Friday, April 20, 2018


Directed By: Meng Hua Ho
Written By: Kuang Ni
Starring: Lieh Lo, Tony Liu, Nancy Yen
Color/82 Minutes/
Region B
Release Date: March 26, 2018

The Film
The nasty Lord Chin has tasked his longtime loyal guard Szema Chun to make the cross country trek obtain a rare medicine and return in time to cure him of the deadly skin cancer, or as described in the film's native language an evil boil called "One Hundred Birds Worshipping The Phoenix" - a much more colorful description -  afflicting him. Worried that Chun will turn his back on him Lord Chin has also hired a small gang to ride with him and kill him as soon as he obtains the medicine to return it themselves. When the crisscrossing becomes known to each other the chase begins and head's fly.

The plot may be thin in THE DRAGON MISSILE but the action is thick and production values are high. Martial arts movies with a decapitation theme were all the rage at this point with the titular Dragon Missile being a pair of boomerang blades that lop heads clean off (in a mostly bloodless fashion oddly enough) and the film itself rivaling the Flying Guillotine films and its various knockoffs. Many of these films have a bloodier outcome than the Dragon Missiles do, though there are a few select moments of the signature bright red Shaw Bros bloodshed.

While it may not have the blood factor THE DRAGON MISSILE certainly has the higher quality production than many similar movies that were coming out from companies other than Shaw Bros. There was no real competition for Shaw Bros studios when it came to production value of martial arts films and this film proves it. The sets are, many of which are interiors that shows off their deep pockets as many other similar productions would stick to exteriors as much as possible to save on lighting, set design and other associated costs and in THE DRAGON MISSILE they're lavishly decorated giving way to some exquisitely designed fight scenes. Imagine having a Kung-Fu fight in penthouse suite of the Four Seasons but in old China. The costumes are also brilliant and have that iconic Kung-fu look to them. There's nothing cheap about this production and the cast and crew certainly hold up their end of the bargain as well.

Director Meng Hua Ho (The Flying Guillotine, The Mighty Peking Man) will be a recognizable name to any seasoned martial arts film fan as he directed some very notable films for Shaw Bros during the 1970s with his career having began with extensive work in the 1960s and running all the way through the early 90s. His work here is showy and stylish as the best martial arts films are. He beautifully captures the brilliant fight choreography and the editing keeps it smooth and flowing without feeling cut up and jumpy. The ensemble cast is a veritable who's who of Shaw Bros and Hong Kong cinema with just about every face popping being one you've seen before and will undoubtedly see again with just about everyone in the cast seemingly having 100 or more screen credits. Lieh Lo is no hero but he's a very capable lead and someone we still end up cheering for because he's so badass and has such cool weapons. He shares some memorable scenes with Tony Liu my favorite of which being the ring fight scene. The cast is made of character actor after character actor and each one brings their own personality to the table so things are always fresh and that ensures that THE DRAGON MISSILE is always entertaining and fun despite being little more than an 80 minute chase scene.

Martial arts films have given us some of the most memorable fight scenes, weapon designs, and thrills in all of cinema and the Dragon Missile might be some of the coolest weapons I've seen yet. The film will probably never be considered a true classic of the genre but I do think it is an exciting adventure movie and damn did I have a lot of fun watching it.

The Audio & Video
The film has been restored from an HD master in the film's original 2.35:1 Scope aspect ratio by 88 Films and boy does it look nice. The production features a wide array of colors from the lush greens to bright blues and reds and they all look vibrant and beautiful. The colors pop just enough without burning too hot and black levels are deep and free of any compression issues. The detail level gives the silk costumes and stunning interiors extra life and depth as it allows us to see the quality in each and every piece. The film is presented in its native Chinese with a LPCM uncompressed audio track or with the English dub and English subtitles. I chose to watch the film with the English dub and it sounded crisp, clear and absolutely pleasing to the ear. There was no distortions or damage to speak of.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with Hong Kong cinema expert David West - This track features Mr. West giving a well paced and scripted commentary filled with historical facts and tidbits on the production of the film and its place in the Shaw Bros library along with extensive notes on the filmography and biography of just about every cast member that graces the screen as more than an extra. This is basically an audio encyclopedia on the film and is a really pleasing listen that even gives us some humorous moments.

-Audio Commentary with Asian cinema expert Bey Logan - Well if I didn't think the David West track could be topped I was wrong. Bey Logan is energetic and has facts and anecdotes firing fast and furious and gives a more in depth view of the production and locations. He covers some similar information as David West did on his track but I think he even adds more.

Reversible artwork is also included.

The Bottom Line
There's nobody I wouldn't recommend 88 Films' Blu-ray release of THE DRAGON MISSILE to. It's an action packed piece of martial arts goodness and for anyone that might say something crazy like "I don't like martial arts movies" well they're just plain wrong.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

MY FRIEND DAHMER (MVD Visual - Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Marc Meyers
Written By: Marc Meyers
Starring: Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Anne Heche
Color/107 Minutes/R
Region Free
Release Date: April 10, 2018

The Film
Everyone knows who Jeffrey Dahmer is and chances are you've seen some sort of true crime or documentary film about his crimes. What most of those pieces don't cover are his time in high school, the time directly leading up to the start of his years of murder. MY FRIEND DAHMER takes us face to face with Dahmer and his closest family members and friends during that crucial time that could have been make or break for a serial killer.

As the film opens Ross Lynch stars as Jeffrey Dahmer is spending most of his free time in a shed his father built for him to perform biological experiments in, mainly jarring the corpses of roadkill he has picked up in acid and watching them decompose. When Jeffrey's father begins to worry that he's getting too obsessed with his shed he tears it down and forces his son to find more socially normal activities. Jeffrey finds a group of friends who invite him in to their group after seeing him act out in a wild, mentally challenged manner for attention. The group drives around with Dahmer filming him doing his act in different areas around town such as the market and the mall while Dahmer disrupts everything around him flailing around, knocking things over and making spastic sounds. As the group gets closer to Dahmer as friends they begin to see the inner workings of his life and how bumpy and broken his family life is. As his family life crumbles Dahmer begins drinking and continuing his obsession with road kill and finding out what the inside of animals and humans look like.

MY FRIEND DAHMER was written and directed by Marc Meyers and is a sharp production. Meyers gets really great performances out the entire cast most notably from Ross Lynch and Anne Heche who plays Jeffrey's mother. Lynch really deserves any and all accolades he received as his performance was subtle and over the top in all the right ways at all the right times. Heche perfectly portrays a woman with her own mental issues in a failing marriage and with her own skewed view on her little world. She's a talented actress and has proved it for years, once again doing so here.

The film's title is a little bit funny in an ironic sort of way because the entire film feels like its sole purpose is to get you to sympathize with Jeffrey Dahmer and to, at least in part, justify his future actions. Sure he had a rough family life but plenty had rougher. And he grew up without friends for a long time but there are plenty of introverts and outcast children who had a hard time making friends. Skinning and gutting animals to watch them decompose in jars of acid isn't normal. Harming live animals isn't normal. And we shouldn't try to normalize it or sympathize with it. Sure there's plenty to be said about how his family should have noticed more and sought help for him but that is but a piece in a much larger puzzle.

I don't want to turn this review into a discussion on serial killer mentality and psyche, so I will wrap it  up commenting on the film as whole. Sadly the performances are mostly wasted on a misguided tone and a timeline that jumps haphazardly from scene to scene without any sort of organic flow. In one scene Dahmer is sneaking his dad's alcohol for the first time and in the next he shows up to school totally drunk but nothing is made of it and quickly the drinking plot point is dropped. This is how the entire film progresses with plot devices coming and going and time jumping ahead at random intervals that never really make sense. I feel that MY FRIEND DAHMER wastes a chance to be a really interesting look into the making of a serial killer as the film looks great and looks great but sometimes it's not about what you say but how you say it.

The Audio & Video
MY FRIEND DAHMER gets its home video release from MVD Visual and this Blu-ray looks fantastic. The 2.40:1 aspect ratio has a gorgeous look with striking clarity and strong colors that bring the 1970s period setting to life with excellent detail levels in both textures and surfaces. Skin tones are fleshy and natural while black levels are deep and inky. The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes and whichever option you pick will be pleasing to the ear. The audio is crisp, and perfectly mixed. There's no hiss, crackling or other distortions.

The Extras
Special features include an interview with star Ross Lynch, a behind the scenes slide show and the theatrical trailer.

The Bottom Line
MY FRIEND DAHMER is a slick looking film with good performances throughout but it is nothing more than a mishmash of scattered scenes that feel designed to make us sympathize with Jeffrey Dahmer. Rent it if you're curious.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

JOE BULLET (88 Films Blu-ray Review)

South Africa/1973
Directed By: Louis de Witt
Written By: Tonie van der Merwe
Starring: Ken Gampu, Joe Lopez, Abigail Kubeka
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: September 11, 2017

The Film
I recently met a man named Joe Bullet. Oh, you don't know Joe Bullet? Well, let me introduce you to him.

In 1973 an action packed exploitation film with an all African cast was released in South Africa and banned by the government after only a couple screenings. The movie was called JOE BULLET and starred Ken Gampu in the titular role as a well dressed ass kicker who mixes James Bond and Shaft and is tasked with tracking down the people responsible for attacks on a local soccer club who have found themselves in the championship game against the perennial favorite. Murder, backstabbing and some gratuitous soccer action make up this slice of film history that was made and subsequently banned in the heart of Apartheid era South Africa.

As a film JOE BULLET is spotty. There's plenty of fun action scenes to keep things entertaining but there's also some stretches where things get a bit boring before ramping up again. The writing features a standard plot that doesn't reinvent the wheel but it works just fine for this type of movie while the acting is also spotty. Some of these actors had little to no experience and the entire cast spoke English which wasn't always a language they were very comfortable with so it leads to some shaky dialogue. It's okay, I'm not particularly worried about award winning performances here, moreso with Ken Gampu kicking ass in outfits that usually make me break out in sweats because they're just too heavy for a sunny South African day. I get plenty of that, Gampu really does a great job being the believable hero that can take down entire corrupt organizations. Gampu's main foe is Rocky (Joe Lopez), a back stabbing man full of himself and looking to get rich. Rocky's look is one that will forever be burned into my memory like many of the best viallains are. His face glistening with sweat (this could be said for anyone in the production at any given time), his devious smile showing his missing teeth and his single froth tooth that hangs down far passed the point it should. Pair his look with his diabolical laughing and he's an exploitation villain not to be soon forgotten.

JOE BULLET is raw, very rough around the edges and far from polished. I love it for these reasons and find its imperfections to be a wonderful look into not letting anything stand in your way, including the bullshit laws of Apartheid. JOE BULLET was quickly confiscated and tucked away for decades because it saw a black man handling a fire arm and driving a sports car. The film itself is not political and doesn't have a political message behind it but that doesn't stop it from having a powerful and important legacy that will only grow as more and more people become aware and lay their eyes on it. Imperfect as it may be it has a definite charm that draws the audience in and is filled with interesting locations and exciting action. Joe Bullet is a bad man and JOE BULLET is something I highly recommend you seek out now that you finally have the chance.

The Audio & Video
Before I go into the details on my opinion on how the disc looks and sounds I want to say that I think the most important part of this release is that it exists and the film has been preserved by 88 Films.

The film has been restored from two surviving 16mm prints in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio with varying results. The transfer is rough at times with damage and scratches throughout but other times when the image is cleaner is looks pretty decent. Colors fluctuate from strong with a lush look to a a bit faded and washed out. That's the nature of this transfer throughout - hit and miss but never so bad that it becomes unwatchable. I'm very satisfied with how it looks when all things are considered and will happily revisit it time and time again.

The 2.0 stereo audio mix is more consistent than the video with a clean presentation for the majority of the film. It isn't a particularly strong or dynamic mix by nature so don't expect it to give your audio system any sort of work out but you won't have any issues with fluctuating volume or instances where you can't decipher dialogue.

The Extras
An audio commentary track with writer/producer Tonie van der Merwe, Benjamin Cowley of Gravel Road Films and Callum Waddel. The key to this track is having Tonie van der Merwe on the panel who offers direct insight into the production and history of the film from someone that was as hands on as you could be with it. Cowley and Waddel also bring great information to the table as well from a more historical context. The track is well paced and a pleasant listen.

A trailer rounds out the special features.

The Bottom Line
This is why physical media matters. Movies like JOE BULLET are the reason we need to keep physical media alive. There's thousands of lost, abandoned and forgotten films out there that deserve releases and to be seen and I don't think most studios care enough even to dump them on to a streaming service. Support the labels you love and there will be more releases like JOE BULLET.

JOE BULLET is available HERE

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

OFFERINGS (88 FILMS Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Christopher Reynolds
Written By: Christopher Reynolds
Starring: Loretta Leigh Bowman, Elizabeth Greene, G. Michael Smith
Color/94 Minutes/Not Rated
Region B
Release Date: April 9, 2018

The Film
OFFERINGS is a movie that features one of those covers that jumped out from video store shelves and whether you rented it over and over or never did you certainly remember that image of the killer holding a package dripping with blood. It certainly made my imagination run wild with ideas of what the movie would be like for years until finally seeing it and finding out that OFFERINGS, like many other later 80s slasher films was a mishmash of slasher tropes and took plenty of ideas from better films.

John is a mute boy being raised by his crude mother who may or may not have murdered his father. She's verbally and emotionally abusive and doesn't care much at all for her son stooping to disgusting acts like ashing her cigarette into his scrambled eggs. This all plays a role into his damaged mind which drives him to harm animals. John's only friend in the world is Gretchen who tries to protect him from bullies but even she can't stop them from daring John to walk around the edge of a well where he eventually falls in. John eventually finds himself locked in a mental ward after authorities found him chewing on the remains of his mother he had just murdered. After ten years of confinement John snaps and escapes the hospital confines and head's for his hometown to take revenge on the boys that tormented him that day at the well.

The slasher well was damn near dry by the time OFFERINGS came about with the glory days in the rear view mirror. The studios were still churning out the body count films and so were independent producers. Shot in Oklahoma by first time writer/director Christopher Reynolds, OFFERINGS definitely shows its home grown roots. The 16mm photography is a bit grainier than the 35mm photography of studio productions and effects are crude. This does lend a bit of attitude and rawness to the film that I think it needed because it wasn't going to get by on a story that borrows more plot points from John Carpenter's Halloween than Reynold's Lawyers (assuming he had any) should have been comfortable with. Reynolds was not the the director that Carpenter is but he still competently put together a decent little movie that gets by scene to scene. OFFERINGS manages to stay entertaining despite being relatively goreless with many kills occurring off screen. The best kill which involves a head in a vice clamp is still effective using only the shadows cast on the wall for impact. This scene was well executed despite the budgetary constraints that undoubtedly prevented Reynolds from creating a prosthetic head.

The rest of the golden moments from the film rely more on the charm and quirkiness of the film rather than particularly skilled or inventive filmmaking. The dog food scene may be the best in the entire film and gave me a good, deep belly laugh. It was a welcomed intentional laugh from a movie that plays itself almost deadpan serious throughout despite having some silly moments. The pizza party scene is also a fun gross out moment that should get a nice squirm and squeal from the audience who are viewing the film for the first time while veterans of the movie can smile on slyly because they know that ain't sausage.

OFFERINGS is a last gasp in the slasher genre, a breath that the genre couldn't draw deep enough from to revive itself but one that had some heart behind it even if it was just trying to copy what the bigger, deeper breaths that came before it did.

The Audio & Video
88 Films has created a new 2K restoration from the original 16mm negative and it looks solid overall. The 16mm photography limits just how sharp the picture can be but I think the transfer brings out quite a bit of detail that you certainly didn't see in the film's VHS releases where it gained a bit of video store infamy. Colors are vibrant and natural while skin tones are healthy and fleshy and black levels are deep with no compression or pixelation issues.

The Extras
Aside from a trailer for the film the lone special feature is an audio commentary track from The Hysteria Continues, a group of slasher lovers who have a popular podcast series on the genre. The track is lively but ultimately hit or miss in terms of content as most of the useful insight and information comes from one of them with the rest chiming in various opinions. They do seem genuinely excited to discuss the film which is nice but the free form conversation format isn't the best way to handle an audio commentary when the commentary team wasn't involved in making the film.

The Bottom Line
Slasher fans will finally have a chance to get their hands on OFFERINGS and it's presented quite nicely. This is how you'll want to see the film without a doubt.

OFFERINGS is available HERE

Blumhouse's Truth Or Dare Challenge & Giveaway

We're not playing the game, it's playing us!

A harmless game of "Truth or Dare" among friends turns deadly when someone--or something-- begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse the dare.
Blumhouse's Truth or Dare starring Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) opens in theaters Friday the 13th!

To celebrate the release of this terrifying new film we have a Truth Or Dare Blog Challenge App and Giveaway!

Play the game if you dare! Grab a friend and take the Truth or Dare Challenge to see who survives and then enter to win!

Play The Game Here

After you've played the game enter to win by following these easy steps:
1. Email me at - Include "Truth or Dare" in the subject line
2. Include your full address (US and Canada only!)
3. Tell me what is the ultimate truth or dare you'd never admit or do! 

Winner Picked on 4/20! 

Monday, April 2, 2018

SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Enzo G. Castellari
Written By: Tito Carpi, Enzo G. Castellari
Starring: Lou Ferrigno, John Steiner, Roland Wybenga
Color/93 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: February 6, 2018

The Film
A young prince recruits the aid of Sinbad and his shipmates which include a viking, and a samurai are recruited by Prince Ali to rescue the princess who has been kidnapped by the evil Jaffar in order to marry her. Jaffar also has magic gems that help generate his powers and has them spread across the land guarded by various evil creatures. After escaping Jaffar's torture chamber Sinbad and his crew set sail to gain control of the magic gems and strip Jaffar of his evil powers.

SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is as a bed time story being narrated by Daria Nicolodi who has constant voice overs describing the action we see on screen. It's clunky and even if the story would be  a bit bumpy and choppy without it, it's unnecessary. Luckily it doesn't matter because this is a whimsical romp into fantasyland. Lou Ferrigno has stated that this movies was one of his favorite movies to make and it shows every second he's on screen. You can tell he's having a blast as the legendary sailor and he's perfect for the role. Ferrigno is ripped, jacked and cut. He looks the part and while he's not going to win any awards for his acting abilities he's the perfect mound of muscle to cheer on as he fights demons, rock monsters and all of the other perils and pitfalls he encounters along the way. His sidekicks add a bit of fun as well with some sword play and martial arts action to mix things up a bit but Ferrigno really is the main course as Sinbad.

Enzo Castellari is known for successfully making films in whatever genre was trendy at the moment in Italy. Whether it be war and actioners or spaghetti westerns and even gialli, Castellari was able to craft really great, or at least very entertaining pictures in whatever genre gave him work. SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is more along the lines of the latter. It would be easy to rip this thing apart as much of the acting is stilted or totally overblown, the writing jumps from scene to scene with little flow and it claims to be based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Thousand And Second Tale Of Scheherazade" without resembling that story at all except maybe for a balloon scene. SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS simply asks for you to not expect too much except for fun. Castellari nailed the most integral thing in making this movie a success and that's sheer entertainment value. The action and fantasy in this movie are silly but pure at heart. I dare you to watch Sinbad pick up a demon creature and swing him around over his head knocking out several other demon creatures and not smile ear to ear. It is delightful and it's that childhood feeling I get while watching it that makes the bedtime story narrative angle passable even if it gets intrusive at times. SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is like gathering a few friends in the park or playground and each picking a different character to pretend to be and you battle for supremacy of the rope bridge and the twisty slide except it was done on sound stages and you weren't jacked like Lou Ferrigno when you were 7 years old playing on the jungle gym.

The Audio & Video
Kino Lorber brings SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS to Blu-ray for the first time with an anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks good though the master is obviously a bit older which leaves room for improvement. The film has a wide array of colors in its palette and they're bright and vivid and are my favorite aspect of the picture quality of this disc. Detail levels are adequate but even at their best during tight shots and close ups they still lack that really fine detail. Skin tones look healthy and natural and the clarity is pretty good with just a bit of speckling and light imperfections that are par for the course with many Kino titles. I'm not in love with the transfer but I am satisfied with it.

The audio quality features an English dub track in a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that sounds good. The dub track is typical for Italian productions of the period and make for a strong presence in the mix that is always front and center. The score comes through nicely though with the levels mixed well. The tracks is crisp and clear with little in the way of imperfections or background noise.

The Extras
A theatrical trailer makes up the entirety of the special features.

The Bottom Line
It doesn't take more than a glance at who directed this film and who stars in it to realize it's probably going to be an exercise in campy fantasy storytelling and it is, but in all the right ways. For all of its flaws SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is a light hearted adventure flick full of laughs and thrills and I'm a fan.