There are certain things in life that are a given death, taxes and the fact that Anchor Bay is going to release both challenging, interesting and downright off the wall DVDs in the horror genre. This month's edition of the Anchor Bay Horror Show is no different as the titles range from the morbid, to the macabre, to downright timely. This is a big reason why Anchor Bay has become the go to spot for horror enthusiasts. Aside from respecting the genre, the filmmakers, and the fans with releases that really give consumers what they want, the company also understands the horror genre. They seem to get past all the carnage and see the social and political statements that so many of these films make. I bring this up because the DVDs that we are talking about this month all seem to embody one or both of those themes.
The DVDs on tap for this edition of the Anchor Bay Horror Show are Stan Lee Presents: The Condor, Tokko, Vol. 1, Masters of Horror: Pro-Life, Re-Animator and Death Row. Amidst this eclectic mix you will find uplifting animation, hot button horror issues, a ghastly classic from the 1980s, and an inspired horror film from a new voice on the scene.
Here is a glimpse of what each of those titles has to offer:
Movie PictureStan Lee Presents: The Condor
Stan Lee Presents: The Condor introduces us to a new superhero for the 21st Century Tony Valdez (voiced by Wilmer Valderrama). After turning his back on his family's robotic corporation, Tony drops out of school and pursues his true passion: skateboarding. Then his parents are killed and Tony has his legs ruined in an attack. Calling on the technology that he walked away from, Tony becomes a crime fighting skateboarder bent on revenge. However, along the way Tony comes to realize that things are not as simple as they once seemed, and the people he thinks are friends might be trying to do him in.
All told, Stan Lee Presents: The Condor is a new infusion of life into the world of superheroes. By making this character someone that more of today's children can relate to, Tony Valdez could very well become the Spider-Man of today's generation.
CLICK HERE to read our full review of Stan Lee Presents: The Condor!
Movie PictureTokko, Vol. 1
In Tokko, Vol. 1 we are treated to a very interesting story of covert police units, zombies, and human beings being dismembered. The story of this episodic release follows Shindou Ranmaru who has just graduated from the Police Academy. Right away he is on the job has he meets scantily clad woman named Rokujo Sakura. It turns out that she works for a covert group within the Tokki Police Force called Tokko. Eventually, Shindou joins up with this unit as way to avenge an attack on his old apartment complex that killed his parents but spared him and his sister. In addition to this, Shindou is on the case of a series of mass murders. If this wasn't enough, strange creatures begin to appear and everything starts to coalesce into the idea that... ZOMBIES ARE INVADING TOKYO!
Filled with interesting imagery, ideas and a lot of bloodshed Tokko, Vol. 1 is unlike any animated TV show I have ever seen.
CLICK HERE to read our full review of Tokko, Vol. 1!
Movie PictureMasters of Horror: Pro-Life
Simply by it's title you know that Masters of Horror: Pro-Life is going to be dealing with the hot button issue of abortion. When a pregnant 15 year old girl takes refuge in an Abortion clinic, the doctor's think that their biggest problem is her crazy father (Ron Perlman) outside in a red van. So they bring the girl in and her baby bump appears to be getting bigger and bigger. Even stranger is the fact that the girl claims she only got pregnant the day before. The bump keeps growing, the father, with the help of his sons, breaks into the clinic and begins killing people so he can get stop his daughter from killing his grandchild. Suddenly, Satan rises from the floor of the clinic and it is here that we realize who the father of this child is.
Beset by bad effects and bad acting Masters of Horror: Pro-Life gets close to making a point, but sadly it seemed like all of that got marred by this movie's poor execution.
CLICK HERE to read our full review of Masters of Horror: Pro-Life!
Way back in the depths of 1985, which is actually before the time of a lot of horror buffs, Stuart Gordon did an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story called Herbert West, Reanimator. Titled simply Re-Animator, it became the basis for an entire series.
The plot is simple enough, and is pretty much given away by the title. Two graduate students, Dan Cain and the man himself, Herbert West, have begun work perfecting West's serum for the reanimation of human corpses.
While the plot is simple, the consequences (and thus, the movie) will be anything but. West and Cain spend huge amounts of time trying to figure out what dosage of the serum does what to what. They'll be reanimating heads, cats, and whole corpses by the end of things, and will it ever be worth watching.
This is the movie that drags the average of every Lovecraft-based film up a notch, the movie that officially establishes high-water mark for the entire subgenre. There has yet to be a Lovecraft-based film to top Re-Animator, and in all honesty, based on the crop of them I've seen, it will be a cold day in hell before there IS a better one, if the trend continues.
What gives Re-Animator much of its punch is a combination of several separate elements. One, the incredible performance of Jeffrey Combs. Jeffrey Combs is known for many roles--his work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Abominable, The Frighteners, right down the line--but Herbert West is probably his best-known and in many cases, most loved. Two, the horrific elements are well designed. West's spectacular arrogance in the face of what should be an impossibility elevates his work to that of total abomination, and there's nothing quite so scary as forcing open the big door of Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Tautly plotted and with plenty of suspense building scenes, it definitely packs a punch.
CLICK HERE to read our full review of Re-Animator!
Movie PictureDeath Row
A documentary crew gets more than they bargained for in the heist/ghost/slasher film Death Row. Wanting to film a movie that explores the rebellion at the Isla del Roca prison, a crew shows up intent on seeing what historical artifacts remain from an uprising their many years ago. Normally, this would be enough for a horror movie to hang it's hat on: condemned building, film crew; ghosts could just pop out of the woodwork, right? Director/Writer Kevin Van Hook turns things up a notch when the crew realizes that a group of wanted men have decamped to the penitentiary. The documentary crew doesn't realize just how dire this situation is until the spirits of Isla del Roca begin to manifest themselves. Suddenly, what started out as a crew of filmmakers trying to put together a movie turns in a bloodletting fest where it doesn't seem like anyone can survive.
While not the most original of ideas there is something about the performances by the main actors, mixed with Kevin Van Hooks, at times, inspired direction that makes Death Row stand out in a way that few direct-to-DVD horror titles don't.
CLICK HERE to read our full review of Death Row.
Thank you very kindly for reading this month's installment of the Anchor Bay Horror Show. To whet your appetite for our next installment here are the films we have on tap for you for April... Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Masters of Horror: Family, Phantasm, Dead and Deader and Noein. Once again, Anchor Bay is ahead of the curve in regards to movies, both past and present, that it is making available to the American public. We look forward to covering it each and every grisly step of the way...