Swamp Thing (1982)


$39.95 Blu-ray, $49.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Dick Durock, Ray Wise, Adrienne Barbeau, Louis Jourdan, David Hess, Nicholas Worth.

While it has achieved a certain cult status over time, Wes Craven’s 1982 adaptation of the Swamp Thing comic book wasn’t an immediate contender for inclusion on his list of accomplishments.

Though Craven delivered the film on schedule and under budget, it didn’t make much of an impact on audiences upon its release, with critics calling it more campy than his usual forays into horror. In the Blu-ray commentary, Craven remarks that the film set his career back a bit, and it took a few years for him to rebound with 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (based on a premise he came up with during the production of Swamp Thing).

Len Wein, co-creator of Swamp Thing, notes the early parts of the film are relatively faithful to the character’s origin story in DC Comics, before the rest of the film’s plot veers off the rails a bit.

In the comics, Swamp Thing is a human/plant hybrid who defends the swamps of the Southern United States, created when a scientist named Dr. Alec Holland, who is working on a formula to strengthen the world’s food supply, is accidentally doused in his bioengineered chemical formula when his lab is destroyed by criminals.

The film’s focus is really split between three main characters. Ray Wise appears in early scenes as Holland, shown conducting experiments in a highly guarded lab in the middle of a swamp. Adrienne Barbeau plays Alice, a government agent sent in as a replacement when another worker is killed. Louis Jourdan plays Arcane, leader of a cabal that wants to steal Holland’s formulas and the primary reason for the security detail.

Jourdan has a howler of an introduction, peeling off a disguise to reveal he’s been embedded among the security detail the entire time and wants Holland’s new formula for creating highly adaptable plants by combining them with animal DNA. Holland’s attempts to destroy the formula set him on fire, and he disappears into the murky depths of the swamp.

Arcane then collects Holland’s journals and sets off to re-create the formula for himself. But Alice has the final journal with the key to making the formula work, and escapes into the swamp, where she is pursued by Arcane’s goons.

However, Holland emerges to protect her, transformed into a brutish humanoid plant creature now played by Dick Durock. (Several observers in the bonus materials liken him to a plant version of The Incredible Hulk.)

In a classic trope, the heroes attempt to hide the book rather than destroy it, which all but assures Arcane will eventually get a hold of it in his attempts to create his own elemental super soldier, which turns out to be a sword-wielding man-boar thing. From there the film descends from the cheesy to the ridiculous, culminating in a fight between two guys in rubber suits.

In the years following its release, Swamp Thing’s ‘B’-movie sensibilities led it to become a modest success on home video, eventually spawning the 1989 sequel The Return of Swamp Thing, which Craven said he was never told about and only learned of after it was released.

Swamp Thing has its own rather sordid home video history as well, with an old DVD once discovered to have contained the nudity-laden international cut of the film rather than the American ‘PG’ theatrical cut. Later DVD and Blu-ray releases contained just the ‘PG’ version.

MVD Entertainment’s new edition of the film represents a definitive release, containing both the ‘PG’ and unrated cuts in newly remastered versions on both Blu-ray and 4K. The image quality is exceptional, with bright, vivid shades of green from the swamp contrasted nicely with Barbeau’s colorful wardrobe. The unrated cut runs two minutes more but adds nothing to the story. The primary difference is the international cut includes a minute of Barbeau bathing topless in a lake an hour into the movie. There’s also some nudity involving strippers at a party thrown by Arcane.

Aside from the bonus footage of Barbeau, the highlight of the film is the performance of Jourdan, a French actor coming off a BBC adaptation of Count Dracula. He makes for a captivating on-screen villain, and his Arcane is essentially the template for his performance as the scheming James Bond baddie Kamal Khan in 1983’s Octopussy.

MVD’s new Blu-ray and 4K editions carry over pretty much all the previous bonus materials from earlier releases, most of which come from Shout! Factory’s 2013 Blu-ray. A couple of featurettes, one about the design of the creatures and one about the film’s influence on cult cinema, are from a 2019 U.K. release by 88 Films.

The theatrical cut of the film on both 4K and Blu-ray includes two commentaries, one with Craven moderated by Sean Clark, the other by makeup effects artist William Munns moderated by Michael Felsher.

The regular Blu-ray edition, offered as a standalone or with the 4K combo pack, includes all the extras. The 4K disc offers just the commentaries as extras.

‘Scream 2’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD Oct. 4 From Paramount

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the sequel Scream 2 arrives on 4K Ultra HD for the first time on Oct. 4 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Originally released on Dec. 12, 1997, in the United States, Scream 2 has been newly remastered in 4K and will be released both for digital purchase and in a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray set that includes legacy bonus content, as well as access to a digital copy of the film. The discs will be available in both standard and Steelbook packaging.

In the film, away at college, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) thinks she’s finally put the shocking murders that shattered her life behind her — until a copycat killer begins acting out a real-life sequel.

Now, as history eerily repeats itself, ambitious reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) and other Scream survivors find themselves trapped in a terrifyingly clever plotline where no one is safe or beyond suspicion. 

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The release features legacy bonus content, including audio commentary by director Wes Craven, producer Marianne Maddalena and editor Patrick Lussier; deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Craven, Maddalena and Lussier); outtakes; a featurette; two music videos, Master P’s “Scream” and Kottonmouth Kings’ “Suburban Life”; the theatrical trailer; and TV spots.

‘Scream 2’ Steelbook Packaging


Scream (2022)


Street Date 4/5/22;
Box Office $81.62 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $34.99 UHD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.
Stars Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid, Mikey Madison, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Sonia Ammar, Marley Shelton, Kyle Gallner, Heather Matarazzo, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich.

Rather than use the idea of a franchise relaunch to make a standalone movie unconnected to what came before, or ignoring previous sequels, creators of the new Scream explicitly wanted a continuation that honored all the previous installments.

Thus a lot of care went into crafting the fifth “Scream” film, and the result might be the best entry in the franchise since the 1996 original.

The new Scream focuses on a girl named Samantha (Melissa Barrera), a former resident of Woodsboro who is drawn back into town when her younger sister (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by the latest copycat Ghostface killer, 25 years following the events of the original film.

Sam turns out to have a secret connection to a character from the original film, and imagines communicating with that individual in a way that might garner some comparisons with “Dexter.”

To help make sense of what’s happening, Sam and her boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid), recruit Dewey (David Arquette), which subsequently ends up dragging Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) back into the picture as well.

In sticking with the tradition of “Scream” movies dissecting the horror movie genre while being part of it, the new edition manages to cleverly assemble a number of homages to the original while also layering in an amusing satire of fan culture.

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The film’s home video configurations include separate DVD, Blu-ray and 4K releases that are not combo packs (ie, the 4K release does not also include a regular Blu-ray), with digital copies included with the Blu-ray and 4K versions.

Extras are included on both the 4K and Blu-ray discs, led by an enthusiastic and informative commentary with co-writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, co-directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, and executive producer Chad Villella.

There are also three behind-the-scenes featurettes:  the seven-and-a-half-minute “New Blood,” about the new characters; the eight-and-a-half-minute “Bloodlines,” about connections to the earlier films; and the seven-and-a-half-minute “In the Shadow of the Master,” a tribute to the late Wes Craven, who directed the first four films.

Rounding out the extras are three minutes of some pretty good deleted scenes, and the trailer for the 1996 film.


‘Hills Have Eyes’ on 4K Among Titles Due on Disc From Arrow and MVD in November

The horror classic The Hills Have Eyes on 4K Ultra HD headlines the disc titles coming from Arrow Films and MVD Entertainment Group in November.

The iconic The Hills Have Eyes makes it 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut on Nov. 9. Horror master Wes Craven achieved critical and commercial success with the likes of Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street — but for many genre fans, the director’s seminal 1977 effort The Hills Have Eyes remains his masterpiece.

Taking an ill-advised detour en route to California, the Carter family soon run into trouble when their campervan breaks down in the middle of the desert. Stranded, the family find themselves at the mercy of a group of monstrous cannibals lurking in the surrounding hills. With their lives under threat, the Carters have no choice but to fight back by any means necessary.

The new release features a new 4K restoration of the film, viewable with both original and alternate endings. Extras include six postcards; a reversible fold-out poster; a limited edition 40-page booklet featuring writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens and a consideration of the “Hills” franchise by Arrow producer Ewan Cant, illustrated with original archive stills and posters; audio commentary with actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Susan Lanier and Martin Speer; audio commentary by academic Mikel J. Koven; audio commentary with Craven and Peter Locke; “Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes,” a making-of documentary featuring interviews with Craven, Locke, actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier, Dee Wallace and director of photography Eric Saarinen; “Family Business,”an interview with actor Martin Speer; “The Desert Sessions,” an interview with composer Don Peake; outtakes; an alternate ending; trailers and TV Spots; an image gallery; the original screenplay; and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper.

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Due Nov. 16 on Blu-ray is Sailor Suit and Machine Gun, in which a perky high-schooler takes on the mob in genre-bender that riffs on the yakuza film, coming-of-age drama, inventively adapted from Jiro Akagawa’s popular novel by director Shinji Somai. Hoshi Izumi is a young innocent forced to grow up quickly when her father dies and she finds herself next in line as the boss of a moribund yakuza clan. Wrenched from the security of her classroom and thrust into the heart of the criminal underworld, she must come to terms with the fact that her actions hold the key to the life or death of the men under her command as they come under fire from rival gangs. Presented in both its original theatrical and longer complete versions, and the first time one of Somai’s films has been released on home video in the West, this landmark work from his early career was responsible for launching teen talent Hiroko Yakushimaru (Legend of the Eight Samurai; Detective Story) as the iconic face of a generation, with the catchy theme song she performs indelibly etched into the zeitgeist of early-1980s Japan.

Nov. 23 comes 1989’s Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge! on Blu-ray. In the film, high school sweethearts Eric Matthews and Melody Austin are so in love, but their youthful romance is cut tragically short when Eric apparently dies in a fire that engulfs his family home. One year later and Melody is trying to move on with her life, taking up a job at the newly built Midwood Mall along with her friends. But the mall, which stands on the very site of Eric’s former home, has an uninvited guest — a shadowy, scarred figure which haunts its airducts and subterranean passageways, hellbent on exacting vengeance on the mall’s crooked developers. The film is directed by Richard Friedman (Scared Stiff, Doom Asylum) and features Pauly Shore and Morgan Fairchild.

Nov. 30 comes director Giorgio Ferroni’s period horror Italian-style 1960 shocker Mill of the Stone Women on Blu-ray, a classic tale of terror redolent with the atmosphere of vintage Hammer Horror. Young art student Hans von Arnam (Pierre Brice, Night of the Damned) arrives by barge at an old mill to write a monograph about its celebrated sculptures of women in the throes of death and torture, maintained and curated by the mill’s owner, the hermetic Professor Wahl (Herbert Böhme, Secret of the Red Orchid). But when Hans encounters the professor’s beautiful and mysterious daughter Elfi (Scilla Gabel, Modesty Blaise), his own fate becomes inexorably bound up with hers, and with the shocking secret that lies at the heart of the so-called Mill of the Stone Women. The first Italian horror film to be shot in color, Mill of the Stone Women prefigured a raft of other spaghetti nightmares, including the work of maestros Mario Bava and Dario Argento.

‘Scream’ Coming to 4K Blu-ray for 25th Anniversary

Paramount Home Entertainment will release the 1996 slasher film Scream for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Oct. 19 to mark its 25th anniversary. A 4K Steelbook edition and a newly remastered Blu-ray also will be available. The discs will include access to a digital copy of the film.

Directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, Scream deconstructs the horror genre by paying homage to the conventions of slasher films while upending them with clever twists and witty dialogue.

After a series of mysterious deaths befalls their small town, an offbeat group of friends led by Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) becomes the target of a masked killer. As the body count rises, Sidney and her friends turn to the “rules” of horror films to help navigate the real-life terror they’re living in. The film also stars Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, Rose McGowan and Drew Barrymore.

The new Scream 4K and Blu-ray releases will include the new retrospective featurette A Bloody Legacy: Scream 25 Years Later, a look back at the film and Craven, featuring archival behind-the-scenes footage and new interviews with Campbell, Cox and Arquette, as well as Williamson and the directors and other cast members from the new installment in the franchise scheduled to premiere in theaters in 2022.

Other extras include commentary by Craven and Williamson, a production featurette, behind-the-scenes featurettes “On the Scream Set” and “Drew Barrymore,” and a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers focused on the questions “What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?” and “Why are People so Fascinated by Horror Films?”

In addition, Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures are re-releasing Scream in select cinemas Oct. 10-11.

‘Sartana’ Spaghetti Westerns, ‘The Last House on the Left,’ ‘Doom Asylum’ Among Cult Films Coming on Blu-ray in July From Arrow and MVD

Several cult films on Blu-ray are due in July from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Due July 3 is the Spaghetti Western limited-edition five-disc Blu-ray set, “The Complete Sartana,” featuring all five original “Sartana” movies — If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death, I Am Sartana Your Angel of DeathI Am Sartana Trade Your Guns for a CoffinHave a Good Funeral My Friend…Sartana Will Pay and Light the Fuse…Sartana is Coming. All five films are newly restored with special features, including audio commentary on If You Meet Sartana… Pray for Your Death by filmmaker Mike Siegel; audio commentaries on I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death and Have a Good Funeral My Friend… Sartana Will Pay by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke; Gianfranco Parolini on If You Meet Sartana… Pray for Your Death, a brand-new interview with the writer-director; Fabbio Piccioni on If You Meet Sartana… Pray for Your Death, a brand-new interview with the writer; Sal Borgese on I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death and Light the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming, two brand-new interviews with the actor; Ernesto Gastaldi on I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death and Light the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming, two brand-new interviews with the writer; Roberto Dell’Acqua on Have a Good Funeral My Friend… Sartana Will Pay, a brand-new interview with the actor; and many more.

Also coming July 3 on Blu-ray is the directorial debut of horror legend Wes Craven, The Last House on the Left. Special features include three cuts of the film newly restored in 2K from original film elements; a double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork; new audio commentary by podcasters Bill Ackerman and Amanda Reyes; archival audio commentary with writer-director Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham; archival audio commentary with stars David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln; “Junior’s Story,” a new interview with Sheffler; Sheffler in conversation at the American Cinematheque; a new interview with wardrobe and make-up artist Anne Paul; “Songs in the Key of Krug,” a never-before-seen archive interview with Hess; “Celluloid Crime of the Century,” an archival documentary featuring interviews with Craven, Cunningham, and actors Hess, Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Sheffler and Martin Kove; “Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on The Left,” an archival interview with Craven; “Scoring Last House on the Left,” an archival interview with actor-composer Hess; “It’s Only a Movie: The Making of The Last House on the Left,” an archival documentary; “The Craven Touch,” a new featurette bringing together interviews with a number of Craven’s collaborators, including Cunningham, composer Charles Bernstein, producer Peter Locke, cinematographer Mark Irwin and actress Amanda Wyss; “Early Days and ‘Night of Vengeance,’” in which filmmaker Roy Frumkes remembers Craven and Last House on the Left; “Tales That’ll Tear Your Heart Out,” excerpts from an unfinished Craven short; and more.

Seijun Suzuki’s yakuza film Detective Bureau 2-3 Go to Hell Bastards! arrives on Blu-ray July 10, starring original Diamond Guy, Jo Shishido. Special features include an interview with historian and Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns; a gallery of original production stills; a theatrical trailer; and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin.

The 1980s splatter slasher Doom Asylum comes out on Blu-ray July 17. It stars Kristen Davis (“Sex and the City”) in the story of a group of randy teenagers go up against a hideously deformed maniac armed with a wide selection of surgical tools. Special features include a new audio commentary with screenwriter Rick Marx; “Tina’s Terror,” a new interview with actress Ruth Collins; “Movie Madhouse,” a new interview with director of photography Larry Revene; “Morgues & Mayhem,” a new interview with special make-up effects creator Vincent J. Guastini; archival Interviews with producer Alexander W. Kogan Jr., director Richard Friedman and production manager Bill Tasgal; a still gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourne; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes.

Also coming July 17 on Blu-ray is a 2K restoration of Sergio Martino’s horror title The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale, featuring lush views of the Greek coast. Special features include audio commentary with writer Ernesto Gastaldi, moderated by filmmaker Federico Caddeo (in Italian with English subtitles); a new interview with star George Hilton; a new interview with director Martino; a new analysis of Martino’s films by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte, “Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film”; a new video essay by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films; a theatrical trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Rachael Nisbet and Howard Hughes, and a biography of star Anita Strindberg by Peter Jilmstad.

A Blu-ray collection featuring the fifth and sixth films by South Korean filmmaker Hong Sangsoo, Women Is the Future of Man and Tale of Cinema, is available July 17. Extras include newly translated optional English subtitles; newly filmed introductions to both films by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns; interviews with Kim Sangkyung, Lee Kiwoo and Uhm Jiwon, the stars of Tale of Cinema; an introduction to Woman Is the Future of Man by director Martin Scorsese; “The Making Woman Is the Future of Man,” a featurette on the film’s production; interviews with the actors of Woman Is the Future of Man; a stills gallery; original trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Michael Sicinski.

Finally, the New Zealand cult classic from Vincent Ward, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, blending time travel, sci-fi and medieval fantasy, comes out July 24 on Blu-ray. Special features include a new appreciation by film critic Nick Roddick, recorded exclusively for the release; “Kaleidoscope: Vincent Ward – Film Maker,” a 1989 documentary profile of the director made for New Zealand television; a theatrical trailer; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kim Newman and an introduction by Ward.