DVD Stalk: Top Ten Horror DVDs of 2006
10) Tromeo & Juliet: 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition (Troma) - Has it already been ten years since Troma unleashed one of their most popular classics to the gore-crazed masses? Well, hot damn, I guess it has been! What better time than now for Troma to release Tromeo and Juliet in a lavish 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition DVD set? Easily one of the best films Troma has ever produced, Tromeo and Juliet may not rank among the micro-budget studio's biggest fan-favorite, but it is certainly one of the most ambitious. Here's a bit of what Bill Gibron has to say about the film: "Tromeo and Juliet is arguably Troma's masterpiece, a film that truly represents everything the 30 year old independent production and distribution company stands for. More serious than the fabulous freak-out known as Terror Firmer, better conceived and constructed than the entire Toxic Avenger saga, this punk rock revamp of the classic Shakespeare story of star-crossed lovers gets good and tweaked by the Manhattan based masters of rudeness and bad taste. Yet instead of piling on the gore, or obsessing on silly toilet humor, Tromeo and Juliet uses sex, fetishism, kink and its own cruel crackpot logic to deliver a wholly satisfying and cinematically unique experience." High praise, indeed, for a Troma film. And if the film alone weren't enough to entice you to pick up this new version of Tromeo and Juliet, Troma has also provided more extra material than you'd probably ever need (or even want) on this disc. Bill Gibron even calls it "one of the best DVD presentations of 2006," and even proclaims that "Tromeo and Juliet easily earns the coveted DVD Talk Collector's Series designation, not just for its boffo bells and whistles, but for what an amazing piece of peculiar performance art this motion picture is." Now are you convinced?
9) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: The Gruesome Edition (MGM) - If you're a horror fan at all, chances are you know what a tremendous struggle it was to get The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 made. It was a full twelve years before Tobe Hooper finally decided to step behind the camera for the follow up to his groundbreaking 1974 film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And the time off sometimes shows in this second film in the series. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is clearly a very different film from the original TCM. Hooper opts less for in-your-face horror this time around and, instead, goes the route of other classic "second" films - most notably Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 and Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead - by infusing an infecting humor that just works to make the film slightly lighter and more playful. That's not to say that Hooper doesn't deliver the goods with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. There are enough moments of gory goodness to keep the hardcore horrorhounds happy without completely dominating the film. What TCM2 might best be remembered for, however, is its cast of characters. The film did, in fact, give us the legendary Bill Moseley character, Chop Top, and the Dennis Hopper character, Lieutenant "Lefty" Enright. Not to mention the fact that we get to hear Leatherface called by his affectionate nickname "Bubba." If that's not enough for all you horror fans, I don't know what is. Previously released by MGM in a bare bones DVD, Fox (who now distributes much of MGM's catalog) recently released The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: The Gruesome Edition. Not only does the film get a well-deserved technical rehaul, but the DVD also includes some really interesting extra material. This is a DVD upgrade no-brainer. Especially for the Leatherface fans out there.
8) Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition (Paramount) - I'll be completely honest in saying that there aren't a lot of movies that have truly out-and-out scared me. Sure, I've had my fair share of jump scares, breathless moments, and chills down my spine while watching horror flicks. But there are only a small handful of films that have really shaken me to the core. The Exorcist did it - at least the first time I saw it. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did it the first time as well; mostly for its ballsy relentlessness. And the third film that really gave me a bone-chilling fright will probably be a bit of a surprise to most horror fans as it's a film that often gets overlooked in the genre. Paul W.S. Anderson hasn't exactly become one of Hollywood's hot-button horror directors, but before he decided to direct some real garbage (e.g. Resident Evil and AVP: Alien vs. Predator) Anderson crafted one of the finest, creepiest, and downright scariest haunted pseudo-sci-fi flicks in a hell of a long time. Event Horizon might not be on the very top of your list of great fright flicks - it is, admittedly, often cheesy, stilted, and contrived - but what it lacks in nuance and technical wizardry, it makes up for in sheer horrifying imagery and tension. The first time I saw Event Horizon on the big screen, I can remember going home and not getting much sleep that night. (Mind you, I'm way too old to be losing sleep over a "scary movie.") There was just something about the idea of this spaceship traveling through space (straight into hell) that gave me a good old-fashioned case of the Heebie-Jeebies. The footage of the abandoned crew. The ghostly (and ghastly) hallucinations of the crew. And mostly Sam Neill hamming it up as the crazed Dr. Weir. It all just literally scared the hell out of me (pun completely intended). If you've never had the chance to check out Event Horizon, or decided to pass up the chance because you thought it was just another sci-fi flick, do yourself a favor and get a copy in your DVD player immediately. It's a creeptastic ride through hell and back that would make any horror film fan happy.
7) Cemetery Man (Anchor Bay) - Horror fans have waited so long to finally get their hands on a region one release of Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore), that we thought it was worth of not one, but two, separate reviews. Both Ian Jane and DVD Savant come away with pretty much the same conclusion; that this Italian horror film is easily worth adding to your collection. Sure, the visual presentation may not live up to that of the R2 PAL disc, but Anchor Bay has still done a excellent job of finally bringing this Michele Soavi zombie classic to domestic DVD. This certainly isn't the Rupert Everett folks here in the states are used to seeing, as he plays the groundskeeper who starts out trying to keep the dead from rising in his cemetery and soon finds himself falling in love. Not your typical zombie gorefest, Cemetery Man may be a bit twisted, but it's also a uniquely entertaining film. That, and the inclusion of an excellent half-hour making-of documentary, make this disc a must-own for any horror fan.
6) Masters of Horror series (Rather than choosing one, I thought this would be a bit more fair) (Anchor Bay) - It's starting to seem like just about every week we have a new Masters of Horror disc coming out on DVD. I'm certainly not complaining though, as the Showtime series has done a great job of reinvigorating the horror-television-serial format that thrived with shows like Tales from the Crypt, but had died down in recent years. This week, however, DVD Savant gets a chance to check out one of the most highly-acclaimed episodes of the series: Joe Dante's Homecoming. Infused with Dante's usual ability to fuse dark humor with social satire, Homecoming is easily the most ambitious (and probably the most accomplished) episode to come out of the Showtime series. Instead of going the simple route of many of the other episodes by focusing mostly on the gory and grotesque (and I certainly don't fault many of the episodes for going in that direction - they do what they do and they do it well), Dante's film carries a very strong political message about the current state of affairs in the United States and abroad. It's a message about military action, war, and foreign policy. It's a message about what it is to be corrupt and dead inside. And it's a message about angry dissent toward those very political viewpoints. Homecoming isn't just a zombie film; it's also (and probably more importantly) an accomplished black comedy that can easily stand side-by-side with any of Dante's other films. Not to mention, it's still a hell of a zombie film. This is easily the Masters of Horror disc that I've been most fervently anticipating and, just like the other releases in the series, Anchor Bay delivers with a fully packed DVD that will satisfy any dedicated horror fan. - Excerpt from DVD Savant's review of Masters of Horror: Homecoming.
5) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 2-Disc Ultimate Edition (Dark Sky Films) - One of (if not the) greatest horror films of all time got a tremendous DVD makeover from Dark Sky Films this past year. Their package truly earns the label "Ultimate Edition," as DVD Savant tells us in his review: "The film has been over-analyzed for decades, but the extra content addresses most of the key questions: Who made this picture? How horrible was the filming? Where did the idea come from?...Chainsaw can be distinguished from other horror films of the time. It's part of the sudden wave of commercial viability for independent horror that followed George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which was still a big draw five years after it first appeared. Kids would flock to see grisly midnight shows, especially ones bearing an aura of taboo transgression. The media was still dominated by fare like Family Affair, feel-happy pap that denied the reality of Vietnam. Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left is energized by rage against the complacent middle class, but outside a core of intensely sadistic scenes it's largely incompetent. Last House was a re-think of Bergman's violent art film The Virgin Spring and its follow-up The Hills Have Eyes affected a folk-fairy tale source, yet both were transparently commercial at heart. Then Halloween came along and reduced the scares to nothing more than teen ghost-story nothingness. We just accept Michael Myers and his imitators for what they are. Their traumatic back stories are irrelevant...The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is as commercial as any of its ilk but remains the superior production. The acting is faultless and Tobe Hooper's direction is frequently inspired. The slow approach to the horror house has a dread factor equal to Alfred Hitchcock's. The sense of dread grows with every reveal of new nasty little clues. Mobiles made of animal bones and a human tooth -- with flesh still on it -- leave us in no doubt that things are going to get ... intense...Dark Sky gives The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 2-Disc Ultimate Edition a classy treatment." This is easily one of the year's best discs.
4) The Hills Have Eyes (2006): Unrated (Fox) - What Alexandre Aja does so well in The Hills Have Eyes (2006) is take the base story that Craven laid out in his original, and expands that film's outlook. The young, French Director of Haute Tension gives his mutants a backstory and a reason for existing. He gives his film a gorgeous, expansive landscape that not only works to show the complete isolation of this unfortunate family, but also makes the entire situation appear incredibly claustrophobic. The Hills Have Eyes (2006) is a testament to Aja's ability to create tension out of very little, and the film manages to effectively probe into the depths of the human psyche. The people in this very unlucky family are pushed to their absolute breaking point and must decide whether to recoil in fear or stand up against the mutant cannibals. It's all about testing oneself against the most depraved threat out there, and Aja knows exactly how to make it an interesting, gore-soaked story. So much so that Ian Jane and I both took a look at Fox's The Hills Have Eyes: Unrated DVD and came to the same conclusion that its not only a excellent horror flick, but the disc also contains some great extra features. Well worth a spot this high in our year-end list.
3) A Nightmare on Elm Street: Infinifilm Special Edition (New Line) - With New Line's exhaustive, and incredibly impressive, Nightmare on Elm Street Collection still available, A Nightmare on Elm Street might be one of the very last titles you would think would need a DVD upgrade. New Line, however, disagreed and every single horror fan should be jumping for joy that they did. Their A Nightmare on Elm Street: Infinifilm Special Edition release is one DVD upgrade that every fan of the film absolutely needs to pick up (regardless of whether or not they already own the box set). There's not much I can say about the film itself that hasn't already been said, so I'll just let Ian tell you a little about this new version of the DVD: "New Line's previous DVD release of A Nightmare on Elm Street looked very good, but this newly re-mastered 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen infinifilm release looks even better...Is this release worth the double dip? If you're a fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the answer is a resounding yes. New Line has done a fantastic job re-mastering the audio and video for the film and even included the original sound mix as well. The extras are as complete as one could hope for (despite some lay out oddities) and not only plentiful but actually really interesting as well." There's no doubt this disc is a worthy addition to any horror film collection.
2) Black Christmas: Special Edition (Koch Vision) - With a Hollywood remake currently in theaters, horror fans everywhere had to know that we'd see a new DVD release of Bob Clark's original 1974 film. This time around, however, a revamped disc is a very welcome idea. You see, Black Christmas has found its way onto DVD a few times before, but those discs have always been strangely difficult to get a hold of. Fine discs, they were, but this widely released new version should make it much easier (and more enjoyable) to check out one of the classics of the horror-holiday genre. Here's what Bill has to say about the Special Edition release of Black Christmas: "Like the missing link between Michael Findlay's Flesh Trilogy and John Carpenter's iconic Halloween, Black Christmas is a brilliant little thriller with a defiant, disturbing tone. Complex in its approach but simple in its purpose, this superb scarefest takes chances with the genre that many fright fans might not be prepared to appreciate – at least, not at first. In the decades since Bob Clark's creative take on the systematic slaying of innocent victims at the hands of a crazed killer, lovers of splatter cinema expect certain stereotypical standards from their slaughter party – an easily identifiable and action figure oriented murderer; a group of drunk, doped up and dimwitted sex fiends just asking to be sliced and diced; ineffective cops who can't quite believe a homicidal fiend is on the loose; and an ending which wraps everything up in a decent, if derivative, flashback-filled denouement. Thankfully, Black Christmas avoids each and every one of these crucial clichés. This allows the film to function on its own, unhinged level of jaundiced genius, and instantly claim its place in the pantheon of classic horror efforts. Though its premise predates Jason, Michael and all things Freddy, it's hard to imagine that this film inspired anything but jealousy from those who would follow in its fascinating, fantastic footsteps...Anyone whose ever doubted Bob Clark's ability behind the camera need look no further than this expertly executed film to witness one stellar directing job. Attempting a novel POV presentation for the actions of the killer, as well as carefully controlled compositions that keep the atmosphere off putting and menacing, the man behind the lens lets his creepshow imagination run wild here, and the results are resplendent." Gibron couldn't have said it any better. Black Christmas is a fantastic fright flick that only gets better with time, and Koch Vision's latest DVD release is an excellent addition to any horror fan's collection.
1) The Descent: Original Unrated Cut (Lionsgate) - This frightening and claustrophobic film might just be the most finely crafted, and effective, horror film of the last ten years. The Descent is pure, unadulterated proof that Neil Marshall is a genius. He may have given us a really kick ass werewolf movie with Dog Soldiers, but he's crafted an instant horror classic with The Descent. I've personally been pimping this fright flick all year long because the movie is just that damn good. It's inventive and surprising and scary and about a million other superlatives I can't even begin to go into. It's just a great example of horror filmmaking and a real breath of fresh air for the American horror scene (even in the truncated form in which it hit U.S. theaters). Well, not to worry as Lionsgate has just released the film in its original, uncut form (for those horror fans without a region-free player, this is a Godsend). Here's a bit of what Bill Gibron has to say about the disc: "Beautifully photographed, loaded with iconic images, and blessed with a level of believability that barely ever ebbs, The Descent is a well made genre effort. Indeed, it is truly the reference-packed horror highlight reel its director Neil Marshall intended it to be. Paying homage to horror favorites, from Deliverance and Carrie to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining, the British filmmaker, equally famous for his werewolf riff Dog Soldiers, has crafted an original take on an old formula. Seasoned fear fans will recognize the old dark house motif rather easily, since the vast majority of the movie takes place in a labyrinthine set of caves as perfectly pitch black as a satanic mass. Add in some unspeakably nasty creatures, an overriding sense of foreboding, and some increasing bad blood between the characters, and you've got a recipe for a wonderfully evocative motion picture macabre. Oddly enough, it's an overall atmosphere and ambience that didn't come across in movie theaters. Since Marshall only ever meant to sketch out his adventure gals, the quick clip dimensions got lost in all the big screen expanses. Similarly, the director also wanted to push the limits of shadows. He purposefully made the movie as lightless as possible, hoping this would render the suspense more palatable. Unfortunately, the energy saving measures of some theaters rendered the scenes unwatchable. But on DVD, especially in a reconfigured print that has much of the arterial spray – and a major subplot – intact, The Descent finally delivers on all its pre-release publicity. With the subtlety of certain sequences reborn, and the geyser-like gush of blood filling many of the previous R-rated killings, Marshall's movie shifts from an exercise in dread to a fully realized gruefest. The Descent definitely deserves consideration as one of the genre's most compelling efforts. That's the power of the film. That's the power of DVD." I'm telling you - horror freak to horror freak - The Descent is my favorite film of 2006 and easily one of the best horror films of the last ten years. I said it before, and I'll say it again - this is a must see film for any discerning horror fan. And it was an easy choice for DVD Stalk's #1 Horror DVD of 2006.
-In Alphabetical Order-
Dust Devil: The Final Cut: Limited Collector's Edition (Subversive Cinema) - "Dust Devil is hard to define. It is not a pure horror film. It plays around in too many political and philosophical arenas to warrant a straight macabre delineation. Nor is it a standard suspense thriller. Writer/director Richard Stanley is too obsessed with the gorgeous vistas he's capturing onscreen to manage the undeniable dread inherent in the storyline. There are elements here that hearken back to other identifiable filmmakers like David Lynch, Ken Russell, and Terry Gilliam, and the South African setting gives the movie an almost alien, science fictional quality. And yet none of these labels fit this truly startling, sometimes underwhelming, cinematic experience. With rumors flying around about studio interference and massive editing, it may be hard to actually decipher what Stanley had in mind. What's on the screen is definitely engaging, but after a while, the bountiful bloom begins to fade from this often surrealistic rose. It's not that Dust Devil is a bad film, it just feels incomplete, and unable to truly recognize the elements it has going for it. As a result, it quickly gets lost in its own logic, and eventually the audience feels flummoxed and disconnected as well." Bill also goes on to say "...what we get is one of those frequently found forgotten films that some champion as lost classics while others simply discover the reasons behind their original disappearance. None of the actors are especially great - even the title terror, as essayed by Robert John Burke, is all glower and glamour shots - and Stanley spends an inordinately large amount of time in creating what amounts to a terrific travelogue. Somewhere, buried inside all the vast open highways, rough-hewed buildings and endless oceans of sand lies an intriguing exploration of one country's cruel legacy of hate and horror." So, really, this one's a tough film to recommend. It's not a particularly good film, but Subversive Cinema's 5-disc set is a great package. If you're a fan of Dust Devil, this is an absolute no-brainer; you definitely need to get your hands on this disc. If not, then you may want to give it a chance, just for the amount of insight that comes with the extra material on this disc.
Hostel: Unrated (Sony Pictures) - After Cabin Fever became a huge cult hit, horror fans everywhere wondered just what Eli Roth would think of next. All their questions were answered when the brutally nasty (in a very good way) and gritty exploitation horror, Hostel hit the big screen. Here's what Scott Weinberg says about the film: "Hostel is not a "boo!" sort of horror flick. It's not about stalkers in dark corners or monsters under the bed. It's about the evil that men often do, if not necessarily in real life, then certainly within really nasty horror flicks like Hostel. It's the kind of movie that leaves you walking out of the theater on a horror-high, but also quietly thrilled that you're still safe, sound, and presently flipping through a DVD's extra features on the comforts of your own couch. This is a grim, gory, and unapologetically grungy piece of "survival horror," and if the flick takes its good, sweet time getting to the meat of the matter, it's because Roth is having such a good time teasing you with the promise of inevitable unpleasantries...As he proved with his first effort writer/director Eli Roth has a real passion for fratboy humor and hardcore splatter, and Hostel balances both components quite effectively. While the movie's never fall-down funny or terrifyingly scary, Roth combines the ingredients with enough of a balance to keep you off-kilter. The film is made for people who like "extreme" horror, and while that's obviously not a guarantee that all gorehounds will dig the Hostel menu, I'm of the opinion that this flick is a whole lot better than most of what passes for "horror" these days. Frankly I'd take the last 40 minutes of Hostel over just about any genre film with a big-studio label on it, because, great movie or not, this scrappy little movie exhibits a real affection for the old-school grindhouse horror flicks." Hostel: Part II is already slated for release in the summer of 2007, so grab your favorite weapon of torture and start looking for victims. (Not really...DVD Stalk does not condone violence of any kind. Unless it's against Uwe Boll or people who make shitty remakes of our classics. Torture at your own risk. Have a nice day!)
I Was A Teenage Movie Maker: Don Glut's Amateur Movies (Cinema Epoch) - "More or less a video autobiography of one man's passion for making (and remaking) the genre films of his youth, I Was a Teenage Movie Maker is a sometimes crude but mostly beguiling and sometimes quite charming documentary not necessarily limited to like-minded amateur filmmakers and monster movie fans." So begins Stuart Galbraith IV's review of the lavish two-disc release of Donald F. Glut's amateur movies. I Was a Teenage Movie Maker is an absolutely exhaustive look at the man's career on the very far fringes of Hollywood. "Though I Was a Teenage Movie Maker includes interviews with people like Kleiser, Bob Burns, Bill Warren, and (a sadly frail) Forry Ackerman, about 95% of the show consists of Don himself looking straight into the camera talking about those formative years, intercut with lots of clips from the movies themselves. It's too long, the sound and lighting aren't so hot, and even Don's shirt has what looks like a big coffee stain on it, and yet, somehow, once you start watching you can't turn it off...That's because instead of coming off as insufferably egocentric, Don's kind of in an insulated world all his own." There aren't many people who could have come off quite as endearing as Glut, and I Was a Teenage Movie Maker is a testament to his absolute love for the horror (and, more specifically, classic monster) genre. It's a film that's well worth watching for any horror fan who has ever felt that twinge of love for this oft-maligned niche of cinema.
Magic (Dark Sky Films) - Anthony Hopkins (and one very deranged ventriloquist dummy) finally get a chance to shine on the DVD format. Dark Sky Films brings home a great presentation of a classic horror film, and one that rightly deserves a place on this list. Here's Stuart Galbraith IV's take on it: "Magic (1978) is an impressively intelligent adaptation of that generally disreputable sub-subgenre of horror movies centering on unbalanced ventriloquists and their domineering dummies...Magic's script is smart and adult, and director Richard Attenborough, cinematographer Victor J. Kemper, and composer Jerry Goldsmith especially (to say nothing of the cast) further embellish the picture with intelligent choices. William Goldman's novel told its story from Fats' point-of-view, an interesting conceit, but Goldman's script takes a much different approach. In the film, Fats is not presented as living creature, as is usually the case with such stories, but rather the means by which Corky has been able to function as a performer, a psychological crutch that eventually permeates his everyday existence. In other words, the dummy isn't alive - instead, Corky suffers from some kind of schizophrenia/multiple-personality disorder with this second personality manifesting itself through Fats. However, this splitting of personalities is so complete that onscreen it's all rather ambiguous. Fats seems alive to everyone around him, including Corky, even when the dummy is sitting shock-still in a chair...Magic achieves much more than its generally credited with and is a smart, subtle thriller."
Medium: The Complete First Season (Paramount) - Medium might not be straight horror, and it might not be a great series, but it has some incredibly effective elements which makes for highly entertaining (and often spooky) television. Patricia Arquette - who won an Emmy® for her work on the series - is excellent portraying the real-life medium Allison DuBois. She is amazingly grounded and down-to-earth in her role as the women who must handle the responsibility of being both a mother (and wife) and also the conduit for some really creepy dreams about dead people. What makes Arquette's performance (and the Allison DuBois character) even more realistic and impressive, however, are the supporting characters around her. The highly underrated Jake Weber plays her skeptical husband beautifully as a man who clearly loves his wife to death - even if he often has trouble believing everything that happens to her - and takes great care of their three children. Medium also features some of the best work Miguel Sandoval has ever done. Throw in some excellent writing, a few clever twist endings, and a well rounded DVD presentation and it becomes obvious that Medium: The Complete First Season is a no-brainer for anyone that enjoys quality television (especially of the creepy, supernatural variety).
Pulse (Kairo) (Magnolia Pictures) - "Long available as a Region 3 release, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 effort Kairo (roughly translated as Pulse, though a more literal translation might be "Circuit") has often been considered the film that fueled the worldwide popularity of J-Horror. While both Ju-On and Ringu predate it, Pulse (Kairo) presented the standard Asian obsession with death and ghosts in a greater, more philosophical manner, creating a film that was/is both terrifying and thought-provoking. After a brief theatrical run last year, Magnolia Pictures has finally decided to release a Region 1 DVD version of the title. While the tech specs may differ in significant (extras/audio) and minor (transfer) ways, the movie remains the same. Unlike the other examples of Japanese macabre listed before, Pulse (Kairo) is a masterpiece...With every other Japanese horror film utilizing the ghost to some simplistic, somber ends, Pulse (Kairo) comes as a necessary necromancer wake-up call. Unlike the standard haunted house stories of the genre, writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation) is out to make his phantoms as epic as possible. The scope of Pulse (Kairo) offers something deeply philosophical and aesthetically profound. Kurosawa doesn't want to just exploit the paranormal; he wants to give it a real basis in mysticism and the modern day tenets of technology. The result is something that transcends both concepts to create a kind of symbolic science fiction - a movie that moves beyond normal future shock into what Harlan Ellison would call the realm of the speculative...This is a great film, one that will live on longer than any crappy knee-jerk knock off. Do yourself a favor and experience the real thing. You won't be disappointed."
Slither (Universal) - The horror-comedy genre is a tough one to get right (and, believe me, many a film have failed miserably), but it seems that Troma-vet James Gunn has mostly made the right moves with his film. Here's a bit of what Randy has to say about Slither: "Boasting an assortment of tongue-in-cheek characters and an ample amount of disgustingly disturbing monsters, Slither should appeal to anyone who enjoys great green gobs of over-the-top schlock. It's not a perfect film, but it's still a lot of fun...With a well-rounded series of performances by the capable cast, Slither never manages to take itself too seriously. Nathan Fillion (Firefly) is perfectly cast as the laid-back, deadpan sheriff Bill Pardy, while Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) does a fantastic job as the meat-hungry Grant Grant. Supporting roles are filled nicely by Elizabeth Banks (The 40 Year-Old Virgin), Gregg Henry (United 93), Tania Saulnier (Caitlin's Way) and Gunn's wife, Jenna Fischer (The Office), creating a caricatured collection of citizens that never strays too far over the top. The small-town setting of Wheelsy, South Carolina also gives Slither an appropriately closed-off atmosphere that suits the story well." While the film's pacing could certainly use some tweaks, there's easily enough here to entertain any fan of the horror-comedy genre. In addition to the film itself, Universal has packed this disc with an assortment of quality extra material and, technically, does Slither complete justice. As Randy says, "Whether you're a die-hard follower of horror-comedy or a Firefly fan needing another Nathan Fillion fix, James Gunn's Slither is an entertaining film that doesn't take itself too seriously." In a time when way too many horror films (especially of the "indie" ilk) take themselves way too seriously, there's not much more a dedicated horror fan could ask for. Slither easily comes recommended.
Street Trash: Special 2-Disc Meltdown Edition (Synapse Films) - Synapse Films is right at the top of my list of kick-ass independent genre DVD labels. Don May, Jr. and his cohorts have consistently been releasing some of the coolest horror discs around over the past few years. Bill Gibron takes a look at their latest release, Street Trash: Two-Disc Meltdown Edition, and finds it to be "one of 2006's finest DVD packages, period." Finally giving the fans what they've been clamoring for, Synapse gives the film a very worthy DVD upgrade from last year's bare bones release. As for the film itself, here's what Gibron has to say about it: "Street Trash is a true post-modern macabre masterpiece. It is a ferocious freak show of a film, a mercilessly madcap revolting romp that incorporates almost every viable element from the entire 80s ideal of horror. There are nods to Vietnam, hilarious necrophilia, homages to the homeless issue, alcoholism, old-fashioned slapstick and oh-so sophisticated incredibly dark comedy. For gorehounds, it's a grand slam, a movie with effects so amazing that they haven't been topped in almost 20 years. For intellectuals there are obvious underpinnings of social disorder, the treatment of the mentally ill and inner city decay. From its outrageous opening setpiece (a man literally melts into a toilet) to the final act fireworks which features the most unbelievable decapitation ever, this is a triumph of independent low budget moviemaking, the kind of inventive insanity you rarely see in today's super serious DIY camcorder scene...[It's] surrealism made by horror nerds..." What more, really, could you ask for in a horror flick? By checking out Street Trash, you'll not only be getting a chance to see a neat, oddball horror flick, but you'll also be supporting one of the coolest DVD studios around.
Supernatural: The Complete First Season (Warner Bros.) - The now-defunct WB network (it's joined forces with UPN to form The CW Network) is probably one of the last places horror fans would expect to look for a cool, edgy horror-based series. Sure, it's the network that originally gave us the impeccably great Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, but that show (in addition to its overall kickassery) also had certain elements that could easily bring in the One Tree Hill-type demographic. Supernatural, however, may have two good-looking guys in the show's lead roles, but it's also a surprisingly dark, creepy, and haunting series about the nature of evil and its many incarnations. What makes Supernatural so entertaining (and interesting) is the fact that many of the stories are pulled straight from well-known horror legends. Not to mention the fact that Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki just seem to have a very natural, brotherly chemistry on screen that only helps bring a sense of realism and tension to the show that might have been lost on two different actors. Here's what John Sinnott has to say about Supernatural: Season 1: "[Supernatural] is a mix of The Fugitive and X-Files with just a dollop of Hardy Boys thrown in for good measure, and it works very well. There's a fair amount of continuity, mainly searching for the father and learning more about the brother's past and that keeps the show from being repetitive. It never feels like a 'monster of the week' type program. They aren't just using the same script every week and just changing the supernatural threat." While a lot of hardcore horror hounds may have missed Supernatural the first time around, I urge you to check out this DVD set. The series had an excellent debut run and is easily one of my favorites shows from last year. Supernatural: The Complete First Season packs all 22 episodes, along with some excellent extra material, and is certainly worth a spot on any horror fan's DVD shelf.
Wolf Creek: Unrated (Weinstein Company) - Here's what I said about Wolf Creek when it first hit theaters here in the U.S.: "Where Wolf Creek shines, however, is in its absolute relentlessness in achieving what it sets out to do. It may not actually fully achieve its goal, but the film makes some interesting choices that I didn't expect. When McLean finally decides to amp up the action, and we get down to the real meat of the story, John Jarratt takes center stage and creates a character that is going to be remembered in the horror genre for quite some time. Jarratt's Mick Taylor is such a despicable, grimy human being that watching him slice off a few fingers is nothing compared to his creation of a "head on a stick." It's a tough scene to watch, and one that will certainly make the gorehounds happy, but it does a lot for creating the only truly memorable character in the film. Wolf Creek treads on some familiar territory and Greg McLean probably leans a bit too heavily on his influences but it's worth watching for nothing more than the fact that it relentlessly pursues its subjects. Just when you think the horror is over, there's the creepy Aussie to put you through the paces again. The film fits fairly well into the exploitation genre and provides some truly tense moments, punctuated by a terrifically frightening performance by John Jarratt that is reminiscent of Rutger Hauer's work in The Hitcher. If you enjoyed Haute Tension, chances are there are things you'll find to like about Wolf Creek (that is, if you can get through the first hour or so without nodding off). The film's certainly not the second coming of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, like McLean might have you believe, but Wolf Creek is effective enough at times to warrant at least a rental when it makes its way to your local video store."
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