This week, thousands of ghosts and goblins can be found shilling for candy on All Hallow’s Eve. But as any fan of horror, monsters or thriillers knows, Halloween is celebrated year round.
It’s not a date on the calendar, it’s a state of mind.
Here are some recent must haves that are worth your time.
A Discovery of Witches Blu-ray
Brilliant historian Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer, Warm Bodies, Hacksaw Ridge) is a witch denying her own heritage. But when she unexpectedly calls up an ancient, bewitched manuscript from Oxford’s Bodleian library, she finds herself thrown into the heart of a dangerous mystery – and into the path of the enigmatic geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode, Downton Abbey, Watchmen). Their unlikely alliance to find the book before it falls into the wrong hands – and their deepening relationship – threatens to violate age-old taboos and shake the fragile peace that exists between the species. A Discovery of Witches also stars Owen Teale (Game of Thrones), Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER), Lindsay Duncan (The Leftovers, Sherlock), Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead), Valarie Pettiford (Half & Half), Malin Buska (The Girl King) and Aiysha Hart (Line of Duty).
Based on the critically acclaimed and bestselling “All Souls” trilogy by Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches is a modern-day love story, set in a world where witches, vampires and demons secretly live and work alongside humans, hidden in plain sight. The Blu-ray 2-Disc features 8 episodes, plus featurettes about characters, mythology, and TV magic.
The Babysitters Coven by Kate M. Williams
Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.
And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.
Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria cooking. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club?
The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”
Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.
The Science of Monsters by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence
If you love film that scares, and want to believe that zombies, vampires, and other deadly and terrifying creatures could be real, let Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence, the women behind the Horror Rewind podcast called “the best horror film podcast out there” by Film Daddy, take you to the world where horror and science meet.
- How would a zombie really decompose in Night of the Living Dead?
- Are there instances of shape shifting in nature like in The Wolf Man?
- What is the science behind the night terrors that inspired the creation of Freddy Krueger?
- Is there scientific data supporting ghost detection like the tools used in Poltergeist?
- What is the psychological drive that compels cannibals like Hannibal Lecter?
- How does modern medicine and therapy differ from what would have been offered to Norman Bates in 1960?
- How are subliminal messages related to propaganda or brainwashing like in The Ring?
- What would the scientific explanation be for witches possessing people like in Carrie?
- Was The Blair Witch Project based on any real or imagined creature that came before?”
- And so much more!
Gothic media moguls Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence revisit the films from their childhood to discover the science behind the fear. Join Kelly and Meg as they unravel the medical mysteries and scientific marvels that inspired the creation of famous monsters like Nosferatu, Norman Bates, Dracula, Frankenstein, and many more.
An approachable and frightfully fun examination of what goes bump in the night, The Science of Monsters will thrill every horror fan.
Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson
Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Colter, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales.
Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde And Other Tales of Terror By Robert Louis Stevenson
“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” Stevenson’s famous exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil, has become synonymous with the idea of a split personality. More than a moral tale, this dark psychological fantasy is also a product of its time, drawing on contemporary theories of class, evolution, criminality, and secret lives. Also in this volume are “The Body Snatcher,” which charts the murky underside of Victorian medical practice, and “Olalla,” a tale of vampirism and “The Beast Within” which features a beautiful woman at its center.
This new edition features a critical introduction, chronology, suggestions for further reading, explanatory notes, and appendixes, including an abridged extract from “A Chapter on Dreams” and an essay on the scientific context of Jekyll and Hyde.
An American Werewolf in London Limited Special Edition Blu-ray
American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are savaged by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors. David awakes in a London hospital to find his friend dead and his life in disarray. Retiring to the home of a beautiful nurse (Jenny Agutte) to recuperate, he soon experiences disturbing changes to his mind and body, undergoing a full-moon transformation that will unleash terror on the streets of the capital..
An American Werewolf in London had audiences howling with laughter and recoiling in terror upon its cinema release. Landis film has gone on to become one of the most important horror films of its decade, rightly lauded for its masterful set-pieces, uniquely unsettling atmosphere and Rick Bakers ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special makeup effects. Now restored in 4K, and presented with an abundance of extra features, this big beast of horror can be devoured as never before…
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
- New 2018 4K restoration from the original camera negative supervised by John Landis
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original uncompressed 1.0 mono and optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Optional subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- New audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis
- Audio commentary by actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne
- Mark of The Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf, newly produced, feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with John Landis, David Naughton, Joe Dante and more
- An American Filmmaker in London, a newly filmed interview with John Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his his time working in Britain
- I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret, new video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis film explores Jewish identity
- The Werewolf s Call, Corin Hardy, director of The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with Landis film
- Wares of the Wolf, new featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of The Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artefacts from the film
- Beware the Moon, Paul Davis acclaimed, feature-length exploration of Landis film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews
- Making An American Werewolf in London, a short archival featurette on the film s production
- An Interview with John Landis, a lengthy archival interview with the director about the film
- Makeup Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London, the legendary make-up artist discusses his work on the film
- I Walked with a Werewolf, an archival interview with the make-up artist about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films
- Casting of the Hand, archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop as they cast David Naughton’s hand
- Original trailers, teasers and radio spots
- Extensive image gallery featuring over 200 stills, posters and other ephemera
- Reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Double-sided fold-out poster
- Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
- Limited 60-page booklet featuring new writing by Travis Crawford and more
The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham Edited by Leslie Klinger
In 2014, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft was published to widespread acclaim― vaunted as a “treasure trove” (Joyce Carol Oates) for Lovecraft aficionados and general readers, alike. Hailed by Harlan Ellison as an “Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature,” the volume included twenty-two of Lovecraft’s original stories.
Now, in this final volume, best- selling author Leslie S. Klinger reanimates twenty-five additional stories, the balance of Lovecraft’s significant fiction, including “Rats in the Wall,” a post– World War I story about the terrors of the past, and the newly contextualized “The Horror at Red Hook,” which recently has been adapted by best- selling novelist Victor LaValle. In following Lovecraft’s own literary trajectory, readers can witness his evolution from Rhode Island critic to prescient literary genius whose titanic influence would only be appreciated decades after his death. Including hundreds of eye- opening annotations and dozens of rare images, Beyond Arkham finally provides the complete picture of Lovecraft’s unparalleled achievements in fiction.
The Penguin Book of Mermaids Edited by Cristina Bacchilega and Marie Alohalani Brown
Among the oldest and most popular mythical beings, mermaids and other merfolk have captured the imagination since long before Ariel sold her voice to a sea witch in the beloved Disney film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” As far back as the eighth century B.C., sailors in Homer’s Odyssey stuffed wax in their ears to resist the Sirens, who lured men to their watery deaths with song. More than two thousand years later, the gullible New York public lined up to witness a mummified “mermaid” specimen that the enterprising showman P. T. Barnum swore was real.
The Penguin Book of Mermaids is a treasury of such tales about merfolk and water spirits from different cultures, ranging from Scottish selkies to Hindu water-serpents to Chilean sea fairies. A third of the selections are published here in English for the first time, and all are accompanied by commentary that explores their undercurrents, showing us how public perceptions of this popular mythical hybrid–at once a human and a fish–illuminate issues of gender, spirituality, ecology, and sexuality.
Japanese Ghost Stories By Lafcadio Hearn; Introduction by Paul Murray
In this collection of classic ghost stories from Japan, beautiful princesses turn out to be frogs, paintings come alive, deadly spectral brides haunt the living, and a samurai delivers the baby of a Shinto goddess with mystical help. Here are all the phantoms and ghouls of Japanese folklore: “rokuro-kubi,” whose heads separate from their bodies at night; “jikininki,” or flesh-eating goblins; and terrifying faceless “mujina” who haunt lonely neighborhoods. Lafcadio Hearn, a master storyteller, drew on traditional Japanese folklore, infused with memories of his own haunted childhood in Ireland, to create the chilling tales in Japanese Ghost Stories. They are today regarded in Japan as classics in their own right.
Ad Astra: 20 Years of Newspaper Ads for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films by Michael Gingold
Once upon a time – the 1980s – in a galaxy not really all that far away – New York – Michael Gingold started a collection of newspaper advertisements for the science fiction, fantasy and horror releases that stoked his passion as a genre fan. Eventually, he would grow up to become a contributor, then editor, and even editor-in-chief of the legendary horror magazine Fangoria, plus a writer for numerous other genre publications, a screenwriter, respected author and all around expert for films frightful and fantastical.
As the years went by, Michael held on to this collection of weird and wonderful art, eventually publishing the best-selling, horror-themed Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s and its sequel, Newsprint Nightmares from the 1990s and 2000s. And now he presents Ad Astra: 20 Years of Newspaper Ads for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films, a year-by-year look at the movies that shaped many a childhood in the 80s and 90s.
Inside this 270-page book, you’ll find Star Trek to Starship Troopers, The Dark Crystal to Dark City, Blade Runner to The Running Man, RoboCop to Robot Jox, The Empire Strikes Back to Back to the Future, and many, many more. See alternate artwork for your favorite films, learn the fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of their marketing campaigns, and read the most entertaining and unexpected quotes from reviewers at the time all carefully curated by Michael.
So throw on your jetpack as we travel back in time to when print was king and movie marketing was an art form for the ages!
Ad Nauseam II: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1990s and 2000s by Michael Gingold
Mad movie ad collector Michael Gingold returns with Ad Nauseam II, a deep dive into his personal collection of horror movie newsprint notices from the 1990s and 2000s.
Feast your nostalgic eyes on more than 500 striking ads for the big-budget Gothics of the early and mid-’90s (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Interview with the Vampire), the slasher-film revival (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Halloween: H20), gruesome franchises (Saw, Final Destination), remakes (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, The Ring), found footage films (The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity) and more. Plus, unforgettable critic quotes of the time, fascinating facts about the films’ releases, and Michael’s always insightful commentary!
Blood Sugar By Daniel Kraus
From the dark imagination of New York Times bestselling novelist Daniel Kraus – co-author with Guillermo del Toro of The Shape of Water comes a Halloween crime story that’s like nothing you’ve ever read before. In a ruined house at the end of Yellow Street, an angry outcast hatches a scheme to take revenge for all the wrongs he has suffered. With the help of three alienated kids, he plans to hide razor blades, poison, and broken glass in Halloween candy, maiming or killing dozens of innocent children. But as the clock ticks closer to sundown, will one of his helpers – an innocent himself, in his own streetwise way – carry out or defeat the plan?
Told from the child’s point of view, in a voice as unforgettable as A Clockwork Orange, Kraus’ novel is at once frightening and emotional, thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny. It’ll make you rethink your concepts of family, loyalty, and justice – and will leave you double-checking the wrappers on your Halloween candy for the rest of your days.
The World of IT by Alyse Wax and Andy Muschietti
Basketful of Heads #1 By Joe Hill and Leomacs
The rain lashes the grassy dunes of Brody Island, and seagulls scream above the bay. A slender figure in a raincoat carries a large wicker basket, which looks like it might be full of melons…covered by a bloodstained scrap of the American flag.
This is the story of June Branch, a young woman trapped with four cunning criminals who have snatched her boyfriend for deranged reasons of their own. Now she must fight for her life with the help of an impossible 8th-century Viking axe that can pass through a man’s neck in a single swipe—and leave the severed head still conscious and capable of supernatural speech.
Each disembodied head has a malevolent story of its own to tell, and it isn’t long before June finds herself in a desperate struggle to hack through their lies and manipulations…racing to save the man she loves before time runs out.
My Boyfriend’s Back Blu-ray
Teenager Johnny Dingle (Andrew Lowery, Color of Night) will do anything to keep his date with the hottest girl in school-even come back from the grave! You see, Johnny had the perfect scheme to win the heart of Missy McCloud (Traci Lind, Class of 1999), the town beauty. Unfortunately, Johnny’s scam goes sour and he winds up dead. Even so, Johnny’s determined to keep his date-unaware of the hilarity waiting for him upon his return. The wonderful cast includes Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys), Mary Beth Hurt (D.A.R.Y.L.), Austin Pendleton (Hello Again), Matthew Fox (Bone Tomahawk), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Boogie Nights), Paul Dooley (Popeye), Jay O. Sanders (V.I. Warshawski), Bob Dishy (The Big Bus), Matthew McConaughey (A Time to Kill) and Cloris Leachman (Scavenger Hunt) as Maggie the Zombie Expert. Produced by Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th), written by Dean Lorey (Major Payne) and directed by Bob Balaban (Parents). Extras include commentary, interviews, and trailer.
Trilogy of Terror II Blu-ray
Unleashed in the original classic hit Trilogy of Terror, the demonic Zuni fetish doll carved its way into horror movie history. Now the black-magic headhunter returns to life, headlining this diabolical anthology of fear. The Graveyard Rats – After bumping off her wealthy husband, a money-hungry wife faces an unexpected complication: a cemetery crawling with flesh-eating rodents. Written by Richard Matheson (The Night Stalker) and Henry Kuttner (The Twonky) and directed by Dan Curtis (The Night Strangler). Bobby – Monstrous consequences result when a mother strikes a devilish bargain to bring her drowned son back from the dead. Written by Matheson and directed by Curtis. He Who Kills – When an African Zuni fetish doll is tied to multiple grisly murders, a young scientist investigates… and awakens an unspeakable ancient evil. Written by William F. Nolan (Burnt Offerings) and Dan Curtis and directed by Curtis. Starring Lysette Anthony (Krull), Matt Clark (White Lightning) and Geoffrey Lewis (High Plains Drifter). Extras include commentary, interviews, featurettes and trailers.
Parasite 3-D Blu-ray
In the future, cities are ravaged by atomic fallout and controlled by evil corporations that have developed a mutant pair of flesh-eating parasites. One is feeding inside the man who created it. The other has escaped. Now with the help of a young woman left orphaned in the wasteland (Demi Moore, The Scarlet Letter), a scientist (Robert Glaudini, Wavelength) on the run must destroy these horrific creatures before they can reproduce. But the more a parasite feeds, the bigger it becomes. And the more it grows, the hungrier and angrier it gets.
Released to theaters as “The First Futuristic Monster Movie in 3-D,” this sick shocker co-stars rocker Cherie Currie (Foxes), drive-in goddess Cheryl ‘Rainbeaux’ Smith (Caged Heat) and Broadway legend Vivian Blaine (Guys and Dolls). Directed by cult great Charles Band (Trancers, Blood Dolls) and featuring juicy creature effects by Academy Award-winner Stan Winston (The Terminator, Aliens), Parasite is now available for the first time in HD and 3-D. Extras include both the 3D and 2D versions, commentary, interviews, trailer and tv spots, gallery, and featurette.
Billy The Kid vs. Dracula Blu-ray
Billy the Kid vs. Dracula is an outrageous low-budget horror-western directed by cult filmmaker William Beaudine (The Ape Man, Voodoo Man). Traveling by stagecoach, Dracula (the great John Carradine) plots to convert Billy the Kid’s (famed stuntman Chuck Courtney) fiancée, Betty Bentley (Melinda Casey), into his vampire bride. When the sinister bloodsucker kidnaps Betty and takes her to an abandoned silver mine, Billy must confront the Count, but soon realizes his six-shooters’ bullets are no match for the undead-and an all-out battle of good vs. evil ensues. Filmmaker Carl K. Hittleman (36 Hours) wrote the screenplay for this wild cult classic, beautifully shot by Lothrop B. Worth (Gog) and featuring Marjorie Bennett (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) and Harry Carey Jr. (Cherry 2000). Extras include trailers and commentary.
An Experiment in Terror! Elisabeth Shue (The Saint, Leaving Las Vegas) and Terence Stamp (The Limey, The Real McCoy) co-star in this suspenseful horror film directed by Richard Franklin (Road Games, F/X2) and featuring a chilling score by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen, The Satan Bug, 100 Rifles). Young graduate student Jane Chase (Shue) becomes the new assistant to an eccentric zoology professor (Stamp) at the remote home he shares with two brilliant chimpanzees and an elderly orangutan butler named Link. But when one of the chimps is found dead and the professor mysteriously disappears, Link becomes dangerously aggressive towards Jane. Now, the time for “monkey business” is over and the true terror is about to begin. Extras include commentary, interview, audio demo, deleted workprint scenes, and trailers.
Nightmare in Badham County Blu-ray
Where Innocence Is a Punishable Crime! Deborah Raffin (Death Wish 3) and Lynne Moody (Scream Blacula Scream) star as two young and attractive college students who become enmeshed in a trap of local prejudice and greed when their car breaks down outside a small, sleepy town. Insulted by the girls’ rejection of his amorous advances, the local sheriff (Chuck Connors, The Big Country) arrests them for trespassing and prostitution. After a mockery of a “trial,” they are sentenced to a womens’ prison farm run by brutal guards and a sex-crazed superintendent. Cut off from contact with friends and family, the girls realize that they are at the mercy of a crooked justice system, designed to supply local farms with cheap prison labor. Their only hope is to escape this nightmare, at the risk of their lives. Nightmare in Badham County exposes the terror and corruption of a vicious tyranny that actually exists in certain communities where “justice” is no more than a charade for greed. The great John Llewellyn Moxey (The Night Stalker) directed this realistic and shocking action-drama. Written by Jo Heims (Play Misty for Me) and co-starring Fionnula Flanagan (Death Dreams), Tina Louise (TV’s Gilligan Island), Robert Reed (TV’s The Brady Bunch), Della Reese (TV’s Touched by an Angel), Lana Wood (Diamonds Are Forever) and Ralph Bellamy (Trading Places). Extras include TV and R Rated theatrical cut, commentary, trailers and interview.
Tell Me a Story takes the world’s most beloved fairy tales and re-imagines them as a dark and twisted psychological thriller. Set in modern-day New York City, the first season of this serialized drama interweaves “The Three Little Pigs,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Hansel and Gretel” into an epic and subversive tale of love, loss, greed, revenge and murder. Ensemble includes James Wolk, Billy Magnussen, Dania Ramirez, Danielle Campbell, Dorian Missick, Sam Jaeger, Davi Santo, Michael Raymond-James, Paul Wesley, Kim Cattrall, Spencer Grammer, Rarmian Newton, Paulina Singer, Becki Newton, Kurt Yaeger and Marguerite Moreau.
The Witches Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Wizard of Oz, many classic tales through the centuries wouldn’t be half as exciting without the devious doings of a witch. Now add another to the venerable tradition of stories that deliver family fun every witch way, a collaboration combining the effects wizardry of executive producer Jim Henson and the imagination of Willy Wonka creator Roald Dahl.
Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston won the Los Angeles and National Society of Film Critics Best Actress awards for her marvelous work as the Grand High Witch in this enchanting fable directed by Nicolas Roeg. Jasen Fisher plays Luke, the 9-year-old boy who must foil the plans of a society of witches to turn the world’s children into mice. It won’t be easy: They’ve already transformed him into one! But some big, bad witches may be no match for the resourcefulness of a single tiny rodent.
Also starring Rowan Atkinson, Mai ZetterlingBill Paterson Brenda Blethyn and Jane Horrocks. Extras include trailer.
Bucket of Blood Blu-ray
With A Bucket of Blood, the multi-talented Roger Corman single handedly created his own genre hyphenate: the black-comedy-beatnik-culture-
Rounding out the cast are Barboura Morris (The Trip, The Haunted Palace) as Carla, the woman of Walter’s dreams; Bert Convy (Semi-Tough) as undercover cop Lou Raby; Antony Carbone (Pit and the Pendulum) as Leonard, owner of the Yellow Door; and Julian Burton (The Masque of the Red Death) as Maxwell, the Yellow Door’s resident poet-philosopher. Extras include featurettes, commentary, archival audio interview, visual essay, trailers, rare prologue, Super 8 digest edit and essay.
The Addams Family/Addams Family Values 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray
Featuring both films from director Barry Sonnenfeld and starring Raul Juliá, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman. Also featuring Judith Malina, Carel Struycken, Paul Benedict, Dan Hedaya, Joan Cusack, Carol Kane, David Krumholtz, Peter MacNicol, Christine Baranski and Nathan Lane.
In The Addams Family, when long-lost Uncle Fester reappears after twenty-five years in the Bermuda Triangle, Gomez and Morticia plan a celebration to wake the dead. But Wednesday barely has time to warm up her electric chair before Thing points out Fester’s uncommonly “normal” behavior. Could this Fester be a fake, part of an evil scheme to raid the Addams fortune?
In Addams Family Values, it’s love at first fright when Gomez and Morticia welcome a new addition to the Addams household — Pubert, their soft, cuddly, mustachioed baby boy. As Fester falls hard for voluptuous nanny Debbie Jilinksy, Wednesday and Pugsley discover she’s a black-widow murderess who plans to add Fester to her collection of dead husbands. The family’s future grows even bleaker when the no-good nanny marries Fester and has the kids shipped off to summer camp. But Wednesday still has a Thing or two up her sleeve.
Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep By Scott Duvall and Vincenzo Federici
Ash embarks on a soul-searching road trip to Texas on a hunch that Elvis Presley may still be alive and kicking (and supposedly vanquished a mummy)! What follows is a series of universe-spanning events that involve an Elvis jumpsuit with special time-travel abilities, a trip to 70’s Vegas, plus the reveal of an evil new Book of the Dead, the Necronomicon Ho-Tep. Has Ash met his ultimate match when trading barbs with a 4,000-year-old, foul-mouthed mummy who sucks souls? Can his idol Elvis mentor him through a mid-life crisis before it becomes his final crisis? Join the adventure in a road-tripping, time-hopping groovy tale!
Horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi created some of the most memorable characters in cinematic history. Their unforgettable performances as Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster terrified a generation of moviegoers and when these two legendary actors came together for a series of films in the 1930s, audiences could not get enough. This collection includes:
- The Black Cat: American honeymooners Joan and Peter Allison are held captive in a mausoleum against their will by a Black Mass high priest who has chosen Joan to be the Devil’s bride. Extras include commentaries, featurettes and still gallery.
- The Raven: A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can’t have her. Extras include commentaries, featurettes, still gallery and audio recording by Lugosi.
- The Invisible Ray: A scientist becomes murderous after discovering, and being exposed to the radiation of, a powerful new element called Radium X. Extras include commentary, featurette, trailer and still gallery
- Black Friday: Dr. Sovac transplants the brain of a gangster into his professor friend’s body to save his life, but there is a side effect that causes a dangerous split personality. Extras include commentary, featurette, Inner Sanctum Radio Show of “The Tell-Tale Heart” starring Karloff, trailer and still gallery.
Undertake four tales of terror from the archives of Universal Pictures, the home of classic horror! This collection includes such horror stars as Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, David Bruce and Evelyn Ankers. A maniacal hunter and collector of wild animals uses them to dispose of rivals and enemies in Murders in the Zoo. An unhinged scientist flees the San Francisco police and continues his bizarre experiments on a remote tropical island in The Mad Doctor of Market Street. A mysterious avenger is murdering acquitted criminals while dabbling in brain transplants in The Strange Case of Doctor Rx. And a doctor’s experiments with nerve gas turn his assistant into a grave-robbing freak in The Mad Ghoul. Extras include commentaries, featurette, still galleries, and trailer.
A Cosmology of Monsters: A Novel by Shaun Hamill
Noah Turner sees monsters.
His father saw them—and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates.
His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe—too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.
And his eldest sister, the dramatic and vulnerable Sydney, won’t admit to seeing anything but the beckoning glow of the spotlight . . . until it swallows her up.
Noah Turner sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in . . .
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning.
These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.
Full Throttle: Stories By Joe Hill
In this masterful collection of short fiction, Joe Hill dissects timeless human struggles in thirteen relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including “In The Tall Grass,” one of two stories co-written with Stephen King and the basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.
A little door that opens to a world of fairy tale wonders becomes the blood-drenched stomping ground for a gang of hunters in “Faun.” A grief-stricken librarian climbs behind the wheel of an antique Bookmobile to deliver fresh reads to the dead in “Late Returns.” In “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain,” soon to be an episode on Shudder TV’s Creepshow, two young friends stumble on the corpse of a plesiosaur at the water’s edge, a discovery that forces them to confront the inescapable truth of their own mortality . . . and other horrors that lurk in the water’s shivery depths. And tension shimmers in the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert as a faceless trucker finds himself caught in a sinister dance with a tribe of motorcycle outlaws in “Throttle,” co-written with Stephen King.
Replete with shocking chillers, including two previously unpublished stories written expressly for this volume (“Mums” and “Late Returns”) and another appearing in print for the first time (“Dark Carousel”), Full Throttle is a darkly imagined odyssey through the complexities of the human psyche. Hypnotic and disquieting, it mines our tormented secrets, hidden vulnerabilities, and basest fears, and demonstrates this exceptional talent at his very best.
Hannibal 4K Blu-ray
The silence has been broken… Dark, absorbing and entertaining, this follow-up to The Silence of the Lambs is an audacious success. Screen legend Anthony Hopkins (Nixon) is perverse perfection in his return to the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the sophisticated killer who comes out of hiding to draw FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore, Far from Heaven) into a high-stakes battle that will test her strength, cunning… and loyalty. Meanwhile, the good doctor’s only surviving victim plots a particularly nasty revenge.
Drenched in baroque terror and hair-raising visuals, Hannibal is as compelling as it is shocking. Legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, The Martian) served up this smash-hit thriller from a screenplay by David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) and Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List), based on the bestselling novel by Thomas Harris (Red Dragon). Ray Liotta (Unforgettable), Giancarlo Giannini (Seven Beauties) and Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) round out the delectable cast. Special features include commentary, feature length making of documentary, featurettes, deleted/alternate scenes, alternate ending, teaser, trailer and tv spots.
From Chan-wook Park, the director of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and Stoker, comes a shockingly original vampire story with a chilling, erotic style. A blood transfusion saves the life of a priest (Kang-ho Song, Memories of Murder, The Host, Snowpiercer), but also transforms him into a vampire. He struggles to control his insatiable thirst for blood until a love affair unleashes his darkest desires in deadly new ways. Daring and operatic, Thirst is a truly wicked love story that takes classic vampire lore to twisted new heights. Extras include commentary and trailer.
Lords of Chaos Blu-ray
Oslo, 1987: Seventeen-year-old Euronymous (Rory Culkin) is determined to escape his idyllic Scandinavian hometown and create “true Norwegian black metal” with his band, MAYHEM. He’s joined by equally fanatical youths – Dead (Jack Kilmer) and Varg (Emory Cohen). Believing that they’re on the cusp of a musical revolution, the group gets even darker, driven by the black metal dogma to spread evil.
They begin burning down churches throughout the countryside and stealing tombstones for their record store. But when the press catches up with them and Euronymous takes more credit than he’s earned for the group’s violent acts, Varg, fresh out of jail, arranges a dark encounter to settle the score and ultimately determine who the darkest black metal musician is…
Includes unrated version of the film, teasers and trailers.
The Leopard Man Blu-ray
A savage killer is on the loose!
Is it man, beast or both behind a string of savage maulings and murders? An escaped leopard provides the catalyst for a foray into fear in which a cemetery is the rendezvous for death and love, and a closed door heightens rather than hides the horror of a young girl’s fate. The Leopard Man once again teams producer Val Lewton with director Jacques Tourneur (Cat People). This thriller stars Dennis O’Keefe (T-Men, Raw Deal), Margo (Lost Horizon) and Jean Brooks (The Seventh Victim). Extras include commentaries, still gallery and trailer.
Night of The Creeps Blu-ray
Thrill me! When an alien experiment goes awry, it crashes to Earth in 1959 and infects a young college student. Twenty-seven years later, his cryogenically frozen body is thawed out by fraternity pledges … and the campus is quickly overrun by alien creatures whose victims turn into zombies! Fred Dekker’s thoroughly enjoyable throwback chiller deftly mixes all sorts of genres while simultaneously having fun with them (the college and all the leading characters are named after famous horror movie directors). Extras include both the theatrical and director’s cuts, audio commentaries, making of, featurettes, deleted scenes and trailer.
Biochemist Gerald Deemer (Leo G. Carroll, North by Northwest) has a plan to feed the world by using a growth formula on plants and animals. Instead he creates terror beyond imagining when his work spawns a spider of mammoth proportions!
Feeding on cattle and humans, this towering tarantula has the people of Desert Rock, Arizona running for their lives. Can this horrifying creature be stopped or will the world succumb to its giant claws? This classic sci-fi film from director Jack Arnold (Creature From The Black Lagoon, It Came From Outer Space) stars John Agar (The Mole People, Attack Of The Puppet People) and Mara Corday (The Black Scorpion, The Giant Claw) and features a cameo by Clint Eastwood as a jet squadron leader. Extras include commentary, still gallery and trailer.
The Body Snatcher Blu-ray
A literary classic becomes a horror classic at the hands of masters Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Val Lewton!
Screen icon Boris Karloff plays the title role in the Val Lewton adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Body Snatcher, directed with subtle calculation by versatile Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music). A doctor (Henry Daniell, The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake) needs cadavers for medical studies and Karloff is willing to provide them … one way or another. The film also features a wonderful supporting performance by fellow horror icon Bela Lugosi. Extras include documentary, featurette, commentary and still galleries.
The Clovehitch Killer Blu-ray
A shocking revelation turns a teenage boy’s world upside-down in this chilling look at the evil that can lurk below even the most wholesome surface.
Tyler Burnside (Charlie Plummer, All The Money In The World) is a Boy Scout, a volunteer at his local church, and the dutiful son of an upstanding, community leader dad (Dylan McDermott, American Horror Story). Only one thing troubles the quiet Kentucky town he lives in: the unsolved murders — in which ten women were brutally tortured and killed by a psychopath known as Clovehitch — that rocked the community more than a decade ago. When Tyler discovers a cache of disturbing images in his father’s possession, he begins to suspect that the man he trusts most in the world may be Clovehitch … and that his deadly rampage may not be over. With unrelenting tension, director Duncan Skiles crafts a picture-perfect vision of the American family … and then rips it to shreds. Extras include featurette and trailer.
Monster on Campus Blu-ray
A Monster “Born” in a College Lab! Fear stalks the seemingly tranquil halls of Dunsfield University with the arrival of a prehistoric fish, the coelacanth. The terror begins when a student’s dog laps up water that has been contaminated by the fish and turns into a savage wolf, attacking Madeline Howard (Joanna Moore, Touch Of Evil). The school’s paleontology professor, Donald Blake (Arthur Franz, The Caine Mutiny), is accidentally bitten by the coelacanth and blacks out, only to find that a hulking beast has killed one of his friends. Somehow, contact with this fish’s prehistoric blood causes a total collapse of evolution, turning animals and humans into mindless, murderous monsters! Extras include commentaries, trailer and still gallery.
The Craft: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Sarah has always been different. So as the newcomer at St. Benedict’s Academy, she immediately falls in with high school outsiders. But there’s something different about her new friends, and it’s not just that they won’t settle for being a group of powerless misfits. They have discovered The Craft … and they are going to use it.
This spectacular horror thriller has an all-star cast including Neve Campbell (the Scream franchise, Wild Things), Robin Tunney (Supernova, The Zodiac), Fairuza Balk (The Island Of Dr. Moreau, American History X), Rachel True (Half Baked, Embrace Of The Vampire) and Skeet Ulrich (Scream, Riverdale). Extras include commentary, interviews, vintage featurettes, deleted scenes and trailer.
The Deadly Mantis Blu-ray
What’s worse than a horde of locusts? A gigantic man-eating praying mantis, released from a million years of deep, frozen sleep and ready to claw its way to world domination!
This menacing insect kills everything in its path while scientists and military men work feverishly to stop it. Craig Stevens (Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde) stars as the commander in charge of putting an end to this beastly insect with William Hopper (20 Million Miles To Earth) as the paleontologist and Alix Talton (The Man Who Knew Too Much) as his beautiful assistant, a photojournalist, assigned to help in this epic battle between man and mantis! Extras include MST3K episode,commentary, trailer, and still gallery.
Pet Semetary 4K Blu-ray
Live action adaptations of Stephen King’s stories have always been plentiful, however, for many years they were hardly critically acclaimed blockbusters. That has all changed, however, after 2017’s It did exceptionally well with both critics and audiences alike, and we now have a remake of Pet Sematary on our hands 30 years after the creepy-but-campy adaptation from 1989.
While the 1989 original was hardly a cinematic masterpiece, it was not considered among the worst of the Stephen King adaptations of that era either, and it managed to create a memorably heart-wrenching moment with the accidental death of a very young child before said child returned from the dead to terrify viewers as a pint-sized, scalpel-wielding zombie.
Initially following largely in the footsteps of the original, we are introduced to the Creed family – and their cat Church, of course – as they settle into their new home in the Maine countryside, complete with huge trucks ominously speeding past their property. John Lithgow seems the obvious choice for the role of the elderly neighbor Jud, as Lithgow (much like Fred Gwynne in the original film) possesses an innate likability, which makes it somewhat more palatable that he is responsible for informing Louis Creed about the supernatural abilities of the soil that lies beyond the eerie, yet innocent pet burial ground in plain view of the Creed residence.
The film moves along the path trodden by its predecessor rather smoothly until certain major plot points are altered. These alterations – which Stephen King has already commented on and given his approval of – will likely divide viewers between those who welcome this change in terms of how it opens up the narrative possibilities for the remainder of the film, and those who feel that it creates a disconnect in terms what made the original film so chillingly tragic.
In addition to the obvious changes to the story, smaller alterations also have an impact. Where the original saw the accidental death of a child being a result of parental negligence more so than the potential meddling of evil forces at play on the Creed property, this scenario plays out rather differently here. As a result, the guilt that to some extent helped justify Louis’ actions in the 1989 film is diminished, making the actions of 2019 Louis seem careless more so than desperate.
Furthermore, the premonitions of daughter Ellie are also absent from the film, which results in the remake instead giving the impression that the evil forces that dwell within the soil of the Indian burial ground are sentient. Again, this may curdle the blood in the veins of some viewers, but much like the major plot alteration – which has already been shamelessly spoiled in trailers for the film – this increased sentience of nondescript forces also somewhat takes away from the repercussions the characters face because of the actions they ultimately were accountable for in the 1989 film.
While the production value of this remake is arguably a significant improvement over the 1989 version with decent performances for the most part, for connoisseurs of horror, the film does little to impress, especially if one is familiar with the original. The narrative structure and scares are predictable thanks to the beat-for-beat recreation of significant portions of the film as well as general, contemporary horror movie trends, and the shift of the protagonists’ accountability.
Lacking the narrative appeal that made the recent It remake work in spite of many deeming it to be more of an adventurous coming-of-age story with horror elements rather than a straight up horror film, Pet Sematary cannot compete narratively as its characters simply act too formulaic to current conventions to make its story and characters truly engaging. Instead, Pet Sematary is mostly an interesting take on a story previously told, which for some will be a standout among current horror films as it at least has good source material to fall back on, whereas others will feel that sometimes dead is indeed better than sitting through yet another remake. Extras include alternate ending, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes and making of. ( – Leyla Mikkelsen)
Man’s Best Friend Blu-ray
Pulse-pounding action and spine-chilling thrills put the bite into this sci-fi shocker starring Ally Sheedy (X-Men: Apocalypse, The Breakfast Club) and Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Aliens). When an ambitious news journalist (Sheedy) breaks into a genetic research facility, she uncovers the biggest story of her career and unleashes the lab’s most dangerous experiment: Max – a genetically enhanced guard dog with a vicious killer instinct. Superior sight, hearing, strength, and intelligence make him faster, stronger, and smarter than almost any other animal alive – and deadlier. Without the neuropathic drugs needed to curb his aggressive nature, his predatory urge runs out of control … and once he tastes blood, nothing can stop him. Extras include commentary, trailer and tv spots.
Valentine: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Revenge is sweet, just like Valentine’s Day chocolates. At least, that is what a vengeful, Cupid-masked killer thinks. Be my Valentine … or else. Broken hearts and other mortal wounds await a cast of contemporary young stars when they play dating-scene veterans dying for love in this humor-laced, twist-filled thriller cleverly directed by Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) and starring David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), Marley Shelton (Scream 4, Planet Terror), Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy) and more. Cards, candy and flowers are nice. But for fans of stalker-shocker terror, there’s nothing like a Valentine. Extras include commentary, interviews, raw footage, trailers, tv spots, deleted scenes and music video.
The Mole People Blu-ray
Terrifying Monsters from a lost age! John Agar (Attack Of The Puppet People), Hugh Beaumont (Leave It To Beaver) and Nestor Paiva (Creature From The Black Lagoon) star as three archaeologists who come upon an unusual race of albino beings who shun all forms of light and have mutant mole men as their slaves.
Because of their “magical cylinders of fire” (what we know as flashlights), these archaeologists are treated like gods – until they try to liberate the mole people. Can the archaeologists escape this hallowed mountain in Asia … or will they be destroyed in a strange underground world? Extras include two aspect ratios, commentary, making of, MST3K episode, still galleries and trailer.
The Curse of La Llorona Blu-ray
Horror is perhaps the one genre most closely linked with culture. Each ethnic group, nationality, and even subculture has its own boogeymen and things that go bump in the night. Conversely, these terrors are universal in that the fears they are based in are ubiquitous, whether it’s a fear of the dark or anxieties about what the afterlife entails. To that end, The Conjuring cinematic universe has largely rooted itself in traditionally European/western lore, ranging from old fashioned poltergeists to demonic nuns. If there was ever a long running horror franchise begging for a little cultural flavor, it was this one.
It’s for that reason that the latest tangential installment in this franchise, The Curse of La Llorona, seems so averse to it’s roots in Mexican culture, instead opting to present a traditional American ghost story with only vague aspirations of cultural reverence.
The film is centered around Anna (Linda Cardellini), a social worker and single mother living in 1970s Los Angeles with her two kids. When the children in one of her recent cases wind up drowned and the grieving mother accuses her of exposing the children to “La Llorana”, Anna begins to suspect something else is afoot. Her fears are only exacerbated when La Llorana attaches herself to her own kids and begins to terrorize them. Calling upon an ex-priest (Raymond Cruz), Anna confronts the vengeful spirit in a fight for her family.
Right off the bat, I was impressed by the film’s decision to set the opening scene in 17th century Mexico to give us a brief origin for the titular specter. The bright lighting and beautiful location juxtaposed against the horrific violence that we’re immediately thrown into are jarring and lead you into believing you’re about to watch something a lot more idiosyncratic. Unfortunately, that’s just so the film can suddenly jump cut to the title card and then transition to our actual story, which is introduced to us with a poorly chosen needle drop of the theme from Superfly of all things. Because it’s the 1970s…I guess?
Based on that music cue, you’d think the time period would be important, yet it’s really isn’t. Much of this movie could be set in present day and it wouldn’t change anything, which begs the question of why it isn’t set in Mexico in the first place. It’s unfair to critique a movie for what it isn’t rather than what it is, yet the Los Angeles setting isn’t very interesting at all. It’s even more frustrating when the film teases fantastically eerie imagery based in Mexican cultural iconography, but the film is so insistent on returning back to the same boring suburban house for the bulk of the narrative. The lack of location variety is undoubtedly due to a lower budget, but it gives the film an unavoidable aesthetic of cheapness.
Despite being what could be boiled down to being a Mexican re-skin of Valak from The Nun, La Llorona does admittedly have a pretty striking design and much of the best sequences in the film are derived from her just standing eerily, boosted by great use of shadow and sound work. Unfortunately, like many Conjuring universe films, the film sabotages itself by leaning too heavily on tediously drawn out “suspense” sequences that predictably end in an uninspired jump scare.
There’s a distinct lack of structure and pacing to the film, which makes it feel very stop and start. The scares never really escalate past non-sequitur jump scares for most of the film, yet suddenly almost 40 minutes of the film is dedicated toward the final showdown/climax. It’s a sudden shift yet doesn’t really feel earned when it felt so meandering for the first and most of the second act. In its rush to tick of the standard exorcism/demonic showdown tropes, it left anything interesting that could have been done with its premise back in the drawing room.
The Curse of La Llorona isn’t a very good movie, even within the confines of this highly hit or miss franchise. Despite its flaws, The Nun was able to lean into its Euro-horror roots to deliver something that, if not narratively, at least visually felt fresh. This film is just so damn reluctant to dig deeper into what it could be so the end result is a frustrating mess. It’s probably not the worst film in the franchise, but it’s easily the biggest waste of great potential. Extras include featurettes, deleted scenes and storyboards. ( – Vikrant Nallaparaju)
Godzilla: King of The Monsters Blu-ray
“Hail to the King, baby”
Everyone’s favorite Kaiju is back in Godzilla, King of Monsters, as Godzilla raids again.
This time he has some “friends” with him and things are about to go off the rails.
The new follow up film to Gareth Edward’s 2014’s Godzilla film is a treat and will make anyone who loves watching giant monsters beat the ever living snot out of one another ecstatic with childhood glee.
Set a few years after the events of Godzilla, the world is still reeling from the knowledge that giant monsters exist on Earth. Meanwhile the shadow organization known as Monarch has been slowly uncovering and keeping secret the existence of dozens and dozens more of these leviathans. Held in stasis, the members of Monarch, debate the big questions.
Do we try to control these creatures or should we destroy all monsters?
Godzilla has gone dormant and has not been seen since he defeated the MUTO’s in 2014. The world has been rebuilding slowly in a tentative solace that the worst is over… or so they hope. Enter scientist Dr. Emma Russell, who lost her son in the battle of San Francisco, she has discovered a way to control these creatures using a device she created and with the help of some mercenaries led by Ex-SAS man, Jonah Alan, played perfectly by Charles Dance, decides to “release the Kraken” or should we say Krakens to prove her theory and hopefully restore a balance that we humans have thrown out of whack with out raveging of the the planet. It is up to Godzilla and the members of Monarch to defeat the tidal wave of monstrosities set loose and stop the insane paths of destruction they are all on before all life is wiped out on Earth.
Godzilla: King of The Monsters, is a blast. It is chock full of monster fights, monster destruction and the ridiculous science fiction, rule breaking physics one should expect from a Godzilla film. If you are going into this movie expecting any semblance of logic and or scientific facts then you will be highly disappointed. If you are heading into this movie wanting to see Rodan explode out of a volcano and kick the crap out of Mothra or see Monster Zero a.k.a. King Ghidorah and Godzilla kick the crap out of each other and lay waste to home of Dunkin’ Donuts, then this is your film.
Equally, if you are looking for a solid human interest piece with lots of well rounded character development then you may have walked into the wrong movie. The studio, along with director and co-writer, Michael Dougherty, clearly listened to the audience in 2014 when the biggest complaint about that Godzilla film was that there was too much time spent with the humans and not enough time spent on Godzilla trashing stuff and punching monsters because Godzilla: King of The Monsters is a whole heck of a lot of monsters fighting and destruction. The people are almost afterthoughts and only catalysts to move the story along from point A to point B, and that is fine with me.
This is all I could ever want from a modern monster movie; a no holds-barred all monsters attack kinda of film with both oldies but goodies of the Kaiju world and new big boys and girls to join in the monster party. Long time fans of the original Toho Monsters be happy with the Easter Egg filled throwbacks sprinkled throughout the film as this film pays homage to where it came from.
I am particularly pleased, as a Bostonian, to see my hometown finally used as the set piece of the final battle. It is rare, almost unheard of to have a film not originally set in Boston, to have the final sequence of mayhem and destruction take place in Boston. It was great seeing landmarks I have grown up with be wiped out. I found it hilarious, as one of the characters says near the end of the movie “It is a bad day to be a Red Sox Fan.”
I for one loved Godzilla: King of The Monsters be sure to watch through the after credits sequence. I can’t wait for the “Rumble in the Jungle.” Extras include featurettes, deleted/extended scenes, trailers and commentary. ( – Benn Robbins)
Monsters of all types, sizes and origins continue to haunt cinema screens on a regular basis, but big screen releases for the monster movie subgenre concerning apex predators are far and few between, and when they do get cinematic distribution, they are usually panned mercilessly.
As such, there is an onslaught of such films being released directly for home viewing, all of which seem to be competing for the title of being as ludicrously far-fetched as possible. In particular, the preposterous yet entertaining Sharknado films have quite literally jumped the shark in their quest to be as ridiculous as humanly possibly, and the tongue in cheek approach has proved to be successful.
While sharks are undoubtedly at the top of the food chain in terms of the number of horror films made about them, plenty of other apex predators exist. However, the often questionable offerings featuring such beasts are somewhat of a rarity, and horrors about alligators are no exception, but now Crawl aspires to bring alligators to the surface of mainstream entertainment.
As easy as it would undoubtedly be to imitate the Sharknado formula of unhinged ridiculousness, Crawl instead gravitates more towards the mother of all apex predator films, namely Jaws. By going the route of telling a tense, ruthless tale of a father and daughter trapped in a crawlspace that is not only crawling with alligators but also steadily getting flooded as a hurricane approaches, the filmmakers have managed to create a grimly entertaining story that is just realistic enough to keep you invested in the characters.
Directed by Alejandra Aja, Crawl brings to mind the 2016 hit Don’t Breathe, which is undoubtedly thanks to the films sharing some of the same creative minds behind the scenes. Not only are there narrative parallels with both films having protagonists trapped in small spaces while dangerous beings pose a lurking threat, the sound design also plays an integral part.
As a result, every crunch and thrash is not only heard but also felt, and the appeal of the film is simply that you will get a bundle of good jump scares. As the tension builds and the scares keep coming and the prospects of the protagonists’ survival become increasingly dire, the film therefore succeeds on a primal level that may have you pulling your feet up, just in case a stray alligator has found its way into your local picture house.
The gore is also leagues better than that seen in most apex predator films. Deliberately seeking to gross you out as much as possible without going overboard and becoming involuntarily funny, just as the sound design helps create an unpleasant, yet amusing experience, the gore will also delight those who can stomach it.
Narratively, the film treads water with a rather basic plot line and acting that is palatable, albeit the aftertaste of the performances is decidedly wooden. However, considering you hardly watch movies about marauding monsters for the quality of the writing or the acting performances, this is therefore forgiven, and neither Kaya Scodelario or Barry Pepper are by any means deserving of a Razzie Award, even if Pepper has previously had the dubious honor of winning said award.
While Crawl certainly does not possess the narrative depth of the iconic Jaws, it is nonetheless far better than most films of its ilk as it manages to create a strong, sensationalized sense of dread. Similarly, by boasting a significantly higher production quality and a more talented crew than the vast majority of apex predator films, Crawl is ultimately a fresh, forgettable affair with plenty of bite and a rather hilarious use of a certain classic tune by Bill Haley & His Comets. Extras include alternate opening, deleted/extended scenes, and featurettes. (– Leyla Mikkelsen)
When your first feature film writes a new lane for the elevated horror genre, it can be hard to keep up the pace.
After the groundbreaking Get Out, audiences have certainly built up serious expectations for writer & director Jordan Peele’s second movie, Us.
The first delved into deeper themes of race and privilege which underscored the unnerving premise. Us is more of a straightforward sendup of a psychological thriller; a longform Twilight Zone that is creepy and clever but perhaps a little light on the societal critiques that made Peele’s previous movie such a standout.
The Wilsons are out to enjoy an all-American family vacation in Santa Cruz, California, but mother Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) cannot shake a sense of dread stemming from a childhood incident in a funhouse at the same seaside destination.
Soon, the entire family shares in her feeling as a mysterious family in red appears at their home one evening. Dread turns to terror as the night goes on, with survival becoming the only goal of their trip.
There is always something jarring about the same actor being the hero and the villain. It speaks to being confronted with the darkest version of yourself, and fearing that you may not be able to best them. Nyong’o turns in two amazing performances as Adelaide and the rasping, murderous Red. Each is a woman possessed in multiple ways. On one hand, there is the need to protect one’s family at any cost. On the other, the desire to break free. They intertwine and overlap in ways that will leave you musing and mulling well after leaving the theater. Both driving forces deliver powerful scares that come about elegantly amidst the blood and screams.
But there are almost as many laughs as there are screams throughout the film, mainly from Winston Duke, who expertly oozes dad-joke charm and cautious husband one-liners that add levity in places you would not expect. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker bring comedy and chills in supporting roles, while the Wilson children (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) are equally strong as hunter and hunted. Every character has purpose but there are a few muddy areas and nagging threads that are not tied up as neatly as one would hope, knowing what Peele is capable of. The third act trades the satisfaction of a thriller for the vague frustration of a theme that struggles with being too broad to rein in.
The largest flaw in the movie is the specter of the one before. The endless social commentary that followed Get Out primed audiences to look for signs and clues to larger societal themes. Even though Us is a terrific thriller and all-around great outing that led to many theater lobby discussions, there was the sense that the genre was not approached in a significantly novel way.
Instead, we received something that was interesting and rare in a more general sense: a solid and well-acted horror film. Extras include featurettes, scene explorations, deleted scenes, and additional footage/outtakes. ( – Kristen Halbert)
Child’s Play Blu-ray
The 1980s were undoubtedly the golden age of increasingly outlandish horror movie premises, and 1988’s Child’s Play started a franchise that certainly fits that bill. While the first installment placed heavy emphasis on the horror aspect and successfully managed to traumatize plenty of viewers by tapping into the common fear of creepy dolls, the possessed plaything named Chucky quickly became a horror fan favorite thanks to the character’s increasingly twisted sense of humor and the filmmakers being well and truly in on the joke in the increasingly ludicrous sequels.
With Brad Dourif’s voice acting being integral to the identity of Chucky, imagining anyone else voicing him is undeniably a strange concept for those familiar with the franchise. However, with Mark Hamill having delivered an iconic voice performance as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, if anyone would be fit for the task, it would definitely be him.
Nonetheless, many undoubtedly worry that Hamill would have been instructed to do a performance too similar to Dourif’s in terms of intensity and profanity. Thankfully, Hamill does his own thing as Chucky, making him almost sweet, and this results in a performance that is positively subdued in comparison to Dourif’s stabby, screeching lunatic of a demonic doll.
No longer possessed by the spirit of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, the 2019 of Chucky is a reboot – literally. While still creepy, the 2019 Chucky is not demonic as he is instead a piece of tech with a particularly malicious case of malfunction. As such, it is therefore easier to disconnect from what one associates with the Dourif Chucky, the Hamill Chucky is an entirely different personality type, albeit this incarnation of the deadly doll has only a smidgen of the personality that the original had.
As for the rest of the film surrounding Chucky, neither the plot nor the acting is anything worth writing home about. Fortunately, award-worthy filmmaking has never been the point of Chucky’s misadventures, and the film still has plenty of entertainment value, as the people behind the reboot fully understand that the Child’s Play franchise is synonymous with having as much fun as possible with a preposterous premise.
Much like the original film series took a turn towards blood-soaked comedy rather than the more traditional slasher formula other franchises usually stick to as they go on, the reboot in turn picks up the mantle of the later films and delivers an utterly silly piece of playful horror cinema.
Being the best kind of stupid, Child’s Play will not alienate fans of the original film series as the reboot has its tongue as firmly planted in its cheek as the later installments of Chucky’s original saga. Thus, while mainstream moviegoers will undoubtedly find that the film is incredibly stupid, connoisseurs of crap will recognize that Child’s Play is the kind of stupid that is completely self-aware and therefore perfectly enjoyable in all its disposable, ridiculous glory. Extras include commentary, featurettes, gallery and trailer. ( – Leyla Mikkelsen)
In his film Hereditary, Ari Aster established himself as a director who makes unsettling films that just skirt the horror genre.
His latest film, Midsommar, continues his fascination in using the horror genre to examine the dark side of relationships.
Midsommar takes a fairly familary plot, a group of young people just out of school go on a summer adventure and things go horribly wrong, and tries to shock the audience with gore, nudity, and taboo relationships.
Dani is a young woman who has suffered a family tragedy that shakes her world.
To get away from her problems and in an attempt to cling to her wishy-washy boyfriend Christian, Dani tags along with Christian and his guy friends on a summer adventure to visit the foreign student Pelle’s “family” celebration of Mid-Summer in rural Sweden.
The trip starts out tense as it becomes apparent that it was supposed to be a boy’s only trip, and turns dark as the idealistic getaway becomes more then the group bargained for.
Midsommar’s strength is in its film-craft. Ari Aster and his cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski have created a beautiful looking film. Aster uses the tool box he constructed while filming Hereditary and refines his visual lexicon.
Much of the framing is pure art-house aesthetic. The camera’s movement is often used to disorient and unsettle the viewer without losing its attention to the beauty of the setting. The use of these techniques may lack subtlety, but it is refreshing to watch after a season of Hollywood bombarding the theaters with the standard CGI blockbusters. Even though there is a fair amount of CGI in Midsommar, it’s the salt added to bring out the flavor of the dish, not the base of the meal.
While the craft of the film is interesting, the story is not. Beyond a few gory details there are no surprises. The people you don’t trust, you shouldn’t. The people you think are doing bad things are. The people you think will get hurt do get hurt.
The script lends itself to characters that are barely two dimensional. None of the characters garnered my sympathy. Each is a self involved, American stereotype that I found myself quickly losing patience with. When most of Dani’s group meet their demise (No, that’s not a spoiler. It’s a horror film. Character death is an expectation), I feel very little about their end.
The lack of character development made me mistake Jack Reynor (Macbeth) and Will Poulter(The Maze Runner) for being incredibly bland actors, especially next to Florence Pugh’s (Outlaw King) performance of Dani, whose character was written with the most emotional range. Having discovered that Reynor is actual Irish and Poulter is English made me reevaluate my take on their performances. They masterfully played bland American perfectly.
As beautiful as Midsommer is it is also a 2+ hour slog of discomfort. Everything about the film has been chosen to make the viewer uncomfortable. By the time the filmmakers hit me with the gore and “surprises”, I was too fatigued to have it make a powerful impact.
If you enjoy watching a movie to see the craft of filmmaking, then you will enjoy Midsommar. If you are looking for a horror movie to scare and entertain you, you may want to pass. Extras include featurette. ( – Liz Robbins)
The Dead Don’t Die Blu-ray
I have a love/hate relationship with the new zombie film, The Dead Don’t Die by Jim Jarmusch.
I want to hate it but I secretly love it.
In the same breath, I secretly hate it, but really want to love it.
There is a lot to unpack in this cynical new entry into the Jarmusch oeuvre. I went in thinking I would get something more along the lines of Only Lovers Left Alive, what I got was something much much different.
The Dead Don’t Die is more art house and harkens back to Jarmusch’s earlier works and while it is his most “commercial” film to date, it seems like his most subversive because of it.
Marketed as the next Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland the film is more bleak and hopeless than the other films combined and much like the film it take most of its influence from, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, there is as much social commentary as there is head shots.
Where Romero’s themes were the disillusionment with what America was in the 60’s with the Cold War, Media, and the Vietnam war, Jarmusch is about consumerism, the environment, and how narcissistic we as a society have with social media and the internet. I get the feeling that Jarmusch is going for “What would actually happen if there was a zombie apocalypse?” I think his answer is pretty spot on. Not much, because in fact we have all become our own brand of zombies. Mindlessly trudging through life staring at our cell phones, posting crap on Facebook and Twitter, lead by the worst most narcissistic zombie of all, 45.
Set in a tiny, rural, woodland town of Centerville, an “Anytown USA”, the usual peace and quiet is interrupted by the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse. It is up to the three main peace officers of the town, Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray), and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver), and the hapless Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloe Sevigny) to defend the townsfolk and do their best to stem the wave of undead terrorizing their little hamlet.
Zombies exist and are known in Jarmusch’s world, throughout the film there are nods to zombie films of the past. This film is rife with easter eggs from past ghoulish films. The only difference here is that these zombies are as drawn to things they liked in life, like coffee and cigarettes, iPhones, and material goods as they are to brains and flesh. Not to say they have abandoned the “old ways” there is plenty of good ole killings of people as well.
It seems that something called “Polar frakking” seems to be the reason for this recent spade of undead risings. Officers Robertson and Peterson are mostly unphased by this. Bill Murray takes his nonchalant, passive observer character he has developed over the last decade to a new level of “huh”. Adam Driver proves to be a great deadpan comedian. His matter of fact “Well this is going to end badly” and almost meta observations about their situation are some of the funniest moments in the film. Sevigny’s Officer Morrison is 100% freaked out and not handling any of this well. This is a great role reversal for Sevigny, as she is usually the level headed cool character in these films.
This film is a who’s who of actors and actresses that have previous starred in a Jim Jarmusch film. Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, RZA, Steve Buscemi, Rosie Perez, and Sara Driver all return and are all perfectly cast.
Back to what I love and hate it. The art student filmmaker in me loves the subversive nature of what Jarmusch is doing with the genre and twisting it on is head. Audiences are going to go into this film thinking it is going to be a Shaun of the Dead or some equally hilarious “zomcom”. What they are going to get is Jim Jarmusch’s social study of America and how far we have fallen into ourselves. Where the real joke is that there is no joke. That everything is bleak as hell and even if you want to do something about it you will be fighting a horde of zombies who want to destroy you regardless of how well meaning you are. I hate that I feel like he didn’t take it far enough and that I was left feeling like something was missing from this film. I finished the film feeling uneasy. Not the uneasy he wanted me to feel but the unease of potential not fulfilled. Extras include interviews and featurettes. (– Benn Robbins)
Guillermo del Toro’s unadulterated love for monsters has always saturated his work, and it finally earned him an Oscar for the dark fairy tale The Shape of Water. This recognition was long overdue, especially if you ask anyone familiar with his work, as the Mexican filmmaker’s flair for storytelling in terms of both visuals and narrative has always set him apart from his peers.
This also includes del Toro’s flawed, yet immensely atmospheric and visually intriguing Hellboy films. Originally intended to be a trilogy, the third installment of del Toro’s vision unfortunately never materialized for a number of reasons. Instead, a reboot was given the green light, and after enduring Neil Marshall’s Hellboy, one truly does wonder if there is a God.
A soulless husk of a film, the reboot starts by doing its best impression of a Deadpool voice-over to let us know that this will have the language and gore to justify its R-rating – but make no mistake; this film only has language for the sake of language and gore for the sake of gore. Where Deadpool essentially elevates foul language and explicit comic book violence to an art form, the language in Hellboy is overdone and annoying, and while the gore is certainly fascinating because of how grotesquely excessive it is, this overindulgence inevitably also serves to further disengage the viewer from the woefully weak narrative.
In fact, the writing is so poor that one at times wonders if this Hellboy is actually supposed to be a parody. The line delivery is jarringly wooden and the humor is as awkward and forced as the rest of the dialogue, and these issues are only exacerbated by the complete lack of chemistry between the cast members. As a result, it is impossible to emotionally invest in any of the characters, as they are all one-dimensional and completely lack any character development whatsoever.
David Harbour is the lesser evil in terms of the cast, as he at least seems to be trying his best to work with the atrocious script he has been given. Alas, any effort Harbour may have made are drowned under prosthetic makeup that does not hold a candle to that of the original films, both in terms of the overall design and the actor’s ability to emote through it all.
In addition to the practical effects being unable to compete with those of the original Hellboy films, the digital effects of the reboot also leave a lot to be desired. Often looking awfully dated, the digital effects are not only largely unimpressive, some of the creative decisions are also puzzling at best, and the obvious green screen is downright distracting at times.
Somehow both overly long and much too short, the film feels the need to constantly introduce myriads of side characters, often without much introduction or followup. Again, just like the rest of the film, there appears to be put little to no thought into adding this many characters and creatures, resulting in the film instead giving the impression that the filmmakers hoped that cramming the film full of creatures would distract from the fact that they had no clue how to do any actual world-building. As a result, the film instead becomes a dizzying string of montages, all set to a heavy metal soundtrack that tries – and spectacularly fails – to emulate the current trend of popular music used in superhero blockbusters.
Where Guillermo del Toro managed to build a world where the existence of his Hellboy seemed plausible in spite of him sticking out like a giant, sore, red thumb, Neil Marshall’s Hellboy only impresses in terms of how mindbogglingly awful it is. Completely devoid of the humanity del Toro infused his efforts with, this new Hellboy is both overdone and underbaked all at once, as it tries to both ride the coattails of its predecessor as well as defecate all over the the big, red demon we had all come to know and love.
As such, the Hellboy reboot is disappointing beyond what even its most skeptical critics could have predicted. Placing itself among the dubious ranks of the later installments of the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises, the film is an endurance test to say the least, and after sitting through this frustratingly inept drivel, I, for one, would welcome Anung Un Rama ushering in the apocalypse. Extras include previsualization, deleted scenes and featurette. ( – Leyla Mikkelsen)
Unnaturally hued nacho cheese, overly sappy soap operas, the majority of Snapchat stories — we know its trash, but it is also delicious and satisfying in its badness.
Ma is a new edition to this list as a movie with a sloppy storyline and gaping plot holes, but reasonably elevated with a strong performance from Octavia Spencer in the titular role and supporting work from Allison Janney, Juliette Lewis, Luke Evans, and Missi Pyle.
It is the kind of dumpster fire that is more mesmerizing the longer you peer into the flames.
Maggie (Diana Silvers) and her mother Erica (Juliette Lewis) have moved back to the gray rural town in Ohio that Erica had fled after high school.
While she works long shifts at the local casino, Maggie makes new friends that have a penchant for trouble. While trying to get an adult to buy alcohol for the teens, they strike gold in Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) who not only buys them booze but after a few times invites them to party at her house and call her “Ma”.
Well, as long as they obey a few simple rules. As things get stranger and more awkward at Ma’s house, the teens try to disengage. But relationships can’t be ended so cavalierly in Ma’s world, and the teens come to find that there is something incredibly dark about their newest maternal friend.
To think that this film comes from the same director who helmed The Help and Get On Up is a testament to the diversity of the cinema. For Tate Taylor to go from films roundly loved by critics and audiences alike to something that would be lucky to get a Razzie is no small feat.
The pacing of the movie drags through setup and flies through her psychotic break, and it seems that all direction was given to the powerhouse women that were cast while the teenage main characters — so bland that they may have been plucked from background scenes in Pretty Little Liars — were given more lines than they’ve had in their careers up til now but no help on how to deliver them.
And above it all, Spencer shines with her friendly nature, knowing smile, and bloodthirsty vengeance-driven rampage. It would be simple to make this a sad sack character with little depth but she manages to flesh out the skeletal script to the point that you feel for the way Sue Ann has been treated. It is easy to see her as deeply flawed and in pain rather than simply criminally insane. That’s an important line to tow in this kind of dark revenge-of-the-nerds dark horror movie and Spencer brings her A game to a B list movie with gusto.
As the lead doe-eyed teen, Diana Silvers barely makes an impression and her whole crew is rather forgettable in the face of their stronger acting parents. Spencer leads them as a sickening Pied Piper with the promise of free alcohol and no supervision, and when the teens finally balk at this middle-aged woman trying to hang with them her revenge is swift and tied to the injustices of her own adolescent life. The teens have no idea what kind of adult they are dealing with, and the chasm of acting ability between Spencer and the young protagonists make it even more absurdly mesmerizing.
This movie will be talked about, rewatched, and discussed many times not for its merits, but for the strangely high amount of entertainment value in its deficits.
Ma is a deeply flawed but pretty enjoyable romp through several well-worn tropes, and a sinister view of Octavia Spencer I would not mind having again. Extras include alternate ending, deleted scenes, featurettes and trailer. ( – Kristen Halbert)
With superheroes currently dominating the world of audio-visual entertainment, we have already seen a wide array of different subgenres, be they bright and colourful or gritty and violent, but a dark horror film pertaining to the subject is, however, unusual.
With Superman being one of the most iconic and easily recognisable superheroes of all time, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is completely unfamiliar with the Kryptonian’s origin story, and thus the groundwork for the setting of Brightburn has already been laid through decades of entertainment.
While having nothing as such to do with the properties of DC Comics or Warner Bros., Brightburn still relies on recognisable imagery from Kal-El’s lore, which the film then turns on its head to create a genuinely eerie narrative in this grim, super-powered horror.
Some may consider it a negative to essentially avoid telling anything about the origins of Brandon Breyer aside from what is implied by the visuals in the prologue at beginning of the film, but with the cardinal cinematic sin of exposition dumping still being committed on a regular basis, Brightburn’s minimal digging into the origins of this alien boy is a definite plus.
In terms of the acting, Elizabeth Banks is her usual, likeable self, and David Denman puts in a solid effort as the loving, yet skeptical dad who says everything the audience is thinking. With the parental unit being relatable thanks to grounded and warm performances, the film has more engaging lead characters than most horror films, however, the true star of the film is Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer.
At times channeling Damien Thorn, Dunn’s presence is sufficiently menacing without becoming hammy, even during the moments where the story takes substantial liberties with the ways in which it is showcased just how twisted the main character is. As a result, the young actor is a believable threat in a part that could all too easily have descended into a derivative cheese fest about superheroes gone supervillain.
Instead of the superhero element overpowering the narrative, the emphasis is firmly kept on the horror from start to finish, and while Brightburn hardly reinvents the horror genre, it nonetheless goes against the conventions of said genre just enough to maintain being sufficiently interesting throughout.
Similarly in keeping with the horror genre, the film does not shy away from gore, but much like the classic superhero moments have an unusually unpleasant type of shock factor when viewed through this bleak lens, the gore is also impactful thanks to the mix of the degree of gruesomeness and the scarcity with which it is used.
While nowhere near the narrative heights or visual spectacle of the likes of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Brightburn nonetheless fits in well with the more niche type of films associated with the Gunn clan and their associates. Additionally, the film establishes itself as one of the better horror films to be released so far this year, just as it also proves to be somewhat of an antidote to the type of superhero films we have become accustomed to in recent years. Extras include commentary, featurettes and social vignettes. ( – Leyla Mikkelsen)
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