Rabid Grannies (1988)

Rabid Grannies (1988)

When Troma released Emanuel Kervyn's crazy low budget schlocker 'Rabid Grannies' on DVD in the US they made one big fundamental mistake - the print used omitted any of the films lip-smacking gore (though they did include rough cuts of the gore as bonus 'deleted' scenes backed by a cheesy retro rock soundtrack!) A great shame and a missed opportunity all round as I'd always believed that the scenes of bloody mayhem were an integral piece of a low budget shocker like this. So when Japan Shock announced it was scheduled to be the debut release from their new 'European Shock' label, my hopes (at least) where very high, that was until I heard that it was going to be a Troma licensed release - surely not another pressing of the disappointing cut version? Thankfully no!

But I'm jumping ahead here, first the film itself...this late eighties Belgian opus is (as ever with low budget horrors) thin on plotline but not in delivery. The film concerns a pair of sweet old ladies who are organising a family dinner party for their ensembled relatives. These relatives however are all gold diggers that gather each year for their dear Auntie's (not grannies as the title implies, but then would Rabid Aunties grab you so well?!) dinners purely to keep themselves in the running for a slice of their inheritance when the poor old dears die. The first section of the film nicely builds up the venomous family spirit of each of the kin folk, then the film really kicks into gear when the Auntie's get a surprise present from their uninvited 'black sheep of the family' nephew (and practising satanist!) - a box that unleashes an evil power that possesses the old darlings and changes them into flesh eating demon grannies!!

It's the old hide and seek (or run or be killed) scenario that is the basis for the rest of the films running time and whilst many low budget films fall flat on their face with this scenario Kervyn comes up trumps with a great fun (and bloody as hell) underrated corker! The influence of the first 'Evil Dead' flick shows significant influence here with at times a very similar feel in Kervyn's direction and the general atmosphere of black comedic horror, though 'Grannies' is indeed a far more light-hearted excursion into the genre. The acting mostly is wooden and camp as hell with hilariously cheesy stereotypical regional English dubbing, but this only adds to the fun atmosphere that the film has as a whole. The possessed grannies/aunts look great and the gore effects are very impressive throughout with many moments that will bring a grin to most gore fans faces.

Now how about the disc? The folk at Euro Shock must have had a hell of a time deciding on making the judgement call they were forced to make - licensed from Troma US they would likely been given access to Troma's gore-lacking print, but Euro Shock knew that this wouldn't have been a welcome move for the films fans. So, following a hunt around for a fully uncut print the only master found was an master for the Dutch video release - the problem here being that the video master contained Dutch subtitles burned onto the print. So, cut or uncut? Thankfully, they made what I think to be the right decision and release the uncut Dutch version which fair enough contains burnt on subtitles but at least now is presented on DVD fully uncut (with English audio) and in the correct ratio (comparisons between the Troma and Euro Shock discs shows that there is significant image/ratio cropping on the Troma disc). The print on show is pretty solid all things considered though the audio is slightly off key at times, but hey the films audio was never perfect (even at theatrical screenings).

Some of the extras from the Troma US release have also made it onto the Euro Shock version - there's the welcome interview/behind the scenes segment, Troma's own granny interview, stills gallery and theatrical trailer. The only relevant thing that hasn't been ported over from the Troma extras is the audio commentary with director Kervyn (which would have been pretty pointless anyway as on the Troma disc he rightly rants about why he can't understand why all the gore is missing!) What you do get on the new Euro Shock release though is a second bonus DVD containing the wacky fun short film 'Staplerfahrer Klaus' (which I reckon translates as Forklift Driver Klaus!) What this film seems to be is one of those educational shorts about the health and safety do's and don'ts of driving and operating a forklift truck in the workplace. We follow keen new boy Klaus as he eagerly goes about his business, but each job he does in his forklift truck leads to a tragic accident and with each incident they become progressively more chaotic and violent. 'Staplerfahrer Klaus' is most definitely one of the funniest and shockingly gory films I've seen in quite some time. Two things here that pleased me most - firstly I haven't laughed so openly in ages (so much so that I wiped a tear or three from my eyes I laughed so hard), secondly the whole delivery was just perfect - the pacing was great, the film was wickedly humorous with an excellent script and a delivery that perfectly ripped into the whole educational short theme and the gore effects were a very welcome addition making a (very) bloody bonus to the feature. In fact the only disappointing thing about this excellent little movie is the fact that it's all over far too soon - ten minutes of pure joy and essential viewing for any genre fan worth their salt!

So whilst Troma US had packaging on their disc claiming that the film 'copiously delivers in the gore and upchuck department' even though it didn't, European Shock's new release truly does with a fine fully uncut version (and about time too!) and the excellent addition of the stunning short film 'Staplerfahrer Klaus'. Grab some beers and get your laughing gear around this fun bloody schlocker - an excellent package from 'European Shock' - buy it now!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by European Shock DVD Entertainment
Classified 16 - Region 0 (PAL)
Running time - 88m
Ratio - Widescreen 1.66
Audio - Dolby digital mono
Extras :
Theatrical trailer, Interview with James Desert, Interview with a Rabid Granny + bonus DVD featurette "Staplerfahrer Klaus"

2001, Icon In Black Media