Scream Factory is four years old now. The horror and B-movie branch of Shout! Factory was launched on September 18th of 2012 with Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch and since then they have continued to release a fantastic range of genre films. The company had a very successful booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and quickly sold out of collector’s edition versions of Army of Darkness, The Return of the Living Dead and the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have collected our favorite four titles from their catalog. Happy Birthday, Scream Factory!
This movie is such delightful trash. If you thought the first Species was sleazy and exploitative, think again. This sequel is a congealed pool of sleaze and goopy monster effects. It’s knowingly dumb, it’s funny, the aliens look fantastic, and James Cromwell has a small role. Bad movies don’t get much better than Species II. That said, it’s no classic, and never deserved a collector’s edition.
Scream Factory knew that, and they still provided a rather generous Blu-ray for such a minor film. A new interview with star Natasha Henstridge reveals that 18 years after its release, she looks back upon the film with genuine fondness. Interviews with screenwriter Chris Brancato and effects guru Steve Johnson are way meatier. They each have some great anecdotes about the making of the film. The commentary from Peter Medak is hilarious — he talks about the movie like he’s Werner friggin’ Herzog.
One of the great things about Scream Factory is that so many of their titles are older movies rescued from obscurity. The people who made them aren’t afraid of talking about what a pain in the ass the film was, or who they didn’t like on set. 99% of all movie junket press is the same: everything was sunshine and roses. But that is never the truth. Every movie is a battle, and Scream Factory does an admirable job of making sure people know that.
There are better movies in my Scream Factory library. Ginger Snaps, Dog Soldiers, Lifeforce, Manhunter, so on and so forth. But none of those films were in terrible danger of being forgotten. Species II, on the other hand, is a gross-out gem that might’ve never made it to Blu-ray otherwise. It’d never get made today, and frankly, I’m surprised it even got made in the first place. But I’m proud to own it on Scream Factory Blu-ray. [Travis Newton]
Prince of Darkness
A priest invites Professor Howard Birack and his students to join him in the basement of an abandoned church in Los Angeles. They discover a mysterious cylinder containing a swirling green liquid, which turned out to be the corporeal embodiment of Satan. As more and more of the team becomes possessed, the remaining survivors are haunted by a broadcast from the future, and vow to prevent this possible outcome.
The film was budgeted at $3 million, shot in about thirty days, and was directed by John Carpenter, who previously directed one of my favorite movies, Big Trouble in Little China. Though a B-level horror film (I will always love the bone-deep chills of The Exorcist, to the end of my days), this movie serves as an adequate mixture of the adventurous style of Indiana Jones, the hilarity of dead birds and the evil green goo in a bottle, and the almost inception-like details of allowing everyone to preview the future through dreams/visions. It is amazing how they managed to express innovative ideas in a movie about such a well-known, household concept. ‘Nuff said. [Lisa Li]
A movie with one of the best fight scenes in film. It’s influenced art and fashion. It gave us one of the best movie quotes of all time. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about John Carpenter’s They Live.
Based on Ray Nelson’s short story Eight O’Clock in the Morning, They Live takes place in late 80’s Los Angeles that’s oddly prescient. A heavy police/authoritative presence in our cities, people trying to get by and live their lives with the rich getting richer, with an omnipresent media presence all around us. The more things change…
In one of his most remembered movie roles, WWE wrestler Roddy Piper plays the lead of George Nada. He’s a drifter who’s come into town to make a living and get by but ends up stumbling across an alien conspiracy that threatens the whole world. Character actor Keith David plays his friend Frank, who slowly wakes up to what’s happening around them through some “colorful” persuasion by Nada.
The movie is iconic, with the imagery of the world as seen through the special sunglasses, to the alien’s humanoid look, to the subliminal words that adorned the billboards and pictures of our society. It may not be one of his best, but it’s definitely one of my all-time-favorite John Carpenter movies. [Bob Aquavia]
Day of the Dead
George A. Romero’s third movie in his dead series is gruesome. The film is a bleak look at what happens after a small community of zombie apocalypse survivors are held up in close quarters. Romero’s story focuses mainly on a female scientist whose team is working to analyze zombies to see if they can be cured or controlled. The tension builds to a boil between the group of scientists and the military unit assigned to support them. What makes things even more complicated is that they are isolated in an underground facility that seems unbearably claustrophobic despite being huge.
The collector’s edition release does better justice to the film than any official release has done before. Scream Factory pulled out all the stops to create a high definition transfer that makes the picture look better than ever. The quality of the audio and visual aspects of the Blu-ray are top notch. Commentary tracks from Roger Avary and a roundtable recording with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Lori Cardille and production designer Cletus Anderson are also included. My favorite extra on the disc has to be the old Wampum Mine Promotional Video that highlights the massive storage facility that was used as the main location of the film. It’s a classic, simple infomercial that makes a perfect supplement on the disc.
Day of the Dead isn’t the only Scream Factory release I cherish. I love every John Carpenter release they’ve put out, and all of the schlocky 80s and 90s movies in their catalog are fantastic. The brand has blown the dust off many forgotten gems to include TerrorVision and even Hell Hole, but their level of quality and dedication to releasing the best product possible has never wavered once. Scream Factory has breathed life back into over 200 movies, and their upcoming slate of new releases looks fantastic. I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table with The Thing, Child’s Play and The Exorcist III. They’re one of the best distributors in the business and here’s to four more years of horror and fun. [Andrew Hawkins]