When it comes to genres with passionate fan bases, you can’t get any more die hard than horror fans. We are a bloodthirsty bunch that will gladly spend our good money on releases of our favorite movies. Distributors know this and many go the extra mile to make sure their releases are worthwhile additions to our collection. Some soar above and beyond to present us with restorations, packaging, and special features that show more love to these films than they ever may have deserved. As a collector of pretty much all things horror, I’d like to dig a little deeper and recommend some of the more stellar releases from the films in my favorite guilty pleasure sub-genre – the slasher film.
Intruder (Synapse Films)
I’m kicking it off with a humorous little splatterfest I have only very recently discovered; written and directed by Scott Spiegel, (From Dusk Til Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money & Hostel III) and produced by Lawrence Bender, (Kill Bill & Inglorious Basterds) comes the 1989 grocery store stalker masterpiece, INTRUDER.
Released on Blu-ray by Synapse Films and featuring Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, and a cameo by Bruce Campbell, Intruder showed up at the very tail end of the slasher boom. Audiences were getting burnt out on the same old formula; the genre became a caricature of itself and the films became sillier and sillier. Jason Voorhees would be heading to Manhattan in his 8th film appearance while Freddy would be trying to keep up as the 5th Nightmare on Elm Street released into cinemas this year as well. The age of the cheap slasher cash in was dead and gone but that didn’t stop the cast & crew of Intruder from making one fun little splatter film. Featuring some real humor, great deaths & gore from KNB Effects, and some unintentional goofiness, Intruder is a hidden gem of the slasher genre and deserves a spot on any collectors shelf. Featuring an all new 2K Digital Restoration, audio commentary with director Scott Spiegel, a making of featurette, extended murder sequences from the original work print, outtakes, and more; Synapse films has revived this comedy horror in all its gooey glory!
Sleepaway Camp (Scream Factory)
The first of a few Scream Factory releases making the list, Sleepaway Camp slashed its way into the hearts of horror fans way back in 1983 with an unforgettable shocker of an ending that propelled it to instant cult status. Honestly if you’re reading this list and haven’t seen this movie, what’s wrong with you?
From two time director Robert Hiltzik (Return to Sleepaway Camp), Sleepaway Camp is filled to the brim with comically bad acting, offensive characters, and an unbelievable amount of weirdness. While it doesn’t have much in terms of brutal death scenes, it does feature some fairly grisly make-up effects when we see the aftermath of some victims. Scream Factory has given us a gorgeous release of the film with a 2K restoration and a pile of special features, including two audio commentaries with director and stars, new interviews with the cast, the “Sleepaway Camp Scrapbook” featurette and more! If you enjoy the first film Scream Factory has provided Collectors Editions of Sleepaway Camp’s two sequels as well. What truly makes Sleepaway Camp worth a watch is a climax that will stick with you for years to come and the fact its filled with enough camp to fill, well, a camp…a Sleepaway Camp!
The Mutilator (Arrow Video US/UK)
Arrow Video in the US started it off big in 2016 with two wonderful releases of some forgotten 80’s slasher gems. The first of those two to make this list is 1984’s The Mutilator! Originally released as Fall Break and directed by the passionate Buddy Cooper, The Mutilator is an overlooked and absolute must see slasher flick filled with goofy characters, a silly villain with a battleaxe and some of the worst dialogue you can imagine. None of this stops The Mutilator from also being incredibly charming in its own right. It’s the simple story of a group of friends who head to a beach house for the weekend and get murdered. It’s also incredibly funny, unintentionally of course.
If that’s not enough to get your onboard motor sputtering, the movie also has special make-up effects created by the great Mark Shostrom (Evil Dead 2, From Beyond) in one of his first film projects! Shostrom creates a wealth of fun murders for The Mutilator, including one of the most brutal death scenes in slasher history. Arrow Video has dedicated an entire special feature to Mark Shostrom’s work with “Mutilator Memories” as the man himself shares stories from the set about what worked and what didn’t when creating the death sequences. That’s not even close to everything Arrow Video has packed into this release; “Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator” is a feature length documentary on the making of the film painstakingly put together by The Mutilator director himself, Buddy Cooper. The restoration of the film looks and sounds great as well with the brand new 2K restoration and uncompressed original mono track Arrow provides us with. I haven’t even covered everything this release has to offer like the beautiful slipcover, reversible art on the sleeve featuring the original title “Fall Break”, a booklet with essays on the film, and even more special features! Arrow Video has given The Mutilator more love than it ever deserved, and that is a wonderful thing.
Cherry Falls (Scream Factory)
Heading back to the Scream Factory for the next item on our crimson filled journey; recently released on Blu-ray is the under the radar Cherry Falls from the year 2000. Cut to pieces by the MPAA and eventually pushed out on USA as a made for TV movie, Cherry Falls flips the slasher genre on its head by making sex a way for the characters to survive instead of a sure sign of their future demise. Our killer in Cherry Falls has decided they only want to kill the towns virgins, and it’s up to the stellar cast of genre legend Michael Biehn (The Terminator & Aliens), comedian Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire), and the late Brittany Murphy (Sin City & Spun) to discover the killer’s identity by digging into the towns dark hidden secret.
While Scream Factory didn’t give this the Collectors Edition treatment like they have other films, this is still a worthy edition to any fan’s collection as the film is actually quite good. I not so famously said Cherry Falls is more Deep Red than Friday the 13th, and I stand by that statement. The film is very well shot, wonderfully acted, and has almost an art film vibe about it. It really is much different than the typical slasher fare which we learn was the intention with the in depth interviews with writer Ken Selden and producers Eli Selden & Marshall Persinger. This is a light release on features and packaging, but it certainly isn’t bare bones as we get a directors commentary, archive featurettes, behind the scenes footage, and more! The lack of gore and nudity are the only real detractors to this film, but it was a TV release so it makes sense that it would be on the safer side. I’m assuming if the cut footage still existed it would have been included here; as such, I think Scream Factory has provided us with an end of the line release for Cherry Falls! Put it on your shelf people!
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ( Arrow Video UK or Scream Factory)
Here to put our list to rest, our one and only double feature release on this list. Whether or not you live in the UK or the US you will have an option for a stellar release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; the batshit insane sequel to the original horror classic. TCM2 is a colorful masterpiece of bizarre packed with gore featuring the cannibalistic Sawyer family as they do battle with disc jockey Vanita “Stretch” Brock (Caroline Williams) and charismatic lawman Lefty Enright (played by the always delightful Dennis Hopper). Scream Factory comes at us with the more recent release of TCM2 featuring possibly their best artwork of any of these Collectors Editions on the coveted slip cover! Expanding on pretty much every release of the film so far, Scream Factory has not only included all past Special Features but a gambit of other brand new special features and a glorious new 2016 2K HD scan direct from the interpositive film elements. This truly is the definitive release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2!
Arrow Video in the UK may have been one upped by Scream Factory in delivering the definitive Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 experience, but what they have provided instead may be an even better package overall for the Tobe Hooper fan. Not only does this release of TCM 2 feature a beautiful transfer like Arrow is known for, but its packaged in a beautiful 3 disc BD/DVD combo box-set with each disc included in its own separate digi-pack featuring a character from the film. On top of this you get a 100 page perfect bound book, American Freak Illumination, with retrospective writings on the career and works of Tobe Hooper and the film itself. On top of the pile of special features about Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the 2nd blu-ray disc devoted soley to the early works of Tobe Hooper is what truly sets this release apart from any other and takes it to the level only Arrow can achieve. Featuring the short film “The Heisters” and his very first feature “Eggshells”, these may be essential viewing to fans of Hooper who would like to see what the man did before he took us to that dreaded Sawyer farmhouse for the very first time. If you’re Region Free and want not only a stellar version of TCM 2 but are a fan of Tobe Hooper, this is an essential release.
We’re only getting started on this journey of bloody bits and body parts, let us know what you think and we’ll be back with more soon, featuring 5 more entries from Scream Factory, Arrow and more; including trips to Manhattan, more summer camps, unstable twins, anthology horror, and of course some honorable mentions!