It’s hard to tell why some films are so quick to get a Blu-Ray release when some films haven’t had an official stateside release since the VHS days or since snapper case DVDs and badly panned and scanned transfers were still a thing. Here’s a list of a few films that, for whatever reason, are taking an insanely long time to make it to Blu-Ray (or, in some cases, DVD).
Before Bernard Rose was summoning Clive Barker’s Candyman, he was making this understated English thriller about a sickly girl whose only means of escape is dreaming of the things she draws during her waking hours.
In these dreams, she meets another sick child and they strike up a friendship. It’s a good thing, too, because they’ll need each other’s help when those dreams turn into nightmares. Rose creates a moving and frightening story that’s high in mood and well-worth seeking out.
There was an out of print international Blu-Ray release and there’s an HD master that floats around on TV and streaming, so there’s definitely material to work with. This would make a great fit for the Vestron Collector’s Series since that’s the company that released this on VHS back in the late 80s.
After discovering this one on a complication DVD called Boogeymen in the early aughts, I went out of my way to check this indie New Zealand-lensed shocker out and I was blown away by it.
It’s about a psychiatrist trying to figure out why a serial killer murdered so many people. Was it his abusive childhood? Is he really hearing voices? Or is he just playing the sympathy card and manipulating the shrink?
Despite slight similarities to The Silence of the Lambs and Seven, it has a style all its own, great performances, and a few moments you’ll never be able to forget.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
Let’s just admit it. Prom Night II is the true MVP of the franchise. It throws just about every 80’s horror cliche and trope into a blender and adds a generous helping of Michael Ironside and “what the hell did I just see/hear” moments.
A mousy high school girl is possessed by the spirit of a sexy 1950’s prom queen who was accidentally burnt to a crisp by her jealous boyfriend and she’s been looking for a way to reclaim her prom queen crown ever since.
If that doesn’t sound fun enough, throw in some horny rocking horses, incest, big hair, a little sacrilege, murderous capes, and a full-frontal lesbianic locker room stalking scene.
It has everything! Except for a Blu-Ray release. Apparently, rights issues are holding this one up, so we can only hope they get everything sorted out ASAP because this one would be a big seller.
Lucky McKee’s May is one of the true cult classics of the past 20 years. Angela Bettis plays a vet’s assistant who has a problem connecting with anyone who isn’t 100% perfect.
After she realizes no one is truly perfect except her creepy porcelain doll, she decides to create the perfect human doll using all the best parts of her problematic companions.
With its quirky and macabre sense of humor, surprising humanity, and eerie lead performance by Angela Bettis, this is one that should be talked about a lot more than it is. It probably doesn’t help that it’s not available on Blu-Ray. Who do we need to call? Lion’s Gate?
Mother of Tears
Ok, so it’s not Suspiria or Inferno, but just to leave the 3rd and final chapter of Dario Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy in Blu-Ray limbo seems cruel.
In Rome, an ancient urn is unearthed and opened by a historian, and the blood-thirsty spirit of Mater Lachrymarum is released to throw the world into violent chaos. The visuals aren’t as eye-popping as the previous films (did they shoot this movie during the great Italian colored lighting gel shortage of 2007 or what?), but it has a few creative moments, an enjoyably angry performance from Asia Argento, and some nasty gore effects. And doesn’t the world deserve to see Daria Nicolodi flying out of a magical powder puff in stunning HD?
This one isn’t high art. I’ll admit it, but there have been far worse slashers that have gotten the deluxe treatment on Blu-Ray.
It takes place at a camp for 30-year-old cheerleaders where someone is killing off the competition. Is it our leading lady who might be coming apart at the seams?
Awkward rap battles and raunchy sex comedy spice things up in between scenes of cheerleaders being terrorized with garden shears and meat cleavers.
This seems like a great fit for Arrow or Vinegar Syndrome who have done such great work with cleaning up other neglected slasher films from the 80s.
Silent Night, Deadly Night IV: Initiation
While all of the Silent Night, Deadly Night entries deserve one big box set, this one is my favorite.
In this “sequel”, a reporter tries to get to the bottom of a case of spontaneous combustion and its link to a weird cult. It’s so loosely connected to the franchise or the Christmas holiday (you can spot one or two Christmas trees in the background and that’s as festive as it gets) that they might as well have called it something else, but there’s a lot of gooey body horror, witchcraft, spontaneous combustion, and Clint Howard as a deranged homeless man.
If that doesn’t spell Christmas cheer, I don’t know what does.
Summer Camp Nightmare
This one’s cover art enticed me to give it a rental in middle school and, while I was a little disappointed that it didn’t give me the slasher flick I was promised (it was rated PG-13! What was my dumb ass expecting?), it ended up being an entertaining “kids run amok and take over a summer camp” movie.
It’s like Lord of the Flies with bigger hair and Chuck Connors. I think. Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I’d like a Blu-Ray release just to remind me what all it had going for it again.
Maybe this one will do better with a fresh transfer and artwork that matches the contents of the film a little closer.
Man, this one is a downer. I mean that in the best way.
A spinster librarian takes care of her evil invalid father all night and day and dreams of running away and finding the man who was supposed to marry her many years ago. It’s a psychological drama with some gothic horror elements thrown in, but Carrie Snodgress and Ray Milland both give killer performances and it’s filled with deep dark family secrets, patricide daydreams, and a monkey for good measure.
It’s only been available on dark, dreary VHS tapes and a long out-of-print MGM double feature DVD with the Klaus Kinski creeper Crawlspace (which has already gotten its own Blu-Ray release).
Time to let this one out of the attic and let it see the sun.
The Stepford Wives
Somehow, this film’s remake has made it onto Blu-Ray, but no one’s been kind enough to offer the original classic a warm, digital home. Truly, what would the women of Stepford think about such rudeness? It’s a shame, too, because this is one of the creepiest and most unsettling 70’s horror films out there.
Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss play two independent women who settle in the town of Stepford with their families and try to figure out exactly why the men in the town meet in secret at a creepy mansion and why the women look so perfect and have no interests outside of housework.
This is another one where rights issues have kept it from getting the release it deserves and that needs to change.
We’ll just die if we don’t get this on Blu-Ray.
Artist Cindy Sherman might be the last person you’d expect to make a horror film, let alone a slasher film, but she did (even if it’s rumored that she’d like you to forget) and it’s very entertaining.
It stars Carol Kane as an awkward office worker who accidentally kills a sleazy co-worker and then decides that her life might be better if she took out some of the other biggest offenders in her life.
It’s too ghoulish for the comedy crowd and too arty and satirical for most traditional slasher fans, which made it hard to find its audience. The fact that it went direct to video might not have helped either, but it’s gathered a decent cult fanbase over the past 20+ years since its release, and a retrospective with stars Kane, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Molly Ringwald wouldn’t suck either.
The Haunting of Julia
Mia Farrow’s other major horror film besides Rosemary’s Baby (besides a fun supporting role in the remake of The Omen) is a thoughtful and quietly unsettling ghost story involving a grieving mother who gets a little too close to the ghost of a dead child haunting her new home.
It’s only ever been available in a crummy pan and scan VHS releases and the few widescreen prints out there are muddy and lacking definition. Time for an upgrade so that a new generation or two can become acquainted with this under-seen film.
I’m not sure who’ll be reading this, but if, by chance, a distributor gets ahold of this list, maybe they can make some magic happen and give some of these unfairly neglected horror films a little love on home video.
[Fantastic Fest] ‘Piggy’ Filled With Incredible Heart and Wonderful Terror
Writer and director, Carlota Pereda fascinatingly creates a world in which we are given equal helpings of moments of big heart and a creeping terror. Piggy is one of those rare horror films that could have stood on its own without the horror and been an Oscar-worthy bit of effective drama. The turn from compelling drama to shifting genre is as refreshing as it is entertaining.
Piggy follows Sara (Laura Galán) a young girl who assists her family in their small-town butcher shop. Sara is often bullied due to her being an overweight teen. The small town and its cliques make for a soul-crushing daily life for Sara. She is constantly picked on, called names and even physically tormented by the popular bullies. When Sara ends up having to walk home following an assault by the bullies, Sara comes face to face with a serial killer who actually treats the young girl as an equal – not picking on her or poking fun. The duo begins their strange cat and mouse dance of constantly changing twisted mutual admiration.
The small quaint town featured in Piggy is very minimalistic – matching the incredibly stripped-down, heart-on-its-sleeve story. That atmosphere is one that makes for a brilliant spot to match Sara and her sensitive nature.
Galán is breathtaking in her role as Sara. It’s an incredibly demanding and revealing role that constantly has her being abused both physically and mentally. The constant emotional terrorism surrounding her combined with body shaming becomes a terrifying small-town presence that ends up being more terrifying and warped than the habits of the serial killer.
Much like Sara herself, the film forces you to side with the serial killer. Despite, his cold-blooded actions against the people of the town, he still has a big enough heart to see Sara as an equal and someone who he even fancies at times. In any other situation its heartbreaking to realize that he and Sara could have easily been in a relationship if it hadn’t been for that whole serial killing thing.
Piggy handles bullying and body shaming by shifting the tables and working the story with as much humor and fun as it works with serious themes. Incredibly, the serial killer isn’t as disturbing as the torment that Sara receives. The juxtaposition between those two things is an incredibly compelling exploration for film.
The film allows you to side with the killer and entirely has you cheering for Sara. Galán gives a breathtaking performance that will have audiences siding with her and willing to follow her down whichever path she chooses to take. Piggy is an incredible work that has as much heart and nerves as it does horror.
Piggy arrives in Alamo Drafthouses on October 7 and in theaters and On Demand beginning October 14. The film also won best horror film at Fantastic Fest.
‘Bones and All’ Trailer Introduces Savage World of Cannibals and Lovers
Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria director, Luca Guadagnino is back with a true masterpiece that explores cannibals and lovers. Bones and All is a fascinating film that currently has my vote for Best Film of the Year. It really is that good. It stars Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell in an incredibly brutal road trip film.
The official synopsis fo Bones and All goes like this:
BONES AND ALL is a story of first love between Maren, a young woman learning how to survive on the margins of society, and Lee, an intense and disenfranchised drifter; a liberating road odyssey of two young people coming into their own, searching for identity and chasing beauty in a perilous world that cannot abide who they are.
The film stars Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz, and Mark Rylance.
Get ready to dine with cannibals and lovely monsters when Bones and All arrives in theaters beginning November 23.
[Fantastic Fest] ‘Hellraiser’ Fascinates by Carving New Damnation and Games
In a world of reinvention and retooling, there are often a lot of letdowns when it comes to our favorite films and TV shows. More often than not we are disappointed by the retelling. It is great to announce that David Bruckner’s recent Hellraiser reimagining is incredible and makes use of Author, Clive Barker’s original parts to incredibly give us the familiar while also carving its entirely own fascinatingly dark path.
Hellraiser tells the story of Riley (Odessa A’Zion,) an addict trying to live her life and resist all temptation. When Riley and her boyfriend burglarize a shipping container, they come upon the puzzle box. The box immediately begins to draw attention to it begging them to push and pull its corners. Little do they know that the box’s offerings will change their lives forever.
The backdrop of Hellraiser is a dreary one. It is entirely filled with a sheen of darkness and grime throughout. The entire city and places the characters visit all become participating characters in the film itself. An amazing work of production design around every corner.
Director, Bruckner is commanding with the darkness. He is careful to control Barker’s bleakness and is great at it. Between himself and screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski the trio actively and effectively manage to solve their own puzzle box of the macabre and the constantly invigorating.
The Cenobites are back with a fully new roaster of incredibly creative beings. Each of them has a patchwork of skin in which flesh itself is what they wear. There aren’t any more bits of leather clothing that brought the legendary, Doug Bradley to life, instead, their wardrobe is made organically. Another fascinating detail of their look is brought about by these carefully placed pins with pearl tips. A touch of The Hellpriest’s personal touch.
The Hellpriest just as revelatory as the film. Jamie Clayton pays homage to and simultaneously reinvents The Priest from the ground up. A head full of pearl-tipped pins along with the fascinating touches from The Leviathan that add pieces of the box to her as well as the same creative organic wardrobe utilized by the other Cenobites. Horror fans have nothing but a brilliant experience ahead of them. Clayton makes the role her own and brilliantly creates her own spine-tingling voice for the character. A terrifying rasp, that is delivered with authority making her lines stand out with imposing importance.
Ben Lovett creates a brilliant score that moves and shifts around as much as the puzzle box itself. Throughout it is entirely its own with tiny shifts to single notes of the famous Christopher Young score. The entire thing is devilishly done and creates an entire audio Cenobite all on its own. By the film’s finale, Lovett and Young become one in a chill-inducing crescendo.
Hellraiser is a fascinatingly dark work that combines Barker’s worlds and sensibilities into a brilliant haunting cocktail. There are hints of Damnation Game, Weaveworld and of course The Hellbound Heart. The hands shifting this puzzle box were tender and caring with Barker’s material. That reverence produces one of the best Hellraiser’s to date. Bruckner’s film gets back to diving beneath the flesh of terror. Jamie Clayton entirely lives in and reinvents The Hellpriest in every turn. Hellraiser brilliantly cuts, carves and pulls nerves. Dark, provocative, and filled with Clive Barker’s brilliance – Hellraiser is finally back.