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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Vampire > Telekinesis > Slasher > Thriller > Supernatural > After Dark Originals & Ghost House Underground 2011 Releases (2011/Lionsgate DVD & Blu-ray including Stag Night and Psych 9)

After Dark Originals & Ghost House Underground 2011 Releases (2011/Lionsgate DVD & Blu-ray including Stag Night and Psych 9)


After Dark DVDs: Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Films: C


Ghost House Blu-rays: Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C

Psych 9: D     Stag Night: C+



There's always a slew of new horror content coming out from Lionsgate. Two of their largest suppliers on the home market have been Sam Raimi's Ghost House Underground and the annual releases from the After Dark Horrorfest.  While there isn't much to go on in distinguishing between the two brands, it is interesting to note that the folks at After Dark have remained committed to their format of 8 films a year, while Ghost House releases have dropped off a little more every time a new wave of titles hits.  This year their total output is a whopping two titles.  Here we'll be covering half of the After Dark Originals and the entire new output from the Ghost House Underground label.


Beginning with the After Dark films, first in line is Fertile Ground... standard haunted house happenings that feels like a low-rent Amityville Horror.  There are also some halfhearted attempts to swipe ideas from The Shining as well, but all of these stories have been stealing from one another for so long, it's hard to tell who's done it first.  Definitely on the weaker end of the entries this year.


Husk borrows heavily from the underrated '80s classic Scarecrows, but the filmmakers have gone to great lengths in taking a simple story and making it as convoluted as possible.  Mission accomplished, as I can't make heads or tails of this one.


Prowl sees a truckload of unaware teens being taken to a warehouse full of vampires like livestock to the market.  This one owes a lot to 30 Days of Night in some respects, and certain occurrences from that story have been re-purposed for use here.  In its defense, the material is still different enough that most viewers wouldn't make the connection; to be honest, it sort of feels as though it could take place within the same universe.


Seconds Apart is a modernized update of Village of the Damned, Children of the Damned, Carrie, etc., with the telekinetic antagonists being two quasi-creepy twins in their teens.  Much like the other After Dark films covered here, this movie is low on ideas from the start.  It feels as though the filmmakers tiredly strung together bits from similar movies and called it a night.  It never manages to scare or even interest, leaving the viewer unsatisfied and bored.


Under the Ghost House Underground banner we have two new films on Blu-ray. While the first of these movies, Psych 9, is an incredibly tedious, plodding mess (the less said about it, the better), Stag Night moves at a quicker pace and is halfway decent.  It is set in a maze of subway tunnels, littered with members of a cannibalistic tribe; it's passable entertainment, but still offers nothing new for even those with a passing interest in horror films.


Picture quality is decent, with color, lighting and staging being the main issues - to the point where almost all of these films give the appearance of being episodes of a TV show.  Aspect ratios are largely the same between the releases, with the predominant format being 1.78:1.  The only exceptions to this are Prowl and Psych 9, which both have an aspect ratio of 2.35:1.  All of these disc are anamorphically enhanced, and the Ghost House Blu-rays are in 1080p high definition.


Sound was good on the After Dark titles, which all had both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 Dolby surround sound mixes.  Slightly better were the mixes for the Ghost House Blu-rays, which are in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.


Extras are on each of the discs, but nothing too earth-shaking.  There are commentary tracks on Seconds Apart, Fertile Ground, Husk, and Prowl, while Husk, Prowl, Psych 9 and Stag Night have making-of documentaries.


One could say that there's nothing new under the sun... but why give up trying to find it?  For a genre that should offer no limits, there's been too much copying and imitation going on these past several years, and a sorely missed mindset of experimentation and boundary pushing.  Check these out only if you're content with seeing more of the same old thing.



-   David Milchick


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