• Alley Cat (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 29th, 2021.
    Director: Victor M. Ordonez, Ed Palmos, Al Valletta
    Cast: Karin Mani, Robert Torti, Britt Helfer, Michael Wayne, Jon Greene
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Alley Cat – Movie Review:

    Made in 1984 for Film Ventures International, Alley Cat stars the unusually attractive Karin Mani as a tough young woman named Billie. When the movie starts, some thugs are outside in the middle of the night stealing hubcaps off of a car parked in the driveway. She runs outside and makes short work of them and we’re off. Billie is not a woman to be messed with. She has a sizeable collection of tracksuits at her disposal and some awkward looking martial arts skills to back things up.

    From here we see a gang of thugs, led by a guy named Scarface (Michael Wayne), stalk an old couple. They follow them in their car and then rob them, the old lady dead of a knife wound. It turns out that these were Billie’s grandparents and while Gramps is still kicking, she intends to get revenge, but not before opening a door in the hospital and busting the nose of cute rookie cop Johnny (Robert Torti). Of course, they hit it off and fall for each other quickly, but their love will not come easy. See, Johnny’s got to enforce the law whereas Billie doesn’t mind breaking it in the name of true justice. When she’s out jogging one night and stops two Hamm’s Beer swilling perverts from raping a chick, she winds up sent to jail for possession of an unlicensed handgun. And while she may be making friends behind bars, vengeance is still very much on her mind. Once she’s out of the big house, thanks to Johnny’s connections, it’s back to work as she tracks down the bad dudes who offed her grandmother with every intention of making them pay…

    Fast paced and fairly sleazy, Alley Cat works on the same level as similar films like Savage Streets. Billie doesn’t get a whole lot of character development here, she finds her family victimized and then sets out to set things right and maybe help a few others along the way. The victims in the movie are pretty much entirely female and outside of Johnny and Gramps, the men in the movie are scumbags – even the judge and a few of the other cops on the force. With that said, it’s tough to see the movie as any sort of serious feminist statement when Mani is naked and flaunting her jugs and most of the other female cast members (including a hooker played by Britt Helfer and most of the prisoners Billie finds herself locked up also spend some time in the buff.

    Performance wise, Mani doesn’t have a whole lot of range, in fact she’s a bit wooden, but she’s cool looking, she’s got a very distinctive face and a decent enough screen presence. She handles herself in the fight scenes with confidence even if she isn’t the most graceful martial artist to ever light up the silver screen. Torti is fine as the love interest, the noble cop out to help his lady friend when he can while Michael Wayne makes for a pretty decent main bad guy. Nobody is going to take home any awards here but they do fine with the material. The movie also offers up some nice mid-eighties Los Angeles location footage, giving us a guided tour of a few seedy spots and showing off a few sleazy sights along the way. Throw in a wonderfully dated score and some funky use of color and Alley Cat winds up a pretty bad ass movie, a very entertaining mix of B-grade action and flat out trashy exploitation.

    Alley Cat – Blu-ray Review:

    Alley Cat arrives on region A Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 on a 25GB disc with the feature taking up 22.4GBs of space. Taken from a new 4k master of the original negative, the transfer looks great. There’s virtually no print damage here at all, the image is very clean, but it retains the expected amount of natural film grain you’d expect it to. Colors are nicely defined and detail is typically quite strong throughout. There are no noticeable issues with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts. All in all, the picture quality here is pretty impressive.

    Audio chores are handled by a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks English with optional subtitles provided in English only. The track sounds pretty clean. Levels are balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. An optional Dolby Digital 2.0 track, also in English, is also found on the disc.

    The first extra on the disc is an interview with co-director Al Valletta entitled Walking The Alley. Here, over thirteen-minutes, he talks about his work as an acting coach and how he started on Alley Cat as dialogue coach. He then talks about how connecting with the film’s producer, landing him work on the picture. He notes that most of the actors didn't have any actual martial arts experience but that Mani did, how he assisted with camera placement a few times and worked extensively with the actors, which is how he wound up with a director credit (which he wasn't expecting!). He then finishes up by talking about his thoughts on the movie, how it is a product of its time, how martial arts films have evolved since this one was made, how he got into acting work and learned the business of it and more.

    We Hustled gets actor Robert Torti in front of the camera for fourteen-minutes. He talks about how a high school teacher wound up executive producing the movie which led to him getting the role in the film. He talks about the different characters in the movie, getting along with Ordonez and Palmos, how he got his first break in the acting business, getting along with Karin Mani, injuries that happened on set, filming the love scenes, shooting some of the action scenes he was involved with, sets and locations that were used during the production and more.

    A theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    This release also comes with a poster folded up inside the Blu-ray case as well as some reversible cover sleeve art.

    Alley Cat - The Final Word:

    Alley Cat isn’t the most original film but it is a lot of good, trashy fun. There’s plenty of action, nudity and chaos and Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release, which is limited to 6,000 copies, presents it in an excellent high definition presentation and with some nice extras as well. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Alley Cat Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Spaghetti Monkey's Avatar
      Spaghetti Monkey -
      Nice, i never did pick up the Scorpion DVD, but i did catch a rough print on Prime. Definitely picking this up.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      This one of my favorites. Thrilled to have it in HD.