on a Dock
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Bay. We lovingly call it The Bay around The
Bits' offices. They've given us plenty of good titles
over the years - Evil Dead,
Halloween, Romero's Dead
Trilogy. All good stuff.
In the last few months, Bill's been taunting me with Bay titles.
Always urging me, "Hey dude, stop working on our top secret
projects and give me Bits
content." And I'm all like, "When something of substance
comes out worth talking about, I'll write about it. Meanwhile, you
keep hammering at this bullshit format war and call me when it's
over so we can start talking about movies again."
Well... the time has come for me to talk about movies again. The
Bay has released my all-time holy grail, the one title I've asked
and asked about. But they didn't just release it. They made an event
out of it and gave us ALL of the early works of this master artist.
What am I talking about? I'm sure Bill told you on the front page
when he intro'ed this piece. But I'm going to pull a Seacrest and
make you wait to see my thoughts. Of course, you can totally face me
by just clicking to the second page of this review. You impatient
First, I'm going to appetizer with some other recent and fun Bay
titles worth mentioning. Stuff that Bill has clogged my short list
with. Let's start with two Masters of
of Horror: Pro-Life
2006 (2007) - Showtime (Anchor Bay)
Pro-Life is release number
two from Season Two of the illustrious Masters
of Horror line, from producer Mick Garris. This one
focuses on a frantic young pregnant girl, who shows up at an
abortion clinic claiming the spawn of the devil lies within her
womb. But is she telling the truth, or is she hiding something
far more sinister? Making things more complicated, her
anti-abortionist father shows up at the front door demanding his
to see his daughter, claiming that he hears the voice of God
telling him to do anything necessary to protect his daughter's
unborn child. Is HE telling the truth, or is he hiding something
Before you go looking for some deep meaning in those questions,
let me help you out - there's nothing to be found here. The
story is everything it appears to be: Yes, the girl's child is
demonic and yes, the father hears voices... but they're not
think this film may have been more exciting if there was something
more subtle or meaningful underneath all of the obvious here, but
alas... no such luck. This is by the book storytelling. Still, for
its disappointments, it's not a waste of time. Pro-Life
has its moments and works in its simplicity. Written by the team
behind one of the better episodes from last season (Cigarette
Burns) and directed by John Carpenter (who also directed
is a tight, violent Grand Guignol, with an always stellar Ron
Perlman turning in yet another great character piece. Love that guy.
The audio and video on DVD is very good, in anamorphic widescreen
with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. Extras include a commentary track
with the writers and Carpenter, a look at the special effects, a
thorough behind-the-scenes featurette, storyboards, stills,
Carpenter's bio and the script on DVD-ROM.
of Horror: Family
2006 (2007) - Showtime (Anchor Bay)
Next up is Family, from
cult comedy director John Landis and the writer behind the
acclaimed psycho-horror Frailty.
Leaps and bounds better than Pro-Life,
Family works on a lot of
different levels even after multiple viewings. Like Perlman in
Pro-Choice, George Wendt
makes this episode with his performance.
The story to Family is
quite simple and oh so creepy. A quiet suburban bachelor is
literally building the perfect family. His means are to kidnap a
person and, using a strong acid, burn their flesh off leaving
nothing but bone. Then he dresses the skeleton up and bingo...
he's got a loving wife, child or parent. In his madness, he has
long and engaging conversations with the dead, who love and
adore him. It's all incredibly creepy, but Wendt pulls it off
beautifully. The true fun comes when a happy young couple moves
in next door, and Wendt develops a major crush on the young
wife, soon deciding to replace his old wife with the new one.
But is everything what it seems? You have to watch to find out.
best thing about Family is the
depth involved in the story, that I found sorely missing in Pro-Life.
There's a lot here and the twists actually work very well. The whole
thing is scary, gross, funny and... in the end... very, very
The audio and video are both good on disc with anamorphic
widescreen and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 on board. Extras
include a commentary with the writer, a "making of" doc, a
look at the score, Landis bio, storyboards and the script on ROM.
2006 (2007) - Sci-Fi/Mindfire (Anchor Bay)
I really hoped I would've liked this better... but sadly, I did
not. According to the "making of" featurette this was
the Sci-Fi Channel's attempt at a zombie version of Blade,
and it looks like it was a movie pilot for a potential series.
I'm kinda glad it didn't go to series, because this would have
been a lame show. I think the "idea" could work, but
not in this form. It lacks what my new favorite metal band,
Dethklok, refers to as "Zazz."
Dean Cain stars as a super elite black-ops soldier who is
killed in a secret mission. However a mutant scorpion climbs
into his skin and brings him back to life during the autopsy.
Feeling it moving around in his circulatory system, Cain pulls
it out and kills it. This act is a major thing to note as, if
the scorpion makes it to your heart, you become a mindless
zombie. If it doesn't, well... you become undead and "more
human than human" as the song goes. Cain now has to save
the world by going across country to stop his former mission
comrades, who weren't lucky enough to kill the parasite.
for the ride here is motor mouth Guy Torry (American
History X) and super-hot Susan Ward (Wild
Things 2), as a military cook and film school nerd/hot
bartender respectively. Also look for a shady Peter Greene as a mad
scientist type who knows a lot more about the scorpions than he lets
As films from the guys at Mindfire Entertainment (Disclaimer: Bill
and I have a column in Geek
Monthly were we work with Mark Altman, a key player at
Mindfire and co-writer of this film. Hi Papa Bear!), this one is
actually a silly fun romp. But like the other films in the Mindfire
stable, it's a far better idea than it is an execution. Does Dead
and Deader suck? No. But it could have been a lot better
than it is, and for that you feel a bit let down. And damnit Mark,
if you're lucky enough to cast her, you just don't kill off Natassia
Malthe in the first few moments of any film if you want me to give
you a good review!
As with all Bay DVDs these days, the audio and video are both good,
with anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. Extras
include the aforementioned behind-the-scenes doc and audio
commentary (with writer Steve Krizere, Altman and composer Joe
Kraemer), as well as a stills gallery and the script on ROM. The
movie is worthy of viewing as a rental, so if you find yourself at
Blockbuster scanning the shelves and happen upon this, there are
worse ways to spend an hour and a half, believe me.
Anchor Bay Collection
- 1979 (2007) - AVCO Embassy (Anchor Bay)
We've reviewed this film before (quite well, I think), so doing
so again would be a waste of time and Internet space. That said,
this new version is definitely worth mentioning since we're
discussing Anchor Bay. So I'll approach it like this: If you're
interested in knowing what we think of the film and the original
DVD release, go
and read our review of this fine, fine tale.
Now then... this new DVD from The Bay IS a double dip, but is
it a worthy one? Yes and no. Sadly, it's missing a few of the
things offered by the original MGM release (namely a deleted
scene, radio promos, an Aussie TV spot, a stills gallery and the
original sound in mono). Everything else we discuss in the above
linked review, however, is here.
features aside, making it still worth considering is a new
featurette (Phantasmagoria), a
collection of deleted interviews from that featurette and, best of
all (and maybe worth the dip in the first place), a luscious new
anamorphic transfer with solid remastered sound. Given what's good
and new here, in the end we feel it's a worthy addition to your
classic horror film collection. If you're a Phan, it's worth the
upgrade. Of course, if you have the original release, you'll still
want to keep that sucker too.
III: Lord of the Dead
Anchor Bay Collection
- 1994 (2007) - Starway Int. (Anchor Bay)
Making its domestic debut on DVD from The Bay is Phantasm
III. Sadly, a Region 1 release of Phantasm
II isn't out yet, so if you're not familiar with that
film, you may be a little lost at first coming out of Part
I and heading right into Part
III. It's interesting to note that Part
II came out from Universal, and the studio
strong-armed Coscarelli a bit, leading to a few character holes
with Michael's actions and motivations. This may stem
exclusively from the fact that actor James LeGros was playing
Michael (and playing him well actually). But for the Phans,
everything went right with the world with Part
III, when A. Michael Baldwin was brought back as
Part III picks right up
where II left off. To help
fill you in, here's a short summary of Part
has spent seven years in an institution. He lies his way out, hooks
up with Reggie and, after the Tall Man attacks Reggie's family, they
go on a road trip hunting down the Tall Man and finding nothing but
empty graves and empty towns. They hook up with a young girl named
Liz, who has a connection to the Tall Man much like Michael has.
They battle the Tall Man eventually and seemingly win, only to find
that you can never win against something that can't die. Then the
car/hearse they make their escape in crashes, leaving us with the
question of who has survived?
Phantasm III picks up right
there. After a short intro by Michael in V.O., we conveniently chuck
out Liz and good ol' Reggie takes his patented quad-shotgun and
destroys everything that moves, taking a comatose Michael to the
hospital. Once there, we learn an interesting and helpful fact about
the sentinel balls, and then jump right back into the thick of
things. The new reunion is short lived, as the Tall Man grabs
Michael and takes him away from Reggie, who is forced to join up
with a young boy named Tim, a martial arts weapon wielding hottie
named Rocky and Michael's dead brother Jody. With this film, the
laughs come frequently, the gore is raised a bit, show mythology is
raised too and alot of new questions are asked.
Phantasm III is a good horror
film. It's not as "important" as the original and, because
of the actor playing Michael, it's almost incomparable to Part
II. It's sort of a do-over for Part
II, except not really. Phans of the series should be
excited to know that this DVD offers the uncut version, which has a
bit more gore included.
Video and audio are both quite good on disc, again with anamorphic
widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio. Extras include a fun
and informative commentary (with A. Michael Baldwin and Angus
Scrimm), a vintage behind-the-scenes video reel, trailers and a
to Part Two
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