IFC Midnight – VOD/DVD

centipedeIFC Entertainment announced Tuesday that it was launching a new division for genre films called IFC Midnight. This will largely be a Video on Demand and a DVD/Blu-ray distribution label.
IFC Midnight “will offer the very best in international genre cinema, including horror, sci-fi, thrillers, erotic arthouse, action and more.”
They plan to premiere four new IFC Midnight films every month on video-on-demand, but some select titles will also be released in theaters simultaneously with their VOD premieres.
MPI Media Group will distrubute the films on DVD and Blu-ray under the IFC Midnight label.
The announced schedule, thus far:

  • THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FIRST SEQUENCE  (MAY)
  • CELL 211  (JUNE)
  • DOGHOUSE Zombie comedy directed by Jake West. (JUNE)
  • DON’T LOOK BACK (JUNE)
  • VALHALLA RISING Viking adventure, also theatrical release.(JULY)
  • EXAM (JULY)
  • THE HORDE AKA La Horde French Zombies, cops and gangsters clash. Theatrical & VOD (AUGUST)
  • VENGANCE Theatrical & VOD (AUGUST)
  • ENTER THE VOID described as director Gaspar Noe’s follow up to IRREVERSIBLE, and based on The Tibetan Book of The Dead—though set in a Tokyo where “where the past, present and future merge into a hallucinatory maelstrom”.  Theatrical & VOD (SEPTEMBER)

Obviously, additional films will be necessary to fill out the four releases a month planned.

Sense of Wonder: More Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror available on Video on Demand

We have just added several categories to the Video on Demand section of Cinefantastique Online. Clicking on Videon on Demand takes you to the first page of the section, which features an Amazon.com widget highlighting the latest, popular science fiction, fantasy, and horror titles available to rent or own via download. The currently featured item is the unrated version of CAPRICA, which you can view in HD for $19.99; an SD version is also available for five dollars less.
Below the Amazon widget is a miscellaneous list of movies and television shows, with a Search function (which is different from the website’s overall Search function) that will help you find specific titles.
If you are not looking for something specific but would simply like to browse for your favorite horror movies, fantasy films, and science fiction cinema, you can click on several categories:

Technically, all of this is available through the Cinefantastique Online Store, which is powered by Amazon.com. This can cause some confusion, because the store has its own navigation links, seen on the right side of the page, where the right-hand widget bar is normally located.
Consequently, once you are on the Video on Demand page, you do not necessarily have to use the category links that appear when you roll the cursor over the Video on Demand navigation button at the top of the page; you can simply use the store’s navigation links on the right. This is a bit redundant, but it gives visitors options; hopefully, everyone can decide which navigation method works best for him or her.
To add to the confusion, many of the categories have sub-categories, and some of those sub-categories are redundant. For example, under the Animation category, you can find a sub-category for Science Fiction; under the Science Fiction category, you can find a sub-category for Animation. Again, hopefully this provides options so that you can browse easily without having to worry that what you are seeking is tucked away in only one place that you may or may not be able to find.
Because of the way the Amazon Video on Demand service works, you cannot make your purchase directly from the Cinefantastique Online Store. Instead, when you have found a title you would like to rent or purchase, you click a link which takes you to the Amazon Video on Demand player, where you can complete the transaction.

Roku Digital Video Player and Remote Control

While I’m at it, I’ll take a moment here to plug to Roku digital video player box, of which I am a proud owner. With this box attached to your television, you can watch your Amazon VOD films and shows directly on your high-def widescreen television, instead of on your computer monitor. It’s only a hundred bucks (110 with the high-def cable connector), and it’s very easy to install. Best of all, it’s wireless, so you don’t have to worry about running a cable to link it to your high-speed Internet connection. You can purchase one in the store of our sister website, Hollywood Gothique.

Mutant Chronicles opens in NY & LA

In what must be the strangest distribution strategy ever devised, MUTANT CHRONICLES opens today in exclusive engagements in New York and Hollywood – even though you can already view it here on Video on Demand. Directed by Simon Hunter, working from a script by Philip Eisner, MUTANT CHRONICLES stars Thomas Jane (THE MIST), Ron Perlman (HELLBOY 2), Devon Aoki (SIN CITY), Sean Pertwee (DOG SOLDIERS), and John Malkovich (BEOWULF) in a futuristic combination of science fiction and mysticism, about soldiers battling “necromutants” in 2702. Perlman plays the leader of a monastic order who convinces Jane’s Major Hunter to join him on a mission that will, according to prophecy, destroy the mutants.
MUTANT CHRONICLES is at the Mann Chinese 6 in Hollywood and the Village East Cinema in New York. The “bargain” price for the first screening at the Chinese theatre is $10, which goes up to $11.75 in the afternoon and $12.75 in the evening (and that’s not counting parking and popcorn). Or you can pay a relatively modest $6.99 for Video on Deman.

Sense of Wonder: Let the Right Subtitles In – on Netflix Instant Viewing

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iconLast month, we mentioned the problem with the home video release of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, which substituted some dumbed down subtitles on the DVD instead of the more accurate subtitling of the theatrical prints. A yew days ago, I happened to notice that the film was available on Netflix Instant Viewing, so I checked it out to see which version of the subtitles are on display; thankfully, it was the theatrical version. Presumably, this holds true for cable and satellite television.
The quality of the subtitles may seem a minor point (and I do know people who have seen the DVD and thought the film was great, not realizing they were seeing an inferior version), but it puts people like me in an awkward position: on the one hand we want to champion the film to as many people as possible; on the other, we’re reluctant to recommend renting or purchasing a DVD that has an obvious flaw.
The subtitling is supposed to be corrected on future printings of the DVD (the packaging will clearly tell you that you are getting the theatrical subtitles), but until then it is nice to be able to whole-heartedly recommend the film to the uninitiated in at least one form. If you missed the film in theatres, don’t rent the DVD; check it out on Netflix Instant Viewing.
Click here to see LET THE RIGHT ONE IN on Netflix.
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Full Disclosure: Cinefantastique Online recently signed on as a Netflix affiliate, so we do get a commission if you sign up after clicking through one of our links. In defense of selling out, Netflix Instant Viewing is a service we use ourselves on a daily basis, and we were plugging it it even before we became an affiliate. With Netflix, you do not pay to rent individual titles; you get unlimited instant viewing at no extra cost with a one-at-a-time DVD rental for $8.95 a month.

Sense of Wonder: Fearnet Cable Crisis

fearnetThe Vault of Horror objects to Time-Warner Cable’s recent decision to drop FEARnet’s on-demand service. Brian Solomon notes that the denise of Monster HD began in a similar fashion, with the channel being dropped by one provider at a time until nothing was left. Solomon exorts angered fans to speak up, suggesting they dial 1-877-FEAR-247 to voice their complaint (FEARnet will forward you to your cable operator, so you can complain to the write people.) Solomon writes:

I’m baffled as to where this lack of confidence in the concept of a horror channel is coming from. In my experience, horror has a much stronger mainstream following than science fiction, and yet the Sci-Fi Channel has been going strong for many years. Hell, there’s even an Encore Westerns channel. Horror fans, unite and speak up!

I don’t know why horror channels bite the dust while Sci Fi Channel keeps going strong, but in general I suspect these niche channels are endangered species. The future is going to be services like Netflix’s Instant Viewing and Amazon.com’s Video on Demand, which allow you to watch movies anytime you like. Although technically these are Internet services, thanks to the Roku box, you can now watch movies from these sources in high-def on your plasma television. It’s like cable, only better.

The Horror Vault – Direct-to-Video Review

The Horror Vault (2008)This dismal direct-to-video anthology of nine short subjects is almost guaranteed to provoke howls of outrage from disappointed viewers demanding their money back. The low-budget production values show a certain technical competence, suggesting reasonably well-made student films, but the stories are so flimsy and the pay-offs so weak your reaction is less likely to be a scream of fear than a confused, “Is that all?” In short, this feels like a throwback to the early days of home video, before the major studios had entered the direct-to-video market, when even no-budget amateurs could get their titles released on VHS, as long as they had enough exploitable elements (e.g., nudity and violence). It is a little harder for the small guy to make a splash in the DTV world these days, but Video on Demand (which is how we viewed THE HORROR VAULT) has become this generation’s VHS: a cheap method for low-budget filmmakers to get their films see without prohbitive shipping and handling costs associated with theatrical release.
The opening credits, with a cheesy but fun synth score, suggest a fun ’80s-era horror anthology TV series, but the stories tend toward violent psycho-horror bordering on torture porn, peppered with female nudity to keep your eyelids from closing prematurely. The nadir is a sleazy docu-drama showcasing some of the crimes of Ted Bundy for no particular reason other than that it offers an excuse for portraying acts of sexual violence against women (you can practically here the filmmakers squealing their defense in mock outrage, “Hey, don’t blame us – this really happened!”) Fortunately, there are one or two supernatural tales tucked into the mix, not that their quality is much better, but it offers some variety.
On the plus side, the various episodes are ambitious enough to attempt conveying several different time periods (the 1920s, the 1950s, etc.) with reasonable success, and one or two have premises interesting enough to hold your attention. For example, the intriguing “Alone” focuses on a lone college girl, locked inside an empty sorority house, who must figure out which of two men claiming to help her is actually a serial killer; of course she makes the wrong choice – a weak ending that spoils what could have been a little gem. (The episode is vaguely similar to a sequence in Dario Argento’s OPERA, where the material was handled much better – and with a more thrilling pay-off.)
The stand-out episode is “Disconnected,” which features a man who finds himself confined in an old warehouse where he is brutally tortured. If you’re squeamish, you may find yourself reaching for the fast-forward button, but don’t push it. The hysterical punchline, involving the absurd reason the victim is being tortured, yields the one truly satisfying conclusion to any of the tales.
As for the rest, the episodes tend to be vague or inconsequential and, in at least one case, downright incomprehensible. There is also the problem that, with no time to develop plots, the stories rely only on setting up simple situations – and several of the situations are the same (two episodes involve hitchhikers, more than one features a character waking up in the middle of a horrible situation). Considering how repetitious these nine episodes are, it is amazing to realize that the filmmakers felt they had more to say: THE HORROR VAULT 2 is already available, and THE HORROR VAULT 3 is in the works. It seems unlikely that many viewers who suffered through the first batch will be reopening this vault.

The Horror Vault (2008)

THE HORROR VAULT(Cletus Productions, 2008). Directed by Kim Sonderholm, David Boone, Josh Card, Russ Diaper, Mark Marchillo, Kenny Selko, Thomas Steen Sorensen, J.P. Wenner. Written by Russ Diaper, Drew English, Nicolai Ketelsen, Mark Marchillo, Zach Rasmussen, Kenny Selko, Kim Sonderholm, Thomas Steen Sorensen, J.P. Werner. Cast: Claire Ross-Brown, Kim Sonderholm, Jonathan Trent, Heather Tom, Elisa Richardson, Chad Mehle, James Terry Salles Wells Cook.

Dark Knight flies to VOD

Variety reports that THE DARK KNIGHT will be the first Hollywood blockbuster to appear on Video on Demand before DVD, airing on South Korea’s VOD channels two-weks before the disc reaches stores.

“Warner is planning to do active business with digital distribution, based on Korea’s strong digital infrastructure as a test bed for a pre-DVD VOD service. We will collaborate with local business partners of digital content, while coping with illegal downloads,” said Cho Hong-yeon, director of Warner Korea’s digital distribution unit.

Fearnet purchases its first original feature

catacombsFearnet.com – the online VOD service that launched last year – has picked up its first orignal feature film, CATACOMBS. The film follows a young woman (Alecia Moore, a.k.a. Pink) who gets lost in the famous Paris catacombs. The premier is set for October 1; on Halloween it will become available for as a Video on Demand (meaning you can watch it whenever you want). The film was written and directed by Tomm Coker and David Elliot, for Twisted Pictures (the company behind the SAW franchise). Read More