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Retribution - Retribution( Blu Ray/ CD) [Severin - 2021]

From the late 80s Retribution is one of the more deranged, at points quirky takes on the possession/ revenge genre. This film tells of a mild-mannered artist been possessed by the spirit of a gun downed gangster- it features a blend of day glow ghoulishness, inventive kills, and demonic wackness. Here from Severn is a truly definitive edition of this less known slice of 1980’s horror- with the three-disc set taking in a commentary track, loads of other extras, CD of the soundtrack, and a glossy thick inlay booklet.

Retribution (aka Retribution: The Ultimate Nightmare) appeared in the year 1987- it was directed/ co-written by Cario born Guy Magar. He started off his career in the year 1980 making episodes of US TV shows like The A-Team, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, and Blue Thunder. Retribution was his first feature film- going onto TV movies Dark Avenger (1990), and Stepfather 3 (1992). His next feature-length was gangster drama romance Lookin' Italian (1994), with his final TV film being straight-to-video sequel Children Of The Corn: Revelation( 2001). Retribution is well enough shot, if at points rather erratically paced/ schizo it’s tone- moving between grim drama, quirky romance/ apartment building interactions, wacky doors bursting off psychedelics/ demonic wackiness, and gleeful/ brutal horror.

The film kicks off in a dramatic-if-grim manner as we find George Miller (Dennis Lipscomb)- a mild-mannered & bespeckled painter, on the roof of the rundown apartment/ hotel block he lives in getting ready to throw himself off the roof in suicide. He jumps, but just as he hits the pavement, we get flashes of day-glow blue & green faces/ images. Next, we see George in a hospital bed recovering from his fall- with a broken leg, banged head, and troubled mind.  In the hospital, he meets kindly and flirty psych doctor Jenifer Curtis (Leslie Wing)- in time, seemingly George’s body and mind are fixed- so he’s discharged.
He makes his way back to his apartment which is situated on skid row- going up to the reception we find it’s a decidedly quirky place- as there’s a cat sat on the reception in glasses and a wig, then out pops the hotel's owner Mrs Stoller (Susan Peretz) whose buoyant/ happy go lucky & constantly wearing dress crown and curlers.  George heads up to his cobwebbed and canvas cluttered apartment- and starts having what he thinks are strange nightmares, where he’s tracked down and killing a series of people. And he asks for help from Dr Curtis, his blonde airhead hooker girlfriend Angel (Suzanne Snyder), and other quirky denizens of his apartment building.

When the nightmare/ out-of-bodies killings occurred- George’s normally quiet, shy and reserved manner is replaced by deep demonic talking, his eyes turning glowing green, windows flying open/ blow out with coloured light hazes. The killings are fairly extreme/ inventive- we have slashes your own guts kill, alive body stuffed in a big carcass then sliced open, hands torched off and face squashed, handless strangling, etc.  As we move along the film shifts between the mawkish and rather unbelievable romance between George & Angel, quirky interactions between George and the inhabitants of the hotel, hammy-at-points OTT psych sessions, and of course the day glow- to- gory attacks.

Acting-wise Lipscomb isn’t bad as the one minute geeky/quiet, next minute demonic mad man. With Snyder playing the likeable airhead girlfriend well enough, and the surrounded cast been passable too. The film, with the first cut offered up here, runs one hour and forty-eight minutes- and at points, it does slightly lag, though fairly soon you get a jarring tonal shift, and you sucked back in again. On the whole, Retribution is a decidedly deranged ride of a possession/ revenge horror film, which really don’t get made anymore.

This three-disc release really sees Severin going to town on the extras. The first Blu Ray takes in the theatrical cut of the film. Also, on the disc, we get a selection of eight on-camera interviews with the crew, cast, score composer- etc. These each run between six and twelve minutes and are mostly very worthwhile and interesting. Also on the first disc, we have BINGO: Student Short by Guy Magar With Optional Director Commentary, Trailer, Stills & Poster Gallery.  

The second Blu Ray takes in the longest Dutch cut of the film- this runs a few minutes longer than the theatrical cut. Also, on this disc we get a commentary track featuring the film’s director Guy Magar and Severin’s David Gregory- this is a nice in-depth track. With the pair discussing everything from what influenced the film- The Exorcist, and wanting to make a different take on the possession film. How the director got into filmmaking, and how he met his writing partner of the film. He talks about the film's location, shot set up, the actors. How much the picture cost to make, how certain effects were created, and much more. A very worthwhile track.

On the third disc we have the film's soundtrack which is by Alan Howarth(Big Trouble In Little China, They Live, Prince Of Darkness, Halloween 5, The Dentists). This is fourteen track CD, which I believe was originally released in this format in 2015  on Dragon's Domain Records. The score moves from the moodily bombastic “Retribution Theme” with its choppy bass synth work, hissing ‘n’ snapping electronic drums, and stabbing synth strings. Onto the sliding synth string ambient unease of “George Meets Little Vito” which later rises to piping hopefulness. There’s the jangling ‘n’ snapping guitar and beats of “The Gallery” which later goes all choral & brightly open with its key hits/ synth orchestration. We have the foreboding electro voodoo drums meets eerier bird & faint warbling voices of “Doctor Rasta” which nicely builds to disorienting heights. And the blinking key darts meets swirling synth ambience of “Street Rain” which towards the end adds in almost dissonant orchestra stabs. On the whole, it’s a rewarding score- sure there are no super memorable melodies here, but Howarth is both inventive and daring with some of the twists and turns many of the tracks take.

The release also takes in a twenty-six-page inlay booklet- this features a thicker stock colour cover. Inside we get glossy colour and black ‘n’ white pages, with a great/ interesting selection of articles including discussing the film, and its score. With the whole thing finished off with a reversible cover, and the edition we were sent a card slip sleeve.

In finishing this a wonderfully thorough and extras packed release of this most quirky and at times horror fired psychedelic take on the possession/revenge genre. With Severin really pulling out all the stops with this three-disc set, so any fan of the film will find everything they'll need or want included here.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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