STORY WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
For 21st Century Media
Nothing says Halloween like a scary film to keep you on the edge of your seat and on the verge of screaming bloody murder. This season, there has been quite the uptick in packaged sets of classic films, but before getting into that, there’s a little horror festival happening in Philadelphia to talk about.
The long running Exhumed Films presents its eighth annual 24 Hour Horror-thon at the International House in University City at 3701 Chestnut St., just off UPenn’s campus. The marathon of nonstop horror mayhem starts at noon this Saturday, Oct. 25 and goes straight through until noon on Sunday, Oct. 26. The lineup of films is being kept secret, with the audience only finding out what the features are as they unspool onto the screen.
The marathon “will be a combination of some of the biggest horror titles of the last 30 years or so mixed with some really rare gems,” according to information at http://ihousephilly.org. Past Horror-thons have featured well known films like the original “Halloween” and “Dawn of the Dead” along with forgotten works like “Kung Fu Cannibals” and “Werewolf Woman.” There will also be a bevy of classic trailers, shorts, and other oddities, all projected on 16mm or 35mm film. Tickets for the general public are $40. Doors open at 11 a.m. with screenings beginning at noon. For more information, check http://ihousephilly.org/calendar/24-hour-horror-thon-part-viii.
If spending 24 hours in a movie theater isn’t your thing, there are a slew of alternatives on home video that have been recently released, capitalizing on the time of year.
Last month, the oft rumored and wildly anticipated “Halloween: The Complete Collection” arrived in a stunning, 10 and 15 disc set, with the latter being a deluxe edition. Featuring all eight Halloween films and the two Rob Zombie directed remakes; it’s the first time all of the movies have been gathered in one place. This was nearly impossible to pull together as the rights for the films spread across multiple home entertainment studios.
Maniacal villain Michael Myers, the knife wielding psychopath, has long been in the horror holy trinity along with “Friday the 13th”’s Jason Voorhees and “A Nightmare on Elm Street”’s Freddy Krueger. If something of this magnitude was going to be done, it had to be done right.
The set includes the never before producers cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers as well as the ultra-rare network TV version of the original “Halloween,” the network TV version of “Halloween II,” plus the unrated versions of Zombie’s Halloween and “Halloween II.” There are hours of brand new bonus features including interviews with cast and crew from the entire franchise. It also comes with a limited edition 40-page book written by Michael Gingold of Fangoria Magazine. The collectible packaging includes a newly commissioned illustration on the outer case and each film has its own black Blu-ray case with the original theatrical one sheet as the key art.
Scream Factory’s The Vincent Price Collection: Volume II came out this week on a four disc, seven film Blu-ray collection. This extraordinary collector’s set features “The House on Haunted Hill,” “The Return of the Fly,” “The Comedy of Terrors,” “The Rave,” “The Last Man on Earth,” “The Tomb of Ligeia” and “Dr. Phibes Rises Again.” There’s also a healthy helping of chilling bonus content including audio commentaries with producer and director Roger Corman, actor Brett Halsey, film historians, original theatrical trailers, rare photos and archival materials, and there’s also a 32-page collector’s book, featuring an essay by author and film historian David Del Valle. Overall, it’s a great introduction to one of the true masters of horror.
Imitated, remade but never equaled T. Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” rose from a notorious 1974 sleeper sensation to rank as one of the greatest horror films ever made. To mark the film’s 40th anniversary, Dark Sky Films is presenting the digitally re-mastered masterwork on Blu-ray for the first time in a stunning limited deluxe “Black Maria” collector’s edition box set. This release marks the only transfer of the film to go back to the original 16mm A/B rolls, the actual film that rolled through the cameras.
Fans of the film will recognize the unique packaging as a replica of the iconic “Black Maria” cattle truck that comes to Sally Hardesty’s rescue when she’s being pursued by Leatherface. The extras on the bonus disc are can’t miss as well, with multiple documentaries, deleted scenes, outtakes, a blooper reel and radio spots making up just some of the content.
Finally, going way back in time, there’s the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection which showcases all of the original films featuring the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “The Mummy,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The films all fall within the defining period between 1931 and 1956, an incredibly prolific time for horror.
Starring some of the most legendary actors including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these films set the standard for a new horror genre with revolutionary makeup, mood-altering cinematography and groundbreaking special effects. Virtually every film made within the category since owes a major debt to these classics.