• Blue Vengeance

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 1st, 2018.
    Director: J. Christian Ingvordsen
    Cast: J. Christian Ingvordsen, John Weiner, Garland Hunter, Tony Kruk
    Year: 1989
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    The Movie:

    Blue Vengeance opens at an insane asylum just outside of New York City where a convicted murderer named Mark Trex (John Weiner) busts his way out of room and makes his way to the city. On the way he kills a guy and sets his truck on fire, a move that he thinks will throw the cops off of his scent – he assumes they’ll figure the body was his and that’ll be that.

    But Trex didn’t count on Mickey McCardle (director Ingvordsen) – the cop who accidently killed his partner when trying to shoot Trex in a room full of mirrors! He knows that Trax isn’t dead and makes it his mission to find him, even if he has been basically taken off the streets and given a desk job. Trax, after stopping at his mom’s place to gather up some medieval weapons and listen to some power metal, heads to CBGB to check out a band (the Lunachicks show up in this scene!). Before you know it, one of the guys running the club has been killed and band photographer Tiffany O'Brian (Garland Hunter) just might have a picture of him.

    Soon enough, McCardle and O’Brien have formed an uneasy alliance to track down the killer they know is out there and stop him before he kills off all of the old members of his favorite heavy metal band – The Warriors Of The Inferno – whose music inspired him to start stabbing people and chopping them up in the first place!

    A complete and utter genre mashup, Blue Vengeance is a lot of good gritty fun. This was made quickly and on a low budget to take advantage of the booming home video market of its day, shot without permits with pretty much every member of the cast and crew pulling double or triple duty in some regard – but it works. There’s a lot of energy here and a lot of weird, screwy ideas at play, the kind that make a picture like this entertain despite some obvious flaws.

    If not all of the acting is amazing, enough of it is spot on that we don’t get pulled out of the film. Garland Hunter is cute and spunky, the fact that she’s a junkie never seems to matter much and if she barely bats an eye when her boyfriend turns up a victim, well, God bless Ingvordsen and company for not getting bogged down in the details. Ingvordsen himself is pretty decent as the cop on the edge, prepared to lose his job or break the law if need to, so long as he gets his man. The real star of the show, however, is John Weiner as Mark Trex. This character is great! He sees everything as if it’s an eighties heavy metal video (if you’re thinking about the videos Manowar and Thor made in the eighties you’re very much on the right track), and plays the psychopath with just the right amount of crazed enthusiasm and scenery chewing to create a truly memorable character.


    Blue Vengeance arrives on a 50GB disc framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in a transfer taken from a new 2k scan of the original 35mm negative and it looks pretty damn perfect. For a movie shot fast and cheap, the picture quality here is very strong. Detail is great, frequently very impressive, while good depth and texture are present throughout. There’s virtually no print damage here at all, the image is very clean, but it retains a natural looking amount of film grain showing no evidence of DNR. The image is free of any compression artifacts or edge enhancement – you couldn’t ask for the picture to look much better than it does here, this is a very film-like presentation.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional English SDH, is also really strong. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow and the levels are properly balanced. There’s no hiss or distortion to note, no problems with any sibilance – the track sounds just fine.

    Extras on the disc are pretty comprehensive, starting with a commentary track featuring director/actor J. Christian Ingvordsen moderated by Michael Gingold. It’s an interesting talk that lets the director explain how and why this project came to be, where the cast members came from, how he and his cast/crew wore a lot of different hats in the film, some of the locations that were used for the shoot and issues that they ran into on the production – and lots more. Gingold asks good questions of Ingvordsen who has plenty to say about the movie. A second commentary track features actor John Weiner who speaks about his work playing the heavy in the film. He also talks about what it was like working on the low budget shoot, how he got into character, other roles that he had on the production in addition to acting, how he got into the film business and much more.

    After that, dig into Making Blue Vengeance, a featurette by J. Christian Ingvordsen in which he appears alongside Weiner and cohorts Bob Gosse, Matthew Howe, Whitney Ransick, and Danny Kuchuck for nineteen-minutes to discuss the origins of the film and the Shooting Gallery production house that was cranking out movies made quickly, on a low budget and with no permit in the late eighties and early nineties New York scene. It’s interesting stuff with some great stories told – Larry Cohen even gets a mention. A second featurette, On Blue Vengeance, is a thirteen-minute conversation with Ingvordsen and Gingold shot in the performance space above The Archive (Vinegar Syndrome’s movie and music store in Connecticut – check it out if you’re in the area) where they talk about Ingvordsen’s career in quite a bit of detail as well as what went into getting Blue Vengeance made. Both of these do cover some of the same ground as the commentary track but they’re definitely worth checking out anyway, these guys have some really interesting stories to tell about their work. Oh, and if you ever get busted by the NYPD for shooting without permits? Just tell them you cleared it with Kennth.

    Also included on the disc in the extra features section is The First Man, a film made in 1996 by the co-writer of Blue Vengeance, Danny Kuchuck. It’s an odd sci-fi film about a government agent named Jake (Michael Raynor) who is tasked with knocking off aliens that have come to Earth and taken on human form in order to blend in. Things get even more complicated when a new alien type arrives, one that has the innate ability of making any and all women lust after it! Two of Jake’s female fellow agents (Lesley Ann Warren and Roxana Zal) fall under its spell, leaving Jake to try and clean up the mess – all while a pair of newlyweds (Ted Raimi and Heather Graham!) deal with an alien that has recently escaped from a government prison.

    Clearly influenced by Blade Runner but without the cyberpunk look, The First Man is a lot of fun. Yeah, it was obviously made with little money but clearly heart and enthusiasm go a long way. Kuchuck keeps the pace quick and concentrates on mood over more garish elements and he manages to get some pretty solid work out of a genuinely interesting cast (Heather Graham is super cute in this)! If it isn’t a particularly original film it is at least competently made and, while not quite as entertaining or engaging as the feature attraction, definitely a nice addition to the disc even if it is a little talky in spots for what it is. The low budget is compensated for with some decent camera work, well-picked locations and good cinematography. The presentation is solid, offering a nice, film-like transfer in high definition as well as lossless audio with optional English subtitles.

    Outside of that, we get an optional intro to the feature from Ingvordsen, menus and chapter selection and as this is a combo pack release, the keepcase also includes a DVD version of the movie. All of this is packaged with some cool reversible cover artwork and the first 1,000 copies purchase from the Vinegar Syndrome webstore come with a limited-edition slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    It’s releases like Blue Vengeance that make being a cult film fan so much fun sometimes – this one really is an undiscovered gem. If it’s a bit rough around the edges, that just adds to its quirky, B-movie charm. The movie is fast-paced and super entertaining, a genre-mashing oddity with plenty of local flavor and some great footage of NYC from the late eighties. The Blu-ray release not only looks and sounds great, but it’s loaded with extras too. Don’t let this one pass you by.

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