grindhouse releasing

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Pieces (1983)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Pieces (1983)

piecespaulsmithfb

By Nick Durham

Pieces is a weird fucking movie, and that’s saying it lightly. Said weirdness usually comes from the fact that it’s really hard to figure out whether the film is supposed to be a parody of the slasher and splatter genres, or if it’s supposed to be taken seriously. You never really get a clear answer in figuring that out, but in all honesty, that’s quite okay, because it’s super mega-fucking enjoyable regardless of its absurdity and occasional downright awfulness.

Pieces begins in the 1940s when a young boy hacks his mother to death with an axe after she threatens to destroy his jigsaw puzzle of a naked lady (yes, you read that right). Forty some years later, there’s a string of super grisly murders on a college campus; featuring female victims being butchered by a chainsaw, and discovered with various body parts missing. Our killer appears to be making his own woman out of these various pieces (nooch), and it’s up to a cop (genre stalwart Christopher George), a former tennis player and occasional cop (George’s real life wife Lynda Day George), and an annoying student (Ian Sera, who if he looks familiar, he was a featured player in Pod People, i.e., the greatest episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 ever) to save the day. Along the way there’s plenty of nudity and gore effects, and one of the most ludicrous conclusions and final shots you will EVER see in any horror film in existence.

I’ve praised Grindhouse Releasing a lot in the past for their wonderful Blu-ray releases, and their release treatment for Pieces is top notch. The film is presented here in both its uncut U.S. release, as well as its slightly longer, uncensored Spanish release with full audio. Each has wonderful new 4K transfers. There’s a new commentary from actor Jack Taylor, older interviews with director Juan Piquer Simon and genre great Paul L. Smith (who plays the most red herring-esque character you’re likely to ever see), a very worthwhile documentary called 42nd Street Memories, and a bonus CD featuring the film’s soundtrack. Some of these features carry over from Grindhouse’s DVD release of Pieces from a few years back, but that doesn’t stop this from being a wonderful package.

So yeah, if you’ve ever seen Pieces before, you know it’s a ridiculous and absurd trip that must be seen to be believed. For those of you that haven’t seen Pieces before, what the fuck are you waiting for? Pick up this fantastic Blu-ray release from Grindhouse Releasing while you can. You’ll be damn glad that you did.

Raing: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

By Nick Durham

ferox1

Here we go again...

Cannibal Ferox is the not as well-known little brother to Cannibal Holocaust, though it does have quite the following regardless. Directed by Umberto Lenzi (who like Ruggero Deodato, has a lot of experience with this type of filth), Cannibal Ferox, also known as Make Them Die Slowly, is somehow a tad more ferocious in tone than its more well-known brethren. Yes, I'm serious. Also like Cannibal Holocaust, Grindhouse Releasing has blessed us with a beautiful Blu-ray release of the film, which I'll be talking all about shortly.

Anyway, Cannibal Ferox revolves around a handful of anthropologists that take a trip to the Colombian jungle in hopes of proving that cannibalistic tribes are just a myth. Of course things don't work out that way, because then we wouldn't have a fucking movie here would we? They run into a guy named Mike; who is a drug dealer on the run from the New York City mob. He's also a total sick fuck, and has done some extremely terrible things to the local natives...and even if you've never seen this film before (or any cannibal film honestly), you already know where all this is going.

Cannibal Ferox is a truly deplorable film in every sense of the word, and I'm not afraid to say that either. Whereas Cannibal Holocaust is a nasty film that's hard to watch, it has that little bit of subtext and social commentary that set it apart from others of its ilk that made it memorable. Cannibal Ferox has none of that...and you know what? That's actually okay. This is a grindhouse/exploitation movie after all, and we're all here to see people get tortured and eaten, and that's what we fucking get. Body parts are severed, flesh is eaten, there's animal death, and all the other elements that you'd expect from a cannibal film are here, and on full fucking display. It is absolutely perverse how enjoyable it all is...to a degree. It also features Cannibal Holocaust and Debbie Does Dallas star Robert Kerman as well...I'm not saying that as a negative point, I'm only mentioning it because this is the one film he's in where he doesn't show his cock, so I didn't recognize him right away.

I won't lie, I have a harder time watching this than I do Cannibal Holocaust. Where I had said that Cannibal Holocaust has subtext, etc. and Cannibal Ferox does not, that's saying it lightly. Cannibal Ferox is just plain fucking cruel. It's vicious to its core and unapologetic about it too. Not to mention the film as a whole feels uneven. The tone between the jungle scenes and the scenes in New York contrast each other so much it's like you're watching two different films. Maybe that's an effect that Lenzi was going for? The civilized world versus the jungle?

Nah, I'm giving him too much credit with that one.

Grindhouse Releasing has outdone themselves again with this Blu-ray release. The picture and sound are absolutely brilliant as one would expect, and there's a bonus remastered CD soundtrack as well. There's also some rarely seen deleted footage, a commentary by Lenzi, new interviews, a horde of trailers, and a very interesting documentary that features interviews with Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Robert Kerman, and more. It's an awesome set, even better than what Grindhouse provided us with the Cannibal Holocaust Blu-ray release believe it or not. My only gripe, and this is totally personal, is that there's no feature to skip the animal deaths like the Cannibal Holocaust Blu-ray had. I just can't watch that shit, and I've seen some really nasty stuff over the years. Maybe I'm soft. If I am, fuck it, I don't care.

All in all, Cannibal Ferox isn't nearly as impactful a film as Cannibal Holocaust, but if this is your kind of thing, you should check it out regardless. If you are a fan and you don't own this, you're missing out. Pick this up while you can, you'll be happy that you did.

Also, I just want to say that if it's one thing watching all these cannibal movies has taught me, it's that if I end up in the jungle I will seriously blow my brains out before anyone tries to eat my dick.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

By Nick Durham

cannibalhol

Oh fucking hell, here we go...

The most infamous of all the cannibal movies ever made in the history of fucking ever, Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, has gotten a wonderful treatment from those beautiful bastards at Grindhouse Releasing. The fact that the film has received such a great physical media release doesn't negate the love/hate relationship I have with it, and the cannibal genre as a whole in all honesty, but man oh man, what a treat this is.

In case you don't already know for some reason, Cannibal Holocaust was Deodato's follow up to his cinematic shit-fest Jungle Holocaust; only this time around we get these little things called subtext and social commentary amidst all the blood and guts. We also get some absolutely reprehensible shots of animal murder to go along with all that...so...yeah...

...like I was saying, fuck all this.

Anyway, Cannibal Holocaust follows Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) as he makes a trek to the South American jungle to discover exactly what happened to a missing documentary crew. Considering the film has the word cannibal in the title, just take a wild guess. So yeah, Monroe meets the tribe and eventually gains their trust by taking a naked swim. Oh, and I should mention now, if Kerman's cock looks familiar to you at all, chances are it's because you watched him nail the title character of the 70s classic adult film Debbie Does Dallas. Yes, I'm totally fucking serious. Go watch that right now and thank me later. Eventually Monroe discovers the crew's remains as well as a reel of film they had shot, and it slowly reveals through the found footage (oh...so this is how THAT whole sub-genre started) just what happened to these assholes and why. Spoiler alert: they pretty much got what they deserved.

As the genre would be known for, Cannibal Holocaust features many scenes of animal murder, torture, rape, genital mutilation, and some occasionally atrocious dubbing here and there. It's also notorious because Deodato had to appear in court with the actors and effects artists to prove to everyone that he didn't make a fucking snuff movie. Again, I'm dead fucking serious. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.

Anyway, enough about the movie itself, let's get down to the Blu-ray. Grindhouse Releasing is awesome, as I've said so many times in the past, and this release is no different. There're a couple of commentary tracks featuring Deodato, Kerman, and a few other actors, as well as new and old interviews to boot. There's an assortment of trailers and easter eggs (including Necrophagia's music video directed by The Manson Family and Deadbeat at Dawn helmer Jim VanBebber) as well as the standard collectible booklet that features liner notes by Eli Roth, and reversible cover artwork. The film itself also looks and sounds great, probably the best it ever has. A CD soundtrack is included as well, featuring Riz Ortolani's score remastered and sounding pitch perfect. The most important special feature, at least for me, is the ability to watch the film with the animal death scenes edited out. I can watch people get hacked up any day of the week, but when it comes to animals, man, count me the fuck out. Kudos to Grindhouse for that.

To close things out, you can say what you will about Cannibal Holocaust. It's deplorable, reprehensible, and a total product of its time as a cannibal grindhouse film. It's infamous for a reason, and its subtext somehow manages to still hold up to this very day. This Blu-ray release from Grindhouse Releasing is wonderful, and if you're a fan of this sort of thing, you should go pick this fucker up. If you've never seen it before, there's no better time than now since we're about to get The Green Inferno unleashed upon us. Oh, and no matter what, this is still better than Cannibal Ferox, but we'll get to that one later.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Videodrome (1983)

By Nick Durham

Videodrome

It's really hard to say anything about David Cronenberg's classic Videodrome that hasn't been said a million fucking times already. It remains one of the director's crowning achievements in a filmography that features a number of classics, as well as a classic of body horror. The fact that Criterion decided to add this film to their prestigious lineup (that somehow also includes Michael Bay's Armageddon... no, I'll never understand that) speaks to the lasting effect that Videodrome has had on all of us.

James Woods, in the most unnerving performance of his long career, stars as Max Renn, the proprietor of a sleazy cable TV network that specializes in softcore porn and hardcore violence. He stumbles upon a feed for a mysterious pirate broadcast of torture and murder called Videodrome, and it isn't long before Max starts losing his mind...or does he? The thing with Videodrome is that you keep questioning yourself as to what you're seeing unfold on screen. Is it real? Is it in Max's head? Is Debbie Harry really so goddamned sexy? These are the questions you'll be asking yourself throughout the film's running time.

I could talk more about the film's intricate story and plot, or about Rick Baker's disgusting and groundbreaking effects work, but instead I'm going to focus on the special features of this Criterion Blu-ray release. They are pretty much identical to the special features included on the DVD release from years back, which is absolutely fine because they were wonderful then and are wonderful now. The film is presented here in all its uncut glory with a beautifully restored picture. There's commentary from Cronenberg as well as Woods and Harry, Cronenberg's short film Camera from 2000, documentaries and interviews, complete footage of the Samurai Dreams softcore flick that Max views in the beginning of the film, and a vintage roundtable discussion between Cronenberg, John Landis, John Carpenter, and Mick Garris. All these features make this disc more than worth its price tag.

I know I've gushed before about releases from Arrow Films and Grindhouse Releasing, saying that they are the Criterion Collection for horror films, and that remains the absolute truth. That being said, there's nothing quite like a Criterion Collection release, and their release of Videodrome is something spectacular indeed. Do yourself a favor and pick it up ASAP. You won't regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Corruption (1968)

By Nick Durham

Corruption

Did you know Peter Cushing was once in a film where he played a semi-crazed plastic surgeon who goes on a spree murdering young women in an effort to harvest their glands to preserve his younger fiancé's damaged face? If I told you any of that, would you even believe me? Well guess what guys, it's true. Peter Cushing, known as one of the classiest thespians ever in the horror genre, starred in this little known flick that provided ample amounts of blood and boobs. Thanks to the good folks at Grindhouse Releasing, now we can call see Corruption in its wonderful, depraved, swingin' 60s glory.

As said already, Cushing plays a jealous plastic surgeon named John Rowan, whose hot model fiancé (Sue Lloyd) suffers a nasty facial injury. Feeling responsible, Rowan believes he knows a way to fix the damage, a method which involves harvesting the skin glands of voluptuous young ladies of course. What follows is lots of blood and boobs, and just the right amount of enjoyable schlock gets packed in without the film itself ever feeling like absolute filth, if that makes any sense at all.

Never before seen uncut in the U.S., Grindhouse has happily given us Corruption in all its nasty glory. Hell, I do believe that this is actually the first home video release of Corruption here in the States at all. It's funny watching it now, because even when it gets to its nastiest moments, the film isn't as graphic as one may think it is. Granted that the time this came out I'm sure it ruffled enough feathers, but even in its silliest and nastiest moments, Corruption manages to have a small touch of class attached to it. This is mostly because of having Cushing in the lead villainous role. I couldn't imagine that he was super comfortable in the role, but the man was a total pro, and he's wonderful here as the main attraction. In fact, the cast as a whole is pretty damn good, which also includes Vampire Lovers hottie Kate O'Mara as well.

Grindhouse Releasing, which has managed to supply us with wonderful releases and re-releases of little-known or lost films with tons of extras and care, has really delivered with this Blu-ray release of Corruption as well. There're two versions of the film as well as vintage and new interviews, an audio commentary that features Cushing's biographer David Miller, awesome reversible case cover artwork, and tons more. Needless to say, this deserves to be in your collection, especially if you're a Cushing fan.

All in all, Corruption is a surprisingly little known film that deserves your time and attention. It's also another wonderful example of what makes Grindhouse Releasing so awesome in terms of releasing little-known vintage films on modern physical media. Like I said before, Corruption deserves your time, and you need to pick it up. You won't regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

In Praise of Grindhouse Releasing

By Nick Durham

grindhouse releasing

One thing that horror fans have over fans of nearly any other film genre is the quality of the physical media release, in this case Blu-ray and DVD. You know The Criterion Collection? That line of films that feature a bevy of special features and picture restoration and are kind of pricey? Criterion features plenty of films that are worth your time (and somehow Michael Bay's Armageddon...I'm dead fucking serious) and even has a few surprising horror entries in their lineup as well (Videodrome, Naked Lunch, Don't Look Now). That being said, aside from maybe Arrow Films and Scream Factory to a lesser extent, no one delivers in terms of deluxe horror and genre releases like Grindhouse Releasing.

Co-founded by film editor Bob Murawski and the late Sage (son of Sylvester) Stallone, Grindhouse Releasing has picked up and distributed some super rare or in some cases never before seen films for small theatrical releases and Blu-ray/DVD releases as well. These range from grindhouse cinema classics like Cannibal Holocaust and The Beyond to shit you've never heard of like The Swimmer and Gone with the Pope. There're other films in their lineup (not all horror either), some which may sound familiar to you, including Cannibal Ferox, Massacre Mafia Style, Corruption, An American Hippie in Israel, The Big Gundown, Pieces, Cat in the Brain, and I Drink Your Blood. Hell of a lineup right?

I had mentioned Arrow Films and Scream Factory earlier. While both those labels are favorites of mine and offer some quality releases, a majority of the films featured on either label have something in common: we've heard of most of them at the very least. That's not the case with a majority of Grindhouse's lineup. While yes, we've all heard of Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, and The Beyond; is there anyone that remembered Corruption? Hell, I love Peter Cushing and I never even heard of it let alone knew of its existence. Imagine the shock on my face when I realized one of the classiest men in horror starred in a film where he was killing young women to supply his wife what she needed to maintain her appearance, and that there were tits aplenty. It's things like that that really separate Grindhouse Releasing from the rest of the pack.

I could go on and on about Grindhouse Releasing, but I won't. Not because I don't want to, but only because they offer films that deserve your attention. The fact that they painstakingly restore and re-release these little known films for wide audiences today is a beautiful thing indeed. We should all take the time to love and appreciate what they've done not only for horror fans, but for the genre as a whole.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments