Impulse Blu-ray Review (Grindhouse Releasing)

William Shatner at his most Shatty

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By 1974, William Grefé had already directed a number of low-budget affairs, but he had yet to suck in the star power of someone like William Shatner. By then, Shatner’s star status had already been cemented with his role on Star Trek, as well as numerous other TV movie and series appearances. But the Tony Crechales-scripted Impulse, the thriller about a psychotic man who murders his wife and then begins a new plot to steal the investments of another woman he’s seeing, was a different sort of trash for the man who was Kirk.

Here, Shatner steals (and pretty much runs) the show, from his earliest appearances to the insane spiral that is Impulse‘s last act. The film doesn’t really do anything too original or enticing; it’s effectively a pretty banal story about Shatner’s character Matt Stone, who as a child murders his mother’s rapist and eventually becomes a haunted man who did not get the psychiatric help he should have. As an adult he begins to seduce women with money into investing into his scam, only to end up murdering them once the scheme gets too complicated. Impulse picks up after Stone picks his next targets, when he makes a critical mistake – his girlfriend’s daughter Tina (Kim Nicholas) catches him killing Karate Pete (Harold Sakata) and she tries to get anyone around her to believe the story.

The appeal of Impulse is not its limp story or stunted thematic exploration of a mentally disturbed man, but Shatner as a focal point. This is a scenery-chewing film for him, and he truly does not let up on the antics throughout; whether it be his rumored real on-screen fart or the infamous sequence where he berates a woman who dares to cut in front of him during his date, Shatner is undeniably the reason why anyone would want to watch this movie. It’s also commendable that the rest of the cast is even able to keep up, let alone young Nicholas, who delivers a great chaotic performance matching Shatner’s energy.

Impulse misses a lot of chances to deal with the reciprocity of mental trauma, but it certainly knows how to traumatize its viewers with gag after gag from Shatner. Taken as a whole, it’s not an entirely effective movie, but it does have a panache that a lot of other Grefé vehicles lack. Many other films have tackled psychotic characters better than Impulse, but none of them have the Shatner appeal that this one does.


Grindhouse Releasing has released Impulse on Blu-ray in a 2-disc deluxe edition that collects hours of extras as well as a new 4K restoration from archival film elements. The opening of the film has an info card that notes the original negative has been lost, so this restoration was forced to rely on the only remaining elements available, problematic as they may be. The results are certainly indicative of the inconsistencies in the film elements. While Impulse does feature some good detail at times, it is also subject to a lot of sporadic softness in various sequences. Its film grain wavers between high density and more marginal, which can impact the overall obstructiveness. And most noticeably, the transfer often skews towards red tones, more apparent in the film’s opening half, which can reveal almost sunburned-like skin textures and in one particular sequence a luridly red lighting. With that said, it’s clear that Grindhouse was working with less than optimal elements that have not aged gracefully, and they’ve done what they could to restore Impulse lovingly despite those flaws. The overall transfer does not detract from the deliciously salacious Impulse and viewers should enjoy seeing this in HD regardless.

 Audio is presented with a standard DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono English track as well as, curiously, a 2.0 mono French dub. The English soundtrack sounds plush with good dialogue volume and score production, with minor sound effect usage. No real dips or issues here despite the black-and-white opening’s more echoing effects, which could be native to the film’s sound design. English subtitles are also included.

This 2-disc edition of Impulse features, frankly, an insane number of extra features. A lot of them are collections of archival elements like news reports, a 2011 interview with William Grefé, some of Grefé’s newer short films, Q&A appearances at film festivals, and a collection of Grefé’s film-making educational sessions. Also included are a number of new featurettes, though, including lengthy discussions with Grefé about the film, his life, and various stories from his time in show business. He also provides a new audio commentary for the film which goes into a number of production details including various extras throughout the film, stories from the shoot, and other interesting tidbits that are great for a secondary watch. “The Making of Impulse” is a short featurette that provides a sort of condensed version of the commentary.

Also included are two other Grefé films, The Devil’s Sisters and The Godmothers. Both of these are presented in SD and come with a number of additional extras related to the films, including new introductions from Grefé.

Besides the hours of supplementary elements on both discs, Grindhouse has included almost a dozen hidden bonus features that can be found on various menus by select button presses. We’ve included all of the hidden features we found in the below extras list.

Besides the lengthy list of features, Grindhouse’s physical package includes an essay booklet featuring writing from Jacques Boyreau about Shatner, Grefé, and screenwriter Crechalas and their impact on the grindhouse subgenre. A painted portrait of William Shatner from Dave Lebow is included on a small cardstock, and new cover artwork is included as both a slipbox and reversible artwork. Grindhouse has really given Impulse royalty treatment here with its enviable list of special features that works as a great complement to Arrow Video’s previously released He Came from the Swamp Grefé boxset.

Extra Features

  • NEW 4K restoration created from rare archival film elements
  • NEW The Making of Impulse (1080p; 14:27)
  • NEW “Shatner Saves Sakata” 16mm with optional audio commentaries with director William Grefe or William Shatner (1080p; 1:31 or 1:45)
  • 40th Anniversary Screening panel at Tampa Theater (1080p; 27:10)
  • KINGDOM OF THE SHATNER – William Shatner Live in Santa Monica – Oct. 9, 2022 (1080p; 1:04:37)
  • NEW Doug Hobart: The Corpse Speaks! (1080p; 33:58)
  • NEW Audio commentary by William Grefé
  • NEW Between the Treks: Shatner in the 1970s (1080p; 26:26)
  • NEW Bill Grefe is Furious (1080p; 1:17:46)
  • NEW Bill’s Miami Stories (1080p; 24:45)
  • NEW Bill’s Sea Stories (1080p; 43:17)
  • Bill Grefe 2011 interview (1080p; 12:34)
  • Live and Let Die news report (480i; 2:39)
  • Legend Award (480i; 9:25)
  • Alternate French soundtrack
  • Bill Grefe’s Film-making Seminars
    • Session One (480i; 2:05:05)
    • Session Two (480i; 1:43:07)
    • Session Three (480i; 1:20:23)
  • Bacardi: Shatner (1080p; 19:32)
  • Fame with William Shatner (480i; 12:09)
  • Investing in Movies with Lauran Bacall (480i; 23:01)
  • “Thumbs” short film (1080p; 6:09)
  • “Iceman” short film (480i; 4:56)
  • “A Cask of Amontillado” short film (1080p; 9:22)
  • “Underwood” short film (1080p; 21:09)
  • THE DEVIL’S SISTERS bonus feature (480i; 1:24:26)
    • Audio commentary with William Grefe
    • Introduction by William Grefe (1080p; 2:42)
    • Devil’s Sisters Revisited (1080p; 9:21)
    • Sisters of the Devil radio spot (0:13)
    • NEW Bill Grefe and the Devil’s Sisters (1080p; 1:20)
    • Still gallery (no chapter breaks; 1:20)
  • THE GODMOTHERS bonus feature (480i; 1:17:39)
    • NEW Intro by Bill Grefe (1080p; 3:55)
  • NEW Glossy illustrated booklet with liner notes by acclaimed underground filmmaker Jacques Boyreau
  • NEW Embossed slipcover with art by esteemed painter Dave Lebow
  • NEW painted William Shatner portrait card
  • Still galleries
    • Production stills (chapter breaks)
    • Press (chapter breaks)
    • Drive In Delirium newsprint ad gallery (no chapter breaks; 4:43)
    • Video releases (chapter breaks)
    • Bill Grefe (chapter breaks)
    • Revival (chapter breaks)
    • Cover art by Dave Lebow (chapter breaks)
  • Theatrical Trailer A (1080p; 1:18)
  • Theatrical Trailer B (1080p; 2:52)
  • “The Dangerous Stranger” short (hidden; 480i; 9:47)
  • Prolapse live performance of “Tina This is Matthew Stone” (hidden; 480i; 5:45)
  • NEW William Grefe interview about Deep Throat (hidden; 1080p; 2:19)
  • NEW William Grefe talks about Quentin Tarantino and Bob Murawski (hidden; 1080p; 1:57)
  • “Tina’s Impulse” short film (hidden; 1080p; 1:56)
  • Swamp Man (hidden; 1080p; 18:14)
  • NEW C. Courtney Joyner on William Shatner’s Full Moon Fright Night (hidden; 1080p; 5:00)
  • NEW Doug Hobart interview outtake (hidden; 1080p; 1:13)
  • Painting William Shatner (hidden; 1080p; 2:29)
  • Tony Crechales still gallery (hidden; chapter breaks)
  • ABC Evening News report on making movies in Georgia (hidden; 480i; 1:55)
  • Grindhouse Releasing prevues


With an insane number of extras and a solid, if flawed, HD presentation of Impulse, this release from Grindhouse Releasing is certain to be an impulsive buy for cult film fans and those that want to see Shatner throw caution to the wind with his scene-chewing acting. Recommended.

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