Blu-ray Review “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition”

Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal
Director: Tobe Hooper
Number of discs: 4
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes

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

Love it (myself) or hate it (my wife), “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is an absolutely classic in the horror genre. It is iconic and has stood the test of time. Speaking of time, the film is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year. MPI Media Group is re-releasing the film on Blu-ray presenting the original restored film in an all-new 4k scan authorized by Tobe Hooper and a ridiculous all-new 7.1 channel soundtrack. If you think you have seen “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” before, think again because watching this Blu-ray is like an entirely new experience.

Official Premise: It has been called grisly, sick, and perverse, as well as raw, unshakeable, and the movie that redefined horror. It was attacked by churches, banned by governments, and acclaimed by only the bravest of critics. It stunned audiences worldwide and set a new standard in movie terror forever. Today writer-producer-director Tobe Hooper s dark, visionary tale remains unparalleled in its impact as perhaps the most frightening motion picture ever made.

“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is released as a kick ass DigiPack  combo pack with two Blu-Rays and two DVDs. If this only had a digital Ultraviolet copy, it would be absolutely perfect. The film itself is gritty and was shot on 16mm film, so this film never looked really amazing. I remember watching it on VHS tape and if you could compare that to this new Blu-ray, it would be like two different films. For this release, the film was mastered in 4K and presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition. It just looks terrific. Horror fans get ready to do a back flip.

I never thought I would be seeing a film like “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” with DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track on Blu-ray but that is what we get here. You would expect this track from a big-budget summer action but never a 40 year old horror film. This track is fantastic and works so well with all aspects from the revving of the chainsaw to the  famous flash photography sounds. Along with this epic track, there are three other tracks including a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0 and LPCM Mono. So there are tracks for everyone whatever you are craving

The special features are split over two discs. The first disc is purely audio commentary tracks. Anything you ever wanted to know about this film is included in these tracks. The first track is with Producer-Director Tobe Hooper, Actor Gunnar Hansen, and Cinematrographer Daniel Pearl. The second is with Production Designer Robert Burns and Actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, and Paul A. Partain. The third is Writer-Producer-Director Tobe Hooper. The last is withCinematographer Daniel Pearl, Editor J. Larry Carroll, and Sound Recordist Ted Nicolaou. One is better than the next.

The second disc includes “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth”, which runs over 70 minutes. “Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw” is another 70 minute featurette. Between these two extras, you will be exhausted with knowledge. “A Tour of the TCSM House with Gunnar Hansen” is a chat with Leatherface himself. “Off the Hook with Teri McMinn” and “The Business of Chain Saw: An Interview with Production Manager Ron Bozman” are interviews with the respective actors.

“Grandpa’s Tales: An Interview with John Dugan” features the actor reflecting on his iconic role. “Cutting Chain Saw: An Interview with Editor J. Larry Carroll” talks about his work on the film. There are 15 minutes of BRAND NEW Deleted Scenes and Outtakes along with the previous released 25 minutes of additional Deleted Scenes and Outtakes. There is also a Blooper Reel, Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, Still Gallery, Trailers, TV and Radio spots included.

Blu-ray Review “Zombie Massacre”

Actors: Christian Boeving, Mike Mitchell, Ivy Corbin, Tara Cardinal, Carl Wharton
Directors: Marco Ristori, Luca Boni
Producers: Uwe Boll
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Entertainment One
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Run Time: 90 minutes

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

When it comes to zombies, there is no shortage out there with “World War Z” and “The Walking Dead”. “Zombie Massacre” is an adaptation of the Wii video game of the same name. When you think of video game adaptions and horror films, you think of Uwe Boll but no he did not direct this film…but Boll did serve as producer and stars as President of the United States. In terms of zombie horror films, this is nothing special but it does have some decent special effects and plenty of topless women zombies (must have been a bunch of strip bars in the area of the outbreak…obviously…right?). So “Zombie Massacre” doesn’t change the genre but did I mention topless zombies? Nonetheless, I think I am a little bit zombied out recently.

Official Premise: A top-secret bacteriological weapon developed by the U.S.Government to create an army of super soldiers triggers an epidemic that turns the citizens of a quiet town into mutated zombies. In an effort to conceal the outbreak, a team of mercenaries is assembled to infiltrate the infected city and detonate an atomic bomb destroying the monsters and all the evidence along with them. No one has to know the truth…unless the mission fails.

Entertainment One delivered a very impressive 1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The transfer is sharp and works well with the make-up effects as well and for a low-budget zombie film, I was impressed.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also works very well with the zombie madness including gunshots and explosions. The special features are nothing special but work checking out for the . “Superfreak: The Making of Zombie Massacre” is a solid 40+minute behind-the-scenes featurette including the special effects. Next there is are two storyboards including a prologue. Lastly, there is also two trailers included.

“The Puppet Monster Massacre” Director Dustin Mills talks about new film “Zombie A-Hole”

Dustin Mills is the director of the wild and crazy film “The Puppet Monster Massacre”. Dustin took out some time with Media Mikes to chat about that film as well as his new film “Zombie A-Hole”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what the inspiration was behind “The Puppet Monster Massacre”?
Dustin Mills: It’s the same with every film idea I come up with. I am just trying to make films that I would want to watch. I look for holes in the B-Movie universe and try to fill them.

MG: Are you surprised with the response this film has gotten?
DM: The response has been rather mixed, and honestly the only places it sells well are Horror Conventions. I think my surprise came from seeing it featured in magazines and websites that I had read for years. We were in HorrorHound, Fangoria, and there was a review on AintItCoolNews. That was wild. That’s the stuff that makes my heart race.

MG: When can we expect the sequel to this film?
DM: I really want to make one, but so for we haven’t had a ton of luck with raising the funds. I have the outline, I have started the screenplay, but now it just boils down to hard numbers. I’m not going to make the film until I can give it everything it needs. My plan right now is to produce some low budget exploitative short films to sell with the sole purpose of raising money for PMM2. It will happen… its just a matter of time.

MG: Tell us how it was going to puppets to “Zombie A-Hole”?
DM: It was much much easier. Production was smoother because I wasn’t playing every single part (we had no puppeteers for PMM) and post was easier because we had real locations instead of a greenscreen that required keying and or matte paintings and 3d backgrounds. The only thing that is more difficult about a live action film vs something like PMM is that you have to be willing to relinquish control and improvise and let your actors help build your world. Making a virtual backlot puppet film allows you to have a much narrower mind, but working with people and weird conditions forces you to be a resourceful soldier.

MG: What was your biggest challenge besides the budget of $1K?
DM: The budget was never actually a hindrance. I like working with nothing. A low budget like that forces you to be a renegade and I like that. there is something really exhilarating about shaking your camera while your actor’s wife blows fog over your car with a $20 fog machine and a fan that barely works and a couple of your buddies bounce the trunk up and down so it will kinda sorta look like the zombie hunting cowboy is driving at night. I live for that shit. The biggest challenge I guess was just time. Its hard to line up schedules, and we had a medical emergency with one of our actors that set us back for a month or so (not an onset injury mind you). That’s really it. Once we got folks together there was never really anything that held us back too much.

MG: Sticking with the horror genre, who are your idols?
DM: Thats a hard question because I have two sets of idols. I got my mainstreamers like Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo Del Toro, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, and Fred Dekker. But then I also have my indie heroes. People like Eric Stanze, Bill Zebub, Fred Vogel, Jason Eisener, Kevin Strange, The Kuchar Brothers, and a few others. These are guys with true vision who know how to make their budgets and indie status work for them. I may not even like every movie they put out, but I respect the shit out of them. My grandaddy idol at least for right now is Jim Wynorski. I’m not sure the world will ever truly appreciate his genius.

MG: Favorite horror film?
DM: My favorite horror film and probably favorite film of all time is “The Monster Squad”. It embodies just about everything I love about horror and the magic of the movies.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming “Theatre of the Deranged II”?
DM: Well James Bressack is spearheading this wacky anthology and on it I have an animated short that is sort of inspired by anime and the sushi typhoon films called Girl Girl: Mutant Lesbo Vengeance. Its going to be quite strange and extremely bloody. I am pretty excited about it, and I am in good company on that collection. James really gathered a good group of filmmakers and I am pretty honored to be rubbing shoulders with them.

MG: What else do you have set on the horizon?
DM: I am putting the finishing touches on Night of the Tentacles. It will be out early next year probably. I am shooting a film called Kill That Bitch which will be out early next year as well. I am shooting a puppet porno music video for a Las Vegas band called The Fat Dukes of Fuck that is perhaps the strangest thing I have ever done. I recently did a video for one of their member’s other band called Demon Lung, check it out here. I have two other projects; one of which is already filmed and the other I am filming currently. I’m honestly not sure how much I can say about them so that might be a tale for another time.

Blu-ray Review “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”

Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Bill Moseley, Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Lou Perryman, Chris Douridas
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 101 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in 1974 and is still one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. It has had three direct sequels, a remake and two sequels to that remake with the latest “Texas Chainsaw 3D” coming in January 2013. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” is one hell of an ambitious big-budget sequel to a very small horror film. It might not have been the best idea for Hooper to go so mainstream in the sequel but is has become one of horror best sequels. Bill Moseley gives an amazing and cult classic performance as Chop-Top. The last Dennis Hooper is such a nut as Lefty. Of course Caroline Williams nails the role of Stretch, which is also such an iconic role in horror genre.

This sequel is not only more horrific but also funny as well. It follows Lefty (Hooper), who is a Texas Ranger looking to seek vengeance against the flesh-eating family from the first film. He also goes head-to-head in one of the most notable high-octane chainsaw showdowns with the legendary Leatherface. Radio deejay, Stretch, (Caroline Williams) is kidnapped and brought in between this battle and the family’s madness.

The Blu-ray presentation looks great with its restored 1080p transfer and original aspect ratio: 1.85:1. The audio track is decent but could have used a little extra umph with its DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The special features are very impressive with the ported extras from the 2006 DVD edition. There is a commentary with Director Tobe Hoooper and David Gregory, director of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth”. This is a little dull but still worth-wild for fans. There is another commentary track with actors Bill Mosely and Caroline Williams and special effects makeup creator Tom Savini. This one is the best and most recommended. There are six deleted scenes in “The Cutting Room Floor” mostly dealing with an abandoned story dealing with the Sawyers going hunting in the city. “It Runs in the Family Documentary” is an amazing 90 minutes documentary covering every aspect of the production. Lastly there is original Theatrical Trailer included.

DVD Review “The Summer of Massacre”

Directed By: Joe M Castro
Starring: Brinke Stevens, Nick Principe, Cleve Hall, Lisa Garcia, Lauren Boehm, Felipe Winslett, Scott Barrows, Tim Cooley
Distributed by: Breaking Glass Pictures
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 98 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Right off the bat, this film has an instant draw for me with the fact that it holds the Guinness World Records™ for “Highest Body Count in a Slasher Film” with a ridiculous 155 body count. The film heavily uses CG effects, which could normally be annoying but for this it sort of works. I am not sure how but this film has also received over 20 film festival awards including Best Horror Film, Best Visual Effects, Best Editing, Best Action Sequence, and Best SFX Feature. It is not the best horror/slasher ever but it definitely deserves some attention.

The man behind the “Terror Toons” series, Joe Castro brings us this very original anthology slasher film which follows eight different killers through five different stories. This film also includes a decent genre cast featuring Brinke Stevens from “Slumber Party Massacre”, Nick Principe from the “Laid to Rest” series, and Cleve Hall from “Nightmare”. The first stories follows the brutal beatings of a young man who then sets off a bloody rampage. The next story deals with a paraplegic girl as she heads out to kill her older, beautiful sister after she tries to murder her. Another story deals a woman who was raped 36 years ago by her biological father and after hiding for year he finds them. The next one follows a group of teenagers that are stalked in the forest. The last story features three serial killers that terrorize Los Angeles by murdering everyone in sight.

There were no special features included on my screener but the retail copy includes the following: Director’s Commentary, Director’s Diary (Behind-the-scenes), Interview with Brinke Stevens, Cast Auditions, Director Joe Castro’s Childhood Massacre Short Film. Definitely packed with some good stuff.  Overall this is just a fun ride that answers to no one and just goes nuts with itself.

DVD Review “Klown Kamp Massacre”

Directors: David C. Valdez, Philip H.R. Gunn
Starring: Ross Kelly, Ashley Bryce, Lloyd Kaufman, Isaac Kappy, Chris Payne
Distributed by Troma Entertainment
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 84 minutes

Overall Score: 3 out of 5 stars

With a name like “Klown Kamp Massacre”, you can’t expect much from the film. Then once you add to the fact that it is a Troma film it makes it even better. This actually, against my original perspective, delivered some good good and a fun campy story. We get scenes and dialogue right out of “Friday the 13th”. The film also has a real feel of “Sleepaway Camp” as well but with clowns (or klowns). Not the best horror slasher, definitely not the worst but packs one great ending.

The story follows Edwin the clown, who went to clown camp to fulfill his lifelong dream… but nobody laughed. After being humiliated, he viciously murders the entire camp but was never found. We pick up fifteen years later, where the camp is reopened and the murders start happening again. If you are fan of Troma make sure to keep an eye out for guest appearance by Lloyd Kaufman.

The special features on this release very impressive boosting over 2 hours extras. We have audio commentary from the cast and crew and just like this film is way over-the-top. There are a few deleted scenes…some good some bad. There is a fun and wild behind the scenes featurette on the making of the film…good stuff. There is a short film by David Valdez and Philip Gunn. There is no clowning around in the eight “clowny” webisodes included on this release to. Of course there is a trailer attached as well and much more. Overall amazing extras for a “bad” but fun movie.