Tuesday, May 29, 2018

MOON CHILD (Cult Epics Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Agusti Villaronga
Written By: Agusti Villaronga
Starring: Enrique Saldana, Maribel Martin, Lisa Gerrard
Color/120 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: April 24, 2018

The Film
In 1986 Spanish director Agusti Villaronga stormed onto the scene with his film In A Glass Cage, a masterpiece of a horror thriller that is sure to ruin your day and put you in a terrible mood. I mean this in the best possible way. It is difficult to follow up a masterful debut as expectations will inevitably be high and Villaronga challenged himself with a much less straight forward story in MOON CHILD which is based on the Aleister Crowley book of the same name and a much bigger production as well.

MOON CHILD stars Enrique Saldana as David, a 12 year old boy who has been adopted by a scientific cult who has stockpiled children with psychic abilities in their compound. David has psychic abilities and has been told by an elder at the orphanage that he is the Moon Child, a prophesized God to an African tribe. The cult intends to use the children they have adopted to find the perfect genetic pairing to bear a child who they have impregnated with the power of the moon to create their own Moon Child. David escapes with the two selected to be the parents including Georgina (Lisa Gerrard) who David believes to be his mother and enter a transcontinental journey to escape the cult enduring love, loss, death and spiritual awakenings along the way.

Agusti Villaronga spectacularly weaves us through a kaleidoscope of mind bending images, locations full of and devoid of emotion and life, moody music from Dead Can Dance and ideas that will give your mind a workout. Villaronga is obviously more concerned with creating a journey for the viewer's subconcious than he is creating a neatly packaged narrative that gives us a beginning, middle and end despite there being a clear beginning, middle and end. The story is clear cut but it's more about the ideas, both the basic terrestrial ideas and the proposition of metaphysical ones that drive MOON CHILD to be something special. While most films would have us immediately concerned about David's escape from the cult the viewer is instead pondering the idea of his destiny as the El Nino De La Luna and what it means to be a god, worship a god and what powers the stars may hold over us.

MOON CHILD works because it the cast is quite good to go along with the deeper artistic ideas and expressions from Villaronga. Villaronga also gets the absolute most out of his locations from the seemingly endless pale white walls of the cult compound to the beautiful sands and rock caves of the African lands. MOON CHILD certainly feels like a bigger production than it may have been. Therein lies its slight downfall as well. I think the scope and breadth of the film and the concepts contained within made the simple emotional connection that I felt with the characters in In A Glass Cage fall by the way side. In A Glass Cage is a masterpiece because of how it can move the viewer emotionally as I stated before, completely ruin your day. MOON CHILD would never have that same reaction but it could have a similar impact on the viewer substituting sorrow and disgust for something more contemplative but I never quite got that emotional connection with David or any of the other characters at least not to the point that would elevate MOON CHILD from something quite good to something truly exceptional. Maybe I cursed myself by comparing MOON CHILD to In A Glass Cage, something I eluded to happening previously but I couldn't help myself as this was the first Agusti Villaronga film I have seen besides his debut film. It will be interesting to see how MOON CHILD fares after I've seen more of the director's work but for now it may not be another masterpiece but it is a very worthwhile piece of surrealist cinema.

The Audio & Video
Cult Epics has brought MOON CHILD to Blu-ray with a new HD transfer from the original 35mm negatives and the picture quality matches the impressive photography of the film. There's a healthy grain structure that maintains a natural film look. Colors are vivid and vibrant when needed such as the stark whites of the cult's headquarters and black levels are properly deep with no signs of compression issues or blocking. Detail levels are strong as well. The Spanish audio is presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital mix with optional English subtitles. The audio is crisp and gives way to a perfect mix between the moody and perhaps overlooked soundtrack and the dialogue. There's no signs of background noise, popping, crackling or other distortions. Cult Epics has done right by MOON CHILD.

Please note: The images in this review have been taken from the DVD version of the film and do not represent the picture quality of the Blu-ray.

The Extras
The extras include an interview with writer/director Agusti Villaronga that is brand new for 2018 and covers everything from Villaronga's career to more specific topics about MOON CHILD and even what he and Guillermo Del Toro think of each other. It even includes a still picture of Villaronga signing the Blu-ray artwork which will serve as proper evidence for those that purchase the limited edition autographed version.

Also included is a still gallery featuring a number of lobby cards and the isolated soundtrack by Dead Can Dance.

The Bottom Line
MOON CHILD is a feast for the sense and a treat for the mind. For anyone looking for something that channels the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky or Fernando Arrabal look no further than this excellent release from Cult Epics.

MOON CHILD is available HERE

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Comet TV Monster Summer Giveaway

COMET TV Monster Summer Giveaway! Godzilla, Rodan and Giant Gila Monsters! Oh My!

Do you hear that… It sounds like… A… ROAR!
That’s because it’s MONSTER SUMMER! The biggest, baddest and most fire-breathing summer ever!
Starting on Memorial Day weekend and… All Summer Long… COMET TV is bringing the heat with Godzilla, Reptilicus, Mechagodzilla and even a few Astro-Monsters for good measure!
Every Sunday, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day weekend, Monster Summer has it going on!
But we’re not going to leave you without a little something to beat the heat…
We want to give you the opportunity to have an awesome summer of your own! The COMET TV Monster Summer Prize Pack is perfect for catching some rays or stopping a fire breathing beast!
We’re giving you a chance to do a giveaway for a lucky reader to win one! Say wha? I know! You can run the contest anyway you like, a lot of people use rafflecopter, etc…

The Comet TV Monster Summer Prize Pack has:
1 - Limited Edition Monster Summer Beach Towel: Only available via this promotion, catch Godzilla having a blast with one of two designs. You’ll be the envy of your friends and have some extra protection if a monster comes from the depths to destroy the planet. Score!
1 - COMET TV Monster Summer SPF Pouch: Beat the rays with this Monster Summer SPF pouch. Apply liberally to ward off the sun, The Beast from the Haunted Cave, Rodan or any other variety of lizard-like beast.
1- COMET TV Cooler: Listen, even Godzilla needs a place to keep his brews chill. Let’s be honest, he needs to beat the heat at some point. I can see him carrying this cool-as-fire bag around to crack open a cold one.
1 - COMET TV Monster Summer Beach-Tastic Ball: Are you a ball-er? I hope so, cause you need to grab some buds, jump in the pool and play with this Godzilla Monster Summer Beach Ball. Groovy!
2 - Exclusive COMET TV Film Cards: See what COMET TV has this month, with these collector’s cards. Perfect for the Godzilla fan, the Monster-man, or the COMET TV junkie if your life!
1. Send an email to CelluloidTerror@yahoo.com and title it "Monster Summer Giveaway"
2. Tell me your favorite giant monster movie and include your full address
3. US Entrants Only

About COMET Monster Summer 2018

Typical summer activities generally include outdoor BBQs, trips to the beach, and taking dips in swimming pools, but Godzilla fans may choose to stay indoors this summer thanks to COMET’s “Monster Summer” event!

Beginning May 27, COMET will be airing a double-header of classic monster movies every Sunday throughout the summer, with the first film each night featuring your favorite giant lizard and the second starring some lesser-known beasts. The Godzilla films featured run the gamut from his 1954 debut Gojira, to the silly Son of Godzilla, to the kaiju overload of Destroy All Monsters. As for the other monsters featured, you can look forward to campy classics like the King Kong/Frankenstein hybrid Konga, the Korean Godzilla equivalent Yongary, Monster from the Deep, and the legendary — thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000 — Reptilicus.

Sundays 8/7C
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Phantom from 10,000 Leagues
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
Creature of Destruction
Terror of Mechagodzilla
The Beast from Haunted Cave
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
Yongary, Monster From The Deep
Destroy All Monsters
Destroy All Planets
Son of Godzilla
Godzilla vs. Megalon
War of the Gargantuas
Attack of the Monsters
Destroy all Monsters
Monster from a Prehistoric Planet
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Monster from the Surf
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
It's Alive!
Terror of Mechagodzilla
Voyage into Space
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
The Giant Gila Monster
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II
The Giant Claw

Friday, May 25, 2018

THE ORCHARD END MURDER (Redemption Films Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Christian Marnham
Written By: Christian Marnham
Starring: Tracy Hyde, David Wilkinson, Mark Hardy
Color/49 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: March 6, 2018

The Film
A young woman (Tracy Hyde) visits a rural village to watch her boyfriend play cricket and make love with him in the woods between his turns at bat. When his number is called to take the field she goes off exploring the village and finds a little cottage with a gnome garden and is invited in for tea by the hunchbacked man that lives there and runs the train station for the town. While having tea she's scared by the man's brutish friend who brings a rabbit into the house and kills it by slamming it on the table before bringing it outside to skin. Soon after she agrees to take a tour of the orchard with the brutish man which leads to the man attempting to rape and eventually murdering the girl and burying her in a pile of apples. When the police begin their hunt for the missing girl the two men devise a plan to bring the body home and bury it in a place the authorities have already searched.

THE ORCHARD END MURDER has all the ingredients for a memorable and well executed exploitation film- Capable filmmaking, acting that is better than average, eye-catching sets and locations, nasty situations (in this case attempted rape and murder), and a couple of interesting characters. It's all there so why don't I love it? Well at only 49 minutes it doesn't give the movie any time to breathe which we need here. We're immediately thrown from girl being murdered to body being moved and buried. The film feels as if there's chunks missing linking scenes together fluidly so we're left with a choppy, jumpy movie. An additional half hour or forty five minutes would not only allow the film to breathe a bit and give time to those scenes that keep the film flowing smoothly but it would have allowed plenty of time to make this movie something more. What that more is could go a number of ways. It could have allowed for more killings and violence, it could have spent time building more suspense and tension around our killer and his accomplice as the suspicion grows or it could have given us the big payoff of her boyfriend getting some revenge on his lover's killer. Perhaps with a cricket bat to link the beginning and ending scenarios. That would have been great. Instead we're left with a film that's mostly all there but still feels incomplete.

It's not that what we get is bad because it isn't. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw but the film left me unsatisfied. I didn't want more I needed it. The film needs more from substance to simple scenes linking events to keep it from being jarring. I'm puzzled by THE ORCHARD END MURDER because there's plenty I want to praise but there's just as much that I simply wish existed.

The Audio & Video
Redemption Films and Kino deliver a Blu-ray that some might say is more than a short feature intended as the B side of double feature bills deserves but I think it's just Redemption keeping up their typically high standards. The anamorphic widescreen transfer boasts strong detail and a healthy color palette. Skin tones are natural as well. There is some speckling and light imperfections as no extensive restoration work to the source material has been done but that doesn't stop the transfer from looking quite nice. The audio is presented in an uncompressed 2.0 stereo track and sounds crystal clear. The sound is crisp and pleasing with a proper mix across both channels and between the dialogue and score.

The Extras
-Interview with director Christian Marnham
-Interview with star Tracy Hyde
-Interview with star David Wilkinson
-"The Showman" - 25 minute documentary short film by Christian Marnham
-Christian Marnham on "The Showman"

The Bottom Line
THE ORCHARD END MURDER could probably be best described as something for exploitation junkies to seek out as something new that they haven't seen before and realize how close it comes to being something much bigger and better.


Thursday, May 17, 2018


Phillippines, USA/1972
Directed By: Eddie Romero
Written By: Jerome Small, Eddie Romero
Starring: John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin
Color/81 Minutes/PG
Region Free
Release Date: March 13, 2018

The Film
The Island Of Dr. Moreau had been adapted a number of times before Filipino film royalty Eddie Romero tried his hand in 1972 and while it may not be most polished adaptation I've ever seen it definitely leaves its mark as a worthwhile entry into the lure of Dr. Moreau.

John Ashley stars as Matt Farrell, a man who is kidnapped by Neva while diving and taken to the island compound of her father Dr. Gordon who is experimenting in creating a master race by combining human and animal genetics. Neva has problems with some of her father's methods and after a failed experiment she begins to fall in love with Matt and frees him and the other animal people which leads to Dr. Gordon and his security to hunting them through the island forest.

THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE is pretty evenly broken up in to two halves, the laboratory and the jungle hunt. The first half offers a bit of science fiction and mad scientist type fun but the second half of the film is really where the movie picks up the pace and becomes a minor cult classic. The animal people get more of the spotlight in the second half as they're lead through the wilderness by Neva and have to fight for survival while being hunted and also fight their own animal instincts to not hurt each other or Matt and Neva. The first half of the movie is slow and really could use a bit more action. It's very talky and boring in stretches. I think the movie could have been a true cult classic had the movie been more evenly distributed and not so loaded in the back end.

The film is solid even with sluggish pacing which is no surprise with Eddie Romero directing as even when the movies were cheap (and they usually were) he made entertaining genre films. The special effects makeup are one of the highlights of film seeing all of the various human-animal hybrids and getting to see Pam Grier as the Panther Woman was a nice treat. THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE is flawed but fun, and at only 81 minutes once you really settle in you're just about to the best parts anyways so sit back and enjoy the Moreau madness.

The Audio & Video
VCI delivers THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE to Blu-ray with a new 2K restoration that has its ups and downs. Detail can be quite good with excellent clarity and definition in skin lines, hair and other textures. Coloring has a wide range from naturally lush and vivid to a bit washed out and at times having a strong yellow hue over the picture. More often than not the color is decent though. There are some scratches and speckling and various imperfections that keep the film from looking amazing but for a film such as THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE I think the good outweighs the bad and the imperfections didn't hamper my enjoyment of watching the movie. The audio on the disc is presented in a mono PCM track that sounds good for a simple mix. The audio never becomes distorted or unpleasant to listen to while the levels are mixed well between the music and dialogue.

The Extras
The big extra is an interview with Eddie Romero that runs nearly an hour long. This is a priceless clip for exploitation fans filled with all sorts of great stories and recollections from the king of Filipino exploitation. This addition to the disc makes it a must own for anyone that is interested in filmmaking history.

Also included is an audio commentary track with film historian David Del Valle and filmmaker David DeCouteau along with TV spots and a theatrical trailer.

The Bottom Line
TWILIGHT PEOPLE is an entertaining jungle romp that stands tall in a sea of adaptations of The Island Of Dr. Moreau.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Peter Duffell
Written By: Robert Bloch
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt
Color/102 Minutes/PG
Region Free
Release Date: May 8, 2018

Ahh Amicus Productions, because Hammer wasn't enough we were blessed with Amicus who, if Hammer was the star of the show, Amicus would be his leading lady. Amicus may not have been quite as good or renowned as Hammer but they were and still are a beloved part of horror history and put out some great films including plenty with Hammer's own poster boys Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Not the least of which was 1971's THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, an anthology film from writer Robert Bloch (Psycho, Torture Garden) and directed by Peter Duffell who spent most of his directorial career making TV shows which may have lended a hand to the success of this anthology film that features a handful of short stories revolving around a sinister home whose tenants fate's usually end in misery.

In the film's wraparound segment John Bryan portrays A.J. Stoker, a real estate agent who has been contacted by Scotland Yard after a the house's most recent tenant, a famous actor, has mysteriously disappeared and he tells the detective of the sinister history surrounding the house which leads to four tales adapted from short stories that had previously been published in magazines such as Weird Tales and Unknown dating back as early as 1939. The stories feature Peter Cushing in a story of a macabre waxwork museum that features the statue of a woman he once knew and Christopher Lee as the single father of a young daughter that may not be the sweet innocent child she seems to be. The other stories include a tale of murder and betrayal when a writer and his wife move into the home only for the man to be tormented by a character he wrote in his new story and a famous horror movie actor that may turn in to a real vampire when he dons his newly acquired antique cape only for his co-star (played by the legendary Ingrid Pitt) to discover. As the film's tagline states, "Terror waits for you in every room in THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD!"

Funnily enough there's not a single drop of blood in the film. The film's PG rating is quite appropriate as it doesn't rely on blood or sex to sell the picture. It takes a capable cast a few tried and true stories and turns it into an entertaining anthology film perfect for a Saturday afternoon. THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD doesn't feature the most original story but it's put together competently and produced with the sort of familiar and comforting form that fans of gothic horror and Amicus specifically can curl up with on the couch and enjoy. THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is campy at times and creepy in others the perfect balance that will allow long time fans to enjoy time and time again while also being a good stepping stone for younger fans to dip their toes into more serious horror fare that doesn't get to explicit with nudity or violence. Don't let that fool you or turn you off if you haven't seen the film before because I equate THE HOUSE THE DRIPPED BLOOD to a bowl of macaroni and cheese; it's not the newest or most exciting creation but it's something that you keep coming back to over and over again year after year and it's perfect to share with someone.

That's the perfect analogy I think. When you get tired of the big, loud and typically dumb new creations at the latest hipster filled gastropub THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is a bowl of mac and cheese, it brings you back to your roots.

Scream Factory has finally given us the long overdue Blu-ray debut of THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD and while they don't give any insight into the transfer work done to the film it looks excellent and seems to be a pretty recent master and not one that is a decade old. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer features a warm filmic look with excellent detail and color reproduction which are vivid and lively. Black levels are deep and inky with no signs of compression or blocking. Skin tones are natural and healthy with no waxiness. There's no signs of edge enhancement or excessive DNR. The English audio is presented in a DTS-HD mono mix and sounds magnificent. The quality is pleasing the to the ear with no distortions or background noise and the mix is perfect with steady levels and no fluctuations in volume that will have you trying to find the remote over and over.

-New audio commentary with author Troy Howarth
-Audio commentary with director Peter Duffell
-New interview with Second Assistant Director Mike Higgins
-"A-Rated Horror Film" - Featurette with interviews with director Peter Duffell and actors Geoffrey Bayldon, Ingrid Pitt and Chloe Franks
-Theatrical Trailers
-Radio Spots
-Still Gallery

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is a classic of Amicus and I'm thrilled to finally have this chiller on Blu-ray and in such a nice edition. Highly recommended!


Thursday, May 3, 2018

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Bruno Mattei
Written By: Ambrogio Malteni, Claudio Fragasso
Starring: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Maria Romano
Color/99 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: May 8, 2018

The Film
I love women-in-prison films and I love the Emanuelle films. Laura Gemser is a goddess and a legend of exploitation film. Add in that Bruno Mattei signature flair for trash and we have a winner.

Larua Gemser stars yet again as Emanuelle, a character she would portray well over a dozen times either officially or unofficially in her career, a reporter who has taken it upon herself to get the inside scoop on a prison notorious for abuse, torture and corruption but quickly becomes subjected to the sexual and physical abuses. After a nasty encounter with a horde of rats while in solitary confinement Emanuelle and the prison's doctor (Gabriele Tinti) begin to fall for each other with each confiding in the other. We learn that the doctor has been forced to work at the prison as a result of being convicted for murdering his wife when he euthanized her to end her suffering from cancer. The duo make a pact  to escape and expose the prison for all of its wrongdoings but the head warden (Lorraine De Salle) has no plans to let that happen.

Bruno Mattei has made some of the sleaziest and cheesiest exploitation and horror films to ever come out of Italy but there's nothing cheesy about VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON. The film does feature some properly placed and timed comedy but it's very lightly sprinkled in on an otherwise cold and extremely unwelcoming stint in prison hell. From the sexual degradation to rape and big, biting rats this prison offers nothing in the way of fun, not even for a gay man in the men's section of the facility. This character offers up something a bit unexpected and definitely a character to sympathize with but his character's full circle is an interesting one as he is usually victimized by meaner and badder men but when the men turn their attention to a woman putting on a show for them from her cell's window he takes offense and is upset that he's no longer the center of their attention. This turns into a cruel beating before the guards break it up. This character shows the darkest side of prison but how it can be personally rationalized as a yearning for attention and companionship in even the most despicable conditions.

The cast of the film is quite good on the whole. Gemser and Tinti turn in their typically solid performance and their real life relationship translates into easy and organic chemistry on screen. They're a duo the audience will genuinely care about and cheer for against the nasty warden, who is brilliantly portrayed by Lorraine De Salle as a true bitch who uses her power for her own gain including drugs and pleasures of the flesh. It's not an easy road to complete with torture and death around every corner and seeing the lovely Laura Gemser covered in nasty rat bites is heart breaking and makes me want to stomp out every dirty sewer rat I ever come across just in case their uncle or cousin was one of the little fuckers that caused such pain and sickness on her but getting to the end proves to be not only entertaining but altogether satisfying.

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is packed with corruption, rape, lesbianism, violence and plain old sleaze. Bruno Mattei was at the top of his game with this one and created one of my favorite  women-in-prison films.

The Audio & Video
Severin Films has restored VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON with a new 2K scan from the original interpositive with great results. The Blu-ray has great overall clarity and definition despite some light scratches and speckling. The colors are true to life and vivid when they should be and skin tones are natural and fleshy with no signs of waxiness or excessive DNR. Black levels are properly deep and free of compression or blocking issues. This movie has definitely never looked better on home video.

The film's audio is presented in an English HD mono track that has a bit of background noise but never gets distracting or annoying and otherwise sounds crisp and mixed perfectly so that the dialogue and music compliment each other.

PLEASE NOTE: The screenshots included in this review DO NOT represent the Blu-ray quality and are included only for reference.

The Extras
-"Brawl In Women's Block" - Interview with Co-writers Claudio Fragasso and Rosella Drudi - This half hour interview with the duo covers everything from their rather hilarious meeting at a cinema club to their marriage and time spent working on this film and others including plenty of work with Bruno Mattie. It's a lively, funny and really informative interview giving good background insight into not only this film but their careers and time in the Italian film industry as a whole.

The Bottom Line
You want the bottom line? VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is one of the nastiest and most entertaining women-in-prison films around and this release is fucking awesome. That's the bottom line.