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Currently showing posts tagged Matt Mitler

  • Deadtime Stories (1986) Blu-ray Review

    Deadtime Stories (1986)

    Director: Jeffrey Delman

    Starring: Scott Valentine, Melissa Leo, Cathryn DePrume, Anne Redfern, Nicole Picard, Matt Mitler, Kathy Fleig & Phyllis Craig

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    As imperfect as most horror anthologies go, Deadtime Stories is a mixed bag of mostly tricks and few treats where nightmares and fairy tales converge.  In order to put his monster-fearing nephew to bed, a disgruntled man retells three beloved bedtime fables with a macabre twist.  With the exception of atmospheric scenery, Peter and the Witches acts as the film’s unfortunate Sandman story where an enslaved boy (Scott Valentine, My Demon Lover) must kidnap a fair maiden for his witch captors to use in a sacrificial ceremony to resurrect their deceased sister.  Featuring effective make-up effects of a gory corpse being reanimated, the chiller’s first chapter is anything but a page turner.  Next up, Little Red Runninghood finds an attractive teen stalked by a ravenous werewolf who blames the sexually curious girl for mistakenly stealing his meds.  A decently modeled beast taken down by a silver cake server during a tense standoff, the second segment remains far from memorable but, a modest improvement over its predecessor.  Lastly, the final and most enjoyable of the trio, Goldi Lox and the Three Baers finds Mama (future Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, The Fighter) breaking her criminally insane husband and son from the loony bin only to learn their shady residence has been taken over by the homicidally telekinetic Goldi Lox (Cathryn De Prume, Wild).  Turning the absurdity into overdrive with over the top performances so intentionally bad, they’re a hoot, the closing tale is the true saving grace in this otherwise lackluster anthology of not-so-many frights.

    Boasting a new HD transfer culled from the original camera negative, Scream Factory presents Deadtime Stores with a solid 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio that puts to shame previous bargain bin releases sourced from grainy and barely watchable VHS prints.  Retaining a natural grain structure and robust colors, the film has never seen better days.  Joined by a respectable DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that delivers dialogue and music, most notably the goofy opening song by Taj, solidly, the track satisfies fine.  Kicking off with a newly recorded Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Jeffrey Delman, additional special features include, I Like the Grotesque: A Conversation with Jef Delman (15:42) that finds the filmmaker discussing everything from shooting in Westchester County, NY and the difficulty in selling an anthology picture to the special effects, casting, locations and music of the film.  Furthermore, A Band of Gypsies: The Making of Deadtime Stories (15:35) catches up with Cathryn DePrune (Goldi Lox), Melissa Leo (“Mama” Baer) and Scott Valentine (Peter) as they reminisce on their clique at the time of the movie’s making and their warm regards for the project’s loyal following.  Lastly, The Black Forest (29:49), the original short film version of the Peter and the Witches segment with an introduction by Delman, Deleted Scenes (2:32) also prefaced by Delman, Theatrical Trailers (3:12), a Photo Gallery (4:14) and DVD Edition wrap up the release’s bonus features.  Offering sporadic bursts of intentional and not-so intentional ridiculousness, Deadtime Stories may have its followers but, its trifecta of tales do little to terrify and much to disappoint.  Thankfully for fans, Scream Factory have rescued the film from tape-sourced hell with a new high-definition makeover and a modest spread of supplements that demonstrate the class of Academy Award winners humbly unashamed of their earliest beginnings.  Cautiously recommended to horror anthology curiosos.  

    RATING: 2.5/5 

    Available now from Scream Factory, Deadtime Stories can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazom.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Mutilator (1985) Blu-ray Review

    The Mutilator (1985)

    Director: Buddy Cooper

    Starring: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock, Connie Rogers, Frances Raines, Morey Lampley, Jack Chatham & Ben Moore

    Released by: Arrow Video

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Years after accidentally misfiring at his mother, The Mutilator centers on Ed (Matt Mitler, Deadtime Stories) who’s asked by his father to lock up his condo for the winter season.  With nothing to do on their fall break, Ed and his friends retreat to the beachside getaway for a few days of rest and relaxation.  Unfortunately, a shadowy figure awaits their arrival, prepared to make their vacation a nightmare.  

    Bearing its original Fall Break title card, The Mutilator, while a late inclusion for the already waining slasher genre, remains a standout effort of blood splattering, special effects wizardry.  Shot on location in North Carolina, Buddy Cooper’s sole directorial feature follows the tried and true trope of young adults in search of excitement only to find themselves at the mercy of an unhinged murderer.  With little to do on their break, Ed’s (Mitler) instructions to lock up his father’s condo turns into a weekend retreat for his tight knit group of friends.  Journeying there to the sounds of one of the most upbeat songs in slasher history, the gang loads up on booze as Ed shares stories about his peculiar father amongst his personal collection of taxidermy animals.  Meandering through household duties, Monopoly and eventually skinny-dipping, a mysterious stalker makes his presence known, introducing the unsuspecting horndogs to his sharp weaponry.  Oddly enough, The Mutilator hosts a drug free cast of victims while, nudity and fornication are virtually nonexistent making each character’s fate slightly less predictable.  Like its tagline suggests, the ruthless killer terminates his victims with a fine assortment of tools including, an axe, fishhook, pitchfork and even a boating motor.  While the cast is likable enough with their shenanigans rather tame, The Mutilator’s true claim to fame is its execution of gory effects work, expertly achieved by a young Mark Shostrom (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Evil Dead II).  Building a menagerie of victims in the condo’s dingy garage for its antagonist, decapitations, plywood through a cheek and a gnarly severing in its final act seal the slasher’s grisly reputation.

    Graced with one of the most memorable poster designs of the genre, The Mutilator’s reputation although secondary to other prominent slashers including, Friday the 13th and The Burning, has persisted as overwhelming darkness made watchability less than ideal since its original release.  A bonafide cult classic for stalk-and-slash aficionados, Cooper’s cheaply produced body count picture may not have the most wildly exciting characters or location but, stands equally with its contemporaries for its “let’s make a picture” tenacity and exceptionally bloody effects that still hold up.

    Arrow Video presents The Mutilator with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Recovering an uncut 35mm print and scanning it in 2K, mild softness exists during early daytime sequences while, skin tones are nicely saturated with clothing choices popping nicely.  Instances of dirt and debris are present but hardly of any serious bother in this suitably filmic presentation.  In addition, although possessing slight murkiness and occasional intrusions of red tint creeping into the sides of its frame, black levels are a true revelation, allowing viewers to finally witness all the film’s bloody sequences with ease.  With a lack of suitable materials preventing a release for countless years and fans losing all hope of an official release, Arrow Video’s restoration may arguably be the greatest magic trick of 2016.  Equipped with an LPCM 1.0 mix, dialogue is audibly handled while, Michael Minard’s Fall Break opening song leaves a surprisingly authoritative stamp on the track.  In addition, suspenseful music cues are effective with hiss and pops non detectable.  Appropriately packed, special features include, an Introduction to the film with Writer/Director Buddy Cooper and Assistant Special Make-Up Effects Artist/Assistant Editor Edmund Ferrell (1:08), an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Buddy Cooper, Assistant Special Make-Up Effects Artist/Assistant Editor Edmund Ferrell, Co-Director John Douglass and Star Matt Mitler and a second Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Buddy Cooper and Star Ruth Martinez Tutterow.  In addition, Fall Breakers: The Making of The Mutilator (1:15:01) is an exceptional feature-length retrospective with new interviews from the cast and crew discussing the film’s production and long-lasting popularity amongst slasher fans.  Mutilator Memories with Mark Shostrom (15:57) sits down with the talented effects artist as he reminisces on the 30-year-old effort while, Tunes for the Dunes (8:13) catches up with Composer Michael Minard and his building of the film’s effective score and upbeat title track.  A Behind-the-Scenes Reel (16:31), Screen Tests (13:03) and Opening Scene Storyboards (4:27) are also included alongside Trailers and TV Spots for: Fall Break Trailer (1:42), Fall Break TV Spot (0:32), The Mutilator Trailer (1:57), The Mutilator TV Spot Version A (0:32), The Mutilator TV Spot Version B (0:32) and Radio Spots (0:57).  Furthermore, Alternate Opening Titles (4:32), Music featuring Fall Break (3:30) and its instrumental take (3:30), a Still Gallery (8:49), the Original Fall Break Screenplay (featured on BD/DVD-ROM) and a 26-page booklet featuring photos and essays by Ewan Cant and Tim Ferrante are also featured.  Finally, a Reversible Cover Art utilizing alternate artwork under the original Fall Break title and a DVD edition of the release round out the exhaustively excellent supplements.

    Serving as a bloody good slice of slashertainment during the genre’s downward spiral, The Mutilator lives up to its garishly gory artwork with polished special effects that enriches the film’s low-budget identity.  Like Houdini achieving the impossible, Arrow Video has painstakingly restored this holy grail of horror to a state that viewers can appreciatively witness after decades of overly dark presentations.  In addition to its nearly unfathomable high-definition upgrade, special features including, audio commentaries, a top-notch feature length look back, liner notes and tons more easily nominate The Mutilator as one of 2016’s most impressive releases.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available now from Arrow Video, The Mutilator can be purchased via ArrowFilms.co.uk, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.