DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Horrible Horrors Collection Volume 1

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Sep 4, 2004.

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  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Horrible Horrors Collection Vol. 1






    Studio: Rhino
    Year: varies
    Rated: varies
    Film Length: 720 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Open Matte (4:3), 1.85:1 (16x9)
    Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
    Subtitles: None
    Retail Price: $24.95





    It’s that time of year when studios start pushing their Halloween titles onto horror fans across the country and this year Rhino has a very special treat in two volumes of the Horrible Horror Collection, which serves up eight dreadful films on each volume. As any horror fan would know, the genre has served up many terrible films but unlike other genres, the bad horror film can lead to hours worth of entertainment. This first volume from Rhino offers some bad cinema from the 70’s and 80’s and will hit store shelves on October 5th, 2004.

    Disc 1 Side A

    The Hearse (1980) [​IMG][​IMG]

    Former teacher Jane Hardy (Trisha Van Devere) is going through a hard time after her divorce and to make matters worse, her mother has just died leaving her an old house, which belonged to her aunt. Deciding to get away from the city, Jane moves to this old house but she soon finds out that the people in town aren’t too thrilled with her being there. Before long Jane starts to see what appears to be ghost as well as a black hearse that keeps following her around.

    The Hearse is your typical haunted house film that really doesn’t try to do anything new or original and in the end you can’t help but feel you’ve wasted your time on the thing. It also doesn’t help matters that this was released in the same timeframe as The Changeling and The Shining, both far better movies that did new things with the genre. Aside from the rather good performances, this is a forgettable film.

    The screenplay seems to have been thrown together from two scripts because there are several moments in the film that make absolutely no sense and worse of all is the ending, which pretty much goes its own way and doesn’t pay attention to any of the details and storylines that came before it. The ending comes right out of left field and has nothing to do with the first ninety-minutes of the movie so the viewer will be left shaking their head wondering what just happened.

    Another problem is that the film is so unoriginal in its wannabe scares that you can’t help but laugh. If you’ve ever seen a haunted house film you’ll know exactly where all the jump scenes are going to happen. We get everything from broken windows to images appearing out of nowhere to the best moment when our heroin enters a satanic church. The performance by Trish Van Devere is actually quite nice and keeps the film going. Joseph Cotton only appears in a few scenes and it’s easy to see he was just cashing a paycheck. The Hearse is far from a dreadful film but it’s one of those films where you keep watching expecting something good to happen but it never does.


    Prime Evil (1988) BOMB

    I really don’t know what the hell this film is about but I’ll do my best to describe the plot of this so-called horror film. Back in the ancient days, a group a wacky Catholic monks decided to start worshipping Satan but their evil plans were put on hold when the church discovered their doings. Flash forward to 1988 and a new group of monks are out looking for new women to sacrifice in the name of Satan.

    Man, oh man is this one incredibly bad film all around. I usually find some entertainment out of these mindless horror films but this one here left me wanting to scratch my eyes out and I was only into the film for fifteen minutes. There’s obviously no talent aboard on this film and it was clearly made for those who would rent anything at their local video stores. Everything from the acting to the screenplay are downright awful and the worst part is that the director forgot to add any of the red stuff.

    Many of the slashers from the 1980’s were badly made films but at least the director’s gave us a little gore and nudity to keep things going. Sadly that doesn’t happen here and apparently the budget was so low that all the death scenes are pretty much off camera. We do get a wannabe scary demon, which is the villain of the movie but this here is clearly a puppet, which appears to have fallen into some spaghetti sauce. Prime Evil certainly belongs in this collection and it’s without a doubt one of the worst horror films of the decade.

    Disc 1 Side B

    Terror (1979) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    James Garrick (John Nolan) is a British moviemaker whose latest film just happens to be about his very own family. Back in the ancient days, his ancestors were responsible for the burning of a witch, who, before dying put a curse on any family member that would follow. In the present day, James is at his ancestors house showing his latest film when the winds start to howl and one of his actresses is brutally stabbed to death. Soon more and more victims start popping up, all murdered in a grisly fashion. Is this the work of Satan or is a mad psycho running loose?

    Terror is a very interesting film that mixes the witchcraft genre with that of a slasher film and the end results are satisfying, if not all what they could have been. I had never heard of this film before receiving the screener so I’m going to guess this is a somewhat lesser seen movie because it’s interesting how the director made this slasher film a full year before the genre would really take off with Sean Cunningham’s Friday the 13th. The film was also clearly influenced by Dario Argento’s Suspiria, which is another interesting aspect of this movie.

    The film works on many levels but it’s all basically due to the direction of Norman J. Warren who really knows how to build atmosphere with the use of music, color and strange camera angles. The opening sequence dealing with the witchcraft is very well done and in fact, I’d say it’s done better than most witchcraft movies that came before this one. The atmosphere is very thick throughout the movie and includes some wonderful moments include one scene where a car is lifted into the air with trees. The director also pays close detail to the graphic violence, which should make any horror fan happy. All the violence is done in such detail that you can’t help but think the director had a big smile on his face while doing them.

    There are several weaknesses here however, the biggest one being the lack of any real interesting characters. I’ve always believed the key element to a slasher is having someone to cheer for but unfortunately we don’t have a single one here. Another weak part is the actually story, which doesn’t make too much since but heck, that never stopped anyone from enjoying Suspiria. Outside of that I was pleasantly surprised with how effective this film was and I’m sure if more people saw it we could be discussing the ways it did have a minor impact in the genre.

    Lurkers (1988) BOMB

    Poor old Cathy is being haunted by ghosts who seem to want revenge over the acts that happened in her childhood. Many years ago poor Cathy was the victim of her mothers abuse, which in turn lead to her mother killing her father and eventually killing herself. Cathy continues to be haunted by this and apparently the ghosts that also haunt the apartment building. Now Cathy is all ready to be married but her fiancé insists that she visit her brother who just happens to hate her due to the parents. By doing this Cathy gets closer to the building where all of this terror took form. Yawn.

    Here’s another contender for one of the worst horror films of the decade. While watching this film I couldn’t help but regret loving this genre so much. Unlike other bad horror films, sadly this one isn’t bad enough to fall into the “so bad it’s good” category and once again, by the fifteen-minute mark I was starting to think about scratching my eyes out. The director certainly forgot to use a script but he was smart enough to try and keep my eyes in my head by throwing out some nudity but even that didn’t help.

    This movie is pure amateurism all the way through and it appears the director simply raised some cash and fired friends to do the roles not once considering if they could actually act or not. There are so many bad things in this film that they get so annoying one can’t help but wish their fate is coming soon. Just check out the incredibly stupid scene where the two lovers feed one another pizza. Was this supposed to be romantic? If so, pizza lovers beware because you might not ever look at a slice of pepperoni the same way again. There’s even a cute little scene where our female hero encounters some street gangs, which were apparently leftovers from Death Wish 3. It goes without saying the film offers no scares, no good gore effects and nothing else for that matter. Instead of watching this film I’d recommend you get some exercise by watching your grass grow.

    Disc 2 Side A

    Fleshburn (1984) [​IMG][​IMG]

    In 1975 Calvin Duggoi (Sonny Landham) deserted his troops in Vietnam due to spiritual beliefs held by the Native Americans. When he returned home four psychiatrists deemed him mentally unstable so the court systems threw him into a mental hospital where he remained for the next nine years. When the nine year mark hit, Calvin decides to break out and track down the four responsible for having him locked up. After stealing a truck Calvin kidnaps all four people and drives out in the desert where he drops the four off and demands that they live like Indians. Meaning, the four city folks will have to find their own food and water and perhaps, die under the heat of the sun.

    When VHS took off Fleshburn tried to hide itself as a horror title but that’s certainly not the case. This film is part drama, part action film and it really doesn’t do either genre any justice. The low-budget nature of the film doesn’t help matters either nor does the childish acting, which grows very tiresome very quickly. The film could be seen as a forerunner to the hit show Survivor but even that show features better acting.

    The film has a very interesting idea to work with, although it’s certainly not anything original. The idea of an Indian seeking revenge by forcing the white man to live as an Indian should have made for a more entertaining movie but instead of anything smart, the director has the viewer out in the desert just watching people sit around and wine. Really, not much happens in this film, which is a shame. We see them learn how to catch food, find water and finally try to walk out of the desert but all of this takes a total of three minutes so the other 80+ minutes we’re just watching them sit around. The only saving grace the film has is in the first twenty-minutes when Calvin is tracking down his victims. He does this by breaking into their houses and the director actually does a nice job getting a few jump scares as I like to call them.

    Satan’s Slave (1976) [​IMG][​IMG]

    A young and naïve Catherine (Candace Glendenning) travels with her parents to the countryside to visit her Uncle’s house. As soon as they arrive, the parents are killed in a strange accident, which leaves Catherine in the care of her uncle who she believes is a doctor but the truth is that he runs a sect for Satan worshippers. A cousin tries to warn Catherine that she’s in danger because the sect is looking for a new victim to sacrifice.

    Director Norman J. Warren (Terror) tries to make a U.K. exploitation and from what I’ve read, the BBFC cut this to shreds before allowing it to be released. Apparently these cuts were done without the director knowing but it still hampers the film since it’s apparent that the director was going for a more violent spin on the witchcraft genre. Even without the gore however, there’s really not much to recommend in this film, which like many others, does nothing but talk and talk.

    The screenplay is very weak and it’s one of those where everything has to be explained by one of the characters. We get long scenes where nothing happens and the viewer doesn’t know what’s happening and then we get a dialogue scene that tries to tell us what was going on. This gets very boring and tedious quickly. Another problem is that the film was shot in a deliberate slow pace, which doesn’t benefit anyone. Glendenning is decent in the lead but isn’t oo interesting but we do have Michael Gould (Alfred in the Batman films) to keep some interest going.

    Disc 2 Side B

    Twisted Brain (1974) aka Horror High [​IMG][​IMG]

    Vernon Potts (Pat Cardi) is your typical brain in high school who gets picked on by everyone from his classmates to even the teachers. Vernon’s only friend is his pet guinea pig who belongs in biology class where the two are working on a secret formula, which would make the guinea pig more human. An accident eventually happens and Vernon ends up drinking the potion, which turns him into a half-man/half-monster and then he sets out to seek revenge against all those who picked on it.

    Had this film been made in the 1950’s then I’m sure the title would have been I Was a Teenage Dr. Jekyll. Anything you can imagine that fits with the word bad would belong in this amateurish film. The acting is bad, the directing is bad, the gore effects are bad and even worse is the cinematography, which is quite possibly the worst I’ve ever seen. However, all these badness still leads the way for a somewhat fun monster romp, which benefits from the loser we just wanna see get revenge.

    The death scenes are quite mean-spirited for a PG-rated film and these includes a coach being ran over with spiked shoes to a mean old teacher who meets her fate on a cutting board. The characters are all stereotypes especially the jocks and the mean janitor but this too adds a bit of charm to the film. While reading the IMDB I was somewhat shocked to see how many people claimed this movie scared them as a child and it appears the film has earned quite a minor cult over the years, which it probably deserves.

    Point of Terror (1971) BOMB

    I need to admit that I have no idea what this film was about or what it was trying to say but here’s the so-called plot. Tony (Peter Carpenter) is a nightclub singer at the Lobster Lounge where he’s hoping to catch a break but most of the time he ends up in the beds of older women. Lately Tony has been having grisly nightmares of women being brutally murdered. Soon, one of these older woman (Dyanne Thorne of Ilsa fame) offers him a record contract. Tony, thinking he’s going to get popular, starts acting like a star, which upsets the older woman.

    Make any sense? I really don’t know what the horror elements are doing in this film because it’s mostly about Tony and his record contract. The horror elements are mainly shown through the nightmare images but trust me, hearing Tony sing is a lot scarier than anything we see violence wise. I kept watching this movie and expecting it to turn into a horror film but it remained a record contract film with a few doses of mystery, which were just downright boring and hard to follow as well.

    The director at least knew to make the women get naked and yes boys, that includes Ilsa herself. Dyanne Thorne might not be the best actress around the block but she’s got a lot of what the others don’t have, if you get my drift. There’s also another silly sex scene on a huge boulder (wouldn’t that cause bad scratches to the back?) that the director shows using split screens. The film is bad enough to get a few laughs, especially the look at the bar, which seems to be decorated out of colored tin foil. Point of Terror fails on all other levels but I’d recommend you giving the soundtrack to someone you really hate.


    VIDEO---Video quality and the sources they’re from varies through each title. There are two films on two double-sides discs so compression never becomes a real issue. The Hearse is shown widescreen (around 1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. This is the same transfer that was on the previous release from Rhino so those with that disc will notice the same problems. Overall the transfer is quite nice with rich and vivid colors, which I certainly wasn’t expecting. Flesh tones look nice as do the black levels although there are a few scenes that appear a bit too dark. The biggest problem however is a ghosting effect, which appears during a few scenes whenever people are moving. When they move, you’ll notice some digital ghosting making it appear like a PAL transfer. Prime Evil is shown fullframe and I had a pretty hard time determining what the actual ratio should be. It doesn’t appear to be open matte because there’s clearly some information missing on the sides and there’s a bit too much headroom at the top. At the same time, I didn’t notice any panning or scanning so I’m going to guess this film should have a ratio of 1.85:1 but the transfer here seems to be cropped on the sides. The picture quality itself is rather poor with muted, colorless colors that are washed out. There are speckles that appear throughout the film and at the start of the film there appears to be a cigarette burn in the print. This was clearly taken from a VHS source.

    Terror is shown fullscreen and it appears to be open matte since there really doesn’t appear to be anything missing on the sides. The transfer overall is pretty weak and once again it’s obvious this was taken from the VHS. Colors are decent considering this is from a VHS but there’s still a washed out look to them. Black levels are also decent but nothing to write home about. A few speckles and scratches also appear on the print but it’s still watchable. Lurkers too is presented full frame and seems to be open matte. There isn’t too much headroom at the top so this could have been shot 4:3. The transfer itself is VHS quality with all the colors faded and a few scenes appear overly dark. Print damage is kept minimum with only a few speckles. Fleshburn is also shown fullframe and it appears to be open matte. Once again, it’s obvious this was taken from a VHS because we get the normal faded colors, which doesn’t look too bad considering the film takes place in a dusty desert. A couple of the night scenes appear too dark especially one scene where the Indian is putting on face paint and the scene is so dark I couldn’t tell what color the paint was. No speckles or scratches were noticed.

    Satan’s Slave is also presented fullframe and looks open matte to me. There was a U.K. tape, which was letterboxed at 1.78:1 and I didn’t see anything missing from the sides. They were very tight but it still didn’t seem to be missing anything. The picture quality, like most of the rest, is pure VHS quality with faded colors, overly dark blacks and a few speckles here and there. I didn’t notice any major damage. Twisted Brain is shown fullframe and again appears to be open matte. Once again this was taken from an apparent VHS source and the colors are all faded, which seems to be a big minus because it appears this was originally a very colorful film. The dark scenes are also extremely dark but you can still tell what’s going on. Wouldn’t luck have it that Point of Terror actually looks pretty good. The film appears open matte and I didn’t see anything missing on the sides and there’s a bit too much room at the top. The color detail is very good and especially shines during the tin foil bar settings. A few of the exterior shots are pretty rough with some faded colors and scratches but overall I was pleased with the transfer.

    AUDIO---Each film is presented with a Dolby Digital Mono track. The Hearse sounds very good with crisp and clear dialogue that is easily heard throughout the film. The sound effects are also quite nice and mixed in perfectly well with the dialogue. Prime Evil, considering the budget, sounds pretty good, although there’s a bit of hiss that can be heard in various scenes. Dialogue is always easy to understand and that’s good enough for this film. Terror sadly doesn’t sound as good as I had hoped. There’s some minor hiss throughout the entire film, which never becomes too distracting but it’s obviously there. The dialogue sounds good for the most part except whenever the music score is playing over it, then the dialogue becomes somewhat hard to understand. Lurkers also suffers from low sound but this appears due to the film’s budget and not the actual disc. The sound seems to have been recorded very low so there were a few spots that I couldn’t hear to well. Some minor hiss can also be heard. Fleshburn sounds pretty darn good with crystal clear dialogue and the action scenes pack a nice little punch as well. There was one cut in the music score I noticed but this was only a brief second and didn’t cut out any of the dialogue. Satan’s Slave also sounds a bit low but dialogue can be heard throughout. There’s a small amount of hiss but it never becomes to distracting. The sound on Twisted Brain is pretty low but if you turn your system up loud enough then everything can be heard fairly easily. There’s some minor hiss in a few scenes but it isn’t too bad. Point of Terror sadly sounds very good throughout. The incredibly horrid singing sounds very clear and sadly packs a nice little punch, even with the minor hiss that’s in the background at all times. This is one time where I wish the hiss had been a lot louder.

    EXTRAS---No extras are included.

    OVERALL---While none of the films are really good, I’d only label three as being “horrible” to fit this collection’s title. The quality is VHS all the way but it really didn’t bother me since I doubt we’re going to get a better release and the bad quality brings back some nostalgic charm. Rhino owns a lot of Crown International titles and these eight films on two DVDs is a good way of getting them out there with a reasonable price tag. Even though I didn’t enjoy any of the movies I’d still recommend this set to horror fans because I actually had a nice time going back through memory lane. When I was a kid I would rent five to eight films on Friday and watch them through the weekend. This set was good for bringing those memories back.


    Release Date: October 5th, 2004
     
  2. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Wow, Mike. These sound like a bunch of turds. There are so many other better "bad" horror films to check out. Grab a hold of some of those new Midnite Movies! [​IMG]
     
  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I got 14 of them. [​IMG] Volume 2 of this collection is better in the "so bad it's good" thing.
     
  4. JeffMc

    JeffMc Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the review, Michael. Will be picking this set up even though I'm familiar with how bad these films are. I'm mostly interested in TWISTED BRAIN which was a childhood favorite on late-night TV in the 70's. The others, as you said, are just fun as a nostalgia thing for those early days of VHS renting.

    Have you had a chance to skim through Volume 2 yet? I assume DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE is the same cut tv-print that Rhino previously released as a single disc. I can't imagine Rhino would go through ANY effort to fix this, but we can always dream.
     
  5. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I've gone through BLOOD OF DRACULA'S CASTLE and NIGHTMARE IN WAX so far. DON'T is getting ready to be viewed so I'll get back with you but I'm not expecting the uncut version. They didn't fix the ghosting problem on THE HEARSE so I'm sure DON'T will be a port of the old DVD.
     
  6. Gary Banks

    Gary Banks Auditioning

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    Well I am definitely interested in Volume 2. TERRIFIED is one film that I really like and some of the others such as Wax, Castle, Stanley are watchable.
     
  7. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    I can't find any sites listing full titles for Volume. 2. Can someone post a full list here or a link to a site with a decent price?
     
  8. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Don't Answer the Phone
    Terrified
    Blood of Dracula's Castle
    Nightmare in Wax
    Stanley
    The Crater Lake Monster
    Blood Mania
    The Devil's Hand

    Those are the titles on volume 2. I'll try to have a review up in a day or so. I've got three more titles to watch. DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE is the TV cut like the previous disc.

    There have also been some questions about TWISTED BRAIN (HORROR HIGH) on this release. The IMDB as well as three movie books I own all list a different running time so I'm really not sure if it's cut or not. I'll check and post the actual running time here but these are all from the VHS tapes. If the VHS tape was an edited version then that's what will be on the DVD.
     
  9. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    BLOOD OF DRACULA'S CASTLE is worth the price all by itself.[​IMG]
     

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