Blu-ray Review – Vamp (1986)

Vamp tells the frightful tale of two freshmen Keith (Chris Peacemaker) and his buddy AJ (Robert Rusler) trying to play it cool with fraternity. Whilst talking a good game, AJ puts his foot in it’ when he admits to the frat leader that he could get them; anything! Much to Keith’s chagrin they’re tasked with finding a stripper for their ‘brothers’ frat party.

After little success at finding local, they guys enlist the help of the overwhelming/loaded loaner Duncan (Gedde Watanabe), Duncan agrees to lend them a car to drive to a strip joint in the city – on the condition; he can come with them.

When they reach their destination; After Dark strip club they’re allured in by beautiful women, when they’re introduced to the alluring Katrina (Grace Jones) – they soon realise – ‘they’ve bitten off more than they can chew’!

First time feature film director Richard Wenk delivers a delightful slice of 80’s horror comedy! It’s like the mixture of Van Wilder/Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Fright Night – I know Weird Science and From Dusk ‘til Dawn are the obvious comparisons, but I can see the confidence shining through our leading characters really channels the likes of Ryan Reynolds Van Wilder and Broderick’s portrayal of Ferris Bueller. It was my first time watching Vamp, my history with 80’s horror/comedy was kept to a minimum unless you count for the last couple Police Academy movies.

Interject the lovable, bubble-gum sweet Dedee Pfeiffer as After Dark waitress; ‘Amaretto’, a character who as a past relation with Keith – but for some unforgivable reason he doesn’t remember her!

This will sound a little silly if you haven’t seen Vamp, but I loved the funky neon lighting! Rather than turning a drab street lit white, the city walls and buildings were coated in bright pink and green lights which makes for some trippy visuals. Think of lighting and colour schemes you saw in the likes of Batman Forever/Batman & Robin – yes that loud.

Arrow Home Video have suited and booted Vamp into the future by celebrating the films 30 year anniversary with a Blu-ray and DVD release with new special features. The main joy is of the 45 minute documentary One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp – which showed us the cast, crew and director Richard Wenk quip back to their memories of being on set – from the sounds of it the production was more entertaining than the film and everyone interview seemed to have had their own story about working with the Grace Jones.

Other special features include Richard Wenks directorial debut; Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979), a 22 minute short film from the late seventies. The standard set of Trailers, TV Spots, a wealthy Image Gallery (everything from stills to newspaper clippings) and some rather steamy Rehearsal footage where our director is sexually accosted by an overzealous Grace Jones.

Vamp was a pleasant surprise of a film – I didn’t have high hopes going into something I was completely unaware of and noticing Grace Jones attachment actually detracted my initial expectations going in. The special features were pretty decent, but it’s the joy of the cast talking lovingly of the film that just pushed my enjoyment of this experience as a whole to the next level.

Film 4/5

Blu-Ray 4/5

Overall Release: 8/10

Vamp On DVD & Blu-Ray from Monday 3rd Oct. 2016.

Review – 31 (2016)

Set during summer in the 70’s the story follows a group of travelling carnival workers. After passing through a small rural town they’re abducted and awake to discover that they’re the latest contestants in a game of “31”. Under the instruction of mysterious people in powdered wigs (led by Malcolm McDowell), the workers are equipped with a weapon each and have to survive 12 hours in a desolate warehouse tricked out with tricks, traps and half a dozen weapon wielding blood thirsty clowns!

I don’t normally follow Rob Zombies work, especially after watching The Lords of Salem – but my pal explaining the plot sold me on it; “Folk get kidnapped and forced to a running man type game against clowns”. I love these competition/survival themes in film (Battle Royale, The Condemned) it always hooks my attention – my only worry was how scary were the clowns!

Set during the seventies it was only right that Zombie treats this feature with the full Grind-house/Video Nasty treatment. The score to the film is excellent it reminds me of Escape from New York and Planet Terror; dropping those deep notes coming from an electric keyboard. Even the sound effects are turned up to 11, the sounds of people chowing down on succulent ribs to being struck in the gut with a spiked baseball bat – everything sounds extra squishy.

Zombies camera work comes across as intimate and intense, close, close shots of our heroes faces as they’re being hunted and attacked. The only downside when they’re under attack the footage becomes shaken and disorientating after a while. There’s only so much footage shaky of Sheri Moon Zombie one can handle. Whilst we’re talking about what I didn’t like, the acting at the start was a little cringe-worthy, just all the Rasta stuff was hammy – but by the time the cast of characters were in jeopardy everyone become very serious.

The collection killer clowns that are on display were surprisingly diverse, the midget wielding blades, chainsaw twins and our main antagonist; Doom-Head (Richard Brake) is a very intense character, his transformation from man to Doom leaves you frothing with anticipation on his first kill. You know nothing good could come from this man, although that was obvious after the films opening monologue.

Overall, I find myself enjoying the film more after watching it – it was good, nothing great – but just such a fun concept that can easily capture a persons imagination – who expected to see a midget dressed up like a knife wielding Hispanic Hitler or Malcolm McDowell in a powdered wig! It is defiantly worth watching for movie fans, essentially for Rob Zombie fans.

Rating: 4/5


31 is in cinemas from Friday 23rd Sept. 2016 and on VOD from Friday 23rd Sept. 2016.

Blu-ray Reviews – Dead End Drive-In (1986)

Set in a neon-lit futuristic Australia where the economy has collapsed and the cities have turned into wastelands with their dwellers becoming scavengers. Amongst they bleak neon-lit future we have Jimmy (Ned Manning), a young man who is keen to grow big and help his older, bigger brother Frank scavenge scrap metal from car wrecks. On his night off, Jimmy convinces Frank to loan him his chevy to take his girl, Carmen (Natalie McCurry) to the drive-in for a movie and hopefully a cheeky make-out session.

Whilst Jimmy’s getting lucky with Carmen in the back of the chevy, the pair are sudden thrown – two wheels have been nicked from Franks Chevy. When approaching the Drive-in Manager to complain he explains to Jimmy; That’s it, you belong here now – there’s no way out. You’re trapped here, just like everyone else.

Brian Trenchard-Smith delivers us a giant slice of Ozploitation, a genre I wasn’t familiar with – but it makes sense that Mad Max may have kick started a new genre of actions films. My initial thoughts was, Christ the acting is a bit ropey in this – for example the gang of blokes hanging around the cinema bathrooms – trying to recruit Jimmy, it is a little cringe-worthy. But as the film rolls on, it turned out to be a lot of fun – the production value and sets were excellent, the opening sequences reminded me of films like Robocop and Escape from New York.

I just ate the story up! I loved the concept getting trapped in the Drive-in at night and by morning they’ve woken up in a wasteland, a concentration camp littered with scrapped cars. Jimmy is quite a relateable, sensible character – he wants out of this prison! Whilst everyone else just accepts it, they just drink it in – accept their place, take the free drugs, drink the free beer and give up any resistance. I was properly rooting for Jimmy and his great escape.

Dead End Drive-In is receiving the Arrow treatment celebrating its 30 year anniversary since its original release. Special Features on the release are funny, we’re given two documentaries – neither are on Dead End Drive-In, but they are early features from director Brian Trenchard-Smith – including a great series of candid interviews with Australian Stuntmen. We’re also given a photo diary from one of the graffiti artists who had their arsed saved by Dead End Drive-In. Other than the Theatrical Trailer we’re given a full audio commentary from Brian and here’s great to listen to plenty of stories and passion about Dead End Drive-In.

Overall a rough little gem that snuck out from the land down-under and it shouldn’t be ignored!

Movie: 4/5

Blu-ray: 3/5

Dead End Drive-In (Blu-ray): 7/10


Dead-End Drive-In – on Blu-Ray and DVD on 19 September 2016

DVD Review – Matinee (1993)

Set during 1962 amongst the chaos of Cuban Missile Crisis, Matinee tells the tale of shock director Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman), the man behind several low budget black & white monster movies. The cigar chopping Woolsey travels from town-to-town with his patent ‘Atomo-vision’, an interactive movie experience which is used to fullest with his latest creature feature; MANT (Half Man, Half Ant!).

Whilst Woolsey isn’t as successful as the likes of Hitchcock, his previous work has capture the imagination of Gene (Simon Fenton). Gene and his brother live on a military base with their mother whilst their father is away with the navy. To escape their forever changing lives, they spend weekends watching monster matinees at his local theatre, much to the chagrin his little brother. IT is revealed that Woosly is coming to town and he’s bringing MANT with him – threat of nuclear missiles, teenagers and scary movies – what’s the worst that can happen?

I vaguely remember Matinee from my childhood, after being introduced to the likes of Gremlins from a young age, I have to imagine that Matinee was fed to me shortly after. I had memories of earthquakes, ant creatures and a balcony collapsing, when seeing promotional media for Matinee being published by Arrow – the film came flooding back in waves and I knew I had to revisit this ‘classic’.

The whole threat of nuclear warfare is a strange plot to have running in the background of the movie, but it makes sense at the time and clues in the gimmicks of Woosleys picture. The focus of the story is aimed more at teenage children, maybe young adults. Fans of John Goodman and maybe Richard Piccardo (the theatre owner) would eat this up. The focus of the film hangs around the children, making friends/fitting in at school, talking with girls and the chances of getting laid if country was on the brink of nuclear fallout. Kids stuff, right?

John Goodmans character is really the best part of Matinee, I loved every part of his character – for example the trailers teasing his features; it always shows him sucking on a cigar and his passion for the theatrical. His Atomo-vision and Rumble Rama is what all major cinema chains offer nowadays; 4D, DBOX etc.

Arrow provided us with a copy of Matinee on DVD for review. With over 80 minutes worth of special features on this release. Arrow produced new interviews with Joe Dante and various recurring actors, a making of feature w/ John Hora and Marshall Harvey. There is also a lengthy interview with Joe Dante taken from a French release of the film from 2011. Amongst the behind/deleted/extended scenes we’re given the complete feature of; MANT!, a six minute introduction from Dante and all of the footage shown originally in the background of the film is edited clearly into a 15 minute film along with the trailer shown in the film too.

Film: 3/5

DVD: 4/5

Matinee (DVD) – 7/10


DVD Reviews – Tale of Tales (2015)

Tale of Tales tells us these fairy-tale stories of three royal families from three different kingdoms. In the Kingdom Darkwood, The King & Queen Longtrellis (John C. Reilly & Salma Hayek) are desperately attempting to conceive and birth a child and as a last resort they consult a necromancer for solution.

In the kingdom of Stronghold, King Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel), a serial womanise Lothario who has had his way with most of the beautiful women in his kingdom, when in search of his next conquest, he is overwhelmed by the angelic voice a woman in the kingdom, unable to see her from his castle, he could only tell where she dwells and insists on courting her. Little does he know the angelic tones belong to a pair of old wrinkly cleaners.

In the third tale, it follows the story of the King of Highhills (Toby Jones) and his daughter Violet (Bebe Cave). Violet is coming of a age where she is dreaming of meeting a suitable suitor to take her hand in marriage. Whereas her father gotten a sudden fascination for a jumping flea.

There, three spoiler free synopsis of the Tale of Tales. Trust me these stories become very interesting and dark as the tales unfold across three acts the stories run in the order of each showing us their first act, then second and so forth.

I was pleasantly surprised with this film, the stories are engrossing, funny and little naughty at times. This is my first experience of watching films from Italian director Matteo Garrone (Reality & Gomorrah) and my interest in his filmography has grown. The tag on the poster/home release should probably read GRIMM FAIRY TALES SET AMONGST A GAME OF THRONES.

The setting locations are stunning – everything is spotless and bold – in the first segment, where John C.Reilly is about dive in the water, the location and backdrop looks like something straight out of legendary french film-maker George Melies book, the curvature of the rocks, the period diving helmet etc. it’s fascinating. Set against the sunny backdrop of Naples, the imagery of Salma Hayek playfully chasing her son through the garden maze and the contrasts between the beautiful white stone walls and her long black and red dress – it’s very fancy!

Special features on the DVD include an rather appealing trailer for the film, thankfully it delivers – nothing worse than a trailer getting your hopes up and the film fails to deliver. We also have three interviews included with Salma Hayek (8 minutes) , Toby Jones (12 minutes) and director Matteo Garrone (17 minutes). Salma and Toby are given the standard questions you would expect, their familiarity the director and his body of work, how much input they had into their characters and how they were pleased with the final results. Salma tells a neat story of sharing a scene out of context with peer Bradley Cooper and he understood the situation entirely even though no lines of dialogue were uttered.

Garrone obviously gets the longest interview and he goes into great detail on how he sourced the stories from the famous Italian novel – the journey they took to find the ideal locations and what art and literature influenced his vision in the film. It’s a good set of interviews, the director is interesting and both actors seemed pleased with having the opportunity.

Film 4/5
DVD 3/5

UK DVD release of Tale of Tales – 8/10


Tale of Tales is available on DVD & Blu-ray from Monday 8th August 2016.

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