Blu-Ray Review- Ghost Town
Distributor: Scream Factory
Street Date: July 28th 2015
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Runtime: 85 Minutes
Empire Pictures and Charles Band’s 1988 production of Ghost Town contains too many laugh-out-loud “what the fuck am I watching?” moments to count. When bride-to-be Kate Barrett goes missing in a desert town (honestly…who keeps their wedding dress in the backseat of a top-down convertible in the desert?), the local Sheriff’s Deputy (Franc Luz) Langley is assigned to track her down. A rough sandstorm is the apparent cause, but we (the viewers) know that a ghastly western outlaw apparition on horseback has carried her off.
As Langley begins his search, the same outlaw apparition quickly decimates his vehicle, leaving him stranded and desperate in the scorching desert heat. Our hero stumbles across the barren landscape into an abandoned Old West town in his search to solve the mystery of Kate’s disappearance, but soon finds out, nothing is what it seems. The entire town’s inhabitants are dead, stuck in a limbo of sorts, waiting for the day when a legendary lawman will come to town and rid them of the ghostly outlaw that is keeping their souls hostage. Langley, by chance, just might be the lawman they’re looking for.
Ghost Town is a fairly enjoyable B-movie cheese-fest! The story is unintentionally silly, with less-than-stellar acting ability all around, exaggerated line delivery, and questionable editing choices. If it wasn’t for its lack of repeat-watch value, Ghost Town would almost qualify for the “so bad it’s good” stamp of approval. For those that enjoy bad movies, there is no denying that the film delivers the goods. I will say that the special effects aren’t half bad, with a few select gore shots and makeup details that are impressive given the obvious budget restraints. Do I recommend it? Sure. Ghost Town isn’t a terrible way to waste away a rainy afternoon, and cheesy movie fans will delight in the film’s unintentional comedy.
Scream Factory has given Ghost Town an incredibly solid transfer onto the Blu-Ray format! It’s almost too good given the film’s B-movie laugh-fest quality (joking of course). The print is very clean, free from defects, and offers up some beautiful natural film grain without any evidence of manipulation. The dusty ghost town exhibits a depth and lifelike quality in High Definition, and facial features and clothing material are captured in stunning clarity. There are a few scattered shots with artifacts, and a handful of scenes that exhibit a “jumpy” quality (likely a stabilization issue from the source), but Ghost Town overall looks fantastic on the format!
The 2.0 DTS-HD audio track is another fine aspect to this Blu-Ray release. Dialogue always comes through clean and clear, music and sound effects are rather dynamic for a mono track, and there are no hiccups or other distortions in sound throughout the experience. The cheesy score sounds especially great here!
There are no special features included on this Blu-Ray release for Ghost Town. For many of us, having the film on the High Definition format is a special treat in and of itself. Others may be disappointed with the lack of extras.
This Blu-Ray edition from Scream Factory features the original theatrical poster design for the film on its cover. I love the classic Western “pistols at dawn” pose paired with the menace of the skeleton cowboy. The artistic touches of the town’s buildings fading away and the skeleton’s shadow in the foreground are appreciated. On the reverse of the case you’ll find a plot synopsis, technical specifications, and select production stills from the film. Inside of the case is the Blu-Ray disc as well as some nice reversible artwork that fans can choose to display instead of the theatrical poster art.
Ghost Town is a fairly enjoyable B-movie cheese-fest! The story is unintentionally silly, with less-than-stellar acting ability all around, exaggerated line delivery, and questionable editing choices. If it wasn’t for its lack of repeat-watch value, Ghost Town would almost qualify for the “so bad it’s good” stamp of approval. For those that enjoy bad movies, there is no denying that the film delivers the goods. The Blu-Ray from Scream Factory boasts very impressive video and audio quality, making for an enjoyable home theater experience for Horror fans. The lack of special features may be disappointing for some, but most of us are satisfied enough to finally own a rare treat like this one on the High Definition format. Western Horror films are hard to come by, and though you have to be in the right mood to appreciate its B-movie charms, Ghost Town on Blu-Ray comes recommended.
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.