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  • Haunted Honeymoon (1986) Blu-ray Review

    Haunted Honeymoon (1986)

    Director: Gene Wilder

    Starring: Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner, Dom DeLuise, Jonathan Pryce & Paul L. Smith

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Heading into their wedding weekend, Haunted Honeymoon finds Larry Abbot (Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) and his fiancé Vickie Pearle (Gilda Radner, Saturday Night Live) visiting the gothic mansion of his great Aunt Kate (Dom DeLuise, Silent Movie).  Unbeknownst to Larry, his loved ones are secretly conducting a psychological procedure to help the talented actor overcome his irrational phobias and frantic nerves by scaring him to death.  When creepy happenings occur and a potential werewolf on the loose, Larry begins suspecting someone in his family wants him gone for good.  Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), Peter Vaughn (Straw Dogs), Paul L. Smith (Sonny Boy) and Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) costar.

    In his final directorial outing, Gene Wilder reteams with his late offscreen wife Gilda Radner and Blazing Saddles costar Dom DeLuise for a bone tickling blend of humor and haunts.  Best known as the popular stars of the radio hit program Manhattan’s Mystery Theater, engaged couple Larry and Vickie look to officially tie the knot at the grand homestead of Larry’s eccentric Aunt Kate.  Feeling on top of the world yet, struggling to overcome his unexpected bouts of nervous phobias, Larry’s uncle, Dr. Paul Abbot (Smith), has discovered a cure for his nephew that involves scaring him beyond belief.  With family and loved ones congregating at the mammoth mansion, Aunt Kate confidentially wills her fortunes to Larry while Dr. Abbot secretly informs the others of his planned experiment.  Before long, an electrical blackout, a thunderous storm and talk of a werewolf leaves the entire estate uneasy and suspicious of one another, fueling the notion that someone close to Larry may be jealous of his eventual riches.  Establishing a wonderful gothic ambiance and romantically real chemistry between Wilder and Radner, Haunted Honeymoon offers delightful doses of comedic spurts thanks largely to DeLuise’s hilarious turn in drag as the passive aggressive Aunt Kate.  In addition, Radner and DeLuise cut a rug during a wonderful song and dance routine that ranks as one of the film’s shining moments.  Proving to be capable behind the camera as well as in front, Wilder’s charm and comedic timing can hardly be matched with a knee-slapping sequence involving Wilder’s Larry using the legs of unconscious butler Pfister (Bryan Pingle, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning) as his own during police questioning.  While its murder mystery style plot may have been dated for its time resulting in a box-office bomb, Haunted Honeymoon, although no classic to be sure, has aged favorably and juggles lighthearted laughs with innocent scares nicely.

    Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents Haunted Honeymoon with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Newly remastered, Wilder’s horror/comedy retains its intended, foggy appearance with skin tones remaining steady throughout.  In addition, colors are crisp with detail nicely impressing in the mansion’s decrepit walls and rain droplets on the leather gloves of Larry’s stalker displayed vividly.  Boasting healthy black levels and a noticeably clean appearance, the creepy comedy makes a healthy HD debut.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue makes easy and clear transitions with the lively score, notably Radner and DeLuise’s musical number, thunderstorm effects and spooky sound cues making the most of their efforts.  Unfortunately limited to just Trailers for Haunted Honeymoon (2:19), The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (2:53) and Life Stinks (2:01), the lack of bonus contents is disappointing nonetheless.  

    Tapping into the familiar horror/comedy formula of Young Frankenstein albeit with lesser results, Haunted Honeymoon still offers plenty of laughs with Wilder and Radner’s chemistry and DeLuise’s dragtastic performance being of particular note.  In the wake of Wilder’s passing, his final bow behind the camera, as well as his curtain call collaborations with Radner and DeLuise, may still not be a comedy masterpiece but will undoubtedly bring delight to those who can’t howl at the moon without laughing.  Graduating to high-definition, Kino Lorber Studio Classics has done admirable work in preserving this comedy chiller for years to come.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Haunted Honeymoon can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Assault on New Releases #10 - Scream Factory Edition: The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Collector's Edition & Bite (2015) Blu-ray Reviews

    The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)

    Director: Nathan Juran

    Starring: Kerwin Mathews, Elaine Devry, Scott Sealey & Robert J. Wilke

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    After a father-son camping excursion results in dear old dad getting bit by a bloodthirsty beast, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf focuses on curly-haired son Richie (Scott Sealey, Emergency!) and his unsuccessful attempts to prove to the local townsfolk that his father will morph into a turtleneck wearing hairy savage at the next full moon.  In his final directorial effort, Nathan Juran (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) reteams with leading man Kerwin Mathews for this rather bland, modern day retelling of the famous folktale.  Highlighting the sign of the times with Richie’s parents being divorced and turning to child psychology for answers to their son’s manic stories, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf exudes a TV movie atmosphere that struggles to scare while, unintentionally bringing smirks to viewers’ faces courtesy of the film’s enjoyably dated werewolf design.  As Richie’s pleas go unanswered, secondary characters including, a camper humping couple, a monster believing psychologist (George Gaynes, Police Academy) and most hilariously, a bible hugging cult of hippies led by a Jerry Garcia looking messiah cross paths with the beast, few leaving with their lives.  Concluding uneventfully with a setup to a sequel that was not meant to be, this harmless PG rated opus mildly charms with its yesteryear plotting during such an artistically groundbreaking decade while, remaining largely forgettable for its bygone approach.  Paired with the snake-slithering shocker Sssssss throughout its drive-in heyday, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf earnestly howls for suspense but, unfortunately comes up scareless.

    Never before available, Scream Factory presents The Boy Who Cried Werewolf with a new 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Amid instances of minimal speckling, occasional cigarette burns and sporadic nighttime scenes possessing overly grainy appearances, the film’s color scheme is strong and vibrant with detail looking pleasingly sharp.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is efficiently relayed while, werewolf howls and the film’s few music cues make decent, if not limited, impacts on the otherwise basic track.  Unsurprisingly limited, special features include, a Photo Gallery (3:32) and the film’s Original Theatrical Trailer (2:24).  However lackluster the tame, fang-toothed feature is, horror/cult saviors Scream Factory must be graciously thanked for rescuing and presenting, for the first time on home video, a cobweb invested picture such as The Boy Who Cried Werewolf for horror enthusiasts to experience in noteworthy quality.

    RATING: 2.5/5

    Available now from Scream Factory, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

    Director: Philip Kaufman

    Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum & Veronica Cartwright

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Kickstarting a movement of science fiction makeovers for golden age classics that would permeate the following decade, Invasion of the Body Snatchers takes place in San Francisco where Department of Health associates Matthew (Donald Sutherland, Don’t Look Now) and Elizabeth (Brooke Adams, The Dead Zone) discover a dark phenomenon of mysterious pods cloning the population and discarding the human originals.  Plagued by fear and paranoia, the silent overtaking of the planet increases aggressively as the desperate duo and their equally frantic friends rush to save the human race.  Impressively hailed by audiences and critics alike for its gloomy tone and nail biting suspense, Director Philip Kaufman’s (The Right Stuff) modernization earns the rare honor of taking a revered concept and pollinating it with unique touches that both adheres and expands upon its foundation.  Featuring an eclectic pool of talent from Sutherland and Adams to genre legend Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek), Veronica Cartwright (The Birds) and an early appearance from a youthfully scrawny Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) as a failed poet, all are perfectly in synch while, original Body Snatchers star Kevin McCarthy returns for a glorified cameo as a frightened civilian forewarning the danger coming.  Seeped in a cloud of dread that the cast admirably conveys through their frightened performances, Invasion of the Body Snatchers impresses doubly with its gooey special effects work that spotlights unsettling reproductions of the cast being birthed via pods.  In addition, a crossbred dog possessing its human owners face stands as yet another unforgettable snippet of disturbing imagery that enhances the film’s fear inducing aura.  While Jack Finney’s novel has inspired two more adaptations in the wake of Kaufman’s slow-building box-office favorite, 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a championed chiller that will leaves audiences in a state of hypnotic fear all the way to its shocking conclusion.

    Scream Factory presents Invasion of the Body Snatchers with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Appreciatively scanned in 2K from the interpositive, the pod people redo looks refreshingly crisper than previous releases with a filmic quality throughout and colors respectfully leveled to more natural appearances.  Furthermore, detail is most impressive during pod birthing scenes allowing viewers to marvel at the intricate cob-like effects work on the bodies.  While the atmospherically dark cinematography still possesses moderate levels of noise speckling, Scream Factory’s handsome new transfer is a breath of preferable fresh air that should easily appease viewers.  Equipped with a perfectly satisfactory DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that relays dialogue and startling sound effects effortlessly, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been included.  Entered into the label’s esteemed Collector’s Edition series, bonus features include, an Audio Commentary with Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman plus, a second vintage Audio Commentary with Director Philip Kaufman.  Other newly recorded supplements courtesy of the relentlessly talented Cavetown Pictures include, Star-Crossed in the Invasion with Brooke Adams (9:06) where the leading lady recounts her working relationship with Kaufman who allowed her to write her own scene in the film as well as her reservations appearing nude on screen.  Next up, Leading the Invasion with Art Hindle (25:04) who portrayed Adams’ quickly overtaken beau recalls his lifelong obsession with science fiction in this chatty featurette while, Re-Creating the Invasion with W.D. Richter (15:43) finds the writer discussing the San Francisco setting of the film and his original intentions and ultimate alterations that occurred throughout the film’s making.  In addition, Scoring the Invasion with Denny Zeitlin (15:34) explores the composer’s sole film credit and his unique approaches to the material.

    Ported over from MGM’s previous Blu-ray release, Re-Visitors from Outer Space, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod (16:14) features insight from Kaufman, Sutherland, Richter, Cartwright and others on the film’s enduring impact.  Practical Magic: The Special Effects Pod (4:38) allows SFX Artist Howard Preston to detail the creation of the film’s impressive opening sequence while, The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod (12:47) and The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod (5:24) explores the film’s evocative sounds and camerawork respectively.  Lastly, the Theatrical Trailer (2:13), TV Spots (1:02), Radio Spots (4:46), a Photo Gallery (74 in total) and a bonus episode of Science Fiction Theatre’s “Time Is Just A Place” (25:53) based on Finney’s short story and directed by Jack Arnold (The Creature from the Black Lagoon) is also included.  Beautifully packaged bearing Justin Osbourn’s newly rendered artwork, a Reversible Cover Art featuring the film’s original 1-sheet poster concludes the stacked supplemental offerings.  At the risk of pumping a dry well by upgrading a previously available favorite, Scream Factory has made the decision a no-brainer with a new top-notch 2K transfer, a pod sized offering of new and vintage extra features and an exceptional new cover design that trumps the original poster art.  If the seed hasn't been planted more firmly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers Collector’s Edition easily earns a spot in your growing collection of cult gems.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available August 2nd from Scream Factory, Invasion of the Body Snatchers can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    Bite (2015)

    Director: Chad Archibald

    Starring: Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak, Denise Yuen, Jordan Gray & Lawrence Denkers

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    After returning from a Dominican Republic getaway, Bite centers on uncertain bachelorette Casey (Elma Begovic, Save Yourself) as she succumbs to an infected bug bite that grossly alters her both physically and mentally.  Introducing viewers to a trio of girlfriends through the lens of their shaky camera as alcohol consumption, self-doubt and infidelity paint the portrait of their tropical vacation, Bite spares viewers further found footage style filming as the narrative thankfully reverts to traditional means.  Nursing an itchy insect bite received abroad, Casey’s case of marital cold feet and guilty conscience weighs heavily on the soon-to-be bride as she contemplates her true desires.  Disdained by her fiancé’s mother who disapproves of premarital sex, Casey’s uncertainty of her future increases as her health rapidly declines in the days to come.  Developing hypersensitive hearing and an endless urge to purge, Casey’s metamorphosis into a yellow-eyed, larva spewing insectoid with a killer instinct breeds creepy carnage for those who cross her path.  Embraced by audiences at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Bite suffers from subpar acting, indubitably caused by its shaky screenplay that lacks meat on its bones.  While Casey’s troubling martial woes and dramatics brought upon by her jealous best friend are established if not, secondary to the film’s anticipated moments of gooey nastiness, Bite’s true saving grace is found in star Elma Begovic’s bold performance that strips away her attractive looks for the benefit of becoming a snarling, bug-eyed creature.  Much like Casey’s husband is forced to wait on consummating, viewers are tasked with settling for a mediocre tale until the anti-hero spews acidic vile upon her mother-in-law from hell and engages in a fatal girl on girl smooch while, a head crunchingly awesome blow befalls the creature formally known as Casey.  An impressive showcase of modern day special effects magic with minimal CG enhancements, Bite may not infest in all the right ways but, excels when living up to its creature feature markings.  

    Scream Factory presents Bite with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  While early POV footage ranks as some of the more crisper moments of the film, the remainder casts a colder, intentionally shadowier appearance that boasts respectable black levels yet, lacking continuous streams of detail.  Free of any unsightly anomalies, Bite looks as pleasing as can be.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is relayed with sterling clarity while, the slimy sound effects of Casey’s ever-changing body equally impresses.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been included for your listening pleasure.  Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Producer Chad Archibald and Co-Producers Cody Calahan & Christopher Giroux.  Furthermore, five behind-the-scenes featurettes consisting of Makeup (5:42), On Set (6:02), Fantasia (5:53), Chad’s Wedding (5:16) and Dominican (5:30) are also joined by the film’s Theatrical Trailer (1:23) plus, a Reversible Cover Art.  Enjoyably revolting when it wants to be, Bite may make viewers wait for its more larva discharging moments but, thankfully makes the ride worth it in this commendable creepy crawly feature.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available August 2nd from Scream Factory, Bite can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Bad Moon (1996) Blu-ray Review

    Bad Moon (1996)

    Director: Eric Red

    Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Michael Paré & Mason Gamble

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Shortly after suffering an attack during an exotic expedition, Bad Moon finds Ted Harrison (Michael Paré, Streets of Fire) attempting to conceal his curse of transforming into a savage werewolf from his older sister Janet (Mariel Hemingway, Manhattan) and young nephew Brett (Mason Gamble, Dennis the Menace).  As local bodies being turning up around their isolated community, Ted strives to pass the blame onto his sister’s loyal German Shepherd who is acutely aware of the true monster at work.

    Adapted from Wayne Smith’s novel Thor, Writer/Director Eric Red’s (Cohen and Tate) lycanthropic feature casts a full moon of shocks and bloodshed against a family driven tale centered around a boy and his dog.  Opening in Nepal, photojournalist Ted Harrison is disrupted from a passionate lovemaking session in his tent when a towering, fanged wolf tears his lay to shreds, leaving him gashed and barely alive.  Shortly after returning home, Ted is harboring a dark ailment he believes can only be cured by the company of his loved ones.  Crashing with his older sister Janet and blonde-haired, blue-eyed nephew Brett proves hazardous as local hikers and drifters are found brutally murdered, reportedly believed to be the work of a wild animal.  While his owners are startled yet never second guess the events, Janet and Brett’s protective German Shepherd Thor picks up a suspicious scent from Uncle Ted that can’t be shaken.  Consumed by his curse and selfishly attempting to pawn his bloodthirsty deeds off on the K9, Thor is hauled off by Animal Control leaving his distraught owners to fend for themselves against the true terror waiting in their own wilderness.  

    With the exception of the fangtastic werewolf design courtesy of special effects wiz Steve Johnson (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Warriors) and a generous helping of throat-ripping and face-slashing gore, Bad Moon is fairly straightforward during its tightly-constructed 79 minute runtime while its performances never fully resonate.  Signing off on a strong note with a suspenseful showdown between wolf and mutt plus, a last-minute jump scare for good measure, Bad Moon, although not overwhelmingly memorable, is a commendable inclusion into the beastly subgenre that was all but banished to hibernation by the time of its release.

    Scream Factory presents Bad Moon with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.  Capturing strong skin tones that only occasionally favor a redder pigment, well-balanced black levels and a presentation free of discouraging scuffs or scratches, Bad Moon makes a striking debut on high-definition.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is perfectly audible while the shrieking howls of the wolf, gunshots and Thor’s bark make for a most effectively trembling listen.  An optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been included.  In addition to presenting Eric Red’s approved Director’s Cut (1:19:25) that merely exorcises the rather dated CG werewolf transformation and the Original Theatrical Cut (1:19:51), special features include, a newly recorded Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Eric Red on his preferred cut plus, an additional Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Eric Red & Actor Michael Paré on the latter version.  Furthermore, the first-rate Nature of the Beast: Making Bad Moon (35:17) looks back on the development and impact of the film with new interviews from Writer/Director Eric Red, Actors Michael Paré and Mason Gamble plus, Special Effects Make-Up Artist Steve Johnson among others.  Also included, the VHS sourced Unrated Opening Scene from the Director’s First Cut (6:07), the Original Theatrical Trailer (1:06) and Transformation Sequence Storyboards (6:30), Thor/Werewolf Fight Storyboards (9:40) and Thor Stares Down Uncle Ted Storyboards (4:15) wraps up the surprisingly loaded sum of supplements.

    Hardly as memorable as its werewolf brethren from a decade earlier, Bad Moon supplies ample entertainment in the splatter department while Steve Johnson’s more grayed design work of the monster is call for applause.  Arriving technically sharp-looking and fluid sounding, Scream Factory celebrates this mid-‘90s howlfest in style that although not credited under their illustrious Collector’s Edition banner, acts the part in the quality and quantity of its bonus features.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available July 19th from Scream Factory, Bad Moon can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Dog Soldiers (2002) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    Dog Soldiers (2002)

    Director: Neil Marshall

    Starring: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Emma Cleasby & Liam Cunningham

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Marking the directorial debut of Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones), Dog Soldiers focuses on a team of soldiers dispatched to the Scottish Highlands for routine training.  After discovering Captain Ryan, the lone survivor of a Special Ops team who were savagely torn to shreds, the soldiers realize the same bloodthirsty creatures are still lurking in the forest.  When a local girl guides them to a desolate farmhouse for shelter, the same pack of deadly werewolves track them leading to a tense standoff.  Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy), Sean Pertwee (Gotham), Emma Cleasby (Doomsday) and Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) star.

    Considered one of the finest werewolf pictures of the 21st century, Dog Soldiers is an adrenaline-fueled experience, leaving little room to catch your breath.  Overflowing with chilling suspense and terrifying with its effective creature designs, Neil Marshall’s feature-length debut casts a hypnotic spell that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.  After being dispatched to the Scottish Highlands for training procedures, a band of soldiers find themselves in a fight for their lives against a pack of ravenous werewolves.  Filled with likable characters exchanging naturalistic chemistry, the soldiers never shy from humorously heaving obscenities at one another and expressing their disappointment at missing a football game for this uneventful training mission.  After discovering Captain Ryan and the bloody remains of his Special Ops team, the soldiers quickly realize the dire situation they have entered.  Struggling to hold their ground in the forest, a local girl rescues the team and ushers them to a secluded farmhouse to battle the deadly werewolves.  With ammunition and men running low, the surviving soldiers must get creative in order to stay alive through the night.  Opting for a traditional approach, Dog Soldiers utilizes animatronics and costumed performers for its hairy antagonists that breathes an authentic tone of terror.  Blending high-octane action and atmospheric carnage, Director Neil Marshall’s frightening tale of lycanthropes reinvigorates the subgenre with its accomplished cast and claustrophobic setting, placing the film amongst the finest werewolf efforts of all-time.

    After nearly a year delay, Scream Factory proudly presents Dog Soldiers with a 1080p transfer, bearing a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Scanned in 2K with supervision and approval from Director Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers sports a slightly soft picture credited to its original 16mm roots that were blown up to 35mm for its theatrical distribution.  With occasional instances of scuffs and vertical lines on display, colors are decently relayed with the film’s bloodier moments popping most effectively.  Shrouded mostly in darkness, the film offers sufficiently inky black levels that allow for appropriate clarity and minimal speckling.  Based on previous subpar home video releases and the scarcity of desirable elements, Scream Factory, with the assistance of Marshall, provide fans with the closest representation of the director’s vision.  While viewers may still feel divided, there’s no denying this is the best Dog Soldiers has ever looked on home video.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is clear and free of distortion while, moments of heavy artillery, explosions and werewolf shredding make a thunderous statement that are balanced accordingly.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 has also been provided for your listening pleasure.  True to its collector’s edition banner, Scream Factory provides an exuberant amount of special features including, an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Neil Marshall while, Aine Leicht (Night of the Demons, Class of 1984) delivers another top-notch featurette with Werewolves VS. Soldiers: The Making of Dog Soldiers (1:01:50).  Featuring new interviews from the cast and crew, this lengthy look back ranks as one of Scream Factory’s finest retrospectives and easily the crowning jewel of the disc’s supplemental offerings.  In addition, A Cottage in the Woods: Building the Sets of Dog Soldiers with Simon Bowles (13:26), Trailers (5:02), a Dog Soldiers Photo Gallery (47 in total), Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery (22 in total) and Director Neil Marshall’s early short film Combat (7:37) are also included.  Finally, a reversible cover art and DVD edition of the release wrap up the impressive bonus features.  

    A successful hybrid of intense action and effective frights, Dog Soldiers turns the werewolf subgenre on its head for a unique experience that understands the art of suspense.  Starring an ensemble cast delivering earnest performances and containing noteworthy practical effects, Director Neil Marshall’s bloody excursion through the Scottish Highlands is a career highlight that still ranks as one of the most impressive pictures of the genre.  Far from a simple undertaking, Scream Factory delivers Dog Soldiers with its finest home video presentation to date that will easily trump previous releases.  With the original negative lost, Scream Factory and Director Neil Marshall have gone to great lengths to preserve the film’s vision, resulting in a successful outcome that should greatly appease fans.  In addition, Aine Leicht’s impressive array of special features and Nathan Thomas Milliner’s newly crafted artwork treats this collector’s edition like horror royalty that will ultimately leave fans howling at the moon in delight.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available June 23rd from Scream Factory, Dog Soldiers can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Wolfcop (2014) Blu-ray Review

    Wolfcop (2014)

    Director: Lowell Dean

    Starring: Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, Sarah Lind, Corinne Conley & Jonathan Cherry

    Released by: Image Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Wolfcop centers on alcoholic policeman Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) as he continues his steady routine of drinking excessively and working minimally.  When a series of violent events take place, Lou is left with a pentagram carved into his chest and the ability to become a werewolf.  To solve the mystery of his transformation and the rampant conspiracies of his town, Lou joins forces with his partner to better protect and serve under a full moon.  Amy Matysio (Stranded), Sarah Lind (True Justice), Corinne Conley (Quads!) and Jonathan Cherry (Final Destination 2) co-star.

    Following in the tradition of other contemporary grindhouse efforts, Wolfcop combines the occult and police procedural with its tongue firmly planted in cheek.  Shot on a relatively tight budget, Wolfcop shines with impressive practical effects and grounded performances that help anchor the film from flying completely off the rails.  Content being a drunk, Officer Lou Garou (Fafard) shows little passion for his work until a mysterious encounter with cult members turn Lou into a ravaging werewolf at the sight of a full moon.  Determined to uncover the truth behind his new abilities, Lou teams up with dimwitted local Willie Higgins (Cherry) and his hardworking partner Tina (Matysio), only to discover a sea of corruption and sinister occult activities running their small town.  Delivered with a breezy runtime, Wolfcop takes full advantage of its B-movie concept with gory transformation sequences, rampant shootouts and a surprisingly tasteful prison sex scene between its hairy star and a sexy bartender.  The mysterious cult members desire Lou’s wolf blood to prolong their own lifespan, prompting Lou to take control and once again show pride for the shield he bears.  Satanism, ruthless gangs and a last stand at sundown  attempt to overthrow the fanged officer and his partner, leading to an unsurprisingly violent finale.  

    While, its over the top nature is well suited for its material, Wolfcop’s conscience attempts to capture a bygone era of filmmaking feel slightly tired and late to the party.  Making the most of its budget, Wolfcop stuns with its creature design and many gore effects provided by Emerson Ziffle (Curse of Chucky), showcasing true talent under difficult circumstances.  Occasionally humorous while, reveling in its eccentricities, Wolfcop is a fun homage to the energy of 80s cult hits but, feels a bit too self aware for its own good.

    Image Entertainment presents Wolfcop with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Bursting with solid color and nicely handled skin tones, Wolfcop satisfies immensely on high-definition.  Meanwhile, black levels are handled with care and no crushing to speak of with only mild softness during the film’s final sequence which is more attributed to the sun’s position.  Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is always crisp with action sequences and music by Shooting Star relayed with proper authority.  Packed with bonus content, special features include, an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Lowell Dean and Special Effects Artist Emerson Ziffle, the lengthy Wolfcop Unleashed Behind the Scenes Featurette (45:51), the multi-part The Birth of Wolfcop (14:48), Film Outtakes (3:10), Wolfcop Music Video (2:50), Theatrical Trailer (1:39), Original Concept Trailer (2:20), Skydive Promo (0:37), Trailer Park Boys Shout Out (1:26) and a Special Thanks credit sequence (1:01) round out the extensive supplements.

    Earnestly brought to fruition, Wolfcop impresses with its technical achievements realized under its modest budget.  Blending genres and yearning to be a modern day cult classic, Wolfcop is not as memorable as one would hope given the volume of other produced and even less memorable wannabe grindhouse efforts.  While, far from the instant cult hit it claims to be, cult fans certainly haven’t seen the last of the razor-toothed boozer with a sequel promised at its end credits.  Meanwhile, Image Entertainment’s Blu-ray release is a knock-out with solid video and audio specs as well as a beefy array of bonus content for fans to bite into.  While, its mileage may vary with viewers, Wolfcop has some howlingly entertaining moments but, never rises to a wholly memorable level.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available as a Best Buy exclusive until May 12th from Image Entertainment, Wolfcop can be purchased via BestBuy.com and other fine retailers.

         

  • President Wolfman (2012) DVD Review

    President Wolfman (2012)

    Director: Mike Davis

    Starring: Marc Evan Jackson, Ashley Ann, Anthony Jenkins & Casey Robinson

    Released by: Wild Eye Releasing

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Utilizing recycled stock footage and injecting new dialogue plus other enhanced effects, this “green film” is the epitome of camp entertainment.  Part horror-comedy blended with political satire, Director Mike Davis (Sex Galaxy) once again meshes his love for public domain footage and hysterical dialogue for another howlingly fun time.  Award winner at several independent film festivals, President Wolfman is the perfect midnight solution during a full moon.

    President Wolfman centers on John Wolfman, single parent, leader of the free world and part-time werewolf.  Tirelessly fighting off the selling of the United States to China through the proposed “Chimerica Bill”, Wolfman is also pitted with saving his young son from a deadly Vice President.

    MOVIE:

    Creatively crafted, President Wolfman wields a story of horror and humor in our nation’s capital relying solely on recycled footage.  Reminiscent of 70s exploitation fare, this zany indie effort works wonders by infusing hilarious voice work over pre-existing footage culled from educational shorts, Smokey the Bear commercials, Miss Teen Beauty Pageants and more.  A breezy runtime, absurd dialogue and footage that doesn’t always make sense creates the perfect cheese-fest cocktail for material of this ilk.  At times reminiscent of poor dubbing examples akin to Godzilla films, President Wolfman is firmly aware of their over the top nature and never shies away from pushing the envelope.  Consistently funny and politically incorrect, President Wolfman is an absolute hoot from start to finish.  Admirers of bad cinema will enjoy the tongue in cheek mentality of the film while, equally appreciating the various stock footage used to push the narrative forward.  President Wolfman is the ideal solution for a good laugh, not to be taken seriously.  Presented in “Stag-O-Vision”, this political lycan is a successful experimentation with cut and paste moviemaking worthy of your vote.

    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:

    Wild Eye Releasing presents President Wolfman in anamorphic widescreen, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Culled from over 100 pieces of various stock footage, President Wolfman ranges in quality.  Scratches (some purposely intended), lines and faded color are all present but, expected in a film of this caliber.  Understandably, a film consisting of recycled footage should not be judged harshly as it maintains its artistic intent.  While, not pitch perfect looking, President Wolfman appears exactly as it should which makes the ride all the more fun.

    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, President Wolfman sounds crisp and robust.  As the footage appears as it was found, the re-voiced dialogue and blaxploitation-esque tunes are loud and audible with no issues to speak of.  Obviously, an area where sizable budget was put forth to make the film work its magic.

    RATING: 4/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Mike Davis and Co-Producer Miles Flanagan: Davis and Flanagan waste no time diving into the material explaining the elaborate process of making a “green film” of this kind, work.  Davis mentions 1973’s The Werewolf of Washington starring Dean Stockwell as being the central film selection in guiding his film forward while, plucking other material from various industrial films, educational shorts and driver’s safety films.  Flanagan, who also contributed to the film’s visual effects, explains his subtle uses of digitally adding items into scenes that called for added production value.  Fans of the film will find this commentary to be an interesting listen considering its unusual style.  

    - President Wolfman Outtakes (1:42)

    - President Wolfman Music Video (1:54): The main title sequence reused as a separate feature.

    - President Wolfman Highlight Reel (4:00): Several humorous sequences collected in one reel.

    - Shorts: A collection of various stock footage clips, some in their original form and others repurposed by Davis:

                        - Ban Money (0:59)

                        - Experiments (19:39)

                        - Sudden Birth (22:09)

                        - Talking Car (16:02)

                        - Thank You (0:31)

                        - She Wolf (1:44)

                        - Space Prison Trailer (2:05)

    - Trailers: Includes President Wolfman, Deadly X-Mas, The Disco Exorcist, Murder University, Showgirls 2, Mold! and Swamphead.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    OVERALL:

    Copy and paste tattered stock footage and invite the gang of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to re-dub the dialogue and you arrive at President Wolfman.  Unbelievably campy and unrelentingly hilarious, this horror-comedy pokes fun at politics with the guided hand of scratchy footage, best remembered through a school projector.  Director Mike Davis‘ latest effort is a laugh out loud riot, enjoyed amongst other B-movie lovers with a weakness for werewolves running the country.  In addition, Wild Eye Releasing has prepared a wide spread of bonus content for fans to cut into including an informative commentary and various stock footage clips.  Resurrecting long-forgotten footage with newly recorded, comical dialogue is a work of genius or insanity.  Regardless, the end result is a roaringly fun experience that will leave you in support for President Wolfman.

    RATING: 4/5