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Twisted Terror Collection (DVD)

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The Twisted Terror Collection DVD Box-set (click for larger image)The Hand
Starring Michael Caine, Andrea Marcovicci, Annie McEnroe, Bruce McGill
Directed by Oliver Stone

Someone’s Watching Me
Starring Lauren Hutton, David Birney, Adrienne Barbeau, Charles Cyphers
Directed by John Carpenter

Deadly Friend
Starring Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett, Anne Ramsey
Directed by Wes Craven

Eyes of a Stranger
Starring Lauren Tewes, Jennifer Jason Leigh, John DiSanti, Peter DuPre
Directed by Ken Wiederhorn

From Beyond the Grave
Starring Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, Lesley-Anne Down, David Warner
Directed by Kevin Connor

Dr. Giggles
Starring Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Cliff De Young, Glenn Quinn
Directed by Manny Coto

Distributed by Warner Home Video


With Halloween just around the corner, it seems as if the big studios are finally opening up the flood gates in terms of movies that they’ve been sitting on for whatever reasons. Today, folks, we can now officially throw away several of our old VHS tapes, DVDr bootlegs, and even a sub-par full-screen release, as Warner Home Video has unleashed its Twisted Terror Collection onto DVD in one big-ass blood-drenched boxset!

I have to say it … Holy shit this set is packing! We’re talking six films (many of which are making their DVD debut) spanning nearly three decades of horror from directors like Carpenter, Craven, and Oliver Stone! Does it get any better? Let’s take a quick look at the movies (which are all classics in their own right) and what’s including (if anything; yes, there are a couple of bare-bones releases here) on each disc.

The Twisted Terror Collection DVD Box-set (click for larger image)First up — The Hand. Director Oliver Stone doles out the horror goods with this tale of a cartoon artist (Caine) who loses his hand in a car wreck only to find it crawling back not only to him but to the throats of anyone who’s ever wronged him. Featuring effects from Carlo Rambaldi, The Hand is a dark mind-fuck of a film that offers just the right amount of horror and psychological terror. In terms of supplemental features, we have an audio commentary by director Stone and the theatrical trailer. We’re off to a good start!

Also making its DVD debut here is John Carpenter’s lost TV classic Someone’s Watching Me. Back in the day no one could do suspense quite like Carpenter. Here we have a prime example. This flick’s about a peeping Tom who takes his obsession with a young girl that just moved to L.A. (Hutton) way too far. Things start off innocently enough with the usual perverted telescope watching, phone calls, etc. Then our chick turns the table on this slime-ball, and things quickly go to hell in a hand basket! Also included on this disc is a short featurette titled John Carpenter: Director Rising, which takes a look at the master’s introduction to the biz and so on. Good stuff.

How about an anthology to keep things cooking! Amicus’ From Beyond the Grave is next up to bat as we get four stories (not including the wrap-around) adapted from four short stories by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. Here we find the great Peter Cushing playing an antique dealer who tempts folks to damnation through the purchase of his cursed wares. What can I say? This is vintage Amicus, people. Sadly, in terms of supplements all we get here is the theatrical trailer.

The Twisted Terror Collection DVD Box-set (click for larger image)Eighties heartthrob Jennifer Jason Leigh then takes center stage with the semi-forgettable stalker opus Eyes of a Stranger. While certainly not the best film in the bunch, it is an interesting little yarn about a killer whose next victim ends up being the blind sister (Leigh) of a newscaster who’s been reporting about him. If you can make it to the end, there’s a great cat and mouse sequence to be found, but the rest of the film is paced agonizingly slow. Don’t be expecting any extras here.

Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend gets this horror train back on track with a modern day, albeit goofy Frankenstein-like tale of a brainy kid who refuses to accept that his crush next door (Swanson) was rendered brain dead in a horrible accident. What’s a smart and horny teen to do? Insert a chip in her brain and turn her into a killing machine of course! This is a thick slice of Eighties cheese! In retrospect it’s so laughably bad it’s hard to not have a good time with it. In terms of extras — just the trailer.

And finally, my favorite film in the box: the equally cheesy and ludicrous Dr. Giggles. Larry Drake turns in a devilishly maniacal performance as the lead character who lives in the neighborhood haunted house and enjoys making minced meat out of his patients. While there’s absolutely nothing in terms of bonus features on this disc, Dr. Giggles is presented here in its original widescreen format so throw away those original old Good-times Home Video DVDs.

It should also be noted that each print of the above titles looks pretty damned good so video snobs like myself should be very pleased. Each film is also available separately, but why bother when you can get the whole package — which is perfect for some horror movie marathon shenanigans — for one low price? Pretty fucking cool! Buy this NOW!

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by Oliver Stone on The Hand
  • John Carpenter: Director Rising featurette on Someone’s Watching Me
  • Theatrical trailers on most
  • Films Collectively:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features Collectively:

    2 1/2 out of 5

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    Threads Blu-ray Review – The Horror of Nuclear War Hits Home Video

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    Starring Death, Destruction, Famine, Unimaginable Suffering

    Directed by Mick Jackson

    Distributed by Severin Films


    Although not quite reaching the tense heights felt during the Cold War, talk of nuclear annihilation has nonetheless been on the tips of tongues following a recent public spat between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. The difference being that unlike the decades-long stalemate between America and Russia, this kerfuffle feels more like two boys breaking out the ruler to measure package size. Regardless, the truth remains that as long as nuclear weapons are held by any country the risk of a catastrophic event is always on the table – and their use should never be used as a casual threat. The world has seen firsthand the level of devastation that can be wrought with their use; a reminder none want to endure again. This seems as fitting a time as any for Severin Films to breathe new life on home video into Threads (1984), a frightening portrayal of what could happen in the U.K. following nuclear war. Similar in concept to America’s The Day After (1983), Threads is a chilling, bleak vision that showcases the breakdown of society prior to, and after, the detonation of nuclear weaponry. Nothing is glamorized; there are no heroics. By the time the credits roll viewers will be left chilled to the core, having witnessed so much destruction that should never be allowed to occur in a modern society.

    The action is centered in Sheffield, U.K. where we follow the lives of a few distinct families and citizens who represent different sectors of the populace. The events leading up to nuclear war are depicted via television and radio broadcasts, with anchors reporting on increasing tensions in Iran following a coup allegedly backed by the U.S. In response, the Soviet Union moves troops into northern Iran to protect their own interests. The standoff becomes increasingly strained when the U.S. reports the submarine USS Los Angeles has gone missing in the Persian Gulf. Soon after, a collision between Soviet and American battle cruisers forces the U.S. President to issue a warning to the Soviets that any further action may lead to armed confrontation.

    As all of this is occurring the citizens of Sheffield are attempting to go about their normal lives… until a melee involving nuclear-tipped weaponry prompts the government to assemble emergency operations groups. With the U.K. now completely gripped by fear, the threads of society begin to rapidly unspool, with citizens divided over local government response while runs on grocery stores and looting become widespread. Finally, in the early morning a few weeks after this skirmish began air raid sirens are sounded and within minutes a nuclear warhead is detonated over the North Sea, emitting an EMP and knocking out all communication in the country. The attack wreaks havoc, decimating the country and wiping out millions of lives in one swift blow. Those are the lucky ones.

    Those who survive the initial blast are met with highly-radioactive fallout, disease, famine, radiation sickness, crumbling infrastructure and streets littered with rotting corpses. Society has suffered a complete breakdown. Money no longer holds any value. Nuclear winter brings about a dearth of crops and a massive drop in temperatures. Food is the only commodity with any value – and it is long before any can be produced. Population levels reach those of the medieval times. Even a decade after the blast, the areas devastated by nuclear war have only rebuilt to a level on par with the Industrial Revolution. Children are still born. Language is limited, due to the lack of proper schooling. Little hope looms on the horizon as those left alive scrounge and scavenge, eking out a miserable existence.

    Director Mick Jackson made a smart decision by shooting Threads using a neorealist lens, employing unknowns in place of familiar faces. This gives the picture a documentarian feel while also scuttling the notion of seeing famous faces either survive the catastrophe or become heroes. There is no silver lining to be found. The initial blast rocks the U.K. on a grand scale, brought to visceral life by Jackson’s use of miniatures and montage to convey a massive scale of destruction. Fires rage, Sheffield is in ruins, charred corpses line the streets, and radiation poisoning leaves survivors roiling in pain and vomiting endlessly. The brutal verisimilitude is gut-wrenching; Jackson ensures every bit of pain and perseverance is palpable.

    Threads should be mandatory viewing, serving as a warning of the very real potential outcome should civilized nations resort to using nuclear weaponry on a global scale. No good can come of mutually assured destruction. All of the posturing and battling between the U.S. and Russia pales in comparison to the annihilation of millions of lives and decades of industry, all wiped out in the blink of an eye. This is true horror.

    Given its low budget and television roots, it should come as no surprise that Threads looks on a rougher side of HD. Severin touts the 1.33:1 1080p image as being a “new 2K remaster”, though the provenance of the elements used is not mentioned. Truthfully, the grainy, rough-hewn picture is a perfect complement to the gritty imagery seen throughout and anything more polished might have lessened the impact. The film was shot on 16mm and blown-up to 35mm; again, a smart aesthetic decision given the documentarian feel Jackson wanted. The cinematography reminded me of Harlan County U.S.A. (1976), an American documentary on coal workers. Damage can be seen throughout, as well as plenty of flecks and debris but, again, none of this was particularly irksome because it feels organic to this decaying world.

    Audio comes in the form of a simple English DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. First off, I highly recommend turning on the subtitles because the English accents are thick and plenty of U.K.-specific colloquialisms are used; it helps – a lot. This is a thin track without much direction, employing a workmanlike sound design to get the point across. Explosions have a bit of roar and oomph, but the biggest impact is made by a scene of total silence post-attack. Dialogue is clean and well set within the mix. Subtitles are available in English.

    An audio commentary track is included, featuring director Mick Jackson, moderated by film writer Kier La Janisse & Severin Films’ David Gregory.

    “Audition for the Apocalypse” is an interview with actress Karen Meagher.

    “Shooting the Annihilation” is an interview with director of photography Andrew Dunn.

    “Destruction Designer” is an interview with production designer Christopher Robilliard.

    “Stephen Thrower on THREADS” finds the author and film historian discussing the production history and impact of the film.

    A “U.S. trailer” as well as a “Re-release trailer” are included.

    Special Features:

    • NEW 2K REMASTER of the film prepared for this release
    • Audio Commentary with Director Mick Jackson, Moderated by Film Writer Kier–La Janisse and Severin Films’ David Gregory
    • Audition For the Apocalypse: Interview with Actress, Karen Meagher
    • Shooting the Annihilation: Interview with Director of Photography, Andrew Dunn
    • Destruction Designer: Interview with Production Designer, Christopher Robilliard
    • Interview with Film Writer, Stephen Thrower
    • U.S. Trailer
    • Threads
    • Special Features
    3.5

    Summary

    Brutal and unflinching in its desire to convey a story true to reality, Threads is a difficult and necessary viewing experience that shows firsthand the level of terror wrought by man’s hand.

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    Annihilation Review – A Fascinating, Gorgeous New Take on Body Horror

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    Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac

    Written and directed by Alex Garland


    Have you ever walked out of a theater and thought to yourself, “That was more than just a movie. That was an experience!“? It’s only happened to me a handful of times, the last one I remember being Mad Max: Fury Road. Last night that sensation washed over me as the credits for Annihilation began their crawl after a near two-hour runtime. I remained in my seat until every name slipped by before I found it within myself to stand up and leave the theater. All I could think was, “I’ve just witnessed something incredible.

    An adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s first book in his The Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation follows Lena (Portman), an ex-soldier-turned-biologist professor at Johns Hopkins whose husband, Kane (Isaac), has been missing for a year after leaving on a covert mission about which Lena has been able to get zero information. When Kane mysteriously returns and almost immediately falls gravely ill, Lena finds herself in a secret government facility that is monitoring a strange and potentially cataclysmic phenomenon: a strange shimmering dome that appeared in a remote region after a meteorite landing, a dome that grows larger with each passing day. Realizing that the answer to her husband’s malady may very well lie within that area, Lena joins four other women as they embark on an expedition into what is called “Area X.” However, it’s quickly realized that nothing is quite what it seems to be and that the laws of nature no longer apply.

    The majesty of Annihilation is the time it takes to build the story and to ramp up the tension. While it has no problem with frenetic scenes, the film moves at an almost poetic pace, every moment adding something to the overarching narrative. From showing the relationship between Lena and Kane to the interactions among the five women who venture into “Area X” to the action sequences, every part of the movie feels necessary. This is even seen in the climax of the film, which is a 10-minute scene that features almost zero dialogue and yet feels fraught with danger.

    Visually, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. The jungle that takes up most of Area X is lush and beautiful. Crepuscular rays break through the leaves and tease a rainbow iridescence thanks to the “shimmer.” A wide variety of flowers impossibly blossom from the same source, a result of the genetic mutations occurring within the dome. Strange fungal patterns explode across the walls of abandoned buildings, their patterns a tumorous cornucopia of colors and textures. Even when the movie brings gore into the equation, it does so with an artist’s gaze. Without ruining the moment, there is a scene where the team comes across the body of a man from a previous expedition. For as macabre as the visual was, it was equally entrancing, calling to mind the strangely beautiful designs of the “clickers” from The Last of Us.

    Each setting in the story has a visual style that sets it apart from one another but still feels connected. The governmental facility feels cold and sterile while the jungles of Area X are warm and verdant. As the team ventures further into the contaminated zone, we are taken to the beach next to the lighthouse that acts as “ground zero” for the mysterious event. Here we see trees made of crystal and bone-white roots clinging to the nautical beacon. In this third act, we’re taken into the basement of the lighthouse, which can only be described as Giger-esque, with strange ribbed walls that feel like they pulsate with a life of their own.

    The characters of Annihilation feel real, and the exposition given doesn’t feel forced. When Lena is rowing a boat with Cass, the sharing of information feels like camaraderie, not awkward plot reveals. Additionally, no character is without his/her flaws. Even Lena has her own issues that burden her with guilt, making her journey into Area X all the more understandable. As the stress of the mission wears on these women, the seeds of distrust begin germinating into deadly situations that have very real consequences, including the appearance of a bear that would be right at home in the Silent Hill universe. Also, kudos to Garland for writing the film in such a way where the gender roles not only feel natural but are never focused on in a disingenuous manner.

    Musically, Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, who scored Garland’s previous film Ex Machina, create a soundtrack that is atmospheric, haunting, and hypnotizing. The music elevates the dreamy phantasmagoria of the film without overpowering any scene. Meanwhile, cinematographer Rob Hardy, who also worked on Ex Machina, helps create a film where nearly every frame is a work of art.

    Those entering Annihilation expecting a clearly defined sci-fi/horror offering will be disappointed. There is certainly a great deal of both to be had, but the movie doesn’t want to offer something fleeting. Instead, it uses those genres as a foundation to create a film that will stay with viewers long after they leave the theater. When you get to the core of Annihilation, it’s a body horror film that pays homage to the work of David Cronenberg while carving an entirely new path of its own. Just don’t expect it to hold your hand and answer all of its mysteries. Some questions are left for you to see through on your own.

    I do not say this lightly, but I truly believe that Alex Garland has offered audiences one of the best genre films in recent years.

    • Annihilation
    5.0

    Summary

    Annihilation is a bold, gorgeous, and stunning melting pot of horror, sci-fi, and drama, culminating in one of the most fascinating films I’ve seen this decade.

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    Mom & Dad Review – When Parental Protection Goes Horribly Awry

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    Starring Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters

    Written and directed by Brian Taylor


    The love of one’s parents is something that can propel an individual to not only personal, but professional heights as well, and that’s not to say that the aforementioned love should be taken for granted, either. The reason why I’m making this statement is that you never know when that love could turn to blind, unrestrained rage, and you as the child could be forced to save your own life from those very people who raised you – enter Brian Taylor’s ultra-black comedy, Mom & Dad.

    Josh (Zachary Arthur) and his sister, Carly (Winters), are your typical American children: generally oblivious to the life around them provided by their progenitors, and when a mysterious and unexplained virus causes all parents to turn violently towards their kids, it’s the youngins that are the ones being stalked, sometimes with horrific results. What gives this film a tremendous sense of “oomph” is the fact that there really isn’t a whole lot of time spend on useless build-up. Taylor’s style of balls-out direction is no truer on display here as the parental duo of Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair as Brent and Kendall Ryan is one of cinematic gold. Cage, who on the normal is an actor that harnesses his bat-shit nuts style of character portrayal until it’s time to fully unleash the beast – well, consider this performance off of the friggin’ chain! It’s clear from the get-go that the relationship between the folks and the kids isn’t entirely the most drama-free and devoid of subtle hostility.

    Some of the scenes of various attacks are a bit tough to take at times, and although the film was created in jest, it’s still the shock factor that carries this one to the finish line with the audience kicking and screaming all the way. One scene inside a newborn delivery room had me shifting in my seat, and for that to happen is pretty damned impressive, and I’ve seen some rather demented shit over the course of my years. The film does get a bit disjointed at times, but order is restored when the mayhem returns in full-force, and Taylor’s action-film resume shows through with psychotic camera-angles and dizzying arrays of brute force from some characters. Blair and Cage didn’t exactly come off doubtless as a couple, and maybe they would have been better set as a separate-working tandem, but the two nevertheless provided some real entertainment once their switches got flipped (well, Cage’s switch never really has an “off” position in this movie).

    In the end of it all, Mom & Dad is the textbook definition of a “mindless movie,” and that’s not meant to be a negative in any fashion – I absolutely loved it from beginning to end, and this one is meant for a viewing with the kiddies to gently remind them what could happen if they ever get out of line (wink, wink).

    BUY IT NOW!

    • Film
    3.5

    Summary

    Ferocious, frenzied and ultimately fun, these parents certainly aren’t to be f**ked with!

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    User Rating 3 (2 votes)

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