Wednesday, May 31, 2017

OBSESSIONS - Cult Epics (Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Pim de la Parra
Written By: Pim de la Parra, Martin Scorcese, Wim Verstappen
Starring: Alexandra Stewart, Dieter Geissler, Tom Van Beek
Color/91 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: May 30, 2017

The Film
A medical school student witnesses a gruesome crime while peeping through a hole drilled in the wall to his neighboring apartment. Soon after his journalist girlfriend tells him about a murder that has been reported that sounds very similar to what he witnessed through the hole in the wall and becomes obsessed in finding out exactly what is going on in the apartment next door even if it puts him and his girlfriend in extreme danger.

Pim de la Parra directs OBSESSIONS, the film that truly opened Dutch films to the world for the first time as this film was distributed in over 120 countries. The story lends itself to exploitation filmmaking and it certainly wades in those waters with moments of sleazy sex and violence, commonly after having slipped a pretty woman some drugs. Or there's the scene where the bad guys try to make a key character look like she slit her own wrists while naked in the bathroom. There's more than just pure exploitation here however as the film is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's timeless Rear Window. James Stewart didn't quite see the same kind of dirt that Dieter Geissler's character would in OBSESSIONS but the film takes a lot of cues and influence from Hitchcock as well as the Italian giallo films. OBSESSIONS might be best summed up as a giallo directed by a half interested Hitchcock. I don't mean that as an insult to the film in any way, it's just that Hitchcock was a master of suspense and tension and the level of filmmaking in OBSESSIONS isn't up to par with Hitchcock's best. Few movies are. Its exploitation side fits in well with the murder mysteries from Italy that debuted in the mid 60s and dominated cinemas in the 70s with their mix of sex, violence and bizarre stories. OBSESSIONS certainly fits that bill.

OBSESSIONS is perhaps most known for having been co-written by a young Martin Scorcese and scored brilliantly by Bernard Herrmann. It is historically significant in the landscape of European film and Holland's film industry more specifically. For that reason alone it is worth seeing but there's plenty for exploitation film fans to latch on to in this sporadically stylish but usually completely competent crime thriller that pays off in a classic scene that is as hallucinogenic as it is brutal.

The Audio & Video
Cult Epics gives OBSESSIONS a home on Blu-ray for the first time with a brand new HD transfer taken from the original 35mm film. The 1.33:1 full frame presentation preserves the film's original aspect ratio while the new HD transfer gives way to a rather sharp look but finer detail is lacking a bit. Grain is on the heavy side but looks natural while colors and skin tones are warm and attractive. The 2.0 Dolby Digital mix sounds crisp and clear with no background noise or damage noticeable. The mix allows Bernard Herrmann's excellent score to shine through while not overpowering the dialogue.

NOTE: The screen grabs do not represent the HD presentation on the Blu-ray disc.

The Extras
A nice selection of extras, many of which are newly produced are included to round out this Blu-ray release. A pair of optional introductions from Pim de le Parra and Dieter Geissler start out the disc and then each of them have given new HD video interviews  as well. A text interview with Martin Scorcese rounds out the interviews. A roughly five minute excerpt from the 2010 documentary "Parradox" is included and focuses on the history of Scorpio Films. This is a well done excerpt and makes me want to seek out the full documentary. Rounding out the special features are Martin Scorcese's original script notes, the original Dutch theatrical trailer and a photo gallery.

The Bottom Line
OBSESSIONS is a blend of influences from Hitchcock to gialli to exploitation films that preceded it. It doesn't stop at being important to the history of an entire nation's film industry, it is also an early example of Scorcese's writing and Hermann's scoring. Cult Epics has given OBSESSIONS the treatment is deserves and cements its place in cult film history.

OBSESSIONS is available HERE

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MALIBU HIGH - Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review

Directed By: Irvin Berwick
Written By: John Buckley, Thomas Singer
Starring: Jill Lansing, Katie Johnson, Alex Mann
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: May 30, 2017

The Film
MALIBU HIGH is a film with a misleading title and poster. One look at the poster makes you imagine a lighthearted, sex comedy with an attractive lead and a colorful cast of supporting characters romping around classrooms and the beach. It was a decision producer Lawrence Foldes made strategically and purposefully. It paid off as MALIBU HIGH was quite the financial success but it did not represent the movie audiences would see in any way, shape or form.

The alternate working titles, High School Hit Girl, Lovely But Deadly and Death In Denim all paint a much more accurate picture of what is in store when watching MALIBU HIGH. Jill Lansing stars in her only film appearance as Kim, a teen with an attitude who has been dumped by her boyfriend for the local rich girl. With slumping grades and the proposition of not graduating looming over her head she takes it upon herself to sleep with all of her teachers and blackmail them into straight A's. And while she's at it she decides to make some money along with those better grades so she hooks up with the local small time drug pushing pimp Tony (Alex Mann). He mistreats her and she splits to work with Lance (Garth Pillsbury) who offers a more professional, high profile lifestyle for Kim while she's turning tricks but quickly gets Kim involved in much more violent and deadly crimes spiraling the high school senior's life out of control.

MALIBU HIGH is a bit rough around the edges giving the movie a proper exploitation attitude. Jill Lansing's performance is raw and believable and she has a natural screen presence on top of her natural sex appeal. It's a shame that her experience making MALIBU HIGH was apparently not one she enjoyed as she would never make another film despite being good enough to have continued in the field. Alex Mann and Garth Pillsbury add a bit of veteran experience as the feuding crime bosses. Their styles and characters are totally different but each played brilliantly with Mann portraying Tony's low rent operation that for the blue collar workers around town while Lance gives a more luxurious experience to wealthier clients from the city in true mob boss form.

Ironically it would be Lance that ultimately destroyed Kim's life by persuading her into taking a gun along on various jobs to knock off the client and Kim is quite good at it and takes it upon herself to get a bit of revenge on her rival from school. This descent is fascinating and endlessly entertaining to watch. The movie would be fun just having Kim fuck her teachers and blackmailing them for grades but you add in a mob boss, murder, drug addiction and an icepick to the back in what may be my favorite scene of the film, you get a shining example of exploitation.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome has given MALIBU HIGH a new HD transfer and 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative leading to a warm picture with a healthy grain structure. Colors and skin tones have a natural look with no waxiness or DNR. A DTS-HD Mono audio track handles the audio perfectly with a crisp and clear sounding mix that is free of background noise, or any damage like hissing or popping. I wonder if I'll ever get tired of saying Vinegar Syndrome did a stellar job on a release? I highly doubt it.

The Extras
A bountiful selection of special features are included on the disc to round out a great presentation of a fine film, starting off with an audio commentary track with producer Lawrence Foldes and actress Tammy Taylor. Then a trio of video interviews with Lawrence Foldes, Tammy Taylor and co-star Garth Pillsbury and footage from a Q&A at a screening of the film at the New Beverly Cinema with Lawrence Foldes, Tammy Taylor and Alex Mann round out the main extras for the film before we can give in a pair of short films from Lawrence Foldes titled "Struggle For Israel" (1976) and "Grandpa And Marika" (1975). Rounding out the features are the original theatrical trailer, a promo still gallery and reversible cover art.

The Bottom Line
MALIBU HIGH has everything an exploitation film fan could want all wrapped up in a beautiful Blu-ray package. I highly recommend you get off your ass and pick up this treasure of sleaze.

MALIBU HIGH is available HERE

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

RLJ Entertainment and AMC Networks' Shudder Acquire Joe Lynch's MAYHEM


The Joe Lynch Film Is Set To Release In Theaters And On Demand Later This Year And Will Have Its Streaming Premiere On Shudder Early 2018

LOS ANGELES, May 24, 2017 – RLJ Entertainment and AMC Networks’ Shudder are partnering on the North American release of Joe Lynch’s action/thriller MAYHEM through a deal finalized at the 70th Cannes International Film Festival.  The film first premiered at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival to positive reviews.  Directed by Joe Lynch (Everly) and written by Matias Caruso, the film stars Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Samara Weaving (Monster Trucks), Steven Brand (The Scorpion King) and Dallas Roberts (Dallas Buyers Club).   

RLJE plans to release MAYHEM in theaters and On Demand in Q4 2017, with the Shudder streaming premiere slated for early 2018.  Mark Ward, RLJE’s Chief Acquisitions Officer, and Aurelie de Troyer, Shudder’s VP of Global Acquisitions and Co-Productions made the announcement today. 

“Joe Lynch’s vision is captivating,” said Ward.  “He has the ability to take stories and elevate them with his unique insight and direction.”

 “MAYHEM is bold, fun, irreverent and incredibly fast on its feet,” said Aurelie de Troyer.  “Steve Yeun and Samara Weaving deliver stunning performances.  It’s a perfect fit for Shudder.”

“MAYHEM is a very personal film for us that has affected and engaged festival audiences looking for some insane, cathartic fun in these trying times,” said director Joe Lynch. “With RLJ Entertainment and Shudder working together to bring MAYHEM to the masses, I am confident that this crazy flick will find its audience in the best way possible.  It will be for viewers who want the choice of a big, bold, loud theatrical experience but it will also have the convenience and careful curation of Shudder’s fantastic service.  As a fan and customer of Shudder, I am proud to know that we are in great company. MAYHEM is coming for you all soon enough!” 

In MAYHEM, an airborne virus infects the corporate tower of a major law firm on the day attorney Derek Saunders (Yeun) is wrongfully fired. The infection is capable of making people act out on their “mosterratic” impulses and viral rage takes over.  Trapped in the quarantined building, Saunders is forced to fearlessly fight for his job, his redemption and his life.

MAYHEM was produced by Avva Pictures Mehrdad Elie & Parisa Caviani along with Circle of Confusion’s Lawrence Mattis & Matt Smith.

Ward negotiated the deal with Aurelie de Troyer and Paradigm on behalf of the filmmakers. 

RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE) is a premium digital channel company serving distinct audiences primarily through its popular OTT branded channels, Acorn TV (British TV) and UMC (Urban Movie Channel), which have rapidly grown through development, acquisition, and distribution of its exclusive rights to a large library of international and British dramas, independent feature films and urban content. RLJE’s titles are also distributed in multiple formats including broadcast and pay television, theatrical and non-theatrical, DVD, Blu-ray, and a variety of digital distribution models (including EST, VOD, SVOD and AVOD) in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Additionally, through Acorn Media Enterprises, its UK development arm, RLJE co-produces and develops new programs and owns 64% of Agatha Christie Limited. For more information, please visit,, and

For more information, please visit, Acorn.TV, and

RLJ Entertainment’s upcoming feature films include Once Upon a Time in Venice with Bruce Willis, Bushwick with Dave Bautista and Brittany Snow and Pilgrimage with Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal.


Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving fans of thrillers, suspense, and horror.   Backed by AMC Networks, Shudder has a growing and dynamic selection of thrilling premieres, originals, and exclusives, which complement its impressive library of international and independent films, gripping TV series, and Hollywood blockbuster favorites. Shudder streams ad-free in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland on the web, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku for $4.99/month or $49.99 with an annual membership. To try Shudder commitment-free for 7 days, visit

THE MEPHISTO WALTZ - Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Directed By: Paul Wendkos
Written By: Ben Maddow
Starring: Alan Alda, Jacqueline Bisset, Barbara Perkins
Color/115 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: April 18, 2017

It is not surprising that in the years directly following the success of Rosemary's Baby Satanic horror and thrillers were incredibly popular. Fred Mustard Stewart wrote the 1969 novel The Mephisto Waltz which would be adapted as a feature film by producer Quinn Martin who is better known for producing television series in the 60s and 70s such as Twelve O' Clock High and Barnaby Jones. THE MEPHISTO WALTZ would be Quinn Martin's only theatrical production and while it was not a large financial success it is a successfully tense occult thriller.

Alan Alda Stars as Myles Clarkson, a music journalist who studied piano at the Julliard Academy years ago. Myles lands an interview with Duncan Ely, an elderly piano virtuoso who takes note of Myle's hands, comparing them to Rachmaninov's and calls them perfect for the piano. Ely and his daughter Roxanne (Barbara Perkins) quickly form a strong friendship with Myles and his wife Paula (Jacqueline Bisset), who is very suspicious of the new found attention. Myles and Paula are unaware that Ely and his daughter are Satanists and have performed a ritual transferring Ely's soul into Myles' physical body. Shortly after Ely passes away and leaves one of his pianos and a large sum of money to Myles in the hopes that he will put it towards continuing his piano playing. Myles has a new attitude and a bit of arrogance along with taking over Ely's concerts which Paula initially enjoys before a series of bizarrely hallucinogenic dreams scare her after she sees her young daughter Abby being killed as a part of a Satanic pact. This begins an ongoing descent into Satanic pacts and the occult.

THE MEPHISTO WALTZ is the epitome of a slow burn horror film. There's little in the way of visual thrills for much of the first 90 minutes of the film but the Jerry Goldsmith score, taking cues and pieces from Franz Liszt mixed with electronic sounds and tones and disturbing strings, the sense of dread is heavy and foreboding. I am certain that the film would not be a success without Goldsmith's score. It drives the film and creates the atmosphere that feels like a nightmare that will have you wiping the sweat from your brow. Director Paul Wendkos uses stylistic choices in the photography and camera lenses to express the otherworldly magic of the soul transference without any special effects, keeping the film minimalistic and based solely around it's atmosphere.

The slow burn nature seduces the viewer in much as it does to the character Paula who inevitably gives in to the seductive nature of the power a deal with the devil holds regardless of the consequences. THE MEPHISTO WALTZ gets better as it goes along, offering plenty enough pay off for the patience of the viewer. Film Historian Bill Cooke discusses a number of cut scenes from the film that would have offered a more straight forward experience however they would have added significant run time that the film doesn't need and I don't think could handle. There is a bit of trade off however as I think the film is a bit choppy from scene to scene and doesn't always flow smoothly. THE MEPHISTO WALTZ remains an effectively eerie work of Satanic horror.

Kino Lorber has released THE MEPHISTO WALTZ on Blu-ray with a full HD 1080p 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer marking the film's high definition debut on home video. The film's transfer is grainy, at times excessively so which leads to a softer than optimal image. Colors are natural but a bit muted with some speckling present. Detail levels are an improvement over DVD but not especially high. Overall it is definitely an improvement over previous home video releases but there's definite room for improvement. The audio quality is quite good however with a strong presence and crystal clarity from the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix. It's a big deal for a film that relies on it's soundtrack such as this one for high quality audio and Kino doesn't disappoint in that regard. English subtitles are available. Additional audio options include a pair of commentary tracks the first of which is from historian Bill Cooke, the second from actress Pamelyn Ferdin and is moderated by filmmaker Elijah Drenner. There's also a theatrical trailer to round out the special features.

I recommend THE MEPHISTO WALTZ to any occult film fans. Let Goldsmith's score take hold of you and drive you to the devil along with the movie.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Comet TV May Prize Pack Giveaway

May has blasted off and we have an out of this world giveaway for you!

Ray Harryhausen, who we all know pioneered stop motion and visual effects for such films as Jason and the Argonauts, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, is being honored by Comet TV this month!
We’ve custom designed a limited edition T-Shirt that you can only get via this promotion!

Publish a post that includes a couple of the custom Ray Harryhausen gifs and We will give you a Comet TV May Prize Pack to giveaway to one lucky reader!
There’s all kinds of awesomeness in this set!
The Comet TV Prize Pack includes:
1 - Limited Edition custom designed T-Shirt: The God’s Want Their Entertainment! And So do Comet TV Fans! Show your love of classic Sci-Fi with this Limited Edition T-Shirt you can only get through this promotion!
10 - Skeleton Warrior Mini Figures: The perfect way to plan your own battle is with these skeleton warrior figures. Perfect for your desk, coffee table or as an heirloom to pass down from generation to generation!
2 - Packs of Candy Bones: After you vanquished your skeleton foes, celebrate with these sweet treats!
1 - Comet TV “Space Out” Fridge Magnet: This fridge is rated “S” for Spacey! Show your Comet TV love and love of Sci-Fi with this custom magnet. Only the cool kids have them!
1 - Comet TV “Space Out” Sticker: These are Spacey Times. Show your Comet TV love by sporting this awesome sticker. Great for notebooks, bumpers, to put on people’s backs, you know… the usual!

In case you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty big fans of old school movie monsters here at COMET, and no one was more important when it came to making those famous beasts come to life than special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. Catch four of his classic films airing this month. 
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) 
Friday May 12 at 4P/3C 
Monday May 22 at 6P/5C
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) 
Saturday May 27 at 10P/9C
The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960) 
Friday May 26 at 10P/9C
Jason and The Argonauts (1963) 
Friday May 12 at 6P/5C 
Tuesday May 23 at 6P/5C

Jim Henson. George Lucas. David Bowie. When these three legends got together in 1986, an all-time cult favorite was born. We are, of course, talking about the nightmare-inducing puppet-filled ‘80s fantasy masterpiece known as Labyrinth. It’s one of those rare films that seems to get better each time you watch it.
Labyrinth (1986) 
Friday May 12 at 8P/7C 
Saturday May 13 at 8P/7C 
Thursday May 18 at 6P/5C 
Sunday May 28 at 6P/5C
The Bride (1985) 
Friday May 19 at 8P/7C 
Saturday May 20 at 8P/7C 
Sunday May 28 at 4P/3C
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) 
Friday May 26 at 8P/7C 
Saturday May 27 at 8P/7C 
Wednesday May 31 at 6P/5C
Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987) 
Saturday May 13 at 2P/1C 
Thursday May 18 at MIDNIGHT/11C
Troll (1986) 
Monday May 8 at 8/7C 
Sunday May 21 at 2P/1C
Troll 2 (1991) 
Saturday May 13 at 4P/3C 
Monday May 15 at 6P/5C

Stargate SG-1 is back on COMET! Your favorite gate-hopping action series returns with back-to-back episodes Monday through Thursday at 8/7C, with encores of both episodes airing at 10/9C. That’s two chances, four times a week, to catch Jack O’Neill and his squad on their adventures across the galaxy. Indeed.

Payback Time Triple Feature Blu-ray Review - Mill Creek (Blind Fury, Silent Rage, White Line Fever)

Release Date: May 16, 2017
Region A

The new triple feature Blu-ray from Mill Creek features a trio of action thrillers from the 70s and 80s making their North American Blu-ray debut. First on the bill is 1989's BLIND FURY from director Phillip Noyce in which a blind Vietnam War veteran (Rutger Hauer) returns home to America after many years to find and forgive his old war buddy but finds he is being held hostage and used to cook drugs while his family is in immense danger. After rescuing the man's insufferable son he sets out to find his old friend and what ensues is a bloody, violent sword fight mess in the vein of Zatoichi The Blind Swordsman. The film is cheesy and entertaining, never dragging or lingering too long on any one scene. While it is far from the Zatoichi films it is heavily inspired by it remains an entertaining piece of 80s action largely thanks to Rutger Hauer's charismatic performance.

If BLIND FURY was influenced by the Zatoichi character and series, SILENT RAGE blatantly and shamelessly rips off John Carpenter's seminal slasher Halloween, recreating most of the major scenes in the film and even moments from the sequel that would be made just a year before SILENT RAGE. Replacing the Dr. Loomis character played brilliantly by Donald Pleasance with Chuck Norris as a hard hitting, karate kicking sheriff gives the film a different vibe but rest assured it is absolutely Halloween through and through. The villain is a disturbed man on a rampage killing his family when he's shot down only to be revived by an experimental medicine that gives him super human healing abilities that make him almost totally unstoppable. It would have been hilarious to see Donald Pleasance fighting Michael Myers with karate kicks but it certainly wouldn't have looked as legitimate and intense as Chuck Norris is here in a mostly restrained performance that keeps the film away from being overly campy. Even the score hits the same beats and cues as Carpenter's original using the same (albeit lesser quality that will never be iconic) pulsing, pounding synth to add the sense of fear and dread to the picture. SILENT RAGE won't go down as Chuck Norris' best picture or his most memorable performance but it really is an entertaining ripoff of a classic horror film that steers the vehicle a bit more towards the action realm.

Rounding out the set is the oldest film included, WHITE LINE FEVER from 1975 starring Jan Michael Vincent as Carrol Jo Hummer, a big rig owner who comes to blows with the corrupt trucking industry that runs the show and has it out for Hummer and his pregnant wife. A series of chase scenes featuring multiple tractor trailers, shootouts and fight scenes make this one my favorite of the bunch. The country music soundtrack is a nice compliment to the sweaty, tough guy aesthetic of the film. Supporting roles from L.Q. Jones, Martin Kove, Slim Pickens and Dick Miller make sure the acting is up to snuff. This is the most personal film of the bunch and easily the one that will have you cheering on CJ's quest for revenge and justice against the despicable bigwigs and their henchmen.

Mill Creek has released these three films on a single 50gb Blu-ray disc and the films seem to fit comfortably with no compression issues thankfully which is possible in part because the release is bare bones when it comes to special features without so much as a trailer for the films. That's okay because the transfers range from pretty good to great, skewing towards the top end of that range. BLIND FURY looks the worst of the three films but still looks fine with good detail and colors. The issues with it are a bit of a noisier and softer look than the other two films. SILENT RAGE and WHITE LINE FEVER each have a warm look with strong detail levels and sharp colors. There's no issues with DNR. The anamorphic widescreens presentations are exactly how the films should be shown and there's no doubt these transfers all stand head and shoulders above any previous DVD releases. The lone audio track for each film is a HD Dolby stereo mix that sounds very good with no damage or background noise to interfere with your listening. English SDH subtitles are included.

It's an easy recommendation for the Payback Time Triple Feature from Mill Creek as it is a package of three films that rate high on the entertainment scale and a technical presentation that beats the bargain bin price tag.


Monday, May 8, 2017

HIDEOUS - Blu-ray Review (Full Moon)

Directed By: Charles Band
Written By: Neal Marshall Stevens
Starring: Michael Citriniti, Rhonda Griffin, Mel Johnson Jr.
Color/85 Minutes/R
Region FREE
Release Date: March 13, 2017

The Film
When Dr. Lorca acquires the new pride and joy of his medical oddity collection, a mutant born from toxic waste, the monster's "rightful owner" comes looking for him and what ensues is a battle of wealthy oddballs fighting over an army of angry mutant creatures all while trapped inside a mansion.

The opening scene of HIDEOUS felt like something new and different than the Full Moon film's I've come to know. A crew of sewage workers are cleaning some sort of massive tank for anything that shouldn't be in there- trash, money, bodies, etc... It's when they find a gross, slime covered organic being that is living and the real plot of the movie begins. The opening felt raw, and I imagined the film to be headed to the city streets in some fashion, an area totally foreign to Full Moon films. Seeing these monsters run amok in a gritty urban setting regardless of what plot wrapped around it would have been fun and fresh. Unfortunately as soon as the monster is found we head back to familiar territory and the movie instantly looks and feels like a Charles Band production, complete with a score from his Brother Richard which doesn't particularly fit the tone of the movie.

To this point I'm faulting HIDEOUS for what it is not instead of focusing on what it is and that is because the film is an absolute bore for most of the first two acts. Aside from a totally silly scene involving a topless woman in a gorilla mask there's not much going on besides a pair of wealthy men arguing about who is more deserving of this new creature and their various employees and partners running around doing their bidding. Eventually everyone ends up locked inside a mansion and the critters take a bit of revenge on them all in an extremely unsatisfying fashion with perhaps the best scene being one of the mutants sticking the sex-obsessed rich bitch with a group of porcupine like quills right in the ass which leads to a scene in which she gets them removed one by one while over the knee of Mr. Lazar.

I guess when you buy a castle in Romania to be your soundstage and studio you make sure you use it and get your money's worth but this is a case where I really think HIDEOUS sets up, even if only barely hinting at it in my mind, a more exciting and as far as Full Moon is considered, original, film than this movie that could easily be another Puppet Master sequel by swapping the mutants out for Blade and his puppet pals. The mutant creatures have a great design and look really good on film and I'm really disappointed we don't get to see more of them and more from them. These little guys should have been given the chance to shine but they're overshadowed by a script that is entirely too talky and too slow with not enough pay off.

The Audio & Video
Full Moon delivers a fine looking Blu-ray with a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has a sharp picture and a nice film look. There is some scattered speckling and light damage still present but nothing substantial or distracting. Colors are vibrant and natural while black levels are deep. The English audio is presented in a 5.1 surround mix that sounds crisp and is free of any distortions or level fluctuations. There's no background noise to speak of and overall this is among the best looking at sounding Blu-rays from Full Moon to date.

The Extras
Extra features include a commentary track with actors Mel Johnson Jr and Michael Citriniti along with a vintage behind the scenes Videozone featurette. A selection of trailers for other Full Moon titles rounds out the supplemental material.

The Bottom Line
HIDEOUS has some really interesting creatures and decent production values but sells itself short by being an all too familiar, run of the mill Full Moon production that even leaves us unsatisfied as far as monster action goes.

HIDEOUS is available HERE

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Sam Raimi found horror immortality in 1981 when he made The Evil Dead and then the sequel six years later. The original film was a rag tag amateur production full of heart, soul and some brilliant ingenuity. Bruce Campbell starred and proved to be a capable leading man in this downright terrifying movie filled with some really well done special effects, stop motion photography and a healthy dose of gore. The sequel went for broke when it took what the original created and added in a Three Stooges sense of humor filled with slapstick comedy, and even better special effects and gallons of blood and gore. This is where Raimi would become a household name in horror and Bruce Campbell reached his full potential as the film simply wouldn't be the same without his portrayal of Ash. Then the series took a turn towards fantasy horror and comedy with 1992's Army Of Darkness. The Evil Dead trilogy has had a lasting impact with a remake in 2013 and a TV series that is currently  preparing for its third season. It goes without saying that The Evil Dead is a beloved piece of American horror but what about Japan? A country with their own rich tradition of horror films. Well, back in the 90s Shinichi Fukazawa set off on a journey that would span parts of three decades to complete. A project that can only be described as a labor of love. And perhaps the biggest love letter to Sam Raimi's classic that the world will ever be lucky enough to see.

Shinichi Fukazawa's lone filmmaking credit is BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL which he wrote and directed and stars in. It will likely be the only credit he ever has but what a legacy to leave behind - perhaps the greatest foreign fan film ever. That really is what BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL comes down to and there's not a damn thing wrong with it. 30 years after his father murder's an ex-girlfriend in self defense and buries her in the floorboards of his home, Naoto enters the house for the first time with his photojournalist ex-girlfriend who has brought along a psychic to help her get pictures of ghosts. The angry spirit of the slaughtered woman possesses the body of the psychic through a necklace that absorbed her blood and is now forced down the psychic's throat. Now Naoto and his ex-girlfriend must fight the evil with guidance from his dead father who communicates with them through an old TV and what ensues is 62 minutes of absolute madness.

BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL is short and it should be. Once the story (what little their is) is set up we go head first in to gory, stop motion, splatter hell. Eyes are popped, limbs are hacked, heads are lopped off and shotgunned into smithereens. You'll see the same slop that your high school called spaghetti and you'll see an absolutely disgusting attempt at sucking out the evil like it was a snake bite. Admittedly I was totally surprised at the quality of the special effects in this movie which you can tell is where probably 90% of the budget went. The movie is almost entirely spent within the confines of a house with boarded up windows that the group can't escape until they properly hack up and destroy the psychic's body with the correct weapon. It doesn't count if Naoto isn't using the correct weapon. Does that make any sense? Fuck no but it doesn't matter. This movie doesn't exist in the same plane of reality as normal things that make sense. 

The similarities to The Evil Dead don't stop at the special effects and horror side of things. Shinichi Fukazawa bares a striking resemblance to Bruce Campbell. It's almost scary in its own right. He doesn't quite have the same trademark chin that Bruce does but Shinichi does his best to stick out what chin he has to enlarge it for the camera. Fukazawa would definitely win a Japanese cosplay contest for Bruce Campbell. He even makes sure to take Ash's trademark "groovy" and make it his own, along with his exclamation of "Now I am pumped up!" Fukazawa may not have the acting chops or comedic timing that Campbell has but he does a serviceable and commendable job. 

The thing missing from BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL is the zany, one hundred miles per hour feeling of a carnival madhouse on LSD that The Evil Dead 2 has. Fukazawa tries to get the slapstick and comedic aspects into the film and he gets an A for effort but that isn't something you can fake, it either works organically or it doesn't and while it doesn't hurt the movie, it doesn't have the impact that it does in ED2. I love that they went for it though because it is definitely a campy, bloody, low budget romp but it lacks that zaniness. But I have to ask myself if it even matters. And I immediately conclude that no, it doesn't matter. BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL is over 14 years of work and love in a basement finally unleashed on the world and it will suck you in to a world of trash cinema destined for cult classic status as soon as people get a chance to see it. And you need to see it. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Aaron's Blood Press Release

AARON’S BLOOD - Gravitas Ventures

IN THEATERS:  June 2, 2017


DIRECTOR: Tommy Stovall

WRITER: Tommy Stovall

CAST: James Martinez, Trevor Stovall, Farah White, Michael Chieffo

SYNOPSIS: Aaron copes with his new life as a single father and the distant relationship he shares with his only child Tate.  A timid hemophiliac, Tate is roughed up at school by the chief bully causing a massive nosebleed that lands him in the hospital fighting for his life.  He makes a miraculous recovery after a necessary blood transfusion, but Aaron begins to notice progressively strange behaviors in his son.  Faced with the grim possibility that his son could be becoming a vampire, Aaron enlists the help of a local vampire hunter and embarks on a frantic search to find the source of the infection to stop the transformation before it’s too late.  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Obsessions Blu-ray/DVD Press Release and Video Clip (Cult Epics)


Los Angeles, CA (May, 2017.) Synopsis:
The obscure film OBSESSIONS (aka HOLE IN THE WALL) was directed by Dutch artsploitation auteur Pim de la Parra and co-produced by longtime collaborator Wim Verstappen (BLUE MOVIE). This gritty, psychedelic Hitchcockian mystery, which is notable for being the first Dutch film shot in English-language, starts in a savagely brutal fashion. When a bloody painting of Vincent van Gogh falls from a wall and exposes a makeshift peephole, student protagonist Nils Janssen (played by the film’s German co-producer Dieter Geissler) becomes an unwitting witness to a gruesome sex crime next door.  When his young fiancĂ©e Marina (Alexandra Stewart of Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT), an enterprising journalist, tells him about a report of a murder that she is writing, he naturally wonders if it’s the very same killing.

This classic exploitation film was the birth of auteur cinema in Holland, and inspired legendary filmmakers such as Paul Verhoeven to make their start in the industry.  Originally distributed in over 100 countries, the film remained unreleased in the U. S. (and France) – until now.  Perhaps most notably, the film was co-written by a young Martin Scorsese, who shot the legendary erotic dream sequence for his first feature WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR (1968) in Amsterdam, that same year.  Additionally, the film also stars legendary Dutch filmmaker Fons Rademakers (MIRA, THE ASSAULT), is edited by Henry Rust (CHILDREN OF PARADISE) and scored by Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann (TAXI DRIVER, SISTERS). OBSESSIONS is a curious cultural hybrid where late-1960s Dutch exploitation and classic Hollywood Hitchcock collide in a provocative and revolutionary fashion.

Price:                              $34.95
Street Date:                              May 9, 2017
Production Year:                     1969
Country:                                   Netherlands/Germany
Video run time:                 Approx. 91 Mins
Language:                                English language 
Aspect Ratio:                           1.33:1
Audio:                                      Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Label:                                       Cult Epics
Distributor:                              CAV 
Blu-ray                        CE-151
BD UPC:                                 881190015193
Rating:                                     Not Rated

. New HD Transfer (from original 35mm film)
. Introduction by director Pim de La Parra (HD, 2017)
. Introduction by actor/producer Dieter Geissler (HD, 2016)
. Interview with Pim de La Parra (HD, 2017)
. Interview with Dieter Geissler (HD, 2016)
. Interview with Martin Scorsese (Volkskrant, 2017)
. Scorpio Films (Excerpt from Parradox documentary, HD 2010)
. Original Dutch Theatrical Trailer (HD)
                   . Script notes by Martin Scorsese 

                   . Obsessions photo video gallery

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

HUNTING GROUNDS - DVD Review and Director Interview

Directed By: John Portanova
Written By: John Portanova
Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., David Saucedo, Jason Vail
Color/91 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: May 2, 2017

The Film
After losing their home a man and his son have recently relocated to a rundown family cabin in the mountains. Nearby a logging company has begun clearing out a large section of land which has displaced much of the wildlife, including Bigfoot. When an old friend and relative come to visit and check in on the father and son their weekend of catching up is quickly ruined by shitty attitudes and too much drinking. Oh, and a pissed off Bigfoot.

Director and writer John Portanova has previously written films such as The Invoking and The Device which tackle supernatural ghosts and aliens respectively and while I didn't care for The Invoking, Portanova was certainly trending upwards with The Device which I saw a lot of potential in. Now he tackles another type of creature in HUNTING GROUNDS, originally titled Valley Of The Sasquatch, and it is his most successful endeavor yet while also marking his feature film debut as director. It is his writing that creates a sturdy foundation for the film to be built upon however. The set up is rather simple but solid character development and good performances from the actors make it effective. Roger (Jason Vail) and his son Michael (Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) have recently lost their home after a tragic death to their wife and mother and have been given a free place to stay in an old family cabin. Roger is jobless and is an alcoholic while Michael longs for a chance to go to college and do better for himself. When they arrive to the cabin they find it has been ransacked. Soon they're visited by Will, Roger's brother-in-law, and Roger's lifelong best friend Sergio. Will runs a successful gym and Sergio is a total piece of shit enabler to all of the worst things about Roger. This set up easily divides the group in two and gives us characters to care about and one of the most obnoxious, no good pieces of shit I've ever seen in a movie. Sergio can rot in Bigfoot hell for all eternity.

It's on a hunting excursion that the group has their first face to face encounter with Bigfoot which sends Sergio in to a panic and makes him even less likable. I honestly have no words for how much I dislike the Sergio character and it plays so well against a couple of genuinely likable guys and even Roger who you take pity on at times. Sergio is the dirty rug you want to beat violently. It makes the payoff that much more gratifying when the inevitable happens to him as the cabin is being terrorized by the Sasquatch. HUNTING GROUNDS is a bit slow to get going, allowing more than ample time to introduce, develop and allow the audience to familiarize themselves with the cast. The inclusion of an outsider played by Bill Oberst Jr. is a good one as not only is he a great actor but his character helps break up the family bickering that is a constant throughout the movie, even if only briefly. Once we get up to speed HUNTING GROUNDS turns into a fun creature feature with plenty of action and a good design on the Bigfoot suits.

It's nice to see care given to aspects other than the Bigfoot creature itself and it's also nice to see some actual effort given to Bigfoot. Many horror movies centered around the giant apeman either don't care about anything other than the creature and some don't deliver the goods at all, choosing to keep him hidden entirely. Then there's the train wrecks that shit in both ends of the pool and don't develop a good script or characters and fail to deliver a cool monster. HUNTING GROUNDS may not be perfect but it's one of the best Bigfoot movies I've seen lately and an entertaining creature feature.

The Audio & Video
Uncork'd Entertainment gives HUNTING GROUNDS a home on DVD with a solid anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film features many dark scenes and the DVD handles them well with deep black levels that don't block up. Colors are natural and the picture has a nice clarity that probably would only be surpassed by the Blu-ray that is also available. English audio is crisp and mixed well with steady levels and no hiss, pop or crackling issues. 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround options are available and both are fine choices.

The Extras
Special features include an audio commentary track and a feature length documentary titled "Shadows In The Forest" that is worth watching for Bill Oberst Jr's "Valley Of The Sasquatch" theme song alone.

The Bottom Line
There's no shortage of Bigfoot films around but more often than not they're a letdown. HUNTING GROUNDS is a well rounded film and an entertaining creature feature from a director on the rise.


John Portanova was cool enough to take a few minutes out of his day to answer a few questions so check out this brief interview and support HUNTING GROUNDS!

1. Hi John, could you introduce yourself and give a brief background of how you got involved with filmmaking? 

My name is John Portanova, I am a Writer/Producer/Director with an affinity for horror. Alongside my production partners at The October People, I've been involved in the creation of 3 feature films and counting.

I became enamored with filmmaking in high school. I was a movie collector (VHS at the time) and began to seek out more low budget indie productions and found that I really enjoyed them. It was after a viewing of Clerks that I decided to try my hand at writing and making my own short films. From there I went to film school and started working on various sets. I actually met my producing partner Jeremy Berg when we were both production assistants on a feature and D'Angelo Midili, one of the main actors in Hunting Grounds, was the star of another feature I PA'd. I highly recommend people wanting to get into the business just get on sets, even if you start at the bottom like I did. You get on set experience and you find people you work well with and can continue to work with as you move into your own productions.

2. You've previously tackled ghosts and aliens and now Bigfoot with Hunting Grounds, any plans to write or direct a movie based on around any other distinct creatures? Chupacabra or Nessy perhaps?

As you can tell, I'm a big fan of the paranormal and "real world" creatures. I think doing any kind of lake monster picture would have to wait until I have a budget to pull it off, but Chupacabra could be interesting...

3. Was there any particular inspiration for the design of the Bigfoot creatures in Hunting Grounds?

My special effects supervisor Doug Hudson and I are both Bigfoot enthusiasts and so we took what we had heard from actual encounters and worked that into our ideas of what we wanted to see. A big inspiration was actually the creature in The Legend of Boggy Creek because I love how its long hair hid its face and when it leaned over the long hair would hang down in the direction of what it was looking at. The face is the hardest thing to pull off in a Bigfoot film, so what they did to get that affect was staple a wig onto the face of their creature. It's simple, but effective. We definitely show more of the face because I wanted to get a performance out of the Bigfoot characters, but that idea of a big hairy mass was something very appealing to us when we were design our creatures.

4. Bill Oberst Jr. is an absolute workhorse in independent film, how did he become attached to the project and how was your experience directing him?

Bill is awesome. The dude never stops working and that made it so we only had 4 days with him. He was coming from another shoot and leaving to go to a horror con, so we only had those few days to get his FX heavy scenes shot. But it was worth it to get to work with him. I'd seen him around in various indie horror films and knew he could deliver a great performance no matter what the material. The character he plays has to play many scenes by himself or with performers in creature suits and so I knew we needed someone of a high caliber to properly pull it off. And it worked because he brought his 100s of sets worth of experience with him and was a total pro. He's one of the best performers I've had the pleasure of working with.

5. What is next for John Portanova?

I actually reteamed with Bill as well as D'Angelo Midili in my next film as a producer. It's a supernatural drama entitled Ayla that'll be coming to film festivals later this year. Beyond that, I'm just working on scripts for future projects to direct.

6. Feel free to plug any projects or websites - Thank you for your time! 

Thank you. You can find all of The October People's films over at We have a handful out now on VOD and DVD, with Hunting Grounds joining the group on May 2nd. I'm especially happy with the Blu-ray for that film because it features some fun exclusive extras including a featurette that sees me going on my first Squatchin' trip in the Washington rainforest.