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Currently showing posts tagged Aine Leicht

  • The Guardian (1990) Blu-ray Review

    The Guardian (1990)

    Director: William Friedkin

    Starring: Jenny Seagrove, Dwier Brown & Carey Lowell

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Based on the novel by Dan Greenburg, The Guardian centers on young parents Phil (Dwier Brown, Field of Dreams) and Kate (Carey Lowell, License to Kill) welcoming the arrival of their newborn baby.  Shortly after hiring the ideal live-in babysitter, Phil and Kate’s worst nightmare comes true when Camilla’s (Jenny Seagrove, Local Hero) supernatural intentions for their child are revealed.  Brad Hall (Saturday Night Live), Miguel Ferrer (RoboCop), Natalija Nogulich (Hoffa) and Gary Swanson (Vice Squad) co-star.

    Marketed as Academy Award winning director William Friedkin’s (The French Connection, The Exorcist) return to the horror genre, The Guardian modernizes the dark origins of fairy tales with the deep-rooted fears of all parents for a uniquely-suited picture.  Adhering to the ancient druid worship of trees, an evil yet, convincingly caring nanny (Seagrove) connives her way into the lives of unsuspecting parents in order to sacrifice their newborn babies.  Disappearing only to resurface under a new identity as Camilla, Phil (Brown) and Kate (Lowell) hire the charmingly attractive woman to care for their newborn only to find themselves rattled by unsettling nightmares and the declining health of their baby.  While local friends fall victim to Camilla’s wicked ways courtesy of flesh-eating wolves, the couple’s suspicions are validated after a grieving former victim comes forward to warn the couple of the monster living under their roof.  Unsuccessfully convincing the authorities of the supernatural powers at play, Phil and Kate must trek to the source of the evil in order to protect their baby’s soul.

    Previously developed for Director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spider-Man) before jumping ship to helm Darkman, the project would suffer through several grueling rewrites once Friedkin joined the production.  With the foundation of a solid premise, The Guardian falters due to its noticeably shaky screenplay and Friedkin’s quick-cutting that capsizes any effect the film’s scarier moments intend.  Although sequences of homicidal trees dismembering three deserving thugs make for solid eye-candy, The Guardian’s dark fairy tale tone finds itself largely lost in the woods.  Failing to attract audiences or sizable box-office returns with Friedkin also distancing himself from the project, The Guardian has marginally grown in appreciation amongst cult cinema circles.  Hardly reaching the quality of Friedkin’s devil-possessing 1973 classic, The Guardian, with its occasionally striking moments of grim imagery, is neither entirely forgettable nor remarkably memorable.  

    Scream Factory presents The Guardian with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Amidst several instances of flakes and specks, skin tones appear well saturated and boasting natural appearances.  Meanwhile, colors are strongly enforced with greenery and moments of gore popping most nicely.  With countless sequences shrouded in darkness and shadow, black levels appear inky and well detailed.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is prominently handled with audibility never an issue.  Furthermore, moments of suspenseful intensity including Ned’s savage assault from wolves and Phil’s chainsaw-wielding battle in the film’s final act are sharp and effective.  Packed with a varied assortment of new and vintage supplements, special features include, A Happy Coincidence with Dwier Brown (21:56), From Strasberg to The Guardian with Gary Swanson (10:10), A Mother’s Journey with Natalija Nogulich (11:33), Scoring the Guardian with Jack Hues (6:40) and Tree Woman: The Effects of The Guardian with Matthew Mungle (13:07) all produced by Aine Leicht’s dependable Cavetown Pictures.  Also included, Return to the Genre: An Interview with William Friedkin (17:25), The Nanny: An Interview with Jenny Seagrave (13:19) and Don’t Go in the Woods: An Interview with Stephen Volk (21:00).  Finally, a Still Gallery (1:19) and the film’s Theatrical Trailer (1:34) round out the disc’s bonus content.

    Unfairly compared to one of the genre’s most enduring efforts, The Guardian is all but destined for failure.  That said, judged on its own merits, Friedkin’s grim fairy tale never quite lives up to its full potential with a problematic screenplay and stabs at suspense crumbling.  Although its narrative may appeal to some more than others, Scream Factory’s high-definition upgrade unanimously impresses with its technical grades checking out and its supplemental package being worth the price of admission alone.  Long out of print, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is prime for Friedkinphiles and others unfamiliar with the Academy Award winner’s horror followup.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available January 19th from Scream Factory, The Guardian can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

    Director: Rod Amateau 

    Starring: Anthony Newley, Mackenzie Astin & Katie Barberi

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Based on the popular Topps trading card series, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie centers on bullied teenager Dodger (Mackenzie Astin, The Facts of Life) who befriends the Kids after accidentally unleashing them from their magical trash can.  In addition to causing mayhem and helping Dodger woo the fashionably feisty Tangerine (Katie Barberi, Every Witch Way), the Kids find themselves imprisoned at the State Home for the Ugly with Dodger and the crafty Captain Manzini (Anthony Newley, Oliver Twist) as their only hope.

    Created to disgustingly parody the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon of the era, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie continues the vile hijinks of Ali Gator, Greaser Greg, Valerie Vomit, Foul Phil and the rest of the gang in their first and only big-screen leap.  Performed by dwarf actors in bizarrely designed costumes, the Kids find themselves free from their trash can detention as they let loose of their manners and hygiene in their new environment.  Following noisy shenanigans at the movies and drunken bar room brawls, the messy misfits look to help their teenage friend Dodger impress the “too cool for school” Tangerine with his fashion sensibilities while, getting even with his bully Juice.  Attracting too much unwanted attention, the Kids find themselves admitted to the State Home for the Ugly alongside fellow inmates Santa Claus and Abraham Lincoln.  Although marketed for children, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie left parents even more perplexed by the characters’ caca and poo poo humor that popularized the controversial cards.

    Although devastatingly panned and tanking at the box-office, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie has resurfaced as a bonafide cult classic, enjoyed for its gross-out kiddie humor and over the top, paper thin narrative.  While its abnormally constructed costume designs appear poor, their crude, unnatural appearance give the film its unusually appealing charm.  Considered by many to be as tasteless as a stick of bubblegum, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is unquestionably one of the weirder efforts to emerge from the gaudy 80s yet, signifies a compelling time where hilariously fun dreck of its kind was ushered into theaters for the enjoyment of children.

    Scream Factory presents The Garbage Pail Kids Movie with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Appearing relatively soft, skin tones emerge naturally while select colors including, outdoor greenery and the eye-catching fashion choices of Tangerine and the Kids popping better than others.  Faint specks and occasional vertical lines are noted while, black levels appear hazy and lacking an inkier presence.  Meanwhile, detail is most pleasing in closeups of the off-putting Kids capturing their acne and snot infested faces nicely.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is serviceable with no noticeable interferences while, bar sequences and music inclusions offer mild boosts in quality.  Crowned a Collector’s Edition, special features include, The Effects of the Garbage Pail Kids Movie (11:46) with new interviews from Special Makeup Effects Creator John Carl Buechler and Makeup Effects Artist Gino Crognale.  In addition, On Set with 1st AD Thomas A. Irvine (6:22), The Artful Dodger: An Interview with Mackenzie Astin (27:16) and The Kids Aren’t All Right (21:21) with insight from Garbage Pail Kids performers Arturo Gil and Kevin Thompson are also included.  Finally, the Theatrical Trailer (2:02) and a reversible cover art utilizing the original 1-sheet poster conclude the supplemental package.

    Universally trashed since its debut, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie serves the appetites of B-movie purists who find enjoyment in its many quirks and unintentional head-shaking hilarity.  Making suitable leaps from its standard definition days, Scream Factory treats this belch-inducing blunder like the gross gold it is with its supplemental package from Aine Leicht’s Cavetown Pictures being the major sell.  Don’t let your uncontrollable body functions go to waste without the messiness of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie by your side!

    RATING: 3/5

    Available now from Scream Factory, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Sentinel (1977) Blu-ray Review

    The Sentinel (1977)

    Director: Michael Winner

    Starring: Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith & John Carradine

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following the death of her father and an urgent desire for independence, beautiful model Alison Parker (Cristina Raines, The Duellists) moves into a spacious New York brownstone unaware of the danger that awaits her.  Haunted by nightmarish memories and riddled by her peculiar neighbors, Alison learns her once desirable new residence is a gateway to hell.  Chris Sarandon (Child’s Play), Ava Gardner (The Killers), John Carradine (House of Frankenstein), Burgess Meredith (Rocky), Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation), Jerry Orbach (Law & Order), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), Eli Wallach (The Magnificent Seven) and Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) co-star.

    Based on the novel by Jeffrey Konvitz, Director Michael Winner (Death Wish) returns to the city that never sleeps for his controversial religious shocker.  Shot on location in Brooklyn Heights, Alison Parker (Raines) moves into the ideal New York brownstone, inhabited by a blind reclusive priest on the building’s top floor.  Shortly after settling in, Alison develops a series of medical drawbacks while becoming acquainted with her eccentric new neighbors.  Unsettled by reoccurring dreams of her recently deceased father and her own previous suicide attempts, Alison’s sanity comes into question after learning she, along with Father Halliran (Carradine), are the only occupants of the apartment complex.  Aided by her boyfriend Michael Lerman (Sarandon), Alison discovers her new home is a gateway to hell that the Catholic Church assign guardians to protect.  While the ailing Father Halliran upholds his duty, Alison has been selected as the next Sentinel for a chance at redemption for her previous sins.  As the demons’ influence take greater hold, Alison’s faith and will to fight back are mankind’s only hope against the forces of darkness.

    Boasting one of the most eclectic casts in 70s horror, The Sentinel continues to tap the hot-button subgenre of religious terror during a time when satan gripped audiences attention.  Matched with underrated makeup effects by Dick Smith (The Exorcist) and bizarre imagery of ballet dancing lesbians fondling themselves, The Sentinel packs a visual identity not soon forgotten.  Considered wildly offensive during its original release for the casting of actors with real-life deformities, Director Michael Winner’s sole horror feature achieves an authentic level of eeriness separating itself from other Catholic based dives into the supernatural.  While generally viewed as a mediocre effort, The Sentinel has rightfully developed an increased appreciation over the decades.  Guided by worthy performances from Raines and Sarandon, along with a scene-stealing Meredith, The Sentinel has kept its hellish inferno burning for viewers to rediscover its chilling charm.

    Scream Factory presents The Sentinel with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Boasting a noticeably filmic appearance, skin tones are generally natural looking with colors of the apartment’s greenery and the film’s bloodier moments popping nicely.  Aside from inherent age-related issues of mild scratches and scuffs, detail remains strikingly stable with Dick Smith’s frightening effects better appreciated while, black levels reveal no glaring crushing issues.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is always audible and free of any intruding distortion.  Meanwhile, sound effects and Gil Melle’s (Blood Beach) moody tunes come across effectively.  Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Jeffrey Konvitz, Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer/Director Michael Winner and Audio Commentary with Actress Cristina Raines.  In addition, Working with Winner: The Making of The Sentinel (23:56) finds Second Assistant Director Ralph S. Singleton discussing his early starts in the industry and his working relationship with the often tough but respected Winner in this engaging featurette.  Furthermore, a Theatrical Trailer (2:35), TV Spots (1:39), Movie Stills (2:47), B&W Press Photos (2:30) and Lobby Cards and Posters (2:34) Photo Galleries round out the supplements.

    Nicely complimenting Scream Factory’s other resurrected religious frightener The Legacy, The Sentinel packs an impressively diverse cast with enough disturbing imagery to cement itself in horror lovers’ subconscious.  Graduating to high-definition with noticeably improved technical merits and a generous supply of bonus content for such an unsung feature, Scream Factory lures you to the hellish underworld with The Sentinel as your ideal host.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available September 22nd from Scream Factory, The Sentinel can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers. 

  • The Legacy (1978) Blu-ray Review

    The Legacy (1978)

    Director: Richard Marquand

    Starring: Katharine Ross, Sam Elliot, John Standing, Margaret Tyzack & Roger Daltrey

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From Director Richard Marquand (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi), The Legacy centers on Maggie (Katharine Ross, The Stepford Wives), along with boyfriend Pete (Sam Elliot, Mask), on business in the English countryside.  After being involved in a car accident, the couple are invited back to the fellow driver’s lavish estate only to be surprised by other guests expecting them.  With an uneasiness filling the air, the houseguests begin unexpectedly dying as supernatural forces are suspected.  John Standing (The Elephant Man), Margaret Tyzack (2001: A Space Odyssey), Ian Hogg (Rasputin), Charles Gray (The Devil Rides Out) and Roger Daltrey (Tommy) co-star.

    Invited overseas by a mystery client, interior decorator Maggie Walsh (Ross) and hunky boyfriend Pete Danner (Elliot) travel to the English countryside only to be sidetracked by a car accident.  Safe with the exception of Pete’s motorcycle, the couple are graciously invited back to their fellow driver Jason Mountolive’s (Standing) extravagant mansion.  Greeted by several houseguests already expecting them, Maggie and Pete are introduced to their powerful new acquaintances as Jason’s declining health is the basis for their visit.  Summoned to his death bed, Maggie is bestowed with a sinister ring also worn by her fellow guests that refuses to leave her finger.  As Maggie and Pete’s desire to leave the estate are slyly denied, the possibility of black magic being conducted turns frighteningly real as the visitors meet fatal ends under questionable circumstances.  A disturbing drowning, chicken bone choking, fiery inferno and shattered mirror shards claim Jason’s unsavory business partners as the couple discover a shocking lineage between witchcraft and Jason’s family line.  Imperative that Jason’s legacy lives on and seduced by the satanic allure of power, Maggie’s fate becomes sealed.

    Slow-building yet increasingly tense, The Legacy carries the torch for satanic frights popularized earlier in the decade by The Exorcist and The Omen.  While not hardly as praised as its predecessors, Director Richard Marquand’s black magic opus weaves an intriguing, character driven tale with an eclectic cast and eerie imagery of a gothic mansion and creepy cats.  Although plot holes can sometimes be glaring and its narrative explanations slightly overindulgent, the film’s minimal but effective death sequences and dark conclusion easily make up for most of its shortcomings.  Critically divided and commercially unsuccessful, The Legacy remains an underappreciated occult tale forgotten in the wake of the burgeoning slasher movement.

    Boasting a new high-definition transfer, Scream Factory presents The Legacy in 1080p with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  With the exception of modest levels of speckling, the picture is noticeably sharp with a natural grain layer and impressive detail in facial features giving way to the slightest wrinkles surrounding Ross’ eyes.  Skin tones are inviting while dual colors of a particular white cat’s eyes and the film’s blood dripping deaths pop exceptionally well.  Meanwhile, black levels are decently inky with only moderate instances of flakes apparent in more dimly lit moments.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is predominately clear with an occasion of hushed tones requiring an increase in volume.  Kiki Dee’s main title song and more striking sound effects including, gunshots ring loudly sans distortion.  Special features include, Anne V. Coates: An Editing Legacy (13:47) where the charmingly elder editor discuss her first introduction to cinema seeing Wuthering Heights and her admiration for the late Richard Marquand.  In addition, The Make-Up Effects of The Legacy: Robin Grantham (10:46), TV Spot (0:32), Radio Spot (0:29), Theatrical Trailer (1:43), Photo Gallery (2:32) and a Reversible Cover Art round out the supplemental package.

    Commonly forgotten in the annals of 70s horror cinema, The Legacy compliments satanic pictures before it with its unorthodox plot and diverse cast including, a brief but effective appearance by The Who’s Roger Daltrey.  With several murders, Sam Elliot showcasing his bare asset and supernatural happenings at every turn, The Legacy is casting a spell to be resurrected by curious viewers.  Graced with a newly struck transfer, Scream Factory ushers the film into a new era looking better than ever.  Accompanied with newly produced bonus features compliments of the consistently talented Aine Leicht, The Legacy is devilishly worth dancing with.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available September 15th from Scream Factory, The Legacy can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers. 

  • Dog Soldiers (2002) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    Dog Soldiers (2002)

    Director: Neil Marshall

    Starring: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Emma Cleasby & Liam Cunningham

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Marking the directorial debut of Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones), Dog Soldiers focuses on a team of soldiers dispatched to the Scottish Highlands for routine training.  After discovering Captain Ryan, the lone survivor of a Special Ops team who were savagely torn to shreds, the soldiers realize the same bloodthirsty creatures are still lurking in the forest.  When a local girl guides them to a desolate farmhouse for shelter, the same pack of deadly werewolves track them leading to a tense standoff.  Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy), Sean Pertwee (Gotham), Emma Cleasby (Doomsday) and Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) star.

    Considered one of the finest werewolf pictures of the 21st century, Dog Soldiers is an adrenaline-fueled experience, leaving little room to catch your breath.  Overflowing with chilling suspense and terrifying with its effective creature designs, Neil Marshall’s feature-length debut casts a hypnotic spell that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.  After being dispatched to the Scottish Highlands for training procedures, a band of soldiers find themselves in a fight for their lives against a pack of ravenous werewolves.  Filled with likable characters exchanging naturalistic chemistry, the soldiers never shy from humorously heaving obscenities at one another and expressing their disappointment at missing a football game for this uneventful training mission.  After discovering Captain Ryan and the bloody remains of his Special Ops team, the soldiers quickly realize the dire situation they have entered.  Struggling to hold their ground in the forest, a local girl rescues the team and ushers them to a secluded farmhouse to battle the deadly werewolves.  With ammunition and men running low, the surviving soldiers must get creative in order to stay alive through the night.  Opting for a traditional approach, Dog Soldiers utilizes animatronics and costumed performers for its hairy antagonists that breathes an authentic tone of terror.  Blending high-octane action and atmospheric carnage, Director Neil Marshall’s frightening tale of lycanthropes reinvigorates the subgenre with its accomplished cast and claustrophobic setting, placing the film amongst the finest werewolf efforts of all-time.

    After nearly a year delay, Scream Factory proudly presents Dog Soldiers with a 1080p transfer, bearing a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Scanned in 2K with supervision and approval from Director Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers sports a slightly soft picture credited to its original 16mm roots that were blown up to 35mm for its theatrical distribution.  With occasional instances of scuffs and vertical lines on display, colors are decently relayed with the film’s bloodier moments popping most effectively.  Shrouded mostly in darkness, the film offers sufficiently inky black levels that allow for appropriate clarity and minimal speckling.  Based on previous subpar home video releases and the scarcity of desirable elements, Scream Factory, with the assistance of Marshall, provide fans with the closest representation of the director’s vision.  While viewers may still feel divided, there’s no denying this is the best Dog Soldiers has ever looked on home video.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is clear and free of distortion while, moments of heavy artillery, explosions and werewolf shredding make a thunderous statement that are balanced accordingly.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 has also been provided for your listening pleasure.  True to its collector’s edition banner, Scream Factory provides an exuberant amount of special features including, an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Neil Marshall while, Aine Leicht (Night of the Demons, Class of 1984) delivers another top-notch featurette with Werewolves VS. Soldiers: The Making of Dog Soldiers (1:01:50).  Featuring new interviews from the cast and crew, this lengthy look back ranks as one of Scream Factory’s finest retrospectives and easily the crowning jewel of the disc’s supplemental offerings.  In addition, A Cottage in the Woods: Building the Sets of Dog Soldiers with Simon Bowles (13:26), Trailers (5:02), a Dog Soldiers Photo Gallery (47 in total), Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery (22 in total) and Director Neil Marshall’s early short film Combat (7:37) are also included.  Finally, a reversible cover art and DVD edition of the release wrap up the impressive bonus features.  

    A successful hybrid of intense action and effective frights, Dog Soldiers turns the werewolf subgenre on its head for a unique experience that understands the art of suspense.  Starring an ensemble cast delivering earnest performances and containing noteworthy practical effects, Director Neil Marshall’s bloody excursion through the Scottish Highlands is a career highlight that still ranks as one of the most impressive pictures of the genre.  Far from a simple undertaking, Scream Factory delivers Dog Soldiers with its finest home video presentation to date that will easily trump previous releases.  With the original negative lost, Scream Factory and Director Neil Marshall have gone to great lengths to preserve the film’s vision, resulting in a successful outcome that should greatly appease fans.  In addition, Aine Leicht’s impressive array of special features and Nathan Thomas Milliner’s newly crafted artwork treats this collector’s edition like horror royalty that will ultimately leave fans howling at the moon in delight.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available June 23rd from Scream Factory, Dog Soldiers can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Squirm Collector's Edition (1976) Blu-ray Review

    Squirm (1976)

    Director: Jeff Lieberman

    Starring: Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R.A. Dow, Jean Sullivan & Peter MacLean

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Marking the directorial debut of Jeff Lieberman (Just Before Dawn, Remote Control), this Southern spine-tingler is guaranteed to get under your skin.  Joining the ranks of their esteemed collector’s editions, Scream Factory, the horror/cult offshoot of Shout! Factory, proudly presents Squirm on Blu-ray for the first time in the U.S.  Oozing with newly produced special features and retro-style artwork courtesy of Paul Shipper, Squirm will send you running for higher ground.

    Set in the deep south of Georgia, Squirm focuses on the aftermath of a powerful storm that has electrically charged the wet soil, causing bloodthirsty worms to rise.  When the fishing village of Fly Creek becomes overrun with terror, a group of locals must fend for themselves to survive the carnivorous creatures.  Don Scardino (director of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone), Patricia Pearcy (Cockfigher), R.A. Down, Jean Sullivan (Escape in the Desert) and Peter MacLean (Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo) star.

    MOVIE:

    On par with other “nature gone wild” efforts such as Day of the Animals and Dogs, Squirm rises above most exploitation fare due to its patient storytelling.  Maintaining a steady pace and allowing characters to properly develop, Squirm chooses to charm its audience instead of overwhelming with constant carnage.  Establishing a genuinely Southern tone and casting local talent, the humid, insect infested backwoods serves as an ideal setting for this creature feature.  Following a series of brutal storms causing fallen power lines, Geri (Pearcy) welcomes her city dwelling boyfriend, Mick (Scardino), to her neck of the woods.  Before long, the two lovebirds happen upon human remains with no luck of convincing the town sheriff of their existence.  In true Scooby-Doo fashion, the two make it their duty to get to the bottom of the dead bodies and the increased volume of worms in the area.  Unfortunately, as night falls so does the worms’ hunger for human flesh causing mass panic in the town of Fly Creek.  While, Squirm takes its time before true terror ensues, its final act of blackness and claustrophobia is well worth the wait.  In addition, the convincingly gory make-up effects, achieved by a young Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Ed Wood), add another layer of genre appreciation to revel in Squirm.

    Well acted and undeniably soaking in B-movie charm, Squirm’s only minor setback falls in its ending which feels rather abrupt, leaving the viewer with questions rather than answers.  Nonetheless, Squirm is a wildly entertaining effort filled with cheesy Southern accents, impressive make-up effects and a creepy tone, courtesy of its slimy critters, that propels Squirm to the front line of 1970s creature features.

    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:

    Squirm arrives with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  With the exception of murky stock footage during its opening, Squirm impresses with a clean appearance, leaving flakes and speckles to a minimum.  In addition, skin tones are warm and accurate with fine detail picked up in close-ups.  Natural grain is firmly intact, retaining an uncompromised filmic appearance.  Black levels, most appreciated during the film’s final act, are satisfying with respectable visibility.  Bracing for only mildly decent quality due to the film’s low-budget, Squirm has never looked better and greatly improves on past releases.

    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, Squirm is never wildly dynamic but, succeeds where it counts.  Dialogue is always clear and concise while, Composer Robert Prince’s (Night Gallery, Gargoyles) warp sounding score adds effective ambiance.  Scenes of creepy crawling carnage also add an extra, albeit contained, boost in authority.  Instances of hiss and pops are featured but fail to do any disruptive harm.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman: Ported over from the previous DVD release.

    • Digging In: The Making of Squirm (33:11): Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman and Star Don Scardino share informative anecdotes about the production including its origins, casting (Pearcy beat out a young Kim Basinger for her role) and shooting on location.  Lengthy and detailed, Lieberman and Scardino look back on the film with vivid recollections of the experience.

    • Eureka! With Jeff Lieberman (7:04): Lieberman serves as your guide as he journeys back to his childhood home to retrace the early ideas of Squirm.

    • Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

    • TV Spot (0:55)

    • Radio Spot (1:01)

    • Still Gallery: 25 in total.

    • More from Scream Factory: Trailers include Pumpkinhead, Motel Hell and The Beast Within.

    • Reversible Cover Art: Utilizing the memorable Drew Struzan 1-sheet.

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:

    Arriving on Blu-ray for the time in the U.S., Squirm is an essential addition to the Scream Factory library, filling the void of prominent creature features.  Endlessly fun and oozing with worm-infested debauchery, Squirm basks in its B-movie agenda much to the delight of likeminded viewers.  Once again, Scream Factory chalks up another stellar collector’s edition entry with exceptional technical merits and fan pleasing extras courtesy by the uber-talented Aine Leicht.  Sealed with gloriously slimy new artwork from Paul Shipper, Squirm Collector’s Edition makes it an easy skin-crawling selection to curl up with.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available October 28th, Squirm Collector's Edition can be purchased via Shout! Factory, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Leviathan (1989) Blu-ray Review

    Leviathan (1989)

    Director: George P. Cosmatos

    Starring: Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Richard Creena, Daniel Stern & Ernie Hudson 

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From the director of Tombstone comes an underwater exploration in terror starring a cast from all avenues of cult cinema.  Featuring special effects wizardry from master showman Stan Winston (Aliens, Predator), Leviathan submerges you deep below the ocean floor where something has gone horribly wrong.  Scream Factory, the horror off-shoot of Shout! Factory, proudly presents this oceanic horror film for the first time ever on Blu-ray!

    Leviathan centers on a deep-sea crew led by Steven Beck (Peter Weller, Robocop) in search of silver and other minerals.  Upon discovering a sunken vessel, the team unknowingly welcome a genetic experiment gone wrong on their sea station.  With futile hope of being rescued, the crew must fight for their survival against an aquatic monster.  Richard Crenna (First Blood), Amanda Pays (The Kindred), Daniel Stern (Home Alone), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Michael Carmine (*batteries not included), Lisa Eilbacher (Beverly Hills Cop), Hector Elizondo (Last Man Standing) and Meg Foster (They Live) co-star.

    MOVIE:

    1989 was plagued to be the year of the underwater thriller.  Most famously, Director James Cameron’s The Abyss debuted with several lower-budgeted films such as DeepStar Six, The Evil Below and Lords of the Deep following.  Co-produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis (nephew of Dino De Laurentiis), Leviathan centers on a similar undersea setting with a sizable budget and a remarkably talented cast ranging from ghostbusters to robotic police officers.  Mere days away from wrapping their expedition up, Steven Beck (Weller) and his team unexpectedly come across a sunken Russian vessel.  Shortly after returning to their station, a horrific genetic experiment follows the team, infecting victims before becoming a hideous sea-monster with a hunger for blood.  Leviathan takes its time to establish the claustrophobic environment our characters reside in while, developing their unique personalities.  Admittedly, some may find the first half of this submerged thriller a bore as nothing monster orientated occurs, but the steady build enhances the viewers attachment to the entertaining cast.  As the infecting virus takes the lives of several crew members, a slimy, otherworldly creature is born from the remains of the victims.  Tension builds as the second act heavily borrows the special effects tactics, effectively utilized in John Carpenter’s The Thing combined with the suspenseful tone of Aliens to give a good show.  With survivors scant, Beck along with Willie (Pays) and Jones (Hudson), stock up on flame throwers and other oceanic power tools to combat the savage beast.  Meg Foster (Masters of the Universe) makes a brief appearance via satellite video as the expedition companies CEO that coldly delays the team’s rescue in order to keep matters quiet.  Beck and his remaining crew choose to take down the monster in order to return to the ocean surface alive.  

    Quick cuts and dim lighting keep Stan Winston’s underrated creature designs hidden but ultimately, increasing the film’s fear level.  Although, Leviathan tends to borrow elements from other sci-fi fare, the film is still one of the more effective undersea fright fests in the wake of Cameron’s big-budget, box-office smash.  Headlined by one of the more eclectic cult casts of the decade, Leviathan is a fun, spine-tingling time at sea involving a steroid-induced version of the Gill Man and Peter Weller cold-cocking Meg Foster.  Priceless!

    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:

    Scream Factory presents Leviathan in a 1080p widescreen transfer bearing a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  Surprisingly, the film is nearly free of any anomalies such as flakes and speckles with a healthy level of grain firmly intact.  Skin tones are relayed naturally with detail relatively crisp although, some close-ups appear not as sharp.  Far from a wildly colorful film, the sea station’s stainless steel and monotone colors come across precise.  In addition, submerged 16,000 feet below the surface, black levels are handled exceptionally well in this oceanic shocker with no crushing to speak of and all activity very visible.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Leviathan is very dialogue driven especially in the film’s first half which is perfectly crisp and audible.  Nice-sounding but generally contained, the mix is allowed to expand with Jerry Goldsmith’s (Chinatown, Poltergeist) soothing score that can be as calm as the sea or as ominously droning when danger is near.  Moments of more intense action give the film a more rewarding boost, enhancing the listening experience.  In addition, a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix is also included.

    RATING: 4/5

    EXTRAS:

    • Leviathan - Monster Melting Pot (40:26): Creature Effects Artists Tom Woodruff Jr. (who also performed, albeit uncredited, the lead creature in the film as well as the Gillman in 1987’s The Monster Squad and as the titular monster in Pumpkinhead), Shannon Shea and Alec Gillis discuss the bombardment of underwater thrillers in 1989.  In addition, the trio speak of their working relationship with Stan Winston and the difficult design challenges of the dive suit costumes and much more.  This lengthy featurette is highly informative and shines a well deserved spotlight on the masters behind the scares.

    • Dissecting Cobb with Hector Elizondo (12:35): Elizondo discusses the humor and “every man” mentality he brought to his role of Cobb while, discussing the less than desirable conditions filming within the dive costumes.  The seasoned thespian also looks back with fond memories and gratitude towards his former cast members and special effects master Stan Winston.

    • Surviving Leviathan with Ernie Hudson (15:01): The Congo star recounts filming on location in Rome and his swimming inexperience which led the production to offer him lessons for his role.  Hudson’s dislike for pointlessly dying in a film resulted in his honorable fate in Leviathan.  Earnest and appreciative, Hudson is still moved when fans express their love for his work.

    • Theatrical Trailer (1:51)

    • More from Scream Factory: Trailers include Without Warning, Lake Placid, Saturn 3 and Swamp Thing.

    • Reversible cover art

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:

    Released in a year overloaded with deep sea expeditions uncovering something sinister, Leviathan is a noble, lower-budgeted effort compared to James Cameron’s mega expensive spectacle.  Featuring a wonderfully diverse cast of familiar faces and effective creature designs from Stan Winston and company, Leviathan kicks off slow but eventually builds to a suspense-driven climax akin to Aliens.  While, not the most original concept, Leviathan is still a fun execution in underwater terror that holds up nicely 25 years later.  Scream Factory’s Blu-ray treatment comes with a near perfect video and audio treatment joined by another informative and entertaining assortment of special features provided by the talented Aine Leicht (Deadly Eyes, Ginger Snaps).  How long can you hold your breath without adding this superior entry into your Scream Factory collection?

    RATING: 4/5