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MTI Home Video presents
Vicious (2003)

"Don't bite the hand that feeds you!"
- Kane (Tom Savini)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: April 01, 2004

Stars: Tom Savini, Brian Bremer, Melanie Parker
Other Stars: Bill Moseley, Marco St. John, Robert Pralgo, Ted Huckabee, Brinke Stevens
Director: Matt Green

MPAA Rating: R for violence/gore
Run Time: 01h:30m:10s
Release Date: December 30, 2003
UPC: 039414520187
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C D-C-C- B-

DVD Review

A lot of low-budget horror films start out looking pretty good on paper, but in execution they somehow turn bad. Matt Green, director of Severed and Blood Bath, tackles one such textbook example of that in his 2003 horror outing Vicious, which is yet another forgettable horror film where former gore makeup-effects wizard Tom Savini moves in front of the camera to act. Sprinkle in a cameo by B-movie scream queen Brinke Stevens, as well as lead roles from Pumpkinhead's Brian Bremer, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2's Bill "Chop Top" Moseley, and you have the potential for nasty horror goodness. Mind you, I said "potential."

Savini, whose genius effects work in Martin, Friday the 13th and Maniac is truly the stuff of legend, has fancied himself an actor of late, and he has taken to trading on his name under the implied expectation of quality blood and dismemberment, which is rarely ever there. In Vicious, he plays Kane, some sort of grizzled military man running a rogue operation in some backwater rural woodlands. It seems that Kane is the self-titled zookeeper of a top-secret experiment known as a Project Carnivore, in which he procures food (aka humans) for a six-foot tall monster that vaguely resembles a T-Rex, but with more teeth. When the military orders the project shutdown, two marines are dispatched to liquidate Kane and his operation, but the problem is a quartet of campers (including Bremer and Melanie Parker) are caught in Kane's lair.

See what I mean? The premise is a B-movie good one, with the chance for countless innocent victims and over-the-top carnage. The problem always comes back to money, and the biggest roadblock Green's film probably hit was when it came time creature effects, which are really just plain awful. Something like this lives or dies on the strength of its beast, and the toothy flesheater in Vicious is jarringly bad, so much so that at one point I hoped Green would resort to just implying what the creature looked like, rather than show it at all, because it is there that movie magic falls apart.

The sad thing is that there's isn't anything really wrong with Green's directing skills; it shows off his apparent appreciation of the genre basics, though he relies too much on off-camera carnage for my liking and far too little on out-and-out gore. The acting is occasionally as bad as the effects, with Savini hamming it up ridiculously like he's doing a parody of DeNiro as Max Cady. He is easily the worst offender in Vicious, and it bothers me to no end seeing his talents wasted acting when his behind-the-scenes work is where he really excels.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in nonanamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, MTI's transfer of Vicious is barely tolerable, and certainly nothing exemplary. Originally shot on 16mm before being transferred to digital video, the presentation is notably grainy and plagued by glaringly inconsistent colors.

Specks and nicks are frequently evident, as well.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a flat 2.0 stereo mix that is fairly lifeless. Dialogue quality varies significantly from scene to scene, though it is always intelligible. The overall presentation lacks any kind of aural depth or dimensionality.

No major hiss or distortion, however, so that's a good thing.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Slaves of the Realm, Lucky, Detour, Sleepless Nights
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Tom Savini, Matt Green
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Tom Savini and Matt Green recorded a full-length, scene-specific commentary for Vicious, using Savini's bedroom as a studio, watching a full-frame release of the film. The track, aside from quite a bit of hiss, has some horrible audio levels, so switching back and forth between the commentary and the film will require having the remote handy. The tone is light, covering the usual perils of low-budget filmmaking, and Green is quick to point out the flaws in the finished product. Listening to Savini and Green made it tougher to really dislike the film as much as I did, but that's the breaks.

Also included is a Making Of (19m:55s), which is a narration-free collection of behind-the-scenes clips as the crew puts together various scenes. In addition to a handful of trailers, the disc is cut into 20 chapters, and features optional Spanish subtitles.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Not bad enough to be good, Vicious had potential to be fun, but suffered the low-budget fate of a laughable lead creature.

This is bad news, people.


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