Shock-O-Rama Cinema has doubled up a couple of movies that have very little to do with one another and teamed them up with the sensationalist title of the Psycho Horror Double Feature! While the first film isn't a horror movie at all, it does at least have 'psycho' in the title and the second film actually is a legitimate horror film, so it all sort of works out in the end. Regardless, here's a look:
Psycho Kickboxer - The Dark Angel:
Ever heard of Curtis Bush? Unless you're into the wide world of competitive kickboxing (he's a five time world champion), the answer is probably a resounding 'nope.' At any rate, Mr. Bush stars in this film from the directorial team of David Haycox and Mardy South where he plays a kickboxer (go figure) named Alex Hunter. He's just asked his girlfriend to marry him after a romantic weekend at the beach and things are looking good for him. He and his fiancé go out for dinner with his father, who happens to be the chief of police and is working on bringing in a local gangster, and on their way out of the restaurant they're kidnapped by some of the aforementioned gangster's no good thugs. Dad gets his head blown off with a shotgun while the fiancé gets raped before her throat is slit. Alex is left for dead but winds up being rescued by a black dude in a wheelchair wearing combat fatigues who takes him back to his place and whips him into shape. He also encourages Alex to put on a ninja suit and get revenge, which is exactly what he does, much to the delight of the DJ's on the local new country station (seemingly the most important source of news in the city!) and a reporter who knows more than the cops do but won't talk for fear of spoiling her exclusive.
Surprisingly enough, this low budget 16mm actioner has got some pretty decent production values to back up its predictable but entertaining revenge story. The movie is well lit and well shot and if the actor's aren't going to win any awards any time soon, everyone is at least passable in their parts. This film was obviously done with the involvement of a lot of local talent (it was all shot in Virginia Beach, VA), the local DJ's being a prime example, but everyone at least made an effort here and it shows. The film, as mentioned, brings nothing new to the action/revenge genre at all but it's at least plenty violent and fairly entertaining. If it isn't the world's smartest film it likely never set out to capture that title anyway, and you can safely think of this one as nothing more than some fast paced action movie entertainment. It's a lot like a Don 'The Dragon' Wilson movie only made with a lot less money. Fans of the Bloodfist films or early Seagal/Van Damme pictures will probably enjoy this quite a bit if they don't mind the fact that it was made for a lot less money than any of their films were.
Curtis Bush hasn't gone on to have much of an acting career and his work here indicates that there might be a reason for it but even during his more wooden moments you can't help but like the guy and he definitely does hold his own during the fight scenes. He's not a great actor by any stretch but he's got plenty of charisma and enthusiasm and that definitely helps to carry the film.
Canvas Of Blood:
Actually in hindsight, this is more of a revenge film than a horror film too. Maybe Shock-O-Rama should have called this the Psycho Revenge Double Feature? At any rate, this one follows a quirky Vietnam veteran named Paul Hanover who has taken up painting since getting back from the war. Unfortunately, he finds out that his daughter has had a botched surgery operation on her hand and decides to go on a killing spree and get revenge. He attaches a bunch of strange things to his hands to use as instruments of death and off he goes using his military training and artistic know-how to do damage to those who wronged his little girl. Throw in a few pairs of naked titties and some bad special effects and damn it you've got yourself a movie!
This movie doesn't move nearly as quickly as the first film, in fact, long stretches of it are pretty dry. That said, when it shines, it shines. The idea isn't exactly unique (it borrows from Rolling Thunder and all manner of other deranged Vietnam Vet movies) and the tedious stretches certainly hurt it but a few completely screwball moments and one of the most freakishly bad soundtracks ever made give this some moderate camp value. It isn't as well made or as fun as the first feature but it's got some random strippers thrown in for good measure and a lot of bad acting that make it a little more fun than it would have been otherwise.
Both films were shot on a low budget using 16mm film stock and they've both got a few rough edges throughout but for the most part these fullframe transfers look pretty good, even if they aren't flagged for progressive scan playback. Some color fading and minor print damage shows up here and there but for the most part things look pretty lifelike. Black levels stay strong, detail levels are better than most low budget pictures of the era and skin tones look nice and natural. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or edge enhancement and while neither one of the two films in this set will ever look like reference quality material, Shock-O-Rama's transfers are not bad at all considering the source material used.
Like the video quality, the audio isn't perfect but it's certainly decent enough. Aside from the fact that the levels on Psycho Kickboxer are unusually loud (turn it down before it starts and you'll be fine) things sound pretty decent. Dialogue is more or less always clean and clear and while there are some audible pops now and again there aren't any issues with hiss or distortion to complain about.
While this is far from a super stacked deluxe edition, Shock-O-Rama have supplied a few supplements starting with a trio of local newscast clips talking about Psycho Kickboxer while it was being made and giving a bit of background information on Curtis Brown and his project. They each run about a minute and a half and are worth a look. Aside from that, there are a ton of trailers for Shock-O-Rama releases old and new, some nifty animated menus, and chapter selection.
Inside the keepcase is a nifty little booklet of liner notes from Bush who explains how and why this movie exists in the first place as well as the various problems that they kept running into during the production, most of which related to running out of money!
B-action junkies will definitely get a kick out of Psycho Kickboxer despite (or maybe because of?) its predictable nature while Canvas Of Blood makes for a moderately enjoyable and fairly sleazy double feature. A good rental for a rainy day, recommended for junk food film buffs.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.