Blu-ray Review Round-Up: Vestron Video, “THE SHALLOWS”, More…Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
Now that October is around the corner, horrorheads are preparing to stock up on macabre movies and get into the Halloween spirit. With an impressive line-up of cult classics and new releases now hitting shelves nationwide, FANGORIA has rounded up the latest releases so that devoted fright fans can better decide which horror offerings are best suited for their home media collection…
If you’re a fan of completely bonkers horror comedies akin to FRANKENHOOKER and FREAKED, then you’re definitely among those who can appreciate BLOOD DINER. With a weirdly blissful balance of absurdity and ambition, Jackie Kong’s foray into a world of cannibalism, human sacrifice, amateur wrestling, competing restaurants, and eccentric townsfolk is one that feels like it should be discussed much more within the canon of the horror comedy subgenre. Luckily, that might just come true with Vestron Video’s new Blu-ray release of BLOOD DINER, which is guaranteed to please fans of the film and HD horror collectors as well.
With a great new video transfer and a Dolby 2.0 Master Audio mono track, BLOOD DINER has never looked or sounded better, and retains enough of the original film grain to its visuals to keep die-hard fans pleased. But for collector’s, the real draw for this BLOOD DINER Blu-ray is the hour-plus making-of documentary, featuring new interviews with the cast and crew, including Kong herself. The disc also comes with an audio commentary from Kong, an archival interview with Eric Caiden, TV & Radio spots, and more. To be honest, the high price for this Blu-ray is worth it for the film alone as it’s a time capsule of crazy filmmaking one just doesn’t see from the genre these days; this set comes highly recommended.
For those who prefer more family-friendly frights, LADY IN WHITE is the chiller for you. Offering more mystery, suspense, and dark fantasy in lieu of blood, guts, and mayhem, Frank LaLoggia’s old-fashioned horror film has had a curious life on home video, ranging from its “Director’s Cut” VHS release to the now-10 years old DVD release with over 30 minutes of deleted footage. But even considering it’s longstanding reputation as an atmospheric genre gem, LADY IN WHITE has never had a video release as impressive as the new Blu-ray from Scream Factory, which offers a brand new cut of the film as well as a wealth of bonus features.
Altogether, there are three cuts of LADY IN WHITE on this Blu-ray release, all of which sport superb High Definition transfers and top-notch audio: the 113-minute Theatrical Cut, the 117-minute Director’s Cut, and the 126-minute Extended Director’s Cut. Not only that, but filmmaker Frank LaLoggia’s personal stamp can be found all over the extras on this release: LaLoggia provides an introduction and commentary track for this disc, as well as introductions for the deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage featurette. Furthermore, LADY IN WHITE on Blu-ray includes a second, extended featurette showcasing even more behind-the-scenes footage, as well as a promotional short film, two trailers, and more. The sheer amount of work that went into this title warrants a recommendation, and for those going in blind, you’re likely to find a pleasant surprise in this eerie ’80s terror title.
I’ll admit it: this writer has a soft spot for killer shark movies, even those not named JAWS. Therefore, when THE SHALLOWS hit theaters last summer, this writer was ecstatic to get a solid survival thriller from the film, with Jaume Collet-Serra once again proving his mettle as a solid and diverse director within the genre. And now, fans of this horror hit can get even more out of this simplistic fright film with Sony’s new, and surprisingly collector-friendly, Blu-ray of THE SHALLOWS.
With the film shot digitally and with extensive CGI work, it’s no wonder that the 1080p video and 5.1 DTS audio transger is rather phenomenal on this Blu-ray. But where THE SHALLOWS impresses this writer is in the special features department, even though the lack of a commentary from Collet-Serra is a bit disappointing. But Sony makes up for it with a pair of excellent featurettes: “How to Build a Shark,” which breaks down the many means used to create the film’s killer creature, and “When Sharks Attack,” a compelling recount of real-life shark attacks from one survivor and several shark experts. But that’s not all, as THE SHALLOWS also features three short deleted scenes- including a shark foreshadowing moment that could have recontextualized the film entirely-, and two other behind-the-scenes featurettes. While it may be not the most stacked release on this list, THE SHALLOWS gets a lot of mileage on Blu-ray by featuring what fans of the subgenre want to see, and that alone is worth checking out.
For horror fans that complain that there are not enough original stories and practical FX in today’s horror climate, THE MIND’S EYE is a bit of a godsend. Oozing ’80s horror aesthetics, Joe Begos’ sophomore fright feature is ultraviolent and supremely fun, delivering the type of telekinetic terror title that just aren’t made anymore these days. And now, THE MIND’S EYE’s colorful cinematography and bombastic sound design hits harder than ever when the film comes to Blu-ray via RLJ Entertainment.
Another digitally shot film in this week’s listing, THE MIND’S EYE looks gorgeous in HD, with a sharp picture quality as well as a solid audio transfer. Yet if there’s any downside to this release, it’d be in the special features department, although it’s luckily not a barebones disc. The Blu-ray features two commentaries on the disc: an informal solo commentary from Begos and a more lively, eclectic Producer’s commentary with Begos, star Graham Skipper, producer/editor/actor Josh Ethier and producer Zak Zeman. But what will seal the deal for most fans of the flick will be the “A Look Into the Eye of Madness” behind-the-scenes featurette, with almost 30 minutes of on-set footage that might inspire you to pick up a camera and make your own FX-heavy horror offering.
At this point, I shouldn’t be impressed by the incredible work Arrow does on relatively obscure scare fare, but when I put in the disc for SLUGS, I can’t help but be floored. Not only does Arrow yet again offer the gold standard for genre home media releases, but in doing so, re-introduces SLUGS, a relatively gonzo killer insect film, to a whole new generation. And boy, is this worthy of rediscovery: with gooey, era-appropriate FX work, hilariously over-the-top narrative turns, and a shocking amount of competence and confidence behind the camera, SLUGS is a ton of fun and will make a worthy blind buy for those unfamiliar with the property.
With a stunning new high definition transfer pulled from original film elements and the original uncompressed PCM audio track, SLUGS looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray. But beyond that, Arrow unsurprisingly offers a ton of new features, including two audio commentaries (one from SLUGS author Shaun Hutson, one from former FANGO editor Chris Alexander), interviews with actor Emilio Linder, SFX artist Carlo De Marchis, art director Gonzalo Gonzalo, and production manager Larry Ann Evans, as well as the film’s 1988 Goya Award Reel. It’s a fantastic package for a surprisingly fun film, and comes recommended, especially for those who can appreciate the absurdity of a film about man-eating slugs.
Out of the two films making their way to Blu-ray this week via Vestron Video, CHOPPING MALL is definitely the weaker of the two titles. Nevertheless, that’s not to say CHOPPING MALL is anything less than a wicked and weird Jim Wynorski picture, one that toes the line between sleazy generic genre title and deft horror comedy. And even if you’re not the biggest fan of the flick, even the most hard-to-please horror fan will appreciate the amount of effort put into this Blu-ray release.
Of course, Vestron once again provides a top-notch video and audio transfer, and it’s fair to say that fans aren’t going to get a better presentation of this cult title anytime soon. But where Vestron really delivers this time around is in the special features department, with two newly produced commentaries, one ported-over commentary from the 2004 DVD release, an isolated score track, a retrospective featurette (a highlight of the disc), interviews with editor Leslie Rosenthal, robot creator Robert Short, and composer Chuck Cirino, and a vintage featurette showcasing the robot design. Even better, Vestron gets really fun with this release, offering a newly produced “interview” with the Killbots, a recap of an unproduced scene, and an interview with a CHOPPING MALL superfan who added a screen-used Killbot to his personal memorabilia collection. If that’s not enough to get you to buy-in on this terror title, I don’t know what will.
If your horror tastes lean more towards the brutal and sadistic, you’ll definitely gravitate closer to Andreas Marschall’s neo-giallo offering MASKS. With plenty of imagery to make you squirm in your seat, this German horror Blu-ray from Reel Gore Releasing is gory, creepy, and not for the weak of heart. But if you’re in the audience for what MASKS has to offer, the film absolutely delivers, and does so quite engagingly in High Definition.
Another digitally shot fright flick, MASKS sports a solid video transfer, with every ounce of nastiness shown with crystal clarity. But for horror collectors, MASKS goes the extra mile, offering an original soundtrack CD (an exclusive to this release), deleted scenes, a music video, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and more. A comprehensive release that’s often unseen with new releases stateside, if you can handle the vulgar viscera of MASKS, then pick this bad boy up for your chilling collection as it’s another feather in the cap of Reel Gore Releasing.
One of the most lauded international horror titles of 2016, THE WAILING is a truly unique possession tale. With humor, horror, drama, and gut-wrenching suspense, Na Hong-jin’s horror-thriller is another mark in Korean Cinema’s stellar genre offerings as of late. And with Well Go USA’s seal of approval, THE WAILING is now on Blu-ray, offering the finest picture and audio quality available for this eerie epic.
Unfortunately, the great film itself is almost all that resides on this High Definition disc. Outside of a standard EPK featurette, the film’s trailer, and a 5-minute “Making Of” featurette, THE WAILING is fairly barren on Blu-ray. However, the film’s phenomenal quality might just be enough to justify a purchase, although if you’ve already bought the film on Digital HD, there’s no need to double dip for this disc.