DVD/BLU-RAY

Blu-ray Review - Knight Chills

K11

2001's "Knight Chills" hunts to find the horror in the world of role-playing games. Unfortunately, such genre intent is only part of the viewing experience, with the screenplay by Jeff Kennedy, Juanita Kennedy, and D.J. Perry more interested in the ways of romantic obsession and police nonsense, limiting the fantasy aspects of the picture. "Knight Chills" hopes to be something of a valentine to gaming, offering time with a group of friends and their Saturday evenings of "Dungeons & Dragons"-style imagination adventuring, sharing such concentration with viewers. The rest of the shot-on-video endeavor isn't quite as lively, with director Katherine Hicks unable to merge elements of fright and insanity into a more compelling feature. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Bloodfeast! The Adventures of Sgt. Lunch

S2

1991's "Bloodfeast! The Adventures of Sgt. Lunch" is a goof. It was made as a distraction while director David Palamaro and his friends were involved with the military, using their base as a studio of sorts, giving them room to explore what's intended to be a supercop cinema parody, attempting to go silly with a shot-on-video endeavor. There's certainly the central idea of a heroic law enforcement officer on the hunt for crime, dealing with despicable villains and a killing machine. The humor of it all is up for debate, as Palamaro basically uses "Sgt. Lunch" (which doesn't even have an IMDB entry) as his film school, learning about the ways of timing and execution as he screws around with his buddies and their plastic guns. They're clearly having a ball making the picture, but it's not quite as fun to sit through it. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy

A11

A Czechoslovakian and Yugoslavian co-production from animator Dusan Vukotic, 1981's "Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy" is a live-action cartoon from the helmer. It's a take on the creative process, exploring the runaway imagination of a writer coming into contact with his own creation, experiencing all the curiosity and madness such a meeting involves. It's a wild comedy from Vukotic, who eventually allows the film to spin out of his control, but the set-up is involving, dealing with sci-fi examination, mild eroticism, and domestic pressures, generating a unique atmosphere of exploration as matters grow stranger by the minute. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Ghost Nursing

G2

1982's "Ghost Nursing" sends an anti-"Ghostbusters" message, with the characters actually calling the ghosts when there's something strange in the neighborhood. It's a Hong Kong production from director Wilson Tong, who offers a heroic commitment to the wild and weird with the picture, showing little restraint when it comes to bizarre happenings involving supernatural and spiritual matters. The story follows a woman who's down on her luck, introduced to the ways of ghost child adoption to solve her problems, keeping up with blood offerings to stabilize her seemingly ruinous life. The tale is out there, but Tong supports such extremity with a lively viewing experience, filling the run time with macabre events and bewildering battles between good and evil. "Ghost Mother" is a real ride, shedding concern for logic as it hits highlights of genre filmmaking. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Evil Judgment

E21

1984's "Evil Judgment" is occasionally described as a giallo, as it features a black-gloved killer coming after terrified victims while a mystery of sorts fights for screen time. Missing is a sense of style, with co-writer/director Claudio Castravelli basically holding on for dear life with the slasher movie, in charge of making sense of an eye-crossing plot, overseeing a cast of hazily defined characters, and stitching together two filming periods (one in 1981, the other in 1983) into one passably coherent picture. "Evil Judgment" has its violence and exploitation interests, but the Canadian production doesn't catch fire as a thriller, often caught struggling with the details of the crime and forward momentum of the story, emerging as a chiller with limited moments of screen tension. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Jules

J11

In 2018's "Puzzle," director Marc Turtletaub worked to create a special atmosphere of humanity with a story that's usually fodder for clich├ęd entertainment. The film explored the quirky world of competitive puzzling, and while the premise invited a shallow sense of personality, Turtletaub handled it carefully, making for a sensitive picture. "Jules" is about an alien visitation in a rural, older Pennsylvania town, and it's another tale that seems like a launching point for silly business, or perhaps something along the lines of 1985's "Cocoon." Once again, Turtletaub generally avoids the obvious, with "Jules" a deeper examination of aging and loneliness, and it just so happens to have a little blue creature in it. Screenwriter Gavin Steckler pairs real characters with an extraordinary situation, emerging with a thoughtful understanding of needs, blended with some mild comedic beats that connect as intended, sold with terrific performances. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Coming Out

C3

1989's "Coming Out" is a historic film, widely identified as the last feature to be released by East Germany before reunification efforts began in the country. It's also a rare study of the gay experience from the era, with director Heiner Carow overseeing a tender but turbulent story of self- acceptance. In many ways, "Coming Out" has the touch of a television movie, but there's something deeper about the material (written by Erika Richter and Wolfram Witt), which takes its time to understand brewing emotional issues and the pain of mistakes, and lead actor Matthias Freihof provides a powerful performance, capturing the internal churn of a man who can't find comfort, dealing with the mighty weight of his own shame. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - La Garce

B12

1984's "La Garce" looks to be a Hitchcockian mystery about sexual obsession and criminal activity, but it mostly registers a B-movie from Verhoeven. Co-writer/director Christine Pascal looks to challenge viewers with an uncomfortable understanding of manipulation and poor impulse control, offering an unseemly tale of a bad cop who can't shake a terrible woman out of his system. It's a classic understanding of temptation given a distinct French spin by Pascal, who delivers ideal strangeness with "La Garce," but comes up short when it comes to a more fulfilling study of corrupt behavior. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

 


Blu-ray Review - Neige

N8

Actress Julie Berto makes her directorial debut with 1981's "Neige," sharing helming duties with Jean-Henri Roger. They seek to present nights of desperation in Pigalle, an area of Paris where sin and commerce collide, following characters as they try to create some balance to the chaos of their lives. The picture isn't too concerned with dramatic movement, electing a more observational approach, presenting an understanding of the community and those trying to survive within it. "Neige" is a film that sneaks up on the viewer, turning a casual understanding of pain into something more interesting as focus starts to appear for all involved. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Amazon Jail

Q2

1985's "Amazon Jail" is an exploitation film, there's no doubt about it. The primary goal of the Brazilian production is to showcase as many nude ladies as possible, playing to expectations for a women-in-prison picture. This aspect of the feature is certainly prominent during the run time, with the production happy to follow as many unclothed characters as possible. The actual entertainment value of "Amazon Jail" is up for debate, as co- writer/director Oswaldo de Oliveira shows little interest in storytelling with this endeavor, fumbling around with the plot and characters as he tries to provide the vague shape of a prison escape movie without actually putting in the effort to sharpen excitement or define characters. It's always strange to watch something that's meant to disturb and titillate become rather dull. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


4K UHD Review - Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV

F11

Eager to horrify audiences with all new depths of depravity, Troma Entertainment reaches, quite intentionally, a specific low point with 2000's "Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV," their final installment in the weirdly enduring franchise. Director/co-writer Lloyd Kaufman throws everything he can into this sequel, working up a sweat to transform the picture into the most offensive movie in the history of the company, swerving wildly as the production makes fun of school shootings, the developmentally disabled, lynching, and abortion. Granted, Troma isn't one to play nice, always begging for attention, but there are limits to how much odious behavior one can take from a helmer who can't even conquer basic camera focus issues. At 109 minutes, "Citizen Toxie" feels like it runs an entire decade, with grotesque shenanigans and strident performances losing their appeal after 109 seconds. The Superhero from New Jersey is back for his fourth adventure, but perhaps three of these things were enough. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


4K UHD Review - The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie

W12

When we last saw the Toxic Crusader, he saved Japan and Tromaville from Apocalypse Inc., using his monster gifts to protect the innocent from pollution and corporate abuse. True to form, Troma Entertainment isn't about to let their cash-cow take a rest, reviving the "superhero from New Jersey" for 1989's "The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie," a sequel that basically admits defeat from the opening act. Loud and cheaply made, the continuation of the saga tries to sustain irreverence and gore, utilizing Troma's silly sense of humor to fuel yet another round of one-liners and lethargic battles. The creative tank is clearly out of gas for this follow-up, but that doesn't stop directors Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz from trying to staple together a continuation made out of random ideas and footage from "The Toxic Avenger Part II." Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


4K UHD Review - The Toxic Avenger Part II

Q14

After clearing away the leagues of bullies and baddies out to get him in 1984's "The Toxic Avenger," New Jersey's only superhero returns to duty in 1989's "The Toxic Avenger Part II," which promotes the mutant to full-fledged do-gooder. It's rowdy work from co-directors Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, who trust that an overall amplification of violence coupled with a change in location might revive the picture and its quest to transform the mangled hero into a household name. The manic vibe only works in small doses, with "The Toxic Avenger Part II" disappointingly unfocused, trying to pull together an overall arc of psychological inspection and traditional Troma bloodletting, but never finding a sweet spot of inspiration. It's entertaining at times, but rarely coherent, presenting itself as a grab-bag of ideas and broad reactions, watching Kaufman and Herz spend all their time staging slapstick, leaving the script only a vague outline of character development. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


4K UHD Review - The Toxic Avenger

O13

1984's "The Toxic Avenger" is the movie that put Troma Entertainment on the map. Previously employed as a distribution machine for titillation comedies, Troma hit pay dirt when they switched their focus to silly splatter efforts and horror pictures, finding a rabid audience who couldn't get enough of their specialized brand of winky mayhem. "The Toxic Avenger" is the prototype for subsequent Troma endeavors, mixing a bewildering cocktail of one-liners and ultraviolence in a production that actually desires to make audiences laugh, even while it kills a kid and a dog, and points a shotgun at a baby. Still, the earnestness of the feature is amazing, always working to find a note of absurdity to molest as directors Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (billed here as "Samuel Weil") bathe the screen in blood, nudity, and slapstick, funneled into a superhero spoof with a vague environmental message. Nearly 40 years after its initial release and "The Toxic Avenger" still manages to trigger disgust and a handful of laughs, representing not only a key Troma financial victory, but it's quite possibly their finest original work. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Arnold (1973)

A13

1973's "Arnold" has a plot that's so bizarre, it really makes one wonder how it managed to make it all the way to the screen. Here's a tale about a wedding, only it involves a corpse, and one with a specific plan of revenge on the people who've wronged him over his formerly fruitful life. Screenwriter Jameson Brewer and John Fenton Murray go a little crazy with their ideas for the picture, creating a kooky mystery featuring a collection of colorful characters and strange behaviors. "Arnold" has a plan for oddness, especially when it comes to the dispatching of players in the dead man's game, and there's a seasoned cast ready to sell the stuffing out of it all, putting in a laudable effort to make this bit of insanity play like a strange Agatha Christie tale, or perhaps a particularly saucy episode of "Scooby-Doo." Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Curse of the Screaming Dead (1982)

C12

1982's "The Curse of the Screaming Dead" is a backyard production from writer/director Tony Malanowski, who attempts to build on his first feature, 1981's widely panned "Night of Horror," with a semi-remake, using all that he's learned from the original experience to fuel a return to fright filmmaking. Unfortunately, Malanowski doesn't exactly make a sizable creative leap with his second at-bat, with "The Curse of the Screaming Dead" a painfully dull viewing experience that's only intermittently pulled out of complete blankness to deal with the threat of the undead. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - We Kill for Love

W16

When the words "erotic thriller" are uttered, usually only one person comes to mind: Shannon Tweed. Director Anthony Penta seeks to change such awareness with "We Kill for Love," which is a documentary about the controversial subgenre, which was developing long before Tweed was even born, and continues after her retirement from acting. There's an entire history to explore here, with erotic thrillers developing rapidly over the decades, eventually exploding in the 1980s and '90s, and the helmer is determined to sniff around every corner of interpretation and thought. And I mean every. last. one. There's a lot to "We Kill for Love," which runs a whopping 163 minutes in length -- a major sit for a subject that could probably be successfully examined in an hour and a half with judicious editing and a more focused approach. Penta is determined to oversee a behemoth production to make his fine points understood, and he's not having a whole lot of fun with it, as the endeavor is more analytical than anecdotal, going the chilly "Room 237" route with a stern, film theory-style approach, which is undeniably interesting, but with this absurd run time, it occasionally feels like running a marathon with no finish line. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey

W15

In 2022, the world of A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" entered the public domain, allowing anyone to use the iconic literary characters, opening the floodgates for imitators and opportunists. Writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield is the first to try something with this new Pooh order, electing to avoid the family film circuit and plunge right into horror, concocting "Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey," which reimagines the silly old bear as a Leatherface/Jason type, determined to consume and kill as many helpless victims as possible, joined by his pal, Piglet. If you're thinking, "that sounds horrible," you're right, with Frake-Waterfield going the ultra-cheap, quickie route with the production, hoping to cash-in on a beloved brand name with the least amount of moviemaking effort possible. "Blood and Honey" isn't silly or fun, it's a dreary viewing experience with slapdash technical credits and no discernable story, turning time in the Hundred Acre Wood into a punishing viewing experience. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Hot Under the Collar

H15

Director Richard Gabai found some success with 1991's "Virgin High," which represented his effort to participate in teen horndog cinema from the 1980s, looking to get his career going by playing with a safe subgenre. Unfortunately, the feature wasn't really up to the challenge of providing a raunchy good time, with Gabai more interested in silliness without the comedy chops to sell such craziness. However, profit is profit, and Gabai was sent right back into action for 1992's "Hot Under the Collar," which is a sequel/remake of "Virgin High," with most of the gang back to make trouble at a Catholic institution, revealing some strange hostility toward religion from Gabai. Still, mockery of Christianity is something in "Hot Under the Collar," which largely tries to skate by on nothing, with the helmer recycling some jokes from the previous endeavor, and his new material isn't effective at all, creating quite the patience-testing viewing experience. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Virgin High

V4

1991's "Virgin High" is a little late to the party, but director Richard Gabai is determined to participate in the teen horndog cinema gold rush of the 1980s, offering his take on the undersexed antics of young men trying to terrorize/enchant the young women they're lusting after. The setting is familiar, with boarding school high jinks the name of the game here, but there's a slightly religious curve to the material, with the screenplay laboring to pants Catholic control as it faces the all-powerful ways of horniness. Gabai looks to infuse a little "Airplane!"-style humor into the endeavor, but he's mostly stuck with low-budget shenanigans, which are largely uninspired and weirdly chaste for this type of entertainment. Gabai leads the thespian charge as well, also falling short of subgenre needs, delivering an awkward performance as the top party animal on a mission to force his object of desire to bend to his will while making life hell for an assortment of nuns, security types, and parental figures. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com