kindertrauma random header image

Shadow Stalkers Collection

November 26th, 2018 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

I’ve got a serious penchant for DVD movie compilations. I try to collect as many as possible because they take up so little room and tend to introduce me to titles I might not purchase on their own. Plus, I’m such an old school VHS –head that the idea of getting ten or so titles in one swoop still feels like a bonanza to me. Thankfully I can always count on MILL CREEK ENTERTAINMENT to periodically supply me with such a fix. Their latest all- horror offering is entitled SHADOW STALKERS and it could be my favorite pack that they have released thus far. Let’s take a look at what goodies are lurking within!

OUT OF THE DARK (1988)
I had to get my hands on this collection for this movie alone. How has this campy, kooky cult-oddity evaded me all of these years? Somehow not one of the countless video stores I loitered in back in the day happened to carry it. Well, its days of avoiding me are now finally over. OUT OF THE DARK is about a very vocal murderer in a creepy clown mask who terrorizes the female employees of an L.A. phone sex line. Humor, sleaze and suspense collide as two cops try to crack the killer’s identity before he brutally claims his next victim. This is basically a can’t lose affair because the film’s most outlandish set pieces and cringe-worthy lines of dialogue only make it that much more entertaining. More importantly it has a to-die-for cast that includes: KAREN BLACK (TRILOGY OF TERROR) , GEOFFREY LEWIS (SALEM’S LOT), TRACEY WALTER (REPO MAN), BUD CORT (HAROLD AND MAUDE), PAUL BARTEL (EATING RAOL), TAB HUNTER (POLYESTER), LAINE KAZAN (LUST IN THE DUST) and the incomparable DIVINE as an overbearing, mustached cop in his very last film role. Overall it’s a howling good time and a deep dive into neon-soaked, vibrant eighties-flavored excess.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
(1981)
I wrote about my unabashed love for this sterling early eighties slasher classic back HERE (as well as in the book BUTCHER KNIVES AND BODY COUNTS). It’s a favorite of mine that I return to on a nearly yearly basis. This flick is total comfort horror for me and always will be. If you happened to purchase the initial DVD release you may have been disappointed to find that it utilized a generic, temporary score rather than the underrated and poetic theatrical score by BO HOWARD (LOVE STREAMS) and LANCE RUBIN (MOTEL HELL). If so, this collection is an affordable way to remedy that situation. Even though I’ll always love my VHS tape, this is a film that really needs to be seen widescreen due to the way it plays with background and foreground imagery. If you want to go one even better, MILL CREEK has also released HBTM on Blu-ray in a nifty retro faux-aged VHS box art cover. I highly recommend that for the ultimate (as of now) presentation of the movie. Hey, you can’t have too many copies of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

THE EYES OF LAURA MARS (1978)
How incredible is it that this glamo-camp thriller starring the ferocious FAYE DUNAWAY was based on a screenplay by horror maestro JOHN CARPENTER? And how many movies involving a famous fashion photographer with the psychic power to foresee Giallo-esque murders can boast a haunting theme song from one BABS STREISAND? Not many, I’m guessing. This is rather an avalanche of awesome because besides DUNAWAY, you also get a young TOMMY LEE WALLACE (yes, he was young once) and a fantastically creepy performance from future CHUCKY inhabitant BRAD DOURIFF. If that weren’t enough, the late great RAUL JULIA is on board as well and directing honors go to IRVIN KERSHNER (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK). They really don’t make them like this anymore and that’s a shame. If you don’t already own a copy I can’t recommend this twisty, moody, nutso movie enough.

AND THE REST
The three titles above are indisputably the most valuable players rocking this set. All three are presented in widescreen and look slick, sharp and generally impressive. The seven remaining flicks are more of a gritty public domain affair of variant quality. I consider this group the freeby gravy; maybe not ideal but good to have on hand for a rainy day.

You get DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE! (1980) a sleazy, somewhat disturbing tale of a roving psychopath that works as an interesting time capsule of early eighties Los Angeles, NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1969) a semi-bland revenge/torture flick with a hammy performance by CAMERON MITCHELL, BLOODY PIT OF HORROR (1965) which features MARISKA HARGITAY’s bodybuilder father MICKEY in red tights abusing all those who trespass in his castle, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1973) the strangely lyrical holiday horror flick starring the hypnotic MARY WORONOV, FUNERAL HOME (1980) WILLIAM FRUET’s underrated Canadian slasher starring scream queen LESLEH DONALDSON, DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS (1984) a lacking London set X-mas shocker in which a maniac’s preferred victims are all dressed as Santa and finally, DRIVE IN MASSACRE (1979) which may be slower than a drugged turtle but features a hard to resist setting for film lovers.

All in all it’s roughly 15 hours of entertainment and my only gripe would be that FUNERAL HOME’s presentation leaves a bit to be desired and is actually a downgrade from my trusty VHS tape. No worries though-OUT OF THE DARK, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and EYES OF LAURA MARS more than make up for that slight. My other DVD sets will be more than happy to welcome SHADOW STALKERS to my growing collection.

Tags: General Horror




7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Caffeinated JoeNo Gravatar // Nov 26, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    I actually bought the retro VHS like DVD of Happy Birthday to Me. Haven’t watched it again yet, but so excited to dive back in to that movie. Remember liking it way back when.

    This collection though – wow! Looks like good fun! I will have to seek it out.

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 26, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    CJ,
    That HBTM Blu is pretty irresistible. It looks and sounds great. I’m very happy I checked out OUT OF THE DARK too. It reminded me of staying up late and watching Cinemax. So glad there are still 80s movies out there that I haven’t seen.

  • 3 GeoffNo Gravatar // Nov 27, 2018 at 5:35 am

    I’ve been tempted to pick this collection up but I already own almost all the movies in it. On your recommendation I must check out Out of the Dark now. That cast! And I’m a fellow Happy Birthday To Me devotee. I love that one so much, Scooby Doo ending and all! I have no Wal-Mart near me so I’m bummed I can’t track down the retro VHS packaging. That one needs a special edition by Arrow or Scream Factory anyway. Can you imagine a Crawford Top 10 reunion commentary by the cast?!

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 27, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Geoff,
    I think the collection is worth it for OOTD alone- I thought it was very entertaining and I’m so glad I finally saw it. I would LOVE a HBTM commentary track! I can’t get enough of that movie! I have it in every format besides Beta now!

  • 5 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Nov 28, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    That cover art for HBTM is so memorable. When I was a kid and saw it I wondered “Did that guy not know how to eat a kabob? You take the meat and stuff off the skewer first, numbskull!”

  • 6 Ben SNo Gravatar // Nov 29, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Psst. To those clamoring for a HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME special edition, there’s a Blu Ray in the UK from the company Indicator that has extra features and at least one commentary (by the Hysteria Continues podcast). I don’t have it, but I have a lot of other stuff from the company and they’re among the best. And they’re releases are almost always Region Free I believe!

  • 7 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 29, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    BS,
    Thanks for the tip! I LOVE Hysteria Continues but I have to stick with good ol’ Mill Creek. Their HBTM Blu ray looks fantastic and it’s only $7.50 at Wamart. I’ve got cats that I have to send to college!

You must log in with your Kindertrauma account to post a comment: