It’s an amazing time for film collectors. More titles are being made available in high resolution and getting top quality treatment than ever before. Old titles – some long forgotten – are being unearthed, remastered and are finding a whole new legion of fans. Many horror films, however, first made their way to DVD in an age when quality wasn’t as much of a concern. They received bad transfers, often had no features whatsoever, and with the treatment they received it’s not surprising that some of these movies simply faded away. Yet it is still frustrating when a beloved horror movie is not available to own on DVD or Blu-Ray. Especially in this new age of collecting. Once a title goes out of print, there’s no telling when – if ever – it may be granted a re-release.
While it may be a campy, silly monster movie it’s nonetheless an entertaining one. Rawhead Rex is based on a short story by horror master Clive Barker, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. As a result, the script itself is fairly solid, it’s the movie’s budget that keeps it from being a true classic. Still, it’s a fun monster movie that’s only made more interesting by providing fans with a glimpse of pre-Hellraiser Barker. Though the short story the film is based on is much more violent, one of the strangest sequences actually made it into the movie intact, and that’s Rawhead urinating onto the head of a priest who changes his faith shortly thereafter.
Fright Night: Part II
Of all the movies on this list, this one is nearest and dearest to my heart. Fright Night Part II has never gotten the treatment it deserves. The DVD was released for a short period in 2003, with no special features and a transfer that was taken directly from the film’s VHS release and yet it goes for well over $100 on eBay and amazon. While the movie may not be the classic that the original film is, it’s still a lot of fun. William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall reprise their roles (as Charley and Peter) from the original film and their chemistry is good (at times maybe even better) than it was the first time around. It’s popped up on cable in recent years with a hi-def transfer, yet no plans for a rerelease have been announced.
Phantasm I, III and IV
Here’s a surprising turn of events: As soon as the movie everyone hoped for and nobody expected (Phantasm: RaVager) was officially announced, three of the four films in the series went out of print. So, with the big final chapter on the way, the second film is the only movie currently available. This is even more of an ironic twist because for years and years Phantasm II was the only movie in the franchise not on DVD. Now that’s all been completely reversed. The DVDs editions of each of these films have already skyrocketed in price, hopefully this will be fixed as the next installment draws closer to release.
It’s with a heavy heart that I say this, but Lucio Fulci’s classic The Beyond is currently out of print. Hopefully this only means that a new, stunning Blu-Ray is on the way in the near future, but for now it’s simply not available. This is unfortunate as it’s one of Fulci’s best movies, possibly his magnum opus. It combines the director’s love of gore and surrealism and mixes them together in a nightmarish fever dream. This feature is compiled with visions of Hell, one right after the other, banded together by a plot about opening the Seven Doors of Death (also a common title for the movie) one of which a hotel belonging to the main character happens to sit on. It’s a combination of a supernatural tale, a demonic ghost story and a zombie film, as the dead begin to simply start walking their way out of Hell.
Alice, Sweet Alice
This endearing slasher doesn’t get enough credit as it is, so it’s sad to see that it’s not even currently available. It’s mostly known for being the film debut of Brooke Shields, but there’s a lot more to it than that. This one mixes in religious themes (its alternative title is Communion) with giallo-inspired thrills in a plot that focuses on a young girl who becomes a prime suspect when her sister is brutally murdered during her first communion. The movie is stylish, suspenseful and holds an interesting place in the development of the slasher genre. Hopefully it will see a re-release in the near future. [Editor’s Note: with Dante Tomaselli’s remake of the beloved classic on the way, the distributor may be waiting to time a re-release to coincide with the release of the reboot.]