[Fresh on Blu-ray] Blue Underground, MVD Rewind release a crop of films that have to be seen to be believed

0

James Clay // Film Critic

DEAD & BURIED

Rated R, 94 minutes.
Director: Gary Sherman
Cast: James Farentno, Jack Albertson

Watching the credits for the spooky 1981 movie DEAD & BURIED is as shocking as the film itself. The talent behind the scenes went on to helm larger projects for decades to come, with names like Steven Poster (DONNIE DARKO) coming up as cinematographer, Dan O’ Bannon (ALIEN, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) writing the script and director Gary Sherman. He directed a limp POLTERGEIST sequel (POLTERGEIST III) that haunts audiences to this day for many different reasons than the filmmakers intended. Lastly, the forever immortalized makeup effects legend Stan Winston took care of the gore. Thankfully this impressive roster doesn’t disappoint and, in many ways, delivered an unsung 80s horror gem. Thanks to Blue Underground’s release, this is now available on 4K.

Taking place in the breezy coastal town of Potter’s Bluff, the sheriff played by James Farentino (THE FINAL COUNTDOWN) is in over his head. He’s cleverly paired with the town’s appropriately odd mortician played by Jack Albertson (of WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY fame. To uncover why a group of people is brutally murdering the citizens in a ritualistic fashion. 

DEAD & BURIED is a borderline excellent horror film filled with slight humor, dread, and time for the atmosphere to creep in like a fog. Gary Sherman knew what he wanted to achieve with this project allowing the actors to play while each department executed their assignments perfectly. Coming from O’ Bannon, I’m personally not surprised that this team was able to create a provocative and genuinely pretty scary picture that pairs well alongside films like THE WICKER MAN or anything slightly folksy. Farentino is fantastic as a reluctant skeptic, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll see a spry Robert Englund appearing in a few scenes. 

Rent or Buy? I am new to the Blue Underground scene, but every disc I have had the pleasure of reviewing has been top-notch in terms of audio/visual quality. Some of the features may carry over from the blu ray release, but the William Lustig (MANIAC) helmed label makes it worth your while with artwork and packaging. DEAD & BURIED is a sleeper gem that should be seen to be believed. Go ahead and crack the piggy bank open because this one isn’t exactly cheap.

Grade: B+

THE GO-GO BOYS THE INSIDE STORY OF CANON FILMS

Rated N/A, 88 minutes.
Director: Hilla Medalia
Cast: Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus

Lately, I’ve been going hard collecting titles from the MVD REWIND collection, and while the films are an acquired taste, the transfers and packaging have been the reason I keep coming back for more. Like Vinegar Syndrome’s catalog, you have to know what you’re getting into with the Rewind Collection. More often than not, you’ll be in store for a pitch-perfect piece of dirtbag cinema perfectly catered to the 90s straight-to-video fan in us all. 

With the release of THE GO-GO BOYS: THE INSIDE STORY OF CANNON FILMS, they threw us a bit of a curveball by releasing a documentary. However strange it may be, this gives fans the context surrounding many films on the periphery of the Rewind Collection, which is a pretty clever bit of curating. 

Too bad THE GO-GO BOYS film doesn’t live up to that hype. The film directed by Hilla Medalia is a drab-looking talking heads interview-style. By cutting back to Cannon founders Manahem Golan (the dreamer and artist) and Yoram Globus (the strategist and pocketbook), they tell their story in a way that feels stilted disingenuous is rather apparent. Cannon Films was a company build and marketed for being edgy, but this film only focuses on the positive. An uncomfortable moment in the interview brings an aging Golan’s blood to a boil as he refuses to discuss the parts of his story that were less successful. That moment right there is fascinating as it’s happening, but it meant the entire film was sugar-coated and unbelievable upon reflection. As much as I love Rewind movies, this one was a disappointment. 

Rent or Buy? Collection completists will be buying this film either way. The artwork is evocative and contains stills of the two infamous men surrounded by images of the characters in their films, including Superman. (Lest we forget Cannon films released SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE.) This is a hard skip for me. 

Grade: C-

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

Rated R, 91 minutes.
Director: Mark Rosman
Cast: Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson

Yet another gorgeous-looking horror movie bolstered up by a thoroughly detailed transfer. If THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW can look this good on blu ray, it’s starting to seem like anything is cinematically possible. This is yet another low-key release by the Rewind Collection that has a bit of a reputation and, oddly enough, a legacy following the 2006 remake SORORITY ROW. 

Their house mother is tormenting the young women of Theta Pi, and after a prank went wrong, she winds up dead but not buried. As luck turns out, Theta Pi is all out of goodwill, and they are stalked and killed one by one until the film’s haunting conclusion. 

Patience is the key here as the film, at only 91 minutes, takes a long time to build. It could be a murky setting or the long set pieces, but this is one film that moves at a glacial pace. Yet, despite the shoddy pacing, the film has an atmosphere and a committed cast, including Kathryn McNeil and Eileen Davidson. 

Rent or Buy? This is one of the more loaded special feature releases from the Rewind Collection and truly will please hardcore slasher fans. Included are multiple commentaries on the film from Rosman (solo) and Rosman and the cast. Also included are interviews with composer Richard Band (highly recommended interview) and members of the cast.

Grade: C+

These titles can be purchased from MVD Entertainment’s website and all major online retailers.

About author

James C. Clay

James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.