Italy National Day: Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985)


Film: If you have read anything on this site before, you’ll know I am a big fan of Italian films of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Amongst that, I also have somewhat of a fondness for the Cannibal film made by Italian filmmakers of the period. I think I saw Cannibal Apocalypse first and was stunned by the story and brutality of it, and whenever I hear of one I’ve not seen I seek it out.

This was one I hadn’t seen of until it’s release by 88 Films this year and I was pretty excited to watch it as I could tick off another Cannibal/ Green Inferno film off my list, and actually from the period and of available releases it might be my last one, or very close to it.

This film was written and directed by Michele Massimo Tarantini who also gave us Sword of the Barbarians and Women in Fury is of the second wave of Cannibal films of this time, others being Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story and Cannibal Holocaust 2, which aren’t as good as the first wave, which included the original Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox.


Massacre in Dinosaur Valley tells of the misadventures of archeologist Kevin Hall (Michael Sopkiw) who has journeyed into the Brazilian jungle in search of dinosaur bones. When he gets there, he decides to hitch an airplane ride with Professor Ibanez (Leonidas Bayer) and his daughter Eva (Suzane Carvalho), along with a slightly mad ex-Viet Nam veteran, his annoying wife, a photographer and two models.

Unfortunately for them, the plane crashes (in some of the worst special effects ever seen) and the survivors of the crash have to find a way to make their way out of the jungle, but with just a few people up against cannibals, piranha and evil illegal diamond minors, will any of them get out safely?

First I must point out that this is an edited version of the film as due to animal cruelty laws in the U.K., some cock-fighting scenes at the beginning of the film have been excised from this release so it isn’t a ‘complete and uncut’ version, but realistically the film doesn’t suffer from it and it’s not a story point, though you do hear that the competition is going on in the background.

It’s a quirky film for sure. Sopkiw plays his role like a mysoginistic jerk-off that the women seem to love, but it’s done with a great air of comedy too, not sure if that’s intentional or not, but it does add something to the uniqueness of the film. One case that particularly makes for a laugh is some hilariously ill-fitting music over a sex scene. No Barry White for this guy!


The special effects are pretty amusing in general too. Most acts of gunshot violence don’t result in a blood spray, the aforementioned airplane crash is clearly a model plane and the scenes of hogs attempting to eat Sopkiw’s leg are less that spectacular.

The film is entertaining but it doesn’t have the weight that the films of the earlier batch of cannibal films, so it comes across a little more like a Romancing the Stone film with a bit of blood and violence.

Score: ***


Format: Considering the age of the film, it looks pretty good! There is an occasional artefact, but in general, this UK, region B, 88 minute bluray release is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with a decent LPCM 2.0 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Now I’m not sure if you count this as an extra or a special feature, but the film is able to be watched in an English dubbed, or a subtitled version. Oddly, the Italian language version is a shorter film!

In addition to that, we also have a theatrical trailer of the film, and a bunch of deleted scenes, some of which have no audio due to the nature of the scenes not being finished for the final presentation of the film, so their removal must have been decided well before any recording of audio was done.

There is also a discussion about the Cannibal sub-genre with well known U.K. Horror enthusiast Callum Waddell called Location Location Cannibalisation. It’s an interesting look not just at this film but of Cannibal films in general.

There is also a special thanks section where those who donated money to the release of the film get a note of thanks.

This bluray release also has a reversible cover featuring alternate artwork for the film.

I’m going to gauge these extras from the point of the alternate version of the film being an extra feature.

Score: ****

WISIA: It was entertaining but I can’t see myself watching it too frequently, not when films like the aforementioned Cannibal Holocaust, Apocalypse and Ferox exist.

Child’s Play (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Child’s Play (1988)


Film: What is it with clowns and dolls? We enjoy both of them as kids but when we grow up, some of us are creeped out by them, but not me!

Definitely not me!

I LOVE movies that have a scary doll or clown in it! Never let it be said that I avoid either. Damn, I even saw Annabelle just because of the doll, even though I knew it to be part of the universe that the disappointingly dull Conjuring films exist in.

Why do I love horror films with dolls in it? The blame can be aimed directly at this film right here: 1988’s Child’s Play, starring the most loveable smartarse serial killing doll, Chucky!

This film was written by Don Mancini, also with John Lafia and Tom Holland, who also directed.

This film tells of Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), a serial killer who, upon being almost captured, uses voodoo to transfer his mind to a fresh body, which happens to be the most popular toy of the day, a Good Guys doll.

Karen (Catherine Hicks) is desperate for a Good Guy doll for her son, 6 year old Andy (Alex Vincent) and manages to acquire the one that Chucky transferred his persona into. Very soon, Chucky is on the rampage, and wants a human body again but he find out that he can only return to the body of the first person he revealed himself to… otherwise he’ll be trapped as a doll forever, but a human doll with organs and blood, and one that can be injured… and killed, so the race is on to get back to Alex, and become one with him…


The first thing one has to note about this film is just how amazing Alex Vincent is in it. Mostly kids come across as obnoxious or just annoying in these sorts of films, but the whole preposterous story is sold on how good the kid sells it!

The special effects of Chucky need some props as well. Occasionally it is a little person dressed up, but there are also times where it is a puppet or an animatronic, and in both cases it looks convincing… once your sense of disbelief kicks in anyways.

On the point of the silly concept of the film, Hicks and her co-star Chris Sarandon both deserve credit for playing the entire film completely straight, which is exactly what this film needs. Brad Dourif’s menacing voice doesn’t hurt that either… he’s a nasty piece of work in this! 


It’s a great deal of fun, and even though the sequels, like all sequels, are occasionally stupid, this is an effective film that tells a great story even though what we are supposed to believe is out there.

Score: ****


Format: This film was reviewed with the UK DVD release that runs for approximately 83 minutes. Unfortunately this DVD wasn’t really made for widescreen TVs it doesn’t appear to be anamorphic, and the widescreen image just seems to float in the middle of your screen. I tried it on several different settings and couldn’t get it to play to the full screen of my widescreen TV. The image itself though is a clean one, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is fantastic.

Score: **

Extras: Only a trailer, I’m afraid.

Score: *1/2

WISIA: It’s an eighties horror classic, you better believe it!

Pin (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Pin (1988)


Film: It’s no secret that my favourite films are from the 80s. I mainly loved the ones that were over-sequelised like the Nightmare on Elm Street series, or the Friday the 13ths series, but now and again I’d find a one-off that was totally off the wall, and amazing.

This film, Pin, is based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman with the script written by Sandor Stern, a man whom every horror fan knows better as the script-writer for The Amityville Horror. This film was also directed by Stern, and he proves himself to be an efficient director with a skill in. Retaking uncomfortable cinematic atmospheres.

Pin tells the story of the Linden family. Leon (David Hewlett) and Ursula (Cyndy Preston) have had an extraordinarily strict upbringing: their mother, Mrs Linden (Bronwen Mantel) is a OCD cleaning-obsessed fruitcake, and their father, a doctor (Terry O’Quinn) is a cold fish who educates his children using a life-sized, anatomically correct dummy, named Pin, and his skill with ventriloquism.


The problem is, Leon doesn’t have the emotional growth to understand that Pin isn’t real, and as he grows older, he develops a split-personality, his own and the other being Pin.

Unfortunately their parents die in a car accident, and without the good doctor there to temper Leon’s schizophrenia, ‘Pin’ becomes more and more dominant, which doesn’t really help in Ursula’s plan to lead a normal life, even though she does tend to allow Leon’s fragile state of mind to continue… but will it eventually become dangerous?

Stern has created a truly bizarre film with this one. There is an amazing oppressiveness whilst the parents are alive which is replaced by a constant feeling of uneasiness as Leon’s mental state devolves. Hewlett nails the performance of Leon which helps the unsettled mood as well.


One of the other super-creepy things about the film is the voice that is given to Pin. Jonathon Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, performs it with this slightly high-pitched calm that somehow suits the bizarre empty stare that the dummy has. It’s a weird thing when the dummy is one of those ‘visible man’ medical training dummies, but when it is painted, wigged and dressed by Leon it becomes something out of nightmares.

This is a well made, fascinating film, and I really recommend it to anyone who likes a good psychological horror film.

Score: ****1/2


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Arrow Films, region 2 DVD release which was produced under their ‘Arrowdrome’ line. The DVD runs for approximately 98 minutes and is presented in a slightly soft images 1.85:1 with a sufficient Stereo 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: Arrow presented this film with a reversable cover, the other being the original artwork from the 80s. This package also contains a booklet about the film which features an essay by Lee Gambin. The disc contains a trailer as well.

The disappointing thing about this disc is the cover offers a commentary, but there is no option to select it.

Score: **1/2

WISIA: I have liked this film for years and it gets a regular watching.

Easter Review: Critters 2 (1988) 

Happy Easter from the To Watch Pile! Thanks for your continued support. Over the next three days we’ll have three special reviews JUST for Easter!
One from the re watch pile…
Critters 2 (1988)


Film: In the 80s, after Gremlins, every movie company wanted to try their hand at a little furry monster film. The difference is, whilst it took Gremlins several years to pop out a sequel, other series’ came and went, like Troll, Ghoulies and this series Critters.

For me, Critters didn’t grab me… well, not until this sequel which came out a few years later me and I totally dug it. The beautiful thing about this sequel was it realised that the premise, and the Critters, were a little stupid and decided to amp up the comedy aspects. This also may be due to the trend of horror films at the time was to make ‘horror comedies’ at every opportunity, thanks to Freddy K and the humour that had been injected into his series.

For me this was the best idea, and it really works. Sure a lot of the jokes refer to other movies (and with Mick Garris co-writing and directing, you can guarantee a Stephen King joke is gonna slip in there too) and if I’m totally honest, there is a load of Dad-jokes throughout the preceding.

Our story tells of Bradley Brown (Scott Grimes), who has returned after two years to his home town which several years ago had been the victim of an alien incursion by little furry eating machines called ‘Krites’.


Unfortunately for Bradley, his return also heralds a return of the Krites as a local antiques dealer purchases a bunch of Krite eggs that have been dormant (they’ve been in a cold barn) for this whole time. As soon as he puts them in his warmer antiques shop, they begin to hatch, but not before he sold some to a local childcare centre so they can paint them for their Easter parade.

Bradley teams up with the daughter of the town newspaper editor, Megan (Liane Curtis) and intergalactic shapechanging bounty hunters Ug (Terrance Mann) and Lee (played by various actors including scream queen Roxanne Kernohan and professional nerd Eddie Deezen), and their human sidekick, former town drunk Charlie (Don Keith Opper) to fight the Krites, but will the small town of Grover’s Bend be able to survive another alien attack? 


Mick Garris is one of those directors who doesn’t do anything special with his direction, but really conveys a story brilliantly and he does so here. The sense of whimsy in this film is present all the way through and it seems clear the cast and crew had fun making it. As I previously stated, there are several dad jokes and some sound effects added to visual jokes that make a slightly amusing scene even funnier. 

The cats is extraordinarily likable and you can also spot support acting regulars like Lin Shaye (Insidious), Barry Corbin (No Country for Old Men) and Sam Anderson (Ouija:Origin of Evil): I kid you not, these last two faces will make you point at the screen and go ‘that’s the guy from the thing with the man in that TV show’. 

One warning though: Cynthia Garris has written a jingle for the towns fast food restaurant ‘Hungry Heifer’ that is so insidiously catchy that you’ll find yourself humming it for days later.

I thoroughly enjoy this film and of the 80s horror-comedies, which I don’t REALLY called horror, it’s one of my comfort-food styled favourites, liked a celluloid hot chocolate.

Score: ****


Format: The review of this film was performed with the New Zealand (which is really a ratings re-stickered Australian one) Region 4 DVD which runs for approximately 82 minutes and is presented in a good 1.85:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Only a trailer I’m afraid.

Score: *

WISIA: Oh yeah I’ll watch this film again and again… and not just for Roxanne Kernohan! It’s a hoot!

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) Review

One from the re-watch pile…
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

 

FilmAs a teenager, in addition to horror movies, I loved fantasy and science fiction. Of course Star Wars and it’s sequels were high on the list, as were the Conan movies, but I also was a fan of the second tier films of those genres. I love the cheapo rip offs that Roger Corman gave us like Battle Beyond the Stars, and I especially loved ANY fantasy film I could get my grubby little hands on.

There is not much in fantasy films for a teenage boy not to like: adventurous stories (like those in the Dungeons and Dragons games we played), muscular heroes we aspired to be, bodacious busty babes we aspired to have fawning over us, a cache of weapons at our disposal and best of all, gigantic mythical beasts to either ride, or fight.

This was the first feature for Albert Pyan, who most action film fans will appreciate the name of, even though he did give us the awful Arcade (1993) and made a horrible attempt at a Captain America film in 1990, starring Matt Salinger, as a genre legend who has been in the industry for over 30 years, making enjoyable schlocky indie action films that are a blast to watch. Pyun also co-wrote the script for this film with one-and-done writers John Stuckmeyer and Tom Karnowski, both of whom had other careers in film, but not in the writing department.

Our story begins with Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) employing the skills of sorcerer Xusia (Richard Moll) so he can overrun a kingdom he has previously been unable to conquer.


Of course, because he is played by Richard Lynch, Cromwell turns on the sorcerer once his employ has been finalized and his army is seemingly unstoppable… but is it?

The son of the King, Talon (played as a boy by James Jarnigan, but eventually by Lee Horsley) is issued a three bladed sword by his father King Richard (Christopher Cary) which he is supposed to use to defend his mother should the king fall in battle.

The king does fall and Talon has to go into hiding, and avoids capture by Cromwell, eventually becoming a mercenary and upon the 11th anniversary of Cromwell’s victory, begins a campaign to reclaim his heritage… 


This film has all the trappings of fantasy films and follows the formula to a T, but its a formula that obviously works as many films have done it ever since… realistically its the hero’s journey formula, so not just fantasy films use it: most films with action as their base use it.

The Sword and the Sorcerer uses it well though and the warriors are tough, but human, with just a touch of scoundrel thrown in. In the post Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars world in which this exists, that’s not surprising.

The action is occasionally hokey but has a ridiculous charm to it, and the acting is pure over-dramatized to the point its almost parody, but it sits perfectly with the confines of the film.

The actors chosen aren’t just the musclebound oafs that fantasy eventually promoted, and are far more in the tune of finely honed athletes, and the women are all beautiful: lucky for fantasy lands the dental plans are amazing.


I couldn’t continue with mentioning how awesome the score is too. Written by David Whitaker, it is a bombastic as one would expect a fantasy film of its ilk should be. I have it on vinyl and it gets a regular spin at my place… I certainly feel more heroic whilst doing the dishes when its on.

For me this is a perfect example of fantasy and I really enjoy watching it still after all these years.

Score: ****


Disc: This review was performed on the Australian release, region 4 DVD and runs for approximately 96 minutes. The film is presented in 16×9 widescreen and at best is an image that barely rises above VHS which is a shame. The soundtrack however is presented in either Dolby 2.0 or 5.1 and sounds just fine. I cant give this disc a high score though as the image is quite nasty.

Score: **

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this. 

First we have  two theatrical trailers and one TV spot, the funny thing about the trailers is the first one has gore and blood and boobs in it, and the second is a more ‘G’ (or maybe in those days ‘NRC’) rated event, with no blood, and the harem girl scene has all the women suddenly with clothes…BOOOOO HISSSSS!

There is a commentary by director Albert Pyun and host Chris Gore which nicely discusses the making of this film and the trials to make it. Its a great commentary which has a nice flow and is fascinating.

Also on this disc we have trailers for The Beastmaster, Barbarian Queen and The Perils of Gwendoline, all of which I’d watch without a second thought!

Score: ***

WISIA: I’ve watched it a hundred times and I’ll watch it a hundred more!

The Mutilator aka Fall Break (1984)

One from the to watch pile…
The Mutilator aka Fall Break (1984)

The cover to Arrow Video’s The Mutilator


Film: 80s slashers are totally my jam. I mean, love zombie films, and I totally dig schlocky action crap, and adore a low-budget scifi drama, love a big budgeted superhero film, but give me a slasher over any of those, any day of the week.

Slashers are my bacon, my ice cream, my chocolate. They are sex mixed with candy.

You get the point: I’m a little keen on them.

Anyway, during the VHS era, I watched hundreds of slashers, that is I had my favourite films that I repeatedly watched over and over, but I always jumped on a new slasher whenever a new one came into the video store I worked in.

This however, was one that passed me by, and I don’t recall ever seeing anything about it anywhere. I baulked at it when Arrow first offered it up, but picked it up cheaply via a sales website as I figured ‘it’s cheap, what the Heck?’

The Mutilator: Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) contemplates his beer.


The Mutilator tells of Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) who as a child was cleaning his father’s Big Ed’s (Jack Chatham) guns as a birthday pressie for him, when one accidentally discharged and blew a whole in dear old mother.

Big Ed, a hunter and all round manly sportsman, never quite got over it, and many years later, when Ed Jr is about to go on fall break, he contacts his son and ska him to go and close up their holiday condo on a small island, but does he have ulterior motives to get his son on an abandoned holiday island? And what will happen to the bunch of friends who accompany him?

The Mutilator: hunt, kill, repeat.


This film is directed by Buddy Cooper and John Douglass, from a script by Cooper: both of whom were ‘one and done as far as directing is concerned. This might have something to do with just how terrible the performances of the actors are, but that might have more to do with their skill (or absence of) than Cooper’s as his actual cinematography is actually quite good. Some of the scenes are corny though, and I mean, the Madman jacuzzi scene corny, that may be more to do with the accompanying score for what are supposed to be cutesy lovey dovey parts of the film, and the title track is something you’ll come to loathe, but that’s more because it features heavily on the menu screen… looped.

There is also some absolute stupidity in the film too which I imagine was perceived as being ‘comedy’ but comes of as out-of-place here, especially when you consider just how nasty some of the violence is… and there is some lady-parts that are just horribly done-over!!

None of what I have said should necessarily be taken as a wholehearted negative though, as this film is kitschy enough to be enjoyable in one of those eye-rolling, forehead-slapping ways. 

Score: ***1/2

Arrow’s animated, and audibly annoying menu screen for The Mutilator


Format: This UK Arrow films bluray release of The Mutilator runs for approximately 86 minutes and has a nicely restored, though occasionally artefacty 1.78:1 image with an excellent Mono 1.0 audio track, apparently retired from ‘original vault materials’ in 2k.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Before the films starts you have an option to start the film with an introduction from Cooper and make up/ editor assistant Edmund Ferrell. 

Typically, Arrow offer alternate cover for the bluray, and a booklet with essays about the film by Ewan Cant and Tim Ferrante, which are both informative and enjoyable.

Fall Breakers is a feature lengthen documentary/ retrospective about the making of the film. If only every release had something like this.

Tunes for the Dunes sees composer Michael Mainard talk about the films score. It’s an interesting look at the creation of tension and other filmic emotions using music.

Behind the Scenes reel is about 15 minutes of stuff that happened on set.

Screen Tests is just that, some screen tests of the Stars of the film.

There are two audio commentaries on this disc. The first one is labeled as ‘Cast and Crew’ and is hosted by Ewan Cant from Arrow video, with Cooper, Douglass, Mitler and Ferrell, and it’s a nice and informative commentary, well led by Cant. The other commentary is hosted again by Cant, and with Cooper again, but this time with final girl, Ruth Martinez.

Opening scene storyboards is a pretty cool look at the pencil sketches done to work out how the beginning of the film was going to look. It’s done to the audio of the opening scene of the film to give it clarity.

Trailers and TV Spots is a series of promotional bits for the film, some as Fall Break and some as The Mutilator.

There is an alternate opening title sequence with the title card of the Mutilator on it.

The is an option called ‘music’ which allows you to hear the title track from the film, but you hear it over and over on the menu screen, so it’s doubtful if you make it all the way through. It’s performed as both the original and as an instrumental only.

Gallery is a stills gallery of behind the scenes shots, but the song that by now you absolutely hate is being played again. I’m not normally a fan of stills galleries but this has some pretty cool behind the scenes images.

Score: *****

WISIA: 80s? Slasher? Hell yeah!

The Mutilator: put your toys away!!!

Graduation Day (1981) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Graduation Day (1981)

The cover the 88 Films’ Graduation Day BD release


Film: I love my 80s slasher films. From the Halloweens (yes I am aware that they started in the 70s, but predominantly the sequels hit in the 80s) and the Friday the 13ths and their imitators like The Burning, which I think is one of the finest slashers of all time, I love em all… to varying degrees…

I was very excited to see that 88 Films were making a bluray collection that focused on the slasher film. Excited, because it meant some of the lesser known and released slashers would get a working on bluray. 88 Films did a cool job with this collection too, all the cases in red and with thin, numbered spines, though some of the decisions made, like my previously reviewed Dead of Winter,  are a bit dubious.

Graduation Day: Patch MacKenzie as Anne Ramstead


This however is 1981’s Graduation Day, directed by Beyond Evil’s Herb Freed, who also co-wrote the story with Anne Marisse and it tells of a series of murders that are taking place in a town after a track star dies after a particularly stressful run, but why are these murders taking place? Is the runner’s sister, Anne (Patch MacKenzie) who has returned from military service responsible? Or is it the coach, (the unfortunately named) George Michaels (Christopher George) who has snapped after a feeling of responsibility for the girl’s death? 

Graduation Day: Michael Pataki as the Dean


Or is it someone else?!?

Honestly, it’s not the greatest slasher in the world, though some of the deaths are quite inventive. If it has any notoriety at all, it is due to the fact that the aforementioned Christopher George, star of Lucia Fulci’s City of the Living Dead stars in it, and a very young and pretty Linnea Quigley, scream queen extraordinaire and star of Return of the Living Dead amongst other films gets her very young and nubile boobies out.

So I guess at the very least it’s worth it for that.

Score: **

Graduation Day menu screen


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the UK 88 Films release from their Slasher Classics Collection (Volume 1 actually) and is presented in an OK 1.78:1 widescreen image, which has an occasional artefact, and a pretty good DYS-HD mono audio presentation.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for Calum Waddell’s doco Slice and Dice decent bunch of extras appear on this release of Graduation Day:

 First we have a documentary called Scream Queens: Horror Heroines Exposed which is hosted by Debbie Rochon, which talks about the ‘classic’ scream queens of the 80s. Thankfully it features Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer and Linda Quigley aka the REAL scream queens! It explores the entire ideal of the scream queen from nudity to crazy fans.

Graduation Memories, an interview with author and critic Justin Kerswell who talks about the film and its history.

Next we have a bunch of Troma extras which are, well, of Troma’s usual quality, if you know what I mean.

The Cannibal Lesbian Hoedown, a music video by Lloyd Kaufman and it’s exactly what you think it is… but with more boobs.

Tromantic Filmmaking Classroom: The Arm Rip shows how an arm rip effect can be done. It’s pretty dire and not very funny.

Interview with scream queen Linnea Quigley sees Quigley talk about her career.

Intro by Lloyd Kaufman which was made for a DVD release (which all of these are) and again, isn’t too funny.

Theatrical trailer is exactly what it says it is.

Speaking of trailers, there is also a bunch of trailers of 88 Films releases including Puppet Master, The Pit & the Pendulum, Demonic Toys, Bloody Birthday, Two Moon Junction, Doll Man, Bloodsucking Freaks, Puppet Master II, Puppet Master III, Tourist Trap and Castle Freak.

This release also has an interview card with a an article called Class Dismissed, in which Calum Waddell interviews star of Graduation Day Patch MacKenzie. This release also has a reversible cover with alternate art. 

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s an OK slasher but I can’t really see myself watching again.

Graduation Day: Linnea!!!

Society (1989) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Society (1989)

Arrow Films’ bluray of Society


Film: There is no doubt that David Cronenberg is the absolute king of body horror! Films like Rabid, The Fly and Videodrome are a doorway into a world where man is a pliable thing that can be manipulated. Brian Yuzna’s Society is the room that that doorway takes you to!

Yuzna is probably best know for producing the glorious horror film Re-animator, and got the bug to direct when he realised as a producer it’s hard to get money for a film if there is no director attached. When you intend on directing yourself, that’s not a problem.

… and there’s nothing wrong with Yuzna’s direction either! I am a great fan of some of his other films like Faust, Return of the Living Dead III and of course, Bride of Re-animator.

Did someone say Rottweiler? No? Good, let’s move on.

Society: Billy Warlock as Bill Whitney


Society tells of a young man, Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) who, like most teenagers, feel that something isn’t right in his life, even though he is a member of high society. He feels like his parents hate him, and that something is going on in his house behind his back. 

His suspicion is that his mother and father (Charles Lucia and Concetta D’Agnesse) are engaged in a sexual relationship with his sister (Patrice Jennings)

But it is so much more than that.

As the story goes on, Bill discovers that there may be a HUGE conspiracy involving his entire family, his schoolmates (including Devon Devasquez and Ben Meyerson) and other members of society… but it might be more than what he suspects…

Immediately one has to talk about the absolutely ridiculously amazing special effects work of Screaming Mad George, also know for his work on films like Guyver, Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and the aforementioned Faust. His work is surreal and cartoony, which fits this film perfectly, but it has an element of it’s elastic doughiness that’s really disturbing.

The story really has an underlying story about class distinction and prejudice, but the story, acting and effects are so over the top it’s hard to really get any message out of it, but who cares: it’s freaky as hell and great fun to watch!

Typically, Arrow have made a masterful copy of this film on an extras-filled disc that is just spectacular.

Score: ****

The menu screen to Arrow Films’ Society


Format: This film was reviewed on the Arrow Pictures bluray release which is multi region and runs for 99 minutes. The film is presented in a really great 1.85:1 images with an equally great stereo 2.0 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: As usual, Arrow have delivered on the extras front:

Governor of Society sees Brian Yuzna talk about not just the making of the film, but also the steps it took to get to actually get it made. Filmmaking sounds like it takes a LOT of patience to get through.

Masters of the Hunt is a featurette containing interviews with Billy Warlock, Devon DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartel. It’s a nice bunch of recollections of their careers and experiences on the making of this film.

Champion of the Shunt talks to Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson about the special effects for the film. Being a practical effects nut, I found this extra particularly fascinating!

Brian Yuzna Q&A is just that, but taken after a screening of Society in 2014. the quality is average, but his stories are interesting.

Brian Yuzna – Society Premiere is archival footage of Yuzna at the world premiere of the film at the Scala Cinema in London, circa 1989. The quality of the film is a step down again, but it’s still co plenteous audible.

There is a theatrical trailer of the film.

Also, we have a Screaming Mad George music video which is as weird as one would expect, but still pretty cool.

The movie also has a commentary by Yuzna, hosted by David Gregory which is amusing and informative throughout.

This edition also has a reversable sleeve with original artwork on the alternate cover, and a pretty cool booklet with an article by Frightfest curator Alan Jones. Also included in a slightly lesser quality DVD release of the film.

One warning though: the ‘Society’ song being played on the menu screen gets real old, real quick!

Score: *****

WISIA: I hadn’t seen this film since probably 1990, and now I have it in my collection on bluray, I’ll be watching it probably monthly!

Society: Devon DeVasquez as… hang on, are her…?

Amsterdamned (1988) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Amsterdamned (1988)

Shameless Screen Entertainment’s DVD release of Amsterdamned


Film: Shameless Screen Entertainment (henceforth referred to as SSE) are very clever when it comes to the way they release films. As a collector, I am nutty about getting every disc in a numbered collection, and to have the spines make up the company name any various images just makes my brain absolutely freak out if I am missing just one.

SSE have made a few mistakes with their layout of the collection which has caused double ups and other criticisms, but mostly I have been happy with the films they have released, in this case, and number 37 in the collection, we have the Dutch action/ giallo Amsterdamned.

A killer is stalking the streets of Amsterdam… well, not the streets: he travels from victim to victim via the canals, dressed in a diving suit. Our hero, tough guy police officer Eric Vissel (Huub Stapel) is on the case after the discovery of a victim, a prostitute, who was left hanging from a bridge by her feet over a canal.

Amsterdamned: police work at work.


As the body count increases, the pressure on Vissel to capture him does too, but will he and his 80s mullet have the police skills to do so?

So is this a giallo or an action film? Personally I’m not sure, but knowing that director Dick Maas is such a fan of American films, I’d say the latter. The movie is steeped in 80s fashion and there are mullets as far as the eye can see, but the one thing that is omnipresent is the attempt to replicate the bombasticity of the 80s action film which isn’t quite 100% pulled off as there is still a reserved Northern European-ness to it.

Here lies the problem. The film is confused by its identity and doesn’t quite pull off the inherent nastiness and sleaze of a giallo, nor is its machismo fully in place enough for it to feel like a proper action film.

The motorcycle chase scene has to be singled out and identified as pretty amazing. The stunt driver on the bike looks like he’s going to stack it on more than one occasion and has DNA entrenched in The Italian Job… OK, that might be overselling it somewhat, but it’s a pretty cool 3 minute chase. The real winner in this film is the boat chase. Some truly outstanding manipulation of speedboats in the canal make for an epically cool, almost James Bond-y sequence.

Unfortunately the dubbing is occasionally laughable. Not the dialogue itself (though at times it is a bit hokey), but certainly the execution of it. The accents of the characters are… actually I don’t know WHAT they are! I have known several Dutch people over the years and this isn’t quite what their accent sounds like!

If I’m totally honest with this review, and I am always honest, this is about the eighth time I have attempted to watch this film. Why so many? Well, I have fallen asleep during it every single time.

Amsterdamned: dead hooker on a canal boat


That’s not generally a glowing recommendation and it’s not that this is any worse a story than many second string giallos, it’s just paced quite oddly and that makes it feel longer than it is.

Score: **

Shameless Screen Entertainment’s Amsterdamned DVD menu


Format: Amsterdamned was reviewed on the SSE UK DVD which runs for approximately 109 minutes and is presented in a slightly above average 16×9 letterboxed image with an apparently remastered, and quite clear, Dolby 2.0 audio. It’s not digital perfection, but it’s ok.

Score: ***

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for other SSE movies The House With Laughing Windows, Dellamorte Dellamore and 4 Flies on Grey Velvet, before we get to the menu screen.

Other extras on this disc though, include Amsterdamned: the City – the Film – the Makers is a dubbed making-of documentary that is actually pretty interesting even though its quality is not the sharpest, which isn’t a criticism of the doco, but just a reflection of the video of the time. 

There’s an image gallery, which I hate!! Not this one in particular though as it shows promo pics and advertising rather than just movie stills.

In addition to the aforementioned trailers, we also have trailers for The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh, Almost Human, The New York Ripper, Don’t Torture a Duckling, Cannibal Holocaust and House on the Edge of the Park. The is also a ‘still’ trailer advertising a company called ‘Argent’.

There is also a Dutch, English and American trailer for the film.

SSE have also given us a reversible cover for this release.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I probably won’t watch it again, just because it took me so long to get through it once!

Amsterdamned: getting a little head on a boat

Countdown to Halloween Review #4: Night of the Demons (1988)

One from the re-watch pile…
Night of the Demons (1988)


Film: I find it hard to criticise films from the 80s as this was when I really became a super horror fan. I’d liked monster movies before this decade, but early 80s still really distilled my love and made me the horror fan I am today.

It’s with a slight bit of embarrassment that I admit to this being not just because of stories of murder and mayhem, but also due to the ‘scream queen’ culture, and the names associated, like Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Debbie Rochon and the legendary Linnea Quigley. It was not always necessary due to Academy Award (r) acting performances that I admired these women, but more due to a more physical aspect of their performances.


Ok, because they were nude quite regularly, and I’m a fan of boobies.

So what is this film about?

Weirdo Angela (Amelia Kinkade) and her friend, the facile Suzanne (Linnea Quigley) have decided to hold a Halloween party for their friends, but what they don’t realise is, is that she is holding the party at the notorious Hill House, an old mortuary that has several legends of awful things happening associated with its history.


Of course, the moronic groups of sex-crazed teens decided to hold a seance, which of course causes one of them to become possessed, who then passes the ‘infection’ on, slowly turning all the group into demonic distorted images of themselves, but who will survive, and what sort of condition will they be left in?

Badly acted and a stupid story with bloodshed and bodacious boobies: it’s all the great things about 80s horror condensed into 90 odd minutes of fun.

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of Night of the Demons was the 2004 release, region 1 DVD from Anchor Bay, and it hasn’t really aged to well, especially with our fancy new equipment that we have now, 12 years later, that’s not to say it’s unwatchable, but it could do with a touch up here and there. This edition is the unrated version with additional gore and violence (the cover slick’s words, not mine) and is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with a Dolby Digital ‘Ultra Stereo’ soundtrack.

Score: ***

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this DVD, of which the video quality on them all is lacking.

My Demon Nights is an interview with Linnea Quigley looking back at her career at her experiences on Night of the Demons. It’s interesting but ultimately superficial.

There is also a commentary with director Tenney, executive producer Walter Josten and Producer Jeff Geoffray.

There are two trailers, one the theatrical and the other the video, and three TV spots for the film.

Promo Reel seems to be a promotional piece for video store owners to tempt them into taking Night of the Demons into their shops for rental. It’s actually quite an interesting piece of propaganda!

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s one of my true loves from the 80s, and it gets a regular spin at my place.