Def by Temptation Blu Ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)
Def by Temptation is a 1990 horror film written, produced, & directed by actor James Bond III (The Red Hand Gang, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, & School Daze). Ernest R. Dickerson (Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, & Tales from the Darkside) was the cinematographer for the project. It was produced by Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger franchise, Class of Nuke Em High franchise, Mother’s Day, & Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.), Michael Herz (Blood Hook, Tromeo and Juliet, Terror Firmer, & Poultrygeist), & Nelson George (Strictly Business, CB4, The Chris Rock Show, & American Gangster). It was distributed by Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment & Troma Entertainment who also handled the home video releases.
Def by Temptation takes place in New York City. It’s about two childhood friends Joel (played by: director James Bond III) & K (played by: Kadeem Hardison from Rappin’, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, A Different World, & Vampire in Brooklyn) that reconnect after changing their lives after growing up. Both were very religious back then, Joel is training to be a minister like his late father Garth (played by: Samuel L. Jackson from Goodfellas, Juice, Fresh, & Menace II Society) & K abandoned that part of his life then became an actor. Joel wants to get away from this overbearing grandma (played by: Minnie Gentry from Bad Lieutenant, Black Caesar, Come Back Charleston Blue, & The Brother from Another Planet) so he takes a trip to visit his old friend & cousin K. K meets a new woman at a local bar & thinks there’s some real potential there. He brings Joel to meet her but she doesn’t remember him & now she’s only interested in Joel. The Temptress (played by: Cynthia Bond from Higher Education) has been taking random men home & they are never seen again! Local barfly Dougy (played by: Bill Nunn from Spider-Man trilogy, Do the Right Thing, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, & Bulletproof) tries to warn everyone about the weird woman but no one ever listens to him. Can the two friends keep their friendship together long enough to survive this pure evil????
Def by Temptation kinda brought back Urban Horror when no one else was doing it & seemed to forget about the sub genre. It was the first time a blaxploitation & horror hybrid was made in a long time. It was a unique twist on the vampire story which was starting to get tired & cliche at the time. James Bond III really invested himself into everything on this production & kept busy with his variety of jobs for it. It had a killer visual style thanks to legendary cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson. The soundtrack was a great fit for the feature & it boosted the quality. It had a solid supporting cast of actors which included an early performance from superstar Samuel L. Jackson. The script had a nice flow to it & the lines were genuine, never sounded fake or forced. It’s definitely one of the best Troma Entertainment productions when it comes to overall quality. It also had enough gore to satisfy any true horror lover, I was impressed by the special effects considering it’s low budget. This was very entertaining & I personally think it’s under-rated, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Vinegar Syndrome! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is from a 2K restoration from the 35mm original camera negative. It’s a major improvement from all the previous home video releases, it blows them away! If Ernest R. Dickerson shoots a film then it always holds up, Def by Temptation looks awesome. Vinegar Syndrome proves once again that they are the best when it comes to restorations. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is a huge upgrade from before, The soundtrack stands out the most here & it’s still memorable after all this time. It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Vinegar Syndrome on this new blu ray release! It has an “Audio Interview” with actor/writer/producer/director James Bond III with Vinegar Syndrome’s own Joe Rubin. It basically plays out like an audio commentary it’s more about his career at first than the actual film but he has lots of info about the feature later on. He talks about how he got into acting. He brings up some projects that he worked on over the years. He chats about working in the industry as a child & what his family thought about it. He brings up some of his favorite directors he worked with & some influences. He talks about when he first met Spike Lee & that he got offered a role for School Daze. He tells where he got the concept & inspiration for Def by Temptation. He says he starred & acted in the feature for budget reasons. He mentions the cast & putting together the project. He brings up the struggles of funding for this. He talks about directing himself for the film. He chats about the visual style & working with cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson. He goes into detail about the editing process for the production. He brings up the music & soundtrack. He says Troma got involved with the project late. They helped fund some additional scenes & Lloyd Kaufman did the cinematography for them. He mentions he was offered all kinds of horror sequels after this.
He tells us what he’s been doing since this feature. “Ernest & Lloyd” is a 20 minute conversation between cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson & producer Lloyd Kaufman about the feature. They chat about how the project got started. Ernest talks about all the work he did before this. He says he handled all kinds of tasks on this film. He brings up the influence on this to his style on Do the Right Thing which he shot soon after this was finished. He mentions some movies that influenced him for this. Lloyd Kaufman chats about his involvement on the feature. He says he was nervous to take over as cinematographer for the additional scenes. They bring up that it did good in theaters & got good reviews but video stores didn’t want to carry it. They mention that they used Laurence Fishburne’s house for a location. Ernest tells a funny story about buying equipment back for the production after it was stolen. The 2 minute “On Def by Temptation” features film historian & critic Michael Gingold. He shows his appreciate for the feature. He says it’s the first horror & blaxploitation in a long time. He brings up that it was one of the first things he wrote about with Fangoria. It has a few things for promotional material which include “Archival Article Gallery” & the original “Theatrical Trailer”. It has reversible cover artwork & a DVD copy of the release. A limited edition slipcover version is available at the Vinegar Syndrome store. This retail release is available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!