Destroyer -- When Ivan Moser (Football great Lyle Alzado), a convicted serial killer, is set to be electrocuted, a devastating prison riot erupts on the day of the execution. In the wake of the destruction and mayhem, the prison is shut down and Moser becomes a legend. No proof of his death existed. Eighteen months later, a film director (Anthony Perkins) intrigued by the legend of Moser, decides to use the prison as a film set. One the last night of filming, the truth of Moser's fate is about to be revealed. The film crew, trapped inside the prison, begin to disappear one by one. This electrifying thriller also stars Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl) and Clayton Rohner (I, Madman).
Edge of Sanity -- Anthony Perkins stars as an outwardly rational Dr. Jekyll who rapidly descends into a world of sexual obsession and murder as Mr. Hyde- and who may also be Jack the Ripper! A shocking new twist on one of the most infamous crime stories of all time, this terrifying thriller will keep you on the cutting edge of fear! After a lab experiment unleashes mysterious fumes, Dr. Henry Jekyll undergoes a horrifying transformation into a savage alter ego who calls himself "Jack Hyde." Meanwhile, the depraved killer Jack the Ripper is slicing his way through the alleys of Whitechapel, leaving mutilated streetwalkers in his wake. Is there a connection between Jekyll/Hyde and Jack the Ripper? And can anyone stop his reign of terror.
I'm starting to feel like the Blu-ray double feature sets from Scream Factory and therefore by extension their parent Shout Factory are a sub-genre unto themselves. Take two films with a thin association (or no association at all), smash them together, and fans get two reasonably entertaining flicks for one low price. Sometimes this doubling up on content can be worth it as both titles are little rough genre gems that deserve a decent HD presentation, others are pretty bottom barrel and maybe only one of the films featured is worth your time. With the Double Feature release of 'Destroyer' and 'Edge of Sanity,' the glue bringing these two flicks to Blu-ray just happens to star 'Psycho' lead actor Anthony Perkins. Both films are very different from one another but each is fun and entertaining in their own ways.
When you're shooting a horror movie, you've gotta have the right setting to make things extra creepy. Director Robert Edwards (Anthony Perkins) knows this, that's why he's using an abandoned prison for his women's prison slasher film. That added realism brings a little extra visceral punch. Unfortunately for this production, this prison has more than a little bit of bad history. A little over a year before, infamous rapist and murder Ivan Moser (Lyle Alzado) was being executed in the electric chair for his numerous crimes, the power grid burst and plunged the prison into a chaotic riot. After several prisoners died and Moser disappeared and was presumed dead, the place was shut down - making it the perfect film location! Or so it would seem.
While screenwriter David Harris (Clayton Rohner) and his girlfriend stuntwoman Susan (Deborah Foreman) work on the film, David begins to uncover the dark history of abuse at the prison. As the truth of the prison comes to light, all anyone cares about is ensuring the shoot doesn't get interrupted any further. But when key production personnel start to disappear, it's hard for Robert Edwards to finish the movie. It is especially difficult when it becomes all too clear that the madman Ivan Moser is alive and well and has been hiding deep within the bowels of the prison. Now he has his murderous obsessive eye on Susan and will kill anyone who gets in his way!
'Destroyer' works best as a satire of the slasher horror sub-genre. The film itself is actually very difficult to take seriously and my wager is that it wasn't intended to be. There is a sense of self-awareness throughout the film that keeps the sly humor at the forefront while the truly grisly and graphic slasher elements that are a key feature of the genre are kept to the sidelines. There are some inventive kills for sure, some of them quite gnarly and fun - especially when a jackhammer is employed, but again, they're there for humor rather than scares. The cast does what they can do with this movie, most of the performers are here for the seemingly invincible Ivan Moser to dispatch in inventively brutal ways. Anthony Perkins also looks to be taking a stab at the number of schlocky horror movies he starred in by playing a jaded director who doesn't care about his cast and crew but instead is more interested in going through the motions of making an average horror film. Taken as a whole, 'Destroyer' is a good bit of fun, but as a slasher film it's not all that inspired and as a satire it may be too subtle for its own good.
Edge of Sanity:
The Brilliant Dr. Henry Jekyll (Anthony Perkins) is an esteemed researcher and educator in London in 1888. He's often asked to consult on murder cases or help out a fellow physician in need of guidance with a patient. While experimenting with a potent form of cocaine, Dr. Jeckyll inhales some of the vapors. At first, there seems to be little effect, but whenever something arouses his deeper sexual urges, a dark force takes over and he becomes the wild maniac, Jack Hyde. While Dr. Jeckyll's wife Elisabeth (Glynis Barber) sleeps soundly in their bed, dangerous Jack roams the seedy sordid streets of East London. As he frequents a particular brothel, Jack becomes obsessed with a prostitute named Susannah (Sarah Maur Thorp).
Night after night, Jack makes Susannah perform any number of sexual acts, but just before he reaches his own grand finale, Jack rushes out into the night. Each night he stumbles upon some poor hapless prostitute and he surgically butchers the woman. Scotland Yard is left perplexed by the murders and calls on Dr. Jeckyll to consult on the case. Henry sees the savagery cut into each of the unfortunate victims knowing full well the extent of his darkest desires. While fearful of what he does as Jack, he becomes addicted to the sense of strength and power it brings him. When the body count rises, Elizabeth fears her own safety as she slowly begins to connect the murders of the man the newspapers and police call "Jack the Ripper" to her husband.
It's an interesting idea to take the mystery surrounding the Jack the Ripper murders and tie them to a famous piece of literature. 'Edge of Sanity' should be a perfect marriage between the two ideas, unfortunately, it quickly dissolves into an exercise of style over substance. I enjoyed the notion of Mr. Hyde being Jack the Ripper, but because the film is more interested in wild camera angles, bizarre color schemes, costuming that is inappropriate for the time period and the gratuitous amount of nudity, there is really very little "horror" in this horror picture. This film seems to have a late night cable movie channel obsession with bare breasts to the point that it forgets that it's a horror movie at all. Blood and gore are kept to the barest of minimums while the audience is paraded from one gratuitous setup for nudity after another. Had this film been made ten years earlier in Italy, it might have passed as a low-rent Giallo film.
Anthony Perkins does what he can to bring some weight to his dual role as Dr. Jekyll and Jack Hyde, but he never quite finds the balance between the two halves of one man. In fact, the only thing separating the performance is that Jack looks a lot paler and has bright pink eyeliner and lipstick with disheveled hair. When she's allowed to actually do something, Glynis Barber is a fine Elizabeth, but most of her scenes amount to her looking irritated or worried without taking any real action until the last act of the film. At the end of the day 'Edge of Sanity' offers little more than an opportunity for Perkins to ham it up in a rough 'Psycho' ripoff. Even as a ripoff, Perkins is a lot of fun to watch. The film is a bit of a mess, but it's a pretty looking mess that definitely entertains.
If you're an Anthony Perkins completionist, this Double Feature pack of 'Destroyer' and 'Edge of Sanity' should fill a nice gap in your collection! Perkins is a fine actor and brings some real presence to both films. I liked 'Destroyer' more than 'Edge of Sanity,' but that's only because I feel like the latter film didn't quite capitalize on its concept as well as it could have. I can see the value in owning both of these on Blu-ray and fans should have a blast owning the pair together.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Destroyer/Edge of Sanity' arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory. Both films are pressed onto a single Region A locked BD50 disc. Housed in a standard case, the Blu-ray opens to a feature option menu allowing you to chose which film you want to see. Each film opens at its own static image main menu featuring standard navigation options.
When this film begins, a title card comes up stating that this new HD transfer was sourced from the only remaining elements that were stored in a vault someplace, hence the original title "Shadow of Death" appearing at the start. If this transfer actually was sourced from the only remaining elements of the film, this 1.78:1 1080p transfer is actually pretty darn good! When you take away the presence of some slight speckling and some small scratches here and there, the elements sourced for this transfer are in reasonably decent shape. Fine film grain is readily apparent throughout allowing for some pleasing detail levels in facial features and costumes. The detail levels are so sharp in fact that it's very easy to tell that this film wasn't actually shot at a real prison, those seams in the walls do not lie! Colors are strong with plenty of primary pop. They may be pushed a tad red because characters tend to look a little pink, but the blood and guts stuff really looks good so that makes up for the flesh tone issues in my book. Black levels are solid as a rock with deep inky blacks and good shadow separation giving the image a nice three-dimensional vibe to it.
Edge of Sanity:
With a 1.85:1 1080p transfer, 'Edge of Sanity' certainly looks pretty great on Blu-ray, but some speckling and some noticeable edge enhancement keep it from being truly great. Film grain is subtle but noticeable throughout. For the Dr. Jeckyll scenes, the film has a softer smoother feel to it so at times details aren't as crisp and clear as they could be, but fine facial features and costuming do stand out - especially Dr. Jeckyll's scarf which is a key element of the character. When Mr. Hyde comes out, the film takes on a more exaggerated color scheme and film style with heightened primaries and deeper shadows. Through it all, the film maintains a nice film-like presentation. The Mr. Hyde sequences tend to look better because of the sharper photography, also, black levels and shadows are stronger during these sequences so the film has a sense of depth to it. The daylight Dr. Jeckyll moments tend to have some slightly tweaked contrast with whites looking extra white and black levels being a bit more subdued - but I'd wager that's by intent. All around a pretty good presentation.
Packed with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix, 'Destroyer' gets a lot of punch out this audio mix. Even as just a simple basic stereo mix, there is a nice sense of space through the channels. Dialogue comes through without any issue at all and sound effects have that nice natural tone to them. Especially the gore sound effects. Going back to the jackhammer scene, there is a lot of screaming, yelling, hammering, and bloodletting going on all at the same time and each little element has a nice bit of presence. You're either going to be grossed out at this or laugh your head off. Levels are set just fine as the track keeps mostly to the midranges. The only slight flaw of this track is a couple of very brief, barely audible moments of hiss and pop. I barely heard it at all but felt these brief anomalies were still worth a mention.
Edge of Sanity
Also sporting a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix, 'Edge of Sanity' does a fine job at trying to evoke a period horror film. The sweeping score from Frédéric Talgorn has a tendency to dominate some scenes, but it doesn't overpower sound effects or the dialogue. Since this film was produced largely in Hungary, it would appear that some of the actors were dubbed over with proper English accents, the timing of their words and their lip movements seems just a tad off in places when compared to Anthony Perkins' dialogue. Even if some of the lines were dubbed in, the dialogue still maintains a natural flow without sounding flat or canned. Compared to 'Destroyer' this track doesn't quite feel like it has the same sense of space to the mix, but it is still quite effective and plays well to the nature of the film.
'Destroyer' Trailer: (SD 1:03)
'Edge of Sanity' Trailer: (HD 1:08)
Scream Factory has done a solid job pulling together this Anthony Perkins inspired Double Feature of 'Destroyer' and 'Edge of Sanity.' While I enjoyed 'Destroyer' a bit more than 'Edge of Sanity,' both films proved to be entertaining in their own ways. I wouldn't necessarily watch them back to back, but they're still a good schlocky way to spend an evening. This set is pretty good all around as both films have strong A/V presentations. Sadly the only extra features are a pair of trailers. Fans of either film should be very happy with this release and should absolutely consider a purchase. Everyone else should consider this set as worth a look.