• Disconnected

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 24th, 2017.
    Director: Gorman Bechard
    Cast: Frances Raines, Mark Walker, Carl Koch, Carmine Capobianco
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    The Movie:

    The feature length directorial debut of filmmaker Gorman Bechard, probably best known for Psychos In Love, 1983’s Disconnected tells the fairly sordid tale of a pretty young woman named Alicia (Francis Raines). She spends her days working in a video store where the clients complain about the fact that the store has too many horror titles and that subtitles on foreign films are too hard to read. At any rate, one day after work she runs into a strange older man in front of her home. He needs to use the phone so, somewhat unwisely, she lets him in to do just that. And then he vanishes.

    Alicia tells her twin sister Barbara Ann (Raines again) about what happened and is told she probably imagined it. What Alicia isn’t imagining, however, is Barbara Ann’s tendency to snag Alicia’s boyfriends – case in point, mulleted Mike (Carl Koch), not the first and not the last two take a poke at both sisters. Somewhat on the rebound, Alicia meets a guy named Franklin (Mike Walker) who seems nice enough. He asks her out and she accepts, completely unaware that Franklin has a tendency to pick up loose women, take them back to his place and dismember them. Coincidently, around the same time that Alicia starts to get involved with Franklin, she finds herself on the receiving end of some raunchy phone calls. As Franklin leaves a few victims in his wake the cops, led by Hawaiian shirt wearing Tremaglio (Carmine Capobianco), start to dig around…

    Strange and confusing but eminently watchable and genuinely interesting, Disconnected is a kinda-sorta slasher film that also doubles as a police procedural, a character study and even an art film all at the same time. Made on what was obviously a low budget using whatever resources were available to them, there are moments where logic is thrown out the window and where some choppy editing hurts the flow of the plot. But again, the picture is interesting. It’s got a fair bit of regional flavor, having been shot in and around Waterbury in the great state of Connecticut, and the locations feel authentic. The story attempts to be more than your average early eighties stalk and slash picture. There are some obvious Hitchcock references in here (they don’t always work, but they are there) and a few effective plot twist too. Throw in some unintentionally amusing ‘live music’ scenes shot in an area nightclub and some more period music on the film’s soundtrack and there’s just enough cult appeal here to hold our attention.

    As to the acting, the movie is actually pretty solid. Carl Koch is okay as Alicia’s ex and Mike Walker decent enough as her current love interest/serial killer. Carmine Capobianco spends his time sitting in front of a while wall talking to the camera, much like he did in certain scenes of Psychos In Love, but he’s genuinely amusing. The real star, however, is Francis Raines (Claude Raines’ niece!). A very attractive actress, she might look familiar for her appearances in The Mutilator and the Tim Kincaid films Riot On 42nd Street, Breeders and Bad Girls’ Dormitory. Her work in this picture is considerably more challenging on a dramatic level and she proves to be very good, particularly in the last half of the movie where the phone calls cause her to start breaking down. She creates a character both interesting and sympathetic without overdoing it.


    Disconnected arrives on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome on a 50GB disc framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This is a grainy beast of a film but the detail is there, as is the depth and texture. The image is strong enough that you can have some fun pointing out the different VHS titles on the walls of the video store scenes! There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts and the image is generally pretty clean – yeah, the grain is there but there isn’t much in the way of print damage. Color reproduction looks pretty solid and black levels are good.

    The only audio option for this release is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with subtitles available in English only. No issues here, the dialogue is plenty easy to follow and there are no real problems with any hiss or distortion. You might hear some occasional sibilance but that’s about it. Levels are properly balanced as well.

    Gorman Bechard and Carmine Capobianco offer up a commentary track over the feature that’s actually a lot of fun. They discuss where the story ideas came from, shooting the film in Connecticut, how the various cast and crew members were brought in to work on the film, what leading lady Frances Raines brought to the production and quite a bit more. They also talk up the locations used for the feature and what was shot in Bechard’s actual apartment (he claims that the western themed bed set seen in one scene was his own!). These guys have a good sense of humor, which makes this track pretty entertaining.

    From there, check out Dissecting Disconnected, an interview with Bechard that clocks in at eleven and a half minutes. He talks about how his interest in the music scene in and around the West Village in New York City got him introduced to The New School For Social Research. There he took a course on Hitchcock and another on Chaplin and then eventually a 16mm filmmaking class. This lead to him making various shorts and then eventually Disconnected. Up next is Getting Disconnected, an interview with Copobianco that lasts ten and a half minutes. He talks about how he starred in the movie but also worked as assistant director, associate producer and more. He discusses how he got involved in filmmaking, how he met Bechard after college when he was running a modelling agency. From there he goes on to talk about his experiences working on Disconnected.

    Vinegar Syndrome has also included Twenty Questions, a short film made by Bechard. This documentary captures what happens when twenty people from different backgrounds are locked alone in a room for the eleven minute duration of one 400 foot roll of 16mm film. During this period they are each asked to answer the same group of twenty questions, though they don’t have to answer them in order (the questions are on pieces of paper on a table in front of them)… if they don’t get distracted by what else has been placed around them.

    This is accompanied by a Twenty Questions Introduction/Q&A session shot at the New Haven Documentary Film Festival on June 3rd, 2017 that lasts just over seventeen minutes featuring Bechard and a woman named Lindsay who was on the board of the festival. Bechard talks here about how he does and sometimes doesn’t enjoy watching his own films, the challenges of shooting on 16mm, casting some of his projects and more.

    Rounding out the extras is an optional (and brief) intro from Bechard and Capobianco, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Disconnected is interesting in the way that low budget regional pictures tend to be. It’s never really scary but it is occasionally sleazy and mildly gory – but there’s something about it that makes this cult oddity watchable. A product of its time, to be sure, but entertaining in its own quirky way. Vinegar Syndrome has done a fine job bringing this one to Blu-ray with a very nice transfer and a great selection of accompanying supplements.

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

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    Toolbox Murders, The (88 Films)

    I found the Blue Underground disc to be the more pleasing transfer. More image in the frame, better... Go to last post

    VinceP 03-13-2018 09:22 AM