Blu-ray Movie Review – Fairy Tales (1978)

Fairy Tales
Directed by Harry Hurwitz (as Harry Tampa)
Courtesy of Full Moon Features
Original Year of Release: 1978
Blu-ray Release Date: August 18, 2016

Fairy-Tales-blu-ray-cover

I’m going to start off by stating this up front: if you’ve never experienced this FAIRY TALES film, then you MUST buy it immediately and watch it. The movie is a raunchy musical-comedy that entertains on several levels, and it does not disappoint when it comes to fun. I first saw this back in the late 80s, courtesy of Joe Bob Briggs Drive-In Theater, and I loved it. Of course, I was a teen back then, so I loved ANYTHING with nudity. But despite the nice scenery, FAIRY TALES is chocked full of wildly vivid characters, gut-busting humor, and even some cult-classic musical numbers that will haunt your mind for years to come (I can still sing Little Bo Peep’s song, word for word!). The result is a great flick that offers hours of entertainment.

If you are not familiar with FAIRY TALES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon Features:

Restored from its original 35mm negative, and released on Blu-ray, Fairy Tales is a titillating delight from the legendary Charles Band (Cinderella). Someday, her prince will COME! Little Bo Peep, Old King Cole, Little Tommy Tucker, Snow White, and many others, have all grown up and are ready for action! These enchanting characters from beloved nursery rhymes sing, dance, lust, and romance their way through this hilarious, naughty, and twisted tale where music, mirth, and merriment are the rule of the day. In a clothing optional land of make believe where everything is possible! See “Scream Queen” Linnea Quigley star in her first feature role in this erotic musical funfest!!

One of the reasons this film is so much fun is due to the fact that legendary filmmaker Charles Band produced it. I’ve sung Band’s accolades for years, and I still owe him a debt of gratitude for making so many films that helped me through my adolescent years. I’m not sure how involved he was with the making of this film, but I’ll bet he had a definitive hand in it.

FAIRY TALES is very dated, which is evident from the costumes and the dialogue, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun. For example, Sy Richardson plays the pimp, Sirus, who showed The Little Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe how to turn her daughters for tricks. Sirus’ dialogue is riotous and filled with slang from that particular time period. BUT IT WORKS! For some reason, it really clicks with the setting and the scenes, making them hilarious to both watch and hear.

The rest of the cast does a great job as well. Don Sparks gives an interesting performance as the oblivious Prince, while Angela Aames shines as the perky Little Bo Peep. Scream-queen Linnea Quigley even makes her film debut here, as the Dream Girl the Prince lusts after. But, by far my favorite performance is given by Robert Staats, who plays Tommy Tucker, the Shoe of Pleasure’s doorman/pitchman. Staats gives amazing life to the role, and I cackled at each scene in which he appeared.

The HD restoration of the film looks amazing. As I mentioned, I saw this back in the day, and it was a grainy mess. But thanks to the enhancements, the picture is crisp and the colors are vibrant. Likewise, the sound is impressive, too. Now, viewers can enjoy the crazy soundtrack in stereo!

FAIRY TALES is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. It’s a campy, dirty take on Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and it is tons of fun. Just make sure you’re not offended by nudity; if you are, steer clear. But if you can look past it, then you’re in for a treat.

MSB

Book Review – In Search of Lost Films by Phil Hall

In Search of Lost Films
By Phil Hall
Publisher: BearManor Media
Release Date: August 8, 2016

in-search-of-lost-films-197x300

I’ve been a big movie buff for most of my life. One of my earliest memories involves watching Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK in the theater, waaaaay back in the day. Furthermore, MANY of my memories from later in my youth pertain to movies in some form or fashion. Some might view this as sad, as a childhood wasted inside a darkened theater; but some would be wrong. I spent PLENTY of time outside, however I rarely turned down the opportunity to go see a movie.

This passion for celluloid has followed me well into my adult life, and as a result, I’ve turned into a collector of films. I particularly enjoy looking for rare and out-of-print titles, and I have often had success in locating several on my list. But even so, there are several “Holy Grails” of the film world, treasures so rare they are almost priceless. Further still are those titles deemed lost to the ages, films spoken of only in past tense.

IN SEARCH OF LOST FILMS takes a candid look at many of these legendary films, and author Phil Hall gives an accounting for the history and myths behind them. The result is a captivating read that every fan of the cinema should enjoy.

If you are not familiar with IN SEARCH OF LOST FILMS, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of BearManor Media:

It is one of the most astonishing facts of cinema history: an extraordinary number of important films are believed to be lost forever. Spanning from the early days of the silent movies to as late as the 1970s and touching all corners of the global film experience, groundbreaking works of significant historical and artistic importance are gone. Cinema icons including Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Oscar Micheaux and Vincente Minnelli are among those impacted by this tragedy, and pioneering technological achievements in color cinematography, sound film technology, animation and widescreen projection are among the lost treasures. How could this happen? And is it possible to recover these missing gems? In this book, noted film critic and journalist Phil Hall details circumstances that resulted in these productions being erased from view. For anyone with a passion for the big screen, In Search of Lost Films provides an unforgettable consideration of a cultural tragedy.

IN SEARCH OF LOST FILMS is not just a nonfiction book about movies that have disappeared. It is a glimpse into a critical piece of American history. Reading this book is the equivalent of opening a time capsule; there’s a treasure trove of legacy behind the items in it.

The book is written well, in a straight-forward and easy-to-read manner. Hall presents his findings in regard to each title, but he does not hesitate to include the history of the times around each movie. This gives the reader a deeper feeling of sentiment for each, and it creates a bond that ties the reader to them as well.

The book’s chapters break down the lost films into time periods. Starting off with the “silent” years, the book progresses through the age of talkies and into the modern era of filmmaking. There’s also a section for lost segments of film (missing pieces of existing films); I found this one very enlightening, as I had no idea what had been lacking in certain titles.

In an age of abundant information resources (i.e. the Internet), I’m glad to see even more mysteries reaching resolution. As sad as it is to read about the fate of some of these mythical films, I am glad they can finally be put to rest, at least. IN SEARCH OF LOST FILMS is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Basket Case 2 & Basket Case 3: The Progeny

Basket Case 2 & Basket Case 3: The Progeny
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Courtesy of Synapse Films & CAV Distribution:
Original Year(s) of Release: 1990 & 1991
Release Date: August 9, 2016

Basket-Case-2-Blu-ray-01

basket case 3

I don’t usually review multiple movies in the same post unless they are in a set, however this time I’m going to make an exception. BASKET CASE 2 and BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY are not being re-released in a set, but they do go hand-in-hand and are experienced best if watched back to back. Thus, I’m going to break the norm and review them together.

Director Frank Henenlotter is responsible for a couple of my favorite films from the 80s and 90s, particularly BRAIN DAMAGE and FRANKENHOOKER. These films are strange, darkly comedic, and gory, and I love ‘em. But for a long while, they were the only Henenlotter films I was familiar with. So when I first heard Synapse and CAV were releasing the second and third entries in the BASKET CASE trilogy on Blu-ray, I jumped at the chance to watch them. I had seen a previous DVD release of the third film, but I wanted to check them all out in HD, not to mention see what I missed in part 2.

I was not disappointed, either.

Both films are wildly entertaining, and the HD updates do them a world of justice. I highly recommend them to any horror fan who enjoys zany, gory fun.

If you are not familiar with BASKET CASE 2 or BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY, here are their plot synopses courtesy of Synapse Films & CAV Distribution:

Basket Case 2

Duane Bradley and his surgically-separated twin brother Belial return in this frightfully gory follow-up to Frank Henenlotter’s original monster movie classic, BASKET CASE. After surviving a fall from a hospital window, the two brothers become media targets. Duane’s aunt, Granny Ruth (played by world-famous Jazz singer Annie Ross), whisks the duo away to a secluded mansion, where other freaks-in-hiding live out their days away from public scrutiny. When a snooping tabloid reporter finds the location of the mutants, Duane and his new family must stand together to keep their freedom a secret. And, in all the chaos, Belial might actually find true love! Synapse Films is proud to present BASKET CASE 2 in a beautiful high-definition transfer from the original 35mm camera negative.

Basket Case 3: The Progeny

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY! He’s back. He’s bad. And, he’s a dad! Belial, everyone’s favorite beast-in-a-basket, is back in this sensational third film in the wildly macabre BASKET CASE horror series.

After being separated again from his conjoined twin brother Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck), Belial finds out he’s going to be a deformed daddy! Mrs. Belial (“Eve”, played by Denise Coop) delivers a litter of bouncing baby monsters, but the blessed event turns into a nightmarish ordeal when the police kidnap the little critters. They should know it’s not safe to anger Belial! Attacking the cops in a climactic, gory rampage, everyone’s favorite mutant mauler stops at nothing to get his newborns back! Synapse Films is proud to present BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY in a beautiful high-definition transfer from original 35mm vault materials.

I’m very surprised the infamous Charles Band from Full Moon Features was not involved with the making of these films. The concept and even the execution of the films seem right up his alley.

BASKET CASE 2 and BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY are both shot well and look good onscreen. The HD transfers for both are excellent; the picture quality is top notch and the colors really burst. Additionally, the sound quality is great as well.

The acting in both films is decent, although let’s face it: you’re not going to watch either film for stellar theatrical performances. No, the main focal point here are the hideous deformities shown on the Blu-ray covers. Much like a carnival sideshow, these beasties will give you plenty of reasons to stare.

The special effects are very good, and I particularly like how realistic the creatures are for the most part. Granted, it’s sometimes obvious they are puppets, but the effects crew still does a great job of blending them in to the scene and making them look alive.

Of the two films, I would have to say BASKET CASE 2 is my favorite. The third film is almost too campy for me, whereas part two comes across as more serious. Well, as serious as a film like this can be, of course.

BASKET CASE 2 and BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY are both big wins for me, and again, I recommend them to anybody looking for a weirdly entertaining time. Each film is available now, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Der Bunker (2016)

Der Bunker
Directed by Nikias Chryssos
Courtesy of Artsploitation Films
Release Date: August 23, 2016

der-bunker-blu

When it comes to quirky films, few directors can pull them off with finesse and ease. Many times, such movies are not written well, therefore they fall flat and just wind up in mediocrity-hell. But every now and then, a film comes along that surprises and entertains, yet still falls a bit short of being great. This is the state in which I have to categorize DER BUNKER. While I found it fun and entertaining for the most part, I felt a pang of disappointment as the film ended; not because it was over, but because so much was left unfinished. The result has left me on the fence about my perception of the movie and how to describe it.

If you are not familiar with DER BUNKER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Artsploitation Films:

With his surrealistic and dark, yet strangely heart-warming approach towards an unusual family’s world, DER BUNKER’s director, Nikias Chryssos, may well be the nephew of John Waters and the illegitimate son of David Lynch and Luis Buñuel. A student rents a windowless room in a bunker home nestled deep within a forest. Here, instead of finding tranquility for his studies, the young man becomes increasingly involved in the dramas of his landlord’s family. They include the stern father, his wife (whose swollen leg almost takes a life of its own) and their precocious 8-year-old son Klaus who, despite being German and “learning-challenged,” is being home-groomed to become the President of the United States. Initially friendly and welcoming, the situation becomes increasingly bizarre. A funny, visually arresting and a bit unsettling modern fairy tale.

I hate to say anything negative about this film, as it has a lot of heart and intelligence. But in the end, I watch films for entertainment and do NOT base my opinions on artistic merit. I know some reviewers put stock into that, but I do not for the most part.

DER BUNKER is shot very well and looks great onscreen. I like how “homey” the underground dwelling is made to look; in many scenes, you cannot tell the family is underground at all.

The acting is great, with Daniel Fripan stealing the show as Klaus, the 8-year old who is being groomed for our next President. Fripan is actually a 30+ year-old man, and he definitely looks it. The absurdity of such a casting choice is perfect here, and it makes the ridiculousness of the plot even more fun. Fripan is joined by Pit Bukowski, who portrays his “mentor”. I previously saw Bukowski in DER SAMURAI, another Artsploitation feature. Bukowski once again does a fantastic job with his role.

The story in DER BUNKER is where I have issues. Granted, films of this nature don’t have to have much of a plot per se to be fun…but this one actually opens several subplots that it never finishes. If such effort is going to be put into them (as you will see), I feel like I need to have more information to finish them out. Instead, we are left hanging. **SPOILER ALERT** (stop reading here if you do not want to know plot-points). For example, the alien living in Klaus’ mom’s leg is never fleshed out (sorry for the pun), nor is anything ever explained about it. Why even bring it up? Also, the ending is too bizarre for me. Why do Klaus’ mom and dad not go after him? What 8-year old boy can fend for himself in the world?

But with these issues aside, I did enjoy DER BUNKER overall, so I suppose I can recommend it. If you’re looking for sensibility, however, I would step past this one. Otherwise, strap on your crash-helmet and settle in for a weird ride.

MSB

TV Show Review – NCIS, Season 13

NCIS: Season 13
Courtesy of CBS Television Studios
Release Date: August 23, 2016

NCIS-Season-13-DVD-Cover-1

I haven’t been watching NCIS long, but it is definitely one of those shows I love to binge-watch. I can sit down and watch a whole season over a weekend. I can never catch the show on primetime, though, so I was excited to hear about the thirteenth season coming to DVD. And just as I had hoped, the show does not disappoint. Season 13 amps up the intensity, and the result is a crazy-fun season full of twists, turns, and surprises.

If you are not familiar with NCIS, here is the series’ plot synopsis courtesy of CBS:

Dive into the newest, thrilling episodes of the #1 drama series on television when NCIS: THE THIRTEENTH SEASON arrives on DVD packed with exclusive special features fans will love. Led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the NCIS team continues to investigate all crimes with NAVY or Marine Corps ties, from murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines. The popular ensemble cast also includes Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette, Rocky Carroll, Brian Dietzen, David McCallum, and Emily Wickersham.

The six-disc collection of NCIS: THE THIRTEENTH SEASON features all 24 episodes and includes a wide array of bonus features. As long-time star Michael Weatherly takes his final bow, The Definitive DiNizzo featurette includes special tributes to the actor from the cast, producers, and crew. The explosive special feature BOOM dives into all the action with a special look at some of the unforgettable explosions that take pace in the series. To celebrate the tremendous success of NCIS, Celebrating 300 features commentary from the cast and crew on filming 300 episodes. Heroes’ Song goes behind the scene of the 300th episode, “Scope,” which features a special appearance from the MusiCorps and guest star Taye Diggs. Last, Crossing Over: A Look at “Sister City” profiles the special two-hour episode when the NCIS cast meets the stars of NCIS: New Orleans.

I am quite impressed with how fresh the writers keep the show after all these years. I was concerned the plotlines would start getting stale after a while, but they never do.

Season 13 is shot well, and each episode is meticulously crafted with care. I like the cohesion of the content; you’re never starting an episode in left field, having no clue what’s going on. The episodes blend together nicely, offering a satisfying and rewarding entertainment experience.

True to form, the acting is great once again. The cast meshes well and gives believable performances. I never have to suspend belief in order to get into a particular portrayal. I am sad to see Michael Weatherly departing the show, but I hope they can reintegrate him into future episodes from time-to-time somehow.

NCIS is like comfort food for the mind. Regardless of what you have going on in life, you can sit down, watch a few episodes, and feel better about yourself. I loved season 13, and I highly recommend it. If you’re new to NCIS, work your way up to this one quick…you won’t regret it. The thirteenth season hits store shelves tomorrow, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 23, 2016

the-huntsman-winters-war-blu-ray-angle-600px-442x600

I love movies and books that take an existing legend or story and add new depth to it. So when I heard about the “retelling” of Snow White in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, I was very intrigued. After all, my generation grew up with Disney’s version of her story, therefore I figured a new twist would be a nice change.

Interestingly, I didn’t find the updated tale as likeable as I had hoped. Perhaps the casting choice to use Kristen Stewart threw me off (I like her, but I’m not convinced she was right for the role), or maybe the story was too drastically different from Walt’s vision; whatever the case, I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would.

So when the announcement was made about a sequel/prequel, I was skeptical. Would my experience be the same with this new film? I wasn’t sure if I should even give it a chance, however I hate leaving anything undone (particularly not finishing movies or TV shows)…so with a bit of trepidation, I sat down to watch THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR.

I’m very happy to report this film far exceeds its predecessor. It does not take itself quite as serious as the first film, and the result is a much improved entertainment experience.

If you are not familiar with THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment:

If it’s the Snow White tale you’re looking for, discover the story that came before… Chris Hemsworth and Oscar winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in the epic action-¬adventure The Huntsman: Winter’s War, joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. Theron stars as evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her good sister Freya (Blunt) with an unforgiveable act, freezing Freya’s heart to love and unleashing in her an icy power she never knew she possessed. As war escalates between the two queens, Eric the Huntsman (Hemsworth), and his fellow warrior, Sara (Chastain), must help Freya vanquish her sister… or Ravenna’s wickedness will rule for eternity.

My wife even enjoyed this film, and she can be very difficult to please when it comes to fantasy films. She has more of a serious-toned view on the genre, therefore she will not tolerate much (if any) hokiness. The fact that she had a good time watching this one is a testament to the quality of the film.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR is shot very well and looks stunning onscreen. The HD bursts from the screen like a paint-shop explosion, creating a realistic and immersive world in which the story takes place. Likewise, the sound quality is excellent; it pushed my surround sound to its limits, and I loved every minute of it.

The acting is superb, with a stellar all-star cast. Chris Hemsworth once again dons the mantle of The Huntsman, however this time he seems more at ease than he did in the previous film. Granted, the circumstances within the story are quite a bit different, but I felt like Hemsworth enjoyed making this film more than the last, for some reason. Charlize Theron revels in her role as Queen Ravenna, while Emily Blunt shines as her sister Freya. Likewise, Jessica Chastain rounds out this great group of actors.

The story in THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR is a tad more complex than that of SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN. It’s a bit of a prequel and a sequel, all rolled into one. This makes the movie more interesting, however it can also throw the viewer for a loop as well; in some parts of the film, a lack of attention can cause for confusion.

But THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR is a definite win for me, and I highly recommend it. Chocked full of breathtaking imagery and a keen sense of self, this film entertains on several levels. It will hit store shelves next week, so make a note.

Be sure to check out the 4K Ultra HD as well. The picture is sharper and more vibrant, and the audio quality is even better than real life! Special Features include:

• Digital Copy of The Huntsman: Winter’s War – Extended Version (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
• Includes UltraViolet (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
• Gag Reel
• Winter’s Vistas: The Making Of The Huntsman: Winter’s War
• Feature Commentary with Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
• Feature Commentary With Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

The 4K and Blu-ray versions include Special Features not available on the DVD:

• Two Queens and Two Warriors featurette
• Meet the Dwarfs featurette
• Magic All Around featurette

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Microwave Massacre (1983)

Microwave Massacre
Directed by Wayne Berwick
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1983
Blu-ray Release Date: August 16, 2016

Microwave-Massacre-Blu-ray-02

I was very excited to hear Arrow and MVD were teaming up to release MICROWAVE MASSACRE. This is another one of those films I had heard about for years, but never found it on VHS (or DVD for that matter) to watch. I’m happy to report the film is just as much fun as I hoped it would be. Full of quirky humor, abysmal special effects, and some of the finest cardboard acting you’ll ever see, MICROWAVE MASSACRE is a B-Horror Movie fan’s dream!

If you are not familiar with MICROWAVE MASSACRE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

THEY CAME FOR DINNER…TO FIND THEY WERE IT!!

Microwave Massacre stars legendary stand-up comedian and actor Jackie Vernon (the voice of Frosty the Snowman from the beloved animated Rankin / Bass classic animated holiday special) as Donald, a disgruntled construction worker whose wife s predilection for haute cuisine drives him to cannibalism.
Donald unwittingly stumbles upon a solution to his two major problems in his life his nagging wife and his lack of tasty meals when, one night, he bludgeons his better half to death with a pepper grinder in a drunken rage. Thinking on his feet, Donald dismembers the body and sets about microwaving the remains, which turn out to be rather delicious. Trouble is, now he’s got a taste for human flesh that needs satisfying…

Eschewing all notions of good taste, Wayne Berwick s Microwave Massacre is a deliciously depraved exercise in political incorrectness that has gone on to gain a cult following thanks to a characteristically deadpan performance from lead Vernon, who delivers such choice lines as “I’m so hungry I could eat a whore.” Vegetarians need not apply!

This is definitely one of those “so-bad-it’s-good” films, so don’t expect anything less going into it. But sit back and prepare to be entertained…this is a film I guarantee you’ll watch more than once.

MICROWAVE MASSACRE is shot plainly but efficiently. There’s no outstanding cinematography; the camera is just there to capture the story. This is not a negative at all, but I don’t want any viewers setting their expectations high in the production department. Likewise, the production value appears very low. I would wager the biggest expense this film incurred was on catering for the cast and crew.

The acting is atrocious, but it’s also a big part of what makes this movie so much fun. Comedian/actor Jackie Vernon gives a slooooooow-going performance as the main character, Donald. The snail-speed delivery of his lines made me want to finish them for him in many cases. But I couldn’t keep from laughing as well. His “every man” persona fit perfectly for the character; I don’t think I could see anybody else playing that role.

The gore in MICROWAVE MASSACRE is cheesy but effective. I particularly enjoyed the decomposing (supposedly) head of Donald’s wife that he keeps in the freezer. It looks somewhat realistic, but it’s certainly creepy nonetheless!

A DVD copy of this film touts it as the worst horror movie ever made (see the pic below if you don’t believe me), and while I would argue that, it’s certainly up there with the-best-of-the-worst. And that is definitely a good thing.

microwave2

MICROWAVE MASSACRE will make an excellent addition to your horror library, and it will provide numerous hours of fun. This is one of those films you want to watch with a group of friends, just so everybody can pick it apart.

In addition to the film, the Blu-ray features Special Edition contents that include:

• Brand new 2K restoration of the original camera negative
• High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray (Region A) and Standard Definition (480p) DVD (Region 1) presentations
• Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary with writer-producer Craig Muckler moderated by Mike Tristano
• Brand new making-of featurette including interviews with Muckler, director Wayne Berwick and actor Loren Schein
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork to be revealed

***First pressing only: fully-illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower

The film hits stores tomorrow, so make a note!

MSB

Book Review – Trisomy XXI by G. A. Minton

Trisomy XXI
By G. A. Minton
Courtesy of World Castle Publishing
Release Date: June 6, 2016

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00001]

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I have to say: TRISOMY XXI has cover art that sucked me in like a moth to a flame. It is exactly the type of imagery that draws me to cheesy horror flicks and B-grade comics. Unfortunately, the book itself is not nearly as good as its artwork. I found myself vastly disappointed with the story and its conclusion, and although it has potential, the execution lacks quite a bit. The resulting read is not one I can recommend.

If you are not familiar with TRISOMY XXI, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of World Castle Publishing:

Sixteen-year-old Joshua Allen was born with an extra chromosome-a genetic aberration known as Trisomy XXI, or Down Syndrome. A serious accident leaves the mentally-challenged adolescent in a coma at the hospital, where he receives a mysterious injection that endows him with supernatural powers. The transformed teen is linked to a string of bizarre, unexplained deaths in town that have both the sheriff and the coroner baffled. A ghastly creature from another planet lands on Earth and begins its hunt for the teenager-viciously slaughtering anyone in its path in order to complete its deadly mission. The salvation of an entire race of aliens is in the balance, as Joshua and his friends are thrown into a horrific life-and-death struggle with the seemingly indestructible extraterrestrial being. TRISOMY XXI provides an epicurean feast of horror, science fiction, and mystery-all seasoned with a pinch of humor that will satiate the appetite of even the most gourmet of readers. If the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Michael Crichton were ever to have collectively penned a spine-tingling tale of horror, this would be it! Delivering a roller-coaster ride full of thrills for its unsuspecting audience, TRISOMY XXI will intrigue every intelligent reader with its alluring array of unforeseen twists and turns. Packed with tension and excitement, this chimeric version of Alien meets The Thing is a powerful story that is guaranteed to capture your immediate attention. You won’t be able to put this book down!

I always feel bad when I have to give a negative review, particularly because I am an author myself, and I know how it feels to have your work critiqued. It is never easy to put yourself out there in the public eye for criticism, however every author or filmmaker has to accept that when they present their work for review. As such, I find it my responsibility to give truthful responses to such work, whether they be good or bad responses. With that being said, I never aim any of my criticism at the author…it is solely director toward his or her work ONLY.

TRISOMY XXI is not written well and reads like a junior high student’s attempt at writing fiction. I found way too much exposition in the writing, almost to the point of absurdity at times. Whereas many authors write minimally and let the readers fill in the blanks, this book overloads the reader with detail and bogs down the narrative. This took me completely out of the story at regular intervals and made for a boring reading experience.

Likewise, the writing is aggravating in the way it approaches certain subjects within the story. For example, the author spends almost two whole pages discussing how foul-mouthed a particular character is…but this has nothing to do with the story at all. Not to mention, the character says nothing very offensive, other than a single mention of the word ‘pussy’. Everything else is about as tame as what you’d find in a middle school library.

The writing style also reaches a level of annoyance with the author’s use of flagrant adjectives. Yes, using such words helps illustrate the characters, scenes, settings, and such…but the author uses them to the point of exasperation. In several instances, he tries to use different words to describe the same thing, over and over and over. Also, instead of simply saying things like “the boy”, numerous adjectives are used instead, such as “the Down Syndrome boy”, “the Trisomy XXI boy,” the mentally challenged boy”, etc., etc. This wouldn’t be such a major thing, but it is in every section, even when there’s only one boy around. This in-your-face “finger-pointing” gets in the way of the story and once again bogs it down.

The story itself is interesting and could very easily be a horrifying and inventive journey. But the negatives far outweigh the positives here, and the originality of the tale is lost amidst a flurry of over-exhaustive writing.

TRISOMY XXI is a letdown for me, and I cannot recommend it. This is a good example of where the author tries to do too much for the reader and, in the end, ruins the reading experience. Less is more in some cases, and in writing it is definitely a rule to follow. TRISOMY XXI is available now in a variety of formats, should you decide to give it a look.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Zombie Holocaust / Doctor Butcher, M.D. (1980)

Zombie Holocaust / Doctor Butcher, M.D.
Directed by Marino Girolami
Courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1980
Blu-ray Release Date: July 26, 2016

(This Blu-ray features reversible artwork, one side for each film)

Zombie-Holocaust-Blu-ray

Dr-Butcher-BD-WITH-CASE-1

ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is a film that’s been on my radar for many, many years. I remember seeing the VHS cover long ago, when I first started watching horror flicks (this would have been around 1983 or so), but I never had the chance to give it a look. That’s a shame, too… ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is schlocky by today’s standards, but back then I probably would have found it terrifying.

Imagine my surprise to discover just recently that DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D. is the same film. When I say ‘the same’, I mean it’s literally the exact film as ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST…except it has a few updated scenes thrown in to Americanize it. Thanks to Severin and CAV releasing them together in a 2-disc Blu-ray set, I had the opportunity to watch them back-to-back. And interestingly, the Americanized version is not nearly as good as the original. But regardless of which is better, there’s no denying the interesting legacy the films have produced, nor the huge entertainment value you’ll gain by watching them.

If you are not familiar with ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST / DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D., here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution:

It sparked riots on 42nd Street, spawned a generation of gorehounds on VHS, and forever set an insane standard for Italian mad doctor/zombie/cannibal carnage worldwide: Ian McCulloch (ZOMBIE), Alexandra Delli Colli (THE NEW YORK RIPPER), Sherry Buchanan (TENTACLES) and Donald O’Brien (EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS) star in this blood orgy of gut-munching, eyeball-gouging and face-chopping originally known as ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST, which a notorious American distributor would then re-edit, re-title and re-release as a certified grindhouse masterpiece.

Severin Films now presents both films fully restored for the first time ever from original vault elements discovered in Manhattan and Rome, and loaded with all-new Bonus Features that finally reveal the unbelievable truth behind its bizarre history, infamous marketing and still-deviant legacy.

To alleviate any confusion, I’m only going to discuss ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST in the rest of this review. DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D. has a few extra scenes and an updated score, but neither adds anything to the original film. If anything, the added scenes look ridiculous compared to the rest of the film, and the music sounds like something 60’s stoners would listen to while getting high.

ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is shot fairly well for the most part, however the cinematography is certainly dated. There are several quick-zoom-in shots that are used as an attempt to add intensity to the scene…but any veteran film watcher will tell you these no longer work. The HD transfer is sketchy, and the film is still full of grainy images and barely visible low-light shots. I have to wonder how bad the original source material was.

The acting in ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is much like it is in every other cannibal/zombie film from this time period. The men are gruff and take charge from the get go, while the women ae helpless and do a lot of screaming and moaning when in distress. These stereotypes made me a smile a couple of times, particularly when I thought about how they compared to horror characters in today’s films. Most women in horror films these days are just as tough as they are pretty!

The special effects in the film are outstanding, particularly for that time period. There’s plenty of carnage, and gore-hounds should definitely be satisfied here. The cannibals enjoy tearing open live victims, and the results are gruesome to behold. I tip my hat to the special effects team, for sure.

This Blu-ray set of both films is a big win for me, and I’ll gladly add ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST to my list of Favorite Italian Zombie flicks. Oh sure, it’s got its flaws (the zombies walk like six-year olds pretending to be Frankenstein), but they are a big part of what makes the film so much fun. In addition to the two films, this Blu-ray set comes with a slew of Special Features that include:

DISC 1 DOCTOR BUTCHER MD
• Featurette: Butchery & Ballyhoo: Interview with Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levine
• Featurette: Down On The Deuce: Nostalgic Tour Of 42nd Street With Temple Of Shock’s Chris Poggiali and Filmmaker Roy Frumkes
• Roy Frumkes’ Segment Of Unfinished Anthology Film ‘Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out’
• Featurette: The Butcher Mobile: Interview with Gore Gazette Editor & Butcher Mobile Barker Rick Sullivan
• Featurette: Cutting Doctor Butcher: Interview with Editor Jim Markovic
• Illustrated Essay: Experiments With A Male Caucasian Brain (…and other memories of 42nd Street) by Gary Hertz
• Theatrical Trailer
• Video Release Trailer 1
• Video Release Trailer 2

DISC 2 ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST
• Featurette: Voodoo Man: Interview With Star Ian McCulloch
• Featurette: Blood Of The Zombies: Interview With FX Master Rosario Prestopino
• Featurette: Filmmaker Enzo Castellari Remembers His Father Director Marino Girolami
• Featurette: Sherry Holocaust: Interview With Actress Sherryl Buchanan
• Featurette: Neurosurgery Italian Style -Interview With FX Artist Maurizio Trani
• Featurette: New York Filming Locations Then Vs. Now. A look at the Big Apple locales as they are today
• Audio Bonus: Ian McCulloch Sings Down By The River
• International Trailer
• German Trailer

MSB

Interesting article about Megalodon from Max Hawthorne, author of KRONOS RISING

Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing Max Hawthorne’s sea-based horror novel, KRONOS RISING (click here to read my review). I raved about the book, and I am now engaged in the follow-up, KRONOS RISING: KRAKEN.

If you’re a fan of such prehistoric monsters like me, then you probably love reading factual information about them. Here is an interesting article recently published by Hawthorne about Megalodons.

Megalodon: History’s Mightiest…Scavenger?

I found this fascinating, and it definitely showcases Hawthorne’s knowledge on the subject. This is a major reason his books are such a pleasure to read. Take a look.

MSB