Best of the New Releases: Daybreakers
In the current climate of vampire mania that seems to be sweeping across pop culture, the Spierig brothers' Daybreakers is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. Featuring vampires that actually drink human blood and have a severe reaction to sunlight, Daybreakers punched through the sap and cheese to feature a cold and calculating vampiric society faced with a food shortage not unlike our own looming energy crisis. That we may soon be facing a similar socioeconomic situation makes Daybreakers hit that much closer to home. But quite frankly, any deeper meanings play second fiddle to the movie's clear-cut, first and foremost mission ... to entertain. It delivers in spades. Daybreakers is just a lot of fun, a good portion of which can be attributed to Willem Dafoe, who is simply wonderful as he so often is. If you haven't seen Daybreakers yet, what better way then in sparkling HD on this feature-packed Blu-ray with a full 7.1 lossless surround mix? See this yesterday.
Also out this week is the Paul Bettany-helmed Legion. I had such high hopes for this film based on the synopsis, and then the trailer came out. The trailer did have a few cool sequences, like the old woman scampering across the ceiling, but ultimately it failed to get me excited for the film. The big sticking point for me was the rubbery look of the demons, exemplified in one particular shot where a demons jaw opened up for a loud scream. For a scene that was surely meant to be striking, I found it to be almost laughable. They reminded me of the vampires in I Am Legend, a film I mostly enjoyed despite the rubber monsters. It's a shame more of these productions don't try to utilize practical effects. That said, I haven't actually seen the film, and the concept did sound pretty awesome, so who knows? Maybe the final film will best my expectations. Fingers crossed.
Best of the Catalog Releases: M
M is a classic in all ways. One of the first films to truly utilize the new technology of sound in motion pictures as a storytelling element, Fritz Lang's film starring the fantastic Peter Lorre as a murderer continues to amaze audiences. There is no finer home video distributer than the Criterion Collection. They immense time and effort poured into every release is a testament to their love of film. Their expansive catalog boasts over 500 titles on DVD and Blu-ray, and just as usual, they've spared no expense with this new Blu-ray edition of M. Do yourself a favor and check this one out soon!
Complete list of Horror releases for the week of May 11th:
Daybreakers - DVD and Blu-ray
M - Blu-ray (previously available on DVD)
Legion - DVD and Blu-ray
Underbelly - DVD - semi-interesting cover art with a nice pull quote from Dread Central.
Croc/Sea Beast/Shark Swarm - DVD - A Maneater Series triple feature?! Sweet!
In addition to all that, it seems Troma has started their own Archive or Vault series, releasing several titles on made-to-order DVD-R discs at $10 apiece. Here are the titles available this week:
Scream Baby Scream - written by Larry Cohen
Dead Dudes in the House
Death by Dialogue
Croaked: Frog Monster From Hell
Curse of the Cannibal Confederates
Bad Batch - doesn't have the same cover art, but it appears this is also part of the Troma releases
Blood Sisters of Lesbian Sin
Beyond Evil - starring John Saxon!
Demented Death Farm Massacre ... THE MOVIE - title exactly as it appears on the cover art!
There are a few other films using the exact same packaging and also being released by Troma, but listing Roan as the studio on the cover art that are also out this week, including:
The Vagabond Lover - starring Sandrine Bonnaire and written and directed by Agnes Varda?!
That Unvertain Feeling - directed by Ernst Lubitsch
The Ape - starring Boris Karloff
Of interest (these films aren't exactly horror but might be noteworthy to horror fans for one reason or another):
Malice in Wonderland - DVD - a modernized version of Alice starring Maggie Grace and Danny Dyer.
Legend of the Tsunami Warrior - DVD and Blu-ray - I don't even know what to say about this one.
Tidal Wave - DVD and Blu-ray - Magnet is having a busy week, between Malice and Legend and now ... Tidal Wave. Possibly the greatest title ever? This is and Legend both look like SyFy movies made in Asia. I'll bet there better over there.
Follow the Prophet - DVD - I wish I had a chance to check this out before writing this week's column. When I first glanced at it, I honestly couldn't tell if it was a documentary or maybe in documentary style, or just a narrative meant to raise awareness. The film is about a young girl who's father is going to "give her away as the secret bride to the Prophet of a fundamentalist polygamy cult." (quote from the Amazon Product Description) After re-reading the synopsis, it is a straight narrative but it's definitely meant to inform like a documentary would, and in this case warn and possibly disgust and anger the viewer as well. Horror veteran Tom Noonan stars as the Prophet. The cover includes the words "based on shocking current events" as well as a pull quote stating that the film represents "the dark underbelly of Big Love." I really don't know what to think about this one.
We'll be back next week with a look at the titles coming out on May 18th!