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L.A. Aids Jabber (Visual Vengeance) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • L.A. Aids Jabber (Visual Vengeance) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Visual Vengeance
    Released on: August 9th, 2022.
    Director: Drew Godderis
    Cast: Jason Majik, Justin Godderis, Marcy Lynn
    Year: 1994
    Purchase From Amazon

    L.A. Aids Jabber – Movie Review:

    Drew Godderis acted in low budget movies like Blood Diner, Evil Spawn, Cannibal Hookers and Deep Space before he set out, in 1994, to direct his own independent feature. When shooting on 16mm didn’t work out, Godderis did the next best thing and shot his picture, L.A. Aids Jabber, on S-VHS and broadcast grade video tape.

    Released on VHS and DVD under the abbreviated title of simply Jabber (for obvious reasons!), the movie opens with a young man named Jeff (Jason Majik) trying to get it on in the front of his car with his girlfriend. She isn’t having it, and he flips out and she drives him home. During their conversation she mentions his seeing a shrink to work on his problems with women. This isn’t really ever brought up again, but it’s probably important.

    The next day, Jeff goes to his doctor’s office where he’s told that his recent blood work shows that he’s contracted AIDS. Jeff protests, doesn’t believe this could be possible, but the doctor says he rant the blood work twice just to make sure. The doctor offers to get Jeff some counseling and some help, but Jeff once again freaks out. From there, Jeff goes to work where his boss yells at him for being late and being lazy. Rather than acknowledge the fact that his boss is right, Jeff freaks out, only this time he writes his bosses name down on a piece of paper.

    See, Jeff has made a hit list. Now that he’s got AIDS, he’s going to start drawing blood from his own veins with a syringe and injecting it into people he doesn’t like. He starts but getting in touch with the last woman he had sex with, a buxom low rent hooker named Tanya he screwed six months ago. He offers her $100 in cash for a ten minute quickie and she agrees, not knowing what his actual intentions are. He stabs her, the cops are called. A female cop (Marcy Lynn) and her male partner start to dig around and figure out who the jabber could be before he strikes again, but strike again he does. Then the male cop, who helped another male cop strong arm his wife’s ex-husband into leaving her alone, dies when he’s hit off camera by a drunk driver. This isn’t really ever brought up again, but it’s probably important. Then she visits her son and husband, who lover her very much even if she’s never home and appears to live somewhere else entirely. This isn’t really ever brought up again, but it’s probably important.

    When a female reporter (Joy Yurada) is hanging out with her brother, whose boombox magically intercepts a cell phone call from the L.A.P.D’s Chief Of Police asking the morgue to keep things under wraps so as not to cause a panic, she goes on TV to expose the cover up, putting herself in danger in the process.

    A lot of things are brought up once in this movie, seem to be important, only to never be brought up again. There are weird subplots here that go nowhere and the vast majority of the action is questionable in its quality. Still, L.A. Aids Jabber has a weird energy to it and even when it goes in various different directions at once for no discernible reason, it’s pretty entertaining. Shot over a prolonged period of time on weekends, continuity isn’t always strong (Marcy Lynn loses quite a bit of weight over the making of the film and looks quite a bit different depending on what scene you’re watching) but the mid-nineties time capsule factor is strong, adding to the movie’s watchability factor in a big way. We also get some nice footage of the seedier side of Los Angeles, showing off some scuzzy porno theaters and skid row locations that go a long way towards giving this movie an appreciable amount of authentic grit.

    Jason Majik (who previously played a waiter in F.A.R.T. The Movie!) is pretty fun to watch in the lead. He freaks out well and he freaks out a low, contorting his body into strange, scowly, threatening positions as he attempts to sneak up on people and jab’em with his tainted blood. He chews just the right amount of scenery here, putting a lot of effort into creating a memorable character and, for the most part, succeeding if not always for the right reasons.

    The movie builds towards a fairly tense conclusion with a big twist at the end here that, while unexpected, makes absolutely no sense and contradicts pretty much the entirety of the movie that came before it. Is this a strike against the movie? Probably, but it just adds to L.A. Aids Jabber’s wacky charm.

    L.A. Aids Jabber – Blu-ray Review:

    Visual Vengeance brings L.A. Aids Jabber to Region Free Blu-ray famed at 1.33.1 taken from an “new transfer taken from a master standard definition videotape and remastered and upgraded in high definition for this release” using up 12.6GBs of space on a 25GB disc. While the newly created titles look nice and sharp, once the movie itself starts the limitations of the source material here are really obvious. On top of that, the compression could be improved, but honestly, this probably isn’t going to look any better than it does. Colors are faded and detail is soft. Not surprisingly, this looks like a tape – because it basically is, and for those accustomed to the look of older SOV movies, that should be just fine.

    The main audio option for L.A. Aids Jabber is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Again, source limitations are a bit of an issue here and the subtitles do come in handy for that reason. There are a few spots that sound a bit muffled and occasionally dialogue is a little tough to understand. Most of the movie sounds fine, but there are moments that are less than perfect. You can only do so much when working off of old tape sources.

    Extras on the disc are plentiful, starting with an introduction to the movie from writer/director Drew Godderis that runs for just a quick minute. The disc also includes a new commentary track with director Drew Godderis who is joined by Wild Eye Releasing's Rob Hauschild and legendary SOV filmmaker Mark Polonia that is worth a listen. Godderis goes over the early days of his work in the entertainment industry, how he moved from acting to writing and directing, where he got the idea from, writing the early draft of the script, casting the picture, what it was like working with the different cast members, who helped out behind the scenes, the locations and quite a bit more. It’s an active and engaging talk with all three participants pulling their own weight throughout the talk.

    Lethal Injection: The Making of L.A. Aids Jabber is an interview with Drew Godderis that runs for ten minutes. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary track, reviewing Godderis’ days as an actor in a few different B-movies, his work with Fred Olan Ray, making the move to directing, the different titles of the film, how it was distributed on VHS in a very DIY manner and his thoughts on how the movie holds up and the quality of the cast members that he got to work with on the production.

    In the twenty-eight minute Bleeding The Pack: An Interview With Lead Actor Jason Majik, we hear from the jabber himself about how he came to know Godderis after auditioning for a role in a different movie that never worked out, getting the call back from the director when he started work on L.A. Aids Jabber, thoughts on his character and the movie itself, getting along really well with Godderis and what it was like on set.

    Actress Joy Yurada is up next in a six minute piece where she talks about her role in the film as the spunky reporter who gets pulled into all of this, how much she enjoyed working with Godderis, shooting on video compared to shooting on film and how much she really and truly enjoyed working on the movie with everyone.

    An interview with actor Gene Webber spends a quick four minutes reviewing his role as a cop in the movie, his background in stage acting, memories from the shoot, really liking co-star Marcy Lynn, the inspiration that the AIDS epidemic provided for the picture and his thoughts on the movie and its director.

    Cinematographer Rick Bradach speaks for six minutes about how he wound up working on the movie, collaborating with Godderis, how the movie was supposed to have been a 16mm production and his thoughts on the movie.

    Growing Up On Set: Justin Godderis is an interview with the director's son, who has a small role in the film as the son of Marcy Lynn's character. He shares his memories from working on the film, talking about his dad's working process and the time he spent writing the movie over long stretches at a local donut shop that he accompanied him to, his admiration of his father and his thoughts on how the movie approaches the still controversial subject of AIDS.

    Also worth checking out is a nine minute interview with Blood Diner director Jackie Kong who shares some stories about working with Godderis (who played Namtut in the movie), how she was pretty much completely unaware that he was directing SOV movies after working on her film, her thoughts on the feature itself and how it holds up now and a bit more.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc are the a 2021 trailer for the feature, a still gallery, bonus trailer for Feeders, Suburban Sasquatch and Slaughterday as well as menus and chapter selection options.

    We would, however, be remiss if we didn’t mention the packaging for this release. Not only do we get some nice reversible cover sleeve art with some newly created imagery on one side and the original VHS/DVD art on the flip side, but we also get a retro VHS sticker set, a slipcover and a color insert booklet featuring a three page essay on the film written by Tony Strauss.

    L.A. Aids Jabber - The Final Word:

    L.A. Aids Jabber wears its no-budget heart on its sleeve, there’s no hiding it, but it’s got a certain crazy energy to it that, despite some obvious problems with plotting and acting, makes this SOV oddity super watchable (at least, for those who don’t instantly dismiss SOV oddities….sigh). Visual Vengeance continues their mission to bring movies like this to the masses in proper special editions, and while the presentation of the feature itself can only look so good, there wealth of extras and the care put into the overall package is excellent.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized L.A. Aids Jabber Blu-ray screen caps!

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