Scream Factory’s slate of Blu-ray releases continues to expand in all directions, from recent indie releases to beloved cult favorites to the movie classic and esoteric, as evidenced by several of its recent offerings. Here are just three new Scream Factory titles that represent the breadth of the company’s constantly growing catalogue.
The Clovehitch Killer: First up is 2018’s The Clovehitch Killer, a serial killer drama from IFC midnight starring Dylan McDermott as a geeky suburban dad whose teenage son (Charlie Plummer) has begun to suspect he might be a serial killer. If that sounds a little like IFC’s I Am Not a Serial Killer from a few years back, that’s because the movies have a lot in common—though, without spoiling either one, I will say that Clovehitch is missing some of the other film’s more outlandish plot developments. More a drama than a traditional horror movie, The Clovehitch Killer is part serial killer story, part coming-of-age tale—a hybrid that, in addition to the aforementioned I Am Not a Serial Killer, we also saw in last year’s Summer of ’84. There’s a little less Rear Window here than in the other two films, but the familiarity with many of the elements in Clovehitch make it harder for the movie to distinguish itself.
It does so through strong performances and some genuine suspense, though the movie’s insistence on telling the story out of chronological order dulls the impact at several key moments. Everyone involved does good work and there’s enough about the movie that’s effective enough to warrant a recommendation, but The Clovehitch Killer struggles to find anything new to say on its subject.
Scream Factory is releasing the Blu-ray of Clovehitch through its partnership with IFC midnight, but it’s mostly a barebones affair. The 1080p transfer is very strong, making the most of the film’s desaturated 1970s-inspired cinematography, but the only supplemental materials provided are an EPK-style making-of featurette and the theatrical trailer. This is a title for which I would have liked to hear a commentary from director Duncan Skiles, particularly about some of the choices that stifle the dramatic momentum.
Movie Score: 2.5/5, Disc Score: 2.5/5
The Craft Collector's Edition: The cult favorite The Craft gets a Collector's Edition upgrade from Scream Factory, porting over the bonus features included on Sony’s previously released Blu-ray and adding a handful of new extras to make it a worthwhile upgrade for fans. Robin Tunney plays Sarah, a recent transplant at a Los Angeles private school who has trouble fitting in with anyone. She eventually falls in with a trio of outcasts (played by Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True), all of whom are rumored to be witches. Well, the rumors are true, and before long Sarah and her new friends are casting spells to take revenge on the bullies at school. It doesn’t take long for this kind of power to spin out of control, though, pitting Sarah against her new friends in a battle for Teen Witch supremacy.
A well-loved entry in the ’90s horror canon, The Craft is a clever spin on both the teen movie and the witch subgenre. By combining the two into one story, writers Andrew Fleming (who also directs) and Peter Filardi are able to retain the female empowerment themes of traditional witch movies (titles like Season of the Witch and Burn, Witch, Burn) while also having things to say about bullying, racism, teen dating, rumor spreading—all the rough stuff that comes with being a teenager, only amplified through the lens of witchcraft.
The cast is good across the board; Tunney is a strong and sympathetic lead, and the movie marks Neve Campbell’s first foray into horror before the Scream franchise would make her a household name among genre fans. It’s Fairuza Balk, however, who truly owns The Craft. Her performance as goth girl coven leader is the poster child for a certain kind of ’90s teenager, and no doubt has served as inspiration for countless young women since the movie came out in 1996. She is a force of nature, and the movie would be memorable if only for her performance even if the rest of it fell flat. Luckily, it doesn’t. Though its closest genre cousin is probably something like Ginger Snaps, there’s nothing quite like The Craft in all of ’90s horror, and it’s yet another reminder that, contrary to the oft-repeated maxim that the decade was bad for horror, many a genre classic was released during the 1990s.
Scream Factory appears to have repurposed the existing HD master for this release, meaning those looking to upgrade won’t be getting a new transfer. What you will get, however, is a new collection of bonus features in addition to those that have been ported over: the previously released commentary from co-writer/director Andrew Fleming, two making-of featurettes, deleted scenes (playable with optional commentary from Fleming), and a theatrical trailer. Appearing for the first time on the Scream Factory releases are a newly conducted interview with Fleming, a new interview with co-writer Peter Filardi, a new interview with producer Douglas Wick, and a new interview with special effects legend Tony Gardner, who supervised the makeup effects on the movie. The new interviews all offer the benefit of hindsight and perspective and help to paint a picture of how the movie was put together and what its legacy has become in the years since its release.
Movie Score: 3.5/5, Disc Score: 4/5
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires: Finally, there’s The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, the last film in Hammer’s Dracula cycle and their attempt at a horror/kung fu hybrid that’s eccentric and goofy, but also a lot of fun. John Forbes-Robertson steps in as Dracula (with the voice of David de Keyser), making it the first time an actor other than Christopher Lee plays the Count in a Hammer Dracula film. Not that it matters much; the Prince of Darkness only appears in the first and last few minutes of the movie. The remaining runtime consists of a group of kung fu fighters led by Professor Van Helsing (returning Peter Cushing), traveling to a remote Chinese village to destroy the seven golden vampires (well, actually it’s six, but who’s counting?).
What results is a whole lot of kicking and punching in a movie that’s violent even by Hammer standards, maybe because it comes so late in the cycle when restrictions were more lax, or maybe by nature of the fact that it’s more of an action movie than any of the previous films in the series. As a fan of both Hammer movies and martial arts movies, it’s not hard for me to have a blast with The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, but those looking for the same class and atmosphere of previous titles in the studio’s Dracula series may bristle at how crass and goofy this one is. As far as I’m concerned, it’s precisely that crassness and goofiness that make it so enjoyable.
Two different versions of the film appear on Scream Factory’s Blu-ray: a new 2K scan of the uncut The 7 Golden Vampires and the heavily edited US cut, retitled The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula, also presented in HD (albeit with a few standard definition insert shots). There’s an audio commentary by film historian Bruce Hallenbeck and an interview with kung fu film expert Rick Baker (no, not that Rick Baker), both of which provide some context for the movie both within the kung fu genre and as part of the Hammer Dracula cycle. Actor David Chian offers some reminiscences about the making of the movie in the featurette “When Hammer Met Shaw.” The standard crop of trailers, production and promotional stills, and television spots round out the healthy offering of bonus features.
Movie Score: 3/5, Disc Score: 3.5/5