By Jerry Smith
As far as zombie films go, if you’ve seen one, you’ve just about seen them all. With the exception of the original trilogy from Romero, a Fulci film or two and various other horror auteurs who have given breaths of fresh air into the zombie film subgenre, the flesh-eating undead have slowly crept through enough movies to fill the Grand Canyon, and very few do anything daring or unique. Ken Wiederhorn’s 1977 film SHOCK WAVES (aka DEATH CORPS) is not only that breath of fresh air that so many other zombie films fail at providing, but it’s just a damned good horror film in general, and the subject of Blue Underground’s newest HD release.
Beginning its tale with the finding of Rose (Brooke Adams from the 1978 version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS), a dehydrated sole survivor of a mysterious attack, SHOCK WAVES establishes a mystery of wanting to know what happened, before providing an explanation that is truly one of the most original takes on the zombie film of all time. While aboard a small (and run down) commercial boat filled with a few other passengers, Rose and the others become stranded after a series of events, with everything from the ship’s captain (the late John Carradine) being less of leader and more of a grumpy old man, to engine failure and to top it all off, a massive (and somewhat invisible) ship causing them to wreck their boat.
When the morning approaches, and the gang discovers the captain’s dead body floating through the water, it’s obvious that danger is soon coming. When the stranded passengers discover an old hotel, inhabited only by a recluse (played by Van Helsing himself, Peter Cushing), with a Nazi flag hung nearby. Almost directly after coming into contact with the reclusive old man, a group of undead Nazi zombies rise from the deep waters, murdering the passengers in interesting ways.
What sets SHOCK WAVES so far apart from every other zombie film, is how original it is, with its undead being so very different than any other take on the filmic ghoul. These zombies aren’t interested in flesh or brains and walking at a slow pace, they’re methodical and cunning, slowly stalking their prey before rising from the waters and taking the individual out. Eerie stuff…
The HD transfer is exactly what one would hope it to be, cleaned up, but not to excessively. It looks great in HD, but there’s still that grain and “film” look to it, making for a viewing experience that feels authentic. As far as supplemental material goes, there’s an impressive amount of new interviews with everyone from producer/cinematographer Reuben Trane, to stars Adams and Luke Halpin to Composer Richard Einhorn. Blue Underground never skimps on their releases, and SHOCK WAVES is yet another great release from them and is, in this critic’s opinion, an exceptional treatment of one of the five best zombie films of all time.
DELIRIUM REVIEW: 8/10
By James Bickert
Exploitation film enthusiast, essayist and GOREZONE scribe James Bickert (DEAR GOD, NO!) came to us recently with a rock video that fell onto his radar helmed by his friend, director Video Rahim. He wanted to help spread the grim gospel about this stunning clip and asked if DELIRIUM would be the vessel to do so.
Who are we to refuse James Bickert?
See below! And hide the kids!
Director: Video Rahim
From the filmmaker:
The first time I saw Gunpowder Gray live was at the infamous Star Bar in Little 5 Points, in Atlanta, and it was one of their first shows. The drummer for the band is Joey O’Brien, who is also the drummer for the Biters. We’ve worked together before on music videos. When I saw them play this hard rockin’ show it reminded me of some of my favorite rock bands from the past. Immediately concluding the set I turned to my producer and said, “I want to shoot a music video for them.”
About eight months or so later, I received a call from Chris Heffernan (guitar and backing vocals) that Gunpowder Gray wanted to shoot their first music video and was interested in collaborating. We kicked ideas around for a few weeks, until we thought we had a concept. However, just days before we were set to shoot, I had a vision. The band naturally dressed in hard rock attire that reminded me of the 80’s cult classic vampire film Lost Boys. I called the band and told them about a rough concept based on the Lost Boys movie. It took the band less than 30 seconds to agree that we had to adjust the treatment to fit this new creative. The guys in the band were all fans of horror films, and Lost Boys was one of their favorites.
We knew we wanted Shane Morton (Your Pretty Face is Going To Hell, Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse) to collaborate with us on this project. Shane was the perfect fit. We knew he’d love the music and create the perfect special effects and makeup to compliment a throwback 80’s vampire music video. I had worked with Shane on a Biters music video inspired by John Carpenters “They Live” which has now been accepted to 7 film festival across the US. Shane created the visual style of the vampire look and choreographed all the kills that took place in the video. Having Shane and his special effects team on set allowed us to take the video to the next level, creating a blood soaked, vampire feast truly fitting of the song.
By Jerry Smith
To call Bruno Mattei’s HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka-NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, VIRUS and ZOMBIE CREEPING FLESH) a guilty pleasure would be the understatement of the year. It’s in NO way a “good” movie. It’s incoherent at times, full of confusing actions by its characters and is easily one of the worst of the Italian zombie films that followed the craze set forth by George A. Romero’s 1978 classic, DAWN OF THE DEAD.
With that said, and with its warts and all, it’s impossible to say that the film is not one entertaining train wreck to watch, a film so full of randomness and blood, that you find yourself as a viewer completely enthralled by what’s playing out in front of you. With its story of a military experiment called the “Hope Project” gone horribly wrong, setting the undead loose on the world, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is a film that revels in its absurdity, showcasing everything from zombies chewing on peoples’ necks to one odd sequence in which a group of soldiers stumble upon a couple of journalists before coming across a tribal village. Having “Spent a year studying the tribe”, the female journalist does what anyone would do in that situation: strips completely naked, paints her breasts and acts like a tribal member. It is choices like those that make the film so odd, yet when the zombie action hits, you find yourself enthralled EVERY SINGLE TIME, no matter how absurd the rest of the film is. I dare anyone watching the film for the first time, to act like they saw the end of the film coming, with it giving gore fans one of the most unexpected yet welcomed death scenes in ages.
The disc’s transfer itself looks absolutely great though, as Blue Underground always does such an excellent job bringing these cult favorites into the digital age, with wonderful looking HD transfers, as well as some entertaining interviews with various people involved.
Where the double feature REALLY stands out, is the second Mattei film in the set, the 1984 rodents vs. post-apocalyptic bikers feature, RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR. If HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is the sillier and more absurd of the two, RATS is exactly what it sounds like it would be: an extremely entertaining film, full of memorable characters, sequences and some gnarly effects to boot.
Involving a gang of bikers (including DEMONS star Geretta Geretta, see DELIRIUM #3 for a full interview) coming across a seemingly empty village and discovering that not only is the village NOT deserted, but that rats have killed its residents and now have their sights on the gang. If battling hundreds of murderous rats wasn’t bad enough, the gang slowly lose their cool and begin to turn on each other as well, leading to a battle of who is truly in charge, something that seems quite silly, when some gnarly rats are wanting to make you into their snack.
RATS is pure entertainment from the beginning to the very end, a film that instantly transports you to the time in which we’d get a steady amount of films involving larger than life plots like that of films like these, a time that has sadly been lost in the genre films that tend to take themselves a bit too seriously these days. Seeing older films like RATS, filled to the brim with larger than life characters and situations puts a smile on my face from ear to ear.
Like HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, RATS: NIGHT OF THE TERROR looks superb, yet another reason that Blue Underground is currently one of the best companies putting out genre favorite films onto brand new Blu-ray HD transfers. With this excellent double feature set and their recent Blu-ray release of Soavi’s STAGEFRIGHT, I can’t wait to see what the folks at Blue Underground have up their sleeve next.
DELIRIUM Review 7/10
by Matty Budrewicz
It’s a wonderful ol’ world when we’re treated to not one but two – TWO! – souped-up special editions of THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN. Just three months after Scream Factory’s cracking, region A-locked disc comes this: Arrow’s UK counterpart of long-time tosh specialist William Sachs’ gloopalicious horror howler. And – as they did last year with Tobe Hooper’s outrageous LIFEFORCE – Britain’s premier boutique label have again taken everything that made Scream Factory’s package so essential and added that extra kicker; this time by including the Super 8 digest version of the film.
Assembled from THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN’s numerous, dubious highlights, this seven minute long, scratty-looking (as per its source material) zinger is a ‘best of’ mini-compilation; the Super 8 digest form itself – as Arrow’s introductory card explains – being one of the earliest available means of screening movies at home. It’s not quite as lavish a bonus as Arrow’s top-notch LIFEFORCE doc Cannon Fodder but, for anyone fascinated with the history of home video or, indeed, any Melting Man die-hards out there, it’s certainly the cherry on an already tasty schlock sundae.
While cynics may argue this massively truncated cut is more preferable, for clag connoisseurs Sachs’ flick remains as endearingly terrible as ever. Conventional criticism cannot be applied to something like THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, and nor should it; it’s a lousy yet ludicrously entertaining Z-grader every bit as wonderfully putrid as the gelatinous face of its eponymous antagonist.
Who’s to blame for such an uproarious farrago is anyone’s guess. The utterly flat script and cack-handed direction may fall at Sachs’ feet but, if his forthright commentary is anything to go by, it’s producers interference that killed the flick outright – well, its chances of being a conventionally passable programmer anyway. Ported from Scream Factory, it’s an excellent natter, with Sachs candidly addressing both his own shortcomings as a filmmaker and his producers refusal to understand the material as he originally conceived it; as a playful, spoofy cross between Atomic Era sci-fi and EC-style comic book shock.
The campy and kitsch influences are definitely there as astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) – radioactive after an accident up in orbit – turns into a murderous, gooey slop, but, as Melting Man make-up maestro Rick Baker suggests in his and Sachs’ great, two-handed twenty minute interview piece (another port), the film’s comedy is more likely due to its technical incompetence and truly awful performances than anything Sachs supposedly intended. Here, Baker is an affable delight as he discusses everything from his reluctance to get involved with the project – originally titled ‘The Ghoul From Outer Space’ – to his own feelings on the film’s surprising longevity.
The AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON FX legend’s gorgeously grotesque work is, of course, THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN’s greatest asset, and it looks superb thanks to the MGM-licensed HD transfer; a gloriously film-y eye-popper. You mightn’t, as West says, have seen anything until you’ve seen the sun through the rings of Saturn, but you haven’t lived until you’ve seen THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN in 1080p. Sound is served by a solid 2.0 mono mix and the set is rounded out with the film’s stupendously po-faced trailer, a cool promo gallery and a nifty, UK-exclusive three minute micro-chat with Baker’s then-protege, but now equally revered FX wiz, Greg Cannom.
A damn fine release of a terrifically naff movie; pick it up!
DELIRIUM REVIEW 8/10
DELIRIUM is at the 2014 TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL and will be reviewing new horror and cult films right from the front lines of the festival. Here’s our first entry from critic and writer Cheryl Singleton.
By Cheryl Singleton
As a fan of Richard Bates Jr.’s deliciously disturbing 2012 debut EXCISION, I was anxious to feast my eyes on what would follow. A first taste via the trailer for SUBURBAN GOTHIC did not disappoint. With a super-saturated bubblegum palate, snappy dialogue and a killer cast including Matthew Gray Gubler (CRIMINAL MINDS), Kat Dennings (NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST) and the fan favourite Ray Wise (TWIN PEAKS) I was ready to take another bloody ride with the director.
Having missed the World Premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival back in August, I was delighted to see it would be playing on the opening night of the 9 day Toronto After Dark Film Festival along with Gerard Johnstone’s popular genre mash-up HOUSEBOUND. The two were a perfect pair of oddly hilarious horror films that left a smile on my face for the rest of the night.
While not in the flesh at the screening, Bates Jr. provided a video intro where he warned that this film would be “totally a complete departure from my last movie” Noting that he was unable to get a film made after the graphically disturbing EXCISION, he fell into a depression that led him to revisit things from his childhood that made him happy including watching ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK and SCOOBY DOO cartoons and reading THE HARDY BOYS. With that in mind I was ready to sink into this “children’s film for adults” that he had created.
Unable to find a job in upper management after completing business school, Raymond (Gray Gubler) has no choice but to move back in with his parents in the small town he thought he had escaped years ago. Once an overweight kid obsessed with the supernatural and prone to ghostly visions and high-pitched screams, Raymond has shed the pounds and stopped communicating with the dead, though he remains an outsider thanks to his “European” style of dress and hair that is a character unto itself. Raymond’s parents are split on his return. His mother Eve (Barbara Niven) channels the perfect 50’s housewife and is thrilled to have her little boy back home while his ridiculously bigoted football coach father Donald (Wise) couldn’t be more embarrassed by the arrival of his jobless metro-sexual son.
Bonding with the local bartender Becca (Dennings) over too many drinks, regrettable tattoos and the shared disdain for their town, the snarky pair become fast friends. When Raymond begins to experience strange paranormal occurrences at home (including a particularly cringe worthy piano/ toe nail duet) the two form a misfit ghost hunting team armed with Becca’s trusty crowbar to get to the bottom of it. Gray Gubler and Dennings each bring a crackling energy to the screen which is at its best when they are together. The end of the film suggests more mysteries are in store for the duo and I can only hope to see these explored in some fashion.
While the pace slows at the end of the second act, some secondary characters including the local bullies feel unnecessary and Donald’s prejudices begin to feel a bit heavy, it is not enough to derail the overall fun of the movie.
SUBURBAN GOTHIC is a grown up SCOOBY-DOO mystery complete with characters disguising themselves as ghosts by wearing bed sheets, but by no means is it childish. Between the razor sharp dialogue, the over the top costuming (kudos to designer Anthony Tran), the punk rock energy and the amount of time the characters spend speaking directly into the camera, this film is in your face from start to finish.
EXCISION and SUBURBAN GOTHIC could not be more different yet I was equally enthralled with both. I can’t wait to see what Richard Bates Jr. does next.
DELIRIUM REVIEW: 9/10
Editor’s note: The world of DELIRIUM deals with counterculture, eccentric, indie and European horror, cult and exploitation film. A PG-13 blockbuster film like DRACULA UNTOLD would normally not fit our bill. BUT we are running this review because it is filtered through two Canadian ladies, siblings who love weird stuff and live together and call themselves “The Spinster Sisters”. Sometimes it aint the song, it’s the singer, so let’s sit back and take in some words from our latest critics…
By The Spinster Sisters
First things first: if for some misguided reason you’re expecting DRACULA UNTOLD to be even remotely based upon Bram Stoker’s Dracula, let us save you some time. It’s not. If that’s what you want…well don’t watch this film. Go read (or reread) Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But if you want to be entertained for an hour and a half, well then this might be for you. And in the interest of full disclosure, we should mention that in September 2013 Spinster#2 was lucky enough to go on a set visit of DRACULA UNTOLD and talk to the people involved. They were so excited and passionate, she left crossing her fingers it worked out for them. Personally, we were quite looking forward to seeing this film.
And you know what? We did enjoy it. Quite a bit.
The story starts out basically grounded in history: there was a Vlad Tepes, he was a prince of Wallachia (modern Transylvania) and he was a royal hostage given to the Turks. He was trained to fight for the Turks, gained the reputation as “Vlad the Impaler” for his, some would argue, unhealthy penchant for skewering men on stakes, then returned to Wallachia to rule as Prince. At this point fact grinds to a screeching halt and fantasy takes over with a flourish. This Vlad (played stoically but handsomely, often shirtlessly, by Luke Evans) is the quintessential happy family man. He has perfected the 9-to-5 beloved prince gig so that he can go home at the end of the day to his beautiful (read: perfect) wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and son Inderas (Art Parkinson). Then the Turks come, demand their annual tribute…and 1000 boys for their army. Including Inderas. This is Gadon’s chance to show some emotion, apart from blissfully happy wife, and she does it well. As for Inderas, other reviews have accused him of being wimpy. We have to disagree, and here’s why: children in horror/fantasy movies often suffer from TSTL – To Stupid To Live. It’s often a side effect of being written as “plucky”. In their stupidity, these children usually end up killing one or both of their parents. So does Inderas run and hide behind his mother and father when Turkish soldiers attack? Yes! Because that’s what you do when you’re an even halfway intelligent 11 year old (We don’t know how old Inderas is meant to be, but Parkinson would have been 11 during filming). At no point do either Mirena or Inderas do something so mind-blowingly stupid it’s a crime they aren’t taken out then and there. To his credit, Inderas shows backbone when it matters most.
This is not a deep movie, but it moves at such a rip-roaring pace that you’re left with the definite impression there used to be more, but it had to be cut down for time. And we know from the set visit that much of the back story was cut. Seriously, there was a whole subplot with the witch Baba Yaga – and Charles Dance wasn’t the Master (a character who wasn’t even “the Master” at the time). As it stands now, director Gary Shore wastes little time transforming our hero from a Transylvanian prince with understandable and incredibly well managed PTSD to the classic blood sucking fiend you came to see. Vlad’s decision to move from Plan A: acquiesce and give the Turks what they want to Plan B: kill everyone and risk your soul in exchange for evil superpowers, took less than a minute. Go big or go home seems to be Vlad’s motto. Luckily for the film and the audience, the evil Master vampire (played delightfully by Charles Dance) trapped in the conveniently nearby Broken Tooth mountain is only too happy to help, and in doing so provides a little exposition and back story (gotta keep that plot a-movin’!) For an ancient monster feeding on the blood of man, the Master is surprising upfront about the deal: Vlad gets the complete vampire package for a three-day trial period. If during that three days he succumbs to the thirst, it’s permanent. Oh, and the Master’s freed from his mountain prison to continue waging some ill-defined eternal war and he will call on Vlad to help, BTW (but they’ll save that for the sequel). But if Vlad can control his appetites, then he gets to go back to happy, family-man Vlad with a crazy-weekend story that will never be rivalled. And, as one would imagine as the film progresses, some awkward questions from his people.
Is this a horror movie? Not really, it’s restricted by a PG-14 rating. Is it scary? No. Not in the slightest. Do all Transylvanians speak with British accents? Of course. But if you like vampires or stories with people facing internal struggles against evil, it’s a fun hour and a half. We hope there’s a sequel.
And a final parting thought:
Vlad’s bats. We imagine people will be split on the bats, but we actually thought the bats were pretty cool. We’ve always considered bats to be some of the less useful creatures of the night in Dracula’s arsenal (unless then plan is to spread rabies, then bats are freaking terrifying), but you have to give credit where credit’s due. The bats were well done. And except for one close up scene of a Turk being wing-slapped into submission by three or four particularly determined little flappers, they didn’t strike us as silly.
The Spinster Sister Review: 3/5 stars
By Jerry Smith
Michele Soavi’s 1987 film STAGEFRIGHT is a favorite to many horror aficionados and now the Italian classic gets the Blu-ray treatment from Blue Underground with this release and boy oh boy, does it look better than ever.
Following a somewhat troubled musical number that ends up being quite the deadly experience, STAGEFRIGHT establishes an excellent tone from the very beginning, setting forth a downright beautiful look full of color and style, before even getting to any real danger within the film’s plot. By the time the film’s heroine twists her ankle and heads to a psychiatric hospital to get it fixed (strange I know) we’re already on board with not only the look of the film, but also its characters, a group of needy and overly dramatic theater actors who each bring a really fun presence to the film. Soon after arriving at the hospital, one thing leads to another and a mental patient, guilty of slaughtering a dozen people, escapes and hitches a ride back to the theater, where the troupe is being subjected to an intense rehearsal by the show’s director.
Everything leading up to that point in the film, is all about setting forth that tone and feeling, allowing STAGEFRIGHT’s viewers to get hooked into a question of what’s coming next. What does end up coming, next is that the entire group gets trapped inside of the theater, with the killer hiding within and he soon dispatching them, one by one.
What sets STAGEFRIGHT apart from every other slasher film released at the time, is how tense it can feel, all while also feeling very playful and visually striking at the same time. It’s one of the few great horror films set within a theater-setting (Bava’s DEMONS and Herrier’s POPCORN also sitting comfortable side by side with it), something that gives you as a viewer a very confined and sometimes claustrophobic feelin. Topped with some excellent kills, with everything from axes, chainsaws, drills and everything in between used as ways to off each cast member one by one, STAGEFRIGHT also boasts one unforgettable killer, wearing an owl-head costume while chopping people to pieces, and trying to stage his own stage piece. It’s one of those horror films that really stands out in pretty much every capacity, with a fun plot, over the top performances, great kills, and last but definitely not least, an excellent electronic-based score by Simon Boswell (DEMONS 2, SANTA SANGRE).
Blue Underground really did one hell of a job with STAGEFRIGHT’s Blu-ray debut, as it looks absolutely stunning in high definitely, making those beautiful colors and shots stand out even more than they always have. Add the disc’s 5.1 DTS sound to it, and you’ve got by far the best the film has ever looked and sounded. Also on the disc, is over a half dozen interviews with everyone from Soavi himself, to stars of the film, make-up effects artist Pietro Tenoglio, as well as composer Simon Boswell. Each interview is well over the ten minute mark and not a single one feels like the short EPK’s that fill up so many releases these days.
Whether you’re a longtime fan of STAGEFRIGHT or if you’re just in the mood for something new, this is one hell of a release and something that should be in every horror fan’s collection.
DELIRIUM REVIEW 9/10
by Matty Budrewicz
88 Films dig their heels further into the UK genre market this week by unleashing yet another cult favourite, with Portland indie journeyman Don Gronquist’s moody slasher mystery UNHINGED receiving a welcome DVD reissue. It’s without doubt a step up from any previous disc too, from Platinum’s discount PAL VHS transfer, to Brentwood’s Stateside release – you know, that one with the obnoxious ‘comedy’ (in the loosest sense of the word) commentary. Bleurgh…
Don’t be expecting anything swanky though. For those spoilt by the pin-sharp picture and high-end sound of the recent slew of spiffy special ed blus from Arrow and Scream Factory et al, 88’s no-fuss package will likely horrify; Unhinged is just as rough and ready-looking as ever, thanks to no HD elements being available to create a new master. Still, with two presentations of the film to choose from – a 4×3 open matte or an upscaled anamorphic widescreen version – and an informative talk-track with Gronquist himself, it’s definitely the way to go. Its rock-bottom price tag is just the sweetener.
One of Blighty’s infamous Video Nasties, Unhinged’s inclusion in that notorious line-up is just as nonsensical as the rest of its condemned compadres; perhaps even more so as, unlike the grue excess of CANNIBAL FEROX and FACES OF DEATH, Unhinged eschews artery-splitting mayhem in favour of a handful of off-screen blood splashes. As noted by critic Calum Waddell in 88’s liner notes, its undue attention was probably more down to its stunningly morbid artwork – lovingly reproduced here – than anything particularly explicit within the film itself.
Of course, that’s not to say Unhinged is an easy ride. It’s far from it; a dark, tonally depressing cocktail of familial madness, repression and aberrant sexuality. Like Ruggero Deodato’s landmark gut-muncher CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and Romano Scavolini’s harrowing proto-HENRY, NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN – two of the smartest, and most uncompromising, of the Nasty canon – there’s much more going on thematically than just simple, box-ticking exploitation. Unhinged is elevated cheapjack horror.
Drawing too from the old dark house and psycho-biddy subgenres, Unhinged finds a trio of totty (Laurel Munson, Sara Ansley and Barbara Lusch) sheltering at an isolated, brooding mansion after a car accident. Their hosts, the Penroses, are hospitable but off, with prudish daughter Marion (J.E. Penner) domineered by her screeching, man-hating mother (Virginia Settle). Soon, a killer is prowling the Penrose grounds and, as the body count slowly starts to rise, so too do the skeletons that come creeping out of the deep, dark family closet…
It’s not quite classic stuff: Though atmospheric and showing a great flair for uncomfortable detail, Gronquist’s direction is, even with such a scant seventy-odd minute run time, a touch lax; especially so during Unhinged’s more standard dramatic moments. The performances too range from the overdone to the undercooked, with only Penner (who’d later appear in, of all things, HOMEWARD BOUND) producing a thoroughly credible turn. Nonetheless, Unhinged remains a minor of gem of sorts; it may be a little unpalatable for anyone expecting a FRIDAY THE 13TH-style popcorn crowd-pleaser, but for us schlock nuts who like our stalk and slash a little left of center a la FUNERAL HOME and THE UNSEEN, it’s just the disquieting tonic.
DELIRIUM REVIEW – 6/10
by Dave Wain
Throughout the seventies, Egyptian mogul Ovidio G. Assonitis shot a handful of brazen pictures that were not too dissimilar to successful Hollywood fare. BEYOND THE DOOR prompted a Warner Brothers lawsuit due to its similarity to THE EXORCIST, while TENTACLES capitalised on the success of JAWS with delightfully schlocky results. THE VISITOR, meanwhile, is a not-so-subtle nod towards THE OMEN and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND as well as a legion of other box office winners.
As with his previous film Tentacles – which saw John Huston and Henry Fonda fending off a giant octopus – Assonitis once again utilises his knack for casting iconic actors; Huston stars again, alongside such golden-era talent as Glenn Ford and Mel Ferrer. Lance Henriksen, Shelley Winters and Sam Peckinpah – in a rare front-of-camera role – also appear.
The film’s narrative centres around Katy (Paige Conner), a young girl whose heritage leads an alien elder (Huston) to be sent to Earth by a Christ-like figure (played by Franco Nero) as it turns out she’s a scion of an evil alien race complete with the power of telekinesis. In the midst of this is her single mother (Joanne Nail) who’s being wooed by baseball team owner Raymond (Henriksen) who in turn is being pressured to impregnate his new found love by some shady conspiratorial characters in order to add to the extra-terrestrial lineage.
With the risk of damning it with faint praise, The Visitor’s certainly never boring. Its Atlanta based setting – thanks to an attractive tax incentive – is vibrant, while Assonitis’ direction entrances and bewilders in equal measure, initially spectacular stunt sequences segueing into sniggering fodder. The sight of legions of shaven-headed clones staring from the top of skyscrapers at a bewildered Huston, and Franco Micalizzi’s ill-fittingly bombastic score, add to the lunacy. It’ll never be considered high art.
The extra features on this Arrow Blu-ray are ported over from the Drafthouse Films edition that saw an American release earlier this year. They include interviews with Lance Henriksen, screenwriter Lou Comici and also cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri. UK folks are, however, the recipients of an illustrated collector’s booklet with writing from critic Mike White who includes excerpts of cast interviews given to his Podcast. With a VHS release through Warner Brothers back in 1987 being the only time The Visitor has entered the UK home entertainment market, upgrading your dusty tape to Blu-ray will be an essential manoeuvre, primarily because this Arrow disc runs twenty minutes longer.
A total oddity and an awkward recommendation to the uninitiated, The Visitor is a film impossible to dislike, be it due its cast, its misguided ambition or its grand air of disjointed madness. Whatever the case, it simply demands your attention.
DELIRIUM REVIEW: 7/10
By Smitty Allenby
The fact that the first SHARKNADO was even made is ridiculous. The fact that it was a hit is astonishing. And the fact that they made a sequel is completely outrageous. And yet, here it is…
SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE isn’t a horror movie but neither was the first one. Rather it is like an absurdist comedic/violent episode of THE LOVE BOAT; a cheap, tacky cinematic rust-bucket full of declining celebrities and wanton absurdity. But with sharks. LOTS of sharks, once more raining from the heavens and chomping their way across America.
Ian Ziering reprises his role as a former surfer bum Finn (har har!), whose heroic efforts in the first SHARKNADO have cemented his iconic status. While on a plane to NYC with his ex-wife (a returning Tara Reid), the sky darkens and suddenly sharks are fudging up the engines and blowing holes in the aircraft. While passengers fly out and sharks fly in, Finn commandeers the plane, lands it and immediately sets out to warn the world that another Sharknado is afoot. Many people die and many familiar faces – from Andy Dick to Matt Lauer to a mocked-up version of Toronto mayor Rob Ford – show up to shake their heads and scream bloody murder.
And that’s about it.
You don’t watch a SHARKNADO movie for great cinema or lyrical screenwriting or even decent special effects. You watch a SHARKNADO movie to laugh and have a good time and, if nothing else, SHARKNADO 2: THE NEXT ONE is a great damned time. There’s no crime at giggling at/with writer/director Anthony C. Ferrante’s cheerfully moronic magnum opus. The man knows exactly what he’s designing and for what audience. Digital eating machines flying through the air battling chainsaw-wielding ex-BEVERLY HILLS 90201 stars is an acquired taste, to be sure, and we’ve certainly got the fever for its flavor.
DVD/Blu-ray Special features include a deleted scene, outtakes, making of featurettes and assorted distracting supplemental materials. Oh and make sure you sit through the closing credits, which are the fastest moving things outside of syndication hell and feature Ziering oddly and casually eating pizza.
Weird stuff, amusing flick.
DELIRIUM Review: 7/10