It’s that time of year again. Time to polish up those plastic fangs, load up on sugary treats and break out the Blu-ray player for a few days of horrific cinematic bliss. Here, you’ll find a few recent and notable releases to keep your Halloween ghoulishly groovy.

Vincent Price

Vincent Price Collection II

Last year, the kind folks at Shout Factory! released the fantastic Vincent Price Collection that focused heavily on the actor’s gothic horror work with Roger Corman. While this sequel does not have quite the staying power of the first set, it is nevertheless a nice piece for Price fans and horror completists.

Like the first set, a few of the films here are of the ‘60s gothic horror variety, including the Poe-flavored Tomb of Ligeia (1964), which is the set’s best film. This would also include a pair of comedic horror pieces, The Raven (1963) and The Comedy of Terrors (1963), both featuring fellow horror icons Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, with the latter adding Basil Rathbone to the curious brew. For those looking for serious shocks, these two will most likely not suffice, in spite of the obvious star power, but are still rich in extravagant horror sets and plush production values.

Other films include earlier, non-essential shockers House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The Return of the Fly (1959), the vampire-infested The Last Man on Earth (1964), and the colorfully kooky Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), a slightly downgraded sequel to the one included in last year’s set. Many of the films include introductions shot for TV by Price himself, which make this an extra-special Halloween treat, in spite of the drop in quality from last year’s release. (Shout! Factory)

Halloween

Halloween: Complete Collection

John Carpenter’s original Halloween masterpiece from 1978 was iconic for many reasons, the least of which, its penchant for numerous sequels and spinoffs. Since then, there have been five sequels, a couple of later entries and two reboots from Rob Zombie, totaling 10 films altogether. This set compiles the 35th anniversary edition of the original in a crisp new transfer, plus all of the sequels, remakes and a passel of new bonus material, making it a Halloween lover’s nightmare come to life—all in prime hi-def. (Anchor Bay)

 

 

 

Texas Chainsaw

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

Released in 1973, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre almost singlehandedly kicked things into higher gear. With the introduction of the infamous “Leatherface” and its low-budget atmosphere of pure dread, it forged an entirely new direction of exploitation/horror films. But Texas Chainsaw was far more than just a grimy exploitation flick. Director Tobe Hooper’s artfully bleak portrayal of the Sawyer family and its cannibalistic exploits was groundbreaking—and better yet, he did it all while using very little graphic gore, an art unto itself. This new Blu-ray features a pristine new transfer with lots of extras, including documentaries, commentaries and more. (Dark Sky)

 

Nightbreed

Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut

Clive Barker’s quirky monster-fest finally gets the treatment it deserves in this plush new director’s cut. Released in 1990, the story of a society of peaceful, hellish-looking creatures living just beyond the realm of humanity is brought to life via extensive makeup, prosthetics and ultra-imaginative sets. Even if the narrative is a little light in spots, the visual aspects carry the day, making it a treat for the senses, and so peculiar and strange that it’s difficult to peel one’s eyes away. (Shout! Factory)

 

 

 

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper
Raise the Dead: Live From Wacken

I couldn’t think of a better way to usher in the holiday than with an all-out rock show with the master himself. This recent live set features an energized and electric Cooper, complete with a kick-ass live band that keeps things moving in high style. This DVD/CD package offers a broad mix from Mr. Cooper’s career, ranging from early classics (“Hello Hooray,” “Under My Wheels”) to comeback hits (“Poison,” “House of Fire”) and current gems such as “Caffeine,” along with all the ghoulish bells and whistles one would expect from a live Alice Cooper show. Sounds-wise and visually, this is one of the best live documents of Cooper and Co. to come out in a while. (UDR)

 

Bigamist_DVD_Final

Killer Shrews

This low-budget turkey from 1959 is famous for its goofy mutant shrews and the fact that Stephen King is a fan. But there’s more to it than that. The story of a mad scientist seeking to reduce world hunger by creating a race of smaller humans is kooky enough. But when you toss in a cast of canines adorned with carpet remnants in an attempt to look like giant shrews, the laughs just come pouring in. And that, my friends is the charm of this newly remastered DVD. It’s so bad, it’s good, and makes for a nice, lighthearted break from the likes of the prior films on this list. (Film Chest Media Group.)

 

 

 

Silent Night Deadly Night

Silent Night, Deadly Night
30th Anniversary Edition

Released in 1984, Silent Night, Deadly Night caused quite a stir when it hit the theaters during holiday season. Turns out the idea of a murderous teenager dressed as Santa was a bit much for the masses to handle, causing the film’s distributor to pull its advertising due to protests. But the film’s over-the-top violence, racy visuals and bad attitude has endeared it to throngs of cult followers over the years, craving to see it—blood, warts and all—in vivid high-definition, and that’s what we get here, along with a clutch of cool extras. (Anchor Bay)

 

 

Scream Theater

Scream Theater series

Horror during the 1970s often took the form of seedy, low-budget exploitation films that stretched the limits of “good taste” with over-the-top violence, skin and attitude. Horror diehards have long appreciated this often-marginalized subgenre, and much of it has finally made its way onto DVD. The Scream Theater series compiles a few of these flicks in handy 2-fer packages with decent quality transfers at a great price. While some of these are best left in obscurity, there are a few standouts to be had, including the atmospheric zombie romp Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things and the creepy, insane Don’t Look In The Basement. (VCI)

Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie
The Zombie Horror Picture Show

This feature-length concert film captures Mr. Zombie and band live in Texas over two nights. With high production values, including a massive multimedia horror set, elaborate costumes and special effects, the show includes several numbers culled from Zombie’s solo efforts Hellbilly Deluxe, its sequel Hellbilly Deluxe 2 and others, plus a number of White Zombie songs such as “More Human Than Human,” “Super Charger Heaven” and ‘Thunder Kiss ’65,” and a raucous cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band.” Led by lipstick-clad virtuoso John 5 on guitar, the costumed band is alive and in-your-face, and is by far the best that Zombie’s had in ages, which is part of what makes this film so appealing. (UMe)

In the Flesh

In The Flesh
Season 2

For the uninitiated, In The Flesh puts a unique spin on the often one-dimensional zombie story. This British series centers on the notion of treating and rehabilitating the undead, so that they can function normally once again in society. The second season has some sharp political overtones that add a juicy new dimension to the show, making it the “thinking-man’s” zombie series. (BBC)

 

 

 

 

Sonno Profundo

Sonno Profondo (Deep Sleep)

This strange little flick from Argentina is by far the most bizarre entry on this list. With a look and feel of the classic Italian Giallo mystery (slasher/sex thrillers), this film of sorts follows a murderer that suddenly finds himself in the position of being hunted. With frenetic pacing and an equally insane soundtrack, the film dispatches with a formal narrative in favor of nonstop movement and action, with the main POV coming from the camera itself. It’s truly a dark and gritty experience; one that is filled with enough twists and turns to keep things suitably uncomfortable. (MVD)

 

 

 

 

Willow Creek

Willow Creek

I have to admit that I was skeptical about this little cheapie when it arrived in a non-descript envelope a few weeks back. The fact that it was helmed by comedian and requisite loudmouth Bobcat Goldthwait didn’t much endear me to it, and its title alone seemed anything but horror inducing. But, this “found-footage” flick that retraces the steps of a couple’s travels in search for Bigfoot has a tense elegance about it that makes it hard to turn away from. While its premise has been done to death and there’s little originality to be had, the character development and clever nuances make this one a worthy view. (Dark Sky)

 

 

Hillbilly Butcher

Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher

Carl Jessup is not your average backwoods lout. On one hand, he mourns the loss of his parents with an almost childlike sincerity. On the other, he’s a murderous brute with a fix for cannibalism and a seamy deal with a local demon. If it sounds a little busy on the surface, it is, and that is one aspect that knocks it down a notch or two. But, Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher is nicely paced and is atmospheric as all hell. The look of the film is also something to see—its faded, weathered looks adding to the insanity. (MVD)

 

 

 

 

For questions, comments or something you’d like to see, drop me a line at Retrohead77@yahoo.com. JK

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