Recently an article declared the best Blu-ray releasing labels not named Criterion. While I have no problem with the companies named, they completely missed out on Vinegar Syndrome. Since it’s release of Lost Films Of Herschell Gordon Lewis back in 2013, the company has been performing exceptional work restoring movies that aren’t taught in the finest of film schools. They have dug deep into cinema for titles that never played your local mall Cineplex. They gave viewers a true glimpse of the adult titles Travis Bickle enjoyed in various Times Square theaters. The vintage gems shot on film from the ’70s and ’80s gave a greater appreciation of talent of Jamie Gillis. Vinegar Syndrome has done fine work with R-rated flicks that played the more shady theaters across America. Last year’s release of Rudy Ray Moore’s classics including Dolemite and Disco Godfather finally gave the icon high definition transfers worthy of his comic genius. Most of transfers created by Vinegar Syndrome for their DVDs and Blu-rays look better than when the films were theatrically released. They make an extraordinary effort to deliver films that could have just been slapped out using on an old VHS analog master tape. They have also included special features that elevate the experience for cult fans and give a context to new viewers. Here are nine recent releases from Vinegar Syndrome. All titles include both a Blu-ray and DVD in the box.
Demon Wind (1990 – 98 minutes) is a man wanting to now more about his grandparents and father and returns to their hometown to explore his genealogy. That sounds boring until you realize that his grandparents were brutally murdered by a supernatural force and only his father survived. Cory (Billionaire Boys Club‘s Eric Larson) wants to investigate this horrifying tale after his father’s suicide. He gathers together a large group of friends and they go off to the country. The locals try to scare them off, but they find the old farm and quickly discover that there’s something in the wind that blows around that place. It has the ability to transform people into killers. The film has plenty of gross effects when the demons blow out the barn. The film is perfect for fans the nightmare country trip genre. The bonus features include interviews with the producer, cinematographer, editor and actress Sherry Leigh (stunts on West World). There’s also a still gallery and trailer.
Blood Beat (1982 – 86 minutes) is a Christmas movie that features a killer with a Samurai sword. Finally something to watch after opening the presents instead of Die Hard. Sarah (Claudia Peyton) does the awkward thing of spending the holidays with her boyfriend Ted (James Fitzgibbons) at his mother’s country house. Sure it seems like a great idea although the place in rural Wisconsin, also known as Ed Gein country. Sure the film does start out with a lot of hunting and dressing deer, but this is not about the cannibal who inspired Psycho. Sarah doesn’t even get too scared by the potential mother-in-law. She gets freaked out by the Samurai Warrior roaming the woods and hacking up people. There’s a psychic possession element as the folks want to survive the ancient killer. The bonus features include an interview and commentary track from writer/director Fabrice Zaphiratos and a talk with the cinematographer. An interesting extra is a 28 minute video remix to the music of Nervous Curtains and Horror.
Slaughterhouse (1987 – 85 minutes) is the classic tale of a small business struggling to make ends meet finding a novel way to take care of their creditors. In the case of Lester Bacon’s slaughterhouse, he has his rather mentally disturbed son to use his killing way to go after anyone that threatens his business. If the kid can take out a pig, why shouldn’t he eliminate the rival slaughterhouse owner? The bankruptcy restructuring plan goes wrong when local kids drop by the plant for a little fun only to get caught up in bloodletting. It’s a fine installment in the meat factory gone wrong genre that includes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Motel Hell. The bonus features really dig deep into the film including the local news coverage of the world premiere and a vintage radio interview. There’s a commentary tracks with director Rick Roessler and crew. Actress Sherry Leigh (Demon Wind) talks about her time escaping the blade. There’s even a great “No Smoking” PSA for your theater to run.
Psychos In Love (1986 – 86 minutes) could be a cute romantic comedy between a strip club manager (Carmine Capobianco) and a manicurist (Debi Thibeault). The duo find a spark in their distaste for grapes. But they really bond when they discover they’re both serial killers. He likes to sneak up on his victims. She enjoys ending her dates in a bloodbath. Together they enjoy a messy night out. The film is gruesome and full of dark humor as they hack, slash and strange away. It’s the perfect romantic comedy for people who wish Love Actually had a body count. This might have been a low budget indie film, but they didn’t hold back on the fake blood. Vinegar Syndrome goes all out with the bonus features including a commentary track with director Gorman Bechard and star Carmine Capobianco. There’s lots of alternate, extended and outtake footage. There’s coverage from 2016’s Cinema Wasteland. Early short films from Bechard are included. You’ll fall in love once more with Psychos In Love.
Red Roses of Passion (1966 – 79 minutes) is part of the prime for erotic filmmaker Joe Sarno (The Seduction of Inga). Carla (Come Ride the Wild Pink Horse‘s Patricia McNair) is frustrated by living with her Holy roller aunt and cousin. She wants to be wild and enjoy carnal delights. But there’s no chance of that happening under the Church lady’s nose. A co-worker introduces her to a secret cult of ladies who worship Pan with long stemmed roses and weird elixirs. She gets lured deep into the organization which includes sheer nighty parties. Sarno’s black and white photography gives a seductive edge to the image. This is suburban paganism at its finest. The bonus feature is an interview with Michael Bowen a Sarno historian.
Nurse Sherri (1977 – 88 minutes) is an exploitation hybrid as it uses the young and frisky nurse genre that worked so well for Roger Corman and possesses it with an Exorcist element. Sweet nurse Sherri (Falcon Crest‘s Jill Jacobson) finds the spirit of a dying patient taking over her soul. She ditches her rounds in order to track down the dead mobster’s enemies. This alarms her nursing buddies who decide that they need to exorcize their friend before she kills everyone. It’s a campy and rather fun affair like a ’70s hospital drama gone weird. Director Al Adamson had stuck gold with Dracula vs. Frankenstein and keeps a touch of horror and cheese in Nurse Sherri. Bonus features include a commentary track with the producer and interviews with Jill Jacobson and her nurse pal Marilyn Joi. There’s an different cut for the exploitation theaters, an update on the locations, the original trailer and still gallery. You pretty much get everything except Nurse Sherri’s latex gloves.
A Woman’s Torment (1977 – 85 minutes) is from Roberta Findley who not only wrote and directed, but was also the cinematographer. But she’s not a name that often comes up when speaking of female filmmakers since she made films that might get a teacher in trouble with the taboo police at a college. This is film does not hold back in the carnality. The film has a couple having relationship issues that get even worse when her sister shows up. The couple want to have the troubled girl shipped off to a home, but she runs off to an abandoned beach house where she comes further apart. A big bonus feature is a “soft version” that could possibly be run in a classroom if you ever want to do a presentation on Findley as an indie filmmaking icon. There’s also a commentary track with Findley and her Q&A at Quad Cinemas. Michael Gaunt talks about his time on at the beach.
Prime Evil and The Lurkers is a double feature of Roberta Findley’s films from 1988. Prime Evil is about a devil worshipping in New York City. Of course we all know there are devil worshippers since that’s how Wall Street works. But this time the devil worshippers are monks gone wild. It’s the time of the season when they are needing human sacrifices for their dark lord. There are demons on the screen. The Lurkers has Cathy return home years after her mother went nuts and kill her father. A supernatural force wants to turn her into a Lurker, a spirit that avenges those that killed them. Findley gives us a ghost story that scares the clothes off her characters. This double feature shows how Findley was a diverse filmmaker for subject matter and could handle effects shots. Bonus features include a commentary track from Findley on Prime Evil, an isolated score for both films and their trailers.
Alex deRenzy’s Babyface (1977 – 105 minutes) is an erotic tale of a stud brothel. Dan makes the mistake of hooking up with a flirting young girl. While things were going fine at first, her mother showed up and things go bad quick. Dan finds himself shot and only alive because two women saved him. But there’s a catch as after he recovers, he’s working at a brothel aimed at female customers. Can Dan keep up the pace. And who is the notorious customer that everyone calls, “The Nutcracker.” Even with that nickname, this is not a Christmas film. The film is considered a forgotten classic of the Time Square scene. Part of the reason it was forgotten was the lack of a print until it one was located for this transfer. The bonus features are an audio interview with actress Molly Seagrim and a short film by Alex deRenzy that may appear on HBO’s The Deuce in a peepshow.
Tags: Psychos In Love, Vinegar Syndrome