Thursday, March 31, 2016

CODE 7, VICTIM 5 / MOZAMBIQUE (Blu-ray Review) - Blue Underground

Directed By: Robert Lynn
Written By: Peter Yeldham, Harry Alan Towers
Starring: Lex Barker, Steve Cochran, Ann Smyrner
Color/186 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: March 29, 2016

The Films
CODE 7, VICTIM 5 stars Lex Barker as Wexler, a private detective hired by a South African millionaire for protection and to solve the murder of his butler. Upon arriving Wexler meets all the people associated with the millionaire, including his family, business partners and men from his past that may hold the key to the killings as they all appear in an old war photo together. Car chases, fights and shoot outs become the norm as Wexler tries to unravel the mystery.

CODE 7, VICTIM 5 is an entertaining crime thriller that is straight forward in its delivery of a decent mystery that puts everyone involved in immediate danger. The direction is solid and the photography by Nicolas Roeg is beautiful. Lex Barker is a Bond knock off without all the gadgets and is more than capable of it. He's the man to handle all of the bikini clad eye candy running around while solving the crime. The film is more violent than I had expected with more bloodshed than I could have guessed.
All of the elements come together making CODE 7, VICTIM 5 an exotic crime flick that is a fine film.

In MOZAMBIQUE a broke and out of work American pilot is offered a job as a cargo pilot making runs between Mozambique and Lisbon. He quickly finds himself in a web of kidnapping, murder and smuggling. The pilot's focus changes from making a buck to finding out the identity of the person that has put his life in danger.

The exotic setting of Mozambique should be interesting and beautiful, adding to what could have been a thrilling potboiler from director Robert Lynn. Instead the film is dreadfully dull. As fun and thrilling as CODE 7, VICTIM 5 was, MOZAMBIQUE feels that soulless. The score is slow and drawn out, especially in the big climactic ending which could have made the entire film worthwhile to sit through but instead it is a letdown with an incredibly bland score that doesn't fit. The best thing I can say about MOZAMBIQUE is that it's competently made.

This double feature of Robert Lynn films from 1964 show the best and worst of what the director could do and in very similar vehicles. On the surface they're almost identical plots in exotic locales but the paint by numbers MOZAMBIQUE doesn't take advantage of just about anything it had going for it while CODE 7, VICTIM 5 revels in being an exciting detective romp that is surprisingly violent.

The Audio & Video
This Blu-ray from Blue Underground marks the U.S. home video debut for both of these films and it wastes no time showing how good it can look in the opening scenes of CODE 7. The vibrant colors of costumes and decorations in a festival scene are gorgeous and vibrant. This carries on throughout both films and at its best the PQ lives up to those moments with very strong detail down to facial hair stubble and the texture of clothing with a natural film look and grain structure. At its worst the disc has some noticeable digital scrubbing that takes the PQ down a step but never to the point of looking offensive or bad. The image on this disc is good, even at its worst and fantastic at its best. The English audio track is a DTS-HD Mono mix that is crisp and clear. There's no distortions or background noise. Blue Underground took the original mix for these films and made them sound excellent in HD without needing to create gimmicky new surround mixes.

The Extras
Theatrical trailers for each film are included

The Bottom Line
I wish both of these movies were as good as CODE 7 - I still recommend this pulp crime double feature.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

EXCESS FLESH (DVD Review) - Midnight Releasing

Directed By: Patrick Kennelly
Written By: Sigrid Gilmer, Patrick Kennelly
Starring: Bethany Orr, Mary Loveless, Wes McGee
Color/103 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: March 8, 2016

The Film
Jill is jealous of her beautiful roommate Jennifer who works in the Los Angeles fashion scene and is a social butterfly, rarely staying home each night. Jill is recently single and struggles with body issues and eating disorders and rarely leaves the house. Jennifer's constant verbal abuse masked as friendship eventually leads to Jill spinning out of control.

EXCESS FLESH has a beautifully simple idea at its core dealing with some of life's darker sides. Eating disorders, body image issues, and unhealthy and damaging relationships are all looked at in the confines of this picture. Director and co-writer Patrick Kennelly hammers home the importance of food in this picture, with almost every scene having some sort of cooking or eating often with obnoxious chomping sounds and tight close-ups on the food and chewing itself. It hammers the point home immediately and never lets it lighten up.

Bethany Orr does a wonderful job playing the damaged Jill. She lets herself get lost in the role and turns into a dirty, abusive and obsessive broken mind. Mary Loveless lives up to her last name as Jennifer who severely mistreats and takes for granted her friendship with Jill. Even if her intentions are good sometimes she's an immediate catalyst to Jill's fractured psyche. Both of our female leads are great in their roles.

The movie takes a turn from strictly psychological to more physical horror when Jill chains Jennifer to the wall and begins to torture her mentally and physically abuse her. The biggest problem i have with the film and it's a glaring one, is that eventually Jennifer escapes, bruised and obviously beaten wearing nothing but bra and panties and Jill, who is also in underwear and absolutely filthy, manages to talk her way out of a confrontation with the police and Jennifer never opens her mouth to ask for help. It doesn't ruin the film for me but I think this scene would have been better left on the cutting room floor because it does nothing to forward the plot and only serves to make the viewer bang his head against the wall in frustration.

Few movies are perfect, and fewer independent movies yet. EXCESS FLESH successfully tackles several psychological issues to make a horror film that is genuinely disturbing at times and even a bit depressing. A bit more restraint and subtlety may have made this picture a bit better but as it is I'm a fan.

The Audio & Video
Midnight Releasing's release of EXCESS FLESH is a standard but well done DVD with a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has relatively good sharpness and detail level and natural color reproduction. A 5.1 surround sound track handles the English audio mix with no problems. Clarity is good and there are no problems with distortions.

The Extras
-"I Don't Race" Music Video
-Official Trailer
-Teaser Trailer

The Bottom Line
There are some things I don't like about EXCESS FLESH but they're vastly outweighed by those that I do. Recommended.

EXCESS FLESH is available HERE

Saturday, March 26, 2016

THE HOARDER (DVD Review) - Image/RLJ Entertainment

Directed By: Matt Winn
Written By: James Handel, Matt Winn, Chris Denne
Starring: Mischa Barton, Robert Knepper, Valene Kane
Color/86 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: April, 5 2016

The Film
Ella (Mischa Barton) suspects her fiance of cheating and keeping secrets from her so she and her friend sneak off to break into his storage unit on the sketchy outskirts of the city. After breaking into the unit Ella and several other people are thrown into a stalk and slash fight for survival when they find that a psychopath has started his own collection of victims that he keeps in his storage unit.

THE HOARDER comes out at a time when there have been several similarly themed films released on video and in theaters and will fit in nicely among the rest. Director Matt Winn does a fantastic job making the storage unit set look and feel much bigger and more disorienting than anything they could actually build on a manageable budget. The set design is also great, especially the old, nearly abandoned basement floor which has a damp, dusty look that you can almost smell the old musty mildew odor emanating from the old building.

The script is solid, with a handful of different characters each with their own story inside the walls of their units that will come to light during the night that they're forced to fight for their lives. It keeps things interesting with each character and nobody is simply fodder for the cannon of the psycho killer. There are some twists and turns in the story but most of them aren't unpredictable or unexpected, they could be described as a gentle curve more than a strong twist.

The film may not be unpredictable or anything altogether new, it is a solid horror film but unfortunately the cover art gives away one of the film's big jolts.

The Audio & Video
Image Entertainment releases THE HOARDER on DVD with an attractive standard definition release. The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer has pretty good detail levels and black levels with little to no issues with blocking. The picture is sharp enough, with probably only a Blu-ray looking any better. The English audio is handled with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track sounds strong with no distortion or damage and no background noise. The overall quality is crisp and clear and I have no complaints.

The Extras
-The Making Of THE HOARDER

The Bottom Line
THE HOARDER probably won't become a giant hit or a surprise classic. It is a decent straight forward piece of direct to video horror.

THE HOARDER is available HERE

Thursday, March 24, 2016

CHILDREN OF THE CORN Franchise Retrospective Part 1

This has been a long time coming, an idea that I've wanted to do on Celluloid Terror for the last couple of years and I've finally gotten around to doing it. I've long neglected the CHILDREN OF THE CORN franchise having only seen the original and the Syfy channel remake. I grew up with the original and loved it for a long time but a couple of years ago a downward trend began with it where each subsequent viewing left me feeling a little less favorable towards it than the last. I could have reviewed the first film in the series without giving it another watch but I decided to pop it in, dreading that I'd like it even less than the last time because at this point I don't think I would have even called myself a fan of the movie.

1984 brought us the first film adaptation of Stephen King's novel Children Of The Corn. The film of the same name was directed by Fritz Kiersch who is best known for directing this film. The film centers around the town of Gaitlin, Nebraska where child preacher Isaac has gathered the children of the town to commit mass murder of the adults- anyone over 19 years of age. Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) end up in the town and happen a couple of kids who are innocent from the evil and try to protect them while they're being hunted by Isaac and his numerous blade wielding kids.

As of now the film is over 30 years old and has quite a bit of visual effects that are dated. In fact the effects have been dated for a long time. I think the film has an inherent creepiness with all of the religiously brainwashed children who don't think or care about the consequences of their actions. The film features a strong supernatural element that adds to the terror our protagonists are facing until they realize they must destroy the corn field that these children apparently worship. The film is flawed and the fact that it only gets more dated as time goes by didn't help but I have finally put that behind me and accepted the film for what it is and I think I'm finally at a good place with it. The plot is interesting, our leads are more than capable of carrying the film as the rest of the cast is quite young throughout the majority and has a pair of characters that have become mini icons in the horror genre with Isaac and Malechi (along with his yell of "Outlander!"). I have a feeling that the rest of the series won't reach the quality of film making that this first film has.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN 2: THE FINAL SACRIFICE picks up in the aftermath of the Gaitlin murders where the now orphaned children are sent to various homes around the area. John Garrett travels to Gaitlin with his son Danny to cover the story for the tabloid magazine he writes for and they end up staying at a bed and breakfast that has taken in a boy named Micah who is a distant loner and becomes the new preacher for these freaky kids after he's sucked into an alternate dimension and comes back evil and ready to lead the children to murder again.

The thing that immediately jumps out at me is why aren't these kids in police custody or the state's custody in some sort of medical facility? They ran amok, started a cult and murdered their parents and they just get sent to live in foster homes? Who thought that was okay? That's just one of the absurdities of this film. Have we ever had a sequel use "final" in the title so early as COTC did? I mean part 2 and we're already calling it "final"? We're smarter than that!

The brilliance here is in how fucking cheesy this movie is. From the kill sequences that include flying stalks of corn, to houses being dropped on an old lady ala The Wicked Witch Of The West and razor sharp corn stalk leaves just to name a few to the ridiculous Native American and moldy corn conspiracy subplots that go nowhere and the budding romance of a couple high school kids who almost get it on in a pile of dismembered bodies. And I haven't even touched on the alternate evil corn dimension.. Yeah, that's a thing and it's stupid and bizarre.

Can I repeat myself by asking why in the blue hell these kids aren't locked away somewhere!?

Micah is a piss poor replacement for Isaac and they don't even try to replace Malechi. The editing is atrocious and leaves several scenes making absolutely no sense. Almost all technical aspects of this movie are poorly done but it's so cheesy that I can't help but be entertained by it.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN 2 was everything I was afraid of and everything I hoped for all at once.

Film Scores
Children Of The Corn - 6/10
Children Of The Corn 2: The Final Sacrifice - 6/10

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Jean Claude Van Damme 5 Movie Collection (Blu-ray Review) - Mill Creek

Directed By: Various
Written By: Various
Starring: Jean Claude Van Damme
Color/481 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: March 15, 2016

The Films
The film to start this package off is a perfect example of a mid 90s action flick starring an action star who had already made his best films years before. Unfortunately for the rest of this collection JCVD is our star in every film so I'm afraid that fact will remain sadly true. That said, the film has no shortage of action though it feels like it was made with weekend cable screenings in mind. The high point being the scene in the subway station where we get to see a dummy hit by a speeding subway car. The story of mistaken identities, and finding out family history feels rehashed but a couple nude scenes with co-star Natasha Henstridge keeps things interesting when the action is at a lull. An average but harmless flick.

There are some things that don't make sense to me about this movie. Things like why the opening credits look like they were made with a label maker? How the hell did Dennis Rodman make it into a major motion picture? What is Mickey Rourke up to these days? You know, life's hard hitting questions. The action comedy mash up is filled with explosions, shoot outs and fantastic fight choreography but the action is the only thing keeping my attached. The story is weak, the acting is weak (how many lines can Rodman mumble his way through?) and the promise of Van Damme fighting a tiger ends up being a letdown. Oh and let us not forget how much Coke product placement there is and that our heroes are literally saved from a massive explosion by a fucking vending machine.

The 2nd theatrical film of the series followed a pair of made for TV films and bombed at the box office and is no longer considered canon to the series. How could a JCVD vehicle from 1999 that was the fourth film in a series that had already went to TV productions for sequels twice and co-stars Bill Goldberg bomb at the box office and essentially be written out of the franchise's history you ask? It looks and feels like a video game that was already outdated by the time it was completed. I'm not at all familiar with the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER series so I don't know how this fits in but since it has been disowned I suppose it doesn't really matter. There's plenty of action but most of it feels like an amusement park thrill ride. It's always nice to see Michael Jai White and the soundtrack has some solid metal bands on it so I guess there's that.

A lumpy headed (seriously, what is that giant lump on Van Damme's forehead?) Van Damme plays a depressed former Army Special Forces soldier suffering from PTSD who gets a gig protecting a former boxing champion from a violent thug he sent to prison. Too much is asked of Van Damme here. He's not a great actor and it shows throughout this one but to be fair just about everyone else in this movie gives weak performances too. There's nothing funny at all about PTSD but the scene of Van Damme at the rap concert is unintentionally hilarious and that shows how much of a failure this movie is.

The final film of the set redeems things a bit after the low point that was THE HARD CORPS. SECOND IN COMMAND is an entertaining war film starring Van Damme who leads a small group of US Marines who are fighting in Eastern Europe to protect the president of Moldavia from being kidnapped. The setting is interesting giving us a tight urban environment filled with shoot outs and tense moments. It's competently written and directed and the acting is okay. This is probably the most violent film in the collection.

The Audio & Video
The first disc features the first three films reviewed above and they all looking pretty good. The picture quality is sharp with nice colors and good detail level throughout. Black levels are generally handled well with very few issues of blocking or compression. Audio is crisp with no damage or background noise. The second disc features the final two films on the set so you'd imagine image quality would fare a bit better or at least be as good. That isn't the case as THE HARD CORPS and SECOND IN COMMAND use obviously dated masters and don't look much better than an upconvert to HD. Detail lacks and colors don't shine like they would in a proper HD transfer. SIC is rather hazy and soft as well. Oddly enough the worst looking movies in the set are the most recent productions. The audio on this disc is fine, comparable to the first disc.

The Extras

The Bottom Line
The films are a mixed bag with some good, some bad but mostly everything is in the middle and just okay. If you're a big JCVD fan the set is a no brainer and at the bargain price point that Mill Creek is offering this collection of films at if you're even remotely interested in it you'd be a fool not to give it a chance.


Monday, March 21, 2016

THE BEFORE TIME (DVD Review) - Brain Damage Films

Directed By: Miguel Muller
Written By: Scott Bunt
Starring: Ted Jonas, Jules Hartley, Aidan Marus
Color/80 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: March 8, 2016

The Film
The headless bodies of eight Hispanic men have been found in the Arizona desert spiking TV ratings. An independent producer proposes a reality TV show idea to capitalize on the story and the ratings based around two rival groups investigating the story and the legend of an ancient treasure of gold buried in the area but they quickly find out the truth lurking in the desert is far more dangerous than they could have imagined. 

THE BEFORE TIME uses the found footage, handheld camera style to show the story of this reality show cast as they venture in to the desert and try to set up shots and scenes for their production. The group is filled with semi-famous local talent and a lot of shitty young attitudes with big dreams about making it big. Sometimes they're serious about getting their work done and others they're disrespecting locals and acting like stereotypical assholes. They fall victim to creepy natives, drug laced foods and ghostly occurrences as each day brings them deeper and deeper into the unforgiving desert.

It all feels familiar, like ground we've tread before. It's predictable and despite being decently made and having an exciting scene or two, it's not very interesting. The cast is decent but their writing is lazy. The movie leaves too much to the imagination and doesn't give us the visual goods often enough. It's an attempt at making the film more psychologically driven than it needs or even should be. 

THE BEFORE TIME isn't a bad film overall but it doesn't capitalize on its best aspects and suffers from many of the downfalls of the found footage style.

The Audio & Video
Brain Damage Films gives THE BEFORE TIME a nice home on DVD with a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has a sharp look and good colors for a standard def transfer. Black levels are deep and there's no problems with compression or blocking. The mostly English audio which features sporadic Spanish with English subtitles is handled with a 5.1 surround mix which sounds very nice. There's no damage or background noise and the overall quality is crisp and powerful when needed.

The Extras
-Behind the scenes featurette

The Bottom Line
If you're a lover of the found footage genre you'll find plenty to enjoy with THE BEFORE TIME. 


Thursday, March 17, 2016


Director: Jeffery Scott Lando
Writer: Kevin Mosley
Starring: Ellen MacNevin, Sage Brocklebank, Kylee Bush

SUSPENSION tells the story of Emily, an unpopular high school girl still coming to terms with the fact that her father went on a murder spree years before. To help her cope, she draws a graphically violent comic fictionalizing the murders. But as she loses herself in her own story, the line between what's real and what's not begins to blur.

SUSPENSION is the first film I've watched as part of 2015's "8 Films To Die For", and I have to admit that going in I didn't really hold out much hope for any of them. That being said, SUSPENSION was actually pretty decent. I got real excited by the opening title sequence which was just an overhead shot slowly following a truck as it pulled up to a barn. Yet there was a filter on the shot that made it appear to be a comic book style line drawing. While this isn't anything we haven't seen before, I thought it was an interesting stylistic choice that not only looked pretty cool but tied in with the theme of the comic our main character is drawing throughout the movie. In fact, SUSPENSION is filled with a lot of interesting stylistic choices that I really appreciated. Unfortunately, the plot of the film is just pretty by the numbers. The movie is filled with plot twists that anyone who's ever seen a horror movie can see coming from a mile away. And ultimately, Suspension becomes another horror movie that looks good, but doesn't really have a lot of substance.

Review by Shawn Wolfe

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Vinegar Syndrome gives us two re-releases this month, with this double feature of the CANDY film by Gail Palmer being the first and is an upgrade to Blu-ray over the previous Peekarama Collection DVD released back in July of 2014. This is a welcomed upgrade of an already attractive that really could (and did) stand on its own two feet.

The Blu-ray carries over all of the same content as the DVD which we reviewed upon its release. You can see that review HERE. Instead of writing all the same things over again I will save you some time by saying the picture is sharper, with more overall depth but especially in details such as clothing and surface textures. The skin tones look gorgeous with a natural fleshiness that only a well done Blu-ray transfer can convey. The upgrade from an already well done DVD is immediately and constantly noticeable.

The Blu-ray of THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY and CANDY GOES TO HOLLYWOOD  is worth the upgrade if you already have the DVD and certainly worth a first time purchase if you haven't picked up the previous DVD and is available HERE

Monday, March 14, 2016

MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK (Blu-ray Review) - Mill Creek

Directed By: Bob Balaban
Written By: Dean Lorey
Starring: Andrew Lowery, Traci Lind, Danny Zorn
Color/85 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: March 15, 2016

The Film
Johnny Dingle has had eyes only for Missy McCloud since they were small children and now Missy is the hottest girl in school With prom approaching Johnny concocts a scheme to get Missy to be his prom date but things go awry and Johnny winds up dead. The grave can't contain Johnny after Missy has already said yes though so he's back from the dead and ready to party... if he can keep himself together.

MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK is a charmingly funny high school comedy romance with an interesting idea behind it. The cast, including Andrew Lowery as Johnny and Traci Lind as Missy are great and have good chemistry. It's a cute mix between the Brat Pack pictures of the 80's and the more family friendly horror trend of the later 80s. Unfortunately the movie relies on two or three recurring gags that lose a bit of their punch with each recurring use. Body parts falling off an inopportune times is funny but it turns the film into a one trick pony by the end.

When it's all said and done MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK is a mixed bag as many of the jokes are repeated too often and the story of Missy's dad, along with most of the town, wanting to kill Johnny because he's a zombie become stale too quickly. The relationship between Missy and Johnny help carry the film passed these issues and keep things light and fun enough to be an enjoyable viewing experience.

The Audio & Video
Mill Creek gives MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK its debut on Blu-ray with an attractive 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is largely very well done. The image is sharp and has a warm color palette. Detail level is often quite strong in surfaces and textures but there is some light digital noise reduction noticeable, heavier at certain points than other, that give the image a slight waxy quality. There's also a couple incidents of edge enhancement that could have been passed up with no damage done. Skin tones look healthy and natural when they aren't dealing with the DNR issue and black levels are deep and don't suffer from any sort of crush or compression. There's a bit of speckling scattered throughout but the picture quality is quite clean and free of any debris for the most part. The Dolby Digital surround mix is nicely done, with a crisp quality that is free of any damage or background noise. The original score by Harry Manfredini and the soundtrack of 80s and 90s pop rock tracks blend nicely with the dialogue. Overall the technical quality of the disc is imperfect but a damn fine job that fans of the film will welcome with open arms that hopefully don't fall off.

The Extras
Bare bones.

The Bottom Line
There are some flaws that keep MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK from being held in the same regard as the classic teen comedies of its era but it's still an entertaining, lighthearted comedy that brings the laughs often enough.


Thursday, March 10, 2016


Vinegar Syndrome gives us two re-releases this month, this double feature of the CANDY films by Gail Palmer being an upgrade to Blu-ray over the previous Peekarama Collection DVD released back in July of 2014. This is a welcomed upgrade over an already attractive version that really could (and did) stand on its own two feet. 

This Blu-ray carries over all of the same content as the DVD which was reviewed upon its release. You can see that review HERE. Instead of writing all the same things over again I will save you time by saying the picture is sharper, with more overall depth but especially in details such as clothing and surface textures. The skin tones look gorgeous with a natural fleshiness that only a well done Blu-ray transfer can really convey. The upgrade from an already well done DVD is immediately and constantly noticeable.

The Blu-ray of EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY and CANDY GOES TO HOLLYWOOD is worth an upgrade if you already have the DVD and certainly worth a first time purchase if you haven't picked up the previous DVD.

Note: There's a single frame digital glitch at the end of the first film, just before the credits which is the result of a manufacturing error. This could easily be overlooked but Vinegar Syndrome has already begun repressing corrected discs and is setting up a replacement program for those that have already purchased the disc. You can get in contact with them on their Facebook page for more information.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A VIOLENT LIFE (DVD Review) - One 7 Movies

Directed By: Sergio Citti
Written By: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Starring: Laurent Terzieff, Franco Citti, Anita Sanders
Color/140 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: February 9, 2016

The Film
Bandiera and Rabbino are brothers living in the poor waterside town of Ostia. The brothers make their living by committing petty crimes for food and money. The brothers drink away their problems and don't deal with their lifelong struggles with religion put on them by their abusive father. They discover a runaway girl sleeping in a field one day and bring her home and a bond quickly forms between the three until a stint in jail for the brothers separates them from the girl and their relationship takes a violent turn once they're reunited.

Off the bat A VIOLENT LIFE is uneven in several ways, most of all in tone. A drama about relationships of all sorts, the film is heavily plagued with bits of out of place comedy and upbeat music. The film's flow is choppy feeling more like episodes of the trio's life. There are some powerful moments including a flashback to when the Badiera (Laurent Terzieff) and Rabbino (Franco Citti) were young boys and their father kills their beloved goat and the whole family has a hearty laugh at their expense, even making fun of their tears. This event leads to a powerful shift in the brothers that sets them on their life's path.

While the movie isn't perfect it does give an interesting and poignant view into the mind of Pier Paolo Pasolini (Salo: The 120 Days Of Sodom). His views on relationships, religion (particularly the Catholic church), government and more are easily apparent without being preachy or egotistical. That is what makes A VIOLENT LIFE worth watching.

The Audio & Video
One 7 Movies delivers A VIOLENT LIFE on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The picture looks decent and is perfectly watchable but detail isn't amazing and the film's overall look is bland. This style does fit the setting of the movie however so it works in that regard. The audio is in the film's native Italian with a mono mix that is clear and free of any background noise. It's not a dynamic mix but it gets the job done nicely. There are optional English subtitles which are easy enough to follow along with and read well despite a few spelling or grammatical errors sprinkled throughout. The main issue with the subtitles is that whenever there is a break in dialogue the subtitles of the last words spoken remain on the screen until there is another line of dialogue. Breaks in dialogue can last several minutes so it is a bit annoying even if it isn't totally distracting.

The Extras
Bare bones.

The Bottom Line
The film is flawed but it has some merits to it. Most of all it is an interesting piece of Pasolini's filmography and worth watching to experience more from the controversial artist.

A VIOLENT LIFE is available HERE

Sunday, March 6, 2016

SEX & ASTROLOGY (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

Directed By: Matt Cimber
Color/82 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: February 23, 2016

The Film
SEX & ASTROLOGY brings the viewer on a trip through time and space to bare witness to the sexual side to each of the twelve signs of the zodiac all while Venus looks on with a pink cupid and his blue wife.

SEX & ASTROLOGY is pure midnight movie gold. Through and through, it is a sexually charged, piece of probably drug induced art that is right at home in 1971. The film has virtually no dialogue, letting a narrator describe to us the personality and sexual desires of each zodiac while we get to watch a plethora of uncredited actors and actresses get it on. While this is most definitely a hardcore adult film there's only a few actual penetration or more hardcore shots, most of this feels and looks a bit softer than it actually was but it doesn't hurt the film at all.

SEX & ASTROLOGY feels like a 12 part stage play at times, with interludes of Venus putting up with Cupid's antics but this play wouldn't be found on Broadway, it'd be found in some basement stoner theater with about 25 people in the audience who end up having an orgy of their own once the cast takes their final bows and the curtain is closed for the night.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome have SEX AND ASTROLOGY looking quite good. It's evident that the movie was filmed soft, dark and sometimes in various colored lighting that washes out much of the picture. While there's nothing VinSyn can do about the way in which the film was photographed they've done a nice job on their 2K scan from original 16mm elements. The picture still has some scratchles and speckling and the odd piece of debris or hair but colors are strong and vivid and there's a nice sharpness to the picture. The mono Dolby Digital audio sounds very good with no background noise present. It's free of any distortions or audible hiccups. The majority of the sound comes from the score and narration so it sounds quite nice.

The Extras
The original theatrical trailer is included.

The Bottom Line
Compared to other Vinegar Syndrome releases SEX & ASTROLOGY may seem a bit on the tame side despite having plenty of skin on display but there's a fantastic oddball midnight movie quality to the entire picture that makes this one stand out from the pack in an almost stage play sort of way.

SEX & ASTROLOGY is available HERE

Friday, March 4, 2016

THE DEAD NEXT DOOR (Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Review) - Tempe Digital

Directed By: J.R. Bookwalter
Written By: J.R. Bookwalter
Starring: Pete Ferry, Bogdan Pecic, Michael Grossi
Color/78 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: December 15, 2015

The Film
Zombies are a problem, a big problem and an everyday problem. A special government appointed force called The Zombie Squad has been formed to clean out the problem while scientists look for a cure. Unfortunately zombies are only the start of the Zombie Squad's problems as a religious cult is protecting them, believing that they're punishment sent from God.

THE DEAD NEXT DOOR is the epitome of backyard filmmaking on a massive scale. J.R. Bookwalter wrote, directed and co-produced this movie that took over four years to complete and eventually had the help of Sam Raimi as an executive producer using some of his earnings from Evil Dead 2 and voice talents from Bruce Campbell. The movie was shot with a Super 8 camera which was long out of date even in 1985. The graininess and overall image quality those cameras give to the movie is one of almost an older documentary and add to that home video feel. It works for the tone of the movie. The acting is about as good as you'd expect for a DIY zombie movie that takes four years to complete but all sound had to be dubbed in post production, again adding to the low budget, backyard feel.

I've had plenty of history with this movie, having seen it at least half a dozen times and having quite the vast array of reactions to it on any given viewing. I've finally come to the conlcusion that I really enjoy THE DEAD NEXT DOOR for everything it is and isn't. The special effects are quite good, easily the most professional thing about the film. It's filled with references to popular horror culture and has a scene set in a video store, which is always a plus.

You have to be able to appreciate low budget cheese and you have to enjoy so bad they're good movies to really "get" THE DEAD NEXT DOOR. It has a great personality, some inventive filmmaking and even risked felony terrorism charges to get some Washington D.C. footage. That's guerilla filmmaking at its purest and shows the passion behind this movie from everyone involved. That passion is immediately evident when you watch it. A project of love that ends up being well worth all the time J.R. Bookwalter has poured into it over the years for each various format it has been released on.

The Audio & Video
THE DEAD NEXT DOOR was filmed on Super 8 film which immediately limits the amount of detail you can squeeze out of the tiny 8mm frames but Tempe Entertainment has gone the distance with a brand new 2K restoration that has brought every last drop of detail out of the film elements used. This Blu-ray won't look like the latest blockbuster release but it has a much higher level of depth and detail than any previous home video release this movie has ever seen. Colors are more vibrant and vivid giving them a strong presentation and not looking washed out. The reds are crimson and black levels have no problem with crush. Surfaces have a nice noticeable texture and the special effects makeup looks excellent in HD.

The audio was all recorded in post production dubs and it sounds quite good here with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that is sparkling clean and very crisp sounding. The mix across the levels is steady and the fullest and most powerful this movie has ever sounded. There's no issues with damage or background noise.

The Extras
Disc 1 (Blu-ray)
-"Restoration Of The Dead" - Interview with director J.R. Bookwalter on the filming and painstaking restoration of the movie from the original Super 8mm film to the 2004 DVD release and this current Blu-ray.
-Capitol Theater Screening - Footage from the 2015 screening and reunion in Cleveland, Ohio.
-The Nightlight Screening - Footage from the 2015 screening in the film's hometown of Akron, Ohio
-Behind The Scenes
-Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
-Still Galleries

Disc 2 (DVD)
-Original 1990 VHS Version of the Film
-2005 DVD Version of the film
-2015 Audio Commentary with Doug Tilley and Moe Porne of the No Budget Nightmare Podcast
-2005 Audio Commentary with Director J.R. Bookwalter, Actor Michael Todd and Cinematographer Michael Tolochko
-Rare Short Films w/ Audio Commentary
-Local TV Appearances
-"The Dead Up North" - Footage from a Canadian screening of the film
-1995 Making-Of Excerpts
-Local TV Commercials
-"20 Years In 15 Minutes"
-Video Storyboards
-Video Preshoots
-Three Miles Out Music Video
-2000 Frightvision Reunion

The Bottom Line
THE DEAD NEXT DOOR isn't for everyone. It's cheesy, it's bad and it's wonderful. It's gory, it's silly and it's not the prettiest thing to look at. If that all sounds good to you then you'll probably appreciate it and there's only one way to see it and that is this definitive edition of the movie with a ridiculously extensive collection of extra features chronicling the history of the film over the last 30 years.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

KILL OR BE KILLED (DVD Review) - Image/RLJ Entertainment

Directed By: Duane Graves, Justin Meeks
Written By: Duane Graves, Justin Meeks
Starring: Justin Meeks, Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Greg Kelly
Color/104 Minutes/Not Rated
Release Date: March 2, 2016

The Film
Sweet Tooth Barbee and his gang of outlaws are on a desperate ride across the inhospitable terrain of Texas to recover their hidden loot from a previous robbery but with a bounty on their head and plenty of other ruthless killers riding the area their ride to riches becomes a fight for survival.

KILL OR BE KILLED is a violent, revisionist western in the spaghetti style. There's no shortage of fist fights, shoot outs, and bloodshed left in the wake of Sweet Tooth's gang. While that makes for a fun western if doesn't make for an engaging western as the majority of the characters are paper thin, and the story couldn't be more one note. It is nothing more than a timeline of places where another fight takes place in the travel-fight-sleep-repeat pattern.

The focus on travel does allow the filmmakers to show off the sprawling Texas landscape where KILL OR BE KILLED was shot and they manage to capture that epic landscape nicely with some nice photography. Sadly at times it seems certain filters are used on the camera that soften the look and cheat us of some of the vivid colors that the natural terrain has to offer.

Performances are solid from top to bottom, with big points going to Brider Zadina as the young ventriloquist who's growth from a medical swindler's sidekick to a young man hardened by the west and the men around him may be the most interesting part of the film. There's other interesting things that never quite fully develop and left me feeling unsatisfied.

That feeling carried on through much of the film - I think westerns work because you can completely lose yourself in the setting and the characters. They engulf you from the scenery and the characters to the music. KILL OR BE KILLED felt a bit like an imitation western almost as if someone read the tropes of the genre and made a movie that they thought would be the real deal. I know this isn't the case because directors Duane Graves and Justin Meeks show talent throughout but moments of CGI blood spray and uneven special effects pulled me out of the film. Westerns, to me, need a feeling of authenticity and at times KILL OR BE KILLED loses that feeling.

KILL OR BE KILLED is uneven throughout. There's some beautiful compositions and decent performances but there's also a one note story and questionable direction that makes this feel more like a cheap action movie than a western. It's a missed opportunity at being an impressive contemporary western.

Side note- This movie was originally called Red On Yella, Kill A Fella which I think is not only a far more original name but it better suits the film as well.
The Audio & Video
Image RLJ Entertainment's 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks good with no compression or blocking even during the dark scenes. The picture is clean and has pretty strong detail for a standard DVD. The colors are reproduced nicely but the way the movie was shot doesn't always allow them to shine leading to a soft picture. The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix sounds great, with a powerful mix allowing for the loud bangs of gunshots to ring true and the traditional western score to become a bit infectious. There's no background noise or distortions to the audio mix.

The Extras
-Kill Or Be Killed: Making An Indie Western
-Audio Commentary with Duane Graves and Justin Meeks
-Deleted Scenes
-Interview with Justin Meeks and Duane Graves
-SLACKER 2011 segment by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks

The Bottom Line
Casual western fans may be more forgiving to KILL OR BE KILLED but they'd also be better served digging deeper into an unsung classic of the genre. It's the double edged sword that the movie itself is. You take the good with the disappointing.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Back in September of last year Vinegar Syndrome released this pair of films on Blu-ray in a limited edition of 2,000. That release sold out quickly as limited editions tend to do and is going for big bucks on the secondary used market. While I think if you dropped the $75-80 it'll cost you to get the limited edition Blu-ray you wouldn't be disappointed in the work done by Vinegar Syndrome because it is a truly beautiful job done by VinSyn, I'm totally on board with this DVD release of the films.

Fans commonly complain in situations like these when a limited edition is re-released but VinSyn is keeping the Blu-ray edition special by re-releasing the films for those that missed out on them the first time to get them at a reasonable price but not giving them the entire package that the people that bought the limited edition get. It's a fair trade off in my opinion and the Blu-ray editions are still out there on the secondary market if you want to pay the collector prices to get it. It's gorgeous and worth it if you need these films in HD. Otherwise this DVD release is a very nice release that carries over the special features from the original Blu-ray.

You can read the original Blu-ray review HERE but just note that the A/V takes a small step down in quality as we're talking about a DVD instead of an HD presentation here. The films are still a blast, Hyapatia Lee is still sexy as hell and a legend of adult films and I hope you'll give this one a chance if you previously missed out on the Blu.