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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Scream Factory - CHILD'S PLAY on Blu-ray

CHILD'S PLAY (1988; Tom Holland)
In terms of horror "icons", I feel like the 80s was an incredibly fertile period. True, our icons don't necessarily live up to the classic monsters that Universal pictures created way back when, but they certainly had personality. They also had some serious staying power, which is part of the reason we are still talking about them today. I mean, if you add up the number of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers films that came out in the 1980s - you are talking about a whole lotta stuff. Chucky was certainly part of that group too. I feel like times have changed so much that it's hard to have bad guys like those as much anymore. Though there are certainly lots of campy and self-aware horror films sill being made, I feel like overall - a lot of horror films these days take themselves fairly seriously and that seems to be what people want to see. So alas, there is no room for new icons really and that's a little bit of a shame. That's what makes a nice collector's edition like this new one from Scream Factory a very enjoyable thing for me. It allows me to reflect on one of those old icons I grew up with that scared the crap out of me as a kid.
Now the "killer doll" idea was far from brand new in 1988. You can go back to 1945 and the British horror anthology DEAD OF NIGHT for an early example of a deadly doll (though there are earlier examples than that). You have movies like MAGIC and TRILOGY OF TERROR in the 1970s that frightened kids for years afterwards. And the 1980s was littered with tons of dangerous dolls in various horror movies. Perhaps it has something to do with the remarkable Cabbage Patch Kids trend that blew up like crazy in the early to mid 80s. CHILD'S PLAY is certainly a response to that and I kind of love that about it. But dolls have always been a source of terror in that they are at once incredibly comforting and often quite creepy at the same time. Dolls can be the prized possession of a child. They will take them everywhere and sleep with them so the idea that they might become dangerous is terrifying on an almost primal level. They are already so close to children that if they could magically come to life they would be the last thing you'd suspect could harm your kids. From the point of view of a child they are a security blanket of sorts and thus if they somehow shifted it would be so so terrible. 
So Tom Holland made this movie and he had already proved himself to be a self-aware horror filmmaker with scripts for movies like PSYCHO II and CLOAK & DAGGER even before he made FRIGHT NIGHT - which is still one of the better vampire films ever in my opinion. Like CHILD'S PLAY, it is a movie that is certainly of its time, but it is still an enjoyable and well made and structured to jab at and play with the viewer's expectations. Holland is certainly a director who has taken a lesson or two from Hitchcock in terms of manipulating his audience and taking pleasure in making them cringe or jump in fright. There is something about this movie in particular this movie and the Chucky character that is annoyingly engaging. One one hand, the viewer watching could be frustrated by the fact that a little toy doll is causing so much carnage and asking themselves why don't people just rip him to pieces, but Chucky isn't easily stoppable (like a small Terminator) like that. His size also makes it easy for him to hide and jump out of places to attack people so there are many inherent jump scares built in that keep you on edge. It's one of those kinda silly 80s horror premises that once you give yourself over to it is a fun little ride though.

Special Features:
Hats off yet again to Scream Factory for continuing to put out solid Collector's Editions and 
this one is right in line with their best stuff. The disc sports a good-looking new
 2K scan of the interpositive and a lot of bonus material:

-NEW Audio Commentary with director Tom Holland.
-Audio Commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks and "Chucky" designer Kevin Yagher.
-Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini
Select Scene Chucky Commentaries.

-NEW Behind-the-Scenes Special Effects footage from Howard Berger (60 minutes),
-NEW Howard Berger: Your Special Effects Friend ‘Til The End - interview with special effect artist Howard Berger (40 minutes).
-NEW Life Behind the Mask: Being Chucky – an interview with actor Ed Gale (40 minutes).
-Evil Comes in Small Packages featuring interviews with Don Mancini, David Kirschner, John Lafia, Chris Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, Kevin Yagher (24 minutes)
-Chucky: Building a Nightmare featuring Kevin Yagher (10 minutes)
-A Monster Convention featuring Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent and Chris Sarandon (5 minutes).
-Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child's Play Vintage Featurette (6 minutes).
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Still Photo Gallery

You can purchase CHILD'S PLAY on Blu-ray here:
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lionsgate/Vestron Video - WAXWORK/WAXWORK II: LOST IN TIME on Blu-ray

WAXWORK (1988; Anthony Hickox)
Continuing with their incredibly intriguing and nostalgia filled Vestron Video line - Lionsgate brings forth another couple VHS-era favorites with not one but two WAXWORK films. The first has reached veritable classic status in the HORROR community since its 1988 release. It's basically an enjoyable spin on the horror anthology featuring a bunch of 80s youths finding themselves invited to an odd private exhibition at a creepy wax museum that has oddly sprung up out of nowhere in their affluent suburban neighborhood. This ain't your average waxwork though. Instead of offering guests a macabre wax examples of horrific scenes, this particular place (run by David Warner) has a unique gimmick. As each person finds themselves engaged by a particular display, they are compelled to step into it and, in doing so, they become active participants in scenes themselves via a cool-looking 80s portal effect (which reminds me of XANADU for some reason). As you might imagine, things often go poorly for our "heroes" after they find enter into one of these scenarios. Once dead, the people who enter the scenes then become part of them - forever frozen in wax. So the movie, though set in the present of 1988, offers a sampling of werewolves, vampires, mummies, zombies and other horrors via the waxwork. Being that the movie is blood soaked and the main characters (played by Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson & Dana Ashbrook) are all sarcastic, wisecracking college kids, it's easy to see how this appealed to the video store generation for sure. It has cute gals (one of them straight out of VALLEY GIRL), lots of gore and the guy from GREMLINS. What more could a teenager prowling the horror section for an interesting VHS cover be looking for? All in all - a delightfully perverse and more gore-filled 80s update on the classic HOUSE OF WAX idea (with a climax to rival the ending of that movie). Also - props to any movie that can have a man on fire within the first minute of screen time. Bonus points for having John Rhys-Davies as werewolf.
WAXWORK II: LOST IN TIME is an interesting follow-up (made four years after the first) in that it sees director Anthony Hickox and star Zach Galligan return (but notably not Deborah Foreman). On top of that, it is one of those sequels that reprises the closing moments of the previous film and picks up directly where it left off. This movie sees actress Monika Schnarre replace Foreman in the role of Sarah and we are treated to a nice cameo by Buck Flower as her stepdad. Other colorful bit parts are filled with the likes of Bruce Campbell, David Carradine, Marina Sirtis & John Ireland among others.
More of a time travel movie (as the tittle indicates), this one pulls in the Frankenstein story, Jack the Ripper, King Arthur, THE HAUNTING and even ALIEN as plot elements for the various time travel stories. It also goes with a much more comedy slant from flying brains and slapstick to self-aware dialogue and other over the top gags. Not deviating from the first film in other ways, Hickox keeps copious amounts of blood flowing here. Bruce Campbell's role in the black and white ghost story is a highlight. Some very humorous Ash-esque moments there.
Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with director Anthony Hickok & actor Zach Gallian.
-Isolated score & audio commentary with composer Roger Bellon.
-The WAXWORK Chronicles featurette (parts 1-6).
-The Making of WAXWORK featurette.

-Audio Commentary with Anthony Hickox and Zach Galligan.
-Isolated score & commentary by composer Steve Schiff.

You can purchase the WAXWORK Double Feature here:
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New Release Roundup - October 18th, 2016

THE MARX BROTHERS SILVER SCREEN COLLECTION (Restored Editon) on Blu-ray (Universal)
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NIGHTHAWKS on Blu-ray (Shout Factory)
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TROUBLE MAN on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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FUZZ on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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THE PIT on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
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BODY SNATCHERS on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
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CHILD'S PLAY on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
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WAXWORK/WAXWORK : LOST IN TIME on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
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PAN'S LABYRINTH on Blu-ray (Criterion)
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SHORT CUTS on Blu-ray (Criterion)
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SPECIAL EFFECTS on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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THE RETURN OF DRACULA on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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GAS-S-S-S on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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LITTLE FAUSS AND BIG HALSY on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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VILLA RIDES on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
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HAMBURGER HILL on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
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CAFE SOCIETY on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
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CAT'S EYE on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
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SALEM'S LOT on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
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STEPHEN KING'S IT on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
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