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Vinegar Syndrome
 

Black Friday 2017

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Vinegar Syndrome are one of the great labels going today.  Two times a year on Black Friday, and "Halfway to Black Friday" They surprise their fans, by issuing secret titles on Blu-ray, as well restored, and chock full of extras as any of their other titles. Some times these titles are not as big as some of their other releases, but on Black Friday 2017 they have released some pretty huge titles, and if you are fans of cult horror and Sci-Fi you will want to take notice, and pick these up, because not only are these great additions to your collection, they are entertaining, well restored, and fully loaded with excellent special features.

 

Disconnected

Director: Gorman Bechard

Cast: Frances Raines, Mark Walker

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 2

Writer - Scott MacDonald

    You might want to ignore the synopsis on IMDB for this one, because it is wayyyyy off. In Disconnected Alicia(Frances Raines, The Mutilator) is a video store clerk in her early 20's.  She goes out to bars with her boyfriend Mike, but their relationship is not all it's cracked up to be, and is soon ruined by her twin sister Barbara Ann (Also, Frances Raines). 

    One evening, an old man enters her house, tampers with her phone, and soon after she begins to receive noisy disturbing phone calls she can't explain. In the midst of this she begins to date the all too charming Franklin Haze (Mark Walker), who seems to be the perfect guy to help her get over Mike's infidelity. Unfortunately, Franklin is a serial killer who happens to be taking local women home to his bed, sleeping with them, and killing them with a knife in his end table. It would appear Alicia is next on his hit list.

      Disconnected is probably the best 80's slasher discovery I have seen this year. It is a very charming and moderately paced affair that feels like a precursor to the slacker films of the early 90's (Slacker, Reality Bites), but on a shoestring budget. Even the kills feel like a cursory afterthought, and oddly that is part of the charm of this.   I had a smile on my face from the first frame to the last when watching this one. 

    The director Gorman Bechard (Psychos in Love) made a film that effectively blended elements of slacker comedy and drama, with elements of the surreal that do not hold the audiences hand, and just flow from one moment to the next.   The performances throughout are nicely effectively, and fit the material, and I couldn't help but notice the director paying a light homage to 60's Bergman in some of the visuals.

    Vinegar Syndrome presents the film with a new 1080p AVC encoded transfer that looks spectacular. It has a nice organic grain structure, that makes everything look film like (seriously you would have thought I was projecting a print when this was on my screen), well detailed, and nice stable colors. There were moments where things were slightly faded, but that was probably the production or the source material.  The sound is a mono track in English, everything sounds clear and crisp and I did not detect any issues. Extras are stacked, we get a commentary track with director Bechard and co-star Carmine Capobianco. We also get multiple on camera interviews, a Q & A at the New Haven film festival, and more.

The Film (5/5)

Audio/Video (4/5)

Extras (4/5)

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Ice Cream Man

Director: Norman Apstein

Cast: Clint Howard, Justin Isfeld

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 2

Writer - Scott MacDonald

    Gregory is a former patient at the Wishing Well Mental Hospital that has recently purchased a run down former ice cream factory, and is trying to make it his own. He lives next door to his former nurse, and is taking to the streets trying to make all the children happy as the new ice cream man. Unfortunately, he can't put his troubles behind him, he begins to kidnap children, and kill the people who get in between him and his frozen treat based mission. Can the police and kids stop him before he gets them?

    I first saw Ice Cream Man as a free rental when I worked at a Blockbuster Video that was barren of quality horror, and did not think much of it at the time. Revisiting it 20 years later, and pretty soon after watching the recent Scream Factory Blu-ray of John Water's Serial Mom, I found the film a surprise treat, and what would make an excellent B-Side to the Water's film. Apstein's suburban horror film is a thrilling little camp horror comedy that just zings. It's not a classic by any means, but it is a funny, trashy, campy blast.

    The film is grounded by an excellent, bizarro performance by Clint Howard (Rock and Roll High School, Star Trek: TOS), as Gregory.   Howard really chews the scenery in this one with a gravel-throated voice, and hair that resembles a balding Eraserhead.  The rest of the cast is filled in with a who's who of cult film greatness including David Naughton (American Werewolf in London), Olivia Hussey (Turkey Shoot, Black Christmas), Jan-Michael Vincent (Xtro II), and David Warner (Time Bandits), and a cast of children, who have a pretty natural talent and chemistry with one another.

     Ice Cream Man is presented by Vinegar Syndrome in a stunning 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the OAR of the film. Everything here looks impeccable, black levels are inky and deep, colors are well reproduced, and detail is excellent. Audio is handled with a DTS-HD English track, that came through crisp and clear with no issues. Extras include a commentary track, interviews (including one with Clint Howard), trailers, a gallery, and more.

The Film (3.5/5)

Audio/Video (5/5)

Extras (4/5) _________________________________________________________________________________

Liquid Sky

Director: Slava Tsukerman

Cast: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard,

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 2

Writer - Scott MacDonald

 

    I hate to show a bias toward one specific film, but if you buy one film during Vinegar Syndrome's sale, and you have any sort of predilection toward strange and bizarre cinema, make that film Slava Tsukerman's Liquid Sky.  There are films, that you can point to at various times during the history of cinema that are so vastly unique that they offer almost no comparison to other things you have seen, and this is honestly one of them.  The one thing I can say to offer a description of it, and it almost undersells it, is that Liquid Sky is sort of like what would happen if William S. Burroughs went off with a young Derek Jarman and made a film in the post-punk scene in the early 80's.

    The synopsis for this one is hard to fully get out there. But basically Margeret (Anne Carlisle) is a fashion model in Chicago, who lives in a penthouse apartment, and is working to become famous in her industry. One night a tiny spaceship lands on her apartment building in search of heroin, as that causes them great ecstasy, but learns that the human orgasm provides a similar experience. The aliens end up giving Margeret the ability to kill with her orgasm, and afterwards they make the body disappear, and of course, there is a scientist around tracking their whereabouts.

    Liquid Sky came out the same year as Blade Runner, and could in some ways play as the low budget bizarro world flip side to that film (also, Blade Runner was named after a Burroughs novella). Almost like a low budget, trashy cousin to Blade Runner, spawned out of Heavy Metal magazine or 2000 A.D., but, of course, doing it's own thing. The film, especially in Vinegar Syndrome's new restoration is gorgeous and is bleeding bright colors from almost every frame. Performances are solid throughout, and while not everything might make sense the first time through, this is a film that certainly rewards rewatches.

    Vinegar Syndrome presents Liquid Sky in a STUNNING 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that just pops. Everything looks fantastic here, colors are bright, detail is excellent, viewers will be floored. Audio is handled by a DTS-HD mono track that comes through crisp, clean, and clear bringing dialogue and score to life like never before. Extras include a 50 minute making of documentary, commentary track, interviews, alternate opening, rehearsal footage and much much more.

The Film (5/5)

Audio/Video (5/5)

Extras (5/5)