Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Demons > Possession > Murder > Haunted House > Cable TV > Monster > Creature > Kidna > American Horror Story: The Complete First Season (2011/Fox Blu-ray)/The Barrens (2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD)/Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991/Synapse Films DVD)/Chained (2011/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/D

American Horror Story: The Complete First Season (2011/Fox Blu-ray)/The Barrens (2012/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD)/Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991/Synapse Films DVD)/Chained (2011/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD)/Hypothermia (2011/Dark Sky Films DVD)


Picture: B/B- & C/C+/B- & C+/C+     Sound: B-/B- & C+/C+/B & C+/C+     Extras: C+/C-/C-/C-/C     Main Programs: C+/C-/C-/C-/C



Now in time for Halloween 2012, here are some Horror releases you might want to be aware of, or just outright avoid…



The new FX cable channel series American Horror Story: The Complete First Season (2011) has received many raves, including for a scene-stealing Jessica Lange, but it is one of those shows that is more compelling when you watch than when it is over and you are finished.  Why?  Because it is derivative to a fault, especially in wanting to imitate Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), but even that happened before with American Gothic many years ago and I was not a big fan of that show either.


A couple (Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton) buy an old house hoping to make a new start after she caught him sexually with their baby sitter.  He is a therapist and will conduct his work from a spare room, but that will be the least of their problems as the house has a blood-soaked history of several murders taking place there and that includes the previous gay couple.  Oh, and the placer is supernaturally haunted.


Lange is their nebby neighbor who knows much more than she is saying and the show can be sexually, thematically and violently bold, yet again it is everything we have seen before to a fault.  This includes using music from other films (et al) that has nothing to do with flashbacks that do not help the teleplays, nor does throwing in one too many clichés.


The 12 hour-long shows are still all watchable and it is at least a top rate, competent production.  Actress Jennifer Salt, best known for her work on the TV classic Soap and in Brian De Palma films, is a co-producer on the show and even wrote a few of the scripts.  Also the daughter of the great Waldo Salt, she has already penned a few Nip/Tuck scripts and does as good a job as anyone penning this show.


I will stop here as not to ruin any surprises if you watch, but the show has its moments and it is at least worth a look.  Extras include audio commentary on the Pilot, a piece on the home being the Murder House and three behind the scenes featurettes.



Trying to continue his career after doing the first three awful Saw films and other duds, Darren Lynn Bousman is back with The Barrens (2012) in a would be thriller about the killer creature known as The Jersey Devil.  If this sounds all too familiar, that is because an independent production with that name was ripped off to make the horrid Blair Witch Project possible.  Despite some good acting and a decent cast, this is barely better than that all-time rip-off as yet another group of young adults go into the woods and start to get killed, even (surprise?) turning on each other.


The script is redundant, X-Men alum Shawn Ashmore is wasted here and this is just a slightly better, larger production of hundreds and probably thousands of the same bad tales you have seen already, even with a touch of torture porn.  Some money is on the screen, but I would have preferred a good script.  At least the title was interesting.  Stephen Meyer, Mia Kirshner and Allie MacDonald also star.


Extras include a lame Deleted Scene and feature length audio commentary track by Bousman and Director of Photography Joseph White that is dull.



Next up is the demented comedy sequel Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991) directed by Frank Henenlotter, who directed the first hit film that just recently came out on Blu-ray.  You can read about it at this link:




The original was a competent cult film at best, but had some good moments.  By this time, things are pretty played out with dozens of latex offspring and the like being the real “stars” though there is not much of a script here and the premises have been played out.  There are also several attempts at social satire, but it is everything we have seen and heard before.  If you like old latex creatures that look wacky, this is a film for you, but outside of genre fans, it is just not that good and the script has nowhere new to go.  The Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.



M<ore serious is Jennifer Lynch with Chained (2011), an attempt to do another shocking thriller about violence and the dark side of human nature.  Much like her father David Lynch, she is a hit and miss filmmaker.  I was not a big fan of Boxing Helena, but thought Surveillance (2008, reviewed elsewhere on this site) was highly underrated and deserves to be discovered more widely.


Here, a son and mother (Julia Ormond) go out to a film and her husband gives her enough money for them to take a cab over a bus.  A cab shows up suddenly out of nowhere, but the driver kidnaps them and the son is chained inside his place.  We are supposed to be shocked by the sudden brutality of the situation, but its rings too oddly on some level, then this turns into a sort of M. Night Shyamalan film w3ith a sense of near-torture porn to it.  The twists and other events turn out to be so convoluted that this was a big disappointment and Vincent D’Onofrio as the kidnapper is just one creepy bad guy performance too many for him, so this becomes more clichéd than you might expect.


Too bad, because she can direct, but this is quickly forgotten and the actors are good.  Fans will want to see for themselves.  Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Lynch and D’Onofrio, Trailer and the unrated, uncut Alternate Ending,



Last but not least is James Felix McKenney’s Hypothermia (2011) in which a group of friends (et al) spend time in the icy outdoors near a frozen lake fishing when a giant killer creature (thing Jaws, but this is not shark) that is on the kill.  The twist is that the script and visuals suggest this creature is also supernatural and if it can get you frozen in the water, it can achieve a visual near-supernatural (or it is an alien from outer space?) connection with these people as if it were semi-=possessing them.


That is not carried out to its logical conclusion or played for the maximum of possibilities, but with Michael Rooker and a decent supporting cast, this is amusingly watchable as the B-Movie it knows it is making it the most watchable of our feature releases here.

A Making Of featurette, two additional clips and trailer are the extras.




The 1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 21 MBPS digital High Definition image transfers on American is shot on 35mm film and its shows as the best-looking and performing of all the titles on this list.  Despite some styling down, the color, depth and detail is impressive throughout all the episodes over three Blu-rays and a pleasant surprise visually.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Barrens and 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Chained are runner-ups shot in HD, having more styling and more motion blur.  Color is a little better on Barrens and I cannot imagine any of these looking better in the format for what they are and how they were shot.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD versions of Barrens and Chained are softer and weaker than their Blu-ray versions, but Barrens has the softest transfer of all the DVDs here.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the DVDs of Case and Hypothermia are not bad, with Case shot on 35mm film and having a really impressive transfer here for the source, age of the film and the format Hypothermia is an HD shoot that might even look better on a Blu-ray.  Hope it gets one.


The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on Chained just makes the grade as the best-sounding of all the releases here, well recorded and mixed, even if it is not breakout sound design, followed by the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on American and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Barrens as decent 2nd-place performers sonically with sound sometimes more towards the front speakers than I mighty have liked.  All have some fine sound moments and surrounds, but they also have sound flaws and quiet patches, especially the latter two.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Case is another nice surprise cleaned up and sounding better than expected, but the big shock is that it can hold its own against the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on the other three DVDs here which lack good soundfields and disappoint.  I wonder if Hypothermia would sound better in a lossless codec?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com