While I’m never going to consider it a “good” movie, I’m strangely glad that director Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho exists. It only serves to make the original movie that much better (as though such a thing was possible) by demonstrating all the things Hitchcock does so perfectly that the remake gets perfectly wrong. Think of it as a $20 million experimental film; now that is has been tried and failed, we know that the experiment doesn’t need repeating. That alone has to be worth something.
As Scream Factory continues to release pared-down catalogue titles on their now five-year-old label, the brand keeps expanding to include all different kinds of movies. Once known for releasing deluxe special editions of horror fan favorites, the company has diversified over the last half decade and begun releasing new films (as part of their deal with IFC midnight), unknown (and sometimes previously unavailable) cult films, a handful of classics, and even their own in-house productions. This last batch of catalogue titles, the majority of which have been released with only minimum bonus features but new HD scans, continues to broaden the reach of the Scream Factory brand to include a range of titles from secretly successful ’70s sexploitation sci-fi to well-intentioned failures of the 1990s.
Now that we’re nearly 20 years removed and the dust has settled on the 1990s, the decade long believed to be a wasteland for horror movies is finally being reconsidered for the number of really good films it actually did produce.
Though Scream Factory originally made their name by releasing comprehensive special editions of beloved horror titles and some lesser-known cult films deserving reappraisal, after five years the company is diversifying their output more and more.
Let me get this out of the way up front: I think Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 sci-fi action classic, RoboCop, is a perfect film. With its mix of brilliant social satire, comic book action, dystopian sci-fi, and insane violence—a brilliant blend of ’80s aesthetics, Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner’s sharp script, a perfect cast, and Paul Verhoeven’s particular brand of genius/madness. It is the kind of movie that cannot really be reproduced… though two sequels and a 2014 remake certainly gave it a shot. That each came up short in different ways comes as no surprise. It only offers proof of the original movie’s magical alchemy.
With the glut of Stephen King novels adapted into movies during the early-to-mid 1980s, it became all too easy for certain films to fall through the cracks. It was even easier, in fact, when so many of those movies were high-profile productions made by A-list directors like Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and John Carpenter. One can understand how a movie like Mark L. Lester’s Firestarter, an adaptation of King’s 1980 novel of the same name, wound up getting overlooked. I’m guilty of it myself, having seen the movie and promptly filed it with the other middle-of-the-pack Stephen King movies. Luckily, Scream Factory has a new Blu-ray that has me reconsidering my opinion and hopefully will allow other horror fans to rediscover a really cool film.
Syfy Films continues to expand into the theatrical arena with their new feature, Atomica, a character-driven science fiction drama about three people who are unsure if they can trust one another as they attempt to get a futuristic power station back online. With Atomica now out in select theaters and coming out on VOD and digital HD beginning March 21st, Daily Dead recently caught up with director Dagen Merrill for our latest Q&A feature to discuss realizing his vision on a budget, how to find hope within a bleak depiction of the future, and more.
Atomica, the new film from director Dagen Merrill, is a small-scale, character-based science fiction movie about two people stranded together in a single location and learning to live with one another while they both possibly conceal secrets. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it could also describe the Chris Pratt/Jennifer Lawrence vehicle, Passengers, from late 2016. I make this comparison not to suggest the former copied the latter—Atomica is no “mockbuster” imitation—but instead just to say that if I had to choose between Passengers and Atomica, I’d go with Atomica.
Nearly three years after releasing the original Slumber Party Massacre as a special edition Blu-ray, Scream Factory has finally put a double feature disc of its two sequels: 1987’s Slumber Party Massacre II and 1990’s Slumber Party Massacre III. It’s something of a good news/bad news situation.
One of the lesser-known horror anthologies of the 1980s, 1986’s Deadtime Stories is a title of which I’ve been familiar for years, but it took me a long time to actually get around to seeing it. And because of the film’s long history of botched home video releases, the versions I’ve been able to watch in the past haven’t been of the best quality. As a result, I had an unfair opinion of the movie. Thankfully, Scream Factory has put Deadtime Stories out on Blu-ray for the first time and allowed me the opportunity not just to revisit it, but to revise my opinion. It’s more fun than I gave it credit for.
Daily Dead is proud to debut the music video for “Ratimis,” the title track from the full-length album by electronic artist Brahm, available beginning today from Swedish Columbia Records. Directed by cult filmmaker Damon Packard, a lifelong independent director known for movies like Reflections of Evil and Foxfur, the “Ratimis” video is comprised of clips from a number of horror films all set to the pulsing electronic score of Brahm's music.
Writer/director Eric England has made a name for himself in the horror genre by bending familiar genres into new and unique shapes, whether it's his debut feature Madison County, a take on the slasher movie mixed with ’70s survival horror, or 2013's Contracted, his version of a body horror film and more (although to say exactly what would spoil one of that movie's best surprises). England's fourth feature, Get the Girl, continues this tradition of genre-bending by mashing up a dark comedy, heist movie, crime thriller, and romance into one slick, sharp package.
There was never really a need to sequelize 1982’s Poltergeist. It told a complete story. It vanquished the evil spirit haunting the house by film’s end. Heck, it even vanquished the house itself. But because the original movie was a hit and it was the ’80s, the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg collaboration got not just one sequel but two, despite the fact that it does not lend itself to being a franchise. New villains and new mythology—and eventually even new family members—were introduced to keep the story going, albeit with mixed results. And while the sequels have their fans, they’re hardly among the most beloved horror films of the decade. Thanks to Scream Factory’s new Collector's Editions of both, horror fans now have the chance to reevaluate them in the best possible format.
[Hello, readers! To celebrate Valentine's Day, the Daily Dead team thought it would be fun to do things a little differently this year. We're putting the spotlight on our favorite horror-loving characters from genre cinema—people who have represented our own fandom on screen and, in many cases, helped bring our passion for horror into the mainstream. Be sure to check here for more of our tributes to some of the greatest horror fans to ever grace the big screen.]
The history of horror movies is full of Monster Kids—those young boys and girls obsessed with all things horror who are, sooner or later, able to put all of their knowledge gathered from hours spent in front of Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man to good use.