Thursday, January 25, 2018

100 YEARS OF HORROR (1996-1997) (DVD Review)

100 YEARS OF HORROR (1996-1997)
3-Disc Set 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment

Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 655 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: Fullscreen (1.33:1)

Synopsis: Hosted by Christopher Lee, 100 Years of Horror (1996-1997) is the first show of its kind ever produced; chronicling the history of movie horror from the earliest experimental chillers through the unforgettable golden age of movie monsters, and on through today's terrifying fright films.

This three-disc set from Mill Creek offers all 26 half-hour episodes of the TV program 100 Years of Horror hosted by horror legend Christopher Lee. The series begins with the silent era of horror and walks us through episode by episode, each one focused on a specific actor, sub genre or a particular monster/creature, such as werewolves, vampires and scream queens.

The series is a decent overview of horror up to certain point, the mid 80's seems to be the cut off point for this one, we get some slashers via eighties scream queens Brink Stevens (Slumber Party Massacre)and Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead), but the focus of the series seems to be predominantly pre-80s stuff, with a real focus on early horror from the silent era through the early 80s. The episodes are loaded with full frame clips from all sorts of films and trailers, from the silent era onto eighties stuff like John Carpenter's The Thing and touching on Stephen Spielberg's Jurassic Park, and peppered with vintage archival interviews with deceased legends such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Herschel Gordon Lewis, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Vincent Price, plus still living legends such as John Carpenter, Jack Hill, Dick Miller, Roger Corman, Robert De Niro, Brinke Stevens, Fred Olen Ray Linnea Quigley and loads more. Some of them reappearing more than others, and surprisingly the late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner shows up in thirteen episodes, giving some insightful commentary about the history of horror!  

Lee is a commanding presence as the host of the series, his deep voice lends an air of been there and done that gravitas, occasionally chiming in from time to time to note a few of his lesser films (The Howling II) in addition pointing out a few of his favorites from his oeuvre (The Wicker Man, The Devil Rides Out). 

Episode List:

Disc One
Dracula and His Disciples
Blood Drinking Beings
Frankenstein's Friends
Baron Frankenstein
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Bela Lugosi
Boris Karloff
The Evil Unseeable

Disc Two 
Scream Queens
Girl Ghouls
Gory Gimmicks 

Disc Three
Mad Doctors
Man-Made Monsters

The series is not super comprehensive, we don't get any interviews from George A. Romero (notably skipping over Night of The Living Dead completely when discussing zombies - seriously WTF!) or Wes Craven, and there's little mention of the Italian whodunit giallo genre and some of the great and gory Italian zombie movies, but I give this one some props, while it might be a little dull to a modern audience, back in '96 when this was first airing there was nothing else like it - this pre-dated the age of DVD and special features. This has been previously available on various DVD releases over the years, it's even streaming on Amazon Video and free to Prime members now, but this is a welcome addition to my horror documentary collection. This three-disc release from Mill Creek is available for just about $8 bucks, and is absolutely worth it, and it includes a digital copy available through Mill Creek's digital platform.     

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