S - Z
info: Based on the play by Oscar Wilde, this is the story of the beheading of John the Baptist. The movie takes place at a dinner party by Herod Antipas in which he offers his step daughter, Salome, anything she wants. He is obviously lusting over her and will grant her anything. She wants the head of the prophet in prison (John the Baptist, though a different name is used during the intertitles). The movie is definitely more an art film rather than a normal narrative. This version of the movie runs only 42 minutes compared to it's normal 72 minute run time. Some things I noticed were different intertiles, scenes shortened and some shots missing. That being said, it is still comprehensive in this shorten form.
video: Zoomed in a bit and damage galore. Contrast out of whack on scenes. That being said, it's quite watchable. C+
audio: The audio that is presented sounds fine though not really suitable for the movie. But at least it's not distracting. B-
extras: Not related to the movie itself but the disc does feature two short films: "History Brought to Life" from 1950 and "Let's Go to the Movies" from 1949.
overall: Considered one of, if not the first art film, I highly recommend checking this out!
name: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
company: Movie Classics (Genesis)
info: One of the most bizarre Christmas movies I have ever seen. I remember when I first saw this on a local TV station and was just amazed at what I was watching! Despite it's crazy story, it's actually a good holiday film that the whole family can enjoy. The children on Mars are sad from watching TV shows from Earth, of which Santa Claus was featured. So the Martians highjack Santa and bring him to Mars to cheer up the children.
video: Looks the same as the TV broadcast I saw years ago. The print has all kinds of dirt and specks and the image is rather soft. C+
audio: Audio comes through pretty well. B+
extras: Nothing, not even a menu.
overall: This disc retails for a dollar and is worth picking up.
name: Savage Weekend
company: Mill Creek
info: A business man takes his wife and some friends to a vacation home for some relaxation. Unfortunately, a masked killer is stalking them. This 1976 slasher doesn't have a very high body count, it's quite low actually and aren't very gory. It could easily pass for PG-13 these days. It does feature quite a bit of nudity and the mask the killer wears is quite...unique.
video: Print is full of dirt and contrast is uneven in some areas. Also for whatever reason, the movie switches from full frame (open matte) to a matted 1.85 image. It's full frame for 95% of the movie, but there are times it switches to the matted format. Quite odd, but I wish it would have stayed in a matte format as the damn boom mic makes an appearance quite a few times at the top of the full frame image. The Mill Creek watermark also makes a few appearances in the movie. C-
audio: I had a hard time hearing some of the audio. Sort of muffled at times. C-
extras: Nothing relating to the film, but it is part of Mill Creek's "Drive-in Movie Classics" 50 pack.
overall: An ok slasher. The 50 pack is highly recommended though.
name: The Screaming Skull
info: Part of the 10 movie pack "The Dead Walk." The producers of the film offered free burial services to those who die of fright from this film. Maybe they should have offered their services to those who died of boredom from watching this stinker.
video: Looks like shit. Contrast appears to be too high. Soft image, lacks details. D+
audio: Brentwood presented this in a fake 5.1, and it has an "echo-y" type of effect to the audio (I hated it when Brentwood started to do this). Audio itself is too loud and everyone sounds muffled. D
extras: Includes an episode of "The Veil", which is spread throughout the 10 movie set.
overall: Shitty V/A for this PD film. Oddly enough, the quality on this disc is actually BETTER than my AMC Monsterfest DVD! (Remember those horrible discs!?!)
name: Shanty Tramp
info: A night involving the local tramp, Emily. She seduces a traveling preacher, then a biker and a local black man named Daniel. When her father walks in on Emily and Daniel, she cries rape and her father gathers a posse to kill Daniel. As far as plot, that's about it. lol However, the film is filled with stereotypes from the greedy preacher, drunk father, bad ass bikers, southern blacks, moonshiners, etc... Southern exploitation at it's finest.
video: Print source. Lots of scratches and some jumps. My main beef is with the white and black levels. At times, the image can be too dark and while other times, the white levels seem a bit too high. However, when the balance is correct, it looks pretty good. C+
audio: At the beginning, there quite a few sound track jumps. Fortunately it clears up after a few minutes. The audio was fine to hear but there was some noticeable hiss during certain scenes. The audio at times appears out of sync, but I think it may have been a post-production rush job such as a quick overdub. You'll see some people's lips move for a few seconds longer than what is actually heard. B-
extras: Includes a second film "Common Law Wife" (also reviewed on this site) as well as a striptease titled "Alice from Dallas."
overall: You can't go wrong picking this up!
name: Slaughter High
info: Another 80s slasher! Poor Marty is the subject of cruelty from his class mates. One joke goes too far and puts Marty into the hospital due to multiple burns. Flash forward to years later, these same class mates get invited to a class reunion. Once they arrive at the school, their party turns into a slaughter! Typical 80s slasher full of boobs and blood! Gotta love it!!! Film is presented in it's uncut form.
video: From a video master, presented in full frame ratio. The image gets dark at times to a point it gets hard to see. Despite the flaws, it's an enjoyable ride! C
audio: Better than the video, but that's not saying much. B-
extras: Part of the 8 film Lionsgate Horror Collection 2.
overall: Great slasher, shitty presentation. However, the collection is well worth the $5 as it features other good films!
name: Slave of the Cannibal God
info: Your run of the mill Italian cannibal flick, this one starring Ursula Andress. This is the R rated version.
video: Looks to be a laserdisc port. Presented in letterbox widescreen, its quite good. B+
audio: Gets the job done B+
extras: This is part of the 4 movie collection "Flesh Feast" which also features the movies "The Severed Arm", "I Eat Your Skin" and "The Undertaker and his Pals."
overall: For an impulse buy, this collection is well worth it. Not sure if you can even find it anymore. As for the actual movie, I recommend picking up the Blue Underground (or Anchor Bay) DVD titled "Mountain of the Cannibal God" which features the movie in it's uncut form.
name: The Strangler of Blackmoor Castle
info: A killer is stalking the grounds of Blackmoor Castle, demanding the return of stolen diamonds. Intriguing mystery movie from Germany.
video: Video source full frame and it looks pretty good. Too bad a widescreen version wasn't available. B
audio: A little bit muffled here and there, but otherwise pretty decent. English dub is quite good. B-
extras: Alpha catalogue.
overall: Decent DVD presentation of this mystery film.
name: Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936)
info: First film adaptation of the ST story. I saw the recent Tim Burton film before this one, and there are quite a few differences. First off, this is a straight forward film, not a musical. The story is very different but the main idea is still the same, and that is Sweeney Todd kills his victims and his partner, Mrs. Lovett cooks them into her pies. The portrayal of Todd in this 1936 film has him as a very slimy, creepy character. Right off the bat, you know this guy is up to no good thanks to a great performance by Tod Slaughter! Todd kills not for revenge, but rather out of greed. He's basically a thief. His relationship to Mrs. Lovett is not as a lover or mate, but rather strictly business. He kills the victims via his "trap door / chair" (no actual throat slashing) and Mrs. Lovett uses the bodies for her pies, both splitting the loot. The use of the dead for her pies is never shown, but is hinted at throughout the film. I enjoyed this version quite a bit and definitely recommend checking it out.
video: Scratches galore. That being said, it doesn't look half bad considering the age. This looks to be a VHS transfer since it has that "video noise" towards the bottom of the video. B-
audio: Here's where the problem lies with the presentation. First off, a LOT of hiss. However, it seems that either Alpha, or whomever had the print originally, decided to sort of clean up the hiss by removing it during silent portions. This creates a very distracting sound. Whenever someone talks, or music is played, you hear the hiss, then everything becomes quiet when nothing is being said. Personally I would rather it just have the constant hiss. The soundtrack also has a lot of pops and snaps, and the actors dialog seems to be a bit loud and muffled. You'll need to turn up the volume to fully understand what's being said. D
extras: Some coming attractions for Alpha's New Cinema line.
overall: Very entertaining film! Too bad the audio isn't better.
name: Tales of Tomorrow: Frankenstein
company: Pacific Entertainment
info: An episode from the "Tales of Tomorrow" TV show. This episode features Lon Chaney Jr as the Monster in a 25 minute retelling of the Frankenstein story. The monster is up and running within minutes of the show and the action doesn't stop until the end. I found the episode to be a bit bizarre as Chaney seemed to act strange. Looking this up on IMDB, there was trivia that stated Chaney arrived drunk on set during shooting of this episode. Classic!
video: This episode is crammed onto one side of a DVD with other movies and TV episodes. The resolution is 352x240. The episode is sourced from a VHS tape and the picture is quite soft. When I watched this on my LCD TV, it seemed to display the episode ok. Taken into consideration the source, it seemed to emulate that fine. But when I went to do a screen capture on my PC, the quality seemed much worse. Perhaps the fact I sit about 10 feet back from my TV helped disguise the bad encode...? I'm going to base my grade on my TV viewing experience rather than how it displayed on my PC. C-
audio: I didn't have a problem hearing the dialogue and sounded fine for the most part. B-
extras: Part of a 25 movie collection. Well technically, they're not all movies as there are TV episodes, some are from the "Tales of Tomorrow" series.
overall: I found this collection for $5 at K-mart and at that price, it's worth checking out. Doing a quick glance at some of the other movies on the set, the encode seems to be the biggest problem as they tried to cram so much shit onto two dual sided DVDs.
name: Test Tube Babies
info: A young couple's relationship has become boring, so they decide to have a family. Not succeeding, the couple goes to a doctor to find out if there is anything wrong, and sure enough, the man is sterile. The doctor brings up the procedure of artificial insemination for the couple. This being a '40s exploitation flick, there is nudity thrown in whenever they can get away with it, even one scene involving a fight between two women at a party the young wife is hosting.
video: Looks to be VHS sourced. That being said, the same problems with VHS transfers are present here including a very soft picture. Contrast is all over the place with some scenes being dark while others too bright. Also, there is some print damage in the middle of the screen at times. Alpha has included a watermark with their logo at the beginning and end of the movie. C-
audio: Sounds loud and clear. Constant hiss is present and the audio does cut up at times, but not too bad overall. C+
extras: Includes a second feature titled "Hell is a place called Hollywood." The V/A quality of this 20 minute short is much better than the feature film!
overall: If you dig these old exploitation flicks, check it out. On a side note, this is also included on Mill Creek's Cult Classics set. From comparing the two versions, it seems Mill Creek took their print from the same source as Alpha. And just like Alpha, Mill creek put a watermark on the film as well, and there watermark is a bit more annoying than Alphas.
name: This Nude World
info: A 1933 "documentary" on the lives of nudists. I guess people back then thought nudists were aliens or something? The "documentary" starts out in a camp in the US, then heads to France and ends in Germany, showing the different aspects of various nudist camps. But what it really boils down to is a lot of naked people doing exercises and various outdoor sporting events. Nudists are apparently very athletic!
video: Appears to be film sourced, but like most low budget films from this era, it's riddled with damage and other imperfections. Contrast gets a bit whacky at times, but overall, the picture was very easy to make out. I would like to point out that during transitions of footage, there is a bit of slow down. It's not a defect of the DVD as the audio still plays fine, but rather the source material. I've never seen this type of fading out method so it stuck out. C+
audio: Just narration and can be heard just fine. B
extras: Alpha propaganda, but no movie related extras.
overall: Nudist films are more a time capsule than entertaining and this "documentary" is no exception. If you're a fan of the genre, there are much better films out there.
name: Too Hot to Handle
info: Burlesque show from 1950 featuring dancing, singing and comedic sketches. My favorite dancer among the girls would be Dixie Evans!! :) The song "Hot Nuts" sung by Jean Carter was quite catchy.
video: Not too bad, some vertical lines pop up and stay for awhile. Not too much dirt on the print. B-
audio: Sounds pretty good! B+
overall: Interesting time capsule from 1950.
name: Ultraman II
info: DVD is not a movie, but rather the first four episodes of the 1979 anime series "The Ultraman."
video: VHS transfer and it's pretty good. B
audio: English dub track provided in PCM stereo. Sounds decent. B-
overall: Ultraman releases are quite rare here in North America, which is very unfortunate. I recommend fans pick this release up, but it would be nice if a company would get the rights to release the entire series of this anime, or any other Ultraman series for that matter!
info: Rae Lane has a crush on her boss, Robert (whom appears to be a hypochondriac). Robert is given advice to head out to a nudist camp to cure his illness. Rae Lane follows him out there in hopes of developing a relationship with him. Things go quite well until Barbara shows up and stills away Robert's affection. The movie ends on a very tragic note, quite unusual for a nudist film! The film also touches on various issues in regards to Rae and definitely adds a bit more realism to this nudist film than you typically see in this genre. On the flip side, there is a few sing a longs as well as a ventriloquist act! LOL And yes, the dummy is nude as well.
video: Scratches and dirt galore! After awhile, you get used to it, but there is quite a bit. Also, image is quite soft and contrast does get a bit high at times. It's still quite watch-able though. C+
audio: Sound comes through clear enough, but there is a constant hiss throughout. B-
extras: Typical Alpha propaganda
Overall: This nudist film (released in 1938) adds a few different twists not normally seen in these films. I liked it!
name: Vampire Happening
info: Euro vampire flick with some humor mixed in to make an entertaining, yet odd film.
video: Taken from a VHS tape, the print looks pretty bad. Colors are dull, no sharpness at all. C-
audio: As with most VHS transfers, there is hiss to the audio. B-
overall: Despite the bad V/A presentation, I recommend picking up the disc to check out this film. There may be a better edition out there, but I do not know of one.
Name: The Violent Years
info: A group of 4 spoiled teenage girls decides to get their kicks by robbing banks and people, committing vandalism, raping a man (that's right), murder, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and listening to jazz music....yes, all signs of juvenile delinquency!! This film sets out to warn everyone of such dangers (sure...). Screenplay by the one and only Edward D. Wood, Jr. At times, the dialogue does have some "Woodisms" that fans will get a chuckle out of (a scene between a doctor and a cop got me rolling). This film runs just under a hour and never gets boring. I really enjoyed it.
video: Besides the usual print defects (vertical lines, dirt, slight damage here and there), it looks pretty good. My major complaint would be that sometimes the white levels are a bit too bright. Considering this is a low budget film from 1956, it looks decent. B-
audio: The soundtrack is loud, and at times a bit too loud. There are some defects on the soundtrack that sound like a mic drop (sorry, I don't know the technical term, but it usually occurs during switching of scenes) and some pops occur as well. It gets the job done. C+
overall: I had a lot of fun with this. If you dig juvenile delinquency films, give this a try. Ed Wood fans will want to check it out considering he wrote the screenplay and it does have an "Ed Wood" feel to it.
title: Virgin Sacrifice
info: Samson heads to the jungle to round up animals for a circus. When he arrives, he finds an associate of his murdered. Apparently his associate tried to capture the sacred tiger of the jungle and was killed by the local natives. Samson came across this tiger before knowing this information and had killed it in self defense. This pisses off the natives who now must do a virgin sacrifice to appease the spirits of their ancestors.
video: Not too bad, some specks here and there. Looks like 16MM sourced. The image is kind of soft and the compression isn't that great, but that tends to be an Alpha trademark. B-
audio: Flat, but otherwise fine. B
extras: Typical Alpha propaganda.
overall: While the movie is short (64 minutes), it does drag in certain points and could have easily been edited down to under 50 minutes without missing a beat. Not as sleazy as the cover art implies either, which was a bit disappointing. However, it's not a bad way to waste a hour.
title: The Wasp Woman
company: AMC / Genius
info: The owner of a cosmetics company ingests youth inducing serum, eventually turning her into the.....WASP WOMAN!! It's a decent, short (66 minutes) b-movie courtesy of Roger Corman.
video: The video contrast appears to be a bit high, and the movie has a green tint to it!?! It is watchable. C+
audio: The audio sort of sounds like its being played through a tin can. Sort of muffled as well. C
extras: This is part of the AMC Monsterfest Collection: Roger Corman Classics Collection 1. Other films in the set include "A Bucket of Blood", "The Terror" and "Little Shop of Horrors." All include shitty transfers. There is also some text related extras.
overall: I don't think these are sold anymore, and that's a good thing. I bought three of these sets some years ago, and at $5 a piece, I felt ripped off. The transfers on most of these films are really horrible, even worse than Brentwood and Alpha in some cases. Also some of the films are presented in an edited form (The Brain that Wouldn't Die comes to mind). Bypass this set. The Wasp Woman is presented on numerous other PD collections, so check elsewhere if you want a copy.
name: Werewolf and the Vampire Woman (a.k.a. Werewolf Shadow)
info: Paul Naschy returns as Waldemar Daninsky, the infamous werewolf character he is known for. This time, a vampire by the name of Countess Wandessa enters the mix. Not the best Naschy flick, but it is entertaining. The atmosphere of the film is quite effective and features some very creepy scenes (the slow-motion scenes come to mind). This disc features the U.S. edit.
video: Yikes, this is pretty bad. Video is too dark at times. The color seems off, sort of reminds me when a TV set's color balance is off. D
audio: It sounds as if the audio is playing through a tin can. Really annoying. English dub. D
extras: Part of the "Pray for Death" 4 movie set, also features the movies "Night of the Death Cult", "Satanic Rites of Dracula" and "Sisters of Death."
overall: Skip this and get the Anchor Bay or BCI DVD, which are the uncut versions and feature much much better A/V quality.
name: Wild Riders
info: Two bikers are kicked out of a gang after killing an innocent girl. These bikers head to California and invade a home occupied by two women. Their encounter starts off innocent, then turns violent. I rather enjoyed how the movie ended.
video: The movie is anamorphically enhanced at 1.78:1 ratio. The video is brighter than it probably should be. MPEG artifacts pop up, and at times, it seems like a VCD! Encoding could have been a bit better. Sort of reminds me of BCI's encode of The Pink Angels. The source of the movie looks like it could have been from a video master. C
audio: I thought everything sounded fine. B
extras: Part of the "Drive-in Cult Classics" volume 4 set, which includes 7 other films. As for this film, it includes a "drive-in" experience option that will play a mighty mouse cartoon and two trailers before the movie.
overall: Entertaining biker film though this box set is quite expensive since it came out right when BCI went bankrupt so copies are scarce. However, I'm sure the movie was released on other BCI, and now Millcreek, sets as that seems to be the standard with these Crown titles.
name: The Willies
company: Echo Bridge
info: 3 teenage boys have a camp out and tell each other "scary" stories. The first three stories are told rather fast with the last two stories taking up the rest of the film. The two main stories features a monster disguised as a janitor who disposes of mean people and the second story involves a large bully who has an unhealthy obsession with flies. Fun PG-13 anthology movie.
video: Looks like a tape master was used and thus looks no better than a VHS copy. Full frame transfer. B-
audio: On par with the video quality. B-
overall: Picked it up for $4 on amazon and well worth the price!
name: Yongary, Monster from the Deep
info: Korean Kaiju!
video: Imagine watching this movie on an old television set and tuning in some UHF station that didn't come through quite so good. In that respect, it gives it that late night feel. lol. However, I've seen a much better print on TV a few years back, and boy do I wish I would have copied it at the time. C-
audio: serviceable. B-
extras: short photo gallery
overall: Fun, and very cheesy korean monster movie. Bizarre death scene, and if you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. lol. MGM released this as part of their Midnite Movie line and the print they used is beautiful and anamorphic 2.35:1. I HIGHLY recommend that version to this alpha disc..
name: Zombie Flesh Eaters (incorrectly labeled, as the real name is "The Ghost Galleon")
info: Part of the "Horror Rises from the Grave" 4-pack. The movie is actually the third blind dead film, though for some reason, it features the title ZFE. This time the blind dead are on a ship drifting on the sea when some guests come aboard. Ok flick, but I prefer the other BD films to this one.
video: VHS transfer here. Very dark and quite ugly. It does sort of give the film an eerie feel however. C-
audio: English dub, and has the same problems as other VHS transfers. C
overall: Skip this and pick up Blue Underground's legit release of "The Ghost Galleon" as it's a transfer from the original negative.
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