Film Genre - Horror
Label - Via Vision Entertainment
Audio - English (Dolby Digital)
Running Time - 404
Region Coding - B (Blu-Ray)
TV Standard - PAL
Rating - R18+
Year of Release - 1983
Primary Format - Movies/TV - Blu-Ray
Review By James Ackland
Dead Zone, Christine, Sleep Walkers
Review by John Matthews
Ghoulies is one hell of a nostalgic for the DSC Team, being younger and hiring it under the old Roadshow VHS banner when we were lads. That little creature coming out of the toilet filled our minds with what could be an awesome fun movie in the vein of Gremlins, however we were treated to an offbeat, surreal occult thriller. As a kid I was confused as I wanted a mindless critter flick, the older I got however, the more I appreciated it. I get frustrated when people compare Ghoulies to Gremlins, as I will explain these are two drastically different (and wonderful) critter movies, in their own rights.
Ok so what is Ghoulies about; A young man named Jonathan inherits an ancient mansion on his 18th birthday in his fathers name; who was the leader of an occult sect that has previously carried out diabolical rituals. More and more Jonathan feels drawn to this old house and its past and even begins with transitioning into a Devil Summoner. He feels alienated more and more; feeling distant from his girlfriend, his friends and his previous life. At a party, he finally gets a ritual going and the “Ghoulies" enter in our world. These little slime pins have already then served his Daddy as henchmen and now perform the same service for Jonathan made. We have a really colourful cast of memorable characters within the group and surprisingly we become attached to them as the nightmare progresses.
The film slowly builds up the psychological and supernatural tension and his guests discover a real treat. As discussed; those going in expecting a Gremlins film may be surprised as the Ghoulies do not show up until later on in the film, this is a slow burn; but the build up and good pacing is rewarding. The Ghoulies can be classified in the same category as"Gremlins" and "Critters": Small slimy monsters who are hiding in every useful angle and just waiting for their victims and fun. Thus seeing a comparison by the general public. However, this is a Charles Band production so it has a camp feel to the entire film, unlike Joe Dantes slick Gremlins Warner bros production. They have a charm to them and each have their own personality and style thanks to some amazing special effects and puppetry. The second half of the movie really goes off the rails…more than we could recall. The wacky nature of it alone, with dwarf henchmen, green eyes etc make it worth picking up to bear witness.
However, one must say that the film has a certain 80s flair, a real innocent charm that makes it a blast. I adore 80s horror and this fits in perfectly in terms of its humour, effects and gore. It is considerably violent in parts despite its M rating. Actually, the real problem people have with the film, is the implementation of the story. One calls the movie "Ghoulies". People I have spoken with thus expected that the monsters are the focus so here (as with Gremlins). Lets put it this way; in Dawn of the Dead; the zombies are not the focus, but an element to the film, this is how I see Ghoulies. The little monsters are no more than one type Sidekick to the possessed occultist and pop up anywhere in the film; here and in between, and in the background.
To conclude; I recommend this film to any fans of cult cinema, it’s an essential, just a word of warning to recap, go into it expecting a supernatural occult thriller and you will have a much better time. Thankfully Glass Doll Films have used a foreign piece of art that shows off this element and nails the theme of the film perfectly. The film actually has three sequels, Ghoulies 2 which is a personal and childhood favourite of mine (and some would argue the best in the franchise), Ghoulies 3 goes to college (also brilliant) and 4…which is ahhh different. Oh by the way for Law and Order fans SVU (like myself, no shame) Mariska Hargitay makes an appearance.
Ghoulies here is presented its original Original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For such a low budget production, it looks fantastic. It appears to have been struck from the same HD master MGM provided to scream factory and 101 films in the UK. But this is a PAL disc and ran a lot better in motion. There are no signs of dirt or print damage, its a very nice print with rich colours and black levels. Also no signs of ghosting or Noise reduction, this is as good as this film will look for now.
Ghoulies sounds...great. This disc has 2 audio options. An English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
and English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The soundtrack really pops; when you hear that mischievous soundtrack blasting; its incredibly sharp with no muffling or pops. The dialogue comes off very crisp and is overall a very solid mix.
Special Features: 5/5
Fellow Blu Ray maniacs living overseas you may want to (Not may you should) import this disc. The amount of effort that Glass Doll has put into this release really does make it the superior and best version to own worldwide.
Luca Bercovici Introduction
A great short intro explaining his joy that there is still a fanbase for this film and how much he appreciates it.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Luca Bercovici & Jason Andreasson
Very informative commentary going into the background and production history, makes you wonder if Gremlins actually ripped off Ghoulies as they were being made around the same time.
Just 'cos of the Chick, Man! - An Interview with Luca Bercovici
An exclusive and informative interview just for this release.
The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste - An Interview with Scott Thomson
Another fantastic interview with the actor who played mike; once again informative in how he got involved.
Editing An Empire - An Interview with Ted Nicolau
Yes, Glass Doll are aware how much we treasure the iconic art and haven't forgotten it.
A stunning full colour booklet on how Ghoulies helped build the Charles Bands Empire films, very fun and engaging read.
To conclude this is a must buy, a solid entertaining slice of Charles Bands history, Solid audio and Video and an insane amount of effort put into the packaging, extras and art. To have this this is a local Australian release has us pinching ourselves.
Normally intended a horror film is there to scare the audience as much as possible, or to make believe "that could happen to me." Nevertheless, no matter how frightening is a movie, the viewer knows that it's only a movie, and none of this is reality. In "The Mothman Prophecies" it is all a bit different. The film should not really be put into the category of "Horror". It is rather part thriller, part science fiction, and it deals with things like vision and breaking the fourth wall. This film is based on documented events in Point Pleasant. Specifically, the events that took place for 13 months extended in 1966 to 1967, to the collapse of the bridge, the Ohio and W.Va. union, and 46 people lost their lives. Despite the documentary background history this was wrapped in a great entertainment package, and here's the plot: but he way, I saw this film and theatres and it still frightens me.
The journalist John Klein (Richard Gere) is trying with all his strength to get over the accidental death of his wife Mary. Not long after the car accident, she died in the hospital. John, the last words of his wife remember "you have not seen it, right?". Their macabre drawings of a strange figure him unable to get out of his head. One night traveling John to Richmond. Somehow he comes off the path ( he does not like) knows itself and ends up in Point Pleasant. and soon he finds that his wife was not the only one who has seen "something" because gradually it comes out that in this small town strange events and " sightings "of the so-called Mothman are common all over the place. And John cannot simply not shake the feeling that this Mothman wants to talk to him.
As I said these similar events really happened (at least sightings), but that means that this is not a tedious documentation . But on the contrary. If you are not aware of the background; at first sight (as I did), then the audience will be in for a world-class thriller in the style of "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" commanded by a "oh my God, I would have NEVER expected" ending . And if one looks at the film a second and third time, falling to more and more details, and one is very greedy it to catch new clues to the Mothman. It is genuinely creepy, very few horror films can pull this off.
Voltage moments and scenes where you could scream out loud, are plentiful. Suddenly scenes bring to tears of fright from one a simple phone ringing; it puts totally off balance. This film manages all do without blood, and also the Mothman in itself is not shown as a fearsome monster. But nevertheless "The Mothman Prophecies" is far more frightening than many other horror movies, because here you can and WILL be creeped out and determined this is a reality more than once. And just before you go to bed, you should avoid this film.
The cast is great in this movie. Richard Gere and Laura Linney already showed in "Primal Fear" that the chemistry is right between them, and they are simply a super team. Debra Messing (in the movie Gere's deceased wife and probably better known as Grace from the comedy series "Will and Grace ") plays her role very well, and all the other supporting actors have done a very good job.
All in all, a sharp film for horror, sci fi and thriller fans in general.
On the Disc:
This local release comes to us in stunning HD, its a film that has frustrated myself over it lack of a HD release. There was a few discs in Europe but nothing solid locally. It was a big release and shocks me how long it has taken.
Codec: MPEG-4 MVC
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Thankfully Via Vision presents a nice print that is spec free, clean and crisp, a big leap over the DVD from many many years ago.Black levels are rich and there does not appear to be any digital noise or compression issues. The audio we have a English: Dolby Digital 5., which sound great and fresh, with no hissing or pops.
This is a single film review from the new ViaVision/Madman Cronenberg collection Blu Ray set. Other films in this set are Stephen King's The Dead Zone(1983) and Shivers(1975).
The cover of this film is TERRIFYING! When I first dipped my toe into horror in the late 80's I gave Rabid a wide berth. Much like Company of Wolves and Demons the imagery was just too much. A girl slumped in a corner having succumb to the all consuming rabies infection. Was she dead? Was she frozen? Did a dog bite her and now she has rabies and wants to bit people? Brrrrrr I didn't want to think about it. And for years I didn't want to know the answers.
Then I discovered David Cronenberg and his very very dark eye. After the glorious remake of The Fly and Dead Ringers I'd watch pretty much anything by this man. His films are like a unique cuisine. They have an actual flavour. I wouldn't exactly want to know what's under the pie crust, but it's unmistakably Cronenberg.
So when I finally gathered the guts to reach out and watch Rabid I did so with "Rabid" enthusiasm!
And I was sooooo wrong! The cover was still terrifying, but the cover really isn't the film at all. Damn those Canadian marketing geniuses!!!
So if there are no rabid dogs infecting people or anything.... It's gotta be monkeys right!?? It HAS to be monkeys!! Right?....
Let's do,some plot and check back again soon.
Young lovers Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and Hart Read (Frank Moore) are off on a motor cycle journey when a road accident leaves Rose horribly burnt and pinned under the motorcycle. Luckily, there is a plastic surgery spa/retreat within binocular distance. Here, Dr.Keloid and his Martin Scorsese eyebrows will nip, tuck and save Roses's life!!!
This might be a good time for Dr.Keloid to test his new skin grafting theory. He'll use morphogenetically neutral grafts of her own skin! Perfect! Let's do it!
"What we're going to do is a little out of the ordinary." Dr Keloid
Everybody is happy and 2 months later Rose is just coming around with no scaring. The grafts have done the job. Hart is back in Montreal and is awaiting word when it's ok to pick his girl up.
But all is not as well as it should be with Rose. She's hot, sweaty, getting... Naked!
Everybody is happy and 2 months later Rose is just coming around with no scaring. The grafts have done the job. Hart is back in Montreal and is awaiting word when it's ok to pick his girl up.
But all is not as well as it should be with Rose. She's hot, sweaty, getting... Naked!
"OH,GOD,THAT FEELS SO GOOD!" - ROSE
By the time our character reach their destination it's a full on panic and the story continues to draw you in and keep you interested, even if Montreal is full of very creepy rapey dudes.
Every mention of this film states that it's an AIDs analogy, and it's pretty spot even though it predates the epidemic panic in the early eighties by a few years. You could call it an analogy for pretty much anything spreads.Hmmmm jam. Cronenberg has said that the premiss of the film makes little to no sense, but it's Cronenberg, absolute. And what he does with a virus film is much better than most.
Rose, while patient zero and the cause of the mayhem, is a character that we don't want hurt or even stopped. It's just a very curious journey to see her interact with the outbreak. I'd start thinking, what would happen when she runs out of blood and everyone's already infected everyone. Shit's deep! And to know that Marilyn Chambers( star of breakout mainstream Porno "Behind the Green-door" fame, is the glue here is rather impressive. Oddly this was her only "serious" role and she soon returned to the probably more profitable world of adult entertainment.
In 1977 Cronenberg is 4 feature films deep and his trajectory is set! He'll go on to take cerebral film making to new highs and dark depths and we'll continue to feel uneasy watching them. His recent output hasn't been too strong in the body horror genre he arguably defined, but check out any title and I guarantee you'll see his dark eye in there.
" 'SCUSE ME, I DIDNT MEAN TO TOUCH YOU" - BALDING MAN
We get a great audio commentary from Cronenberg himself, an interview and a career spanning documentary "The Directors: David Cronenberg". It would have been cool to have some updated content, but Cronenberg's interview is great and unfortunately Marilyn Chambers passed away a few years ago.
Released in 1977 "The Eaten Alive"is a Tobe Hooper films that he thought would capitalise of the success of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Hooper has indeed interfered with production in the middle of filming due to artistic differences according to some people involved with production. The film was apparently not popular in its home land of the United States and this is why it often emerged under different titles ("Eaten alive, Legend of the Bayou" or "Starlight Slaughter"). At Fantastic Film Festival Paris, he won several awards. It includes Neville Brand (Judd), Mel Ferrer (Harvey Wood), Marilyn Burns who played Sally in the first "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Robert Englund "Freddy" for whom it was a first big role.
I'll be honest; Eaten Alive is a film I never 'got'. The film was banned in Australia and its first official release was the Umbrella DVD from back in the day. I remember watching the Umbrella disc (this may have been 2004), it was one of the only few Hooper films I had not seen. My memory is faint but I recall not being a fan, of course it had 'Chainsaw' to meet up with in terms of expectations. I watched it once, and did not think about it again. Over the years however I have come to appreciate Hooper more for his wackiness and ideas. Upon this second revisit I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it really was.
A young prostitute fled a Louisiana brothel. It is night and she is looking for a place to sleep. There it is a hotel lost in the middle of nowhere (Starlight Hotel) is a large house almost ruined and very dirty. It is received by Judd (the hotelier) real maniac, former war hero and misaligned sex, in short a real insane one. His pleasure is chasing its customers, rushing into a pond where his hungry alligator that devours is located. This film although a little wobbly at the start, takes time to pick up and rest assured Tobe Hooper creates an excellent production of horror. It is bloody and the atmosphere is murky at will. I found that there were some lengths at times building up but also a lot of very intense scenes.
It clicked with me this time, upon watching it reminded myself of an episode of 'The Twilight Zone'. The film is structured in a way that 'guests' begin to show up at the Hotel one by one. Through this we follow their journey, whether it be a family who needs to use the rest room, or Robert England coming by to harass crazy old man Judd. Breaking it down, it feels like mini TV episodes, however by the end everything falls together. We follow these individual stories and see the horrible events that happen to them. The rich and vibrant colours add to this surreal atmosphere, with rich reds seeping through the windows, or the gothic purple vibe of the swamp. Upon his second visit I realised how insanely colourful it was, giving it one of the most unique distinct looks of 70's horror. The films pacing is good, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat awaiting what will be next, when Judd snaps its moments of intensity that cause fear.
What makes "Eaten Alive" is the environment which is made of sticky swamp mist and fish reeks at the distance, the croaking amphibians. Judd is a character tortured by the most powerful madness that I could see in cinema history: it exceeds Spinell, Torrance, Ed Gein, Bates, with this inner fever like a tormented Vietnam that erupts in a paranoid schizophrenia in relation to his beast, pure hellish; and we must see this movie just to understand what agitates, tempted by sin, and full of character that contains symbols Hooper always inserts by innuendo willingly playing with a music that he himself made with Wayne Bell and graphic effects rather well brought in this fragmented universe that looks like a psychosis. A very good film, not so terrifying that it certainly, but one of the most fevered movies genre cinema could offer.
Eaten Alive comes recommended, being Hooper, it is well written, has amazing atmosphere, and suspense. Its a step above the average grindhouse film as Hooper himself is an intelligent hippy who makes films with underlying themes and concepts. Overall do yourself a favour and pick up this forgotten gem.
This new Blu-Ray from Glass Doll films is a revelation. The previous DVD release did not do it justice, in fact was probably one of the contributing factors to not liking the film upon first visit. The old transfer was dark, murky, had ghosting issues and so much grain to the point where it was unbearable. This new Blu-Ray is presented in its original aspect ration of 1.85:1. The film is incredibly clean with little to no traces of dirt or specs. The black levels are rich and there is no compression or artefact issues. The colours finally stand out, its like watching an entirely new film, reds and blues bleed on screen. The grain is there but a natural layer and blends in well providing us with detail not previously seen.
Presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, the film sounds great. Dialogue is clear, the previous DVD sounded very muffled at times with cracks and pops. None of that is found here, it is clean and precise. The films score really does blast too, making use of the mix.
Most Australian distributors will usually skimp out on the extras, giving us barebones releases. I have to give Glass doll films a round of applause as they have compiled an insane amount of extras into this release, creating the most definitive version of the film to date.
24 Page Booklet
Audio Commentary by Producer Mardi Rustam, Actors Roberta Collins, William Finley, Kyle Richards & Make-Up Artist Craig Reardon
Exclusive Audio Commentary from The Terror Transmission team Jason Andreasson & Matt G. Paradise
Blood on the Bayou – A Brand New Interview with Tobe Hooper
The Gator Creator - Archival Interview with Tobe Hooper
My Name is Buck – Archival Interview with Robert Englund
The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend Of Joe Ball
5ive minutes with Marilyn Burns - Jason Andreasson interviews Marilyn Burns
Special Tribute to Marilyn Burns: Short testimonials with Amy Steel (final girl in Friday the 13th Part 2), Brinke Stevens (90s Scream Queen par excellence), Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave), Lynn Lowry (Shivers and Cat People), as well as Bill Johnson (longtime friend of Marilyn and Leatherface in TCM 2), R.A. Mihaloff (Leatherface in TCM 3) Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley, Linnea Quigley & Steve Railsback.
Extended interview with John Dugan (Grandpa in the original TCM)
Still Gallery Slideshow
Alternate Credits & Title Sequences
2 Radio spots
7 Theatrical Trailers
From the first frames Alfred Hitchcock builds the visual and musical elements to a sensational tension and subliminal eerie atmosphere. Over the course of the film these elements are consistently increased becoming more threatening and unnerving. The suspense is started subtly but ends strongly.
For example, small things that we'd take for granted, like being stopped by a traffic cop, Hitchcock drives the voltage in situations like this to the highest peak. The arrival at the Bates Motel is the culmination of the initial basic tension that actually began in the first 30 minutes. But there in the rainy night when the "BATES MOTEL" roadside sign lights up, you realize that this place guards dark secrets.
Marion Crane embezzles $ 40,000 through her employer and thus is on the run. When in the evening she is too tired to continue to drive, she stops at the unnasuming Bates Motel, one of many roadside stops. Here she meets the sympathetic and out of sorts, taxidermy hobbyist Norman Bates who runs the Motel under the supervision of his unseen yet controlling mother. However, her respite is short lived and ends in one of the most shocking scenes in film history. From here it turns into THE groundbreaking horror spectacle (for 60s standards), a psychological thriller that required Hitchcock to add a spoiler warning to future audiences at the beginning of its initial run.
Feeling the guilt of what she has done in stealing the money she decides to return it, hopefully without notice. But one must be refreshed before such a journey. So she decides to take a shower.... Here horror and cinemas thrills changed forever. Marion is attacked in the shower by the jealous and possessive Mrs. Bates and murdered with a now iconic shaped knife. Panicked, Norman hides any trace (including the large quantity of money) should the police investigate the matter. A private detective hired by Marion's employers is soon despatched to find her and recover the money, but what he finds is that all is not as it seems at the Bates Motel. Also along for the search is Marion's sister and Marion's boyfriend Sam. Plot twists start HERE! and cinema has been trying to out-do it from here, sometimes to great effect, but this really is the "Mother" of them all.
In addition to Alfred Hitchcock's daring, often voyeuristic and brutal staging is the outstanding acting of Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Vera Miles (Marion's sister Lila), John Gavin (Marion's boyfriend Sam Loomis) and Martin Balsam (Detective Arbogast) and the groundbreaking and iconic score of composer Bernard Herrmann. After 55 years, Psycho remains the origin of modern horror! Everything in Psycho works to perfection! An exceptional cast, where each embodies his or her character as if it was the last role they have to play. The scenario is worked brilliantly, we go from revelation to revelation until the great final scene. A master piece from the beautiful cinematography and sound design complete the package. In a genre that has since given us films such as "The Shining" or "Silence of the Lambs", Psycho is absolutely essential viewing.
Psycho 2: 4/5
The film was released in 1983 and directed by Richard Franklin and screenplay by Tom Holland. Staring Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Vera Miles (Lila Loomis) and Meg Tilly (Mary Loomis) it was, for me a very pleasant surprise. Indeed it was not at all easy to follow up the masterpiece of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. With few exceptions, the sequels of a successful films are often very poor. Either they offer an almost identical story and bore the audience, or they give a story that deviates too much from the previous film and confuse us. "Psycho 2" to my great satisfaction does not fall into the trap and offers a scenario that is both a sequel (This starts with the shower scene from the first film and Bates incarceration in a psychiatric hospital) but also a very well done story with multiple twists.
After 22 years spent in a psychiatric hospital, Norman Bates is released and returns home to the Bate Motel, despite the insistence of Lila Loomis (Marion's sister in the first film) who is still haunted by the murder of her sister. The current manager has turned it into a brothel which greatly displeases Bates. He is forced to take a small job in a restaurant where he befriends a co-workerMary (Tilly). Norman has apparently accepted the death of his mother and trying very hard not to relapse.
Yet strange events make him ask lots of questions. Is his mother still alive? Surly not...right? But there are questions that need to be answered. After that, everything follows with multiple twists that are still very chilling. This sequel which is quite different from the first does not suffering at all from the comparisons. It is very original and exciting.
To summarize, although knowing that there will be none better than the first, Richard Franklin and Tom Holland realized there is a nice gamble at the sequel game.
Psycho 3: 4/5
This third installment released in 1986 and directed by Anthony Perkins himself from a screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue stars Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Diana Scarwid (Maureen Coyle), Jeff Fahey (Duane Duke) and Roberta Maxwell (Tracy Venable).
The beginning drags a bit long, the suspense is gone, the history is no real surprise.
For the viewer who has never seen the other two there is not enough evidence to really understand all of the Bates story. The film is fairly coherent as it picks up the story where "Psycho II" had left us. Some reminders of the other two films are given to us like the murder of the shower, and the character of Madame Spool. Unfortunately this is not enough. As for the positives, Anthony Perkins is still great in the role of Norman Bates and his chemistry with Scarwid is appealing.
Maureen Coyle really resembles Marion Crane (see the first film). She's a mentally unstable nun who has been living at the Motel. After an attempted suicide she thinks she sees a religious figure and is saved by Bates. And sparks fly!
A drifter named Duane Duke is also staying and has his own agenda as things at the hotel start to get out of hand.
Unfortunately the film at this stage becomes a bit too self-referential and Perkins tries his best to use Hitchcockian stylings as much as he can. The film upon its relates was well received (heck, even Roger Ebert gave it a positive review). Yet this film is a decent entry in the series where it fills in a few more of the backstory we didn't previously know and a must for fans of Norman Bates.
Psycho IV: 3.5/5
This fourth installment of the Psycho saga addresses an interesting topic and it is different from the other two sequels. The scenario is quite original, a radio program talking about matricide (Killing ones mother).Norman Bates, now married, calls to talk about his childhood and his murderous acts . Radio talk show host Fran Ambrose is discussing the topic of matricide with her guest Dr. Richmond, Norman's former psychologist. Norman calls the show, using the alias "Ed", to tell his story. Most of the film thus passes through the Norman adolescence and shows the conflicts he had with his mother which makes us understand a lot about her personality and finally shows us her murder and that of and his stepfather. Even if there are some rather long scenes they are useful to the film and we learn back story. To sum it up "Psycho 4" is pretty interesting and it is absolutely worth watching, especially if you liked the others. Also Psycho IV can be seen as the REAL 'Bates Motel', giving a backstory in detail and showing what drove Norman to be the way he ended up.
Psycho (1998): 3/5
In a unique cinematic experience, Gus Van Sant launches the extreme challenge of returning the Hitchcock film shot for shot, but in colours and with fresh actors. Apart from the tribute to the master, without being a total plagiarism (arguable) or a transposition, he creates an exercise in style succession of incredible virtuosity. The result is breathtaking: a film that is both identical to the original and gives a completely different effect. Besides the significant modernization of the female characters and much less conventional, color and radiate light and it become the essence of the new film. So props to Christopher Doyle, the brilliant director of photograph. I think to fully appreciate this unique approach is essential to properly remember the Hitchcock movie because the interest is in its rewrite and not in suspense. The ideal would be to see both films simultaneously propose that, for some sequences, the bonus interesting around the controversy surrounding this film. This remake has grown on me over the years; I originally hated it and thought it was a complete outrage and insult to the original, but knowing the directors work, I then realised maybe there was more to it under the surface.
Bates Mote: 1987 3.5/5
First of all, this is not the current TV series 'Bates Motel'. It's a 1987 pilot of a TV show that attempted to spin off the Psycho Movie. The Bates Motel Pilot is more of a 'haunting ghost story' rather than a slasher storyline.
Bud Cort plays Alex West, a psychiatric patient who inherited the Bates Hotel from Norman Bates after he passes away in a mental institution. Add an annoying offsider by the way of Lori Petty that hangs around like a bad smell and the producers thought they'd have a good TV show.
Had the pilot been picked up, it seemed to be a 'Twilight Zone' show of sorts. I also assume it was supposed to follow the 'guest of the week' formula of storytelling as per the pilot: a guest stays at the Bates Hotel, they would face their demons and there would be some supernatural resolution by the time they checked out. Continuity isn't one of the shows strong points - the show doesn't fit into the Psycho continuity as by the time Psycho IV is released, it clearly ignores the events of this pilot as Norman Bates is alive and well in that movie.
As for the product itself, a MOD DVD-R, the video and sound is pretty good. I guess anything from the official source is better than the many bootlegs floating around out there. My only regret is the cover design that they chose for the DVD - some people will of course get confused with the current TV series and the original painted VHS cover of Bud Cort holding a hotel check-in book with 'UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT' stamped across it was pretty good.
Still, for Psycho completists like me, I'm just happy to own this one.
The Psycho Legacy: 4/5
The documentary consists essentially of interview excerpts and commentary film clips with participating directors and actors, from "Psycho" influenced filmmakers and particularly fans. In chronological order it is received on each of the 4 parts of the film over 20 minutes. In as much as both Alfred Hitchcock and Norman Bates Actor Anthony Perkins are sadly passed away, on one hand both are back on some unreleased archive material. The extras are extensive and consist of further interviews and various "Deleted Scenes" from "Psycho" films.
actor. Since the film has no story line and interviewed persons themselves or "represent" their memories, there is no actor in the strict sense.
The film makes one curious about the film series. "Psycho" has seen a lot of attention and media coverage over the years, the sequels were but largely ignored. The film gives the impression that the parties were aware and have very much a reason to invest a lot of energy and creativity in the sequel. This contributes enormously to rethink the vision concerning Part 2-4 and you may look at in a different light.. My curiosity is aroused by this documentary; in any case to see more of Norman Bates. Thus, the otherwise highly entertaining and informative documentary. Furthermore, I must confess also that I have forwarded to this doc, however there are major spoiler . I recommend therefore, be sure to first to look at the film series and subsequently to deepen the documentary. The rare archival footage is worth it alone.
Video/ Audio: 4.5/5
The psycho set includes an array of different films from different time periods; resulting in differing source materials.
Psycho (1960) 5/5:
Shot in black and white, this print comes off very clean with little to no specs. The black levels are rich and the detail is impressive, this is the transfer universal used for its original blu-ray and it still holds up very strong.
The Audio is a brilliant 5.1 master mix, so all detail is heard in every shot with no pops or crackles. The score really come across strong, giving rich detail to the orchestral classic.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1
Audio - English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Psycho II (1983) 4/5
/Psycho III (1986) : 4.5
This transfer is the same we presume as the U.S Scream factory release, both use the same original aspect ratio. The colours are rich and vibrant with the sun bleached cinematography not looking washed out. There is natural grain and no sign of print damage. Psycho 3 has the better transfer of the 2, also it could be de tot the better source material when it was shot. The outdoor scenes remain strong yellow desert and rich black levels indoor,
Both films use a another 5.1 DTS master mix, which overall impresses with its level of detail.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1
Audio - English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Psycho IV (1990) [Blu-Ray] 4/5
First Time on Blu-Ray, presented in its original spect ratio, this is like Bates Motel a TV Movie. The film stock is clean with no dirts or specs. In HD there is a lot of detail, with natural grain and black levels.
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 5.1
Duration - 93
Psycho (1998) 4.5/5
The Remake is presented in its original aspect ratio. Its actually the better looking film of the box set, shot on a high budget and 35mm Film. It is an incredible clean print, skin tones and backgrounds are natural. The colours are rich and vibrant and the black levels come off with no digital grain.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 5.1
Duration - 104
Bates Motel (1987) 4/5
This was a shot for TV movie, however we have to say that the transfer was very impressive. For years only poor quality bootlegs have existed from VHS rips. His is taken from the film elements.
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Duration - 90
The Psycho Legacy (2010 Documentary) 4.5/5
Shot Digitally, this mixes old archive film and VHS footage. The digital stuff does look strong and looks perfectly fine on DVD, no Blu is required.
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Duration - 90
This boxset is absolutely packed and the most complete package you will ever find, it contains documentaries, making offs, commentaries etc. Psycho 4 and BatesMotel have no extras, however they are covered in the psycho legacy.
The Psycho Legacy alone would have been the ultimate extra, but via vision have really outdone themselves.
Audio Commentary with Stephen Rebello, Author of "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho"
The Making of Psycho documentary
In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy
Hitchcock / Truffaut audio interview with scenes from the movie
Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
The Shower Scene: With & Without Music
The Shower Sequence: Storyboards by Saul Bass image gallery
The Psycho Archives image gallery
Posters and Psycho Ads image gallery
Lobby Cards image gallery
Behind the Scenes Photographs image gallery
Publicity Shots image gallery
Psycho II (1983)
Audio Commentary with screenwriter Tom Holland
Cast and Crew Interviews
2 Theatrical Trailers
4 TV Spots
Option to play the film accompanied by vintage audio interviews with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, Richard Franklin, and Alfred Hitchcock (first fifteen minutes, then the track goes back to the film's 2.0 stereo mix).
Psycho III (1986)
Audio Commentary with screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue
Watch the Guitar interview with actor Jeff Fahey
Patsy's Last Night interview with actor Katt Shea
Mother's Maker interview with special make-up effects artist Michael Westmore
Body Double interview with Brinke Stevens
Theatrical Trailer and TV Spot
Psycho Path documentary
International News Reel Footage
Additional Shower Scene
The Psycho Legacy (2010)
Full panel discussion with Perkins
PSYCHO reunion panel
A tour of the Bates Motel
Revisiting PSYCHO II: Sequel scripter Holland and Galluzzo go over original blueprints, newspaper clippings and articles and possessions left behind from PSYCHO II director
Shooting PSYCHO II interview featurette with cinematographer Dean Cundey
A visit with PSYCHO memorabilia collector Guy Thorpe
PSYCHO on the Web
The Hyaena Gallery presents serial-killer-inspired art
'Shock have gone all out delivering us a 7 Disc Blu Ray set of Vincent Price classics; check out our review.'
The Abominable Dr Phibes: 4.5/5
This wacky 1972 horror film is an incomparable masterpiece with all its ingredients.
The plot involves a held for the general public figure fatally injured organist and theologian named Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) makes a 10-member team of doctors for the death of his beloved wife in charge, having previously performed on her an unhappy running operation .
His revenge perpetrated Phibes on the most creative way of murders that has ever existed in the history of film. Here, the embittered man holds strictly to 10 Old Testament curses. He is assisted by his beautiful assistant Vulnavia (North Virginia).
"The Abominable Dr. Phibes" impresses with its unique atmosphere. In the audience, a high visual stimulus is triggered, which comes through the almost fairy tale-beautiful like scenery and the wonderful soundtrack of Basil Kirchin to its fully impacting deployment.
For all fans of old English horror films, with their atmosphere forests and romantic mansions, this film is hard to recommend. Unlike the old "hammer" movies such as the Dracula series with Christopher Lee, at the conclusion of the film might be a little faltering, it comes here to a tense climax.
For me not only the best Vincent Price movies, but actually the highlight of the set; a B Grade gem that knows what it is and is not afraid to show it.
Dr Phibes Rises Again :3/5
As a child I was very creeped out by his film - with many years distance can this film probably not be described as creepy.. It's hard to describe this film - perhaps macabre trip fits quite well:
The completely insane Dr. Phibes is after three years out of his coffin and travels with his assistant Vulnavia and the corpse of his beloved wife Victoria to Egypt to bring back to life the latter there. In itself, a bit strange. The whole is still much more absurd: he takes pretty much with all his household, so that it can play the organ in a secret chamber in Egypt. Also worth mentioning is the bizarre outfits or the gramophone similar device and the knob on the neck, can talk to the Dr. Phibes and his mute assistant or the corpse of his wife ever told anything.
It is a pleasure to listen to his pathetic monologues, while Hindu delt at the disco moderately illuminated organ in front of him (some easy-listening tinged), while staring mistaken, making wild gestures. If he does not do this straight, he comes up with the most abstruse ideas murder to carrying all who stand in his way on most macabre afterlife. He is haunted by two somewhat goofy Polzisten which also provide for very amusement. This whole strange trip is nice illuminated brightly, accompanied with polyphonic music. Not as strong as the original; but worth a watch.
Witchfinder General: 4/5
(Review taken from editor James Ackland)
1968 was a watershed year for horror. Night of the living dead ushered us into the classic Zombie age and Rosemary’s Baby into the world of physiological horror and occult.
Meanwhile in areas in East Anglia, England, Michael Reeves was mixing a historical cautionary tale with some soon to be well repeated horror tropes.
It’s 1645 and the english civil war is producing all sorts of social unrest. During this time the idea of Witchcraft bringing a curse on the town was perfectly accepted and lawfully punishable. Those who sought to benefit from purging a witch and their evil could profit handsomely. It’s religious righteousness running out of control.
Enter Matthew Hopkins, a real life figure who turns lawyer to Witch finder. Responsible for over 300 executions in a 2 year period. Here in Reeves’ adaption of Ronald Bassett’s book of the same name we see Vincent price play the witch finder and what a fantastic job he does.
In the town of Brandeston, Richard Marshall (Ian Ogilvy) a young solider of the parliament stops to visit his priest and his lover Sara (Hilary Dwyer ) whom he is to marry. All this sets the dominos for what is to come as Hopkins and his drunk and violent associate, John Stearne (Robert Russell) appear and decide to earn some money by listening to the local rumour mill which puts catholic priest in league with SATAN!
Hopkins uses Sara as sexual blackmail to save the priest (also her father) from torture. However this can only last so long as the vicious bloodlust and jealousy of Stearne grows and his relationship with Hopkins starts to take a dark turn. I can’t say that the logic of proving witchcraft in the 17th century was entirely sound, but people seemed to agree that if you’re submerged in water, should you float (with help from SATAN of course) or swim (again… with SATANS help)… you’ll be sure to caught out a witch… or you just drown and well… that’s that.
On learning of the towns witch purge, Marshall absconds from his duties to return and investigate the executions.
I do dislike going to much into plot. So if I’ve caught your attention… then this film will not disappoint! Vincent price, riding his on a long and successful career was challenged to go to straighter places for Witch finder General. This was to pay off and add a much needed darkness to the film. Already a mainstay in American and British horror, Price famously was accused on set by director Reeves of overacting and subsequent filming incidents occurred. Only after viewing the finished product did Price realise what Reeves was striving for.
While technically the lead but not the star, Ian Ogilvy gives a strong performance and ends the film in a stunning bout of emotional fury. Also of note is the beautiful Hilary Dwyer in her cinematic debut.
Reeves, director of She Beast (1966) and The Sorcerers (1967) with Boris Karloff was riding high and was an up comer of the new english cinema. Unfortunately it would be his last feature as the 25 year old passed away soon after completion of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose.
Watching this with fresh eyes i simply am in awe of what Reeves accomplished. At 25, to make a classic of the genre AND put Vincent Price in probably his most compelling role to date. Simply awesome!
Tomb Of Ligeia: 3/5
Like its predecessor, we also see "Ligeia" in England - and this time you notice that Corman broke with the previous recipe for success, and made many things differently than in the previous films.. This is clearly equal to the radiant bright outdoor shots in the first third of the film. The Fox Hunt, and many people. Not a single man on a castle. One feels almost, rather than a Poe movie to see here a Hammer film at this time.
Corman wanted Poe's Stories tackle looser than before, the story is not designed so gloomy, typical horror effects and action are clearly in the foreground. That's not bad, but usually makes the film, especially in the second half. The film can not maintain the quality that promises in the first third. Soon, plays back everything only in "Castle" from which is but little moody, and it will all so'n bit like in the first episode of "The Harrowing Mr X", Morella. And Lady Rowena, initially drawn as a tough woman with a penchant for unusual; must then also run only concerned throughout the area and acts of fear. As I said, it is very common, and a bit boring. Price is obviously good as always, very good to be here in a shrill look with sunglasses and Wig. He was only missed because Corman wanted him somehow to appear much more younger. Corman had not planned to Price, he wanted a young performer. Under pressure from the studios, it was then again to Price. Ultimately a it was a blessing since Price yielded many ideas for the film. And some of the scary effects are not bad! The horror scenes and jump frights for example gives me goosebumps every time. Corman should have probably noticed how scary this is - why he parodied it after a few minutes in the same way.
The film was then not a great success but it was not the reason why Corman made it the finale. He had already decided by now to put an end to the Poe series because he simply ran out of ideas. A good decision to flatten the risk or to copy itself was large - I mean, so many films in 4 years. Vincent Price after the cycle was in a number of pretty trashy films before him, "Witchfinder General" in 1968 helped to comeback in England - where some of his best films should arise in the following years.
Fall of the House of Usher :4/5
Such a classic of course is now no more that what he once was: shocking and incredibly exciting.
Especially at the beginning of the film which is based on a beautiful and subtle creepy atmosphere. In fact, this is quite exciting. However, the whole thing, the more you will learn the secrets, somewhat sobering. It is thought more than what comes out at the end; I find yet that Poe with the border between genres (Hounted House, ghosts, horror, zombie) plays it over and blaspheme the audience, as he has classified the film.
The film has entertained me well and at times has very good acting, great scenery and actual voltage. In today's fast-paced movies this rarely comes really better on the screens.
As always impeccable service from Vincent Price . A classic for all lovers of cinema Corman ( and fantasy in general since history is not only drawn but Poe adapted by Matheson ) . However not the best of this duo , but an impressive start for the film, which would initiate the Poe cycle and has already many of the ingredients that made its success : scary atmosphere , lavish sets despite the budget, dream scenes composed of a succession of color filters , closed-door , finesse dialogues and characters, great Vincent Price in the ambiguous role , inevitable rise of madness ... A very beautiful film I recommend once again to all those who are horror fans of this era.
The Haunted Palace: 4/5 (Reviewed By Editor Glenn Mizstal)
"The Haunted Palace" is a 1963 fantasy film "Roger Corman" (based on the short novel "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" of "HP Lovecraft" (1890- 1937), written in 1927 but published in 1941 by his great admirer "August Derleth" that made know his friend (matched only) and inspirer by posthumous editions) with Vincent Price.
In 1765, Arkham, the necromancer "Joseph Curwen" (Vincent Price) is burned alive for witchcraft before his castle in pronouncing a curse on his torturers, "Ezra Weeden" (Leo Gordon), "Micah Smith" (Elisha Cook Jr.), "Benjamin West" (John Dierkes), "Ian Willet" (Frank Maxwell) and "Gideon Leach" (Guy Wilkerson). 110 years later, his great grand son back, "Charles Dexter Ward" (Vincent Price), and his wife "Ann" (Debra Paget) go to Arkham, but are greeted with an icy manner by a hostile population and suspicious except by Dr. Willet (Frank Maxwell). Despite the presence in the city of malformed human creatures, Charles and Ann still choosing to visit the castle of the cursed ancestor which awaits a disturbing guardian "Simon Orne" (Lon Chaney Jr.). While there, Charles becomes more and more obsessed with the picture of "Joseph Curwen" and a strange personality change begins to affect ...
The success of previous films from Roger Corman based on the works of "Edgar Poe", "The Fall of the House of Usher" in 1960, "The House of Torture" in 1961, "The Buried Alive", "The Tales of Terror "in 1962 and" The Raven "in 1963 prompted production to give this little masterpiece the title of a poem by this author" The Haunted Palace "quoted at the beginning and the end of this film is actually an adaptation of the short novel "HP Lovecraft", little known at the time: "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", which he shows the outline. In the novel, the action happens in Providence (here in Arkham, Massachusetts imaginary city, invented and often used in many new related to "Cthulhu Mythos" with "Lovecraft") and "Joseph Corwin" is reduced to life through his descendant (ie no split personality). However, more than in the novel, the influence of the book "The Picture of Dorian Gray" in "Oscar Wilde" is all the more strengthened. Also mentions of "Ancient Ones" as "Yog-Sothoth" and "Necronomicon", inseparable from the Lovecraftian universe, are present in both works. As for the medieval castle brought stone by stone from the Old World, it is more inspiration Poe who has never set his stories in America but still in Europe, Lovecraft did mention to him that ancestral property, but brings to Film an important element in the disturbing and gloomy atmosphere that emerges with its back doors leading to a cellar with a monstrosity. Arkham City, traveled by hybrid deformed mutants and cemetery wrapped in fog, the atmosphere particularly scary and creepy, the resurrection of the mistress of Curwen, "Hester Tillinghast" (Cathie Merchant), for Latin incantations, the disturbing presence livid servants "Simon Orne" and "Jabez Hutchinson" (Milton Parsons) who survived by black magic, the relentless posthumous revenge "Joseph Curwen" by the fire on the descendants of his persecutors, the fascination with the table and duplication of progressive personality "Charles Dexter Ward" beautifully sung by "Vincent Price" perfect in his element, the careful mise-en-scene and art of "Roger Corman" obviously inspired by the novel, the perfect cast, all made this film a complete success, which subsequently fail to later adaptations of "HP Lovecraft".
House On Haunted Hill: 4/5
This American Production directed by William Castle, released in 1959 under the title of "House on Haunted Hill" with Vincent Price (Frederick Loren), Carolyn Craig (Nora Manning), Richard Long (Lance Schroeder), Elisha Cook Jr. (Watson Pritchard) Carol Ohmart (Annabelle Loren), Alan Marshal (David Trent) and Julie Mitchum (Ruth Bridgers) is a mixture between the English detective stories Agatha Christie and the good old ghost movies.
William Castle includes all the cliches of the genre (pool of blood on the ceiling, spectral apparitions vat of acid, falling chandeliers, hanging, severed heads etc ...). For its part perceives it pretty quickly that Vincent Price (Frederick Loren) is the great manipulator of all this and very quickly we guess why. This short film (72 minutes) is a real horror theater play with a few twists that maintain a certain intrigue.
Early History: The billionaire Frederick Loren organized at the request of his wife Annabelle, an evening in a sort of modern mansion (Building dating from 1924 and designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, as the Ennis House) deemed haunted .He receives five guests (one of his company typists, a jet pilot, a journalist, a psychiatrist and owner of the horrific mansion). The game is to make sure they stay alive for 0:00 to 8:00 am and in this case, they will earn 10,000 dollars. Fear and Annabelle moved have mysteriously disappears; found hanged.
The house, is it really haunted or a murderer is hiding there among the five participants?
I really feel they have seen or read this story dozens of times. For me there was no real surprise, nothing new under the sun (many writers including police and British fiction had used the same strings).
As for the house; I do not find it beautiful at all seemed to me very cold. It's more like a penitentiary has a beautiful Gothic mansion.
I will not speak of the finale that ends abruptly. Anyone with Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen knows the remake of "House on Haunted Hill" with its splatter scenes or films like "Saw" and its associates. The film does not rely on gore but stands on psychological horror, shock and suspense which always create excitement. A highly fun and cliche gem.
Masque Of The Red Death: 3.5/5
In the early sixties, the American low-budget films Roger Corman turned a series of Gothic horror movies, which (at least in name) are based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. One of the most interesting films of this series is its adaptation of the Masque of the Red Death. As a side story even Poe's short story "Hop-Frog" was integrated.
But who expects a simple horror film, could be disappointed. Although we find the usual stylistic elements of horror movies of its era - the gloomy castle, garish red fake blood and gruesome deaths - but the film lives primarily by its artificial-looking, almost surreal atmosphere. The film is more like a fairy tale for adults, as a horror thriller. Corman's cameraman, Nicolas Roeg (later became famous as a director of "do not look now")., Enter opulent and fascinating images Particularly impressive: The contrast between the colorful interior of the castle and the gloomy world outside, in the only death brings color.
Just so no misunderstandings: Even though the film is partially staged very artfully, it remains a sometimes trashy-looking low-budget horror movie. In addition is the pronounced theatricality that is typical of the film adaptations of Poe-Corman / Price, certainly not any. But who can inspire the Gothic horror this era, should watch the movie necessarily. Through its visual qualities, he is among the best of his time.
The Last Man On Earth: 4.5/5
Dr. Robert Neville is apparently the only survivor of a global epidemic in which people have become like creatures in zombie / vampire form while the other have died. He waits three years from now and only the day can move outside because the monsters are only active at night. He is the dumb revenants technically superior intelligence but to the extent he is powerless. So, he clips the day through the empty city and collects everything he can use to survive.
That he increasingly loses focus over time and insanely threatening to become is only one problem.
The inventories are running low and the memory of past days is to him. Then he discovered one day impaled corpses .... but have not brought him to the track.
Is he not alone?
The Last Man on Earth in the year 1964 is the best in my eyes version of Matheson-book I am Legend.
The Omega Man was my favorite so far, but against this coherent black and white film he faded unfortunately somewhat.I am Legend with Will Smith has no chance for my taste against both films and the unspeakable I am Omega with Marc Damascus ; which was pure trash . Only The Quiet Earth, which is applied similarly, can compete with The Last Man on Earth rudimentary ..... but is a matter of taste.
The film itself impresses with its dystopian and threatening atmosphere and the times desperate, sometimes cynical monologues the Neville brings with it. It was actually very far ahead of its time, But the bombastic soundtrack, the settings and the subtle forms of revenants are 1A. The Last Man on Earth is in my eyes a cult film of the well could use a little more attention.
Included are the outstanding Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia and Umberto Raho.
Ok, so we have 9 films in this collection ranging from the late 50's to the early 70's; so quality is going to vary; however cinema cult have pulled together the best possible looking transfers for this region B release. To begin House on Haunted hill and Last Man on Earth are black and white. They present strong black levels and an great amount of detail in each shot, as you can see by the screen grabs. I have personally been used to seeing very poor transfers of house and last man in the past, with ghosting issues. Thankfully there is none of that here.
The Poe Corman era is the next bunch. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp and there are no issues with DNR or compression. Overall the sources used for these six films transfers is in great shape and it is easily the best they ever looked on home video. They are all in widescreen and make use of the scope. These actually look the best; due to their lavish production values and high quality film materials.
Last we have the british era with Witchfinder and the Phibes titles. Both films look great as colors are nicely saturated and appropriately vivid, black and contrast levels look consistently strong throughout. Details once again look sharp, grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. The Grain is heavy but very natural for the early 70s British Stock.
Shock really outdo the audio too; this is a mix of different audio types from different time periods. However they are presented uncompressed and as crisp as possible. Th Poe era has beautiful orchestral scores that really boom in the 2.0 Dobly mix. These were films obviously during the mono era. but they sound insanely good with no cracks or pops.
The UK Boxset is missing some films from our set; the Arrow set includes:
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (Not Included)
TALES OF TERROR (Not Included)
THE RAVEN (Not Included)
THE HAUNTED PALACE
THE TOMB OF LIGEIA
However we get these which the UK set is missing;
The Abominable Dr Phibes
Dr Phibes Rises Again
House On Haunted Hill
Masque Of The Red Death
The Last Man On Earth
Our set is worth getting for the sheer variety of films.
Shock have outdone themselves. Brining together an epic set of 9 Vincent Price classics. It comes house in a beautiful box and they present to us the best video/audio possible for a PAL release. Please do yourself a favour and pick this up, its a great introduction to Vincent price and gothic Horror in general. You need this set!
Actors - Ben Johnson/Andrew Prine/Dawn Wells/Jimmy Clem/Jim Citty/Charles B. Pierce
Audio - English (DTS-HD 2.0)
Running Time - 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1
Year of Release - 1976
Movie : 6/10
One of the biggest problems in Hollywood today is setting movies in a time period that whilst reflect the decade it is set in, shades of the actual period it was filmed in glint through on the screen and . It's not any movies fault really, it's hard to film a movie a year or so after the real life events happened. The 1976 movie 'The Town that Dreaded Sundown' is no exception. Even though the token pieces of 1940's are there : Polyester suits. Fast stylish cars.The period portrayed very well in this movie however, but I couldn't help wondering if some music from the 1940's could have been used to fill in the gaps.
Not to mention that these 'real events' are slightly overshadowed by a comedic bumbling Sherrif's department of Texakas. Except for the main Sherriff of the town, who comes across as a law enforcing offical of Amity Island determined to hunt down his shark, the rest of the Sherrif's department come across as a slightly more serious episode of Dukes of Hazzard, complete with car chase. One has to contemplate if such large comedic elements was deserving of a place in such a serious movie were lives were lost.
An all-Star cast also isn't present in this movie, except for Dawn Wells, Mary-Anne from Gilligans Island who makes an appearance as a victim of the Phantom Kilelr in the second half of the movie. this for me was when I stood up and took notice of the movie and started to pay attention for such a big Hollywood star about to be offed on screen.
I will mention that this movie reminded me very heavily of Friday the 13th Part 2. I'm not the first one to point this out, but just look at the cover - there is a guy wearing a Pillowcase on his head going around and killing people (and very creatively with a trumpet I might add).
There was no haunting music, or first person camera angles as seen through the eyes of the killer, but as the term 'slasher' was not even in it's infancy, it wasn't even born yet, one would have to suggest that 'The Town that Dreaded Sundown' inspired a lot of Slasher movies such as Friday the 13th. It should also be noted that the movie predates the original Halloween by 2 years. So a classic yes, not without it's problems mentioned, but definately holds it's place as inspiration for later slashers.
So, was this story true? Well, no movie that claims to be 'Based on real events' can be 100% accurate on screen. The movie is very historically inaccurate to the events that happened in real life. Without dwelling on the movie and what really happened too much, according to Wikipedia, I'm talking about victims and dates. These are simply not true to fact. I really should have learnt my lesson from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 'Based on real events' indeed.
Video : 6/10
It's the standard Blu-Ray transfer and looks good on the TV screen. I will mention that there was some white spotting here and there and in one scene, some celluloid scratching. Over all, video is fine.
Audio : 6/10
The movie is a transfer is solid and sports an English (DTS-HD 2.0) audio. Nothing out of the ordinary to report here.
Extras : 0/10
None. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Not even the movie's trailer. Well that's what the back of the packaging said as well. Very disappointing. The Blu-Ray disk is Barebones.
Overall 6/10 : Great movie. Great Transfer. Barebones release.
Some years before the general public witnessed the stunning and surreal SUSPIRIA, first time director and screen writer Dario Argento reinvigorated the Giallo genre with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. A taught little slasher mixed in with the witness turned detective thread.
After his success in co-writing the screenplay for Once upon a time in the west with Bernardo Bertolucci for Sergio Leone, Argento turned to his producer father Salvator to finance his first film, based on the Fredric Brown novel, The screaming Mimi.
Here we find Argento establish many of the visual tropes we've come to love from him.
Deep reds (pun intended), black gloves and the faceless killer slashing its way through a number of gorgeous women.
Tony Musante plays Sam, a writer in Rome who witnesses the brutal attack of a young woman in an art gallery. Is this the work of a known serial killer? Once his statement is taken he is forced to stay in town and is under suspicion for the crime. The police cannot find sufficient evidence to find the killer and now it is now up to Sam to clear his name and obtain his passport to ensure his freedom and the survival of himself and his girlfriend.
Suzy Kendall (Circus of Fear) plays Julia, his lover who inevitably becomes entwined in the mystery. While her role is limited to potential victim, she has one scene that truly pushes a young actresses limits.
Reggie Nalder fans look no further. His name is buried deep in this one, but if you enjoyed him in Mark of the devil, he's here in all his creepy goodness. I was so happy to see his burnt visage in this film. A real treat!
I loved the mystery unfolding here in this film. Character motive is always in question and it takes you right to the end to find the killer unmasked.
Now, let's say that Argento's father wasn't an established film producer. Would he have had a much harder time getting the film made? Maybe. But does it bare any effect on his writing and directing ably? NO! He leaps out of the gate and really gives the film a stylistic flare and runs with it. His finger prints burn into this film, and he also doubled as the killers hands! So there you go! An Ennio Morricone score certainly helps as well! It's gripping and adds much to the suspense.
On the Blu Ray:
Cinema Cult bring us bird in an aspect ratio 2.00:1; or so we think it is. The back of the box just states 16:9. Its a very strong transfer and we noticed more information on top than the US VCI Blu.
We are not entirely sure what the original aspect ratio is regardless; it maintains rich colours and deep black levels. This appears to be the same transfer used by Arrow films in the UK.
Seeing how the US (blue underground) and UK (Arrow disc) are OOP and going for crazy prices; Cinema Cult save us once again bringing us it locally at a insanely good price.
I have vivid memories of walking down the video store as a kid, and hiring a movie called scarecrows. The movies tagline was ‘trespassers will be mutilated’. It was released on the premier video label, I remember hiring it but remembered very little details of the movie. The many years this little gem was unavailable, and in extreme frustration no legit copies were available until late 2000’s. In Australia we never had a release since the 80s video tape. Today Cinema Cult are here to rescue this call classic, and expose it to the audience it deserves. To begin the titles “scarecrows” sounds pretty corny, you think a movie about killer scarecrows would be a mindless slasher. That isn't the case, scarecrows is an intense, character driven ride of a movie. That leaves you wondering and guessing throughout the entire film.
Written and directed by the insanely underrated William Wesley, this film stands as a high achievement of the late 80s horror era. The film involves a group of Military thieves who take off with $3.5 million in cash from a military base; holding hostage the a pilot and his daughter. There are five military members including one female. One of the robbers jumps out of the plane, betraying his fellow team members, He then lands in a field which is inhabited by the scarecrows sitting on crosses. The traitor soon discovers a house, the is house completely abandoned in the middle of nowhere, inside the find a photo of three men presumably taken in the 1920s. Already the film has an amazing southern gothic vibe. The film never feels boring with the pacing being very tight, even moments when they're trying to track down the traitor who took off with the money, leaves us on the edge of our seats seeing if he will get away. He finds a truck and takes off, while the hostage daughter and female military member find the old house and stay in there, while the others are out looking for him.
Eventually the truck breaks down; but here's the twist, the truck never had an engine. This is when the film delves into the surreal and invites the viewers to the nightmare. The traitor feels as if he's going insane, trying to escape the money, he then gets cornered by the scarecrows. From here on the scarecrows begin to pick off each robber one by one on this abandoned property. What makes Scarecrows so unique is its atmosphere, the whole film is a mystery, why are the scarecrow is coming to life. The great thing about the film is that it leaves you wondering what the cases, are they going insane, is there a supernatural element, were the previous farm owners devil worshippers? These ideas get played out. One of the military robbers eventually come up with a theory to why this is happening to them. It is such an eerie moment that it will send shivers down your spine.
In terms of characters we discover each of the military robbers personalities, in the end of are they really bad people? By the way do you like gore? Because scarecrows has buckets of it. Cinema Cult thankfully presents us the unrated version of the film; which involves dismemberment, guts coming out of a bag, decapitations and so on. But the gore is well spaced out; so when the moment so horror to come it takes you off guard. Scarecrows is a brilliant little forgotten late 80s gem which was sadly straight to video; it got lost in the piles of rubbish direct to video movies of the time. Please seek it out and you'll discover a eeire, character driven, amazingly paced gorefest.
On the Blu Ray: 3.5/5
Cinema Cult present Scarecrows original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 , it is a very strong transfer taken from the 35mm print. There is no damage on the print and it is extremely clean, no specs or dirt to be found anywhere. The film also has very rich black levels which is important because most the film takes place at night, to transfer so good you can see every bit of detail in the dark, This film has amazing cinematography which adds to the freaky nature, Cinematography was by Peter Deming, who also did Hellraiser and Evil Dead 2. Audio wise Cinema Cult present a English (DTS-HD 2.0) track. No pops or crackles to be heard. Being low-budget film the score is very important, and it comes out clear and crisp as an orchestral piece.
The Blu-ray comes housed in a traditional Cinema Cult casing, with stunning artwork and nice hard slipcover. We also have a trailer for the film and a few other trailers for other cinema Cult titles. The fact that we have this movie now on blu ray in Australia is a good enough reason to pick it up alone. Our local release is the way to go value wise. Do yourself a favour, pick up and discover a truly forgotten horror gem.