My too frequent C-grade reviews of big summer tentpole films has me targeted as a film snob critic around these parts, but my movie-loving formative years were spent taking in all manner of genre films from horror & sci-fi to action & thrillers to straight up exploitation. If I had to pick just one genre though my heart belongs unapologetically to horror. It’s for this reason that Shout! Factory’s genre arm, Scream Factory, has quickly become on of my favorite release labels.
They do more than simply release horror movies though. The folks at Scream Factory lather their own love for the movies all over their releases, and that’s evident in the effort they put in and the affection they earn from fans. Not every title is a winner, but there’s very little I would change about them and the keepers far outweigh the occasional duds. (I do wish their titles featured spine numbers, but on the bright side their absence means I don’t have to keep a copy of Dead Souls.)
They have a habit of delivering a strong mix of beloved classics and lesser-known titles, often with new artwork and a bevy of extras. 2014 looks to be an incredibly big year for them, and while their fall releases (Nightbreed, Lord of Illusions, Pumpkinhead) have me salivating their recently announced “Summer of Fear” is equally as exciting. They have sixteen titles scheduled from May through August, and all but two of them are bloody finger blasts from the past guaranteed to leave horror fans gleefully satisfied.
Keep reading for a look at the titles in Scream Factory’s “Summer of Fear,” most of which are hitting Blu-ray for the very first time.
- Final Exam (1981) – An obvious attempt to cash in on the success of Friday the 13th, this early ’80s slasher moves the action from a summer camp to a school campus. The bottom line remains the same though as nubile young ladies and their lesser halves meet the sharp ends of various instruments. – 5/13/14
- Evilspeak (1981) – The rare Clint Howard film not also starring his brother or father, this supernatural revenge tale is most memorable to me as being the one I always confuse with Fear No Evil. – 5/13
- Nosferatu (1979) – Shout! Factory is releasing an entire set of Werner Herzog films, and his Klaus Kinski-led remake of F.W. Murnau’s vampire classic is getting its own standalone release. – 5/20
- House in the Alley (2012) – The first of two contemporary releases, this is a Vietnamese ghost story about a young expectant couple who lose their unborn baby to a miscarriage. Then the terror begins. – 5/27
- Sleepaway Camp *Collector’s Edition* (1983) – Who can forget seeing the ending to this very special movie for the first time? No one. No one can forget. – 5/27
- Ravenous (1999) – Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle head an incredible cast in a film that deserves any and every eyeball and eardrum it can get. The late Antonia Bird’s film is a wildly entertaining mix of suspense and black comedy accompanied by one hell of a fantastic score. – 6/3
- The Monkey’s Paw (2013) – This second new release is an unknown entity to me aside from the source story, but the script from Blue Ruin star Macon Blair and a cast that includes Stephen Lang and Charles S. Dutton are enough reasons to watch. – 6/17
- The Final Terror (1983) – Rachel Ward, Darryl Hannah, Joe Pantoliano and Adrian Zmed star in this tale of forest-set slaughter, and while I have vague memories of seeing this cast in this scenario I can’t picture a single scene. – 7/1
- Lake Placid *Collector’s Edition* (1999) – You can pretty much never go wrong with giant crocodile fun, at least until they started churning out CGI-filled sequels to this fun and lively nature-gone-amok flick. Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda (remember her?) and Oliver Platt star alongside a pre-ubiquitous Betty White. – 7/8
- Deadly Eyes (1982) – The theme continues with this early ’80s thriller about killer rats based on the James Herbert bestseller. If you knew nothing about the production aside from the fact that dachshunds were dressed up as rats for some of the wide shots, that should be enough of a reason to give this one a shot. – 7/15
- Ginger Snaps *Collector’s Edition* (2000) – Who knew a coming-of-age tale from Canada would strike such an intense chord with horror fans? The werewolf narrative is given a refreshing spin in John Fawcett’s film, and the result is a more affecting take on lycanthropy than we’re used to. – 7/22
- Phantom of the Paradise *Collector’s Edition* (1974) – Brian De Palma’s fun and campy riff on Phantom of the Opera received a fantastic release from Arrow Films in the UK recently, but Scream Factory has already raised the stakes by reuniting the in-movie band, The Juicy Fruits for one of the special features.
- Motel Hell *Collector’s Edition* (1980) – At the risk of losing my credibility I have to say I will never understand the love for this goofy horror flick. People love this movie about wacky farmers and their cannibalistic tendencies, but it all just falls so flat for me.
- Leviathan (1989) – In a year that saw three relatively high profile underwater thrillers, this George P. Cosmatos monster movie was definitely one of them. The Abyss and Deep Star Six were the other two, but neither of them starred Peter Weller and Daniel Stern.
- The Legend of Hell House (1973) – Richard Matheson’s fantastic novel comes to wonderfully chilling life in this John Hough-directed classic starring Roddy McDowell as a psychic asked to return to a haunted house that he already barely escaped once before.
- Without Warning (1980) – A tall alien creature (brought to life by Kevin Peter Hall) arrives on earth and proceeds to stalk and kill a group of people with its disc-like weaponry. You’re probably more familiar with the story after it was unceremoniously re-purposed for John McTiernan’s Predator, but this Schwarzenegger-free original boasts an equally fun cast and a mere fraction of that film’s budget.
As with any label, Scream Factory’s summer slate is subject to change — they already had to temporarily postpone their planned release of Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers — but as of right now the above listing is good to go. Pre-order the films from Amazon and keep an eye here and at Scream Factory’s Facebook page for any updates.