Tuesday, February 28, 2017

SLAUGHTERHOUSE (Blu-ray Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

Directed By: Rick Roessler
Written By: Rick Roessler
Starring: Sherry Bendorf Leigh, Joe Barton, Don Barrett
Color/85 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: February 28, 2017

The Film
Lester Bacon is in financial trouble and has been confronted by the town's lawyer, the sheriff and a rival slaughterhouse who wants to purchase his land and facility. Lester is fed up with the threats of being shut down and evicted he unleashes his oversized and mentally underdeveloped son Buddy on anyone that might be against them.

SLAUGHTERHOUSE is a video store staple of the 1980s where it found the majority of its audience after a brief theatrical tour. This slasher film is far from original but that doesn't stop it from being one of the better slasher film's from the later part of the decade that thrived on this type of film. Drawing obvious influence from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, SLAUGHTERHOUSE is a dirty, sweaty horror film with a massive 350+ pound madman squealing like the swine he loves so dearly. Yes, Buddy's lone form of communication of to squeal and grunt like a pig and it makes him an instant classic slasher antagonist. Joe Barton really portrays Buddy perfectly.

Director Rick Roessler made great use of the locations at his disposal with a dry, dusty produce plant and old equipment boneyard serving as the exteriors for the slaughterhouse and they make the film look like a million bucks (which was more than SLAUGHTERHOUSE cost to make.) The sprawling maze like interior freezers, grinders and meathook lined storage rooms give an overbearing sense of misdirection and confusion with potential death waiting around each and every turn. The film is violent and gory, with limbs getting lopped off, heads being crushed and bodies being thrown into the grinder but it also has a sense of humor which keep things a bit airier and fun which allow for frequent repeat viewings to remain entertaining and never too heavy.

It may never be considered one of the best slashers and sadly it didn't spawn any sequels because I think there was potential to continue the Bacon and Sons story, but SLAUGHTERHOUSE is highly entertaining and a really solid production. Roessler's script and direction give us just about everything we expect from a "slice and dice" picture and the cast does a really good job top to bottom as they fight through rain, mud, and cold corridors of the slaughterhouse. This is one of the higher quality slasher films to come out in the later part of the decade.

The Audio & Video
SLAUGHTERHOUSE has had a number of home video releases since being released in 1987, ranging from VHS to a rather shoddy DVD in 1999. For years it was simply an unattractive film to watch but the film gained a fanbase nevertheless. In early 2015 it received a Blu-ray release in the UK which was a bit of a revelation for the film. For nearly two years that was the best way to see it but Vinegar Syndrome has done what Vinegar Syndrome does by releasing an even better version with a brand new 2K scan and restoration from the 35mm interpositive. Colors have never looked this vivid and detail has never been this crisp. There's a healthy grain structure and the overall sharpness and clarity is a noticeable improvement over the previous Blu-ray released in England. The DTS-HDMA 5.1 audio mix is fantastic. A strong audio presentation that remains clear and free of distortions. Sound effects and dialogue play perfectly with the score and Buddy's guttural swine screams have never sounded more disturbing.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with Director Rick Roessler, Producer Jerry Encoe and Production Designer Michael Scaglione
-New Video Interview with Lead Actress Sherry Berndorf Leigh
-"Making A Low Budget Indie" Featurette with Rick Roessler
-"Producing SLAUGHTERHOUSE" - Interview with Jerry Encoe
-Archival Interviews with Director Rick Roessler and Producer Jerry Encoe from the 1999 DVD
-"Epilogue: 30 Years After The Slaughter" Featurette
-Vintage 1987 Radio Interviews
-Local News Coverage From The Film's Premiere
-Behind the Scenes Featurette
-"No Smoking" Snipe
-TV Spots
-Radio Spots
-Shooting Script Gallery
-Reversible Artwork

The Bottom Line
I was a fan of the previous British Blu-ray release of SLAUGHTERHOUSE but with Vinegar Syndrome's release now on the market it really isn't a case of picking one, it's a case of picking the better one. Vinegar Syndrome's release can easily be considered the definitive edition of SLAUGHTERHOUSE.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

BLUE MONEY (Blu-ray Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

Directed By: Alain Patrick
Written By: Alain Patrick
Starring: Alain Patrick, Barbara Caron, Inga Maria
Color/89 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: January 31, 2017

The Film
Jim supports his wife and baby daughter by making hardcore porn films, a highly lucrative but illegal profession. Their dream of buying a boat and sailing around the world falls apart when the Vice Squad cracks down on Jim, distributors begin to cheat him on profits and Jim has an affair with one of his actresses leading to his wife leaving him before he has a chance to make it all right.

BLUE MONEY is an interesting film, presented as a pseudo-documentary at times and a traditional narrative film with narration from Bob Chinn who was a very notable porno director and gives instant legitimacy to the film. BLUE MONEY was made by the people actually making adult films during the time period. It should be noted that this isn't a porno. Softcore at most but there are no hardcore shots. I consider it to be more of a straight forward drama and pseudo documentary than even a softcore film. Even in to the 1970s pornography was still a taboo and illegal in areas. BLUE MONEY is centered around that idea and tackles that morale issue to an extent. It is driven by Alain Patrick's character Jim and his journey to leave the world behind with his family despite his imperfections and mistakes you can't help but route for the guy and his wife and child.

BLUE MONEY isn't the smoothest film, it's a bit choppy in it's progression and editing but it draws you in and holds you there for all 89 minutes. It touches on social and morality issues, family issues while also being a character piece. I appreciate it more with each new viewing and I hope this Blu-ray release gives it the exposure it deserves.

The Audio & Video
BLUE MONEY has previously been released on DVD multipacks with up to five movies crammed on one disc. This is how I previously had seen the film and obviously this wasn't going to allow the best quality picture and sound but Vinegar Syndrome has exceeded expectations with yet another slam dunk release. The brand new 2K scan and restoration features a 1.85:1 transfer maintaining the film's original aspect ratio and it looks phenomenal. Skin tones, of which there's plenty, are fleshy and natural with no artificial waxiness from excessive DNR. Colors are recreated vividly and look true to life. The image is sharp, with strong detail and a crisp, clean image. The English audio is handled with a DTS-HDMA Mono mix which is free of any background noise, hissing, popping or other imperfections. The dialogue and soundtrack are blended perfectly to allow each to come through clearly. Optional English SDH subtitles are included.

The Extras
-"Making BLUE MONEY" video interview with Producer Bob Chinn
-"The Affairs Of Aphrodite" - Bonus feature film from 1970, directed by Alain Patrick
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Promotional Still Gallery
-Reversible Cover Art

The Bottom Line
BLUE MONEY has been an underrated and overlooked film taking a hard look at film and cultural history while remaining completely entertaining and sexy. It's the best of both worlds and I highly recommend everyone check this one out.

BLUE MONEY is available HERE

Thursday, February 23, 2017

DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER (Blu-ray Review) - Kino/Redemption

1964/Spain, France
Directed By: Jess Franco
Written By: Jess Franco, Nicole Guettard
Starring: Agnes Spaak, Marcelo Arroita-Jauregui, Hugo Blanco
Color/84 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: February 7, 2017

The Film
DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER aka The Secret Of Dr. Orloff or the more racy and perhaps confusing The Mistresses Of Dr. Jekyll, showcases the things I love about Jess Franco films and the shortcomings he has been known to have all in one 84 minute film. Though it is a sequel to 1961's The Awful Dr. Orlof it is only loosely connected. The plot concerns Melissa, a young college student visiting her aunt and uncle to settle the inheritance of her recently deceased father. Unbeknownst to her, her uncle has been working on an experiment to create a zombie like killer. Local police investigate the deaths while Melissa searches for answers into her father's death.

Jess Franco had a shoestring budget to work with during the production of DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER, small enough that various cast and crew received no pay for their work and Hugo Blanco was tasked with creating his own monster makeup. The look, that of a scaly, and possibly burned and blistered man, is simple yet effective and surprisingly well done by Blanco. Blanco's character sort of wraps up the production into one single character - effective despite it's faults. Franco makes the most out of some really nice looking locations, including the castle which he makes sure to show off as much as possible with his framing choices. I don't blame him one bit for getting every ounce of value out of it. A lot of time is also spent inside a jazz club, something these early Franco films are known for and frankly I feel many of these scenes are there to pad the film's runtime.

I think some of Jess Franco's best work are the early black and white horror films he crafted during the early to mid 1960s and though DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER isn't the cream of that crop it does have a good gothic atmosphere, an interesting if familiar mad scientists plot and a creepy monster and ends up being an enjoyable creepy little mystery.

The Audio & Video
Kino has released the latest entry into the Redemption Films with a new HD presentation giving the film previously unseen levels of detail and clarity on home video. While this is not a full restoration and there are still some rough spots in the source material with plenty of dirt and debris speckling the picture the high definition quality is never in question. Detail levels are strong especially in close ups. The monster's burned and blistered face makeup shows this more than anything else perhaps. The black and white photography has a great stark look with beautiful greys and deep blacks.

There are two audio choices, with French and English options both in DTS-HD 2.0 formats. Having listened to both tracks I found the English to be the track to listen to. Not only is it a crisper and clearer listening experience, as the French track has more issues with imperfections and background noise, the English dialogue simply presents the story and dialogue better and clearer. There are optional English subtitles available.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with Film Historian Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog Magazine
-Eleven minutes of additional more sexually explicit footage
-French Theatrical Trailer
-Italian Theatrical Trailer

The Bottom Line
DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER is an imperfect beast but it has many of the touches and flourishes that make these early Jess Franco horror films desirable and among his best work. Gothic horror fans should take note of this release. Recommended.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

SLASHER.com Hits DVD On March 7th

Chip Gubera's Slasher.com Hits DVD March 7th
Film Festival Hit Puts Sadistic Spin on Online Dating 
Available Nationwide from All Major Retailers

Los Angeles, CA -  MuchoMuchoMucho Productions and Firefly Films, in association with ITN Distribution, has announced the March 7th DVD release of Slasher.com.  The latest feature from horror director Chip Gubera (Song of the Dead, Academy of Doom, Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy), Slasher.com puts a gruesome twist on the perils of modern dating.  

Co-written by Gubera and Chelsea Andes, Slasher.com combines the time-honored tradition of young people facing unfathomable horrors in the wilderness with the everyday horror of meeting people online.  Ben Kaplan (ADDicted, Wingman Inc) and Morgan Carter star as the hapless would-be couple, anchoring a cast supported by R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Hatchet II), Jewel Shepard (Return of the Living Dead) and Grammy winner Delious Kennedy.

Slasher.com took home awards for Best Feature Film at the Bloody Horror International Film Festival in Ottawa, Best Horror Feature at the Hollywood Boulevard International Film Festival, the Golden Award at the Spotlight Horror Film Awards and Best Screenplay at the Optical Theatre Film Festival in Rome.  Jewel Shepard and R.A. Mihailoff were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively at the Optical Theatre Film Festival.

At a time where online dating could prove fatal, Jack and Kristy decide they're ready meet in person. Aiming for an adventurous first date, they plan a weekend getaway to a cozy cabin deep in the woodlands of rural Missouri. While discovering each other, they soon learn of the terrorizing horrors that the forest, and the family lurking there, has in store for outsiders.

The DVD release (SRP $14.93) of Slasher.com will be available at all major retailers, courtesy of ITN Distribution.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

COMET TV Beasts Of February Giveaway

Grab your silver bullets and wooden stakes because it’s the Beasts of February on COMET!

Full moons can be frightening and this month on COMET TV there are enough beasties to send a shiver down your spine and make you smile at the same time!

Whether you love the 1980’s classics Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too or prefer your beasts a little more out of this world with Species and Strange Invaders, COMET TV has you covered!

COMET, the newest & obviously coolest Sci-Fi Network has been showing the best in fun cult classic films and television shows! If you haven’t checked it out, you’re missing all the fun!

We also have an awesome prize pack giveaway for your readers that will get you in the Beast-like spirit!

The pack includes:

Two Limited Edition COMET TV Pint Glasses - Two glasses will be chosen out of four Limited Edition designs. If you can’t beat your inner beast, having a drink will soothe even the darkest soul!

One Heart Splatter Toy - There’s nothing a beast wants more than the heart of their victims, now you can beat them to the punch, just don’t squeeze too hard!

Fire Ants Hard Candy - The beasts have invaded! But now you can fight back and have fresh breathe at the same time!

Oozing Candy Eye Balls - Perfect for the beast in your house, these candy eye balls with an oozing gushing center will have your pack fighting for more!

Gummie Tarantulas - EEEK! Don’t be scared these Tarantulas aren’t coming to get YOU… You’re coming to get THEM! Unleash your inner beast and take a bite out of these former frightening foes. In delicious cherry and lime!

To Enter:
1. Send an email to celluloidterror@yahoo.com with subject "COMET FEBRUARY" 
2. Include your full shipping address (US addresses only)
3. Tell me which upcoming Comet movie is your favorite

Winner Selected March 3rd

Winners addresses must be submitted by March 10th.

Giveaway open to the U.S.

About Comet TV Feb Giveaway

COMET TV has all the spine tingling beasts you can sink your teeth into this February!

From the classic adolescent werewolf trials and tribulations of Teen Wolf to the outer world invasion of Species, catch any and all beasts airing this month on CometTV.com

Species (1995) 

Monday February 27 at 6/5C 

Tuesday February 28 at MIDNIGHT/11C

Species II (1998) 

Friday February 17 at 6/5C 

Thursday February 23 at 4/3C 

Tuesday February 28 at 6/5C

Species III (2004) 

Saturday February 18 at 6/5C 

Thursday February 23 at 6/5C

The Faculty (1998) 

Sunday February 26 at 10am/9C

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985) 

Friday February 24 at 4/3C 

Tuesday February 28 at 10am/9C

Empire of the Ants (1977) 

Saturday February 18 at 10/9C

Teen Wolf (1985) 

Wednesday February 22 at 4/3C 

Monday February 27 at 4/3C

Teen Wolf Too (1987) 

Friday February 17 at 8/7C 

Saturday February 18 at 8/7C 

Wednesday February 22 at 6/5C 

Tuesday February 28 at 4/3C

Strange Invaders (1983) 

Friday February 24 at 8/7C 

Saturday February 25 at 8/7C 

Monday February 27 at MIDNIGHT/11C

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) 

Sunday February 26 at 4/3C

Available on television digi-networks and online at CometTV.com, COMET offers something for everyone and has an incredible array of movies that you simply can’t get with a subscription to streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu.

VIDEO KILLER (DVD Review) - Wild Eye Releasing

Directed By: Richard Mansfield
Written By: Richard Mansfield
Starring: Michael Lieber, Darren Munn, Henry Regan
Color/80 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: September 13, 2016

The Film
After a series of strange knocks at her front door at the same time each day Amy receives a strange video tape featuring strange violent animations and a figure that is stalking her. Soon she realizes that she isn't the only person dealing with this and sets out to find the other victims in an effort to find out who is stalking and killing them.

Haunted video tapes have been a plot device in horror films for years, from The Ring series that was probably the peak of the subgenre to the more recent films that sometimes combine the idea with the found footage style to set up a plot that is rather inexpensive to produce. VIDEO KILLER falls into that category despite not being a full on found footage movie it does use the style along with traditional film making styles. The idea is to keep production costs down while creating a viable horror film setup. In that way VIDEO KILLER is most definitely successful because most of the scares involve doors opening on their own, flashes of creepy figures and other terrors that we only see the victims running away from.

The best moment of VIDEO KILLER is a nightmare moment when one of the victims hallucinates that he is being attacked by the ribbon from a VHS in the woods. I don't think I've seen something so unintentionally funny as a pile of film slithering along the ground while a man writhes in terror until it wraps around him, consuming him in fear until he awakens. I'd almost go as far to say VIDEO KILLER is worth watching for this sequence alone. Alas, it is not. VIDEO KILLER isn't a terrible production, the few cast members are actually fairly decent and there's moments where the direction is solid but there's just nothing to keep your attention. The same fleeting moments of suspense and horror are repeated and there's too many moments that come off as comedic. I liked the animation sequences featured on the haunted VHS tapes more than almost anything else and that should say something.

The Audio & Video
Wild Eye Releasing's DVD of VIDEO KILLER features an anamorphic widescreen transfer that is very attractive. Colors are warm and the picture has good clarity. Black levels are deep with no blocking issues while the English 2.0 audio mix is clear and has stable levels that don't fluctuate. There's no damage imperfections in how the audio is portrayed.

The Extras
- Deleted Scenes
- Killer Cartoons
- Short Films

The Bottom Line
VIDEO KILLER is another in a line of films centered around haunted video tapes. The sooner this trend in the genre fades away the better.

VIDEO KILLER is available HERE

Friday, February 17, 2017

HEAD OF THE FAMILY (Blu-ray Review) - Full Moon

Directed By: Charles Band
Written By: Charles Band, Neal Marshall Stevens
Starring: Blake Adams, Jacqueline Lovell, J.W. Perra
Color/82 Minutes/R
Region FREE
Release Date: December 20, 2016

The Film
Loretta is having an affair with Lance and they're looking for a way to knock off Loretta's husband Howard who is the toughest guy in town. When they spot the local family of weirdos disposing of a body from their truck they get an idea to enter into business with the Stackpools but then Lance finds out their secret that they're quadruplets with one specific human trait each including super strength, incredible beauty, highly sensitive senses and massive intelligence. The smart one is the leader of the group, a massive cranium with a tiny body rolling around in a wheel chair... this is only the beginning of the weirdness.

HEAD OF THE FAMILY is a total oddball science fiction horror film steeped in dark comedy. It is easily one of Full Moon's best productions. The script is strong and well written with genuinely funny moments along with a likable pair of protagonists in Lance and Loretta. Jacqueline Lovell is gorgeous and adds the sex appeal by frequently shedding her clothes. She's also quite good as the damsel in distress type character during a forced performance as Joan of Arc by Myron, the head of the Stackpool family.

Myron is such a well designed villain, as is the rest of the family, but Myron is easily the star of the show here. His giant bulbous cranium is an excellent makeup job and the performance from J.W. Perra is quite aristocratic and domineering with his massive brain power. His control over the rest of the family is an interesting dynamic and the way it all plays out isn't overly original but it is a wildly entertaining love letter to oddball sci-fi horror flicks of the 50s. It's an absolute shame that the long rumored sequel Bride Of The Head Of The Family never came to fruition.

The Audio & Video
Full Moon's foray into Blu-ray continues to be mostly a success as HEAD OF THE FAMILY looks and sounds quite good. The anamorphic widescreen transfer has a nice sharpness and natural color scheme. There's a thin but healthy grain structure and very little dirt or debris. Black levels are deep and there's no signs of edge enhancement or DNR. English audio options include 5.1 and 2.0 HD options that are mixed skillfully and sound crisp and clear. There's no distortions or background noise. The film doesn't have a lot going on to really give either mix a work out but it is very pleasing to the ear and that's all I need for this movie.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with actor J.W. Perra
-Bride Of The Head Of The Family Promo
-Original Trailer

The Bottom Line
HEAD OF THE FAMILY is an absolute B-movie blast and one of Full Moon's crowning achievements. Highly recommended!