Wednesday, August 31

Red Sun (1971) - 1986 Hollywood Video Gems Big Box VHS

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Red Sun is one of those films with such progressive casting that the prospects of its featured actors together on one screen is enough to still reel viewers in out of sheer curiosity. In other words, if this western didn't exist, movie geeks would squeal at the possibilities of a Bronson/Mifune pairing, let alone throwing in Alain Delon and Ursula Andress. The actuality is an entertaining brew that firmly stays cemented in popcorn territory; so its best not to expect any echos of Harmonica, Kikuchiyo, and Jef Costello clashing in Leone's West.

I unexpectedly found this Video Gems big box this past Saturday at a barren haunt just before Irene began spitting. This is the best looking domestic tape of the film with the best artwork. After this VHS (also released in a slipbox), the cheap-ass UAV Entertainment released a poor EP-speed tape, which was ported to DVD, and then Fox Lorber released another disc (both are out-of-print). Of course, Red Sun seems to have been released on DVD in every other country and is readily available to those with region free capability.


Tuesday, August 30

Speaking of Evil Ed (1995)

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Anders Jacobsson's Swedish gore export, Evil Ed, is a horror film for horror fans. Now I know that trite phrase has been thrown around ad nauseam, but this horror comedy's premise is rooted in a false notion that has long haunted the genre since its inception. That damned horror filth breeds sadistic killers, dun'cha know?

Ed is a lowly film lab technician who, after the grenade-in-mouth suicide of fellow employee, is tasked to finish the editing of the latest fifth installment of the "Loose Limbs" series of splatter slashers. After days of repeatedly enduring scenes of female choking and chopping long into the night (with maniacal vocals provided by Bill Moseley), Ed gets a bit frazzled and begins to have grisly hallucinations. These disturbances eventually get the best of him and come to a violent head when his asshole producer boss discovers Ed has scorn his film of the goriest segments, including the world's first beaver/woman rape sequence. Jamaican refrigerator goblins, albino Satans, and bloody hospital rampages ensue.

So you could say Evil Ed aims to lampoon and debunk this misconception by showing the sheer lunacy of a reality critics try to pass off as eventual from exposure to gory horror films. It accomplishes this, but more over the filmmakers seem to be having way more fun paying homage to horror they love both directly and through stylistic riffs (chiefly Raimi's Evil Dead 2) than concentrating on pure satire. Usually I hate blatant self-referential nods, like posters of real horror being spotted throughout, but Jacobsson gets a pass considering the period and country of origin. Evil Ed was made years before anyone could obtain prosumer equipment and stink up the place with the now old hat direct winking of an eye at horror standards.

Also being Sweden's first and only(?) gore film, you can't help but feel the celebratory glee of a niche of horror lovers finally being able to express their love and appreciation toward the genre through its native medium. Here's an interesting (if true) tidbit from Wikipedia: "The film is a satire towards the harsh censoring that the Swedish Statens Biografbyrå (Cinema Bureau of the State) ran from 1911 until it was halted in 1996. The bureau was dismissed in 2011, being the oldest film censoring organization in the world. The filmmakers were publicly ridiculed by the head of the Swedish Film Institute on national television." Mission Accomplished.

The real point of this entry was to showcase this video I stumbled across after rewatching the film this past weekend promising some sorta "Special EDition" last year. The picture quality of this video is far superior to the three DVDs I own and to my knowledge no other disc looks nearly as good. I'll also have to check the DFW disc, but I don't remember the b/w "News Today" footage being anywhere in the film or part of the official trailer...

Regarding uncut/cut versions, I have yet to find the "unrated" A-Pix U.S. tape, but their DVD is the heavily-edited R-rated version. The Ardustry Home Entertainment DVD, dubbed "Unrated Director's Cut", appears to be nearly uncut, only missing a short black-and-white dramatic scene of a film Ed is editing just after the opening credits. All the gore appears intact when compared to DFW's fully uncut Dutch PAL-format DVD. Though none of these have the PQ of this video (Ardustry's transfer is especially trash). All three of these discs are out-of-print. Maybe this video was/is advertising another upcoming disc? Would be nice...

(NSFW warning: tatted breasteses...)

Monday, August 29

Surviving Irene and an Update on Massacre Video's "555" DVD/VHS...

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Yes sir, not long after I updated Saturday's entry at 9:30 p.m. the frugal fury of Irene began throwing branches and trash cans about the neighborhood. Shortly after midnight my household joined the nearly 150k that lost power in the county and it wasn't restored until about 11 this morning.

Anywho, as an unfortunate follow-up to Massacre Video debuts inaugural VHS and DVD release with 555, the release is currently delayed due to snags with the ever-reliable PayPal. To my understanding, Massacre Video had everything in order and was going to use the pre-order funds to pay for the final pressings and then begin shipping out the finished products to those that ordered. Seems reasonable and knowing Louis from online correspondence he's certainly not one to fuck people over, but PayPal is harder to convince. I'll try and keep everyone abreast to what's going on, after all, I really want my MV VHS copy!     

"If you may have noticed, the Massacre Video store is temporarily down. Long story short, PayPal feels that I should not be able to spend any of the pre-order money to make the product! They refuse to unlock the money until I ship the product out, which is counterproductive because without the money I can not pay for the product to be created, so how could it be shipped? After speaking to PayPal representatives for hours on end, I realized I hit a brick wall and they do not care about the little company or how they could possibly corrupt it.

Within a day or so I will post again to let everyone know what is currently going on with the pre-orders! 

TO EVERYONE WHO HAS PRE-ORDERED, YOUR ORDER WILL BE HONORED!

I have put a lot into this project already for it to fail at the last second due to a greedy multi-billionaire company such as PayPal. I will work diligently to make sure that this is solved in the fastest manner possible.

Thank you so much to everyone that has pre-ordered and please bear with me while I try to fix this shit storm! -Louis"

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Saturday, August 27

Possible Hurricane Hiatus...?

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Update, 9:32 PM EST: Wind and rain are finally picking up after being even keel all day, got a few power flickers, still doesn't seem as extreme as the news is proporting it to be. After Evil Ed, I moved on to Mosquito (1995), Death Wish II (1982), and finishing up Return of the Living Dead (1985) now...

Update, 5:15 PM EST: Still seems relatively okay on the Chesapeake with some winds and steady rain. Watching Anders Jacobsson's Evil Ed (1995)


Friday, August 26

House of 1000 Corpses (2003) - 2003 Lions Gate/Trimark DVD Screener

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screener's static and only menu
Went on another day trip before Irene plunges the Eastern seaboard into a toilet paper and milk Apocalypse and snagged this screener disc of Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses for three bucks at an old guy's yard sale on the way. I was so jacked at the find I nearly turned around right then. Well, not really, but it was very unexpected and couldn't wait to see if there were any differences with the retail disc.

Differences are there but they're subtle. The 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced with an intermittent no rental or sale warning. Interestingly, the matting is slightly thicker on the final release compared to this screener which has picture tight to the borders. So there's a sliver more picture on the top and bottom of the pre-release. The screener is also a touch darker. Haven't figured why yet, but the screener is seven seconds longer as well (1:28:07 vs. 1:28:00). The audio is limited to English Dolby 2.0 with twenty minutes of trailers including a slightly different home video version of Ho1kC's theatrical trailer. The single-layer disc itself has no art looking like a double-sided DVD.

The screener's back cover is designed to sell the sizzle of the film's theatrical run to potential retail and rental chains but the real story is the modified front calling it "Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses", adding the "The most shocking tale of carnage ever seen" tagline, abbreviating the L.A. Times pull quote, and adding the house along the bottom. Basically a slightly different take on the theatrical one-sheet (seen here). Also notice how the back states the actual release will include deleted scenes yet no release anywhere has ever included any to date. In addition for the sake of trivia, Lionsgate has stealthily managed to release several DVD variants since Zombie's debut first appeared on video as follows:
  • Initial Cardboard Gatefold Digi-pak (catalog #VM8429D, same number as screener)
  • Clear Amaray Case with double-sided art (catalog #VM8429D)
  • Clear Amaray Case with double-sided art without L.A. Times quote (catalog #VM8510D)
  • Black Amaray Case with single-sided art with L.A. Times quote reinstated and generic white disc art (no catalog number, some copies have blurry cover resolution)


(all stateside DVDs in order above with screener first)

Capture Comparison, click for full size (Screener TOP / Retail BOTTOM)

Thursday, August 25

New Evil Dead II Blu-ray Artwork and Damn Fuckin' Straight, Lionsgate!

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Finally, after Anchor Bay stupidly took uneducated criticism to heart and produced the truly awful looking Book of the Dead DVD edition and utilized the same ruined master for their Blu-ray, there might still be hope for Sam Raimi's perennial horromedy  Evil Dead 2 to actually look like film again on video since over a decade. Fingers, toes, and naughty bits crossed...  

From Fangoria: "While chatting up all those Sam Raimi associates, Felsher has also been talking to them about EVIL DEAD II, which Lionsgate Home Entertainment issues on a new Blu-ray currently slated for November 15. While Felsher can’t reveal everything you can expect to find on this disc, he does tell us, “There will be a huge making-of documentary with over two dozen members of the cast and crew [including Campbell, pictured above], and much more. Also, Lionsgate is aware of how dissatisfied people were with the transfer on the previous EVIL DEAD II Blu-ray, and are taking steps to solve that issue for the new edition."

25th Anniversary Edition Supplements (coming November 15th, 2011):
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Cast/Crew
  • NEW “Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead II” Documentary
  • NEW “Road to Wadesboro: The Location of Evil Dead II” Featurette
  • NEW “Cabin Fever: Behind the Scenes of Evil Dead II” Featurette
  • NEW Video/Still Gallery of Marketing Materials, Production, Special Effects, Animation, and more!
  • Archival Featurettes, Footage, Galleries, TV Spots and more!
Just as a reminder, Lionsgate, fix this! (Anchor Bay 2004 BotD DVD, 2007 Blu-ray)

...back to something like this! (Anchor Bay's beautiful 2000 THX DVD)

Re: "Slashers: Why The Bad Rap?"

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Tom Hutchinson, don't you dare question him.
That very question has just been posed over at the great Planet of Terror and the answer is simple. Utter snobbery. But not just toward slashers, but to the modern horror era generally considered sparked by Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974 with H.G. Lewis pissing gallons of blood in the waters a decade earlier. The old guard's fans hated, and perhaps still hate, their Draculas, mummies, and ghouls becoming irrelevant to moviegoers.

Before the prevalence of home video, Fangoria, fanzines by the children of this new period, and eventually a plethora of horror-devoted websites, blogs, podcasts, forums, and conventions; old stuffy guides packed with stills with text that I assume no one figured anyone would actually read were the primary source for "serious" horror comment.

Not all critics derided the on-going sea change in the genre, but many loathed and simply didn't seem see at the time much of what they saw in the Golden Age of Horror had synthesized into a new style that reflected audiences more aware of realities after the trials of real atrocity and political chess striking home. That's not to condemn the importance of still enduring cultural icons, but horror films weren't confined to black-and-white children's fodder anymore. Audiences needed something equaling or topping the violent flashes streaming into their homes nightly.

What's more frustrating is how blatantly arrogant, untrustworthy, and unknowledgeable some of these reads are. It wasn't just enough that these biased authors swayed readers at every sentence, but based on some of their radically incorrect plot outlines, it's not hard to assume they didn't even watch the films they so bashed. Sometimes something like a Texas Chain Saw or Halloween might get a small photo but zero mention in the text. That's fair, right?

After realizing that, these books are little more than a resource for vintage stills and in no way worth the paper they're printed on otherwise. Of course, nowadays horror fans still rabidly bitch about new trends. Though I'd like to believe that both pro and homegrown critics have more credibility with the positive resource of the Internet and ease of viewing most any horror or cult item over-and-over at anytime for assessment.

Here's some entertaining bullshit mined from these old disposable guides:

From Horror & Fantasy in the Movies by Tom Hutchinson, 1974:

On Night of the Living Dead (1968): "...the hero's dead neighbors are resurrected and surround his house, calling to him to come out and join them...ultimately it says less than it thinks it's saying." Referring to an inset photo: "...corpses march towards the house of the hero in Cesar Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968)."

From The Encyclopedia of Horror edited by Richard Davis, 1981:

On Dawn of the Dead (1978): "...showed in macabre detail what happened when zombies overran New York. Most of the action takes place in a large supermarket awash in blood."

From Horrors: A History of Horror Movies by Tom Hutchinson and Roy Pickard, 1983:

On Alien (1979): "a perfect example of how much sci-fi films now rely on monster effects at the expense of the plot...no more than a B movie [with] a theme that's hardly new...substandard film [of] plot banality..."

On John Carpenter's The Thing (1982): "...teeters dangerously on the edge of what is acceptable in horror films...[the audience] should not be made to feel so uncomfortable that they feel sick and ill."

On When a Stranger Calls, Prom Night, Friday the 13th, and the "gruesome" Texas Chain Saw Massacre: "...most films of this ilk are no longer film at all; they are simply mindless horror comics in the hands of amateur young directors whose only objective is to produce more shocks with each succeeding movie."

On Dawn of the Dead (1978): (extremely misquoting the film): "They gravitate to places that have meant a lot to them when they were living," says one of the characters in the most overt statement yet about such a consuming and consumed society..."

On Fulci's Zombie (1979): "...yet another movie that used radiation as the reason why zombies [were] rampaging and overrunning New York."

On The Evil Dead (1982): "...presumed that audiences had paid to see a film with just such a title they would not want to be bothered with any rationalizations. The writer-director Samuel M. Raimi has gone so far over the top as to be out of sight."

From The Best, Worst, and Most Unusual Horror Films by Daniel Moore:

On Blood Feast, Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes: (under Worst Films, dubbed "Gore Films") "None of these are really good...the violence isn't even well done." 

From An Album of Modern Horror Films by Frank Manchel, 1983:

On the then emerging slasher trend: "Why, with all the critical uproar and badly made films, is the degrading cycle still going strong? Men who feel threatened by independent, attractive successful women are the biggest fans of the modern psychological thriller. They enjoy watching liberated women "get what's coming to them"....audiences seem bored with story, action, and characters."
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Wednesday, August 24

Hmmm, let's check out the discount poster section...HOLY SHIT!!! *NEARLY PISSES SELF*

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Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that intense, but I was in awe of what I found today while sniffing through a poster dealer's wares at a local antique shop. This guy must have had at least three hundred or so one sheets, daybills, lobby cards, and 8x10s from a random mix of periods and genres all shuffled together. All neatly cardboarded, wrapped, and tagged. Just as an example of the scattered order, you'd have a Space Jam reprint followed by an original, very expensive Japanese Beatles Help! poster followed by a Friday the 13th '09 teaser. There was no convenient organization so I had no recourse but to look at every piece.

Prices were all over the place and sometimes unexplainable like a $25 creased-up nothing special Bordello of Blood or $20 Undercover Brother. So I flip through all the leaning stacks passing by tags of usually $25, $35, $45, and some as high as $325. A few caught my eye like a $40 Weekend Murders/Black Belly of the Tarantula double feature and $35 Tales from the Hood teaser. Still seemed too steep despite myself being a real novice at movie paper collectibility/value. Then I get to the last bunch marked "$15 or Less". It was here three posters that literally had me doing a totally feminine happy jig while mumbling expletives of joy rested...





New Video of ZOMBIE's Remastering for Blue Underground's Upcoming Blu-ray

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I only hope this wasn't fucked up in Rome like several other BU Blu-rays, we'll see October 25th...

Tuesday, August 23

The Fog (1980) - 1985(?) Embassy Home Entertainment Japan LaserDisc

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Here's a fresh drop-off from a cheap eBay lot with a few other common domestic LDs, but unfortunately the presentation leaves much to be desired with a gamut of issues. Like the 1981 Magnetic Video LD (seen here), the picture is cropped to full screen. The difference being Embassy's cropjob being painfully panned-and-scanned. There's a lot of distracting motorized panning in still shots to capture speaking actors and other on-screen action otherwise unseen from the zooming. Magentic's presentation opts to keep the crop more balanced, doesn't seem to artificially move around, and manages to look much less butchered.

The overly blue-tinted and very dark image also suffers from blue or yellow chromatic aberration that produces heavy fringing along edges. This is very noticeable in the end credits as the white text is haloed in blue toward the top and bottom and then yellow when crawling upward center screen. None of this can be seen on the Magnetic LD. Otherwise the film is uncut with small white Japanese subtitles. I'm going to check the Magnetic again to verify, but this Embassy LD features that weird quick zoom during John Houseman's opening yarn (as seen on MGM's DVD as well). I love how the big still on the back looks taken with a standard Polaroid on flash.


Monday, August 22

Massacre Video debuts inaugural VHS and DVD release with 555

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EDIT: Actually wrote up most of this yesterday morning when the pre-orders first went live, but a violent storm decided I should live primitive the rest of the day. Logging into Facebook this morning, MV posted an update stating the VHS edition has already sold out online. Some copies will be available at the upcoming Cinema Wasteland. The standard DVD and LE DVD big box are still currently available.

Truly homebrew upstart Massacre Video has just posted pre-orders for three editions of their debut title, Wally Koz's 1988 shot-on-video wonder of ineptitude "555", over at their online shop.

"A hippie killer with a sex-fueled, murderous bloodlust is on a rampage and he’s brutally murdering innocent young couples! A nationwide trend of killings with the same m.o. happens to catch the eyes of Detective Haller and Sergeant Connor. Every five years, within five days of each other, the killer strikes! Now it’s up to Haller and Connor to find out who is behind these grisly murders. Who is this crazed, blood thirsty hippie? And more importantly, what is the significance of the third ‘five’? Prepare yourself for this blood-soaked, psycho thriller that will make you watch your back the next time you fool around!"

This rather insanely sought after '80s camcorder relic is available in three variants. First, a non-limited DVD with cast/crew interviews, image gallery of rare never before seen photos, liner notes by Art Ettinger of Ultra Violent Magazine, trailers for upcoming releases, and reversible cover art by Steven Morris.

The second is a limited edition clamshell VHS (only 50 copies) and the third another limited edition, this time to 100, DVD in big box VHS packaging with 555 pins, patch, stickers, replica video poster, print of Steven Morris's 555 art, and postcards signed by actor Scott Hermes. All pre-orders will come with a special only-printed-once limited 11×17" poster.

ETA for all three 555 variants is October 4th, 2011.
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Friday, August 19

Jesus wept...over the new Hellraiser: Revelations trailer...

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Worst sequel in horror franchise history...?



Thursday, August 18

Angel Heart (1987) - 1988 TOWA/Pioneer LDC Japan LaserDisc

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Fantastic cover art...
Just to recap when I reviewed Lionsgate's Blu-ray: "Mickey Rourke's performance, just a few short years from his near total career derailment, proves the man has born at the wrong time and is trading in the wrong profession. The stubble-faced, then only slightly facially scarred actor just exudes his character from every one of his loose pores. Lisa Bonet outgrows her Cosby Show training wheels along with ultra pissing off Cosby himself over her lecherous, blood-soaked sex scene with Rourke. De Niro was still firmly giving a damn back then in a devilishly minor but important role sandwiched between fanastic turns in The Mission and The Untouchables. It's simply good stuff, acting as an "in-spirit" sister film to Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder, but still Angel Heart doesn't resonant with me that well and each re-visit is almost like watching the film for the first time. That sounds bad, but shouldn't dissuade anyone from checking this one out pronto for themselves."

That experience was consistent when watching this Japanese LaserDisc last night. It's amazing how I always forget large chunks of Angel Heart and the last half still feels jammed up as it pushes clues pointing to Harry's obvious fate too hard. I guess that's part of the allure of Parker's film and how it's based in a chilling notion most everyone has pondered at least once. What if you really weren't who you always believed you were? And what if something radically life-altering appeared from this unknown past to reveal and claim your true self? That could echo a health condition based on family ancestry, but for Rourke's Angel, the reality of such a scenario is unimaginable.

TOWA's Japanese LD isn't anything special compared to the existing Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray. In fact, it's edited in both the once controversial nightmarish sex scene between Rourke and Bonet, seen uncut on the DVD/BD, and entirely of the cockfighting snippet in the horsetrack sequence. The disturbing imagery remains in the sex scene, after the blood starts dripping in the water pitcher, but the "violent gory humping" shots are removed.

Further more, the edited sex scene is completely taken from an inferior source shifting in picture quality at the moment Bonet steps forward from the dresser radio (@ 1:26:24 on the SE DVD) until the fat detective's fist is seen wrapping on the door the next morning. I'm unsure what the original Japanese theatrical version contained, but it appears the print (complete with reel change burns) used for this LD was edited in such a way to avoid the scene yet remain coherent.

Otherwise, the presentation is in unmatted full frame and bears CAROLCO's old logo that looks smeared with mud. Picture quality is very good for a print with minimal damage usually around the reel changes. The English Digital PCM stereo track is excellent and the Japanese subtitles are curiously handwritten in a long and slender style. A LaserDisc logo appears briefly in the bottom right in the first shot of the back alley along with De Niro's opening credit. Finally, the three-page gatefold insert includes the behind-the-scenes photo of Parker beside the decapitated body of Winesap (his tie indeed matches), a scene filmed but not seen in the film or deleted scenes.

From Wikipedia: "Winesap's death was filmed but never included in the theatrical film, nor was it included in the deleted scenes on the DVD release. The only evidence of its existence is a fleeting shot during the love scene as well as an on-set photograph from a 1987 issue of Fangoria which shows director Alan Parker crouching over the prosthetic mannequin of Florek's character. From the photograph, it can be inferred that Winesap was decapitated by an industrial fan in an unknown building by an unknown party; because Winesap was alive in New York during Angel's stay in New Orleans, it is likely that Cyphre had him killed remotely. The shot during the love scene shows an unknown man grasping Winesap by the lapels of his jacket and is followed by a shot of an industrial fan in an unnamed location. It is also likely that some of the footage of veiled people cleaning blood off of walls were also from this scene."


Spooky Japanese trailer which I absolutely love...

Wednesday, August 17

Mr. Vampire Saga 4 (Jiang shi shu shu) (1988) - 1988 Golden Harvest Ltd./Rainbow Audio VHS

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The hunt is on for Part 2 with Part 1 and Part 3 snagged, I want Tropical Skittles looking at this cover!


Tuesday, August 16

A word to the VHS-wise...

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This should be fairly obvious, but it's always good to keep your VCR's remote handy while watching a tape. If you ever hear an odd "metallic" grinding while playing a cassette, usually accompanied with picture disturbances, hit STOP and eject the thing immediately. A "fixed" eaten tape is usually the culprit and the slack and crinkles from such damage can chip or snap off a VCR's very delicate video heads. If either happens, you'll be looking for a replacement deck.

This can occur with both dirty old ex-rentals and pristine tapes--basically any previously opened VHS (that you didn't personally unseal). If you find a damaged tape and still want to keep it, it's best to label it somehow for future reference. If you still want to watch it, I'd only recommend so if you have a VCR that can fast forward without queuing the tape up against the spinning drum to move beyond the ruined section. Below is a mint looking copy of MEDIA's Death Wish 4 that played with a champ until about an hour in. Thankfully no harm came from this one.


Monday, August 15

Motel Hell (1980) - 1983 Warner Home Video Japan VHS

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In spite of being widely seen and appreciated by horror fans, Kevin Connor's Motel Hell still feels like an underdog in terms of recognition. It's arguably the first example of the modern horror comedy in the post-Texas Chainsaw era. Unlike nearly all attempts prior, this yarn detailing the latest sensation in human tulips and tasty smoked jerky never lacks trust in the viewer to assume its both a horror film and a comedy.

The beginning of a beautiful period in the genre where audiences seemed more accepting; and perhaps smarter, to appropriately laugh along with the shocks. Conner's film is a classic because this balance is so even it can be enjoyed firmly "planted" either way depending on an individual's own perceptions. It feels no need to scream out its absurdity, but it's there in plain view for those looking. Conversely there's enough horror, including nods to the aforementioned 1974 Massacre, to take purely as two cannibalistic maniacs in a bizarre love triangle with sliced vocal chords, buzzing chainsaws, severed hog's head masks galore.

Aside from a few fleeting examples, self-proclaimed horror comedies like Motel Hell are back to being box office poison. Probably from a combination of idiotic parodies like the Scary Movie series and the artificial "gritty seriousness" bull ushered in by Jigsaw muddying the waters. Like the time I saw Slither theatrically and after about a half an hour a guy behind me said "So it's supposed to be funny?!" like he just swallowed a sliced lemon. Sad, but meat is meat, and a man's gotta eat!


Sunday, August 14

Saturday, August 13

The Making of Missing in Action 2: The Beginning - 1986 Interglobal Video VHS

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Possessing the DIY video transfer know-how of a two-week-old rotting chimp, I can't do the smart thing and throw this up on YouTube. So instead I figured I could at least detail the contents of this rare making-of cassette from Interglobal (bearing Vidmark Entertainment's logo on tape) especially with every DVD only having the trailer.

This video is basically a fluffy twenty minute featurette designed to show the film in an ever-idyllic light with almost robotic narration. There's no real meat and this sequel, or even the first or third, aren't exactly features screaming for a peek behind-the-scenes. As such zero mention is made of this sequel originally intended to the first in the series with producers realizing the shot back-to-back "sequel", or Missing in Action, was superior and opting to release it first.

Expect your usual topical spiel about the plot, production, fight sequences, and pyro effects with tiny interview snippets with Norris, director Lance Hool, and vet effects supervisor Dick Parker mixed with scenes from the movie and on-set footage. Still, it's not poorly put together and might be of interest to fans of the MIAs or 'Nam-themed actioners despite the lack of trivia. Certainly seemed ripe to throw on the DVD release...
  • The film was shot on Mount Misery (Mount Liamuiga) on the island of Saint Kitts in the West Indies.
  • It took two months to prep the sets with local labor with a new road built to the film's encampments.
  • The Asian soldiers and extras were flown in from North Carolina(?!?)
  • According to Chuck, karate was the premiere cinematic fighting style of the '80s. No argument there.
  • Despite Norris stating much research was done in capturing accurate torture methods and reflecting on his brother lost in Vietnam, you can tell he struggles to find much to say about the movie, "...because if the bad guy wins...then you...ermmm...lose the movie..."
  • Director Hool pronounces Maalox as "Mel-licks" (huh?) 
(would have been badass if this was actually "THE MAKING OF CHUCK NORRIS")

Friday, August 12

Phoenix, the Raider (1985) - 1986 Madera Cinevideo VHS

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Here's what looks like an impossibly obscure North American video of Hong Kong crap released by a distributor that seems that have otherwise specialized in Mexican fare for Latino audiences. I found this tape way out, about a hundred miles away, on a day trip into Pennsylvania today. Most interesting outta the bunch.

Unfortunately the cover has seen better days with the biggest issue being moisture from rain warping and getting in-between the plastic sleeve and paper cover. Once such dampness settles in, it's nearly impossible to ever remove or even move the cover from case without considerable damage since paper chunks easily rip off and stick to the case. I was lucky to basically mutilate the case around the sleeve to remove it with minimal tearing. Eh, the damage adds to the grindhouse aesthetic!                

 

Wednesday, August 10

Pesadilla Mortal (Sorority House Massacre) (1986) - 1987 Warner Home Video VHS

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I had no idea Warner released this slasher, let alone a bilingual version subtitled in Spanish!


Tuesday, August 9

Possible Explanations Behind Last Night's DEMON QUEEN Insanity...

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  • Rob Zombie needed it for his walk-in closet horror VHS collection.
  • Director Donald Farmer made a pact with Satan and obtaining an original VHS copy was the only way to break the unholy bond.
  • Despite being the "one", there was a contract stipulation stating The Highlander needed it to finally earn "the prize".
  • It was confused with Marilyn Monroe's sex tape. (actually, scratch that)
  • Michael Bay needed one to blow up in the upcoming Bad Boys III: Shit Just Got Real.
  • The "stars" of this abomination are out to destroy all known copies by any means necessary.
  • Those damned lucky sperm hipsters...
  • Fuckin' magnets...
  • Vinz Clortho required it for The Coming of The Destructor.
  • Demon Queen was a massive hit in the alternate dimension of shadow people, so the forces beyond mystically hijacked Donald Trump's eBay account to acquire a copy.
  • Someone took the whole "Watch Horror Movies, Keep America Strong!" mantra a bit too literally...
  • *BoGD EXCLUSIVE*: Peter Jackson bought it to study for his 2013 remake!

Monday, August 8

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) - MEDIA Home Entertainment VHS

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Found this "common" original '87 MEDIA in very uncommon condition over the weekend...


Sunday, August 7

The Untold Story (Eight Immortals Restaurant of Flesh Buns) (1993) - 1997 Albatros Japan VHS

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I only grabbed this completely non-English friendly VHS out of my questionable love for this totally off-the-hinges Category III exaggeration of Wong Chi-hang's horrific Macau restauranteur killing spree in 1985. The cherry on top is Anthony Wong deservingly winning Hong Kong's Best Actor Oscar equivalent for his chillingly believable performance as the disturbed killer.

Now Wong's a top veteran in his industry and is so audience friendly that he appears in television commercials. Crazy and something that simply wouldn't happen in Hollywood. It would be like a young Brad Pitt winning Best Actor by depicting an acid-wielding Dahmer drilling holes into the heads of his victims in nauseating close-up only to have the same high status today.

Saturday, August 6

The trifecta is complete, now go forth and mutilate...

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Finally, Sideshow's Classic Elm Street Freddy and F13 Part 3 Jason 12" figures were found after years of only having their Leatherface. Sideshow has released a plethora of figures from these franchises but these three sorta belong together as each has "also available" pictures of the other two on their backs. Maybe these are the first figures Sideshow released of these icons? With horror toys, I only collect what I like which is almost exclusively 18" figures, so I can't tell ya anything about the history behind these. Also picked up this morning was NECA's 18" New Blood Jason new in-box like the Sideshows!

...and a big thanks for 200k hits!

Friday, August 5

Some quick thoughts on Stake Land (2010) on Blu-ray

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From the back: America has fallen. A vampiric scourge sweeps the nation, turning brother on brother and parent on child as the blood-hungry beasts take deeper and deeper hold upon the land. It's hard for the survivors to know whether to be more afraid of the creatures themselves or the violent religious groups that have sprung up in response, but there is clearly only one choice: fight or die.

That virginal synopsis is the best way to enter Stake Land as did I last night. But just for a little more fill-in, the nation has indeed been overthrown from within by an unexplained plague that has turned millions into raging, bloodthirsty lunatics by night. Top figureheads have abandoned their offices, dangerous religious sects have blanketed rural areas, and most everyone that hasn't grown fangs is trying to head north to a place dubbed "New Eden" for its anti-vamp cold climate. We're tagging along through the narrative of a teenager named Martin (Connor Paolo) and his battle-hardened caretaker Mister (Nick Damici) as the pair encounter threats from both the living and undead.

In short, this is what George A. Romero's wishy-washy 2005 return, Land of the Dead, should have been (minus the fangs, of course). A well-measured, pensive study of an America with its society in shambles where discovering a trashed motorhome in the woods miles away from anything can provide immeasurable solace. A post-apocalyptic film with enough confidence and seriousness to make you believe in its continually retrograde world through more tell than show. Okay, so maybe I'm also describing Romero's prime work along with Stake Land, but you get my drift.

Everything and more that made director Jim Mickle and writer Nick Damici's prior Mulberry Street (thoughts here) so refreshing is in full bloom in what could be called the pair's first genre heavy-hitter. There aren't any trite one-liners, overly familiar faces in bit parts merely because they were in other horror flicks, or annoying self-referential mentality to be found. Earthy performances stalked by an elegant, minimal score by Jeff Grace (House of the Devil) and great grisly vampfreak make-up with CG over-reliance kept in check. It's what many have been waiting for in the tired, "proper" vampire subgenre...

As for rough patches, not wanting to go into spoiler territory, there is a pivotal battle late in Stake Land that gets too hokey and somehow feels wrongly reminiscent of del Toro's Blade 2. Still, it's small bump in a promising answer to those, like myself, who constantly bemoan modern horror for too often devolving into self parody and laziness. It's horror that wants to earn your respect first instead of automatically expecting it. That's enough right there to garner high recommendation. A sequel is clearly set-up and hopefully we'll eventually see one.

Dark Sky Films is only getting better with their Blu-ray output. The 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC-encoded 2.39:1 widescreen transfer is excellent. Stake Land was shot in 4K using the RED camera system, and despite the high resolution, sometimes the result can look rather muddy and flat on Blu-ray (Skyline for example). There is a smoothness to the presentation, but it never looks off-putting even with obvious color grading in post-production. Again like other Dark Sky BDs, the back only bears a Dolby 5.1 logo while the disc instead features fantastic lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 and PCM Stereo audio tracks. I'm not a supplement hound so I yet haven't checked out the two commentaries, hour long making-of by Eric Stanze, video production diaries, and seven short film prequels from an assortment of filmmakers (available on Glass Eye Pix's YouTube channel).
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Thursday, August 4

Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986) - 1987 Daiei Video Japan VHS

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Gary Sherman's Wanted: Dead or Alive is such an exemplary example of formulaic '80s action that's hard to see how some manage to loathe it. Solid blond Dutchman Rutger Hauer is a hard boiled bounty hunter with one of the most badass bachelor pads in action film history tasked by his sole police contact to hunt down a cunning Islamic terrorist, played by A&E television personality Gene Simmons, hellbent on waging homeland jihad who's already blown up a packed showing of Rambo: First Blood Part 2. Son of a bitch must pay.

There's welcome shades of the '70s Italian crime film aesthetic in this Rutger Hauer vehicle. Hauer spends most of his time not engaging his intended target, but beating back the adversity of corruption of those supposedly on his side. This game of being dogged and used as bait by authorities inevitably leads to loved ones coming into grave danger. In the end, our hero gets his bounty; in one unforgettable scene, but only at tremendous personal loss in a bit of poignancy as the credits roll. I guess that's Wanted: DOA's biggest issue, Sherman (Raw Meat, Poltergeist III) packs in so much enjoyable cliché at such a swift pace that it's best not to think too hard about the details.

It's funny to see those that gave it the lowest ratings at the IMDB criticize it for being a swipe aganist an unrelated Steve McQueen television series or KISS fans who fail to realize their God of Thunder's performance is better than anything the band did in the decade. These people need pull their heads out of their asses or am I going to have to get Rutger to throw you in a locker and start blasting holes until you agree?

Wednesday, August 3

The most awesome looking thing I've never heard of until now...at this moment...

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...how in the world have I had zero knowledge of this before today!?!

Mr. Vampire 3 (Ling huan xian sheng) (1987) - 1988 Golden Harvest Ltd./Rainbow Audio VHS

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Now I've gone and done it. After finding the Golden Harvest/Rainbow Audio VHS of Mr. Vampire (seen here), and just now running across Part 3, I must find the rest of the series from the company/distributor pairing. I'm assuming the second sequel also saw a GH/RA video, but does anyone know the status of fourth film and Mr. Vampire 1992 on Chinese VHS? Curiously this tape arrived in a Japanese-style "rounded spine" rental clam while Part 1 is in a run-of-the-mill case.

Tuesday, August 2

UPDATE: Dear VHS Wasteland...

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Okay guys, I got in contact with James, the head of VHS Wasteland, and we got things straightened out peacefully. We agreed to keep the covers from BoGD on Wasteland as long as this blog is credited for them. In a gesture of good faith, I've put up a permanent link to his blog as did he for this blog. So go ahead and shift through their huge and awesome tape cover archive. Everything is cool.

I'm well aware VHS Wasteland has many contributing members, the scans on this blog aren't watermarked, and many appear in VHS-related Google Image searches. However, it's unfortunate and disheartening to see an abundance of cover scans directly taken from Basement of Ghoulish Decadence while digging through your daily archives without any credit or blessing.

Understand that I don't make any money from this blog whatsoever. The domain name and image bandwidth are expenses out-of-pocket. I have zero intention of adding any ads or merchandise to help assist. Shit, I've only gotten a grand total of two glorious screener review requests in the entire lifespan of BoGD, so I don't even get that usual horror/cult flick blogger perk of free crap. On more than one occasion I've asked myself why I even continue marching along with this blog.

The scans you see here are from an old, half-broken HP scanner/printer and the images cropped, resized, and color corrected on the super esoteric programs little known as "MS Paint" and "IrfanView" freeware. Nearly all of them are from my collection and any that aren't are cited with their source. I'd hate to start plastering this blog's address all over these covers. Taking and reposting them without proper credit seems to negate the whole communal feeling this ever-growing online tape collecting trend has. Or at least I thought it had...

So please, either tell your contributors to either provide a given scan's online source if applicable or do the legwork involved in scanning and prepping covers from their own collections. Where's the fun and passion in essentially stealing the life's blood of your blog from someone else? Or are you just hoping to pawn off a few logo t-shirts?

I'm probably talking to a brick wall,

Jayson K.
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...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
Basement of Ghoulish Decadence, Basement of Ghoulish Archive, and all original material Copyright © 2009-present by Jayson Kennedy. All rights reserved.