Laserblast 1/04/2011: The Last Exorcism on Blu-ray, DVD & VOD


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2011 begins with a bang – or at least a sulfurous blast of demonic hellfire – thanks to the home video release of THE LAST EXORCISM on DVD, Blu-ray, and Video on Demand. Although the film does not fully deliver on its promise, it is quite effective for most of its length, and those who missed in theatres should takes this opportunity to check it out. For those interested in the behind the scenes details, the discs come with some attractive bonus features.

  • Actor and Director commentary with Daniel Stamm, Ashley Bell, Patrick Fabian and Louis Herthum
  • Audio commentary with Producers Eli Roth, Eric Newman and Tom Bliss
  • “The Devil You Know: The Making of The Last Exorcism” featurette
  • “Real Stories of Exorcism” featurette
  • 2009 Cannes Film Festival teaser trailer

In addition, the Blu-ray offers these features not available on the DVD:

  • “Witnesses to an Exorcism: An Audio Commentary with a Haunting Victim, Deliverance Minister and Clinical Psychologist”
  • Audition footage
  • Theatrical trailer
  • BD Touch and Metamenu Remote

That’s about it for new horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles arriving on home video this Tuesday; most of the remaining releases are repackages of previously available titles.
Fans who just can’t get no satisfaction with reruns of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER will be pleased to see the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 8 MOTION COMIC, which continues the adventures of the monster-killing blonde chick, which arrives as a combo pack containing Blu-ray and DVD.
If your taste turns more toward science fiction, you may prefer the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON FOUR Blu-ray disc. There was a previous BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON 4.5 Blu-ray release in 2007. I will leave it to the hardcore fans to determine whether they want to double dip.
Several economy packages hit store shelves. Clive Barker’s BOOK OF BLOOD arrives in a “Horror 2-Pack” DVD with MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN. GRAVES and ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION are joined in a “Double Feature” Blu-ray. Pacific Entertainment offers 25 FRIGHT NIGHT CLASSICS, starring the likes of Boris Karloff, Leslie Neilsen, William Shatner, and Drew Barrymore in titles you’ve never heard of and which the actors would probably prefer it stayed that way.
As if that were not enough for penny-pinching purchasers, there is a series of discs bearing the label “Four Film Collection,” which true to their name offer a quadruple does of terror. Sometimes the combinations  seem apprpriate; at other times, it seems like whatever was contractually available was thrown together. For example, putting LEPRECHAUN 1 through 4 in a package makes sense (or at least as much sense of releasing a LEPRECHAUN movie can), but simultaneous releasing a disc with PUMPKIN HEAD II, LEPRECHAUN, WISHMASTER, and WISHMASTER 2 is a bit of a jumble. Even more discordant is the combination of THE EYE (the American remake of the Chinese original), JU-ON: THE GRUDGE (the Japanese original that was remade with American stars), BUG (the psycho-drama directed by William Friedkin), and ALONE IN THE DARK (an obscure thriller starring Christian Slater as a private investigator who specializes in supernatural phenomena). A bit more comfortable nestled together are BORDERLAND, DARK RIDE, UNEARTHED, and THE GRAVE DANCERS: although not labeled as such, all of these titles have appeared under the After Dark Horrorfest label, which gives weekend-long theatrical exposure to films that otherwise would go straight to video. Of these, THE GRAVE DANCERS is probably the best film ever to screen as part of the horror fest.
These and other titles are available in the Cinefantastique Online Store.

Zombies of Mass Destruction – DVD Review

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One of the “8 Films to Die For” in the 2010 After Dark Horrorfest, ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION attempts to use its familiar genre elements in the service of a post-9/11 political satire, depicting how people succumb to panic and prejudice in the aftermath of a massive attack. It’s a good idea, if a little bit on-the-nose in its presentation; unfortunately, instead of scathing satire, we get broad farce interspersed with the usual flesh-eating zombie cliches. The jokes fall flat, and the horror never hits a nerve; consequently, the film is never really frightening and seldom more than mildly amusing.
The best thing about ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION is its title, which promises mayhem on a global scale – leading to the first of many disappointments when you realize that the entire story is going to be set in an isolated community. The set-up has the outbreak of the living dead blamed on a plague unleashed by terrorists, prompting local would-be patriots to cast their suspicion on a local girl of Iranian origin (who everyone keeps forgetting is not from Iraq).
It’s a nice inversion of the usual scenario, in which catastrophe justifies a lock-and-load, shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach, but it doesn’t come off. The film’s antagonists are a shooting gallery of straw-men (corrupt politicians, paranoid conservatives, a preacher who thinks he can convert gays to hetero-sexuality) who are obviously being set up just to be knocked down. Meanwhile, our heroes (the Iranian girl and a gay couple who have come home to out themselves to the conservative community) barely register. We know we’re supposed to root them because of the situation that has befallen them, but they don’t do much to earn our empathy.
Occasionally a joke hits the target, reminding us of what ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION could have been, had it achieved its aspirations, but there are not even enough to fill up a good trailer: our Iranian heroine rescues a girl and tells her everything will be all right – just before a car careens down the street and flattens the tot; the shy gay man who could not out himself to his mother, finally finds his voice when staring down the barrel of a rifle, blurting out, “Don’t shoot – I’m gay!”
Zombie hordes descend upon a small, conservative community.
Zombie hordes descend upon a small, conservative community.

The l0w-budget production values are decent, including the photography, and ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION does deliver several gory set-pieces, with splattery makeup effects that are wet and red, though not particularly memorable. The intention was apparently to create something hysterically over-the-top, in the style of Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD II or Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD (a.k.a. DEAD/ALVIE), but despite considerable effort, the film seldom reaches a critical mass that explodes into screams of fear and laughter.
The DVD, released through Lionsgate, features good picture and sound with a couple of bonus features: a promo for After Dark’s 2010 Horrorfest, a trailer for ZMD, and a making-of featurette. The later incorporates sound bites from cast and crew, including director Kevin Hamedani, who explains the  political agenda underlying the film.
ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION (2009). Directed by Kevin Hamedani. Written by Kevin Hamedani an dRamon Isao. Cast: Janette Armand, Doug Fahl, Cooper Hopkins, Bill Johns, Russell Hodgkinson, Ali Hamedani, Cornelia Moore, James Mesher.