Vengeance Knows No Price on EVIL’s Head Alive. “L.A. Bounty” reviewed! (Scorpion Releasing / Blu-ray)

“L.A. Bounty” on Blu-ray and Available to Purchase at Amazon.com

When a Los Angeles mayor candidate is kidnapped from his home at gunpoint, suspicions immediately turn to the incumbent mayor in what seems cheap move to remove a rival, but the abduction is no snatch and grab for a quick buck and political advantage.  All-around prevailing bad guy Tim Cavanaugh is the spiritually unhinged mastermind orchestrating the scheme behind the scenes.  When the police don’t have a clue what to do next other than to wait for kidnapper demands, bounty hunter Ruger steps into the fold with a coerced hot tip about the kidnapping plan.  With a score to settle in the death of her ex-partner, Ruger is hot on Cavanaugh’s tail, foiling multiple assassination attempts on a witness, the mayor candidate’s wife, by Cavanaugh’s men, and determined to put an end to Cavanaugh once and for all.

If you’re a Sybil Danning fan whose had enough of seeing the blonde genre film icon in skimpy, or even sans, clothing, then “L.A. Bounty” should be your next upcoming feature with a leather-cladded Danning, in a nearly dialogue silent performance, blasting away henchmen left-and-right with a pump action shotgun.  The 1989 action thriller is penned by Michael W. Leighton (“Rush Week”), based off a story from the “Chained Heat” and “Howling II …. Your Sister is a Werewolf” cult actress and directed by “Power Ranger” franchise director Worth Keeter.  Before made-for-TV round house kicks, Zordon, and Kaiju monsters and machines that has become the mega “Power Ranger” franchise, Keeter had made a modest life out of obscure indie horror with “Dogs of Hell,” worked with buxom blondes such as Pamela Anderson in the thriller “Snapdragon,” and even dabbled in the exploitation ventures of Earl Owensby productions with “Chain Gang.”  Filmed in and around the Los Angeles area, “L.A. Bounty” is the ex-con gone vigilante with a vendetta from the production team of the Danny, Robert Palazzo, and S.C. Dacy founded Adventuress Productions International as well as a production of Leighton & Hilpert Productions, with Michael Leighton producing, and presented by the Noble Entertainment Group.

As one of renowned queens of scream, Sybil Danning, is a recognizable icon amongst low-budget horror fans as well as cheap thrill actioners and sexy thrillers.  So much so, that her fame has granted her the opportunity to work on a passion project where she can be the Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris shoot’em up action hero that was a popular juggernauting ilk in the 80’s.  Cladded in leather and denim, Danning plays the silent, strong type with emphasis on the silent. Her character, an ex-cop named Ruger now a bounty hunter looking to even the score with Cavanaugh who ruthlessly wasted her partner, has roughly three lines in the entire 1 hour and 25-minute runtime, but Ruger is in full blown view of being badass with a large gun and unafraid to use it on mindless grunts. Danning coldness compliments the contrary with Wings Hauser’s babbling, manic psychopath. The “Mutant” and “The Wind” actor’s sordid bad guy Tim Cavanaugh has a special relationship with God, warped by his twisted nature for organized chaos, but is unable to keep trusted entourage due to the fact he keeps killing them for not being able to nix Ruger. Hauser is fantastic to watch as the unconventional villain of unpredictability. For instance, Cavanaugh never leaves home base, a storage warehouse full of crates and containers and apparently inside those crates and containers are mechanism and gadgets to thwart off unwelcomed guests. As Hauser improves dancing through the hallways and displays erratic behavior while painting, we’re starting to realize Cavanaugh’s mindset is one we’ve seen before but without the Joker face paint and the act is entertaining and pairs well with Danning’s stoicism. While Ruger and Cavanaugh are obviously the main course, veteran TV actor Henry Darrow (“Tequila Body Shots”) and a slightly younger veteran TV actress Lenore Kasdorf (“Amityville Dollhouse”) appetize in between with sticking to the script of a routine kidnapper scenario, offering little to motivate the direction the story itself works toward itself. Robert Hanley, Van Quattro (“Agnes”), Bob Minor (“Commando”), Frank Doubleday (“Escape from New York”), Robert Quarry (“Count Yorga, Vampire”) and Maxine Wassa (“No Strings 2: Playtime is Hell”) as Cavanaugh’s nude muse for his art.

“L.A. Bounty” is about a bounty hunter tracking down an old adversary for retribution but other than a few pieces of wanted paper notices, there’s really no other indication that Ruger is like Dog Chapman the Bounty Hunter although the platinum blonde hair would suggest otherwise.  Sybil Danning is definitely sexier in leather and denim than Dog and sure does talk a whole lot less but as a part of general audience pool and with a title that suggest such a profession, wouldn’t it make more sense to build up Ruger’s caseload with a few introductory chases before we’re chin deep in the Cavanaugh obsession?  Also, that motivational drive that sends Ruger down a path of payback lacks substance and is sullied by a script snafu of Ruger having a flashback of Cavanaugh executed her partner despite not being present.  Fortunately, “L.A. Bounty” is not a feeble farce of an action flick.  Danning is a striking, statuesque presence, the squibs exhibit a bloody gun blazing firefight, and if you’re a disappointed perv in Danning keeping her clothes on this time around, there are a handful of brief nudity scenes from other actresses sprinkled throughout.  One of the other highlights is the eclectic score arrangement by then “Heart” guitarist Howard Leese and John Sterling of “Revenge of the Cheerleaders.”  With a Jan Hammer-esque synth-tense wave, a cop melodrama guitar riff, presumably provided by Leese, and a contemporary tribal beat, “L.A. Bounty” has immense range for every scenario with its own personal composition that’s high energy, catchy, and fits the action.

“L.A. Bounty” differs from any other role in the Sybil Danning canon that’s mostly action and barely any talk and is dead set on broadening the cult actress into the popular rogue cop role of the late 80’s-early 90’s. Scorpion Releasing presents the original MGM vault material of “L.A. Bounty” on a high definition, 1080p, AVC encoded Blu-ray release with an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The 35mm stock has retained its blue-ribbon quality from over the years and the transfer really accentuates the near timeless picture with a brilliant, well-balanced, color palette, an even contrast for production lighting to properly illuminate around the faint and dense shadows, and no noticeable meddling against a natural grain with a pleasant texture scheme. The English DTS-HD stereo mix is mighty donkey that might be lite but packs a punch when it kicks. The release could benefit from a multi-channel surround sound output to give a tumultuous sense of melee gun battles. Dialogue is clean, clear, and ample with good depth definition and plentiful range in ambience. Optional English SDH subtitles are available. What’s essentially a bare bones release, the Blu-ray only comes with chapter selection and setup options. The physical attributes echo the supplementary material with a traditional Blu-ray snapper with outer latch and cover art based off the film’s original one sheet. The film is rated R, is region A hard coded, and has a runtime of 85 minutes. “L.A. Bounty” remains a step or two above the Andy Sidaris guns, girls, and giant explosions fare with gilt-edge performances and stylistic avenues representing the best of the originating decade in what is the most divergent film of Sybil Danning’s typically typecasted career.

 

Hunt down “L.A. Bounty” into Your Sybil Danning Collection! Purchase here!

 

 

Two Out-Of-Town Girls. A Town Full of Depravity. One EVIL Massacree! “Even Lambs Have Teeth” reviewed! (DVD / Syndicado)


It’s True.  “Even Lambs Have Teeth!”  Now On DVD.

Katie and her best friend Sloane volunteer to work on a countryside organic farm for a month in order to have one fabulous shopping spree weekend in New York City.  Taking Katie’s Uncle’s precautions semi-seriously, the two young women play it fast and loose while waiting for the bus that heads straight to the farm as they agree to hitch a ride with local boys, two brothers, who offer a ride instead of taking the bus.  Instead of arriving at the farm to work on the NYC trip, Katie and Sloane wake up chained to shipping containers where they’ve been incorporated into a twisted town’s sex trade systematized by the brothers, their mother, and a local shopkeeper of missing women to provide the local perverts a quality product.  Raped for days and coming to the fatal end of their use, Katie and Sloane barely escape with their lives only to turn back to reign down merciless revenge on the entire community of accomplices. 

When your parents warn to never get into a stranger’s car, this is why!  “Even Lambs Have Teeth” is the 2015 exploitation rape-revenge thriller from “Recoil” director Terry Miles looking to get his hands dirty with a script diving into the unpleasantries of a rural prostitution ring while washing his hands clean of sin with vindictive, vigilante justice antibacterial hand soap.  The Canadian horror film, which embraces a title suggesting not everything cute and fluffy is harmless, meek, and without malice, joins a slew of like-minded films of the last decade in the resurgence of the subgenre from the high profile remakes of the trailblazer rape-revenge pilots of the 1970’s, such as “The Last House on the Left” and “I Spit on your Grave,” to contemporary crafted original works from Coralie Fargeat’s “Revenge” from 2017 or Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman” from 2020 that enacts a woman’s voice on the subject matter of sexual assault and the course the victim ensues to not right a wrong but rather to satisfy an itch for six-feet-under retaliation.  Having one of, if not the, longest pre-title opening sequences ever at a staggery 23 minutes before the title comes up, “Even Lambs Have Teeth” is from the Random Bench Productions’ producing team of Braden Croft’s forgotten sasquatch flick “Feed the Gods” of Elizabeth Levine, Robin Nielsen, Adrian Salpteter, and Danielle Stott-Roy along with Gregory Chambet (Av:  The Hunt”) and Dimitri Stephanides (“Don’t Hang Up”) under the banner companies of WTFilms (“Slaxx”) and the France-based Backup Media (“Piggy”).

In order to be the sweet and promiscuous that oozes innocence and ignorance while also, on the other side of the coin, becoming the subjugated flavor of the week by exploiters craving the almighty dollar at the expense of your body, Katie and Sloane need to be a rock solid, yin and yang energy force to machinate the undoing of their captors and rapists without an ounce of empathy, compassion, and hesitation. Tiera Skovbye (“Summer of 84”) and Kirsten Prout (“Joy Ride 3: Road Kill”) put forward the right foot in Katie and Sloane’s plight and fight for not only to survive but also to make sure what happened to them never happens to any other woman misfortunately stepping one foot into a town full of tongue-lapping wolves by laying waste to the Podunk prostitution syndicate. Skovbye and Prout start invincible as if the world is their oyster that includes Prout gender reversal of stereotyped horny best friend. We don’t see that kind of confidence again in both women until after the dirty deeds are done to them by the likes of distinct, depraved men with one thing in common – their undying perversion for cargo container chained young women. These customers so to speak are played by Craig March (“Suspension”), Graem Beddoes (“Horns”), and Christian Sloane (“Black Christmas” ’06) and go through the entrepreneurship of one demented family business. Hunky bothers Jed (Garrett Black) and Lucas (Jameson Parks) lure the itching to have fun Katie and the always randy Sloane to their isolated house where their mother (Gwynyth Walsh, “The Crush”) drugs them with blueberry pie before meeting the ringleader of the bunch, the unofficial town mayor in Boris (Patrick Gilmore, “Trick ‘r Treat”) who isn’t as dippy or uncivilized in his business practices. Performances are more than solid all around for an under-the-radar Canadian tit-for-tat flip the script. The cast comes complete with Manny Jacinto, Darren Mann, Brittany Willacy, Valerie Tian, Chelah Horsdal, and Michael Karl Richards as the detective uncle.

What separates “Even Lambs Have Teeth” from the rest of the pack?  That’s the million-dollar question that helps us select a title amongst a sea of sordid rape-revengers and provides different angling lures that can draw interest and elevate beyond the material that has just been recycling the mold every so often. What generates an enjoyable watch is the well-written dialogue with witty, provocative banter from Kirsten Prout that can blush her best friend to near unbearable shame. The exchanges throughout feel fresh enough to keep our ears tuned into the action and the actors do a phenomenal job keeping up the character acts that evoke a rightfully root for or a rightfully despise against. Not everything about the characters is entirely copasetic with a wavering integrity in what they do. Katie and Sloane revenge spree buckles the knees of nearly every individual involved, reducing them down to a sniveling murderee for the sole sake of a money offering gag device. While the gag greatly points out a commonly used trope in these types of stories, there’s an immense let down with the way a group of predators go down with virtually no fight or no dignity. The starkness of the sudden turn of events might unmask who they really are on the inside, weak stomached sociopathic and chauvinistic control freaks with a hankering for either quick cash or to get their rocks off. Comparing “Even Lambs Have Teeth” with other rape-revenge flicks, the Terry Miles production is on the lighter side of explicit material, for a lack of a better way to describe. Usually, audience bear witness and endure in shared disgusts to the unspeakable acts of violence, torture, and sexual assault to not only shock the viewers but also directly force them into a role of surefire support for the woman so when she ultimately escapes and goes postal with a no holds barred policy against her violator(s), we clap and cheer for when the rusty nailed and sharp object rod is plunged in a fit of rectal sodomy retaliation. “Even Lambs Have Teeth’s” third act is the cleanest with a familiar territory of a quick and dirty barrage of brutality, an expected recourse handed down for all the pain and suffering that doesn’t stop until these hopeful girls, who are now forced to be pragmatic women, kill every last person involved.

A punishable by death dose of executions without the judge, jury, or trial in Terry Miles “Even Lambs Have Teeth,” now released on DVD home video from the once VOD emerging Syndicado who have now entered the physical release game. The single-sided, single-layered DVD5 presents the film in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a rather remarkable picture quality that’s able to capture the minute objects like floating dust and differentiate between assorted lighting. Skin tones appear textural and natural and the organically lit tone leaves noir at the door and the glossiness of hyperviolence unneeded as the premise itself is satisfyingly unfeigned to be dolled up as something else. The English language Dolby (though not listed as such) surround sound caters to mostly every whim with clear dialogue, good enough depth, and a soundtrack with fidelity albeit the same song stuck on repeat. What’s essentially a feature only release, bonus material only includes the theatrical trailer of the film with a final product package not terribly appealing with a colorless tawdry cover of a dirtied Tiera Skovbye and Kirsten Prout glaring stoical outward with weapons in hand. The unrated feature has a straightforward and brisk three act structure within the confines of 78 minutes. Not as vile as most but undoubtedly slimy, “Even Lambs Have Teeth” bites down hard with a respectable rape-revenge thriller in a subgenre that has yet to hit a wall.


It’s True.  “Even Lambs Have Teeth!”  Now On DVD.

Nothing Left To Lose Wants to Plunge It’s EVIL Blood Into Everyone! “L.A. AIDS Jabber” reviewed! (Visual Vengeance / Blu-ray)

A Dirty Needle Party in the “L.A. AIDS Jabber” Now Available on a Blu-ray Collector’s Edition

Jeff has just received terrible news about his health. He has contracted the deadly disease AIDS. Already mentally imbalanced with uncontrollable rage and a preconceived kill list, his damning diagnosis enrages him to act on his list of quarries. Isolating himself as a loner by kicking his endearing girlfriend to the curb, a furious-fueled Jeff uses a syringe to extract his blood and turns the needle in a weapon of mass infection by condemning others to the same diseased fate, starting with a high-turnover prostitute he suspects infected him six months ago. L.A. cops are hot on his trail as the unhinged hypodermic needle jabber continues his stabbing-spree, puncturing contaminated blood into anyone who has crossed him. A news reporter becomes Jeff’s next target after chiding his attacks on televised news and as the police keep close tabs on the potential next victim, Jeff aims to outsmart them with a single pinprick tactic.

AIDS. The very mention of the acronym rocked the U.S. nation to its knees in the late 80s-early 90’s as the country went through an epidemic inflation and the numerous scared communities and unprepared medical professionals were still learning from and evolving to the disease that took lives in rapid succession. Initially, no one knew how it spreads and so the scientific body had to dredge through tons of research and trails to determine cause and effect and get a sense of the true death sentence percentage from those infected. This was the turbulent scare baseline of Drew Godderis’s “L.A. AIDS Jabber, also formerly known as simply “Jabber,” the 1994 shot-on-video feature that became Godderis’s first and only written-and-directed work to deliver, in turn, a lasting impression revolving around the AIDS epidemic with a spin on fear mongering. Self-produced on a microbudget and shooting on the weekends paled in comparison to the extended year of principal photography that became the tedious portion in the making of the “L.A. AIDS Jabber” come to fruition.

Godderis printed a casting call in the Los Angeles periodical Drama-Logue to find his principal players in this would-be crime thriller and lessened slasher of sorts. The film scored its leading man in the fresh-faced Jason Majik. Majik’s introductory leading role as Jeff the jabber hardened the then teenage actor to discover depth and motivation of a character but ended up playing on screen an angsty young man bent out of shape and taking his revenge against the world he saw unfair, downtrodden, and hopeless. There’s a love interest that would seemingly be a good de-escalation of drama or tap into the vein of choice between revenge and love; instead, Godderis completely benches Jeff’s love interest by literally having Jeff run away from his adoring girlfriend like a 5-year-old who didn’t get a lollipop. At the opposite side of the law spectrum is a heroine, a detective Rogers played by Marcy Lynn. Lynn’s by-the-book L.A. detective performance is practically wrought iron with her character not only determined to catch the AIDS jabber but also to be an antagonist against her fellow cops’ corruptive wrongdoings. Lynn does a solid job being the tough cop while also being a sensitive soul going through a workaholic-stemmed separation from her husband and child, another excursion, like Jeff’s tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend, that goes unexplored. Since the principal photography extended way beyond the usual indie feature timeline of 7 to 14 days with slight differences as well as major changes to the actors. Lynn’s weight fluctuates throughout the story and Lynn’s costar, Tony Donangelo as Detective Smithers, was quickly written off having died in an accident since the actor was no longer available. Justin Mack replaces Donangelo as Rogers’ new partner, Detective Smithers, and continues the pursuit the protection of the in danger female report (Joy Yurada) from being punctured by an AIDS infected crazed maniac.

Despite a fluid cast of changes and a shooting schedule’s full of weekend work and on a tight budget, Drew Godderis was able to pull off a provocative themed project without having to go into the details of how AIDS, back during the initial flareups and scares, transmitted mostly between homosexual men. Godderis purposefully skirted around the issue with the intention of not declaring a rooted spreader event. Godderis only ever so delicately alludes to Jeff’s pansexual flings. We know for a fact that Jeff has two sides to him: a gentlemen side who refrains from sleeping with his good-natured girlfriend and a libidinous side to get his jollies off by paying a hooker by the hour, the latter he suspects his point-of-contact with the disease. There’s a moment of monologuing early on, shortly after his diagnosis, suggesting to the audience other sexual endeavors that made purposefully ambiguous and this is where Godderis sidesteps the homosexuality angle without having to completely forgo it. As for a SOV feature, an earnest approach would be that even though “L.A. AIDS Jabber” is a killer title that rolls right off the tongue, the film itself doesn’t appeal itself in a Super Video cassette. The feature would have likely done better and would have certainly looked better if kept on the original recording format of 35mm, but due to constant technical difficulties with the camera, the decision to change video formats was decided since video was seeing better outputs. The story isn’t strong enough for the then already rickety format at the time and there’s not spectacle gore to subsidize the playing field. “L.A. AIDS Jabber” is more of a stab to the face approach toward a 1980’s hot topic whereas more cryptic stories, such as John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” use allegories with the ferocity facade of carnage hungry monsters to mask any kind of conspicuously conceived thought regarding AIDS.

Now, I’m not saying “L.A. AIDS Jabber” shouldn’t be on the Wild Eye Releasing SOV sub-label, Visual Vengeance, but as spined number three on the newly curated SOV-horror and cult line, Drew Godderis’ film probably should have been a later constituted release and not in the top five. That’s just my two cents. Yet, the newly illustrated and design crafted slipcover and Blu-ray cover art is top notch from a marketing standpoint and an overall aesthetic. Much like “The Necro Files,” this Visual Vengeance release also comes with a technical disclaimer regarding the acquiring the best-known source materials, standard definition master tapes, and that the quality of the image presentation is by far the best known to exist. Presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the feature lives up to the disclaimer with highly visible aliasing, macroblocking, and soft details that render any delineation fuzzy at best. Blacks see the worst of the compression issues and daytime scenes are often one-sided washed in contrast. The lossy English Dolby 2.0 is unable to withstand some of Jeff’s temper tantrum moments yet still holds up well enough to provide clear enough dialogue throughout. There’s a slight hum from start-to-finish that can takes away from the experience but isn’t a fatal blow to the audio presentation. Special feature is where it’s at with these Visual Vengeance releases with bonus content including a new director’s introduction to the film, a making-of featurette Lethal Injections: The Making of L.A. AIDS Jabber, a lengthy and in-depth interview with star Jason Majik Bleeding the Pack, an interview with “Blood Diner” director Jackie King, interviews with Drew Godderis’ son Justin, who had a small role in the film, costar Joy Yurada, cinematographer Rick Bradach, actor Gene Webber, a 2021 location tour around L.A., photo gallery, and the L.A. AIDS Jabber 2021 trailer as well as Visual Vengeance trailers. The physical release holds just as much bonus material with a cardboard slipcover, collectible mini-poster, Retro Wild Eye Releasing stickers, and reversible cover art of the original Drew Godderis mocked up VHS cover. Interesting concept that misses the vein and tries to cash in on shockvertising by not necessarily making a statement in “L.A. AIDS Jabber” purely exploitation bio-hazard waste.

A Dirty Needle Party in the “L.A. AIDS Jabber” Now Available on a Blu-ray Collector’s Edition

A Gondola Ride of EVIL! “Gore in Venice” reviewed! (Full Moon Features / Blu-ray)

Check out “Gore in Venice” on Blu-ray at Amazon.com!

A man stabbed to death in the abdomen. A few feet away, a drowned woman, pulled from an adjacent Venice canal, wearing no underwear beneath her dress. A double murder of a husband and wife has baffled a young, hardboiled egg-eating Inspector named De Pol, but the inspector knows one thing for sure, drugs were certainly involved. As the inspector digs deeper into the horribly confounding case, he learns that husband and wife were into a wide variety of kinky perversions that may have led to their untimely demise. Unable to make sense of some of the case’s facts and as more bizarre murders flare up all over town, De Pol leans on the behavior expertise of the department’s medical examiner as well as anecdotes by key suspects to piece together a prurient plot of perversion-killings sought to be handled quietly and quickly before tourists catch wind of what’s happening, and more dead bodies are discovered in the unparalleled canal-laden landscape of Venice.

Sex, drugs, and eggs run rampant on the walkway bridges and watery canals of the beautifully conglomerated Venice, Italy in Mario Landi’s “Gore in Venice.”   Also known by other titles such as Giallo a Venezia, Mystery in Venice, and Thriller in Venice around the globe, the “Supersexymarket” and “Patrick Still Lives” director Landi helms one of the more controversial Italian crime mysteries to come out of the golden age of giallo horror during the turn of the decade of 1979.  A script that houses a hellbent killer in super cool and reflective aviator shades, a sex-crazed married couple, and a detective racking his brain to connect the motive dots is the last treatment penned by writer Aldo Serio in what’s a non-linear, flashback driven, sordid piece of salacious culprit candy that’s more sexually explicit than is a whodunit thriller.  “Gore in Venice” is one of the few productions of Elea Cinematografica produced by Gabriele Crisanti who has produced “Satan’s Baby Doll, “Malabimba,” “Burial Ground:  The Nights of Terror,” and many others notorious for their sleazy and gory controversial content.

In the cast’s lead of this Italian production is an American actor.  The California-born, “Weapons of Death’s” actor Jeff Blynn has lived in Italy for much of his career and had become tapped to play youthful inspector De Pol, an arrogant prodigy of Venice sleuths with a habit of constantly cracking open and eating hard boiled eggs in the office, out of the office, at the crime scene, during the questioning in suspect’s home, and in just about every single scene Blynn is messing with an egg in a symbolic gesture of trying to trying to crack a strange case is to crack an egg strangely.  Blynn’s pale complexion, large perm afro, and thick caterpillar mustache make him stick out against his Italian counterpart costars that include Leonora Fani (“The House by the Edge of the Lake”) and Gianni Del (“Sex, Demons and Death”) as the deceased wife and husband, Flavia and Fabio.  Fani and Del’s impeccable Euro traits are flaunted all over Venice as sexual maniacs, exhibitionists, and voyeurs who take their relationship to the next level every time they step outside their character’s love nest full of erotica books and wall-to-wall mirror bedroom.  However, trouble in paradise sends the couple hurling toward jagged rocks with salacious orgy photos involving a prostitute (Maria Mancini), a drug-dealer named Marco (Maurizio Streccioni), and Flavia’s best friend Marzia (Mariangela Giordano, “Killer Barbys”) that omits no one from the suspect pool.  Not even Flavia’s ex-lover, a cartoonist Bruno Neilson (Vassili Karis, “An Angel for Satan”) is safe from Inspector De Pol’s investigation.  Unlike traditional giallo films, we’re already privy to the killer, a voyeuristic madman (Andrea Caron) with slick aviators and a complex hardon to kill everyone involved in the orgy and it’s up to Del Pol and his troupe of professional colleagues and chums, who provide not only the vigor (“Private House of the SS’s” Eolo Capritti’s gung-ho assistant to the inspector) but also sage, scientific guidance surrounding sexual deviancy (“Satan’s Baby Doll’s” Giancarlo Del Duca as the case’s pathologist).

As noted in the previous paragraph, “Gore in Venice” is less giallo than one would expect despite an alternate title denoting the film as such in Italy as “Giallo a Venezia.” Does the killer have gloved hands? Yes. Is Landi’s film stylish enough to pass criteria? Absolutely. Does “Gore in Venice” live up to the eponymous title? Blood flows freely. Yet, why doesn’t “Gore in Venice” feel like a traditional giallo? One of the more clinching reasons is the mystery dissolves roughly halfway into the story by exposing the unmasked, unconcealed killer, trailing off from that unsolved perplexity of who the killer might be at the conclusion. However, one could argue that though the killer is revealed, the question of why all the carnage still remains, leaving the giallo more or less intact. Violent tropes aside, Landi’s film abundantly saturates itself into carnal exploits that linger on-and-on more than necessary to get the point across. These scenes of masturbation, public exhibition, and raging erotic zigzag along a blurry, indistinct line of pornography, coming (and coming!) away from the intended murder-mystery subgenre with more skin and slaughter. That’s not the say “Gore in Venice” fails to live up to the moniker as the kills are as grisly as implicitly promised with a large blade to the vaginal cavity, one poor soul gas drenched and lit up like a bonfire, and a one gal having the naked legs cut out right from under her complete with an extreme closeup of the sawing pellicle perfection. Whether because of Mario Landi’s direction or Aldo Siro’s script, the explicit eroticism eats way too far into the story that, in turn, ultimately betrays any kind character development aside from the tragic perversive arc of Fabio and Flavia. Inspector De Pol often skirts around much of the action being only an investigator continuously trapped in the accounts of other people’s tales of debauchery and always one step late to the crime scene party that baffles his keen scrutinizing eye. I’m not one to deprecate graphic sexual content, especially in works that display actual fondling and masturbation in their art, but “Gore in Venice” mildly entertains as a low-end giallo albeit a spectacularly vivid and vehement blood show in front of the unique waterways of Venice.

Under one of the more slapped together and detailed shrouded cover arts I’ve seen this year comes “Gore in Venice” onto Blu-ray home video as one of the revisited classics purchased and redistributed by Full Moon Features. The Blu-ray is an AVC encoded, region free, 1080p presentation of an uncut (and uncensored) remastered feature exhibited in a full frame 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The Full Moon back cover mentions the transfer was compiled from the best available materials, but, honestly, the original 35mm print looks great with only sparse dirt specks and an occasional frame omission. Details look good as well despite the flat coloring. The Italian language LCPM 2.0 and 5.1 offer nearly identical outputs with no real composition distinction between the two others than a slightly more complex background track of motorboats ripping through the canals. There are no bonus materials with this feature only release that’s house in a standard blue snapper case and a red on black, cheesy, Eurotrash cover art for the 99-minute film. Libidinous with a capital L, expect more of sesso e depravazione with profound tidbits of gore than an engrossingly intelligent crime thriller in Mario Landi’s “Gore in Venice.”

Check out “Gore in Venice” on Blu-ray at Amazon.com!

Bestest EVIL in the Whole Wide World! “Clifford” reviewed! (Ronin Flix / Blu-ray)



“Clifford” is the Best Comedy of 1994 and Now on Blu-ray!

10-year-old Clifford wants to go to Dinosaur World in Los Angeles.  I mean, really, really, wants to go to Dinosaur World and will stop at nothing to get his heart’s desire, even if that means intentionally grounding his parent’s plane destined for Hawaii.  Clifford’s parents, on the verge of strangling their own relentless mischievous son, concocts a care plan that includes reaching out to Uncle Martin, an out-of-touch, workaholic, kid-adverse L.A. resident looking to impress upon longtime, child-longing girlfriend that he adores children.  It’s a win-win for everyone, even Clifford who’s chances to ride Larry the Scary Rex rollercoaster at Dinosaur World have significantly increased.  The perfect plan is swimmingly going well until Martin’s boss throws him a deadline curveball that sidelines Clifford’s theme park trip, breaking his promise to a more than impish little boy who has declared life-ruining war against the Bestest uncle in the whole wide world.

Yes, finally!  “Clifford” has arrived onto Blu-ray home video and just like that that mischievous little brat comes back into our nostalgic hearts.  The 1991-filmed, 1994-released PG-rated comedy is written by “Back to School” duo Steven Krampmann and William Porter and directed by Peter Flaherty, director of “Who’s Harry Crumb?” and Martin Short’s pseudo-late night talk show series “Primetime Glick.”  If you don’t see Krampmann or Porters’ names in the pre- and post-credits but notice Jay Dee Rock and Bobby van Hayes scrolling by than that’s because the writers used pseudonyms to quietly disown the finish final film that was embroiled in questionable approaches such as hiring Martin Short, a then 40-year-old comedian-actor, to portray a 10-year-old boy.  Yet, the bizarre comedy that has a talented cast as well as a demented and twisted side to it has gained a rather quiet cult following.  Larry Brezner (“The ‘Burbs”) and Pieter Jan Brugge (“My Demon Lover”) produces “Clifford” and is one of the last releases to trickle out from Orion Pictures before their unfortunate bankruptcy. 

Through extremely creative measures to ensure Martin Short can sell the physicality of a prepubescent boy on screen, “Clifford” is one of the former SNL performer’s best and memorable roles amongst his arsenal of personalities.  The naughtily tormenting persona with a Devil’s grin and absent eyes for sympathy brings Clifford to a level that’s analogous to a fixated horror villain setting a target goal of destruction, mayhem, and chaos. No one is safe from Clifford’s duplicitous trajectory, not even Uncle Martin played by the late, great Charles Grodin (“Midnight Run”) who provides his standard uptight and exasperated character at first but slides into a sinister nihilism when push beyond the point of return. Short and Grodin are centric to the story, phenomenal dynamically, and funny at very second despite how antiquated the content and comedy is at 30 years old. Seeing Short play a little boy doesn’t even register he’s a grown man in an adolescent role and that’s how good Martin Short can massage the material in his favor. You see Short, you see he’s a kid amongst the rest of the cast, you see his childish exploits, and, yet, none of that is troublesome, bothersome, or even a tiny bit weird as you’re drawn into an overexaggerating, yet highly relatable, parenting hardships in negotiating with out of control, scheming children and the pure, unabashed wackiness of Martin Short who, in my mind’s eye, is essentially in a step-down version of his iconic Ed Grimley personality. Bringing down Short’s antics and Grodin’s disgruntled demeanor is the measured Mary Steenburger (“Back to the Future III, “Powder”) subduing, in a good way, audiences as Uncle Martin’s lowkey love interest to bring us down from the eccentric shenanigans. The casting is overall tight on those three leads but Dabney Coleman (“Dragnet”) becomes the sleazy bigwig wedging between his employee, Uncle Martin, and Martin’s girlfriend, Richard Kind (“Stargate”) searching for patient with his insufferable Clifford, Jennifer Salvidge (“Evolution”) as Clifford’s yielding, but equally as exhausted, Clifford’s mother, and “Little Monster’s” Ben Savage as a troubled youth set to follow Clifford’s footprints.

How does “Clifford” hold up to today’s comedies? Rated PG, the 1994 film lacks the big hitting criteria that ultimately slaps stricter rating labels right onto the trailer and home video covers, that ultimately bring in audiences with sex, violence, and harsh language, but “Clifford” isn’t a kids’ film per se and subtly lands more adult oriented and sexually suggestive one-liners and scenes that wouldn’t fly by today’s standards. In fact, I personally believe the entire production would have been scrubbed if the first casting choice for a young boy was a 40-year-old man. Movies like “Clifford” are relics that should be treasured because we’ll never see comedy like this again and that’s what makes “Clifford” a part of cult cinema. “Clifford” doesn’t need itemized fixings to be a great story and to possess substance to be a phenomenal film. Instead, the idiosyncrasies of the plot and the singularity of talent glue the first draft of the inane script together in its finished product, rewinding that chunky gray and white brain matter and the bits of skin, tissue, and tufts of hair back into and onto the head after having its top blown thinking, how the hell do we pull off this script? The first two acts are character building and about the dynamics of two conflicting temperaments that ensue a series of tit-for-tat jail landing pranks and a slew of grating and passive insults, suggesting a character-driven, quirky slapstick story of growth and understanding between the two sides. However, the third act shows another, unexpected side of “Clifford” that revels in Uncle Martin’s vindictiveness after having his mind and spirit broken by a child’s chastising for breaking a promise and Flaherty goes big and berserk with the Larry the Scary Rex rollercoaster (which looks amazing to ride to this date) to which the calamity of events culminates an epiphany for one of them, abetted by the fact a run amok mechanical dinosaur nearly chomped down on a human-sized snack.

“Clifford’s” mischief and mayhem in hi-def never before has looked so good on this new U.S. release Blu-ray from Ronin Flix in association with Scorpion Releasing and MGM. The region A, 90-minute release is presented in 1080p and in an anamorphic widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and much like the Blu-ray’s front cover of blown-up headshot closeups of Martin Short and Charles Grodin and a crumbling two-story home that’s not a component in the film, the picture quality also appears to be a bit stretched, leaving details slightly scattered and marginally pixelated. The transfer print is without a doubt clean and discernable but retains the original, untouched up MGM anterior. The English language DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is the only audio option that provides a good mix and balance of dialogue, chaos, and everything else in between to come together for a gratifying dual channel audio alloy. In extreme instances of bickering, high level pranking, and even the clamorous and deep dino-discharging climax, much of the details remain intact and clear without losing distinctiveness. The Ronin Flix Blu-ray is a feature only release with no software or hardware bonus content. With or without bonus features, the film itself is worth the cinematic calories as “Clifford” shines as arresting tale full of laughs, heart, and anarchy and is a hellraising life-amenity that shouldn’t be lived without.

“Clifford” is the Best Comedy of 1994 and Now on Blu-ray!