Saturday, October 20, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: VAMPIRE COP (1990) from SRS Cinema - Oct. 20, 2018

VAMPIRE COP Blu-Ray
VAMPIRE COP
Starring Ed Cannon, Melissa Moore, Mal Arnold, Joey Thrower, Don Tilley, Morrow Faye
Screenplay by Donald Farmer
Cinematography by Glenn Kral
Edited by John Decker
Produced by Faye Chesney, Max Chesney, Donald Farmer
Directed by Donald Farmer
Originally released by Atlas Entertainment Corporation
Released by SRS Cinema

Welcome to Day 20 of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! If you're not familiar with the name Donald Farmer, well, you should. He's been making low budget horror movies for over 30 years and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the Shot-On-Video movement. His resume includes CANNIBAL HOOKERS, VICIOUS LIPS, RED LIPS, and CHAINSAW CHEERLEADERS for starters. I remember learning about Mr. Farmer back in the early 90's through my local mom & pop video store and magazines like Scream Queens Illustrated and Alternative Cinema. Now, I've come full circle again, as I watched VAMPIRE COP, one of his all-time classics from SRS Cinema!

The film's official synopsis: It's not easy being a cop. Especially when you're a VAMPIRE COP like Officer Lucas (Ed Cannon). But with the city in the grip of a psycho drug kingpin, it's time to pull out all the stops and TAKE A BITE OUT OF CRIME! But now beautiful reporter Melanie Roberts (Melissa Moore) is onto Lucas' little secret. Will she expose him. . . or help him crack the biggest crime caper since Al Capone? Soon the streets are running red with stone dead hookers and bone dry mobsters -all with two little bites on their neck. Will Melanie be next? Or is Lucas ready to make the ultimate vampire's sacrifice to save her.

The movie screams of early 1990, which was a fun year to watch low budget movies. And no one made them better (or worse depending on your criteria) than Donald Farmer. He tried to make a really good movie on the rediciously small budget, but it's the film's limitations that make it fun to watch. This is probably the only vampire movie I have seen that doesn't show hardly any bloodletting! But the opening theme song "" rocked my world back then and brought me back to my simplistic youthful days. It's a movie shot with basic set-ups, framing, and composition, nothing really splashy and overly artsy, it's just a simple B-movie that was there to be entertaining. And with Farmer, it's anything but boring.

Original VHS Cover (1991)
Our two main leads in the film are the vampire cop himself Lucas, played by Ed Cannon and his love interest female reporter Melanie Roberts, played by the beautiful, buxom, and breathtaking Melissa Moore. Born in Versailles, Kentucky, she was a staple in the realm of B-movies, action flicks, erotica, and horror films, and her resume includes some of the all-time greats from the VHS era: THE INVISIBLE MANIAC, CAGED FURY, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE II, HARD TO DIE, ANGELFIST, and STORMSWEPT were some of her movies that I used to rent. In this move, Moore bares it all, literally, as she acts her way through her investigation of the mysterious vampire cop. Moore is one of the unsung Scream Queens that I feel has been looked over and forgotten, and I hope this movie will remind fans of the genre how much she was a part of our lives during this time.

The movie was filmed in late 1989 and early 1990 and released on VHS by Atlas Entertainment Corporation the following year. Again, I remember renting this at my favorite local video store American Video Center. They had the best selection of B-movies, horror films, and cult classics in town! I watched and ungodly amount of movies from that place! I can't recall if it was ever released on DVD after that, but SRS Cinema has come to the rescue and has re-released the movie in a brand new director's cut! They released it DVD, but also on a limited edition professional run and silk-screened BD-R to only 100 units, and a limited edition VHS clam shell with only 30 units available.

VAMPIRE COP is a 90's B-movie, cult classic that you can definitely sink your teeth into this Halloween! It shows audiences why everything was so damn cool about that decade! Yup, the 90's did have some cheesy B-movies and this is one of the best! So I dare you to watch this movie and try not to have a good time! 3 1/2 out of 5 stars! Definitely worth a watch!


VAMPIRE COP is available in a Special Collector's Edition Blu-ray (BD-R), DVD, and a Limited Edition Clam Shell VHS from SRS Cinema. To purchase a copy for yourself and other titles, please visit their website at srscinemastore.com.

Thanks for watching, and enjoy the horror!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: HELL NIGHT (1981) from Scream Factory - October 19, 2018

HELL NIGHT Blu-Ray
HELL NIGHT
Starring Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton, Kevin Brophy, Jenny Neumann, Suki Goodwin, Jimmy Sturtevant
Screenplay by Randy Feldman (as Randolph Feldman)
Cinematography by Mac Ahlberg
Edited by Anthony DiMarco
Produced by Irwin Yablans, Bruce Cohn Curtis
Directed by Tom DeSimone (as Tom De Simone)
Originally released by Compass International Pictures
Released by Scream Factory

Hello again horror hounds and welcome to Day 19! Wow, the month's almost over already? Time does fly when you're having fun watching horror movies every single day! Speaking of horror movies, today's film is an oldie but a goodie. And the star of the film is none other than the legendary Linda Blair. Her resume includes both horror and cult classics like THE EXORCIST, SAVAGE STREETS and CHAINED HEAT. For today, I had the pleasure of watching a movie that's been long out-of-print. Now thanks to Scream Factory, her horror movie HELL NIGHT is now back and better than ever!

The film's official synopsis: As an initiation rite into Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity, four pledges must spend a night in Garth Manor, twelve years to the day after the previous resident murdered his entire family. Two of the pledges, Marti and Jeff ignore the rumors that the now-deserted mansion is haunted by a crazed killer, until one by one, members of their group mysteriously disappear. Could this be a part of a fraternity prank ... or is a demented former tenant seeking revenge? When this seemingly innocent night turns deadly, these college students will do anything to survive Hell Night.

I loved the opening of the movie. Director Tom DeSimone has a long unedited and uninterrupted shot of a major college party and it pans to the right and captures the spirit of this festive event. I sat there thinking to myself, "Dude, we didn't have college parties like that back in my day! Hey, that looks like a lot of fun! Was this happening back when I was in college? Man, those college girls were hot! Hey, I remember that brand of beer! I wonder if they still make it? Speaking of making, those two college kids are making out big time! Awwww.....I miss college." That's what I was thinking, but I digress.

Original Theatrical Poster (1981)
DeSimone builds up the story slowly, maybe a tad bit to slow for me, but when the scares gets going, the blood starts flowing. The storyline is pretty simple, but the production values look amazing, capturing the Hammer Horror Gothic look. He sets up the scares perfectly, as it builds and builds to one cool and painful looking climax in the third act. Credit also goes to screenwriter Randy Feldman for writing a fun and scary horror movie that looks and sounds authentic, meaning the characters are look and sound like young college students and not what a Hollywood executive thinks what they would look and sound like.

Linda Blair was one of the most beautiful actresses at this time. I had a bog crush on here when I saw her in ROLLER BOOGIE. She's so confident in her acting that you cannot look away from her when she's on the screen. Also appearing in the film is Vincent Van Patten as Seth, who you've seen in ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, PAYBACK, and on TV series like Baywatch and The Young and the Restless. Blair's love interest is Jeff is played by Peter Barton, who's titles include FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER and television shows like Burke's Law, Sunset Beach, and The Young and the Restless.

The movie was released to theaters on August 28, 1981 by Compass International Pictures, the same distributor that brought us HALLOWEEN, ROLLER BOOGIE (another Linda Blair Picture), FADE TO BLACK, and BLOOD BEACH (the company would close after this release and return four years later as Trancas International Films, an affiliate of Universal Studios and current copyright holders of the HALLOWEEN franchise). It would gross $2.3 million against its $1.4 million budget, so not too bad but not that great either. It was was released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment in 1982, then later on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 1999. In January of this year, Scream Factory released the film for the first time on Blu-ray in a Collector's Edition set (with DVD).

The Blu-Ray/DVD Combo comes with these excellent extras: New Interviews With Actors Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Vincent Van Patten, Suki Goodwin, Kevin Brophy, and Jenny Neumann, Audio Commentary With Linda Blair, Tom DeSimone, Irwin Yablans, And Bruce Cohn Curtis, and Original Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots. The following special features are only Blu-ray Disc Exclusive Bonus Features: Interview With Director Tom DeSimone, Interview With Producer Bruce Cohn Curtis, Interview With Writer Randolph Feldman, Anatomy Of The Death Scenes With Tom DeSimone, Randolph Feldman, Make-up Artist Pam Peitzman, Art Director Steven G. Legler, And Special Effects Artist John Eggett, On Location At The Kimberly Crest House With Tom DeSimone, Gothic Design In Hell Night With Steven G. Legler, Original Radio Spot, and Photo Gallery Featuring Rare, Never-before-seen Stills.

HELL NIGHT is a fun and overlooked 80's slasher movie that will please fans of both the genre and Linda Blair! While not quite on par as with the other films of this era, the fact that it's now available in a new 4K scan and completely restored, it means that horror hounds will be able to enjoy the movie all year round! So come out and take trip down to the old Garth Manor, and see if you can survive the night! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


HELL NIGHT is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo from Scream Factory. To purchase a copy, visit their website at www.shoutfactory.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: Phil sees HALLOWEEN at the Cinelux Almaden Cafe & Lounge - October 18, 2018

It's safe to say that John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic HALLOWEEN (which I saw last week) changed the landscape of cinema when it was released to theaters and remains a milestone in the gnere. It scared the hell out of audiences everywhere, spawned a franchise of films and merchandise, put Carpenter's name on the map, and ushered in the slasher genre that dominated theaters throughout the 1980's. Granted, several installments of the series were less than we were anticipating, and don't get me started on the whole Rob Zombie's reboot and sequel. Then on May 24, 2016, Blumhouse Productions and Miramax announced that they would be co-financing a brand new film for the series, and that Carpenter himself would be both producing and scoring the film! And that original star Jamie Lee Curtis would also be returning along with the original Shape Nick Castle! Boy, did that excite me! And now, 40 years later, I'm here at the Cinelux Almaden Cafe & Lounge to attend the special Thursday night screening of the latest chapter in the story of Micheal Myers, simply titled HALLOWEEN!

The film's official synopsis: Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Holy crap I loved the hell outta this movie!! This surpassed beyond my expectations! Jamie Lee Curtis returns to bring a new dimension to her iconic character Laurie Strode. Life has been hard on Laurie, and we learn the sacrifices, consequences, and loss that she has lived through these past 40 years. Her relationship with her estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer) is almost non-existent, but she tries to reach out to her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). But when Micheal Myers (the returning Nick Castle) returns to Haddonfield to finish what he started all those years ago, it's up to Laurie to save her family and to end the terror of The Bogeyman.

Curtis and Castle are not the only ones to return to the franchise. The series creator himself, John Carpenter, returned as not only as one of the executive producers, he also scored the film! And it sounded freaking awesome! His new take on the movie's theme was awesome and it just sounded like a Carpenter score! This elevates the movie to a higher level, and increases the intensity and dread in the final product. I was so happy to have the man himself back on board to help guide the film back to its roots, which leads me to my next topic.

I felt like the movie (and the series) returned back to its roots, and that's thanks in larger part to director David Gordon Green and screenwriters Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley. Together, the crafted a simple, yet very effective, tour de force that hasn't been seen in the series for a very long time.

Since this was a Thursday night screening, the audience that I saw it with were loud, rambunctious, rowdy, and vocal. This was the perfect way to see this movie! They were cheering, screaming, laughing, and we were all having a great time! This is why going to the cinemas and watching a movie with a group of like-minded strangers is so important! We get to share an experience together rather than watching a movie alone. Where's the fun in that? That's so damn boring! Watching a horror movie with this type of audience makes going to the theaters so damn fun!

HALLOWEEN is my pick for Best Horror Film of 2018!! This is the sequel that we have been waiting for for the last 40 years!! Everything in this movie was phenomenal!! The acting, the directing, the cinematography, the film's score, there wasn't anything wrong with the overall presentation! And the kills were graphic, gory, and gorgeous!! You need to experience this movie on the big screen!! So make plans with your friends and loved ones and celebrate October the way it was meant to be: by spending time with the return of Michael Myers!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


HALLOWEEN is playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Phil's Halloweeen Horror Watch: BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1984) from Vinegar Syndrome - October 17, 2018

BLOODSUCKER FROM OUTER SPACE Slipcover
BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE
Starring Thom Meyers, Laura Ellis, Robert Bradeen, Big John Brigham, Glen Coburn, Franny Coppenbarg, Dan Gallion
Screenplay by Glen Coburn
Cinematography by Chad D. Smith
Edited by Karen D. Latham
Produced by Rick Garlington, Garl Boyd Latham, Karen D. Latham, Larry McInerney
Directed by Glen Coburn
Originally released by Karl-Lorimar Home Video
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

Welcome back horror hounds to my annual Halloween Horror Watch! For Day 17, I decided to pull and oldie but goodie from that lovely decade called the 1980's. The movie was part of the straight-to-video trend that was becoming popular, since video stores were desperate to find product to put on their shelves. Shot on 16mm film stock in rural Texas, BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE is a bona fide cult classic that you have never heard of!

The film's official synopsis: A mysterious and invisible alien presence has landed in rural Texas and has started turning the nearby townspeople into white-faced, bloodthirsty killers. As the local authorities begin to investigate the strange and violent goings on, a photographer and his girlfriend find themselves trapped in the midst of an unexpected rural bloodbath, which seeks to turn them into another pair of bloodsuckers from outer space. A low budget, low rent horror comedy from writer/director Glen Coburn, BLOOD SUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE is a gory and silly slice of home made regional genre filmmaking.

This was one of the most goofy, silly, hilarious local indie horror films from the 80's that I have ever seen! It almost has a Troma-esque feel to it. What makes it so enjoyable to watch that it's such a low budget movie that the filmmakers didn't really take it all so seriously. However, the film was made with a lot skill and care: the sound was awesome, cinematography was nice looking, and the cast put on a great performance. But you can tell they were just having a ball making it! Like I've said previously, you can see the comradery and passion within each frame of the movie, and everybody involved was giving a 110%! This is a perfect snapshot of the local DIY indie film movement that was taking place in the country.

Original In-Store Poster (1984)
Writer/director  Glen Coburn was very fortunate to have such a talented crew to help bring his unique and quarky vision to fruition. His cast and crew made a film that has lasted for over 34 years, and the fact that it's still talked about to this day proves that they left their mark in cinema history. What I enjoyed was Corburn's script, which had a lot of funny one-liners, great comedy moments, and some clever fourth-wall breaking. Add the on-screen chemistry between Thom Meyers' character Jeff Rhodes and Laura Ellis' Julie, plus the rocking score by Emilie Aronson, Ann Armstrong and Steve Hughes and you have one radical movie!

The movie premiered in October of 1984 at the Joe Bob Briggs' Drive-In Movie Festival. It was reviewed by Travis Box of the Dallas Observer, calling it, "one of the best low budget films made in Texas." It was picked up by Karl-Lorimar Home Video and released on home video shortly soon after. In late 2008, the company Media Blasters released the movie on DVD to a new generation of fans. Then in 2018, Vinegar Syndrome re-released the movie in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo, newly scanned and restored in 2k from 16mm negative elements.

Since I'm a hardcore collector of physical media, I purchased my copy with the limited slipcover (which is now sold out but is still available in a regular edition). The combo set comes with some interesting special features: Commentary Track with writer/director Glen Coburn, actor Thom Meyers, and cinematographer Chad D. Smith, "34 Years Later" - A 50 minute 'making-of' documentary, " Back To Bloodsucker Town" - 15-minute featurette, "Bloody Arm Rip 101" - A how-to guide on recreating the special effect from the film, Stills Gallery: Featuring over 100 images from Glen's personal collection on the making of the film, and a reversible cover artwork.

BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE is a Grade-Z, horror comedy classic that has a lot of heart and soul, which makes up for the extremely low budget! The movie falls into the , "It's so bad it's good" category, but for other reasons! The cast and crew did the impossible and have left their mark in the annuals of horror film history! This was the over-the-top, cheesy, campy VHS rental of 1984, and now it's the must-own Blu-Ray of 2018!! 3 1/2 out of 5 stars! Definitely worth a watch!


BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at vinegarsyndrome.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: TERRIFIER (2017) from Dread Central Presents - October 16, 2018

TERRIFIER Blu-Ray
TERRIFIER
Starring David Howard Thornton, Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, Catherine Corcoran, Katie Maguire, Matt McAllister
Screenplay by Damien Leone
Cinematography by George Steuber
Edited by Damien Leone
Produced by Larry Bilello, Phil Falcone, Damien Leone, Joe Patrick Marshall, George Steuber, Adam Weber
Directed by Damien Leone
Released by Dread Central Presents

Hello everybody and welcome to Day 16 of my Halloween Horror Watch! So, there's a lot of people in the world who are deathly afraid of clowns. And to be honest, clowns are pretty damn creepy. Even though they're somewhat funny and are there for the kids, adults have grown to be scared of them, and rightly so. There have been some terrifying clowns in the horror genre, such as Pennywise from IT, the space clowns from KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, and Captain Spaulding from THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. Now you can add Art the Clown from TERRIFIER from Dread Central Presents to that lengthly list.

The film's official synopsis: Based on a character from the cult anthology, All Hallows Eve, the gory 80's slasher throwback takes place on Halloween night as the demented Art the Clown sets his sights on terrorizing two girls and anyone else that gets in his way.

After watching the film for the first time in the comfort of my home, I was thinking to myself, "What the fuck did I just watch?!?" Yeah, this is one fucked up horror movie!! It has that old school, 1970's grindhouse horror film aesthetic that the movie nails you to the back of the theater and doesn't let go till the end credits. It's also super nasty, meaning everything about it makes you feel dirty watching it. So afterwards, I took a very long shower! Then, I took another shower!

Credit goes to actor David Howard Thornton for his performance of Art the Clown, one of the most horrifying clowns I have ever seen in a horror film! Thorton was a trained mime and brings a lot of this experience to his character. He doesn't speak a word and he doesn't have to: his body language, his mannerism, his facial expressions, every little thing he does adds to mystic to his role as Art the Clown. If he doesn't get some kind award for his acting, then there is no justice in the world! He is that damn phenomenal!!

Original Theatrical Poster (2018)
Also contributing to Art's night of horrors are actresses Jenna Kanell and Catherine Corcoran as Tara and Dawn, respectively. As the first two female victims of the night, they are put through the ringer in terms of being attacked, tied to a chair, and hung upside down naked while being sawed in half while still alive!! Holy shit that was fucking sick looking!! Both Kanell and Corcoran are amazing in the film, as is Samantha Scaffidi, who plays Tara's sister Victoria. Scaffidi had the pleasure of being the only survivor of Art the Clown's reign of terror, but the aftermath has left he severely scared! Congratulations to these fine ladies for being part of the film!!

The movie was written, directed, and edited by Damien Leone, who also made the 2013 film ALL HALLOW'S EVE, which is where Art the Clown originated. Leone bring an intensity to his directing style: it's unflinching, in-your-face, uncompromising, and unrelenting! His camera does not shy away from the violence at all! We are forced to see everything, which will put off some but it's nonetheless effective storytelling. The story is also straight-forward, and doesn't offer much as for Art's motivation and why he does what he does. Truth be told, we don't really need to know this. Do we need to know why Michael Myers wanted to kill Laurie Strode? No we don't, so we don't need to know why he's killing all these people. He's just a fucking psychotic individual who kills people! Period! And I'm totally fine with this!

The film premiered at the Telluride Horror Show Film Festival in 2016, and then went on to play at the Horror Channel FrightFest. it was picked up for distribution by Dread Central Presents, an imprint of Epic Pictures specializing in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films. They released the movie in a limited theatrical release and also in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo pack. The film was also just added on Netflix back in September.

The Blu-Ray/DVD Combo come with some cool special features, including an Audio Commentary with writer/director Damien Leone and David H. Thorton (Art the Clown), Behind-The-Scenes Footage, Interview with Jenna Kanell, Deleted Scenes, Art the Clown Time Lapse Make-Up Video, Stills, both the Red-Band & Green-Band Trailers, English and Spanish subtitles and Collectible Reverse Cover Art.

TERRIFIER is one of the most shocking, grotesque and insane horror films of the past decade!! This movie is not for the faint at heart! If you like your horror movies outrageously batshit crazy and covered in blood and guts, this one was made for you! I fucking dare you to watch this movie alone in the dark this Halloween!! Just make sure Art the Clown isn't watching you!! Not since the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE has a film felt this visceral and disturbing!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!



TERRIFIER is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Dread Central Presents and Epic Picture. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit their website at epic-pictures.com. The film is also streaming to watch on Netflix. To start your subscription, visit their website at www.netflix.com.


Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE INITIATION (1984) from Arrow Video - October 15, 2018

THE INITIATION Blu-Ray
THE INITIATION
Starring Daphne Zuniga, Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, James Read, Marilyn Kagan, Robert Dowdell, Frances Peterson, Patti Heider
Screenplay by Charles Pratt Jr.
Cinematography by George Tirl
Edited by Ronald LaVine
Produced by Jock Gaynor, Bruce Lansbury, Scott Winant
Directed by Larry Stewart, Peter Crane (uncredited)
Originally released by New World Pictures
Released by Arrow Video

Welcome to Day 15 horror hounds! Today's film is an often overlooked and forgotten slasher from the mid 1980's. By this time, theaters were bombarded with slasher films. There were so many that it was almost impossible to keep up with them. One of these was released in 1984 and isn't discussed enough. Thanks to the kind folks over at Arrow Video, this terrible wrong has been justly righted and they have unleashed THE INITIATION to be enjoyed by the masses!

The film's official synopsis: HERE'S TO BEING YOUNG... STAYING YOUNG... AND DYING YOUNG. Marking TV star Daphne Zuniga s debut in a leading role, THE INITIATION ranks amongst the finest of the college-based stalk-and-slash flicks now finally restored in glorious High-Definition! Kelly s new sorority has a special initiation ritual in store for her an after-hours break-in of her father s department store. But what begins as a night of harmless college fun turns sour when, once inside the enormous mall, Kelly and her fellow pledges find themselves locked in for the night... with a deadly intruder stalking the corridors. Arriving in 1984, THE INITIATION might have been late to the slasher party, but, alongside the likes of THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW and THE MUTILATOR, it remains one of the stronger entries to emerge in the latter days of the slice-and-dice boom.

I've only seen clips of the movie, so watching it for the first time was highly entertaining, especially that twist ending! Boy, I didn't see that coming!! This was such a great horror movie, deserving praise of its blend of traditional slasher troupes and Freudian subplot involving Daphne Zuniga's character Kelly Fairchild. Zuniga was fantastic and she showed that she had the talent to go far in Hollywood, which she did in films like SPACEBALLS, THE SURE THING, GROSS ANATOMY and television shows like Melrose Place, Beautiful People, and One Tree Hill. Clu Gulager does what he does best: being Clu Gulager! Genre fans loved him RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE, and THE HIDDEN. Vera Miles, who plays Frances Fairchild, is a Hollywood legend. Her resume includes titles like THE SEARCHERS, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, PSYCHO and the 1983 sequel PSYCHO II.

Original Theatrical Poster (1984)
Director Peter Crane was on-hand to shoot the film, but after several days of shooting, the schedule had fallen behind and he was fired and replaced by Larry Stewart, who completed the rest of the film on time and on budget. This is the reason why there's two different and distinctive looks to the film. Stewart received credit for directing the movie, while Crane was never acknowledged.

Again, the film was released by New World Pictures on December 7, 1984. Unfortunately for the film, it was competing against Wes Craven's now classic A NIGHTMARE OF ELM STREET and we all know what happened next: Freddy dominated the boxoffice and the film faded from theaters in a matter of months. It was released on VHS by Thorn EMI in the mid-80's and eventually was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment 2002, then reissued again on DVD in 2011 by Image Entertainment's "Midnight Madness" Series, due to Anchor Bay letting the film's rights run out. In August 2016, Arrow Video announced that they would be restoring and releasing the film on Blu-Ray for the very first time.

The Blu-Ray comes some special features contents: Brand new restoration from original film elements, High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio, Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues, Brand new interview with actor Christopher Bradley, Brand new interview with actress Joy Jones, Original Theatrical Trailer, Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn, and a Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver (only for the First Pressings of the Blu-Ray).

THE INITIATION is a totally awesome 80's slasher flick that will make you scream with fright! It's a nasty horror film that's full of outrageous clothes, radical hairstyles, and plenty of bloodshed to satisfy every horror fanatics' wet dreams! It's a movie that should have been spotlighted more over the years, and now fans of the film can now watch it in the comfort of their living room! 4 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!


THE INITIATION is available on Blu-Ray from Arrow Video. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit the Diabolik DVD website at www.diabolikdvd.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 (2018) from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - October 14, 2018

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 Blu-Ray
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 (aka HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION)
Starring the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Chris Parnell, Chrissy Teigen
Screenplay by Michael McCullers, Genndy Tartakovsky (based on characters created by Todd Durham)
Edited by Joyce Arrastia
Produced by Michelle Murdocca, Carey A. Smith, Genevieve West
Directed bu Genndy Tartakovsky
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Welcome to spooky Day 13 of my Halloween Horror Watch! So for today, I decided to veer off from my normal criteria and watch something that was fun for my whole family. My kid is only six years old, but I'm trying to teach him about the classic horror films, more specifically the Universal Monster Films of the 1930's. In the modern age, these monsters have found a new lease on life in the form of the HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA franchise, which features characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolfman, etc. This past week, I picked up the latest installment of the franchise HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 for all of us to watch!

The film's official synopsis: Join your favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation adventure on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can finally take a break from handling everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It's smooth sailing for Drac's Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But they hit rocky waters when Mavis realizes that Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could sink their plans for a dream vacation.

The whole gang is back to voice these iconic and hilariously entertaining characters that I have been a fan of since I was a kid. Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, and Keegan-Michael Key all return to voice their respective characters that I've enjoyed from the past two movies, but this time we are introduced to a couple of newbies to the series. Funnyman Jim Gaffigan comes on board to voice Dracula's long time enemy Abraham Van Helsing. If you have ever caught his stand-up specials, then you know what to expect from the man! Joining him on his mission is is great-granddaughter Ericka Van Helsing, voiced by the extremely talented Kathryn Hahn, who can see in films like WE'RE THE MILLERS, AFTERNOON DELIGHT, BAD MOMS, and its sequel A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS. Also lending his voice is Chris Parnell from Saturday Night Live as Stan and the rest of the Fishmen. Parnell has also voiced several other characters in the previous films.

Original Theatrical Poster (2018)
The movie was released to theaters on July 13 of this year and it performed extremely well! The film's budget was a staggering $80 million (cause of the star power paychecks the studio had to pay) but is grossed a worldwide boxoffice total of $426,104,170!! So it's safe to say that we'll probably get more sequels later on down the road, especially since the film's ending was left wide open for more movies.

The Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack comes with a lot of special features for the kids to watch: Three All New Scary-Oke Sing Alongs: Sing along to three HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 inspired songs with your favorite characters: “Dennis Had a Giant Dog” – Sung by Dennis & Winnie, “Monsters Like to Party Down” – Sung by Johnny, “Oh These Wolf Pups” – Sung by Wanda Werewolf, Plan Your Own Spook-tacular Sleepover: This feature will give you all details on how to make your own sleepover spook-tacular! From snacks to crafts to games and more, follow these steps to create a Hotel T sleep-over with your friends and family, the perfect setting to binge watch all 3 Hotel Transylvania movies, Vampire Make Over: Mavis and Drac Tutorial: Learn how to turn yourself into your favorite HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 characters, Behind the Screams – The Voices of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: Step behind the "screams" with the returning stars and hilarious new cast to see how these characters are brought to life in the recording booth, Johnny’s Home Movies (Franchise Recap): Johnny brings viewers up to speed on what’s happened in the Hotel Transylvania franchise so far, “I See Love” Monster Dance Party Dance Along: Get up and get moving to this haunting monster mash, Drac’s Zing-tastic Read Along: It's storytime with your favorite characters have a silly tale about Drac's search for a Zing!, and Two Mini Movies: Puppy and Goodnight Mr. Foot.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 is a family fun movie that will make fans of the franchise laugh with joy while fans of classic horror monsters will get a kick out of the modern interpretations! There's also a message that everyone can relate to: Nothing's more important than your family! And you can Zing! more than once! If you don't get the last one, then you better get your kids to have you watch the two previous chapters of the series!! And what better way to spend the Halloween season with this monster-filled family fun film!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo and DVD + Digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. To purchase a copy for your family, visit your local retailer. The movie is also on VOD, iTunes and other streaming platforms.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: BONG OF THE LIVING DEAD (2017) from Scream Team Releasing - October 13, 2018

BONG OF THE LIVING DEAD Blu-Ray
BONG OF THE LIVING DEAD
Starring Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Daniel Alan Kiely, Laura E. Mock, Dan Nye, Cat Taylor, Sarah Starr
Screenplay by Max Groah, Tim Mayo
Cinematography by Justin Russell
Edited by Max Groah
Produced by Tiffany Arnold, Max Groah, Tim Mayo, Chris R. Mayo, Cynthia Mayo, Vincent J. Restivo
Directed by Max Groah
Released by Scream Team Releasing

Welcome folks to Day 13 of my Halloween Horror Watch! As you may have noticed, I am a big fan and supporter of the indie horror film community. There is so much activity happening now, and with technology readily available, friends and strangers are coming together to create new visions and new voices for the genre we love to death. And speaking about death, today's film comes courtesy of Scream Team Releasing and is a horror comedy that will make you feel high on life! And high of zombies too! So grab your special stash, pour your favorite bowl of cereal, and plunker down on your couch as I take you all on a stoner's nightmare come true with BONG OF THE LIVING DEAD!

The film's official synopsis: Hot off the film festival circuit and FINALLY available to enjoy from the comfort of your own couch, comes the multiple award winning stoner/zombie masterpiece from Backward Slate Productions...BONG OF THE LIVING DEAD!!! Its the story of five friends who share both a love of pot and a lifelong dream to see the zombie apocalypse become reality. But when the undead actually rise to gruesomely (and hilariously) eat the living, the group discovers it's not all corpse killing montages and mall raids ... and that their relationships will be pushed to the limit if they're going to survive.

The film is funny as hell but it also hits you in the feels, especially with its emotionally charged ending! Seriously, WTF  Max Groah! Dude, that ending was so damn emotional! I was having a blast with the film, and then that third act to a turn for the worse, meaning it got dark real fast! I was on the edge of my seat! I did not see that ending coming! Holy crap! You got me Max!! You got me good!! sniffle...what? No, I'm not crying.....sniffle sniffle......hang on a sec.......OK I'm back. I'm good, I'm good. So where was I? Oh yeah, my review of the film.

Original Festival Poster (2017)
The movie's five main leads are incredibly talented and they make it so much fun to watch! Tiffany Arnold, Eric Boso, Daniel Alan Kiely, Laura E. Mock, Dan Nye all deserve praise for their performances, especially Kiely as Hal. His scene at the end..man.....uh oh....the feels man, the feels...hang on a sec folks...sniffle.......OK I'm back. So yeah, way to go Daniel Alan Kiely! Good work man!!

The film played at several film festivals and won numerous awards. Some of the festivals it played at include Nevermore Film Festival, Nightmares Film Festival, Twisted Dreams Film Festival, Midwest Horror, Sci-Fi & Grindhouse Film Festival, and Days of the Dead Film Festival to name a few. Then filmmaker Justin M. Seaman (writer/director of the 2016 horror film THE BARN) approached them to have it released on his distribution label Scream Team Releasing and fans of the movie are so glad he did.

Scream Team Releasing has a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo that you can choose to have unsigned or signed by the cast and crew, plus it comes with a limited edition slipcover and a signed rolled poster! So obviously, I got the autographed edition. Both discs have a plethora of special features: Audio Commentary by Backward Slate Productions, 420 Friendly Commentary, Behind the Scenes & Bloopers, Deleted Scene, Smoke Pistola Grande Informercial, Stacey Seagull Big Workout, VHS Music Video, Zombie Killer, Swords and Bitches 3, Behind the Scenes, and Trailers.

BONG OF THE LIVING DEAD is a fan festival favorite, stoner cult classic of the year!! It's got Romero references, weed, flesh-eating zombies, weed, blood and gore, awesome special effects, weed, stoner jokes, nudity, weed and.....did I mention weed? So definitely check out this bad boy this Halloween season! And don't forget to bring your favorite baseball bat weed bat! Just in case you need to crush some zombie heads between tokes! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


BONG OF THE LIVING DEAD is available on a special collector's edition Blu-Ray/DVD Combo, both signed and unsigned by the cast and crew from Scream Team Releasing. To purchase a copy for yourself, please visit their website at screamteamreleasing.com.

Thanks for watching, and enjoy the horror!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT (2018) from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment - October 12, 2018

THE STRANGER: PREY AT NIGHT Blu-Ray
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT
Starring Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman, Damian Maffei, Emma Bellomy, Lea Enslin
Written by Bryan Bertino, Ben Ketai (based on characters by Bryan Bertino)
Cinematography by Ryan Samul
Edited by Martin Brinkler
Produced by Jalen Headchop, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Mark Lane, Robert Jones, Ryan Kavanaugh
Directed by Johannes Roberts
Released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Hello again folks and welcome to Day 12 of my Halloween Horror Watch! Are we having fun yet? Well, you should be! If not, maybe you should take a mini-vacation or get away for the weekend. However, you should be careful, because you never know who or whom you'll meet along the way. All this brings me to today's film. The follow up sequel to the 2008 classic, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT could be seen as a cautionary tale about heading out for a family vacations.

The film's official synopsis: A family's road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family's every limit as they struggle to survive.

Right from the beginning, the film has the aesthetic of a 70's horror film, right down to it's logo design. And I was digging it man! Over the duration of the movie, director Johannes Roberts keeps his eye of the prize; providing shocks, scares, suspense, and shenanigans to keep horror fans happy. Is it like the original in anyway? No, not really, While the first installment was extremely unnerving and highly suspenseful, the sequel knows exactly what it is, as that your straight forward slasher flick. And there's nothing wrong with that. His framing and compositions were great, there's plenty of chills and thrills, all the while entertaining we, the audience. If you don't believe me, go back and watch the the epic pool scene! So kudos to Mr. Roberts for doing his job correctly.

Original Theatrical Poster (2018)
Bailee Madison is stupendous as our young heroine Kinsey. Genre fan might recognize her as Sally from 2010's DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. However, she's more well know for her TV work like Wizards of Waverly Place, R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour, Trophy Wife, The Fosters, and Good Witch. Christina Hendricks (who plays the mom Cindy) is still known as Joan Harris from the hit AMC show Mad Men, but has been recently seen on Tin Star (Elizabeth Bradshaw) and Good Girls (Beth Boland). Kinsey's brother Luke is played by Lews Pullman, and yes, he is the son of Hollywood legend Bill Pullman. You can see him currently in the new film BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE along side Jeff Bridges and Chris Hemsworth.

The movie was released to theaters earlier this year, March 9th to be exact. It went on to debut to $10.4 million during its opening weekend and grossed $29.7 million at the boxoffice. Not too bad since it only cost $5 million to make it. It received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, but I feel like it didn't get the chance to really find its audience because it was only in theaters for maybe two months. This is what's wrong with the Hollywood system nowadays. Movies don't stay in theaters like they used to when I was younger. Movies would play for like a year, maybe two, in theaters before they would come out on home video. Now, it's about that all important opening weekend, and then we move on to the next hyped release.

I picked up the Unrated Blu-Ray edition that includes some cool special features: a digital copy of The Strangers: Prey at Night - Unrated Version (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details), Alternate Ending, "Prep for Night" Music Video - Director's Cut, "A Look Inside The Strangers: Prey at Night" feature, "Family Fights Back" feature, and "The Music of The Strangers: Prey at Night" feature.

THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is an intense  thrill ride of a slasher movie that's short on plot but makes up in sheer joy and enthusiasm! While not on par with the original, it does the job of checking off the boxes of what horror fans like! So don't really pay attention to all the negative reviews or press and go watch the movie yourself and make your own judgment! I liked it and I wish I saw it on the big screen when it came out earlier this year! Why you ask? Because it's a fun horror movie! That's why! 4 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!! 


THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit your local retailer or on VOD, iTunes, and Digital Download.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: TRUTH OR DARE (1986) from SRS Cinema - Oct. 11, 2018

TRUTH OR DARE Limited Blu-Ray
TRUTH OR DARE (aka TRUTH OR DARE?: A CRITICAL MADNESS)
Starring John Brace, Mary Fanaro, Bruce Gold , Joel D. Wynkoop, Terence Andreucci, Raymond Carbone, Rick Paige
Written by Tim Ritter
Cinematography by Ned Miller, Christopher M. Burritt
Edited by Jack Behrend
Produced by Yale Wilson
Directed by Tim Ritter
Originally released by Peerless Home Video
Released by SRS Cinema

Welcome horror hounds to Day 11 of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! For today's viewing, I went back to the year 1986 to watch a notorious, low budget, slasher horror film that's a great example of the DIY movement that was happening within the genre. Regular people were going out making their own movie, and with the video market still booming, it was easier to get your movie on the shelf right next to that Hollywood blockbuster. And you could make some decent money from the sales. But this film is really gory, really violent, psychologically twisted and it's awesome indie filmmaking! May I present to you the horror film TRUTH OR DARE from SRS Cinema!

The film's official synopsis: When an already unbalanced Mike Strauber catches his wife Sharon in bed with his best friend, the result is a rapid descent into insanity. Mike's revenge is masked in the form of the seemingly innocent child's game "Truth or Dare", but playing his demented and twisted version results in a bloodbath the likes that has never been seen before... with a trail of victims leading right back to his wife! This all-time horror classic from 1986 includes a special performance from a young AJ McLean of The Backstreet Boys.

Based on his short "Truth or Dare?" from 1985 anthology film TWISTED ILLUSIONS, filmmaker Tim Ritter was only seventeen when he sold film's script and eighteen when production began! Are you kidding me? When I was eighteen, I was collecting comic books, chasing girls, and watching my B-movies and horror flicks on USA Up All Night! And here's this kid, who's only six years older than me, who's making movies in his community. Ritter shot the film on 16mm for $200,000, and had it released directly to the home video market, courtesy of Peerless Home Video.

Original In-Store Promotional Poster (1986)
The movie is a bit amateurish, but it's really amazing. Ritter opens the film with some intense psychological damage right out of the gate. As the story progresses, the film takes a sharp right turn onto slasher territory, and that's when it starts to get fun! The gore comes fast a plenty, and there are some shocking deaths that are extremely taboo, so taboo that we don't see these in modern horror films. The movie showcases the potential that Ritter had even back then, and it's interesting to see where he started and how he's grown as a filmmaker. Some of the films he would make for the horror genre like DAY OF THE REAPER (his directorial debut), KILLING SPREE, CREEP, and has contributed to anthologies like TWISTED ILLUSIONS 2, HI-8 (HORROR INDEPENDENT 8), and HI-DEATH.

The movie spawned four sequels: 1994's WICKED GAMES, 1998's SCREAMING FOR SANITY: TRUTH OR DARE 3, 2011's DEADLY DARES: TRUTH OR DARE IV, and 2018's I DARES YOU! TRUTH OF DARE 5. Ritter wrote and directed all three films (he co-directed part 5 with Scott Tepperman) for the direct-to-video market. SRS Cinema has remastered and released the original the fourth film on special limited edition Blu-ray, DVD, and VHS.

Of course, I purchased the Special Collector's Edition Blu-ray, cause that's how I roll. The special features include Director's Commentary, "30 Years of the Game" montage, Trailers for all Five Films, and a crap ton of Trailers: HOUSE SHARK, SHE KILLS, KILLING SPREE, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE, EMPIRE STATE OF THE DEAD, GORGASM, GOROTICA, GORE WHORE, SPACE PSYCHOS, DEAD SILENCE, EASTER BUNNY BLOODBATH, LIGHTS CAMERA BLOOD!, TEENAGE SLUMBER PARTY NIGHTMARE, DEATH REEL, CHANNEL 13, THE HALLUCINATIONS/LETHAL NIGHTMARES DOUBLE FEATURE, DONALD FARMER COLLECTION VOL. 1, MASSAGE PARLOR OF DEATH, and KNIGHTMARE. *whew*

TRUTH OR DARE is an 80's horror slasher sick flick that will gross you out and scare you to death! It's proof that you don't need a major studio, big name stars, or a lot of money! If you have an idea for a horror movie, then go out and make it! Ritter and his film are testimonial of this mindset. With Halloween nearly upon us, why watch this slasher classic with that special someone? Just make sure they're not a deranged psychological killer!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


TRUTH OF DARE is available in a Special Collector's Edition Blu-ray (BD-R) from SRS Cinema. To purchase a copy for yourself and other titles, please visit their website at srscinemastore.com.

Thanks for watching, and enjoy the horror!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: Phil sees the 40th Anniversary Screening of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN at the Cinemark Century Oakridge 20 - October 10, 2018

Welcome to Day Ten of my Halloween Horror Watch! In 1978, writer/director John Carpenter and co-screenwriter Debra Hill unleashed one of the most terrifying horror films ever to theaters. Their $250,000 film would end up grossing more than $70 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable indie films of all time. The movie became so popular, it ushered in the Slasher genre of the 1980's, garnered a legion of fans, and spawned a successful film franchise that includes seven sequels, and remake and sequel, with a new installment set to be released in a couple of weeks! And to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film's release, CineLife Entertainment is teaming up with Carpenter to bring HALLOWEEN back to theaters this October!

The film's official synopsis: On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was sentenced and locked away for fifteen years. But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith’s Grove. He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.

This is one of my all-time favorite horror films ever. The movie helped establish the "rules" for the slasher genre that would come charging in with the release of FRIDAY THE 13th just two years later. The film launched Jamie Lee Curtis' film career, and Carpenter became a legendary director within the horror genre.

The film has been discussed, written, dissected, reassembled, and worshiped since its release on October 25, 1978. There is nothing I can say about the film that hasn't already been said. The film can be classified as a "perfect" film. With Carpenter's beautiful directing, Curtis' down to earth performance, and thanks to Carpenter's simplistic soundtrack, there isn't one flaw to be found within the movie. If by chance you have never seen the film, you really need to see it! In fact, it is against the law to live your life without seeing this movie!

The movie has been released in various formats over the years. It was originally released on VHS by Media Entertainment, then by Anchor Bay Entertainment in a variety of ways and formats, including special edition VHS boxsets, DVD, and Blu-Ray. Just recently,  Lionsgate Home Entertainment released the movie in a Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray edition for the film's 40th anniversary.

HALLOWEEN is one of the greatest horror films of all time! Period! There is no discussion, no debate, and no questioning about it's place in not only horror film history, but in cinema history! The landscape of the horror genre wouldn't look the same without this film! It is required viewing, no matter what time it is within the calendar year! And with it available to watch on Blu-Ray, DVD, local television stations, VOD and various streaming platforms, there is no reason as to why you haven't watched it yet. This October, make a date with Michael Myers, and don't forget to hide your knives. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


HALLOWEEN is playing in select theaters nationwide this October, courtesy of CineLife Entertainment. To see if it's playing in a town and theater near you, please visit their website at www.cinelifeentertainment.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES (1988) from Arrow Video - October 9, 2018

RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES Blu-Ray
RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES
Starring Anthony Starke, George Clooney, Karen M. Waldron (as Karen Mistal), John Astin, Steve Lundquist, Costa Dillon, J. Stephen Peace
Written by John De Bello, Stephen Andrich, Costa Dillon, J. Stephen Peace
Cinematography by Victor Lou, Stephen Kent Welch
Edited by John De Bello, Stephen Andrich
Produced by Lowell D. Blank, J. Stephen Peace
Directed by John De Bello
Originally released by New World Pictures
Released by Arrow Video

Welcome back to another thrilling installment of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! After watching yesterday's mean and nasty film THE UNSEEN, I wanted to watch a more light hearted horror film. A horror comedy, maybe? Yes! So for Day Nine, I decided to watch the hilariously brilliant horror comedy that's a sequel to one of the greatest cult classics of all time! And it only took 10 years to finally getting around to making it! Go figure? Anyway, I went back to 1988 and watched my favorite entry of this legendary series entitled RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!

The film's official synopsis: The killer tomatoes are back! But this time around, they’re going to have to contend with late ’80s George Clooney and his wicked mullet… Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Nope, it’s RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES! Ten years on from the Great Tomato War, mankind lives in fear of another uprising by the waxy red menace. Meanwhile, Professor Gangreen – played with gusto by the great John Astin from TV’s The Addams Family – sets out to pursue his own evil ends by creating a burgeoning army of tomato militia men (who, somewhat conveniently, look just like regular men).

This movie is a laugh riot! In the same vein as AIRPLANE and THE NAKED GUN, the film is chock full of random humor, over-the-top cheesy acting, hilarious fourth wall breaking, brilliant self awareness, and the ridiculously humorous product placement running gag!! John De Bello, Stephen Andrich, Costa Dillon, J. Stephen Peace deserve eminence praise for making such a clever and hysterically batshit crazy movie that still speaks to my inner thirteen year old! The jokes still hold up, the cinematography looks even better than ever, and it's just a silly, funny, and entertaining film!

Original Theatrical Poster (1988)
The actors are all amazing! Anthony Starke's crazy and frantic Chad Finletter plays off well with the George Clooney's straight and suave ladies man Matt Stevens. Iconic actor John Astin's performance as Professor Gangreen is what a scientific madman should look and act like! And then there's the girl of my dreams: Karen Mistal. Good lord did I have a mad crush on this woman! She starred in another cult classic called CANNIBAL WOMEN IN THE AVOCADO JUNGLE OF DEATH and appeared in a number of television shows like The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Coach, Baywatch, and Men Behaving Badly. Her last credit was on an episode of Dragnet as the character Laura Canrinus. Now known as Karen M. Waldron, she's co-produced the TV movies At the Hands of Another, Inside the Circle, The Note and the TV series The Clinic.

The film was released to theaters by New World Pictures on April 22, 1988. The company was actually founded by the legendary Roger Corman back in 1970 and was sold in 1983. The film grossed $5 million at the boxoffice. This fan found it at his local video store and rented it repeatedly until I bought it. Anchor Bay Entertainment released the movie on DVD several times before Arrow Video gained the rights and released it in June of 2016 on a High Definition Blu-ray.

The Blu-Ray comes with some cool special features: Brand new audio commentary with writer-director John De Bello, Brand new interview with star Anthony Starke, Original Theatrical Trailer, Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin, and a Fully-illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver.

RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES is a horror comedy cult classic that will tickle your funny bone till milk come out of your nose!! It's far and away superior than the original, and it has the beautiful Karen Mistal and George Clooney and his wicked mullet!! Oh, and it's freaking funny too! So grab some friends and make it a night-in as you all watch this totally hysterical and wickedly smart film!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES is available on Blu-Ray from Arrow Video. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit the Diabolik DVD website at www.diabolikdvd.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE UNSEEN (1980) from Scorpion Releasing - October 8, 2018

THE UNSEEN Blu-Ray
THE UNSEEN
Starring Barbara Bach, Karen Lamm, Lois Young, Sydney Lassick,  Stephen Furst, Douglas Barr, Lelia Goldoni
Written by Danny Steinmann (as Peter Foleg)
(Based on a story by Danny Steinmann (as Peter Foleg), Thomas R. Burman (as Tom Burman), and Stan Winston
Cinematography by Roberto A. Quezada
Edited by Jonathon Braun
Produced by Don Behrns, Howard Goldfarb, Anthony B. Unger
Directed by Danny Steinmann (as Peter Foleg)
Originally released by World Northal
Released by Scorpion Releasing

Welcome to Day Eight of my Halloween Horror Watch! Once again, I traveled back to the 1980's for today's fright flick. And it's a nasty one folks! I mean, it's not your usual fun-filled, goofy, tongue-in-cheek 80's horror movie. It's quite the opposite. It's got this 70's grindhouse element and feel to it. Now, it's been a while since I've watched this movie, and when it was re-released on Blu-Ray, I had to pick up a copy for my collection. So let's get settled in as I review THE UNSEEN from Scorpion Releasing.

The film's official synopsis: A TV reporter and two friends head to Solvang, California to cover a Danish festival. When a mix-up at the hotel leaves them stranded without rooms, the girls accept the invitation of a friendly museum owner to board at his farmhouse. But what the women don't know is that something is living in the basement of that farmhouse. Something unspeakable. And their stay soon becomes a horrific nightmare when they encounter the "unseen."

The was directed by Danny Steinmann, better known to genre fans as Peter Foleg. He would go on to direct other films like SAVAGE STREETS and the controversial FRIDAY THE 13th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING. He also wrote the screenplay for the film, which was based on a story he wrote with Thomas R. Burman and Stan Winston, Yes, the Stan Winston! The man who would go on to become one of the greatest special effects artists of all time! He was also one of the founders of visual effects companies Digital Domain, Stan Winston Digital and Stan Winston studios. You can see his genius at work in the films THE TERMINATOR, PREDATOR, ALIENS, JURASSIC PARK, and his 1989 directorial debut PUMPKINHEAD.

Original Theatrical Poster (19
The film stars the beautiful and talented Barbara Bach as Jennifer Fast. Her resume includes THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, SCREAMERS, UP THE ACADEMY and CAVEMAN. She is amazing in the film and carries it all to its crazy and pulse pounding conclusion. Our antagonist Ernest Keller is played by character actor Sydney Lassick, who is just creepy, disturbing and sleazy! Karen Lam, who plays Karen Fast, is killed in a most horrifyingly way ever captured on celluloid. Her death scene is just fucking scary ass shit! And it's because of her acting ability that that scene transcends it to a higher level! And I cannot forget Lelia Goldoni as the timid but brave wife Virginia Keller. Goldoni has some very impressive titles attached to her name. She was in John Cassavetes' 1958 arthouse film SHADOWS, Martin Scorsese's 1974 ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, John Schlesinger' 1975 THE DAY OF THE LOCUST, Philip Kaufman's 1978 INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and 2012's THE DEVIL INSIDE. Her next film project (the ironically titled) THE NEXT CASSAVETES is currently in post-production.

World Northal released the film to theaters in the states in September of 1981. It would later be released on VHS, were horror fans discovered it. In 2001, it was released on DVD by Prism, then by Digital Entertainment the following year. It was later released as a two-disk DVD by Code Red in 2008, then finally arriving on Blu-Ray by Scorpion Releasing in a brand new 2K scan of the original negative.

The disc comes loaded with Special Features, including "Watch in Katarina's Nightmare Theatre" mode (hosted by actress Katarina Waters, but wrestling fans will know her from Impact Wrestling and on Women of Wrestling as The Temptress), New interview with editor Jon Braun, Interview with producer Tony Unger, Audio commentary with Tony Unger and actor Stephen Furst, Interviews with Stephen Furst, Doug Barr, Craig Reardon and Tom Burman, Makeup tests, sketches and behind the scenes still gallery from makeup effects artist Craig Reardon, Theatrical Trailer, Reversible Cover and comes in a Limited Edition Slipcover while supplies last.

THE UNSEEN is a mean spirited, down and dirty horror movie that you'll want to take a shower after watching! It's an atrocious abomination that will disgust you until you puke your guts out! So watch with Grandma and freak her the hell out!! There's nothing better than watching a horror movie than with a loved one!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


THE UNSEEN is currently available on Blu-Ray with a Limited Edition Slipcover and DVD from Scorpion Releasing. To purchase a copy, visit their website at roninflix.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND (1989) from Scream Factory - October 7, 2018

SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND Blu-Ray
SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND
Starring Pamela Springsteen, Michael J. Pollard, Tracy Griffith, Mark Oliver, Haynes Brooke, Jill Terashita
Written by Fritz Gordon (based on an original idea by Robert Hiltzik)
Cinematography by Bill Mills
Edited by John David Allen
Produced by Stan Wakefield, Michael A. Simpson, Jerry Silva, Robert F. Phillips
Directed by Michael A. Simpson
Originally released by Nelson Entertainment
Released by Scream Factory

Hello again and welcome to Day Seven of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! Yesterday after watching SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (if you haven't read my review of the movie yet, shame on you), I decided to watch the follow-up sequel this morning. Nothing like the smell of the open air, birds singing in the trees, and people screaming as they're being killed off. Man, I love camping! So grab you sleeping bags, start eating your S'mores, and gather around the campfire as I tell you all the tale of SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND!

The film's official synopsis: Welcome to Camp New Horizons, where an autumn retreat brings together a group of obnoxious rich kids and surly city thugs for an "experiment in sharing." Under new inept management, this is the ideal setting for notorious psychopath Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen, SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS) to join the camp and do what she does best – eliminating "immoral" teenagers with everything from a knife to a lawnmower. Michael J. Pollard (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, BONNIE & CLYDE), Tracy Griffith (FEAR CITY, THE FIRST POWER) and Jill Terashita (NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) co-star in this third installment of the cult series.

After filming wrapped on SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS, director Michael A. Simpson and his crew had only one weekend off before they had to start filming this movie! Believe it or not, they shot both films in just six weeks! What I really loved about the movie was that all the killings took place in the daytime. As a result, you could really see all the practical special effects and they weren't hidden in the shadows of the night. Of course, this didn't please the MPAA, who forced the filmmakers to heavily edited out the gore and bloodshed. This watered down the payoffs and disappointed fans who later learn about what was happening behind the scenes. But the film is still beautifully shot, the cast and crew were amazing, and it looked everyone was having making the movie! Like the last movie, there's a certain level of energy and comradery that can be seen thought the two films, and you can still see it 30 years later.

Original In-Store Promotional Poster (1989)
What I love about the movie was the moving performance of its lead actress Pamela Springsteen. She gives Angela a healthy dose of dark humor like in the last sequel, but here, she really does shine bright. There's one particular scene in the film that really movies me. It's a nice crane shot panning from the sky and moves over the exterior of the mess hall building and we see Angela dragging a big trash bag. She enters through the kitchen as she makes her way into the dining area. She stops and reminisces about being the counselor there, winning the counselor of the month, and receiving a blue ribbon and leads her friends into the song, "I'm a Happy Camper." She looks happy for a moment, then her expression turns to sadness and depression. I found myself totally relating to her. I'm 45 years old, and when I watch this film, and this scene, I find myself drifting back to the past, to when I was a teenager and watching this movie. I remember the house my family and I were living in, I remember being a freshman in high school, the season, the smell from outside, I remember it all. Springsteen really shows off her range as an actress in this scene, and to this day still moves me.

Like the previous installment, the film received a limited theatrical release on August 4, 1989 before being released on VHS by Nelson Entertainment in December that same year. In 2002, Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film on DVD as a stand alone and as part of their SLEEPAWAY CAMP SURVIVAL KIT Boxset. Then on June 9, 2015, Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) released a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Collector's Edition of the movie.

Special features on the discs include Audio Commentary with Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon, "A Tale of Two Sequels" – Part Two featuring new interviews with director Michael A. Simpson, cinematographer Bill Mills, actors Mark Oliver and Kim Wall and more, Behind-The-Scenes Footage With Commentary By Michael A. Simpson, Home Video Promotional Trailer, Still Gallery, and (drumroll please) a Workprint Of The Longer Cut Of The Film (From VHS) and Deleted Scenes Featuring Additional Gore Footage Taken From The Workprint! For hardcore fans, this is the closest we'll to what the final film would've look like!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND is one of the last great horror film sequels of the 1980's!! The movie is also my favorite of the entire series! To see blood and gore in broad daylight was extraordinary and something we've never really seen before, making the movie stand out amongst the rest of pack! Nearly 30 years later, it has achieved the title of cult classic and so richly deserves it!! This Halloween, take a trip to Camp New Horizons and see what Angela Baker is all about!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo from Scream Factory. To purchase a copy, visit their website at www.shoutfactory.com. To learn more about the history of the SLEEPAWAY CAMP franchise, visit the film's official website at www.sleepawaycampmovies.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror! 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (1988) from Scream Factory - October 6, 2018

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS Blu-Ray
SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS
Starring Pamela Springsteen, Renée Estevez, Tony Higgins, Brian Patrick Clarke, Walter Gotell, Valerie Hartman
Written by Fritz Gordon (based on an original idea by Robert Hiltzik)
Cinematography by Bill Mills
Edited by John David Allen
Produced by Stan Wakefield, Michael A. Simpson, Jerry Silva, Robert F. Phillips
Directed by Michael A. Simpson
Originally released by Nelson Entertainment
Released by Scream Factory

Welcome back to another installment of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! For Day Six, I decided to go back to youthful days and revisit a personal favorite of mine. A film that I hold near and dear to me. And it was a sequel to one of the most infamous slasher flicks of all time! A sequel that I didn't see coming, but I loved the hell out of it! So for today kids, we're gonna take a trip back to 1988, and visit Camp Roaring Hills to watch SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS!

The film's official synopsis: Welcome to Camp Rolling Hills! Meet your camp counselor, Angela Baker! She's the kind of counselor who enjoys camp songs, nature walks, board games and… murder! Five years after the horrific slaughter at Camp Arawak, Angela (Pamela Springsteen, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH) has created a new position for herself as a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. Angela is about to teach "bad campers" a brutal lesson in survival when they are sliced, stabbed, drilled… and much worse. Renée Estevez (HEATHERS, INTRUDER) and Walter Gotell (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) co-star in this outrageous sequel to the original cult classic.

Director Michael A. Simpson had the daunting task up of making a follow-up to one of the most notorious horror films from this era. Not only that, but he had to make both this movie and the other sequel back to back! What he accomplished was simply amazing! Simpson had to fight tooth and nail to make the films he wanted to make, which included some outstanding kills, that unfortunately, were trimmed down because of the MPAA (Booooooo!!!) He shot some gory death scenes, especially in the third film. But what he captured on film is now part of horror film history! Truth be told, I love the sequels more than the original film. And yes, if that makes me an asshole, then so be it! But there's a lot of energy and cleverness in this movie. For example, the characters Charlie and Emilio (played by Jason Ehrlich and Justin Nowell respectively) are the real life names of Renee Estevez brothers, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Also, the other characters are named after actors associated with the 80's Brat Pack like Molly (Molly Ringwald), Ally (Ally Sheedy), TC (Tom Cruise), Rob (Rob Lowe), Demi (Demi Moore),  and so forth. This was a very smart idea from screenwriter Fritz Gordon. These two men would repeat this in the next installment.
Original In-Store Promotional Poster (1988)

As for the out lead actress, if her last name looks familiar, well it should! Pamela Springsteen is indeed the younger sister to the man himself: "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen! Now original Angela Baker actress Felissa Rose was asked to return but she was getting ready to attend college. Springsteen would return for the sequel, but then left acting to become a well-known photographer. Renée Estevez would go on to appear in a number of movies like HEATHERS, INTRUDER, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, and another personal favorite of mine GOOD GIRLS DON'T. She also had a recurring character named Nancy on the hit TV show The West Wing, appearing alongside her father Martin Sheen.

The movie received a limited theatrical release on August 26, 1988. But it found a wider audience when it was released on VHS by Nelson Entertainment just two months later. In 2002, Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film on DVD and as part of their SLEEPAWAY CAMP SURVIVAL KIT Boxset. On June 9, 2015, Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) released a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Collector's Edition of the movie.

Special features on the discs include Audio Commentary with Director Michael A. Simpson and Writer Fritz Gordon, "A Tale of Two Sequels" – Part One featuring new interviews with director Michael A. Simpson, cinematographer Bill Mills, editor John David Allen and more, "Abandoned: The Filming Locations of SLEEPAWAY CAMP II & III"– A tour of the shooting locales Behind The Scenes Footage with commentary by Michael A. Simpson, Home Video Promotional Trailer, and a Still Gallery.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS is one of the best horror film sequels of all time!! Fans of the original movie should definitely see this one!! And don't listen to those naysayers who think the movie isn't good! It's one of the best direct video released of all time! And 30 years after its original release, the movie still holds up and will take you back to those simpler days of renting movies at your local mom&pop video stores!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo from Scream Factory. To purchase a copy, visit their website at www.shoutfactory.com. To learn more about the history of the SLEEPAWAY CAMP franchise, visit the film's official website at www.sleepawaycampmovies.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!