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Death Reel - Death Reel( DVD) [SRS Cinema - 2021]

Death Reel is an anthology horror film based around a collector who buys a collection of odd/obscure films from house sale, so fairly standard/ cliched wrap around story. The thing that sells the film, and makes it both heart-felt and charming is the films we see within the film- early super 8 productions from SOV legends Polonia Brothers. So we get inventive low-budget gore by the bucketload, some cheesy- yet charming acting, and a hella of a lot of love for horror film in general. Here from the folks at SRS Cinema is a region free DVD of the picture, taking in a commentary track Mark Polonia, a making off, and a bunch of trailers for SRS releases.

Released in 2015 Death Reel, found Mark directing/ writing the wrap-around film. Sadly his brother John had died in 2008, and clearly, this film is a heartfelt tribute to his brother and the films he and their teen buddies made back in the 1980s. The wrap around is done well enough, as we get a middle-aged horror geek, watching one film after another- though he seems he's not alone in the house. But of course, the pull/ lion share of the films nearing hour and a half runtime is the super 8’s.

The super 8 films here are from between the years 1983 and 1985, and Mark has added (largely) effective music/ sound effects to these. In all there are four super 8 films- we have one about a murderous and heart-ripping out scarecrow, one about an aquatic stalker killing body-popping teens at a lake, a satanic cult who wear balaclava’s and kill folks, and a follow-up to the scarecrow story. All of the films are packed with wonderful and inventive lo-fi effects, we get axes in heads, hearts pulled out of gapping bloody chests, an impressive face on the hob melt, loads of throat slits, stabbings a plenty, limbs/ heads looped off, and most impressive a chopped in half scarecrow who pulls himself back together. The acting is of course fairly amateur, but there’s so much charm/ passion too, and the two brothers do great jobs on their acting, as does the pairs early collaborator Todd Smith. All of the super 8 films are full of youthful charm, and of the four I’d say the scarecrow ones are the most rewarding, in story/ creature invention, though the other two are none too shabby either. I’d say you’d have to have seen one or two of the Polonia bros films already to truly have the film click with you, but as a collection of early super 8 films from teen buddies, it’s most impressive too

The DVD here is region free. The warp around footage looks good low budget 2000’s fare, and of course, the super 8 is very mixed in quality, but you'd expect this.  The commentary track from Mark Polonia is as always great and most entertaining, and boy he has a wonderful memory- recalling so many details from the filming of the super 8’s, as well as of course the wrap around. He moves from talking about precise dates on when each was filmed, discusses camera used, effects set up, and amusing stories connected to the films making. He talks about influences, locations, budgets and much, much more. I’ve always enjoyed his tracks, and this is another wonderful down to earth and passionate track from Mark- which is a must-play. We get a nearing six minutes making of, with great pictures of the guys' onset in the early ’80s. Lastly, we get a good selection of SRS trailers, including of course a few Polonia titles.

In finishing as a big fan of the Polonia bros films, it’s wonderful to see these early super 8 films- and all in all Death Reel was a hell of a lot of gory ‘n’ lo-fi horror fun, with the whole thing ribbed with so much charm and spirit. Of course, if you’re a Polonia bros fan this is a must-go-and-buy now, but also if you enjoy creative-yet-wonky ultra zero budget 80’s horror, it’s a must too.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

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