• 5 Films 5 Years – Volume 4: Horror And Exploitation (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: July, 2018.
    Director: Jay Schlossberg-Cohen/Chris Warfield/Cirio H. Santiago/John Hayes/Walt Davis
    Cast: Eric Foster, Navarre Perry, Maurice Grandmaison, Sondra Currie, John Alderman, John Carradine, Bruce Fairbairn, Vic Diaz, Lenka Novak, Katie Dolan, Karen Stride, Jay Scott, E.J. Walsh, William Guhl, Uschi Digard, Sandy Carey, Cleo O'Hara, Sandra Henderson, Alex Elliot
    Year: 1986/1975/1978/1969/1972

    5 Films 5 Years – Volume 4: Horror And Exploitation - The Movie Review:

    To celebrate their fifth anniversary, Vinegar Syndrome give another five of their best horror and exploitation films a welcome Blu-ray upgrade in this exclusive two-disc set. Here’s what to look for…

    Cry Wilderness:

    Cry Wilderness is a real gem. The film introduces us to a boy named Paul Cooper (Eric Foster). When we meet him, he has wandered away from his class during a field trip to a museum. His teacher, Mr. Douglas (Navarre Perry), finds him gazing longingly at a giant Bigfoot display. Douglas tells him Bigfoot isn’t real but Paul knows better because last summer when he was fishing in the woods he befriended the harry brute. Not only that, but because Paul was kind enough to give him Coca-Cola and share with him his love of rock n roll, Bigfoot gave him a fancy medallion in return.

    Later that night Paul peers out the window of his boarding school dorm and sees Bigfoot standing on the lawn waving at him. Bigfoot tells him that his dad, a forest ranger named Will (Maurice Grandmaison), is in terrible danger. Paul knows better than to doubt a midnight warning from Bigfoot himself and before you know it’s he’s hitchhiking through the snowy mountains of northern California. After scoring a ride with a friendly trucker and his dog, Paul heads into the woods where we see pretty much every animal known to man and then, eventually, he finds his dad. It turns out a tiger has escaped from a circus and is roaming the area just before some obnoxious bigwig who hangs out with sexy martini sipping bikini girls is going to open his resort for tourist season. Will tries to send Paul home but he’s not having any of it. Soon enough, Paul is accompanying his dad and his Native American friend Jim (John Tallman) and a US Marshall/big game hunter named Morgan Hicks (Griffin Casey) into the woods to find the tiger and save the day. Bigfoot, however, is hanging out and Hicks wants to shoot him, stuff him and charge a small fortune to let tourists gawk at his corpse!

    As nutty as you’d expect from the guy who assembled the amazing Night Train To Terror, and just like in that screwy film we once again get a ridiculously annoying but undeniably theme song (over the end credits this time). The movie also features a weird selection of animals throughout the movie (supplied by Jungle Exotics according to the end credits), some of whom appear more tame than others: watch for leashes holding the wolves in place and hey, those friendly raccoons that Ranger Will lives with might not be so friendly after all, even if they sure do love their strawberry preserves.

    Bigfoot himself gets a fair amount of screen time here and the makeup effects that bring him to life are kind of cool in an eighties sort of way. The performances are not very good at all, though credit where it’s due, Eric Foster comes out of this one in much better shape than any of the adults who populate the cast. Throw in some really weird dubbing (Will sounds a little bit like Waylon Jennings), a gratuitous drunken biker scenes (complete with scores of empty Corona bottles) and an ancient and wise Indian shaman named Red Hawk (Foster Hood) who has risen from the dead to help and this one winds up a winner!

    Teenage Seductress:

    1975’s Teenage Seductress follows Terry (Sondra Currie, and yes she is the sister of a certain Runaway), a serious case of damaged goods thanks to the strange manipulative ways of her mother (Gwen Van Dam). It seems that when her dad split, her mom sort of lost it and did a whole lot of trash talking but this hasn’t stopped Terry from heading out on her own to track the guy down.

    To do this she poses as a journalist and eventually figures out her old man is an artist named Preston King (played by director Warfield) and that he lives out on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. She shows up at his door and quickly tries to con him into a roll in the hay, but he declines. Despite her odd behavior and warnings from his maid, Elena (Sonny Cooper), Preston winds up hiring Terry as his personal assistant much to the dismay of his lady friend, Victoria (Elizabeth Saxon). Will Terry’s plan to get every female Preston knows so that she can have dear old daddy all to herself succeed?

    This is an odd one. The incest theme will obviously and understandably turn some heads but the movie does a kinda-sorta-okay-not-really good job of setting up the why behind Terry’s yearnings for her dad. It gets an A for effort, even if it isn’t entirely convincing in that regard. Some strange flashbacks and weird flourishes of bizarre camerawork help to keep things visually interesting even when the movie slows down – and at about the half way mark it really does just that. Yet there’s some novelty here, not just in seeing the sister of a rock n roll legend playing the lead in a sleazy drive-in picture but in the ways that the film addresses and dissects the relationship that does/doesn’t exist between father and daughter in the movie.

    Vampire Hookers:

    John Carradine’s career was continuing to go in increasingly more bizarre directions when he worked with Cirio H. Santiago Vampire Hookers, which was also released on VHS as Night Of The Bloodsuckers and which is also known as Cemetery Girls.

    After an opening scene where Carradine reads some weird prose to the camera, we meet up with Tom Buckley (Bruce Fairbairn) and Terry Wayne (Trey Wilson), two American sailors on shore leave looking for some fun. As they check out the big city the encounter a bar full of transvestites and then almost get mugged – their evening is not off to a great start. Things take a more interesting turn when a friendly cab driver brings them off to a cemetery in hopes of finding their missing commanding officer. Here they meet Cherish (Karen Stride), a gorgeous hooker who just so happens to operate out of a… cemetery. Probably not a good sign.

    Nevertheless, these guys want to see how this is going to play out. Soon enough it turns out that Cherish is a vampire and that she answers to Richmond Reed (John Carradine), the ‘vampire in chief’ of the area. He and his right hand man, Pavo (Vic Diaz), also employ two other vampire hookers, Suzy (Lenka Novak) and Marcy (Katie Dolan). Thankfully the sun rises before our sailors can be turned into a midnight snack, and they make it out alive. But when Tom hears that the girls just might be so included to act human for a night and orgy with him, well, he’d be a fool not to check that out. I mean, have you seen those chicks?

    Not to be taken in the least bit seriously, this one is pretty hokey stuff. Carradine hams it up and Diaz is every bit his equal here. Both men appear to at least be having a good time with the material and were probably pretty aware of how goofy it all is. The comedy is bad, the kind you groan at more than you laugh at, but even still it’s hard not to snicker at all of this. Santiago does a good job using color here and actually gets some interesting compositions working in his favor whenever the movie heads into the cemetery.

    Fairburn and Wilson are fine as the primary male leads, coasting through the movie from one ridiculous gag to the next, while Stride, Novak and Dolan are all quite beautiful and perfectly cast as the titular ladies of the night. Not in the least bit scary though packed with horror movie clichés, Vampire Hookers isn’t a particularly good movie but it is at least stupid enough to make for a fun time killer.

    The Cut-Throats:

    Written and directed by John Hayes, the same man who gave us Grave Of The Vampire, 1969’s The Cut-Throats mixes up trashy Nazisploitation style high jinks, softcore sex and poorly staged action scenes all in a California doubling (rather unconvincingly) for WWII era Europe. He gets an A for effort at least. The movie was also released as Cut Throat Kommandos.

    The story opens as a sad country and western tune called The Ballad Of Jimmy Johnson plays over the opening credits, all of which appear over some strangely illustrated artwork. Once that’s over with, we see a German soldier (an uncredited Michael Pataki) confront and then rape a village woman holding a painting in the middle of ‘the woods.’ From there? We meet Captain Kohler (E.J. Walsh), a tough American solider leading his group of equally tough G.I.’s through Nazi occupied Europe (California) for one purpose – to get inside a castle and steal some top secret battle plans. Or something. Things get befuddled very quickly when it turns out that what these guys thought was a German stronghold is actually a whorehouse of sorts, complete with a bizarre burlesque show and dancing girls aplenty.

    From here the plot it put on hold for a bit as each of our tough, ruggedly handsome, all American soldier boys finds a Euro-babe and gets his wick wet. While this is going on, a buxom female Nazi (Uschi Digard, of course), is letting some other German guy pour what looks like red wine down between her ass cheeks. All in a day’s work. If WWII were really this randy, it wouldn’t have lasted a week. But really, there’s more to this than that – see, Kohler knows that somewhere in the area is stashed a whole lot of Nazi gold, and he intends to get a piece of that. After he bangs some chicks, of course. Once that’s done, a dude will find a naked lady in a shower and then everyone will shot at everyone else – but will Kohler get his hands on the gold or not????

    The suspense will kill ya.

    This isn’t a very good war movie but it is a weird enough softcore sex film that fans of softcore sex films will probably get a kick out of it. It’s weird and amusing to see Pataki show up in the opening scene, a rape scene that is much darker and which plays out with a considerably more serious tone than anything else in the rest of the movie (including the finale, which we can safely assume was supposed to be downbeat). The tone is all over the place but the film really does spend most of its time showing off its naked female cast. And that’s fine, particularly when Frauline Digard is involved. Her scene is a highlight of the film, as it’s just sort of crammed in there and thankfully adds nothing to the plot. It’s an excuse to show giant hooters and a naked ass and on that level and that level alone, it’s a rousing success.

    The Cut-Throats is erratic in its pacing and its tone. At times it feels like maybe it’s supposed to be funny and at times it feels like maybe it’s supposed to be serious – viewers can make up their own minds as to Hayes’ intentions here (they were likely to cash in on the success of Love Camp 7 made around the same time – or did this come first? I don’t know!!!????) but the movie remains an enjoyable slice of trashy drive-in style cinematic sex and violence. It’s filled to the brim with plot holes, historical inaccuracies and wonderful breasts. As such, it’s worth seeing. Oh and if that weren't enough, Sandy Carey pops up here too.

    Evil Come, Evil Go:

    Evil Come, Evil Go was previously released on DVD by Something Weird Video (who paired it with Terror At Orgy Castle and The Hand Of Pleasure) before being reissued by Vinegar Syndrome on DVD and now Blu-ray. The story introduces us to Sister Sarah Jane (Clea O’Hara), a religious zealot who we first see walking through an empty countryside. Soon enough she picks up a truck driver and after making him think he’s going to get lucky, she murders him.

    From here, Sister Sarah heads to Las Angeles where she meets up with a lesbian named Penny (Sandra Henderson) who makes a donation to her cause – that’d be ridding the Earth of evil, evil men. Before you know it, Penny is putting Sarah up and even about to bank roll her proposed TV show in hopes of bringing her message to a wider audience. This, of course, after Sarah initiates Penny by tying her to a bed and stripping her. Together they take out a couple of unlucky losers but things turn south when Penny’s lover, Junie (Jane Tsentas) shows up. It seems Penny just can’t quit her, but Sarah’s sway over Penny is strong and she’s not about to just walk away from all of this…

    Filled with some great fire and brimstone preaching, a few H.G. Lewis style cheapjack gore effects (reportedly coordinated by one John Curtis Holmes – who is also credited as a pool player we see in the background of one scene and as assistant director!) and plenty of skin, Evil Come, Evil Go owes an obvious debt to Night Of The Hunter but eschews that movie’s slick style in favor of delightfully crass exploitative elements. There are a few lengthy sex scenes here that get close to hardcore territory but never quite cross that line, though they serve more to pad out the movie’s running time than to actually arouse (Rick Cassidy pops up in one of them). Throw in an inexplicable guitar player who seems to pop up at random and serenade Sarah, a few great scenes where O’Hara’s crazed preacher interrupts a few couples in the midst of coitus and some great footage capturing the seedier side of early seventies Hollywood and it’s easy to see why this one would have the cult following that it does.

    O’Hara’s performance here is what holds all of this together. She’s pretty over the top throughout the entire movie but somehow it suits the picture perfectly. As she struts about, typically dressed in Sunday finery and shouting about in a drawn out southern accent, it’s pretty much impossible to take your eyes off of her. She definitely commits to the part and blows everyone else in the picture out of the water with her insane enthusiasm and scenery chewing antics. Great stuff.

    5 Films 5 Years – Volume 4: Horror And Exploitation - Blu-ray Review:

    The five films are spread across two 50GB discs and presented in their original aspect ratios, each in a new 2k scan that has been restored from the original negatives. Generally speaking, they look great. There’s some minor print damage here and there – typically very minor indeed - but nothing serious worth complaining about. Evil Come, Evil Go definitely looks rougher than the other movies but it’s still a nice step up from the past DVD editions even if it is less than pristine. Detail advances quite handily over the standard definition releases that each of these five features have received in the past. Colors look nice, there are no noticeable compression issues and black levels look good. Skin tones appear natural and lifelike and the transfers are free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    As far as audio goes, each film gets an English language DTS-HD Mono track, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here. Clarity is fine for the most part. You might pick up on some minor hiss here and there but we get better depth than we did on the DVD releases. Balance is fine throughout while dialogue stays clean and clear.

    There are no extras to note, just a menus offering film selection on each disc. Note that the fronts of the discs are both labelled the same, save for ‘disc one’ and ‘disc two’ so you don’t necessarily know what films are on each disc until you put them in your player. It’s also worth noting that any extras that were included on the DVD releases are not ported over to this Blu-ray set.

    5 Films 5 Years – Volume 4: Horror And Exploitation - The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome has once again brought five genuine cult classics from their ever expanding library to Blu-ray in grand style. The discs might be barebones but the movies themselves are a blast and they look great here. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized 5 Films 5 Years – Volume 4: Horror And Exploitation Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      I somehow missed that this was coming, but now I must have it!!!!
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Thanks for the heads up on CRY WILDERNESS - I'd never heard of it before. Sounds awesome!