Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE NOSTRIL PICKER - DVD REVIEW


Long forgotten and never released in the US or Canada, Mark Nowicki’s The CHANGER (1988) became better known as The NOSTRIL PICKER, when it debuted on UK home video sometime in the early ‘90s.  Specialty label Massacre Video has decided to stick with this preposterous title, which in all honesty, is much more eye-popping than The CHANGER, but in a nice gesture, Massacre Video has also provided reversible cover art for each title.

Carl Zschering plays Joe Bukowski, a pathetic loner that doesn’t do a whole lot except wander aimlessly through the streets, hang out in his rundown apartment and, when he gets really desperate, even eats “beef flavor dog food” out of a can.  Obviously, his luck with women is equally hopeless (“All I wanna do is talk to ya”), that is, until he meets a homeless guy who teaches him about “morphosynthesis… a kind of spell”, which enables him to change his appearance at his own volition and “live out his perverse fantasies”.

Like most ‘80s direct-to-video horror, The NOSTRIL PICKER is mostly played for laughs, and despite a nasty edge and underlying mean streak, it’s still overshadowed by its mostly lame attempts at comedy.  After mumbling some gibberish, or as he calls it, “jive-ass bullshit”, Joe inadvertently discovers his new powers, and as “Jo” (Ann Flood), the new girl in school, he quickly gains the friendship of other high school girls, which is certainly discomforting knowing his motives.  Then, out of nowhere, a lowly John Hughes-inspired montage unfolding to the strains of Schoolin’ - a suitably tacky song that most ‘80s video junkies will undoubtedly love – thankfully nullifies that queasy atmosphere as he wanders the hall, attempts to do homework, fends off advances from other guys, and yes, even picks his nose.  Later that night, babysitting with one of his “girlfriends”, they watch “Attack of the Cannibal Girls” on the local “Horror Showcase”, which eventually triggers him to kill.  Not revealing too much, his killing spree continues to escalate as a local detective (Edward Tanner) gets on the case and, in a typically contrived plot twist, he just happens to be the father of Jennifer (Laura Cummings), one of “Jo’s” new friends.  Of course, it all gets a little too overwhelming for Joe and, in another memorable moment, he gets into a scuffle with one of his potential victims using a pair of “marital aids” before getting knocked out cold.  But, even at a scant 76 minutes, this is still pretty fat through the middle, which is somewhat redeemed by the nifty and equally nasty twist ending.

Distributed by Cinevest Entertainment Group, this was a small production and distribution company headed by Arthur Schweitzer.  Under this banner, Schweitzer produced a handful of films in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, many of which, like this film, also never saw a release in the US or Canada.  Although Vinegar Syndrome (hence the VinSyn logo on the bottom right hand corner on the back of the DVD) acquired his small library of films, Massacre Video will also unleash Brett Piper’s barely released MUTANT WAR (1988), another Schweitzer production, sometime in the near future.

The most significant extra is a 20-minute interview with producer/cinematographer Patrick J. Mathews who, along with Nowicki and writer Steven Hodge, worked at CBS/Fox Home Video in the film transfer department as colorists and video editors.  This informative interview highlights the making of the film, their collaboration and certain pitfalls of making a low-budget film in the ‘80s.  Well worth the listen. A very detailed behind-the-scenes stills gallery and trailers, including one for this film, round out the extras.

Anyone weaned on this type of stuff – low-budget ‘80s trash – will find plenty to enjoy, but it’s also spirited enough to entice new viewers or, as one character sneakily remarks watching “Horror Showcase”, “It’s probably great if you’ve been smokin’ dope!”

You can order The NOSTRIL PICKER from Diabolik DVD here.

2 comments:

  1. Skunkape and I tried to watch this after scoping out titles that we missed on the Vipco label. This was pretty lame, oh well, it looked promising. Nice writing style, I dig it. Check out my site theaterofguts.com.

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  2. Glad you enjoyed the review. I also thought it looked promising, but was kinda disappointed even though it had a few funny moments. Really enjoy your site theaterofguts.com!

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