• Shorts! (Blu-ray Reviews Done Quickly) Vol 6: Scared Stiff, The Grand Duel, and The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (Arrow Video)




    Studio: Arrow Video
    Release Date: October 23rd, 1987 (theatrical) / April 23rd, 2019 (blu-ray)
    Run Time: 83 mins
    Region Code: FREE
    Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
    Sound: LPCM Mono
    Subtitles: English SDH
    Slipcover: Yes (exclusively through www.diabolikdvd.com)
    Digital Copy: No
    Starring: Andrew Stevens, Mary Page Keller, David Ramsey, Bill Hindman, Jackie Davis, and Nicole Fortier
    Written by Richard Friedman, Mark Frost, and Daniel F. Bacaner
    Directed by Richard Friedman
    Rating: R (horror violence)


    Scared Stiff is a bore, and a chore, of a film. The film starts out ok with some backstory, but then quickly grows tired by the time it transitions to the present day. Here we are given a whole bunch of characters who we do not like and wish would go away. This is especially true of the child actor. His delivery is so flat and uninteresting that you wonder if the actor is still alive. The film tries to portray a slow possession, but it comes off as laughable. This is not Richard Dreyfuss slowly losing his mind in Close Encounters of the Third Kind or even the three documentarians getting lost in the forest in The Blair Witch Project. No, this is a man getting mad at some things and then turning into a monster. That’s it. There really is no progression. He yells at his girlfriend, comes to his senses, and then turns into a monster. I will have to give the film credit, though, as the practical effects are very well done. In fact, I saw some things that I had never seen before, so there’s that. That being said, I can not recommend Scared Stiff to anyone outside those who are looking for an 80s horror film they have yet to see. To show how bad this film is, the film’s director, Richard Friedman, went on to direct, right after Scared Stiff, the woefully horrible Doom Asylum, a film I had the displeasure of reviewing last year.

    Arrow Video brings Scared Stiff to blu-ray for the first time and the results are quite pleasing for fans. The picture quality is quite good with a nice layer of grain, some great detail, and accurate colors. The sound is pretty good as well. The special features show that there was a lot of love and care put into the film, but love and care don’t always make the best films. Still, everyone involved speaks very highly of the film. I do think that the comment by the film’s producer about how the film should be held in the same vein as Hellraiser, the film that opened the same day as Scared Stiff, is insane. Fans of Scared Stiff will eat this blu-ray up. For those who have not seen it: skip it.

    Special Features:

    Mansion of the Dead: The Making of Scared Stiff (33m 48s, HD)
    Interview with composer Billy Barber (6m 33s, HD)
    Image Gallery (6m, HD)
    Original Theatrical Trailer (1m 28s, HD)
    Audio Commentary with Richard Friedman and Dan Bacaner




    Studio: Arrow Video
    Release Date: 1974 (theatrical) / May 7th, 2019 (blu-ray)
    Run Time: 98 mins
    Region Code: FREE
    Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
    Sound: English LPCM Mono / Italian LPCM Mono
    Subtitles: English SDH
    Slipcover: No
    Digital Copy: No
    Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Alberto Dentice, Jess Hahn, Horst Frank, Klaus Grünberg, and Antonio Casale
    Written by Ernesto Gastaldi
    Directed by Giancarlo Santi
    Rating: R (western violence and nudity)

    I am starting to think that I do not like spaghetti westerns. There are a few that I like. I like the first two films in the Man with No Name trilogy (yes, I do not like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.) and there are a few others that I like, but the more I see, the more I dislike them. I went into The Grand Duel with high hopes. The film is spoken off highly and it stars Lee Van Cleef, so it can’t be all that bad. For the first third of the film, I was liking it. I loved Van Cleef here and the other actors were doing ok. Then the film just lost me. I can’t really tell you when it was, but I just started to get bored with the film. The film looks great and the soundtrack, oh the soundtrack. The score is the best thing about the film, followed closely by the cinematography. Van Cleef is great, but he can’t make the film good. The director is clearly trying to make a Sergio Leone film, but the film doesn’t have the same feel as a Leone film. It looks and sounds the part, but the soul is missing. I think that if the film was a bit tighter in the edit and the story not stretched out, I think that I might have liked it more.

    Arrow Video brings The Grand Duel to blu-ray, after Mill Creek did so a while ago, and the results are really great. The film was remastered in 2K and looks really good. Colors are great with skin tones really shining. Grain leads to some nice detail and there are some nice black levels. The sound, in both English and Italian, is great. Arrow really stacked the special features. There are interviews with the director, the writer, the producer, the assistant director, and an actor. There is also a video appreciation of the film as well as a comparison between the original version of the film and the German version, which is longer. Everything wraps up with a short film starring Marc Mazza and a short doc about the elusive actor. All around, this is a great blu-ray that fans will love and may also bring in new fans.

    Special Features:

    Audio Commentary by Stephen Price
    An Unconventional Western (31m 40s, HD) Brand new interview with director Giancarlo Santi. Italian with English subtitles
    The Last of the Great Westerns (25m 37s, HD) Brand new interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi. Italian with English subtitles
    Cowboy by Chance (35m 32s, HD) Brand new interview with actor Albert Dentice aka Peter O’Brien. Italian with English subtitles
    Out of the Box (29m 2s, HD) Brand new interview with producer Ettore Rosbach. Italian with English subtitles
    The Day of the Big Showdown (21m 7s, HD) Brand new interview with assistant director Harold Buggenig. Italian with subtitles
    Saxon City Showdown (15m 32s, HD) Newly filmed video appreciation by academic Austin Fisher. Italian with English subtitles
    Two Different Duels (15m 38s, HD) A comparison between the original cut and the longer German cut.
    Game Over (9m 12s, HD, 2.39:1) An obscure sci-fi short film from 1984 directed by Bernard Villiot and starring The Grand Duel’s Marc Mazza. French with English subtitles
    Marc Mazza: Who Was the Rider on the Rain? (12m 32s, HD) Video essay about the elusive actor Marc Mazza by documentary filmmaker Mike Malloy
    Original Trailer:
    -International (2m 56s, HD)
    -Italian (2m 56s, HD) Italian with English Subtitles
    Image Galleries:
    -Stills, Posters, and Press (18 images)
    -Lobby Cards (34 images)
    -Super 8mm, Home Video, and Soundtrack Sleeve (16 images)



    Studio: Arrow Video
    Release Date: August 24th, 1971 (theatrical) / April 9th, 2019 (blu-ray)
    Run Time: 92 mins
    Region Code: FREE
    Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
    Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Italian DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
    Subtitles: English and English SDH
    Slipcover: No.
    Digital Copy: No.
    Starring: Luigi Pistilli, Dagmar Lassander, Anton Diffring, Arthur O'Sullivan, Werner Pochath, and Dominique Boschero
    Written by Riccardo Freda and Sandro Continenza
    Directed by Riccardo Freda
    Rating: Not Rated (bloody violence and nudity)

    I have been on the lookout for new giallo ever since getting into them via Dario Argento and Mario Bava so I can not tell you how excited I was when The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire showed up on my doorstep. I had never heard of the film, but I had a really good feeling about the film.

    After watching the film I can say that this one is a stinker. The film starts out really well with a very graphic kill. This kill was so good that I figured that the film would get even crazier. I was completely wrong. The film falls into a pattern of confusing the audience with nonsensical nonsense while trying to pretend it is a giallo. I had a hard time watching this film because after about twenty minutes I became very confused. I couldn’t really tell you what was happening nor who the characters were. I understand that giallo are supposed to keep the audience guessing, but this was ridiculous. On top of that, the kills never come close to the opening kill which disappointed me to no end. I thought that maybe I missed something in the film, but the video appreciation found in the special features confirms everything in the film I had problems with. Needless to say, but The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire, while having a great title, is the worst giallo I have seen yet.

    This blu-ray, from Arrow Video, will make fans of the film very happy. The video and sound quality are both excellent. The special features are excellent as well with the previously mentioned video appreciation being a standout for me. The rest of the features are all wonderful, but none helped me understand what the hell was going on in the film like that video appreciation.

    Special Features:

    Audio Commentary with Adrian J. Smith and David Flint
    Of Chameleons and Iguanas (21m 55s, HD) Brand new appreciation by cultural critic and academic Richard Dyer
    Considering Cipriani (25m 58s, HD) New appreciation of the composer Stelvio Cipriani and his score to The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire by DJ and soundtrack collector Lovely Jon
    The Cutting Game (20m 58s, HD) New interview with the film’s assistant editor Bruno Micheli. Italian with English subtitles
    The Red Queen of Hearts (20m 38s, HD) Career-spanning interview with actress Dagmar Lassander
    Original Trailers:
    -International (2m 54s, HD)
    -Italian (2m 54s, HD) Italian with English subtitles
    Image Galleries:
    -Stills, lobby cards, posters, press, and home video releases (22 images)
    -Cinesex fotoromanzo photo novel (30 images)

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