• Shot (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: August 27th, 2018.
    Director: Mitch Brown
    Cast: Richard C. Watt, Frank Himes, Charles Russell, Neil Lifton, Jay Bret
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    Shot – Movie Review:

    Also known as Death Shot, this low budget crime film directed by Mitch Brown in 1973 was produced by the University Of Illinois and made pretty much entirely by students of said University. Clearly influenced by crime films of the time (think The French Connection and its ilk), this 16mm picture is surprisingly effective and ambitious, resulting in some solid, gritty entertainment.

    Ross and Wilson are two tough talking cops. We first meet them when they bust a guy for smoking the Devil’s weed outside of a movie theater! From here, they get involved in the after effects of a drug deal gone wrong when some dastardly dealers pull a fast one on their buyers. This leads to a shoot-out and a chase scene that leaves a woman named Sheila behind.

    Sheila then decides to cooperate with the fuzz, though really, she doesn’t have a lot of better options – it’s help the cops or do hard time. She spills it and tells the cops what she knows and soon enough they’re hot on the trail of would be kingpin Blasi and his small army of pot smoking henchmen. Blasi’s an ambitious type, setting his eyes on taking over even more of the area’s black market, while Ross is starting to wonder how long he’ll be able to hide the feelings that he’s clearly developing for his new informant.

    Shot for fifteen grand in and around Champagne, Illinois with money that director Mitch Brown and producer Nate Kohn raised through film screenings, it’s clear that this was made on a tight budget but every penny is up there on the screen. Sure, not all of the acting is going to be completely convincing all of the time but everyone clearly has their heart in the right place and you have to appreciate how much enthusiasm is on display in front of the camera. The filmmakers also did a nice job of casting the film. While it’s obvious that pretty much everyone here was affiliated with them somehow and maybe not what some would consider to be professional actors, the different players ‘look the part’ and that goes a long way towards making this work as well as it does.

    Brown does a nice job with the pacing on the film. The action comes pretty constantly and when it slows down, there’s a good reason for it. Sure, the plot might be a little pedestrian and the movie might contain more than its fair share of clichés, but the filmmakers more than make up for it with some impressive action set pieces and a genuinely cool score. There are even helicopter shots here to give the movie a ‘bigger’ feel than you’d expect from a production of this size. The location work that’s showcased in the film gives it plenty of regional flavor and an air of authenticity as well.

    All in all, this one just works. Anyone who digs funky seventies cop thrillers or who can appreciate just how far a dollar can be stretched in the hands of the right people should really enjoy this one.

    Shot – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Shot to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc framed at 1.33.1 fullframe in a transfer taken from a new 2k scan of the original 16mm negative. Given the picture’s origins, it isn’t surprising to note that this is a particularly grainy looking image but never to the detriment of the film, it just adds to the movie’s gritty vibe. Detail is very strong, all things considered, and there’s good depth here too. The image is in great shape, there isn’t much in the way of print damage to note, and there’s solid texture throughout. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement and the picture is thankfully free of any obvious noise reduction – this is very film-like, purists should really appreciate the way that this grubby little low-budget picture looks on Blu-ray!

    The English language LPCM Mono track is as product of its time but it sounds fine for what it is. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. There’s a disclaimer at the beginning of the film noting that some of the pops you might hear on the mix are a result of the elements but honestly, they’re not really all that distracting, even if they are there. Otherwise, the audio is decent enough. Dialogue is easy to follow and understand and the score sounds pretty strong. Some of the effects, like gun shots, don’t pack quite as much punch as you might hope but it’s all forgivable.

    Extras on the disc begin with a twenty-two-minute featurette entitled Taking A Shot, which is an interview with director Mitch Brown wherein he explains how everyone came together to work on this project, financing, locations, casting, stunts and more. We also get a twenty-two-minute audio interview with Producer Nate Kohn that covers similar ground. There are a lot of interesting stories here, it’s common for low budget films to have more interesting histories than mainstream projects and this is definitely one of those instances. If you enjoyed the feature attraction, do yourself a favor and take the time to listen to both of these. Even if they retread some of the same ground they’re both very worthwhile and interesting!

    Finishing off the extras is a still gallery well worth digging into as it contains some interesting archival material related to the history of the film. Menus and chapter selection are also included. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie included inside the case. Vinegar Syndrome also provides some very cool reversible sleeve art – always a nice touch.

    Shot – The Final Word:

    Shot may be rough around the edges at times but anyone who appreciates low budget moviemaking should get a serious kick out of this one. There’s loads of enthusiasm and energy in here, and it’s fairly infectious. Vinegar Syndrome has given this ridiculously entertaining obscurity a beautiful Blu-ray release, presenting the film looking better than most would believe it could and with a few choice extras as well. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Shot Blu-ray review screen captures!