The Films (3/5 - Blood Mania , 4/5 - Point of Terror)
Vinegar Syndrome releases 2 films from the famed Crown International Films whose main commonality is the fact they both feature actor Peter Carpenter in either a prominent or starring role. The first film in the set Blood Mania follows Dr. Cooper (Peter Carpenter!) a doctor who is having issues with his taxes, and also happens to be treating the ailing Father (Eric Allison) of Victoria Waterman. Victoria is a spoiled heiress type, and has been taking care of her Father's needs for what may have been years for this point. She quickly falls in love with the monetarily troubled Doctor, and soon after kills her Father, and uses the Doctors help to cover up the crime with the understanding that she will help cover his debts. The cover up goes according to plan, but the inheritance that Victoria expected does not. That all goes to her estranged sister Gail. Of course, when this is announced Dr. Cooper sets his sights on her sister, who now becomes a target for the enraged and spurned Victoria.
Blood Mania, I loved it, but it is a film that has issues when viewing it from a traditional perspective. The first half of the film, roughly, is a bit of a slog, and plays out more like a 1970's soap opera than anything in the horror genre. The film picks up significantly in it's latter half when Victoria's jealous rage takes off. Of course, the first half does have elements of sleaze and sexuality that will certainly make it watchable for the exploitation faithful. It also has a pretty nifty credit sequence, and stylistically I found it colorful, and quite visually interesting. There is significant overacting here, but it was fun to watch, and I got a kick out of the whole thing.
Point of Terror stars Peter Carpenter as Tony Trelos, an under-appreciated, and unsigned lounge singer who currently finds himself doing twice nightly sets at a beachside club called the "Lobster House". One afternoon he wakes up from a nap at a private beach to find himself in the presence of the owner of "National Records" Andrea Hillard, who has taken over the company since her husband has been paralyzed and finds himself in a wheelchair and unable to do the things he has previously done. She begins an affair with him, with the intent on his part to get a record deal and an album out.
Of course, her husband gets wind of the affair and does everything he can to sabotage the contract. When physical evidence is revealed, he ends up killed. Tony, not being exactly bright thinks this is his chance to marry Andrea, who only views him as a piece of meat. When she admits this to him, they both try to blackmail each other to no avail. Tony then ends up in a relationship with Andrea’s stepdaughter, and marries her, and things get further complicated from there.
OK, so dear reader if you are to see the cover art for this film you might think "horror film", and you would be right to have that opinion if you were to base it on the promotional material. However, this is anything but a horror film. Like Blood Mania the film is loaded up with soap opera elements, such as heavy drama and over the top acting. The film doesn't have a lot of death scenes in it, and really just plays out as the story of a man trying to sleaze his way to the top. Most viewers would watch the film as a throwaway bad film, but like Blood Mania I found myself drawn into its weird world and atmosphere.
The film has some lovely Bava-esque lighting, and some scenes that are so borderline ridiculous that one of them I literally had to rewind to make sure what was happening was actually happening as being depicted. The film has issues with pacing, but I almost always found myself entertained throughout the film's running time, by some element of the piece.
Vinegar Syndrome does here what Vinegar Syndrome does best and they restored both Blood Mania and Point of Terror to their highest quality ever seen on home video and possibly ever. The Blu-ray's present the films in their original 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfers. Detail here is excellent the lavish colors of both films are well persevered and blacks are deep.
Audio for both films are presented in DTS-HD Mono for both films. Both films sound clear and crisp, and I could find no issues with either.
Blood Mania comes with a commentary track with director Robert Vincent O'Neill, Leslie Simms, and Vicki Peters. There are also video interviews and intros with O'Neill and Simms. Vinegar Syndrome also includes trailers, TV spots, and galleries for both films.
These 2 Crown International Blu-ray releases from Vinegar Syndrome are a blast. Both films are treated to an extensive A/V restoration and look and sound fabulous. Extras are included and are predictably excellent. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.