on November 15, 2013
So many movies from the home video era seemed to disappear without trace (justifiably so in some cases), but a few well-remembered titles are getting a second life thanks to Scream Factory’s fan-friendly compilation discs. Are they forgotten gems or mouldy oldies?
Cellar Dweller. This one brings back memories, but they’re all bad. A cartoonist revives a monster in the basement of his home – a monster that killed the previous owner years ago (also a cartoonist. Hmmm). It has that low-budget, 80’s horror vibe but couldn’t really be described as a good film. It tries hard to be liked, but it’s a little flat - kind of like your kid sister.
The Dungeonmaster, a.k.a. Ragewar. This is a segmented fantasy-horror film featuring wizards, monsters and cheesy FX (plus Blackie Lawless, the physical embodiment of those three things). A romp!
Catacombs, a.k.a. Curse IV. Directed by David (“Puppetmaster) Schmoeller, this was one of the “lost” films from Charles Band’s Empire Pictures. It remained unreleased for years after the company’s bankruptcy. This is a reasonably atmospheric, modern day gothic horror about a demon imprisoned in a monastery. You’d be annoyed too if you were trapped for 400 years in celibacy central.
Contamination 7, a.k.a. The Crawlers, a.k.a. Troll 3 (the film contains no trolls). Tree roots activated by nuclear waste become carnivorous and cause death and mayhem in a small town. You read that correctly. This was produced by Joe D’Amato’s Filmirage company, noted for making off-kilter genre cinema. Watch it with pruning shears handy.
Overall, this is an uneven but worthwhile collection for fans who remember the old days of home video - the DVD equivalent of regression therapy.
on June 17, 2015
What we have here are 4 films, 2 on 2, 1-sided discs. 3 of which are 'classic' films released by Empire Pictures. The other film is hardly even a cult classic (more on that later). I'll begin with 1988's Cellar Dweller...
CELLAR DWELLER (1988)
Plot: A comic artist dies in a fire, after his art comes to life. Years later the deceased comic writer/artist's house is turned into an artist's colony. A woman shows up to the place, to begin re-vamping her idol's comic book series. Soon enough her creations become a reality...
My Thoughts: Cellar Dweller is essentially a love letter to Charles Band and Empire Pictures in general. Throughout the film various posters for other Empire films can be seen, Re-Animator (1985), Troll (1986), Ghost Town (1988), etc. The film falls in the same vein of movies like Pumpkinhead, The Unnamable (which still needs a dvd release), and Rawhead Rex. It's essentially about a large demon-esque creature which runs amok. The creature design is fairly cool, the beast is identical to the Cat-Ghoulie from Ghoulies. There's also quite a bit of gore. The score is perfect and the film musters up some atmosphere as well as mood. The effects aren't that bad either. The performances from Yvonne Decarlo, Debrah Farantino, Brian Robbins, Jeffrey Combs, and Vince Edwards are fairly decent. Everyone else is relatively bad or clunky. The dialogue isn't too bad and the story is unique although it was later utilized in the Tales from the Crypt episode Korman's Kalamity. However, there's very little character depth although Robbins' and Debrah's characters are still likeable. Yvonne hams it up a bit, making for a fun villain. The film is short (1 hour and 18 minutes) and full of campy-fun.
FUN FACTS: Jeffrey Combs only has a cameo. John Carl Buechler directed the film and is a special effects wizard who worked on various films with various people including Roger Corman. He worked on other Empire films including Troll, From Beyond, and Terrorvision. Don Mancini wrote the film and he worked on all six Child's Play films.
Cellar Dweller is paired with 1985's Dungeonmaster. Unfortunately it contains no special features.
Video: A fairly good transfer free of grain or other blemishes. However because it was straight-to-video at the start of the film a couple ripples are noticeable. Other than that it's absolutely fine, they go away quickly.
Audio: Glorious and crystal clear.
My rating: The Film: 3.5/5 stars Disc: 1.5/5 stars
Next up is...
DUNGEONMASTER (1985) AKA RAGEWAR
Plot: An brilliant young man's (Paul) girlfriend (Gwen) is captured by an evil wizard (Mestema; Richard Moll) who forces him to play a game consisting of 7 segments.
Segment #1 Stone Canyon Giant: Paul must face off against a giant statue.
Thoughts: The stop motion is fantastic and the segment is directed and written by David Allen (Laserblast, Day Time Ended). It's a fun but short trial.
Segment #2 Demons of the Dead: Paul battles undead knights controlled by an evil creature named Ratspit.
Thoughts: The makeup is ghastly but terrific. Ratspit is actually a Troll puppet from 1986's Troll. This trial was made by John Carl Buechler. This one's also fast paced and entertaining while being atmospheric yet tense. Although the dialogue is dreadful.
Segment #3 Heavy Metal: The awesome band W.A.S.P. holds Gwen hostage while Paul tries to save her.
Thoughts: I love W.A.S.P. the segment has a little bit of suspense and is fairly entertaining. It was directed by Charles Band!
Segment #4 Ice Gallery: Paul and Gwen wind up in a wax museum full of notorious figures from history including Jack the Ripper, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and Albert Einstein!?
Thoughts: This one is pretty entertaining and really cool. The makeup is awesome.
Segment #5 Slasher: In under an hour, Paul must stop a psycho from killing Gwen.
Thoughts: While it's an interesting plot, it's the weakest and dullest segment.
Segment #6 Cave Beast: Paul faces off against a rock throwing creature.
Thoughts: This is the shortest segment and it's fairly weak but amusing due to the monster.
Segment #7 Desert Pursuit: Paul is in a car race with some Road Warrior rejects.
Thoughts: While fairly amusing, this segment is also quite dull.
Final Thoughts: The film has its ups and downs. It begins well but the later segments decrease in fun and quality. Richard Moll gives a great performance while everyone else is pretty hit or miss. It's a mixed bag as the Mestema parts are good along with the first 4 segments. The last two segments aren't too bad but aren't that interesting either. Slasher is by far the worst segment and can be skipped or laughed at. The score is good, the effects are good, but everything else is uneven. The film is overall a fun campy good time.
FUN FACTS: I've got nothing.
Dungeonmaster is paired with Cellar Dweller and its trailer is included.
Video: Really good and clear with only a tiny bit of grain.
My Rating: As a whole the film: 3.3/5 Individual- Trial #1: 5/5, Trial #2: 4/5, Trial #3: 3/5, Trial #4: 4.5/5, Trial #5: 1.2/5, Trial #6: 2.5/5, Trial #7: 2/5. Disc: 2/5
Plot: A monastery holding a demonic secret is re-opened by a priest and a schoolteacher.
My Thoughts: This was directed by David Schmoeller, who I like very much. He's made quite a few favorites of mine including 1979's Tourist Trap and 1986's Crawlspace. The film is actually not that bad although it suffers from uneven pacing and a few poor performances. Overall it's a decent effort with a good score and decent makeup.
Fun Facts: David has a cameo and co-wrote under a pseudonym. The statue sequence cost $5,000. Over the course of filming, the script was rewritten numerous times.
Catacombs is paired with Contamination.7 and has a commentary track.
Video: Great with no blemishes or grain.
My Rating: Film: 4/5 Disc: 3/5
OH MY GOD!...
Plot: Radiation turns plants into killers!
My Thoughts: This is a movie about killer plants, how could it have gone so horribly wrong!? First off it's directed by Joe D'Amato, one of my favorite Italian horror filmmakers. He brought us the classic Anthropophagous (1980) and the awesome Beyond the Darkness (1979). But then again he also made Troll 2! This movie was also advertised as Troll 3! When Joe cares, his films are decent but when he doesn't-they suck. At least Troll 2 is hilariously bad, this is just ugh. The performances are atrocious, the effects aren't too bad (sometimes), the score sucks, the writing is awful, and the pacing is dreadful. This film is extremely dull and boring. Its got a little gore but it isn't enough to sustain the rest of the film. This movie should be forgotten. I tried to sit through it, twice! I first saw it on cable a couple years ago and couldn't finish it. I gave it a second chance and regretted sitting through it again. It really doesn't belong in this set or in any set but it does-sadly.
Fun Facts: NONE!
Paired with Catacombs with no extra features.
Video: Not too bad, although it doesn't matter because this film sucks.
My Rating: Film: (my first negative) -1.5/5 Disc: 1/5
OVERALL THOUGHTS: This is not a bad set by any means. Dungeonmaster, Cellar Dweller, and Catacombs are well worth the purchase and it's nice to see them all finally get a DVD release. However Contamination.7 should be avoided, I love Shout Factory but Jesus there are much better b-movies that deserved the spot instead of Contamination.7. All in all it's highly recommended.
TOTAL PACKAGE RATING: 4.9/5
Disc 1: Dungeonmaster/Cellar Dweller
Disc 2: Catacombs/Contamination.7
on November 11, 2015
This is a decent collection of B horror movies with an 80's feel in a nice 4-pack for a reasonable price.
1. Cellar Dweller - If you like Tales from the Crypt type horror stories with a dash of humor you will enjoy this one. The visuals are clean and the actors amusing enough to follow with interest through the whole movie. The monster is sufficiently creepy but the comedy throughout puts a damper on any sense of "horror."
2. Dungeonmaster / Ragewar - Neither title is particularly suitable for this fantasy flick which is like a low-budget Tron mixed with an even lower budget Time Bandits. That said, the movie is actually quite entertaining once you get past the title, and is a heavy dose of nostalgia if you enjoy 80's vintage computers and 80's hair bands.
3.Catacombs - Slow moving and with a very thin story, this movie works only because a few of the monks in the movie have interesting character quirks and the scenery.
4. Contamination.7 - Probably the most stock "horror" movie in the whole set if you are looking for that sort of thing, but nothing particularly special.
on November 4, 2014
This is a great movie bundle. You get 4 movies to watch, two which are actually good, one being extremely cheesy, and the last being just bad. But, if you were like me and bought this bundle just one for movie, you may be pleasantly surprised with the other movies. Definitely a great movie to bring to a watch with a group of friends.
Cellar Dweller and catacombs are worth it alone. I'd pay 10 bucks each for them. What a deal, buy this now if you like original/good 80's horror, with some of that good ol' cheesiness.
I'm going to provide some details since there aren't any here. Scores are from that movie site. ;)
Catacombs - 1988 - 4.4/10 - A demon has been trapped in a monastery for 400 years, now a girl has gone there to study and accidently unleashes it.
Cellar Dweller - 1988 - 4.5/10 - A cartoonist's creation comes to life and kills him and now a new cartoonist revives the old drawing, bring back the monster.
Contamination.7 (AKA Creepers) - 1993 - 2.0/10 - Radioactive trees attack a small town.
The Dungeonmaster (AKA Ragewar) - 1984 - 3.1/10 - A demonic wizard challenges a computer programmer to a battle of sorcery vs. technology and the programmer's girlfriend is the prize.
As far as I can tell, these movies are pretty much unreleased elsewhere and this is a good price for 4 not-so-gemlike flicks for those of us who dig our trash horror. I've seen them, they are trash, but fun. I could not find any specs but at this price we can pretty much assume full screen transfers. There will be 2 discs, 2 movies per disc, hopefully single-sided. I preordered, hope this gives all of you some good info.
on June 4, 2014
What you get are two DVDs, each with two movies, for a decent price. The movies may not be top-tier (especially CONTAMINATION .7), but they are enjoyable B-movie cheese. Don't expect too much and you will have a good time. Two of the movies (the aforementioned CONTAMINATION .7 and THE DUNGEONMASTER) are in their original aspect ratio and the other two (CELLAR DWELLER and CATACOMBS) are in full frame.