Movie Review: DEATHROW GAMESHOW Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack


DEATHROW GAMESHOW was directed by Mark Pirro and stars John McCafferty, Robyn Blythe, Darwyn Carson, Beano, and Debra Lamb.

Chuck Toedan hosts the most controversial show on TV: Live or Die, where deathrow inmates compete against each other for a chance to beat the executioner. However, when he accidentally kills a mob boss of the most feared mafia in the city, a hit man tries to put an end to him and his show once and for all. As a battle of wits and survival ensues, Chuck is forced to engage in the very tactics he uses on his contestants, or die trying.


The movie centers around gameshow host Chuck Toedan (John McCafferty) and Gloria Sternvirgin (Robyn Blythe) who is out to put a stop to what the show does with these prisoners one way or another. There’s also Luigi Pappalardo (Beano), the gross mob hit man who is out to get the gameshow host but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, if you get my drift. Gloria thinks it’s in bad taste to have this televised game show that puts the spotlight on these condemned prisoners who are given opportunities to have their sentences reprieved and Chuck sees it as a second chance for them. It’s what they all have to go through that has the militant feminist in an uproar. Of course, something really bad happens that angers Luigi and Chuck has to enlist the help of his female enemy to try and stop the mobster form killing him. The funny thing is, they also sort of get the hots for each other as the movie plays out.

Okay, I kind of liked the story for Deathrow Gameshow but the movie itself was a pretty bad watch. The acting was okay and John McCafferty played the part as this unlikable gameshow host who really isn’t such a bad guy. Robyn Blythe does a really good job adding a little sex appeal that ends up being neutralized by the grossness of Beano’s obnoxious loser of a mobster. A big problem with the movie is that it doesn’t really know what genre it belongs to because it has its comedic elements to it but there’s also a hint of horror at times – mostly with the executions but even they get pretty silly at times. I’m sure Mark Pirro did what he could with this low budget screwball cheesefest but sadly it didn’t really do too much for me.


The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features some alternate artwork and movie credits. Each disc features some matching artwork – the Blu-ray matches the outside sleeve and the DVD matches the reverse sleeve. Vinegar Syndrome uses the clear keep cases for these titles and I really like them. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for the high-definition disc were really good and the same goes for the standard-definition disc. I did notice just a little grain in some scenes but for the most part this is a really nice upgrade for this 1988 obscurity. Vingar Syndrome scanned, restored and preserved Deathrow Gameshow in 2K from the original 35mm camera negative.

Bottom line is, Deathrow Gameshow was another first time watch for me and one of the worst movies that I’ve ever seen. Yeah, this quirky black comedy was intentionally done in bad taste where it makes fun of the saturated gameshow market and puts a little horrific spin on it. Let’s just say, it’s so bad it’s good. I’m surprised that the movie never found its way to “USA Up All Night” or “MST3K” but as far as I know it never made it to either one. It’s not so much a horror-comedy but a comedy of horrors. This oddball obscurity from the 80’s makes its high-def debut with this Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack that released on October 25th and even though it’s a pretty cheesy watch, I was still entertained enough to sit through it all. Some people may even like it more than I did and I’m perfectly okay with that.

Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome

Run Time: 81 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

DVD Video: Widescreen (1.85:1)

DVD Audio: English Dolby Digital 1.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: Good Stuff!

  • All extras on both disc formats
  • Region free Blu-ray and DVD combo pack
  • Scanned, restored & preserved in 2k from 35mm original camera negative
  • Commentary track with director Mark Pirro, John McCafferty (actor) & Robyn Blythe (actress)
  • “Revisiting Deathrow Gameshow” Making of doc (32:20)
  • 2015 director’s cut of DEATHROW GAMESHOW (1:20:30)
  • Multiple director introductions
  • Mark Pirro’s 1978 short film “Buns” (20:44)
  • Mark Pirro’s  1979 short film “The Spy Who Did it Better” (45:43)
  • Original theatrical trailer (02:16)
  • TV spot (00:42)
  • Image gallery
  • Director bio
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH Subtitles


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

There are no comments, yet.

Why don’t you be the first? Come on, you know you want to!

Leave a Comment