EVIL Worming Its Way into Your Body! “They Crawl Beneath” reviewed! (Well Go USA / Blu-ray)

“They Crawl Beneath” on Blu-ray Home Video from Well Go USA!

After a near-death experience, Danny finds himself living on his profligate uncle’s couch when his family-desiring girlfriend fears his occupation will emotionally destroy them if he dies in the line of fire. The turbulent relationship reaches a stalemate, frustrating Danny further into confiding into his imprudent uncle as they work to rehab an old car. When an earthquake takes his uncle’s life, pins his leg underneath the car, and traps him in a closed garage isolated from much of civilization, Danny has limited options for rescue and to make matters worse, the ground opening up has released an undiscovered wormlike creature from the fissures. The severely injured officer now must fight for survival against an enemy unlike any other and face the terrible truth that could possibly change his life forever…if he lives through the night.

“They Crawl Beneath” is subterranean-to-surface horror with large wormlike aggressors hungry for fleshy food. The 2022 creature feature is the screenplay brainchild of writer Tricia Aurand who pens her way through a career of shorts to features with her second full length screenplay, originally entitled “It Crawls Beneath,” developed with the crux of the story surrounding the struggling emotional arc of a couple’s embattled relationship growth while being besieged by the belowground bloodsuckers in a tussle of grit and determination that dually transposes a never give up, never say it’s over theme. “Area 407” and “Reed’s Point” director Dale Fabrigar helms the film in what’s the second collaborator effort between Tricia Aurand and the director that falls upon the complete opposite on the genre spectrum behind the feel-good holiday movie “Middleton Christmas,” cowritten and produced by Suzanne DeLaurentiis and, before your wheels start spinning, there’s no mention of her relation to famous television cook Giada De Laurentiis or Giada’s Italian film-centric father, Dino De Laurentiis. Like an effort to purge cathartically the holiday spirit, Suzanne DeLaurentiis, who wrorte-and-directed 1996’s “Mutant Man,” produces the film with Fabrigar and Aurant spearheading the project under her banner, Suzanne DeLaurentiis Productions,” and presented theatrically by Kevin and Noel Goetz of BBMG Entertainment and “Monstrous’s” Film Mode Entertainment.

“They Crawl Beneath” is essentially a one-man show, puncturing much of the same vein as “Stalled,” “Buried,” or “The Shallows” where a single protagonist much problem-solve to work out from a difficult and deadly situation. Now, “They Crawl Beneath” slightly differs from the examples aforementioned that provides a bit of setup with cop-on-leave Danny (Joseph Almani) down in the dumps and hanging with Uncle Bill (Michael Paré, “Village of the Damned”) as a direct result of having a fallen out with girlfriend Gwen (Karlee Elridge) over a near death experience in a shootout with a perp. Almani gives a wrought performance that’s raps a handful of times on the door of embarrassing ignominy with overzealous one-liners that squander the fervid weight the story works very tirelessly to setup for Danny and his pitfall of troubles. Yet, Danny also can’t grasp the heaviness of Gwen’s decision to leave him as if what matters to her is no matter at all and that’s where the script disproportionally downplays Danny’s pride by having him recoil into the arms of a cool uncle. Michael Paré is the better half of that relationship despite his uncle Bill’s stag behavior. Paré has one of those classic, Golden-Age-type, voices to the likes of Robert Mitchum and though that doesn’t necessary speak to the Gen-X youth as cool, there’s still a panache quality about the 40-year vet actor that makes him feel bigger than the film itself. Elridge’s Gwen undercuts much into Almani’s man versus underground grub with an attitude in scenes that are terribly forced. Elridge, who doesn’t fail on her own accord, falls into an uninspiring role with unimportant lines and scenes just so there can be a prominent love interest for Danny. Gar-Ye Lee, Christopher M. Dukes, Brian DeRozan, and Elena Sahagun co-star.

I’ve read a few threads and comments around the worldwide web comparing Fabrigar’s “They Crawl Beneath” to the creature feature-classic Kevin Bacon-starring film “Tremors.”  Those comments and comparisons are grossly ill-conceived.  Aside from the physical release cover art which displays a well-armed individual standing cool on cracked pavement in the desert while the foreground large fissure in the road exposes a menacing burrowing organism does echo Graboid parallelism, but that’s the extent of it. There’s no “Mad Max” man with a rifle and a handgun in this flick. There’s an outskirt L.A. desert, but much creepy-crawler action takes place in a four-walled and dark garage. And the only similarities between these creatures and the Graboids are the Graboid’s snake-like tongues. The pint-sized creatures with tri-mandible, razor sharp teethed, mouths appear similar but individuated and brandish a stinger to be lethal at both ends of its larva bulbous body. The puppetry is obvious but also fantastic in the same breath. I couldn’t see Fabrigar and the creature effects supervisor pulling off the task any other way that doesn’t grade A visual effects, such as the cast in James Gunn’s “Slither.” “They Crawl Beneath” enters more of a survival horror and less of a creature feature with the principal lead finding himself trapped inside a garage and pinned underneath a car. Typical of many low-cost and independent productions that take refuge in one single, inexpensive location, the setup, the lion’s share act two, and the escape pays off big time in deflection stagnation by keeping Danny occupied with options though more than likely the creatures would have bit off his face during numerous moments of vulnerability. Pacing like this is troubled throughout. As I mentioned, Karlee Elridge’s scenes often created a distraction from the story’s essence and her scenes were intrusively pointless. As Danny finally connects with Gwen on the phone and she proclaims she will get ahold of Officer Holden to send help, there’s a scene following of her driving and calling officer Holden and explaining the situation. The scene bears inane purpose and is repetitive and there are a handful of scenes like this to thicken out the role of Elridge.

Practical effects driven “They Crawl Beneath” is middle of the road magnitude survival creature feather that has squirmed its way onto a Blu-ray home video from Well Go USA Entertainment. The unrated region A Blu-ray is presented in 1080, 1.78:1 aspect ratio with an impressive contrast with enriched negative space that demarcates the well-shot positive space. Picture quality doesn’t seem to suffer compressed on the BD25 as there is no banding in the blacks and there are plenty of darker scenes contained in the garage. Skin, human and Platyhelminth, appear textured aplenty and while typical arid landscapes can whitewash character details due to lack of diverse color and adjacent objects, that’s not the case here as the focus in exterior scenes is tight on the characters and less about what’s in the background. The English language DTS-HD master audio channels cleaning through the output with phonic clarity. Acoustically, the garage sequences can sound slightly isolating which works for the confined space meant to have no sound dampeners to start. Creature screeches are generic but effective and sync aptly to the action without degradation. Option English SDH subtitles are available. The Well Go USA Entertainment release is feature film only with no bonus material accompanying the 88-minute runtime. “The Crawl Beneath” returns to the midnight showings of the USA Network days where the schlock hits the fan with genre features playing at ungodly hours, but the Dale Fabrigar quaking-quagmire is quick to enclose one man trapped in a room full of man-eating slugs and, sometimes, that’s all we want in a film.

“They Crawl Beneath” on Blu-ray Home Video from Well Go USA!

The Fourth Go-Around with an EVIL Icon Is An Inferior Copy. “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn” reviewed! (101 Films / BD-R)

Laine and her boyfriend Chase drive toward Jackson, Louisiana where Chase has planned a fun-filled weekend in the land of the notorious Creeper legend and where the annual HorrorHound festival lures fans from all over the world for a carnival celebration of horror. Rolling her eyes at Chase’s complete obsession with the Creeper and his love for horror, Laine indulges her boyfriend’s every geeked-out whim, including entering a contest for a chance to enter a Creeper inspired escape room held at a dilapidated manor house on the outskirts of town. The lucky winners and the producing team find themselves lured into a deadly trap orchestrated by a cult loyal to the Creeper and Laine, who has been handpicked by his disciples, learns through premonitions that the Creeper hungers for her unborn child. Trapped inside with an unstoppable winged monster hunting them down, Laine and Chase implore the others to fight back against a living legend of lore.

Fascinating is the monster that is the Creeper, a versatile humanoid with batlike wings, a serious sniffer, and a flesh-eating connoisseur with the strength of 10 men and a primitive, yet effective assorted arsenal of deadly melee weapons. The Creeper is a modern marvel and icon of contemporary antagonistic favorites this side of the early millennium having arrived on the big screen now over two decades ago back in 2001 and producing now four films between that time span, but within those 21 years, a tremendous controversy has tarnished the good name of the “Jeepers Creepers” legacy. That name is “Jeepers Creepers” creator Victor Salva who conviction as a child sex offender might not have stopped him from directing three “Jeepers Creepers” films but certainly put the rubber stamp of disapproval against any kind of box-office success with audiences steering clear of work. 2022 saw promise for the Creeper with a new, fourth entry entitled “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn,” a title resembling a phoenix being risen from the fiery ashes type of project that removed Salva not only from the director’s chair but also any kind of substantial compensation for the legal rights. Timo Vuorensola (“Iron Sky”) steps into frame as the franchise’s newest visionary to hopefully resurrect the Creeper from the depths of indirect persecution. With a story written by Sean-Michael Argo (erotic-fantasy-horror writer of “Sineaters” and “Fable: Teeth and Beasts”), “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn” promises new blood and a new creative process with possible white glove treatment without the sully of sin behind the scenes. The first “Jeepers Creepers” film to be shot almost entirely in the United Kingdom with a few Louisiana locale shots, the fourth flight of the Creeper entry is a coproduction between Black Hanger Studios and Orwo Studios.

With a new “Jeepers Creepers” installment focused on adverting attention away from its creator, “Reborn” comes with an overhauled cast, including a new face toward the Creeper.  Instead of Jonathan Breck returning to resume the role in a fourth film, complications from an overseas production, English actor Jarreau Benjamin tackles the role with everything he’s got and with everything he has to work with.  Breck cobbled together large boots for the assimilation of a western horror villain with a mischievous and ruthless personality as he toys with his food before he eats it in the first three films.  Benjamin does a remarkable job attempting to emulate much of the same albeit the Creeper have a slightly different look because of Benjamin’s build and face structure.  Nonetheless, as the Creeper, the greenhorn fills in quite well tormenting conned prey that includes on screen couple Sydney Craven (“York Witches Society”) as Laine and Imran Adams as Chase.  To be honest, Craven and Adams had little emotion weight beyond a fantasy and lust dynamic and couldn’t find character and story support in what seems to be more of a close acquaintance rather than a highly involved and evolved romantic relationship.  They’re teamed with producers of a reality show, game show, some kind of vague media show of sorts, as the unfortunate lucky winners of an escape room challenge as well as a local Jackson resident, Stu, with a Duck Dynasty beard and salty arura about him, played by Peter Brooke (“Wrong Turn 5:  Bloodlines”) and I wanted to know more about Stu.  Is he good or bad?  Is he a patsy?  He’s mysterious but likeable and he’s written enigmatically up to a point but the descends into just another ordinary link in the chain. Ocean Navarro (“Infamous Six”), Matt Barkley, and Alexander Halsall round out the victims corralled by the cult of the Creeper. The Creeper worshipping group represented by a local shopkeeper (Georgia Goodman), a fire and brimstone preacher (Saverio Buono), and a horror hostess named Madam Carnage (Jodie Mcmullen) are a flake of a bigger scab that reveals nothing about their reasoning or their cause in helping every 23rd year for 23 days and the element of the cult cheapens the story because it goes unexplained. Overall, the performances are steady, if not slightly cliche at times, and the cast rounds out with Dee Wallace (“Cujo”) and Gary Graham (“Robot Jox”) with a familiar and strong opener that gets the blood going.

That very 15-or-so minute opener is “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn.” That’s it. That’s the film. It’s classic Creeper with a new, beaten down, larger box truck, starkly different from his rusted Chevy HD COE that’s like a supercharged street-legal tank but with the same BEATINGU double entendre license plate and malevolent-ripping energy that would make anyone’s heart race with fear as he tailgates and blares the horn at high speed. Yet, the opener quickly rescinds into an unsolved mystery-like episode and from that point on, Vuorensola and Argo work diligently to rapidly dismiss the first three films by meta means with one of the principals stating the Creeper stories gave way to three films, hence why the fourth film is subtitled “Reborn” and acts more like a reboot than a sequel. Perhaps that is why the plot adds a stronger motivation for the Creeper who is hellbent on extracting a prenatal child from Laine. “Reborn” invokes a return to the premonition theme that go hand-and-hand with the Creeper’s return as Laine has visions of her the centerpiece of attention, covered in blood, and a baby carriage containing, supposedly, the target, but the story is so far up the abstract tail with the visions and conjectural dialogue, we never receive a straight answer as to why the Creeper is after the peanut-sized pregnancy. With any of the four films, the Creeper dispatches prey in various neat ways with a primordial arsenal of medieval killing tools and the scenes of slaughter don’t disappoint. There’s actually a gory moment of a scalp flip and a brain snack that’s well executed. What kills “Reborn” with a stake through the heart is the rotoscoping at climatic end. Clunky, chunky, and disproportionate, the actors appear to be standing and moving around in a 2D environment with unintended rigid actions that dispel realism after a wonderful show of makeup and practical effects in the first two acts.

You don’t have to wait another 23 years to see the Creeper as “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn” lands on UK digital platforms on October 10th and on UK DVD and Blu-ray October 24th courtesy of UK distributor 101 Films. The just-before-Halloween release will contain a 15 certification and is available preorder at the https://101-films-store.com/. Unfortunately, I’m unable to dive into neither of the DVD or Blu-ray spec details or give a full critique of the audio/video aspects as a BD-R was provided for feature screening purposes only. The screener also didn’t have any bonus features and included only an English subtitle option. The film runs clocks in at 88 minutes and is shot with an Arri Alexa camera. “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn” might have dropped the surface level controversial dead weight but can’t fully shake the stigma and in an opportunity to reboot or rebrand the franchise, the effort is squandered by production snafus and shoddy presentation that’ll put the Creeper asleep for another 23 years until the next film.

Problems Arise When Your Brother is an EVIL Mutant Octopus! “The Kindred” reviewed! (Synapse Films / Blu-ray)

“The Kindred” on Blu-ray at Amazon.com!

Before the passing of his brilliant molecular scientist mother, scientist John Hollins fulfills his mother’s adamant dying wish to destroy her life’s long work at their old seashore home. She also spills out that he must put a stop to his unbeknownst to him brother named Anthony. John, who followed his mother’s footsteps by becoming a lead geneticist, devotes the efforts of his team to assist in the removal and destruction of the data but the extent of her work was severely underestimated. Digging through journals upon journals and computer data to find any mention of a long-lost brother, John delays the rescinding proceeding. That is until a member of his team is attacked by an unknown creature and that his brother might not be actually human. On top of it all, John’s lab supervisor, Dr. Phillip Lloyd, is hellbent on obtaining his mother’s covert creation and embeds a spy on John’s team to locate it by whatever means necessary. The simple deathbed request has become a monstrously frightening ordeal that will pit brother versus brother and place everyone’s lives in mortal danger with a tentacled creature set loose.

As Vin Diesel once said in 9 “Fast and the Furious” movies, family is everything. “The Kindred,” however, is not a Vin Diesel movie, does not have supercharged, illegal street race cars or even any high-octane action, and definitely pinpoints family to be more of a burden-riddled, hazard to your health kind of deal when the little brother you never knew existed turns out to be a hybrid surf-and-turf creature with a thirst for blood. That’s the barebone synopsis of “The Kindred”, a U.S. bred sci-fiction-horror from the directors of “The Dorm That Dripped Blood” and “The Power” Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow. The 1987 creature feature is penned by the two filmmakers alongside John Penney (“Return of the Living Dead III”), Earl Ghaffari, and “The Exorcist” screenwriter, Joseph Stefano to give the script a little extra supernaturally special to make it stand out. The indie film is a production under the limited partnership of producers Jeffrey Obrow, Stacey Giachino, and executive producer Joel Freeman (“Love at First Bite”) and was theatrically distributed by the now defunct F/M Entertainment.

As a geneticist, “Manhunter’s” David Allen Brooks gives a fairly convincing performance as a strong jawed, blonde haired, and tall statured scientist wearing the now hackneyed glasses to make him appear nerdy and scientific. Honestly, the L.A.- born actor could have gone without the glasses and would have made no difference in the geneticist maven that is John Hollins but on screen, it’s a good look for the part. Yet, all the scientific studies in the world couldn’t prepare what’s to come for the level-headed researcher: a long weekend at the seashore house with direct report whizz-kids and a British acolyte of his mother’s with the blatant hots for him despite his longtime girlfriend (Talia Balsam, “Crawlspace”) tagging along to help with the cleanout. Romantic tensions flare, jealousy ensues, and personalities clash as a house full of emotional cannonballs are being launched in every direction, blinding them to the real threat at hand – a genetically spliced mistake roaming the grounds and full of bloodlust. In its rampaging path are a varied of vaguely hormonal and youthful scientist and administrative blend with a hilarious Peter Frechette (“The Unholy”), the nice guy in Timothy Gibbs (“Witchboard 2”), the Betty Childs from “Revenge of the Nerds'” with Julia Montgomery in a stepdown supporting role, Bunky Jones (“Hide and Go Shriek”), and the dubious dame of Amanda Pays (“Leviathan”) in her best Kelly LeBrock impression. The cast rounds out with a couple of veterans in Kim Hunter (“Dark August”) as mother Hollins and in an almost unrecognizable in appearance but unmistakable in performance from Rod Steiger (“Modern Vampires”) with hair (likely a wig).

“The Kindred’s” promising 80’s creature feature showstopper is marvelously slimy, grotesquely anthropomorphic, and stunningly conceived and manipulated creature effects by a team under Michael John McCracken’s supervision. The palpable, practical special effects works for “The Kindred’s” era that offers technology limited f/x options, but for this type of subgenre to be constructed in the late 80s, “The Kindred” takes advantage of the wide birth of possibilities from makeup to creature mechanics to pyrotechnics, and to be made would have less memorable as just been another bargain-basement botch job of trying to skirt around the cost at the monster’s expense. Plenty of love is poured into showcasing the monster movie madness that includes a watermelon sinking its barbarous tentacles under human skin and an open floorboard cavity into the creature’s watery pit where the hybrid emerges and slinks back into the abyss. While the practical effects menagerie is a gawker’s paradise, I find the story is only a firecracker’s worth of entertainment in comparison to the Yonshakudama-sized starburst that is McCracken’s Kraken-like monster. Rod Steiger plays the obvious mad scientist, experimenting on the recently traumatized who’ve suffered head wounds, with the nefarious creation of mindless, mutants who are held in the basement of his lab because, well, to be a reminder of his failures? How a dying molecular scientist’s genetic splicing-gone-wrong and Rod Steiger’s version of playing God with the “People Under the Stairs” intertwines is either above my intelligence or doesn’t have one ligament of connective tissue to bind them together. Dr. Lloyd often feels like a very separate story, not dovetailed to the slippery and octopus-shaped antagonist John Hollins and his team face. The only smidgen of connection between the two conflicting plot titans is Melissa Leftridge who’s blackmailed by Dr. Lloyd to retrieve a specimen or die from the same exposure that’s mutated the creature under the seashore house. What befalls Leftridge, in itself, is another substory left shamefully abridged given the spectacle transformation of human-to-fish that randomly flares into the fold.

With an all new 4K high-definition remaster of the unrated print, Synapse Films doesn’t hold back their Blu-ray release of “The Kindred” that’s presented in 1080p, open matte 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  The AVC encoded picture quality caters to the upscale class from a nearly mint transfer print.  The color is vivid, and details come through nicely with every bit of goo and glop spewed from the creature.  Any kind of issues with compression are either minor or non-existent in the 93-minute runtime and this is typical high-level execution as on many of Synapse’s upgraded and first-time ever on HD released products.  The English language DTS-HD 5.1 master audio surround sound cuts a vigorous soundtrack with ample range.  Depth is not really tested since most of the action is in the foreground but never does the action top the dialogue that remains free from obstruction and imperfections.  Optionally, the release offers the original theatrical 2.0 mono soundtrack as well as English SDH subtitles.  Ample bonus features on the unrated release include a commentary with directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter that’s moderated by horror journalist Steve Barton, a near full length making-of featurette with directors and writers John Penney and Early Ghaffair in Inhuman Experiments that digs into genesis and principal photography, never-before-seen on-set compilation footage of Michael McCraken’s creature effects, a still gallery and storyboard concepts, TV and promotional spots/trailers, and the original theatrical trailer.  The physical release comes with a blackout Blu-ray snap case with a Synapse catalogue insert.   For a middle of the road creature feature, Synapse knocks the release out of the park, elevating by particularizing the details with care that makes the pint-sized “The Kindred” feel monolithically 100 feet tall.

“The Kindred” on Blu-ray at Amazon.com!

The Absence of EVIL is Found in the Deepest of Cleavages. “Bigfoot or Bust!” reviewed! (MVD Visual / Blu-ray)

The Bustiest of the Busty on the Hunt for Bigfoot.  Check out “Bigfoot or Bust” on Blu-ray!

Bigfoot – the mythical legend of half-man, half-beast roams the quiet, dense, and uninhabited forests of anywhere USA, scarcely spotted by campers, hikers, and mythical creature enthusiasts looking to catch a glimpse of the dirty furry being.  There are those who are even more keen in catching bigfoot as a small group of big chested women set off into the wilderness to capture bigfoot and make their fantasies come true as they have their way with the beast.  However, two other groups are after the big, bad bigfoot – a brother-sister hillbilly duo seek to lay legitimacy to the legend’s blood relationship to their family and a trio of time travelling blonde babes have come to the past to export Bigfoot’s excrement worth trillions in the future.  Factions collide in this chesty-chase to be the first to snag the elusive, big-breast loving Bigfoot.

I’ve aforesaid that my quest for just an okay bigfoot storyline and film would suffice a lifelong dream of the big man getting some big respect in the movie industry.  You can’t count William Dear’s “Harry and the Hendersons” because it’s frankly not a horror movie though one of the best representations of our common and collective perceptive concepts of the creature.  You can’t also count Ryan Schifrin’s gory and intense “Abominable” as the Yeti is more of Bigfoot’s mountainous cousin.   Would Jim Wynorski, the director of “Chopping Mall” and “Return of Swamp Thing,” have the answer to my, and maybe all of our, prayers with his latest entry “Bigfoot or Bust?”  Far from it.  In fact, Wynorski’s Bigfoot entry, although purposefully campy and slathered with sex appeal, has put Bigfoot films many steps back, creating major concern for the subgenre (as well as the future of comedies) that may never see the light of day with a good installment.   Wynorski also penned the film produced by buxom blondes and feature stars Becky LeBeau, Gail Thackray, and director Jim Wynorski under Coldwater Canyon Pictures.

Instead of “Bigfoot or Bust,” the film should have been retitled as “Bigfoot vs. Bust” as the screen time volume is bursting with more breasts than of Bigfoot, but, likely, both selling features are equal in being not the genuine articles.  Becky LeBeau and Gail Thackray lead a very busty, very mature (as in age, not behavior) cast of cult erotica and exploitation of yore.  The former Playboy centerfold and Pay-Per-View starlet LeBeau’s longstanding work history with Wynorski basically gives her the freedom to do whatever her heart desires and if that means chasing down a man in an Sasquatch suit in skimpy clothing, jumping on random trampolines in the middle of nowhere, and being a DJ producing ACME-style noises with expensive audio equipment with her chesty counterparts, then, by God, that’s what she gets.  “Hard to Die” and “Curse of the Komodo’s” Gail Thackray, once again donning a Dawn-role as Dr. Dawn, a doctor of paranormal psychological and internal medicine, is LeBeau’s co-captain in the rundown expedition with former adult actress Christine Nguyen (“Bikini Jones and the Temple of Eros”, “Girls Guns and Blood”), Cindy Lucas (“Bikini Car Wash Massacre,” “Sharkanasas Women’s Prison Massacre”), and Melissa Brasselle (“Sorceress,” “Camel Spiders”) playing an leather-cladded ancestor of the outlaw Jesse James.  A similar titty train chugs along with Tane McClure (“Death Spa, “Commando Squad”), Deborah Dutch (“Caged Women II,” “Dances with Werewolves”), and Antonia Dorian as time-travelers with oversized plastic future guns and a pair of local bumpkins in Lisa London (“Samurai Cop 2:  Deadly Vengeance,” “Xtro 3:  Watch the Skies”) and Lauren Parkinson (“Halloween Pussy Trap Kill! Kill!,”  “CobraGator”).  Nguyen, Lucas, and Parkinson add young hot-bod blood to the cast of mature erotica icons, bringing down the average age to approx. 45-50 years, in an unofficial way of shepherding in the new while giving the past a grand finale. 

Even though a blatant, unbridled farce, I found “Bigfoot or Bust” to be skeezy and unsettling.  And I actually own two copies of “A Serbian Film” and “Slaughtered Vomit Dolls” without an emotional apprehension! Maybe it’s because there’s not a basic storyline and even one single decent performance. Maybe it’s because the inundated buffoonery plays to the oldest tunes of comedy. Or, maybe, the thought of those two previous aspects are as diluted as they are because the hyper focus is on Jim Wynorski and his elderly band of crewmates direct and film mature women in mostly their underwear, squirting themselves with water bottles and having pajama dance parties at night. The whole production wreaks of schlocky, slimy porn with no script and bad acting, but progresses entirely without the main sell of goods – porn! I wouldn’t even label “Bigfoot or Bust” softcore or even a panty sniff of erotica with the profound lack of skin and hard, sweaty bodies rubbing up against each other in a form of passion from that cast that has decades of body display under their itty-bitty tiny bikinis. Wynorski has directed graphic sexploitation films complete with snazzy, spoof-titles in “The Bare Wench Project,” “Alabama Jones and the Busty Crusade,” and “The Witches of Breastwick,” but Wynorski seemed determined to be anti-nudity, anti-explicit, and overall anti-film in his latest venture without thematically breaking stride in a genre that has become second hand to the filmmaker. “Bigfoot or Bust” is erotica-lite, a lofty romp that’s self-aware of it’s own brand of comedy and exhibits no shame for it’s peep-less peepshow.

The 90’s has come to call to infiltrate the 22nd century with bygone lust idols in “Bigfoot or Bust” on Blu-ray home video from MVD Visual. The not rated, region free Blu is presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Image-wise, the digital picture is unsurprisingly free and clean of spoils, has discernible details, and retains the natural lighting to reflect the natural skin tones on the unnatural cosmetic enhancements which reflects Wynorski’s long-time, director of photography collaborator Chuck Cirino usual plain as the air in front of you style. Fred Olen Ray’s Retromedia, along with Cirino, handle the visual effects which is nothing more than a convex visual effect around the actress’ chest areas and the speaker system cones for the cheap effect of bursting at the seams. There are also ostentatious, future-gun, energy beams that add that tickle of excitement much needed against the long-winded triteness and scores of unfulfilled teasing. The Blu comes with one audio track, an English 5.1 surround sound that perhaps the most genuine part of this release. Since most of the film is shot exteriorly, the dialogue is an echt harvest of tones and captures the surrounding natural elements within the same track with leveled volumes. English subtitles are available. Special features include Becky LeBeau’s hit single for the film, “Animal,” which is just a still photo gallery with an overlay of LeBeau’s single, audio commentary with director Jim Wynorski, a deleted scene of LeBeau changing outfits, a behind-the-scenes featurette worth seeing how Wynorski’s snappy, commanding directorial style and to see the love-or-hate-or-flirtatious dynamics between him and the actresses, and the original theatrical trailer. Runtime is a decelerated 75 minutes. “Bigfoot or Bust” is intentionally whimsy and garners sexploitation royalty for a self-deprecating good time, but the end result is unfunny, unattractive, and kitschy for a director and cast wandering outside their normal niches.

The Bustiest of the Busty on the Hunt for Bigfoot.  Check out “Bigfoot or Bust” on Blu-ray!


Another Cabin of EVIL in the Woods. “Exposure” reviewed! (Scream Team Releasing / Blu-ray)



Get exposed ot “Exposure” on Blu-ray at Amazon.com!

A rough patch in an abusive relationship opens up an opportunity for Myra and Owen to reconnect on a retreat at Owen’s family mountain cabin.  With wilderness for miles around, not a soul can disturb their serene getaway in retrieval what is lost in their relationship.  What they find is a biotic evil that has cursed Owen’s family once before and has returned to build a divide between the struggling lovers as a single, break-the-skin nip can transform anyone into a beastly monster.  Myra and Owen’s love for one another is put to the test when the monster blood insidiously begins to take over, leaving nearly nothing recognizable left behind the eyes. 

A complete monster movie bred out of the indie spirit with a callback to prosthetic practical effects that evokes a mental and emotion psychological theme around the durability of a relationship after being compromised by internal abuse and, possible, heredity mental health.  That’s the deep dive, suppositional story surrounding Austin Snell’s 2018 sophomoric feature film “Exposure” with a script penned by Snell and first-time screenwriter Jake Jackson.  “Exposure” is filmed in the wooded mountains of scenic Leadville, Colorado just outside the city limits of the quaint, stuck-in-time downtown where annual skijoring is a popular attraction right in the heart of town on mainstream.   Snell and Jackson produce the film alongside Clayton Ashley, who has worked as a gaffer on Snell’s debut feature “Erasure,” under their Kansas based LLC production company, Sunrunner Films.  

You can bet your lift ticket that the cast of “Exposure” is not strapping on skies and gripping to a rope for their dear life as a horse pulls the skier through the streets of downtown to go over manmade slopes and obstacles.  I wouldn’t think Snell would want to risk his four-person cast to such revelry actions that could result in injury.  Instead, a quiet, cabin-in-the-woods shoot leaves the actors to focus on the story at hand where a ingrained woodland evil infects and destroys an already bridle relationship between young couple Myra (Carmen Anello, “Zombie Beauty Pageant” and “I Am Lisa”) and James (Owen Lawless, “Hell Town”).  Anello and Lawless make a cute couple with some baggage hanging over their heads that is mostly implied rather than fully divulged and they sell well what their characters are struggling with, which is mainly trust.  Afraid of Owen’s temper, Myra is reluctant about moving forward in their relationship whereas Owen’s trust lies with Myra separating herself from an affair with a doting fling with a penchant for sending her sweet nothing texts she tries desperately to ignore.  I honestly don’t feel the immense love and hate tension in the room between Anello and Lawless who are more like best friends with an occassional spat than lovers going through a severe rough patch.  The more show of passion between them clings to the insincerity but that’s the high note for the connection between them.  Lynn Lowery (“I Drink Your Blood,” “The Crazies”) has a small role in flashbacks as Owen’s grandmother and Bruce Smith as the grandfather.

If you have already viewed Austin Snell’s “Exposure” then you likely know that the title is entangled in a double meaning. Perhaps even a triple meaning. Mountainous woods surrounded by frigid air with little-to-no help in sight leads to the vulnerability against the natural elements. In this case, the evil is the element, an unnatural one, that has laid claim to the area and sought the generational organic matter of Owen and Myra for its vile purposes – to spread its wickedness through the veins and mutate its victim into a hideous, baleful beast with a mind to match. The third meaning is more metaphorical as the term exposure can also be defined as the revelation of a typically bad thing that wasn’t clear before. In the film, Owen and Myra are going through a tough period in their romance with one of the inimical causes is Owen’s explosive and hurtful anger. Slithers of his masked morose behavior bubble to the surface in a motif view of just why they need to sort out the turbulent present in order for their possible future to resemble their merry past. The flashback story about Owen’s grandparents shed some light that what Owen may be going through is inborn, hereditary, and unchangeable; Owen’s reason and love mutates toward a gradual descent into monstrous behavior and that’s what the evil symbolically represents. Snell just happens to spin genuine relationship woes into an emblematic story with campy practical creature feature prosthetics and makeup. What most will dislike about “Exposure” is Snell’s true indie, natural approach to the special features that relies heavy on the cheesy, rubbery prosthetics and tangible tube and rod special effects without a lick of visual imagery for a smoothed over appearance. I applaud Snell for his raw, if not antiquated, choice that nods the throwbacks in the absence of contemporary conveniences.

For the first time on home video, “Exposure” makes a Blu-ray debut courtesy of Scream Team Releasing and distributed by MVD Visual. The not rated, NTSC region free, AVC encoded Blu-ray is presented in a widescreen 16X9 (1.78:1) aspect ratio. The 1080p, high-definition resolution looks pretty good and detailed, despite the heavy blue tint and gels, with negligible compression issues, especially with the heavy use of fog machine and a number of night scenes that don’t display noticeable banding or fuzzy/blotchy pixelation. The English language PCM 2.0 stereo audio provides a lossy amplitude that’s definitively detrimental to “Exposure’s” teetering success with audiences and the tracks don’t punch like that should for an atmospheric creature feature. The dialogue also sounds a bit boxy and artificial at times but, nonetheless, the dialogue track is still clear and discernible. Special features include cast and crew audio commentaries, a quick glimpse featurette into the behind-the-scenes of the special features, production stills, theatrical trailer, and retro VHS trailer. The physical Blu-snap case comes with reversible cover art, which, if you ask me, the secondary cover is the best with the illustrated, shadowy monster looming over a brightly lit heroine carrying a flashlight and a small axe. “Exposure’s” tribute veneer to the 80’s creature feature is spectacular without a doubt but lacks the energy to fully come to terms with its theme that’s become caught in the throes of a throwback rather than in the throes of relationship reconciling.

Get exposed ot “Exposure” on Blu-ray at Amazon.com!