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Currently showing posts tagged Justin Beahm

  • Sleepaway Camp (1983) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    Sleepaway Camp (1983)
    Director: Robert Hiltzik
    Starring: Mike Kellin, Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields & Christopher Collet
    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    In the wake of Friday the 13th’s massive success, the slasher genre was in full boom and the innocence of campgrounds were far from safe.  Familiar but yet wildly unique, the campers of Camp Arawak expecting a summer of fun are met with an onslaught of death by a mysterious killer.  Effectively grizzly and featuring a shocking ending you’ll never forget, Sleepaway Camp is a true slasher classic that still entertains and charms 30 years later.  The mecca of horror home entertainment, Scream Factory, proudly presents this terrifying gem in a rightly deserved collector’s edition choked full of new special features.  Welcome to Camp Arawak because you won’t be coming home!

    Sleepaway Camp centers on shy Angela Baker (Felissa Rose) living with her off kilter Aunt Martha and cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten).  With summer in full swing, the kids are sent to Camp Arawak for a season of fun and hijinks.  Shortly after arriving, multiple campers begin turning up dead courtesy of a mysterious killer destined to turn the summer into a nightmare.

    MOVIE:
    Sleepaway Camp was already riding the coattails of Friday the 13th’s second sequel and 1981’s camp-centered slasher, The Burning when it debuted in 1983.  What appeared as a blatant cash grab at a seemingly simple formula became one of the finest slasher installments of the 1980s.  Director Robert Hiltzik’s sole effort (before returning to helm 2008’s Return to Sleepaway Camp) genuinely captures the spirit of summer camp aside from the brutal slayings.  The success and charm of this slasher gem is practically owed to the young cast who look, act and speak the way actual kids at a summer camp would, a feat that can only be compared to lightning in a bottle.  In addition, the unfazed use of profanity from the young cast gives the film an added dose of realism without making a fuss about it.  Jonathan Tiersten’s trucker mouth is quite comforting in a time where adolescents’ cursing in films is taboo.  The youthful cast is littered with anti-Hollywood types including Karen Fields who plays the bitchy role of Judy.  Far from ugly but not quite the prototypical image of a knockout, Fields perfectly encapsulates an honest representation of a summer camp hottie.  

    Sleepaway Camp makes great use of its slasher movie label by relying on shots of the killers POV and knife slayings.  Interestingly enough, instead of premarital sex and smoking dope, the murders committed in Sleepaway Camp are the result of much deserved revenge on the likes of a molesting cook and obnoxiously cruel campers.  While, the introverted Angela (Rose) is the butt of everyone’s jokes, the mysterious killer gets crafty with his victims thanks to the help of a swarm of bees and a steaming hair straightener.  Softball, summer love and the Camp Arawak counselors that include the righteously cool Gene (Frank Trent Saladino) and the unintentionally hilarious meathead  Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo) add to the overall enjoyment of Sleepaway Camp.  As tension rises and countless more campers end up dead, the film leads to an unexpectedly wild and unforgettable climax that I dare not spoil.  Perfectly capturing the spirit of summer camp and rising to the call of its slasher formula, Sleepaway Camp is a prime example of a camp carnage classic.  Carried out by a brilliantly capable cast and a twist ending that will leave you jaw-dropped, Sleepaway Camp has earned its due and is still as entertaining and bloodcurdling as ever!
    RATING: 5/5          

    VIDEO:
    Scream Factory presents Sleepaway Camp in a 1080p High-Definition widescreen transfer (1.78:1).  Marking the label’s first 2K scan from the film’s original camera negative, Sleepaway Camp looks marvelous!  While, the film still retains a slight, inherited softness, the film looks remarkably true to its source with colors gaining a nice boost especially in the campers’ brightly colored shirts.  In addition, flesh tones are relayed accurately with a wonderful amount of detail.  The film projects a nice, scratch-free presentation that makes one appreciate the glorious film grain.  Black levels are respectable if not a tad hazy but still a terrific upgrade from previous releases.  Make no mistake, Sleepaway Camp has never looked quite this good and campers will be more than pleased.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono mix, Sleepaway Camp sounds fantastic with dialogue coming across clear as crystal with no noticeable dropouts of any kind.  A terrific companion to a near perfect video presentation.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Audio Commentary with Actors Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten: Justin Beahm steps in as moderator for this newly produced commentary that brings together on-screen cousins Angela and Ricky who have a ball recalling the shooting of the film.

    - Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Robert Hiltzik moderated by Jeff Hayes: Another newly recorded commentary with Hiltzik that covers similar ground as its predecessor but still informative nonetheless.  

    - Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Robert Hiltzik and Actress Felissa Rose: Also moderated by Jeff Hayes, this fun commentary has been kindly ported over from the previous DVD release.

    - At the Waterfront After the Social: The Legacy of Sleepaway Camp: In his final collaboration with Scream Factory, Justin Beahm delivers fans an incredible 45-minute companion piece to the classic slasher film.  Capturing new interviews with Director Robert Hiltzik, Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields and more, this look back finds the cast and crew reminiscing on the formulation of the film, how they obtained their roles as well as on set drama.  Felissa Rose offers a heartfelt and emotional credit to the film for giving her the life she has.  Beahm has certainly outdone himself with this terrific documentary that ranks as one of Scream Factory’s finest extras to date.    

    - Judy - A Short Film by Jeff Hayes: Host of SleepawayCampMovies.com, Jeff Hayes, directs this amateur effort that stars Karen Fields reprising her role of Judy.  Having survived the tragic murders at Camp Arawak, Judy is now grown and dishing out her own form of punishment to those deserved.

    - “Princess” Music Video by Jonathan Tiersten

    - Camp Arawak Scrapbook: 70 behind the scenes images from the making of the film.

    - Theatrical Trailer

    - TV Spots

    - Rare Images from Make-Up Effects Artist Ed French

    - A Demonstration of the 2K Film Scan Process: Technicolor Imaging Technician, Ian Turpen, hosts this informative behind the scenes look at Scream Factory’s first 2K scan for Sleepaway Camp.

    - DVD Copy

    - Reversible cover art: Utilizing the iconic 1-sheet poster imagery.

    RATING: 5/5

    OVERALL:
    What could have been seen as a mere Friday the 13th knock-off has become a bonafide slasher classic that has stood the test of time some 30 years later.  Beautifully capturing the summer camp spirit and weaving a unique tale of slasher carnage that leads up to one of the best finales of the genre will easily make Camp Arawak an annual visit for viewers.  Scream Factory’s collector’s edition of Sleepaway Camp is hands down one of their finest releases to date with a breathtaking video transfer, an ample audio mix and an overwhelmingly awesome abundance of special features that includes Justin Beahm’s terrific final ode, At the Waterfront After the Social: The Legacy of Sleepaway Camp.  Slasher enthusiasts owe it to themselves to add this definitive version of Robert Hiltzik’s original classic to their growing Scream Factory collection!
    RATING: 5/5

  • Body Bags (1993) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review



    Body Bags (1993)
    Director(s): John Carpenter & Tobe Hooper
    Starring: Robert Carradine, David Naughton Stacy Keach, David Warner & Mark Hamill
    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    After an already illustrious career directing gems like Halloween, The Fog, The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China, Director John Carpenter turned to the small screen for a taste of anthology madness. Following up Carpenter’s disappointing 1992 effort of Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Showtime came a knockin’ with a proposal that enabled Carpenter with wife and Producer, Sandy King, to gather a wide selection of their friends and genre vets to make a fun and horrific anthology flick. The result was Body Bags. In addition to Carpenter directing the first two segments and appearing as the ghoulish-like coroner who hosts the wrap-around segments, Director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Lifeforce) joins the festivities for the final segment of the film. With creative talent like this behind and in front of the camera, is this anthology of horrors worth remembering or best left for dead? Zip yourself in tight and let’s find out…

    Body Bags is a nifty anthology of three horror tales that are all hosted by a ghoulish-looking coroner (John Carpenter) who has a taste for the macabre and formaldehyde. The Gas Station, helmed by John Carpenter, centers on a woman (Alex Datcher) working the late shift at a gas station while an insane killer is on the loose.  Hair, again directed by Carpenter, stars Stacy Keach (Road Games, American History X) as a man that will do anything to stop the loss of his hair. Finally, Tobe Hooper directs Eye, a story about a baseball player (Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame) that agrees to a transplant after losing his eye in a brutal car accident. Don’t blink or else you’ll miss appearances from icons like Deborah Harry, Sheena Easton, David Naughton, David Warner as well as cameos by Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper, Tom Arnold and the infamous Roger Corman.

    MOVIE:
    When the topic of horror anthologies arises, I find it a real shame that Body Bags isn’t discussed nearly as much as it deserves to be. The strategy of releasing horror anthologies has never proven to be widely successful or financially profitable for the studios which makes Body Bags an even more unique case. The heyday of the 1980s slasher craze was all but dead when 1993 rolled around and a cable channel named Showtime chose to take a chance. The benefit to horror fans was that we were treated to a wonderfully entertaining TV movie that brought together so many genre vets on one production. Sure, the incredible Creepshow brought George A. Romero and Stephen King together with a cast that included Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Harris, Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen. But, I think Body Bags is the only other anthology film that rivals it with a cast and crew that is just as noteworthy and talks the talk when it comes to their segments. John Carpenter’s efforts for The Gas Station and Hair are so polar opposite from one another but also so identifiably Carpenter.  The Gas Station rewards viewers with the suspense and terror we’ve come to know from Carpenter while Hair allows him to explore aliens once more with a dark comedic tone attached.  Stacy Keach is absolutely looney in his performance and the long hair he yearns for gives us a nostalgic reminder for what year this was made.  In addition, Robert Carradine’s mad portrayal of the killer in The Gas Station was not only refreshing but genuinely creepy. Tobe Hooper’s finale in Eye is what will really send shivers down your spine. The nightmarish imagery and descent into madness that Mark Hamill portrays is quite frightening and caught me off guard with a few jump-scares. John Carpenter’s acting chops in the wrap-around segments is what keeps the film fun and light similar to HBO’s Tales from the Crypt. While it is a shame that this TV movie didn’t morph into a fully fledged series as Showtime was hoping, we are still left with a remarkably fun anthology of tales that is painfully underrated as it is one of the best.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    VIDEO:
    Scream Factory presents Body Bags in a 1080p High-Definition Widescreen transfer in 1:78:1.  The film looks nice and clean with barely any scratches to be seen.  Black levels look great which is a major plus for how many night scenes there are.  Grain is nicely intact and colors pop well specifically in Carpenter’s wrap-around segments.  Scream Factory does it again!
    RATING: 4.5/5

    AUDIO:
    Body Bags comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that hits all the right notes.  Dialogue is clear as crystal while moments of terror are loud and booming.  No hisses or pops were heard on this track.  In addition, a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is also provided.  What else could be asked for?
    RATING: 4.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    Scream Factory treats this Collector’s Edition accordingly with a nice assortment of special features.

    - Unzipping Body Bags: A 20 minute featurette with interviews from John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King and Actors Robert Carradine and Stacy Keach.

    - Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter & Actor Robert Carradine on The Gas Station

    - Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter & Actor Stacy Keach on Hair

    - Audio Commentary with Producer Sandy King & Justin Beahm on Eye

    - Original Trailer

    - DVD Copy

    RATING: 4.5/5

    OVERALL:
    Body Bags came at a time when horror was on life support and Showtime was willing to take a risky chance.  Thankfully, the finished product is a rewarding piece of anthology horror that brought together so many beloved genre vets on one project.  The film is light on its toes and has fun with itself while also packing the scares and terror when necessary.  Body Bags is an overlooked chapter in horror anthology history that not only produced some of Carpenter and Hooper’s best efforts of the 1990s but for the entire sub-genre.  Scream Factory’s uncut presentation of the film is a real marvel to the eyes and ears as it looks and sounds just terrific. The special features provided are wonderful and offer great candid anecdotes on the making of the film from the players involved although it would have been nifty to hear Hooper’s thoughts on his segment.  Scream Factory also provides gorgeous new cover art for the film provided by Justin Osbourne.  While, the option of having reversible covers that utilize the original 1-sheet artwork is normally provided on these Collector’s Editions, the rights holders for Body Bags always despised it and insisted on just using the new artwork.  Not a huge deal but certainly worth noting for fans of this popular collection.  Regardless, Body Bags is a hell of a fun time and thanks to Scream Factory’s superior treatment this release should be in every horror fan’s collection.
    RATING: 4.5/5