In the year 2022, Special Forces solider, Captain Robbins, is court martialed for putting a bullet in the head of his commanding officer. After escaping two maximum security prisons and a record of rebellious activity, a corrupt and power hungry warden of the Lactivus prison ships Robbins off to an off shore island called Absolom, where prisoners can roam free with no chance of escape due to 24/7 surveillance by Satellite and rocket launcher armed helicopter gunships surrounding the island perimeter. Island prisoners separate into two factions: the Outsiders and the Insiders. Each with the respective camps, the lawless Outsiders overwhelm the Insider’s numbers by 6 to 1, leaving the small manned community in constant fear of attack and pillage by the Outsider’s merciless leader, Walter Marek. When the insiders learn than Robbins has faced Marek and lived, they take the former solider into their community, but Robbins sole desire is to escape off the condemning rock and with the help of a few good men from the Insiders’ camp, the chances of escape and survival are greater together as long as Marek and his band of starving cutthroats don’t seize the endangered community first.
“Escape from Absolom,” also known as simply “No Escape” in the U.S., is a Martin Campbell directed action film from 1994 that’s futuristic and violent, fun and thrilling, and kitschy without being too cheesy. Campbell, who went on to direct not one, but two, James Bond films, begins a base of epic action that’s toweringly ambitious and pulled off nicely with the stunts and the editing. Based off the Richard Herley novel “The Penal Coloney,” the script is penned by Michael Gaylin who puts pen to paper to scribe a playful, passively aggressive dialogue, but fun and energetic on a the same coy lines of other high visibility action films. Gaylin was able to conform to a story that has no dynamic with the opposite sex in one of the few films that exhibits a rare all male cast.
“Goodfella’s” star Ray Liotta finally got his time to shine as the butch and badass action hero that is Captain Robbins, a highly skilled special forces solider and killing machine whose pragmatic intentions, at first, are hard to read. The cockiness overtop a well-cloaked deadly skill set works to the advantage of the blue-eyed actor for New Jersey. Opposite Liotta is Stuart Wilson (“Hot Fuzz”) as Walter Marek, a 7-year island lifer with dreadlocks and nose bridge piercings to match his psychotic leadership. Wilson does psychotic just fine, but the look resembles John Travolta’s atrocious attire from Battlefield Earth. Lance Henriksen, One of the most recognizable legendary genre actors, has a more serene approach in being a mentor and the leadership figurehead of the Insiders camp when compared to conventionally eccentric, sometimes maniacal performances, but Henriksen has a mellow side to him that conveys are very affectionate kumbaya approach, but any personality compared to Stuart Wilson’s internal rampage would be a stark contrast. “Ghostbusters'” Ernie Hudson has his role as security office in the Insiders camp and the sole black man of the film, for obvious reasons, stands out, but Hudson just adapts to anything you put him in though the Michigan born tended to sway toward the thrilling fantasy/sci-fi genre in the height of his career. Rounding out the cast is Kevin Dillon (“The Blob” remake), Kevin J. O’Conner (“Lord of Illusions”), Don Henderson (“The Ghoul”), Ian McNeice (“Dune”), and Michael Lerner (“Maniac Cop 2”).
All things considered, “Escape from Absolom” is a torrent men-in-prison extravaganza that’s one part Sylvester Stallone “Judge Dredd,” one part Chuck Norris “Missing in Action,” and, as a whole, an endangered brand of droll entertainment. Speaking of Stallone, Ray Liotta did it first as a character who is an expert at escaping the inescapable maximum security penitentiaries and instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Bautista as contentious, yet supportive allies, the friendly, yet solidly statured Ernie Hudson and Lance Henriksen share Liotta’s Captain Robbin’s unquenchable lust for freedom, even if it to provide unsheathe exposition of the unethical corporate penal system practices. Far from being a perfect film and extremely blantant on a no underlying message, Martin Campbell undoubtedly has a fine tuned niche of capturing the casual eye with large scale action sequences and an affable character allure.
Umbrella Entertainment releases “Escape from Absolom” on a region-all Blu-ray, presented in 1080p, widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. The coloring is phenomenally remastered and stable compared to previous transfers. There are times when depth becomes two-dimensional or flat, skewing the picture noticeably, but the overall picture quality is spectacular in the vast amount of Australian landscapes and even in the night scenes that show hardly any enhancing, such as sharpening or contrast. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is laid out nicely with audible poise and precision balance. Dialogue is prominent while explosions have just the right amount of oomph under an exact LFE recipe. The release sports other language Dolby Digital audio tracks such as a German 2.0, Spanish 2.0, Italian 2.0, and a French 2.0. Optional English SDH subtitles are available. Bonus material includes a two part making of featurette from around the production of the film with interviews with cast and crew, four TV spots, trailer, and a reversible cover. Runtime is 118 minutes. Martin Campbell’s “Escape from Absolom” is dystopian dynamite, explosive and aggressive with a flare for enjoyable banter amongst defined and diversified characters inhabiting an utopian island of mostly societal scum.
Six months after a tragic climbing accident that left his wife dead and him crippled and bound to a wheel chair, Preston Rogers has been ordered by his doctor to return home, near the site of accident, with the assistance of a nurse to unify Preston’s shattered psyche. Next door, five, young party girls check in for an all-girls party weekend. However, they’re not alone. In the woods, lurks a monstrous living legend, blood thirsty, and ready to feast on the flesh and bone of animal and human alike. As Preston witnesses one death after another from a perched view while sitting in his wheel cheer, he becomes desperate to reach the survivors’ attentions and no one, from police to his uncouth nurse assistant, believe his story of a vicious, hairy creature skulking in the woods, leaving Preston by himself to save others as well as himself.
They don’t make monster movies like this anymore! “Abominable” is the 2006 blood splattering creature feature from writer-director Ryan Schifrin. The director’s freshman film is a wallop of entertainment with ton of homage and a plenty of gruesome kills that you can revisit over and over again on some kind of morbid repeat in this high caliber, independent, coal-coated gem that’s “Read Window” meets a whole hell of a messed up version of “Harry and the Hendersons.” You don’t want this ginormous meat eater breaking in your couch or raiding your fridge! The tightly knit set locations that might usually stagnant a story are easily compensated with a graphic and bloody violence that stems from the many full frontal visuals on the towering, practical effects monster. “Abominable” also looks and feels really expensive and not a slapped together, last minute production.
Now, Ryan Schifrin might not agree with me here and the director might say that it was his passion that attracted some of the genre’s biggest names to have small roles in first time feature, but I’m pretty confident that his well-known composer father, Lalo Schifrin whose composed for movies “The Amityville Horror” and “The Class of 1984”, had some influential help other than also being the orchestrating composer for his son’s film. In leading with “Abominable’s” main star, I remember this actor from his charismatic boyfriend material character in “Deep Star Six;” Matt McCoy plays the crippled Preston Rogers who must rely on his smarts rather than his physical strength. McCoy’s piecing blue eyes and solid acting chops has him being a believable character in an unbelievable movie. McCoy’s character and his at odds dynamic with skeezy male nurse Otis Wilhelm, dedicatedly played in a first time performance by special effects artist Christien Tinlsey, is probably one of the better shallow pissing matches around. The five party girls are Karin Anna Cheung, Natalie Compagno, Ashley Hartman, genre scream queen Tiffany Shepis, who has one of the best death scenes ever, and rounding off with Haley Joel in the female lead. Hold onto to your hats, because we’re not done yet with the star-studded cast list that includes Rex Linn (“Cliffhanger”), Phil Morris (“Dark Planet”), Dee Wallace Stone (“E.T.”), Lance Henriksen (“Aliens”), Jeffrey Combs (“Reanimator”), and Paul Gleason (“Breakfast Club”). Dialogue between Henriksen and Combs is pure magic and just adds that cherry on top of something already pretty sweet.
Schifrin’s “Abominable” is a down to Earth horror. Practical, small, and a straight shooter that doesn’t try to gimmick a way to fame and cult fandom. Schifrin, with the help of the late “Blairwitch Project” director Neal Fredericks, was able to capture the atmosphere and the creature without having to burden themselves with computer generated imagery or relying heavily on camera tricks or crafty edits to progress the story that certainly needed to be blunt. Fredericks cinematography creates the allusion of a bigger world, a world where Schifrin’s creature lives, breathes, and hunts as the urban legend of the Flatwoods Monster. McCoy sells his role of a challenged individual; one whose on the cusp of giving up with he realizes there’s hope in saving these young girls when he could not save his wife or the use of his legs. Auxiliary cast members are not two-bit nobodies with lifeless personalities of backwoods piss ants; instead, Jeffrey “The Frighteners” Combs and Lance “Pumpkinhead” Henrikson are the best backwoods creeps with shotguns and oxygens canisters to act the roles. The monster’s absolutely and gratifying heinous with the Frito-razor teeth, the dingy string hair, and the mouth that opens up a foot wide.
“Abominable” reclaims a home on the MVD Rewind Collection label with a brand new 2K definition transfer 2-disc, DVD (Standard Definition) and Blu-ray (1080p) combo set, presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio; however the ratio is stretched to fit the entire screen. The image quality is rather clean, but has a fuzzy, soft overlay that’s true to form with a film originally shot in 35mm coming into contact with some electrical interference. The version of “Abominable” is also a all new cut of the film with improved CGI-effects, which there were some, and were overseen by director Ryan Schifrin and editor Chris Conlee. The release continues with a forthright note about enhancing the color timing and correction to further the experience which epitomizes more clearly in a scene where the blue eyes of Matt McCoy and Haley Joel are depicted overly brilliant when staring at each other in the darkness or in the lighted room or, in fact, anything that’s blue, i.e. Joel’s blue jeans or Otis’s nurses getup is indistinguishable being any other hue. This edition comes with an English 5.1 surround audio, uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray, and the balance is remarkable. Dialogue is poignant and punctual with the beast’s belly deep roars echoing through with such range and depth that it heightens the monstrous terror. Lalo Schifrin’s score comes out clean enough despite slightly schlocky in comparison to his son’s material. New extras include a new introduction from director Ryan Schifrin and bonus material from other releases become rebranded on this combo release with an audio commentary by Schifrin, Jeffrey Combs, and Matt McCoy, a making of featurette, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and bloopers, “Shadows” – short film by Ryan Schifrin at USC Student Film school, “Basil & Mobius: No Reast for the Wicked” short by Schifrin that features a score composed by Lalo Schifrin, the original theatrical trailer, poster and still gallery, stoyboard gallery, and a collectible mini poster insert! Whew! MVD Rewind Collection went big and landed huge with Ryan Schifrin’s “Abominable.” The mammoth release will surely be a definitive cut for the scarcely heard of creature feature that’s made with deep reverence for the classic monster movie and denotes a sincere and unwavering passion for the genre, making “Abominable” a lovable tribute of beast slaughtering stowed with paralyzing anxiety and symbiotic with pure, addictive joy.