A group of young actors and actresses are hired by a mysterious agent to put on an improv show at an old abandoned theater on a pier. When they show up for rehearsals, it’s the off season, so hardly anyone is around, and since the local rooming house is far too expensive, they all end up staying in the theater. Unfortunately for them, that played right into the hands of their mysterious employer, and one by one they start getting murdered. Now they have to figure out who’s doing the killing and put a stop to it before it’s too late.
Unlike Frightmare, which I also reviewed in this issue, Pete Walker didn’t write this one. This film was directed by him, but it was written by Alfred Shaughnessy, and while the style is the same, the quality of the story isn’t. It’s not bad at all, but it doesn’t quite measure up to what was accomplished in Frightmare.
That said, this is quite a good film on its own merits. Most of the film takes place in a really creepy old theater, the acting is quite good for this type of a film and the story is mostly coherent. The ending doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because when they figure out who the killer is, they also figure out how he did the original killings so many years ago and recreate that scenario for him to get him to come clean in front of the police. While they did research the killings, they had no way of connecting that with the guy they eventually figured out was doing it, nor would they have known exactly how it happened. So that was the one part of the story that didn’t really work. As for the rest of it, it was a pretty decent mystery and would be a great film to watch on a quiet, weekend evening.
There is one technical thing I’d like to mention about this release as well. There’s supposed to be a 3D sequence toward the end for ten minutes in stereoscopic format. I was unable to see it because while I do have a 3D television and blu-ray player, I was unable to get the disc to actually play in that particular player, and as such was unable to see it. The film just played normally without the 3D on the player I was able to get the disc to work with.
Now, that said, there’s really not much more to say about it without giving too much of the mystery away, but it brings me to something else I want to talk about because it relates to both this film and Frightmare. I would implore Kino and all of the other companys out there to stop with all the DRM and encryption garbage they do with their discs. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just a one time thing, but it’s constantly changing. I was unable to play either of the films I received from Kino this month on my computer using my usual software. I had to jump through hoops and install an entirely new player just to get them to actually play. When I took this film out to play it in the living room in our LG stanalone 3D blu-ray player, which just a few days ago had its firmware updated mind you, it wouldn’t play at all. I put it into a secondary Phillips player that hasn’t had its firmware updated in ages, and it played just fine. So my message to all of the distributors out there is to PLEASE stop with this crap. It makes things incredibly difficult for the consumer and there’s nothing you’re ever going to do that won’t be cracked and decrypted by a whole slew of easily available programs anyway. Why make things harder on the average consumer, especially when most places won’t take back an already opened disc, and even if they do the buyer would just be sent yet another disc that wouldn’t work anyway, so what’s the point to it all? Yes I realize this wasn’t the place to talk about this really, but it’s something that needed to be said. I’d also just like to make it clear that I’m speaking about the blu-ray release here. I’m sure the DVD release works just fine.
This release comes with an interview with Pete Walker called Flesh, Blood and Censorship, the 3D sequence at the end of the film and the original theatrical trailer as special features.
The film is quite good and rather entertaining (as long as you can get it to play). Can I recommend it? Absolutely, I’m more than happy to recommend the film itself. As for the blue-ray discs and their new protections…not so much.
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the DVD or blu-ray from Amazon or from any of the other usual outlets.