• Cemetery Of Terror (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: October 27th, 2020.
    Director: Rubén Galindo Jr.
    Cast: Hugo Stiglitz, José Gómez Parcero, René Cardona III, Leo Villanueva, Andrés García Jr.
    Year: 1985
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    Cemetery Of Terror – Movie Review:

    Rubén Galindo Jr.’s directorial debut when a cranky doctor named Cardan (played by the immortal Hugo Stiglitz of Lucio Fulci's Zombie, who at this point in his career was paying the bills by working in Mexico) was entrusted with a crazy bearded patient named Devlon (Jose Gomez Parcero). But Devlon was no ordinary patient, he was a mass murderer having killed his parents and fifteen other people before being shot dead by the local police force. Cardan, upon hearing the news, tried to get the local officials to burn the body, fearing that Devlon was possessed and could potentially rise again to wreak more havoc, but no one listened to him and Devlon was tossed in the morgue, his fate remaining undecided.

    Fast forward a week or two and we've got three medical students who have conned a trio of lovely ladies to accompany them to a creepy old house for a party. They’ve tricked these ladies into believing they'd be hanging out with the 'jet set' and the girls don’t suspect at all that they’re mostly going to be fondled by horny dudes in a dirty old house full of cobwebs. Once they get there, they decide to swipe a body out of the nearby morgue and, surprise surprise, Devlon's corpse is the one they pick. They bring his lifeless body to the cemetery, hold a Satanic ceremony using a weird old book, and voila, Devlon rises from the grave and goes on another killing spree and only Dr. Cardan can stop him.

    A strange sort of cross between John Carpenter's Halloween (what with the unstoppable killing machine and the obsessed doctor on his trail) and Bob Clarke's Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (with the dopey teens, the black mass, and the zombies), Ruben Galindo Jr.'s Cemetery Of Terror is a reasonably well paced horror film with some nice atmosphere, some cool locations, and towards the end of the movie, some nice zombie action. It's also very much a product of the eighties and as such, it's pretty dated, but that simply adds to the fun as the movie is ripe with the sort of garish charm that many of the movies from that decade feature. Look for a kid in a white satin jacket with an airbrushed picture of Michael Jackson on the back and groove on the primitive Casio inspired soundtrack and you'll probably start having flashbacks to the era when Reagan was in the White House and Pac Man was king.

    As to the acting, Stiglitz is fun in the lead role and while he'll never be considered a great actor by any stretch, he does a good job playing the obsessed doctor and seems to have no problem hamming it up when the script requires it. He gets pretty intense towards the end, once he realizes that Devlon really is back and that the lives of these kids are in legitimate danger. The rest of the cast isn’t great, but they all add to the fun of the film in a roundabout sort of way. Famed Mexican director Rene Cardona's grandson, Rene Cardona III, also has a supporting role in the film and is fun to watch. Look for stand out performances from the three girls who get talked into going to the house – they're complete hags, whining and bitching at their boyfriends the entire time and uttering some laughable dialogue along the way.

    Cemetery Of Terror – Blu-ray Review:

    Cemetery Of Terror arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen transfer taking up 27.3GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Presented “newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative,” the picture quality here is very strong. A very big upgrade over the old fullframe DVD release from BCI Eclipse/Deimos Entertainment (which looked fine for its day), the transfer offers excellent depth and detail. Much of the film takes place at night, often times indoors in dimly lit conditions, but shadow detail remains quite strong. The picture is very grainy, given how it was shot, but there’s no real print damage here at all to complain about. The transfer also remains very filmic throughout, never showing any evidence of any noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    Audio is handled by a 24-bit Spanish language DTS-HD 1.0 Mono track that sounds quite good. The track is nicely balanced, the dialogue is clear and there’s pretty decent range here as well. Optional subtitles are provided in English only and a Spanish language Dolby Digital Mono option is also included.

    Extras start off with a commentary track with director Rubén Galindo Jr. that covers how he wound up directing and co-writing the movie, inspiration that made its way into the movie (including Landis’ video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller video), budgetary restraints, locations that were used for the feature and what he and the crew did to get those locations to where they needed to be, the character arcs that some of the characters go on during the duration of the movie, casting the picture and where some of the cast members might be recognizable from, the influence of Jane Fonda on the movie, the gore set pieces, the pacing of the picture, putting together the cemetery sequences, what he learned from making the picture and what he’d change if he had the chance to make the movie and lots more.

    The disc also contains a commentary from the guys at the Hysteria Continues podcast. They talk about the Mexican horror scene of the 1980’s, how much fun the movie is and why, how the picture compares to Grave Robbers, where else the cast and crew members have appeared over the years, the obvious influence of Halloween II, how the killer looks like ‘DEE’ Snider, the importance of René Cardona III’s presence in the movie and the importance of his father and grandfather’s output, how and why Hugo Stiglitz wound up in the movie and the Anglicization of many of his pictures, the film’s connections to Grave Robbers and some of the Santo movies and, yes, the Ali G. projects! They also cover Galindo’s career, Siglitz’s character arc and why he drives as slowly as he does, parallels to Hell Night, the influence of Italian films like those made by Mattie, Lenzi and of course, Fulci and the dangers of twigs! It’s a fun track and quite informative.

    Digging Your Own Grave is an interview with director Rubén Galindo Jr. that lasts for thirty-five-minutes in length. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary track but it’s pretty concise and tight, letting us in on the facts about his stint at UCLA film school, his work in feature films and television, his father’s connections in the film industry and the affect that they had on his career and his studies, why he opted to make a horror film when he did, the importance of the soundtrack, what it was like shooting a feature as a young and inexperienced director, the challenges involved in getting what you see in your mind onto the screen, budgetary restraints and their effect on the movie, the importance of storyboarding at the time, casting the picture, the benefits of having monitors on set, how much fun he had making the movie and plenty more. It’s a very informal and interesting interview with Galindo coming across as a real class act.

    South Of The Border Horror is a ‘video conference’ interview with actor René Cardona III that runs for thirty-six-minutes in length and covers hi's family's influence on his career, getting his start as a child actor and finding success there, getting into sports and athletics and getting into adventure films as a character called Al Coster with his father. He then talks about getting into film school, meeting Ruben Galindo and starting to work with him, getting the role of Oscar in Cemetery Of Terror, how the cinematographer on the film was a 'pain in the neck' despite being very good at his job, what it was like on set and how it was very fun, what the Mexican film industry is like and how everyone shares resources, his own influences both as an actor and as a director, meeting Alejendro Jodorowsky and being around when Santa Sangre was shot, working with John Houston on Bermuda Triangle, getting along with Hugo Stiglitz and quite a bit more. Cardona, cigar in hand, is very animated here and a lot of fun to listen to, a good storyteller.

    We also get some absolutely killer reversible cover sleeve art. The first 3,000 units purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome get a very nice limited edition, matte finish slip cover (designed by Richard Hilliard) with some cool spot varnish embossment on, which is a nice touch.

    Cemetery Of Terror – The Final Word:

    Cemetery Of Terror Is weird enough to work, a movie that relies on genre clichés while at the same time adding its own culturally unique bits and pieces to the story to make it stand out a bit. It’s a fun watch with some stand out set pieces, and Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release not only looks and sounds quite strong but features some solid extra features as well. Recommeneded!

    Click on the images below for full sized Cemetery Of Terror Blu-ray screen caps!