• Uninvited (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: January 15th, 2019.
    Director: Greydon Clark
    Cast: George Kennedy, Alex Cord, Clu Gulager, Toni Hudson, Clare Carey
    Year: 1987
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    Uninvited – Movie Review:

    If you’ve ever wanted to see George Kennedy take on a killer cat, this is the movie for you. Proving that animal experimentation will lead to no good, a cat that has been used for testing escapes a lab. At the same time two guys, Walter Graham (Alex Cord of Airwolf!) and Mike Harvey (George Kennedy of Death Ship) decide to take a trip from Florida to the Cayman Islands in some sort of odd attempt to make a lot of money – the SEC is after them and they need to get their cash out of the bank. Walter decides to invite a couple of hot chicks - Bobbie (Clare Carey) and Suzanne (Shari Shattuck) - to accompany them on their trip, and they in turn invite along a trio of guys to go along with them. Last but not least, one of the girls brings aboard a kitty cat that she so kindly rescued from the docks where the boat set off from. What could go wrong?

    As it turns out, a lot. The cat that the kindly blonde twit rescues and brings on board is of course the cat that’s escaped from the lab. Naturally, said cat goes on a killing spree aboard a boat full of people with no means of escape. Well technically it’s the weird creature that lives inside the cat that goes on the killing spree but it’s kind of hard to make that out because the effects aren’t exactly all that good. At any rate, killer creature on board, people die, or sometimes just sort of swell up thanks to the killer cat’s poisonous bite, engine dies and everyone’s screwed if they can’t get rid of this beastie…

    Oh, and Clu Gulager (from Return Of The Living Dead, of course) shows up at one point, as do Toni Hudson (Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), Clare Carey (Waxwork) and Eric Larson (of Demon Wind!). But mostly, it’s all about George Kennedy and that damn cat, until it isn’t, and then it’s all about Alex Cord. But when Kennedy and the cat go head to head in the last chunk of the movie, it’s nothing short of B-movie bliss, ripe with some delicious overacting from Kennedy, wonky cat-puppet-creature effects work and some delightfully goofy gore effects on hand to really seal the deal. If seeing an awkward looking George Kennedy lumbering around a boat wasn’t cause for alarm in and of itself, those creature effects really sink this one to the bottom of the barrel, in the best way possible. Basically, a bad kitty puppet with teeth, this is a creature so entirely not frightening that you can’t help but snicker at it any time it shows up on the screen – it looks like a cheap Muppet knockoff. And Cord? The guy plays the sleaziest asshole that ever did walk in this movie, and he does it really well. He’s the guy that you love to hate, abusing the women on board, trying to manipulate everyone, covering up deaths – all he wants his money, and maybe a booty call now and then.

    The acting is pretty horrible across the board and the movie is just as ridiculous as it sounds. None of the cast really seem comfortable in their roles, everyone either underplays it or chews the scenery. The direction from Greydon Clark, the man responsible for drive-in classics like Angel’s Brigade, Satan’s Cheerleaders and Without Warning, ensures that the pacing is quick enough and that there enough bizarre set pieces scattered throughout to keep us engaged. The cinematography from Nicholas von Sternberg, who worked with Clark on a few other projects like Skinheads and the amazing Joe Don Baker vehicle Final Justice, is more than competent, managing to make some of the overly ridiculous attack scenes on the boat claustrophobic enough to actually built some legitimate tension.

    Note that in addition to the standard version that’s been available before on VHS and DVD, Vinegar Syndrome has also included the ‘Alternate International Edit’ of the film that runs two-minutes longer than the more familiar ninety-one-minute version. Not only does this version included some additional gore and violence, but it has an alternate ending as well – one that is somehow even more ridiculous than the one used in the theatrical version!

    Uninvited – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer for Uninvited is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen is “newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative.” It looks very good on Blu-ray, showing very little print damage outside of the occasional small white speck. It’s a reasonably grainy looking film and that’s left intact on this transfer. Detail and texture are strong, there’s good depth and there are no problems with compression artifacts or noise reduction to note. Colors look quite good and black levels are strong as well.

    The only audio option offered on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Audio quality is fine. The dialogue stays perfectly clear throughout, the levels are properly balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. Those quirky eighties songs used on the soundtrack also sound quite good here!

    The first extra on the disc is a commentary track with director Greydon Clark. He talks about his work as writer, director and producer on the film, starting with the way that the titles are laid out in the opening, as well as his own cameo in the film. He gives a pretty scene specific talk, noting the use of hazmat suits lets the audience know that the cat in this movie isn’t a normal house cat. He talks about the locations that are used in the film, how he always put recognizable stars in his film and how he had worked with Kennedy prior on Wacko, before then talking about working with him and with Cord as well as the supporting players in the picture. He talks about how he came to get ahold of the boat where most of the film takes place and the trickiness of shooting on a boat as well as the costs involved in having a captain and crew member onboard. He notes his love of public domain music, Gulager’s penchant for playing drunks, the creature effects featured in the picture, using weapons on set and the details of how that works, editing tricks that he used to keep things coherent, how he shot the sinking of the ship in his own swimming pool and much more. Clark’s got a great memory and, in a very relaxed tone, he covers a lot of ground in this track, really leaving no stone unturned.

    Vinegar Syndrome has also included a featurette called That Darn Mutant Cat! which is an interview with cinematographer Nicholas von Sternberg that runs ten-minutes. He talks about the difficulty of working with live cats on the shoot, working with Greydon Clark and how much fun he was to work for, what it was like on the set of the film, having to deal with a lot of water and having to shoot on a boat, working with the cast and crew on the shoo and more. It’s a good piece with some interesting stories in it.

    The film’s theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection round out the extras on the Blu-ray disc.

    As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie that uses the same restoration and extras. Vinegar Syndrome has packaged this release with some very cool reversible cover artwork and, for the first 2,000 copies purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome, a slick collectible slipcover featuring artwork from Earl Kessler Jr..

    Uninvited – The Final Word:

    Uninvited is a whole lot of goofy fun thanks to some quirky effects work and some great performances from an enjoyable cast of actors. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray is a good one, offering up two cuts of the film, a really good commentary and a nice interview too. The film looks and sound really good on this disc as well – if low budget killer cat movies are your thing, check this one out!

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