Monday, May 4, 2015

SNUFF: A Documentary About Killing On Camera (DVD Review) - Wild Eye Releasing

Directed By: Paul von Stoetzel
Starring: Larry C. Brubaker, Todd Cobery, Linda Flanders
Color/76 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date:

The Film
The snuff film has long been a part of urban mythology. Does it truly exist or not? Through a series of interviews with FBI agents, film historians and critics and cultural academics the existence and definition of the snuff film is discussed and examined.

I personally found this documentary to be quite engaging even when points or comparisons were brought up that I didn't agree with, such as the comparison to the porn industry. The interviews are given in an open minded manner which allows the audience to at least digest the ideas given and don't make them roll their eyes in disapproval. There's some hard hitting and downright disgusting and despicable people and stories told including one where a film company executive from a well known horror film distributor was propositioned with buying and releasing an actual snuff film.

SNUFF is well done, and could even stand to have a longer runtime as it left me wanting to hear more about certain cases discussed. The subject has engrained itself through true evidence and being a subject of pop culture mediums for decades and this documentary is one of the best I've seen to date on tackling the taboo subject.

The Audio & Video
Wild Eye Releasing's DVD of SNUFF is rock solid. There's not much to be blown away by here but everything within is done in capably in a professional manner. The image is sharp and clear while the audio is crisp. A job well done.

The Extras
-Five year anniversary interview with author Dave Schrader
-"Dinner Date" a short film

The Bottom Line
Anyone that has ever found themselves intrigued, interested or just curious about snuff films should see this documentary.

SNUFF: A Documentary About Killing On Camera is available HERE

Sunday, May 3, 2015

BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE (DVD Review) - Wild Eye Releasing

Directed By: Manny Serrano
Written By: Louie Cortes, Manny Serrano
Starring: Matt W. Cody, Mike Roche, Byron M. Howard
Color/113 Minutes/Unrated
Region FREE
Release Date: April 21, 2015

The Film
Young women are turning up dead and horribly mangled around town while a masked killer known as The Ripper has returned to this small town. It is up to two troubled detectives to put together the clues left behind at the murder scenes to solve the case before anymore innocent lives are lost.

BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE is already at a disadvantage from having a horrible title. Now I usually won't hold a film's title against it (or for it) but this movie really sounds as if you took a room full of suburban soccer moms and asked them to come up with what they think sounds the most brutal or offensive and we end up with BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE. Well, the quality of the title pretty much sums up the quality of the movie itself.

Where to begin... For starters, much of the movie is shot out of focus and is a complete blurry mess. I don't understand how the director saw what was filmed and said "yup, love it!". I feel embarrassed for anyone else involved in the movie because even if they weren't good, I'm sure they at least put forth an effort. The only way that a movie this out of focus can end up as the final product is from a director that just doesn't care in the quality of the movie he's in charge of. Now the rest of the movie isn't very good either but at least they're trying. There's wooden performances and there's some overacting but they're giving it what they've got, or at least what the weak script is worth giving. As for the script and the writing? Well this screenplay is in dire need of some editing. There are few slasher films that can hold a 113 minute runtime and not suffer from it and BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE definitely is not one of them. This movie dragggggggggs and somehow there's twelve minutes of deleted scenes in the special features! Good lord.

Unfortunately the thing that can make even the worst slasher movies at least watchable is the violence and gore is subpar here as well. There's a good bit of blood and guts but the effects are iffy at best and most of the violence happens off screen or we only see the aftermath.

I really try to pull out the positives within a film when I review it even if it is something small and overshadowed by 99% shit. If there's something positive to point out I try to make mention of it. I can't do that here.

The Audio & Video
I can't really make too much mention of the A/V quality here as Wild Eye Releasing has done the best they can with a movie that is out of focus half the time so picture quality isn't even worth talking about. It's a fine anamorphic widescreen transfer that is fighting a losing battle. The English audio sounds good though.

The Extras
There is a decent lineup of special features for the film though, and a couple of them are more entertaining than the movie itself.

-Audio commentary with the director
-Deleted scenes
-Extended scenes
-Demons of the Night music video
-Behind the scenes featurette
-The Ripper toy commercial

The Bottom Line
Movie bad. Movie, very bad. Wild Eye Releasing, good, very good. Support Wild Eye.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Barber (Blu-ray Review) - Arc Entertainment

Directed By: Basel Owies
Written By: Max Enscoe
Starring: Scott Glenn, Chris Coy, Stephen Tobolowsky
Color/90 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: April 28, 2015

The Film
A small town barber is hiding the secret that twenty years earlier he was charged with several murders but was released due to insufficient evidence. The detective in charge of the case committed suicide at the result of having to let the killer walk free. Now a man knowing the barber's true identity has come to him asking him to teach him his ways which begins a twisted game of cat and mouse and the true intentions and identities of those involved will be revealed.

Top to bottom, THE BARBER is a solid crime thriller. The performances from Scott Glenn and Chris Coy are excellent and they do a nice job playing off of each other. There's just enough sex appeal to add that flair to the mix which makes the murders all the nastier and more gruesome. Without an excess in action the film relies on its script to be engaging and carry the viewer to the end without losing their attention. It does that. The script is tight, maybe too tight as I was left wanting more out of the barber and his new found "friend".

The finale is worth sitting through the rest of the movie for alone even if it wasn't a quality production but it makes me want even more out of the interactions. I would have loved to see it drawn out a bit more. I can't complain too much as THE BARBER is a good film even if its a case of leaving the viewer wanting more maybe not being for the best. Or am I being selfish?

The Audio & Video
Arc Entertainment gives the film a beautiful HD 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with great clarity and sharpness. Detail in textures and skin tone is strong and natural with no signs of DNR or edge enhancement. The English 5.1 DTS-HD master audio track is crisp and stable with no damage or background noise. The mix is excellent and really sums up the overall A/V quality of the disc.

The Extras
Special features include an alternate ending and a selection of extended and deleted scenes which do satisfy my desire to see more between the two men a little bit. There's also a trailer included.

The Bottom Line
If you're a fan of crime films you should absolutely check out THE BARBER as it is one of the tighter examples of the genre I've seen lately.

THE BARBER is available HERE

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

JONAH LIVES (DVD Review) - Wild Eye Releasing

Directed By: Luis Carvalho
Written By: Luis Carvalho
Starring: Jocelyn Padilla,  Ryan Boudreau, Nicole Lasala
Color/94 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: April 21, 2015

The Film
A group of teens spend a bored night in the basement while their parents have a party and drink the night away. They turn their attention to a Ouija board to entertain themselves and contact a spirit named Jonah who informs them he died by being poisoned by his wife. The group thinks it is all fun and games except for one of them who believes that the power of the Ouija board. The group tries to summon Jonah and unfortunately for them, they succeed. Rising from the dead, Jonah quickly makes his way to the teens and begins dispatching of them violently.

JONAH LIVES is an independent production from 2012 and feels as such. The film is largely confined to the basement party setting, with a few moments in the rest of the house. The film suffers a bit from not being able to move around a bit as the basement gets a bit stale by the end of the movie but it doesn't hurt the film too bad. In fact, the movie is pretty solid overall. Jonah's monster design is very good and reminiscent of Dr. Fraudstein from Lucio Fulci's House By The Cemetery. It is nice to see a zombie film where there's a main zombie that has a distinct look and design instead of being a generic looking pale faced walking corpse. The acting, including a supporting role from 80s scream queen Brinke Stevens, is serviceable, but uneven at times.

The film does feature an eery atmosphere at times but it is fleeting depending on the scene. It also features a score that reminded me of Italian horror films of the 1980s. I dug that quite a bit. I don't understand the random rap song that hits as soon as the closing credits start to roll though. It is totally unnecessary and felt completely forced. Did the director owe someone a favor and included their song? It makes no real difference to the film as it is over at that point but it struck me as weird.

JONAH LIVES manages to succeed within its own confines but had the film included the adult's house party into the actual narrative and horror aspect of the film beyond a minor mention in the dialogue and a fade-to-black off screen scene to end the film it would have ramped up the energy and made it feel like a bigger production without needing extra set pieces.

The Audio & Video
Wild Eye Releasing delivers JONAH LIVES on DVD for its home video debut. The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks as good as the digital photography can look. There's a decent sharpness and only particularly dark scenes suffer from some blocking issues. Otherwise the PQ is good. The English audio is clear and has a nice mix between the score and dialogue. There's no background noise or damage.

The Extras
-Behind the scenes teaser
-Behind the scenes featurette with Brinke Stevens
-Fall River Celebrates The Arts Screening
-Teaser trailer
-Full trailer

The Bottom Line
Indie horror fans have a new movie to check out in JONAH LIVES.

JONAH LIVES is available HERE

Monday, April 27, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 23, 24, 25, and 26

Day 23 had only one movie, THE TOXIC AVENGER PART 2. I just recently reviewed the new Blu-ray from Troma so I'll just link that here for ya.

I'd been waiting to break into my Pinky Violence Collection DVD set for a while and finally did on day 24 with TERRIFYING GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL: LYNCH LAW CLASSROOM from Norifumi Suzuki. A wonderfully sleazy, violent and gruesome movie about a reform school for girls where the students are abused, tortured and fight each other until they come together to take control of the school.

Day 25 started with another Pinku film from Suzuki, GIRL BOSS GUERILLA. I liked this one just a tad bit more than the previous film. Heavy on girl fights, motorcycle riding, nudity, and awesome directing and photography this one was excellent and is equally sleazy and violent and features a very good score.

Afterwards I decided to check out the new Blu-ray from Scream Factory of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. I love the movie, always have. The new Blu-ray is a disappointment in terms of PQ though. There's a nice selection of extras to make up for it however. A great score and cast make this one a classic from Carpenter's filmography.

Finally a re-watch of THE WARRIORS was in order. It was sort of a weird feeling watching this one with the current rioting going on in my home city of Baltimore just 30 minutes away from me. This particular time gave the movie an eery realness that was strange. I love this movie as well and if you've never seen it for some reason you're doing yourself an injustice.

Today's Rundown
Toxic Avenger Part 2 - 7/10
Lynch Law Classroom - 7.5/10
Girl Boss Guerilla - 8/10
Escape From New York - 8/10
The Warriors - 8/10

Friday, April 24, 2015

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II (Blu-ray Review) - Troma

Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz
Written By:
Color/108 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: April 14, 2015

The Film
In the follow up to Troma's break out hit from 1984, Toxie is living with his girlfriend and helping out around the Tromaville Center For The Blind until Apocalypse Inc. comes in and slaughters damn near everyone to set up shop for their toxic chemical dump. Knowing that Toxie will fight them every step of the way they devise a plan to get the hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength to travel to Japan to find his long lost father where they have a chemical waiting that will strip Toxie of his powers.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II is more of what we came to love five years earlier but with more ridiculous writing and comedy. While Toxie isn't busy fighting ninjas and kabukimen he's eating plastic noodles (because that's what the Japanese eat!) and using fish as weapons. When he finds out his dad is smuggling cocaine inside of fish one of the big fight scenes, which there are plenty of, breaks out and Toxie must make his bitter reunion with his father a short one. The Japanese scenes were filmed in Japan where Toxie damn near hit rock star status and it lends an air of credibility to the picture making it's small budget look far bigger than it really was.

The acting is what you'd expect from any Troma production. Overacting runs rampant and is encouraged, dubbed fart jokes are plentiful and most of the story is hokey as hell. It's all lovable but I feel like it lost a little bit of the mean spiritedness that the first film had that really allowed the comedy to shine as an equalizer to the sleazier side of things. I still love this film for all of its faults and victories. It is a mighty fun ride through Tromaville and Japan filled with fights, farts and tits. Oh yeah, there's a good bit of gore in one particular scene that is hilarious!

I must add that this cut is substantially longer than the previous DVD so there's plenty of added footage here that makes this release worth checking out on its own!

The Audio & Video
Troma gives THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II its North American Blu-ray debut with very mixed results. Early reports I had read tore this disc apart, and I can see why. It is far from a home run but to call this disc a total disaster really isn't fair. It is a decisive upgrade from the DVD, which admittedly isn't saying much. The HD presentation isn't particularly sharp and detail levels fluctuate greatly. However there are some quite nice looking shots. Unfortunately they're usually stuck between a lot of mediocre looking scenes. There's a bit of damage remaining on the source material inlcuding scratches and speckling that would have been nice to have seen cleaned up and restored. The 16x9 anamorphic transfer leaves a lot to be desired but it isn't a Rabid Grannies level travesty.

The English audio sounds fine. It's a clean and clear mix with no background noise or damage that I noticed. The mix between dialogue, including voice overs, and the soundtrack is great and there's never a moment where dialogue gets lost in the mix. The A/V job is a serviceable upgrade to the DVD.

Please note: Screengrabs have been taken from the DVD and DO NOT reflect the quality of the Blu-ray.

The Extras
-Audio commentary with the directors
-New introduction by Lloyd Kaufman
-"At Home With Toxie" featurette
-"A Word From Villainess Lisa Gaye"
-"Toxie On Japanese TV"
-Radiation March
-Original DVD intro
-The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years Of Troma
-Troma Trailers
-DVD version of the film

The Bottom Line
While this is far from what I'd call a "definitive" release it is an upgrade both in terms of additional footage and slightly with the A/V. While a bit light on the extras as none of them are anything substantial aside from the commentary track I still recommend the release.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 20, 21, 22

A day late but that just means an extra day's worth of viewing for you lovely people...

Day 20 had one lone movie, the disappointing STEEL DAWN. This Mad Max rip off starring Patrick Swayze was a movie I had long wanted to see. I was interested in seeing Swayze in one of my favorite types of film, trashy post apocalyptic action/sci-fi. Well nothing in STEEL DAWN really wowed me. Swayze didn't have the charisma to carry this movie and nobody else really seemed to be giving it their all. There wasn't nearly enough action and the set pieces were generic and plain. This movie seemed totally fine with being sub par.

LISZTOMANIA was the next movie on tap. This bizarre mash up of ideas and genres from director Ken Russell and starring Roger Daltrey, singer of The Who, was one of most "oddball" oddball movies I've ever seen. Part musical, part historical drama, with a bit of exploitation and arthouse thrown in there's so much going on here. I sort of loved it. I also found it to be a bit of a mess. LISZTOMANIA definitely needs multiple viewings to pick up on all of the weirdness going on. It's not a particularly hard movie to follow from a narrative standpoint but I know there's so many things that I missed that will certainly make it even more out there.

I needed something a bit more straight forward and stupid so I went with SAVAGE BEACH from director Andy Sidaris who is known for making shitty action movies based around hot women who run around in bikinis (and often less). Tits, explosions, an island of children that presumably died, hidden treasure and gold bars, samurai leftover from WWII and plane crashes just begins to sum up the sighs you'll see in this one. It's not good but it's definitely entertaining to the Nth degree. Unfortunately it loses a couple of points because it drags on way too long. This movie should be 75-80 minutes and clocks in at almost 100. I have no problem with long movies but shit like SAVAGE BEACH has no need to be a long film, especially when it's full of filler and padding.

And the last film for day 22 is one of if not the best example of Nazisploitation that I've seen. GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY is technically sound, full of solid acting and has a decent story to boot. Don't let that fool you as it is also stands toe to toe with the nastiest films the genre has to offer. Plenty of nude women being used for nothing more than to rejuvenate soldiers to get them back onto the front lines, cannibalism, unborn fetus stew, murder and sexual humiliation. What else can you ask for? How about interesting and eye catching set pieces to hold the whole thing? Yeah, I really liked this despicable film.

Today's Rundown
Steel Dawn - 4/10
Lisztomania - 6.5/10
Savage Beach - 6/10
Gestapo's Last Orgy - 8/10