Tuesday, June 19, 2018

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)


USA/1972
Directed By: William F. Claxton
Written By: Don Holliday, Gene R. Kearney, Russell Braddon
Starring: Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun
Color/88 Minutes/PG
Region A
Release Date: June 19, 2018

The Film
A small farming town is having trouble with their crops being devastated by the rabbit population. A pair of scientists are brought in to handle the problem without poisons that have dangerous side effects. The hormone they introduce into the population to slow the breeding cycle of the rabbits instead turns them into giant bloodthirsty beasts and the crops being eaten is the least of the town's problems!

Killer animals and nature run amok was a big theme for horror in the 70s and 80s and I love the subgenre from killer fish to giant bears and mutated this and that I do love seeing Mother Earth and her creations taking out asshole humans even if there's some collateral damage of losing some genuinely nice folks too. It's just plain entertaining watching giant or deadly versions of things we're familiar with getting down and dirty and perhaps the most unsuspecting killer beast in film history is the bunny rabbit. Yes, killer rabbits. Those cute and cuddlys that hump like crazy are usually not the cause of your nightmares unless you're named Elmer Fudd but in NIGHT OF THE LEPUS you're going to have to fight Bugs, Peter, Roger and hell, even the Velveteen Rabbit because they're out for blood.

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is pretty much what you'd expect. It's a premise that has worked time and time again but would it work with rabbits? Sure it does. The action gets started quickly and never lets up. There's scene after scene of rabbits running around miniature farms that make them look 15 feet tall. Splash a little food coloring around their mouths and get some extreme closeups of those front teeth and you have a pretty menacing villain even if there's not much at all in the way of graphic violence. NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is campy but it is meant to scare even if it doesn't send chills down your spine it does have a message warning of the dangers of using poisons and hormones to manipulate the environment and local ecosystems and the havoc it can cause.

The film features a good cast with Rory Calhoun starring as the rancher in need of help from the scientists played by Stuart Whitman and Janet Leigh. There's a strong horror heritage in the cast with Janet Leigh starring in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Rory Calhoun going on to star as Farmer Vincent in Motel Hell several years later. NIGHT OF THE LEPUS wouldn't be Stuart Whitman's last time battling animals as he went on to portray the sheriff in Tobe Hooper's giant alligator movie Eaten Alive. The cast is good with their long Hollywood careers on display as they capably handle the campy material to make it believable. The children actors are a bit rougher around the edges as you would expect but aside from corny writing for them they're fine. Director William Claxton spent most of his time directing television episodes including many westerns which certainly bleeds over into NIGHT OF THE LEPUS from its dusty ranch town setting to many cowboy-esq characters and shootouts. He even uses the patrons of a drive-in theater to herd the rabbits towards the train tracks for the finale so there's plenty of cowboy culture on display in this and his direction is competent. He features the rabbits in a way that would make Roger Corman happy giving the audience a constant dose of action and thrills and does his best to keep them looking like a threat even if the thought that cuddling a 15 foot rabbit would just be 15 times more fun than cuddling a normal rabbit would be lingers in the back of your mind. That's a challenge for NIGHT OF THE LEPUS and everyone involved and they do a good enough job of making it all work.

Grizzlies, sharks, snakes and dogs all make for more terrifying and frankly believable natural monsters than a rabbit ever will but NIGHT OF THE LEPUS finds a way to make it work and is an entertaining slice of nature run amok cheese even if it isn't the most thrilling of the bunch.

The Audio & Video
Scream Factory gives NIGHT OF THE LEPUS its Blu-ray debut with a nice release featuring a new 2K scan from the interpositive. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer maintaining the film's original aspect ratio. Overall picture quality is strong with good detail, particularly in close-ups. Rabbit furs, skin textures and surfaces all show finer detail in the tight shots. Colors are natural and balanced while reds pop just enough. There's a healthy grain presence and no signs of waxiness. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix and it sounds quite nice. The mix is simple but crisp and clear with no distortions or issues and balance is perfect.

The Extras
A pair of brand new audio commentary tracks with author Lee Gambin and pop culture historian Russell Dyball make up the meat and potatoes of the special features and they'e rounded out by a theatrical trailer, TV spot and still gallery.

The Bottom Line
Nature's revenge seems like a lost theme in horror movies even as we are dealing with many of the same environmental issues as we did decades ago and even though rabbits devastating ecosystems and farmlands isn't a big problem it's still a great and unexpected set up for a horror movie and it doesn't disappoint. NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is schlocky and fun with no downtime!

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is available HERE

Saturday, June 9, 2018

TOMB RAIDER (Warner Brothers Blu-ray Review)


UK, USA/2018
Directed By: Roar Uthaug
Written By: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons, Evan Daugherty
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walter Goggins
Color/118 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD

The Film
Lara Croft is the daughter of an archaeologist adventurer who went missing seven years ago and has been presumed dead. Refusing to accept his death Lara has not accepted her inheritance including his estate or companies despite barely making ends meet as a bike courier. Lara discovers a final puzzle left for her by her father and decides to leave her world behind and follow in her father's footsteps to a dangerous mythical island near Japan to find out what happened to her father.

TOMB RAIDER is based off of a successful video game franchise that debuted in 1996 and was adapted for the silver screen in 2001 with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and a sequel two years later both of which performed well at the box office but haven't aged particularly well in part because of dated special effects and a less than stellar performance from their star Angelina Jolie along with flat stories. This new entry into the series reboots it with a new lead (Alicia Vikander) and frankly it caught me off guard. I wasn't aware that it was being released until the advertising campaign started but I immediately thought it looked like a fun summer blockbuster in spite of its early March theatrical release. I 'm pleased to say that Roar Uthaug's TOMB RAIDER is pretty much just that- a fun summer movie.


It starts with Alicia Vikander who has become a household name in the last few years for roles in films such as Ex Machina and The Danish Girl which she won an Oscar for. While she won't be winning an Oscar for her performance in TOMB RAIDER she proves her versatility and that she can more than handle a physically demanding role such as this. Vikander is fit and beautiful but she doesn't rely on that to get her through the movie. While she could be bumbling around the jungle and arcane crypts and still look good doing it she handles the perils and pitfalls that any good adventure movie is plagued with. I make mention of this because fanboys of the Tomb Raider series have long sexualized the Lara Croft character and I wanted to make sure to point out that Alicia Vikander is not just a pretty face. Walter Goggins plays a rather vanilla villain in charge of an army of nameless workers and henchman trying to find the same tomb as Lara and her father before her. Goggins' character may not be the most original or exciting but he is good in the role and manages to be properly unlikeable. It is Dominic West in the role of Lara's father that may be the misstep in casting as I found him to be silly and inappropriately comedic at times that reminded me of Brendan Fraser's character in The Mummy franchise (which worked in those films but feels wildly out of place here).


Roar Uthaug's direction is competent without being overly flashy or relying on tired and annoying shortcuts like overly shaky camera work. He brings the screenplay to life with enough flair that I'm surprised the film didn't perform better in American box offices but this adventure of archeology and family takes more than a few pages from the Indiana Jones book and gives us the Cliff's Notes version of them. It's during the trials to enter the tomb and find the fabled queen who's crypt they are trying to reach where there's a bit of borrowing from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. I'm okay with that but it does lack the emotional punch that Last Crusade has and I feel that we never quite get the payoff we (or the film itself) deserves. I was really hoping for something epic and possibly not of this world to happen inside that crypt but the climax never hits that fever pitch where the film hits a real rolling boil of excitement. I feel that would have brought TOMB RAIDER from a good movie to something great.

The Audio & Video
Warner Brothers brings TOMB RAIDER to home video with an expectedly gorgeous Blu-ray release. The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks stunning with a lush and vivid color palette that really takes off once we arrive on the Island. Otherwise detail level is quite strong, skin tones are naturally healthy with no signs of excessive DNR and there's no issues with compression or blocking even in the darkest scenes. The audio on the disc is presented with a few different options including Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks that are booming. The mix across the channels is steady and the levels are appropriately mixed. There are scenes that will definitely give your system a bit of a workout and could leave pictures rattling on the walls. Audio quality is crisp and very clear with no hiss or distortions even at its craziest. French, Spanish and Portuguese audio options and subtitles are also available.


The Extras
Four featurettes make up the special features section of the disc and they include:

-"Lara Croft: Evolution Of An Icon" - This featurette takes a look at the Lara Croft character from her original video game origins to the most recent film adaptation
-"Croft Training" - A look at the workouts and training Alicia Vikander did to prepare for her role as Lara Croft
-"Tomb Raider Uncovered"- A cast and crew look at bringing the video game to life on the big screen
-"Breaking Down The Rapids"- A look at the one of the film's most exciting and memorable action scenes.


The Bottom Line
TOMB RAIDER is what I hoped it would be- An updated take on a dated adventure film with a far more capable lead. This is a perfectly enjoyable summertime popcorn flick in the tradition of Indiana Jones.

TOMB RAIDER is available HERE

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING (MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review)


USA/1989
Directed By: Jim Wynorski
Written By: Neil Cuthbert, Grant Morris
Starring: Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Dick Durock
Color/88 Minutes/PG-13
Region Free
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
In 1982 director Wes Craven brought us the first screen adaptation of the comic book from writer Len Wein and legendary artist Bernie Wrightson. Their tale of a scientist who mutated with the swamp vegetation after a mishap and now protects people and the environment from various threats has become a classic for DC Comics and has regularly been voted as one of the best comic book characters of all time. Craven's film was a mostly serious sci-fi film with horror and action elements. Some of it was campy but it served as a solid screen debut for the character. Seven years later the reigns were turned over to Jim Wynorski, a genre film director not known for his subtlety and we were blessed with a special gift simply called THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING.


Before the X-Men franchise ushered in the modern wave of comic book films with huge budgets, big name actors and more CGI effects than you can shake a stick at and before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was seemingly breaking records with each new movie this is what comic book movies looked like and were relegated to be. These were low budget affairs with stars that were either passed their prime or hadn't hit it yet. THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING was reportedly made on a budget of four million dollars, a far cry from the hundreds of millions pumped into the newest Avengers film but the explosion was still over a decade away and comic book culture and mainstream pop culture were rarely spoken in the same breath. There was no such thing as the big budget blockbuster comic book film in 1989 but frankly I think what Jim Wynorski gave us was even better.

Heather Locklear stars as Abby Arcane who is going to meet her stepfather, the evil scientist Dr. Anton Arcance, after the death of her mother. She finds that Dr. Arcane is trying to find the source of immortality by splicing human genes with those of swamp creatures and has created a mini army of monstrous beasts who suffer endlessly from being human guinea pigs to Dr. Arcane's experiments. Abby is in trouble when Dr. Arcane plans to use her for one his newest experiments but Abby is protected by her new friend Swamp Thing who has a history with Anton Arcane and will fight to protect Abby with his life.


I have a lot of nostalgia for Swamp Thing. The big green plant man might be the first comic book character I was a fan of. I can remember playing with the action figures as a young kid growing up in the very early 90s and vividly remember moving across several states in 1991 and getting to ride in the U-Haul truck with my grandad and having a couple of toys to play with, one being a Swamp Thing that had a fist that shot out from his arm and was attached by a string. The string wound up with a knot in it so it wouldn't retract properly but that was okay by me as it just meant Swamp Thing had something to choke out the other toys with. Yeah, I was probably messed up as a kid but I've always loved the character of Swamp Thing and this is the way I remember him. We get classic Jim Wynorski here with a campy, over the top action movie chock full of all of the standard tropes; endless hordes of henchment, explosions (including a domino effect car explosion), kiddie sidekicks who are actually endearing and funny and don't make you want to smash your face into a wall, a diabolical villain and the most ludicrous love story this side of Tom Hanks and the volleyball.

The film doesn't rely on that nostalgia however and doesn't need it to be a wildly entertaining film. And to my surprise the movie is actually pretty well made. Aside from the obvious ham and cheese factor of being a loud comic book action movie that embodies everything a loud action movie from 1989 has to offer it has some really great sets, decent performances (and some not so decent performances) and really fantastic special effects makeup. Each and every creature, from our titular hero himself to the cockroach man and the weird squid face enemy that fights Swamp Thing a few times, all have been created with great skill. THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING is action packed, filled with laughs and holds up almost thirty years later and I can definitely say that I'd gladly take more movies like THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING over the current comic book movies nine times out of ten.


The Audio & Video
With spine #5 in the MVD Rewind Collection MVD Visual has given THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING its high definition debut and the transfer blew me away. Colors are vivid and rich and skin tones are fleshy and natural with no signs of DNR. There is a natural film look to the transfer and the detail level is exceptional. The creatures in the film absolutely shine in this transfer especially the main man himself. His dripping, gooey, body made of bits of everything you'd find in a bog looks incredible. I don't think I can oversell how impressed I am with this transfer. The audio features two options, a DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix and a LPCM 2.0 mix. They both have the highest quality with the surround mix giving more punch and pop to the action scenes and use of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born On The Bayou" but the lossless 2.0 mix is a fine straight forward mix as well with no issues at all.

Plesae Note: Screenshots have been taken from the DVD version of the film.


The Extras
Do you want interviews? 'Cuz we got interviews! The special features include individual interview with director Jim Wynorski, editor Leslie Rosenthal, composer Chuck Cirino, and executive Arnie Holland.

Also included:
-Brand new audio commentary track with Jim Wynorski, Chuck Cirino and Leslie Rosenthal
-Audio commentary track with Jim Wynorski from 2003
-Original theatrical trailer
-TV spots
-Promo Reel
-Public Service Announcements
-Photo Gallery
-Mini Poster


The Bottom Line
I hadn't seen this movie in over twenty years but this is the Swamp Thing I remember loving as a kid growing up in the early 90s. THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING is tasty slice of 80s cheese and now finds itself as one of my favorite comic book movies. Now excuse me while I go hunt down that action figure on eBay.

THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING is available HERE

Friday, June 1, 2018

ANOTHER WOLFCOP - Trailer Premiere



Directed by Lowell Dean

Written by Lowell Dean

Starring Leo Fafard, Yannick Bisson, Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, Serena Miller, Kevin Smith

 A year has passed since the dark eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) into the infamous lycanthrope crime-fighter. Although the evil that controlled Woodhaven was defeated, the community is far from returning to normal. A villainous entrepreneur (Yannick Bisson) is looking to open a new brewery and revive the local hockey team, but it’s clear he has ulterior motives. With a new mayor (Kevin Smith) and the new chief of police (Amy Matysio), WolfCop has his work cut out for him when he has to save the town all over again.



Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD on July 3rd

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

MOON CHILD (Cult Epics Blu-ray Review)


Spain/1989
Directed By: Agusti Villaronga
Written By: Agusti Villaronga
Starring: Enrique Saldana, Maribel Martin, Lisa Gerrard
Color/120 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
In 1986 Spanish director Agusti Villaronga stormed onto the scene with his film In A Glass Cage, a masterpiece of a horror thriller that is sure to ruin your day and put you in a terrible mood. I mean this in the best possible way. It is difficult to follow up a masterful debut as expectations will inevitably be high and Villaronga challenged himself with a much less straight forward story in MOON CHILD which is based on the Aleister Crowley book of the same name and a much bigger production as well.

MOON CHILD stars Enrique Saldana as David, a 12 year old boy who has been adopted by a scientific cult who has stockpiled children with psychic abilities in their compound. David has psychic abilities and has been told by an elder at the orphanage that he is the Moon Child, a prophesized God to an African tribe. The cult intends to use the children they have adopted to find the perfect genetic pairing to bear a child who they have impregnated with the power of the moon to create their own Moon Child. David escapes with the two selected to be the parents including Georgina (Lisa Gerrard) who David believes to be his mother and enter a transcontinental journey to escape the cult enduring love, loss, death and spiritual awakenings along the way.


Agusti Villaronga spectacularly weaves us through a kaleidoscope of mind bending images, locations full of and devoid of emotion and life, moody music from Dead Can Dance and ideas that will give your mind a workout. Villaronga is obviously more concerned with creating a journey for the viewer's subconcious than he is creating a neatly packaged narrative that gives us a beginning, middle and end despite there being a clear beginning, middle and end. The story is clear cut but it's more about the ideas, both the basic terrestrial ideas and the proposition of metaphysical ones that drive MOON CHILD to be something special. While most films would have us immediately concerned about David's escape from the cult the viewer is instead pondering the idea of his destiny as the El Nino De La Luna and what it means to be a god, worship a god and what powers the stars may hold over us.


MOON CHILD works because it the cast is quite good to go along with the deeper artistic ideas and expressions from Villaronga. Villaronga also gets the absolute most out of his locations from the seemingly endless pale white walls of the cult compound to the beautiful sands and rock caves of the African lands. MOON CHILD certainly feels like a bigger production than it may have been. Therein lies its slight downfall as well. I think the scope and breadth of the film and the concepts contained within made the simple emotional connection that I felt with the characters in In A Glass Cage fall by the way side. In A Glass Cage is a masterpiece because of how it can move the viewer emotionally as I stated before, completely ruin your day. MOON CHILD would never have that same reaction but it could have a similar impact on the viewer substituting sorrow and disgust for something more contemplative but I never quite got that emotional connection with David or any of the other characters at least not to the point that would elevate MOON CHILD from something quite good to something truly exceptional. Maybe I cursed myself by comparing MOON CHILD to In A Glass Cage, something I eluded to happening previously but I couldn't help myself as this was the first Agusti Villaronga film I have seen besides his debut film. It will be interesting to see how MOON CHILD fares after I've seen more of the director's work but for now it may not be another masterpiece but it is a very worthwhile piece of surrealist cinema.


The Audio & Video
Cult Epics has brought MOON CHILD to Blu-ray with a new HD transfer from the original 35mm negatives and the picture quality matches the impressive photography of the film. There's a healthy grain structure that maintains a natural film look. Colors are vivid and vibrant when needed such as the stark whites of the cult's headquarters and black levels are properly deep with no signs of compression issues or blocking. Detail levels are strong as well. The Spanish audio is presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital mix with optional English subtitles. The audio is crisp and gives way to a perfect mix between the moody and perhaps overlooked soundtrack and the dialogue. There's no signs of background noise, popping, crackling or other distortions. Cult Epics has done right by MOON CHILD.

Please note: The images in this review have been taken from the DVD version of the film and do not represent the picture quality of the Blu-ray.


The Extras
The extras include an interview with writer/director Agusti Villaronga that is brand new for 2018 and covers everything from Villaronga's career to more specific topics about MOON CHILD and even what he and Guillermo Del Toro think of each other. It even includes a still picture of Villaronga signing the Blu-ray artwork which will serve as proper evidence for those that purchase the limited edition autographed version.

Also included is a still gallery featuring a number of lobby cards and the isolated soundtrack by Dead Can Dance.


The Bottom Line
MOON CHILD is a feast for the sense and a treat for the mind. For anyone looking for something that channels the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky or Fernando Arrabal look no further than this excellent release from Cult Epics.

MOON CHILD is available HERE

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Comet TV Monster Summer Giveaway

COMET TV Monster Summer Giveaway! Godzilla, Rodan and Giant Gila Monsters! Oh My!

Do you hear that… It sounds like… A… ROAR!
That’s because it’s MONSTER SUMMER! The biggest, baddest and most fire-breathing summer ever!
Starting on Memorial Day weekend and… All Summer Long… COMET TV is bringing the heat with Godzilla, Reptilicus, Mechagodzilla and even a few Astro-Monsters for good measure!
Every Sunday, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day weekend, Monster Summer has it going on!
But we’re not going to leave you without a little something to beat the heat…
We want to give you the opportunity to have an awesome summer of your own! The COMET TV Monster Summer Prize Pack is perfect for catching some rays or stopping a fire breathing beast!
We’re giving you a chance to do a giveaway for a lucky reader to win one! Say wha? I know! You can run the contest anyway you like, a lot of people use rafflecopter, etc…

The Comet TV Monster Summer Prize Pack has:
1 - Limited Edition Monster Summer Beach Towel: Only available via this promotion, catch Godzilla having a blast with one of two designs. You’ll be the envy of your friends and have some extra protection if a monster comes from the depths to destroy the planet. Score!
1 - COMET TV Monster Summer SPF Pouch: Beat the rays with this Monster Summer SPF pouch. Apply liberally to ward off the sun, The Beast from the Haunted Cave, Rodan or any other variety of lizard-like beast.
1- COMET TV Cooler: Listen, even Godzilla needs a place to keep his brews chill. Let’s be honest, he needs to beat the heat at some point. I can see him carrying this cool-as-fire bag around to crack open a cold one.
1 - COMET TV Monster Summer Beach-Tastic Ball: Are you a ball-er? I hope so, cause you need to grab some buds, jump in the pool and play with this Godzilla Monster Summer Beach Ball. Groovy!
2 - Exclusive COMET TV Film Cards: See what COMET TV has this month, with these collector’s cards. Perfect for the Godzilla fan, the Monster-man, or the COMET TV junkie if your life!
TO ENTER:
1. Send an email to CelluloidTerror@yahoo.com and title it "Monster Summer Giveaway"
2. Tell me your favorite giant monster movie and include your full address
3. US Entrants Only


About COMET Monster Summer 2018

Typical summer activities generally include outdoor BBQs, trips to the beach, and taking dips in swimming pools, but Godzilla fans may choose to stay indoors this summer thanks to COMET’s “Monster Summer” event!

Beginning May 27, COMET will be airing a double-header of classic monster movies every Sunday throughout the summer, with the first film each night featuring your favorite giant lizard and the second starring some lesser-known beasts. The Godzilla films featured run the gamut from his 1954 debut Gojira, to the silly Son of Godzilla, to the kaiju overload of Destroy All Monsters. As for the other monsters featured, you can look forward to campy classics like the King Kong/Frankenstein hybrid Konga, the Korean Godzilla equivalent Yongary, Monster from the Deep, and the legendary — thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000 — Reptilicus.



MONSTER SUMMER
Sundays 8/7C
5/27
Gojira 
Reptilicus
6/3
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Phantom from 10,000 Leagues
6/10
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
Creature of Destruction
6/17
Terror of Mechagodzilla
The Beast from Haunted Cave
6/24
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
Yongary, Monster From The Deep
7/1
Destroy All Monsters
Destroy All Planets
7/8
Son of Godzilla
Konga
7/15
Godzilla vs. Megalon
War of the Gargantuas
7/22
Gojira
Attack of the Monsters
7/29
Destroy all Monsters
Monster from a Prehistoric Planet
8/5
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Monster from the Surf
8/12
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
It's Alive!
8/19
Terror of Mechagodzilla
Voyage into Space
8/26
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
The Giant Gila Monster
9/2
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II
The Giant Claw

Friday, May 25, 2018

THE ORCHARD END MURDER (Redemption Films Blu-ray Review)



UK/1981
Directed By: Christian Marnham
Written By: Christian Marnham
Starring: Tracy Hyde, David Wilkinson, Mark Hardy
Color/49 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: March 6, 2018


The Film
A young woman (Tracy Hyde) visits a rural village to watch her boyfriend play cricket and make love with him in the woods between his turns at bat. When his number is called to take the field she goes off exploring the village and finds a little cottage with a gnome garden and is invited in for tea by the hunchbacked man that lives there and runs the train station for the town. While having tea she's scared by the man's brutish friend who brings a rabbit into the house and kills it by slamming it on the table before bringing it outside to skin. Soon after she agrees to take a tour of the orchard with the brutish man which leads to the man attempting to rape and eventually murdering the girl and burying her in a pile of apples. When the police begin their hunt for the missing girl the two men devise a plan to bring the body home and bury it in a place the authorities have already searched.

THE ORCHARD END MURDER has all the ingredients for a memorable and well executed exploitation film- Capable filmmaking, acting that is better than average, eye-catching sets and locations, nasty situations (in this case attempted rape and murder), and a couple of interesting characters. It's all there so why don't I love it? Well at only 49 minutes it doesn't give the movie any time to breathe which we need here. We're immediately thrown from girl being murdered to body being moved and buried. The film feels as if there's chunks missing linking scenes together fluidly so we're left with a choppy, jumpy movie. An additional half hour or forty five minutes would not only allow the film to breathe a bit and give time to those scenes that keep the film flowing smoothly but it would have allowed plenty of time to make this movie something more. What that more is could go a number of ways. It could have allowed for more killings and violence, it could have spent time building more suspense and tension around our killer and his accomplice as the suspicion grows or it could have given us the big payoff of her boyfriend getting some revenge on his lover's killer. Perhaps with a cricket bat to link the beginning and ending scenarios. That would have been great. Instead we're left with a film that's mostly all there but still feels incomplete.

It's not that what we get is bad because it isn't. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw but the film left me unsatisfied. I didn't want more I needed it. The film needs more from substance to simple scenes linking events to keep it from being jarring. I'm puzzled by THE ORCHARD END MURDER because there's plenty I want to praise but there's just as much that I simply wish existed.

The Audio & Video
Redemption Films and Kino deliver a Blu-ray that some might say is more than a short feature intended as the B side of double feature bills deserves but I think it's just Redemption keeping up their typically high standards. The anamorphic widescreen transfer boasts strong detail and a healthy color palette. Skin tones are natural as well. There is some speckling and light imperfections as no extensive restoration work to the source material has been done but that doesn't stop the transfer from looking quite nice. The audio is presented in an uncompressed 2.0 stereo track and sounds crystal clear. The sound is crisp and pleasing with a proper mix across both channels and between the dialogue and score.

The Extras
-Interview with director Christian Marnham
-Interview with star Tracy Hyde
-Interview with star David Wilkinson
-"The Showman" - 25 minute documentary short film by Christian Marnham
-Christian Marnham on "The Showman"

The Bottom Line
THE ORCHARD END MURDER could probably be best described as something for exploitation junkies to seek out as something new that they haven't seen before and realize how close it comes to being something much bigger and better.

THE ORCHARD END MURDER is available HERE