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Budget home media imprint Mill Creek Entertainment has been knocking it out of the park for some time, licensing rare and obscure genre films and giving them crisp HD Blu-ray presentations with attractive packaging and making them available for next to nothing. Rarely – if ever – do they bother with following the lead of boutique labels like Arrow or Severin by padding out their releases with special features of any kind. And that’s often okay. Because at the end of the day, it’s the movie that matters and any further knowledge the viewer needs is mostly available on ye olde internet.
But sometimes the company lets loose a title that DEMANDS a more comprehensive revisit and dissection. One such picture is VIBES, a 1988 comedy/fantasy/adventure that came and went quickly, the victim of audience indifference and scathing critical response. If ever there was a picture that demanded a fevered cult following, it’s VIBES, a cheerfully bizarre, bouncy and beautiful-to-look-at romp with a pack of wonderful performances and endless weirdness. Why it was so hated upon opening is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it’s because this sort of post-GHOSTBUSTERS FX-draped action ‘n’ laffs programmer was starting to become old hat by the decade’s end. Maybe its because people were cynical about female pop stars fronting a studio feature after the failure of Madonna’s WHO’S THAT GIRL? (also kind of undervalued). Who knows. But it’s a movie that needs MUCH more respect. Why? Maybe it’s just that VIBES feels so out of step with everything that is cynical, scatological and un-cinematic in contemporary comedy that you just want to hold it and keep it safe. Or maybe it’s simply because this is Cyndi Lauper’s one-and-only above-the-credits starring role and she’s really, REALLY good and her unlikely romantic lead is a post-THE FLY Jeff Goldblum and HE’S really good too and their energies are gelled together by the presence of COLOMBO himself, Peter Falk.
Whatever the voodoo, VIBES is a rather brilliant little picture and it’s great to have it back.
David (LOST SOUL) Gregory’s latest document of cinema eccentricity BLOOD AND FLESH: THE REEL LIFE AND GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON, is first and foremost a tragedy. It begins at the end, in 1995, when mainstream media headlines screamed about the grisly discovery of a “horror movie director” who was found entombed in the basement of his California home, the victim of a sociopathic handyman who then went on the lam. It was a sensational finale to a fascinating life making movies whose go-for-broke (in many cases, literally going broke) sensibilities served as a middle finger to good taste. Adamson made pictures that were often rightfully lambasted by the critics, but thrived primarily in the undiscriminating passion pit worlds where cheap, dark fantasy thrills served as background noise to whatever shenanigans were going down in the backseats. Indeed, the gentle, likable director lived to make movies but his sad, cruel death was something that even he couldn’t have imagined.
The son of pioneering Western movie star Denver Dixon, Adamson was literally raised in the movie business and soon fell into directing films in the late ’60s and ’70s, at a time when there really was a healthy market for movies like HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS, BRAIN OF BLOOD, BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR, BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE and, of course, his most notorious (and perhaps most successful) effort, the deranged DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN. Adamson, along with his frequent collaborator, producer Sam Sherman, unleashed an endless supply of psychedelic skid row schlock , movies made with energy and oddball vision and starring many aging Hollywood legends, like John Carradine, The Ritz Brothers and Aldo Ray. Adamson’s work may not have been “good” by standard definitions of the word, but seen as a body of work it was -and remains – unique, colorful and admirably consistent.
Somebody somewhere screwed up the story and spread the belief that all horror movies had to tear you to pieces, saturating the screen with sadism and nihilism and other sorts of negative isms. They forgot that once upon a time, people turned to darker filmed fantasies to immerse themselves in beauty, to experience a sort of sinister, out-of-body, sensorial trip; to lose oneself in a work of macabre imagination, of somber moods and grandiose imagery. I can’t be sure exactly when jolts and jumps and spoon-fed, mundane logic superseded aesthetics in horror, but I know how lousy I feel when the world shrugs its shoulders in the wake of the release of a film – and a filmmaker – who has NOT forgotten what the essence of the genre is.
Such a picture is THE TURNING, and such a director is Floria Sigismondi, the artist whose landmark work making videos for David Bowie and Marilyn Manson (and many, many others) defined the look and feel of darker rock ‘n’ roll in the 1990s. Her 2010 feature film debut THE RUNAWAYS was a logical extension of her love of sound and image, telling the story of Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and the titular band in a visually flashy fashion. But that movie’s greatest power was when it dialed things down, when it focused on faces, inner voices and emotion. The brief sequence where a tired, homesick Currie hears Don McLean’s “Vincent” on the radio during a drive between gigs is in itself a small, moving piece of cinema as poetry and secretly encapsulates everything the movie is about. Her second film, the recently released THE TURNING is indeed a horror picture, yet another dive into the well-worn weird-world painted in Henry James’ novel “The Turn of the Screw”. And while the trailer for this one speaks to appeal to the Friday night Blumhouse crowd, its PG-13 rating inviting almost all audiences in to see it, the actual film itself is something else, or rather it slowly, surely, becomes something else. In fact, THE TURNING has the ultimate effect of actually turning, of rotating, sensually, seriously. It’s a movie that begins as a whole and then sort of melts into a swirling death-pool of subconscious imagery and primordial terror. In other words, it’s the work of a great artist trying to remind the world of the real deal power of horror cinema and what it can do to its audience.
What do you get when legendary exploitation studio Eurocine (ZOMBIE LAKE, OASIS OF THE LOST GIRLS) enlists the arresting presence of Amazonian cult movie goddess Sybil Danning (HOWLING II, HERCULES) to kick some international terrorist tush? Why, PANTHER SQUAD of course! The coolest and craziest downmarket action movie of the 1980s!
Full Moon is excited to be bringing this rarely seen French/Spanish gem back from VHS rental oblivion with a crisp new remastered HD transfer on both Blu-ray and DVD FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, available for sale THIS WEDNESDAY (1/15) only at Full Moon Direct! Special features include a BRAND NEW Sybil Danning audio commentary moderated by DELIRIUM magazine editor Chris Alexander. And SPEAKING of DELIRIUM, we’re unleashing the sexy and color-soaked 22nd issue of our beloved cinema journal on February 5th, featuring our blow-out PANTHER SQUAD cover story and a pair of KILLER new Sybil Danning interviews!
Director Irvin Berwick (MALIBU HIGH) may not have made many movies in his day, but – as we all know – quality trumps quantity and his 1977 exploitation psychodrama shocker HITCH HIKE TO HELL is not only his best work, it’s one of the weirdest and most potent pictures of its kind, and that’s saying something considering the company the movie kept during that most sensational era of “passion pit” drive-in potboilers. And really, “quality” is a subjective term. By conventional standards, the shoestring-budgeted HITCH HIKE TO HELL isn’t a particularly well produced work. But man, does it pack a disorienting, primal punch.
The film tells the tawdry tale of Howard (Robert Gribbin), a dry-cleaning delivery driver who is seemingly happy, upbeat and well-liked by all. Certainly the wayward women hitchhikers he picks up dig his company. He’s kind and a good listener. But the problem is, when said runaway ladies start taking trash about their domestic lives – specifically griping about their mothers – Howard starts to get dark. Then, he gets darker. Within minutes, Jekyll become Hyde and Howard drives his poor passengers to a remote locale, yanks them screaming out of his van and beats and savagely rapes them before brutally murdering them. And then it repeats.
Kids growing up in Canada in the 1980s who were blessed with access to PayTV will recall – fondly or otherwise – director Michael Rubbo’s bizarre and oh-so-French-Canadian eyesore THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION. The movie – part of producer Rock Demers’ perpetually odd “Tales for All” cinema series – seemed to ALWAYS be on channels like First Choice and Superchannel (and then, when the two stations merged, First Choice/Superchannel) and, with its low production values, weird dubbing and terminally insane plot mechanics, THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION became the kind of curio that kids watched when there was nothing else to watch.
Which is not to say THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION is bad. It’s neither good, nor bad. It just is! There’s never been a movie like it before or since, and apparently – according to Severin Films’ copy on their new Blu-ray release – it terrified younger tots who stumbled upon it. I don’t quite get the fear factor, but there is most assuredly an arch, other-worldliness to the picture and a streak of sadism and surrealism that gave and still gives the picture a unique fingerprint.
Circle the monstrous month of March 2020 as the time when you’ll get your first taste of the next DEADLY TEN title, BLADE: THE IRON CROSS! Director John Lechago’s kinky and twisted spin-off of the anti-Nazi PUPPET MASTER “AXIS” trilogy starring everyone’s favorite murderous marionette is in post-production as we speak and set for its WORLD PREMIERE on Full Moon Features and Full Moon’s Amazon Prime channel.
The name Lamberto Bava needs no introduction among the serious cult movie crowd. Son of Mario Bava, the founding father of the Italian horror film, the younger Bava honed his skills working alongside his father, before striking out on his own as the director of the elegant and disturbing horror-drama MACABRE, followed closely by his neo-giallo A BLADE IN THE DARK (originally intended as an Italian TV show) and then defined the new, strong Eurohorror film with his Dario Argento produced and co-written 1985 shocker DEMONS and its 1988 sequel, DEMONS 2.
Bava is international horror film royalty (well, film royalty FULL STOP) and while the Italian movie industry has fallen relatively quiet in recent years, DELIRIUM got the juice on a BRAND NEW Bava project, a picture that sees him teaming up with his DEMONS star (and genre icon in her own right) Geretta Geretta and next-gen multi-hyphenate cinema-slinger Kansas Bowling (writer, director and everything else of the acclaimed Troma Films bloodbath B.C. BUTCHER) for an all-new (and yet anchored in history) horror movie that’s set to go to camera next year.
Announced two weeks ago in Toronto at the 6th annual HORROR-RAMA convention, this new feature film will be written and directed by Geretta, set and shot in the shadowy, steeped-in-the-supernatural corners of New Orleans, produced and photographed by Bowling and co-produced and presented by Bava.
“This is my way of bridging the past with the present and future,” Bava says of his involvement in the new picture.
“It’s like when Dario ‘presented’ DEMONS, so I will do the same with this picture”.
The trio is keeping details about the horror movie close-to-the-vest, but it is known that Bowling (who outside of her film and video work, is also an actress who appeared as a Manson girl in ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD) will shoot the movie in 16mm (her preferred medium) along with D.P. Michael Shershenovich (BLOODY CHRISTMAS, SKID ROW). The movie will also have DNA closely tied to Bava’s original DEMONS film.
The film will go to camera in 2020. DELIRIUM will have more on the project to you when we get it.