The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

One from the re watch pile…
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

The cover of the Australian Umbrella release of The Devil’s Rejects


Film: When Rob Zombie burst onto the scene of filmmaker, temporarily turning his back on music, a lot of people were in anticipation of what he’d do, and his film The House of 1,000 Corpses burst onto the scene, dividing the horror community into haters and lovers of its obvious tribute to 70s exploitation film, but with the quick cut/ short attention span editing of the MTV and VEVO generation.

Looking like a 90 minute version of one of his film clips, 1,000 Corpses introduced us the the wonderfully awful Firefly family: Mother Firefly (played by Karen Black in that film, but by Leslie Easterbrook in this one), Tiny (Matthew McGrory), Rufus (Robert Allen Mukes originally, played by an uncredited Tyler Mane here), Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and their obsession with murder, death and mayhem, but what happens when a family like that gets the police, who were bound to catch up with them eventually due to their sloppy forensic countermeasures, appearing, armed to the teeth on their front doorstep.

Zombie wrote and directed this film which won a bunch of Fangoria Chainsaw and Scream awards and was nominated for another whole bunch of awards including the Best Horror Picture for the Rondos and the Golden Schmoes, not to mention a Satellite award for its original DVD release…wow, was the 11 years ago already?!?

The Fireflys: Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie and Bill Moseley.


This tale sees the Firefly family on the run from the law. Mother Firefly has been caught by the police, but Otis, Baby and Spaulding and on the run, taking various people prisoner along the way to assist in their escape.

Their big problem, though is a cop by the name of Sherrie Wydell (William Forsythe) whose capacity for dogged pursuit is infallible, and whose methods probably aren’t exactly ‘police procedure’.

Will our heroes (?) get away from the cops and the bounty hunters they hired (Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page) and make their way to Spaulding’s brother, Charlie’s (Ken Foree), or will their lives end in a bloody shootout.

William Forsyth as Sherrif Wydell


As you can see by the list of cast members I’ve named so far, Zombie’s loves getting old school horror and exploitation actors but there’s heaps more: The Hills Have Eyes Michael Berryman, Night of the Comet’s Geoffrey Lewis, Lords of the Deep’s Priscilla Barnes, Halloween’s P.J. Soles, Dr. Alien’s Ginger Lynn… oh, the list goes on! It’s a 70s/ 80s horror film fan’s wet dream.

This is a pretty full-on film and the violence, both physical and mental, is not for the easily disturbed. Zombies cinematic language is in full swing too, with the heat of the desert, the dripping sense of sleaziness and slow motion shots that make you ache in anticipation, but here, unlike 1,000 Corpses, he uses them far more effectively.

I’m an unabashed fan of Rob Zombie, but not to the point where I think he is some infallible god of music and cinema. I really love House of 1,000 Corpses, but I am well aware of its failings. With this film though, Zombie has managed to distill what was right about that film and improve it. The Devil’s Rejects isn’t as good as say, The Lords of Salem (which I adore), but it’s pretty damned good. Watch it as a double with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 For good measure!

Score: ****1/2

The menu screen for Umbella’s Australian Bluray release


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was done with Umbrella Entertainments Australian region B Bluray release which runs for approximately 110 minutes. The film is presented in a crisp and sharp 1.77:1 image with an amazing Dolby 6.1 audio track. 

Score: *****

Extras: Heaps of extras on this disc! Some of them are background ‘flavour’ bits from the film, but unfortunately no proper ‘making-of’.

Bloody Stand-up sees comedian Brian Posehn do a short stand up routine… whilst he has a bucket load of blood and make-up all over him.

Matthew McGrory Tribute is a nice short reflection on Matthew ‘Tiny’ McGrory’s life. He passed away just after the filming of this film and during the production of a biopic about wrestler Andre the Giant.

Buck Owens: Satan’s Got To Get Along Without Me is a filmclip of Buck Owens singing that very song. It’s twangalicious!

“Mary the Monkey Girl” Commercial is a commercial for Captain Spaulding’s latest attraction.

Captain Spaulding’s Xmas Commercial is a commercial for Spaulding’s Christmas promotion.

Otis’s Home Movies is footage of the depravities Otis committed upon his victims.

Deleted Scenes features 11 scenes deleted from the film. Normally I don’t have a problem with Scenes being removed from films but I would like to see an extended version with some of these back in.

Blooper Reel is actor’s screwing up, this one is a bit too long but it’s pretty funny.

Make-up Test looks at the actors in their costumes.its runs for well over ten minutes but the opportunity to see all the actors in their costumes is pretty awesome.

The Morris Green Show is a rip-off of 70s talk shows in the universe in which the movie exists.

If I am to have any objection to the presentation of the film, it’s the cover. I’m not impressed with the artwork and would have fathered seen something of the original movie posters for it. I’m not attempting to insult the art chosen as I quite like it, just not for this film’s cover.

Score: ****

WISIA: In General I love Rob Zombie’s films so I like to trundle this out now and again.

Victims of the Firefly’s carnage.

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Supervixens (1975) 

One from the re watch pile…
Supervixens (1975)

The cover of the UK DVD release


Film: I had read about soft-core porn filmmaker Russ Meyer long before I had ever seen any of his films. I remember seeing the image of a gigantic pair of boobs hanging from out the front of a cinema in Sydney in a magazine called Shocking Cinema which contained that particular image, with a small write up, within a ‘sealed’ section.

Just through magazine I read, and shops I frequented, like Land Beyond Beyond in Sydney, I became a little obsessed with Meyer though the opportunity to see any of his stuff didn’t become available to me until I managed to get my hands on a few releases Madman in Australia did on DVD a few years ago, and since then I’ve grabbed everything that Arrow Films in the UK have available, and have accumulated several books on the subject of Mr Meyer, including his experiences documenting WWII , as well as a photographer for Playboy in the early days.

The focus of Meyer’s movies are the female form, and the bustier the better! There are certain male attributes that are generally enhanced too when the opportunity arises for a peek though. His films are no doubt soft core porn, but there’s no ‘I’ve come to clean ze pool’ stuff in his work: no, these are articulate, rural black comedies that if you don’t just fast forward to the nudity, or turn them of when you have… um… ‘finished’, you’ll get a lot out of them

His movies are spectacularly weird too and he has been called the ‘Rural Fellini’, insomuch that his films merge fantasy, not just sexual but metaphysical and supernatural within the rural environments, like farming communities and small towns.

Supervixens is no variation on that.

Clint Ramsey (Charles Pitt) getting down and dirty


Poor Clint Ramsey (Charles Pitts) has a problem: his woman, Superangel (Shari Eubanks) is a suspicious, high-maintenance, voluptuous woman whose sexual appetite and penchant for violence is making his life a living Hell, even though she is a gorgeous.

After a particularly horrible argument, Supervixen calls the police, who send police officer Harry Sledge (Charles Napier). He quickly proves to be her undoing when he murders her after she tries similar shenanigans on him when he fails to satisfy her her in bed.

The titular Supervixen.


Sledge murders her and places the blame square in Clint’s lap, which puts him on a trip across country, evading the law and somehow ending up pursued by every horny, busty woman he …ahem… comes across, but will Sledge catch up with him?

This movie is heaps of fun and has some bizarre scenes that somehow make plenty of sense within Meyer’s eye. He has this amazing sense of cinematic style with the camera that once you see past the statuesque figures on screen, you really see a man who is totally in control of his craft. His previous occupation as a photographer is clear in the amazing way he frames his scenes.

The women in this film aren’t the only amazing thing within the camera’s eye: the locations are desolate and the heat of the desert is almost palpable.

I really love this movie, and though you probably should start any Meyer adventure with either Vixen or Faster Pussycat! Kill! KILL!, you really can’t pass this up.

Score: ****

The UK DVD menu screen


Format: Supervixens was reviewed using the U.K. Arrow Films DVD release which is presented in an ok 4:3 image with a pretty clear 2.0 audio. The image is a little artefacty at times but not to the detriment of the entire image.

Score: ****

Extras: Only two extras on this disc, but both are as entertaining as hell.

First there is an amazing commentary with director Russ Meyer where he doesn’t just tell amusing stories about the making of this film, but also interesting reflections of his life. 
Next, we have a trailer reel of Meyer’s films: Faster Pussycat! Kill! KILL!, Blacksnake, Mudhoney, Vixen, Wild Gals of the Naked West, Supervixens, Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens, Cherry, Harry & Raquel and Common-Law Cabin.

Honestly Meyer’s trailers are the best ever made, not just because of the beautiful stars, but also due to the absolute Sideshow Huckster, P.T. Barnham styled voiceovers which deliver the hard sell like never before.

Score: ***

WISIA: It’s a funny, sometimes silly and occasionally violent piece of classic Meyer cheese: not for family viewing but I watch it when I can.

Harry Sledge (Charles Napier) looks back at future victims.

Murder By Decree (1979)

One from the to watch pile…
Murder By Decree (1979)

The cover to the Australian Umbrella release of Murder by Decree


Film: This is one of those strange films that I am SURE I must have seen. Surely during the 80s or 90s whilst in a channel hopping mood I must have stopped on this film. I imagine I wouldn’t have just paused but instead stopped once I realised that what I was watching was not just a Sherlock Holmes film, but a Holmes vs Jack the Ripper film!!

Now that I am a more refined and educated film fan, I now would stop for SO many other reasons. First, this film has a screen play by John Hopkins, who also did the Bond film Thunderball. 

Next, directed by Bob Clark! Film fans should know this name as the director of Porkys!, but more importantly to horror fans, Deathdream, Black Christmas and Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things!

Then the cast; oh, the cast! the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Christopher Plummer, North By Northwest’s James Mason, Deep Red’s David Hemmings, Lifeforce’s Frank Finlay, Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s Donald Sutherland, Dead Ringers’ Genevieve Bujold and let’s not forget Sir John Gielgud!!! I imagine any director of the 70s would have been swooning over such an amazing cast!!

James Mason and Christopher Plummer


The film tells of 1800’s London, during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, when a group of concerned storekeepers approach Sherlock Holmes (Plummer) and his faithful, long-suffering cohort Dr. Watson (Mason) to assist in the hunt for the Ripper even though the police, including Inspector Foxborough (Hemmings) would wish him to have nothing to do with it.

Holmes continues the investigation regardless of the constabulary’s objections, and in doing so comes across all sorts of odd-bodkins, such as a psychic (Sutherland) and a conspiracy that leads all the way to the prime minister of England, and even royalty itself!!

There’s been many translations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character on TV, in comics and on the big screen but in my opinion this is one of the better ones. Christopher Plummer plays Holmes with an amazing sense of subtlety, not like more modern translations where he’s more a combination of of an idiot savant and a member of a boy band, and it’s a mature portrayal. His relationship with the far more sensible Dr Watson is understated and whilst frustrating for Watson, there is and underlying sense of friendship between the two that is played skilfully by our veteran actors.

The leads skill has a trickle down effect as the ensemble cast all play their parts with an equal amount of gusto, and it makes the story convincing and thoroughly engaging.

The Amazing Follicles of Donald Sutherland


Essentially, this film, even though not Sherlock Holmes cannon, it still really feels like a proper Holmes story, and the combination of Clark’s direction and the aforementioned cast’s convincing portrayals of the characters make this happen. If I am to criticise this film for anything it is a trifle overlong, and sags here and there.
Score: ****

Sir John Gielgud


Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Umbrella Entertainment region 4 DVD release of the film, which runs for approximately 124 minutes is presented in a clean, but average 1.77:1 image with a matching 2.0 audio track.

Score: **1/2

Extras: Absolutely none! Not even a menu screen!!

Score: 0

WISIA: The quality of the actors involved make this definitely a rewatcher.

Bonus Friday the 13th review: Cat’s Eye (1985)

One from the re watch pile…
Cat’s Eye (1985)

The cover of the Umbrella Bluray release of Cat’s Eye


Film: I loves me an anthology film…. yeeeehaw! 

In the 80s there was a veritable Trevor trove of cool anthology films that all came out: Creepshow, Creepshow 2, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Tales from the Quadead Zone… maybe not that last one… but the mainstream ones were all entertaining and had great production values and big names attached. 

Cat’s Eye is certainly no exception to that rule, if anything, Cat’s Eye has a really nice pedigree (heh heh ‘pedigree’? Cat? Ahhhh forgedaboudit!). Let’s start with the cast: Airplane’s Robert Hayes, Videodrome’s James Woods, Firestarter’s Drew Barrymore, Casino’s Alan King, Dune’s Kenneth McMillan, Alien 3’s Charles S. Dutton… hell, even Scooby Doo’s Frank Welker does some special vocal stuff in the film! I also have to admit to having somewhat of a crush on Mary D’arcy, who played Woods’ wife in the film.

It doesn’t stop there though: this film was directed by Lewis Teague, a director who knows how to economically tell a story to various degrees of success, with films like Cujo, Wedlock, Jewel of the Nile and Alligator under his belt. When I say ‘economically’, I don’t mean that as an insult either: Teague tells the story so it is easy to understand and the performances he gets from his actors is always a good one.

Lastly, and most definitely not leastly… is that a word… we have this movie featuring three tales by horror legend Stephen King! Two of the stories, Quitter’s Inc and The Ledge were from King’s anthology book Night Shift, although The Ledge was first published in Penthouse (which is referenced in the story), whereas the final one, General, is an original tale made for the film.

Cat’s Eye starts with our introduction to a cat who is seemingly on the wrong side of a couple of King’s other villains, Cujo and Christine (in a nice nod to Teague’s and Carpenter’s films) before escaping to New York, where after a vision (yes, the cat has a vision) of a girl in trouble, he is kidnaped by a corporation called Quitters Inc. and we are thrown into our first tale where we see Dick (James Woods) wanting to quite smoking and going to a clinic called Quitters Inc. who have rather extreme measures of helping you quit… including torture… but will Dick quit?

Robert Hayes on the edge


The cat escapes Quitters Inc. and finds himself taken possession of by a gangster named Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) who has kidnapped Norris (Robert Hayes), a man with whom his wife is cheating, and bets him that he can’t circumnavigate the ledge around his penthouse suite: the prize being freedom, money and his wife… will Norris make it?

A young Drew Barrymore using her ‘pleeeeeeeease’ face


The final story, General, sees the cat, now named General by his new owner, played by Drew Barrymore, living with a family who have something living in their house… something Evil… that perhaps only General is aware of… will General save the family?

This film is a great deal of fun and is a real product of its time. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a couple of funny segments using a cover of the Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’. It’s entertaining and with the loose story style starring the tribulations of the cat, the short tales flow into each other with no hiccup or ‘Cryptkeeper’ to keep the movie running, which is refreshing and a great idea.

Score: ***1/2

The menu screen from the Umbrella release of Cat’s Eye


Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Umbrella release, region B Bluray of the film which runs for approximately 94 minutes and is presented in a perfectly fine 2.40:1 image with a matching 2.0 DTS-HD audio

Score: ***1/2

Extras: A couple of nice fresh extras on this disc:

Johnny Norris On The Ledge: Robert Hayes Remembers Cat’s Eye is a fond recollection of the time Hayes had in making this film. It’s not just a typical 5 minute ‘everyone was wonderful’ type thing either, it’s a fairly detailed half-hour chat.

Like Herding Cats: A Conversation With Animal Trainer Teresa Ann Miller is a quite fascinating look at the skill of animal training, and the Miller family as career animal trainers.

We also have a trailer for the film.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s a fun, light-hearted (mostly) and easy to watch anthology so it gets a regular look.

Got Woods?

The Conjuring (2013) Review

One from the re watch pile…
The Conjuring (2013)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: I have said on several occasions that I am not a fan of ghost/ demonic possession films. It’s not because I am afraid of them, but rather I don’t believe in either so the stories hold no fear for me, and are occasionally interesting distractions rather than actual entertainment.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good movie when it’s made, or am excited by a great performance, it’s just I don’t find the stories engaging enough as I find ‘true’ stories about possession to be a farce.

Anyway, this is the first film, directed by Australian director James Wan, about the real-life, honest-to-goodness psychic ghost-hunters, Lesley (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren and their exploration of the Perron family haunting, where Roger (Ron Livingston), his wife, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their 5 daughters move into a new house where strange things start happening.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens.


First their dog dies, then noises and a whole pile of spooky hocus pocus occurs, driving Carolyn to ask the Warrens for their help to try and get rid of whatever is in their house… and what is the horrible secret of the mysterious bruises appearing of Carolyn’s body…?

Considering this film is supposed to be based of a true story, it is full to the brim of stock standard tropes of generic, uninteresting ghost films. A whole bunch of jump-scares and totally post-millennium ghost story make-ups that are uninteresting and universal looking make this film little more than run-of-the-mill.

Also, Wan has included a pair of cannon-fodder buffoons, like the ridiculous Specs and Tucker from the equally daft Insidious films, who are really just mimicking those characters, and stand in as the ‘technical’ and ‘protection’ archetypes seen in stuff even back to Poltergeist. I’m not sure why they need a gun-toting type in their war on supernatural terror, but there he is, useless as boobs on a bull. Even with the Annabelle icon he robs not just from the history of possession/ ghost cinema but also from his own film Dead Silence from a couple of years earlier.

Lili Taylor as the haunted Carolyn.


The real win in this film is the cast. Wilson and Farmiga have a chemistry rarely seen in films anymore: they actually feel like a couple who have been together for years. Lili Taylor is amazing and ageless as she always is… seriously, she has looked exactly the same for 20 years! Surprisingly too, all 6 of the children in this film are amazing and not one of them is in the slightest bit annoying… or ‘the Anakin Factor’ as I like to call it.

The construction of the story is really clever too. Two set-ups occur in the first 45 minutes of this film, one of the family’s haunting and the other, the Warren’s history and skill set, so essentially for that period you are watching two separate stories that intersect when one requires assistance from the other.

It’s a nicely made film with some great performances but essentially it is a dull as dishwater, generic post millennial ghost story that surely must only appeal to people who don’t normally like proper horror films.

Score: **

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian Bluray release which runs for approximately 112 minutes. This film is presented in a perfect 2.4:1 image with an extraordinary, and I mean extraordinary, DTS-HD 5.1 audio. The soundtrack and audio style of the film is nothing short of spectacular.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for We’re The Millard, if that counts an an extra. I must admit I did buy that film based on this trailer.

The reviewed copy of this disc comes with a Bluray, DVD and ‘Ultraviolet’ version, which expired in 2015, so that possibly doesn’t count.

Onto the main extras:

The Conjuring: Face to Face with Terror looks at the actual family who believed they were being haunted that this film was based on. It’s interesting to hear the ‘actual’ tales from the people who were involved in the ‘real’ haunting and exorcism.

A Life in Demonology is a history of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the actual paranormal investigators. It’s a nice tribute to the two with some interesting stories.

Scaring the ‘@$*%’ Out of You looks at the making of the film and how even in a film that’s essentially a biopic, though a snapshot of an entire life, you still need to throw in those ghost story tropes to make it an effective horror film as well.

Score: ****

WISIA: I watched it twice: the first time originally and now to review it for you all. I doubt if I’ll watch it again.

Annabelle: has very little to do with this story but is now a money maker in her own right.

The Fog (1980) Review

One from the re watch pile…
The Fog (1980)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: There’s several people who are real heroes of cinema for me: Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento are amongst them, and John Carpenter really stands up there. He is responsible for several films that I really like, like Halloween, They Live and Prince of Darkness, but it’s not just that: his soundtracks that he himself creates sit directly in my love of synth music too. This movie, The Fog, is no exception.

I am not really a ghost/ supernatural fan when it comes to horror movies as I’d rather a slasher or a giallo or mutants or monsters: I like tactile, physical baddies and I think that comes from not believing in ghosts makes me not fear them. Sure a jump scare might alarm me, but I won’t walk away from the film traumatised.

That’s not to say I don’t still watch them though as even though the potential fear doesn’t scare me, I can still enjoy the story, performance and if I’m lucky, some chunky gore.

This is one of those times where the film is solid and the fact it’s a supernatural tale doesn’t matter.

The beautiful seaside town of Antonio Bay has a dark past where a ship full of lepers were killed when their boat was lead to its destruction. Now, 100 years later, the town is ready for its centenary under the guidance of Kathy Williams (Janet Leigh) but the local priest, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) has discovered, hidden in the church, a diary telling the awful tale of the founding of the town, but the show must go on regardless.

Adrienne Barbeau… sigh.


A strange occurrence is happening on this celebration though: a mysterious fog is moving into town, and effecting the lives of the town including DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), fisherman Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) and a hitchhiker he has picked up, Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis) but what is in the fog killing people?

Could it be the spirits of the Dead coming back to haunt the descendants of the original families of Antonio Bay? Of course it is.

The first thing I have to say I love about this film is it’s cast: Psycho’s Janet Leigh, Night of the Creeps Tom Atkins, Magnum Force’s Hal Holbrook, Swamp Thing’s Adrienne Barbeau and of course Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, to mention but a few.

Jamie Lee Curtis notices Tom Atkins’ moustache has stuck to his beer can.


This is film is clearly a Carpenter film as well, and I must say his surname suits perfectly as his stories me direction builds slowly and to a fantastic finale, as does his soundtrack… I love it when Carpenter scores his own films! 

This is no exception, and the record of this soundtrack gets a regular spin here at the To Watch Pile!

Really though, this film wins with its warm and likable characters who are victims of their ancestors crimes and potentially innocent themselves, and with Caroenter’s masterful handling of the pacing of the film.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen The Fog… or anything else by Carpenter, you need to fix that immediately.

Score: ****

Australian Bluray menu screen of The Fog


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian region A/B Bluray release, which runs for approximately 90 minutes, and is presented in a clear, but not wholly sharp, 2.35:1 image with a really nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Crappy extras on this release, I’m afraid. There is an audio and video configuration test. What?

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s one of Carpenter’s best: you better believe it should be watched over and over again!

No shower scene for Janet Leigh here.

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.

A Cure For Wellness (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
A Cure For Wellness (2016)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: I love it when you get an opportunity to see a film you barely know anything about but surprises you. Especially when the surprise is a weaselling un-nerving that gets under your skin.

I had seen half a trailer for this film A Cure For Wellness, and had decided it was the type of film I’d like to see at the movies, and yet it slipped by quickly and I didn’t get an opportunity to see it until it’s release on bluray.

A Cure For Wellness was written by Justin Haythe, with director Gore Verbinski, who last worked together on Disney’s The Lone Ranger… but don’t let that jade your judgement, or allow it to be used as a deterring factor to watching the film. Any mistakes they may have made together on that film aren’t evident here.

The mountaintop retreat.


Dane DeHaan plays Lockhart, an ambitious executive at a large international firm that is in trouble. He has been employed by the people upstairs to track down the CEO, Pembroke (Harry Groener) who has retreated to a mountaintop wellness facility in an attempt to ‘get better’.

The facility, run by Volmer (Jason Isaacs) in what used to be a castle, seems to be trying to stop Lockhart from seeing Pembroke and soon, after a horrific car accident, Lockhart finds himself with a broken leg, and interred at the facility. 

During his stay he is offered treatments, but the longer he stays, the more he thinks there is something more happening at the facility, something sinister, something involving the youngest patient, Hannah (Mia Goth)….

Immediately, and as can be read by my synopsis, what we appear to have here is a modern-day retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with the young executive investigating a colleague’s disappearance, only to find that ‘something’ (in Stoker’s case, but not here, a vampire) may have taken them hostage, or performed some other sinister act upon them. The difference is shocking and makes for a kick-ass, slick horror movie.

Typically, Verbinski’s primary skill lies in how damn beautiful the film looks. It is extraordinarily beautifully shot, every scene is like a painting. This isn’t hurt by how damned clear the entire film is too. For the most part it has a very blue and cool palette which is truly stunning, but that colour plate also changes depending on the part of the story that is being told, and looks amazing at every point.

The soundscape is preposterously amazing too. For example, the creak of DeHaan’s crutches are a constant reminder of his temporary disability but every sound has an echoing eeriness to it, and that whole is also made effective by the wonderful presence of Benjamin Wallfisch’s score.

Dane DeHaan as Lockhart


For the most part the cast is fantastic but they have a collective atypical look: there are no traditional Hollywood hunks or beauties in this flick, but this unusual anti-movie star face of the film makes it feel both more real, and surreal at the same time. I admit I had my doubts about Dane DeHaan being the leading man in this film, but he ‘looks’ right for the film.

It seems to me this was mistreated by its advertising as a thriller, when in actual fact this is a flat a gothic horror, with many scenes that look like someone like Mario Bava was the cinematographer. It sits well beside things like Shutter Island and it’s has everything you want from a horror film, though it might be a touch overlong.

Score: ****1/2

The Australian Bluray Menu screen.


Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian, region Bluray, which is presented in a totally amazing 1.78:1 video with a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1.

Score: *****

Extras: There’s a small collection of extras.

First, there is a deleted scene, and with a film as long as this one is, I don’t know why it was excised.

Meditations is a series of 3 guided meditations relating to 3 of the 4 elements: air, water and earth. These aren’t your traditional meditations as they have a distinctively sinister nature. They are interesting and creepy.

The Score addresses the totally impressive score of the film by Benjamin Wallfisch, a score so impressive I immediately bought the record as soon as I finished watching the film.

There is also three trailers for the film.

I should also point out the menus are special too. They have a feeling of being stuck, which is perhaps one of the themes of the film.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It is such a deep and detailed film that I feel several watchings are in store, and it’s a great story with an amazing look too.

Pembroke (Harry Groener) enjoys a ‘treatment’.

Comic Book Confidential (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Comic Book Confidential (1988)

The Australian DVD cover


Film: I am and always will be a comic fan. Sure there have been periods of time where I haven’t collection, the post-Image world of the 90s for example (I’m sorry guys, I like the old artwork, and the anime/ graffiti styled artwork of those guys never rubbed me the right way… I want my superheroes to be done by the old masters like Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, John Buscema and their ilk) and recently I’ve become disappointed with the storylines which seem to be repetitive and basically made to sell the movies. I understand it’s a business but there seems to be a creative lull, which has happened before as the history of comics is circular and fad based. Something hot today will not even be published tomorrow.

Hell, as of this review we don’t even have the cornerstone of the Marvel universe, the Fantastic Four being published, and that was once taglined as ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’.

I do still however get collections of old stuff, and I’m fascinated by the history of the art form too, and my book collection has many ‘history of comics’ books amongst it.

William Gaines


This, however, is Ron Mann’s documentary of the history of comic books and it’s a pretty concise and interesting look at how they came about, but the best thing about this doco is the absolutely essential stories from some of the old men, and young guns, of the industry.

It’s pretty special to know the history of Bill Gaines, and then hear him tell stories himself, and to actually hear my hero, Jack Kirby’s voice, is amazing. 

This doesn’t just look at the history of the art of comics, it also takes a walk down the history of comics legacy, and how it was effected by, and how it effected society. There is some great archival footage of the Senatorial Commitee on Juvenile Delinquency and some disturbing stories about court cases where artists and writers were sued for things they wrote or drew.

There is some cool presentations of classic comic covers rarely seen, but occasionally that footage is spoilt by some poorly executed, amateurish animation of the covers which was unnecessary and detracts from the amazing original art.

Harvey Kurtzman


If you want a brief history of the industry, and one that is American centric as none of the great European or Asian artists really get a look in, this is your place to go, but there is so much more to many of the stories discussed in this doco. Honestly. This doco could do with a 1988 to now sequel!

Ron, are you listening?

Score: ****

The Australian DVD menu screen


Format: This documentary was reviewed with the Australian DVD release which runs for approximately 85 minutes. The film is presented in 4:3 and has a 2.0 audio track, both of which are of various degrees of quality due to the historical nature of some of the footage and audio. It doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of the film though.

Score: ***

Extras: There is several extra on this disc though the first couple are a bit Kevin Smith indulgent. I guess if you pay someone to turn up you take advantage of the time.

The first note is that this doco from the 80s has a new introduction by Kevin Smith, where he basically points out that even ten years later when his introduction was done, it was still relevant.

A Conversation with Kevin Smith is more ‘ a justification for reading comics by Kevin Smith’ and whilst I get the heart of where it’s coming from I don’t get why I have to justify, or convince someone that adults can read comic, the same as a cricket fan does have to justify to me why he likes it. It doesn’t matter what you dig, just respect each other, and if you think you have to justify your passion to a friend, you need new friends.

Silent Bobs Speaks is a not very funny series of questions aimed at Smith’s ‘Silent Bob’ character. Lame.

There is also a trailer for the film.

The is an interview with director Ron Mann who talks about the making of this film and his career in general.

Last there are text biographies of some of the artists featured in the doco, including Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Jaime Hernandez, Shary Flenniken, Lynda Barry, Victor Moscow, Bill Griffith, Jack Kirby (of course), William M. Gaines, Francoise Molly, Al Feldstein, Art Spiegelman, Sue Coe, Gilbert Shelton, Dan O’Neill, Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman, Harvey Pekar, Spain, Charles Burns and Paul Mavrides. They are single paragraph bios so don’t expect an entire indepth history of each person.

Score: ***

WISIA: I have watched this many times and will probably continue to watch it many more times.

Robert Crumb