AVCO EMBASSY PICTURES: UNSUNG HEROES OF THE B-MOVIE!

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AVCO EMBASSY PICTURES: UNSUNG HEROES OF THE B-MOVIE!

(Just click on the movie titles to go to our full length reviews!)

Some film fans may remember Avco Embassy Pictures, though there also may be some of you out there who have never heard of them…but if you love movies, you certainly know some of their titles! When talking about Avco Embassy Pictures, it would also be remiss not to mention the name of Robert Rehme…and as a B-Movie fan, you might want to know who this man is, too…

Originally a distributor of foreign films, such as Godzilla: King Of The Monsters and Fellini’s 8 1/2, Avco Embassy was founded by legendary producer Joseph E. Levine in 1942. It wasn’t until the 60s when the studio began to produce it’s own films, including such classic’s as The Graduate, Mad Monster Party and The Producers, to name just a few.

Some classic genre flicks released/produced by Avco Embassy in their early years!

The era that should resonate most with horror, action and sci-fi fans, are the years between 1978 and 1982. During most of this time, a man named Robert Rehme ran the studio. After having been sold and then experiencing some financial trouble that brought production to a halt, Rehme was hired to get the studio producing and profitable again and that he did! Rehme, who got his start working for Roger Corman at New World Pictures, used some of his former employer’s methods and turned to lower budgeted, yet popular B-movies to get the studio back in the black. Avco Embassy started churning out such flicks prolifically for the next few years, producing many inexpensive but successful films. Under his watch, the studio produced and released such classics and cult classics as Phantasm, The Fog, Scanners, The Howling and Escape From New York among many others! This strategy was a success, as studio earnings quadrupled during Rehme’s time at the helm!

Some of the classics and cult favorites the studio churned out under Rehme between 78 and 82!

All good things do, however, come to an end. Robert Rehme moved on to work for Universal in 1981 and Avco Embassy was subsequently sold in 1982. The name was changed to simply Embassy Pictures and the new owners gradually moved away from such B-Movie fair focusing on turning out more mainstream movies such as Eddie And The Cruisers and the classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap. Their last theatrical feature saw it’s release in 1986 and laid to rest the legacy of a studio whose early 80s flourish produced numerous classics and cult favorites. While Avco is now long gone, and Rehme apparently retired after a lengthy career, the movies they turned out, especially during their golden age between 1978 and 1982, will immortalize Avco Embassy Pictures and Robert Rehme with movie buffs for all time!

-MonsterZero NJ

Unsung hero of many a horror and B-Movie classic and cult classic, Robert Rehme!

sources: Wikipedia/IMDB/internet

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S DIRECTORS WHOM IT WOULDN’T BE HALLOWEEN WITHOUT!

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Everyone has their own favorite filmmakers whose works they watch during this spooky time of year. For me, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without the films of these legendary directors…

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02/13/2013 - Sam Raimi - "OZ The Great And Powerful" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals - El Capitan Theatre - Hollywood, CA, USA - Keywords: Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 - False - Photo Credit: Glenn Harris / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Portrait Face Count: 1

GEORGE ROMERO

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02/13/2013 - Sam Raimi - "OZ The Great And Powerful" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals - El Capitan Theatre - Hollywood, CA, USA - Keywords: Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 - False - Photo Credit: Glenn Harris / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Portrait Face Count: 1

WES CRAVEN

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02/13/2013 - Sam Raimi - "OZ The Great And Powerful" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals - El Capitan Theatre - Hollywood, CA, USA - Keywords: Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 - False - Photo Credit: Glenn Harris / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Portrait Face Count: 1

TOBE HOOPER

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02/13/2013 - Sam Raimi - "OZ The Great And Powerful" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals - El Capitan Theatre - Hollywood, CA, USA - Keywords: Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 - False - Photo Credit: Glenn Harris / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Portrait Face Count: 1

JOHN CARPENTER

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02/13/2013 - Sam Raimi - "OZ The Great And Powerful" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals - El Capitan Theatre - Hollywood, CA, USA - Keywords: Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 - False - Photo Credit: Glenn Harris / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Portrait Face Count: 1

SAM  RAIMI

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02/13/2013 - Sam Raimi - "OZ The Great And Powerful" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals - El Capitan Theatre - Hollywood, CA, USA - Keywords: Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 - False - Photo Credit: Glenn Harris / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Portrait Face Count: 1

DON COSCARELLI

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-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 31 HORROR FLICKS FOR THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!

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While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October…these are a mix of classic favorites and recent horrors that I feel are especially perfect to watch during the Halloween season!

halloween-pumpkins

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT
  26. HELLIONS
  27. TALES OF HALLOWEEN
  28. THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
  29. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  30. HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
  31. THE HILLS RUN RED

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS IT’S NOT HALLOWEEN WITHOUT TOM ATKINS!!

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tom atkins

Watching horror flicks during the Halloween season, there might be one face, aside from Karloff, Lee and Lugosi, that you might see more than once…and that familiar face is Tom Atkins. A cult favorite actor, Tom has appeared in a number of horror classics…especially during the 80s. So, in honor of this unsung hero of horror, here are 10 horror flicks that illustrate why it’s not Halloween without Tom Atkins!

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(Click on the highlighted titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews of the flicks covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo

2. The Fog

3. Creepshow

4. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

5. Night Of The Creeps

6. Maniac Cop

7. Two Evil Eyes

8. Bruiser

9. My Bloody Valentine (2009)

10. Drive Angry

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE BLIND DEAD SERIES

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THE BLIND DEAD SERIES (1971-1975)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Blind Dead series are four cult classic horror films written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Amando de Ossorio during the 70s. They tell four separate stand-alone tales about a sect of 14th century Templar knights who turned away from the church to Satanism and were excommunicated and executed for their rituals of human sacrifice and drinking of blood. They did, however, achieve a sort of immortality from their horrific ceremonies and now rise from their graves to continue their gruesome ways. They are blind…though the reasons vary per film…and hunt their prey by sound.

While a little too slow moving for me, personally, to truly embrace them as favorites, I do enjoy watching these spooky films. They are held in high regard, due to their thick atmosphere and creepy visuals…deservedly so…and are even believed, by many, to have been a strong influence on John Carpenter’s The Fog… but, more on that later…

 TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971)

Knotombs_of_blind_dead_poster_01wn in it’s native land as La noche del terror ciego, the first of this series centers around an abandoned monastery that holds the tombs of the Templar Knights executed for their practice of dark rituals. It is avoided by all of the locals and the subject of fearful folklore. A set of circumstances leads a woman to stay the night on the grounds and she falls victim to the bloodthirsty walking corpses who rise from their tombs. When her husband and friend form a search party to go looking for her, what they find is a nightmare they may not escape. The film is extremely atmospheric and Ossorio certainly knows how to make a horror film look spooky. The FX and gore may be a bit cheesy by today’s standards but, are still effective and the film can be quite unsettling with it’s walking skeletons that mercilessly stalk and gruesomely slay our characters in the abandoned monastery setting. A very creepy film. Stars Lone Fleming, César Burner and María Elena Arpón.

3 star rating

RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD (1973)

El Areturn of the blind deadtaque de los Muertos Sin Ojos is the second and arguably the best of the series. It takes place in the Portuguese city of Bouzano where there is a grand celebration going on to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the defeat and burning alive of a sect of Templar Knights that terrorized the village with black magic and human sacrifice. The Knights vowed revenge and when an angry local summons them from their tombs, the celebration becomes a slaughter and a remote church may be the survivors’ last hope. This flick is also very atmospheric, has some generous blood-letting and once again has a spooky visual style that can chill the bones. Ossorio gives his silent Templar Knights a lot of menace and their are some vivid flashbacks to give their vengeful characters weight. A strong entry in the series if not the pinnacle. Stars Tony Kendall, Fernando Sancho and Esperanza Roy.

3 star rating

THE GHOST GALLEON (1974)

El ghost galleonBuque maldito is the third and possibly the weakest of the four films but, is still very creepy and atmospheric at times. This story tells of a pair of pretty models adrift at sea for an outrageous…and dangerous…P.R. campaign for the new boat they are on. They encounter a fog bank and within an ancient Spanish Galleon that looks centuries old. When they board it, they find it filled with the walking corpses of the Templar Knights who proceed to gruesomely slay them. When a search party comes looking for them, they may be heading toward a horrifying fate aboard the ghostly ship. This entry might be the silliest story-wise, though, it has some of the best visuals with it’s ghost ship setting filled with the blind dead. It is slower moving than the usual moderate pace of these flicks and is sometimes hard to believe when a character is in peril and no one hears their screams, despite being not far away. On the plus side, the setting is very claustrophobic and the production design very effective. The lesser of the four, but not by much as the Templars are still effectively spooky! Stars Maria Perschy, Jack Taylor and Barbara Rey.

2 and 1-2 star rating

THE NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS (1975)

La Nocnight of the seagullshe de las gaviotas is the fourth and final film and is a bit stronger than Galleon. Returning to a land-based setting, this entry takes place in a secluded coastal village where a young city doctor and his wife have come to set up a practice as the local doctor retires. They are not well-received and soon they find they have walked into a setting from a bad dream. A nearby monastery houses the walking corpses of an evil sect of Templar Knights who, every seven years for seven days, descend upon the village where they are appeased by being offered seven village maidens as a sacrifice. When the doctor intercedes to save one girl, there is hell to pay…literally. Once again the film is atmospheric and has some disturbing scenes, especially in it’s flashbacks to the Templar’s heinous sacrificial ceremonies. The Knights remain creepy and effective and there is the expected amounts of gore to go with the chills. Ossorio quit while he was ahead and this entry does serve as a fitting climax to the series. Stars Victor Petit, Maria Kosti and Sandra Mosarosky.

3 star rating

And what about the alleged influence on John Carpenter’s classic The Fog?

THE FOG (1980)

fog_posterWhile I have never read Carpenter acknowledge any influences from Ossorio’s series…he has sighted the 1958 film The Crawling Eye and some real-life events as inspiration…some of the similarities are fascinatingly close. In the first film, there is a scene of a victim rising off of a slab in a morgue and sneaking up behind the mortician that evokes the similar scene of the corpse rising off the slab in Dr. Phibes’ office, to startle Jamie Lee Curtis in Carpenter’s film. Return of the Blind Dead features a last act where the Templars have the survivors trapped in a remote church which is exactly where the survivors find themselves in The Fog‘s intense ending. The Ghost Galleon may be the weakest film, but it bares the strongest resemblance to Carpenter’s ghost story with a haunted ship filled with walking corpses that is shrouded in a mysterious perpetual fog bank…much like Blake and his vengeful crew of lepers. Finally, Seagulls is set in a remote coastal village much like the atmospheric fishing village of Antonio Bay, that is setting of The Fog. If these are all mere coincidences, they are ones as spooky as the films they involve! It’s hard to believe this series wasn’t an influence on one of Carpenter’s spookiest classics, but the director himself has listed other inspirations…that do make sense, too. The Crawling Eye involved it’s creatures shrouded in a mysterious fog, as well and some of the historical events fit perfectly as the basis of Carpenter’s work. Who knows? Either way, as horror fans, we win!…as all five films are horror classics in their own right!

blind dead knights

Were Amando Ossorio’s Templar Knights inspiration for…

fog ghosts

John Carpenter’s Captain Blake and crew?…we may never know for sure…

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: HAPPY 35th ANNIVERSARY to JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG (1980)

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JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG (1980)

John Carpenter’s The Fog was released on February 8th 1980 and my butt was there in a theater to see it! So, in honor of the 35th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite horror flicks, I am re-posting this look back at Carpenter’s classic!

One of my all time favorite horrors and one of my favorite John Carpenter flicks, in fact, since I was too young to see Halloween when it came out, this was the first Carpenter film I saw in a theater and the flick that started me on my love of his movies.

The Fog tells the story of the 100 year anniversary of the small coastal California town of Antonio Bay and as the town prepares for it’s centennial celebration, a dark secret is revealed. Legend has it a leper colony paid the founders of Antonio Bay a lot of gold to let them settle nearby but, they were betrayed and murdered, as their ship was lured onto the rocks to crash and sink on a fog laden night. All were lost but, now a horde of vengeful spirits returns from the sea, wrapped in a surreal fog, to make the descendants of those who wronged them, pay with their lives.

The Fog focuses not on a main character but, a group of central characters whose individual experiences during this supernatural crisis bring them slowly all together for it’s tense and creepy final act set in the town church. A good cast, including Jamie Lee Curtis as hitchhiker Elizabeth, Tom Atkins as local fisherman Nick, Janet Leigh as centennial chairwoman Kathy Williams and Adrienne Barbeau as single mom and radio DJ Stevie Wayne, give life to this ensemble and make them characters we like and care about so, we fear for them when they are placed in harm’s way. Add to that Hal Holbrook as the town’s alcoholic priest and a host of Carpenter regulars…with even a cameo by Carpenter himself…and you have a film wonderfully filled with a variety of characters who are all potential victims for the marauding phantoms. As for those phantoms, lets not forget to mention the ghostly Captain Blake (FX man Rob Bottin) and his vengeful crew who are portrayed with in-camera practical FX. This makes them quite spooky and gives them a heavy dose of menace and a lot of effectiveness when they are on the attack. There is loads of atmosphere and some very solid scares and suspense created by Carpenter, along with some great cinematography from frequent Carpenter collaborator Dean Cundey, which makes this a good, solid, old-fashioned ghost story and a fun Halloween season treat. Carpenter again delivers a score which adds chills and foreboding to his tale of ghostly revenge, much like he did for Halloween and he starts the film off perfectly with a chillingly fun opening sequence featuring veteran John Houseman as a crusty sailor who likes to tell kids scary stories. It sets the mood for the thrills and chills yet to come. This classic was made back when there was no phoney CGI, just solid make-up effects from master Rob Bottin (who went on to do The Thing’s FX for Carpenter) and some very basic down to earth smoke and mirrors style visuals, that are as beautiful as they are scary. A great flick the likes of which they rarely make anymore and one of MonsterZero NJ’s must-watch flicks during the Halloween season!

The film is available, for the first time, on blu-ray from Scream Factory with all the extras from previous releases plus, an added new commentary track with Barbeau, Atkins and Tommy Lee Wallace and two really fun and informative interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis and Cinematographer Dean Cundey who also supervised the absolutely gorgeous new transfer!

4 spectral sailors!

Fog_Rating

 
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BOOK REVIEW: ON SET WITH JOHN CARPENTER by Kim Gottlieb-Walker

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This is one book review, I definitely need no excuse to post. Not only is it a great chronicle of the making of some of the early classics of the legendary John Carpenter but, an amazing album of behind the scenes shots from some of my favorite films from my favorite filmmaker…

ON SET WITH JOHN CARPENTER by Kim Gottlieb-Walker

John Carpenter is perhaps my all time favorite filmmaker and, as my favorite of his works are those from the 70s and 80s, this book was an amazing trip down memory lane and an incredible glimpse behind the scenes at some of Carpenter’s early classics as told through the talented camera lens of Kim Gottlieb-Walker with some comments and anecdotes from Kim, John Carpenter and some of those involved. The photography is not only breathtaking but, captures a side of the productions of Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, the Carpenter produced Halloween II and Christine that we’ve never seen before. Gottlieb-Walker was hired by Carpenter and Debra Hill as his unit photographer and as such, she captured some wonderful behind the scenes shots of cast and crew from these classic films. Add the commentary and some delightful stories from the photographer, Carpenter himself and others such as Adrienne Barbeau, DOP Dean Cundey and many, many more, and this book becomes a trip back in time to a long-gone era and a side of these productions that we have only barely glimpsed previously. It chronicles the rise of a legendary director and some other now very established filmmakers, as well as, shares tales of some sadly gone talents such as Lee Van Cleef, Issac Hayes, Donald Pleasence and pioneer producer Debra Hill. As a Carpenter fan, or simply a fan of filmmaking, this is a must-have book with some simply amazing photos that will take us back to the days when a group of young filmmakers and actors were making their dreams… and some of our favorite films… a reality. A simply beautiful book and instantly one of the most cherished in my collection… and it doesn’t hurt either that the largest section of the book is dedicated to Escape From New York, my favorite Carpenter flick and one of my all-time favorite films. I. Love. This. Book!

4 stars!

four stars rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 MUST WATCH HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON

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While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October… these are 25 favorite horror flicks that I feel are absolute musts to watch during the Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE FOG (1980)

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JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG (1980)

Since The Fog has just been released on blu-ray from the awesome folks at Scream Factory, I thought I’d roll out another Tomb Of Nostalgia and take a look back at this classic ghost tale…

One of my all time favorite horrors and one of my favorite John Carpenter flicks, in fact, since I was too young to see Halloween when it came out, this was the first Carpenter film I saw in a theater and the flick that started me on my love of his movies.

The Fog tells the story of the 100 year anniversary of the small coastal California town of Antonio Bay and as the town prepares for it’s centennial celebration, a dark secret is revealed. Legend has it a leper colony paid the founders of Antonio Bay a lot of gold to let them settle nearby but, they were betrayed and murdered, as their ship was lured onto the rocks to crash and sink on a fog laden night. All were lost but, now a horde of vengeful spirits returns from the sea, wrapped in a surreal fog, to make the descendants of those who wronged them, pay with their lives.

The Fog focuses not on a main character but, a group of central characters whose individual experiences during this supernatural crisis bring them slowly all together for it’s tense and creepy final act set in the town church. A good cast, including Jamie Lee Curtis as hitchhiker Elizabeth, Tom Atkins as local fisherman Nick, Janet Leigh as centennial chairwoman Kathy Williams and Adrienne Barbeau as single mom and radio DJ Stevie Wayne, give life to this ensemble and make them characters we like and care about so, we fear for them when they are placed in harm’s way. Add to that Hal Holbrook as the town’s alcoholic priest and a host of Carpenter regulars…with even a cameo by Carpenter himself…and you have a film wonderfully filled with a variety of characters who are all potential victims for the marauding phantoms. As for those phantoms, lets not forget to mention the ghostly Captain Blake (FX man Rob Bottin) and his vengeful crew who are portrayed with in-camera practical FX. This makes them quite spooky and gives them a heavy dose of menace and a lot of effectiveness when they are on the attack. There is loads of atmosphere and some very solid scares and suspense created by Carpenter, along with some great cinematography from frequent Carpenter collaborator Dean Cundey, which makes this a good, solid, old-fashioned ghost story and a fun Halloween season treat. Carpenter again delivers a score which adds chills and foreboding to his tale of ghostly revenge, much like he did for Halloween and he starts the film off perfectly with a chillingly fun opening sequence featuring veteran John Houseman as a crusty sailor who likes to tell kids scary stories. It sets the mood for the thrills and chills yet to come. This classic was made back when there was no phoney CGI, just solid make-up effects from master Rob Bottin (who went on to do The Thing’s FX for Carpenter) and some very basic down to earth smoke and mirrors style visuals, that are as beautiful as they are scary. A great flick the likes of which they rarely make anymore and one of MonsterZero NJ’s must-watch flicks during the Halloween season!

As stated, the film was just released for the first time on blu-ray from Scream Factory with all the extras from previous releases plus an added new commentary track with Barbeau, Atkins and Tommy Lee Wallace and two really fun and informative interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis and Cinematographer Dean Cundey who also supervised the absolutely gorgeous new transfer!

4 spectral sailors!

Fog_Rating

 
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