Blu-ray Review: Pandemonium

Back in the ’80s, you’d see ads in the newspaper for movies that under no circumstances your parents would take you to see. And you didn’t even ask them to take you to the multiplex on the other side of town. But you’d remember the movie and figure at some point they’d end up on cable TV. Except somehow you’d never see it on TV. But somehow you still remember the movie and swear you’ll eventually see it. Such is the case with Pandemonium and myself. This star-studded body count comedy seemed like it would be something I’d see ever three years on random UHF stations over the years, but I didn’t finally see the movie until the Blu-ray showed up in the mail. Was it worth the wait?

Blue Grange (Lust In the Dust‘s Tab Hunter) has led It Had To Be University in the 1963 National Championship game. But before the small town in Indiana can truly celebrate the moment, the cheerleaders are murdered in what gets called a “shish kabob” killing. There’s a few other cheerleader murders that makes cheerleading a dangerous thing around the college. Nearly 20 years later, Bambi (Fatso‘s Candice Azzara) has decided to open up a cheerleader camp at the college. But is this a wise idea? They never busted anyone for the original cheerleader murders. But Bambi won’t be discouraged from sharing her love of cheerleading with her campers that include a Carrie-like Candy (Taxi‘s Carol Kane), Randy (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman‘s Debralee Scott) and Glenn (Fast Times At Ridgemont High‘s Judge Reinhold). Are the campers really safe since their only protection seems to be a Mountie (Smothers Brothers Comedy Hous‘ Tom Smothers) and and American cop Johnson (Pee Wee’s Playhouse‘s Paul Reubens). The killer pretty much has a great chance to add to his cheerleader victim total.

If you’re a fan of early ’80s Comic slasher films, you’ll find quite a few laughs. There’s quite a few creative kills including tooth brushes and a bathtub full of milk and cookies. The cast is like a Love Boat with a body count. Along with the already mentioned folks, there’s also Eve Arden (Grease), Eileen Brennan ( The Last Picture Show), Kaye Ballard (The Mother-In-Laws), Donald O’Connor (Singin’ In the Rain), David L. Lander (Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley), Edie McClurg (Natural Born Killers) and Phil Hartman (News Radio). The real star of the film is the Mountie’s horse who does quite a few unusual stunts. Director Alfred Sole came from the horror background with Alice, Sweet Alice which didn’t quite have that many jokes. The jokes come fast and furious in the film including a fun cameo from Godzilla. Pandemonium is goofy fun with a bit of creative fun in the lethal moments. This comedic slaughterpiece was worth the wait.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer is from a 2K 35mm interpositive so you see the odd sight gags. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. The levels will let you hear all of Paul Reubens’ lines. The movie is subtitled.

Dying of Laughter (14:21) lets director Alfred Sole discuss how the producers brought him on board with the script. He speaks of learning how to make a comedy after working in horror. He hooked up with the Groundlings to get a sense of timing and brought many of them into the film. Turns out this was his last big film as a director. He’d go onto be a production designer on films and recently TV shows including Veronica Mars, Castle and the revived MacGyver.

Promotional Still Gallery are a few pictures from the press kit.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Pandemonium. Directed by: Alfred Sole. Screenplay by: Jaime Klein & Richard Whitley. Starring: Carol Kane, Paul Reubens, Eve Arden, Candice Azzara, Tom Smothers, Eileen Brennan, Judge Reinhold, Kaye Ballard, Donald O’Connor, Tab Hunter, David L. Lander, Phil Hartman and Debralee Scott. Rated: PG. Running Time: 80 minutes. Released: September 29, 2020.

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