Movie Review – Subspecies 2: Bloodstone (1993)

Subspecies 2: Bloodstone – Limited Edition Variant DVD
Directed by Ted Nicolaou
Courtesy of Full Moon Features
Original Year of Release: 1993
DVD Release Date: May 21, 2013

Subspecies-2-Variant-Cover

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of finally watching SUBSPECIES, a classic Full Moon vampire flick starring Anders Hove. I was impressed with the film, and I eagerly awaited the opportunity to watch more in the series (there are four films total, as far as I know). Thankfully, Full Moon recently sent me the second film, SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE. With it came a nice surprise: the limited edition variant DVD cover that is personally signed by the legendary Charles Band and director Ted Nicolaou. As you can see from the image above, this variant contains some excellent artwork, and is a true testament to the legendary Full Moon brand. And as such, it is a fitting cover for this epic follow-up to the first film.

If you are not familiar with SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon:

The centuries-old conflict that has plagued the villages of Transylvania explodes into bloodshed. The mad vampire Radu (ANDERS HOVE) becomes obsessed with Michelle (DENICE DUFF), who loves his half-mortal brother Stefan. In his quest to possess Michelle and the sacred relic, the Bloodstone, Radu destroys Stefan as he sleeps.

Michelle steals the Bloodstone and escapes from Radu’s castle. She finds a lair beneath a theatre in Bucharest and stalks the streets in torment, torn between her fading humanity and her growing thirst for blood. She phones her sister Rebecca (MELANIE SHATNER) and begs her to come to Bucharest to help her. With the aid of Mel Thompson (KEVIN BLAIR) of the US Embassy and Romanian policeman Lt. Marin (ION HAIDUC) she hunts for Michelle in the shadows of the sinister city.

Radu, desperate to regain the Bloodstone, seeks help from his monstrous mother, the ageless sorceress Mummy , who demands the he destroy Michelle before she destroys him. Rebecca becomes Radu’s unwitting pawn in the race to find Michelle and the Bloodstone.

I am impressed with this film for several reasons, but primarily because it literally picks up moments after the end of the first film. Although this film was shot two years after the first was released, the production crew does an amazing job of putting the audience right back into the scene, as if no time had elapsed.

SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE is shot well and looks good onscreen, however I am looking forward to the Blu-ray of this one as well. My Blu-ray player upconverts the DVD a bit, but I would like an even clearer picture. This is really only an issue when the scenes are dark; when they come about, things get kinda grainy. Otherwise, everything looks good.

The acting is once again great, with Anders Hove reprising the role of Radu. Hove is amazing as a vampire, and I have no problem believing he is a centuries old fiend. The role of Michelle, on the other hand, is taken over by Denice Duff, who gives a great performance. She appears to exhibit a nice dramatic range, therefore she’s a nice addition to the cast.

The special effects in SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE look better than those in its predecessor, and there’s even a nice, gory bit at the beginning where the demon-imps reattach Radu’s head to his body. These effects look great and are reminiscent of something John Carpenter wrote up for THE THING. I also like the look of Radu’s mother; she is a grotesque ‘thing’ that will likely pop up in my nightmares sooner or later.

SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE is a big win for me, and I particularly love the variant cover art. I highly recommend this one, and I suggest you snag one of these limited editions while quantities last. They only made 250 signed copies, and I have #4…thus, you’d better get on the ball quickly if you want to have one of these amazing collector’s items for your library. Head over to Full Moon Direct now to order your copy.

MSB

Movie Review – Delirium (2015)

Delirium
Directed by Jared Black
Courtesy of Monarch Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 26, 2015

delirium-web-box

I had no clue what to expect from DELIRIUM when I found it in my mailbox. I had never heard of it before, but the cover art looked cool and the premise was intriguing. I didn’t need much more prompting than that, so I threw it in my player and gave it a look. WOW…call me impressed! This slick, low-budget horror/thriller is well made and very entertaining. And although it is not perfect, it is a heck of a film, and it is one I recommend every horror/thriller fan give a shot!

If you are not familiar with DELIRIUM, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Monarch Entertainment:

After being missing for over a year, Emily returns home… but something came with her. A family struggling with the lack of knowledge about their missing daughter fights to keep her safe. Who can be trusted?

Director Jared Black has a bright future ahead of him if he can keep producing films like this. It is well fleshed out and original, two characteristics that films in the horror genre are slowly losing. With a few more films under his belt, I’ll bet Black becomes a household name in the genre world.

DELIRIUM is shot very well and looks good onscreen for the most part. A few of the darker scenes are sorta grainy, not due in part to lighting but the use of a cheap(er) video camera. This is nothing that detracts from the film as a whole, and I would expect Black will remedy this in the future when better equipment is available.

The acting is really good as well, with Nathan Polzin heading up a nice cast. I am not familiar with the faces in this film, however they all do a great job in their roles, particularly Polzin.

The story in DELIRIUM is the big winner here, but it is also a part of what keeps this from being a perfect film. I know that’s confusing, but just bear with me. The film is a taut and riveting thriller that keeps you guessing…but it also has a very nice twist about halfway through. I found myself smiling after the twist occurred…but then I realized I had paused the film to make sure I knew what was going on. As such, I feel like the twist might have been executed a little too abruptly, and thus it throws the viewer for a loop for a few seconds. You’ll have to see the film to understand where I’m coming from here, and I highly recommend you do.

DELIRIUM is still a big win for me, and I suggest you give it a chance. Dread Central reviewed it and said, “…a chance to rise above and be the next micro-budget film to set the world on fire.” I agree; it’s a great film and showcases director Jared Black’s talents. I truly hope to see more from him in the future. DELIRIUM is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – She Killed in Ecstasy (1970)

She Killed in Ecstasy
Directed by Jess Franco
Courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1970
Blu-ray Release Date: May 12, 2015

She-Killed-Ecstasy-BD

The more of Jess Franco’s films I watch, the more impressed I become. The man had a true eye for cinema. I would have loved to have seen some of his work when it was first released; I can only imagine the response it received. SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is considered one of Franco’s pinnacle works, and I can see why. The film is an exotic, visual feast, and the story is rife with passion and drama. If you’ve never experienced this film before, now is the time to give it a look.

If you are not familiar with SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films:

For his follow-up to VAMPYROS LESBOS, writer/director Jess Franco delivered perhaps his most twisted shocker of the 70s: In what fans and critics consider to be her greatest role, the luscious Soledad Miranda in one of her final performances before her tragic death stars as the vengeful widow who seduces then murders the men and women responsible for her husband’s suicide. Howard Vernon (THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF), Paul Muller (BARBED WIRE DOLLS), Ewa Strömberg (VAMPYROS LESBOS) and Jess himself co-star in this EuroCult classic featuring another epic ‘sexadelic’ lounge score by Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab now remastered in HD and featuring all-new Extras. It’s Franco at his perversely erotic best, like you’ve never seen or heard it before!

The erotic overtones in this film are astounding, but they are not what make it so spectacular. This is a revenge-thriller that allows actress Soledad Miranda to shine and display her superb acting abilities. I’ve read reviews where people didn’t think she portrayed enough emotion in her films; I am the exact opposite. I think she was destined to become a legendary star.

SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is shot very well and is a perfect example of Franco’s unique style of cinema. His use of contrasting colors in his set pieces and costumes help create the mood of his films. Likewise, he has a great eye for lighting, which helps heighten the tone for each scene as well.

The acting is pretty good this time around, much better than in VAMPYROS LESBOS. Miranda once again joins Ewa Stromberg onscreen, and she does a stellar job. The rest of the cast is great, too, including Jess himself who portrays Dr. Donen.

The special effects are lacking, however, and the blood looks like ketchup. I was disappointed there was not more of it, either…especially when Miranda’s character slits throats and castrates the men. I was expecting a veritable bloodbath.

Still, that is my only complaint about SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY. Otherwise, it’s a heck of a film, and fans of Franco should consider this a must-have. The Blu-ray picture looks great and the sound is perfect. Snag the Special Limited 2-Disc Collector’s Edition if you can; in addition to the HD film, it contains several Special Features, including:

DISC 1—
* German Trailer
* Jess Killed In Ecstasy: Interview With Writer/Director Jess Franco
* Sublime Soledad: Interview With Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown
* Stephen Thrower On She Killed In Ecstasy: Interview With Author Of Murderous Passions
* The Delirious Cinema of Jess Franco
* Paul Muller on Jess Franco: Interview With frequent Franco Star
DISC 2—
* Vampyros Lesbos/She Killed In Ecstasy Soundtrack CD

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Society (1989)

Society
Directed by Brian Yuzna
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1989
Blu-ray Release Date: June 9, 2015

society

I’ve been waiting for SOCIETY to hit Blu-ray for many years now. I first saw the film on VHS way back in 1991, when I was a sophomore in high school, and I loved every gory minute of it. But then it fell off the face of the Earth, and I couldn’t find a copy of it anywhere. I hoped it would not be lost to obscurity. Thankfully, the fine folks at Arrow Video and MVD teamed up to give this classic its due, and the result is a superb Blu-ray set that should top every Must Have List for 2015.

If you are not familiar with SOCIETY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video:

IT IS A MATTER OF GOOD BREEDING. REALLY.
After producing Stuart Gordon’s hit Re-Animator, Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead III) turned his hand to directing with 1989’s Society, and gave birth to one of the ickiest, most original body horror shockers of all time. Teenager Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) has always felt like the odd one out in his wealthy, upper-class Beverly Hills family. For some reason, he just doesn’t seem to fit in. But his sense of alienation takes a sinister turn when he hears an audio recording of his sister’s coming-out party, which seems to implicate his family and others in a bizarre, ritualistic orgy. And then there are the strange things he’s been seeing – glimpses of people with their bodies contorted impossibly out of shape… Is Bill going mad or is there something seriously amiss in his neighborhood? Packing stomach-churning grue and thought-provoking social commentary in equal measure, Society is a biting horror satire which culminates in one of the most gag-inducing “climaxes”‘ in all of horror history. Limited edition digi-pak packaging includes a comic book.

If you have never seen this film, you are in for a visual treat. It features practical effects that pushed the limits of technology for its day. This is really saying something, and you will truly appreciate the effort the production team put in when you see them. Some are just downright vomit-inducing.

SOCIETY is shot well and looks great onscreen. This is due in part to the 2k digital transfer that director Brian Yuzna personally approved. The HD is excellent, and the film looks like it could have been shot yesterday. The sound is solid as well, giving us the original 2.0 uncompressed audio on the Blu-ray. I was wondering how that would stack up to the 5.1 surround sound audiences are used to these days, but my doubts were unfounded; the sound is great and is a perfect companion to the HD picture.

The acting is top notch as well, with Billy Warlock giving a great performance as the lead. He is supported by a slew of talent, including Patrice Jennings, who plays his sister, Jenny; Ben Slack, who portrays Dr. Cleveland; David Wiley, who shines as Judge Carter; and Ben Meyerson, who plays the jerk Ferguson. The whole cast does a fine job of working together, and the results pay off onscreen.

The special effects in SOCIETY are superb. There’s plenty of crazy gore to go around, too. In fact, there are literally roomfuls of it. You’ll have to watch the film to understand what I mean, but let’s just say you probably won’t want to eat prior to watching the film.

SOCIETY is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who is a fan of horror and/or gore. This bizarre trek into the surreal will have you chuckling and cringing, and it is a good bet you’ll never look at the rich the same way again. In addition to amazing packaging (see the picture above for the cover), this Blu-ray also features:

* Newly remastered 2K digital transfer of the film, approved by director Brian Yuzna
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
* Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
* Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
* Brand new audio commentary by Yuzna
* Governor of Society – a brand new interview with Yuzna
* The Masters of the Hunt – a brand new featurette including interviews with stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell
* The Champion of the Shunt – new featurette with FX artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson
* 2014 Q&A with Yuzna, recorded at Celluloid Screams Festival
* Brian Yuzna in conversation backstage at the Society world premiere
* ’Persecution Mania’ – Screaming Mad George music video
* Limited Edition Digipak packaging featuring newly-commissioned artwork by Nick Percival
* Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
* Society: Party Animal [Limited Edition Exclusive] – the official comic sequel to Society, reproduced in its entirety in a perfect-bound book

The film will be released next week, so make a note.

MSB

Book Review – Monster by Keith Ferrario

Monster
by Keith Ferrario
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: April 7, 2015

monster

With a title like MONSTER, one would expect the book to be filled with horrific images of creatures from our nightmares and gruesome deaths at their hands. Interestingly, author Keith Ferrario’s latest release from Samhain Publishing titled as such offers none of these. Granted, the novel does have a strange creature, but it is far from monstrous, as are its actions. This by itself does not ruin the book, however when it is combined with the misleading title and a couple of other aspects, the result is only a mediocre read.

If you are not familiar with MONSTER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:

Adam Hayes pilots a small team to a remote Antarctic research station. Their mission: to investigate the loss of communications. Once there, the group of five find the station deserted, the radio smashed, and several strange piles of empty clothing. Forced to stay the night by a blinding snowstorm, they set out to solve the mystery of the missing crew. Eventually they will learn the horrifying truth—the station is not empty after all, and something unimaginable, dug up from the deep ice, roams the complex. Now they must fight for their lives against a cunning, thinking monster—and those who would unleash this terror on the rest of the world.

Don’t get me wrong: this not a bad book. It’s an ok novel that simply does not stand out for any reason. It could be a very good book…if it were split into two separate entities. Let me explain.

MONSTER is separated into two sections, Part 1 and Part 2. Both are written well and flow at a nice clip whenever considered individually. However, both also read like two different stories. Part 1 takes place in 1991 Antartica. Part 2 takes place 12 years later, halfway around the globe. Spacing the story out like this doesn’t necessarily kill it, however it slows the pacing down considerably because each Part contains two sets of characters. This means creating backstories and whatnot for each set, and therefore squashing the tone already set by the previous chapters.

Similarly, the story itself shifts dramatically between the two Parts as well. Part 1 is a tense, adrenaline-fueled battle for survival in the coldest region of the world. Part 2, on the other hand, is a slow-burning mystery-thriller. I would have preferred a continuation of the Antartica storyline, however a solid piece of either one would have been nice.

Still, Ferrarios’ writing style flows well and his concepts are wild and imaginative. The characters are well-written and fleshed out to the point of realism. The overarching storyline in MONSTER is interesting and compelling, and it could have been very chilling if it had played out a little differently.

MONSTER is not great, but it’s not terrible either. I recommend it if you’re looking for something quirky that is not necessarily horror, so much as a mystery thriller. The book is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Asylum (2015)

Asylum
Directed by Todor Chapkanov
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: June 2, 2015

asylum-dvd

I’ve mentioned before how much I love the After Dark Originals brand from Lionsgate. The films are usually fun, and some are just downright awesome. The series’ latest release, ASYLUM, puts me in an odd position, however. I can’t really decide which side of the fence I am on in regard to it. Part of me loved it, but another part of me didn’t like it at all. In short, I’m conflicted, and I don’t think this is going to resolve itself anytime soon.

If you are not familiar with ASYLUM, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

A veteran hostage negotiator’s next call leads him to an overrun insane asylum. He soon finds that dark forces are pushing the patients to commit atrocities, and that he may be the only that can stop them.

First off, the description for this film is very misleading. Yes, that is the basis for the plot…but for the movie WITHIN the movie. Let me explain: the plot above is for a film that was shot in another country, and it is the film that two editors in the outer movie are watching while they comment on it. Basically, this is sort of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 setup. The outer film is very campy and comedic, while the actual horror film seems to be dark and serious. This contrast is one of the reasons I disliked the film overall.

The inner film (the actual ASYLUM movie) is shot well for the most part and looks nice and dark onscreen. The outer film looks more like a home movie, and its picture quality is not as good. Once again, this contrast throws the production value off as a whole, and the resulting product does not look as professional as it could have.

One major drawback of the inner film is that it is not complete. This is done on purpose, as the editors are supposedly watching the footage to splice it together (even though it already is), but it really detracts from the film experience. There are several scenes where wording pops up on the screen to note missing visual effects or whatnot, but I really did not like this; it took me completely out of the viewing experience for both films.

If you look at ASYLUM as a horror-comedy or as a MST3K spin-off, it almost works. I actually chuckled at the editors dialogue a couple of times because they were spot on with their comical assessment of the movie’s situation. But if you look at this is being a true horror film (which, honestly, is what the plot synopsis advertises this as), then it fails miserably. The inner film could actually be relevant as a decent horror flick, but only if it wasn’t attached to the outer film.

Overall, I’m still torn on this one, and as such, I can’t recommend it in good conscience. If I had known it was horror-comedy going into it, my perception would would have been different and therefore my feelings would have been, too. But since I was expecting an actual horror flick, I can’t say this one succeeds.

The film is available now in a variety of formats if you want to check it out.

MSB