Monday, June 11, 2012
Something to Shout About
Shout Factory has released a wide variety of typically older movies and TV shows that fans of the eclectic probably know all too well. They've been no strangers to horror and cult arena, having released the first legitimate HD print of a Takashi Miike film with Audition, as well as having finally saved Rocko's Modern Life from a lifetime in the 21st century of short, broadcast-cribbed Youtube clips. And before you fear that a line like this will slip into obscurity before they're out of the gate, they aren't stupid; they're raking in all sorts of sweet, sweet Brony money by being the distributor for a number of current TV shows, including My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Still, their track record is long and surprisingly stable, so it's without hesitation that I'm excited to see them having thrown down the gauntlet and created "Scream Factory", a new sub-label focusing on producing special edition BD/DVD presentations of cult horror films. Their inaugural release is a one-two punch including a bonus-features laiden special edition of Halloween II ('81) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch, with Terror Train being the next title in line. Also announced were new DVD/BD editions for Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse, Wes Craven's Deadly Premonition, Death Valley, and the two titles I'm most excited to pick up personally: Don Coscarelli's Phantasm 2 and John Carpenter's They Live!
This is one big pleasant surprise* as some of these titles have never even had a proper R1 DVD release. Also of note is that every title will contain a host of all-new bonus features, and in the case of Halloween 2, that includes a second DVD with the rarely seen "TV Version" in its entirety. I've always loved seeing completely alternate cuts of a film included when they were substantially different, and as the TV master was made by speeding up footage and re-dubbing lines left and right, including a host of "Deleted Scenes" - as Universal did on their release last year - is only half the masochistic fun. Word is they can't get the Carpenter/Piper commentary for They Live!, which is a damned shame, but I have little doubt they'll either record a new one themselves or come up with something just as satisfying. Better yet, while I think the three faux-vintage covers Scream Factory have come up with are pretty fun in their own right, every single release promises a reversible cover with the original poster are on the B-Side.
*Well, pleasant enough. I personally can't stand THE FUNHOUSE...
While their Audition Blu-ray transfer was, sadly, not very impressive, it's pretty well established that the elements for that film have never been very good to start with. Yes, it could have looked substantially better, but somehow I find myself hard-pressed to get too upset knowing the original negative still exists and they were flatly refused access to it. They scanned an Internegative made for international distribution and then said, "There, done." Odds are most of these films have their negatives readily available, and as major studios like Paramount and Universal would likely be doing all of the transfer work, I have little doubt that we'll get some stunning looking presentations out of the deal... and if not, you bet your ass I'll be one of the first to let you know about it.
If you needed any more incentive to pick it up, ordering HALLOWEEN II from Shout Factory's site nets you a Haddonfield Memorial Hospital nurse's cap, while for SEASON OF THE WITCH you get a poster with their newly-commissioned cover artwork. A clever little incentive to get fans to give the distributor as much for these titles as they can, but as Amazon already has those two up for $20 a piece, these neat little paper goods (limited to "Less Than 500" each) just aren't enough to get me to go balls deep at MSRP-plus sales tax and shipping.