Cult Horror Obscurities New to Blu ray for Your Late-Night Social Distancing Monster Movie Marathons!

Monster Movie MarathonLouisville Halloween’s The Phantom of the Ville reviews five obscure, cult film monstrosities recently dug up from their cinematic graves!

Monster Movie Marathon
Greetings from lockdown, Halloween friends and fiends. I hope you’re all staying safe and physically healthy during these uncertain times. Staying mentally healthy is a whole other challenge we’re all facing, and most of us are looking for something to distract and entertain us while movie theaters are closed and we’re all cooped up in our haunted apartments, homes and castles. While there might be plenty of streaming channels and reruns of your favorite TV shows to purge out there in the cloud, I’m a specter that still loves physical media and probably always will.

You won’t find the good stuff on the shelves at Walmart or Target anymore. The really interesting and weird stuff is now in the domain of the boutique video labels dedicated to digging up cult obscurities and treating them like “Gone with the Wind” with extensive digital remasters and oodles of behind-the-scenes extra features. A couple of weeks ago we gave you a review of Warner Archives’ new “Two on a Guillotine” Blu ray, and this week we’ve got five more really obscure horror gems to tantalize your senses. We can’t guarantee you any of these were slighted at the Oscars, but we can promise you most of them will put a grin on your jack-o-lantern.

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972): Available exclusively on Charles B. Pierce’s  Official Legend of Boggy Creek web page (www.legendofboggycreek.com) this is the first time this legendary cult film has been restored and remastered in stunning 4K for Blu ray. My jaw literally dropped to my chest when I inserted this disc into my Blu ray player. The beauty of the film’s nature cinematography has never really been seen in its’

Monster Movie Marathon
original widescreen glory before as the film has historically been distributed in grainy, faded prints. For those who’ve never seen it, “The Legend of Boggy Creek” is basically the bible of Bigfoot movies. In a wraparound sequence, the film’s narrator is revisiting his rural childhood home where he had a life changing encounter with the legendary Fouke Monster and he recounts a number of other documented encounters that are presented in a series of vignettes that make up the body of the film. Directed by Charles B. Pierce (“The Town That Dreaded Sundown”) on location in Fouke, Arkansas and featuring mostly locals instead of professional actors in the cast, this regional independent release has a certain “documentary” authenticity about it that makes the terror feel somehow truly genuine, packing quite a punch for a G-rated film. The creature is presented as a lurking, slouchy figure in the misty woods just beyond clarity and its lonely, primal howl has the power to raise the neck hairs of the bravest of city boys.

The Beast and the Magic Sword (1983:) Available exclusively through Mondo Macabro (www.mondo-macabro.com) this is by far the most obscure movie on this list because it has never been released in the US before on any form of media and I’m pretty sure this is also the only samurai VS werewolf film ever made. “The Beast and the Magic Sword” is actually the tenth film in a series of Spanish werewolf movies all featuring actor Paul Naschy as the cursed character of Waldemar Daninsky. Other films in the series like “The Werewolf VS the Vampire Women” and “The Night of the Werewolf” have been staples of late-night horror movie marathons for decades. Naschy, who real name was Jacinto Molina, was inspired by a childhood screening of

Monster Movie Marathon
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” and went on to a long career making monster movies where he eventually played almost all of the classic Universal Studios monsters, but the werewolf was his true love and biggest success. “The Beast and the Magic Sword” is considered his last worthy werewolf film and he directed it himself. Naschy attempts, with wildly varying degrees of success, to combine European fantasy and Akira Kurosawa styled samurai epics. The first half is a bit slow and talky, but once the “werewolf loose in feudal Japan” action kicks in, the results are unique at the very least. In the standout sequence, the werewolf fights a real tiger in a jaw dropping, dangerous stunt sequence that recalls the equally mind blowing “shark VS zombie” scene in Lucio Fulci’sZombie” (1979).

Spookies (1985): Available exclusively through Vinegar Syndrome (www.vinegarsyndrome.com) this release represents the first digital home video release of a video store, VHS cult classic. Let me be perfectly honest, “Spookies” is a terrible movie, but it’s chock-full of beautiful 1980’s practical monsters and special effects. The story behind the making of this movie is far more interesting and legendary than the movie itself: A group of young ambitious filmmakers and effects craftsmen were making their own monster movie when they turned to a foreign investor who ended up taking the movie from them, re-shooting a completely nonsensical wraparound story and editing the movie into the version we now know as “Spookies”. You’ll see a giant animatronic spider monster, diminutive hand-puppeted goblins, a 10 foot Grim Reaper that’s basically an early Stalkaround haunt industry prop, farting muck-men and much, much more. The fairly standard plot revolves

Monster Movie Marathon
around a mismatched group of 35-year-old teenagers who are forced to spend the night in a reputedly haunted house, but that’s not the reason this film has a cult following. “Spookies” is simply a showcase for gooey, slimy 1980’s practical creature effects.

Billy the Kid VS Dracula (1966): There are plenty of public domain prints of this wacky film in circulation to stream online, but Kino Lorber (www.kinolober.com) has finally released a definitive, remastered Blu ray with vivid colors and as solid a transfer as could be expected from a B-movie of this era and caliber. “Billy the Kid VS Dracula” is often included on “Worst Movies Ever Made” lists alongside “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, but that kind of infamy probably has more to do with its ridiculous premise and odd blend of horror and western tropes than any cinematic ineptitude. In fact, the film feels quite a bit like a standard TV western of the period; sort of a weird episode of “Gunsmoke” written by somebody who would rather be writing vampire movies. Famed Hollywood stuntman, Chuck Courtney, plays a middle-aged Billy the Kid ready to settle down and raise a family when a vampire played by legendary horror actor, John Carradine, rides into town and kidnaps his best girl in an attempt to make her his undead bride. Although the name of Dracula is never actually mentioned in the film, the fun here for classic horror fans is getting to see Carradine exactly as he appeared as Dracula (mustache, goatee, top hat and black cape) in Universal’s “House of Frankenstein” (1944) and “House of Dracula”(1945), but IN COLOR!

Monster Movie Marathon
Munster, Go Home!” (1966): Available from Scream Factory (www.screamfactorydvd.com) this remastered Technicolor feature film includes an amazingly fun commentary track with shock rocker, Rob Zombie, and Eddie Munster himself, Butch Patrick. Similar to the Batmania that erupted when the “Batman” TV series also debuted in 1966, there was a concurrent Munsters Mania shock-wave that hit popular culture and just as quickly faded. The series only lasted two seasons, but the ratings were significant enough for the producers to green light a feature film version shot in Technicolor and released to theaters across the country. Herman Munster discovers he has inherited an ancestral mansion in England and he packs up the family for an overseas adventure that involves an international counterfeit money printing operation and a challenge to defend the family honor in a dragster road race. The Blu ray also includes a new 2K transfer of the 1981 TV reunion movie, “The Munsters’ Revenge”, which isn’t nearly as good but makes a nice extra feature. For Halloween fans, “Munster, Go Home!” provides a nostalgic ant-viral boost of color, comedy and simple joy.

The Phantom of The Ville

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