Blu-Ray Review: The Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer BR Ha. Way back in 1970 or so, someone should have told newbie director and pizza shop maven Tom Hanson that the Zodiac Killer has a far better chance to be caught alive during a screening of Dirty Harry than dead asleep at Hanson’s eyeball-rolling (yet pretty potent on occasion) The Zodiac Killer. While the film has some genuinely scary moments in replicating some of the more infamous murders, it’s also loaded with chuckle-worthy performances and a couple of hilarious made-up deaths that might have you choking on your popcorn.

Make no mistake, ladies and gents. This isn’t a “great” film by any means. But thanks to AGFA and Something Weird Video, we have a nice 4K restoration that still retains a certain grainy, grimy charm. Well, about as “charming” as you can get in a film explicitly meant to taunt and catch a notorious serial killer.

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Blu-Ray Review: Werewolf Woman

WerewolfWoman_BRWith most exploitation films, it’s best to jump in cold and hang on for dear life because over-scrutinizing every frame can mean missing out on what a film really has to offer. Flaws and logic gaps are commonplace as many genre films tend to be rushed (or pay homage to earlier rushed flicks) and rely on copious nudity, sexual content, and/or graphic violence to make their points. Of course, that’s probably one reason why they’re so appreciated by those of us with time to spend watching as many as we can fit into out libraries. You know who you are, so wave that flag proudly, pal.

On the other hand, a film like Rino Di Silvestro’s 1976 Werewolf Woman (aka The Legend of the Wolf Woman, among other titles) demands to be scrutinized (warts and all) because under that copious nudity, et cetera is a film whose director fully believed in the subject matter (Clinical Lycanthropy) and yep, decided to tackle it head on as a full on exploitation flick. While it’s a film that’s got quite a nasty, depressing bite to it when all it said and done, you can kind of see through all the sleaze that the director was trying to slap some sort of psychological depth into the proceedings.

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Blu-Ray Review: Doberman Cop

Doberman CopYou may (or may not) confuse Doberman Cop with Wolf Guy for some reason and nope, I’d not fault you one bit if you haven’t seen either film and draw that incorrect conclusion. The former film has nothing to do with the latter other than both films were adapted from popular manga and greatly transformed as a result by their respective writers and directors.

In the case of Kinji Fujusaku’s 1977 flick, it’s a far better made movie once again featuring Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba doing his own stunts, loads of violence (but less nudity) and a weird dip into supernatural detecting as a means of solving a series of serial killings. While crackling with a crazy energy, there are a few logic gaps if you pay close enough attention between Fujisaku’s trademark hard-boiled violence that don’t harm the film, but the narrative suffers as a result.

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Blu-Ray Review: Wolf Guy

Wolf Guy_AV088 (Large) While comic book movies are a dime a dozen these days, it’s a pretty damn expensive enterprise launching one of those overblown popcorn flicks to an increasingly jaded audience. The funny thing is, sometimes the el cheapo route works best in delivering pure bang for a lot less bucks. But of course, we’re stuck in the era of major studios refusing to do anything on a small scale without wrecking it with interference of some sort by throwing either too much or not enough money into marketing depending on the project’s potential.

Which is kind of why Wolf Guy makes for such a stupidly thrilling alternative to the current Hollywood template. Japanese film studios had been adapting all sorts of manga for years, so Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 film isn’t all that special. In fact, it never rises above pure exploitation fodder where you flip your brain off and hang on for dear life. But the over the top (in-camera) gore effects, copious nudity, and totally bizarre plot make it a crazed breath of fresh air that’s worth a look. Granted, you’ll want to watch the special features just to get your money’s worth as this film isn’t going to win any awards for making much sense.

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Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

independence_day_resurgence_xlgWe really didn’t need a sequel to Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, but one got made anyway. The first film was a big, loud and (at the time) expensive chunk of mindless summer fun that grossed over $800 million at the box office and paved the way for even more mindless blockbusters that featured cardboard characters, paper-thin plots, and more (and questionably “better”) computer generated effects. I liked it enough to see it four times (hey, those visual effects were pretty stunning back then) and later bought it on VHS, lenticular insert card and all.

The 20 years too late sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence ups the ante considerably by making everything bigger, dumber, faster and louder to the point that it’s a mind-numbing, confusing mess from start to finish. Hey, if you like your popcorn movies quite popcorn-y and don’t mind two solid hours of a simplistic yet convoluted plot, by the numbers acting and countless millions (or billions, it’s hard to tell) killed before the end credits, I’m not here to poop on your parade at all.

On the other hand, I want some actual science back in my science fiction. And physics. And something resembling a comprehensible plot that doesn’t insult what little intelligence I have left. None of those are here and the film’s way too cheery ending promising an even bigger and more bombastic third entry ends up dooming this “franchise” to maybe network TV movie or limited series status at best (that is, if someone at Fox has the brains to even think of going that safer route).

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Random Film of the Week: Corruption


 

As mad scientist flicks go, Corruption is something of a forgotten classic in its own crazy manner. You get the great Peter Cushing out of his usual period piece horrors playing a successful plastic surgeon in a more modern 60’s setting, some surprisingly shocking (by mid 60’s standards) content and a laser gone haywire in a finale that may elicit some chuckles from forward thinking Star Wars fans. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cushing go full-tilt, over the top into scenery chomping territory, this one won’t disappoint one bit. While there are some slow expository moments here, the overall film is an interesting slice of horror that while not wholly original, ends up being pretty memorable on a few fronts.

(Thanks, groovemaster!)
 

After the swingin’ credit sequence, we meet Cushing’s Sir John Rowan and his pretty younger fiancée Lynn (Sue Lloyd) at a pretty raucous party. While the good doctor struggles with the mingling, Lynn, who just so happens to be a model, is in the middle of an impromptu photo shoot when Rowan rushes up to stop the snapping away before his squeeze loses all her clothes. Before you can say “Watch out for that hot studio lamp!”, Rowan accidentally knocks said lamp over and it lands on poor Lynn, burning half her face. Ouch! Fortunately, she’s engaged to a very capable plastic surgeon, right? Unfortunately, conventional surgery won’t work this time, so Rowan decides to use Lynn as a guinea pig to try out a little something he’s been working on in secret.

If you’ve seen Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without A Face), you can probably guess things up to a point, For everyone who hasn’t, Répétez après moi, s’il vous plaît:

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Night Trap Returns! Be Afraid… Be Very Afraid (Or Not)


 

Night Trap tells the story of five teenage girls spending the weekend at the Martin home. As a member of the Special Control Attack Team, your job is to monitor the home and protect the girls using an intricate system of cameras and traps as it is being invaded by vampires.

 

I am laughing my fool head off writing this, but hey – a happy me is a good thing these days. Screaming Villains, based out of Newport Kentucky, is teaming up with Limited Run Games to bring the classic and at the time of its release 25 years ago, “controversial” Sega CD FMV (Full Motion Video) game Night Trap back as a remastered PS4 and Xbox One title. I’ll be a lazy git and let you read the Wikipedia page so you can see what the fuss was all about, but what was considered an MA-13 (or Mature) rated game back in 1992 is now a Teen-rated experience with not a thing altered. Digital Pictures created what was supposed to be (and is) a campy take on the horror genre, but for years the game has had a hilariously overblown reputation thanks to it being pulled from stores in some areas.


 

My own memories of it are the game being quite amusing but pretty difficult without a guide of some sort and not at all scary or bloody. The plot has you trying to save a bunch of cute 90’s gals at a slumber party from oddly dressed vampire creeps by setting traps inside the house and activating them before the girls are attacked. It’s all pretty corny, harmless “B” movie fluff that might surprise modern gamers when they see how goofy it all is. As in all that government fuss and bother did was make a so-so game a classic of sorts that still gets people talking. Amusingly enough, the game is about as scary as an empty plastic bottle on a windowsill.

For some reason, during the 90’s and into the early 2000’s a handful of gamers thought the 3DO and PC versions had bits of nudity or actual gore in them despite the fact that no such footage was shot. Coupled with the game’s rarity once pulled from shelves, helped drive prices up considerably. Working in an indie game shop for about five years, I fielded more than a few questions and kicked down as many of those rumors as I could, but you know how some people get when they really believe something that’s clearly untrue. Anyway, go download the super-cheeseball main theme and set your digital clocks for sometime soon, as the game is set for a mysterious “Spring 2017” release.

-GW

Arrow Video November Releases: No Turkeys Here!

arrow video logoWell, November will be nice and bloody come Turkey Day and into December thanks to these three Arrow Video releases. If you’re not watching the sportsball games on that day, why not plop down on the sofa with some horror flicks to keep your eyes wide open after that high dosage of tryptophan and too much pie you’re eaten?

Here’s a look at what’s on the way:

the-initiaton_av071 THE INITIATION [Blu-ray] (11/8) SRP: $34.95

HERE’S TO BEING YOUNG… STAYING YOUNG… AND DYING YOUNG.

Marking TV star Daphne Zuniga’s debut in a leading role, The Initiation ranks among the finest of the college-based stalk-and-slash flicks – now finally restored in glorious High-Definition!

Kelly’s new sorority has a special initiation ritual in store for her – an after-hours break-in of her father’s department store. But what begins as a night of harmless college fun turns sour when, once inside the enormous mall, Kelly and her fellow pledges find themselves locked in for the night… with a deadly intruder stalking the corridors.

Arriving in 1984, The Initiation might have been late to the slasher party, but, alongside the likes of The House on Sorority Row and The Mutilator, it remains one of the stronger entries to emerge in the latter days of the slice-and-dice boom.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Uncompressed PCM Mono Audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues
  • Sorority Saga – a brand new interview with writer Charles Pratt, Jr.
  • Pledge Night – a brand new interview with actor Christopher Bradley
  • Dream Job – a brand new interview with actress Joy Jones
  • Extended Scene
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Original Screenplay & Production Schedule (BD -ROM Content)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn

First pressing only: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver

More below the jump… that’s where they belong, mua-ha-ha-haaaaa…

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(A Bit Late, But) FILM THREAT Lives!

(Thanks, Chris Gore!) 

Whee! FILM THREAT lives on. Here’s a very happy and tired Chris Gore reading off a list of contributors to the Kickstarter campaign, which I’m pleased to say I was part of. Now, to hang back and wait for more news on that documentary!

On Der Backlog: More Movies Than You Can Stick A Shake At

mo_movies_mo_reviewsGah. More stuff to review, but not review in a few cases where that homework was already done. I did a few of these already based off of TCM showing them during the wee hours, so I’ll only need to do five of eight. Five of these are from Severin Films’ big sale last month after their publishing rights expired for Horror Express, The Baby, Bloody Birthday, The House of Seven Corpses, and Psychomania. I actually thought I’d reviewed HotSC already, but can’t locate the review, so I guess it’s one I dreamed I wrote or something. No big deal, as I’ve seen this enough to tap out impressions in my sleep.

Vamp is yet another Arrow Video screener I need to get to, Just Desserts I’ve seen already and need to write up (it’s brilliant), and MVD Visual sent over this lovely Unearthed Francesca set that includes a Blu-Ray/DVD and soundtrack from this recent retro giallo that, based on the trailer I just watched, REALLY looks as it was made in the 70’s.  Anyway back in a bit with a review of something NOT here I think you’ll like.

-GW

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