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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Kidnapping > Murder > Gangster > Horror > Psychotics > British > Giallo > Erotic > Photography > It > A Lonely Place To Die (2011/E1)/Killer’s Moon (1978/Redeption)/Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975/Blue Underground)/Virgin Witch (1972/Redeption/Blu-rays)

A Lonely Place To Die (2011/E1)/Killer’s Moon (1978/Redeption)/Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975/Blue Underground)/Virgin Witch (1972/Redeption/Blu-rays)

 

Picture: B-/B-/B/B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C-/C+/B-/C     Films: C/C+/B-/C+

 

 

Low budget thrillers old and new have arrived on Blu-ray and they all have something to offer, even when they don’t work.

 

 

The one new release is Julian Gibley’s A Lonely Place To Die (2011) is yet another people in the woods (or somewhere far away) thriller, this time with people who love to mountain climb.  From Britain, the gang and their trip seem like any other one until they find a scared young girl who speaks another language and seems to have been kidnapped, yet is suddenly free.  Can they help her?  Well, there are these guys who start killing them off and likely know something about it.

 

As a twist later on, a trip of men (including Luther and Oz star Eamonn Walker) show up with ransom money to try to save her, but they have no idea how messed up things have become and the kidnappers do not have the girl to get the money, but they’ll do what they have to do.

 

Though this sounds intriguing, the actual delivery (putting aside the tired child-in-jeopardy aspect) is everything we have seen before with little new to recommend save the locales, acting and potential down the drain early.  At least this has some energy, but the resulting impact is minimal and it should have been better.  A trailer is the only extra.

 

 

Alan Birkinshaw’s Killer’s Moon (1978) is a low-budget British attempt to capitalize on the success of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971, banned in England at the time) with a group of chaperoned schoolgirls (early teens) on a field trip of choir touring, their bus keeps breaking down until they have to abandon it and find a place to stay.  That takes the form of a hotel not open for the season, but the owner makes an exception.  Oddly, the lady owner’s daughter has not returned and male campers nearby are unaware of any of this, but no one knows that four psychotic mental patients have escaped their facility and are on a killing spree.

 

They are also wearing all-white outfits and keep talking about being in a living dream, but this wears thin quickly, as well as the absence of a solid police search you would expect in the script.  Even with that, the film has an interesting set-up, promising start and interesting cast all around.  Unfortunately, when sexual assault and rape events the storyline, this starts loosing its ground and never recovers and especially so in the final reel.

 

The Redemption label has issued this obscure independent curio and I am glad they did.  It may not always work and even get inept, but it was at least ambitious for its low budget and part of the British side of a golden period in British Horror that time and the U.K. “video nasties” campaign has lost in the shuffle, even with home video being around for decades.  Many such productions turned up as other companies in the U.K. decides to compete with Hammer (including Amicus and Tigon, for instance) though setting their tales in current times due to budget limits.

Even with its flaws and limits, it is worth a look for Horror fans and others interested in the historical peak of such independent production should see it, especially being on Blu-ray.  Extras include a Photo Gallery, interview with Actress Joanne Good, interview with Director Birkinshaw, feature length audio commentary track by both and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

 

 

Our last two entries involve the world of modeling and photography…

 

Another interesting film from the same period is Andrea Bianchi’s Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975) from Italy, which wants to combine the bloody, graphic, Giallo serial killer murder films with the cheesy soft core comedies the Italians were making in great numbers at the time.  Nino Castelnuovo plays a man who helps a doctor move a woman who just died in an abortion to make it look like she just died alone in a bathtub, but he is also a photographer and womanizer who is about to be part of a group targeted by a mysterious killer whop seems to have no motive but to kill, kill, kill.

 

His girlfriend (Edwige Fenech, with a haircut that has more than just a passing resemblance to Audrey Hepburn), is somewhat unaware of this, but they have a good relationship and are very sexually active.  As the film moves along, we get three aspects running at once: the graphic murders of women and men, excess nudity with more sex than usual and more humor than usual including that derived from the modeling industry.

 

It may have too much of the cheesy sex and humor for Horror/Thriller fans and that also hampers the momentum of the mystery plot, but I give the makers credit for trying to do more with the genre and they do not shy away from the blood or violence.  This also has style and the cast has both chemistry and talent.  However, this does not add up as it might have under other circumstances, but is the best film on the list and a one-of-a-kind work that everyone who likes all of the kinds of films attempted will want to see.  Don’t let the sex, nudity or violence stop you, as well as that wild title.

 

Extras include a Poster & Still Gallery, Italian Trailer, International Trailer and interview featurette Strip Nude For Your Giallo with Actress/Co-Star/Model Solvi Stubing and Co-Writer Massimo Felisatti.

 

 

Last but not least is Ray Austin’s Virgin Witch (1972), part of a cycle of British supernatural thrillers of the time that everyone was doing and were very popular in the shadow of Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968) plus that tradition in British fiction in general.  Austin began as a stunt coordinator and stuntman in the business, most famously choreographing the fights on the classic British TV spy hit The Avengers, which soon led to him moving to the director’s chair and have a long career that also too him to Hollywood.  So Successful that he is now Sir Raymond Austin, he was a very capable journeyman filmmaker and with his past, handled action directing particularly well.

 

While his Avengers co-producing friends Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens made films in the genre that were problematic (See No Evil in 1971), amusing (Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and underrated (Captain Kronos) and Clemens had a huge TV hit with the Horror anthology called Thriller (also reviewed elsewhere on this site), Austin made this bolder film about two sisters who become entangled in the web of the head of a modeling agency (the late, great Patricia Haines in one of her sadly few feature film roles) who happens to have two secrets: she is a lesbian and a Satanist!

 

Christine (Ann Michelle of the 1978 TV crime drama mini-series Out (reviewed on DVD elsewhere on this site), House Of Whipcord, The Death Wheelers) would be the big star, but her sister Betty (Vicki Michelle, later of ‘Allo ‘Allo, in her debut role) is also very pretty and the far away castle home their boss has Christine’s photo shoot at happens to be the home of a witch’s coven who wants to claim both of them.  What they don’t know is that Christine has psychic powers and maybe more.

 

I again liked the cast, the locations and the ideas, but they do not all add up in the end, though Austin uses some of that Avengers style to the benefit of the film and Haines steals almost every scene she is in.  The problem is that the film does not know how to conclude, especially after starting up so much and being so sexually provocative.  This was a problem for most of these productions in the U.K. as Hollywood was in the lead on such films (think The Exorcist, The Omen) but there are enough good, interesting moments to go out of your way to see this one as well and I am very glad it is on Blu-ray.

 

Extras include a Photo Gallery and Original Theatrical Trailer, but I wish there were some interviews and even a brief featurette.  Keith Buckley (The Spy Who Loved Me, Excalibur), Neil Hallett and Peter Halliday (The Remains Of The Day, A For Andromeda, Sunday Bloody Sunday; he just passed away weeks before this posting) also star.

 

 

 

The 1080p digital High Definition image transfers on all four discs look good for what they are, but all have their limits and the older three films their age flaws.  Place has a 2.35 X 1 frame that has some nice shots, but was shot all HD on the dated Red One camera, so we get softness, detail limits and the stylizing hinders playback performance overall.  None of the older films were issued in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film, though Strip was shot in Techniscope which is also 2.35 X 1 and it is likely such prints were produced at least for the U.K. and Italian markets, plus Moon could have received such treatment outside of the U.S., but that could not be confirmed at the time of posting.

 

Witch and Moon have prints that show their age and could both use some further restoration, but they have some good shots here and there and have never looked better on home video.  Strip is just the best-looking of the four releases by a narrow margin coming from the camera negative, cleanest of all with the best consistent color.

 

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Place should be the big sonic winner here and though it is the newest recording, I was not impressed by the soundfield, recording on location or overall mix.  It is professional at best and has some good sonic moments, but they are few and far between, with too many instances of the mix too much towards the front speakers.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 lossless Mono mix on Strip (with the most post-production dubbing) and PCM 2.0 Mono on Witch and Moon are much older and show their low budgets, but these are about as clean as they are going to get and playback better than I expected despite age flaws.

 

 

I had not seen the older films in decades and am glad they are back.  Hope Redemption continues issuing Blu-rays the way Blue Underground has been for a good while now.  The Horror genre needs all the help it can get these days.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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