REVIEW: Giallo in Venice Scorpion Releasing Limited Edition Blu-Ray

Giallo in Venice is available now! Links to order are below!

Blu-ray includes a Limited Edition Slipcover and 9×11 Mini Poster with artwork by Devon Whitehead while supplies last.  

Domestic Customers:

International Customers:

(All screen-caps were taken directly from the Scorpion Releasing Blu-ray, no alterations were made to the images displayed)


Mario Landi’s  focus here clearly seems to be on cringe-worthy sadism. The various murder scenes are done with a nasty edge that’s hard to shake, and the mostly convincing make-up effects were clearly prominent in the films budget. Seedy, grimy production values and almost perverse pleasure the filmmakers seem to derive staging these mean-spirited vignettes give the picture a definite charge, yet it is still difficult to warm entirely to the finished product for a variety of reasons.

I’d say the film may be the Giallo equivalent to William Lustig’s 42nd Street Slasher “Maniac” (1980) which was subject to protests upon its limited release from Women’s advocacy groups across the nation. Even becoming National news for a short time. Mario Landi has always been known (from what I’ve read) as an “if it’s in focus, lets move on” type of director. There is very little elegance to his staging , apart from the odd shot of the victims writhing reflected in the dark glasses worn by the killer. The film does drag and with it’s extremity and mean spirited attitude, it can be a hard watch.

Franco Villa’s cinematography is the stuff of legend and yet in this feature, his use of framing is just above functional. You would expect more from a DP his senior. Berto Pisano’s flamboyant scoreis mostly recycled from other scores namely, “Interrabang” and “Burial Ground”. The cast is above par of the rest of the production, though Jeff Blynn (Weapons of Death 1977 and Alfonso Brecia’s Napoli) playing Inspector De Paul with his moptop hair and porno mustache has all the charisma of a wet dishrag. Blynn is a  very unlikely and nearly unengaging  Giallo protagonist as you could imagine. Giallo A Venezia would be his only Giallo acting credit. He stopped making films in the 90’s and is rumored to have left the business altogether to run his restaurant in Rome.

Leonora Fani is Flavia, while Gianni Dei plays her sexual deviant husband Fabio. Dei is similarly functional, but not impressive and fails to make more of an impression. His most prominent role being a bedridden psychopath in Patrick Lives Again (1980) which was also directed by Mario Landi. The best performer in the movie, though she doesn’t get much of a chance to prove it, is Mariangela Giordano. Giordano known for her roles in Spaghetti Westerns including Antonio Margherettis Vengeance (1968). She was later featured in horror films such as Michele Soavi’s “The Sect” (1991) and Jess Franco’s “Killer Barbys” (1996). She is undoubtedly will be remembered for her role in Andrea Bianchi’s “Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror” in which she has a vaguely incestous relationship with her young son, played by the incomprabable  Peter Bark.

All this being said, the focus of this film is less on the mystery and more on the misery. So if being shocked by a film is your thing, this one maybe right up your alley. It’s hands down the most cold and brutal Giallo I’ve ever seen and that means a lot coming from a die-hard fan of the sub-genre.
While Giallo a Venezia may lack the social commentary of Lucio Fulci or the swooping camera-work and visual styling of Dario Argento, it is still a giallo that can comfortably stand on merits of its own brutality.

VIDEO:  New 2018 scan with extensive color correction-  If there ever was a film that needed a new scan of it is GOV. I waited several years for this one to surface from Code Red and eventually I gave in and bought the X-Rated German Mediabook, about a year ago. At the time,  I was just happy to see a film that is as notoriously brutal as it is sleazy in the Giallo space. That being said, the new Scorpion Blu-ray is a HUGE upgrade. Gone is the yellow tint that encapsulates the entire German version of the film. The color timing of the film is incredibly natural looking. Skin tones are a fleshy pink and the canals of Venice are rendered a gorgeous aquamarine. Colors are vibrant and saturated and blacks are deep and inky. Grain structure is solid and makes for a very filmic presentation.  There’s some minor print damage throughout the film, but did not detract from my viewing experience overall. Walt Olsen and Scorpion Releasing have had an excellent year and have released SEVERAL definitive versions of classic Cult Films (The Church, The Sect, House on Sorority Row).This release is no different, easily the best “Giallo in Venice” has ever looked.

AUDIO: Italian DTS-HD 2.0Audio with Newly Translated English Subtitles. This audio track sounds nearly identical to the X-Rated Mediabook, But I did notice the hiss that appeared several times in the German edition is gone. I did however notice a strange echo on the Scorpion Edition that lasted a few seconds that was not present in the German version. The echo only lasts a few seconds and most will not notice it. Dialogue clarity is good, the flamboyant 70’s soundtrack sounds great and levels are between the two are good. No signs of audio dropouts, pops or hisses other than previously noted. A sold audio track overall.

EXTRAS:  Audio Commentary with film historian Troy Howart. Damn, Mr. Howarth is getting a lot of well deserved work, lately. I’ve reviewed several films so far this year that contain a commentary track with Troy. Troy Howarth is the author of two books  (So Deadly, So Perverse) containing academic-level studies of films in the Giallo sub-genre. Mr. Howarth knows his stuff and drops many interesting factoids about the film throughout this commentary. Howarth is truly a film scholar and speaks with a passion about the genre in a way that only he can. If Audio Commentaries are your thing, this one should n


REVIEW: “Surf Nazis Must Die” 88 Films Blu-Ray

Surf Nazi’s Must Die releases today August 27th from 88 Films and is available to purchase below:

(All screen-caps were taken directly from the 88 Films Blu-ray, no alterations were made to the images displayed)

Sometime in the near future, Los Angeles has been leveled by an 8.6 magnitude earthquake and one gang sets out
to rule the beaches, the Surf Nazis. Lead by their leader, Adolf, the Nazis go after anyone and everyone who gets near their waves. After the Nazis kill Leroy, an innocent oil worker, Leroy’s black and mild smoking granny vows to avenge her grandson’s death by taking out the Surf Nazis, one by one.

What happens when you try to combine the movies Beach Party, Clockwork Orange, and Mad Max, mix in a healthy dose of incoherent writing, synth-heavy 80’s soundtrack music, and some absolutely over the top acting? You get post apocalyptic opus known as Surf Nazis Mist Die.

A notorious “so-bad, it’s good” cult classic that has been universally panned for being “too boring and slow” or just plain “not making any sense”. You generally know what to expect when you pop on a Troma distributed film, and this film is hardly the exception. I’ve never been huge on Troma, I had only previously seen ‘Nazi’s’ one other time and was not impressed. I think my time away from this film has really made a big difference on how I feel about it now in a much more manner! Forgive me if this review is a little more vague than previous entries, I feel to speak about the film in greater detail would be doing the film a great disservice. The less you know, the more surprised you’ll be by this bizarre 80’s gem.

Despite the fact that Surf Nazis Must Die starts off REALLY slow, it picks up in the second half with the some of the gore one has come to expect from a Troma movie. Troma’s quintessential tongue-in-cheek nature is also found with many all characters being named after famous members of the Third Reich (Adolf, Mendele, Eva, except for Smeg (short for smegma) and Hook (who wields a large cartoonish hook for a hand). The film’s structure is also fairly interesting, we follow the antagonist Surf Nazis for the entire first half of the film and follow their pursuit of turf on the “New Beach”; Which has been overtaken by rival surf gangs after the quake.

Adolf (Barry Brenner) is the charismatic patriarch of the Surf Nazi crew and leads the pack with his tough as nails girlfriend Eva (Dawn Wildsmith). Adolf, much like the real Hitler, wants to expand his control over the entire coastline by any means necessary.

It’s not that the Pipeliners, led by Aerial, Mex, and Teeth, or the sadly cliched Samurai Surfers: Wang, Yin, and Yang, are looking for total control. Even Curl, Blow, and Dry of the Designer Waves have no problem sharing their tight space with the other fellas. Adolf calls a meeting of all the rival gangs (and one random biker dude aptly named Wheels), and tries to unify them under the Nazis’ leadership, but there are just too many strong-willed personalities in the bunch for that to happen. The film, which starts as a “gang film” and quickly evolves into an uproarious, over-the-top Revenge Film. The change in tone half way through is a bit jarring, but since the first half of Surf Nazis is so bogged down by exposition, Leroy’s death is the inciting incident that stimulates within the film.

Gail Neely is pitch-perfect as the gun-slinging Eleanor “Mama” Washington, who wages war against the beach based nazis with a full arsenal of grenades and guns at her disposal. It’s really refreshing to see a film of this vintage have a middle-aged African American Female featured as a lead performer. One that gets to kick ass and spout of some supremely cheesy one-liners even! And although this film is not “great” or even particularly “good” it remains commendable for its sheer persistence, perversity and overall tone of over-the-top lunacy. Dawn Wildsmith, who gives the best performance as Adolph’s girl-friend, gets all the best lines: “Scum-sucking Neanderthal, how dare you question
my authority?” or “I’m Adolph’s bitch – get yourself another cunt.”

And then there’s imposing black mama Gail Neely who walks up to a gunsmith and demands “something to blow a honky hide off at 20 paces,” and later pops said gun into Adolph’s mouth, “I’m going to give you a taste of Momma’s home-cooking, Adolph,” and pulls the trigger. A standard love scene, scored with a trumpet solo, is guaranteed to have one rolling in the aisle.

Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman insists that “All the modern movies of any merit have their roots in ‘Surf Nazis Must Die,'” If for some strange reason you dispute that conclusion, then this and many other Troma movies are probably not for you. If, however, you can appreciate the cheerful goofiness in Kaufman’s not-very-serious cinematic outlook, then you will find much to enjoy in this classic study of surfing, Nazis and a pistol-packing mama’s

VIDEO:MPEG-4 AVC 1080p presented in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. 88 Film’s new 2K Scan and restoration will immediately make you toss that old 2010 Troma disc directly into the waste bin. Easily the most naturalistic presentation of the film to ever hit home video. The film still keeps the look of an 30 year old Exploitation film, with little white speckles, a few vertical lines, but colors have been tastefully saturated to give it more modern look. The film has always looked pretty soft, but 88 has managed to give a nice sharp look that doesn’t take away the nostalgia of the period and keep the films original color timing intact. This presentation is a grain lovers delight and carries a sheet of heavy grain through its running time. Now you can own this 1987 Cult Classic in it’s most definitive release to date.

AUDIO:English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
The audio is clean and stable. The wonderful brooding synthesizer soundtrack (by Jon McCallum) sounds incredibly punchy with this newly restored track. Frankly, it is almost impossible to tell that any aging might have occurred prior to the remastering of the film. If there were any serious issues right now no one would be able to tell; the quality of the audio is indeed very good. Some extremely light ‘thinness’ occasionally sneaks in, but it is almost certainly inherited.

All Region Blu-Ray
NEW (2018) 2K Scan and Restoration from Positive Elements
Restored DTS-HD MA Stereo Audio
*NEW* Smeg’s Lament: A 2018 Interview with Tom Shell (12:35) – Tom Shells speaks fondly of working on the film, as well as working with Roger Corman and James Gunn. Tom speaks about his time on the set
and how working on the film later inspired his own career in directing low budget films.

Deleted Scenes with Vintage Audio Commentary with Director Peter George (7:09) – Scenes taken from the lost vault
elements of the Directors Cut of the film are examined with Director Peter George. George offers up several interesting antecdotes about several aspects of the film, large and small.

Vintage Interview with Director Peter George (03:36) – taken from the Psychotronic Video Magazine “Spare
Parts” segment, hosted by Dale Ashman. George speaks of the origial inner-city origins of the story and the
progression of the idea that would eventually become the films screenplay.

Interview with Producer Robert Tinnell

Scenes From the Tromaville Café (03:29) – Vintage Featurette – hosted by Beowulf and Jane Jensen. Lloyd
Kaufman and Peter George discuss the film together.

Original Trailer (02:50)

REVIEW:Eyeball 88 Films Special Edition Blu-ray

Eyeball hits the streets officially August 27th, but is now shipping EARLY from the 88 Films Official Site!


(All screen-caps were taken directly from the 88 Films Blu-ray, no alterations were made to the images displayed)

A busload of “American” tourists land in Madrid for a group tour. Little do they know is that there is a killer among them. Almost upon arrival, bodies start stacking up wherever the bus lands, turning the entire tour party into suspects. Not only are the murders quick and brutal, but the victims are all found with there left eye removed in the most hideous fashion.

Umberto Lenzi’s 1975 “Eyeball” AKA “Gatti Rossi In Un Labirinto Di Vetre” (Red Cat in a Glass Maze) was filmed during one of the most fruitful periods in Lenzi’s career, bookended on both sides by Spasmo and Almost Human in 1974 and The Manhunt and Syndicate Sadists in 1976. Personally one of my favorite periods of Lenzi’s career, just before he became internationally known as the infamous Cannibal film Director (Eaten Alive! (1980) Cannibal Ferox (1981) ) in the early 80’s.

Though Lenzi’s biggest claim to fame is still his Cannibal films of the early 80’s, Lenzi himself was truly a jack of all trades since his inclusion into Italian genre film in the 1960’s.

Umberto Lenzi made a film in nearly every exploitive sub-genre under the sun, including Gialli (Seven Bloodstained Orchids, A Quiet Place to Kill) Cannibal (Cannibal Ferox, Eaten Alive!), Action Films (Wild Team, 008: Mission Exterminate), Zombie movies (Black Demons, Nightmare City), Supernatural Horror (Witchouse) Crime Films (Syndicate Sadists, Rome Armed to the Teeth). Each film in his filmography has a distinct and singular vision, no matter it’s subject matter,  lands Lenzi at the top of my list of Genre directors of all time.

And while not his best Giallo title in style or substance, “Eyeball” is among his most entertaining. I’ll brazenly list it up high for entertainment value alone, along with more classic “Early Period” Lenzi films such as “A Quite Place to Kill” (1970) and “Paranoia(1969). Five years before the American Slasher boom, Lenzi presents many tropes here that would later become synonymous with the Slasher genre. High body count, young females in peril, POV stalking shots and gorey and violent deaths. That being said, “Eyeball” is straight forward Giallo that leans in with a heightened sense of violence and a focus on the stalking aspect of the kill. I can really see fans of 80’s Slashers and Gialli alike gravitating to this title!

The killer, generally a black gloved killer, is instead presented as red gloved killer in plastic red rain poncho that cuts a very eerie image as he stalks through the rainy Spanish streets.The Italian title attempts to shoehorn the film into the already passe trend towards “Animal themed” Giallo popularized by Argento’s early Thrillers. The title translates to  “Red Cats in a Maze of Glass” and is explained by an eyewitness to one of the crimes describes the red raincoat garbed assassin as looking like a red cat; Talk about colorful metaphors!

The film has an incredibly eerie atmosphere and while the film’s key art may suggest a supernatural killer, the actual result is anything but. There is some really interesting cinematography, iconography and a whole lot of quick zooms for “dramatic effect” that are actually entirely hilarious and never seem to stop. There’s a shot displayed earlier in the film that oddly mirrors the films key art (on the fun-house ride) is oddly effective and hilariously self serious.

Martine Brochard (Paulette), saddled with an awful haircut and godawful oversized glasses, delivers an excellent performance that is far more extensive that your typical damsel-in-distress routine and acquits herself nicely.

John Richardson would not do as well, I found his performance as Italian lithario Mark Burton is incredibly wooden and dull and his chemistry with Brochard lacking.  Twists and turns are a’plenty, with nearly every single cast member being introduced as a red herring at one point in the film. So much so that is nearly impossible to even venture an educated guess as to who the killer may actually be until the film is nearly over.

Eyeball also stands out to me because it’s one of the most unsubtle thrillers I’ve seen. People scream and over-act like it’s their first day on set, but it fits the hysterical set-up and I think Lenzi just decided to subvert the usual stereotypes and create a giallo that would scream it’s way through the glut of all the other thrillers of the time. Hell, even the music – by the wonderful Bruno Nicolai is big, bold and very much of it’s time. There’s a whole lotta xylophone lines in this thing and it’s a boatload of 70’s fun.  This is a movie made not for the small details but for the bigness of it all.

The real treat comes at the end of the movie as the killer’s identity and motive is finally revealed. Somewhat hilariously, the killer is shown in BROAD DAYLIGHT, complete with red gloves and cape, gripping a dagger, found lurking in one of the photographs that one of the victims had taken in the film. The motive and explanation as to why the killer plucks out the left eye of the victims is one of the most absurd elements of the film as whole, but it’s entirely fun and I’m completely willing to shrug off how thin the motive is.

VIDEO:VIDEO: Eyeball is presented by 88 Films in it’s Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1 MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p with BRAND NEW 2K RESTORATION with color correction performed exclusively for this release. I’ll start off by saying that 88’s presentation is hands down the best this film has ever looked. Their new 2K scan truly breathes new life into this film. Colors are nicely saturated without the hues looking unnaturally deep and rudimentary to the time in which the film was shot. A pleasant medium-depth grain runs throughout the film, and grain structure is far less rigid than a film I recently reviewed (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?) from the same time period and geological location. There is no noticeable DNR, or digital tampering evident on this release. Eyeball is a bit of a mainstay for me, I watch it at least once a year during the Halloween season. This is a presentation I can mostly certainly see myself visiting several times a year, henceforth. One of the years best.

AUDIO:English DTS-HD 2.0, Italian DTS-HD 2.0, English Dolby Digital. Italian Genre Cinema has always been notorious for its use of extensive post-production dubbing and there’s some pretty ugly audio tracks out there. That being said, both English and Italian Stereo tracks here sound great, with the English syncing up just as tight as the Italian track. Both tracks are appropriately defined, dialogue is clear and the Stelvio Cipriani score is bumping. No distortion, dropouts or damage is present.


Audio Commentary with The Hysteria Continues Podcast. I’m a little bit bias because these guys are 4 of my absolute favorite people on the entire world. Very funny and informative commentary. They’ve all done their research and are legitimate fans of the film and genre. You can tell they had to mind their P’s and Q’s more so than they would an episode of the podcast, but still very funny and insightful stuff.

All Eyes on Lenzi (85 minutes) Feature length documentary focused on the life and times of the great Umberto Lenzi. One of my favorite Special Features of the year. We get interviews with everyone from Lenzi himself to critics John Martin, Manlio Gomarasca and Rachael Nisbet, academics Calum Waddell and Mikel Koven, actors Danilo Mattei and Giovanni Lombardo Radice and director and writer Scooter McCrae. This doc is extensive and every single film throughout his career is touched upon. Intercut with HD footage from many of his films.

Eyeballs on Martine Brochard (15 minutes) Interview with Lead actress Martine Brochard. Brochard speaks about how she got into the business and working with Lenzi.

Locations (2 minutes) the shooting locations of “Eyeball” as they are today.

Trailers – several different regional trailers for the feature film.

Reversible sleeve featuring alternative artwork

Four original “Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro” lobby card reproductions (First print run only)

Limited edition booklet featuring: All About Umberto: an extensive and intricate look back at the work of an Italian genre-bending legend by Dr. Calum Waddell and Cats and Eyeballs: An interview with Umberto Lenzi by Eugenio Ercolani (First print run only)

Audio: Dual mono English and Italian tracks, with English subtitles


REVIEW: Lady Street Fighter AGFA Special Edition Blu-Ray

Lady Street Fighter/Revenge of Lady Street Fighter/1981,1990/Dir: James Bryan

Lady Street Fighter hits the streets August 14th on Blu-Ray!


(All screen-caps were taken directly from the AGFA Blu-ray, no alterations were made to the images displayed)

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Produced, written and starring the indefatigable Renee Harmon and by the man who brought us “Dont Go in the Woods James Bryan, this 1981 “Kung Fu”/ Revenge Thriller is not exactly what you call a “great movie: or even a “good movie” but it is most certainly a movie with a lot of heart, a boatload of can-do spirit and a fair deal of technical prowess.






Harmon, who would later go on to star in and produced Bryan’s “THE EXECUTIONER PART 2″ (1983) and “HELL RIDERS” (1984) in her first collaboration (of 6) and starring role working with Bryan.


When Linda Allen ( Renee Harmon) hears that her sister is killed (the film opens with her topless and having her hands smashed with a pool cue) by a league of hitmen called “Assassins, Inc.” (Yes, Seriously) as they search for a master file containing all the hitmens names, she arrives in Los Angeles to find out what happened. The agency of hitmen, realizing that they have killed the wrong sister, try to kill Linda at the airport but she gets away after a really great “car jump” stunt. a few karate kicks, before shoots the assassin and steals his car. Corrupt FBI Agent Rick Pollard (Joel D. Mccrea/ Jody Mccrea) who has a ties to Assassins Inc is sent to stop her by any mean necessary, only find himself falling in love with her. This film comes straight out of the Andy Sidaris playbook (in a good way) and is loaded with gunfights, girl-fights, car chases, celery stalk felatio, strippers, foot fetishism, weird phone sex and some kind of half-cocked political intrigue….I think.



Harmon plays it super over-the-top like a sex starved female Tommy Wiseau or Lazar Rockwood (Beyond the Seventh Door) with a thick German accent and facial expressions to match. Her performance is hilarious but also completely enthralling. It impossible to explain or predict how Linda Allen may react in any one situation.
Her unpredictable nature leads to some truly unforgettable and baffling moments.



It’s a hard to write about this film without simultaneously underselling it and overselling it at once.
It’s a bad movie, but it’s also an important and insane movie. Renee Harmon was a maverick in the world of 70’s and 80’s no-budget films. During an era where women in cinema were generally stripped, tortured and mutilated on screen, Harmon had her own production company, produced her own films, and wrote positive roles for herself and other women. She was a determined woman in a the male dominated world of genre film and she was doing it herself. She did what she needed to do to get the job done and let nothing stand in her way.


Annie Choi shares in her liner notes for the film a story from James Bryan. During filming on Lady Street Fighter and they needed a car to roll down a cliff, effectively destroying it. The only problem was they didn’t have a car.So Harmon did what any tenacious, resourceful filmmaker would do.

She used her husbands car.

Without his permission.

His car barreled down a cliff, rolling over several times. It crumpled like a Coors Light can. After the shoot, Harmon got into the car to drive off; Everyone was confused- what the hell was she doing? The car was a wreck, completely useless. She explained matter of factely that she needed to return the car to her husband.


Truly a testament of a filmmaker who would do anything to get the job done.


VIDEO: Lady Street Fighter is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:11. This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Lasergraphics film scanner from the only 35mm theatrical print in existence. As one might think, print damage is found throughout the films run-time, though none of it is really distracting or severe. Little scratches and specks of dirt manifest in the presentation. Colors are saturated, but natural to the theatrical experience and DaVinci Resolve did a terrific job with the color grading. There are a few spots where colors are washed out, but there are not many. This is an appreciated effort and labor of love at the hands of AGFA, and hands down the best the film will ever look.

AUDIO:The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD Mono track that contains optional English subtitles. A minor hiss carries throughout the presentation, with pops every once and awhile. Audio levels fluctuate throughout the film. Fans of low budget films should be used to such things and you’ve most definitely heard worse. Some dialog is muffled, there are some sound effects and pieces of score that drown out the dialog at times. Obviously AGFA utilized the best elements in existence and despite it’s flaws, comes up with a Mono track that isn’t half bad considering

EXTRAS:Commentary track with director James Bryan and the AGFA team (Joseph Ziemba, Sebastian Del Castillo). Highly enjoyable and informative commentary. Bryan seems to have a lighthearted attitude towards his past work and offers up some great info about this film and his future works (Don’t Go in the Woods). The invention of “Trace Carradine” as a big Hollywood name in the film. This commentary is just as enjoyable as the film, if not more so.
At the end of the feature, a title screen tells us to watch out for a sequel – but for the longest time it seemed that sequel was never made. Wrong! AGFA includes Revenge Of Lady Street Fighter, the never before released sequel, scanned in 2K from the original 35mm camera negative – This presentation is basically the entirety of Lady Street Fighter with about 20 minutes of extra footage to pad out the 90 minute run-time.

All the new footage is shot in the form of a police interrogation and I thin kit explains a lot more about the events in the first film. I honestly wish I would have watched this version first and the plot may have seemed much less confusing. Presentation looks about the same as “Lady Street Fighter” with the newer footage looking slighlty less raw

Street fightin’ trailers from the AGFA vaults! 13 Minutes of great Action and Exploitation film trailers, Force Five, Force Four, The Muthers etc.

Liner notes by Annie Choi of Bleeding Skull!

REVIEW: No Escape AKA Escape from Absolom Umbrella Entertainment Blu-Ray

No Escape/Escape from Absolom/1994/Dir: Martin Campbell.





(All screen-caps were taken directly from the Umbrella Entertainment  Blu-ray, no alterations were made to the images displayed)
The year is 2022, when the prison system has been privatized (sound familiar?) As the ruthless warden (Michael Lerner) so deftly puts it, it’s a “multinational business and his job is to recycle garbage”. The warden runs a draconian maximum security establishment (Leviticus Level 6 Maximum Security Penintentiary) AKA the end of line, but there are whispers of a place beyond Leviticus, an island based penal colony where the worst of the worst are sent to live out their remaining days.


No one has ever escaped from Leviticus, of course, but former Marine Capt. John Robbins (Ray Liotta) isn’t concerned by this fact. Robbins was highly decorated war hero who was convicted for killing his commanding officer after refusing to kill innocent civilians in Benghazi, Libya in 2011.


After escaping two previous Level 5 security prisons Robbins is sent to Leviticus to serve out his life term. Shortly after Robbins’ arrival at Leviticus he is informed by his cellmate that the walls are bugged and are able to scan your thoughts (through DNA scanning, or something) Shortly after arrival, the warden attempts to make an example out of Robbins by forcing him to torture his cellmate for informing him about the security protocol within the Prison. After a short standoff in which Robbins takes the warden hostage, he is beaten and dispatched via helicopter to the mystical penal colony of Absolom.


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Once in Absolom Robbins becomes embroiled in a battle between two warring factions for control of the island; “The Outsiders”, a group of violent, heavily pierced barbarians led by Walter Marek (Stuart Wilson), a wise-cracking sadist who is hellbent to control the Island.




And “The Insiders” are a smaller group who are outnumbered 600 to 98. The Insiders are peaceful medieval artisan colonists who are looking for new meaning in their lives on the island and are led by a prominent surgeon who has become a charismatic figure known as “The Father” (played by Lance Henriksen, finding new footing in the good-guy role)




Based on Richard Herley’s novel “The Penal Colony“, this shot-in-Australia actioner is a fun, testosterone driven, adult mash-up of “Lord of the Flies” and “Fortress“. Directed by UK/New Zealand transplant Martin Campbell, who up to “No Escape” had only directed a few Hollywood films previously, but went on to be a solid box office action Director, directing films such as “Goldeneye“(1995), “The Mask of Zorro” (1998) “Vertical Limit” (2000) Casino Royale (2006) “Edge of Darkness” (2010) and last years “The Foreigner” starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. Campbell is a very competent director and gets some really memorable performances from his cast.



Speaking of cast, No Escape boasts a cast of many familiar faces and seasoned B-Movie veterans.
Leading the pack, Ray Liotta, who had previously made a name for himself in “Goodfellas” (1990) as gangster Henry Hill. Liotta isn’t necessarily the first person you think “Mid-90’s Action Movie” but he holds his own well enough and delivers a very icy and stoic performance. He doesn’t have a lot of lines comparatively speaking, but delivers with enough vigor to lead the film. The real star of the show for me was Stuart Wilson (Lethal Weapon 3). Wilson as Walter Marek truly embraces the over the top nature of his character. – not only does he get the best lines, but he manages to chew the scenery without being overly camp. He is instantly like-able and brings a suave confidence to the role. There’s a scene with Marek involving a bag of severed heads towards the end of the film, that is pure macabre cheese.


Henriksen delivers a very zen, somber performance and speaks in a very calm and soft tone throughout. It’s quite bizarre to see Henriksen play such a relaxed character, but he does it well and showcases his range like I had never witnessed as a cult movie fan. There’s a few other familiar faces you might notice but are relegated to the background for the most part. A very young Kevin Dillon as Casey, Ernie Hudson as Hawkins, Michael Lerner as The Warden and Ian McNeice as the flamboyant King. Overall the acting is really solid, especially for Action Movie standards. I was really impressed and there wasn’t a bad performance in the whole film.



It had been about 15 years since I caught this one on VHS and I remember thinking it was pretty good. This time through I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. The film has a running time of 111 minutes, and I know what you’re thinking. “Why is an Action Movie almost 2 hours long?” It’s because the stuff that takes place between the explosions. There’s a legitimate attempt to build these characters, their backstories and tie them to their current character arcs. Over it’s running time, I actually grew to really like and care about most of the characters in the movie, even the bad guys. And while this is an action film, I feel there’s a lot more going on then just senseless, barbaric violence.


Speaking of violence, there’s a lot of that too. Beheadings, arrows through the mouth, human bonfires. There’s some truly impressive explosions and visual effects work. Overall. I was really impressed with the film and how into it I was this time around. A legitimately entertaining and well made Violent 90’s Action Film with heart that’s not afraid to take it’s time with building characters and fleshing out it’s story.




VIDEO: Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Martin Campbell’s No Escape arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment. This release did not undergo a new scan (2K,4K) or remaster, but the source material is surpsringly impressive. Colors are beautifully saturated, lines are sharp and the scan really plays well with the outdoor island setting showcasing the lush foliage of Absolom. I was very pleased with the results, new scan or not. There are no traces of digital sharpening and image stability is perfect.
There’s a nice medium layer of grain over the whole presentation, with some slight debris during the Allied Filmakers opening screen. New scan or not, this is beautiful presentation of an underseen 90’s gem.



AUDIO:there are five standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit), Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0, German: Dolby Digital 2.0, French: Dolby Digital 2.0, and Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided for the main feature.
The Lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 Audio sounds very punchy, dialogue was clear, there were no audio dropouts or anomalies that I notice. A top notch audio track for this releas. I’m a big stickler for subtitles and I did not find it necessary to use them because this audio track is so well balanced.

MAKING OF FEATURETTE 1 (28mins) 4:3 Aspect Ratio HD. Vintage TV Style Documentary about the making of the film. Behind the scenes footage, short on-set interviews with Ray Liotta, Lance Henriksen, Gale Anne Hurd (Producer), Martin Campbell and more. Informative segment, enjoyable format. It’s great to hear about the film from the people that were in it. And I loved seeing more of the Australian shooting location and few scenes that didn’t make the final cut.

-MAKING OF FEATURETTE 2 (6mins)SD: Another Vintage featurette regarding the making of the film.


REVIEW: What Have They Done to Your Daughters? – Arrow Video Special Edition Blu-ray

What Have They Done to Your Daughters?/Dir: Massimo Dallamano/1974/Arrow Video




(All screencaps were taken directly from the Arrow Blu-ray, no alterations were made to the images displayed)

Receiving a tip from an anonymous caller, Inspector Valentini (Mario Adorf) arrives in an abandoned attic and is confronted by the naked corpse of a 15-year-old girl, Silvia Polvesi (Sherry Buchanan), hung by the neck from a beam. Initially assuming it to be suicide, the case is quickly turned over to homicide when the Assistant District Attorney, Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli), unearths suspicious circumstances involving the deceased girl. The ongoing investigations, headed by Inspector Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli), soon draw attention to a ring of teenage prostitutes and their disreputable customers, one of whom, it would seem, is willing to go to great lengths to prevent any of those in the know from talking.

Massimo Dallamano’s unofficial follow-up to his 1972 Sleazy Giallo Masterwork “What Have They Done to Solange” and the second film of three in the aptly titled “Schoolgirls in Peril” trilogy. WHTDTYD is an extremely efficient, darkly cynical and energetic mixture of Giallo and gritty Poliziotteschi (Italian Crime Cinema) with the latter subgenre occasionally threatening to dominate the bulk of the film. The film is thankfully able to retain both the sleazy atmosphere of “Solange” and many key conventions of the Giallo to give fans of the “Black Gloved Killer” their necessary dose of chills and kills

By 1974 the Italian Giallo had begun to witness the corrosion of it’s brand in the domestic marketplace, with the Poliziotteschi and it’s themes of vigilantism and conspiracy gaining favor with Italian audiences. Dallamano was one of the first filmmakers to successfully merge the two genres and had previously seen success in his initial entry into the ‘Schoolgirls” trilogy (Solange).

Dallamano’s second offering is among the most sordid of the lot, covering topics such as prostitution, gender issues, rape, political corruption and loss of innocence in the same unflinching manner as its predecessor. Although Daughters recycles the thematic proclivities of his earlier film, this second attempt seeks to amp up the action considerably and focuses its attentions on the police investigation and procedures

Once the ensuing police investigation reveals that the girl was murdered and had not in fact commited suicide, a leather clad motorcycle riding killer is thrust into the picture. With the killers inception comes some absolutely glorious and over the top moments of truly gorey violence. This gives Dallamano an opportunity to indulge us with a truly nailbiting chase sequence. This sequence which sees several police cars chasing the motorcyclist through alleys, country roads, quarries and ends with nearly a cartoonish highlight via train.

Franco Delli Colli, one of the eras most prolific cinematographers (Strip Nude for Your Killer,Macabre, Ghost House) is at his absolute best navigating his lense through the twists and turns of the claustraphobic Roman cityscape. Delli Colli doesn’t merely settle for coverage in this chase, he shoehorns the audience into the action and delivers some interesting and exhilirating camera work.

The silhouette of the leather clad killer in a biker helmet was used extensively years later by films such as “Night School” (1981, US), Nightmare Beach (1989, Italy) and The third and final film in the Schoolgirls in Peril trilogy “Red Rings of Fear” AKA “Trauma” in 1978. None having as visceral an effect as displayed in Daughters, partly due to the savagery and graphic nature of the killers crimes. Speaking of savagery, it’s sometimes hard to believe this film was made in 1974 long before the American Slasher boom and comeuppance of practical effects stalwarts Tom Savini and Rick Baker. There were a few scenes that made me stand to attention ! It’s especially effective in contrast to the first half of the films dry police procedural elements that sometimes moves the film at a snails pace. Once we get moving, the wait proves worth it and we REALLY go somewhere.

Often just as we begin to get bogged down by the details of the investigation Dallamano always pulls a murder setpiece from thin air or give us an exhilirating action sequence that leaves us on the edge of our seats. I’d say out of the three films in the trilogy, Daughters is most certainly the standout feature for me. It reaches a happy juxtaposition between the freewheeling Action-based elements of Poliziotteschi and the tense Stalk and Slash conventions of the Giallo film. A perfect Marriage.

VIDEO: What Have They Done to Your Daughters? is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with Italian and English mono sound. The restored HD master was provided by Camera Obscura. Scanned in 2K by German Label Camera Obscura in 2016. Arrow got their hands on an incredibly organic transfer that is loaded with thick filmic grain, very little to no noticeable damage to the source material, rich vibrant colors and deep inky blacks. The presentation plays quite well with Dallamano’s Grey (outside) and Tan (inside) Color palettes and the grading is spot on. There is absolutely no evidence of any digital noise, signs of DNR or other digital tooling. Another pitch perfect visual presentation for Arrow on a borrowed scan identical to it’s original release.

AUDIO:What Have They Done to Your Daughters? features English and Italian audio tracks in LPCM Mono. In all honesty I don’t generally watch Italian films in their spoken language with subs. I made a point of giving equal attention to the Italian audio track and I must say, I really enjoyed the experience. The English LCPM Mono is about what one generally expects dialog-wise from these Italian releases. Typical post-dubbing with voice actors that never quite fit, but serve their purpose nonetheless. Both tracks sound great and act as a vehicle for the great Stelvio Cipriani‘s powerhouse score. Bombastic brass stabs,

Eerie Harpsichord lines, upright bass thumps, string arrangments that run the gammot from ominous to lavish. Stelvio always seems to have the right notes to match every situation perfectly. It’s pretty surprising you don’t hear people talk about this one, the way the would something like “Cannibal Holocaust”, it’s that good.


Audio Commentary by Troy Howarth (Author of So Deadly, So Perverse) – I didn’t actually get the opportunity to give this one a listen, but I can imagine if you’ve ever listen to a Howarth Commentary, you know exactly what you’re getting into. Troy is VERY knowledgeable guy in the field of cult and exploitation, so I can guarantee you’re going to hear something you didn’t know before.

Masters and Slaves – Video Essay with Kat Ellinger (19:44). Frequent Arrow collaborator Kat Ellinger discusses Director Massimo Dallamano’s life, career and death. The directors exploration of sexual politics, power, corruption, sadism and Italian social issues of the era. During the presentation we are shown footage from the direcotrs filmography, see photos, behind the scenes etc.  I absolutely adore Kat and the passion she has for Exploitation and the innate understanding she has when deciphering a directors body of work. Very informative and immersive presentation.

Eternal Melody- 2016 Interview with Composer Stelvio Cipriani (49:34) Previously Featured on the Camera Obscura Blu-ray. Italian W/ English subs.

The composer gives a deep dive into his childhood, upbringing, music theory, how he came to composition, early days in the business and details about his work in genre films of the era.

Dallamano’s Touch – interview with Dallamano editor and collaborator Antonio Siciliano. (22 minutes) Previously featured on Camera Obscura Blu-ray. How he came to colloborate with Dallamano, eventually becoming friends with the Director and his family,both his and Dallamano’s fascination with Ennio Morricone’s, His reaction Dallamano’s shooting style and his editing application. A very charming recollection of Dallamano as a friend and an artist.

Hardcore Footage – Explicit footage shot by the Director but never integrated into any know version of the film. Presented without sound. (5:05) I’m not into golden age erotica in any form, but some of this footage is absolutely bizarre. Some very strange kink displayed here. I’m glad it wasn’t just straight boning and there was some weird shit woven in.

English Titles (3:09)

Theatrical Trailer (3:55)

QUICK REVIEW: Devil Fish/Monster Shark Code Red Blu-Ray


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One year before Lamberto Bava directed his magnum opus Demons in 1985, He was down in Florida shooting the impetus for every single Syfy Channel original of the last 15 years. I fully acknowledge the existence of the plethora of Jaw’s rip-offs and “Animals Attack” films that came before long before this one. Films that range from Bears(Grizzly, 1976, Claws, 1977), Worms (Squirm, 1976) Whales(Orca, 1977) Spiders (Kingdom of Spiders, 1977) Squid (Tentacles, 1977) Bees (The Swarm, 1978, The Bees, 1978 ) Alligator (Alligator, 1980) to whole forests of animals (Day of The Animals, 1977) and to obviously Sharks (Tintoera:Killer Shark, 1977, Great White, 1981).







None of these films are owed such a debt by the executives of the Syfy (or however the fuck they are spelling it these days) Channel as Lamberto Bava’s Shark: Rosso nell’oceano AKA Devil Fish AKA Monster Shark. The plot is as follows:

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Questions begin to arise when bodies begin to wash ashore along the Florida coast. There’s a creature lurking in the shallows mauling scuba divers, sinking boats and confounding the authorities. The marks on the corpses don’t lead to any known animal, Sheriff Gordon (Gianni Garko, SARTANA) turns to marine biologist Bob Hogan (Dino Conti, The Last Hunter), and his colleague research scientist and Dolphin trainer Dr. Stella Dickens (Valentine Monnier, 2019:After the Fall of New York) for some answers.Stella suspects it’s the work of an unknown life form and employs the aid of an electrician named Peter (Michael Sopkiw, Blastfighter) and another marine expert named Dr. Janet Bates (Pat Starke, Zombie 4: After Death). But something is afoot as it seems someone is attempting to ensure their mission fails at all costs. She soon finds out that A shadow organization is responsible for the beast and will stop at nothing to keep their secret from getting out.



Before we start off, I should just let everyone know that I’m a huge fan of Italian genre cinema and though it’s a genre that is flawed by design, it get’s more than it’s fair share of passes from me.

Co-written by Luigi Cozzi (Contamination) and Sergio Martino (Torso) this film is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of plot. The plot is one of the film’s main problems. What should be the films main thread, the search for and battle against the Mammoth shark often times plays second fiddle to us following the organizations attempts to cover up and sabotage the biologists search for truth.


Most of the time the organizations henchman: Miller, played by Paul Branco (The Erotic Dreams of Cleopatra) an ape faced goon that is spearheading the cover up seems to be the film’s main villain. At very least he is the antagonist that receives the most screen time. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, as he handles the role with the vigor of a much more seasoned baddie. But the plot thread is not handled very well, and you can fairly easily guess who Miller is working for PRIOR to the films third act. Attempts are made to keep the identity of the villain a mystery, via introduction of a red herring in the form of Professor Donald West (David Berger, SARTANA). But as quickly as the screenplay sets up West as the possible mastermind, it completely steps away from that theory


There’s no question who our leading man in Devil Fish is however’ The incomparable Michael Sopkiw (2019: After the Fall of New York) in his second to last feature film role. Sopkiw possesses a certain rugged handsomeness that is often associated with legitimate movie stars and paired with the fact that he can actually act makes the film all-the-more watchable. Sopkiw plays Peter, an electrician and marine biologist(?) who is in the process of packing for his much-needed vacation,when he is approached by acquiantance, the “Sultry” Stella Dickens, to craft some electronic equipment essential to her research. Peter is slightly hesitant at first but ultimately agrees to do it. Later that night, Peter’s shop is ransacked by some unknown thugs who destroy the converter and beat Peter down. Peter proves himself useful to the mission. He can fix anything that has a circuit board, sleep with any woman on the planet and cannot be defeated in hand to hand combat. In a film populated mostly by scientists, he serves to be the “every man” that rises to the occasion battling the marine monster. While it is admittedly difficult to buy Sopkiw as an electronics expert, , he does have an air of confidence about him that makes it a bit easier to suspend your disbelief.


Unfortunately this is not such an easy thing to do with Dino Conti (Endgame, You’ll Die at Midnight) and Valentine Monnier (2019:After the Fall of New York). Both are credited as marine biologists, Dr.Hogan (Dino Conti) is mostly seen pounding Budweiser’s and recording fish sounds in his boat all day, which is honestly a treat.Stella Dickens ( Monnier) is sadly relegated to solely being Peter’s love interest.

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Though some of the characters exist solely to fill out the cast, I find them effective and most of the time pretty hilarious. It’s nice to see archetypes that have generally been portrayed in a certain way throughout the existence of cinema get turned on their head.


I had mentioned earlier that I felt the film wasn’t as concentrated enough on the titular Monster Shark, as I would have liked. But the moments we do get are absolute gold. Hilariously low-budget Creature effects by Devil Fish creator and “special effects artist” Ovidio Taito who had previously acted in films such as Panic (1982, Tonino Ricci) and has only a sole special effect credit under his belt. The Devil Fish is such a hammy sight in the few shots we get above the water,most of the shots are of the beast submerged in the depths and actually make him look pretty cool and fearsome. Most of the action that takes place above the water is a REAL tentacle show, although we do get some quick cuts of the creatures head and sternum. I love how cheap and tacky Italian monster effects look in general and this film is no exception. It’s often pretty hilarious to watch the tentacles flail about plucking people from the boat and throwing them and drowning them and even occasionally chomping down on them. There’s a great deal of spastic editing as I’m sure was used as a tool to conceal how cheaply the creature was constructed, but those moments only lend itself to the camp factor of the film.


The finale of this film is truly a sight to be seen. The finale makes the film as whole seem like it’s on a much grander scheme and on much more bloated budget.The fire and mayhem really light up the night sky and by the time we get to where wea re going, they’re actual stakes. I’m not saying that they aren’t ridiculous and convaluted stakes, but they give the film some urgency it lacked through most of it’s runtime.

I’m sure a lot of people will find the films tone uneven and even slightly confusing (I didn’t realize Michael Sopkiw is a biologist of some sort, or is he?) But I found the film campy and fun and didn’t mind the dull parts in the middle. The practical effects are near Nico Matorakis “Tentacles” level and I really appreciate a cheap looking monster on film. Micheal Sopkiw is sort of cross of Ted Bundy and Brad Pitt and can act suprisingly well for the company he keeps within the film. Overall, if you’re a fan of quirky, cheap italian cinema, I suggest picking this up.


VIDEO: Presented in the original Anamorphic 1:85:1 widescreen on a single layer Region Free Blu-ray. A brand new scan from Code Red DVD and extensive color correction have the film looking as good as it ever has.
There’s only a few light scratches from the source material, grain field is solid and grain structure is goregoeus especially during the underwater scenes and during the evening finale sequence. A well saturated and natural looking presentation that really gets a chance to show off it’s shooting location in the Florida Keys. No signs of digital tooling or DNR.

AUDIO: English DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track that is clear and punchy and during the action scenes will really rock your home theater system. There’s no audio hisses or pops I have noticed at the time of this writing. Like many Code Red titles there is no English SDH to speak of, but even for a stickler like myself I didn’t have any issues understanding the dialog.

Special Features:
As with the previous Blastfighter Blu-Ray Michael Sopkiw is back for an Audio Commentary that truly delivers. Sopkiw is charming and intelligent and offers many insights to this low budget Italian production. Sopkiw drops a few juicy nuggets like the fact that he was not aware Sergio Martino had co-written the film WITH Cozzi. It’s a fun commentary that I really enjoyed and often times commentaries are’t my bag.

REVIEW: Blood Theatre AKA Movie House Massacre Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray

REVIEW: Blood Theatre AKA Movie House Massacre (1984) Dir: Rick Sloane. Whooo-weee what a stinker we have for you today! And no suprise considering Schlock-wizard Rick Sloane went on just a few years later to direct the abysmal 1988 Gremlins rip-off “Hobgoblins”. A film, 10 years later,  he himself shamelessly submitted to Mystery Science Theater 3000 for “review”. The episode has become infamous within the cult film community and helped garner enough subsequent interest in the film that home video releases for both Hobgoblins (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-Ray) and Hobgoblins 2 (2009, Shout Factory DVD) have come to fruition since. So I supposed it’s no surprise that the Directors first film “Blood Theatre” AKA Movie House Massacre befalls a very similar fate and also received the deluxe treatment from Vinegar Syndrome. I’ve heard this film mentioned on a few occasions, in passing, over the years and I have always been pretty curious about it. A “Slasher” film, filmed exclusively in a movie theatre with a dark past, how could that not be great? Let me explain. The films “plot” involves a movie theater thats has been closed down after several years before the previous owner has mental break and kills the staff and patrons because (I think) he is forced to convert the space into a movie theatre from an opera venue due to poor attendance.

All we are shown is him stabbing 2 of the staff and lighting a film reel on fire, so one might assume the patrons die from smoke inhalation? Anyway, years later “Spot Light Cinema” a classy theater chain which specializes in such releases as The Clown Whores of Hollywood, Amputee Hunger and Chainsaw Chicks, acquires the theater with plans to re-open it as it’s 11th location.  Mr Murdoch- the slimy, general manager chooses three of his best employees- Adrian (Andrew Cofrin), Malcolm (Daniel Schafer), and Jennifer (Jenny Cunningham who moonlights as a perky blonde poodle-haired cheerleader in her spare time), to get the old place ready for opening night with a $1,000 bonus on the line if they can pull it off. Murdoch fails to mention the tragedy that befell the venue at the hands of the previous owner, despite the efforts of his archly camp assistant (B-Movie Maiden Mary Waranov, who is completely wasted in this role) to extort paid vacations in lew of informing the chosen staff of the theatres ghastly past. This films major problem (for me, at least) is that there is absolutely no semblance of tension or even an attempt to wring any such suspense out of the paper thin plot. The staff wander the theatre and are murdered (bloodlessly I might add) one after the other. And that’s about the size of it. The films previous owner and resident “slasher” is played by a geriatric old geezer in a tuxedo whom waddles the aisles of the theatre killing the new inhabitants with a dull kitchen knife. There’s a vague supernatural undertone and it’s hinted that the murderous ex-owner has some kind of supernatural powers, but that’s fluffed unsurprisingly, and what we do see- doors slamming shut and lights flickering is no more menacing than a trip to a retirment community.

Aside from the films prolugue, we are dropped into an 80’s sitcom about teens who work in a movie theatre and the hijinx that take place there and we remain there for about 30 minutes until something that might be mistaken for a slasher film begins to happen.The film is entirely devoid of any special effects besides quite literally the worst decapitation ever commited to celluloid and maybe a bottle of ketchup.

The films score sounds as though it was composed on a Casio keyboard with about 25 keys missing and spread throughout the film are a series of “WHOOSH” sound effects that accompanies any door opening. The film fails to deliver scares or laughs on any scale and at the end, you’ve just spent 75 minutes watching people just doing things on camera.

The film isn’t without it’s merits though. There’s a few unintentional laughs here, mostly provided by the sneering and bitchy snack bar attendant Selena (Joanna Fox) and a few of her juvenile delinquent ushers. Selena is the architype for this particular trope. She says and does ridiculous things without reason or causation and you never know what ludicrous thing she’ll do next.There’s a particular scene during a showing of Chainsaw Chicks that will assuredly have your mouth agape.

This film is truly next level bad, almost in a way that has to be seen. So mind-numbingly inept and cheap it makes me want to award an extra star to every other mediocre slasher I’ve seen just for possessing basic competence. This film is riddled with plot holes, continuity errors, cardboard characters and painfully unfunny “comic” elements. Fun ideas emerge every so often only to be trampled over by the piss poor execution. Even the basic premise doesn’t make a lick of sense. Most certainly for fans of “So bad, it’s good” film and even those who flock to films like Birdemic and The Room may be running for the concession stand

VIDEO: Vinegar Syndromes 2k scan looks stunning as usual. Blacks are inky and deep, skin hues are pink and vibrant. Colors are in general are saturated and full. The scan is everything you’ve come to expect from VS and everything they continue to deliver. Even for a bad movie like this, theres no one I’d rather have doing restorations of these obscure films.

Audio: The English DTS-HD Mono track sounds really good and captures that dodgy sountrack and WHOOSH-ing sound effect quite well. Dialog is clear and stands out in the audio mix so you’re never straining to understand what the characters are sneering about.

Special Features:

Newly scanned and restored in 2k from their 35mm camera negatives

• Bonus feature film: THE VISITANTS (1987), directed by Rick Sloane

• Commentary track with Rick Sloane on BLOOD THEATRE & THE VISITANTS

• Ensemble introduction from a screening at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles with: Rick Sloane, Mary Woronov (actress BLOOD THEATRE), Marcus Vaughter (actor THE VISITANTS), Jordana Capra (actress THE VISITANTS)

• BLOOD THEATRE, post film Q&A with: Rick Sloane and Mary Woronow

• Commentary track for BLOOD THEATRE with: The Hysteria Continues!

• Reversible cover for THE VISITANTS

• English SDH subtitles

REVIEW: Death 4: The Crackdown/Death Wish V: The Face of Death Canon Classics Double Feature Umbrella Entertainment All Region Blu-Ray

BUY IT HERE:–5–cannon-classics—blu-ray.html

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

Somehow, Paul Kersey has found a new family unit in Karen (Kay Lenz) a much younger (always), beautiful Reporter and her teenage daughter Erica (Dana Barron).

Kersey seems to be living a quite, domesticated live in the suburbs of Los Angeles, that is until Erica begins acting strange. Paul attributes this to her new douchebag boyfriend, whom he suspects is supplying Erica with illegal drugs, and when his dealer, Cubano street thug JoJo Ross, hands Erica a potent new drug called “crack”, the teen tragically overdoses before Karen and Paul’s very eyes.

Enraged by Erica’s senseless death, Paul goes after the dealer, his murder by the hands of Kersey attracts the attention of millionaire Nathan White (John P. Ryan, class of 1999) who threatens to out him as the infamous NYC street vigilante, if he does not comply.

It also attracts the attention of detectives Reiner (George Dickerson) and Nozaki (Soon-Tek Oh) who place Kersey’s vehicle at the scene. White, motivated by the death of his very own daughter, also wants to take down both drug cartels, one headed by Ed Zacharias (Perry Lopez), the other by the Romero brothers (Mike Moroff and Dan Ferro), and offers to fund Kersey’s exploits if he agrees to do what he does best; kill criminals.

While Michael Winner finally escaped the series, (conveniently to direct Canon’s Appointment with Death) the producers of Death Wish 4: The Crackdown employed J. Lee Thompson, who had collaborated with Bronson on several films including St. Ives, 10 to Midnight, Murphy’s Law and had also directed genuine classics, like The Guns of Navarone and Cape Fear. Thompson also had a good working relationship with the producers at Canon Films. Thompson’s direction is consistently sharp and classy, not to mention better than Winner’s on average (Winner still wins when it comes to explosive mayhem), but he sometimes doesn’t have much to work with script-wise. The opening sequence is a good example of the upgrade in direction. A really nice play on slasher and horror movie tropes ala The Toolbox Murders, this sequence starts as a female victim desperately tries to start her conveniently broken automobile. Every time she looks down at the ignition another masked man appears before her, arms crossed.

Then, just like Michael Myers, all three are gone, only to leap into view at the most startling moment possible. As the bad guys tear off her clothes, they stop to look ahead, where a black trench coat-clad Kersey stands, gun drawn, announcing that he is ‘death’, before gunning the creeps down. Then he flips the final would-be rapist over to reveal…his own face. Turns out it was a nightmare. And with that we are back to the Death Wish format, albeit, with Bronson procuring a more pronounced “assasin” role than his “street vigilante” identity in the previous three films. Bronson has some new tricks up his sleeve this round: Expertise with plastic explosives, bomb-making and even some surprisingly effective defensive hand-to-hand combat. Bronson, to his credit, delivers yet another solid performance. It’s effortless. He plays calm and cool like nobody else, but is nearly veering incredibly close to robotic. But when he puts on the charm, or has that little twinkle in his eye, it’s hard to believe he could blow you away within the blink of an eye.

By 1987, Bronson was showing some serious age, yet it doesn’t slow him down or prevent him from being quite imposing. Quite the contrary, age and experience has only made him more capable. It’s hard to think of anyone else in this role. Not only is Bronson very capable in the role, his Paul Kersey character seems to be more strategic and cunning, which lends itself to the plot later on. We get so much more than blowing away bad guys in alleys and I think it elevates this film in such a way 1-3 could never muster. Bronson is the headliner, but we get some top shelf performances from genre veterans John P. Ryan (Star Time, Class of 1999) who chews through scenery scene after scene as Nathan White. I’ve always considered Ryan to be one of the most undderated genre actors and he has a turn late in the film that really showcases his range. And the beautiful Kay Lenz (Headhunter, Stripped to Kill) who is sparse on screen time here, lights up the screen in every scene she is featured. It’s a fairly small role that requires her to deliver and understated, nuanced performance and she does exactly that. Her performance is far from forgettable. All in all, I feel “The Crackdown” has a lot more depth than your average Death Wish film. It was panned by critics upon release, mostly for following the same formula as the previous films and also making a 65 year old man play the role of “John Rambo” type. Issues I have absolutely no problem with. Each Death Wish film always feels somehow fresh to me and this one actually makes an effort to give Bronson some new skills. Skills that actually aid his thirst for vengeance and give him means to deal more damage and death. This film is tragically underrated and unfairly panned. This film, in my honest opinion, is better than Death Wish 3 and depends much less on cringe inducing shocks than it’s predecessor.

Death Wish V: The Face of Death. And what a face it is. Charles Bronson’s round, weather-beaten, haggard face, which was 73 years old at the time of this films release in 1994. Most men at that have transitioned their bloodlust into hobbies such as shuffleboard , things involving Matlock re-runs and toffee. It’s an awful shame Bronson felt obligated, either by himself, or from 21st Century Film Corp (their first Death Wish, after the fall of Canon) to continue this charade of “revenge”.

It’s also increasingly difficult that Paul Kersey even has a family unit to avenge at this point, nonetheless ANOTHER woman thirty years his junior. The victim this time is Paul’s girlfriend, a fashion designer named Olivia (The gorgeous Lesley-Anne Down) who evidently didn’t get the memo that if you have any kind of relationship with Paul Kersey, you will be murdered.

She probably thought she’d be safe hooking up with a man 30 years her senior. SHE WAS WRONG. Her ex-husband, Tommy O’Shea (Michael Parks), is a gangster who apparently has his hooks in every aspect of Olivia’s fashion empire. Paul is at Olivia’s headquarters for a fashion show — the one thing Paul loves more than shooting muggers is checking out the Calvin Klein fall collection — when Tommy shows and starts badgering the hired help.

It’s also important that I mention that Olivia’s fashion headquarters is equipped with a gigantic, open acid pit with no guardrails or warning signs. OSHA would literally have a shit-fit about such hazards in the workplace. I get the impression that the acid pit was installed specifically so Tommy could make a point, by throwing mannequins into it a menacing manner.

We soon learn that Tommy is a violent creep and Paul Kersey simply CANNOT resist getting involved. He calls up his old cop pal Hoyle (Saul Rubinek) and his partner Vasquez (Miguel Sandoval), both are familiar with Tommy as an Irish gangster that they have been pursuing for 16 years, yet can never seem to make anything stick. Bronson tells the two detectives that Olivia will gladly testify to Tommy’s past criminal enterprises and indiscretions.

This is where the fun and insanity begins and I won’t ruin any of that for you.

There’s a lot of family melodrama, custody battles, cross dressing, acid baths, shitty make-up effects (sharpie, anyone) Bumbling police interference (the usual) and Bronson’s face (Yes, the face of death) not baring anything that could even be mistaken for a semblance of emotion.

All of the things I mention above actual prevent the film from settling into the Street Vigilantism we know so well from these films. There’s so many scenes at City Hall that I felt like I was watching an episode of “Night Court”. After about 45 minutes of the films 90 minute runtime, Bronson finally gets off his old ass. The wait is nearly unbearable. Once the action picks up we are treated to several of the series most bizarre and outlandish kills, The thing is, they come at a snails pace. There’s not really any hand-to-hand combat and surprisingly little gunplay. Given Bronson’s ripe old age, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising the nature and pace of the kills is more silent and deadly than fast and furious. There’s one kill scene in particular that, while cool, is so head -scratchingly random and unexplained, Bronson’s age will be the least concerning thing at play in this film.

The late Michael Parks is the films saving grace. His flamboyant musings paired with sociopathic rage build a character that isn’t your typical baddie. Call me a romantic, but I’ve always considered Parks a national treasure who’s range was off the charts. It’s really cool to see him at this stage in his career that is less known to newer cinema fans. He’s the only person in this film that actual delivers a memorable performance and builds an actual character.

Let’s get down to brass tacks.

If you want a serious Death Wish film, this is certainly not it.

If you like your action fare odd and quirky, you’ll dig this one.

The film is slow the first 45 minutes, but it’s also really weird.

Once the action picks up, it’s short-lived, but also really weird.

The series has finally taken Charles Bronson’s spirit and he never builds up the ferocity he once had.

VIDEO: Umbrella Entertainment have dug up two of the cleanest 80’s film prints in existence. Presented in it’s Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.  Colors are beautifully saturated, blacks are deep and inky. Flesh tones have gorgeous  pink hues to them and clarity is very high. A very “filmic” viewing experience with excellent grain structure most noticeably in darker scenes. A very organic presentation. Zero emulsion lines, no specks or spots.  Easily the best this film has ever looked.

AUDIO: English: Both presentations use DTS-HD Master Audio Mono/English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The biggest issue I’ve had out of my old MGM DW4&5 Blu-rays was the thin and muddy sounding audio track. I had to crank my volume to 65 only to have to reduce it to 35 during the action.  The audio track on this disc is HUGE upgrade. Dialog is clear and concise, I never felt like I was trying to interpret what was being said. The films score and audio effects are super punchy, but aren’t overbearing and didn’t require me to reduce my volume during action scenes. There are no audio dropouts, pops or crackles. Overall an impressive upgrade.


AUDIO COMMENTARIES BY PAUL TALBOT – Paul Talbot is one of the foremost researchers of the Death Wish film series and offers a wealth of information throughout the entirety of both films. There’s an astounding amount of facts presented by Mr. Talbot and I found his commentary absolutely mesmerizing. Two feature length commentaries that I breezed through with relative ease. This is one of the most informational and genuinely intersting commentaries I’ve ever had the privilege to listen to. This disc is worth the price of admission for these commentaries alone.







You can pick up the movie from:–5–cannon-classics—blu-ray.html


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