Blu-Ray Review- Patrick
Distributor: Severin Films
Street Date: March 25th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Color, 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Runtime: 96 Minutes
The subject of telekinesis has been tackled in many fine Horror films throughout the years. From The Power to Carrie, The Fury to Scanners, and many more entertaining stories put on celluloid, the ability itself has led to both fascinating and terrifying fantasies.
In 1978, Director Richard Franklin directed Patrick, a startling slow-build tale of a disturbed young man, hospitalized and seemingly comatose after the vicious death of his mother years earlier. His weekly habits include staring off into nothingness, playing guinea pig to creepy Dr. Roget’s little experiments, as well as putting on the occasional telekinetic magic show for Nurse Kathie (Susan Penhaligon).
Frustrated with his condition, treatment, and inability to communicate in traditional terms, Patrick uses his powers and blooming relationship with Nurse Kathie in one last desperate attempt to stop the madness that surrounds him. Whether telekinetically leaving messages on a typewriter, smashing objects around his hospital room, or eventually killing off the wicked staff (let’s be honest they had it coming), Patrick’s misery is finally experienced by all.
I truly enjoyed revisiting this quaint low budget shocker from the late Richard Franklin. Patrick is an effective psychological thriller with confident performances from the cast, assured direction from Franklin, and a few light scares. This is not a gory or graphic piece, and the overlong movie certainly could have benefited from some editing, but those are minor complaints in an otherwise fun horror treat.
Severin should be proud of their work here. Sourced from the original camera negative and scanned in 2K resolution, there is no doubt that Patrick looks incredible in High Definition. The picture is very clean with only the occasional speck or spot, which must be inherent to the negative itself. The work they put into color-timing is obvious. Skin tones look authentic, clothing and colors look natural and accurate to the period, and black levels are inky and well maintained. Grain levels remain authentic to the late 70’s film stock source material, and digital noise reduction never rears its ugly head. If only every distributor put as much time and care into restoring cult classics like Severin Films does. Fans will be very pleased.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track won’t knock your socks off, but it suits the period of the film and supports dialogue and sound effects well enough. I always make sure to note while watching a disc if there are any inconsistencies in balance or stability, and luckily Patrick fares very well on this release from Severin. A small part of me would have liked to hear the eerie score on more channels, but fans of the film will not complain.
Here we have a wealth of bonus material from Severin Films, who have graciously included several interesting special features. I’ll give you a brief rundown of each:
- Audio Commentary with Director Richard Franklin– This commentary from the late Richard Franklin covers all bases and is absolutely worth listening to for fans of the film. Franklin discusses nearly all aspects of the film from concept to production, on-set memories and writing, and even his influence from Alfred Hitchcock that he sprinkled throughout Patrick. Some commentaries can be dry and uninvolving with long periods of quiet, so hearing Franklin talk consistently and so in-depth about his movie was a nice change of pace on this release.
- Extended Interviews– This bonus segment features fifty minutes of clips from the cast and crew involved in the making-of Patrick, with roughly ten minutes of interview material from each participant. The interviews included herein are excerpts from Mark Hartley’s documentary Not Quite Hollywood from 2008. Highlights include actress Susan Penhaligon discussing her excitement of flying to Australia to film Patrick, and Richard Franklin and Penhaligon offering their perspective on how the film differs from other Horror studio films at the time (Hammer namely). We also hear from actor Rod Mullinar, writer Everett DeRoche, and producer Antony I. Ginnane. Each segment is fairly in-depth, but if you already listened to the commentary at this point, may be a little repetitive.
- Vintage TV Interview with Director Richard Franklin– Though it’s listed at 25 minutes, this vintage Australian interview/featurette on Richard Franklin’s early career is actually closer to 21 minutes. Discussion points include everything from Patrick, to Roadgames with Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis (please release a Blu-Ray of this film soon), how Franklin studied film in America and was heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, his return to Australia to direct Homicide (1971), co-producing The Blue Lagoon, and much more. Shot on video, it’s in rough shape but gets the point across.
- Original Theatrical Trailer– A retro trailer for Patrick with the perfect voice-over narration. Complete with scratches and pops, it’s always fun to see how a film was marketed at the time of release.
- TV Spots– Several creepy television spots that aired during the theatrical campaign.
As you can see from the pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition features some very creepy disc art. Unfortunately we were not able to get out hands on the final Blu-Ray case with art, but pictures of the slip sheet are included here as well for those interested.
Patrick holds up after all these years. It’s a creepy entry in the telekinetic horror genre, with great performances from the cast, assured direction from the late Richard Franklin, and an insanely creepy score from Brian May. The love and dedication from Severin Films’ on this new Blu-Ray edition is evident, with a fantastic transfer and bonus material, the company has added another gem to their respectable release catalog. This edition comes highly recommended.
Doctor Macabre M.D.
Blu-Ray Review- The Monster Squad
Distributor: Olive Films
Street Date: February 19th 2013
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Color, 2.36:1 Aspect Ratio
Runtime: 82 Minutes
As a child, my Father would hook up the old Betamax player to our small kitchen television, put it on a rolling cart, and set it just outside the front door for Trick or Treaters on Halloween night. The extension cord would strain so much that it came close to snapping around the door frame, but this was important to him. I wouldn’t call my Dad a big Horror fan, but he grew up on a specific set of Horror films that were very dear to him: the Universal Monster classics. Lugosi’s Dracula, Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man, Karloff’s monster, these were the films that spawned a genre and terrified the baby boomers for years to come. Though as an adult I grew very fond of the Hammer Horror series as well, the Universal Monsters will always hold a special place in my heart. When I “got too old” for Trick-or-treating, I took over for my Father and wheeled out the old Betamax cart, often becoming so entranced by the movies themselves that I would just hold the candy bowl with an outstretched arm for the kiddies to grab what they may.
In 1987, Shane Black and Fred Dekker wrote and directed a film that paid enormous homage to the Universal Classics from my childhood: The Monster Squad. Released to theaters as some sort of hybrid between Stand By Me and The Goonies, it failed to gain momentum at the box office. The good news is that the film quickly turned into a VHS favorite among Horror fans, and has gone on to become a minor cult classic.
In The Monster Squad, Sean and his friends are middle-school misfits who idolize the classic movie monsters, hold secret meetings in their tree fort, and bond over absent fathers and bullies. Sean’s Dad is a local Police Detective, and his younger sister Phoebe is desperate to be a part of the treehouse gang. Our story is set in motion when Sean finds a treasure among pre-teen creature fanatics: the personal diary of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. The boys reach out to a local elderly man (dubbed the “scary German guy”) who translates the diary for them. In it, Van Helsing warns of a powerful amulet that maintains a balance between good and evil, but becomes vulnerable every hundred years. The boys soon find out that Dracula himself has conjured up nearly every creature imaginable to help him find the amulet including Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon (Gill-man), The Wolf Man, and The Mummy. Our young heroes set off on their journey to find the amulet before the monsters can take over the world. If their successful, they can use the amulet and the diary to open a portal and cast the monsters back from whence they came.
More than twenty-five years later, the film remains an absolute treat. There’s swearing kids, monsters, battles between good and evil, and even The Wolf Man getting kicked in his junk. It’s the kind of movie that is purely 80’s, and would never get made today. It’s also an odd genre mix, too scary and inappropriate for the little kids, and perhaps a bit too goofy for extreme Horror fans (there is little to no blood in this film). A product of its time and place, The Monster Squad remains a fun and creative venture in the genre, with especially great writing from Shane Black. Revisiting it once again reminded me of being twelve years old, wheeling that Betamax cart out on Halloween night, and letting my imagination run wild.
Despite the reservations I had going into this release lacking any bonus material (see below), the High Definition transfer actually bests the previous version on the Lionsgate release, but it’s not perfect by any means. The picture is very clean with no noticeable artifacts or blemishes on the transfer itself. Colors are intact, bright, and authentic. Black levels are a bit on the dull side, but it’s barely noticeable to the naked eye. Detail in makeup, costumes, and sets are very clear for a film that stems from late 80’s film stock. Grain levels remain authentic to the film source material, and digital noise is at a minimum.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is disappointing. While dialogue comes through clear, background noise and effects are unbalanced and seem to waver in and out. It’s especially concerning because the previous Lionsgate edition included a 5.1 Surround mix, which is undoubtedly more pleasing to the ears. I couldn’t pinpoint whether or not there was a legitimate error in the audio encode, but it sure could have been handled better for this release.
Zero. Zip. Nada. Not a single feature is carried over from the Lionsgate Anniversary edition, likely because of licensing issues, which is understandable. But with that being said, honestly? Not even a theatrical trailer or vintage featurette? A new commentary recorded for the release? A booklet featuring an essay on the making of the film? Unfortunately this is per the norm for Olive Films, whose transfers and audio mixes are anywhere from satisfactory to fantastic, but fail to provide any substantial bonus material on their releases, if any at all. If you were lucky enough to snag a copy of the Lionsgate release, you will find a wealth of bonus material worth perusing. Unfortunately this Olive Films release is completely bare bones, even the menu screen is about as basic as it gets.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition features some beautiful cover art, far eclipsing the art utilized on the Lionsgate release. Besides the nice disc art, there is a small pamphlet with pictures of other Blu-Ray titles from Olive Films such as Cujo, The Boogens, and The Quiet Man.
Though I adore the film, this Blu-Ray release from Olive Films leaves much to be desired for fans of this 80’s classic. Sporting an authentic and clean video transfer and newly commissioned cover art was a great start, but unfortunately you have to weigh in a disappointing audio mix and lack of bonus material as well. If you already own the previous Lionsgate Anniversary edition from 2009, consider yourself lucky. It is now out of print and selling for unreasonable prices from third party sellers. If you just came for the movie itself, it holds up after nearly 25 years, looks great, and is currently on sale at Best Buy for nearly ten dollars.
Doctor Macabre M.D.
Good afternoon creeps! Our March Blu-Ray Giveaway has begun. This month we will be giving away a brand new sealed copy of the Halloween: 35th Anniversary Digibook Edition from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. This digibook release is now out of print, and has been replaced at most retailers with a standard amaray Blu-Ray case. You may be asking: “So Doctor, how do I get a chance to win it?” All you have to do is head over to our Facebook page and give us a “like”, thereby keeping you up-to-date with all of the latest experiments at the Laboratory of Madness!
The winner will be selected at random on March 31st 2014 (10 days from today). We will announce the winner through a Facebook post (and update this column). The winner will then be contacted via Facebook to get the necessary details to send this beauty their way. Good luck!
“Like” Doctor Macabre’s Laboratory on Facebook for a chance to win: www.facebook.com/docmaclab
Good afternoon creeps! Doctor Macabre here, spreading the word on some possibly big savings on Scream! Factory titles during Shout! Factory’s March Madness sale! By clicking the link below, you’ll be prompted to enter your e-mail address (thereby signing up for Shout!’s monthly newsletter). You will then be automatically e-mailed a SPECIAL mystery code…..could be a % off discount, coupon, free shipping, who knows?!? Just think of the deals you could get on great Scream Factory Collector’s Editions like The Fog, Day of the Dead, The Howling, The Burning, etc. As a homegrown Minnesota lad, I’m fairly partial to Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well (the laboratory was relocated to Translyvania following the Halloween snow storm of ’91. No questions.). This deal runs March 18th-April 7th, and you can come back every day to try your shot at a new discount! Click the link for this spooky & spectacular discount offer.
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Blu-Ray Review- The Slumber Party Massacre
Distributor: Scream Factory
Street Date: March 18th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Runtime: 77 Minutes
In 1982, Amy Holden Jones made one of the most memorable Slasher films of the decade, The Slumber Party Massacre. She even turned down an offer to edit E.T. The Extra Terrestrial to do it, believe it or not. After filming a short segment of the script with her husband and some friends at her house one weekend, she gave the final product to famed Cult producer Roger Corman, who quickly offered her the job. It’s a bit ironic that in a seemingly male-dominated genre, a female director gave Horror fans exactly what they craved in 77 minutes: blood, guts, nudity, and plenty of humor. The film did well enough to warrant three sequels, but none of them have gone on to obtain the cult following of the original.
As the film begins, we meet High School basketball star Trisha (Michelle Micheals) as she plans a fun slumber party with her friends for the weekend while her parents are away. Meanwhile, mass murderer and escaped mental patient Russ Thorn (Michael Villella) has killed a telephone repair woman and taken her power drill. If only the poor girl would have taken that young man up on his offer for a date! Russ quickly hones in on the girls’ weekend plans.
What follows is exactly what you came for: voluptuous women in various states of undress, gouged-out eyeballs, power drilling through flesh, and even some late night swimming (not what you’re thinking). The script is corny yet smart, as it was originally intended as a parody of the burgeoning slasher drama, but filmed “straight” by Director Amy Holden Jones. The acting is exactly what you would expect from the genre, sub-par and cheesy, which just adds to the fun. Like the original Halloween (1978) and it’s “Babysitter Murders”, this was another great concept that turned out to be a cult success, albeit not as stylish as that Horror classic.
I had a fun time revisiting The Slumber Party Massacre, drill bits and all, and absolutely recommend it. Over twenty years later, it still holds up.
Working from a brand new 2K transfer from the original film negative, Scream Factory has put together a quality transfer that retains fine detail, authentic film grain, and nice color reproduction. There are moments toward the beginning and end of the film that feature slight print damage or pops that are likely inherent to the original negative source material. To be honest, it just adds to the nostalgia factor for movies like these. The second you have a perfectly beautiful print on your hands, is the same moment you should question if Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) has been overly applied, and luckily Scream Factory has kept things authentic. There are no signs of edge enhancement or manipulation to speak of. Scream Factory had a wonderful transfer to work with.
The DTS-HD Mono track adds a very authentic feel to the film. While it’s not going to wake the neighbors, the high-pitched drill revving, screams, blood drips, and gut splats all sound good in HD Mono. Dialogue comes through clear and clean. Well done!
As fans of the series know, Scream Factory previously released a DVD set of the first three Slumber Party Massacre films. This brand new Blu-Ray edition of the first film carries over the wonderful Sleepless Nights: The Making of the Slumber Party Massacre documentary and adds a commentary track and trailer to boot. The documentary, produced before the Scream Factory line of Shout! titles came to be, foreshadows the “above and beyond” attitude towards special features that Producer Cliff MacMillan and team have come to be known for. Not only do we get to hear from the original cast, crew, and fans on the documentary, but we also get a great commentary from the filmmakers. Both features add a lot to the experience and provide incredible insight for fans. The original theatrical trailer rounds things out on this great disc.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray Combo Pack comes with nice cover art featuring the original theatrical poster design for the film. This is the same art that was utilized for Shout’s previous release of the trilogy. Being that this isn’t one of their Collector’s Edition releases, there is no slipcover or reversible artwork included here. What you do get are some fun behind-the-scenes photos and artwork to complete the inner sleeve.
If you’re a genre fan like me, and this movie somehow evaded you during those late-night rental store odysseys of your childhood, you absolutely need to seek out Scream Factory’s new Blu-Ray edition. Available March 18th, fans of the series will appreciate the near-perfect video transfer, authentic mono track, and well-produced special features. Another great title to add to the Laboratory shelf!
Doctor Macabre M.D.
UK Distributors Arrow Video have finally released the 1985 cult-classic THE STUFF on Blu-Ray combo pack! Released on March 10th, the release comes with a brand new 2K High-Definition scan of the original camera negative, and is jam packed with bonus features. Special features include the “Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff” featurette, an all-new 52-minute documentary, an introduction and trailer commentary, and much more. A written review will soon follow, but in the meantime, check out the attached pictures of the brilliant artwork from “Ghoulish” Gary Pullin.