With such well put together DVDs like Halloween - 25 Years of Terror in it's enormous collection, Anchor Bay Entertainment has stood out for some time because of it's commitment to horror films. Very few companies seem to spend the time and energy that Anchor Bay does in making DVDs of cult or genre movies the experiences that they ultimately become. I can think of few companies that handle "cult classics" with as much tender loving care as this company. Whether we are talking about their upcoming release of H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator, their Children of the Corn - 20th Anniversary Edition or their 30th Anniversary release of Night of the Living Dead, it is apparent that Anchor Bay has assumed the status of criterion in regards to releasing horror titles.

We recently had the chance to view and review three selections that were recently released by Anchor Bay. None of them are classics or cult classics (yet), but they seem to give us a nice sample of where the company is headed while also showing us what got them to this esteemed point as being the place that creators and fans of horror want to be. The titles in question were Masters of Horror: Pelts, Night of the Living Dorks and Devil's Den. While I don't know if any of these films are going to have the staying power of a film like Phantasm, they seem to underscore Anchor Bay's commitment to provide a range of horror programming, paying respect to the past masters with Masters of Horror: Pelts (directed by the esteemed Dario Argento), while showcasing some newer blood with the irreverent Night of the Living Dorks.

Here is a glimpse at what each of those titles has to offer:

Movie PictureMasters of Horror: Pelts:

Jake Feldman (Meat Loaf Aday) is obsessed with a stripper. She is all he thinks about and when he's not thinking about her, he's thinking of ways that he can have her. After an acquaintance named Jeb kills a bunch of raccoons, Jake seems to feel that their skin could help him attain his dreams. Little does he know the price he is going to pay for his obsession.... Everyone who comes in contact with these furs mutilates their body and others in ways that are both shocking and ghastly.

Eventually, Jake gets what he wants but he has to pay an awful price for attaining it. Dario Argento seems to be having a lot of fun working in the medium of television. With only one hour to tell the story he is trying to tell, he infuses his installment of Masters of Horror: Pelts with an interesting, solemn quality. There is something about his work here that even though it is very much in the present, it recalls early TV that took it's time more to get inside who it's characters were.

Meat Loaf is really good in this film as Jake Feldman. I know the idea of him playing an overweight man, pining after a stripper is not that hard of a stretch, but Argento and screenwriter Matt Venne have really layered this character. It would be easy to feel sorry for Jake because of how everybody treats him, but his character is also highly unlikeable. I felt as if I was watching a fully fleshed out character, instead of one that was merely a part of an anthology series. The people behind Masters of Horror: Pelts really seem intent on merging today's horror with the horror of the past. In this way, it seems like we as viewers all get to win because we get the best of both worlds.

CLICK HERE to read the entire review of Masters of Horror: Pelts!

Movie PictureNight of the Living Dorks:

Night of the Living Dorks is one of those movies that feels like it comes from the mid to late 1980s. The story is well worn but for some reason it feels redone here. Philip and his pals Konrad and Weener are your typical social misfits. They get sucked into a voodoo ceremony put on by some Gothic people at their school, and after a fatal car accident this band of losers becomes zombies. Yes, you read that right.

This is where the 1980s kick in. These aren't your typical zombies out to kill people. Sure, they want to do that, but they also want to party, having a good time, and exact revenge on those who did them harm before they got zombified. However, there is a race against time because these zombie studs are decomposing, and Philip is hoping that he can make some headway with the girl of his dreams before this happens.

While certain zombie purists might be scandalized by the license taken with this film, and other horror aficionados might like their scary films a bit more serious, Night of the Living Dorks was created for no other reason than to provide a good time.

CLICK HERE to read our full review of Night of the Living Dorks!

Movie PictureDevil's Den:

Quinn (Devon Sawa) and Nick (Steven Schub) are two pals who are on their way back to the United States from Mexico. These two have just scored a grip of Spanish Fly, and they decide to stop off at a nudey bar called the Devil's Den. Thinking they are going to get more girls than they can shake a stick it, these guys get a whole lot more when it turns out that the ladies are not human beings at all. A fight to the death ensues, with Nick and Quinn joined by the likes of Caitlin (Kelly Hu), Leonard (Ken Foree), a Samurai and even an incarnation of the Devil.

This movie seems like little more than an excuse to make an exploitation film. While I guess that can and can't bode well for some projects, ultimately it seems like Devil's Den isn't offering us anything we haven't seen before.

CLICK HERE our complete review of Devil's Den!

As you can see Anchor Bay has presented fans with an eclectic mix of horror films to choose from. This is part and parcel of what has made them so successful. Many companies that mostly cater to the straight to DVD market, think they can create a film with manufactured scares, throw some blood on the screen, and they think they have made something passable in the horror genre. What has continually set Anchor Bay apart is the fact that they know what fans want to see. They know they want their releases packed with bonus features, and not bogus ones like simply a trailer and a photo gallery. This is a company who seems to proactively work with it's fans and directors to make each and every release something special. When one considers the way horror films are treated both in theaters and as a straight to video commodities, Anchor Bay's commitment to putting out the best releases in the genre is nothing short of exemplary.

Evan Jacobs