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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by David Winters
USA 1982

 

New York cabbie Vinny Durand (Joe Spinell, MANIAC) has dreams of Hollywood fame, and his muse is Jana Bates (Caroline Munro, SLAUGHTER HIGH), the "Queen of Horror Films". Leaving his job and his mother (Spinnel's real mother Filomena Spagnuolo, STARDUST MEMORIES) behind, Vinny takes off to Cannes - where Jana is promoting her new film "Scream", produced by her ex-husband Bret Bates (Glenn Jacobson, TRICK OR TREATS) and directed by new beau Alan Cunningham (Munro's husband Judd Hamilton, A TALENT FOR LOVING) - with the goal of making her the star of his horror masterpiece. He naturally gets the brush-off as he tries to make contact with her at various events, and assumes a series of elaborate disguises in order to get closer to her. When people start dying and disappearing around her, the police and Alan believe it to be an elaborate publicity stunt. Alan decides that Jana needs to get away and spirits her off to the Chateau Pelly, which proves to be an ideal location for Vinny's horror movie...

An early example of recursive slasher filmmaking, THE LAST HORROR FILM - also known as FANATIC - is an uneven though entertaining mix of humor and horror (tying in the question of the influence of violence in cinema on real life directly with the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, even more so because of Vinny's job as a cabbie). Spinell is typically committed, even if the anguish of his character fails to overcome the more absurd aspects of the film (like Jana being up for best actress against Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, and Meryl Streep), but one can see why Spinell started to favor showy lead roles in films like this and MANIAC (and debatably THE UNDERTAKER) over character bits in bigger films. The surprise climactic twist has held up surprisingly well, with the revealed title of Vinny's horror film a subtle clue. Reuniting Spinell and Munro, the film is something of a follow-up to MANIAC - and not its proposed direct sequel by Buddy Giovinazzo (COMBAT SHOCK) - and even anticipates their next collaboration in Luigi Cozzi's STAR CRASH when Vinny expresses a wish to follow up his horror film with a space film starring Jana. The film takes full advantage of the resources afforded by the Cannes location and festival setting, guerilla and authorized shoots, and picturesque settings, with plenty of extras including plenty of opportunities for T&A via the topless beaches, and uncredited "cameos" by Isabelle Adjani, Marcello Mastroianni, and Karen Black as well as a credited one by LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS' Robin Leach. It also gets to place its film-within-a-film in the enviable company of festival-submitted films like Wajda's MAN OF IRON, John Waters' POLYESTER, István Szabó's MEPHISTO, Karel Reisz's THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN, and Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION), John Boorman's EXCALIBUR, Christian de Chalonge's post-apocalyptic MALEVIL, and Ken Russell's nearly-made THE BEETHOVEN SECRET (which the director subsequently novelized as "Beethoven Confidential").

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 9 October 1982 (Spain - Sitges Film Festival)

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Comparison:

Troma - Region 0 - PAL vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Troma Screen Caps!

(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT)

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Troma

Region 0 - PAL

88 Films
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:27:54 1:27:37.126
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.44 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 / 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,739,453,138 bytes

Feature: 23,052,785,664 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.0 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Troma

 

Bitrate:

 

88 Films Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles None None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Troma

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
•  Audio commentary with associate producer Luke Walter, moderated by Evan Husney
• Optional Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Studios and creator of
• 'My Best Maniac' conversation with Joe Spinell's friend Luke Walter (4:3; 23:46)
• Interview with 'Maniac' director William Lustig (4:3; 3:38)
• 'Mister Robbie' promotional trailer for the never produced 'Maniac II: Mister Robbie' (4:3; 8:03)
• Still Gallery
• 'Fanatic' TV spots (4:3; 0:10 + 0:30 + 0:36)
• 'The Last Horror Film' Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:15)
• Luke Walter's Photos
• 'The Soul of Troma' (4:3; 1:50)
• Trailers for 'Poultrygeist', 'Combat Shock', 'The Toxic Avenger', 'Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD', 'Blood,
• Boobs, and Beast', and 'The Seduction of Dr. Fugazzi'
• DVD Credits

DVD Release Date: 19 May 2009
Amaray

Chapters 9
 

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

 

1.85:1 / 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,739,453,138 bytes

Feature: 23,052,785,664 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.0 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
•  Audio commentary with associate producer Luke Walter, moderated by Evan Husney

• Optional Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Studios and creator of Toxic Avenger (2:25)
• 'My Best Maniac' conversation with Joe Spinell's friend Luke Walter (4:3; 23:51)
• Interview with 'Maniac' director William Lustig (4:3; 3:42)

Caroline Munro Q+A (11:07)
• 'Mister Robbie' promotional trailer for the never produced 'Maniac II: Mister Robbie' (4:3; 8:06)
• 'Fanatic' TV spots (4:3; 1:18)
• 
88 Films Trailer Reel (21:55)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: July 21st 2014
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: 88 Films - Region FREE Blu-ray - July 2014: The Blu-ray feature starts with a screen that states: "'This transfer has been derived from various sources, including the original negative so there is some variance in quality. Additionally the film has shrunk in places leading to slight jumps on some cuts. Everything has been done to minimize this as much as possible and some additional dirt and scratch removal has been performed at Pinewood Studios Post Production department. We hope you enjoy the presentation." It's easy to see this was a limited production and I have no way of determining how theatrically accurate this 1080P is by comparison. But I can see that there is a pretty big gap between this and the Troma interlaced SD rendering.  Eric reminds us "Previously released by Troma in a cut version under the alternate title THE FANATIC in 2000, their uncut 2009 reissue packs on the extras, but the transfer itself is really nothing to write home about."

So the Blu-ray is 1.85:1 as opposed to the DVD's 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Even though some scenes are dramatically superior on the Blu-ray - the film itself has an inconsistent appearance, but I'd say 88 Films BD is at least watchable to some degree where I wouldn't last long with the DVD. Audio is lossless via a linear PCM and fares well-enough to support the film, but has a few production issues well with dialogue sounding scattered. Extras duplicate many of the Troma ones (and lose others) discussed below by Eric - but add a 12-minute Caroline Munro Q+A, which should be interesting to her fans.

For fans of this brand of cinema - this has got to be a revelation in relation to the Troma DVD. It's weak, grimy, obvious, cheesy horror - but that can also be appealing in the right mood. To each his own.

Gary W. Tooze

 

***

ON THE DVD: The film can be viewed with or without an introduction by Troma spokesman Lloyd Kaufman, as well as an audio commentary track with Spinell's close friend Luke Walter (who first appeared with him in NIGHTHAWKS and appears here briefly as one of Jana's security detail) who discusses the shoot as well as Spinell's relationships with personalities like Francis Ford Coppola and the like on more prestigious productions. He describes the origins of the project with Munro's husband Judd Hamilton (who gave him a 16mm camera to shoot making-of footage and also put him in charge of producing the New York scenes). Walter also gives a vivid portrait of Spinell - who was heavily invested (figuratively) in the film and very guerilla-minded (despite the budget) and stole shots where necessary - as well as Cannes in 1981 (moderator Evan Husney also points out the time capsule aspect of the film while also prompting Walter to elaborate on stories he related elsewhere).

There is some overlap with the commentary in the featurette "My Best Maniac" as Walter recalls his friendship with the late actor - and shooting in Cannes, as well as Spinell's death (including a visit to his grave). Blue Undergrond's William Lustig - director of MANIAC - appears in a shorter interview, recalling that Hamilton brought in the finishing funds for his film and therefore was seen as being partially responsible for its success and was given money to produce a MANIAC-esque film. Lustig was also asked to step in as director when he arrived in Cannes but turned it down because he was prepping another film and also felt that the film was disorganized. The disc also includes Buddy Giovinazzo's promotional short for a sequel to MANIAC - in which Spinell (torn limb from limb in the earlier film) plays a psychotic children's entertainer - as well as trailers of the feature under the FANATIC and THE LAST HORROR FILM titles and a gallery of photographs taken by Luke Walter of Spinell.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


 Menus
(
Troma - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT)
 

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Troma - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


 

Report Card:

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: same

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Troma

Region 0 - PAL

88 Films
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

 




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