Massage Parlor Murders
Director - Sandra Peabody, Chris Jordan
Cast - Alex Stevens, Chester Fox
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 2
Distributor - Vinegar Syndrome
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 04/27/13
The Film (4/5)
Being an obsessive fan can be a difficult thing when that fandom goes on for decades. I have been an obsessed fan of genre cinema since childhood, and while I attribute my love of horror cinema to my love of cinema in general I still find myself most frequently viewing genre films more frequently than films of any other type.
The downside to this is when watching new movies I find myself going “been there done that, seen it done WAY better” quite often these days. If it is an older film I haven't seen the reasoning is either because it's either because I haven't had the time to get around to it, or because it's not a very good film. So when these cats at Vinegar Syndrome start unleashing some amazing obscurities into the marketplace they immediately had my attention.
Massage Parlor Murders is there 2nd Blu-ray release, and it is a film I have to admit I have never, ever heard of until the release announcement, but I have to admit that they sort of had me sold at the first viewing of the cover. A lurid very 70's looking image that just screamed watch this now SCOTT. When I actually watched the film I promptly had my mind blown away by this obscure genre entry that seemingly came from nowhere, and has now infected my exploitation loving brain.
Massage Parlor Murders seems like a low-budget slightly more stylish version of Fulci's New York Ripper if New York Ripper was directed by a more talented version of Herschell Gordon Lewis. The film has a really fantastic sleazy 70's exploitation atmosphere, and is chock full of gratuitous nudity, and violence. The acting in the film is definitely on the hammy side for the most part, but that's par for the course with a film of this ilk. It runs the gamut from sleazy to violent (but never over the top) to quite funny (not always intentionally).
The film in case the title didn't spell it out involves a rash of murders that involve massage parlor employees. These girls are being killed in various ways, and it's up to a pair of detectives to stop the killer before he can add to many more to his body count. The film is fairly straight-forward narratively speaking, but is an absolute blast to watch. Vinegar Syndrome have included 2 versions of the film in this package an 80 minute original cut that opens with a very interesting opening scene, that was cut from the re-release version which runs at 74 minutes in length. I would obviously go for the original cut if you're to pick one of these 2 based on that sequence alone.
Massage Parlor Murders is an interesting little obscurity of 70's exploitation that has been resurrected from the dead by those exploitation archaeologists at Vinegar Syndrome, and given its proper due at long last. For the exploitation and horror faithful that are looking for something good and fun. It has been found with this release of Massage Parlor Murders.
Vinegar Syndrome maintaining the quality of their prior Blu-ray release (The Lost Films of H.G. Lewis) have released Massage Parlor Murders in a truly stunning 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. The film looks incredible with a nice healthy organic film like appearance. This includes an organic looking grain structure. The colors are bright and pop, flesh tones are accurate, and fine detail is excellent throughout. There is some minor print damage and a few jittery moments throughout, however for the most part this is an absolutely fantastic transfer overall.
Vinegar Syndrome have presented the audio with a Dolby Digital 2.0. The audio is anything particular special, but it suits the film just fine. The dialogue is fairly audible throughout, although there some muddled moments (subtitles would have helped). All other elements are mixed nicely with the dialogue, and comes across nicely.
Aside from the two different version of the film that are mentioned earlier there isn't too much in the way of extras on the Vinegar Syndrome release of Massage Parlor Murders. There are 8 minutes of outtakes, 2 trailers for the film, radio spots, TV spots, and a nice booklet of liner notes, and also replica lab cards from the film.
Massage Parlor Murders is an absolute hidden gem of a film. The film is sleazy and fun, and I cannot recommend it enough. The A/V restoration from those awesome cats at Vinegar Syndrome is an absolute stunner, and though limited it's nice to have some extras included (the Liner Notes are a nice touch). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.