• Rabid Grannies

    Released by: Troma
    Released on: March 10th, 2015
    Directed by: Emmanuel Kervyn
    Cast: Catherine Aymerie, Caroline Braeckman, Richard Cotica
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie

    There's been a lot of chatter online about the quality levels - or lack thereof - here on this Troma Blu-ray of the 1988 Belgian splatter film Rabid Grannies, with many critics complaining about the completely bonkers and scatterbrained presentation laid across these two discs.

    Make no mistake, this release of Rabid Grannies is very flawed on many levels, from the AV quality to the uneven presentation of extras, but it must also be said that fans who can tolerate this sort of thing - yours truly will never be accused of AV snobbery, as the many ratty VHS tapes in my collection can surely attest - will find plenty of material to dig through here on Troma's discs.

    Much of the choppy presentation is probably due to the film's notorious reputation as one with multiple cuts and edits, due to the messy, goopy violence contained here within director Emmanuel Kervyn's tale of two octogenarians who become possessed by a satanic spirit during a family birthday celebration. Rabid Grannies had much of this violence cut during its original run on VHS and DVD, and - although that footage is restored here, in varying degrees and methods - the source materials for much of the film has been scattered to the four winds, apparently, with all of the resulting damage and age one might expect.

    Shame, because the heart of Rabid Grannies beats very strong with a fun, lighthearted romp of a film, shot in a semi-comedic style with a vibe similar to that of a Demons or Evil Dead II. Indeed, the spirit of Sam Raimi is filtered through the over-the-top sensibilities of late period Italian horror here on Kervyn's film, particularly on the truncated cuts featured on the Blu-ray itself. Clocking in at just shy of seventy (!!) minutes - and that's with two whole minutes of black screen, people - this version of Rabid Grannies omits almost any semblance of character development and plot in favor of a set-piece focused action/splatter picture which very much feels like a Demons sequel in tone and style.

    The cinematography and special effects are actually quite good, when they can actually be seen, all fun and practical monster effects which drip with gleeful gore and muck. It's a shame, then, that the full uncensored cut of the film - dubbed "The Producer's Cut" - looks so horrid here on Blu-ray, featuring a bad framing and a color palette which has basically gone sepia. This is likely to drive most fans totally bonkers, but it must be said that - given the three different cuts of Rabid Grannies spread here over the Blu-ray and DVD - everything that you want to see is there... just not all at the same time.


    As mentioned above, both of these discs are all over the place when it comes to quality levels. The Blu-ray disc contains two cuts of the film, the original version of Rabid Grannies and the Producer's Cut, which includes all of the cut gore and violence. This cut by far features the worst AV quality on the set, with blown out audio and a sepia-toned, brown color palette. The night shots are particularly dark, although the better lit scenes show up a bit better on disc.

    The other cut on the Blu-ray suffers from the same sepia damage at times, although colors are marginally more defined here than on the Producer's Cut. Still, night shots are murky, and characters skin tones washed out and fuzzy. This cut also doesn't utilize the two minutes of black screen to bump up the running time, although it seems to follow a similar, action-focused narrative as the producer's cut.

    If you haven't guessed yet, the plots for these three different cuts differ wildly, with the longest cut showing up on the DVD portion of this package, clocking in at just shy of ninety minutes. This cut featured the most character development and motivation, but it severely drags, proving that perhaps the producer was on to something in the first place. Rabid Grannies really gets going when the title characters-although they're not really rabid, and not even really "grannies," but "aunties!"-morph out into their demonic personages, making the Blu-Ray cuts much more watchable from a fan perspective.

    To add further confusion, only this DVD cut of the film features audio commentary by its director, with Kervyn detailing all of the production history with humor and love for his cast and crew. This full length cut of the film does feature the best AV quality of the set, however, with brighter colors which are thankfully devoid of that damn sepia tone, although grit and damage does still exist. The English dub also sounds less blown out on the DVD cut, although the disc still won't be winning any awards when it comes to pristine audio quality.

    The other extras are also centered on the DVD, featuring a short interview with the film's producer, as well as the excised gore scenes all presented in a sizzle reel with the film's soundtrack. The other usual Tromatic extras-trailers, Troma trivia, etc-make their expected appearance, as well, resulting in a package which is certainly filled with extras, but it damn well makes the viewer work for them, that's for sure.

    The Final Word

    Rabid Grannies is a fucking mess, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have tons of fun with this one. Kervyn's film does deserve a better, more definitive release, as Rabid Grannies delivers all of the ridiculous goods usually associated with late eighties European horror, from the over-the-top effects to the fun, light-hearted tone and expressive acting styles. Still, Grannies fans who are willing to treasure hunt their favorite scenes could still pick this one up, so long as they are NOT picky at all when it comes to AV quality. I know I'm not ditching mine!

    Click on the images below for full sized 'Blu-ray' screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      A textbook example of how not to present a film on BD
    1. Wernski's Avatar
      Wernski -
      Is this the first blu-ray/DVD combo pack where the DVD is higher quality than the blu-ray?
    1. Scyther's Avatar
      Scyther -
      Ummmm.....yeah, actually.