• Party Line (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Party Line (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review
    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: February 26th, 2019.
    Director: William Webb
    Cast: Richard Hatch, Richard Roundtree, Shawn Weatherly, Leif Garrett, Greta Blackburn
    Year: 1988
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    Party Line – Movie Reviews:

    An erotic thriller starring Shaft and Leif Gerrett? Hell yeah! Vinegar Syndrome brings 1988’s Party Line to Blu-ray, and the world is a better place for it. The story is set in Los Angeles, the city of angels, where adult party lines are all the rage! For those not old enough to remember these things, basically you dialed a number and, for a fee, were able to talk to horny people, get to know them a bit, and maybe even meet up in real life for a little one on one fun! The internet killed this business off pretty quickly but it wasn’t uncommon in the 80’s and 90’s to see ads for these things on late night television.

    At any rate, Los Angeles is clearly a city full of very horny people who are way too into this whole party line thing. Through one such line, a married man (played by James Paradise, the man who co-directed Geteven a.k.a Road To Revenge!) arranges a meet up with sultry Angelina (Greta Blackburn of Chained Heat), but their tryst is cut short at the most inopportune time when her brother, Seth (Leif Garrett), walks in on them. Unfortunately for this married guy, Seth has a few screws loose… and Angelina isn’t much better. After threatening to blackmail him, they cut his throat and murder him! You shouldn’t screw around on your wife, but this seems excessive.

    As the story plays out and this pair look for more victims, we learn a bit about their incestuous past and about Seth’s obvious mommy issues. Their cruising through the various party lines eventually brings them into contact with a tough cop named Dan Bridges (Richard Hatch) and a horny (there’s that word again) piece of jailbait named Jennifer (Patricia Patts) who has no trouble getting Seth all riled up. Soon enough, despite the misgivings of Captain Barnes (Richard Roundtree), he’s teamed up with sassy, sexy special investigator Stacy Sloan (Shawn Weatherly) to figure out what’s going on here and how to put a stop to it.

    There’s something to be said for seeing Leif Garrett play a raging psychopath, and he does it quite well. He gives us a bit of scenery chewing, but you kind of want that in a movie like this, and he and co-star Greta Blackburn have a decent amount of quirky chemistry when they’re together on screen. Anytime they movie is revolving around these two, it’s pretty entertaining stuff. The police procedural aspects of the story, which focus on Hatch and Weatherly aren’t quite as engaging but they’re ok thanks to the novelty of seeing Battlestar Galactica’s Commander Apollo and a Baywatch star running around playing cop. Of course, throwing Richard Roundtree into the mix doesn’t hurt things either – the guy’s just got loads of screen presence, he’s watchable in anything.

    The movie is nicely shot by cinematographer John Huneck and features an appropriately sax-heavy soundtrack. There isn’t a whole lot of blood here but there’s a fair bit of suspense and no shortage of sleaze. William Webb keeps the pacing tight and despite the film’s dated aspects, it’s remains a pretty entertaining and moderately stylish thriller with enough quirk and character to easily hold your attention.

    Party Line – Blu-ray Review:

    Party Line arrives on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome on a 50GB disc in a 1.85.1 widescreen transfer taken from a new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative and presented in 1080p high definition. The film’s glossy cinematography is nicely represented here, as the transfer does a nice job of bringing out a lot of detail and texture in the image. Colors are reproduced perfectly and black levels are nice and strong. The image is clean, showing no noticeable print damage but retaining a natural amount of film grain, while skin tones look nice and natural.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is solid is unremarkable. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The audio here is fine. It’s well-balanced and free of any problematic hiss or distortion. It’s a bit flat sounding in spots but this is likely due to how it was recorded. No issues here, really.

    The main extra is Party Line Fever, a new interview with screenwriter Richard Brandes that runs just over sixteen-minutes in length. Here he speaks about where he got some of the ideas for the film, how he wound up living and working in Los Angeles, his experience as an actor and his cameo in the film and a few other interesting subjects.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie and Vinegar Syndrome packages this with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    Slip cover collectors will be interested in buying directly from Vinegar Syndrome where they can get a limited-edition slip featuring exclusive artwork from Earl Kessler Jr. that is limited to 2000 pieces.

    Party Line – The Final Word:

    Party Line is undeniably a product of the era in which it was made and it’s more than a little dated in that regard, but that just adds to the fun. The movie pretty entertaining stuff – tense, and occasionally more than a little sleazy, but polished and engaging. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release isn’t stacked with extras but the interview with the writer is interesting and the presentation is excellent.

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