Blu-ray Review: Evil Judgement

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Canuxploitation films always make Canada look like it’s perpetually cold and covered in snow. Why? Because most of these low budget horror/slasher films from the 70s and 80s were made when Canadian government would renew their film tax shelter program. They’d vote to renew this law late in the year. As the frost arrived, film crews raced around Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver making movies that might get drive-in or straight to video action in the USA. There were a lot of movies produced during this era. Evil Judgement brings a touch of Giallo to Canuxploitation although you’re not sure if you’re seeing the leather gloved hand of a killer or someone avoiding frostbite.

Janet (Meatballs III: Summer Job‘s Pamela Collyer) has dreams of a successful dancing career, but is sensible enough to have a day job at Montreal’s hottest corndog restaurant. However, corndogs don’t quite rack up fat tips in a poutine city. She needs more to keep the heat going. Her friend April (Scandale‘s Nanette Workman) suggest she joins her in the more profitable world of prostitution. A night of hooking pays better than a week of passing out corndogs. But Janet fears her slightly mobstery boyfriend Dino (Darkman II: The Return of Durant‘s Jack Langedijk) won’t approve. He flips his lid and tosses her out of his apartment when she mentions it. This leads to Janet heading over to April’s apartment. She decides to take up April’s hooking offer to prove Dino’s wrong. April has the perfect “first date” ready for her friend. She has a rich old regular guy who lives in a mansion in the suburbs. He’s been craving a two-girl night. The old guy is extremely happy when they arrive. He even serves them dinner before they retreat up to his bedroom. Janet remains rather antsy so April gives her a tranquilizer to make it all feel fine. As things are about to get steamy, the power goes out in the mansion. The old guy gets up to check the fusebox. Turns out this evening is about a foursome since there’s someone else in the joint. The old guy gets his throat slashed. Janet freaks out when she finds April also sliced open. She runs into the night. When Janet wakes up, she finds herself strapped to a hospital bed and the investigating cop Armstrong (Scanners‘ Roland Nincheri) explaining she slit her wrists. The cop swears that there’s no bodies in the mansion and her blood test proved she was high on drugs. But she knows something happened and there’s someone stalking her on the cold Montreal streets. Janet can’t rest until she finds out the truth.

Evil Judgement hasn’t been released much over the decades which is a shame. This is an exciting slasher film. There’s a deep conspiracy at the heart of the true identity of the slasher. They’re not some mindless killing machine or frustrated janitor. We get tension and paranoia on the screen. Pamela Collyer has a great jeopardy face as she tries to keep her neck from being ventilated like so many people around her. The slashing effects are gory enough to be taken seriously. The special effects crew nailed throat slashing with so many victims claimed. Dino also sets the film apart from formulaic slashers. He’s a rather jerkish guy willing to stick is neck out to help his girlfriend figure out what’s happening. Even as things are heating up, Dino remains a bit of a jerk to Janet. Evil Judgement isn’t a by the book Giallo since we have an idea who killed the first victim. But we’re still left wondering why and if he’s the only person slicing throats. It’s a worthy guessing game until the final reveal. Even if you do guess, you get an eyeful of slashing gore to keep you occupied. Evil Judgement is a prime slice of Canuxploitation with that slight chill to the screen and a night full of screams.

The Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 4K transfer was taken off the original 35mm camera negative. You get quite a lot of details from the cold Montreal locations. The Audio is DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono. You’ll hear all the sounds of the town and the screams of slashing victims clearly. The movie is subtitled in English.

Commentary track reunites director/producer/co-writer Claudio Castravelli, production manager/associate producer Pietro L. Serapiglia and co-writer Victor Montesano. They haven’t seen each other in 30 years. Claudio points out that actress Pamela Collyer requested the dancing practice scene in the opening to show off her move. They point out their Director of Photography shot William Shatner before he went to Hollywood. Victor explained how he wrote before the laptop arrived.

Commentary track with The Hysteria Continues! has the podcast crew dip into the unfairly obscure slasher film. They are thrilled the film is getting revived. One of them remembers the tape at his local store sliced up the box to make it fit a plastic rental box. Others don’t remember their rental stores having the VHS tape. Many of them hadn’t seen the film before Vinegar Syndrome picked up the film. They do get into other Canadian slasher from this era. They enjoy Evil Judgement’s off beat qualities.

The Executioner (17:35) meets up with director/producer/co-writer Claudio Castravelli. He used to skip classes to go to the movies as a kid. He started as a filmmaker at 14 when his dad gave him an 8mm camera. He won a few prizes in student film contestants. Evil Judgement came about when he talked about a distributor in Montreal who suggested a slasher film to get him noticed outside of Quebec. This was a tax shelter film that was made for $600K. Backers were able to get $100K tax credit for investing $50K in a film budget. Claudio was a big fan of Italian movies and liked Giallo films, but won’t admit it was a direct influence. He wanted a bit of a complex plot for his slasher film.

Getting It Done (8:26) has production manager/associate producer Pietro L. Serapiglia talk about working in the cold. He got into film working on documentaries including one that was Oscar nominated. He worked as an assistant to production manager on Visiting Hours. This was where he met Claudio and came on board to work on Evil Judgement. He was doing most of location scouting. The film had to stop for 2 years because of a budgeting issue. He cleaned up locations after the shoot so there were no bloody pools left. He and Claudio did music videos to air on Canada’s Much Music.

It’s About Vibes (17:01) lights up a cigar with composer Corky Laing. He was born in Montreal. His mom turned him onto a lot of music. He became a drummer in the ’70s for Mountain. He had a connection to Claudio and they needed a composer for the film. He felt the movie was well executed when presented clips. He wanted to use a synthesizer to compose sonics to create vibes for the scenes. He believes “little is more.”

Canadian Giallo (21:24) lets writer and filmmaker Caelum Vatnsdal get intothe influence of the giallo genre on Canadian exploitation cinema. He sense Evil Judgement is committed to throat slashing. He gets into the slasher films made in Canada around this time.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Evil Judgement. Directed by Claudio Castravelli. Screenplay by Claudio Castravelli and Victor Montesano. Starring Pamela Collyer, Jack Langedijk, Walter Massey, Nanette Workman, Roland Nincheri, Suzanne DeLaurentiis. Running Time: 93 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Release Date: October 31, 2023.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.