Monday, May 4, 2015

Empire of the Ants and Jaws of Satan (Scream Factory Double Feature Blu-ray)

As the summer approaches, Scream Factory has set up a number of double features Blu-ray combos to keep us doubly entertained through the warmer months. The first two installments will be animal attack films. You know the ones; films where the evil baddy bad guy is an animal or insect or genetically modified death dealer on four legs. These are important releases for collectors and animal enthusiasts. Today we will discuss Empire of the Ants and Jaws of Satan. Coming soon… Food of the Gods and Frogs!

Preorder up now at DiabolikDVD: 

Empire of the Ants

When I was a kid I remember watching this and Phase IV on repeat, taped off TV and forever getting the two movies confused. Both ant movies. I think we even taped them around the same date. My dad had a thing about creature feature marathons and setting the VCR to record all day. Empire of the Ants has a great title, but looking back now Phase IV is probably the better movie; definitely the better soundtrack which is available on Waxwork Records for the first time.

Revisiting Empire of the Ants now without the hoakie, 80’s commercials, the first half hour is long. It feels like everyone is simply speaking forever with the occasional intercut of a faux, multi-eye meant to simulate “ant vision”. This works for about 15 minutes. Beyond that you simply feel like your watching your favorite horror movie actresses get together for a mixer, slightly darkened color density (probably to simulate early evening) and not much else. Of course when you hit the 27 minutes mark the entire movie transforms into one great big bug fest with some of my favorite Bert I Gordon cuts of ants and mine spliced together to create gigantic ants a plenty. It’s nice to enjoy Joan Collins outside of Tales from the Crypt (also released by Scream Factory within the last year).

This plays out like a Horror Sci-Fi almost alien invasion movie with tons of sugar being brought in to feed a ruling class of mega ants, the queen ant of which controls men via a smoky pheromone! It ends strong and although it isn’t a scary picture it’s great fun. A real treat to see this with your slightly older kids. This also pairs nicely with the iconic Bert I. Gordon picture, Food of the Gods (also coming from Scream Factory).

The movie looks good although I have mentioned that the initial 20 minutes or so looks a bit dark as if it could have used a couple densities taken out. This could just be the original intent of Gordon, but I truly don’t have a frame of reference having only enjoyed this on a VHS tape from my youth.  I did not otherwise note any issues with the release.

From Scream Factory:

Brace yourself for mutant mayhem and pestilent payback in this "scary" (Los Angeles Times) creature feature about good bugs gone BAD! Starring Joan Collins (Dynasty, Tales From The Crypt), this incredible insect extravaganza is swarming with flesh-crawling chills, hair-raising thrills and spine-tingling terror. Directed by the great Bert I. Gordon (Attack Of The Puppet People, The Amazing Colossal Man, Village Of The Giants), Empire Of The Ants is a towering H.G. Wells tale come to terrifying life!

Extras include:

New Audio Commentary With Director Bert I. Gordon
Photo Gallery
Radio Spots
Theatrical Trailer

Jaws of Satan

So Satan takes the form of a snake and tries to kill some folks. Eh, not the first time Satan took the form of the snake, but it’s the first time he took the form of a snake and went after one of my favorite actors, Fritz Weave of Creepshow fame. Jaws of Satan is a completely silly animals attack film meets supernatural thriller. You get a a variety of snakes, a star studded cast and some perfectly, unintentionally funny moments.

Jaws of Satan isn’t exactly a grade A animal attack movie (though we must admit all animal attack movies should be graded on a curve). The snakes are very realistic… when they are REAL SNAKES. When they are made up replicas, you might go to the dollar store to find the equivalent.  This doesn’t have the Bert I. Gordon team behind the creature effects and when viewed alongside Empire of the Ants, you can really tell that this is a somewhat of a throw away title. While I though I hadn’t seen Jaws of Satan before, I found that Commander USA screened it on the USA network on his program, Groovie Movies which means it is highly possible I saw when I was a kid.

I enjoy Occult Horror, and that means that I’m going to be keen to enjoy Jaws of Satan’s subtle, almost laughable stings and shocks, but I’m not sure this is going to resonate well outside of a nostalgic audience. No real blood to speak of, but a nice variety of snakes. Rattlers always give me the willies.

From Scream Factory:

Satan takes the form of a cobra in this spine-chilling tale of terror. Commanded by the Prince of Darkness, snakes terrorize a small town in Alabama just as the town's new dog racing park is about to open. The local doctor, the town priest and a "snake expert" must band together to save the town from his evil scheme! Fritz Weaver (Creepshow), Gretchen Corbett (Let's Scare Jessica To Death), Jon Korkes (Syngenor) and a young Christina Applegate (Married With Children, Streets, Anchorman) star. New High-Definition Transfer!

Extras include the theatrical trailer which shouldn't exactly surprise our audience. 

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