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Steel And Lace (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Steel And Lace (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 26th, 2021.
    Director: Ernest Farino
    Cast: Clare Wren, Bruce Davison, Stacy Haiduk, David Naughton, Michael Cerveris
    Year: 1991
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Steel And Lace - Movie Review:

    The only feature film directed by Ernest D. Farino, who did effects work on films like The Terminator, The Abyss and The Thing, 1991's Steel And Lace is a solid low budget direct to video picture written by Joseph Dougherty and Dave Edison.

    The film tells the story of a man named Albert Morton (Bruce Davison) who is a bit of a genius when it comes to designing robots. When his sister, Gaily (Clare Wren), is wrapped and then opts to take her own life, Albert snaps and when the wealthy asshole who raped Gaily in the first place, Daniel Emerson (Michael Cerveris) is found not guilty, Albert snaps some more.

    See, Albert isn't willing to just let this go. He wants revenge, because he knows that Emerson and his cronies bought a bunch of people off and that the trail was never going to be a fair one in the first place. To get his revenge, he builds a robot that is a dead ringer for Gaily and equips it with some neat, gadgety weapons, the best of which is a spinning blade that pops out of its chest and makes giving it a hug a dangerous and bloody prospect. Since the robot looks like a hot chick, it's able to lure out Emerson and the rest of the bad guys and see that justice is served. Albert has even gone so far as to include a camera inside the robot that allows him to observe the carnage!

    When bodies start to pile up, a cop named Dunn (David Naughton) and his chain-smoking ex-girlfriend, Alison (Stacy Haiduk), who works as a sketch artist, work the case together, hoping to figure out what's going on and how to stop it before more people wind up dead.

    The main plot of the film works really well, the subplot with Naughton, who is quite likeable, and Haiduk, who is less likeable but admittedly very pretty, less so. When the movie switches to these sequences, it slows down and the material winds up feeling like unnecessary padding. Thankfully, it's the subplot and not the main course, as the storyline with Robo-Gaily is actually pretty cool and more than interesting enough to hold our attention. The story also works its way up to a solid ending, offering a nice mix of action, horror, gore, unnecessary nudity and robot-centric sci-fi for good measure. Bonus points for a cool flaming dummy death with the iconic Capital Records building in the background.

    Wren is somehow very good as a killer robot babe. She plays the part well, never breaking a sweat and always looking the part, seductive and appealing when she needs to be and then cold and calculating in the kill scenes. She and Bruce Davison has the chemistry that Naughton and Haiduk so clearly lack, and they're a lot of fun to watch here. Davison gets to chew some scenery and rant a few times, something that he does well.

    Production values are modest and the film looks very much like the product of the era in which it was made, but the murder set pieces are seriously cool and the splatter effects are quite good. The robot effects maybe less so, but still fun to see. The cinematography is better than you'd probably expect and that aforementioned subplot aside, Ernest Farino mostly does a nice job controlling the pacing and keeping things moving in the right direction.

    Steel And Lace - Blu-ray Review:

    Steel And Lace arrives on Region A Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.35.1 and 1.78.1 widescreen options, separate transfers taking up 19.7 and 25.6Gbs of space respectively on the shared 50GB disc. Presented 'newly restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive,' the 1.33.1 option is the aspect ratio that the film was intended for and the compositions do work better when the movie is watched this way. Some of the 1.78.1 framing looks a bit tight in comparison, it was originally done this was for cable broadcast to appease widescreen TV set owners. Both transfers are pretty grainy but free of most actual print damage. Colors look good and detail is pretty solid here as well. We get accurate skin tones, nice black levels and good depth with a picture that is consistently film-like, showing no compression or authoring issues.

    Both versions of the film get an identical 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo option in the film's native English. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Audio quality is fine, the track has decent range and is properly balanced. There are no audible problems with any hiss or distortion and the dialogue is always clean and easy to follow.

    Extras kick off with a commentary track courtesy of director Ernest Farino who talks about shooting the opening scene with a grinder to get the sparks effect before then going on to talk about his appreciation for the editor that he worked with on the film, the different locations that were used for the film, casting the film, timing the reveals in the film very carefully, having to do casts of certain actors to get some of the effects work completed, how much fun a lot of the cast members were to work with, how tricky shooting scenes in boardrooms are when you want to make and keep them interesting, the order in which certain scenes were shot, shooting the dummy death and how he feels about the picture overall.

    The main extra on this disc is a fifty-eight minute making of documentary entitled Iron, Carbon, Anger: The Elements Of Steel And Lace that is made up of interviews with Farino, producer John Schouweiler, co-writer Joseph Dougherty, co-writer Dave Edison, cinematographer Thomas Callaway, composer John Massari, casting director Ira Belgrade, editor Christopher, special effects artist Roy Knyrim and cast members Stacy Haiduk, David Naughton, John MeMita, Hank Garret and Paul Lieber. As you'd imagine, this is very thorough, going over Farino's directing work and how he came to work on Steel And Lace, writing scripts for 'low budget ne'erdowells' like Charles Band and Roger Corman, the formation of the Freeze Company, working on the script, how the different cast members wound up coming to work on the film, thoughts on their characters and the film itself, what went into casting the film, how supportive Farino was as a director, putting the effects set pieces together, the film's shooting schedule, the use of 'lens flare' at the end, getting the POV of the drop at the end of the movie, working with animatronics, the editing process, scoring the film and some of the themes that the storyline deals with such as the family drama and the pain of less.

    An extensive behind the scenes photo gallery, menus and chapter selection finish up the extras on the disc, but this release does come packaged with some reversible cover sleeve art and a limited edition slipcover.

    Steel And Lace - The Final Word:

    Steel And Lace is a solid genre mashup, a fine slice of low budget entertainment that, despite a hiccup or two, works far better than you'd probably expect it to thanks to some decent acting, solid production values are strong murder set pieces. Vinegar Syndrome has given this unlikely candidate a proper special edition Blu-ray release, doing a great job with the presentation and going above and beyond with the extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Steel And Lace Blu-ray screen caps!





























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