A GROCERY STORE FROM HELL,
BUGS ON BLU, BADASS PUPPETS,
GIRLS, GUNS, AND G-STRINGS, THIS WEEK ON A
SPECIAL EDITION OF THE WALL!
Well Bastards, this is it. THE WALL is shutting down for the year so we can pack on a few more pounds and get through a stack of flicks that have been on the “To Watch” list for far too long. We didn’t want to jam though before we dropped a list of our favorite releases of the year. If this list looks heavy on Synapse Films and Shout! Factory, you’re goddamn right. Those two labels were clearly the best distributors around, Severin and Blue Underground were right there in the mix as well. Between the four of’em THE WALL went broke. This was a budget busting year and based on what we’re hearing about 2012, it looks like we may need to find a second gig to support the habit.
Thanks to all of you Bastards for supporting THE WALL and hitting this column so hard in 2011. We’ll be back with our first round of Blu’s and DVD’s from 2012 on 1/3.
THE RELEASE OF THE YEAR:
FROM SYNAPSE COMES THE
DIRECTOR’S CUT OF
SCOTT SPIEGEL’S INTRUDER (1989)
For all the good shit Empire Pictures did (FROM BEYOND, CELLAR DWELLER), they sure could fuck a film up in a New York minute, case in point: INTRUDER. After wrapping up his writing gig on EVIL DEAD 2, it was time for Scott Spiegel to make his directorial debut. What he created with INTRUDER is a masterpiece of the slasher genre. Unfortunately, Empire went crazy with the weed wacker and heavily cut the best parts of the film. Quentin Tarantino told Spiegel he should rent ever copy in the area and replace it with the unedited cut. No need, Synapse is here to do what they do best; taking genre classics and restoring them to near perfection, jamming them with cool special features, and in the case of INTRUDER, giving the unedited version to the masses. Every. Last. Drop.
Walnut Lake Market is closing up for the night. Please make your final selections and proceed to the register. After the staff is told the store has been sold, they are asked to stay late and slash prices on all items. Someone got the wrong message and starts slashing up the staff instead. We aren’t talking about machete kills, we aren’t talking bad dreams, we are talking trash compactors, meat hooks, and band saws. DAWN OF THE DEAD owns the mall, INTRUDER owns the grocery store.
Spiegel first started shooting films with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell back in high school. Inspired by The Three Stooges, Hammer films, and Famous Monster’s of Filmland, they shot a large number of short films together, perfecting their craft along the way. That ambitious spirit of a young filmmaker isn’t lost in this film. Spiegel maximizes every shot, getting the most out of his location. He’s also inventive, using POV shot’s from telephones, bottles, trash cans and more.
With a cast made up of Sam and Ted Raimi, Danny Hicks (EVIL DEAD 2, MANIAC COP), Burr Steers (Flock of Seagulls from PULP FICTION), Elizabeth Cox (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS), and cameos from Bruce Campbell and Lawrence Bender (and his hand), Spiegel has a lot of talent to work with and everyone delivers. These are all real characters with quirks and nobody plays this like they are out of slasher central casting, particularly the killer himself who has never been better. There is a scene in the film when he/she delivers an extra thump in the head to one of his victims that is darkly comedic.
INTRUDER is a smart film that deserved better on its initial release. Synapse, as always, did an amazing job with this title. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen with an amazing 2k transfer. Synapse has always been among my favorite distributors, this year though they are at the top of the list as the best distributor of the year. If you need me to validate that comment, just buy INTRUDER and then you’ll know what’s what.
Commentary: Scott Spiegel and Lawrence Bender
“Slashed Prices: The Making of Intruder”
Extended Murder Sequences from the Original Workprint
Outtakes from the now-lost short film, Night Crew
“The Slashing of Intruder” with Filmmaker Vincent Pereira
Behind-the-Scenes Stills Gallery, Original Cast Audition Footage, trailers.
THE RUNNERS UP…
When DAWN OF THE DEAD hit Italy it was released as ZOMBIE, forcing notable hack director Lucio Fulci to re-title his film ZOMBIE 2. This title change resulted in Fulci’s flick being considered an unofficial sequel when it was anything but. Them’s the facts. Having said that, while Fulci was ripping off Romero he created something that was vivid and intense. What it lacks for in plot and originality, it makes up for with some pretty stunning camera work and some groundbreaking zombie work which created some of the most classic images from the genre. This is Fulci at his best and its still one of the top grossing Italian horror films of all time (even besting DAWN OF THE DEAD).
Bill Lustig and the Blue Underground crew once again went all out for a fan favorite. Not only is the quality of this print one of the best I have seen, but its jam packed with some killer features. This is one of the best releases of the year.
DISC 1 EXTRAS:
Audio Commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
Poster & Still Gallery
Guillermo del Toro Intro
DISC 2 EXTRAS:
“Zombie Wasteland” – Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
“Flesh Eaters on Film” – Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis
“Deadtime Stories” – Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti
“World of the Dead” – Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca
“Zombi Italiano” – Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi
“Notes on a Headstone” – Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi
“All in the Family” – Interview with Antonella Fulci
“Zombie Lover” – Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films
It started when producer Bernie Gordon wanted to maximize his investment in a train he bought for his 1972 film PONCHO VILLA; this Corman-esque move lead to HORROR EXPRESS. This may be better known as the Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing movie that almost wasn’t. Shortly after agreeing to be in the film, Cushing’s wife passed away and the happy-go-lucky actor plunged into depression. It was his old friend and co-star Lee who heavily leaned on Cushing’s notorious work ethic and got him back in the film. The result is a fun as hell 90 minute rail ride full of Lee/Cushing goodness, blood, thrills, chills, and Telly Savalas aka The Bald Headed Bastard.
HORROR EXPRESS has been a midnight movie staple for as long as I can remember thanks to its status in the public domain. Severin has gone back to the film’s original 35mm negatives and it goes without saying that it has never looked better. Having said that, it never looked great in the first place and the source print looks like it has some scratches but who the hell cares. This a Severin release doing what Severin and only a few others could do; take a genre favorite and roll out the red carpet on the extras which includes a 1973 audio interview with Peter Cushing. This a solid release for a film that was long overdue for a little respect. Since BMX BANDITS, Severin has slowed down a little bit. It’s releases like this though that show how fucking money they are as a distributor. Nice work Severin.
- Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express: New interview with director Eugenio Martín
- Notes from the Blacklist: Producer Bernard Gordon discusses the McCarthy era
- The Guardian 1973 audio interview with Peter Cushing
- Telly and Me: New interview with composer John Cacavas
- Introduction by Fango editor Chris Alexander
- Theatrical trailer
If there was one box that stood out at my video store it was FRANKENHOOKER (with DEAD PIT being a close second). FRANKENHOOKER was the first “talking box” that we had and it was well played in the aisles of horror. “Wanna date” the box would scream. I heard that over and over until the battery died about a year later. The box may no longer speak, but the film still stands as an early 90’s horror-comedy classic.
Frank Henonlotter is a funny fucker. Humor is stamped all over his work from BASKET CASE to BRAIN DAMAGE. Those films have their share of shocking scenes and dance on the boundaries of the macabre, but they always know when to wink at the camera. I think both of those films are better than FRANKENHOOKER but I also think that FRANKENHOOKER understands what it is more so than Henonlotter’s previous films; a comedy with some horror riffs that ultimately play as a tribute to flicks like THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE. Henonlotter now works for Something Weird Video, finding and rescuing the flicks we all crave and treasure (he also directed the 2010 Herschel Gordon Lewis documentary THE GODFATHER OF GORE). I don’t know about you, but I would dig the hell out of another pic from the man that created a room full of exploding hookers.
As always, Synapse Films has done an incredible job with this release; it’s packed with 3 featurettes and one of the best audio commentaries I have heard this year featuring Henonlotter and Make-Up Effects Designer Gabe Bartalos. This is the uncut version of FRANKENHOOKER presented in a 2K high-definition transfer created from original vault materials and digitally re-mastered 5.1 surround sound. There is a reason Synapse is one of the best labels around, and FRANKENHOOKER is exhibit A.
- Widescreen Anamorphic 1.78:1
- DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround
- Audio Commentary with Director Frank Henenlotter and Make-Up Effects Designer Gabe Bartalos
- A Salad That Was Once Named Elizabeth – Patty Mullen Featurette
- A Stitch in Time: The Make-Up Effects of FRANKENHOOKER Featurette
- Turning Tricks: Jennifer Delora Remembers FRANKENHOOKER- Featurette
- Jennifer Delora’s FRANKENHOOKER PHOTO SCRAPBOOK
- Theatrical Trailer
Bugs and crew are finally got their long awaited Blu-ray treatment in a special 3 disc set. This set includes 6 cartoons that were never released on the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTIONS and features 25 classics from the immortals: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Road Runner, and Wile E. Coyote. It also has 25 one shot classics (including the one with that damn singing frog) and a number shorts featuring secondary characters Marvin the Martian and Tasmanian Devil.
9 OTHER TITLES FROM THE WALL
THAT KICKED US IN THE GEEK
THE PUPPET MONSTER MASSACRE is a funny as hell tribute to THE NIGHT OF THE CREEPS style of 80?s horror told using digital backlots and puppets. Yes! Motherfucking puppets! It’s smart, violent, and isn’t afraid to flash a little (see: a lot) puppet tit. This film is worth your scratch so hit the link and pick one up. This is some good shit. I know director Dustin Mills has a few other projects he’s thinking about and I can’t wait to see what that bastard does next!
One of the breast box sets of the year, you’re going to feel like a big boob if you don’t pick tits set up. Heh… boobs.
12 Andy Sidaris films? 12 problem solving hot tubs? Done and done.
We get excited for Shout! Factory releases. This year they have released multiple titles that we dug; DAMNATION ALLEY and BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS to name a few. They have also unloaded a massive haul of Corman sets that have been full on money (though we want to see more of those on Blu) and this set is no different. Grab the beer, grab your crew, and pull an all-nighter on this bad boy.
FINALLY! Something Weird is now releasing Blu-ray titles. Yeah it’s a little weird watching SW in 1080p but at the same time, it’s cool as hell to see titles like BASKET CASE on a clean transfer. This is a Frank Henenlotter masterpiece and one of the best horror films to come out of the 80’s. A partially aborted mess of evil and stop-motion badass.
Three of the best Kaiju flicks ever made make it to Blu-ray this week. Gamera the giant super turtle, who starred in a campy series of monster bashes in the late 1960s, was given an overhaul in the mid 1990s and featured in a series of dark and well produced films that were both critical and financial successes. Highly recommended for monster fans, the flicks showcase intelligent plots and power house special effects sequences that overshadow even Godzilla himself. The third film in the series, GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS, is considered by some fans to be the best Kaiju film produced since the original GOJIRA.
After Roger Corman sold New World Pictures, the new owners decided to class up the joint with a production about a “high school honor roll student by day, hooker by night!” This is straight-up, full-on sleaze… and I dig the hell out of it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first sequel but ANGEL III: THE FINAL CHAPTER features Richard Roundtree so of course we are going to dig it.
Fulci’s second best zombie film has gallons of gore and maggots replace that replace plot and coherency but who gives a fuck. Fulci knows what he’s doing with the undead. Lighter on features than ZOMBIE but Blue Underground still worked in some good stuff.
A creepy as hell adaptation of H.G. Well’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau” is still just as effective today as it was when it was released in the 30’s. A lot of directors have tried to take on this story but they have never achieved the brilliance of Eric C. Kenton’s masterpiece. Not for nothin’, but this is one of Joe Dante’s favorite horror films of all-time. Not a lot of special features here, but word on the street is Criterion did an impressive job with this transfer.
I have been a fan TNT JACKSON for a long time, I actually have it on a double feature disc with THE BLACK GODFATHER. It’s silly as fuck and not the best representation of Cirio H. Santiago’s work (Producer of THE BIG BIRD CAGE, THE HOT BOX)… actually maybe it is.
While it may be my favorite on this triple feature of tough, the best special features are found on TOO HOT TO HANDLE which features a commentary with star Cheri Caffaro and director of AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE Elijah Drenner. This is jam packed with some good grindhouse facts and stories and this alone is worth the price of admission.
SEE YA NEXT YEAR, BASTARDS!
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