• Savage Harbor (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 24th, 2019.
    Director: Carl Monson
    Cast: Frank Stallone, Christopher Mitchum, Karen Mayo-Chandler, Anthony Caruso, Gary Wood, Lisa Loring, Nicholas Worth
    Year: 1987
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Savage Harbor – Movie Review:

    The final film directed by Carl Monson (who also helmed Please Don't Eat My Mother and A Scream In The Streets), 1987’s Savage Harbor (also known as Death Feud) tells the sordid tale of Bill (Frank Stallone) and Joe (Christopher Mitchum), two sailors on shore leave in San Pedro. When Bill falls in love with a hooker named Anne (Karen Mayo-Chandler), trying to get away from her pimp. He wants to take her to an avocado farm! Things are great… until they’re not – see Bill’s got to earn a living somehow and soon enough, he’s back on a ship for the next six months.

    During that time, Anne’s pimp, a mobster/drug dealer/generally all-around bad guy named Harry Caine (Anthony Caruso), pulls her back into the business and soon enough, she’s addicted to smack! When Bill returns from his latest voyage to reclaim his beloved, she’s nowhere to be seen and so he, with a bit of help from barfly Joe, sets out to find her. It all goes downhill from there…

    Wow. Those with an affinity for Z-grade action trash ought to get a real kick out of this one. Destined to forever live in the shadows of their far more famous family members, Frank Stallone and Christopher Mitchum make for quite the team supreme in this enjoyably wonky revenge picture. Very much a product of its time, the film allows our mulleted heroes plenty of screen time and Frank at least makes the most of it. Mitchum? Well, he spends the vast majority of his screen time sitting around at a bar smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and making eyes at a stripper, so he’s understandably limited in what he can do here.

    But Stallone? Frank Stallone? That guy gives 110% here. It doesn’t mean that his performance is particularly good, but it does mean it’s enthusiastic. When it hits the fan for him and Bill gets angry, that’s when Stallone really gets to shine. He kicks in unlocked, open doors. He yells at people. He has a Rocky moment or two and he stands around with his legs spread just enough so that he always looks like he’s ready for action. Also, there’s a scene just past the hour mark where Bill and Joe are walking around, Bill’s all distraught over his situation and he randomly kicks an empty garbage can as hard as he can. For some reason this struck me as hilarious and I can’t explain why but I watched it twice.

    Production values are… sufficient. Shot in and around the City Of Angels, the movie has an effectively gritty vibe to it that actually works quite well. Jack Beckett, who shot Manson and The Boob Tube, manages to capture all of this nonsense well enough. It’s not a super stylish film but it works. The score, from David Bergeaud, who made his debut here and score The Unnamable a year later, is decent and it suits the film just fine.

    Supporting work from Anthony Caruso is pretty solid. He always played bad guys well and he plays a bad guy well here. Also look for Lisa Loring, former Wednesday Addams and one time wife of the late Jerry Butler, in a small part. Oh, and Nicholas Worth too – how cool is that?

    Worth the price of admission for the weird heroin-induced dream sequence alone!

    Savage Harbor – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Savage Harbor to Blu-ray on a 25GB disc taken from a new 2k scan of the film’s original 35mm negative and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. There’s the occasional top-to-bottom scratch noticeable here and there but otherwise, the elements were clearly in very nice shape. Colors look really good here, there’s some definite pop with the primary hues, while skin tones look lifelike and natural throughout. Black levels are strong and there’s really nice detail here throughout. The transfer shows no compression artifacts and it’s devoid of edge enhancement and noise reduction problems. Overall, this looks really good.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is solid. There aren’t any problems understanding the dialogue, the track is balanced well and it’s nice and clean, free of any audible hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

    Extras kick off with Do You Like Avocados?, an all-new interview with leading man Frank Stallone that runs fourteen-minutes and opens with the actor asking the question ‘who wants to know about this stupid movie?’ He talks about how he got into acting, how he came to be cast in the film, working on the film and how it had a very low budget, shooting on location in San Pedro, difficulties they ran into on set with actual sailor types, the great poster that was come up with for the movie (and how is completely misrepresented things), how he truly believes everyone has to make a few shitty movies before you can make a good one, how he wound up having an affair with Karen Mayo-Chandler who later passed away, other bad films he’s made like Billy Lone Bear, how he got along with Mitchum (they made a few movies together), the issues he has with SAG, and plenty more. Stallone comes off as a seriously nice guy, very much aware of the quality of film that he made here. He’s got a great sense of humor and is a lot of fun to listen to – and he’s got some great stories!

    The disc also includes an audio interview with cinematographer Jack Beckett that runs twenty-seven-minutes and is conducted by Brandon from Vinegar Syndrome. He talks about how his father ‘put him into the film business as punishment for not being a dentist.’ He talks about his father’s experience in the industry and how he got into the business himself, shooting in Paris on a certain project, lighting work that he’d done in the past, how he hooked up with Carl Monson (who apparently aspired to bigger things), how and why he wound up shooting Savage Harbor, what it was like working with Monson and getting the film done on time and on budget, his thoughts on the cast and what some of the actors were like to work with, what it was like on set, how some of the stunt sequences in the film were shot and more.

    Menus and chapter selection finish things off. The packaging for this is also pretty slick – not only do we get a great double sided cover sleeve but we also get a poster featuring the same art on both sides, and a slipcover that loads from the bottom, just like an old VHS sleeve would.

    NOTE: This release is part of the new Vinegar Syndrome Archive line, which is described by Vinegar Syndrome as follows:

    “We are pleased to present the Vinegar Syndrome Archive line, celebrating forgotten cinematic oddities from the video store era. This collection was inspired by our own video store, The Archive, and is designed to be extra appealing and affordable for all local brick and mortar video stores by offering them below market wholesale pricing.

    Unique to this line, each hand numbered limited edition release will come fitted in a specially designed, bottom loading VHS inspired slipcase, featuring the original video art used for the film, while also including a double-sided poster.

    These releases will ONLY be available on our website and at participating brick and mortar retailers. Absolutely no other online stores will be stocking them. Each release is strictly limited to 2,500 units and will never be re-released in another version. We are allocating 2,000 units to sell on our website and 500 units to be sold at participating retail video stores.”

    Savage Harbor – The Final Word:

    Savage Harbor is goofy, sleazy and wonderful. Was anyone asking for this one Blu-ray? Probably not, but now that it’s out it really is a film that should be celebrated by those with a taste for absurd, B-grade action films. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray looks and sounds very nice indeed and the two interviews, especially the Stallone piece, are great. This was an insanely fun watch!

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I really dig this one. I remember the scene where he gets pulled behind a truck being pretty insane. Love that its getting the VS treatment.