We start this horror round-up with a trio of box sets. The John Carpenter Collection (Optimum) ●●●●● captures all the films that made Carpenter a legend, including bona fide classics (Halloween, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13, They Live), some very respectable works (The Fog, Escape From New York) and one clunker (Prince of Darkness). Meanwhile, the king of churning ‘em out cheap and quick is celebrated in The Roger Corman Collection (Optimum). ●●● While not all horror (it includes two westerns and biker movie The Wild Angels) the box set contains three Edgar Allan Poe adaptations Masque of the Red Death, Premature Burial and The Haunted Palace (credited as Poe but actually based on a HP Lovecraft tale). Finally, there’s funky blaxploitation with Blacula (Optimum) ●●● (which features alongside the sequel Scream Blacula Scream). Think Hammer Horror meets Shaft.
Shameless DVD offers yet more beyond-cult offerings with Who Saw Her Die? (Shameless) ●●●● , starring a post-Bond George Lazenby in a taut giallo from 1972. While there are similarities between the two films, this Venice-set thriller pre-dates Don’t Look Now and features a fabulously demonic score by Ennio Morricone.
There’s gonzo fun to be had in 80s horror comedy Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Optimum) ●●● (including a whacked-out theme by The Dickies). Elsewhere, the latest George Romero Dead movie to get a ‘remake’ is Day of the Dead (Optimum) ●●● , which has only a passing resemblance (ie there are zombies) and a couple of vague nods to the 1985 original. While the film has headed direct to DVD it’s competently directed by old hand Steve Miner (House, Lake Placid and Halloween: H20).
Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! (Revolver) ● runs with the tagline ‘strippers vs zombies’ which pretty much sums it up (although it’s nowhere near as exciting as you’re probably imagining). Vampire Diary (Bad Cat) ● displays a couple of nice ideas ‐ all shot on purposely grainy, shaky video diaries ‐ but is painfully dull. Shark in Venice (Warner Home Video) ● despite the deranged genius of the concept, (basically Jaws in Venice) is sub-TV movie standard at best. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel: The Chair (DNC) ● proves that low-budget horror can be atmospheric on a micro budget.