Scream Factory takes great care to present classic horror movies in the best possible quality. Their ability to take films from the 90s, 80s and even 70s and then modernize them is impressive. Plus, the fact that movies can look modernized while still retaining their original visual aesthetic makes sci-fi releases a work of art.
From discovering new favorite horrors to mountains of bonus features, Blu-rays from this sub-label of Shout! Factory are worthy buys for horror aficionados of the world. What are their best releases from the 70s?
Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)
Orca: the killer whale isn’t the best imitation of a certain movie that shouldn’t be watched on ships, but it’s close.
Killer whale has several qualities that make it a midnight favorite. The film’s similarities with Jaws are noticeable, but somewhat endearing. There’s also a dynamite performance by Richard Harris, who earns every dollar of his salary. In fact, he notoriously took umbrage at comparisons with Jaws, finding that he reminds a lot more Moby-dick. As for the disc, there are no new bonus features, but Killer whale is always a nice addition to a young SF collection.
The City That Dreaded the Sunset (1976)
The city that dreaded the sunset was an early version of Scream Factory, and it comes with some cool features. The first is the second disc, which is a DVD copy of a similar but less important movie titled The evictors.
Dreaded sunset is an intentionally filthy film at the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so there is little that high definition can do about it. Considering that, the movie looks exactly like it should. Plus, the affordability of this version makes it a good starting point for collectors, provided they can handle its sometimes overwhelming realism.
WillardThe availability of Scream Factory itself puts it at the top of the 1970s versions of Scream Factory. Barely available on DVD, it was also the film’s first time on Blu-ray.
The fact that it is presented via a 4K scan and that it contains a commentary with lead actor Bruce Davison (X Men) makes it even more attractive. The following, Ben (1972), and Willard (2003) with Crispin Glover, are also available from Scream Factory. Michael Jackson performed the title song for Ben, while the 2003 version was an underrated psychological horror film and arguably Glover’s best leading role to date.
Invasion of the Body Thieves (1978)
The 2016 Collector’s Edition created for Invasion of the Body Thieves is impressive and a worthy addition to an SF collection, if it can be found. Firstly, the cover art is odd and perfectly captures the tone of the film.
Then there are the bonus features; Like most Scream Factory Blu-rays, the new analysis is a significant improvement over the previous version from another distributor. It also contains a plethora of interviews, most notably with Brooke Adams (The dead zone).
Black Christmas (1974)
Bob Clark’s Black christmas has inspired other horror films for good reason; it’s one of the scariest movies of all time. The atmospheric visuals and creepy phone calls that benefited from lower quality VHS and DVD views are preserved in their entirety throughout the Collector’s Edition.
On the downside, it’s a version almost devoid of new bonus features, but it’s an example of how some versions of Scream Factory can feel like reviewing a classic for the first time. Plus, the cover is among the best in Shout! The factory horror wing.
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Few people will jump in defense of Exorcist II: The Heretic compared to the original, or even to The Exorcist III. However, it receives a premium release with two versions of the film.
One is the theatrical version while the other is the one that was cut shortly before the film’s release. About 16 minutes longer than the cinema version, admittedly not a massive improvement, but it does add some consistency. The 118-minute version also includes a director’s commentary with John Boorman (King Kong).
Prophecy is almost a great horror movie, but it gets bogged down in moralizing and even downright unnecessary subplots. As it stands, however, it’s a cute little creature featuring RockyIt’s Talia Shire.
The monster bear from the movie doesn’t hold up in terms of fear, but once it kicks in, it becomes a pretty wild race. Movie quality aside, the disc is filled with interviews featuring Shire, lead actor Robert Foxworth, writer, and special effects makeup artists.
The great adaptation of Brian De Palma from Stephen King Carrie has been released on Blu-ray before, but it didn’t contain any bonuses other than a cinematic trailer. The Scream Factory release has all the special features of the DVD release plus new interviews with Piper Laurie (“Margaret White”), Nancy Allen (“Chris Hargensen”), William Katt (“Tommy Ross”) and PJ Soles (“Norma Watson”).
There was also a Wal-Mart exclusive version that came with Misery. However, two feature films on a single disc will still cause compression issues, even if the quality is already higher.
King Kong (1976)
The highest grossing action film in the year it was released, King Kong also works pretty well as a pure horror movie. Unlike a few other incarnations of the character, John Boorman’s is spooky and guided by some notable animatronics.
King Kong could possibly be considered one of Scream Factory’s most publicized releases and certainly ranks among the best in terms of ’70s movies. The Collector’s Edition is filled with interviews, mostly with the great Rick Baker and many other members of the film’s production team. It’s a remake with a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes information, so every mini-doc is welcome. Like a cherry on top of the ice cream sundae, the outing is loaded with the 3 hour TV cup. However, it works more like a one-off curiosity watch.
Scream Factory released the first 10 movies in 2014 as a very cool box set that unfortunately costs around $ 500 now. The recent group release of the first five installments in 4K is a worthy and breathtaking tribute to the release of Halloween kills.
Carpenter’s original gets a new 4K scan of the original negative and it sits above the Standard Edition released by Artisan and Lionsgate in 2018. The sequels also get new scans and Dolby Atmos tracks. This is the third round of SF with Halloween ii and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. These two parts of the franchise were actually the first two Blu-ray releases of Scream Factory. Halloween 4 receives arguably the biggest increase in quality, but it is Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers which has the best bonus features. On the Blu-ray disc are uncut footage as well as the alternate opening scene that was lost to view. The packaging of the five films is also remarkable. A book-worthy presentation with sturdy construction, they look great headlining any Scream Factory collection alongside the Friday 13 collection.
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