Director Colin Eggleston, more known for the police dramas he made for Crawford Productions, teamed up with legendary American-born screenwriter Everett De Roche, known for his entries into the horror and thriller genres such as ROAD GAMES, RAZORBACK, HARLEQUIN, and PATRICK to create (more…)
The story taking place in medieval Europe about Countess Elisabeth Nadasdy, better known to horror fans and the rest of the world as Countess Bathory, focuses on the aging Countess and her lover Captain Dobi (played by character actor Nigel Green) as they start killing off young and beautiful virgins so she can bathe in their blood. The old and decrepit looking Countess, played by the vivacious and voluptuous Ingrid Pitt with lots of (more…)
Dolph Lundgren is blowing shit up in Joseph Zito’s explosive RED SCORPION, now on Blu-ray and DVD from Synapse Films!
International built-as-hell action star Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables, Rocky IV) is Lt. Nikolai Rachenko, a Soviet Special Forces “killing machine,” assigned to infiltrate an African rebel uprising and assassinate their anti-Communist leader. Taken into custody and tortured after the mission fails, he stages a harrowing prison escape. Befriended by an African bushman while on the run, Nikolai discovers he was fighting on the wrong side of this violent conflict all along. Nikolai finds the rebel army once more but, this time, he’s on their side and wages bloody war against his former comrades!
This action-packed controversial cult classic is now available from Synapse Films in a brand-new 2K high-definition transfer of the uncensored version, containing footage never before seen in the U.S. Featuring amazing performances from Dolph Lundgren, M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner, Blood Simple) and the late Brion James (Blade Runner, Southern Comfort), RED SCORPION contains bloody, blasting special effects from (more…)
One of my all-time favorite Japanese horror films is Nakata’s RINGU (1998), a film I first picked up while at a comicbook convention when I was in my early 20’s. It was my introduction to Japanese horror films and had it been any other horror film I may not have gotten so into J-Horror and just stuck to anime. The film GUROZUKA had elements of RINGU in it, as well as many American slasher films from the ‘80s and even more current ones such as SCREAM (which really pays homage to slasher films like HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th).
GUROZUKA starts off (more…)
THE ULTIMATE NEW YORK GROOVE!
42ND STREET FOREVER
Filth, sleaze, bimbos, and bloody revenge—the way you like it!
A pimpadelic wonderland in your own home!
Bring home more 42nd Street EXPLOITATION AND SLEAZE! The latest installment of 42ND STREET FOREVER is here! Swinging girls, samurais and serial killers, ninjas and nunchuks, crashing cars and burning men, aliens with teeth, and girls, girls, GIRLS! Now remastered in 1080p high definition!
Sad to say, being a huge fan of horror films, and just films in general, I was filled with shame when I heard that Synapse Films was releasing a new high-def transfer of director William Lustig’s (MANIAC, VIGILANTE) ‘80s cult classic MANIAC COP, a horror film about a cop going on a maniacal rampage through New York City killing innocent civilians with no rhyme or reason for doing so. With a story written and produced by Larry Cohen (director of THE STUFF and IT’S ALIVE), I have to wonder why a film whose title and cover artwork I was SO familiar with took so long for me to finally view. On a positive note, I got to see the finest print of the film in glorious high-def on Blu-ray, along with plenty of extra features and a newly remixed DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound.
A film with a tagline such as, “You have the right to remain silent…forever!”, is right up my alley. The film just screams out: Glorious cheesy ‘80s fair with plenty of memorable one-liners in the dialogue! Not to mention, lets take a look at the cast members within the film. Bruce Campbell (THE EVIL DEAD trilogy) plays a young, New York cop, Jack Forrest, who is cheating on his wife with a fellow cop. Tom Atkins (HALLOWEEN III:SEASON OF THE WITCH, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) portrays Lt. Frank McCrae (when the hell is Atkins NOT portraying an awesome cop in a nominally to low-budgeted film generally in the genre of horror), whom has made it his personal crusade to get down to the bottom of these senseless slaughters before more innocent citizens and fellow brothers-in-blue get shot or killed from paranoid and scared New Yorkers whom have been told by the press better watch out if they see a uniformed officer for it may be the maniac cop in disguise looking for another victim.
The most redeeming qualities surrounding this film are the performances by Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins. Both played their parts to a tee, neither over-acting or laying on the cheese thicker than warranted, making the viewing of a pretty simple and standard slasher film (I consider it a slasher film since the victims are randomly being slashed and diced up) even though as the film progresses viewers get a bit more of a storyline and a semi-plausible reason for why the maniac cop is going around killing anyone that crosses his path. I have to say that I really enjoy watching Atkins in anything he is in, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS being my favorite so far. The man just always looks and plays a perfect cop. He is one of those guys that just have a “cop look”. No matter what other movie I see him in, I will always think of him as a cop.
As for Bruce Campbell, his performance in MANIAC COP is a handful of years after he made his name in with horror fans with THE EVIL DEAD in ’81 and its “sequel” in ’87, nestled right before Campbell went on to make INTRUDER the following year. Interestingly enough, the film has that New York look and feel, even though I swear that I can see some palm trees off in the distance on some shots. The movie was filmed in sunny Los Angeles, CA, only, of which 3 days were filmed in New York City, NY.
The film’s plot revolves around an Officer Matt Cordell (Robert Z’Dar) a cop who is known for pushing the limits of police brutality to its max when taking down offenders. He is considered a “super-cop” of sorts and is responsible for making a multitude of busts, locking up plenty of bad guys, but one day he goes too far roughing up a scumbag and the powers that be lock him up for doing after he is put on trial. While in prison, as one can imagine, his life is in danger being locked up with all the bad guys Cordell locked up when on the streets and he is brutally murdered while taking a shower one day in prison, or so viewers think! The shower fight scene is pretty good because Z’Dar is a pretty big dude and he probably would do well portraying a convict in films in his 100+ movies that he has been in over the course of his career. The Chicago-born actor may not be the prettiest looking guy, but he sure was fit to play a mean son-of-a-bitch back in his day!
After Lt. McCrae finds out that the maniac cop is a member of the NYC police force, he has a better grip on how to find him, his motives, and take him out. Taking this bastard out is easier said than done, though. I mean, the guy gets shot at point-blank range a multitude of times and shows no slowing down. Think of Michael Meyers or Jason Voorhees wearing a badge. As the cop and the stiletto-fashioned nightstick he uses to dispatch his victims slaughter more and more cops, as well as innocent folks- I am enjoying the film more and more. My only concern is that I felt that Lustig could have thrown in quite a bit more gore. Granted, the shower scene in which Z’Dar gets sliced up real bad, mostly on his face, looked awesome. The camera did not cut away from most of the stabs and slicing, making for a pretty gruesomely shot slasher scene. I can always enjoy more gore and blood in a film that is primarily built upon gore and blood. It is a slasher film about a maniac cop. I expect there to be an onslaught of violence and wanton bloodshed-anything less than that would be utter disappointment. There is just enough to satiate my appetite and meet the criteria I invoke upon myself when watching a violent horror film whose subject matter is a crazy cop killing innocents in a vengeful murder spree.
Frankly, I was hoping that Lustig would incorporate a gory head explosion like in MANIAC when Tom Savini got his head blown off. Aside from SCANNERS and DAWN OF THE DEAD, the head explosion executed by shotgun in MANIAC by Joe Spinell is one of the most memorable brain blasts that I have ever seen in a film. I always love a good cranial destructor scene!
Aside from Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, and Robert Z’Dar (regulars in horror films), look out for some other well-known actors and faces in the film in some cameos and brief appearances. Sam Raimi, whom also filmed the St. Patrick’s Day parade scene before production began to show investors to secure some of the money to complete the film also has a cameo as a reporter. Jake LaMotta (famous boxer of which Scorsese’s RAGING BULL is based upon his life) has a cameo as a detective, as well as director William Lustig as a motel manager (one of the earlier scenes in the film), and Richard Roundtree (SHAFT) as Commissioner Pike. The coroner (Barry Brenner) was Lustig’s real-life doctor (his performance stunk and was noticeably awful!) and Jill Gatsby is Larry Cohen’s daughter and is killed in every one of his movies that she is in (how very morbid!).
In the end, I am happy to have finally viewed a cult classic that horror fans far and close revere as a must-see and classic slasher film, one of which has quite a few heavy hitters in the film industry in relation to the horror genre, of which I enjoyed. The funny one-liners, semi-witty and, at times, absurd lines of dialogue delivered by Atkins and Campbell make the film an enjoyable romp through the eighties where films merged comedy and violence (sometimes unintentionally) as if they were two peas in a pod.
I enjoyed MANIAC COP. I see where the film gets its cult appeal and I enjoyed the performances by Atkins and Campbell most, giving the movie’s body count of 19 and lack of more gore and violence a pass in my critique of the film. I am relieved to have finally seen this film, on Blu-ray no less, and with an abundance of extra features. The extras features on the Blu-ray include an interview with Robert Z’Dar, Tom Atkins, and a three-minute featurette with Danny Hicks. Also included is a motion still gallery, additional scenes filmed for the Japanese television version (add much more backstory and plot to the film involving the mayor), and trailers and tv spots (the Spanish tv spot is hilarious…well, because I don’t know Spanish and my Hispanic girlfriend was cracking up during it!)
Synapse Films are putting out a plethora of great ‘80s horror films restored on Blu-ray and dvd, of which many have either had shoddy releases on home video or just have been generally neglected. Don May, Jr., owner and operator of Synapse, is doing horror fans an incredible service and has been selecting some incredible choices to add to the Synapse Film catalog. SHU-IZMZ really looks forward to each and every release coming out!
INTRUDER work print?!?!?
ROMULUS, MI – November 8, 2011 – Synapse Films announces an ultraexclusive Special Edition INTRUDER Workprint “NIGHT CREW” DVD-R disc to the first 500 fans who purchase the INTRUDER Blu-ray/DVD Combo directly from www.synapse-films.com. This Special Edition disc is an individually burned DVD-R (not manufactured at a pressing plant) of the original workprint of INTRUDER (aka NIGHT CREW), containing additional scenes, different editing, and extended gore sequences that only appear in this singular edition. Presented in its original workprint state—non-anamorphic and with no final music or sound effects mix—and taken from the director’s sole personal VHS copy, you can even hear director Scott Spiegel giving off-camera direction to the actors in some scenes.
“We want to give fans of the film something unique to relive the days when the only way to see the original uncut version of INTRUDER was through grey-market videocassettes, so each disc will be individually burned for the customer, with a handwritten label and individually numbered from one to five hundred,” says Don May, Jr., President of Synapse Films. “Anyone who has already pre-ordered Synapse’s INTRUDER Blu-ray/DVD Combo will have the DVD-R shipped to them along with their order. Once the 500 DVD-R discs are gone… they are gone.”
If you’re a fan of this film, you owe it to yourself to head over to synapse-films.com and secure your own copy of INTRUDER along with this extremely limited ultraexclusive special edition DVD-R.
Upon completion of J.L. Vara’s “comedy-crime” feature that was an Official Selection at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, the Fantastic Fest, and Cinevegas of 2008, I had no idea whatsoever to say about the film and its bizarre style, set designs, and off-beat performances but that I was pretty sure I really enjoyed the film. I kind of had the same feeling and thoughts in my head after having completed a David Lynch film, but one that pays homage to so many other films of past (possibly a Coen Bros. film with how the film was shot?): I am not sure I grasped or understood exactly what each scene was about or its purpose in the film the first time aound-but the scenes were shot elegantly, beautifully, and with a very distinct style all of its own. The film was classified in my head as somewhat of an art film, which told a simple yet complex story of revenge. I feel that the complexity of the film was due to the fact that scenes were not fully explained as the plot began to unfold. If one is distracted and either glances away from the screen or drifts off and loses focus while watching SOUTH OF HEAVEN, one may suddenly stop and roar,
“What the fuck is going on? I didn’t pay attention for a minute or two and now the current scene is making absolutely zero sense!”
Suffice to say, that was my reaction when my A.D.D. tendencies took over and I started to look up some facts about the movie and its director on IMDb. This is a film whose beauty will be lost, as well as crucial plot points if one’s brains start to think of other ideas and thoughts. Yes, the aforementioned reaction is what happened to me, forcing me to rewind a bit and direct all of my attention to the film.
When it all comes down to it, SOUTH OF HEAVEN is a movie about a psycho. Mad Dog Mantee (Shea Whigham) who kidnaps a girl, Becky (whom we never actually see), who is Mr. Bobo’s daughter, with Dale Coop (Aaron Nee). Dale’s brother, Roy (Adam Nee), has been away at sea while in the Navy and just got a letter from Dale telling him that he ran into a great amount of luck and to hurry up and write his million-dollar story so the two brothers can be rich and live a lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous. That scenario is just about the brightest portion and sequence of the whole film and viewers learn all of this via a cute animated cartoonish intro reminiscent of cartoonist Tex Avery and his style. In fact, the cartoon intro really sets the tone for the rest of the film because it really does have a cartoonish look and feel to it, coupled with a film noir look.
Then enter the two cartoon-character tough-guys, portrayed by Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) and Thomas Jay Ryan (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), who believe that Roy is his brother Dale and the two believe Roy to have kidnapped a certain Becky Barnes. They then proceed to beat the living hell out of him (most of which is artfully filmed with a bit of class, cutting away from the violence and showing the beatdown through shadows given off from the lighting. I thought the manner in which cinematographer Darren Genet shot this scene, as well as many of the others was magnificent. At times, because of the simple set designs and lack of outdoor shots (ANY) and all of the filming done on sets, it had the look of an elaborate stage play. I mean that in a good way, though.
The film bounces back and forth between Roy getting his ass kicked by two very well-spoken and very classy dressed tough guys. When Roy is not getting his ass kicked, a sexy yet mysterious brunette who just happens to show up and cater to his needs and wants (like sleeping with him). Since Dale left his brother a type-writer, the aspiring writer can work on his million dollar novel. The story tends to just show how messed up Mad Dog Mantee (Whigham) is, through acts of sadism and rape towards the women they encounter and kidnap. Oh, I might add that Mantee generally slaughters everyone they come in contact with except the women he decides to keep around as his “pets” and sexual “playthings”.
As Roy gets his face beaten in by punches and kicks, his fingers chopped off one-by-one (as were Becky’s fingers so they could be mailed to Mr. Bobo for their ransom plot), and even having his face burnt to a crisp, one gets a feeling, or at least hopes, that an act of revenge will be inflicted at some point in this film’s bleak portrayal of mistaken identity. One brother’s bad decision making and choice of friends is causing the other brother an insurmountable amount of grief, aggravation, and ultimately— great amounts of pain.
If the arty shots, unique and colorful set designs (some with just a painted backdrop), and well-executed performances were not enough to win viewers over, then the original music by Russ Howard III (Hobo with a Shotgun) sure will. I was thoroughly won over by the riveting soundtrack, with its use of violins, pianos, and other elegant instruments. The music added a certain amount of class and elegance to the whole affair.
When the mysterious and beautiful chesty, brunette Veronica shows up (portrayed by Elina Lowensohn of Schindler’s List fame) with her very thick accent and very European looks. She comes and goes, always there right before Roy gets his ass kicked, or immediately following it within a few hours. I found it odd that she just shows up and Roy does not really question why she is there and accepts her weak explanation, but maybe because she is mothering him, pampering him, and screwing him he just does not give a shit.
We learn that Veronica knows alot more about what is going on and the plot gets even thicker, and the pieces start falling into place. At the root of the story, it is a movie about a kidnapping and ransom. It just is a little bit more bizarre than most films about this subject matter. At one point in the movie, there is even a cameo from wrestling great George “The Animal” Steele, as the Manton. The movie takes a turn for the better when the victim of the film starts to taking charge of the situation, giving an almost super-hero quality to his once-spineless character. This part of the film was what one me over, as well as the level of violence and the overall strange tone and pacing of the film. The film is worth a watch either way, and how could one not have their interest piqued by a film with the title SOUTH OF HEAVEN, the title coming from a small town in Texas.
This is J.L. Vara’s (or Jonathan Vara’s) first full-length feature, and aside from a few short films (which are also included on the Synapse release of SOUTH OF HEAVEN), I believe he did a very fine job. SOUTH OF HEAVEN captures the violence and grittiness of an unconventional Western of sorts with very unique characters and a certain level of mystery shrouding each. The reason the characters in the film work so well is his choice of actors and actresses. There are so many deep, dialogue-driven scenes between characters, such as Jay Whigham’s who really gives a standout performance, as well as Elina Lowensohn. I think I really loved Lowensohn’s heavy accent and choice of wardrobe (Unfortunately the film contains only a brief scene nudity (including full frontal nudity and bush!) and it is not Lowensohn because she would be a fine addition to the nude scene!)
As well as The Short Films of J.L. Vara: Miserable Orphan, Azole Dkmuntch, and A Boy and his Fetus, there are also three audio commentary tracks featuring director Vara, star Shea Whigham (Splinter, Blood Creek) and other cast/crew, and a critic’s commentary featuring Todd Brown (Twitchfilm.com), Scott Weinberg (Rottentomatoes.com), and Devin Faraci CHUD.com). The commentary is extremely informative, sheds great amounts of light as to why the fimmakers filmed certain scenes in a certain way, as well as explaining what certain scenes meant. There was a lot of effort and focus directed to the whole look of the film, with its very solid and distinct colors, as well as the cool costumes worn by cast members. Although I did notice how the three of them referred to actress Elina Lowensohn (who portrays Veronica) as actress Lena Hill (who plays Lulu), but it may be due to the fact that Lowensohn has a nice rack on her and she shows plenty of cleavage with the dress she is wearing. Apparently their notes were incorrect.
I feel that SOUTH OF HEAVEN will get better with each and every viewing, a film that may be overlooked for its genius and ingenuity. In its essence, South of Heaven is a crime drama with a great deal of artistic thought put into it that has a wonderful soundtrack, superb casting and cinematography, and a bizarre style all its own. Just don’t be distracted as I was the first time and pay attention to all the lovely details that were thrown into the film—they give the movie its charm.
SYNAPSE FILMS PRESENTS
THIS CHRISTMAS, SYNAPSE FILMS HAS THE
Scott Spiegel’s infamous gore classic finally hits the aisles with a splatterific new HD Blu-ray transfer!
From Lawrence Bender, the producer of
Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION
and RESERVOIR DOGS, and the classic FROM DUSK TILL DAWN!
Scott Spiegel’s INTRUDER presented uncut for the first time in beautiful high-definition in a DVD/Blu-ray combo!
It’s 10 pm and the employees of Michigan’s Walnut Lake Supermarket are in for a really bad night. The place is shutting its doors for good, and the night crew has a long shift ahead of them… longer than they think! The lovely check-out girl has a deranged ex-boyfriend, the store’s phone lines are cut and the employees start dying in the most stomach-churning ways imaginable (courtesy of Academy Award®-winning KNB EFX Group). A deranged killer is on the loose in the grocery store! Can anyone stop this murderous intruder?
Synapse Films is proud to present Scott Spiegel’s INTRUDER, the “holy grail” of extreme gore cinema, in an all-new 2K high-definition transfer of the original uncut, uncensored version. Sam Raimi (director of THE EVIL DEAD and SPIDER-MAN trilogies) and Renée Estevez (TV’s THE WEST WING) star in this blood-drenched cult film classic that critics call “a gorgeous low-budget shocker that has long been one of the best kept secrets of the genre scene” (Alan Simpson, Sex Gore Mutants). Be sure to look for Bruce Campbell (THE EVIL DEAD, TV’s BURN NOTICE) in a cameo role.
Special Features and Disc Info:
Audio Commentary with Director Scott Spiegel and
Producer Lawrence Bender
“Slashed Prices: “The Making of INTRUDER” featurette, including interviews with Spiegel, Bender, the KNB EFX team, actors Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Elizabeth Cox, Danny Hicks and others
Never-before-seen extended murder sequences from the original workprint
Outtakes from NIGHT CREW short film
Interview featurette with filmmaker/fan Vincent Pereira on INTRUDER
and GOREZONE magazine
Cast Audition Tapes
Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery
Original Theatrical Trailer
Director: Scott Spiegel
Starring: Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Elizabeth Cox, Danny Hicks
Run Time: 88 minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Aspect Ratio: 1:78:1
Format: DVD/Blu-ray Combo
Price: $29.95SOURCE: SYNAPSE FILMS
SYNAPSE FILMS Rewards Fantastic Fest Favorite
ADRIAN GARCIA BOGLIANO with Triple-Crown
Feature Film Pickup
Interestingly enough, I was just reading up on Bogliano after I saw the trailer for COLD SWEAT (SUDOR FRIO) as I have started to look for really cool foreign films to review over here at SHU-IZMZ. I see that SYNAPSE FILMS is doing the same and making it easier for fans of horror films from all over the world to see new flicks on Dvd and Blu-ray. This is both great, and exciting news, for fans of foreign horror films. If you, like me, are sick of remakes and numerous sequels, it seems that checking out films from other countries is a way to add some variety and new blood to your viewing pleasures. I will be looking forward to viewing these three films when they come out. I am also in the process of getting screeners for COLD SWEAT and PENUMBRA. Hopefully my efforts will pan out.
ROMULUS, MI – September 28, 2011 – Synapse Films has snared rights to three terrifying feature films by celebrated Fantastic Fest and SXSW filmmaker Adrián García Bogliano, the Argentine director of festival favorite COLD SWEAT and the upcoming PENUMBRA, grabbed by IFC Midnight on the eve of the film’s Fantastic Fest world premiere.
In ROOMS FOR TOURISTS a busload of girls fall prey to a town of terror… what connects the victims? The young filmmaker of WATCH’EM DIE takes a job that leads to horror. Four young girls stop to help a woman in the street and it leads to rape horror and death in the breath-stopping I WILL NOT DIE ALONE.
“I am a huge fan of Adrian’s films and have seen every single one. I feel that he may be the most talented new filmmaker I have come across,” enthuses Synapse head Jerry Chandler. “He is a master of making the most of miniscule budgets and his attention to detail is unmatched. I was hooked when I first saw ROOMS FOR TOURISTS—the atmospheric dread is palpable early on. I WILL NOT DIE ALONE is somewhat similar to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, only it’s a great movie! And WATCH’EM DIE is much more fun to watch than Hostel or its myriad imitations.”
Synapse Films exec Jerry Chandler negotiated the deal with the filmmaker.
SOURCE: Synapse Films
So folks, Synapse Films is releasing FRANKENHOOKER out on Blu-ray disc November 8th of this year. I really enjoyed this film and own the dvd version of the film. James Lorinz is great in it, but I am anxious to view the special features on the brd (blu-ray disc) and to see the movie in high-def! The more movies out on Blu-ray, the better. Be on the lookout for a review of FRANKENHOOKER in the not-to0-distant future. Here are the specs for new edition of the film:
SRP: 24.95 UPC#: 654930313497
Run Time: 85 Minutes English language Color
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.78:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround
Production year: 1990
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Stars: James Lorinz, Patty Mullen, Louise Lasser, Jennifer Delora
From Frank Henenlotter, the creator of the BASKET CASE trilogy and BRAIN DAMAGE, comes FRANKENHOOKER, a gory horror-comedy twist on the Frankenstein legend. When Jeffrey Franken’s fiancee is chopped to pieces by the blades of a remote-controlled lawnmower, he uses his dubious medical knowledge to try to bring her back to life. He reassembles his beloved Elizabeth using the body parts of New York City’s finest prostitutes, and resurrects her during a heavy lightning storm. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, his dear Elizabeth’s brain is scrambled and she runs amok on 42nd Street, turning tricks and bringing high-voltage death to her customers! Synapse Films is proud to present the uncut version of FRANKENHOOKER in an all-new 2K high-definition transfer created from original vault materials and digitally re-mastered 5.1 surround sound!
Bonus Features: Audio Commentary with Director Frank Henenlotter and Make-Up Effects Designer Gabe Bartalos, “A Salad That Was Once Named Elizabeth” – Patty Mullen Featurette, “A Stitch in Time: The Make-Up Effects of FRANKENHOOKER” – Featurette, “Turning Tricks: Jennifer Delora Remembers FRANKENHOOKER“- Featurette, Jennifer Delora’s FRANKENHOOKER PHOTO SCRAPBOOK, Theatrical Trailer
Everyone that knows me has come to the conclusion that I am a huge fan of revenge flicks and vigilante films. There are so many instances of injustice, wrongs, and people getting the short end of the stick in life-whether it is getting screwed over in court by the justice system, or a criminal that has engaged in criminal activity against one and gets off Scott-free because of a law enforcement mishap or technicality. I mean, bullshit happens everyday, if not every minute, to someone somewhere in the world and it can get extremely frustrating. I read the news online and in the newspaper every day and it really blows my mind to how much injustice is meted out daily. I guess at this point in my life, I really shouldn’t be surprised and just be pessimistic about it all terrible things going on all over the world-crime, rape, murder, torture, etc…It really all adds up and if festers in one’s mind it can piss off one and influence their mood, or their day, at least.
This is where films come in to one’s life. They are a poor man’s therapy. They are for me. James Glickenhaus’ THE EXTERMINATOR is 104 minutes of free therapy, unless you paid for the film or rented it. The film is your standard exploitation action flick about a Vietnam Vet whose buddy (also a veteran of Vietnam) is beaten savagely by street thugs in a gang and is left paralyzed. The buddy in the hospital, Michael Jefferson (Steve James, To Live and Die in L.A., American Ninja), is visited by his buddy John Eastland (Robert Ginty, Maniac Killer, Exterminator 2) and after talking to his wife and kids and seeing their obvious pain of seeing their father and husband crippled, Michael decides to dedicate his life to finding the thugs that ruined his best friend’s life and enact a nasty revenge. I love the premise for the film. It is pure and simple. Good guy turns into a relentless bad guy by breaking the law and giving his best friend justice. Is it really justice? I don’t know. The bad guys are going to pay dearly for messing up Michael’s life and viewers get to sit back and enjoy the violent ride.
The film quickly unloads the action on to the viewers, with Michael (Steve James) beating the crap out of what seem to be Puerto Rican gang members in New York (how do I know they are Puerto Rican? I think they are because there are Puerto Rican flags stitched on some of their t-shirts and vests!) breaking open a locker at a loading dock and stealing cases of beer. As the thugs are loading their car’s trunk up, well-built, African American, tough-guy Michael (James) walks up to find his friend and ‘Nam comrade John (Ginty) getting his butt kicked in and about to get knifed by the three hoodlums.
Michael beats the shit out of the thugs, knocking them out and “cleaning up” the area, and then go grab a beer. The next morning Michael is jumped and mugged. The thugs broke his neck with a steel chain and stuck a 3-pronged hook-like weapon into his back. This all occurs the next morning. After all this, the next scene shows John telling Michael’s wife her husband is paralyzed and will never walk again. The transition is extremely quick, if one notices a transition at all as it occurs so suddenly, and soon thereafter John has a thug with a member of the gang responsible for the attack and the botched beer robbery, Ghetto Ghouls, tied up in an abandoned building. After finding out where the gang hangs out, John heads over there with an M-16 rifle and lets the whores they were dancing with leave and shoots one, killing him, and ties up the other two and leaves them dumped in the basement of a building and leaving them to the rats. Before all of this, here is an excerpt of some nice “racy” dialogue. The scene reminds me of the racist stereotypes and feelings that were written into the script of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
“I’m sorry about this morning, alright, we didn’t hurt you. Shit man, that guy was just a nigger!”-gang member
“That nigger was my best friend, motherfucker!”-John (Ginty)
Exchanges of dialogue such as this have exploitation written all over it and really show how much times have changed. I mean, now in movies, most racist stereotypes apply to “spics” AND “niggers”. It seems only “crackers” were exempt from the put down of the races in films, even in independent flicks. Aside from the racism in the dialogue to more accurately portray the filth of NYC at the time, there are some very visually stunning shots of New York before 9/11 and one gets to see the Twin Towers before they were taken down by terrorists in 2001. I was pretty impressed that the budget of the film allowed for aerial helicopter shots, in some great length, to be filmed for an indie action flick.
The opening sequence in which both Michael and John are fighting in Vietnam had some impressive explosions and scenes of war, including the beheading of a U. S. soldier by a Vietnamese soldier. The gore in this sequence was decent, probably one of the scenes trimmed by the MPAA in the films’ original release. There are some other decent scenes of gore, if only briefly, in which a pervert is burned to death for providing under-age boys for sex (by kidnapping them) and beating up and torturing a hooker who would not agree to screw a young boy for another sick individual’s enjoyment and pleasure. The film has some dry spells in it though, as many scenes are shot with no soundtrack or music during them and can get pretty stale to watch sometimes. By no means is the acting going to win any awards for the performances, but the detective played by Christopher George was the most solid piece of acting on the screen. George, playing the role of Detective James Dalton, added a bit of credibility to the film with his scenes. Coupled with the lovely Samantha Eggar who played Dr. Megan Stewart, I think their performances were some of the only saving graces the film had. I believe the lead, Robert Ginty, was lacking any type of screen presence and charisma when acting. I just felt he was awkward to watch and his performance kind of stale. I don’t think it hurt the film too much because the film is an exploitative action flick that most are watching because of the violence, not the award-winning performances.
The film continues along with the crooked politicians, mob boss, and police all trying to get the city rid of the “Exterminator”. Ginty continues walking around town and running into crime and filth, trying to solve all the problems that New York’s streets possess. I do not know if there really is any sort of message besides the detective trying to solve the murders and crimes of the vigilante is also a Vietnam Vet, but just one that conforms to society’s norms and laws, while John Eastland has taken the law into his own hands, but that may be part of it. I sat through the film just thinking it may have been slightly better if there was more violence and gore in the film. There is some nudity, but its not too much and one pair of tits are scarred by burn marks all over them–not exactly a turn on.
Overall, I was a little bit more than mildly amused by the film. It was not the most action-packed or well-written film to portray a vigilante exacting revenge for his hospitalized comrade and friend (I thought the Death Wish films were done far better!), but it is not the worst way to spend a couple of hours. I can definitely see this film doing well at a grindhouse theater, though. The film has more elements in it that I found myself laughing at, then being shocked or appalled over. Maybe that was the whole point, to find some humor within the elements of shock, violence, and horror.
As with many films, the extra features on the disc can sometimes be a saving grace to a film that just did not live up to one’s expectations. That is the case here. Synapse Films’ Blu-Ray+Dvd Combo Pack comes with a wonderful commentary by director James Glickenhaus, in which he informs the audience quite a bit about the time of the filming (noting the Twin Towers shot in the film and how pre-9/11 it was far easier to rent a chopper and fly around the city shooting aerial shots) and that the helicopter used in the film was the very one that crashed and killed actor Vic Morrow a few years later. In fact, they shot the whole Vietnam sequence in the very same sound stage that Morrow died in during the filming of Twilight Zone.
This version of THE EXTERMINATOR is the original director’s cut containing more gore and violence, contains a newly restored original stereo soundtrack mix, and the theatrical trailer and television spots. I really think what I liked most about this film was the fantastic cover art for the movie in which a muscular man is shown holding a flamethrower, with fire and explosions in the background along with a helicopter flying. As a kid, I had always wanted to see this film and now after having seen it, I can’t say whether I would be TOO impressed with what I would have witnessed, even as a young chap.
I enjoyed the movie, but wished there was more violence, gore, and some soundtrack to help the movie move along nicer. I think the lack of cheesy music hurts the film. The movie is not an epic masterpiece, so why not throw some hilarious music as background noise to liven things up a little bit.
In the end, I found that I enjoyed the move for what it’s worth, which just may not be too much. Vigilante John Eastland has got nothing on vigilante Paul Kersey, though, except for one of the best one-liners I have ever heard in a film before:
When the CIA has a brief exchange with Det. James Dalton in which they suggest that the vigilante may be the work of a political power or foreign power, Dalton tells the agent what he thinks:
“I think you have to take a shit because it’s coming out of your mouth instead of your asshole.”
On that epic quote, I end this review and encourage film buffs to check out the new print on brd/dvd if they get a chance to. Fans of exploitation and grindhouse movies will be sure to be satisfied with Glickenhaus’ vigilante flick, even if it does not live up to my favorite vigilante film of all time, Deathwish.
Over here at SHU-IZMZ, I have been getting a load of films from distributors, some good and some bad, but I try to review each and every one, usually in a timely manner…well, lets face it- I can’t review every film in a timely manner, but I do want to make readers of SHU-IZMZ aware of all the different types of movies and styles that are floating around the world of films. I have decided to do a new feature or style of writing for the website, and that is what INDIE COMEDY ROUND-UP will be. Sometimes, the films won’t even always be indie flicks, but generally more often than not they will be. Those of you that know me probably figured out that comedies are not my favorite, or even close to my favorite genre of films. I do like to laugh, but I just generally laugh at things that many other people do not find the least bit funny. Oh well, that is part of the whole SHU-IZMZ thing. I would much rather watch a comedy along the lines of Dan O’Bannon’s RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD than I would watch the latest from National Lampoon. For the record, I only watch the National Lampoon movies for the gratuitous T&A. If there is no nudity or sleaze within one of their releases, I generally will regard the film as an epic flop. I just don’t find the humor in those films any good unless it is crude and supplemented with some crude visuals.
So here goes the first installment of INDIE COMEDY ROUND-UP. Sadly, this generally will be films that I only marginally enjoyed, but as always, readers know that comedies are not my thing and one should know that just because I did not enjoy the film does not mean that others who are fans of comedy will not like it. I have outed myself to you, the readers, and the rest of the world as to my biases on the genre of comedy. Also, keep in mind, that I do enjoy other, more mainstream comedies, such as most films with Will Ferrell in them or the goofy and usually sophomoric films that Adam Sandler is in. Go figure.
Today I have chosen two indie flicks from the distributors at Severin Films and Synapse Films: DEVOLVED, the feature debut of screenwriter, documentary filmmaker and ESPN columnist John Cregan and the film THE SWEET LIFE, the directorial debut of Rocco Simonelli, whose past work has been as a writer for the series THE SUBSTITUTE, as well as a handful of other films.
Let’s start with Cregan’s DEVOLVED, described as a teen-themed sex comedy and a throwback comedy, which centers around a group of suburban high-school seniors from San Diego on a whale-watching expedition off the Baja coast of Mexico. They become shipwrecked on a deserted island and it turns into the “nerds” vs. the “jocks”. Elements of LORD OF THE FLIES are reminiscent, as well as the crudeness of the new National Lampoon films and the cheesiness that most teen comedies comprise of. The film is inoculated with tedious and annoying characters, humor, and a plot that has been done on some level but only better. Films in which a group of kids are shipwrecked with little to absolutely zero parental control has been explored before, such as in the very shocking and well-done LORD OF THE FLIES, as I mentioned earlier, but this film is pure comedy, or tries to be, and is filled with the stereotypical characters that everyone has seen in countless other “stranded on an island” scenarios. I kept thinking of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, minus the campiness and cheese factor that a television show from the ’60s with Bob Denver (whom is likeable in it) can have and thrive upon. DEVOLVED was not, per say, a bad film. It was just a film that I really had no interest in throughout and it did not help matters that there was little to no nudity and sleaze within the film when it boasted a fairly attractive cast and was littered with sexual innuendo throughout.
I found much of the humor childish, bland, run-of-the-mill but the the film did have some funny moments such as one opening scene in which a newscaster is conducting a live newscast and a couple of attractive girls run on camera in the background donning bikinis and flash everyone (one of those girls being the brunette Cameron Adams who can also be seen in the voyeur porn clips known for on Backroom Casting Couch that is available in small clips on youporn.com) while shaking their chi-chis. Wait, I guess that was meant to be more titillating than humorous. In hindsight, I was really hoping that there would be more of the shaking of breasts in the film because when the annoying voice-over narration started, I then new that this film was going to be a rough viewing. The character titles popping up on the screen identifying who was who and what their “titles” were, such as their majors and high school clique associations, was even more annoying and an easy way to instantly let viewers know who they were without actually writing their character into the story. Really, this film just looked like a bad made-for-television after-school special that would air on one of the major local networks-minus the nudity, of course.
The film stars Lindsey Shaw (10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU), Robert Adamson (LINCOLN HEIGHTS), and Gary Entin (SECONDS APART) as the leaders of the students who for most, if not all of the movie, are arguing over who should be in control and what everyone’s duties are on the deserted island. I think this movie could have worked better if just had all the girls going GIRLS GONE WILD and the guys trying to nail them while delivering ridiculously crude lines of dialogue instead of the film comprising hardly any nudity and trying to form some social opinion on the different social classes that comprise of high school. Honestly, I was reminded of the film CAN’T HARDLY WAIT because that was also a film that introduced characters in it by on-screen titles and descriptions of who they were and what they were known for. The aforementioned movie was also more humorous, incorporated better actors and actresses, and had Jennifer Love Hewitt strutting around wearing a skin-tight white top that glorified her incredible bust and figure (at least in that movie because I have seen the infamous beach photos that circulated around the net and graced the cover of tabloid trash journalism) that I have viewed time and time again for that hope that the film gives with the theme that the nerdy “good guy” can win the heart of the “popular hot girl”. Yeah, one can hope, right?
If DEVOLVED even came close achieving the pace and feel of CAN’T HARDLY WAIT, along with some epic party scenes I think I may have enjoyed the film much more. DEVOLVED had all the elements of a seminal teen-romper full of comedy, but it just fell flat to me. I was not feeling it, though. I think my main reason for not enjoying this film was the fact that so many of the characters were introduced at lightening speed, were extremely shallow in their depth to each character, and that I just did not give a flying whoop over what the hell happened to any of them. I already had figured that this moronic comedy would go on until the big nerd got the popular girl, the parents eventually found their kids, no one would be killed or murdered, and everyone in the end would end up safe. There were no surprises in this film except why the hell did Chris Kattan (NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY) agree to be in this flop as Coach Papillion. Granted, Kattan was out of commission most of the film from dehydration and nearly drowning, but he really offered nothing to this film.
I recommend avoiding this film unless one needs to see every film Kattan has ever been in, or just needs a refresher coarse on what makes a movie funny by watching one that is abysmally non-humorous.
After that review, let’s move on to a movie, THE SWEET LIFE (2003), that puts a bit more thought and care into the plot of the film and offers viewers some insight into the world of dating and falling in love. Granted, this very subject in films is not something I generally choose to throw into my dvd player or blu-ray player, but it was a screener I requested because James Lorinz and Joan Jett are both in the film. If one can’t exactly place the name James Lorinz than maybe they may remember a few of the movies he starred in that to this day I still enjoy immensely, partly due to his character and comedic value within the films. In STREET TRASH (1987), directed by Jim Muro and written by Roy Frumkes (who is also involved with this film’s screenplay), Lorinz played an ultra-sarcastic jerk who is a doorman at a fancy Italian restaurant that is owned by an Italian mobster in a film that centers around bums in a local junkyard who come across a toxic brand of booze sold at a liquor store that turns its drinkers into a puddle of goo. Lorinz then went on to star in Hennenlotter’s FRANKENHOOKER three years later and was given the lead role, starring in a film that was full of nudity, crudeness, and many lines delivered by Lorinz filled with his biting humor for sarcasm delivered with deadpan deliveries.
THE SWEET LIFE is a very low-budget indie comedy filmed in New York that follows one brother, New York magazine columnist Michael (Lorinz), as he watches with envy as his confident and much more shallow brother Frankie (Robert Mobley) gets all the women and all the friends one could want in life. Frankie just so happens to be banging a slutty and wild-looking bartender at a dive bar that Frankie frequents regularly. Here is where Michael is set up on a blind date with Sherry, played by none other than the legendary Joan Jett. The date is a disaster and ends up with Michael returning Sherry back to her apartment drunk out of her mind and in no shape to have sex with Michael, even though she wants to. Michael does the right thing, putting her to bed and then ends up meeting her roommate and girlfriend to Frankie, Lila (Barbara Sicuranza).
Michael (Lorinz) and Lila (Sicuranza) end up going out and talking long into the night until sunrise and the two end up developing a connection and falling for each other. The rest of the film revolves around Michael and Lila’s relationship, Frankie and Lila’s relationship, and the brotherly love between Michael and Frankie. I guess one can say that the whole film is just about a bunch of relationships, falling in and out of love, and making hard decisions about where one wants their life to go and in what direction to take it.
The film asks the viewers some tough questions about life and explores the often complicated decisions one may have to make in regards to love, friendship, careers, school, and marriage. The film has just as much comedy in it as it has heartfelt sentiment. I enjoyed it much more than the aforementioned film I am reviewing, even though the cheap digital camera used for filming definitely takes away from the film’s quality. I enjoyed the film regardless of this small quality issue.
Of the two films, I would much rather be watching a bad zombie film or outrageously horrible slasher film than anything along the lines of traditional comedies or romantic comedies, but of the two, THE SWEET LIFE is the winner here and the least agonizing of the two films to be watching. Neither film is awful by any means, but of the two DEVOLVED tells a story I care nothing about and THE SWEET LIFE tells a story I care marginally about making it the winner of the two.
Label: Synapse Films
Streets: 10/11/11 SRP: 24.95
Run Time: 87 Minutes
In English Color Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
All Regions DTS 6.1 Surround Sound
Director: William Lustig
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Robert Z’dar, William Smith, Richard Roundtree
Production year: 1987
Innocent people are brutally killed on the streets of New York by a uniformed police officer. A young cop, Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell, TV’s BURN NOTICE and The EVIL DEAD Trilogy) finds himself marked as the chief suspect after his wife is murdered. As Lieutenant Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins, DRIVE ANGRY and LETHAL WEAPON) investigates, the death toll rises and he suspects a mysterious police cover-up. This “maniac” cop must be stopped, but it might not be so easy. He seems inhuman, and ready to take on the entire police force, hell-bent on revenge! Restored and remastered from original vault materials by Synapse Films, MANIAC COP looks and sounds better than ever in this brand-new 2011 high-definition transfer, featuring newly remixed DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound! Long considered a classic of the horror genre, MANIAC COP was written and produced by Larry Cohen (IT’S ALIVE, PHONE BOOTH) and directed by William Lustig (MANIAC, VIGILANTE)
Bonus Features include Maniac Cop Memories Featurette, Out the Window – Interview with Tom Atkins, Three Minutes with Danny Hicks Featurette, Motion Still Gallery, Additional Japanese TV Scenes, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, Spanish Radio Spot.
SOUTH OF HEAVEN
Label: Synapse Films
Run Time: 97 Minutes
In English Color Widescreen Anamorphic 1.78:1
Region 0 Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Director: J.L. Vara
Stars: Shea Whigham, Diora Baird, Jon Gries, Thomas Jay Ryan, Aaron Nee, Adam Nee
Production year: 2008
A FILM THAT DEFIES THE GENRE AS WELL AS EXPECTATIONS, SOUTH OF HEAVEN IS A BOLD ANTI-HERO ORIGIN STORY STEEPED WITH ATMOSPHERE AND ULTRA-VIOLENCE! When Roy Coop finished his stint in the Navy, he only had two things on his mind: seeing his brother Dale, and writing the great American novel. What he gets, however, is the homecoming from Hell! A pair of violent vaudevillians (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE’s Jon Gries, and Thomas Jay Ryan) mistake him for his brother, looking to collect on a debt he didn’t know he owed. Eight fingers later, Roy is burnt to a crisp, forged by fire into a new man. Roy is dead. Nobody is born. Now it’s Nobody’s turn to have his wicked revenge, and to save his brother before it’s too late. Wrapped in bandages and ready for blood, Nobody is determined to kill those that gets in his way, even the murdering masochist named Mad Dog Mantee (Shea Whigham, MACHETE and HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE). Dodging bullets and dodging dames, Nobody meets the nasty ne’er-do-wells Lily (Diora Baird, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING) and Veronica (Elina Lowensohn, SCHINDLER’S LIST). In this wonderful neo-film-noir, violence and vengeance are sure to meet in a little town they call… South of Heaven.
Bonus Features include Three Audio Commentaries, Three Short Films from Director J.L. Vara
SYNAPSE FILMS PRESENTS
JAMES GLICKENHAUS’ FLAMETHROWING
THE MAN THEY PUSHED TOO FAR IS COMING FOR YOU—IN HI-DEF!
THE EXPLOITATION REVENGE CLASSIC BURNS ONTO BLU-RAY IN A
NEWLY REMASTERED UNRATED DIRECTOR’S CUT!
Christopher George, Robert Ginty, and Samantha Eggar star in THE EXTERMINATOR, James Glickenhaus’ explosive story of Vietnam vet John Eastland (Ginty), a man who launches a bloody vendetta against the New York underworld when his best friend is brutally beaten by a vicious street gang. Eastland becomes a vigilante hero to the public, but to police The Exterminator is a psychopath capable of dangerously undermining an entire government administration.
Synapse Films is proud to present THE EXTERMINATOR in its more violent and gory Director’s Cut, lovingly restored in high-definition from original vault materials. One of the most cold-blooded and controversial revenge films
ever made, this is “a sick example of the almost unbelievable descent into gruesome savagery in American movies.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
• The Original Director’s Cut Featuring More Gore and Violence
• The Newly Discovered Original Stereo Soundtrack Mix
• Audio Commentary by Director James Glickenhaus
• Theatrical Trailer and Television Spots (HD)
Director: James Glickenhaus
Starring: Christopher George, Robert Ginty, and Samantha Eggar
Run Time: 104 minutes
Release Date: Sept 13, 2011
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1)
Formats: Blu-ray and DVD
Region: Blu-ray and DVD: All Regions
Price: Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $29.95
SOURCE: Synapse Films