Vinegar Syndrome Brings an Under-Loved Ghost Story and More to Blu-ray

'Dominique' is March's best new Vinegar Syndrome release, but don't discount 'The Suckling' prematurely.

Header The Suckling

Vinegar Syndrome’s March releases include a ghostly tale of revenge, a creature feature about a homesick abortion, a softcore thriller from the early 90s, and a bleakly depressing adult film from Andy Milligan. Keep reading for a look at this month’s family-friendly releases!


Dominique (1978)

DominiqueDavid Ballard (Cliff Robertson) is a wealthy man and something of an asshole. His latest hobby involves gas-lighting his wife Dominique (Jean Simmons) into believing she’s going senile on way to losing her mind, and his efforts lead to tragedy when she takes her own life. Well, tragedy for her but a happy day for him. Happy, that is, until Dominique returns. Suddenly David is confused and stuck between terror and suspicion — is this an elaborate ruse, or has his wife actually returned from the dead?

There’s a familiar thread running through Dominique, but while other films have tread a similar narrative few have done it as well. Director Michael Anderson does fantastic work crafting atmosphere in and around the couple’s near gothic mansion, and suspense builds as viewers are kept equally in the dark as to the mysterious truth. The tale holds your attention and keeps you guessing through to its final frames. Robertson previously tackled the dead wife returns conundrum in Brian De Palma’s Obsession (1976), but this time, rather than wanting to fuck his boomerang wife he wants to kill her again. Add in a young Jenny Agutter, attractive cinematography, and a solid ending and you have a lesser known gem getting the Blu-ray treatment it deserves.

Vinegar Syndrome’s new release is newly scanned and restored in 2K from its 35mm negative, and it looks fantastic. The disc includes a trailer and the following:

  • Audio interview with actor Michael Jayston [14:54]
  • Audio interview with assistant director Brian Cook [24:06]

The Suckling (1989)

The SucklingSex sometimes results in pregnancy. It’s true, and for one young woman that unintended consequence leads her to Big Mama’s abortion clinic. Things go sideways, though, when her fetus is flushed and splashed with toxic waste causing it to grow to adult size with sharp teeth and even sharper claws. Soon the creature has locked down the ramshackle building trapping prostitutes, johns, and more inside. They won’t be trapped for long, but that’s mostly because they’ll soon be dead.

My love of creature features and monster movies means I’m incapable of disliking any such flick using practical effects to bring their beast to life, but some test my will all the same. This late 80s effort starts rough with its cheapie feel and rough acting, but the practical f/x quickly win you over as the fetus becomes a full-fledged monster. It’s goofy and gangly, but it’s also good fun. We’re told in the very beginning that everyone but the young mother is killed so this isn’t a horror movie built on suspense. It’s instead one built on goo, blood, boobs, and a desire to offend, but all of that said there’s still something sweet about its old-school charm.

Vinegar’s new release offers an image that’s newly scanned and restored in 2K from its 16mm original camera negative,and while you’d be hard-pressed to say it’s an attractive film it definitely looks better than any previous release. The disc includes an archival image gallery and the following:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Fetus: An interview with actor Michael Gingold [13:04] – Gingold is best known as a writer/editor with bylines at Fangoria magazine, but he has a good time recalling his time spent inside the monster suit playing the title creature here.
  • Video interview with director Francis Teri [12:02]

In the Cold of the Night (1990)

In The ColdScott Bruin is a successful fashion photographer living the good life on the coast of California, but his series of one night stands hits a road block when he starts dreaming about a woman he’s never met. She’s alone, frequently naked, and always meets her death at his hands. His search for answers leads not only to the real-life woman but also to a devious conspiracy that he may not be able to escape.

As far as late-night Skinemax fare goes — the kind blending plentiful T&A with paper-thin thriller plots — this is one of the more ridiculous. It’s a straightforward and flesh-filled tale for most of its running time, but as Scott’s investigation proceeds the revelations build to a gleefully silly and nonsensical exposition dump. I’m still not sure I fully understand the motivations at play here, but director Nico Mastorakis is never a dull filmmaker making this an entertaining romp all the same. At nearly two hours it does overstay its welcome, though, as some elements are dragged out too long, but it’s a small price to pay for the softcore fun and stellar B-movie cast. Brian Thompson, David Soul, Shannon Tweed, Marc Singer, and Tippi Hedron (?) all make appearances, and Hedron is seemingly here strictly for an inexplicable gag referencing The Birds (1963). I don’t know why, but I laughed, and isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?

Vinegar’s new release is newly scanned and restored in 4K from its 35mm original camera negative, and the disc includes an image gallery and trailer as well as the following:

  • Archival behind the scenes featurette [4:24]

Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973)

FleshpotDusty is a prostitute working the streets, motel rooms, and back alleys around Times Square, but while she’s making ends (and fronts) meet it’s through actions that don’t exactly make her proud. Somewhere between the sex, abuse, and theft, though, she meets a man who might just be the key to leaving it all behind. Love is a powerful motivator, but it’s also like wearing blinders.

Andy Milligan’s gritty and bleak feature is an adult film that never tries or wants to be sexy. Like Dusty herself, the film is simply accepting its reality, and the result is a sad tale about sad people in sad situations. Fans of 70s NYC cinema and stark character dramas that frequently dabble in fornication and hairy ass shots will find this up their alley, but others might not find as much to “enjoy.” The characters are struggling in an indifferent world, and the odds that will change for them are slim making for a sometimes grim and grueling watch.

Vinegar’s new disc offers the film newly scanned and restored in 4K from its 16mm camera reversal, and while it’s undeniably cleaned up it’s still a fairly rough affair. The extras include:

  • Two different formatting options: the director’s intended 1:33:1 and the 1:85:1 theatrical framing
  • Commentary with film historians Samm Deighan, Heather Drain, and Kat Ellinger
  • Locations ‘Then and Now’ [4:01] – Curious about how much Times Square has cleaned up and gone corporate over the years? Watch this side by side comparison.

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