With horror film collecting at an all-time high, more people are getting into a wider selection of older and more obscure horror titles. It’s a day and age where a collector’s edition of Body Bags exists, and thus it can be very surprising to find out some movies have never made the jump to DVD. But it’s true. A lot of good horror films were left behind in the VHS era and have never found their way out. Here are some of our favorites.
The Mutilator is a cheap, cheesy slasher flick from just about the time when people were starting to lose interest in that particular sub-genre. It focuses on a serial killer named Big Ed, who has always wanted to kill his son, ever since Ed, Jr. shot his mom when he was a boy. He decides to treat himself to some wish fulfillment. When Ed, now a young man, brings his friends up to the family condo for the weekend, Big Ed decides to kill them all off one by one. There are some inventive deaths here, particularly one inventive use of an outbound motor, and on the whole this is a silly, funny, gory flick. The VHS can be found on Amazon for a whopping $99.99.
OK, so this one isn’t a great movie, but it’s a very easy movie to have fun with. The plot centers on a Canadian military outfit working secretly to create a cybernetically enhanced werewolf with indestructible sense. If you think it sounds like a SyFy Channel movie, you’re right. But it was from a time when the channel’s name was spelled right and the movies weren’t about various combinations of sharks and other things. The werewolf effects are actually not terrible, in design if not in execution, and genre fave Kane Hodder (“Jason” of Friday the 13th 7-10) stars as the titular cyborg werewolf. Barry Bostwick also has a starring role. The VHS for this one pops up on Amazon and eBay from time to time and is currently priced around $19.
Michael Mann’s weird religious horror movie The Keep is an interesting film that’s definitely worth at least a look. Despite the A-level cast that includes the likes of Ian McKellan, Scott Glenn and Gabriel Byrne and the movie’s incredible director, it has never seen a DVD release. The story is very ambitious, based on a novel by F. Paul Wilson, and focuses on Nazis invading a monastery that is home to an ancient supernatural entity. The film deals heavily in religious themes and imagery, but is a monster movie all the same. It also boasts an incredible score by Tangerine Dream that really helps some of the longer, dragged out sequences. A large part of the reason for lack of DVD and Blu-Ray release is divided between Michael Mann and F. Paul Wilson who both hated the film and demanded it never be released on laserdisc or any subsequent media. It is currently streaming on Netflix, though, with the original Tangerine Dream score intact. The VHS goes for about $20.00 used on amazon, and around $70 new.
Necronomicon: Book of the Dead
One of the last of the Brian Yuzna/Stuart Gordon era of Lovecraft adaptations that began with Re-Animator, Necronomicon is an anthology made up of three stories, each naturally based on a story by HP Lovecraft. Some of them are very loose adaptations, with “The Cold” (based on Lovecraft’s “Cool Air”) being the most faithful of the trio. The major highlight is Jeffrey Combs, bringing this era of his career full circle by playing a Lovecraft himself in the films wraparound segments. The movie boasts an impressive array of creepy, slimy FX work for its budget as well as actors like Bruce Payne, Richard Lynch and David Warner. The VHS for this one goes for around $11.oo.
It’s especially surprising for a movie to never get any kind of DVD release after it has a big-budget remake. It’s a creepy and effective movie to boot. Bruce Davison stars as the title character, a social outcast who trains his pet rats to kill people. It paved the way for a lot of films to follow in the seventies. Its influence can be felt even in major films like Jaws and Carrie. The movie was a surprising hit when released and generated positive reviews, which makes lack of a DVD release all the more puzzling. On top of everything else it featured the fantastic Elsa Lanchester in one of her final roles. The VHS is available new on amazon from $79.99 and used from $10.00.
What are some of the titles you are dying to see released on DVD? The Prey, Hide and Go Shriek, Nightmare on the 13th Floor? Let us know in the comments section below!