I usually like to post my “This Week in Horror” updates on Monday or Tuesday, so I’m sorry I’m late this week. Need to start turning these around faster, but no time! No time! I’m moving to quoting official descriptions whenever possible for a little while to speed up the process. No theater releases this week to speak of, but what was released to DVD yesterday?
DVD Releases, December 14th
AKA: The Chronicles of Hollow Earth: The Next Race; The Next Race: The Remote Viewings
Mankind has lost a 300-year war against a genetically enhanced race they created and tortured. Now the descendants of that race — known as the “ghen” — control the planet from advanced underground cities within Hollow Earth. As rising dictator Crecilius Pryme urges his people to annihilate the remaining human population who toil in his factories above ground, a shocking secret is about to be unearthed that will change the lives of the Pryme family forever.
Stewart St. John, writer for a host of children’s television shows, makes his full-feature debut with this sci-fi flick. Although it looks a little goofy at times, the visuals are undeniably beautiful.
The Fishmen and their Queen
No trailer can be found for this 1995 sequel to Sergio Martino’s Island of the Fishmen (1979). To give you an idea of what you may be in for, here’s a trailer for the original creature feature from Italy. In Italian w/ no English subtitles.
After the fateful events depicted in “Island of The Fishmen”, The Fishmen and Their Queen steps up the game. Two teenagers prowl a devastated landscape, polluted by radioactive waste in search for food. On their quest of survival, they meet Socrates, a man who takes them to an island that seems a far cry away from the urban misery they struggled in. But the two youngsters ignore that the island is ruled by a beautiful but ruthless queen whose slaves are the hideous fishmen.
Four college students on spring break cross paths with the demon clown Killjoy. And Killjoy is not going it alone this time – he has raised 3 other demon clowns: Punchy, Freakshow and Batty Boop. A mysterious mirror transports the students and the demons to Killjoy’s demon realm where the students must survive diabolical trials!
Look at that face. Judging by that 3 up there, there must be 2 more of these. That’s unfortunate. Killjoy 3 comes to us from the director of Contagion and … haha!.. BLOOD GNOME!
No English subtitles
A perfect getaway for a group of friends turns into a nightmare in this amazing French micro-budget horror/sci-fi film! Thomas, Yann, Vincent and three female friends hop into their cars and travel to the French mountains for a relaxing weekend trip. On their way, a dangerous psychopath escapes from prison and there’s even talk of a ghostly female apparition haunting the area. After picking up a suspicious hitchhiker, a thick fog envelops their cars and sends them all over a steep cliff! Barely surviving the fall, they soon discover something even more horrifying. An ancient creature lives under the ground… listening and waiting. It’s ready to devour anyone and anything in its path and this group of friends is very much on tonight’s menu!
This ambitious low-budget French thriller promises dangerous psychopaths, ghosts AND big monsters. I’m intrigued, but reviews are difficult to find.
Darryn Welch’s explosive thriller SLAVE follows young American couple Georgie (Natassia Malthe) and David (Sam Page) as they visit David’s father Robert’s stunning Spanish villa, hoping to get his blessing on their marriage. The relationship between the father and son is strained at best, not helped by the dark skeletons of Robert’s criminal past. When left to their own devices the couple embark on a hedonistic night out, with seedy nightclub owner Marlon (a cameo by ‘king of hedonism’ Howard Marks) offering the full VIP treatment. Georgie and David are separated for a brief moment, but in that brief moment their lives are changed forever… and David is set on a course to uncover some troubling family truths.
Stars Natassia Malthe of uh… gems like BloodRayne 2 & 3, Alone in the Dark 2 and Skinwalkers. I’m not super interested in movies about pretty American damsels in distress in scary scary foreign countries. Unless it’s Taken. And that’s just because it’s fun to see Liam Neeson punch everyone on the planet.
Vampire Circus, a British Hammer Film Productions classic from 1972, is released for the first time in the States this week as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo! I’m going to go ahead and quote the description of this release’s special features as well as the synopsis.
A little girl is brutally slain by a vampire in a tiny 19th century Austrian village. Seeking revenge, the townspeople invade the foreboding castle of Count Mitterhaus and kill him for the crime. As the Count dies, he curses the villagers and vows that their children will all die so that he may someday return to life. Fifteen years later, as the village is ravaged by the plague, a traveling circus comes to town and distracts the villagers from their current hardships. Little do they know that their troubles are only beginning! The circus is actually a troupe of shape-shifting vampires and, as the local children start disappearing, they realize the prophecy of the long dead Count is coming true.
Synapse Films is proud to present VAMPIRE CIRCUS, now available for the first time on home video in glorious 1080p high-definition and loaded with amazing extras you can really sink your teeth into! Special Features Include: THE BLOODIEST SHOW ON EARTH: Making Vampire Circus – An all-new documentary featuring interviews with writer/director Joe Dante, Hammer documentarian Ted Newsom, Video Watchdog editor/author Tim Lucas, author/film historian Philip Nutman, and actor David Prowse. GALLERY OF GROTESQUERIES: A Brief History of Circus Horrors – A retrospective on circus/carnival themed horror productions. VISITING THE HOUSE OF HAMMER: Britain’s Legendary Horror Magazine – A retrospective on the popular British horror/comic publication featuring author Philip Nutman. VAMPIRE CIRCUS: Interactive Comic Book- Featuring artwork by Brian Bolland. POSTER AND STILLS GALLERY ORIGINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER
Although the cast includes some notable Hammer regulars, sci-fi fans will be thrilled to note the presence of not only David Prowse (Star Wars of course), but Lalla Ward (Romana from Doctor Who’s Tom Baker years) as well!
DVD Releases, December 15th
It’s really hard for me to find a trailer for this Polish-Swiss-French production that convinces me it’s a good representation of the film. I rather like this clip, below, but there is also a trailer (official? unofficial?) that depicts the film very differently. The linked Youtube video contains some nudity, implied sexual violence and people dancing around a mummified corpse? I think?
No English subtitles
ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI’S adaptation of Manuela Gretkowska’s provocative and hugely successful novel reaches new extremes in the depiction of brutality, sex, and passion as it tells the story of a young(ish) anthropologist driven by the mystery surrounding the death of a recently discovered shaman; and his growing obsession with an enigmatic yet violently perverse beauty known as “The Italian”.SZAMANKA (She-Shaman) is a film ‘without brakes’. Above all else, it is a ‘demonic’ film where characters are battlegrounds in the war between devils and angels, where angels are agents of God and devils are those of the Devil. This pulpy, sexually charged tale with its deranged erotic futurism underlines Zulawski’s commitment to stretch the limits of aesthetic expression by exploring themes beyond the pale in conventional cinema. Violence, exuberance and sexuality are its key ingredients. Through hysteria, possession and hallucination we see what the Polish writer Stanislaw Przybyszewski called ‘naked soul’.
I don’t know much about Szamanka. The screenplay was written by a feminist, Manuela Gretkowska, and the film generated a good deal of controversy in Poland for its sexual content and criticism of the Catholic church. The scandal forced the film into very limited viewings and this special edition is hailed as its first “proper release.”
My Pick this Week?
If you’re looking for a campy laugh, Vampire Circus for sure. If you want to see something more challenging and can handle some themes of sexual violence, I have a feeling Szamanka is the way to go.
We’ve got many articles in progress including our “Best of 2010” list. Hoping to get some new content to you soon. Thanks for reading!