The Vineyard

The Vineyard (1989)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: James Hong, Karen Witter, Michael Wong
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

’The Vineyard’ contains everything that a great B-movie needs: zombies, kung-fu, women in chains, and an evil villain. Unfortunately, ’The Vineyard’ isn’t a great B-movie. It’s only a great disappointment. ’The Vineyard’ was obviously the pet-project of actor James Hong. That’s right, the man who we all know and love as David Lo Pan from ’Big Trouble in Little China’, co-wrote, co-directed, and stars in this train-wreck of a movie. Hong stars as Dr. Elsen Po, a famous winemaker who serves as a sort of Mr. Rourke, as he welcomes a group of young actors to his island home. They are supposedly there to audition for Mr. Po, who produces movies in his spare time, but Mr. Po has other plans. You see, Mr. Po has a group of young women chained in his basement, and a bunch of zombies shuffling through his vineyard. It all has something to do with the fact that Po is actually hundreds of years old and must make sacrifices in order to stay young, and I’m not talking about a facelift here.

The movie makes no sense at all, the acting is terrible, and ’The Vineyard’ appears to have been edited by accident. One scene involving spiders is sort of creepy, but that’s not enough to even come close to rescuing this horrible movie. Most of the film looks like it was done by ’First Take Theatre’, as many of the actors flub there lines, or don’t seem to know where to stand. Hong tries to add a unique element to the film by incorporating Chinese myths, but it just gets lost in the shuffle. The only thing that held my attention was the fact that Mr. Po’s house appears to be the exact same building that was used as the Morningside Mortuary in ’Phantasm’.

’The Vineyard’ arrives on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment (who should know better), and they’ve given the movie a transfer, which it doesn’t deserve. The film is letterboxed at 1.85:1 and has been enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image is very clear, showing only a slight amount of grain, and there are few defects visible from the source print. The colors are natural and bright, and the shading is always on target. There are no overt problems from artifacting or compression.

The audio on the DVD is a digital mono, which provides clear dialogue, which isn’t overpowered by the sound effects. (I listened to some of the film through headphones, and there is unlooped dialogue audible on this track!) The only extra on the DVD is the theatrical trailer for ’The Vineyard’ and as with the film, it’s something to behold. Clocking in at nearly 4 minutes, this trailer gives away most of the film, and leaves nothing unexposed. To quote David Lo Pan, ’This is really pissing me off to no end!’