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The Wrong Door (Visual Vengeance) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Wrong Door (Visual Vengeance) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Visual Vengeance
    Released on: November 28th, 2023.
    Director: James Groetsch, Shawn Korby, Bill Weiss
    Cast: Jeff Tatum, Loreal Steiner, Matt Felmlee, Jeannine Bourdaghs
    Year: 1990
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Wrong Door – Movie Review:

    This oddball, micro-budgeted Super 8mm production from 1990 follows a young man named Ted Farrell (Matt Felmlee), a humble college student and mystery fanatic. Ever since he was young he’s loved a good mystery story but these days, he earns some extra money for himself working as a singing telegram deliverer. That said, he’s got an assignment in school that he needs to take care of for his sound class wherein he intends to create his own old-school style mystery thriller – kind of like an old radio program.

    When he’s hired to play a jester at a party, he arrives at the location for the shindig and is surprised to run into a young woman named Jennifer (Loreal Steiner) who he has had a crush on for some time. She whispers “Help me!” to him. It turns out Ted has gone to the wrong address, but before he can figure out what’s going on, the door closes and Ted’s off to provide entertainment for the party. When the party ends, he heads back to Jennifer’s apartment to see if he can help with whatever is bothering her, only to find her dead. Ted goes to get help but when he returns, her body has disappeared – and then he finds it again, in his car!

    It turns out that Jennifer isn’t dead, but she is seriously wounded after being stabbed. She hands him a set of keys and then disappears again and a short time later, Ted meets Jeff (Jeff Tatum) and his cohort Vic (Chris Hall). Jeff isn’t especially friendly to Ted, as he believes Jennifer has handed over a tape to him that he would very much like to get back. Ted, still clad in his jester costume, gets away from the pair and decides to hunt down the tape before Jeff can get it, hoping that it will help solve this bizarre mystery he’s found himself drawn into.

    Released on VHS years back, The Wrong Door makes its debut on optical disc with this release from Visual Vengeance and it proves to be a pretty interesting watch. Much less a horror film than a Hitchcockian thriller, it moves at a pretty good pace and features considerably better cinematography than you’d probably expect given its origins. The acting isn’t always perfect but it’s better than a lot of movies made on a shoestring and there’s some production value on display here. Felmlee in particular is pretty good, handling the dramatic aspects as well as the scenes of tension pretty well.

    The movie also, rightly, features some pretty interesting sound design throughout. This ties into Ted’s curriculum and project so it makes sense from a narrative standpoint but it also adds another layer of interest to the production that you don’t typically see with low budget movies or student films. All in all, this is a clever and well-made movie with some quirky regional charm that manages to tell an engaging story that ends with a pretty strong conclusion.

    The Wrong Door – Blu-ray Review:

    Visual Vengeance brings The Wrong Door to region free Blu-ray taken from a new 2k transfer from original Super 8mm elements. Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and presented in its proper 1.33.1 aspect ratio, this looks pretty solid given the fact that it was shot on Super 8mm. Detail can get a little soft here and there and, not surprisingly, the grain is heavy but the transfer feels like proper film and there isn’t much to note in the way of serious damage. Colors look pretty solid and while some of the darker scenes do show some minor crush, overall this looks fine given the movie’s origins.

    The Wrong Door gets an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is on par with the video quality in that it’s limited by the source materials but perfectly acceptable given the film’s low-fi roots. Sometimes the dialogue is a bit muffled and occasionally things are a little shrill, but aside from that, it’s all fine for what it is.

    A commentary with directors Bill Weiss and Shawn Korby starts things off. They talk about what each of them was responsible for during the making of the movie, shooting on Super 8mm, the many challenges that arose during the shoot, the trickiness of shooting some of the night time scenes, casting the picture, how some of the specific shots in the movie were set up, locations that were used, what went into getting the movie transferred into high definition, working with the cast and crew, storyboarding the movie and other recollections from the time they spent making the movie.

    A second commentary features director James Groetsch and producer John Schonebaum where they talk about how they came onboard to work on the movie, writing the script, who directed what, where some of the cast members were recruited from, using connections from school to get the movie made, locations, not having enough of a crew to get all of the cast members into some scenes, relying on friends and family to help get the movie made, running into a problem with a lot of film stock being underexposed and the problems with lighting that caused that, overcoming technical challenges, why the feel it was a project worth making despite the hard work required, some of the sound work used in the picture and lots more.

    Up next is a new documentary titled Men Make Movie, If Not Million$. This forty-three minute piece features interviews with Bill Wiess, Shawn Korby, James Groetsch, Chris Gore and Matt Felmlee. There's lots of great behind the scenes photos here as well as discussion as well as discussion of early short film collaborations, where the ideas for the movie came from, how they all came to work together, the decision to shoot on Super 8mm, how Chris Gore and Film Threat came to be involved, getting the script completed, casting the movie, influences that played a part in the production, what it was like being in front of the camera for the production, who did what behind the scenes, what it was like making a feature in St. Paul, Minnesota in the 1980s, storyboard work, post production work, premiering and distributing the film and how they feel about it all these many years later.

    An interview with James Groetsch runs thirty-minutes and sees him talking about how the production came about, his film school work, taking inspiration from A Polish Vampire In Burbank, shooting on Super 8mm, getting a crew together to make the movie, casting the film, locations used for the shoot, pre and post production work, puppet work (!) and lots of other details. A separate interview with Shawn Korby, running, twenty-one minutes, follows suit and shares his experiences with the Super 8mm format, collaborating with friends, what went into getting the movie finished, who did what behind and in front of the camera, influences and inspiration, schooling, memories of shooting key scenes and why they turned out the way that they did, how the movie was received and reviewed and other details. Bill Weiss is up next in an interview running thirty-seven minutes. He talks about how he (and the others) wound up wearing so many different hats during the production out of necessity more than anything else, collaborating with the other guys on the project, the influence of Alfred Hitchcock on the movie, handling much of the cinematography using the Super 8mm camera, the specifics of getting certain scenes right, the movie's VHS release and what he's been up to since The Wrong Door was made. Leading man Matt Felmlee speaks for twenty-one minutes about how he got into acting, landing the part in the movie, thoughts on the character he played, other acting projects he's had a hand in, what it was like on set, the collaborative nature of the production, memories of what went into some of the film's more memorable sequences, getting along with his co-stars and how he feels about the movie in hindsight.

    Distributing The Wrong Door sees Chris Gore speak for thirteen minutes about reviewing the movie in the Film Threat Video Guide and the positive reception they gave it, the Hitchcockian elements of the film, what he liked about the movie, how they came to distribute the movie, how they partnered with the filmmakers to get the movie out there, how he appreciates seeing these movies reissued on DVD and Blu-ray, some of the people he worked with on the distribution side and trying to help build an indie/underground film scene with the Film Threat publications.

    Up next is the alternate Director’s Cut of The Wrong Door, put together in 2019 and running just over sixty-six minutes in length (versus the feature version at seventy-four minutes). It’s presented in a 1080i transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and no subtitle options.

    Visual Vengeance also supplies a few Super 8 short movies, the first of which is Raiders Of The Lost Bark from 1983. This two minute quickie follows a few kids as they make their way through a forest, and, after attempting to steal an artifact, see things go south when they hit a stop sign. The Pizza Man, from 1988, runs eight minutes and sees a Flunky's Pizza delivery guy rush a pie to a customer only to get distracted by a beautiful woman en route and then run into a bunch of trouble along the way. Both of these are quirky, creative and quite funny.

    The Gale Whitman Show is a twenty-two minute bit that takes on a stroll down memory lane as a young man looks back on some family vacation fishing trip footage that then segues into some Taxi Driver parody bits, a board meeting, more fishing and outdoors footage and lots more. Again, it's quirky and funny and goes in a bunch of different directions that you won't expect it to and it does so with a good sense of humor.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc are sixteen minutes of original unedited Muther Video VHS intros and outtakes, a still gallery, a gallery of original storyboards, a vintage Film Threat review, a trailer for Now Hiring, a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection options. Before the main menu screen loads, we also get trailers for a few other Visual Vengeance releases (those being Scream Queen, The Abomination and Vampires And Other Stereotypes).

    Visual Vengeance has also, once again, included some fun physical bonuses here as well, starting with a folded mini-poster of the newly created cover art tucked away inside the keepcase as well as a sticker sheet of vintage VHS-style rental stickers. The disc also comes with some nice reversible cover sleeve art featuring original VHS art on the reverse as well as, for the first pressing only, a limited edition slipcase.

    The Wrong Door – The Final Word:

    The Wrong Door can’t help but hide its low budget but once the plot gets moving, that never takes away from the fact that there’s some really good storytelling and clever filmmaking going on here. The end result is an entertaining thriller that’s well-represented on this Blu-ray which offers up the movie looking as good as it can and on a disc that is stacked with extra features.



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