The Empire Pictures Blu-ray Collection, a massive limited edition collection featuring 18 films on 15 discs packaged in a stunning, sturdy and elegant black collectors box adorned with a GOREgeous collage of original Empire poster art. Inside there will be an exclusive 24 page book with writing from Empire of the B’s author Dave Jay and Delirium editor Chris Alexander.
Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn 3D (1983) (Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Charles Band
Starring: Richard Moll, Kelly Preston, Tim Thomerson, Michael Preston
Rated: PG/Region A/2:35/1080p
A seeker named Dogen rescues Dhyana after her father is murdered by the evil Jared-Syn. To avenge her father’s death, Dogen must find Jared-Syn’s hideout in the mysterious “Lost City”, but the only person who knows where it is an aging, burned-out seeker named Rhodes. Along the way, they will need to do battle against the hunter Baal and his Cyclopean minions for engaging Jared-Syn in a final encounter.
We got some pre-Full Moon Charles Band here with Metalstorm. A very big idea with probably not enough big money to back it all up, to be honest. The movie is a pretty far out idea and it more or less tries its best at what it’s trying to do but I could easily see where some folks could be lost along the way with some of it. One of the highlights is none other than actor Richard Moll as a Cyclopian warlord. All in all the movie was probably custom made for action figures, especially with all the weird characters and the 80’s but this was a cult film and as you know it just went to a cult status that is leading it to find a new home with the ranks of Scream Factory today. It becomes really clear while watching that this movie is just another Mad Max clone but unlike some of the rest it at least tries to add even a bit of Sword and Sorcery type flavor to the Sci-fi pool. Well, maybe just sorcery if nothing else, but I’m sure after you see this you will get the point. The movie has some good parts to it but ultimately seems to fall a bit flat in spots and those flat spots are what kind of drags this one down a bit too much for its own good but I do take note of some of the charms in the better parts of the movie.
It is nice seeing Tim Thomerson here in this one and he seems to more or less turn it into a buddy comedy of sorts in spots, but I don’t think he’s enough to save this one as a whole. This movie does come to you on this release with two discs. One has the movie in 2D and the other has it in 3D for those of you still rocking that Blu-ray 3D format. I can’t really comment on the 3D but I do think the Blu-ray looks a little spotty. I think most of the blame for that is due to the source but as you watch you can spot some blurry areas in the pictures, which is common for some older films but it becomes noticeable with the film in HD. The print does have some very good scenes but we do have a lot of soft spots here and there as well. All in all, I’m sad to say that Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn isn’t my favorite Empire Picture movie or Scream Factory release but it is still nice to see stuff like this come to Blu-ray even if it isn’t the best movie you’ll find out there on the market.
– NEW High Definition Transfer Presented In Both 2-D And 3-D!
– NEW High Noon At The End Of The Universe – Featuring Interviews With Director/Producer Charles Band, Actors Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll And Tim Thomerson, Screenwriter/Producer Alan J. Adler, Special Effects Artist Allan Apone, Make-up Artist Kenny Myers And Composer Richard Band
– Promotional And Behind-The-Scenes Still Gallery
– Radio Spot
– Original Theatrical Trailer
Quality of Transfer: 78%
The Dungeonmaster / Eliminators (Blu-ray Review)
Rated: UR & PG-13/Region A/1:78/1080p/Number of Discs 2 (Share the same Disc)
Available from Scream Factory
The Dungeonmaster (1985)
Directed By: David Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolaou, Rosemarie Turko
Starring: Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll, Leslie Wing
Paul, a young computer ace, is forced to pit his physical and mental skills against unimaginable odds when a hulking wizard looking for formidable opponents picks Paul as his next challenger. Paul faces a series of seven spectacular and death-defying challenges and must survive not only to save his life but that of his girlfriend’s too! Jeffrey Byron (Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn) and Richard Moll (Night Court) star in this eye-popping thriller featuring an appearance by W.A.S.P.! This version of THE DUNGEONMASTER is Unrated and different from the PG-13 version shown theatrically. It includes an additional scene with some nudity. Parental discretion is advised.
This is a good place for this double bill of Empire Pictures weirdness to start if you ask me. The film changed its name from Ragewar at one point (we seem to be getting that version here) to The Dungeonmaster in order to tie in a bit with Dungeons and Dragons. Not a bad idea I suppose, but it seems more insane than sword and sorcery, not that some of that still doesn’t seem to still fit. I don’t care what you call it, this movie with what seems like 5 million directors is soo weird you can’t help but at least half-way enjoy what you are watching. The movie plays in a way like a video game with our hero and his computer gadget arm having to defeat bad situation after bad situation to reach his goal of saving his woman. Does it make sense? Heck no! Still, I didn’t have a hard time with it and sometimes mindless fun like this is what you need. And it also hard to talk too much smack about a movie that isn’t shy about opening up with a hot woman in all her glory, meaning the woman doesn’t seem to have any clothes on. No, we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, but it seems to fit here anyway. You can probably also guess that that scene probably wasn’t in the PG-13 version, then again, things were way different back then.
The movie seems like a black sheep anthology movie with the conflict taking us to different setting and scenarios. I’m not sure if that was what they were going for, but the segments give that vibe and it does come across half-way like that is just what it might be trying to be. It is an experimental movie in a lot of ways and seems to pack a lot of that weird vibe and feel you’d see in the 80’s with other weird half sword, half acid trip films that came out around the time. I can’t sit here and tell you that everyone who runs across a movie like Dungeonmaster will enjoy it. But I do think people are into stuff like this will probably be some dumbfounded by what they see that they won’t be able to do anything else other than sitting back and just let it run its strange and weird course. The film comes to you here looking pretty solid in its HD form. You’ll, of course, notice more detail when things are done in the outside areas, but you can’t beat the look of something like this here regardless.
– Theatrical Trailer
Quality of Transfer: 82%
Directed By: Peter Manoogian
Starring: Andrew Prine, Denise Crosby, Patrick Reynolds
A mandroid – part man and part machine – seeks revenge on the evil scientist who created him. Enlisting the help of a beautiful woman and a mysterious ninja, he pursues the scientist in hopes of stopping him before he can further harm humanity. Andrew Prine (The Town That Dreaded Sundown) and Denise Crosby (Star Trek: The Next Generation) star.
Eliminators was the core influence for the Astron 6 sci-fi filled Man-Borg. Not only does their lead look like the lead here, but our half robot friend here is called Man-Droid. He also has a ninja man as a side-kick, but that may be jumping a little too far ahead of this review. Truth is, Eliminators, is probably just as strange on the surface as the other movie on this disc. We have a half-man half-robot with apparently enough of his human side left to fight back against his evil maker. Along the way, he gets help from a female doctor, a charismatic drifter of sorts, a small robot, and the ninja dude I already mentioned. It makes for a strange cast of characters, but it also makes for a lot of fun. Sure, you get soo many cheesy things in this you’ll probably want to watch it with a box of crackers, but no matter how weird it gets, it still never gets dull and that is the best part. Well, that mixed with the odd delivery of some of the actors and the action. If this movie does nothing else right, it at least seems to know how to toss strange character out of nowhere at you, build some action scenes, and keep things feeling fresh, even if the plot tends to get lost of mucky from time to time.
I’m not going to spoil anything, but the movie also seems to know how to have a sudden and somewhat anti-climatic ending. Not that the weird way it seems to go out doesn’t sorta go along with the rest of the silly film, but you do sorta expect a little more than what we get at the end. Still, I dug it and I liked it for all the flaws because those flaws are what make the movie. Had I seen this growing up I’m sure this would have been getting a lot of action in my VCR, but at least now I’ll have it at its best as far as the look of the transfer goes. I think this movie benefits a lot from the setting. We pop on close-ups and we pop outside during the movie. You will surely notice how much detail is there during the water scenes, which seem to take up a good chunk of the movie. A movie mind you that turns out to be about as funny as it could be, regardless if that comedy was always meant to come through over everything else or not. I heard someone is making a documentary on Empire Pictures, and let me tell you after this double bill I really want to see it and hear the story behind stuff like what you get here.
– NEW Interview With Director Peter Manoogian
Quality of Transfer: 91%
Ghoulies (Blu-ray Review)
Rated: PG-13 and R/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1 (Share the same Disc)
Directed By: Luca Bercovici
Starring: Lisa Pelikan, Peter Liapis, Michael Des Barres
Take a creepy old Hollywood mansion, a naive young man, and a pretty girl. Add an over-the-top orgy and some slimy, winged goblins who crawl out of toilets, and you have Ghoulies, a horrifying and hilarious ride into the darkest regions of hell! Conjured during a party thrown by the mansion’s new owner, the hairy, fanged demons waste no time wreaking havoc on the scene – and declaring the unsuspecting owner their new lord and master! Peter Liapis (Ghost Warrior), Lisa Pelkin (Jennifer), Michael Des Barres (Waxwork II, Under Siege) and Jack Nance (Eraserhead, Twin Peaks) star in this fanged frenzy of sharp twists and eye-popping shocks that’ll get you where it counts!
Ahh, the Ghoulies. A 1984 PG-13 horror creation of Charles Band and you should probably realize he had something to do with it as soon as you see we have small creatures here in the film. Anyway, it is a mix of comedy, cults, and some wacky character that you’d expect to see in a horror movie from 1984. Things, however, do move a bit slow for my taste, as things take their time getting set-up. As we wait for something to happen, you can at least take comfort in seeing none other than Eraserhead himself, Jack Nance, playing the role of Wolfgang. A character that is here when it counts, but one I wish we would have seen even more based off just who is playing the character. The meat of the story revolves around Jonathan Graves, a character with a past, and a character that likes to dress up as a wizard and bring these little things (“Ghoulies”) out. He isn’t what I’d call a strong character, but there are at least attempts to make him a complex character, with the jury being out on if they ever really succeed in that job or not. We also don’t seem to have a female character that we really want to get behind in sight, something that can also work against a movie like this.
Basically, Ghoulies is about as campy as you can get. A Full Moon movie without really being officially a Full Moon movie. It packs the tone and campy nature of those films you’d see later on from Charles Band and the gang, and if that is something you just love, then you will love Ghoulies for all of that to which it packs inside its hour and a half running time. If you want something a little more like blood, a body count, and a better pace, then you might be more alongside me in my boat when it comes to Ghoulies. I’m happy to see it being released on Blu-ray, don’t get me wrong. I’m also just really happy it comes with the sequel because I don’t think it is good enough to really stand on its own as a Scream Factory release. The effects are cool, I will admit that. I just wish it all had come to a much better end result. It is a bit of a tease with all the potential it had, but it never does fully deliver in the overall movie side of things. There is one bright spot, that is a table scene that gets pretty gnarly, but everything else falls a little too flat for me.
– Audio Commentary With Director/Co-writer Luca Bercovici
– New Interviews With Executive Producer Charles Band, Composer Richard Band, Actor Michael Des Barres And Special Effects Makeup Artist John Vulich
– Original Theatrical Trailer
Quality of Transfer: 82%
Ghoulies II (1988) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Albert Band
Starring: Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro
The demonic, toilet-dwelling goblins are back! Stowed away in “Satan’s Den,” the traveling House of Horror operated by carnival workers Larry and Uncle Ned, the Ghoulies merrily devour the sideshow attraction’s patrons… until Larry realizes his horror house is for real and tries to flee the scene! Deliciously outrageous special effects and over-the-top antics ratchet up the horrific fun! Kerry Remsen (Pumpkinhead), Phil Fondacaro (Troll), William Butler (1990’s Night Of The Living Dead) and Royal Dano (Big Bad Mama) star in this creepy, crawly sequel that’s got every bit as big a bite as the original!
In the 80s, it seemed like everything got a sequel and Ghoulies was no different. While I’m not a fan (as you could tell) of the original Ghoulies, I will admit that the second film does improve on a lot of what was wrong with the original. I don’t think it is a classic by any means, but it at least comes across as fun most the time and also has the cool setting going for it. Look, a carnival makes everything better. It worked in The Funhouse and it works here in a whole lot of ways (Not to mention the cool “Devil’s Den” name it comes with). The overall setting feels like a good 80s movie instead of the other 80s movie the original one was. We also have more time with these darn Ghoulies here and that makes things better overall. We still seem to cut away when we’d rather hang around a scene much longer, but at least it isn’t taking as long for stuff to get rolling this time around like it did before with the original film. I also think these darn Ghoulies themselves are overall more entertaining this time around. Not sure if they reach a “goes to college” level of fun, but you will take notice, as you should when watching creatures that a movie is named after.
I do think we have made a better choice in our leads this time around! Both the characters of Larry and Nicole are much better than our leads before. Heck, just the characters of Uncle Ned and our dwarf Sir Nigel Penneyweight are better characters than anyone we’d find in our last movie. We even have a bad guy to really hate here as well in the evil business man, P. Hardin. There is a better pace, setting, use of the characters, and use of the Ghoulies here to enjoy in Ghoulies II. The movie seems a little light at times on the horror, even for a horror comedy, but when watched right after the original you can really appreciate more what it does do right. While I don’t usually give great details on the transfers of these things, I will also point out that the look of Ghoulies II is head and shoulders better than the original on this disc as well. Together, these films make for a nice buy for any Ghoulies fan. I’m just happy they didn’t try to put these out solo.
Extras Quality of Transfer: 90%
– New Interviews With Executive Producer Charles Band, Actors Kerry Remsen And Donnie Jeffcoat, And Special Effects Artist Gino Crognale
– Rare Deleted Scenes
– Original Theatrical Trailer
Trancers (1984) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Charles Band
Starring: Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, Michael Stefani
Rated: R/Region 0/widescreen/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Jack Deth is a kind of cop/bounty hunter in the bleak Los Angeles of the future. He’s become obsessed with chasing Whistler – an evil criminal who uses powerful hypnotic powers to convert people into zombie-like creatures known as trancers. Whistler has managed to escape through time travel and is loose in 1980s L.A. but Deth is on his trail. Here, Trancers comes to Blu-ray for the first time and has been remastered with Widescreen color correction, 5.1 surround sound, and an incredible amount of extras.
The first of the Trancers films is very cool and very 80s, that seems to be the appeal now. The character Jack Deth is a little rough around the edges and that makes watching him that much more fun. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy Tim Thomerson on screen. We get some cool for their time effects and some funny scenes, like Jack dealing with a Trancered out Santa at a mall. Also, a very young Helen Hunt is a joy to watch as well. The movie isn’t filled with the most action and his 10 seconds watch does seem to go a bit beyond 10 seconds, but logic aside, it’s fun. That was really all you could ask for in a movie from the 80s like this. This has always been one of the more fun releases under the Full Moon banner and it is even more enhanced with a release like this.
Revisiting this film now you can see why it spawned so many sequels after. You never get bored by what is on screen and even if something seems cheesy, it still seems to fit with what we have and actually helps it even more. They don’t seem to make sci-fi action flicks like this anymore and if they did they’d probably be messed up with bad CGI. Trancers is just a cool flick and if you want a fun popcorn movie it is one for you. The transfer for Trancers isn’t perfect. Still, I have never EVER seen the film look better. Some soft areas are the only real negative, but you still get great color and detail for the most part. I especially dig the color here. I hope one day we see more Trancers make their way to Blu-ray.
– Audio Commentary by Tim Thomserson and Charles Band
– Daniel Griffith’s Trancers Featurette
– Rare Interview with Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, and Megan Ward
– Complete Trancers: City of Lost Angels Segment from the Pulsepounders Trilogy
– Rare Stills Gallery
– Rare Full Moon Trailers
Quality of Transfer: 85%
Crawlspace (1986) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: David Schmoeller
Starring: Klaus Kinski, Talia Balsam, Barbara Whinnery
Rated: R/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Renter Beware! Psychotic landlord Karl Gunter wants to charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege of tenancy! Spying on his female renters from an elaborate network of crawlspaces, Gunther lures new victims into his torture chamber with an incessant “tap, tap, tap!” Can a new prospective renter stop this apartment building’s rapid turnover rate… or will Gunther continue to make a killing?!?
This is a film that I actually grew up with. It was on an old VHS tape and I had seen it many times as a child (if you can believe that), but as I grew I had about forgotten about it until this release. While the news tells of lead actor, Klaus Kinski, being a major pain in the butt on set, the performance he gives is something to see. As he lurs attractive tenant after attractive tenant into the web he weaves, all the while taking time out of play a little Russian Roulet on the side. There isn’t an all out gore fest here, but we get some nasty stuff to keep us occupied as things unfold.
The film opens with our beloved landlord off’ing a woman who got a little too close to the truth. This opens up a free room that he soon rents to what would qualify as our leading lady, but she seems to be leading in name only because she isn’t around THAT much until the final part of the film. The rest of the movie is spent with Gunter being a creep and watching the ladies (and soon killing them) who live in his building. It could easily be a film that gets looked over, but it is well worth checking out. The transfer also blows a standard release out of the water as the colors are crisp and the movie shows little signs of transfer trouble. It isn’t perfect, but it is perfectly acceptable.
– Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David Schmoeller
– Short Film: Please Kill Mr. Kinsky
– Interview with Make-up Effects Artist John Vulich
– TV Spots
– Theatrical Trailer
Quality of Transfer: 90%
TerrorVision (1986) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Ted Nicolaou (Terrorvision) Robert Scott (The Video Dead)
Starring: Gerrit Graham, Mary Woronov, Chad Allen
A civilization on a distant planet has found a way to solve its garbage problem: turning it into energy and beaming it into outer space. A flaw in this system is found when the signal is accidentally picked up on Earth by the Putterman Family’s home satellite dish. While this would ordinarily be just another mess, this particular transmission contains a hungry trash monster that quickly begins snacking on the Puttermans and their guests. Only young Sherman Putterman has any clue what is going on, but nobody will believe him. Is there any hope for the Earth?
TerrorVision is our first feature on this combo that can be described in the solo word, “Fun”. Here we have very elaborate characters. Most of these people do things that will annoy the heck out of you, but then something happens and it also makes you laugh. Add into all of that a giant monster wanting to eat everything in sight and it’s hard not to have fun while watching this movie. This is 100% 80s cheese with very unlikeable characters, but it’s all ok due to it being all by design.
The film does hit a slight drag during the half way point, but I find that it is only a speed bump in an otherwise fun and enjoyable experience. We get plenty of goo and gore to hold over lovers of practical effects and the movie is a nice dose of 80s horror comedy cinema. This isn’t by any means a film that will fall under the classic banner, but it isn’t dull as a whole and makes up for a good time. Plus, I can’t help but praise the way our monster looks here in HD. TerrorVision is a good time if nothing else.
– Commentary with writer/director Ted Nicolaou and actors Diane Frank and Jon Gries
– Monster on Demand: The Making of TerrorVision
– Poster and Still Gallery
*Disc Also Comes with The Video Dead*
Quality of Transfer: 95%
Dolls (1987) (Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Stuart Gordon
Starring: Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Carrie Lorraine
Rated: R/Region A/1:85
They’re cute, they’re cuddly…and they kill! From horror director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), producer Brian Yuzna (Society) and screenwriter Ed Naha (Troll) comes this ’fiendish nightmare’ (The Hollywood Reporter) that combines the pint-sized playmates of childhood with bone-chilling fun, resulting in ’a bloody bonbon you chew with relish’ (Los Angeles Times)! A precocious girl, her nasty parents, two punk-rock losers and a weak-kneed salesman inadvertently become the guests of two ghoulish senior citizens in their dark, haunted mansion. The old couple makes and collects dolls that, when not sitting still like good little mannequins, creep around in the night, offing the guests one by one! You may laugh at first, but if they turn on you, you’ll regret it…for the rest of your short life! Guy Rolfe (Puppet Master III, Mr. Sardonicus), Stephen Lee (Robocop 2) and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond) star in this bloody good terror trap that delivers its frights, fun and fantastic effects in equal measure.
With this brand new Collector’s Edition release from Scream Factory, you can watch as the small doll obsession of Charles Band gets off and running in this Band produced film, directed by the horror legend Stuart Gordon! Here it is what you’d expect from films released under the Empire brand but also directed by Gordon. We have great effects and some gore mixed on screen with a very comedic horror tale that in ways feels like a forerunner to such things like Goosebumps. I’m not saying this is a movie you’d want to show your five-year-old, but it is one that has that almost kid-like tone, with plenty of cool sprinkled on top. So, this is a rated R film that I’m not saying shows kids, but I’m sure they’d enjoy it if you did. The child actor here, Carrie Lorraine, adds a realistic style to her acting and she comes across as genuine and really does make the movie along with the dolls. Our comedic lead by default, Stephen Lee, who plays the role of Raplh, is fun and entertaining. Even if he might ham things up a bit too much from time to time.
The story is a simple one, but it is also effective. The father and stepmom are mean to this little girl, they get stranded at a house with other people, and Dolls start offing people, but there could be more to it. It is a fun story with fun characters and even if it does seem to take a few minutes to get off the ground, once we head into overdrive things never get dull. Then again, it is a bit of a short film, so sadly the fun is over before you know it. The key thing here are the dolls and we certainly do get plenty of them here, especially later on in the film. The effects might be dated, but they still look good and they even look good in 1080p. Most of what we see here does look great in 1080p. I won’t call it a perfect film or a perfect transfer, but the transfer is close to it with great details to be found and a color that adds to the mood of it all. The movie is really fun and kicks into high gear in the 3rd acting, making it a great and fun filled horror movie to see.
– NEW! Toys Of Terror: The Making Of Dolls – An All-New Retrospective Featuring Interviews With Director Stuart Gordon, Producer Brian Yuzna, Stars Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Ian Patrick Williams, Executive Producer Charles Band And More!
– Audio Commentary With Director Stuart Gordon And Writer Ed Naha
– Audio Commentary With Cast Members Stephen Lee, Ian Patrick Wiliams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon And Carrie Lorraine
– Storyboard-To-Film Comparison
– Theatrical Trailer
– Photo Gallery
Quality of Transfer: 95%
Prison (1988) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Renny Harlin
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Chelsea Field, Kane Hodder
After Charles Forsyth was sent to the electric chair for a crime he didn’t commit, he forever haunts the prison where he was executed. Flash forward several years when the prison is reopened, under the control of its new Warden Eaton Sharpe, a former security guard who framed Charlie. When prisoners are ordered to break down the wall to the execution room, they unknowingly release the angry spirit of Charles Forsyth, a powerful being distributing his murderous rage to all, leading up to the Warden himself.
If you’re looking for a film with some great horror cinematography and creepy visuals, Prison, does just that. This movie also sets forth a very mysterious story that leads us to believe that something else besides what we see is going on with the story and we have to watch and place some of the pieces of the overall puzzle together. It is also a well-acted film that gave us the idea that Viggo Mortensen would be a pretty big star years before he was ever in Lord of the Rings. Toss in some stunt coordination from Kane Hodder and you have pretty much a step by step of what you’d need to produce a good horror film in the 80s. But of course, this one seems to have been overlooked until now with this awesome release.
If there was an issue at all with this one it could be the idea that perhaps it could have stood to have lost a couple minutes here and there to tighten stuff up just a bit. But it also does make up for any such flaw by showing us some very creative and creepy effects that clearly opened the door for director, Renny Harlin, to go on and director a Nightmare on Elm Street film soon after. I know the idea of the suits behind this one to make Halloween inside a jail and sadly it doesn’t get to that level overall, but it is still very much worth a watch and shot near perfectly. The film looks great, it gives us some very awesome and spooky stuff to look at, and it keeps a mystery around it for the most part. It is hard to top that.
– Commentary by director Renny Harlin
– Hard Time: The Making of Prison Retrospective
– Poster and Still Gallery
– Original First-Draft Screenplay (PDF Format)
Quality of Transfer: 97%
Cellar Dweller (1988) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: John Carl Buechler
Starring: Yvonne De Carlo, Debrah Farentino, Brian Robbins
The promising career of a horror comic book artist ends in a fiery death when he confronts the bloody carnage of his own imagination in his studio. Years later, an ardent devotee of the artist’s work becomes a resident in his house, now an art academy, unaware that her imagination has revived the grotesque murderer of the past…and that she may be the next victim.
Cellar Dweller kicks off by telling us that the movie was mastered with what remaining materials they could find. This should let everyone know upfront that you won’t be getting a perfect 5 out of 5 HD transfer and that there are indeed some scenes where the blacks seem pretty lifeless, but that is more a tech report and that isn’t my field. What I can tell you about Cellar Dweller is that it makes for a really good time, especially if you love Empire Pictures and horror films from the 80s. The movie isn’t anything you could call perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a movie that will keep you entertained, especially with the idea of one Jeffery Combs opening the film by having things he draws, including our Cellar Dweller, coming alive and reeking havoc. I do wish we had more Combs, but that can be said for any movie he is in. He is a great actor and his small, but cool still, spot in this one doesn’t go ignored.
This is a movie that offers up some odd scenes that tip-toe the line of weird and art here and there. It seems almost like the movie has an Italian flavor to it, which does help. The movie also has a very awesome monster as well, which should go without saying. I think the plot was cool, but at the same time, I don’t think the movie uses the concept as fully as it could have. It is in that where the movie gets held back a bit and seems to lose any sizzle it needs to go along with the steak. It still makes for a fun watch and it is always good to see a movie in widescreen that was only in the ol’ 1:33 for its DVD spot in the previous released All Night Horror DVD that Scream released. Regardless of if the movie is perfect or not, or if the transfer is perfect or not, this is a major upgrade from that.
Quality of Transfer: 72%
Catacombs (1988) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: David Schmoeller
Starring: Timothy Van Patten, Ian Abercrombie, Jeremy West
For over 400 years, the curse of the Abbey at San Pietro was kept a secret. Buried deep beneath the monastery lies the Beast of the Apocalypse. The power of evil is unleashed when an American priest and a beautiful young schoolteacher uncover the unholy terror of a diabolical spell cast centuries ago. Now, it will take the ultimate sacrifice to stop the curse that will not be denied.
Speaking of Empire Pictures, here we have Catacombs! A movie where good vs evil and believe it or not, this was originally released as The Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice. I can’t say that it is my favorite horror film ever, but it looks like a lot of stuff you’d see from the camps of Full Moon later on, when the budget dropped, but that darn castle remained. I’m sure you know what I mean. Regardless, Catacombs is a movie some folks seem to love, but I’m not one of them. I think it is missing something. Maybe some spice or just some bells and whistles? Whatever it is, it holds me back from fully enjoying a film like this when I see it.
I’m afraid this is the one movie on the set that might work better as a cure for insomnia rather than a good horror movie. Spooky religious based doom and gloom is tossed at us, but it never does seem to capture our attention or give us anything good we hadn’t seen before. The doesn’t help us in the character department either, as we have nobody that is jumping off the screen enough to root for. The movie needs more everything and certainly more blood to really do anything for you. I liked this one the least out of the All Night Horror release and I really feel this is a spot on this double disc that could have been given to something else from the set.
Quality of Transfer: 88%
Ghost Town (1988) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Richard Governor
Starring: Franc Luz, Catherine Hickland, Jimmie F. Skaggs
Rated: R/Region A/1:78
A dusty ghost town, seemingly abandoned, holds the lives of its original inhabitants in an animated netherworld for 100 years…When a modern-day sheriff’s deputy is lured to a desolate, spooky ghost town in search of a missing woman, he comes face-to-face with a malevolent spirit from the town’s past. The spell of death and suffering over the undead townspeople must end to set them free from eternal pain. The horrors of a possessed outlaw, in a time-suspended dimension, are only the setting for a frightening battle for the mind, nerves, and flesh.
The legend of Ghost Town might be better than the actual movie if I am to be perfectly honest. Here we have a movie from the 80’s that never even got a basic DVD release before now getting a Blu-ray release from Scream Factory. That is a good reason to clear out all of those old convention bootlegs you might have, but the only downside here is while we are getting it in HD, there aren’t any extras, which is a bummer. This movie surely has an interesting story behind it, considering one director walked off set and it reuses a number of other scores already used in other films despite at one time have someone do a score for it (that was never used). I guess we’ll just have to let that stuff keep on being a mystery and just enjoy what we do have, which is finally an official release. And the movie isn’t at all awful. It packs some ghostly things, which is a given with the name. We start off seeing a nice looking lady pulled away into the desert by a smoke cloud of sorts, then a cop follows after and ends up in a wild west town with nothing but ghost, and one particularly evil mofo and his gang. As luck would have it, he’s apparently going to have to play sheriff. That is the basics of Ghost Town, a movie that gives us good effects, but maybe could have done more by the way of gore overall.
Our hero here might be a bit dry, but he isn’t the only thing dry about the movie. The charm of the thing is probably the ghosts and the effects we see here and there, like on the movie’s main bad guy and moments like when we see a skeleton raise up from the dead and do something that I found pretty cool. Like I said before, I think the reason this movie has gained so much attention over the years was more of an availability thing rather than a quality thing, but if you are like me and enjoy a good 80’s horror film, then you won’t at all go unsatisfied with what you ultimately end up with here. The story isn’t awful once you finally do figure out what is going on and I think the movie plays out pretty well all things considered for the time and the drama behind the scenes behind it. One thing is for sure, this release sure beats watching an old VHS rip on a DVDr. If you’ve been wanting to junk those old things for a solid release, you got your wish here from a transfer standpoint. Still, there is no extras, but at least we have the movie at long last.
Quality of Transfer: 89%
Robot Jox (1989) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Stuart Gordon
Starring: Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, Paul Koslo
Rated: PG/Region A/1:85
In a future world where war has been outlawed, international disputes are settled in a single winner-takes-all fight between two of the ultimate killing machines. Massive, menacing and made-to-destroy, these human-piloted combat ‘bots square off to determine global supremacy. But when tragedy strikes during a crucial battle and treacherous espionage raises the stakes, will veteran robowarrior Achilles walk away from the game for good… or take his revenge against his rival pilot, the homicidal Alexander?
Director Stuart Gordon has a way to present such an odd, but very intriguing universe in his films. So is the case here with Robot Jox. Which is a movie about soldiers (sorta) fighting for their country, sometimes to the death, in giant robots. Heck, we’re giant monsters away from Pacific Rim years before it was ever made. The movie has an awfully 80s vibe to it and due to how long it took the film to get finished, it still very much has that spirit of the 80s. I think that spirit makes the movie what it ultimately is, which is really cheesy, but very enjoyable. I don’t know if you can even admit that you actually like the characters the movie has, with the very gimmick driven “Tex” perhaps being the most charismatic and enjoyable while on-screen, but you will love every moment that consists of giant robots battling it out! The stuff in between that action is still interesting enough. We see people backstabbing, we see these robot battles being built up like prize fights, and we see some romance on top of all that. That isn’t the best part of the film, but given the material, you understand why it was tossed in for good measure.
This is the most expensive movie that Empire ever made. Of course, the company went under while this was filming, but you can see where the money went while you watch. There are some really cool looking effects and robots here. You get to see all the cool stuff clearly on display once the fighting is going down, and to the movie’s credit, the battles can be rather epic at times. Battles, might I add, that can go from ground to space in one of the more epic and epicly corny finales you’ve ever seen. And I say that with all the love in the world for it. I mean, it isn’t every day you see an American movie where giant things battle and they even battle on the planet and up above it. Stuart Gordon has done some really good things behind a camera and I hadn’t even seen this one until Scream Factory released it, but now I’m happy I have finally seen it, because it certainly packs the type of things you don’t see every day. It isn’t really a horror movie, it is just a really cool movie.
– Audio Commentary With Director Stuart Gordon
– Audio Commentary With Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Mechanical Effects Artist Mark Rappaport, And Stop-Motion Animator Paul Jessel
– Brand-New Interview With Actor Paul Koslo
– Archival Interviews With Director Stuart Gordon, Pyrotechnic Supervisor Joe Viskocil, Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Stop-Motion Animator Paul Jessel and Animation & Effects Artists Chris Endicott And Mark McGee
– Behind-The-Scenes Footage
– 2 Still Galleries