American Horror Project Vol. 2 (Blu-ray Review)

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American Horror Project Vol. 2 (Blu-ray Review)
RATED: PG & R/REGION A/1:85/1080P/NUMBER OF DISCS 1
AVAILABLE FROM Arrow Video

Dream No Evil (1970)
DIRECTED BY: John Hayes
STARRING: Edmond O’Brien, Brooke Mills, Marc Lawrence
RATED: PG/1:85

In the first film that kicks off Arrow’s 2nd Volume of it’s American Horror Project, we have a surrealistic horror setting, a young Preacher’s assistant goes mad and becomes lost in a fantasy of her own creation.

While director John Hayes was always playing around in genre films, this is a movie that apparently makes a case for his first straight-up horror film. This is a movie that you can call a bit trippy and seems to get a bit crazy and weird along the way. Maybe a bit too much, as it takes a bit of a narration to even be able to follow along with some of what is going on. Still, even with that being the case I can appreciate the mood and vibe of the movie in general, even if it does make a few misses along the way. This is basically the story of an orphan and a preacher and their adventure once they meet up. The movie has some cool stuff going but that narration I mentioned here does do a fine job of spoiling some stuff along the way that might have been a bit better left up in the air a bit. This movie isn’t as rare as some others in this set, but it makes the jump to Blu-ray looking better than anything else in the set. I would say the more availability of it might have helped a bit with that. All in all, this is an odd one but an interesting one. It would have been even more interesting without the semi-annoying voice over.

Extras

– Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
– Brand new audio commentary with Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
– Hollywood After Dark: The Early Films of John Hayes, 1959-1971 – brand new video essay by Stephen Thrower looking at Hayes’ filmography leading up to Dream No Evil
– Writer Chris Poggiali on the prodigious career of celebrated character actor Edmond O’Brien
– Excerpts from an audio interview with actress Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls) discussing her many cinematic collaborations with director John Hayes

QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 92%

Dark August (1976)
DIRECTED BY: Martin Goldman
STARRING: Kim Hunter, J.J. Barry, Carolyne Barry, Kate McKeown
RATED: PG/1:85

A young girl is accidentally run down by a car driven by a careless city slicker. This careless injustice provokes the girl’s grandfather into summoning his mystical powers and placing a death curse on the young man. Desperate to stave off the dire consequences of the hex, Barry seeks the counsel of a local psychic medium.

What we have here is what some are calling the rarest and most obscure movie in this set with Dark August. A movie I’ll at least give some credit to for the cool sounding name. Names and sometimes go a long way with horror flicks. This one is a supernatural movie and stars J.J. Barry and Carole Shelyne who just so happened to be really married in the movie. I personally think this adds a pretty nice element and chemistry to the movie. This one also involves kids being run over by mistake to which that leads to curses and black magic. In return, this leads to some magic from the other side of the tracks being used to try to combat the bad mojo. It’s actually a pretty fun time! There’s a lot of mood and atmosphere here and it might be a case of it having more of that than anything else. Still, the works really well for it and you will want to see just how it goes. All in all, this could be the best movie of the set but it’s another solid movie none the less in a set that packs solid stuff. This is one I feel works best late at night and if you can do that with it raining I think you’ll have the perfect mood for it.

Extras

– Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
– Brand new audio commentary with writer-director Martin Goldman
– Brand new on-camera interview with Martin Goldman
– Brand new on-camera interview with producer Marianne Kanter
– The Hills Are Alive: Dark August and Vermont Folk Horror – author and artist Stephen R. Bissette on Dark August and its context within the wider realm of genre filmmaking out of Vermont
– Original Press Book

QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 88%

The Child (1977)
DIRECTED BY: Robert Voskanian
STARRING: Laurel Barnett, Rosalie Cole, Frank Janson
RATED: R/1:85 & 1:37

A newly-hired housekeeper in a remote area is alarmed to discover that her boss’s eleven-year-old daughter is using her supernatural powers to take revenge on the people she holds responsible for her mother’s death, with the aid of her flesh-eating zombie ‘friends’…

The Baby is the movie of the set that will be the most appealing to the blood and gore fans out there. It’s probably the most brutal and as well as the most bloody. It might be these things that put it neck to neck with Dark August but for completely different reasons. This is a movie about a girl with some powers that she isn’t using for good and her friendship with a “zombie” or at least I think we can call it a zombie. None the less, it is a strange and weird movie that seems to be tossing a lot of stuff against the wall and a lot of it is sticking (for better or for worse). This one is a real midnight affair and sets a nice mood to go with the blood and tone. This one also comes in two different ratios, which both looking solid but nothing eye-popping or mind-blowing. But based on the history of this one I have no question that this one will be looking the best it will ever look. I think, all in all, this makes for an American Horror set from Arrow that easily tops the first volume.

Extras

– 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 presentations of the feature
– Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
– Brand new audio commentary with director Robert Voskanian and producer Robert Dadashian, moderated by Stephen Thrower
– Brand new on-camera interviews with Robert Voskanian and Robert Dadashian
– Original Theatrical Trailer
– Original Press Book

QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 85%

Other Extras

– Brand new 2K restorations from original film elements
– High Definition Blu-ray presentation
– Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
– English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil
– American Horror Project Journal Vol. II – limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films by Stephen R. Bissette, Travis Crawford and Amanda Reyes

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