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Arrow Video’s August Releases – Shock Treatment, The Slayer and more!

rsz_shock_treatment_nation_edition_exploded_packThe summer really hots up in August, as Arrow Video releases a white-knuckle thriller, a cult comedy making its worldwide Blu-ray debut, two splatter horror classics, a giallo masterpiece and a rare Italian sword-and-sandal epic.

First up is the long awaited worldwide Blu-ray debut of Shock Treatment, the cult musical comedy written by and starring Richard O’Brien, the legendary creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The lead characters from that film, Brad and Janet, here become involved in a devilishly deviant gameshow, in a film that bills itself as not a sequel… not a prequel… but an equal to Rocky Horror! With a host of fantastic extras, these limited edition ‘Nation’ and ‘Cosmo’ releases come with collector cards and a poster, in superb new packaging.

This month also sees the Dual Format release of the star-studded, action-packed crime thriller Ronin, from master director John Frankenheimer (Seconds, The Manchurian Candidate), starring Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, Heat), Jean Reno (Léon: The Professional) and Sean Bean (Stormy Monday, Game of Thrones). A fantastically entertaining heist-gone-wrong crime caper, featuring one of the greatest car chases ever committed to film, Ronin is presented in a brand new, cinematographer-approved 4K restoration, along with a host of behind the scenes featurettes, with a reversible sleeve, and a collector’s booklet with the first pressing.

rsz_dont_torture_ducklings_flat_rtwfjr6Mid-August onwards sees horror fans spoiled for choice: starting with the Dual Format release of Lucio Fulci’s masterpiece giallo Don’t Torture a Duckling, starring Italian genre stalwarts Tomas Milian and Barbara Bouchet trying to find out who is responsible for a spate of mysterious murders in a sleepy village. Widely regarded as Fulci’s greatest film, the 1972 classic is presented in a High Definition Blu-ray, with a new commentary and interviews, and a collector’s booklet with the first pressing.

Then there is the Dual Format release of controversial splatter classic The Slayer, JS Cardone’s gruesome 80s chiller about a group of friends trapped on a remote island and stalked by a crazed killer. The infamous slasher film, previously only been available on home video in truncated or full screen versions, comes lovingly restored from the original negative, in a stunning transfer that will be a revelation to fans both old and new; and the first pressing includes a collector’s booklet with brand new writing on the film.

rsz_the_slayer_2d_bd_ukAnother splatterific offering coming out on Blu-ray is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Tobe Hooper’s extraordinary 1986 sequel to his seminal horror classic, mixing horror and comedy to splendid effect and featuring the unforgettable sight of Dennis Hopper (Speed, Easy Rider) wielding twin chainsaws. A cult classic in its own right, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 serves up a heady blend of gratuitous gore, socio-political critique and jet-black humour, and is presented in High Definition Blu-ray presentation, from a digital transfer supervised by director of photography Richard Kooris.

At the end of August comes the Dual Format release Erik the Conqueror, a 1961 sword-and-sandal epic from Italian supremo Mario Bava, a rare detour from the master director away from genre thrillers like Rabid Dogs and A Bay of Blood. Inspired by the Kirk Douglas hit The Vikings, this is a tale of treachery, heroism and forbidden love starring George Ardisson (Juliet of the Spirits) in the title role, and Hollywood legend Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace). Restored in high definition for the first time, and packed with extras, as well as a collector’s booklet with the first pressing, this is a must for Bava fans and lovers of spectacular swashbucklers.

Romeo’s Distress (2016) Review

rsz_romeo_official_poster_1_copy_copyRomeo’s Distress (2016)

Director: Jeff Frumess
Writer: Jeff Frumess
Stars: Nick Bohun, Alex Echevarria and Jeff Frumess
Runtime: 82min

Synopsis (from IMDb): “”Romeo’s Distress” is a Weird, Shakespearean, Gothic, Horror-Thriller that tells a story of a boy name James, his unrequited love for a girl named Jane, and her father’s sadistic (yet dutiful) response to it all.”

Heralded as zero budget film making, I just had to have a look at what a $2,500 can get you for a full feature film. Budget aside, we need to have a look at this film on its merits and not rest on the backstory and production to maybe give some leeway.

Romeo’s Distress follows the life of James (Anthony Malchar), a dorky young man, with an unhealthy obsession and a forbidden love for a girl named Jane (Kimberely A. Peterson). In comparison to James, Jane is knockout gorgeous and the problem here is she has no idea who James is. A clichéd plot no doubt but the presentation makes for an interesting watch.

The story is told in smatterings of flashbacks and panicked present day goings on. James’ time inside and outside his home is stressful to watch, his only relief is stalking the unsuspecting Jane and taking unsolicited candid photo’s. But this sort of carry on comes with a price! I don’t want to go into to much more detail as the plot unravels nicely and isn’t just another cookie cutter story about star-crossed lovers.

rsz_screen_shot_2014-09-08_at_102727_amTechnically, the whole thing is put together surprising well, acting is on point and performances are both engaging and entertaining. All considered, if you are fan of independent film then Romeo’s Distress is a master class in shoestring filmmaking. If you’d like to hear the whole story of how this was achieved, check out my chat with Jeff Frumess himself below.

Verdict: Success from Distress
7/10

Interview here with Jeff Frumess on The Bazaar | The Fear Merchant Podcast
https://soundcloud.com/thefearmerchant/e009-jeff-frumess

The Void (2016) Review

rsz_void1THE VOID (Dirs- Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski, CANADA, 2016)

Starring- Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Art Hindle

Out now on Demand + DVD & Blu-Ray from Signature Entertainment.

After making an impression at a series of festival screenings, THE VOID arrives on blu ray and digital download after a very (almost non-existent) cinema release, in what will be a format where it can find a more appreciative audience, as the film harks back to memories of VHS horror flicks and those sort of films you found in the local rental store that had garish hand drawn covers and as a kid you immediately wanted to rent out. The memory of the 80’s genre cinema and creature prosthetics and even the looming influence of John Carpenter, is further emphasised since some of the films influences can be found in his classics THE THING and ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.

rsz_void2Starting off with a bang the film opens with two people running from a farmhouse in terror one of whom is shot down and killed by two strangers who state that the other person “won’t get very far.” Said fleeing injured person runs out onto a road and encounters Sheriff Carter (Poole) who drives the guy to the nearest available hospital, which in turn is closing down after a fire gutted much of its basement and is surviving on a small skeleton crew of doctors and nurses including Carter’s wife Alison (Munroe) who has separated from him since the death of their child during birth. It’s not long before the hospital is under siege from mysterious hooded figures who are intent on not letting anyone escape from the hospital which comes under attack from all manner of messed up creatures. With tempers fraying between Carter and the two men from the start of the film who know more than the staff and become valuable allies, they soon start to realise that the hospital might be the basis for someone or something with a more darker purpose than they imagined.

rsz_void3Gillespie and Kostanski know how to kick off the film in the right way and they keep this energy up throughout the running time almost not letting go of the full throttle pace of the film. Managing to cram small bits of back story of the hospital and the characters, the film maintains its focus on the situation and is blessed with the perfect setting. PRECINCT 13 springs to mind in this aspect of the closing down hospital, a skeleton crew of mismatched individuals some of whom might be a threat, surrounded by a mostly silent enemy. However the extra level of tension is added in that what ever the hooded figures threatening the characters outside is also manifesting itself inside in a much more horrific way and its this concept that allows the true stars of the film to shine or rather spill its guts onto the screen, which is the effects. Both horrifying in an almost surrealist creation of disgust and innovative, the creature effects are superbly done and its a credit to the directors and the effects team to go along with the use of prosthetics. Its no surprise to know that the two directors have backgrounds in art and practical effects on some big budgeted films and that experience has allowed them to bring it to the full in their own picture.

rsz_void4Whilst there are a few cracks in the story and at times background detail seems to be missed, the film runs at a decent pace to almost allow you to forgive some minor plot holes as it’s main focus is on the action and some impressive set pieces. The cast handle the proceedings well, managing to portray convincing normal small town people trapped in an unbelievable situation, particularly Kenneth Welsh as Dr Powell whose brief part leads to a more significant and deciding character that changes and significantly influences the second half of the story. Cult film fans will also recognise Art Hindle star of the 70’s version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and THE BROOD in a small role.

rsz_void5THE VOID is going to go down well with hardcore horror fans and it’s damn enjoyable. Admittedly you can spot the genre references through and through from Carpenter’s aforementioned classics mentioned before to HELLRAISER, with a splattering of THE BEYOND especially in the films final sequence as well. But as genre films go you cannot fault its ambition and drive and the directors have a love and an appreciation of the horror film. It will have any self respecting genre fan loving it’s use of traditional prosthetic effects and watching it with a huge smile on their face, since it has the hallmarks of a cult classic in the making.

8.5/10