• There’s Nothing Out There (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: January 15th, 2019.
    Director: Rolfe Kanefsky
    Cast: Craig Peck, Wendy Bednarz, Mark Collver, Bonnie Bowers, John Carhart III, Clauda Flores
    Year: 1991
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    There’s Nothing Out There – Movie Review:

    This micro-budget 16mm feature from director Rolfe Kanefsky was made for peanuts and released in 1990. It originally appeared on DVD from Image Entertainment back when that label was a hot spot for cult related oddities but has been out of print for some time. From there, it was given a special edition DVD release Troma in 2011, as an extras-laden two-disc set with more supplements relating to this film and its director than any one sane person could actually really want. Jump ahead to 2019 and the film gets its high definition debut from Vinegar Syndrome with even more additional extra features! But what's the movie all about? Let's start with that.

    Like so many horror movies before it, There's Nothing Out There tells the story of a group of young people, seven of them in total, who decide to head out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere for some rest, relaxation, drinking and copulation - you know, all those things that teens in horror movies just can't get enough of. Shortly after our seven protagonists - a meathead jock, a nerdy guy, a European foreign exchange student, a dumb blonde bimbo, an attractive and brainy brunette, a snobby rich dude and an introverted loner guy - arrive at the cabin, a pair of pot smoking miscreants shows up and takes a dip in the pool, having confused it with a nearby pond. No matter, they take off never to be seen again and have nothing to do with the plot.

    Later yet that same night, our heroes decide to split into groups for various reason - some want to explore the woods, some want to goof off, some want to get some alone time and get some quality boffing in before the others find them while a few others want to go skinny dipping. As the group spreads out, an amphibian monster starts killing off the male characters, one at a time, but leaving the females alive for an altogether different fate - a mating ritual! Thankfully the nerdy guy has seen enough horror films over the years to have a rough idea of how to get out of this situation with as few casualties as possible - and so they work together to come up with a plan to make it out alive, but will it be enough?

    Cheap, schlocky and gleefully trashy, There's Nothing Out There is an effective mix of low budget horror and goofy, tasteless comedy. The film wallows in genre clichés and needless T&A to good effect, resulting in a film that's completely watchable and simultaneously horrible. It's not a good movie in the traditional sense - the acting is bad, the script pedestrian and base, the production values are minimal and the effects done without a proper budget to support the director's vision or ambition - but I'll be damned if it isn't a whole lot of fun. Writer/director Rolfe Kanefsky, seemingly well aware of the type of movie that he was making, throws in enough random and off the wall comedy to keep the whole thing consistently funny even if you'll find yourself wondering what the point of much of it is. The fac tthat he made this film, his directorial debut, at only nineteen years of age, makes it even more impressive. Entertainment, really, is the point and on that level, this screwy little picture succeeds where countless other films made for far more money have failed miserably. There's something to be said for such determination as is on display here. While it's certainly true that no one is taking any of this all too seriously, there's still a fair bit of talent evident in how it's put together. This is very much a case of laughing with the movie as much as it is at the movie, and while frequently such films that take the piss out of genre material fall flat on their self-referential faces, There's Nothing Out There gets it right with just the correct amount of tits, blood, weird special effects and genuinely effective humor.

    There’s Nothing Out There – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer for There’s Nothing Out There is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen is taken from a new 2k scan of the film’s 35mm interpositive and it looks excellent. It’s still a naturally grainy looking film but detail, depth and texture handily advance over the previous DVD release. Compression artifacts are a non-issue and color reproduction looks excellent, as do black levels. The transfer is free of any noticeable print damage aside from one or two small white specks now and again that most won’t notice. Edge enhancement and noise reduction are never problematic and the whole thing retains a really nice filmic quality throughout playback.

    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. Range is a bit limited, as you might expect, but the track is clean, clear and properly balanced, free of any noticeable hiss or distortion.

    The new extras start with a group commentary with director Rolfe Kanefsky, Joe Lynch (filmmaker), Jeff Reddick (filmmaker) and others. This covers some of the same ground as the older commentary (see below for info on that) but it covers enough new ground that it’s worth checking out. Kanefsky has had a decade or so to think about the movie again, so he’s got some different stories about the making of it but more interestingly, Lynch and Reddick get him talking about the tone of the movie, how it compares to other films and its place in the pantheon of low budget horror films of its era. Also new to this release is a commentary with crew of the The Hysteria Continues! podcast. If you’ve heard these guys before – and at this point they’ve become pretty prolific so odds are good that you have – then you know what to expect: a well-informed mix of trivia, insight and analysis done with the right balance of serious discussion and humor.

    Vinegar Syndrome has also provided a few new featurettes for this disc, starting with There’s A Movie Out There, which is an interview with writer/director Rolfe Kanefsky and editor Victor Kanefsky. Here, over the span of fifty-two-minutes, the filmmakers look back on the making of the film, what led to the creation of this picture, what they were going for with the tone of the film, their thoughts on how it turned out and what it was like on set as well. In 40 Years Of Cutting Kanefsky gets to talk to C. Courtney Joyner in a thirty-one-minute discussion that focuses specifically on his career. He talks not just about how he came to work on this picture and what was involved in putting it together but also about his role in assembling Bloodsucking Freaks, Ganja & Hess and a few other projects. Interesting stuff. The disc also includes a new interview with actor Craig Peck that runs eighteen-minutes. He speaks about landing the part in the production, how his audition was terrible, his thoughts on the script and how much fun he had working on this movie.

    Earlier in the review we mentioned that ‘extras-laden’ Troma DVD, right? Well all of the main supplements from that two-disc special edition have been carried over to this release as well. First up is a commentary track that joins Rolfe Kanefsky, with cast members Victor Kanefsky, Craig Peck, Mark Collver, John Kim, Gene Masse. Ported over from the Image release, it's a solid track that gives us a good feel for what it was like on set both in front of and behind the camera. A second achival commentary gets Kanefsky on the microphone to fly solo, and here he basically fills in the blanks left by the first track, discussing how the film has come to be received over the years, how he feels about it in hindsight and some of the issues that he ran into while making the movie.

    Vinegar Syndrome has also included Copycat,a ten-minute short film ‘about the film’s influence’ that more or less retells the story of the movie serving as a tribute or sorts. Also found on the disc is the lengthy one-hundred-and-ten-minute feature, Murder In Winter, which Rolfe Kanefsky shot with a camcorder in his senior year. It features Peck in the lead again, which is kind of fun, but it’s rough around the edges and too long for what it is. Still, it makes for an interesting addition to the disc and it’s pretty cool to see where Kanefsky got his start. The presentation is not so hot – it’s clearly been taken from an old VHS source complete with tape rolls and drop outs – and pretty much all of the music is going to sound familiar to you, but it’s ambitious for what it is. We start with a driving scene before arriving at a fancy house where, well, it’s kind of tough to say because the audio is very muffled. Regardless, it’s a murder mystery story told with a quirky sense of humor. It’s stagey in spots, but there are definitely moments where the camera placement and cinematography is more advanced than you’d expect (a shot from inside the trunk of a car stands out, for example). The costumes and fake moustaches add to the fun, and the sets are clearly just that – sets. But if you were ever involved in community theater or school drama class productions this will probably make you smile.

    We also get a music video that Kanefsky directed for a song that wasn't actually used in the feature for some reason. It's not something you'll watch more than once, but it's there if you want it and it's harmless enough. More interesting, as they relate to the main attraction, is the twelve-minutes’ worth of Screen Tests And Audition Footage in which we get a chance to check out the various performers trying to earn themselves a part in this esteemed production. Kanefsky provides optional commentary for this footage which is actually pretty funny. He also provides an amusing commentary over top of the seven-minutes’ worth of pre-production test footage and storyboard footage that's been collected here. This gives us a pretty cool peek at how he went about the early stages of the production and it's quite interesting. Ten-minutes’ worth of Rehearsal Footage shot on set, also with optional commentary, is worth watching if you feel you just can't get enough as is the three-minutes’ of Test Animation Footage which, again, features optional commentary. You'd think Kanefsky would run out of things to talk about, but nope, he keeps going and manages to be consistently interesting and/or entertaining, sometimes both.

    Vinegar Syndrome has also included two of Kanefsky's early films, the first of which is a student project entitled Just Listen, which is a fourteen-minute piece which eagle-eyed viewers may recognize from the opening bit of There's Nothing Out There. It's a bit rough around the edges but it's still pretty cool to see it included. The second film is the bizarre twenty-minute Mood Boobs, which is a quirky document of a woman whose breasts enlarge or shrink depending on what kind of mood she's in. It's just as strange as it sounds and it comes with its own sixteen-minute making of documentary that shows how some of the more memorable shots were set up and captured.

    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 (save for Murder In Winter, which is not included on the DVD). 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..

    There’s Nothing Out There – The Final Word:

    There’s Nothing Out There is a blast, an effective mix of horror and comedy done right and a picture that is far better than any micro-budget feature made by a nineteen-year-old has any right to be. Vinegar Syndrome has rolled out the red carpet for the film’s Blu-ray debut, presenting it in excellent shape and with more extras than anyone could have hoped for. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized There’s Nothing Out There Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Watched my DVD last week. It is fun. I want the BD just so I can pause and admire the VHS tapes in the video store.