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Pumpkinhead (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Pumpkinhead (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Lance Henriksen
Price: $22.45
3 used & new from $22.45

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult Classic finally given the respect it's due!, September 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
DISC REVIEW:
I love Pumpkinhead (see movie review below), it's a favorite horror, especially around the Halloween season, and one of my favorite movie monsters. The film has never been released on video or DVD in it's proper aspect ratio, so, those like myself who didn't catch it in it's limited theatrical release in 1988 have yet to see it in all it's glory... until now!

Scream Factory once again takes a cult classic title and gives it the proper respect it is due. The remastered picture looks absolutely gorgeous with rich colors and clarity that preserve the wonderfully spooky imagery director Stan Winston brought to this creepy tale of backwoods revenge. The image is presented in a sumptuous 1080 HD and there is remastered DTS audio to go with it. It's like seeing it and hearing it for the first time.

As for the extras, there are commentary tracks from writer Gary Gerani and the creature FX team and about 3 hours of interviews and featurettes to chew on. Everything from the previous MGM DVD special edition is there, as well as, some new interviews from producer Richard Weinman and actor John Di'Aquino (Joel), as well as, an interview filled tribute to the late Stan Winston... which brings about my only criticism. The Stan Winston tribute documentary goes on for about 15 minutes too long. At about the 35 minute mark, the interviewees seem, at that point, to be rambling on and it becomes tedious and loses a bit of it's focus. Some judicious editing would have kept this at a more reasonable length and still preserved the essence of it's fond look back at working with the FX legend and the impact he had on these individuals. There's a lot or repetitiveness as it drags on and would have lost none of it's heartfelt purpose with losing a few minutes.

But, aside from that one meager critique, this is an absolute must have for fans of this flick. It is a gorgeous looking edition filled with extras that take you back behind the scenes of the making of a cult classic that sadly never got the proper attention it deserved... until Scream Factory got a hold of it. Another great collector's edition from the awesome folks at Scream Factory! Pumpkinhead has truly been resurrected at last!
MOVIE REVIEW:
Pumpkinhead tells the grim tale of a group of partying twenty-somethings from the city who head into the Appalachian Mountains for a weekend of drinking and dirt biking in a secluded cabin and run afoul of a local legend who is quite real. While stopped at the rural general store of kind local man Ed Harley (the legendary Lance Henriksen) drunk jerk Joel (John D'Aquino), who already has injured a girl in a drunk driving accident, takes out his dirt bike and proceeds to carelessly run over and kill Harley's son Billy (Matthew Hurley). Enraged with grief, Harley turns to a mountain woman who is rumored to be a witch named Haggis (Florence Schauffer) to evoke the demon Pumpkinhead that Harley saw once as a boy. The demon is said to grant vengeance to those who call upon it. But, as both Harley and the young vacationers find out, evoking Pumpkinhead comes with a powerful price as not only will it stop at nothing till all it's prey, including good natured Chris (Jeff East) and his girlfriend Tracy (Cynthia Bain), are dead but, may take Harley back to Hell with it when it's done. Can a now regretful Harley stop what he started and save the remaining youths or will the demon of vengeance have all their souls before it returns to the pumpkin patch from whence it was called? Pumpkinhead is a very spooky horror dripping with Halloween atmosphere thanks to the great visuals from first time director and make-up SPFX legend Stan Winston. With a truly great looking creature and production design that oozes All Hallow's Eve, this is a welcome edition to any Halloween season movie viewing. Aside from his awesome monster, Winston not only gives us some great settings... such as Haggis' cabin, the pumpkin patch from which Pumpkinhead originates and an abandoned church where our remaining characters flee to... but, he also creates some nice suspense, tension and chills. The biggest factor in the film's effectiveness though, is imbuing the title creature with a great sense of character and menace. Pumpkinhead is a vicious and unforgiving demon who shows no mercy and even seems to enjoy taunting and then killing his victims. When Ed Harley, who is cursed to feel it's victims' pain, changes his mind about calling it, the creature still will not stop till all are dead. Winston, who also co-wrote, also creates likable characters for us to fear for. They are all pretty good people with Joel being the exception and even he shows us he has a soul when he realizes that his friends are being slaughtered because of his selfish actions. A key to a good horror is empathy with it's characters and here we feel for them as the backwoods demon relentlessly pursues them for a nasty death. Winston gets good performances out of his cast with Henriksen creating one of his best roles in Ed Harley and the young cast members, like East and Bain, creating likable victims to root for. D'Aquino does a great job of making Joel an unlikable jerk and yet being very convincing in his moment of redemption when it comes. Film vet Buck Flower has a strong presence as mountain man Mr. Wallace and Schauffer is downright chilling as the witch, Haggis. Overall Pumpkinhead is part slasher, part backwoods horror and part monster movie with some great special FX to present it's title creature and the carnage it creates and surrounded in some very spooky visuals that evoke the spirit of Halloween in almost every shot. It is an underrated horror that got a sadly ineffective limited release back in October of 1988 and then dumped onto VHS and then DVD. It should have gotten better and thankfully, it has developed the cult following it deserves and Pumpkinhead himself is now regarded along with Giger's Alien as one of modern horrors most iconic creatures. Sadly, the film was followed by three awful sequels and if any character deserves a reboot and another chance, it's dear ole Pumpkinhead! Also stars Brian Bremer as Bunt Wallce, a local boy trying to help the city folk escape the monster's wrath and Big Bang Theory's own Mayim Bialik as one of the Wallace kids. *** 1/2
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2014 10:40 AM PDT


Nothin' to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975)
Nothin' to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975)
by Ken Sharp
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.82
100 used & new from $9.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun look at the genesis of the legendary band in their own words., August 26, 2014
A very entertaining and nostalgic look at the forming and rise to fame of one of the greatest and most successful rock bands ever. Told in the band’s own words along with interviews with dozens of others including label people, other musicians and even fans, this fun book documents how the four founding members of KISS met and came together to become this now legendary rock band through recollections from Simmons, Stanley, Frehley and Criss themselves. There are some nice details from witnesses and those involved on how KISS fought tooth and nail to get respect, shows and finally the success they all dreamed of as youths growing up in New York. There is a real nice assortment of rare photos to accompany all the anecdotes that make up the book and even if you are not a big fan of the band itself, it is a very interesting documentation of how music legends were made and their path to stardom from the inside and outside. A recommended read for music fans of all types and especially fans of KISS!


Big Trouble in Little China [Blu-ray]
Big Trouble in Little China [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Kurt Russell
Price: $9.12
56 used & new from $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Big Trouble is big fun!, August 6, 2014
Once again director John Carpenter was ahead of his time with this spin on the type of SPFX filled supernatural/martial arts flicks that were being made as part of the revisionist Hong Kong cinema of the 80s and 90s like Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain (1983). And like his masterpiece The Thing, Big Trouble failed at the box office and would only years later be recognized and loved for the classic it is. As an avid fan of Carpenter, I was there opening night in 1986 and my friends and I loved it and immediately started quoting characters and making references, years before it got the attention it deserved. And I am proud to have championed this flick from the beginning. I had yet to see Zu but, heard enough and saw enough from the film to know what Carpenter was doing. The Hong Kong cinema wouldn’t catch on here in the US till the early 90s and sadly it was only then when movie fans realized that Carpenter nailed the spirit and frantic fun of those movies perfectly with this deliriously entertaining flick.

This martial arts/action/fantasy/comedy starts out with obnoxious but, lovable truck driver, Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) visiting his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) the owner of a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. When going to the airport with Wang to pick up his bride-to-be Miao Yin (Suzee Pai), Burton meets spunky lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) and witnesses the abduction of Miao Yin by a ruthless Chinese street gang. Now the macho but, out of his element Burton is pulled into a world of sorcery, martial arts and monsters as he vows to help Wang retrieve his fiance’ from evil 2000 year old sorcerer Lo Pan (James Hong) whose marriage to the green-eyed Chinese girl will render him corporeal once more and unleash him upon our world. Armed with his bravado, Wang, Gracie and good sorcerer Egg Shen (Victor Wong), Jack enters an underground world filled with supernatural warriors and lethal creatures and faces the fight of his life but… “It’s all in the reflexes” for this wannabe hero! Simply put, Big Trouble In Little China is an absolute blast of a good time with Carpenter at the top of his game delivering an action packed and FX filled adventure that is a delight from start to finish. He populates the film with some of the liveliest and most colorful characters in a Carpenter film and proves that the master of horror and suspense could also master comedy and fantasy too. And not to mention an exhilarating martial arts flick as well, as the movie is loaded with intense and thrilling action scenes to go along with the monsters and magic. And like the Hong Kong films that the script… by Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein, adapted by W.D. Richter… pays homage to, the movie perfectly mixes the hand to hand combat with the supernatural elements to provide top notch entertainment. Carpenter once again scores the film… and sings the film’s theme song with his band The Coup De Ville’s… and frequent collaborator and cinematographer Dean Cundey returns to give a sumptuously colorful look to the incredible ancient China themed production design and the perfectly framed shots by the master director. It’s a true Asian fantasy world they create beneath modern day Chinatown to match the ancient China setting that the film’s this is inspired by generally have. And it may be Carpenter’s most elaborately staged movie up to this point with it’s spectacular sets, grandiose fight scenes, make-up and SPFX even with all the big action sequences and FX of his previous film, the sci-fi/romance Starman. And Carpenter gives it all a lightening fast pace and energetic intensity… as well as, a generous dose of wacky humor. And as for the cast, Kurt Russell is obviously having an over the top good time with one of his greatest characters, the lovable lug Jack Burton. He’s an obnoxious legend in his own mind but, Russell makes him once of his most endearing portrayals and certainly one of his most quotable characters aside from Snake Plissken. The rest of the cast including Dennis Dun as the noble and love-struck Wang, Cattral as the adorable yet feisty Gracie, Wong as tour bus driver and sorcerer Egg Shen and Hong as the eccentric and powerful Lo Pan are all having the time of their lives with their comic book style characters and it really helps solidify the live action Chinese fantasy world in which the film is set. Sadly under-appreciated at the time of it’s release, this film is now getting the love and respect it deserves and has a large and faithful following that will drop a quote from one of it’s many delightfully hilarious lines at any given time. It’s a funny, action-packed fantasy and simply one of John Carpenter’s best films in a versatile filmography. A real blast and one of my favorite movies. Also stars Donald Li as Wang’s bud Eddie and Kate Burton as naive reporter Margo Litzenberger. If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?!


Without Warning (Bluray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]
Without Warning (Bluray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Jack Palance
Price: $26.99
8 used & new from $17.58

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic resurrected!, August 6, 2014
DISC REVIEW:
The folks at Scream Factory have done it again by bringing this hard to find cult classic to DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time ever. This 1980 low budget sci-fi flick (full movie review below) has been out of reach for decades and Scream Factory has resurrected it in all it's cheesy fun, 80s glory. The combo DVD/Blu-Ray pack features a remastered print with a really nice package of extras. We get commentary from director Greydon Clark along with all new Scream Factory exclusive interviews with leads Christopher S. Nelson and Tara Nutter, producer Daniel Grodnick, legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey and make-up FX master Greg Cannom. They are all fun recollections about the making of a lost cult classic... and a personal guilty pleasure of mine. Scream Factory always gets some fun and informative interviews out of these people, treating us to an inside look at a film the likes of which would normally not get... but strongly deserves... such star treatment. A lot of enjoyable nostalgia here.

As for the print itself, the film looks as good as it probably ever will. There is some flickering and extra grain in some of the darker scenes. Probably due to flaws in the existing print revealed when those scenes were lightened but, as a film left in a closet somewhere since the 80s, this is probably the best source material available and considering it's age and the low budget nature of it's production, it still looks really good and the colors are rich and the image crisp. The sound is clean and very good quality and overall, despite any minor flaws in the source print, this looks far better then one might expect and the overall quality far outweighs those minor anomalies. Another great job by Scream Factory giving a cult classic the respect it deserves. Definitely recommended!

FULL MOVIE REVIEW:
Yet another early 80s gem that I had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen at the great Oritani Theater in Hackensack N.J. This delightfully cheesy sci-fi/ horror flick tells the story of an alien hunter who preys on humans using flying, fanged starfish-like creatures as weapons and a full 7 years before Arnold tangled with the Predator. Without Warning focuses on two young couples (Tarah Nutter, Christopher S. Nelson, Humanoids From The Deep's Lynn Theel and a young David Caruso) who decide to go camping at a remote lake despite the ominous warnings from strange local gas station owner/hunter, Joe Taylor (Jack Palance before City Slickers revived his career). Soon upon arrival at the secluded lake, they become the targeted prey of the extraterrestrial creature and his flying minions who have apparently staked out this area as their hunting ground. Now running for their lives and with no one believing them, they have only the gruff off-balanced Taylor and crazy war vet and conspiracy theorist "Sarge" (Martin Landau before Ed Wood revived his career) to turn to. Apparently these two have had dealings with this evil E.T. and have been equally ostracized for their claims so, maybe now it's time to stand and fight. This 1980 film is cheesy fun and brings a lot of unintentional laughs such as one youth's attempt to describe the alien threat to a bar full of drunk locals and the alien actually stopping to steady a swinging lamp before continuing his pursuit of a victim. Greydon (Satan's Cheerleaders) Clark directs from a script with no less than 4 writers listed for some reason. He gives the flick a rather pedestrian pace but, he treats his material seriously as do the cast, especially Palance and Landau who properly chew up the scenery with Landau especially cranking up the nuttiness. Aside from them, though, the acting and dialog is strictly what you'd expect from a B-movie like this and the barely adequate performances suit the material oddly well. The production is strictly low budget with some passable alien SPFX and OK gore from future FX master Greg Cannom with the alien head by the legendary Rick Baker. There isn't a lot of action till the last act but, it is entertainingly worth waiting for and the fact that everyone in the small lakeside town seems to be some kind of nut does go a long way to make up for it in the meantime. And who can pass on a three-way showdown between Jack Palance, Martin Landau and a 7 foot purple alien? Not me! Add in a typical 80s electronic score and some nice cinematography by frequent John Carpenter DOP Dean Cundey and you have a good example of the type of B-movie they sadly don't make anymore. Despite all it's inadequacies, it's heart is in the right place. Not a classic or great movie by any length but, it is a fun 80s `so bad it's good' flick to enjoy with a couple of beers and a few other flicks of equally enjoyable awfulness (like Laserblast for example). Without Warning also features appearances by film vets Ralph Meeker and Neville Brand as doubting locals and Cameron Mitchell and Larry Storch as a hunter and scout master, respectively, who are among the creature's first victims. Nostalgic 80s fun.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Ironically, the alien hunter here is played by Kevin Peter Hall who also played the Predator in the similarly themed, classic Schwarzenegger flick in 1987.


Oculus [Blu-ray]
Oculus [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Rory Cochrane
Price: $24.99
12 used & new from $16.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A smart, disturbing and sometimes downright scary horror!, August 4, 2014
This review is from: Oculus [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I am a big fan of Mike Flanagan’s low budget chiller Absentia so, I was very much looking forward to his next flick which arrives from Blumhouse Productions and is his first big theatrical release. And Mr. Flanagan didn’t disappoint. Supernatural horror starts out introducing us to two siblings, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) Russell. 11 years ago a horrible incident occurred in their home leaving their mother, Marie (Katee Sackhoff) and father, Alan (Rory Cochrane) dead, with 10 year old Tim incarcerated in an institution. From appearances, Alan murdered his wife and Tim killed him in self defense. It’s over a decade later and Tim has just been released and his older sister has come to help him get back on his feet… and destroy what she claims is the real culprit in their parents’ deaths. After years of treatment Tim sees the murders as a simple case of domestic problems and negative emotions gotten out of control. His father driven to torture and kill their mother and he, forced to defend himself and his sister by killing their dad. A tragic but, rational explanation. Kaylie believes it to be the influence of a demonic entity that lives in an antique mirror purchased by their father for his office. While Tim was away, Kaylie has been planning to prove her belief, once and for all, and has tracked down and procured the mirror through her job as an antiques dealer and brought it to their still vacant former home. She convinces Tim to join her on calling out and destroying the sinister force that she believes, from her research, has left a trail of bodies and tortured souls for over 100 years. Is Kaylie delusional and in need of treatment herself, or has Tim’s treatment created a more practical way of rationalizing an even more horrible truth? Director and co-writer (with Jeff Howard) Mike Flanagan crafts an intelligent, inventive and really creepy horror film that certainly has it’s share of out-right scares, especially in it’s last act. But, much like his spooky Absentia, Flanagan never bludgeons us over the head with the horror and thus keeps it effective by keeping us from getting numb to it. As with his previous flick, he doesn’t give us everything at once and plays with our heads for a bit as to whether Kaylie is creating a supernatural fantasy to avoid the realities of the domestic horror she witnessed or, is Tim candy-coating the nightmarish truth with the psycho-babble fed him by his doctors? The film is a moderately paced but, constantly unnerving and creepy build-up as the siblings delve deeper into the events that occurred over a decade ago and Flanagan… who also edited… deftly mixes in flashbacks to those horrible events and seamlessly blends them so that at times they all seem to be happening at the same time and in the same space. It’s really disturbing as we try to figure out if these two are finally reliving and facing what happened, or, is there an evil presence in that mirror that is happy to make them experience again the memories that torment them most. It’s in the last act where the full truth is revealed and I will say no more except to be ready for the film to deliver the goods when the time is right. It’s an intense and scary ride Flanagan takes us on to get our answers, made all the more effective due to the skilled and disturbing build-up by a director who makes good on his potential. Again, Flanagan also has an underlying theme about the effects traumatic events have on our lives. With Absentia it was the emotional effects of a missing loved one and not knowing their fate. Here it is growing up and living with the trauma of witnessing domestic abuses and violence. He weaves these into his story subtly so they are not intrusive to the plot but, they are there. And speaking of subtlety, that is one of the things I like about Flanagan’s work and especially with this film, he knows when to be subtle and when to get intense and he does both here to maximum effect. Sometimes less is more and Flanagan’s instincts are good at knowing when to feed us an underlying creepiness and when to outright scare the pants off us. It’s what makes Oculus work so well and made Absentia such a treat. He knows what degree to feed us the films elements and when. He is also clever with his use of the traditional elements so, they appear fresh. The director also gets good work from his cast with Gillan and Sackoff really standing out here with strong performances but, the acting is solid all the way around. No one ever goes over the top even when the film is in full scare mode, the performances stay grounded and thus more effective. He got good work out of Katie Parker and Courtney Bell (who has a cameo) in his last film and seems to have a knack for writing and directing strong female characters that aren’t stereotypes or caricatures. The film is not perfect, but, it’s flaws are very minor and I loved that when the blood does flow, it was practical effects as did a lot of the make-up and effects seem to be. If digital was used, it was excellently rendered so it was not noticeable which, in a film like this, is the way it should be. CGI ghosts and blood are not scary. Overall, I really enjoyed Oculus and how it was equally effective in it’s subtle moments as it was in the more intense ones. It never overloaded you with plot elements or the horror elements and fed you the answers to it’s mysteries gradually so it held your attention till it was ready to let you have it… and the final act does exactly that. A smart, disturbing and sometimes downright scary horror from Mike Flanagan. Also stars Annalise Basso and Garett Ryan as young Kaylie and Tim respectively and these two youngsters can act.


They Live (Collector's Edition)  [Blu-ray]
They Live (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Roddy Piper
Price: $16.99
40 used & new from $14.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Carpenter's alien invasion flick lives again in this great new release!, July 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
John Carpenter wrote and directed his second and last feature in the ill-fated Alive Films deal. This flick was a fun alien invasion, Sci-Fi/Action flick based on the short story Eight O'Clock In The Morning by Ray Nelson. Carpenter also mixed in some deft messages about class warfare and how the rich and powerful manipulate the government and media to reduce the rest of us to little more then slaves... a message even more relevant today then it was in 1988, with big corporations running our media and, to be honest, our government... but I digress...

The story focuses on unemployed construction worker John Nada (Roddy Piper) who through a series of events comes across a pair of special sunglasses that let him see the world for what it truly is, an alien run society where humans who collaborate and cooperate are made rich and powerful and those who don't, are coerced by subliminal messages placed in all the media to basically follow orders and do what they are told. If you're not one of the haves, you're little more then a have-not slave. Nada has nothing else to lose so, he decides to join a growing underground rebellion and fight back, taking reluctant friend Frank (Keith David) and accidental hostage Holly (Meg Foster) along for the ride. But, the aliens are everywhere and so are the traitorous humans that have sold out and John Nada and Co. have some pretty big odds to overcome if they are to find and eliminate the beings' hypnotic signal and wake the world up from it's alien induced slumber.

They Live may not be Carpenter's strongest work but, it is still a fan favorite and a lot of fun. The film moves fast and there is a lot of suspenseful action including a now classic fistfight between "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and The Thing's Keith David and the gunfight finale inside a cable TV office building. As usual Carpenter gives the film a nice look on a low budget with Gary B. Kibbe once again filling former Carpenter DOP Dean Cundey's shoes nicely with some beautiful camerawork. The political messages are a little heavy-handed but, there is enough action and aliens to even it out and the film has some really nice SPFX for a very modestly budgeted film especially those that portray the real world as seen through the signal blocking glasses. The film has some clunky dialog and it could have used some more time within the workings of the rebellion to get us a bit more endeared to the freedom fighters before they clash with the invaders but, the focus is on Nada and Frank and it is they who are left with the task of taking the bizarre invaders down and the film does have some very uniquely designed extraterrestrials to act as our villains. It is both one of Carpenter's lighter films and yet, ironically, one of his most politically and socially critical. As, despite the dire message, the film also has a very satirical sense of humor as well and that helps us past some of it's flaws as it doesn't take itself too seriously that we don't have a good time watching Piper run out of bubblegum and kick ass.

And as for our leading man, Piper does OK here. Carpenter hired him because he felt he had a look of someone who has lived a hard life and that works in the case of down on his luck Nada. Piper isn't the best actor but, he holds his on especially during the action scenes and only stumbles a little in some of the more dialog heavy moments. Kurt Russell would have been prefect but, Piper works better than expected. Keith David is good as always. He makes Frank a likable and honorable man but, one who we believe doesn't take any crap from anyone. Foster is a little stiff as Holly but, since she plays a woman thrust into a very surreal situation, it almost fits the part. There are also some solid small roles from frequent Carpenter collaborators like Peter Jason as the rebellion leader Gilbert and George `Buck' Flower as a homeless man who discovers the benefit of playing nice with the ruling alien elite. Carpenter and associate Alan Howarth again deliver a memorable score to support the film.

They Live is now considered a cult classic and I certainly agree. While it may have some familiar elements and common themes, it still comes across as a unique little movie and one with an important message that still resonates well over two decades later. And despite it's message being a large part of the film's plot, Carpenter wraps it with a fun, Action/ Sci-Fi coating to make it easily digestible. Piper may not have been the strongest actor to cast in the lead but, he does carry the flick and it's fun to watch him have a good time with the part even if he stumbles a bit in the film's more serious moments. Not Carpenter's best flick but, still very enjoyable and once again another film that has found it's audience years later. Again John Carpenter proves he is a director who is well ahead of his time.
The film is now available in this beautiful new transfer from Scream Factory!


Prince Of Darkness (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Prince Of Darkness (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Donald Pleasence
Price: $16.99
29 used & new from $16.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Carpenter cult classic in a beautiful new transfer!, July 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Prince of Darkness is a strange movie written by Carpenter and combining religion and theoretical quantum physics. It sounds like a contradictory combination but, it works better then you might expect. The story opens with the death of a priest who presided over a small inner city parish. Enter Donald Pleasance as another priest... who's name is never given... who discovers that the deceased priest was part of a secret society within the church called The Brotherhood Of Sleep. And this sect have been protecting a dark secret that may challenge the very core of what we have come to believe both scientifically and religiously. A team of college students, led by Professor Birack (Victor Wong from Big Trouble In Little China) and including Brian Marsh (Jameson Parker) and Catherine Danforth (Lisa Blount), are brought to the parish to investigate a strange cylinder filled with a pulsating green liquid in a locked chamber in the basement, as well as, the scriptures that come with it. They discover that the liquid is a form of the Anti-Christ and it seeks release in order to bring it's father, the Anti-God into our world. And as members of the team start to fall under it's powerful thrall and they all become plagued by the same strange dreams, it's terrifyingly obvious that the remaining team members are in a fight against an ancient evil that their science may not be able to contain.

Carpenter delivers a very odd but, effectively creepy film. It's has an atmosphere of dread from the start to the finish and presents a very chilling scenario that there may be things in existence that neither our religion or science may be able to handle. And as these are two things people most put their faith in, it is a disturbing concept. It also presents an interesting idea that Bible prophecies may have actually been warnings sent from the future as the dream effecting all our college science students appears to be exactly that. Carpenter also presents the possibility that certain Bible stories were put in place to cover more disturbing truths as the scientific knowledge to explain or understand the reality of it was not available. Basically we were told things in fable form because the science wasn't there to properly explain it and we weren't advanced enough to understand it. As someone who was born and raised Christian yet has always had an interest in science, I actually have had this thought myself occasionally and it was interesting to see the master filmmaker weave this theory into his plot. Carpenter also uses his low budget well and keeps the story, for the most part contained in the church. Again working with the fear of isolation as a horde of homicidal homeless people keep our besieged team members inside. Gary B. Kibbe provides the atmospheric cinematography and would collaborate with Carpenter on 7 more projects and he gives Prince a very unsettling look yet, rich with color. This is a strange film that may not appeal to everyone, it took me a few years and repeat viewings before I fully appreciated it and it's grown on me since I first saw it in 87 and wasn't quite sold on it then. The film has it's flaws, some of the make-up FX are cheesy and some of the violent death scenes, especially those perpetrated by the army of homeless people surrounding the church, lead by Alice Cooper, seem a little out of place in a film that starts out working in subtlety. But, since it does switch gears and become more of a traditional horror film in it's second half, as the possessed students try to kill or possess the others who are fighting against their former friends to stay alive, so, in the overall scheme they work fine. Some may not have patience for some of the science heavy dialog but, I though Carpenter's script does a good job of giving scientific explanations for some of the more supernatural elements of the religious scripture presented in his story.

Regardless of your beliefs, Carpenter poses some interesting questions and the film is really creepy throughout. And adding to the effectiveness is one of Carpenter's spookiest scores to date composed with frequent collaborator Alan Howarth. Overall, Prince Of Darkness is perhaps Carpenter's oddest and most daring film, in some respects but, yet another that wasn't all that well accepted at first and now has gained a following over the years and rightfully so. This flick may not be for everyone and it's mix of science and religion may not work for some but, I think it's an interesting and thoroughly creepy movie that not only presents some well executed traditional horror elements but, poses some interesting questions and theories about what we believe in as well. Also stars another Big Trouble In Little China, Dennis Dun in a fun role as a skeptical student. The film is now available in this beautiful new transfer from Scream Factory!


Ginger Snaps (Collector's Edition) [Bluray/DVD Combo] [Blu-ray]
Ginger Snaps (Collector's Edition) [Bluray/DVD Combo] [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Emily Perkins
Price: $21.78
13 used & new from $18.31

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic finally gets the release it deserves!, July 18, 2014
MOVIE REVIEW: Canadian horror opens in the prefab suburban neighborhood of Bailey Downs where some kind of wild animal dubbed the “Beast Of Bailey Downs” is killing the local dogs. But, Bailey Downs is also home to the emotionally troubled teenage Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins). The two sisters have a bizarre fascination with death, they recreate death scenes and photograph themselves in different methods of demise, as well as have a suicide pact. But, the older Ginger is starting her menstrual cycle and when the sisters are out one night looking to kidnap the dog of local mean girl, Trina (Danielle Hampton), Ginger has her period and the blood attracts The Beast, a wolf-like creature that attacks and savages her before it’s run over in pursuit of the girls by local drug dealer, Sam (Kris Lemche). But, Ginger’s wounds start to heal soon after and within days her behavior starts to become more and more aggressive and the anti-social Ginger starts transforming into a flirtatious high school vamp. But, an increased sexual libido and interest in boys isn’t the only thing growing as she is also starting to sprout thick hair in interesting places and a tail… not to mention she’s developed an appetite for the neighborhood dogs. Now Brigitte fears for her sister and turns to Sam, the only other witness to have seen the Beast, to try to help her save Ginger from becoming a monster. But as Ginger’s behavior becomes more and more dangerous and her nails and teeth are starting to grow and sharpen, will it be Brigitte and Sam that need saving?

Director John Fawcett, who co-wrote along with Karen Walton, creates a moody and sometimes gruesome tale that uses lycanthropy as an obvious metaphor for coming of age and the development of sexual urges but, despite the obviousness, he works it quite well into his horror flick that not only reminds us of the confusion of our teens but, provides plenty of chills and thrills as well. He populates his flick with characters that come across as real teens and not caricatures and only the sisters’ parents (Mimi Rogers and John Bourgeois) seem to be more your stereotypical, clueless adults but, it serves the story to have them oblivious to Ginger’s changes with mom happily babbling about how her daughter is a woman now and dad not wanting to hear about all the ‘bloody’ details. Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins both really come through and give good performances as they basically carry the movie. Both women portray their respective transformations appropriately with Isabelle going from angry Goth girl to sexual predator to monster quite well, giving Ginger both an air of danger ready to explode and a sympathetic sadness of a young girl who’s becoming something that’s beyond her control. Perkins takes the shy girl used to hiding behind her more protective big sister, and turns her into a strong willed young woman ready to both fight the monster her sister is becoming but, at the same time, save her as she’s not willing to give up on her despite Ginger’s increasing homicidal tendencies. A major part of why the film works is because of the performances Fawcett gets out of his leading ladies. Add to that his mix of teen angst movie and bloody horror flick with a dash of satiric humor and you get a very underrated flick that is considered a cult classic by many… myself included. Ginger Snaps is not perfect, it’s slow paced at times and while that gives time for character development, it also takes it a while to get to it’s tense and bloody last act. The make-up FX are a little rubbery but, I still prefer the practical approach over CGI any day.

DISC REVIEW: I am so very happy that this cult classic has finally been given the love it deserves by the awesome folks at Scream Factory. This label just keeps delivering these wonderful editions of horror cult classics and giving fan favorites and obscure guilty pleasures the respect they deserve with pristine restored prints and engaging extras. Ginger Snaps is finally presented in it’s Anamorphic Widescreen glory (1.78:1) and has a nice DTS 5.1 sound mix. I don’t have the best sounds system but, it sounded really good to me and the picture was clear and had only some mild graininess in some of the darker scenes but, this is a low budget horror movie and that is just fine. The colors are rich but, not over-saturated so, they look natural and the picture is certainly better quality then any other presentation before it. There are some nice featurettes and deleted scenes along with commentary and new interviews from director and co-writer John Fawcett and Karen Walton as well as leading lady Emily Perkins. Obviosuly the presence of star Katharine Isabelle is sadly missing but, Scream Factory claims communication with the actress’ representatives went unanswered. Too bad. Otherwise this is a must buy for fans of this Canadian cult classic horror.


Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Humanoids from the Deep [Blu-ray]
Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Humanoids from the Deep [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Doug McClure
Price: $18.86
19 used & new from $15.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corman at his classic best!, April 11, 2014
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Humanoids has an army of fish creatures, born of genetic experiments on salmon, descending on a quiet coastal fishing village to kill and mate… with human women. As with the best of Corman’s productions, this one is made with just the right mix of seriousness and camp to make the story work. The film is well directed by Barbara Peeters though Corman felt the film lacked the more exploitative elements needed to sell it and brought in James Sbardellati to direct the more graphic scenes of sex, nudity and gore to be added in. Peeters was apparently very unhappy with the changes Corman made, as was star Ann Turkel who plays scientist Dr. Susan Drake, who created the creatures and now seeks to help destroy them. And as for the cast… a cast lead by Doug McClure (as fisherman Jim Hill) and Vic Morrow (as rival fisherman and town jerk, Hank Slattery)… they treat the material with the respect it deserves and that adds weight despite it’s far fetched story. Despite the artistic differences between Corman and his director, the film is bloody good time and loaded with all the fun characteristics we expect from a Roger Corman movie and that’s what counts. Also characteristic of a Roger Corman film, future talents are present behind the scenes. Here it is makeup FX legend Rob Bottin providing creatures and plentiful gore and, one of today’s top composers, James Horner. A really gory, fun movie of the kind they rarely make anymore.


Piranha: Roger Corman's Cult Classics [Blu-ray]
Piranha: Roger Corman's Cult Classics [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Bradford Dillman
Price: $19.78
23 used & new from $9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars B-Movie classic restored on a beautiful disc!, April 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Classic Jaws rip-off from Roger Corman is a lot of fun mostly because it playfully acknowledges it’s inspiration yet, becomes it’s own movie and is all the more entertaining for it. The story revolves around a school of genetically altered piranha in a remote mountain military research station. When they claim the lives of two teens, the investigator searching for them, Maggie (Heather Menzies) and her reluctant, alcoholic mountain guide, Paul (Bradford Dillman) accidentally free the ferocious fish into the local river and are now frantically trying to stop them before they reach a summer camp and a water theme park. Piranha is gory and campy but, not without some tense sequences too as when the carnivorous fish attack the summer camp filled with kids. The cast has fun but, treats their roles just serious enough to make it work and that allows the audience to buy into it just enough to have a good time. Directed with equal parts humor and horror by Joe Dante (who went on to direct The Howling and Gremlins) from a witty script by Howling scribe John Sayles, Piranha transcends it’s rip-off status to become a classic in it’s own right. Also stars Kevin McCarthy as the scientist who created them, Barbara Steele, Keenan Wynn and Corman regulars Paul Bartel, as a grumpy camp counselor and Dick Miller, as a shady theme park owner. Another Corman flick filled with talents who would go on to their own fame and fortune.


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