Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman
Written By: Travis Campbell, Lloyd Kaufman, Derek Dressler, Casey Clapp, Aaron Hamel
Starring: Asta Paredes, Catherine Corcoran, Clay von Carlowitz
Color/85 Minutes/Not Rated
You may have been wondering what's been going on at Nuke 'Em High since the last film in series from legendary independent film studio Troma? Well, it has been two decades since we last strolled the hallowed halls of Tromvaville High, located right next to a nuclear power plant that caused the mayhem depicted in three previous films. The site of the nuclear power plant is now home to Tromorganics, a food company that is an entirely different type of "green" and has contracts with Tromaville High to serve their food.
Chrissy (Asta Paredes) runs a blog called Pollution Nerdz hellbent on exposing the shady shit going on around Tromaville. Her horndog boyfriend Eugene (Clay von Carlowitz) is always looking for action and has his mind on little else but Chrissy has her eye on the new rich girl Lauren (Catherine Corcoran) her loves her pet duck. These are the main students we follow around Tromaville High along with the nerdy Glee Club, and various other characters until Taco Tuesday, when the radiation exposed, green glowing tacos are served and mutate the Glee Club in to the violent marauding gang called The Cretins. The Cretins reign terror down on Tromaville, terrorizing students, parties and even pets. The Cretins are on a warpath and something isn't right with Chrissy and Lauren but we're a long way from finished with this chapter of Tromaville High School's storied history!
With everything from duck rape, to melting bodies, blood-spraying dicks and a kid running around on fire RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH vol. 1 has it all. Fueled by the largely punk and metal soundtrack, along with one of the best theme songs ever, this movie proves that after almost 40 years Troma isn't even close to being done. Lloyd Kaufman returns to the director's chair for this non stop splatter and laugh fest, overflowing with fart jokes, boobs and gore. His cast includes a bunch of relatively unknown names, nothing new for Troma but the entire cast pours their love into the film. Asta Paredes is incredibly likeable as our lead, nailing the slightly confused and socially aware Chrissy while Clay von Carlowitz brings the hilarious Eugene to life and creates one of the most ridiculous car sex scenes I've ever witnessed. With cameos from Lemmy and Stan Lee it seems that everyone is on board with how awesome this movie is. If this is only the first half of the full story then I'm scared I won't be able to handle how much fun volume 2 will be. RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH is one of Troma's best films ever.
The Audio & Video
Anchor Bay gives RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH Vol 1 the HD treatment with Troma-endous success! There is strong detail level, and excellent color reproduction. This is a colorful film and they pop naturally. Skin tones are not at all waxy and are wonderfully natural. On the sound side of things the stereo track sounds great from hilarious and gross sound effects to the awesome soundtrack. It is well mixed and rounds out an excellent technical presentation.
Please note: Images do NOT represent the quality of this disc and are meant to represent the movie itself only.
As the old Troma DVDs said this disc is packed with "Tromatic extras" such as:
-Audio commentary with actors: Zac Amico, Clay von Carlowitz, Catherin Corcoran, Stuart Kiczek, and Asta Paredes
-Audio commentary with director Lloyd Kaufman, producer Justin A. Martell, executive producer Matt Manjourides, associate producer Regina Katz, and writer Travis Campbell
-"Casting Conumdrum" - a look at Troma's casting process for RTNEH
-"Pre-production Hell with Mein-Kauf (man)"
-"Special (Ed) Effects" - The effects and props of RTNEH
-"Cell-U-Lloyd Kaufman: 40 Years of TROMAtising The World"
-Architects Of Fear "Edison Device" music video
-Trailer for Volume 2
The Bottom Line
Are you a Troma fan? Are you a fan of gross-out horror films heavy in stupid humor, tits and debauchery? Are you awesome? If you answered yes to any of these questions you'll be doing yourself a favor by purchasing this disc. Long live Troma.
RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH vol 1 is available HERE
And bonus fun, here's a video Q&A I was able to get with Asta Paredes and Clay von Carlowitz done last year!
Monday, March 3, 2014
Directed By: Christopher Folino, Todd Burrows
Written By: Christopher Folino
Starring: Chase Williamson, Ashley Bell, William Katt
Color/98 Minutes/Not Rated
I'm not familiar with the graphic novel this film is based on. I haven't a clue who Ian Sparks is in the superhero world. I don't know if he is popular or for more of a die-hard audience looking for something to call their own. The book isn't printed by one of the major labels. I fully expected SPARKS to be an inept superhero film, totally hampered by a budget that is well short of blockbuster status.
It is the 1940s and Ian Sparks lives with his grandmother after his parents were killed (in true superhero fashion) by being rammed into a moving train by the police who were in the middle of a chase with bank robbers. Ian was covered in some sort of liquid being carried by one of the tanker cars on the train. Ian has decided to put an end to the crime and grime of his city that the police can't or simply won't deal with. After getting his grandmother to make him a suit Ian is now simply SPARKS, and teams up with other crime fighters known as "Supers" around the city. Most notably Lady Heavenly, with whom he falls in love. As the duo gets deeper into the corruption of the city SPARKS learns more about his past and the people in it, has to deal with losing his love and his grandmother and learn who he can really trust because not everyone is who they seem to be.
SPARKS is the origin story of Ian Sparks and is actually a pretty damn solid comic book movie. The styling of the film reminds me of Dick Tracy but not quite as colorful. The direction from the duo of Christopher Folino and Todd Burrows allows the movie to work despite crying out for a bigger budget. The performances are good throughout from Chase Williamson in the lead to supporting players such as Clint Howard and Jake Busey. There are plenty of other familiar faces around the film too, and nobody drops the ball. The score is very much what you'd expect for a superhero film. The CGI is the weak point of the film and before watching SPARKS I figured it'd be an absolute death nail for it but the movie is good enough to prevail in the face of some weak visual effects. There is plenty of action but also a pretty captivating story to draw you in to the story of SPARKS.
The Audio & Video
Image Entertainment brings the film adaptation of SPARKS to DVD with a solid looking 1.78:1 widescreen transfer. Detail level is strong, colors are vibrant and the overall picture quality is very good. The only downside is that some dark scenes have a bit of compression issue with the black levels. It's a minor complaint. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is very good, making good use of the various gunshots, explosions and other sound effects.
Special features include:
The Bottom Line
It almost amuses me that SPARKS is better than a large portion of the DC cinematic output despite not having the star power or deep pockets that DC has. SPARKS isn't perfect, and a Blu-ray would have been nice, but for comic book fans looking for something off the beaten path you'll have some fun with SPARKS.
SPARKS is available HERE
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Directed By: Paul Morrell
Written By: Sydney Corpuscle
Starring: Charlie O'Connell, Natasha Alam, Marie Bollinger
92 Minutes/Color/Not Rated
Huff (Charlie O'Connell) is a maniacal, bible obsessed stepfather to three girls who he abuses every way possible. Their mother is too weak to do anything to protect them. Huff makes his living dealing drugs, he has planned a major deal that will make him enough money to retire with his lover to Mexico. Huff rapes the eldest of his stepdaughters, which finally snaps the mother into being a bit of a mother. While Huff is gone she packs all of the drug money into backpacks for the girls and tells them to run and not look back. When Huff finds out that his money is gone and that he won't be able to pay off his cartel debts before the big deal he snaps and goes on a rampage killing his wife and hunting down the girls to get his money back, while the people he has terrorized have had enough and crave vengeance.
BIG BAD WOLF, originally titled HUFF, is an okay piece of revenge exploitation that was popular during the 70s. The main difference is that BIG BAD WOLF doesn't have the balls that films had decades ago. It seems the film makers wanted to make this film but were afraid to go too far with it as to not offend too a portion of the viewing audience. Paul Morrell's direction is adequate, never venturing far from comfort of standard framing and angles. He does manage to get some good performances out of the younger members of the cast, including the three stepdaughters and one boyfriend. Charlie O'Connell's performance in the lead is uneven, bouncing back and forth from menacing and sick to over the top and hammy. Unfortunately he spends more time in the latter. BIG BAD WOLF can best be summed up as an appetizer, or the training wheels on an exploitation film bike. It isn't enough for a main course and it doesn't give you the full exciting ride that films such as I Spit On Your Grave, Last House In The Left, or Night Train Murders do.
The Audio & Video
Horizon Movies gives BIG BAD WOLF an attractive 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image is clean and features strong detail levels. The audio stereo audio track is clear and steady, no background noise.
Extras are limited to interviews and trailers.
The Bottom Line
BIG BAD WOLF barely whets the appetite but if you can find a good price on the DVD it isn't terrible and would be worth checking out if you're wondering if this type of film may be for you before you get into harder fare.
BIG BAD WOLF is available HERE
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Directed By: Henry Barrial
Written By: Henry Barrial
Starring: Rudolf Martin, Heather Ankeny, Keith Diamond
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
A man wakes up in a desert, hooded, with his hands tied. He knows not where he is and his memory is wiped clean. The only clue he has to to go on is a sliver of paper with a name written on it. After being nursed back to health the clue leads the man to Los Angeles where his past begins to get pieced together. A name. A residence. An occupation. The problem is that none of this is at all familiar to the man, who learns alternate truths on a chance encounter with someone he used to know. Eventually he learns the actuality of his situation, or enough of it, but is there a way to help himself? Or does he even want to know the truth to his past? He is PIG.
PIG was written and directed by Henry Barrial and stars veteran actor Rudolf Martin. Barrial's direction and Martin's (along with the rest of the cast, who is on point) really allow PIG to be a believable trip through a man's journey of rediscovery. Barrial's script is good but the film ends abruptly and leaves things more open ended than I'd like. Considering the events that play out in the film the end isn't as open and shut as it may seem and I'd have liked to see more from it. The ending works but in my opinion it doesn't satisfy when the subplot is introduced. PIG is a puzzle worth your time worth your time however, and for a film based around the idea of "who are we without our memories?" it does a good job.
The Audio & Video
Horizon Movies gives PIG a nice looking 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has strong clarity and detail. The scenes in the desert shine, and while there isn't much in the way of flashy visuals or special effects the transfer is strong. Audio is also strong, with a 2.0 stereo track, nothing Earth shattering here, just a good quality track.
Special Features on PIG include:
-Director's Commentary Track
-Kickstarter Pitch Video
-Lonely Boy Video
-Nashville Film Festival Video
-Nashville Film Festival Q&A
-Sci-Fi London Q&A
The Bottom Line
PIG deserves the accolades it has received. It is a tightly made thriller on an equally tight budget. It is not a perfect film and I would have liked a longer run time but as it stands it is an engaging film that will likely satisfy viewers. Recommended.
PIG is available HERE
Monday, February 24, 2014
Directed By: Lisa Barr
Written By: Joseph Bardo
Starring: Jesse Chacan, Liz Renay, Lesllie Bovee, Candy Nichols
Color/157 Minutes/Rated X
This double feature of smut starts with DEEP ROOTS, the story of a youthful man named Billy who is curious to see what life is like outside of his Indian reservation even when his friend/girlfriend/love interest asks him not to go. Billy leaves for Hollywood and quickly finds life to be faster and the women to be easier. Billy's stay in Hollywood is a revolving door of women. He paints them, deflowers them, shares them and just has a great time riding his motorcycle when the ladies aren't riding him. Eventually Billy gets his fill of city life and returns home to the reservation where he's greeted with open arms by his admirer. DEEP ROOTS is simple smut. The narrative is thin and hardly exists but there are a few creative scenes sprinkled throughout.
STARLET NIGHTS is a bit more creative venture into the adult film world as it is a porno adaptation of Snow White... sort of. We have a character named Snow White, we have the mirror on the wall (who comes to life and fucks Snow White) and we have he poison apple... tainted with Love Potion #69. Sibling rivalry is the main theme here, as two daughter fight for the affection and respect of their father, and a career in Hollywood. There's a lot of sucking and fucking on the way to the top... or bottom... or behind. STARLET NIGHTS is a bit humorous, and plenty sexy enough to be an adored piece of 70s erotica and is without a doubt the highlight of this double feature.
The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome delivers both films in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratios, restored from 35mm archival prints and scanned in 2K. Each film has a strong color palette, and good detail level. DEEP ROOTS has some speckling and scratches throughout and a few moments where the frames jump a bit but overall it is a good presentation. STARLET is a cleaner print, with a bit less intrusive imperfections but they are still present and constant. The audio tracks are surprisingly clear, with no background noise on either film. Overall a very solid presentation for these smut films fom 1978.
Bare boners... I mean bones.
The Bottom Line
Some Indian loving and a fairy tale gone XXX... something for everyone? Maybe not. But there's a lot to enjoy in this pair of rescued vintage pornos from director Joseph Bardo under the pseudonym Lisa Barr.
DEEP ROOTS / STARLET NIGHTS is available HERE
Monday, February 17, 2014
Directed By: Valentin Javier Diment
Written By: Martin Blousson, Valentin Javier Diment, Nicanor Loreti, German Val
Starring: Horacia Acosta, Raquel Albeniz, Jimena Anganuzzi
Color/89 Minutes/Not Rated
A group of friends gather in a country house to mourn the loss of their friend's husband. This service of remembrance turns evil very quickly as ghosts and demons from the pasts of those involved quickly turn up and begin wreaking bloody havoc all over the place. MEMORY OF THE DEAD is quite obviously heavily influenced by the films of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, along with paying serious homage to The Evil Dead. And by paying homage I do mean trying its absolute hardest to recreate a few shots from it. It's all good though, and MEMORY OF THE DEAD isn't trying to rip anything off, instead director Valentin Javier Diment takes his influences and uses them to create a rather crazy film. Packed with gore, sex and some wild prosthetics, MEMORY OF THE DEAD definitely has all the makings of a movie straight from the late 70s or 80s. Though instead of the masterpiece that is The Evil Dead or a classic Argento or Bava, MEMORY OF THE DEAD tries to be, instead of simply being. That said, MEMORY OF THE DEAD is a very entertaining horror flick that is sure to please genre fans.
The Audio & Video
Artsploitation Films brings MEMORY OF THE DEAD to DVD with a good looking disc. The disc looks rather good for skin tones and color. The main issue is that some dark scenes have compression issue and black levels aren't particularly deep. It isn't a major issue here and I won't make it sound worse than it is. Overall the disc looks fine in its 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. The audio side of things is very good, with the 5.1 surround sound Spanish track sounding full bodied and very clear. Everything from sound effects and dialogue come through loud and clear. Optional English subs are included.
The Bottom Line
MEMORY OF THE DEAD probably won't become a classic in it's own right but that doesn't take away the fact that it is a seriously entertaining horror film that will be sure to please all of the gore hounds. Go check it out!
MEMORY OF THE DEAD is available HERE
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Directed By: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Written By: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Starring: Anicee Alvina, Olga Georges-Picot, Michael Lonsdale
Color/106 Minutes/Not Rated
A beautiful young woman is accused of stabbing her roommate to death and is locked up in a convent. While in the convent the woman uses her almost hypnotic sexuality to seduce everyone who enters her room, from the police to the clergymen as she tries to claim her innocence. The dreamlike days pass with more sexual encounters and recollections that may be memories or fantasy until her lawyer brings her back to the apartment to recreate the murder for the police and more skin is bared and more blood is shed.
SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE is an obviously erotic, drama with a bit of crime, a bit of sleaze and quite a bit of artistic flare. There are some striking visuals and scenes that are almost surreal as director Alain Robbe-Grillet makes the viewer question what they feel is reality and what is in the twisted mind of our suspect. Solid performances all around, along with an appearance from Jean-Louis Trintignant, carry the film's writing, also done by Alain Robbe-Grillet, with success. This is a very satisfying viewing experience for something that has a little bit of everything from sex and skin, to art and sleaze.
The Audio & Video
Kino Redemption has done an outstanding job on this disc. The 1.66:1 widescreen transfer is gorgeous. Skin tones are natural and colors shine, especially the seemingly endless amounts of red which truly pop, without ever bleeding or burning too hot. The transfer retains a natural looking grain for the film which has come from very clean elements. There are very few instances of scratches or dirt. The French audio track, while a bit more simplistic than the visuals of the film come through loud and clear with no background noise to speak of. Optional English subtitles are included.
- 33 minute interview with Alain Robbe-Grillet
- A trio of Robbe-Grillet trailers
- 2014 Promo short
The Bottom Line
For fans of Robbe-Grillet this disc is a must buy with its wonderful A/V quality and being a satisfying viewing experience. If you're new to the director but fans of Euro-sleaze or even Euro horror with an artful touch you'll most likely enjoy this piece of work as well. Highly recommended!
SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE is available HERE