• Grandmother’s House (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 23rd, 2019.
    Director: Peter Rader
    Cast: Eric Foster, Kim Valentine, Len Lesser, Ida Lee, Brinke Stevens
    Year: 1988
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    Grandmother’s House – Movie Review:

    When Grandmother’s House beings, young David (Eric Foster – the kid from Cry Wilderness!) and his teenaged sister Lynn (Kim Valentine) are burying their recently deceased father. Having lost their mother years before, the two newly orphaned siblings are bused off to the wilds of rural California to live with their grandparents (played by Len Lesser and Ida Lee). On the way there, the bus driver narrowly avoids catastrophe when he swerves off the road to ensure he doesn’t run over a strange woman (Brinke Stevens) who has appeared in the bus’ path.

    Shortly after arriving, David starts seeing the woman both in his dreams and in real life. He dreams of his grandfather slicing her up in the basement and, when at a competitive swimming competition, he sees her behind the stands. She always seems to vanish quickly, and he has no idea who she is. Meanwhile, Lynn hits it off with a local guy named Kenny (Michael Robinson) who proves he’s the man for her by groping her in the pool and then swimming around her underwater checking out her figure. Puzzlingly enough, this works – maybe it’s got something to do with his car (which would just so happen to be the same car used in In The Cold Of The Night!).

    Eventually a few murders occur and while the ridiculously rotund sheriff pokes about, David takes it upon himself to try and figure out who is behind them and why.

    The directorial debut of Peter Rader, the filmmaker probably best known for writing Waterworld, the notorious Kevin Costner flop from 1995. Produced by the mighty Nico Mastorakis (which explains why the car from In The Cold Of The Night appears in the film), it isn’t as sleazy as much of the material that the producer stamped his name on but it’s a decent little horror/thriller/mystery with a few notably bizarre twists – you definitely won’t see the ending coming, and even once you’ve witnessed it, well, you might be left with a few questions about how all of that managed to work out. There’s enough quirky late eighties goofiness in here to keep things entertaining!

    As to the performances, Eric Foster is a decent enough lead here. He was goofy in Cry Wilderness, but then, everything about that movie was goofy so he was probably just doing as he was instructed and rather than hold that against him, I think we should all give him a collective high five for it. Here, he’s fine. Likeable enough, he seems smart and with it, we have no trouble buying him in the part even when his character makes a few bondheaded moves. Pretty Kim Valentine is also fine as his sister. She isn’t given quite as much to do as Foster is but she does just fine in her part. Again, we buy her in the role. Michael Robinson is obnoxious as Kenny, but that’s how he was written. If we can’t understand why Lynn would want to go out with this guy, rad car notwithstanding, it isn’t the fault of Robinson’s performance. Len Lesser and Ida Lee are a lot of fun as the elders in the film, Lesser (immortalized as Uncle Leo in Seinfeld) in particular is a real kick to watch here. He makes the most out of his role and is just a lot of fun. As to Brinke Stevens? She does the ‘mysterious woman’ bit pretty well. She doesn’t really have a lot of dialogue here but she looks the part and uses her facial expressions and body movement well. She’s definitely the most interesting character in the film.

    Grandmother’s House – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Grandmother’s House to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition with the picture framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taken from a new 4k restoration from its original 35mm camera negative. The image is clean and nicely detailed, showing a natural amount of film grain but little in the way of actual print damage – in fact, you’ll be hard pressed to notice any unless you’re really looking for it and even then, it’s pretty miniscule. Colors look really nice here, especially in the scenes that take place outside in the California sun. Interiors are less colorful, which is to be expected, especially once the action heads into the cellar, but even here detail and depth remain strong. There are no problems with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or obvious noise reduction – all in all, this looks great.

    English language options are provided in DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound options with removable SDH subtitles provided in English. The 5.1 mix mainly spreads out the score and the occasional foley effect with most of the dialogue up front in the mix. Both tracks sound very good, however. Dialogue is clean and clear and the score, that ridiculously sax-intensive score, sounds very good. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion worth noting. No complaints!

    Extras start off with The Mysterious Woman, an all-new interview with actress Brinke Stevens that runs thirteen-minutes. In this piece she talks about playing younger characters even into her early thirties, how her agent got her the audition for Grandmother’s House and what that was like, her experiences on the set and her thoughts on the script and the quality of the ‘intense dramatic part’ she had in the film even though she doesn’t have much dialogue. She also talks about some of the other horror movies she’d worked on, like Slumber Party Massacre and Nightmare Sisters, and how this differed from those pictures, what it was like shooting on location, how a stuntman got injured on set, the joys of working with live chickens, interactions with her co-stars and more.

    Back To Grandmother's House is an interview with director Peter Rader that runs sixteen-minutes. He speaks here about how he got into filmmaking and how he came to love the medium, moving to L.A. and getting his start doing music videos, how he got to know writer Peter Jensen and his thoughts on the script that came to be Grandmother’s House, making a short film version before the feature version of the movie, the importance of the locations used in the movie, casting the film, working on a low budget and a short schedule, what it was like working with Nico Mastorakis and how he had to supervise his own post-production work at the producer’s behest!

    Slow And Steady gets writer/cinematographer Peter Jensen in front of the camera for nine-minutes. He talks about how he got into film and how he wound up going to UCLA for film studies. He then talks about writing the original short film, collaborating with Rader on the rewrite for the feature version, and his work as a cinematographer, the importance of the steadicam to his work, the reasoning behind framing certain shots in very specific ways in the feature, using a lot of dolly shots in the film and how much fun he had working on this picture with the people he was able to collaborate with.

    The disc also includes an archival 'making-of' featurette which includes the original short concept film that was made to secure financing for the feature length version. This short version features different actors playing David and Lynn. Niko Mastorakis narrates the film and talks about Peter Rader, the quality of the promo reel, and there’s some footage here from the AFM where you can spot weird cardboard standees of Bill and Hillary Clinton!

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is an archival still gallery, a theatrical trailer for the feature, 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 (and super cool) artwork from Earl Kessler Jr. that is limited to 1,500 pieces.

    Grandmother’s House – The Final Word:

    Grandmother’s House is an entertaining and quirky thriller worth seeking out. It’s quickly paced and, at times, weird enough to work thanks to some fun twists and a solid cast. Vinegar Syndrome has done their typically excellent job bringing this to Blu-ray in a beautiful presentation and with a nice selection of extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Grandmother’s House screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      I had high hopes for this one but was kind of let down. It was a fairly standard thriller that's nothing special but it has some good performances and the pace is pretty quick...It just doesn't didn't do anything surprising and the twists, especially the first, were pretty obvious.