Saturday, 9 November 2013

Severed Headlines

DVD/Blu-ray Releases – UK

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (DVD/Blu-ray)

I’ve only seen Tobe Hooper’s sequel to his own seminal 1974 horror masterpiece once and even then it was from a dodgy third generation video cassette with fuzzy picture and ropy sound.  All I can recall is that the tone was markedly different from that of the movie that birthed it.  Missing in action were the perfectly distilled terror, the atmosphere thick with dread and the viscerally intense gut punch violence of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre only to be replaced by black humour and more explicitly gory but less effective, in terms of how shocking they were, kill scenes.  I vaguely remember Dennis Hopper unleashing his unique brand of over the top lunacy and coming out the other end thinking the movie as a whole felt less like a sequel than it did an attempt to reboot the franchise as a completely different type of horror movie.

Arrow Films is a distributor for whom I have the highest regard.  I own a handful of their releases and intend someday to have a complete collection.  As a result of the respect I have for them I keep a close eye on what movies they are due to release.  When I read the TCM2 was going to be joining their impressive catalogue I decided it was past time I cast my eyes over it again to determine whether the 25 year old opinion I hold is a fair indication of the movie’s worth.  To that end I’ll be picking up the Blu-ray within the next week for review purposes.  

Packed as it is with a comprehensive set of extras it certainly looks to be the definitive edition of the movie.  The inclusion of two pre-Texas Chain Saw Massacre works from Hooper (1964 short The Heisters and his 1969 feature debut Eggshells) is particularly exciting.  There are also a couple of audio commentary tracks, one with Tobe Hooper which is moderated by David Gregory, the other with stars Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and Tom Savini which is moderated by Michael Felsher.  Eggshells also has a commentary by the director.  The other main extras are making of documentary "It Runs in the Family" and the usual deleted scenes, trailers and interviews with the various guilty parties.  All of this adds up to an essential package for fans of both the movie and Tobe Hooper in general.

Hitchcock: The Ultimate Blu-ray Collection

This is now on my Christmas list but at £165 I’m probably being a mite optimistic.  I’ve only seen a handful of Hitchcock movies and have made a promise to myself that at some point in the (hopefully not too distant) future I’m going to immerse myself in the man’s work.  This collection, containing as it does 16 of his best loved works, would go a long way towards helping me fulfill that ambition.  Included are the following movies:

Saboteur (1942)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) 
Rope (1948)
Rear Window (1954)
To Catch A Thief (1955)
The Trouble with Harry (1955)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Vertigo (1958)
North By Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)
The Birds (1963)
Marnie (1964)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Topaz (1969)
Fenzy (1972)
Family Plot (1976)

Extras vary from movie to movie but the set is packed to the rafters.

Other UK Releases

Pacific Rim (DVD/Blu-ray) - Guillermo Del Toro's big budget homage to Japanese Kaiju movies. Not seen it yet but plan to review within the next fortnight.  My partner in crime Sam Inglis gave it a kicking over at his 24 Frames Per Second blog upon it's theatrical release.  I both hope I disagree with him and am looking forward to debating with him once I finally see it.

A Study In Terror (DVD) - My knowledge of Sherlock Holmes is somewhat limited but the movies I have seen have proven sporadically interesting and I've been enjoying the contemporary BBC version starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  This movie pitches the Baker Street detective against Jack The Ripper and therefore dips it's toe into horror territory.  My curiosity is piqued and I intend to track this down at some future point.

DVD/Blu-ray Releases - US

John Carpenter's Body Bags (Scream Factory)

Scream Factory is to the US horror fan what Arrow Films is to the UK genre aficionado.  Body Bags is a minor John Carpenter/Tobe Hooper collaboration arriving as it did when both horror legends talent was on the wane (although Carpenter did rally his muse the following year to deliver the pretty great In The Mouth Of Madness).  Carpenter is responsible for the first and second shorts with Tobe Hooper's 'The Eye' forming the closing segment of the anthology.  It's been a while since I last saw Body Bags so I hesitate to go on record at the moment with any indication as to it's overall worth.  From memory I remember the Carpenter's opening segment 'The Gas Station' being an effective exercise in suspense while his second piece, the Stacy Keach starring 'Hair' was somewhat silly but moderately entertaining.  I remember precisely nothing about the Hooper's closing segment which can only mean one of two things; either my memory is failing (entirely possible) or it's utterly forgettable (also entirely possible).

Like Arrow Films in the UK, Scream Factory tend to lavish upon even relatively minor movies an impressive selection of extras. Body Bags is, in comparison to some of their other releases, every so slightly lightweight with the most attractive extra being a trio of audio commentary tracks.  There are also interviews with John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King and actors Stacy Keach and Robert Carradine.

Other US Releases

Akira: 25th Anniversay Edition - Although predominantly sci-fi, Akira contains enough body horror in its DNA to qualify as interesting to horror devotees.  It suffers a little from cramming way too much story into its 124m but is, nonetheless, an anime masterpiece that ended up being a gateway drug for Western film-fans back in the eighties who at the time had no idea how cool Japanese animation was.

This Week in Remakes

Nothing to report.  But what I can confirm is that sometime in December my partner in crime Sam Inglis and I will be debating on the worth or otherwise of horror remakes as part of the first in what I expect will become a regular series of the Afraid of the Dark Podcast.  I fully anticipate that voices will be raised and profanity will be used.

Cool Horror News Of The Week

Greg McLean, director of the brilliant Wolf Creek and the nerve-shredding killer croc movie Rogue, is to produce a new Aussie horror movie called Territorial.  This antipodean creature feature is currently in pre-production under the direction of Andrew Holmes and focuses on a group of escaped criminals who, ignoring warnings, venture into a valley within which according to local legend a great evil resides.

Not So Cool Horror News Of The Week

The Conjuring (which I enjoyed a great deal) is getting a spin-off movie focusing on the doll Annabelle. Fuck off Hollywood.


  1. Pacific Rim is total and utter garbage. The screenplay makes Independence Day sound like Shakespeare. If it were directed by anyone other than DelToro I suspect people would be denouncing it as the massive festering turd it is.

  2. Nice box set, but if it's just about ironing out your Hitchcock gaps there's quite a few box sets out there with very little overlap and much less cost. I have these three. Still a few films to mop up the collection.