Creepshow: Season 1

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

RLJ/Shudder;
Horror;
$34.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Tobin Bell, Adrienne Barbeau, Giancarlo Esposito, Cailey Fleming, Jeffrey Combs, DJ Qualls, Bruce Davison, David Arquette, Dana Gould, Tricia Helfer, Scott Mescudi.

This original series of the Shudder streaming service continues the tradition of anthology horror established in the 1982 movie Creepshow directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, as well as the 1987 sequel written by Romero.

The new series, executive produced by Greg Nicotero of “The Walking Dead,” offers two short stories per hourlong episode, with six episodes in the first season. The series expands on the visual style of the films, which were heavily influenced by horror comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. Episodes frequently use comic book-style artwork for story introductions and scene transitions, as well as a vibrant color palette for the title designs and linking materials.

The shorts are a mixture of adaptations of existing stories and original material. They range from the downright disgusting to the generally creepy, typically offering a helpful metaphor to a real-life problem. For example, the first story in the first episode, “Grey Matter,” presents an allegory for the dangerous effects of alcoholism on friends and family, in transforming a drunk father into a monster who eats local pets and absorbs anyone he comes into contact with, causing him to duplicate and spread his numbers to the rest of society.

The back half of the episode is the charming “The House of the Head,” about a little girl (Cailey Fleming of “The Walking Dead”) whose dollhouse seems to be haunted by a strange miniature rotting head that causes the figures of the family to move while she isn’t looking (shades of the Weeping Angels from “Doctor Who”) leading to her discovering them in new poses of varying degrees of terror as she tries to figure out what is happening to them.

Those looking for a more comedic mix in their horror should like “The Finger,” which stars DJ Qualls as a loner who stumbles upon a weird demon-like creature that ends up doing his bidding in ridding the world of the people who plague his life.

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The Blu-ray is absolutely loaded with bonus materials, including several episode commentaries, featurettes for each episode and myriad behind-the-scenes galleries. There’s also a special featurette about the Easter Eggs in the episodes that reference the movies — and as a fun touch it’s set up like an unlabled old-school DVD Easter Egg you actually have to search for in the menus. It’s a nice touch that lends to the throwback nature of the series.

The Invisible Man (2020)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Horror;
Box Office $64.91 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $44.98UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for some strong bloody violence and language.
Stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Sotrm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Writer-director Leigh Whannell’s new version of The Invisible Man is a masterfully crafted example of using a relatively simple premise to build suspense while keeping the audience guessing.

The script is centered on the concept of the “invisible man” as a metaphor for the constant fear experienced by a someone who escapes a traumatic situation only to wonder if they will eventually be found and hunted by their abuser.

Elisabeth Moss gives a compelling performance as Cecilia, who in the opening scenes carries out an elaborate plan to leave her boyfriend, Adrian, (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) in the middle of the night while he sleeps. We never see their relationship in play, only hear about it second-hand from her, which immediately puts us in her head and begins the mind games that make the film so effective.

Cecilia gets word that Adrian has died, and begins to ease out of her fears once she learns he left her a $5 million inheritance. Yet she can’t shake the feeling that he’s somehow still haunting her, surmising that as a leading scientist in the field of optics he was able to construct some sort of invisibility suit.

Her friends and family begin to doubt her sanity, and even the audience is left to wonder what’s really going on, and how much of her troubles are either in her head or a result of her losing touch with reality.

Even when the film peels back the curtain about what’s really going on, we’re still left guessing as to who is doing what, who is planning what, and whether there’s another layer of manipulation we have yet to comprehend.

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And to think, the studio’s original plans for the film would have had it be a more conventional remake starring Johnny Depp as the title character, fitting into the shared “Dark Universe” of Universal movie monsters before that franchise became a non-starter after the awful 2017 version of The Mummy snuffed it out.

Instead, it was re-conceived by Whannell, co-creator (along with James Wan) of the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises, and placed under the auspices of producer Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions, experts at crafting low-budget suspense thrillers for big returns (even before the coronavirus lockdowns cut short its theatrical run, the film grossed $126 million worldwide against a budget o $7 million).

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The Blu-ray includes a terrific solo commentary track by Whannell, which is one of the better examples of such an accompaniment nowadays. Both witty and effusive, Whannell delves into the challenges of shooting the film in Australia to make it look like America, while setting up shots to cover the empty spaces where someone we can’t see might be standing.

The Blu-ray also includes nine deleted scenes totaling about 13-and-a-half minutes. The scenes are pretty good on their own and even inform some of the scenes in the final film, but why they were removed is understandable.

There are also four making-of featurettes that pack a lot of insight into less than a half-hour of screentime. The primary one is the 11-minute “Director’s Journey With Leigh Whannell,” which serves as a basic behind-the-scenes featurette and is a good companion to the commentary.

The four-minute “Moss Manifested” puts the spotlight on Elisabeth Moss and her interpretation of the role, and the five-and-a-half-minute “The Players” focuses on the rest of the cast.

Finally, “Timeless Terror” examines how Whannell reimagined the story and imbued it with modern themes.

‘Girls Just Wanna Have Blood,’ ‘Weird Fiction’ Horror DVDs on Tap in May From MVD and Wild Eye

The horror films Girls Just Wanna Have Blood and Weird Fiction are available on DVD in May from Wild Eye Releasing and MVD Entertainment Group.

Due May 26 is Girls Just Wanna Have Blood (2019). When social outcast Jessica is accepted into a trio of teenage vampires, she finds herself thrust into a nocturnal world of murder, drugs and all-night parties as they stalk the patrons of local bars and clubs. Meanwhile, a mysterious, foreign vampire hunter searches the underworld in hopes of putting a stake right through their plan to party forever. Directed by Anthony Cantanese (Hi-Death, Coal, Zombie Rocks), the film stars stars Gigi Gustin (Hijab, Slice, Game Over, Little Darling), Bettina Skye (Super Dark Times, “Ugly Betty,” The Adjustment Bureau, “The Eric Andre Show”) and David M. Sitbon (Creed II, Paranormal Captivity, Hollywood Werewolf, Head Cases). Extras include a director’s commentary, a music video, the Preacher Ketterson infomercial, the short film “Vampire’s Bedroom” and trailers.

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Available now is Weird Fiction (2018), featuring retro-inspired horror for a modern audience. The “Collector’s Midnight Halloween Special” airs once a year, with four tales of terror. Follow the story of a group of teens in search of a missing body, a babysitter’s horrifying night, a vampire adult star, and two girls as they uncover what may be the end of the world as we know it. With exposure from several domestic and international festivals, Weird Fiction stars Taylor Rhoades (Spine Chiller) and features music by Chan Walrus (Andrew W.K. Party Safari, Hot Tub Party Massacre, 60 Seconds to Die). Extras include a director’s commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary and trailers.

‘Teenage Hitchhikers,’ ‘Ator: The Fighting Eagle’ Among Titles on Disc in May From Dark Force and MVD

The cult film Teenage Hitchhikers and the sci-fi adventure Ator: the Fighting Eagle are among the titles available on disc in May from Dark Force Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

Available now on DVD and Blu-ray is the 1970s cult exploitation film Teenage Hitchhikers. In the film, Mouse (Kathie Christopher, The Taking of Christina) and Bird (Sandra Peabody, Last House on the Left) are a couple of sassy and sexy young hitchhikers who embark on a cross country trip in search of freedom, excitement and independence. The lovely ladies use their bodies as currency and encounter a diverse array of libidinous folks on their journey. Available for the first time on Blu-ray, the release features a new HD master from the original uncut 35mm camera negative with extensive scene by scene color correction; audio commentary with director of photography Bill Lamond; and a new 2019 interview with writer/director Gerri Sedley. Featured in Quentin Tarantino’s “QT Fest,” the film also stars Claire Wilbur (Score) and Margaret Whitton (The Secret of My Success, Major League).

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Due on DVD and Blu-ray May 26 is the horror double feature of The Gates of Hell and Psycho From Texas (1980). In The Gates of Hell, a reporter and a psychic race to close the gates of hell after the suicide of a clergyman caused them to open, allowing the dead to rise from their graves. It’s a new HD master created from a U.S. theatrical 35mm print. In Psycho from Texas, a drifter/hitman is hired by a local businessman to kidnap the local oil baron. The hitman had been reared in squalor, suffering the abuses of his whoring mama. When the baron escapes, his assistant must chase him while the hitman takes care of a few loose ends. The HD master is created from the only available source masters with extensive scene by scene color correction. The films are available in Dark Force Entertainment’s exclusive “Drive-In Mode” featuring cult director Damon Packard.

Also coming on DVD and Blu-ray May 26 is Breeders (a remake of the 1986 movie Breeders and also known as Deadly Instincts). When a meteorite crash lands onto a Boston college campus and an alien beast is released, only one man understands its mission to mate. From the depths of an all-girls college, the monster stalks his prey in a cat-and-mouse chase until the final conflict where only one species can survive. The 1997 cult classic DTV sci-fi horror entry stars Samantha Womack (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Todd Jensen (It’s Alive), Oliver Tobias (The Wicked Lady), Clifton Lloyd Bryan (The Fifth Element) and Melanie Walters (“Gavin and Stacey”).

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Finally, for fans of Conan: The Barbarian and “Hercules” comes the sci-fi fantasy Ator: The Fighting Eagle Collector’s Edition (1982) May 26 on DVD and Blu-ray. In the film’s lore, it is written that the son of Thorn will put an end to the tragic dynasty of the Spider. Thus, the Grand Priest of the Spider orders the slaughter of the newborn son. However, the old Griba hides the newborn safe from the slaughter, and he grows up strong and brave with his adoptive parents. Miles O’Keeffe (Tarzan The Ape Man) plays Ator, son of Thorn. He falls in love with Sunya (Ritza Brown), whom he believes to be his sister. When the truth is revealed that Ator was adopted, he gains the approval for the marriage. But on their wedding day, the Black Knights, guards of the Grand Priest, begin a massacre in Ator’s village as they search for old Griba and they kidnap Sunya, the bride. Ator must then begin his long, perilous journey toward the Temple of the Spider. On his way he learns the secrets of martial arts and befriends Roon (Sabrina Siani), a thief Amazon who joins Ator on the journey to the temple. Together they conquer danger after danger. The film is directed by Italian cult director Joe D’Amato (Death Smiles on a Murderer). The HD master was made from the only existing 35mm print with extensive restoration. Ator: The Fighting Eagle was featured in season 12 of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

‘Blood Tide,’ ‘White Fire,’ ‘The Woman’ and Tsukamoto Boxed Set Coming to Blu-ray May 26 From MVD

Blood Tide, White Fire, The Woman and a Tsukamoto boxed set are coming to Blu-ray May 26 from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Blood Tide (1982), a horror title from director/co-writer Richard Jefferies and producer/co-writer Nico Mastorakis, stars James Earl Jones as a treasure hunter that mistakenly awakens an ancient underwater beast on a small Greek island. The film is restored in 4K and features a new commentary with Jefferies and a new interview with Mastorakis; a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Mike Gingold.

Musician turned actor Robert Ginty stars in White Fire (1985), an action thriller from director Jean-Marie Pallardy. The film follows a pair of brother-and-sister jewel thieves that encounter tragedy while on the hunt for the elusive “White Fire” diamond. The plan hits an unexpected snag with the arrival of smooth-talking badass Noah Barclay, played by Fred Williamson (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn). The film features a theme song from ’80s British rockers Limelight. Special features include a feature-length audio commentary by critic Kat Ellinger; “Surviving the Fire,” a new interview with writer-director Pallardy; “Enter the Hammer,” a new interview with Williamson; and “Diamond Cutter,” a new interview with editor Bruno Zincone.

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The Woman, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, stars Pollyanna McIntosh as the last surviving member of a deadly clan of feral cannibals. While out hunting, all-American dad Sean Bridgers discovers the woman and decides to capture her with plans to make her more “civilized.” What ensues is a brutal, bloody nightmare. The new 4K restoration, supervised by directory Lucky McKee, includes such special features as new commentary with director McKee, editor Zach Passero, sound designer Andrew Smetek and composer Sean Spillane; new commentary by McIntosh; commentary by critic Scott Weinberg; a Frightfest panel discussion; and making-of featurettes.

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Finally comes the box set Solid Metal Nightmares: The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto, featuring shorts and eight feature-length films, including Tetsuo: The Iron ManTetsuo II: Body HammerTokyo FistBullet Ballet, and the home video debut of Tsukamoto’s latest effort Killing. Among the numerous special features are “An Assault on the Senses,” a new visual essay on the films and style of Tsukamoto by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp and multiple archival interviews with Tsukamoto, covering every film in the collection.

BayView, Horrornews.net Create New Label for Horror Home Video

BayView Entertainment and its Widowmaker Films division have partnered with Horrornews.net to create the new horror video distribution label “HNN Presents.”

“HNN Presents” leverages the insider knowledge of the horror field from Horrornews.net with the distribution experience of BayView Entertainment to offer the best films in the horror genre from around the globe, according to the press release.

“HNN Presents” titles will be available on both streaming and physical media platforms, and the first releases are tentatively scheduled for Summer 2020.

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“Great things in business are never done randomly, they’re done with strategy and with unique partnerships,” said Widowmaker Films/Bayview Entertainment marketing manager Nisreen Damatti. “In this partnership, BayView and HNN are going to fill in the missing parts to accomplish new mutual benefits and success for both businesses.”

Horrornews.net is opening up submissions to all filmmakers for horror releases. Contact joyhorror@horrornews.net

Horror Film ‘Gutterballs’ Rolls to Disc From MVD

The horror film Gutterballs is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Unearthed Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

It’s the first time the film has been released on Blu-ray.

In the film, a brutally sadistic rape leads to a series of bizarre gory murders during a midnight disco bowl-a-rama at a popular bowling alley. One by one, players of two teams meet blood-drenched gruesome deaths at the hand of a black bowling-gloved masked killer.

After Gutterballs was submitted to the MPAA Rating Board, the film was released unrated after the director was told that almost 20 minutes would have to be cut to avoid an ‘NC-17’ rating. The film has a total of 516 uses of the F-word, ranking it fourth of all time for total usage of the F-word in a motion picture.

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The film is directed by Ryan Nicholson (Torched) whose special effects work can be seen on “The X-Files,” “The Outer Limits,” “Stargate” and “Andromeda.”

Bonuses include a making-of featurette, interviews and outtakes.

Season One of ‘Creepshow’ Coming to Digital and Disc From RLJE

RLJE Films has picked up select rights to season one of “Creepshow” from parent AMC Networks’ Shudder streaming service and will release it June 2 digitally, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

The six-episode season of the horror-comedy from showrunner Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”) stars Tobin Bell (Saw franchise), Adrienne Barbeau (Escape From New York), Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”), Cailey Fleming (“The Walking Dead”), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), Scott ‘Kid Cudi’ Mescudi (Bill & Ted Face the Music), DJ Qualls (“The Man in the High Castle”), Bruce Davison (X-Men), David Arquette (Scream franchise), Dana Gould (“Stan Against Evil”) and Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”).

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The new anthology series is based on George A. Romero’s 1982 horror comedy film. A comic book comes to life in a series of 12 vignettes over six episodes, exploring terrors from murder to the supernatural and unexplainable, including haunted dollhouses, werewolves, murderous goblins, villainous trick-or-treaters, the dead and medical marvels.

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The six episodes were directed by Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”), Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), John Harrison (Book of Blood), Rob Schrab (“Community”), David Bruckner (The Ritual) and Roxanne Benjamin (Body at Brighton Rock).

Bonus materials include more than three hours of interviews, featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage, audio commentary tracks with the cast and crew for each of the episodes, and a 24-page comic art booklet.

Update (5/12/20): The original street date of May 19 was changed to June 2 by RLJ.

‘Elvira: Mistress of the Dark,’ ‘Sixteen Candles’ Among Titles Coming to Blu-ray From Arrow and MVD in April

Beyond the Door, Sixteen Candles, Why Don’t You Just Die!, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and The Wind are coming to Blu-ray from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group in April.

Due on April 7 is Beyond the Door (1974), Ovidio G. Assonitis’ play on The Exorcist. Juliet Mills stars as a young pregnant housewife from San Francisco that becomes possessed by a demonic being. Limited to just 3,000 copies, this release includes the uncut English export version, Devil Within Her, as well as Italy Possessed, a brand-new documentary on Italian exorcism films.

April 14 comes the John Hughes classic Sixteen Candles (1984), starring Molly Ringwald. Arrow presents the film with a brand-new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. The release will also include both the theatrical and extended versions of the film and a collection of new and archived bonus features.

On April 21, Arrow will bow Why Don’t You Just Die!  (2018). The horror-comedy hybrid and feature debut from writer/director Kirill Sokolov is a tale of bloody mayhem that puts a group of terrible people in one room together and unleashes them.

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Coming April 28 is Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988). The queen of horror makes her feature film debut as she travels to Massachusetts to claim an inheritance after quitting her job. The release features a brand-new 4K restoration scanned from the original film elements.

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Also due April 28 is The Wind (1986), making its worldwide Blu-ray debut. Written and directed by cult icon Nico Mastorakis (Island of DeathThe Zero Boys), this slasher is the story of a Los Angeles novelist that travels to remote Greek island in search of isolation to write her newest book. There she witnesses a murder and becomes the killer’s next target during a windy night. The film’s score was composed by Hans Zimmer and Stanley Myers.

‘Fantasy Island’ Unrated Edition Traveling to Digital April 14, Disc May 12

The horror adaptation Fantasy Island will emerge on digital April 14 and Blu-ray and DVD May 12 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

A Blumhouse horror reimagining of the TV show, Fantasy Island follows the enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) who makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come  true  at  a  luxurious  but  remote  tropical  resort. When the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.

The film also stars Maggie Q, Lucy Hale and Michael Rooker.

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Blu-ray, DVD and digital special features include deleted scenes, unrated and theatrical versions of the movie, unrated commentary by director Jeff Wadlow and the cast (on the unrated version only).