It's summertime, and the living is sleazy when it comes to Vinegar Syndrome's latest releases on Blu-ray. Today we're looking at their May and June output - sorry, we got a bit behind - and there's a little something here for everyone. Four of the five releases are horror (or at least horror-adjacent), with films like cult-fave Slaughterhouse, indie hero Adam Rifkin's satanic slasher Psycho Cop Returns, chilling ghost story The Hearse, and the giallo-esque Double Exposure. The final film on today's roster is Malibu High, a film that delivers more than you might be expecting.
Dig in to the capsules below for more details!
William Byron Hillman's little known thriller, Double Exposure, is the kind of film that takes the viewer by surprise in the best way possible. Made in 1982, the film plays like a cross between a daytime soap-opera, a standard serial killer thriller, and an Italian giallo film. While it does take it's time to settle on a dominant tone, Double Exposure absolutely nails it in the final reel, giving the viewer plenty to chew on as the picture fades.
Adrian Wilde is a professional photographer who specializes in shooting lovely ladies in the buff for men's magazines. He shares a special bond with his brother, a double amputee - one arm and one leg - who works as a stunt driver in the movie business. One day Adrian begins to have violent nightmares about murdering his models in increasingly brutal and gruesome ways. The scary thing about these nightmares is that they seem to comes true shortly after he wakes up. Adrian begins to wonder what is going on, is he the one behind these murders and he can't remember, or is there something more sinister and supernatural going on? Plenty of scantily clad women fall prey to the menacing black-gloved killer throughout the run time of Double Exposure, but can Adrian figure it all out before they get to the woman he really loves?
While I enjoyed Double Exposure as it found its groove toward the end, there's no denying that the tone is really uneven in the first half of the film. The above-mentioned soap opera sensibility persists for a good forty minutes, meaning that it's a bit slower paced than a film like this should be. However, when the film kicks into high gear, it really starts to click. I have to admit, I didn't see the end coming, and I would love to be that surprised by every film. This one is definitely worth checking out.
I'm going to say some version of this for every Vinegar Syndrome release today, but Double Exposure looks fantastic in a newly scanned 2K restoration from the original camera negative. Fine detail and contrast are gorgeous, and the film looks beautiful. The original mono audio does its job well presenting the dialogue and effects clearly and without major defects.
Vinegar Syndrome have included a full length director commentary with Hillman on the disc that is very informative, but it is a pair of interviews with cinematographer R. Michael Stringer and script supervisor Sally Stringer that were most engaging for me. The former talks a lot about how he came to the project (late), and a lot of the techniques he used to make Double Exposure stand out. Stringer talks a lot about his work as a camera operator on several projects with John Cassavetes before coming to Double Exposure and it's a fascinating talk all around.