Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factorized: X-RAY/SCHIZOID and FROM BEYOND Blu-rays ""

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Scream Factorized: X-RAY/SCHIZOID and FROM BEYOND Blu-rays

X-RAY(1982; Boaz Davidson)
Perhaps more popularly remembered as HOSPITAL MASSACRE(from it's MGM VHS release), this film was one of Boaz Davidson only ventures into the horror genre. He had two films come out in 1982, this one and the cult favorite THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN. Looking at the two films close together, it's hard to believe they are from the same filmmaker. The plot in X-RAY is fairly standard slasher fare, with some decent atmospheric moments. Outside of former Playboy playmate Barbi Benton(DEATHSTALKER, TV's Hee Haw), folks may not be too familiar with any of the cast.The film features Benton going in for some routine checkup results and ending up poked and prodded by some sleazoid doctors whilst a killer roams the hospital hallways, dispatching victims one by one.
A bonus interview(affectionately titled "Bad Medicine") with director Boaz Davidson is included with this feature. The first thing he talks about is how this kind of film was never his forte and that this was his maiden voyage into horror as a filmmaker(even though he admits to being a fan of the genre). He goes on to discuss his very earliest origins as a young man making little 8mm ghost story movies and then about going on to his proper career and his experience working with Golan-Globus on this film and others. The interview runs about 13 mins.

SCHIZOID(1980; David Paulsen)
SCHIZOID has a pretty memorable cast, which some might say makes it more of a cult item than X-RAY. Among the folks featured here are Klaus Kinski, Donna Wilkes(ANGEL, JAWS 2), Marianna Hill(MESSIAH OF EVIL, MEDIUM COOL), Craig Wasson and Christopher Lloyd. I think my love of BODY DOUBLE and Craig Wasson carries over some vibes from that film to make this seem better than it is. Also, I love Christopher Lloyd in small creepy roles and he is pretty creepy here. Also feels like Travis Bickle's brother on the west coast.
The bonus supplement here is a new interview with the aforementioned actress Donna Wilkes. She talks about being cast in this film and how she started her acting career in general(as more of a hobby than a career at first). She has some interesting things to say about Klaus Kinski and working with him. It's about a 10 minute interview, but she is a very affable gal and covers a lot of ground in that time. I'll always remember her from JAWS 2 where she portrayed one of the most real cases of a character being in shock/traumatized that I've ever seen. Very effective.

FROM BEYOND(1986; Stuart Gordon)
How can it be possible that I hadn't seen FROM BEYOND until just recently? I have brought shame to myself and my family name for this grand oversight. After all, it was seeing RE-ANIMATOR in high school that really helped grow my love of horror movies to the point of obsession. Sure, I'd delved into the FRIDAY THE 13TH & NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films, but it was my discovery of films like EVIL DEAD 2, RE-ANIMATOR & PHANTASM that really got my attention and made me a horror junkie(as I am to this very day). FROM BEYOND's VHS cover is one in a long long line of covers that always caught my eye whenever I was lazily strolling through the horror section of my local mom & pop as a youngster. How could I forget that stretchy-faced sneer staring back at me, beckoning me with its "Human's are such easy prey" tagline?
FROM BEYOND is one of the better horror sequels ever made in my opinion in that it takes a few of the main actors from the previous film(Jeffrey Combs & Barbara Crampton) and shoves them face first into another gooey adaptation of the same author's work(Lovecraft). It's a spiritual sequel obviously and not a direct one, but is nonetheless an excellent follow-up to it's wonderful predecessor. FROM BEYOND has crazy creatures, alternate dimensions and lots of slime. It's really a quite memorable gorefest ripe for re-discovery(especially via this Blu-ray which looks amazing). In this age of CGI, I am always so pleased to go back and look at practical effects-laiden cinema of the 1980s.
Jeffrey Combs is a cult actor for sure and when you watch this film or RE-ANIMATOR, it's easy to see why. He plays a wonderfully unhinged mad-scientist type better than most people that have ever attempted it. Though Bruce Campbell has a somewhat larger following, I always classify the two men in a similar cult actor category. What's neat about Combs' performance in FROM BEYOND vs. RE-ANIMATOR is that the two characters are both pretty crazy but in different ways. His character in FB is much more genuinely disturbed than over the top maniacal. Combs can plumb the depths of human insanity in his roles in a truly remarkable way.
Barbara Crampton has quite a following in her own right and she is just cute as all hell in both the films. I had a big crush on her after RE-ANIMATOR as did any young boy who saw the film at a certain age. Oh and I can't forget Ken Foree is in this movie as well. He of DAWN OF THE DEAD fame among others. A trifecta of cult favorite actors!

Scream Factory hit this release out of the park as far as extras. It includes not one but two commentary tracks. The first features Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Barbara Crampton, & Jeffrey Combs. It is a nice track that details the production of the movie and its background in a very jovial humor-filled way. Clearly a group of people who are friendly with each other and are having a good time. A fascinating listen. Recommended.
the second is with the film's screenwriter Dennis Paoli. Paoli is quite a prolific screenwriter and also wrote RE-ANIMATOR, DAGON, GHOULIES II, CASTLE FREAK and Abel Ferrara's BODY SNATCHERS. This track is a bit more sparse but has some interesting tidbits to offer as well.
Also included are featurettes highlighting interviews with Barbara Crampton, Stuart Gordon, Richard Band(the film's composer) as well as pieces on the movie's special effects and some lost scenes.

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