There’s a lot of great content spilling out onto Blu-ray, so I thought I’d play catch-up with Vinegar Syndrome’s avalanche of titles, which offer a little bit of everything for horror folks. Strap yourselves in!

Evil Town (1977): Two, two, two movies in one! Curtis Hanson started this project in the ’70s, then left; released, it did nothing. Enter (in)famous producer Mardi Rustam, who decides to film a bunch of new footage (some of it also used in his Evils of the Night) in the ’80s that only highlights the clear difference in the eras in which they were filmed. Dean Jagger and James Keach are on hand for this “wacky doctor and the dead bodies he loves” flick. It’s… an interesting picture, mainly from the point of view of its weird production. There’s a solid audio interview with co-director Larry Siegel, and a very fun segment comparing the new footage to that of Evils of the Night.

Movie Score: 3/5, Disc Score: 3.5/5

Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986): Not unlike Pieces, it’s exactly what you think it is; except instead of a Jason retread or a hulking simpleton, we’re given a rather sympathetic senior citizen who suffers from mental illness. Evelyn enjoys a good turn of the scythe, when she finally gets around to it; the first act is slow, but eventually she starts swingin’ and all is forgiven. It isn’t Motel Hell, but it’ll do. Special features include solid chats with the production designer and the assistant cameraman.

Movie Score: 3/5, Disc Score: 3.5/5

Hellmaster (1992): Looking to cash in on some of that Pinhead green, Hellmaster (original title Them) hews closer to an Argento jam, but with less coherence—not an easy feat. It sure is pretty, though, with reds and greens flooding the screen in a story that has John Saxon as a mad scientist who returns with his creatures to wreak havoc. As I’ve said, it’s pretty incoherent, plus the acting is more or less unswell. But, it’s a good-looking time waster with some decent effects. Special features include a couple of commentaries from the director, including one for the director’s cut, which makes slightly more sense. There’s also a good interview with the cinematographer, Michael Goi, the real star of the picture.

Movie Score: 2.5/5, Disc Score: 3.5/5

Play Dead (1983): Okay, now we’re heading into my kind of crazy. Yvonne DeCarlo stars as a rich old biddy with ties to Beelzebub who gets her Rottweiler Greta to do her evil bidding. Part Satanic Panic and part When Animals Attack, Play Dead has its slow spots, but makes up for it with some nice, creative kills. Special features include a six-minute video clip with the director and a 20-something-minute audio chat with actress Stephanie Dunnam. Comes with a DVD, too, so you can port this puppy around!

Movie Score: 3.5/5, Disc Score: 3.5/5

Dominique (1979): Dominique is a slow burn gaslight haunting extravaganza from the subtle hand of Michael Anderson (Orca). Our titular character is driven to suicide by constant sounds and sights. Is her hubby, played by Cliff Robertson, behind it? Well, she comes back from beyond the grave to find out. Atmospheric, well acted, the film moves at a methodical pace as it uncovers its secrets. A solid haunted picture, it’s accompanied by a 24-minute audio interview with assistant director Brian Cook that’s quite informative, as well as a shorter audio interview with actor Michael Jayston, who comments on the strange behavior of Robertson (get in line, buddy).

Movie Score: 3.5/5, Disc Score: 3.5/5


  • Scott Drebit
    About the Author - Scott Drebit

    Scott Drebit lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is happily married (back off ladies) with 2 grown kids. He has had a life-long, torrid, love affair with Horror films. He grew up watching Horror on VHS, and still tries to rewind his Blu-rays. Some of his favourite horror films include Phantasm, Alien, Burnt Offerings, Phantasm, Zombie, Halloween, and Black Christmas. Oh, and Phantasm.

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