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Blood Diner – Collector’s Series (Blu-ray Review)

Blood-DinerLionsgate is exhuming classic horror films with a red carpet rollout this fall for the limited edition Vestron Video Collector’s Series. Hours of materials have been assembled for the Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-ray™ releases, starting with with Chopping Mall andBlood Diner, and continuing with Waxwork and Waxwork II: Lost in Time Double Feature,Return of the Living Dead 3, andC.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD, these re-releases are for the collector and horror fan alike and will be available for a limited amount of time.  Each limited-edition feature, transferred from the original film elements to high-definition Blu-ray™, is packed with special features like Blood Diner’s new making of and audio commentary with director Jackie Kong.

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Film 

In order to raise an ancient Egyptian goddess, two cannibalistic brothers use their restaurant to add something special to the menu.

Originally conceived as a sequel to Herschell Gordon Lewis’ gore masterpiece Blood Feast, Blood Diner holds on its own and carries on in a zany fashion the type of gore-comedy traditions set with those earlier films.  Its got its own sense of weirdness and humor that it kinda takes real horror fans to adore and appreciate.  From the offset, it lets loose and never lets go.  The film doesn’t take itself very seriously, and some might be turned off from that, but others welcome this kind of debauchery.

While the plot is a little bit all over the place, its not all that important.  What Blood Diner excels at, is being a series of situations, scenes and effects driven set pieces.  Its almost like we’re watching a condensed season of some twisted dark horror sitcom.  The narrative is pretty much one set up to the next.  Most of the “meaty” stuff comes from following the two brothers in their quest summon an evil goddess.  On their trail are two detectives, but don’t rule out all their stuff as boring, they do have some really weird scenarios that are fun as well.

The gore of the film is delicious, goopy and definitely ambitious.  Its a film that never lets up and isn’t afraid to go in dark, bizarre or even places where they may fall short.  There is some good prosthetic work on display to go along with really terrific make-up.  Creature work is decent, though that stuff delves more into camp territory.  The uncle whose brain communicates with the brothers seems intentionally cheesy and looks like something that walked right out of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

One of the best revelations of this movie is that it was directed by a very young Asian woman.  That’s both awesome and sadly very unique even to this day.  Jackie Kong only did four films, but she had some balls and chops.  A relentless filmmaker than knew and got what she wanted.  Everyone who worked with her had nothing but a lot of admiration and praise for her work and working with her on it.  This is sort of like that Punisher: War Zone effect, where you have an awesome movie by a female director and sit and wonder what the hell else we are missing out on because the suits are still boy-crazy and hesitant to hire them on genre pictures.

Blood Diner pulls from the works of Herschell Gordon Lewis, but its heart is in the vein of stuff like Terror Vision and Motel Hell.  The film features laughs, darkness, gore and overall a silly, fun time.  It is absolutely the type of film they don’t and can’t make anymore.  If you’re a horror fan that hasn’t seen it, fix that, as while you may not be on board with everything, there is a good chance there is going to be one to two things that will speak to you and scratch your itch.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Blood Diner looks better than it probably ever has (or deserves to look).  Grisly details are more apparent than ever before.  The food, the messy dismemberments, and even surface and clothing textures come through in this new transfer.  The image is a hair soft, keeping true to its look in what the source was likely.  Patterns and such also are visible in every scene.  You’re getting Blood Diner on Blu-ray and it looks pretty marvelous, that’s a win.

Depth:  Blood Diner carries some pretty solid depth, with movements proving to be both smooth and cinematic.  Characters, objects and environments feel spacious and free.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich.  Some minimal details are lost in the darkness, but shading is still rich and welcome.  Grain is heavier in darker spots.

Color Reproduction:  Red red red, blood splatters quite wonderfully and pops.  Whites also impress, especially in the famous “batter” sequence.  Super 80s colors and neons vibrantly lift off the screen when they are allowed.  Mostly things keep to a natural look.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the length of the feature.  Facial features like dried/wet blood, stubble, dimples, wrinkles and make-up impressive come through on medium shots and even better in close ups.

Noise/Artifacts:  Pretty clean, mostly just some welcomed grain.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  Blood Diner has a pretty solid track, though light on the lower end. Sound effects are pretty well rounded and the mix here is blended well.  Score, songs, vocals and effects play pretty good with one another and breathe amongst one another.  The doo wop music sounds pretty nice and clean here and the punk rock…well…rocks.  This gets the job done.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear and audible.  A little carried away at minimal times into the background, but its a very good track.

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Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Jackie Kong

Killer Cuisine: The Making Of Blood Diner (HD, 1:04:31) – Michael Felsher produces another winner, in 5 parts.  Jackie Kong has come out of the woodwork (A one on one interview section) to discuss the film for the first time in years.  If you’re familiar with Felsher’s work (Just Desserts, Synapse Films, Shout! Factory, various other like them), then you’ll know this release is worth it for this doc alone.

Archival Interview With Project Consultant Eric Caidin (HD, 8:01) – The late project consultant goes over his involvement and the ideas behind the film.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 4:49) 

TV Spots (SD, 1:34) 

Radio Spots (HD, 2:17) 

Still Gallery (HD, 5:34) 

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Summary 

Lionsgate and their Vestron Video line is off to a hot start.  Blood Diner isn’t quite as loaded as the incredible release of Chopping Mall, but that’s a high bar to pass.  Blood Diner is still loaded with an hour documentary and feature commentary leading the pack.  Picture and audio quality are both impressive and better than this film ever deserved to look.  The film itself is a silly little bit of fun you may have missed back in the day.  Definitely a recommend for horror collectors.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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