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Dungeonmaster / Eliminators, The

Shout Factory // Unrated // December 15, 2015
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted December 15, 2015 | E-mail the Author
The Dungeonmaster / Eliminators:
Shout! Factory's imprint Scream Factory knocks it out of the Midnite Movie Park with this Blu-ray double feature of two absolutely ludicrous slices of mid-'80s sci-fi/fantasy cheese. If you ever spent your younger years downing soda and chips on the couch in your mother's basement, at 1am, hoping for something stupid to come on cable TV, then this disc is FOR YOU. I'll put my money where my mouth is, calling this nearly barebones release Highly Recommended for those who've never seen these two features. (Those of you already versed in their charms, looking for the best BD transfer possible of your treasured favorites, may want to approach this release with more caution.)

The Dungeonmaster
This 77-minute marvel featuring Richard Moll as the title character (I think ...) combines the evils of the 1980s, health nuts and home computers, in a truly terrifying tale. OK, it's not truly terrifying, nor does it have anything to do with Dungeons and Dragons, (in fact its original title is Ragewar, and it really doesn't have anything to do with a ragewar, either) but you'll be hard-pressed to find a wackier late-night feature. (If that last statement gives you pause, be assured that our second feature, Eliminators is wackier.)

Consisting of a computer-obsessed douchebag and his exercise instructor girlfriend drawn into an ever-changing digital world by the evil Mestema, (Richard Moll) The Dungeonmaster presents several goofy fantasy vignettes written and directed by several different folks. (It's this that provides the only connection to D&D, the notion of fighting demons and zombies in several different scenarios.) Of note mostly for the inclusion of a sequences directed by effects guru John Buechler, stop-motion-animation acolyte David Allen, and schlockmeister Charles Band, The Dungeonmaster maintains its welcome with quick, goofy sequences and frequent hammy appearances by Mestema.

With a prescient eye out for our digital enslavement, (computer ace Paul's girlfriend tempts him into the bedroom with the statement "at least that's the one place I know I'll have all your attention.") the movie launches Paul into a seven challenges replete with cool, cheap, and hellishly old-school sets, clunky zombies, and that staple of '80s fantasy, evil creatures represented by hand-puppets.

A little bit of nudity not found in the theatrical version marks this as the Unrated Edition, and if that's not enough, you get an appearance by hair-metal band W.A.S.P., proving themselves if not great actors, at least a better band than you might remember. The Dungeonmaster is flat-out stupid, with Moll providing that acting spark you need to keep your mind engaged while your lizard brain enjoys the cheesy makeup and video-era naivete on display. On its own, The Dungeonmaster is Recommended for low-budget gourmands.

Eliminators
Director Peter Manoogian (who also directed a sequence in The Dungeonmaster, and is therefore the putative link between these two releases) pulls out all the stops in this mishmash of tropes and genre cliches, a movie that's so willfully stupid it becomes, without a doubt, pure fucking gold (per my notes). Manoogian's masterpiece also represents a love-letter of sorts to its star Denise Crosby, who's never looked more ravishing. Ah, Miss Crosby, I loved you then, I still love you now. Manoogian, you are a true master.

At any rate, Eliminators knows it's a ridiculous movie, but neither shies from the fact nor celebrates it, which is absolutely the way to go when presenting such faire. What kind of faire, you ask; just the usual boilerplate involving a half-man/half-machine time-travelling Mandroid and his unrequited love, the sexy, sexy Crosby as Colonel Hunter. The pair travel to the jungle with Crosby's robot assistant in order to sort out Mandroid's past, freeing him from the clutches of an evil scientist or something. Complicating matters is a group of Southern Hick bounty hunters led by a very butch mama, cavemen, and who knows what else. Luckily help appears in the form of a lovable mercenary, Han, I mean Harry Fontana (the excellent Andrew Prine) guiding Crosby and Mandroid up the river, where they find further aid from wandering Ninja Kuji (Conan Lee).

Loaded with ludicrous improbabilities, Eliminators is meant as a romp, but is delivered with very few winks. Your intelligence isn't insulted, even as Manoogian means to take it down a few notches, and there's no self-satisfied sense of the movie being too clever or knowing for its own good. The cast takes things as seriously as possible; Patrick Reynolds' turn as Mandroid delivers a poignant Steve Austin/Robocop mash up as he develops feelings for Crosby, (and who wouldn't?) while Crosby's own performance is perfectly straight-laced and grounding.

There are plenty more highlights to enjoy, such as Crosby's robot assistant, who can turn into light (huh?) when not looking like a cross between a humidifier and a Little Professor calculator. Combat scenes between bounty hunters and heroes are accompanied by A-Team-sounding music, and you'll even get to enjoy watching Crosby swimming around in a wet tank top. (Yes, I know I've gone beyond creepy ...) With a laser battle finishing things off, Eliminators' blend of genre idiocy and lighthearted attitude make it a perfect Midnite Movie, and Highly Recommended.

The DVD

Video:
Packaging from The Dungeonmaster does not indicate that this 1.78:1 HD presentation is from a new transfer. Its 77-minute runtime does include a little extra nudity, marking this as the Unrated Edition, and that nudity looks OK, I suppose. While on the whole the picture is not much improved over a DVD-level presentation, I haven't seen any other versions with which to compare. Details are decent, if not a little soft at times. Colors look great, rich and natural, and black levels are fairly deep, though details within the darkness are not great. This isn't a very crisp presentation, but transfer problems and film damage aren't a big concern. In all, this is probably a couple notches above its previous DVD incarnation as part of a 2-disc, 4 movie All Night Horror Marathon from Scream Factory.

Eliminators comes in a New High-Definition Transfer, at a 1.78:1 ratio, and looks, well, about as good as The Dungeonmaster. Again, I haven't seen this movie in any other fashion in order to judge whether this transfer is an upgrade, so those of you on those crazy Hi-Def forums please cut me some slack. Probably indicative of the era during which it was shot, Eliminators, like The Dungeonmaster, sports acceptable but not super-crisp details. Obviously details are sharpest in the foreground, while softening into the background. Film grain is present, adding respectable gravity to the image. This ain't no shot on video crapfest. Colors are naturalistic and nicely saturated. Details during smoky combat scenes can be a bit problematic, and film damage does crop up occasionally, most notably during SPFX sequences with that crazy robot, and including one pretty severe, but blink-and-it's-gone example.

Sound:
The Dungeonmaster comes with DTS-HD Master Audio in Mono. It sounds great for what it is. Corny '80s music is up-front but doesn't conflict with dialog, which is free of hiss and distortion or damage. Effects audio is forceful without being overbearing, and a good dynamic range is present.
Eliminators comes with DTS-HD Master Audio in Stereo. Pretty much everything noted about The Dungeonmaster applies to Eliminators too, although you get slightly more bang for your buck with the added dimensionality of stereo.

Extras:
With two features crammed on one Blu-ray disc, there isn't a whole lot of room for extras. So, in fact you get just one, a 32-minute Interview with director Manoogian, who talks about his involvement with both movies, including lots of money-talk; i.e. information about financing and production problems, as well as more typical behind-the-scenes stuff. Clips from the movies are interspersed with interview footage, which looks great but sports horrible sounding room-microphone recording.

Final Thoughts:
Presenting two completely ridiculous Sci-Fi/Fantasy features from the mid-'80s glory days of such things, Shout Factory will be bringing plenty of joy to the hearts of good little girls and boys everywhere. These movies are cheesy, ludicrous, and a whole lot of straightforward fun. Cavemen! Robots! Demons! Denise Crosby! If you've never seen these before, this single-disc double feature is, dare I say it, Highly Recommended for lovers of the bad stuff.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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