The Elfmans’ EVIL Doomsday Droll! “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” reviewed! (MVD Visual / Blu-ray)



“Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks”, oh my, now on Bluray home video!

A struggling Los Angeles actor finds himself in an intergalactic dilemma when a interdimensional portal opens from his asshole and spits out the obelisk, a large, pointed top icon that holds the key to ruling the universe.  Evil space clowns and extraterrestrial beings rocket toward Earth to be the first to intercept the obelisk and remotely manipulate people to their way to try and snag the long-ago inseminated artefact.  In order to save the world, maybe even the universe, from the catastrophic misuse of the obelisk, the actor calls up on his transgendered brother – excuse me – his sister, a professor with expertise in interdimensional relics, and a pair of beautiful Swedish scientist assistants all the while avoiding biker space clowns, ditzy blonde sex bots, the Chinese mafia, and a secret U.S. government agency from getting their greedy hands on world-dominating or word-destroying ass statue. 

Having sat through and contemplated Richard Elfman’s bizarrely fascinating “Alien, Clowns, and Geeks,” I found myself washed over with deep regret. Regret is not in the one-sit watching of a 90-minute sci-fi comedy about a monolithic sphincter stone being a weapon for universal domination by space clowns and incorporated green men from outer space or the key for green, sustainable energy worth lucrative wealth for possible one out-of-work C-lister. The regret stems from not having watched beforehand Richard Elfman’s first experience with total creative control in his kaleidoscopic chaos a surreal fantasy “Forbidden Zone” from 1980 that has placed the filmmaker on the map as a cult director and the musical film itself retains breath and life through theatrical stage plays across the nation. Nearly 40 years later, the harebrained and mad genius mind of Richard Elfman churns a return to his unadulterated cinematic artform with no producers or studios to infringe upon his certifiable craft. Elfman writes and directs the Unfound Content (Bernie Stern, “What Josiah Saw”) and UnLtd Productions produced Elfmaniac Media production.

Who better to be your leading man of action versus the opposing forces of interplanetary evil than your own flesh and blood?  Richard Elfman casts his son, Bodhi, to take the lead as struggle actor Eddy Pine, crestfallen by his recent television series cancellation that derailed his promised financial success and famed lifestyle.  Bodhi Elfman plays to the tune of comic-action star fairly well, delivering perfectly timed high-pitched screams when prompted while still conveying a suave persona as a smooth-talking ladies’ man that bags one-half of the Swedish scientist twins, Helga Svenson (Rebecca Forsythe, “Replace”), to be the perfect combination of brains, beauty, and junkyard Kung-Fu.  Helga, and her sister Inga (Angeline-Rose Troy) are assistants to the great and all-power, well…not all power, (German?) Professor von Scheisenberg in a likeable, rememberable performance from “3rd Rock form the Sun” sitcom actor French Stewart.  In this favorable group of eclectics, world-saving heros, my personal favorite is Jumbo, the politically incorrect, yet well-represented, LBGTQ sister of Eddy Pine played the large frame build of Steve Agee (“Suicide Squad”) who, like a good chunk of Eflman’s cast for the film, takes on a dual role as a God-fearing goon dressed in a giant chicken suit for his boss Fritz the two-timing German clown (Nic Novicki, “The Sinners.”) The circus-esque troupe continues to careen toward Earth in a prototypical rocket ship full of clowns, literally, in what can be seen as an offshoot homage to “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”. The rocket is captained by “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise actor Martin Klebba, but the boss in the big shoes, clown shoes that is, is worn by the late Vern Troyer (“Pinocchio’s Revenge”) in his last role, a role royal bestowed upon him as Emperor Beezel-Chugg. Granted, much of the emperor is played through Nick Novicki’s Fritz as Beezel-Chugg sends his conscious down to Earth to beat out the aliens from obtaining the obelisk. “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” has a monster supporting cast for an indie film that rounds out the list with Richard Elfman’s wife Anatasia Elfman in various roles, George Wendt (“King of the Ants”), Malcolm Foster Smith (“Parasomnia”), Marco Antonio Parra, Victor Chi, Andre Ing, Erwin Stone, and Raul Colon.

If “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” sounds to you like an unfurling Warner Bros. ACME production full of dropping anvils and pseudo-tunnels, you’re not alone. Elfman’s romping comedy is chockful of clowns, cigars, and sex tropes, mostly elements pulled from the director’s hyperactive brain and basking recreations that fit his outlandish selfhood. The film very much fits the man behind the camera as an off-color, atypical, crude humored, red-headed fireball zipping-and-zagging in a multitude of directions. Yet, despite the frantic antics and the crazy characters, “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” retains its composure as a three-act tale of redemption where one man can be the hero of his own destiny depending on the path he chooses in his seemingly despondent life where he’s lost his career, his mother’s a slutty crackwhore, and a large stone has expelled itself from his anus, creating a rift between a difficult decisive choice of short term wealth or long term doom. Pulling much of his science fiction inspiration from the 1957 “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” Elfman manages a vast, epic showdown of invading alien threats against an unsuspecting human contingent with very few locations, zipped to to-and-fro with comical orchestration, that usually fashions a feeble story structure of sitcom-syndrome weariness, but not with these colorful characters with their unconventional and unmethodical praxis that defy all logic and sensibility. Off the bat, “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks” has menial building blocks but, if you stick with it, the film does grow on you, stimulates the endorphins of your inner child, as a live-action recollection of a Saturday morning cartoon but for adults.

Enter the maniacal mind of Richard Elfman with the MVD Visual Blu-ray release of “Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks.”  Presented in a widescreen, 16×9 aspect ratio, the digitally recorded video has no telling compression issues onto the AVC encoded pressing.  Most of the superimposed cartoony special effects are simply just that due to stylistic choices or budgetary constraints and, either way, add they greatly add to Elfman’s carnivalesque approach to clowning around.  The English 5.1 surround sound discerns no apparent issues other than a slight tuning leveling issue when someone screams as pitch level goes muted a bit.  Other than that, dialogue is clean and clear.  The music genius of Danny Elfman (“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Beetlejuice”) and newcomer Ego Plum, who brings with him a melody of cartoonish influences and unconventional inspirations, create a unique sound that attests to “Alien, Clowns, and Geek’s” upbeat and caricature antics.  Optional English subtitles are available.  Special features include behind-the-scenes interviews that give the cast and crew their 5 minutes recollecting works with castmates, Richard and Danny Elfman, and their total overall experience, a quick and fast-paced interview from Richard Elfman who quickly disgorges his ideas and desires, along with his heartful opinion, about the film, the music video for Ego Plum’s “Mambo Diabolico,” which you can see at the end credits, and the original theatrical trailer.  “Mambo Diabolico” is definitely a good description for Richard Elfman’s far side sci-fi comedy that’s too Ed Wood for even Ed Wood himself.

“Aliens, Clowns, and Geeks”, oh my, now on Bluray home video!

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Out With the Old EVIL. In With the New! “Modern Vampires” reviewed! (Ronin Flix / Blu-ray)

“Modern Vampires” available for purchase on Blu-ray at Amazon.com

Blacklisted for not killing the vampire nemesis Dr. Van Helsing, Dallas is shunned by most of the underground Los Angeles vampire scene now presided over by Count Dracula himself, but as he returns to the city after decades of being gone and gathers with old – very old – dear friends, Dracula threatens him with being burned alive if he overstays his begrudged welcome.  When a newly turned rogue vampire under the pretense of a corner prostitute starts ripping the throats out of unsuspecting Johns, Count Dracula doesn’t want the potential public attention drawn on his species.  Taking a shine to this mysterious woman’s insubordinate nature, Dallas finds her, cleans her up, and introduces her to his inclusive friends, but little do any of the bloodsuckers know is that the Van Helsing is in town and has recruited local Crips to be the holy servants of God in wasting away the vampiric filth that plagues humanity.

Here I thought Casper Van Dien’s only good film was 1997’s galactic war with the extraterrestrial bug species in “Starship Troopers!”  Nope, one year later, Dien follows up his iconic global militant-nationalism and gory-filled sci-fi blockbuster with the little-known American comedy-horror “Modern Vampires.”  Better known around the world as “The Revenant” to not confused American audiences with a highly ingrained British term, “Modern Vampires” is directed by a principal one-half of the 80’s American new wave band Oingo Boingo in Richard Elfman.  The other half of that duo is Richard’s brother, who we all know and love in his unmistakable musical scores of “Batman” ’89 and “Edward Scissorhands,” Danny Elfman who also scores the opening theme to “Modern Vampires” with recognizable and trademark notes from those previously stated Tim Burton pictures.  The script was also penned by a fellow Oingo Boingo original member and the Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon “Freeway” film, and its sequel, screenwriter Matthew Bright.  Bright and Richard Elfman had previously collaborated on the comedy-musical “Forbidden Zone” surrounding sixth dimensions and damsels in distress as well as the Charles Band produced “Shrunken Heads.”  “Modern Vampires” is produced by Elfman, Brad Wyman (“Barb Wire”), and Chris Hanley (“American Psycho”) under the Storm Entertainment and Muse/Wyman productions.

Ladies, if you thought you’ve seen the last of Casper Van Dien’s backside in “Starship Troopers,” then worry not! As the hunky, cigar-smoking, former World War II pilot Dallas, Van Dien, once again, shows off his hind parts in a steamy sex scene one top of Dallas’s car with costar Natasha Gregson Wagner (“Vampires: Los Muertos,” “Urban Legend”). As the indifferent vampire Nico under the pretense of a prostitute who seduces men into vulnerability before gashing open their necks, Wagner adds a bloodthirsty ferocity to her uncouth, undead character’s tremendous and tragic depth surrounding a trailer park trash childhood of sexual abuse and a grandstand mother. As a pair, Dallas and Nico are essentially made for each other or, rather, Dallas turned Nico because under all that pretty boy veneer, Dallas still has a beating heart for compassion and friendship as noted with Dr. Frederick Van Helsing’s crippled son, Hans, and the choice made between the two young men before the whole debacle of nixing to the fearless and relentless vampire killer of all time. Rob Stieger plays that character beautifully manically. “The Amityville Horror” and “End of Days” actor graces the production with seasoned vitality while also trying something new himself, a slightly fascist German vampire hunter who hires L.A. gangsters to help him do his dirty work and has to be the butt of the joke at times at the hands of Count Dracula (“Striking Distance”) as well as Dallas. Stieger does his scenes with great earnest yet great fun that puts the legendary actor into a new perspective. “Modern Vampires'” star-studded cast doesn’t end there was Dallas’s friends include performances from Kim Cattrall (“Big Trouble in Little China”), comedian Greg Furgeson, Natasha Lyonne (“Slums of Beverely Hills”), and the legendary Udo Kier (Andy Warhol’s “Dracula”) as well as a cast round out with Natalya Andreychenko, Gabriel Casseus, Peter Lucas, Victor Togunde, Cedric Terrell, Flex Alexander, and Conchata Ferrell.

Gory, sexy, and overflowing with politically incorrect humor, Richard Elfman’s “Modern Vampires” more than likely would not be a film made today, but definitely suits the 90’s scene.  There are stereotypes and jokes radically exaggerated for comical effect and land with such insouciant ease that the entire production felt at peace with the humor, emitting “Modern Vampires” as an enjoyable, blood-soaked, outrageous vampire comedy unearthed from over 20-years ago and landing onto a new Blu-ray release where the Elfman film deserved an upgraded treatment.  Los Angeles in ’98 didn’t look extremely different than what’s depicted in the film – late night clubs with half-naked patrons doing all sorts of weird and bloodletting fetishes, leeching prostitution on the delinquency riddled streets, and unsavory, unwilling gang bangs but, in “Modern Vampires’ case, the one tied to the bed is a female vamp fully-transformed into a human-sized bat and those who have sex with her, turn into a vampire themselves.  See the humor and symbolism in that?  Almost as if having unprotected sex with a creature of night is akin to contracting a sexually transmitted disease.  Despite the waggishness, “Modern Vampires” holds other staid themes as well with an arteria one being reflective in the title.  The genesis of the species emerged from Count Dracula who had moved from his old Germanic country to the hip and upcoming L.A. area. With each generation of vampire, the loyalty gap becomes wider until the turned from the 20th century are fully unmanageable by the Count’s supreme power. Nico, the youngest turned is in her vampiric infancy often noted throughout the film, can’t be contained and won’t be told what to do, much like teenagers butting heads with their parents on every little subject. Traditions are broken, heads are severed, bodies are burned, and the “Modern Vampires” is a wildly funny and gruesomely gnarly.

“Modern Vampires” is now the vintage vampires that hit the silver screen some 24 years ago and is now basking with the great 90’s flair of special effects, clothes, and hair on a new Blu-ray release from Ronin Flix in association with Quiver Distribution (“To Your Last Death”). Newly scanned in 2K of the Richard Elfman’s personal film print, the picture retains an unsullied quality with impeccable detail delineation for a story that’s mainly set/shot at night. There’s quite an overlay of purple flush that I’m fairly positive is not intended that pulls away, at times, from clearcut contrasting and blend the objects in the scene together. The film is presented in full high definition1080p in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with an English language DTS-HD master audio 2.0 stereo that retains the amplitude of every categorical track. Dialogue track provides a clean depth and clarity that doesn’t swerve into boxy territory like many indie productions do. Ambient and foley range is quite limited for a bunch of different locational shots and in a crowded location full of extras but the extent of the quality is good enough. The 91-minute film comes not rated and has an exclusive extra with an introduction by director Richard Elfman plus archival features, such as audio commentary with Richard Elfman and star Casper Van Dien, a behind-the-scenes featurette with on set mini-interviews with the cast and crew. and the theatrical trailer. “Modern Vampires” might now be long in the tooth (get it?) but has the classic campy escapades of an unpretentious good time and, that my friends, is timeless.

“Modern Vampires” available for purchase on Blu-ray at Amazon.com