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Currently showing posts tagged Rob Galluzzo

  • The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

    Director: Wes Craven

    Starring: Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Moake, Paul Winfield, Brent Jennings, Michael Gough & Dey Young

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From the director A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow centers on anthropologist Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman, Spaceballs) as he journeys to Haiti to retrieve a mystic powder said to bring life to the dead.  Navigating the dangerous locale, Dennis finds himself involved in the deadly world of voodoo where the undead, possessions and ancient curses reign.  Cathy Tyson (Mona Lisa), Zakes Moake (Waterworld), Paul Winfield (The Terminator), Brent Jennings (Witness), Michael Gough (Batman) and Dey Young (Strange Behavior) co-star.

    Inspired by real life experiences documented in Wade Davis’ book, The Serpent and the Rainbow is a daring exploration of voodoo and the black arts.  Shot partly in the reportedly unsafe Haiti, Director Wes Craven’s nightmare-fueled opus is a noticeable departure from his previous shockers with an emphasis on the island’s factual political turmoil.  After barely surviving an Amazonia search for rare herbs and experiencing a psychedelic episode, anthropologist Dennis Alan (Pullman) is summoned by a domestic drug corporation to investigate a mysterious powder used during voodoo practices in Haiti that supposedly raises the dead.  Aided by doctor Marielle Duchamp (Tyson), Dennis’ encounter with a local zombie who roams cemeteries fuels his desire to locate the substance only to find himself ruffling the feathers of the barbaric authorities, led by Captain Dargent Peytraud (Moake).  Warned but not harmed, Dennis’ search leads him to swindling witch doctor Mozart (Jennings) who makes a deal to show the American how to develop the drug.  Pursued once again by the authorities, Dennis finds himself in dire straits when he is ruthlessly tortured and has his scrotum nailed to a chair, demanding his immediate departure from Haiti.  Riddled with frightening nightmares of rotting corpses and sinister snakes, Dennis’ short-lived return to America where friends are possessed and his concern for Marielle increased, leads him back to the black magic plagued isle.  Upon arrival, Peytraud’s power and influence knows no bounds as people are slaughtered with the resilient doctor learning firsthand the grave danger he is in.

    Although hesitantly considered a horror film, Craven’s cult classic supplies plenty of unsettling nightmare imagery where a serpent emerges from a decomposing body to attack Dennis while, dark forces cause a scorpion to crawl from the mouth of a living man.  In addition, the savage brutality of the Tonton Macoute beheading innocent lives is equally grizzly and not far removed from reality.  Akin to a fever dream of terror that never wanes, The Serpent and the Rainbow is one of Craven’s most progressively daring features that affects viewers on a purely visceral level of fear.  Earning respectable returns at the box-office, The Serpent and the Rainbow is the rare voodoo related feature that lives up to its intent as a supernatural spectacle.

    Scream Factory presents The Serpent and the Rainbow with a newly struck 1080p transfer from the inter-positive film element, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Although appearing occasionally soft in the dilapidated dwellings of the Haitian villages, greenery is noticeably lush and striking throughout.  Skin tones read moderately well and natural with several instances falling on the redder side.  Meanwhile, detail is strong with perspiration glistening on faces and the intricacies of rotting flesh found on the undead looking quiet noticeable.  Psychedelic colors and blood pop nicely while, black levels are inky and clear.  Filmic and hosting very scant scratches, The Serpent and the Rainbow makes a respectable high-definition debut.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is audible and effective while, the bustling sounds of the Haitian streets are lively and appropriately balanced.  Meanwhile, Brad Fiedel’s (Fright Night, Terminator 2: Judgement Day) score makes impressive statements against the shrieking screams of terror.  Welcomed into Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition series, special features include, an Audio Commentary with Actor Bill Pullman, moderated by Rob Galluzzo.  Although Pullman is only present for less than an hour due to filming commitments, Galluzzo does a remarkable job keeping the conversation interesting with Pullman injecting plenty of anecdotes about the filming experience.  In addition, The Making of The Serpent and the Rainbow (23:57) features new (audio) interviews from Pullman while, Author Wade Davis, Director of Photography John Lindley and Special Makeup Effects Artists Lance Anderson and David Anderson appear on-camera.  Yet another typically informative retrospective that fans will appreciate although, the scholarly insight from the late Craven is sadly lacking.  Furthermore, the Theatrical Trailer (1:23), TV Spot (0:31), a Photo Gallery (60 in total) and a Reversible Cover Art featuring the original 1-sheet artwork conclude the supplemental package.

    In what appears to be their last Craven related release and classily dedicated to his memory, Scream Factory welcomes The Serpent and the Rainbow’s unsettling levels of voodoo terror and nightmarish imagery into their respected line of Collector’s Editions.  Casting a superior looking curse with its Blu-ray debut, special features, although understandably lighter than past Craven efforts, deliver worthwhile information that fans of this cult classic will surely appreciate.  Hosting another stellar art design by Joel Robinson (Nightbreed, The Vincent Price Collections), The Serpent and the Rainbow will possess you with its frightening twists and turns.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Scream Factory, The Serpent and the Rainbow can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Fright Night (1985) 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

    Fright Night (1985)

    Director: Tom Holland

    Starring: William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall, Chris Sarandon, Amanda Bearse & Stephen Geoffreys

    Released by: Twilight Time

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Marking the directorial debut of Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Thinner), Fright Night focuses on suburban boy next door, Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), whose convinced his mysterious new neighbors are vampires.  When his attempts for help fall on deaf ears, Charley seeks out Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), a washed-up actor best known as an infamous vampire killer, to restore peace to his quiet neighborhood.  Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride), Amanda Bearse (Married with Children), Stephen Geoffreys (976-Evil) and Jonathan Stark (House II: The Second Story) co-star.

    Released at the height of the slasher movie boom, Fright Night pays tribute to the gothic tales of bloodsuckers, set in the modern suburban landscape of the 1980s.  William Ragsdale (Mannequin: On the Move) perfectly emulates the prototypical boy next door, Charley Brewster, struggling with trigonometry and increasingly horny.  Head over heels in love with his attractive girlfriend Amy (Bearse) and a horror movie aficionado, Charley becomes suspicious of his new neighbor, the suave Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon).  Only seen at night and caught ushering a coffin into his basement with his assistant and suggested male lover, Charley is certain vampires have moved into his neighborhood.  Sarandon with his handsome good looks and charming smile captures the sexual essence of screen vampires before him while, reinventing the mythic figure for a new decade.  The lovely Amanda Bearse shines as Charley’s better half who falls under Jerry’s hypnotizing will leading to an erotically charged dance sequence at a quintessentially 80s discotheque.  Unsurprisingly, the late Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes) hams it up as horror host Peter Vincent who helps Charley in his mission after much convincing.  As an established cult icon, McDowall fits into the role like a glove with his performance ranking among one of his best.  Meanwhile, Stephen Geoffreys, playing Charley’s odd best friend “Evil” Ed, steals the show with his high-cracking voice and maniacal laughter.  Uncomfortable in his own skin and potentially shunning his own homosexuality, Ed is seduced by Jerry and comforted by the connection to another likeminded soul.  The effective emotions and suggested subtext separates Fright Night from being just any other ordinary vampire film.

    With well-paced suspense and memorable humor (once again, courtesy of Geoffreys), Fright Night has all the ingredients to make a modern day classic.  Matched with spectacular visual effects, most notably a wolf to human transformation on par with Rick Baker’s work on An American Werewolf in London, from Richard Edlund (Ghostbusters, Big Trouble in Little China) and Randall Cook (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Fright Night leaves the viewer equally tickled and frightened the way all great horror films should.  A personal favorite, Tom Holland’s debut picture is righteously entertaining and one that stands proudly, along with The Lost Boys and Near Dark, as one of the finest vampire films to emerge from the 1980s.

    Twilight Time welcomes Fright Night back onto Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  With only a slight and personally pleasing contrast boost, the transfer is identical to its already impressive 2011 counterpart.  Colors are rich and plentiful with detail bursting in facial features and the actors’ costumes.  Retaining its natural filmic grain, Fright Night absolutely stuns on Blu-ray!  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Fright Night’s sound levels remain consistent with its previous release, delighting with crisp dialogue and 80s pop music adding an intended boost while, Composer Brad Fiedel’s (The Terminator) score sets the atmosphere with utmost clarity.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix is also included.  While, its previous release was virtually bare bones, Twilight Time’s 30th Anniversary Edition comes bursting with content!  Special features included are an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Tom Holland, Actors Chris Sarandon & Jonathan Stark, moderated by Filmmaker Tim Sullivan plus, an additional commentary with Writer/Director Tom Holland, Actors William Ragsdale & Stephen Geoffreys and FX Artist Randall Cook, moderated by Journalist Jeremy Smith and Tim Sullivan.  In addition, the 1st Ever Fright Night Reunion Panel at Fear Fest 2 (2008) with Tom Holland, Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Stephen Geoffreys, Amanda Bearse, Jonathan Stark and moderated by Rob Galluzzo (54:22).  Broken into three parts, Shock Til You Drop Presents Choice Cuts with Tom Holland and Ryan Turek has Holland interviewed at his house about his various credits including Psycho II, The Beast Within, Child’s Play and of course, Fright Night (27:38).  Furthermore, a Vintage EPK with Behind the Scene Raw Footage (1:34:52), a Stills and Memorabilia Gallery from the Tom Holland Archives (73 in total), Original Theatrical Trailer “G” Rating (1:23), Original Theatrical Trailer “R” Rating (1:26), an Isolated Score Track and a 6-page booklet carrying over Julie Kirgo’s essay from the original 2011 release round out this impressive supplemental package.

    Long cherished by horror enthusiasts, Fright Night never overstays its welcome with an entertaining cast and its effortless ability to inject humor and instill terror simultaneously.  Joined by a slightly belated and underrated sequel in 1989 as well as a mediocre remake in 2011 and adjoining sequel in 2013, Tom Holland’s debut opus gave slasher obsessed audiences a modernized tale that made vampires hip once again while, tipping its hat to its gorgeously gothic predecessors.  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Twilight Time welcomes Fright Night back onto Blu-ray with stunning technical merits and a whopping supplemental package that ranks as one of Twilight Time’s most comprehensive to date.  Simple and endlessly satisfying, few vampire films have achieved such praise with its tongue implanted so firmly in cheek but, the children of the night are all the better for it.  Welcome to Fright Night...  for real!

    RATING: 5/5

    Previously available in a limited edition of 5,000 units, Fright Night 30th Anniversary Edition is officially sold out.