Written by: George Pacheco on April 5th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1985
Director: Phillip Marshak
Writers: Mark Weiss, Joe Repaso
Cast: Herschel Savage, Jacqueline Lorians, Paul Thomas, Shanna McCullough, Long Chaney, Reggie Nalder, Jamie Gillis, Ron Jeremy, William Margold, Helga Sven, Danielle, Francois Papillon, Adrienne Bellaire, Iarkin McCallister
BluRay released: March 23rd, 2016
Approximate running times: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $27.98
Blue Ice is an anomaly of sorts, an ambitious, full length adult feature in the era of shot-on-video cheapies long removed from the genre’s golden age of the 1970s. Director Philip Marshak was no stranger to this idea, of course, having helmed the formidable 1978 horror-hybrid Dracula Sucks, which was itself released in multiple cuts, including a softcore edit for commercial purposes. This was due to the fact that Marshak actually had connections in the legitimate industry, with the filmmaker even going on to direct two 80s horror anthologies, including Cataclysm and the Vinegar Syndrome released cult favorite, Night Train to Terror.
VS has gone their typical extra mile releasing this freshly scanned edition of Blue Ice, giving Marshak’s picture some proper love, equal to the clear care and purpose given by the film itself against so many take-the-money-and-run productions of the day. Blue Ice definitely stands out in this regard, as it takes on multiple genres in its tale of a mystical aphrodisiac being hunted by power-hungry Nazis in the modern day. The Indiana Jones adventure film, the private detective flick, and some glossy 80s sheen all get the big budget treatment here, with the end results being very, very watchable.
This is because the plot rarely loses focus, moving briskly from scene to scene as it follows private dick lead Herschel Savage in his hunt for a jewel-encrusted book imbued with sexual power. Savage commits to his role with suitable emotion, as do most of his co-stars, including Jamie Gillis, Shanna McCullogh, and Paul Thomas. Interestingly enough, Blue Ice also features noted Salem’s Lot and Mark of the Devil star Reggie Nalder-performing in a non sex role under the ridiculous pseudonym of Deltas Van Burg-as well as leading lady Jacqueline Lorians, whose femme fatale beauty as Savage’s co-lead captures the camera lens beautifully.
There’s also an interesting juxtaposition between the film noir elements of Marshak’s film and the very of-its-time 80s synthesizer score, which nevertheless works very well to set the mood. The music is credited to a Zok Richards and a Jacque Martikay, who only worked on a trio of films in their career, yet their work here, simple as it is, is remarkably effective in the film’s penultimate scene. The combination of the booming synth and Ace Peacock’s (!!!) smooth and smart cinematography make it one of the more memorable ending scenes from the era.
Granted, there are brief moments when Blue Ice drags, and there are also moments of confusing plot point jumps, but this was probably due to financial constraints or production pressure, and don’t do too much in hampering the film’s success. Marshak’s insistence at keeping the sexual scenes relatively brief, yet no less erotic, also speaks volumes about how focused the crew was at bucking the trends of the day and making the best possible adult film they could against the grain.
Vinegar Syndrome brings Blue Ice to home video in a fresh 2k scan from the film’s original 35mm negative. The image on both the Blu-Ray and DVD look fantastic, with brightly popping colors against the film’s soft focus film stock. The audio track is a little soft, but this is likely due to the picture itself, as Marshak’s film were never known for their crisp sound. The biggest treat on the disc, however, is the commentary track from Herschel Savage and his co-star William Margold, who fly off the rails in a fascinating and hilarious conversation. Both actors need little to no prodding from their Vinegar Syndrome moderator Joe Rubin, as they begin to piece together memories of the film as they’re watching along together. Savage and Margold have the easy rapport of old friends, and listening to their anecdotes makes re-watching the film with the commentary a lot of fun, making this yet another recommended release from Vinegar Syndrome.