Category Archives: Horror
Cujo | The 1980s rabid dog horror from the pen of Stephen King gets a limited edition UK Blu-ray release
Evil bites when a drooling rabid dog lays siege to the frightened occupants of a broken-down car in this 1983 horror from director Lewis Teague (Alligator, The Jewel of the Nile), based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel of the same name.
While Donna (Dee Wallace) and Vic Trenton (Daniel Hugh-Kelly) struggle to save their rocky marriage, their son Tad (Danny Pintauro) befriends the St Bernard who belongs to their mechanic. But what they don’t realise is that a bat bite is transforming Cujo into a vicious killer. With Vic away on business, Donna and Tad’s car trouble pushes them into a living nightmare…
Alongside Maximum Overdrive and Cat’s Eye, this is one of the weakest Stephen King adaptations, but it did do modest business at the box-office back in 1983 when hit became the fourth-highest grossing horror of the year. The simple premise is of a car breaking down, but in order to flesh out the film’s running time, it does so several times.
Dee Wallace and Who’s the Boss’ Danny Pintauro handle their roles pretty well, and Lewis does his best in the director’s chair which was originally occupied by Peter Medak (who left the project two days into filming). But Moe, the St Bernard, who plays Cujo is just too darn loveable looking, even with all that slobber coated over him, to make a convincing hell hound. And valiantly trying to generate suspense with his mobile camera is cinematographer Jan de Bont, who went on to direct Speed.
Eureka Classics’ Limited Edition 2-disc Blu-ray edition is available to order from Amazon
Check out the full specs below.
SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION [4000 UNITS] CONTAINS
• Hardbound Slipcase, featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Justin Osbourn and original poster artwork
• 60-page Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author Scott Harrison, and Craig Ian Mann; illustrated with archival imagery from the film’s production.
• 1080p presentation of the film, on Blu-ray for the first time ever in the UK
• Uncompressed LPCM mono soundtrack
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary by Lee Gambin, author of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo
• New interviews with Dee Wallace [40 mins], composer Charles Bernstein [35 mins], stunt people Gary Morgan [25 mins] and Jean Coulter [21 mins], casting director Marcia Ross. [20 mins], visual effects artist Kathie Lawrence [13 mins], special effects designer Robert Clark [12 mins] and dog trainer Teresa Miller [28 mins]
• Dog Days: The Making of Cujo – archival documentary on the film’s production [42 mins]
DISC TWO [Limited Edition Only]
• Q&A with Dee Wallace from Cinemaniacs & Monster Fest 2015 [96 mins]
• New interview with critic and author Kim Newman [25 mins]
The Haunted House of Horror | Fancy a seance and an orgy with Frankie Avalon? Well you’ve got the wrong address!
At a ‘swinging’ London party, a group of bored teenagers decide they want a new ‘experience’, so Richard (Julian Barnes) suggests they head to a deserted mansion where an infamous murder took place. But during their ‘ghost hunt’, one of their number ends up brutally stabbed to death. Hiding the body, the gang decide not to tell the police, which turns out to be a really bad move. As guilt gets the better of them, they decide the only solution is to return to the scene of the crime…
Oh dear! This dated 1960s Tigon/AIP horror is embarrassingly bad, yet bizarrely enjoyable for its kitsch value. Beach Party‘s Frankie Avalon swaps his shorts and surfboard for some Carnaby Street clobber as the jaded group’s nominal leader. But he looks way older than his character should be, and practically dials in his performance. But he’s certainly not as stiff as Dennis Price (a last minute replacement for an ailing Boris Karloff), whose police inspector does little more than take phone calls. Among the dolly birds and male model supporting cast are future sitcom stars Richard O’Sullivan and Robin Stewart, pop singer Mark Wynter, and actress Jill Haworth (who ended up in Tower of Evil and The Mutations).
For fans of vintage British horror, you either love or hate this deeply-flawed attempt by Tigon to craft what is probably the UK’s first teen slasher, and its production history is certainly way more interesting than the film itself. Originally called The Dark, it was based on an original screenplay by 23-year-old Michael Armstrong, who also got to direct until he was removed by Tigon’s AIP co-producers, who demanded cuts, script changes and reshoots, to the point that the finished product looked nothing like what Armstrong had originally intended (he want to make a satire on the youth scene). Hence why George Sewell’s scenes look like they come from another movie. They were added to make up the running time after big cuts were made, which got rid of a homosexual subplot and other more interesting elements.
The restoration, however, is impressive as it really highlights the effective camerawork and lighting, particularly so in the mansion scenes (shot on location at the Birkdale Palace Hotel in Southport, but using sets constructed to look battered and aged). There’s so much more detail now and the colours really pop (especially in the cast’s trendy attire). Check out the clip below about the restoration work (But BIG spoiler alert! The killer is revealed).
While the film ended up generating good returns (especially when it was released in the US as Horror House on a double-bill with Crimson Cult – aka Curse of the Crimson Cult) it’s a real pity its a dog’s dinner of a thriller. But one can only imagine how it could have turned out had Armstrong had achieved his original concept with his dream cast of David Bowie, Scott Walker, Ian Ogilvy and Jane Merrow. If you want to read Armstrong’s original screenplay for The Dark, you purchase it from Paper Dragon Productions for £13.99. Just click on the link.
The Haunted House of Horror is available on Blu-ray in the UK from Screenbound
• Commentary and a new interview with director Michael Armstrong
• Interview clips with Michael Armstrong, actors Mark Wynter, Carol Dilworth and Veronica Doran; plus hair stylist Ross Carver, camera operator James Devis, production secretary Jeanette Ferber, dubbing editor Howard Lanning and editor Peter Pitt.
The murderous marionettes are back as Fangoria presents their ultraviolent reboot of Charles Band’s Puppet Master horror franchise, The Littlest Reich, from directors Tommy Wiklund and Sonny Laguna.
When divorced comic book writer/store clerk Edgar (Reno 911!’s Thomas Lennon) finds one of the infamous Toulon Blade puppets in mint condition at his family home, he decides to sell it for some quick cash. New girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) and nerdy pal Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) join Edgar as he heads to Oregon for an auction being held in the mansion where the infamous Toulon Murders took place 30 years previously.
But when the puppets are reanimated and start targeting ‘undesirables’, the trio team up with a security officer (Barbara Crampton) and a clueless cop (Michael Pare) to draw the puppets from out of the shadows to take them down…
The political satire may be as subtle as one of Donald Trump’s speeches, and the acting questionable, but the cartoon gore is a whole lotta fun and wonderfully offensive. A gypsy guy has his head chopped off while taking a leak, and ends up pissing on his own head; a Jewish couple get barbecued alive; and a black woman has her unborn foetus ripped from her stomach. But the OTT carnage really gets going when the toy shelf Nazis launch their all-out attack on the mansion…
Joining old favourites, Blade, Tunneler, Torch (aka Kaiser) and Pinhead, in this 13th-entry are seven new deadly dolls, including Junior Fuhrer, a diaper-wearing baby doll with the face of Adolf Hitler, who takes possession of a blonde German muscle dude by ripping open his back and crawling inside so he can operate him like a real-life puppet. But the Nazi nipper does get his comeuppance when Markowitz throws him into an oven.
With a neat (though short) cameo from Udo Keir (as Andre Toulon), a terrific score from the legendary Fabio Frizzi and an ending that hints at the franchise’s return, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a bloody, silly, fun ride indeed.
Out in selected UK cinemas from 19 April 2019
It’s 1958 and little Michael Laemle, moving to a new home in Indiana, becomes increasingly aware of his parents’ eccentricity. Puzzled at the vast amounts of red meat that always seem to be available in his home, Michael secretly sneaks into his father’s laboratory, where the effects of new chemicals are tested…
Horror comedies come no blacker than this tale of friendly neighbourhood cannibals (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt) at large in the America of the 1950s. Imagine an old Bisto advertisement turned into a horror film and you’ve got a good idea of what to expect from director Bob Balaban’s highly effective little shocker.
• Audio commentary with director Bob Balaban and producer Bonnie Palef
• Isolated score selections and audio interview with composer Jonathan Elias
• Leftovers To Be – with screenwriter Christopher Hawthorne
• Mother’s Day – with actress Mary Beth Hurt
• Inside Out – an interview with director of photography Robin Vidgeon
• Vintage Tastes – with decorative consultant Yolanda Cuomo
• Theatrical trailer
• Radio spots
• Still gallery
THE GREEN INFERNO: CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST 2 (1988)
For years fans waited for the release of a sequel to Ruggero Deodato’s trendsetting Cannibal Holocaust, yet it would take almost a decade for The Green Inferno, also known as Cannibal Holocaust 2, to arrive… and it wasn’t what followers of the Italian cannibal cycle were expecting.
A group of enterprising adventurers venture into the Amazon jungle in search of a missing professor but soon the youngsters encounter more than they bargained for – European colonialism is exploiting the rainforest and the natives are fighting back! While Deodato’s original critiqued the mondo pseudo-documentary phenomenon, here director Antonio Climati (Mondo Cane, Savage Man, Savage Beast) turns the focus to satirising the hypocrisy and complexity of Cannibal Holocaust itself. A potent mix of macabre imagery, scenic locations, extreme gore and sly in-jokes, The Green Inferno is the gut-munching sequel you always knew you wanted but were too afraid to ask for!
• Brand new 2K remaster from the original camera negative in 1.66:1 OAR
• Extensive clean-up and colour correction carried out in the UK
• Remastered uncompressed English audio
• Remastered uncompressed Italian audio with newly translated subtitles
• ‘Scenes From Banned Alive: The Rise and Fall of Italian Cannibal Movies’. Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino discuss their notorious cannibal films, including The Man From Deep River, Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Holocaust and The Mountain of the Cannibal God
• Italian opening and closing credits
• Remastered trailer
CANNIBAL TERROR (1981)
First there was Cannibal Holocaust… Then came Cannibal Ferox … But somewhere in France, someone was already hatching a plot to cash-in on the Italian intestinal classics with Cannibal Terror. With no budget, no professional actors and no flights to Amazonia, Cannibal Terror instead gives us Deodato and Lenzi on a cash-strapped level and the end result is The Room of cannibal movies! Brilliant and blood-soaked late night entertainment, Cannibal Terror was one of the UK’s infamous ‘video nasties’ – showing that our beloved censors have little in the way of a sense of humour! However, this torrid tale of stranded tourists being hunted by hungry natives is a work of demented genius from director Alain Deruelle that words can barely do service to. Prepare to feast your eyes on Cannibal Terror!
• Limited edition o-card slipcase [first print run only]
• Limited edition collectors’ booklet by Calum Waddell [first print run only]
• High definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Uncompressed English audio
• Optional English subtitles
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• ‘That’s Not The Amazon! – The Strange Story of the Eurocine Cannibal Film Cycle’
• Deleted scene
• Theatrical trailer
88 Films presents The Green Inferno: Cannibal Holocaust 2 and Cannibal Terror on Blu-ray 11 March 2019
Opera (1987) | CultFilms unleashes Dario Argento’s Grand Guignol horror in a new director-guided 2k restoration
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.
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?
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.
• 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
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…
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 is released by Lionsgate on all digital platforms from 11 December, including:
- Sky Store
- Google Play
- Virgin Movies (TVOD Only)
- Talk Talk
- 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…’
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
• 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.