• Rest In Pieces (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: October 27th, 2010.
    Director: José Ramón Larraz
    Cast: Scott Thompson Baker, Lorin Jean Vail, Dorothy Malone, Jack Taylor, Patty Shepard
    Year: 1987
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    Rest In Pieces – Movie Review:

    Like Edge Of The Axe and Deadly Manor, Spanish filmmaker José Ramón Larraz made 1987’s Rest In Pieces for what was then a booming home video market in the United States. As such, it was made faster and for less money than some of his better regarded classics like The Coming Of Sin, Vampyres or Symptoms. As such, it’d be downright foolish to go into this one expecting anything on that level, but if you’re looking for the kind of cheap entertainment that doesn’t ask much of its audience, this’ll fit the bill nicely.

    Story? Well, after a hokey opening montage of a couple doing the kind of mundane things that couples sometimes do, the corpse of recently deceased Catherine Boyle (Dorothy Malone) bolts upright and gives everyone a good jump. The morgue tech notes that this type of thing happens all the time, and her corpse is then cremated, leaving her niece Helen (Lorin Jean Vail) and her husband, Bob (Scott Thompson Baker – not to be confused with regular Scott Thompson), set to rake in a hefty inheritance. After a viewing of Catherine’s videotape will and suicide, the couple moves on in to Eight Manors, the dearly departed’s one time abode, named because it’s made up of eight homes, six of which are inhabited by some of Catharine’s aged friends.

    It isn’t long before Helen realizes she and Bob have moved into a haunted house. Cars in the garage turn over their engines on their own and try to kill her, weird things happen in the bathroom and that old piano keeps playing music when no one is around to be tinkling on its ivories. Helen wants to get out while they still can but Bob figures there’s a bunch of money hidden somewhere in the old house and he intends for them to find it. And if that weren’t enough? The neighbors are up to something…

    Rest In Pieces is a bit of a mess, in terms of its plot and its structure, but it isn’t without its own sense of kooky charm. This definitely lacks both the style and the substance of the work that the director was putting out in his prime years, but if you’re in a less demanding state of mind and don’t necessarily need your narrative to be carefully plotted or your characters to do things that make sense all the time, you’ll be fine with this quirky piece of late-eighties horror hokum.

    Lorin Jean Vail and future soap opera star Scott Thompson Baker are fine as the two leads. Their characters aren’t particularly deep but they make the most of them and deliver perfectly fine performances. Dorothy Malone, who won an Oscar for 1956’s Douglas Sirk picture Written On The Wind, is a lot of fun to watch here in what would be her second last feature film appearance (the final one being none other than Basic Instinct!) and hey, check out supporting parts for Jack Taylor (playing a blind musician) and Patty Shephard, playing a woman named Gertrude, both of whom will be more than familiar to fans of Eurocult cinema.

    If this isn’t as slick and stylish as the director’s more interesting pictures, the cinematography from John Tharp and Manual Rojas is pretty solid and Greg De Belles’s score gets the job done pretty nicely. Larraz keeps things moving at a good pace and throws in a bit of gore at the end that is a nice touch. Not an essential picture, but one worth seeing for those with an interest in the director’s later output. Also, boobs.

    Rest In Pieces – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Rest In Pieces to Blu-ray ‘newly scanned and restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative’ on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up just over 26.7GBs of space and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. It’s a nice transfer that features good detail and depth. Colors are nicely reproduced, black levels look good, and there aren’t any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement to gripe over. Compression artifacts are held firmly in check and the image always retains a nice, filmic quality.

    A 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is the main audio option on the disc, although a Spanish language track is offered in Dolby Digital 2.0. Optional subtitles are provided in English only and a superfluous English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also included. The English lossless track is the way to go here and it sounds fine. It’s properly balanced and free of any hiss or distortion, presenting the score with some decent range.

    Extras start off with a commentary from Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger who talk about the dated eighties aspect of the opening montage, how you can always tell when Spanish and Italian films are trying to pass themselves off as American films and how this applies to a few of Larraz's other movies, how and why Dorothy Malone of all people wound up in this movie, some of the themes that appear here and in other Larraz pictures, Larraz's work in the comic book industry, the influence of A Nightmare On Elm Street, pseudonyms that were used on the picture, Larraz's affinity for profanity, similarities to Jean Rollin's Fascination, the way that Spanish films are looked down upon by the horror community (not sure this is really true, but I digress), the importance of context when watching Larraz's pictures from this period, the film's unusual ending and more.

    After that we get a seventeen-minute an interview with actor Scott Thompson Baker entitled Piece By Piece who speaks about getting into acting in university after being coerced into trying out for a musical, making the move to Los Angeles due to a win on Star Search and getting the offer to work on this picture from his manager. He notes that he took the gig because he wanted to go to Spain, getting along with two English sound engineers who he worked with to get the name of the film changed from 'Rest In Peace' to 'Rest In Pieces,' what it was like working with Larraz who he speaks quite kindly of, what it was like on set with a bunch of Spanish and English cast and crew members, getting along with his fellow cast members and plenty more.

    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 with some cool spot varnish embossment on, which is a nice touch.

    Rest In Pieces – The Final Word:

    Rest In Pieces might not work for those expecting top-tier Larraz but if you’ve got a soft spot for goofy eighties horror pictures and don’t mind things like logic gaps and questionable characterizations, you can have a lot of fun with it. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release is a strong one, offering up the feature in an really nice presentation and with some extras that document its history.

    Click on the images below for full sized Rest In Pieces Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      Also, boobs. Now THAT should be a quote on the box!!