Movie Review: Scalpel is Tawdry and Ridiculous Fright Flick Fun!

March 5, 2018

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Dr. Phillip Reynolds (Robert Lansing) is having a bit of shitty luck. His daughter, Heather (Judith Chapman) has run away from home after the somewhat questionable death of her boyfriend a year prior which has driven the Doc a tad bit off the rails. But, things seem to be coming up Reynolds as our “hero” has the good fortune to find a woman (a stripper by trade) with her face bashed to shit and back, so he drags her ass home, uses his plastic surgery skills (which are seemingly well over 9000), and makes her look exactly like the image of his long lost daughter. Ahh, finally he can be reunited with the one he loves…oh, and collect that big ass inheritance that was bequeathed to Heather…actually, he only cares about the cash…
With that kind of material listed above, you’d think ol’ Scalpel would be some sort of grindhouse fodder (and there is sleazy material here, in particular the fact that Reynolds becomes hot n’ horny for the woman bearing his daughter’s face), but for the most part this comes across like an extended episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, especially with the plot twists that lead to an unfolding mystery and deep dive into Looney Town, Population: Dr. Phillip Reynolds. It all adds up to a rather amazing off-kilter good time, and the entire production seems to relish the fact that it is tawdry and ridiculous.
Along with the feature presentation of Scalpel, those wild wizards at Arrow Video and MVD give us a ghoulish grab bag of goodies on this release. Leading the way are two color grades for the film (both from restored materials) that present the film in it’s original more hyper-stylized yellow/green Southern Gothic look, and one that presents the color in a more natural manner…whichever you choose, both look gorgeous. Along with that you get interviews with Director John Grissmer, Actress Judith Chapman, and Director of Photography Edward Lachman. Also included are an image gallery, the film’s trailer, and an audio commentary featuring film historian Richard Harland Smith.
If you are looking for a psychological thriller with a touch of the surreal, Scalpel will entertain you through and through, and this release contains enough bonus material to really make it a good time!


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