Code Red's the Redeemer Vs Code Red's the Redeemer (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

In 2010, Code Red released The Redeemer: Son of Satan on DVD. And in 2014 he released it again on blu-ray, in a limited run of 1,000 copies. These copies differ in a lot more than the simple fact that one is in standard def and the other in HD. Is one better than the other? Is the blu-ray worth up the upgrade if you already bought the DVD? Let's take a look.

The Redeemer (a.k.a. Class Reunion Massacre) is a weird precursor to slasher genre from 1978. A supernatural boy rises out a lake, hops a ride on a bus, and possesses a priest. I think. It's not exactly 100% clear what's supposed to be taking place, but that's a rough idea. Anyway, at the same time, a bunch of former classmates (each loosely representing one of the seven deadly sins) now living very distinct, disparate lives, receive invitations to a class reunion at their old school. But when they arrive, no one else is there except for that priest, flamboyantly played by T.G. Finkbinder, who has a penchant for disguises, giant creepy puppets and murdering sinners. The film has some bad acting, a real low budget feel, very 70s look, shifting tones and some cornball melodrama. But once the mayhem starts, it gets pretty entertaining and some sequences are surprisingly effective. It's like a less professional Slaughter High with a supernatural bent.
(this screenshot comes from
The fact that Code Red's DVD uses a 35mm print makes it a huge step up in quality from the old VHS and past public domain Class Reunion Massacre DVDs sourced from said tape. I don't have the old Class Reunion disc, so I borrowed the upper screenshot from a review on for the comparison (it's a very fun review of the film, and very different from the one I'm writing - I recommend you pop over give it a read). It's small so the quality may not be a 100% fair representation of the quality; but it should give you a good idea. It is worth noting that it appears to be open matte, so it actually has more visual information on the top and bottom. But the Code Red is framed in its proper aspect ratio and clearly of higher quality. The color timing is notably different, too; but let's put a pin in that. Color timing is going to be a big point later on in this review.
The preceding message that appears on the screen once you hit play on the film, though: said 35mm print is very beat up and worn. (Also, maybe Desert Island Films should stop selling their DV-R on Amazon?)
There's tons of scratches, splotches, pops in the soundtrack and even green chemical burns, plus little skips and jumps throughout the film due to damage There's at least one vertical green line through almost every shot in the picture. This is a perfect example of one of Code Red's "grindhouse prints," but it's all they had, so what're you gonna do?  It's certainly a lot better than the past, low-def options.

So, low def, standard def... let's get to high def!

Since Code Red has a proper film print, albeit one that appears to have been stepped and beat on, there's image information there to be nicely enhanced by this new 1080p encode. So, right away, a healthy, natural upgrade, especially for those of you with nice, big TVs. But is that the only difference? Why no, my friend, it's not. Time to delve!
blu on the left; DVD on the right
Right from the opening shot there, differences are clear. Remember how I said we'd come back to color timing? Well, the DVD is looking pretty sickly yellowish/green there on the right, isn't it? The scratch damage is the same here and throughout most of the picture, so it's the same print. But you can see we've got a little extra picture on the sides where the black bars are on the DVD. But really, the significant improvement is in the color. Have a look:
again, blu on left; DVD on right.
What color do reckon is accurate for that swimming pool water? Blue or lagoon green? One of the multiple issues with the DVD is that the print had clearly faded and turned colors. This blu does a good job of restoring and bringing it back. Even in subtler scenes, it's still noticeable:
Occasionally, however, you can say the DVD has an edge over the blu. Blacks are crushed to the point where we lose actually lose information in these shots:
her eyes and hair alongside her neck
the trees in the upper left
But that's a very minor quibble. For the most part, it's an east victory for the blu-ray. HD, colors, framing. It's just a superior presentation of the same print.
Except, what's this? How did they get out of sync there? It's because the blu-ray has also been upgraded to include an extra gore shot that was missing from the DVD! It was originally shaved because of print damage, but since Code Red has multiple (damaged) prints - they've said publicly that the DVD was made using the best out of four prints - they were able to take it from another one and edit it seamlessly into this disc. There's also an additional reaction shot that's only on the blu of the group looking at her body. It's just a few quick seconds, but still: more complete - yeah!
Also, a lot of viewers may be turning the film off already by this point, but the closing credits have been improved. It's even more noticeable in motion than from my screenshots here. And they've been re-framed a little tighter, which is clearly correct, because the DVD credits clearly fail the illusion of the words disappearing off the top of the screen. haha Also taken from another print, the blu-ray's credits have less scratches and spots on them and are noticeably less shaky. I'm sure we're low on the totem pole of people's concerns at this point, but higher quality closing credits are still better than lower ones. Clearly, more care has been put into this newer edition.
There's just one little disappointment. The DVD had just one minor extra, to quote the back of the box, "the original theatrical trailer taken from an old 1981 3/4 inch tape." There was some bad-ass narration and it gave you a glimpse of the full-screen image. But it was left off of the blu-ray. Why? Well, this was very beginning of Code Red's forays into blu-ray, and they seemed to be  learning the technology as they went. Their first two blu-rays were this and Voices From Beyond, both of which didn't even have menus. Their later ones all do, so I suspect if this had been released later in the year, the trailer would've been on there. But, oh well. It's just a trailer. The DVD also opened with a trailer for Family Honor, and included bonus Code Red trailers for Nightmare, The Visitor, The Carrier, Horror High and Slithis.
Do the finger prints reveal the killer!?
So depending how big you are into this film (it's pretty poor in a lot of respects, after all, so not everyone's going to be a fan), the blu-ray may or may not be worth it. But it's definitely an upgrade, in a lot more respects than I think people even realize. So extra credit to Code Red for putting in the extra effort on this one. Hopefully viewers appreciate it.

P.S. - I realize almost 50% of DVDExotica's content so far has consisted of Code Red releases. That's not the plan, and I think you can expect things to balance themselves out over time. But with that said, you can definitely expect more Code Red titles to be covered here, 'cause their releases are right up our alley. 😎

The Decline of Western Civilization 2: Actually On DVD

Fans have been patiently waiting for years and even decades now for the Decline of Western Civilization movies to come out on DVD. The first one came out on laserdisc, but that's been it since their original VHS debuts. The filmmaker has had a website up for years and years saying that DVDs were coming soon; but it hasn't happened, likely due to issues licensing all the music. But actually, one of the series has actually been out on DVD for a couple years now... in Thailand. And I know what many of you are thinking: don't tell us about bootlegs; these have been some of the most booted flicks in film history. We all know about 'em; hell, most of us fans have already got 'em. But no, I actually think this might be legit.
The Decline of Western Civilization 2: is a bit of a departure from the trilogy, which otherwise focus on the underground punk rock scene. This one turns its attention to the hair bands of the 80s, giving equal interview time to the biggest acts like Aerosmith, Ozzy Ozbourne and Alice Cooper, to local bands, groupies and fans you've never heard of, but who make quite a statement. This seems to have become the most popular in the series, thanks largely to its long run on the Independent Film Channel... and because it's damn funny. The other two films are more geared towards genuine pock rock fans, but this film is equally as enjoyable if you love heavy metal, hate it, or are completely indifferent.

The packaging certainly looks legit. It's leaps and bounds more genuine looking than your average scan of the VHS cover slightly blurry and resized to wrap around a DVD. From its copyright info to corporate logos and websites that link to actual Thailand DVD companies, and even that little authenticating hologram sticker. If some bootlegger's just trying to trick us with this cover, then kudos to his graphic design skills. How about its functioning UPC code? That's pretty slick.
DVD on the left, bootleg from "ImLivingInThe80s" on the right.
And the contents of the disc hold up to scrutiny just as well. The corporate logos that play at the start, copyright notice and the fact that this is a pressed disc, not a DV-R. And more importantly, I've seen multiple boots and rips of this movie, and this looks better than all of them. The image is clearer and sharper... and has superior framing with more visual information on the bottom and right (though the boot actually has a bit more along the top). Yeah, it's full-frame; but the composition at least looks like they were framed for the square with TV in mind besides just the theatrical matting. It actually looks pretty good.

Update 7/3/15: But it looks even better in widescreen! Shortly after this post, Shout Factory announced a boxed set of the entire Decline trilogy on blu, and now it's arrived. I'll be making a whole separate post on the entire trilogy [it's now up here], but in the meantime, here's a matching comparison of the new blu, vs. the bootleg and Onpa DVD shown above.
The blu-ray, which uses a new 2k scan of an original film print, naturally looks heaps better. It's matted down to about 1.78:1 (there's literally 2 pixels worth of letterboxing along the top), losing info tops and bottoms rather than gaining anything on the sides; but OAR trumps everything. Plus, of course, detail and clarity of the image are far ahead of even the legit DVD. It's got some flecks and scratches especially right at the beginning; but it's minor and almost adds more to the movie's true film like quality than detracts. And interestingly, the colors are actually closer to the bootleg than the Onpa's warmer disc. Honestly, watching Shout's blu feels like finally discovering, ah, this is how the movie should've always looked.

The blu has DTS-HD stereo and 5.1 mixes, which are a nice improvement as well. Audio's pretty important for a music documentary, after all. And there's an impressive collection of extras, including an audio commentary N'Adir Priest and Penelope Spheeris, as well as extended interviews (which average 15-20 minutes each) with seven of the different bands seen in the film, plus the theatrical trailer. Interestingly, the case also mentions "Tawn Mastrey interviews Penelope Spheeris," but that doesn't appear anywhere on this disc that I could find. And I spent some time poking around in case it was hidden like an easter egg, but nope.

Now, that's specifically what's on the Decline II blu. But as of this writing, the blu is only available in a boxed set with the entire trilogy. And that box has a fourth, bonus disc (also blu-ray), with additional extras pertaining to each film. Right now the set is the only way to get this (and I do recommend the whole set), but it's quite possible these discs will be sold individually down the road.  And this film stands out enough from the other two films that I could see some audiences only being interested in this particular one. So the above extras are all that's on the individual disc, but the bonus disc also features a lot of good stuff, but it's far less likely to be available apart from the rest of the trilogy. Specifically, we get another 79 minutes worth of extended interviews with bands from the film, a 7 minute featurette called Decline II: Cruising the Strip, a panel discussion on the film held at the LA Museum of Modern Art, plus a whole bunch of interviews and stuff that relate to other two films, but also the trilogy as a whole. And there's a nice 36-page booklet with an entire section devoted just to Decline II.

So yeah, a full review of the trilogy is on its way [it's now up here], with comparisons to all three film's old bootlegs, the original laserdisc and everything. But for anyone anyone interested in just Part 2, that's the scoop. Brilliant upgrade.
And this disc has a 5.1 Dolby audio track! For a music documentary, that alone is a big reason to upgrade from your boot. It also has optional/ removable English subtitles, Thai subtitles and a 5.1 Thai dub. Bootleggers made an entire new audio presentation to dub this film into Thai? Nope, that's it - that discussion is over. There's no way this is a bootleg. Perhaps New Line didn't have to clear the audio rights in Thailand so they just released it there? Regardless, this not only appears to be a fully legit DVD, but also a high quality release and a worthwhile upgrade from whatever
Naturally, there are no real extras; but there are bonus trailers for The Chippendales Murders and Marines, both in English. It looks good, sounds great, and I recommend dipping occasionally into the Korean audio track for an extra smile. Not to mention it's the first flat-out legit release of the film. I'll still be on board if ever comes through; but in the meantime this is too sweet to pass up.

Psycho From Texas and Friends, Courtesy Of Code Red

It's time for another new release from Code Red... Six Pack Volume Three. This is a pretty random 2-disc, limited to 500 copies, set featuring six films with essentially no connection to each other, not even genre. I believe the idea behind these is just that they're titles Code Red got the rights to release but doesn't feel they'll sell well enough to market them individually, so they just wrap 'em up together, don't assemble extras or anything, and just sell them for the price of one title. The description on the back of the box says, "Six duds in one big set, surely you must like one of them. LOL." And you know what? I do.

It also says that every single title here has "all new 16x9 transfers," which is true and a big selling point here. We've got some compelling widescreen transfers sourced from film prints, not crap VHS like a lot of these titles' past budget/bootleg DVDs. These are un-restored "grindhouse prints," mind you; but that can still be a huge improvement. But unlike, say, Code Red's Spaghetti Cinema DVD, released at the same time, these aren't just called 16x9 transfers because they're widescreen anamorphic... They're all 1.78:1, or the exact aspect ratio of a widescreen TV. I suspect not all six of these films were originally filmed or meant to be screened in 1.78:1, so we may not seeing them all in their perfect OAR. Granted, it's disappointing but not uncommon for even the major studios to cheat/ crop a 1.85:1 film into a 1.78:1 picture for the "no black bars" crowd, but one or two of these titles seem more forced into that ratio than others. But let's break it down and look at every single film individually.
The Sins of Adam and Eve (1969) is a movie I had absolutely zero interest in when this set was announced, but I have to admit it made for a pretty engaging time capsule. Making its DVD debut here, Sins was apparently a hit back in its day, literally telling the biblical story of Adam and Eve reasonably faithfully. George Rivers and Candy Wilson are the only two people on-screen for the entire film, and they never speak because they hadn't invented language yet. There is narration, however, and eventually the snake speaks, of course. And Adam and Eve do manage to invent their names amidst their grunting.  The constant nudity was surely a bigger selling point back in the 60s, but today it holds up as far as it does thanks to the care that was put into the crafting of this film. Eden looks as convincing an Eden as any big budget production would deliver today, the animals aren't all stock footage; in fact the stars do some brave interacting with them considering they have to do it in the buff. And the dramatic moments, like the flaming swords driving them out of Eden (spoiler for atheists I guess? haha), were pretty cool. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of story for a full-length film, and you're stuck with a lot of old fashioned battle-of-the-sexes scenes played out by mutes (we learn things like: girls like to be assured they're pretty), but thanks to running just 70 minutes, it manages not to drag.
The print is clearly worn and damaged, but still very watchable. The framing looks fine, the print damage is present but not too distracting, except for one or two brief moments where it jump cuts over damaged footage. The picture is faded but still colorful... though one can imagine how impressive a big budget restoration would look. The most notable flaw of this transfer are the red splotches that fly across the screen through most of the film. It's evident enough in the screenshot above, but seeing it in motion really puts it in the forefront. Still... it all almost adds more charm to this particular film than does it any harm.

It should be noted that this is the shorter, American cut of the film. In other countries, the film opens with Adam and Eve wandering round the Earth lost, scared and clothed; and then eventually gets to answering "how did they get here?" The US cut basically starts after all that, with its own introduction using narration and stock footage. There might be other trims, too; but frankly the less aimless wandering the better; so I'm happy with this cut. And I don't think an English language version of that cut was ever made (I may be wrong), so there's really nothing to complain about here.
Hellhounds of Alaska (1973) is a German-produced Western starring Doug McClure. It's a very traditional western, with a story we've seen plenty of times before and full of a lot of Hollywoodisms. But it's done well enough, and will please Western fans who don't need each one they watch to be a masterpiece. Bandits rob a station wagon, but unwittingly also wind up capturing the hero's young boy charge, raising the stakes higher than anybody expected. The townsfolk also take the law into their own hands when they feel the sheriff isn't doing enough to create a bigger mess. Oh, and there's an African American stranger who rolls into town and turns out to be the world's greatest boxer just waiting to be enlisted as a sidekick. The title is misleading, since there are no literal or even figurative hellhounds in this film at all. There is one very nice dog, though, who goes to Lassie-style lengths to save his master, but that's it. There's a prospecting subplot to draw in a little American Indian action, a lonely old man who forgot how to speak, an over-the-top town drunk subtly named Captain Brandy and a beautiful blonde who spends her days running a saloon until somebody comes along to make her his love interest.
The film looks a little soft but it's generally fine. There are visible scratches on the print, but nothing egregious. The film has nice production values and landscapes that come across well in this presentation. The screenshots above tell the whole story.
I'd never heard of Gums (1976) until this DVD was announced (although it had been previously released just two years ago), but when I looked it up, some promising reviews of zany insanity had me looking forward to seeing this one. It didn't live up to my hopes or expectations, but in retrospect, I'm kinda glad I watched it.

Gums is an old pornographic parody of Jaws, basically, with a mermaid who gives literally killer blowjobs instead of a shark. It features some amusing moments: Robert Shaw's Quint is mirrored here by The Burbs' Brother Theodore playing a wildly over-the-top Nazi, and at one point the actors are replaced by puppets. But the problem is that most of the film simply isn't funny; it's just trying to be outrageous by throwing in sex references. Their boat is named the SS Cunnilingus. There's no joke there, it's just supposed to be funny because they said cunnilingus. The character humor consistently boils down to: (s)he's really horny! The secretary wants to blow her boss because she's really horny! When the mayor visits, she wants to blow him because she's really horny! When she hears about the mermaid she goes to beach and waits for her because she's really horny! A very short movie starts to feel pretty long after enough repetition of that gag.

Most of the sex is fake and played for silliness; but there is real hardcore footage. Most of that is covered up by large cartoonish graphics imposed over the film, though you still see plenty of uncensored penises and boobs. This film does exist uncensored so you can see the X-rated footage - the film wasn't always like that - but the edited version might be more fitting for contemporary audiences looking for laughs anyway. To be honest, Gums is downright confusing. I mean, not plot-wise, it's very simple, not to mention closely following a story we'd already seen in Jaws. It's just confusing in intent. They clearly spent a lot on this, filming in both Florida and New York, with a big cast in lots of locations. But its too X-rated to really play outside anyplace but a porn theater. And yet there's not enough sex (especially of the actually sexy kind, as opposed to a guy in scuba gear humping a blow-up doll), and too much in between, for it to really satisfy porn audiences. It was a little mind blowing to get to the closing credits and see that this film had three screenwriters.
The picture again is soft but mostly fine until you get some shots where a lot seems to be cut off along the bottom. This film is unprofessional enough that I can almost believe it was just made this way; but I suspect something's actually off with the framing on this disc. Like, surely the full word "Spoey!" is meant to be visible in this next shot, right?
And if "Cocka Doodle Doo" is meant to be read in the next shot, then a LOT must be missing from the bottom, huh?
And not only is the bottom a little cut off in this next shot, but it looks like a whole other bubble is cut off on the left side of the frame in this next shot...
Could some full-frame television transfer with already cropped sides have just been further cropped vertically to give it a fake widescreen ratio? I don't know; it doesn't sound like something Code Red would do; but maybe the distributor who gave him the source material did. To be fair, you only really notice the problem in the shots with cartoon graphics. Often the framing looks pretty natural, so who knows? It's just one more out of the million questions this weirdo movie raises in the viewer. If ever a film cried out for a director's commentary, this one is it.

UPDATE 12/31/14: Someone just sent me a rip of the old, 1980 UK VHS release of this film from Mountain (thanks, Marc!), which sheds some light on the framing issued I described above. I've made some screenshot comparisons to illustrate:
DVD on left, VHS rip on right
First, yes, we were originally meant to see the full graphics along the bottom. Actually, this one is still a little cut off... So maybe the filmmakers made it cut off a bit like that, or maybe even the VHS transfer is cropped a little vertically. By the way, it turns out that other caption I showed above said "Sooey," not "Spoey." I was thinking they meant "spew," like... well, never mind. Anyway, there's considerably more information on the top and bottom, and the DVD has only a bit of additional picture on the right-hand side.
Even shots that looked more like maybe they'd been composed correctly in the DVD, we see still had plenty more vertical information. Still, that's a lot of head room, so I guess we're looking at the full image on the tape that they would have intended to be matted to a widescreen image for theaters. And the cropping is just due to the matting being misaligned for the DVD? You might also notice that the VHS image on the right is a bit stretched horizontally. In other words, look at the sheriff's head (standing on the right with the badge), for example. It's wider on the VHS and skinnier and narrower on the DVD. That difference is probably what accounts for the additional picture on the right edge of the screen.
That part of the graphic on the left is still mysterious; and makes me feel like we're missing something important off to the left. At any rate, we now know at least part of the issues with the presentation here are due to the DVD's framing and not just the filmmaking. Most buyers will probably just be casually viewing this film for the novelty anyway, so I don't think it's anything to get up in arms over. But it does show further that this 6-pack generally has framing issues.
Boogievision (1977 - holy crap, as recent as that?) is a novelty film without enough novelty to spread across the entire film's running time.  It's got little animated moments, fake (but painfully unfunny) commercials, copious nudity and a silly but enjoyable performance by Bert Belant as a fatherly sleazeball. but for all of that, the film has a rather pedestrian plot about an aspiring young filmmaker who winds up getting a job filming "nudies" for a sleazy producer. He wants to keep his artistic integrity, so what will he do? Spoiler: mostly complain.
Media Blasters once released this as part of one of their Rareflix Triple Feature sets, but their it was fullscreen. Code Red presents this film in a new, widescreen transfer from a 35mm print that's probably the best looking in this six-pack. It's a bit scratched and worn at places, mostly during the opening credits and reel changes, but for the most part looks surprisingly good. Maybe a little green at places, but it's a real upgrade. Apparently though, Media Blasters' disc features a slightly longer director's cut that runs 84 minutes (this one is 79), so it may be worth sticking with that version after all.

Well, you've just seen the a film condemning nudies, now watch a nudie!
Code Red found a lost film with 1966's Bad Boys for the Girls, so I guess this one has historical value. Because it certainly doesn't have artistic or entertainment value - Zing! Writer/ director William F. McGaha is known for making an infamous cult biker film called JC, which asks the bold question, what if Jesus Christ was a biker? Well, that had viewers wondering what else the guy had ever done, and Code Red dug up an answer for 'em: Bad Boys for Girls.

It's one of those movies with no synced sound. The characters never speak, except when one of the narrators briefly takes a stab at doing a character's voice. The plot is simple enough: a bachelor is sick and tired of every sexy woman he meets throwing herself at him. His married best friend has the same problem with his sex-crazed wife. So they go on vacation together to escape all women, but the wife follows them and they also encounter some more beautiful women who all throw themselves at them. But they never have sex or anything, they just chase each other and play games like Strip Hide and Seek. So much time is spent simply observing them go fishing and camping you just feel like you're watching somebody's home movies, although the narrators try to spice things up by speaking in false, goofy voices, like a Senator Claghorn impersonation.
The framing looks tight to me around the bottom, even on the film's opening title card. The print is very scratched and has turned quite pink. But we're probably just lucky to see this film at all. If you should ever care to sit through this in the first place, that is.
We save the best for last. Some of the others were amusing, but Psycho From Texas (1975) is the one movie I can see a lot of people buying this movie for. Psycho is a dark, dark movie that starts off as a slasher, veers off into being an action movie and crime thriller, and comes back to being a horror movie by the end. Yeah, the budget limitations show and some of the acting by supporting characters is downright amateur level; but you won't quickly forget John King III as the cruel Wheeler, and anyone who considers themselves a Linnea Quigley fan needs to see one of her earliest and still most disturbing film roles. It's also got an amazing theme song.
Psycho makes its long-awaited DVD debut here and it's great to see it from a 35mm print rather than some VHS rip. Yeah, it's a bit faded and scratched... there's a quick jump cut or two from film damage, and again the framing seems a little tight at points. But fans should be very pleased with this one. This is absolutely the film that makes the set for me, or as Code Red put it, the one dud I liked.

Update 8/27/19: Code Red and Dark Force have since reissued this film on blu-ray, which I cover here.  In short, it's an underwhelming upgrade, but at least it's an upgrade.

There are no extras on any of these films, but that's the nature of the six-pack. Each disc opens with a trailer for Brotherhood of Death, but that's it. Still, I'm very happy with this set and recommend it. You don't have to be gaga over all six titles to make it worthwhile, after all.

Amazons Amuck!

Code Red has just released a fascinating little double-bill called Spaghetti Cinema, available exclusively through the Code Red store, and possibly from DiabolikDVD a little later on. It features two Italian exploitation films, the wacky Ovidio Assonitis production Super Stooges Vs the Wonder Women and a surprisingly engrossing, slightly perverse giallo called Amuck! I was more interested in this set for the second film, but let's start with the first.

The title Super Stooges Vs the Wonder Women (or alternatively, the on-screen title: Amazons and Supermen) is gives a surprisingly accurate idea of the actual film's contents. Ovidio produces, but doesn't direct, this bizarre story of a small village under the protection of a super hero named Dharma. A tribe of Amazons raid it because they want to know the secret of his eternal flame, so he enlists the aid of two other super heroes - Harlem Globetrotter Mark Hannibal and Hua Yueh - to save the day and protect the secrets in his cave. This film is damned silly and doesn't try to be anything but. A slide-whistle sound effect plays every time Dharma jumps, which is constantly. It's primarily an Italian film, but apparently The Shaw Brothers also co-produced it, and presumably contributed to the stunts and slapstick The novelty of the film wears off as the fight scenes never stop, but overall it's an amusing enough watch.
Code Red's DVD looks mostly pretty great. It's an attractive, anamorphic 2.35:1 image in excellent condition, not one of those dirty, damaged "grindhouse" prints Code Red has been known to distribute. There is one small issue with the picture, though... an occasional interlacing problems in certain frames. Most look great, but there's some interlaced ones mixed in, possibly some kind of pull-down issue stemming from porting this over from a PAL release (this was released in Italy on a 16x9 2.35:1 DVD; and I suspect this is ported from that); but that's just a guess.
This screenshot doesn't look so bad this size; but right click and check it out full size.
It's sporadic enough that you'll probably only spot it occasionally (though one scene struck me as particularly egregious, where Dharma is addressing his villagers and his mouth look like 8 bit pixel art), so unless you're very serious Amazons and Supermen fan, this transfer will probably be more than good enough. Though if you're serious, search for Superuomini, Superdonne, Superbotte on But I'm only guessing/hoping that the Italian disc doesn't have the interlacing issue.

A more serious problem is an audio issue around the climax of the film. About fifteen minutes before the end, while one of the bad guys is addressing his henchman, the audio suddenly switches from English to Italian. Now, to be clear, this disc does not have multiple audio tracks, and no subtitles or other language options. There is just the one audio track, which is entirely in English, up until the ending. It just randomly happens mid-scene, one sentence is in English and the next is in Italian, one dubbed performance to another. A little bit later it reverts back to English and you think, okay, at least it was just that one scene. But then it switches to Italian again a few seconds later.

That Italian DVD I mentioned does have both Italian and English audio options. Possibly the error here was just a goof while transferring that DVD and not realizing they'd switched audio tracks? Or maybe the Italian DVD's English track does the same thing - maybe that's how the film always played. If any Super Stooges fans feel like taking the plunge on that Italian disc and reporting back, I'd love to find out.

But let's get to Amuck!
Amuck! is a slow-paced but very engaging giallo, starring Farley Granger and Barbara Bouchet, about a woman who moves into an author's villa to type up his manuscripts. She learns the last girl who had her job disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and gets caught up in the mystery. Things get heightened as the tapes her boss sends her to describe seem to be describing the very mystery she's living. This is a pretty smart and sexy thriller, very well crafted, but one of the film's main conceits, which I won't spoil here, turns out to be pretty goofy.

As you can see above, Code Red presents another 2:35.1 anamorphic print, which is a huge revelation compared to the junky VHS-sourced full-screen presentations that've been floating around before. Unlike Super Stooges, this one is faded and has some print damage; but fans who've been waiting for a proper release for decades now should still be very happy with this picture. Here are a couple quick comparisons I made:
Note the huge amount of additional picture information on the sides, especially the left, and even slightly along the bottom. In the first shot, the woman speaking is essentially cut out of the picture entirely. And in the second, you'd literally never know the Red Riding Hood porno movie the characters are playing is actually framed on their wall between two statues. There are also no interlacing issues on Code Red's disc like you see in my full-screen version to the right.

And yes, the film stays in English through-out.

Here's the rub. This is not the full-length, 98 minute long uncut version we'd all prefer. This is also not the short, 78 minute cut version that's often written about, often re-titled Leather and Whips (even in the uncut version, though, there are no whips or leather outfits). This is instead a middle-of-the-road 85 minute version, with the on-screen title of Maniac Mansion. Now, Code Red's been very up-front about that, stating it in all their descriptions on their site, store and even the DVD case. But I'm sure it's still a big enough disappointment to many fans off of buying this disc.

Well, I've gone through this and the uncut version shot by shot and have taken notes of every single cut in this version. I'll detail them below, but the gist of it is that no sex or violence has been cut. This is not a censored print, but just one that's been tightened for pacing. The slow motion lesbian scenes that go on forever last every second as long here, and the infamous party scenes are equally complete. ...Well, technically that last bit isn't completely true. There is a quick shot of Greta lying on the floor missing from Code Red's print, but I believe that's just been clipped due to print damage, as it's one of the most tame, innocuous shots in the otherwise graphic scene. But yeah, essentially all the exploitation footage is here and untouched. In fact, there's actually additional nudity thanks to the 2.35 picture, which turns one scene of implied nudity into an actual topless shot.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think the film is better in its 98 minute form. This film is all about the characters' psychology and motivation, and some of that gets lost in the tighter cut. It's harder to relate to Greta getting further involved with the other characters without seeing some of these moments where they open up to her. And a few moments are turned confusing or illogical when snipped. For example, at one point Greta gets scared in her bedroom, so she goes downstairs to see Eleanora and says, "you're alone? On the phone I thought someone was with you." You're left wondering: phone, what? But in the uncut version, after getting scared her phone rings, and it's Eleanora asking her to come downstairs. And that's basically what all the cuts are like. No big moments are lost, just lots of little touches and exposition. You can tell this version was cut by an editor who didn't care about the intricate details and just wanted to hurry things along.

So, with that in mind, I think I can safely recommend this disc for most viewers. Yes, if you consider yourself a major fan of the film, you'll want to track down an uncut version. An early, full-frame disc from Eurovista is uncut and even includes interviews with the two female leads as extras... But again, the image quality is so far beneath this one, that Code Red's print, with all the salacious elements at least intact, will probably be the preferable watch. Personally, I'm considering making a little composite cut for myself, heh.

This disc opens with a trailer for Brotherhood of Death, a film Code Red just put out on blu-ray. There aren't really any extras to speak of, but it does include the theatrical trailers for both Super Stooges and Amuck! I recommend at least watching the latter, since it's got some pretty interesting narration going about how "UNCUT" the film is.

Maniac Mansion cuts:

1.22 The scene of Greta typing is longer, we hear the full point the author is making on the tape.

2.48 "Come, I'll show you something," the scene with Greta and the author continues, he shows her his new painting and how he seeks immortality through his art. This leads to a short dinner scene, which is also cut from MM.

6.43 "That's my hairdresser," Eleanora tells Greta she needs her as a friend.

8.52 "At times I feel I was being driven by another will," the letter Greta reads to the policeman is longer and more revealing.

21.02 "It's time I introduced you to Eleanora's friends," the party scene is longer at the beginning.

26.42 "you're a New Yorker, aren't you?" Granger talks more to Greta at dinner.

29.01 the only moment of suspense that's been trimmed. As Grete sneaks around the basement, she opens a drawer to look at a pink shirt and a stuffed bird falls on her head.

38.50 Greta tries the keys she found in the boat, but the butler kicks her out.

42,47 Greta gets a quick phone call telling her guests will be coming over.

51.45 "we all have to die sometime." the seance is longer in the 98 minute version.

52.50 "it's a silly business" Granger talks to Greta after the seance.

1.01.10 just a quick shot of the guy looking at himself in the mirror before turning to talk to Greta.

1.05.03 "it's fine." Granger and Eleanora talk after their boat docks.

1.07.25 A quick walking shot.

1.07.50 A quick shot of her looking.

1.09.41 Greta closes her door before playing the tapes so the butler can't hear them.

1.11.10 Granger talks to Greta and towels her before she sits down and the scene continues as it plays in the MM cut.

1.17.28 the record ends and the blonde lays on the floor

1.22.06 Farley pours a drink and Greta smokes a cigarette... just generally shots to show that they're feeling troubled.

1.29.17 Greta's phone rings and it's Eleanora asking her to come downstairs.