Greetings fellow collectors of physical media, and welcome to the first edition of HorrorSexy.com’s BLU BALLS. As an avid collector of Blu-ray discs (and prior to that, DVDs and VHS tapes), I am amazed at the number of horror, fantasy, cult, sci-fi, exploitation, and b-films that have been making their way onto the HD format.
God bless companies like Scream (and Shout!) Factory, Olive Films, Vinegar Syndrome, Synapse, Kino Lorber, and all the others in between. They are making it possible to enjoy pristine versions of some truly strange and wonderful films! However, despite their best efforts, a lot of movie have failed to make the leap to the blu-ray format. And that’s where this monthly column comes in….
The goal of BLU BALLS is to highlight films that have yet to see a Blu-ray release, or have gotten a poor, bare-bones release that doesn’t do the film justice. I’m here to help raise awareness, and hopefully create some interest, nay, enough interest, that some of the aforementioned companies do us fans a solid and rescue some truly awesome flicks from obscurity.
To kick this column off, let’s take a look at three highly sought-after films that have not made it to the Blu-ray format here in the U.S. Hell, all three of them haven’t been seen around these parts since the VHS era!
THE BRAIN (1988)
Color / Rated R / 94 minutes
Directed by Ed Hunt
Country of Origin: Canada
Status: Out of print.
Formats: VHS, Laserdisc, Region 2 DVD, and bootleg DVD-R.
Current rights holder: From the bit of digging I did, it seems that Lionsgate owns the North American distribution rights to this title. I’m shocked that they have failed to release this, after giving such favorites as THE MONSTER SQUAD, THE GATE, THE WRAITH, and ALLIGATOR decent DVD releases.
The Plot: Dr. Anthony Blakely (Re-Animator’s David Gale) has a popular self-help TV show called “Independent Thinking,” that he is using to brainwash and control the minds of all those who watch. To bolster the effects of his insidious plans, he utilizes an alien “brain,” which feeds on humans and continues to grow as the film progresses. Eventually, his evil plans are discovered, and a young hero attempts to cancel the show and destroy the man-eating brain monster before it’s too late!
This is a great creature feature, with some great practical f/x work, cool nightmare sequences, and the always delightful David Gale. It’s a crime this hasn’t been fully restored and put out on Blu-ray yet!
Desired Blu-ray Specs & Extras: At the very least, I demand a 2K restoration from original negatives (or at least a relatively clean print) in its original aspect ratio (1.85:1), 5.1 (and 2.0) DTS audio options, a director’s commentary, trailers, cast & crew interviews, a David Gale tribute of some sort, a poster gallery, and deleted scenes. And keep the original VHS cover art because it’s creepy and crazy cool!
BLOOD BEACH (1980)
Color / Rated R / 92 minutes
Directed by Jeffrey Bloom
Country of Origin: The United States
Status: Out of print.
Formats: VHS, Region 2 DVD (Germany), and bootleg DVD-R.
Current rights holder: Not quite sure about this. Apparently the film is in some sort of legal limbo as several parties are fighting over who actually owns the distribution rights. It was released by Media Home Entertainment in the 80s, which eventually folded and sold off their catalog to various companies, including 20th Century Fox, Anchor Bay/Starz, and New Line Entertainment. Sadly I have no idea which company currently owns the rights.
The Plot: Something mysterious is lurking beneath the sands of Venice Beach, California, and devouring anyone foolhardy enough to go sunbathing. (As the film’s tagline suggests: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…. you can’t get to it!”) Eventually, enough attacks occur to get the police involved, but their investigation turns up nothing. Things look grim until a harbor patrol officer and his ex visit a forgotten spot they used to play hide-and-seek in as children. They luckily discover the lair of the film’s mystery monster, leading to an explosive climax, and the set up for a sequel.
BLOOD BEACH is not for all tastes, but it is one of my favorite slow-burn monster flicks from the 80s. It features John Saxon and Burt Young in secondary roles, has an eerie soundtrack, and a cool monster that we sadly never get a great look at.
Desired Blu-ray Specs & Extras: A 2K restoration from a decent print (if one still exists), 5.1 (if possible) & 2.0 DTS audio options, a director’s commentary, cast & crew interviews, poster galley, trailer, and those wacky “deleted scenes” that were inserted in the German VHS release. They feature a few shots of a completely different monster, and a dash of female nudity that were spliced in to spice up the film.
Don’t believe me? Well see for yourself.
GODZILLA 1985 / THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984)
Color / Rated PG / 87 minutes or 103 minutes
Directed by Koji Hashimoto
Additional American scenes directed by R.J. Kizer
Country of Origin: Japan
Status: Out of Print [in the U.S.]
Formats: VHS (American cut), VHS (International Cut), Laserdisc, All Region Imported DVD (Japanese Cut), All Region Imported Blu-ray (Japanese Cut), and Bootleg DVD-R (Jap & American cuts).
Current Rights Holder: Toho Co. Ltd. holds sway over all. However, I should note that Anchor Bay released Godzilla 1985 on VHS years ago, and at one time did announce a deluxe 2-disc DVD release. Whether or not they still hold the North American distribution rights is unknown to myself at this time.
The Plot: Thirty years after laying Japan to waste, Godzilla returns! Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are still useless, so it’s up to a scientist to come up with a way to get Godzilla to leap into a volcano! GODZILLA 1985 was one of the last serious Godzilla movies, and is, in my opinion, one of the best in the entire franchise.
The story is a somber “anti-nuke” tale, showcasing Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia, whilst a giant fire-breathing lizard cuts Japan’s towering skyscrapers down to size. Much like the 1954 original that started it all, there is a message in this sci-fi monster tale, which has one of the saddest endings of all time.
Desired Blu-ray Specs & Extras: The fans want a three-disc set that contains all versions of this missing piece in our Godzilla blu-ray collections, plus a soundtrack CD featuring the beautiful music composed by Reijiro Koroku. This may sound greedy, but not only do we want the uncut Japanese version (with subtitles), and the U.S. cut that many of us grew up with, but we also want the international cut that was never released here!
Naturally we demand that all versions are fully restored and shown in their original aspect ratios (1.85:1) with 5.1 and 2.0 DTS audio. I’m not entirely sure an audio commentary could work (it all depends on Koji Hashimoto’s ability to speak English, or the ability of a translator to keep up with him), but it’d be cool to have one on the GODZILLA 1985 U.S. cut by R.J. Kizer.
As for other extras: Behind-the-scenes featurettes, trailers, photo & poster galleries, Godzilla Dr. Pepper commercials, cast & crew interviews (particulary with suitmation actor Kenpachiro Satsuma!), and perhaps even a comparison featurette, highlighting the differences in the Japanese and American cuts!
That’s it for this first edition of my HorrorSexy column; thanks so much for reading! I hope I have piqued your interest, and maybe even helped create a movement to get the films mentioned above an official Blu-ray release.
What will I dig up for volume two? Well to find out, check back next month for another dose of Blu Balls right here on HorrorSexy.com!