Crackle Plus Launching Original Zombie Horror Film ‘The Clearing’ June 4

Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment-owned ad-supported VOD platform, May 21 announced it would launch the original zombie horror film The Clearing on June 4. The film will debut on May 25 on the Crackle Channel on Amazon Fire TV devices, available for early access in 34 million U.S. homes.

Crackle, which is minority-owned by Sony Pictures Television, features other exclusive content, including Crown Vic, On Point, ’85: The Greatest Team in Football History, Wonders of the Sea, Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life and Going From Broke.

The Clearing stars Liam McIntyre (“Spartacus”) as a father who takes his daughter, played by Aundrea Smith (“Diary of a Future President”), on a weekend camping trip during a mysterious disease outbreak. The film also stars Sydelle Noel (“GLOW”) and Steven Swadling (“Kickboxer”).

Set at the dawn of a zombie apocalypse, The Clearing unfolds amid tensions between Tom (McIntyre) and his wife (Sydelle Noel) over his parental responsibilities and the time he spends with his young daughter Mira (Smith). Tom takes Mira on a camping trip, only to discover the impending disaster that leaves the pair trapped in a clearing in the woods, fighting to make it out alive.

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“For the segment of our audience that loves zombie movies, The Clearing follows in the footsteps of our other horror offerings, such as Office Uprising and the Dead Rising film series,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

The film was acquired by Screen Media Ventures, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and the supplier of original content for Crackle Plus. Seth Needle, SVP of Worldwide acquisitions at Screen Media Ventures, negotiated the deal on behalf of Crackle Plus.

Crackle is also available on Roku TV and streaming devices, Apple TV, most Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), Gaming Consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), on iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktop at Crackle.com.

‘Zombie’ and ‘Maniac’ Coming to 4K UHD Blu-ray May 26 From MVD and Blue Underground

Restorations of Zombie and Maniac will come out on 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray with Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix May 26 from MVD Entertainment Group and Blue Underground.

“We put a lot of time and work into restoring films like Maniac and Zombie,” said William Lustig, president of Blue Underground. “We’re thrilled that fans can now view them at home in true 4K Ultra HD, with Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range and new Dolby Atmos audio mixes.”

Known in England as Zombie Flesh Eaters and banned as obscene, Zombie (1979) stars Tisa Farrow (The Grim Reaper), Ian McCulloch (Contamination), Al Cliver (Cannibals) and Richard Johnson (The Haunting) in a splatterfest directed by “Maestro of Gore” Lucio Fulci (The House by the Cemetery, The New York Ripper).

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Zombie will be released in a two-disc combo pack.

Special features on the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc include:

  • audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films;
  • audio commentary with Star McCulloch and Diabolik magazine editor Jason J. Slater;
  • “When the Earth Spits Out the Dead,” an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci;
  • theatrical trailers;
  • TV spots;
  • radio spots;
  • a poster and still gallery; and
  • an intro by director Guillermo del Toro.

 

Special features on the Blu-ray disc include:

  • “Zombie Wasteland,” featuring interviews with McCulloch, Johnson and Cliver, and actor/stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua;
  • “Flesh Eaters on Film,” an interview with co-producer Fabrizio De Angelis;
  • “Deadtime Stories,” featuring interviews with co-writers Elisa Briganti and (uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti;
  • ‘World of the Dead,” featuring interviews with cinematographer Sergio Salvati and production and costume designer Walter Patriarca;
  • “Zombi Italiano,” featuring interviews with special make-up effects artists Gianetto De Rossi and Maurizio Trani and special effects artist Gino De Rossi;
  • “Notes on a Headstone,” an interview with composer Fabio Frizzi;
  • “All in the Family,” an interview with Antonella Fulci; and
  • “Zombie Lover,” in which Oscar-winning filmmaker del Toro talks about one of his favorite films.

 

Maniac (1980) follows Frank Zito (writer/executive producer Joe Spinell, Rocky, The Godfather), a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. When these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Frank begins a relationship with a beautiful photographer (Caroline Munro, The Spy Who Loved Me), yet his vile compulsions remain. Directed by Blue Underground president William Lustig (Maniac Cop 2, Vigilante) and featuring gore effects by Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th), the film was originally banned or censored all over the world due to its graphic violence.

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Maniac will also be released in a two-disc combo pack.

Special features on 4K UHD disc include:

  • audio commentary by Lustig and producer Andrew Garroni;
  • audio commentary by Lustig, Savini, editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Spinell’s assistant Luke Walter;
  • theatrical trailers;
  • TV spots; and
  • radio spots.

 

Special features on Blu-ray disc include:

  • outtakes
  • “Returning to the Scene of the Crime with William Lustig”;
  • “Anna and the Killer,” an interview with Munro;
  • “The Death Dealer,” an interview with Savini;
  • “Dark Notes,” an interview with composer Jay Chattaway;
  • “Maniac Men,” an interview with songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky;
  • “The Joe Spinell Story”;
  • the “Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2” promo reel;
  • publicity for the film; and
  • controversy about the film.

 

Horror Sequel ‘Zombie Rampage 2’ Due on DVD Feb. 25 From MVD

The horror sequel Zombie Rampage 2 is stalking to DVD Feb. 25 from MVD Entertainment Group and Wild Eye Raw.

This is the long-awaited followup to Todd Sheets’ 1989 shot-on-video, direct-to-video splatterfest Zombie Rampage. Using newly unearthed footage from his aborted sequel to the VHS hit, Sheets has overseen the completion of the gore-soaked second installment in his zombie filmography that was thought lost forever.

In the film, two warring factions live side by side during the Zombie Rampage apocalypse.

The film stars Dilynn Fawn Harvey (Clownado, Bonehill Road, Hi-Death).

‘Dead Earth’ Stalking to DVD and Digital Jan. 28 From Lionsgate

The action thriller Dead Earth comes out on DVD, digital, and on demand Jan. 28 from Lionsgate.

From filmmaker Wych Kaosayananda, director of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever and The Driver, Dead Earth tells a parallel story to The Driver, focusing on events that happen within the same post-apocalyptic world, with characters and locations intersecting between both films.

In the film, two young women cling to life in an abandoned resort. They must survive in silence, in mortal fear of attracting the hordes of undead. When their compound runs out of fuel, they are forced into the countryside to find gas, resulting in a nightmarish encounter with survivors. But that is nothing compared to the horrors that await them back at home, leading to a deadly confrontation with the evil that surrounds them.

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Zombie Comedy ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ Rises on Digital Sept. 3, Disc Sept. 10 From Universal

The zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die will stalk to digital (including Movies Anywhere) Sept. 3 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Sept. 10 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, the film stars Bill Murray (Olive Kitteridge, Lost in Translation, Ghostbusters), Adam Driver (Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, BlacKkKlansman) and Chloë Sevigny (“The Act,” Boys Don’t Cry) alongside an ensemble cast that includes Tilda Swinton (SuspiriaTrainwreck), Steve Buscemi (Hotel Transylvania Series, Fargo), Danny Glover (Proud MaryLethal Weapon Series), Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriGet Out), Rosie Perez (“Pure,” White Men Can’t Jump), Iggy Pop (Gimme DangerCoffee and Cigarettes), Sara Driver (Stranger than Paradise), RZA (“Snowfall,” The Man with the Iron Fists 2), Selena Gomez (Hotel Transylvania Series, Spring Breakers), Carol Kane (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Dog Day Afternoon), Austin Butler (The Intruders, “Arrow”), Luka Sabbat (“Grown-ish”) and Tom Waits (The Ballad of Buster ScruggsThe Book of Eli).

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In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behavior. No one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will soon start plaguing the town. The dead rise from their graves and savagely attack and feast on the living — and the citizens must battle for their survival.

Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include “Bill Murray: Zombie Hunting Action Star,” in which Murray discusses his fear of being typecast as an action hero; “Behind-the-Scenes of The Dead Don’t Die”; and “Stick Together,” in which Jarmusch’s frequent collaborators talk about his filmmaking style and what makes The Dead Don’t Die stand out from other zombie films.

Korean Zombie Movie ‘Rampant’ Coming to Digital and Disc Feb. 26 from Well Go

The Korean zombie film Rampant will stalk to digital, DVD and Blu-ray combo pack Feb. 26 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

From the studio behind Train to Busan comes the story of murderous creatures known as Night Demons who have overrun ancient Korea. Returning from a long imprisonment abroad, Prince Ganglim discovers that it will take the strength of his entire kingdom to stop the bloody rampage spreading across the nation.

Special features include making-of and behind-the-scenes segments.

FandangoNow Unveils 25 ‘Freshest’ Zombie Movies List to Celebrate ‘Living Dead’ Anniversary

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, Fandango’s on-demand video service FandangoNow Oct. 1 launched a list of the 25 “freshest” zombie movies with the George Romero film taking the top spot.

The list was curated by movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on the movies’Tomatometer scores. (A movie gets a “Fresh” designation when at least 60% of its critic reviews are positive.)

On Oct. 1 only, fans can rent any (or all) of the zombie movies on the list at a discounted rate of $1 off the regular price when using the promo code LIVINGDEAD50 at checkout.

“Zombies owe their popularity today to a little low-budget film from Pittsburgh released 50 years ago today, and Night of the Living Dead has lost none of its power to shock, stun and terrify,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis. “With its stark, in-your-face black-and-white imagery of the dead coming back to flesh-eating life, director George Romero’s film made it clear to 1968 audiences that visceral horror no longer took the shape of Gothic frights like werewolves and vampires. It now looks just like your friends and neighbors, and there is no escape. To celebrate the ‘Dead’s 50th-anniversary FandangoNOW is hosting the top 25 zombie movies that you can view at home today, starting of course with the film that started it all.”

The list with Tomatometer scores is:

Night of Living Dead (1968) 97%
Train To Busan 96%
Dawn of the Dead (1978) 93%
Shaun of the Dead 92%
I Walked with a Zombie 92%
The Cabin in the Woods 91%
Return of the Living Dead 91%
Zombieland 90%
ParaNorman 89%
White Zombie 89%
[Rec] 88%
28 Days Later 87%
Dead Alive 86%
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead 83%
The Plague of the Zombies 80%
Warm Bodies 80%
Dawn of the Dead (2004) 75%
Planet Terror 74%
Land of The Dead 73%
The Crazies 71%
28 Weeks Later 71%
Dead Snow 68%
Night of the Living Dead (1990) 68%
World War Z 66%
The Serpent and the Rainbow 61%

 

Night of the Living Dead: Criterion Collection

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Criterion;
Horror;
$39.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman.

In any form, the opening shot seems exactly right: a moving car finessing all the twists and turns of a pastoral setting that turns out to be a graveyard entrance that its sibling passengers would have been better off zooming by — 100 MPH and going backwards. But it’s the heavy contrast and overall crispness of the image that grabs me immediately about Criterion’s 4K, stops-pulled, whoop-de-doo, shirt-sleeves-rolled-up crack at George A. Romero’s original 1968 Night of the Living Dead, a onetime un-pedigreed cheapie that I just can’t believe has looked as good (if then) since its opening night a few months short of 50 years ago in … Pittsburgh?

As a D.C. area dweller for 45 years, I can remember when an exhibitor buddy gave literal klieg-light-and-carpet treatment to the local premiere of John Waters’ Polyester, so unexpected gala treatment does happen, But you have to believe (and please, someone, correct me if I’m wrong) that not many three-river locals at the time splurged too much for what ended up being (for me) the greatest example of Pittsburgh horror since Bill Mazeroski’s home run to end the 1960 World Series. Yet now, after half-a-century, here’s Dead carrying the Criterion imprimatur atop its 1999 selection into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

can tell you how the movie was treated in my hometown of Columbus, which is about a three-hour drive west from the production’s city of origin. I was working during high school and college in the film department of the local CBS affiliate, and we wouldn’t play its grisly TV ads on the air — I can’t recall if these are the ones that show up here in the bonus section — no matter what the sales department wanted. One of my department colleagues was the station’s exceedingly stringent screener/censor, even though he had managed to let a hilarious reference to female genitalia in 1962’s Invasion of the Star Creatures get by for airing on Flippo the Clown’s afterschool “Early Show.” As a result, I recall, these Dead trailers were immediately consigned to a reel of excised film clips that my boss annually showed to TV classes at Ohio State for mornings of revelry. Always saved for last, just to give you some context, was Gertrude Michaels’ Sweet Marijuana showstopper from Mitchell Leisen’s Murder at the Vanities, which had been snipped during the days when the station owned the original MCA package of 1929-49 Paramount titles, the greatest single movie package of all time.

Dead was, of course, strictly area drive-in fare — and not the ‘A’-class drive-ins that at one time or another offered the local Columbus premieres of films by Wilder, Huston, Leone and Polanski. (The local neighborhood indoor theaters were, of course, completely out of the question because they were too busy showcasing George Kennedy’s oeuvre.) And yet: it didn’t take too long — and this in laughably pre-Internet days — for Dead’s rep to take hold. By 1971 or ’72, which is when I first saw it in my town’s one decent repertory house, it was billed as a marquee equal with Tod Browning’s Freaks for a real “Mayberry R.F.D.” alternative, if there ever was one. Which was a status it deserved, for several reasons.

First all, there’s the white-hot pacing that never flags, despite most of its action restricted to either the main floor or the basement of an abandoned house adjacent to the graveyard while fire-fearing ghouls do their outside marauding in an imaginative array of costuming. (Say, what was it like at the local dry cleaner when the better-dressed ones went in to get their suits pressed, and what did they do upon noticing that someone had crushed their collar buttons?) Then, there’s the issue of interracial leads — handsome African-American Duane Jones and blonde Judith O’Dea — provocative teaming that likely wouldn’t even have been mentioned in ’68, though let it be noted that the script makes absolutely nothing about it (and if it had, the picture would likely only play as a period piece today).

What I really dig, however — and maybe this gets back to my days at the TV station — is the bulls-eye verisimilitude of its portrayed radio and TV coverage, which is full of unassuming reporters who do not look like Katie Tur, falling into the greatest story of their lives. I love the shots of the local camera crew — which is basically a guy with a portable home movie camera that is probably just as suitable for bar mitzvahs — and the way that all the journalistic atmospherics remind me of something seen as a young kid in a still photo whenever I was leafing through my barber shop’s pile of Police Gazette while awaiting a buzz cut. (They also remind me of CBS’s very short-lived “Wanted” series from 1955, which spooked the hell out of me around the same time — I can even remember the musical theme — by going around to trailer camps and the like in pursuit of real-life criminals on the run.) In fact, I have 20-some hours of network JFK-assassination coverage from 1963, and even it isn’t any more visually sophisticated. CBS had to throw up a slide for about 20 minutes when it interrupted “As the World Turns” for Dallas reportage as they scrambled to assemble a crew who could photograph Walter Cronkite reading wire reports. This is a great, great time-capsule aspect of Dead that is rarely mentioned.

There isn’t, though, a whole lot you can imagine being left out of this Criterion package — though I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the real mind-blowers here comes early on in what I think is a recycled but engagingly jokey group voiceover (Romero included) in which it’s noted that a subsequent real-life hurricane around the graveyard site disentombed a whole bunch of buried individuals. There’s also a shorter work-print edit (of predictably wobbly quality) that the hardcore may even want to see more than once; a new featurette/appreciation whose homage-paying filmmaker appearances include one by super-trendy Guillermo Del Toro; a new appreciation of the music, which was kind of cobbled together from an existing library but is nonetheless superb; a germane Tom Snyder “Tomorrow” episode, which makes me wish that there could be a Snyder box, given that he interviewed everyone from Sam Peckinpah to Marilyn Chambers (who were probably wise not to work together); a look-back at filming on a dime in flyover country (Learning From Scratch); a Stuart Klawans essay; and even — atop more goodies I’m leaving out — a primer about directing ghouls (who, gotta say, are indeed well-directed).

This last leads to a plug for my former USA Today colleague Susan Wloszczyna, who once actually got to appear on screen as a zombie extra — and in color, which is how I saw her everyday at work — in 2005’s Land of the Dead after Romero turned the franchise into a cottage industry with more sequels than you could shake a fiery object at. To her credit, Woz never high-hatted me about this, though she had to know that little in my life could equal it. To be sure, and at the same TV station I referenced, visiting “Password” host Allen Ludden once said hello to me when I was returning from lunch. But no one can say that’s the same.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘The L-Shaped Room’