Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - WITCHBOARD & NIGHT OF THE DEMONS on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Scream Factory - WITCHBOARD & NIGHT OF THE DEMONS on Blu-ray

WITCHBOARD (1986; Kevin Tenney)
WITCHBOARD will always stand out in my mind as one of the movies that I would obligatorily see nestled in amongst the other VHS tapes amidst the shelves of every small town video store I ever strolled into. 
I can't recall exactly how old I was when I first played with a Ouija board, but I'll tell you what, it freaked me right out. I won't go into the story, but suffice to say that I was inclined to be made a bit terrified by a movie like WITCHBOARD. Because of this movie (and THE EXORCIST of course), I refuse to have a ouija board in my home at any time. I'm sure I sound foolish, but don't let that deter you from checking out WITCHBOARD if you haven't. It's gained classic status for a reason. It's a solid horror flick with good scares, a fun story and the gloriously beautiful Tawny Kitaen (just slightly pre-Whitesnake videos). The writing and acting for that matter are above average here and it's clear why this movie was a big success for director Tenney and helped put him on his way to making more features (including a less successful sequel to this movie in 1993). This new Scream Factory Blu-ray looks excellent (no surprise) and is stacked with a ton of extras.

Special Features:

This is a nice special edition and it includes a few commentary tracks and other supplements....

The 1st commentary includes writer/director Kevin Tenney and cast members Kathy Wilhoite, James Quinn & 
Stephen Nichols. The cast reflects here on specific memories of the movie.

The 2nd commentary is a very pleasant, informative listen. It features writer/director Kevin Tenney and his executive producer..
It's a real nice track that lays out the whole history of the production and it's clear the film holds a special place in the hearts of all of the gents on this track (as it was their 1st collaboration and first feature). Lots of recollections here of the production and how they are all humbled that they pulled it off being that they didn't exactly know what they were doing.

'Progressive Entrapment - The Making of WITCHBOARD' a great 45 min doc thoroughly covering the inception of the idea via director Tenney based on a couple strange experiences he'd had with a ouija board, carrying that idea into his first screenwriting class on through meeting his producer's and all aspects of the film being made. Some of this material is covered in the commentary, but I like this doc better as it is well structured and edited and really gives a nice 'whole picture' background and context for this lower budget movie (& some general ideas for all the difficulties one can potentially encounter when making a movie on this scale). The doc also includes interviews with the all the principle cast members as well and it's neat to see them look back on this little phenomenon of a horror flick that impacted their young careers. 
-Vintage Making of WITCHBOARD featurette'  7 mins - interesting to see this piece in addition to the new making of doc, especially with all of the on-set footage and so forth. Nice time capsule.
Also included are what appears to be the full length interviews that were excerpted in the Vintage Making of:
-Cast Interviews- 2o mins. Also vintage footage/interviews with various cast members.
-On Set with Todd Allen and Stephen Nichols - 20 mins.
More vintage interviews, with the two make leads. 
-On Set with the makers of WITCHBOARD - 20 mins. Vintage interviews with Tenney & producers.
-Life on the Set - 20 mins. Vintage Behind the scenes on the set of the film with various crew members and cast.
-Constructing the World of WITCHBOARD - 21 mins. Behind the scenes of rigging up and building small sets for special effects shots in the film.
-Outtakes - 7 mins. On set flubs and bloopers.

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988; Kevin Tenney)
The cool 80s synth begins over black and leads into a seemingly demon and Halloween-themed animated credit sequence. If you're like me, these two things in combination are an indicator that what's coming next is gonna be a good time. Director Kevin Tenney followed his WITCHBOARD success with what would be another video store horror section favorite and a film that's gained a significant cult following over the years. As big of a fan of cult movies (and cult horror movies specifically) I had somehow not seen this little gem until this Blu-ray. I have to be honest here in saying that the old VHS and DVD covers for this flick kinda turned me off and were a dumb contributing factor to my avoidance. I wasn't as aware of Kevin Tenney specifically back then but I've since realized I dig his films quite a bit so I'm sure if have sought it out based on him had I known better. I recently even purchased his film WITCHTRAP on VHS and am a big fan of that one as well. Anyway, so in Tenney's NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, a bunch of kids decide it'd be a hoot to throw a party in an old abandoned (and demonically possessed) funeral parlor and it goes about as well as one would think. Scream and nudity queen Linnea Quigley is certainly a highlight in this one and it is definitely one of the films that has defined her cult status as an actress. The movie also has some fun 80s gore and splatter as well as some groovy demon makeup that help make it memorable as well. When I was in high school my friends and I watched EVIL DEAD II for the first time and it blew our minds. I could see young folks seeing this movie on VHS in the early 90s and it making a similar impression. It's certainly no EVIL DEAD II, but it seems cut from the same cloth and like a film that EVIL DEAD II fans would enjoy.
Scream Factory's Blu-ray special Edition is packed with extras:

First up, the commentaries:
The 1st includes Director Kevin Tenney, actors Cathy Podewell, Billy Gallo, Hal Havins, and special makeup effects creator Steve Johnson and the 2nd with Tenney, producer Jeff Geoffrey, and executive producer Walter Josten. Both tracks are good, and give somewhat different perspectives on the film. I prefer the 2nd track as it is a bit more nuts and bolts, but I prefer the making of doc (see below) even more as a comprehensive look at all aspects of the way the film was put together.

"You're Invited - The Making of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS" - this is probably the best supplement on the disc, a 1 hour and 11 minute retrospective documentary on the film. This is a great feature for fans in that it includes interviews with Director Kevin Tenney, his producers, writer Joe Augustyn,
The doc goes into nice detail in regards to the production, the creative collaboration between Tenney and Joe Augustyn, the casting, locations, and more. A very enjoyable, informative watch for fans.

-'Amelia Kincade, Protean' 22 mins. Interview with actress Kincade as she discusses her work in music videos as a backup dancer prior to acting, a change in careers which was encouraged by her aunt Rue McLanahan, and the experiences leading up to her audition for NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. She also talks about her experiences working with director Tenney and the rest of the cast.

-'Alison Barron's Demon Memories' 4 mins. Actress Barron's shows some of her own personal photos from the production.
Also included are a video trailer , TV spots, a promo reel, behind the scenes gallery, special effects and makeup photos and posters and storyboards.

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