• Blood Mania/Point Of Terror (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: January 31st, 2017.
    Director: Robert Vincent O’Neill/Alex Nicol
    Cast: Peter Carpenter, Eric Allison, Vicki Peters, Tony Crechales, Dyanne Thorne, Joel Marsten
    Year: 1970/1971
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    Vinegar Syndrome continue to release some choice catalogue titles from the vaults of Crown International, this time pairing up two Peter Carpenter films!

    Blood Mania:

    Going by the skin quotient in this one, it should have been called Boob Mania, as there's a lot more bare female flesh on display than there is bloodshed. Long a staple of the VHS discount bin since the advent of home video, Robert Vincent O'Neill's film takes place in 70s era Los Angeles where Dr. Craig Cooper (Peter Carpenter) toils away taking care of the aged Ridgeley Waterman (Eric Allison). The once mighty Waterman, a former hospital big wig, has been crippled by a stroke that has left him bedridden. Waterman's former right hand man, Larry (Arell Blanton), turns coat and decides to blackmail the poor old bastard by threatening to go public with some rather damning evidence that will prove he performed illegal abortions while interning.

    Hunky Dr. Cooper, however, has his hands full trying to evade the lustful eye of Waterman's hot but spoiled daughter, Victoria (Maria de Aragon), the barer of the aforementioned boobs, and what a great pair they are. Cooper tells Victoria he needs to come up with a bunch of money for back taxes and, being madly in love with him, she figures her ailing father won't mind if she dips into his lush bank account to help out the object of her affections in return for some much needed lovin' from Cooper. When Waterman turns up dead, it seems Victoria went all the way and poisoned the old man, leaving Cooper wanting to call the cops on her, but with that sizeable amount of cash dangled in front of him, he keeps quiet and reports that a second stroke did the old man in. Everything looks like it's going to go in their favor until the family lawyer (Alex Rocco) shows up with Victoria's sister Gail (Vicki Peters), who looks set to inherit pretty much all of the family fortune. Victoria's understandably upset, while Cooper notices just how foxy Gail is, and so desperately in need of a hunky doctor's touch!

    A fantastic animated opening credits sequence starts this poorly paced though moderately sleazy thriller off with a bang but from there it takes a good forty-five minutes or so for this picture to really go anywhere. The ample nudity helps a bit but the story is pretty tepid. The last half hour redeems the picture enough that it's worth waiting for but much of this one plays out like a bad soap opera, albeit one with considerably more cleavage than most.

    Point Of Terror:

    Point Of Terror, a Crown International film from 1971, isn't really a horror film but it is the real gem in this set. The cover art (taken from the original poster art, and rightly so) would certainly lead you to believe that and the trailer for the film absolutely tries (and nearly succeeds) to pass it off as one, but this is basically an insane soap opera with some naked boobies that come courtesy of Ilsa herself, Dyanne Thorne. Oh, and then there's the inimitable presence of one Peter Carpenter - singer, dancer, fighter, lover, a true renaissance man if ever there was one.

    Carpenter plays a man named Tony Trelos, a lounge singer who is the house act down at the Lobster House, which isn't actually a house nor does it appear to have any lobster in it but which is in fact some sort of night club that features buxom waitresses and shiny silver curtains galore. Here Tony belts out his signature tune, 'This Is Me,' over and over again. You'll also hear it on the menu screen and over the opening credits. At any rate, one day Tony's lucky enough to meet a big titted blonde chick on the beach that she owns. She's not too upset about his trespassing, but instead heads out that night to check out his act. One thing leads to another and before you know it, she's back at Tony's place, which she likens to being decorated by Bela Lugosi despite the fact that it is not in the least bit vampiric or Hungarian in appearance. She tells him that her name is Andrea Hilliard (Dyanne Thorne) and that she basically runs National Records since its founder, and her husband, Martin Hilliard (Joel Marsten), landed himself in a wheelchair permanently. With her jealous beau confined to a cripple's life, she gallivants around town drinking and pill popping and making it with would be lounge singers like Tony, who is only too happy to skinny dip with her if it means a record deal.

    One thing leads to another and before you know it, Tony's got the wrong idea and Martin winds up dead. He wants to take Andrea to Tijuana to get married but all she wants are kicks, much to the dismay of her lush hanger-oner, Fran (Leslie Simms), who wouldn't mind a piece of Tony for herself. Rejected, Tony finds solace in the arms of Andrea's stepdaughter, Helayne Hilliard (Lory Hansen), who has bad teeth and strange two-toned eyebrows. Will Tony's record career ever take off? What's going to happen when Helayne finds out Tony's diddled her step mommy's Skittle? How many more times are we going to hear the only two songs it seems Tony knows? Where are all those odd primary lighting gels coming from and to what purpose are they there? Will Tony spin Andrea around on his back like a wrestler?

    Let's get one thing straight right now: Point Of Terror is horrible. Really, it's a complete mess made by a director who can't figure out where to take it and with a cast who overdo it every chance they get. The plot has nothing going for it and there is absolutely no suspense whatsoever. Even if 'twist' at the end (and calling it a twist is being generous) somehow manages to be completely wrong and yet somehow predictably inevitable at the same time. This movie is really and truly a disaster in every sense of the word.

    Now, with that out of the way (and read that as the caveat to serious cineastes that it's meant to be), let's make a second and more important point about the picture - it's absolutely hilarious, ridiculously entertaining and endlessly watchable. Yes, for all the wrong reasons, but Point Of Terror turns out to be quite a good bit of comedy gold if you're in the right frame of mind for it. Peter Carpenter, whose eyes do seem to periodically go in two different directions at once, is responsible for most of head scratching moments, be it his red fringed jumpsuit, his rad dance moves, the completely unexpected penchant for wrestling that he shows in the film's big finale or his tendency to show off his manly physique whenever he feels like it, he proves to be a true dynamo of bad movie leading men. His screen presence in Blood Mania was good, but it's nothing compared to what he brings to this one. But we also get amazing scenery chewing from Joel Marsten, a man with only one emotion - seething anger! He's perpetually pissed off and is prone to throwing drinking glasses around the pool side and trying to run over big breasted would be Nazisploitation stars with his wheelchair and the movie is all the better for it. Of course, Dyanne Throne's generally odd screen presence is the icing on the cake, her stern and matronly features make for a perplexing sight but you know once that top comes off and her stone filled jugs come into play that Peter's done for. That’s just how it has to work.

    Going into much more detail than that really would be a disservice to those who haven't yet had the experience that is Point Of Terror. It's got so much going on that has so little to do with... anything, really, that you can't help but fall for it. While it's certainly true that it's in most technical and critical ways a filmic turd, it's at least one that was shat out in an interesting shape and that is fun to watch for somewhat inexplicable reasons. If only Peter Carpenter had graced us with more than just a scant handful of films before he passed away, maybe more could have come of this or his fledgling recording career (he not only stars but co-wrote and co-produced and did all of his own singing). Sadly that was not to be. At least we have Point Of Terror and Blood Mania to remember him by.


    Both films are presented in new transfers taken from 2k scans of their original 35mm negatives and offered up in their original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85.1, both films sharing on 50GB Blu-ray disc. How do they look? In short, excellent. Both films are really pretty colorful, especially Point Of Terror, and those colors pop nicely here without looking artificially boosted. Black levels are nice and strong here too, and the transfer provides good shadow detail without any noticeable compression artifacts or crush. The image for both films is also very clean, showing very little in the way of print damage outside of a few ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ white specks. There’s a good amount of natural film grain and no obvious digital noise reduction or artificial sharpening/edge enhancement. Both of those movies have been released on DVD before and these Blu-ray presentations provide substantial upgrades in picture quality for both titles.

    English language audio options are provided in DTS-HD with optional closed captioning provided in English only. Again, the audio shapes up nicely. The single channel tracks are clean, clear and nicely balanced and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion. Optional English language closed captioning is provided.

    Extras start off with a commentary track for Blood Mania that gathers up director Robert Vincent O’Neill along with actresses Leslie Simms and Vicki Peters. This starts off with Simms talking about Peter Carpenter, who was one of his students and who wrote a part for her in a screenplay he co-wrote. They also talk about Alex Rocco’s involvement in the picture, noting that it is one of if not the first film he ever appeared in. O’Neill talks about filming the nightmare sequence that opens the picture and how he got it to look the way it looked, the effectiveness of the lighting used in the movie, where some of the supporting players came from and what they brought to the movie and how more often than not none of the actors us used in the film blew any takes. They also talk about some of the fashions on display in the film like the ‘sexy nurses uniform,’ a few of the locations that they shot on and quite a bit more. There is the occasional instance of quiet here and there but overall this is a pretty engaging discussion with all three participants sharing some fun memories for this film and this period in their lives and careers.

    O’Neill also pops up in a separate video interview that runs just over eight minutes. He talks about how he got into the film business after directing theater for twenty years when he wound up doing props for a various movies including Easy Rider and Psych-Out. He learned on set by doing, and eventually he wound up moving up the ladder a bit and took on the role of a director with his first picture, a nine day shoot called Like Mother Like Daughter. He then talks about writing different scripts, working on a few different films as a director like The Psycho Lover and how that led to Blood Mania when that film’s original director got sick and wouldn’t be able to take the job. He then goes on to praise pretty much everyone that he worked with on the film, the importance of the locations used in the movie and how shooting everything in the singular house location allowed them to get the movie in the can in twelve days.

    Simms also gets her own separate video interview on the disc that runs fourteen minutes. She talks about how she got into the business at fourteen when she found out her teacher was a producer and she wound up doing radio work. From there she goes on to talk about how her parents moved the family to Los Angeles. She then talks about how she got to know Peter Carpenter, whose real name was Page Carpenter, after meeting him at an actor’s workshop describing him as a hit with all the women and a wonderful jazz dancer, which led to her being involved in Blood Mania. From there she talks about working on both films contained on this disc, what it was like working with director Alex Nicol, the difficulty they ran into shooting the underwater scene in Point Of Terror, her thoughts on Dyanne Thorne’s work in the picture and how after meeting her she decided her character should be a blonde (which is why she’s wearing an obvious wig in the film – she wouldn’t let them bleach her hair!).

    Blood Mania is available to watch with an optional video intro from O’Neill. Theatrical trailers, TV spots and still galleries are both provided for each film on the disc.

    As this is a combo pack release, a DVD containing SD versions of the new scans and identical extras is also included in the Blu-ray keepcase. The limited edition release of this set also includes a separate DVD that holds the alternate TV versions of each movie! These standard definition presentations are fullframe and not nearly as clean or colorful looking as the HD feature versions but they are interesting variants and a nice bonus. Oddly enough the TV version of Blood Mania runs 1:30:29 versus the theatrical cut at 1:20:30 so there’s some extended bits and pieces tossed in here. The TV version of Point Of Terror clocks in at 1:31:24 versus 1:27:38 for the theatrical cut, so it too is long. Both version cut out all the nudity scene in their theatrical edits. The biggest difference in Point Of Terror is a really strange scene that runs almost ten minutes wherein Tony recounts via flashback how, as a kid, he used to work as a shoeshine boy. One day he wanted to go to the beach but his mom, a hooker, told him no. He did it anyway and after buying a snack and wandering around looking at waves and seagulls, gets chased and then robbed by an older kid. There’s also a weird montage sequence at the end that sort of replays most of the highlights of the film before the end credits roll.

    The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release of Crown International’s Point Of Terror/Blood Mania is a great one. These two entertaining b-movies movies look and sound better than they ever have before and there’s a great selection of extras here too, highlighted by an interesting audio commentary and the two alternate TV versions of both features.

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Toyboy's Avatar
      Toyboy -
      That opening number in POINT OF TERROR is fantastic. What a treat!