Scream Factory Blu-ray Round-up: “BOUND TO VENGEANCE”, “BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS”, More…Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
Even though Halloween is in the horror community’s collective rearview mirror, Scream Factory continues to offer various treats to horror Blu-ray collectors. But with Christmas around the corner, fright fans might be wary about what terror titles to stuff their stockings this holiday season. Luckily, FANGORIA has the latest scare fare from the specialty horror distributor, and in this review round-up, horror hounds can better decide which Scream Factory releases are best suited for their home media collection.
STUNG (dir. Benni Diez)
While a horror film featuring killer bees, bodily mutations, splattery bloodshed and dependable character actors should be a home run, STUNG never quite reaches its maximum potential as a modern day monster movie. Nevertheless, those looking for campier, over-the-top fare will find much to appreciate in STUNG, while casual audiences might enjoy some of the practical effects used sporadically through the film. And the film’s cast runs with the cheesy creature feature nature of STUNG as well, with Lance Henriksen embracing one-liners and Clifton Collins Jr. turning in one of the most bizarre, twisted villain performances of the year.
As with most digitally-shot films from the IFC Midnight catalog, STUNG has a pretty strong video transfer and an impressive audio mix as well. The 5.1 audio mix provides a surprisingly immersive experience, especially for those with above-average stereo set-ups that can capture the buzzes and swirling score. Meanwhile, the video image is sharp and clean, with slight murkiness in darker scenes being a result of the cinematography and not the video compression.
However, STUNG is fairly standard when it comes to special features, with nothing in particular truly stealing the show. Sure, the disc comes with two 20+ plus minute making-of documentaries, with one being an assembly of production diaries while the other is a more cohesive featurette. But outside of a theatrical trailer and a fairly decent audio commentary with director Benni Diez, producer Benjamin Munz and writer Adam Aresty, there’s really nothing too complimentary on this package. Overall, monster movie completists might want to add STUNG to their collection, but it’s far from must-see material.
BOUND TO VENGEANCE (dir. J.M. Cravioto)
On the other hand, BOUND TO VENGEANCE is a fresh, fairly frenetic take on the rape-revenge genre, with an escape sex slave taking her captor hostage as she attempts to shut down the local human trafficking trade one place at a time. Grim, stylized and engaging, BOUND TO VENGEANCE offers an unique twist on the exploitation genre, taking the lead on a path of retaliation and rescue with a WARRIORS-esque sense of character of each locale. And while the ugly subject matter might not be every horror hounds’ cup of tea, chances are that BOUND TO VENGEANCE will find a loyal audience willing to take its hellish journey into the limits of humanity.
Another digitally shot film, BOUND TO VENGEANCE’s sleek, colorful presentation looks gorgeous in stunning high definition, with a great audio mix to go with it which highlights the film’s solid score. However, outside of the transfer and a DVD copy of the film, BOUND TO VENGEANCE comes with no extras whatsoever, offering an unfortunately barebones release. While fans of brutal, controversial revenge fantasy films will no doubt enjoy BOUND TO VENGEANCE for what its worth, the lack of extras might ward off more hard-pressed collectors.
BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS (dir. Brian James O’Connell)
One of the better and funnier horror comedies of 2015, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS is a low-budget yet high-concept affair that showcases the charm and cleverness of improv troupe Dr. God. Featuring CABIN IN THE WOODS’ Fran Kranz, CABIN FEVER’s Joey Kern, THE COLLECTION’s Emma Fitzpatrick, GAME OF THRONES’ Pedro Pascal and HATCHET’s Joel Murray, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS offers more quirk than mean streak, but the irreverent tributes to the vampire mythos keeps the horror genre at heart. And luckily, the film offers almost all practical effects, meaning the buckets of blood thrown on our heroes is just as disgusting as it looks.
As one of Scream Factory’s first original releases, the distributor brings even more care to this release than most new films via the imprint. While the color grading darkens the image at times, the depth of the visuals is rather astounding while the details are presented in pretty stunning high definition. Meanwhile, the audio mix, another 5.1 stereo transfer, is pretty stellar, offering dynamic range and a strong fidelity.
With BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, Scream Factory offers an underwhelming amount of features that are luckily entertaining in their own right. The commentary by Dr. God is probably the highlight of the set, with the troupe’s hilarious rapport and on-set anecdotes offered throughout the feature. Furthermore, the disc offers a Gag Reel, a brief making-of featurette and various bite-sized easter eggs that show some of the funnier moments from the production, especially the improvisational nature of the script. Overall, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS is definitely a fun, splattery time that fans of lighthearted horror comedies and vampire flicks can both enjoy, especially via Scream Factory’s exceptional 1080p transfer.
BLOOD & LACE (dir. Philip Gilbert)
Well, I did not expect this one. Celebrated among fans as a precursor to the slasher genre, this obscure, odd film about a boarding house run by maniacs is the definition of bonkers entertainment. While the film has several familiar flourishes of era-appropriate films, including teen dating drama and even a bizarre, basement-bound freak, but BLOOD & LACE is cut from the same bizarre cloth as WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?, offering a strange story about equally strange people with a sinister agenda. And though the film is a bit of a rough watch, never quite capturing the magic that most cult classics thrive upon, BLOOD & LACE is the kind of film that needs to be seen to be believed.
In terms of the transfer, Scream Factory does deliver the goods, especially for a film that is nearly 45 years old and mostly forgotten. The visuals show a nice depth and vibrant color, even if the dated film stock prevents the film from looking exceptionally sharp and vivid. Scream offers a 2.0 mono track, which isn’t quite as dynamic as a 5.1 remaster but contains clear dialogue and an authentic score presentation. Unfortunately, the extras here are also lacking, and outside of an informative (but perhaps too much so) commentary track from film historian Harland Smith, the disc only comes with a theatrical trailer and a standard-def alternate opening. As the film is a bit hard to track down, this release of BLOOD & LACE might be curious viewers’ best bet, but don’t expect too much from this particular release.