• Terror

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 24th, 2017.
    Director: Norman J. Warren
    Cast: John Nolan, Carolyn Courage, James Aubrey, Sarah Keller, Tricia Walsh, Glynis Barber
    Year: 1978
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Norman J. Warren (the same man who did Prey, Inseminoid and Satan's Slave), 1978’s The Terror was released theatrically in the United States by Crown International and was previously released on DVD by Scorpion Releasing. Vinegar Syndrome now brings the film to special edition Blu-ray for the first time, giving the picture a welcome worldwide high definition debut.

    The picture beings with a fun 'movie within a movie' style opening scene we learn that horror movie director James Garrick (John Nolan) and his family have had to deal with a curse for years now – it’s related to a sword and the death of a witch. From there, we learn that he has recently cast his cousin, Ann (Carolyn Courage), in his most recent movie and it seems since doing so that the curse has become active again.

    From there? Essentially, the witch that we see get decapitated in the opening scene, a woman named Mad Dolly, rises from the dead to cause problems again. It seems that Garrick has been, rather foolishly, mining the family history for movie ideas and the witch is none too happy about that. Soon enough, Ann is acting strange and people start winding up dead in increasingly gruesome fashion.

    There isn't much story here and the film borrows very heavily from Dario Argento's Suspiria (it's hard not to notice the influence in a few scenes) though it doesn't work on the same level as its inspiration. There are some fantastic and rather bloody murders here that keep things moving along at a good pace, however. The film works well if you approach it expecting nothing more than a fun ninety minutes of trashy horror. On that level, it’s actually pretty entertaining. There isn't much in the way of legitimate suspense and it's fairly easy to see where it's all going early on but the murder set pieces are definitely creative and the art direction is quite stylish. On top of that the movie also earns bonus points for throwing in a completely unnecessary but definitely memorable scene that takes place in a strip club. As a greasy drunken Greek patron manhandles one of the waitresses, a stripper with cropped, bleach blonde hair and goth makeup on sports only a tiny bit of leather and goes about brandishing a bullwhip! The film also features an amusing subplot wherein a director working on a sex film keeps trying to get a scene in the can involving his male and female leads playing about in a bathtub.

    Nolan and Courage are decent enough in their roles, and if they aren't remarkable they are at least believable enough. Interestingly enough, Peter Mayhew, best known as Chewbacca, shows up in a small part which will prove amusing to those who only know him when he's covered in fur and growling at Stormtroopers. Even if you've never seen him without his suit on, he's still pretty easy to spot – he's the big tall hairy guy. At just a hair over eighty-four minutes the movie goes by quickly and as such there's enough carnage and slickly shot mayhem in here to ensure that even if the characters are rather shallow and the premise a little hokey, the film is never dull.


    Terror arrives on Blu-ray ‘newly scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm negative’ and framed properly at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks very good. Color reproduction is nice strong and detail is head and shoulders above what older DVD releases have been able to provide. There’s impressive depth to the image and skin tones appear natural throughout. There are no noticeable issues with any edge enhancement or visible noise reduction and the picture is free of obvious compression artifacts. Aside from some small white specks and a tiny scratch or two, the image is otherwise nice and clean and free of any major print damage. All in all, a nice organic transfer that feels ‘true to source’ while still taking advantage of the format.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track on the disc is also fine, free of any problems. Levels are balanced properly and there are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion. The score has good range and depth to it while dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow. There’s also good depth in some of the more active scenes. Optional subtitles are available in English only.

    Extras on the disc begin with an audio interview with director Norman J. Warren conducted by Kat Ellinger that plays out over the feature much like a commentary track would. This runs just over sixty-six minutes and while the content is interesting – Warren’s got some great stories – the audio levels are a bit off and there are times where he’s a little hard to hear. Regardless, he covers a lot of ground here, giving welcome background not just on this film specifically but on many aspects of his career.

    From there, we dive into a selection of new interviews, starting with Warren who spends twenty-minutes talking about the film scene of the seventies, the inspiration he got from Argento’s Suspiria, casting the picture, the film’s infamous strip club scene, what it was like no set, budgetary limitations and more. Up next, screenwriter David McGillivray talks for thirteen-minutes about working on the picture, what it was like, Norman’s directing and the film’s enduring popularity. Actress Carolyn Courage spends five minutes on camera discussing her scene with the car and the effects that were required to make it work, while actress Tricia Walsh spends nine minutes covering her part in the picture, her issues with nudity and why she had them, the cast and crew that she worked with on the picture and more. She’s quite charming. Actress Mary Maude talks for nine minutes about her thoughts on the character that she played in the picture, her thoughts on some of the co-stars she was cast alongside and how she got along with them and where she took some inspiration for her work in the picture. Lastly, actor Peter Craze discusses his role as the porn star in the film for ten minutes, talking about showing up on set and not expecting to see Tricia Walsh and Peter Attard – two actors he knew prior – on the set. He then talks about his work in the film, his part, what it was like on set, the premiere, his wife’s reaction to the film, working on Doctor Who and more.

    The disc also includes five minutes of deleted and extended scenes wherein we get more footage from the hypnotism scene, the strip club scene and the sex film shoot. Animated menus and chapter selection are also found on the disc. The disc also comes packaged with some nice reversible cover art. As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie utilizing the same transfer (in standard definition, obviously) and containing the same extras is included.

    The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Norman J. Warren’s Terror to Blu-ray in grand style, with a strong presentation and an excellent selection of supplements. The movie itself is pretty entertaining stuff, a hodge-podge of ideas and set pieces that, of nothing else, will keep you plenty entertained for an hour and a half!

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