Though the company had yet to be formed, Mother’s Day was the first unofficial Troma film. Written and directed by Charles Kaufman (Loyd’s brother), it’s a violent, cheapjack revenge film with several of the patented Troma ingredients already in place. Uneasy comedic elements, amateur performances, sketchy scripting and aggressive misogyny abound. In spite of all this, Mother’s Day is also a fairly engrossing little exploitation film that seems to get better with age. Featuring the late, great Beatrice Pons as Mother Rose.
Special Features Include:
* Feature Length Audio Commentary with director Charles Kaufman and assistant art director Rex Piano
* Behind the Scenes of the Original Mother’s Day: includes Super 8 footage of screen tests and special effects (with Charles Kaufman commentary)
* "Ike, Adley, and Eli": Eli Roth on the Subversive Political Subtext of Mother’s Day
* Mother’s Day at Comic-Con: Charles Kaufman and Darren Bousman (director of the remake) discuss the film at Comic-Con 2010
Re-Animator (1985) Image Entertainment Blu-ray & DVD Available Now
Stuart Gordon’s brilliant H. P. Lovecraft riff remains one of the greatest exploitation films of the '80s. Featuring memorable performances from Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott, impressive practical effects and a witty screenplay by Gordon, Dennis Paoli and William Norris. This new high definition release from Image Entertainment includes lots of previously released extras including director/producer commentary, cast interviews, extended scenes and art/photo galleries.
This fun little science fiction film, directed by horror legend Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon), revolves around amateur an astronomer (played Richard Carlson) and his investigation into a meteor crash in the Arizona desert. It should come as no surprise that the giant crater in the sand contains an alien spaceship. Soon, townsfolk turn up missing, only to return later with very different personalities. Based on a story by Ray Bradbury, It was a popular 3-D programmer that became a Saturday afternoon TV favorite.
Megaforce (1982) Henstooth Video DVD Available Now
“The good guys always win. Even in the eighties!” Hal Needham’s bizarre cartoon action film is remembered fondly by those who were young enough to embrace its cable debut in the early '80s. But theater audiences originally took a pass on this saga of an elite “fighting unit” with tricked-out motorcycles led by a spandex-clad Barry Bostwick. Buckaroo Bonzai it’s not. Michael Beck (far, far away from The Warriors) and the ever-wooden Persis Khambatta (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) lend negligible support.
When sympathetic man child Bubba Ritter (L.A. Law’s Larry Drake) is mistakenly accused of harming a young girl, the townsfolk in the rural farming community form a mob to hunt him down. He attempts to hide in the tattered clothes of a scarecrow, but is discovered and quickly shot and killed. When it’s revealed that Bubba actually saved the girl after being mauled by a vicious dog, the vigilantes (with names such as Otis and Skeeter) make a pact to keep the murder quiet. Soon, each one begins to die under mysterious circumstances. Could it be Bubba, back from the grave? This superior made-for-TV movie has already seen two previous DVD releases; the newest version sounds like it contains a few new special features, but it’s the same print as the 2010 edition. Content aside, it’s a crackerjack little horror movie that emphasizes character and haunting ambiguity.
Texas exploitation legend S. F. Brownrigg made several beloved films with his stable of local actors. His most famous release, Don’t Look in the Basement, with its fever dream reality and claustrophobic mise en scene, is also his most memorable. This VCI double-feature, a re-release from a few years ago, presents both Basement and Brownrigg’s lesser-known Don’t Open the Door in impressive widescreen presentations.
This visually stunning big budget romp has some great action setpieces and a memorable performance by Charlize Theron as the “evil queen” Ravenna. But director Rupert Sanders’ film is overly long and meanders quite a bit after the first intriguing hour. Ravenna’s awesome mirror man easily manages to overshadow boring marquee stars Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth.
Never has an exploitation title been more accurate. The Chiodo Brothers' cracked masterpiece really does feature klowns (and very, very disturbing ones at that) who have come from outer space to wreak havoc on a small town. The bizarre circus-themed setpieces and memorable score by John Massari have helped to secure its cult reputation. Starring Hardbodies hero Grant Cramer (at peak adorableness) as Mike Tobacco, Chained Heat’s John Vernon and go-to character actor Royal Dano (Messiah of Evil). A long-planned follow-up has recently been announced with the Chiodo Brothers and Kramer attached.
The Blu-ray debut of writer/director Victor Salva’s solid, if uneven surprise hit. A brother and sister driving home for spring break encounter a supernatural being on the last day of its feeding period. Great performances from Justin Long and Gina Philips ground the typical horror tropes. Though the narrative is slight and loses steam halfway through, the first 15 minutes of the film are truly unnerving.
Tobe Hooper’s gonzo follow-up to the movie that made his career is a dark, underrated little gem that exists in a very different universe from the original. Picking up 12 years after the original massacre, Part 2 finds Lieutenant “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper), uncle of lone survivor Sally Hardesty, on the trail of Leatherface and family. Though it has a streak of jet black humor that divided fans of the original, it’s often damn scary and showcases some incredible effects work by Tom Savini. Featuring a smart and surprisingly subversive script by L. M. Kit Carson (much of which was excised due to studio budget cuts) and incredible performances from Bill Moseley and the amazing Caroline Williams.