At the end of every year, I always take time to celebrate the newest crop of great genre flicks and while that’s definitely always a blast to do, for 2011 I wanted to do something just a little bit different.
With the onslaught of great classic horror films that have made their way onto the Blu-Ray format throughout this year in particular, I thought I’d have a little fun and celebrate the ten classic horror movie Blu-Rays of 2011 that knocked my socks off and would definitely be considered well worth making the upgrade to the high definition format for any die-hard horror fan.
Now, without further ado- onto the countdown! Hope you enjoy!
FRIGHT NIGHT (Twilight Time)
FRIGHT NIGHT is a film that really needs little to no introduction around these parts and for good reason. One of the more popular titles in Sony’s genre catalog, FRIGHT NIGHT is a much beloved classic not only to the horror crowd but fans of 80’s cinema. Tom Holland’s directorial debut is a loving homage to the vampire films of the 1950’s and 60’s featuring then cutting edge make-up effects (which still hold up amazingly well today) and some of the most heartfelt and memorable performances from an already seasoned and established cast of performers. As a storyteller, Holland wanted to cross a vampire story with splashes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” as well and wrote the FRIGHT NIGHT screenplay filled with unusually rich characters at a time when slasher flicks with disposable characters were all the rage (as evidenced by one of the tirades made during the film).
As someone who has owned and watched FRIGHT NIGHT in various incarnations from VHS to DVD to a 35mm print I saw a few years back, nothing so far has even come close to the beauty of this anamorphic 2.35 transfer presentation by Twilight Time. FRIGHT NIGHT has always been a very grain heavy film (especially on VHS and DVD), but this Blu-Ray not only manages to keep the film grain texture intact but tone it down to reveal an amazing amount of background detail that I’m shocked to admit I never noticed during the hundreds of times I’ve watched this flick. The textures that make up Jerry’s house are incredibly vivid, the atmosphere of Charley’s candlelit room has a feeling of warmth and intimacy that it has never had before and so many tiny details throughout FRIGHT NIGHT (including the contents of Peter’s vampire kit) really pop here. The coloring throughout the film is far more vivid than I’ve seen before and the transfer really breathes new life into special effects by Richard Edlund and Randall Cook, which have never looked better.
In terms of sound quality, the FRIGHT NIGHT DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is also nicely presented with background sounds finally coming in clear as a bell, especially during the Club Radio sequence when Jerry seduces Amy on the dance floor- the scene has never been more claustrophobically busy than it is here (but in a good way).
The main supplemental material for FRIGHT NIGHT is, for many film score enthusiasts, one of the horror genre’s holy grail that has been sought after since the film originally opened in 1985- Brad Fidel’s complete original score. Presented in a strong stereo mix on an isolated track, every note of Fidel’s haunting score is here for the first time and sounds incredible and immersive to boot. Fans also get a pair of theatrical trailers on the FRIGHT NIGHT Blu-Ray that were definitely fun to revisit as well (upon reflection, it’s amazing how spoiler-heavy the trailers were back then) and while I would have loved to see some bonus materials or a commentary track, that’s generally not how Twilight Time handles their limited releases of classic films so I won’t get too worked up over not having more bonus features to indulge in here.
For longtime fans, picking up the FRIGHT NIGHT Blu-Ray is a no-brainer; you’ve never experienced Holland’s modern genre classic quite like this and even with a $30 price tag attached, it’s still worth it as Twilight Time’s presentation here managed to reinvigorate the look and feel of FRIGHT NIGHT in ways I could have never expected.
HALLOWEEN II/TERROR IN THE AISLES (Universal)
Christmas came early for The Horror Chick this year with Universal’s release (finally!) of both HALLOWEEN II and TERROR IN THE AISLES (presented here as supplemental material for H2) in stunning high definition this past fall. The brand new 30th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of HALLOWEEN II is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and the fact that one of my favorite horror films of all time is being included as a bonus feature of all things is just like getting a ten-ton cherry on top of a Godzilla-size sundae; it’s an overload of awesomeness.
In terms of the transfer quality for Universal’s 30th Anniversary Blu-ray edition, I have to say I’m pretty pleased. I won’t pretend I’m a huge tech geek or anything, but I watched HALLOWEEN II two ways: in the 60hz refresh rate format (which is the standard way most people will see it) and then with the 120hz refresh rate on, which definitely improved the image and gave the movie a much crisper screen quality and more fluidity to the motion throughout.
And while HALLOWEEN II looked pretty decent in 60hz, it still has a grainy look to it and there are some scratches here and there, but overall it’s still better than the quality presented in the 2001 DVD version (which is my only frame of reference here). In 120hz, it blew me away. Like I said, I’m no tech geek so all I will say is that if you have the capability to switch over to 120hz on your TV, I say take advantage of it and check out the difference for yourself- the quality improvement is astonishing between the two. But regardless, the quality of the HALLOWEEN II Blu-ray is still a vast improvement over what has been released on DVD until now, and most fans should be pleased with Universal’s efforts here.
What truly saves HALLOWEEN II in the special features department, though, is Universal’s absolutely brilliant decision to include one of my all-time favorite horror flicks of all time, TERROR IN THE AISLES, as supplemental material to Rosenthal’s flick. While I am always the eternal optimist around these parts, even I could never have expected to see TERROR IN THE AISLES released now, especially in high definition. We’ve never even had a proper DVD release of the title so being given a HD version of the movie included in the same price as you’re already paying for HALLOWEEN II makes this disc one of the must-buy Blu-rays released this year for the die-hard fans out there.
In case you’re one of the uninitiated in terms of how much fun TERROR IN THE AISLES is, the movie stars Donald Pleasance and Nancy Allen, who sit in a movie theater filled with patrons documentary-style describing to us, the viewers, just what makes horror movies so appealing to fans everywhere.
Starring Donald Pleasance and Nancy Allen, part of what I loved so much about TERROR IN THE AISLES as a kid is that it introduced me to all kinds of movies I wouldn’t probably have discovered otherwise during my younger years- like Nighthawks, The Brood, Videodrome, The Eyes of Laura Mars or Suspiria. What also warms my horror-loving cockles is seeing Pleasance being his hammy old self and just relishing in every word he’s speaking throughout the movie. When he leans in to ask a young couple in front of him if they’re scared, you can’t help but smile at his devilish delivery to the startled lovers.
I couldn’t have hoped for anything better, and my proverbial hat is off to Universal for finally stepping up and giving the fans a little something extra this time around with their release of TERROR IN THE AISLES with HALLOWEEN II.
JURASSIC PARK ULTIMATE TRILOGY (Universal)
I think it goes without saying that JURASSIC PARK had been the long-time holy grail in terms of Blu-Ray releases (right along with the original INDIANA JONES trilogy) and was definitely one of the more sought after films since the HD format bowed in 2006. Thankfully, Universal made right by all of us tormented fans and released the stunning JURASSIC PARK ULTIMATE TRILOGY earlier this year that definitely made up for the wait.
The funny thing is that whenever you go back to revisit a longtime favorite like JURASSIC PARK, there is always a sense of nervousness- will it still have the same awe-inspiring effect it did back in 1993? Will it still be as enjoyable and has it held up over time? I can now say that after sitting down and revisiting the entire series that despite the passage of 18 years of CGI technology in its wake, JURASSIC PARK wears its age very well and the film seems as exciting and timeless as ever. The sequels, while inferior to their predecessor (and honestly, it’s no crime being second banana to a movie like the original JP), are still a lot of fun and all have made the leap to high-def seamlessly.
Now with the JURASSIC PARK ULTIMATE TRILOGY on Blu-ray, it’s an incredible experience for fans of all ages to finally be able to enjoy these films in HD at home for the very first time ever. In terms of bonus features (which is seriously like getting the biggest and juiciest cherry on top ever imagined served on top of a massive sundae made from sheer awesomeness), you get all of the previously released extras that came out alongside the DVDs a few years back coupled with a new 6-part retrospective on the making of JURASSIC PARK which involves brand new interviews with Steven Spielberg, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, the original kids and a ton of the other cast and crew including a lot of the effects guys. Fans and newcomers alike will no doubt enjoy settling in for this retrospective series as it fondly remembers the world of the original JURASSIC PARK and more.
The bottom line here for any fan of Spielberg or fan of this franchise is whether or not it would be considered money well spent making the upgrade to the Blu-Ray collection over the DVD box set that’s been out for a few years now. And the answer to that question is absolutely yes- with a solid selection of extras, a wonderfully remastered 7.1 sound that feels like T-Rex is stomping around your living room alongside the best looking home release of the films to date (the dinosaurs are still stunning sights to behold), there is no doubt that the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is most definitely an adventure ride worth taking.
MIMIC: DIRECTOR’S CUT (LionsGate)
For those of you who may never had heard about any of the controversy surrounding MIMIC when it was released back in 1997, then now is as good a time as any to get you caught up. When it originally hit theaters courtesy of Miramax, director Guillermo del Toro’s MIMIC was far from the movie he had hoped it would be.
A then up-and-coming director, del Toro was looking to make more of a character study style horror flick with MIMIC while the always controversial Weinstein’s had a different opinion on the matter and wanted something more along the lines of a rock ‘em, sock ‘em creature feature. When everything was said and done on MIMIC, the movie vastly differed from del Toro’s original vision with most of his footage being replaced by second unit shots giving the movie a slew of unnecessary jump scares and not a lot of story substance remaining.
Sure, MIMIC’s theatrical version was fun enough but it’s always been one of those “what could have been” projects for me; would the movie have fared better had del Toro’s approach been upheld or was it just an average creature feature from the start? It’s something that’s always been hard to tell…until now. So now that Miramax is no longer under the thumb of Bob and Harvey Weinstein, del Toro made his move and took back his film to create a director’s cut of MIMIC that is the closest we’ll ever get to experiencing the director’s original vision.
The Blu-Ray transfer of MIMIC looks absolutely incredible, capturing the essence of del Toro’s hauntingly striking style of filmmaking to a “T,” making even the most grotesque images seem beautiful through his eyes. It’s also fascinating to go back and visit one of the visionary director’s first feature films being someone became a fan based on his more recent films including THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE, BLADE 2, HELLBOY 1 &2, and PAN’S LABYRINTH if only to see the evolution of his directing approach.
MIMIC: The Director’s Cut also comes loaded with a boatload of special features that makes it very much worth owning rather than renting. The release features an eye-opening (and very candid) commentary track by del Toro, a video prologue with del Toro where he quickly discusses his love for MIMIC and his decision to go back and recut the film after all these years. There are also several featurettes including “Reclaiming MIMIC” where del Toro talks more in depth about his lost vision for the film as well as a few deleted scenes, storyboard animatics, a gag reel, and the theatrical trailer.
The bottom line is that MIMIC: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT is money well-spent for die-hard and casual fans alike and it’s an amazing landmark in the realm of filmmaking; not every day do you see a director taking a movie back like del Toro has here and his vast efforts were well worth it because the MIMIC Blu-Ray is an absolute gem of a release.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2/NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3 Blu-Ray Combo Pack (New Line)
It had been a while since New Line released the hi-def version of Wes Craven’s original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET so it was cause for celebration when some progress on getting fans HD versions of more NIGHTMARE flicks when both FREDDY’S REVENGE (NOES 2) and DREAM WARRIORS (NOES 3) were released on a Blu-Ray Double Disc Edition. And while I was happy to finally get better quality movies, I’m sad to say that I found the handling of the bonus features pretty abysmal.
I’m sure if you’re reading this review then you already know the lowdown on what happens during both FREDDY’S REVENGE (Krueger uses the new teenage resident of 1428 Elm Street as his own killer puppet in real-life) and DREAM WARRIORS (a new group of “Elm Street Children” are brought together through their admittance to a treatment facility after each of them become stalked in their dreams by Freddy) so I won’t necessarily take much time in breaking down each plot. Suffice to say-if you’re over the age of 18 and a horror fan, then chance are you’ve seen both flicks and probably multiple times to boot. On the off-hand chance you haven’t seen either film then I would say that the Blu-Ray release is a great way to experience both films for the first-time ever.
So why exactly is the FREDDY’S REVENGE/DREAM WARRIORS Blu-Ray Combo worth getting then? For less than $15 (check Amazon.com for some great deals) I would say that this a decent release to add to your home collection but keep your expectations low because the bonus features are nothing to write home about.
On the disc they name off several “featurettes” that they’ve included for each movie (Freddy on 8th Street, Heroes and Villains, The Male Witch and Psycho Sexual Circus for NOES 2 and Burn Out, Fan Mail, The House That Freddy Built, Onward Christian Soldiers, Snakes and Ladders, That’s Show Biz and Trading 8s for NOES 3) which all sounds rather impressive, right? Wrong. All of the “featurettes” are just interview snippets presented individually where you actually have to go back and forth between the menu for each one just to watch them (talk about repetitive). And these interviews were all filmed back in 1997 (oddly enough, they’re NOT the ones included on my DVD box set from 1999) so they’re all incredibly dated and just disjointed all around. Bummer Summer.
But what ended up being a saving grace in terms of bonus features for the Blu-Ray Combo release of FREDDY’S REVENGE and DREAM WARRIORS was including the Dokken music video for NOES 3 which features both Robert Englund and Patricia Arquette having some fun with the hair metal rockers. That’s almost worth the price of the disc alone as it’s hard to not have a smile on your face while watching that video (who knew Dokken haunted Krueger’s dreams? Must be the sequined jackets!).
Overall, the only real reason I’d see not to pick up the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 & 3 Blu-Ray is if you’re holding out for a box set down the road. Seeing how they skimped this time around, it doesn’t seem like New Line’s really invested in these releases anyway so I suspect this is the best we’re going to get for a long time. But the transfers look really vibrant (in both 60hz and 120hz) and should definitely appease the biggest Krueger fans out there.
DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (CBS Films)
As a horror-loving child that grew up during the 80s, I can’t help but wonder just how in the HELL did I ever miss seeing DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW until this year? Originally airing on CBS in 1981 and subsequently re-aired in 1985, it seems like something that I should have known about, and I’ll be honest… I now feel like I’ve been jipped by not having this flick as part of my childhood experience at all.
If you’re like me and DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW is a movie that you missed out on for all these years, allow me to get you caught up with the rest of the class on what has to be the best made-for-television genre movie of the 1980s and even quite possibly one of the best all-time TV horror flicks, ranking right up there for me alongside some of my own personal favorites including Salem’s Lot, It, Trilogy of Terror and Gargoyles.
In the film we meet Bubba Ritter (Drake), who is a mentally handicapped 36-year-old that has more in common with the 9-year-olds in his small town than he does with the adults his own age. A gentle giant lacking the ability to harm another soul, he’s falsely accused of killing a young girl named Marylee (Crowe) when he tries to save her from a vicious dog attack. Always considered a social outcast and drain on his community, a group of hillbilly vigilantes led by closet alcoholic postal worker Otis Hazelrigg (Durning) quickly point their proverbial fingers at Bubba for the little girl’s death and hunt him down so that they can execute him and rid their town of his “plague.”
In terms of the Blu-ray presentation of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, it’s not a movie I’ve ever seen before on any format (VHS, DVD or on TV originally) so I’m not exactly sure just how many improvements have been made here on the Blu. But as someone who watches a lot of classic horror flicks (many that are still not available on Blu-ray or haven’t even had a DVD release since the late 90s/early 00s because studios just don’t think there’s a demand), I feel confident in saying that I’ve seen a lot of crappy transfers so I can usually figure out if something looks decent or not to the average viewers out there.
And I would have to say that what we get on the DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW Blu-ray actually looks pretty great. The movie was shot in 1.33:1 so the flick is presented on the Blu in pillar boxed 16:9, which really didn’t bother me at all because the image quality is intact, which is something I prefer any day over stretching out a film just to give the illusion of a bigger image.
In terms of bonus features, it seems like they reused only two extras presented on last year’s DVD release of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW – the commentary track with director De Felitta and writer JD Feigelson and the CBS Network World Premiere Promo (which I advise holding off on watching until after seeing the flick if you’re a newbie because it is spoiler-heavy) – and gave fans of the classic a lot more to enjoy with the Blu-ray by also including a new production documentary, a reunion Q&A filmed with cast members Crowe and Drake and writer Feigelson, the 1985 rebroadcast promo and an extensive behind-the-scenes photo gallery as well.
The production doc is the real treat here on the DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW Blu-ray. Both promos are fun (the 85 version is just an updated twist on the 81 original promo), and I loved going through all the stills. In terms of bonus features you could want for a made-for-television movie of the 80s, it’s hard to imagine you’d be able to get better than what you get on VCI Entertainment’s release of the flick here since supplemental material wasn’t nearly all the rage back then as it is now.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Image Entertainment)
It’s hard to imagine a more iconic moment in the world for horror cinema than when Mary Philbin pulls Lon Chaney’s mask, exposing his horrific visage as he played the organ in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. The look of sheer anger that spread over Chaney’s horribly disfigured face is one of the moments that will always have the ability to haunt (and delight) audiences regardless of the film’s age (a whopping 86 years since the first release).
Horror fans (and general cinephiles too) were finally able to rejoice this year because a newly remastered high definition transfer of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was released courtesy of Image Entertainment and for those of us who have had to make due with crappy and grainy versions of the flick throughout our lifetime, high-definition is the way to go here.
Despite the passing of 86 years, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA manages to still deliver a good number of chills and with this latest release, PHANTOM proves that good storytelling will always remain timeless. The chandelier drop sequence is still a rather shocking moment, giving the film a violent jolt and the “Bal Masqué” sequence when Erik comes dressed as “Red-Death” (a reference to the Edgar Allan Poe tale by the same name) is still downright creepy and incredibly disconcerting.
For Image Entertainment’s Blu-Ray release of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, we get three different versions of the film varying length and quality and after some research, it looks like the best version offered here is the 24 frames per second 1929 reissue version that clocks in at a 78 minute running time. It’s got the best film quality of the pack and it really moves the story along well. And while many purists out there will argue that the 1925 version is THE true version of the film (justifiably so), the 1925 version suffers from some image quality issues, making it look blurry at times in comparison to its 1929 counterparts.
That being said, Image should definitely get some major props for including the 1925 version (which includes the epilogue not found in either 1929 version) on the Blu-Ray even if it’s not in the greatest of shape because it does offer longtime fans a completely new viewing experience which will no doubt be pleasing to those who have been waiting for a decent release of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for some time now.
In terms of sound quality, admittedly the last time I saw THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was on a 13-inch black and white TV I had in my room as a kid so I don’t know if I’m exactly qualified here to make any judgments, but overall everything here sounds rich and wonderful. There’s an all new musical score from the Alloy Orchestra that accompanies Gaylord Carter’s theatre score on the 1929 24 fps version, while the other 1929 version is accompanied by an orchestral score from Gabriel Thibaudeau. The original 1925 film features a piano score by Frederick Hodges that’s a bit more minimal sounding but frankly, there’s not a bad apple in the bunch. Fans should definitely be pleased.
EVIL DEAD II 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (LionsGate)
It’s hard to believe that in the heyday of the blockbusters of 1987, someone would consider making a sequel to an independent horror film whose biggest claim to fame was an endorsement from Stephen King with a theatrical release in mind but thankfully (for all of us)- someone did.
With nothing to lose, writer-director Sam Raimi and his merry band of misfits took some risks and changed things up on EVIL DEAD II by incorporating even more of their beloved slapstick influences, almost ensuring the film’s cult status out of the gate when it hit theaters in March 1987. It’s hard to imagine that anyone working on set alongside Raimi would have guessed that 25 years later EVIL DEAD II would be one of the most popular home releases movies of all time, garnering four DVDs editions as well as two HD releases, with the latest being the recently released EVIL DEAD II 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray from the good folks at LionsGate which somehow manages to be a ‘must-have’ for any fan out there, regardless of how many other copies you may already own. Kudos, LionsGate!
In terms of picture quality, the 1.85:1 AVC-encoded transfer of EVIL DEAD II looks nothing short of amazing and is infinitely superior to the DVD I purchased a few years back now. Sure, EVIL DEAD II is never going to look blockbuster-pristine like something Cameron might cough up, but the skin tones are spot on, the blacks are impressively deep and all of the detail is strong throughout, with the gore gags popping in each scene. The DTS-HD soundtrack on EVIL DEAD II is equally impressive on this release with Raimi thankfully realizing that sound design is just as important as image quality. On this release, the dialogue is clean and clear throughout, everything feels balanced and the use of silence is impressive.
The extras included on the EVIL DEAD II 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray include all the old stuff seen before on previous incarnations including the amazing audio commentary track with Raimi, Campbell, special effects maestro Greg Nicotero and writer Scott Spiegel which still remain by far one of the best genre commentaries ever recorded. They share stories, tell jokes and by the end the viewer knows pretty much everything they could want to about the making of EVIL DEAD II. From the previous releases we also get the behind-the-scenes “The Gore, the Merrier” which gives a solid overview of the production using behind-the-scenes footage as well as “Behind the Screams” which takes a look at EVIL DEAD II’s visual effects.
The new bonus material kicks off with a 91-minute documentary broken into seven parts entitled “Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead II” which uses behind the scenes footage and new interviews to cover the film’s production and reception. Sadly Raimi doesn’t appear but despite his absence, it should definitely make the fans happy to hear that the usual suspects are interviewed and look back on EVIL DEAD II fondly. Also new to the 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray are a tour of EVIL DEAD II’s filming location in the twenty-first century that’s kind of fun as well as a highly entertaining 30-minute reel of behind-the-scenes footage shot by Nicotero which is completely worth the time. And finally, there’s a still gallery with all kinds of promo material for the film including ads and lobby cards which was pretty fun to check out.
So is the EVIL DEAD II 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray worth buying even if you may own the previous Blu-Ray or DVDs? Absolutely- EVIL DEAD II has never looked or sounded better and the bonus materials don’t get any better than this and despite the many previous incarnations of the film, I can’t imagine a better version of EVIL DEAD II ever being available than what LionsGate has given fans with the 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition.
SCREAM Trilogy (LionsGate)
If you’re like me and you’ve been waiting with baited breath for years for the Blu-Ray releases of the original SCREAM trilogy, your dreams (and mine) recently came true when LionsGate finally released the trilogy onto the stunning format earlier this year.
Just in case you’ve been living on the moon or some other distant planet since 1995, the original SCREAM trilogy was a landmark achievement in the horror genre by Master of Horror Wes Craven. At a time when horror was believed to be dead, Craven and original screenwriter Kevin Williamson collaborated on what would become the definitive horror film of the 90s hand down and then reteamed for a very solid and successful sequel just a year later with SCREAM 2. For SCREAM 3, Craven relied on a script from Ehren Krueger (who worked on the upcoming 4th installment as well) and even with all of its shortcomings, still managed to be a highly entertaining third installment- or at least, I think so. Most people in the horror genre don’t agree but I enjoyed the movie-within-a-movie feel of the third film and even Courtney Cox’s terrible bangs and wardrobe wasn’t enough to get me to hate on the film.
But onto the review of the Blu-Rays themselves- obviously, the SCREAM movies look infinitely better than the standard definition DVDs that were released in 2001. I’m not much of a technology geek but even I could tell the difference in quality between the Blu-Ray releases and the DVD releases- although some of SCREAM 3 Blu early on looks really grainy and messy, but that resolves itself by the time Ghostface is done disposing of Cotton Weary and his girlfriend in the film’s opening. LionsGate also scrubbed up the audio remixes for all three SCREAM films for their Blu-ray treatment and the work shows. The SCREAM DVDs never sounded so crisp or looked better.
My biggest complaint with the Blu-Ray releases of the SCREAM trilogy was the supplemental material included on these new releases is the very same from the Collector’s Editions so there’s nothing really new for fans in that realm and I guess with the first SCREAM celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, I was hoping for more. But honestly, with the box set that was released after the initial TRILOGY, LionsGate definitely made up for it there.
BASKET CASE (Something Weird/Image Entertainment)
I’m going to level with you, dear readers- I’d never seen the cult classic flick BASKET CASE until this year when I checked out the Blu-ray release from Something Weird Video and Image Entertainment. I have no idea how I missed experiencing BASKET CASE for so many years, but I’m certainly glad that this was my inaugural viewing for the movie because they really pulled out all the stops here.
Writer/director Frank Henenlotter recovered the original 16mm film reels for this transfer, making the Blu-ray the first time ever fans get to experience the madness and vibrancy of the flick just like Henenlotter always intended for us to.
Released in 1982, BASKET CASE was known for being one of those “you have to see it to believe it” kind of movies so that’s probably why it was one movie my mom just never let me walk out of the video store with as a horror-loving kid in the 80s. And if you’re a longtime horror fan, then it’s probably safe to say I don’t really need to sell you on BASKET CASE – if you have already embraced its oddball style and love Henenlotter’s hilariously gory cult classic, then you’ll want to make sure you pick up the Blu-ray for yourself. And if BASKET CASE isn’t a movie you’re familiar with, then this is the way you need to experience it your first time out- the way the director always intended the film to look like.
For the Blu-ray release Henenlotter created a brand new video introduction for the disc explaining the reasoning behind the release of a movie like BASKET CASE onto a high-def format (not a format you would regularly associate with a low-budget affair such as this) and why he wanted to present the film here using the original 16mm film for the transfer.
In terms of quality comparisons, when you look at the version of BASKET CASE currently available on Netflix Instant and judge it against what is being released on the Blu, there’s no doubt that this latest edition of the film is by far the best it’s looked in a long time. And if you have 120hz refresh rate capabilities on your flat screen, be prepared to have your mind blown because it’s highly unlikely that even if you were lucky enough to catch BASKET CASE in theaters in ’82, you still wouldn’t have seen the movie look as great as it does here. It’s still a 16mm film so don’t go in expecting high gloss or anything, but the movie definitely looks crisp.
The BASKET CASE Blu-ray is also bursting with even more bonus features than Henenlotter’s new introduction, making this a great value for horror fans out there. Not only do you get a wildly entertaining commentary with Henenlotter, producer Edgar Levins and cast member Bonner, but you also get a really fun video called In Search of the Hotel Broslin (which was not an actual hotel in NYC at the time of filming) and a gaggle of outtakes and BTS footage straight from Henenlotter himself and a few other goodies (like the classic radio spots) as well.
For those of you longtime BASKET CASE fans out there, this is a disc that is well worth picking up, and if you’ve never experienced Frank Henenlotter’s insane masterpiece that lovingly celebrates the sometimes schlocky and sleazy side of cinema, then I can’t think of a better introduction than this.