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MTI Home Video presents
The Hazing (2004)

"Delia, dead and buried is a condition that doesn't change. Kind of like the space between your ears."
- Marsha (Tiffany Shepis)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: September 21, 2004

Stars: Nectar Rose, Tiffany Shepis, Brad Dourif, Philip Andrew, Parry Shen
Other Stars: Jeremy Maxwell, David Tom, Charmaine De Grate, Brooke Burke
Director: Rolfe Kanefsky

MPAA Rating: R for horror violence/gore, language and some sexuality
Run Time: 01h:26m:51s
Release Date: September 14, 2004
UPC: 039414560060
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B-B B

DVD Review

Rolfe Kanefsky—relentless low-budget B-movie director—made one of the smartest, funniest and certainly one of the most underrated horror films of the past twenty years, which was There's Nothing Out There back in 1991. Basically doing what Kevin Williamson would do in Scream five years later, Kanefsky's directing debut mercilessly spoofed the dead teenager genre with the kind of sharp wit and fanboy enthusiasm that made the limitations of the shoestring budget almost invisible. While ending up far more comical than it was horrific, There's Nothing Out There was really something of an unheralded gem for Kanefsky, full of an exciting, well-heeled exuberance that unfortunately largely went unseen.

His latest release The Hazing has a noticeably bigger budget and even more humor, and is a film that readily admits to borrowing heavily from the playbook of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, centering on the ancient and mysterious Necromonicon-like Savior of the Souls book and a handful of doomed college students trapped in a haunted house on Halloween. There's a nifty prologue that sets up the requisite evil powers of the book, touting its powers to open portals, as well as the proper use of skull-topped staffs, and then it's on to the mayhem. A "joint hazing" between a frat and sorority sends five Halloween-costumed pledges on a scavenger hunt (one of their items is even a Bruce Campbell photo), with their final destination being the infamous and haunted "Hack House", where they have to spend the night.

Despite an appearance by the always interesting Brad Dourif, former Troma queen Tiffany Shepis pretty much steals The Hazing as tough-girl-who-is-really-a-sweetheart Marsha, who spends the entire film in a form-fitting (emphasis on "form-fitting) silver jumpsuit. Shepis' immensely likeable Marsha is mean, tough, warm, funny, and her performance stands out, especially in a kind of genre film where audiences have pretty much come to expect flat, one-dimensional characterizations. Don't get me wrong, it's not exactly Oscar time for Tiff, but she is fun to watch here. But it's not just Shepis, because Parry Shen (as the scared-of-the-dark Tim) and Nectar Rose (playing layered blonde sexpot Delia) also slip in under the radar with characters that end up transcending the usual stock nature of potential victims.

Dourif plays a nefarious professor of "science and pseudo-science", which basically means he gets to be real creepy and evil, including doing the unthinkable to Brooke Burke (E's Wild On), who makes her brief feature film debut here wearing an Aladdin-esque harem girl outfit. But of course the Savior of the Souls book has to end up at the haunted house (it does), characters start dying horrific deaths (they do), scream queen Tiffany Shepis and scream-queen-in-the-making Nectar Rose appear nude (they do), and Kanefsky peppers the whole thing with in-jokes and smart dialogue (he does).

Kanefsky loads up The Hazing with all sorts of rich genre potential—Halloween, haunted house, ancient book, portals—and much like There's Nothing Out There, manages to end up with a final product that is funnier and more clever than most of its larger-budget contemporaries.

Plus, kudos to Kanefsky for not kowtowing to pressure and sticking with one of the oddest and funniest oral sex scenes in movie history (yes, even weirder than the one in Boa vs. Python). Maybe there aren't any real horrific scares in The Hazing, but that's not really Kanefsky's style or intent, it seems; instead, he delivers more of a demented funhouse ride, albeit one with severed heads, roaring chainsaws, spewing blood, and even a Jart to the forehead.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: MTI has issued The Hazing in what appears to be 1.66:1 widescreen, though it is nonanamorphic. Overall a decent transfer, considering this is a low-budget horror film, and the presence of things like light grain or shimmer is a minor gripe. Colors look presentable bright, though black levels get a bit murky at times.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio for The Hazing is presented in a nice 2.0 surround mix, and the track is moderately aggressive, offering up a decent use of rear channels for things like dogs barking or disembodied spirits. Dialogue is clear, with some directional pans across the front providing a bit of movement to the presentation. The lack of any substantial bottom end is regrettable, however.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Maniacts, Hunting Humans, Lucky, Learning Curve, Detour, Bunker
7 Deleted Scenes
3 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Rolfe Kanefsky, Tom Seidman, Tiffany Shepis, Nectar Rose, Jeremy Maxwell, Philip Andrew
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Nice job from MTI on the extras, starting off with two commentary tracks. One is a fact-based chat featuring Kanefsky and producer Tom Seidman, and the other one of those goofy cast gatherings with, this time with Tiffany Shepis, Nectar Rose, Jeremy Maxwell, and Philip Andrew. The Kanefsky/Seidman track is actually informative, but the mention of a planned but never shot scene of Brooke Burke changing clothes just blurred my mind with what could have been. The cast track is understandably silly and light, and despite my long-running Shepis adoration, it's not really worth more than a casual listen.

Also included are seven deleted scenes, including a longer Dourif/Burke scene, as well as the obligatory and pointless Bloopers reel (10m:54s). The Faces Behind the Scream (10m:49s) features Kanefsky, Seidman and most of the cast talking up the project, and features some behind-the-scenes footage, to boot. Shepis gets a chance to fill ten minutes with Behind the Scenes with Tiffany (10m:43s), a handheld peek that is notable for a great story about her first experience as a stripper at 16. Yikes!

There's also a dose of trailers, and the disc is cut into 20 chapters, with optional Spanish subtitles.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Rolfe Kanefsky's The Hazing is, quite simply, a lot of fun. Plus, the Zombie Dance theme song by The Insect Surfers is a neo-Cramps classic. Where's the soundtrack?!

Highly recommended.

 


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