10 horror gems of vinegar syndrome and severin to add to your Black Friday shopping cart!

The boutique Blu-ray market is alive and kicking, especially for genre fans. Labels like Scream Factory and Vinegar Syndrome are fighting the good fight and ensuring that physical media is far from dead. Our long-forgotten VHS memories are constantly being brought back to life, restored and re-released on high-definition formats. From Blu-ray to UHD, we’ll keep you up to date with the best releases from boutique labels.

black friday is always a big problem among Blu-ray collectors. Why? Two labels have managed to build an absolute enthusiasm around their annual sales teasing of major releases and limited editions. At midnight (EST time) on Black Friday, you can switch to either Vinegar Syndrome or Severin and pick up some new releases or check out their catalog titles reduced to 50% off. The fun lasts all weekend. In fact, they make it more than easy to make continuous impulse purchases by selecting “add to existing order” at checkout. You don’t have to pay double shipping costs!

New releases on US deck this weekend include the underrated late entry Dario Argento photo, Trauma, like William Malone’s better-than-it-should-be Alien-riff, Creature. Oh, and there’s Paul Morrissey’s Meat for Frankenstein fall in 4K UHD and 3D Blu ray! At Severin I’m looking forward to Ruggero Deodato’s dirty piece of work House on the edge of the Park and the infamous, so-bad-it-is-great killer Sasquatch (with a penchant for penis cracking) flick, Night of the Demon.

However, for those looking to save some cash this weekend, do so by shopping the sites back catalogs, looking for solid deals. and decent entertainment. Not sure where to start? Below are some of my favorite titles released by both labels that you should be able to grab for a bargain this Black Friday weekend.

Vinegar Syndrome

All American Murder (1991)

All American Murders is the kind of generic-looking thriller that filled video store shelves in the 90s. It draws you in with the promise of Christopher Walken but not much else. Fortunately, for those willing to take the plunge, you’ll be rewarded with a fast-paced and surprisingly gory murder mystery with plenty of Giallo attributes and noir-esque banter. When a troubled college student becomes the prime suspect in the “It Girl” campus murder, he must find the real culprit before being put away for good. All American Murders features a great script that is heavy on the snappy dialogue. It borders on folly, but it’s clear that the screenwriter had an affinity for the fast-paced heyday of crime thrillers.

Don’t Panic (1987)

If you haven’t seen it yet do not Panic, you are doing yourself a disservice. This is one of those ultimate “movie night” movies. It is certainly best enjoyed with like-minded friends, if possible. This Mexican production is clearly trying to jump on the success of A nightmare on Elm Street, although it feels like they are reminiscing Freddy’s Revenge more than all other entries.

On Michael’s 17th birthday, his friends decide to play with a Ouija board and unwittingly unleash Virgil’s wisecracking mind. He runs around absurdly killing the teenagers, while Michael constantly witnesses the carnage through premonitions… all while playing the coolest dinosaur jammies you never knew a 17-year-old could make. Vinegar Syndrome even sold recreations of said PJs along with the film’s release last year. Who knows? Maybe they’ll make a comeback.

The Caller (1987)

This won’t be for everyone. Your pleasure from the caller comes down to how much you enjoy thrillers in one location, the type that could easily be staged as a play and wouldn’t lose the elements that make them work. I will say, the less you know about this movie, the better.

A woman is alone in a hut. She prepares a meal for expected company. A man (Malcolm McDowell) shows up at her door and claims his car is broken. At first they appear to be strangers, but as the film progresses it becomes clear that there is a lot more to the story and neither The Caller nor The Girl (as they are stated in the credits) speak in plain truths. you will be confused while watching the caller, but the payoff is so absolutely gonzo – it’s well worth the puzzling drive.

Term (1980)

Deadline is more psychological drama than outright horror. Still, there are several times to give gorehounds a cause for applause. Steven Lessey is a popular horror novelist who has recently become the talk of the town in Hollywood adapting his own works into increasingly successful screenplays. Many of the murders and mayhem we see are actually ‘clips’ from his various productions. But Steven is on edge. He has a deadline approaching and his wife, in no uncertain terms, despises him and enjoys making his life miserable. As Steven turns to alcohol to cope, his grip on reality begins to loosen and tragic events drive him to unthinkable actions. Deadline is so incredibly underrated and has one last shot that will leave you shocked.

Grave Robbers (1988)

Not to be confused with the other version of vinegar syndrome, Grave Robbers (also known as ldig adrones), this Grave Robbers is a loco-brew of gothic romance with Twin Peaks-ian eccentric characters from a small town. That said, you’d do well to pick up both movies if you can!

When a waitress at a roadside restaurant is picked up by a charming stranger, she is taken to his mansion and the two quickly get married. The man turns out to be the town’s undertaker, who also happens to have many skeletons in his own closet. The waitress soon awakens from her fairytale haze and begins to fear for her own life. Grave Robbers is full of quirky performances and absurd revelations. The finale is sure to make you cry in disbelief. This is certainly a strange one.


holy blood

Holy Blood (1989)

while director Alejandro Jodorowsky is not known for tall tales, holy blood arguably one of his most cohesive stories. Yes, it’s still bizarre and filled to the brim with hallucinatory imagery, but there’s a beautiful continuous line that weaves just enough horror into a heartfelt tale of love and loss. After a young circus performer witnesses an attack on his mother, leaving her with severed arms, he grows up a wild man in a mental asylum. Finally, he escapes to try to rekindle a relationship with his childhood sweetheart, while trying to prevent “mother” from taking murderous revenge. This is a beautiful film, and Severin’s UHD release definitely does the candy-coated cinematography justice.

The Day of the Beast (1995)

Another Severin UHD release, The Day of the Beast is an irreverent comedy-horror from the twisted mind of Alex de la Iglesia (Witching and Bitching, The Last Circus). This film has such an irresistible appeal that it is hard to pass up. It’s Christmas Eve in Madrid and a priest has determined that the Antichrist is destined to be born on Christmas Day. To prevent it, he has to get the devil out the only way he knows how – by committing as many sins as possible in 24 hours. To do this, the Vader teams up with a heavy metal fan and a TV psychic to take down the devil and save humanity.

Patrick Still Lifes (1980)

The Australian classic Patrick (also available from Severin) never screamed for a sequel. However, that has never stopped Italian producers from making an old-fashioned knock-off. Patrick Still Lives was a movie I never really wanted to see. By most accounts, it’s awful. I’m a sucker for some cheap Italia sploitation though, so I picked this up and remember seeing this last Quarantine-O-Ween alone and cackling like crazy. It’s hilariously clunky in parts, but contains some of the most brutal and breathtaking gore gags. I couldn’t remember the last time I was so surprised by a previously undiscovered gem. Sure, there are way too many random sexcapades to see that bring the pace down, but the highs really do soar.

Honey of the Devil (1986)

So… er… where to start with this one? The devil’s honey is a later entry film by the great Italian Master of Gore, Lucio Fulcic. Those who expect the filmmaker’s usual propensity for mutilation will be hugely disappointed. To be fair, there are some horrifying moments, but Fulci here is much more interested in what excites us than in terrifying. This is a psycho-sexual story about lust, abuse and power.

Jessica has a toxic relationship with a successful musician, Johnny. Despite his abhorrent behavior, Jessica continues to return and play his cruel, domineering games. Meanwhile, we follow a surgeon who is in the midst of a midlife crisis and takes on his wife and hits the bottle a little too often. These two threads come together in a surprising way and lead the film in a very different direction from where it started. The devil’s honey has long been considered one of Fulci’s worst films, but thanks to the release of Severin, the film is finally getting the revaluation it deserves. Fulci made a cringe-inducing, over-sexed, wild exercise in power dynamics and sadomasochistic desire that has to be seen to be believed. And… well, you shall seeing a saxophone do things you never thought possible.

The Night Killer (1990)

I once wrote about this piece of madness for BD many moons ago. At the time, it hadn’t been released on Blu and the only version I could find was a gross VHS rip. When Severin announced they were releasing this, I couldn’t have pressed “pre-order” any faster. From the spirit of the other Italian master of horror – no, not Argento – Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2, Zombie 4), The Night Killer is full of face-palm cinema with a third act twist that will knock you on the ass. The killer’s disguise is half Freddy Krueger and part night beast. That should really tell you everything you need to know. View this as a double feature with Do not panic and thank me later.

These are just a handful of the great titles you can pick up this weekend at Vinegar Syndrome and Severin. Post your appetite in the comments below!

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