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There's Nothing Out There Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Vinegar Syndrome

Theres Nothing Out There Blu Ray Poster

Written and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky
1991, 91 minutes, Not Rated
Released on January 29th, 2019

Starring:
Craig Peck as Mike
Bonnie Bowers as Stacy
John Carhart as Nick
Wendy Bednarz as Doreen
Mark Collver as Jim
Claudia Flores as Janet
Jeff Dachis as David
Lisa Grant as Sally Foster

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Review:

Seven high school friends are celebrating spring break by going to a lake house to party and have lots of sex. The group consists of a nerd, a jock, and an effeminate leader, as well as their attractive female counterparts. Flying solo on this vacation is Mike, the cinephile obsessed with horror films who recognizes that his friends are behaving like a group of stereotypes in a bad movie.

When they pass an accident scene, Mike points to the emergency workers and advises his friends that this should be viewed as “a warning”. He also notices the potential for slasher mayhem in the isolated location of the house, the poor wisdom behind investigating a strange noise, and the desire to split up and have pre-marital sex. While his friends regret the decision to bring him along for the weekend, it turns out that Mike is actually correct and that his knowledge of the genre will help their odds of survival when the house comes under attack.

Originally set out to riff on slasher movies, There’s Nothing Out There quickly reveals itself as a ‘50s monster movie when the fiend is displayed surprisingly early in the film. The beasty is an alien the size of a small dog that can shoot lasers from its eyes and also has mind-controlling abilities. The creature is on a mission of salacious intent, as all of the guys are potential victims and the women are to be used for reproductive purposes.

Writer/ director Rolfe Kanefsky (The Hazing) pokes fun at the clichés that plague the majority of modern horror movies while respecting the genre that has returned from the dead more times than the average film geek can count. Kanefsky’s beef is not with horror, but with the lazy trappings that burden the genre. Speaking through the character of Mike, the director is able to point out the tired traditions of splitting up during a crisis and unmotivated skinny dipping. The pathetic attempts by many filmmakers to create a jump scare by resorting to off-camera cat tossing receives the best riffing, as this gimmick has plagued horror movies for several decades.

One convention the director does embrace is the notion that the female characters should be naked as frequently as possible. There is a surprising amount of nudity in this film and although every actress appears naked at least once, the producers felt there wasn’t enough flesh, so an additional group of anonymous characters were written in long enough to go skinny dipping before driving away unharmed.

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The micro-budget film was shot on Super 16mm film and blown up to 35mm for its limited theatrical run. Director Rolfe Kanefsky pulls out all of the stops with some truly inspired camera work - including a generous amount of Steadicam and crane shots and clever transitions. The film still carries a low-budget vibe that it can’t quite shake, but it reaches for several high-dollar set pieces to belie the financial limitations.

Not every performance is a home run, but the cast is generally strong. Craig Peck is given the difficult task of playing Mike, a likeable know-it-all, and manages to succeed more often than not at carrying the bulk of the comedy. Mark Collver and Wendy Bednarz are great as the insatiable couple, Jim and Doreen, and meet the physical demands of their characters with enthusiastic sincerity. Bonnie Bowers (Stacy) is a strong female lead, but despite being a real-life bikini model, she comes off stiff and uncomfortable when running around in a swimsuit during the finale.

The film has garnered a cult following on home video when many reviewers cited the similarities of Randy, the character who shares the rules of surviving a horror movie in Wes Craven’s Scream, with There’s Nothing Out There’ s Mike. Kanefsky takes the high road when discussing this issue and appears grateful for the attention.

The following decades have found the director bouncing between horror and comedy, constantly cranking out quality product in both genres. This was his first effort and is a time capsule for the slasher films of the 1980s, and although it’s uneven, it’s still a lot of fun and should be watched with a group of friends.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio and featuring a spiffy new 2K restoration of the original film elements, the movie takes on a new life with vibrant colors and bottomless black levels. The picture is much sharper than previous releases, revealing lots of small-object detail in hair and fibers.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 track preserves the original stereo recording and gets the job done with ease. Dialogue levels are well-balanced with music and sound effects, remaining clear and free from distortion.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

Every ten years or so There’s Nothing Out There gets re-released on home video, usually receiving the special edition treatment. Vinegar Syndrome has collected all previous supplements and adds a few new ones for the film’s Blu-ray debut.

Kicking things off are four (!) audio commentaries, two newly recorded for this release and two vintage holdovers. The first track, recorded in 2018, features Rolfe Kanefsky joined with fellow filmmakers and fans Joe Hill (Wrong Turn II) and Jeff Reddick (Final Destination). There is a lot of camaraderie among these guys and everyone seems happy to be here. This is a fast-moving discussion and there is a lot of entertaining information shared. Don’t miss it, as this is a good one.

The second commentary comes courtesy of the podcast The Hysteria Continues. Two of the guys are new to this movie and provide a fresh perspective on the material while the others are longtime fans. They provide plenty of background and behind-the-scenes stories from the set and keep things moving at a brisk pace.

A vintage commentary features the director with members of the cast and crew (taken from the Image DVD 10th anniversary release) discussing the history of the production and where everybody is ten years later.

Kanefsky recorded a solo track for the 20th anniversary DVD release from Troma, filling in the gaps from the previous session and revealing the outline for a long-awaited sequel to the film. There is a bit of repetition on this track, but the information is worth revisiting.

There’s a Movie Out There (52 minutes) is an interview/conversation recorded in 2018 between Rolfe Kanefsky and his father Victor, who served as editor and executive producer on the film, reflecting on the young director’s life and career. Rolfe keeps the segment moving with many colorful anecdotes with his father chiming in with some parental framing.

Victor Kanefsky is interviewed by friend and filmmaker C. Courtney Joyner (Prison) for the segment 40 Years of Cutting (31 minutes). They talk about his getting into editing via commercials and documentaries before moving into narrative features. Highlights of his career include cutting Bloodsucking Freaks and Ganja & Hess, both of which receive some nice coverage here. The discussion moves on to working with his son on There’s Nothing Out There and how he eventually got into directing the recent documentary Art Bastard.

Actor Craig Peck (Mike) is interviewed (18 minutes) in which he reflects on his longtime friendship with Rolfe Kanefsky and how he bombed his initial audition before being invited back to replace another actor. He shares some stories from the shoot and has nothing but kind words to say.

The short film Copycat (9 minutes) uses a series of horror movie clips highlighting the similarities between Scream and There’s Nothing Out There. It’s an interesting piece and features audio from the director’s interview with Kanefsky.

Murder in Winter (111 minutes) is an early feature from Kanefsky that he shot as his senior project in high school.

Carried over from the earlier releases are additional supplements, all presented with optional director’s commentary, including:

• Original Cast Auditions
• Pre-Production Footage and Video Storyboards
• Behind the Scenes Rehearsal Footage
• Animation Test Footage and Deleted Shots
• Music Video
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Production Stills Gallery
Just Listen short film
Mood Boobs short film

The 20th anniversary interview with Kanefsky runs 36 minutes and is informative and entertaining, as he is able to convey a lot of information in a relatively short time.

Twelve minutes of assorted shot-on-video material follows in the “Original Cast Auditions” featurette. It is surprisingly humorous and a fun time-capsule piece.

“Pre-Production Footage and Video Storyboards” (7 minutes) reveals the amount of prep that went into the making of the film.

“Behind the Scenes Rehearsal Footage” is a 10-minute piece that shows the hard work and levity on set.

“Animation Test Footage and Deleted Shots” runs about three minutes and gives a look at the opening titles design and scenes that didn’t make the final cut.

The original trailer is joined by a 4-minute gallery of production stills and each includes a commentary.

Rounding out the supplements are two short films, both featuring director introductions. First is the early student project Just Listen (14 minutes) that appears in the background of the opening sequence of There’s Nothing Out There, and is included here in its entirety (minus the copyrighted music from Foul Play that originally played throughout the piece.)

Finally, we get the bizarre comedy Mood Boobs (20 minutes) about a woman who finds that her breast size changes according to her emotional state. The piece was an internet success and features genre fave Tiffany Shepis (Thirsty). This short film receives its own featurette in a 16-minute behind-the-scenes compilation.

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Grades:

Movie: Threeandahalfstars Theres Nothing Out There Blu Ray Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Fivestars
Overall: Fourstars

 

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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