BLUE ICE (1985) Blu-ray/DVD combo
Director: Phil Marshak
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome dazzles us with BLUE ICE, the final directorial work of Phil Marshak (DRACULA SUCKS) on Blu-ray/DVD combo.

Like many film noir heroes, card dealer Tom Singer (Herschel Savage, PRETTY PEACHES 2) is lured into a deadly plot by the allure of a femme fatale: in this case, the mysterious Messina (Jacqueline Lorians, BLONDE GODDESS), the mistress of high roller Big Man (Jamie Gills, LUSTFUL FEELINGS). When Big Man offers him ten thousand dollars to track down a rare book rumored to be the part of the Book of Revelations that God told John not to record, Singer believes that he is interested in the blue diamonds encrusted into the lid of the book-shaped box. When people around him start to drop dead, Singer discovers that a secret society of Nazis – lead by General Stuttgart (SALEM'S LOT's Reggie Nalder, billed as "Deltaf Van Burg") hiding out in a South American fortress and San Francisco-based one-eyed playboy junior Nazi Manfred (CATACYSM's Richard Bulik billed as "Long Chaney" although he does not participate in the sex scenes) – is also after the book hoping to achieve immortality and take over the world. He also realizes it is really Messina that wants the book for unknown reasons and is using both him and Big Man to get it.

A gorgeously-designed and shot homage to film noir, BLUE ICE is disappointing draggy in between sex scenes with none of the familiar performers coming across with their usual charisma and the script's attempts at wit falling flat. The film is at its best when the camera follows its characters through sets and locations and lingers on the set decoration. As lush as the film looks, the film's best visual asset is Lorians who looks suitably old world glamorous even as the climax takes her and hapless Savage into a mystical netherworld that looks like a disco lightshow with synth accompaniment by Zok Richards (CAREFUL, HE MAY BE WATCHING) and Jacque Martikay (IF MOTHER… ONLY KNEW). Paul Thomas (FANTASY WORLD) plays the part of Singer's loser friend who pays the price for trying to cash in on the lost book himself, Shanna McCullough (XTASY) is Singer's prostitute roommate whose function is to get roughed up and raped (including a facial from Ron Jeremy's slimeball john), Helga Sven (MY SINFUL LIFE's Zsa Zsa) is the Nazi dominatrix, while William Margold (LUST INFERNO) and Francois Papillon (TRASHY LADY) are on hand as depraved Nazi officers. In spite of its shortcomings, the sex is enthusiastic and well-photographed, and the other visuals are captivating to appreciate Marshak's ambitions. Producer Joe Repaso is credited with "additional scenes and dialogue" so it is possible that Marshak did not have control of the final cut, and that the film's narration may have been added to clarify developments rather than a homage to film noir.

Released on VHS and DVD by Caballero, BLUE ICE comes to Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray/DVD combo from a 2K scan of the original 35mm camera negative and the results are gorgeous throughout with good detail in spite of the smoke and other diffusion intended to give the film an Old Hollywood look (despite being in color), with the color blue appropriately popping off the screen when it appears. The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono track is clean and emphasizes the score and dialogue over a rather spare sound design.

The sole extra is an audio commentary by actors William Margold and Herschel Savage that is rowdy and may be a more than a little off-putting as the two plug their radio show and joke through much of the film. Margold has more memories of the film and spends quite a bit of time explaining to Savage the film's story, but Savage does complement Marshak's casting and visuals while suggesting that he spent more money and effort on the sets and props than on the staging of the action. Margold astutely points out the film's homage to KISS ME DEADLY and relates that screenwriter Mark Weiss (SPACE VIRGINS) believed that someone involved with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK might have seen his script (suggesting that it had been making the rounds for a couple years which seems improbably with a porn script). Margold also makes the assertion that the film was funded by one of Marshak's "real life" contacts: actor Nick Mancuso (DEATH SHIP). The combo is packaged with stylish but nondescript artwork on the front cover and the original poster art on the reverse. (Eric Cotenas)