Wednesday, 28 November 2012 15:50

The Island & Death Valley

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Welcome to Dailies, a column dedicated to bringing you both the obscure and the mainstream on DVD and Blu-ray. Being that a lot of us seem to have such a large appetite for varying film genres, this column will cover virtually everything I can get my grubby little paws on. Some of it will be good, and some of it not so much, but hopefully it will illuminate a few titles that you might not have seen otherwise, or perhaps just needed a reminder about. Either way, enjoy!

In this week’s entry, we’re going to be taking a look at a couple of new titles from the folks over at Shout! Factory via their new Scream Factory label: The Island and Death Valley. I gotta tell you, I’m just thrilled to bits with the quality of product that this company is putting out. Their transfers may not be the best that money can buy, nor are all of them overloaded with supplemental features, but they do give new life to mostly unseen sci-fi and horror film titles that a lot of us have either never heard of or have forgotten about. They cover some pretty high profile titles like Halloween II and They Live, but for me the real cream of the crop is the unseen stuff.

Looking at it from this perspective, imagine that it’s the early 2000’s again. DVD has finally gotten underway, and while it hasn’t totally replaced Laserdisc or VHS as a home video standard (at least at this point), it’s certainly gaining steam, and that’s thanks mostly in part to some great titles being made available on the format. As it became more and more popular and enthusiasts like us here at The Bits became more enthralled with it, DVD releases have since become a tug of war with the movie-buying public about which titles they want to go out and purchase. Genre film fans were happy to fork over their cash for unearthed titles like The Church, Turkish Delight or I Spit on Your Grave to companies like Elite Entertainment, Anchor Bay, Blue Underground and VCI. These companies were proud to serve up unseen cinema for the enthusiastic DVD-purchasing audience who became curious about a lot of films merely by the cover art or the extras that were included. They were so successful with it that they inspired major distributors to dig up other forgotten titles for release as well.

Before the economy went into the toilet, there was a huge boom of titles to come along that were given special treatment with boxed sets, special packaging and multiple cover arts (The Evil Dead being the most infamous of them all). After the economy collapsed a bit, we started seeing less and less of these titles as these companies were going in different directions and mainly sticking to releasing the movies that they knew would sell for sure, leaving other unseen gems in the dust. This was also the time when the remake boom happened, and remakes of mostly recognizable titles to audiences were a less risky way to put something into theaters than just simply going with something that they felt audiences might not be interested in.

Not much later, Blu-ray comes along. The economy improves a bit (not by much) and the need for more elaborate releases of unseen films begins again on a new format. Companies like Lionsgate, Anchor Bay, Kino International, Redemption Films and Blue Underground start off strong, but it’s Shout! Factory who comes along and suddenly dominates the game with quality over quantity, and so far, there’s no one else on the market who can even contend with them (at least in my opinion). In these dark days with the talk of physical media becoming obsolete, it’s a more than welcome return to the early days of DVD, and let’s hope that it continues.

And with that, here are Blu-ray reviews for two of Scream Factory’s latest titles:

The Island

Death Valley

And that’s all from me for now.

- Tim Salmons


Scream Factory

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