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Schizoid/X-Ray (Vinegar Syndrome) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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  • Schizoid/X-Ray (Vinegar Syndrome) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: March 29th, 2022.
    Director: David Paulsen/Boaz Davidson
    Cast: Klaus Kinski, Donna Wilkes, Marianna Hill, Christopher Lloyd, Barbi Benton, Charles Lucia, Jon Van Ness
    Year: 1980/1982
    Purchase From Amazon

    Schizoid/X-Ray – Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome gives two early eighties Cannon Films productions the 4k UHD treatment with their double feature release of Schizoid and X-Ray!

    Schizoid:

    Directed by David Paulsen and released in 1980, Schizoid tells the story of a Los Angeles newspaper advice columnist named Julie (Marianna Hill) who is going through what seems like an amiable enough divorce from her soon to be ex-husband Doug (Craig Wasson). Early in the film, Julie starts receiving letter made in a cut and paste style from newspaper pieces that threaten her with violence, a shooting specifically. At first she doesn’t pay it much mind, but when they keep coming, she goes to the police.

    Julie is also one of a few patients of one Dr. Pieter Fales (Klaus Kinski) who meet for group therapy sessions. Julie interacts fairly regularly at work with the newspaper building’s weird custodian, Gilbert (Christopher Lloyd), who also attends the sessions now and again.

    When the members of these group sessions start dropping dead, each stabbed by a maniac wielding a pair of very sharp scissors! Complicating matters further is the fact that Pieter is messing around with a few of his patients, including Julie, who he has over for dinner one night much to the dismay of his irritable teenaged daughter, Alison (Angel herself, Donna Wilkes!), who really doesn’t want Julie to move in and take the place of her deceased mother.

    Is the person sending Julie the threatening letters and the scissor-wielding killer one and the same?

    Set to a really cool score by Craig Huxley, Schizoid may not reinvent the wheel but it’s a serviceable slasher-style thriller made better than average thanks to some pretty solid performances. Kinski, who doesn’t really go off until the end of the film where we get to see him running around with a hammer and yelling a lot, actually plays Dr. Fales with more restraint than you’d expect, given his reputation, but he makes it work. He’s good in the role and he suits the part. Marianna Hill makes for a likeable lead, she seems smart and savvy and we certainly understand her fear and trepidation as things go from bad to worse for her. Donna Wilkes chews a lot of scenery as a hyper-emotional teenaged girl, but that’s kind of what the part asks for, so we can’t fault her for that even if her character is a bit of a brat. Lloyd plays the quirky type you’d figure he would, but he does it well.

    Paulsen paces the movie pretty well, throwing in a couple of good murder set pieces and doing a fairly decent job of building suspense. The opening murder, which takes place at an abandoned house that looks like a rejected set from Texas Chain Saw Massacre, is quite effective, as is the killing of a stripper in a dark alleyway. Production values are good as well, with Norman Leigh’s cinematography generally impressive, making good use of some nice sets and good lighting.

    Seasoned horror fans will probably see the big reveal coming, but at least Schizoid provides a fun ride getting there.

    X-Ray:

    Also known as Hospital Massacre, Boaz Davidson’s 1982 film, X-Ray, opens in 1961 where a girl named Susan and her brother are home alone. When somenoe comes to the door, it turns out a young boy has left Susan a Valentine's Day card and then split. Susan opens the card, reads it and starts to laugh. She can't see the boy’s reaction outside, but we can, and it obviously isn't positive and soon enough, her brother is dead.

    Two decades later and Susan (Barbi Benton) has grown into a beautiful woman. When he arrives at her local hospital to undergo what should be some routine testing procedures, her doctor vanishes and when she enquires about what's going on, she isn't given much in the way of answers but is basically forced to spend the night. As the story moves on, it becomes obvious that someone who is obsessed with Susan is running about the hospital murdering people, and that someone has been messing with her records, her x-ray specifically, to ensure she isn't allowed to leave.

    X-Ray is an odd film, but it’s also a pretty entertaining one. Barbi Benton is a little wooden but not bad in it. She looks great in the part, plenty easy on the eyes, and was likely cast more for that than for her acting abilities, but if she won’t blow your mind, she’s decent to handle the material. The supporting players are all fine here as well, but this is pretty much Benton’s show and the former Playboy model is very much the focus of the film.

    Boaz Davidson’s direction keeps the movie tense and fairly exciting. The film builds suspense quite effectively and the locations are great too. There's a weird Cronenbergian vibe to some of the medical scenes that make them feel just a little off kilter. And then there's a whole subplot about the 'ninth floor' of the hospital which has been shut down for fumigation where things are just flat out weird. There are some good murder set pieces here too.

    The only major problem with the movie is that there is virtually no character development. Even by the admittedly fairly low character development standards of the typical 80's slasher movie this one scores low marks in that department. Otherwise, X-Ray is really solid and semi-sleazy entertainment, even if the 'twist' at the end is goofy.

    Schizoid/X-Ray – UHD Review:

    Each film is presented on its own separate disc and taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative and presented with HDR10. The HEVC encoded 2160p 4k transfers are both framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and look excellent. The colors are bright and bold bot don’t look too hot as they have on some other Vinegar Syndrome UHD releases, and they pop quite nicely. The images are virtually spotless, you’ll be very hard pressed to spot any obvious print damage during either film, but film grain is retained and always looks nice and natural here, the hefty bit-rate handling things without any trouble. There are no noticeable compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction problems to note, and we get strong black levels and accurate looking skin tones.

    Audio options are provided in English language DTS-HD 2.0 for both features, with optional English subtitles provided on each disc. Audio is clean, clear and properly balanced for both pictures. Dialogue is easy to understand, the films’ respective scores sound good and there are no issues with any noticeable hiss, distortion or sibilance.

    There are no extras on the two UHD discs in the set, but the third disc, a Region A locked Blu-ray containing AVC encoded 1080p high definition versions of each movie taken from the same new 4k restorations that were used on the UHDs, contains quite a bit of supplemental material.

    First up is Shooting By March, which is a brand new interview with Schizoid writer/director David Paulsen that runs for seven minutes. He talks about how he came to write Schizoid in two weeks and directed it 'for a couple of pennies.' He also goes over the film's low budget and rushed production schedule, where the inspiration for the movie came from and how he actually got along well with Kinski, who he describes as 'a character' who wanted to speak French on set the entire time.

    Hide the Scissors is a brand new interview with Schizoid actress Donna Wilkes that runs just over five minutes and covers her auditioning for the role, getting along with David Paulsen, her thoughts on her character, working with Kinski and trying to learn from him, being impressed with the rest of the cast and how she stabbed Craig Wasson by accident during the shoot.

    Blood in the Jacuzzi is a new interview with Schizoid makeup artist Erica Ueland who speaks for seven minutes about shooting parts of the film in the Cannon Films office, working for the BFI before moving to Hollywood, how she got the job on Schizoid, creating the makeup to replicate the aftermath of the stabbings in the film, working with the different cast members in the picture, noting that Kinski was quite generous and would bring her chocolates from his trips to Europe.

    A Wellesley Graduate is a new six minute interview with Schizoid actress Flo Lawrence who is credited as Flo Gerrish in the film. She talks about playing the stripper character in the film, how she got the part, getting along with Paulsen and how much she enjoyed working with him, shooting her death scene, having to learn about topless dancing for the role and more.

    A Wellesley Graduate is a new six minute interview with Schizoid actress Flo Lawrence who is credited as Flo Gerrish in the film. She talks about playing the stripper character in the film, how she got the part, getting along with Paulsen and how much she enjoyed working with him, shooting her death scene, having to learn about topless dancing for the role and more.

    Ultra Violet Vengeance: The Talent & Technicians Of X-Ray is a new making-of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew of X-Ray. Here, over twenty-seven minutes, we hear from actor Jon Van Ness, director of photography Nicholas Von Sternberg, actor Jimmy Stathis, wardrobe assistant Carin Berger, gaffer Alan Caso, make-up master Allan Apone and first camera assistant David Boyd. They cover the specific look of the film, the makeup effects, the casting process, what it was like working with Benton (who everyone seems to have really liked), interesting things that happened on the shoot, the hospital setting and using an actual closed down hospital for most of the shoot, the film's murder set pieces, how they feel that the movie turned out in hindsight, working with Davidson on the production and plenty more.

    Bad Medicine is an archival interview, carried over from the previous Shout! Factory release, with X-Ray’s director Boaz Davidson that runs for thirteen minutes. This piece covers how horror wasn't really his forte when he made the film, growing up in Israel and immigrating to the United States and eventually working in Hollywood, how he connected with Golan and Globus, working with the different cast and crew members on the shoot, the popularity of horror movies at the time, how he wound up directing X-Ray, his preference for shooting on location, how nice Benton was to work with and how the film was received.

    Finishing up the extras on the Blu-ray disc is the original theatrical trailer for Schizoid, menus and chapter selection options.

    As far as the packaging for this release goes, Vinegar Syndrome provides some reversible cover sleeve artwork and, for the first three thousand copies purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome’s website, a limited edition embossed slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr.

    Schizoid/X-Ray – The Final Word:

    Schizoid and X-Ray are both pretty enjoyably early eighties horror efforts that offer some decent tensions, memorable murder set pieces and fun cast members. Vinegar Syndrome’s UHD/Blu-ray combo pack release offers some excellent presentations for the two features and a nice selection of supplements to go alongside them. All in all, this makes for a nice package overall.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Schizoid/X-Ray Blu-ray screen caps!

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