Tuesday, October 6, 2015

HolidazeBlog Halloween Challenge Day 5: Favorite Horror Character

This question inspired a frenzy of internal responses. Who is my favorite Horror character? What is a Hor(or character? Is that a good guy or bad guy or is it an icon? Someone I'd want to be or aspire to be like? Is it the character a fear who actually scare me or entertains me the best? It's a wide open question, intentionally and almost as cruel as what's your favorite Horror movie.

I think my response could easily change depending on how I'm to take the question ie favorite in what way? I'll give you two.

1. Character I want to be or aspire to be like: Chief Martin Brody from Jaws
2. Character that scares me as a villain: Michael Myers

These two represent the polar opposites for me. As a kid I'd play Brody, chasing and killing the shark. Rarely did I venture into Quint territory. While I often won't refer to Jaws as a true Horror movie, I considered it one as a child, and so Brody I love. This guy is righteous and flawed but funny and good. He smokes a lot. He shoots his gun a lot. He kills the bad guy twice. He knows how to get angry and deliver great one liners. I watched Jaws on endless repeat as a kid and always admired Chief Brody as a father and as a hero.

Michael Myers is a whole other story. Myers terrifies me to this day. I still wake up with nightmares of him breaking into my house and having to fend him off to escape. I rarely do and even when I do it's to a far worse place. I love this guy. He gives me my own personal Horror movies in my dreams. I hesitate to even call them nightmares because they are so perfect. I always remember them, and I've even thought it'd be nice to try to consciously have a Myers dream so that I could enjoy it more. Try to use my "horror skills" to defeat him the way no one ever seems to. I love his mask. I love all his masks even the ones I don't like as much, I love. I love all his movies... ALL OF THEM. I do not care that Busta Rhymes says "Treat or Treat Motherfucker". I do not care that you dislike it. You can go fuck yourself and your lack of appreciation for the comedic value if not the intriguing story that unfolds, fabricated by a reality TV program (Note to self: settle down). I never play as Michael Myers and I did own the part 4 mask when I was a kid. I want them all but haven't started collecting just yet. Favorite Halloween is part II.

For my money, Jeff Zornow draws Myers the best in comic form. That's why I used his pic to represent my favorite baddie.

24 HOUR RENTAL Acquired for US by XLrator; Coming to HULU!

I don't watch a whole lot of new shows. I find it really difficult to get into them and just when you've invested the maximum amount of time into one, the cancel it or the whole thing flops. So that's just my little preamble to let you know how much of a curmudgeon I am when it comes to the television and the shows that emit from it. 

This is where I tell you that I am excited for a new show. 24 Hour Rental, a Canadian program is coming to the US via Hulu courtesy of XLrator (a brand I trust). Check out the release info below. The whole thing focuses on a video store trying to make it in the digital age. Now that is a challenge and one worthy of a show. If it's as half as funny as Clerks, I'm in. 

In the meantime check out the Vimeo preview!

From XLrator:

LOS ANGELES (October 6, 2015) – XLrator Media has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the edgy Canadian T.V. series 24 HOUR RENTAL from Reel One Entertainment. The 13 half-hour episodes will premiere October 30, 2015 exclusively on XLrator Media’s MACABRE Collection on Hulu before going to other platforms in 2016.

“It’s The Sopranos meets Clerks in this over-the-top gangster satire that pushes the boundaries of mainstream television and is tailor-made for binge watching” said XLrator Media CEO Barry Gordon. “We are making 24 HOUR RENTAL available exclusively for digital distribution starting with Hulu, and will aggressively market the series to build a national audience of discerning fans who readily seek edgy smart programming on the top digital platforms.”

24 HOUR RENTAL was created by Frank Massa, directed by George Mihalka (My Bloody Valentine), co-written by Al Kratina and Mihalka, and stars Romano Orzari (Turbo Kid), Adam Kenneth Wilson, Aaron Berg, Vlasta Vrana, Mike Smith (Trailer Park Boys) and Michael Biehn (The Terminator). It was produced by Reel One Entertainment, Kim Yu and Neil Bregman and executive produced by Tom Berry, George Mihalka and Eris Salvatori.

“Reel One Entertainment is extremely excited to partner with XLrator Media to introduce 24 HOUR RENTAL to the U.S. market. The show’s unique mix of crime story and comedy should attract two diverse but strong fan bases,” said Tom Berry, CEO of Reel One Entertainment.

24 HOUR RENTAL follows former Mafia boss Tracker (Romano Orzari), who having barely avoided early retirement in a shallow grave, now operates a seedy video store. Struggling to stay afloat in the Internet age, Tracker runs his shop as a front for a host of petty crimes, from fencing jewelry to peddling dope cut with Drano and desperation, all in hopes of returning to power.

In addition to 24 HOUR RENTAL, the XLrator Media’s MACABRE collection on Hulu will add three new genre films in October: Poker Night starring Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito, Titus Welliver and Beau Mirchoff, Feed the Gods and Strange Blood.

Monday, October 5, 2015

HolidazeBlog Halloween Challenge Day 5: Haunted House

 I've been in a few haunted houses over the years. Some "real". Some created by humans in order to scare each other for fun. I've been to the Bates Motel in PA, Headless Horseman in NY. The Fright Dome in Nevada. I got to visit the Goratorium before it closed in Vegas and went through the haunted attraction at Madame Tussauds in Vegas. I remember going to Blairsden and trying to find Colby Mansion before it burned to the ground. Henryville House in PA, Shades of Death Road, Clinton Road... even the Haunted House at the Land of Make Believe... lots of spooky places that were a whole lotta fun.

The ultimate for me was Castle Dracula on the boardwalk in Wildwood NJ. It's gone now. It burned to the fucking ground and that makes me so angry that I can barely even discuss it. It was my first haunt. I remember a few things from my visit. I remember a man jumping out of a picture when the lights dropped as a storm rumbled around us yelling and screaming. We then got to stare at body parts dangling in a mad scientists lab. One of the most terrifying things for a young me (Maybe I was 4 or 5) was to watch a woman go to the Guillotine and have her last request be to have me be next. "Take the little blond boy next"! Her head was chopped off. Blood drooled into a bucket. It was brilliant. The whole thing ended with a strange, tight room where I was forced to stare at a strobe lit Frankenstein. It was very loud and I cried.

Then I went back... again and again... year after year. It was expensive, but my parents always took me back. They even had an underground, boat ride that wasn't terrible and the fake spiders kinda killed me. Each year they'd adjust a few things in the house. One year the walls would appear to close as if they were going to crush us. Another you'd go high into the castle and walk around able to see the outskirts of the amusement pier from high above. It was breathtaking and then it was dark and evil again. The whole thing reminds me now of a Hammer Horror picture. It was perfectly Gothic, well acted and filled grue and gore and the gooey stuff.

I'll repost all the great articles and videos of it. I thank those that documented it so well.
Awesome writeup. We shared some of the pics from their amazing site. They appear to be selling a DVD which I only realized today. I will definitely pick one up.

The Larry Fessenden Collection (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - The Cold, Socially Conscious Heart of Independent Horror

This collection is necessary. The great Larry Fessenden has created Horror that is thought-provoking and challenging for decades. If you are unfamiliar with the name, you certainly know his work if you’ve been watching Horror regularly over the last twenty years. My first experiences with him were Habit and Wendigo, both featured on this list. Since that time I seem to encounter him in spurts as actor or behind the lens. Most recently I enjoyed his performances in We Are Still Here, Pod and Beneath. Scream Factory along with IFC Midnight have given us a collection of works with gallons of extras and some very slick packaging. If this is your first encounter with Fessenden’s work, prepare to think. If you are a fan of his movies, get ready to drool.

The packaging is a hard case with booklet inside, updated artwork and the Blu-ray holders inside are like pages in a book. One for each movie.

Let’s go through each movie/disc.

No Telling (1991)

Oh this is a truly creepy movie with all the Fessenden hallmarks. It’s well produced, looks great and shot well, but the what really shines here are the performances. Fessenden gets the maximum amount of performance from actors especially when the character is driven, ruthless and, often times, mindless. The protagonist in this picture kind of sneaks up on you, lulling you into a sense of false comfort before dropping a dramatic, powerful effects sequence that pulls both your heart strings and your guts right out in front of you.

No Telling is really a mad scientist story, and as with most Fessenden movies, nature is being butchered or disfigured in order to make way for the will of man. You can almost think of his pictures as rape/revenge pictures complete with adequate back lash and highly developed sense of anger. This isn’t for those of you who can’t watch animal cruelty, no matter how fictionalized. There are mean spirited moments that are upsetting, some involving the mistreatment of animals, others, the mistreatment of humans.

No Telling isn’t an easy watch, but it’s a great one.

Excuse the condition of the trailer.

Habit (1995)

I remember seeing Habit just after it came out on VHS. I wasn’t familiar with Fessenden’s work, but I certainly was going through a vampire kick, watching all the obscure vamps I could. Habit seemed like a good candidate to fill my sanguine urges,but unfortunately, due to slow pacing, I couldn’t really get into this one. While I appreciate the strange almost Urban Gothic nature of the picture as well as a stunning performance by Fessenden himself, the move itself drags. It’s dark and quiet. I suppose that when you compare it to many of the vamp flicks I’m used to these days with powerful bloodlettings and fast paced action sequences complete with a healthy dose of special effects, this one kind of feels more dull.

That’s not to say it’s a bad picture, but it is one that is meant for the lovers of the slow burn Horror combined with Fessenden’s love of creating dark fantasy pictures out of social commentary. In this instance the title Habit gives over to the blood lust of a vamp and the addictive nature of humanity forming a reciprocal expose on drug use and sexual lust. From a heady, academic perspective, Habit plays out nicely and is fully of the kind of literary prowess that college professors love.

Wendigo (2001)

Wendigo was an excellent experience for me. I remember the first time I saw it. A truly unique Horror picture with a real family at the center that felt almost like it could have been my own. It portrays a side of life that is fringe but right in my face living in Northwest New Jersey on cusp of the woods and on the door step of New York City. 

Fessenden has a knack for making movies feel cold surrounding some very warm characters that you can really get behind. With some unique storytelling and a creature that lurks in legend and in the woods, this is an urban legend come to life made for the coldest times.

This is by far my favorite movie in the set.

The Last Winter (2006)

Man is it nice to see Ron Perlman in a Horror picture not made up like a comic book character. The Last Winter is an environmentally conscious Horror picture that spends half of its time developing characters and the other half making you believe their insane before a very strong, haunting finish. It’s a slow build, but that makes it great complete with the kind of denial that has become common place when discussing global warming or human impact on the environment. A great statement by Larry Fessnden who often uses fright pictures to convey socially relevant concepts. He doesn’t shove it down your throat. He just gives you an idea and then shows you how it might kill you.

Interestingly enough I was actually challenged to watch this movie for a Horror movie watching competition along with The Thaw from Ghosthouse. What a great pairing of movies with different spins on the same general concept. While The Thaw goes for the gross out, The Last Winter is thoughtful and eerie. Watching both pictures together makes for a nice balanced evening.

Each disc includes some short films that are fairly interesting though they seem moderately experimental and playful. Do not expect full fledged ideas ready for anthology insertion. The set also includes an updated interview with Fessenden.

You can order The Larry Fessenden Collection now!

From Scream Factory:

Four tales of terror from multi-talented filmmaker Larry Fessenden – he's a writer, a producer, a director and an actor. In this box set, he brings together four of his films, in HD for the first time, along with both brand-new and vintage bonus features including short films and music videos.

Includes 24-Page Booklet With Liner Notes By Fangoria's Michael Gingold And Never-Before-Seen Photos, Storyboards, And Sketches.

Titles Include:

No Telling (1991)
Habit (1995)
Wendigo (2001)
The Last Winter (2006)

Bonus Features


NEW Director-Approved HD Transfer
NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director/Executive Producer Larry Fessenden
The Making Of No Telling (1991)
Archival Footage (1990)
Short Film White Trash (1979) With New Music By Composer Will Bates
Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (1985-1990)


NEW Director-Approved HD Transfer
NEW Audio Commentary With Actor/Director/Writer/Editor Larry Fessenden
The Making Of Habit (1995)
Short Film Habit (1981)
The Making Of Short Film Habit (1981)
Save You From Yourself Music Video
Theatrical Trailer
Short Film N Is For Nexus From Magnet Releasing's The ABCs Of Death 2
The Making Of N Is For Nexus
Frankenstein Cannot Be Stopped Music Video


NEW Director-Approved HD Transfer
NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director/Editor Larry Fessenden
NEW Audio Commentary With Actors Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber And John Speredakos
Searching For The Wendigo – Behind The Scenes Featurette (2001)
Interview With Larry Fessenden (2001)
Wendigo: Animated Series Trailer
Short Film Santa Claws (2008)
Theatrical Trailer
Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (2010)


Director-Approved HD Transfer
Audio Commentary With Co-writer/Director/Producer/Editor Larry Fessenden
The Making of "The Last Winter" – Full-length Documentary Featuring Deleted Scenes
Archival Footage (2005)
Short Film Jebediah
Short Film Origins
Short Film Mister
Tired Of Killing Myself Music Video
NEW 2015 Interview With Larry Fessenden

Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (2014)

Chasing the Muse (Artsploitation DVD)

I’m used to reviewing Porn. I review porn at least twice a month courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama series. I’ve become educated; enlightened even. I know longer view adult film as something to laugh at (or at least not only to laugh at) but can try to appreciate movies in the context of the filmmakers body of work, the time in which they were shot and the content as it relates to actual cinematic values. It’s a nice feeling to grow out of the mindset that adult movies are spank movies only. I encourage you to watch movies from the golden age of porn with new eyes and without your hands in your pants whenever you can restrain yourself, and it is with that very though in mind that you have to check out the new documentary from Artsploitation, Chasing the Muse. The disc also includes Exhibition, a movie from the best era of adult cinema. Combined, you have a chance to see the linear path of porn and understand better the mechanics of adult movies.

That doesn't make Chasing the Muse perfect. It's a bit slow, and it has some strange transitions. One might question why some of the movie is actually censored if we're watching a hardcore picture, but without whole knowledge of the situation I would imagine it has to do with being able to screen the documentary in documentary venues as opposed to screening it at neo 42nd street imitation grinders. 

Having enjoyed French erotic film, I’m sure that I have seen Jean-Francois Davy’s movies before but only now am I keenly aware of his name after witnessing him making an adult feature. You have to understand the complete process, that it is a process and not some back ally audition with a hummer, dehumanized and demeaning. Actors are actors whether they take part in an adult film or a child’s program. The actions required by them in each circumstance are different and bare challenges and some of those are divulged on film, intelligently with philosophical discussion and grace.

On the other side of the coin you have the opportunity to witness one of Davy’s works from the golden age of porn, when porn was considered an art form by some (not all) and had real cinematic qualities seen less in this day and age. Exhibition is a true Davy’s classic, was very popular and filled with the kind of filmmaking that made porn, adult cinema. This goes way beyond the web cam.

Exhibition is subtitled (it's French remember) and it doesn't quite follow the same formula that even the best American made pornos followed. That makes it refreshing. It's no Misty Beethoven, but it certainly is a nice production with plenty of beautiful actresses and an existential feel that is pure Europe.

I’ve included the notes from Artsploitation below on Chasing the Muse, Exhibition and Davy’s so you can better understand this disc. It’s actually quite a lot to take in and summarize much of the history lesson that I’ve been gradually unraveling through my study of adult cinema in the early 80’s and 70’s through my reviews of Vinegar Syndrome’s output. This will pair nice for fans of Vinegar Syndrome’s work; they have a rather devoted cult following who will at the very least appreciate the offering of Exhibition if not engage in the educational, erotic process with Chasing the Muse. 

As an interesting note, I kept thinking about how Vinegar Syndrome has been successful with their adult fare and thought it might be been a better fit with the current market to show off Exhibition on the cover as a double feature or as the leader. Share the cover a bit more. It feels like Exhibition is an afterthought.  Retro is in. Retro porn is in deep. 

From Artsploitation:

Adult filmmaker Jean-Francois Davy, while not a household name in the USA, is a legendary figure in France as well as in erotic-film-loving Europe. Since the early 1970s and the beginning of modern porn, Davy has been making provocative, at times humorous, and always erotically-charged films that celebrate the womanly form in all its possibilities. And his film releases have not been limited to just porn house fare as several of his carnal tales have played mainstream cinemas and world-famous film festivals. Jean-Francois Davy is definitely not your typical adult filmmaker.

Artsploitation Films is proud to present two of Jean-Francois Davy's best films in one DVD set (and in selected VOD outlets) creating a cinematic bookend of his career. First is his latest work, the X-rated documentary Chasing the Muse (2014).  Coupled with this film is a new digitally restored Director's Cut of one of his early and most celebrated works, Exhibition (1974). Chasing the Muse (formerly titled Transgression) follows the now 70-year-old filmmaker as he travels through Eastern Europe in search of a new star for his upcoming feature.

About  the film Exhibition:

Exhibition was, on its initial release in 1975, a pornographic blockbuster (3.5 million admissions in France alone) and highlighted the Porno Chic craze when it was selected for the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. The two-film DVD will be released on October 6, 2015.

After decades of filming his naked beauties anonymously behind the camera, Jean-Francois Davy turns his probing lens on himself as well in this penetrating documentary. Davy and his cameraman travel to the major cities of Eastern Europe – from Prague to Budapest, with stops in between – as he searches for a beautiful muse to serve as the leading lady of his next carnal opus. As countless gorgeous young women undress to audition for the camera, Davy keeps looking for a girl with a special quality, and when he finds her in the juvenile and beautiful form of Kitty. He falls head over heels for her charms, her deep blue eyes, her lack of fear and her seductive gaze. A pure and honest account of this sexual encounter and the proceedings of this relationship where the author plunges into the film and uses his own body to reconcile cinematographic and sexual expression. Sizzling and candid, TRANSGRESSION is for mature audiences only.

Exhibition is Davy’s most celebrated film. It was popular with mainstream cinema-going audiences (over 3 million admissions in France alone) but also road the Porno Chic craze by being selected at international film festivals (and being the first porn film to play the Cannes Film Festival.)  It has become a classic in the DVD market although only in cut and poorly transferred versions. The film is a documentary about the French porn industry and in particular, porn actress Claudine Beccarie. As the woman opens up about her painful childhood and her eventual entry into porn, scenes from her previous films, interviews with her fans, her co-stars and even her mother unspool. Candid, sensual and stimulating.

About Jean-Francois Davy:

Known as the grandmaster of French erotic cinema, Jean-Francois Davy (born 1945) has enjoyed a long career as a film producer, director, screenwriter, and actor. He achieved his biggest success with the pornographic cause celebrate film Exhibition and has continued his professional focus on film and sex for over 40 years. After making a series of short films as a teenager, Jean-Francois began in the film business when he became an assistant to director Luc Moullet on his 1966 comedy Brigitte et Brigitte. Then he set out on his own by directing L'attentat (1966) and since then has directed 18 other fiction and documentary feature films. And quite unlike the styles of the French New Wave that was flourishing at the time, Davy staked his career on the adult market. Hence, his films (all of which he has produced) are mainly broad comedies and melodramas and filled with abundant nudity and love-making. His films include Prostitution (1975), The Pornocrates (1976), Exhibition 2 (1978), and Exhibition 79 (1979). After more than two decades away from directing, Davy returned with the 2006 drama Red Needles and the 2009 film Tricheuse (So Woman!).

LAVALANTULA available on DVD on November 3rd

A couple of months back SyFy channel gave us a double whammy of strange monster mayhem. The first was Sharknado 3, an institution, one of the great American traditions (however new). The second was a new piece of CGI filled monsterific goodness starring the former cast of the Police Academy movies. Lavalantula was a fun, action packed, humor crusted flick that was perfect popcorn fodder with plenty of familiar faces to get the nostalgia juices flowing and a novel concept that worked in a completely over the top manner. 

Now you'll have the chance to bring it into your home on DVD November 3rd. With a sequel supposedly in the works, you'll want to enjoy the first one to see just how gonzo the second one is in comparison. 

From Alchemy:

After a dormant volcano erupts miles outside of Los Angeles, something within the molten hot lava is awakened. Birthed from the bowels of the Earth itself, arachnid-like creatures with an obsidian-black exoskeleton swarm out. One man, Colton West, a washed-up, former A-list action star, suddenly finds himself the real life hero as he’s forced to use his on screen characters’ know-how to save the entire city from being victims to the most horrifying villains you couldn’t write any better.

Alchemy is proud to announce the release of the action-packed, LAVALANTULA available on DVD and Early EST on November 3rd. Directed by Mike Mendez (The Gravedancer, The Convent), LAVALANTULA stars Steve Guttenberg (CBS’s “Veronica Mars”, Short Circuit, Police Academy), Leslie Easterbrook (The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween), Nia Peeples (ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”, Half Dead, ABC’s “General Hospital”), Michael Winslow (Spaceballs, Police Academy), Patrick Renna (The Sandlot, The Big Green, Dark Ride), Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Employee of the Month) and is written by Neil Elman (I Spit on Your Grave 2, LA Apocalypse) and Ashley O’Neil.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

HolidazeBlog Halloween Challenge Day 4: Biggest Fear

About five years ago if you asked me this question it would be simply... What's my biggest fear? Spiders. I'm not talking about the little jobbers that you find around your house year round. Wolf spiders eat me up. Anything larger than that create panic and dread in me, but times have changed and I've evolved and the panic attacks I get from spiders are now rivaled by one thing: Losing my family.

I have random shocking horrible thoughts of losing all or one of them. It's paralyzing, and it's absurd, but once the though is in my brain I have to reach out to them and make sure they're fine. It's for that reason that I find watching invasion Horror difficult anymore. Movies like The Mist or A Serbian Film send me to tears (of course that's after I'm done laughing at A Serbian Film and enjoying the giant interdimensional creatures from The Mist). You put on Pet Sematary and I lose my shit. I don't know if it's instinct or a protective daddy nature, but first I get this adrenaline rush followed by sadness.

Other fears include: Heights (I get vertigo something fierce), Losing my job (because I don't think I can find another one that let's me wear Horror Tees and listen to soundtracks), Humidity... in the basement... where I keep my Horror prizes and dogs jumping at me while I'm wearing flip flops.

HolidazeBlog Halloween Challenge Day 3: Best Horror TV Show

I'm not fully ready to commit to the the Horror TV show that I find the best. I mean I start off thinking that it's a clear cut answer: The Twilight Zone. The original. But then I start to question whether I feel that The Twilight Zone is a pure Horror TV show. It has Sci-Fi elements. Plenty of social commentary. You know, I don't want the Twilight Zone around Halloween at all. I watch it on July 4th and New Years Eve because that's when the marathons are. So this being a Halloween Challenge I should really think of my answer in terms of Halloween and a show that I would watch during October. So is it Night Gallery? Friday the 13th the Series? Amazing Stories? or is it...

Tales from the Crypt. HBO's breakthrough Horror program that gave us the grue we so wanted from a TV show while preserving all the classic Horror of EC Comics. I love Tales from the Darkside and there are clearly episodes that rival Tales from the Crypt for top standing, but as a whole the feeling of Tales from the Crypt feels like Halloween. Strong intro. Strong host. Great storytelling, effects, stars and writers. Every year I plan to watch the a season during the month of October, and the busy review schedule seems to get in the way.

Maybe this year I'll give it another go.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Christmas Horror Story (Image Review)

If watching a Christmas Horror flick in October doesn't feel like you're cheating on a holiday, nothing will. To be quite honest, when the opportunity came to review A Christmas Horror Story I wasn't sure I was going to to take it up. I wanted to wait for the proper time with egg nog glass brimming and warm, C-9 bulbs aglow while the house smells of Balsam and Cedar and Concolor Pine. That's when a Christmas Horror flick feels proper, but it was a cold night, and it felt more like winter than autumn today. We made an exception to the holiday order of operations and have reviewed A Christmas Horror Story, a sort of anthology threaded Horror film with hints of Trick R Treat buried in Christmas lore and legend from all aspects of the holiday. It's not a traditional anthology picture, but it has multiple narratives with a common nexus.

The whole thing works quite well with solid performances from all actors. It flows well as a multistory movie with several threads intertwining to from one cohesive movie much like Trick R Treat. There is sort of a wrap story with connective tissue binding the whole thing together featuring William Shatner as a radio DJ; his dialogue is comic genius and really does cement him in the Horror family (the Sci-Fi world has claimed him too long since we lost him after the first Star Trek movie). You know there's something more to humor in his performance; there's that quite, passionate Shatner that really gets you to empathize with him, even if he's spiked his egg nog to inifinty.

The effects work in this picture is top notch with plenty of physical effects and excellent makeup to balance on some passable CG (that seems to be used solely out of necessity). I'm glad to say that most of the music is traditional which gives it a true holiday feel. Of course a band called The Snots does the closing song, so that might shatter the mood for you. If you pay attention at the very end of the credits you'll get a subtle, humorous surprise. The kills feel like something out of Santa's Slay for the most part which absolute works and would make a perfect companion movie to this. In fact this movie is going to make nice with all your Christmas Horror favorites.

Watch out for Krampus, Santa, the Elves and, as always, the human beings! I'll tell you guys, I haven't really enjoyed the Krampus mythology up until A Christmas Horror movie or more precisely until I saw the new trailer for the Krampus movie from Michael Dougherty. I think I get it now. I think I'm hooked, and I think he is conveyed beautiful in this picture for all you K fans.

Hey still not convinced? That scene on the poster... the one where Santa Claus is fighting Krampus... that actually happens in the movie! It has some campy moments, slight flaws and one story thread that wanders too much for turning and creating a perfect Christmas Horror memory, but overall if you can laugh at a Horror movie, be entertained by a Horror movie and love Christmas Horror, this movie is for you. And yes... EVEN IN OCTOBER!

From Image:

Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, peace and goodwill. But for some folks in the small town of Bailey Downs, it turns into something much less festive. When Krampus - the anti-Santa who punishes the naughty children - is summoned by a young boy, everyone’s fight for survival begins.

IN THEATERS, VOD and iTunes: October 2, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

HolidazeBlog Halloween Challenge Day 2- Halloween Drink

Years ago I would have said Pumpkin Beer. That's easy. I used to drink the stuff by the gallon, but times have changed. The Halloween beverage that I most enjoy is apple cider. Not hard cider. Soft cider, sweet, with bite from the farm. Forget Ziegler's or that shit you find in the grocery store. I'm talking about the cider from the Hacklebarney Cider Mill or Best's Fruit Farm. Any local cider with body and grit.

I think it stems from reading my favorite book as a kid, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. One of the bumbling idiots trying to catch our beloved animal friends was keen on protecting the cider stores (probably hard cider because it got em all drunk). That set me off. I wanted cider (of course not the alcoholic kind).

It actually makes me euphoric even without the booze. High. Sugar High, and while the sugar may hurt my teeth, the stuff cleans you out especially after a night of candy corn binging. The only downside is that I experience a tremendous sugar crash unlike any other from cider (well actually I suspect my beer crashes were just as hard with all the sugary sweet IPA's I used to drink). 30 minutes after being a Halloween colored demon, haunter extraordinaire I'm on the couch. Passed out. Asleep. Dreaming of October 31st with candy corn stuck in my teeth awaiting my next root canal.

And if you like cider as much as I do you'll enjoy cider hot dogs, cider kraut, cider baked beans. You'll rot your face off.

Drink cider. Enjoy cider.

Hacklebarney Cider Mill

Pics from Best's Fruit Farm because they rule.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

HolidazeBlog Halloween Challenge Day 1: Favorite Horror Movie

Creepshow. It has to be Creepshow. Well it doesn't really haaave to be. Anytime someone ask me what my favorite Horror movie is, I freeze up. I get a massive dose of performance anxiety and I go limp. I have no idea how to answer, so I end up answering using as many titles as I have loved in my life. Sometimes I just start listing off the titles that I've seen recently that impressed me and still others... I run.

Creepshow has been a steadfast movie in my life since I was a kid, saw it too young with the neighbor kids in tow and then preceded to have dreams and fantasies about it for years. I remember finding my father's comic book adaptation. I read it till it fell apart. The back cover with King's bearded face in red and black freaked me out. I could never read They're Creeping Up on You before bed. Massive Heebie Jeebie panic attacks. I always stared at Billie's nipples when she's being eaten by Fluffy. But that's the comic adaptation.

When Nathan Grantham's hand pops out of the ground in Father's Day I still jump. When I was a kid I'd cover my eyes until I could hear the expert music from John Harrison sting loud and proud. Then I'd dig the Hell out of one of the greatest zombie creations in cinema history. That's what George Romero and Tom Savini can do for you.

Creepshow and more specifically The Crate is where my star crush for Adrienne Barbeau emerged. Like I said, I used to stare at her nips in the comic book and realize she's not exactly the nicest person in the film, but those bazongas. Those outfits. That wholesale trash. Something got me gooey for Barbeau, and it's stuck with me.

See...nipples. Boner.

Then there are thoughts about the movie that have evolved. No one really says that The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill is their favorite story. They just don't. While Father's Day and The Crate have always tied as personal favorites with Father's Day winning by a hair, the story about Jordy Verrill is depressing and really real. I find myself able to empathize with him. Identify with him. I guess that's what happens when you spend six months pining away drunk in an apartment alone, watching TV like I did. You finally get Jordy, his death and the loneliness. I think I'll grow to love it more as I get older and life changes me.

E.G. Marshall is a goddamn bastard! He really deserves everything he gets in Creepshow. I love to watch him explode in the end, but it's almost better seeing him earn his death. Great special effects and this may be the story that involved the most patience. That many bugs must require many bug wranglers.

What about Something to Tide You Over? It's got a strong finish with expert library music and some true comedy relief. When you've watched The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, you need a recovery movie. Something to Tide You Over is a great pickup movie. Do you go to the beach ecah summer? Do you bury yourself up to your neck? Do you plan your escape just in case someone ever digs a a hole below the high tide line? I do. Every time I'm on the beach.

The wrap story is our origin story. Not all of us, but many Horror fiends with shit dad's or at least dad's trying (and failing) to do their best. We are Billy. As a father I try and fail daily at not being Billy's dad. I remember to give me kids the comic books where the "people turn in to weeds for christsake" and I never say "That's why god made fathers". I also search their rooms for voodoo dolls.

I had the chance to order a replica of the comic used in the movie (not the actual one published). It's not complete, but it contains the important scenes from the movie. I recently picked up a tabletop standee and the UK version of the Blu-ray. I just to pick up each and every version I can find. I'm even wearing a Creepshow T-shirt from Pizza Party Printing right now and ordered Mondo's Creepshow prints today upon release. I own every variant of the Waxwork Records release, a signed CD by John Harrison, the aforementioned official release comic and I have a laundry list of items I'm still gunning for. Those Retroband action figures, wax paper cups and the original Creepshow Mondo print are on my list!

Neat mix that I found on Soundcloud:

I love Creepshow. It's on every October, and I watch it every October. My wife even likes it and watches it! I love the sequel. I love the unofficial sequel Tales from the Darkside The Movie and am greatly saddened by the third movie put out by Taurus.

Trailers from Creepshow

Tune in tomorrow for another entry in the HolidazeBlog Halloween Challenge.

Some of my favorite artwork from Creepshow

Rocky Horror Picture Show (40th Anniversary Edition)

Everyone wants to know what the difference is between the 35th Anniversary Edition and the 40th Anniversary Edition of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. As far back as I can remember we see release of this movie on a new format celebrating its anniversary, and usually something changes. That’s not to say the release would be without reason for a new release. We like to celebrate one of the ultimate rock operas of all time (next to Phantom of the Paradise of course).

Let’s talk about my most recent experience with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and try to sort through the extras to see what you’ll get and perhaps what you don’t.

I’ve loved these characters and skilled troop of actors since I first was old enough to understand the movie. I first saw it with my father, thinking it was a Horror picture only to realize that I didn’t know about cross-dressing, homosexuality or many of the themes in the movie. Though it was beautiful, we shut it off. I wouldn’t discover my love of musicals for years nor would I fully realize that I had the biggest crush on both Columbia and Magenta… maybe even Riff Raff. For those of you who like Frank? Well, I love Tim Curry, but he’s not the one I crush on in this movie. Still.. there’s something magical about when he beds Janet Vice (WEIS!). Rocky Horror is filled with all the Sci-Fi and Horror Kitsch a camp fan could want. It’s sexual and daring and inspirational. The music is generous with the bass and catchy.

What really comes of rewatching Rocky Horror is you try to figure out who isn’t the audience for it. People who hate musicals. People who hate other people. People who dislike fun. That’s about it.

The transfer of the Rocky Horror Picture Show looks good, full of details and not over DNR’d. I remember seeing this on a damaged print Pennsylvania when I popped my cherry at the live show and rented and owned the VHS tape that was obviously subpar. Somewhere in there I managed to skip a DVD release and skipped the Blu-ray up until checking it out now. The packaging on is traditional with a nice reverse still. It’s one disk, but there’s a lot on here though most if not all of this was previously available on the 35th anniversary edition. 

Extras include:
  • Rocky-oke: Sing It!
  • Commentary By Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn (Magenta)
  • Don’t Dream It, Be It: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part I
  • An-tic-i-pation: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part II
  • Mick Rock (A Photographer)
  • Mick Rock's Picture Show (A Gallery)
  • A Few From The Vault
  • Deleted Musical Scenes
  • 1: ”Once In A While”
  • 2: ”Super Heroes”
  • Outtakes
  • Alternate B&W Opening
  • Alternate Credit & Misprint Ending
  • "Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show" (1995)
  • Beacon Theater, New York City (10th Anniversary)
  • Time Warp Music Video 
  • The Midnight Experience
  • Pressbook & Poster Gallery

 If you’ve seen Rocky Horror than you know why you need to own it; to show your kids at the very least. If you haven’t, this would be a great way to experience it though I must be honest, live would be best with a full cast and plenty of audience participation. If you have a previous incarnation of the Blu-ray, there won’t be much for you to gain from picking up this disc. This is really about updating the packaging and getting this into every fans’ hands who need to put them on their hips and pelvic thrust. We all could use a little time warp.

You can order the 40th Anniversary Rock Horror release now.

Children of the Night (Artsploitation Blu-ray)

What a unique story we have here distributed by the every challenging, always innovating Artsploitation. At first I must admit that I thought it was a bit slow and uninteresting, but Children of the Night blooms into something special. It is flawed. It has some strange shot choices and the editing toward the end of the movie speeds up all the action to an uncomfortable fast forward fever pitch, but I don’t think it detracts from the originality and importance of this independent Argentinean Horror picture about good ol’ vampires in different bodies than we are used to seeing them.

What makes Children of the Night difficult is the balance of dead pan humor with the subject of child death and child transformation into vampires. That doesn’t exactly mean that you feel uneasy about the end of life for so many young blood suckers, but I think the intention is to dissipate a feeling of unease you might have with seeing children turned so young. For the first half of the movie you’re simply try to understand the surroundings and the habit for these young vamps. The second half is a transformative experience for a journalist who is learning about the colony. It’s actually heartwarming.

The end sequence will get your dander up and excite you (aside from the strange sped up footage aspect). Enjoy the journalist; she’s a tremendous actor, and I really enjoyed her performance.

 Artsploitation Films is releasing this wildly entertaining vampire tale on DVD/Blu-ray and VOD October 6th. This is another feature that touches on a common theme we’ve been seeing in 2015, the rise of the Horror Comedy although I would mention that the comedy is subdued, dark and playful as opposed to mondo-disgusto-balls-to-the-wall-gore comedy as has been frequent. Also note that it has subtitles (because that matters to some of you).

Pick up Children of the Night from Artsploitaion Films now.

From Artsploitation:

A secluded colony of child vampires come under attack from vengeful villagers in this darkly funny horror tale by Argentinean filmmaker Ivan Noel. A journalist visits a secluded orphanage where children suffer from an unknown skin disease. She soon learns that they are in fact not children, but vampires aging from 4 to 120 years old and who have been bitten at an early age and forever remain in that physical state. They are led and protected by a strange and deeply religious ex-nurse whose destiny in life is to find these ‘lost souls’ and raise them in her sanctuary. Through religious teachings, nocturnal rituals and the occasional visit to local towns for fresh human blood, she keeps them safe  – that is until a cultish band of men from a nearby village plot to destroy the refuge. Now the children, headed by the 90-year-old grandson of Count Dracula, must defend their way of life.

Bonus features: Director's Commentary, Making Of Featurette, Trailer

The Thaw, The Last Winter and REPO for THE MADNESS

I'm engaged in a Horror movie watching competition for the month of October. I had to write some mini-reviews of a few movies. Figured I'd post them here so ya'll could check them out. The MADNESS lives!

The Thaw 

Oh how I remember this one. What a creepy, creeper of a prehistoric buggie flick. There are times where I think about the effects in this movie and truly cringe. The Thaw has a strong cast, most of which you'd sort of would like to see killed. See a good number of them don't make it, that means you leave the movie feeling satisfied. Of course there are a number of gross outs along the way.

The Last Winter

This was my first experience with Last Winter. I watched it off the new Scream Factory Blu-ray set, The Larry Fessenden Collection. Looked great and a full review will follow shortly once I complete the set. The movie itself has a strong cast, but drags for the first half of the movie while you wait to reveal just what the Hell you're watching. By the end it all sort of makes sense and has some unique effects and a novel concept that make the labored opening worth while. Very strong finish that had me thinking about The Mist.

Repo The Genetic Opera

For the first ten minutes or so I wasn't exactly a happy camper. I enjoyed the opening and the comic book frames but these songs were pretty hard to sit through... until Giles showed up and started singing. Then it was like watching Once More With Feeling from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in an alternate universe. I adore Anthony Stewart Head. Great to enjoy him again and his beautiful voice. Some of the gore is exceptional and some of the singing is atrocious. Overall it reminded me of RENT only without any kind of deep personal connectivity. Paul Sorvino reminds me a little of Lon Chaney Jr at times when he sings.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Insidious Chapter 3 (Sony Blu-ray/DVD) - Before the Further

I was skeptical about Insidious Chapter 3. The first one truly scared me. I thank James Wan for that movie. While many wanted to put the Poltergeist label on it, I thought it was different enough to separate the two films. Insidious 2 absolutely made that division clear, providing a whole new worth and set of rules for the inhabitants of the Further to live by. The second movie created a new dimension for us to explore and fleshed it out enough to make it feel realistic. It isn’t hard to get completely into an Insidious picture. Between the caliber of performances, set and creature design as well as the mysterious nature of the stories, you have to give it a nod. Insidious Chapter 3 is a prequel, taking place before the first movie and provides the back story to the medium that plays heavily into the original story played by Lin Shaye. The cast is missing a few key folks. The director is Leigh Whannel instead of James Wan. Could it work?

The answer is easy. It works very well and is an exhibition of the talent of Lin Shaye as a true leading woman and shows clearly the Leigh Whannel is every bit the “creepsmith” that Wan is. Whannel and Wan work together well, and with Chapter 3 you can see they clearly share style and ability to get the maximum performance out of a tight knit, small cast.

Chapter 3 feels like an Insidious movie. It does not feel like a prequel. Many critics panned the prequel to The Conjuring, Annabelle, for its inability to share the same space with The Conjuring. While that particular criticism is hard for me to hear, I think the same is clearly not true for Insidious 3. It’s what these pictures do very well, provide a continuum of talent and feel that creates a franchise naturally rather than forces a franchise into being (example of that would be Nightmare on Elm Street). While you lose Patrick Wilson, a favorite of mine, you keep Lin Shaye and company.  The effects work is on par with the original pictures and continues the same eerie, Dracula lit style with surprise baddies around every corner. What a great legend the Insidious folks have spun!

This disc is backed with extras that are meaningful and fun. It’s a newly shot movie in HD and looks great on the disc. The packaging is the standard poster art work slip sleeve. Enjoy the Making of Featurette and the Medium featurette. There’s even a music featurette that includes an examination of how they adapted Tiptoe Through the Tulips for the picture.

This is the perfect major release Horror picture for the month of October with a focus on hauntings, other dimensions and creepy ghosts. If you didn’t like the original two movies, you may not like this. I will say that Lin Shaye truly got me with this one. While I’ve always enjoyed her performances previous, I am now a true fan. That might help to separate this movie from the original and the sequel. Shay’s got guts and fight and you can really care about her. This is a must see for the Halloween season.

Synopsis from Sony:

The newest chapter in the terrifying horror series is written and directed by franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell. This chilling prequel, set before the haunting of the Lambert family, reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

Special Features:

Origin Story: Making Chapter 3 Featurette
Deleted Scenes (Blu-ray exclusive)
Being Haunted: A Psychic Medium Speaks Featurette (Blu-ray exclusive)
Macabre Creations Featurette (Blu-ray exclusive)
Stunts: The Car Crash Featurette (Blu-ray exclusive)
Cherry Glazerr: Tiptoe Through the Tulips Featurette (Blu-ray exclusive)

You can order Insidious Chapter 3 now, available October 6th.

Blood Punch (Midnight Releasing DVD) - The Ground Hog Day of Horror

Blood Punch sounds like some generic action movie with a bunch of has-been stars that has a formulaic plot, is probably rated PG-13 to catch a bigger audience and is well worth ignoring… but that’s exactly what Blood Punch isn’t. In fact Blood Punch is competing to be on my list for top ten movies of the year with a great cast, unique concept and a walloping amount of clever violence. Midnight Releasing has struck gold with this one, and I hope that more people get the chance to appreciate it.

From the first moments of the movie you get the feeling like you’ve seen this movie before. You almost prepare to be let down. Yeah, let’s go to the cabin in the woods and cook some drugs to get rich. What could go wrong? You expect a slasher. You expect an explosion or you expect a monster. What you get is a strange version of Ground Hog Day that allows for a continuous loop of fantastic kills and violence with clever plot and character development. Once I realized that formula had been thrown out the window I was able to fully immerse myself in the movie, enjoying moments of comedy and tension while trying to anticipate the movie’s direction.

Blood Punch is an engaging Horror picture with a strong climax and lovable characters. The lead is from Deathgasm which is assuredly hitting my top ten releases of 2015 list. This fella is someone to watch. He really knows how to make you empathize with  him while watching him kick ass. I strongly recommend this sleeper hit that is flying under everyone’s radar and deserves your eyes.

From Midnight Releasing:

Milton (Cawthorne, Deathgasm), a brilliant chemistry student breaks out of court-mandated drug rehab with a mysterious bad girl, Skyler (Tennet, "When We Go to War"). Looking to recruit a cook for a one-day drug score, she lures him to an isolated cabin with her psychotic and trigger-happy boyfriend Russell (Boyland, "Shortland Street").

Russell reveals that he plans to murder Milton as soon as he is finished cooking the drugs, and their simple love triangle quickly descends into a mind-blowing supernatural cycle of carnage and mayhem with no end...and no escape.

The DVD release of Blood Punch will exclusively include deleted scenes, outtakes and test footage.

You can order Blood Punch now.

Eaten Alive (Arrow Video Blu-ray/DVD)

Let’s get this out of the way. My favorite Tobe Hooper picture is Salem’s Lot. My second favorite Tobe Hooper picture is Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. My third favorite Tobe Hooper picture is The Funhouse. I feel like the simple fact that Texas Chain Saw Massacre doesn’t come in to play until around number four or five really says something about the way I appreciate his movies. Yes I love Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I love Poltergeist, and Lifeforce and Invaders from Mars are great movies. Once Hooper really got going is when I think he was able to make some pictures that were visually stunning. That brings us to Eaten Alive available now from Arrow Video.

Eaten Alive is a gritty little movie that plays off of most of the popular slasher tropes save for one key and separating fact; it takes place in Louisiana. This means that the flavor of Eaten Alive is completely different and allows for some clever shocks and disturbing sequences especially involving gators. The movie follows the formula for a a movie of its type until it doesn’t and decides to be a mean spirited dark picture.

What a cast! William Finley’s performance in Phantom of the Paradise is something of legend and Marilyn Burns will always be remembered from her role in Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but they really do bring  a lot of energy and emotion to the table with Eaten Alive. Yeah yeah… Fred Krueger is in the movie or rather Robert Englund. Hell, I really remember him from the TV show V. He’s definitely creepy in this one for the short bit that he’s in it, and you may even find the precursor key attributes that would have set him up to play an iconic Horror character.

The extra list for this release is just incredible. I hope you enjoy interviews because there are ton of new and archival interviews including a new one with Tobe Hooper. The most interesting extra is the featurette on the inspiration for the owner in Eaten Alive. The real story almost creeps me out more. The new cover art is gorgeous and receiving wide acclaim. As with most Arrow releases, you get a booklet inside that provides essays and useful information about the presentation and picture. I love the stills.

Fans of Tobe Hooper will definitely enjoy this picture as well as those folks who genuinely enjoy the slasher era. It’s got grit. It’s mean and it takes no prisoners. It’s not my favorite Tobe Hooper picture. My favorites are all super produced, “high budget” jobs, but you’ll have the benefit of seeing where Tarantino borrowed a line for Kill Bill.

From Arrow Video:


Nearly a decade before he donned Freddy Krueger’s famous red and green sweater, horror icon Robert Englund delivered a supremely sleazy performance in Eaten Alive – another essay in taut Southern terror from Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Deep in the Louisiana bayou sits the ramshackle Starlight Hotel, destination of choice for those who like to check in but not check out! Bumbling Judd, the patron of this particular establishment, may seem like a good-natured ol’ Southern gent – but he has a mean temper on him, and a mighty large scythe to boot…

Oozing atmosphere from its every pore (the entire film was shot on a sound-stage which lends it a queasy, claustrophobic feel), Eaten Alive matches The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for sheer insanity – helped in no small part by some marvellous histrionics from Chain Saw star Marilyn Burns and William Finley (Phantom of the Paradise).


  Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative, approved by director Tobe Hooper
  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards, and make-up artist Craig Reardon
  New introduction to the film by Hooper
  Blood on the Bayou – a brand new interview with Hooper
  Gator Bait – a brand new interview with star Janus Blythe
  Monsters and Metaphors – a brand new interview with make-up artist Craig Reardon
  The Gator Creator – an archive interview with Hooper
  My Name is Buck – an archive interview with star Robert Englund
  5ive Minutes with Marilyn Burns – the Texas Chain Saw star discusses her role in Eaten Alive
  The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball – featurette looking at the true-life story of the South Texas bar owner on whom Eaten Alive is loosely based
  Original theatrical trailers for the film under its various alternate titles: Eaten Alive, Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel
  TV and Radio Spots
  Alternate Opening Titles
  Behind the Scenes Slideshow
  Stills and Promo Material Gallery
  Audience Comment Cards
  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

  Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dead Air: Episode 95 - Dead Air's 5 Year Anniversary

This week on the show, Jeff (@DeadAirJeff), Jesse (@DestroySuperman), and Chad (@HorrorMovieBBQ) reminisce over the podcast's history and talk about what it means to them.

Topics include:

  • The upcoming Halloween break
  • Plans for the future
  • Reviews of:
    • and more!

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The Dead Air Horror & Genre Podcast is brought to you by GenreWatch,The Liberal Dead, and Horror Movie BBQ. Be sure to visit the sites for more great content!

Looking to order any of the titles we discussed on this show? Head on over to Amazon for the best prices and help support our show.

And, as always, if you want to drop us a line to let us know what you think of any of the movies discussed tonight, or you just want to give us feedback on the podcast in general, please send an email to DeadAirHorrorPodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Check out this episode!

The American Dreamer (Etiquette Pictures Blu-ray/DVD)

Dennis. Hopper. That name should evoke something in you. Whether you're a Horror fan, a fan of road movies or cult cinema in the 1960's or perhaps an Easy Rider buff, you know the name. You love his sweet face. You admire his crazy eyes and quiet demeanor ready to explode. I'd go so far as to say some of you simply adore him from his sports related TV commercials. For me, Hopper starred in one of my favorite movies, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and gave me a new kind of hero to root for; a dangerous man with hand grenades and chainsaws and a cowboy hat. While I saw TCM2 when I was a kid, I didn't fully appreciate Hopper's films until I got older and realized that he had a catalog of material from many years prior through which to salvage. I am not the Hopper expert, and the era in which he helped to create some of the most memorable and important counter culture movies is simply one I enjoy. It is with The American Dreamer, a document to his life and philosophy and in fact a unique interpretation of the early 70's post-counterculture revolution that one can truly understand Dennis Hopper. It's a picture of a man peaking, ready for disaster but blazing through the sky like a shooting star.  Etiquette Pictures in connection with the Walker Art Center in Minnapolis give you the chance to know him better by putting out a tremendous restoration of this documentary.

While this is a truly special release it is important to acknowledge its limitations. This was shot on 16mm and while it has been lovingly restored, it shows signs of wear. Do not expect a pristine print. Expect a 16mm look into a human being's soul full of grit. The transfer is superb preserving the look and feel of 16mm film which can sometimes be mistaken for a quality issue. Please do not make this mistake. Etiquette knows what they're doing.  We are lucky to have a Blu-ray that looks this good and wasn't slapdash as a bonus on a lesser release by an uncaring label. The experts got it first.

The release is housed in a Criterion style case with booklet inside detailing restoration notes, credits and essays about the period from which The American Dreamer was released as well as the imporantance of this particular work in Hopper's life as well as co-directors Lawrence Schiller and L.M. Kit Carson. As with Some Call It Love Etiquette's first release), this is a special treat for folks who are just learning about The American Dreamer. You'll need to fill in the gaps between strange, counterculture documentary, Easy Rider and The Last Film. 

The American Dreamer itself paints a portrait of a philosophical Dennis Hopper who is filled to the brim with wanderlust and hedonism; some how with moderation, though and balance. Watching Hopper offer his thoughts on cunnilingus wholesale vs. actually sexual intercourse stands out as an eyeopening moment. He prods you with an idea that seems so far fetched from the status quo and then delivers you into the idea as if the idea was YOURS all along. The movie is filled with scenes of sexual freedom, but it's strongest point is the message of the importance of the independent free creator. Hopper as a model for the artist. Hopper as a model for a man who lives within and of the world creating and living by a code that is as childlike as it is dangerous.  Sometimes Hopper simply exists and the world is insane around him. Sometimes he is the insane cog turning the great wheel.

Ultimately the creation and presentation of The American Dreamer caused Hopper pain due to his contractual obligation and restriction from Universal at the time. Screenings were done on college campuses across the country in an effort to skirt legal challenge, but the movie only sought to embattle Hopper with the studio and create bad blood. You have the opportunity to see it now, not on a college campus but in your living room. You can feel it intimately. You can better understand Hopper and the 1970's filmmaker better by watching this movie. The making of featurette provides even more back story behind the film creation and works well in conjunction with the essays included to provide a well-rounded vision of the picture. 

Note: The restoration feature is important. Do not skip this. I always ask people to focus on the effort of the boutique company. You need to understand a film's journey. You need to know why you support a release like an Etiquette Pictures Blu-ray. This is how you archive and preserve great works.

From Etiquette Pictures:

The wild, unexpected success of Easy Rider ushered in what is now seen as one of the most significant turning points in film history, making pathologically rebellious Dennis Hopper an unlikely King Of Hollywood for a day. Hopper’s follow-up work, The Last Movie, a deeply personal, but ultimately disastrous, meditation on the meaning of cinema, found Hopper drifting further and further into foolishness. Captured by co-directors Lawrence Schiller and L.M. Kit Carson, The American Dreamer is a multi-faceted document of the life and mind of one of the 20th century’s great cinematic voices at the peak of his artistic and commercial success. Shifting between being an insightful document of a complex artist in the midst of his creative process and a self-reflective exploration and explosion of vérité filmmaking tropes, The American Dreamer is a mesmerizing journey into the private world of one of Hollywood’s most hypnotic directors/stars. Fortuitously timed, fantastically made, and virtually unseen, The American Dreamer is the great ‘70s film documentary you always wished existed.

Etiquette Pictures, in partnership with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, brings this forgotten masterpiece to home video for the very first time in a new, director approved 2k restoration, painstakingly reconstructed from four 16mm prints housed in the Walker Art Center’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection. Major support to preserve, digitize, and present this film and the entire Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection is generously provided by the Bentson Foundation.

Features include:

+ Blu-ray/DVD Combo | Region Free | 1.33:1 OAR
+ Restored in 2k from multiple 16mm prints
+ All extras on both Blu-ray and DVD
+ “Fighting Against the Wind” – 30min making-of featurette
+ “A Long Way Home” – 7min preservation featurette
+ Extensive Photograph Gallery
+ 16pg Booklet Essay by Chris Poggiali
+ Reversible artwork
+ English SDH subtitles

You can order The American Dream on Blu-ray now.

or you can purchase it as part of a package for all the September releases.