BLU-RAY REVIEW: CREEPSHOW 2

By Nick Durham

George Romero and Stephen King’s 1982 collaboration Creepshow is a horror classic. It’s a super fun horror anthology with studio backing, big name actors, and wonderful effects work. The film became a pretty big hit upon release, so it wasn’t that baseless a conclusion that we’d eventually get a sequel. Well, we did in 1987, for better or worse. Creepshow 2 features less stories, less scares, and overall less fun than its predecessor, but for what it’s worth, it still manages to be a pretty fun ride; even if it manages to be painfully obviously inferior to the first film from it’s opening scene onwards.  Arrow Video has decided to give the film a super deluxe Blu-ray treatment, which is a sight to behold to say it lightly.

 

Creepshow 2 finds Romero and King taking a bit of a backseat compared to their roles with the first film, with longtime Romero cinematographer Michael Gornick taking over directing duties and Romero himself writing the screenplay with stories based on short King tales. We get three stories here: the fairly yawn-inducing Old Chief Wood’nhead which is a tale of revenge featuring George Kennedy, the pretty damn good The Raft (in fact, it’s probably the best segment here), and the concluding The Hitchhiker that is fairly memorable in itself. There were supposed to be two additional stories (to match the first film’s five segments) entitled Cat from Hell and Pinfall; both of which were cut due to the film’s budgetary constraints. Cat from Hell would end up getting filmed some time later by Romero himself for the Tales from the Darkside movie, while Pinfall never officially saw the light of day in film form. The film’s wraparound story is an animated (with a little live action) segment of a young kid named Billy encountering the Creeper himself (Tom Savini) and giving some local bullies their comeuppance.

 

As I already stated, Creepshow 2 is definitely an inferior sequel. The film as a whole just feels cheaper than the first film in terms of overall quality and content alike. That aside, it’s still super enjoyable for what it is, and has a very brisk pace and manages to make its own impact. The animated wrap around segment can be a bit of a chore to watch. There’s even a Stephen King cameo in The Hitchhiker, which in itself is a hoot.

 

Arrow’s Blu-ray release of Creepshow 2 features a bevy of special features. The film itself is restored in 2K HD and features the original uncompressed mono audio. There’s a commentary track from director Michael Gornick, and archival interviews with FX legends Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero. There’s another interview segment with Berger discussing FX master (and his mentor) Rick Baker, and a handful of other behind the scenes features as well. There’s a handful of trailers for the film, and a booklet is included as well featuring new essays on the film. You have two options in purchasing the film, with either the standard edition Blu-ray release that comes with all this, or the super limited edition which includes all these features plus a comic book featuring an adaptation of the never-filmed Pinfall segment. Good luck finding this edition for a low price though. I had preordered mine through Amazon some time ago when it first became available, and I’m very glad I did.

 

Looking back on it, Creepshow 2 is a fun, if super flawed, sequel to a horror anthology classic. It isn’t perfect and is definitely inferior, but on its own the film is a pretty enjoyable ride. Arrow’s Blu-ray is definitely a must have for fans of the film, as this is without a doubt the best the film has ever looked and sounded. Pick up the limited edition if you can find it without having to sell your first born child (or do it anyway, kids are awful), but no matter which version you get, you’ll be happy with what you find here. Now maybe someday we’ll get that super deluxe edition of the original film that we’ve been chomping at the bit for over for years.

 

Rating: 4/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE DRILLER KILLER

By Nick Durham

Saying that director Abel Ferrara has had an odd career is saying it lightly. From his beginnings with making short films and even pornography, Ferrara would end up making a name for himself with gritty, unique, unflinching, and thought-provoking films like Ms. 45, King of New York, Bad Lieutenant, The Addiction, and more. In the late 70s, Ferrara began filming a super low budget exploitation movie called The Driller Killer, and upon its 1979 release garnered a surprising amount of attention and even became one of the infamous “video nasties” in the United Kingdom. Besides being a true piece of cinematic trash (in a good way), The Driller Killer announced Abel Ferrara’s unique style to the world, and became a classic of 70s grindhouse exploitation cinema. Arrow Films has released the film in a super duper special edition Blu-ray, complete with a limited release steelbook to boot.

 

The plot of The Driller Killer revolves around an artist named Reno (played by Ferrara himself, going under Jimmy Laine) who lives in relative squalor with his girlfriend Carol and her lover Pamela. On the brink of getting booted out for not paying the rent, Reno’s troubles are exasperated by having to overhear the music of a shitty band that perform and practice nearby. With all the stress, noise, and hatred of the local derelicts, Reno’s grip on his sanity begins to fade; culminating in the purchase of a portable drill. Soon enough, Reno is slaughtering the local hobos and drunks, and that’s only the beginning of Reno’s rampage. 

 

Given Ferrara’s directing style and what all unfolds on screen, saying that The Driller Killer is an acquired taste is saying it lightly. That being said, for being a low budget exploitation film, there is some definite technical talent that is on display here. The film’s acting and dialogue are all over the place, and the film’s soundtrack will more than likely make your ears bleed (and possibly grate your nerves), but it offers a picture of late 70s New York City that is way grittier than any other film of the time period could hope to display. The film’s violent moments aren’t as plentiful as first-time viewers may hope, but when they occur, they get messy. It’s easy to see how The Driller Killer winded up being a video nasty.

 

Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of The Driller Killer is a sure-fire treat. The film is presented here in two different aspect ratios and is fully remastered, as well as keeping the film’s original mono audio. There’s a brand new commentary track by Abel Ferrara, and good fucking lord, you have to hear it to believe it. This is a guy that flat out doesn’t give a fuck about much and offers his unfiltered opinions and reflections on making the film, and it’s a definite breath of fresh air. In addition to that, there’s a brand new interview with Ferrara, as well as a video essay on his filmography. Ferrara’s full-length 2010 documentary Mulberry St. is included here as well, focusing on the New York location that has often played a central role in his films. The film’s trailer rounds out the supplements, with the physical extras being a collector’s booklet with some essay’s on the film, as well as the beautiful steelbook packaging. There were a handful of short films of Ferrara’s that were included on the old DVD releases of the film years back, and sadly those are nowhere to be seen here. Despite that though, this is the definitive home video release of the film to be sure.

 

For fans of The Driller Killer, this is the release of the film that deserves to be in your collection. Newcomers to the film may wonder what all the fuss is about upon initially viewing it, as it is definitely an acquired taste. That being said though, it’s also a classic of the grindhouse exploitation genre, and announced to the world the talent and unique voice of Abel Ferrara. Check this out. 

 

Rating: 4/5

 

BLU-RAY REVIEW: RABID

By Nick Durham

Before David Cronenberg took the horror world by storm with Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, and Dead Ringers; his exercises in body horror more or less began with 1975’s Shivers (AKA, They Came From Within). While that film is certainly rough around the edges in terms of technical aspects, those shortcomings are more than made up for in terms of scale, vision, and being able to creep you the fuck out. Cronenberg would follow up Shivers two years later with Rabid, another film that is fairly rough around the edges, but manages to overcome whatever flaws it has and winds up being a pretty damn chilling flick. The film has been long out of print on any kind of home video format here in the States for quite some time, so thankfully Scream Factory has decided to bless us with a pretty good Blu-ray release of the film.

 

Adult film legend Marilyn Chambers stars as Rose, a young woman involved in a motorcycle accident along with her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore). Due to the severity of Rose’s injuries and literally being out in the middle of nowhere, an experimental procedure is done on Rose to save her. The end result leaves Rose with a strange growth under her armpit that emits a stinger-like appendage she uses to feed on blood. Victims of said appendage end up becoming blood-thirsty maniacs, resulting in a frantic search for Rose, and a public health nightmare across Canada.

 

As I mentioned earlier, Rabid like Shivers before it is nowhere near a technical masterpiece. Cronenberg hadn’t really started coming into his own as a filmmaker just yet, but his vision and scope even here are unparalleled. He has big ideas here that don’t always get capitalized on due to the various limitations of the film itself, but despite that, the film manages to pack a punch. It was a big deal back in the day when Marilyn Chambers was cast in the lead, but she’s actually not too bad in terms of acting chops, and she’s definitely easy on the eyes. The effects work hasn’t aged so well, but given the film is almost 40 years old, this isn’t really much of a surprise.

 

Scream Factory has packed some decent features into this Blu-ray release of Rabid, as well as presenting the film in a new 2K scan. There’s a commentary track from Cronenberg as well as one featuring Cronenberg historian and author William Beard. There’s interviews with Cronenberg, producer Don Carmody, and executive producer Ivan Reitman, as well as a handful of trailers and radio spots. There’s also a video essay from Caelum Vatnsdal, which is more or less a retrospective on the early days of Cronenberg’s career.

 

All in all, Rabid is far from David Cronenberg’s best work, but it’s an early almost-gem that laid the groundwork for the kind of nasty body horror he would become known for. It’s definitely worth checking out to be sure, and Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is a worthwhile pickup, so give it a shot. If you’re new to Cronenberg’s work, this is also a pretty good place to start.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE INITIATION

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By Nick Durham

The Initiation is one of those 80s slasher flicks you don’t hear much about. Actually, I don’t remember hearing much, if at all, about this 1984 flick. There’s relatively good reason for that though; it’s fairly standard and doesn’t feature anything you haven’t already seen plenty of times already over the past three decades. Arrow Video has decided to release the film on Blu-ray for new viewers to discover, and that’s for better or worse as it turns out.

 

The plot of The Initiation doesn’t revolve around witchcraft or anything like that (which the film’s cover and frankly the title kind of convey), but instead focuses on young coed Kelly (Daphne Zuniga) who appears to have experienced some kind of trauma in her childhood that she doesn’t quite recall completely. To get to the bottom of this, Kelly comes under the care of a psychology grad student (James Read) that through various methods wants to help Kelly remember just what the hell happened, much to the chagrin of her mother (Vera Miles). In the middle of all this, a stealthy killer is on the loose, targeting everyone between Kelly’s father (genre stalwart Clu Gulager) and various members of Kelly’s sorority.

 

The Initiation isn’t a good film, in fact, it’s hardly memorable. There’s a lot of bits of confusion in terms of the film’s plot and twists, and there’s even quite a few unintentionally hilarious moments thrown in for good measure. The film’s big twist is such a hoot that you have to see it for yourself. The kill scenes are alright, and because this features a sorority, be ready for a healthy amount of 80s-era boob and even some beaver shots thrown in for good measure. Everyone loves 80s beaver am I right?

 

Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of The Initiation features the film with some great audio and video restoration. That shouldn’t be a surprise considering Arrow usually goes out of their way to present their releases the best they could possibly look and sound. In terms of special features, there’s a commentary track that includes a number of podcasters and critics, but literally no one involved with the film itself. There’s a couple interviews with people involved with the film, but sadly nothing from Daphne Zuniga, who was actually a surprising minor scream queen (this film, The Dorm That Dripped Blood, The Fly II) before finding mainstream success with Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs and Melrose Place in the 90s. I personally would have loved to hear her input in being in this thing, but alas, there’s nothing. The supplements are rounded out with the film’s trailer and a lone extended scene (with no sound) from the film’s party scene, which doesn’t really amount to much. This isn’t the most extras-laden Blu-ray Arrow has produced, but it least it looks and sounds good, so there’s that.

 

All in all, The Initiation is a forgotten slasher flick that may actually be better off being forgotten. You’ll surely see worse films of this type from this era, but you’ll definitely see more interesting ones as well. It’s worth checking out if you’ve never seen it, let alone heard of it, just don’t go in expecting anything totally worthwhile.

 

Rating: 2/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3

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By Nick Durham

When it was originally released in 1993, you didn’t see many zombie movies like Return of the Living Dead 3. Out of all the sequels to Return of the Living Dead, this installment is definitely the most serious in tone, delivering straight-forward horror and nastiness which more than makes up for the fact it has a significantly lower budget and scope than either of the previous entries in the franchise. Oddly enough, Return of the Living Dead 3 would end up becoming almost as iconic as the original film, thanks mainly to the film’s ghastly effects work, and star Mindy (later more widely known as Melinda) Clarke as the doomed Julie. The film has finally seen a stateside Blu-ray release under Lions Gate’s Vestron label, which is an absolute treat.

 

The plot of Return of the Living Dead 3 revolves around Curt (J. Trevor Edmund) and his girlfriend Julie. Curt’s father (Kent McCord) is a stoic military man working in a secret lab that is testing the effects of the Trioxin on corpses. Curt and Julie witness such an experiment gone awry, and after learning from his father that they have to move to a new city and leave Julie behind, Curt decides he’s having none of it. After a motorcycle accident leaves Julie dead, Curt decides to reanimate her still sexy corpse, resulting in a nasty chain of events that racks up a body count, and finds our zombified Julie (who still has her wits about her) craving human flesh, and self-mutilating in an effort to stop herself from eating Curt.

 

Undoubtedly the best sequel in the franchise, what Return of the Living Dead 3 lacks in budget and scope it more than makes up for in nastiness and a surprising amount of subtext. Our heroes are likable for the most part, and Mindy Clarke is spectacular in her role, sexiness aside. She really does put her all into playing the tortured Julie, and gives a pretty damn fearless performance. The film is directed by Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator) and has a feeling of cheapness to the whole thing, in particular some of the makeup and creature effects. Sometimes they look pretty good, and other times they look absolutely laughable. Now this isn’t because of the age of the film, because the laughable looking effects looked laughable back then too. That aside, when the really nasty bits come, they make an impact, and that can’t be denied any way about it.

 

The Vestron-labeled Blu-ray has half decent restoration to the audio and some fairly spotty work done to the video sadly, but the special features are really worth noting. There’s a couple commentary tracks that feature Yuzna, Clarke, and makeup supervisor Tom Rainone. There’s also a handful of interviews that feature Yuzna, Clarke, Edmund, and more besides. There’s a couple of vintage featurettes on the film’s makeup effects, as well as storyboard and still galleries and the film’s trailer. There really are some great things to admire here, as long as you can find this at a good price that is.

 

All in all, the Vestron Blu-ray release of Return of the Living Dead 3 is a more than worthy pick up. It’s definitely nice to have a proper Blu-ray release of the film finally here in the States, even if it’s lacking in terms of video quality. Regardless, you should pick this up while you can.

 

Rating: 4/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: CARRIE (1976)

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By Nick Durham

The fact that Scream Factory is giving Carrie the Blu-ray treatment seems like a match made in heaven. Given the fact that the film has seen many varying releases over the years on DVD and Blu-ray, it doesn’t seem like there could really be anything new added overall to make it worth picking up, but low and behold, Scream Factory has crafted a well put-together Blu-ray release. Granted there isn’t that much here you probably haven’t seen before, but it’s still a more than worthwhile pickup, and the film itself is still a classic.

 

If for some reason you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 or 40 years (or if you’re 8 years old, in which case get the fuck off this site), Carrie is Brian De Palma’s (Scarface, Dressed to Kill) adaptation of Stephen King’s smash hit novel. Sissy Spacek stars as the title character: a habitually picked on teenage girl with a domineering, overly religious mother (Piper Laurie). Carrie suffers humiliating abuse at school from a bevy of assholes (including Nancy Allen, John Travolta, and PJ Soles). Unbeknownst to them though, Carrie has telekinetic abilities that are beginning to manifest themselves, culminating in an infamous prom scene in which the shit literally hits the fan. Forty years after its original release, Carrie remains an iconic film in both the horror genre, and Brian De Palma’s filmography. Granted I’ve never really thought of it as the massive kind of classic that many consider it to be, but despite that, the film still manages to be an absolute blast and one of the best adaptations of Stephen King’s work, at least to me anyway.

 

Scream Factory has done a pretty good job here in terms of video and audio quality. The film definitely looks better than the MGM Blu-ray that came out a few years back, and the film’s audio is outstanding. Every sound and note from Pino Donaggio’s music score sounds brilliant and chilling. This is without a doubt the best the film has ever looked and sounded. In terms of special features, this set includes two discs. The first disc includes the film itself, along with the film’s trailer, and a franchise trailer as well that features that best-forgotten sequel from the late 90s, The Rage: Carrie 2. The second disc is where the meat and potatoes of the special features are found, which include a shitload of interviews with various crew members, the film’s screenwriter, Pino Donaggio, and there’s also new interviews with Nancy Allen, Piper Laurie, PJ Soles, and William Katt. There’s a look at the film’s shooting locations, an archival piece on the infamous musical based on Carrie that hysterically bombed big time, and a handful of TV spots, radio spots, and still galleries as well. Sadly there’s no contributions from Brian De Palma or Sissy Spacek, which is a damn shame. I would have loved a commentary track from De Palma, but I guess that’s just wishful thinking.

 

All in all, if you’ve missed out on any of the previous home media releases of Carrie thus far, Scream Factory’s set is definitely worth picking up. Hell, even if you do own the film already on DVD or Blu-ray, this is still worth picking up just because of this edition’s video and audio quality. It’s still one of the better adaptations of Stephen King’s work, and if for some reason you’ve never seen the film before, you should probably rectify that pretty soon.

 

Rating: 4/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)

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By Nick Durham

I often cite films like John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly as films that are probably the best remakes ever made. Philip Kaufman’s 1978 take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers is in that conversation as well, and with good reason: it’s absolutely brilliant. It takes the 1956 original with all its subtext on Communism and replaces it with a late 70s setting in San Francisco where a handful of people begin to realize that everyone around them are being duplicated and replaced with emotionless doppelgangers. Scream Factory has given the film a wonderful Blu-ray treatment, and saying it’s a must have is saying it lightly.

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers mainly focuses on a public health inspector named Matthew (Donald Sutherland) who, along with his pretty coworker Elizabeth (Brooke Adams), begins to suspect that some pretty weird shit is happening. Elizabeth’s boyfriend (Art Hindle) begins to become an emotionless shell, while other people Matthew comes across claim that their friends and loved ones aren’t quite themselves anymore. Soon enough Matthew and Elizabeth, along with a couple friends (Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright) come to figure out that things are indeed changing, and it’s only a matter of time before the whole damn world is affected.

 

Director Philip Kaufman manages to craft an atmosphere of paranoia that isn’t only akin to the original, but manages to surpass it. Combine that with the great (for their time) effects work and the wonderful acting from Sutherland as well as Leonard Nimoy (as a friend of Matthew’s that happens to be a celebrity analyst and author) and you get one of the absolute best remakes ever put to celluloid. It manages to update enough aspects from the original classic that the film manages to stand on its own, and even manages to outshine the original in terms of overall creepiness and shock value.

 

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is pretty damn lovely. There’s a commentary track from director Philip Kaufman, as well as a commentary track from author/film historian Steve Haberman. There’s a ton of interviews that feature Brooke Adams, Art Hindle, screenwriter W.D. Richter, and the film’s composer Denny Zeitlin. There’s a handful of retrospectives on the film’s development, legacy, effects work, and sound design (the sounds in this movie from the pod people are still creepier than shit to this very day); as well as the usual assortment of trailers, TV spots, and even radio spots. There’s an episode of Science Fiction Theater here for shits and giggles, and a photo gallery as well. All things said, this is a great release for a truly great film.

 

All in all, the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a classic of the sci-fi/horror genre, and deserves your time and attention. It’s one of the few (damn few) remakes that outshines the original, and still manages to hold up today as being a nightmarish and paranoid adventure. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is just plain awesome, and you should definitely pick it up.

 

Rating: 5/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)

hillshaveeye

By Nick Durham

Since Arrow Video loves taking my money with their spiffy special editions and limited edition sets, it should come as no surprise that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this deluxe super duper special edition of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes. Like they did with their deluxe sets of Society and Bride of Re-Animator; Arrow has packed a lot into this package, which helps make it a very worthwhile pickup, even if you already own that shoddy Blu-ray release of the film that came out a few years back.

 

I won’t say much about the story of The Hills Have Eyes because we all know it well enough by now: a family in the desert runs afoul of a family of inbred mutant cannibals, and they have to go to extreme measures to survive. The film has long been regarded as one of Wes Craven’s best films, and spawned a terrible sequel (which was helmed by Craven himself) and a surprisingly good remake in 2006 (which itself received a pretty terrible sequel). While not as overtly brutal as Craven’s previous, debut film Last House on the Left; The Hills Have Eyes has its share of infamous, gnarly moments, and a fairly unforgiving tone that stands the test of time.

 

Arrow’s limited deluxe edition set of The Hills Have Eyes comes in a handsome box, which includes the film itself along with a foldout reversible poster, a handful of postcards featuring poster art from foreign releases of the film, and a limited edition booklet featuring new writings on the film. In terms of special features, there’s a couple brand new commentary tracks that feature actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Susan Lanier, and Martin Speer, along with a track featuring film academic Mikel J. Koven. There’s a commentary track from the old Anchor Bay DVD release featuring Craven and producer Peter Locke as well. There’s a retrospective documentary that features interviews with Craven, Berryman, Dee Wallace, and more, and brand new interviews with Speer and the film’s composer Don Peake. There’s never before seen outtakes, the film’s alternate ending, and a handful of theatrical trailers to boot. There’s also BD-ROM content where you can view the film’s original screenplay, which is kind of cool. Lastly, the film has been restored in 4K and looks and sounds amazing to say it lightly. The older Blu-ray release of this film looked like ass, and that’s being nice about it; this is the way The Hills Have Eyes should be seen.

 

It’s great to see a classic like The Hills Have Eyes getting a treatment like this. I used to consider this film dreadfully underrated back in the day because not many ever talked about it until it received its remake. It still doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves in my opinion, but to me this has always been one of Craven’s best works, and deserves your time and attention. Pick this set up while you can, you won’t regret it.

 

Rating: 5/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE THING

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By Nick Durham

When I first heard the news that Scream Factory would be giving John Carpenter’s The Thing their special blend of Blu-ray treatment, I won’t lie, I jizzed in my pants. Repeatedly. That may be too much information for most of you, but it’s true. In my opinion, The Thing is probably the best horror film of the 1980s bar none. Everything about it from its acting, to its landmark practical effects, to its ultra nihilistic tone, all help to make this not only the best mainstream horror film of the 80s, but possibly Carpenter’s best work as well. Scream Factory has gone all out giving it a lush and wonderful treatment, so much so that it makes any previous Blu-ray or DVD release of the film pretty much irrelevant.

 

I won’t say much about the plot of The Thing because we all know it by heart at this point: an arctic research team comes across an alien being that was buried under the ice. It can assimilate and imitate those it preys upon, creating an atmosphere of paranoia. As the body count rises, the crew (which includes Kurt Russell, Keith David, and Wilford Brimley) becomes distrusting of each other, culminating in the realization that if they don’t stop it here, the alien will assimilate and destroy the whole planet. The effects work from Rob Bottin is so legendary and masterful that the film remains a masterpiece of practical effects work, and still looks goddamn brilliant to this day almost 35 years later.

 

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray set of The Thing is a masterpiece to say it lightly. This may be the best audio and video transfer (in 2K) that Scream Factory has ever done without a doubt. The film has never looked and sounded as good as it does with this release, and it’s really a thing of beauty.  In terms of special features, here comes that jizzing in the pants part I mentioned in the beginning. There’s two discs here, with the first disc featuring the film and an older commentary track featuring Carpenter and Kurt Russell. There’s a brand new commentary track featuring the film’s cinematographer Dean Cundey, along with a handful of trailers and TV spots, plus a still gallery. The second disc of the set features the old John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape documentary, which is one of the best documentary features ever produced for a home video release. In addition to that, there’s a handful of new interviews that feature Carpenter, composer Alan Howarth, and many more involved with the film. There’s a bunch vintage featurettes, as well as the TV broadcast version of the film. In addition to that, there’s outtakes, a look at the film’s shooting locations, and interview with storyboard (and comic book) artist Mike Ploog. There’s even more features included as well, making this an extremely jam-packed Blu-ray release.

 

If you’ve never seen The Thing before, you’ve been doing yourself a disservice. The film has aged beautifully, and remains the best mainstream horror film of the 80s, and in my opinion the best film of John Carpenter’s career. Hell, this is probably the best remake ever made period (with David Cronenberg’s The Fly a close second). Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is an absolute must own for fans of the film, even if you already have it on Blu-ray or DVD. Stop reading this and pick this fucker up right now.

 

Rating: 5/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: MANHUNTER

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By Nick Durham

Believe it or not, I’m not a huge Hannibal Lecter fan. Don’t get me wrong, Silence of the Lambs is a classic and the character himself is a horror icon, but Hannibal himself just doesn’t give me the same kind of wood that he does to a lot of other people. That being said, I’ve always fucking loved Manhunter. The first cinematic appearance of Hannibal Lecter (spelled here as Hannibal Lecktor) and directed by the great Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider), Manhunter plays more like a crime drama/thriller than straight up horror or psychological terror, but it’s so damn good that it hardly matters. Thanks to Scream Factory, the film has finally received the Blu-ray treatment that it’s always deserved.

 

Adapted from Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon, Manhunter finds FBI investigator Will Graham (William Petersen) still recovering mentally from his encounter with Hannibal (Brian Cox). There’s a new serial killer on the prowl however, in the form of Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), and Graham is tasked with tracking him down and figuring out when he’ll strike next. There’s more to the story than that though, and those unfamiliar with this film may be disappointed to learn that Hannibal is hardly in the film at all (nor is he referred to as a cannibal, as Graham explains in a bit of throwaway dialogue that Hannibal was murdering college students), and just about all the focus of the film is on Graham dealing with his psychological scars while also focusing on the psychosis and behavior of the killer. There isn’t much here in terms of on-screen graphic violence and nastiness, but the film is a suspenseful and super taut masterpiece of cat and mouse/crime cinema.

 

Scream Factory has given Manhunter quite a treatment here, with the film receiving a bit of an upgrade in terms of picture and sound. Included here are both the theatrical version of the film as well as the slightly longer director’s cut, which features a commentary from Michael Mann. There’s a lengthy making of documentary, and interviews with actors William Petersen, Tom Noonan, and Joan Allen, as well as cinematographer Dante Spinotti. There’s a very lengthy interview with Brian Cox as well, trailers, still galleries, and older features ported over from the old Anchor Bay release from years back. There’s a lot to admire here for sure, and Scream Factory did pretty damn good with this set.

 

Now I know I’m practically cumming all over the place praising Manhunter and its Blu-ray release, but I will say again that if you’re a diehard Hannibal Lectar fan, there’s a good chance you won’t dig Manhunter so much. That being said, it’s a wonderful mix of horror and crime with film noir-ish elements that has remained one of my favorite films over the years. Scream Factory hit the ball out of the park here, and it’s wholeheartedly recommended that you pick this up.

 

Rating: 5/5