Go behind-the-scenes of some of the very first releases from Scream Factory™ with stories shared by the brand’s creators, Cliff MacMillan (Production and Acquisitions at Shout! Factory) and Jeff Nelson (Senior Director of Marketing at Shout! Factory) in 2017.
JEFF NELSON: The Sentinel is one of my all-time favorite films so be warned for a lengthy review. 🙂
My history with this film is weird. I remember catching it on cable as a teen (not knowing it was cut and re-edited) and liking it. Then I rented it sometime in the 90s and found it unsavory–especially the ending when the denizens of Hell start appearing. I vowed never to look at it again until I saw it on Fearnet years later in 2009. Not sure what happened but it finally clicked and I began showing it to multiple friends, prefacing it by saying, “This film is really f***ed up!”
And it is. Based off a best-selling novel and using a creepy Brooklyn apartment building as a backdrop, director Michael Winner (Death Wish) throws in fashion models, a blind priest, a cat birthday party, daddy issues, sex workers, walking corpses, suicide, masturbation, nose-chopping and more. Just as intriguing is the all-star cast, which may be the biggest in horror film history. Some names include Chris Sarandon, Christopher Walken, Ava Gardner, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, Arthur Kennedy, Beverly D’Angelo, Burgess Meredith, and Sylvia Miles. It’s like a warped episode of The Love Boat.
I couldn’t believe our good fortune when we got to license The Sentinel from Universal, especially since it was cut from one of our early deals with them in the favor of Cat People (which I also loved and sold better). We definitely wanted to make this a “Collector’s Edition” but we were faced with the possibility of little extras (director and many stars deceased, Chris Sarandon turned us down, etc) so we had to make a tough call and not make it one.
Of course Murphy’s Law would kick in and we ended up with a glorious new transfer, an interview and three audio commentaries. My favorite of the three is the one we did with actress Cristina Raines, who came out of hiding (all credit for this goes to Hill Place blogger Shawn Chang). Her experience on the film was miserable with the director unfortunately, but she agreed to talk about it as a “thank you” to her fans.
I’ll probably never understand fully my fascination and obsession with this film (the fact that it premiered on my 5th birthday is a little eerie too) but sometimes it’s best not to over analysis why one enjoys something. If you haven’t seen this unsung mini-classic, then correct that soon!
ARMY OF DARKNESS
CLIFF MACMILLAN: I wanted to create the ultimate edition of Army Of Darkness and with Michael Felsher’s (Red Shirt Pictures) great extras features, I think we did. Yes, there was a hiccup with the production, but sometimes when you are working on such a big set, things happen. Overall, I think it’s a great set and we created one of the best transfers of the film with the help of MGM who had the longer cut.
JEFF NELSON: Cliff & Michael’s efforts plus the enormous popularity of the Evil Dead franchise has made Army Of Darkness one of our biggest sellers that still sells today. Paul Shipper did some great artwork, too.
July 2017 | A new 4K edition was released in October 2022
JEFF NELSON: My first introduction to this old-fashioned shocker was when I was age 9 and my dad took me and my brothers to see Time Bandits in the theater in 1981. A trailer for Ghost Story came on before the film and I was scared out of my mind! (Of course, now I chuckle.)
Another interesting connection is that the film was shot in the state I grew up in – Vermont – and you can really tell with its snowy, small New England town exteriors. Definitely makes me think of “home” whenever I watch it. Our end result exceeded our expectations, largely thanks to Greg Carson who produced some insightful extras with actress Alice Krige, author Peter Straub and more. A solid release for us.
JEFF NELSON: It’s hard not to smile when watching The Car, an amusing mash (& crash) up of Duel and Jaws. I have to wonder what’s audiences thought of this watching its first-run in 1977. As for me, I personally love all of the hokiness this film has to offer. Here’s more than a few reasons why:
– The car honks distinctly as it attacks and after a kill.
– A hitchhiker talks about “farting music” before he flips off the car with his middle finger and then is run over soon afterwards.
– An old Native American woman tries to recount watching the car kill someone to the cops. If this was meant to be a serious scene, you could have fooled me.
– James Brolin has an epic screaming match with R.G. Armstrong in the police station that is one for the books.
– The car, apparently, can’t drive into a cemetery. Several students and teachers take refuge in one and one of the teachers taunts the car by calling it “chicken sh*t” and another yells “tadpole!” (Or “cat poo” depending on how you hear it).
– Brolin’s daughters are played by future Beverly Hills Housewives Kyle Richards and Kim Richards.
– Brolin’s girlfriend is alternately cool and hysterically annoying—as witnessed in a scene in which she grabs Brolin’s balls and does a Cagney impersonation.
I could go on.
We really wanted The Car to be a “Collector’s Edition,” but we couldn’t once we learned Brolin and the other leads were not possible for extras. We were perplexed (just as some of you were) as to why we couldn’t use the original theatrical poster for our artwork– hence why we had Justin Osbourn fashion up new art. Every film we work on has its own “personality” and this was no exception. Still pleased with the end result, especially the sharp transfer.
THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW
JEFF NELSON: I have mixed emotions about The Serpent And The Rainbow. It was the 5th Wes Craven film that we had acquired, and the original plan was to have The People Under The Stairs, Shocker, and The Serpent And The Rainbow all release around the same time in the Summer of 2015 (with early talks of Wes coming to Comic-Con to sign them). Unfortunately, we learned that Mr. Craven was battling health issues and couldn’t come to the table for more involvement. We delayed the film to 2016 in the hopes that he would get better so he could participate but it was sadly not the case.
The Serpent And The Rainbow is an unusual film. I remember seeing it in the theaters first-run and sort of liking it for some elements and then sort of not for others. (I still feel this way.) The voodoo backdrop – which was big in the late 80s at this time with other films like The Believers and Angel Heart – is certainly captivating and is what always draws me back to it for another look.
I think my favorite thing about our release (other than that we respectfully dedicated it to Wes) is artist Joel Robinson’s gorgeous new illustration that is colorful, detailed and really plays into the title. He’s done a lot of amazing work for us over the years but, to me, this is his shining moment.
JEFF NELSON: My first memory of The Crush was seeing the trailer for it before a screening of the Bridget Fonda film Point of No Return. The audience and I erupted in laughter and I knew I would have to see it opening weekend. I saw it a couple of times in fact. (Corey Haim sat a couple of rows behind me with some friends of his.)
The Crush is fun and followed a long list of “Stranger from Hell” pseudo horror-thrillers that came out in the early 90s (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Single White Female, etc). Alicia Silverstone (pre-Clueless) steals the show in the lead as the tarty villain and definitely makes life miserable for her neighbor Cary Elwes (whose accent slips in and out throughout the film).
We acquired the film through Morgan Creek (in the same deal as The Exorcist III and Bad Moon) and had high hopes for it. Unfortunately, Silverstone and Elwes were unavailable for extras, nor could we present the “Darian” audio version of the film due to legal matters. Still, genre vet Jennifer Rubin (Bad Dreams) came to the table to participate along with director Alan Shapiro and actor Kurtwood Smith, and they all provided some fascinating insight.
THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
CLIFF MACMILLAN: The Return Of The Living Dead has always been one of my favorite horror films. A perfect blend of scares, gore and humor. It was fun to be able to release this one. I think our new transfer is great and we added some exciting new extra features along with all the existing great special features including the fantastic documentary MORE BRAINS.
JEFF NELSON: The Return Of The Living Dead is probably one of my favorite zombie films next to the original Night of the Living Dead. I remember renting it as a teen and being pleasantly surprised at the perfect balance of horror and comedy (which is not always an easy task to pull off). Favorite scene is the part where the ambulance turns on the headlights in the cemetery and the zombies are just standing there. Very creepy.
We wanted to do something special for the film aside from the actual discs and content so we created a limited-edition deluxe site-offer only that consisted of an additional poster and slipcover with different art. This proved so successful that we offered similar deals for releases of Carrie, The Thing, Child’s Play and Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Highlight of the project was bringing actors Thom Matthews and John Philbin down to Comic-Con for a signing at our booth. Both gentlemen were gracious and easy-going and fans had a great time with them.
October 2017 | The original Blu-ray is out of print, but a 4K was released October 2022
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