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  • Sorceress (1995) Blu-ray Review

    Sorceress (1995)

    Director: Jim Wynorski

    Starring: Larry Poindexter, Rochelle Swanson, Julie Strain, Linda Blair, Edward Albert, Michael Parks & William Marshall

    Released by: Synapse Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Presented in its uncensored director approved form, Sorceress centers on ambitious attorney Larry Barnes (Larry Poindexter, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation) as he zeroes in on a partnership at a respected law firm.  In an effort to ensure Larry’s success, his witch dabbling wife Erica (Julie Strain, Heavy Metal 2000) works her dark magic to tragically weed out his competition, Howard Reynolds (Edward Albert, Galaxy of Terror).  Understandably incensed, Howard’s wife Amelia (Linda Blair, The Exorcist) plots her own revenge using similar powers.

    Billed under its original Temptress title card, Sorceress is an erotically charged, cheaply budgeted effort starring a bevy of buxom babes who make clothes a chore to keep on.  Produced in a whopping 12 days, exploitation maverick Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall, Deathstalker II) brings his appetite for attractive actresses and glorified nudity to the forefront while the film’s witchcraft focused narrative takes a backseat to the oil-lathered bodies on display.  After his black magic worshipping wife meets a tragic end, Larry Barnes attempts to move on with his life by focusing on his career and reuniting with former flame Carol (Rochelle Swanson, Secret Games 3).  Haunted by Erica’s sexually restless spirit, Larry notices dramatic changes in Carol’s behavior while, Amelia, wife to Larry’s crippled former competition, puppet masters a seductively deadly revenge plot against the handsome hunk.  With the exception of a forgettable subplot involving a subdued Michael Parks (Red State), Sorceress keeps viewers hot and bothered with sexy sequences allowing star Larry Poindexter to sleep with virtually every pretty face in the cast.  Featuring more steamy footage and extra nudity than ever before, Wynorski’s bonafide Skinemax-style sizzler showcases Penthouse Pet of the Year Julie Strain baring all with toe-sucking lesbian love sessions also included for good measure.  While plot is surely secondary to its visual proceedings, Sorceress remains a nostalgic reminder of late night encounters with scandalous content.  Promising healthy doses of T&A and soft-core fornication, Jim Wynorski’s coven of kinkiness is sure to bewitch genre aficionados.

    Boasting a new 2K scan from uncut vault materials, Synapse Films presents Sorceress with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Decidedly lush with excellent detail found on body sweat and natural skin tones to match, Wynorski’s nudie witch flick impresses with solid black levels during its many dimly lit sequences with no noticeable age-related damage to report.  Joined by a respectable DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Jim Wynorski and a second Audio Commentary with Director Jim Wynorski and Special Guest, SPFX Make-Up Artist/Actor/Director Tom Savini.  Recorded during the Cinema Wasteland convention, Wynorski and Savini have a hoot drunkenly commentate over the film with Savini’s childlike glee for T&A serving as a hilarious highlight.

    Ushered direct-to-video upon its initial release and popping up during the wee hours on television, Sorceress is a red-hot opus starring even hotter players that cast wicked spells and suffer from insatiable appetites for lovemaking.  Featuring the sexiness of horror goddesses and Penthouse Pets, Wynorski’s low-budget skin flick will greatly appeal to all exploitation horndogs with a penchant for the B-moviemakers efforts.  Preserving the film’s never-before-seen uncut version, Synapse Films treats viewers with a typically solid HD presentation and two enjoyable commentary tracks that are nearly as attention grabbing as the film’s rampant nudity.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available June 14th from Synapse Films, Sorceress can be purchased via Synapse-Films.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Ghosthouse (1988) / Witchery (1988) Blu-ray Review

    Ghosthouse (1988) / Witchery (1988)

    Director(s): Umberto Lenzi / Fabrizio Laurenti

    Starring: Lara Wendel, Greg Scott, Mary Sellers, Ron Houck & Martin Jay / David Hasselhoff, Linda Blair, Catherine Hickland, Annie Ross & Hildegard Knef 

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Released in their home country of Italy as part of the La Casa series, Scream Factory, the horror/cult offshoot of Shout! Factory, invites viewers to a ghostly pairing of terror.  First up, Ghosthouse centers on a group of visitors exploring a deserted house with a dark past.  Before long, the unsuspecting friends find themselves at the mercy of a disturbing little girl and her possessed clown doll.  Next up, Witchery finds an assortment of people stranded on an island resort during a dangerous storm.  With no contact to the mainland, an evil witch begins weaving her dark practices on the unwanted visitors.  David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider), Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Catherine Hickland (One Life to Live), Annie Ross (Pump Up the Volume) and Hildegard Knef (Fedora) star.  

    From Director Umberto Lenzi (Spasmo, Cannibal Ferox) (using the pseudonym Humphrey Humbert), Ghosthouse opens on the deadly tragedy of a couple at the hands of their young daughter.  20 years later, Paul (Greg Scott) and his girlfriend Martha (Lara Wendel, Tenebre) receive a disturbing radio frequency that is traced back to the location of the murders, prompting the couple to investigate.  Upon their arrival, Paul and Martha  meet a group of vacationers who have made the abandoned house their temporary residence.  As supernatural evidence becomes more apparent, the friends are haunted by the ghostly apparition of the murderous little girl and her demonic clown doll.  Predominately consisting of first and only time performers, Ghosthouse suffers from laughable performances and eye-rolling dialogue that overshadows any intended sense of fear.  In addition, while the group is confronted by a series of frightening elements including, a homicidal caretaker, a ferocious Doberman and a severed head in a washing machine, the film fails to use them to its narrative advantage.  As the hauntings begin claiming victims, Paul and Martha rush to uncover the true history behind the house leading to an absurdly nonsensical ending.  While its premise and intriguing poster art fail to live up to their full potential, Ghosthouse still retains a splash of fun rooted in its charmingly awful characters and bizarrely funky score that will viewers bopping their head instead of covering their eyes.

    Utilizing its alternate Witchcraft (Evil Encounters) title, Witchery finds Leslie (Leslie Cumming), along with photographer boyfriend Gary (David Hasselhoff), investigating an abandoned island resort for her upcoming book on witchcraft.  Shortly after, a family of prospective buyers for the property, including the pregnant Jane (Linda Blair), board the island just as the tide grows dangerous.  Stranded, the two groups are forced to remain at the eerie location just as nightmarish visions and the arrival of an evil witch take hold.  While the film tends to overcomplicate its simple plot in favor of more sinister sequences, Witchery excels with its murder set pieces including, a mouth being sewn shut, a neck puncture via stuffed swordfish and a grizzly crucification.  Headlined by notable faces, Hasselhoff and Blair feel nearly wasted as the Knight Rider star spends the bulk of the runtime failing at devirginizing his girlfriend while, Blair is left to endlessly faint before a cash-in possession scene during the film’s fleeting moments.  As the witch’s complicated process of being reincarnated comes full circle, Witchery’s attempts at plot development are too little, too late with its nightmarish imagery serving as the film’s true saving grace.

    Scream Factory presents both Ghosthouse and Witchery with 1080p transfers, sporting 1.66:1 aspect ratios.  Appearing slightly soft with occasional instances of waxy complexions, both films arrive free of any discernible scratches or scuffs making way for  a remarkably clean picture.  In addition, colors are pleasing while black levels are well-handled and visible in more dimly lit scenes.  Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes, both films project dialogue clearly with their respective scores and sound effects decently relayed but never overly impressive.  Finally, special features include, a Ghosthouse Trailer (2:53) and a Witchery Trailer (3:01).

    Continuing their pairing of appropriately themed fright flicks, Scream Factory treats fans to a generous helping of Italian horror with help from possessed clowns, witchcraft and a sexually frustrated Hoff.  While Ghosthouse is a hilarious mess that can be appreciated for its unintentionally funny performances and lack of logic, Witchery ranks as the preferred feature with its death sequences outshining its more prominent cast members.  Meanwhile, Scream Factory delivers both films with appreciable bumps in quality that surpass previous home video releases.  Different strokes for different folks, Ghosthouse / Witchery may not be perfect but, both have their merits worth discovering.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available June 30th from Scream Factory, Ghosthouse / Witchery can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.