Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review


UK/1966
Directed By: Don Chaffey
Written By: Brian Clemens
Starring: Raquel Welch, John Richardson, Percy Herbert
Color/100 Minutes/
Region A
Release Date: February 14, 2017
2x Blu-ray

The Film
A look at the tough and rugged life early humans had to live all while being hunted by massive man eating lizards, dinosaurs and bugs. ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. isn't historically accurate by any means but it is far more entertaining than a day spent in class.

It was ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. that broke out Raquel Welch as an international star and sex symbol. The film's main selling point is 100 minutes of the stunning Welch trouncing around in a fur bikini getting into all sorts of trouble. The film is mostly family friendly, with only a few moments that could be considered excessively violent, even for 1966. And even those moments fall short of some of the violence we saw from earlier Hammer productions but still nine minutes were trimmed from the US cut of the film. However Welch still brought a strong sex appeal and as we all know, sex sells and we all bought in.

Welch's sexiness wasn't all the film has to offer, not by a long stretch. The most obvious draw to the film, especially at the time of release was the special effects and creatures created by Ray Harryhausen which include classic scenes with a Pteranodon and Welch along with a epic fight scenes between the tribesman and an Allosaurus that gets a bit bloody. Alongside those classic scenes are giant Iguanas, Tarantulas, various other dinosaurs, ape men and more. Harryhausen's use of stop motion animation here is as good as it ever would be giving full life to each and every creature he designed. The sculpts have an exceptional lifelike quality and make for an exciting and believable cast of creatures and enemies. Director Don Chaffey was plenty experienced by the time he made ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and was no stranger to fantasy adventure epics having previously directed Jason And The Argonauts, another Harryhausen special effects epic. He would go on to make a couple more films in the genre with 1967's The Viking Queen and 1970's Creatures The World Forgot, both Hammer productions. He proved more than capable of steering the production toward a glorious and successful finish with great set pieces and action scenes.

ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. may be light on plot, existing largely to show off a scantily clad Raquel Welch and yet another highlight reel of glorious Ray Harryhausen creatures, but it does manage to fulfill the promise that the opening narration tells us of the world being unfriendly and inhospitable and though there's no dialogue besides some grunting and a couple of names there's definitely and undeniable character development and meaningful relationships forged and broken during the course of the film. Brian Clemens' screenplay is breezy, quickly paced and filled with deadly encounter after deadly encounter but he proves you don't need page after page of talky characters spewing endless dialogue to have a film that can draw you in to it's characters and the story. At least not when there is Raquel Welch and Harryhausen monsters.

The Audio & Video
Kino Lorber has given a brand new 4K restoration to the film and it looks absolutely stunning. I don't think the prehistoric ages have ever looked this good! Colors are vivid and eye catching with bright blues and fleshy, natural skin tones. Detail is incredible from the fur and leather outfits to being able to separate individual grains of sand. The film has a healthy grain structure maintaining its original film look and feel and I couldn't be happier. The DTSHD audio is an audible winner as well. Crisp and pleasing to the ear, the sound features a perfect mix in levels, no distortions or damage of any kind and no background noise. I think it is safe to say ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. hasn't looked or sounded this good since its original theatrical run.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary With Film Historian Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog Magazine
-91 Minute US Cut
-"In The Valley Of The Dinosaurs" - Interview with Raquel Welch
-Interview with Ray Harryhausen
-Interview with actress Martine Beswick
-Animated poster and image gallery
-Trailers

The Bottom Line
ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. is pure adventure fun and it has never looked better! This is one you can (and will want to) watch over and over! You can count this Hammer fanboy as very satisfied.

ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. is available HERE

Friday, March 17, 2017

WITCHTRAP (Vinegar Syndrome) - Blu-ray Review


USA/1989
Directed By: Kevin S. Tenney
Written By: Kevin S. Tenney
Starring: James Quinn, Kathleen Bailey, Linnea Quigley
Color/91 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
Fresh of the heels of his 1988 cult classic Night Of The Demons, Kevin Tenney was approached by producers who had funding ready to go and wanted a movie to invest in immediately. Within a week Tenney had the screenplay for WITCHTRAP ready to go and that is the screenplay about a group of paranormal experts and a couple cops who attempt to remove the benevolent spirits from Lauder House which has a history of unexplained violent deaths.

It's quite obvious off the bat that WITCHTRAP had a rushed script because the dialogue isn't very good at all but sometimes we get some really cheesy gold out of it, mainly from James Quinn who stars as Detective Vicente. There's few things to match the greatness of dialogue exchanges such as:
-"I resent that."
-"I resent your mother for taking drugs while she was pregnant."

and

-"Listen, I didn't miss anything."
-"Yeah, except the last stage of evolution."

That's gold, folks. And Adding to the campiness of the dialogue is the fact that the entire movie had to have its sound and dialogue added in post thanks to a total fuck up by the sound engineer on set.


It wouldn't be fair to WITCHTRAP to solely lump it in with other so-bad-it's-good movies, which it could certainly be classified as but it has an undeniable gothic moodiness to it and a surprisingly mean spirit (no pun intended) to it. Look no further than the groundskeeper's death scene to see what I mean - down right cold blooded. Along with the mood is a very cool way of showing the malevolent spirit only through camera lenses for the early part of the film which adds a spooky element that only the audience is privy too leaving the characters in the dark and knowing he could be lurking anywhere at any moment.

WITCHTRAP doesn't forget its 80s roots and provides quite a few gory moments from a memorable shower scene not just for the violent death but for some quality nudity as well along with a head explosion that rivals Scanners. The gore and violence is shown in amounts never before seen here as the film was subjected to several cuts by the MPAA upon its original release and Kevin Tenney has given us the true version never before available.


WITCHTRAP is definitely campy and cheesy and very much a film of the 1980s, more specifically a rushed film of the 1980s but there's also really solid production values that make the film feel completely legitimate and more expensive than it was. It has a silly sense of humor along with a great mood and some serious creepy and violent moments.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome presents WITCHTRAP with a new 2K scan and restoration from the the 35mm Interpositive and frankly it looks fantastic. There's a thin but natural looking grain structure over the film maintaining an organic film look and feel. Colors are reproduced beautifully from the plentiful deep blood reds to the moody and overcast grays. Black levels are deep while skin tones are lively and healthy looking with no signs of DNR. The DTS-HDMA 2.0 audio mix comes through crisp and clear with perfectly mixed levels. There's no hiss or distortions and no background noise. The mix is simplistic but is of a very high quality and perfectly works for the film in it's original form.


The Extras
This Blu-ray is absolutely stacked with special features including:

-Audio Commentary track with Director Kevin Tenney, Producer Dan Duncan, Cinematographer Tom Jewett, and Actor Hal Havins.
-Video Interview with Writer/Director Kevin Tenney
-Video Interview with Actress Linnea Quigley
-Video Interview with Cinematographer Tom Jewett
-Video Interview with Special Effects Supervisor Tassilo Baur
-Audio Interview with Makeup Artist Judy Yonemoto
-Audio Interview with Composer Dennis Michael Tenney
-Original Video Release Trailer
-"Book Of Joe" - Short film by Kevin Tenney with alternate ending
-Still Gallery
-Reversible Cover Art


The Bottom Line
You may have seen WITCHTRAP before but you haven't seen it like this. Between presenting the film uncut for the first time anywhere, the gorgeous transfer and the overflowing bounty of special features it is easy for me to say that Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray of WITCHTRAP is the definitive release of the film. Highly recommended!

WITCHTRAP is available HERE

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

EASTER SUNDAY (Camp Motion Pictures) DVD Review


USA/2014
Directed By: Jeremy Todd Morehead
Written By: Jeremy Todd Morehead
Starring: Jeremy Todd Morehead, Jason Delgado, Robert Z'Dar
Color/95 Minuets/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: March 14, 2017

The Film
I don't get the trend of making intentionally bad and/or stupid horror films. Plenty of B-movies of days past were entertainingly bad but very few were made to be shitty on purpose. The filmmakers set out to make a movie the best they could and for any number of reasons it turned out to be shit. Most of the time those movies were nothing more than shit but sometimes something struck a chord with audiences and a movie was beloved for all the wrong reasons. Now it has become a trend to make throwback style horror and exploitation pictures and make them stupid and shitty on purpose and it needs to stop. EASTER SUNDAY falls into this category.

Let it be known that I have no problems with intentional campiness in a movie, not everything needs to be high art, but there is big difference between campy and purposely stupid. EASTER SUNDAY is a slasher movie that tries to replicate the genre's golden years of the 1980s with it's plot, score and overall aesthetic and it could have been a successful and memorable slasher film for this era if it had taken itself just the least bit serious. Instead,  the writing and casting seem like they were too concerned with writing the next dumb line of dialogue that isn't funny or trying out another stupid voice to overdub a character with. Had this movie put a bit of effort into getting any sort of actual performance from their cast and written even a mildly competent script EASTER SUNDAY would be a fun little body count film as it does have a simple yet effectively designed killer. Unfortunately he has an obnoxious voice that sounds like it came from a wise guy cartoon character designed to get on your last nerve. Every line delivered by the killer sounds like it's meant to be a punchline to a joke that was never set up and doesn't make any sense.


I wanted to like EASTER SUNDAY and there are things about it that I did enjoy such as the fun it has with it's special effects and gore even if they're on the cheap side like spaghetti guts, it made me smile. Robert Z'Dar is a welcomed addition as the cop and there's a couple of genuinely funny lines dealing with his character. The heart of an entertaining and solid slasher are all there but I think EASTER SUNDAY took a wrong turn early on in deciding what they wanted the movie to be and there's no recovering from making a movie intentionally bad.

The Audio & Video
Camp Motion Pictures' DVD of EASTER SUNDAY features a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has an artificial filter over the picture to make it look like an aged and slightly worn print from the 80s. This gives the film a greenish blue tint with faux speckling and grain throughout. The picture quality is still good overall with fine amounts of detail and colors poking through. The audio sounds fine and is right in line with the picture quality. The score by Dave Ferguson, which is probably my favorite part of the entire movie, sounds crisp and shines through. Levels are steady and mixed well.


The Extras
A mini behind the scenes documentary is included along with a trailer.


The Bottom Line
I'm not a fan of the style and vibe this movie went for but if you're more forgiving with intentionally bad movies then you may enjoy it more than I did.

EASTER SUNDAY is available HERE

Sunday, March 12, 2017

SLASHER.COM (DVD Review) - Cinedigm


DVDUSA/2017
Directed By: Chip Gubera
Written By: Chelsea Andes, Chip Gubera
Starring: Ben Kaplan, Jewel Shepard, R.A. Mihailoff
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: March 7, 2017

The Film
Jack and Kristy have just met for the first time after talking through an online dating site. Their first date is a weekend trip to a relaxing cabin in the woods. Soon after arriving they meet the murderous family residing in the same woods as their cabin and must fight for their lives.

On the surface SLASHER.COM has a simple and familiar plot with a set up that could be countless other horror films Under the surface it attempts to throw twist after twist at the viewer but each is so obvious that if you're not batting a thousand on figuring out twists long before they happen you're simply not paying attention. The production itself is competent with a cast that is passable when they're not overacting and okay special effects.


There came a moment in the second act where the movie became so painfully serious in everything it was doing and saying that I felt like my mother had just slapped me upside the head with a frying pan while warning me about the dangers of online dating. Who in their right mind would go away for a weekend with someone they had just met anyways? At least the film attempts to explain away that giant lapse in normal people logic by having each of the characters have their own motives for getting into a situation like that but it still hurts the reality in which a slasher film about online dating needs to maintain. There's also a scene that perfectly represents what my friend Derrick Carey has coined "Chair Horror". You know, a dimly lit scene with someone tied to a chair enduring some sort of torture for a a scene that lasts entirely too long and is meant to disturb the audience. Yeah we get some of that thrown in for good measure and filmmakers need to find better ways to shock the audience because these $5 sets (a chair, some rope and an empty room) are just so overdone and underwhelming that I've had more than enough of them.

There is a bright spot to SLASHER.COM and that's the two main antagonists played by Jewel Shepard and R.A. Milhailoff. Jewel is famous for her role in Return Of The Living Dead and for that I appreciate seeing her around and she gave what I'd consider to be the best performance of the movie. Mihailoff portrayed Leatherface in the third installment of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and he's a genuinely imposing figure and someone you can believe could create some mayhem in the backwoods. Otherwise this film is far too heavy handed in everything it does, it has a weak message and is too concerned with how many twists it can throw at us to ever deliver anything of value.

The Audio & Video
Cineidgm releases SLASHER.COM on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks decent for the most part. Colors and lighting are often natural and the overall picture quality is clean and clear. There are moments however where it appears equipment of far less quality was used and it looks as if you're watching the movie through a mesh screen. The 2.0 stereo English audio mix sounds fine with no background noise or damage. The levels are steady with the dialogue and soundtrack being complimentary to each other.


The Extras
This is a bare bones affair.


The Bottom Line
Skip it.

SLASHER.COM is available HERE

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

MONDO WEIRDO/VAMPIROS SEXOS Press Relesae

 MONDO WEIRDO / VAMPIROS SEXOS Premieres on BLU-RAY/DVD March 14, 2017


Los Angeles, CA (March 6, 2017.) Cult Epics presents Carl Andersen’s films, the European answer to the Cinema of Transgression of Richard Kern and Nick Zedd, except more extreme, eccentric, surreal and erotic. 

“The Hard-core version of Eraserhead” –Jan Doense (Weekend of Terror)
MONDO WEIRDO: A TRIP TO PARANOIA PARADISE aka JUNGFRAU IM ABGRUND wallows in smut, sleaze, gore, splatter, and dark comedy and is set in an underground world where both vampires and punk rockers engage in hardcore sex to the highly addictive and hypnotic electro music of Model D’oo. Dedicated to Jean Luc-Godard and Jess Franco featuring his daughter Jessica Franco-Manera. Shot on 16mm stock, presented in a new High-definition transfer on Blu-ray. 

“Vampire Porno”
VAMPIROS SEXOS aka I WAS A TEENAGE ZABBADOING… is Carl Andersen’s debut film and is one of the weirdest movies ever, and it will certainly shock your mind. VAMPIROS SEXOS is the ultimate European underground punk rock sex vampire film. Stylish and trashy at the same time in the best sort of way, the film also features an endlessly entrancing no-wave score by Model D’oo. Cult Epics presents the rare only existing Uncut SD version on DVD together with:  WHAT’S SO DIRTY ABOUT IT? Bonus short film. Cut-up trance noise nihilistic short film, reminiscent of the work of Throbbing Gristle and Kenneth Anger. SD 

3 Disc Limited (numbered) Edition of 2000 copies includes Exclusive CD soundtrack by Model D’oo.


MONDO WEIRDO/VAMPIROS SEXOS Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo
Price:                              $39.95
Street Date:                              March, 2016
Production Year:                     1988/1990/1990
Film run time:                 Approx. 68/57/9
Language:                                English & German language with English subtitles
Aspect Ratio:                           1.33:1
Audio:                                      Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Label:                                       Cult Epics
Distributor:                              CAV 
Blu-ray/DVD/CD Cat.no.       CE-149
BD UPC:                                 881190014998
Rating:                                     Not Rated


SPECIAL FEATURES
New High-definition Transfer (from original 16mm print)
Introduction by Erwin Leder (star of Angst)
The Making of Mondo Weirdo (2016)
               The Making of I was a Teenage Zabbadoing aka Vampiros Sexos (2016)

               Bonus film: What’s So Dirty About It? (1990)

Monday, March 6, 2017

BLOODRUNNERS (Blu-ray Review) - Speakeasy Pictures


USA/2017
Directed By: Dan Lantz
Written By: Dan Lantz, Michael McFadden, Adam Danoff
Starring: Ice-T, Michael McFadden, Airen DeLamater
Color/95 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
Ice-T is Chesterfield, an ancient vampire who has opened a new speakeasy in prohibition era New England. When the local sheriff Jack Malone comes to collect his "tax" the corrupt officer gets more than he bargained for when he finds out the club is actually a vampire lair.

BLOODRUNNERS has a lot going for it like the charisma and attitude that Ice-T brings to everything he does and a really solid production design that has minor flaws but is very believable of a prohibition era town. The cast is good and when the movie is interested in being a vampire horror film it succeeds even if the special effects aren't always amazing. Unfortunately the script is a bit too busy with a couple subplots that try to add depth to a couple of the characters and their motives but in reality just slow things down and takes their eyes off the prize.


There's an obvious connection here to From Dusk Til Dawn with a vampire lair hiding out in a bar and when BLOODRUNNERS is doing a 1930s version of FDTD it's an entertaining picture but too much of the picture is spent on the subplots and Ice-T is vacant for stretches that last too long but when he's allowed to shout his lines with a certain ignorance and ferocity that shouts "Fuck you, I'm Ice-T and I'm a vampire, bitch! Where's my money?!" the picture is at its best and most enjoyable. Unfortunately the biggest name in the film gets lost in the shuffle a bit too much.


The Audio & Video
The Blu-ray from Speakeasy Pictures is quite good. The 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean and sharp with the 1080p HD quality giving way to strong detail and vivid colors. Black levels are deep and there's no signs of excessive DNR or edge enhancement. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is crisp and clear with steady levels and a quality mix job. There's no distortions or imperfections and English, Spanish and French subtitles are available.


The Extras
-Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Dan Lantz and Co-writer/Star Michael McFadden
-Deleted Scenes
-Extended Scenes
-Gag Reel
-Trailer


The Bottom Line
BLOODRUNNERS has some fun scenes but doesn't make the most of an interesting idea. Worth a watch but this isn't destined to become a classic.

BLOODRUNNERS is available HERE

Friday, March 3, 2017

LAVENDER (2017)


Canada, USA/2017
Directed By: Ed Gass-Donnelly
Written By: Colin Frizzell, Ed Gass-Donnelly
Starring: Abbie Cornish, Dermot Mulroney, Diego Klattenhoff
In Theaters and on VOD and Digital HD: March 3, 2017

LAVENDER stars Abbie Cornish as Jane, a wife and mother who is suffering from Amnesia after a car accident. While her memory returns she begins to have memories of a family she didn't know she had and visions of the murder of that family that she may have committed.


LAVENDER is a slow burn psychological and somewhat supernatural thriller centered around Jane along with her daughter and her strained relationship with her husband. She has minor flashes of memories from a life she doesn't know and has memory loss when it comes to small things like appointments. She photographs abandoned houses for her art gallery, fascinated by the life that once thrived within the walls of the now derelict buildings. After her accident she finds out a bit about her past and that she owns a house she has been photographing and that it's been kept up by her uncle. Upon returning to this house strange things start happening to Jane and her daughter until the haunting and sickening truth of her past comes boiling to the surface.


The pacing of LAVENDER could have been a problem but it ends up being one of the film's greatest strengths if you can get beyond the first 25 or 30 minutes. After that the film keeps growing into something more interesting but sadly it never gets to anything interesting enough. The film is predictable and dull with Abbie Cornish sleepwalking her way through the film. The film doesn't know if it wants to take a psychological thriller approach or if it would rather be some sort of supernatural ghost film as it fails at doing both. LAVENDER could be worse but it could have been a lot more interesting with a more focused approach.