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The Gate (1987) | The cult horror favourite restored, remastered and still lots of fun!

The Gate (1987)

From Lionsgate UK comes 1987’s The Gate, as part of their ongoing Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray.

While their parents are away for a long weekend, break 16-year-old Al (Christa Denton) and 12-year-old Glen (Stephen Dorff) have free reign of their suburban home. But it soon turns into a supernatural battleground when Glen and his best friend Terry (Louis Tripp) unwittingly unleash demonic forces from a large hole in the backyard…

Though not much happens in the first half hour of this Poltergeist meets Home Alone offering, things really liven up when an army of pint-size trolls begin to start crawling out from ‘the other side’.

What The Gate lacks in originality, it certainly makes up for it with its ‘wink and a smile’ fan-boy approach that plays fast and furious with some classic horror tropes like the ‘monster in the closet’ and the ‘thing under the bed’, while also chucking in a great gag involving the lyrics of heavy metal records being linked to black magic and satanism.

The practical special effects may have some rough edges, but they still look terrific: especially the ankle-sized demons (a winning combination of forced perspective and people in full rubber suits), and the climactic sequence in which Glen, armed with a toy rocket, takes on the film’s gigantic HP Lovecraft-inspired serpentine demon.

So sit back and prepare to channel your 12-year-old self once again with this gleefully ghoulish fun-ride.

The Gate (1987)

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentary with director Tibor Takacs, writer Michael Nankin, and sfx designer/supervisor Randall William Cook
• Audio commentary with the sfx crew, including Randall William Cook, Craig Reardon, Frank Carere and Bill Taylor
• Isolated Score and audio interview with composers Michael Hoenig and J Peter Robinson
• Eight new and archival behind-the-scenes featurettes with the cast and crew
• Trailers & TV Spot
• Galleries

WATCH IT ON THE BIG SCREEN: Lionsgate UK’s free screenings at the Monday Film Club at The Alibi in Dalston, East London finish tonight (26 March) with The Gate. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/178367812773304/

The Gate copyright: Programme Content and Photography: ©1986 The Gate Film Productions Inc. all Rights Reserved. Package Design: © 2018 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Wishmaster (1997) | The demonic djinn escapes again onto Blu-ray

Wishmaster (1997)

From Lionsgate UK comes 1997’s Wishmaster, as part of the Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray.

In 1127 Persia, a demonic genie (Andrew Divoff) is trapped inside a fire opal by a quick-thinking sorcerer before he can unleash his evil on the land. In present day America, the opal finds its way into the hands of an antique appraiser, Alex (Tammy Lauren), who has strange visions while handling the gem.

Seeking answers, Alex hands it over to her best friend Josh (Tony Crane) to analyse. But when the gem explodes, the evil djinn is released and tricks Josh into wishing for a ‘fatal’ end to his pain. Taking on human form, the djinn begins granting wishes in exchange for souls, while seeking out Alex who becomes the instrument of his evil plans…

Wishmaster

Presented by horror maestro Wes Craven and produced by Pierre David (Scanners), Wishmaster was one of those 1990’s titles that I missed first time round. But now that it’s undergone a re-master, I thought it high time to check it out. And it’s not as bad as I expected.

Peter Atkins, the screenwriter of the first two Hellraiser sequels, crafts a pleasing slice of horror hokum with the genuinely engaging Lauren (The Young and the Restless) in the hot seat as the fearless female protagonist. Atkins also provides some delicious dialogue for Divoff’s camp Pinhead meets Freddy Krueger creation to hiss under the mountain of prosthetics (to me, he looks slightly reminiscent of Tim Curry’s Lord of Darkness in Legend).

Wishmaster (1997)

Fantasy fiction fans will have a field day recognising the surnames of some of the characters (including ‘Charles’ Beaumont and ‘August’ Derleth), while the cameos from some icons of the horror genre are the real reason to check this title out. Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Tony Todd (Candyman) and Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) all get the tables turned on them with some inventive death scenes; Phantasm’s Reggie Bannister pops up as a pharmacist, while Angus Scrimm narrates; and there are also turns from Ted Raimi (Evil Dead), John Carpenter favourite George ‘Buck’ Flower as a drunken bum (of course), Verne Toyer (as a mini djinn), sfx guru Tom Savini and the film’s director Robert Kurtzman.

Wishmaster (1997)

Wishmaster did reasonable business on its release, despite some critical drubbing, and the character rose again for three sequels – but they turned out to be a textbook case of ‘the law of diminishing returns’. Even the versatile Divoff ditched the character after the first sequel (though he did end up playing a similar role in 2000, playing Mephistopheles in Brian Yuzna’s Faust: Love of the Damned). But do check this one out – especially as there’s a drinking game just waiting to happen with that hit list of horror cameos.

Order from Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentary with director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
• Audio commentary with actors Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren and Robert Kurtzman
• Isolated score selections and audio interview with composer Harry Manfredini
Out of the Bottle: Interviews with Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet
The Magic Words: Interview with screenwriter Peter Atkins
The Djinn and Alexandra: Interviews with Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
Captured Visions: Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
Wish List: Interviews with Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Ted Raimi
• Trailers, TV & Radio Spots
• Archive ‘Making Of’ featurette & EPK
• Behind-the-scenes footage compilation
• Galleries

SEE THE FILM ON THE BIG SCREE: Throughout March, Lionsgate UK are taking over the weekly, free entry Monday Film Club at The Alibi in Dalston, East London, with Wishmaster being screened on Monday 19 March. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633296950113773/

Wishmaster copyright: Programme Content and Photography: © 1997 Artisan Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. Package Design: ©2018 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK. All Rights Reserved.

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The Lair of the White Worm (1988) | Ken Russell’s wild take on Bram Stoker’s novel uncoils on Blu-ray

Lair of the White Worm (1988)

From Lionsgate UK comes The Lair of the White Worm, as part of their ongoing Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray.

Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) unearths an unusual animal skull while digging in the garden of a Derbyshire B&B run by his girlfriend Mary (Sammi Davis) and her sister Eve (Catherine Oxenberg).

Could it be linked to the local legend of a worm-like dragon (the Lambton Worm), which was said to have been slain by a distant relative of the current Lord of the Manor, James D’Ampton (Hugh Grant)? Could it have something to do with the disappearance of the girls parents many years beforehand? And why does the strangely alluring Lady (Amanda Donohoe) steal it?

As our our Scooby gang investigate, they unwittingly uncoil a centuries old mystery involving a pagan cult and human sacrifice…

Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Mercurial director Ken Russell treads a fine line between titillation and terror in this, his wildly OTT tongue-in-cheek adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1911 gothic novel. Amanda Donohoe camps it up big time as the very wicked Lady Silvia Marsh, a country-house aristocrat who enjoys worshipping a snake God and fanging the locals while wearing next to nothing. A shaggy-haired Peter Capaldi (who has since earned himself iconic status playing a certain Time Lord) gets an hilarious scene warding off a bloodsucking copper with a pair of bagpipes, while a fit looking Hugh Grant (fresh off the Edwardian gay love story Maurice) plays it typically posh and daft.

Russell’s schoolboy humour might be a tad lame, but his shocking visual asides at Catholicism (nuns and dildos) are wonderfully irreverent, and the practical special effects are an inventive highlight. Donohoe’s tight-fitting costumes are also a seductive treat and the chilly location shoots that include the Peak District and Manifold Valley in Staffordshire are gorgeously lensed. Stoker purists, however, will probably be greatly offended.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentaries with director Ken Russell and Lisi Russell
Worm Food: Special effects artists Geoffrey Portass, Neil Gorton and Paul Jones (who were all 18 or 19 at the time) talk about their experiences working on the film
Cutting for Ken: interview with editor Peter Davies
Trailers From Hell featuring producer Dan Ireland
Mary, Mary: interview with actress Sammi Davis
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery

NEWS JUST IN: Throughout March, Lionsgate UK are taking over the weekly, free entry Monday Film Club at The Alibi in Dalston, East London, with The Lair of the White Worm being screened on Monday 12 March. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/802548666603104/

Lair of the White Worm copyright: Programme Content and Photography: © 1988 Vestron Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. Package Design: © 2018 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Jigsaw (2017) | The horror franchise gets a reboot – but is it any good?

Jigsaw_Steelbook_3DFrom Lionsgate UK comes Jigsaw, the eighth instalment in the top-grossing franchise, on digital (19 February) and Blu-ray, DVD, Steelbook and a new full series Saw box-set all (26 February).

Jigsaw (2017)

10 years after the death of the infamous Jigsaw killer aka John Kramer (Tobin Bell), Detectives Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie, Memento) and Hunt (Clé Bennett, Heroes Reborn) investigate a series of murders bearing the unique modus operandi of the Jigsaw killer. Has Kramer really returned from the grave to remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a killer with designs of their own?

Jigsaw (2017)

Director Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Predestination) go back to basics with their reboot, which ditches the torture porn for a pure chill-ride that aims to recapture the same suspenseful thrills as Se7en – only bloodier. Matt Passmore (The Glades), Laura Vandervoort (Supergirl), Paul Braunstein (The Thing), Brittany Allen (All My Children) and Mandela Van Peebles (Baadassss!) are Jigsaw’s targets this time round, while Tobin Bell is back in his iconic role – and it’s not just a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameo.

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Horror fans will lap up the inventive death scenes, which involve booby-trapped rooms and firearms, and some truly deadly laser cutters. Kudos go to the film’s big set piece which involves a giant spiralator and a motorbike. In an homage to the franchise’s original inspiration, 1970’s The Abominable Dr Phibes, one trap sees the victims choosing between three syringes that contain a poison antidote, a saline solution and a flesh-melting acid.

Given its open ending and the huge business it did at the box-office (despite the mostly unfavourable reviews), it looks like the Saw franchise just might begin anew. Personally, I rather enjoyed it… unlike the previous ones.

Jigsaw (2017)

SPECIAL FEATURES ON THE BLU-RAY AND DVD
• Audio Commentary with producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules and Peter Block
I Speak for the Dead: The Legacy of Saw: A feature-length appreciation of the franchise, with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew of the reboot discussing its visual design, sound score, special effects and much more.
The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props: A fascinating featurette (around 6min) in which Don Post’s pig masks and the iconic Billy puppet make a welcome return.

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Origin Wars (2016) | This buff bromance in outer space is an enjoyable slice of Saturday matinee sci-fi

ORIGIN WARS

Set in the future in a time of interplanetary colonisation, Sy (Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz), escapes a brutal prison where mysterious experiments have been taking place. After orchestrating an escape, Sy meets Kane (former Neighbours star, Daniel MacPherson), a lieutenant working for an off-world military contractor – EXOR (overseen by Rachel Griffiths’ Assad-like General Lynex), who have set in motion a plan to wipe out all life from the face of the planet in an attempt to cover up their crimes – when their terrifying ‘experiments’ escape.

Now, the unlikely pair must work together to rescue Kane’s daughter, Indi (Teagan Crof). Teaming up with a pair of outlaws, Gyp (Isabel Lucas) and Bill (Luke Ford), it’s a race against time for the group as they clash with EXOR in an attempt to escape while battling the marauding savage creatures…

From writer-director Shane Abbess (Infini, Gabriel), Origin Wars (aka The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One) features an inventive action-packed screenplay, an oddball bunch of characters and some damn impressive practical creature effects (think Tremors meets Labyrinth).

Newcomer Teagan Crof might be a bit on the whiny side, but Isabel Lucas and Luke Ford rock as the rough diamond couple whose armoured prison van (which reminded me of George Peppard’s Landmaster in 1977’s Damnation Alley) plays a vital role in getting our hunky bromancing heroes Lutz and McPherson to their final destination. Don’t let this an enjoyable slice of Saturday matinee sci-fi pass under your radar…

Available on Digital Download 17 July and DVD and Blu-ray 24 July, 2017 from Lionsgate UK

DVD Amazon link: http://amzn.eu/3xRG7Gf
Blu-Ray Amazon Link: http://amzn.eu/fos5MDh

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The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) | Hammer’s first horror looks fresher than ever on Blu-ray

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Happy 57th birthday to The Curse of Frankenstein, which premiered in the UK on this day in 1957. Here’s my original review of the 2012 Blu-ray restoration from Lionsgate.

The creature created by man and forgotten by nature!
Drawing from Mary Shelley’s original 1816 gothic novel, director Terence Fisher’s 1957 adaptation recounts the grisly tale of how aristocratic scientist Baron Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with creating the perfect human brought out the monster within himself.

(…) will haunt you forever!
The Curse of Frankenstein was Hammer’s first colour horror film and an international box office hit that turned the studio into the house that dripped blood. It also made stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, who would cement their horror credentials in Hammer’s 1958 follow-up The Horror of Dracula. But they certainly proved their star quality in this flamboyant melodrama – Cushing’s Baron is an elegant, restrained performance that neatly avoids tipping over into parody, while Lee’s skillful exercise in mime imbues his mute brain-damaged creature with real emotion.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Please try not to faint
Over half a century after its original release, The Curse of Frankenstein has been given a longed-for high definition restoration (in 2012), with the inclusion of an eyeball shot that was deemed too scary back in the conservative 1950s. It’s also gorgeous to look at, especially the Baron’s lab – which is littered with smoking vats of coloured liquids and whirring machines emitting electrical sparks – and the bosomy period costumes worn by the film’s leading ladies, Hazel Court and Valerie Gaunt.

The Lionsgate 3-disc Double Play includes a Blu-ray disc and two DVDs shock-full of exciting new content that vintage horror fans will appreciate. These include three documentaries – there’s a lovely one devoted to Peter Cushing – plus two bonuses, Terence Fisher’s rarely-screened 1953 sci-fi Four Sided Triangle, and the 1958 TV pilot Tales of Frankenstein, starring Anton Diffring.

The Curse of Frankenstein was released on Double Play (Blu-ray and DVD) on 15 October 2012

The Hammer horror can also be rented from BFI Player (£3.50/£2.98)

Read my review of 1973’s Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell which is also out on Blu-ray in the UK

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEz02uxCPOM%5D

Machete Kills (2013) | Robert Rodriquez’s action thriller spoof sequel now yours to own

machete kills

 

OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
Ex-Federale agent Machete (Danny Trejo) is recruited by the US President (Charlie Sheen aka Carlos Estevez) to take down a madman revolutionary (Demian Bichir) and a billionaire arms dealer (Mel Gibson) who plan to spread war and anarchy across the planet. But hot on Machete’s trail is a vengeful bordello madam (Sofia Vergara) and a shapeshifting hitman, all played by Cuba Gooding Jr, Lady Gaga, Walton Goggins and Antonio Banderas.

 

BRING ON THE CHEESE
This latino cousin to Austin Power in Goldmember is Moonraker Mexican style. Robert Rodriguez has so much fun with his James Bond and Star Wars nods that it’s hard to not love his second helping of the action thriller spoof that started out as a fake trailer in Tarantino’s Grindhouse. The action sequences are fast and furious and laugh-out-loud inventive (I particularly loved Sofia Vergara’s double-d bra gun) and the big-name cameos are a real hoot, especially Amber Heard’s deliciously deadly Miss San Antonio.

THE VERDICT
A must see popcorn treat – with salsa on the side.

Machete Kills is out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK from 17th February from Lionsgate. There’s also a Limited Edition Steelbook featuring artwork from Empire’s magazine’s competition winner Thomas Walker. Check it out on Zavvi.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyKcywjDWro%5D

You’re Next | This home invasion action thriller is bloody good fun!

You're Next

THE FATEFUL DAY
The wealthy Paul and Avery Davison’s 35th wedding anniversary dinner with their four grown-up children and their partners is a brought to a sudden halt when a gang of masked assailants wage an all-out assault on their secluded Missouri estate. But neither the attackers, nor their victims, have counted on tough-as-nails Aussie girl Erin (Sharni Vinson), who has the survival skills needed to fight back…

You're Next

THE LOWDOWN
After being screened to great acclaim in Toronto and at SXSW in 2011, director Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s You’re Next was quickly snapped up by Lionsgate, but took a while to get a theatrical release. But it was worth the wait and ended up becoming one of the most talked about horror films of 2013. Now, the brutal horrorfest is heading home on Blu-ray and DVD, and if you haven’t already caught it, then here’s your chance.

You're Next

If you’re expecting another cynical flesh and blood show, think again, because You’re Next is one of the most entertaining and well-crafted home invasion thrillers around, and it’s all down to four factors: a smart script that doesn’t take it self too seriously; well-thought out characters – especially Joe Swanberg’s nasty Drake, who provides much of the film’s comic relief; some heart-racing action, involving sophisticated traps, axes, crossbows and machetes; and Sharni Vinson playing a one-woman Aussie Rambo, who you really don’t want to mess with. A cool cult in the making.

THE RELEASE
The UK Blu-ray and DVD release from Lionsgate includes No Ordinary Home Invasion: The Making of You’re Next featurette and an audio commentary from Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Shari Vinson and Barbara Crampton.

You’re Next also screens on Sky Box Office in the UK from Monday 13 January 2014

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez0YcXsWL8I%5D

Spiders 3D (2013) | Don’t get caught in the web of this Crap Giant Insect sci-fi

Spiders 3D

THE SPIDER QUEEN FROM OUTER SPACE?
New York City is placed under quarantine when a Soviet space station breaks up over the metropolis, releasing a mutant species of venomous spider which start growing while spinning a web for their new queen. But the precious egg has fallen into the hands of a transit worker (Patrick Muldoon) and his ex-wife (Christa Campbell), whose daughters are being held hostage by rogue elements within the military, which want the egg to create a new kind of super weapon.

Patrick Muldoon in Spiders

GET ME OUT OF HERE!
With promises of giant arachnids causing mass destruction of Manhattan in eye-popping 3D, this should have been a most egg-cellent sci-fi adventure. But it’s no better than any of the other budget creature features that director Tibor Takács or production company Nu Image have done for the Syfy channel.

Filmed in Bulgaria, the entire movie – which consists of lots of running around – takes place on the set of a replica New York street scene draped in badly painted signage and populated by a handful of bored-looking extras. Patrick Muldoon, whose no stranger to battling bug-eyed monsters, having starred in Starship Troopers as well as Takacs’ equally dreadful Ice Spiders, is the 3D film’s big-name star, while Christa Campbell surely deserves a Razzie award for worst performance ever – she can’t even whimper convincingly.

Patrick Muldoon in Spiders

The CGI spiders are OK but look cartoon-like even in 2D, while the film’s big-set piece in which the big bad momma spider rises up from her subterranean lair is just laughable – she looks about as menacing as Alice in Wonderland’s grinning Cheshire cat. If it hadn’t taken itself so seriously, this could have been as much fun as Sharknado (which also out on DVD this month), but its so woeful that it ranks worse than 1975’s The Giant Spider Invasion, which tried to pass off VW Beetles covered in fur for its oversized arachnids, but remains far more entertaining.

THE RELEASE
Spiders 3D is available on 2D DVD and 3D Blu-ray from Lionsgate UK, which includes a ‘Making of featurette, and interviews with the cast and crew. Read more on Facebook.

THE VERDICT
Give this Crap Giant Insect sci-fi the flick.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4bjDV1OC0I%5D

[youtube:

Machete Kills (2013) | Danny Trejo’s Mexican Lethal Weapon faces off Mel Gibson in Robert Rodriguez’s action spoof sequel

Machete Kills

OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
Ex-Federale agent Machete (Danny Trejo) is recruited by the US President (Charlie Sheen aka Carlos Estevez) to take down a madman revolutionary (Demian Bichir) and a billionaire arms dealer (Mel Gibson) who plan to spread war and anarchy across the planet. But hot on Machete’s trail is a vengeful bordello madam (Sofia Vergara) and a hired assassin with multiple identities (Cuba Gooding Jr, Lady Gaga, Walt Goggins and Antonio Banderas).

Danny Trejo in Machete Kills

BRING ON THE CHEESE
This latino cousin to Austin Power in Goldmember is Moonraker Mexican style. Robert Rodriguez has so much fun with his James Bond and Star Wars nods that it’s hard to not love his second helping of the action thriller spoof that started out as a fake trailer in Tarantino’s Grindhouse. The action sequences are fast and furious and laugh-out-loud inventive (I particularly loved Sofia Vergara’s double-d bra gun) and the big-name cameos are a real hoot, especially Amber Heard’s deliciously deadly Miss San Antonio.

THE VERDICT
A must see popcorn treat – with salsa on the side.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyKcywjDWro%5D
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