Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - DREAMSCAPE and BLACK CHRISTMAS on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Scream Factory - DREAMSCAPE and BLACK CHRISTMAS on Blu-ray

DREAMSCAPE (1984; Joseph Ruben)
When you watch DREAMSCAPE, you may immediately notice some similarities to a certain Freddy Krueger-centric horror franchise, but don' let that distract you from your enjoyment of the movie. DREAMSCAPE makes up what would be the first part of a pair of science fiction films that Dennis Quaid would do in the mid-1980s, he'd follow it up in 1987 with Joe Dante's excellent and underrated sci-fi comedy adventure INNERSPACE. Actually, Quaid did a third sci-fi feature in between these two, ENEMY MINE, but I count the other two films as a duo because they are based on earth (& both in California) and have a science & scientist kind of backdrop and are both adventure films. 
DENNIS Quaid plays a man with psychic abilities who was used as a test subject for a while when he was nineteen. After growing tired of being poked and prodded, he call it quits and ran away from the testing center. Since then he has lived by his abilities and his wits as a gambler (using his powers to give himself an edge). When a government funded dream research facility finds him, they convince him to come and work with them. Their primary focus is "dreamlinking" wherein one psychic person jumps into the dream of another person. The psychic then becomes part of the other person's dream and can interact with it and change it. Trouble is, there's some nasty nightmares that have been haunting a few people in the research group and one of them happens to be the president of the United States (Eddie Albert). It's a neat setup and when you throw in creepy villainous types like David Patrick Kelly (picture him clinking bottles in THE WARRIORS) and actors like Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer (who are often ambiguously kinda evil), it adds a layer of intrigue and suspense that I find rather enjoyable. And then there's a very permed up Kate Capshaw as well. I am something of a Capshaw apologist in that I realize she often takes some heat for her acting abilities, but I find her to be quite affable and obviously quite lovely. 1984 was her year for sure as she had not one, not two, but three movies hit theaters that summer. DREAMSCAPE was actually the third movie of hers in 1984 - the first featuring her most iconic role as Willie Scott in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM in late May, followed by the Eddie Murphy/Dudley Moore bomb BEST DEFENSE in July. DREAMSCAPE was an August release capping off what must have felt like an "onslaught of Capshaw" that year. I actually can't get enough of her and have been known to profess my fandom for her other films like SPACE CAMP, A LITTLE SEX and absolutely BLACK RAIN. DREAMSCAPE has a special place for me though. I can't recall if I saw it in theaters when it came out, but I definitely saw it on video and since I had been so captivated by Willie Scott in TEMPLE OF DOOM (which I did see in theaters), my Capshaw crush made this one stick with me. That and the fact that it was like an early horror-ish movie that I would have watched before I ever saw a Freddy Krueger film (those were MUCH too scary for me when they first came to VHS). So between the intensity and scariness of TEMPLE OF DOOM and the frightening nature of parts of DREAMSCAPE, Kate Capshaw was a huge part of my entrance into the fringes of horror cinema. I'm only now making this connection, but the fact that I was seeing her for the first time in these somewhat terrifying contexts may have been part of why I am still so fond of seeing her in films. Anyway, DREAMSCAPE also has some interesting special effects going for it in the way that the nightmares are depicted. It may seem a bit dated now, but practical effects fans will find a thing or two to keep their interest if nothing else. So yes, you can obviously draw some serious parallels to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and no, DREAMSCAPE isn't as good as that movie, BUT I still think it is a very interesting and overlooked 80s science fiction adventure gem worth discovering.

Bonus Features:
-NEW 2K Scan Of The Film
-NEW "The Actor's Journey" – Interview With Dennis Quaid
-NEW "Dreamscapes And Dreammakers" Retrospective Including Brand-New Interviews With Director Joseph Ruben, Co-Writer David Loughery, Actor David Patrick Kelly And Other Members Of The Special Effects Team
-NEW "Nightmares And Dreamsnakes" – Looking Back At The Snakeman With Craig Reardon, David Patrick Kelley And Others
-NEW In-Depth Conversation Between Bruce Cohn Curtis And Co-Writer/Producer Chuck Russell
-Audio Commentary With Bruce Cohn Curtis, David Loughery And Craig Reardon
-Snake Man Test Footage
-Still Gallery
-Theatrical Trailer
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BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974; Bob Clark)
It's certainly said by smarter folks than I, but BLACK CHRISTMAS is in a lot of ways a predecessor to the late 70s/early 80s cycle of slasher films that would flourish remarkably in theaters for that period. John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN is obviously given an great deal of due credit for kicking things off with it's monstrous success, but BLACK CHRISTMAS should not be overlooked as a great little holiday slasher that genre fans should show more appreciation for. It feels like the cat is kind of out of the bag on BLACK CHRISTMAS at this point as it has had several special edition releases on DVD and Blu-ray over the past decade, but I can't help but think that it is still just a touch underrappreciated as the horror classic it is. Ask any ten people who've seen HALLOWEEN and see if they've also heard of BLACK CHRISTMAS and my guess is that the number of folks who know it will be considerably less. Anyway, the point is that it's a solid little slow burn slasher with some still genuinely creepy moments and images (including on girl's face frozen in fear after she's been suffocated by cellophane and left in a rocking chair). A big part of the fun here comes from the cast which is led by a very foul-mouthed and trampy Margot Kidder. Being that it is a Canadian film production, there is also some prominent Canadian thespians in it like Andrea Martin, Art Hindle (THE BROOD) and Lynne Griffin (STRANGE BREW). Beyond that, some other big actors like Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea (who is quite creepy here) and John Saxon playing one of his many cop roles) round out the ensemble. With a group like that and a director like Bob Clark, the result is an effective, memorable and haunting horror experience. Bob Clark, who is best known perhaps for his work on A CHRISTMAS STORY and PORKY'S had a decent run of horror and thriller films from about 1972 with CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS to 1974 - with DEATHDREAM and BLACK CHRISTMAS to 1979 with MURDER BY DECREE (an excellent Sherlock Holmes movie). Clark does a nice job of setting a disturbing tone early - with alarming and twisted prank phone calls and a single death - gradually ramping things up and interjecting human drama that helps a bit with engaging the viewer more and increasing the tension overall. What HALLOWEEN does for suburban neighborhoods, BLACK CHRISTMAS does for Sorority Houses. It's truly a classic and a must have for horror enthusiasts and a film that slasher fans should watch to appreciate the genealogy of the genre.

Bonus Features:
Another Collector's Edition gem of a release from Scream Factory. Not only have them compiled the extras from previous editions, but have also added a wealth of new supplements as well as a new 2K Scan. The transfer is a bit grainy, but they make a point of saying that they used no DNR and that it is retaining it's original look. For what my opinion is worth, I dug the transfer and though the film doesn't look brand new or anything, I feel like it is the best I've seen it look thus far. Fans and newcomers to the film should not be disappointed with this release. Here is what's included.

-NEW 2016 2K Scan Of The Negative (1.85:1) – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
-Audio Commentary With Director Bob Clark
-Audio Commentary With Actors John Saxon And Keir Dullea
-Audio Commentary With Billy (Actor Nick Mancuso)
-Audio Interview With Director Bob Clark

-2006 Critical Mass HD Master (1.78:1) – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
-NEW Film And Furs – Remembering Black Christmas With Art Hindle
-NEW Victims And Virgins – Remembering Black Christmas With Lynne Griffin
Black Christmas Legacy

-40th Anniversary Panel At FanExpo 2014 Featuring John Saxon, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin & Nick Mancuso
-On Screen!: Black Christmas Featurette
-12 Days Of Black Christmas Featurette
-Black Christmas Revisited Featurette
-Archival Interviews With Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, & John Saxon
-Midnight Screening Q&A With Bob Clark, John Saxon And Carl Zittrer
-Two Scenes With A New Vocal Soundtrack
-Original Theatrical Trailers (English And French)
-Original TV And Radio Spots
-Alternative Title Sequences
-Still Gallery

Buy BLACK CHRISTMAS on Blu-ray Here:
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