Wednesday, December 4, 2019

THE HOUSE - Artsploitation Films DVD Review


Norway/2016
Directed By: Reinert Kiil
Written By: Reinert Kiil
Starring: Sondre Krogtoft Larsen, Marte Saetern, Jorgen Langhelle
Color/88 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: March 5, 2019

The Film
Set during the second World War, a pair of German soldiers are escorting a POW through a Scandinavian Forest when they find a seemingly abandoned house to rest in, seeking refuge from the harsh winter weather. Shortly after entering the house they quickly begin to see things, hear things and feel like they're being attacked

THE HOUSE looks like a million bucks. Reinert Kiil's direction paired with the cinematography of John-Erling H. Fredriksen gives the movie a visual quality that raises it above the standard independent horror look where you can usually tell that equipment and/or budget wasn't there. The frozen landscape and eerie, shadowy interiors of the house have a moody atmosphere that does provide a bit of foreshadowing to more sinister events that may lie ahead.

Those events do come. Sort of. The horror is held back, with quick bursts giving the audience a glimpse of what could be until the big sequence which is just rather unimpressive and feels like a retread of things we've seen countless times before. And all of this meandering around the house between the occasional shot of shock or scare simply wastes a couple excellent central performances. Even big budget Hollywood horror films struggle to find performances at this level but they're just not given anything to do for the majority of the film. That is the long and short of THE HOUSE, it has a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera but the script is lacking anything even resembling interesting.


The Audio & Video
This DVD release from Artsploitation Films look very good for a standard definition offering. The anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer features whites that are bright without ever appearing too hot while black levels are deep. The picture is clear but maintains that overcast wintry look that makes up so much of the movie. The 5.1 Dolby Surround audio mix is presented in a mix with optional English subtitles. Optional English subtitles are presented for the film as it features a mix of German, Norwegian and English. The audio is well mixed and sounds pleasing to the ear while the subtitles are translated and timed well.

The Extras
Special features include a short behind-the-scenes featurette, short film from director Reiner Kiil, an audio commentary track and an interview with writer/director Reinert Kiil.

The Bottom Line
I think THE HOUSE is skillfully shot and features great performances but is simply and sadly boring as sin.

THE HOUSE is available HERE

Friday, November 22, 2019

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED



UK, USA/2019
Directed By: Johannes Roberts
Written By: Ernest Riera, Johannes Roberts
Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju
Color/90 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film 
2017 saw the release of Johannes Roberts' tension filled shark thriller 47 Meters Down which was featured a simple idea of two sisters being stuck on the Ocean floor, locked in a shark cage as their oxygen depletes. The film was flawed but it had a decent premise and some good production quality. I don't remember anyone clamoring for a sequel but that didn't stop one from being made and this time there's no cage. 

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED introduces an entirely new story and set of characters featuring four teen girls who sneak into an underwater archaeology site of a newly discovered sunken Mayan city. This diving adventure starts well enough until an accident knocks over some massive statues and some blind deepwater sharks enter the fray making the desperate search for another way out before their oxygen levels deplete all the more dangerous. 

The Mayan city setting was absolutely stunning and I wish we somehow could have had more of it before all the dust gets kicked up and this becomes another shark attack film. The deepwater sharks and fish have an eerie translucent glow about them but their CGI rendering is spotty at times and there's some genuinely stupid moments like when a fish literally screams at one of the girls for a jump scare. This moment where any sort of serious filmmaking jumps the shark (punny punny) and took me out of it to the point where I struggled to settle back in for a while. I did appreciate that there's a good amount of shark violence and not just stalking around and near misses, specifically in the ending scene that cruelly throws the survivors into the jaws of these killer sharks almost relentlessly. 

I found 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED to lack the tension and acting quality of the original but did give us some eye catching set pieces and shark action but it relies on repetitious situations, and largely poor looking sharks. It's inoffensive but nothing more. 

The Audio & Video
Lionsgate delivers 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED on Blu-ray with a beautiful looking 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that features stunning clarity with vivid colors and high levels of detail. Black levels are deep and inky and the picture quality is as gorgeous as the locations featured within. The English audio is presented in a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The audio is crisp and clear with no crackling, popping or other imperfections. The mix is nicely done and mixed well across all channels with proper balance in dialogue and soundtrack. 

The Extras
-"Diving Deeper: Uncaging 47 Meters Down" - a making-of featurette
-Audio commentary with writer/director Johannes Roberts, producer James Harris and writer Ernest Riera

The Bottom Line
This isn't reinventing the shark movie wheel by any means. Its familiar territory that could possibly make for an okay use of time on a rainy Sunday afternoon but otherwise you can do better. 

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED is available HERE

Saturday, November 16, 2019

BERSERKER - Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review


USA/1987
Directed By: Jef Richard
Written By: Jef Richard, Joseph Kaufman
Starring: Joseph Alan Johnson, Greg Dawson, Valerie Sheldon
Color/85 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date:
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
A group of teens set out on a trip to the rural forests of Utah. They're warned of a recent slew of bear attacks by Pappy, a Norwegian immigrant who oversees the campgrounds. The local Nordic population has spread stories of brutal viking warriors called Berserkers which the teens share stories of while getting drunk and partying but quickly realize that bears may not be the only thing stalking the woods.


BERSERKER is a low budget regional slasher that makes the most out of limited sets and interiors by giving us a spooky and moody camping trip filled with some mostly likable characters except for Josh (Greg Dawson) who is almost too easy to hate. The simple use of foggy tree lined exteriors and shots of a pacing grizzly, even if he is obviously contained in some fashion, are enough to make create an eery feeling which is punctuated by mutilated bodies and an aggressive body count.


Production values are simple and this will never be considered a classic of the genre but it is a cult classic and I can related its cult classic standing down to a single scene at the end of the film where SPOILER we get a real life bear wrestling scene SPOILER and it's absolutely fucking bonkers. I don't find BERSERKER to be a one hit wonder with that scene, I genuinely enjoyed the entire movie and thought it was a solid slasher film.

The Audio &Video
Vinegar Syndrome has given BERSERKER a brand new 2K scan and restoration taken directly from the original 16mm camera negative with great results. Even though it was shot in 16mm this new Blu-ray has excellent detail and sharpness. Black levels are deep with no signs of blocking. There's a natural and plentiful grain structure and colors look healthy. The English audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix with optional English SDH subtitles. The audio is crystal clear and crisp with no signs of distortion. The mix isn't very dynamic but the high quality production on this blu-ray is more than adequate.


The Extras
This Blu-ray includes a trio of video interviews with cast and crew from the film including writer/director Jef Richard and stars Joseph Alan Johnson and Shannon Engemann along with an audio interview with actor Mike Riley. A still gallery rounds out the special feature.


The Bottom Line
I'm very pleased with this release top to bottom. It will make an excellent addition to any slasher fan's collection.

BERSERKER is available HERE

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CULT EPICS TO RELEASE EXTREMELY LIMITED DUTCH SEX WAVE COLLECTION

Available now to pre-order, all purchases of SCORPIO FILMS: THE DUTCH SEX WAVE COLLECTION (via CultEpics.com or this email) will include an exclusive set of four postcards (featuring the original Dutch poster art), with one postcard SIGNED BY DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
PIM DE LA PARRA*)






Ltd. Edition of 100 Signed Postcards Only
(25 of each Postcard) 

FULL INFORMATION AND PRE-ORDER NOW HERE

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

NEKROMANTIK BLU-RAY BUNDLE - OUT OF PRINT SOON!

CULT EPICS WILL BE RELEASING THEIR BEAUTIFUL EDITIONS OF NEKROMANTIK AND NEKROMANTIK 2 THIS SEPTEMBER IN A LIMITED EDITION SLIPCASE BUNDLE. THESE RELEASES WILL BE OUT OF PRINT AT YEAR'S END SO ACT NOW TO SECURE YOUR COPY!