Category Archives: Horror

Opera (1987) | CultFilms unleashes Dario Argento’s Grand Guignol horror in a new director-guided 2k restoration

Opera (1987)

Italy’s master of horror Dario Argento ushers in 2019 with this new restoration of his violent 1987 horror Opera, courtesy of CultFilms – the folks who brought us the stunning 4k restoration release of Suspiria.

Opera (1987)

When young understudy Betty (Cristina Marsillach) takes the lead role in a new operatic production of Verdi’s Macbeth, she soon attracts the attention of a knife-wielding psycho who forces her to watch – with eyes pinned open – as he brutally despatches her friends and colleagues with sadistic delight. Can Betty free herself from this unending nightmare or does a more terrifying fate await?

Opera (1987)

Co-starring Ian Charleson (Chariots of Fire) and Daria Nicolodi (Deep Red), Opera is a ravishing return to the giallo style Argento made his name with, awash with lavish bloodletting, black-gloved killers, soaring cinematography, and the director’s expressionistic Grand Guignol excess. Plus, an unforgettable score from Brian Eno, Bill Wyman, Claudio Simonetti and even opera legend Maria Callas herself.

CultFilms is proud to present Argento’s gore-soaked terror in a stunning 2K restoration, with colour regrading carried out under instruction from the maestro himself and in reference to his own, preferred, original cinema print. Opera is out now in a Region B/2 Dual Format edition (Blu-ray & DVD) with numbered vinyl case and on VOD from CultFilms.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Aria of Fear: a brand new candid interview with director Dario Argento, revisiting his work from a fresh viewpoint
Opera Backstage: a unique behind the scenes documentary about Dario Argento directing Opera
• Restoration featurette: from raw scan to the regraded, restored and reframed final vision

Order direct from CultFilms: bit.ly/2Aj8v2J

iTunes: apple.co/2QXlwUD

Advertisements

Leprechaun Returns (2018) | The tiny terror is back for his gold and some LOL revenge!

Leprechaun Returns

When the sorority sisters of Alpha Upsilon and their hunky tech help decide to go ‘green’ and use an old well as their water source at their new rented desert property, Townie Ozzie (Mark Holton) unwittingly awakens the leprechaun who, 25 years before, was seeking out a pot of gold. Now, the pint-sized wise-cracker (Channel Zero’s Linden Porco) embarks on a killing spree in order to achieve his treasure…

Leprechaun Returns

This is the eighth entry in the horror franchise, that started back in 1993 (with Warwick Davis playing the lead role over six films). It also serves as a direct sequel to the original with Mark Holton reprising his role as dim-witted Ozzie.

Directed by Steven Kostanski (part of the Canadian Astron-6 team, who were behind Manborg, Father’s Day and The Void), this is a horror tickbox cackle-fest, boasting some quotable one-liners and some inventive death scenes – watch out for the solar slicer, the sprinkler silencer and drone decapitator.

Leprechaun Returns

Leprechaun Returns is released by Lionsgate on all digital platforms from 11 December, including:

  • Sky Store
  • iTunes
  • Amazon
  • Google Play
  • Virgin Movies (TVOD Only)
  • Talk Talk
  • XBOX
  • Sony PlayStation
  • Rakuten TV
  • Chili TV

iTunes Exclusive Special Features:
• Going Green with director Steven Kostanski Behind the Scenes
• Still Gallery

When a Stranger Calls (1979) | Have you checked the children! – The genuinely terrifying cult chiller on Blu-ray

When A Stranger Calls (1979)

Back in the 1979, When a Stranger Calls had cinema-goers (me included) on the edge of their seats when poor Carol Kane picked up the phone and heard the chilling words: ‘Have you checked the children?’. Now the seminal slasher is heading to Blu-ray in the UK for the very first time in a Limited Edition release loaded with extras from Second Sight.

When A Stranger Calls (1979)

Director Frank Walton’s feature debut (which expands on his 1977 short The Sitter) features an incredibly intense opener in which Kane, playing the unfortunate babysitter in peril, Jill Johnson, calls the police after a series of increasingly threatening phone calls and discovers to her horror that they are coming from inside the house! Charles Durning is the surly detective, John Clifford, who comes to her rescue, sparking a desperate chase and a gruesome discovery before the psycho, merchant seaman Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley), is finally caught. Seven years later, the maniac targets Jill again after escaping from a psychiatric hospital, while Clifford (now a private detective) is determined to take him out…

The maniac-on-the-phone formula has since been done to death (especially in today’s climate of home invasion horrors), but along with 1974’s Black Christmas (read my review here) it’s played to great effect here – and was famously paid homage to by Wes Craven in his 1996 spoof, Scream.

This was the last screen role for 50-year-old British character actor Tony Beckley, who was terminally ill at the time, died six months after the film’s premiere. Beckley is best known to cult film fans for appearing in Hammer’s The Lost Continent, and the Britsploitation thrillers The Fiend and Assault, as well as classic fare like Get Carter and The Italian Job. Classic Doctor Who fans will also remember him as the villainous plant collector Harrison Chase in the superior Tom Baker adventure, The Seeds of Doom.

When A Stranger Calls (1979)

In 1993’s When a Stranger Calls Back, babysitter Julia (The Stepfather‘s Jill Schoelen) makes the mistake of talking to a weirdo who turns up at her front door: the prelude to a few minutes of fantastic nerve-jangling suspense. The main story, set five years later, is no less chilling. Still traumatised by the incident, the introverted Julia comes to believe that she is being stalked, and turns to Kane’s Jill (now a college counsellor) for help.

This made for cable TV sequel may be all style and no substance, but returning director Walton still manages to rack up the tension with some genuinely unsettling moments and the odd surprise. Alongside Kane, Charles Durning also reprises his role from the original film.

This Limited Edition Second Sight release features a brand-new scan and restoration of the original film and the following special features:
• The sequel When a Stranger Calls Back in HD
• The original short film The Sitter in a brand new scan and restoration
• New interviews with director Fred Walton, actors Carol Kane and Rutanya Alda and composer Dana Kaproff
• Original Soundtrack CD
• Collector’s booklet with new essay by Kevin Lyons
• Reversible sleeve with new artwork by Obviously Creative and original poster artwork
• English subtitles for the hearing impaired for both films

Save

The Sentinel (1977) | Michael Winner’s satanic shocker is perversely entertaining

The Sentinel (1977)

Troubled fashion model Alison Parker (Nashville‘s Cristina Raines), with a history of suicidal tendencies, rents an apartment in an old Brooklyn brownstone, where a mute blind priest, Father Halliran (John Carradine), sits all day and night beside an upstairs window.

After meeting the other tenants, including the overly-friendly Charles Chazen (Burgess Meredith) and Bohemian lesbian couple, Gerde (Sylvia Miles) and Sandra (Beverly D’Angelo), Alison begins having bouts of insomnia caused by strange late-night sounds coming from the apartment above hers and terrible dreams about murdering her recently deceased father.

But when she complains to her real-estate agent, Miss Logan (Ava Gardner) about the noises, Alison learns that there are no neighbours in the property except herself and the priest. Oh dear!

Worried that she might be loosing her mind, Alison turns to her lawyer boyfriend Michael (Chris Sarandon) for help, and then sets out to investigate on her own. Digging through the building’s past, she is shocked to learn that it guards the gates to Hell and that she has been chosen by a secret group of Catholic priests to be the next sentinel…

Riding the satanic horror wave of the Seventies, The Sentinel is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Jeffrey Konvitz, who adapted it for the screen and acted as producer alongside director Michael Winner.

Damned by critics on its release as being ‘grubby and grotesque’, Winner’s only attempt at the horror genre is certainly not up to par with the likes of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen, but its perversely entertaining with some unsettling set pieces, cheesy dialogue and noteworthy performances from its A-list cast. Plus, the special effects and Gille Mellé score are a winning combo, along with the 1970s stylings and New York City locations.

Burgess Meredith, who scored a Oscar nod for his stand-out turn in Rocky the previous year, really goes to town as one of the damned inhabitants, as does Eli Wallach as a shouty detective, whose sidekick is a young Christopher Walken. And among the other familiar faces are José Ferrer, Martin Balsam, Arthur Kennedy, Deborah Raffin and Jeff Goldblum.

The shocks are few, but genuinely frightening: especially Alison fighting off her naked rotting dead dad, the lesbian couple having a cannibalistic late night supper, and the hellish finale in which Winner ‘exploitatively’ uses real people with physical deformities to play the demonic creatures trying to prevent Alison from fulfilling her destiny. But for me, the really gross-out scene is when Beverly D’Angelo pleasures herself in front of an embarrassed Alison.

The Final Cut Entertainment Region 2 DVD (released on 23 November 2018) features an OK print of the film, but no extras.

DID YOU KNOW?
Alison’s Brooklyn brownstone was never knocked down as seen in the closing scenes of the film. It is in fact one of the grandest mansions in Brooklyn Heights, and is located at 10 Montague Terrace.

Nestled in a quiet corner right off the Promenade that runs between Brooklyn Bridge and Atlantic Avenue, the historic 1900 building is distinctive for its dramatic facade, magnificently detailed mahogany woodwork and other original details throughout.

Today, it has been renovated into a number of luxury apartments. One went for around $1.15m in April this year, while another was on offer for $1.8m.

Night of the Demon (1957) | 2018’s best Blu-ray box-set release is out now!

Night of the Demon (1957)

Based on MR James’ classic tale of terror Casting the Runes and adapted for the screen by regular Hitchcock collaborator Charles Bennett, director Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon is considered to be one of the seminal horror films of 20th-century cinema.

Night of the Demon (1957)

Niall MacGinnis is the politely malevolent Dr Julian Karswell, an eminent British scientist who has been dabbling in black magic (while also hosting children’s parties dressed as a clown). When rival scientist Professor Harrington (Maurice Denham), threatens to expose his nefarious activities, Karswell invokes a demon which kills him.

Night of the Demon (1957)

Dana Andrews plays the sceptical psychologist Dr. John Holden who refuses to believe Harrington’s niece Joanna (Peggy Cummins) when she suspects something demonic is at work, but he soon has good cause to think she is telling the truth when Karswell passes him a piece of parchment at London’s British Museum which may bring about his death inside four days…

Night of the Demon (1957)

Although the titular demon appears at the beginning and the end, it’s the constant level of fear throughout that makes this classic British horror such a genuinely scary chiller and remains a bona fide classic of the genre.

It was also famously referred to in Science Fiction/Double Feature (the opening track in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Picture Show), with the witty line: ‘Dana Andrews says prunes gave him the runes…’

Night of the Demon (1957)

Released on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK from Powerhouse Films/Indicator, Night of the Demon is presented here in four different versions (including the BFI’s 2013 2K restoration of the 96-minute version), and is accompanied by a huge array of new and archival special features., plus a double-sided poster and 80-page book. Check them all out below and then order here: https://www.powerhousefilms.co.uk/collections/frontpage/products/night-of-the-demon-le

Night of the Demon (1957)SPECIAL FEATURES:
• The BFI’s 2013 2K restoration of the 96-minute version
• High-definition remaster of the 82-minute cut
• Original mono audio
• Four presentations of the film: Night of the Demon – the original full-length pre-release version (96 mins), and the original UK theatrical cut (82 minutes); Curse of the Demon – the original US theatrical cut (82 mins), and the US re-issue version (96 mins)
• Audio commentary with film historian Tony Earnshaw
Speak of the Devil: The Making of ‘Night of the Demon’ (2007): documentary featuring interviews with actor Peggy Cummins, production designer Ken Adam and historians Tony Earnshaw and Jonathan Rigby
• Dana Andrews rare audio interview
The Devil’s in the Detail (2018): Christopher Frayling on Ken Adam
Horrors Unseen (2018): biographer Chris Fujiwara on Jacques Tourneur
Sinister Signs (2018): an analysis by critic/author Kim Newman
Under the Spell (2018): horror writer Ramsey Campbell on MR James and Tourneur
The Devil in Music (2018): a new appreciation of Clifton Parker’s score by author David Huckvale
The Devil Gets His Due (2018): film historian Scott MacQueen on the film’s release history
The Truth of Alchemy (2018) a discussion of MR James and ‘Casting the Runes’ by author Roger Clarke
Cloven In Two (2018): a new video piece exploring the different versions of the film
Escape: ‘Casting the Runes’ (1947): a radio play adaptation of James’ original story
• Super 8 version: original cut-down home cinema presentation
• Isolated music & effects track on the US theatrical cut
• Original US Curse of the Demon theatrical trailer
• Image gallery:  including rare production design sketches
• New and improved English subtitles
• Limited Edition book containing a new essay by Kat Ellinger, M R James on ghost stories, a history of the film’s production through the words of its principle creators, a profile of witchcraft consultant Margaret Murray, the film’s history with the BBFC, a look at the different versions of the film, contemporary critical responses, a look at Charles Bennett’s original scripted ending, and film credits

And here’s something from my own archives, the late Peggy Cummins (who left us aged 92 in 2017) introducing an outdoor screening of the BFI’s restoration print at the British Museum back in 2013.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Troll: The Complete Collection | The 1980s fantasy franchise gets a Eureka Classics Limited Edition Blu-ray release

Troll (1986)

Long before a certain young wizard called Harry Potter waged a magical war against the dreaded Lord Voldemort, another youngster, also called Harry Potter, found himself battling a pint-sized dark wizard in the 1986 fantasy comedy Troll.

Troll (1986)

While critically-panned at the time, Troll has become something of a cult curiosity ever since it scored big on the home video business, where it even overtook The Goonies in rentals. Noah Hathaway from Never Ending Story fame plays the spunky hero, Harry Potter Jr, who comes under the tutelage of a white witch called Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart of Lost in Space fame) when his sister Wendy is possessed by Torok (Phil Fondacaro) – a powerful fairy (and Eunice’s former lover) who was turned into a troll after starting a war between fairies and humans.

Troll (1986)

Small, smart, dripping with saliva, and with teeth that would keep a dentist in bridgework for life, Torok wants to transform the human world back into the grand, magical kingdom that existed many centuries ago… With just 72 hours to complete his mission, Torok creates his fairy world inside a San Francisco apartment block and starts turning its tenants, including Sonny Bono, a pre-Seinfield Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Phil Fondacaro (who also plays a friendly neighbour), into goblins, nymphs and elves. Armed with Eunice’s magical staff, Harry then heads into the alternate world to save the day…

Troll (1986)

Troll was the brainchild of two protégés from Roger Corman’s New World quickies, screenwriter and former Fangoria-editor Ed Naha and director/sfx artist John Carl Buechler. It was originally planned to be a blood-drenched R-rated horror flick set in a sleazy motel called Goblin for Corman, but got transformed into a PG-13 fantasy in the Ghoulies and Gremlins mold when it was greenlit by Charles Band’s Empire Pictures.

While it has its faults, Troll boasts some neat practical effects, but is also packed with some delightfully odd moments, including a bizarre elfin-led musical number, June Lockhart turning into her real-life daughter Anne – not to mention Moriarty’s hyperactive turn as Harry’s 1960’s music-jiving dad (also called Harry Potter) and the film within the film called Pod People from the Planet Mars which plays on a TV set during all the mischief and mayhem.

Troll 2 (1990)

In the unrelated 1990 sequel, Troll 2, produced by prolific Italian film-maker Joe D’Amato, young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) makes a connection between the local residents of a town called Nilbog (try writing it backwards?) and a fairytale he was told by his grandfather (Robert Ormsby). Realising that the townsfolk are all goblins, he tries to prevent his family from eating any food before they are turned into vegetable matter…

My word, this is really bad – and not in a good way! In fact, its downright painful to sit through such bad acting, dialogue and makeup effects. This is only for cult film masochists or Joe D’Amato completists. In 2009, Stephenson, directed a documentary about the film’s production and subsequent popularity, humorously titled Best Worst Movie, which is also included in the Blu-ray box-set, as part of the Eureka Classics series, along with the following special features…

The Making of Troll: featuring director John Carl Buechler, producer Charles Band, Writer Ed Naha, composer Richard Band and more
• Audio commentary on Troll 2 with actors George Hardy and Deborah Reed
Best Worst Movie: deleted scenes and interview footage
• Interview with Deborah Reed
• Screenwriting Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, Michael Stephenson and George Hardy
• Fan contributions
• Monstrous – Music Video by ECOMOG
• Booklet featuring rare archival material
• Limited Edition O Card slipcase featuring artwork by Devon Whitehead

Save

William Castle at Columbia | These Limited Edition Blu-ray box-sets are the biz!

William Castle at Columbia

Renowned for his imaginative and eccentric marketing ploys, American film showman William Castle became synonymous with delivering lurid horror films backed-up by his trademark publicity gimmicks like Illusion-O, Percepto and Fright Breaks. Now, Powerhouse Films/Indicator are releasing eight of his classic films in two highly-collectable Blu-ray box-sets…

WILLIAM CASTLE AT COLUMBIA, VOLUME ONE features four classic fright films from the outrageous showman’s illustrious career with Columbia Pictures and presented on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Containing a wealth of new and archival extras, this stunning Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set is strictly limited to 6,000 copies. Out on 22 October 2018 PURCHASE HERE

SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remasters of all four films: THE TINGLER (1959), 13 GHOSTS (1960), HOMICIDAL (1961), MR SARDONICUS (1961)
• Original mono audio
• Two presentations of 13 Ghosts: the original ‘Illusion-O’ presentation and the alternative black-and-white version
• The Tingler audio commentary by Jonathan Rigby, author of American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema, and Kevin Lyons, editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television
• Homicidal audio commentary by author and film historian Lee Gambin
• Mr Sardonicus audio commentary with Daughters of Darkness’ Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger
• Spine-Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007, 82 mins): Jeffrey Schwarz’s acclaimed documentary on Castle, featuring interviews with John Landis, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, Stuart Gordon, Leonard Maltin, Budd Boetticher, Bob Burns, David Del Valle, Fred Olen Ray and John Waters among others
• Larger Than Life: The Making of ‘Spine-Tingler’ (2007)
• Kim Newman on ‘The Tingler’ (2018): an appreciation by the critic and author of Nightmare Movies
• Scream for Your Lives!: William Castle and ‘The Tingler’
• I Survived ‘The Tingler’ (2007): an interview with actor Pamela Lincoln
• Unleashing Percepto (2007): an interview with publicist Barry Lorie
• Stephen Laws Introduces ‘13 Ghosts’ (2018): an appreciations by the acclaimed horror author
• The Magic of ‘Illusion-O’: William Castle and ’13 Ghosts’
• Psychette: William Castle and ‘Homicidal’
• Stephen Laws Introduces ‘Homicidal’ (2018)
• The Punishment Poll (2007): an interview with publicist Richard Kahn
• Taking the Punishment Poll: William Castle and ‘Mr Sardonicus’
• Jonathan Rigby meets ‘Mr Sardonicus’ (2018): an appreciation by the film historian and author of American Gothic
• Ballyhoo!: Bob Thomas recalls the time he interviewed William Castle
• Original theatrical trailers
• Trailer commentaries with Sam Hamm, Stuart Gordon and Joe Dante
• Promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
• Limited Edition box set exclusive booklets with new essays by Kat Ellinger, Dan Whitehead, Rebecca Nicole Williams and Jo Botting, archival interview materials, contemporary reviews, and film credits

WILLIAM CASTLE AT COLUMBIA VOLUME TWO features four more weird and wonderful films from the outrageous showman’s illustrious career with Columbia Pictures, all presented on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Containing a wealth of new and archival extras this stunning Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set from Indicator is strictly limited to 6,000 units. Released 10 December 2018. PRE-ORDER HERE

SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remasters of all four films: ZOTZ! (1962), 13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS (1963), THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1963), STRAIT-JACKET (1964)
• Original mono audio
• Alternative presentations of The Old Dark House – the black and white 1963 US theatrical presentation (87 mins); the cut-down A-certificate 1966 UK presentation (77 mins); and the complete uncut colour presentation (87 mins)
• Zotz! audio commentary by Diabolique Magazine’s editor-in-chief Kat Ellinger
• 13 Frightened Girls audio commentary by Daughters of Darkness’ Samm Deighan
• The Old Dark House audio commentary by celebrated horror and fantasy authors Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
• Strait-Jacket audio commentary film historians Lee Gambin and Emma Westwood
• Stephen Laws Introduces ‘Zotz!’ (2018): an appreciation by the acclaimed horror author
• Kim Newman on Ray Russell (2018): an appreciation of novelist and writer of Zotz! by the critic and author of Nightmare Movies
• 13 Frightened Girls: William Castle’s original ‘The Candy Web’ opening / closing ‘Danger Card’ messages
• 13 Frightened Girls: four alternativee opening sequences created for international release versions
• Jonathan Rigby on ‘The Old Dark House’ and ‘Strait-Jacket’ (2018): new appreciations by the author of American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema
• ‘The Old Dark House’ in Eastmancolor (2018): Paul Frith, Senior Research Associate, School of Art, Media and American Studies at UEA discusses the film’s cinematography
• Joan Had Me Fired! (2018): an interview with actor Anne Helm
• On the Road with Joan Crawford (2018): an interview with publicist Richard Kahn
• Battle-Axe: The Making of ‘Strait-Jacket’ (2007, 15 mins)
• Joan Crawford Wardrobe Tests (1964, 4 mins)
• Joan Crawford – Axe Test (1964, 1 min)
• How to Plan a Movie Murder (1964, 5 mins): star Joan Crawford, director William Castle and author Robert Bloch discuss making Strait-Jacket in this vintage piece
• Super 8 version of Strait-Jacket
• Isolated music & effects track on all four films
• Original theatrical trailers
• Strait-Jacket trailer commentary with David DeCoteau
• 13 Frightened Girls original UK trailer introduction
• Alternative 13 Frightened Girls ‘The Candy Web’ trailer
• Promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited Edition box set exclusive booklets for each film with new essays by Joe Jordan, Racheal Nisbet, James Oliver and John Oliver, archival interview materials, contemporary reviews and film credits

Save

Save

Night of the Creeps (1986) | The cult sci-fi zom-com gets a dual format release

Night of the Creeps

From Eureka Entertainment comes director Fred Dekker’s jokey 1980s sci-fi comedy Night of the Creeps, in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of the Eureka Classics range.

When an alien experiment goes awry, it crashes to Earth in 1959 and infects a college student. 27 years later, his freeze-dried body is unwittingly revived by nerds Chris (Jason Lively) and JC (Steve Marshall), which releases alien slugs that turn their fellow campus students into brain-hungry zombies. Chris, CJ and Chris’ new girlfriend Cynthia (Jill Whitlow) must then team up with a troubled detective (Tom Atkins) to find a way to defeat the zombie horde…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Presented for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK, this deluxe edition of Night of the Creeps features the original director’s cut and the following special features…

DUAL FORMAT SPECIAL FEATURES
• High-definition remaster of the director’s cut
• Original stereo soundtrack and 5.1 surround audio options, presented in PCM and DTS-HD MA respectively on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary by writer/director Fred Dekker
• Audio commentary by actors Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow
Thrill Me: Making Night of the Creeps: an hour-long series of video pieces on the making of the film featuring new interviews with cast and crew
Tom Atkins: Man of Action featurette
• Video Interview with Fred Dekker
• Deleted Scenes
• Original theatrical ending (which I rather prefer)
• Trivia track subtitles
• Theatrical trailer
• Limited-edition booklet featuring a new essay by critic Craig Ian Mann
• Limited Edition O-Card slipcase

Save

Monkey Shines (1988) | George A Romero’s twisted Experiment in Fear is a cunning little beast indeed!

Monkey Shines

Drug-addled research scientist Geoffrey Fisher (John Pankow) is injecting human brain serum into monkeys, but goes too far with Ella, one Capuchin that he gives as helper to quadriplegic law student Allan (Jason Beghe), who has been left paralysed from the neck down after a road accident.

Monkey Shines

All goes well at first, as Allan and Ella bond with the help of animal trainer Melanie (Kate McNeil). But when the scientist steps up the dosage, Ella begins responding to Allan’s subconscious rages, including wanting to dispose of the girlfriend (Janine Turner) who dumped him for the surgeon (Stanley Tucci) who operated on Allan after the accident. Murder and mayhem follow as the twisted thriller builds towards a nail-biting climax. Can Allan stop the cunning critter before she fully takes over his mind?

Monkey Shines

George A Romero’s Monkey Shines is presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of the Eureka Classics range with the following special features…

• Limited Edition O Card slipcase
• 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray
• DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio options
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• New and exclusive audio commentary by Travis Crawford
• Audio Commentary with director George A Romero
• An Experiment in Fear – The Making of Monkey Shines: a lengthy retrospective with George A Romero, stars Jason Beghe and Kate McNeil, executive producer Peter Grunwald, and special effects legends Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and Everett Burrell.
• Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes
• Behind-the-scenes footage, original EPK featurette, vintage interviews and news reports
• Trailers and TV spots
• Limited edition collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Craig Ian Mann; highlights from the film’s production notes: and rare archival material

Save

The Monster (2016) | This slow-burning creature feature is a tense, but flawed affair

MONSTER (2016)

Neglectful alcoholic mum Kathy (Zoe Kazan) is driving her 10-year-old daughter Lizzy (Ella Ballentine) to her ex-husband’s home when she hits a wolf, which damages her car. An ambulance crew soon arrives, along with tow car mechanic, Jesse (Aaron Douglas), who starts fixing the car when he’s attacked by a monstrous creature. When a severed arm lands on the bonnet and a severly wounded Jesse is dragged under the car, Kathy and Lizzy must work together in order to survive the night…

MONSTER (2016)

This claustrophobic two-hander horror from director Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) runs 91mins, but you have to wait for nearly 40mins before anything happens by way of action – even then it quietens down again before the final showdown. It certainly is a slow-burner, but most of the film’s running time is taken up with the kind of mother-daughter domestics that you’d expect from a weepie melodrama. It’s a bit of a drag, despite the effective man-in-a-furry-suit creature design and the engaging performances from both Ballentine and Kazan (who replaced original choice, Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss).

MONSTER (2016)

Still, the slow bits (and flashbacks) gave me time to wonder what this monster was, where it had come from and why attack now? At first I thought it might be a werewolf or even Bigfoot, then I wondered if it weren’t a manifestation of Lizzy’s internal anger, similar to the superb 2014 Oz shocker The Babadook, which also dealt with angst-ridden parent-child issues. Bertino doesn’t offer up any answers, which makes me think he may have missed a trick (or did I read this film all wrong?). Oh, and the pay-off (involving a large stick) is just a tad too silly after all that build-up. Lots of reviewers have given this four or five stars – I’m giving it ★★★

The Monster lurks onto DVD and Digital from Icon Film Distribution on 8 October

Save

%d bloggers like this: