The Cleansing Hour

DVD REVIEW:

RLJ/Shudder;
Horror;
$27.97 DVD;
Not rated.
Stars Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis, Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Daniel Hoffmann-Gill, Emma Holzer, Joanna David.

Old-school horror gets a social media update in director Damien LeVeck’s The Cleansing Hour, an effectively disturbing film about exorcisms in the age of the Internet.

The story centers on a pair of friends named Max (Ryan Guzman) and Drew (Kyle Gallner) who live-stream a series in which actual exorcisms are supposedly performed. Max serves in the role as the priest and basks in the fame of it (even touting his personal Twitter handle on air instead of the show’s), while Drew handles the behind-the-scenes duties and logistical tasks such as sending out cheap merchandise to the show’s unsuspecting fans.

The show is actually a hoax using actors and special effects, but it still has managed to attract a small audience of loyal followers.

However, Max and Drew’s plans go awry when actual supernatural forces intervene. Drew’s girlfriend Lane (Alix Angelis) is forced to step in at the last minute to play the possessed victim when the intended performer doesn’t show up. Then an actual demon possesses her and turns the show into a personal hell for Max and Drew, forcing long-buried secrets to emerge while the morbidly fascinated online audience continues to grow.

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The film uses a mix of mostly practical effects and a bit of CGI to craft some truly creepy scares and chilling death scenes, particularly when the demon immolates one of the crew members by turning his flame tattoos into actual fire.

While the film bears the look and feel of a typical exorcism movie, it offers enough interesting character work and some nice plot twists to keep it from seeming too derivative.

The film is a longer version of a story LeVeck first explored in a 2016 short film of the same name, which runs 18 minutes and is included on the DVD.

Also included is a two-and-a-half minute “On the Set” montage of footage of scenes behind filmed with no context or narration.

The film also comes with a commentary track from LeVeck and his wife Natalie, who is also one of the film’s producers, as they discuss his love of the genre and other tidbits about making the film on an indie budget. Interestingly, at one point they tease an extra of time-lapse footage of Angelis being put into demon makeup, but such a video doesn’t appear to have made its way to the DVD.

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Shudder’s ‘The Cleansing Hour’ Due on DVD and Digital Jan. 19

RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, has picked up select rights to the movie The Cleansing Hour from Shudder, AMC Networks’ streaming service for horror content. It will be released Jan. 19, 2021, on DVD, VOD and for digital sellthrough.

The film stars Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner and Alix Angelis in the story of a popular webcast that streams live exorcisms watched by millions across the globe. In reality, the exorcisms are just elaborately staged hoaxes performed by paid actors. But the podcasters’ fortunes take a turn when one of the actors becomes possessed by an actual demon and takes the crew hostage. In front of a rapidly growing audience, the demon subjects the crew to a series of violent challenges, threatening to expose the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other unless they come clean and reveal they’re impostors before the show is over.

DVD extras include a commentary with director Damien LeVeck, the featurette “On the Set of The Cleansing Hour,” and The Cleansing Hour short film.

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‘Toys of Terror’ Due Digitally Oct. 27, on Disc Jan. 19

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the horror film Toys of Terror for digital sellthrough Oct. 27, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Jan. 19 (order date Dec. 15).

In a movie that re-creates the nostalgia of stop-motion holiday specials, Dayo Ade and Kyana Teresa play David and Hannah Cashman, who have promised their family a fun Christmas getaway. But when they arrive at a grand, old house in the snowy woods of Washington and are greeted by a familiar construction foreman, the kids realize their parents plan to make it a working vacation, renovating the place in the hopes of flipping it. Alicia (Verity Marks) and her young siblings (Saul Elias and Zoe Fish), though annoyed, find themselves distracted after they find a stash of old toys in an abandoned playroom of creepy mansion. Before long, they seem to be inseparable from their new playthings, much to the consternation of their nanny (Georgia Waters), who senses that something in the house is not quite right.

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The film was written and executive produced by Dana Gould, directed by Nicholas Verso, and produced by Blue Ribbon Content in association with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Syfy, where the movie will make its broadcast debut in December.

Blu-ray and DVD extras include the featurettes “Toys of Terror Come to Life” and “A Terrifying Weekend: Making of Toys of Terror.”

Shout! Factory Slates Month-Long Streams of Horror Films During October

Shout! Factory TV and Scream Factory have announced “31 Nights of Horror,” featuring a daily selection of macabre films available to stream each evening throughout October.

Starting Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. PT or 10 p.m. ET, fans can tune in for a daily selection of horror movies such as Witchboard, Bad Moon, the cult classic Sleepaway Camp, The Exorcist III, Clive Barker’s Nightbreed: Director’s Cut, and many more. Viewers will also be treated to a double feature every Saturday during the month, as well as a distinctively eerie episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” for every MSTie Monday. There will also be an announcement of a special presentation for Oct. 30.

The livestream can be viewed on Shout Factory TV’s main website, Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and Android apps, and on the following digital streaming platforms: Twitch, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity, Xumo, Vizio, Redbox, IMDB TV, and STIRR.

The featured films will also be available for viewing on Shout! Factory TV’s main website, Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android apps; and on various Shout! Factory TV branded channels including Tubi TV, Amazon Prime Channels, and the Roku Channel

The schedule for “31 Nights of Horror” is as follows:

  • Oct. 1: Nosferatu the Vampyre
  • Oct. 2: Body Bags
  • Oct. 3: Deadly Double Feature: Mermaid: Lake of the Dead / Night Tide
  • Oct. 4: Cannibal Girls
  • Oct. 5: MSTie Monday: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hobgoblins
  • Oct. 6: The House That Dripped Blood
  • Oct. 7: Werewolves on Wheels
  • Oct. 8: Shakma
  • Oct. 9: How to Make a Monster
  • Oct. 10: Deadly Double Feature: Witchboard / Witchery
  • Oct. 11: The Beast Must Die
  • Oct. 12: MSTie Monday: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Night of the Blood Beast
  • Oct. 13: Q: The Winged Serpent
  • Oct. 14: Saturday the 14th
  • Oct. 15: Chopping Mall
  • Oct. 16: The Howling III: The Marsupials
  • Oct. 17: Deadly Double Feature: Bad Moon/ The Howling: New Moon Rising
  • Oct. 18: Nightbreed: Director’s Cut
  • Oct. 19: MSTie Monday: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Touch of Satan
  • Oct. 20: Jackals
  • Oct. 21: Itsy Bitsy
  • Oct. 22: Bloodsucking Bastards
  • Oct. 23: The Exorcist III
  • Oct. 24: Deadly Double Feature: Sleepaway Camp / The Final Terror
  • Oct. 25: Horror Hospital
  • Oct. 26: MSTie Monday: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Werewolf
  • Oct. 27: Class of 1984
  • Oct. 28: The Monster Club
  • Oct. 29: Asylum
  • Oct. 30: TBD
  • Oct. 31: Deadly Double Feature: Ghosthouse / The Evil

‘Inner Sanctum Mysteries’ Starring Lon Chaney Jr. Coming on Blu-ray Sept. 22 From Mill Creek

Inner Sanctum Mysteries, a six-film collection starring Lon Chaney Jr., is due on Blu-ray Sept. 22 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

The collection ($69.98), presenting the films on Blu-ray for the first time, will include more than 80 minutes of new special features.

Based on the radio shows of the 1940s, the six features on the set of Universal’s classic “Inner Sanctum Mysteries” are Calling Doctor Death, Weird Woman, Dead Man’s Eyes, The Frozen Ghost, Strange Confession and Pillow of Death.

Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures serves as producer of the new Blu-ray bonus features.

“I am thrilled to be working with Mill Creek Entertainment and developing new featurettes for the ‘Inner Sanctum’ film series,” Griffith said in a statement. “The behind-the-scenes story of the book series turned radio show turned movie franchise is a subject that has never been documented with as much detail and care as we are on this exciting release.”

“Daniel’s incredible knowledge and expertise of film history makes him the ideal partner,” said J.W. Starrett, director of product development for Mill Creek Entertainment, in a statement.

Extras include “This is the Inner Sanctum: Making a Universal Mystery Series”; “The Creaking Door: Entering the Inner Sanctum,” a history of the radio series with author/radio historian Martin Grams Jr.; “Mind Over Matter: An Archival Interview With Actor Martin Kosleck (The Frozen Ghost)”; a 28-page color booklet with a detailed franchise history, Lon Chaney Jr. biography, detailed film guide, trivia and more; and three feature-length commentaries.

Calling Dr. Death (1943) features commentary from screenwriter/film historian C. Courtney Joyner and Regina LeBorg (daughter of director Reginald LeBorg). Weird Woman (1944) features commentary from author Justin Humphreys (The Dr. Phibes Companion) and Del Howison (Dark Delicacies Horror). Strange Confession (1945) features commentary from screenwriter Peter Atkins (Hellraiser II, III and IV) and screenwriter/film historian C. Courtney Joyner.

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“More than half-a-century after their release, the ‘Inner Sanctum’ films endure as part of Universal’s history of classic horror and mysteries of the ‘30s and ‘40s,” stated Joyner, author/contributor to the bonus features, in a statement.  “Built as showcases for Lon Chaney, the six films are prime examples of old-school studio product, made by skilled craftsmen for audiences eager for an hour of chills with one of horror’s most enduring figures.”

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Mill Creek’s transactional VOD service movieSpree will feature a digital bonus in standard-def of Lady of Burlesque (1943) and Inner Sanctum (1948), and three “Inner Sanctum Mysteries” radio episodes, “The Tell-Tale Heart” featuring Boris Karloff, “The Black Sea Gull” featuring Peter Lorre, and “Melody of Death” featuring Mary Astor.

IFC’s Supernatural Horror Film ‘The Wretched’ Due on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Aug. 11

Genre film distributor IFC Midnight has announced the Aug. 11 release on disc of The Wretched, a 2019 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Brett and Drew Pierce.

The film will be available on both Blu-ray Disc and DVD, at a suggested retail price of $29.98 (Blu-ray) and $24.98 (DVD). Bonus features include commentary with the Pierce brothers and composer Devin Burrows.

The film follows the story of Ben, a rebellious teenage boy who is sent to live with his father for the summer following his parents’ separation. The idyllic tourist town offers little solace for him, however, as he is forced to deal with the local and privileged teens and his father’s new girlfriend. He thinks these are his only problems until he makes the chilling discovery that a spirit from the woods has taken ahold of his neighbors. Ben’s suspicions go unheeded as he embarks on a mission to put an end to the skin-walking witches reign of terror.

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The Wretched had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 19, 2019 and was released in drive-in theaters and through video on demand on May 1, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the amount of films in theaters, The Wretched became the first film since Avatar (2009) to top the box office for six consecutive weekends.

‘Friday the 13th’ 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Coming From Paramount

A 40th Anniversary Blu-ray steelbook of Friday the 13th will come out June 16 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Originally hitting screens May 9, 1980, Friday the 13th spawned one of the longest-running and most successful horror franchises in film history, with 11 subsequent movies.

The horror classic follows a group of young counselors preparing for the reopening of Camp Crystal Lake, where a boy drowned years earlier.  One by one, the counselors are stalked by a mysterious and violent killer.  The film stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and Kevin Bacon.

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The limited-edition Blu-ray steelbook features artwork from the original movie poster and includes the uncut, unrated version of the film, as well as access to a digital copy of the original theatrical version. It also includes previously released bonus content including commentary, interviews with cast and crew, and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Update (4/20/20): The original street date of May 5 was changed to June 16 by Paramount.

‘The Grudge’ Arrives on Digital March 10, Disc March 24 From Sony

Horror film The Grudge will come out on digital March 10 and Blu-ray and DVD March 24 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Producer Sam Raimi brings the untold chapter of this horror classic in which a curse born in Japan is simultaneously unleashed in the United States. Those who encounter it are consumed by its fury and meet a violent fate.

The film stars Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho and Betty Gilpin, with horror movie legend Lin Shaye (Insidious, Ouija) and Jacki Weaver.

The film made $44 million at the global box office.

Special features include:

  • “The Cast of the Cursed” featurette, an inside look at the evil that lurks behind the doors at 44 Reyburn Dr., as key creatives and cast members explore The Grudge characters and discuss their experience working with writer-director Nicolas Pesce;
  • “Designing Death” featurette, exploring the character make-up design process and the film’s visual look involved in creating the myriad of ghosts;
  • “Easter Egg Haunt” featurette, in which Pesce brings to light the plethora of hidden Easter Eggs throughout the film, which are homages to the previous works in the Ju-On franchise; and
  • extended scenes and an alternative ending.

 

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‘Clown-Roaming’ Horror Comedy Film ‘Gags the Clown’ Due on Disc in November

Doppelgänger Releasing, the genre label of arthouse distributor Music Box Films, has set a Nov. 26 release date for Gags the Clown, a horror comedy directed by Adam Krause and starring Lauren Ashley Carter.

The film will be available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD at suggested retail prices of $24.95 and $19.95. Gags the Clown premiered at the 2018 Cinepocalypse and was released earlier this year on VOD platforms.

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions include a slew of bonus features, including the original short film, a gag reel, a feature commentary with the filmmakers, and a storyboard comparison of the ending.

Inspired by the viral media frenzy and worldwide phenomenon of “clown roaming,” Gags the Clown follows the story of an unidentified man in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who has captured worldwide attention for roaming the streets late at night dressed as a clown. His actions catch the attention of a reporter, who attempts to uncover the identity of the clown known as Gags, while broadcasting his “clown hunt” on social media.

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Gags the Clown is based on the short feature film Gags, a 2016 production that won director Adam Krause Best Director honors at the Madtown Horror Film Festival and the Above and Beyond Award at the Green Bay Film Festival.

The short film made headlines thanks to a 2016 marketing campaign in which mysterious photos of the clown lurking in Green Bay unsettled residents, and set off a string of scary clown sightings across the country.

MVD, Rue Morgue Team on ‘Midnight Movie Society’ SVOD Service

Independent distributor MVD Entertainment Group and Rue Morgue, a magazine devoted to horror fiction, have joined to launch a curated subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service specializing in extreme underground, taboo and cult horror movies.

The partners promise that the “Midnight Movie Society” will provide genre film fans with a library of “shocking underground, outrageous gore, creature features, cult classics and much more. Those with a taste for the weirdest and wildest reaches of genre cinema will not be disappointed.”

The new SVOD service launches Sept. 13 on iOS, Roku and the web. The cost is $4.99 per month, or $47.88 for a one-year subscription.

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“The bigger platforms are catering to the masses and have gone puritanical in many cases, making it very difficult for filmmakers to reach their audience,” said MVD COO Ed Seaman. “MVD has a great deal of this type of content and when it is live on major platforms, it performs really well — maybe too well for some of the mainstream platforms.”

Seaman said that the Midnight Movie Society also will cater to more traditional horror fans, pulling from the thousands of film hours in MVD’s vast catalog. In addition, Rue Morgue will be finding and curating fresh and unusual content for the service.

“As larger streaming platforms continue to crack down on content, there’s an urgent need to create a space for boundary-pushing films unencumbered by strangling content restrictions,” said Adrianna Gober, director of programming. “As a lifelong horror fan, I’m proud and excited to be working with MVD Entertainment Group and genre champions Rue Morgue Magazine to bring Midnight Movie Society to the masses.”

Rob Hyman, MVD’s digital director, said Rue Morgue is a “household name among horror fans, and we anticipate our SVOD service and selection will be embraced by their fans.”