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  • Class (1983) Blu-ray Review

    Class (1983)

    Director: Lewis John Carlino

    Starring: Rob Lowe, Jacqueline Bisset, Andrew McCarthy & Cliff Robertson

    Released by: Olive Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Shortly after arriving at his new prestigious prep-school, lonesome Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy, Mannequin) is motivated by his outgoing roommate Skip (Rob Lowe, The Grinder) to explore uncharted dating zones.  Catching the attention of a sexy and sophisticated woman, Jonathan’s affair turns out to be more than he imagined after learning it’s with Skip’s mother.  Jacqueline Bisset (Bullitt), John Cusack (Say Anything…), Alan Ruck (Ferris Buller’s Day Off) and Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man) co-star.

    Keeping in tradition with other teenage hormonal features of its era, Class balances the scandalous love affair between a high school senior and his roommates mother with obvious humor and surprisingly well-handled, if not unexpected, dramatics.  After being encouraged by best friend Skip (Lowe) to hitch a ride to Chicago for a steamy one-night stand, Jonathan (McCarthy) finds himself captivated by the mature and breathtaking Ellen (Bisset) leading to a sexual rendezvous in an elevator before relocating to a hotel room.  Riding high on his conquest, Jonathan and Ellen’s affair develops over the weeks with the prep-schooler falling madly in love with his new flame.  Shortly after Jonathan’s true identity is revealed, their blossoming relationship is unsurprisingly damaged, sending the heartbroken teen on a downward spiral of depression.  In order to lift his best friend’s spirits, Skip invites Jonathan over to his house for the holidays realizing his recent bombshell is in fact Skip’s own mother.  Awkward encounters and mounting lies steer Class into a more dramatic territory that separates itself from similar pictures without ever sacrificing quality.  Furthermore, fellow brat packers Lowe and McCarthy gel excellently together, making practical jokes and playfully insulting one another to create one of the great bromances of the decade.  As the damaging news of his mother’s affair hits Skip in the final act while, a school investigation to sniff out cheaters potentially threatens Jonathan’s livelihood, the two best friends prove after beating the bejesus out of one another that bros still apparently come before hoes, including your own alcoholic mother.  While its setup would normally lend itself to countless skintastic scenarios, Class is relatively tame with the major exception being Virginia Madsen (Dune), in her first role, having her blouse torn off in a most comical sequence.  Accompanied by a romantically elegant score by Elmer Bernstein (Ghostbusters), Class may not be the most sexually exploitative teen flick of the 80s but, still manages to be particularly funny and a pinch more sophisticated than expected.

    Olive Films presents Class with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Appearing filmic and free of any dirt or other aging artifacts, Class relays accurate skin readings while, the film’s color scheme of browns and other earth tones satisfy with Skip’s red hot sports car popping most impressively.  In addition, black levels spotted in shadowy rooms and jet-black prep school coats are inky and defined.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is prominently prioritized with no difficulties in audibility present.  Cracks and pops are nonexistent with Bernstein’s score and the film’s few soundtrack bits also relayed appropriately.  Typically scant, the sole special feature is the film’s Trailer (2:30).

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Olive Films, Class can be purchased via OliveFilms.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • My Science Project (1985) Blu-ray Review

    My Science Project (1985)

    Director: Jonathan R. Betuel

    Starring: John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens & Dennis Hopper

    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Fearing ineligibility to graduate from high school, My Science Project centers on grease monkey Michael Harlan (John Stockwell, Radioactive Dreams) as he scours for a science project to avoid flunking.  Searching a military junkyard, Michael uncovers an extraterrestrial device that unleashes a dimensional time warp of past, present and future danger upon Michael’s sleepy town.  Faced against unfathomable power, Michael and his friends must devise a way to close the vortex before their world is permanently jeopardized.  Daniella von Zerneck (La Bamba), Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit) and Dennis Hopper (Apocalypse Now) co-star.

    Released in the wake of Robert Zemeckis’ game-changing Delorean starring adventure, My Science Project is the other time-traveling effort of 1985.  Raiding a military junk pile proves fruitful for teenage mechanic Michael Harlan (Stockwell) whose biggest dilemmas are failing to graduate and the embarrassment of other students knowing his wheels broke down.  Desperate to pass anything off that remotely looks scientific for a project, Michael’s encounter with a weirdly illuminated device becomes even odder after electrically frying countless appliances within its reach.  Stumped at its purpose, Michael and his Brooklyn-born buddy Vince Latello (Stockwell) find themselves personally affected after the contraption speeds up time, making the duo miss their final exam.  With nowhere to turn, Michael leans on his hilariously hippie-like science teacher, referred to simply as Bob (Hopper), for help as the globe-shaped instrument unexpectedly reveals its full power.  Opening a dangerous vortex where the past and future can materialize, Michael, along with his bookish love interest Ellie Sawyer (Zerneck), Vince and class nerd Sherman (Raphael Sbarge, Risky Business) must cut the power supply to save humanity.

    Tightly budgeted yet, supplying admirable visual effects for its size, My Science Project is a fun teenage adventure with far less emphasis on its time traveling element than proposed.  Fisher Stevens steals the thunder from the headlining Stockwell with his quotable lines while, Easy Rider’s Dennis Hopper hams up his free love mantra for the MTV generation.  While the film’s MacGuffin creates countless fireworks for the screen, its true harm isn’t fully exposed until the third act when the Viet Cong, post-apocalyptic mutants and dinosaurs go head to head with Michael and his machine gun carrying cohorts.  Although introducing added eye-candy, the historical antagonists’ appearances take place a tad too late and leave a slightly underwhelming effect.  Making groovy pop culture nods with high school hooligans rocking stormtrooper helmets and boob tube cameos from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Davy Crockett, My Science Project is a moderately radical time where teenage heroes take on the whirlwind of scientific insanity.

    Mill Creek Entertainment presents My Science Project with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  Appearing softer during early 1957 set sequences and visual effects moments before improving slightly, skin tones are average-looking with moderate levels of dirt and debris on hand.  Meanwhile, black levels fall on the grainier side with visibility not impossible yet, largely unimpressive.  Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, dialogue is audible while, its mono presentation underwhelms machine gun fire and soundtrack selections including Scandal’s “The Warrior”, making otherwise more impactful moments sound far too flat for taste.  Expectedly, no special features have been included.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available now from Mill Creek Entertainment, My Science Project can be purchased via MillCreekDirect.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Sure Thing (1985) 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

    The Sure Thing (1985)

    Director: Rob Reiner

    Starring: John Cusack, Daphne Zuniga, Anthony Edwards & Viveca Lindfors

    Released by: Shout! Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    In this romantic road trip romp, The Sure Thing stars John Cusack (Say Anything...) as college freshmen Walter “Gib” Gibson.  When Gib is set up with a blonde bombshell across the country, he’s determined to make this sure thing a reality.  Joined by stuck up classmate Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga, Spaceballs) via the campus ride-share program, the two opposites encounter constant obstacles as they both head to Los Angeles, forming an unexpected bond along the way.  Anthony Edwards (Revenge of the Nerds), Viveca Lindfors (Creepshow), Tim Robbins (Mystic River) and Nicollette Sheridan (Spy Hard) in her film debut, co-star.

    From Director Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap), The Sure Thing is a slice of teenage romance and 80s angst, wonderfully realized by stars John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga.  Bored and underwhelmed with his luck with women at college, Walter “Gib” Gibson (Cusack) strikes gold when high school buddy Lance (Edwards) invites him to Los Angeles to meet a dream girl (Nicollete Sheridan) he’s guaranteed to strike a home run with.  Determined to head west but, short on cash, Gib hitches a ride via the campus ride program, sharing the backseat with uptight classmate Alison Bradbury (Zuniga).  Meanwhile, Tim Robbins (Howard the Duck) and Lisa Jane Persky (Peggy Sue Got Married) appear as their hilarious, show tune singing chauffeurs who eventually kick the duo to the curb following their constant arguing.  Constantly butting heads, Gib and Alison have no choice but to stick together as they hitchhike their way to Los Angeles, sharing hilarious adventures along the way.  Combatting unpleasant weather, misplacing their funds and Gib playing mad to rescue Alison from a seedy driver, the two begin to forge an unspoken attraction amidst their different personalities.  As their destination grows closer, Gib must decide whether his sure thing is worth it over his newly found feelings for Alison.

    In his first starring role, John Cusack plays typical college freshmen Walter Gibson with girls and beer taking priority over schoolwork.  Breathing life into the otherwise standard teenage role, Cusack brings a wit and humor to his character that would solidify his charm in roles to come.  In addition, Daphne Zuniga, as the brainy, no nonsense Alison Bradbury, creates wonderful chemistry with her co-star that makes viewers quickly dismiss her cocky personality before, falling in love with her much like Gib does.  With a sunny climate and bitchin‘ soundtrack from top talent including, Huey Lewis & The News, The Cars and Quiet Riot, The Sure Thing stands as a genuine 80s offering of heart and hilarity coming together.

    Shout! Factory presents The Sure Thing with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  With insignificant flakes over its opening title sequence, The Sure Thing projects natural skin tones, crisp colors and excellent detail in close-ups of key talent.  Landscapes pop most noticeably as Gib and Alison make their way west with lush greenery looking most lively.  Occasional softness is seen but, hardly a cause for alarm as the transfer retains natural grain and a generally clean picture, giving this 80s effort a solid bump on high-definition.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, The Sure Thing pushes its dialogue to the forefront with clear audio levels and soundtrack selections making an even louder appearance.  With no distortion or other audio issues prevalent, The Sure Thing sounds swell.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono mix has been included for your listening pleasure.  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Shout! Factory graciously ports over all special features from MGM’s previous DVD release including, an Audio Commentary with Director Rob Reiner, several making of featurettes: Road to The Sure Thing (26:16), Casting The Sure Thing (7:18), Reading The Sure Thing (8:48) and Dressing The Sure Thing (8:48) and a Theatrical Trailer (2:56).  While, a newly produced interview with Reiner, Cusack or Zuniga would have been most appreciated, retaining the previous in-depth supplements is most welcome.

    Although, not an official Brat Packer, John Cusack held his own in the 1980s with notable efforts including, Better off Dead, Hot Pursuit and most famously, 1989’s Say Anything....  Comical and sweet, The Sure Thing stands as one of Cusack’s shining moments of the decade with a simple story of unexpected love, complimented by leading lady Daphne Zuniga’s lovely performance.  Honoring its 30th anniversary, Shout! Factory presents this comedy classic in wonderful fashion, allowing viewers to soak up the high-definition rays of this delightful road trip romance.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available March 24th from Shout! Factory, The Sure Thing can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Ping Pong Summer (2014) Blu-ray Review

    Ping Pong Summer (2014)

    Director: Michael Tully

    Starring: Marcello Conte, Myles Massey, Lea Thompson, John Hannah & Susan Sarandon

    Released by: Millennium Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    A coming of age tale from a time where a pack of brats ruled the silver screen and carelessly whispering made for hit songs.  Hailed by GQ as “The Karate Kid but with hip-hop and ping pong”, Ping Pong Summer welcomes viewers back to the universally shy and awkward age of 13 when you feel uncool to all, including yourself.  Starring new blood and seasoned vets, Ping Pong Summer will teach you all about emerging from your shell and being funky fresh.

    Taking place in 1985, Ping Pong Summer centers on 13-year-old Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte) as he heads to Ocean City, Maryland for his family’s annual summer getaway.  Obsessed with hip-hop and ping pong, Rad strikes up a friendship with Teddy (Myles Massey), develops his first crush and becomes the target of spoiled bullies.  When Rad challenges his abuser to an intense ping pong match, he finds a mentor in his outcast neighbor, Randi Jammer (Susan Sarandon), who teaches him the table tennis ropes.  Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), John Hannah (The Mummy), Amy Sedaris (Elf), Robert Longstreet (Pineapple Express) and Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) co-star.

    MOVIE:

    A sucker for coming of age tales in the vein of Stand by Me or more recently The Way Way Back, Ping Pong Summer seemed like another hopeful indie experiment with the 1980s time period only heightening my anticipation.  Unfortunately, this teenage outing of a white kid obsessed with hip-hop is rather bland and reeks of disingenuousness.  While, the plot describes protagonist Rad as “obsessed” with hip-hop and ping pong, the viewer never truly feels his passion other than his loafing around of a boom box and a paddle.  Furthermore, when local racist bullies Lyle (Joseph McCaughtry) and Dale (Andy Riddle) make torturing Rad and friend Teddy a routine, Rad’s determination to beat Lyle in a ping pong match is nothing more than evening the score with no lesson truly learned.  In addition, Lyle and Dale’s torment of the two socially awkward friends are so over the top and absurd that it removes the viewer from the moment.  Upon arriving at Ocean City, Maryland, Rad takes little time attracting the attention of teen bombshell Stacy Summers (Emmi Shockley).  Stacy is as shallow as they come with a peculiar addiction to mixing soda and pixie sticks, convincing Rad she suffers from cocaine abuse.  Oddly enough, Stacy’s “habit” is not far removed from Jessie Spano’s equally ridiculous caffeine pill kick on Saved by the Bell.  Susan Sarandon’s (The Lovely Bones) turn as the town outcast and Miyagi to Rad’s Daniel is a missed opportunity as her appearance is far too brief and uneventful.  Ping Pong Summer is clearly a product of bygone teen films that had their heart and story intact, something this indie effort sorely lacks.

    That said, Ping Pong Summer does do a remarkable job in capturing the time and setting of 80s seaside resorts with endless arcades packed with skee-ball, Pac-Man and slushies.  Keep your eyes peeled for the intentional placement of a DeLorean, an obvious reference to co-star Lea Thompson’s starring turn in the classic Back to the Future franchise.  In addition, the film takes full advantage of its era by including choice cuts from The Fat Boys, New Edition, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band and Mr. Mister.  While, visually Ping Pong Summer hits all the right nostalgic notes, the film lacks the heart and foundation that made its inspirations memorable.  Ultimately, Ping Pong Summer feels like a hipster’s retrospective response to 80s coming of age films with lesser results.

    RATING: 2.5/5

    VIDEO:

    Ping Pong Summer is presented with a 1080p widescreen transfer sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Shot on film, Ping Pong Summer intentionally carries a light softness to its picture echoing the look of traditional 80s fare.  A healthy level of grain is intact with warm skin tones relayed naturally while, the bright colors of Rad’s parachute pants and Stacy’s bodaciously colorful attire pop well.  Nostalgically comforting, this transfer works its magic nicely.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, Ping Pong Summer is an audible yet contained presentation.  Dialogue is clear and free of any anomalies with background noise of retro arcade cabinets serving as nice undercurrent to relevant scenes.  The 80s fueled soundtrack issues a nice bump to the mix but is never overwhelmingly loud.  In addition, a Stereo 2.0 mix is also included.  Overall, a suitable mix for a relatively dialogue friendly teen dramedy.

    RATING: 4/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Audio Commentary with Director Michael Tully and Producer George Rush

    - Lazer Beach: The Making of Ping Pong Summer: This brief and underwhelming 15-minute behind the scenes look at the film interviews key players such as Director Michael Tully, the cast as well as production assistants and gaffers.

    - Previews: Includes Ping Pong Summer, Rob the Mob, Stuck in Love, Parts Per Billion and Charlie Countryman.

    RATING: 2.5/5

    OVERALL:

    Attempting to follow in the tradition of The Karate Kid and other 80s teen flicks, Ping Pong Summer conveys its retro environment perfectly but misfires with a story devoid of  real heart.  Characters are either vastly underwritten or too over the top, straddling the line of near mockery instead of embracing with sincerity.  Millennium Entertainment has provided an exceptional video and audio treatment for the film along with a scant assortment of special features.  Admittedly hopeful, Ping Pong Summer means well but unfortunately is far from funky fresh.

    RATING: 3/5

  • Toad Road (2012) DVD Review


    Toad Road (2012)
    Director: Jason Banker
    Starring: James Davidson, Sara Anne Jones, Jim Driscoll, Scott Rader & Jamie Siebold
    Released by: Artsploitation Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Cementing their status as one of the leading forces of unique and independent cinema, Artsploitation Films teams up with Elijah Wood’s SpectreVision to invite viewers down a hallucinatory path.  Toad Road is Artsploitation Films’ first American acquisition, shot on a shoestring budget that feels akin to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project in its execution.  Honest and disturbing, Toad Road sends chills down your spine in unexpected ways that make you wish for the terror to end.  The barriers of reality and nightmares become blurred as the characters struggle to navigate in this mixture of urban myth lore and documentary.  In order to find out what truly lies on Toad Road, let’s trip out…


    This review was originally published through Euro Cult AV.  To view it in its entirety, click this link:

    http://eurocultav.com/Reviews/Toad_Road__Artsploitation_/toad_road__artsploitation_.html

  • TV Terrors: The Initiation of Sarah (1978) / Are You in the House Alone?! (1978) DVD Review



    The Initiation of Sarah (1978) / Are You in the House Alone?! (1978)
    Director(s): Robert Day / Walter Grauman
    Starring: Kay Lenz, Morgan Brittany & Morgan Fairchild / Kathleen Beller, Blythe Danner & Dennis Quaid
    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Embarking on uncharted territory, Scream Factory has jumped into your living room with a double dose of television frights from the 1970s.  Two flicks, both from 1978, center on a college freshmen with psychic powers while the other focuses on a high schooler who becomes the target of a stalker, make up this collection from a time when Dallas and Taxi ruled the airwaves.  In today’s reality TV obsessed culture, how do these bygone made-for-television efforts holds up?  Grab your microwavable dinner, turn out the lights and let’s find out…

    The Initiation of Sarah stars Kay Lenz (House) as Sarah Goodwin, a shy college freshman who joins a sorority as a way to fit in.  Unfortunately, the sorority’s housemother played by Shelley Winters, is a witch who knows Sarah has the gift of psychic abilities.  The twisted old woman encourages Sarah to use her powers for revenge.  The supporting cast includes Morgan Brittany (Dallas) and an exceptionally bitchy Morgan Fairchild (The Seduction).  Next up, Are You in the House Alone?! finds a beautiful high school student (Kathleen Beller of The Sword and the Sorcerer) the target of a sadistic stalker who has been leaving obscene messages in her locker and watching her every move.  The stalker is only getting closer and time is running out!  An all-star cast comprised of a young Dennis Quaid (The Rookie), Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents), Tony Bill (Shampoo) and Scott Colomby (Porky’s) all make appearances.

    This review was originally published through Euro Cult AV.  To view it in its entirety, click this link:

    http://eurocultav.com/Reviews/TV_Terrors__Initiation_of_Sara/tv_terrors__initiation_of_sara.html

  • Curse of the Blue Lights (1988) DVD Review

    Curse of the Blue Lights (1988)

    Director: John Henry Johnson
    Starring: Brent Ritter, Bettina Julius, Kent E. Fritzell & Willard Hall
    Released by: Code Red DVD

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Code Red DVD is back at it again with another effort this time from 1988 that not only has ghouls, blood and making out but believe it or not… blue lights!  The 90th spine numbered release from the independent distributor marks the first and only official release of the film on DVD to date.  In addition, the film comes with a generous offering of special features ranging from an audio commentary to behind the scenes still galleries.  25 years have passed since the release of Curse of the Blue Lights, but the question remains: does the film have the chops to warrant the title of “cult classic” as noted on the back cover or is this film just an empty promise?  Let’s look up at the night sky and see just exactly what Curse of the Blue Lights has to offer…

    Curse of the Blue Lights is an ambitious flick about a group of teenagers who head out to the local make-out spot (cleverly named “Make-Out Hill”, of course) when they notice two blue lights in the sky.  After a dimwitted decision to investigate the matter, the teens discover a group of ghastly ghouls who are hellbent on resurrecting an Ancient demon God.  Unfortunately, the teens get caught up in the wrath of these ghouls who will stop at nothing to complete their mission even if it means turning people into puddles of melted corpse!

    MOVIE:
    Admittedly, when Code Red DVD first announced Curse of the Blue Lights in November 2012, I was pretty excited for the release.  The synopsis sounded right up my alley and the cover art just sucked me in as a cult release I didn’t want to miss.  As mentioned before, the film is an incredibly ambitious effort especially given the limited budget and experience of all those involved in the making.  That said, the film is a pleasantly entertaining one that the makers should be proud of especially for the time period it was made in.  The greatest attributes of this film come entirely from the wonderful make-up designs for the ghouls and the well orchestrated use of special effects.  There were moments in the film when the question of “how’d they do that?” kept coming up.  For instance, there’s a brief moment when two teens are about to enter the lair of the ghouls via mirror but as they enter the mirror morphs into water.  A great blending of practical effects and old Hollywood magic made moments like this a feast for the eyes.  The make-up designs of the ghouls are remarkably well done and come across on screen as nothing short of a real Hollywood production.  Honestly, the design work very much reminded me of Michael Jackson’s Thriller which is arguably the greatest music video ever made (as well as this reviewer’s personal favorite).  With every up there are sure to be a few downs, which comes in the form of the teenage cast.  Clearly, these kids were all locals who were trying to do their best but most of the time come off as though they were just reading straight from the script.  The inexperience of the actors, while not god awful, was charming enough to watch them navigate through the movie with little to no range.  Fortunately, a few chuckles were had at how unfazed the actors would seem after watching a local witch tear at her own face.  Overall, the interactions between the teens and the ghouls pursuing them invoked a slight Scooby-Doo vibe which left me with a wide grin on my face.  Curse of the Blue Lights is an accomplishment in low-budget filmmaking that really should be discussed more so than it is.  The plot, while simple enough, tends to over-explain and might bore some but certainly won’t derail the viewing of the film.  The lack of experience from the teen actors is harmless enough and calls for a few good laughs. A personal favorite moment is after encountering the ghouls for the first time, one male actor still insists he has to walk home alone or else his father will kick the shit out of him.  Nothing like fearing your own father over demonic ghouls.  The make-up designs and effects work are the true heroes of this film which really should be seen to be appreciated.  Overall, Curse of the Blue Lights sucked me in and managed to deliver, the film definitely earns the definition of a cult classic!
    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:
    The film is presented full frame (1.78.1) from a new HiDef Master created from 16MM film elements.  Aside from a small case of scratches throughout the print, this film looks remarkably clean which is a testament to how well-preserved the film elements had to have been.  Grain is very much intact and those small cases of scratches add a wonderful air of grindhouse freshness to the viewing.  Darker lit scenes are quite visible so no need to squint your eyes to see what’s going on.  I can’t imagine the film looking any better than this.
    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:
    The audio is presented in English Mono and sounds surprisingly clean which again is a testament to the handle of the elements.  Everything comes out sounding tip-top.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Audio Commentary with Director John Henry Johnson and Actor Brent Ritter: Johnson and Ritter, who played “Loath,” deliver a very lively and informative commentary in which they rarely take a breath.  The collaborators mention the overseas title for the film being simply Blue Lights as well as how the film was predominately filmed in a plumbing supply building.  Johnson takes time to discuss how the basis of the film was inspired by a teenage hot spot in his youth where people claimed they would see blue lights seen near the river.  Spooky!  In addition, Ritter comments how uncomfortable the contact lenses were to wear during the shoot.  This commentary is a terrific inclusion to the disc and offers tons of background information.

    - Blue Lights Images Part 1: 70 behind the scenes photos with captions by Director John Henry Johnson.

    - Blue Lights Images Part 2: Another 54 behind the scenes photos with captions again by Johnson.

    - Code Red Trailers: A few sneak peeks at available and upcoming titles such as Just Before Dawn, The Police Connection, Death Machines and The Visitor

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:
    Curse of the Blue Lights is a fun flick that had shades of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Scooby-Doo and a touch of fairy tale-ism while maintaining to be its own beast.  The simply story can tend to over-explain itself leaving little for the audience to interpret while the young cast comes off as inexperienced but charming.  The flick shines thanks to the impressive make-up designs and special effects which manage to dazzle the eyes as well as pack the red stuff.  Code Red DVD’s special features are a delight to have and really showcase the labor of love this film was for its makers.  Curse of the Blue Lights was an ambitious effort but one that was well worth it if 25 years later, we’re still here discussing it.  Check out the film or the dead shall inherit the Earth!
    RATING: 4/5

  • Tomboy (1985) Blu-ray Review

    Tomboy (1985)

    Director: Herb Freed
    Starring: Betsy Russell, Jerry Dinome, Kristi Somers, Richard Erdman & Philip Sterling
    Released by: Scorpion Releasing

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Scorpion Releasing has always been a label with a devotion to diversity.  In recent years, they’ve struck major popularity with fans thanks to their Katarina’s Nightmare Theater line where spirited host Katarina Leigh Waters has been viewers’ guide to such horror gems as The House on Sorority Row, Humongous, Final Exam and more.  Sticking with Waters as host, Scorpion Releasing has been spreading their wings to different flicks that also have a cult appeal such as Second Time Lucky, Ator: The Fighting Eagle, Rentadick plus many more.  While the greater majority of Scorpion’s output has been DVD only, the Blu-ray future for the label looks bright and one of their most recent efforts is definitely in need of an inspection.  Grab your tools and style your best 80s perm because we’re about to get greased up with 1985’s Tomboy

    Tomboy stars Betsy Russell (Private School, Saw) as a young tomboy named Tommy (of course) who’s handy under the hood of a car and prefers to play basketball and ride motorcycles than style her hair.  While working as a mechanic at a local garage, a client and young racing entrepreneur, Junior Leeds (the late Eric Douglas, son of Kirk and brother of Michael) comes into the shop with race car driver Randy Starr (Gerard Christopher of “The Adventures of Superboy” fame).  Before you know it, sparks fly between Tommy and Randy but will a competitive racing competition between the two foil this relationship before it can get into second gear?

    MOVIE:
    Tomboy is definitely an oddbird as far as 80s flicks go.  One of the most common complaints I read about this film is that there’s really no plot.  I’d argue that there is a plot, albeit a very paper thin one but it’s definitely there.  The enjoyment factor of this film relies almost entirely on the performances from the young actors and thankfully they manage to deliver.  I couldn’t help but crack up at most of the exchanges these characters would have with one another and the settings and situations they would find themselves in.  Tomboy is certainly not going to be written in history books about how revolutionary it was but riddle me this, how many films do you know have a boxing match scene that turns into a sex scene?  I’ll give you some time… I’ve got plenty.  Moving forward, while Russell is as gorgeous as ever in this film she definitely plays the straight role while the performances of Eric Douglas, who is just so great at being a hilarious 80s scumbag and her best friend played by Kristi Somers practically steal every scene they appear in.  Somers has an unforgettable choreographed dance number that had me rolling on the floor followed up by a comical shower scene that almost makes you question at this point who the lead in the film is supposed to be.  Another memorable moment has Russell and Somers insulting two grease balls in a bar before a chase scene ensues.  As if there was any doubt, our tomboy of this film knows how to handle a motorcycle.  The romance between Russell and Christopher is meant to be the thread that ties the film together but it’s the humorous exchanges between the cast and the over the top parties at Douglas’ mansion that make this film the enjoyable treat it is.  If you have a weakness for 1980s teen flicks then Tomboy easily earns a spot on your shelf.  I had a hoot with this film and now I don’t think I can eat doughnuts again without giggling just a little.
    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:
    Tomboy is presented in a brand new (1.78:1) HD anamorphic master from the original camera negatives.  The film looks beautiful with grain structure looking natural and clear.  I noticed just a few instances of minor dirt and debris over the Crown International Pictures logo screen and during the final race scene.  These instances were so minor that if you blinked, you would miss them.  Beyond that, this transfer is near perfect and quite possibly the best presentation a film like Tomboy could ever receive.  Well done!
    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:
    While the video presentation was a gorgeous sight, the audio is slightly more problematic.  The film is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio which actually sounds really nice.  The music soundtrack comes across loud and clear while the intensity of roaring engines definitely come across great.  The audio during dialogue is clear for the most part but I just couldn’t help notice that having my TV too loud resulted in a sharpness anytime people would talk.  There was also the trouble of muffling during dialogue scenes which probably just added fire to the flame of the sharpness I mentioned.  The audio is in no way a terrible presentation, far from it in fact.  It just became a slight bother to constantly adjust the volume to ensure you were picking up each line of dialogue.  Overall, this is a serviceable audio presentation for such a low-budget flick.
    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:
    Scorpion Releasing delivers a nice handful of special features.  In addition, the reverse side of the Blu-ray sleeve has a rare photo gallery for the film.

    - Kat’s Meow: Katarina Leigh Waters is your host in this optional feature as she introduces you to the presentation of the film in a pit crew costume.  I’ve always found Waters to be a charming presence to Scorpion’s titles because she manages to not only be a pretty face but gives the viewer very useful information about the film and maybe a quick laugh or two.  I would have completely forgotten that Herb Freed directed the 1981 slasher Graduation Day before taking on Tomboy.  You learn something new everyday.  Waters also sticks around after the credits to close off her Kat’s Meow segment.

    - On Camera Interview with Star Betsy Russell: This candid interview is more like a career retrospective on Star Betsy Russell who discusses her early beginnings in commercials before moving onto films like Private School, Tomboy, Avenging Angel, Out of Control and Delta Heat.  Russell also discusses humorous moments on filming locations as well as working with veteran actors and her newfound success with the Saw franchise.  The interview is very informative and laid back which adds a nice atmosphere.

    - Theatrical Trailer

    - TV Spot

    - Scorpion Releasing Trailers: A nice selection of trailers for Deathship (available now on DVD and Blu-ray), Horror on Snape Island, Grizzly, The Pom Pom Girls, Day of the Animals and The House on Sorority Row.

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:
    Tomboy is a fun slice of 1980s teen-cheese flicks that bolsters a wonderful young cast, over the top party scenes that only that decade could provide and a catchy theme song that you’ll have stuck in your head.  Tomboy isn’t groundbreaking by any means but a hilarious dance scene, plenty of skin from various ladies in the film including a quick appearance from cult icon Michelle Bauer and race car driving make this flick fun for the collection.  While Scorpion Releasing’s audio presentation isn’t perfect, the video quality is pretty remarkable and the special features are nicely done.  It’s a joy to see an independent label like Scorpion Releasing embrace Blu-ray as much as they are because we are in for a bunch of treats in the near future that include Girly, The Unseen, The Pom Pom Girls, The Monster Club and much more all in glorious HD!  For fans that are not Blu-ray equipped yet, Tomboy is also available in a DVD only edition.
    RATING: 4/5