Friday, March 25, 2016

Death Walks on High Heels (1971) - Blu-ray Review - Arrow Video

'Death Walks Twice' in the Limited Edition Box Set from Arrow Video

Death Walks Twice box set from Arrow Video

Released by: Arrow Video
Release Date: March 28, 2016 (UK) / March 29, 2016 (US) 
Production Year: 1971
Region Code: A / B
Running Time: 1:47:48
Audio: Italian DTS-HD MA Mono, English DTS-HD MA Mono
Video: 1080p (2.35:1 Aspect Ratio)
Subtitles: English, English SDH

Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture

THE FILM - [ 3.5 / 5 ]:

This film is part of a new, two film Blu-ray and DVD box set limited edition box set (3000 copies), "Death Walks Twice." Emerging at the peak of the giallo boom of the early ‘70s, Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks films are two superlative examples of the genre linked by their shared casting of the stunning Nieves Navarro (billed under her adopted stage name of Susan Scott) as the lead woman in peril.

In "Death Walks on High Heels" (1971), exotic dancer Nicole (Nieves Navarro), the daughter of a murdered jewel thief, finds herself terrorized by a black-clad assailant determined on procuring her father's stolen gems. Fleeing Paris and her knife-wielding pursuer, Nicole arrives in London only to discover that death stalks her at every corner.

The giallo, one of my favorite sub-genre's of horror and the precursor to slashers. With "Death Walks on High Heels" the title immediately plants an image in to our minds as is often the case with this sort of film. The villain of the film is not totally cloaked in darkness nor has an obscured face. In this case we are privy to seeing a portion of the killer's face. But it is the eyes that we are focused on. Perhaps even, fixated. Piercing and blue, they are quite memorable. Our killer also disguises their voice. They are crafty but are they crafty enough to elude the police?

The film does a good job of keeping the viewer on their toes, tossing red herrings at you as well as shaking things up with the characters during the film. I don't want to reveal too much. There are a number of interesting characters that appear during the film and while some may have small roles, they are effective at both furthering the story and helping to raise your heart rate. 

Nieves Navarro gives a wonderful performance as Nicole. She goes through a range of emotions during the film and pulls them off quite nicely. She even entertains us with her dancing skills as well. Simon Andreu is also great in his role as Nicole's love interest Michel. "Death Walks on High Heels" features a number of lavish or beautiful locations, from the Kit Kat club to the beachfront property, cinematographer Fernando Arribas did a fine job shooting this film. 

Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture

AUDIO - [ 4.5 / 5 ]:

The Blu-ray features both Italian and English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono tracks. There are also English and English SDH subtitles included. The sound quality is excellent and the score by Stelvio Cipriani helps bring the film to life. Dialogue, sound effects and score were fairly well balanced throughout. I did not notice any issues with the audio in the form of hissing, pops, etc.   

Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture

VIDEO - [ 4 / 5 ]:

"Death Walks on High Heels" stalks its way on to Blu-ray by Arrow Video and its U.S. distributor MVD Entertainment Group. The film is presented in 1080p with a 2.35 aspect ratio thanks to the new 2k restoration of the film from the original camera negatives by Arrow Video. The film looks gorgeous with its variety of strong colors from Nicoles' red hair to her gold dance costume. The film appears to have a good amount of sharpness to it which looks even better in close up shots. Skin tones look natural in hue. There is a fine layer of grain present which seemed more noticeable at first but seeing as film grain doesn't bother me, it could just be that I wasn't actively looking for it any longer. A very good looking video presentation once again by Arrow Video. 

Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture


Play with Introduction (1:48) - You have the option of playing the film with a brief introduction by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi.

From Spain with Love (24:21) - Director Luciano Ercoli and actress Nieves Navarro (Susan Scott) were interviewed on March 2012 at their home in Barcelona. The both discuss their careers including how they got started. Ms. Navarro talks about her previous modeling career and why her name was changed to Susan Scott for a film. The pair discuss a variety of topics from shooting love scenes to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in Spain. (with English subtitles)

Master of Giallo (32:33) - A brand new interview filmed in Rome in November 2015, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi discusses "Death Walks on High Heels" and how to write a successful giallo. Mr. Gastaldi talks about the differences between his films and others. He talks about working on "Once Upon a Time in America" with Sergio Leone, the effects of DNA from crime scenes on thrillers today and more. Another great, informative interview with the very talented writer. (with English subtitles)

Death Walks to the Beat (26:28) - This new interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani was filmed October 2015 in Rome. He discusses his career and work on "Death Walks on High Heels." The interview opens with him playing the song that appears in the opening credits of the film, on a piano. Also, throughout the interview are more moments of Mr. Cipriani playing various tunes on the piano. (with English subtitles)

Trailers (5:38) - The Italian and English trailers for the film.

Audio Commentary with Tim Lucas - Film critic Tim Lucas does a nice job of talking about what is happening on the screen and providing additional information on said scenes. I found the commentary to be very analytical and technical. If you enjoyed the film you will probably also find this commentary interesting, as I have.

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Limited Edition 60-page booklet - As part of the "Death Walks Twice" Limited Edition box set, it includes a booklet  containing new writing from authors Danny Shipka (Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France), Troy Howarth (So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films) and writer Leonard Jacobs, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture

OVERALL RATING - [ 4 / 5 ]

You can also read our review of the other film from this set, "Death Walks at Midnight."


Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture

Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture

Death Walks on High Heels Blu-ray screen capture

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Horror is Unleashed on VHS and Digital Download on April 1st

Moondog Media Releases Acclaimed Indie
On Digital VHX and Limited Edition VHS

Moondog Media is excited to announce the April 1 digital VHX and limited edition VHS release of their first feature The Horror. Jerry White III's first film follows freshly orphaned twins made to fight for their survival; a fight that continues long after the violence ends. Anchored by stars Callie Ott (WTF!) and Raymond Creamer in his debut performance, The Horror and its leads have been hailed by critics since the world premiere at Dances With Films. 

Still reeling from the loss of their parents, Malcolm (Creamer) and Isabel Rademacher (Ott) head to their family's lake house for a weekend with their friends. What starts as a fun trip is cut short when Malcolm and Isabel ultimately push their companions away. Abandoned, Malcolm and Isabel's isolation is exploited by two masked assailants who invade their home. Malcolm kills one of them in self-defense, but becomes obsessed with tracking his escaped partner down.

A year later, Isabel is attempting to put her life back together but memories of the invasion cast a long shadow. As Malcolm continues his hunt for the second assailant, Isabel becomes aware of the darkness that he carries inside and, while he claims to be protecting her, she worries that he may be the biggest threat of all.

The VHS release of The Horror ($20) will exclusively include an introduction by Jerry White III and a digital download of the film. VHX downloads of The Horror ($5) can be played on any home entertainment system, as well as Roku, AppleTV, Android, iOS, Chromecast, AirPlay and more.

Order The Horror on VHX Download
Order The Horror on VHS

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Rows (2015) - DVD Review - MVD Entertainment Group

It's not the cornfield you should be afraid of...

Rows poster

Released by: MVD Entertainment Group
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Production Year: 2015
Region Code: 1
Running Time: 1:22:29
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35 Aspect Ratio)
Subtitles: None

Rows screen capture

THE FILM - [ 3 / 5 ]:

Rows is a horror/fantasy/thriller inspired by Grimm's tales. Rose (Hannah Schick) works for her father, Mark (Kenneth Hughes), who turns cornfields into subdivisions. Rose must deliver eviction papers to Haviland (Nancy Murray), a squatter in a condemned farmhouse. Haviland is an evil enchantress-- she puts Rose under a spell. Rose's friend, Greta (Lauren Lakis), will also come under Haviland's powers. They become lost in a seemingly infinite cornfield and must repeat a series of surreal or terrifying events in order to solve the mystery and break the spell. Rose's father is drawn into the mystery, and Rose's relationship with him is tested. A series of shocking reversals leads to a haunting climax.

It's hard to say too much about the film without possibly giving too much away. I've actually trimmed down the synopsis of the film from the description on the MVD website since it pretty much tells you everything that happens in the movie. I went in to the film knowing absolutely nothing about it, not even reading the blurb of plot details on the back of the DVD case. But that's me and I usually like to go in unprepared without any preconceptions of a film, at least with non-Hollywood movies. Admittedly the film did indeed catch me off-guard in the first few minutes with a, wait, what happened type of response. I did take my eyes off the screen just prior but even on my second viewing it was still effective at making me take pause. Anyhow, typical indie films have that "look" about them. You know, that cheap look. I was pleasantly surprised to quickly see that "Rows" looked professionally made. The film looks terrific with a number of great camera shots at various angles and points of view that to me, places it above the pack. Kudos to Scott Chestnut for his wonderful job as cinematographer. The cornfield in "Rows" looks vast and foreboding, seemingly having no start or end. Is it infinite? Perhaps. 

Our heroines Rose and Greta are pleasing to the eye but don't let their beauty fool you. They're equally cunning in their own way which is fortunate as they find themselves entangled in the seemingly never ending nightmare. I thought both ladies did a fine job in their respective roles. If they hadn't, the film would have been a chore to sit through since they have to carry most of the scenes. I though the rest of the cast did fine in their smaller, limited roles. 

I appreciated the few surprises and startling moments in the film as opposed to say, cats jumping out of the closet or other typical jump scare tactics. "Rows" goes more for mood and messing with your mind and perception of what is happening, what has happened and what might happen next. For your convenience I've included the trailer below. I watched it and it is fairly safe in regards to spoilers. So feel free to give it a look and see if it draws you further in to the "Rows."

Rows screen capture Hannah Schick

AUDIO - [ 4 / 5 ]:

The sole audio option on the DVD is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track which does a pretty good job of helping to set the unsettling mood inspired in the film. I enjoyed the sound of the rustling cornstalks. It reminded me of playing in cornfields when I was a kid. Dialogue, sound effects and the score maintained a good balance throughout. I did not encounter any technical problems with the audio. Just to further note, there are no subtitles included.   
Rows screen capture

VIDEO - [ 3.5 / 5]:

"Rows" comes to DVD thanks to MVD Entertainment Group. The film is presented in the 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio and looks great for the most part. I have seen some Blu-ray discs that look worse than this DVD. The film doesn't feature an abundance of colors other than the lush green cornfield, but they look great when they appear. There is a brief scene with water that looked fantastic. The film is fairly sharp and looks even better in close ups. Skin tones looked great. There are some instances of banding notably on the shirt of Rose around four minutes in to the film. Despite that I was still quite pleased with the video quality of the DVD. 
Rows screen capture Lauren Lakis and Hannah Schick


There are no extras included on the DVD.

OVERALL RATING - [ 2.5 / 5 ]


Rows screen capture Joe Basile

Rows screen capture

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