The Film (3.5/5)
Two elderly and rich sisters invite their family and their respective spouses to their annual birthday dinner party at their isolated mansion. Each and every one of the family members are greedily after the sisters' fortune, except for one; the one who was written out of the will for being the devil worshipping black sheep of the family. When a mysterious box arrives at their gate's entrance with a card from the sisters' estranged relative, they feel they've been too hard on him and graciously accept and open the gift at the dinner table with all around. The box was empty and a strange mist lingers from out the box; the sisters thought the box was a lovely gift in itself, but the mist had other intentions and turns the old ladies into blood thirsty, flesh eating rabid creatures, turning almost instantly right there at the dinner table. As the family members scatter throughout the mansion looking for a place to hide, the two rabid grannies stalk through the halls, hunting them down to rip them apart and have them, literally, for family dinner.
"Rabid Grannies" is one of Troma's most interesting and infamous gore films that delivers the blood and the effects without being too stern and on-point with the plot. The Belgian born horror film was developed in a portion of a decade where outrageous gore films, such as "Bad Taste," "Evil Ed," and "Dead Alive" we're becoming highly popular amongst the youth of that time. The characters were well established in their own right as stereotypical characters serving their greed, lust for wealth, and selfishness up on a fleshly platter and amongst those disliked characters are a priest who isn't very priestlike, a drunkard fat man whose gut becomes his very demise, and a well dressed and spoken socialite whose arrogance with an automatic rifle is cut down brutally by the vicious sisters.
Writer-director Emmanuel Kervyn does a fair amount of good with the film when compared it's simple screenplay and story. The pace seemed well timed and the events of the terrifying night move along without a pinch of slowness or any rapid fire of kills and rings in favor of Kervyn's ability to lockdown a solid hour (or a hour and half depending on the version you watch) of a gory movie that's highly entertaining. The shredding and severing of limbs and the rest of the zany death sequences capture the all or nothing aspect of the film's soul and doesn't apologize for the budgetary constrained effects because the effects do look good and believable despite a modest budget of $150,000.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo from Troma has three cuts of the film. Contrary to what the back of the combo cover states at a runtime of 89 minutes, only the DVD edition comes that close to that marker, clocking in at 88:35. The Blu-ray cut times in at 68:27 while the producer's cut is a little bit longer at 69:46. The only difference between the two cuts is the amount of time of black screen intro before the film actually starts through to the opening credits. The producer's cut has nearly two minutes of nothing; cuts made to create a better and more timely version of the film.
Audio / Video (0.5/5)
While the Blu-ray 2.35:1 widescreen "HD transfer" of "Rabid Grannies" was highly anticipated by many, the result was a sure let down for all. With a significantly low bit rate and with color hues all over the map, the Blu-ray cut version and the producer's cut of this film is barely digestible. The display looks far from natural as the coloring schemes mesh and flip back and forth as if the Troma team picked and chose, pulling scenes from every single release of the film and meshed them together. The Dark blue tinting creates aggravating black shadows that cooks the scene into a overly, road kill well done sort of way to where portions of the film were unwatchable. What's also a true tragedy is that the gore scenes implemented into the blu-ray version were basically "blacked" out by this tinting. Incorrect and tightened framing causes low resolution in some of the more intense scenes and come off as a bit blurry and this is in part to crop out Danish subtitles which is also another reason I believe that this film is a mixed bag of editions.
The DVD edition that accompanies contains far better quality from the VHS stock with a clear, more vibrant coloring, still bland but at least no tint, that creates a more natural look. However, this longer cut of the film doesn't have all the gore sequences which are cut out.
The audio is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track with established dubbing over the Belgian dialect. The dialogue tracks are rather muddled with slight static and high frequencies making the track sometimes inaudible. The score is a nice highlight from out of the rummage but in a bittersweet fashion, the score also contributes to the inaudibility of dialogue when paralleled with the issues above. There are points when the dialogue is clear, but the inconsistency makes the simple plot harder to comprehend.
The Blu-ray portion of the combo pack includes deleted scenes which are great if you want the good quality of the DVD cut. The reason being is that since the DVD cut cut out most of the gore, the deleted scenes are all the death scenes spliced together with the menu presentational score. The extras also contain an interview with producer Johan Vandewoestijne and a mock interview segment entitled "What the Hell Happened to You?" that has a Troma interviewer asking questions to Rabid Granny "Eve."
The DVD comes with separate extras that include a director commentary, outtakes, footage of the cut gore scenes, and Troma trailers.
Dress "Rabid Grannies" up in a snazzy-looking Blu-ray cover and market it as a HD transfer from the original materials and this should be a clear cut winner where gore lovers should be all over this release like the evil grannies over their delicious-tasting relatives. Instead, the audio and video quality is in shambles and seriously puts a dark cloud over the well intended carnage. The option to own all three cuts its tempting, but to retrieve the full film you have to embark into the extras to quench your blood thirst if you go down the DVD path. I wouldn't totally disregard this release, but I'm disappointed on how the outcome was handled.