More H.G. Lewis to Blu-ray in January from Vinegar Syndrome

Another day, another new cult video label, though I dare say this one has me excited. Vinegar Syndrome (a subsidiary of the Process Blue restoration lab) take their name from that horrid destructive condition that has thankfully ignored my own meager 8-and-16mm library, and their aim is to rescue as many exploitation obscurities as they can manage from that same undignified and smelly fate. They’ve taken as their debut project a triple feature (in Blu-ray / DVD combo pack) of rare Herschell Gordon Lewis sexploiters, and by virtue of the HGL pedigree alone I can’t very well not support that. They’ve got a few other tasty morsels lined up for DVD and Blu-ray release as well, like Massage Parlor MurdersSavage Water and Death by Invitation, but what really has me excited for VinSyn’s future is this tidbit from their “About” page:

Film restoration can easily become a tricky subject especially with a lack of general consensus on how to do it ‘right.’ Our goal is to as accurately as possible recreate a theatrical viewing experience. We never employ any noise/grain reduction and use digital restoration tools only to remove or reduce severe image damage.

What’s that, you say? A label that just wishes to bring their properties to home video in as authentic-to-source a manner as possible while avoiding the digital pitfalls suffered by majors and minors alike? VinSyn are pushing all sorts of the right buttons with me, and here’s hoping it translates into plenty of groovy grindhouse video releases in the process.

As for The Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis triple feature Blu-ray / DVD combo pack, it streets January 8th and can be pre-ordered either directly through Vinegar Syndrome (free US shipping!) or through standard outlets like Amazon.com. The details, copied from the press release, are quoted below:

The Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis
Three previously thought lost sexploitation features from Herschell Gordon Lewis, the acclaimed master of exploitation cinema.

ECSTASIES OF WOMEN (1969) is a torrid comedy/drama set in the swinging world of late 60s Los Angeles.
LINDA AND ABILENE (1969) combines the savagery of a classic Hollywood western with sequences of intense eroticism.
BLACK LOVE (1971) exposes the lovemaking habits of the contemporary black couple through a series of amusing and creative vignettes.

All three films have been restored in 2K from their original camera negatives and are being released on home video for the first time anywhere in the world!

Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack Bonus Features:
- Original theatrical trailers for each film
- Extensive historical liner notes
- Special edition lab cards for each film

For samples from the 2k restorations of each film check VinSyn’s blog post here. They look damn good to me, so good that I’ve already pre-ordered a copy for the Wtf-Film video shelf. After the relative disappointment of Image / Something Weird’s HGL treatments I can’t wait to get my paws on this…

Daimajin Trilogy on Blu-ray from Mill Creek in September

Fans of giant monsters and jidaigeki alike should mark your calendars for September 18th, as that’s the date Mill Creek will unleash Daiei’s inimitable Daimajin trilogy on domestic Blu-ray. Those who want a primer on the films should check out our article here. Each and every of them is a long-time favorite of mine, and needless to say, I’m excited.

Quoting from Mill Creek:

In 1966, the Daiei Motion Picture Company – the studio behind Akira Kurosawa’s RASHOMON and the Gamera series – released a trilogy of films that combined elements of the popular daikaiju (giant monster) and jidaigeki (period drama) genres.  Set during Japan’s “Warring States” era, the Daimajin movies told the story of Majin, a giant statue of an angry god that would come to life in times of desperation to punish evildoers. But when Majin’s rage was unleashed, it could be directed at both the wicked and innocent, alike.

Acclaimed for their serious tone and spectacular special effects, DAIMAJIN, RETURN OF DAIMAJINand the rarely-seen DAIMAJIN STRIKES AGAIN present a unique take on a monster who is both savior and devil.

CONTENTS:

1. DAIMAJIN 
2. RETURN OF DAIMAJIN
3. DAIMAJIN STRIKES AGAIN

Bonus Features – All New English language track for DAIMAJIN STRIKES AGAIN

Mill Creek’s Daimajin 2-disc Blu-ray collection streets September 18th with a retail price of $24.98, and is currently available for pre-order through Amazon.com.

Score One for the Old Country: The Universal Classic Monsters Blu-ray Debacle

When I reported not so long ago that Universal’s new Classic Monsters Essential Collection Blu-ray was due in October, I was under the impression that Amazon’s pre-order price for the title – $111.99 for the 8-disc set – was perfectly reasonable. That was before news of the UK edition arrived, and I’ve since changed my tune dramatically.

Quoting from Amazon.co.uk, the specs for the release are as follows (region coding is unknown at present):

For the first time ever, eight of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces of the horror genre are available together on Blu-ray as Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection. Digitally restored in perfect high-definition picture and perfect high-definition sound. This essential set includes a never-before-seen featurette about the restoration of Dracula and the first ever offering of Creature from the Black Lagoon in its restored Blu-ray 3D version.

Contain hours of bonus features, a 44 page booklet and 8 exclusive art cards with original theatrical posters.

Dracula (1931):
The original 1931 movie version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale has for generations defined the iconic look and terrifying persona of the famed vampire. Dracula owes its continued appeal in large part due to Bela Lugosi’s indelible portrayal of the immortal Count Dracula and the flawless direction of horror auteur Tod Browning.

Bonus Features: Dracula: The Restoration – New Featurette Available for The First Time!, Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About the Making of Dracula, Dracula Archives, Score by Philip Glass performed by the Kronos Quartet, Feature Commentary by Film Historian David J. Skal, Feature Commentary by Steve Haberman, Screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It , Trailer Gallery

Frankenstein (1931):
Boris Karloff stars as the screen’s most tragic and iconic monster in what many consider to be the greatest horror film ever made. Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) dares to tamper with the essential nature of life and death by creating a monster (Karloff) out of lifeless human body parts. Director James Whale’s adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel and Karloff’s compassionate portrayal of a creature groping for identity make Frankenstein a timeless masterpiece.

Bonus Features: The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster, Karloff: The Gentle Monster, Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About The Making of Frankenstein, Universal Horror, Frankenstein Archives, Boo!: A Short Film, Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer, Feature Commentary with Historian Sir Christopher Frayling, 100 Years Of Universal: Restoring the Classics, Trailer Gallery

The Mummy (1932):
Horror icon Boris Karloff stars in the original 1932 version of The Mummy in which a team of British archaeologists accidentally revives a mummified high priest after 3,700 years. Alive again, he sets out on an obsessive-and deadly-quest to find his lost love. Over 50 years after its first release, this brooding dream-like horror classic remains a cinematic masterpiece.

Bonus Features: Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed, He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art Of Jack Pierce, Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy, The Mummy Archives, Feature Commentary by Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong, Feature Commentary by Film Historian Paul M. Jensen, 100 Years Of Universal: The Carl Laemmle Era

The Invisible Man (1933):
Claude Rains delivers an unforgettable performance in his screen debut as a mysterious doctor who discovers a serum that makes him invisible. Covered by bandages and dark glasses, Rains arrives in a small English village and attempts to hide his amazing discovery, but the drug’s side effects slowly drive him to commit acts of unspeakable terror.

Bonus Features: Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed, Production Photographs, Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer, 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935):
The acclaimed sequel to the original Frankenstein has become one of the most popular horror classics in film history. The legendary Boris Karloff reprises his role as the screen’s most misunderstood monster, now longing for a mate of his own. Colin Clive is back as the proud and overly ambitious Dr. Frankenstein, who creates the ill-fated bride (Elsa Lanchester). The last horror film directed by James Whale features a haunting musical score that helps make The Bride of Frankenstein one of the finest and most touching thrillers of its era.

Bonus Features: She’s Alive! Creating The Bride Of Frankenstein, The Bride Of Frankenstein Archive, Feature Commentary with Scott MacQueen

The Wolf Man (1941):
Originally released in 1941, The Wolf Man introduced the world to a new Universal movie monster and redefined the mythology of the werewolf forever. Featuring a heartbreaking performance by Lon Chaney Jr. and groundbreaking make-up by Jack Pierce, The Wolf Man is the saga of Larry Talbot, a cursed man who transforms into a deadly werewolf when the moon is full. The dreamlike atmospheres, elaborate settings and chilling musical score combine to make The Wolf Man a masterpiece of the genre.

Bonus Features: Monster by Moonlight, The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth, Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr., He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce, The Wolf Man Archives, Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver

The Phantom of the Opera (1943):
This lavish retelling of Gaston Leroux’s immortal horror tale stars Claude Rains as the masked phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House. A crazed composer who schemes to make beautiful young soprano Christine DuBois (Susanna Foster) the star of the opera company, the Phantom also wreaks revenge on those he believes stole his music. Nelson Eddy, as the heroic baritone, tries to win the affections of Christine as he tracks down the murderous, horribly disfigured Phantom.

Bonus Features: The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked, Production Photographs, Feature Commentary with Film Historian Scott MacQueen, 100 Years of Universal: The Lot, Theatrical Trailer

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954):
Captured and imprisoned for scientific study, a living “amphibious missing link” becomes enamored with the head researcher’s female assistant (Julie Adams). When the hideous creature escapes and kidnaps the object of his affection, a crusade is launched to rescue the helpless woman and cast the terrifying creature back to the depths from which he came. Featuring legendary makeup artist Bud Westmore’s brilliantly designed monster, Creature from the Black Lagoon is an enduring tribute to the imaginative genius of its Hollywood creators.

Bonus Features: The Creature From The Black Lagoon in Blu-ray TM 3D, Back to The Black Lagoon, Production Photographs, Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver , 100 Years of Universal: The Lot, Trailer Gallery

The only substantial differences between this list and the specs for the US edition is the exclusion of the Spanish version of Dracula, considered by many to be the superior film, but don’t fret. While I’m unsure of why it is excluded from the spec sheet, Universal Pictures UK have confirmed that it will be included on the release itself, making this set nigh identical to its upcoming US counterpart with the exception of the possible differences in packaging.

Now for the kicker: The UK Universal Classic Monsters Essential Collection Blu-ray, including the same 8 discs of films and supplemental material, is currently available for pre-order at a whopping £37.49 through Amazon.co.uk. At present exchange rates the total comes to just $54.00, shipping included, for orders originating in the United States, or less than half the price of ordering the domestic equivalent!

Needless to say I’ve since cancelled my US pre-order – $55 plus in savings is too much to pass up on. While there is a slim chance that the set will be locked for Region B (the majority of Universal’s UK releases are region free duplicates of versions they’ve made available worldwide), those unencumbered by the troubles of region compatibility are encouraged to go the same route.

The UK Universal Classic Monsters Essential Collection Blu-ray is due for release on October 1, 2012.

Universal Classic Monsters headed to Blu-ray in October

Pre-orders are already available through Amazon (currently 30% off retail) and other outlets. From the press release:

For the first time ever, eight of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces of the horror genre are available together on Blu-ray as Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection debuts on October 2, 2012 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Digitally restored from high resolution film elements in perfect high-definition picture and perfect high-definition sound for the first time ever, Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection brings together the very best of Universal’s legendary monsters—imaginative and technically groundbreaking tales of terror that launched a uniquely American movie genre. This definitive collection features eight films on Blu-ray, a collectible 48-page book featuring behind-the-scenes photographs, original posters, correspondence and much more.  Each iconic film is accompanied by an array of bonus features that tell the fascinating story of its creation and history, including behind-the-scenes documentaries, filmmaker commentaries, interviews, storyboards, photo galleries, and trailers. Especially appealing for fans are a never-before-seen featurette about the restoration of Dracula and the first ever offering of Creature from the Black Lagoon in its restored Blu-ray 3D version.

From the era of silent movies through the present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection honors the studio’s accomplishments with the most iconic monsters in motion-picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Featuring performances by legends of the horror genre, including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester, these eight iconic films also feature groundbreaking special effects and innovative makeup that continue to influence filmmakers into the 21st century. Sure to be a Halloween favorite for years to come, Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection is the ideal gift for film buffs and horror aficionados alike.

Synopses and Bonus Features

Dracula (1931)

The original 1931 movie version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale has for generations defined the iconic look and terrifying persona of the famed vampire. Dracula owes its continued appeal in large part due to Bela Lugosi’s indelible portrayal of the immortal Count Dracula and the flawless direction of horror auteur Tod Browning. The Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection includes the original version of this chilling and evocative tale, as well as the rarely seen Spanish version of Dracula. Filmed simultaneously with the English language version, the Spanish version ofDracula is an equally ominous vision of the horror classic shot with the same sets and script. Cinematographer George Robinson and a vibrant cast including Carlos Villarias and Lupita Tovar deliver a chilling and evocative tale filled with the same terror, mystery, and intrigue.

Bonus Features:

  • Dracula, the 1931 Spanish version, with Introduction by Lupita Tovar Kohner
  • The Road to Dracula
  • Lugosi: The Dark Prince
  • Dracula: The Restoration – New Featurette Available for The First Time!
  • Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About the Making of Dracula
  • Dracula Archives
  • Score by Philip Glass performed by the Kronos Quartet
  • Feature Commentary by Film Historian David J. Skal
  • Feature Commentary by Steve Haberman, Screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It  
  • Trailer Gallery

Frankenstein (1931)

Boris Karloff stars as the screen’s most tragic and iconic monster in what many consider to be the greatest horror film ever made. Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) dares to tamper with the essential nature of life and death by creating a monster (Karloff) out of lifeless human body parts. Director James Whale’s adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel and Karloff’s compassionate portrayal of a creature groping for identity make Frankenstein a timeless masterpiece.

      Bonus Features:

  • The Frankenstein Files:  How Hollywood Made a Monster
  • Karloff: The Gentle Monster
  • Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About The Making of Frankenstein
  • Universal Horror
  • Frankenstein Archives
  • Boo!: A Short Film
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
  • Feature Commentary with Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
  • 100 Years Of Universal: Restoring the Classics
  • Trailer Gallery

The Mummy (1932)

Horror icon Boris Karloff stars in the original 1932 version of The Mummy in which a team of British archaeologists accidentally revives a mummified high priest after 3,700 years. Alive again, he sets out on an obsessive—and deadly—quest to find his lost love. Over 50 years after its first release, this brooding dream-like horror classic remains a cinematic masterpiece.

      Bonus Features:

  • Mummy Dearest:  A Horror Tradition Unearthed
  • He Who Made Monsters:  The Life and Art Of Jack Pierce
  • Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy
  • The Mummy Archives
  • Feature Commentary by Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong
  • Feature Commentary by Film Historian Paul M. Jensen
  • 100 Years Of Universal: The Carl Laemmle Era
  • Trailer Gallery

 The Invisible Man (1933)

Claude Rains delivers an unforgettable performance in his screen debut as a mysterious doctor who discovers a serum that makes him invisible. Covered by bandages and dark glasses, Rains arrives in a small English village and attempts to hide his amazing discovery, but the drug’s side effects slowly drive him to commit acts of unspeakable terror. Based on H.G. Welles’ classic novel and directed by the master of macabre, James Whale, The Invisible Man fueled a host of sequels and features revolutionary special effects that are still imitated today.

      Bonus Features:

  • Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed
  • Production Photographs
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
  • 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The acclaimed sequel to the original Frankenstein has become one of the most popular horror classics in film history. The legendary Boris Karloff reprises his role as the screen’s most misunderstood monster, now longing for a mate of his own. Colin Clive is back as the proud and overly ambitious Dr. Frankenstein, who creates the ill-fated bride (Elsa Lanchester). The last horror film directed by James Whale features a haunting musical score that helps make The Bride of Frankenstein one of the finest and most touching thrillers of its era.

      Bonus Features:

  • She’s Alive! Creating The Bride Of Frankenstein
  • The Bride Of Frankenstein Archive
  • Feature Commentary with Scott MacQueen
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics
  • Trailer Gallery

The Wolf Man (1941)

Originally released in 1941, The Wolf Man introduced the world to a new Universal movie monster and redefined the mythology of the werewolf forever. Featuring a heartbreaking performance by Lon Chaney Jr. and groundbreaking make-up by Jack Pierce, The Wolf Man is the saga of Larry Talbot, a cursed man who transforms into a deadly werewolf when the moon is full. The dreamlike atmospheres, elaborate settings and chilling musical score combine to make The Wolf Man a masterpiece of the genre.

      Bonus Features:

  • Monster by Moonlight
  • The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth
  • Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr.
  • He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce
  • The Wolf Man Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Trailer Gallery

Phantom of the Opera (1943)

This lavish retelling of Gaston Leroux’s immortal horror tale stars Claude Rains as the masked phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House. A crazed composer who schemes to make beautiful young soprano Christine DuBois (Susanna Foster) the star of the opera company, the Phantom also wreaks revenge on those he believes stole his music. Nelson Eddy, as the heroic baritone, tries to win the affections of Christine as he tracks down the murderous, horribly disfigured Phantom.

Bonus Features:

  • The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked
  • Production Photographs
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Scott MacQueen
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Theatrical Trailer

Creature from the Black Lagoon  (1954)

Captured and imprisoned for scientific study, a living “amphibious missing link” becomes enamored with the head researcher’s female assistant (Julie Adams). When the hideous creature escapes and kidnaps the object of his affection, a crusade is launched to rescue the helpless woman and cast the terrifying creature back to the depths from which he came. Featuring legendary makeup artist Bud Westmore’s brilliantly designed monster, Creature from the Black Lagoon is an enduring tribute to the imaginative genius of its Hollywood creators.

Bonus Features:

  • The Creature From The Black Lagoon in 3D
  • Back to The Black Lagoon
  • Production Photographs
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Trailer Gallery

Provided Universal can keep their filtering proclivities at tasteful levels for these classic films, this could easily shape up to be the genre release of the year (and perhaps of the format thus far). With my pre-order already in, here’s hoping for the best!

Halloween III, They Live, The Funhouse and Phantasm II headed to Blu-ray from Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory have already done the work for me on this one, so I’ll just copy and paste from their press release:

“Further underscoring its position as a leading curator and home entertainment provider of many memorable cult movie classics, Shout! Factory is proud to announce the launch of SCREAM FACTORY™, a new home entertainment series created to celebrate some of the most enthralling horror and sci-fi films with massive cult followings in cinematic history.

Debuting this September, SCREAM FACTORY™ boasts a scary slate of fan-favorite thrillers from the 1980s, many of which have never been available on Blu-ray™ before. Titles include HALLOWEEN II and TERROR TRAIN, (both starring “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis); the 30th Anniversary release of HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH; THEY LIVE from director John Carpenter (The Thing); Peter Benchley’s THE ISLAND starring Michael Caine, THE FUNHOUSE from director Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist); the nightmarish PHANTASM II; and the much-anticipated DVD debuts of DEADLY BLESSING, directed by Wes Craven (Scream) and featuring Sharon Stone in an early role, and DEATH VALLEY starring Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Story). Each title will be presented in anamorphic widescreen, and most will be released in a “Collector’s Edition” packed with new bonus content, archival materials, a collectible cover featuring newly rendered retro-style artwork, a reversible wrap with original theatrical key art and more!

On September 18, 2012, fans will rejoice as Shout! Factory unleashes HALLOWEEN II Collector’s Edition and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray and DVD. These two formidable titles inaugurate the SCREAM FACTORY™ home entertainment series and are now available to preorder at ShoutFactory.com and Amazon.com.

Pre-order links:

HALLOWEEN II Collector’s Edition

Blu-ray – http://www.shoutfactorystore.com/prod.aspx?pfid=5257867

DVD – http://www.shoutfactorystore.com/prod.aspx?pfid=5257866

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition

Blu-ray – http://www.shoutfactorystore.com/prod.aspx?pfid=5257869

DVD – http://www.shoutfactorystore.com/prod.aspx?pfid=5257868

Avid horror movie fans and collectors take note: those who order HALLOWEEN II: Collector’s Edition and/ or HALLOWEEN II: SEASON OF THE WITCH 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition will receive special collectible item(s) as gift(s)-with-purchase. For more information, please visit ShoutFactoryStore.com or ScreamFactoryDVD.com .

HALLOWEEN II Collector’s Edition Blu-ray & DVD

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, Halloween II follows the same ill-fated characters as they encounter the knife-wielding maniac they left for dead in the first film. It seems the inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the Haddonfield hospital. As he gets closer to his main target, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath’s actions. Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II is a spine-tingling dark ride into the scariest night of the year.

EXCLUSIVE LIMITED OFFER: Order the Blu-ray or DVD directly from ShoutFactory.com and receive an exclusive “Haddonfield Memorial Hospital nurse’s hat!” Less than 500 have been made, so these are only available while supplies last.

Read more @: Shout! Factory – Scream Factory

HALLOWEEN II Collector’s Edition Special Features (preliminary confirmed line-up):

Audio commentary with director Rick Rosenthal
Audio commentary with stunt coordinator / actor Dick Warlock
The Nightmare Isn’t Over – The Making of HALLOWEEN II, featuring Rick Rosenthal, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Alan Howarth, Dean Cundey and more..
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds- Revisiting the original shooting locations
Still Gallery
Theatrical Trailer, TV and Radio Spots

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH

30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition

Blu-ray and DVD

A murder-suicide in a northern Californian hospital leads to an investigation by the on-call doctor, which reveals a plot by an insane toymaker to kill as many people as possible on October 31st through an ancient Celtic ritual and deadly Halloween masks. Starring Tom Atkins, Stacy Nelkin and Dan O’Herlihy, this third chilling film from the popular Halloween franchise is produced by John Carpenter and Debra Hill and is directed by Tommy Lee Wallace.

EXCLUSIVE LIMITED OFFER: Order the Blu-ray or DVD directly from ShoutFactory.com and receive an exclusive 18”x24” poster featuring the newly commissioned artwork! Less than 500 have been printed, so these are only available while supplies last.

Read more @: Shout! Factory – Scream Factory

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition Special Features:

Audio commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace
Audio commentary with actor Tom Atkins
Stand Alone: The Making of HALLOWEEN III: Season of the Witch featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dick Warlock, Dean Cundey and more
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds- Revisiting the original shooting locations
Still Gallery
Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots

Shout! Factory will continue to present the on-going SCREAM FACTORY™ home entertainment series in 2012 and 2013 with specific release dates, extras and key art for the rest of the title lineup. Meanwhile, fans will are encouraged to follow us and click the “Like” tab on the official SCREAM FACTORY FACEBOOK page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Scream-Factory/103961936407493) for up-to-the-minute updates or visit ScreamFactoryDVD.com .

About Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory is a diversified entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their careers sharing their music, television and film faves with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD offerings serve up classic, contemporary and cult TV series, riveting sports programs, live music, animation and documentaries in lavish packages crammed with extras. The company’s audio catalogue boasts GRAMMY®-nominated box sets, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations. These riches are the result of a creative acquisitions mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit shoutfactory.com

Shout! Factory have been putting out a steady stream of respectable cult Blu-ray and DVD releases for several years now, and needless to say I’m stoked for this Scream Factory development (even without hard release dates for Phantasm II, They Live or The Funhouse). Now, if only the powers-that-be would get off their asses and put the rest of the Phantasm series out on Blu-ray as well…

The Colossus of New York & The Space Children, headed to Blu-ray from Olive Films

Previously released to DVD by Olive Films, Eugene Lourie’s stylish creature features the great Ross Martin (Experiment in Terror) as the eponymous The Colossus of New York - a massive robotic hulk powered by the brain of a brilliant young inventor. Also featuring John Baragrey (The Creeper), Mala Powers (City Beneath the Sea), and Wtf-Film favorite Robert Hutton (The Man Without a Body, They Came From Beyond Space). The Colossus of New York Blu-ray is slated for release on June 19th, and is currently up for pre-order through Amazon.com.

Also set for release on June 19th is former Universal B-producer William Alland (The Mole People, Tarantula) and director Jack Arnold’s Paramount sci-fi The Space Children, in which an alien intelligence uses children to tamper with a government space project. Famously mocked in late-season MST3K and previously unavailable on home video, The Space Children is arriving on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time, and is currently up for pre-order through Amazon.com.

 

Bava’s Demons to haunt limited edition steelbook this April

Gorehounds and ’80s hair metal apologists take note – Arrow Video’s long-in-the-works editions of producer Dario Argento and director Lamberto Bava’s inimitable schlock-rock horror classics Demons and Demons 2 are finally on the horizon!

Though delayed (…again) until April 30th and recently negotiated for Region B only (these were originally announced as All Region, but the licensor has since stipulated otherwise), Demons and Demons 2 are still looking damned attractive to my Stateside eyes. Perhaps the most promising news, beyond the usual spate of Arrow-produced supplements and superfluous packaging flair, is that the films are each being restored from the original negative not by the usual suspects, but by Cineteca di Bologna, who worked with Martin Scorsese to restore Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 2010. I hope this bodes well.

More exciting news arrived just a few days ago, when it was let known that, in addition to the standalone Blu-ray and DVD editions already planned, Arrow intended to released both Demons and Demons 2 as a limited edition steelbook combo release. Posts at the CultLabs forums show this to be a pretty impressive looking package, though it will lack some of the standalone editions’ considerable paper extras (including the switchable covers, fold-out posters, and exclusive comic book sequel). Actual on-disc content appears exact. The details of this limited edition 2-disc steelbook, quoted from Amazon.co.uk, are below:

INCLUDES:

- Limited Edition SteelBookTM packaging
- Collector s Booklet featuring brand new writing on both films by Calum Wadell
- Brand new HD restorations of both films
- Optional English and Italian audio and English subtitles for Italian and English (SDH) audio for both films

DEMONS SPECIAL FEATURES:

- The audio recollections of director Lamberto Bava, Special Make-Up Creations Artist Sergio Stivaletti and Journalist Loris Curci
- The audio recollections of the cast and crew, featuring Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, Geretta Geretta and Claudio Simonetti
- Dario s Demon Days: Producer Dario Argento discusses the inception of Demons
- Defining an Era in Music: Composer Claudio Simonetti on the Demons Soundtrack
- Luigi Cozzi s Top Italian Terrors: Cozzi discusses the highpoints of Spaghetti Splatter

DEMONS 2 SPECIAL FEATURES:

- The audio recollections of director Lamberto Bava, Mechanical Creations & Transformation Artist Sergio Stivaletti and Journalist Loris Curci
- Creating Creature Carnage: Extensive Interview with makeup man Sergio Stivaletti
- Bava to Bava: Luigi Cozzi tracks the history of the Italian horror film; from Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava to the end of the golden age with Michele Soavi and Lamberto Bava as well as considering recent Italian horror films.

The Demons + Demons 2 limited edition 2-disc steelbook Blu-ray is slated for release on April 30th, and is available for pre-order through Amazon.co.uk. For fans in the US, it also currently costs £3.31 (a little over $5, plus exchange fees) less to import than the standalone editions due in large part to differences in shipping charges. Make of that what you will.

The already well-publicized standalone DVD and Blu-ray editions are still up for order as well. Click on the appropriate cover below to reserve your copy today:

   

Due to personal taste and even-tighter-than-usual finances, I’ve pre-ordered the limited edition steelbook for my home shelf – a comprehensive review will be readied as soon as it arrives. Stay tuned!

On Blu this week: Two from Twilight Time

On March 13th limited edition home video label Twilight Time will be releasing the latest in their Blu-ray line, one deep catalog release each from the libraries of 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures:

First up is 20th Century Fox’s lavish extra-wide 2.55:1 CinemaScope follow-up to 1953′s The Robe, the 1954 sword and sandal smash Demetrius and the Gladiators starring Wtf-Film favorites Victor Mature, Michael Rennie, and Ernest Borgnine, and directed by Delmer Daves (the original 3:10 to Yuma). From ScreenArchives:

DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS (1954) (PRE-ORDER) (BLU-RAY)
Starring: Victor Mature, Michael Rennie, Richard Egan, Ernest Borgnine, Susan Hayward, Debra Paget, Jay Robinson
Directed By: Delmer Daves
Composed By: Franz Waxman

VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 2.55:1
AUDIO: English 4.0 DTS-HD MA
LANGUAGE: English
1954 / Color
101 MINUTES
NOT RATED
NTSC REGION FREE
Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

“Spectacle, action, sex, and reverence.” — The New York Times

“Compelling screen story, and equally compelling direction…the trial of a man’s faith by the temptations of an amoral woman and a pagan Rome.” — Variety

“Spiffing gladiatorial combats…it’s a lot of fun.” — Time Out Film Guide

The thrilling sequel to The Robe (1953), Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) follows the further adventures of the Christian slave Demetrius (Victor Mature), sentenced to servitude as a gladiator in the Roman arena. There, his faith is tested in to-the-death combat and by the wiles of the seductive Messalina (Susan Hayward)—all under the obsessive eye of the mad Emperor Caligula (Jay Robinson). Director Delmer Daves brings epic sweep to the tale, supported by the bravura score of Franz Waxman (available here as an isolated track).

Enjoy the extensive Julie Kirgo liner notes and film art packaged with the Blu-ray disc.

Demetrius and the Gladiators is available as a limited Blu-ray edition of 3000, retail price $29.95, and is currently purchasable exclusively through Twilight Time partner ScreenArchives.com.

Arriving the same day is Richard Brook’s Academy Award-nominated 1975 western Bite the Bullet, starring Gene Hackman, Candace Bergen, James Coburn, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Ben Johnson, with a musical score from Alex North (Dragonslayer). From ScreenArchives:

BITE THE BULLET (1975) (PRE-ORDER) (BLU-RAY)
Starring: Candice Bergen, Ian Bannen, Dabney Coleman, Gene Hackman, James Coburn, Ben Johnson, Jan-Michael Vincent
Directed By: Richard Brooks
Composed By: Alex North

VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 2.35:1
AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
LANGUAGE: English
1975 / Color
131 MINUTES
NOT RATED
NTSC REGION FREE
Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

“A finely crafted, epic Western…a film that reexamines and reaffirms the Western myth. Brooks is a proven master.” — Roger Ebert

“An excellent, literate action drama probing the diverse motivations of participants in an endurance horse race.” — Variety

In Bite the Bullet (1975), writer/director Richard Brooks (The Professionals) gives us a Western on a grand scale, focusing on a 700-mile horse race across the bleakly beautiful landscape of the American Southwest. Entrants battling desert and mountain, freezing cold and blistering heat—not to mention their own inner demons—include a former Rough Rider (Gene Hackman); his old comrade-in-arms, now a gambler (James Coburn); a feisty onetime prostitute (Candice Bergen); a weary saddle tramp (Ben Johnson); a wealthy English toff (Ian Bannen); and an arrogant kid (Jan-Michael Vincent) looking to make his reputation. Featuring a score by the one and only Alex North (available here as an isolated track).

Enjoy the extensive Julie Kirgo liner notes and film art packaged with the Blu-ray disc.

The Bite the Bullet limited edition Blu-ray retails for $34.95 and, like Demetrius and the Gladiators, is currently purchasable exclusively through Twilight Time partner ScreenArchives.com. Be sure to follow Twilight Time on Facebook and Twitter to receive the latest release news and updates, and check back here as well – Wtf-Film will have comprehensive coverage of both releases available as soon as our copies arrive.

The Deadly Spawn: Blu-ray Update

In case you’ve yet to read it, I unloaded some pretty hefty (if totally justifiable) criticism at Elite Entertainment’s Millennium Edition Blu-ray of The Deadly Spawn when it arrived early last month. That disc was, for lack of better words, an utter disaster. That said, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Spawn fans after all. A new disc appears in the works, though details of it remain sketchy.

What we do have is the below image, posted by The Deadly Spawn‘s producer Ted Bohus on the Blu-ray.com forum (unfortunately only as a scaled-down 100 k .jpg) and said to be sourced from a fresh transfer of the film from the original camera negative. As always, click on the image to see it at its full resolution.

The above image appears exactly as it was provided (though I did change the name). Now, to better compare this new image to what has come before I’ve taken the liberty of scaling it to full 1920×1080 and saving it to .jpg at a quality setting of 100% in Gimp. The result – shared below – should not be considered a true indicator of the transfer quality, but for my purposes it’s good enough.

And now, to the past releases – the Synapse DVD from 2004, and the Millennium Edition Blu-ray released last month. Exact frame matches to the above were captured from each as full-resolution .png in VLC media player, then compressed to .jpg at a quality setting of 97% using the ImageMagick command line tool. I’ve included both the original 480p DVD image as well as a scaled-up 1920×1080 example of the same, for ease of comparison. The order is as follows: DVD / Upscaled DVD / Blu-ray.

Even given the compromised resolution of the sample Bohus provided the positive difference is unmistakable. The new image looks just that, considerably brighter with tighter contrast and detail and more heavily saturated color. Framing is also opened up noticeably on all sides.

Now it’s impossible for me or anyone else to judge anything based on how a single frame of it compares to that same frame in past editions, but having said that I’ll be damned if this doesn’t look like quite the improvement. At the very least there is a lot of promise here, and like other fans of the film who found themselves so disappointed with the Blu-ray I anxiously await further updates of this forthcoming new new edition.


UPDATE (3/17/2012): Bohus’ latest (quoted from the Blu-ray.com forum) is unfortunately less encouraging than the above:

“Well, after doing a bunch of tests, I’m just not happy with the grain situation. Some scenes are fantastic, but others are so-so. I know most of you here say you don’t mind grain…but I hate it. Still tryin’ stuff…I’ll keep yuz posted….”

As they say, one step forward and two steps back.

Hammer Cares: Dracula Prince of Darkness BD/DVD replacement program up and running

Reports have been surfacing for a few days now with regards to audio sync issues on the (very) recently released Hammer / Studio Canal double play Blu-ray / DVD edition of Dracula Prince of Darkness. Those experiencing the problem will be happy to hear this, copied directly from Hammerfilms.com:

“We recently discovered a small audio synch issue within a couple of scenes of the Dracula Prince Of Darkness discs that were released on the 5th of March.

This problem occurred at the authoring stage where a fix was not implemented despite being supplied.

With this in mind we will be replacing any discs that have this issue present.

Please send your proof of payment and your address to enquiries@vdcgroup.com and we will endeavour to send a working replacement to you promptly.”

While I’d argue that such a fundamental issue should never have gone by un-checked in the first place, the fact that Hammer and Studio Canal have taken ownership of it so swiftly (just two days out from street date) is good enough. I’ve already sent in an email myself, and with the promise of replacements on the way any coverage of the release published here will come with some great big asterisks attached.