Thursday, November 15, 2018

ANTHROPOPHAGOUS - Severin Films Blu-ray Review

Directed By: Joe D'Amato
Written By: George Eastman, Joe D'Amato
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: September 25, 2018

The Film
ANTHROPOPHAGUS is an infamous horror film from Italian director Joe D'Amato who is responsible for some of the sleaziest and most shocking horror films to come out of Italy. The story centers around a group of vacationers who find themselves trapped on a small Italian island that has been seemingly abandoned and all of the buildings left empty. They qiuckly discover that a disfigured monster of a man has been terrorizing the island and surrounding waters and eating his victims to stay alive.

Joe D'Amato and George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori) co-wrote this pretty straight forward horror film that works because the gore sequences are linked together by an atmosphere of uneasy dread and seclusion for the group trying to find a way off the island without becoming the grim reaper's lunch. Pacing was a bit of an issue for me on my first viewing of the movie but as the years have gone by and I've subsequently seen the film several times that issue has really gone by the wayside for me. I have no issue with the pacing and think there's plenty of action throughout the movie, giving us enough to wrap around the two huge hitting gore scenes that will always pop up in discussion of the film. The acting is on par for Italian horror of this era but the inclusion of a young Serena Grandi playing a blind girl, surviving in the shadows of this island until she's found by the main group adds an interesting dynamic to the group and she also proves a capable counterpart to Tisa Farrow and Saverio Vallone.

ANTHROPOPHAGUS is a pretty straight forward horror film that relies on its signature kills and gore for a reaction and it works as nearly forty years after its release the gore moments are still shocking and very well done and George Eastman is still a horrifying sight. It may not be a work of art but it is one of the most notable Video Nasties and for good reason.

The Audio & Video
Severin Films delivers ANTHROPOPHAGUS on to Blu-ray for its US high definition debut with a new 2K scan from the original 16mm negative. Previously available on DVD in the US and on Blu-ray from 88 Films in the UK, Severin's new release outshines them all. The picture is sharper than any previous release with a rich and natural color palette. Detail is strong and beautifully displays the gruesome special effects, monster makeup and finer textures around the abandoned island.

The film is presented in either English or Italian in a 2.0 DTS HD Master Audio mix, each with optional English subtitles and closed captioning. The audio quality is quite clear and free of any distortions or background noise. It may not be the most dynamic mix but it's properly mixed and sounds as it should.

The Extras
-"Don't Fear The Man-Eater" - An interview with George Eastman
-"The Man Who Killed  The Anthropophagous" - An interview with star Saverio Vallone
-"Cannibal Frenzy" - An interview with special effects artist Pietro Tenoglio
-"Brother and Sister In Editing" - Interview with Bruno Micheli
-"Inside Zora's Mouth" - Interview with actress Zora Kerova
-Trailer Selection

The Bottom Line
Thanks to Severin Films ANTHROPOPHAGUS finally has a release good enough to match its reputation of a gory classic of the Video Nasty era.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

MANDY - Blu-ray Review (RLJE Films)

Directed By: Panos Cosmatos
Written By: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
Color/121 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: October 30, 2018

The Film
Panos Cosmatos stormed on to the scene in 2010 with his film Beyond The Black Rainbow which focused on high style and visuals as more important pieces than traditional storytelling and while it wasn't a total grand slam it certainly made an impression. Now eight years later Cosmatos has finally made his second feature film- MANDY. This horror film starring Nic Cage as a logger hellbent on revenge for the murder of his wife features many of the same visual styles, color schemes and overall atmosphere that BTBR does.

MANDY is a much simpler story although it is presented in two vicious halves with the first being a bit of a slow build toward the ultimate climax that will set Nicolas Cage into his frenzied fury of revenge where he will wield everything from shotguns to the most ridiculous handcrafted battle axe you've ever seen. The first act is wonderfully crafted and deliberately paced. You immediately connect about this husband and wife and Andrea Riseborough who plays the titular character is simply someone you care about with a warm and heartfelt performance. The tension and violence builds until the ultimate act of hate is committed and in incredibly vicious fashion. And then the second half kicks in right where the first left off and the pedal is pushed fully to the floor and Nic Cage goes into full fucking Nic Cage mode and becomes an absolute madman of the screen from the moment he gives us a signature Nic Cage freak out and loses any and all attachment to reality and becomes a husband hellbent on revenge.

What ensues is an acid bath of color, sound, blood and guts, and vivid and extreme imagery. MANDY pushes the senses to their limits and is a visceral affair from start to finish. You will experience harsh angles, extreme violence, and the Cheddar Goblin. You will remember MANDY whether you hate it or love it. I love it.

The Audio & Video
Boy oh boy does the Blu-ray from RLJE do MANDY justice. This film is visually striking to put it plainly and this Blu-ray that features a 2.40:1 aspect ratio simply does it justice. The floods of color with mainly hues of red are popping and the detail is exceptional. Black levels are deep and show no signs of blocking or compression. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is powerful and attacks the audience in the same way Nic Cage attacks his enemies. It's vicious. It's also crystal clear and free of distortions and background noise.

The Extras
Extra features include a behind-the-scenes featurette and a selection of deleted and extended scenes.

The Bottom Line
MANDY's Blu-ray treatment is worthy of the modern classic that it has already become. Highly recommended and damn near essential viewing.

MANDY is available HERE

Saturday, November 3, 2018

October Horror Challenge 2018 Days 30 and 31

Let's wrap this bad boy up shall we?

The last 2 days were pretty strong with three out of the five viewings being new to me so let's start with THE BONEYARD from 1991. This movie is just plain fun. A detective, a psychic and the night crew of a morgue get locked in with three mummified corpses that aren't actually the children they appear to be but demons that can mutate their victims into hideous and monstrous versions of themselves... including the poodle. This is just a blast. Phyllis Diller as the spunky old receptionist at the morgue is a delight and it's just a shame we don't get a bit more giant monster poodle mayhem. Seriously, this thing is bloody, wild, and fun.

Then came THE UNNAMABLE which adapts the H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name into a campy monster movie that I've always enjoyed. The devilmangoatbeast monster is horrifying and makes me uncomfortable every time I see it. It gets a bit dry in the middle but it's a spooky little slice of Lovecraft that always satisfies.

And we wrap things up with day 31, Halloween. I had no plans for the big day sadly. Growing up sucks. My depression was kept to a minimum knowing I would have a chance to see the Suspiria remake later that night though. I managed to get through the lame day with an early viewing of SEVEN WOMEN FOR SATAN who's artwork screams "The French movie banned in France!". This is a dreamy, surreal vision into a wealthy man who dreams of torturing and killing beautiful women and acts on his fantasy when a couple with car troubles seek refuge in his castle and ask to see the castle's dungeon and torture devices. Dreams and reality intertwine in this one that has a few really memorable sequences and is overall pretty decent Euro horror.

Then it was time for the day's main event, Luca Guadagnino's SUSPIRIA. In short, I liked it. Quite a bit actually, but this film deserves another viewing so I can sort out some questionable feelings I have about it. It certainly sets itself apart from the original Argento classic while keeping the original spirit in tact. This is not a ripoff or sad impostor of the original but doesn't forget why it exists. I recommend checking it out if you get the chance.

And what better way to end the challenge than following up the remake of Suspiria with the original? My favorite film of all time. Enough said.

Today's Rundown
The Boneyard - 7.5/10
The Unnamable - 7/10
Seven Women For Satan - 6/10
Suspiria '18 - 8/10
Suspiria - 10/10

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October Horror Challenge 2018 Day 29

TERROR ON TOUR is a rock & roll horror movie featuring a band called The Clowns who were played by a band called The Names from Illinois and weren't awful. The band's gimmick of painting themselves up like 4th rate Kiss wannabes and committing fake murder on stage has led to real murders being committed at their concerts. Well I sort of like this movie. Or what I could see of it. I don't think there's a single scene that is lit properly (or at all) so many of the killings, sex scenes and anything interesting is unintentionally left to the shadows. Director Don Edmonds previously made two Ilsa movies (She Wolf and Harem Keeper) so I know he knows how to make an exploitation film but maybe he forgot to call the lighting department on this one. It's a bit bland and repetitive obviously having little money to work with but it's still worth a look. It's just a shame that there's really no way this is ever going to look good because of the abysmal lighting.

PANIC aka Bakterion features the age old tale of a scientist doing something they probably shouldn't (messing around with highly dangerous bacteria and gerbils in this case) and transforming into a monster because of it (a deformed, goopy, mess of a man in this case). The puss and boil covered man runs amok on his town attacking residents and spreading disease all while eating the flesh of his victims. It's a bit slow, but it's a classic example of a monster on the loose romp but with a bit more slime to it. Italian schlock fans take note.

Today's Rundown
Terror On Tour 4.5/10
Panic 6/10

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Horror Challenge 2018 - Days 24-28

I was limited to a single movie each day during this stretch so I'm combining them all into this single post. 

Day 24 was possibly my favorite viewing of ANTHROPOPHAGUS that I've ever had due to the fantastic new Blu-ray from Severin Films. The movie has never looked this good before, even in the previous UK Blu-ray release from 88 Films. Severin's disc really improves the A/V quality. I love the atmosphere created in this gore classic and who doesn't love watching George Eastman munch on everyone within arm's reach before finally chowing down on his own intestines? People call this thing boring? Boring? Boring!? Absurd surely but boring it is not. 

The 80s nostalgia boom these last few years has been extremely hit or miss and SUMMER OF '84 is another case of that. While I think the mostly child cast does a really great job and the movie is undoubtedly well made it offers nothing new and feels like all of the effort was put in to creating the 80s look and setting and nothing into writing a fresh story. I don't want to rag on it too hard because it really is well made but it feels like a checklist of 80s nostalgia projects. 

Onto THE WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL, a nostalgia project that creates an entire world around a simple but effective story. This was the perfect thing to relax in bed with before having to wake up around 5am the next morning. It's silly, light and pure fun. 

KNOCK KNOCK is an Eli Roth film starring Keanu Reeves as an architect who is intruded upon by a pair of beautiful girls while working alone at home one night. These girls proceed to feed him lies about their situation and seduce him and then their true intentions come out the next morning and they drive him to his breaking point. Keanu's acting is about as bad as it has ever been which actually makes his freak out monologue worth seeking out on Youtube. Otherwise this movie is stupid and not worth a damn. 

A movie that has an alternate title of Dead Dudes In The House can't be bad, right? Especially when the art work has a group of dudes looking like a bootleg New Kids On The Block who aren't even in the movie hanging tough on the cover right? Right. THE DEAD COME HOME is quite a bit of fun featuring a group of teens fixing up this old house that is haunted by this ghastly old woman who slices and dices the teens bringing them back from the dead to help her bloody rampage. It's filled with some memorable kills, a good bit of blood and gore, and a fun spooky vibe. I dug it. 

Today's Rundown
Anthropophagus - 7.5/10
Summer Of '84 - 4/10
The WNUF Halloween Special - 8/10
Knock Knock - 3.5/10
The Dead Come Home - 6.5/10

Monday, October 29, 2018

October Horror Challenge 2018 Day 23

Screw the haters... I like Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN. Remove your expectations of what a Halloween movie should be and who Michael Myers is and just enjoy this entertaining modern slasher. It's laughable at times, especially early on when the movie is in full blown white trash mode but it's pretty brutal, has good music and Ken Foree's Joe Grizzly character is great. It's cheap entertainment and I'm okay with it.

Revisiting Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 was an experience. I was a full on hater of the sequel. I thought it was absolute trash, a laughable attempt at being artistic. Abysmally bad. Inept. Shit. Puke. Well, maybe I was a bit harsh on it. It still ranks toward the bottom of the Halloween franchise for me but I appreciated what Rob Zombie was trying to do here. I actually liked his version of Dr. Loomis who says fuck it and tries to get rich off of the whole ordeal from the first movie. I like that Rob Zombie tried to do something different. I felt like I had to take a good hard look at myself in the mirror and admit that I didn't hate it. I still don't think it's great, and that the white horse shit just doesn't add anything to that entire part of the story but this may be the biggest turn around I've ever had in the 10 years I've been doing this challenge. From absolutely hating something to thinking it's okay. I never expected that to happen with this one.

Despite being the target audience upon its release I had never seen more than a few minutes of HOCUS POCUS. This early 90s Disney flop has gained a cult following over the years with Disney even trying to turn it into Halloween's version of A Christmas Story with a continuous 24 hours marathon of the film. I can see why it has gained a following - it's cute and funny. It has some moments that younger kids would find spooky but not too scary. This is a fine movie to celebrate the season with but isn't top tier Disney.

THE ALPHABET KILLER... more like the generic horror thriller... The ABCs of been there, done that.

Today's Rundown
Halloween - 6/10
Halloween 2 - 5/10
Hocus Pocus - 6/10
Alphabet Killer - 4/10

October Horror Challenge 2018 Days 20-22

HELL HOUSE LLC isn't something I knew anything about until seeing a handful of people praise it for being an effective and well made found footage film. With reluctance I gave it a chance and by the end of it I found myself agreeing (for the most part) with the positive reviews. The acting was believable and it had some creepy moments. It's nothing groundbreaking but worth a watch especially for fans of this style of horror.

THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE has been highly praised in most of the reviews for it that I have seen. The film grabbed me immediately and pulled me in and I was excited to see where it was going. Something about Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox working as a father and son medical examiner team was just plain interesting to me and I liked their relationship and their dynamic. The "Jane Doe" corpse came in and a few of the things they found about the dead body were weird and creepy, building to something I was getting more and more excited to discover. And then the film turned into the horror movie it would be and it became entirely too obvious and familiar letting a promising slow burn build stumble and come up a few yards short of the goal line.

Then I decided to take a trip back to the Abbadon Hotel with HELL HOUSE LLL 2: THE ABBADON HOTEL and let me sum this one up as fast as I can for you. The filmmakers took everything that worked for the first one and threw it out the fucking window. The acting sucks. The story sucks. The twist ending sucks. It is simply fucking awful and everyone responsible for it should feel bad.

You might think that a movie called I MARRIED A VAMPIRE from 1986 would be fun right? What if I told you Troma distributed it theatrically? Well you'd be wrong, just like I was. The comedy isn't funny. The main girl is an obnoxious twat and I really don't have much nice to say at all.

And the long wait was finally over... The new HALLOWEEN film from director David Gordon Green forgets every film of the franchise except the original, wiping away the sister storyline, the Mark of Thorn storyline, and anything else you knew about Michael Myers post 1978. The storylines with Halloween are already messy enough so I wasn't upset about the direction they took this in and for the most part I had a good time with it. I didn't love it but I definitely liked it. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a strong performance, John Carpenter's score is a throwback to the quality of his classic soundtracks and there's some nasty kills.

Today's Rundown
Hell House LLC - 6/10
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe - 5/10
Hell House LLC 2 - 1/10
I Married A Vampire - 3/10
Halloween - 6.5/10