Paul Naschy - Scream Factory

Scream Factory: The Paul Naschy Collection II

Paul Naschy has been described as being the Spanish equivalent of the legendary Lon Chaney. I think that is a rather apt comparsion. In fact with Scream Factory’s Blu-Ray release of the Paul Naschy Collection II. I think you too will see why he is held in such high regard as well.
Paul Naschy - Table

You might remember back in June of this year, when I wrote about Scream Factory’s release for the first Paul Naschy collection. For this go around they are presenting another set of five films. Representing a good dose of the actor’s filmography.

Paul Naschy - Hunchback
HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (EL JOROBADO DE LA MORGUE)

  • In Castilian With English Subtitles And English Dub
  • NEW Audio Commentary By Rod Barnett And Troy Guinn Of The Podcast, NaschyCast
  • Theatrical Trailers (Spanish And English)
  • Still Gallery

Paul Naschy - Devil's Possessed
THE DEVIL’S POSSESSED (EL MARISCAL DEL INFIERNO)

  • In Castilian With English Subtitles And English Dub
  • Theatrical Trailers (Spanish And English)

Paul Naschy - Werewolf
THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI (LA MALDICION DE LA BESTIA) (I won’t lie, friends. This is absolutely the one film I would had given anything to have had commentary on as a special feature.)

  • In Castilian With English Subtitles And English Dub
  • Still Gallery

Paul Naschy - Exorcism
EXORCISM (EXORCISMO)

  • In Castilian With English Subtitles And English Dub
  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author Troy Howarth
  • Theatrical Trailers (Spanish And English)
  • English Credit Sequence
  • Still Gallery


A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE (UNA LIBELULA PARA CADA MUERTO)

  • In Castilian With English Subtitles And English Dub
  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author Troy Howarth
  • Still Gallery

Now that you know what is in the Paul Naschy Collection II, how about where to get it?

The 5-disc collection will be available this Tuesday at better Blu-Ray dealers everywhere. Of course you can also order your copy from Scream Factory itself. I should also add that the collection contains a 24-page booklet written by Mirek Lipinski!

Dawn of the Dead - Cover

Scream Factory: Dawn Of The Dead Collector’s Edition

When talking about 1978’s Dawn of the Dead it’s fair to call it a masterpiece. The late and great George A. Romero really delivered a triumph in horror. The social commentary elements that he had touched upon in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Were absolutely embraced and proudly flaunted in the sequel. It is in fact considered by most to be the best zombie film ever made. Period. Which is why in 2003 when I first heard that someone was going to attempt to remake Dawn of the Dead…I didn’t take it well.

I don’t think I was the only one that was kind of flipping their wig at the news. Furthermore I can recall being at work, sitting in the back office when I read the news. All joking aside my reaction was actually quite a bit like that GIF from The Office. Then I started doing a little research. I hadn’t ever heard of Zack Snyder although I do believe this was his directorial debut.
Dawn of the Dead - Zak Snyder

But James Gunn…now that is a name I knew thanks to 2000’s The Specials and 2002’s Scooby-Doo.
Dawn of the Dead - James Gunn

Which wasn’t exactly a strong selling point for most fans of the 1978 version. Not even the fact that Gunn had written 1996’s Tromeo and Juliet as well as a pass on 2000’s Thir13en Ghosts calmed concerns. He’s gone on record that he literally received death threats over his involvement with the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Which is a pretty sad thing to have to share of course.
Dawn of the Dead - 2004 - Poster

I certainly try my very best to keep an open mind about all movies. Leaving judgement as it were until I have at the very least been able to see the trailer. Having said that – this was a remake of Dawn of the Dead so I can be excused for being a little biased. The afternoon that it debuted online…it was with great hesitation that I hit play on the media player.

[Via] Scream Factory TV

After it was over I found myself kind of slowing nodding my head. Not all of my fears had been settled. It looked like the zombies were running instead of shambling. It seemed like they had taken the tight group of survivors from the 1978 version and greatly expanded it. On the other hand, their casting choices made me sit up and take notice. The feeling…or fear… of being sieged by the Dead also seemed to have been ramped up. As well as scenes of what definitely looked like normal life breaking down at the beginning of an zombie apocalypse.
Dawn of the Dead - Apocalypse

Was I won over completely? No. But I certainly found myself more curious about seeing the finished product than I had been. So when it debuted on March 19th, 2004 – I had my seat at the second matinee. And when the end credits had rolled and the house lights were raised I walked out of the theater and bought a ticket for the next showing. I can honestly say I was blown away by how much I liked the film. Was it perfect? No. But it was INCREDIBLY entertaining to say the least. It was mean, had tons of dark comedy, and overall wanted to scare its audience.

To be fair, the film isn’t really that much of a remake of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. There are shared elements from both films of course. They are mostly cosmetic though on the whole. The mall being the central spot to which the survivors head to and fortify is there. And there are some cameos from the original film’s cast members. The 2004 remake really stands on its own if I am being totally honest.

So what is the basic plot of the remake? Ana, played by the powerhouse actress Sarah Polley, is rescued by a Police Officer named Kenneth (Ving Rhames). They shortly come across a trio of survivors. Michael, who is hands down my favorite character and played by Jake Weber. As well as Andre (Mekhi Phifer) and Luda (Inna Korobkina), a young couple with a baby on the way. The group takes refugee in the Cross Roads Mall but not before having a confrontation with the mall’s security force. You have racist CJ (Michael Kelly), his lackey Bart (Michael Barry) and the younger and more reasonable Terry (Kevin Zegers).
Dawn of the Dead - Survivors

As it seems that no help is coming, the group end up settling in for a long haul. Soon the group’s number grows with new survivors. Nicole (Lindy Booth), Tucker (Boyd Banks), Glen (R.D. Reid), Monica (Kim Poirier), and Norma (Jayne Eastwood). Oh, there is also the absolutely delightfully sarcastic and scene stealing Steve Marcus, played by Ty Burrell.
Dawn of the Dead - Ty Burrell

Zak Snyder’s direction is on point. Sharp and literally in your face in some scenes. The film doesn’t pull any punches in it’s depiction of the zombie apocalypse either. When everything starts to break down as you know it will. You will care about the characters and their fates.
Dawn of the Dead - Mall Roof

Just like they did with George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, Scream Factory is unleashing a Collector’s Edition of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. A 2-Disc Blu-Ray set offering both the theatrical as well as unrated cut of the film. Including of course a ton of extra features.

Disc One:

  • Theatrical Version HD Master Derived From The Digital Intermediate Archival Negative
  • Take A Chance On Me – An Interview With Actor Ty Burrell
  • Gunn For Hire – An Interview With Writer James Gunn
  • Punk, Rock, & Zombie – An Interview With Actor Jake Weber
  • Killing Time At The Mall: The Special Effects Of Dawn Of The Dead – An Interview With Special
  • Makeup Effects Artists David Anderson And Heather Langenkamp Anderson (Yes, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Langenkamp!)
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Disc Two:

  • Unrated Version HD Master Derived From The Digital Intermediate Archival Negative With HD Inserts
  • Audio Commentary With Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
  • Splitting Headaches: Anatomy Of Exploding Heads
  • Attack Of The Living Dead
  • Raising The Dead
  • Andy’s Lost Tape
  • Special Report: Zombie Invasion
  • Undead And Loving It: A Mockumentary
  • Drawing The Dead Featurette
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Hidden Easter Egg

You can pre-order your copy of the Dawn of the Dead Collector’s Edition by visiting Scream Factory. Or instead you can pick it up on Halloween before you head out to engage in spooky festivities!

Remember while watching Dawn of the Dead on Halloween to make sure it is actually trick-or-treaters outside your door!

Land of the Dead - Cover

Scream Factory: Land Of The Dead Collector’s Edition!

Land of the Dead was a very big deal when it was originally announced back in 2005. It marked the return of George A. Romero to his Dead universe. A mere 20 years had passed since we zombie fans were last treated to Romero’s unique vision of an ever increasing apocalypse. An apocalypse of the flesh-eating hordes of the undead. I can certainly say Land of the Dead had quite a bit of expectation tied to it.
Land of the Dead - Poster

I was so excited in fact that I took off work when it opened on June 24th. Furthermore judging by the size of the audience for the first matinee I wasn’t the only one. It was absolutely packed. I can remember how friends and complete strangers alike were busily chatting away with each other. Discussing their favorite Dead film, memorable scenes and how the movies ranked as well. Then the lights dimmed and an absolute hush washed over the audience.

[Via] W3reW0lfje

Land of the Dead marked the first film that Romero made that had studio support. In this case it was Universal Studios. Which probably helped to nab the talents of the likes of Dennis Hopper and of course John Leguizamo.
Land of the Dead - Dennis Hopper

So what kind of story did Land of the Dead bring us? In short a corrupt business man named Kaufman (Hopper) has created possibly the last sanctuary for humanity. A towering beacon of hope…false hope, for the huddled masses. If you happen to be filthy rich and align with Kaufman’s agenda you are safe and comfortable in the Green. However if you are one of the many poor – you earn your living in other ways. As a soldier guarding the fenced perimeter of the Green to keep out the Dead. Or as in the case of Cholo (Leguizamo) a lackey who is forced to get his hands dirty.
Land of the Dead - John Leguizamo

Our main protagonist in Land of the Dead is Riley Denbo, played by the Mentalist’s Simon Baker. A man who has all but been ground down by the world of the Dead. Not to mention having to go out constantly on raids to nearby cities and towns to scavenge for food and supplies for the people of the Green.
Land of the Dead - Simon Baker

On Riley’s last night out before retirement he notices something odd about the Dead they are contending with. At least in the case of one, Big Daddy, played by Eugene Clark. They seem to be getting smarter or remembering how to act like they did when living. At the very least they appear to be able to communicate with one another now…like forming a mob to repel and hunt down their attackers!
Land of the Dead - Big Daddy

Which is something I might add that Romero has clued us fans to from the start with Night of the Living Dead in 1968. Things go sour for Riley’s retirement plans as well as Cholo’s. In the case of the latter however it means retribution against Kaufman and the people of Fiddler’s Green. If his ransom demand of 5 million dollars are not met he will unleash the fury of Dead Reckoning on the city.
Land of the Dead - Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning is Land of the Dead‘s massive anti-dead vehicle. A modified Semi truck, designed by Riley in fact. Equipped to the teeth with all manner of weapons to punch it’s way through large mobs of the Dead. More importantly it has a deadly rocket launcher system that Cholo threatens to use on Fiddler’s Green.

So Riley is forced to go out beyond the safety of the city. To hunt down Cholo and reclaim Dead Reckoning before Kaufman’s empire is destroyed. Thankfully Riley can count on his friend Charlie (Robert Joy) as well as Slack, played by the bad ass Asia Argento. But as with all Romero Dead films…the true threat isn’t the hordes of walking dead…but our fellow man. The real question of Land of the Dead becomes whether humanity even deserves to be saved.

Now back in 2005 as the credits rolled on Land of the Dead I took a big breath. I walked out of the theater and got in my car. I then sat there for a few minutes. George A. Romero’s return had left me incredibly disappointed.

Perhaps I had put too much expectation on the film and what I thought it was going to be about. I will certainly admit that I thought we would be seeing humanity waging an all out war on the Dead after watching the trailer.

[Via] Scream Factory TV

Over the years I at least was wise enough to see how good Land of the Dead actually was. Will it ever by my favorite? No, I am afraid that goes to 1985’s Day of the Dead. A film I should add that when I originally watched it on VHS I wasn’t that impressed with either.

Now the good news is that Scream Factory is delivering a Blu-Ray collector’s Edition of the film. On this Tuesday, Halloween itself no less! This 2-disc edition also contains a horde of special features. Including an absolutely stunning 2K scan of the movie on both the theatrical cut as well as uncut version!

Disc One:

  • Theatrical Cut
  • Cholo’s Reckoning – An Interview With Actor John Leguizamo
  • Charlie’s Story – An Interview With Actor Robert Joy
  • The Pillsbury Factor – An Interview With Actor Pedro Miguel Arce
  • Four Of The Apocalypse – An Interview With Actors Eugene Clark, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks, And Jasmin Geljo
  • Dream Of The Dead: The Director’s Cut With Optional Commentary By Director Roy Frumkes
  • Deleted Footage From Dream Of The Dead
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

Disc Two

  • Uncut version
  • Audio Commentary With Zombie Performers Matt Blazi, Glena Chao, Michael Felsher, And Rob Mayr
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director George A. Romero, Producer Peter Grunwald, And Editor Michael Doherty
  • Undead Again: The Making Of Land Of The Dead
  • Bringing The Dead To Life
  • Scenes Of Carnage
  • Zombie Effects: From Green Screen To Finished Scene
  • Scream Test – CGI Test
  • Bringing The Storyboards To Life
  • A Day With The Living Dead Hosted By John Leguizamo
  • When Shaun Met George (Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg)

So before you head out to enjoy your Halloween festivities. Make sure to pick up the Land of the Dead Collector’s Edition. Or of course you can hop on over to Scream Factory and pre-order your copy today.

Did you know that Land of the Dead received a tie-in video game? It certainly did! Check out the trailer for Road to Fiddler’s Green!

[Via] Archives of the Dead

Do YOU Remember Hi-Tops Video?

Prepare thyself! By the end of this article, you will not only remember Hi-Tops Video, logos IN SPACE will be burned into your conscious memory!

All The Production Logos

Anyway…

If you grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s, you’re familiar with the “mainstream” production company/distributor logos. Think Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros. You’ll also likely remember some of the not-so-mainstream “budget” production company/distributor logos. For this argument, think Key Video, 1980s aerobic/exercise videos, and (shudder) Vestron.

The commonality that most of these bigger groups (and moreso the budget groups) is their family-friendly/children’s sublabels.

Focusing On Sublabels…

The 1980s brought about quite a few sublabels of larger companies – Playhouse Video (20th Century Fox), Children’s Video Library (Vestron Home Video),  and this all-too-memorable logo…

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That jingle, the lacing up shoe. This is a logo that ’80s kids could easily identify. This was Hi-Tops Video, and it was a company that released (almost) everything kid-friendly.

“Almost” was because they had stiff competition from those other distributors…and not all of them were splashy and high-quality.

Hi-Tops Video

Hi-Tops Video was a sublabel of Media Home Entertainment, itself a division of Heron Communications, and their childrens’ distribution and production arm. The company actively released thirty-five different productions as a distributor, and ten as a production company between 1986 and 1992.

Their releases ranged from toy tie-in cartoons of the time (The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, Captain Power, Lady Lovelylocks, and even two Barbie specials), and television shows (Long Ago and Far Away, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse), to imports, a guide to home safety for children, and a “profile video” about actor Chris Young.

Which I can’t find video proof of, folks. But I found the home safety video!

Hi-Tops and Logos…IN SPACE!

In order to know Hi-Tops Video and how it started, we have to go back a few years…eight years, to be exact.

Media Home Entertainment was founded in 1978 by Charles Band, with three sublabels – The Nostalgia Merchant (very old or classic films), Fox Hills Video (special interest and obscure B-movies), and the aforementioned Hi-Tops Video. After a rocky start due to ABKCO Records suing Media for releasing The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park concert, and then for their releasing of Beatles material, Media became one of the largest independent video distributors in the United States.

If you ask me, I think there was more cause to sue them for this ugly logo…

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…and blatant (though intentional) misuse of proper spelling!

But they redeemed themselves…IN SPACE!

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And then they changed their music…IN SPACE!

Upload via VHSBetaOpeningPreviewLover1991

Though they associated with Cannon.

Anyways…

Hi-Tops Video Releases

Hi-Tops Video released the majority of the earliest Peanuts specials as part of “Snoopy’s Home Video Library.” When I worked in the video store, we had the Hi-Tops prints of A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. The store even had It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (with She’s A Good Skate, Charlie Brown on the same tape), but released by Media Home Entertainment. Imagine that surprise when I rented the video! I had never seen the Media logo prior to that!

While most of their product were imports and programs based on established series and toylines, Little Schoolhouse was an original release (as were the aforementioned home safety video and profile on actor Chris Young).

Behold, original material!!!!

Uploads via UncleSporkums (and his awesome YouTube Channel!) and CringeVision

The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin In the Land of Hi-Top Video!

And I didn’t even know this – The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin releases were designed to be compatible with Teddy Ruxpin himself. They also dug out that man-sized Teddy Ruxpin suit to ensure that live-action Teddy Ruxpin never quite went away. His purpose? Ppening and closing segments on the videocassettes…

Behold, EXHIBIT A!

Upload via redilliop

Of course, I’m still shuddering over Come Dream With Me Tonight (the video, not the song itself!).

It’s all fun, games, and lacing up your sneakers, until your company goes under, taking you with them.

Such was the case with…

The Great Unlacing: The End of Hi-Tops Video

As fate would (unfortunately) have it, the early 1990s meant the end of an era in children’s home video distribution and production. In 1990, Media began downsizing its staff and selling its assets in the wake of Gerald Ronson’s (part of the family that established Heron International) in the Guinness share-trading fraud in Great Britain.

Media ceased operations in 1993, with Hi-Tops Video inactive the previous year (though Wikipedia cites that they were active until 1996). The Peanuts specials were acquired by Paramount in 1994, with Warner Bros. acquiring them in 2008. Most of their catalog is effectively out of print, but alas, You Tube is an amazing treasure trove for the Hi-Tops Video library.

So um, wow. Not short, sweet, and too the point, but still quite the composition in words and visuals. I, for one, love this logo – always have. Hi-Tops Video is a part of the childhood experience of video renting in the 1980s. I smile when I see this logo show up, even moreso if I see a Hi-Tops videocassette somewhere. The catchy jingle, shoe lacing up and bouncing into the background? All the makings of the 1980s nostalgic childhood experience, my friends.

So how about one more for the road?

Upload via Watcher3223

Ba-da-daaaaaaaaaaa!

Related Reading

Hi-Tops Builds Muscle in KidVid Wars – Billboard (Vol. 98, No. 40 – October 4, 1986 – Home Video, page 17)

 

Have You Seen the ACTUAL Version of “The Devil’s Gift”?

Spoiler Alert: “The Devil’s Gift” is terrible regardless of the version.

But first, on a semi-related note…

It’s my BIRTHDAY!!!!

I’ll give you all the pertinents:

  1. I’m thirty-five.
  2. I’m aware I don’t look it.
  3. This post is relevant to birthdays.

All of that said…

The Devil’s Gift…Is A Hell Of A Birthday Present!

Let’s face it, we all get that one gift we don’t like. We suck it up and thank the giver for their efforts…then focus our time and undivided attention on something else. I’ve never had that experience (honest!), as rumor has it I’m easy to shop for.

However…

Someone needs to tell the kid in this movie that he should have played with his other birthday gifts. Because this movie would have been over faster!

The Devil’s Gift is a 1984 feature film directed by Kenneth J. Berton, he of the stinker Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders, which is only watchable with riffing and Ernest Borgnine.

For me, that’s probably because my Uncle Sam looked just like him. This is actually Borgnine, not my Uncle Sam.

The Devil’s Gift is infamously known in its heavily-edited, child-friendly form (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000), and until recently, this was the only version I knew about. I figured, “oh, it’s a short film and it was needed to pad out the runtime of this longer film.” It was version I saw as a sixteen-year-old MSTie in 1999, and several times years later.

Nope.

…and the DVD cover that makes me scream B.S.!

The Devil’s Gift is an actual living, breathing representation of what a truly terrible movie one can make (that doesn’t involve Tommy Wiseau), and how it can absolutely feel disjointed even without heavy editing. Again, not involving Tommy Wiseau.

The original version is darker and more “violent,” but just as cheap, ugly, poorly-plotted and clunky as the version seen on MST3K.

Again, I’m absolutely certain Tommy Wiseau’s name does not appear anywhere in the credits.

Oh, the “Plot…”

Michael Andrews receives a cymbal-banging monkey as a birthday present, purchased by his father David’s girlfriend, Susan. The toy monkey was found among the ruins of a burned-down house, untouched by the damage surrounding it, and brought to an antiques shop, where Susan later decides this monkey is a Great Gift Idea.

And that’s where the fun begins!

*Cymbals Banging*

Each time the monkey bangs his cymbals of his own accord (the first clue this “toy” could not possibly be safe to play with), something happens. And by “something,” I mean death. Houseplants, the family dog, a housefly. And if it isn’t death, it is near-misses involving Michael: a near hit-and-run, attempting smothering, and attempted drowning. The monkey wants this kid dead, and two out of three times, it wants Susan to be the killer. The other time, it wants a car to kill him.

This is a terrible, horrible, ugly, schlock-filled, low-rent film that tries to be horror/thriller, and comes up comedy/Not Thriller. And the ending…let’s just say Merlin doesn’t arrive to retrieve his monkey.

The plot of the film is similar to Stephen King’s short story The Monkey, which is obviously an insult to King’s genius, since this movie is far from the caliber of Stephen King’s genius (it is alleged that the movie is plagiarized from that story). I’ve used “clunky,” “ugly,” “cheap,” and “poorly-plotted” to describe this movie, all of which is accurate. The acting is ugly, the people are ugly, the general look of the film is ugly, and I swear that 1970s couch every grandparent had is prominent in this house. I recall laughing at the riff “Hello, 1970s house” hysterically as a teenager, acting like I totally got why it was so funny.  As an adult, I get the joke…this is a 1970s house. This is 1976 trying to masquerade as 1984.

The runner up for laughs? This scene with riffing…

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If the guys from RiffTrax ever get their hands on it, I will be proudly claim firsties forking over the cost to see it in the theater. I have no shame.

The Devil’s Gift

Behold, the gift you don’t want, in its original form, complete with home video logos and trailers at the end.

For me, the real “gift” is that it is the 1985 Vestron Video print, complete with that screeching logo.

Anyway, celebrate my birthday with me over a movie about a possessed toy, and that toy’s determination to kill. It’s a helluva gift that you might just say the devil had something to do with…

Admit it, you giggled a little.

Anyway, here’s the ugly truth of a film…

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But, if you prefer the equally awkward, heavily edited, family-friendly B-story of a Z-grade film, then by all means, watch the original, if only for Ernest Borgnine.

Come for the laughs, stay for the Borgnine!