Wednesday, December 4, 2019

THE HOUSE - Artsploitation Films DVD Review


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

THE HOUSE is available HERE

Friday, November 22, 2019

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED is available HERE

Saturday, November 16, 2019

BERSERKER - Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

BERSERKER is available HERE

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CULT EPICS TO RELEASE EXTREMELY LIMITED DUTCH SEX WAVE COLLECTION

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






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

FULL INFORMATION AND PRE-ORDER NOW HERE

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

NEKROMANTIK BLU-RAY BUNDLE - OUT OF PRINT SOON!

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




Saturday, June 8, 2019

THE GRAND DUEL - Arrow Video Blu-ray Review



Italy/1972
Directed By: Giancarlo Santi
Written By: Ernesto Gastaldi
Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Alberto Dentice, Jess Hahn
Color/94 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
After previously working as Assistant Director to the incomparable Sergio Leone on the best films the genre has to offer Giancarlo Santi would get a chance to make his own western with a screenplay by the great Ernesto Gastaldi featuring Lee Van Cleef in a starring role as a sheriff named Clayton who is tailing an outlaw named Philip Wermeer (Alberto Dentice) who is on the run from a gang of bounty hunters after the $3,000 bounty on his head for the murder of the leader of Saxon City, a crime he may or may not have committed.

Giancarlo Santi wisely chose Lee Van Cleef to anchor his cast as he not only worked with him previously on the film's where he was the AD but Van Cleef is one of the absolute giants of the spaghetti western genre. He's a familiar face that could offer talent and marketability. As expected, Lee Van Cleef is rock solid in his stoic and calculated performance, providing a paternal role to Alberto (credited as Peter O'Brien) Dentice"s frantic performance that is reminiscent of a troubled teen on the run. The relationship and dynamic between these two characters is the foundation THE GRAND DUEL is based upon and a big part of the reason why the film works so well.

There's no shortage of action with exciting shootouts and gunplay and some cat and mouse games to boot all of which are accented by Luis Enriquez Bacalov's score. Bacalov may not have the name recognition of Ennio Morricone but he's no slouch, having won an Academy Award for his original score on Il Postino in 1996 and putting his musical flourishes on spaghetti western giants such as Django and A Bullet For The General. Bacalov's main theme for THE GRAND DUEL would later be used by Quentin Tarantino in 2003's Kill Bill. Santi adds his own flourishes with a series of flashback scenes shot in black and white that have a dreamlike quality to them. The rest of the film has a good look to it as Santi obviously picked up some tips and tricks from his years spent with Leone and while he may not be up to par with Leone he proved that he could make a really good western on his own.

THE GRAND DUEL has themes and ideas that can be traced back to many previous westerns, but by 1972 what spaghetti western couldn't? I'm not going to knock it for borrowing ideas and themes when it uses them productively and wisely to make a finished product that is engaging, exciting and just plain good. THE GRAND DUEL isn't a definitive entry into the genre but it almost acts as a melting pot of ingredients taken from those hallmark titles and talents involved to create something entirely worth seeking out.

The Audio & Video
Arrow Video has given THE GRAND DUEL a new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative which has given way to a fantastic presentation that easily trumps the film's previous Blu-ray release which featured a passable HD transfer. This new 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer boasts a properly hot and sweaty looking picture quality with strong colors and deep black levels. Detail is strong from the wood building construction to the dusty exteriors there's no missing finer details. There are a handful of flashback scenes filmed in black and white and they fare very well with a stark look and those deep black levels getting to show off properly. A few scenes are in a bit rougher shape and lead to a softer look and a shift in color tone. Thankfully these moments are minimal and don't take away from the otherwise beautiful presentation too much. This release offers uncompressed mono LPCM tracks in both English and Italian with newly translated subtitles. I went with the English track on my viewing through the film and I was very happy with how this disc sounded. The mix is stellar with a proper balance between the score and dialogue. The sound is crisp, extremely pleasing to the ear and free of any distortions or imperfections.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary by Stephen Prince
-"An Unconventional Western" - Interview with director Giancarlo Santi
-"The Last Of The Great Westerns" - Interview with writer Ernesto Gastaldi
-"Cowboy By Chance" - Interview with actor Alberto Dentice
-"Out Of The Box" - Interview with producer Ettore Rosbach
-"The Day Of The Big Showdown" - Interview with assistant director Harald Buggenig
-"Saxon City Showdown" - Featurette appreciating the film by Austin Fisher
-"Two Different Duels" - Comparison between the original version and an extended German cut
-"Marc Mazza: Who Was The Rider On The Rain" - A video essay about the actor by Mike Malloy
-Original Italian Trailer
-Original International Trailer
-Image Gallery
-Booklet

The Bottom Line
THE GRAND DUEL is a wildly exciting entry in to the spaghetti western genre and is appropriately represented with this outstanding release from Arrow Video. This release is packed, stacked and jacked and you should saddle up and add this to your collection ASAP.

THE GRAND DUEL is available HERE

Monday, May 27, 2019

MA Party Pack Contest Giveaway


Everybody’s welcome at Ma’s. But good luck getting home safe. 
Oscar® winner Octavia Spencer stars as Sue Ann, a loner who keeps to herself in her quiet Ohio town. One day, she is asked by Maggie, a new teenager in town (Diana Silvers, Glass), to buy some booze for her and her friends, and Sue Ann sees the chance to make some unsuspecting, if younger, friends of her own. 
She offers the kids the chance to avoid drinking and driving by hanging out in the basement of her home. But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober. Don’t curse. Never go upstairs. And call her “Ma.” 
But as Ma’s hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorizing nightmare, and Ma’s place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on earth. 
Ma also stars Juliette Lewis (August: Osage County) as Maggie’s mom, Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast) as a local dad, Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) as his girlfriend, and McKaley Miller (TV’s Hart of Dixie), Corey Fogelmanis (TV’s Girl Meets World), Gianni Paolo (TV’s Power) and Dante Brown (Lethal Weapon TV series) as Maggie’s friends. 
From Tate Taylor, the acclaimed director of The Help and Get On Up, and blockbuster producer Jason Blum (Get Out, Halloween, The Purge series) comes a thriller anchored by a daring and unexpected performance from Spencer, one of the most powerful actors of her generation. 

Ma is written by Scotty Landes (Comedy Central’s Workaholics), is produced by Blum for his Blumhouse Productions, by Taylor, and by John Norris (executive producer, Get On Up), and is executive produced by Spencer, Couper Samuelson, Jeanette Volturno, and Robin Fisichella. 
Find MA on Twitter @MAmovie

To Enter: Follow Celluloid Terror on Instagram (@celluloidterror) and find the MA party pack picture (same as the first image of this post) and comment with what drink you'd share with Ma or what party game you'd play with her. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

DARKROOM (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review)


USA/1989
Directed By: Terence O'Hara
Written By: Robert W. Fisher, Brian Herskowitz, Rick Pamplin
Starring: Aarin Teich, Jill Pierce, Jeff Arbaugh
Color/85 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
It's no secret that by 1989 the slasher genre was dying and the well of ideas was dried up. It seemed that anything coming out at this point was a tired and uninspired retread of movies from years prior so whenever I watch one of these end-of-the-line slashers I always hope there's something that will set it apart. When I saw that DARKROOM was produced by Nico Mastorakis I became a bit more intrigued. I haven't always loved Mastorakis' work but I tend to at least find it interesting. Then the opening credits hit and I saw the creativity and care they put in to the credits that maybe I was stumbling on to something different.


Nope. What a fake out those opening credits were. As soon as the stylish credits designed to look like photos being developed in a darkroom (see what they did there?) end we're introduced to Janet who is returning home to her family's farmhouse from college but the reunion is interrupted by a mystery killer who takes pictures of his victims before killing them. Family secrets are revealed as the bodies pile up and the reveal of the killer's identity takes some twists and turns before all is said and done.

DARKROOM's biggest asset is that it is a sharp looking film that looks like a class above most slasher films of this period and has some decent special effect and kill moments. Unfortunately the story is all too familiar territory. The attempts at red herrings to throw the audience off the trail of the killer are uninspired and comes off as convoluted. Performances are passable and the movie is entertaining enough to fill up its 85 runtime but there's simply nothing to set it apart from dozens of other body count films from the same year and I bet that in a couple of weeks everything about this movie will be a blur of slasher tropes that I won't be able to separate from the other movies it failed to set itself apart from. This is lazy rainy afternoon entertainment and nothing more unfortunately.


The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome has brilliantly restored DARKROOM with a new 4K scan from the original 35mm camera negative and this disc really looks exceptional. Colors are bright and vivid and skin tones are healthy with a natural fleshy look. Finer detail including surface textures and fabrics shine while black levels are deep and free of any issues with blocking or compression. A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix gives the audio a strong and well balanced mix across all channels. The sound is crisp and clear and free of any distortions or background noise.


The Extras
-"Developing Fear" - Interview with actor Aaron Teich
-"Exposing The Truth" - Interview with actor Jeff Arbaugh
-Original Trailer
-Still Gallery


The Bottom Line
DARKROOM is a mixed bag that is a product of the end of the slasher genre that had mostly dried up by the time it was made. Slasher maniacs take note but don't expect a long lost classic of the genre.

DARKROOM is available HERE

Saturday, May 4, 2019

FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review)



USA/1973
Directed By: Andy Milligan
Written By: Andy Milligan
Starring: Laura Cannon, Harry Reems, Neil Flanagan
Color/87 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film 
Andy Milligan is a polarizing director in cult film history. Some viewers really eat up his stuff but I've found the majority find most of his films to be exhausting exercises in futility. I've seen enough to know that I pretty actively stay away from anything with his name on it but sometimes a movie comes around and totally surprises you. FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is one of those movies.

Andy Milligan wrote, directed and photographed this film that follows a smart young prostitute named Dusty who turns tricks to make ends meet but longs for more out of her life and ends up meeting a young lawyer named Bob who she falls in love with and may be her escape from a gritty life in downtown New York City if she can manage to rewrite her own existence.


FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is a sexploitation film that borders on being a masterpiece of life and destiny. Laura Cannon is flawless as Dusty, playing a character much wiser and more experienced than her 20 years on Earth would suggest. She's been through a marriage and now struggles to find a constant place to stay and spends time with her best friend, a local drag queen. The film excels because it feels effortless in all aspects. Scenes never feel set up, the performances never feel stilted and Andy Milligan's direction and cinematography feel more like a documentary than a narrative film.

A common complaint of Andy Milligan's films is that they drag on and on and he spends entirely too much time in exposition to the point that you may as well be getting hit over the head with a hammer as he screams at you about the movie. It's downright exhausting and tedious. FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET couldn't be further from that as these characters just suck you in and the 87 minutes absolutely flies by. Milligan could have wrote a more convoluted script but he keeps it simple but effective and personal and that's why this film works. Of course the plentiful sex and skin are nice and will be the thing that draw most of the audience in, it will be the characters and the simplistic perfection of the storytelling that they'll remember.


The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome have given FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET a brand new 4K scan and restoration from the 16mm camera reversal for this Blu-ray release with a pair of viewing options; the original 1.33:1 full frame presentation and the 1.85:1 theatrical framing. I chose to go with the director's intended look and went with the full frame presentation and couldn't ask for anything better with how this one turned out. This is an obviously low budget piece of exploitation from the early 70s that didn't have ideal filming conditions as it was largely shot on the streets of New York City so at times the film is dark or lighting isn't the best. These scenes still look quite nice on this disc with a natural and healthy grain appearance, deep black levels, and natural skin tones. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono and sounds crisp, and balanced with no hissing, buzzing, or other background noise issues.


The Extras
-Audio Commentary with film historians Samm Deighan, Heather Drain, and Kat Ellinger
-Locations "Then and Now" Comparison


The Bottom Line
FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is without a doubt my favorite Andy Milligan film and is something I can see myself revisiting frequently and it has been preserved for generations to come with this essential Vinegar Syndrome release.

FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is available HERE


Friday, April 26, 2019

KISS OF THE TARANTULA (VCI Entertainment Blu-ray Review)


USA/1976
Directed By: Chris Unger
Written By: Warren Hamilton Jr., Daniel Cady
Starring: Suzanna Ling, Ernesto Macias, Herman Wallner
Color/85 Minutes/PG
Region A
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
Susan is a lonely girl living with her parents in their mortuary and typically only spending time with the spiders she keeps as pets in the basement. When she learns of her mother's wicked plan to murder her father she unleashes one of her deadliest pets, a tarantula on her mother with deadly results. Now in her teens and bonded to the spiders stronger than ever Susan and her pets make a deadly duo for anyone that thinks they can walk all over her.


KISS OF THE TARANTULA is a play on Willard but exchanging a young man for a girl and his pet rat for some red-kneed Tarantulas. The film does a good job showing the affection Susan has for the arachnids early on and tries its best to make them as terrifying to watch as they slowly plod along the chests, shoulders and faces of their victims without any sort of graphic violence. The film earns every bit of its PG rating, never showing blood or nudity, quite a rarity for a drive-in horror picture of the mid 1970s. It never tries to imitate those moments and cheat us out of the payoff however so I do give it credit for that. It seems most of Susan's victims die simply of fright. That doesn't account for the incestuous uncle subplot that makes the whole thing weird and wacky for any 70s triple bill.


I've been a fan of KISS OF THE TARANTULA for years as I've found the connection between Susan and the spiders to be a suitable vehicle for the film and enjoy watching her tormentors who tease her, break in to her family's home to steal caskets as a prank and even end up killing the only person her own age who treats her with respect, squirm, squeal and cry as the spiders plod along towards them, on them and over them until it is all just too much. Of course I do wish the film took a more traditional exploitative approach and offered up something a bit more violent and nastier, it would have definitely helped the film's reputation and given it a bigger fan base but there's worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon than alone with Susan and her eight-legged friends in the basement. She really should meet Willard one day... a match made in pest heaven.

The Audio & Video
VCI Entertainment gives KISS OF THE TARANTULA a Blu-ray for the first time after previously releasing the film on DVD. The back of the Blu-ray boasts that it has been restored and remastered in a 2K scan fro the original 35mm negative and I believe that as the picture does have a decent sharpness to it that gives way to moderately improved detail level. There is a yellowish tint over the picture that I don't remember from watching previously released version of the film. It isn't too bothersome but worth noting. The 1.85:1 aspect ratio does preserve the film's original aspect ratio. The audio is presented in a LPCM 2.0 English track and sounds good. I didn't notice any background noise, hissing, popping or other imperfections. The mix is simplistic but adequate to the film.


The Extras
Bare bones.


The Bottom Line
I recommend it for fans of drive-in era horror looking for something lighter and silly but still schlocky

KISS OF THE TARANTULA is available HERE

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

FULL MOON FEATURES TAKES ON BOLD VENTURE
IN INTERACTIVE FEATURE FILMMAKING WITH
“DEADLY TEN”

Live-Streamed Production of Ten Original Full Moon Feature Films


HOLLYWOOD, April 19, 2019 – DEADLY TEN is an immersive cinematic initiative that will see Full Moon Features boldly producing a series of ten original genre films, live-streamed in front of fans. These ten films will include sequels of beloved Full Moon franchises, a spin on classic cult favorites, and daring soon-to-be essential genre films.  Principal photography will begin shooting in June 2019 and continue throughout the year in Europe and North America.  Release for the DEADLY TEN is slated for Spring 2020, and will premiere exclusively on Full Moon's Amazon Prime Channel.

In an unprecedented move, Full Moon will be giving fans an all access pass to this unique production by providing an inside peek into the magic of genre filmmaking.  Fans will be able to log into the DEADLY TEN website (www.DeadlyTen.com) and watch the current motion picture being shot in real time. Live feeds, exclusive on-set interviews, special effects secrets, pre-and post-production videos, interactive director's blogs and more.  Through this immersive experience, cineastes and budding young filmmakers can delve deep into mechanics of the movies and learn first-hand all about the joys, struggles, creativity, and hard work that goes into making a fully produced, independent feature film.

"This is one of the most exciting Full Moon production initiatives since our '90s video store heyday," says Full Moon founder and cult movie legend Charles Band.  "It's ambitious, high concept, a bit insane and there's never been another interactive filmmaking concept quite like this. As Full Moon thrives in the new terrain of streaming and takes viewers to places not many have gone before, we hope fans will love being a part of our new adventure!"

The DEADLY TEN film slate will include:
BLADE: THE IRON CROSS (Dir:John Lechago)
BRIDE OF THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY (Dir: Charles Band)
NECROPOLIS: LEGION (Dir: Chris Alexander)
SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA 2 (Dir: David De Coteau, Brinke Stevens)
BLOOD RISE: SUBSPECIES V (Dir: Ted Nicolaou)
HALLOWEED NIGHT (Dir: Danny Draven)
THE HOURGLASS (Dir: Ryan Brookhart)
FEMALIEN: COSMIC CRUSH (Dir: Lindsey Schmitz)
THE SHADOWHEART CURSE (Dir: Charles Band)
THE GRIM RAPPER (Dir: Billy Butler)


ABOUT FULL MOON FEATURES
Founded in 1989 by iconic independent film producer and director Charles Band, Full Moon is the successor to Band's groundbreaking Empire Pictures Studio from the 1980's. With Empire, Band created now-classic horror films like RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND and GHOULIES.  Band’s films helped launch the career of many of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Demi Moore (PARASITE), Helen Hunt (TRANCERS), and Viggo Mortensen (PRISON), to name a few.  With Full Moon, Band has produced over 150 films, including the PUPPET MASTER franchise, SUBSPECIES, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, CASTLE FREAK, DOLLMAN, DEMONIC TOYS, PREHYSTERIA!, EVIL BONG and many more. As well as feature films, Full Moon produces original series, toys, collectibles, merchandise, comic books and publishes the popular horror film magazin
e DELIRIUM.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

HAGAZUSSA (Doppleganger Films Blu-ray Review)


Germany, Austria/2017
Directed By: Lukas Feigelfeld
Written By: Lukas Feigelfeld
Starring: Aleksandra Cwen, Celina Peter, Claudia Martini
Color/100 Minutes/
Region A
Release Date: April 23, 2019

The Film
The film's subtitle "A Heathen's Curse" sums up HAGAZUSSA quite well as we follow a young woman in the 15th century Austrian Alps who has had grown up with darkness surrounding her. Now she lives alone with her baby in a small hut and begins to be tempted by the dark magic that has spread fear and paranoia across the landscape for ages.

HAGAZUSSA comes from German director Luka Feigelfeld who creates a deliberately paced, slow burn atmosphere piece that some might find to be detached but I think almost every scene is delivered with purpose even when it seems nothing of note is happening, it's all calculated. The photography in HAGAZUSSA is largely composed of static shots that somehow perfectly capture the majesty, seclusion and power of the Austrian Alps setting, almost managing to turn the setting into a character itself which can become overbearing on its inhabitants, especially our lead Albrun (played wonderfully by Aleksandra Cwen).


There will undoubtedly be comparisons drawn to Robert Eggers' 2015 film The Witch which featured a similar story set in 17th century New England along with a similar slow burn pace and priority on atmosphere and mood with a well thought out set of more intense visuals to add a powerful punch. Those comparisons are completely warranted but make no mistake, HAGAZUSSA is not a cheap ripoff. Lukas Heigelfeld spent too much time crafting a beautiful production, filled with Oscar worthy art direction and a droning score that creeps into you deeper and deeper as the film moves along to call this a ripoff. The film also served as Heigelfeld's final work for film school and if he was interested in ripping off an already popular story he could have picked something that would have been easier to pull off than a very deliberately paced period pace set in the Austrian alps.

I feel that HAGAZUSSA is a couple key iconic scenes away from being in that true upper echelon of modern horror masterpieces but it is a textbook example of minimalistic horror how to build tension over a long period of time and slowly descend a character into madness. I hope to see more from Lukas Heigelfeld very soon.

The Audio  Video
Doppleganger Releasing gives HAGAZUSSA a home on Blu-ray in the US with a beautiful release featuring a 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio which retains the films original aspect ratio. The picture quality is tested from one end of the spectrum to the other and always comes out looking strong. The black levels are very deep and free of any crush or blocking while the bright whites of the snow covered alps are properly dazzling but never begin to burn too hot. The lush mountainside forests and cabin settings all look incredible, showing very fine and subtle details in textures and surfaces, especially in interior settings. Audibly, the film is presented in the film's native German language with optional English subtitles in a subtly robust 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio mix that may not immediately blow but once you realize just how many many layers there are to the sound mix in this and how it penetrates you from all angles in an under-the-radar fashion I realized how great the audio on this disc is. The subtitles are timed and translasted perfectly as well.



The Extras
-Director's Commentar on Selected Scenes
-Deleted Scene with optional Director's Commentary
-"Interferenz" - A short film by Lukas Heigelfeld
-Music Video by MMMD


The Bottom Line
HAGAZUSSA is destined to divide audiences but those who enjoy art house horror and atmosphere over jump scares will find a slice of Euro horror excellence.

HAGAZUSSA is available HERE

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Leprechaun Returns Coming To Blu-ray From Lionsgate This June



Street Date: 6/11/19

Blu-ray™ SRP: $14.99

DVD SRP: $14.98


PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
Be careful what you wish for when Leprechaun Returns arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital) and DVD June 11 from Lionsgate. This film is currently available on Digital and On Demand. The devious and deadly wisecracking Leprechaun that we all know (and love to hate) returns to reclaim his pot of gold from a sorority house property…all while gleefully going on a Leprechaun-style killing spree. Leprechaun Returns stars Linden Porco as The Leprechaun with his signature hat and shiny shoes, Taylor Spreitler, and Mark Holton, who returns to the series for the first time since the original 1993 film. TheLeprechaun Returns Blu-ray and DVD will include a making-of featurette, behind-the-scenes footage, and still gallery, and will be available for the suggested retail price of $14.99 and $14.98, respectively.

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
The deadly, wisecracking Leprechaun is back in all his gory glory. When the sorority sisters of the Alpha Upsilon house decide to go green and use an old well as their water source, they unwittingly awaken a pint-sized, green-clad monster. The Leprechaun wants a pot of gold buried near the sorority house, but first he must recover his powers with a killing spree—and only the girls of AU can stop him.

BLU-RAY / DVD / DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
  • “Going Green with Director Steven Kostanski” Featurette
  • Leprechaun Returns Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • Still Gallery 

CAST
Taylor Spreitler           TV’s “Days of Our Lives,” Girl on the EdgeThe Contractor
Pepi Sonuga               TV’s “Famous in Love,” TV’s “Ash vs Evil Dead,” TV’s “The Fosters”
Sai Bennett                 TV’s “Mr. Selfridge,” Trapped, TV’s “Knightfall”
Emily Reid                   End of Term, TV’s “Curfew,” Aquilo
Ben McGregor            The Machine, TV’s “Fresh Meat,” TV’s “The Passing Bells”
Linden Porco               LittlemanA Very Larry Christmas, TV’s “Channel Zero”
Mark Holton                LeprechaunPee-wee’s Big AdventureA League of Their Own

PROGRAM INFORMATION
Year of Production: 2018
Title Copyright: © 2018 Leprechaun Returns. All Rights Reserved.
Type: Digital Premiere
Rating: R for horror violence/gore and some sexual references.
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Comedy
Closed-Captioned: N/A
Subtitles: English, Spanish, English SDH
Feature Run Time: 93 Minutes
Blu-ray Format: 1080p High Definition, 16x9 (1.78:1) Presentation
DVD Format: 16x9 (1.78:1) Presentation
Blu-ray Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio™
DVD Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio


Thursday, March 28, 2019

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT (Blu-ray Review)


USA/2018
Directed By: Robert D. Krykowski
Written By: Robert D. Krykowski
Starring: Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Caitlin Fitzgerald
Color/97 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: April 2, 2019

The Film
Sam Elliott stars as Calvin Barr, a retired solider who was tasked with the top secret mission of assassinating Adolf Hitler. Though his mission was successful the war carried on with imposters in place of Hitler and Barr would live with the baggage of murdering a man. Now decades later the government has tracked him down again to kill the mythological Bigfoot who is responsible for spreading a deadly contagion.

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT has a title that immediately caught my attention. My imagination ran wild with the potential madness and excitement that such a movie with such a title could contain. Admittedly I didn't think the trailer was anything special and it didn't really get me excited to see the full film but the title and Sam Elliott in the starring role still had me curious about the whole thing.

I'll start with what I liked about the film and first and foremost that is Sam Elliott who totally owns the screen with his strong yet vulnerable performance. A big part of Elliott's character makeup in this film is loneliness as he apparently had found the love of his life early on but the war kept them apart and he never really was the same or loved again. Even his relationship with his brother who is his barber was distant. This would come in to play years later after his encounter with the Bigfoot (who is apparently misnamed) and realizing it is also a lonesome creature, but his mission is his mission. The writing for Elliott's character is somewhat messy in that regard because it really doesn't make much of a difference but Elliott gives it all he's got and he really is fantastic delivering all aspects of his character. I also liked the direction and thought many of the scenes were well executed and put together nicely, especially the Hitler assassination sequence. The cinematography was also nice at times but then there were moments where it was so dark that I couldn't see what was going on at all.

Then there's the things I didn't care for, a couple of which I briefly touched on already such as poor lighting during certain scenes and the character of Calvin Barr's having blurry motivations which I could deal with but the main thing about this movie I couldn't get over is that it's an utter bore. The most exciting scenes are here and gone in a flash after feeling like it taking forever to get to amid the filler. Even during what should have been the highlight scene of the movie, the Bigfoot encounter, the scene that I feel the title of the movie builds up to, goes over like a wet fart when the Bigfoot ends up being about five feet tall and resembling a young Wookiee from the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Upon finishing the movie I sat wondering exactly what I was going to say in this review because I had such a little reaction to the whole thing other than boredom and wondering exactly what the point was. I still wonder what the point was because it doesn't work as a character piece that it seems like they were going for and it definitely fails as anything more exciting than that. Somehow I still didn't hate the movie, Sam Elliott saves it from being a miserable experience as I was happy to follow him on his journey but I wish the journey was a more riveting one. Ultimately I'd be happy to sit through a celebration of Life Day on Kashyyyk than I would to revisit this one.

The Audio & Video
RLJE Films releases THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT on Blu-ray with a very nice looking anamorphic widescreen 2.40:1 transfer. The picture is sharp and has great detail depth. Black levels are deep while colors have a bit of a overcast muted look to them, which is an artistic choice as the whole film looks this way. A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix handles the audio giving body and power to the sound. The mix job is excellent, and dialogue and music are crisp and free of any distortions or imperfections.

The Extras
-The Making Of THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT
-Audio Commentary With Director Robert D. Krykowski
-Interview With Composer Joe Kraemer
-Deleted Scenes
-"Elsie Hooper" Short Film
-Concept Art Gallery

The Bottom Line
I don't know what to say about this film. I really don't. It's well made but seemed to be lost and satisfied with wandering around it its own meandering path to a conclusion of "what was the point?". If you're curious about the film I would suggest giving it a look because it's very possible you'll get something more out of it than I did but if the trailers didn't do much for you I'd say you're probably not going to get anything out of the actual film.

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is available HERE

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

PREYHSTERIA! (Blu-ray Review - Full Moon)


USA/1993
Directed By: Charles Band, Albert Band
Written By: Michael Davis
Starring: Austin O'Brien, Brett Cullen, Colleen Morris
Color/83 Minutes/PG
Region Free
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
Rico Sarno is a crooked collector and dealer of antiques and finds a stash of unhatched dinosaur eggs in a South American temple. He brings them back but mixes up the cooler he's keeping them in with that of frequent customer Frank Taylor (Brett Cullen). Frank's kids discover the mix up and take care of the hatchlings after the family dog incubates the eggs and try to keep their discovery a secret but Rico and his henchman turn the Taylor's life upside down and put their lives in jeopardy to get his dinosaurs back.


PREHYSTERIA! is a video store era family classic that cashed in on the building buzz surrounding the release of Jurassic Park very similarly to how production companies like The Asylum operate today. Instead of trying for a mock blockbuster Charles Band, ever the businessman, went in the direction of a children's adventure movie keeping costs low. Austin O'Brien stars as Jerry Taylor, and he's a face that you certainly recognize as he was a go-to child lead in that era having also starred in Last Action Hero and My Girl 2. He's a good lead that any kid can connect with as he rips on his older, cooler sister played by Samantha Mills in what seems to be her final screen acting credit. The siblings end up bonding over their little baby dinos including T-Rex, Triceratops, and "the flying one" among others.

I remember PREHYSTERIA! fondly, it's one of the earliest introductions to Full Moon and their children's imprint Moonbeam Films that I have and it was definitely a favorite that you'll find people in their late 20s to mid 30s remembering renting at the video store even if they grew up to have no interest in Charles Band or cult film at all. That's the type of power and pull a lot of the Moonbeam titles had over kids looking up at the seemingly endless rows of tapes for rent. My excitement dwindled and dwindled as I rewatched the movie however. It became pretty clear that PREHYSTERIA! might not be the rip-roaring prehistoric adventure I remember and by the end I was honestly surprised by just how little there is going on in the movie. There's a couple wacky scenes of dino shenanigans and one scene of the family really being attacked by Rico but this plays more like a two-part TV episode than a feature film and even at that I'm not sure I would have tuned back in after the "to be continued" screen flashed at the end of part one. Some dinosaur eggs are better left buried in the past and it pains me to say that PREHYSTERIA! is one of them.


The Audio & Video
Full Moon finally brings their children's label Moonbeam Films fan favorite to Blu-ray with a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks solid overall with good colors and clean, warm transfer. The high definition transfer has been remastered from the original 35mm negative but at times lack truly excellent detail depth. The audio is presented with two options, a 5.1 surround track and a 2.0 digital stereo track. There's not much going on in the movie in terms of exciting or flashy sound design or effects so either track really does the movie justice. The quality is solid, free of any distracting distortions or background noise.


The Extras
Special features include a commentary track by star Austin O'Brien and director Charles Band and the original Videozone featurette.


The Bottom Line
PREHYSTERIA! has received a suitable Blu-ray release to give all of us that remember the film from its video store days a trip down memory lane but unfortunately once the nostalgia wears off you'll find out that there's really not much going on in PREHYSTERIA! and it's better left as a childhood memory.

PREHYSTERIA! is available HERE

Friday, March 8, 2019

PARTY LINE (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review)


USA/1988
Directed By: William Webb
Written By: Richard Brandes, Tom Byrnes
Starring: Richard Hatch, Richard Roundtree, Leif Garrett
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: February 26, 2019

The Film
Seth and Angelina are brother and sister who have a bad habit of sitting around their dad's mansion and using the telephone "party line" to lure horny strangers into a sex party that ends with Seth using a razor blade to kill them. As the bodies pile up Detective Dan breaks from "by the book" way of doing things to try and find the killers before anymore party line callers fall victim to their sick games!

PARTY LINE is a mash up of slasher film, crime thriller and late 80s Skinemax erotic feature but doesn't really excel at any one of those genres let alone cramming them together. It's middles around sort of blending the different styles but ends up just feeling messy throughout. There's misplaced humor involving a subplot with underage girls that never works for me but ends up playing fairly large role in the film. The acting including Leif Garrett as Seth, Richard Hatch as the detective and a supporting role from Richard Roundtree is pretty decent and the movie looks good, using a handful of memorable and very eye catching locations. PARTY LINE undoubtedly had more production value than similar erotic films that would make the late night subscription cable channels famous.


I can't say I wasn't entertained by PARTY LINE because I was but I think it was a missed opportunity at being something better. And it could have been anything better. Had it picked one of the many directions it splintered off in and focused on it then we could have had a winner with PARTY LINE.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome delivers PARTY LINE on Blu-ray with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from a brand new 4K scan and restoration from the original 35mm camera negative and looks excellent. The picture quality is quite nice with beautifully rendered skin tones that show no sign of waxiness and great detail level in all of the wonderful 80s clothing and textures. Colors are vibrant and lively without being artificially pumped up. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix that sounds decent. The track is clear with a nice mix between dialogue and score and the sound effects give enough punch despite lacking true power. There's a very small amount of noticeable pops but otherwise not much in the way of distortions.


The Extras
Aside from the original theatrical trailer the lone special feature is an interview with the screenwriter Richard Brandes entitled "Party Line Fever" and runs around 16 minutes.


The Bottom Line
I'm lukewarm on PARTY LINE but I think the transfer is nice and there's enough in the movie to warrant a mild recommendation.

PARTY LINE is available HERE