Horror Classics, Vol. 7 [DVD]
- SKU: 5920612
- Release Date: 08/12/2003
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- Digitally mastered
- Interactive menus
- Scene index
When unexpected radiation raises the dead, a microcosm of Average America has to battle flesh-eating zombies in George A. Romero's landmark cheapie horror film. Siblings Johnny (Russ Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O'Dea) whine and pout their way through a graveside visit in a small Pennsylvania town, but it all takes a turn for the worse when a zombie kills Johnny. Barbara flees to an isolated farmhouse where a group of people are already holed up. Bickering and panic ensue as the group tries to figure out how best to escape, while hoards of undead converge on the house; news reports reveal that fire wards them off, while a local sheriff-led posse discovers that if you "kill the brain, you kill the ghoul." After a night of immolation and parricide, one survivor is left in the house.... Romero's grainy black-and-white cinematography and casting of locals emphasize the terror lurking in ordinary life; as in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), Romero's victims are not attacked because they did anything wrong, and the randomness makes the attacks all the more horrifying. Nothing holds the key to salvation, either, whether it's family, love, or law. Topping off the existential dread is Romero's then-extreme use of gore, as zombies nibble on limbs and viscera. Initially distributed by a Manhattan theater chain owner, Night, made for about 100,000 dollars, was dismissed as exploitation, but after a 1969 re-release, it began to attract favorable attention for scarily tapping into Vietnam-era uncertainty and nihilistic anxiety. By 1979, it had grossed over 12 million, inspired a cycle of apocalyptic splatter films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and set the standard for finding horror in the mundane. However cheesy the film may look, few horror movies reach a conclusion as desolately unsettling. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi
The alluring presence of doe-eyed horror icon Barbara Steele enlivens director Riccardo Freda's passable sequel to his own Horrible Dr. Hichcock. Steele returns as Cynthia, the troubled widow of a sadistic murderer and necrophiliac, who had once conspired with her lover to murder her husband before she could become the next of his tortured playthings. Unfortunately for her, you can't keep an evil man down, as proven by the sudden appearance of the doctor's vengeful ghost. All is not quite as it seems, however, as we learn that the menacing apparition is somehow linked to Steele's mysterious housekeeper. A workmanlike effort from the otherwise capable Freda (I Vampiri), this film plays like a less stylish retread of Diabolique. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi
He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, and it's best not to get on his bad side in this quirky thriller that's gained a loyal cult following. Harry Straddling (Brandon Maggart) was traumatized as a child, when late at night on Christmas Eve, he walked into the family living room and saw his father, dressed as Santa Claus, having sex with his mother. Now grown to adulthood, Harry is malignly obsessed with the holiday season, particularly the myths of Santa Claus; he works for a toy company, he sleeps in a Santa suit, his apartment is stuffed with Christmas memorabilia, and he spies on the neighborhood children, keeping track of who has been good and bad. Harry's insistence that the toy company maintain high manufacturing standards does little to endear him to his co-workers, and his brother Phillip (Jeffrey DeMunn) thinks Harry has started to go off the deep end. One day, Harry snaps, and after dressing up as Santa, he steals a truckload of toys and delivers them to a mental hospital as presents for the young patients -- all well and good. But when Harry is then confronted by a group of people who don't believe he's Father Christmas, Harry reacts with violence, setting off a murder spree. Terror in Toyland (which was first released as You Better Watch Out and is now available on video as Christmas Evil) also features Patricia Richardson, who makes her film debut in a small role more than a decade before she gained fame on the TV series Home Improvement. Danny Federici of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band also has a cameo, as an accordion player at a community center dance. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Isle of the Snake People
The inhabitants of a small, remote island have been practicing voodoo rites and worshipping an evil priest named Damballah for years, but the local law officials generally turn a blind eye to this death cult's bizarre activities. Captain Labesch (Rafael Bertrand) arrives from the mainland, determined to crack down on the island's lawlessness and clean up the ineffectual, hard-drinking police force. He appeals for assistance from wealthy plantation tycoon Carl Van Molder (Boris Karloff), who owns nearly half of the island and wields a great deal of influence over the population. Van Molder has made the study of parapsychology his life's work and believes in the secret powers of the mind. He warns Labesch not to interfere with this forgotten island's ancient ways. Also visiting is Van Molder's niece, Annabella (Julissa), a temperance crusader who wants her uncle to help fund the International Anti-Saloon League. She falls in love with handsome police lieutenant Andrew Wilhelm (Carlos East), despite his fondness for rum. Meanwhile, beautiful native girls are being transformed into zombies, and a sinister snake dancer named Kalea (Tongolele) leads them to attack and devour any meddling policemen who get too close to their unholy rituals. When Annabella is kidnapped and prepared to be the cult's latest human sacrifice, Labesch and Wilhelm have to infiltrate their ranks to save her, and they finally learn the secret identity of the all-powerful Damballah. ~ Fred Beldin, Rovi
Cast & Crew
- Judith O'Dea - Barbara
- Russ Streiner - Johnny
- Duane Jones - Ben
- Keith Wayne - Tom
- Judith Ridley - Judy