"Weekly Wadings through Celluloid Sludge"
Issue #1: 01/10/05
Aloha, fellow film fanatics, DVD addicts and apostles of all things arcane! Welcome to the inaugural installment of Cinemuck, a (theoretically) weekly column devoted to those trashy little epics we tend to squander way too much cash on. Expect to see exclusive reviews, release news, interviews, convention reports and other assorted inane ramblings in the coming weeks. (Months? Years?) Hopefully you'll find something of note. If not, be happy the internet's free.
Lots of material to cover this go 'round, so let's not delay!
Cult DVD darlings Synapse Films have maintained a steady release schedule since pairing up with Ryko Distribution mid-2004, but some of their offerings have gone by seemingly without much fanfare and are definitely of special interest to readers of this column.
Why isn't everyone talking about ENTRAILS OF THE VIRGIN (1986) and ENTRAILS OF A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN (1986)? Am I just a pervert? These sometimes surreal trainwrecks of Japanese depravity are mind-blowingly twisted fun and Synapse's DVDs present them in a way I never thought possible, besting the Japan Shock imports by leaps and bounds. VIRGIN spins a yarn of frequently nude bimbette models and their perpetually horny sleazebag photographers stuck in an isolated cabin and stalked by a hilariously well-endowed demonic humanoid. It's really just an excuse to stuff loads of sexual debauch and ultra-gore into a flimsy framework, but who can argue with that? Certain sequences have reached damn-near legendary status; many claim its highlight is a bit where one deranged gal feverishly pleasures herself with a severed arm, but my personal favorite little piece of insanity is an internal monster-spooge "money shot." No matter how you slice it, this one's twisted. WOMAN ups things somewhat in the plot department, detailing one lady's transformation into a hermaphroditic beastie after being raped and drugged by yakuza henchmen (and henchwoman). Afterwards, she does what new wave Japanese monstrosities do best: hump and dismember anything (animal, vegetable, mineral) in their path. Especially helpful is its four-foot prehensile penis that bites. The presentation of both features is nearly immaculate, showcasing a color palette and level of detail practically unimaginable for these films. By going back to the original negative elements, Synapse also managed to sidestep one case of optical censoring in WOMAN and unveils an amusingly fake fellatio sequence for its first time. The retranslated subtitles are quite literate, and the audio presents no problems. Supplements include trailers, liner notes and exclusive interview segments with the director, which segue into bizarre terrain without hesitation. To top it all off, the explicit menu screens made me laugh out loud.
More Synapse coming soon with reviews of the Australian sex yukfest FANTASM (1976) and its sequel FANTASM COMES AGAIN (1977), the indie comedy THE DELI (1997), the philosophical drama GOD HAS A RAP SHEET (2003) and the recommended stylish martial arts documentary BUDO: THE ART OF KILLING (1982)!
I received a pleasant surprise in my P.O. box the other day -- a new DVD-R release from DJ Speedy's Spacetoonz Media titled ELECTRO EUROTRASH: BLACKGLOVE KILLER THRILLERS. Following hot on the heels of his earlier Italian horror homage, THE COLORS OF DARKNESS, ELECTRO EUROTRASH is an expertly edited montage of giallo footage from over a dozen films scored to some outstanding, foot-thumpin' techno music. Lasting just over a half-hour in length, it works as an imaginative mood piece whose cumulative effect succeeds in capturing the essence of the gialli we love through the different theme of each track, which run from initial arrival to increasing paranoia to eventual murder. A great party disc and a guaranteed repeat viewing, this comes highly recommended. (The DVD is actually free when you purchase its soundtrack CD. Click the link above for details.)
On the other hand, a not-so-pleasant surprise appeared in my P.O. box the other day in the form of Joe Sherlock's BLOODSUCKING REDNECK VAMPIRES (2004). Supposedly a horror comedy, the plot flip-flops between two eventually connecting threads. One details the shenanigans of a backwoods hillbilly clan infiltrated by a gay, French interior decorator, and the other tells of a bitchy vampire princess and her familiar on the lam from a low-budget Van Helsing. In order to battle said slayer, said bloodsucker decides to put the bite on said hillbillies, but they end up whittling down their own numbers in typically retarded redneck ways. Mucho non-hilarity ensues. Overlong at 108 minutes (80 would have been sufficient) and saddled with a script that isn't nearly as witty as it thinks it is, the movie loses further points by utilizing extended, static takes during dialogue passages and staging the majority of its scenes in rather mundane fashion. I won't even discuss the horrid CGI. Granted, some humor can be found from the obnoxious antics of a drunken dwarf and a strip poker scenario featuring an obese, one-eyed woman, but these just aren't enough to warrant a recommendation. Regardless of one's opinions about the film itself, at least its digital rendition, from independent powerhouse Sub Rosa Studio, presents it as nicely as possible. Picture quality for the shot-on-digital video feature is as good as its source allows, though its letterbox framing is non-anamorphic. Supplements include a reasonably informative commentary track detailing the production of a no-budget movie, a behind-the-scenes short, a collection of outtakes, a stills gallery and a few trailers (several of which are Easter Eggs).
After a several year hiatus, Dave Kosanke's Liquid Cheese fanzine is back on the market, with four (!) new issues being made available in the past few months. (And here I am taking over a year with the first issue of my new print 'zine, Cinema Arcana…) Contents are all over the map and include everything from sleaze and horror DVD reviews to wrestling round-ups, porno flicks, metal CDs and concerts, a Fangoria convention pictorial and more. Cost by mail is only a buck ($1), be sure and tell Dave who sent ya'!
Can't get enough THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE (1974)? Me neither, so it's a good thing that director Bo Arne Vibenius and soundtrack composer Ralph Lundsten are going to be self-releasing its moody score on limited edition vinyl and compact disc! Longtime THRILLER fan / friend of "The Cause" David Zuzelo is going to be providing English text and notes for this Swedish issue; I'll announce more details when I get 'em. Be sure and check out Dave's informative essay on the film, located here. Print out a copy and stuff it in your DVD case.
I dream about stuff like this… A few weeks back, Germany's X-Rated Kult Video issued Joe D'amato's EMPEROR CALIGULA: THE UNTOLD STORY (1981) as a two-disc special edition set. This sleazefest has long been a favorite of mine, chronicling the infamous ruler's exploits in a way only D'amato could. David Brandon and Laura Gemser may star, but the show is really propelled by a nonstop slate of anal impalements, baby trampling and hardcore sex. The infamous Pedro the Horse even makes an appearance, in even more outrageous form than the director's mythic EMANUELLE IN AMERICA (1976)! The release includes the English dub track and, even more importantly, it contains an 125-minute version of the film! Just to put this in perspective, the prior "uncut" Dutch tape ran only 104 minutes; that's over 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage! Order it from Xploited Cinema, and tell 'em who sent ya'.
Speaking of Gemser and D'amato, Anchor Bay Entertainment have a sequel to 2003's essential EMANUELLE COLLECTION on the way, featuring the original BLACK EMANUELLE (1975), its mongoose mayhem travelogue sequel, EMANUELLE IN BANGKOK (1976), and the bizzaro EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD (1977). While BANGKOK has some great mondo-esque moments, the latter film wins out for casting Big George Eastman as a communal sex guru! A shame no one has seen fit to license EMANUELLE AND THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE (1978) as it's the rarest of the lot and a complete blast, with its bowling alley kung fu fisticuffs and ample sex. In more news to please Eurotrash fans, Anchor Bay is also working on the early Lucio Fulci giallo-esque thriller ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER / PERVERSION STORY (1969). They're giving it the "Divimax" hi-def treatment, so you can ditch that old Redemption PAL VHS. Homegrown splatter fans will be ecstatic to hear SUPERSTITION (1982) is finally on the way. Easily the best "Possessed Buzzsaw Burrows through a Priest" film ever. Ever. Other recent announcements include William Girdler's midget witch doctor opus THE MANITOU (1978) and Gary Sherman's crazy pimp trash classic VICE SQUAD (1982).
Sticking with the theme, Media Blasters Shriek Show label have acquired a few D'amato items of their own, including the raunchy Caribbean sex epic PORNO HOLOCAUST (1979) and the ultra-sleaze nunsploiter IMAGES IN A CONVENT (1979). For Fulci fans, his psychedelic mystery masterwork LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN (1971) is indeed coming in February with a stunning new transfer right from a negative located deep within MGM's vaults. Additionally, they nabbed his black comedy gorefest TOUCH OF DEATH (1988). As the more savvy may recall, this title was once almost licensed by Synapse, who pulled out when it became clear that the only master to work from was an old videotape! Since then, film elements have apparently been discovered, so Shriek Show promises a new transfer of this gory late entry. The company is also working on a new two-discer of the Maestro's gut-barf bonanza, GATES OF HELL / CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980); I'll be curious to see if it offers an improvement over Anchor Bay's prior edition. Finally, Jeff Lieberman's slaughter-in-the-sticks slasher JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981) will be making its legit DVD debut. I can't wait to see its Oregon scenery properly restored; the old Paragon tape was a little muddy, to say the least. From Media Blasters' Tokyo Shock line look for Ryuhei Kitamura's popular manga adaptation SKY HIGH (2003), Takashi Ishii's recent S&M exercise FLOWER AND SNAKE (2003), the J-Pop biker girl cult oddity KAMIKAZE GIRLS (2004), the cyberpunk freak-out BOTTLED FOOLS / GUSHER NO BINDS ME (2004) and the recent Thai outing THE SISTERS (2004). This last one concerns the gruesome slaughter of a rock band after they discover a ghost in their air conditioner. (Is this a new genre in the making? If so, it may just eclipse Holland's "Haunted Elevator" run a while back as my favorite random movie trend.)
Trying to catch up, new outfit Subversive Cinema have been busy picking up their own slew of mouth-watering titles. '70s grindhouse fans rejoice, as that nasty classic THE CANDY SNATCHERS (1973) is coming to DVD with a transfer pulled right from the original negative! Not bad for a film that's never received a legit home video release anywhere in the world! Also of note is the British plant monster favorite, THE FREAKMAKER / MUTATIONS (1973), Joel M. Reed's rarely seen anthology BLOOD BATH (1976), Geoffrey Wright's ROMPER STOMPER (1993) follow-up METAL SKIN (1994) and the controversial Australian mini-series BLUE MURDER (1995). Expect a review of Subversive's excellent release of Matt Cimber's THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA (1976) in the next few weeks.
That's it for this week; figure it's better to stop now or we'll be here all day!
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Special Thanks to Don Widby for the title suggestion and George R. Reis for the formatting and space. Additional thanks to all of the companies that have provided review materials and promotional goodies. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of DVD Drive-In, so don't complain to George. Suck it up and be a man.
Text © Bruce Holecheck, 2004 - 2005