BLU-RAY REVIEWS

BLU REVIEW: Hack O Lantern – Just in time for Halloween!

BLU REVIEW: Hack O Lantern – Just in time for Halloween!

Hack-O-Lantern
Massacre Video Blu Review

The leaves are changing, there is a crisp chill in the air and every die-hard horror fan is gearing up for the greatest holiday of all: Halloween. Every year I try to buy at least one Halloween-themed Blu to add to my collection, and this year it just so happens that Hack-O-Lantern slashes its way in HD. This is super exciting news as this boasts not only a brand new transfer but a host of new features. Truly we live in a golden age of home media with weird little gems like this getting the special edition treatment. Lets me be totally real for a second Hack-O-Lantern is awful…I mean god-awful but I still love it. Yes, the plot is all over the place. Yes, the dialogue is laughable with an ending that frankly makes zero sense, yet it has just the right amount of 80s cheese-tastic nostalgia that makes it endearing.
  • Picture: Horror fiends that grew up watching the crappy VHS or a VHS rip off Youtube will be totally blown away but the new print. As per Massacre Video, the original film elements were found using a 2k scan completely restores it to all its trash glory. I can honestly say that this film will never look as good as it does. Colors are natural and thankfully aren’t blown out like some 2k scans. The scenes at night really take advantage of this new scan.
  • Sound: As with the picture, the sound is great and includes a 2.0 mix and for those purists, an original Mono is included.
  • Special Features: Hack-O-Lantern thankfully isn’t bare bones and fans of this seasonal favorite aren’t tricked but treated to a host of new goodies. The highlight is a wonderfully entertaining interview with stars Gregory Scott Cummins and Katina Garner. And as I’m a huge commentary fan, I was delighted that one was recorded with producer Raj Mehrotra. Other features include some great behind the scenes stills, a rare public access interview with the cast/crew and trailers. Oddly, though, the trailer for this film is not present, and I find this is strange to leave out. Minor complaint though.
  • Overall: Massacre Video did a bang-up job on one of my favorite VHS titles. Not only does it look and sound amazing but it features some great extras. You won’t find any tricks only treats with this Blu and should be considered a must on any collector’s shelves. I`d even say this makes my short list for best Blu of 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in BLU-RAY REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Brain Damage (1988) from Arrow

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Brain Damage (1988) from Arrow

Brain Damage

Arrow Limited Edition Blu Review


Frank Henenlotter’s LSD-laced mind muncher Brain Damage (1988) savagely lampoons Nancy Reagan’s “Just say No” while also belonging to that rare category of seriously weird horror films from the late 80s to early 90s. They were high energy, candy colored, whacky, splattery, nudity-filled romps with pretty damn good screenplays tying the madness all together. And unlike horror movies of today it’s not depressing. What makes movies like Street Trash, Body Melt, and Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste gems of the genre is that they are over the top and go for the gross out but still retain light entertainment status without getting too dark and bleak. Brian (Rick Hearst) finds a mysterious creature named Elmer (voiced by the late, great Zacherle) who gives him the ultimate high. The only catch is the little parasite feeds on brains and demands his new host provide them for him…or else.
  • Picture/Sound: The picture is presented in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio and restored from a master, meaning the print is crisp and clear and even slightly better than the previous release. Like always Arrow provides a Mono track along with a new 5.1 soundtrack. And like the picture it to is a improvement over Synpases DVD release.
  • Package: Unlike Donnie Darko and the House: Two Stories, Brain Damage has a simple slipcover, but it still looks great sporting brand new artwork (and of course reversible cover featuring original artwork for those purists among you) and a booklet. Simple and effective wins the day here.
  • Special Features: The real gem of this set is the almost hour long documentary titled Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage. The interviews are solid and entertaining. It’s odd that Frank himself isn’t interviewed for it, but it’s still worth checking out. The other highlight is the feature The Effects of Brain Damage, an in-depth chat with effects genius Gabe Bartalos on making the creature Elmer. If that weren’t enough, you also have a featurette Animating Elmer, Karen Ogle: A Look Back, and Elmer’s Turf which documents the shooting locations. But wait, I’m not finished. Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession is a fun mini doc about super fan Adam Skinner as well a director Q&A, trailers, and, for you Zacharely fans, a short film (and final onscreen credit) entitled Bygone Behemoth. Sadly Arrow was unable to bring over Synapses’ commentary with Frank and writer/legend Bob Martin. I can’t fault Arrow for this, however, as I’m sure it was a rights issue. But, fear not, because a brand new commentary by Frank was recorded just for the release.
  • Overall: I was excited to hear that Arrow was tagged to re-release the film because they always take great pains to bring fans a product that is really worth their hard earned cash. Not only is the package well done with some great new art work, but there’s also a wealth of new features. And, of course, you get the film itself looking better than it ever has. This makes my short list of best release of 2017 (so far). Just Say Yes to this Blu!
Posted by Mike Vaughn in BLU-RAY REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: House: Two Stories from Arrow

BLU-RAY REVIEW: House: Two Stories from Arrow

House: Two Stories
Limited Edition Arrow Blu Review

House (1985)

House / Fair use doctrine.
Remember when horror films were fun and not bleak and gloomy and made you wanna slit your wrists? Oh the 80s… House and its sequel, House II: The Second Story, are prime examples of blending horror with screwball comedy and somehow making it actually work. What makes House brilliant is not only can it seamlessly blend the two genres (which is incredibly difficult) but it also shows the horrors of war and PTSD (a term not yet coined at the time) in a clever and harrowing way-yet still retains its goofy fun. Not an easy thing to balance but somehow it does. The film isn’t perfect with some writing that could have used more polish but, all things considered, it’s a highly creative wild horror ride from the decade that gave us a lot of scary and just plain fun outings. Holy rotten corpse, Arrow has really rolled out the blood red carpet for the first two films, and the end result is pretty amazing!

House II: The Second Story (1987)

House II / Fair use doctrine.
Wisely the filmmakers choose to not simply remake the first but go in a totally different direction, this time a western action adventure…and somehow it actually works. And like the previous outing it not only retains its goofy/cartoon charms but ups the stakes tenfold. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed House with its over the top gags a la Evil Dead 2 and social satire, I prefer the sequel. Sure, it’s flawed with needless subplots that drag the film down; it’s still a fun adventure horror film that makes a great starter for any budding horror fan. And really how can you not love the dog creature?

House / House II

  • Picture: According to the insert both this and House II are presented in an exclusive 2k scan just for this release using original 35mm material. The picture is crisp and clean with very little noise distortion and thankfully is not blown out color wise.
  • Sound: Both films feature an original uncompressed mono 2.0 and a new 5.1 track and they never sounded better. House 1 really benefits with Harry Manfredini wonderfully done score.
  • Extras: The real highlight are the feature length documentaries Ding Dong You’re Dead and It’s Getting Weirder produced by Red Shirt Pictures. Both come in at over an hour long and cover every aspect of the production. Thankfully, it features the main players not only in the cast but the crew as well, and the interviews are lively and entertaining. Each film also has feature length commentaries and rounding out the extras are vintage making of’s still galleries and of course trailers.
  • Package: House and House II are housed in a great box featuring outstanding new artwork done by Justin Osbourn. Both individual films also feature new art by Osbourn and for purist out there you can reverse the cover with the original poster art. The House Companion a booklet written by Simon Barber (the cover also featuring new art) is well written, packed with trivia and a great addition to this set.
  • Overall: Yeah it’s still early in the year but I feel perfectly OK with putting this on my short list for best release of 2017. Both films have never looked/sounded better but of course Arrow goes the extra mile for fans giving a wealth of new features with some vintage ones. The new documentaries alone are worth the price not to mention everything else. So time travel to a less depressing time in horror, when filmmakers actually had a bit of fun with its carnage! Worth your money!
Posted by Mike Vaughn in BLU-RAY REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMING SOON (BLU-RAY): Drive-In Massacre

COMING SOON (BLU-RAY): Drive-In Massacre

Drive-In Massacre (1977)
Coming to Blu-Ray

Heads Will Roll

Distributor: Severin
Release Date: 3/14/2017

About the Film:

I have to admit I feel extremely lucky that I have an actual fully functional drive-in that I can go to in the summer time. But I’m sure it couldn’t compare to the wild and seamy drive-ins of yesteryear. So those looking for a slice of nostalgia and gore filled romp should defiantly seek out Drive-In Massacre. The plot is pretty straightforward: A savage killer armed with a sword is slicing and dicing his way through a rural California drive-in. Now it’s up to two bumbling cops to solve the crime before more bodies pile up. The film suffers from horrible over padding and a tepid plot, but fans of Grindhouse sleaze, lots of ultra carnage, and some unintentional hilarity will be able to look past its flaws and enjoy it for its other merits. What saves this for me is it wears its heart on its bloody sleeve, and it doesn’t try to be something more than a fun, by the numbers slasher with some nice quirky moments thrown in for good measure. For example, the one gentleman cop going in undercover drag (and not passable) is an unexpected treat for the audience and something that makes it stick out. Again, it’s not brilliant, but it’s a perfectly serviceable nasty little gem to crawl out of the 70s. One can even forgive the obvious and sadly outdated marketing gimmick.

Picture/Sound:

Fans are treated to a brand new transfer using a recently discovered original 35mm print. The end result is a near flawless looking picture which is a huge improvement to previous releases. Colors are balanced nicely and skin tones look natural. Thankfully it doesn’t suffer from being washed out. Night scenes are practically good looking. Sound fares pretty Well with a nice 2.0 audio track. Sounds are crisp with little noise distortion — again a much needed improvement from previous editions.

Extras:

Severin has proved they can hang with the big boys of cult/horror blu ray releases and they are kicking off 2017 with some stellar releases. Drive in Massacre features brand new interviews with co-writer/actor John F.Goff, Norm Sheridan and director Stu Segall. The interviews are both fun and informative and are a must for fans of this sleazy 70’s slice’em up. Perhaps my favorite new feature is the feature length commentary with Stu Segall. And rounding out the extras is the infamous trailer with the misspelled title. Put it all together it’s a great collection of new features giving it a complete picture of this sorely over looked, entertaining Grindhouse classic. Also look for a hidden Easter egg on the main menu.

Overall:

While not one of the best slashers of the decade it is a lot of fun and those looking to add this to your slice and dice collection will not feel cheated. Not only is the sound/picture great but a lot of love was put into the brand new extras making this a must own blu release. For a limited time anyone who buys off their site will receive an autographed copy at no extra cost.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in BLU-RAY REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

By Nick Durham

contamination

My trek through European splatter trash will never end.

Contamination is, as you can probably tell just from the cover, a 1980 Italian rip-off of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien, which had achieved monumental success just a year prior. Armed with probably about a quarter of the budget (if I’m being generous) of the budget Alien had, Contamination is a super trashy and cheap cash-in on a much more revered film, much like Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead is a bonafide Dawn of the Dead rip-off, only this is directed by the guy that made the sci-fi shitfest Star Wars rip off known as Starcrash, and a really shitty Hercules movie starring Lou fucking Ferrigno. Even though it sounds like I’m shitting on Contaminationin this opening paragraph, believe it or not, I have a love for this Italian-branded fecal matter, and Arrow Films has blessed us once again with a beautiful Blu-ray release of the film.

The film’s storyline, and I use the term loosely, revolves around a ship drifting into harbor containing a shitload of strange eggs. The eggs of course, are alien in nature, and explode, disgustingly mutilating anyone around them. Turns out there was a mission to Mars sometime prior, and the one drunken astronaut that returned may have some clues as to why these things are on Earth. What follows is a plot to destroy humanity, and quite possibly one of the most laughably awful movie monsters in the history of celluloid.

I know it sounds like I am shitting on Contamination, but I’m doing so out of love. I’ve always had a soft spot for this film. I know it’s bad, I know it’s cheap, I know it isn’t anything you’re likely to remember fondly…but goddammit, I adore it. It attained its fair share of notoriety upon its original release, being labeled as one of the infamous Video Nasties in its day, due to the exploding splatter effects shown mostly in slow motion. The effects, while ridiculously fake looking, are somehow a sight to behold. I know that sounds like it makes no sense, but trust me, watch it. There’s also a soundtrack provided by Goblin (!) that is absolutely wonderful.

The Blu-ray rlease from Arrow Films features a bevy of special features that we’ve come to expect from the label. There’s a commentary from super fan and filmmaker Chris Alexander, new documentaries and interviews with director Luigi Cozzi and star Ian McCulloh (who you know from Fulci’s Zombie among other splatterfests of the day), a collector’s booklet, and even a digital graphic novel based on the film’s original screenplay. That’s only a handful of what all is in this package, and it is glorious.

All in all, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Arrow Films has provided us with another wonderful release of a wonderful piece of trash from yesteryear. This Blu-ray is a wonderful addition to your collection if any of what I described of the film seems to be up your alley at all. As for the film itself, Contamination is a gloriously goofy and entertaining Alien rip-off that represents what makes this type of Eurotrash so enjoyable. Pick this up.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Nick Durham in BLU-RAY REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments