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Scrapbook (Saturn’s Core) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Scrapbook (Saturn’s Core) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Saturn’s Core
    Released on: January 20th, 2024.
    Director: Eric Stanze
    Cast: Emily Haack, Tommy Biondo
    Year: 1999
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    Scrapbook – Movie Review:

    Tommy Biondo (of Ice From The Sun) plays a maniacal serial killer named Leonard who abducts women (presumably because of some bizarre experiences we see him go through during the first couple of minutes into the film) and, as he tortures and rapes them, forces them to contribute to the scrapbook that he keeps. His latest victim is Clara (Emily Haack, of The Undertow, in her first role), who he brutally rapes and keeps locked up in his house, which is out in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, Clara begins to play along with his delusions and hopes to be able to make her escape.

    That's the story in a nutshell. If we go any closer to divulging how the story ends it would totally ruin a good portion of the impact of the movie and we don't want to do that to those who've never seen this minor masterpiece of depravity.

    Did the Guinea Pig films make you squirm in your seat? Did I Spit On Your Grave make you want to take a shower when you were done with it? Then Scrapbook will make you want to curl up in the fetal position and scrub the filth from the pores of your skin when its ninety-five minutes are finished. Stanze and company take us into some pretty filthy territory here and the cameras do not shy away from anything.

    The star of the show is Haack as Clara. Stanze skillfully uses quite a few close ups to capture the honest fear in her eyes, which are quite pretty and very expressive. Her performance is quite genuine and ultimately quite believable and one can only imagine how tough it would be to play this role. She's pissed on, forced to fellate her captor (in a scene that comes oh so close to being actual hardcore), stuffed into a garbage can and doused with milk, and continually beaten throughout the film. The movie’s commentary track reveals how much of her performance is acting and how much is reality and at times, it sounds like things came dangerously close to being more than a little too close for comfort.

    The late Tommy Biondo (who sadly passed away shortly after the film was finished) is almost equally as impressive as Leonard thanks in no small part to some sufficiently sleazy looking wardrobe and his manic facial expressions that effectively portray anger and angst without being so over the top that it becomes comical (which is more often than not how it goes in the low budget arena when you're rarely working with professional actors).

    The third star of the set though is uncredited - the sets. Whoever scoped out and secured the house and barn that the film is shot in has to get some credit for the film’s success, as a lot of the dirty, perverted atmosphere that the film captures so well is due to the locale in which it takes place. It's also adorned with rotting fruit, pornographic pictures, creepy Polaroids all over the walls, and just a general, overall feeling of uncleanliness.

    The movie is not perfect though. There are a few moments where the dialogue feels too loose and spontaneous and it shows that they weren't really working with the best scripting in the world and some of the corpse props are obviously papier-mâché. But such are the down strokes of working on such a low budget feature. The cinematography, performances, and overall feeling of ill ease are enough to recommend Scrapbook to those who don't mind challenging and harrowing filmmaking. It's certainly not for everyone and the realistic sexual violence will turn a lot of people off (and rightly so) but there's no disputing the effectiveness of the film and that's quite an accomplishment.

    Scrapbook – Blu-ray Review:

    Scrapbook comes to region free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.33.1 with the feature taking up 28.5GBs of space on the 50GB disc, this looks very much like the micro-budget SOV production that it is, but it’s more than watchable if you keep its low budget origins in mind. Detail can’t surpass the source material but the disc is well authored and compression is obviously much better here than on either one of the older DVD editions. Colors and black levels look really solid, skin tones too. Again, don’t expect a revelation here but those accustomed to the way that camcorder epics such as this look on optical discs will be more than happy with this way this has turned out, so long as expectations are kept in check.

    The 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo audio, available with optional English subtitles, sounds fine given the movie’s low budget origins. Levels are balanced well enough and there isn’t much in the way of hiss or distortion to complain about at all, this track is quite clean and the stereo mix sounds pretty strong.

    Extras start off with a new commentary from director Eric Stanze that covers how the project was born in the first place through collaborations with Jeremy Wallace and Tommy Biondo towards finishing up Ice From The Sun to discuss their next project, wanting to tackle the subject matter in a different way than other rape/revenge themed films have, wanting to make something that was more than an exploitation movie, all of the research that Biondo did to create his character and how much of that wasn't able to be included in the final version of the movie, working on the screen play, memories of shooting specific sequences, shooting a lot of the movie without planned dialogue, how the various players came to work together in the first place, casting the movie without auditions or rehearsals, the confidence that he had in Haack's abilities to handle the role, knowing he wouldn't get the movie 100% where he wanted it but making the movie anyway, how people have questioned his morality after he made the movie, reflections on the locations used for the movie and wanting the hot, sweaty vibe of the interiors to come across in the visuals, the movie's shooting schedule and post production schedule and plenty more.

    Eric Stanze, Producer Jeremy Wallace and star Emily Haack are on hand to provide a full-length commentary over the entire feature, ported over from the original 2003 DVD edition of the movie. We all know commentaries can be hit or miss but this one proves to be well worth listening to. A lot of the film was improvised and made up on the spot and they give us quite a bit of insight into how much of it was planned and how much wasn't. Haack also relates how she felt about certain harsher scenes as they were being filmed and how she reacted to Biondo's performance. Stanze lends his insight into some of the more technical aspects of the production - why certain shots were chosen and how he feels they came out, while Wallace lends some interesting anecdotes throughout (he mentions at least three times that he had to look away while on set during a couple of different scenes).

    Afterword: A Look Back At Scrapbook is a new 2023 retrospective documentary directed by Jason Christ that features interviews with director Eric Stanze and actress Emily Haack. This covers some of the same ground as the commentary but over its thirty-two minute running time we also learn about how the film earned Wicked Pixel a pretty big fan base, the awards that the movie won, the different reviews that came out for the movie and how helpful it was to get coverage in Rue Morgue and other outlets, the depiction of sexual assault in the movie and how they intentionally tried to make a movie that didn't portray it in a titillating light, the controversy that surrounded the movie, not worrying if the movie offended anyone in the interests of making the best movie that they could, how Stanze's career has evolved since making Scrapbook and lots more.

    The Making Of Scrapbook is a twenty-six minute archival documentary from 2005 that is made up of interviews with Stanze, Todd Tevlin, Emily Haack and Jeremy Wallace, . There's lots of behind the scenes footage here as well as a good look at the actual scrapbook itself seen in the movie. The interviews cover what it was like on set, getting into character, working with Biondo, writing the film and more.

    Finishing up the extras is a single ninety second deleted scenes, a thirteen behind the scenes stills montage (set to unused music composed for the feature), an Eric Stanze / Wicked Pixel Cinema trailer vault (which contains three different trailers for Scrapbook, and trailers for Savage Harvest, Savage Harvest 2: October Blood, Ice From The Sun, Deadwood Park, Ratline and In Memory Of), menus and chapter selection options.

    This release also comes packaged with some boss reversible cover art.

    Scrapbook – The Final Word:

    The word 'disturbing' is thrown around a lot when describing genre films. All too often, it's used carelessly. Scrapbook though, truly deserves that label. It'll get under your skin and you can't wash it off. The Blu-ray edition from Saturn’s Core carries over all of the extras from the DVD edition and throws in some really good new supplements as well. A feel good movie this is not, but those who can appreciate the stronger side of underground horror will appreciate what Stanze and company have achieved with this one.

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

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