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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Horror > Psychological > Spain > Monster > Camp > Repligator (1998/Visual Vengeance Blu-ray/*all MVD)

Dead Mother (1993/Radiance Blu-ray*)/Ghoulies 4K (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/Ghoulies II (1987/Blu-ray*)/Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Beyond Halloween Town by Emily Zemler (2023/Hardcover/Epic Ink Books)/Repligator (1998/Visual Vengeance Blu-ray/*all MVD)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B/B/B+/B Sound: B-/B+/B+/B Extras: B-/B-/B-/B Films: C/C+/C+/C Book: A

Here comes the horror releases for this Halloween season, starting with...

Juanma Bajo Ulloa's The Dead Mother (1993) is a thriller drama with a good reputation, but after watching it, I found it redundant, repetitive, predictable and offered too much of what we had seen before. A man (Karra Elejaide) breaks into the home of a man who restores art, shoots him, kills him and traumatizes his young daughter for life, but this is a flashback. Then the film switches to the present and he sees the daughter at a bar he is working at, finds out she lives at a hospital, then kidnaps her to hold her for ransom from the hospital!

Well, that is a good bit to show, present and take on and this was successful enough that it inspired a new cycle of Spanish thrillers, but I guess the audience that paid to see this forgot what thrillers were like and had not seen enough of them. It looks good and the actors (unknowns in the U.S. still, though Elejaide was in a film I had heard of before called
Timecrimes) are trying their best, but this kills suspension of disbelief early enough and nearly becomes a spoof of itself. It is also more graphic than I expected, but that also seems a little off and never gels with the screenplay. Still, I can see why this could have been some kind of it, though it never really opened in the U.S. in any big way. It is at least different enough that the very interested might want to check out this new release of it, especially if you are a horror/thriller completist. Otherwise, this just did not live up to the hype, despite some obvious talent here.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot with real anamorphic Panavision lenses on what is credited as Eastman Kodak color negative, but one still in the stills gallery in the extras (likely a cheat?) actually has one of the cameras marked with a film stock number that is actually of Fuji Color negative film. Maybe one shot or scene in the film was shot that way, but this looks good throughout with a new 4K scan and the PCM 2.0 Stereo sound reproduces the advanced analog Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) noise reduction as well as possible. Only the budget and tech limits of what they were recoding the sound on holds the soundtrack back. Play it back in Dolby Pro Logic or any of its updated variants or imitators for best effect, as the combination is fine.

Extras include a feature-length audio commentary track by Director Bajo Ulloa

  • The Story of La Madre Muerta: a documentary on the making of the film featuring behind-the-scenes images and interviews with the cast and crew

  • Victor's Kingdom [El reino de Victor] (1989, 38 mins); Goya Award-winning short film by Ulloa, restored in 4K

  • Gallery of behind-the-scenes and promotional imagery

  • Trailer

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow

  • Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Xavier Aldana Reyes, author of Spanish Gothic: National Identity, Collaboration and Cultural Adaptation, and newly translated archival writing by Juanma Bajo Ulloa, co-writer Eduardo Bajo Ulloa and an appreciation by Nacho Vigalond.

  • Limited Edition Soundtrack CD featuring Bingen Mendizabal's sumptuous score

  • and Limited Edition (only 3000 copies), presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of markings.

If you're a fan of
Gremlins, Critters, Spookies, or Demons, then you might want to check out the first two Ghoulies films, which finally get stand alone releases from MVD Visual as part of their MVD Rewind collection. The original Ghoulies (1985) has finally been released on 4K UHD and its sequel, Ghoulies 2 (1988) has landed on the 1080p Blu-ray format as well, both just in time for the Halloween 2023 season.

Known for its infamous poster where the green rubber monster (known as a Ghoulie) exiting a toilet, an image that's burned into my brain since childhood seeing the VHS tape in the horror section of many video stores. All these years later, the films haven't lost their silly charm and remind one of simpler times when you had to be kind and rewind. While at first glance, you might think of the Ghoulies as a rip-off of Gremlins or Critters, but they are much different and similar only in size alone really. While Gremlins are more plentiful (Warner gave them a bigger budget?) and multiply quickly, Ghoulies only come out a few at a time and usually resort to puking vile or killing their victims in inventive ways rather than simply munching them out of carnivorous hunger.

The Ghoulies franchise, released under the banner of the legendary Empire Pictures and B-Movie Super Producer Charles Band (who went from running Empire Pictures to Full Moon Pictures), featured the special effects mastery of the late great John Carl Buechler, who later went on to direct the third entry in the series, Ghoulies Go To College (as well as slasher classic Friday the 13th, Part 7).

Ghoulies centers on Jonathan (Peter Liapis) who as a child born into the occult and black magic. Cast away and raised to be normal, he later as an adult inherits an old mansion, which he moves in to with his girlfriend (Lisa Pelikan). Jonathan transforms from charming boyfriend to twisted, dark, and obsessed with the occult upon entering the mansion. He finds a book and masters the dark arts, experimenting on his friends, which leads to the demons known as Ghoulies to emerge and wreak havoc!

Ghoulies is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with Dolby Vision/HDR10 and struck from a 16-Bit Scan of the Original Camera Negative, and presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film is paired with a lossless audio mix in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit). This is without a doubt, the best transfer that this film has ever seen, and will likely shock longtime fans with how crystal clear it is. It's not to be forgotten that this film has been previously available in not the best quality over the years and so this is a vast improvement. Also included is a 1080p Blu-ray edition with the same audio mix, that is also better than any previous version including the Shout Factory release from yesteryear that is long out of print, and at one point was ridiculously priced on the aftermarket.

Ghoulies (1985) Special Features

Archival 2015 Audio commentary with director Luca Bercovici

Archival 2016 Audio commentary by director Luca Bercovici moderated by Jason Andreasen of Terror Transmission

Video Introduction by Luca Bercovici

Editing an Empire: Interview with Ted Nicolau

The Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste: Interview with Scott Thomson

"Just For The Chick Man" interview with Luca Bercovici

"From Toilets to Terror: The Making of Ghoulies"

Photo Gallery

Theatrical Trailer

4 TV Spots

Collectible 4K Mini-Poster

and Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only)

Ghoulies 2 (1988)

The sequel to Ghoulies is a lot more fun than the original with much better looking creature and special effects on the whole. More in style to Full Moon productions of the same era, this time the Ghoulies run amok at a traveling carnival / circus and stake up in a haunted house called Satan's Den. The handful of Ghoulies terrorize the locals who enter the house and hide their bodies within the haunted house themselves. They keep things quiet at first, until one disastrous murder turns the town wise and a few carnival workers must figure out the best way to send them back to hell. In the process though, they resurrect a giant Ghoulie who has quite an appetite. While the plot isn't anything terribly special, Ghoulies 2 is a pretty fun B movie popcorn flick to watch with friends.

Directed by Albert Band, the film stars Damon Martin, well-known character actor Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro, J. Downing, and Kerry Remsen.

Ghoulies 2 is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a lossless English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz, 24-bit) sound mix. This is from a 2K restoration of the original camera negative. While it's sad that it's not on the 4K UHD format out the gate, this is still an improvement over the previous release from Shout Factory in terms of color and visual clarity on the whole. A few shots here are there show some aged film that was beyond restoration, but it doesn't take away much considering this is a low budget film.

Ghoulies 2 (1988) Special Features

Introduction by Screenwriter Dennis Paoli

More Toilets, More Terror: The Making of Ghoulies 2

Under A Magic Moon: Interview with Dennis Paoli

Deleted Scenes

Photo Gallery

Theatrical Trailer

2-Sided Artwork

Collectible Mini-Poster

and Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only)

The Ghoulies movies are pretty fun to look back on as little creature features, and perfect for a cheesy movie night. However, aren't well constructed classics in the same way that Gremlins or even Critters are.

This beautiful hardcover book by Emily Zemler is a deep dive into the complete legacy of Disney and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Beyond Halloween Town (2023) from idea to production to modern day. While prior books focused on the creation and production aspects alone, this one goes in depth with retrospectives and even modern ways the film has been kept alive by merchandise, Disney theme parks, and concerts. There is even a foreword by Tim Burton himself!

The 168-page hardcover book features full color photos and artwork from and inspired by the film analyzes the characters and world of The Nightmare Before Christmas and asks what makes them so impactful and powerful to the film that has been a multi holiday classic.

It also explores other Tim Burton animated films such as The Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie, and a lit bit more depth exploring the body of Burton's work that some may not be aware of. While the focus is mainly on Nightmare itself, I think this book accomplishes a definite look at the creation of the film and is a nice improvement on prior books in the same vein, if for no other reason than its attractive to look at, updated, and modernized.

I myself watch this stop motion animated classic every Halloween and Christmas season. If you are a diehard of The Nightmare Before Christmas, then you will definitely want to check out this very beautiful and thorough book that is obviously made by a fan with a lot of love and energy put behind it!

And that leaves us with Repligator (1998,) a fun B-movie that is just for laughs and not to be taken seriously in any regard. From director Bret McCormick (The Abomination), Repligator is a fun nod to classic sci-fi and atomic age era drive-in flicks, mixed with the same brand of sleaze and crude humor that you'd expect to find in a Troma, Asylum, or Full Moon produced film.

Starring the late Gunnar Hansem. who was Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and '80s Scream Queen Brinke Stevens in a cameo, Repligator is about the wild happenings in a Area 51-style government headquarters base where all kinds of wacky things happen. X-Ray glasses where you can see the person next to you naked, people with reptile heads, men who are transformed into sexy women via an odd experiment, and etc.

The film also stars Keith Kjornes, Randy Clower, TJ Myers, and Carl Merritt.

Repligator is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a full screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and an audio mix in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo instead of a lossless track that would have helped the audio, but we guess this is somehow appropriate for a title of this caliber. The HD transfer on the whole isn't too bad considering the source, and the film is professionally shot and lit even if it does have a low budget.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with director Bret McCormick and Glen Coburn

Audio Commentary with Sam Panico of B&S About Movies and Bill Van Ryn of Drive-In Asylum

Archival Making Of featurette

Archival Bret McCormick Interview (2013)

Original Deleted Opening Scene

Director Bret McCormick Interview (2022)

Producer Wynn Winberg Interview (2022)

Actress Brinke Stevens Interview (2022)

Actor Carl Merritt Interview (2022)

Actor Randy Clower Interview (2022)

Original VHS Trailer

Visual Vengeance Trailers

One pair of branded 'X-Ray Specs'

Folded mini-poster

'Stick your own' VHS sticker sheet

Reversible Sleeve With Original VHS Art

and a 2-Sided Insert.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Dead) and James Lockhart



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