• Whodunit? (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: October 27th, 2020.
    Director: William T. Naud
    Cast: Marie-Alise Recasner, Rick Dean, Ron Gardner, Terence Goodman, Richard Helm
    Year: 1982
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    Whodunit? – Movie Review:

    Also known as Island Of Blood, director William T. Naud’s 1982 picture Whodunit? opens poolside at a big old house where a lovely young woman decides to take a moon night swim, only to be murdered by an unseen assailant, her corpse sent off to a water grave. From here, we meet a group of would-be actors and musicians - Lyn (Jeanine Marie), Rick (Richard Helm), B.J. (Bari Suber), John (Jim Piper), Donna (Marie-Alise Recasner), Phil (Steven Tash), Taylor (G. Rockett Phillips) and last but not least, Jim (Rick Dean). They’ve all gathered together to head off to an island in the middle of nowhere to work on a film together.

    Of course, this being a horror movie and all, it isn’t long (though it is longer than it should be, this being a horror movie and all) before an unseen assailant starts picking them off one at a time. This sets Steve (Terence Goodman), the film’s producer, into a tizzy not because he cares about their lives but because he’s worried he’ll lose his shirt. Meanwhile, the film’s director, the aptly named Franklin Phlegm (Ron Gardner), keeps having to revise the film’s script to adapt to the fact that his cast keeps getting smaller and smaller. Could all of this have something to do with an aged widow’s will and a wonky real estate scam? Yeah, it could, but it could also have something to do with the lyrics to a really bad song that’s used throughout the movie.

    Clearly inspired by Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, this film has some pacing problems, but does manage to pull things together towards the end of its running time thanks to a pretty strong finish. Is it enough to make up for what came before? Well, we do get a couple of moderately interesting murder set pieces here and there, but honestly, not a lot happens here and while there are definitely moments that place this picture into slasher film territory, those expecting something more in line with the slice and dice pictures that horrordom’s bastard subgenre is so notorious for will likely be left disappointed in that regard.

    Production values are okay. Not great, not bad, just okay. The cinematography is fine, the locations work well enough and the occasional gore effect is handled nicely enough. The cast are nothing to write home about, no one really stands out here as impressively good or amusingly bad, they’re just there. Marie-Alise Recasner went on to do a lot of soap opera work, and oddly enough Terence Goodman had a recurring role on Days Of Our Lives for a couple of years. Michael Stroka was a regular on Dark Shadows and Jimmy Williams, who plays a cop in the film, showed up in the best movie ever, Road To Revenge (aka Geteven), though he did not do the shimmy or the slide. But still, that definitely counts for something.

    Whodunit? – Blu-ray Review:

    Whodunit? arrives on region free Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome from a new 4k restoration of the original 35mm negative on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up 24.6GBs of space. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer, framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, looks excellent. It’s a naturally grainy image, but that just means that it looks like film, as it should. There’s virtually no print damage here at all and detail, depth and texture are always nice and strong. We also get great color reproduction and strong black levels, with no noticeable noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts to gripe about. All in all, the movie looks great on Blu-ray.

    Audio for the feature is handled by an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, with optional subtitles offered in English only. The audio quality is just fine for a low budget film from the eighties. The track is balanced well, and the dialogue is always clean and easy to follow. There’s a bit of depth to the score that you might not expect, and the track is, thankfully, free of any hiss, distortion of sibilance. An optional Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is also included on the disc.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring the cast of the popular slasher movie podcast, The Hysteria Continues!, which, like most of their other tracks, is an entertaining listen. They cover the origins of the movie, offer up plenty of observations about what works in the picture as well as what doesn’t, and provide details on the film’s history. It’s a very listenable track, quite conversational in tone, that offers up a good amount of critical analysis alongside the facts and trivia, and it does so with occasional doses of welcome humor without ever coming across like they’re taking the material less seriously then they should be.

    The first of the four featurettes on the disc is the fourteen-minute Blood & Sweaters, which is an interview with actor Terence Goodman that goes over his experiences taking direction from Bill Naud, the locations that were used to stand in for the 'island' where the film takes place, his thoughts on the movie itself and how he got along with some of his fellow cast members.

    Dying for the Opportunity is a new thirteen-minute interview with actor Jim Piper that covers the director's original idea for paying his actors in promo reel clips, the trials and tribulations of working on a very low budget picture that didn't have the money it really needed and how, since wrapping this picture, he's gone on to do a lot of voice work.

    Containing the Excitement interview actress Marie-Alise Recasner for thirty-five-minutes about how she wound up landing her part in this film, her background in doing live theater and the differences between acting for the stage and the screen, memories of Naud in addition to some amusing stories about working with him, her thoughts on the film overall and more.

    Last but not least, Cutting A Long Story Short is an interview with editor Hari Ryatt that runs thirty-eight-minutes and offers up details on how he wound up in Los Angeles after growing up in England, having to spend a lot of time cutting the movie with Naud in his garage, how his work here led to doing jobs for Cannon and other production companies, eventually getting into the unionized side of the business, going on to start his own company and a lot more.

    Rounding out the extra are the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    We also get some nice 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.

    Whodunit? – The Final Word:

    Whodunit? is pretty bland but those who enjoy the film will no doubt be impressed by Vinegar Syndrome’s excellent presentation and the impressive selection of extra features that have been assembled for this release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Whodunit? Blu-ray screen caps!