In the near future where assistive technology serves as the cultural way of life, a very manual Grey Trace still clings to being self-independent while his loving wife, Asha, laps up and embraces new and innovative tech. When an fatal shooting strikes down Asha and cripples Grey to an automated wheelchair, Grey is forced into a depressive world he no longer recognizes. Desperate to find his wife’s killers, he accepts experimental computer chip implant known as STEM to send the signals from his brain to his extremities; however, that is not all STEM can do. The smart technology can also scan, record, and reactive to all of Grey’s experiences, be a voice of knowledge, and enact super human abilities that will aid in Grey’s vengeance, but without much control over his own body, how much will Grey continue to use the smart device that becomes smarter every minute.
In a cinematic age when remakes, re-imaginings, and sequels really do rule supreme, a breath of innovation and compelling storytelling in Leigh Whannell’s 2018 science fiction, action-noir “Upgrade” is a technological advance that’s feels lightyears ahead in comparison. The “Saw” and “Insidious” writer, who indulges in all of horror’s gracious qualities, tackles the future with a synergetic and brutal vengeance film on indie-budget proportions; however, “Upgrade” feels no where near being low budget in a futuristic world that includes monochromatic self-driving cars, bio-weaponized forearms and hands, and a robotic protein shake slingers for those meal replacement pick-me-ups. With the assistance from Blumhouse Tilt, a Blumhouse production sublabel that seeks to release projects onto multi-platforms, Whannell gained freedom to script, in every sense of the world, his own vision of cyborg horror and crime thriller.
Logan Marshall-Green stars as Grey Trace, an analog man living comfortably in a digital world. Trace is a dying bred as the technology ecosystem slowly creeps into all that earned by hard work, even in his small classic car restoration business. The “Prometheus” star tackles a unique physicality aspect of an action film that involves the robotic responses of hand-to-hand combat while also being the emotional punching bag of pelted heartache and turmoil. Portraying his character as a man’s man, Marshall-Green has to find humility in not only unable to self-serve himself as a cripple, but then also rely on the one thing he withdrew himself from for help….a machine. “Upgrade” primarily focuses on Trace to even having the camera affix to his character during fight sequences, but though most of the narrative is through Trace’s vindictive narrative, a cascading effect of his destruction brings one of his nemesis’s into reactive defense. Fisk, Benedict Hardie from the upcoming remake of “The Invisible Man” that’s also directed by Whannell, is a mysterious soldier of fortune whose backstory, that salivates at the tip of the tongue to be told, is only sampled at best with his cybernetic implants or why he was even chosen to be a deadly, robotic killing machine. Perhaps Fisk’s backstory, and those of his fellow veteran comrades, are another misrepresentation or the maltreatment of veterans by conglomerate, privately owned tech and weapon companies that lean more toward involuntary experimentation rather over anything else that’s an allegory of owning a person, a piece of property, as we also see with STEM attached to Grey Trace’s spinal cord. “Upgrade” rounds out with performances from Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson (“Haunt”), Betty Gabriel (“Get Out”), Kai Bradley, and Simon Maiden as the voice of STEM.
Shot in urban Melbourne that’s quasi-reflective of the gritty streets of Chicago, Leigh Whannell aimed for a fatalistic mystery that breaks down relationship barriers and sustains a punitive jurisdiction of grime. Whannell surely achieves the desired affect that goes from a classy futuristic society to the bottom barrel of human existences that have been tainted by the dark side of tech including addiction and dangers of being fully aware as a sanctioned being. “Upgrade” capitalizes on every inch of its capital to enlarge the quality of a miniature budget and utilizes local talent, who, aside from Logan Marshall-Green, never wane from their unnatural American English accents, to offer heartfelt human performances despite their mechanical transitions. “Upgrade” isn’t “Robocop” or “Nemesis,” but rather more “Terminator” where organic and inorganic don’t exactly coincide to benefit as a single entity. Unlike the autonomous killing machine portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, “STEM” acts like a computer virus working off commands, coding, and complex algorithms to infiltrate and deploy executions to subverse the man over the machine and Whannell’s concept brilliantly contextualizes that dynamic without having too much exposition to divulge and is easily computed without having to be deciphered from binary code.
Coming November 18th is Second Sight Film’s limited edition Blu-ray release of “Upgrade” presented in full HD, 1080p, and clocks in at 100 minutes under a region B UK coding. Unfortunately, a screener disc was provided for review and so I will not be critiquing the video or audio quality at this time so this review is solely about the film only. A static menu including chapters were available on the disc as well as bonus features including a commentary by writer-director Leigh Whannell, a new Second Sights’ interview with the director about his envisioning and how it came to fruition, more new interviews with producer Kylie Du Fresne, cinematographer Stefan Duscio, editor Andy Canny, and fight choreographer Chris Weir. All the interviews showcase depth with the material to their respective roles and opinions about “Upgrade.” Don’t think it necessary to refer filmmaker Leigh Whannell as the “Saw” guy now that “Upgrade” has completely overshadowed the franchise in a single sitting entertained with action, gore, and a heart-rendering story. Surely to be Whannell’s break out film from the horror genre.
A graduate dream research group experiment on paranormal and sensory deprivation sleep patterns involving controlling their own dreams, even if their terrifying, and examining their own deaths but when they pivot to investigate supernatural activity inside an isolated compound mansion in the midst of an arid desert, the four students and their eccentric teacher conjure malevolencies that include satanic rituals and alien encounters. With their professor spearheading an underlying motive to use them for his diabolical plans, the hesitant and scared group must decide to either force their participation or try and escape their instructors madness, but when the lines of reality blur, friend becomes foe and foe becomes friend with casualties in the middle on all sides as grisly depictions of death and suffering question whether their nightmares are spilling into reality.
Subconscious surrealism on an ultimate terror coaster from writer-director Bruce R. Cook with an unspeakable horror in every corner, from flesh eating extraterrestrials to disillusioned Mad Doctors, in the nightmare-inducing “Nightwish!” The 1989 made and 1990 released “Nightwish” is produced by Paul White and Keith Walley, both of whom collaboratively funded through their Wild Street Pictures production company the early 1990s horror which included another Unearthed Classics release, spine #2, “The Dark Side of the Moon” and, also, put a little cash into the Jeffrey Combs cult favorite, the Brian Yuzna sequel of “Re-Animator,” “Bride of Re-Animator.” However, the real star of the filming crew is none other than Sean McLin. Before going full fledge into being a camera operator, especially around the early days of Power Rangers’ television series, McLin had a short stint as director of photography and his cinematography beyond divine that engrossed to draw audiences into odd angles, mind-boggling depth play, and just colors after colors of spectre ghoulishness. McLin provided a pure motley of mental macabre of the Gregory Nicotero (“Day of the Dead”), Robert Kurtzman (“Lord of Illusions”), and Howard Berger (“In The Mouth of Madness”) powerhouse effects team.
The central characters essentially encompass four graduate students – Bill (Artur Cybulski), Jack (“April Fools’s Day’s” Clayton Rohner), Donna (“Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood’s” Elizabeth Kaitan), and Kim (Alisha Das) – along with their stern professor played by the solemn faced Jack Starrett (“Grizzly II: The Concert”). Relatively low on the totem poll names when considering a main cast; hell, I only know Clayton Rohner from his role in the mid-80’s teen transgender appropriation film, “Just One of the Guys” as well as being Admiral Jameson on one episode of Star Trek: TNG. Yet, the combination of crew talent along with the chiseled define facial features of a one Brian Thompson (“Cobra”), the meshed cast suffer no visible calamities or outright fumbles of performance as they each carrier about equal weight into a floating, weightless, construct of boiling human antagonizing fear. The cast rounds out with colorful supporting performances of a muscle head henchmen by Robert Tessier (“The Sword and the Sorcerer”) and the nitwit gate keeper, also animal feeder, Wendall played by Tom Dugan. Yet, Thompson tops the more colorful performances as Dean whose Kim’s ruggedly, manly boyfriend that’s more confident jock without the loss of brain cells. Thompson’s at the height of career, sporing a tank top for most of the film that puts his muscular form on display, but he isn’t the only actor to bare skin as Elizabeth Kaitan and, especially, Alisha Das bare a bit of flesh for the sake of providing a sexual desire to story.
“Nightwish” understandably has a hard chronicle to follow because any film, regardless of genre, incorporating dreams or delving into the state of madness is definitively ambiguous at best, hard to follow, and puts minds into high gear to either understand the just what the hell is going on or to make sense of the chain of events to deduct a reasonable explanation. Sure, over thinking “Nightwish” as a complex construct can be dead wrong. There could be simplicity strewn about and, maybe, we’re too dense or too complicated ourself be aware of the obvious, but Cook certainly knew how to piece together a disjointed storyline that distinctly defines part A of the plot, but parts B and C are so well blend together that the clarity of part A starts to disintegrate and more questions than answers starting whizzing through our think box. “Nightwish” epitomizes the resemblance of nightmare residue and is best left open for personal interpretation.
Spine #3 from Unearthed Films Classics label comes “Nightwish” onto Blu-ray distributed by MVD Visual. The Blu-ray is presented 1080p in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio through a newly restored 4k transfer, but the transfer, perhaps from the best negative possible, has some minuscule wear with faint scratches and dirt impressions; however, the definition and the color palette ultimately overrun the set hard grain with the minor damage also being an after thought. The uncompressed English 2.0 PCM has a better grade in comparison to the video with clear dialogue and a robust soundtrack throughout to which the ambience is nearly overshadows by but does present itself despite the lack of inertia to progress. Special features include a commentary track with Wild Street Pictures producer Paul White and the president and founder of Unearthed Films Stephen Biro. Also available is a photo gallery, trailers, and an extensive cast and crew bio booklet filled also with production notes and a slew of high resolution stills that’s great to flip through. As another judiciously placed classic for Unearthed Films, “Nightwish” is a dream come true for viewers that combines the effects talents of Nicotero, Kurtzman, and Berger with the terrifying ferocity of facing death through in the dark subconsciousness.
After being terminated from Government involvement and dismissed as a professor at a prestigious university, controversial scientist, Dr. Wojick Borge, vows retaliation against those who deem his life work, re-animating lifeless cerebrals into fevered ferociousness, irresponsible and dangerous, but before developing his plan of attack, an irefully distracted Borge is struck down and crippled by a pickup truck. Surviving the accident, Dr. Borge joins a radical militant group with a mission of destruction toward the United States of America. An elite team of five special ops hired guns are dispatched to Borge’s isolated desert compound to locate and destroy the mad scientist and revoke his dastardly end of days card that also involves a pre-calculated asteroid strike on Earth, leaving an EMP trail that wipes out all electronics and with America dark, the crazed scientist intends on releasing his toxin amongst millions of people that will vehemently destroy themselves. Caught in the mix are college kids on a road trip when their car dies and nothing can prepare them when they come face-to-face with an undead pre-historic sentinel at Dr. Borge’s compound.
First, there was the baaah’d-ass, four-legged, undead lamb chops in Jonathan King’s “Black Sheep.” Then, these living dead aqua rodents didn’t give a dam in Jordan Rubin’s “Zombeavers.” Now, directors Milko Davis and Thomas Martwick go full pre-historic carnivore with “The Jurassic Dead.” A indelicate cross between “Jurassic Park” and any zombie film you could probably think of for a film that’s has nifty alternate titles, such as “Zombiesaurus” and “Z/Rex”, Milko Davis co-writes an intrinsic script with “Generation X-tinct” screenwriter Michele Pacitto that narrates the mining of calcified tree sap and extract the DNA from fossilized mosquitoes in the Jurassic period….wait….that’s, uh, “Jurassic Park.” “The Jurassic Dead” isn’t that problematical, so forget I said anything about an intrinsic script. No amber colored fossils and no GMO dinosaurs here. Just chomp and chew action that’s “Jurassic Park” meets “Re-Animator” in this farcical, action-packed tour de force.
With a film about a miniature zombie Tyrannosaurus that infects people into burning-eyed and enraged zombies with a single bite, just like your typical dead head would be able to accomplish, “The Jurassic Dead” moreover has character flair gaudy with macho-isms and sarcastic tiffs lined in every scene and entrenched in a saturated dialogue and the character flair is flared by an eclectic cast, starting with professional bodybuilder Andy Haman. The 53-year-old built like a Mac truck steps into the platform combat boots of Duque, head mercenary in charge, and is notably mentioned resembling the video game pop culture stud, purposefully varied as Duque, Duke Nukem with the blonde spikey hair, shades, cigar, and muscles bulging out from a sleeveless shirt. Get this guy a seven-figure contract before he gets any older! Another noteworthy cast member and biological badass is an Ultimate Fighter Championship boxing style fighter, Raquel “Rocky” Pennington. The 30-year-old Pennington goes silent, but deadly as Cuchilla, one of the mercenaries with a liking for raising a machete to one’s manhood. Haman and Pennington already pair as formidable force, but the rest of the mercenary actors based in Colorado, where “The Jurassic Dead” is filmed, stacks more assorted attitude and brute. Big Fish Talent’s Ruselis Aumeen Perry (“Tsunambee”) masses what’s left of his team against Dr. Borge and his re-animated fossil as Stick and then, there’s Spivey, a fitting role satirically portrayed by another Tsunambee actor, Shale Le Page. Spivey’s rootin’ tootin’ good ole boy show is the cherry on top levity that tops a mound of primordial preposterousness. The Hits’ lead singer Mia Klosterman (“Battered”), Ben Johnson (“Curse of the Black Lagoon”), Cooper Elliot, Adam Singer, Mary Jo Mauro, and Juan Gonzoalez bring up the tail end of the cast.
At first glance, the shoddy digital effects and disjointed storyline (like what’s up with the two prefaces about Dr. Borge’s downtrodden woes that really have no standing leading into the meat of the story) might write off “The Jurassic Dead” on surface level viewing, but look closer, beyond the 1990’s sorely stretched rotoscope and a dino who bites like a puppy dog playing with a knotted rope toy and you’ll notice a respectable layer of re-played movie magic that includes just as much practical effects than it does visual. Detailed miniature models and a man, who I believe was Cooper Elliot, donning those realistic personal T-Rex costumes used more notably when pranking unsuspecting Japanese denizens walking clueless down a vacant building hallway. Hell, even some of the black drums are miniatures constructed from food cans sprayed painted black and the military-esque Humvee is a RC doctored battle-worn. The man behind the effects, Thomas Martwick, shows that Davis and Markwick are a pair of jacks of all trades and wear many hats that define dedication to indie filmmaking culture. A quality that surpasses subjective tastes of good and bad effects or films in general.
MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing present another wild horror film with “The Jurassic Dead” onto a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack. The Blu-ray was the sold reviewed format which is a MPEG-4 AVC encoded BD-25 disc presented in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ration, with a region free cherry on top code. From the view point of looking through some of the sour effects, the image quality is like looking through the murky surface level to find cleaner, bluer ocean water, but the non-green screen portions of the film are sharp and more defined. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound caters to a lossy audio mix that betrays the dialogue track, favoring a generic and boring stock soundtrack over what I think was semi-important dialogue about how events play out. Bonus features include director’s commentary, a petite behind-the-scenes featurette, a few outtakes and trailers. While saturated heavily with chintzy composites and a scare level hover around nil, the ambitious “The Jurassic Dead” still bares entertainingly sharp teeth as a fun, no frills, feast or famine action horror abundant with Dino action.
The Motel Mistress stands tall beside a highway on the outskirts of Bangkok. The adult-oriented love accommodate caters to the freakiest of the freaks under the soft glow of the hotel’s purple-pink neon marquee that’s shimmers on the rooftop during the tantalizingly active nightlife, flickering to a more conspicuous Motel Mist, but during the day, the near vacant hotel sits dormant and has scarce use. That’s all about to change when four visitors and one Hotel Mist front desk man become five strangers entwined into an uncanny affair that begins with illicit sexual desires between an extremely perverted and dangerous middle-aged man and a young school girl with ulterior motives and ends with a former child star’s refuge into, what he believes, is communications from beings not of this Earth. Salacious deviances, revenge, and strange occurrences check into the Hotel Mist, but will the five strangers check out?
From the erotically charged DVD cover from Philadelphia based home video distribution company, Breaking Glass Pictures, the Truevisions Original Pictures in coproduction with the 185 Films and Song Sound Productions produced “Motel Mist, written and directed Prabda Yoon, has the irrefutable markings of an unforeseen science fiction thriller from Thailand. Yoon’s introductory 2016 picture initially dodders on various genre borders that venture into the human complexities of interaction from an alienation or a subversive standpoint and wholeheartedly whips 180 degrees merging into exacting revenge and experiencing unearthly dimensions to an inevitable mesh correcting what’s characteristically abnormal. Though sexual romps in one-night-stand lodges have been marketed as quite the norm in Bangkok, Yoon pushes the creepy factor limits to the max, turning the dial on predatory intentions to an unreal reality.
The focus surrounds five characters with dialogued roles. The characters, with the exception of two of them, are essentially from all walks of life: a young hotel concierge with ambitions to be a fire stick performer, a middle-aged man with duel façade, a child star with unknown psyche complications, and then there are the school-aged girls with relatively the same motivation, but of a diverse personality type. We’re gently introduced to the middle-aged father figure Sopol, played by Surapol Poonpiriya, gazing at a newscast about a missing child celebrity on a car onboard touchscreen. Poonpiriya reels in slowly a conservative, perhaps even old-fashioned, fatherly figure where children shouldn’t swear and nose deep in cell phones isn’t a proper and good thing, but then the actor yanks hard back on the spoke, settling his character into a blurry role between niceties and deviances. Sopol’s an abhorrent wolf in sheep’s clothing, lavished and proud of his alternate life of an older man whose been with many younger women in his prefabbed BDSM motel room. His latest fair object is Laila, a young school girl in a short skirt with fresh innocence splayed from head to toe, performed by Prapamonton Eiamchan. Laila goes with the Tot’s flow by guiding her every move and letting him manipulate her like a doll of his pleasure. Eiamchan’s curious portrayal befalls her character’s with a relationship with masochism because of a more deep rooted motivational factor and the dynamic between Eiamchan and Poonpiriya pulls at the unsettling strings while also teasing visceral fantasies. Yet, oddly enough, Vasuphon Kriangprapakit cerebral performance being an antenna for alien correspondence is more intriguing. Kriangprapakit’s Tul is the crucial focal point that connects each character, playing against their vices that shepherds into a more savior role; in fact, Kriangpapakit could be considered appearing like the Thai version of the Messiah. While Tul requires a force invading into one’s mind bubble, Tot bubble seems to have popped with vague ambitions and being an overall motel lackey. Tot, a role suited for the talented Wissanu Likitsathaporn, sports green hair atop his punk rock outfit, and, like today’s typical millennial, enjoys conversing on the phone, especially with women. His sympathetic qualities aim to grant him amnesty for his cooperative nature, especially assisting covertly alongside Sopol, and being an agent of greed when figuring out his other daytime tenant, Tul, has a reward for his whereabouts. Katareeya Theapchatri rounds out the cast as Laila’s accomplice, Vicky.
As the subtitle insists, “Motel Mist” is a setting where there are no limits. Whereas that’s true for unlimited sexual pleasures and displeasures as well as thematics akin to the “Outer Limits,” “Motel Mist” has some limitations to challenge the experimental engine on which the film is powered. For one, the takeaway message has vague variables and not enough outright exposition to grasp viewers by the balls for that deep-in-thought, chin scratching moment that ekes forward the turning giant wheels in our heads, spinning conclusions and possible theories into plausible themes. For me, the takeaway message borders somewhere along the lines of the mysterious mechanics of the cosmic universe righting the wrongs between inherently misguided human faults and interactions. Whether that notion weighs in with any truth or not is most certainly up for grabs and could possibly way off the marker, but the enigmatic complexities are what make films, like “Motel Mist,” interesting to dig into and explore.
Breaking Glass Pictures calls for room service and has delivered “Motel Mist” onto DVD home video presented on a DVD9 with a widescreen, 2.39:1 aspect ratio and the region 1 Sci-Fi/Thriller runs just under two hours at 117 minutes. Often with a warm resemblance to Bangkok atmosphere, Yoon also seizes every opportunity with a vast color palate to shape the character developments in Room 7 with sultry red and Room 5 with a sterile black and grey. No problematic issues from a nice sharp picture in natural lighting juxtaposed a vivdly colorful. The frame work, by cinematographer Chananun Chotrungroi, captures micro stories with such aggression that it becomes a thing of beauty and with Yoon’s long takes, the sensation, no matter how unpleasant, lasts what seems to be an eternity. The Thai language stereo 2.0 dual channel audio mix has clean range and depth with parameters around mid-to-high levels of output through the variations of dialogue, ambient, soundtrack, and miscellaneous distortion tracks. There are English subtitles available and while seemingly translated okay, the yellow font coloring blend way too much into the background, making reading them difficult. Special features include a pair of behind the scenes with cast & crew and a trailer. Common perceptions of Bangkok could be extracted out entirely from director Prabda Yoon’s “Motel Mist” with a taste of illicit sexual affairs and the super bizarre in this unique science fiction thriller.
The television adapted bastardization of his beloved illustrated Robot Ninja leaves comic book artist Lenny Miller with a bad taste in his mouth. His disgust with the direction angers him to part ways with the project, leaving the televised rights in the hands of a careless and uninspired studio crews and execs, but that won’t stop Miller’s creative juggernaut of the captivatedly violent, robot vigilante. Inspiration takes heart-rending form when Miller happens upon a roadside abduction and rape of a young couple where his attempt at a rescue ends tragic with the couple being brutally murdered and him severely injured, but with the help of his good inventor friend, Dr. Goodnight, the frustrated comic-book artist becomes the Robot Ninja, just as depicted in his comics, with a vengeful plan to hunt down the assailants and put a bloody end to their wrongdoing reign of terror. A good first night out ends with one thug dead and an ego boost for Miller, but Robot Ninja’s actions don’t deterrent crime and, in fact, crime hits back hard when not only Robot Ninja becomes the target, but also his friend Dr. Goodnight and innocent bystanders.
“Robot Ninja” is part one of an unintentional two part review segment about directors disowning their own cinematic handy work for X, Y, or Z reasons and while “Robot Ninja” was initially discarded by “Dead Next Door” writer-director J.R. Bookwalter due to poor post production that was essentially out of the filmmaker’s hands and a work print negative thought to have been lost for eternity, Tempe Entertainment foresaw the awesome potential for the late 80’s automaton avenger in an dual format ultimate edition after a unearthed work print surfaced and back into the Bookwalter’s hand to mend and correct his sophomore feature film! Forget Iron Man. Ignore Captain America. Incredible Hulk who? “Robot Ninja” is one of the only true comic book heroes from illustrations to to take a stand against crime passionately and not because if you have great power, there’s great responsibility.
Robot Ninja is the epitome of the combo character that could sway into either hero from the 1980’s, like in Paul Verhoeven’s “Robocop” and Amir Shervan’s “Samurai Cop,” or could even swerve straight up into the villain category though I have no examples floating around near the inner layers of my cerebral cortex, but the Robot Ninja bordered the very blurry gray lines of anti-hero status whether intentionally or not from the perspective you examine. The Robot Ninja character potentially could have set fire to the combo character direct-to-video cult underworld, but fell rather hard and flat on its face in the deadfall of the netherworld instead. None of film’s flaws or woes never sat its hampering weight upon the goldilocks graced shoulders of Michael Todd, who portrayed the clawed hand titular character. Todd’s enthusiasm for the role is beyond necessary, a real A for effort, into powering on Lenny Miller’s illustrated crime combatant. Lenny, aka Robot Ninja, vows to destroy, or rather disembowel, the local gang led by the ruthless Gody Sanchez, a she-devil aimed to please only one person – herself. Maria Markovic, another actor that’s in J.R. Bookwalter’s “Dead Next Door” circle, find herself in the antagonistic role in one of her sole two credits. Markovic’s acting chops are about as stiff as a board, but being surrounded by the right kind of thugs in James Edwards (“Bloodletting”), Bill Morrison (“Ozone”), Jon Killough (“Skinned Alive”), Rodney Shields, and Michael ‘D.O.C.’ Porter, Gody Sanchez is able to achieve par-level black heartedness. “Robot Ninja” round-kicks an uppercut class of actors such as Floyd Ewing Jr., Michael Kemper, the original Dick Grayson Burt Ward (“Batman” television series), the one and only Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”), one of Sam Raimi’s entourage buddies Scott Spiegel, and Bogdan Pecic and the good Dr. Goodnight.
Without doubt, “Robot Ninja” was destined for the direct-to-video market and the quality of work obviously shows, but with flaws aside, the obscure 79 minute feature still manages to be a part of Bookwalter’s “Dead Next Door” universe full of gore, violence, and a distain for human nature despite briefly disavowing “Robot Ninja’s” mucked up existence for years. Subtempeco EFX, comprised of David Lange, Bill Morrison, and Joe Contracer, don’t exactly go cheap when Robot Ninja’s dual blades pierce and pop eye balls inside the skull of some punk or when Lenny’s patching up his injuries without as much flinching in pain, the open, surely is infected wound just pulsates with exploded flesh and blood. Bookwalter’s direction is hazy at times around the beginning with the dynamic between Lenny and his publisher that feels stagnant and irrelevant; however, the comic book scenes interwoven into the meatiest part of the story, the Robot Ninja action, is remarkably cool for a late 80’s budget gas.
Tempe Entertainment have outdone themselves with the region free ultimate edition DVD and Blu-ray combos set of “Robot Ninja” with a “painstakingly” restored 2k film scan from the original 16mm A/B roll cut negative and presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio. The picture is night and day compared to previous VHS and DVD releases that underwhelm director J.R. Bookwalter’s vision. The vast color palette of various lighting and color schemes during the dream sequences have been gracefully corrected and the contrast has been restored to lighten up the much of the darker, almost unwatchable scenes. Good looking and unobtrusive natural grain from the 16mm stock and the re-edit makes a difference that finally seems cuts together without causing some confusion. The English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound is entirely new construction from Bookwalter and the lossless tracks have ample range and depth, balanced nicely throughout, and have little-to-no distortion or other imperfections. English and Spanish subtitles are also included. A slew of bonus material on both formats include audio commentaries from J.R. Bookwalter, Matthew Dilts-Williams of Phantom Pain Films, producer David DeCoteau, James L. Edwards, Scott Plummer, David Lange, David Barton, Doug Tilly and Moe Porne of The No-Budget Nightmare. J.R. Bookwalter also has a 21 minute segment about the whole start-to-finish journey with restoring “Robot Ninja,” a Linnea Quigley retrospect on her small role experience in the film, an interview with Scott Spiegel, a location tour with Benjamin Bookwalter, “The Robot Ninja” fan film from 2013 with introduction by director Johnny Dickie, artwork and promotional material, behind the scenes gallery, production stills, “Robot Ninja” unmasked featurette, rough cut outtakes, TV show promo, newscast outtakes, the original VHS release trailer, and Tempe trailers, plus much more. Lets not also forget to mention the stunning cover art by Alex Sarabia, Carol Chable, and David Lange and a new title sequence also by David Lange. Tempe Entertainment’s ultimate edition of “Robot Ninja” is a thing of beauty that should be seen by all who love campy, Sci-Fi horror flicks with grisly skirmishes and intense tragedy in every corner. The restoration work “Robot Ninja” is founded on absolute love, a rare concept seen for direct-to-video features so you know this film must be something special – a true redemption story.