Thursday, April 26, 2018

ROBOT WARS (Full Moon Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Albert Band
Written By: Jackson Barr
Starring: Don Michael Paul, Barbara Crampton, James Staley
Color/72 Minutes/R
Region Free
Release Date: January 2, 2018

The Film
In a dystopian future America is split into two blocs with opposing views and they're both the target of a band of pirates. Though peace between the blocs has reigned and the mega robots once used for war are now mere tourist attractions and public transportation and the once heroic pilots are now little more than chauffeurs, a diplomat has secret plans to wage war with the robots and take control of the world. It's up to Barbara Crampton who co-stars as a journalist to uncover the secret plans and warn everyone in time for Drake (Don Michael Paul) to prove he's still the tough pilot he claims to be.

ROBOT WARS was the first Full Moon release of 1993 and may have got lost a bit in the shuffle of a strong year for the studio because I don't hear it talked about too often in Full Moon discussions and that's a shame because it really is an entertaining film. Albert Band directs this stop motion sci-fi romp that stars Don Michael Paul and Barbara Crampton. It is Crampton, who should be no stranger to Full Moon fans as she appeared in Trancers 2 and would go on to star in Castle Freak, among others, that carries the film and really brings a veteran prowess to the screen. It is also her character that really advances the movie along. Albert Band rarely gives us anything especially stylish from a directorial standpoint but he does competently capture the action and give us a good view of the world they've created and interesting set pieces.

But for all of the comments we can make on acting and set design what we really care about is the robot action. After all, this movie is called ROBOT WARS and the artwork promises a giant humanoid robot fighting a giant scorpion robot with lasers and explosions. Well at only 72 minutes ROBOT WARS is a quick one and though one of my main gripes with the film is that most of the time we see the robots they are relegated to taxicab status as they transport tourists around, they did manage to fit in a few really great stop motion animation fight sequences and those are obviously the best parts of the film. David Allen made a name for himself doing special effects work from the 70s through his death in 1999 and collaborated with Charles Band for the first time on 1978's Laserblast but some of his best stop motion sequences can be found right here in ROBOT WARS. The fight scenes are very well done and the robots themselves look great. How awesome are the scorpion and mastodon bots? Bad. Ass. I would have loved for this movie to give us another 15 minutes of robot fighting but budgetary constraints made that impossible. I understand the disappointment some viewers may have that there isn't more robot action, I'm right there with ya but what we get is fantastic and the rest of the movie serves up some good laughs so it's not like it's a waiting game to get to the good stuff.

The Audio & Video
Full Moon restores yet another of their video store era classics with a new full HD anamorphic widescreen transfer which gives way to a very nice looking picture and certainly the best you've seen it look in your living room. There is some speckling and very minor dirt/debris but the picture is very sharp. Detail is high in all aspects but especially in closeups of faces and set dressing which at times does reveal it to be a bit cheap in its construction - A lovable detail for sure. Colors are vibrant and skin tones are natural and fleshy with no signs of waxiness from excessive DNR. The Blu-ray is presented with 5.1 digital surround sound and it sounds very nice. The mix is solid and steady with no volume fluctuation and the score and dialogue are mixed nicely. There's no background noise or distortions to speak of.

The Extras
-The Wizard Of Wars: Remembering David Allen - 11 minute featurette with Charles Band in honor of special effects artist David Allen who did the stop motion animation on ROBOT WARS.
-Vintage 1997 Full Moon Promo
-Original Videozone featurette - A half hour behind the scenes feature straight from the VHS days of Full moon

The Bottom Line
ROBOT WARS is the exact type of movie to bring you back to your childhood of roaming the video store shelves and picking out a movie based solely on its cover. ROBOT WARS delivers exactly what's on the cover. And just take a look at that cover.

ROBOT WARS is available HERE

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Directed By: Pat Bishow
Written By: John Bishow, Lance Laurie
Starring: Pierre Devaux, Ginny Dunlevy, Louise Millmann
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: March 13, 2018

The Film
Dr. Lupesky has developed a drug that allows him to enter a corpse and possess its very soul turning it in to a reanimated murderous monster. A reporter for a small local newspaper takes on the strange case of Dr. Lupesky and vows to unravel the mysteries surrounding him and reveal his diabolical intentions.

THE SOULTANGLER was apparently shot on 16mm film but everything about it from its aesthetic to the off-the-wall plot and  wild special effects make it a perfect fit with the shot-on-video classics of the period like Killing Spree and Video Violence. There's much more care put into the special effects and makeup effects than anything else and it pays off because there's a lot of really great monster designs and effects. It may be a bit low rent and amateurish but it is also inventive and filled with passion and I love it. The plot plays out like an acid trip that sort of takes forever to get anywhere but instead of being bored in a doctor's waiting room you're enjoying the incredibly off beat and unnatural interactions everyone around you is having. All the while doctor is performing bizarre experiences and trying to enter a dead body through its eyes. Does that make sense? No? Good, you're following along just fine.

Clocking in at a full hour and a half the film is entirely too long for its own good but I didn't mind because there was always something strange going on like the several minutes spent talking about Dr. Lupesky avoiding trouble, leaving the country to study more freely in Luxembourg but returning to the USA after discovering their laboratories weren't up to his standards. This is just one example of things that could have and should have been cut from the script but they weren't. They're firmly planted in the script and my prediction that it wouldn't come back to make a damn bit of difference was true and it gave me a good chuckle. THE SOULTANGLER has plenty of moments that don't really matter but are definitely entertaining but it also has a lot of energy and while it borrows quite a bit from Re-Animator and H.P. Lovecraft  there's no way this movie gets made without ingenuity, passion and fun. And it is that fun that permeates each and every frame of the movie and transcends the screen and tangles your soul with that fun.

The Audio & Video
Released on DVD by the AGFA/Bleeding Skull and MVD Visual, SOULTANGLER has been transferred from its original 1" master tapes after apparently being shot on 16mm. Nothing about this looks like 16mm to me which probably has to do that it was edited on and transferred from 1" tape. That's perfectly fine with me I think this movie benefits from that very distinticve shot on video look and definitely fits in to that category as a movie. The image quality of the 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio is actually pretty decent and clear. Detail is marginal but the special effects look good and that's what mainly matters. There is the occasional video tracking line from the 1" tape but nothing distracting. The audio quality is listenable but gets thin and tinny when voice over work is done. There's no real distracting background noise or other distortions so overall I'm pleased with the A/V quality.

The Extras
-Previously unseen 62 Minute Director's Cut of the Film - A more streamlined version of the film that trims some of the moments that cause the film to drag.
-Audio Commentary with director Pat Bishow
-Behind The Scenes footage
-Music Video for "Wow" by Hypnolovewheel
-Booklet with an interview with director Pat Bishow

The Bottom Line
I had built up quite a movie and big expectations in my head based solely on the movie's title and plot and I'm thrilled to say that THE SOULTANGLER did not disappoint at all. This isn't for everyone but for the weirdos that love shot-on-video schlock there's no reason you shouldn't be all over this DVD!


Monday, April 23, 2018

RLJE Films Acquires Newest Puppet Master Film - "The Littlest Reich"

RLJE Films to Release the Reimagining of the Franchise Classic
 in August 2018 Following its World Premiere at The Overlook Film Festival

LOS ANGELES, April 23, 2018 – RLJE Films, a brand of RLJ Entertainment (NASDAQ: RLJE), has acquired all North American rights to highly anticipated horror movie Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich.  The reimagining of the Full Moon Features cult classic stars Thomas Lennon (TV’s “Reno 911!”), Jenny Pellicer (TV’s “Cocaine Godmother”), Nelson Franklin (TV’s “Veep”), Charlyne Yi (This is 40), Michael Pare (Eddie and the Cruisers), and Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator).  The iconic Udo Kier (Brawl in Cell Block 99) stars as the titular character.  Written by S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) and directed by Sonny Laguna (We Are Monsters) and Tommy Wiklund (Wither), RLJE Films plans to release the movie in theaters in August 2018.
Dallas Sonnier and Amanda Presmyk produced Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich for Cinestate, the Texas-based entertainment company that recently acquired Fangoria magazine.  This shall be the first feature released under the resurrected Fangoria label.  Sonnier and Zahler courted original franchise creator Charles Band for the right to produce an all new take on the idea, with Band serving as Executive Producer.

“We are incredibly excited to be able to bring the first film under the new Fangoria brand to audiences this summer,” said RLJE Films’ Chief Acquisitions Officer Mark Ward. “With an amazing script from S. Craig Zahler and performances from horror legends Barbara Crampton and Udo Kier, we know Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich will thrill fans of the original films and new audiences alike.”

In Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, recently divorced and reeling, Edgar (Lennon) returns to his childhood home to regroup his life. When Edgar finds a nefarious looking puppet in his deceased brother’s room, he decides to sell the doll for some quick cash at a small-town convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. Girl-next-door Ashley (Pellicer) and his comic book shop boss, Markowitz (Franklin), join Edgar for the doomed road trip. All hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets at the convention, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s motivated by an evil as old as time. 
In addition to the talented cast and filmmakers involved in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, the legendary Fabio Frizzi (Zombi 2The Beyond) composed the score for the movie and two-time finalist of Syfy’s FACE-OFF, Tate Steinsiek, served as puppet creator/SFX artist.

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich maintains all of the brutally inventive puppet kills infused with the comedic tendencies that made the original franchise so popular with fans, while expanding upon Toulon’s backstory and developing richer dialogue, characters, and narratives.
The original Puppet Master is an American horror movie franchise that focuses on a group of anthropomorphic puppets, each equipped with their own unique and dangerous device. Produced by Band and his Full Moon Features label, the series was established in 1989 with the eponymous first installment, which has since been followed by numerous sequels, comic books, collector's items and toys.

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was also produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura (1492) and Mark Vahradian (Transformers).  It was executive produced by Adam Donaghey (A Ghost Story), Johnathan Brownlee (The Incident at Sparrow Creek Lumber), Wayne Marc Godfrey (The Foreigner), Robert Jones (The Usual Suspects), Rick Prince (Enuattii) and Red Sanders (A Bad Idea Gone Wrong).  Frequent Laguna & Wiklund partner David Liljeblad also produced.

Friday, April 20, 2018


Directed By: Meng Hua Ho
Written By: Kuang Ni
Starring: Lieh Lo, Tony Liu, Nancy Yen
Color/82 Minutes/
Region B
Release Date: March 26, 2018

The Film
The nasty Lord Chin has tasked his longtime loyal guard Szema Chun to make the cross country trek obtain a rare medicine and return in time to cure him of the deadly skin cancer, or as described in the film's native language an evil boil called "One Hundred Birds Worshipping The Phoenix" - a much more colorful description -  afflicting him. Worried that Chun will turn his back on him Lord Chin has also hired a small gang to ride with him and kill him as soon as he obtains the medicine to return it themselves. When the crisscrossing becomes known to each other the chase begins and head's fly.

The plot may be thin in THE DRAGON MISSILE but the action is thick and production values are high. Martial arts movies with a decapitation theme were all the rage at this point with the titular Dragon Missile being a pair of boomerang blades that lop heads clean off (in a mostly bloodless fashion oddly enough) and the film itself rivaling the Flying Guillotine films and its various knockoffs. Many of these films have a bloodier outcome than the Dragon Missiles do, though there are a few select moments of the signature bright red Shaw Bros bloodshed.

While it may not have the blood factor THE DRAGON MISSILE certainly has the higher quality production than many similar movies that were coming out from companies other than Shaw Bros. There was no real competition for Shaw Bros studios when it came to production value of martial arts films and this film proves it. The sets are, many of which are interiors that shows off their deep pockets as many other similar productions would stick to exteriors as much as possible to save on lighting, set design and other associated costs and in THE DRAGON MISSILE they're lavishly decorated giving way to some exquisitely designed fight scenes. Imagine having a Kung-Fu fight in penthouse suite of the Four Seasons but in old China. The costumes are also brilliant and have that iconic Kung-fu look to them. There's nothing cheap about this production and the cast and crew certainly hold up their end of the bargain as well.

Director Meng Hua Ho (The Flying Guillotine, The Mighty Peking Man) will be a recognizable name to any seasoned martial arts film fan as he directed some very notable films for Shaw Bros during the 1970s with his career having began with extensive work in the 1960s and running all the way through the early 90s. His work here is showy and stylish as the best martial arts films are. He beautifully captures the brilliant fight choreography and the editing keeps it smooth and flowing without feeling cut up and jumpy. The ensemble cast is a veritable who's who of Shaw Bros and Hong Kong cinema with just about every face popping being one you've seen before and will undoubtedly see again with just about everyone in the cast seemingly having 100 or more screen credits. Lieh Lo is no hero but he's a very capable lead and someone we still end up cheering for because he's so badass and has such cool weapons. He shares some memorable scenes with Tony Liu my favorite of which being the ring fight scene. The cast is made of character actor after character actor and each one brings their own personality to the table so things are always fresh and that ensures that THE DRAGON MISSILE is always entertaining and fun despite being little more than an 80 minute chase scene.

Martial arts films have given us some of the most memorable fight scenes, weapon designs, and thrills in all of cinema and the Dragon Missile might be some of the coolest weapons I've seen yet. The film will probably never be considered a true classic of the genre but I do think it is an exciting adventure movie and damn did I have a lot of fun watching it.

The Audio & Video
The film has been restored from an HD master in the film's original 2.35:1 Scope aspect ratio by 88 Films and boy does it look nice. The production features a wide array of colors from the lush greens to bright blues and reds and they all look vibrant and beautiful. The colors pop just enough without burning too hot and black levels are deep and free of any compression issues. The detail level gives the silk costumes and stunning interiors extra life and depth as it allows us to see the quality in each and every piece. The film is presented in its native Chinese with a LPCM uncompressed audio track or with the English dub and English subtitles. I chose to watch the film with the English dub and it sounded crisp, clear and absolutely pleasing to the ear. There was no distortions or damage to speak of.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with Hong Kong cinema expert David West - This track features Mr. West giving a well paced and scripted commentary filled with historical facts and tidbits on the production of the film and its place in the Shaw Bros library along with extensive notes on the filmography and biography of just about every cast member that graces the screen as more than an extra. This is basically an audio encyclopedia on the film and is a really pleasing listen that even gives us some humorous moments.

-Audio Commentary with Asian cinema expert Bey Logan - Well if I didn't think the David West track could be topped I was wrong. Bey Logan is energetic and has facts and anecdotes firing fast and furious and gives a more in depth view of the production and locations. He covers some similar information as David West did on his track but I think he even adds more.

Reversible artwork is also included.

The Bottom Line
There's nobody I wouldn't recommend 88 Films' Blu-ray release of THE DRAGON MISSILE to. It's an action packed piece of martial arts goodness and for anyone that might say something crazy like "I don't like martial arts movies" well they're just plain wrong.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

MY FRIEND DAHMER (MVD Visual - Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Marc Meyers
Written By: Marc Meyers
Starring: Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Anne Heche
Color/107 Minutes/R
Region Free
Release Date: April 10, 2018

The Film
Everyone knows who Jeffrey Dahmer is and chances are you've seen some sort of true crime or documentary film about his crimes. What most of those pieces don't cover are his time in high school, the time directly leading up to the start of his years of murder. MY FRIEND DAHMER takes us face to face with Dahmer and his closest family members and friends during that crucial time that could have been make or break for a serial killer.

As the film opens Ross Lynch stars as Jeffrey Dahmer is spending most of his free time in a shed his father built for him to perform biological experiments in, mainly jarring the corpses of roadkill he has picked up in acid and watching them decompose. When Jeffrey's father begins to worry that he's getting too obsessed with his shed he tears it down and forces his son to find more socially normal activities. Jeffrey finds a group of friends who invite him in to their group after seeing him act out in a wild, mentally challenged manner for attention. The group drives around with Dahmer filming him doing his act in different areas around town such as the market and the mall while Dahmer disrupts everything around him flailing around, knocking things over and making spastic sounds. As the group gets closer to Dahmer as friends they begin to see the inner workings of his life and how bumpy and broken his family life is. As his family life crumbles Dahmer begins drinking and continuing his obsession with road kill and finding out what the inside of animals and humans look like.

MY FRIEND DAHMER was written and directed by Marc Meyers and is a sharp production. Meyers gets really great performances out the entire cast most notably from Ross Lynch and Anne Heche who plays Jeffrey's mother. Lynch really deserves any and all accolades he received as his performance was subtle and over the top in all the right ways at all the right times. Heche perfectly portrays a woman with her own mental issues in a failing marriage and with her own skewed view on her little world. She's a talented actress and has proved it for years, once again doing so here.

The film's title is a little bit funny in an ironic sort of way because the entire film feels like its sole purpose is to get you to sympathize with Jeffrey Dahmer and to, at least in part, justify his future actions. Sure he had a rough family life but plenty had rougher. And he grew up without friends for a long time but there are plenty of introverts and outcast children who had a hard time making friends. Skinning and gutting animals to watch them decompose in jars of acid isn't normal. Harming live animals isn't normal. And we shouldn't try to normalize it or sympathize with it. Sure there's plenty to be said about how his family should have noticed more and sought help for him but that is but a piece in a much larger puzzle.

I don't want to turn this review into a discussion on serial killer mentality and psyche, so I will wrap it  up commenting on the film as whole. Sadly the performances are mostly wasted on a misguided tone and a timeline that jumps haphazardly from scene to scene without any sort of organic flow. In one scene Dahmer is sneaking his dad's alcohol for the first time and in the next he shows up to school totally drunk but nothing is made of it and quickly the drinking plot point is dropped. This is how the entire film progresses with plot devices coming and going and time jumping ahead at random intervals that never really make sense. I feel that MY FRIEND DAHMER wastes a chance to be a really interesting look into the making of a serial killer as the film looks great and looks great but sometimes it's not about what you say but how you say it.

The Audio & Video
MY FRIEND DAHMER gets its home video release from MVD Visual and this Blu-ray looks fantastic. The 2.40:1 aspect ratio has a gorgeous look with striking clarity and strong colors that bring the 1970s period setting to life with excellent detail levels in both textures and surfaces. Skin tones are fleshy and natural while black levels are deep and inky. The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes and whichever option you pick will be pleasing to the ear. The audio is crisp, and perfectly mixed. There's no hiss, crackling or other distortions.

The Extras
Special features include an interview with star Ross Lynch, a behind the scenes slide show and the theatrical trailer.

The Bottom Line
MY FRIEND DAHMER is a slick looking film with good performances throughout but it is nothing more than a mishmash of scattered scenes that feel designed to make us sympathize with Jeffrey Dahmer. Rent it if you're curious.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

JOE BULLET (88 Films Blu-ray Review)

South Africa/1973
Directed By: Louis de Witt
Written By: Tonie van der Merwe
Starring: Ken Gampu, Joe Lopez, Abigail Kubeka
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: September 11, 2017

The Film
I recently met a man named Joe Bullet. Oh, you don't know Joe Bullet? Well, let me introduce you to him.

In 1973 an action packed exploitation film with an all African cast was released in South Africa and banned by the government after only a couple screenings. The movie was called JOE BULLET and starred Ken Gampu in the titular role as a well dressed ass kicker who mixes James Bond and Shaft and is tasked with tracking down the people responsible for attacks on a local soccer club who have found themselves in the championship game against the perennial favorite. Murder, backstabbing and some gratuitous soccer action make up this slice of film history that was made and subsequently banned in the heart of Apartheid era South Africa.

As a film JOE BULLET is spotty. There's plenty of fun action scenes to keep things entertaining but there's also some stretches where things get a bit boring before ramping up again. The writing features a standard plot that doesn't reinvent the wheel but it works just fine for this type of movie while the acting is also spotty. Some of these actors had little to no experience and the entire cast spoke English which wasn't always a language they were very comfortable with so it leads to some shaky dialogue. It's okay, I'm not particularly worried about award winning performances here, moreso with Ken Gampu kicking ass in outfits that usually make me break out in sweats because they're just too heavy for a sunny South African day. I get plenty of that, Gampu really does a great job being the believable hero that can take down entire corrupt organizations. Gampu's main foe is Rocky (Joe Lopez), a back stabbing man full of himself and looking to get rich. Rocky's look is one that will forever be burned into my memory like many of the best viallains are. His face glistening with sweat (this could be said for anyone in the production at any given time), his devious smile showing his missing teeth and his single froth tooth that hangs down far passed the point it should. Pair his look with his diabolical laughing and he's an exploitation villain not to be soon forgotten.

JOE BULLET is raw, very rough around the edges and far from polished. I love it for these reasons and find its imperfections to be a wonderful look into not letting anything stand in your way, including the bullshit laws of Apartheid. JOE BULLET was quickly confiscated and tucked away for decades because it saw a black man handling a fire arm and driving a sports car. The film itself is not political and doesn't have a political message behind it but that doesn't stop it from having a powerful and important legacy that will only grow as more and more people become aware and lay their eyes on it. Imperfect as it may be it has a definite charm that draws the audience in and is filled with interesting locations and exciting action. Joe Bullet is a bad man and JOE BULLET is something I highly recommend you seek out now that you finally have the chance.

The Audio & Video
Before I go into the details on my opinion on how the disc looks and sounds I want to say that I think the most important part of this release is that it exists and the film has been preserved by 88 Films.

The film has been restored from two surviving 16mm prints in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio with varying results. The transfer is rough at times with damage and scratches throughout but other times when the image is cleaner is looks pretty decent. Colors fluctuate from strong with a lush look to a a bit faded and washed out. That's the nature of this transfer throughout - hit and miss but never so bad that it becomes unwatchable. I'm very satisfied with how it looks when all things are considered and will happily revisit it time and time again.

The 2.0 stereo audio mix is more consistent than the video with a clean presentation for the majority of the film. It isn't a particularly strong or dynamic mix by nature so don't expect it to give your audio system any sort of work out but you won't have any issues with fluctuating volume or instances where you can't decipher dialogue.

The Extras
An audio commentary track with writer/producer Tonie van der Merwe, Benjamin Cowley of Gravel Road Films and Callum Waddel. The key to this track is having Tonie van der Merwe on the panel who offers direct insight into the production and history of the film from someone that was as hands on as you could be with it. Cowley and Waddel also bring great information to the table as well from a more historical context. The track is well paced and a pleasant listen.

A trailer rounds out the special features.

The Bottom Line
This is why physical media matters. Movies like JOE BULLET are the reason we need to keep physical media alive. There's thousands of lost, abandoned and forgotten films out there that deserve releases and to be seen and I don't think most studios care enough even to dump them on to a streaming service. Support the labels you love and there will be more releases like JOE BULLET.

JOE BULLET is available HERE

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

OFFERINGS (88 FILMS Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Christopher Reynolds
Written By: Christopher Reynolds
Starring: Loretta Leigh Bowman, Elizabeth Greene, G. Michael Smith
Color/94 Minutes/Not Rated
Region B
Release Date: April 9, 2018

The Film
OFFERINGS is a movie that features one of those covers that jumped out from video store shelves and whether you rented it over and over or never did you certainly remember that image of the killer holding a package dripping with blood. It certainly made my imagination run wild with ideas of what the movie would be like for years until finally seeing it and finding out that OFFERINGS, like many other later 80s slasher films was a mishmash of slasher tropes and took plenty of ideas from better films.

John is a mute boy being raised by his crude mother who may or may not have murdered his father. She's verbally and emotionally abusive and doesn't care much at all for her son stooping to disgusting acts like ashing her cigarette into his scrambled eggs. This all plays a role into his damaged mind which drives him to harm animals. John's only friend in the world is Gretchen who tries to protect him from bullies but even she can't stop them from daring John to walk around the edge of a well where he eventually falls in. John eventually finds himself locked in a mental ward after authorities found him chewing on the remains of his mother he had just murdered. After ten years of confinement John snaps and escapes the hospital confines and head's for his hometown to take revenge on the boys that tormented him that day at the well.

The slasher well was damn near dry by the time OFFERINGS came about with the glory days in the rear view mirror. The studios were still churning out the body count films and so were independent producers. Shot in Oklahoma by first time writer/director Christopher Reynolds, OFFERINGS definitely shows its home grown roots. The 16mm photography is a bit grainier than the 35mm photography of studio productions and effects are crude. This does lend a bit of attitude and rawness to the film that I think it needed because it wasn't going to get by on a story that borrows more plot points from John Carpenter's Halloween than Reynold's Lawyers (assuming he had any) should have been comfortable with. Reynolds was not the the director that Carpenter is but he still competently put together a decent little movie that gets by scene to scene. OFFERINGS manages to stay entertaining despite being relatively goreless with many kills occurring off screen. The best kill which involves a head in a vice clamp is still effective using only the shadows cast on the wall for impact. This scene was well executed despite the budgetary constraints that undoubtedly prevented Reynolds from creating a prosthetic head.

The rest of the golden moments from the film rely more on the charm and quirkiness of the film rather than particularly skilled or inventive filmmaking. The dog food scene may be the best in the entire film and gave me a good, deep belly laugh. It was a welcomed intentional laugh from a movie that plays itself almost deadpan serious throughout despite having some silly moments. The pizza party scene is also a fun gross out moment that should get a nice squirm and squeal from the audience who are viewing the film for the first time while veterans of the movie can smile on slyly because they know that ain't sausage.

OFFERINGS is a last gasp in the slasher genre, a breath that the genre couldn't draw deep enough from to revive itself but one that had some heart behind it even if it was just trying to copy what the bigger, deeper breaths that came before it did.

The Audio & Video
88 Films has created a new 2K restoration from the original 16mm negative and it looks solid overall. The 16mm photography limits just how sharp the picture can be but I think the transfer brings out quite a bit of detail that you certainly didn't see in the film's VHS releases where it gained a bit of video store infamy. Colors are vibrant and natural while skin tones are healthy and fleshy and black levels are deep with no compression or pixelation issues.

The Extras
Aside from a trailer for the film the lone special feature is an audio commentary track from The Hysteria Continues, a group of slasher lovers who have a popular podcast series on the genre. The track is lively but ultimately hit or miss in terms of content as most of the useful insight and information comes from one of them with the rest chiming in various opinions. They do seem genuinely excited to discuss the film which is nice but the free form conversation format isn't the best way to handle an audio commentary when the commentary team wasn't involved in making the film.

The Bottom Line
Slasher fans will finally have a chance to get their hands on OFFERINGS and it's presented quite nicely. This is how you'll want to see the film without a doubt.

OFFERINGS is available HERE

CLOSED Blumhouse's Truth Or Dare Challenge & Giveaway CLOSED

We're not playing the game, it's playing us!

A harmless game of "Truth or Dare" among friends turns deadly when someone--or something-- begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse the dare.
Blumhouse's Truth or Dare starring Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) opens in theaters Friday the 13th!

To celebrate the release of this terrifying new film we have a Truth Or Dare Blog Challenge App and Giveaway!

Play the game if you dare! Grab a friend and take the Truth or Dare Challenge to see who survives and then enter to win!

Play The Game Here

After you've played the game enter to win by following these easy steps:
1. Email me at - Include "Truth or Dare" in the subject line
2. Include your full address (US and Canada only!)
3. Tell me what is the ultimate truth or dare you'd never admit or do! 

Winner Picked on 4/20! 

Monday, April 2, 2018

SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Enzo G. Castellari
Written By: Tito Carpi, Enzo G. Castellari
Starring: Lou Ferrigno, John Steiner, Roland Wybenga
Color/93 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: February 6, 2018

The Film
A young prince recruits the aid of Sinbad and his shipmates which include a viking, and a samurai are recruited by Prince Ali to rescue the princess who has been kidnapped by the evil Jaffar in order to marry her. Jaffar also has magic gems that help generate his powers and has them spread across the land guarded by various evil creatures. After escaping Jaffar's torture chamber Sinbad and his crew set sail to gain control of the magic gems and strip Jaffar of his evil powers.

SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is as a bed time story being narrated by Daria Nicolodi who has constant voice overs describing the action we see on screen. It's clunky and even if the story would be  a bit bumpy and choppy without it, it's unnecessary. Luckily it doesn't matter because this is a whimsical romp into fantasyland. Lou Ferrigno has stated that this movies was one of his favorite movies to make and it shows every second he's on screen. You can tell he's having a blast as the legendary sailor and he's perfect for the role. Ferrigno is ripped, jacked and cut. He looks the part and while he's not going to win any awards for his acting abilities he's the perfect mound of muscle to cheer on as he fights demons, rock monsters and all of the other perils and pitfalls he encounters along the way. His sidekicks add a bit of fun as well with some sword play and martial arts action to mix things up a bit but Ferrigno really is the main course as Sinbad.

Enzo Castellari is known for successfully making films in whatever genre was trendy at the moment in Italy. Whether it be war and actioners or spaghetti westerns and even gialli, Castellari was able to craft really great, or at least very entertaining pictures in whatever genre gave him work. SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is more along the lines of the latter. It would be easy to rip this thing apart as much of the acting is stilted or totally overblown, the writing jumps from scene to scene with little flow and it claims to be based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Thousand And Second Tale Of Scheherazade" without resembling that story at all except maybe for a balloon scene. SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS simply asks for you to not expect too much except for fun. Castellari nailed the most integral thing in making this movie a success and that's sheer entertainment value. The action and fantasy in this movie are silly but pure at heart. I dare you to watch Sinbad pick up a demon creature and swing him around over his head knocking out several other demon creatures and not smile ear to ear. It is delightful and it's that childhood feeling I get while watching it that makes the bedtime story narrative angle passable even if it gets intrusive at times. SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is like gathering a few friends in the park or playground and each picking a different character to pretend to be and you battle for supremacy of the rope bridge and the twisty slide except it was done on sound stages and you weren't jacked like Lou Ferrigno when you were 7 years old playing on the jungle gym.

The Audio & Video
Kino Lorber brings SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS to Blu-ray for the first time with an anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks good though the master is obviously a bit older which leaves room for improvement. The film has a wide array of colors in its palette and they're bright and vivid and are my favorite aspect of the picture quality of this disc. Detail levels are adequate but even at their best during tight shots and close ups they still lack that really fine detail. Skin tones look healthy and natural and the clarity is pretty good with just a bit of speckling and light imperfections that are par for the course with many Kino titles. I'm not in love with the transfer but I am satisfied with it.

The audio quality features an English dub track in a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that sounds good. The dub track is typical for Italian productions of the period and make for a strong presence in the mix that is always front and center. The score comes through nicely though with the levels mixed well. The tracks is crisp and clear with little in the way of imperfections or background noise.

The Extras
A theatrical trailer makes up the entirety of the special features.

The Bottom Line
It doesn't take more than a glance at who directed this film and who stars in it to realize it's probably going to be an exercise in campy fantasy storytelling and it is, but in all the right ways. For all of its flaws SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS is a light hearted adventure flick full of laughs and thrills and I'm a fan.