Friday, January 31, 2014

Nurse Girl Dorm: Sticky Fingers (DVD Review) - Impulse Pictures

Directed By: Yoshihiro Kawasaki
Written By: Masahiro Yoshimoto
Starring: Jun Izumi, Chiaki Kitahara, Yukari Takeshita
Color/63 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
When a film's subtitle translates to "Assy Fingers" I think I know exactly what I'm in for.

NURSE GIRL DORM: STICKY FINGERS is the story of a group of nurses that live in the hospital dorm rooms who are kept on a rather tight leash by the nurse supervisor until the legendary Yuki moves in. Yuki helps the girls sneak in guys nightly, get into affairs with the doctors and unleash all of their desires. Yuki's old lover also makes an appearance and things go wild with one night stands, S&M, vacuum cleaner masturbation, getting stuck in the position, prostate milking... Good lord, this movie has it all. And it is rather funny, or silly at least. 

NURSE GIRL DORM is a short film, but that doesn't prevent it from overflowing with sex, skin, and laughs. There are some purely 80s songs in the soundtracks that are almost too 80s for their own good. Nikkatsu seemed to be letting anything go by the mid 80s because these softcore flicks were getting ridiculous by this point in the cycle. Ridiculously entertaining that is. 

The Audio & Video
Impulse Pictures brings NURSE GIRL DORM: STICKY FINGERS from Nikkatsu Studios on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen (16:9) transfer. Colors are vibrant, skin tones are natural, and the print is clean and sharp. I didn't notice any dirt or debris in the print, a pristine looking transfer. The soundtrack is also free of any background noise, and is nicely mixed and stable with the original Japanese language featuring newly translated English subtitles. Overall this is a very solid DVD presentation.

The Extras
 A theatrical trailer and liner notes from Jasper Sharp are the only bonus features. 

The Bottom Line
By this point you probably know if you're a fan of the Nikkatsu Roman line or skin flicks. If you are you'll definitely enjoy NURSE GIRL DORM, so go buy it and get your fingers sticky.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reel Zombies (DVD Review) - Synapse Films

Directed By: David J. Francis, Mike Masters
Written By: Mike Masters
Starring: Mike Masters, David J. Francis, Stephen Papadimitriou
Color/89 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE

The Film
In REEL ZOMBIES independent filmmakers Mike Masters and David J. Francis, who play themselves, are dead set on making the third entry in their "Zombie Night" series. The problem? Well besides finding locations, cast and crew and money the actual zombie apocalypse has broken out since they made their last film. With the outbreak of the undead seemingly under control the team thinks the world is finally ready to start watching zombie movies again and that it is safe enough to film a zombie movie like never before... with actual zombies!

The team goes through the normal trials and tribulations of making a low budget film... casting the film, finding locations, acquiring a crew, and then the not so normal deeds such as wrangling zombies. They find that making this movie isn't going to be any easier than before with a cast that doesn't know their lines, a crew that can't get their shit together aside from the French DP who is a total asshole, and the zombies attacking every chance they get. The task goes from making Zombie Night 3 something incredible to simply finishing the film before everyone dies.

REEL ZOMBIES was made in 2008 and is just being released. That kind of thing can tell you one of two things. Either the movie sucks and nobody wants it or someone is missing out on a quality flick. Well, this one doesn't suck so bad that it should be shelved forever. I thought the premise of this one was pretty cool. Filming a zombie movie in the middle of the actual zombie apocalypse is simplistically brilliant. I just don't think REEL ZOMBIES fully takes advantage of the idea. We get a good amount of zombies on screen, but rarely do they seem like much of a threat. The bigger threat seems to be more of the melodrama on set. REEL ZOMBIES is heavy in humor, and in my opinion a good bit of it falls flat. Now there are some amazing characters such as the French DP who is absolutely hilarious in his pretentiousness and know-it-all attitude and Basil as the co-star of the film who has absolutely no idea what is going on with the film. The horror of the film takes a bit to get going and never really reaches any levels of dread or terror. The movie remains comical throughout and that is fine, it just doesn't totally work. The best part of REEL ZOMBIES is that it actually is a sequel. Yes, the Zombie Night movies are real and this is an inventive idea for continuing the series. The team behind it gets major points for that. 

The Audio & Video
Synapse Films releases REEL ZOMBIES on DVD for the first time ever with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks good. The mockumentary style of this film has modern digital photography that obviously will look nice on disc. It is a squeaky clean and shiny looking picture and the audio is free of any issues as well. A 2.0 stereo track handles the sound duties beautifully.

The Extras
The extra features on this disc include an audio commentary track with directors Mike Masters and David J. Francis and producer Stephen Papadimitriou. Also included are over 40 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes presented as one single program and not individually. A trailer rounds out the disc. 

The Bottom Line
The idea and heart behind REEL ZOMBIES is undeniably great. Even if the execution leaves a bit to be desired in my opinion it doesn't surprise me at all that this movie is well received and well liked. A sometimes funny, sometimes not, original idea featuring zombies is worth a rental at least to see for yourself.

REEL ZOMBIES is available HERE

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Argento's Dracula (Blu-ray Review) - IFC

Directed By: Dario Argento
Written By: Dario Argento, Antonio Tentori, Stefano Piani, Enrique Cerezo
Starring: Thomas Kretschmann, Asia Argento, Rutger Hauer
Color/110 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Dario Argento, a man that has seen the top of the horror mountain. He is responsible for popularizing the giallo genre, along with writing some of the best spaghetti western films. Hearing his name instantly brings about dramatic images, often flooded with color, from his films. He is a visionary director, a style that doesn't sit well with everyone but his vision, at least in his prime cannot be questioned. For me, he is my favorite film maker, and I have enjoyed all of his films to varying degrees, even some of the more recent films which seem to be almost universally disliked. When I first heard of the DRACULA 3D project I was intrigued, and of course excited. My favorite director was going to take on classic horror literature. 

In this version of Bram Stoker's timeless novel, Count Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann) resides in his castle overlooking a small village which live in fear of him. Jonathan Harker has just arrived to the village to work in Count Dracula's library, leaving his beautiful wife Mina behind. He sees his old friend Lucy (Asia Argento) who is Mina's best friend and tells her that Mina will be arriving shortly. Dracula wants Mina for himself, as she bears a striking resemblance to his former lover of 400 years ago and believes Mina to be the reincarnation of her.Dracula leaves a blood stained trail through the village trying to obtain the girl for himself until vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer) arrives to stop his reign of terror. 

While the basic plot of Argento's DRACULA is similar to what you already know of Stoker's novel, the execution and style is far from it. While traditional vampire mythology allows vampires to turn in to bats, Argento has Count Dracula turning into everything from bats, to flies, roaches, wolves, an owl, and even a giant fucking praying mantis in one of the films most insane and bloody scenes. In true Argento form, DRACULA is violent and sexy. Blood sprays across the screen, beautiful women bare their bodies, and it is a classic practice of Italian horror. The film's biggest downfall, and one gripe every viewer has (and rightfully so) is the CGI. It is bad. Really bad. Epically bad. It is cheap, poorly rendered and looks like something out of  a Windows 95 game. The sets on the other hand are actually quite decent. The cobblestone houses, medieval interiors of the castle and dark woods all lend an air of atmosphere that aid the film in being creepy.

The acting is what you'd expect out of Argento film. If you've never seen one acting takes a backseat to style on many occasions. Sound isn't recorded live so each actor is dubbed, no matter what language they're actually speaking on set. The performances are okay. I've seen worse but I've certainly seen these performers do better. DRACULA 3D isn't Suspiria or Deep Red, it isn't even Phenomena or The Stendhal Syndrome. What it is is a violent and sexy exploitative take on the classic story that manages to take a small budget and turn out a pretty cheesy and entertaining film.

The Audio & Video
IFC Midnight delivers a gorgeous looking and sounding Blu-ray of DRACULA 3D. The single disc features both 3D and standard 2D options in full 1080p HD. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer shines with high levels of detail and a strong color palette. The black levels are deep and skin tones are natural. There is a 5.1 track and a lossless 2.0 track, both in English. The soundtrack from Claudio Simonetti sounds magnificent and is well mixed with the dialogue.

The Extras
The main feature for this disc is a behind the scenes featurette. Also included is a music video for the song "Kiss Me Dracula" which can be viewed in 3D. A pair of trailers round out the disc.

The Bottom Line
While this is far from classic Argento, and is not your grandfather's DRACULA, Argento pulls out an entertaining film with visual appeal. The shortcomings of the film don't hamper my enjoyment of it and I would recommend it if you're a fan of adaptations of the story.

DRACULA 3D is available HERE

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I, Cannibali (The Year Of The Cannibals) (Blu-Ray Review) - Raro Video

Directed By: Liliana Cavani
Written By: Liliana Cavani, Italo Moscati
Starring: Britt Ekland, Pierre Clementi, Tomas Milian
Color/87 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film 
After viewing THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS (original Italian title I, CANNIBALI) I looked it up online. Prior to receiving the disc I had known nothing about it and part of me thought it would be a jungle horror film. Reading the back cover quickly dispelled my assumptions. When I went to look more into the film after finishing my viewing I was surprised to find how mixed the reviews on this film were. All films will have their detractors, even the most widely loved masterpiece will have a few people that vehemently deny its quality. Now, THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS isn't a masterpiece, but I did find it to be quite good, so the mixed reviews caught me a bit off guard.

The streets of the city are littered with corpses. Both male and female, young and old. These dead bodies are to be left alone by order of the Fascist government. They're a warning to anyone that may want to rise up against the repressive government. As the rain pours down on the bodies and the population walks around, stepping over and on the bodies, Antigone, a pretty redhead, sees her brother's body outside of a cafe and decides that is not where he will lay to rest. With the help of a quiet man named Tiresia who speaks an unknown language they begin to clean the streets starting with Antigone's brother and moving on to others, taking each to a cave by the beach leaving offerings of bread and fish. It doesn't take long for the powers-that-be to catch wind of this breach of conduct and throw Antigone into a sanitarium, until she escapes and finds Tiresia in the streets, along with an entire battalion of military men.

From the shockingly heartless opening scene, to the poignant and unfortunately still relevant worldwide message, THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS strikes a chord deep within. One that forces the viewer to watch, and not only see what is going on but to take note and truly witness the atrocities that lay at their feet because of an out of control leadership. From the priest blessing the corpses while walking in front of a street cleaner that is washing the filth that a rotting body will leave, to the scene in a sauna that shows a small child in total control of military men, this film is chock full of powerful imagery. The performances from our leads Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man) and Pierre Clementi (Belle Du Jour) to the supporting role for Tomas Milian (Almost Human) are strong and help carry the film. We sympathize and root for Ekland and Clementi, putting us into a  similar role of Milian's character. The cinematography has the entire cityscape under a slightly greyish blue hue which plays perfectly with the constant overcast and rainy weather of the film. Ennio Morricone's score is quite good and I have to say the main theme song is, contrary to what I read in some negative reviews of the film, far from belonging in a spaghetti western film. It fits the period and feeling of THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS quite well in my opinion.

Made during a time of great unrest in Italy, THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS remains relevant on a global scale. The themes and messages in the film ring true day after day and the message that a powerful voice can't be silenced even in death if their message is true is one that will hopefully overthrow tyrannical leaders that still run rampant.

The Audio & Video
Raro Video gives THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 full 1080p HD transfer that looks nice. The stark look to the photography of the film limits how sparkly the film looks but detail levels are strong and there is no DNR or edge enhancement. This transfer has a nice film like look to it. The Italian audio track features newly translated subtitles and sounds good. There's no background noise to speak of and the track is well mixed. Morricone's score and the dialogue compliment each other nicely. 

The Extras
Extra features include:

-Video interview with director Liliana Cavani that clocks in at over 26 minutes
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Fully illustrated 12 page booklet

The Bottom Line
THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS is well worth checking out as it is not just a film filled with memorable images and scenes but is a film with a purpose.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Evil Come Evil Go / Widow Blue! / Oh! You Beautiful Doll (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

USA/1970, 1972, 1974
Directed By: Walt Davis,
Written By: Walt Davis,
Starring: Sue Minx, Cleo O'Hara
Color/211 Minutes/Rated X
Region FREE

The Films
Disc one of this 2-disc set features EVIL COME, EVIL GO and WIDOW BLUE. First we'll talk about EVIL COME, EVIL GO. A deranged, God fearing woman is on a mission to spread the word that sex for pleasure is a sin. A very deadly one at that. She recruits another woman for her mission and together they go around singing hymns and killing people who like to fuck for fun. It's a bit demented and bloody and was a lot more fun than I expected it would be. WIDOW BLUE is sleaze central. A gay affair, featuring in-law brothers turns into an orgy and a decapitation. Add in the incest angle, sex on top of a filled coffin, more orgies, even more blood and throw it all in a blender for a fun time in XXX land. This is the goriest porno I've ever seen. 

The second disc of this set holds the special features and OH! YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL, the final film of this triple feature. "The best cock sucker in Hollywood" hasn't worked in films for a few years and is now a private acting instructor. Sort of. Any clients she gets she just tries to have sex with. It makes for some silly, and often hammy comedic moments that saves this lesser of the three films from being a total bore. 

The Audio & Video
The films are all presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The prints are in reasonably good shape overall. They all feature some scratches and dirt but none of them look remotely bad. Colors and flesh tones are vivid and natural while detail levels are decent. The soundtracks all suffer from some crackling and scratching at times but that is too be expected with old pornhouse flicks.  The A/V won't blow you away but it is more than serviceable for these films.

The Extras
The lineup of special features include a video interview with producer Bob Chinn, a trailer for both EVIL COME EVIL GOD and OH! YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL and outtakes from WIDOW BLUE.

The Bottom Line
I have to be honest, before watching these films I didn't do much to learn about them. I expected them to be nothing more than your run of the mill 70s porn that would play to a house of a few lonely gents and maybe their hooker dates in a seedy 42nd Street theater. Well, they probably did play to that crowd but these are more entertaining than just your everyday XXX features. They caught me off guard and for adult film fans looking for something a bit out of the ordinary you need to look into this set from Vinegar Syndrome

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Snake God (DVD Review) - Mondo Macabro

Directed By: Piero Vivarelli
Written By: Ottavio Alessi, Piero Vivarelli
Starring: Nadia Cassini, Beryl Cunningham, Sergio Tramonti
Color/95 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film 
Nadia Cassini stars as Paola, the wife of a wealthy businessman who has brought her to the Caribbean to live on his plantation. He quickly leaves on business and Paola befriends a local woman named Stella (Beryl Cunningham) who shows her around. The pair quickly become inseperable and Stella shows Paola the local Voodoo culture. The local people worship a giant snake they believe to be a god named Djamballa. Djamballa immediately sets its sights on Paola, and she spends the rest of the movie fighting the deity's lustful desires.

That's about it. THE SNAKE GOD is a simple premise- Load up the most basic premise with tons of skin, exotic locations and a bit of Voodoo exploitation. Nadia Cassini really helps the 95 minutes fly by as she is barely covered through most of the film. The bits and pieces of Voodoo are mostly tame and more of a "diet" version of more hardcore Voodoo fare. The main exception being the goat ceremony scene, which gets quite nasty.

There isn't much in THE SNAKE GOD that is above average. The direction isn't exactly artful or inspired, the acting is good enough to get by, not bad but not great and the film relies on old tricks that had been done better before and after this production. That said, THE SNAKE GOD manages to be a mildly entertaining tropical romp of Voodoo, skin, sex and snakes.

The Audio & Video
Mondo Macabro gives THE SNAKE GOD  a fantastic looking DVD release with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen print that shows strong detail, very nice color reproduction and an overall clean presentation. There are some instances of dirt speckling but it is light and doesn't detract from this excellent looking disc. The sound side of things is also quite good. The lone track is a Dolby Digital mix in Italian with English subtitles. They're well placed and well timed. The track is loud and crystal clear.

The Extras
Supplements include an interview with Piero Vivarelli, trailers and production notes. 

The Bottom Line
Mondo Macabro does another fantastic job with this US debut of THE SNAKE GOD. The uncut DVD is good enough for exploitation fans and Mondo Macabro collector's to enjoy adding this one to their collection.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Never Sleep Again (Blu-ray Review) - Image Entertainment

Directed By: Daniel Farrands, Andrew Kasch
Written By: Thommy Hutson
Starring: Robert Englund, Wes Craven, Robert Shaye
Color/238 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
It was 1984 and the slasher genre was on top of the horror world, if not the entire world of cinema. Director Wes Craven, known for his work on exploitation films such as The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House On The Left, developed an idea for a horror film based on a serial killer who stalks kids in their dreams. A Nightmare On Elm Street was born. Freddy Kruger has since become as pop culture as pop culture get. The Springwood Slasher, the bastard son of a thousand maniacs, has popped up in damn near a dozen films, a TV series, all the merchandise you can think of and just about anywhere else that would have a pop culture icon, Freddy has been. He was a rock star. He was a murderer. He was the villain of  one of the most successful horror franchises in history.

NEVER SLEEP AGAIN is a documentary covering each and every film of the original series from Wes Craven’s classic to the long awaited showdown with fellow horror icon Jason Voorhees. Damn near every key cast and crew member is interviewed on screen, the main exceptions being Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette, undoubtedly the pair that have gone on to the biggest success and fame. With a runtime of  4 hours each film gets a substantial amount of time allotted to it. Even the TV series and merchandising are covered. A film as popular as this has been talked about, written about and researched to death. It is amazing at how much information in this I’ve never heard before. I had no idea that Divine was originally cast to be in Freddy’s Dead prior to her death. That is my favorite piece of information I learned, but it is far from the only thing. NEVER SLEEP AGAIN is packed with information on the filming, distribution, reception and real world significance of each and every NOES film.

It is almost becoming a trend to make documentaries about the most popular 80s horror films. Friday the 13th has its own with Crystal Lake Memories, Return Of The Living Dead has one with More Brains… NEVER SLEEP AGAIN destroys them all. This is precisely what a horror franchise documentary should be. Crystal Lake Memories doesn’t hold a candle to NEVER SLEEP AGAIN and this 2-disc set will proudly be displayed next to my Nightmare On Elm Street box set.

The Audio & Video
Image Entertainment delivers the 2-disc Blu-ray set of NEVER SLEEP AGAIN with a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer that looks absolutely beautiful. There isn’t a ton to mess up here, all of the main footage is sit down interviews but they do look great. Obviously some of the footage from the sets of the films doesn’t shine like new but even that looks good. The Audio is a DTS-HD track that sounds perfect. The disc should look and sound fantastic and it does.

The Extras
On top of the audio commentary on the main feature disc, this 2 Blu-ray Disc set comes with an entire second disc of special features. Those features include:

-Extended interviews
-A preview of Heather Langenkamp’s “I am Nancy” documentary
-For The Love Of The Glove featurette
-Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans
-Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return To Elm Street
-Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd
-Expanding The Elm Street Universe: Freddy In Comic Books and Novels
-The Music Of The Nightmare: Conversations with composers and songwriters
-Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak
-A Nightmare On Elm Street In 10 Minutes
-Teaser trailer for NEVER SLEEP AGAIN

The Bottom Line
From the incredible documentary that covers everything you could ask for, to the massive collection of special features that cover everything from even more interview footage, to epic fan collections, and a modern day look at filming locations used on the original film and much more NEVER SLEEP AGAIN is an absolute must own for any Freddy fan. Go buy it!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Abduction Of An American Playgirl / Winter Heat (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

USA/1975, 1976
Directed By: Claude Goddard, ?
Written By: ?
Starring: Jamie Gillis, Susan Sloan, Eric Edwards
Color/141 Minutes/Rated X
Region FREE

The Films
“She tastes sweeter than venison!” - ABDUCTION OF AN AMERICAN PLAYGIRL may be the funniest porno I’ve ever seen.

A couple buddies decide they need to get laid this weekend, having no money, and even less game with the ladies they cook up the half assed plan of kidnapping the first beautiful girl that comes their way. When they get her undressed and go through her things they find out she comes from a wealthy background and the light bulb in their head goes off that they can get ransom for her along with getting their fill of her body. Turns out the girl is insatiable, wanting both men endlessly, at the same time and even more, hell she even wants her sister at one point! Yeah, these bumbling idiots aren’t ready for the trouble they just brought upon themselves.

ABDUCTION OF AN AMERICAN PLAYGIRL is centered around a nasty plot, kidnapping a woman to rape her. However these men are no Krug and his gang, they’re not mean or even really despicable. Well, they are despicable for carrying out this act but their stupid nature is almost lovable. This film is genuinely funny, sexy as you’d expect and isn’t just another excuse for the old in-out.

And while ABDUCTION isn’t just an excuse for some close up shots of penetration WINTER HEAT pretty much is. Not to say its bad, it does what it aims to do quite well. A quartet of nasty individuals, 3 men (including adult film legend Jamie Gillis) and a woman who is a sex toy to the men, stumble upon a house filled with 3 young women, with the youngest looking barely 18, if even legal. You can guess what happens next… a lot of forced sex. It eventually turns to consensual sex which eases the sleaze factor just a bit to ease the viewer into a lighter mindset. The girls are all attractive, the plot is thin and the nudity is plentiful. A couple characters disappear for the last half hour of the film which is unintentionally hilarious to me for some reason. I’ll assume they just exploded into thin air from sexual bliss. WINTER HEAT isn’t art, it’s barely a movie, but it is an enjoyable piece of vintage erotica. And like I said, it does that quite well.

The Audio & Video
Both films are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 for a full frame picture from Vinegar Syndrome. ABDUCTION looks very good with very minor print damage in just a few spots. Colors and flesh tones are strong and natural and is as nice looking as one could hope for. WINTER HEAT is also in mostly good condition, there are some scratches, and some dirt and dust on the print but overall it looks nice. The audio tracks are simple stereo tracks that have a bit of background noise such as crackling and popping as you’d expect from old XXX titles such as these.

The Extras
A trailer for ABDUCTION is the only extra on the disc.

The Bottom Line
This double feature of 1970s porn flicks is of course full of sex, skin and all sorts of kinky stuff. What is a very nice surprise is how funny ABDUCTION is and even WINTER HEAT gets some great humor in at times. This is my favorite Vinegar Syndrome erotica/porn release to date.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Riddick (2013)

Article written by Jordan Reeves-

RIDDICK is the third film in the cult hit series starring Vin Diesel as the titular character.  Though this film is made 9 years after Chronicles of Riddick ,it only takes place 5 years later.  Riddick as the new Necromonger leader is in search of his birth place Furya and when he agrees to give up his role as leader in exchange for finding his home planet, he is betrayed by Vaako played by Karl Urban from the previous film and, is left for dead on a unknown desolate planet and he must survive the planets looming creatures, and 2 separate groups of bounty hunters, one group led by Boss Johns, who is played by Matt Nable.

I had the great pleasure of getting to do a phone interview with Matt Nable and was able to ask a few questions regarding his bad ass character of Boss Johns, who as fans of the series should know is the father to Cole Hauser’s character “Johns” from Pitch Black. 

I asked him whether he had taken anything special from Cole Hauser’s role of Johns in Pitch Black and used it for his performance in Riddick, and he said really the only thing he took was that the line of men that family was and that they are  just ass kickers and good men and tough bounty hunters

In RIDDICK the entire planet is a desert type atmospehre, with it always looking humid and dry, and then later in the film the planet has a torrential down pour that never lets up. I asked Matt about what shooting scenes were like with that weather aspect to the film, and having to wear heavy body armor while carrying heavy guns most of the time, and he said “basically it was shot in studio with control climate, so they weren’t really affected by weather, but with the equipment and long days of shooting made it very tiresome, though it beats digging holes for a living.”

I commented to him on how, as an audience, we are always rooting for Riddick in each film, and how this film in particular was interesting because we have our hero Riddick, who is our guy, and that he not only has to face the monster threat of the “mud demons” in this film but he’s also being hunted down by two separate groups of mercenaries. One group is a rag tag group of wildcards, and the other group, headed by Matt Nable, is a very organized militant group. I found it very cool to be able to root for Boss Johns (Nable) as well because of his characters intentions. Nable said he agreed that it was very clever of the director David Twohy to have Boss Johns be this very stoic man, who couldn’t care less about the enormous bounty placed on Riddick’s head and has been searching for Riddick for the last 10 years and just wants to know what happened to his son from Pitch Black and make Riddick pay and give him the answers he’s been searching for.

On the Blu-ray release of this film, there is an unrated cut which comes with an extra ending that’s about 5 minutes long. Fans of the film like myself will greatly appreciate it, because it directly sets up a 4th film. Nable told me, when I asked him what do we see from his character in a possible 4th film, because his business is concluded with Riddick, he told me “space is big, and we see Riddick at the end go back to the Necromonger world and who knows, we could always see the possibility of Boss Johns coming back into Riddicks world.”   As a fan that had me beyond excited.  

Matt Nable plays such a cool character in this film, and it was my first exposure to the Australian actor,  I asked him “like your character, and mercenary team, you yourself in real life are a jack of all trades person.  You went from being a Rugby star, to boxing, to writing novels and it has only been in the last 8 or so years you have been acting. Whats it like doing all that? And do you have any big film projects in the future for us?“ He replied that its all been really fun for him, and because of his exposure in Riddick, its really been great to him, and as for the future he is currently finishing a novel he’s working on.

For my first interview with someone in a film I fucking loved, Matt Nable was insanely nice and super humble, I enjoyed the time I spent interviewing him, and shared some laughs and appreciation for his performance in Riddick.  Even if you’re not a fan of the first two RIDDICK films definitely check this film out. Its great fun, and features really cool action and special effects.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vikingdom (DVD Review) - Epic Pictures

Directed By: Yusry Kru
Written By: James Coyne
Starring: Dominic Purcell, Natassia Malthe, Craig Fairbrass
Color/112 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
Thor is on a warpath to collect three ancient relics, the Horn from Helheim, Mary Magdalene’s necklace from Midgard in addition to his own hammer. Obtaining the other two relics would give him control over all three kingdoms if he is able to use each during the Blood Eclipse to take complete control over mankind. The only man that can stop him is Eirick The Bloodletter, and undead man who was blessed with life by the goddess Freya due to her love for him. Eirick recruit’s a squad of several other Vikings of varying abilities and skills for his quest, including a wizard, a small man who fights like a Valkyrie, brute warriors and archers. Their journey takes them across snow covered lands, into the mouth of Hell itself and deep into the dangerous seas. There is no shortage of bloodshed and violence before Eirick’s final showdown with the God of Thunder himself.

VIKINGDOM is a highly stylized adventure flick from director Yusry Kru. I liken this movie to be a mix of 300 and The Matrix but set in a world of Norse mythology. Many of the fight scenes have frantic, high speed editing, and slow motion is used quite a bit. I’d prefer a more straight forward fight scene but I’ve seen these techniques used in far more annoying ways in similarly toned films. The acting is so-so from the cast, including lead Dominic Purcell. Much of the cast is a bit wooden in their delivery but these aren’t complex characters and no performance is ever bad enough to take you out of the film. Thor’s appearance was a bit jarring at first, becoming very used to the Marvel Comics depiction of the God as a blonde haired, more youthful son of Odin, the slightly older, fiery red headed Thor of VIKINGDOM took a bit to get used to but it is very fierce and strong look for the villain.

Far from great, and certainly not a piece of art, VIKINGDOM did proide me with almost two hours of popcorn entertainment when all I wanted to do was turn of my brain it helped me do that. It isn’t amazing but if you like action/adventure flicks and Vikings you can do worse.

The Audio & Video
Epic Pictures gives a nice 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer to VIKINGDOM on DVD. The digital photography looks nice, but there are several moments where the sets are obviously sets or the CGI looks weak. That is something a film such as this has to deal with when it doesn’t have a mega Hollywood budget. The crispness and the clarity of the DVD are almost a detriment to the film for that reason. The audio track is rather good, with a 5.1 surround track handling the sound duties. There are plenty of sound effects of swords clashing and tearing through flesh, and there isn’t really much downside to the track.

It is interesting to note that VIKINGDOM was obviously shot in 3D but this release has no option for 3D.

The Extras
-25 Minute “Making Of” featurette
-Music video by MOJO for the song “Dark Clouds” from the OST
-TV spot

The Bottom Line
If you’re a fan of Matrix style action or fantasy adventure films such as 300 you’d probably enjoy VIKINGDOM and I’d suggest it enough to give it a rental if you fall under that blanket.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Judy / The Night Hustlers Drive-In Collection (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

USA/1968, 1969
Directed By: David W. Hanson, Bobby O’Donald
Written by: , Bobby O’Donald
Starring: Andrea Barr, Margo Billings,
Color/132 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE

The Films
JUDY is a sexed up thriller where the plot is more of a way to show off the bodies of some beautiful women than anything that will really pull you in. Detective Sloane is hired for a private case when a wealthy family’s daughter is sexually assaulted in a park. Of course while Sloane is working the case several other women are sexually assaulted in a similar manner. Each assault is shown, mainly from the naked torso up on the female. Occasionally the girls bare it all for the viewing pleasure of the audience. The attacks are rarely graphically violent, leaving their disturbing nature to be enough to get under the audience’s skin. The police force that Sloane was kicked off of is also on his back as they don’t like his tactics in handling his own case and interfering with theirs. It is a case of private detective vs.. dirty cops in a bare all nudey romp around the city.

1968’s THE NIGHT HUSTLERS is about a rich womanizing writer as he talks to a pair of police officers to get details from their juiciest cases and busts to use in his new book. From a female cop going undercover in a drug den, to a live stage show of sex, we get to see these events play out and since that isn’t enough we get to see the writer’s admirers try to seduce him for the night in all of their naked glory. This is a simple sexploitation skin flick and that is all it was ever meant to be.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome presents JUDY in a full frame 4:3 aspect ratio. The overall picture quality is good, and the 2K scan seems to be taken from a source that has been kept in good condition. The audio track has a bit of background noise, mostly crackling, at times. There are also some pops and hissing but it is very minor and won’t pose any issue to your enjoy of the film.

THE NIGHT HUSTLERS is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with an anamorphic widescreen transfer taken from a 35mm blow up negative. The picture quality is decent, with scratches and speckling throughout which adds to the charm of these films. Colors and detail are decent overall. The audio is okay, sometimes a bit muffled when the writer is talking, though that is partially due to his odd accent. There’s very little annoying background noise to deal with so it isn’t at all a bad track with all things considered.

The Extras
Bare bones.

The Bottom Line
Vinegar Syndrome brings us a pair of regional US skin flicks for its next entry into the Drive-In Collection set of double features and it is worthy of a spot right alongside the rest of the titles that range from horror to hardcore. This double feature would make a great warm-up for some of Vinegar Syndrome’s harder releases but is also completely enjoyable as a stand alone disc.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Carrie (Blu-ray Review) - Fox

Directed By: Kimberly Peirce
Written By: Stephen King, Lawrence D. Cohen, Roberto Aguierre Sacasa
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer
Color/100 Minutes/Rated R
Region A

The Film
In 1976 the film adaptation of Stephen King’s acclaimed novel about a sheltered, religiously oppressed and bullied teen taking revenge on her tormentors after discovering telekinetic abilities was released. Brian De Palma’s CARRIE went on to worldwide success and has since become widely considered a classic of the horror genre. Sissy Spacek starred as Carrie White, the teen in question who was eventually covered in pig’s blood at the senior prom. Reaching her breaking point, Carrie’s powers reached a boiling point and she brought the school to its proverbial knees after opening up the gymnasium floor to expose the pool beneath and engrossing the building in flames.

Skip ahead 36 years and while the remake trend move on full steam ahead it was only a matter of time before CARRIE got the remake treatment. This time instead of Sissy Spacek in the titular lead role we get Chloe Grace Moretz, a true star on the rise who I’m sure will be winning an Academy Award before too long. Moretz has been starring and co-starring in motion pictures for several years now, from 500 Days Of Summer to Kick-Ass, she is no stranger to big parts. Her abusive, bible humping mother is played by the great Julianne Moore (previously played by Piper Laurie to near perfection). Carrie is very conservative, wearing frumpy homemade clothes, studying the bible after school and having no social life, the kids at school tease her and talk behind her back. When Carrie has her first period in the shower after gym class she freaks out not knowing what is happening to her and of course in the age of social media every girl there whips out a cell phone to record the show. Carrie’s torture continues. When one popular girl feels bad and has a change of heart she has her boyfriend ask Carrie to prom to make it up to the poor young girl but another popular girl who has been banned from prom has other plans and sets up a trap for Carrie. When a great night at prom takes a horrendous turn for Carrie the school will burn and everyone inside will pay.

Ah CARRIE, the wonderfully accurate tale of how awful high school can be to some kids. Of course with all sorts of fire and brimstone added in for our enjoyment. Moretz is good in the lead, as expected the main problem here is that she simply doesn’t look like a teen that would be getting harassed endlessly. She’s a normal looking girl, with clear skin, she isn’t fat and she tries to be normal. The only thing really weird about her is that her incredibly religious mother is fucking crazy and pushes it on Carrie which has sheltered the poor girl. In an age where movies rarely star someone that isn’t attractive they really should have went a different route than Moretz. Sissy Spacek had a very particular look to her in the original, she looked beaten down and frail, scared and unfortunate. Moretz, good acting or not, simply doesn’t have that look. And that is the look I associate with Carrie White. Julianne Moore did a decent job as the mother, a bit over the top at times but never becoming a parody of the nut bag she was portraying.

CARRIE is an okay film. It does very little to separate itself from the original and even less to try and improve on it. To put it bluntly, CARRIE is a pointless film that simply was not needed. It is a shinier, newer version of a superior vehicle. While it is prettier to look at it won’t ever reach the mileage that the original has.

The Audio & Video
CARRIE comes to Blu-ray in a gorgeous presentation from MGM/Fox. As you’d expect from a new Hollywood production being released in HD the film shines. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer shines, with the big budget special effects in the climax looking great. Detail is rich, skin tones are natural and black levels are deep. There is plenty of texture visible throughout. The 5.1 DTS HD audio track is full and bold and will use the entire spectrum of your sound system. This is a fantastic looking and sounding release.

Please note: Screen shots do NOT represent Blu-ray quality.

The Extras
A long with excellent A/V quality the disc features quite the slew of extras and a DVD copy and Ultraviolet digital copy of the film.

-Audio commentary with director Kimberly Peirce
-Alternate ending
-Deleted and alternate scenes
-”Creating CARRIE” featurette
-”The Power Of Telekenesis” featurette
-Telekenetic Coffee Shop Surprise

The Bottom Line
While I don’t find the film to be at all necessary or as good as the original it certainly has its fans. It isn’t a terrible film by any means, it just exists in a world where a more complete and better version of the film exists. MGM/Fox did create a winner of a home video release however and if you’re curious about the film and special features surrounding it the Blu-ray is worth checking out.

CARRIE is available HERE

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Black Water Vampire (DVD Review) - Image Entertainment

Directed By: Evan Tramel
Written By: Evan Tramel
Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Danielle Lozeau, Andrea Monier
Color/82 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
Raymond Banks is a convicted killer responsible for murdering four women, a decade apart, to the day,  from each other over 40 years. The problem is Banks’ conviction was based on circumstantial evidence and he may not be responsible. A group of young filmmakers who grew up in fear of the Black Water Killer set out to discover the truth behind the murders and potentially free and innocent man.

The film makers set out to the area surrounding Black Water Woods to interview all sorts of eccentric locals, politicians and those associated with the case surrounding the murders. Eventually the crew heads into the woods to hike for days to find the area the bodies were found. When Rob, the annoying hipster douche soundman goes missing, the rest of the group begins to panic until they come face to face with the true monster in the woods responsible for the killings.

BLACK WATER VAMPIRE is yet another entry in the incredibly popular cycle of found footage horror films. The films are cheap and fast to make and require little in the way of set design or shooting locations. All of the clichés are here, from the arguing group getting lost in the woods, to the map disappearing and random symbols and spooky things happening at night. BLACK WATER VAMPIRE manages to freshen things up a bit by actually showing us something. While this is obviously largely influenced (and I’d go as far to say rips off) The Blair Witch Project, we actually get a good look at a monster here, which is a rarity in this genre. Unfortunately that takes a terribly fucking corny turn really fast. Sometimes less really is more.

This film also fails to do what needs to be done to make this a realistic film. The found footage genre is one that requires the viewer to suspend all disbelief. What we are watching is supposed to be real. This is the job of the filmmakers. When the sound recording quality is exactly the same all the way through the film, despite the sound man either not being introduced yet, or after he went missing, it is hard to believe that this was all recorded live. Hell, after Rob the soundman goes missing, the director of the group even begins to bitch about how shitty the camera’s on board microphone is and how it will sound like shit. Well good fucking job following through on that. Is that a minor nitpick? Possibly. It is just one that stood out to me the entire time I was watching the film. Also did they really need to create a serial killer rhyme that is a blatant ripoff of  “One, two, Freddys coming for you”? No, they didn’t and all it managed to do was make me groan in disapproval. BLACK WATER VAMPIRE is a typical example of the found footage genre, in that while it does manage to craft a story, it does so an a lazy uninspired way that is full of plot holes, annoying characters, clichés and “borrowing” enough from so many other films that I’m not sure I can count it on both hands. It is a shame because BLACK WATER VAMPIRE could have stood apart from the pack with a bit more inspiration. Taking a dozen popular modern horror films and throwing them into a pot together really isn’t the way to go about making a movie. I do have to mention that Bill Oberst Jr. is quite effective, giving an unsettling performance as the convicted killer.

The Audio & Video
Image Entertainment gives BLACK WATER VAMPIRE a rather gorgeous DVD treatment. I don’t think this anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer could look any better without being on Blu-ray. Colors shine and details is strong. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track sounds terrific as well, even if it is detrimental to the film itself at times. You can’t fault that on the technical side of the disc though, and this is an excellent job.


The Extras
The lone feature on the disc is a very short behind-the-scenes featurette, where the cast members are interviewed and some outtakes are shown.

The Bottom Line
If you’re a big fan of the found footage genre you’ll probably enjoy BLACK WATER VAMPIRE. Give it a rental to test the waters. Pun absolutely intended.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dead Weight (DVD Review) - Horizon Movies

Directed By: Adam Bartlett, John Pata
Written By: Adam Bartlett, John Pata
Starring: Joe Belknap, Mary Lindberg, Michelle Courvais
Color/90 Minutes/Unrated
Region 1

The Film
Charlie awakens on his day off to eat cereal and read comic books as he typically does until he receives a frantic phone call from his girlfriend Samantha who lives several hours away in Minnesota telling him to turn on the TV to see the chaos that is happening around the country. A viral outbreak is widespread and terrorizing the entire country, turning its victims into violent, bloodthirsty maniacs. With the major cities being overrun and highways jammed and at a stand still Charlie tells Samantha to meet him in the small town of Wausau, Wisconsin where they first met.

As the days turn into weeks Charlie meets up with a trustworthy group to travel with. As they head to Wausau they encounter the struggles of survival in an apocalyptic environment. Food and water supplies are low, other survivors are usually dangerous and maniacal, and the task of finding a safe place to sleep sometimes seems impossible. As the tension builds around them, it also builds within them and Charlie begins to succumb to the rage building inside him as all he wants is to desperately find his love Samantha. When Charlie hears that Wausau fell victim to the virus he won’t let anyone stand in his way of getting to the meeting spot even if it means murdering people that helped him but when he arrives in Wausau he finds that things aren’t what he had hoped.

The writer/director duo of Adam Bartlett and John Pata took a low budget film and make it look far more expansive and costly than their budget would likely normally allow. DEAD WEIGHT is a minimalist film, we barely see any of the infected zombie creatures, there are practically no special effects and there is no CGI. The snowy scenes were filmed in the snow while the cast and crew were getting wind burn. This is gritty, real film making. It is well written and for the most part, well acted. DEAD WEIGHT is simple but successful because it pulls on real human emotions, and real situations set within a hellish version of reality. And remember to ask yourself “Why’d you jump out of the goddamn bushes?”

The Audio & Video

The Horizon Movies DVD release of DEAD WEIGHT is a very nice looking and sounding release. The anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer is sharp, with top notch clarity and detail for a standard definition release. The stereo sound mix is good with no pops, crackling or other audible annoyances. The soundtrack never interferes with the character’s dialogue and overall I have no complaints about the A/V.

The Extras
DEAD WEIGHT is a pretty loaded release with a pair of commentary tracks, one with the writer/director duo and the other with stars Joe Belknap and Mary Lindberg. Also included are extended scenes, a 55 minute making of featurette and trailers.

The Bottom Line
Combine the loaded release with the fact that DEAD WEIGHT is a well executed horror film dealing with real life themes in a world run amok and you’ve got a DVD that is well worth your time and money to check out.

DEAD WEIGHT is available HERE