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Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers | A deadly game of felines vs vampires – but which side will you be on?

From Eureka Entertainment comes Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray as part of the Eureka Classics (26 October)

Alice Krige and Brian Krause star in this supernatural thriller tale, directed by Mick Garris, about a pair of nomadic shape-shifting psychic vampires who prey on virtuous young women.

After fleeing Bodega Bay in California, the incestuous mother and son, Mary and Charles, set up home in Travis, Indiana and soon they have their werecat eyes on a new victim Tanya (Mädchen Amick). But when Tanya fights back, Mary’s full fury is unleashed…

Based on an original story written by King, this 1992 US horror was a big success for director Garris, making his first big studio film – although critics gave it a mauling. Somehow, I missed it first time around, but I’m so pleased it’s been given a new lease of life on Blu-ray.

It’s the cat’s meow and feline lovers will enjoy it so much – so will genre fans as it boasts some great in-jokes, plus cameos from not only King but also Clive Barker, Tobe Hooper, Joe Dante, John Landis – and Mark Hamill (sporting a bushy moustache).

Fresh-faced and in their prime, Krige and Krause (who was on contract with Columbia following his star turn in Return to the Blue Lagoon) ooze sensuality and charisma, while Amick (who had just come off Twin Peaks) makes for a spirited heroine. But the film’s stand-out star is Sparks the cat, who plays the heroic Clovis. He’s spunky, adorable and worth the price of buying this Blu-ray alone.

The Eureka Classics Blu-ray includes some terrific special features, with some insightful interviews from the cast and crew that are well worth tuning into – but only after you’ve seen the movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
  • DTS-HD MA 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 audio options
  • English subtitles (SDH)
  • Audio Commentary with Mick Garris and film historian Lee Gambin (this was recorded during the Covid pandemic)
  • Audio Commentary with Mick Garris, Mädchen Amick, and Brian Krause
  • Feline Trouble: Interview with director Mick Garris
  • When Charles Met Tanya: Conversation with Mädchen Amick And Brian Krause
  • Mother & More: Interview with actress Alice Krige
  • Creatures & Cats: The FX of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers featurette
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann

Creepshow 2 | George A Romero’s second helping of Stephen King tales gets a 2k restoration

For this second issue of his horror anthology Creepshow, George A Romero stepped away from the camera and took on screenwriting duties, adapting three Stephen King tales, while former cinematographer Michael Gornick took the helm. The results are very much a mixed bag, but still great fun for both King and Romero fans.

In Old Chief Wood’nhead, the elderly owners of a general store in a run-down Arizona town are terrorised by three hoodlums who steal a local tribe’s sacred treasures (a bag of turquoise jewellery). In revenge, an old wooden cigar store Indian statue comes to life and hunts them down. This story is the best of the bunch in my books thanks to the lovely performances given by George Kennedy and 1940s screen legend Dorothy Lamour (in her final screen role) as the store owners, and the way the statue moves is chillingly effective. Also, there’s an affectionate nod to the vintage 1950s TV Wester series, The Cisco Kid, which I have fond memories watching as a youngster.

In The Raft, four college friends head to a remote lake for some swimming and sex, but become trapped on a pontoon by a flesh-eating oil slick. This tale is my least favourite mainly due to the obnoxious characters who I wanted to die even before they got to the lake. Good riddance, I say. However, there’s one scene involving broken limbs that’s a real gross-out.

In The Hitch-hiker, Lois Chiles (Moonraker) plays an adulterous businesswoman who knocks down a hitchhiker (Barbershop’s Tom Wright) and speeds off. But she soon gets some unwanted company when he keeps reappearing. This final tale does overstay its welcome, but with each successive viewing, it has grown on me. Its ghoulishly grisly, but also very funny – especially the state that the car ends up in. Chiles is excellent and the pay-off is a hoot!

A co-production between Romero and Richard Rubinstein’s Laurel Entertainment and Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, 1987’s Creepshow 2 was panned by critics but scored well at the box office; and while it’s not a patch on the original, it’s still worth a revisit. Plus, you get to see Tom Savini in some great make-up as the Creep in the animated wraparound story in which a comic-mad boy fights off bullies with the help of some giant venus flytrap creatures. Horror kids rejoice!

Arrow Video’s Limited Edition Blu-ray release includes the following special features…

• Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original Uncompressed PCM Mono 1.0, Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround Audio Options
• Optional English subtitles
• Audio Commentary with director Michael Gornick
Poncho’s Last Ride – interview with actor Daniel Beer
The Road to Dover – interview with actor Tom Wright
Screenplay for a Sequel – interview with screenwriter George A Romero
Tales from the Creep – interview with actor and make-up artist Tom Savini
Nightmares in Foam Rubber – archive featurette on the special effects, including interviews with FX artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero
My Friend Rick – Berger on his special effects mentor Rick Baker
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage
• Image Gallery
• Trailers & TV Spots
• Original Screenplay (BD-ROM Content)
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth
Creepshow 2: Pinfall – Limited Edition Booklet featuring the never-before-seen comic adaptation of the unfilmed Creepshow 2 segment Pinfall by artist Jason Mayoh
• Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Mike Saputo

The Dark Half (1993) | A twisted thriller from horror masterminds George A Romero and Stephen King

Horror writer Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton) hopes to distance himself from his murder novels and from George Stark, the pseudonymous name he has used to author them. To achieve this, he cooks up a murder of his own: a publicity stunt that should lay Stark to rest forever.

But when the people around him are found gruesomely slain – and his own fingerprints dot the crime scenes – Beaumont is dumbfounded until he learns that Stark has taken on a life of his own… and begun a gruesome quest for vengeance!

The combination of Stephen King and George A Romero had a hit-and-miss film start with 1982’s Creepshow, but it moved up a notch in this clever adaptation of King’s story from 1993 which makes the most of its Jekyll and Hyde storyline by slowly building up the tension and then keeping the suspense aloft rather than relying solely on gory visual shocks.

Hutton gives a bravura performance in the dual role of both Beaumont and Stark, and there’s some strikingly chilling moments (especially the digitally realised flocks of sparrows that permeate the story and are key to the climax). Along for the scary ride are Amy Madigan (Field of Dreams), Julie Harris (The Haunting) and in his final film role character actor Royal Dano.

The Dark Half is available on Blu-ray in the UK in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition from Eureka Entertainment, with the following special features…

• 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray (with a progressive encode on the DVD)
• LPCM audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray) and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary with George A Romero (this is a must-listen – but watch the film first)
Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show [38 mins] – A very young Jonathan Ross’ documentary on Gerorge A Romero which originally aired on UK TV in 1989
The Sparrows Are Flying Again! The Making of ‘The Dark Half’ [36mins] – Retrospective with Romero, special make-up effects creators Everett Burrell and John Vulich, visual effects supervisor Kevin Kutchaver, actor Robert Joy, editor Pasquale Buba and more!
• Deleted Scenes
• A selection of Behind-the-scenes and archival video material
• Original Storyboards
• TV spot
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible sleeve
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
• Limited Edition Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Simon Ward

Available to order from:
Eureka Store
Amazon

 

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.

DISC ONE
• 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]

Room 237 (2012) | Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining gets a fun, but freaky deconstruction

Room 237 (2012)

Ever wondered if Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was anything more than just a scary movie, and that they were there hidden meanings lurking within each masterfully conceived frame? Well, Room 237 does just that. Director Rodney Ascher takes nine segments of Kubrick’s film adaptation of the Stephen King novel and lets five über-fans present their radical theories, decoding the hidden symbols and messages that have been ‘purposely’ buried in the film by the notoriously meticulous director. The results are… bonkers, to say the least!

Room 237 (2012)

Some of the notions are straight out of a media studies course in semiotics (I remember those, thank you John Fiske), some are downright ridiculous, and others are quite convincing. But whether Kubrick was actually making a holocaust film disguised as a horror, commenting on the genocide of Native American Indians, or apologising for taking part in the faking of the 1969 Moon landings, is neither here or there because this documentary is enthralling entertainment.

Stephen King, however, would probably disagree – the author turned it off half way through, according to an interview he gave to Rolling Stone in October, because he felt the filmmakers were ‘reaching for things that weren’t there’. Whatever you choose to believe or not, in the end, this playful deconstruction will give you cause to revisit Kubrick’s chilling masterpiece. Then again, it may be just an elaborate subliminal hoax to get us to do just that?

Room 237 (2012)

Worth a mention is the soundtrack by Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson. It’s outstanding, and a must to seek out in its own right as it evokes Goblin and John Carpenter, late 1970s prog rock and early 1980s electronic music (all my favourites). Death Waltz Records in the UK released a limited edition CD in late 2013, and it’s since become quite the collector’s item. If you want to add your theories, check out the film’s official US Facebook page (click here).

Room 237 is available on DVD  and to stream online from Metrodome

 

Evil Dead 2 (1987)| Sam Raimi’s gory slapstick masterpiece is coming at ya on Blu-ray!

Evil Dead II Blu-Ray

KISS YOUR NERVES GOODBYE
Ash (Bruce Campbell), the sole survivor of The Evil Dead, returns to the same Tennessee cabin in the woods where supernatural forces are again awakened after he meddles with an ancient book, the Naturan Demanto. With his only escape route destroyed by the evil forces, Ash takes on the legions of the damned… Welcome to Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn – director Sam Raimi’s 1987 sequel to The Evil Dead and the prequel to his 1992 medieval mirth-fest Army of Darkness.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

THE SEQUEL TO THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE IN GRUELLING TERROR
1981’s The Evil Dead was basically Sam Raimi and some college mates (including actor Bruce Campbell) making a goofy $100,000 horror movie. Despite the miniscule budget, they created a ‘ferociously original’ horror (according to Stephen King) that has since become the stuff of legend.

So how do you top one of the most inventive horror movies ever made? Well, you remake the original as a dark comedy using the same manic energy, but with even more gore, violence and humour. It’s a gamble that also paid off, and earned Bruce Campbell and his chainsaw wielding alter ego Ash a place in movie history.

Raimi and co also gave fans an OTT slapstick carnival Ghost Train ride where they could cringe, scream and laugh out loud in equal measure. To quote Campbell, the sequel just ‘leaves a good taste in your mouth’; while actor Richard Domeier, who played Ed in the movie, perfectly sums up the film’s enduring legacy: ‘It’s like a classic rock album, the next generation still loves it’.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

THE BLU-RAY RELEASE
The new HD transfer is grainy in parts, but that’s expected owing to the film’s original stock. The special effects and the cartoon-like monsters also haven’t aged well, but then the filmmaker’s weren’t out to make a perfectly crafted film, and its those imperfections that just add to the fun of watching this comedy horror classic.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

THE EXTRAS
The seven-part featurette Swallowed Souls includes on-set footage and new interviews to illustrate every aspect of the production; Road to Wadesboro goes back to the North Carolina locations, where the cabin and tree are found still standing; while Cabin Fever features the video diaries of special make-up effects creator Greg Nicotero (best known today for The Walking Dead). Also included are the making-of featurette The Gore the Merrier, narrated photo gallery Behind the Screams, and commentary featuring Raimi, Campbell, Nicotero and Scott Spiegel, which also appeared on the Anchor Bay DVD.

Special Edition Blu-ray is released through StudioCanal in the UK

Evil Dead II also screens today (Saturday 11 January) on Film4 at 11.25pm

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lM3NPeEG24%5D

Carrie (2013) | Stephen King’s horror classic gets a gleefully ghoulish update

Carrie (2013)

GO TO YOUR CLOSET AND PRAY
Chloe Grace Moretz (she of Kick Ass fame) takes on the role of lonely outcast Carrie White who, suffering constant humiliation and emotional abuse, exacts terrible revenge on her high school and her religious zealot mother (Julianne Moore) when she discovers she has telekinetic powers.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore in Carrie

THERE WILL BE JUDGEMENT
For this contemporary update of Stephen King’s 1974 novel, director Kimberly Peirce (best known for 1999’s Oscar-winning gender-swap drama Boys Don’t Cry) and screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who penned and produced episodes of the LGBT-friendly high-school musical Glee) have fused much of King’s original text with Brian De Palma and Lawrence D Cohen’s  1976 adaptation. But rather than put a fresh new spin on King’s story, the film-makers have ended up creating a carbon copy of that film – just updated for a new audience.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Ansel Elgort in Carrie

All of King’s principal protagonists are here: the remorseful Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), who convinces her nice jock boyfriend Tommy Ross (Ansell Elgort) to take Carrie to the prom; kindly gym teacher Ms Desjardin (Judy Greer); and vengeful Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), who enlists her bad boy beau Billy Nolan (Alex Russell) into helping her dump a bucket of pigs blood on Carrie during prom night with tragic results.

  ***SPOILERS AHEAD***
As the drama unfolds, you’re constantly reminded of De Palma’s film as all the classic scenes are replicated here. As such, you find yourself just hanging out for when Carrie finally unleashes her telekinetic terror in a blaze of pyrotechnics that turns her prom into a disco bloodbath inferno. Waving her arms about, Moretz’s Carrie conducts the death and destruction like a possessed stage magician, and its in these scenes that the film excels, culminating in Carrie’s final showdown with her nemesis Chris, who so deserves her fate, and her Bible-bashing momma, who gets crucified with a range of household implements.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie

Moretz does her best with her socially awkward character who just wants to be normal, but she certainly can’t hide her natural beauty just by slouching her shoulders. And while Moretz tries her darnest not to imitate Sissy Spacek’s Carrie, Julianne Moore’s self-harming Margaret just screams Piper Laurie. Nevertheless, it’s all tremendously OTT, if highly reminiscent, fun to watch. And so are the final scenes in which Carrie’s house literally caves in on her and Sue visits Carries grave.

MY VERDICT
This Carrie may have missed out on capturing the true terror lurking in King’s original novel, but as a contemporary retelling of De Palma’s 1976 classic its gleefully ghoulish and thanks to the film’s teen angst melodramatics and Moore’s hysterical turn, it might just be a camp classic in the making. Hopefully it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the musical version (yes, there really was one) or the forgettable 2002 TV film.

THE TRAILER
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RmF5krH3-s%5D

Creepshow (1982) | George A Romero and Stephen King’s horror anthology is a perfect Halloween treat

Creepshow on Blu-ray

This 1982 horror anthology, based on the classic EC Comics, was a big hit for director George A Romero, who’s best known for his visceral Living Dead franchise. Using animated comic strip opening and closing credits, Romero sets out to make audiences scream, cringe and shiver with five ghoulish tales penned by Stephen King.

The Creep

In Father’s Day, a controlling patriarch (Martin‘s John Amplas) returns from the grave to claim his birthday cake from his horrid kin (Viveca Lindfors and Carrie Nye); The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill concerns a backwoods farmer (Stephen King) turning into a fungus after breaking open a meteorite; Something to Tide You Over finds a jealous husband (Leslie Neilsen) burying his wife (Dawn of the Dead’s Gaylen Ross) and her lover (Ted Danson) up to their necks on a beach; College professor (Hal Holbrook) gets rid of his embarrassing wife (Adrienne Barbeau) when his ‘friend’ (Fritz Weaver) discovers the living contents of The Crate; and They’re Creeping Up On You sees a ruthless tycoon (EG Marshall), who treats people like vermin, get overrun by cockroaches.

Fluffy in Creepshow

The fun in watching Creepshow isn’t in the ‘surprise’ endings, but in the crazy performances of the guest actors; the way in which Romero evokes the look and feel of the original comics; and the super special effects, especially The Crate‘s Fluffy (as the creature is affectionately known). It’s a curious mix of black humour and real fright, but well worthy of a Halloween revisit, especially now its been given HD makeover.

Creepshow

THE RELEASE
The Second Sight (Region B) Blu-ray release includes an audio commentary with George A Romero and special effects creator Tom Savini; the feature-length Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow; a 26-minute featurette with Tom Savini; deleted scenes; trailer, TV spot and stills gallery.

THE VERDICT
It’s a must see every Halloween.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiJe08ZJiGM%5D

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