Saturday, February 9, 2019

Phil's Horror Watch: SKINNER (1993) from Severin Films - February 8, 2019

SKINNER Limited Edition Slipcover Blu-Ray
SKINNER (1993)

Starring Ted Raimi, Traci Lords, Ricki Lake, David Warshofsky, Richard Schiff, Blaire Baron, Christina Engelhardt, Roberta Eaton
Written by Paul Hart-Wilden
Cinematography by Greg Littlewood
Edited by Jeremy Kasten, Fred Roth, Peter Schink (as Peter Schenk)
Produced by Mark Beychok, Nelson I. Korchak, Dan Sales (as Daniel Sales), Tamar E. Glaser, Jeff Pollon, James H. Rutt, Brad Wyman
Directed by Ivan Nagy
Originally released by A-Pix Entertainment
Released by Severin Films

Over the years, there have been a resurgence of horror films from the early 1990's that people are finally discovering. Granted, this was not the best time for the horror genre; with the slasher genre dead and most being cheap direct-to-video releases, there were little choices for fans. But there were some diamonds in the rough, but they were few and far between. Some of these lost gems have gone on to become cult classics, attracting new viewers with each passing year. One of these films was a down-and-dirty horror flick that became somewhat popular for several reasons. Make no mistake, SKINNER is still shockingly weird and disturbingly fun after all these years!!

The film's official synopsis: It’s been called “sleaze-oozing” (Flick Attack), “gut-churning” (The Bedlam Files) and “incredibly tasteless” (Cult Reviews). It featured the most intensely graphic scenes yet by KNB EFX Group (The Walking Dead). Uncut, it remains perhaps the most disturbing – and rarely seen – shocker of the ‘90s: Ted Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess) delivers an unnerving performance as psycho drifter Dennis Skinner who wears flesh-suits he slices from doomed prostitutes, falls for a lonely young housewife (Ricki Lake of HAIRSPRAY fame), and is himself hunted by a horribly scarred survivor (an equally unhinged performance by Traci Lords). Richard Schiff (The West Wing) co-stars in this still-potent sickie from veteran television director – and one-time Heidi Fleiss boyfriend – Ivan Nagy, now scanned in 4k from the original camera negative and including the complete hooker-flaying sequence.

Original VHS Box Cover (1995)
I recall seeing parts of the movie back in the day, but this was the first time for me of actually watching the whole thing, and in its restored edition! Ted Raimi is flat out crazy awesome in the film, and he brings his A-Game to the antagonist Dennis Skinner. Traci Lords is just as crazy as the scarred Heidi, whose thirst for revenge will take her on a dangerous path! Ricki Lake's character Kerry Tate is the only normal person to be found in the movie, even though she's alone all the time, so it's only natural that she would start to have feeling for Dennis. He's calm, listens to her, and is quite good looking, for a serial killer! C'mon Kerry, wake up! He's totally creepy, and there's plenty of clues to his behavior! Why did he always carry that tool bag around? Why was he coming and going at all those random times of the day and night? Weren't you curious as to where he came from? Oh, he's got money for rent and such. OK, but where the hell did he get it all? Yeah, there are a couple of holes in the script, but overall, I was very entertained.

The film was released on VHS from A-Pix Entertainment, the company that brought other 90's direct-to-video titles such as JACK FROST, EVIL ED, BREEDERS, THE ICE CREAM MAN, and UNCLE SAM. It was eventually released on DVD by Image Entertainment, but the transfer of the picture wasn't all that great, plus it was the edited version as well. Then in November, Severin Films announced that they obtained the rights and were finally releasing the unedited version.

Bless the hearts over at Severin Films, as they restore some of the best forgotten, overlooked, and infamous movies of all time! Who else would take the original camera negatives and make a brand new 4K scan of this 90's cult classic? These guys of course! The picture quality is fantastic; looking so sharp and crisp! When this title was announced as part of their Black Friday sale, it features an exclusive Limited Edition slipcase. As I am writing this, I believe these copies are now sold, but the standard Blu-Ray copies are available.

The special features on here are not only awesome, but informative and cool! Included are the following: A Touch of Scandal - Interview with Director Ivan Nagy, Under His Skin - Interview with Star Ted Raimi, Bargain Bin VHS For A Buck - Interview with Screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden, Cutting Skinner – Interview with Editor Jeremy Kasten, Flaying Sequence Outtakes and Extended Takes, and the film's trailer.

SKINNER is a lost 90's fright flick that will transport you back when direct-to-video movies were all the rage at your local video store!! For the first time, you get to see the uncut, unrated, and uncensored version of the this sick and twisted cult classic! What more do you need? Make tonight an outrageous 90's horror movie night!! Just make sure you don't invite anyone named Skinner to cover and watch it with you! 4 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!


SKINNER is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD from Severin Films. To purchase a copy, visit their website at severin-films.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Phil’s Horror Watch: ZOMBIE (1979) from Blue Underground - February 7, 2019

ZOMBIE Limited Edition "Bridge" Slipcover Blu-Ray
ZOMBIE (aka ZOMBI 2) (1979)
Starring Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D'Amario, Olga Karlatos
Written by Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti (uncredited)
Cinematography by Sergio Salvati
Edited by Vincenzo Tomassi
Produced by Fabrizio De Angelis, Ugo Tucci, Gianfranco Couyoumdjian
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Originally released by The Jerry Gross Organization (USA), Variety Film (Italy)
Released by Blue Unnderground

For today's installment of Phil's Horror Watch, I visited the land of Italy, home to some of the most intense, gruesome, gory, and celebrated horror films of all time! What made me want to visit this far and away land? I have two words for you: Lucio Fulcio! You see, late last year Blue Underground re-released one of his greatest films of all time, in a brand new, 3-Disc, 4K restoration! And, it came with not one, not two, but three different lenticular slipcovers! Granted, the film itself is enough to make any horror hound happy! If you don't believe me, then you have never seen the film ZOMBIE, especially in high definition!!

The film's official synopsis: In Italy, it was considered the ‘unofficial sequel’ to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line “WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!” Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by ‘Maestro Of Gore’ Lucio Fulci (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!

Original Theatrical Poster (1980)
Sounds like a very intriguing film indeed, but the backstory of the film is even more fascinating. In 1977, American filmmaker George Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, who would help with the financing to make DAWN OF THE DEAD. In exchange Argento would distribute the film in Europe, where it was retitled as ZOMBI. Director Fulci decided to capitalize on the film's success by making his own gore-infested, living dead film. Thanks to a legal loophole, Fulci was able to slap a sequel number to his film, allowing moviegoers to think that his film was an actual follow up to Romero's film. Unbelievably true, but in the end Fulci's ZOMBI 2 did phenomenal at the European boxoffice. When the film was imported to America, it was retitled ZOMBIE, as to not confuse American audiences.

The film itself is highly regarded as Fulci's best film ever, and a welcomed entry to the annals of horror. The special effects by F/X wizard Gianetto de Rossi are very impressive, and they still hold up to this very day. When Auretta Gay has her throat torn out is just gore-tastic. The scene when Olga Karlatos' eye is shoved into a large piece wood splinter is just so gruesome and painful to watch that I dare you to not look away. And of course, the film's most famous scene is when a zombie attacks and eats a shark. Yes my friends, that is a REAL person fighting a REAL shark! There is no CGI in this film people! Real sharks, real special effects, and real gore drenched the screen as it has never before. The Italians very much celebrated gore and violence, and in the process, made it into an art form that has influenced several big name horror directors. From Sam Raimi and Sean Cunningham to Eli Roth and James Wan, the Italian horror films from the late 70's to the mid 80's had a huge impact here in America. The film was released in Italy on August 25, 1979. It was imported and released to theaters here in America on July 18, 1980.

The movie has been released for the home video market in several different formats over the years by several distributors. In the 1980's and early 1990's, it was distributed by video companies like Wizard Video, Magnum Entertainment, and T-Z Video here in the states, while in the UK, it was part of the "Video Nasties" and was banned their for a time. By the late 90's, companies like Anchor Bay Entertainment, Shriek Show, and Blu Underground had released the film on DVD and Blu-Ray. In 2011, Blue Underground had restored Lucio's classic in a 2K restoration, and released it back to select theaters across the country (this lucky guy saw it at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco in October of that same year). Then in 2018, while being very quite for most of the year, they announced that they were once again restoring the film, this time in a new 4K scan in time for its 40th anniversary!!

Original Italian Theatrical Poster (1979)
This new Blu-ray release Blue Underground looks absolutely fucking amazing!! Holy shit! I have never seen the movie look this sharp, clear, fucking gorgeous before!! Their brand-new 4K Restoration from the uncensored original camera negative looks insanely flawless!! This limited collector’s edition includes 1080p Feature on Blu-ray, bonus High Def Extras Blu-ray, Soundtrack CD, collectible booklet, reversible sleeve with original US poster artwork, a collectable booklet with a new essay by Author Stephen Thrower, and three different special 3D lenticular slipcovers (for its First Pressing only)!!

Blue Underground also loaded this 3-Disc set with a ungodly amount of amazing special features! So what I'm doing is just copying what is on all three discs, just to make it easier on myself as to not leave anything off. On Disc One there's a new Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howarth, Author of "Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films", a second audio commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater, When The Earth Spits Out The Dead - Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of "Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci", theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots, poster & still gallery, and a cool intro by Guillermo del Toro. Disc Two has all the special features: Zombie Wasteland - Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, Flesh Eaters on Film - Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis, Deadtime Stories - Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti, World of the Dead - Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca, Zombi Italiano - Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi, Notes on a Headstone - Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi, All in the Family - Interview with Antonella Fulci, Zombie Lover - Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films . Disc Three is the aforementioned CD soundtrack by the great Fabio Frizzi!

ZOMBIE is one of the all-time greatest zombie films ever made!! For it's shock value and sheer madness, no other zombie film can compare to nor come close to it! With this film, director Fulci was given the mantle "The Maestro of Gore." It is without hesitation to say that, after its initial release 40 years later, it is a title that no one has come close to achieving. Years after his passing, he continues to live on in his films, which are not only his legacy, but a gift to us to enjoy over and over again! And thanks to Blue Underground, we can have this new 4K restoration to watch over and over again! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly Recommended!! 


ZOMBIE is available in a 3-Dics Limited Edition with three different lenticular slipcovers (or purchase all as a bundle for a limited time) from Blue Underground. To order your copy, visit their website at www.blue-underground.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Phil’s Top Ten Greatest Scream Queens of All Time - February 6, 2019

Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley, and Brinke Stevens (1988)
Besides writing for my blog, I've been very fortunate to write for other publications, both physical media (magazines and newspapers) and online websites over the years. One of those websites was the now defunct Blumhouse.com. About four years ago, I contacted an old friend of mine, who just happened to be the editor-in-chief of the website. I have known her for years, going all the way back to our Fangoria days, which I also wrote that website as well. I sent her some samples, and I ended up writing my first article for the website, ""PRESENTING THE TEN GREATEST SCREAM QUEENS OF ALL TIME!" which was posted back in December 27, 2016. Here, I listed my favorite Scream Queens from my past in alphabetical order and soon, it was being shared by the actresses themselves through several social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I was honored to have had my article shared by these talented women.

The reason I'm mentioning all this is that now in 2019, Blumhouse.com is no longer and is now called The 13th Floor. While it still has articles, stories, and news, it's different than it once was, and my article is no longer on their website. However, while cleaning out some of my old files on my computer, I accidentally discovered my original copy of my article! This was a very pleasant surprise, indeed! So I looked it over, made some changes to it, and updated as well. Overall, I  am very proud of it, but I found myself reminiscing of my youthful, carefree days of yeasterday.

I was very luck to be alive at the right place at the right time, and that time was called the 1980's. Granted, not everything was great in America at that time. Reaganomics, Black Monday, crack, the AIDS epidemic, and the cold war were taking its toll on the country, and growing up in the middle of all this wasn't But during this decade, two very important events took place that would change my life forever.

At the beginning of the 80's, the VCR revolutionized home entertainment. Now, there were these cool places called video stores where I could rent movies. It's here that I was exposed to, what seemed at that time, an endless supply of horror movies. And trust me when I say that I rented every single one that had in stock! By the end of the decade, a new late night TV show debuted on the USA Network. It was called USA Up All Night and it aired every Friday and Saturday night and was hosted by Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried. Because of this show, my love for low budget B-movies began as well as my obsession for the buxom, bare breasted, badass actresses that became known as Scream Queens!

During this time, these ladies became the most popular actresses in the world, and garnered a huge and loyal fan base. They were all over the media outlets, appearing in magazines like Femme Fatales and Scream Queen Magazine. They were on E! Entertainment channel, MTV, and Entertainment Tonight as well as at film and comic conventions all over the country. While it was hard to narrow it down, these ladies proved to me time and time again that they were the best of the best. So, without further adieu, here is my list of the Top Ten Greatest Scream Queens of All Time!

1) Michelle Bauer - One of the members of the Scream Queen Trio that dominated USA Up All Night, Bauer has appeared in 152 films. In fact, between 1987 and 1898, she starred in over 36 movies! With films like ROLLERBLADE, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, NIGHTMARE SISTERS, VIRGIN HIGH, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS, and THE TOMB, her status as a Scream Queen has been confirmed. By the 2010's, she starred in several of director David DeCoteau's 1313 film series, appeared in in Full Moon feature's GINGERDEAD MAN 2: PASSION OF THE CRUST, and teamed up with her fellow queens Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens for the 2014 film 3 SCREAM QUEENS. Her latest titles are DEATH HEADS: BRAIN DRAIN and THE PASSION CHRONICLES.

2) Monique Gabrielle - They broke the mold when they made this woman. Blonde, buxom, and breathtakingly beautiful, Gabrielle mad a splash in the acting world playing Tracey alongside future Hollywood superstar Tom Hank's in the 1982 comedy BACHELOR PARTY. In 1987, she appeared in the three of her most popular films ever: AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, EMMANUELLE 5, and DEATHSTALKER II, the last two films were for the legendary Roger Corman's Concorde/New Horizons Home Video. Also, look for here in NOT OF THIS EARTH, THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING, TRANSYLVANIA TWIST, HARD TO DIE, EVIL TOONS, and the highly entertaining SCREAM QUEEN HOT TUB PARTY. In 2003, Gabrielle married adult film director Tony Angove and now runs her own adult film production company called Monique Gabrielle's Purrfect Productions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

3) Debra Lamb - Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Lamb got her big break in John Hughes' PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (although her scene would be left on the cutting room floor) before going on to star in a slew of classic B-movie gems like THE INVISIBLE MANIAC, BEVERLY HILLS VAMP, EVIL SPIRITS, and DEATH ROW GAME SHOW, which was released on Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome recently. After leaving the industry for personal reasons, Lamb returned to acting in 2012, and has starred in several films, including THE G-STRING HORROR, DISCIPLES, and A BLOOD STORY. She is also an accomplished author and was a writer for the publication Dark Beauty Magazine from 2011 to 2015. She currently has nine projects in various stages of production, including BLOOD CRAFT, YOU BELONG TO ME, and FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE.

4) Becky LeBeau - She wasn't your typical Scream Queen. In fact, she wasn't really a Scream Queen at all, However, this curvaceous and busty actress bounced her way into many of young male adolecent dreams as well as in the movies. Making a big splash in the 1986 comedy BACK TO SCHOOL with comic legend Rodney Dangerfield, LeBeau went on to act in several erotic, comedy, and sci-fi films like BEVERLY HILLS GIRLS, NOT OF THIS EARTH, BIKINI DRIVE-IN, DINOSAUR ISLAND, and POINT OF SEDUCTION: BODY CHEMISTRY III. She also created the popular Playboy Channel show Soft Bodies during the 1990's, which was the precursor to her new multi-million dollar company called FantasyOne.

5) Linnea Quigley - She was the reigning "Queen of the B's" during the height of the USA Up All Night era. Standing at only 5'2", this short and petite actress appeared in some of the greatest horror and B-movies of all time, including SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, CREEPOZOIDS, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, VICE ACADEMY 1 & 2, and the recent 3 SCREAM QUEENS directed by David DeCoteau. Several of her films have been released on Blu-Ray, including NIGHTMARE SISTERS and the double feature MURDER WEAPON/DEADLY EMBRACED from Vinegar Syndrome.

6) Debbie Rochon - When it comes to modern day Scream Queens, no one comes close to what this Canadian actress has accomplished. With a staggering 249 titles to her credit and counting, Rochon is the embodiment of an independent film actress. Look for for her in TROMEO AND JULIET, TERROR FIRMER, SANTA CLAWS, WITCHOUSE 3: DEMON FIRE, HELLBLOCK 13, PLAY-MATE OF THE APES, KILLJOY 2: DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL, BIKINI BLOODBATH, and the sequel BIKINI BLOODBATH SHAKESPEARE. She has also written for publications like Fangoria Magazine and Videoscope Magazine, and was an on-air personality for several radio and Internet shows.

7) Jewel Shepard - This beloved actress stole my heart when I first saw her appear in Dan O'Bannon's 1985 THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. She went on to appear in a number of movies like MY TUTOR, HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS, HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS 2: EDUCATING CRYSTAL, CHRISTINA, PARTY CAMP, and CAGED HEAT II: STRIPPED OF FREEDOM. She's also an author and has written two fantastic books. The first was the 1992 "Invasion of the B-Girls" published by Eclipse Books, where she interviewed several of her peers like Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, Mary Woronov, and Yvette Vickers.. The other was her 1996 autobiography "If I'm So Famous, How Come Nobody;s Ever Heard Of Me?" by Kitchen Sink Press. She's also written for publications like Details, Premiere, and Cosmopolitan. Since 2011, Shepard has been struggling with invasive breast cancer and has undergone several treatments, including chemotherapy, had lymph nodes removed, and a double mastectomy. Despite all this, she returned to acting with her latest film SLASHER.COM,which was released in 2017.

8) Tiffany Shepis - Let me say this right away: I love Tiffany Shepis! Seriously, how can you not? Not only is she beautiful, funny, and smart, but she is also one hell of an actress! She got her big break in the 1994 Troma classic TROMEO AND JULIET, directed by the great Lloyd Kaufman and written by James Gunn (yes, that James Gunn). Since then, she has gone on to star in over 137 movies, including CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER IV, TERROR FIRMER, SCARECROW, DELTA, DELTA, DIE!, DETOUR, CHAINSAW CHEERLEADERS, BLOOD OATH, BONNIE & CLYDE VS. DRACULA, THE QUEEN OF SCREAMS, DROPPING EVIL, TALES OF HALLOWEEN, and the SyFy Channel's SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE. I had the pleasure of meeting here at the Osio Theater in Monterey in October of 2017 for the special roadshow screening of VICTOR CORWLY, the fourth installment of the HATCHET series created by filmmaker Adam Green. In 2010, Shepis married writer/director Sean Tretta and broke millions of single guys' hearts, but we still love her anyway.

9) Brinke Stevens - It doesn't get any classier or sexier than Brinke Stevens! Born in San Diego, California, this former scientist turned actress became of the most beloved Scream Queen of all time. After appearing in the 1982 slasher film THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, her career took off and she never looked back. With over 160 titles to her name, including SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, NIGHTMARE SISTERS, SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, HAUNTING FEAR, MOB BOSS, BAD GIRLS FROM MARS, TEENAGE EXORCIST, and HYBRID to name a few, she has received worldwide fame and a legion of fans. Fun fact: Stevens was briefly married to comic book artists Dave Stevens, creator of "The Rocketeer" and was the inspiration for his character Bettie. They both remained friends until Dave's passing in 2008.

10) Julie Strain - This statuesque Amazonian stands at an astounding 6'1", making her the tallest Scream Queen on the list! With 118 credits to her name, she became the new "Queen of the B-movies" from the late 90's to the mid-2000's. She starred in several popular action and sci-fi films, including THE DALLAS CONNECTION, SORCERESS, STARSTRUCK, LETHAL SEDUCTION, DAY OF THE WARRIOR, THE ROWDY GIRLS, BATTLE QUEEN 2020, and provided voiceover work for the animated movie HEAVY METAL 2000 and the video game Heavy Metal K.A.K.K. 2. For a time, Strain was married to Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Editor-In-Cheif of Heavy Metal magazine. She was also Penthouse Pet of the Month June 1991 and Penthouse Pet of the Year 1993. Strain announced her retirement from acting in October 2008. On July 16th 2018, it was announced by her on her Facebook wall that Strain was now suffering from dementia. All her fans continue to send her well wishes and hope she is resting.

Michelle Bauer, myself, Brinke Stevens, and Linnea Quigley (2014).
And there you have it my faithful readers! My Top Ten Greatest Scream Queens of All Time! Boy, did I have fun taking this little trip down Memory Lane! Back then, staying up all night was the only way to see some of these cult classics!  Nowadays, many of these films are available on Blu-Ray and on many streaming services, like Shudder, Troma Now, Full Moon Direct! So do yourself a favor, make a big bowl of popcorn, grab some drinks, and invite a bunch of your friends and kick back with one of these movies tonight!! Just make sure that if you invite any ladies over, they're not actually a couple of Hollywood chainsaw hookers!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Porno Chic Theatre - MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE (1974) from Vinegar Syndrome - February 2, 2019

MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE Slipcover Blu-Ray
MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE (1974)

Starring Kim Pope, Mary Stuart, Darby Lloyd Raines, Eric Edwards, Harry Reems, Deborah Ashira, Patrick L. Farrelly, Ralph Herman
Written by Ron Wertheim
Cinematography by João Fernandes (as Harry Flecks)
Edited by Saint Marks Place
Produced by Inish Kae, Limited
Directed by Gerard Damiano
Originally released by Cinépix Film Properties
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

When one thinks of some of the greatest adult filmmakers of all time, one name comes to mind that is often overlooked, and that individual's name is Gerard Damiano. With his breakout hit DEEP THROAT, he helped usher in the "Golden Age of Adult Films" and made it chic to see a "dirty movie" at your local cinema. With his follow up film THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, Damino pulled no punches when it came to making the movie; addressing themes such as life, death, suicide, lust, greed, promiscuity and loneliness. In 2019, the folks at Vinegar Syndrome has released his third feature, one that I've only seen posters of and maybe few stills here and there. Finally, I had the pleasure of seeing Damiano's forgotten and most erotic arthouse adult film MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE.

The film's official synopsis: The only thing missing from Aggie’s life…was Aggie. In the middle of nowhere lives middle aged Aggie, with her wheelchair bound companion Richard. As snow falls outside, Aggie tries desperately to remember the circumstances under which they met. As she plays through in her mind a series of possible scenarios, only to dismiss each as a false past, she inadvertently begins to reveal an increasingly dark portrait of her true self, leading to the unexpected and shocking reality of her relationship with Richard.

I can honestly say that I have never seen an adult film like this before! Ever! The tone is very mysterious and psychologically dark, yet erotic and loving. I noticed that he film references a couple of movies that most fans of cinema will recognize: Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 iconic horror film PSYCHO and Ingmar Bergamn's 1966  psychological drama PERSONA. The movie lifts a lot from these two cinematic treasures, especially PSYCHO; with it's traumatic ending that, one can see coming, yet hard not to be shocked! Again, this was something completely new to me and it was a very interesting viewing experience!

Original Theatrical Poster (1974)
Damiano really shows off his directing chops with the film, carefully crafting a balance between art and sex. His compositions and set-ups feel very European; with it's use of simple camera shots, low lighting, intimate close-ups, and few edits, it helps elevate the movie from its simple definition of a "porno flick." The movie is an example of just how talented Damiano was and how he was willing to take chances and to make sex artistic within the adult film world. He is one of a few filmmakers within the genre that when you watch a movie, you can tell who made it. I would like to state that Damiano was, and still is, a true film auteur in the annuls of adult cinema history!

On September 19, 2015, the website The Rialto Report posted an article entitled, "Adult Film Locations 4: In Search of Miss Aggie, The Devil and Miss Jones." In the article, they went on a mission to locate the famous locations that were featured in both THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES and MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE: the infamous house and countryside locations. After conducting some serious research, and contacting those who were there, they eventually found out where both films were shot: an old apple-packing plant located in Milanville, Pennsylvania, about a hour's drive from New York. Also mentioned were the bridge and the Conklin Hill Church that was used, as well as several pictures of what the area looks now with screen grabs from both films for comparisons.

For this new release, the film was newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 16mm archival negative elements. The final results are really fantastic, making this the best version of the movie! For so many years, fans of the movie had to deal with the dark, murky, and blurry transfers that looked like they were from old VHS copies, but now those can be tossed aside and recycled. There's also a couple of special features on the discs: a promotional still and article gallery and the film's theatrical trailer. Granted, I wished there more on here, but since most of the key players of the film have passed on (Damiano and Reems more specifically), it would have been nice to hear from Eric Edwards and have him share some of his thoughts and memories on making the film. The combo has has a reversible cover artwork, and the first 1,000 copies has a cool looking, special limited edition embossed slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr. (As I am writing this review, the limited edition slipcovers are now sold out, and there are only 351 copies left of the standard version).

MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE  is an undiscovered erotic masterpiece that perfectly showcases the talent of the legendary Gerard Damiano! It's a movie that, almost 45 years later, still continues to attract new fans while remaining a favorite with those who saw it originally in theaters. With it's combination of European arthouse visuals, intense eroticism, and shocking finale, the film perfectly captures what the Golden Age of Adult Films was all about and remains one of Damiano's best films that you haven't seen yet!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!



MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE  is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at vinegarsyndrome.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Phil sees ROMA at the 3Below Theaters & Louge - February 1, 2019

Theatrical Movie Poster (2018)
ROMA

Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Nancy García García, Daniela Demesa, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Verónica García
Written by Alfonso Cuarón
Cinematography by Alfonso Cuarón
Edited by Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough
Produced by Alfonso Cuarón, Gabriela Rodriguez, Nicolas Celis
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Releases by Netflix

It's been a while since I've watched a movie in a theater, but with all the praise and attention I've been hearing about today's film, I decided to treat myself to a cinematic adventure! So, I headed over to the awesome 3Below Theaters and Lounge here in Downtown San Jose to watch one of the most visually stunning, heart strings pulling, emotionally charged and, in my humble opinion, of the best films so far of 2019! Now the film was actually released late December of last year, so I'm pretty later to the game. But like the old saying goes, "Better that than never." And so, I finally got to see ROMA up on the big screen!

The film's official synopsis: The most personal project to date from Academy Award-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien), ROMA follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.

It's nice to see writer/director Alfonso Cuarón return to his roots; creating a thoughtful, provocative, emotional, and personal style of film! While his previous films GRAVITY, CHILDREN OF MEN, and HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN were a great platform to show off his directing chops, it was his coming-of-age masterpiece Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN that made me a fan. Here, Cuarón restrains himself with several long, unedited takes, simple set-ups and compositions, and panning the camera either left or right; creating an intricate and intimate work of art! His camera lingers for several seconds, even minutes, taking the audience into this world that we are unfamiliar with, and making us feel as if we're a part of it.

Credit also goes to Cuarón for the look of the movie, shooting on 65mm in black and white, which we hardly never see these days!! By doing this, the film has the feel of an old photograph; telling us a story that we have never heard of. By shooting in black and white, the movie takes on a variety of emotions. It's beautiful yet bleak, breathtaking and haunting, it's raw and unflinching with its characters, but we're emotionally invested with everyone that we cannot help feel sympathetic with all of them. Again, it's very reminiscent of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN and that's a very high compliment!!

Bringing this movie to life requires a talented cast, and our lead actress Yalitza Aparicio, who portrays Cleo, is absolutely amazing! Her performance was just stunningly gripping and emotionally powerful and real! Now to my surprise, this was her acting debut!! Holy shit!! If this was her first film, just imagine how much more she'll grow as an actress in the next several years!! I cannot wait to see her again in future movies!!

As I write this review, the movie has garnered so much attention and acclaim that it's been nominated for ten, count them, TEN Academy Awards already! Some of the film's nominations include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Aparicio), Best Cinematography, and Best Foreign Film for example! I, for one, will be watching the Oscars very closely because this film deserves to win all ten nominations!!

ROMA is my pick for Best Film of 2019!! This was such a magnificent film and a return for Cuarón that I'm very excited for him, his cast and crew, and for the film itself! Even though it is also streaming on Netflix (they are the films distributor), I would seriously recommend you to see it at your local theater if it's screening there! To see it on the big screen is a cinematic experience that you will want to witness!! May favorite film so far this year!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


ROMA is playing in select theaters in a limited theatrical run in select cities nationwide, including the 3Below Theaters & Louge here in Downtown San Jose. To view showtimes, visit their website at 3belowtheaters.com. The film is also streaming exclusively on Netflix. To start your subscription, visit their website at www.netflix.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Phil's Cult Classics: THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE (1991) from Vinegar Syndrome - January 30, 2019

THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE Slipcover Blu-Ray
THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE (1991)

Starring Craig Peck, Wendy Bednarz, Mark Collver, Bonnie Bowers, John Carhart III, Claudia Flores, Jeff Dachis, Lisa Grant
Written by Rolfe Kanefsky
Cinematography by Ed Hershberger
Edited by Victor Kanefsky
Produced by Victor Kanefsky
Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky
Originally released by Prism Entertainment
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

Greetings and salutations gore hounds! I decided to continue my theme from my previous review, and for today, I watched another Troma movie that was just released by Vinegar Syndrome on a brand new Blu-Ray/DVD combo. Now I did a review of this movie back in 2016, but with this new release, I felt that I needed to do a new write-up for it. After all, with it's fourth wall breaking, creature feature vibe, laugh-out-loud gags, nudity, and gore galore, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE still remains one of the greatest cult hits of the early 1990's!

The film's official synopsis: Mike is always getting in the way of fun. His obsession with horror movies and their rules dictates that no matter where he goes, he can’t help but expect to find a monster lurking around every corner. But this time, his paranoia might be justified…After being invited to a remote lodge, along with some friends, Mike immediately begins to sense that something isn’t right, but none of his friends believe him. Unfortunately, they’re dead wrong, and a slimy alien frog monster has indeed landed in the nearby woods and set out to fulfill it’s mission of killing all human males and mating with females. Can Mike convince his friends that there IS something out there, before the men have their brains sucked out and the women are carrying green mutant fetuses?

Director Rolfe Kanefsky was only twenty years old when he made the film back in 1990. Plus, he wrote the script during his senior year in high school. Now back in those days, movies were shot on film and Kanefsky shot his directorial debut on 16mm film stock. His father Victor helped edit and produce the film. The budget was about $350,000 but back in 1990 that was a lot of money. Now that would barely cover craft services these days in Hollywood. What I loved about the movie was the script, which was very funny, clever and unique. It was a horror film with comedy that referenced horror films of the past. Does this sound familiar? Well, it should because five years later legendary director Wes Craven's SCREAM would do the exact same thing. Both Kanefsky and his film were way ahead of their time.

The actors and actresses were awesome in the film. Lead actor Craig Peck, who portrayed our horror aficionados Mike, is funny, smart and is a walking encyclopedia of horror movie trivia. He has the best one-liners and is the hero we all would want to be! Bonnie Bowers' character Stacy was in a sexy two-piece bikini for most of the whole film and was a total professional! That must've been very difficult to pull off, but she made it look so easy.
Original Theatrical Poster (1991)
The movie was originally released on VHS by Prism Entertainment back in the mid-90's. Years later, Image Entertainment release a special edition DVD version of the movie. Then in 2011, our good friends at Troma Entertainment released an ultra cool two-disc 20th anniversary special edition with all kinds of special features. And then out of nowhere, Vinegar Syndrome announced late in 2018 that they were planning on releasing the film on Blu-Ray for the very first time!

The movie was newly scanned & restored in 2k from it’s 35mm interpositive and it looks impressive. The picture looks much sharper and clearer, the colors look brighter and clean, and looks like a brand new movie! The combo package has a reversible cover artwork, and for collectors, there's a special limited edition embossed slipcover and is limited to only 2,000 units! The slipcover is designed by Earl Kessler Jr. and it looks super cool! This limited edition slipcover is available only at the Vinegar Syndrome website. 

Vinegar Syndrome spared no expense when it came to its special features, and boy, are they special! Just check out what's on the discs: “There’s A Movie Out There” – new interview with writer/director Rolfe Kanefsky and editor Victor Kanefsky, ”40 Years Of Cutting” – new interview with Victor Kanefsky, new interview with actor Craig Peck, a brand new group commentary with director Rolfe Kanefsky, Joe Lynch (filmmaker), Jeff Reddick (filmmaker) and others. There's also several short films to watch as well: ”Copycat” – a short film about the film’s influence, ”Murder in Winter” – an early feature film by Rolfe Kanefsky (Blu-ray only), ”Just Listen” and ”Mood Boobs”with a behind the scenes of “Mood Boobs” as well. Then there's all the special features that were imported from the Troma DVD release: Archival ‘20th anniversary’ commentary with Rolfe Kanefsky, archival group commentary with Rolfe Kanefsky, Victor Kanefsky, Craig Peck, Mark Collver and others, archival interview with Rolfe Kanefsky, theatrical trailer, music video, production stills gallery, behind the scenes rehearsal footage, pre-production footage and video storyboards, original cast auditions, and animation test footage and deleted shots. 

THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is one of the best indie horror/comedies from the early 90's and has gone on to became modern day cult classic! The film still continues to attract new viewers to this very day! Now with this new release, old school fans and newbies alike will be able to see the very best version of the film ever released! If your looking for a wild, wacky, off-the wall, cult classic to watch tonight, then make a date with Mike and the gang and watch this fantastic fun fright flick tonight! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at vinegarsyndrome.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Phil's Horror Watch: SPLATTER UNIVERSITY (1984) from Vinegar Syndrome - Jan. 30, 2019

SPLATTER UNIVERSITY Slipcover Blu-Ray
SPLATTER UNIVERSITY (1984)

Starring Forbes Riley (as Francine Forbes), Ric Randig, Dick Biel, Kathy LaCommare, Laura Gold, Ken Gerson, Noel Stilphen, Mary Ellen David, Sal Lumetta
Written by Richard W. Haines, Michael Cunningham, John Elias Michalakis (as John Michaels), Miljan Peter Ilich
Cinematography by Fred Cohen, Jim Grib
Edited by Richard W. Haines
Produced by Richard W. Haines, John Elias Michalakis (as John Michaels), Miljan Peter Ilich
Directed by Richard W. Haines
Originally released by Troma Entertainment
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

Welcome back horror hounds to another horrifyingly scary installment of Phil's Horror Watch! Now as some of you may know, the 1980's had some of the best horror films ever made! With the slasher genre in full swing, and with latex make-up and special effects becoming more advance, horror movies were now more stained with blood and gore than ever before, and fans were flocking to the nearest theater to watch it all unfold on the big screen. One of these gems was the Troma Entertainment horror flick SPLATTER UNIVERSITY, which was just released by the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome.

The film's official synopsis: Years ago, a madman escaped from an asylum, slashing his way through to freedom and continuing his bloody rampage at nearby Saint Trinian’s College. Now, years later, new teacher Julie Parker, begins to sense that something isn’t quite right at the small town college and it’s not long before her students and fellow faculty members begin disappearing or, worse yet, are found brutally butchered. Determined to uncover the truth behind the ongoing violence, Julie begins her own investigation, unaware that she’s putting herself at risk of becoming the ruthless murderer’s next target.

The film was the feature length debut of Richard W. Haines, who would also co-direct another Troma classic CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH in 1986. Haines actually shot the film in 1981, but when it was edited together, he realized that it was only 65 minutes long. The following year, he shot extra footage to pad the film out to a lean, mean 79 minutes running time. However, this wasn't to be the first obstacle that he had to face. The film was shot at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and Haines and his crew were told that they could film there for two weeks during their spring break. But shortly after production began, the college told them that they only had one week to film, and many of the crew members slept in several of the classrooms so they could finish the project.

Original Theatrical Poster (1984)
While cheesy in some scenes, the film is quiet mean and nasty, with kills galore and bloodshed everywhere. The cast were fine in their roles, but shout out to the amazing Forbes Riley for carrying the film on her shoulders. She was the standout out of everybody; bringing depth, vulnerability, and class to her character Julie Parker. Again, she was fantastic, and I was shocked about what happened to her at the film's finale! Holy crap what a freaking ending!!

The movie was originally released to theaters on July 13, 1984 by Troma Entertainment, an independent film studio founded in 1974 by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz that's still in business to this very day! Believe it or not, the film actually played on the infamous 42nd Street in Times Square in New York! The movie was a success, and was eventually released on VHS from Troma, and later on DVD. Fun Fact: Troma model Elizabeth Kaitan was featured on both the film's poster and VHS cover, but wasn't in the movie. In late, 2018, Vinegar Syndrome announced that they would be releasing the movie on Blu-Ray for the very first time.

As for the transfer, it looks really fantastic! The film was newly scanned & restored in 2k from 16mm camera negative and looks better than ever. English SDH subtitles were also added to both disc and the combo features reversible cover artwork. For collectors, there's a special limited edition embossed slipcover and is limited to only 1,500 units! The slipcover is designed by Earl Kessler Jr. and looks awesome! This limited edition slipcover is available only at the Vinegar Syndrome website.

The combo disc comes packed with some cool extras. The special features include commentary track with director Richard W. Haines, a separate commentary with The Hysteria Continues!, audio interview with composer Christopher Burke, still gallery, theme song, script gallery, radio spots, original trailer, and TV spot.

SPLATTER UNIVERSITY is an unique, twisted, nasty horror movie that will appease even the most rabid horror fan! It's a movie that many people may not have seen nor heard, but now thanks to Vinegar Syndrome, the film is now ready to be seen by the whole world! And also thanks to Troma Entertainment for releasing it all those years ago! So grab your college friends and get ready to cram for this all-nighter of a flick!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


SPLATTER UNIVERSITY is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at vinegarsyndrome.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!