Night Terrors Are Not EVIL Enough. “While We Sleep” reviewed! (VMI Releasing/ DVD)

“While We Sleep” available on DVD home video at Amazon.com!

Neurologist Nina Evanko is perplexed by the unusual CAT scans of 13-year-old Cora whose been suffering from sudden onset sleepwalking after her birthday party.  Believing the CAT scan is going through calibration issue with imaging process, Nina orders another set of scans, but when the scans produce the same result and a death of another patient right in front of Cora sends her home early before Nina’s arrival to study the results, Nina convinces Cora’s parents to an at-home sleep observation to root Cora’s sleepwalking cause.  What Nina finds is far more sinister than night terrors or any other kind of parasomnia as a demon has inhabited Cora’s body with nefarious intentions.  Cora’s only hope to save her soul is her bewildered parents, a rattled neurologist, and a rogue priest but a family secret may consume everything. 

If you’re still looking to support Ukraine during the now 6 plus months Russia invasion of their sovereign neighbor, why not support the Ukrainian-U.S. collaborative cinema?  Why not start more precisely with Andrzej Sekula’s 2021 child-possession thriller “While We Sleep” set in the Ukrainian capital and flagship city of Kiev.  Sekula, known more for his work with Quentin Tarantino as a cinematographer on “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” as well as “American Psycho” and “Hackers,” has quietly and seldomly helmed a handful of films over the two decades with “Cube 2:  Hyperspace” being one of them.  “While We Sleep” returns Sekula to the director’s chair for the first time since 2006 with a script by Rich Bonat and the film’s supporting costar Brian Gross, the first feature script penned by the “Jack Frost 2:  Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman” and remake of “2001 Maniacs” actor.  “While We Sleep” is coproduced by American Brian Gross and Kiev-Los Angeles based CinemAday productions, which include company bigwigs Rich Ronat, Yuriy Karnovsky, and Yuriy Prylypko. 

While much of the story begins with Cora and her parents (real life family of husband Brian Gross, wife Jacy King, and daughter Lyra Irene Gross) cursed by Cora’s acute and disconcerting sleepwalking disorder and moody behavior, the daily battle to understand their predicament is not left in the out of their league but most lovable hands of the parents as the film leads you to believe.  Roughly half hour into the film, the narrative switches from the convincing family perspective, despite building background on their low-band relationship troubles and move it nearly 100% to Nina’s problem-solving perspective with a hint of her own troubled past.  Kiev born and “Stranger” actress Darya Tregubova plays the neurologist too curious to shrug off the mysterious case of Cora’s abnormal scans.  Tregubova is fetching without saying but she doesn’t provide the necessary emotional weight of person who’s going through grief and loss issues from the past.  Tregubova also doesn’t convey the necessary weight toward her strong connection to Cora and Cora’s case with only a few expositional moments that hint at such.  These aspects leave Nina outside the bubble of plot events that make the character stick out as unnecessary even more with the character’s negligent professionalism surrounding the wellbeing of Cora and with the parent interactions.  Once the story butts in randomly the blacklisted priest, Father Andrey (Oliver Trevena, “The Reckoning”), with an intimate familiarity with the demon that possess Cora, we know that the story is lost as it tries to quickly and covertly wrap its grip around how to come to a head with this storyline.  You can’t have a possession film without a priest, right?  Father Andrey feels very much like a leftover thought, but Trevena tries his darnedest to sell a washed-up man of the cloth with desperation pouring from word out his mouth despite looking like an English hooligan in a pop collared leather jacket. 

“While We Sleep” has not-so-brittle bones of demonism and possession albeit lacking its own or established cultural mythos, yet there’s a disjointed nature about the story structure and plot points that just don’t make sense that crumble that coherency faster than Cora descending into the depths of demonic disorder. The opening scene is the most perplexing of all with an elaborate birthday cake that neither mom nor dad had made or bought for Cora’s 13th year. Without a care in the world, mom and dad don’t explore further who could have possibly made such a beautiful cake and little do they know, the cake, or rather the cake’s candles, are a conduit for demonic transmission into the soul. This part is never explained through the rest of the picture and, in fact, Gross or Bonat don’t touch back upon a possibility of explaining the odious presence. Much of everything is taken a face value, such as the fact Cora cuts her long hair to a pixie style without an eyelash being bat or in what’s more crtical to the plot is with Cora’s real and darkly unholy father backstory. Those facts are a shot to the brain and we’re still not understanding where Cora’s biological father fits into Cora’s space, into her mother’s space, or even into Father Andrey’s space, but you would think as important as this twist was suddenly deluged in a quick spit of point-blank honesty, the edges would be smoothed over and the picture would become clear as the holy water that was cross was spritzed with; yet, that the aggregation of aggravation of little-to-no details continues to carry out as if everything is perfectly peachy and comprehendible within the story context.

From the at-home release distributor that delivered John Travolta as “The Fanatic,” VMI Releasing, a subsidiary of VMI WorldWide, releases “While We Sleep” on DVD home video. The clear snapper cased DVD, a MPEG-2 formatted DVD5, is presented in a widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio with an average speed bitrate of 4-5 Mbps. You can see noticeable banding issues in the darker bedroom scenes sporadically throughout. Aside from that, the picture result is fair with more than enough detail for viewing. The English-Ukranian soundtrack is not listed on the back cover, but my SEIKI player reads two audio options: a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Digital dual channel 2.0. Discerning the difference between two is not worth the effort as there’s only subtleties in the output. The 5.1 surround sound has obvious better capacity for multi-channeling. Optional English subtitles are available but neither one of the audio tracks available nor the subtitles offer English captioning for the Ukranian dialogue and often times, there are back and forth exchanges that are intended to carry worth behind the exchange. The subtitles just state foreign language speaking which doesn’t help at all so there’s a bit of lost in translation in the dialogue unless you happen to speak or understand East Slavic languages. The 92-minute film comes unrated but doesn’t come with any bonus material as a feature only release. “While We Sleep” only nips at attempting to be a better than average “Exorcist” akin contemporary but remains on the haphazard course of shaky character building and bumpy, unpaved developments that make only for a rocky portrait of possession.

“While We Sleep” available on DVD home video at Amazon.com!

 

The Reining Bullies Get the EVIL They Deserve! “Massacre at Central High” reviewed! (Synapse / Blu-ray)

“Massacre at Central High” is Grade A Exploitation!

David just transferred to Central High School, reuniting with his good friend Mark, but Mark is no longer a part of the outcasted crowd at his new high school as he has joined Bruce and his pals to be the apex elite in the school’s lopsided social hierarchy.   Refusing to abide by the relentless and ruthless bullying, attempted rape, and intended bodily harm, David stands up for the oppressed with firm and actionable rebuke.  Bruce and his gang don’t take kindly to David’s opposing behavior and purposefully cripple him to teach him a lesson in disobedience punishment under their sovereign thumb, but what doesn’t kill David makes him a retribution killer as he begins his one-by-one takedown of the disparaging upper-class.  When there are no more bullies left at Central High, the once oppressed turn into the oppressors and it’s up to David to continue the cleanse of megalomanias.   

Now here’s a unique take on the revenge thriller that doesn’t involve the conventional concepts of a slaughter escapade return from being nearly raped to death or to exact revenge for the untimely and heinous murder of a loved one at the hand of sociopathic other.  “Massacre at Central High,” written and directed by the late Netherlands filmmaker Rene Daalder, is the sociopolitical, slashereseque picture from 1976 that is just as parentless and bizarre as it is cold in its exaggerated truth of undiplomatic ways.  Also known as “Sexy Jeans,” the Italian X-rated interposed cut, “Massacre at Central High,“ is Daalder’s second feature behind his 1969 exploitation and organized crime thriller “The White Slave” that tells the story of one man’s righteous crusade turns into a bungled mess with him being intertwined in a scheme to sell unsuspecting young Dutch women into sexual slavery.  Daalder’s sophomore film might not be as controversial, but certainly maintains that provocative and erotica bravado under the otherworldly shadow of an ultra-angsty high school veneer.  Filmed in and mostly around Los Angeles’s Griffith Park that included an abandoned private high school in Burbank, “Massacre at Central High” is produced Harold Sobel (“Very Close Quarters”) with Jerome Bauman serving as executive producer.

Before he was the four-eyed face of the franchise where it was cool to be square in “Revenge of the Nerds,” Robert Carradine landed one of his first principal roles in Daalder’s “Massacre at Central High” as free-lovin’ hippie, Spoony. Though Spoony is an activist idealist and gets two chicks, the half-brother of David Carradine wasn’t in the star lead though he certainly had the presence and the state of mind to withstand it. Instead, Derrel Maury enveloped the role David that seeks vigilante justice to a bunch of entitled school bullies lead by Bruce (Ray Underwood, “Jennifer”) with Craig (Steve Bond, “The Prey”) and Paul (Damon Douglas) being a part of his gang. Maury’s deep eyes and good looks make him a shoe in to be one of the top-predators to join Bruce’s paleoconservative circle and, as David, his personal connection with good friend Mark (Andrew Stevens, “The Terror Within”) who eggs, basically begging and pleading, David continuously to join or face the consequences of Bruce’s wrath. The acting and dynamics between this already complicated group of late teens is basic in its formulaic high school turmoil but also very disturbing on many levels that puts the boys-will-by-boys mantra into a whole new comfortless light. We all know characters like Bruce and his lackeys from High School where guys like him think the student body pledges allegiance to their unofficial rule; Ray Underwood, Steve Bond, and Damon Douglas do a phenomenal job of letting you hate them for who they portray with characters who are not beneath attempting the rape of two female peers in broad daylight and in one of the classrooms. To provide another twist to this tale, Bruce and his gang are not the real antagonists in the story but rather just a part of a bigger, broader discernment that’s infectious as it is dangerous in the realm of political power and hierarchy. Kimberly Beck is the angling love interesting that teeters between good friends Mark and David and “Friday the 13 Part IV: The Final Chapter” actress ultimately doesn’t become the focal purpose to David’s revenge (remember, this isn’t a typical revenge narrative) as Beck more than spurs jealously with her feelings for David as well as become eye candy with gratuitous and beachy full frontal nudie scenes. “Massacre at Central High” rounds out the cast with Steve Sikes (“Horrid”), Tom Logan, Jeffrey Winner, Rainbeaux Smith, Dennis Kort, and Lani O’Grady.

The sociopolitical aspect of “Massacre at Central High” is by far the most compelling with the story’s uncompromising subcomponents of teenage high school perils. The fact that are zero parents introduced into the mix makes Daalder’s narrative that much crisper in its poignancy as these children are left to fend for themselves in like some bizarro version of William Golding “Lord of the Flies” that dives into similar themes such as groupthink mentality, social organizations that reshuffles into a lemming trajectory, and even outlier themes comparing Bruce’s gang to Nazism. Behaviors turn on a dime for the worst and bring out the worst when the opportunity to govern the school affairs leads to an asymmetrical power struggle. Even David, our hero of the story, isn’t immune to the adverse effects of change when pushed beyond reasonable reaction after having his leg crushed and he left maimed by Bruce. To David, this turning point reduces down below differentiating the difference between morality and immorality as he views them as equals to right-the-wrongs and to be a way to level out toward equity for all, a quality that’s been an attribute to David’s pre-murderous existence ever since transferring to the school, but the all-around good guy couldn’t rub off the impartial view of the world to others and so he finds himself in a continuous solo crusade of course correcting. “Massacre of Central High” isn’t as austere as “House of the Flies” as its facade is campy and contrived in an artificial manner. The parentless environment disintegrates principles right at the door in “Massacre of Central High’s” biodome of guttersnipes and that sections off this gem from other exploitation ventures in a must-see good way.

Enroll yourself for September 13th releasing of “Massacre at Central High” on Blu-ray home video from Synapse! The spectacular course offers a region free, AVC encoded BD50 Blu-ray that presents the feature in 1080p at a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio and the take on the director’s approved 35mm remastered presentation is tight, detailed, and utterly clean. Color palette is warm but diverse with a great bit of contrast where needed, such as the nighttime skinny dip and love-makin’ beach scenes. Virtually free of wear and imperfections, the impeccable transfer dodges four and half decades of negative ageing with great delineation to show for it. The original English DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack is the only audio option on this release and is more than adequate with the same clarity as the picture. There’s quite a few, ACME-ish style explosions, a tumbling rocks scene, and spates of variable automobile revs, exhausts, and engines to quench an audiophile’s interest with a broad ambient range. With the original soundtrack comes Tommy Leonetti’s clashing lead melodic and easy listening track “Crossroads” that sticks out like a sore love song thumb in the background of murderous revenge. Newly translated optional English subtitles are available. The bonus material includes an audio commentary by “The Projection Booth” podcaster Mike White interviewing cast members Andrew Stevens, Robert Carradine, Derrel Maury, and Rex Steven Sikes. Also included is an archived audio interview with director Renee Daalder with horror historian Michael Gingold, Hell in the Hallways making of featurette with new recollection interviews from the cast and cinematographer, fellow Netherlands native Bertram van Munster, theatrical trailer, TV, and radio spots, and a still gallery. The film is rated R and has a runtime of 88-minutes. “Massacre at Central High” focuses more on detonation than detention as bodies pile high in this explosive dog-eat-dog hatchetjob of unsupervised minors gone wild.

“Massacre at Central High” is Grade A Exploitation!

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

Taxi Driver by Day, EVIL Serial Killer by Night! “Dr. Lamb” reviewed! (Unearthed Films / Blu-ray)

“Dr. Lamb” is ready to operate.  See him in action on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films and MVD Visual!

Quiet as a boy verbally and physically abused by his stepmother yet laid to experience the adult perversities at the permission of his unconcerned father, Lam Gor-Yu, now as a man, is still quiet and still has unusual interests as an afterhours taxi driver.  Triggered by rainy nights when a torrent of verbal abuse by his female passengers send the usually reserved taxi driver into a homicidal fury, extending his lonely nights into straggling women, returning their bodies to his family homes, and video tapes his exploits within his fascination for amateur medical procedures.  When the police raid his family home after developed disturbing pictures were discovered at the local print shop, Lam’s entire family is hauled into questioning and it’s to Inspector Lee and his team to unearth exactly what transpired to the lifeless bodies seized by a notoriously sociopathic serial killer.

When you think of serial killers globally, Hong Kong isn’t the first place that comes to mind.  In fact, Hong Kong isn’t even a blip on the radar as the Pearl River Delta residence only has two known serial killers attributed to the city.  One of those killers is Lam Kor-wan – aka The Jars Murderer – aka the Rainy Night Butcher – who terrorized the then British territorialized Hong Kong in the early 80s, killing and post-mortem mutilating four young women.  La Kor-wan became the notorious inspirational material for the Danny Lee and Billy Tang (“Run and Kill”) co-directed Dr. Lamb that was released in 1992 and penned by Kam-Fai Law (“The Close Encounters of Vampire).  “The Killer’s” star Lee, who was more Chinese action star than filmmaker, developed the film, reluctantly at first, during the time when Hong Kong’s Category III classification rating was extending from solely high-end erotica and sleaze into extreme horror and thrillers.  Lee served as executive producer with Parkman Wong, who also worked alongside Danny Lee on “The Killer,” under Grand River Films Ltd.

To be portraying one of two Hong Kong’s serial killers feels like an unsurmountable responsibility burdening the actor’s shoulders in order to parallel the motivational intricacies and the mental mindset as accurate as possible knowing that the character can’t just blend into a vast serial killer fold where you can find multiple variations of John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer being grossly rendered for U.S. pop culture exploitation.  Yet, in steps in front of the camera Simon Yam, one of Hong Kong’s prolific action stars in the late 80s to early 90’s now stepping into the shoes of a real-life maniacal persona and relatively close to where all of Lam Kor-wan’s dirty-little-deeds took place.  Simon Yam could very well be the killer himself, that’s how brilliantly Yam’s performance is in what’s certainly a confident display of range in contrast within his acting opus.  Replacing a gun with a scalpel, Lee and Yam dig deep into the character’s psyche with an interpretation of why Lam Kor-wan did what he did and, frankly, Yam just went stoically wild to reach Lam’s staggering levels of crazy as he descends deeper into the retelling of his encounters with each victim. While “Dr Lamb” is a grim tale, there’s a comical side to it with the police force, supervised by Inspector Lee, played by Danny Lee himself in a duality position of cast and crew. More of the comic relief stems from Inspector Lee’s second-in-command, an experienced, yet overweight, cop who lets others handle his workload. Literally named Fat Bing, comedian and “Human Lanterns” actor Kent Cheng continues his whimsical routine in unvarnished subject matter revolving around separate bits and pieces of people’s tissue and organs for twisted pleasures. Collateral damage of Lam’s horrifying late-night exploratory surgery antics on women involve his family as they also become suspects. Lam’s father (Siu-Ming Lau, “A Chinese Ghost Story”) keeps his blinders on while the evidence piles only to be turned when his son’s transgressions include a minor family member does his own flesh and blood then cross a line of no return.

There are always two sides to every story. No, I’m not saying there are two repelling sides to The Rainy Night Butcher’s homicidal havoc. “Dr. Lamb,” as a film, has a dichotomy about it that’s half biographically true and grim while the other half is crime drama peppered with clownery. The combination is odd and equally as frustrating as the black tone of the historical background and the graphic nature of some authentical depicted acts of inhuman urges find their way weaved into the fabric of cavalier cop buffoonery who, on one hand, seem really good and really intense at their job while, on the other hand, lack the gumption for sobering behavior. Even when investigating Lam’s videotape (to which there is no way in Hell Lam videotaped that himself as the camera moves as he’s engrossed with necrophilia and removing body parts), the cops overact the disgust with what looks like chunky tuna being forced out of their mouth along the lines of appearing like vomit. The underplayed theme is anything but funny in its psychological context of misanthropy and misogyny. All of Lam’s scenes of cruelty are told in flashback through his perspective, molded by his undertone hate for women. “Dr. Lamb” is a misogynistic tale bred out of childhood abuse by a woman close to his family and unabashed and unattended by his lenient father’s lack of concern. Three out of the four women Lam taxis-to-taxidermy often verbally and physically assault him and plague his personal space with their awful behavior, setting a dial backwards in his battered brain that reminds him of the time his stepmother slapped him or forced him into a closet for hours. Is “Dr. Lamb” a Freudian lemma that Lam sees his ruthless stepmother in these women and turns on them to humiliate their corporeal existence? That’s a deep dive, but not as deep as “Dr. Lamb” cuts as a visceral experience based off of one of Hong Kong’s notorious serial killers.

Distributing in at number 8 on the spine of the Unearthed Films’ Unearthed Classics banner is “Dr. Lamb” on a new Blu-ray home video. The region A locked, AVC encoded, BD50 is slicked up with a 1080p high-definition upgrade presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. As one of cinematographer Kin-Fai Mau’s first few pictures, the cool blue and misty has an interesting allure like a hazy bad dream subdued by an infusion of looking through blue glass with a prism of white light filtering through. Perhaps not as detailed as desired, the release does stand above the rest with low-level continuous speck blemishes that are only noticeable if you’re searching for them. Two audio options are available: a Cantonese LPCM 2.0 Mono and a Mandarin LPCM 2.0 Mono. Both tracks do come with well-sync and accurate English subtitles with the only downside is in their quick sojourning. There are a few instances where the subtitles pop up for literally a second as a result of quick nature of the dialect to get to the next set of text. While toggling between the two languages, my audio receptors really took to the Cantonese for a more natural flow and visually for unison between speech and speaking. The Mandarin is certainly more powerful but also too over-the-top as in watching I relate to watching old Japanese with English dub. The special features include an audio commentary by Ultra Violent’s Art Ettinger and Cinema Arcana’s Bruce Holecheck, a background interview about “Dr Lamb’s” genesis with the story producer Gilbert Po Lamb to the Slaughter, an interview with film critic James Mudge on the Golden Era of Cat III Three Times the Fear, a talking point conversation about “Dr Lamb” from film academic Sean Tierney, an Atomic TV interview with star Simon Yam, and trailers. The physical release itself comes with a 6-page, color booklet essay from cinema academic and author Calem Waddell (producer of “The Collingswood Story” and many horror-film related documentaries). A cardboard slipcover with one of the more provocative poster arts. Unearthed Films’ Blu-ray comes unrated with a runtime of 90 minutes. When perusing what to watch one night, be sure to hail down this cab of fact-based macabre driven by “Dr Lamb’s” psychological psychopathy and his pathologic urge for unnecessary medical procedures.

“Dr. Lamb” is ready to operate.  See him in action on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films and MVD Visual!

A Sleepover With More Pillow Fight Than EVIL. “Slumber Party Slasherthon” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / DVD)

“Slumber Party Slasherthon” on DVD at Amazon.com

We all know the familiar stages of a slumber party. The pillow fights, the junk food, and the all-nighter horror movie marathon that elicits amongst the room a simmering suspense that boils to bubble-popping action when even just the lightest rap at the front door can make one jump out of their seat in fear that the monster on the screen is also the monster clawing its way inside. These are all classic campout characteristics of a well-organized slumber party for a group of young high school planning a night of fun. Immerse in a string of video thrillers and with their male friends having joined the party, all fells safe during their night of revelry. That is until a manic with a high-powered, industrial drill shows up uninvited and unhinged. A night of fun quickly spirals into a night of unescapable terror just like in the horror movie marathon as they become the lumped together prey of their very own horror movie.

Slumber parties with uninhibited and skimpy-dressed teenage girls and the bedlam brought to the party by the unstoppable and unglued serial killer are a winning combination that go hand-in-hand just as well as vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup on a classic sundae dessert. For the unofficial king of direct-to-video sequel and the despot of campy, indie horror filmmaker, Dustin Ferguson shares that perspective with his very own unique spin on the slumber party horror subgenre with “Slumber Party Slasherthon” that showcases snippets from Ferguson’s earlier movies, as well as Abel Ferrera’s video nasty “Driller Killer,” spliced into the wraparound story in what could be considered an eclectic compilation of clip anthologies with one common theme – homicidal killers. The 2012 “Slumber Party Slasherthon” is one of a handful of Ferguson’s early feature submissions before he went on a marathon of his own in the DTV market with films including some of his more recognizable titles in “Die Sister, Die!,” “Camp Blood 4 & 5,” “RoboWoman,” “5G Zombies,” and “Ebola Rex.” Under his own production and distribution label of RHR (Retro Home Remix) Home Video, Ferguson self produces the film in Lincoln, Nebraska as a one-man operation who knows showing up to a slumber party with a blood thirsty drill is better than showing up to a slumber party empty handed.

If you’re in the mood for familiar faces or recognizable names in what could be an interesting slasher trope-laden production, well you won’t have that memory jogged I know that actress moment with a cast of unknowns beyond this credit and have securely hitched their body of work to the Dustin Ferguson business model. With a next-to-nothing on the dialogue outside the marathon showreel, the performances of Nina Colgan, Tara Hinkley, Kim Moser, and Jettie Sorensen-Sticka are left to defend their acting credentials with the dual variation of a pillow fight sequence and in which one of the arrangements, intercut with the opening title credits, is shot in negative image. The brief topless nudity of one of the actresses and the frolicking of soft pillow swings are all the girth given to the principal cast, providing no arcs, no substance, and no real chance to do anything but be bit part actors in what seems like a commercial or faux trailer for Ferguson’s other films. In fact, I did read that “Slumber Party Slasherthon” was originally intended to be a fake trailer for a sequel to the “Slumber Party Massacre” line, yet somehow the project became unbuttoned from that franchise and fashioned in a way that’s more Frankenstein’s Monster than feature file, turning “Slumber Party Slasherthon” into a demo reel for Furgeson and RHR Home Video’s DTV catalogue. I couldn’t tell you who Colgan, Hinkley, Moser, or Sorensen-Sticka played in the foursome, but Breana Michell’s is distinct from the others as the girl who arrives late only to get drilled later – offscreen, of course.

A muddied-up potpourri of RHR Home Video produced and distributed enumeration of slasher films, “Slumber Party Slasherthon” isn’t as gorily galvanizing as it sounds. From beginning to end, there’s not a single ounce of a story conveyed to lure in a potentially captivating audience wanting to bestowed upon highly sexualized girls in lingerie being ripped to shreds by a lunatic over a single night sleepover. Instead, Furgeson regurgitates clips of his schlocky direct-to-video titles from years’ past, such as “Terror at Black Tree Forest” and its sequel “Escape to Black Tree Forest,” which look just as cliched and trashy as the intended feature with an over enthusiastic use of primary color filters. Other features not directed by Furgeson but are a part of the RHR Home Video assemblage of titles is “7 Down” directed by Tyler L. Schmid and, perhaps the most buoyantly intelligible and substantial film of the whole grouping, “The Diller Killer” directed by Abel Ferrera, that ironically enough clearly partitions itself from the rest of the films as a completely deranged concept not borrowed from the canon like the rest.

A part of the Raw & Extreme label, “Slumber Party Slasherthon” comes to the masses unrated on a Wild Eye Releasing DVD. The region free releasing is presented in a stretched full screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio with a variety of video problem areas. Aside from the poor, commercial grade filmmaking equipment, likely a shot on a handheld digital camcorder with a max resolution output of 720p, compression artefacts run rampant with a blotchy, and often jittery with swelled pixels, image. Despite a flat hue palette for the main story, an assortment of color filters is placed on the 3rd party films showcased as horror movie marathon fodder, whether or not the “Escape to Black Tree Forest” or “Terror at Black Tree Forest” camp powwows and kill highlights are authentically presented or not in its rehashed integration into “Slumber Party Slasherthon,” I could not definitively know. The English Stereo 2.0 mono has little to offer in shepherding any kind of storytelling design nor is there an attempt at a clean sense of clarity around a dialogue track that’s poorly edited, plagued with electronic interference, and has about the sharpness of a butter knife. Levels vary wildly in the ambient and the soundtracks also. The single redeeming quality of “Slumber Party Slasherthon” is John Altyn’s “High Roller” single that leaned on to way too hard – being used in the opening credits, first act, and in the post-credits, and post-credits music video – to excel save a little change and give Ferguson’s film flashier audio tinsel with 80’s rock-n-rock. Bonus features are about the same as expected with A/V quality with a scene selection and Wild Eye trailers, plus RHR Home Video previews of “Scared Sillies 2,” “The Wanted,” “The Devil Times Five” and an awkward two-girl sway-your-hips-in-place dance party featuring Altyn’s – you guessed it – “High Roller” single (not the official music video by the way). “Slumber Party Slasherthon” is a sleeping bag full of disappointments and is the anti-scary story told that’ll lull teenage girls right to dreamland during the slumber party pajama party.

“Slumber Party Slasherthon” on DVD at Amazon.com