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DVD Releases: God of the Zillas

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Big monsters, terrorizing singing, and re-issues are all on their way come Tuesday, April 29th, 2008…
Click to see it bigger!All Monsters Attack! (1969)
Directed by Ishiro Honda

When these packages first started coming out I was really impressed with how clean and professional they looked; now I’m just getting tired of them. Maybe they need to change it up a bit? The story follows a latchkey kid who escapes his everyday torments by visiting the fantastical Monster Island, where he is friends with Godzilla and Godzilla’s freakish offspring, who is experiencing bully problems of it’s own. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!The Beast in Space (1980)
Directed by Alfonso Brescia

All right, so in 1975 a beautiful sex symbol named Sirpa Lane won all sorts of shocked expressions when she played a woman defiled by an aroused animal in The Beast. Five years later, her career was doomed, so this unofficial sequel came along that added in laser guns, space shoot outs, horribly cheesy effects and, of course, more bestiality. What could be worse/better? I can’t imagine anything on either side, to be honest. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!The Boarding House (1983)
Directed by John Wintergate

A man with inherit telekinetic powers manages to inherit a huge, unused boarding house. Soon, somehow, the boarding house is filled with beautiful women and a supernatural evil awakens and starts killing the tenants one by one. Think it sounds like a good time? Apparently it’s not too bad, actually; check out our “>Boarding House DVD review to learn more! Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Dark Shadows: The Beginning Collection 4
Directed by Various

Man, if I could go back in time and never started including these on my weekly DVD lists, I would do it in a hearbeat. Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass it is to find info about a certain part of a gothic soap opera that ran as long as this one did? And this is yet another collection of episodes that hit before the Barnabas Collins vampire came onto the scene. Ugh. So from now on, I’m just going to bitch about them when they come up. It has to end eventually, right? Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Harm’s Way (2006)
Directed by Melanie Orr

Couldn’t find out much about this one, which is still strange to me in this day and age, but apparently it’s about a woman and her daughter who escape some sort of trauma by being taken into a woman’s refuge home, which is run by the dominate Bea. Slowly the younger girl starts behaving more and more hostile towards anyone around her, and more than likely some death goes down here and there. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Headless Horseman (2007)
Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante

Ah, fucking college kids. There, got that out of the way. This one’s about some college kids who end up in a “lost” town called Wormwood, a town where a superstitious belief about a headless horseman who will ride through on Halloween every seven and take his revenge on the town by taking their heads turns out to be closer to the truth than is comfortable for most. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Hitch-Hike (1977)
Directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile

Man, when did Blue Underground become the re-release kings? I remember when they were fresh, putting out some really good, hard to find stuff. Now they’re just putting out everything once released by Anchor Bay again, and I’ve no idea why. Strange. Anyway, this cult classic stars David Hess as a stranded motorist who a husband and wife pick up, only to realize too late that he’s a psychotic madman. Usually that’s a good thing to know before you let someone in your car, kids. Look for re-issues of The New York Ripper and Nightmare City this week, as well. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!In the Blood (2006)
Directed by Lou Peterson

All right, let me get this right; the story is about a sexy and popular jock that has secret gay tendencies, but can’t come to grips with them. When he realizes his sister may be the next victim of a college-campus slasher, the only way he can get to the bottom of the mystery is to fully embrace his gay-ness (is that a word?). How does that work, exactly? Why should you sexual preference matter when a serial killer is on the loose? I guess you’ll have to get it to find out. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Karaoke Terror (2003)
Directed by Tetsuo Shinohara

I know it doesn’t sound too terrifying, but apparently Karaoke Terror is actually a genuinely scary movie. I know the concept of Karaoke in general fills me with fear. The film is actually satirical by nature (big surprise) about two rivaling groups of karaoke-lovers who get mixed up in murder and deception while trying to prove which group is more talented at song recreation. We’ve got a very old “>Karaoke Terror review you can check out for more info! Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Killing Car (1983)
Directed by Jean Rollin

You know it’s true; if it’s Jean Rollin, it’s gotta be good! All right, that’s not necessarily the case, but how can you go wrong with a movie called Killing Car for God’s sake? The story follows two hot Asian women who steal a car and begin to kill anyone who gets in their way for no apparent reason. Full of all the strange imagery and female flesh you’d expect from Rollin, minus the vampires. Thank God. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Knock Knock (2008)
Directed by Joe Ariola

First of all, why can’t this guy change his last name, at least for the purposes of being a director, from something like Ariola? The film is about someone coming back from the dead for some form of revenge or something. To be honest I couldn’t make heads nor tails of Creepy’s “>Knock Knock DVD review, but then I’m from the MidWest and don’t understand half of what he says on a good day, anyway. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Paranormal State: Season One
Directed by Various

Just as it sounds, “Paranormal State” is the first show to examine hauntings and other unexplained phenomenon through the eyes of, gulp, fucking college students. I guess that it was on A&E and not, say, MTV, is a good sign that it’s probably not that bad. The show follows a young team of ghost hunters who are dealing with their own drama filled lives while constantly looking to see if there is something staring back at them from the abyss. Or something like that. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Prism (2007)
Directed by David G. Simmons

A young autistic boy is the only witness to a horrific crime, which causes him to fall into a catatonic state from which doctors fear he’ll never recover. A dedicated young psychologist offers to help bring him back to the hear and now, but the deeper she looks into this troubled boys mind, the more her own reality starts to fall apart. Hilarity ensues. Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Schizo (1978)
Directed by Peter Walker

You really can’t go wrong with a good Pete Walker movie and a case of beer. Or maybe just a six-pack, depends on your tolerance. The story is about a girl who witnessed the brutal murder of her own parents when she was young, and now starts seeing her friends and family dying all around her, each death taking her that much closer to the horrifying truth. I’m guessing it’ll have something to do with schizophrenia? Could be, could be… Buy it here!


Click to see it bigger!Terror of Mechagodzilla (1977)
Directed by Ishiro Honda

Fifteen Godzilla films in, the eleventh for director Honda, and finally we get some mecha-terror! The film follows aliens who want to stage a takeover of Earth, using Mecha creations that can be controlled by a resurrected girl who is now a cyborg. Some say this film contains some of the best Godzilla fight scenes put to film, no small feet considering how many of them there are! Buy it here!


Johnny Butane

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THE STRANGERS Blu-ray Review – Let This Stellar Release From Scream Factory Sneak Into Your Home

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Starring Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Man in the Mask, Dollface, Pin-up

Directed by Bryan Bertino

Distributed by Scream Factory


It’s a bit odd – though somewhat fitting, given the number of waited-too-long sequels being produced these days – The Strangers (2008) finally got a follow-up after a lengthy ten-year gap. The original is a fine example of a home invasion picture done right, or at least well enough, but, as anyone who has seen the film knows, the leads probably won’t be returning and the killers have the personalities of dime store Halloween masks. The Strangers is a disturbing film in the sense the events seem like they “could happen to you” – it is, after all, “based on a true story” (not really). Plus, the situations our leads find themselves in are exactly the sort people still freak themselves out, like whenever someone enters a room with large windows at night – let’s all be honest here. The only thing scarier than things that go bump in the night is the thought those things are just out of eyesight, waiting to scare you. With the exception of a few “wait, why are you doing that?” moments The Strangers manages to activate certain primal responses to being stalked and frightened. It’s creepy.

Not-newly-engaged couple James (Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) have returned to James’ childhood summer home after a day spent at a wedding, where James’ proposal to Kristen was sadly declined. They go through some awkward motions back at home, trying to figure out where their relationship stands, when there’s a sudden KNOCK at the door. James answers and finds a young girl asking for a person who has never lived there. She leaves, cryptically mumbling she’ll “see them later”. She does, along with two other “friends” – the Man in the Mask and another girl in a pin-up mask – who proceed to stalk, taunt, tease, and terrorize both Kristen and James until the morning light breaks.

There aren’t many huge surprises in this film but the less you know about how the night plays out, the better. This isn’t to suggest the main characters make smart decisions viewers aren’t expecting, though. James is initially dismissive of a series of terrorizing occurrences Kirsten experiences when he goes out to get her a pack of smokes, brushing all of it off like she has an overactive imagination; this after the weird situation with the girl moments before. And expectedly, once James is finally on board with believing something sinister is afoot it’s already too late to do much about it. Past that point he and Kristen do act like rational people (mostly) and their plight gains a little more sympathy because of their noble efforts.

I hate the scene where James’ friend, Mike (Glenn Howerton), shows up, though. Spoiler alert: any viewer can see his accidental death coming from a mile away. Since it’s established early on James has called Mike to pick him up, what would have worked better would be if all the footage of Mike’s arrival and inspection of the house was cut. That way, his reveal at James and Kristen’s makeshift stronghold in the back bedroom would have been a major surprise. Instead, it plays out so obviously the intended impact is completely muted.

While the film falters in a few areas, it manages to make up for those gaffes by stepping outside the norm. One thing is does incredibly right is refusing to give the trio of terrorizers any personality or backstory or motivation. Viewers are left just as cold once the credits roll as they were upon being introduced to these faceless miscreants. This feels especially refreshing when watching the movie today because lately it seems so many horror films have been yanking the mystique out of things; between prequels and reboots and lengthy exposition it’s rare when a film chooses to eschew all of that. The film is also dire and dour, leaving little room for hope aside from a tiny tidbit that occurs at the very end. There are no white knights; the cavalry isn’t coming – and when you are staying at a house with weak security, near the woods, with no neighbors close by, don’t expect a deus ex machina to save the day.

Universal previously issued The Strangers on Blu-ray, though it featured both cuts on a single BD-25 and used an outdated codec. This new release from Scream Factory spreads the goods out onto two discs, giving each cut a full BD-50 to maximize bit rate. As a result, the 2.35:1 1080p image looks much more refined, smoothing out past compression issues and tightening up both contrast and definition. The lion’s share of this film was shot at night and black levels maintain a rich consistency throughout, while still allowing for details to remain apparent. Nothing is lost to the shadows, which frequently bathe the actors and environments. Scream Factory touts a new 2K scan of the intermediate and the results are nearly flawless.

As viewers might expect, sound design plays a crucial role in this film and the audio options ensure they’ll be immersed in subtle and not-so-subtle sounds from every direction. Both cuts feature an English DTS-HD Master Audio track in both 2.0 and 5.1 options. As expected, the multi-channel track offers a more discreet experience, spreading out the spooky sound design to fully envelope listeners. Thuds, knocks, voices, and footsteps creep from unexpected corners of the room, placing viewers right in the action and heightening the tension. The soundtrack goes a bit overboard on the jump scares stingers but since the whole point of this film is a couple being jolt scared over and over they seem fitting. Subtitles are included in English SDH.

Just as buyers should rightfully expect, Scream Factory has included all of the previous extra features found on Universal’s release and then some.

DISC ONE: Theatrical Cut

“The Element of Terror” – This is a routine EPK, filled with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast & crew.

“Strangers at the Door” – This piece covers the film’s initial concept and shows off some of the cast & crew working on set, with a few being interviewed, too.

A reel of deleted scenes, three TV spots, and a theatrical trailer, which is quite effective, can also be found on this disc.

DISC TWO: Unrated Cut

“Defining Moments – Interview with writer/director Bryan Bertino” – This is a newly recorded chat with the director, who discusses not only the making of the film but its legacy now that so much time has passed since release.

“All the Right Movies – Interview with actor Kip Weeks (Man in the Mask) – Here, the actor discusses how he got the role and what kind of direction was given to him for the character.

“Brains and Brawn – Interview with actress Laura Margolis (Pin-up Girl) – Just as with Kip Weeks, Margolis talks about playing such a quiet character as well as discussing some changes to the trio that were made during production.

“Deep Cuts – Interview with editor Kevin Greutert” – Learn about how the film took shape, the reasoning behind cuts and sequencing, and what changes were made right up until the theatrical release date.

A still gallery is also included.

The cover art is reversible and there is a slipcover included on first pressings featuring newly commissioned artwork.

Special Features:

  • NEW 2K REMASTER of the Theatrical Version of the film
  • NEW 2K REMASTER of the Unrated Version of the film
  • NEW Defining Moments – An Interview With Writer/Director Bryan Bertino
  • NEW All The Right Moves – An Interview With Actor Kip Weeks (Man In The Mask)
  • NEW Brains And Brawn – An Interview With Actress Laura Margolis (Pin Up Girl)
  • NEW Deep Cuts – An Interview With Editor Kevin Greutert
  • The Element of Terror – Interviews With The Cast And Crew
  • Strangers At The Door – Interviews With Writer/Director Bryan Bertino And The Cast
  • Deleted Scenes
  • TV Spots
  • The Strangers
  • Special Features
3.8

Summary

Still effective only with only a modicum of true stupidity, “The Strangers” might not be the classic it’s been called in more than a few recent retrospective pieces but it does occupy a cushy spot near the top of the contemporary home invasion film list. Scream Factory’s release offers up excellent A/V quality and all the bonus features anyone could want (barring an audio commentary).

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Exclusive: Concept Art and Video From Tim Burton’s Cancelled SUPERMAN Plus Art From Clive Barker’s MUMMY Project

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Special FX artist Steve Johnson has a long and storied career in Hollywood. From working on films such as Predator, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Lord of Illusions, and more, to to makeup on Return of the Living Dead III, Nightwatch, and Night of the Demons 2, his work has been seen in a swath of films that genre fans know and love. Hell, the guy even created Slimer from Ghostbusters! If that doesn’t make him Hollywood royalty, I honestly don’t know what does.

Right now, Johnson has a Kickstarter going for Rubberhead Volume 2: Sex, Drugs, and Special Effects, the second book in a five volume series that chronicles the work he’s done over the years. Included in this particular book is a section called “The Ones That Got Away”. That’s what brings us to today and to this particular article.

We were absolutely fascinated with some of the films that Johnson got to work on that never ended up seeing the light of day and we managed to get our hands on some exclusive concept art from both Tim Burton’s cancelled Superman and Clive Barker’s Mummy project. We also have a suit test video from the former, which features Danny Elfman’s music from Batman, so it’s extra thrilling.

You can read about both projects and see the concept art below (the Superman suit video is above). Also, click on the Kickstarter link above if you want to help make Johnson’s second book a reality!


Tim Burton’s Superman:

For the ill-fated Tim Burton Superman movie, Johnson was contracted to craft all manner of elaborate costumes, props, puppets, and prosthetics for a project that was to be doomed by an overextended budget.

It was absolutely massive because not only were we working on these Superman suits, we were doing Doomsday, we were doing a Menagerie, a Brainiac and an entire spaceship that was literally filled with creatures. It looked like the Star Wars cantina on steroids,” Steve Johnson exclaims.

Of the standout pieces were multiple bioluminescent Superman regeneration suits, all of which glowed purely by way of practical effects. The effect was created using cyalume, the active liquid in glow sticks, strategically pumped through a series of elaborate tubing patterns which gave the appearance of glowing blood pumping through veins.

Other suits were powered by a fiber-optic light setup informed heavily by Johnson’s groundbreaking work on James Cameron’s The Abyss, a creation he claims pleased him more than any other in his entire career.


Clive Barker’s Mummy:

Clive Barker had teamed up with Mick Garris (Critters 2, Psycho IV) on a brand new Mummy concept that the two pitched to Universal. The hyper erotic plot involved a transsexual occultist protagonist who attempted to reanimate mummies within a prestigious museum setting.

Shortly after collaborating with Barker on Lord of Illusions, Steve Johnson signed up to help him create a visual proof-of-concept in order to help Barker pitch the project which had not yet been greenlit. Johnson signed on and even built proof-of-concept creatures, funding the endeavor entirely out of his own pocket to help Barker sell it in to Universal.

For inspiration, Barker and Johnson exhaustively researched museums, Egyptian sculptures, statues and artifacts to ensure historical accuracy while imbuing the mummies with a heavy dose of classic sadomasochistic Clive Barker style.

Johnson explained, “If you do your research on real mummies in Egypt they look nothing like Boris Karloff mummies or mummies in the new mummy movies. The goal was to include all of the realistic detail and adornment in a way that was accurate to real Egyptian mummies which had never been done before. We were going to make them fascinating, cenobite-like creatures but based entirely in reality and history.

Unfortunately, the project was never greenlit by Universal. Clive Barker told Fangoria, “Looking back, our version of The Mummy was precisely what the powers that were at Universal did not want.


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TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL Clip Features Graboids on Ice!

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The newest entry in the always lovable Tremors series will be hitting Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and Digital on May 1st.

And today we have a fun new clip from Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell to share! It features a sequence that reminds me A LOT of the ice planet creature vs Kirk scene in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek.

You can check out the clip below and then make sure to let us know what you think in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

Tremors: The Complete Collection will be available on DVD on May 1; and Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell hits Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and Digital also on May 1st.

Special features include:

  • The Making of Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell: Filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss why Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is the most bone-blasting Tremors movie yet.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Watch as we break down the various elements that need to come together to film the first underwater Graboid attack.
  • Inside Chang’s Market: Chang’s Market is an iconic location in Tremors history. See how it was recreated and updated for this installment of the franchise.

Synopsis:
Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his son, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), find themselves up to their ears in Graboids and Ass-Blasters when they head to Canada to investigate a series of deadly giant worm attacks. Arriving at a remote research facility in the Arctic tundra, Burt begins to suspect that Graboids are secretly being weaponized, but before he can prove his theory, he is sidelined by Graboid venom. With just 48 hours to live, the only hope is to create an antidote from fresh venom — but to do that, someone will have to figure out how to milk a Graboid!

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