More Stories! More Horror!

Scary anthology movies used to be a dime-a-dozen. From 1945’s Dead Of Night through the Amicus tales of the early ‘70’s — with Scream Factory having recently put out a quite nice version of The House That Dripped Blood (1971) earlier this year (come for the Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee segments, stay for the Denholm Elliott and Jon Pertwee ones) — these were familiar and fun stories of terror and the supernatural. But soon, this subgenre soon dried up as budgets either soared or were cut to the bone. The anthology soon vanished.


Television quickly became the refuge of the anthology— and Kino’s recent release of the iconic Dan Curtis 1975 TV Movie Trilogy Of Terror is one of the most memorable. Curtis, best known for creating the Dark Shadows and Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV series, works from stories by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run) and wisely centers them around actress Karen Black, whose versatility is key here. The first segment, “Julie,” showcases Black as a meek college professor who’s blackmailed by a student, only for her to reveal a more sinister side, while the second “Millicent and Therese” (co-starring George Gaynes of Punky Brewster fame), is a psychological thriller featuring Black as two very dissimilar sisters who aren’t exactly who they seem to be. The third, “Amelia,” is the best-known, a relentless piece where Black, having bought “Zuni Fetish Doll” for her boyfriend, finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with the sharp-toothed doll when it comes to life. Everyone remembers the vivid last segment, but the first two are both effective psychological thrillers, with Black — featured in an archival audio commentary with William F. Nolan — shining throughout. The transfer on the new Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber is strong and clean, with an engaging and informative audio commentary by historian Richard Harlan Smith (one of the best around), a new interview with composer Bob Cobert and archival featurettes rounding out the special features.


There were a few anthology efforts in the ‘80’s— the indie feature From A Whisper To A Scream and Nightmares (a Universal TV movie rejiggered to be a feature) are noteworthy, but the best (and best-known) is George A. Romero’s Creepshow, his collaboration with writer Stephen King as they pay homage to the horror comics of their youth. Starring Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Leslie Nielsen, E.G. Marshall and Fritz Weaver (look for early performances by Ted Danson and Ed Harris as well), the piece aims for pulpy perfection with tales of the undead, creatures in crates, killer cockroaches and a meteor that gives Stephen King a literal green thumb. Romero and cinematographer Michael Gornick replicate comic panels with intentionally garish inserts that underscore the artificiality of the material— the scares are real (thanks in no small part to Tom Savini’s amazing makeup FX work), but the vibe is fun. Romero segued to his own anthology series, Tales From The Darkside (which would itself spawn a feature in 1990), and left 1987’s Creepshow 2 for Gornick to direct, but the results are more graphic— and significantly less fun.


Following a bare-bones release from Warner Bros., Creepshow has just been released in a lavish “Collector’s Edition” from Scream Factory, which showcases a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. The picture has never been as sharp and the colors have never been so eye-poppingly vivid. The original 2.0 stereo audio track sounds fine, but the 5.1 surround track seems to have come from a UK source and, while it mostly works, you can notice some of the vocals pitched higher because of the differences between the UK PAL and North American NTSC frame-rates (Ted Danson sounds the worst here). The disc is packed with new interviews — including a very fun roundtable discussion with Pittsburgh natives Tom Savini, Romero regular John Amplas, actor Tom Atkins and actor/grip Marty Schiff — a fun commentary track with Michael Gornick, deleted scenes, trailers, and more. Unfortunately, the disc doesn’t include Just Desserts: The Making Of Creepshow, Michael Felsher’s terrific feature-length 2007 documentary on the film, which is worth getting for many reasons, but particularly because of the contributions of George Romero, who passed away before being able to contribute to the new Scream disc.


Outside of 1995’s Tales From The Hood (a sequel of which was just released to Blu-Ray by Universal), the anthology feature lay dormant in favor of television shows like HBO’s Tales From The Crypt, Showtime’s Master Of Horror series and NBC’s short-lived Fear Itself. But in 2007, screenwriter Michael Dougherty (X2) parlayed his love for horror into Trick ‘R Treat, a fantastic horror omnibus that should have been a huge hit for distributor Warner Bros.— if they’d given it anything but a token festival release in 2008 and dumped it to home video two years after it had been completed. The film — detailing a series of characters played by the likes of Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker and Leslie Bibb encountering supernatural mayhem through an interconnected series of stories — became such a cult hit that plans are in the work for a sequel following Dougherty’s work on next year’s Godzilla, King Of The Monsters.


Trick ‘R Treat works where other recent efforts — such as the stiff British supernatural anthology Ghost Stories, which tries too hard to be self-consciously meaningful — struggle because Dougherty, working off his own animated short, Season’s Greetings (included here in one of the new extras), has fun with the material. The film isn’t as broad as Creepshow— one of the segments involving the spirits of the child victims of a bus crash is particularly creepy and unsettling — but there’s definitely a loose, comic-book vibe to these tales of Halloween vengeance and the way the stories overlaps makes it more cohesive than most other anthologies. The transfer is sharp, from a new 2K scan and extras are strong, including a lengthy retrospective by Dougherty. The step up from the original 2009 Blu-Ray isn’t as noticeable — both in terms of picture and extras — as it is with Creepshow, so the upgrade factor isn’t as essential unless you’re a die-hard fan. Still, it’s hard to beat the definitive package Scream has given us— a perfect Halloween treat.


You can purchase Trick ‘R Treat directly from Shout Factory or from Amazon.

You can purchase Creepshow directly from Shout Factory or from Amazon.

You can purchase Creepshow 2 from Diabolik DVD.

You can purchase Just Desserts directly from Synapse Films or from Amazon.

You can purchase Trilogy Of Terror directly from Kino Lorber or from Amazon.

You can purchase Ghost Stories directly from Shout Factory or from Amazon.

You can purchase The House That Dripped Blood directly from Shout Factory or from Amazon.

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