REVIEW: Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds Umbrella Entertainment All Region Blu-ray

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SPIRITS OF THE AIR, GREMLINS OF THE CLOUDS UMBRELLA ENTERTAINMENT ALL REGION BLU-RAY IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE (LINKS BELOW)

https://www.umbrellaent.com.au/movies/3761-spirits-of-the-air-gremlins-of-the-clouds-blu-ray-beyond-genres.html

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirits-Air-Gremlins-Clouds/dp/B07F3Z9GD6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541848388&sr=8-1&keywords=spirits+of+the+air+gremlins+of+the+clouds

(All screen-caps have been taken directly from the Umbrella Entertainment Blu-Ray, no alterations have been made to the images. Images are uncompressed)

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“Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds” marks the 1989 feature film debut of Egyptian-Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas. Proyas is best known for directing the visually arresting film adaptation of James O’Barrs comic book series “The Crow” in 1994. Proyas started his film-making career much earlier in much the same way as Russell Mulcahy (Razorback) in the world of music videos and shorts. During the early 1980’s Proyas directed video for artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Yes, INXS, Mike Oldfield, Cock Robin and Crowded House and produced many low budget short films (Neon, Groping, Strange Residues). Originally conceived as a 45 minute short film with hopes to secure a government grant to fund the film, Proyas was approached by the Australian Rock group INXS to fund a feature length version of the film for theatrical release.

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Entering production at the tail-end of the Post-Apocalyptic film boom of the 1980’s, “Spirits” does indeed share similar locales of previous Australian film shot in the Broken Hill area of the Australian Outback. Despite the locales, the film seemingly does not possess any of the well-worn tropes that saturated the genre during the period. There are no flamethrower monster trucks or spikey pseudo-leather daddy bondage get-ups. Proyas‘ aim seems to be minimalism, centered around big concepts, both abstract and concrete. Philosophical themes of death, hope, paranoia, religion and technology are all major parts of the films narrative. Think more Tarkovksy or Jodorowsky than George Miller or Cirio H. Santiago.

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“Spirits” is a parable set in the distant future, after an unspecified cataclysm has befallen humanity. Wheelchair-bound, alcoholic Felix Crabtree (Michael Lake) and his deranged religiously-fixated sister, Betty (Rhys Davis) find their quiet, forlorn lives disrupted when a stranger (Norman Boyd) appears at their rundown farmhouse on the edge of a vast desert. Calling himself “Smith”, the black-clad obtruder keeps his origins to himself, but it is later revealed that he is on the run from someone or something in the South. Betty believes that Smith is a demon. Smith mentions his desire for flight – quite a coincidence, as Felix is obsessed with building a glider to clear the mountains to the north and fly off to a new life. Smith and Felix set out together to build a glider and circumnavigate a treacherous mountain range in the North, all the while contending with Betty’s paranoia and general psychosis.

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Much like Razorback director Russell Mulcahy, Alex Proyas gift for surreal, painting-style visuals and deeply saturated colors is present throughout “Spirits” 96 minutes. From the films outset, we are treated to a hypnotic and sweeping desert vista complete with burnt orange sands under a backdrop of turquoise sky. A lone wanderer makes his way through the barren wasteland, surrounded by a formation of vintage automobiles buried nose-deep in sand.
Lead production designer Sean Callinan’s bold “found objects as art” visual approach takes basic items and uses their inclusion to introduce symbolism into the films narrative.

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Proyas, like Tarkovsky, has a genuine and continued interest in spirituality as it relates to humanity. “Spirits” is filled with symbols representative of religion and technology and even things seemingly added for decoration can hold weight against the films narrative. Take for example, dozens of artfully decorated crosses adorning spaces both inside and out, we later find out that the siblings recently deceased Father was a religious fundamentalist who’s treatment of the siblings, have left both cracked, and left Betty forever scarred with a general mistrust of outsiders and unseen evil. Speaking of Betty (Rhys Davis), she delivers a very theatrical performance that would not seem out of place in the silent cinema of the Roaring 20’s. Her performance is expressive in nearly an over-the-top fashion, and when she emotes there is an certain ‘exclamation” to every action, both in dialog and in movement. With her caked-on makeup, home-made Cello and bizarre Victorian-era dresses, Betty seems to be representative of a bygone era. Davis’ appearance, paired with her performance create an odd juxtaposition between the old world and the bleak, bombed out future.

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Michael Lake’s performance as Felix Crabtree is a but more nuanced and has an emotional resonance that for all of Davis flailing and snarling could not equate.One gets the impression that Felix isn’t necessarily in his right mind, but it’s hard to deny his passion and dogged determination.
Felix spends hours on end alone in his workshop obsessively tinkering away, dreaming of a different life just over the mountains. It is alluded to towards the middle of the film that previous attempts at flight took his ability to walk and left him confined to a wheelchair. It may be his deteriorated mental health or the severity of his alcoholism that propels his passions, but his outward and internal struggle is at the films emotional core.

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Norman Boyd as “Smith” in his only film performance was not as multi faceted or dimensional as I’d hoped, but I did find a subtle menace to the character and I had genuine suspicions about his intentions. He doesn’t have many lines or character development, and mostly just stands around grimacing at Felix.

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Another of the films strong points worth mentioning is it’s Peter Miller composed score. Miller creates a haunting electronic soundscape with flourishes of Morriconian bliss. The score much like the film itself, can be hopeful and triumphant one moment and discordant and tense a moment later.
Overall, the dynamics between the small cast kept me engaged and uncomfortable for the films 96 minutes. The films pacing seems to be deliberate, but also may be maddening for those hoping to get to a resolution without embracing the ride. Some may call it sluggish, but I appreciated the time with these strange and quirky individuals, isolated from whatever world remains after the fall. And just when you think there is a resolution, even bigger philosophical questions are raised and will have you scratching your head and wondering why ‘Spirits” never had a proper continuation. Overall the film is visually stunning, imbued with philosophical and religious symbolism and populated with odd and interesting characters. This film may not be every ones taste, and while sharing similarities, there is certainly no other film to compare “Spirits” to, not even Proyas later works.

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VIDEO:Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (30.36 Mbps)
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.26:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.33:1

“Spirits” has been regarded as something of a lost film for nearly 30 years, And even in the digital society we live in, it has been hard to come across anything above a second generation VHS scan ripped onto a DVD. Thankfully in 2018 Umbrella Entertainment have revived the film with a brand new 2K scan from the original 16mm Camera Negative. This new scan is absolutely stunning. High contrast,  saturated colors, deep inky blacks, filmic grain structure and nice sharp lines. Of course a film this vintage has some blemishes, but Umbrella has managed to do an excellent job with clean-up. Truly a top-tier presentation of an under-seen film by one of films most visionary auteurs. No signs of digital tooling or noise reduction are present.

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AUDIO:English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit).

I generally prefer 2.0 audio tracks for older films and this one is no different. DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is well balanced, dialog is clear and easily understood. Peter Millers soundtrack is at the forefront (though it sounds a bit bigger with the 5.0 track)
Overall, both 2.0 and 5.0 are both well balanced and clear. No audio dropouts or sync issues appear.

EXTRA FEATURES
– Audio Commentary with Director Alex Proyas – Alex Proyas speaks in-depth about the production of the film, the Broken Hill shooting location, the difficulty of shooting on such a tight budget. He shares how many key shots were concieved and ultimately performed and also shares some stories from set.

– Audio Commentary with Composer Peter Miller
and Editor Craig Wood

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– Interview with cast member Michael Lake (36 minutes) – New interview featuring lead actor Michael Lake. Lake discusses working with Director Alex Proyas and the productions hectic shooting schedule. How it was important for himself, Davis and Boyd to film takes in as few attempts as possible as to not waste film. Lake discusses many aspects of his experience working on the low budget film. Lake touches on Peter Miller’s ace score and also discusses Proyas’ filmography. I don’t know what it is about Lake, but I find him absolutely fascinating.

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– Interview with cast member Rhys Davis – Davis discusses her short-lived acting career, she shares a few anectdotes from the set, discusses the shooting location. I was hoping to hear a little more about her wild and over-the-top character and her motivation for the role. But overall, a pretty informative interview.

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– SPIRITS: Making a Post-Apocalypse Western
featurette (24 minutes) Vintage shot-on-video video diary recalling the production of “Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds”
I absolutely love this style of ‘Making of” featurette and how raw and candid it is. The camera travels around the set during the filming of many key scenes and I found it fascinating to see how they certain films were shot.


– SPIRITS SONG music video – (4 minutes) – A fun and strange artifact, with music production by Peter Miller and featuring vocals by Karina Hayes. All 3 cast members (Davis, Lake, Boyd) make short appearances in this zany video that is very much a product of its time.

– Image Gallery – Production stills, theatrical and home video artwork, behind the scenes photos, concept art. The image gallery also contains 2 Easter Eggs, one is the Proyas short film “Eyeball” which I was not familiar with, but was a cool little horror short.

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REVIEW: To Catch A Killer Umbrella Entertainment DVD

The new “To Catch A Killer” Umbrella Entertainment DVD is Available to purchase below:

https://www.umbrellaent.com.au/tv/3771-to-catch-a-killer.html?#search_query=TO+CATCH+A+KILLER+&results=1

(All screen-caps have been taken directly from the Umbrella Entertainment DVD, no alterations have been made to the images. Images are uncompressed)

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In a sea of Syfy original movies and low budget television productions, It is very easy to forget that there have been some potent and effective television films made throughout the years. Sure, there are well known TV movie staples such as ‘Salem’s Lot” “IT” “Trilogy of Terror” and “Dark Night of the Scarecrow” that have captured the imaginations of a generation and will forever hold a place in film history. And then there are films, despite their high quality and effective nature, seem to have been nearly forgotten over the last few decades.”To Catch A Killer” most certainly fits into the latter category. I’ll be the first to admit, in the past, I haven’t been to keen on exploring films produced specifically for television. My main issues with the TV movies are the content limitations set forth by the TV stations, the FCC and advertisers. I’m not generally interested in my cinema being filtered and sanitized by any governing body or authoritative agency. But, every now and again a well-made film slips through into my sphere and I am impressed on how effective the medium can be when left with a talented cast and crew.

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To Catch A Killer reflects upon the twilight period of John Wayne Gacy’s (Brian Dennehy) career as a serial killer, namely the investigation of the disappearance of his final teenage victim Chris Gant (based on real life victim Robert Piest) and detective Lt. Joe Kozenczak (Michael Riley) of the Des Plaines police department and his hunt to find the man resposible.

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I was fairly surprised to learn that “To Catch A Killer” was originally aired on and widely distributed in three countries (US, UK, CA) by 20th Century Fox and even though generally well received by critics,considering the film has nearly been forgotten through the passage of time. Director Eric Till had a prolific career in television and film since the 1950’s. Predominately Working in the scripted television sector, Till directed more than 50 films produced for the small screen and even had a run directing “Fraggle Rock” and “The Twilight Zone” in the early 80’s among other things. ‘To Catch A Killer” was made when Till’s demand was at it’s absolute highest, he made 5 films in 1992 alone. Till seems to be striving for realistic simplicity, as the whole of the film is dominated by painstaking police work. Till offered in an interview with the Chicago Tribune ‘We`re not dealing with Clint Eastwood policemen here””They`re ordinary folk, just like the rest of us, and they discover a horrific situation. This was one of America`s first serial killers, and it was in a small town.”

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vlcsnap-2018-10-29-10h42m32s598The combination of Till’s experience and steady hand paired with some passionate performances make “To Catch A Killer” a higher caliber production that many TV movies of this time.The first thing you might notice is that the film is separated into two 90-minute halves. Each half representing a linear passage of time during the police investigation. This format is incredibly effective for this kind of biographical true crime story and it enables the film to shift tone seamlessly without the narrative feeling uneven. The first half of the film is more a straight police-procedural with some dramatic familial elements dealing with loss. Though John Wayne Gacy’s story will forever be known to the world, I found it fascinating to meet the Gacy the public saw.

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Throughout the first half Screenwriter Jud Kinberg legitimately makes the viewer cast genuine doubt upon Gacy as a suspect. Serial Killers like Gacy, Bundy and Dahmer are able to integrate themselves into society with learned actions and behaviors that mask their lack of internal personality structure and lack of ability to experience genuine emotions. Dennehy brings a subdued quality to Gacy, at first. Gacy seems outwardly charming and charismatic, a self -made man who is seemingly charitable and kind. Dennehy is able to produce a shallow warmth, But there is a darkness and tension just bubbling under the surface that threatens to spill over and expose him for the maniac he truly is. The first part of “To Catch A Killer” is heavy on details and dialog. With a lesser cast and screenwriter so many painstaking details may be mind-numbing to a casual viewer. Part one is informative, but never felt boring or even entirely educational.

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The thing that TKAC get’s so right, is pace and direction. Even as a huge true crime fan, I learned so much about Gacy and the circumstances around his crime, I felt as though I didn’t blink for entire first half of the film. One thing that keeps you engaged in part 1 is the interplay between Michael Riley and Brian Dennehy. The dialog between the two absolute electricity and it is thrilling watching their battle of wits throughout the film. Part 2 of the film finds the investigation of Chris Gants disappearance in a state of absolute deadlock as Lt. Joe Kozenczak attempts to gather sufficient evidence for a search warrant of Gacy’s residence. Gacy has been placed under 24 hour surveillance and is beginning to crack under the pressure. Where part 1 of “To Catch A Killer” is highly informational, part 2 amps up the sheer entertainment value and evolves into a straight up cat and mouse game between the Des Plaines Police Department and John Wayne Gacey. I’m sure some will prefer the films second act over the first, but for me, the second act would be nowhere near as effective without the heavy amount of exposition involved within part 1.

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Brian Dennehy, brings disparate layers to his performance as John Wayne Gacey. Much like the man himself, Dennehy’s performance embodies both sides of John Wayne Gacy’s personality. The charming, civic-minded business man and community leader and the cunning, cold and calculating lust murderer who killed over 33 young men in Cook County, Illinois. In the beginning Dennehy portrays Gacy as a charismatic and charitable pillar of the community, with an understandably defiant stance about his involvement in the disappearance of Chris Gant. It’s captivating to see Dennehy’s nuanced transformation from “Good John” to “Bad John”. Gacey’s behavior is aggressive and even manic at times, and it’s such a treat to see a veteran actor going all in and commiting fully to the role. It’s a shame that this film is not held to higher esteem, because this is truly a career high for Brian Dennehy.

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Michael Riley as real-life Des Plaines Leiutenant Detective Joe Kozenczak is the beating heart of “To Catch A Killer”. Riley plays Kozenczak with a warmth and an emotional intelligence that have been staples of his career. Kozenczak is easy to cheer on for his dogged police work in the face of adversity alone. No matter how many setbacks he is forced to endure throughout the films 3 hour length, the lieutenant remains steadfast and determined to prove Gacy’s guilt.

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Other standout roles include Margot Kidder as psychic Rachel Grayson, who offers pivotal information about the crime, to the amusement of the Des Plaines Police force and the media covering the case. Kidders role is small, but effective. During the session that gives police insights to Gant’s disappearance, Kidder delivers an emotional performance that will touch viewers, but also leave them on the edge of their seats.

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Overall:To Catch A Killer is an obscure but incredibly well-made True Crime thrill-ride, featuring an ensemble cast that offers up a tremendous amount of information in an effective format. I was very pleased with the amount of detail included in the film and that they did not attempt to shoehorn the whole narrative into a single 90 minute package. Leave it to Umbrella Entertainment to release this under-seen, under-rated gem to a new generation of film fans.

REVIEW: Razorback Umbrella Entertainment Blu-Ray

The new Razorback 4K Remastered All Region Blu-ray from Umbrella Entertainment is Available to purchase below:

https://www.umbrellaent.com.au/movies/3741-razorback-beyond-genres-blu-ray.html

http://www.diabolikdvd.com/product/razorback-umbrella-blu-ray-all-region/

https://www.amazon.com/Razorback-Blu-ray/dp/B077TZX4HQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1539432975&sr=8-2&keywords=razorback+blu-ray

(All screen-caps have been taken directly from the Umbrella Entertainment Blu-Ray, no alterations have been made to the images. Images are uncompressed)

I had originally typed a much more lengthy review, but during the process of a finishing the review my computer crashed and the original final draft was lost. I did my best re-create the sentiments contained within the original draft.

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Russell Mulcahy is name that might not spring to your mind immediately when discussing Exploitation film, but you most certainly have seen his work before. Mulcahy is responsible for a mass of iconic music video’s from the 70’s and 80’s. The Director got his start in the late 70’s directing video’s for one hit wonders like The Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Stars”), The Vapors (“Turning Japanese”) all the way to certifiable Rockstars like Duran Duran, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Bonnie Tyler. If you were alive at any point during the Music Video Revolution, you have seen Mulcahy‘s work, whether you ever knew it or not.

Returning to his native Australia fresh from his success in directing music videos in the UK, Russell Mulcahy teamed up with “The Road Warriors” Academy Award winning Director of Photography Dean Semler to blend his own distinct visual flair with Semler‘s rollicking camera movements. The camera literally never stops moving. The result is one of the most eye-catching “Exploitation” films ever made.

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From the films very first frame, Mulcahy‘s “new wave” flair is immediately evident and entirely hypnotic. The film lets you know you are in for an interesting and unique journey as the opening credits singularly creates an oddly twisted and unpleasant pairing of sight and sound. Within the prologue, the camera slowly pans over a children’s swing eerily blowing in the breeze, as a foreboding and resonant synthesizer note reverberates throughout. There are scarecrows and wire fences outlined against a scarlet sunset with the towering shadow of a weather-vane covering the house as it turns in the light of an approaching storm. We are lulled into a placid and yet heedful state, transfixed by the deeply saturated and sweeping images of rural Australia.

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And that’s when it happens. Jake Cullen (Bill Kerr) is putting his young Grandson Scotty down for bed when he hears a strange sounds emanating from outside. Jake grabs his trusty rifle and sets off outside to track the disturbance. Before Jake is able to get a shot off, he is gored by the mountainous boar and temporarily immobilized. The beast bursts through each wall of the home and hauls the young boy away into the darkness. I should mention, somehow during the assault the house catches fire and the inferno envelopes the home in a matter of seconds. The title card drops whilst old man is reduced to his knees, howling at the night sky.

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Yes, this film is mainly about the effects of a gigantic flesh-eating pig stalking people in a small outback town. But, there are is also a thread about news reporter and animal rights campaigner Beth Winters (Judy Morris) who is given an assignment to investigate a kangaroo slaughterhouse (PETPAK) in Australia.There’s the squalid Kangaroo hunting Baker brothers, Dicko Baker (David Argue) and the one-eyed Benny (Chris Haywood) that work at PETPAK who are terrorizing people all over the region. There’s Carl Winters’ (Gregory Harrison) arrival in the outback after the disappearance of Beth. There’s a subplot involving Jake Cullen’s road to redemption after the disappearance of his grandon. There’s a subplot involving Jake’s conservationist Niece Sarah Cameron (Arkie Whitely) and so on and so fourth.There’s simply a whole lot going on within “Razorbacks” 95 minutes. One may think that so many deviations from the may plot may impede the films momentum, but the fact that all these stories are important and ultimately orbit the primary plot, give the film substantial depth compared to many films it’s persuasion.

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From the very first Boar attack, “Razorback” takes off and leaves your head spinning. Mulcahy uses a multitude of filming techniques Hard zooms, dutch angles, timed cuts, shaky cam, all to ensure the viewer is constantly on the edge of their seats. The film does have its sober, thoughtful moments, but they are few and far between. The film is mostly peppered with gracefully shot chase scenes ala “Mad Max“, barbarous depictions of animal aggression and even some playfulness to top it off. Head Editor William M. Morrison (The Truman Show, Robocop 2), cuts the film to perfection.  Constantly switching vantage points, giving the film a very frenetic energy that only adds to Razorbacks palpable narrative friction. Bill Kerr gives a stoic performance brimming with an understated passion as hunter Jake Cullen. I really liked Kerr, but I felt like he didn’t get enough screen time and I was interested in learning a little more about him. TV star Gregory Harris delivers a sly and like-able turn as a widower seeking retribution.It’s really enjoyable watching this good looking city boy roughing it in the Outback with the Baker Brothers. Speaking of the Bakers, the two brothers deliver my favorite performance(s) in the film.

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Dicko and Benny (David Argue and Chris Haywood) are appropriately over-the-top and menacing. There’s a margin of charm displayed by duo that often reminded me of visiting relatives in the Appalachian Mountains. Not a sliver of affluence or opulence, these two violent thugs absolutely make my skin crawl and you’ll be begging for their comeuppance the entire duration of the film.

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Despite the fact that many exploitation  films of the early 80’s were vastly underfunded, “Razorback” was one of the most expensive Aussie films of the era, clocking in at a staggering 5.5 million AUD (keep in mind this was this was the early 80’s) and it looks the part. Rumor has it, the animatronic boar used to for shooting cost the production an estimated $250,000. Not to mention importing an popular American TV star (Gregory Harrison, Trapper John M.D.) a hotshot Aussie Music Video Director living in the U.K. (Russell Mulcahy) and the sizable scope of it’s production design, it is easy to fathom where the productions money went.

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I’d rank “Razorback” at the very top of my list of  favorite post-Jaws “animals attack” films. It’s a legitimately well made film, with a really talented cast and crew. Those things paired with the savage nature of the film and Russell Mulcahy’s distinct vision make Razorback an exploitation film for the ages.

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VIDEO:Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (24.44 Mbps)
Resolution: 1080p: Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1Razorback comes roaring to life with a brand new 4K scan from Umbrella Entertainment!The new remaster has appropriately saturated colors and reduces contrast for an overall more natural looking presentation. You might notice that colors appear darker than Umbrella’s previous Blu-ray, ultimately increasing the depths of blacks and giving the film a more gratifying color timing. This new 4K scan is a considerable improvement over the previous Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray and very much so the best this film has ever looked. One of my favorite releases of 2018.

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AUDIO:English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) In terms of clarity, this 5.1 track delivers a pleasant, well-balanced listening experience. The dialog is very clean and is always easy to follow. Also, there are no distracting age-related anomalies to report.
Audio depth and dynamic intensity are a strong. A highlight of the audio track is Iva Davies‘ (of Icehouse fame) brooding and ominous synthesizer score. The score itself has aged incredibly well and fits very well into the current retro synth revival. Think a more “moody” “New Wave”  John Carpenter and I’d personally love to have this soundtrack on vinyl. The only minor issue I encountered was a snippet of missing dialogue around 1:11 when Arkie Whiteley is speaking to Gregory Harrison, approximately one line of dialog is missing from the audio track. That small issue did not effect my viewing experience.

EXTRAS:

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-Audio Interview with Actor Gregory Harrison (30 mins) Harrison talks about how he became involved with the project during a promotional tour of his hit series “Trapper John M.D.”.He shares his experience meeting Hal McElroy and Russell Macalhy for the first time. He speaks of growing up on Catalina Island and chasing away actual Razorback Boars on the island as a child.He Speaks highly of working with cinematographer Dean Semler and praises his technique. Harrison reveals how devoted the Australian crew was during the films production. Shares many positive experiences and antecdotes about his time on set.Discusses shooting in some of the outback locations that Mad Max used for the production of Razorback.


-Jaws on Trotters: Behind the Scenes Featurette (73 minutes) Full Length Documentary about the production. Interviews with Hal McElroy, Director Russell Mulcahy, Make-up artist Bob Mccaron, Actress Judy Morris, Composer Iva Davies and many, many members of the films cast and crew. This documentary is easily one of my favorite extras on any disc this year. Incredibly illuminating and highly entertaining.


-Interviews with cast and crew by Mark Hartley from “Not Quite Hollywood” (84 minutes) Tell all Interviews with star Gregory Harrison (22 minutes) Judy Morris (9 minutes) Russell Mulcahy (15 minutes) Writer Everett De Roche (5 minutes) Producer Hal McElroy (15 minutes) Special Make-up Effects artist Bob McCarron (18 minutes)

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-Grisly Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary with Russell Mulcahy and Shayne Armstrong (02:30)-

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-A Certain Piggish Nature: Looking Back at Razorback (24 minutes) Hosted by Film Critic and Authors Lee Gambin, Film Critic and Author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Sally Christie and Author and Film Critic Emma Westwood. The film critics deliver an incredibly fresh and modern round table setting discussing the films impact and subtext. I’d love to see a running series of these round-table like talks for all of Umbrella’s releases. Very fresh and upbeat conversation. With some really interesting takes on the film.

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-Razorback: The Longer VHS Cut (95 minutes)

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-Theatrical Trailer

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-VHS Trailer

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Image Gallery

OVERALL: This disc is an absolute must buy! A gorgeous restoration of a underseen Aussie gem and HOURS of interesting extras to supplement the film, make this one hands down one of the best releases of 2018!

REVIEW: Anthropophagous Severin Films Blu-ray

“Anthropophagous” is now available in bundle and single disc format directly from the Severin Films Official site or in single disc format from our friends at DiabolikDVD!
Check it out!
(All screen-caps have been taken directly from the Severin Films Blu-Ray, no alterations have been made to the images. Images are uncompressed)
Anthropophagus (1980) was famed Euro-smut Director Joe D’Amato’s first true horror film after the soft-core sleaze of Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977) and Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980). And while the name may conjure up images of Neanderthal men, it actually refers to ancient cannibals in a mythical sense.
Anthropophagus gained notoriety back in 1983 when the BBFC added the film as it’s 2nd entry to Section 1 of their prosecutable films list. A list that came to be known as the DPP “Video Nasties” list. Section 1 of the BBFC’s list is reserved for films deemed too exploitative, violent or obscene for public consumption. Any titles seized under this list would make the dealer or distributor liable to prosecution for disseminating obscene materials. Ultimately, the list became obsolete when the Video Recordings Act came into force, and since 2001, several of the films have been released uncut. Anthropophagous is one of these films.

Anthropophagus focuses on a group of tourists, most notably Julie (Mia Farrow’s sister Tisa) and Maggie (Serena Grandi,”Delirium“) who set sail to an uninhabited Greek island in search of sun and sandals, only to discover that they aren’t as alone as they first thought. And are hunted down one by one by a cannabalistic killer and find the island holds a dark secret.
I tend to shy away from Joe D’Amato‘s more sleaze & sex oriented efforts.I’ll be honest, I did buy Code Red’s new “Erotic Nights of the Living Dead” Blu knowing precisely what I was getting and I didn’t entirely regret it. I am generally pretty eager to check out whatever is new to Blu-Ray from D’Amato’s Horror catalog. It had been years since I had seen the old, beat up DVD of Anthropophagus. I recall thinking the film was very slow and remember being pretty bored by it. Up until now, I thought Buio Omega (aka Beyond The Darkness) was the only D’Amato film I found to really live up to its notorious reputation, while still being a good film. My reaction to the film today, Was a little bit different than it was all those years ago.
D’Amato is very adept at manufacturing grisly images, creepy settings and often times injecting his film with a bit of atmosphere and dread. I think that’s one thing I did not understand in my bloodthirsty adolescent years. D’Amato aims at slowly cranking the tension and is in no rush to introduce us to “The Man-Eater”.
The Greek location is a hauntingly perfect playground for the characters to explore, a mass of winding whitewashed alleyways, punctuated by antiquated buildings which are less than inviting. The film produces atmosphere largely by shooting in stark lighting and poorly lit basements and attics.  One pivotal introduction scene in the film is interspersed with flashes of lightning, creating a disorienting effect for both the audience and the characters as they wander a palatial seaside mansion. When our villian does pop up, he does little except stand bathed in ominous light, grunting.
Initially D’Amato takes a bit of a Giallo approach (minus the black gloves) with the first few killings taking place with the camera in the killers point of view. I imagine the POV approach of the film was more effective in the early 80’s when the film was less notorious and iconic for George Eastman‘s potrayal of the cannibalistic stalker.
Eastman himself is the films biggest asset, at a hulking 6’4, he cuts a burly and intimidating figure. Though Eastman does not have any lines or even speak for that matter, some expression does cut through his monstrous appearance during several close ups. Pietro Tenoglio’s FX makeup seems to work best during moments in low lighting and Eastmans appearance during the day, given the gorgeous HD scan scan reveal inconsistencies with his baldcap and makeup application.
The film is mainy known for one  particularly gruesome sequence that almost solely guarenteed it a top spot on the Video Nasties list. There’s a lot of hype around this particular scene, and it’s aged fairly well. I wasn’t disgusted or disturbed by it as I’m sure many were in the early 80’s, but it is still effetive even to this day.
Anthropophagus may be a chore to get through for the gore-maniacs out there. But, if you have the patience to sit through some genuine tension building, you’ll find yourself greatly rewarded by the closing credits.
VIDEO: Severin Films brings Anthropophagous to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taken from a new 2k scan of the original uncut 16mm camera negative. Anthropophagus was never meant to be a classy art film or big budget romp. It’s an exploitation film, made on a limited budget and it certainly shows. The whole presentation possesses a very raw and appropriately rough scope. The new 2018 2K scan by Severin Films has gone a long way to improve upon the previous 2017 UK release. They’ve fazed out the slightly hazy tint that was hanging around the previous version and tightened up the film grain significantly. Spruced up clarity and beautifully saturated colors to a bit more natural a hue. Blacks are deeper than ever before and color depth in general has been improved. Severin Films new transfer is easily the best this 1980 gut-muncher has ever and likely, will ever look!
AUDIO:DTS-HD Mono tracks are provided in English and Italian with closed captions available for the English track and English subtitles available for the Italian track. I had initially started watching this film in it’s native Italian Audio track, but ended up switching to the English track about 15 minutes in. In my opinion the English track tends to blend so much better with the rest of the audio, so I stuck with it. Dialog is easily understood without subtitles and a great service is done for this ominous and sometimes zany soundtrack. Levels are well-balanced, clarity is good overall. I did not encounter any hiss, dropouts, missing dialogue or any issues with either audio track.
EXTRAS:

Don’t Fear The Man-Eater (13 Mins): Interview with Writer/Star Luigi Montefiori AKA George Eastman. Eastman discusses how he met Joe D’Amato on a previous film they had both been hired to work on. How he re-wrote D’Amato’s original “Anthropophagous” script. Eastman speaks very frankly of the film and how poorly his original idea was handled. Criticizes his fellow cast members etc. If you’ve seen any of Eastman’s interviews, you know what you’re getting. I personally love Eastman’s brash honesty.His interviews are generally a highlight on any production he is involved with.

The Man Who Killed Anthropophagous: Interview with actor Silverio Vallone (14 mins) Vallone speaks of being plucked from the set of Marcello Fondato’s “The Immortal Bachelor”(1975) by Fondato himself and given a small role in the film. He discusses not having any knowledge of horror or the Cannibal Film craze of the 1970’s. He also discusses how much he grew to admire D’Amato because of his focus and talent.

Cannibal Frenzy: Interview with FX artist Pietro Tenoglio (6 mins) Tenoglio discusses his close friendship with De’Amato and shares some of the happy memories they shared over their 40+ year friendship.

Brother and Sister in Editing: Interview with Bruno Micheli (13 mins): Micheli discusses his upbringing and early life growing up in a family that worked in the Italian film industry. Working at Technicolor at a young age, getting fired from Technicolor. How he linked up with D’Amato through family ties. And his work on the film.

Inside Zora’s Mouth: Interview with actress Zora Kerova (10 mins) Kerova discusses how she stumbled into the film industry by accident. Her beginnings in comedy. Her modeling career and her fond memories of working on Anthropophagous.

Vintage Trailers

REVIEW: “Slave of the Cannibal God” Code Red Blu-ray

“Slave of the Cannibal God” is available to purchase now!
(All screen-caps have been taken directly from the Code Red Blu-Ray, no alterations have been made to the images. Images are uncompressed)
Slave of the Cannibal God AKA Mountain of the Cannibal God focuses on Susan Stevenson (Ursula Andress) who becomes suspicious after her wealthy husband Henry disappears while on an extended expedition in New Guinea. She and her handsome, stubborn brother Arthur (Antonio Marsina) urge government officials to send out a rescue party, but, to no avail.
Desperate, they turn to a colleague of Dr. Stevenson, anthropologist Edward Foster (Stacy Keach), who speculates the good doctor may actually be stranded on a small island off the coast of New Guinea. Roku just happens to be the home of a volcano known as Ra-Rami, which is of course “cursed.” Apparently, the only way to keep the curse from extending to “The Puka”, a cannibalistic tribe of natives who live at the base of the lava-laced mountain, is to offer (and eat) human sacrifices!
Director Sergio Martino’s contribution to the Italian cannibal horror-adventure cycle of the early to mid-’70’s is a step or two below the brutal excesses of the sub-genre’s most unpleasant entries, Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox.
Perhaps some of the difference can be attributed to the relatively high star power on display, mainly Stacey Keach, who had previously appeared in many American films (Fat City, Doc Holiday) and many Made-for-TV movies in the 60’s and 70’s. “Slave” also features Ursula Andress who is most known for her role as a Bond Girl in “Dr.No”.The sequence where she emerges from the ocean in No, will forever remain a classic scene in the annals of Cinema history.
Though the film is less grim and punishing than its more notable successors, does not mean this film is not incredibly disturbing even still. It’s still a graphic and unpleasant film. It exhibits gratuitous violence, nudity, Bestiality, castration and real-life atrocities committed against live animals. But, there are far more “Adventure” sequences that take place between the graphic violence than your average “Cannibal Film”. In fact, this film was grisly enough to earn itself a place in Section 2 (Non Prosecutable films) of the notorious DPP “Video Nasties” list of “obscene films” in the Britain in June 83′
90 minutes of the film are devoted almost entirely to Keach and Co. traveling through the lush New Guinea jungles, battling not only the “Puka” (the cannibal tribe) but also the harsh elements and wildlife. During the parties ascent to the titular mountain, we are treated to a whole cadre of beautifully shot landmarks; waterfalls, raging rivers and lush vegetation. Martino does an excellent job of capturing the scope of the environment and how large the jungle expanse truly reaches.
Stacey Keach gives an impassioned performance as Professor Edward Foster and it’s incredibly refreshing to see such a renowned actor act in genre generally riddled with over-the-top and ineffectual performances. Both Claudio Cassinelli and Antonio Marsina deliver above average performances while Andress performance is nearing wooden. I can understand her casting, she’s a well-known Bond girl and is considered “beautiful” by the standards of many. She does not have many lines and mostly is just relegated to looking shocked or not reacting at all.But hey, the Cannibals have to have someone to strip and strap to an altar, right?
Legendary Cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando who had previously worked on MANY classic Italian Genre films, including many of Martino’s himself (Ironmaster, 2019: After the Fall of New York,The Scorpion with Two Tails) knows exactly how to move his camera in a confined space to evoke tension and claustrophobia. I was very impressed with the many chase scenes shot within the jungle canopy and how the camera felt like it never stopped swiveling.
In general, the “Cannibal” Horror Sub-genre is one of my least faorite sub-genres in Horror. I find the animal violence to be pretty unappealing, but I mostly just don’t think they’re scary or even thrilling. “Slave” reminds me a little bit of the recently released “Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story” in the way that a large chunk of the film is Westerners traveling through unfamiliar terrain and battling the remnants of an uncivilized world. While there is graphic violence in both, the main theme is the actual journey itself. “Slave” is far more violent and entrancing than Amazonia, but also leaves more of an impact after the credits roll because of those reasons.
VIDEO:Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1 This Code Red release boasts a “New Uncut HD scan with hours of restoration”. I was very impressed with this new scan, as the previous Shameless UK version looked a bit mediocre, and was also cut. The film is centered in the New Guinea jungle and the trees and foliage pop with luxurious green hues. Skin tones are distinct and naturalistic. Blacks are very deep and inky. Color grading is very convincing. And presentation,  overall, is very organic. I will say, at about 90 minutes, there seems to be a bit of a drop in quality and sharpness (see first 2 pics below). This lasts for about 3 minutes. I’m not sure if a different source was used for that short chunk of time, but there’s most certainly a difference in quality. While noticeable, it did not impact my viewing experience. There are little scratches and small white and black specs that occur throughout, but the print damage is minimal. No signs of DNR or digital tooling are present.
AUDIO:English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit). Overall the 2.0 English Audio track is well balanced and overall very clear. There is a slight hiss during various parts of the film, but, dialog is easily discernible. No audio dropouts or sync issues are present. No English SDH are provided for this release.
Special Features: New interview with Stacy Keach (14 mins): Keach speaks fondly and with great respect of his time working with Mr. Martino. Discusses the difficulty of the shoot. Speaks of the freewheeling nature of working on an Italian production, and shares some behind the scenes stories from set.
2 Vintage interviews with Director Sergio Martino – Martino shares his memories of the films production, working with Keach, Cassinelli and Andress. He discusses working on the story and screenplay with his writing partner Cesare Frugoni. And shares various anecdotes about his time working on the production.
Bonus U.S. cut of SLAVE OF THE CANNIBAL GOD with HD from the CRI –
I only watched about 15 minutes of this shorter American version (84 minutes)but, this version got very little if any restoration. Still HD for all intents and purposes, but there’s really no reason to watch this version of the film unless you have some time constraints.
Trailer (SD) Last Cannibal World

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:

https://roninflix.com/collections/brand-new/products/giallo-in-venice

International Customers:

http://www.diabolikdvd.com/product/giallo-in-venice-scorpion-releasing-blu-ray/

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

TOP IMAGE IS THE NEW SCORPION RELEASING BLURAY AND BOTTOM THE GERMAN “X-RATED Euro Cult Collection Media book”

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:

https://88-films.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/surf-nazis-must-die

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Surf-Nazis-Must-Die-Blu-ray/dp/B07CPF7MNY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535402698&sr=8-1&keywords=surf+nazis+must+die

http://www.diabolikdvd.com/product/surf-nazis-must-die-88-films_-blu-ray-all-region/

(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
revenge.

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.

EXTRAS:SPECIAL FEATURES
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!

ORDER HERE:

https://88-films.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/eyeball-the-italian-collection-45

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eyeball-FORMAT-Blu-ray-Special-Packaging/dp/B07DWKKRZT/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1534414542&sr=1-1&keywords=eyeball+blu+ray

http://www.diabolikdvd.com/product/eyeball-88-films-limited-edition-dvd-blu-ray-all-region/ 

(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.

EXTRAS:

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

REGION-FREE

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!

BUY IT HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Street-Fighter-Special-Blu-ray/dp/B07C53MX63/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533820726&sr=8-1&keywords=lady+street+fighter+blu+ray

http://www.diabolikdvd.com/product/lady-street-fighter-agfa-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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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!

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