• The Immortalizer (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: June 30th, 2020.
    Director: Joel Bender
    Cast: Ron Ray, Chris Crone, Clarke Lindsley, Melody Patterson, Steve Jamieson
    Year: 1989
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    The Immortalizer – Movie Review:

    “If you’ve been thinking about plastic surgery, Dr Devine would like to change your mind.”

    Directed by Joel Bender, the man who gave us Gas Pump Girls among others, 1989’s The Immortalizer beings when a guy named Gregg (Chris Cone), his brother and their two gal pals are out for a night on the town. It starts off well enough but soon, everyone winds up getting kidnapped by a madman we come to learn is one Dr. Divine (Ron Ray). Why is a doctor out prowling the streets of Los Angeles kidnapping young adults minding their own business and shuffling them off to a clinic in the countryside? Because he’s got a bit of a side hustle going wherein he transplants the brains of rich old people into the bodies of healthy young people, therefore prolonging the lives of the old rich people, obviously at the expense of the health young people. But Divine cares not for social politics of the struggles of the working class!

    Gregg manages to escape from the bad doctor’s sinister clutches but when he goes to the cops to tell them what he’s learned, they brush off his ramblings and toss him in jail for the night. As such, when released the next day, Gregg, with the clock ticking ever faster, has to figure out a way to get back in to the clinic and save his friends before it’s too late. Unfortunately for Divine, the serum that he’s concocted sometimes results in side effects, the worse of which being turning his subjects into giant monster zombie-like things. Meanwhile, Divine's nurse, Blaine (Melody Patterson), is screwing around with one of his associate while Divine himself starts to fall for one of his recent abductees, whose body the aging Blaine has her eye on for herself.

    There’s a lot of flaws in the logic applied to this film and some pretty massive plot holes, but if you can look past that this is a passably entertaining mix of horror and comedy. The script has some genuinely clever lines in it, most of which are delivered with genuine gusto by Ron Ray, who seems to be having a seriously good time hamming it up in the lead. Chris Cone, who doesn’t appear to have done anything aside from this picture, is merely okay in the lead but Ray is amusing to watch here. Melody Patterson, who had a regular starring role on TV’s F-Troop and who also starred in Blood And Lace, makes the most of her screen time here and steals pretty much every scene that she’s in, while the rest of the cast are fairly forgettable.

    Made on a modest budget, the makeup effects on the monster zombie hulk things is decent enough. Not perfect, but decent enough. The film would have benefited from some more over the top gore than we get, as it feels cartoonish in nature at times but never gets to be as cartoonish as maybe it needed to be in order to have really worked. Still, it’s pace well and

    The Immortalizer – Blu-ray Review:

    The Immortalizer debuts on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up just over 28GBs of space. Taken from a new 2k scan of the original 35mm interpositive and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, it’s hard to complain about the picture quality here. The colors look great and the image is nice and clean and rich in detail and texture. Skin tones look lifelike and accurate and the transfer is film-like throughout, showing no digital trickery at all and retaining the expected amount of natural looking film grain.

    The 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track sounds really good. Levels are balanced and dialogue is clear. The synth-heavy score pierces when you want it to, complementing things nicely and some of the higher notes really ringing in quite succinctly. No problems with any hiss or distortion here to note. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Making a Crazy Movie is an interview with director Joel Bender that clocks in at eight-minutes and starts with Bender talking about his education and about briefly working for none other than Otto Preminger when he was younger after writing him a letter! He then talks about partnering with David Davies and making The Gas Pump Girls, moving from New York to California and the differences between the film scenes in two states, his thoughts on the initial script for The Immortalizer and how he thought it was a comedy not a horror picture, taking over the locations used in the shoot, working with the cast and crew on the picture and more.

    Up next, in A Philosophy of Light, we get an interview with cinematographer Alan Caso that lasts for just over ten-minutes. He talks about how he didn’t have a philosophy regarding lighting when he first started but how he developed it once he started shooting, but when he made the feature he wasn’t there yet. He then credits Bender for wanting the film to ‘feel like it was in the middle of the day time’ and how it was helpful as a fledgling cinematographer at the time to work on a film like this with that attitude. He then talks about what it was like on set, having to shoot a certain amount of scenes each day on a low budget, some of the problems that they ran into on set during the shoot, how much fun he had working with Bender, working with him again a year later on Midnight Kiss and saving a kitten during the shoot, how fun the movie is overall and his thoughts on horror films.

    Aside from that, the disc also includes a promotional still gallery, menus and chapter selection and it comes packaged with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    The Immortalizer – The Final Word:

    The Immortalizer never quiet takes off the way that you want it to but it is a fun time killer if you’re in the mood for a low budget horror-comedy. Bender paces the film pretty quickly and it has a campy vibe to it that is marginally infectious. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release contains a pair of interesting interviews and gives the film a very nice high definition debut.

    Click on the images below for full-sized The Immortalizer screen caps!