Blood Hook, Terror, and Blue Vengeance are all new to Blu-ray with 2K restorations!
Vinegar Syndrome’s monthly releases are always worthwhile blasts from the past as at the very least they’re guaranteed to introduce you to at least one or two new-to-you movies. They typically range across the genres, but April’s Blu-ray releases share the common theme of horror to some degree or another. One’s a fairly unique slasher, the next is a supernatural thriller, and the third features a killer fueled by his love for Satan.
Keep reading for my review of Vinegar Syndrome’s latest releases!
Blood Hook (1986)
Peter was just a boy when his grandfather fell into the lake and disappeared, but seventeen years later Peter returns to the family cabin with some friends for a weekend of fun, fishing, and frolicking. Two out of the three are cut short, though, when locals and visitors alike start dying at the wrong end of a murderous angler’s fishing pole.
The setup to this oddball slice of rural slasher fun is as generic as they come — group of friends head to cabin in the woods and begin dying — but the film’s numerous charms come into play after the stage is set. The mysterious, gloved killer is stalking newcomers and locals alike, and his weapon of choice? A fishing pole.
The killer’s handiwork is spread throughout the film, but it takes time for people to truly notice as bodies aren’t found and the quiet town is busy hosting a Muskie fishing competition. There’s a lot going on here with various character introductions, interactions, and violations, and while there’s never quite a dull moment there are plenty that don’t feel the least bit necessary. They pad out the film to an overly long 111 minutes which threatens to see it overstay its welcome, but happily, the kills, characters, and story beats keep things moving.
It’s billed as a comedy, but this isn’t a laugh out loud type and instead settles for quirky townsfolk and goofy visitors. The bloody bits run the gamut from cuts to detached limbs with the best stuff landing in the film’s back half. Still, it’s easy to imagine this being far-better remembered if it lost twenty minutes and added at least one stellar kill. The damn thing’s engaging on the character front, and performances are strong enough to hold viewers’ attention even as they’re immersed in a fish-catching contest. This is a slasher with personality to spare, and while a trim wouldn’t have hurt the end result is still a film you’ll enjoy watching.
Vinegar Syndrome makes that enjoyment even easier with a beautiful picture and a loaded Blu-ray. The disc’s extras include a trailer, still gallery, and the following supplements.
- Hook, Line, and Sinker: An Interview with Director Jim Mallon [30:01] – He discusses the film’s production including its initial 300-page script, interacting with townspeople in the small community where they filmed, working with kids, and more.
- First Blood Hook: An Interview with Actress Lisa Todd [18:42] – This was Todd’s first role, and she discusses her early career and the production itself.
- What’s in the Tacklebox?: An Interview with FX Artist Jim Suthers [23:11] – He recalls his love of monster movies and makeup as well as pulling off various effects on a limited budget.
- Audio Interview with Marsha Kahm [29:28] – The film’s cinematographer and editor recalls her work on the production.
Buy Blood Hook on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome
The movie business can be a tough one, but while James isn’t happy with his latest production there’s something deeper bugging him. The story is based on his own family — more specifically, it’s based on a supposed curse made against his family centuries ago by a witch who was burned alive — and while most dismiss it as legend James isn’t quite as convinced. Members of his family met and meet violent ends. When a party gets out of hand his newly arrived cousin triggers a new round of terror, but is she simply mad or has the long-dead witch returned to wreak more of her vengeance?
Director Norman J. Warren has stated numerous times (including again here in the special features) that a major influence on this film was a cinema screening of Dario Argento’s brand new picture Suspiria. That’s evident in the finished product here as Warren applies boldly colored lighting choices alongside the unexplained acts of violence and incidents of weirdness.
And in keeping with the filmmakers’ excitement over Suspiria, there’s plenty of scenes involving unexplained weirdness. One killing sees black-gloved hands wielding a knife while the next involves a car levitating forty feet off the ground. What could be causing it? Maybe that’s not all that important.
Warren instead invests his short running time towards set-pieces that see his characters on the receiving end of trouble, and he does a fine job keeping viewers visually engaged even as the explanations are absent. It also does a good job leaving us suspicious of at least two of the characters, and the suspense holds before giving way to a wonderfully over the top denouement.
The disc features a newly 2K restored picture along with the following extra features.
- Audio Interview with Director Norman J. Warren – Kat Ellinger, editor in chief of Diabolique Magazine interviews the filmmaker about his career, and it runs over the feature as a separate audio track.
- Interview with director Norman J. Warren [20:34]
- Interview with writer David McGillivray [12:47] – He’s kept a diary since he was twelve, and he reads from it regarding the night he pitched the story idea. McGillivray also talks about Suspiria‘s massive influence on the film.
- Interview with actor Carolyn Courage [5:03] – Anecdotes regarding fake blood, floating car stunts, and her nickname from the set.
- Interview with actor Tricia Walsh [8:49] – She recalls disappointing the crew by filming her supposed “nude” scene in bra and panties.
- Interview with actor Mary Maude [8:33]
- Interview with actor Peter Craze [10:06]
- Deleted/extended scenes [4:46]
Buy Terror on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome
Blue Vengeance (1989)
A murderer has escaped from jail leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, and only one cop is on his trail. Unfortunately for Mickey, he’s a disgraced cop with burned bridges in his past, so when he asks for help in his pursuit of the man named Trex he’s left empty-handed. That’s not going to stop him, though, and as Trex continues killing off members of an old metal band — he loves one of their satanic classics and is dismayed to learn the band has sold out and moved on while he rotted in jail — Mickey teams up with a young photographer to bring him down for good.
Director Chris Ingvordsen teases a bit of the horrific with his cop vs psycho thriller in both the brutality of the attacks and the visions in Trex’s brain. He sees himself as a medieval warrior battling minions of good (evil?), and it plays almost like an evil version of Mazes & Monsters (1982) as Trex envisions it all while still fully knowing he’s causing mayhem in the real world.
The film stands apart from many in its genre/budget range thanks to its wildly energetic cinematography accomplished through true guerilla style shenanigans. A violent run through the NYC subway system? A foot chase across the Brooklyn Bridge? Ingvordsen and friends make it happen through sheer necessity, and the sequences jolt the film to life anytime it threatens to feel too mired in the deranged mindstates of its hero and antagonist.
Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray looks quite good with its 2K restoration of the film’s original 35mm negative, and it includes the following special features.
- Commentary with director Chris Ingvordsen and Michael Gingold
- Commentary with actor John Weiner
- Making Blue Vengeance [19:26] – Director Chris Ingvordsen and his fellow cast/crew members discuss the film’s production as well as their overall approach to guerilla filmmaking on the streets of NYC.
- On Blue Vengeance [13:28] – Michael Gingold interviews director Chris Ingvordsen
- The First Man [1:23:13] – Co-writer Danny Kuchuck 1996 feature film
Buy Blue Vengeance on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome
Related Topics: Home Video