Laserblast 10/5/10: Splice, The Exorcist, Beauty & The Beast


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Tuesday, October 5 is overflowing with horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles of all shapes and sizes arriving on home video in various formats: DVD, Blu-ray, and iTunes downloads. The best of the new releases is SPLICE, which arrives in two versions, DVD and Blu-ray. When it hit theatres earlier this year, Vincenzo Natali’s sci-fi horror opus was a bit misrepresented by its advertising campaign, which suggested a SPECIES-type monster movie. Instead, audiences got a thoughtful science fiction film with an overlay of dark satire.
Also out this week is A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, the unnecessary (and unnecessarily dull) remake of writer-director Wes Craven’s 1984 classic. The new version is slickly made but typically soulless. Somewhat less typically, it is also almost entirely devoid of shocks and suspense. Give this one a pass.
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This is one of those rare weeks when classic titles are overwhelming new releases, thanks to some deluxe editions that surpass and eclipse previous home video versions. Horror fans disappointed by the ELM STREET remake can take solace in Warner Brothers Home Video release a two-disc Blu-ray of THE EXORCIST (1973), which includes the original theatrical cut and the so-called “Extended Director’s Cut,” plus three new documentaries. The film is also being made available for download via iTunes for the first time. The extended cut is just a new name for the 2000 theatrical re-issue of the film, which at the time was dubbed “The Version You ‘ve Never Seen” – a sobriquet that hardly makes sense ten years later. Even if (like me) you have previously purchased both versions of the film on DVD (including the excellent 25th anniversary edition), you will find much worth viewing on this disc, thanks to previously unreleased behind-the-scenes footage that provides an amazing glimpse at the making of this horror classic.
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If your tastes run more toward fairy tale fantasy, you are in luck: Walt Disney Home Video is releasing a 3-disc Diamond Edition of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, their 1991 Oscar-nominated blockbuster, which has been unavailable in any form since 2003. (This combo pack will be followed seven weeks later by a 2-Disc standard definition DVD on November 23.) The 3-disc set includes one DVD and two Blu-rays. The DVD features an all-new digital restoration, three versions of the film, sing-along mode (with subtitles for the lyrics), and an audio commentary. The first Blu-ray disc includes the DVD bonus features and the three versions of the film (in high-def, of course), plus more extras, including previously unseen alternate opening and a deleted scene. The second Blu-ray disc offers the bonus features from the old Platinum Edition DVD, plus some new Blu-ray extras, including “Beyond Beauty – The Untold Stories,” “Enchanted Musical Challenge Game,” and “Bonjour, Who is This” – a game in which you use your phone to receive secret messages and guess players’ identities before they guess yours.
In a move no one could ever have expected, the abysmal TROLL 2 receives a Blu-ray release this week; the format seems altogether too refined by the cheezy little movie, which has gained some cult notoriety this year, thanks to the art house release of BEST WORST MOVIE, the documentary tracing the lives and reunion of some of the TROLL 2 cast members.
MGM Home Video offers the MGM Sci-Fi Movie Collection. Unfortunately, the company’s 1956 classic FORBIDDEN PLANET is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we get one  (WAR GAMES) and a bunch of forgettable duds (SOLAR BABIES, ALIEN FROM L.A. with Kathy Ireland, HACKERS with a  young Angelina Jolie film, SPACE CAMP, and a WAR GAMES sequel).
Apparently, bargain days have arrived this week, with several previous available titles re-released in two-packs: GROUNDHOG DAY and SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER, HANCOCK and GHOST RIDER, THE GRUDGE and SILENT HILL, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and WOLF, FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and I ROBOT, plus several others.
But wait, there’s more! Also on store shelves this week:

  • THE SECRET OF KELLS on DVD and Blu-ray
  • GRINDHOUSE two-disc collector’s edition on Blu-ray
  • DELGO on DVD and two-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo
  • THE EVIL/TWICE DEAD, a two-pack of Roger Corman Cult Classics
  • FINGERPRINTS on Blu-ray
  • THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS, a deluxe edition
  • SISTERS on Blu-ray (no not the Brian DePalma original but an unnecessary remake)

And the list goes on and on… All are available in the Cinefantastique Online Store. Click the links below to check them out, or go here.

Best Worst Movie (2009) review

Best Worst Movie posterOn paper, this project sounds about as well advised as a hiring Dr. Lecter to perform your open-heart surgery: Do we really need a documentary devoted to a negligible, mostly forgotten relic of 1990, an ersatz sequel that goes by the title of TROLL 2? Fortunately, BEST WORST MOVIE (which is currently making the rounds of art house theatres across the country) is not a revisionist attempt to rehabilitate that shoddy horror film’s dubious reputation, nor is BEST WORST MOVIE a detailed account of the making of TROLL 2. Instead, director Michael Stephenson (who played the frightened boy Joshua Waits in TROLL 2), examines the 1990 film’s unexpected rebirth as a midnight movie camp sensation.
This in itself is wacky enough to provide a hook for our attention, but it might not be enough to sustain a movie; fortunately, Stephenson focuses little on his own personal story (failed dreams of stardom), instead keeping his camera trained on George Hardy, who played Joshua’s father. The story of the former actor is a delightful and amusing one. Well-liked in his community, where he has a successful practice as a dentist, Hardy, it becomes obvious, would relish a return to the screen; his brush with Hollywood is a sort of weird anamoly to his friends and patients, who dutifully rent TROLL 2, only to find themselvs in capable of finishing it.
Most of BEST WORST MOVIE follows Hardy as he embraces TROLL 2’s cult status, attending screenings, answering audience questions, and recreating scenes and dialogue (his signature line is his admonition to his son: “You can’t pisson hospitality. I won’t allow it!“).

Trolls? Goblins? Troblins? Fans of TROLL 2 get their gear on in BEST WORST MOVIE.
Trolls? Goblins? Troblins? Fans of TROLL 2 get their gear on in BEST WORST MOVIE.

Hardy rides this roller-coaster for two or three years. Gradually, other cast and crew join the cult phenomenon. Even TROLL 2’s director, Claudio Fragasso, flies in from Italy to join his former comrades on a visit to TROLL 2’s locations (rather like a felon returning to the scene of a crime). Hilarity ensues as Fragasso visibly bristles at the suggestion that his film contains no trolls (the dialogue actually refers to the monsters as goblins). He bristles even more at the cast’s’ honest admission that TROLL 2 is terrible. (The American actors recall that the Italian director refused to take their advice for adjusting TROLL 2’s English dialogue, responding along the lines of, “That’s not how Americans talk.”)
Eventually, the wave of small-time credibility crests and recedes. Visits to horror conventions baldly expoe TROLL 2’s limited appeal even as a cult item (attendees are interested in Jason and Freddy, not Trolls or Goblins), and Hardy finds himself under the same roof with other has-beens-who-never-were, milking their brief associations with long-gone installments of popular franchises.
In a moment of admirable self-awareness, Hardy shifts from criticizing other former actors (Don’t they have anything better to do than talk about af ilm they were in over 20 years ago?) to asking himself the same question. This, along with his waning enthusiasm for reciting his infamous line about hospitality, leads him to wonder whether Celine Dion grows sick and tired of singing the TITANIC’s theme song over and over.
Best Worst Movie (2009)The best compliment one can bestow on BEST WORST MOVIE is that it transcends its subject matter. You do not need to be a fan of TROLL 2, nor even have seen it, to enjoy BEST WORST MOVIE, which emerges a a fascinating glimpse at the little-seen world of cult celebrity and as a wonderful character study of a very likable man, whose fifteen minutes of fame no one – be they bad movie fan or otherwise – would begrudge.
BEST WORST MOVIE (2009). Written and directed by Michael Stephenson. Cast: George Hardy, Michael Stephenson, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, John Gemberling, Claudio Fragasso, Scott Pearlman, Chris Pudlo, James M. Tate, Scott Weinberg.

Troll 2 review

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Thanks to the documentary BEST WORST MOVIE, those of us who never cared about TROLL, let alone TROLL 2, now know that the latter has earned some small renown as a cult film, the subject of midnight movie screnings attended by fans who embrace the cinematic atrocity as high-camp hilarity. This must be an example of group psychology taking over and creating an atmosphere of communal delight, because viewed on its own, at home on VOD, TROLL 2 offers few delights, even for dedicated bad movie enthusiasts.
The most distinguishing characterist of TROLL 2 is how across-the-board awful it is. Even bad movies, through sheer luck if nothing else, usually stumble into a good moment or two or at least reveal a brief glimpse of the good intentions that led the filmmakers down the road to cinematic perfidy. TROLL 2, however, is a disaster from start to finish. The performances are stiff and amateurish, except for one or two that are overblown and amateurish. The screenplay (written by Italians) is absurd i its English dialogue (“You can’t piss on hospitality. I won’t allow it!“) and even more so in its premise: in an apparent but rather fuzzy attempt to take a satirical jab at vegetarianism, the script has goblins (which are never called “trolls” in the movie) turn people into plants in order to consume them.
Troll 2If there is any redeeming quality, it is the misguided sincerity of the filmmakers, who apparently believed they were making a serious movie. Except for one ridiculously campy performance, TROLL 2 plays it straight. By not adopting a self-aware attitude about its own ineptitude, TROLLS 2 becomes the inadvertent straight man for the slings and arrows of outraged viewers.
Unfortunately, MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 never screened this aboard the Satellite of Love. There is some consolation in the fact that MST3K alumni Michael J. Nelson created a downloadable RIFFTRAX audio commentary for TROLL 2.
Troll 2 closeupTROLL 2 (1990). Directed by Claudio Fragasso. Written by Rossella Drudi, from a story by Claudio Fragasso. Cast: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Marco Prey, Connie Young, Robert Ormsby, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, David McConnell, Gary Carlson, Mike Hamill, Don Packard.
Troll 2 green goo Troll 2: the inhabitants of Nilbog (that is, "Goblin," spelled backwards) Troll 2: a clueless nerd is seduced by a vampy inhabitant of Nilbog