• Pale Blood (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 26th, 2019.
    Director: V.V. Dachin Hsu
    Cast: George Chakiris, Wings Hauser, Pamela Ludwig, Diana Frank, Darcy DeMoss
    Year: 1990
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    Pale Blood – Movie Review:

    Pale Blood opens with some cool footage of Los Angeles circa 1990, there’s plenty of neon and just enough sleaze appeal to make it visually interesting. Later on, Sybil Danning walks by. That’s literally all she does, it’s like she was just walking down the street when the movie was being shot and accidently wound up on camera, but it’s her. At any rate, we wind up finding out that a woman has been murdered, her body left in a store’s window display – and that she may have been the victim of a vampire.

    And then we meet a vampire in the form of Michael Fury (a heavily made up George Chakiris, best known for playing Bernardo in West Side Story), having recently arrived from Europe complete with a travelling coffin! At first, we assume he’s a ‘standard vampire’ and that he’s going to skulk about the city of angels and suck the blood from various hotties. To be fair, he does do some of that, but he only drinks what he needs to sustain himself, he’s not so greedy as many of his contemporaries are. When he gets wind that a serial killer is prowling Los Angeles and that the victims of said killer are being found with fang marks on their bodies, he takes it upon himself to play detective and figure out who is really behind the murders, with some help from a vampire-obsessed investigator named Lori (Pamela Ludwig). Meanwhile, a ‘video artist’ named Van Vandameer (Wings Hauser), who specializes in odd erotic/fetish videos (some of which involve a woman cracking an egg in the underside of her knee), runs about acting like a twitchy weirdo, eventually lucking out by getting some footage of Fury at the scene of the crime and figuring out his true identity.

    Featuring some amusingly dated ‘live performances’ from Agent Orange (whose hair is a bit bigger and whose sound a bit lighter here than it was back in 1981 when they put out the genuinely good ‘Living In Darkness’ album), Pale Blood is an enjoyably goofy product of tis time and environment complete with odd plot threads about potential psychic phenomena, slow motion vampire sex scenes, characters that seem to float for no apparent reason and an ending charitably described as wonky. It’s got a bit of nudity and a bit of bloodshed and then there’s that scene with the egg, so it does manage to prove to be pretty entertaining despite some massive logic gaps and rather massive plot holes.

    The performances help quite a bit. George Chakiris, starting to show his age at this point, is pretty decent as the vampire. Yeah, he’s got eighties hair and it’s clear he’s made up in an attempt to make him look younger than he is, but that sort of works for his character, managing to give him an appropriately pasty looking appearance. He’s fine here. Pamela Ludwig isn’t going to win any awards here but she handles the material without any issues and she look good doing it. The real reason to watch the movie, however, is the Wings factor. Nobody does twitchy and crazy quite as effectively as the esteemed Mr. Hauser and takes the opportunity to chew a good bit of scenery here, particularly in the last half of the movie where he gets quite a bit more screen time than in the first. Darcy DeMoss from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives also has a supporting role in the film.

    Pale Blood – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Pale Blood to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s original 1.85.1 aspect ratio taken from a new 2k scan of the film’s original interpositive and taking up just under 28Gbs of space on the 50GB disc. Overall, it looks very good. Some scenes are noticeably grainier than others but as a whole, the image is quite clean and shows very little actual print damage at all. The movie is pretty stylized in terms of the lighting employed, but that never wreaks havoc with detail levels or texture. The transfer is film-like throughout and shows good depth and color reproduction. The image is free of any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts. No problems here at all, really, it looks very nice.

    The only audio option for the feature is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 track, in the film’s native English. Optional English closed captioning is provided. Dialogue is clean and clear and the track is nicely balanced. The score sounds solid enough, and there are no problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance here at all. An English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included.

    Extras start off with a featurette called Understanding Immortality which is an interview with director V.V. Dachin Hsu that runs fifteen-minutes. She describes Pale Blood as ‘one of the gloriest moments of my career as a filmmaker’ and she looks back on it with a ridiculous amount of fondness and infectious enthusiasm. She talks about where her life was at the time and why she changed her name back in the day, her Chinese heritage and how her parents wound up in Hawaii when she went to NYC for school and toured with Yul Brynner before moving to Los Angeles. She then talks about getting into the film scene before then going on to talk about the script for Pale Blood, how she met the producer, working with her ex-husband on the film, what it was like working with the cast and crew, a meeting with John Houston, her thoughts on Hauser’s performance and charisma, and how she feels about the movie looking back on it all these years later.

    A second featurette, the eight-minute Acting With Eggs, is an interview with actress Darcy DeMoss. She talks about getting the role through her agent and how and why the part appealed to her, her thoughts on working with Hsu, auditioning for the part, how it was atypical working for a woman director at the time the movie was made, reuniting with the film’s cinematographer on a recent project, acting alongside Wings Hauser and how he had directed her earlier in a film called Cold Fire, her ‘six degrees of separation’ from Chakiris, and of course, the weird scene with the egg. She also voices her appreciation for the look and the tone of the movie and how much she really enjoyed working on the film.

    Aside from that, we get menus and chapter selection options.

    As far as the packaging aspect goes, we 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.

    Pale Blood – The Final Word:

    As dated and goofy as it might be, Pale Blood is a pretty entertaining vampire picture made all the better by Wings Hauser’s performance. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds really nice and it contains a couple of interesting featurettes that document its history.

    Click on the images below for full-sized Pale Blood screen caps!