Saturday, May 31, 2014

DVD Review: GRAND PIANO (2013)

GRAND PIANO (2013) 
Label: Magnolia Releasing
Rating: R

Region Code: 1 NTSC
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2:.40:1) 
Director: Eugenio Mira
Cast: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Kerry Bishe

Grand Piano (2013) is exactly the kind of thriller my wife loves and enjoys on a regular basis, the simple premise features a famous concert pianist under the watchful eye of a sniper in front of a sold out audience. The pianists fingers hold the key to a treasure hidden inside the storied piano he performs on, only he can unlock it by flawlessly playing an apparently difficult piece of music. Wood was fantastic in the Maniac remake and he doing fine work here as the neurotic pianist but as mentioned previously this is just not fare suited to my tastes.  I was pleased by the promise of John Cusack as the sniper but truth be told more a voice for about ninety-five percent of the film and and what we do see of him left me not exactly wanting more. 

Not an awful film by any definition of the word, I just found the premise to be a bit on the familiar side and middle of the road for my tastes. I think I was hoping for Argento's Opera meets Phone Booth but it was pretty much Phone Booth with a piano. A decent rental with the wife but not something I would return to again. 3 Outta 5  

DVD Review: VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE (Severin Films)

VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE (2010)  3-Disc DVD Set 

Label: Severin Films
Duration: 13 Hours, 58 Minutes
Refion Code: 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English Dolby Didital Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Jake West
Cast: Neil Marshall, Christopher Smith, Graham Bright, Emily Booth

It's great to see Jake West's documentary about the Video Nasties era when a few gore-soaked shockers threatened to corrupt the youth in the UK.  A threat so imminent that the Parliament brought about censorship that made it a damn crime to distribute a list of 72 movies deemed so repugnant that they might potentially endanger the moral fiber of children... and dogs! The documentary runs just 72 minutes and is quite a good watch, having read quite a bit about the Video Nasties and the films in question I didn't find a lot of new ground covered but it's damn decent watch just the same with some great vintage clips of stuffy Brits declaring war on the evils of horror cinema following the advent of VHS and the possibility of home viewing. Some of these twats had never even watched the films!

Disc one contains the documentary with an  extended menu screen with an extended Video Nasty inspired clip starring the seductive and dark Emily Booth. Bonus features include a nearly hour long video ident compilation which is sure to inspire a bit of VHS nostalgia in UK viewers. The Park Avenue ident is a particularly smutty and wonderful bit of video. The last feature on disc one one is gallery of vintage Video Nasty VHS sleeves, all salacious and wonderful and I'm sure these videos are worth a pretty penny in today's retro-VHS market. . 

The doc is a great watch but for my money the real value here is contained on disc two and three of the set. We have the trailers for the complete 72 films that were declared depraved Video Nasties. Split into two discs we have t
he thirty-nine titles that were successfully prosecuted in UK courts and deemed liable to deprave and corrupt and then we have the thirty-three titles that were initially banned, but subsequently removed from infamous list.  Each trailer receives a brief introduction from many of the talking heads from the doc who are a bit more animated and  interesting when speaking about the specific films, each espouse their love and admiration for each of the titles as well as pointing out how ridiculous and absurd many of them truly are. You have the option to watch with introduction or without as a straight-up trailer reel, don't skip the intros. 

Very pleased to see Jake west's doc get a North American release from Severin Films - it's a damn decent doc and turns out to be one of my favorite trailer reels sets of the year - of which there have been quite a few. A fantastic collection of depraved and gore-soaked trailers with the bonus of a decent doc about the Video Nasties and some great intros for every depraved slice of Video Nastiness. Nearly fourteen hours of classic Video Nasty hysteria spread out over three discs, this is a fantastic watch. 
4 Outta 5

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Arrow Video Unleash The Complete Dr.Phibes - Limited Edition 2-disc Blu-ray 6/9



Love means never having to say you’re ugly

LIMITED EDITION TWO-DISC BLU-RAY RELEASE – June 9th 2014

Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the limited edition release of The Complete Dr.Phibes, which will include both The Abominable Dr.Phibes and its sequel Dr Phibes Rises Again. These exclusive sets will be limited to a run of 3000 copies only and include a 100-page collector’s booklet.

“What more could a horror freak desire?” asked Motion Picture Guide of The Abominable Dr. Phibes back in 1971. Arriving on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK on the 9th June, The Abominable Dr.Phibes sees Vincent Price in one of his signature roles, playing the wealthy and mysterious Dr. Phibes, a mad, disfigured genius, who elects to wreak revenge on nine doctors who failed to save his beautiful wife with a murderous campaign inspired by the Ten Plagues of Egypt. Phibes requires an elimination of disbelief more than a suspension of it. Filled with wonderful Art Deco sets, dark humour and a legendary performance by Vincent Price, The Abominable Dr.Phibes and its sequel Dr Phibes Rises Again have since gone on to become classics.

Featuring a bumper crop of fantastic extras, this exclusive set will include Dr. Phibes and the Gentlemen, an all-new discussion with the League of Gentlemen in which they fondly recallthese two British horror classics, the featurette Daughter of Phibes in which Victoria Price discusses her father Vincent Price’s career and The Doctor Will See You Now, an interview with Vincent Price’s biographer, David Del Valle.

Alongside this, the Blu-ray extras include two audio commentaries on The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the first with the late director Robert Fuest and the second with Dr. Phibes creator William Goldstein, moderated by his son Damon Goldtsein, curator of the official Phibes website. Dr. Phibes Rises Again includes and an audio commentary with critic and author Tim Lucas.

The discs will also include the original trailers for both films, plus an exclusive 100-page collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Julian Upton, Martin Jones, Justin Humphreys and Jonny Trunk alongside the on-set recollections of Caroline Munro, plus interviews with Tim Burton and AIP publicist Milton Moritz.

DR_PHIBES_EXPLODED_V5-inside (3)

Synopsis: 
 “Nine killed her, nine shall die, nine eternities in doom!”

Horror legend Vincent Price (The Fall of the House of Usher, Theatre of Blood) is Dr. Phibes, former musician, current murderer. Seeking revenge from the medical staff that left his wife for dead, he sets about knocking them off one-by-one in a series of elaborate murders based upon a Ten Plagues of Egypt. Death by bats, by boils, by blood and more await the nurse and surgeons who failed to save the life of the beloved Victoria Regina Phibes!

A camp classic, The Abominable Dr. Phibes sets itself apart from the seventies horror crowd with its knowing humour and art deco sets, and also prefigures the Saw movies with its increasingly fiendish set of murder devices.

Pairing the original film with sequel Dr. Phibes Rises AgainThe Complete Dr. Phibes provides viewers with a double diabolical dose of macabre thrills and black comedy.

Special Edition Contents
  • Limited edition boxed-set (3000 copies) containing both films and 100-page collector’s booklet
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again, transferred from original film elements by MGM
  • Original uncompressed 1.0 Mono PCM Audio for both films
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for both films
  • Audio commentary on The Abominable Dr. Phibes by director Robert Fuest
  • Audio commentary on The Abominable Dr. Phibes by the creator of Dr. Phibes, William Goldstein
  • Audio commentary on Dr. Phibes Rises Again by critic and author Tim Lucas
  • Dr. Phibes and the Gentlemen – The League of Gentlemen fondly recall a pair of British horror classics
  • Daughter of Phibes – Victoria Price discusses Vincent Price’s career
  • The Doctor Will See You Now – an interview with Vincent Price’s biographer, David Del Valle
  • Original Trailers for both films
  • 100-page collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Julian Upton, Martin Jones, Justin Humphreys and Jonny Trunk, the on-set recollections of Caroline Munro, plus interviews with Tim Burton and AIP publicist Milton Moritz, all illustrated with rare and original archive stills

Details
Release Date                    Monday June 9th 2014
Certificate                          15
Formats                            Blu-ray
Language                          English (English SDH Subtitles)
Running Time                    94 mins (Abominable) 89 mins (Rises Again)
Number of Discs                2
Region                              B/2
Aspect Ratio                     1.85:1
Audio                                Mono 1.0
Colour                               Colour
RRP                                 Digipack £34.99
Cat Number                       FCD918

Blu-ray Review: RE-ANIMATOR (UK Steelbook)

RE-ANIMATOR (1985)
2-Disc Blu-ray 
Label: Second Sight Films
Region: B
Rating: 18 Certificate
Duration: 86 Minutes
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM Stereo
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale
Director: Stuart Gordon

Very few movies have scarred me the way Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator did with it's dark alchemy of horror, comedy and perversion, it's just one of those films that you will never forget. The movie opens with a great pre-credit sequence by which we are introduced to Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, From Beyond) a medical student at the Zurich University Institute of Medicine in Switzerland where he's been studying with his mentor, Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry, Halloween III) whom dies suddenly from reasons unknown and we are thrown directly into the fray as West injects Gruber with a chartreuse liquid which apparently re-animates the dead but not without some truly grotesque consequences which are witnessed by staff and security of the institute whom break into the lab after hearing an awful commotion. It's great stuff and it's only a small taste of what's to come, there's plenty more exquisite 80's gore and madcap horror on the way!

Somehow West is not prosecuted  following the events in Zurich and ends up in New England at Miskatonic University where he studies under Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale, Rituals). The student-professor relationship is strained to say the least, made worse when West accuses Hill of poaching Dr. Gruber's theories of brain death very directly. Shortly after West is introduced to promising medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot, Bad Dreams) and the two become housemates even though Cain's girlfriend (and daughter of the Dean) Megan (Barbara Crampton, From Beyond), is creeped out by the weird West, and she just might be onto something for it's not long before before Dan awakens to the unearthly shrieking of his cat. Making his way to West's basement laboratory he finds the dismembered feline resurrected and ravenous. Combs sells the rather corny stuffed feline prop as a menacing clawed demon-cat, it's great schlocky stuff. Dan's unnerved by the ghastly affair but West wins him over with the miraculous re-agent fluid and Cain joins in on West's mad quest for life after death leading to more death and tragedy..

Jeffrey Combs' turn as the mad-scientist is a performance for the ages and his nemesis Dr. Hill is just as fantastic. Hill manages to turn the school's Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson, Robot Jox), against West and Cain using an under explained form of mind-control, he loathes West and is a total perv for Dan's girl Megan. In the aftermath West and Cain are barred from the med-school but that doesn't stop them from breaking into the morgue and administering re-agent on cadavers which not so unexpectedly goes horribly wrong resulting in the death of the Dean. West doesn't skip a beat and takes advantage of the freshest corpse in the room, injecting the Dean with the re-agent who becomes a brainless zombie and is committed to the psychiatric ward under the watch of Dr. Hill who connects the bizarre incident to West's research into brain-death. When confronted by Hill in his laboratory West sweetly decapitates the professor with a shovel, still incapable of curbing his macabre curiosity he uses his re-agent to resuscitate his disembodied head, causing even more problems.

Turns out that Hill can telepathically control his headless body which knocks the distracted West unconscious and stealing the re-agent and then kidnapping Megan to perform a bizarre act of disembodied cunnilingus - one of horror cinema's most-tasteless moments and glorious moments. We get loads of gore effects, a gorgeous face-peel, a brain exposed after having the skull removed, oodles of intestines, a decapitated head and a dismembered cat that gets it's brains smashed against the wall, those seeking the grotesque shall not be disappointed by Re-Animator.

This film is a masterwork of horror cinema that's loaded with macabre atmosphere, blood-soaked gore and delicious black humor - it really stands the test of time and if you are not familiar with the works of Stuart Gordon do yourself a favor and remedy that right quick, the man is a twisted genius of horror cinema.

Blu-ray: Second Sight's region B locked Blu-ray offers a pleasing boost in PQ with a brand new 4K restoration and it looks quite nice, but don't expect miracles with the 80's film stock. The grain is nicely intact and black levels are very strong, a very solid transfer through and through. The 4K restoration exhibit a greenish hue that's more prevalent in some scenes than others, not sure if this is accurate to the theatrical experience but I found it very pleasing. We have the option of listening to the film with either LPCM Stereo or a more immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, both sound great with some nice use of the surrounds adding atmosphere to the proceeding and some real oomph to Richard Band's signature score.

All the extras from the Image Blu-ray disc are carried over including the excellent Re-Animator Ressurectus documentary and the audio commentaries spread out over two discs with the addition of the "Integral" version of the film which bends the gore of the unrated cut extended plot sequences of the r-rated version, a very nifty extra and one that's exclusive exclusive to the Blu-ray edition from Second Sight Films. Loads of extras, a new 4K restoration, and an alternate version of the film all wrapped-up in a gorgeous Steelbook.


Special Features:
- The ‘Unrated’ Version - brand new 4k restoration
- The ‘Integral’ Version (exclusive to Blu-ray)

- Documentary: “Re-Animator Resurrectus” (68 mins)
- Audio Commentary by Director Stuart Gordon
- Audio Commentary by Producer Brian Yuzna and Actors Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Robert Sampson
- Interview with Director Stuart Gordon and Producer Brian Yuzna (48mins)
- Interview with Writer Dennis Paoli (10 mins)
- Interview with Composer Richard Band (14 mins)
- Music Discussion with Composer Richard Band (16 mins)
- Interview with Fangoria Magazine editor Tony Timpone (4 mins)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (26 mins)
- Theatrical trailer (2 mins)
- TV Spot (2 mins) 
- Gallery

Verdict: Second Sight Films have put together a great edition of Stuart Gordon's gore-classic for the UK fans. The new 4K transfer looks great and the inclusion of the "integral" version is pretty nifty if not exactly essential in my opinion. If you collect Steelbooks this would look mighty nice on the shelf, just remember it's region B locked, a high recommend - a bit higher of you don't already own it on Blu-ray. 4.75 Outta 5

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

HALLOWEEN THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu-ray sets from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory - coming home September 24th!

Well, it's finally happening - we're getting a definitive HALLOWEEN boxset thanks to an amazing team-up of Anchor Bay and Scream Factory! Scream have done a fantastic job with gorgeous 1080p edition of HALLOWEEN II and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH so it feels right that they're teaming-up with Anchor Bay on this set - so exciting. I've already pre-ordered mine through Scream Factory which includes and exclusive 14” x 36” litho limited to just 500 pieces!
THE ONE THAT STARTED IT ALL… 

ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT
AND SCREAM FACTORY,
IN AN UNPRECEDENTED PARTNERSHIP,
PROUDLY UNVEIL
HALLOWEEN THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
BLU-RAY™ BOX SETS

Limited Edition 15-Disc Deluxe and 10-Disc Edition Brings Together ALL The Halloween Feature Films In One Massive Set For the First Time EVER; All-New Bonus Features, Collectible Packaging, and 40-Page Book Make This
THE Blu-ray™ Box Set Event of 2014!

Michael is Coming Home September 23rd

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Last year, the horror classic Halloween celebrated 35 years of terror for those willing to partake in its vision of unrelenting horror. But that was only thebeginning of the celebration. What producers Moustapha Akkad, Debra Hill and Irwin Yablans, writer/director John Carpenter and stars Jamie Lee Curtis & Donald Pleasence started in 1978 has transformed into one of the most durable, iconic – and copiously studied -- horror film franchises ever created. Before Jason, before Freddy, and before Jigsaw, there was…Michael.  Over the years, audiences have lived and relived the terrors of Michael Myers through ten feature films, as well as various re-edits and alternate versions. Yet to date, the complete saga of Michael Myers could only be told in pieces, in individual DVD and Blu-ray™ releases, with the rights spread across multiple home entertainment studios.
Until now…

Through the unprecedented collaboration of rival home entertainment companies Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory – the leading purveyors in horror home entertainment –Halloween The Complete Collection Blu-ray™ box sets arrive September 23rd.

For the legions of Halloween fans, the Deluxe Edition boasts 15 discs and contains all the Halloween feature films – Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II.  The set includes the NEVER BEFORE RELEASED producers cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers as well as the ultra-rare network TV version of the original Halloween, the network TV version of Halloween II,  plus the unrated versions of Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II.  It is packed with hours of BRAND NEW bonus features including new interviews with cast and crew from the entire franchise!  In response to years of fan feedback, the first Halloween will now also include the original mono audio track and the set will include both versions of the original Halloween-the original Blu-ray™ release and the recently remastered 35th Anniversary version with the mono track added back in!  It also comes with a limited edition 40-page book written by Michael Gingold of Fangoria Magazine.  The collectible packaging will include a newly commissioned illustration on the outer case and each film will be in its own black Blu-ray™ case with the original theatrical one sheet as the key art. This deluxe set carries an SRP of $169.99.

“This compilation is the ultimate collector's item for fans of the Halloween films and a testament to all the wonderful talent that have worked on them,” remarked Malek Akkad, President of Trancas International Films and son of series producer Moustapha Akkad.  “The partnership between Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory to present fans for the first time with all the Halloween films in one definitive package is a tribute to everyone – including my father – who made these films the terrifying classics they are today.”

The 10-disc Edition includes the original theatrical versions of the Halloween films and will include select bonus features.  SRP is $129.99.

Both sets pre-book August 27 and will be distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment with bonus features developed and created by Scream Factory and Anchor Bay.

Artwork and bonus features to be announced in the next couple of months.

Halloween The Complete Collection Blu-ray™ box sets contain the following classics:

Halloween (1978)
Director: John Carpenter
The original indie blockbuster that launched a thousand cuts…Halloween stars Jamie Lee Curtis (A Fish Called Wanda, True Lies) in her debut role. Anyone who’s ever watched a horror film in the last 35 years knows the story of Michael Myers, who as a child, butchered his sister with a kitchen knife. Committed to a mental institution and watched over by Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance, Halloween II, IV & V, Fantastic Voyage), he engineers his escape 15 years later, returning to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night to terrorize anyone who gets in his way, including babysitter Laurie Strode (Curtis). Co-starring P.J. Soles (Carrie, Stripes, Rock ‘n Roll High School), Kyle Richards (The Watcher in the Woods, Eaten Alive), Nancy Loomis (Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13, The Fog), Charles Cyphers (Escape From New York, The Fog) and Brian Andrews (The Great Santini,Three O’Clock High), Halloween also cemented the careers of many behind the camera including Carpenter, Cundey, producer Debra Hill and film editor/production designer Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch, “It”). 

Halloween II (1981)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Picking up exactly where the first film left off, Halloween II follows the same ill-fated characters as they once again encounter the knife-wielding maniac they thought they had left for dead. It seems the inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. As he gets closer to his main target, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath’s actions. Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II is a spine-tingling dark ride into the scariest night of the year. 

Exclusively on the Deluxe Set: Halloween II (1981) Network Television Version
Airing on network TV since the early 80’s, the TV cut features several new scenes and additional cut scenes as well as an alternate ending from the theatrical version.      
          
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
When a terrified toy salesman is mysteriously attacked and brought to the hospital, babbling and clutching the year’s most popular Halloween costume — an eerie pumpkin mask — Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins, The Fog, Night Of The Creeps) is thrust into a terrifying Halloween nightmare. Working with the salesman’s daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), Daniel traces the mask to the Silver Shamrock Novelties company and its founder, Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy, RoboCop). Ellie and Daniel uncover Cochran’s shocking Halloween plan and must stop him before trick-or-treaters across the country are kept from ever coming home in this terrifying thriller from writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace (Stephen King’s It). 

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Director: Dwight H. Little
A decade ago, he butchered 16 people trying to get to his sister. He was shot and incinerated, but still the entity that Dr. Sam Loomis (the legendary Donald Pleasence) calls “Evil on two legs” would not die. Tonight, Michael Myers has come home again…to kill! This time, Michael returns to Haddonfield for Jamie Lloyd (Scream Queen Danielle Harris of Halloween 5 andHatchett II and III) – the orphaned daughter of Laurie Strode – and her babysitter Rachel (Ellie Cornell of Halloween 5 and House of the Dead). Can Loomis stop Michael before the unholy slaughter reaches his innocent young niece? Michael Pataki, Sasha Jenson and Kathleen Kinmont co-star in this smash sequel that marked the long-awaited return to the original storyline and remains infamous for its startling twist ending and graphic violence.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard
Because Hell would not have him, Michael Myers survived the mine explosion thought to have killed him. One year later, his traumatized young niece Jamie (Danielle Harris of Halloween 4) is horrified to discover she has a telepathic bond with her evil Uncle…and that Uncle Michael is on his way back to Haddonfield. But Dr. Loomis (the late, great Donald Pleasence) has a new plan to destroy The Boogey Man in his childhood home using Jamie as bait. Tonight, the carnage begins again: Michael Myers is back with a vengeance! Ellie Cornell and Beau Starr return for this hit sequel that features grisly gore by Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”).

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Director: Joe Chappelle
In a single horrifying night, Michael Myers' masked reign of terror changed Halloween forever! Now, six years after he was presumed dead in a fire, Myers has returned to kill again - and this time there's no escape! As the homicidal fury builds to a spine-tingling climax, the long-hidden secrets of the screen's most maniacal murderer are revealed...with shocking results! Starring a thrilling cast including legendary Donald Pleasence (Halloween) and Paul Rudd (Anchorman).

Exclusively on the Deluxe Set Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Producer’s Cut

The so-called “Producer’s Cut of Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (aka Halloween 666), was a workprint of the original film.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Director: Steve Miner
This smart and suspenseful thriller scares up a bone-chilling good time with original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies, Halloween I & II) and a hot cast of hip young stars! Now the headmistress of a private school, Laurie Strode (Curtis) is still struggling with the horrifying, 20-year-old memories of the maniacal killer Michael Myers...when he suddenly reappears with a vengeance! And this Halloween, his terror will strike a whole new generation! Laurie's rebellious son (Josh Hartnett - The Faculty, 30 Days of Night), his girlfriend (Golden Globe Winner Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn), and the school security guard (LL Cool J - CBS’s “NCIS Los Angeles” will become Michael's newest victims unless Laurie can conquer her greatest fears and put evil in its place once and for all! The time has come again for you to experience the frightening fun of Halloween - the motion picture series that totally redefined terror. 

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Original Halloween I & II alums star Jamie Lee Curtis (You Again) and director Rick Rosenthal are back and joined by Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks in the terrifying Halloween: Resurrection, another installment in the electrifying horror film series.  The reality programmers at DangerTainment (Rhymes, Banks) have selected Rudy (Sean Patrick Thomas, The Fountain), Bill (Thomas Ian Nicholas, American Pie), Jen (“Battlestar Galactica’s” Katee Sackhoff) and a group of thrill-seeking teenagers to spend one fun-filled night in the childhood home of serial killer Michael Meyers. But the planned live broadcast turns deadly when their evening of excitement becomes a night of horror as Michael himself decides to crash the party. 

Halloween (2007)
Director: Rob Zombie
What happens when one legendary horror filmmaker tackles a horror film icon? A new chapter in the legend is born! Rob Zombie (Lords of Salem, The Devil's Rejects) reinvents the ultimate slasher classic, unleashing Michael Myers for a bloody rollercoaster of a rampage like fans have never seen. Including a retelling of the original story that unfolds at a breakneck pace, as well as a chilling new introduction that finally reveals the secrets behind Myers' disturbing childhood, Halloween breathes new life into one of film history's most terrifying tales. Presenting both the original theatrical version and the unrated feature with director's commentary, thrilling bonus features including deleted scenes and an alternate ending, and an exhaustive 4 1/2 hour documentary giving a behind the scenes look at how Zombie created "the scariest Halloween to date" (Debbie Rochon, Fangoria Radio).

Halloween 2 (2009)
Director: Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie's H2 (Halloween) picks up at the exact moment that 2007's box-office smash, Halloween stopped and follows the aftermath of Michael Myers's (Tyler Mane) murderous rampage through the eyes of heroine Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton). Evil has a new destiny. Michael Myers is back in this terrifying sequel to Rob Zombie's visionary re-imagining of Halloween which grossed almost $80 million worldwide. It is that time of year again, and Michael Myers has returned home to sleepy Haddonfield, Illinois to take care of some unfinished family business. Unleashing a trail of terror that only horror master Zombie can, Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past. But the town's got an unlikely new hero, if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the unstoppable.

About Trancas International Films
Trancas International Films is a motion picture production and distribution company based primarily in Los Angeles, California, but operating worldwide.  In addition to numerous other films in its library, Trancas, along with its subsidiary, Compass International Pictures, has been involved with each film in the Halloween franchise.  Trancas most recently completed production on the motion picture Free Fall starring D.B. Sweeney, Sarah Butler and Halloween Alum Malcolm McDowell, and which is set to be distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment.

About Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading home entertainment company.  Anchor Bay acquires and distributes feature films, original television programming including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, anime (Manga Entertainment), fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports, and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats.  The company has long term distribution agreements in place for select programming with AMC Networks, RADiUS, and The Weinstein Company. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business,www.starz.com.

About Scream Factory and Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD and Blu-Ray™ offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music and comedy specials in lavish packages crammed with extras.  Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY®-nominated box sets, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations.  In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America.  Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention.  Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit shoutfactory.com

Halloween The Complete Collection Deluxe Edition Blu-ray™ Box Set
Number of discs: 15

Halloween The Complete Collection Blu-ray™ Box Set
Number of discs: 10

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blu-ray Review: COUNTESS DRACULA (1971)

COUNTESS DRACULA (1971) 
Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack
Label: Synapse Films
Region Code: A/1
Rating: PG
Duration: 93 Minutes
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.66:1)

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Peter Sasdy
Cast: Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green, Sandor Eles, Maurice Denhem, Lesley-Anne Down, Patience Collier


COUNTESS DRACULA (1971) stars the voluptuous Ingrid Pitt (THE VAMPIRE LOVERS) as 17th century Hungarian Countess Elisabeth Nádasdy, based on the true story of Elizabeth Báthory. The Countess is a cruel and withered old woman who has just recently been widowed. While punishing her chambermaid for drawing too hot of a bath she discovers that the blood of the virgin girl temporarily rejuvenates her to her former gorgeous self - and Ingrid Pitt is most definitely a gorgeous woman - when she's not layered in warty old age make-up that is.

To continue to enjoy the age-defying benefits of virgin's blood the Countess conspires with her former lover Captain Dobi (Nigel Green, ZULU) and her nanny (Patience Collier) to procure young virgins. To conceal the truth of her youthful appearance she assumes the identity of her own daughter to carry on a love affair with the younger Lt. Imre Toth (Sandor Elès).

Only Grand Master Fabio (Maurice Denham) the resident scholar seems to take notice of the fact that the Countess and her daughter of never in the same place at the same time, it's only when the demand for more virgin blood gets a bit out of control that it draws the attention the local authorities and things start to crumble for the Countess and her conspirators with jealousy and torn loyalties.

We have many of the Hammer Horror tropes are on display here with the Gothic Pinewood Studios back lot locations and the plunging necklines and heaving bosoms you'd come to expect. The story itself is a bit on the slow side and the deliberate pace doesn't necessarily build up to the most exciting of finales but it does have a certain charm... Ingrid Pitt in all her voluptuous beauty in 1080p. Based on the legend of the blood thirsty Elizabeth Bathory we don't see any fang-baring here but we do get a fair amount of bosom-baring so sit back and enjoy this vintage slice of Hammer Horror on Blu-ray.


Blu-ray: This is the last of the announced Hammer horrors from Synapse Films and it's a winner - way to cap of the series. The remastered image looks quite nice with a fair amount of crispness and fine detail. Colors are robust and skin tones are natural in appearance. It's a bit on the grainy side but I do love a pure grain-present presentation over a smeared plasticine scrubbed image. Audio wise we get a very pure DTS-HD Master Audio comes through strong and the score from composer Harry Robertson (TWINS OF EVIL) sounds quite nice even if it's not the most memorable score.

Special features are a bit on the light side compared to the other Hammer entries from Synapse. We begin with an audio commentary with actress Ingrid Pitt, director Peter Sasdy, screenwriter Jeremy Paul and author Jonathan Sothcott. It's a bit dry and appears to have been recorded separately and stitched together so it feels somewhat disjointed. Director Peter Sasdy gets the bulk of the spotlight here with the others chiming in from time to time, there's not a lot of Ingrid Pitt throughout but her moments peppered throughout are quite nice. 

There's also a 11-minute featurette Immortal Countess: The Cinematic Life of Ingrid Pitt with a brief overview of her early life and film career and legacy. We also get a vintage audio interview with Pitt, a theatrical trailer and a more risque reversible sleeve of artwork. It's a bit saddening that this is the last of the Hammer titles from Synapse, let's hope they announce a few more in the near future because they've done a fantastic job.

Special Features:
- Audio commentary with actress Ingrid Pitt, director Peter Sasdy, screenwriter Jeremy Paul and author Jonathan Sothcott
- Immortal Countess: The Cinematic Life of Ingrid Pitt – Featurette (10:47)
- Archival Audio Interview with Ingrid Pitt (8:30)
- Still Gallery (7:10)
- Theatrical Trailer (3:06)
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork

Verdict: This recent spate of Hammer Horror on Blu-ray has me excited and while COUNTESS DRACULA (1971) may be my least favored of the Synapse Hammer Blu-rays it is a top-notch transfer with some very decent extras and is a pleasing watch thanks in no small part to the unearthly charm of the voluptuous Ingrid Pitt. Not as visceral as Peter Sasdy's other film from the same year HANDS OF THE RIPPER (1971) or as delightfully weird as VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972) but this one deserves a space on your Hammer Horror shelf.  (3 Outta 5)