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The late, great Chas. Balun had a lot to answer for when, in More Gore Score, he gave 1988's Grannies a coveted '10' on the vomit-meter. "It gets about as gory as the law allows," he says, noting however, that this is not the case with the widely (and virtually only) available Troma Team R-rated release. Now Troma steps up to the plate of puke with this 'newly restored' Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, and hopefully punters wondering what Balun was all frothed up about can see for themselves. This reviewer is not sure whether the included 'Producer's Cut' surgically reattaches all the missing gore, but is convinced that Rabid Grannies is definitely a hell of a lot of gory fun.
The 'Producer's Cut' presented starts inexplicably with one-minute-forty-seconds of black screen silence. Maybe it's the European Gore version of the overture from movies of old. At any rate, once the 'moving pictures' part of the movie starts, things get much better. Once we wade through about 15 minutes of exposition establishing a few broad, comic characters for the grannies to eat, we're treated to a regular flow of kills and creepiness, just as we like it. Fodder for the fogeys includes a Mr. Creosote-styled bloviating blob of a man, some '80s-stylish lesbians, a few kids, and a priest who strongly resembles Dario Argento with a monk's hairdo. At an oh-so-polite high-society birthday party, some form of witch shows up at the gate, infecting the two doting grandmothers in attendance. The rest, as they say, is stylish, silly, spooky and sanguinary.
Even with a tone firmly in the comedy vein, Grannies manages to stir up a fine atmosphere full of dark hallways and howling wind. It's redolent of Evil Dead in many ways, as the Rabid Grannies adopt a sinister, mocking tone while on their death-spree. They're ridiculous, rubbery and slightly terrifying as they gleefully munch guts and dismember the kiddoes. We might not give a damn who lives or dies, even the little girl whose legs are ripped off is more punch line than object of pathos, but we're invested in the methodically gruesome machinations of the movie anyway.
Various things I've read around the Internets indicate the 'Director's Cut' and 'Producer's Cut' here included are the exact same cut, and they certainly seem no different to me. The Producer's Cut is one that reinstates the gore but removes the padding from Troma's original DVD release. Truthfully, we've all seen so much more disgusting gore in the decades since Grannies bowed that the point is mostly moot. While I remember being enraged when renting the previous Troma DVD (what? This thing isn't a chunk blower at all!) this time around, I'm more inclined to simply enjoy the savage cheekiness of the movie, in all its latex-coated glory. There's plenty enough nastiness to satisfy old-school gore hounds, even though we've now seen it all before. On the other hand, getting two identical versions of the film on one disk seems kind of silly.
Troma's new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Rabid Grannies reveals in a barely OK transfer some of what Chas. Balun termed as much gore "as the law allows," including some nice gut-munching and tendon-twanging, but jaded gore hounds will see it mostly as a fun Euro-romp that keeps up the pace while remaining in the middle of the pack as far as late-'80s gore is concerned. If you've never seen it, this version may inspire a repeat viewing, but it's nothing you'll need to watch with a barf bag at the ready. Rent It to see if you need this flawed version in your permanent library.
While the box touts a new HD transfer from original materials, the 2.35:1 ratio presentation looks pretty rough. The 'Producer's Cut' revels in darkness and a bluish tint, while the 'Director's Cut' somehow enjoys warmer color tones and plenty of softness. In both cases, detail is not fine, black levels vary, and in all, the product looks like a VHS transfer.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Audio, dubbed in English, is your sole choice. It's adequate but unremarkable, and doesn't sound to have been restored. Dialog is a little bit muddy, to go along with the image, but is understandable and mixed at an adequate level. Sound effects, such as the howling wind, are up front and atmospheric.
In a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is the DVD considered an extra? If so, you get the lengthier R-rated version, without all the gore, for your pleasure. This is the exact same DVD version including extra content as previously released. That said, most of the extras from the DVD are ported over to the Blu-ray, minus much of the usual Troma promotional nonsense. Those ported extras include 8 minutes of Deleted Scenes featuring excised gore that is now also included in the 'Producer's Cut' of the movie. Muddy, overly quiet audio and a weird, horrible picture accompany the ported-over, three-minute Interview with the Producer. A few Troma Trailers, and a silly two-minute interview with one of the grannies complete the picture.
Troma's new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Rabid Grannies reveals in a barely OK transfer some of what Chas. Balun termed as much gore "as the law allows," including some nice gut-munching and tendon-twanging, but jaded gore hounds will see it mostly as a fun Euro-romp that keeps up the pace while remaining in the middle of the pack as far as late-'80s gore is concerned. If you've never seen it, this version, messed-up as it is, may inspire a repeat viewing, but it's nothing you'll need to watch with a barf bag at the ready. Rent It to see if you need this flawed version in your permanent library.