“But Jason, shouldn’t you just be happy that they’re on DVD or Blu-Ray at all?”
No, child. You see, as happy as I am that any and every horror film could be CONSIDERED for transfer to digital and preserved, the ones that aren’t are a whole different issue (and likely another Top 10 List). No, I’m talking about the movies that have crossed the barrier, made it to the finishing line, earned their digital stripes..
…and that’s it. No commentaries, no retrospectives, no interviews, documentaries, deleted scenes, original trailers (horror always had the best trailers!) and in some shitty cases, not even their own DVD release, forced to be packed into chintzy “Collections” with a dozen or so other titles that have been ‘corralled’ together and thrown on the shelf like leftovers found in the fridge. Being happy with a film simply making it to DVD/Blu-Ray is like saying, “I’m thrilled to get that trophy for ‘Participation’!”
Well, on behalf of all the filmmakers out there that put the blood, sweat and tears to put their horror films out there for our entertainment, I say, “FUCK. THAT.”
Every horror film deserves its moment to shine, good or bad. Why should an entertaining cult film receive a “Deluxe, Super-Mega, Limited Edition” release just because of its cult status, when something that’s been a genre fave for decades is pushed aside because its studio doesn’t ‘see a demand’. WE ARE THE DEMAND! Horror fans are nothing if not loyal, voracious hunters who will often go as far as to buy films we HATE just to give it a home next to its peers. Companies like Scream/Shout Factory, Synapse, Blue Underground, Severin and Redemption (to name a few) KNOW this and are giving fans what they want by the boatload. They’re setting the example.
So here, for the first time on the Killer Kountdown, I submit 10 titles that made it to DVD rather unspectacularly, and have remained largely forgotten since. Sure, many titles might not make THIS Top 10, but as the “Volume I” above the article indicates…believe me, I’m just getting warmed up.
For one thing, the films are presented fullscreen and contain such “Bonus Features” as “Scene Selections”. Thanks!
Futher insult to injury? A long-out-of-print Region 2 release contained a brief “Making-of” featurette that provided behind-the-scenes make-up footage, bloopers and some marketing material for the originalWaxwork. Sadly, Waxwork II remains bare-bones anywhere you go. Not much, but damn, it was something!
Released the same year as about a half-dozen other sea-creature style films in 1989 (James Cameron’s The Abyss overshadowing all),Leviathan is a delightfully cheesy re-tread of Alien deep below the sea, with echoes of John Carpenter’s The Thing remake. Gross? Yep. Derivative? Sure. But undeniably entertaining, and chock full of great monster make-up and gory mayhem. With creature effects produced by the aforemented Mr. Winston, a making-of, a commentary, a retrospective, hell, even a Winston tribute of some kind seems like the perfect building blocks to produce a special edition of this fun B-Movie.
It contained everything you wanted out of a Tales From the Crypt Film – gruesome creature violence, ugly make-up effects, gratuitous nudity, surprise cameos, and the great Bill Sadler, who had been a Crypt mainstay on the HBO series since Episode #1. Sadly, Universal didn’t (and apparently still doesn’t) think the film (or it’s sequel, the much maligned Bordello of Blood) deserved any preferential treatment – nevermind the in-dept “making of” that exists or the deleted scenes that have been hinted at from various sources. It’s enough to make the Cryptkeeper roll over in his coffin.
So when Warner announced their impending “25th Anniversary Edition” back in 2007, everyone perked up, thinking that the rumors would finally be put to rest! That this 80s horror classic would finally get its long-awaited special edition. What we got were a few fluff pieces about paranormal activity and real poltergeist phenomena. Interesting stuff sure, but damn – what about the making of the film? Studio politics may continue to play a hand in whether we EVER get a decent edition of this film.
So while fans collectively groaned at the thought of a remake to 1985’s beloved vampire classic Fright Night in 2011, they considered the possibility that WITH it, there might finally be a special edition release of the original film. Not long before, the cast had gotten together to do a group commentary for iconsoffright.com. So where is the special edition DVD? Not a peep about it. Meanwhile a sequel to the 2011 remake has already been released, and STILL no special edition in sight, nor any word of a re-release of Fright Night Part II from 1989, a DVD in and of itself, that’s long-overdue for a re-release.
In the original, the ‘blob’ in question oozed over its victims, consuming them under its jelly-like mass. Oh, no. Not in the 80s, boy. THIS blob was semi-acidic and found ways to disintegrate you during consumption, causing skin to droop from bones. It also had the ability to yank you through tight openings, contorting your body into all sorts of nasty positions. It melted faces, shot out of faces, pulled faces into drain-pipes…it apparently did a lot of shit to your face! And all of it was presented in uber-graphic, blood-curdling detail. What do we have to show for it? A DVD release from 2001 that gave us a trailer and nothing more. Considering all the “future” talent involved in this film (“Entourage” star Kevin Dillon, Saw series regular Shawnee Smith, “The Walking Dead”‘s Jeffrey DeMunn and penned by “Walking Dead”‘s own Hollywood legend Frank Darabont, this is one film that could get one HELL of a re-release if in the right hands! No more time should ‘ooze’ by!
While various version of the film exist, in varying degrees of censorship, we have yet to obtain the one, true, honest-to-God, 100% UNCUT version here in The States, and worse yet, no bonus features to boot! We’re talking about Peter Jackson here. The guy documented the making of his 1987 splatter-fest Bad Taste – a film that by all accounts, was shot on a shoe-string in his backyard in New Zealand! A 3.5-hour documentary detailed every inch of production for his 1996 ghost favorite The Frighteners, and don’t get me started on the exhaustive amount of material collected for his Lord of the Rings series or King Kong remake. You mean to tell me he doesn’t have at minimum 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage lying around somewhere for Dead-Alive? What Hobbit do we have to kill to make this happen?
What results is a lot of weird, kinky werewolf sex, Sybil Danning topless, Christopher Lee in “stylish” 80s garb, Sybil Danning topless, exploding heads, Sybil Danning topless, cheesy 80s pop, Sybil Danning topless and Sybil Danning topless. One of those “so-bad-its-hilarious” films, the Howling series was never a very ‘well-maintained’ franchise, though there were worse chapters in the series than this one, if you can believe it. As is often the case with most bad films, the stories from the set, a retrospective from a cast that might relish the chance to ‘sink their teeth’ into this flick, and just some simple explaination would be a RIOT to dive into.
As left-field as Howling II often got (Sybil Danning topless – yes, again and again!), I don’t know if there’s a sight more unintentionally hilarious than a werewolf lurking around BLUDGEONING people to death with a baseball bat. Or nightmares involving church organ-pounding lycans. Or Gary Busey literally going toe-to-toe with a werewolf in a living room. But it’s all just such great fun, and in a year when horror films were injecting a healthy dose of comedy into their stories, one of Silver Bullet’scharms was that it never took itself too seriously, and was just plain old fun. Even the great Roger Ebert gave the film a favorable review upon its release. And while Paramount gave semi-respectable re-release special editions to King’s Pet Sematary and The Dead Zone, Silver Bullet was inexplicably ignored on that second pass. Which is odd, because a Region 2 PAL release of the film was available for a time that contained a trailer and director’s commentary. Scant features, yes, but features nonetheless, and twice more than what we got!
As was the case with the Waxworks films at the beginning of this article, Artisan coupled up Prom Night III and IV as part of their “Double-Feature” sets. Fullscreen and bare-bones, it wasn’t much better or worse than the lack of thought placed into their previous effort (or for that matter Howling V and VI, treated exactly the same way). Until you actually took the time to WATCH the movies.
Now…while one would have loved SOMETHING on the Waxworksfilms (or Howling V – I’ll admit it, I enjoy that sequel), at LEAST those films were presented UNCUT! Yes, folks – by some unfortunate glitch in the Common Sense department, Artisan released Prom Night III and IV in their TELEVISION EDITS! No gore! No tits! No fucking SWEARING! These films were hocked to the masses no better than if you recorded it off of TNT’s “Monstervision” with Joe Bob Briggs one late Saturday night!
Who did Artisan think they were kidding back then? Was it an honest mistake? If so, why wasn’t it corrected? Seriously, who would actually BUY a movie that was void of everything that made it what it was? Horror or not, films are BOUGHT uncut! No if’s, no and’s, no but’s (and CERTAINLY no “butts” – it would have been edited!). Of all the cases presented here, this one riles me up the most. Worse than a lack of bonus features, this is a PRIME example of a company dishing out a title simply to dish it out, thinking horror fans – of ALL people – wouldn’t notice. The lack of confidence in the consumer is pretty insulting.
Another route is contacting companies that are doing it RIGHT, like Synapse, Scream Factory and Blue Underground, and suggesting titles to them to consider purchasing the licenses to. As much as I love Evil Dead and Halloween, I’m certainly not going to buy (nor would I NEED) 30 fucking copies of the same damn movie, because another anniversary has passed. Especially when SO MANY other films, (again, both good AND bad) slip through the cracks back into obscurity all over again. As horror fans, its truly up to us to make sure they get the respect and recognition they deserve! March on, and keep horror hemoraging!