• Deadline (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: March 24th, 2019.
    Director: Mario Azzopardi
    Cast: Stephen Young, Sharon Masters, Marvin Goldhar, Jeannie Elias, Cindy Hinds
    Year: 1980
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    Deadline – Movie Review:

    Steven Lessey (Stephen Young) is a novelist who is doing alright for himself writing horror stories, particularly when his latest novel, The Executioner, is turned into a blockbuster film by producer Burt Horowitz (Marvin Goldhar). If there’s one thing that he’s learned over the years that he’s been doing this, it’s that there is a market for bloodshed and as far as commercial viability is concerned, the bloodier the picture the bigger the box office.

    There’s more to his work than this, however. He’s good at writing schlock but wants something more, he wants to be recognized not as a commercially successful hack but as an actual writer with some artistic merit. This comes to a header when he shows up to give a speech at his old alma mater and is accused of being a hack and a menace to society. As he becomes reasonably obsessed with getting that acclaim, the work that he conjures up starts to blend in with his reality. As this occurs, his marriage to wife Elizabeth (Sharon Masters) starts to quickly fray around the edges and his relationship with his three kids starts to… evolve.

    Also known as Anatomy Of Horror (a better title in my opinion), Deadline wants to be a message film, but it never really ‘goes there’ in terms of how it explores the effects of horror films and horror fiction on the general public. Instead, it seems to revel in the fairly constant stream of gore effects and frequent nudity inserted into the film – and it’s all the better for it! A low budget Canadian tax shelter picture, this picture sports pretty decent production values and moves at a nice, tight pace. Mario Azzopardi, who would go on to do a load of Canadian television work including stints on The Edison Twins and The Littlest Hobo (for some of us, it ALWAYS comes back to The Littlest Hobo) and the late 90s reboot of The Outer Limits to name only a few, show fine control over the picture and gets good performances out of his cast. The effects work is also quite good, the gore scenes are pretty intense, and the cinematography as creative as it is noticeably polished.

    Stephen Young, who showed up in Soylent Green and Patton, makes for a solid lead. His character is conflicted and that comes across nicely in Young’s believable and sincere performance. He gives a lot here and it comes through in his work, he’s very good. Marvin Goldhar (who provided the voice of Cedric Sneer on the seriously weird Canadian cartoon ‘The Raccoons’ in the eighties and who also appeared in multiple episodes of the fucking Littlest Hobo – because of course he did!) plays his agent well enough, and Sharon Masters (of Bonnie’s Kids – “thank God she only had two!”), in what would seem to be her final performance, is also good here. Also be on the lookout for an appearance from Cindy Hinds from The Brood (and, of course The Littlest Hobo) and Todd Woodcroft of Deadly Eyes (and, seriously, The Littlest Hobo) as Steven Lassey’s kids.

    Deadline – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Deadline to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen taken from a new 2k scan of an archival 35mm print. Taking up just over 26GBs of space on the 50GB disc, there is a bit of jitter noticeable during the opening credits that obviously couldn’t be corrected and some occasional frame specific damage but otherwise, this is a really nice looking picture. There’s very little print damage here at all, just a few white specks now and again. Detail is pretty strong as well, and color reproduction looks very good, especially those reds and greens that are used quite often. No noticeable issues with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts to note – this looks nice and film-like throughout.

    The main audio option on the disc is an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. Overall, the track is clean and nicely balanced, no real issues here at all and it all sounds quite clean and properly balanced, with a reasonable amount of depth noticeable mostly in the film’s use of music. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. An English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is also provided.

    Extras start off with Producing Something Horrific, which is an interview with producer Henry Less that runs just under thirteen-minutes. Here we learn about how he met Mario Azzopardi when they were both working at a commercial film company, how he decided to try and get Deadline moving as a feature, some of the ideas and themes that Azzopardi worked into the film on his own, how they didn’t see eye to eye on post production, selling the film to distributors after premiering it at Cannes and more.

    A second featurette, Embracing The Horror, is an interview with cinematographer Manfred Guthe that clocks in at just over fourteen-minutes. He talks about getting his start doing lighting at the CBC, how he moved into doing camerawork and cinematography, working on some early projects like the classic Cannibal Girls and The Pit and then what it was like working on Deadline, where he talks about what he tried to bring to the movie in a visual sense.

    We also get some nice reversible cover sleeve art, however, and the first 2,000 units purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome get a very nice limited edition, embossed slip cover designed by Earl Kessler Jr.. As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie taken from the same restoration is also included.

    Deadline – The Final Word:

    Deadline is a solid horror picture, one that makes good use of its budget to provide some pretty visceral images alongside a decent, if imperfect, storyline and some solid performances. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds just fine and includes some good extra features as well. Recommended!

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