April 2009 Horror DVD and Blu-ray List.


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April 7th

I was hoping this new release of DOG SOLDIERS would make me finally own a Neil Marshal film as I’m a sucker for ‘Steelbook Packaging’, but I’ll hold out for the Blu-ray in May.  Also coming from England is Magnet Releasing’s DVD drop of DONKEY PUNCH.  Despite getting a lot of coverage on genre sites, including yet another mention right this second, DONKEY PUNCH is not a horror movie by any stretch.  It may even be a farther stretch to say it is a good movie.  It stretches thin before long, but, hey, how can you not talk about a movie about conflict on a yacht after a girl is accidentally killed by the titular sex act?

My most anticipated title of the week is VINYAN from THE ORDEAL (review) director Fabrice Du Welz.  VINYAN received mixed reviews across outlets, but that’s not enough to hold me back from it.  THE ORDEAL was, understandably, a divisive film itself, though hopefully I’ll once again land in Du Welz’s corner.

Rounding out the month are several straight-to-DVD titles I know nothing of: DISTURBED, HOUSE, BLED, DARK SECRETS, and THE DEATH FACTORY BLOODLETTING (Holy Trying Title, Batman!).

Only Blu this week is FINAL DESTINATION.  Considering my original DVD of the franchise starter went AWOL years ago, I may just pick this up.


April 14th

Ah, a spacer week.  SPLINTER (review) could have been a magnificent Indie, instead I find it a frustrating watch.  It has great energy and a nice hook, but it has fallen victim to the unfortunate mindset that shaky cam is scary – and SPLINTER takes shaky cam to whole new levels at nearly every moment that it should be rock steady.  Enough people love the flick, though, that you may want to consider it a rental.  It is also the only horror title this week out on Blu.

A trio of late ’80s flicks gang together this week under the banner of ‘The Lost Collection’; MY BEST FRIEND’S A VAMPIRE, REPOSSESSED, SLAUGHTER HIGH.  Also out is SUMMER SCHOOL, which is not a remake of the 1987 flick starring cinema’s greatest Leatherface fans which I taped off HBO as a kid and watched obsessively and that would have fit in perfectly with this Lost Collection business.

Ending out the week is THE TELLING, which stars a bunch of Playboy models and will be exactly what you expect: nice cleavage, terrible acting.


April 21st

LAID TO REST scored the Fangoria cover recently, which is either a quality endorsement or a sign that Fango had nothing better in the publicity stills department.  Whatever the case, it’s one of the more interesting titles of the month.  Hopefully buzz proves true and LAID TO REST is more than a low-budget slasher.

The most interesting title of April, however, is J. T. Petty’s THE BURROWERS.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this period piece horror most easily reduced to TREMORS as a Western.  Nevermind that TREMORS 4 was, well, TREMORS as a Western.  I’ll be putting in my pre-order once I finish this list.

Filling out the straight-to-DVDs of the week is SAM’S LAKE followed by the 70′s flick I DISMEMBER MAMA, neither of which I know anything about.  I have, however, seen GHOST TRAIN.  Not this R1 US release, mind you, but the original Japanese film is nothing special.

Filling out the catalog reissues is a sweet looking HELLRAISER box set.  I wish the whole package was available on Blu, but it looks like only the first will be.  Also on Blu-ray is THE ARRIVAL, a strictly mediocre movie that I loved as a kid.  May pick it up out of pure nostalgia.

Oh, and for the BSG fans out there willing to give it a shot, the pilot for CAPRICA is out on DVD this week as well.  I was a huge BSG fan (still am even after the lackluster finale), but I’m rather indifferent to the prospect of this new series.  Thanks to a generous friend, though, I actually have this DVD sitting on my desk right now.  I might give it a watch this week and report back if people are interested.  The series itself won’t even air until next year, I believe, so there isn’t exactly a rush to get through it.


April 28th

Huh, just noticed it took four weeks for us to get the only major studio horror title of April; the DVD and BRD release of THE UNINVITED.  I missed this in theaters.  Well, missed it in so much as I never bothered to see it.  I’ll review it on Blu, though.  The original TALE OF TWO SISTERS was, despite being a logic mess, was incredibly effective.  Unfortunately we all know how the studio system works.

It is this very system that helps forecast why S. DARKO won’t be anything to get worked up over.  Someone has to make money off of DONNIE DARKO, though, and this is the result.  To be honest I don’t even know if this is a sequel or a prequel and I don’t care enough to look it up. As Goss points out, S. DARKO was bumped to May.

Plenty has been said of MARTYRS so I merely point you once again to my review.

Unknown quantities of the week: THE SHE-BEAST, THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS, PSYCHOS IN LOVE, ONE EYED MONSTER (Uh, Ron Jeremy and Amber Benson?).  Rounding out the month is WHILE SHE WAS OUT, a solid dame-in-distress flick definitely worth checking out from the library.

Oh, and JCVD comes out as well.  Obviously not horror, but I feel like if you’re the kind of person who reads this site, so you’ve probably heard tale of JVCD elsewhere.  I wish it had a more vibrant color palette, but that may be my biggest complaint.  Definitely worth a looksee, would make a terrific double bill with THE WRESTLER (out April 21).

JCVD and THE UNINVITED are also the only two genre friendly Blu-rays of the week.


Netflixing The Month:

  1. THE BURROWERS
  2. VINYAN
  3. LAID TO REST
  4. SLAUGHTER HIGH
  5. THE UNINVITED
  6. WHILE SHE WAS OUT
  7. MARTYRS
  8. SPLINTER

Review: MARTYRS


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Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier, 2008

Watching MARTYRS is like staring into a blast furnace.  Pascal Laugier’s film is a smoldering cell of anger and heat and hate and marvel.  It’s difficult to watch head on and downright painful to endure over time.  To be honest the experience is one I hesitate to recommend.  However, one must be impressed by the effect of it, impressed by its ability to inflict such engineered torment, impressed that the film can survive its own extreme internal pressures.  Laugier’s is an escalation game, vying not to push past boundaries, rather to set up residence on the border itself.  The squirming endurance comes not from how far past the line his content brings the viewer, instead how long Laugier can chain a viewer to the line.

I’d find it a stretch to refer to MARTYRS as entertaining or any derivative there of.  Intriguing is the word.  Films like this urge me to explain HND’s somewhat arbitrary rating system.  I’ve always opted for the A to F grading system all once students in the US should be familiar with.  I’ve never felt that all films adhere to an ordinal ranking system of identical criteria transferable to a number.  I do, however, think that one can surmise what the proverbial assignment was when watching a film.  Any objective person should be able to gleam what a filmmaker was going for.  The A-F grading schema operates on this assumption, which should help explain why I consider both LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and NIGHT OF THE COMET A grade material.  I’ve no idea whether many pay attention to these grades, I preface this only to account for why MARTYRS lands in the blood red B+ range while simultaneously hesitating on a recommendation to even the most iron willed icehearted horror hounds out there.

I’d also like to issue one final qualifier before heading into the review proper.  I do so in a hope to stem the hype MARTYRS gained on the festival circuit last year.  I’ve no doubt that many walked out of screenings or that Pascal Laugier gave one or two humble folk such a gut punch they vomited in the isles.  Just know that far worse footage exists out there.  What makes MARTYRS so brutal is not the extreme makeup but its commitment to never provide a glimpse of salvation.  What makes MARTYRS so disturbing is how casual Laugier is about beating the spirit out of his two lead females.  These are not heroine’s overcoming an ordeal.  These are two complete strangers who got dealt a shit hand, a hand feverish with psychosis.

MARTYRS is the pressure point to INSIDE’s sledgehammer.  Anyone reading this site can stomach the sights within this controversial French film, sights of deep self mutilation and cruel devices.  Understandably not all of us can nor should stomach the sight of a woman repeatedly being stomped like a bass drum, a repetitious segment of the film that takes up nearly the entire final third of the run time.  In its defense, however, there is a method to the film’s rage.  It stokes the fire, each vignette of pain notching the temperature that much higher until the furnace is full blast, our faces invisibly red with the burn.

Horror 2008, a Retrospective: Part 2, April to June


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Not much to say other than enjoy Part Two of Horror’s Not Dead’s 2008 Retrospective, Festivus celebrating extravaganza.

Oh, and Happy Kwanzaa.

Part 1: January to March.
Part 2: April to June.
Part 3: July to September.
Part 4: October to December.
Part 5: Events.
Part 6: Awards. (coming)

Last Week in Horror, October 12th to the 19th


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