Lady Stay Dead (1981)

One from the to watch pile…

Lady Stay Dead (1981)

Film: Several years ago, Australian filmmaker Mark Hartley made a documentary called ‘Not Quite Hollywood’, and I curse him every day for that marvellous piece of work. Why do I curse him? Well I knew very little about ‘those’ Australian films, and that doco turned into a shopping list that has subsequently cost me hundreds of dollars in film purchases.

The main film that intrigued me on the documentary was this one, Lady Stay Dead, mainly due to the fact that I was completely unaware of its existence. Whilst I may not have seen some of the other films, I had certainly heard of them at least, but this one was a mystery.

Written and directed by Terry Bourke, whose resume also contains films like Inn of the Damned, Plugg and Night of Fear, not to mention a TV series that few remember but was one I liked as a child called Catch Kandy, this film is an interesting beast.

Gordon (Chard Hayward) is a professional Gardner, but his paid work isn’t what defines him… it’s his hobby as an abuser of women! His job sees him maintaining the grounds of celebrity Marie Colby (Deborah Coulls), an abusive cow who through her insults finally drives Gordon to make her his next victim, but when she resists and continues the abuse, he snaps and drowns her in a fish tank. When is disposal of the body is witnessed by a neighbour, Gordon realises that he must kill again, but these attacks will start a series of events that may bring about Gordon’s downfall. Has he left too many clues to his hobby, or will he get away with it again?

There is no doubt that this film has been wrapped in Ozploitation, and then triple dipped in sleaze! The story is a mix of the previous year’s Bill Lustig film ‘Maniac’ and 1975’s ‘L’assassino é Costretto ad Uccidere Ancora’, aka ‘The Killer Must Kill Again’, but with a fair dinkum beachside locale and a bunch of hot Aussie chick who all get their kit off!

Now that may sound great but there are a few drawbacks. The acting is dire, and I mean as if the actors are reading off cue cards dire! Also, the soundtrack if a mix of terrible ‘I Never Been To Me’ styled pop songs, and elevator music circa. 1973. I’m no music critic but this stuff poisoned my ears.

This films as Australian as they come, so Ozploitation fans really need to have this in their collection, but unfortunately, it’s just not very good. When neither the victim or perpetrator in a film have any charisma, you are off to a pretty bad start, but then this cliched farce has NO suspense and some really laughable dialogue and acting, so there is no salvation at all.

It does however feature Australian legend and actor from Mad Max and Turkey Shoot, Roger Ward, so all is not lost. Worth watching for cultural embarrassment only.

Score: **

Format: Lady Stay Dead was reviewed with the Code Red, multi-region Bluray which runs for approximately 94 minutes, and presented with a 1.78:1 image with a mono audio track, and considering the age of the film, aren’t too bad at all. There a are few artefacts and marks here and there but no so persistently that is becomes a distraction.

Score: ***

Extras: There is only one extra on this disc and it is called Banana and the Lady. It’s an introduction to the film by former-wrestler Katarina Leigh Waters on something called ‘Bucket List Theatre’ and she proves that as a presenter, she is a great former-wrestler. Why is it called ‘Banana and the Lady’? Well it starts with a guy in a banana suit replicating one of the scenes in the film, but this time it ends with him blowing a bad CGI load over the lens.

One thing I did find disappointing about this release is the menu screen image highlights Katarina’s stupid bit rather than the actual movie, which seems disrespectful to the movie, if you ask me.

Score: *

WISIA: I doubt very much of this will get another watch here at the ol’ To Watch Pile.

Tenebrae (1982)

One from the very top of the rewatch pile…

Tenebrae (1982)

The cover of my well worn Arrow edition of Tenebrae.

Film:

In 1929, Italian publishing company Mondadori started publishing a series of crime books that had garish yellow covers. It is from here that the Italian thriller/ horror film gets its name: giallo, the Italian word for yellow. The films from the early sixties started as adaptation of these early thrillers, but eventually became a genre of their own. The main characteristics of the giallo film take elements from detective stories and slasher films, with operatic elements and a large dose of blood, gore, violence and nudity. While many films from Italian directors can come under the ‘giallo’ title, the masters are truly Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Dario Argento, son of producer Salvatore Argento, began his career as a writer for a film journal, before heading into screen writing. He worked for Sergio Leone on such films as Once Upon Time in the West before heading into his own movies, thrillers that kept in mind his childhood love of Italian folk lore, the tales of the Brothers Grimm, but most of all, the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. Argento is responsible for some of the greatest horror films ever: Deep Red, Suspiria, and this one -Tenebrae.

Author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) has come to Rome to promote his latest novel, titled Tenebrae. His arrival is marred, however, by a series of killings that copy those in his novel. The police, Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma) and Detective Altieri (Carols Stagnaro) are frustrated by the murderer, who is directly referencing Neal by leaving pages from his novel at the crime scenes.

Anthony Franciosa asks Daria Niccolodi how one can star in more Argento films.

Neal, along with his agent, Bullmer (John Saxon), his assistant, Anne (Daria Niccolodi)and his other employees begin their own investigation to uncover the identity of the killer…but what Neal doesn’t realise is that someone, an ex-lover, Jane (Veronica Lario) is in pursuit of him, but what is HER connections to killing? Does she even HAVE a connection?

John Saxon – legend.

Tenebrae is the film that saw Argento return to traditional giallo after his sojourn into the supernatural with his previous two films Suspiria and Inferno, two chapters of his so called (and as of early 2006 unfinished) ‘Three Mothers’ trilogy and then right back into it with his next film Phenomena. With its rich exterior shots of some exquisite Italian locations, and an unusually bright palette for a horror film…a lot of the murders take place in broad daylight, Tenebrae is a pleasure to watch. Some really great performances by the actors, and some great bloody effects, particularly a brilliant axe murder.

I must admit that Tenebrae is one of those ‘perfect storm’ horror movies for me. My favourite director, an interesting story, a great soundtrack, a big dash of violence, John Saxon and beautiful Italian women. I honestly think there is only one horror film that is better than this one and that is Re-animator.

Score: *****

The menu for the Arrow Bluray Of Tenebrae.

Format: This film was reviewed with the Arrow Video multi-region Bluray release from 2011, which runs for approximately 101 minutes. It is presented in a grainy, but clear 1.85:1 and a good mono audio track.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Some amazing extras on this disc, but you’d expect nothing less from Arrow! Before the disc, though, the package contains four options for the cover of the disc, a poster of the new disc art and a booklet about the film written by Alan Jones.

There are two commentaries on this disc, both which are super interesting. The first is with horror journalism legends Kim Newman and Alan Jones, and the other is with screenwriter Thomas Rostock.

Screaming Queen! Daria Niccolodi Remembers Tenebrae is an interesting interview where she talks about her character in this film, and her history in cinema and with Argento.

The Unsane World Of Tenebrae: An Interview With Dario Argento where he talks about his career and Tenebrae.

A composition for Carnage: Claudio Simonetti on Tenebrae sees the lead player in the band Goblin and composer (as well as hero of mine) Claudio Simonetti discuss his work on this film and his career.

Goblin: Tenebrae and Phenomena Live from the Glasgow Arches is footage from 2011 of Claudio Simonetti and New Goblin playing live. I admit I caught them in Sydney in 2015 so seeing this brought back fond memories.

Trailer is, well, the trailer for the film.

Score: *****

WISIA: Tenebrae is one of my favourite films of all time so it gets regularly rewatched, and it should be by you, too!

Sometimes, guests arrive when you are still getting ready.

The Slayer (1982)

One from the to watch pile…

The Slayer (1982)

Film: Even though I am taking this from the ‘Re Watch Pile’, I am actually regarding it as a ‘To Watch Pile’ contender as the only way I have seen it before was on a pretty awful DVD release from the UK from several years ago. I remember seeing the video cover at my local video shop, but never got to hire it as there must have been some other horror fan in my area who totalled bogarted this tape and no one else EVER got to watch it. He’ll, I even had a copy of the poster hanging up in my bedroom as a kid.

The Slayer was written and directed by J.S. Cardone, who also gave us Puppetmaster and the remake of Prom Night, and co-written by Bill Ewing, who also produced the film.

Artist Kay Church (Sarah Kendall) has always had nightmares, and she exorcises the images from them through her art. On the eve of an important art show, her husband David (Alan McRae), brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his wife, Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook), decide to take her away to a secluded island to rest and relax and wind down after the child up to the show.

Once on the island, though, Kaye gets a weird feeling like she has been there before, even though the island is mostly abandoned during the off tourist season, and she starts to recognise places on the island that she has painted from her memory.

Kaye feels off the whole time on the island, and when her husband goes missing, things begin to unravel.. has she actually been here before or has she been getting premonitions about the place that feel like a warning, and when the deaths start happening, who, or what is responsible….

For its time, The Slayer is unusual as the trend was really mainly sexy, slutty teens being killed and this clearly features adults in peril. It also doesn’t feature a murder event ten minutes to keep the short attention spanned audience interested either, and instead slowly tells a story of a woman who may be descending into madness.

I really like this movie. It’s not just a good watch, it’s also a charming document of the time (smoking in a 6 seater Cessna is something no-one under 30 could even comprehend, let alone pass by without a complaint to the management) and has some pretty creepy bits in it, and a left field ending that in lesser hands could potentially have not worked, but actually works really well within the context of the universe the film exists in.

Score: ****

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Arrow Video multiregion Bluray, and is presented in a nicely restored 1.78:1 image with a decent Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It was nice to actually SEE this film for the first time and not on some terribly mastered DVD.

Score: ****

Extras: It’s an Arrow Video release, so you expect there to be HEAPS of extras, and there is!

First, the film is available here on both a Bluray and a DVD version, and the packaging has a reversible sleeve, one with an original image from the film, and the other by Justin Osbourn, which is amazing! There is also a booklet with articles by film historian Lee Gambin and Arrow’s Ewan Cant.

Nightmare Island: The Making Of the Slayer is an exhaustive almost hour long documentary about the making of the film and a great mix of talent are interviewed for it, including writer/ director Cardone, actress Kottenbrook, production executive Eric Weston and a bunch of others. It is a fascinating look at the whole process with some interesting anecdotes from all involved.

Return to Tybee: the Location Of The Slayer is a look at Tybee Island, where the film was made, today. The best thing is in the film there us a dilapidated old cinema which has been restored to its former glory, and enjoying a showing of The Slayer.

The Tybee Post Theatre Experience features the screening mentioned above (which can be watched on this disc with the sound of the audience played as well), and also has a speech from Arrow’s Ewan Cant and a Q&A with the films DoP Arledge Armenaki.

There is a stills gallery which is a slideshow with a combination of behind the scenes stuff and stills from the film, with the soundtrack played over the top.

There is a trailer.

Finally, there is a commentary with Cardone, Weston and Kottenbrook, another one with The Hysteria Continues (a horror podcast from the UK), an isolated composer score track with accompanying interview and finally a repeat of the Tybee Post theatre audio track!

Score: *****

WISIA: As I mentioned, I’d only ever seen this as a pretty poor quality DVD which was a chore to watch, but now I’ve seen it in this cleaned-up version, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back.

Happy Death Day (2017)}

One from the to watch pile…

Happy Death Day (2017)

Film: It is occasionally pretty cool when a film takes inspiration from another source, and extends its ideas out to make it its own. Sure it could be a travesty, it when it works it can be interesting. This film is one of those time-loop styled stories which you can tell immediately from the opening of the film, with Universal’s titles, which suggests it with a not-so-subtle hint of playing over and over a few times.

This film is directed by Christopher Landon who has a smart eye of being able to combine genres as could be told with his Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, here joining horror, time-loop scifi and collegiate-styled, John Hughes-ian teen comedies. His advantage here is a smart script by comic writer, Scott Lobdell, who created the mutant team Generation X, as well as writing other titles such as Alpha Flight, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Sorority sister Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is, to put it bluntly, an absolute bitch. She wakes up one morning in the bed of Carter (Israel Broussard), on a day which happens to be her birthday, and prepares for the walk of shame back to her sorority house. At the end of the day, whilst walking to a party, she is murdered… and then wakes up back at the beginning of the day, and very quickly realises… well, after living and dying in the same day several times… that the only way to move on to the next day is to solve her own murder.

During the course of her birthday, we are introduced to a bunch of people who could be responsible: The bitter ex-lover, the hateful sorority sister, the friendly sorority sister whom she disrespects, the wife of the professor she’s bonking, her disappointed father and just so many others… but who is it?

That’s the mystery, and can Tree discover who it is before her lives run out?

The film is a pastiche of Groundhog Day, Mean Girls and every slasher film ever made, especially Scream as we see our masked villain is of the human variety, and can be hurt, and not an unstoppable Michael/ Jason type.

Typically with these sorts of ‘groundhog day’ films, everything you see happen and every movement made by various actors is really quite deliberate so it can be easily replicated on each new pass and honestly, the over exaggeration of some of the players is a touch blatant, to the point of distraction, but honestly that’s my only criticism of the film.

Those who love a bloody, gory slasher may be disappointed as this film isn’t one of those at all. The kills aren’t inventive, though they are sometimes surprising, but this film is more about the victim than the blood.

I have to give a specific shout out to Jessica Rothe who plays her role brilliantly, and wasn’t afraid of her character going from total glamourpuss to horrendously dishevelled victim. The character gets weaker every time she is killed so her appearance suffers.

Derivative with its idea but innovative with its execution, Happy Death Day is a thrilling, intriguing and funny version of a cinematic trope that has a nice bunch of twist and turns, and even pays direct tribute to the film that obviously inspired it, Groundhog Day.

Score: ****1/2

Format: Happy Death Day was reviewed with the Australian multi-region Bluray which runs for approximately 96 minutes. As one would expect from a modern film, both the 2.40:1 image and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with previews for Pacific Rim Uprising and Pitch Perfect 3 before hitting the menu screen. The other extras are:

Alternate Ending is just what the title would suggest it is and it’s an amusing alternative, but they definitively went with the right one.

Deleted Scenes, as usual, are an interesting distraction but the film ultimately benefits without them.

Worst Birthday Ever looks at the aspects of the ‘time-loop’ movie.

Behind the Mask: The Suspects looks at all the potential perpetrators of the crime, and the design of the killer’s mask.

The Many Deaths of Tree isn’t about the destruction of the rainforests, but instead about the various ways in which Tree dies through the film.

Unfortunately none of the extras last very long.

Score: ***

WISIA: This movie was great and I can’t wait to watch it again.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The cover of the Australian Bluray


Film: After veering away from the legend of Michael Myers with the wonderful Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the producers of the series dropped themselves right back into the tale of Michael Myers due to III’s poor reaction, which honestly I never understood as I thought III was cool.

The filmmakers abandoned the Halloween series for a few years before bringing back Haddonfield’s Number 1 son, 6 years from number 3, and a whole 7 years from number 2, which was the last time we saw Myers and there still must have been a market for it as it spawned an immediate sequels, 1989’s Halloween 5 (which continued the ‘Jamie’ storyline) which then led to 1995’s The Curse of Michael Myers, before then being relaunched AGAIN in 1998 with H20: 20 Years Later.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was written by Alan B. McElroy who wrote the Spawn comic movie and Wrong Turn, a movie I love, and was directed by Dwight H. Little, who gave us 1989’s The Phantom of the Opera, starring Robert England and the Steven Seagal classic Marked for Death.

Jamie (Danielle Harris) dons a familiar Halloween costume.


The film starts ten years after the events of the first film with the transfer of Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) from one mental health facility, under the care of Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) but without his knowledge, who, with a bit of cinematic conversational exposition, Michael finds out that he has a niece, and so his need to commit sororicide now extends to his sister’s daughter… 

He escapes the ambulance he is being transferred with, and proceeds to make his way back to Haddonfield, where his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), now resides with her adoptive family, including sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell).

Jamie isn’t settling into her new family very well as she keeps having visions of a shape threatening her, and very quickly those visions come true, as Michael threat become real, and not just Jamie and Rachel are in trouble, but anyone who crosses Michael’s path… lucky for them though, Loomis is in hot pursuit…

Immediately one must point out that this was the first film to star a very young Danielle Harris, who is now quite the horror icon due to her appearance in both this and it’s immediate sequel (she was replace by another actor in The Curse of Michael Myers), and things like Urban Legend (1998) and Blood Night (2009) and even returned to the Halloween series in Rob Zombie’s remakes playing the ‘new’ Annie Brackett. The reason she became so iconic was she plays her role like a real kid in this and not only isn’t annoying but also plays it with a great deal of depth and heart.

I’ll take you home again, Kathleen……..


Also, I have to say I like the fact that former crush of mine Kathleen Kinmont, known for She-wolves of the Wasteland and even better, Bride of Re-animator, appears in this and set my heart aflutter again even after all these years.

The 80s really were a time for some direly bad sequels, but this isn’t one of them. Is it as good as Halloween 1 or 2? Hell, no, but it is a decent example of 80s horror cinema, and is an entertaining watch.

Score: ***1/2

The Australian Bluray menu


Format: The reviewed copy of the film was the Umbrella Entertainment multiregion Blu-ray Disc, which runs for approximately 88 minutes and is presented in a not-to-sharp 1.85:1 visual with an excellent Dolby 5.1 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There is only three extras on this disc:

The first is a commentary by our female leads Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris and their reflections on the filming and their respective careers is interesting.

Next we have a discussion panel with the cats and crew of Halloweens 4 and 5 which is fun and interesting and a nice addition to the extras. Kathleen Kinmont is particularly entertaining.

Finally, a trailer for Halloween 4.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: To me the best thing this film ever really did was introduce the world to Danielle Harris: it IS entertaining, but the beginning of the end for the series, and a relaunch that probably didn’t need to happen.

Loomis (Donald Pleasance) looks upon Myers’ carnage.

The Funhouse (1981) 

One from the re watch pile…
The Funhouse (1981)

Arrow’s UK Bluray cover of The Funhouse


Film: To most people, Tobe Hooper peaked early in his career with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but I disagree. I am not the world’s biggest fan of TCM at all, in actually fact I find it to be poorly paced, with a really great payoff, I’ll grant you, but with quite possibly the world’s most annoying character, Franklin.

For me though, it’s Hooper post TCM and 80s output I like better: Eaten Alive, Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars, and even Tcm’s sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2! Another one of those I like is this film, The Funhouse, written by Larry Block aka Lawrence Block, whose only other real credit was the Matt Salinger Captain America movie made almost ten years after this.

Elizabeth Berridge in a not-so-famous shower scene.


The Funhouse tells of Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) and her blond date, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee) along with friends, Liz (Largo Woodruff) and her boyfriend, Ritchie (Miles Chaplin) who decide, against Amy’s father’s wishes, to visit a travelling carnival, but they get more than what they bargain for.

They decide to spend the night in the Funhouse, but unfortunately bear witness to the carnival barker’s (Kevin Conway) deformed son (Wayne Doba), kill the sideshow fortune teller (Sylvia Miles) after an unsuccessful sexual transaction. 

So there they are, trapped in a carnival attraction overnight, pursued by madness… will they all survive.

Oh, the freak show is gonna have freaks (Wayne Doba)


I dig this film. It’s classic 80s with weirdo characters and ridiculous practical make-ups, obnoxious jocks who are the good guys, virginal heroines (who’s boobs we get to see, which is an odd juxtaposition), slutty ‘best’ friends who tease their friend about being virginal, and a bizarre environment.

The acting is of a level one would expect from a film of this era, but Kevin Conway in his multiple roles as three different carnival barkers adds a bizarre almost respectability to the whole film, even though he is as creepy as hell, and the ultimate abusive parental figure.

I only saw this film for the first time when this release came out in 2011, and have been a fan ever since, mainly due to the overall tone of the film and the fact that I am an 80s connoisseur, though the fact I find both Elizabeth Berridge and Largo Woodruff cute doesn’t hurt either.

Recommended for fans of 80s slashers.

Score: ***1/2

UK Bluray menu


Format: This Arrow U.K. Multi-region Bluray release runs for approximately 95 minutes and is presented in a nice 2.35:1 image with a good stereo 2.0 audio. As one would expect the image is slightly grainy at times, and fairly artefact free.

Score: ***

Extras: There’s no shortage of extras on this disc.

First, three… count them… THREE commentaries! One by film critic/ journalists Calum Waddell and Justin Kerswell, the next by Craig Reardon and Jeffrey Reddick, and the last by Derek Power and Howard S. Berger. They are three completely different styles of commentary but all have areas of interest.

Next there is a trailer for the film.

Carnage at the Carnival sees Tobe Hooper reflect on his experiences in the making of Funhouse.

Miles of Mayhem has Miles Chapin, who played Ritchie, recollect on his experiences on the film and how every decision his character made screwed the futures of the other main characters.

The Make-up Madness of Craig Reardon looks at Reardon’s history with special effects in Hooper’s films.

Masterclass of Horror sees fellow horror director, and creator of Masters of Horror, Mick Garris talk about Tobe Hooper.

Tobe Hooper Q &A is a fairly poor quality interview with Hooper around the time of the release of his 2004 film, The Toolbox Murders. Despite the quality, it’s an interesting Q & A.

Stills Gallery is a slideshow of the make up and other behind the scenes shenanigans.

This is one of Arrow’s releases that has the multiple covers, 4 in total, a poster of the film and an illustrated essay booklet by horror historian and author Kim Newman.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s a fun 80s slasher and yeah, I’ll be watching it again.

Largo Woodruff taunts her best friend for being a virgin.

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!!!

Christmas Eve bonus: All Through The House (2015) Review

Have we all be good little people this year… is Santa going to visit?

… or will it be THIS guy?

One from the to watch pile… and have a fantastic Christmas. Thank you all so much for your support since the creation of the site.

All Through The House (2015)

All Through The House bluray cover


Film: Christmas and genre films go together hand-in-hand. Black Christmas and it’s remake, the Silent Night, Deadly Nights, Gremlins, Christmas Evil, Jack Frost, Silent Night Bloody Night, Santa’s Slay, Sint, Krampus, P2… the list goes on, and that’s not to mention the comedy’s and action films. Ne’er a Christmas season goes by without Die Hard and Home Alone getting a spin in my house.

In this wonderful tradition, writer director Todd Nunes delivered a slasher tribute that firmly entrenches its roots in the tradition of the silly season. This film is based on his short film, Here Comes Santa, but expanded into a full feature.

All Through The House: Rachel (Ashley Mary Nunes) dressed for Christmas


Rachel (Ashley Mary Nunes) has returned home from college for the Christmas break, but unfortunately, so has a killer dressed in a Santa Claus outfit (Lito Velasco) and a horrible old-man mask, but what does this have to do with town kook, Mrs Garret (Melinda Kiring), Rachel’s missing mother, and Mrs Garret’s daughter, the institutionalised Jamie?

All Through The House: Kooky Mrs Garrett (Melinda Kiring)


Nunes has nailed the slasher tropes with this film… it’s like cinema never moved on from 1985! The girls are sexy and bimbo-y, and the guys are empty headed and oversexed morons, and the killer hides his face behind a grotesque mask. If it wasn’t for a few of the modern day bits in here, and the fact the film’s quality is crystal clear.

Even better that all that: practical effects! Actual proper non-CGI effects! Now, I don’t have a problem with CGI as a rule, but to see a film like this done with practical effects is almost a relief, me they are plentiful: two head stabs and two dick removals within the first 30 minutes, and don’t think kids and pets are safe from Santa’s shears either!

All through the film I got a real original Black Christmas vibe about it, which isn’t a bad thing, and there are heaps of occasions where there seem to be direct homages to other famous slasher films, like Tourist Trap and Halloween. Even the overacting and red herring jump scares feel familiar, but he has executed this without it feeling contrived, or just a flat out rip off.

I honestly find it difficult to find too much wrong with this film, though the final fight scene looks like it was choreographed by a complete amateur, which is a bummer. Above that though, I had an absolute blast.

Score: ****

All Through The House menu screen


Format: This Monster Pictures bluray release of All Through the House runs for approximately 88 minutes and has an super-clear 1.75:1 image with a matching Dolby digital DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track. 

Score: *****

Extras: Unfortunately, you’ve all been bad this year, so Santa left you no extras at all. Shame, as I wouldn’t have minded seeing the short film it was based on: I’ll have to try and be a good boy for next Christmas.

Score: 0

WISIA: Every Christmas, without fail, I’m gonna watch this film.

All Through The House: don’t run with scissors!

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