Director(s) – James Hong and William Rice (Destination Unknown, A Dinner to Remember)
Starring – James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China, Shadowzone), Karen Lorre (The X-Files, The Dukes of Hazzard), and Michael Wong (Zombie Fight Club, Transformers: Age of Extinction)
Release Date – 1989
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Tagline – “An island of death fueled by the blood of its victims”
With this whole Corona Virus pandemic going on I decided to take some time to watch a few movies with zombies and the undead. I know how cheesy that sounds but I just thought it would be a fun time to watch some zombie flicks. As I looked through my films for review I decided to spend some more quality time with Vinegar Syndrome.
This time I was tossing in an odd take on the undead. I want to thank Vin Syn for sending over the 1989 James Hong vehicle The Vineyard. I had seen this one several years ago and, though it is not your typical zombie flick, it fit my theme to an extent. Thanks again, guys!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows wine maker Dr. Po (Hong) who is known the world over for his exquisite wines. However, Po has a dark secret. He is actually centuries old and is using a magic potion to keep him looking young. When his potion stops working he hatches a plan to use his money to fund a film and use the young and lifeful cast as sacrifices to rejuvenate his aging body.**Spoiler Alert**
I first saw this film a few years ago with some friends. I can’t remember if it was an old VHS or a boot DVD that one of us had ordered from eBay but I do remember the quality was super shitty. That’s pretty much all I remember from that viewing experience so I was excited to revisit it with better quality. The film was entertaining but I don’t see myself tossing it in again for some time.
The acting in this one is classic late 80s cheese. James Hong is always entertaining in his films and this time he is given a more grander character to develop and bring to life. I liked his performance and how much he contributed to the story. The supporting cast is fun as well but their characters are criminally underdeveloped in comparison. Hong is the center of the story but the rest of the characters are extremely flat and uninteresting. The cast worked with what they had.
The story for this one put horror in the backseat. We get a mesmerizing story with some great lore and a fun backstory. I really enjoyed it in that regard. It wasn’t until the horror elements were added that the film felt messy. The last portion of the film just feels like a rushed mess and the horror does not reach it’s potential.
Finally, the film is not a gory mess like I would have liked but we get some very impressive make-up effects. I really liked Hong’s aging look along with the undead/living sacrifices the film gives us. The make up effects are great but those of you looking for brutal kills will be very disappointed.
Region Free Blu-ray/DVD combo
Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative
“Welcome to the Vineyard” – a brand new interview with director/actor James Hong and producer/actor Harry Mok
“Zombies From San Jose” – a brand new interview with co-director William Rice
“Sacred Earth and Restless Souls” – a brand new interview with cinematographer John Dirlam
Original theatrical trailer
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles