In the Cold of the Night (1990)

3 Beers

“Mother has this thing about birds.” 

Before diving into a trippy sequence of serial killer activities, In the Cold of the Night opens with a fantastic photo shoot full of neon colors and string bikinis.  Oh la la.  But the fun doesn’t end there.  A wild sex scene on a waterbed ends the evenings shenanigans.  At least it is supposed to.  But that’s not what happens when this LA photographer (Jeff Lester) closes his eyes to sleep . . .

. . . because he dreams of murder and he’s the one doing all the killing.

Written and directed by Nico Mastorakis, In the Cold of the Night tells the tale of Scott Bruin, a fashion photographer, who doesn’t know what to do with his paranoia-causing dreams of murder.  He asks his best friend, Phil (Brian Thompson), to stay the night one night; to keep watch of him.  Phil, with a baseball bat in his hands, agrees to make sure that Scott goes nowhere.  They even videotape the sleep session.

And nothing happens.  Not even the fluorescent light emanating from the water bed can’t disturb him.  But the next day, in broad daylight, he slips into “killer vision” again and sees Kimberly (Adrienne Sachs), the woman he is murdering in these fantasies.  Weird, right?

In the Cold of the Night might not be all that great of a plotted out movie; however, the visual style – thanks to Mastorakis and director of photography Andreas Bellis – makes this one a treasure of psychological badassness.  It’s creepy and it’s killer cool, making the dreams feel all the more real for Scott and the people around him, including David Soul as Dr. Frieberg, Shannon Tweed as Lena, and Tippi Hedren as Clara. 

The film tips its hat to Hitchcock in more ways than one.  It’s use of Los Angeles locales, including Muscle Beach, is top-notch, too.  And that killer sax, man, makes it all go down so smooth.  Nothing screams sex like the lone saxophone wailing in the night.  All of this adds to the mystery as Scott figures out what is going on inside his brain and, yes, it has to do with a video camera, his teeth, and an evil businessman (Marc Singer) who wants to profit off a deal with the Japanese. 

But, before we go on that wild ride, we have plenty of photography sessions, nudity, and cheesy romance courtesy of this soft core skin flick and its threat of designer condoms.  It’s not all downhill, though.  This one is more than content to keep its eyes on the prize and deliver one trippy sequence of stalking and killing after another. 

In the Cold of the Night, thanks to the work of Vinegar Syndrome, is now on blu-ray thanks to a new 4K scan and restoration from the film’s original 35mm camera negative.  Namedropping Brian De Palma all the way to the closing credits, this erotic thriller attempts to be more clever than it actually is, but the film isn’t a complete waste.  There are some pretty funny bits and, hell, when Kimberly rides her motorcycle INTO his loft, see if you don’t fall in love, too.

This special limited edition embossed slipcover is designed by Derek Gabryszak and is limited to 1,500 units.  It is only available here VinegarSyndrome.com.

Blu-ray Specifications:

This region Free Blu-ray/DVD combo is newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative.  It looks better than ever.  Black levels are consistent and so, too, are the colors.  The new 1080p transfer is crisp with defined edges. Colors are vivid and fine details are noticeable. Skin tones are warm. Occasionally, the red tones overcompensate in some areas, but a sharp-looking release nonetheless. The faithful English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is an incredible accompaniment to the feature.

Commentary:

None.

Special Features:

Not a lot, but the restoration is work the buck.

Archival Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

Archival Image Gallery

Original Trailer

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Showdown: MVD Rewind Collection (1993)

5 Beers

“Why are there potatoes on the board every day?  Who took my desk?  Put that knife away!”

If your high school was anything like the knife-wielding, gun-toting, slingshot-carrying school that is featured in Showdown then, man, you just might be a true survivor.  This high school is not much fun.  I mean, lots of angry students attend and, with halls full of graffiti and skateboards galore, it comes across as a stereotype to all the 1990s angst that fed the grunge scene.

That being said, there is something wonderfully clueless and, dare I suggest, timeless about this goofy coming-of-age-narrative set inside a high school which feels like a really ridiculous attempt at a Lifetime movie.  Showdown, an Imperial Entertainment release, was a straight-to-video highlight for me.  I loved it and its “I left my cat in the microwave” jokes. 

And, once I heard that MVD Entertainment was going to release it on blu-ray, I knew that it had finally achieved a respectable cult following.  And why not?  The film is an absolute scream and the MVD Rewind Collection are PROS at going hard on this VHS classics.  Yeah, I said it.  Showdown is a goddamned classic of the VHS era.  Eat that. 

And so the release is finally upon us.  THE perfect rip-off of The Karate Kid, compete with the girl you should not make eyes at (Christine Taylor, The Wedding Singer), the bully (Ken McLeod), the best friend (Mike (John Mallory Asher), the sensei (Billy Blanks, The Last Boy Scout), and all the martial art takedowns that you could ever handle.

has arrived on blu-ray thanks to MVD Entertainment.  Showdown, directed by Robert Radler (Best of the Best) and written by Stuart Gibbs, where’s its inspiration on its sleeve and, damn, if we don’t LOVE it for it.  A High School.  Martial Arts.  And two rivals.  It’s all there . . .

. . . of course, the only difference here is the inclusion of Banks as a police officer with a tragic past and by tragic I don’t just mean Banks’ lack of acting abilities.  There’s the clothes, the music, the acting, and the whole soap operatic feel of the movie.

Okay, so Showdown, co-starring Patrick Kilpatrick (Death Warrant), James Lew (Best of the Best), is a definite copycat flick.  IT’s also hilarious obvious with its drama, its violence, and its overbearing machismo.  The proof of its “inspiration” happens when, seven years after the tragedy that causes Banks to leave the police force, a Kansas teenager, Kenn Scott (Kenn Scott, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze), arrives in Paradise Valley, Arizona and goes to high school on the first day.  No one likes him; he’s the obvious midwestern outcast. 

Hell, even Brion Jones (Blade Runner) as Vice Principal Kowalski gives him grief on the first day. 

And soon enough, the dufus from Kansas is talking to the wrong girl.  Yup, he’s headed for a classic confrontation.  The surprise is that Banks, remember he’s an ex-cop, is now a janitor and offers, as Ken makes enemies left and right, offers to train the young man and turn him into a lean, mean, fighting machine. 

This film and its cast are all completely hopeless.  But, my goddess, I absolutely love every goofy minute of Showdown and now, thanks to the MVD Rewind Collection, Showdown has arrived on blu-ray!

Success is control.  Control is success. 

Blu-ray Specifications:

The newly transferred High Definition Blu-ray (and Standard Definition DVD) presentation looks cool. While it takes place mainly in a high school, this 1080p transfer captures crisp details in clothing and in locations that are textured and fine. Loaded with juicy details, this is an atmospheric release that doesn’t shy away from the sunlight either. It has dark layers, yes, and those shadows are well-defined and crisp but the new transfer does not disappoint. The brand new 1.78:1 HD master is detailed and looks better than ever. Some shots, due to the era of the day, are fuzzier than others but the image is reasonably well defined with crisp contrasts and solid textures. Colors are solid, with reds being a standout. Blacks are, too. Surprisingly, there's enough fine detail on display to make this seem revelatory. The era-ready color palette looks terrific, too. The disc comes with the original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks.

Commentary:

None.

Special Features:

Featuring the original R-Rated version of the film, MVD Collection has once again got out of their way to make this VHS favorite a jam-packed release.  We get new interviews with the cast and the crew and a GREAT making of feature; all of which are brand-new.

ORIGINAL R-RATED VERSION OF THE FILM (98 MINUTES)

NEW "The Making of "Showdown" (new feature length documentary with director Robert Radler, writer Stuart Gibbs and stars Billy Blanks, Kenn Scott, John Asher, Patrick Kilpatrick and Michael Genovese) (HD, 98 mins)

NEW Robert Radler: Portrait of a Director featurette (HD, 12 mins)

NEW Billy Blanks: Martial Arts Legend featurette (HD, 15 mins)

NEW The Fights of "Showdown" featurette (HD, 47 mins)

NEW "Showdown": Anatomy of a Scene featurette (HD, 7 mins)

Photo Gallery

Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)

Collectible Mini- Poster

Optional English subtitles for the main feature

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