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Velocity Home Entertainment presents
Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun (2004)

"Maybe this isn't happening. Maybe it's only a dream."
- Jennifer Jamms (Cheryl Dent)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: March 16, 2006

Stars: Cheryl Dent, Vin Crease, Michelle Morrow
Other Stars: Ryan Rogoff, Michael Schuster, J. Scott Shonka, Heather J. Thomas, Jim Powers, Klaus Aton Graal
Director: Vin Crease

MPAA Rating: R for (violence/gore, a scene of strong sexuality, some nudity, drug use, language)
Run Time: 01h:21m:22s
Release Date: September 27, 2005
UPC: 821575541350
Genre: horror

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

DVD Review

In today's cinematic world of horror movie remakes, a new twist on this trend has hit the DVD scene in the form of Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun. This isn't a traditional remake in that there wasn't an earlier version of the film, but the filmmaker's choice to make this 2004 film look like it was made in the 1970s makes it unique.

There's a fine line between being influenced by a film and merely copying it, and Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun, wavers more on the imitation side of both Wes Craven's he Hills Have Eyes, and The Last House on the Left. However, there are enough glimmers of originality here to make this a tough call for purists who just can't handle their beloved films being borrowed from. Undiscriminating fans of tense, realistic horror might want to give this flick a look though.

The story behind Slaughterhouse is that it was a lost 1972 film that was never released due to an investigation surrounding the death of producer Benjamin Mankiewicz at the hands of director and star Vin Crease. This isn't exactly true, as the film was really made in 2004 (yet still directed by Vin Crease, AKA D.C. Mann). This is a neat little marketing ploy, but even if the back story was true, it wouldn't have made the film any better. The acting is amateur, at best, although Crease really immerses himself into his role, making for a believable, creepy villain.

The entirely fictional storyline focuses initially on adult film starlet Jennifer (Cheryl Dent). During filming, she freaks out and severely injures her co-star, then takes off on a mind-clearing road trip. Naturally, her car breaks down, and she is left to walk, eventually happening upon a vast area of nothingness. Jennifer is starving and not exactly together mentally, so she's more than happy to meet a bunch of hippies and their leader, Damon Grey (Vin Crease), who appear to be typical flower children, and Jennifer takes to their lifestyle instantly. However, she soon realizes that this bunch enjoys killing travelers in their spare time; a practice that Jennifer might not be as keen on partaking in.

Once we've realized (after about five minutes) that the whole "lost 1972 film" thing is a gimmick, there isn't much to keep Slaughterhouse afloat. It's fun to watch the Jennifer character go nuts in the beginning, but her ensuing travels are pretty boring. Things are supposed to pick up when Jennifer meets Damon Grey's group of hippies, but, thanks to most of the violent carnage happening off screen, the intensity never picks up. Instead, we're left to pick out all of the references and blatant rip-offs from other far superior horror films from the genre's glory days. Before I knew it, the action was over and I was scratching my head as to what I just saw, and whether I even cared.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and this transfer does a fine job of capturing the flower-child look of the early 1970s. Nearly all of the print flaws (excessive dirt and grain) are intentional, and the bright yet faded color scheme is reminiscent of Woodstock-era stock footage. Images are intentionally rough and lacking in detail, while black and shadow levels remain consistent throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is rather low key, but this isn't much of a surprise. It basically does its job by presenting the overall mix in the crispest and clearest way possible, given a limited dynamic range.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sleepover Nightmare, Ripper 2, Snapped
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are some nice extra features, and you don't even have to entirely buy into the "lost 1972 film" gimmick to enjoy them, although it helps. The 14-minute documentary, Losing the Light: The Unmaking of Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun, sticks with the gimmick in that it features cast and crew interviews, during which they talk about living through these supposedly real events. The look of this piece is similar to that of the film itself; maintaining the illusion that this footage was actually filmed in 1975.

A trio of trailers for other Velocity Home Entertainment releases and seven "cuttings" are also available. This montage of deleted scenes is actually slightly more entertaining than the film itself. Perhaps this subject matter only works in such small doses.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Boasting a marketing gimmick that could have worked but doesn't, Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun can never rise above this misstep. This tale of hippies gone mad steals far too liberally from superior, classic exploitation pictures, but that hasn't stopped Velocity Home Entertainment from releasing a solid DVD for the flick.


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