Thursday, May 17, 2018

THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (VCI Blu-ray Review)


Phillippines, USA/1972
Directed By: Eddie Romero
Written By: Jerome Small, Eddie Romero
Starring: John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin
Color/81 Minutes/PG
Region Free
Release Date: March 13, 2018

The Film
The Island Of Dr. Moreau had been adapted a number of times before Filipino film royalty Eddie Romero tried his hand in 1972 and while it may not be most polished adaptation I've ever seen it definitely leaves its mark as a worthwhile entry into the lure of Dr. Moreau.

John Ashley stars as Matt Farrell, a man who is kidnapped by Neva while diving and taken to the island compound of her father Dr. Gordon who is experimenting in creating a master race by combining human and animal genetics. Neva has problems with some of her father's methods and after a failed experiment she begins to fall in love with Matt and frees him and the other animal people which leads to Dr. Gordon and his security to hunting them through the island forest.

THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE is pretty evenly broken up in to two halves, the laboratory and the jungle hunt. The first half offers a bit of science fiction and mad scientist type fun but the second half of the film is really where the movie picks up the pace and becomes a minor cult classic. The animal people get more of the spotlight in the second half as they're lead through the wilderness by Neva and have to fight for survival while being hunted and also fight their own animal instincts to not hurt each other or Matt and Neva. The first half of the movie is slow and really could use a bit more action. It's very talky and boring in stretches. I think the movie could have been a true cult classic had the movie been more evenly distributed and not so loaded in the back end.

The film is solid even with sluggish pacing which is no surprise with Eddie Romero directing as even when the movies were cheap (and they usually were) he made entertaining genre films. The special effects makeup are one of the highlights of film seeing all of the various human-animal hybrids and getting to see Pam Grier as the Panther Woman was a nice treat. THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE is flawed but fun, and at only 81 minutes once you really settle in you're just about to the best parts anyways so sit back and enjoy the Moreau madness.

The Audio & Video
VCI delivers THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE to Blu-ray with a new 2K restoration that has its ups and downs. Detail can be quite good with excellent clarity and definition in skin lines, hair and other textures. Coloring has a wide range from naturally lush and vivid to a bit washed out and at times having a strong yellow hue over the picture. More often than not the color is decent though. There are some scratches and speckling and various imperfections that keep the film from looking amazing but for a film such as THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE I think the good outweighs the bad and the imperfections didn't hamper my enjoyment of watching the movie. The audio on the disc is presented in a mono PCM track that sounds good for a simple mix. The audio never becomes distorted or unpleasant to listen to while the levels are mixed well between the music and dialogue.

The Extras
The big extra is an interview with Eddie Romero that runs nearly an hour long. This is a priceless clip for exploitation fans filled with all sorts of great stories and recollections from the king of Filipino exploitation. This addition to the disc makes it a must own for anyone that is interested in filmmaking history.

Also included is an audio commentary track with film historian David Del Valle and filmmaker David DeCouteau along with TV spots and a theatrical trailer.

The Bottom Line
TWILIGHT PEOPLE is an entertaining jungle romp that stands tall in a sea of adaptations of The Island Of Dr. Moreau.

THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE is available HERE

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)



UK/1971
Directed By: Peter Duffell
Written By: Robert Bloch
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt
Color/102 Minutes/PG
Region Free
Release Date: May 8, 2018

THE FILM
Ahh Amicus Productions, because Hammer wasn't enough we were blessed with Amicus who, if Hammer was the star of the show, Amicus would be his leading lady. Amicus may not have been quite as good or renowned as Hammer but they were and still are a beloved part of horror history and put out some great films including plenty with Hammer's own poster boys Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Not the least of which was 1971's THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, an anthology film from writer Robert Bloch (Psycho, Torture Garden) and directed by Peter Duffell who spent most of his directorial career making TV shows which may have lended a hand to the success of this anthology film that features a handful of short stories revolving around a sinister home whose tenants fate's usually end in misery.

In the film's wraparound segment John Bryan portrays A.J. Stoker, a real estate agent who has been contacted by Scotland Yard after a the house's most recent tenant, a famous actor, has mysteriously disappeared and he tells the detective of the sinister history surrounding the house which leads to four tales adapted from short stories that had previously been published in magazines such as Weird Tales and Unknown dating back as early as 1939. The stories feature Peter Cushing in a story of a macabre waxwork museum that features the statue of a woman he once knew and Christopher Lee as the single father of a young daughter that may not be the sweet innocent child she seems to be. The other stories include a tale of murder and betrayal when a writer and his wife move into the home only for the man to be tormented by a character he wrote in his new story and a famous horror movie actor that may turn in to a real vampire when he dons his newly acquired antique cape only for his co-star (played by the legendary Ingrid Pitt) to discover. As the film's tagline states, "Terror waits for you in every room in THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD!"

Funnily enough there's not a single drop of blood in the film. The film's PG rating is quite appropriate as it doesn't rely on blood or sex to sell the picture. It takes a capable cast a few tried and true stories and turns it into an entertaining anthology film perfect for a Saturday afternoon. THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD doesn't feature the most original story but it's put together competently and produced with the sort of familiar and comforting form that fans of gothic horror and Amicus specifically can curl up with on the couch and enjoy. THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is campy at times and creepy in others the perfect balance that will allow long time fans to enjoy time and time again while also being a good stepping stone for younger fans to dip their toes into more serious horror fare that doesn't get to explicit with nudity or violence. Don't let that fool you or turn you off if you haven't seen the film before because I equate THE HOUSE THE DRIPPED BLOOD to a bowl of macaroni and cheese; it's not the newest or most exciting creation but it's something that you keep coming back to over and over again year after year and it's perfect to share with someone.

That's the perfect analogy I think. When you get tired of the big, loud and typically dumb new creations at the latest hipster filled gastropub THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is a bowl of mac and cheese, it brings you back to your roots.

THE AUDIO & VIDEO
Scream Factory has finally given us the long overdue Blu-ray debut of THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD and while they don't give any insight into the transfer work done to the film it looks excellent and seems to be a pretty recent master and not one that is a decade old. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer features a warm filmic look with excellent detail and color reproduction which are vivid and lively. Black levels are deep and inky with no signs of compression or blocking. Skin tones are natural and healthy with no waxiness. There's no signs of edge enhancement or excessive DNR. The English audio is presented in a DTS-HD mono mix and sounds magnificent. The quality is pleasing the to the ear with no distortions or background noise and the mix is perfect with steady levels and no fluctuations in volume that will have you trying to find the remote over and over.

THE EXTRAS
-New audio commentary with author Troy Howarth
-Audio commentary with director Peter Duffell
-New interview with Second Assistant Director Mike Higgins
-"A-Rated Horror Film" - Featurette with interviews with director Peter Duffell and actors Geoffrey Bayldon, Ingrid Pitt and Chloe Franks
-Theatrical Trailers
-Radio Spots
-Still Gallery

THE BOTTOM LINE
THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is a classic of Amicus and I'm thrilled to finally have this chiller on Blu-ray and in such a nice edition. Highly recommended!

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is available HERE

Thursday, May 3, 2018

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)


Italy/1982
Directed By: Bruno Mattei
Written By: Ambrogio Malteni, Claudio Fragasso
Starring: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Maria Romano
Color/99 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: May 8, 2018

The Film
I love women-in-prison films and I love the Emanuelle films. Laura Gemser is a goddess and a legend of exploitation film. Add in that Bruno Mattei signature flair for trash and we have a winner.

Larua Gemser stars yet again as Emanuelle, a character she would portray well over a dozen times either officially or unofficially in her career, a reporter who has taken it upon herself to get the inside scoop on a prison notorious for abuse, torture and corruption but quickly becomes subjected to the sexual and physical abuses. After a nasty encounter with a horde of rats while in solitary confinement Emanuelle and the prison's doctor (Gabriele Tinti) begin to fall for each other with each confiding in the other. We learn that the doctor has been forced to work at the prison as a result of being convicted for murdering his wife when he euthanized her to end her suffering from cancer. The duo make a pact  to escape and expose the prison for all of its wrongdoings but the head warden (Lorraine De Salle) has no plans to let that happen.


Bruno Mattei has made some of the sleaziest and cheesiest exploitation and horror films to ever come out of Italy but there's nothing cheesy about VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON. The film does feature some properly placed and timed comedy but it's very lightly sprinkled in on an otherwise cold and extremely unwelcoming stint in prison hell. From the sexual degradation to rape and big, biting rats this prison offers nothing in the way of fun, not even for a gay man in the men's section of the facility. This character offers up something a bit unexpected and definitely a character to sympathize with but his character's full circle is an interesting one as he is usually victimized by meaner and badder men but when the men turn their attention to a woman putting on a show for them from her cell's window he takes offense and is upset that he's no longer the center of their attention. This turns into a cruel beating before the guards break it up. This character shows the darkest side of prison but how it can be personally rationalized as a yearning for attention and companionship in even the most despicable conditions.

The cast of the film is quite good on the whole. Gemser and Tinti turn in their typically solid performance and their real life relationship translates into easy and organic chemistry on screen. They're a duo the audience will genuinely care about and cheer for against the nasty warden, who is brilliantly portrayed by Lorraine De Salle as a true bitch who uses her power for her own gain including drugs and pleasures of the flesh. It's not an easy road to complete with torture and death around every corner and seeing the lovely Laura Gemser covered in nasty rat bites is heart breaking and makes me want to stomp out every dirty sewer rat I ever come across just in case their uncle or cousin was one of the little fuckers that caused such pain and sickness on her but getting to the end proves to be not only entertaining but altogether satisfying.


VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is packed with corruption, rape, lesbianism, violence and plain old sleaze. Bruno Mattei was at the top of his game with this one and created one of my favorite  women-in-prison films.


The Audio & Video
Severin Films has restored VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON with a new 2K scan from the original interpositive with great results. The Blu-ray has great overall clarity and definition despite some light scratches and speckling. The colors are true to life and vivid when they should be and skin tones are natural and fleshy with no signs of waxiness or excessive DNR. Black levels are properly deep and free of compression or blocking issues. This movie has definitely never looked better on home video.



The film's audio is presented in an English HD mono track that has a bit of background noise but never gets distracting or annoying and otherwise sounds crisp and mixed perfectly so that the dialogue and music compliment each other.

PLEASE NOTE: The screenshots included in this review DO NOT represent the Blu-ray quality and are included only for reference.

The Extras
-"Brawl In Women's Block" - Interview with Co-writers Claudio Fragasso and Rosella Drudi - This half hour interview with the duo covers everything from their rather hilarious meeting at a cinema club to their marriage and time spent working on this film and others including plenty of work with Bruno Mattie. It's a lively, funny and really informative interview giving good background insight into not only this film but their careers and time in the Italian film industry as a whole.



The Bottom Line
You want the bottom line? VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is one of the nastiest and most entertaining women-in-prison films around and this release is fucking awesome. That's the bottom line.

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is available HERE