Unrated Dir: Jackie Kong | Lionsgate (Vestron Video) | 1h 28min
Plot: What’s it about?
Recently Lionsgate began restoring films from the old Vestron label. Vestron essentially was straight to video filmmaking. Titles include Chopping Mall, Blood Diner, and Return of the Living Dead 3. Their first release was Chopping Mall, which I really enjoyed. The second release in the series is Blood Diner, easily one of the more bizarre and insane cult films I have ever seen.
Blood Diner revolves around two brothers, Michael and George Tutman, that own a Diner. In a flashback, they are given amulets and black magic books by their insane serial killer uncle Anwar holding “a meat cleaver and his genitals” right before the police kill him. The two deranged brothers are next seen all grown up digging up their old uncle to revive him. They pop his brain and eyeballs into a vat and the uncle’s voice is heard giving them instructions for how they can resurrect the Egyptian goddess Sheetar. Apparently, to revive Sheetar they need to kill women and construct a body for Sheetar to take claim over. This isn’t too hard for them because they are pretty hypnotic to women, even though George is a deranged and nearly mentally handicapped. Also, they aren’t above storming a room where people are performing nude aerobics and machine gunning everybody.
So, yeah, it’s that type of a movie. You read that last paragraph correctly. Honestly, I have no idea what they are really going for with this movie but according to director Jackie Kong, she wanted to make a movie that would outdo all of her male counterparts. More nudity. More over the top violence. More absurdity. More doo-wop? More strange punk music and awful synth tones?
Obviously, this is a movie that has no real demographic that can be pinpointed on a map. It at certain points had me laughing at the absurdity of it all, but it still felt like a VERY guilty pleasure. With a film like this, my recommendation would be that if anything sounded off putting about the previous paragraphs to avoid it. It honestly is a pretty shitty movie, but it did still make me laugh at times (most notably in a scene where they repeatedly run over a very tough pedestrian in a really comic fashion- that scene was amazing.) This film will appeal mostly to people that enjoy releases by Troma. You’ve been warned!
Video: How’s it look?
Lionsgate and Vestron did a good job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec of a new 2K restoration. The transfer looks pretty good overall, with some scenes suffering from softness or drops in focus. This is visually pretty on-par with Chopping Mall, although it suffers from the original filmmaking which was somewhat sloppy. Once again, Vestron has done a solid transfer and the best that they could given the elements. With a picture like this, it can only ever look so good, you know?
Audio: How’s it sound?
The audio treatment of Blood Diner is pretty good, but not great. Vestron has presented a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track that is true to the source elements which do not seem like they were kept in great shape. I don’t think that Vestron has done a poor job of transferring the materials, I just believe that the materials themselves were not recorded properly to begin with. There were several times while watching the movie where I had no idea what people were saying. That did not get in the way of my enjoyment of the movie, and probably did not actually make the movie much more confusing. That said, it is worth mentioning that this sound is not going to blow even die-hard fans away.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director Jackie Kong provides a commentary track that delves into the production’s budgetary contrasts and some interesting stories about how the film was made.
- Killer Cuisine: The Making of Blood Diner (1080p; 1:04:31)- this five part documentary includes some solid interviews with the writers, director, producer, and Carl Crew who played George Tutman. The saddest part is that the actor Rick Burks who played Michael Tutman died just a little after the film. His performance was the most enigmatic in the film and really helped hold the film together. This feature is really well produced and has a lot of hilarious information in it about the production. I can’t imagine how hard this film was to accomplish given the shoestring budget, unaccomplished actors, and the amount of disgusting stuff they put everybody through.
- Archival Interview with Project Consultant Eric Caiden (1080p; 8:01) an informative interview with the late Hollywood Book and Poster Company owner from 2009. Caiden explains the original planning of the film and how Hershel Gordon Lewis was originally supposed to direct the film and how the film came together.
- Theatrical Trailers (1080p; 4:49) offers two trailers.
- TV Spots (480p; 1:34) offers a 60 second and a 30 second spot.
- Radio Spots (1080p; 2:17) offers three spots which play out under some concept art from the film.
- Still Gallery (1080p; 5:34)
The Bottom Line
Blood Diner is the second release from Vestron and I understand why this would be near the top of their list to release. It is one of the most belligerently bonkers films I have ever seen. I am not sure what to do as far as recommending this film, because it is pretty over the top in every way. This film will be right up the alley of anybody who likes Troma films, but may be a hard fit for people who like their movies to have any form of cohesive plot or production values. It really can only be described as one of those so-bad-it’s-good type movies, so if you can not get down with that, skip it. Personally, I did not love it, but it would make for a good group viewing with like-minded friends and a lot of alcohol. Vestron has done a really great job on the supplements which are really interesting and hilarious, which should please long time fans of the film. If you are not sure about the Vestron titles, most of them are available on budget DVDs in 4-packs with other Vestron titles. This is a solid way to check out the films prior to a purchase of the Blu-rays.