Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Vinegar Syndrome - DEATH MACHINES and JACK FROST on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Vinegar Syndrome - DEATH MACHINES and JACK FROST on Blu-ray

DEATH MACHINES (1976; Paul Kyriazi)
With an opening scene that feels like something right out of ENTER THE DRAGON (with a lower-budget and much weaker fight choreography), DEATH MACHINES storms in and grabs your attention with its preposterousness and keeps on being entertaining as heck. It's the kind of outlandish movie where people do outlandish things like shoot bazookas at each other and run people down in phone booths with bulldozers and deliver lines like "They're trying to take this town and shove it up my ass!", without batting an eye. The plot (what there is of it) consists mostly of a Dragon Lady sending her Death Machines after her enemies and competitors. Said "machines" are actually just men who have been injected with a special serum that makes them into brutal assassins who a resistant to being killed. They are a lot like terminators in that they absolutely will not stop until they take down their intended targets. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd swear James Cameron could have taken some influence from it. So where this movie is at its best and most entertaining is when the Death Machines are on the attack. There's some enjoyable action set pieces peppered throughout. They rampage through hospitals, police stations and other public places with equal enthusiasm. Where the movie gets less fun is when it gets bogged down in the police investigation and procedural stuff. There's some fun exchanges between the cops for sure, but when the film is in fight scene mode, it's an absolute hoot. It even leans into some of the more riotous scenes which always makes me smile. At one point, a Death Machine finds himself in a small diner when a some tough guy bikers walk in. The result is much what you'd expect, but it's a good time. The whole affair is a good time in the vein of MIAMI CONNECTION and RAW FORCE, so if you like those movies, you'll probably like this. The transfer on this disc exemplifies yet another example of a good job by Vinegar Syndrome. This film can't have ever looked as nice and bright and saturated as it does on this Blu-ray.

Special Features:
• Scanned & restored in 4k from 35mm Techniscope camera negative • Commentary track with director Paul Kyriazi
• Director introduction
• Video interview with actor Michael Chong
• Audio interview with actor Joshua Johnson
• Trims / outtakes
• Original theatrical trailer
• Teaser trailer
• Reversible cover artwork
• English SDH Subtitles

Buy DEATH MACHINES on Blu-ray here:
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JACK FROST (1997; Michael Cooney)
This film was a bit notorious around my video store when it came out on VHS as the now infamous "carrot scene" (poor Shannon Elizabeth) was either hinted at on the box or one of our employees watched it soon after we got it and told all of us about it. Being that I was used to a more Frosty The Snowman kind of Christmas snowman movie, this was something of a shock, but it nonetheless piqued my interest at the time. While I was curious though, I never got around to watching the movie until this new Blu-ray showed up.I can't deny that it does amuse me that there must have been quite a few instances of families renting this film on VHS - thinking they were getting the Michael Keaton family version. I just imagine all the poor video store employees who had to suffer the wraths of those parents when they stormed back to exchange or get a refund.
Anyway, JACK FROST is one of those horror movies that is very much in the vein of CHILD'S PLAY - wherein a very evil serial killer is "killed" and put into another physical form. In this case, a truck full of some experimental acid collides with the prison transport truck that is taking the nefarious and sadistic Jack Frost to his execution. When the truck bursts and the acid drenches Frost, he is melted and absorbed into the snow on the ground. He becomes a killer snowman and the movie fully embraces that idea in all of its ludicrousness. From the first decapitation via the blades of a snow sled, the craziness builds and builds. Scott MacDonald plays Frost and he plays him so crazily and gleefully over the top as to make Robert England look almost subtle by comparison. Jack Frost is certainly playing off of Freddy Krueger though in that he loves puns and the way he dispatches his victims gets more and more elaborate and disgusting with each passing kill. The movie is really more of a gory comedy than a horror movie and some may find it offputting for trying to strike a tone between the two genres. It's really a goofy film though and the best approach (if you're so inclined) is to give yourself over to its lunacy and enjoy it. They really don't make em quite like this anymore.

Special Features:
• Scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm vault elements
• Commentary track with Director Michael Cooney
• Video introduction from Director Michael Cooney
• Video interview with Lead Actor Scott MacDonald
• Video interview with Director of Photography Dean Lent
• Limited edition lenticular artwork by Chris Garofalo
• English SDH Subtitles

Buy JACK FROST on Blu-ray here:
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