Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Subkultur Entertainment- SWITCHBLADE SISTERS and DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Subkultur Entertainment- SWITCHBLADE SISTERS and DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE on Blu-ray

Among the many things I am grateful to Tarantino for, introducing me to Jack Hill is one of the big ones. In the mid to late 90s when my QT obsession was at its most feverish, I read any interview I could get my hands on and made it my mission to track down any films or filmmakers he called out as influences. Right around the release of PULP FICTION, Tarantino seemed to be talking a lot about Roger Corman. I was already getting into Corman movies like ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and DEATH RACE 2000, so it was excellent timing. Right around this time, Tarantino was starting up his Rolling Thunder Pictures Video Label and releasing movies like THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN, DETROIT 9000 and SWITCHBLADE SISTERS of course. In his video introduction to SS, he talked about his affection for Jack Hill. I had never really heard of the guy, but I immediately began tracking down his movies. I saw COFFY and FOXY BROWN and liked both a lot and immediately fell in love with Pam Grier. It was only then that I connected the little dialogue exchange in RESERVOIR DOGS about Pam Grier and how important she was Tarantino. But I digress. It's obvious how important SWITCHBLADE SISTERS is to QT. Monica Gayle's character "Patch" is a pretty clear influence on Daryl Hannah's character in KILL BILL. When you watch the film, you can see why he likes it so much. It's just a blast of a movie. It has a crap-ton of amazingly sharp and clever dialogue, and tongue in cheek humor. It also has pathos and goes from being this wild and crazy girl-gang flick with outrageous unpredictable characters, to a story that you actually care about. This is incredibly tough to pull off. Jack Hill is a remarkable guy and he really knows what he's doing. I mean, how many exploration directors use Shakespeare (Othello in this case) as a partial basis for their gang movie? He's brilliant and a big part of why this movie is so great. And it is quite great. It's truly one of my favorite exploitation films of all-time. I wish I had seen it with a crowd at some point (as that must be an absolute blast), but as it is this DVD/Blu-ray set is pretty great stuff.

Special Features:
Subkultur went all out for this disc and included some excellent supplements:
-"We are THE JEZEBELS" (39 mins) This excellent making of featurette consists of interviews with Jack Hill, producer John Prizer, casting director Geno Havens, actors Joanne Nail, Asher Brauner, Chase Newhart and the stunt coordinator from the film. Tons of great stories and information about the production to be found here.
They go into great detail about how the film came about and what preceded it. 
-Interviews with Jack Hill, Joanne Nail and Robbie Lee - conducted by Johnny Legend. Apparently these were recorded in the early 1990s and were included on a VHS that was self-distributed by Johnny Legend and Jack Hill.
-"Jack Hill and Joanne Nail at the Grindhouse Film Festival" (9 mins) - This interview was done in 2007 at a special Grindhouse Film Festival screening of SWITCHBLADE SISTERS (filmed at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles).
-"On Location with Jack Hill and Elijah Drenner"(7 mins) - Jack Hill and filmmaker Elijah Drenner search for some of the films famous locations. There are some fun split screen shots in this featurette wherein footage from the movie is juxtaposed against the locations in the present day. Pretty neat.
-An audio commentary track with Quentin Tarantino and Jack Hill has been ported over from the old DVD as well. It's a great track and in very glad they included it.
-Trailers before the movie. The disc features a run of about 14 mins of exploitation movie trailers before the feature (you can skip them if you choose). They are all German language trailers for a mix of English and foreign films so that makes for an interesting pre-show.

Here is an old trailer featuring Quentin Tarantino Introducing the "Rolling Thunder Video Collection" - including SWITCHBLADE SISTERS:

And here is one of the original trailers for the film.

DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE (1980; Joseph Ellison)
This movie interestingly also has. Tarantino connection for me. He programmed as part of one of his QT Fests in Austin years ago. When I finally saw it, I was completely fascinated by the movie. It was weird and disturbing and featured one of the creepiest lead performances is ever seen. When we first meet Donny (Dan Grimaldi) in this movie, he watches one of his coworkers almost burn to death and then goes home to find his mother dead. And what does he do when he finds his mother dead? He runs to his room and starts blasting a disco album on his stereo and then jumps on the furniture. He's clearly not quite right in the head, to say the least. He's hearing voices and that's rarely a good thing. Lots of shades of PSYCHO here. Part of the conceit of the film is that this freaky guy (who is maybe one of the most socially awkward dudes I've seen on screen) could lure women either into his vehicle or into his house and it's kind of just know that bad shot is going to befall these girls and you can't help but almost shout at the screen, "Don't go near that guy!". So the movie has this almost comedic aspect to it dealing with the fact that this creep keeps tricking girls into cong over to his house. On top of that though, there is this very palpable sense of dread and paranoia that comes through and ends up making the film unnerving and effective as a horror venture. It is a unique experience in that way and a sleazy article of note for genre fans. Also it's represented on the cover of Stephen Thrower's amazing book NIGHTMARE USA and that should count for something.

Special Features:
-An audio commentary with Actor Dan Grimaldi.
-"Playing With Fire: An Interview With Dan Grimaldi" (12 mins) This is an interesting interview wherein Grimaldi discusses how he got the part and how he researched and prepared for the role. Apparently he took it quite seriously and made a study of abuse victims in order to get the character right. 
-"The Burnjng Man: An Interview with Joseph Ellison" (14 mins) Director Ellison gives a candid interview about how he came to filmmaking, his influences (Fellini being one of them) and how he came to make DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE (and also why he made it). I must admit that he is much different than I would have imagined. Very intelligent and articulate. Great interview.

These discs are region free, which is great and both transfers look pretty good. 
Subkultur has certainly impressed me with these two releases. They are sure to please you genre fans out there. Also, I hear they have more titles coming our way stateside in 2016 and I am very excited by that prospect. They are certainly a company to keep an eye on.
To order these discs and to see the rest of their groovy catalog, check out their website here:
They have a very cool looking Blu-ray of DEATHDREAM coming in April!

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