DIS
 

DIS

What you sow, you shall reap...

 
In Memory Of
 

In Memory Of

 
Celebrating ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ with Stephen Nemeth
 

Celebrating ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ with Stephen Nemeth

 

DVD Review: THE REDSIN TOWER Possession Edition

In 2006, Fred Vogel and TOETAG Pictures, the crew that found stardom in the underground horror arena with AUGUST UNDERGROUND and AUGUST UNDERGROUND’S MORDUM, looked to give horror fans a new film that differentiated from the serial killer found footage genre. The result of that effort would be THE REDSIN TOWER, an original low budget film blending elements of the slasher and demonic possession subgenres of horror with state-of-the-art gore effects and the nudity and sex elements that usually go hand in hand with that in genre films. The film would enjoy a Pittsburgh theatrical premiere along with a successful Cinema Wasteland screening in 2006. For fans of TOETAG’s work who wanted to know when they could get the film on DVD, they patiently waited while Fred and the crew looked for a distribution deal that would work best. After receiving distribution offers, but having to ultimately turn them down due to distributor policies that would have required them to cut and alter certain scenes, TOETAG decided to forego a distributor and release the film themselves.

It wasn’t until October 2007 when the first DVD release of THE REDSIN TOWER from TOETAG themselves made its premiere. Having had success with self-distributing the AUGUST UNDERGROUND films on DVD, TOETAG decided the do-it-yourself distribution model was the best way to do business with their films. The first DVD edition of THE REDSIN TOWER contained some decent extras including an audio commentary with Fred and the crew, an introduction piece, a behind-the-scenes featurette where make-up effects maestro Jerami Cruise discusses the creation of the bloody death scene of the character Becky, trailers, and a still photo gallery. The DVD sold well from 2007 until 2010 when it officially went out of print. In that small amount of time when the DVD was available, the film developed a good cult status among fans of underground horror. In the years right after the DVD was discontinued, fans who were just getting into TOETAG’s work and enjoying films like the AUGUST UNDERGROUND trilogy, MURDER COLLECTION V.1, MASKHEAD, and SELLA TURCICA wanted to know when a second pressing of REDSIN would be available. A demand for the film grew among fans who had collected all of TOETAG’s previous releases and needed it to complete their collections. The film sort of became the “lost TOETAG film” for an amount of time as the out-of-print REDSIN DVD became increasingly hard to get ahold of and started to fetch insanely high prices on eBay and Amazon.com. Fans wanted to know when a re-release would happen. In late 2012, Massacre Video, the gore and exploitation film DVD and VHS label run by Louis Justin, announced that they were doing a small VHS run of THE REDSIN TOWER along with a limited VHS collector’s set of the AUGUST UNDERGROUND trilogy. Fans who were wanting to see the film finally had a chance to see it. This small VHS run however wasn’t really the re-release the film needed to get out there to fans on a wide scale since many didn’t have VCRs to play the VHS and it was ultimately something best suited to die-hard collectors of the VHS format.

In 2013 and 2014, Fred and TOETAG finally started talking about their plans for the re-release of REDSIN on DVD. Fred assured fans that TOETAG was determined to make the DVD the ultimate, definitive collector’s edition for fans of underground horror. In late 2014, the time for pre-orders for the new “Possession Edition” of THE REDSIN TOWER were finally announced. How big a special edition would it be, you may ask? Well, TOETAG pulled out all the stops, they tracked down as much of the cast and crew as they could for the extra features. They spent time putting together a feature length documentary. It was soon revealed that we would be getting a whopping 5-disc set for this special edition release! “5 discs?” I thought. The last 5-disc special edition that came to mind was Subversive Cinema’s 5-disc limited edition of Richard Stanley’s DUST DEVIL The Final Cut. That was an amazing release. I thought if TOETAG can pull off a release with that level of professionalism, it can be a real game changer for most indie labels to come!

The DVD release party took place in December of 2014 near Christmas time. It was at the Hollywood Theater in the Dormont area of Pittsburgh. The fine folks of Pittsburgh’s Horror Realm convention helped make this event happen. There was a screening of the new re-mastered edition of the movie, followed by a screening of the 2 and a half hour documentary “Possessed: The Making of The Redsin Tower.” It was an amazing event with Fred and Shelby Vogel and cast members Jessica Kennedy, Megan O’Halloran, and Peter Schmidt present along with set designer Athena Prychodko. A Q&A session with the cast, raffle contests with giveaways of various underground films and other goodies, and the serving of a REDSIN “Possession Edition” cake occurred after the screenings. The event welcomed REDSIN back with a vengeance!

With that amazing event ringing in REDSIN’s return to DVD, it’s about time we take a look at this incredible 5-disc release. The first disc presents the re-mastered version of the movie. REDSIN looks better than ever as details that were somewhat hard to see in the original release can now be viewed with a much better clarity. Included are two informative commentaries, one with Fred and the TOETAG crew and the other with cast members Perry Tiberio, Bethany Newell, Megan O’Halloran, and Peter Schmidt. The cast commentary is an especially fun listen. Perry, Bethany, Megan, and Pete have fun reminiscing about their experiences on set. Also included on the first disc is a featurette where Fred, Shelby, and Perry visit the location of the “Tower” itself, which is the Lamberts Castle in Paterson, New Jersey. The interior shots were all done at a studio in Pittsburgh and as a result, the inside of the Castle looks much different than what is seen in the movie. Fred certainly has fond memories of the place and the Jersey location which is not far from where he lived growing up. Rounding out disc one are several deleted scenes and an alternate ending along with REDSIN trailers. Disc two contains the aforementioned documentary, “Possessed.” This 2 and a half hour documentary is perhaps the most detailed and extensive look at the making of a low budget movie I have ever seen! Through interviews with Fred, Shelby, the cast, and several members of the crew (including effects artist Jerami Cruise), we learn about the efforts, skill and techniques needed to bring a low budget horror film to life. We also learn about the hardships that come along and the creativity that’s needed when there are setbacks during filming or when certain accommodations need to be made to help your actors as a filmmaker. We learn about the make-up effects techniques through behind-the-scenes footage with Jerami Cruise and he gives detail on the tricks of trade and the down and dirty artistry required to make some of the most spectacularly gruesome death scenes and creature effects. We also get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the casting process with studio audition footage. This is particularly funny when we see and learn about an incident during an audition in which an actor accidentally damaged a wall in the studio when he was acting out a scene in the script. Near the documentary’s conclusion, we see footage from the film’s Pittsburgh and Cinema Wasteland premieres and learn about the original pressing of the DVD which according to Shelby was only 1500 copies and learn the reason why a second pressing was never done from Jerami, the reason being that the picture quality wasn’t quite up to what TOETAG originally had in mind, mainly with certain scenes being too dark, something that is now corrected on the “Possession Edition.” Also included on disc two are trailers for other TOETAG releases. Over the course of the other three discs, we get a seemingly endless selection of behind-the-scenes featurettes, focusing on the different effects sequences in the film and much more. You will also find a few hidden “Easter Eggs” on these discs if you’re clever enough.

A beautiful presentation, two entertaining commentaries, an incredible feature length documentary, and more featurettes than you can shake a bloody hatchet at, THE REDSIN TOWER 5-Disc “Possession Edition” is easily THE best release of an underground movie I’ve ever seen and quite possibly the best DVD release of 2014! Get your butt over to TOETAG’s site at www.toetag.biz and order your copy today!

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