Tuesday, June 26, 2012

RED SCORPION (Blu-Ray Disc Review)

Directed By: Joseph Zito
Written By: Robert Abramoff, Jack Abramoff, Arne Olsen
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, M. Emmet Walsh, Al White, T. P. McKenna
Color/106 Minutes/Not Rated

The Film
Director Joseph Zito may be best known to fans as the director of cult slasher favorites The Prowler (1981) and 1984's Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter. After those films Zito transitioned into action flicks starting with Missing In Action, starring Chuck Norris of course. Five years later, just as the Cold War was in it's waning years, RED SCORPION was made, directed by Zito, and serves as an appropriate end to the entertainment side of the decades long turmoil.

Dolph Lundgren stars as Spetsnaz agent Nikolai Rachenko, the "Killing Machine" who is sent on a mission to Africa to help quiet the anti-communist rebel movement by assassinating the movement's leader. After drunkenly shooting up the bar and fighting some of his comrades Rachenko is thrown in the jail for the night where he learns of the true Soviet intentions. While still carrying out his orders, Rachenko flees with an American reporter and a rebel fighter as they all search for their own individual freedom.

When the mission is failed, Rachenko is locked up in a soviet prison and tortured by Russians and Cubans alike until he proves that he "is still Spetsnaz" and breaks out. After spending days on the run in hot African desert he is brought in by a Bushman and his people. After learning their ways he is awarded a ceremonial scar tattoo and it becomes clear what Rachenko must do in order to right the wrongs his country forced him to do.

RED SCORPION, on the surface, is another loud, obnoxious, 80s popcorn action flick but Joseph Zito lends enough talent behind the lens to blend in some light humor, and heartfelt sense of humanity to really make this a picture that can stand apart from anything loud and obnoxious that say, Michael Bay has made. The time in which it was made could have easily set this into full propaganda mode, and while it is there, I found it to be more of a very entertaining way of saying "we're all people, let's get along". This was a wise choice by Zito to have a very Russian Lundgren to be first our anti-hero and then our actual hero, and to have him come back to help African rebels and not Americans.

The acting was solid, Lundgren did a nice job with his transitions through the film. His interactions with the Bushman were great and came off as very organic. M. Emmet Walsh was almost unbearable as the American journalist, but seeing as that is how his character was written, a pro-American loud mouth who makes us all look bad but with his heart in the right place, shows how good of an actor he is. If the name isn't familiar his face and voice certainly will be. The rest of the cast from Al White as Kintash and T. P. McKenna as the Russian general Voytek were all solid. Special effects make up legend Tom Savini lends his handiwork to the film to make the action all the more realistic. There isn't too much over the top gore but when the Savini magic was needed, he came through.

RED SCORPION will please any action fan and will have no trouble finding (and keeping) it's fanbase with this new release.

The Video
Synapse Films delivers a gorgeous brand new 2K HD transfer of the original uncensored version of the film. There is no doubt that this is the best the film has ever looked since it's theatrical run. The African landscape is awe inspiring from the deserts to the lusher, greener areas. Flesh tones are recreated nicely and black tones are deep and rendered well. There is no sign of blocking during the darker scenes. Simply put, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a thing of beauty.

Please note: Screen grabs taken from DVD version of the BD/DVD combo pack

The Audio
There is plenty withing RED SCORPION's DTS-HD 5.1 track to give you sound system a work out. The explosions and gun fire will make you hide under the couch for cover while Jay Chattaway's (Maniac) score is mixed well with dialogue.

The Extras 
-Audio Commentary with Director Joseph Zito and Mondo Digital's Nathaniel Thompson
-HATH NO FURY: Dolph Lundgren and the Road to Red Scorpion - A video interview featurette with Dolph as he talks about his break into film and how he rose to fame and became a leading man, along with his time spent on the set of RED SCORPION.
-ASSIGNMENT: AFRICA: Video interview with producer Jack Abramoff about the making of the film

-SCORPION TALES: Video Interview with Make Up Effects Artist Tom Savini - A 9 minute interview as Savini fondly remembers his time spent on set and in Africa for the film.
-Rare Original Behind-The-Scenes On Set Footage

-Theatrical Trailer
-TV Spots
-Reversible Cover Art
-Liner Notes on the production and release of RED SCORPION
-Animated Still Gallery

The Bottom Line
I have no doubt that Synapse Films release of RED SCORPION will be near the top of any action fans list of releases from 2012. The film was handled with care and skill and is accompanied with a slew of entertaining and insightful extras. Highly Recommended.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lady Terminator (1988)

"Sometimes the past should be left to memory, to gather dust in the cupboards of recorded time." These are the first words spoken in LADY TERMINATOR, it is a wonderful thing dear readers, that this film was rescued and not left to memory.

The South Sea Queen is a sex driven witch who is hungry for a man to satisfy her. The only problem is that whenever her and one of her men are getting it on the guy ends up with his dick bitten off by the serpent that lives in her haunted cooter. This happens until she is tricked and a man is able to grab the snake and turns int into a dagger. The South Sea Queen vows to return in 100 years to enact her vengeance on the man's great granddaughter. Skip forward a hundred years and a young lady (excuse me, anthropologist) is doing a thesis on the South Sea Queen. When she finds a book that leads her to the area where the Queen's castle was engulfed by the ocean she goes on a diving trip and is seemingly possessed by another snatch serpent in a scene eerily reminiscent of the tree rape scene from The Evil Dead.

Now possessed by The South Sea Queen the anthropologist (she's not a lady!) is a seemingly invincible witch who has all sorts of nasty things in mind to get her vengeance on the great granddaughter who is a local singing celebrity. The only weakness the Queen has is to an amulet the man who tricked her was able to obtain. The endless shootouts and beatings from the police force do little to slow her down until she is stabbed through the heart with the dagger made from the original pussy python.

Upon hearing that I bought the DVD of LADY TERMINATOR a friend of mine responded with "Hell. Yes. One of my favorite pieces of shit ever!". I don't think there could be a more appropriate response. This movie is a total piece of shit. It makes almost no sense at all. Why does the title screen and opening credits look like they're from two completely different films? Why do the the police throw themselves in front of the Queen knowing their guns don't hurt her? Why does the Queen get the ability to shoot lasers from her eyes at the end? Why does the great granddaughter look to have no Caucasian in her when the man that turned the snake into a dagger (yes I think I finally ran out of puns for it) was white? Who the hell knows, and who the hell cares. This movie is a blast. There is endless sex, and even more violence. The acting is wooden and the writing is laughable. The effects are what you'd expect from a late 80s Indonesian action exploitation flick. But God damn this movie is a blast! There is little I can write to really explain how awesome LADY TERMINATOR is. I'd been hearing for years from various friends about how awesome it is but I was still skeptical. Hell I was skeptical up until this first time viewing. It didn't disappoint.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Celluloid Terror Takes On Twitter

It's about time that CT makes it's prescence known on Twitter. You can find all of our news, updates, and all of the like in under 160 characters at twitter.com/CelluloidTerror

Follow us and tweet us! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thirst (1979)

Kate Davis is preparing for a month long vacation when is kidnapped by a cult and flown to their hideaway. It becomes clear that Kate has ancestral ties through her grandfather to the cult which claims to be a superior race of human since they strictly consume clean human blood. The cult wants Kate to join them, and become a bride to another member. Kate is shown around the compound by Doctor Fraser (David Hemmings of Deep Red) but isn't responding how they'd like so other leaders of the cult drug her with hallucinogens to break down her resistance. Finally Kate gives in and drinks the blood, however she remains torn between her normal life and her new blood lust when the cult releases her back in to the everyday world.

This Australian horror thriller was directed by Rod Hardy who has spent the majority of his career in television. Hardy proves capable but mostly uninspired behind the camera, never quite giving us anything more than what is to be expected. The performances are a mixed bag, with Hemmings delivering possibly the best of the bunch as the cult's doctor who still has his own set of ethics.The lead Chantal Contouri as Kate is rather annoying at times with how lackadaisical her reactions are to the craziness going on around her. The set pieces are a highlight of the film with the "blood cow dairy" being a very striking part of the film. The film would have set itself apart from the dozens of other cult films to be released in the 70s had they focused a bit more on the harvesting and distribution of the blood as opposed to focusing so much on Kate (and doing so little with her). The film follows a predictable story line until things get a little more exciting in the final act.

The biggest disappointment in the film is that Hardy went through the trouble of designing this blood dairy with human slaves that are "milked" of blood or completely drained, in what they consider to be the highest honor a prisoner can have, but so little time is spent exploring it. They briefly touch on the blood being sent out in milk cartons and other things like that but we're mostly bored to death with Kate and the generic cult doings. THIRST had a real opportunity to set itself apart but it waited too long to try and it will forever languish in mediocrity. Which is a pity since the strong 3rd act is essentially wasted.


Friday, June 1, 2012


Directed By: Takashi Kanno
Written By: Chiho Katsura
Starring: Junko Mabuki, Hayano Kumiko, Yoshiko Sasaki
Color/64 Minutes/Not Rated

The Film
ZOOM UP: THE BEAVER BOOK GIRL starts out with more of the goods than many films even think about promising. During the opening credits a woman is assaulted and raped in an abandoned warehouse. Her attacker drops a lighter and a wad of cash as he escapes. We are introduced to a pair of young adults who work at a  magazine specializing in schoolgirl porn shots and live with their Sensei who is the head photographer. The assistant to the photographer is in love with the young lady who stars in the magazines but she is more interested in getting it from whoever she can while working on getting some affection from their Sensei. While the trio is walking down the street one day a mysterious lady in a trench coat slips the lighter the rapist lost in the opening scene into the photographer's hand as she walks past. Shortly after she appears at one of his photo shoots and volunteers to be the subject of the pictures and works her way in to become a regular performer. All the while the trio is mysteriously receiving large wads of cash at random times. Eventually the mysterious woman's identity is revealed to be an old professional of the business and she suggests a location to shoot with the photographer and brings him to the abandoned warehouse that she was attacked in years prior to exact her revenge. 

This film is a whole lot of sex, of many different varieties, wrapped around a minor mystery to give the movie a credible plot. Director Takashi Kanno delivers an extremely exploitative piece of film that is fairly entertaining in all of its fetish glory. There are more water sports here than the summer Olympics. If you can't stomach that then this will certainly make your stomach churn because it is all over the place. In this 4th installment of the Nikkatsu Roman Porno line we get what may be the most extreme in terms of sexual content and it makes for a super trashy 64 minute romp.


The Video
As has been the case with the previous three entries in the series, Impulse Pictures delivers a solid release. The anamorphic widescreen transfer from the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio looks good with skin tones and various bodily fluids being reproduced in all their glory. The print is clean of dirt and scratches and is a pleasure to watch. 


The Audio
The lone audio track is a 2.0 mono track in the film's native Japanese. Newly translated English subtitles are optional and are a breeze to read with the audio that is free of any annoying hiss, pops or crackling. 

The Extras
A theatrical trailer is the lone extra on the disc but as has become customary with this series, Jasper Sharp contributes liner notes that by this point should have you knowing a great deal about the history of these films and the Pink Film genre as a whole.


The Bottom Line 
Impulse Pictures and Synapse Films continue to roll out the Nikkatsu line in grand style with some truly quality discs of films that aren't well known in the US. It seems some retailers have banned these films from being carried in their store or on their site and that is their loss because any sexploitation film fan would do themselves a favor to at least check these discs out. From the endless nudity, to the various stories of violence and seduction to the way in which the Japanese Sensor Board proves they don't know what subtlety is (big black blocks and blurred spots) this is a line of films fully deserving of being showcased. 

Tell the retailers that banned these films to fuck off and order ZOOM UP: THE BEAVER BOOK GIRL HERE