Saturday, January 15

Nice Price™ Alert: Mill Creek's Spirited Killer Trilogy for $2.50

While browsing around Wal Mart this morning, I noticed Mill Creek's Spirited Killer Trilogy featuring Spirited Killer (1994), Spirited Killer 2: Awakened Zombie Battles (1997), and Spirited Killer 3: Ghost Wars (1998) was in their $5 "dump bin", but rang up for only $2.50--the lowest price I can find anywhere besides downloading. I haven't fully checked these out yet, but Mill Creek is trying to pass them off as Tony Jaa actionfests judging by the cover art. In reality, Jaa apparently gets his ass kicked in the first ten minutes of the first feature with Panna Rittikrai being the real star of the three films. They're also not a trilogy, the first is the fourth sequel of a separate series (Plook mun kuen ma kah 4) compared to Awakened Zombie Battles and Ghost Wars.

Here's an excerpt from MONDO 70: A Wild World of Cinema's thoughts on the first film (read in full here): "I haven't laughed at a movie so hard in some time, and it has some halfway decent martial arts, too. This is definitely an early effort from the unit that now sets the standard for wireless fight scenes, but everyone performs enthusiastically, taking great bumps and happily slashing one another's shirts with their machetes. Spirited Killer, or whatever you want to call it, is exactly what I'm looking for a lot of the time from the wild world of cinema. It's a genuinely popular, unpretentious film from another part of the world, not aimed at art-house critics (Thailand has stuff for them as well) but for the native rabble who apparently like to see obnoxious young people get killed as much as the rabble of any nation. The only difference is that these kids fight back a lot. Imagine a Friday the 13th film in which everyone knows kung fu and you still root for the mindless killer and you get close to the essence of Spirited Killer. Add to that the utterly brain-dead dubbing and this first film alone justifies the bargain-basement $5 I paid for the entire trilogy. I think I can confidently commend the entire set to connoisseurs of cinematic garbage."

To be honest, flipping through all three, Zombie Battles and Ghost Wars look more my style, mixing in a liberal dose of elements seen in Hong Kong horror comedies like Mr. Vampire and Spooky Encounters with what looks like even more martial arts. Looking at the single disc's specs, the first film has the original Thai and English dub but no subtitles, rendering the Thai track useless. The other two have their Thai language tracks with removable yellow English subtitles. Spirited Killer is in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen with rather thick pillarboxing while Zombie Battles and Ghost Wars are also anamorphic, but stretched vertically from 2.35:1 to fill a "full" 1.78:1 widescreen frame (see the shots below). All three transfers are interlaced and exhibit some compression artifacts from being squeezed onto a single disc. Still, for $2.50 (or even $5), you could do worse and the picture quality is decent otherwise. Looks like the makings of a fun night of schlock and be sure to brave the People of Wal Mart to see if you can find it!

Spirited Killer (1994)

Awakened Zombie Battles (1997)

Ghost Wars (1998)

1 comment:

J. Astro said...

I love me some Tony Jaa ass-whuppin's, but the first SPIRITED KILLER didn't do a whole lot for me. It was a little -too- cheap, and I think I let myself get overly distracted by the atrocious lack of ANY decent costuming or production design whatsoever. Shallow, I know, but there it is. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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