In no particular order here's some of the catalog releases from the previous year that made me feel all warm & giddy inside.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 40th Anniversary 1974 (Dark Sky Blu) After 40 years of sequels, prequels, re-boots and remakes of varying lesser quality nothing has diminished Tobe Hopper's original claustrophobic & sweat soaked horror classic (along with a surprising undercurrent of dark comedy that becomes more apparent with each viewing). A new transfer from the 16mm negative brings forth the hellish proceedings in startlingly clarity and plus there's some nifty new extras. Made all the more poignant by the passing of star Marilyn Burns earlier in 2014.
GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS Vol. 4 (Nucleus Region 2 DVD) I love trailer compilations and this ongoing series from Nucleus has consistently been some of the best. Vol. 4 contains some real treasures including a long lost (but soon to be released) piece of Arthur Mark's 1970's output THE ROOMMATES, CRAZY JOE (Peter Boyle as power hungry psycho gangster), the early Charlie Band effort MANSION OF THE DOOMED (Richard Basehart as a mad scientist & a young Lance Henriksen), THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT (Rosalba Neri !) and the "has to be seen to be believed" LITTLE CIGARS. Vol. 1 in the series has recently gotten a region 1 release so hopefully the rest will follow.
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE 1973 (Scream Factory Blu) A sure contender as one of the greatest horror movies of the 70's, this along with the recent releases of THE HAUNTING (1963), THE UNINVITED (1944) and 1961's THE INNOCENTS (see below -which along with this makes a nifty dbl. feature) falls into that wonderful category of "turn out the lights and settle in" haunted house movies. Featuring a wonderful performance by Pamela Franklin (again see below's THE INNOCENTS) as a medium who's part of a team of researchers sent in to investigate "the Mount Everest of haunted houses". Also boasting a nail biting claustrophobic script by Richard Matheson (from his well worth reading novel HELL HOUSE) along with some truly unsettling set pieces and sequences (all those unnerving close-ups) and a crackerjack cast including Roddy McDowall, Clive Revill , Gayle Hunnicutt and a rather unique "cameo" by Michael Gough.
MESSIAH OF EVIL 1973 (Code Red Blu) Long a staple of shoddy PD releases this was put out on a now OOP DVD several years ago by Code Red and this year they re-visited it on blu-ray. One of the greatest American horror films of the 70's, husband and wife screenwriters Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz (AMERICAN GRAFFITI) co-directed and co-wrote this creepy & unsettling low budget combination of a European art film and 70's drive-in horror (with a touch of H.P. Lovecraft). Marianna Hill travels to a desolate California coastal town to investigate the disappearance of her artist father played by the great Royal Dano (whose unforgettable voice provides the narration). One of the many superb touches in Huyck and Katz's screenplay is the way that they take situations which we all have found creepy (being the only one in a late night grocery store & and the lone patron in a movie theatre) and then slowly elevate them to horror.
In closing here's a few goodies we're looking forward to in 2015.
THE ROOMMATES - Starring Pat Woodell and Roberta Collins and originally released in 1973 (and now announced by Gorgon Video paired with A WOMAN FOR ALL MEN) this missing piece in the filmography of Arthur Marks has been a long time coming.
1990 : THE BRONX WARRIORS, ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX and THE NEW BARBARIANS - Blue Underground has announced this really cool set on blu (with a multitude of extras) of Enzo G. Castellari's post apocalyptic 1980's MAD MAX/ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK knock-offs. With the upcoming release of the new Mad Max we can (hopefully) look forward to a plethora of these entertainingly cheesy Italian rip-offs being released.
BLOOD AND BLACK LACE - Plagued in the past by several dodgy DVD releases, Arrow have just announced a brand spankin' new edition of this Bava classic over at their Facebook page. Featuring some of Bava's most deliriously hypnotic camera work and use of color this will feature a slew of new extras and a "New 2K restoration from the original camera negative". Plus, with Arrow's new U.S. distribution arm this will be available stateside in Region A.
A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL - More Spanish horror on blu-ray is always a good thing and this 1973 shocker has been announced by Scorpion as a direct sale only title (with the DVD available through the usual outlets). Also known as IT HAPPENED AT THE NIGHTMARE INN this intriguing thriller has been lurking around in those those multi-disc PD horror collections over the years in various running times. Concerning a pair of religiously psychotic sisters who operate a boardinghouse and who's tenants periodically disappear, which prompts Judy Geeson to investigate (with her sister being among the missing).
MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE - Grindhouse has really been crankin' them out lately and this long promised slice of low budget pasta has long been promised and now has a solid release date. Dean Martin wanna be crooner Duke Mitchell (who earlier had teamed with Sonny Petrillo for an (in)famous Marin & Lewis rip-off comedy duo) wrote, directed and stars in this homemade MEAN STREETS style homage from 1978. Grindhouse has also promised Mitchell's equally insane GONE WITH THE POPE for later this year.