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"The May/June Shout! Factory Blu-Ray/DVD Roundup"

Shout! Factory's Special Edition of Sleepaway Camp Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack cover
Courtesy of Getty Images

Well, it's back! Just before the end of the month to wet the appetites of Shout! Factory fans. So we have a nice little slate of releases from the label featuring some cult favorites and a follow up to a great first season to one of my 80's guilty pleasure shows. So let's get this party started!

"Sleepaway Camp" 1983/Rated R/1 Hour 28 Minutes. Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 (1:78.1 for this set) 1080p/English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Special Features: Audio Commentary with Actors Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten/Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Robert Hiltzik, Moderated by Jeff Hayes/Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Robert Hiltzik and Star Felissa Rose/At the Waterfront After the Social: The Legacy of Sleepaway Camp (1080p; 45:43)/Judy, A Short Film by Jeff Hayes, Starring Karen Fields (1080i; 15:53)/Princess, A Music Video by Jonathan Tiersten (1080p; 5:33)/Camp Arawak Scrapbook (1080p; 9:20)/Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots (1080p; 2:13)/Rare Images from Make-Up Effects Artist Ed French (1080p; 1:27)/A Demonstration of the 2K Film Scan Process (1080p; 9:00) features Ian Turpen, Imaging Technician at Technicolor

One of the more notorious and rather shocking horror films that was surprisingly one of the freshest and most original of any that were released during the horror flood of the late 70's and early 80's. The film stars Felissa Rose as Angela a shy introverted teen who's spending her summer at Camp Arawak with her cousin, Ricky after being awarded by the state to her Aunt Martha, who may have some screws loose personally after a horrific accident that took place years ago. After arriving at the camp, several weird occurances start to happen that have resulted in rather mysterious deaths in somewhat typical 80's horror fashion that include bees, snakes, hot water and plenty of knife wielding that leads to one those punch in the gut surprise revelations that no one saw coming and surprisingly it works! It works too well.

I'm not a horror fan and I've said it before, but I've grown to tolerate it after watching dreck like "Amityville 2: The Possession" (which now ranks as the most vile and disgusting films I've ever seen) and "Pieces", which still needs to be seen to be believed and a total laugh fest as compared to the former. "Sleepaway Camp" while it is not too gratious in violence, does work more as an effective suspense shocker that with its' out of the blue ending (which sorry I will definitely not spoil) is one of the better efforts during this period of time. The film is very implausable in both logic and storytelling that is severely lacking in the back story department, but if you turn off your mind for a little while, the shock ending is more than any enough to keep this one up there with some of the better ones. A very positive thumbs up. (****)

"Evilspeak" 1982/Unrated/1 Hour 37 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1/English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Special Features: Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Eric Weston/Satan's Pigs and Severed Heads: The Making of Evilspeak (1080p; 27:48)/ Effects Speak with Allan A. Apone (1080p; 14:37)/Cast Interviews include: Clint Howard (480p; 11:39), Don Stark (480p; 10:09) and Joe Cortese (480p; 6:55)/Theatrical Trailer (480p; 1:51)

Oscar Winning Director Ron Howard's younger little brother Clint is the star of this shocker that has been restored from the depths of hell (not literally, but close). The film revolves a social outcast named Coopersmith attending a Military academy who is consistantly bullied by his classmates and the staff. After being assigned to clean the basement, he finds the diary of a former priest named Father Esteban ("Night Court"'s Richard Moll) who was practicing some very dark arts. With the aide of a modern computer, Coopersmith summons what appears to be the dark underlord himself to unleash a rather unholy revenge through the academy that involves deadly pigs from hell, decapitations and other gory finishes.

The film which has now been restored back to its original longer cut before the MPAA made director Eric Weston cut the film extensively due to the graphic violence which there is plenty of in this version. The film has been out of print for almost a decade since Anchor Bay released the trauncated 89 minute version which became a sought after collector's item. The film works in the regard in its originality to the genre and for the use of a computer during that time which was somewhat unheard of and Howard is good here along with Joseph Cortese, a very solid actor. The film goes into "Carrie" territory towards the end, but it holds up particularly well for its type. Marginal thumbs up (**1/2)

"Final Exam" 1981/Rated R/1 Hour 29 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1/English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Special Features: Interviews with Cast Members: Joel S. Rice (480i; 6:47), Cecile Bagdadi (480i; 3:43) and Sherry Willis-Burch (480i; 4:58)/Theatrical Trailer (480p; 1:31)/ Audio Commentary with Cast Members Joel S. Rice, Cecile Bagdadi and Sherry Willis-Burch

Slow, pretentious slasher that centers around the final week of school at Lainer College which means final exams and lots of goofying around and partying till the break of dawn. While a group of students plan to prank the school with a phony call of a terrorist attack (definitely in poor taste at this point in time), there is a former student who has his own plans. As the shenanigans go on, a mysterious killer is roaming through the campus taking out anyone in his path that leads to a somewhat fateful horror conclusion.

The film is just a total misfire that really doesn't give you a real concrete reason why this killer is killing at this particular location or what his motivation is except that he was tormented there someway, somehow. Without the development of the culprit and rather idiotic characters that you just hope would get picked off one by one and quickly mercilessly wanting to turn off this film. That's how I felt about it this film which is just weak from start to finish. Thumbs way way down for this snoozer slasher wanna be. (*)

"Ravenous" 1999/Rated R/1 Hour 40 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1/English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Special Features: Commentary by Director Antonia Bird and Composer Damon Albarn, Commentary with Writer Ted Griffin and Actor Jeffrey Jones and Commentary with Actor Robert Carlyle/Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Antonia Bird/Costume Design and Production Still Galleries/Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots

This the late Director Antonia Bird's most commerical film by a major studio and in this case Twentieth Century-Fox. The film stars Guy Pearce as Captain John Boyd after defeating the enemy command in a battle of the Mexican-American War, but because the general realizes it was an act of cowardice that got him there, he is given a backhanded promotion to Fort Spencer, where he is third in command and a rescued man (Robert Caryle) tells a disturbing tale of cannibalism. Soon after Boyd encounters that the rescued man isn't who he appears to be and has developed a taste for human flesh along with his compatriots. Boyd soon finds himself struggling for a way to survive and escape to safety.

The film which I had seen on HBO years ago and now again recently on this spectacular looking Blu-Ray, the film has never looked better in its original 2:35.1 format which brings more justice to the great cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond. The film is a take it or leave it affair that, you have to love its ambition and you have to hate its execution. There are some very solid moments in it with Pearce and Carlyle playing off each other perfectly and they actually do save the picture in my view. The film also works stylistically due to Bird's direction and Ted Griffin's script does have moments of rye wit, but it is a little bit of a disappointment in the end. A marginal thumbs up for it's striking visuals and the performances of Pearce and Carlyle. (**1/2)

and New On DVD:

"L.A. Law Season 2 (1987-88)" 6 Discs/Aspect Ratio: 1:33.1/1056 Minutes.

Season two of this acclaimed series by creators Steven Bocho and Terry Louise Fisher, isn't as fun as the first season of series which I really enjoyed. It was at times too deadly serious, but there were some very strong episodes and introduced both "Set It Off's" Blair Underwood and "Darkman"'s Larry Drake as regulars on the show already added to the returning cast that included Harry Hamlin, Susan Dey, Corbin Bernsen, Alan Rachins, Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker and Richard Dysart.

This season pretty much builds the base for the following seasons that would follow which were major hits and major misses leading to a rather lacklaster finish twenty years ago. It's a good complimentary set without a doubt and fans of the series wil enjoy it for what it's worth.

Now the recap:

Sleepaway Camp/Thumbs up

Evilspeak/Thumbs up (Marginal)

Final Exam/Thumbs way way way down (Horrible)

Ravenous/Thumbs up (Marginal for performances and direction)

L.A. Law Season 2/Thumbs up

So that'll do it for this batch. The real solid gem here is Sleepaway Camp for true horror fans with Evilspeak coming a close second. So Happy Memorial Day to one and all and until next time...the Blu-Ray player is now off.