVE HARD is available HERE

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pretty Peaches (Blu-ray Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

Directed By: Alex de Renzy
Written By: Alex de Renzy
Starring: Desiree Cousteau, Juliet Anderson, Joey Silvera
Color/92 Minutes/X
Region FREE
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Limited Edition: 1,500 Copies

The Film
Peaches is on her way to her father's wedding but when she arrives things don't go as she'd hoped and she leaves upset. She crashes her speeding Jeep leaving her unconscious. While she's out a couple of sleazeballs find her and have their way with her and decide to take care of her as she wakes up and is suffering from Amnesia. Peaches can't remember her name, where she is or why she's there and her adventure is about to take some weird twists and turns encountering all sorts of weirdos and doctors and experiences everything from forced enemas to swinger party orgies where some unexpected guests are among the lovers.

PRETTY PEACHES is a fun X-rated romp that is even sillier than it is sexy. There's plenty to laugh at as Peaches struggles to find out who she is and her despicable caretakers try to get their rocks off and make money off of her situation.  Desiree Cousteau and Julet Anderson make their film debut here and would both go on to successful careers as porn stars. Whether you're a die hard of the genre or have just a sneaking interest in checking out vintage smut, PRETTY PEACHES is a great one to check out.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome swings and drives one to deep center field... home run! This transfer, maintaining the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, is damn near pristine. There are moments of very light speckling but the sharpness and clarity to the picture is phenomenal. Detail levels from clothing to textures and surfaces is very high and skin tones are fleshy and natural without a hint of waxiness. The English mono soundtrack is great as well. There's no damage to the track and no background noise to distract you. The levels are steady throughout.

The Extras
-Archival interview with director Alex de Renzy
-Interview with film historian Ted Mcilvenna
-Alex de Renzy trailers

The Bottom Line
A classic of the adult film genre gets a gorgeous limited edition Blu-ray release. Highly recommended. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fantastic Orgy/Champagne Orgy: Peekarama Double Feature (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

Directed By: Carlos Tobalina
Written By: Carlos Tobalina
Starring: Lesllie Bovee, Annette Haven, John Holmes
Color/149 Minutes/x
Region FREE
Release Date: November 18, 2014

The Films
In FANTASTIC ORGY a woman takes on a job with an adult film production team and through voice over narration tells us of her longing to have sex with the legendary John Holmes. As she arrives on set for her work she begins to get all hot and bothered by the action going on in front of the camera and begins to pleasure herself while still giving us the narration about how she wants to suck and fuck everyone. Eventually her dream of John Holmes comes true and she tells us about how she's climaxing over and over.

How about the CHAMPAGNE PARTY director Carlos Tobalina host's for his cast, crew and friends after a tough movie shoot that ends up being a giant orgy long before the host even shows up. Loads of beautiful girls and guys hooking up with each other while being served champagne... In the words of Robin Leech Champagne wishes and caviar creams... or something like that. This double feature of Carlos Tobalina features very little besides a few dozen naked bodies getting it on together and that's okay because who doesn't love a good old fashioned orgy? The films are everything you'd expect with no surprises or strings attached.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome delivers a pair of beautifully restored transfers here, both in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. These anamorphic widescreen presentations have a crisp look with a good sharpness to them. Colors and skin tones look natural and vivid. There's virtually no damage to these transfers at all. The audio tracks are also in great condition. There is quite a bit more to listen to in FANTASTIC which is the better of the two. While both tracks are free of any background noise or damage the recording quality on CHAMPAGNE is thin and weak, sounding like it was recorded in an empty hall. This is simply the nature of the production. Overall a fantastic job by the Vinegar Syndrome gang.

The Extras
A trailer for each film is included

The Bottom Line
There's no surprises here as both films perfectly some up what they're about in their title. We get nearly 150 minutes of orgy footage between the two movies and if you've looking for some of that then there is nothing better.

FANTASTIC ORGY / CHAMPAGNE ORGY Peekarama Double Feature is available HERE

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Housebound (DVD Review) - XLRator Media

New Zealand/2014
Directed By: Gerard Johnstone
Written By: Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru
Color/112 Minutes/Unrated
Region 1
Release Date: November 18, 2014

The Film
After being convicted of a crime Kylie is sentenced to house arrest where she will spend the next several months locked up with her mother in their country home. Kylie and her mother don't exactly getting along, as Kylie acts more like an angsty teen than a grown adult. Kylie begins to notice food and clothing going missing and has a creepy encounter in the basement. Her psychologist doesn't believe her that the house is haunted but Kylie is determined that something not exactly kosher is going on in the house and is going to get to the bottom of it with the help of her ankle monitor who happens to be an amateur paranormal investigator on the side and they uncover the shocking truth behind the history of the house and exactly what evil is lurking around.

HOUSEBOUND at its best is interesting. The twists and turns the story take are engaging and it does have some memorable moments. The film immediately suffers from a completely obnoxious and annoying relationship between the mother and daughter. Their domestic fights are meant to be played up and offer a bit of humor to the film but it is grating on the nerves. There really is nothing funny about it. I think the performances in the film are good as is the direction. The overall tone of the film is just too muddy and doesn't manage to juggle the horror and the lighthearted aspects.

Unfortunately, HOUSEBOUND reminds me of a take on The People Under The Stairs without elevating itself above the middle-the-road- quality that Wes Craven's film has. I would be lying if I said HOUSEBOUND is all bad because it really isn't but I did find myself a bit bored or even worse, annoyed by characters, more often than not.

The Audio & Video
XLRator Media gives HOUSEBOUND a home on DVD under its Macabre line. The release is a good one overall. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer has a nice sharpness and quality to it. Colors and detail levels are good and there's no damage to speak of. The Dolby Digital (2.0 or 5.1) track is clear and free of any hiccups or background noise. The mix is good so there's no need to reach for the remote to adjust volume level. 

The Extras
-Audio commentary with the director
-Deleted Scenes

The Bottom Line
HOUSEBOUND may not have clicked with me but I wouldn't doubt that it finds an audience that appreciates its offbeat humor and thinks it works. I suggest giving it a rental viewing to see for yourself. 

HOUSEBOUND is available HERE

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings (Blu-ray Review) - Scream Factory

Directed By: Jeff Burr
Written By: Ivan Chachornia, Constantine Chachornia
Starring: Ami Dolenz, Andrew Robinson, Steve Kanaly
Color/88 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: November 18, 2014

The Film
Years ago a tormented boy was murdered during a mean spirited prank by other kids. Now a group of teens has unwittingly unleashed the monster known as Pumpkinhead and the tortured boy's soul is guiding the monster's vicious killings. Pumpkinhead has to be stopped but how do you stop him without further hurting the innocent child within?

PUMPKINHEAD 2: BLOOD WINGS is simply an underrated sequel. I almost never see it discussed on horror message boards or at conventions but it is an entertaining film and is another example that the 90s weren't the terrible years, barren of any good horror movies that they sometimes get called. The thick atmosphere and mood of the original is instead replaced with a bit more excess and camp here but it doesn't hurt the film. The plot is something that has been done before but it is tried and true and it allows Pumpkinhead to be brutal, perhaps even meaner than before.

I don't think we'll ever see the day when PUMPKINHEAD 2 is considered a classic, though I'm sure it does have its fans that  would call it that, but it is a really fun horror movie. It doesn't have to be a classic, or art, or this or that. It is a campy, early 90s horror movie with some gore and good entertainment value. And it doesn't have to be anything more than that.

The Audio & Video
Scream Factory delivers a beautiful Blu-ray for this film that was mainly overlooked on DVD with only a crappy fullscreen release that looked like crap. Scream Factory has given fans the release they've wanted and deserved with an attractive 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has very good sharpness. Colors are warm and vivid without looking artificially boosted. Skin tones look natural and healthy and have good detail as do textures and surfaces. The English DTS-HD stereo audio track is a quality mix, with crystal clarity and no background noise. There's also no damage to the track and the level mix is well done. A great job overall. 

The Extras
A decent lineup of extras here inlcuding:
-Interview with director Jeff Burr
-"Re-creating The Monster" - a 32 minute+ featurette featuring interviews with Greg Nicotero, Gino Cragnale, and Mark McCracken
-Behind-the-scenes footage
-Audio Commentary with Jeff Burr

The Bottom Line
PUMPKINHEAD 2 is one of the more entertaining and well made early 90s horror films. It stands up well to the Stan Winston classic and deserves a bigger audience. 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Werewolf Woman (Blu-ray Review) - Raro Video

Directed By: Rino Di Silvestro
Written By: Rino Di Silvestro
Starring: Annik Borel, Tino Carraro, Howard Ross
Color/97 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: October 28, 2014

The Film
After being raped, a woman secludes herself in her family's countryside estate where she becomes obsessed with a family myth that her relative had been a werewolf several generations earlier. It doesn't help that the supposed werewolf looks identical to the woman and her fractured mind allows this obsession to consume her and lead to numerous murderous encounters with men and anyone she encounters on the night of a full moon.

WEREWOLF WOMAN is a unique take on werewolf movies. There are some bizarre sequences with lycantrhopes that feature some makeup effects that on the surface don't look very good but somehow work for the bizarre scenario they're a part of but this is film is driven more by the madness of a woman with a psycho-sexual disorder, than by silver bullets and wolf men. I knew very little about this movie going in to it so all I could hope for was to be a fan of it and I immediately found myself enjoying what I was watching. The acting and writing are solid which isn't always the case in bizarre horror productions of the 1970s. There's an understated score that adds to the film without having to make itself the star of any particular area and there's a good bit of nudity and blood flowing as well.

The film takes a bit of an awkward turn during the final act where it suddenly loses all of its personality and becomes every bit of a rape/revenge film ala I Spit On Your Grave. The shift in tone is a bit jarring and while it does eventually lead back to the film's true tone for the finale the film never quite recovers from it, not giving the viewer enough time to digest what just happened or why. It doesn't make WEREWOLF WOMAN a bad film, not by any stretch, but it does knock it down a notch.

The Audio & Video
Raro Video's 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer is very nice. The picture has a good sharpness to it with high levels of detail in surfaces, textures and close ups of actors. Skin tones are natural and not at all waxy. There's no overuse of DNR and no edge enhancement noticeable. The audio comes in a 2.0 Italian track with English subtitles. The audio is crisp and clear, free of any distracting background noise or imperfections. It features a good mix between dialogue and the score. The English subtitles are perfectly timed and seem to be translated nicely as they read quite naturally. 

The Extras
-Video interview with the director
-English theatrical trailer
-Italian theatrical trailer
-Booklet on the film by Chris Alexander of Fangoria Magazine

The Bottom Line
I highly recommend WEREWOLF WOMAN for fans off slightly offbeat but fully exploitative and raunchy horror films. 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mondo Cannibal (DVD Review) - Intervision

Directed By: Bruno Mattei
Written By: Bruno Mattei, Giovanni Paolucci
Starring: Helena Wagner, Claudio Morales, Cindy Jelic Matic
Color/91 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: November 11, 2014

The Film
A famous news reporter's network is on the verge of shutting down due to poor ratings when she gets the station and co-workers on board with a story that will take them into the heart of the jungle to a do a story on a tribe of cannibals. The story isn't juicy enough and the news group quickly takes advantage of their situation by faking stories, and terrorizing the natives by killing and raping them until the native tribe fights back.

I'm a big fan of cannibal and jungle horror films. I can overlook quite a bit of bullshit in them and simply enjoy their excess of gore, nudity and explicit content but there's just not a good movie hiding underneath the surface of MONDO CANNIBAL. This is a lazy and totally unexceptional jungle horror film that is weak and low rent even for Bruno Mattei standards. It looks cheap, it feels cheap and beyond that it is an obvious ripoff of every other cannibal horror film, even one done a year earlier by Mattei himself. It's more than a bit disappointing.

MONDO CANNIBAL is weaker than I could have ever hoped and certainly meets the lowest expectations I could imagine for an early 21st century cannibal horror film. There's some graphic content full of gore and sex that does give the film a bit of splatter factor including a forced C-Section that is rather nasty that gore hounds may enjoy but overall MONDO CANNIBAL isn't a good film.

The Audio & Video
Intervision gives MONDO CANNIBAL its North American debut on DVD with a 4x3 full frame transfer that maintains the film's original aspect ratio. The digital photography is middle of the road material. It looks decent but far from great or "film like". Sharpness is good and color reproduction is solid. Overall this early 2000s production takes advantage of cheaper production techniques and manages to look decent despite not being a truly proper aspect ratio. The 2.0 English audio track is a dub track, as the movie didn't record live sound. The track mixing is fine and while the audio is nothing special it gets the job done.

The Extras
A trailer for the film is the lone extra.

The Bottom Line
I'm a huge fan of jungle and cannibal horror and consider the Italian cannibal cycle one of my favorite cycles of film but MONDO CANNIBAL is simply a very weak film that I suggest only the biggest fans of the genre check out. 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Demons and Demons 2 (Blu-ray Review) - Synape Films

Italy/1985, 1986
Directed By: Lamberto Bava
Written By: Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Dardan Sacchetti, Franco Ferrini
Starring: Urbano Barberini, Bobby Rhodes, Asia Argento
Color/181 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: November 11, 2014

The Films
The DEMONS legacy starts with a theater full of people viewing a strange horror film when one of the audience members begins to transform into a demon after being cut by a cursed prop from the film. Her nasty transformation quickly turns into a violent blood thirst as she attacks the other patrons who find that the theater is totally enclosed and there is no way out. The survivors band together to fight the demons in hopes of find an escape. Then in part 2, years after the demons ran rampant on the world and people fought for survival and exterminated the monsters they're back when the cursed film plays across TV screens in a high rise apartment building coming out of the TV itself before terrorizing a birthday party and a health spa.

The DEMONS films (not counting the unofficial sequels that reached as high as part 6 if you look at some films' alternate titles) are a pair of movies that purely exemplify their time and place in horror movie history. They're perfectly cheesy, over the top 80s gore fests oozing with sloppy, gooey violence. Many Italian horror fans have mentioned that they would have loved to see a Dario Argento zombie film but these films are pretty much what you'd get. Argento co-wrote and produced both films and Lamberto Bava was his protege for many years. Argento's influence is all over these movies (and so are his daughters as Fiore appears in the first and Asia appears in the second).

DEMONS is simply a horror classic, damn near bordering on masterpiece. It is fucking terrific in every way. DEMONS 2 is a step back, as many sequels are but remains a damn good and immensely entertaining movie with its recycling of Bobby Rhodes who moves on from a pimp in the first film to a personal trainer in the sequel and is a fucking badass in both and Brit Pop soundtrack that is a noticeable detour (but one that works) from the heavy metal soundtrack that drives the first film. My love for these movies is immense and if you've never seen them then I beg you to stop wasting your time and get to it!

The Audio & Video
Give Synapse Films the home video crown. These Blu-rays are about as perfect as perfect gets when it comes to 30 year old Italian horror films. I don't see how they could look better. The 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers are gorgeous with intense sharpness, perfectly vivid color reproduction and extremely clean and beautifully restored prints. The audio options included on these Blu-rays are English only, so the Italian options included on the limited special editions aren't available but the English track is the way to go in my opinion. The tracks are crystal clear, with no distortions, audible hiccups or background noise. The mix in tracks is spot on as well. 

The Extras
These "movie only" editions only include a trailer for their respective film. The limited edition Steelbook releases are beyond packed for the DEMONS enthusiast. 

The Bottom Line
After fans clamored for a more affordable option for the more casual DEMONS fan, Synapse comes through with these standard edition releases that still blow many Blu-rays that are heavier with special features out of the water. If you don't want to spend the premium price for the premium limited edition releases then these versions provide you with the same incredible A/V quality for the films (which is the most important part!). I highly suggest you jump on these releases (and even more so the limited edition Steelbooks for all that's good here plus hours and hours of bonus features) because they're great movies with absolutely stellar releases.

DEMONS is available HERE and DEMONS 2 is available HERE

Monday, November 10, 2014

Soulmate (DVD Review) - Revolver

Directed By: Axelle Carolyn
Written By: Axelle Carolyn
Color/103 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: October 28, 2014

The Film
 Audrey has just moved in to a house in the countryside of Wales after a filed suicide attempt following the death of her husband. Hoping the peace and tranquility of the country setting will get her back in good mental health Audrey soon begins to hear noises around the house and finds it to be haunted. The dormant spirit has risen with the presence of a new occupant but Audrey decides to stay after learning the tragic and somewhat cruel fate of the person she believes to be the spirit. Audrey and the spirit find that they're kindred spirits and become close until Audrey refuses to make the ultimate sacrifice to stay with the ghost forever.

SOULMATE takes on an interesting angle for haunted house films with seeing the ghost and the haunted bond and share memories which set the stage for the horror to come. The cast give good performances and the ghost has a classic simple character design. I think SOULMATE runs on a bit too long and is perhaps a bit too straight forward with the outcome but remains worthy of a watch for something a bit different than most films of the sort.

The Audio & Video
Revolver gives SOULMATE  a home on DVD with a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The color palette is a bit muted giving the film a dreary overcast look that fits the mood of the Welsh setting. There's no damage to the picture and overall it looks pretty good. The 2.0 stereo audio track does a fine job handling the dialogue and score with a good mix, no background noise or audible annoyances.

The Extras
-"Halloween Kid" short film
-"The Last Post" short film
-Interview with director Axelle Carolyn

The Bottom Line
SOULMATE is decent despite being rather predictable in spots. The relationship of our main characters make it worth a viewing.

SOULMATE is available HERE  and for download on the iTunes store HERE

Friday, November 7, 2014

In The Land Of The Cannibals (DVD Review) - Intervision

Directed By: Bruno Mattei
Written By: Bruno Mattei, Giovanni Paolucci
Starring: Claudio Morales, Lou Randall, Cindy Jelic Matic
Color/93 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: November 11, 2014

The Film
A team of commandos head into the jungles of Brazil to rescue a politician's daughter who has been kidnapped by a cannibal tribe deep within. This team of hotheaded stereotypes joins up with a couple of locals including a guide and a man that looks to have been a person of a jungle tribe at one time or another. The teams heads in to the jungle armed to the teeth with a prisoner of their own to lead them to the tribe but quickly find that all of the combat training and automatic rifles in the world couldn't prepare them for the horrors found in these jungles.

IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS is a modern day piece of sleaze that is straight out of the late 70s/early 80s cannibal film cycle that quickly rose to prominence in Italy. Filmed in the Philippines, Mattei uses his location to his advantage getting some great location shots, despite not really showing anything inherently terrifying about the jungles such as snakes, spiders or other dangerous wildlife until later in the film. The first half of the film not only feels like, but is a cheap retread of Cannibal Holocaust, undoubtedly the king of cannibal exploitation. Ruggero Deodato's classic scenes are ripped off one by one and I counted no less than a half dozen such scenes until I finally gave up and just watched the rest of the movie. I wouldn't say it hurt the film as IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS isn't a particularly strong film either way, but it certainly made you realize just how cheap this movie really is.

Bruno Mattei is no stranger to cheap movies. Many of his films have ripped off far more impressive films in one way or another but that doesn't make me less of a fan. It just shows an exploitation filmmaker being exploitative, for better or worse. It almost gives me a laugh thinking about it. IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS is pretty action packed however, with plenty of shoot outs, gory cannibal corpses, and all of the classic tropes of the genre you'd expect. Yes, even a snake meets its maker at one point which is a bit upsetting as this isn't the 1970s anymore when it could be argued that it would be a bit more acceptable. I'm not one to get up in arms about the animal cruelty in these types of cannibal horror films and I'll go as far as saying I think watching Cannibal Holocaust with the "Cruelty Free" version is sacrilege but those were different times in different circumstances. I highly doubt the cast of this film ate the snake that was brutalized in this film. If I'm wrong so be it.

Alas, that is the type of film we're dealing with. IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS is nothing more than cheap entertainment at its best, a ripoff of better films and the going for the wrong side of exploitation filmmaking but I can't say I didn't enjoy it for what it was- cheap, sleazy and of questionable nature.

The Audio & Video
This movie was shot on decent quality digital cameras that seem to be a bit above typical consumer level cameras of the time but nothing I'd venture to call "professional level" equipment. Intervision Picture Corp. has released the debut DVD in a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio that seems to be the original filming aspect ratio. The picture has a good sharpness to it taking in to consideration the equipment used along with solid detail levels and color representation. It certainly isn't film but I can't really complain about the PQ too much. The audio track, a 2.0 English dub track as Mattei didn't film with live sound,  which is probably for the best, sounds good with no background noise or audio hiccups (obviously). A live audio track would have meant dealing with all of the distractions present while filming and the Italian film industry classically didn't film with live sound so I think of it as a nice little throwback to the heyday of these cannibal films.

The Extras
A trailer for the film is the lone extra.

The Bottom Line
This cheap ripoff of classic exploitation does hold some value as time wasting entertainment. It provides enough gore and guts to satisfy the appetites of fans of the messy stuff. Recommended for die hard fans of jungle horror.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Phobia (2013)

Mack suffers from Agoraphobia, a panic disorder where a person fears situations and/or places that they feel like they can't escape, ever since the night his wife was killed in a car crash. He now lives the life of a shut-in, earning money by transcribing courtroom proceedings. The only visitors in Mack's life are his friend Taylor, his Psychiatrist and Bree, the girl who delivers his groceries. Mack's relationship with Bree begins to make Mack feel a bit more human but a home invader brings Mack crashing down and he begins to see visions of his dead wife, hear voices tell him disturbing things, and believes an evil shadowy woman haunts his home. Mack's delusions and fears come to a head when he finds himself covered in blood and trapped outside of his home.

PHOBIA is a close quartered horror film, appropriately enough, that needs capable acting and likeable characters to succeed. Thankfully the cast is competent and very likeable, especially Mack and Bree who hold the audience in their hand as we hope for a happy resolution for the pair. The film's horror elements come from a psychological standpoint along with more visually graphic methods such as naked corpses, blood and weird spider transformations.

While the film succeeds with its characters, it does fall victim to try to do too much visually instead of leaving it to the viewer's imagination and letting the horrors set in a bit more subtly and subconsciously, relying a bit too much on weak effects and sight gags. PHOBIA doesn't overdo it to the point where it takes the viewer out of the film so the harm done is kept to a minimum and ends up being a film worthy of indie horror fans' time.

PHOBIA is available HERE

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Doctor And The Devils (Blu-ray Review) - Scream Factory

Directed By: Freddie Francis
Written By: Dylan Thomas, Ronald Harwood
Starring: Timothy Dalton, Jonathan Pryce, Twiggy
Color/93 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: November 4, 2014

The Film
Thomas Rock is a bright young anatomy professor and doctor in 1820s England who hires a pair of grave robbers to secure more bodies for his studies as the medical board's supply isn't enough. The team of grave robbers figure out that the fresher the bodies they deliver the more money they'll earn and their game of grave robbing quickly turns to murder and the victims begin getting too close and personal for Dr. Rock.

THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS is a take on the Burke And Hare story which has been done plenty of times but rarely as good as it was done by director Freddie Francis here. Francis was a big player in the 60s and 70s for Hammer and his skill behind the camera is only made greater by a cast including Timothy Dalton, Julian Sands, Twiggy and Jonathan Pryce. The cast truly is stellar from top to bottom. The set pieces are big and elegant and the foggy exteriors are moody and a bit creepy.

THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS oozes atmosphere and has more than its fair share of violence along with an awesome opening credit song and sequence. THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS is something you should seek out.

The Audio & Video
Scream Factory's 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is simply gorgeous. The detail level in both surfaces and textures are excellent. Skin tones are natural and healthy without looking at all waxy. The color palette in this film is a bit subdued with the foggy London setting but still they are recreated very nicely and naturally. There's no edge enhancement and black levels are deep and handled very well. The 2.0 DTS-HD master audio track is in excellent condition with a perfect mix of soundtrack and dialogue tracks. The track is crystal clear with no background noise or audible hiccups.

The Extras
Special features include an audio commentary track by film historian Steve Haberman along with interviews from Executive Producer Mel Brooks and producers Jonathan Sanger and Randy Auerbach. The theatrical trailer is also included.

The Bottom Line
THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS is a film that deserves a much bigger audience and reputation and hopefully this disc from Scream Factory is the open door for new fans to find it through as the quality of the disc lives up to the quality of the film itself.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Audrey Rose (Blu-ray Review) - Twilight Time

Directed By: Robert Wise
Written By:Frank De Felitta
Starring: Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck
Color/113 Minutes/PG
Region A
Release Date: October 14, 2014

The Film
A well off family is shaken when their daughter Ivy changes from a happy girl into a girl terrorized by nightmares, visions of a nasty death and seemingly doesn't respond to her own name. Ivy's parents are contacted by a man claiming that his deceased daughter has been reincarnated in Ivy and is willing to go to extreme lengths to prove it while Ivy's illness and episodes are getting more dangerous as each day passes.

AUDREY ROSE has a lot of talent on board from director Robert Wise who won an Oscar for directing West Side Story, and also directed horror classics such as The Haunting, The Body Snatcher and Curse Of The Cat People. There's also star power in front of the camera with Anthony Hopkins and Marsha Mason. It is sort of baffling how the movie simply does not succeed at being a good film. AUDREY ROSE is essentially two hours of a girl screaming in her sleep, whining for her dad or crying and Anthony Hopkins yelling "Audrey Rose!" over and over. Simply put, this film is fucking boring. There's a powerful, effective and well done opening scene and then it quickly turns in to soap opera type shit. I don't doubt that there are fans of this film that got more out of it than I did but it nearly put me to sleep.

The Audio & Video
Twilight Time gives AUDREY ROSE it's debut Blu-ray release with mixed results. The 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer has a nice natural film look and a healthy grain structure. Colors look good but lack a certain punch. Detail level could be higher and the overall sharpness to the picture could be improved upon but it is a better looking transfer than what DVD could offer. The English 2.0 DTS-HD audio track sounds very good. It is a crystal clear track with no background noise, popping or crackling. The mix is well done between both channels and dialogue and score compliment each other nicely.

The Extras
This limited edition (3,000 copies) features an isolated score track, a trailer and a booklet.

The Bottom Line
If you're a fan of the film the Blu-ray is worth your while but if you're not acquainted with the film yet I suggest seeing it before you spend the money on this release.

AUDREY ROSE is available HERE

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Believers (Blu-ray Review) - Twilight Time

Directed By: John Schlesinger
Written By: Mark Frost
Starring: Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver
Color/114 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: October 14, 2014

The Film
Martin Sheen plays Cal, a recently widowed police psychologist who is dealing with a series of child murders that seem to be part of a ritual being performed by a group who practices Santeria. Eventually it becomes evident that the reach of this group's evil extends to the top of corporate power and dangerously close to Cal and his family.

I really wanted to like THE BELIEVERS. I like the plot and the film has a great cast who are more than up to the challenge here. Unfortunately this film just doesn't pack the powerful punch in the writing and give us anything exciting to really grasp on to. There's no payoff for taking the journey with the film. Even the climax itself is just bland. It's a shame that the script is without that signature moment that could have really turned this film from something decent into a near classic. THE BELIEVERS isn't a bad movie but its simply average and it had all the pieces to be something bigger.

The Audio & Video
The Blu-ray from Twilight Time has a nice A/V presentation including a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that features a sharp picture with great detail level in textures and surfaces along with natural skin tones. There's no signs of DNR or edge enhancement or other digital tampering. The print is clean and we likely won't see a better looking print outside of 35mm. The 2.0 DTS-HD audio track is crystal clear with no background noise or audible hiccups. The levels are mixed perfectly. 

The Extras
This limited edition (3,000 copies) Blu-ray includes a booklet, an isolated score track and a trailer

The Bottom Line
THE BELIEVERS has a good plot and good acting but strings it along for too long and doesn't reward the viewer for the time they invested into the film enough to warrant a high recommendation. 


Saturday, November 1, 2014

October Horror Challenge 2014 - Final Days & Wrap Up

It's hard to believe that October is already gone and it's November. Winter will soon be here and I'll be miserable from the cold. The nice 50 degree weather of October is what I love. So, another October gone and the challenge is over. I'll give a rundown on the last four movies viewed then some final thoughts of the challenge and some fun stats at the end.

MORTUARY is a movie I've wanted to see for a long time. The artwork is something that I've always thought was cool and finally seeing it I have to say I wasn't disappointed. An 80s slasher co-starring Bill Paxton where the killer has a cool look with his face paint and using an embalming tool as his weapon of choice. It's a bit slow in areas but has a cool story and is solid throughout.

A long overdue viewing of WITCHBOARD was next, a movie I really enjoy but don't visit too often for whatever reason. The creepy and sometimes a bit cheesy movie from Kevin S. Tenney who also did the original Night of the Demons is effective and holds up to the years between viewings.

The last two films of the month were traditional viewings that I watch every year, TRICK 'R TREAT and HALLOWEEN. There's not much left to be said about either of them at this point but TRICK' TREAT has now risen to a perfect score from me. I love everything about the film and it perfectly sets up the Halloween season and is simply an amazing movie. It's the type of movie that demands repeated viewings as there's always something new to pick out or catch.

And as for HALLOWEEN, it is my second favorite film of all time so there's not much else to say.

Today's Rundown
Mortuary - 7/10
Witchboard - 8/10
Trick 'R Treat - 10/10
Halloween - 10/10

After last year I said I wouldn't be trying to for 100 movies in a month again as I just wasn't having fun last year. Well, the bug bit me again and I went for it and crossed the century mark, just barely. This month's total was the second lowest total I've had in my 6 years of doing the challenge, with only the first year having a lower total (100).

There were times during this month where the piss poor quality of films really sucked the enjoyment out of the challenge for me yet again. I can tolerate bad movies but this year had so many epically awful films that really made this challenge a challenge. There also was a shortage of first time viewings that I loved. Sure there are plenty I liked but I don't think there was a real stand out first time viewing which is a bit of a bummer.

I can't say if I plan trying for 100 movies again next year or not. It will be a decision left to be made closer to then but I will definitely be doing 31 days of horror. I want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who kept up with me during the month (and through the rest of the year too!). You're all the best and I hope to keep putting up posts and reviews for you for a long time.

Now on to the numbers...

Total entires - 101
Films - 100
TV Episodes - 2
Viewings By Format - Blu-ray (42), DVD (48), Stream (5), Theater (1), TV (5), VHS (1)
First Time Viewings - 75 (75%)
Average Film Score - 5.85/10
Best New Viewings - Death Spa, Wild Zero, The Houses October Built, The Doctor And The Devils, Plague Of The Zombies
Worst New Viewings - V/H/S Viral, Wrong Turn 6, Leprechaun Origins, Gore-Met Zombie Chef From Hell, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep
Biggest Surprise - The Houses October Built
Biggest Letdown - Monkey Shines

And a few quick thoughts for good measure - It doesn't matter how deep I dig into Hammer I keep finding winners. There's never enough Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee and this month didn't even come close to having enough. The same goes for Dario Argento. Fuck WWE studios. So many movies with a score less than 3/10. I'll take a pass on future movies related to The Conjuring. What happened to theatrical horror in October? My brain hurts.