The Week In Video Part XIV

Thursday, September 13 2012
The Week In Video Part XIV

Our latest missive from what we’ve been watching at home…

The horror continued unabated last week, at times it felt purely like we were watching shocker after shocker, taking in every strand of the genre. It has come from close to home to further afield, has taken in remakes and classic themes, as well as updating the genre too.

We’ll start in South East Asia, and new label Grayson Pictures’ first entry into the market, Curse. The fact that there are new labels coming into our business is always a heartening one, it shows that maybe it’s not all doom and gloom – if there are labels prepared to enter the fray, then it must still be a profitable, or potentially profitable business. The wonderfully named Grayson (named after the alter-ego of Batman’s sidekick Robin, Dick Grayson) is coming to market with the idea to look at films, horror and otherwise, that may not be getting a release the label believes they are due. Curse is a good example of what it wants to work on, it’s from Singapore and is a ghost tale revolving around the military investigating the disappearance of some colleagues and has been in the can for a few years, seemingly without a buyer. Up steps Grayson, looking to give this film a route to market and a wider audience – that alone makes it worthy of more attention. It shows a few touches of inventiveness that overcomes some of its budgetary constraints. And, as the likes of Film4 FrightFest continually shows, horror aficionados have a real interest in what’s happening within the genre from other territories, Curse, which also comes with a strong sleeve, is certainly showing off one of the few entrants from Singapore.

Mention of FrightFest brings us on to another film that aired at this year’s event, The Victim, just out from Anchor Bay. It’s not strictly a horror, more of a kind of revenge  flick, with a distinctly nasty streak running through it. From where we were sitting, it more resembled an old erotic thriller from the late 1980s or early 1990s – and believe us, we watched plenty of those. The sex element gives it one of its selling points, as does the presence of Michael Biehn, who here is on both sides of the camera, as both star and director. Should be a solid performer.

Another more recent entrant into the DTV sector is 101 Films, which has had a relatively low-key history of releasing titles, with some good successes, although it doesn’t crave approval, certainly not from us. We had a look at its recent Night Of The Living Dead Reanimation, a zombie prequel that’s available in 3D on both Blu-ray and DVD. It’s already out and about, and we’ve seen it online and in-stores, it’s another zombie outing, and is a bit, ahem, at the lower end of the scale when it comes to quality. But that’s not important, for Night Of The Living Dead Reanimation is the kind of title that is now found across the shelves of grocers – commercial genre, O-ring sleeve and strong artwork, a relatively new label and lots of interest from consumers. This ticks all those boxes, and the added gimmick of 3D really helps.

Lovely Molly (Metrodome), due in October, is another horror with a strong sleeve, and it brings its own selling points, such as a “from the creators of The Blair Witch Project” line, one that still carries weight within the horror universe. Metrodome has a strong track record with this kind of fare, not least in picking up titles which manage to please both fans of the genre and are a tempting offer to a wider consumer base too. This is from the Paranormal Activity school and it’s watchable fare; again it should offer nice, solid business.

Classic horror this week came from Second Sight, as we sat down and made our way through the best part of the Basket Case trilogy of films, again due in October. We worked our way through this lot in part because we were scheduled to interview director Frank Henenlotter (which we did, expect to see some of the results here and through the FrightFest empire too, he’s a thoroughly nice bloke too). Classic VHS horror given a new high definition friendly lease of life, Second Sight has made a canny acquisition here. Basket Case straddles a few different worlds, from trash and high camp to the more serious low budget filmmaker, these are great films from a bygone era. Following the Arrow Video kind of model, Second Sight has commissioned some new artwork from Graham Humphreys, one of the finest illustrators working in the horror arena and the man behind some of the most seminal images of the last 30 years or more (and a hero of ours ever since he did the cover for The Cramps’ Off The Bone album. This will work well alongside the Arrow Video kind of 80s nasty throwback fare and has stood up surprisingly well.

Our final horror of the week was Cabin In The Woods, due from Lionsgate on September 24. One of the most  talked about genre films of the year, it will undoubtedly be one of the year’s bestselling horror outings too. It shows an ambition beyond most of the genre films you’ll see, aided, no doubt, by the involvement of the pop culture savvy Joss Whedon, always prepared to subvert and twist genre expectations. Lionsgate is putting together some savvy marketing for this release, so expect it to perform strongly.

We’ll end with some online and TV viewing. We’ve spent a lot of the past week on Netflix, working our way through the fourth series of Breaking Bad. In a move that points the way forward for streaming operators, it has the fourth season of the show exclusively ahead of its DVD release, via SPHE, and is making the most of it. With poor television scheduling, the series, a worthy successor to the mantle of being the most-talked about US series among the chattering classes following in the wake of The Wire, is being used as a driver for traffic to Netflix and new sign-ups. It really is that good, and the arrival of Netflix’s exclusive run is pulling in plenty of interest.

Finally, a welcome return for The Thick Of It, the BBC comedy about life behind the scenes in Westminster. Its reputation continues to grow, again this is a keenly debated programme in newspapers such as The Guardian. BBC Worldwide’s release is one of the first from The Thick Of It that ties in neatly with broadcast and it should be able to capitalise on the ever-growing reputation of the show.

And now, we’re off for a coffwee. As stated in The Thick Of It, “that’s coffee with wee in it”.

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