I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
This week’s movies are for the cinephiles with strong stomachs. There are a couple of lighter features to consume, most definitely. It’s all blood, bones and everything that sends your lunch back up. I’ve probably already lost 99 percent of you, and that’s OK because there’s another article on the site with your name on it. But for those 1-percenters who get down on garbage horror films, dig in.
THE GREEN INFERNO (2013)
Rated R, 101 minutes:
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Magda Apanowicz, Sky Ferreira, Ignacia Allamand and Ramón Llao
Available today on 2-Disc Blu-ray Collector’s Edition through Scream Factory.
Movie Grade: B-
Taking the lead this week is perhaps the most curious title in the litter, Eli Roth’s 2013 cannibal horror film THE GREEN INFERNO. The immensely graphic film pays homage to other controversial movies that deal with people eating people, such as 1976’s EATEN ALIVE, 1980’s CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and 1981’s CANNIBAL TERROR. Like many of those movies, it involves an Amazonian tribe devouring the unfortunate souls of those who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only THE GREEN INFERNO has an Eli Roth twist: What if one of those cannibal tribes got stoned on marijuana and got a bad case of the munchies?
There’s a lot more going on than just that silly concept. It takes about 45 minutes before any humans become dinner. The first part of the film is the build-up, which involves a college student named Justine (Lorenza Izzo) who becomes smitten with a student activist, Alejandro (Ariel Levy), as he goes on a hunger strike to bring attention to underpaid janitors.
Justine decides to get involved in Alejandro’s next project: to save the Amazon from being bulldozed to the ground a la FERNGULLY. However, once they arrive and she’s put through a scary situation, Justine immediately regrets her decision. She regrets it even more when their plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle, where she and the rest of the group (including Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton and Nicolás Martínez) are held captive by a tribe of hungry cannibals.
THE GREEN INFERNO is not for the faint of heart. Roth’s film gets downright disgusting, especially when one poor dude has his eyes ripped out and eaten, which is then followed by him slowly getting dismembered, peppered and consumed. There are even some other moments that are perplexingly gross. Roth aims to play some of these moments for laughs, but they ring awkwardly. Tonal shifts are one of the film’s ultimate flaws.
Despite all its idiotic characters and weird plot decisions, THE GREEN INFERNO looks appetizing on the surface. The costume design (most notably the members of the tribe) and the gore effects take the cake. Aesthetically speaking, Roth knocks it out of the park like his INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS character. If you’re familiar with Roth’s other work like CABIN FEVER or the HOSTEL films, he most certainly knows how to make you light-headed with all his authentic garnish. When someone is getting eaten, boy does it look real. So, if strong horror effects are your thing, THE GREEN INFERNO is worth its weight in gold.
Extras Grade: A
What gives this release its value is its stunning collector’s packaging and killer-good special features. Scream Factory assembled the definitive disc. The two-disc set includes an exclusive original CD soundtrack with bonus tracks, new interviews with the cast and filmmakers, an audio commentary with Roth and his cast, behind-the-scenes footage, a making-of featurette, a theatrical trailer, TV spots and still galleries.
The quality of the interviews is spectacular, especially Roth’s. Roth goes into deep dives, dishing about how a group of Christian missionaries came across the movie set and became alarmed when they saw all the gory props. They sang religious songs louder to the village they were visiting to cast the devil out of it. Other great stories include Roth and his cast talking about filming with the villagers and how they never heard of movies before the filmmakers were scouting locations. To get their blessing to shoot film in their village and have them be a part of the film, the producers showed them their first movie, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, which they took as a comedy and loved. Great stuff!
NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986)
Rated R, 88 minutes for the theatrical cut and 90 minutes for the director’s cut.
Director: Fred Dekker
Cast: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow and David Paymer
Available today on a 2-Disc Blu-ray Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory.
Movie Grade: B+
Not quite as graphic but still packed with head explosions and all the delicious B-movie ingredients is NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, the 1986 Fred Dekker horror-comedy.
Also being put back out on the streets by Scream Factory, the film is a greatest hits collection of some of the genre’s best. It centers on an alien experiment gone awry. (Think PROMETHEUS with a side plate of SLITHER and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.) An alien capsule falls to Earth in 1959 and infects a young college student (Ken Heron). Fast forward about 30 years and we find that the student’s body was cryogenically frozen. Well, until a pair of fraternity pledges (Jason Lively and Steve Marshall) stumble upon the body, thaw it out and accidentally unleash it on campus, where alien creatures quickly turn smiles upside down (or they shoot a weird substance directly into your mouth and virtually turn you into a zombie).
NIGHT OF THE CREEPS tips its hat to many of the genre best directors. Some characters are even named after them. (Chris Romero, Detective Landis and Sgt. Raimi, to name a few.) Overall, the film is a fun experience. It has many creative movie kills, terrific practical effects and that lovely 1980s charm. (Any flick that uses the song “Let Go” by Intimate Strangers is pretty cool in my book.) Of course, the movie has dated gender politics and moments that’ll give you a case of the cringe, but the film is too much of a blast to let that sink its ship. I mean, the great Tom Atkins delivering the line, “Ladies, the good news is your dates are here. The bad news is that they’re dead,” doesn’t get much better.
Extras Grade: A-
Like THE GREEN INFERNO, Scream Factory makes this collector’s edition more special with its bonus content. On top of having a stylish cardboard slipcover with original artwork by Mindy Kang, the two-disc collector’s edition includes new interviews with its cast (make sure you watch Atkin’s insightful segment); audio commentaries; deleted scenes with the original theatrical ending; making-of and behind-the-scenes featurettes; a theatrical trailer and a still gallery.
THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982)
Not rated, 93 minutes.
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, Howard Ross, Andrea Occhipinti, Alexandra Delli Colli, Paolo Malco and Cinzia de Ponti
Available today on a 3-Disc Blu-ray Collector’s Edition through Blue Underground and MVD Entertainment Group.
Movie Grade: B-
1982’s THE NEW YORK RIPPER, the story of a vicious serial killer who stalks and murders young women who walk around the Big Apple, is among the most uncomfortable movies I have ever watched. Similar to 1980’s MANIAC (which also was recently repackaged on a special three-disc collector’s edition by Blue Underground), this slasher features graphic violence and nudity. A large portion of the film is the killer squawking like Donald Duck and turning women inside out, most of which are left dead, with their breasts exposed. It’s not exactly an enjoyable experience. You have to be a certain kind of film fan to appreciate all of what unfolds because the mystery aspect won’t cut it for general moviegoers.
The only redeeming qualities are, again, the gore effects (which are at their peak here), the outstanding 4K restoration (from its original camera negative, completely uncut and uncensored, and fully loaded with exclusive new extras) and the exceptional supplemental material.
Considering the movie was directed by Lucio Fulci (1979’s ZOMBIE and 1990’s CAT IN THE BRAIN), who’s no stranger to pissing off the masses, you have to expect to be disturbed to a grand degree. However, he was a filmmaker who knew how to paint the floor red with unflinching authenticity. You have to be mad to pull off what he does. And the bonus features dive into all of what made him unique as a storyteller.
So, proceed with caution. Expect to feel extremely uncomfortable. But if you watch it with the right crowd and pour a few drinks for yourself, fun can be had.
Extras Grade: A+
Don’t buy this movie for the film (an odd thing to say, I know), buy it because it’s a beautiful piece of shelf jewelry and the extras are exceptional lessons in horror filmmaking.
The lenticular box art and it’s thick, three-disc 4K packaging are to die for. The same goes for the incredibly perceptive extras, which include an audio commentary, numerous interviews with the talent, specials that examine Fulci’s work, filming locations then and now, a theatrical trailer and a poster and still gallery.
Complete Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
- The Art Of Killing – Interview with Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti
- Three Fingers Of Violence – Interview with Star Howard Ross
- The Second Victim – Interview with Co-Star Cinzia de Ponti
- The Broken Bottle Murder – Interview with Co-Star Zora Kerova
- “I’m an Actress!” – 2009 Interview with Co-Star Zora Kerova
- The Beauty Killer – Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
- Paint Me Blood Red – Interview with Poster Artist Enzo Sciotti
- NYC Locations Then and Now
- Theatrical Trailer
- Poster & Still Gallery
- BONUS! THE NEW YORK RIPPER Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Francesco De Masi
- BONUS! Collectable Booklet with new essay by Travis Crawford