'Scalpel: Special Edition'
(Robert Lansing, Sandy Martin, Judith Chapman, Arlen Dean Snyder, et al / Blu ray / R / (1977) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: US television staple Robert Lansing (Star Trek, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone) stars as a deranged surgeon in this twisty-turny psychological thriller from Blood Rage director John Grissmer.
Blu ray Verdict: Robert Lansing plays a crazed, arrogant plastic surgeon whose young adult daughter has run away (after he lets her mother drown and brutally murders her boyfriend).
When his wealthy father-in-law dies and leaves his entire estate to the missing girl, he hits on the idea of using plastic surgery to re-make the face of a disfigured go-go dancer (Margaret Chapman) into the spitting image of his runaway daughter.
Complications arise, however, when he is unable to sexually resist his new "daughter", and when his real daughter suddenly returns.
This is pretty interesting movie, kind of Southern Gothic giallo thriller. By the standards of American thrillers, it's patently absurd, but this kind of perverse absurdity always worked well in the Italian-made giallo genre, so if you're a fan of those type of films, you'll probably enjoy this low-budget, Southern-fried American version.
Lansing is good as the mad plastic surgeon. (He's very good at laughing evilly). Although she was mainly a TV actress, Margaret Chapman does well in a dual role, creating two identical but very different characters (and she had to do so without the benefit of split-screen or expensive special effects).
She's also pretty appealing (kind of a red-haired version of Jessica Harper of "Phantom of Paradise" and "Suspiria" fame).
What I found most amazing about this was that it was originally rated PG back in the 1970's! Besides the quasi-incest (or actual incest?) angle, Chapman's character is first introduced as a topless go-go dancer who is getting her face smashed into a bloody mess against a wall by a burly male bouncer (a scene obviously perfectly appropriate for children in the 1970's).
In closing, this film has got to rank up there with 'Blood and Lace' as the most violent and perverse movie ever to garner a permissive PG rating. I personally wouldn't recommend showing it to your children, but it is a pretty entertaining movie.
Simply put, and photographed by celebrated cinematographer Edward Lachman, who would go on to serve as DP on the likes of Erin Brockovich and The Virgin Suicides, 'Scalpel' is an exemplary slice of Southern-fried gothic, filled finally rescued from VHS obscurity in this revelatory new Blu-ray edition from Arrow Video. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
•Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
•Original Uncompressed Mono Audio
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
•Brand new audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith
•Brand new crew interviews
•Original Theatrical Trailer
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil
•FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Bill Ackerman