5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2013
What's the Matter with Helen? - Helen and Adelle are suffering from intense media attention and a threatening phone caller, after their sons are convicted of the brutal murder of a middle-aged woman. They decide to leave Iowa and set up a dance academy in Hollywood for young girls that dream of stardom, but the religious and unstable Helen begins to lose her mind when Adelle falls for the charms of the rich and suave Lincoln Palmer. Things get worse when Helen becomes convinced that the threatening phone caller has tracked them down.
Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters both give very good performances as Adelle and Helen, Winters is especially effective as Helen as we see her slowly lose her grip on reality. Dennis Weaver who is best known from TV show McCloud and the fantastic Steven Spielberg film, Duel, is really fun to watch as Lincoln. He's extremely southern, extremely rich and very entertaining. Micheál MacLiammóir is funny as the larger than life Hamilton Starr who works at Adelle's dance academy as an elocution teacher, and Agnes Moorehead has a small but interesting role as evangelist Sister Alma. The film really reminded me of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, after the film was finished I looked online and discovered that the screenplay was by Henry Farrell, who wrote the novel of Baby Jane and the screenplay for Hush...Hush. This film isn't quite as good as the other two, but it's still very good. It's well directed by Curtis Harrington, and it was nominated for an Oscar for best costume design. Strangely one of the character's in the film just disappears, and I've read that a murder at the end of the film was much more gruesome which leads me to believe this is possibly a cut version. If so, it's likely that the missing footage no longer exists anyway. I actually already owned What's the Matter with Helen? in the Midnite Movies double feature with Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? The transfer seems to be the same one used for that, and is in very good shape as the film looks mostly excellent. The colours are oversaturated but I believe that's intentional and not a fault of the transfer, no extras.
The Vagrant - Graham Krakowski is a young businessman, who has just bought a house even though he can barely afford it. When he's moving in he sees a vagrant leaving his kitchen, startled by the incident, his friend puts a new lock on the door and assures Graham that he won't be back. Graham later has a creepy run-in with the vagrant and calls the police, but when the vagrant is released, Graham is targeted by the vagrant and drove to the brink of madness.
Bill Paxton is great as Graham, he's very convincing as he changes from a smartly dressed, ambitious businessman to a rough looking mess of a man. Michael Ironside is great as always as Lt. Ralf Barfuss who is absolutely convinced that Graham is responsible for all the things he's accusing the vagrant of, and Marshall Bell is really creepy and almost completely unrecognisable as the vagrant. He's a very underrated actor and manages to be highly entertaining here without saying much. Colleen Camp has a small role as a sex-crazed real estate agent. The film is well directed by Chris Walas, Walas was the special effects and/or make-up artist on films like Piranha, Scanners, Gremlins, Enemy Mine, The Fly and Arachnophobia. He had a short lived directorial career with The Fly II, The Vagrant and an episode of Tales from the Crypt. The film surprisingly had a budget of $9,500,000. I loved The Vagrant, it's a horror comedy that is both creepy and funny. I feel the problem some people may have with the film is the tone, the film switches from creepy to funny quite awkwardly at times, one minute it's genuinely unnerving and the next it's almost a slapstick comedy, but it didn't bother me at all. The Vagrant makes its debut on DVD in this set, and for the most part it looks really nice, only faltering in a few very dark scenes. A great film, a very nice transfer, no extras.
The Godsend - An English family of six take a strange, young pregnant woman into their home when they meet her while out walking. The woman goes into labour and gives birth, but the following morning she is gone, leaving the family to raise the baby girl as their own. Several months later the family's baby son is found dead in the cot he was sharing with the baby girl they've called Bonnie, leaving the parents devastated. Several years pass and the family finally seem happy again, that is until another child dies by drowning in a lake when left alone with Bonnie. The father soon starts to notice Bonnie's strange behaviour and takes drastic measures to protect the other children, but the mother is completely blind to Bonnie's evilness.
Malcolm Stoddard and Cyd Hayman are both pretty good as the parents, Alan and Kate Marlowe. Donald Pleasence's daughter Angela is extremely creepy as the strange young woman that births Bonnie and then disappears, but it's the excellent casting of the young girls that play Bonnie at various ages that really deserves credit. The girls all look very sinister and evil, especially the girl who plays Bonnie at her oldest. The film pretty much follows all the rules set by films like The Bad Seed, Village of the Damned and The Good Son, but it's handled very well and entertainingly by director Gabrielle Beaumont. The film moves at a very leisurely pace but it picks up as the film reaches its climax, which is excellent and chilling. The Godsend also makes its debut on DVD in this set, the picture quality is pretty good, no extras.
The Outing - Three crooks ransack the home of a strange old lady, the leader of the gang buries an axe into her skull before finding a lamp that was hidden behind a wall. He rubs the lamp and something is released, soon killing the crooks. A while later, the lamp is given to a museum where the curator, Dr. Wallace, hopes they have stumbled upon something special. Wallace's daughter, Alex, along with several classmates are visiting the museum as part of a school trip where they convince Alex to sneak them back in later to stay the night. Alex, her friends and Alex's ex-boyfriend who has also sneaked into the museum, find themselves in peril when the genie is released.
The acting in The Outing is a little shaky, the story isn't exactly original, the effects are pretty corny but it all works rather well. The kills are pretty inventive and include a man being cut in half under water, death by ceiling fan, a mask crushing and twisting a man's head and a young, naked woman having a bath with several snakes. The Djinn looks alright when we finally get to see it in all its glory, even if I could barely understand a word of what he was saying which was a shame. I was really reminded of films like Chopping Mall, The Initiation and Night of the Demons, a group of young horny teens trapped in somewhere where they shouldn't be with something evil after them. if you liked those other films, I see no reason why you won't get a kick out of The Outing. The Outing was previously available on DVD in the UK under the title, The Lamp. The Lamp now seems to be out of print and it's quite expensive to buy even a used copy, so I was really delighted to see it included in this set as I'd been after it for a while. Sadly, this version doesn't include the three minute pre-titles sequence that is on the UK DVD. The scene isn't really needed as it doesn't affect what happens later, but its inclusion would have been nice. The picture quality isn't very good and it appears to be a direct transfer from the VHS, but it's still quite clear and more than watchable. No extras.
Shout Factory have done it again, it's another four films that are reasonably well presented and at a great price. Two of the films are available for the first time on DVD, there's a few issues in the set like the complete lack of extras, and the picture quality and missing scene from The Outing, but at this price, the set is a fantastic deal and it seems wrong to complain about small issues when they're giving us previously unreleased cult films that were much needed on DVD. Unlike the action-packed and sci-fi set where I felt quite disappointed by one of the films, I really like all four films in this set and can't recommend it enough to fans of cult and obscure horror films. The set is region 1 and will not play on a UK region 2 player.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2015
The DVD, "4 All Night Horror Marathon" contains four offbeat horror films to include, SCHIZOID, THE VAGRANT, THE GODSEND, and the cult favorite, THE OUTING. By far, the best of these is THE OUTING. This marks it's first release on DVD which is surprising, given it's enormous popularity.
SCHIZOID is a Gloan and Globus Cannon Films production and it is marked by its typical low production values. It's a rather sleazy film about a killer who wars black gloves and uses scissors as his killing weapons. The films dialogue is so bad that one feels they must close their ears. The film has entertainment value but it comes with a price.
THE VAGRANT is also a horror film, but one with humor. It stars Michael Ironside who is always fun to watch and Bill Paxton. It's about a man who is being driven crazy by an insane vagrant who previously occupied the home that the victim has just purchased. Even worse, the vagrant turns out to be a ghost with murder on is hurt. The film's humor is actually quite good and there is a bit of mystery to the killings. The film is more entertaining than SCHIZOID and is worth the money paid for the DVD.
THE GODSEND, from British film director, Gabrielle Beaumont is also from Cannon Films and is based on Bernard Taylor's 1976 novel of the same name. The film is actually quite good and contains twists that will surprise the viewer. Overall, the picture has the feel that it needed more editing, particularly to shorten over-long sequences. The film running 90 minutes would have played better in a much shorter television venue.
THE OUTING makes the purchase of the 4-movie DVD a real bargain. Long a cult favorite, the movie based on the screenplay by American author, Warren Chaney, has its share of chills but also built in satire. When one of the victims in the film is killed by being stuffed full of Jujyfruits, the viewer realizes that he or she is being taken on a film-ride that pokes fun at those horror movies that kill teenagers by the dozens. If you haven't noticed, THE OUTING, which takes place in a museum, is a forerunner of NIGHT IN THE MUSEUM. In the later film Larry Daley is a tip of the hate to the OUTING'S director, Tom Daley. THE OUTING is so bizarre that it is charming. This is the early 80s, decades before computer generated imagery but even so, the films evil spirit, loosed in a museum is far more effective and a lot more interesting that most of the usual summer camp or suburban "killer on the lose" flicks.
The fim transfers are okay and there are no extras, which is too bad because you would like to step inside the minds of the filmmakers, especially from GODSEND or THE OUTING, to get their thinking. That being said, the DVD is a real bargain and the viewer will not regret spending the little money that it costs for several long evenings of entertainment.