Monday, March 30, 2015

GONE WITH THE POPE (Blu-ray Review) - Grindhouse Releasing


USA/1976
Directed By: Duke Mitchell
Written By: Duke Mitchell
Starring: Duke Mitchell, Jim LoBianco, John Murgia
Color/82 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: 3/24/2015

The Film
Duke Mitchell stars in his own film as Paul, a criminal who has recently been paroled who gets a nice payday to put a hit on 7 men in California and Las Vegas. He splits the bounty with a friend of his to take care of the Vegas hits. Aferwards a few of Paul's friends get paroled and he drops his master plan on them- Kidnap the Pope and make every Catholic in the world pay $1 ransom!

GONE WITH THE POPE was lost and unfinished for over 30 years. Duke Mitchell left the film unfinished and passed away before ever touching it again. Thankfully Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing was able to get in touch with Duke's son and was given the opportunity to try and edit what was shot and turn it into something. Murawski's efforts yielded an entertaining, morally questionable (that's being quite forgiving) and violent film.


GONE WITH THE POPE would be Mitchell's second and final film and is a nice companion piece to the earlier Massacre Mafia Style. The acting is a bit stiff as much of the cast were friends of Duke and not professional actors. There's a great soundtrack and some really creative film making techniques. GONE WITH THE POPE features a plot that I find to be complete genius. I immediately knew that this was a movie I needed to see when I read the plot and it doesn't disappoint. Even if the film didn't take the directions I expected or even hoped it would it plays out in a manner that really works and the ending is a bit bonkers.

When all is said and done GONE WITH THE POPE is far from perfect but the fact that film exists in a completed form is a minor miracle and all fans of genre cinema should definitely check it out.

The Audio & Video
All hail Grindhouse Releasing! Not only did they rescue this film, finish it and premiere it in 2010 after decades of sitting in a garage, they've given it an absolutely stunning Blu-ray release! I don't want to sell this release short and I don't think I can overstate just how beautiful the picture on this release is. The anamorphic widescreen transfer comes from the original 35mm camera negative and is  incredibly sharp. The picture is clean and crisp and features a warm natural grain structure. Colors, especially the Las Vegas neon, pop with brilliance. Skin tones are natural and black levels are deep. There are three audio options available, mono, stereo, and a new 5.1 mix by Marti Humphrey. All of the tracks are in English and HD. The crispness and crystal clarity to the audio is top notch. There's no damage to speak of and no background noise.


Please note: Images taken from DVD version of the film

The Extras
-"The Players Of GONE WITH THE POPE" - A 60+ minute featurette with extensive interviews from stars Jim LoBianco and John Murgia, cinematographer Peter Santoro, editors Bob Leighton and Robert Floria and Matt Cimber
-Shooting GWTP featurette
-Restoring GWTP featurette
-Footage from the 2010 World Premiere in Los Angeles
-Deleted scenes
-Outtakes
-Frankie Carr and the Nov-Elites performance live in Vegas
-Theatrical trailer
-Grindhouse Releasing trailers
-Liner notes
-Extensive still galleries
-Filmography
-DVD-Rom screenplay
-DVD copy of the movie


The Bottom Line
Grindhouse Releasing kills it with this release of a long lost and unfinished film that will turn in to a classic piece of exploitation. A beautiful restoration job and lovingly packed with special features, this is a must own for any exploitation film fan!

GONE WITH THE POPE is avaIlable HERE

Friday, March 27, 2015

MUTANTIS (DVD Review) - Dire Wit Films


USA/2014
Directed By: Kelly Fitzgerald
Written By: Mark Leake
Starring: Darren Bolk, Gary Brown, Mark Colegrove
Color/73 Minutes/Unrated
Region 1
Release Date: September 23, 2014

The Film
How cheesy do you like it? Extra cheesy? How about 4 cheese? Fuck it, pour on all of the cheese! MUTANTIS takes all of the cheese and wants more as a scientist brings his stepchildren into the woods to find Bigfoot but instead finds the horrible creature Mutantis, known to the hillbilly locals as a hideous creature that will chop your head off as fast as he fucks you! Yeah, bloodshed isn't enough for Mutantis, he wants to procreate!

Dire Wit Films is a Baltimore based group known for making some remarkably cheesy, offensive and gory films such as Pleasures Of The Damned, Isle Of The Damned and The 7th Day.  MUTANTIS may take the cake on all of them as far as being offensive goes. On top of being very bloody and filled with gore it is also filled with immense amounts of sexual deviancy, much of which comes from the monster itself.


The tongue is planted firmly in cheek with humor being a major part of the film. Many voices are re-recorded with purposely cheesy dubs and there are some over the top characters like the blowjob lady who lives in the woods. The crew of MUTANTIS wears its influences on its sleeve, from old creature features to humor that Troma found Lloyd Kaufman would approve of and gore filled horror films, and is proud of the trash they created. They should be because MUTANTIS is ridiculously entertaining, genuinely funny and features excellent special effects (along with one of the greatest and cheapest monster suits ever!)

The Audio & Video
Dire Wit Films releases their own production on DVD with a nice looking anamorphic widescreen transfer. The low budget film still manages to have a quality presentation with nice sharpness and very vivid colors. The audio which is dubbed for stylistic purposes has a good mix between the soundtrack and dialogue and is very clear.


The Extras
-"Heavy Metal Weekend" parts 1 and 2 - Short films featuring Mutantis. Funny stuff!
-"The Mime" short film by Kelly Fitzgerald
-Deleted Scenes
-Bloopers
-Indiegogo campaign videos
-Trailers
-Photo gallery


The Bottom Line
MUTANTIS is hilarious, gross and offensive in the best way. Support independent horror and home grown cinema and check out MUTANTIS!

MUTANTIS is available HERE


Thursday, March 26, 2015

42ND STREET FOREVER: THE PEEPSHOW COLLECTION VOL. 8


USA/1970s-80s
Directed By: Various
Written By: Various
Starring: Varioius
Color/111 Minutes/X
Region FREE 
Release Date: January 13, 2015

The Film
In the latest volume in the PEEPSHOW COLLECTION of 8mm stag loops we get all the sexiness the 70s and 80s could offer up (again!). A woman pays her cab fare with her body, bringing up the cabby to suck and fuck while in another short a woman wakes up her man, who seems to be recovering from some sort of broken arm, with some oral before he gets going and doesn't let his arm stop him from doing anything and everything to his woman. There's a photographer that uses his camera to land two women at the same time, a down and dirty job interview and more!

Taking you back to the sleazy days of the 70s and 80s where you'd find people milling around porn theaters and porn stores in any downtown buying their magazines or pumping quarters into the booths to view reels such as these, this collection gives great insight into the early days of porno video distribution and how even in the early movie making days it was all about who could be the hottest
and the nastiest!


The Audio & Video
Another nice presentation from Impulse Pictures as they've saved these shorts from obscurity and preserved them on DVD. The full frame transfers preserve their original aspect ratio and for the most part look good. There's scratches and speckling of dirt and dust but colors are largely strong and the image is pretty sharp for 8mm film. There's a few moments of harsher wear but I'm very pleased with how these loops look. As always, these loops are silent aside from the projector noise.


The Extras
Liner notes from Robin Bougie of Cinema Sewer magazine are included


The Bottom Line
This DVD collection of 15 loops gives you a much cleaner and safer way of viewing the classic XXX footage without needing a pocket full of quarters (or something to sanitize with after!). You know you want it.

42ND STREET FOREVER: THE PEEPSHOW COLLECTION VOLUME 8 is available HERE

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DIGGING UP THE MARROW (Blu-ray Review) - Image/RLJ


USA/2014
Directed By: Adam Green
Written By: Adam Green
Starring: Ray Wise, Adam Green, Will Barratt
Color/88 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: March 24, 2015

The Film
DIGGIN UP THE MARROW is presented as a documentary in the making, following real life film makers Adam Green and Will Barratt as they follow a man named William Dekker (Ray Wise) who believes he has found entrances to "The Marrow" an underground system of cities where real life monsters live.

Just last month I reviewed the film itself, which I loved and there's nothing I can say here that I didn't already say at length previously. So check out THIS review to find out more about the film itself. I will add that DIGGING UP THE MARROW movie absolutely holds up to a second viewing.

The Audio & Video
Image/RLJ have done a stellar job releasing DIGGING UP THE MARROW on Blu-ray. The image on the anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 is sharp and clear. Detail level is high with flesh tones looking healthy and natural. The numerous dark scenes handle the black levels beautifully with no blocking or compression issues. The DTS-HD audio track is crystal clear though there's not a ton in the way of sound design that just shows how nicely recorded and mixed the audio is.

The Extras
-Audio commentary with Adam Green, Ray Wise, Will Barratt and Alex Pardee
-Deleted and extended scenes with introduction from Adam Green
-Monsters Of The Marrow - a half hour featurette about bringing the art of Alex Pardee to life for the movie
-Trailer

The Bottom Line
DIGGING UP THE MARROW is one of my favorite genre movies of the last few years and I can already tell you that I fully expect it to be a strong contender for my "best of 2015" list at the end of the year.

DIGGING UP THE MARROW is available HERE

Monday, March 23, 2015

THE MUTHERS (DVD Review) - Vinegar Syndrome


Philippines/1976
Directed By: Cirio H. Santiago
Written By: Cirio H. Santiago, Cyril St. James
Starring: Jeannie Bell, Rosanne Katon, Trina Parks
Color/83 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: March 10, 2015

The Film
Kelly and Anggie head up a band of pirates known as The Muthers where they live in seclusion with their gang and rob rich cruise liners for their goods and money while battling the rival pirate gang lead by Turko. Kelly and Anggie throw themselves into the clutches of a slave farmer when they find out Kelly's sixteen year old sister has been kidnapped by the group and fight to find their sister along with their own escape and survival.

The king of Philippino exploitation, Cirio Santiago, delivers another piece of greatness. Part pirate movie, part jungle action/adventure movie but mostly a women in prison film, THE MUTHERS does a great job of taking a group that commit unsavory acts as their means of existence but making them extremely likable and having the audience root for them, even if it is simply by pairing them up against foes that are less likable. The performances in exploitation fare such as this can be all over the place but the cast lead by Jeannie Bell (TNT Jackson herself!) and with veterans of exploitation classics such as Ms. 45, Ebony Ivory & Jade and Stryker, the acting definitely doesn't disappoint.


The screenplay is action packed with plenty of shootouts, fist fights, explosions and torture scenes. THE MUTHERS is a blast, pun absolutely intended. No, THE MUTHERS might not be for everyone, and it really isn't the best at any of the areas it explores but for fans of women in prison or blaxploitation films you'll hardly find yourself scoffing at THE MUTHERS. As for the rest of you -Get lost!

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome gives THE MUTHERS a DVD release that maintains the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a quality anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are vibrant and lively while skin tones are healthy and natural. The film has been restored from the original negative and shows just a bit of speckling and scratching from age related damage, otherwise it is a great looking disc. The English audio track is clear and free of annoying background noise or damage. The mix in levels between dialogue and score is well done and nothing more can be asked of this A/V presentation!


The Extras
The lone extra is a theatrical trailer


The Bottom Line
Give me all your women in prison and blaxploitation films and I'll eat them up, especially when they're as fun as THE MUTHERS! Highly recommended!

THE MUTHERS is available HERE

Sunday, March 22, 2015

MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS (DVD Review) - Wild Eye Releasing


USA/2012
Directed By: Shane Ryan
Written By: Shane Ryan
Starring: Katie Marsh, Demi Baumann,
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: September 23, 2014

The Film
Based on the true crime case of the murder of nine year old Elizabeth Olten by her fifteen year old neighbor Alyssa Bustamante, MY NAME IS A takes a raw and graphic look at growing up alienated and left to your own devices while not knowing how to deal with your own emotions.

Small on straight forward narrative, MY NAME IS A is more of a test of patience while dealing with angsty teens who are a near perfect personification of the "emo" label and stereotype. How long can you stick with this movie watching the girls binge and purge, cut their wrists or cry so that mascara is running down their face? I finished it, but just barely.


What could have been a powerful film touching on the struggles of growing into your own shell and dealing with the hand you've been dealt and showing the consequences of thinking there are none or that there's nobody outside of your own little world ends up looking like a music video from a band like The Used or My Chemical Romance.

The Audio & Video
MY NAME IS A was made with little in the way of professional equipment it seems and the DVD from Wild Eye Releasing looks as such. The picture quality looks like it was shot with low end consumer grade cameras and gives a soft and grainy look. This style does work for the film itself in ways that HD might not. The audio is similar in that it works but it is no frills and is adequate.


The Extras
Wild Eye has assembled a nice collection of extras for their release of the film...

-"The Columbine Effect" - an alternate edit of MY NAME IS A
-"I Hate Me, Myself and Us" - An hour long cut of MY NAME IS A
-Deleted and alternate scenes
-Music video
-Teona Dolnikova music video spotlight
-"Isolation" - a short film
-"Oni-Gokko" - a short film
-Trailers


The Bottom Line
Big fans of films based on true crimes may want to take a look but otherwise know what you're in for.

MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS is available HERE

Friday, March 20, 2015

HOUSE OF LAST THINGS (DVD Review) - Revolver Entertainment


USA/2013
Directed By: Michael Bartlett
Written By: Michael Bartlett
Starring: Lindsey Haun, Blake Berris, RJ Mitte
Color/110 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: February 10, 2015

The Film
HOUSE OF LAST THINGS centers around a couple who leave their home in the hands of a young girl as the caretaker while they visit Italy in an effort to save their marriage. The girl allows her boyfriend and her brother to stay at the house with her when all sorts of weird things start happening such as pictures changing their image, ghostly apparitions, and perhaps most of all, her boyfriend kidnapping a boy in a harebrained ransom plot. The house is pushing them towards the brink of insanity while exposing a nasty truth.

From the start, HOUSE OF LAST THINGS throws so many different tones at the viewer that I have no clue if they knew what kind of movie they wanted to make. There's moments of comedy that are along the lines of Three Stooges slapstick style thrown in on psychological horror and supernatural horror along with moments that make your daily soaps look good. There's plenty of loose ends that are so messily tied up its like they didn't bother tying their shoe, they just stuffed the laces in the sides.


With moments that harken back to The Shining, Asian horror films of the early 2000s, and maybe even some David Lynch films HOUSE OF LAST THINGS really doesn't manage to hit any of the right notes. There's some interesting visuals and some scenes are directed pretty decently but the movie runs too long, is way too worried about being weird instead of crafting a tighter film and simply does not manage to pull itself together.

The Audio & Video
Revolver Entertainment's DVD release of HOUSE OF LAST THINGS features a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks quite good. The picture is sharp and features vibrant colors with strong detail levels. The Dolby Digital audio is equally as nice with great clarity and an excellent mix job between dialogue and soundtrack. There's no background noise or damage.


The Extras
None.


The Bottom Line
HOUSE OF LAST THINGS is an effort that shows potential in multiple areas but ends up being a muddy mess of ideas that never come to fruition.

HOUSE OF LAST THINGS is available HERE