There’s something kind of charming about Alex Merkin’s “House of the Witch.” It’s a straight up rip off of “Night of the Demons” while also feeling a lot like a fan film for “The Blair Witch Project.” It’s part are all from much better movies made before, but even at its most clunky, I didn’t have a bad time. “House of the Witch” is that kind of movie you could probably appreciate as a passing treat on a random night if you had absolutely nothing to do. I also found the final scene to be pretty damn clever, as it at least gives us a reason for the seemingly random series of events that unfold.
The explanations I’ve read on online for “Simon, King of the Witches” insist that the obscure Andrew Prine movie is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s strictly dark comedy. But then you watch one of the most nonsensical unnecessary opening monologues ever filmed, and wonder if the writer himself was high while creating this genre confused tedious mess. “I really am one of the few true magicians,” Simon insists in the prologue, while declaring his affinity for magic, and aspirations to be a god. It is then followed by the man being arrested for vagrancy while being hulled away from his home: a sewer.
One of the most influential J-Horror movie series has been compiled on to Blu-Ray for the first time in typical Arrow Video deluxe fashion for cineastes and fans alike. Anyone that loves the “Ringu” movie series will enjoy how the series is compiled in basic chronological order rather than release date order (Oddly enough the 2002 American remake and “Sadako vs. Kayako” are not included). Despite “Ringu” being one of the most influential entry of its kind (giving way to the superior remake, which rocketed the big J-Horror boom of the aughts), the movies have never really seen a Blu-Ray release. But that’s changed as Arrow has brought fans a wonderful new set.
1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” is and is still widely considered the definitive fantasy masterpiece that has barely aged after so many decades. Even film fans that don’t care much for older films still have a hard time turning down “The Wizard of Oz” and ignoring its indefinable charm, and sense of adventure. Victor Fleming’s “The Wizard Of Oz” remains one of the most influential and engaging masterpieces, one filled with awe, surrealism, and a healthy sense of mystery, even eighty years after its initial release.
The Wheat Brothers have managed to rack up a pretty interesting body of work in the horror genre since the eighties, and with “After Midnight” they deliver what is pretty middling as an anthology. In a period that included “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” shortly after, “After Midnight” doesn’t re-invent the wheel. It’s mostly just an entry of the decade that serves its intended purpose as a horror film that could double as filler for a boring Saturday night.
While I wouldn’t peg the Mick Garris fueled “Nightmare Cinema” a horror masterpiece, I had a good time with the selection of horror stories, and loved how various storytellers in the film managed to go in completely different directions than I originally thought they would. Despite a shifty story frame, like most horror anthologies, “Nightmare Cinema” is a mixed bag of horror treats that will click with most lovers of the format, if only for its ambition and style.
Few people actually recall that Maxwell Atoms’ iconic characters, Billy and Mandy, were first introduced as part of Cartoon Network’s “Grim & Evil” where they shared a series with the cast of Evil Con Carne. Though “Grim & Evil” only lasted 30 episodes, the pint-sized hell-raisers would soon live on in one of the most successful spin-offs of all time from Cartoon Network’s golden age: “Billy & Mandy” (as I’ll refer to it from here on out) is one of the last really great series from the CN’s “Cartoon Cartoon” era.
From Mill Creek Entertainment comes the perfect Halloween treat, The Complete series of “Forever Knight.” If ever there was a nineties series, it’s a show that takes a procedural cop drama and pairs it with vampires. One of the precursors to cult shows like “Angel” and “Blood Ties,” the syndicated series lasted for a total of three seasons and became obscure for many years after its run. This is shocking considering the series has its faults, but is genuinely a fun and Gothic vampire series. This was the decade where a lot of radical concepts were posed for television (Ahem—“Cop Rock”), but “Forever Knight” plays the whole premise with a straight face.