Vin Syn’s ‘Evil Town’ (1977/1985) ‘Savage Harbor’/’Death Feud’ (1988) 2k Restoration Blu-ray Review

One of my very favorite things to find in my mailbox is a package from Vinegar Syndrome. The flicks they choose to restore and distribute were produced primarily between the 1960s and 1980s, before political correctness when what filmmakers put on tape was fast and loose. Affectionately known as Vin Syn, these guys are masters at their craft, turning grainy, uneven, yet highly entertaining films into works of art that even younger audiences gravitate towards. I love discovering these films: grindhouse and sexploitation (The Corruption of Chris Miller 1973 – read the review here), splatterfests (The Suckling 1990 – read the review here, Body Melt 1993 – read the review here) and mad as a balloon screwball comedies (Wacko 1982 – read the review here). This month, I received not one but two limited edition Blu-rays from the 1980s – Evil Town and Death Feud AKA Savage Harbor.

Evil Town

 

Evil Town Synopsis:

A group of four friends traveling the West Coast arrive in a small town with a strange history of its residents disappearing mysteriously. What’s more is that the town’s illusive doctor, Dr. Schaeffer, is rumored to be combat the aging process. As the group of young travelers find themselves embroiled in a diabolical scheme of medical madness, they realize – perhaps too late – that they are Dr. Schaeffer’s ideal specimens.

Evil Town was co-directed by Academy Award winner Curtis Hanson as Edward Collins (L.A. Confidential 1997, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle 1992), Mohammed Rustam (Dracula vs Frankenstein 1971, Evils Of The Night 1985) and Knock Knock’s (2015 – read our review here) Larry Spiegel and Peter S. Traynor. The film stars Stacy Keach’s brother, James Keach (National Lampoon’s Vacation 1983), Lurene Tuttle (Psycho 1960 – read our retro review here), Dean Jagger (White Christmas 1954), Robert Walker Jr. (Beware! The Blob 1972), Doria Cook-Nelson (The Swarm 1978), Michele Marsh (Fiddler On The Roof 1971), Christie Mossman née Hauser (Spencer: For Hire TV series), Dabbs Greer (House Of Wax 1953, The Green Mile 1999) and E.J. Andre (Magic 1978 – read our retro review here).

Look at this gorgeous 2k restoration! You can see every sweat-soaked pore on James Keach’s face!

There’s a bit of background I want to explain. According to IMDb:

Filmed for the most part in the late 1970s under the title God Damn Dr. Shagetz [AKA God Bless Grandma and Grandpa] and, reportedly, had a very limited release. It then sat on the shelf until the mid 1980s, by which time some of the players, such as Hope Summers, were already dead, and additional footage, including some nudity, was added, along with a 1985 copyright statement. By 1987, it had already found its way to video.

So yeah. Evil Town has a lot going on. There’s like 3 different movies happening in here, and they were all filmed across nearly a decade of time. Mohammed Rustam’s contribution to the film is nearly identical to what he did in Evils of the Night (1985). We’ve got the disco soundtrack and drooling, pervy blue collar guys from the ’70s and a reference to Tom Cruise that could only have come from the ’80s. Boobies were bouncing (Christie Hauser’s melons should have had their own SAG card). Everyone was non-discriminatory and having sex with each other. People were being knocked out and dumped in rooms in big, moaning piles. Old men were staring lecherously at young women, and these girls actually liked it. The acting was pretty cringy for the most part. However, this film knows what it is (even if I’m not completely sure), and it takes that squirm-worthiness and runs with it. It was nearly impossible to follow any of the storylines, but I just strapped myself in for the ride and rode this fantastic roller coaster.

You don’t need to be attractive to get laid in Evil Town

From the Vinegar Syndrome Evil Town Blu-ray case:

A troubled production from its mid-70s beginnings, Evil Town started life as God Damn Dr. Shagetz and was helmed by various directors at different points, including a young Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential). In the early 80s, producer Mardi Rustam bought the film and further retooled it, adding additional moments of sleaze and a strange subplot brewed from his own film, Evils Of The Night, eventually retitling it Evil Town. This bizarro mutant film epitomizes the lengths producers would go to re-market their work for the video era. Vinegar Syndrome Archive is proud to present Evil Town on Blu-ray for the first time, featuring a fresh 2K restoration of the original camera negative!

Special Features

  • Newly scanned and restored in 2K from its 35mm camera original
  • Audio interview with Director Larry Spiegel
  • “Compare and Contrast” – a comparison between Evil Town and Evils Of The Night
  • Double-sided poster
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitles

Savage Harbor

Savage Harbor synopsis:

Joe and Chris live a life of high seas adventures, working as merchant seaman. But after arriving in port in Los Angeles for a brief leave, Joe meets Anne, a desperate young woman with a sordid history of prostitution and heroin addiction. As their romance builds, Joe realizes that he’s falling in love, but soon Anne’s former pimp, Harry, tracks her down, kidnapping and brutalizing her with the intent of forcing her back under his control and into her old ways of life. Determined not to let her go, Joe and Chris form a two man army to rescue Anne and take down Harry and his thugs once and for all.

Next up, we have the 1988 film, Savage Harbor AKA Death Feud. This one was created by the late Writer/Director, Carl Monson, who passed away the year this movie released. He was known for the 1973 flicks, Please Don’t Eat My Mother! and A Scream In The Streets. Savage Harbor stars one step removed actors Frank Stallone (Hudson Hawk 1991) and Christopher Mitchum (Chisum 1970), as well as Karen Mayo-Chandler (Beverly Hills Cop 1984), Anthony Caruso (Gunsmoke TV series), Charlie’s Angels’ Gary Wood, Greta Blackburn (48 Hrs. 1982) and the original Wednesday Adams, Lisa Loring. By the way, Evil Town’s Mohammed Rustam (as Mardi Rustam) took a skip and a jump over to Savage Harbor to sprinkle it with his producing dust, to tie these two flicks together.

Did you just call me Sly? Seriously?

Savage Harbor is not a movie for the weak of heart. I’m not saying that because it’s so bloody or heartbreaking, but because just about everyone will find something to be offended by when watching it. If “Triggered!” is in your every day lexicon, you might want to skip this one. However, if you just want to let your noggin slurp on some sugary brain candy, and your PC button is tuned to the OFF position, then you have to give this flick a try. Boobies jiggle, things explode, fists crack jaws, people shoot up (both drugs and bullets), guns shoot in every direction, mullets mull, a cross-dresser gets cross, men get dragged behind cars, prostitutes seduce, humans get trafficked and avocados are nearly forgotten.

Merry Christmas!

From the Vinegar Syndrome Savage Harbor Blu-ray case:

A brain-busting mid-80s action extravaganza in the Executioner Pt. 2 vein of mind numbing sleaze, Savage Harbor (also known as Death Feud) also stars Greta Blackburn (Party Line), Anthony Caruso (Zebra Force, Claws), Nicholas Worth (Don’t Answer the Phone, Swamp Thing) and Lisa Loring (The Addams Family). Directed by notorious exploitation film auteur, Carl Monsoon (A Scream in the Streets), Vinegar Syndrome Archive presents the worldwide disc debut of Savage Harbor, presented in a new 2K restoration if its original camera negative!

Special Features

  • Newly scanned and restored in 2K from its 35mm camera original
  • “Do You Like Avacados?” – a video interview with Actor Frank Stallone
  • Audio interview with cinematographer Jack Beckett
  • Double-sided poster
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitles
What, you don’t like mullets?

These Blu-rays both came with gorgeous slipcovers, a double sided poster AND reversible cover artwork. I feel so spoiled! Both of them are limited editions of 2,500, so if you want to own either one, grab ’em up quick at the Vinegar Syndrome website. And, while you’re there, do some shopping. You never know what long lost gem you’ll find there!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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