• Battle For The Lost Planet/Mutant War (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: February 26th, 2019.
    Director: Brett Piper
    Cast: Matt Mitler, Denise Coward, Cameron Mitchell, Joe Gentissi, Deborah Quayle
    Year: 1986/1988
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    Battle For The Lost Planet/Mutant War – Movie Reviews:

    Filmmaker Brett Piper has been making movies and doing effects work since the early 1980’s, with recent efforts like Triclops and Queen Crab providing fans of stop motion style effects work with a pleasant alternative to much of the CGI work being done in genre pictures these days. Vinegar Syndrome offers up two of his earlier directorial efforts on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, presenting both pictures on optical disc for the first time anywhere in the entire history of the whole wide world!

    Battle For The Lost Planet:

    First up is the 16mm feature, Battle For The Lost Planet (also known as Galaxy), a film that introduces us to a rascally Han Solo-esque thief named Harry Trent (Matt Mitler). Early in the film, he steals a tape with some top-secret military plans on it from a controlling government. It turns out that these are plans for a deadly bomb and Harry’s in a bit of trouble for swiping them.

    As such, he hides out in a space shuttle and, when it launches, finds himself making an escape. He also narrowly avoids a deadly attack that decimates the Earth by the Izag aliens! With his ship out of fuel, Harry winds up spending a half decade in space and eventually making it to Mercury and then, finally, making it back to Earth where he’s happy that he’ll be able to see fellow humans again. Obviously, the Earth is not in the top-top shape it was when he left, and he soon teams up with some human resistance fighters. One of these rebels is Dana (Denise Coward). She and Harry hit it off… just as Harry realizes how handy those bomb plans that he stole might be in trying to set this right. Unfortunately, biker gang leader Mad Dog Kelly (Joe Gentissi) has other plans for our hero…

    Although it’s a little longer than it needs to be, Battle For The Lost Planet is pretty impressive considering it was made for peanuts. Those with an affinity for stop motion effects work and miniatures will no doubt be taken in by Piper’s love of the same. The scenes that involve these techniques are the highlights of the film and they happen often enough to have a very positive effect on the outcome. It’s clear that Piper and his team put a lot of effort into this aspect of the production and the results are impressive.

    The acting might be a little wooden, a bit rough in spots to be sure, but Mitler has enough charisma to work in the lead and he more or less carries the film. The villains, most guys in alien masks, are also a lot of fun here. Pacing issues aside, Battle For The Lost Planet is a picture that should definitely appeal to those who can appreciate how creativity and ingenuity can make up for a big budget or name actors.

    Mutant War:

    The second feature, a 35mm production, is a kinda-sorta sequel to the earlier film. Once again, we catch up with Harry Trent (Mitler again) after his bomb laid waste to a whole lot of what was left of the Earth, the unintended consequences of the radiation mutating a segment of the population into horrible cannibalistic beasts!

    These days, Harry tries to stay out of trouble but while cruising around one day, he runs into Spider (Kristine Waterman), a teenaged runaway in need of help on the run from the mutants he helped create. What’s her deal? The mutants have taken her sisters hostage with the intent of using them and other captured women as breeding machines and then, ultimately, eating them. Harry is hesitant to get involved in this at first, but of course, Spider convinces him of the importance of all of this and before you know it, he jumps into the fray, eventually getting involved not just with the mutants but with a madman named Reinhart Rex (Cameron Mitchell) and a gang of post-apocalyptic punks!

    While the effects are just as good, if not better, then they were in the first movie, the plot in this one is pretty flimsy. Not that the first film was super deep or anything, but it seems to come as an after thought this time around. Still, what made the first movie fun is here again – Mitler is enjoyable enough in his second run as Harry. He’s a smart ass and he’s fun to watch. There’s lots of stop motion here and the creature design is excellent. Even if it is just on a superficial level, there’s a lot of good old fashioned entertainment value to be had here and seeing Piper work with 35mm gives the project a bit more gloss and polish than the earlier effort had and post-apocalyptic punks are always fun.

    Battle For The Lost Planet/Mutant War – Blu-ray Review:

    Battle For The Lost Planet/Mutant War are presented on a 50GB disc from Vinegar Syndrome who present both features in AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen transfers presented in 1080p high definition taken from new 2k scans of their original 16mm and 35mm negatives respectively. Given that these are very low budget pictures, it’s impressive how good they look here. Vinegar Syndrome has done a nice cleanup job without scrubbing away their natural, filmic texture. The first film is grainier than the second, which makes sense given the format it was shot on, but both show nice detail and strong color reproduction alongside good black levels and skin tones.

    Each film gets the DTS-HD Mono treatment. The limitations of the source material are evident at times as some of the audio is a bit flat and there is some occasionally muffled dialogue but by and large the quality is fine. Levels are properly balanced and there aren’t any noticeable issues here. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The main extra on the disc is Battle For The Lost Film, a twenty-minute interview with writer/director Brett Piper. Here he looks back on his early years, talking about the projects he did prior to the feature length Battle For The Lost Planet and openly acknowledging his love for Harryhausen style effects set pieces. He talks about the different locations that he used for the shoot and some of the resourcefulness that he had to employ to pull some of this off as well as dealing with a producer on Mutant War who had decidedly different ideas for the film than the young director did. He also talks about shooting on 35mm versus 16mm, casting the film, working with Cameron Mitchell and more. It’s very interesting stuff – definitely take the time to give this a watch.

    Additionally, Vinegar Syndrome has included introductions for both films from Piper (these are quick, each running under a minute, but amusing) as well as an original trailer for Mutant War. Menus and chapter selection are provided for each feature. 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 1,500 pieces.

    Battle For The Lost Planet/Mutant War – The Final Word:

    While the second feature isn’t as inspired as the first, Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release of Brett Piper’s Battle For The Lost Planet/Mutant War is a pretty fun release. The movie are presented in surprisingly nice shape and the director interview offers a lot of great background information on both pictures. Stop motion effects junkies, here’s your fix. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Battle For The Lost Planet/Mutant War Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      I need to get this set. Big fan of Piper's work and I think I've seen one of these movies.

      Great review.