Tuesday, June 30

The Creeps Choice That Should Become Reality


Detailed at Freddy in Space, Sony is letting the fans vote for the cover amongst a selection of three for their upcoming Night of the Creeps - Director's Cut DVD arriving October 20th.

Option 1 is by far the best of the lot, despite not utilizing any of the three original poster designs for the film, conveying the campy throwback tone well and sorta looking like product from Shameless Entertainment. Option 2 looks too much like a 30 Days of Night graphic novel design and I'll be damned if Option 3 wasn't going to be cover if Sony didn't let us decide. Just an awful phoned-in piece of quickie Photoshop crap using a focal point (Pillsbury Doughboy alien) that's nearly inconsequential to the story. So thrill me, but why can't we have art like below?

Monday, June 29

Torrents Are No Fun

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't see the appeal in downloading anything "forbidden" for free. I did use Napster back when it wasn't a big corporate entity, but even then I'd primarily search for rare b-sides or live tracks. Downloading whole albums was no fun and what's the deal with movies?

Sure, you'll find a bunch of rare flicks, but it sucks the fun out of digging and searching, sometimes for years, for a real copy. That and digital copies on hard drives are worthless with wildly wavering quality. This especially holds true for recent releases. Nothing like watching a low quality, heavily compressed video on a monitor through shit speakers. I'd rather buy old VHS dups from establishments like Video Search of Miami from back when the Internet was in its infancy than do it the easy digital way. There's nothing like finally uncovering that "holy grail" either by a fluke on an e-tailer or in a dingy cardboard box at a yard sale.

So no, don't ask me for torrent links because I have no idea. Hard copies rule the day.
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Devil's Crude (1971)

Directed by Tommaso Dazzi
85 Minutes / Trans World Entertainment / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

A sun baked, scruffy, and thickly bearded Franco Nero stars as Nick, a salt-of-the-Earth sailor with a pet pelican whose sailboat is destroyed by a far off course oil tanker. After marching into the oil company's headquarters demanding compensation and being chased throughout the building, Nick befriends Paco, the young heir to the corporation. Nick and Paco run into each other repeatedly and eventually Nick saves the boy from electrocution from a sabotaged wading pool. Upon learning about threats on Paco's life for his inherited fortune, Nick takes an offer to become his guardian in exchange for payment on his boat. It becomes clear these threats are coming from within the boy's family when he's kidnapped and with the help of Paco's grandfather (Francisco Rabal) Nick sets off to save his young friend from an evading tanker.

This is simply a steady family-friendly adventure, but that by no means is condemnation for what the film sets out to do. There's very little action with the height being quick fist fights. Not even a single gunshot is fired or profanity uttered. The reason to watch is Nero, who brings a rugged warmth to the role creating a character every boy would love to tag along with on an adventure. The relationship between Nick and Paco never seems "weird" and as the characters interact Nick becomes a father figure the boy never had. Francisco Rabal is in old coot mode getting all the good quips. What's also interesting is that the film isn't in the mold of any popular American trends and doesn't resort to exploitative aspects to lure an audience. A wholesome and good spirited waste of ninety minutes with sunny locales that is one of the few back-in-the-day Italian genre efforts you can enjoy with a young child without the fear of a sudden boob shot or explosion of gore.

On a sidenote, even though the IMDB doesn't link the two, this appears to be a made-for-Italian-TV sequel or remake.


VHS Picture: 8/10 (considering the film and tape's ages, the PQ is great)
VHS Sound: 7/10

STRIKE COMMANDO (1987) - AVID Box Scan

BoGD Review

Greatest IMDB Comments Ever.

This film insults the country of our fathers
1/10
Author: lao zing from Viet Nam

"To think that a entire army failed and one geeky man could destroy my home country seems insulting to hear and impossible. After all who is this Reb Brown guy and i am sure that Amercanski is not really Russian for American added to that some of the most awkward one liners in the history of world cinema. The boy is also a stereotypical Vietnamese peasant. I would like to see more Vietamese cinema like (literal translation) Du Xing's lama. The only people who would enjoy this insulting mess is patriotic American idiot who believe America won in the Vietnamese war (i myself am Vietnamese and didn't support the war)"




Happy Birthday You Crazy Old Bastard

Gary Busey turns 65 today!


"Drinking your own blood is the paradigm of recycling."

Sunday, June 28

First Review of Mya's Horrible DVD Appears

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10K Bullets just posted their review of Mya Communication's DVD of D'Amato's Horrible (Rosso sangue, Absurd). This was released under a variety of titles with most knowing it by Monster Hunter from the Wizard Video big box. EDDE Entertainment also released this in the mid-'90s as Zombie 6: Monster Hunter in an extremely color pumped tape. I've never seen the whole movie so I'm looking forward to this July 14th release. As mentioned prior, Mya has a great upcoming slate of more obscure Italian offerings that will act as much needed fill-in for the pasta catalogs of Blue Underground and Shriek Show.

Some quick thoughts on Friday the 13th on Blu-ray

Chi-chi-chi-*groan*-*groan*-*groan*

Not seeing this in theaters, I gave in to the peer pressure of other bloggers yesterday and plopped down a twenty and a ten for ze Blu-ray at Wal Mart--Always. ®

Not the smartest choice. Now, I wasn't one of these fans who automatically balked at the mention of this remake. I can honestly say I didn't care either way, didn't follow the progress of its creation online, and even forgot who directed it until last night. Boy, it ain't what it used to be.

One of the first things that struck me and endured throughout was how flat out annoying the group introduced after the opening title was in comparison to the group that was on the brunt end of Jason's machete in the opening attention grabber. Natually, persons 18ish or older are tantamount to cattle for the slicing, but these twenty-somethings on vaca we're forced to stick with are so grating you wish Jason would suddenly crash through a window and get down to some gory skullfucking. Okay, maybe not literal insertion of Voorhee's dork into cranial cavities, but you get my point. Danielle Panabaker (Jenna) looks like a young Leah Remini and one gets the distinct impression Travis Van Winkle (Trent) is a douche both on and off the screen. The on-screen sibling leads also do nothing to move the viewer or even simply side with them being just two attractive, vanilla, and definitely all-American young adults. How boring.

This leads to the interpretation of Jason by Derek Mears. I had heard he was more methodical this go around and upon watching everyone's favorite killer momma's boy it's all maybe a bit too much for my liking. I've always favored the killer an unstoppable "sentient brickwall" whose original rage towards his mother's death has been gradually replaced with a unsettling rendition of a ubiquitous backwooods boogeyman that can molded by an individual's own fears. Michael Myers is another example. This "re-imagining" takes Jason away from that and into something closer to a more "cinematic" horror flick mass-murderer. He's still Jason, albeit less so. The lack of any of real hero shots of the character certainly doesn't help matters. The few that are there, like Jason ominously standing on the roof in the moonlight, are far too short to leave any impact. Lastly, why does he throw shit around or act frustrated? Talk about a load of bullshit.

There's also small things that tweaked my brains the wrong way. The score is essentially electronic droning compared to Manfredini's work. There's nearly no sense of geography concerning the positions of Trent's parent's summer house, Camp Crystal Lake, and Jason's lair. Nispel has no marked directorial style and merely seems to be leaning on the talents of the crew surrounding him. Where's the dilapidated camper cabins inside the camp's boundaries? Why does Jason need to reside in the room that Trent Reznor floated around in from Nine Inch Nails' music video for Closer? Why are the locations so damn cluttered with junk/set dressing? Why does the Nispel/Bay/Pearl "sister film" to this remake (TCM '03) also have sweaty, bizarre, and southern-fried locals?

At least the kills are generally decent, especially the brutal killing and tow truck dragging of Trent. I hope the sequel is better...

New Line's Blu-ray (and DVD) scream re-release as the slim extras are pure short-running fluff. Even the Picture-in-Picture trivia track isn't particularly in-depth. The 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer looks good despite issues with subtle noise reduction and a surprising number of shots both in-and-out of the action sequences looking slightly out-of-focus. The lossless Dolby TrueHD is extremely active to the point I opted to hear it through the TV speakers halfway through. The choosing between the rated and extended rated versions is confusing. The disc defaults to the extended version and the menus speak of no selection between the two, only the theatrical version. If you select the theatrical version, the only way to get to the extended version is by picking a scene to jump to in Scene Selection. Sound confusing? Yes, it is.
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Saturday, June 27

Fuck Dude I'm Buying It!

MEGA RARE SEALED BETA EDITION: $1,5000,000, EMAIL ME, SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!!!

The eBay feeding frenzy off Michael Jackson's still fresh corpse is in full swing and I came across this million dollar auction for a Making Michael Jackson's Thriller VHS. I'm planning on buying it and the domain name MICHAELJACKSONSHIT.com since I'm out spending the big bucks anyway.

The nerve and complete stupidity of these sellers...
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Friday, June 26

Spasms (1983)

pardon the Betamax cover

Directed by William Fruet
92 Minutes / Thorn EMI Video / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

(spoilers)

Wealthy explorer Jason Kinclaid (Oliver Reed) enlists the knowledge of a doctor who specializes in telepathy, Tom Brasilian (Peter Fonda), to examine a mythical snake captured in a small tribal island. Kinclaid is troubled by horrible experiences of feeling the surrounding turmoil and killings by the serpent and believes Dr. Brasilian can lead to an answer, but a sect of Californian snake-worshipping cultists are also aware of the discovery. The snake arrives and is interned at a local college, but that night men working for the cult break in with one getting totally fucked up when the beast escapes from its pen. The survivor (Al Waxman) informs the cult leader who demands he not fail again in his recovery mission.

At this point, authorities are alerted and the search begins as the snake randomly kills in its slithery trail. Waxman gets spasmed real good during an attack and Kinclaid travels to his summer home armed with an AK to finally face down the creature after getting a track on its whereabouts through a controlled telepathic session with Brasilian.

I had put off watching this one given the generally negative reviews, however; it's not nearly as bad as some make it out to be. This doesn't mean it's void of several crippling problems. First, the whole telepathy angle is a device of convenience being only used to give some connection between the protagonists and the snake. There's also a glut of blue tinted snake POV shots which might sound like a trivial detail, though it's so ridiculous the whole film is cheapened by a noticeable degree whenever we see victims facing the menace of a shaky camera. Worst of all, the editing is sloppy particularly derailing at the climax. After enduring some delirium inside the summer home; Kinclaid confronts the snake, gets killed, Brasilian with love interest Keane arrive, machine gun the snake, walk off, the slain serpent catches ablaze, and the credits roll. All this in under five minutes. It's as if Fruet and company simply said "fuck this" and ended it. Before I forget, the cultist aspect is completely dumped after the phone call at the end of the first paragraph above.

There are a scant few redeeming qualities. Despite there being only one real entire body spasmodic "bloating" (Waxman), it's pretty disgusting and horrifying with the spongy final shot illustrated on the cover art. The other attacks involve no spasms, but are surprisingly brutal and fast-paced. When the men break in to the college lab the resulting attack is furious with one of them torn up and thrown around the room like a ragdoll from ceiling to floor. In another a woman is savaged in midair in her home, thrown through a bathroom door, and bloodily strikes a glass shower door much to the terror of the nude girl on the other side. The performances are decent enough as well, with the pleasant and learned British-accented Reed faring the best. We don't see much of Fonda.

The cover art is so promising, oh well. I believe Code Red has the rights, so maybe we'll see an uncut DVD release in the future.


VHS Picture: 6/10
VHS Sound: 4/10

FlashFulci? LucioDance?

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The Italian Domo Video VHS of Lucio Fulci's Murderock - uccide a passo di danza arrived today. The interesting thing is that the tape is in the primarily U.S./Japan NTSC video standard instead of the European PAL standard. Otherwise, this edition is 100% identical to the "real" Italiano tape, right down to the untranslated back synopsis and no subtitles for the Italian audio. I've never seen the flick (no real desire), but the price was right and I figured this is much rarer than the Shriek Show DVD being a horder of obscure Fulci videos.


Thursday, June 25

Why Can't Horror Be Funny Anymore?


or better yet why can't horror be funny and financially successful anymore?

I'm sure this has been mulled over ad nauseum on horror forums, but while watching a trailer for Zombieland on Youtube, the first comment was the following:

"This looks more funny than scary, but i'm still going to see it."

This seems to be the prevalent sediment amongst the younger mainstream moviegoer. Not so much the "see it" part but the negative connotation surrounding horror movies being funny. Why the stigma, people? The same feeling comes when assessing Drag Me to Hell's domestic box office performance. With a take just over nine million its production budget, Raimi's return is somewhat of a disappointment essentially nightcapping the production and advertising budgets. If there was any hope for a true Evil Dead 4, Drag's reception just snuffed it out and Raimi finally has a credible scapegoat for that constant question. To which I'm sure Mr. Spider-Man is quietly pleased. Of course, the fun Slither fared significantly worse in not breaking even with worldwide gross. Even the hugely popular Shaun of the Dead barely crossed the thirty mil mark worldwide, but granted the budget was an amazingly low four million(?!) according to the IMDB. Not to mention Warner royally fucking over Trick 'r Treat.

Horror seems to be more of a home video medium ever since the '80s rental boom. I'm sure these films and others like it have/will recoup and prove their longevity on the DVD racks. It's just a damn shame the majority of moviegoers have chosen the "horromedy" the red-headed stepchild of silver screen ticket sales.

Money isn't everything (in a broader sense, not in studio exec standards) and horror needn't be an episode of Laugh-In, but this trend further stymies the overall pursuit of fresh ideas delivered on a grand scale in the genre. At least on the lines of bullshit walks producers and investors. The foreseeable pinnacle will arrive when Christian Bale is cast in a Rob Zombie Halloween sequel. That level of glumness and hyper violence might just cause a rash of unexplainable suicides to sweep the nation upon release. Maybe then people will start giggling.

...buuuttttt this doesn't put a damper on how nifty Zombieland looks!
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Wednesday, June 24

Try and Find It: Master Movies' DVD of THE TERROR


This is another decent little chesnut that got sucked into "no copyright" hell like these two. Anyone is free to release these and seemingly everyone has including your very own dear grandmother. What? Like you didn't know. If you don't a copy, there's probably one within a half mile radius...wherever you go.

Now because of this, the majority of copies look like refried video ass and are often unwatchable. Though this one released in year one of the DVD format (1997) by "Master Movies" somehow features the best picture of all the copies I've seen. While still looking like a budget disc, the transfer has color and detail completely absent from the heaps of fuzzy bleached out copies at Dollar Tree or your local Chinese market.

The only problem is that the disc has been out-of-print for years and is fucking hard to find. It took me a long time to finally dig one up after initially hearing about it at The Pulsing Cinema years ago before they dumped all their articles. Note the case sucks being a slim CD case-like "LaserFile". The tray only slides out as far as in the picture and has no spindle to hold the disc. Needless to say the disc's data side looks annihilated. Though it plays and that's little payment for the great PQ.


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Tuesday, June 23

Voorhees Part Deux - Quick Thoughts and Little DVD Comparison


They blew one of the biggest sequel potentials in slasherdom here. I can't think of any other fright flicks that had such potent makings of one of the biggest reveals in mainstream Horror history than Friday the 13th. Mrs. Voorhees' cherished son could have made one incredible introduction, but instead F13 II blows that wad in nonsensical fashion before the opening credits. If things had been so quiet for five years after the massacre; how in the hell could have Jason found Alice? Let alone crawl out from his shack down by the river to even walk suburban streets and then find his way back?

would you like fries with your hotness?

This sequel is full of questions like that. Why does Jason run from a lone sheriff? Why does he move the whistling pot off the hot element? Where did all the camper teens go? How does Ginny defeat Jason? Ginny pees herself? How does Terry's little furry feces factory magically re-animate? Where's Paul? It's so downright frustrating that even the small questions annoy. One can imagine the surprise hit that was the original spurred a quickie sequel that forced a gloss over on these things and more. The introduction of Jason is there, however as noted; Miner and Kurz mostly squander an opportunity that seems so obvious...and rip-off a Mario Bava kill from Twitch of the Death Nerve.

THE BURNING

I am coming down hard on the film. It goes for what's easy and reduces itself down to an (albeit good) stock standard slasher. Though maybe it was a degree of uncertainty whether or not eleven and a half more additions would be the future. Well, twelve and a half more...

*fap fap fap*

The above capture is one of the things the film gets so right. If there's one featured actress I would want to see undress, skinny dip, dress, and then die--it's Kirsten Baker. Jason is at his most human and his actions act as a good refresher for the whiners of his intelligent antics in the most recent installment. Also the big lingering reveal of sack head in the cabin's bedroom is perfect and little shots like Vickie's bloodied shoes limply dragging down the stairs eerily stick with you. Otherwise, there's so much the story could have done to be much more suspenseful and epic feeling in scale. I guess so is life and at least it's not Freddy's Revenge.

Paramount's new High Definition-sourced transfer is generally great looking, especially evident in the earlier daytime sequences. There is some noise reduction, but the bright and lively image topples the original 1999 DVD presentation with little problem. Also kudos to the studio for including the original mono soundtrack.

1999 DVD / 2009 Deluxe Edition


Monday, June 22

Jaws Returns (1981)


A.K.A. L'ultimo squalo / The Last Shark
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari
88 Minutes / Albatros Film Japan / 1.85:1 Widescreen

Police chef Martin Bro...I mean Peter Benton (James Franciscus) and salty seaman Ron Hamer (Vic Morrow) face off against a gigantic stiff-as-a-board Great White after a stubborn mayor (Joshua Sinclair) refuses to halt a windsurfing contest that resulted in a massacre of a terrifying pink buoy shredding knocking people into the water. I know, holy shit. Benton vows personal vengeance over his daughter's eaten leg after a failed attempt by a few local teens to kill the sea beast. An unscrupulous television reporter (Giancarlo Prete) sees these events as his meal ticket as he films the attacks for his own ends. Also the mayor is a complete dumbass when he decides to battle solo with a hunk of chuck and a chopper. Sound wholly original? Indeed!

The Italian superpowers of director Castellari with writers Vincenzo Mannino and Ugo Tucci align under the musical stylings of the brothers De Angelis to deliver a mealy piss in the bearded mouth of Spielberg. This is the gloriously timed rip-off that caused Universal to shit themselves, take legal action, and effectively "ban" this flick in the States. Surprisingly, it's not that bad and just might edge out Michael Caine's Jaws 4 paycheck.

James Franciscus isn't really worth discussion as his character and performance are as vanilla as white bread. Though you gotta wonder what Vic Morrow thought of running through Robert Shaw's fantastic turn in Jaws with such obvious intent. He's in the same gruff and stand-offish template, but the character isn't nearly as tough. First, he's stunned in an attempt to dynamite he and Benton's way out of a oceanfloor cavern that the shark intentionally covered to entrap the two. Then he's simply dragged off when the shark seems to realize the man is entangled in rope. Romano Puppo shows up and gets a cool little introductory shot as a badass shark killer/denim-clad cowboy only to be shiftly eaten ten minutes later. The rest of the cast like Franciscus aren't too notable, Micaela Pignatelli is Benton's wife who just blends off into the background.

As noted above, the film goes out of its way to cast the fish as intelligent, but its ridiculous appearance and mismatched stock footage hamper all hope. The Great White just sorta emerges robotically and slowly behind victims that then act pulled under. The actual attacks are slim in number and usually are just bodies being reluctantly ripped in half with a few splashes of watery blood. It sounds like a recipe for laughs yet usually fails to tickle the throat.

The combined elements pull together just enough to be watchable, but it's all pretty disappointing, but how else could it have been? Castellari seems out-of-sorts in the water as opposed to the mean asphalt of Rome and probably knew this was merely a bill payer. Our friend Bruno Mattei revisited the theme, stole directly from this film and Jaws, and cast a Hulk Hogan look-a-like for '96's Cruel Jaws. On paper at least that sounds like what this should have been.


VHS Picture: 7/10
VHS Sound: 5/10

Sunday, June 21

6/20/21 Swap Meet Finds

Sponsored by Vincent Price and football

K-TEL 2-Horror Classics Double Feature


Here's one of the rarer editions of these two films I found today amongst a box stuffed with loose rap CDs at a swap meet. Of course, NOLD and Dementia 13 have for better-or-worse long slipped into public domain, so copies will survive global nuclear holocaust, but this double feature VHS set from 1984 is quite scare like any of K-Tel's obscure tapes. Their only other video release I know of is Antonio Margheriti's Mr. Superinvisible. I've only seen this set one other time on eBay in better shape going for around forty bucks.


Both tapes are recorded in SP mode and watching NOLD right now I'm surprised how good it looks. The restored DVDs from Elite and Weinstein Co. naturally take it to task, but the presentation is miles ahead of the bottomless pit of hellishly awful EP-sourced cheapies on tape and disc being very stable and mostly free of print damage. I find myself watching it instead of typing. The case is massive resembling a double-decker soft clamshell case. It was terribly dirty and after cleaning the entire rag was literally black. Also worst of all there was a "Horror" and big price sticker on the cover! Too bad about the top damage, but it has character and the cool unsigned artwork is clean.

Saturday, June 20

Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (1975)


A.K.A. A Special Magnum for Tony Saitta / Blazing Magnum / Shadows in an Empty Room
Directed by Alberto De Martino
97 Minutes / Vestron Video / Cropped from 2.35:1 to full screen

After the mysterious poisoning of a girl at a college get-together, the brother of the slain who also happens to be a hard-as-nails police captain (Stuart Whitman) sets out determined to find her killer. He and his sergeant (John Saxon) believe it to be a doctor (Martin Landau) known to have something on the side with the girl, but their assumptions are tested when questioning her blind roommate (Tisa Farrow) and the discovery of an expensive necklace.

This is a pretty big case of false advertising judging by the "gialloish" re-title and box artwork above. This is definitely action/crime first with a small slice of euro-thriller on the side. Though this isn't a bad thing since it's quite a crackling mix between the Italian and American cop action aesthetics. Whitman is essentially Dirty Harry with an acute hint of British harshness as he beats the piss out of thug and non-thugs alike in his personal quest. He even gets in an apartment-destroying tussle with three transvestites and nearly falls off the side of the building in the process. Saxon amounts to tough wallpaper with nothing to do besides be to Whitman's left throughout. Landau is dependable as usual and Farrow looks distinctly younger than when seen a few years later in Fulci's Zombie.

There's a seriously kick ass car chase sequence towards the latter half ripping through urban streets, highways, and sharp grassy knolls. Being shot in Canada gives the added advantage of seeing '70s Plymouth boats clashing together instead of the usual needling Alfas in Italian actioners. Armando Trovajoli's score really adds to the poliziesco feel, but becomes repetitive being mostly subtle changes to the main theme. Twists and turns come logically and the climax is well handled making the proceedings feel even more worth the time. Now where's the damn DVD?


VHS Picture: 5/10
VHS Sound: 6/10

Leprechauns are boring even in the ghetto...


Could somebody tell me why I can't get into the spirit of either the Leprechaun or Child's Play/Chucky series?

I just half-watched a good chunk of Leprechaun in the Hood and despite its reputation as a sorta prime example of B-grade shit on the restroom wall of "straight-to-DVDdom"--ultimately a sudden "hit the stop button" realization comes to pass midway in for no particular reason. Minimal gore and unfunny lines make Lep a dull boy, but it's also innocuous enough in a "I wanna shoot a nigga homeboy in his motherfuckin' head while his bitch is watchin'" kind of way. The characters tend to wallow in the worst of African American stereotypes and frankly this old song-and-dance wears raw. What's even more condescending is a convenient vibe of a "do the right thing" mentality that seems inserted to soften any potential offensiveness given off by the characters and the gun-totin' thug life situations they're placed in.

There is one line I did legitimately grant a laugh. Upon encountering a frisky muscular transvestite, Leprechaun says something along the lines of "Sorry, I don't play with fruit, I just needs me flute..." Besides that, this one is destined for the giveaway pile...
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One of the Greatest DVD Transfers Ever. Period.


When someone asks what's the best picture quality I've seen on the DVD format, V.I.P.'s Swiss disc of Women in Cellblock 9 (Frauen für Zellenblock 9) is the only choice. There are films considered beloved cornerstones of cinema that haven't been given nearly the same amount of love and care.

The painstakingly restored transfer is incredibly film-like, unfiltered, and it's more than a little amusing the material is a Jess Franco cheapie W.I.P. flick with an abundance of skin and exploitative titillation. Franco's camera does waver with the focus at times, even within singular shots, but when sharp the resulting images put quite a number of Blu-ray transfers to shame.

The fourth pair are V.I.P's editions of Jack the Ripper and Barbed Wire Dolls. Unforunately, Jack looks from a video master and Barbed has been digtally noise reduced creating a very unpleasant smeary "video" appearance. I don't have any of the studio's other Franco discs, but Women in Cellblock 9 certainly seems the high-water mark.

(captures unresized, saved as .pngs, converted to lossless .jpgs)

Friday, June 19

Some quick thoughts on Ghostbusters on Blu-ray


Why can't they make movies like this anymore?

I should just end it there. This is the comedy classic that typifies the seemingly lost assumption of the audience not being lackey vagabonds that need (or desire) to be spoon-fed or talked down to. There aren't long diatribes about how Stay Puft is New York's favorite marshmallow, Egon's theories behind the equipment, or the transformation of battleship ambulance into ECTO-1. You just know if this never existed and were made today the runtime would push three hours from an inches thick slather of gross over-explaination and bomb at the BO. Of course, the lack of techie details let The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series go apeshit with wild fill-in.

This economy of "intelligent design" also translates through a dream cast that doesn't quite look so on paper. We know almost instantaneously Murray is part scientist/mostly mac, Aykroyd is the passionate dork, Ramis is the stuffy yet lovable geek, and Hudson is the everyman (the voice of the audience) who tempers the three giant personalities. Weaver is gorgeous, Moranis is intentionally annoying, Potts is a Knickerbocker through-and-through, and Atherton is dickless. Yes, this man has no dick.

As if you didn't know all this already. I was going to peruse the "Hated It" comments on the IMDB for the hell of it, but let's not and just say fuck those people. Ghostbusters is a massive achievement in the form of an unexpected bond between child-like spooky wonder and no bullshit laughs. How can you not love a PG-rated film where nearly everyone smokes...repeatedly. Hell, the last shot of Dr. Stantz is he lightin' up another cig. Well, Egon doesn't, but he probably assessed the risks using the scientific method and reached the conclusion after arduous research the action wouldn't be proactive towards the longevity of his being. Much better to stick with collecting spores, molds, and fungus whilst pondering Tobin's Spirit Guide.

The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer is the subject of a mild controversy in A/V groups. Like the the 2005 DVD re-release, the image has been brightened, loosing the warm reddish look of the original 1999 DVD. "Purists" have bitched, but The Digital Bits has confirmed the BD image had been D.P.-approved shortly before this death. Otherwise, the transfer is a stunner for a 1984 release. Extremely grainy, which it should be, though the grain is "tight" and if erased we'd merely have DVD resolution again. It's a substantial jump being the best the film has ever looked on home video in every way. The lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 isn't nearly the same leap, but Bernstein's score is crystal clear.

The picture-in-picture "Slimer Mode" is awesome with a plethora of new interviews and behind the scenes footage in real time as the film plays. My only complaint about the supplemental material is the lack of the film's trailer and the fact the original ECTO-1 looked days away from the junk yard compactor (seriously?!?) before being beautifully restored as seen in the "Resurrecting a Classic Car" featurette.

Wednesday, June 17

Tinkering with the Background

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Is it easily loadable (it's only 155kb) and most importantly is the text still readable, guys? I got tired of the dark gray....

The new background is a heavily degraded picture of La fille de Dracula's poster from Wrong Side of the Art's collection.
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Jason Lives - Quick Thoughts and Little DVD Comparison


Does he think I'm a farthead?...YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!


Despite knowing Part 6 will eventually debut on Blu-ray just like Parts 1-3 so far and owning two other prior DVD editions...thirteen bucks later (har har) the new Deluxe Edition was in my Wal Mart bag yesterday.

Admittedly, I just never got deep into slashers. Probably stemming from seeing all of these guy's exploits out of their prime after first discovering Romero's zombies and Fulci's fixation on super Leone-like close-ups. The only memory I have from the era when Freddy was in full jig was my father bringing home an Elm Street poster around '86 or '87. I freaked and demanded it taken down while crying.

Enough about my stupid ass, this is my favorite F13 sequel, which is no big surprise since it's the charmer to many others. The opening stunner with Jason resurrectus is simply fucking awesome. I remember cheering upon Tommy's friend falling into his final resting place my first viewing. It's the first in the series to go out-of-the-way to place Jason in a more self aware iconic spotlight with badass shots like Mr. Hockey Mask atop a smoldering camper. C. J. Graham embodies Voorhees just as well as Hodder and adds subtle touches (much like Kane) like re-adjusting a pole in his hands after driving it through the Volkswagen's windshield.

Thom Mathews makes for the strongest male lead in the series and it's welcome to see the Jarvis role not reshaped for another Feldman return in the same fashion as the recent Bale/Terminator Salvation debacle. Jennifer Cooke is also a cut above your average final girl in her last role before retirement. The comedy is much less campy than Part 5, looking past the paintball sequence, taking a darker edge with wry editing. Not to mention Jason's head-crushing panache and the Alice Cooper tuneage.

Now on to DVD comparison. The biggest difference is the color cast. The first two Paramount discs are essentially identical with a brighter blueish hue. The new Deluxe Edition has a darker greenish hue which I suspect is more appropriate since a new high definition transfer was minted for this release and forthcoming Blu-ray. The new transfer also has a more solid appearance with a more apparent grain structure. It's not a big leap, but the Blu-ray might just exhibit a surprising leap in quality since it seems Paramount didn't try very hard in squeezing every ounce of the DVD format's potential here.

2001 DVD / 2004 Ultimate Collection / 2009 Deluxe Edition
(images unresized, captured as .pngs, converted to lossless .jpgs)

Tuesday, June 16

Surprise Among the Living Dead: The Recon Mission

finding a home amongst its brethren

This is a follow-up to Surprise Among the Living Dead

I've just run through this oddity and wanted to address the kind Robert Monell's questions (see his excellent Jess Franco blog here) pertaining to this release. Visit this film's thread on The World of Jess Franco forum for further details.

On-Screen Title: "VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD"
Language: English w/ English credits
Ratio: Full Screen
Runtime: 1:28:03 (88 minutes, 3 seconds) (from film start to fade to black)
Tape Type: T105 (105 minutes)
Playback VCR: U.S. Sony SLV-640HF (60Hz NTSC-only)

- NO BBFC Certification at the beginning of the tape
- The film ends with Christina "going mad" and the final shot is her lying on a bed with "THE END" imposed along the bottom of the picture.

The nudity is either cut, blacked out, or blotted out by a purple halo.

Rollin's zombie inserts are included.

Monday, June 15

How to Properly Treat Trash: Vipco's The Zombie Dead

.
Vipco's U.K. disc of Bianchi's Italian cheeze cold cut on rye Burial Ground (Le notti del terrore) arrived today under stupid "Zombie Dead" title. I already have Peter Bark's incestuous piece de resistance on DVD from Shriek Show and Italian Shock, but figured if a Brit on Amazon's Marketplace is okay with shipping a disc to the States for a grand total of $2.99--I'm game. Anyway I popped the disc in and was very pleasantly surprised by the transfer especially considering the now defunct studio's dubious reputation. Without checking I knew it was superior to Shriek Show's presentation, but upon further digging this transfer even beats Shock's solid treatment. The Vipco features actual film grain, producing a picture that's closest to the original negative and the most finely detailed of the lot. The Shriek Show being the worst despite sporting anamorphic enhancement; very boosted brightness, slightly cropped, and swimming with ugly digital artifacts. The Vipco edition is out of print so keep an eye out on eBay and such. It's a keeper!

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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