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Rabid Grannies

Troma // R // March 10, 2015
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted March 19, 2015 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:

Directed by Belgian filmmaker Emmanuel Kervyn and picked up and distributed domestically by Troma, 1989's Rabid Grannies is as goofy and as dumb as you'd expect a movie titled Rabid Grannies to be. It's also a lot of good, gory fun. The story revolves around Victoria (Anne-Marie Fox) and Elizabeth (Danielle Daven) Remington, two sisters of an advanced age that decide to throw themselves a big ol' birthday bash to celebrate their turning ninety. And so they set out to plan the bash and invite plenty of relatives to join in on the presumed merry-making.

On the night of the big event, a whole bunch of people show up but it's obvious that they're all gold digger types. Even the cook can see this. Things take a strange turn shortly after the party is underway when a strange old woman arrives at the home with a gift from the sisters' estranged nephew Christopher. Disowned due to his involvement in a Satanic cult, he's sent them what at first appears to be an empty box. Of course, it's not empty and we see some weird smoke come out that, after getting into the vino, winds up turning Elizabeth and Victoria into demonic monsters with a penchant for mass slaughter. As the partygoers do their best to hide from the killers, the possessed sisters massacre their way through the guest list one after the next. Will anyone make it through the night?

While the movie may not revolve around rabies or grandmothers it does feature some old ladies running around goring it up and for some of us, that's close enough that we won't call foul. Actresses Anne-Marie Fox and Danielle Daven seem to be having a great time the possessed geriatrics and completely throw themselves into every aspect of this screwy, low-budget production. The rest of the cast are basically cannon fodder, but we get a few interesting characters set up amidst the slew of relatives led to the slaughter. There's a couple whose marriage is on the rocks that come complete with obnoxious kids, an older wealth guy with a much younger lady friend who has delusions of grandeur when it comes to her musical talent, there's a lesbian and her girlfriend, a ladies man, a gun nut and even a priest all thrown in for good measure. This varied (albeit knowingly cliché) cast of characters helps to give the story some effective comedy and those in the various supporting roles do absolutely fine with the material.

Where the movie really earns bonus points is in the gore effects department. This is a seriously splattery movie and everything that happens on camera here is done well before computer effects became the norm for this type of thing. The effects are done on a low budget to be sure but they're very creative and ridiculously over the top, even more so than the performances. Limbs are hacked off, plenty of people are bitten and buts and gore aplenty are spilled on screen. The filmmakers take all of this in pretty extreme directions but given that it's more or less all played for laughs it's hard not to get a kick out of it. In that regard the movie feels a bit like some of Peter Jackson's early gore pictures.

So yeah, this is a lot of fun, particularly if you're someone with an affinity for low budget eighties gore comedies, weird English language tracks and spiffy effects. But as to this release itself? Well, it's pretty much a complete botch job. Read on…

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Rabid Grannies debuts on Blu-ray from Troma in a 2.35.1 widescreen transfer that is at least encoded in HD (at 1080i), even if it doesn't look like it's from an HD source. In fact, it looks fairly awful. Everything has a heavy blue tint to it and detail is pretty much completely washed out. Black levels are all over the place, there is frequent crush and when the lights go off things really do quite literally disappear into the darkness. That old DVD that Troma put out years ago? Somehow, despite the fact that it was sourced from an old tape master, it looks considerably better than this Blu-ray release. That fullframe image was cropped but the image quality was far more watchable. The reframed image here sometimes looks fine, as far as the compositions go, and other times it can look a bit tight, but that heavy blue tinting is bad. This is also quite poorly compressed. YUCK.

Sound:

The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track. It sounds okay for an older, low budget mix but it doesn't sound like it's been given any cleanup or restoration work. Levels are stable enough and the dialogue is fairly easy to understand. So this is sufficient, if not exactly exciting. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided.

Extras:

If the lousy transfer weren't bad enough, there is a pretty serious issue with the disc itself outside of the crummy visuals. Marketing and PR materials as well as the back of the case indicate that the Blu-ray is to contain both the HD restored version of the movie and as bonus the ‘producer's cut' (which includes the gore missing from the cut version put back into the movie). This would logically lead most people to believe that there are two different versions of the movie included here, one that would look nice and one that would represent the producer's cut (which contains the gore omitted from Troma's first DVD release). Alas, that is not the case. When you choose the option to play the movie off of the main menu, you get the same version that you get when you choose the producer's cut, meaning that there's only one version of the movie here and as noted in the video write up above, it's not looking like much an HD restored version either. Regardless of which option you choose to play you get the same blue looking version of the movie with the same running time. What exactly happened here is, at the time of this writing, a mystery but it's safe to say that someone somewhere screwed up. The weird thing is that if you pop the disc into a Blu-ray Rom drive and run BDInfo it shows two .MPLS files, one running 1:09:46 and the other running 1:08:27, but the difference in running time is made up not but alternate footage but by blank screen. Both files have the basically got the same bit rate and both are just over 4GBs each (shockingly low for a Blu-ray release).

Aside from that we get the reel of deleted gore scenes (now included in the movie itself), a producer interview, menus and chapter selection.

Now, as this is a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release, obviously there's a DVD version included alongside the Blu-ray disc. This is identical to the single disc DVD release Troma issued years ago and yeah, it really does look better than the Blu-ray does even if it is fullframe. Unfortunately it offers a cut version of the movie, but that version is what probably would have been the feature version on the Blu-ray had it been made properly. Extras on the DVD include some outtakes, the trimmed gore footage that didn't make it into the movie (but which is on the Blu-ray), a commentary with the director, and a few other bits and pieces of Troma propaganda.

Final Thoughts:

Rabid Grannies is good, gory, low budget fun. The movie is as entertaining as it is ridiculous, it moves at a good pace and it's got a wild sort of energy to that makes it a real kick to watch. Unfortunately watching it on this Blu-ray is a chore. The transfer is awful and on top of that, the feature version of the movie is actually missing from this obviously botched release. The movie deserves better than this. Skip it.

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.

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