Star Time Blu Ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)
Star Time is a 1992 horror film written, directed, & produced by Alexander Cassini (The Incredible Genie, Law & Order: SVU, Black Scorpion TV series, & Deadline). It opened at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 1992. It also screened at several other film festivals including the 1992 Houston International Film Festival, the 1992 AFI Fest, the 1993 Brussels Festival of Fantasy, & Thriller and Science Fiction Films. Northern Arts had acquired domestic rights. It had problems with distribution it ended up shelved & collecting dust for about 13 months. It eventfully got a VHS release from Monarch Home Video in very late 1998. Believe it or not, Star Time NEVER got an official DVD release in the United States so it’s been 20 years since this obscure serial killer film got a home video release here thanks to Vinegar Syndrome!!!!
The film opens with Sam Bones (played by: John P. Ryan from It’s Alive, It Lives Again, Class of 1999, & Death Wish 4) on various TV screens saying “be a winner” & talking about life as a lottery. Henry Pinkle (played by: Michael St. Gerard from Hairspray, Great Balls of Fire!, Elvis TV series, & Into the Sun) seems confused & he’s walking around the night like he’s looking for something. It’s like someone else is inside his head. Henry is obsessed with television. It consumes his every moment in life. His favorite show “The Robertson Family” has been cancelled & he doesn’t want to be here anymore. He’s losing his grip on reality & about to kill himself until Sam shows up. The mysterious man convinces him to not do it. He says he’s in show business & Henry could be in show business also. He’s always wanted to be on TV so he starts to think about it more after the offer. He starts talking to social worker friend Wendy (played by: Maureen Teefy from Supergirl, Fame, & Grease 2) about his problems. The way he describes the Robertsons, she thinks they are real people in his life until he says their only fictional characters on television . Henry runs into Sam, he wastes no time to manipulate him & convinces him to do things for him. Wendy gets a video from Henry saying he’s going to commit suicide.
She was going to let someone else take over for her with him. Sam takes Henry to a building where he sees stars & it gives him hope for the future. A naked woman on various TV screens talks to him & starts to corrupt his feeble mind. Riding around with Sam, he is told he needs a “persona” to make it. So Henry puts on a baby face mask to him more character. He gives him an axe & sends him off to a path of destruction! He can’t bring himself to do it at first until Sam belittles him to the point he wants to try again. He starts to imagine himself as a TV star on a game show for motivation to perform this crazy request. He starts to see his work talked about on the news. That glimpse of fame ignites his passion to be on the small screen. It’s only been a month & his body count keeps rising. The newly inspired Henry visits Wendy. She thought he was dead so she was surprised & angry that she was never updated about it. She was worried & upset for no reason so it really bothered her. She investigates & goes to meet Sam’s new friend to find the place is empty. She confronts Henry about Sam not being real & only being his “imaginary friend”. He warns her Sam is up to no good & she should stay away. This dangerous triangle leads to a chaotic confrontation & finale. Henry Pinkle is FINALLY on TV!!!!
Star Time shows you the social commentary on the influence of television & fame. This hidden gem is very unknown to most so it’s great to see Vinegar Syndrome bring this film back to life after all these years. I know there’s been a little debate if you can consider this a slasher film or not but personally I think it qualifies in that sub genre in an art house vibe. It’s a mix you usually don’t see in cinema. It’s a small character study that only focuses on a few people. John P. Ryan hams it up as Sam Bones in a over the top performance. He is truly the highlight of this film & keeps you very entertained the whole time. Star Time is more psychological than psychical. So don’t go into this expecting gallons of blood & gruesome visuals. It still has a few nice moments to satisfy fans of gore despite the kills being off screen. Director Alexander Cassini & Cinematographer Fernando Argüelles (Intruder, Mind Ripper, Hidden Assassin, & Prison Break) provide you with a unique vision in a genre that usually looks the same from film to film.
Before writing this review, I checked out the VHS version for comparison with this brand new transfer restored from an original camera negative & it’s also presented in it’s never before seen home video original director’s cut. It features the original credit sequence. It looks like a completely different film compared to the older release. Everything pops out on the screen & it’s more detailed now than ever before in this high definition presentation. Let’s be honest, when it comes to the best quality & restoration Vinegar Syndrome is hands down the leader in that category. Every little film gets the exact same treatment from them & I have never been disappointed in anything I own from them. The audio is much clearer than the previous version also. For fans that know this film, it will be like seeing & hearing it for the first time!!!!
Let’s talk about the special features on this blu ray release from Vinegar Syndrome! You get an “Audio Commentary” moderated by Vinegar Syndrome’s own Joe Ruben with the writer, producer, & director Alexander Cassini. “Shooting Star Time” is a 31 minute interview with Cinematographer Fernando Argüelles. “The Great Performance” is a 5 minute short film directed by Alexander Cassini which also features Star Time co-star Maureen Teefy. Last but not least you get the HD theatrical trailer for Star Time. Vinegar Syndrome also includes reversible artwork of the original & a DVD copy of this release. It’s available everywhere, check it out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!