"I need some supplies. One keg of beer, and a six pack to ho
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 09/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With the DVD set Fright Pack: Man's Worst Friends, Anchor Bay Entertainment collects a sextet of gruesome films, previously released on DVD, now together for a very affordable price. My thinking is perhaps there is a large stockpile of these films about, and Anchor Bay was looking for a way to move them, as they weren't selling as well individually. Whatever the case may be, it got my attention, as the cost for buying the films individually would have been much higher than purchasing this set, and I've rarely been disappointed with Anchor Bay in terms of the effort they put forth towards the DVD releases...as far as the quality of the actual films, well, that's a different matter all together...
The 1st film in no particular order, is Rats: Night of Terror (1984) aka Rats - Notte di terrore, written and directed by Bruno Mattei (S.S. Extermination Love Camp, Hell of the Living Dead) and is probably the worst in the bunch. It's set many years after nuclear holocaust, and features a gang of goofy bikers discovering a deserted research facility inhabited by legions of mutated, highly voracious, furry rodentia. The movie includes some of the absolute worst dialog and acting I've seen in awhile, but definitely worth seeing if you get off on really crummy horror films. The special effects were decent, a highlight being an exploding corpse piñata filled with rodents. Anchor Bay Entertainment provides on this DVD a very good-looking, widescreen (1.85:1) anamorphic print, along with mediocre Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (some of it was really soft, in terms of the dialog, but perhaps that was for the best given the script). Special features include a lengthy theatrical trailer, a Bruno Mattei bio, an interview with Mattei titled `Hell Rats of the Living Dead' (9 minutes), and a 5X7 reproduction of original poster art included on an insert, the flipside listing the chapter stops. (2 out of 5 stars).
The 2nd film is titled Parasite (1982), directed by schlock auteur Charles Band and features the first starring appearance of a young, flat chested Demi (dem-EE) Moore. The film involves, again, a post nuke society, and a scientist on the run after escaping from a laboratory where he created a breed of super parasite, one of which is living in his guts (talk about having a bun in the oven!). The film is pretty rotten and directionless, but is notable as it initiated the minor 3-D fad filmmakers thought we craved back in the early 80s. The special effects (by Stan Winston) were so-so, a highlight being a creature exploding forth from an old woman's head...yum yum... Anchor Bay Entertainment provides a decent wide screen (the aspect ratio is listed as 2.00:1 on the DVD case), enhanced for 16X9 TVs, picture on this DVD, but since the film was originally presented in 3-D, there's a noticeable grainy quality through while watching the movie in regular old 2-D, which bothered me a little at first, until I got used to it...as far as the audio, there's two options one being Dolby Surround 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. Special features include a theatrical trailer, touting the movie's amazing stereoscopic process, along with interesting liner notes by Fangoria writer Michael Gingold, and a 5X7 reproduction of original poster art, both contained on a DVD insert. (2 out of 5 stars).
The 3rd film is titled The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) and was written and directed by Dario Argento (Suspiria, Phenomena), and features James Franciscus and Karl Malden. The story is about a reporter and a blind man on the trail of a maniac killer, where eventually they, themselves, become the targets. This is an early giallo (an Italian mystery suspense thriller) release from Argento that's quite good, despite the fact it features little in the way of actual clues tied to the identity of the killer ultimately making the big reveal kind of pointless. I have no idea why this film was included in the set, other than the fact it had the word `cat' in the title. Regardless, it's best film here, the highlight being a man, accidentally on purpose, pushing in front of a train. Anchor Bay Entertainment provides an excellent, `re-mastered, uncut, uncensored', sharp-looking print of the film, in widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic, on this DVD, along with a decent Dolby Surround 2.0 audio track. Special features include a featurette titled `Tales of the Cat: interviews with director Dario Argento, writer Dardano Sacchetti, and musical composer Ennio Morricone (14 minutes), two trailers, two TV spots, radio interviews with both Franciscus and Malden (8 minutes each), a poster and still gallery, talent bios, and a 5X7 reproduction of original poster art on an insert in the DVD case, the flipside featuring the chapter stops. (4 out of 5 stars).
The 4th film is titled Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (1977) aka Dracula's Dog, and was directed by Albert Band, father to Charles Band, who directed another movie in this set called Parasite, proving that schlock definitely does runs in the family...the film features Oscar winner José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac), obviously picking up a checking, in a story about how Dracula, hard up for victims, put the bite on a Doberman, and subsequently, years later, the since deceased dog comes back to life, looking for a new master. This is perhaps the most idiotic story in the bunch, but, again, fun if you like rotten cinema. The acting is so-so, as is the script. The special effects are bargain basement, a highlight featuring a phony baloney vampire pup. If you absolutely love dogs, skip this film as while I doubt any actual mutts were hurt in this movie, the appearance of violence towards canines is there... Anchor Bay Entertainment provides an excellent widescreen (1.66:1), enhanced for 16X9 TVs, picture on this DVD, along with clear, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Included is a theatrical trailer, and a 5X7 insert card featuring a reproduction of an original poster for the film, the flipside listing the chapter stops. (2 out of 5 stars).
The 5th film is titled The Black Cat (1981) aka Il Gatto nero, and was written and directed legendary Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci (Zombie, Conquest), loosely (extremely so) based on an Edgar Allen Poe short story, and features Patrick Magee as a mentalist who can talk to the dead along with controlling a black cat to do his bidding, his bidding being killing off those who tick him off. The story has huge, gaping holes, but Magee devours his way through the scenery something fierce, and that's certainly entertaining. If you're a fan of Fulci, particularly his more gorier outings, you'll be disappointed with this nutting bit of celluloid, as there practically none of that here, but what the film does have is oodles of psuedo-gothic, atmospheric fun. The anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) picture quality on this DVD is sharp and clean, and the Dolby Digital mono audio comes through clearly. Extras are minimal, featuring a trailer for the film, a bio for Fulci (which I've seen on other releases), liner notes (on the reverse side of the cover sleeve), and a 5X7 insert featuring a reproduction of an original poster for the film on an insert in the DVD case. (3 out of 5 stars).
The 6th, and final feature in this set is a production titled Slugs: The Movie (1987) aka Slugs, muerte viscose, co-written and directed by Juan Piquer Simón, who was also responsible for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 favorite The Pod People (1983), features a ridiculous story about slimy, mutated slugs rising from the sewers and feasting on residents of a small town. The film moves along pretty well for what it is, and the effects are decent enough, some highlights being a bedroom sequence and one that will have you checking your salad twice before eating. Provided is an excellent anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) picture, along with a decent Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. Extras include liner notes, an original theatrical trailer, and a 5X7 insert card featuring a reproduction of an original poster for the film. (3 out of 5 stars).
All in all a curious collection, some good, some rotten, but for the price, certainly worthy of checking out, especially if you don't already own any of these films. I'm most thankful for the fact it turned me on to The Cat o' Nine Tails, a movie I might not have ordinarily watched otherwise. Also, the packaging is pretty interesting, resembling a six-pack of beer, complete with plastic handle for easy carrying.
By the way, the 'Died on Date' on the bottom of my six-pack is 9/13/05...and the title of my review? It was taken from a 'Simpsons' episode. Doesn't that sound like something Homer would say?"