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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Alien > Ireland > Supernatural > Demon > Slasher > Thriller > Comedy > Satire > Mystery > Grabbers (2013/MPI/IFC Midnight DVD)/I Am Zozo (2011/Image DVD)/Maniac Cop 2 (1990) + 3: Badge Of Silence (1992/Blue Underground Blu-rays w/DVDs)/The People Under The Stairs (1991/Universal/Arrow Regi

Grabbers (2013/MPI/IFC Midnight DVD)/I Am Zozo (2011/Image DVD)/Maniac Cop 2 (1990) + 3: Badge Of Silence (1992/Blue Underground Blu-rays w/DVDs)/The People Under The Stairs (1991/Universal/Arrow Region B Blu-ray)/Pin (1988/ArrowDrome Region 2 PAL Import DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The People Under The Stairs Region B import Blu-ray and Pin Region 2 PAL import DVD con only be played on machines that can handle those versions of their respective formats, are only available from Arrow Video in the U.K. and can be ordered from the links below.

Now for some new horror releases, including some cult items on Blu-ray and a few smaller films you should know about...

Jon Wright's Grabbers (2013) is an Irish horror film that starts out as a simple police procedural until the dead bodies that turn up are mutilated in ways that do not have anything to do with simple murder. Soon, the police realize they are up against something more and it turns out an invasion of reptilian alien water creatures are invading and must be stopped. The result is an Irish answer to every formulaic monster movie we have seen lately and too often in the digital HD era.

The amusing moments are few and opportunities missed many. Now you know what you are in for, but the highly curious may still check it out no matter what we say. Extras include a Behind The Scenes featurette and Original Theatrical Trailer.

Scott Di Lalla's I Am Zozo (2011) is a better throwback to the genre when some teens (smart ones who are developed as people for a change) play with a Ouija board, only to unleash the murderous character of the title. A novel idea that could have worked very well, the script here is laid back more than it should be, but the cast, look and mood of the film (shot nicely on Super 8mm film negative, looks like they only used Kodak Vision 3 200T stocks when a few more Kodak makes would have helped) make it more watchable than it should be.

It also never gets stupid, silly or insults the intelligence to the audience. Too bad the great situation here is not capitalized on as much as it should be, but it is worth a look for all serious horror fans and is one of the best-looking independent Horror films we have seen in a good while.

Extras include a Behind The Scenes featurette and n interview with Darren Evans claiming to have encountered a real version of Zozo.

Maniac Cop 2 (1990) and Maniac Cop 3: Badge Of Silence (1992) are mixed sequels to William Lustig's original Maniac Cop (1988) we reviewed on Blu-ray a while ago at this link that includes a link to our review of the earlier DVD version:


Created by Lustig with Larry Cohen, it has some parallels with Paul Verhoeven's Robocop (1987, see our Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) in its sardonic treatment of law & order as the title characters become victims of the system they were originally were sworn to protect and both were great cops before the betrayal, though the one in this trilogy was explicitly betrayed by bad cops, so he is back to kill them and anyone else in their way. However, despite Lustig directing the second film and Cohen involved in writing on all of them, the original film only had so much to say and the sequels have no point except to be franchises by the men's own admission and that is why they are weak and eventually led to the early death of a would-be series.

Blue Underground's Blu-ray/DVD sets are as deluxe as they are going to get on these films, but they are just not that necessary and despite Robert Davi appearing in both, there is not much to see or do and the third film becomes a campy spoof of itself in unintended ways. Both are graphically violent and you will see blood, but the scripts are increasingly weak and the final film had more than one director, thus the Allen Smithee tag.

Look for Bruce Campbell, Michael Learner, Clarence Williams III and Charles Napier in the first sequel and Julius W. Harris, Robert Forster and Jack Earle Haley in the last.

Extras with both sequels include Deleted & Extended Scenes, Poster & Still Galleries and Original Theatrical Trailers, with 2 adding a feature length audio commentary track by Director Lustig and filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, an Isolated Music Track, Cinefamily Q&A clips with Lustig and featurette Back On The Beat - The Making Of Maniac Cop 2, while 3 adds an original text synopsis of the film Larry Cohen first proposed and Wrong Arm Of The Law - The Making Of Maniac Cop 3 featurette.

Wes Craven's The People Under The Stairs (1991) had some more political points with its own sardonic horror tale that equated Reagan's America with a sick, sad, real life story of parents who never let their children out of the house, keeping them locked in the basement. More surreal than realistic, the film is a mixed bag, but one that still comes up. I am surprised this is making it to Blu-ray in the U.K. first via Arrow Video and yet another one of their deluxe releases we'll never see in the U.S. market, but her it is and it is everything fans could want.

Craven, who also wrote the script, wants to be funny and frightening, but the mix is not always effective and it pales as compared to John Carpenter's They Live (1988) when addressing the same territory. Still, it is ambitious, Brandon Adams as the young African American who breaks into the wrong house is a situation as relevant now as ever. Everett McGill and Bing Rhames are good along with the rest of the cast and it is a film worth revisiting, even though it has aged oddly.Everett McGill and Ving Rhames are good along with the rest of the cast and it is a film worth revisiting, even though it has aged oddly.

The political specifics would need a separate essay, but some of them are touched upon in the extras which include a collector's booklet inside the Blu-ray case with new essays with illustrations and reversible cover, while the Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary with star Brandon Quintin Adams, moderated by Calum Waddell, Fear, Freud and Class Warfare Director Wes Craven Discusses the Timely Terrors of The People Under the Stairs, Behind Closed Doors Leading Lady A.J. Langer Remembers The People Under the Stair, Silent But Deadly Co-Star Sean Whalen on The People Under the Stairs, Underneath The Floorboards Jeffrey Reddick, creator of The Final Destination series, recalls the lasting impact of The People Under the Stairs and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Finally we have Sandor Stern's Pin (1988), a creepy tale about two young children whose doctor father (Terry O'Quinn) has them talking to a full-sized body mick-up of a man whose insides you can see, named after Pinocchio as Pin for short. The bother and sister become a little too attached to each other and when both parents die earlier than expected, inherit the house and bring Pin home to keep them company. They talked to him then and continue to as young adults, but the mental illness of both will soon manifest itself in blood.

We have seen creepy sibling films before and this can be as creepy, but despite good performances by unknowns David Hewlitt and Cynthia Preston, the script has the same issues as the similar Goodbye Gemini (1970, reviewed on DVD elsewhere on this site) where the story cannot equal the situation, but this film falls even shorter in adding up. Still, it is a creepy curio all serious horror ans should see once.

Extras include a collector's booklet inside the DVD case and an Original Theatrical Trailer on the disc.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on People and Maniac Cop 2, plus 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Maniac Cop 3 are the HD presentations here and despite their respective transfers sometimes showing the age of the 35mm film materials used, look fine for their age, have some good shots in each to offer and could not look much better than they do here. I would add that this is as good as they have ever looked and as authentic and close to the best materials I have seen o the three since their original theatrical releases. The anamorphically enhanced DVDs of the Maniac films are decent for their formats, but no match for the Blu-rays.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Zozo, anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Pin and anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Grabbers tend to be on par with those Maniac DVDs and look just fine for their standard definition presentations, though Zozo and Pin might benefit from Blu-ray releases.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Maniac Cop 2 and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Maniac Cop 3 are derived from their original sound stems and Ultra Stereo analog presentations and are the best sonic presentations here despite both films showing some age and harmonic distortion in parts from their original recordings. They also both offer D-BOX motion bass tracks for those who have that as part of their home theater system. People is here in lossless PCM 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds from its original Dolby A-type analog theatrical release, which is a system superior to Ultra Stereo for its time. It is not as dynamic all around as the DTS Maniac mixes, but is second-best in presentation here and just fine.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Maniac DVDs have EX back tracks, but are no match for their DTS counterparts, while regular Dolby 5.1 can be found on Grabbers (lacking a true soundfield) and Zozo (which has a laid back older horror film sounding soundtrack, but is spoiled by one too many moments of sweetened sound that ruins the integrity of the mix, though it has a weak soundfield too) and can be more than matched by the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Pin which was also a Dolby A-type theatrical stereo release, but weaker than People due in part to its budget.

The People Under The Stairs Region B import Blu-ray and Pin Region 2 PAL DVD can be ordered among other great titles and label exclusives from Arrow U.K. at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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