Blu-ray/DVD Reviews


Currently showing posts tagged Sybil Danning

  • They're Playing with Fire (1984) Blu-ray Review

    They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

    Director: Howard Avedis

    Starring: Sybil Danning, Eric Brown, Andrew Prine & Paul Clemens

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Combining skin and thrills, They’re Playing with Fire stars Sybil Danning (Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf) as a sultry college professor who seduces a horny student (Eric Brown, Private Lessons), entangling him in a dangerous plot to obtain her in-laws wealthy inheritance.  Andrew Prine (Amityville II: The Possession) and Paul Clemens (The Beast Within) costar.

    Shrouded as a wild sex-romp in tune with most young men’s desires, They’re Playing with Fire, albeit being very tantalizing, pulls the carpet under its audience in one of the oddest genre switch ups of the decade.  Incessantly drooling over his foxy professor, Mrs. Diane Stevens, and performing odd jobs aboard her luxurious yacht, college student Jay Richard’s lusting pays off when seduced by the blonde bombshell.  Unknowingly plotting a scheme with her husband Michael (Prine) to inherit his family riches from her in-laws, a virtually harmless crack at prowling to scare off the elderly Stevens’ backfires on Jay when a masked assailant ruthlessly knocks off Michael’s mother and grandmother instead.  Trapping him in a seductive love triangle with life or death stakes, Jay’s hormonal jackpot grows grayer by the day.  Regarded as exploitation royalty, Sybil Danning makes mouths water with her fiercely flirtatious performance and sizzling nude sequences that, much to the delight of teenage boys during the video boom, are plentiful.  In a deliriously unexpected spin for viewers assuming the plot from its provocative poster art, They’re Playing with Fire morphs into an erotically-charged thriller with slasher elements that pollinate the film with bloody bursts of violence catching first time watchers off guard.  Helmed by Howard Avedis (Scorchy, Mortuary), They’re Playing with Fire, rightly earning Danning one of her finest performances in a career of countlessly sexy and sleazy roles, is a wild effort right down to its even kookier reveal of the true murderer that is as unusually different as it is libido driving.

    Newly remastered, KL Studio Classics upgrades They’re Playing with Fire with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Revealing satisfying layers of detail in facial features, skin tones are sound with Danning certainly showing off her fair share during the film’s many moments of passion.  Meanwhile, costumes, background pieces and bolder colored vehicles pop quite decently with the film’s source material arriving in tiptop shape and generally free of any unsavory scratches.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that handles character exchanges, both in intimate, hushed tones and louder barroom environments, nicely while, music cues are well orchestrated and ear-pleasing.  Special features include, Sun & Seduction with Sybil Danning (18:25) where the still mightily attractive lead reveals she landed the role based on her appearance in Playboy Magazine and her initial concerns that the script was overly convoluted.  Furthermore, Danning recalls many a fan encounters where the film played heavily into their puberty and instances of teens stealing the videotape from their fathers!  The genre titan, although finding him cute, reveals costar Eric Brown made the shoot difficult due to his unwillingness to be nude in the film.  Lastly, Trailers for They’re Playing with Fire (1:25), The Bitch (2:38) and The Stud (2:52) conclude the disc’s supplements.

    Beloved by Mr. Skin himself and most young men who experienced the film’s sumptuous offerings during its heyday, They’re Playing with Fire offers plenty of bare-breasted Sybil Danning and a chameleon-like plot that supplies an alarmingly fun touch of slasher elements for fans of the decade’s body count pictures.  A career high for the buxom B-movie queen, carnal delights never tasted this sweet or deadly before her voluptuous college professor wraps her legs around such impressionable hound dogs.  KL Studio Classics’ high-def handling of the sexy sizzler is a solid boost in quality with Danning’s newly recorded chatty sit-down a fine inclusion.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from KL Studio Classics, They’re Playing with Fire can be purchased via, and other fine retailers.

  • How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980) Blu-ray Review

    How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980)

    Director: Robert Scheerer

    Starring: Susan Saint James, Jane Curtain, Jessica Lange & Richard Benjamin

    Released by: Olive Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Starring Susan Saint James (Love at First Bite), Jane Curtain (Saturday Night Live) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), How to Beat the High Cost of Living centers on three high school girlfriends, all grown and realizing their marriages and suburban lifestyles are less than idyllic.  Down on their luck and each desperately in need of money, the trio hatch a scheme to steal a stash of prize money from their local mall resulting in a series of hilarious mishaps.  Richard Benjamin (Westworld), Dabney Coleman (WarGames), Eddie Albert (Green Acres), Cathryn Damon (Webster) and Fred Willard (Best in Show) co-star.

    Gestating for nearly a decade, Screenwriter Robert Kaufman (Nothing Personal) would finally see his project come to fruition under Samuel Z. Arkoff’s American International Pictures after being purchased by Filmways Pictures.  Having originally shown interest from all the major studios and aiming for top-tier talent including, Shirley MacLaine, Faye Dunaway and Sally Field, all of whom, although interested, refused to share the spotlight with two other leading women.  Following Kaufman’s most recent success with 1979’s Love at First Bite, American International Pictures agreed to fund the film with a cast of up and comers, lending the film its greatest assets.  Divorced and attempting to raise her children while, juggling a new boyfriend, Jane (Saint James), is nearly broke after learning she’s pregnant.  Meanwhile, Jane’s best friends are in no better shape with Elaine (Curtain in her film debut), being left by her husband for a younger woman and with no money to pay their mortgage while, Louise (Lange) suffers a devastating blow when her unprofitable antique shop is confronted with a lawsuit by her loving husband (Benjamin) to wipe away the increasing debt.  Left with little money and their undying friendship, the unlikely trio vow to get their finances back in order by cleverly stealing a giveaway prize of cash at the local mall.  Proving they can carry out the scheme just as well as any man, the women find themselves stealing items from a hardware store while, Jane’s children wait in the car and utilizing a bright yellow canoe as their getaway vehicle.  When their once solid plans begin to unravel, Elaine even subjects herself to a hilarious striptease in front of the entire mall in order to recoup the money.

    Earning a slim profit at the time of its release, How to Beat the High Cost of Living stands as a strong female driven comedy long before it was commonplace.  While its humor may, at times, feel dated, its delivery and comedic timing from the film’s lovely trio still extract the necessary laughs from its viewers.  In addition, Richard Benjamin, playing Lange’s hilariously horny veterinarian husband, is a scene stealer, providing excellent chemistry with his onscreen wife while, Jane Curtain’s Saturday Night Live co-star, Garrett Morris, makes a welcome cameo appearance in one of the film’s funnier moments.  Plus, the sultry Sybil Danning (Battle Beyond the Stars) appears as Benjamin’s head turning secretary.  Demonstrating the ever-changing economic times and a woman’s desire to be more than a housewife, How to Beat the High Cost of Living paints its characters in a realistic light while, injecting ample humor into one of the more underrated female-starring gems of the 1980s.

    Olive Films presents How to Beat the High Cost of Living with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Exhibiting bold colors in its animated opening title sequence, light instances of insignificant flakes and speckles arise throughout the transfer.  Skin tones are warm and natural with excellent detail to be appreciated in close-ups of its three leading ladies.  In addition, occasional moments of mild softness occur mostly in wide, establishing shots with black levels relaying respectable visibility and only scant instances of debris.  Filmic and generally lively looking, How to Beat the High Cost of Living checks out nicely.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is always audible and crisp in this talky-driven picture with no hiss or distortion to mention.  Arriving with a single special feature, Olive Films accompanies the film with the Theatrical Trailer (2:55).  

    Centering on a trio of friends confronted with personal dilemmas and financial woes due to inflation, How to Beat the High Cost of Living is not only genuinely comical but, eerily reminiscent of ongoing issues today.  Although, the casting of unknown talent may have been for economic reasons, it generated an unexpected formula of hilarity that would reunite Saint James and Curtin for their successful sitcom, Kate & Allie.  Marking its Blu-ray debut, Olive Films rewards fans of this 35 year-old comedy with a delightful transfer that shines in high-definition.  Cleverly crafted and carrying the torch for a future of female-driven comedies, How to Beat the High Cost of Living is a laugh-fest waiting to be rediscovered.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Olive Films, How to Beat the High Cost of Living can be purchased via, and other fine retailers.