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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Severin Films’ Loss Is A “B” Fan’s BIG Gain

Severinclearoutbundle
WOW. Five offbeat horror DVD or Blu-Ray DVD sets for $30? SOLD. From the official site blog:

Attention Severin fans! Our rights are expiring for Psychomania (DVD), The Baby (DVD & Blu-ray), Bloody Birthday (DVD & Blu-ray), Horror Express (Blu-ray/DVD combo) and House of Seven Corpses (Blu-ray/DVD combo) very soon so we need to do a little bit of house cleaning and clear as much product out as possible.

For this listing, you can get all FIVE (5) of these titles for $30. Please indicate if you prefer DVD or Blu-ray (where applicable) in the comments section upon checkout.

We also have another listing available where you can pick THREE (3) titles for $20, or you can buy them individually for $10.

That’s it! Easy as can be! Now go buy one of these titles and backfill your Severin catalog. Be sure to tell a friend. Tell a non-friend. Tell your grandmother. Tell your neighbor’s dog. Spread the word and help us clear out the old to make room for lots of new coming up.

Cheers.

Retail therapy works best when you get what you want and can spread the love all over the place. Now go buy something gift-y for yourself or a few friends.

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Blu-Ray Review: Black Mama, White Mama

BMWM_AV041Okay, it was Pam Grier‘s birthday last week and I only know this because I overheard some OG’s doing some paper bag stoop drinking talking about the lady today while I was out shopping. They were trying to recall the names of two movies she was in back before she became a bigger name star and you better believe yours truly stepped in to inform them HIT MAN and Black Mama, White Mama were the movies they were looking for.

I don’t think I’d seen a more grateful group of old guys since Prohibition ended and even better, when I told them both movies had been restored and can be bought online AND they both pop up on TCM on occasion, I ended up getting a free beer for that information. Yes, it was still sealed – I don’t do that passing around stuff with former total strangers. Unless it’s some Thunderbird or Night Train. That stuff can kill germs from 50 paces and tastes like someone put a heaping spoonful of sugar into a pint of paint thinner (yum!).

Anyway, I got back home, tossed the groceries I’d bought aside like Frank Cannon used to do on that old CBS show (much to the surprise of the groceries) and got to this review of Arrow Video’s chock full of fun Blu-Ray released a little while back. Black Mama, White Mama is an excellent exploitation flick with Grier and the still stunning Margaret Markov that takes the plot of The Defiant Ones, adds a dash of Caged!, and sets the whole shebang in the (literally and figuratively) steamy Philippines (doubling for a never-named Latin dictatorship of some sort). The results are a sexy, sassy potboiler/revenge flick complete with copious female nudity, sudden (but expected) violence, and the always entertaining Sid Haig in a colorful role as a really bad man. Continue reading

Arrow Video July Releases: Hot Summer Nights, Indeed

While there are only a mere three releases in July from Arrow Video through MVD Entertainment, they’re all worth nabbing thanks to being a nice set of eclectic films to watch. Amusingly enough, all are about women in trouble and/or various states of undress for plot purposes (of course). A classic sex comedy, a weird, unintentionally funny sex drama, and a killer Japanese film set that’s one of the ultimate revenge flick compilations of the era all await your eager eyeballs and shelf space.

The Swinging Cheerleaders AV058First up: on July 5th, say hello to The Swinging Cheerleaders (MSRP $34.95, Blu-ray + DVD, MVD Shop or Amazon pre-order)

They gave it all for their team…

 

Jack Hill spent the seventies specializing in tough female characters. He made movies about girl gangs (Switchblade Sisters) and women in prison (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage), turned Pam Grier a star with Coffy and Foxy Brown, and contributed to the Cheerleaders line of drive-in favorites with The Swinging Cheerleaders.

 

Kate, an undergraduate at Mesa University, goes undercover as a cheerleader for her college newspaper in order to expose ‘female exploitation in contemporary society’. But instead of oppression she finds love, friendship and a bigger fish to fry: corruption in the football team, headed up by the coach and his pals.

 

A favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who screened it at the very first Tarantino Film Fest, The Swinging Cheerleaders features a cast of cult favorites including Colleen Camp (Wayne’s World, Game of Death), Rainbeaux Smith (Caged Heat, The Incredible Melting Man) and future Playmate of the Month Rosanne Katon.

 

BONUS MATERIALS
– Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
– High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD Presentations
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– Audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill, recorded exclusively for this release
– Brand new interview with Jack Hill
– Archive interview with cinematographer Alfred Taylor
– Archive interview with Hill and Johnny Legend
– Q&A with Hill, and actors Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon recorded at the New Beverly Cinema in 2012
– TV spots
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
– Illustrated booklet containing new writing by Cullen Gallagher (first pressing only)

 

But wait, there’s more!
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Blu-Ray Review: Island of Death

island of death BD Cover (Large)A funny thing happened on the way to me disliking Island of Death, director Nico Mastorakis’ 1975 horror film headed to Blu-Ray/DVD courtesy Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group. That would be I ended up liking the film a lot more than I thought. This is in part thanks to the great special features that include interviews with Mastorakis that show he’s just a genial, creative guy with a long and varied career who’s not at all like any of the vile characters in the nasty and brutal film he made very early in his career. I’d heard about how terrible and shocking the film was and I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the assorted scenes of murder, extremely stereotypical characters and loads of exploitative nudity on display. Yes, the film is a hard to watch experience not for the squeamish or easily offended. But it’s beautifully shot nastiness and at the end of the day, Mastorakis did exactly what he set out to do – make a film that out grossed (and out-grossed) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

There’s nothing here even remotely close in plot or even tone to Tobe Hooper’s seminal shocker. IoD’s story about a pair of unbalanced British lovers killing their way through the island of Mykonos before getting their just desserts is merely a showcase for depravity that’s since been outclassed by more modern horror flicks with far more realistic effects. The director even makes this point in one of the commentaries on the Blu-Ray and it’s easy to toss off a bunch of titles from the top of my head that do indeed go for the gusto and blow this film out of the water. That said, by 1975 standards the catalog of perversions on display here certainly got this film in trouble all over the world. Bestiality, murders by an ingested bucket of paint post crucifixion, a phallic pistol, beheading by bulldozer and more are all on display. As terrifically terrible as these crimes are, some viewers may be more upset that one of the murderers is a hypocrite religious zealot out to cleanse the island of evil in the name of religion.

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The Green Inferno: Eli Roth Lets The “Save The Planet” Crowd Have Both Barrels…

green_inferno_xlgSo, what’s up in the jungle, Jim? Not much but lots of death and leftovers! Anyway, here’s the plot of this upcoming horror flick, suitable for no one under the age of slashenteen without a cast iron stomach:

A group of college students take their humanitarian protest from New York to the Amazon jungle only to get kidnapped by the native tribe they came to save. A tribe that still practices the ancient tribal rite of cannibalism, with a healthy appetite for intruders.

(thanks, Movieclips Trailers!) 
Well, there goes my plans to visit even the nearest sunny park around here at this point. Guaranteed to cause all sorts of outrage when it’s released (mostly among people who won’t see it under any circumstances, I’d bet), The Green Inferno is a throwback to the gory glory days of exploitation horror films and nope, I’m not planning on seeing this in a theater at all.

If I do decide to commit to this flick and it’s NOT a media screening with relatively normal people in attendance squealing and hiding under the seats, it’ll be in the comfort of my own home where I can shut it off and find something else to do if I’m feeling queasy. I’m gathering the home video and/or cable versions will have more footage and on disc, I’d hope there’s a nice behind the scenes documentary that gets into how this was made. I didn’t make it through Cannibal Holocaust (this film’s inspiration) in one sitting, but I think I can handle this… I think… (cue creepy music that gets me wanting to go watch a Caillou box set instead on a permanent loop)…