"Lock Away Your Alien Daughters."
To quote Sid Haig who played Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses; "Do you like blood, violence, freaks of nature?" That is essentially how I felt after viewing this film. This is what you get with Psycho Street. Created and executive produced by Marv Blauvelt, this is like an independent and a hardcore version of the old school Creepshow films from the 1980's.
We start with Leyla who is played by Tiffany Shepis, a scream queen who has starred in numerous low budget horror films, is the attractive woman next door with a sinister secret. A couple has moved in next door, Austin Dossey as Casey and Raine Brown as Aubrie Harris. Leyla has all ready gotten her hands on Casey and Aubrie comes looking for him. Leyla lures her in and begins to tell her about the horrors of living in the town of "Kronenburg".
We segment into Hypochondriac. This story takes place at a doctor's office. Nurse Lovejoy, played by Raine Brown; hits on every backwards redneck and plans on bringing down the new doctor taking over the practice, played by Marv Blauvelt. We see a crazy old lady, Alan Rowe Kelly, who comes in and goes on about every illness under the sun. And the side plot to this short is that Nurse Lovejoy is fascinated by a lady who was abducted by aliens and is going to give birth to an alien. This crazed lady arrives in the office one day and that's what brings the whole short together.
In the next story, Anti-Bodies, a woman has her daughter tied and sells her to any and every man who can pay up. This is the one where you can kinda feel uncomfortable until we get to the twist which comes quickly. We get into a dark area with sadism and rape that is kinda comparable to A Serbian Film, until the twist. Without going too much into it; it's probably the sleaziest of the short stories in this film.
We go back into the story line of Leyla and Aubrie and Leyla's intentions are made clear. Aubrie is attacked and then thrown down into the basement where someone is hiding. Then we get into the final story, Lewis, about a woman, named Amanda, takes her daughter and goes to a small town. Once in the small town, the locals start to go a little crazy; as it is their "breeding season". We learn that the townsfolk worship some sort of demon and Amanda and her daughter is the key.
My thoughts on the film is simple; if this was made in the 1980's, this would be a classic. No doubt in my mind. Raine Brown stole the show and I think she will probably go far in the business and is highly under-rated as an actress. I looked her up on the IMDB and she's got dozens of titles since the year 2000. The other person who stood out is the person who created all of this, Marv Blauvelt. His role as Dr. Combs in Hypochondriac is probably one of the best doctor roles I have seen. Tiffany Shepis is in the film for probably about ten to fifteen minutes and she looks great. She could probably lure me in and hack me up and throw me in the basement too. I give the film a 7/10.
Presented in 1080p, 1.78:1, MPEG2, and encoded at 13.12 GB; the transfer for Psycho Street sports an odd transfer. If I understood this correctly from the commentary, this was not all shot at once, so some of this must have been shot with different cameras at different points in time. The footage with Tiffany Shepis and Raine Brown looks crisp and great. Hypochondriac has a bit of a rougher look to it, I cannot put my finger on it. Anti-Bodies looks good, there's a lot of digital manipulations to the video in that short, as well with Lewis. It could be worse, but, since this was all shot on HD equipment, it looks good. I give it a 3.5/5.
The film only has a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. It sounds good and it does it's job well. Sound effects sound great and most of the dialogue is clear. Some of the dialogue sounds a bit muted, or it could be how it was recorded during the Tiffany Shepis scenes. I give the audio a 4.5/5.
There is not much in terms of extras; we have a commentary track, trailers, and an acting class. The commentary shows how much they all had fun making the film. Make references to other films and at one point, during Anti-Bodies, how some people can compare that to A Serbian Film. Marv Blauvelt talking about where the inspiration comes from for his portrayal of Dr. Combs and the whole premise for Hypochondriac. The trailers which is listed just as "Farmer's Daughters Trailer". It has the trailer for that film, as well as advertising that it is part of another anthology film called "Closed Casket".
Finally, you have the "Muscle Wolf Acting School". This centers around Marv Blauvelt talking to everyone about acting with testosterone. And this is where you can really appreciate everything, it's that they don't take themselves seriously. When Marv does the "pop quiz" and asks about steroids on the question, that's when it's like; "They're all having fun making movies". I give the extras a 5/5.
This is an entertaining disc and I felt was worth the $20. I was surprised that my copy was personally autographed by Marv Blauvelt himself. This group has gotten some great talent in hand with their production on Psycho Street as well as having Michael Berryman with Closed Casket. I think what will make this group go far is that they can joke about themselves while being serious. I give this disc a 4/5.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
"This Blu-ray Smells of Death."
Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror is a 1980 Italian zombie film in the vain of Zombi 2. Group of people set out to a location only to discover this place is overrun with zombies. An archaeologist goes to a tomb to discover a horde of zombies and is soon eaten by his "friends". A group of people meet together at a castle for no real specific reason are then killed off and try to survive the night.
The film is fun for what it is, not perfect by any means. I loved seeing it for the first time at a film festival at one of the local drive-in theaters in 2010. You got to love the creepy Peter Bark as Michael, an actor playing a small child who loves his mother a little too much. The film has some cheesy dialogue, most of which comes from Michael. And then, most of the scenes that are memorable are of Michael. Film gets a 3.5/5.
When it comes to Media Blasters, if it's not one of their two-dollar films, the transfer is supposedly made from the studio where the film originates. Someone in Italy did a poor job on this transfer. Shots appear fuzzy and the grain is almost depleted by whatever this fake grain is which seems to be red, green, and blue. At the 1hr 18min, one shot is fuzzy and you can barely make out what it is going on in this shot as a zombie is being thrown down from a flight of stairs. Media Blasters honestly thought this was acceptable? While I make this out to be a nightmare-ish transfer, it's watchable and a little above average. 3/5.
Presented on the disc is only English DTS-HD MA 2.0. While it is true a lot of Italian films made around this time were shot without sound, it would be nice if Media Blasters would have put an Italian audio track for the film. God knows why they did it with "Devil Dog", it wasn't Italian. We have some pops and hisses and what not on our English audio track. Why was this not remastered? 3.5/5.
Media Blasters creates some of the most frustrating extras I have ever seen. In my review for "Devil Dog", I ranted about how there was an hour and a half of interviews where the two child stars and the director really didn't give a damn about that film. Same kinda goes here with "Burial Ground", as we have a twenty minute interview with producer Gabriele Crisanti and the actress who played Michael's mother, Mariangela Giordano. Crisanti seems uninterested in the questions and basically gives short answers to the bumbling interviewer who stutters in Italian, as it is obviously not his first language. Then with Mariangela Giordano, and she's obviously forgotten this movie. She was asked questions and one of her responses was; "I do not remember a blonde actress". I was like; "What the hell, man?" You couldn't have asked her to re-watch the film to refresh her memory? Seriously...
Next is the "Still and Poster Gallery". What I find funny is that this gallery that Media Blasters put together has photographs of VHS copies of the film laying out on someone's table. Most of these VHS covers that they have in this gallery are most likely ripped from a Google image search as most of these seem poor quality. Then we have what is listed as "Out takes", which should be called "Deleted Scenes" as these are not out takes. These deleted scenes do not contain sound, but have music playing in the background.
Then there's a trailer or trailers for the film. I could not honestly tell as this ran for four minutes. If it is indeed two trailers, there was no real gap between to tell that it is. Menu states "Original Trailers", while the cover states "Original Trailer". Finally, we have four trailers for other films released and/or made by Media Blasters themselves.
First up is "Late Fee". A horrible looking trailer with Media Blasters branding all over it. Hey, there's posters up on the wall for "Zombi 2" which we did an unauthorized release of, some anime, etc. Then we cut to a video store where all of the movies in stock are Media Blasters titles, like "Machine Girl" and "Wicked Lake". Yes, clearly this is a hipster wannabe video store that this guy goes too.
Then we have trailers for "Zombi Holocaust"; a crappy looking horror film with porn star Sasha Grey, called "Smash Cut"; and finally Joe D'amato's "Buio Omega", which is a classic. Extras score a dismal 2.5/5. If Media Blasters actually put in the effort to make their interviews entertaining, it would be very nice.
Media Blasters; where quality doesn't matter, but they'll take your dollar. It's a shame "Burial Grounds" got this kind of treatment, then again, it could be worse. They could have cancelled it like they did "Zombie 4" and "Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals". They do not respect Italian cinema and give you a crappy transfer for most of their titles. Extras with interviews where the cast and crew don't care. And delay titles constantly. It's a shame 3/5.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
"Godzilla's 17th Outing."
Godzilla Vs Biollante, the seventeenth outing of Japan's biggest monster, makes it's way to the U.S. on Blu-ray for the first time since it's original VHS release in 1992 by HBO Video for Miramax, pre-Disney buyout. After the events in the 1984 reboot, Godzilla (or Godzilla 1985 to us in the States); Godzilla is reawakened after a Middle Eastern terror cell and a group known as "Bio-Major" blow up Mt. Mihara. Which is where he was sucked into at the end of the last film. At the same time, a mad scientist takes Godzilla cells and mixes them with the DNA of a rose and accidentally creates a giant monster named Biollante. The first incarnation of Biollante is in the form of a beautiful rose but with some nasty vines with Godzilla-esque jaws. Biollante is quickly defeated and burned up by Godzilla's heat ray. Biollante returns in a deadlier form ready to take on Godzilla and save Japan.
I remember being about four years old whenever I saw this, probably around 1993. This was the first Godzilla film I saw in it's original aspect ratio as HBO presented all VHS copies of this film in 1.85:1. A rarity as most Godzilla films were presented in their hacked up 1.33:1 crops. What I love about this film is that this is like Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla in a way, we have a monster that is Godzilla-esque. Especially when we have the final form of Biollante going up against Godzilla, it's DNA really makes it close to Godzilla. I give the film a 5/5.
The video source is the Toho remaster from 2008. Which is amazing that both Echo Bridge and the horrible Media Blasters can get their hands on the Japanese prints as opposed to being handed the international prints by Toho. My biggest complaint about this restoration is that since this is the Japanese remasters, it has Japanese subtitles burned into the video for whenever the film has English dialogue. The overall image is soft; it doesn't hurt the detail at all in the image. There is some slight compression that is noticeable when there's smoke, but only if you are looking for it. 4/5.
We have three audio tracks present on the disc; Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD MA; Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0; and English Mono Dolby Digital 1.0. For an old English Mono track that seems that it's sourced from a VHS tape, it's passable. The Japanese DTS-HD MA track is beautiful. I believe this is the remixed audio created back in the early 2000's. The 2.0 Japanese track sounds ok. I give it a 5/5.
We have about an hour of bonus material, presented in SD. This making of was presented on the Thai DVD that I own, so I have seen it before. It contains behind the scenes footage as well as deleted scenes. Then we have concept models made for what Biollante was originally supposed to look like. There was like three or so designs that we had on it. It's pretty amazing. I give the extras a 3.5/5.
For us Godzilla fans, this is a no brainer, considering that it's going for $7.99. This Blu-ray is amazing and is a must own. We got the same restoration as Japan got and for a fraction of the price that it goes for over in Japan. I give this release a 4.5/5.