Every single month, independent home video heroes Vinegar Syndrome release a stack of oddball discs that alternately titillate and petrify cult film fans across North America. Is every film a gem? God, no. But the thrill of discovery is sometimes the name of the game. We've decided that the best way to serve you, the readers, is to provide a monthly round-up of Vin Syn's digital transgressions against good taste in an effort to help you decide where best to spend your money.
Since we're starting off a little behind, these first few columns will come at you weekly, but hopefully we can get back to a monthly schedule in the coming weeks. In this first edition of Sorting Out The Syns, we'll tackle Australian high fashion modeling thriller Snapshot, Joe Sarno's mystical sexploiter Red Roses of Passion, A.C Stephen's Orgy of the Dead (written by Ed Wood), wackadoo horror comedy Psychos in Love, and forgotten '80s teen comedy My Chauffeur.
Snapshot, alternately titled The Day After Halloween for no good reason at all, is an Australian thriller set in the world of high fashion exploitation. Angela (Sigrid Thornton) is hard up for cash until she takes a modeling gig - against her better judgment - for a hi-falutin' perfume campaign. Her entry into the world of modeling is beset by problems. Creepy dudes keep trying, and often succeeding, to get her to take her clothes off for the camera with promises of greater fame and fortune, a disapproving mother rears her nasty head, and drugs and alcohol are around every corner. And then there are the murders...
Angela is in way over her head and has no idea how to get out of this cyclone of dysfunction, but she's pretty sure not everyone is getting out alive.
Snapshot is a surprisingly tense film that, while it isn't exactly horror, definitely fits a lot of the sleazier horror-exploitation plot lines to a tee. The "exotic" locales in the film give it a nice flavor, and there is some genuine tension built through the smart and well-written screenplay. I dug it.
I'm only going to say this part once, because it fits across all of the discs:
Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray release of the film is exceptional, their new 2K restoration looks as good, or likely even better, than you could possibly imagine. The original audio is clear and well-defined with dialogue coming through beautifully. I have yet to be disappointed with the A/V presentation of any Vinegar Syndrome release, even when the film is less than stellar.
Vin Syn also does a great job stacking their discs with extras, and this is no exception. We get a great commentary track from Simon Wincer (director), Tony Ginnane (producer), Sigrid Thornton (lead actress), and Vincent Morton (cinematographer) that is informative and jovial and gives depth to the listeners understanding the film and the shooting conditions. The Blu-ray also includes the longer Australian version of the film from a video source, a note at the beginning of the disc mentions that when the film was recut for North American audiences, the original negative was recut to fit that version, leaving no 35mm elements. We also get an interview with producer Tony Ginnane, and extended interview outtakes from Mark Hartley's landmark Not Quite Hollywood documentary on Australian exploitation.
Snapshot isn't quite as exploitative as a lot of Australian films of the era, or even most of Vinegar Syndrome's other releases, but it does feel like a slightly downmarket Silence of the Lambs, if that's the kind of thing that tickles your fancy.