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The Bloodstained Butterfly (Blu-ray)
Despite a slew of grisly murders and its killer clad in leather gloves, 1971's The Bloodstained Butterfly is the giallo that's not. Leading up to its final moments, the body count stands at just three, and more than an hour separates the first and second deaths. The elaborate, operatic murders that for many define the genre are nowhere to be found. We witness the aftermaths as well as the seconds leading up to a kill, but the brutal acts themselves -- flashbacks real and imagined aside -- take place offscreen. So many of these films revolve around someone who witnesses a murder and, for one reason or another, is thrust into the role of amateur sleuth. The Bloodstained Butterfly has no central protagonist as such. We're instead introduced to a legion of potential suspects. Any of them could prove to be the hero, just as any one could be unveiled as the murderer. As masterfully composed as the film is, its visuals don't make it a point to dazzle in the same way that Dario Argento and Mario Bava's gialli so often do. It fetishizes forensic science and every aspect of a police investigation far more than gleaming straight razors or bared breasts. These films have a reputation for prioritizing their visuals and standout setpieces far above storytelling. The Bloodstained Butterfly, meanwhile, features what's perhaps the most sharply written and well-thought-out screenplay of any giallo I've come across. With so many characters and an abundance of moving parts, this is a film that demands the audience's attention to be fully appreciated. For those who take comfort in the more familiar aspects of the giallo, The Bloodstained Butterfly may pose a challenge. As for those with a taste for something different...

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The detectives in The Bloodstained Butterfly...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Bloodstained Butterfly]


Microwave Massacre (Blu-ray)
Microwave...?

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Check. Massacre...?

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Yup. Gotta say, the math checks out. At the same time, chances are that Microwave Massacre isn't the movie you think it is. Alas, no microwave ever attains sentience and goes on a killing spree. Despite roaring into drive-ins at the height of the slasher boom, it's hardly another teenage body count flick either. Nope, we're talking about a cannibalistic black comedy -- think Eating Raoul-by-way-of-Henny-Youngman -- about a sad sack who just really wants a bologna sandwich.

Donald (Jackie Vernon) doesn't wanna shove anything in his mouth that he can't pronounce. His shrewish wife May (Claire Ginsberg), meanwhile, has a taste for the finer things in life. Y'know, haute cuisine, or "hat quee-zini" as she'd probably shriek it. The lady's got four wall ovens, each dedicated to a particular type of dish. And her shiny, new, industrial-size microwave...? That sucker's so colossal that she could nuke a suckling pig in there. Donald wouldn't bother with chicken cordon bleu or an artichoke and spinach soufflé no matter who was wearing the chef's jacket, but May fumbling around with her microwave...? Fuhgettaboutit. After too many days and nights of this routine, Donald gets a few beers in him, bludgeons his wife to death with a pepper grinder, dismembers her, wraps her remains in foil, and refrigerates the evidence. I know, right? Same old story.

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Anyway, not too long after that, Donald fumbles around in search of a midnight snack and discovers what wonderful taste his late wife truly had. Or, well, has, as he unwittingly takes a chomp out of her severed hand. Mmmm, it's finger-lickin' good! A blue collar guy like Don isn't gonna let all that incriminating...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Microwave Massacre]


The Return of the Living Dead: Collectors' Edition (Blu-ray)
"...and I know you're here because I can smell your brains!"
-Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

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There are all sorts of life lessons you can take away from The Return of the Living Dead, although I think the main one goes something like this: if it's your first day on the job at a medical supply warehouse and the foreman asks if you wanna see the actual zombies that inspired Night of the Living Dead that are vacuum-sealed down in the basement, shake your head no. I mean, it's the Fourth of July weekend! Go out and enjoy it. Tandem bicycle. Fireworks. Barbecue. Sucking in a lungful of Trioxin 245 from a rickety, old corpse canister isn't gonna do anyone any good.

Too bad Frank (James Karen) and Freddy (Thom Mathews) didn't get CC:ed on that memo. No, Frank sets out to impress the new kid, and a faceful of putrefied zombie gut gas later, they wind up passed out on the dingy basement floor. They're sopping with sweat, all the color has drained from their faces, and...hmmm, that oversized tuna can that used to have a rotting corpse inside is now completely empty. No harm done, though, right? Spritz a little Lysol, let the place air out over the weekend, and no one'll be the wiser once Monday rolls around. Well, maybe if the Trioxin hadn't already made its way through the air ducts. The dogs on the shelf may be split down the middle but are wagging their tails and yapping merrily just the same. Corkboard-pinned butterflies flap their wings once again. ...and that naked, shaved, yellow cadaver in the freezer...? Moaning and pounding to get out. Oops. Yeah, yeah, I know it worked in that other movie, but braining the guy doesn't do jack. Even total body dismemberment just means you have oodles of little yellow parts...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Return of the Living Dead: Collectors' Edition]


More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 8/22: Beauty and the Beast (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/21: Ratchet & Clank (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/20: The Decoy Bride (Hdtv)
  • 8/19: The Bloodstained Butterfly (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 8/18: The Bloodstained Butterfly (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/17: Microwave Massacre (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 8/16: Microwave Massacre (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/7: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/4: Batman: The Killing Joke (Blu-ray)
  • 8/1: The Good Dinosaur (BD + DVD + Digital) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/31: The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/31: The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/30: The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray)
  • 7/21: Green Room (Blu-ray)
  • 7/20: Blood and Black Lace (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 8/23: The Walking Dead, Season 6 (Blu-ray)
  • 8/19: It Came from Outer Space! (3D) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/12: Ratchet & Clank (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/12: Marvel's Captain America: Civil War (3D BD+BD+Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/11: The Bloodstained Butterfly (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/11: Microwave Massacre (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/11: Ash vs Evil Dead - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
  • 8/4: Batman: The Killing Joke (Blu-ray)
  • 8/2: The Iron Giant: Signature Edition (BD) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/21: The Return Of The Living Dead (Blu-ray)
  • 7/16: The Good Dinosaur (BD + DVD + Digital) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Blood and Black Lace (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Green Room (Blu-ray)
  • 7/2: Zootopia (Blu-ray)
  • 6/27: Bad Moon (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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