The Grindhouse Double Shock Show: The Brain Machine/Astral Fiend [DVD]

Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's film Grindhouse may not have done especially well at the box office, but it did introduce the word "Grindhouse" to a new generation of movie fans, and this double feature disc from Alpha Home Entertainment offers two mid-Seventies sci-fi thrillers that reflect the more benign end of the 70's exploitation spectrum. Both The Brain Machine (aka Mind Warp and Grey Matter) and The Astral Fiend (aka Invisible Strangler and The Astral Factor) have both been transferred to disc in the full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The prints used as source materials have clearly seen better days, and the slightly muddy resolution and washed-out color suggests these discs were prepared using older video masters rather than creating new transfers from film elements. The audio for both movies has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, though the mixes are stubbornly monophonic throughout; the sound quality is good enough, but nothing out of the ordinary. The dialogue for both features is in English, with no subtitles or multiple language options included. As a bonus, this disc includes trailers for fifteen other titles available from Alpha, most recent shot-on-video projects though some vintage Ted V. Mikels previews also make the cut. Given the less than impressive quality of both the movies and the disc presentation, this is only recommended to die-hard fans of Seventies sci-fi, though at very least it's budget priced so it won't break anyone's budget.
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Synopsis

Invisible Strangler
Invisible Strangler tells the story of a boy who strangles his mother and while in a mental institution finds books which give him the key to making himself invisible. He then escapes from the hospital and goes on a murder spree, strangling his mother's friends in a series of unintentionally hilarious episodes, while they sit in their comfortable, expensive homes. The detective assigned to the case, Lt. Charles Barrett (Robert Foxworth) devises an unusual way to dispose of the killer. Sue Lyon, previously seen in Lolita, has a tiny role, as does Elke Somer. Originally shot in 1976 and titled The Astral Factor, this silly, obvious film sat on the shelf for 10 years before being released directly to video ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

Mind Warp
Exploitation veteran Joy N. Houck, Jr. directed this confusing Mississippi-lensed science-fiction thriller. Gil Peterson and Barbara Burgess star as doctors working at a secret, government-funded underground laboratory. Paid volunteers are broken down mentally in a sadistic series of experiments which include shock treatment and psychological torture. Cult favorite Stuart Lancaster appears as a scheming senator, and a young Gerald McRaney, Anne Latham, and James Best are among the victims. This film is primarily of interest to cult audiences, as mainstream viewers are likely to find that the minimal production values and makeshift editing undercut any impact which the story might have. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Robert Foxworth
    Robert Foxworth - Lt. Charles Barrett
  • Stefanie Powers
    Stefanie Powers - Candy Barrett
  • Elke Sommer
    Elke Sommer - Chris
  • Sue Lyon
    Sue Lyon - Miss DeLong
  • Leslie Parrish
    Leslie Parrish - Coleen Hudson

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