• Pandemonium (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: September 29th, 2020.
    Director: Alfred Sole
    Cast: Candice Azzara, Judge Reinhold, Paul Reubens, Carol Kane, Tom Smothers, Phil Hartman, Tab Hunter
    Year: 1982
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    Pandemonium – Movie Review:

    Alfred Sole’s directorial career is weird. He got his start making a porno movie called Deep Sleep in 1972 before solidifying his status four years later with the excellent horror picture Alice, Sweet Alice. After that? He got sleazy again with 1980’s Tanya’s Island before then gifting the world with the movie we’re going to talk about here, 1982’s Pandemonium, a horror movie send up starring… one of the Smothers’ Brothers?

    The movie begins with a prologue where, in 1963, a group of college cheerleader at ‘It Had To Be U’ was murdered by an assailant whose identity was never confirmed. The school was closed for twenty years until Bambi (Candice Azzara), who was once a student at the school and is now a professional cheerleader, decides to put the past behind her and open the place back up.

    Of course, once the place is back open, the killer comes out of the woodwork and gets back to old tricks. It isn’t long before the killer strikes again and as the bodies start to pile up, Bambi realizes that the only one who can solve the case is a Mountie named Cooper (Tom Smothers), his trusty horse and his grouchy deputy Johnson (Pee-Wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens). Will Cooper crack the case before the killer can get to the ‘final girl, Candy (Carol Kane)?

    If you dig eighties slasher/horror parodies like Wacko and Saturday The 14th, then Pandemonium will be right up your alley as it works on many of the same levels. Alfred Sole throws in loads of horror movie references and plays off of plenty of the genre’s clichés, usually to decent effect, but there’s very much a ‘kitchen sink’ attitude here, meaning that a lot of the gags are just random gags, rather than genre specific skewering. Still, there’s enough here that does work to make this worth checking out. A Godzilla bit is pretty funny and there’s a genuinely funny spot with Eileen Brennan doing her best Piper Laurie/Carrie bit.

    Sole keeps the movie going at a quick enough pace that even when some jokes fall flat – and roughly half of them do – there’s another one right around the corner that might work for you. On top of that, the film really does benefit from a wonderfully quirky cast. Not only do we get Smothers, well-cast as the hero, and Ruebens as well as Cane and Azzara in the lead roles, but we also get bit parts for Judge Reinhold, the late, great Phil Hartman, Tab Hunter, Edie McClurg, Victoria Carroll and even Grease's Michael Tucci! Truly the stars came out for this one.

    Pandemonium – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings the eighty-minute Pandemonium, to Region A Blu-ray “restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive” taking up 23.2GBs of space on the 25GB disc. Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, the transfer looks very nice despite the presence of some small white specks throughout. Detail is really nice, often times quite impressive and the film’s color scheme, which is pretty bright for a horror movie, is reproduced quite nicely. Black levels look good, skin tones are fine and there are no noticeable issues with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or noticeable compression artifacts.

    Audio chores are handled by a 24-bit English language DTS-HD 1.0 Mono track. The audio is clean and clear and nicely balanced, no trouble with any hiss or distortion to note. The track sounds just fine. An alternate Dolby Digital Mono track, in English, is also provided as are English subtitles.

    The main extra feature on the disc is an interview with director Alfred Sole entitled Dying With Laughter. Here, over the span of fifteen-minutes, Sole talks about how he came to meet the film’s two producers after making Alice, Sweet Alice, how he’d never directed comedy before, some of the trickiness of the effects in the movie, the importance of the physical appearance of certain cast members in the film, wanting to get some older stars in the picture, getting along with Reubens and Hartman specifically and plenty more. It’s an interesting look back at the making of the film.

    A promotional still gallery, menus and chapter selection round out the extra features on the disc.

    As to the packaging, Vinegar Syndrome supplies some nice reversible cover sleeve artwork and, if you buy the film directly from their website, with an embossed, spot varnished slipcover designed by Ralph Krause. and limited to 2,500 pieces.

    Pandemonium – The Final Word:

    Pandemonium is a lot of fun, even if it is a bit uneven. Worth seeing just for the oddball cast, it’s paced well and proves to be pretty entertaining. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray looks and sounds really nice and the interview with Sole provides a welcome history of the film. Recommended for fans of genre spoofs and horror comedies.

    Click on the images below for full sized Pandemonium screen caps!

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