• Foes (Garagehouse Pictures) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Garagehouse Pictures
    Released on: June 24th, 2019.
    Director: John Coats
    Cast: Macdonald Carey, Jerry Hardin, Jane Wiley, Alan Blanchard, Gregory Clemens
    Year: 1977
    Purchase From Amazon

    Foes – Movie Review:

    A seriously obscure genre picture that could only have come out of the low budget/indie film scene of the 70’s, Foes begins when a team of U.S. military experts detect nothing less than an Unidentified Flying Saucer off the California coastline. The military, led by McCarey (Macdonald Carey) and (Jerry Hardin), spring into action to try and contain things but it won’t be that easy.

    The UFO puts up a giant wall of what they learn to be magnetic energy that stops them from getting to close, while an evacuation is put in place. Of course, it doesn’t go as planned and with the UFO hovering near a lighthouse and civilians Larry (director John Coats) and wife Diane (Jane Wiley) trapped nearby, things go from bad to worse – these aliens aren’t friendly. Cut off from anyone who could potentially even attempt a rescue, Larry and Diane soon find themselves teaming up with a pair of tourists – (Alan Blanchard and Gregory Clemens) – who weren’t able to get out of the area on time in hopes of trying to find a way to survive against an increasingly aggressive alien menace!

    Shot in and around the very scenic California coast, Foes is a seriously interesting and weird little film. The storyline is pretty simple: aliens show up, people we like get stuck, and said people need to figure out how to survive. There isn’t a whole lot more to it than that. But it works! Coats, who tried his damnedest to get Orson Welles on board for this picture but sadly only directed this one feature film but would go on to have a pretty solid career doing effects work on films like Wes Craven's New Nightmare, Rambo III and The Last Samurai, shows a knack for conjuring up some unforgettable visuals.

    The whole thing has a weird, almost trippy vibe to it. The movie is well-paced without feeling quickly paced, and it mixes horror, sci-fi and elements I guess you could describe as philosophical in fairly equal measure. Some of the acting feels a little bit clunky and the bits and pieces in the military compound don’t really add much, but there’s a lot here that works really well. The picture certainly wears its low budget on its sleeve, but that never takes away from the suspense or the atmosphere and while the effects are definitely the star of the show, there’s enough substance here to match the film’s unique style.

    Note that for this release, Garagehouse has included both the theatrical version and the director’s cut version of Foes. The director’s cut, which looks to have been reconstructed from the theatrical version, runs seventy-three-minutes versus the ninety-minute running time of the theatrical version. There are some significant differences between the two versions – Carey has been removed from the film entirely and as such, the military angle is gone. This version flows better, the military footage tends to slow things down a bit unnecessarily and as it was shot on 35mm footage and inserted into the 16mm footage by the distributor its nice to see Coats’ preferred option included on the disc as well.

    Foes – Blu-ray Review:

    Both version of Foes arrives on Blu-ray from Garagehouse Pictures in an AVC encoded 1080p presentation framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in a release that is truly the film’s North American home video debut. Given that the film was shot on a mix of 16mm and 35mm film stock, it won’t surprise anyone to see that there are some noticeable jumps in terms of quality and clarity when the movie shifts back and forth. That said, Garagehouse has done a pretty nice job bringing this to Blu-ray. Detail is quite good and while the 16mm bits understandably look grainier than the 35mm bits, there’s very little in the way of print damage to complain about. Some mild compression artifacts can be spotted in a couple of spots if you’re really looking for them but otherwise, no complaints, this is a very nice-looking presentation.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono tracks provided for both versions of the picture and the tracks are limited in range but very likely true to source. Audio is clean throughout, with dialogue coming through nicely and without any issues. Levels are properly balanced as well, no problems to note with any hiss or distortion.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary by director John Coats, who flies solo here and, while delivering a lot of interesting information about the history of the picture, has a tendency to clam up and go quiet for stretches. Still, when he’s on, he’s interesting as he covers the locations, bringing this in on a low budget, the film’s distribution, casting the picture and more.

    Also found on the disc is a short film directed by Coats entitled Tales Of L.A., which is a seventeen-minute piece where the director plays the lead in a quirky little story about how a simple Los Angeles drug deal can take some interesting twists and turns. This is quite an interesting little time capsule of the city and a nice inclusion in the supplemental package.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a photo gallery, a trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for a few other Garagehouse Pictures releases (Ninja Busters, The Intruder, The Dismembered, The Satanist, Trailer Trauma and Trailer Trauma 2), menus and chapter selection.

    Foes – The Final Word:

    Foes is a weird little film, but so much the better! Garagehouse Pictures has done a nice job rescuing this genuine cinematic oddity from legitimate obscurity, presenting it in nice shape and with some good extra features as well. Recommended.

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