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Victims! (Blu-ray Review)

Slasher // Video continues its relationship with Olive Films, bringing some of the most obscure and very hard to find cult horror films to the Blu-ray format.  This time around, its Jeff Hathcock’s Victims! that gets to come on over for a format jump.  This 1985 film comes from the end of the first run of slasher films of the early 1980s. This was right when Freddy Krueger was coming in to breathe new life into the genre. While this one gets stuck with the slasher label, its more of the scary hillbilly/lets molest and abuse women subgenre that a stalk and slash. While I don’t know that director of this one, he has had his hand in directing a Troma film and apparently has a film called Night Ripper which he is more known for. Victims!, which happens to be his feature film debut, will release onto the Blu-ray format June 27th.

Film 

Two deranged killers. Four nubile women. Do the math. When four women head out for a weekend in the wild to explore rock formations, little do they imagine the horror that awaits when they’re stalked by two serials killers. What starts out as innocent fun – camping, skinny dipping, and exploring rocks – soon turns into a fight for survival.

Well, this was a film, wasn’t it? Victims! is the kind of movie where the powers that be are just truly trying to rip off the popular trend without really understanding or having the talent to know why it was a popular trend in the first place. This movie is almost a skeleton of things in a film. The characters aren’t people, they’re barely even a type. Its just women spouting lines back and forth at one another only to set themselves up to be physically, sexually and verbally abused for a third act that feels overlong. And none if it has you even feeling for anything. Its all empty and hollow, just there to be there. There’s more interest in the abuse instead of the characters involved on both ends of it.

At the beginning of the film it feels like we are going to get some crappy little exploitative cheap bloody slasher with some T&A. But, nope, that goes away really fast. We actually don’t get another kill for what feels like a long time after having a marathon of them to start. And, none of them feel near as bloody as some of the slashings in the opening of the film. The killers also look to be more creative and psychotic as well. As it disappointingly turns out, they’re just hillbilly rapists in the desert.

Victims! in a way includes the viewer as you’re forced to sit through a mean-spirited film that treats women like garbage. You see them get abused, exploited and treated with plenty of disrespect by more than just the psycho killers in the film. Some of this is intentional, other moments of it are just plain nasty. Also, its a pretty boring movie, too. It starts out promising, like it could be silly fun, but that goes away pretty fast, once the girls get over to the desert.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail:  The review on the video quality here is going to sound harsh, but there’s no way around it. This film (like ones in the past from Slasher // Video) has been sourced from VHS and Beta tapes. These are the best elements available. I commend them for having the cajones to do this, while harsh criticisms will be abound, this at least preserves the life of a forgotten film like this and keeps it on a more reliable format. That said, it looks pretty bad. There is no real detail to speak of, its really soft and the overall look is just a bit ugly and at times its hard to see. I actually have been fair on these titles in the past, but this one isn’t even as good as something like Killer Workout or Deadly Prey.

Depth:  Oh this one’s pretty flat. There is nothing three dimensional going on here.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and consuming. If you’re hoping to see anything during nighttime scenes, forget about it. Blacks are pretty much black and don’t show off any texture or pattern.

Color Reproduction:  No real good color shows up here aside from red which bleeds. The palette comes off very limited as well.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are pretty red in appearance and waiver here and there in scenes between that and a more natural look. No real details are discernible and everything appears smooth.

Noise/Artifacts: Plenty of analog blocking, ghosting, noise and more.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Sourced from the VHS, the audio has many analog sounds and distortions while a flat sound throughout. Things peak, pop and more. You sure can make everything out in the film but it doesn’t sound very pretty.  It is pretty loud, which helps it.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is audible and loud, though hissy and easily peaks when characters yell and scream.

Extras 

Audio Commentary 

  • With Director Jeff Hathcock and Slasher Video’s Jesus Terán

Interview With Jeff Hathcock (HD, 23:03) – The film’s director goes pretty at length over his whole career and his feelings on each of his works while also going into more detail on Victims!

Photo Gallery (HD, 13:22)

Trailer (HD, 2:57)

Summary 

Victims! is definitely intriguing, its just not very good for both standard and cult reasons. Also not good is the video and audio quality on this Blu-ray. Sure, yes, its sourced from a VHS tape, but its still not good. I’ve seen Slasher //  Video provide much better looking than this in the past. Granted, I’m sure this is the best they had to work with. The bonus features are indeed a nice touch and save this release from being no good. If you’re a blind Slasher genre collector, you still may want to proceed with caution here.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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