October 01, 2009

Notes from a DVD Geek

by Jeremy Lassen

Welcome to October, my favorite month of the year.  Mainly because ALL of the horror movies, good, bad and terrible, make their way to home video around this time of the year.

First up is a special edition reissue of the classic horror movie from the late 80's. . . "The Gate".  This disk features commentary, and a couple of mini-documentaries, and a really nice transfer of this classic "there's a big hole in my back yard and it leads to hell" movie, which featured some incredible stop-motion effects that are still very effective today.  If you never saw this one, pick it up now.  If you remember the movie fondly. . . pick it up and watch it again, because it does stand the test of time, and is just as awesome as you remember.

Next I wanted to talk about some of the forthcoming releases from Sam Rami's home video label, Ghost House Underground.  Consider this label to be somewhere between the "Danger After Dark" label, and the "Dark Castle" label.

One of the new releases from Ghost House is a contemporary British horror film by director/writer Tom Shankland, called "Children".  Shankland's first movie was a gory yet effective serial killer/police thriller called "Waz".  This time out, he's got a bunch of kids and teenagers running around a lake.  Bad things start happening, and the parents and kids start blaming each other, as seeming accidents descend into overt violence.  "Children" is filled with a lot of subtle scares and a very effective sense of foreboding, which contrast effectively with its outbursts of sudden ferocity.

Another by-the-numbers-but-effective-in-its-own right thriller is "The Thaw".  This one stars Val Kilmer, putting on his best "Kurt Russell from 'The Thing'" performance.  A parasite is unearthed in a glacier that infects and kills its hosts, but not before releasing a swarm of flying, burrowing baby parasites that spread through the scientific camp like wildfire.

Another effective bit of mayhem is "Offspring".  Yes . . . the same "Offspring" as Jack Ketchum's splatterpunk classic novel.  Feral cannibals terrorize folks in a remote New England town.  Sure, it's a bit like "The Hills Have Eyes," except in New England, instead of the desert southwest.  But it's based on Ketchum's very smart novel, and even has (I think it was him anyway) a cameo appearance by Ketchum himself.   Good stuff.

"Blair Witch" co-director Eduardo Sanchez delivers something that looks like a modern, slightly better-scripted version of Fulci's "City of the Living Dead".  Lots of fast moving demons/sprits of the dead/guys in white body paint chasing our protagonists around.  Lots of fake blood.  Lots of screaming.  Good stuff that should not be missed this October.  Because of the miracles of modern filmmaking, I suspect that this film was probably made with a SMALLER budget then Fulci's "City of the Living Dead" . . . but in this case, the filmmakers didn't run out of money at the end and have to just kind of fake an ending.

Those are the four that are coming out in October, but an earlier Ghost House film that I failed to mention was "Dance of the Dead".  Take your standard teem dramady about geeks who can't get dates for the prom, and add zombies.  All those dumb high-school cliches who never watch zombie films?  Yeah . . . they get their asses kicked.  But the "sci-fi" club?  They know how to kick zombie ass. This is director Gregg Bishop's second feature film, and has a better budget than his first effort "The Other Side," which even despite its small budget was really well done.

Leaving Ghost House Underground, I have to point out the latest Lance Henrickson direct to video extravaganza.  "The Seamstress" sets up an urban legend come to life . . . the murderous spirit of a . . . yes . . . seamstress, who weaves (ugh, sorry) a bloody path across the small town where she died, oh so many years ago.  I know. It's nothing we haven't seen before.  But it has Lance Henrickson chewing the scenery.  If you need some Halloween cheese . . . this is the place to go.

Moving from your normal Halloween slashers to the "Hot damn!  I've been waiting for that film to hit DVD for years!" category of film, comes Richard Stanely's "Hardware". This post-apocalyptic killer android movie sports one of the best movie soundtracks since "Return of the Living Dead" (PIL, Ministry, Iggy Pop, etc.) as well as a "Greek chorus" provided by a joke-cracking radio dj, played by Iggy Pop.  Damn.  This is one of the greatest movies ever.  It is hot and sexy, and dusty and crazy, and . . . oh yeah.  It features an under-siege/final fight sequence that is legendary.  I'm getting chills, just waiting for this one to arrive.  I can finally toss out my laserdisc of this film, and enter the 21st century!

Finally . . . the live-action version of "Blood: The Last Vampire" hits DVD this month.  Bloody sword swinging half-vampire assassins, demons, and the undead. This movie is produced by Ronny Yu!  What's up, Ronny "Bride With White Hair" Yu!  Don't miss this one.

That's what my Halloween is looking like this year.  Be sure and email me some of your favorite movies (horror or otherwise) if I've missed them here in this column.

No comments:

Post a Comment