No matter what else Brian Yuzna has done or will do in his career, he’ll forever hold a spot in the horror hall of fame thanks to his involvement on Stuart Gordon’s classic Re-Animator. The film is gory, funny, perverted, and over the top and remains one of the best horror-comedies ever made. Yuzna went on to write and direct several of his own films as well as form a production company in Spain called Fantastic Factory. Nine films were produced under the label from 2000 through 2006, and Arrow Video has packaged four of them together in a box set for your viewing pleasure.

The included movies are Arachnid, Beyond Re-Animator, Faust: Love of the Damned, and Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt. And yes, the unfortunate lady reduced to T&A above can be found in one of them.

The Movies:

Arachnid

A pilot goes missing on a deserted island and a group of rescuers, scientists, and adventurers head there with disastrous consequences. (And by “disastrous” I’m referring to the movie as well as their fate.) They arrive and discover that some of the island’s insect inhabitants have evolved beyond their usual size… well beyond, and they’re hungry for human flesh! The gang starts getting picked off one by one culminating in a face-off against a car-sized arachnid in a web-covered jungle.

The best quality comparison here is with a typical Saturday night SyFy Channel monster movie. The acting and script are fairly bad, but the one area where it improves on it’s TV brethren is in the effects. SyFy has become quite comfortable using terrible CGI to create their creatures of choice, but director Jack Sholder’s (The Hidden) monster spider flick goes the practical route with far more entertaining results. There aren’t a lot of beasties on display, but the ones that are here are big, tangible, and frightening enough. There’s also a pretty gross but fun tick scene with the not-so-little buggers busting out of a guy’s skin.

Beyond Re-Animator

Eighteen years after Stuart Gordon’s original Re-Animator director Brian Yuzna brings Herbert West’s (Jeffrey Combs) bloody antics back to the screen. West is serving time in prison after the events of the earlier sequel, Bride Of Re-Animator, but just because he’s behind bars doesn’t mean he’s not still trying to reanimate dead things. Not surprisingly things get out of hand, the evil warden does his best Dr. Hill impression, and soon both the living and the dead are taking part in a violent prison riot.

This second sequel comes nowhere near the brilliant audacity of the original, but Combs and some good ‘n messy practical effects help keep things entertaining enough. There are some fun moments throughout including a guy whose gut explodes in a shower of wet grue and a zombie without a bottom jaw, but it lacks the WTF scenes of the original. As with the earlier sequel the film’s biggest fault is its lack of a darkly comic edge. There are some dialogue lines and physical gags meant to extort a chuckle or two, but they feel forced and ultimately unfunny. Ultimately your appreciation of this movie will probably come down to the always enjoyable Combs’ and some puppetry of the grotesque.

Faust: Love Of the Damned

John Jaspers sees the love of his life murdered most horrendously and is himself left for dead, but an offer from a mysterious man gives him the opportunity and means for revenge… at the cost of his very soul! Did he learn nothing from South Park‘s Human Centipad episode? Always read the fine print! Jaspers is forced to take on the persona of a horned avenger who can only be satisfied through acts of bloody murder.

The idea here is a good one as it combines the classic concept of a deal with the devil alongside the always enjoyable revenge story, but goddamn the execution here is for shit. Jeffrey Combs’ appearance as a side-burned cop is a brilliant bit of casting and the wonderfully gooey effects work from Screaming Mad George are fantastic, but everything else about this movie is painful to watch. The acting is pretty terrible, the heavy metal soundtrack is excessively annoying, the script is convoluted, the protagonist is an entirely unlikeable douche, and the action is so small scale as to be bland and uninteresting.

Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt

Mutilated corpses are found in the Spanish countryside, and the main suspect is the growing wolf population… at least until a renowned doctor discovers scalpel marks on the latest body. Manuel Romasanta (Julian Sands) is a traveling salesman with a port in every village. And by port I mean woman. He’s also becomes the prime suspect after killing a woman’s sisters before beginning a relationship with her, but when she discovers he’s the killer the authorities are shocked by his lycanthropic defense.

Paco Plaza (Rec) directs this beautifully shot and presented tale that’s more serial killer thriller than straight horror. A fantastic scene with a carriage on fire racing through the night is just one of the many highlights which also includes some wonderfully gory effects work and a very sexy bathtub scene with Elsa Pataky (the hot Brazilian lady cop in Fast Five). There’s also an unusual transformation from wolf to man which is well done via practical effects. The final strength of the film is its basis in history as a surprisingly true story. Fantastic film and easily the best entry in this set.

The DVDs:

Arrow Video has lovingly packaged each of the four films in their own DVD case then packed them all into a sturdy box (pictured to the right). As is now standard practice with Arrow, each film comes with a poster, a booklet, and a second cover sleeve option. *Please note, these are Region 2 releases so you will need a region-free player or be okay with watching them on your PC.

Arachnid Special Features
- King of the Spiders – Brian Yuzna remembers Arachnid
- Creature Comforts: The Monster Mayhem of Steve Johnson
- Original Trailer
- Collector’s booklet ‘Spider Man’ and interview with director Jack Sholder by author and critic Calum Waddell

Beyond Re-Animator Special Features
- Audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna
- ‘All in the Head’ Brian Yuzna on the Re-Animator Chronicles
- Original Trailer
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork
- Collector’s booklet featuring ‘World of Lovecraft’ and an Interview with star Jeffrey Combs by author and critic Calum Waddell as well as an extract from H.P. Lovecraft’s original story ‘Herbert West: ReAnimator’
- Reversible sleeve featuring brand new and original artwork

Faust: Love of the Damned Special Features
- Audio Commentary with director Brian Yuzna
- Director of the Damned: Brian Yuzna, Faust and the Fantastic Factory
- The Pain in Spain A History of Horror in Hot Weather with Angel Sala, director of the Sitges Film Festival
- Original Trailer
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork
- Collector’s booklet ‘Brian Yuzna: Maestro of Mayhem’ by author and critic Calum Waddell
- Reversible sleeve featuring brand new and original artwork

Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt Special Features
- Romasanta: Lycanthropes, Lunacy and the Last Days of The Fantastic Factory
- Making Romasanta: Interviews with director Paco Plaza, stars Julian Sands, Elsa Pataky and John Sharian.
- Interview with composer Mikel Salas
- Deleted Scenes with introduction and commentary by director Paco Plaza
- A featurette on the S/FX design in Romasanta
- Original Trailer
- Collector’s booklet ‘Sex, Sun and Sinful Celluloid’ by author and critic Calum Waddell

The Bottom Line:

Fantastic Factory Presents is a mixed bag (or box I guess) of the great (Romasanta), the okay (Beyond Re-Animator), and the utterly terrible (Arachnid and Faust). Genre fans and completists will want to pick it up as it is a well produced package, but the alternative is to cherry pick only the films you want. Arrow Video has already or will be releasing each of the four movies individually. Whichever route you choose, Romasanta is definitely worth the effort.

- Buy Arrow Video’s Fantastic Factory Presents box set from Amazon UK (and support FSR in the process!)


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