Here's a Planet Fury-approved selection of notable genre DVD releases for the months of February and March 2013.
The Blob (1958) Criterion Collection Blu-ray & DVD Available Now
This entertaining low-budget favorite gets some well-deserved respect from the folks at Criterion. A gelatinous creature from outer space begins to devour the inhabitants of a small town. Each time it consumes a new body, it grows bigger. A couple of teens (including the wooden Steve McQueen) attempt to warn the town and save the population from certain blech! Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. directs the mayhem with a sure hand while Bart Sloane's great special effects still pack a punch. Followed by the bizarre comedy sequel, Son of Blob, in the early ’70s (directed by Larry Hagman!) and a great, underrated remake in 1988 by Chuck Russell.
* New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
* Two audio commentaries: one by producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder and one by director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. and actor Robert Fields
* Blobabilia!, a gallery of collector Wes Shank’s rare trove of stills, posters, props and more
* An essay by critic Kim Newman
The Comeback (1978) Redemption Blu-ray and DVD Available Now
One of director Pete Walker’s last films, The Comeback tells the story of faded pop singer Nick (faded pop singer Jack Jones) who moves into a secluded house in the English countryside to work on a new album. A series of ghostly visions and bizarre occurrences convince the singer he may be losing his mind. The plot to this rather average shocker was already dated upon its original release in ’78. But like most of Walker’s films, there are several taught sequences — and many of the performances are exceptional. The amazing Sheila Keith (from Walker's fantastic Frightmare) and UK character actor Bill Owen have fun supporting roles. Jones is game, but ultimately isn’t a strong enough actor to pull off what is required. Redemption’s remastered edition of the film is the first time it has been presented in HD.
Croczilla 2013 Screen Media Films DVD Available Now
Don’t let the title or the crap cover art fool you, this isn’t the typical Syfy movie outing. Coczilla is actually a well-made Japanese thriller originally called Million Dollar Crocodile and features superior computer effects and inspired direction. A Beijing gangster buys a 36-foot crocodile which he intends to sell as an exotic menu item. But he gets more than he bargained for when the behemoth breaks free after swallowing a bag containing a million dollars (or the equivalent in yen). It's sort of Alligator by way of The Host.
With the works of Al Adamson, you’re either game — or you’re not. His brand of cheap piecemeal cinema can often be confusing and not a little terrible. But the man clearly loved making movies and his enthusiasm often translates to the gonzo imagery onscreen. (Nurse Sherri, his '78 mash-up of "sexy" nurse films and Carrie is probably his best/worst.) Dracula Vs. Frankenstein is one of his more infamous efforts and well worth the time for fans of oddball cinema. J. Carrol Naish is the last of the Frankensteins and, quite logically, running a horror house on Venice Beach. An embarrassed Lon Chaney Jr. is his assistant, Groton, who finds victims for the doctor to practice his bad medicine. Count Dracula (the awesomely named Zandor Vorkov) eventually shows up with the body of the original Frankenstein monster. Incoherency and hilarity ensue. Adamson's wife, Regina Carrol (who appeared in several of his films), plays a prominent role as a singer who shows up looking for her missing sister. Her song-and-dance number at the beginning is...something.
* Audio Commentary By Writer/Producer Sam Sherman
* Documentary Producing Schlock
* Alternate Ending
* Deleted Scenes
* Location Footage
* Original Theatrical Trailer, Original TV Spot and more
This edgy, obscure little drive-in film from 1975 revolves around a sexy young artist (the appealing Christina Ferrare) who feeds on the blood of her male and female lovers. Things get messy when she falls for an American hitchhiker whom the FBI and local police think might be responsible for the vampire-like murders. This “modern day” vampire tale plays around with the mythology, not unlike Romero’s Martin a year later. It’s a creepy, visually compelling piece from the director of similarly poetic Alucarda. This DVD release presents both a 2-D and 3-D version of the film. The original film wasn’t in 3-D, so be mindful that this is a conversion (and probably not what director Juan Lopez Moctezuma originally intended).
This thoughtful coming-of-age film was sadly overlooked upon its limited release last year. Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, who adapted it from his own novel, Perks tells the story of quiet outsider Charlie (a somber Logan Lerman) whose first year of high school is transformed when he falls into a group of older misfit students. The magnetic Ezra Miller and touching Emma Watson are the step-siblings who bring Charlie into their world of intrigue. Genuine performances from the three leads and a knowing, heartbreaking script make this one of the best high school dramas in recent years.
* Audio Commentary with writer/director Stephen Chbosky and cast.
* Best Summer Ever Featurette
* Hometown Hero Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
She-Devil (1957) Olive Films Blu-ray and DVD Available Now
This obscure B movie from Kurt Neumann, director of The Fly, has been resurrected by Olive Films in a spiffy new HD print. Mari Blanchard stars as a young woman dying from tuberculosis who is saved by an experimental new drug. The startling side effects include a change of hair color, assertiveness and brazen sexuality! Though probably not the original intention, it could be viewed today as a pointed commentary on feminism in the late '50s.
Snow Shark (2013) Independent Entertainment DVD Available Now
For those who will watch anything with the word “shark” in the title, here’s one more for your approval. The plot is exactly what the title implies, so the curious have been warned. Let’s hope that multi-hyphenate Sam Qualiana (director-writer-star) bothered to write a script and make a watchable movie. From the looks of the trailer, it doesn’t appear that this is the case. Still, the DVD art is funny, and just putting the words “snow” and “shark” together manage to give me a bit of a childish thrill.
This television terror double-feature from Scream Factory pairs the adorably insane sci/fi comedy TerrorVision with the shot-on-video rental favorite The Video Dead. While neither title is especially remarkable, both are enjoyable exploitation relics that have managed to achieve minor cult status. One of several low-budget films released through Charles Band’s Empire Pictures in the mid '80s, TerrorVision is very much a product of that company's garish low-budget output (see also Ghoulies or Troll). Written and directed by Band regular Ted Nicolaou, it features a nutty family whose home satellite dish is used as a portal for a hungry monster from space. Genre faves Mary Woronov (Rock 'n' Roll High School) and the late, great Gerrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise) help set the over-the-top tone. The Video Dead is a bargain basement zombie romp with requisite terrible effects, acting and technical credits. Writer/director Robert Scott’s work is a fondly remembered video store fixture, but aside from the nostalgia crowd this release is unlikely to win over any new admirers. Filled with a plethora of great bonus features, this Blu-ray marks the first digital release for both titles.
* Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ted Nicolaou and Stars Diane Franklin and Jon Gries
*Monsters on Demand: The Making of TerrorVision - An all-new retrospective with Writer/Director Ted Nicolaou, Stars Gerrit Graham, Mary Woronov, Diane Franklin, Jon Gries, Chad Allen, Ian Patrick Williams, Special Make-up Effects Creator John Carl Buechler, Special Effects Artist Cleve Hall, Executive Producer Charles Band and Composer Richard Band
* Poster & Still Gallery
The Video Dead:
* Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer/Director Robert Scott, Editor Bob Sarles, and Special Make-up Effects Creator Dale Hall, Jr.
* Audio Commentary with stars Roxanna Augesen and Rocky Duvall, Production Manager Jacques Thelemaque, and Make-up Assistant Patrick Denver
* Pre-recorDEAD - All new interviews with Make-up effects creator Dale Hall, Jr. and Make-up Assistant Patrick Denver
* Theatrical Trailer
* Poster and Still Gallery
* Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery
Westworld (1973) Warner Home Video Blu-ray & DVD Available Now
This popular future shock fable from writer/director Michael Crichton remains a fun, if dated, ride. Richard Benjamin and James Brolin are two friends who decide to take a vacation at the virtual reality theme park Delos. This adult getaway has three different fantasy theme worlds: Roman World, Medieval World and West World. Each world features robots who interact with guests in elaborate role playing scenarios that include sex and violent death. This being a Crichton work, things eventually go horribly wrong. Benjamin and Brolin are both solid and share an amiable chemistry. Yule Brenner, as the psychotic wild west robot, exhibits an impressive physical menace. An unnecessary sequel, Futureworld, would appear three years later.