Blu-Ray Review: George A. Romero: Between Night And Dawn

GARBNADWhat do you do after making one of the most influential horror films ever? Given that George Romero really didn’t have much of a clue that his first film, Night of the Living Dead would become such an essential genre masterpiece, the director went on to make a few different films between 1971 and 1975 that were either interesting failed experiments or more polished but flawed films all worth a look. Arrow Video has restored and collected three of Romero’s post-NOTLD works in George A. Romero: Between Night And Dawn and yes, it’s a set worth adding to your library.

The three films include the somewhat disappointing romantic comedy There’s Always Vanilla, the surprising, mature drama Season of the Witch and a return to horror of a different yet similar kind in The Crazies. While the grim, brilliantly disturbing horror flick Martin is missing in action here (the set’s sole flaw), with these three films you can see a director learning and growing into an even more confident artist. Interestingly enough, in interviews included on the special features, Romero states his total dislike for There’s Always Vanilla on a few fronts and yes indeed, the film is his weakest effort.

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Blu-Ray Review: Brain Damage

BD_AV090 (Custom)I somehow missed out on Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage when it was first released back in 1987, but it’s been on my very long list of films to see for quite some time.  Arrow Video’s recent restoration is pretty awesome and is filled to the brim with some great bonus features. Depending on your tastes this is one of those outrageously creative films that you’ll love or hate, but like Henenlotter’s other exploitation flicks (the three Basket Case movies, Frankenhooker, Bad Biology), your best bet is to jump in feet first and enjoy the wild ride.

When a somewhat phallic-shaped brain-eating parasite named Aylmer (or Elmer) escapes from the apartment of the elderly couple keeping it as a twisted addiction source and ends up a few doors away with a new host, Brian (Rick Herbst), things get gory quite quickly. The old couple had been feeding Aylmer fresh from the meat market calf brains thinking they could sate his hunger, but you know how these things go in movies like this, right? Yes, there’s an explanation for how the parasite ended up in the apartment of that couple, but that comes later on in the film and I’m not telling.

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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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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:

“What could POSSIBLY go wrong?”(dot dot dot) Continue reading

Random Film Of The Week: Predator 2

predator_2_ver1As sequels go, Predator 2 shouldn’t even work as well as it does. But here it is in all its Hollywood circa 1990 R-rated violent glory, still making me laugh both with and at it. Granted, you need a particular sense of humor to appreciate the film as a whole, as trying to pick it apart into chunks of good and bad ends up wrecking the work put into making it completely bonkers yet a total blast to sit down with for a spell.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t available for this sequel thanks to disagreements over his fee (something a little film called Terminator 2: Judgment Day would take care of forever), the film dropped his Dutch character and moves the setting ten years ahead to a sweaty 1997 Los Angeles where a heat wave and gang warfare lure in a new Predator for some urban hunting action. Inspired casting abounds here, with Danny Glover leading the way as Lieutenant Michael Harrigan, a not quite by the book cop who, like others in these sorts of action flicks, has unconventionally heroic means of getting the job done. Reuben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso and Bill Paxton also play cops working with Harrigan as Jamaican and Colombian drug gangs blast each other as well as anyone that happens to get between them.

(Thanks, Forever Horror!) 

When the bulk of the Colombian gang is wiped out in what looks like a ritualistic sacrifice, Harrigan and his team immediately suspect the Jamaicans. But the loss of one of his team reveals there’s a third party at work here and Harrigan sets out to get to the bottom of things and possibly get some revenge in the process. Little does he realize that the bottom of things is very literally under the steaming streets in the form of a trophy packed alien ship. Continue reading

HALLOWEEN Meets Halloween: Dreamy Nightmare Time


 

From the depths of the Internet, one smart YouTuber named juvan baldeo took my favorite Halloween movie and my favorite Halloween song and made this beauty of a clip. Enjoy!

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: The Bloodstained Butterfly

the-bloodstained-butterfly-av063Duccio Tessari’s 1971 thriller The Bloodstained Butterfly is a great entry point to the genre for those squeamish viewers curious about gialli but not willing to commit to the more violent entries known to more ardent fans. The film is part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part revenge flick, all stylishly shot and scored to excellent effect.

It’s also a bit of a slow fuse to its conclusion, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The film’s structure where a murder is committed and witnessed, a suspect is caught, tried and jailed, but more murders take place is yes, pure TV drama stuff you’ll see on way too many episodes of whatever Law & Order series you’ve been hooked on for who knows how long. But, Tessari’s confident style comes through in every shot, making for a highly watchable viewing experience.

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DVD Review: A House Is Not A Home

a-house-is-not-a-home_mvd8444dAs an effective horror film, Christopher (Douglas-Olen) Ray‘s chiller A House Is Not A Home is quite well made, but isn’t the scariest film you’ll ever see by a long shot. Don’t get me wrong – other than a lack of gore, it covers the expected fright bases alright and has very solid performances all around. The problem is, it sticks a wee bit too close to the films it’s influenced by to be memorable outside of a few scenes.

Referencing The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Entity, and a few other more modern horror flicks, AHINAH’s best trick is playing with the old Eddie Murphy joke that black people would get the hell out of a haunted house as soon as the first sign of something scary took place. In this case, the big twist is… the house here just won’t let them, and that’s AFTER it’s supposedly been dis-possessed by a voodoo priest in a lengthy process that involves a room-to-room “cleansing”. Oops.

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October’s Arrows Draw PLENTY of Blood

Only three releases next month, but one is a SUPER biggie. That said, getting that that particular Arrow Video October release will be tough as hell for some budget-minded collectors unless they score a great online deal. Anyway, here’s what’s coming up soon:

vamp_av067Vamp [Blu-ray] (October 4th, $29.95 MSRP)

THE FIRST KISS COULD BE YOUR LAST!

Two fraternity pledges head to a seedy part of town to find some entertainment for their college friends but are faced with bloodthirsty vampires! Keith (Chris Makepeace, Meatballs) and AJ (Robert Rusler, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) want to make the right impression at college and so they devise a plan to get them into the best frathouse on campus. They head to the After Dark Club where they want to find a stripper for a party their friends won’t forget, instead they find themselves among vampires led by Kinky Katrina (Grace Jones, A View to a Kill)!

Almost certainly an influence on From Dusk til Dawn, Vamp is superbly designed by many of Grace Jones’ own award-winning collaborators and features stunning effects by four-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom (The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Delivering laughs and scares in equal measure, with the added bonus of vampy sex appeal, Vamp is a comedy horror romp with real bite!

Bonus Materials
– High Definition digital transfer
– Original mono audio
– Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp – a brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Wenk, stars Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe
– Behind-the-scenes rehearsals
– Blooper Reel
– Image gallery
– Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) – Richard Wenk’s celebrated short film
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
– First pressing only: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher

More below the jump (MUCH more!)… Continue reading

Arrow Video September: Back to Film School With An Unholy Trio of Horror Flicks

arrow video logo

Ah, September. Kids are back in school whining, parents still daily grinding it to make ends meet, pets being pets and not knowing what the hell time it is but play/sleep/eat time. You’re bored already, right? Well, looky here, lazybones: Arrow Video US and MVD Entertainment have got your back with a trio (that’s three, oh?) of horror flicks for your viewing displeasure. So, roll up the kids in a rug and send them to gramma’s place – it’s about to get steamy inside (well, if you keep the windows closed and a scream too much):

Dead End Drive In AV064
Dead-End Drive-In [Blu-ray] (September 20th)

THE PRICE OF ADMISSION IS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

One of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite directors, Brian Trenchard-Smith was a key figure in the Ozploitation movement, responsible for The Man from Hong Kong, Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot, BMX Bandits… and dystopian cult classic Dead-End Drive-In!

Set in a near-future where the economy has crumbled and violent gangs play havoc in the streets, the powers-that-be have decided to lure the delinquent youth into drive-in cinemas and keep them there. No longer just a place to watch trashy movies and make out, these outdoor picture shows have become concentration camps for the unruly and unwanted.

With its day-glo color scheme, new wave soundtrack and extraordinary stunt work, Dead-End Drive-In is in the tradition of Ozploitation milestones Mad Max and The Cars That Ate Paris only very, very eighties.

Bonus Materials
* Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
* High Definition (1080p) Presentation
* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
* Audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith
* The Stuntmen, Trenchard Smith’s classic television documentary on Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games) and other Australian stunt performers
* Hospitals Don’t Burn Down, Trenchard-Smith’s 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion
* Behind-the-scenes gallery by graffiti artist Vladimir Cherepanoff
* Theatrical Trailer
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

Hey! You’re not done reading and I’m not done cutting and pasting! Siddown and see what else is on the plate, mate.

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