Vinegar Syndrome has taken 2016 by the balls in their quest to bring the weirdest, best, trashiest cinema of decades gone by to home video in new, gorgeous Blu-ray editions. Over the last couple of months they've done a stellar job restoring and releasing these six films for the home video connoisseur.
Today I'm going to run down this hot half-dozen releases that I'm just now catching up with after a long winter's nap of my own. Continue below for details on Paul Naschy in Count Dracula's Great Love, a twofer from director Richard Casey in Horror House on Highway 5 and Hellbent, and a trio of VHS staples, Deathrow Gameshow, Nightmare Sisters, and Hobgoblins.
Even though I pride myself on being somewhat knowledgable about cult films, I am horrendously undereducated when it comes to Paul Naschy. So, I admit without embarrassment that Count Dracula's Great Love, the 1973 Spanish vampire film, is the first Naschy film I've ever seen. That's right, I've not seen a single one of his werewolf films. The problem is that I know how well regarded he is, a legend in Spanish horror, and I can't see that level of adulation with this film as my only point of reference.
Count Dracula's Great Love deviates from Bram Stoker's original tale and places Naschy's Count in possession of a former sanitorium upon which stumbles nubile young women in desperate need of a place to stay. The sanitorium is populated by a host of Dracula's recent converts who are thirsty for blood as well as the good Count himself, who takes a particular liking to Karen (Haydee Politoff), a beautiful virgin.
The film feels like contemporary Hammer films from the same early '70s period in its utter commitment to violence and sadistic eroticism. However, it's a bit of a mess in terms of the plot and story, and the whiplash ending dosn't do much to tie up loose ends. Still, it's an effective way to pass the time and Naschy fans seem to enjoy it as far as I can tell. Sadly, Count Dracula's Great Love just wasn't for me.
In spite of the film's lack of resonance with me, it's impossible to fault Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray release for the problem. The transfer was struck from a 35mm interpositive of the film in 2K resolution and marks one of the first proper widescreen releases of the film and certainly the first Blu-ray in the world. The image quality is typically exceptional and should please any fans of the film. A few minor flecks here and there betray the film's age a bit, but overall it is a remarkable rehabilitation from the other versions of the film I've previewed for this review.
Not a label to rest on simply a beautiful transfer, Vinegar Syndrome add significant value to the release with some quality extras. Principal among these extras is a never before released commentary track with director Javier Aguirre and the late Naschy. There is also a six page booklet with an essay from Mirek Lipinsky that serves as an overview of the film and the work of its director and star. Booklets are rare from Vinegar Syndrome, but I hope there are more in the works. Also included in the disc is an interview with co-star Mirta Miller who discusses half a century in the film business.
Well, the film wasn't for me, but any fans will find this disc to be a godsend. Definitely recommended.