I first saw “Phantasm” thirteen years ago and it’s one of the more mind blowing horror films I’ve ever seen. It surely holds up better than the sequels, all of which I’d seen way before ever watching the original film. While “Phantasm” is still a bit of a goofy horror film in some instances, it’s also an entertaining one with some great moments of atmosphere and eeriness. Director Coscarelli is never afraid to stretch the limits of his premise, making “Phantasm” feel like some surreal nightmare that our characters are stuck in. There’s the demonic fly, the dwarf drones, and of course one of the best scenes involving character Mike watching the Tall Man stomp through his small town.
Once called “Stake Lander,” the follow up to the fantastic 2011 apocalyptic vampire film may be just a TV movie, but it’s thankfully a pretty excellent follow up to the original vampire thriller. “Stake Land 2” reunites just about everyone from the original film to extend the mythology of the original film and continue the epic journey of the enigmatic Mister and his young sidekick Martin. Except now, Martin is an experienced apocalyptic hunter who has managed to settle in to a life he loves, even in the midst of the end of the world. Despite Mister venturing out on his own, Martin has established a farm as well as married and had a son.
It’s a shame that this is the only movie that patient fans of “Phantasm” will be getting since “Ravager,” the apparent final film in the series, isn’t that much of a horror film. Despite David Hartman’s best efforts, “Ravager” feels more like a fan film for the “Phantasm” movie series than anything else. I went in to the movie expecting pretty awesome and big things and sadly only got the bare minimum. When the movie ended, I literally muttered “That’s it?” to myself. Even Angus Scrimm in his final role appears for a few minutes here and there, and is mostly seen in the prologue through flashbacks.
It feels like Director Phillip Stainsby has a large premise ahead of him that’s just way too big for a twenty minute movie. “Vision Room” has a short time to unfold its story and a large narrative that only has so much space to breathe. Thus what we’re left with is a movie that’s mostly captions and subtitles that establish the mythos, the concept, and the world, and only visits the actual characters sporadically. The movie feels almost like nothing but captions most of the time, and I wanted to see so much more characters doing things and moving the film forward rather than having director Stainsby explain everything to us.
After years of just being available on DVD and Blu-Ray in other countries and regions, Shout Factory comes to the rescue to deliver fans a deluxe edition of one of the most underrated action films ever made. Something of a spiritual sequel to Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” director Hill sets his latest gang land picture in an undisclosed period between the 20’s and 40’s in what is apparently New York. Sadly, Hill intended the film to be the first of a trilogy, but while we never got that wish, “Streets of Fire” still manages to be a single adventure rich in character and pulp appeal. Starring the incredible beautiful Diane Lane, and the fantastic Michael Pare, “Streets of Fire” is a rock and roll musical, romance, gangster, action, adventure. It has everything for mostly everyone and it gets better with every viewing.
Wes Craven’s survival horror film is a bit rough around the edges in terms of editing and acting, but that’s also why it’s so stark and creepy. It’s a gritty and grimy film much like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and its tone lends it something of a semi-documentary aesthetic. Everything, right down to the final shot feels so probable and possible of happening in this universe. It’s the destruction of the nuclear family by the ultimate clan of what society would normally deem the antithesis of the traditional family. Not to mention it’s the society cannibalizing one another right down to the very last man. I initially didn’t enjoy “The Hills Have Eyes” when I saw it a decade ago, but watching it again has allowed me to really enjoy what Craven intended and how soaked in dread and violence it is.
On the anniversary of Richard Kelly’s unparalleled masterpiece, “Donnie Darko” is given a wonderful treatment a la Arrow Video. The set features not only the theatrical cut, but the extended director’s cut, as well as a plethora of special features and unique collectibles for fans of the universe he’s created. Except for “S. Darko” (Kelly has publicly denounced that alleged “sequel” to his film). That said, “Donnie Darko” from Arrow depends on your enjoyment of the movie, since the original film was given a nifty release years ago, as well as the Director’s Cut, but both cuts differ vastly in quality and pacing. I’ve expressed my love for “Donnie Darko” in the past, as it’s a stunning and gripping labyrinth of mystery that combines horror, fantasy, surrealism, and existentialism in a tale about parallel universes and fate.
For fans that missed it the first time, Mill Creek Entertainment re-releases their stellar home version of “Gone in 60 Seconds” but now with a Digital Copy for buyers. Mill Creek is finally entering the digital arena for folks that bypass physical copies, and it’s a wise investment. The new release garners a restored and remastered version of the 1974 action film, and it’s a neat addition to the sub-genre of car based action films. “Gone in 60 Seconds” takes its premise and doles out a very solid and exciting action film with a slew of mesmerizing car chase sequences that are far more engrossing than the painfully inferior remake from 2000.