No announcement yet.

Home Grown Horrors Volume Two (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Home Grown Horrors Volume Two (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Click image for larger version  Name:	cover.jpg Views:	1 Size:	48.6 KB ID:	408498

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 25th, 2022.
    Director: Jimmy Lee, Michael S. O'Rourke, Dennis Devine
    Cast: Barry Wyatt, Jake Henry, Francine Lapensée, Blake Gibbons, Ingrid Vold, John Marzilli, Tom Hamil, Diana Karanikas, Angela Eads, Kay Schaber
    Year: 1989/1989/1990
    Purchase From Amazon

    Home Grown Horrors Volume Two – Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome second Home Grown Horrors collection assembles three films made between 1989 and 1990 outside of the studio system. Financed independently, these low budget marvels more than make up what they lack in polish with character and plenty of local flavor.

    Hanging Heart:

    Written and directed by a Korean immigrant named Jimmy Lee who reportedly went to the American Film Institute, 1989’s Hanging Heart tells the dramatic and sordid story of a young man named Denny (Barry Wyatt). He's got a big role in an upcoming live theater production but when an unknown killer starts knocking off some of the other players, starting with a female co-star that Denny was sleeping with, the cops, led by George McGill (Dan Zukovic), figure Denny was the one who strangled the poor blonde fox and they throw him in the slammer! To their credit, a janitor did see Denny holding the victim's lifeless corpse, but he was in the shower when she was killed and the janitor didn't see that part.

    Denny's other problem is that he's just too much of a hunk and everyone wants a piece of what he's got to offer. When he's eventually let out of jail, another woman that Denny was 'familiar' with turns up dead, also the victim of strangulation, and the cops, somewhat understandably at this point, again figure he's got a hand in this. The only one who seems to be on Denny's side in all of this is his defense attorney, a wealthy man named Elliot Scott (Jake Henry). Denny knows that Elliott has a thing for him, and he even has a surprisingly graphic nightmare about Elliott takes him in the shower. Elliott has a weird fixation on Denny and even sees him as a Christ-like figure at one point in the movie.

    That said, Denny knows that he's innocent and that someone is trying to frame him for the killings, but who - and why? Does it all tie back to his childhood?

    This isn’t really a horror movie, but it is definitely a weird movie. Shot by cinematographer Silvio Santini, Hanging Heart is a very nice looking movie. It has good lighting and strong camerawork. It manages to be visually interesting throughout its duration and doesn’t lack in polish.

    The acting is… odd. Fittingly odd. Barry Wyatt definitely looks right for the part, he’s a handsome guy and you can see why other characters in the film would be attracted to him, but he’s weirdly distant throughout all of this. Jake Henry does a pretty nice job of chewing some scenery in the latter half of the film, and we thank him for that as he’s fun to watch. Francine Lapensée of Demon Wind and Alien Private Eye also has a supporting role in the film as Julie, essentially the female lead, and she does what she can with the material.

    Full of unusual homoerotic subtext and imagery, it’s an odd film full of pretty massive logic gaps (we never figure out why Denny goes to trial and is let off before the L.A.P.D. finishes investigating his crime!) and pacing problems that is somehow both fascinatingly watchable and tedious at the same time. The hour and forty-three minute running time can seem insurmountable at times, but by the time it all ends, you’re at least left wondering what exactly you just watched. Hanging Heart might not be good, but it is definitely different. Be on the lookout for a pretty random scene where an old man falls out of his wheelchair for reasons known only to Lee!


    1989's Moonstalker was written and directed by Michael S. O'Rourke and it takes place pretty much entirely on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada. After a prologue where some randy 'teens' have sex and get killed outside their motorhome, we cut to the present day. Here a family sets up for a winter camping expedition in the hills. Things are fine until an older man calling himself Pop (Tom Hamil) pulls up in an RV. The father asks him to give them some space and he obliges, but soon enough he's talking them up - but they don't realize that his deformed adult male son, Bernie (Blake Gibbons, who would go on to star in General Hospital!), is with him. Before you know it, that night Bernie goes on a rampage and not only kills almost everyone in the family but steals their microwave as well!

    See, Bernie was recently busted out of an asylum by his old man but clearly, he's not cured from whatever has damaged his brain and turned him into a killing machine. When Pop has a heart attack, Bernie's left alone in the woods that just so happen to be within walking distance of a training camp populated by randy 'teens' run by a drill sergeant type who plans to whip these kids into shape and turn them into the best damn camp counselors you've ever seen.

    Unless Bernie gets to them first...

    …and of course he does. Moonstalker, which was clearly made on a modest budget and without the world’s most experienced crew, might be full of bad acting from a cast of unknowns and slasher movie clichés but it’s a really fun watch in spite of, or maybe because of, all of this. It isn’t an especially unique film and the whole opening stretch with the family and the microwave doesn’t add much to the storyline at all, but it does at least provide O’Rourke and company the chance to throw in a few more kills and random… microwave related weirdness? Yeah, we’ll go with that. It’s accurate.

    While Moonstalker is, basically, a brainless body count movie, it hits most of the right notes at most of the right times it needs to hit them. The camp counsellors in training are clichés – there’s a horny girl, a nice girl, a jock guy and a nerdy guy – but the wintery Nevada mountains make for a really solid location to stage a horror picture. The movie is pretty solid in its pacing and it builds to a really strong finale where the filmmakers do a pretty successful job of effectively ramping up the tension you’d hope for.

    Dead Girls

    Filmmaker Dennis Devine's second directorial effort was 1990's Dead Girls, a low budget slasher picture that shows us what happens "when rock n' roll fantasy becomes terrifying reality!" (or at least that's what the cover of the VHS releases promised).

    The titular Dead Girls are a mostly all-female rock band (their drummer is a man) that has achieved infamy for their songs dealing in topics like death and suicide. We're supposed to believe they are a metal band, but they don't really sound very metal. They look good though, and for this movie, that's all that really matters. The band members have cool stage names like Lucy Lethal, Cynthia Slayed, Nancy Napalm, Bertha Beirut and Randy Rot.

    Anyway, just as the band is about to go on tour, Bertha, the lead vocalist and front woman of the band whose gimmick is strangling herself with the stars and stripes on stage, wants to take things in a less dire direction but the rest of the Dead Girls aren't having it. Before they split for the first gig of their tour, Bertha gets a letter in the mail where she learns that Brooke, her sister, has tried to kill herself and that her lyrics are the reason why!

    At this point, the tour is put on hold. Bertha insists on a new direction and they all head out to a cabin in the woods to get away from it all and figure out what direction they want to go in as a band. Unfortunately for them, there's a mysterious black-clad maniac in a skull mask running about wanting to kill them all off!

    Clearly shot fast and cheap with a cast of actors that aren’t exactly impressive, Dead Girls is, nevertheless, a good bit of fun. Shot on 16mm film, the movie has a great, gritty atmosphere once it moves to the cabin setting and it’s quite well-shot and it makes great use of color. You probably won’t have any trouble figuring out how the killer is but there’s enough general overall weirdness to the movie that it stays entertaining from start to finish. The movie never really does much with the fact that the Dead Girls are such an extreme and captivating band that they can convince their fans to start suicide pacts, which seems like kind of a wasted opportunity to really go for it, but once the skull-masked killer

    The movie throws in a few decent twists and turns as its plot unfolds and there are a couple of nice kill scenes with some moderately impressive gore effects attached to them. Some more judicious editing could have sped up the pace and improved things a bit, as there are moments that feel overly long, but overall, if this one won’t change your world, it’ll at least entertain you, which should be all you need from a low budget slasher movie made a few decades ago.

    Home Grown Horrors Volume Two – Blu-ray Review:

    Each of the three films in this collection is presented on its own, separate 50GB disc and in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Hanging Heart Newly is presented scanned and restored in 4K from its 35mm original camera negative and framed at 1.85.1. It looks excellent, with perfect color reproduction and very strong black levels. Moonstalker is offered up newly scanned and restored in 4K from its 16mm original camera negative and framed at 1.33.1 and it also looks very good. It’s a grittier, grainier looking presentation than the first movie but that suits the tone of the film just fine. Some of the darker scenes weren’t especially well lit, so detail drops a bit here and there, but that’s got everything to do with the elements and original photography rather than Vinegar Syndrome’s efforts. Dead Girls is also presented newly scanned and restored in 4K from its 16mm original camera negative and framed at 1.33.1. It too is on the gritty and grainy side, understandable given the 16mm origins, but it also looks very good with nice colors and detail. Neither one of these three transfers show any problems with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts and they always look properly film-like.

    Each film in the set gets a 24-bit DTS-HD Mono Master Audio track in the films’ native English with optional subtitles provided in English only. Dialogue can be a bit flat in spots but overall these all sound fine, at least for the first two films. The different scores used for each movie have some nice depth and the levels are well-balanced throughout. Dead Girls is a noticeable step down in terms of audio quality from the other two movies but a disclaimer before the movie starts lets us know that this is because of poor on set recording and post production resulting in inherently compromised audio quality for the movie overall.

    Extras are laid out across the three discs in the set as follows:

    Hanging Heart:

    Extras on the first disc start off with Directing From The Heart, a twenty-three minutes interview with writer/director Jimmy Lee. He talks about acting in Korea before moving to the United States, studying film at UCLA, writing a script with encouragement from his professor, where the homoerotic aspects of the movie come from and why he worked them into the movie, financing and casting the movie, the film's production schedule, the film's scattered distribution history, what he likes about the movie and how he feels about it years later, how much he appreciated some of the cast and crew members, shooting certain scenes like the jail in a studio but most of the movie on location, how the movie has been received over the years and quite a bit more.

    The Many Hats Of Mr. White interviews producer Michael J. White for eleven minutes. He talks about making his own movies as a kid, going to Columbia College in Hollywood, meeting Jimmy Lee there, connecting with Lee and agreeing to produce Hanging Heart for him, what he was responsible for on the production, choosing locations for the movie, getting the film to market and what he's done since working on Hanging Heart.

    In the seventeen minute A Hero Who Kicks we hear from actor Dan Zukovic. He talks about getting into the punk music scene in the late seventies Las Angeles and starting his own band called The Gargoyles, how he got into acting and wound up getting cast in Hanging Heart, drinking with Lawrence Tierney, working with Jimmy Lee and his thoughts on the part, what went into learning to play a cop, locations that were used, the foils of making a low budget 35mm production, his thoughts on how the movie worked out and what he's been up to since making the movie.

    Hanging With Ingrid is a seven minute interview with actress Ingrid Vold who played the psychiatrist who sees Danny in the asylum scene. She talks about being an artist and painter her entire life, working as an actress during this period of her life, why she likes playing doctors, what Lee was like as a director, what it was like on set, how she felt about the movie after finally getting a copy of it and how she's glad to have been a part of the movie.

    The last of the interviews on this disc is a nine minute piece called Music Is Where The Heart Is and it interviews composer Erik Ekstrand. He talks about working as a professional musician for his entire adult life and details his background and education, how he got involved with Lee and how he was pretty demanding when they worked together, disagreements on how the movie should be scored, where Lee got another composer involved in the film, why he got out of composing in the early nineties to start a band that is still together to this day.

    Finishing up the extras is a still gallery, an original video trailer, a 2015 trailer, menus and chapter selection options.


    Extras start out of with commentary track with cinematographer Michael Goi, producer Sally O'Rourke, production manager John Strysik, actress Kelly Mullis and actress Joleen Mullins. There's lots of talk here about who did what during the production, pulling strings to get some help where it was needed during the shoot, Goi's intentions of emulating Halloween in certain spots but without much in the way of resources, what it was like on set, how all the cast and crew got along, who was a "longjohn stripper" on set, where drama did pop up with parts of the cast, when there was trouble getting the film out of the lab when they weren't being paid, having to shoot the movie with only two lenses, not having the luxury of doing multiple takes, shooting certain scenes handheld, what went into creating characters in the movie, how they all feel about the movie these many years later and lots more.

    The disc also includes a second commentary track, this one with the guys from the slasher movie podcast, The Hysteria Continues! They talk about how they each first came to know of the movie, experiences seeing it for the first time, the alternate Camper Stamper title, details on the cast and crew and thoughts on the different performances in the movie, obvious similarities to Friday The 13th, the effectiveness of the snowy mountain locations, the film's oddball release history and their thoughts on the effectiveness of various scenes.

    Camper Stamper Lives: Resurrecting Moonstalker is a sprawling ninety-six minute making-of documentary featuring interviews with actor Kelly Mullis, production manager John Strysik, director of photography Michael Goi, actor Joleen Mullins, actor John Marzilli and composer Douglas Pipes. They cover the original Camper Stamper title, where intentionally humorous elements were incorporated into the movie, working with Michael O'Rourke, Strysik's work on Tales From The Darkside, Goi's first experience shooting a feature with this project, O'Rourke's tragic passing and details on his life and career, how all involved came to work on the movie, the script for Moon Stalker, how this production tied into an earlier effort called Deadly Love, shooting locations in and around Carson City, Nevada, casting the movie, the movie's connections to Surf II, what it was like on set, post production work, the movie's distribution, the effects work featured in the picture, scoring the film, what some of the participants went on to do after making the movie and thoughts on the film overall. Lots of behind the scenes clips and photos are used throughout this piece as well.

    Also on hand is the seventy minute Camper Stamper Caper which is an archival making-of documentary taken from an older tape source. It's not in great shape but it's nice to see it included here because it provides a fly on the wall look at the making of the movie as well as a lot of behind the scenes footage and impromptu interview clips with the cast and crew.

    Finishing up the extras is a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    Dead Girls:

    Director/editor Dennis Devine and writer/co-producer Steve Jarvis provide the first commentary track on this disc. They talk about forming Bovine Productions, why the white snow was used in the opening credits, reusing cast members from other projects, details of shooting specific sequences, working with the different cast members and how most of them had good chemistry, why the drummer in the band is a male, using medical terminology in the movie to make it sound like they knew what they were talking about, Marshall Martin's amazing eyebrows, needing actors who knew their lines so they could try and get away with single takes, how cold it was on set, having to move fast and deal with the limitations of a low budget and plenty of other details related to the making of the movie.

    The second commentary track is once again with the guys from The Hysteria Continues! They compare this to other rock horror movies, note the possible influence of the Satanic Panic of the eighties, thoughts on the different characters that populate the film, the very nineties time capsule elements of the film, the possible influence of the Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne linked suicide cases from the eighties, other projects that the cast and crew members have worked on, thoughts on Dennis Devine's career and directing style and more.

    Dead Girls Rock: Looking Back At Dead Girls is a ninety-three minute a making-of documentary featuring David Devine, Steve Jarvis as well as cast members Angela Scaglione, Jeff Herbick, Brian Chin, Ilene Singer, Robert Harden, Kay Wolf and composer Erik Ekstrand. This documentary covers the influence of Giallo films like Blood And Black Lace, casting the film, what it was like on set, the film's low budget, scoring the film, locations that were used for the shoot, effects work, memories of shooting some of the film's more memorable set pieces, where some of the ideas for the movie came from, thoughts on what worked and what didn't, feelings on the movie looking back on it from the current day and more.

    Finishing up the extras is a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    As to the packaging, reversible cover sleeve art is also provided for each of the three films in this collection. They all fit inside a nice, sturdy, top-loading box with some slick spot varnish enhancement on the front and side panels. It’s a handsome package.

    Home Grown Horrors Volume Two – The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release of Home Grown Horrors Volume Two brings together three more genre obscurities in one deluxe boxed set. The presentations are top notch there, as are the extras. Those with an affection for low budget, regional oddities should find a lot to appreciate with this edition. Here’s hoping there’s a third in the pipeline.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Home Grown Horrors Volume 2 Blu-ray screen caps!

    Click image for larger version  Name:	01.jpg Views:	1 Size:	325.1 KB ID:	408500

    Click image for larger version  Name:	02.jpg Views:	1 Size:	328.0 KB ID:	408505

    Click image for larger version  Name:	03.jpg Views:	1 Size:	471.0 KB ID:	408503

    Click image for larger version  Name:	04.jpg Views:	1 Size:	426.1 KB ID:	408502

    Click image for larger version  Name:	05.jpg Views:	1 Size:	439.1 KB ID:	408501

    Click image for larger version  Name:	06.jpg Views:	1 Size:	499.5 KB ID:	408504

    Click image for larger version  Name:	07.jpg Views:	1 Size:	449.0 KB ID:	408506

    Click image for larger version  Name:	08.jpg Views:	1 Size:	640.0 KB ID:	408508

    Click image for larger version  Name:	09.jpg Views:	1 Size:	504.0 KB ID:	408507

    Click image for larger version  Name:	10.jpg Views:	1 Size:	308.2 KB ID:	408499

    Click image for larger version  Name:	11.jpg Views:	1 Size:	152.6 KB ID:	408509

    Click image for larger version  Name:	12.jpg Views:	1 Size:	499.0 KB ID:	408518

    Click image for larger version  Name:	13.jpg Views:	1 Size:	376.3 KB ID:	408512

    Click image for larger version  Name:	14.jpg Views:	1 Size:	442.0 KB ID:	408515

    Click image for larger version  Name:	15.jpg Views:	1 Size:	435.4 KB ID:	408516

    Click image for larger version  Name:	16.jpg Views:	1 Size:	411.1 KB ID:	408513

    Click image for larger version  Name:	17.jpg Views:	1 Size:	368.9 KB ID:	408511

    Click image for larger version  Name:	18.jpg Views:	1 Size:	428.8 KB ID:	408514

    Click image for larger version  Name:	19.jpg Views:	1 Size:	463.2 KB ID:	408517

    Click image for larger version  Name:	20.jpg Views:	1 Size:	285.4 KB ID:	408510

    Click image for larger version  Name:	21.jpg Views:	1 Size:	326.8 KB ID:	408519

    Click image for larger version  Name:	22.jpg Views:	1 Size:	366.9 KB ID:	408522

    Click image for larger version  Name:	23.jpg Views:	1 Size:	365.9 KB ID:	408525

    Click image for larger version  Name:	24.jpg Views:	1 Size:	269.4 KB ID:	408520

    Click image for larger version  Name:	25.jpg Views:	1 Size:	400.3 KB ID:	408524

    Click image for larger version  Name:	26.jpg Views:	1 Size:	390.7 KB ID:	408527

    Click image for larger version  Name:	27.jpg Views:	1 Size:	368.8 KB ID:	408526

    Click image for larger version  Name:	28.jpg Views:	1 Size:	384.8 KB ID:	408523

    Click image for larger version  Name:	29.jpg Views:	1 Size:	427.8 KB ID:	408528

    Click image for larger version  Name:	30.jpg Views:	1 Size:	367.3 KB ID:	408521
      Posting comments is disabled.

    Latest Articles


    • Dead Silence (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      by Ian Jane

      Released by: Shout! Factory
      Released on: March 28th, 2022.
      Director: James Wan
      Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Henry Walker, Laura Regan
      Year: 2007
      Purchase From Amazon

      Dead Silence – Movie Review:

      Made for Universal Studios after the success of their 2004 film Saw for Lionsgate, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell’s 20007 picture, Dead Silence, begins in the apartment of Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten)
      03-27-2023, 05:13 PM
    • Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows (Canadian International Pictures) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      by Ian Jane

      Released by: Canadian International Pictures
      Released on: March 28th, 2023.
      Director: Paul Jay
      Cast: Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, Steve Austin, Blade Hart, Helen Hart, Julie Hart, Owen Hart, Stu Hart
      Year: 1998
      Purchase From Amazon

      Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows – Movie Review:

      Directed by Paul Jay and released in 1998, Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows takes us back to 1997 where Vince McMahon and the WWF were still the top
      03-17-2023, 05:55 PM
    • Calvaire (Yellow Veil Pictures) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      by Ian Jane

      Released by: Yellow Veil Pictures
      Released on: March 28th, 2023.
      Director: Fabrice du Welz
      Cast: Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Jean-Luc Couchard, Jackie Berroyer, Philippe Nahon
      Year: 2004
      Purchase From Amazon

      Calvaire – Movie Review:

      Belgian filmmaker Fabrice Du Welz's debut feature length film is, at its core, a very basic story but by the time the movie ends this deceptively simple tale will likely have your head spinning
      03-17-2023, 05:48 PM
    • Thrust! (Culture Shock Releasing) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      by Ian Jane

      Released by: Culture Shock Releasing
      Released on: February 14th, 2023.
      Director: Victor Bonacore
      Cast: Erin Brown, Allison Egan, Linnea Quigley, Roni Jonah, Michael Shershenovich
      Year: 2022
      Purchase From Amazon

      Thrust! – Movie Review:

      Directed by Victor Bonacore, who co-wrote with actress Erin Brown (formerly known as Misty Mundae) and Hannah Neurotica, 2022's Thrust! is set in a drugged out post-apocalyptic urban setting ruled
      03-10-2023, 06:25 PM
    • Three Between The Sheets (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      by Ian Jane

      Released by: Severin Films
      Released on: April 25th, 2023.
      Director: Bud Townsend, Claude Mulot, Hubert Frank
      Cast: Tiffany Bolling, Frank Luz, Julie Newmar, Josephine Jacqueline Jones, Helga Line, Montse Bayo, Sonja Martin
      Year: 1984/1983/1986
      Purchase From Amazon

      Three Between The Sheets – Movie Review:

      Severin Films offers up a trio of softcore classics from the heyday of the era in their aptly titled Three Between The Sheets
      03-10-2023, 06:23 PM
    • The Pact (Saturn’s Core Releasing) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      by Ian Jane

      Released by: Saturn’s Core Releasing
      Released on: February 14th, 2023.
      Director: Brad Sykes
      Cast: Dawn Soleri, Brett Edenton, DeAnna Day, Jack Wareing
      Year: 1995
      Purchase From Amazon

      The Pact – Movie Review:

      1995’s The Pact opens with a prologue where a troubled young woman walks the beach and takes solace in a partially finished house where she talks to herself about her problems. When she mentions she'd rather die than deal
      03-10-2023, 06:18 PM