Genre Watch – October ’06 – By Jordan Garren

 Hooray it’s October! The season of evil is finally here! Most normal folks go crazy over Christmas and at one time I did too, but for the past ten years or so, Halloween has officially become my favorite holiday (or, at the risk of sounding too cliched, it’s my favorite "horror-day"). Sadly, this October is riddled with crap in theaters and the DVD releases aren’t all that spectacular either, but who cares because there’s, "30 days ’til Hall-o-ween, Hall-o-ween, Hall-o-ween! 30 days ’til Hall-o-ween! Sil-ver Sham-rock!" And even if nothing below tickles your fancy, you can rest easy knowing that for the next four and a half weeks, you can turn on your TV and find a horror flick on nearly any station! Well, without further ado, here are my personal picks for this fiendish month and as always, all release dates are tentative so don’t be too surprised if a film’s release date suddenly gets pushed back.

Now available on DVD:

The Blind Dead Series – Amando de Ossorio’s awesome series of Spanish zombie flicks finally get released separately for all those poor consumers that missed out on Blue Underground’s kick-ass Blind Dead boxed set (which featured the four films, and a bonus disc, all wrapped up in a cute coffin-shaped box). In these films, the "blind" corpses of evil Templar knights awaken to feast on the blood of anyone that’s unlucky enough to be near their forsaken castle’s ruins. Though the first two (Tombs of the Blind Dead and Return of the Evil Dead) are definitely the best in the series, The Ghost Galleon and Night of the Seagulls are well worth a look. Tombs of the Blind Dead features both the original Spanish version of the film (with English subtitles) as well as the dubbed American release. Both versions are shown in a beautiful widescreen, high-definition transfer (as are all the other films) and the disc itself comes with these cool extras: An alternate Opening Sequence where the film is entitled, REVENGE OF THE PLANET APE, a theatrical trailer, and a poster & still gallery. Return of the Evil Dead also features two versions of the film and has theatrical trailers and a poster & still gallery as extras. The Ghost Galleon is uncut with optional English or Spanish soundtracks and comes with these extras: Original theatrical trailer, "Horror of the Zombies" trailer, TV spots, & Radio Spots, and finally a poster & still gallery! The last entry in the series, Night of the Seagulls has been released fully intact (with all the nudity and extreme violence that was missing from early VHS releases) and comes with a trailer and poster & still gallery! Personally I’d recommend getting the boxed set, but not everyone’s a fan of all four films so now you can pick out your favorite entries in this series and see them in beautiful high definition!

Dracula & Frankenstein (2-DVD 75th Anniversary Boxed Sets) – For hardcore fans of the original Dracula and Frankenstein comes Universal’s gorgeous new DVD sets for both films. Dracula features the inimitable Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, the legendary arch-vampire that butts heads with Professor Van Helsing. The DVD for Drac boasts cleaner picture and sound than the previous release (damn it!) as well as these bloody good extras: Audio Commentary by film historian David J. Skal, audio commentary by Steve Haberman, screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It, score by Philip Glass performed by the Kronos Quartet, "Lugosi: The Dark Prince" featurette, "The Road to Dracula" featurette, "Monster Tracks" interactive pop-up trivia, Dracula: Spanish Version with introduction by Lupita Tovar Kohner, a feature length documentary concerning Universal Horror, a poster montage, and finally a theatrical trailer! Egads! Talk about getting the royal treatment! Moving on to Frankenstein, this film is the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a man majoring in mad science and intent on discovering a way to cheat death. His experiments yield a creation that is made up of the body parts from various corpses and topped off with an abnormal brain. The result is Frankenstein’s Monster, a tragic creature that was brought into this world by a mad genius and taken out of it by a raging fire. (That is until we learn that the monster is indestructible, as is its clothing. 😉 The 75th Anniversary DVD set of Frankenstein contains these electrifying extras: Audio commentary by Rudy Behlmer (who?), audio commentary with historian Sir Christopher Frayling, "Karloff: The Gentle Monster" featurette, "The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster" featurette, feature length Universal Horror documentary, "Monster Tracks" interactive pop-up trivia, "Boo! A Short Film," and an original theatrical trailer for Frankenstein. Wow, great job Universal! You guys really know how to treat your movie monsters!

Gojira: Deluxe Edition (2 DVD Set) – Finally, Godzilla’s feature film debut gets the treatment it deserves! In 1954, a giant, fire-breathing creature appears in Japan and begins decimating the city. Scientists surmise that the great monster was awakened by nuclear bomb tests and as a result have turned the mighty beast into an environmental hazard! Though the Japanese Self-Defense Forces fail to destroy Gojira (Godzilla), a lone scientist may have the weapon that will take care of Japan’s largest pest: The Oxygen Destroyer! Both the English and original Japanese version of the film look absolutely wonderful and this DVD set completely makes up for Classic Media’s previous release of the film (which feature the worst attempt at Dolby 5.1 Surround sound that I’ve ever heard). This beautifully packaged set comes with a good chunk of extras including an audio commentary by Godzilla experts Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski, a making of the Godzilla suit featurette, a Godzilla: Story Development featurette, and a few original theatrical trailers. This is a great release from Classic Media and I’m eagerly looking forward to purchasing their other future Godzilla releases!

The Great Yokai War – Japan’s leading director of shock-cinema, Takashi Miike, brings us a remake of Yokai Daisenso. In this film, a young boy must lead an army of ancient Yokai spirits against a legion of evil monsters. The film has been given a nice, clean widescreen transfer along with several audio tracks (Japanese, and translated Chinese) with English subtitles, and the second disc in the set is jam-packed with extras. There’s a making of featurette, cast interviews, footage from the film’s theatrical premiere as well as several press conferences, and there’s even an interactive archive of all the film’s resident Yokai monsters! It’s nice to see that most foreign films are actually being treated with respect these days.

A Nightmare on Elm St. (2-Disc Infini-film Special Edition) – After getting off on a technicality during his trial, child murderer Fred Krueger is burned alive by the vengeful parents of the lost Elm St. Children. Years later Krueger returns as a sadistic dream demon and begins killing local kids in their dreams. Inspired by actual news stories about people dying in their sleep due to intense nightmares, Wes Craven’s (best?) fright flick is getting the Infini-film treatment from New Line in a new high-definition widescreen transfer that is gorgeous and blemish free (I should know because I saw it on the big screen last month). The DVD is loaded with extras including: An audio commentary by director Wes Craven, stars Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and director of photography Jacques Haitkin, alternate endings, "Never Sleep Again: The Making of Nightmare on Elm St." featurette, "The House that Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror" featurette, "Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven’s Nightmares" featurette, a Nightmare fact track, and much more! Had I not owned New Line’s recent Nightmare on Elm St. boxed set I would snap this up in a heartbeat, but for the time being I’m gonna stay away from this disc… even though I want it so badly that I dream about it nightly, which may be a bad thing…..

The Sandman (Remastered Special Edition) – Something is killing the residents of a small trailer park in their sleep and it’s up to one insomniac writer to save the day. This film was directed by Tempe DVD president J.R. Bookwalter (director of such classics as The Dead Next Door and Witchouse 3: Demon Fire) and has been digitally remastered with a clear fullscreen transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Like other Tempe releases, this DVD has plenty of stuff to sift through: An audio commentary with director J.R. Bookwalter and line producer James L. Edwards, a "Making of Sandman" featurette, Deleted Scenes, a "Plymouth" music video, a promotional still gallery, Tempe movie trailers, and a bonus hidden easter egg! Yikes, this obscure flick has gotten better DVD treatment than most big studio releases! Keep up the awesome work J.R.! Tempe rules!

The Star Wars Trilogy (Unraped Editions)Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi are all available now uncut and untampered with for the first time ever on DVD! (And for a limited time so get them NOW!) I’m not even going to bother with the plot of these films (even though I did for Nightmare on Elm St., a movie that everyone and their mother has seen), but I will tell you more about the extras found on all three 2-Disc sets. Actually there’s not much in the way of extras here folks. Each film contains the original theatrical version that we’d all thought we’d never see on DVD as well as the 2004 re-releases with "cleaner" picture and sound and added scenes and special effects. All three have an audio commentary with George Lucas, Dennis Muren, Ben Burtt, and Carrie Fisher (though a few other guests are in the commentary for The Return of the Jedi and probably The Empire Strikes Back as well). All the DVDs feature an easter egg, a playable X-BOX Game Demo, and a Lego Star Wars game trailer. It’s nice to have these on DVD, but I’d really like to kick George Lucas square in the nuts for milking Star Wars fans for all the money they’ve got. Shame on you George! Shame on you!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Ultimate Edition) – Tobe Hooper’s popular horror flick gets its third (or is this its fourth?) DVD release, this time under the Dark Sky Films DVD label. The movie has been remastered from the original 16MM negatives and features two audio commentaries with various cast members and director Tobe Hooper, trailers, TV and radio spots, deleted scenes & outtakes, bloopers, still galleries, a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth" documentary, a "Flesh Wounds" documentary, and finally, a "Tour of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre House" before and after remodeling with TCM star Gunnar Hansen. Dark Sky, keep up the kick ass work, your DVD releases just keep on impressing the hell out of me!

The Zombie Pack: Volume 2 – Those magnificent bastards at Media Blasters have packaged three more of their zombie DVD titles in one boxed set (at a reasonably low price). This time around they’ve included Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, Flesheaster, and Zombie Holocaust. Also keep an eye out for Media Blasters other awesome "Triple Feature" DVD sets: High School Horrors, Jungle Girls, Jungle Horrors, Post Apocalyptic, Psycho Killer, Vampire, and Zombie Pack Volume 1!

Now Playing in Theaters:

The Covenant – Renny Harlin shows that he is one of Hollywood’s most prolific bad movie makers with this latest feature film. The Covenant is about a warlock (a.k.a. a man-witch… mmm… sounds delicious) that’s out for revenge against a group of other warlocks… or something. I haven’t seen it, but it seems that the majority of moviegoers didn’t care much for this flick. Oh well, better luck next time Renny.

Fearless – Jet Li’s last "wuxia" film is breathtaking, action-packed, and rarely dull. A cocky fighter learns the err of his ways after killing a fellow martial arts master in a duel. After years of soul searching, Li’s character returns to the limelight to show that China is not the "Sick Man of Asia" that the world powers consider it. This movie was awesome and is right up there with House of Flying Daggers in terms of visual beauty (great cinematography) and style. Go see this movie!

Jackass Number Two – Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, and the rest of the gang return to punish themselves physically for our amusement! I can’t believe these guys are still alive after all the stunts they’ve pulled…

The Protector – Tony Jaa’s latest film has been mercilessly butchered (over a half hour has been cut out) and music from the RZA has been inserted throughout. Thanks to those greedy evil Jews, the Weinstein brothers (Whoops! Guess I’ll be considered anti-semitic for making that comment?), this once great film has been turned into a plotless mess. I’d also like to give Quentin "Big Chin" Tarantino a hearty "f*ck you" for "presenting" this film. I know you had nothing to do with the editing of the film Quentin, but you didn’t necessarily attempt to halt the raping of it either. I feel like flying out to Hollywood and giving all these guys a good beating with my knees and elbows… Tony Jaa style. (::sigh::)

DVDs to look for in October:

October 3rd: "The Blood Trilogy," "Cyborg 2," "Scarface" (Platinum Edition), "Super Inframan," "Toxie’s Shock Box" (5-DVD Set), "The Woods," and "X3: X-Men – The Last Stand."

October 10th: "The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology" (6-DVD Set), "Santa Claws," "Skeeter," and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" (Gruesome Edition).

October 17th: "Feast" (Project Greenlight Movie), "Frankenhooker" (Special Edition), "Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up," "The Omen" (2006 – Sh*tty Remake), "The Omen DVD Boxed Set" (6-DVD Set), "The Predator Boxed Set" (4-DVD Set), and "Rest Stop" (Unrated Edition).

October 24th: "King of New York" (Lionsgate Release), "Nacho Libre," "Skinwalker: Curse of the Shaman," "Slither," and "Total Recall" (Lionsgate Release).

October 31st: "The Devil in Miss Jones" (2-DVD Set), "The Devil’s Rain," "Frankenstein 1980 / 2000" (Double Feature), "The Northfield Cemetary Massacre" (30 Anniversary Edition), "Reservoir Dogs" (15th Annivesary Edition), and "Saw II" (2-Disc Unrated Edition).

Theatrical Films to Look for in September:

October 6th
:
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning – The latest film in the TCM series is about the earliest exploits of the cannibalistic Sawyer clan. Personally I’m not a TCM fan (even though I own all the movies) and this
ovie looks like a piece of crap. I guess it’s for hardcore fans and dim-witted teens only.

October 13th:
The Grudge 2 – Every time I see the preview for this film in theaters I laugh hysterically. I urge anyone reading this to not see this film. If we as a nation pull together and say "Hell No!" to sequels of remakes of Japanese horror films, then we can stop Grudge 3 from happening!

The Marine – This film is getting back to the roots of the ultra-cool / ultra-cheesy action flicks from the 80s! WWE wrestler John Cena is a retired marine that goes into action once his girl is kidnaped by Robert "T-1000" Patrick! It looks like fun so I’m definitely seeing this movie!

Shortbus – The director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch brings us another weird movie about sex and….. stuff! I’ve heard multiple things about this flick, including a tidbit that there’s actually some hardcore sex present in this film? That would be enough for me to see this movie had I not read that two of the main characters are gay guys looking for a third buddy to join in their faggy hijinks. Ewww….

Stormbreaker – Based upon a series of books, this is the tale of a teenage spy named Alex Rider that’s in the midst of a coverup / government conspiracy / evil plan to take over the world. But the plot isn’t the important thing folks, the cast is! This film features Mickey Rourke, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Alicia Silverstone, and several other familiar faces. It’s for kids, but Stormbreaker should be a fun watch if you’re a parent that’s unwillingly dragged to the movie theater.

October 20th:
The Prestige – Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play dueling magicians in turn-of-the-century London, England. They’re both trying to discredit and destroy each other and I’ll be there enjoying every minute of it. I have a really good feeling about this latest film from director Christopher "Batman Begins" Nolan.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (in 3-D!) – You’ve seen this movie, now see it again, in 3-D! I wasn’t a huge fan of this Tim Burton film, but I may give it a second go now that it’s in glorious 3-D!

October 27th:
Saw III – Jigsaw and his apprentice do what they do best and from what I’ve seen in the latest Fangoria magazine, it looks like we’ll get to see some pretty cool death traps. Hopefully they’ll end the series after this entry because I can’t see how the storyline could endure any more sudden plot twists.

Well that’s what we have to look forward to this month everyone. We’ll really be suffering through the next few months as the genre titles start to dwindle a bit, but hang in there because 2007 is going to be a helluva year for movies! There’s plenty of horror and grue hitting movie screens and rental shelves this month, and of course AMC, TNT, and all those other cable networks are going to be scrambling to get horror and sci-fi content on the air. And for those of you that have been blessed with High Definition Satellite TV, enjoy MONSTERS HD you rich S.O.B.’s! Go ahead and revel in its high-def, monstery goodness while the rest of us have to scrounge through eighty meager channels to find a decent horror flick to watch! Anyway, I sincerely hope that everyone reading this has a fun and safe Halloween! Be sure to scare yourselves and your friends witless this month!