In addition to the summer blockbuster releases bombarding our senses at the moment, the home viewing doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. I don’t hit the the theatres nearly as often as I’d like, so Blu-rays seem to be my savior in a lot of instances. Let’s take a look at a few that are recently out or on their way out that I’ve recently encountered…
The ABCs of Death (Magnet Releasing)-26 directors, 26 letters, 26 ways to die…a horror fan is going to jump on this concept immediately, right? Well, as we all saw over the last several months (which included the marketing campaign and festival run) this movie was on the top of a lot fans must-see list. In fact, we covered this movie pretty extensively on its journey. It’s a pretty exciting concept. Between this and the V/H/S franchise, it opens the door for filmmakers to explore the short film format and ALSO gives some very fresh minds a chance to present (so to speak). With all of that in mind, The ABCs of Death was being welcomed with open arms.
Where things go a bit off course is in the film’s perception. If you’re expecting 26 super horrific short films, stop. You aren’t going to get that. These vignettes range from traditional to ridiculous to surreal. It has moments where the movie lags and loses you, but everyone will find at least 1 or 2 of these entertaining. Some of the directors who were well known turned out recognizable but entertaining work (Jason Eisner) but a lot of these names were unknowns. So, in that regard, this movie did what it set out to do. The one exception (for me) was Ti West’s piece which I was hoping for more from. Same with his V/H/S entry. I’m thinking he’s best in feature format. The highlights for me were F, L, Y, and Z. L is the show stealer. That in feature length would be a grade A mindfuck. The movie clocks in at 130 minutes, so strap in for a longer than usual outing. If you have been longing for a chance to see this, then I encourage you to do so. Don’t expect to have your life changed (nor your attention span held the entire time, perhaps!) but expect some chuckles out of The ABC’s of Death. *Currently available at several retailers.*
The Lords of Salem (Anchor Bay Ent.)-Rob Zombie. Who’d of thought that the dude from White Zombie would become one of the most polarizing names in modern horror? It’s not without reason. House of 1000 Corpses was a dirty little secret that when finally revealed puzzled a lot of unsuspecting folks. It’s a gonzo cartoonish horror film that owes as much to Looney Tunes as it does Texas Chainsaw Massacre. HO1C DID do one thing for certain, though…it made people stop and look at Rob Zombie as a director and not just a shock rocker. His follow-up, The Devil’s Rejects, ended up being a bitchin’ movie full of Westernesque bravado and exploitation nihilism. At it’s core, Rejects is a road crime film with an explosive level of violence heavily peppered with overacting. It’s a good time. But then, it happened. The Halloween films. It’s not so much about being a remake. Everything gets remade eventually. It was the forced dialogue and flat out dumb back story. To his credit, he did things he wanted to do with the property, but the end result felt quite forced and unnatural to say the least. That brings us to Lords of Salem.
I like The Lords of Salem. A lot. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s all heavily derivative of Ken Russell, Roman Polanski, Lucio Fulci and their dealings with the Devil. It doesn’t blast the doors down and scream “FUCK!”. Instead, it develops character and story in a (basically) balanced manner. When the shit does hit the fan, Zombie was able to whisk you away to a surreal world that isn’t to be fucked with. He did a bitchin’ job with visuals. The casting was typical of Rob Zombie, BUT, I’ve grown to respect the fact that the man makes what he wants to make and isn’t worried about catering to horror fans any longer. It was able to shine through in The Lords of Salem. If you didn’t catch this in theatres, make sure you snag it on Blu. Currently, the film is slated for a July release on disc.*
Dark Skies (Anchor Bay Ent.)-Remember this one?! Neither did I! Well, let me rephrase that; I sort of kinda remember this having a theatre run…briefly. Maybe. Regardless of my memory being jogged or not, I went into Dark Skies with ZERO expectation/hope. I’ve gotten used to seeing the phrase “From The Producers of Insidious & Paranormal Activity” and getting little in return aside from a forgettable movie. Presumably, Dark Skies would be the same thing.
Turns out, Dark Skies isn’t nearly the shit storm I’d anticipated. I’m always on the lookout for horror films that my son can watch and Dark Skies falls into that category. Obviously, it’s not the slightest bit aggressive and I’m not necessarily proclaiming that anyone reading this will actually like it. But for some reason, whether it was the casting of Keri Russell (I like her. She just seems nice.) or the fact that I liked the kids that were cast as her sons, I just sort of fell for this movie. Finding out it wasn’t a possession movie was a bonus so that instantly changed my mood. It’s too long, there are enough action beats to keep you in the story, and it is something you could watch with a wide base of people who’d all find something intriguing to latch on to. If you have kids who like horror but aren’t quite at the Cannibal Holocaust viewing age just yet, Dark Skies is a great choice. It’ll be a good sleepover choice and has a very classic storytelling method that may surprise you in spite of the shitty marketing that (I’m guessing) may have damaged its box office. *Dark Skies lands on disc May 28th.*
Tags: Anchor Bay Entertainment, Blood, Blu-Ray, Horror, jason eisner, Ken Russell, keri russell, Lucio Fulci, Magnet Releasing, Rob Zombie, Roman Polanski, the abcs of death, The Blood Sprayer, The Lords of Salem, Ti West