Strippers vs Werewolves Blu-ray Review
Putting some flesh on its bones, the film comes with an AVC encode that is bright and bold and colourful, neon-draped and bedecked with deep shadows when necessary. In fact, this looks enormously like some 80’s genre product – a sort of Fright Night/Vamp meets Lamberto Bava’s Demons.
The film comes in with a 2.35:1 image that burgeons with cinematic appeal, even if DOP David Meadows’ compositions actually seem quite limited given the scope that he is playing with. Those lurid animated elements are suitably vibrant and ooky, a little reminiscent of the similar cartoonic gimmick that Walter Hill has placed into the BD of The Warriors. Colours are nicely saturated, with thick primaries, cool blues and sleazy greens and reds for the club interiors. This is a deliberately comic-book approach that loves the city lights and the stark contrast that exists in clubland. I don’t think there is much daylight seen in the film – at least, I can only recall one brief shot out in the suburb – but there are some UV tubes brought into the conflict. Light and dark vie against one another in the frame without hiccup. The blacks are deep and don’t seem to suffer from any untoward crush. However, there are certainly times when the grain fuzzes up to become noise in some of the darker moments.
Detail is actually very good, but this is the sort of broad image that tends to look as though it has just been splashed against the camera-lens without much thought as to the composition and the depth of the imagery. But the real trouble is that the picture is so clean and clear and well-defined that you will absolutely no problem spotting how tacked-on those werewolf masks are. Some shots are softer than others, and the film texture can also vary from scene to scene. Grain is happily apparent throughout, but the image is not the sharpest around. However, there is an immense plus side – which is, of course, that the stockings, the short skirts, the skimpy bras and all the rest of the rizzle-kicking caboodle, which can be inspected at your leisure. There aren’t a lot of wounds to study in hi-def closeup, which is something of a shame. But separation on hair, sparkle in the eyes, facial texture and the view through a see-thru high-heel, say, is pretty decently handled. You shouldn’t be disappointed with how the film looks on BD. All the bits you want to ogle are nicely rendered, and the broad aesthetic is appropriately painted with lurid affection.
There are some lens-flares on offer, and a few of these are rather weird. They even look like artefacts retained on the image – a little pale box sitting in the upper left of the frame in the shadows as the werewolves infiltrate the strip-club for the finale, for instance, which doesn’t look quite right to me. Edge enhancement is not an issue and there is no overt use of DNR, but you may spot some banding taking place.
For such a low-budget release rushed out on to disc, this is not too shabby, but hardly all that scintillating.
You want some bite to go with your sauce?
Well, you’re not really going to get it with this DTS-HD MA 5.1, I’m afraid. One of two options, the other being a lossless stereo mix, this surround mix is all a bit dry and unappealing. What it lacks in detail and precision and actual wraparound sonic activity, it tries to make up for with bold, brash and in-yer-face volume. I’m not saying that this is a particularly loud track, but rather that it is all very blatant and obvious, without any subtlety or nuance. Debatably, it doesn’t need any such elements. Glendening’s film doesn’t require much in the way of atmospheric detail. The incidental music is suitably thumping for the various club scenes and the all-important stripping, and the score, itself, by Neil Chaney (yeah, right!), is given a fair bit of room to move about in. But the overall impression is of a busy track that loses distinction by virtue of a lack of ambition. In other words, this is really just a glorified stereo track, given a boost by the space provided by the extra channels, but not having anything of worth to spread out around them to sit up and take any notice of.
There are grunts and growls, and there might be a howl or two, and all of this combined with the more colloquial human dialogue has no trouble coming across. That said, however, Sarah Douglas’ voice seems to fall flat every time she opens her mouth. But this could be just down to her disconnected and unconvincing delivery. There is also quite a bit of gunfire and a couple of good explosions to liven things up a bit, and the more bombastic of the effects in the mix are delivered with gusto, as well. The splintering of a defenceless door – there’s always a couple of them in a horror film, isn’t there? – and the clanking of the cell-door have presence too. When Justice swings her leg around and hoofs the irate punter in the teeth, there’s a very satisfying solidity to the impact. So, the film has its more kinetic moments for sure, and the track doesn’t fur any of them up, so to speak, even if it doesn’t exactly pack too much of a punch either.
Overall, I can’t shake the feeling that this is actually quite a tame sound mix that doesn’t properly exploit the full potential that was on offer. However, this is down to the source and not a problem with the audio transfer at all.
There’s a Commentary Track from two of the movie’s many producers, Dark Side contributor Jonathan Sothcott and the guy who plays the batty Van Helsing riff, Sinclair, Simon Philipps. They deliver lots and lots of trivia and background stuff. They cheerfully acknowledge the inanity of the project and they are very respectful and appreciative of the cast they were able to get hold of. We hear of the locations, the extras, the London Riots, the FX and the music. It is a good, solid chat-track rattled off by a couple of people who know they can churn this stuff out in their sleep. And, in fact, if you listen to Sothcott, actually do.
The only other extra we get is a 12-minute Behind the Scenes featurette that allows practically all of the cast to air their views on becoming either strippers or werwolves, or just victims. We see the prosthetics being applied and hear how impressed everyone is with the finished look of the monsters (go figure!), and we see some of the action gags being filmed. Not bad for a very brief overview. There’s lots of banding prevalent in the image for this.
Hints of the Underworld saga and the Lock, Stock cockney turf-war vie with a staggering number of wolf-movie references and in-jokes, and there’s a trace of a lupine Roadhouse about the tricks and tactics employed in this takeover bid … but this is really all about seeing, um, Strippers vs Werewolves. And to this end, we have ADHD, crackhead Mohican snarlers, masturbating “barkers” and over-the-hill mobsters going talon-to-stiletto with a buxom bunch of wenches who have clearly watched The A-Team for defensive tips.
It is all very scattershot and for every joke that raises a chuckle, there’s at least two that plop to the ground like wolf-droppings. The acting is okay, with the professionals just winking at the audience instead of going for the jugular, and the FX are so terrible they could actually be a work of play-school genius. The 80’s vibe is a touch confusing at times, but welcome nonetheless, but the attempt to splice in some proper drama and emotion and suspense is clumsy at best.
The film had something like a couple of weeks at the flicks before it slunk out onto Blu-ray, and this is only fair, I suppose. It is a beer ‘n’ pizza night-in with the lads and not a cinematic howl at the moon, no matter how snazzy and decorative the wacky animated instances might be. But Kaleidoscope’s UK region-free release packs a detailed and colourful transfer with a so-so audio mix and a fun commentary, so there is a little bit of meat to go with what is predominantly gristle.
You know it’s crap … but there are still a few of you out there who will lap this up and find something in it to howl about.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £10.00
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