A little while back, we wrote about Twenty Essential Scream Factory Releases, which were DVD/Blurays releases that the gang at Scream Factory knocked right out of the park. It was a fun, overwhelmingly in depth project to take on, going through my SF collection (I’m a self-proclaimed fanatic of the brand, and will continue to be) and figuring out which films and releases were ones I considered good, bad and downright ESSENTIAL.It’s be a little while since that piece and the SF crew continues to put out excellent titles, so I thought I’d do my best to turn you fright fanatics onto a few more films which I not only love, but feel like were given the “all out” treatment when it comes to home releases. Here are Seven More Scream Factory Releases You Don’t Want to Miss!!
7.) THE DEAD ROOM (Dir. Jason Stutter)
Released as part of Scream Factory’s ongoing partnership to handle IFC Midnight’s home video part of distribution, Jason Stutter’s New Zealand supernatural shocker THE DEAD ROOM was a film that downright caught me off guard. Based around a trip of paranormal researchers investigating a house rumored to be haunted, the film does an excellent job of giving you a solid setup, a group of characters you can identify with and then BAM! Throwing them into what is a tension-building series of events that lead to some solid scares and a twist you won’t see coming, unlike a lot of other supernatural fare pushed at horror fans these days.
What makes the film so enjoyable in my opinion, is how different each character is, a contrast to a lot of film where every single character feels like a carbon copy of the one before. Led by Jed Brophy, Jeffrey Thomas and Laura Petersen we’re given three characters who might be there for one goal, but all for different reasons. Petersen plays a medium trying to bring out the spirits and exorcise them, Thomas plays a man who wants to either prove the theory wrong or have actual scientific evidence of the hauntings and Brophy is a believer who is a tech-specialist. The combination of all three brings a decent amount of opposition from each other, but when everything begins to go down, the trio has to work together to either survive or go down together.
Pretty light on special features, THE DEAD ROOM relies mostly on the film itself to stand out and it does it well. It’s a solid, very entertaining supernatural ride and one that has a good multiple viewing potential.
6.) FENDER BENDER (Dir. Mark Pavia)
One of the most refreshing new slasher films to come out in quite some time, Mark Pavia’s FENDER BENDER takes that charm of ’80s slasher films and adds a new twist, some excellent synth score work and one hell of an antagonist to the mix as well. Taken from the idea of what could happen when you’re involved in an accident with someone and exchange your information with them, FENDER BENDER follows Hilary, a young woman who already has enough on her plate, with a cheating boyfriend, two parents who come on a bit strong and so on, who is rear ended by a mysterious, sunglasses-wearing man (Bill Sage, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE), whom takes Hilary’s name, address, phone number and insurance info before heading on his way. Originally having a dance competition vacation with her parents planned, Hilary is punished for her fender bender by having to stay home alone for the weekend while her parents go without her.
A classic slasher setup, made completely unique by the excellent score courtesy of Synth-based group Night Runner, a sense of dread that director Pavia is able to put the viewer through, and one SCARY masked antagonist, a mask that resembles the metal we would find in a car, with long blades coming from his arms. FENDER BENDER is all about building scares, getting under your skin and causing you to feel uneasy before supplying blood-soaked, gory deaths which rival the best slashers from the ’80s. It’s an excellent film and shows that Pavia still has it, even with not having directed a film in a good 19 years! (His last film was the Stephen King adaption THE NIGHT FLIER). An absolutely terrifying slasher with great characters, a great villain and some excellent tone, FENDER BENDER absolutely kills it.
As if the film itself wasn’t reason enough to pick this one up, the gang at Scream Factory goes all out on the disc’s special features, giving some excellent alternate art, a 40+ minute series of vintage feeling trailers for classic slashers, an excellent commentary featuring Pavia and Icons of Fright co-creator/Blumhouse.com editor Rob Galluzzo explaining the origins of the film, as well as many really fun stories that Pavia gives regarding the reason behind the synth score, the make of the villain’s attire and so on. The real star of the supplemental section of FENDER BENDER though, is a full on pan & scan “VHS”-like edition of the entire film, which allows you to watch the movie as it might have looked had you been able to watch it in the ’80s, with a slight tracking issue and a look that makes the film appear as if it had been recorded off of late night TV, then watched again and again. It’s absolutely fun to watch the film this way and it really shows how much time SF spent on this one, their first original film.
5.) PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (Dir. Mick Garris)
Available on HD for the first time in American, the Mick Garris-helmed sequel/prequel to PSYCHO is given the SF treatment and it’s a fun one to pick up. Disregarding the events of PSYCHO II and III, PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING finds Norman Bates released and living a normal life, married and listening to a radio show. The subject of the radio show though is one which hits close to home: the subject of matricide or the killing of one’s mother. Norman calls in and begins to recount the experiences he was put through as a teenage, living with his mother Norma (Olivia Hussey), a relationship that as viewers, we all know was never the most stable of relationships. Switching between modern day Norman (played by Anthony Perkins) and his recollection of memories (E.T.’s Henry Thomas plays young Norman in the flashbacks), we begin to see Norman recall the horrible events and when faced with the idea of Norman becoming a father himself, we see his demeanor change into the psychotic Norman we all know and love. It’s a battle between wanting to live a normal life and the fear that his homicidal tendencies would be passed down to the his offspring that leads the film.
Originally made for Showtime, PSYCHO IV is a fun one, and while it doesn’t pack the punch that the first three films did, it’s still a very fun movie to watch, made enjoyable by performances from Perkins, Thomas and Hussey in an absolutely bi-polar performance that gives Vera Farmiga’s Bates Motel take on Norma a run for its money.
In the supplemental section of the release, we’re given an interview with special effects artist Tony Gardner, a commentary featuring Garris, Thomas and Hussey and a good amount of behind the scenes footage as well.
4.) RAISING CAIN (Dir. Brian de Palma)
A criminally underrated gem of a film from the Hitchcock-admirer, master of suspense Brian de Palma, Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition of RAISING CAIN is a de Palma-lover’s dream release. John Lithgow plays a man who lives one life as a husband and father and the other as a terrified son, abducting children for his maniacal psychiatrist father. A mystery of a film, the theatrical version of the movie puts the Lithgow character and his his split-personality approach front and center, following the mystery of Lithgow’s character combined with a subplot regarding his wife beginning an affair with the husband of a deceased patient. It’s a little mixed up and all over the place, but it’s a fun film, one that really showcases Lithgow’s multiple performances (one which gives the film one TERRIFYING ending).
While it’s not thought of as much as de Palma’s more popular films, RAISING CAIN has so many great performances, including Lolita Davidovich, Steven Bauer and de Palma regular Gregg Henry, and the film feels very much like the suspense master is doing his best at trying to weave a tale that has multiple things going at once, and the disc’s supplemental material is a rare case of making a film better.
RAISING CAIN‘s supplemental material is up there with the releases for THE THING, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and so on. We’re given brand new interviews with John Lithgow, Steven Bauer, Gregg Henry and at least six others and the real highlight of the film’s second disc: a completely different cut of the film that rearranges the film’s multiple plots into a film that resembles a film like PSYCHO and a bait and switch approach that actually improves on the original film. The original script was much different than the theatrical version and the new cut of the film is very close to how the film was originally intended and as a big fan of the original film, it takes a lot to say that the alternate cut is a much better film. It revolves around Lithgow’s wife and her affair and then brings the split personality part into the film a good 15-20 minutes into the film. It’s such an interesting new version of the movie and easily makes this Collector’s Edition one to pick up.
3.) CHILD’S PLAY (Dir. Tom Holland)
Scream Factory has taken one of horror’s most iconic characters and released CHILD’S PLAY complete with two discs of some interesting goodies. Following Andy, a young boy who just happens to get a doll which is possessed by the soul of a serial killer, the film set the standard for killer doll flicks and with performances from Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky, Alex Vincent as Andy and Chris Sarandon as a skeptical cop who wants to believe Andy and his mother’s pleas that the doll is not only alive but wanting to kill them and transfer his soul into Andy.
While later films in the series went for the more comical route, CHILD’S PLAY is a straight up horror film which doesn’t ever feel like it’s a joke. With Holland’s excellent direction and some great writing, performances and a hell of a story, this is a classic and rightfully so, it’s pretty awesome.
With two discs of new and carried over material, CHILD’S PLAY absolutely kills it (pun intended) with not only a brand new 2K scan transfer, a brand new commentary from director Holland (I still prefer this baby from 2008), a brand new interview with KNB FX maestro Howard Berger, an excellent in depth interview with Ed Gale, who played Chucky in a lot of the scenes and who provides a countless amount of really fun stories. It’s awesome to see interviews with people who have good things to say about a role and Gale’s interview is really the standout part of this release for me. Sure we also have an impressive amount of carried over material from a previous release, including a making of that features Holland, Sarandon, Dourif and so on, but the interviews with Berger, Gale and one hell of a transfer makes CHILD’S PLAY one to pick up.
2.) LADY IN WHITE (Dir. Frank LaLoggia)
The release of LADY IN WHITE is not only a home run for the gang at Scream Factory, but is a release that I feel is genuinely important for horror fans, young and old. This beautifully haunting film breathes the falls season, giving viewers such a nostalgia-filled experience, one that is impossible to forget and an experience which will easily go down as a film you will find yourself revisiting time and time again.
Following a young boy and his experiences growing up, living in a small town, with his father, brother, grandmother and grandfather, the film does an excellent job making the past feel relevant to today, the experience brings out a part of you that you may have forgotten. When you watch the film, it brings a smile to your face, and when the young boy is bullied and locked in a closet in his classroom, those who have been bullied growing up will instantly recollect the experience. Where the film takes a turn is when the young boy is attacked and almost killed by a mysterious person and begins to see the ghost of a young murdered girl. We then are injected into a mystery of who the murderer is, why the ghost of the young girl is looking to the boy to solve the crime and the film also deals with a big sense of old school racism and the out for blood mentality that went along with that racism.
It’s a beautiful film, filled with authentic and wonderful performances by a young Lukas Haas, Alex Rocco, Len Cariou and the great Katherine Helmond as the mysterious Lady in White, who has a connection to the murdered girl as well bringing closure to the mystery. It’s a film which gives you a surprising gut punch of a revelation and offers a once in a lifetime experience type of film.
The supplemental section includes an intro from director LaLoggia, a behind the scenes series of videos and not only the theatrical cut of the film but a Director’s Cut and an EXTENDED Director’s cut, so if you love the film, there are three different version to watch.
While it isn’t a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, JAWS or PSYCHO-level horror classic, LADY IN WHITE is a crucial film that should be owned by any and every horror fan.
1.) THE THING (Dir. John Carpenter)
Holy crap. While Scream Factory has given multiple John Carpenter films the deluxe treatment, THE THING‘s release is quite easily the BEST release that Scream Factory has put out. Period. The story of a group of researchers in Antarctica coming into contact with an alien life form which can assimilate ay living organism, including human, is brought to life in a brand new 2K scan transfer, supervised by cinematographer Dean Cundey, a brand new commentary with Cundey and Icons of Fright co-creator/Blumhouse.com editor Rob Galluzzo, brand new interviews with the cast, the crew, the effects artists, there is not a single piece of behinds the scenes, interviews, on set or post productions material that is NOT included on this release. The time and effort that producers Michael Felsher and Heather Buckley put into this release is mind-blowing.
We’ve all owned copies of the paranoia-filled classic, but to say that this release is one for the books would be an understatement. Included the new material and even the vintage made for Universal short docs that Mick Garris did is included and it’s really a release that not only serves as a film classic, but also as a digital bible of all things THE THING. It’s a release that must be seen and experienced to fully get how epic it really is.
Stop reading this right now. Turn your computer off, walk to your local video retailer or hell, turn your computer back on and go to www.shoutfactory.com and order it. It’s one of the best horror films of all time and the supplemental material is mind blowingly impressive.