UNEARTHED CLASSICS DVD RELEASE: No Escape (1994)

In the year 2022, John Robbins (Ray Liotta) has been sentenced to a prison island for assassinating his commanding officer. Run by The Warden (Michael Lerner), this prison is filled with society’s most violent and feared criminals and split between the The Outsiders, who are ruled by Marek (Stuart Wilson) and The Insiders, commanded Father (Lance Henriksen) and his followers Hankins (Ernie Hudson) and Casey (Kevin Dillon).

Robbins doesn’t care to join anyone. He just wants to escape. Yet by stealing a weapon from The Outsiders, he’s unleashed a civil war that could destroy everyone.

Based on the 1987 novel The Penal Colony by Richard Herley, this movie was directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEyeThe Legend of Zorro) and really feels way too close to reality. Beyond being set in 2022, prisons are run by corporations and prisoners are seen as assets. Hmm.

There are plenty of stars in this and tons of action. Somehow, some way, I’ve never seen this before and was pretty entertained by it.

The Unearthed Classics DVD of No Escape has the original theatrical trailer, TV spots and an alternate beginning. You can get it from MVD.

SLASHER MONTH: Puppet Master 5 (1994)

They called this the Final Chapter but come on. When has that ever been the case when a movie gets that tagged on?

Sutekh is a demon from hell out to destroy all of the puppets, new hero Rick (Gordon Currie) is in jail for the murders of the researchers from Puppet Master 4 and Dr. Jennings (Ian Ogilvy), the new director of the Artificial Intelligence research project, just wants Toulon’s secret.

Blade, Pinhead, Jester, Tunneler, Torch, Six Shooter and Decapitron are the heroes this time. It’s funny to see characters that once killed humans saving them, but nearly all horror characters are doomed to become good guys at some point.

The same team that made the last film — which was shot back to back with this one — are back on hand, like director Jeff Burr and writer Charles Band (who had some assistance from Steven E. Carr, Todd Henschell, Keith S. Payson, Jo Duffy and Douglas Aarniokoski). The cost-cutting is still here, as the music comes from Meridian and Robot Wars. The crew also had all of their paychecks bounce on the same day and walked out together.

I wonder how Clu Gulager felt about all of this when he did his cameo.

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE DAY 2: Dinosaur from the Deep (1994)

DAY 2: A Horror Film Featuring Non-Avian Dinosaurs and Mezozic Reptiles.

Norbert Moutier also made Ogroff, a shot on video slasher. Moutier was an accountant who contributed to the zines Monster Bis and Le Petit bédéraste du 20e siècle before starting to make his own movies in 1982, often serving as the director, screenwriter, producer and sometimes even acting. He quit accounting and started a comic book and movie store, which really feels like a dream life.

Somehow, he got some of the biggest genre personalities in France to be in his movies, like Howard Vernon, Jean-Pierre Putters, Quélou Parente, Christophe Bier, Christophe Lemaire and Christian Letargat. In this movie, he got Jean Rollin to play Professeur Nolan, the leader of this strange experiment in which secret agents work alongside time travel scientists who are in the past to study dinosaurs. Those secret agents bring a war criminal with them to execute because killing is illegal in the future. They’re using a spaceship to get there and also dumping tons of trash, using our past Earth as a trash pit.

Obviously, everything I knew about time travel is wrong.

Moutier also convinced Tina Aumont (Fellini’s SatyriconTorsoArcana) to be in this movie. There’s even a striptease scene without nudity, which seems a strange thing to do when dinosaurs are attacking, but when you meet a cave girl, you just watch and be polite.

As for those dinosaurs, they are often rubbery puppets and other times straight up dinosaur toys moved in stop motion. Keep in mind this movie was made the same year as Jurassic Park. If you thought that Carnosaur was the nadir of dinosaur movies, you’ll look at this and say, “Yes, the tar pit does deeper.”

Most of all, this movie is worth watching because Rollin is in the lead. I can only imagine that he kept talking to Moutier, the auteur, and saying, “You sure we can’t just a lot of fog and have a nude vampire woman look depressed and slowly walk through this scene?”

Also: the entire film was shot with the camera audio, so there’s non-stop hiss all over everything.

Magical.

You can watch this on YouTube.

CANNON MONTH 2: Death Wish 5: The Face of Death (1994)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This 21st Century Film Corporation movie first was on the site on November 8, 2018. If you want to check out more on the rest of the Death Wish series, click here.

You think Paul Kersey has learned his lesson about love and loss? No way, pal. Now back in New York City in the witness protection program and going by Paul Stewart, he’s keeping a low profile by going to fashion shows with his super hot girlfriend (Lesley-Anne Down) who also has a young daughter named Chelsea who is surely doomed. Come on, everyone. We’ve made it this far. We may as well watch Death Wish 5: The Face of Death.

It turns out that Olivia has been paying protection money to her evil mobster ex-husband Tommy O’Shea, who is Michael Parks! Paul confronts the guy at the fashion show, but one of the villain’s goons shows him his revolver. He tries to do the right thing and brings in a District Attorney.

Paul again proves he has no short or long-term memory by proposing to Olivia, who doesn’t understand what we all have accepted: God hates Paul Kersey like He has never hated another of His creations. Excusing herself to the powder room to piddle in absolute joy after being asked to be the life partner of a man who has personally murdered thousands of scumwads, one of Tommy’s men named Flakes (Robert Joy, Lizard from The Hills Have Eyes and, as my wife would exclaim loudly, Jim from Desperately Seeking Susan) shoves her face so hard into a mirror that she’s disfigured for life. Even surgery won’t fix her face. Such is the life of a woman who gets involved with Paul Kersey.

After meeting two cops, Mickey King (Windom Earle from Twin Peaks!) and Janice Omori, the female cop dies in the very next scene. She must have gotten a little too close to Paul. In the hospital, King tells Kersey not to go back to his old ways. King tells him that he’s been on this case for 16 years. “16 years? That’s a long time to be failing,” replies Kersey.

Even after getting out of the hospital, Olivia still has to deal with the life she’s chosen as more henchmen come after Paul, shooting her in the back and finally ending her suffering. Well, it turns out that Tommy runs all of the police and has taken his daughter back, so Paul goes full on 007 by killing one goon with poisoned cannoli and another with a remote-controlled soccer ball! At this point, this film has gone from boring to right where I want it to be.

What follows is exactly what we want to see: a slasher movie with the righteous Paul going old man nutzoid on every crook there is left, shooting them into sewing machines, slashing their faces with broken bottles and shotgun blasting them into acid baths. At the end, he walks away with his dead fiancee’s daughter, yelling to the cop who couldn’t keep up, “Hey Lieutenant, if you need any help, give me a call.”

After the last three movies coming from Cannon Films, which was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, this one comes from Menahem Golan’s new 21st Century Film Corporation. They were having trouble making money and figured that a new Death Wish was going to be a sure-fire hit. Incredibly, for reasons no one is sure about, Bronson and Golan weren’t speaking during the filming, so they’d only communicate through Allan A. Goldstein.

Sadly, the film failed at the box office (but it did fine on home video). Golan planned to continue the film series without Bronson (!) and was planning Death Wish 6: The New Vigilante before 21st Century Film Corporation went bankrupt. This would be Bronson’s last theatrical film, as he was 71 years old as this was being filmed.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY BOX SET RELEASE: seaQuest DSV – The Complete Series (1993-1996)

Get ready for the adventures of the seaQuest DSV 4600, a deep submergence vehicle of the United Earth Oceans Organization (UEO). The UEO? Well, that group was created in 2018 — in the continuity of this show — after a battle within the Livingston Trench.

Designed by retired naval captain Nathan Bridger (Roy Scheider), the series begins as humanity finds itself out of natural resources and begins to mine the ocean floor. Several gold rush-style mining communities now exist within this unexplored territory and the seaQuest seeks to protect them from other countries and sometimes each other.

Bridger just wanted to stay retired, particularly after his son Robert died in a naval battle and he promised his dying wife that he would never go back to the sea. But you know…they keep bringing pulling him back.

This show debuted to great fanfare, with the first season’s plots all about oceanographic research, environmental issues, politics and the interpersonal relationships of the crew. By the end of the first season, low ratings led to a cliffhanger where Bridger sacrificed the ship to prevent an ecological disaster.

And that’s where things get weird.

When it was decided the show would come back, NBC and Universal moved production from Los Angeles to Orlando, which led Stephanie Beacham, who played Dr. Kristin Westphalen, to leave the show (all of the battles between the producers and network didn’t help either). It’s also why Stacy Haiduk (Lieutenant Commander Katherine Hitchcock) left, but Royce D. Applegate (Chief Manilow Crocker) and John D’Aquino (Lieutenant Benjamin Krieg ) were let go because NBC wanted a younger crew.

The original crew also had Lucas Wolenczak (Jonathan Brandis), Commander Jonathan Ford (Don Franklin), Lieutenant Tim O’Neill (Ted Raimi) and Sensor Chief Miguel Ortiz (Marco Sanchez). They’d be joined by the telepathic Dr. Wendy Smith (Rosalind Allen), weapons officer Lieutenant James Brody (Edward Kerr), genetically engineered gill-breathing Seaman Anthony Piccolo (Michael DeLuise), Lieutenant Lonnie Henderson (Kathy Evison) and Dagwood (Peter DeLuise), a GELF (genetically engineered life form) who served as the ship’s janitor.

Whereas season one often had serious science — and each episode ended with facts from oceanographer Dr. Bob Ballard, the technical advisor for the show, inspiration from Bridger and the man who actually discovered the wrecks of Titanic, Bismarck and Yorktown — other than finding an ancient spaceship, season two had a monster of the week feel to compete for better ratings. Demons, aliens, fire-breathing worms, the god Neptune, time travel, a prehistoric crocodile and so much more was, well, too much for Scheider to handle.

He referred to the new storylines, giving multiple interviews to the Orlando Sentinel where he said the show as “Saturday afternoon 4 o’clock junk for children. Just junk — old, tired, time-warp robot crap” and “…childish trash…I am very bitter about it. I feel betrayed… It’s not even good fantasy. I mean, Star Trek does this stuff much better than we can do it. To me the show is now 21 Jump Street meets Star Dreck.” That 21 Jump Street dig must have been directed at the DeLuise brothers, who were once on that show before joining the cast.

By the end of the second season, it seemed like the show would be canceled — yet again — so the final episode “Splashdown” has the crew being abducted by aliens, then fighting in a civil war that destroys the seaQuest — yet again! — and everyone dead.

And yet the third season happened!

Scheider requested to be released from his contract with NBC but was asked to appear in a few more episodes. Edwin Kerr asked to quit as well and was asked to stay long enough to die in season 3’s “SpinDrift,” while NBC’s scheduling — which contributed to low ratings as the series moved around all the time — caused the episode “Brainlock” to air with his character still alive.

Now, only Jonathan Brandis, Don Franklin and Ted Raimi stayed on, as if the show was a band playing ribfest with hardly any original members left (even Dr. Bob Ballard was gone). Now called seaQuest 2032, the crew arrived ten years back on Earth ten years later, Bridger retired and Michael Ironside came on as Captain Oliver Hudson. He immediately set some boundaries: “You won’t see me fighting any man-eating glowworms, rubber plants, 40-foot crocodiles and I don’t talk to Darwin.”

Oh yeah — Darwin was a talking dolphin voice by the man who is every talking animal, Frank Welker.

Elise Neal also joined the show as Lieutenant J.J. Fredericks as storylines moved more toward corporate greed running the world and political tension. Only 13 episodes aired before finally, the show was done for good.

There were model kits, trading cards, video games and even Playmates action figures (check out this article on seaQuest Vault), but the show always struggled to catch on with viewers, if they could find it.

Going back and watching this again in box set form, it’s fascinating to see how the show changes and struggles for direction in a condensed format. Week by week, it’s not as strange. When binged, it seems absolutely deranged. I’m glad in some way that I wasn’t in love with the show when it aired. It would have broken my heart.

The Mill Creek blu ray box set of seaQuest DSV has every episode of the show, plus new interviews and featurettes with the series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, as well as the directors and crew. Plus, you get several deleted scenes. Get it from Deep Discount.

CANNON MONTH 2: Chain of Command (1994)

Merrill Ross (Michael Dudikoff) was once a Green Beret but now he’s the employee of an  company in the Middle Eastern nation of Qumiri. The company gets attacked, his co-workers are taken hostage and Ross must battle through rebels and the CIA to make sure that his friends get out alive.

The bad guy is Rawlings (Todd Curtis), who you will love as much as you will hate. His permed up hair is astoudning, as is his devotion to his craft, explaining to those he’s torturing or fighting just how he plans on using their nerve endings to kill them. The scene where he explains the pleasure and torture zones to Keren Tishman is just…deranged. In the best of ways.

Meanwhile, R. Lee Ermey is the Texas oil tycoon causing so much of this insanity to happen.

Dudikoff is way against type in this. Smoking, drinking, swearing. But then he mows down twenty people without reloading and you realize, yeah, this is the movie you turned up for.

This is the kind of movie where Dudikoff stabs a dude with a pool cue and the villain responds with, “My mama said there’d be days like this.”

Though Chain of Command was released in other countries in 1994, its U.S. video release wasn’t until January of 1996, making it the final Cannon movie released in America.

CANNON MONTH 2: Hellbound (1994)

Directed by Aaron Norris and written by Ian Rabin, Anthony Ridio and Brent Friedman, this movie beat End of Days to screens by five years and allows viewers to watch Chuck Norris sidekick a demon, which is something I highly love.

Chicago cops Frank Shatter (Chuck Norris) and Calvin Jackson (Calvin Levels, Adventures In Babysitting) have a case that takes them the whole way to Israel where they end up coming up against Satan’s henchman Prosatanos (Christopher Neame), who has been alive since he was stopped by King Richard (David Robb) back during the Crusades and trapped in a tomb under the Earth.

Prosatanos’ scepter was shattered by the King into nine pieces which were sent to nine holy places around the world. Now, Prosatanos must battle Shatter and Jackson for the fate of the world.

You’ll pray to the dark lord by the end of this movie that Jackson is murdered, as he keeps yelling things like “Either that guy is nuttier than a Snickers or there is some real heavy shit going down!”

Also: Frank Shatter is the best Chuck Norris name ever and the fake name I will be using at every restaurant where I must give my name for the rest of my life.

VISUAL VENGEANCE BLU RAY REVIEW: L.A. AIDS Jabber (1994)

UPDATE: You can watch this movie on Tubi.

Just the name L.A. AIDS Jabber is going to offend you or make you want to see this or perhaps even both. Originally released as Jabber in the 90s in the most limited of releases — in the thousands and all self-distributed by creator Drew Godderis — this is the story of Jeff (Jason Majik) and what happens when he finds out that the illness that he’s been feeling could very well be a death sentence.

1994 is a very different place than 2022, but then again, is it so different? We’re still dealing with a pandemic that has been politicized, except that when AIDS was unleashed, it was originally thought to be some form of cancer that only impacted homosexual men (shades of the media as monkeypox became this year’s illness) and any stories of straight men or women didn’t appear on the news.

So when Jeff finds out from his doctor that he has HIV, the disease that causes AIDS, he’s certain that this is the end of his world. Then why shouldn’t it be the end of the world for everyone he can take down along the way?

Jeff gets the bright idea to start filing his blood into syringes and tracking down everyone who wronged him, then injecting them with his infernal hemoglobin. And thus we have a shot on video movie — by necessity, as you can learn in my exclusive interview with Drew — that is filled with shock upon shock.

The thing that’s most astounding about this movie is that despite being SOV it doesn’t seem like a low end production. Yeah, it’s sleazy — would you expect a movie with this title to be any other way? — but it also explores the life of the cops on the case as well as what drove Jeff to go for broke. And man, the soundtrack! It sounds amazing!

Back in 2000, Snopes explored the urban legend that drug addicts were placing their used, HIV-infused needles into pay phone coin slots in order to infect others, as well as another story about AIDS terrorists leaving HIV needles in movie theater seats. Yeah whatever, crazy people of the world. L.A. AIDS Jabber got there first. And of course, it did it better.

Visual Vegenace has put out the first wide release of the movie — available from MVD — since it was self-distributed by director Drew Godderis himself and the blu ray is packed with newly produced bonus features and commentary from the original creators such as:

  • Director’s Introduction to Movie (2021)
  • Commentary Track with Director Drew Godderis
  • Lethal Injection: The Making of L.A. AIDS Jabber with Director Drew Godderis
  • Bleeding The Pack: An Interview with Lead Actor Jason Majick
  • L.A. AIDS Jabber – 2021 Locations Visit
  • Interview with Blood Diner Director Jackie Kong
  • Growing Up On Set: Justin Godderis
  • Actress Joy Yurada Interview
  • Cinematographer Rick Bradach Interview
  • Interview with Actor Gene Webber
  • Liner notes by Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop Magazine
  • L.A. AIDS Jabber Photo Gallery
  • Blood Video Fanzine Essay by Billy Burgess
  • L.A. AIDS Jabber Trailer (2021)
  • Limited Edition Slipcase — FIRST PRINTING ONLY
  • Collectible folded mini-poster
  • “Stick Your Own” VHS stickers
  • Reversible BR sleeve featuring original VHS art
  • Visual Vengeance Trailers

For more details on the label and updates on new releases – as well as news on upcoming releases – follow Visual Vengeance on social media – IG, Facebook or twitter

TWITTER @VisualVenVideo

INSTAGRAM visualvenvideo

FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/visualvenvideo

VINEGAR SYNDROME BLU RAY RELEASE: The Birds II: Land’s End (1994)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on December 23, 2021, but now Vinegar Syndrome has a new release that’s been newly scanned & restored in 2K from its 35mm interpositive, complete with a commentary track with film historians Amanda Reyes and Sam Pancake, “Don’t Remake Hitchcock Movies” – an extensive making-of documentary featuring interviews with its cast and crew, “The Silence of the Birds” – an interview with composer Ron Ramin, “The Locations of Birds II” – a locations featurette with production assistant Craig Edwards, a still gallery and reversible cover artwork.

Look, I don’t write these articles to beat up on movies, but this is like shooting dead pigeons in a barrel.

Some facts:

Rather than playing Melanie from Hitchcock’s The Birds, Tippi Hedrin plays Helen, the owner of a local store that knows all about the birds and remembers the events of the original. Why is she a different character? Is she there under witness protection? Did Hedrin only do this movie to get a check for her animal charity? Was this a worse experience than Roar?

This is not the first — or the last — sequel that Rick Rosenthal would make, what with being part of the best Halloween sequel and the worst. He made sure his name was not on this movie, as Alan Smithee is credited.

Ken and Jim Wheat, who wrote this movie, made a bunch of other sequels, like Ewoks: The Battle for EndorThe Fly IIA Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream MasterIt Came from Outer Space II and The Stepford Husbands. They’re probably better known for The Silent Scream and Pitch Black.

Why would this movie be made? Was Showtime obsessed with sequels? Is it worth sticking around for the last ten minutes where seagulls go nuts and most of the cast gets killed? Would Hitchcock hate this movie? Did he once give Melanie Griffith a doll of her mother inside a coffin? Am I obsessed by movies that most people know better than to even try to watch?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and forever.

PS: Craig Edwards worked on this movie and shared this amazing article about his time on the set.

Arnold Week: Junior (1994)

It’s just a decade or so between Arnold Schwarzenegger being a Terminator and him being the world’s first pregnant man, so never let it be said that the man has no range. Teaming with Ivan Reitman again after Twins and Kindergarten Cop, this may not have had the same magic as those films, but it has some moments of fun in it nonetheless.

Research geneticist Dr. Alex Hesse (Schwarzenegger) and Dr. Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito, teaming again with Arnold) have invented Expectane, a fertility drug that reduces miscarriages.  Until the FDA approves it, they can’t test it, so Hesse loses his job and geneticist Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson) comes on board, which convinces Hesse to try the experiment on himself, using the egg named Junior which unbeknowst to him has been stole from Reddin by Arbogast.

Meanwhile, Arbogast’s ex-wife Angela (Pamela Reed) is having a baby — a member of Aerosmith’s touring company is the father — at the same time as Hesse, who keeps pushing the experiment until he starts showing. The doctor team has to keep their boss Dr. Noah Banes (Frank Langella) from taking the credit for the first male baby, which if it were a thing, there’d be all sorts of birth rights.

Out of the three movies that Arnold made with Reitman, this is his favorite. Or that’s what IMDB says, because I’ve heard the same thing about Kindergarten Cop.