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directed by James Hong and William Rice
USA 1989


Dr. Elson Po (James Hong, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) is a world-famous winemaker who has been sustaining his life for centuries with a formula whose principle ingredients are jade from a magic amulet and the human blood. When aspiring actress Jezebel (1982 Playboy Playmate Karen Witter, BURIED ALIVE) catches Po's eye, he arranges with her fey agent Paul (Karl-Heinz Teuber, AMADEUS) to bring her and some extra victims to his island under the pretense of auditioning for a film project to be shot in his mansion (the Dunsmuir-Hellman estate also featured prominently in BURNT OFFERINGS and PHANTASM). While Po grooms Jezebel to be his bride - after consigning his unfaithful spouse to his dungeon - reporter Jeremy (Michael Wong) investigates Po's background and his connection to a like-named nineteenth-century winemaker in the Yucatan who disappeared amidst controversy. Meanwhile, Po wreaks gory mystical havoc on the other guests - including some insect barfing that would have been executed with more grue and gusto in any Hong Kong exploitation flick from the same decade - seemingly just because he can since it would be easier to just drug them and chain them up if he wanted them for their blood, and the vineyard itself is full of the walking corpses of his previous victims whose restless spirits won't stay buried no matter how much "sacred earth" Po's minions douse them with.

With direction credited to Hong and production manager William Rice, New World Pictures pick-up THE VINEYARD exhibits quite a bit of evidence of having been heavily re-edited into its current form. The end credit features composing credits for individual soundtrack cues rather than songs while the opening credits cite only Paul Francis Witt as composer (Witt is better known as a orchestrator/conductor than a composer, collaborating regularly with Christopher Young on a handful of his early New World assignments). The film's few optical effects also bear a striking resemblance to the type used in HELLRAISER's climax (which also underwent heavy post-production when New World signed on as co-producer). Characters disappear for long periods and turn up abruptly, chunks of the story seem to be missing or simply glossed over, and at some point there seems to have been an attempt either to steer the tone towards black comedy or possibly away from it with more straightforward horror and slasher elements. Some characters also seemed to have been reconfigured with Jezebel's initial love interest Lucas (Lars Wanberg) spending far more time with her roommate Nancy (Cheryl Madsen), while Jeremy and Jezebel argue over his suspicion and possible jealousy of her flirtation with Po; and the fact that Lucas is supposed to be a martial artist doesn't lead to a showdown with Po's chief enforcer (the film's stunt and martial arts choreographer Michael Quion). The end result is not predictable and certainly never boring; and viewers may be curious or shocked to see Hong - the prolific go-to-guy for Hollywood film and TV's concept of the "oriental" long before his memorable turn in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA - groping scantily-clad women and indulging in eighties horror cliches (although most will be unaware that his previous little-known directorial efforts were the seventies sexploitation films HOT CONNECTIONS and TEEN LUST, and he followed up THE VINEYARD with a DTV Shannon Tweed erotic thriller SCANDALOUS BEHAVIOR.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: July 1989 (USA)

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DVD Review: ArrowDrome / Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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ArrowDrome / Arrow Video

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:29:30

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.66 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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


Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: ArrowDrome / Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer (16:9; 3:48)
• Reversible Cover
• Liner Notes Booklet by Calum Waddell

DVD Release Date: June 10th, 2013

Chapters 12



Presumably - like most of the US and UK DVD releases of Lakeshore's New World holdings - Arrow Video's anamorphic, single-layer disc (on their ArrowDrome imprint) utilizes the digital master prepared circa 2001. It is colorful - particularly the neon opticals - and relatively sharp given the eighties filmstock and the various degrees of filtering in the cinematography, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 rendering of the Ultra-Stereo mix favors the score, musical stings, and occasional jump scares.

The only video extra is a trailer (which seems more like a lengthy promotional reel), but Anchor Bay's 2001 Region 1 DVD and Image Entertainment's more recent domestic disc are similarly slim on extras. For UK viewers, the Arrow package will perhaps be more attractive due to the inclusion of their customary reversible cover with original artwork and liner notes booklet (by Calum Waddell).

  - Eric Cotenas


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ArrowDrome / Arrow Video

Region 2 - PAL



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