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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Monster > Biography > Comedy > Zombie > Supernatural > Ghost > Serial Killer > Basket Case (1981/Something Weird Video/Image Blu-ray)/Lewis’ Blood Trilogy (Image Blu-ray)/Herschell Gordon Lewis: Godfather Of Gore (2010/Image DVD)Herschell Gordon Lewis/Born Of Earth (2008/E1 DVD)

Basket Case (1981/Something Weird Video/Image Blu-ray)/Lewis’ Blood Trilogy (Image Blu-ray)/Herschell Gordon Lewis: Godfather Of Gore (2010/Image DVD)Herschell Gordon Lewis/Born Of Earth (2008/E1 DVD)/Dead Alive (1992/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Mimic (1997/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Presence (2010/Lionsgate DVD)/Scream 4 (aka Scre4m/2011/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD + DVD)

 

Picture: B/B (Color) B- (Feast) B (Maniacs!)/C+/C/B-/C+/C/B- & C+    Sound: B-/C/C+/C+/B-/B/C+/B- & C+     Extras: C+/C+/B-/C-/C-/C/C-/D     Films: C+/C+/B-/C-/C/C/C-/D

 

 

 

Our next onslaught (sometimes literally) of Horror genre films includes key films surprisingly coming to Blu-ray already and some newer releases that would have been better left in the coffin.

 

 

Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case (1981) has always been a fan favorite and thanks to home video a consistently well known title to Horror fans, but many have never seen it and making matters worse, it turns out a good copy was never really issued.  We even saw a terrible DVD misframed at 1.85 X 1, but the film was shot in 16mm film and for the full 1.33 X 1 frame.  Turns out this is the only way to see it and it feels like the first time as Henelotter has turned to the original 16mm camera materials (they survived!) and has come up with a brand new High Definition transfer that finally shows what he intended.

 

That does not make this tale of a young man who carries his (murderous) brother around in a basket (I will not reveal the specifics of that story, but it is part of the madness of the story) but this turns out to be a much more competent B-movie that knows it is a B-movie shot in New York City and is one of those very rare times where I did not give a film enough credit in a previous review.  He made a better film than anyone had thought, derivative as it might be and certainly not a serious film in the genre.

 

Extras include new Director Introduction, two once rare radio spots, two theatrical trailers, TV spot, stills gallery, 2001 short going back to the hotel where the film was shot, rare outtakes & behind-the-scenes footage from the director’s private collection and a feature length audio commentary track by Director Henelotter, Producer Edgar Irvins and Actress Beverly Bonner.

 

 

Just as interesting a Blu-ray release is Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Trilogy which includes three of his classic gorefests in High Definition: Color Be Blood Red (1965), Blood Feast (1963) and Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) that all pushed the boundaries of bad taste, graphic violence, blood and guts long before it became tired, played out and commonplace.  Their thin plots are just excuses to see people (usually women) getting mutilated by a psycho killer, psycho killers or sick, mean-spirited people who do it as they think they can get away with torture and murder.  However, they are tame as compared to the later films that followed all the way to the torture porn cycle that is almost dead.  Still with a fan following, you can see how brutal they still can be, thanks simply in part to being filmed in older color film that HD shooting still cannot match for Video Red or the gory look it offers.

 

Extras include trailers for these and many other Lewis films, stills sections, rare outtakes, feature length audio commentary track by Lewis & Producer David F. Friedman, vintage Carving Magic! short, 1964 gore short Follow That Skirt!, and a trailer for…

 

 

Herschell Gordon Lewis: Godfather Of Gore (2010, which also includes the same trailer gallery and stills sections) includes many clips, interviews with Lewis, his son, Joe Bob Briggs, John Waters and many people involved with the films Lewis made back in the day.  At 106 minutes, it is limited by its title and though it offers a good overview of his gore work, that work is not examined closely enough and many of his non-gore films are ignored as we discover when we see the hour+ deleted scenes that reveal what an interesting filmmaker he was beyond one genre.  Too much was cut out of the main program.  Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter and Jimmy Maslon co-directed this documentary and another bonus extras Lewis short called Hot Night At The Go-Go Lounge! is also included.

 

 

Daniel Baldwin, James Russo and Brad Dourif waste their time and ours in Tommy Brunswick’s Herschell Gordon LewisBorn Of Earth (2008), a dull creature feature with an ancient group of “blood-thirsty creatures” unleashed (they somehow survived in the earth for centuries, we guess) but to no avail, point or end.  I was bored by the acting, script & predictability and you will be too.  There are no extras.

 

 

Now prestigious director Peter Jackson was once known for gross films (or films that happened to be gross) and his 1992 opus Dead Alive is a dark zombie comedy made in New Zealand about a young man whose annoying mother will not go away even in death thanks to a disease (which turns out to be communicable) that makes her a zombie.  Taking its cue from The Evil Dead among other films, this has some good locations and actors, but like all Jackson works, it goes overboard early and stays skied out for most of its screen time.  Some moments are clever, but they do not make for a good film, though this has its following and Jackson had directing talent even then.  A trailer is surprisingly the only extra despite this being its Blu-ray debut.

 

 

Guillermo Del Toro’s Mimic (1997) is also now out on Blu-ray about a killer creature that can transform into various creatures, but it and Blade II tend to be his blatantly most commercial works and the final result (even though this is a Director’s Cut and Unrated, making it a little more watchable) never worked for me, but it too has its following.  This was also part of Mira Sorvino’s move into genre works instead of serious “quality” filmmaking many expected her to take on, but she is not bad here along side Jeremy Northam, F. Murray Abraham, Josh Brolin and Charles S. Dutton, but I never bought this film’s narrative despite its ambitions and though people still talk about it, I found it not very memorable.

 

Extras include Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, del Toro video prologue, Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes, three making of featurettes, trailer, storyboards and a feature length audio commentary track by Director del Toro.  Fans will like all that.

 

 

Sorvino is still showing up in the genre as she recently did in Tom Provost’s The Presence (2010) which wants to be a different kind of serious ghost story, but just smudges and mixes up the same old clichés as she goes to a house that is inhabited by a male ghost she is unaware of but soon will be.  This could have been suspenseful and even scary, but is like The Ghost & Mrs. Muir on downers with limited dialogue.  Provost is confident, but not as good as he thinks he is in dealing with the genre, making some of this unintentionally funny.  Otherwise, it is a bore and your missing very little.  Extras include storyboards, a making of featurette and a feature length audio commentary track by Director Provost that is also unintentionally amusing.

 

 

Last and least is Wes Craven’s lamest work to date, the extremely unnecessary Scream 4 (aka Scre4m/2011), a goofy, belated, tired, awkward, even pathetic attempt to continue a franchise that has been dead for a while (not long enough for another installment, though) and brings back very bored and tired looking alumni from the earlier films: David Arquette, Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox all looking like they’d rather be somewhere else.

 

For those unfamiliar with the rise and fall of the previous films that gave a false boost to slasher films by ruining the whole Horror though cynical deconstruction, you can read about the trilogy on Blu-ray at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10932/The+Scream+Trilogy+(1996/1997/20

 

 

Who is the new Ghostface?  Who cares!  This is so bad that you would think you were watching the latest Scary Movie release, so played out and spoofed to death these films are.  Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin and Adam Brody are among the new actors here, but they are virtually ignored, which plays against the whole point of the assumed energy of the franchise.  This was awful and bombed for a reason.

 

Extras include Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, Gag Reel, Deleted & Extended Scenes, a making of featurette and a feature length audio commentary track by Director Craven and cast members Roberts, Panettiere and Campbell.

 

 

 

The 1080p digital High Definition image transfers on the Blu-rays are as good as can be expected for the most part, though the 1.33 X 1 on Basket Case is very impressive for its age and the fact that it was shot in 16mm film, but here it is better than almost any release on this list, including all the more recent titles.  What an impressive transfer job here.  The 1.78 X 1 image on the three Lewis films on Blu-ray are all impressive save Maniacs! which has an older print that really shows its age, but this is easily the best the others will likely ever look.  The 1.78 X 1 image on Dead Alive has some detail issues suggesting an older HD master, as does the 2.35 X 1 HD image on Mimic with worse results, but the 2.35 X 1 HD image on Scre4m was shot that way and is better at first but worse the larger the screen viewed.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD versions included and sold separately are worse.  The other anamorphically enhanced DVDs are all a bit soft framed at 1.78 X 1 save the 2.35 X 1 on Presence, but at least Godfather has an excuse as it is a documentary.

 

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Mimic is not always great, but it is the bets on this list and can be a mixed bag of dated fidelity and nice moments when the surrounds kick in.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Scre4m should be as good, but it is more dialogue-based at times and the soundfield is just not too consistent, though it is warmer than the Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD versions.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless mix on Dead Alive has some healthy Pro Logic type surrounds, leaving a decent PCM 2.0 Mono on Basket Case and poor PCM 2.0 Mono on the three Lewis films that need restoration work and are the weakest performers on the set even with the remaining 3 DVDs having simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo presentations that are on the weak side as well.  They are not as distorted or dated, with Presence trying and failing to make its 5.1 upgrade really work.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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