Monday, October 31

Boobs on Halloween, or mislabeled eBay items rock!

While digging around eBay last week this tape of Gary Graver's One Million Heels B.C. listed as "One Million Years B.C." was won and I proceeded to nearly shit a brick formed of rainbow-swirled happiness. I'm always poking around for items to feed my dangerous obsession with Michelle Bauer, the lingerie girl with the chainsaw down on the sidebar, so this was an awesome find for $4.98 shipped(!) that arrived today.

The tape seems to be from the United Kingdom on the "Hollywood Scream Queen" label. If it was a truly British release (the BBFC's database has no record of the film), the playback would be PAL format, but the tape is in NTSC. Maybe the Brit sleeve was simply reused for a U.S. cassette since most wouldn't notice or care anyway. Or the BBFC's 18 logo and markings were "borrowed" for the same reason. I'm suspecting this is probably self-released by the film's production company, American Independent Productions. The IMDB lists a 35 minute runtime instead of the hour long indication on the cover. I'll have to gladly investigate further...

(finally home next to Michelle's magnum opus, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers!)

Sunday, October 30

Undead (2003) - 2002 Spierigfilm Screener (Bootleg?) VHS

Peter and Michael Spierig's Undead is ultimately your typical exercise in amateur filmmakers embarking on their first feature that pays heavy-handed homage to well known cult influences. One should expect the usual gory odes to Romero, Raimi-like camera tricks, and nods to John Woo's hyper-stylized gunplay lovemaking. Hampering the fun is dragass dialogue mostly from characters that have little impact on the story and quickly end up as zombochow. Even then, any real development is slim while we wait for the next exploding head. The sci-fi twist that reveals itself later on is unique and the score is unexpectedly fantastic, but the 104 minute duration gets to be an endurance test too often.

Lionsgate's DVD actually has seven minutes of trims for pacing. I've heard complaints over this, like the assumption the studio figured American audiences would get bored with the story, although the omissions might help (much like the shorter 976-EVIL). I only have Australian disc so I can't say either way. This VHS was a cheap grab from eBay and probably didn't garner much attention since the printed cover and tape look dodgy. The strange thing is the tape starts with a splash screen that runs down the film's technical specs, then film leader, and timecode along the bottom the screen for the entire film. The picture and sound quality are quite good and the film appears to be in its completed form. It's hard to exactly say what the deal considering the cheapness of the cover and cassette. It's definitely not from a DVD though...

Saturday, October 29

Captures from Lionsgate's British Ghoulies III DVD

Originally written back in 09/09: During college prank week, a professor interested in the occult (Ragnar, Kevin McCarthy) confiscates a comic book, entitled Ghoulish Tales, from a student which has the power to summon the ghoulies once again. After a few false starts, Ragnar finally makes the pint-sized hellions flesh from the bowels of a custom ghoulie-etched toilet. Once learning of the pranks, the ghoulies begin dispensing their own brand of destructive hijinks (along with drinking 2,001 beers and Drain-O) which only escalates the war between the fraternities. Meanwhile, the leader of the frathouse, Skip (Evan MacKenzie), is having girl trouble with his former squeeze dating the leader of the preps. Ragnar just gets crazier-and-crazier as he discovers the power he wields being the ghoulies master. Soon Skip and girlfriend fall under the beady eyes of the slimy demons.

Certainly one for the inebriated. The ghoulies talk in this one, which was surprising with the growling and meowing of the two prior flicks. Their personalities mimic The Three Stooges with the green buff one being Moe, the hairy cat-like one Curly, and the hairy snoutted-one gets stuck with all the work like Larry. They also constantly spew a stream of mildly amusing quips and whack each other about their heads (complete with bonehead sound effects), but sometimes can be hard to understand as they talk over each other.

If that sounds overly comical--it is. Buechler thoroughly steeps his sequel in a more comic than horror tone. The few deaths are bloodless by goofball means such as plunger, stretched tongue, and toilet flush. One aspect noticeably pumped up, not that I mind, are the boobs and butts, even staging a panty raid night with plenty of topless babes bouncing around...or showering. It's always fun seeing Kevin McCarthy play the sweaty nutter and the cartoonish score eerily echoes Peter Dasent's work from Peter Jackson's Braindead (Dead Alive). Not that funny, but it's all innocuous enough to warrant at least one watch.

So much for that wishy-washy assessment because since then Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College has become a guilty pleasure. This third purely comical sequel has become my favorite of the series and somehow gets funnier each time. So far, it hasn't been released on DVD stateside, but has seen a long out-of-print disc in the United Kingdom that recently got reissued from Lionsgate as part of Saw rollercoaster theme park promotion. The bad news is the unmatted full frame transfer has nearly every issue possible being from a very poor, old video master with a sloppy transition to digital. The picture is also much darker than Vestron's domestic VHS, so I'd advise just to stuck to that tape if you already have it. This barebones DVD went for zany prices while OOP, but currently has it for about $10 shipped to America for those region free. If anything, those with OCD and the other three on disc can finally complete the set.

(direct disc captures, saved as lossless .pngs)

Thursday, October 27

Dear David Heavener...

So over this past weekend I watched your movie, Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya from back in 2004. You know, the one you directed, wrote, produced, and co-starred in about a couple moving into a desert homestead only to be plagued by a zombie family under some unexplained curse that were murdered years ago.

The one with gradually spawning pink moons in the sky that no one seems to care about much less hardly notice? The one in which a character is inexplicably wearing a totally different shirt in what should be a continuous sequence? The one where Todd Bridges of Diff'rent Strokes fame embarrasses himself while insulting the mentally handicapped playing what's described in the movie as a "retard"? The one where a small pancake-sized blood stain represents the aftermath of a point blank shotgun killing of a child? The one re-titled Dawn of the Living Dead for DVD to obviously capitalize on the popularity of zombies flicks with a cover that's about 236% better than the content it represents? Damn, that cover is great...

And I'm not saying all this as a slight against the movie. It's honestly a terrible movie, but at least it's not terribly annoying or boring. There's more a "weird bad" vibe going on like how in the world even such a simplistic story got rambled through so confusingly. I'm not even going to ask what the hell that mindfuck of a drunken rape between the couple suddenly turning into a dream lovemaking scene with your character that turns out to to have actually occurred was. It all went flying over my head, dude. The scenery is nice and the gory effects are welcome, but really?

The most baffling aspect is Joe Estevez and his character's relationship with Amanda Bauman's female lead. I kept wondering whether he was her father, uncle, or doctor since she has psychological issues. Now, I understand Emilio's uncle gotta eat and maybe in reality he's a pimp, but he's her fiancée? As in they're engaged to be married...?! Age gap much...?

Fiend (1980) - 1983 Prism Entertainment VHS

Don Dohler's second feature, Fiend, strikes the best balance of the positive attributes I've seen from the late regional Maryland filmmaker. His sci-fi/horror mash-ups were often high on ambition and low on budget with the latter obviously cramping the material. Ambition certainly isn't a negative, but instead the aspirations of this example are kept within the budgetary spectrum (around six grand) and the result is better for it.

The best way to describe Fiend is that it's an unmistakeably average B flick; however, there's no aspect that's "bad" or embarrassing in finding a watchable middle ground. The cast is serviceable with Don Leifert as the titular fiend with glowing red hands delivering a supremely arrogant, murderous performance. Dohler's skill at editing wards off boredom and his camera tinkers with interesting angles more than in his debut The Alien Factor. Due to the strangling and beating kill method of the resurrected vampiric thug who requires blood to stave off rot, the red stuff is kept to a minimum. Fiend was also released later on VHS as Deadly Neighbor (see here).

Wednesday, October 26

Speaking of Stagefright...

For the sake of completeness, here's the Japanese DelaGold/Suncrown VHS release.

Tuesday, October 25

Stagefright: Aquarius (Deliria) (1987) - CIC Video/Pioneer Japan LaserDisc

This beautiful Japanese Laser arrived today, but the mail decided to apparently use the package as a frisbee and ding a portion of the bottom edge. Although considering the price and hoops that the postal office presents with damage claims, it is what it is. Otherwise the cover, disc, and insert are in great condition. Michele Soavi's Euro-dipped slasher debut has an odd way of finding me. I probably have about ten different editions across various formats spanning the globe so far...

(notice the flow chart, many Japanese LD inserts break down the story this way!?)

Sunday, October 23

Some quick thoughts on Last Flight to Hell (L'ultimo volo all'inferno) (1990)

TDK's full frame Japanese VHS entitled "REGAIN"
Reb Brown stars as a combat-ready DEA agent contracted to capture a high-ranking druglord (Mike Monty) running narcotics through the green inferno of the Philippines. Even before the mission can commence, the wanted man is taken hostage by a rival Chinese group, which prompts his daughter (Michele Dehne) to start her own rescue. All the while, the man overseeing Reb's task (Chuck Connors) might be working both ends toward the middle as other shaky alliances are formed...

The career of the embodiment of one of those Chinese knock-off action figures, Reb Brown, can be likened to the fast fall of heavy metal's mainstream prominence to grunge in the early '90s. Starting out in the '70s, the actor received steady work throughout two decades only for the bottom to fall out of his specific niche almost immediately after the dawn of the '90s. Either by this factor or perhaps by choice, Last Flight to Hell marked his last leading role before stumbling around in a handful of minor work before running cold for over a decade after 1998. David A. Prior's next upcoming masterpiece, Night Claws, marks his long belated return. (see Dread Central article here)

The sedate atmosphere of this jungle hut exploder is perfectly reflective of this sea change. Everything is unusually quiet with the meager dollops of gunfire, brawling, and a few of the aforementioned huts blowing up into giant balls of light just barely acting to propel interest. Even the usually excitable and likeable Brown seems tired of this shit while mostly mumbling through the role. He's still in good shape looking the character and as evident in the previous year's Cage with Lou Ferrigno, his acting is fairly decent for the admittedly dumb material. But as his screen presence has improved, much of the unintentional hilarity that cake the walls of Strike Commando (1987), Space Mutiny (1988), and Robowar (1989) is significantly dampened. There are scant laughs to be had but they aren't coming from good ol' Reb.

Surprisingly Chuck Connors, just two years before his passing, is always and obviously 100% game. With his chiseled visage holding up and hair perfectly coiffed, the best way to describe his presence can be summed up in a comment on the trailer on YouTube, "Chuck Connors acts the shit outta that shit." The veteran never sees any action sequences, but like a pro never once seems above spitting out his trite lines with unexpected zeal. Mike Monty, who seemed to make an '80s dayjob out of jumping between every Italian/Filipino production imaginable, cashes his check and is naturally dependable. Another Bruno Mattei vet, David Brass, gets more than a walk-on as a member of Brown's extraction team.

The action (to the recycled tune of Strike Commando's music) is where you find it with a few gunfights, remote hut denotations, venomous viper stand-offs, and Brown making teeth find stomachs through force. Instead of his patented scream n' spray, Brown uses almost entirely controlled machine gun bursts with zero vocalization. The only time that he breaks out the rebel yell is in the climax and is immediately shot in the guts. Almost as if that little touch acts as a (probably) unintentional rejection of Brown's God-like panache for surviving even the most intense onslaughts untouched in prior features. Last Flight to Hell begins and ends on a whimper much like its star's career and the bygone industry that produced it. Still, I can't say I wasn't entertained despite my sides not hurting from laughter afterward.

(trailer uploaded by fellow awesome tapehead blog, The Scandy Factory)

Saturday, October 22

Star Wars (1977) - 1982 20th Century Fox Video "Video Rental Library" VHS

This was this morning's best find; the first ever video release of Star Wars in North America from 1982. Later that same year, Fox released a retail edition in their cardboard "book box" carton. This is a small hard clamshell like Thorn EMI's releases. This cover is "semi-sealed" within the case with the plastic film melted to the black case halfway along the top and bottom edges. I had to trash the clam since it looked all of its thirty years and the spine's plastic was totally flaked away. There are no studio video logos in the beginning; just 20th Century Fox's fanfare and the Lucasfilm Ltd. denotation.

Friday, October 21

Quick, someone call the fucking cops, I dared to open a used record at FYE...

The following isn't to BOGD's norms, basically a big bitchfest, but I encountered such a ridiculous situation today that I have to share. I took the day off today to dig around thrift shops (I know, exciting, right?) and stop by the mall for a bite to eat. While there, I walked into a giant FYE to scope out any of their usually tepid Halloween horror title deals. After finding two discs I was on the fence about, I approached the vinyl rack and began flipping through the mostly overpriced and untouched selection.

I found this ratty original 1985 copy of AC/DC's overlooked drunken barroom masterpiece, Fly on the Wall, for $3.99. It was obviously resealed since the edges are all dog-earred and there's a small discount notch chopped out of the bottom left hand corner with no sign of damage to the shoddy plastic. The open edge was "sealed" by a two inch piece of clear tape which I easily slid open with my thumbnail in order to spot-check the condition of the LP and any other contents.

So while I'm holding the record to the light to see if there's any of the multitude of issues that can affect vinyl, I see out of the corner of my eye an employee douche unhinge his douche walkie and say "Frank, come in, a customer just opened a record." I immediately said that it was used to which he replied that it didn't matter and that he saw me open the damn thing. Now mind you, there's dozens of other used vinyl on the racks with no wrapping or sleeves whatsoever. Yet this giant ignorant asshole merely seemed to want to be a giant ignorant asshole for the sake of being a giant ignorant asshole. After having enough I shouted "I'll just buy the motherfucker for four bucks, happy?" After which I left the fourty-five bucks of DVD I was thinking about and bought the record, which is in excellent playing condition, with loud protest. Not to mention the times I've purchased "100% Guaranteed" used DVDs there only for them to look slathered in ointment and driven over by an 18-Wheeler. I'm definitely not trusting their assessment of condition.

I understand retailers are in a constant battle to curb deceit and theft, but when you're trying to sell used, decades old stuff to a small niche of interested people, it's best not to treat those customers doing reasonable things like dumbass criminals out to get you over the measly price of a McDonald's value meal. If they couldn't understand my clear reasons for "opening" a used previously opened twenty-six-year-old thing in which condition is absolutely integral to the value and performance of said thing then they're actually more thick-headed than the false notion of the customers they prejudge. Perhaps there's why they work there?

And it's not like it would be easy to steal a 12" platter without bags of any sort. Sure, I'm going to fold it up and stick it in my breast pocket, right? I feel like revisiting around Christmas, gathering a huge stack of used LPs, forcing the cashier to wait while I check each with a penlight, and then casting them all off as not worth the money as a long line impatiently waits. Or in other words: Hey FYE, fuck you and don't sell vinyl at all if you can't treat the customers that actually still give a damn about the medium with even a modicum of basic respect. Oh, and people would probably buy more if you turned down that goddamn music...

Thursday, October 20

Demons 3 (La chiesa) (The Church) (1989) - Columbia Video Japan VHS

Michele Soavi's sophomoric directorial effort is a like car you pass by on the side of the street that's for sale. It looks great from the road; however, as you walk up to it, you began to see all the little scratches, dings, and signs of body work. It's still a nice car, but not quite the hot shit or sweet deal it first appeared to be.

The story of a gothic cathedral resting over a mass grave of supposed devil-worshipers that's "awakened" with the opening of their crypt is ultimately muddled by the film's bevy of writers. Characters we figured were important at first are marginalized into nothingness, events occur that should have much more impact on the story inexplicably don't, and there's a general sense that many of the finer points not adding up if pondered for any longer than three seconds.

That doesn't mean it's not worth checking out. Soavi intended The Church to be more serious than the low Italian horror degenerated to by the late '80s and it shows in both execution and style. Striking visuals and earthy atmosphere are available in spades as Soavi continues to cut his teeth on his way to The Sect (1991) and his last horror effort to date, Dellamorte Dellamore (1994). Columbia's VHS is uncut and in 1.85:1 widescreen just like Anchor Bay's DVD (and Blue Underground's re-issue).

Wednesday, October 19

Tuesday, October 18

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - 1984 K-Tel/Filmways VTC Australian VHS

Another one of my most wanted bites the dust! I can remember seeing this cover years ago online and instantly falling in love. This is K-Tel's second video release of Hooper's backwoods trip to Texas in Australia after a nearly decade long ban of the film. I'm fairly certain this is also the cheaper sell-thru version compared to the first rental version with different and in my opinion inferior art (seen here).

The roadblock for me collecting the country's videos is the absolutely insane international shipping costs for tapes from Australia to America (always seems at least $20). So when I amazingly saw this one literally a zip code away a cobra strike was immediately launched. What's even funnier is that I found this Australian TCM bootleg last year about twenty miles away.

Monday, October 17

Well, since I didn't win last night...

I was keeping this acquisition quiet until the outcome of this auction last night. That release is the "mate" to this tape, Asuku Video's 1994 Cannes Premiere version VHS of Dawn of the Dead (1978). Erroneously dubbed the "Director's Cut", this 139 minute cut was a still work-in-progress that debuted at the 1978 festival as Romero toiled in the editing room to finally craft his 127 minute theatrical director's cut.

The tape in that auction, which I ultimately didn't win, is Asuku's 117 minute European version helmed by Dario Argento (called the "Selected Version" in Japan). As you can see, the cover is inverted compared to the Cannes cut with a black foil background and silver lettering. Would have looked great together, but what can ya do? To be honest, I've never really cared for Argento's cut anyway. The missing chunks and score alterations always pull me out of the experience. Anywho, the awesome cover seems incredibly fragile. The foil side already has creasing along the spine and some minor wrinkling in spots that look almost like tinfoil. The edges are very delicate as well. The reverse cover is on non-glossy "flat" cardboard. I'm fairly certain these tapes were released in conjunction with Bandai/Emotion's '95 "PERFECT COLLECTION" LaserDisc set (seen here).

(w/ Victor's theatrical version VHS)

(reverse cover)

Sunday, October 16

Football or Zombies? (required Walking Dead premiere entry)

We'll all see how the Darabont-less voyage starts off tonight for better-or-worse...

Saturday, October 15

Alien from the Deep (Alien degli abissi) (1989) - SPO Entertainment Japan VHS

Just to recycle some old thoughts from '09 since they're still apt after revisiting this late Italian sci-fi/horror entry from Antonio Margheriti. This film exemplifies both what ultimately killed the country's cottage industry and what was so great about its waning days. It was easy to see why Italy's horror and exploitation was so successful during its glory days. Playing on taboos and imitating/emulating hot trends made financial sense.

But Alien from the Deep is so gloriously stupid because its very concept of a towering trash bag monster arising from Earth's molten depths is woefully out-of-date with the late '80s/early '90s. There's even "ominous" trumpeting straight out of an early Godzilla flick harkening the monster's arrival. No wonder this film and the surrounding industry sadly sunk into obscurity. All this and a pissed off Charles Napier. Awesome. I've actually watched this one five or six times already on Marketing Film's German DVD. Although I'm unsure I'd recommend paying the nutty $20+ price for U.S. One-7 Movies' DVD...

"Two environmental activists sneak onto a remote island owned by a huge chemical corporation to capture on video the plant's nefarious acts against nature. Getting help from local natives, the tree-huggers infiltrate the plant and witness the dumping of highly radioactive material into a volcanic cavern. Security becomes wise and takes chase; leading to the capture of one of them. The other activist is saved by an American snake wrangler and together they devise a rescue. The head of plant operations (Charles Napier) continues the hazardous dumping despite knowledge radioactivity is reaching radically unstable levels. Soon an enormous creature begins tunneling towards the plant from the sea and it's every man for himself to escape the monster and the flesh-eating fungi it harbors.

Enjoyable Italian sci-fi actioner that's completely mindless but moves at a brisk enough pace. Charles Napier is just how we like him; terse and stubborn-minded as he screams at subordinates and recklessly guides everything towards imminent destruction. Not much gore, but Margheriti does halt the chaos of the climax for a "decontamination" scene that's merely an excuse for the attractive blond protagonist to run around the rest of the film in a wet tanktop and panties. Thank you Antonio! Also the monster is a ridiculous tower of black hose and tires with crab claws...only in an '80s Italian sci-fi flick!"

(the whole damn movie!)

Friday, October 14

GPOY J-VHS: The Deuce...

New arrivals, Antonio Margheriti's Alien from the Deep (Alien degli abissi) (1989) and Mario Caiano's Nazi Love Camp #27 (La svastica nel ventre) (1977). Big Thanks go to the ever-reliable terror-fantastic over at eBay and the great Japanese VHS Hell for the opportunity to snag these awesome tapes!

Thursday, October 13

Wednesday, October 12

CAGE (1989) - 2001 Sterling Entertainment vs. 2004 Trinity Home Entertainment DVDs

Watching Lang Elliot's Cage again reminds me of a charge in one of the unsigned "letters of criticism" this blog received awhile ago. Apparently some take issue with the action genre sometimes sampled on this self-professed "horror flick blog". Heaven forbid, right? The last complaint called the usually trashy action covered here "stupid movies for lonely people."

In some ways, I can see their point. I hate to say this, but my main competition while out hunting for flicks such as Cage are old scuzzy dudes hobbling around alone looking for war pictures and John Wayne westerns. I can't tell you how many times it's just myself and one of these guys hovering over rows of tapes. I pick out the horror while they clutch the Seagal and Norris flicks I already own. Well, if enjoying and sprinkling in commentary about such movies on my own "horror flick blog" makes me stupid and lonely, then let me hitch up my loafers, fixodent my dentures, drive my Datsun fifteen miles under the speed limit, and finally get to the swap meet to find my special ointment, plain shredded wheat, and maybe a movie or two.

don't tempt Reb.
Being horrible by sensible standards and outmodded by UFC fighting on daytime television, Cage is still entertaining and perfect rainy day material. Seeing Lou Ferrigno valiantly attempt to emote a mental handicap from a headshot in Vietnam who's taken under the wing of Reb Brown is a sublime pairing. Big Lou is tricked into cage fighting to pay off the hefty debt of two mafioso with Reb on the chase with his patented scream in pursuit. The awesome is only compounded by cheeseball credit ballads and immediately recognizable character actors like James Shigeta, Al Leong, and Mike Moroff. It's a bit long at a hundred minutes, but like a Hungry Man TV dinner, it's best not to concentrate on the nutritional breakdown on the back. The '94 sequel, Cage II: The Arena of Death, teams Ferrigno and Brown back up but is much less fun.

So how do the DVDs fare? Each has their own share of problems. Both companies are el cheapo fly-by-nighters and these discs may or may not be in-print anymore. Both transfers are the same, notice the fine horizontal lines covering these captures, with the Sterling disc dimmer and greener compared to Trinity's brighter and bluish image. The Sterling has rapid dot crawl while the Trinity has poorer encoding with digital blocking showing up in motion. It's pretty much a wash between the two, a DVD player with good performance will be able to clean up both images well enough to equate to a LaserDisc-like presentation. No extras of any worth on either release. The Trinity disc seems easily found online but Orion Home Video's VHS wouldn't represent much of a downgrade from either disc.

Sterling - TOP | Trinity - BOTTOM you dare tread upon the staircase?

Basement of Ghoulish Decadence, Basement of Ghoulish Archive, and all original material Copyright © 2009-present by Jayson Kennedy. All rights reserved.