Hell Night (1981): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD]

Director Tom De Simone’s “Hell Night” usually gets lumped in together with a lot of the other eighties slashers, but in reality his genre offering is so much more unique than a simple hack and slash. “Hell Night” is a great Halloween horror romp that feels like something pulled out of a haunted house Gothic novel. It’s the perfect fixture for the holiday delivering a relentlessly bleak tone that makes it quite an unnerving experience all the way through. Linda Blair can do these kinds of horror movies in her sleep and she plays final girl Marti quite well, doing her best to battle a deformed monster in its territory.

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The Violent Years (1956): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

This is the story of Paula Parker, a petulant prepubescent princess whose depravities produced a plethora of death and deception. For shame, parents of Paula Parker, you dare not look after your teen daughter in the age of the fifties where crime was rampant. For the first time on Blu-Ray, it’s also a worthwhile title for collectors thanks to AGFA, “The Violent Years” is one of the many infamous baby boomer products of fear and hysteria that warned of a world filled with darkness, crime, debauchery, and premarital sex. Make no mistake, your teen would smoke the marijuana, and tongue kiss way before they matured in to upstanding citizens.

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Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

I think one of the many reasons why “Silent Night, Deadly Night” has remained a cult classic is because it’s anything but a simple slasher film. While many movies in the eighties were content with maybe just a movie about a hacking and slashing Santa, “Silent Night, Deadly Night” is memorable for being so insane. It’s a wacky, weird, mean spirited and demented horror movie with hints of dark comedy sprinkled in. The tonal inconsistencies and almost rapid fire highs and lows of the narrative make it such a horror oddity that you can’t help but love it. There are just about five movies in one, and all of them are pretty entertaining in their own right.

Hell, Linnea Quigley even appears for a moment because—the eighties…?!

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Fast Convoy (Le Convoi) (2016)

A convoy carrying drug to Spain hits a few issues on the road and must make due with what they can.

Written by Yann Brion and Frédéric Schoendoerffer and directed by the latter, Fast Convoy is a road movie and a drug movie while it also kinda feels like a heist movie in that these guys, in multiple cars, are basically trying to make it to a destination with illicit merchandize.  The film is rather character-based with each character traveling with a co-pilot and taking orders from an unseen man.  The story builds around them as they drive.  While the title is a bit misleading, the film does have a few car-chase-ish scenes which have occasional nods to different car films and may or may not be influenced by the Luc Besson way of shooting cars on the road (low to the ground, front car pov).  The car stuff is really one of the main appeals to this film and the scenes are well done and shot.

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The Belko Experiment (2017)

Like most of Greg McLean’s films, “The Belko Experiment” is just a big excuse to be as sadistic and inexplicably cruel as humanly possible, while taking pages from Koushun Takami’s “Battle Royale.” Coincidentally, another film in the same vein as “The Belko Experiment” came to theaters in 2017, in the form of Joe Lynch’s “Mayhem,” and while both films are insanely violent, at least the latter film had something to say about office culture and corporate politics. There’s a certain point in “The Belko Experiment” where it’s clear that McLean and writer James Gunn have no commentary on office culture and are by no means exploring the idea of fighting for a job through over the top violence, clearly just going for cruel unnecessary violence.

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The Shape of Water (2017)

What “The Shape of Water” ultimately amounts to is Guillermo Del Toro’s own adoration for monster and romance cinema. Del Toro constantly evokes shades of “The Creature Walks Among Us,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” while also channeling Woody Allen’s “Purple Rose of Cairo.” Much like the latter, “The Shape of Water” depicts a somewhat whimsical romance in a world filled with misery and darkness at every corner. Del Toro has a lot to say about the ugliness of humanity and the ideas of what monsters truly are in this world and others.

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Another WolfCop (2017)

If you loved the out there nature of “WolfCop,” you’ll be happy to know that director Dean Lowell rewards fans for their long wait for a sequel with “Another WolfCop,” a sequel that is so far out there, it’s surreal at times. Director and writer Lowell channels a lot of classic films once again, centering on our vigilante WolfCop as he protects his small town in the most violent methods, all the while concocting a premise involving the furry vigilante that feels like an amalgam of “Halloween III,” “V,” and “Howling II,” if you can believe it. That’s not where the wheel stops spinning though, as director Lowell deals his furry crime fighter a new villain that is beyond anything he’s ever experienced.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) [Blu-Ray/DVD]

What a lot of horror directors fail to understand about filmmaking is that sometimes what we don’t see can be more terrifying than what we can. That’s why Robert Wise’s “The Haunting” is still so impeccably terrifying, while the remake is such a lemon. There’s no room for imagination or perhaps the concept that what is menacing these characters is too horrendous for our minds to comprehend. The main reason why “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is so incredible is because director André Ovredal is brilliant about restraint and time and time again introduces us to a villain who remains a specter in our imagination. “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” genuinely spooked me, and that’s because director André Ovredal combines all the strongest elements of a horror tale and creates one of the most unlikely horror villains of all time.

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