Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009) Review

One from the To Watch Pile…



Film: Even though their releases are hit and miss, I am always willing to giving Australian company Monster Pictures a go. Sometime I get a gem like   All Through The House, other times I am kicked in the nuts with trash like Pod, but I still feel that support is important.

On a few occasions, Monster Pictures will release a documentary ABOUT films, like Andrew Leavold’s The Search for Weng Weng, the unusual film about Richard Franklin’s descent into madness Lost Souls, and this, the more mainstream horror based doco about the American horror film, Nightmares in Red White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film.

Now I am a massive fan of documentaries about film, and site The History of Film TV series as my second favourite TV series of all time (the first is Doctor Who, the third is Criminal Minds) and I am a regular viewer of other docos like Video Nasties, Channel Z, Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed, Rewind This et cetera.

I think the reason I am so interested in these documentaries is because I am somewhat of a frustrated filmmaker myself, and would love to make docos!

Now the history of horror films would be a TV series unto itself as so many countries have a massive horror film industry themselves, so this one egotistically narrows its focus solely on the American horror film.

The film is narrated by horror icon Lance Henrickson, and features interviews with various directors like Joe Dante (The ‘Burbs), George Romero (Land of the Dead ), Brian Yuzna (Beyond Re-animator), John Carpenter (Halloween (1978), Larry Cohen (The Stuff), Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II), Mick Garris (Riding the Bullet), Tom McLoughlin (Sometimes They Come Back) and Roger Corman (trust me, you’ve seen a Corman film), as well as film historians John Kenneth Muir and Dennis Fischer and ex-Fangoria editor in chief Tony Timpone.


This is a pretty good movie, though as the title would suggest, its very insular and outside a couple of mentions of what is happening in the overseas film industries, it talks repeatedly about what was happening in America, to Americans (though apparently Canada is America now, according to the Cronenberg mentions) and how the various world wars effected Americans and the American horror film industry.

That’s a minor criticism though and the documentary takes a fleeting look at the entire history of American horror from the dawn of cinema appearing in America to Universal Monsters, to thrillers, savage cinema, slashers, zombies: you name it.

This documentary also looks at the highs and lows of the industry, and how the ‘real’ world (whatever that is these days) effects the quality and tone of horror films.

Horror movie fans will love the fact that this film doesn’t hold back on the violence and blood: obviously the director, Andrew Monument and writer, Joseph Maddrey (also the writer of the book on white this was based) know where the bread and butter of the genre usually is; you know, that surface interest before the story or acting or direction becomes and appeal.


The real shame in this film is the lack of female discussion: no women directors, historians, journalists or actresses get a say here which I found unusual, considering how great their presence has become, and how important both sexes are to the genre. Seriously, Rue Morgue, the wonderful horror magazine was at its best when under the control of now-director Jovanka Vukovic, surely someone like her or her contemporaries (like Monica S. Kuebler or Rebekah McKendry or April Snellings or any of the other wonderful female voices in horror)  would have had something important to say.

Even over that, I enjoyed this documentary and am happy to have it in my collection of docos about horror films.

Score: ***1/2


Disc: This region 4 DVD release from Monster Pictures runs for roughly 96 minutes and is presented in a 16×9 image of varying quality, which is not entirely fair as some of the footage is from old films but some of the interview do have some noise on their image, and the audio is presented in an entirely functional Dolby Digital 2.0.

Score: ***

Extras: Not a sausage.

Score: 0

WISIA: I have no doubt that I’ll watch this again as I do re-watch horror documentaries regularly.



Comic Review: Secret Avengers Volume 1: Mission to Mars

Secret Avengers 1

You’re going to get an idea of where this review is going by my very next sentence…

I REALLY wanted to like this.

This collection combines the first five issues of Secret Avengers, which is an undercover, covert Avengers group. This comic took place right after the amazing Death of Captain America storyline which really shook up the Marvel status quo, as we now had the Winter Soldier as Captain America, and Steve Rogers (Cap’s alter ego) left without that role.

The newly christened ‘The Captain’ in charge of the aforementioned group, which confusingly consisted of Black Widow, the Beast, War Machine, Nova, Valkyrie, Ant-man (not Hank, and not Scott but some other guy) and Moon Night.

In this story, the Secret Avengers find themselves on a … yep, Mission to Mars… in pursuit of the Serpent Crown, a powerful icon that would be deadly in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, something called The Shadow Council is also in pursuit, the weird thing is though, is the guy in charge looks like a certain Nick Fury… and what happens when one of the members of the Avengers turns against them…

This was written by Ed Brubaker, who wrote the Death of Cap storyline and is an amazing writer, but it seems that this comic was a massive misstep. Moon Knight and Black Widow are completely wasted and by sticking them on Mars, are outclassed., and the new Ant-man is, well, a jerk.

The art of issues 1 to 4 is by Mike Deodato Jr , and this is an artist who just gets better every time I see his work. If you look back at his early art, he seemed little more than a post-Image comics stooge whos talent lay in his ability to emulate them, with his art looking like the unwanted child of a marriage between Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld’s early work, but now it’s leaning towards the great John Buscema.

The fifth issue has art by David Aja, who is a spectacular artist who worked on the fantastic Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon with support from Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano.

The reviewed copy of this comic is a really nice hardcover volume from Marvel, which in addition to the five issues has a bunch of alternate covers.

Visually this story is a treat but the mix of characters is like eating chocolate and fried cheese: by themselves nice, but together, just wrong, and the story suffers for it.

SCORE: ***


Book Review: Our Gods Wear Spandex

One from the To Read Pile…



Christopher Knowles

with illustrations by

Joseph Michael Linsner


I’ve been a comic fan my entire life, except for the first three years, and a period of about 5 years in the 90s when comic stories and art became so dire and horrible, and everything was about ‘alternate covers’ and bonus crap and every hero was covered in armour and/ or carried guns.

Some comic boffins refer to this as the ‘Chromium Age’ of comics due to the fact the very worst of comics ended up with thick awful garish metallic covers that promised to be worth a million dollars in the future, but whose content… let’s be honest, sucked.

Coincidently, this very topic is how Christopher Knowles book, Our Gods Wear Spandex begins as it discusses the highs and lows of the comics industry: how the highs usually come after a great tragedy like World War II and how the lows are generally when the industry itself becomes a parody of itself, like when every single comic, including the leaders in DC and Marvel, imitate fads like that of Rob Liefeld’s comic ‘art’ in the early 90s.

The book then goes into a quite interesting assessment of how today’s mythical gods are superheroes whom are all in some way based on ancient myths and legends and how subsequent heroes are based upon these. For me, the revelation that my idol Jack Kirby based two of his characters looks, in Thor and OMAC on that of Shazam’s Captain Marvel! (sorry DC, no matter how much you wish to refer to the Big Red Cheese as ‘Shazam’, he’ll always be Captain Marvel to me!)

The book also details the origins of some of comics big storylines and from where historically or myth0logically they are influenced. It details how everything from religious orders and secret societies, to ideas proposed by Niezche and Einstein and have sparked creative fires in the minds of everyone from Siegal and Shuster, to Lee and Kirby, and even to the aforementioned Liefeld and his Image co-conspirators, though their ideas more are borrowed from other, better comics, rather than classic literature or intellectual thought.

Not only do we have a cavalcade of mythical tales summarised within these pages, various writers from the 19th and 20th century, those at the birth of science fiction and detective stories like Poe, Lovecraft, Wells, Verne and their contemporaries are also discussed, albeit briefly.

The comparison of these myths and theories and how they influenced the character from the pulp novels like The Spider and Doc Savage, and then how they in turn influenced comic characters and stories is fascinating, but the best thing is, Christopher Knowles has made it accessible and the language in which its written is relaxed and enjoyable. The book also has really nice illustrations by Cry for Dawn’s Joe Michael Linsner, though I must say I prefer his color art to his line art. If you are a long time comic fan, and have ever thought,” where did they get that ideas from?”, this book is for you.


Beyond Re-animator (2003)

One from the re-watch pile…



Film: I have probably mentioned it before on this very site, but my very favourite movie of all time… not just horror… but my very favourite, number one favourite film of all time is the 1985 film, directed by Stuart Gordon and based on the work of H. P. Lovecraft, Re-animator.

I loved it from the first moment I saw it and it turned me on to the work of Lovecraft, and the gorgeous Barbara Crampton, and I really enjoyed the combination of zombie flick, mad scientist movie and actual drama about people’s lives.

At this time in my life I loved sequels too, but always prayed that they would never make more Re-animator films as it really felt like a cool complete movie, but Yuzna knew he was on a good thing so we have been treated to two sequels: Bride of Re-animator and this, Beyond Re-animator.

Beyond Re-animator find Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) interred in a cruel prison when a young doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) takes up residency in the infirmary.


Dr Phillips didn’t accidently end up there though, he deliberately sought out the place where West was imprisoned so he could have some questions answered about the death of his sister, at the hands of one of West’s reanimated subjects.

Of course, answers of this kind are easily found, and Phillips finds himself under the oppressive hand of an unpleasant prison warden (Simon Andreu) and an increasing amount of re-animated bodies, and that jail is not the best place to be trapped with them.

This was one of Yuzna’s Spanish created Fantastic Factory jobs, a company he was attempting to build into the new ‘Hammer’ in the late eighties and early 90s. A couple of good films came out of that, including the adaptation of the David Quinn/ Tim Vigil comic Faust and I don’t mind this so much either, even though it is pretty dumb at times.

Of course the highlight of this is Jeffrey Combs’ performance of Herbert West. He is the look down the nose, superiority complex king of mad scientists, for certain. The writing of his character lacks some of the charm of the first two outings, particularly the first, but it’s there, simmering under some below average scripting.

Unfortunately the co-stars suffer from a language barrio which makes their performances not bad, but certainly not quite ‘on point’. Don’t get me wrong, the prison characters are perfectly nuts, the warden deliciously evil and the love interest a feast for the eyes, but occasionally what they say just sits wrong.


The effects in the film are provided in part by Screaming Mad George so you know you are in for somewhat of  a treat with some of the effects.

All in all is a fun watch, but its just not great, and honestly waters down the character of Herbert West. Having said that, would I watch another one if one were made? Of course I would.

Score: **1/2


Disc: The reviewed copy of this film is the U.K.  Arrow Films DVD release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes and is present in a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic image with a matching 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: There are three extras on this DVD:

The Director’s Commentary with Brian Yuzna sees Yuzna himself talk about the film and its creation and is a fairly complete document of the film.

 All in the Head: Brian Yuzna and the Re-animator Chronicles  is an interview with Brian Yuzna about his career both with and without Herbert West. It goes for about an hour and is pretty complete.

There is also a trailer for the film.

The packaging is pretty cool though: there is an awesome The Dude Designs reversible cover (with the original poster on the other side) and a poster of the TDD cover as well. Calum Waddell has also leant his journalistic skills to a booklet which discusses the world of Lovecraft.

Score: ****



Bernie Wrightson R.I.P.

Today was tough for this comic and music fan. I awoke to the news that Chuck Berry had passed away and though to myself, ‘well this day is gonna suck.’

Then I found out one of my comic heroes, Bernie Wrightson, had passed away from brain cancer.

Bernie was best known for his horror comics and for the co-creation, along with Len Wein, for probably the world’s most famous muck-monster, Swamp Thing, which is where I was first introduced to him.


When I first became aware of Wrightson’s art, I actively pursued his comics, and at one time was listed amongst my favourite artists along with Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Harvey Kurtzman and Robert Crumb.

Actually, that list is probably still current.

Some of the highlights of his career for me were his collaboration with Steven King, ‘The Cycle of the Werewolf’…


His illustrated Frankenstein book…


and the amazing ‘Jennifer’, written by Bruce Jones which was adapted by Dario Argento for the TV series Masters of Horror.


I am sure all comics fans will feel his passing along with me, and if I may, please think about donating to one of the wonderful charities that support cancer sufferers and their families, like Bear Cottage.



The ‘Burbs (1989) Review


From the re-watch pile…

THE ‘BURBS (1989)



Film:  Joe Dante has always been somewhat of a hero to me. I haved always admired his love of cinema and his associated knowledge, and even though I am well and truly a fan of horror, I do have a michevious child trapped inside me, and in general, Dante’s films speak to that kid.

He directed some of my favourite films as a teen, like The Howling, Gremlins and Innerspace, and continues to entertain me with films of a similar vibe, like The Hole and Burying the Ex. I like that his films have this odd polluted wholesomeness to them.

The ‘Burbs was released in 1989 and is a story about suspicion, and what can happen when it gets in the way of facts. Is it a microcosm of society that may have morew relevance today than ever before?

What would I know? I’m a nerd who collects toys, reads comics and watches movies!!!


Anyway, The ‘Burbs tells of a quiet street where Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) live with his wife Carol ( Carrie Fisher) and their son, Dave (Cory Danziger), and this week, Ray has decided to take a week off to relax!

The problem is, is that Ray is quite highly strung, and is easily led astray by his friend Art (Rick Ducommun) and Mark (Bruce Dern), the paramilitary nutjob who lives across the street, and the three of them are suspicious of their new neighbours, the Klopeks (Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore and Courtney Gains), and think they may be part of a satanic cult or are serial killers…

When one of the older members of the neighbourhood suddenly goes missing, the three cook up a scheme to find out what the Klopeks are up too… but are the Klopeks the REAL danger, or is presumption and suspicion the REAL villain here…?ejudices and presumptions of ‘normal’ folk…



Through his amazing cast and efficient filmmaking, Dante has created a fun dark comedy that really works, and feels timeless. The story rolls along at quite the clip, but that could be that we, as the voyeuristic viewer is getting caught up with all the stickybeaking… we love to know each other’s business, right? This could also happen as some of the stereotypes are very familiar.

Tom Hanks plays his role as manic as he did in these days, before he became a ‘serious actor’, and there is a special appearance by Dick Miller ( who no doubt is playing ‘Walter Paisley), but the people who really nail their roles are The Klopeks. Within the confines of the film, and its environment, Dante has made them the perfect straight men to the apparent insanity of us normal folks. Special mention needs to go to Brother Theodore who seems like an evil monk in his role.

This isn’t top tier Dante, but it is an enjoyable watch.

Score: ***1/2




Disc: This region B Australian bluray release is presented in a slightly above average 1.77:1 image with a decent 2.0 audio track.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Only two extras on this disc: a trailer and an alternate ending which was far weaker and had some real ham-fisted dialogue.

Score: **





Justice League Dark (2017) Review


One from the to watch pile…

Justice League Dark (2017)


Film:  As a teen I read any comic I could get my hands on, and that evolved into me pretty much exclusively reading only Marvel comics. I stopped reading comics in the beginning of the nineties as basically, well, they sucked.

I started reading comics again in the early 2000s. I started with Marvel but drifted to DC, and now read a bit of both. Even though Marvel have nailed down the movies with their cinematic Universe, DC seem to be struggling. The interesting thing though in their animated movies, which are released direct to bluray, are amazing.

The reason is quite simple: there is an assumption that the viewer knows who the heroes are and they don’t feel the need to retell and retell their origin story every time a new one comes out.

I’ve pretty much enjoyed most of them, though their have been a couple that have meandered a little; this is one of them.

Justice League Dark tells of the darker side of the DC universe: when a villain of magical proportions threatens the DC Universe, Batman employs the assistance of those from the darker side of the DCU, including John Constantine and Zatanna, who bring along other magical beings such as Etrigan the Demon, Swamp Thing, Deadman and all the magical powers of the House of Mystery and Black Orchid.


The problem with this story is it’s just not entertaining. The whole thing felt quite flat and dull, and at times I was struggling to maintain any sense of interest. Batman’s inclusion is strictly as lip service to the DCU and even he comes off like he feels like he shouldn’t be there.

That’s not to say the character design and the animation is great, because the film looks fantastic, and I’m really enjoying the character design in these animated features.


Several of the voices will sound familiar as Matt Ryan, who plays the live action TV show Constantine, plays him here too! Zatanna is portrayed by Lara Croft (the video game) actress Camille Luddington and Jason O’ Mara returns as Batman. Most of the voice acting is pretty cool except for one glaringly awful choice which is Nicolas Tutturro as Deadman. I always expected Boston Brand to have an other-worldly voice, not that of an annoying stand-up New Yorker.

Unfortunately this was a big miss for me, but I do hope the JLD return for another adventure, maybe just with a better thought out story, and without the yoke of Batman following them around like a lost dog.

Score: **


Format:  This Australian region B bluray release of Justice League Dark runs for 75 minutes and is presented in an excellent 1.78:1 image with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track of similar quality.

Score: *****

Extras: This disc opens with a trailer for Wonder Woman (the live action one with Gal Gadot) before taking us to the menu screen.

As always with these DC animated films, we are treated to a look at the next film to be released, in this case it being Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. I love the Teen Titans so I for one can’t wait!

The Story of the Swamp Thing looks at the genesis of Len Wein’s creation of Swamp Thing, a DC muck creature created in the 70s who became a staple of DC’s Vertigo line in the 80s and beyond. This has interviews with Wein, artist Kelly Jones, writer Mike Carlin and others and is one of my favourite docos of this type on these discs. Still a shame Alan Moore wouldn’t make any sort of commentary on the character.

Did You Know? is broken into 4 mini docos ‘Constantine Origin’, ‘The Color of Magic’, ‘Black Orchid’ and ‘Deadman Casting’. These are just 30 to 60 second vignettes talking about various aspects of the movie and it’s characters. Interestingly, the casting of Deadman is talkied up when in fact I think his vocal casting was the worst.

Justice League Dark at the New York Comic Con 2016 sees the creators and cast of the film talking about the film. It’s a pretty interesting look at the challenges of making the continuity of these new ‘animated universe’ features. It ends with a pretty good Q and A session too.

There are two other ‘sneak peeks’ for previous releases of Justice League: Doom and Justice League: Gods and Monsters, as well as episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold guest starring Deadman and The Demon.

There is also trailers for the DC All Access App and Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.

Score: *****

WISIA: Whilst it’s not my favourite one of these DC animated features, I’ll probably watch it again just because of Jack Kirby’s Demon making an appearance.




Overview: Stranger Things


After a hiccup start, I finally got around to watching the full first season of hit TV show Stranger Things. For those not in the know, Stranger Things is a heavily 80s-inspired Netflix Original TV show which tells of a missing boy, a psychic girl with a mysterious past, and governmental research into other dimensions, and the effects these three things have on a lazy small town in America.

I need to address a few things first. The first thing is this is not a review, but more just a casual thoughts on the show, though I will give a score of what I thought of it at the end just to reflect my overall opinion of it.

The second thing is I have to admit there is a reason why its taken me so long to watch this series: I watched episodes 1 and 2 when they first came out and honestly, they didn’t grab me in the slightest. I had been told by all and sundry that this show would definitely appeal to me as it was like a love letter to all my favourite 80s films… which, let’s face it, are everyone’s favourite 80s film.

I would even go so far as to say I was an active detractor of it.


Due to the fact a whole bunch of my friends are huge fans of it, I decided to give it another go. The one thing that annoyed me through my detracting comments of it, most people’s response was the same: wait til the third episode where it ramps up and becomes really interesting.

I hate this comment with a passion, and I hear it from people about Game of Thrones too, another show which I’d apparently love if I gave it a proper go. The thing is though, I’m a movie watcher, and if someone said to me that a film gets good in the last hour, I may not have the drive to sit through two hours of boredom for an exciting third act.


This time though I gave it the opportunity to get better, and it did! Do I think it was good TV? Yes! Do I think it was innovative? No.

To clarify this comment, I’ll compare the series to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Rowling is a genius not so much in the story she told, but with her capacity for taking traditional European fantasy and mythological tropes and compressing them into a story that creates a universe that is not only new, but just familiar enough for our current need for stagnant nostalgia to be satiated.

Stranger Things’ makers have done a similar thing, but with the languages and tropes of eighties cinema, and by setting it in the 80s really nailing the filmic amalgamation home. As I watched I received so many flavours of the 80s like Flight of the Navigator, Invaders From Mars, almost everything from Spielberg and Stand By Me… actually, heaps of visuals and thematic similarities were similar to SBM.

I’m not saying the distilling of these things is a bad thing, I just think one can’t necessarily always detach themselves from the obvious influences… especially when one of the young female leads is a pretty good looky-likey for Mia Kirshner from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!

On the subject of the cast, I was impressed with the kids playing the leads. They were great in their roles and at no point entered the realm of ‘annoying kids on TV’ syndrome. Particularly great was Millie Bobby Brown, who portrayal the pain of her characters abilities with a spectacular subtlety that even a more mature performer might struggle with. The other performance highlight was that of Sherriff Hopper by David Harbour: at first it appeared his character was going to be a cookie cutter small town cop character but he became endearing and an amazing character.

Then there’s Winona Ryder playing what could be Winona Ryder, but I love her and her insanity all the same.

One thing I did unabashedly love about this TV show was the synth soundtrack by Kyle Dixon, with a few pop songs here and there from the era. I love synth anyway, so this played straight into my affections… actually I grabbed the vinyl as soon as I could after my initial watch as it was the only thing I really liked about the show.

So a second season has been announced, but am I excited by it? Not really, but I’ll definitely give it a chance as I enjoyed this enough to give it a proper go. Will I actively pursue it if it is difficult to see? No. I’m not going to cry if I don’t see it.

Score: ***


Spider Baby (1967)

One from the re watch pile…
Spider Baby (1964)

Spider Baby DVD cover

Film: Jack Hill has made some pretty damn amazing films in his career, film that people talk about with a fondness reserved normally for cats and chocolate. He wrote and directed films that are synonymous with sub-genres of film. Film like Coffey and Foxy Brown which whilst are not the first are certainly prime examples of blaxploitation, and The Big Bird House and The Big Bird Cage which again, weren’t the first Women In Prison films, but certainly nailed the definition… totally tongue-in-cheek too, I might add.

Here, though, with Spider Baby, Hill ascends any genre definition and creates a film that looks like a 1940s comedy, but acts like a… I don’t even know what to describe it as. It’s madness incarnate. It’s a quaint look at unconditional love. It’s a horrible look at genetic faults. It’s ridiculous. 

Spider Baby tells of the tragedy of the Merrye family, who suffer with a genetic affliction that is particular to their family, which it why it has the name ‘ Merrye Syndrome’. It is a disorder which effects the mind, making the victims slowly regress, after reaching a particular age, to an almost primal state.

The last three children of Titus Merrye, Elizabeth (Beverley Washburn), Virginia (Jill Banner) and Ralph (Sid Haig) are cared for by beloved chauffeur, Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.) but cousins of Titus, Peter (Quinn Redeker) and his sister Emily (Carol Ohmart) turn up at short notice with their lawyer, Mr. Schlocker (Karl Schanzer) to try and lay claim to all Titus’ property… but what they don’t know is the three children have irresistible murderous intentions, and not just bodies are hidden in the basement of their house…

Spider Baby: Beverly Washburn and Jill Banner

The performances are the best thing about this film, which also has a surprising cast: legend from Universal films like The Wolfman, Chaney Jr as the kindly old doomed chauffeur chews his dialogue like it’s the most important film he’s ever made, and his career at Universal is mentioned as a wink to the audience too. House on Haunted Hill’s Carol Ohmart is the epitome of sexy mean girl here and provides just enough eye candy to remind you she was once one of Marilyn Monroe’s contemporaries. The real surprise though is the appearance of comedy actor Mantan Moreland from King of the Zombies, as the telegram deliverer who’s fear-filled appearance could have influences Shaggy from Scooby-Doo.

Spider Baby: Lon Chaney Jr as Bruno

Speaking of Universal films, Hill’s cinematography is influenced by them but has a few quirks that give it a look that takes that familiarity and alienates it, like the entire idea of the film with its odd-family set up.

The problem with this film though is in two areas. One is how queer it is paced, and the language of film seems to be abandoned so there doesn’t seem to be any great escalated peak, but instead it just simmers. The other thing is it seems to take a serious subject of inbreeding and disease and tries to make it amusing not with a clever script but instead with crazy, comedy styled parodies of horror film tropes.

As far as the history of cinema is concerned this film deserves a look at just for the place it sits in the evolution of backwards horror, it just doesn’t sit properly as entertainment. See it once for the performances of former greats.

Score: **

Spider Baby DVD menu screen

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Dark Sky Films U.S. release on DVD. This film was presented in a pretty nice 1.66:1 black and white image with a clean 2.0 audio track. 

Score: ***

Extras: There’s a cool bunch of extras on this disc.

The Hatching of Spider Baby is a cool look at the making of the film with comments by Joe Dante, Jack Hill, Karl Schanzer, Sid Haig, Alfred Taylor, Mary Mitchel, Quinn Redeker and Beverly Washburn, and has some great recollections from the cast and crew.

Spider Stravinsky: The Cinema Sounds of Ronald Stein really speaks to me as I love my horror movie scores. This looks at the career of Stein and is a touching tribute to his work.

The Merrye House revisited sees Jack Hill return to the house used in Spider Baby to reflect on the filming there.

There’s a still gallery which is something that always annoys me, and it does so here, though some of the pics of the leading ladies are nice.

There’s an alternate title sequence and an extended scene which are nice for completion’s sake.

There is also a commentary by Hill and Haig which is informative and kind of endearing.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s quaint and amusing, but won’t be on high circulation on your Rewatch list.

Spider Baby: spider adult.


Galaxy of Terror (1981) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Galaxy of Terror DVD cover

Film: Talking about American cinema? Well at sometime you are talking about Roger Corman: writer, director, producer, actor… is there ANYTHING he can’t do? Not only has he many many credits to his name, he has also discovered SO many talents, such as Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese… honestly, that’s another ridiculous list one could write that would fill a book.

Roger Corman is the physical embodiment of every horror fans dream come true.

Several years ago, Shout Factory paid tribute to Mr Corman with a cool set of DVDs under the banner ‘Roger Corman’s Cult Classics’ and so such a tribute should be made’ in actual fact, I wish someone would get off their butt and do a ‘Corman Definitive Collection’ and remaster ALL his films onto Bluray. Who wouldn’t love a collection that feature such diversity as Death Race 2000, Humanoids from the Deep, Mask of the Red Death and Little Shop of Horrors in it?

This film, Galaxy of Terror tells the crew of the space ship ‘Quest’ who travel to a planet called Morganthus to find out what happened to the missing crew of the ship ‘Remus’. When they get there, they discover the entire crew is dead, but not only that, something seems to be stalking them too… something that comes from their nightmares…

Galaxy of Terror: Ray Walston... my favourite!
The first real stand out for this film in the cast: Zalman King from Blue Sunshine, Erin Moran from Happy Days, Ray Walston from My Favourite Martian, Sid Haig from Spider Baby, and of course, the man who three years later would become Freddy Krueger, Robert England.

It’s proper old school cinema as well, with heaps of stop motion, matte paintings, practical gore… even the post-filming effects look ever so slightly better than 70s television! Hilariously though, the sound effects are straight out of some Effect bank somewhere, probably the same on Hanna Barbera or Filmation used for their Saturday cartoon set. I almost expected, at times, for a Batman ’66 ‘BAM’ or ‘THWACK’.

Galaxy of Terror: Erin Moran… they weren’t ALL happy days!

It’s not the greatest story in the world, and you can see both its influences from Alien, that were then passed onto Aliens (possibly due to James Cameron’s involvement) but it is a fine way to spend 80 odd minutes, and any film with a giant maggot rape surely is a must watch!!

Score: ***1/2

Galaxy of Terror DVD menu screen

Format: This review was performed of the Shout Factory, region 1/ NTSC DVD which runs for about 81 minutes. The image is a decent anamorphic widescreen with a matching Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Heap of extras in this disc!

Tales from the Lumber Yard: The Making Galaxy of Terror is a six-part documentary exploring Roger Corman, New World Pictures and the making of this film. It’s pretty thorough and has some great interviews with cast and crew, some of whom have some interesting anecdotes about James Cameron.

There is a huge collection of stills galleries, which I normally hate, but a lot of the pictures are posters and promo material, background matte painting plates and storyboard stuff, so I’ll let it slide.

The script is also available as a PDF ( not reviewed ).

There is four trailers, for this film, Humanoids from the Deep, Piranha and Forbidden World.

There is also a commentary with Dave DeCoteu moderating discussions about the film with cast and crew members including Taaffe O’Connell, Alex Gillis and Allan Apone. It’s an entertaining commentary for sure, with heaps of memeories about the set.

Score: ****1/2

WISIA: It’s Corman scifi, which means a bit of gore, a bit of nudity and a lot of fun: of course it’s a rewatcher!

Galaxy of Terror: what a nightmare!