Blu-ray Review “Cannibal Holocaust (1980)”

Actors: Robert Kerman, Gabriel Yorke, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi
Directors: Ruggero Deodato
Number of discs: 3
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Grindhouse Releasing
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Run Time: 96 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to cannibal movies, “Cannibal Holocaust” is easily #1. The film is also easily one of the most controversial films ever made. I remember seeing this in the horror isle at my local video store, looking at the VHS tape and seeing “Banned” all over it. I knew immediately that I needed to see this film. It also (along with “The Beyond”) introduced me to Italian horror films. Having seen this film 20 years ago and watching it today, it is still as absolutely unsettling as it was back then. Would I ever let my own daughter see this film, absolutely not!, but that doesn’t make it any less kick-ass! (Honey, if you are reading this 15 years from you, I am sorry). If you are a horror fan, I cannot recommend picking up this outstanding release any more. Worth every single penny!

Official Premise: Banned and heavily censored the world over, here is a film that surpasses its reputation as a shot-gun blast to the senses. Cannibal Holocaust presents the “found footage” of a group of four documentary filmmakers who experience brutal death at the hands of a savage South American tribe of flesh-eaters. This footage is so intense, so graphic and so unflinching in its realism that the director and producer of Cannibal Holocaust were arrested upon its original release and the film seized.

Grindhouse Releasing is a great independent distributor and they have really stepped up and put their names on the map with this release. The company is founded by Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski, who is also an Academy Award-winning film editor of films like “The Hurt Locker” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful”. It is companies like this that horror fans should be thankful for because they are the ones that restoring and delivering these cult classics films a wonderful presentation on Blu-ray. If you are looking for some other classic horror, cult and exploitation films, Grindhouse has much more coming up including, one of my all-time favorites like I said above, Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond”, Duke Mitchell’s “Gone with the Pope” and S.F. Brownrigg’s “Scum of the Earth”.

When I see the words, “Deluxe Edition” being used on a Blu-ray release, I usually shrug my shoulders and think “Yeah yeah, aren’t they all!” Well this three-disc Deluxe Edition is what a damn release. It includes two  Blu-rays as well as a newly remastered soundtrack CD of the original score by Riz Ortolani (“Mondo Cane”) presented in an absolute stunning 24bit/96khz sound and taken from the original studio master tapes. Audiophiles are going to go crazy for this no question!  Speaking of audio the Blu-ray also comes with a brand new digital stereo re-mix and original mono mix. The 1080p transfer for this found footage film puts today’s crap to shame with a new high-definition digital restoration of the original director’s cut.

When it comes to special features, this release is not only jam-packed it is over flowing. There are two full feature-length commentary tracks with director Ruggero Deodato and star Robert Kerman, as well as with stars Carl Yorke and Francesca Ciardi. There are brand new really in-depth interviews with Ruggero Deodato, Francesca Ciardi, assistant director/co-star Salvo Basile and cameraman Roberto Forges Davazati. There are classic vintage interviews with Robert Kerman, Carl Yorke and Oscar-nominated composer Riz Ortolani. There is an extensive still galleries and theatrical trailers from around the world, which is a blast to check out for sure!

Just to further prove that Grindhouse didn’t just get the rights to release “Cannibal Holocaust” and just threw it out there for sale. They included a super cool glossy 24-page booklet containing liner notes by director Eli Roth, legendary horror journalist Chas. Balun, Euro-music expert Gergely Hubai and Italian exploitation film authority Martin Biene. There is also a uncensored and shocking reversible cover with original art by notorious illustrator Rick Melton underneath the embossed slip cover. If that isn’t enough there are still tons of great Easter eggs including the Grindhouse Releasing theatrical re-release premiere and Necrophagia music video directed by Jim VanBebber and much more.

Blu-ray Review “Nightmare City (1980)”

Starring: Hugo Stiglitz, Mel Ferrer, Laura Trotter, Francisco Rabal, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Sonia Viviani
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Raro Video USA Ltd.
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Run Time: 91 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I remember seeing the video tape box for “Nightmare City” at the mom and pop video store Royal Video in Long Island, NY back in the early 90’s and just knew that I had to see this film. I was obsessed with Italian horror growing up. Umberto Lenzi is the genius behind great Italian horror films including “Cannibal Ferox”. What always struck me as odd is that this film is billed as a zombie film but even Lenzi himself denies that this is about zombies. I have to admit, the film itself isn’t as impressive as it was when I was a kid but Rare Video did quite a beautiful job on this Blu-ray. So if you are a fan of this film, this Blu-ray is a must own for sure.

Official Premise: Umberto Lenzi’s zombie shocker Nightmare City stars actor Hugo Stiglitz as a reporter caught in a living, breathing zombie hell. When an airplane comes into contact with radiation from a nuclear disaster it causes the passengers to mutate into scabby-faced humanoids with a compulsion to kill and drink the blood of their victims. As the zombies move into the city and beyond, will anyone or anything be able to stop the wave of bloody death and disease that threatens to decimate mankind?

Rare Video really did this film a solid and gave it a very impressive new high-definition transfer which was taken from the original 35mm negative. For a film that is over 30 years old, it looks quite stunning. Some of the gore looks aged especially the “zombie” make-up but overall, this film has never looked better. The LPCM 2.0 audio track is also a thing of beauty backed with a new and improved English subtitle translation. I was transported back to my childhood with this film’s amazing Goblin-like score, which is just so great and sounds amazing here.

In terms of special features, there is not a whole lot but quality represents over quantity. There is a nearly hour long intensive interview with Umberto Lenzi discussing the film and its legacy. There is the original English trailer, as well as the original Italian trailer. I was very impressed to find a fully illustrated booklet including inside the case, which focuses on the genesis and production of the film. It is written by Chris Alexander, who writes for Fangoria Magazine. I was surprised to see a few typos included in it though but overall, it is a great additional this great release.

Blu-ray Review “Mother’s Day (1980)”

Directed by: Charles Kaufman
Starring: Nancy Hendrickson, Tiana Pierce, Deborah Luce, Frederick Coffin, Michael McCleery
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Distributed by: Anchor Bay
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Running Time: 90 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I have been a big Troma fan from probably when I was way too young and even was an extra in one of their films, “Terror Firmer” but I was never a huge “Mother’s Day” fan. This was originally released by Troma Entertainment in 1980 and of course back then it shocked critics and developed a huge cult following among horror fans. Darren Lynn Bousman (director of films in the “Saw” series) even helmed the 2012 remake starring Rebecca De Mornay. The film just doesn’t hold up today and even though look and sounds nice on Blu-ray doesn’t really “wow” me. Overall Troma fans can at least rejoice and everyone else can just continue going on with their lives.

“Mother’s Day” follows three young women abducted by homicidal momma’s boys Ike and Addley, while camping. Ike and Addley are goaded by their “Mother” into violent and graphic acts of torture against the three women. While doing everything to stay alive, the three women muster the courage escape, and serve their maniacal abductors some old-fashioned justice! Relating to the films around its time like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, this film will definitely offend the weak of heart!

Since the film is over 30 years old, this film definitely shows its age. It does though feature an all-new HD transfer and looks decent overall with its 1080p resolution and in its original aspect ratio: 1.85:1. The audio track though is impressive sporting its Dolby TrueHD 5.1 goods. The special features on the disc are nothing special really. There is an audio commentary by the director, as well as an interview with behind-the-scenes footage There are also trailers and other sneak peeks. The only new extra is a newly created featurette with Eli Roth (Producer of The Last Exorcism, Grindhouse and Hostel 1 & 2).