I shall dub this the “Fred Olen Ray-PM Affair.” ‘Fiasco’ feels more appropriate though. I just happened to be thinking of A Christmas Story (1984) when I started writing. Before I get into the review part I want to explain how this all happened:
It happened late Monday morning, a good day for most fuck-ups and general “bad things” to occur. A week or two earlier I sent Fred a PM through his Facebook asking if I could get a review copy of his latest blu-ray, Biohazard. He said, sure, he could send me one. Cut to this Monday when it suddenly remembered a conversation I had with another reviewer about Fred and his other blu-ray of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988). I remember that person telling me he had sought out a review copy too and was told by Fred he’d send him one, but he never did. So I asked this reviewer if Fred had ever sent him that Blu. No, he told me, he never did. Now my naturally assumption based on his experience was that Fred was probably going to screw me on this Blu-ray then, so I pulled up his archived conversation and wanted to show this reviewer what he told me, because it almost felt like the same thing he had told this reviewer. I copied and pasted part of it into what I thought was this reviewer’s reply box and added, “Here’s what he told me. That bastard” and hit send. It was then that I realized I had copied and pasted it into Fred’s reply box and I had just sent him the reply meant for this reviewer.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So to make matters worse, because that’s what I seem to be really fuckin’ good at, I panicked presuming an angry reply would be forthcoming and blocked Fred. I went down street to do some errands and when I came back I found Fred had posted a photo of that PM as well as the mistaken part sent to him on both his personal and his official page.
Yeah, he was pissed and rightly so.
I know what you’re asking yourself. Are you sorry because you got caught talking shit behind someone’s back or that you called him a bastard? Honestly, I’m sorry I got caught. I’m sorry he had to read that. Let me explain… I’m sure there’s a segment that just checked out. You’ve already made up your minds about me anyway, based on the hate I read on those two threads Fred posted. I understand that. Hate me, if you want. I fucked-up and deserve it. So anything I say will not sway you. I’ve learned that about human nature. Once people make up their minds about you it’s set in stone. The more level-headed fans, I hope, are still reading. If so, I shall now explain further. If my presumption was right and Fred was indeed not planning to send me a copy then, yes, I stand by my, “that bastard” comment. If I was wrong, and God knows I’ve been wrong about many things before and this might not be any different, then, yes, I am sorry for calling him a bastard.
I am and I am not shocked by all the hate towards me. But for reasons only a mob mentality might understand, I am now presumed to have bad intentions when it comes to wanting review copies, which is farthest from the truth. I’m guessing Fred is probably thinking I was trying to shake him down or something, which also is understandable. If you’re just going by the seemingly inflammatory message I accidentally sent it might be the only conclusion to come to which is why I wanted to pen this preface and explain the motivation behind it. It was taken out of context, and I panicked when I realized my mistake.
As I said a lot of his fans, and probably Fred himself, have already made up their minds about who they think I am. Fine. I cannot change that. Think it, if you want. Continue to hate me if you want, but I want to do right by my initial intentions and review this movie. So for those who’re still reading let’s begin…
I first heard of Biohazard in Fangoria. Looking the movie up in the their index I see it was first covered in issue #34 (March ‘84). I used to have a lot of those early to mid-80s issues, but not anymore, and I wish I did. I have only a vague recollection now of coming across it in that particular issue. My next go-to memory happens when it first hit VHS; I had a buddy at the time named, Paul, who rented it and loved it. I remember him telling me about it in social studies class and just praising it to high heaven. I still can’t remember if I rented it soon after or saw it on cable. I seem to think I waited until cable to catch it and I have to admit when I saw it, keeping in mind everything Paul told me about it, I just didn’t care for it.
It wasn’t until some years later, after I was out of high school, when I came across it again. I think it was on cable again and on this time I liked it. Go figure. I’m penning this part of the review before having watched Fred’s new blu-ray of it and have not seen it since that second viewing. Late 80s, I think that was. Does it still hold up? We’ll soon find out. I hope it does, since I actually got excited when Fred announced he was remastering it and converting to blu-ray for the first time.
Speaking of that announcement, the closer it came to the actual release, the more curious I got about the movie. I had forgotten Angelique Pettyjohn was in it. My only memory of her is from that Star Trek episode, “The Gamesters Of Triskelion” and I had no clue at all she was dead. One day she pop into my head while I was on the computer so I looked her up on IMDB and was shocked to see she had died way back in February of 1992, on Valentine’s Day even, from cancer. Doing some more digging I learned she had done three hardcore porn flicks too.
Really?! Wow! I never knew that.
This is now five days later and I’ve finally seen Biohazard, even took in the commentary this afternoon, something I don’t usually do until after I’ve seen the movie and reviewed it. I tend to review the movie and any extras separately, rather than taking in everything all at once and then penning the review. Anyhow, yeah, this little Z-grade flick still holds up for me even though logic and plot have taken a serious time out. I feel I can say that since director Fred Olen Ray states on the included commentary he really didn’t give a shit about logic and plot. Imagery is what mattered on this movie, but for those that need to know the rough storyline it involves government experiments using this really hot chick, Lisa Martyn (Angelique Pettyjohn), who’s a gifted psychic. She can also tap into other dimensions and physically bring things out of them. I hadn’t realized how Lovecraftian this whole movie felt until it started to unfold. Specifically it reminded me of his short story, ‘The Dreams In The Witch House,’ in which the main character at one point having gone into what he believes is a dream visits these strange dimensions and is able to bring back evidence he was there. Martyn shows off her talents, her psychic talents, I mean, her “other talents” are shown later, and brings back an “otherworldly statue” and an odd looking trunk-type object which is deemed interesting enough to get it transported out of the lab.
It’s during this transport a small, lethal creature bursts out and begins to claim victims right and left. First the poor army officer in the back watching over the “dimensional artifact” and then random people in the neighborhood. Martyn pairs up with Mitchell Carter (William Fair), a demoted officer, to track the creature down psychically and then to gun it down totally. Our human villain here is Reiger (David Pearson), an ex-Vietnam vet Carter has run into before and they clearly don’t like one another.
It all ends with a strange twist where Martyn sheds her human persona as she’s revealed to be one of these interdimensional beings testing one of their “soldiers.” The gore and creature FX are pretty good. The “alien” here is not your typical towering Giger-esqe abomination, but sort of the flip side of E.T. Ray’s five-year-old son, Chris, played the monster and since the director hated E.T. a poster of Spielberg’s movie is “ceremoniously desecrated” onscreen by a stomping on by the creature. I was okay with that. I never liked that movie either.
Fred Olen Ray recently released this limited edition signed blu-ray (1000 pressed units only) which you can get now on Amazon. This is his second blu-ray revisit to a movie from the beginning of his career. His first was Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and that too is still available for purchase on Amazon.
This was the first time Fred Olen Ray shot on 35mm and the new 2K scan he did from it looks really, really good. Colors and clarity are right on the money, and I liked how just in general the film appears so undated. It was made in the early 80s, but there really isn’t a lot of the 80s on display here. Only from the hairstyle of one blond chick in a bathtub, but other than that the time frame looked fairly neutral to me.
I should also stress this version of Biohazard is technically a director’s cut. Ray added a tad more T&A of Pettyjohn in her make-out scene with Fair and corrected a couple of scenes where actors were looking in the wrong direction. There was a scene, however, he couldn’t find the lost footage too, where Fair, in his version, killed this creature that had gotten it’s slimy appendages onto Reiger’s face but also shot that character in the head to do it. That would have been a nice reinstatement.
- Audio commentary with Director/Producer/Writer Fred Olen Ray moderated by David DeCoteau
- Remembering Biohazard (39:50)
- Unfinished Beyond Fear Footage (5:13)
As expected the commentary Fred did delivers on everything you ever wanted to know about the making of Biohazard. Since I cannot remember that Fangoria article at all this was new to me. Some teasers: It took several years for Fred to complete the movie. He started it in 1983 and around that time Sam Raimi and crew sought him out for some advice. There was something wrong with their print, Fred couldn’t remember exactly what. The idea for Biohazard, or at least, the title came to him and a friend when they were visiting the set of Roger Corman’s Forbidden World (1982) and they saw a door marked, Biohazard, and thought that would make a great title. This is Angelique Pettyjohn’s final movie.
The extra ‘Remenbering Biohazard‘ is a series of interviews with Fred, his son, Chris, David DeCoteau and actors, Frank McDonald and Richard Hench. You can play them separately or the entire extra. Lastly, there’s five minutes of footage titled, Beyond Fear, that Fred still hopes to incorporate into a full length movie. There’s a disclaimer before it starts explaining what you’re about to see, but the skinny of it is after shooting was done on his Deep Space (1988), he shot this footage with Aldo Ray (whom I neglected to mention also has a small part in Biohazard as an Army General) and other actors before the sets were scrapped.
Many years ago I heard there was a Biohazard 2 (aka Biohazard: The Alien Force) and I think I even looked into it on IMDB but since Fred wasn’t listed as director I lost interest in wanting to see it, but hearing him talk about it in his interview on the ‘Remembering Biohazard’ extra I hit up IMDB again and saw his name under executive producer. That was enough to get me to dig deep into my back issues of Fangoria and find a review of the movie. I’m currently making a mental note to add it to my Amazon wishlist.Sadly, it seems Lionsgate owns it so don’t expect any forthcoming remaster or even a new widescreen DVD.
Fred has plans to remaster his The Alien Dead (1980) and Scalps (1983), so keep an eye out for those blus in the near future too.