Go behind-the-scenes of Scream Factory™’s very first releases with stories shared by Scream Factory™ creators Cliff MacMillan (Production and Acquisitions at Shout! Factory) and Jeff Nelson (Senior Director of Marketing at Shout! Factory) in 2017.
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
CLIFF MACMILLAN: Phantom Of The Paradise is one of my all-time favorite films. I had it on VHS, laserdisc, and DVD… I might have even had it on beta. I asked Fox for this film many times and they finally allowed it to be licensed out. One of the best things that happen while working on this one, was the day an email popped up in my inbox from Guillermo Del Toro. At first I figured it had to be a joke, but nope, it was Guillermo asking if we’d include his interview with Paul Williams…. Of course the answer back was “Hell yes!” So I got to work on one of my favorite films and I traded emails with one of my favorite directors.
JEFF NELSON: We were fortunate and honored to get our first Brian De Palma film into our line-up. Justin Osbourn did an incredible job with the new artwork and captured the color and unconventional vibe of the film perfectly. We were also very lucky to get Jessica Harper, Paul Williams and Gerrit Graham to participate. This was a solid seller for us.
JEFF NELSON: I f*cking love Motel Hell! Was really jazzed when I learned we had acquired this one. I remember renting it on VHS as a teen at my Dad’s place and thinking “what IS this weird movie?” Years later I grew to appreciate it more and even bought the theatrical poster to have framed. To me, it’s all about the character of Ida–played to the hilt by Nancy Parsons (Porky’s). She’s a scream, as is Elaine Joyce (The Match Game), who plays a whip-cracking swinger. Also great lines (“Meat’s meat and man’s gotta eat) and wacky premise of what’s in Farmer Vincent’s fritters makes this an easy one to enjoy.
Nathan Thomas Milliner did total justice on our new key art on this one, especially the image of the pig-masked killer jutting out a suggestively big chainsaw! (Which felt like a nod to the classic Fangoria cover). We also scored highly with extras too. Sales were a little slower than expected out of the gate but we made up ground over the years.
CLIFF MACMILLAN: I think I’ve always liked the poster more than the film, but while working on the release I appreciated the film much more. Filmmaker Dave Parker is a big fan of the film and he did a great job moderating the commentary with director Kevin Connor. I wish Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons were around for interviews, but I think we were able to put together a nice package of extras.
CLIFF MACMILLAN: I do love Pumpkinhead and I’ve owned it in every incarnation – VHS, laserdisc, DVD – so it was one I really wanted to acquire and work on. Lance Henriksen puts in one of his best performances. Michael Felsher (Red Shirt Pictures) really put together some great interviews including “Finding Little Billy” and a great one hour documentary on the film. I wish Stan Winston had been with us to do an interview. He really created a horror classic.
JEFF NELSON: Pumpkinhead is one of those movies that I like quite a bit (and I watch every October) but…I always felt it had a title that just didn’t do it justice and hampered it being taken more seriously. (My high-school friend and I still joke about it to this day… just made us laugh I guess). Excellent effects (the witch in particular), creepy atmosphere and an appropriate cause for revenge all add up perfectly. Our release went smoothly and it strong enough for us to entertain its sequel down the road.
NIGHTBREED: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT
CLIFF MACMILLAN: Taking on Nightbreed was, as a horror fan, a dream assignment, but it certainly gave me some nightmares. Everyone said the footage was gone, but some pallets were found in a salt mine. Going through pallets of film was quite an endeavor, but on the first night, we found some of the stop motion footage and we knew that the footage did in fact exist. Though it was a tiring and laborious project, the end result is something special. We were able to bring Clive Barker’s original vision to life.
JEFF NELSON: I definitely remembered seeing this wild film in theaters during opening week with a friend of mine. The make-up effects were (and still are) gross and effective but the impression that lasted the most with me was the character of “Buttonface.” He was so creepy that I had sometime wished he had a horror film spin-off that was devoted just to him.
Our rollout for Nightbreed kept me on my toes, the true definition of a rollercoaster ride from the very beginning. When we announced at our first Comic-Con in 2013, I literally was told the deal signed 30 minutes before we went public. It was afterwards that I learned that all we had was VHS footage and we didn’t have the theatrical cut either. I panicked as to how we were going to pull this off. Luckily Cliff, our partners at Morgan Creek and Clive Barker’s team (Mark Miller spearheading) were able to harness their energies and the universe saw fit to getting us access to the long-lost footage in HD quality. Plus, credit to Warner Brothers for be open to negotiate the theatrical cut too.
The process to transfer all this footage and re-edit was an enormous project… both from a resource and financial standpoint. Our decision to split the release into two (one being a higher-priced limited numbered 3-disc set) was met with controversy (what else is new? Lol) but it was necessary to do in order to provide fans with the theatrical cut plus offset costs to a degree. The strategy worked and Nightbreed went on to selling very strong for us. Lots of lessons learned on this film… it was equal parts daunting and gratifying.
CLASS OF 1984
CLIFF MACMILLAN: Class Of 1984 was one of my favorite revenge films. I remember renting the film on VHS from Vestron. I’ve been a fan of director Mark Lester since I saw Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw on Showtime, so it was fun to work on one of his films. We later did Firestarter and I was able to work with him again. I sure wish we could release Class of 1999 or Showdown In Little Tokyo. Maybe someday.
JEFF NELSON: One of my favorite “revenge/exploitation” films from the ‘80s (and one that would make an excellent triple-bill with Vigilante and Savage Streets). Timothy Van Patten plays the privileged & rich punk asshole character so well that your blood will boil at times. Truly evil. Perry King’s tipping point at the end feels so justified that you’ll find yourself clapping at parts during it.
We were fortunate to get this film and secure super new interviews with King, Lisa Langlois (“Elizabeth Taylor!”) and more from the cast. Director Mark Lester was also very cooperative. Justin Osbourn did an amazing job with the art and it’s one of my personal favorites of his. (Even though no interpretation will ever beat the original theatrical one-sheet IMO). I also had a lot of fun live-screening this on Twitter in our “Love is in the Scare” promo in 2016… and the interactions with other fans of the film were priceless.
CLIFF MACMILLAN: The Babadook was one of our early IFC releases and we were honored to be able to release such a chilling film. A film of this caliber doesn’t come to you very often. It’s been one of our best-selling titles and it continues to sell to this day.
JEFF NELSON: All I can really say is “WOW!” To date, this is still the biggest-selling title in the Scream Factory roster (and by a large margin I might add.) I remember this release — the first in our on-going IFC Midnight deals — came in really fast and with tons of hype already behind it. And I will go on record saying that I believe we added more fuel to the fire with our special fold-out packaging on our Collector’s Edition version (which I personally thank our Creative team in pushing through). The film itself, of course, was well done and chilling from both a “boogeyman” and a psychological perspective. Its success was warranted and we were lucky to have been part of such a modern horror classic.
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
CLIFF MACMILLAN: I was very happy when MGM agreed to allow us to create a special edition of Escape From New York since it’s a sci-fi/action classic. Since I’m a big John Carpenter fan, it’s always great to work on one of his films. I think we created some great extras to compliment the ones from the earlier MGM DVD special edition. It was great to interview Joe Unger, whose scenes were edited out of the film, and we produced a special feature on the visual effects.
JEFF NELSON: I kid you not, I still get the chills every time the opening credits for Escape From New York comes on with the computer graphics of NYC. (“The rules are simple. Once you go in, you don’t come out.”) I love it so much that I felt it was important to somehow convey on the original Collector’s Edition art (one of designer Paul Shipper’s best IMO). I remember watching this as a kid after Halloween and The Fog and thinking “This is not horror enough” for me and I kind of (unfairly) dismissed it after that first viewing. But I kept coming back and renting it all the same. The soundtrack was – and still is – a big part of the allure for me and John Carpenter and Alan Howarth are at the top of their game here with it. Of course, the characters depicted is what makes it fun and compelling. From Snake to the Duke and his wild-haired sidekick Romero, to Cabbie and Maggie (My favorite scene is her shooting down the Duke on the bridge. Don’t mess with her!). Even Season Hubley’s short stint as the “Girl in Chock Full of Nuts” is interesting. The ending with seconds to go on Snake’s watch is intense and well-executed…as is the final “f off” twist that Snake delivers before the end credits. It’s a classic for a reason…and I love it.
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