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"Wherever there is imagination... I will dwell!"
on 7 December 2013
The Dungeonmaster - A highly skilled computer programmer called Paul has designed a quasi-sentient computer called Cal (X-CaliBR8), but his girlfriend, Gwen, is upset and jealous of how reliant he's become on Cal. One night, Paul and Gwen are transported to a Hellish realm by Mestema, an evil sorcerer that has spent millennia finding and battling worthy opponents. Mestema wants to see if Paul's technology can defeat his sorcery, with Gwen as the prize.
Jeffrey Byron is quite a wooden lead as Paul, he's likeable enough but a great actor he isn't. He's spent most of his career on TV movies and shows, but did play Paul again in the 1988 film, Pulse Pounders. Byron is the Godson of four time Oscar winner John Ford. Richard Moll fares much better as Mestema, he's over the top at times but that's what makes the character so fun. Moll also later appeared in Pulse Pounders, playing Mestema again. Leslie Wing is okay as Gwen, and Gina Calabrese's full frontal dream scene is back in after being cut out in some other versions. The effects are pretty cool, at times I was reminded of films like Jason and the Argonauts. There's plenty of weird creatures Paul must defeat. The seven different scenarios that Paul is placed in are all written and directed by different people, so the tone and look can change quite dramatically, but I enjoyed it. One minute he must defeat a giant stone creature, the next he must stop a serial killer from killing Gwen in a quite dark and suspenseful segment. There's even a segment where Paul must defeat the members of the band, W.A.S.P. Hilariously he gets smashed in the face with a guitar, points his wristband at the members and they disappear. Mestema then tells Paul that he just put on a magnificent display. The Dungeonmaster aka Ragewar is a silly little film, but it's undeniably fun. The line "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" said by Paul was later popularised by Adam Savage of MythBusters. Picture quality is pretty good, it's quite grainy and a little soft looking, but there's no noticeable print damage. Anamorphic widescreen, no extras.
Cellar Dweller - In the 1950s, a comic book artist called Colin Childress is murdered by his own creation. Thirty years later, the site of the murder has been turned into an art colony. The newest member of the colony is Whitney, a comic book artist and huge Cellar Dweller fan, the comic Colin Childress made. The basement of the colony is where Colin worked and died but is off limits, but Whitney convinces Mrs. Briggs to allow her to clean it up and work down there herself. Whitney decides to resurrect Cellar Dweller, which inadvertently resurrects the beast, putting everyone at the colony in danger.
Debrah Farentino is pretty good as Whitney, she's attractive, fun, and made for a good lead. Farentino is best known recently for a recurring role as Beverly Barlowe in A Town Called Eureka, though she's been a regular on many shows throughout her career. She's the former wife of the late Dead and Buried star, James Farentino. Brian Robbins is quite cheesy but likeable as an abstract artist and potential love interest for Whitney, Robbins was a prolific TV actor in the '80s but retired to become a producer. He's had huge success in recent years as a producer on shows like Smallville and One Tree Hill. Yvonne De Carlo, best known for playing Lily Munster in The Munsters offers decent support as Mrs. Briggs, and horror legend, Jeffrey Combs has a small role as Colin Childress. Cellar Dweller was directed by John Carl Buechler, a special effects man whose first taste as a director was one of the segments from The Dungeonmaster. He directs the film quite well, it isn't at all scary or dramatic, but it has a quick pace and is a very easy watch. Buechler is also responsible for the effects in the film, there's a few gory scenes that are done quite well, like the beast swatting a man's head off which looks pretty good, and the beast itself looks good, but it isn't at all scary and many people believe it even looks quite cute. It's written by Don Mancini, he's the writer of all the Chucky films. The cinematographer was none other than Sergio Salvati, best known for his work on several of Lucio Fulci's best known films such as Zombie Flesh Eaters, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and House by the Cemetery. This isn't his best work. The picture quality is little better than VHS, full frame and no extras.
Contamination.7 - A power plant in a small town dumps its toxic waste into the forest, the waste has given life to the tree roots that have developed a mind of their own and a taste for human flesh.
Contamination.7 is also known as Creepers, The Crawlers and perhaps most damning of all, Troll 3. The film actually has nothing to do with the earlier Troll films, but then again, Troll 2 was completely unrelated to the first film. The acting is the closest thing this film has in common with Troll 2, it isn't quite as bad as that, but it is noticeably poor. On the plus side, the main actress may be recognisable to some as she also appeared in Michele Soavi's Stagefright and Umberto Lenzi's Ghosthouse. The film has two directors, Joe D'Amato and Fabrizio Laurenti. I know next to nothing of Laurenti, but Joe D'Amato is quite famous for many, many awful films. He has actually made some very good films as well, Beyond the Darkness, Anthropophagus and Absurd aka Horrible are all films I have in my collection and really like. The effects range from pretty decent to very bad, there's a few scenes where the roots wrap around someone where it really reminded me of the scene from Ed Wood, where Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi fights the octopus. As bad as a lot of the film is, I can't deny that I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoyed Troll 2. Surprisingly the anamorphic widescreen print looks great, no extras.
Catacombs - In the 17th century, monks capture and entomb a demon in a monastery. 400 years later, a school teacher called Elizabeth arrives at the monastery to do some research. Not long after her arrival, the demon is unwittingly released in the catacombs beneath the monastery.
The acting in Catacombs is by far the best out of the four films, I thought the main actors in the film gave excellent performances. I really liked Laura Schaefer as Elizabeth, this was the model's first film. She only ever went on to make two more, Ghost Town from the same year (another film hopefully Shout Factory will put out), and True Identity. Timothy Van Patten is very good as Father John Durham, this was his last film as he left acting to become a director. In recent years he's directed quite a lot of episodes of The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. Ian Abercrombie was very good as Brother Superior Orsini, Feodor Chaliapin Jr. is great as a dying Brother and the real star is Jeremy West as the stern Brother Marinus, he is completely against Elizabeth being at the monastery and believes in absolutely nothing but his faith. Catacombs is really well directed by David Schmoeller, the pace is good, it's really well shot and is at times, genuinely creepy. Schmoeller is a good director, his film debut was the brilliant and underrated Tourist Trap, he then later directed Crawlspace with Klaus Kinski and Puppet Master. The music is great by Pino Donaggio, who is best known for his work with Brian De Palma. The cinematography is great by Sergio Salvati, this is much closer to what I expect a Salvati film to look, it's dark, gothic and cold looking. This film looks a lot closer to The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery, his work here is much better than his work on Cellar Dweller. There's some really cool effects in the film, and it has a genuinely interesting story. I think it's by far the best film out of the four, which really surprised me as it sounded the dullest. The picture quality is really good, it's full frame and there's a commentary track from director David Schmoeller.
This is another very good set from Shout Factory, even if it's not quite as good as their previous horror movie marathon set. The Dungeonmaster and Cellar Dweller are both reasonably well made and were plenty of fun. Contamination.7 is terrible but fun, and Catacombs is genuinely good and very underrated, the commentary track was nice as well. Cellar Dweller is the worst looking of the films but still looks okay, Contamination.7 and Catacombs look great. I ordered this mainly for Cellar Dweller, but it's a cracking set and I'm delighted to have discovered Catacombs which was actually a lost film for several years after the production company closed. People that own the previous sets should find plenty to like here, and it's currently available at a great price. Cellar Dweller was a film I'd been after for years and I'm delighted to finally have it, so here's hoping they can also get hold of Hunter's Blood and The Aftermath which would be perfect on one of these sets. It's a region 1 release and will not play on a standard UK region 2 player.