Ten Blue Rider Films Air on Cable in March 2014In March 2014, 10 films produced and/or financed by Blue Rider are airing on North American cable television. Jackie Chan stars in comedy adventure AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, seen at Starz Cinema. Escape drama RESCUE DAWN (Christian Bale, Steve Zahn) can be seen on Showtime Too. Horror films CHILDREN OF THE CORN V and CHILDREN OF THE CORN 666 are on Showtime Beyond. A couple of Burt Reynolds films debut on cable this month. Poker drama DEAL: THE GAME IS ON (with Charles Durning and Jennifer Tilley) plays on both Epix 2 and Epix 3. And heist comedy THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN (with Tom Berenger and Rod Steiger) screens on TMC-X. Campus horror flick WISHMASTER 3 scares on Epix Drive-in. Rodney Dangerfield comedy MY 5 WIVES amuses on Starzz Cinema. PINOCCHIO'S REVENGE can be seen at Epix Drive-in. And concert film NICKELBACK: LIVE AT STURGIS rocks out at AXS.
Two Raves for Night of the Demons, Now Out on Blu-RayJohn Gordon Sullivan of DVD Verdict wrote: My favorite minor horror franchise is Night of the Demons. In three films, this franchise spawned a fairly unique take on the slasher formula, offering plenty of gothic moments of teen misbehavior and wacky demonic-possession hijinks. As a cult classic, the first film in the franchise has received its share of decent home video releases. However, fans can throw those away, as Night of the Demons (Blu-ray) is pretty much the definitive edition.
Fans will want to rush out for Night of the Demons (Blu-ray). The audiovisual upgrade is simply fantastic, and the extras are pretty much definitive. I can't imagine a better edition of the film. If you're not a fan and haven't given the film a try, it's a wonderful slice of eighties horror that fans of the era should definitely check out.
This time I noticed just how different Night of the Demons is from its eighties counterparts. The film isn't a killfest from start to finish. Instead, we get almost half the running time before things really start to happen in terms of gore and kills. Though I wouldn't argue that the kids involved in this Halloween massacre are Shakespearean creations, they are a bit more delineated than the average slasher bait. That first half is crucial for establishing atmosphere, from the creepy Hull House to the weird dancing of Angela. Then, once things kick off, Night of the Demons makes a crucial decision that sets it above many of its contemporaries: rather than giving us a single bad guy to stalk each of the characters, multiple teens are possessed. This gives the final act a lot more momentum and sets it apart from the many hack-and-slash horror films of the era.
Extras are where this release really shines. Things kick off with a pair of commentaries. The first is a vintage track from 2004 featuring director Kevin Tenney, producer Jeff Geoffray, and exec producer Walter Josten that covers a lot of ground, including the difficulty casting the film and wrangling a low budget. Then, we get a new commentary again featuring Tenney, along with effects guru Steve Johnson and stars Cathy Podewell, Billy Gallo, and Hal Havins. This track is a bit more anecdotal, but both are fun. Then, we get a 72-minute documentary that's brand-new and goes into pretty much everything you could want to know about the making of Night of the Demons. All the major players show up for interviews, and there's plenty of footage to spice up their talking-heads. Mimi Kincade gets an extended 23-minute interview, which is nice for the star of the franchise. We also get a host of promo material, including a pair of trailers, a TV spot, a radio spot, and an EPK. Finally, there's a set of still galleries. Also in the set is a DVD copy of the film, and the liner notes are reversible.
Eric Cotenas of Netflix Movies Online wrote: Director Kevin Tenney's follow-up to the home video favorite WITCHBOARD, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is quintessential eighties horror fun. The plot is campy and could have produced a more family-friendly or a raunchier horror-comedy, but Tenney and company go for scares and get them. The demons do not actually make an appearance until roughly forty minutes into the film, but the usual partying, jokes, pranks, sex, nudity, and jump-scares as the character are introduced and then wander the corridors of Hull House don't wear on the viewer, thanks to an attractive and likable cast of eager newcomers giving some depth to sketchy slasher film characterizations.
On Halloween night in a Midwestern town, goth Angela (Amelia Kinkade, ROAD HOUSE) and her sexpot friend Suzanne (Linnea Quigley, DON'T GO NEAR THE PARK) decide to throw a party at Hull House, a funeral parlor built on cursed land and long abandoned since the night one of the Hulls massacred the rest of the family and committed suicide (it was too messy to discern which one was the killer). The guests include "good girl" Judy (Cathy Podewell, TV's DALLAS), preppy Jay (Lance Fenton, HEATHERS), wise guy Sal (Billy Gallo, PRETTY WOMAN), slob Stooge (Hal Havins, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA), scared black guy Rodger (Alvin Alexis, THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET) and crybaby Helen (Allison Barron, BEVERLY HILLS BODYSNATCHERS), as well as horny couple Max (Philip Tanzini, TV's GENERAL HOSPITAL) and Frannie (Jill Terashita, SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND). A séance rouses dormant evil forces and they start taking over the kids one by one, transforming them into demons with gory death on their minds. As their numbers dwindle, the surviving guests may not be able to survive until dawn.
Once all hell breaks loose, Tenney and company pile on the set-pieces, both gory and visually dazzling. Possessed Angela's strobe-lit dance to Bauhaus' "Stigmata Martyr" is a wonderfully indulgent piece of filmmaking for a low budget production – showcasing the talents of dancer Kinkaide and cinematographer David Lewis (who also shot the sequel) – while Quigley's Suzanne is just as memorable as her turn as "Trash" in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Steve Johnson's budget-belying demon make-up and some gnarly gore add an extra level of dread to the stalk-and-kill scenes that occupy much of the latter half of the film. As with WITCHBOARD, the director's brother David Michael Tenney provides the score; highlights of which include the animated title sequence's synth.
Two Recent Rave Reviews for Witchbord, Now on Blu-RaySchlockmania’s Back-Up Blog says: A notable success story from the mid-to-late ’80s was Kevin Tenney, a California film school grad who got a couple of his films to the theaters during this twilight era. The first and perhaps most successful of these was Witchboard, a ghost/possession-themed horror film that became an indie-sized hit at the theaters and endures as a cult favorite with ’80s horror fanatics.
The premise of Witchboard is built around the Ouija board. The story begins at a party thrown by Linda (Tawny Kitaen), who is trying to keep the peace between her current boyfriend, Jim (Todd Allen), and her well-to-do ex Brandon (Stephen Nichols). Brandon is interested in the occult and has brought the Ouija board to the party, much to the amusement of Jim. Brandon and Linda attempt to communicate the patron spirit of the board, only for the little exhibition to go awry.
And this unleashes a danger that even Brandon didn’t see coming: Linda becomes obsessed with using the Ouija, attempting to befriend the spirit. The spirit uses her interest to possess her and wreak havoc in the world of the living. As people around them start to die in mysterious ways, Jim and Brandon have to overcome their differences to find a way to save Linda.
The most impressive thing about Witchboard is its sense of discipline. At a time when indie horror filmmakers were cramming their films with makeup effects and sleaze, Witchboard invests itself in storytelling. Tenney’s script actually uses Ouija lore to impressive effect and invests a surprising amount of screen time to dimensionalizing its characters and their relationships. The results are modest, b-movie level stuff but done with an earnestness that is surprising and welcome in a popcorn horror flick.
It helps that Tenney has a decent cast for a first-timer. Allen is fairly charismatic as an antihero who slowly shifts into a hero, and soap opera vet Nichols is melodramatic in a likeable way as his foil. It’s also worth noting that Nichols has to carry the majority of the film’s exposition and does so with subtle skill. Elsewhere, a pre-rock video stardom Kitaen shows she could have done the scream queen thing if she’d wanted to, and Burke Byrnes turns in a slyly humorous supporting turn as a cop who is suspicious of Jim. Kathleen Wilhoite turns up in a brief cameo as a psychic: her gonzo humor will either grate or amuse depending on your taste, but either way, she’s hard to forget.
Tenney’s direction enhances the film’s sense of discipline. The killings are doled out sparingly but he works his set pieces with inventive camerawork and a sense of polish that reaches for a Hollywood level. He’s much more interested in the mechanics of building a shock rather than throwing the splatter around, and his clean, direct sense of craftsmanship is one of the film’s key assets. Unlike a lot of first-time directors, he doesn’t use wild camerawork for its own sake and sparingly uses it for effect: the best moment in this vein is a dramatic moment where the camera stays with a character as they plummet from a second-floor window.
In short, Witchboard is a quietly effective piece of work–an unusual compliment for an ’80s horror film, to be sure. It’s become popular in recent years to bash this film for being too melodramatic or too sparse in scares, but its spartan approach to the genre is actually one of its biggest strengths. It never overreaches and concentrates on hitting its marks in a smart, cost-effective and story-driven way. Low budget horror could use more films like that.
At Hellnotes, Brian M. Sammons writes: In1986 it was about time someone made a movie about the evils of Ouija board abuse. That movie was Witchboard, and not only did it have a very good starting point, it was thankfully a well-made and truly scary movie. If you’ve seen it, then you know that already, and you will no doubt get this new Blu-ray. However if you’ve never seen Witchboard, then come along with me and let me tell you about one of my favorite fright flicks from the 1980s.
Witchboard is concerned with building tension and dread rather than shocks and jump scares, although it has a few of those, too. It is more interested in scaring you than entertaining you, and I like that when it’s pulled off well, as it is here. The direction is solid and all three of the main actors deliver good performances, although my favorite character is the colorful psychic, Zarabeth, played to wisecracking, gum-chewing perfection by Kathleen Wilhoite.
As for the extras on this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Scream Factory, first and foremost this movie looks amazing in HD. If that wasn’t special enough, there are also a lot of goodies found here. There is one brand-new commentary track with writer/director Kevin Tenney and actors Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite, and James Quinn. There is another commentary with Kevin Tenny, Executive producer Walter Josten, and producer Jeff Geoffray. There is a making of documentary on here called “Progressive Entrapment” that runs 46 minutes. There is a “vintage” making of segment here that’s 7 minutes of behind the scenes video shot on the set. There is also over 20 minutes of interviews with the cast, combined with more behind the scenes stuff that was also shot back in the 1980s. There’s another 20 minute chunk with actors Todd Allen and Stephen Nichols. There’s 20 more minutes with the crew that worked so hard to put the sets together for the film. And then 20 more minutes of “life on a movie set” footage. There is also 21 minutes of interviews and behind-the-scenes bits with even more crew. As if all that wasn’t enough, there are the usual trailers, a collection of outtakes, a photo gallery, and a promo gallery. That is a whole bunch of love for this film, and I for one loved it all.
Witchboard is a solid, well-made, effective little fright film. It’s got plenty of style and loads of that 80s charm I just can’t get enough of. Because of that, I highly recommend this new Blu-ray to any horror fan. For those so interested, this comes out February 4th, 2014.
Two More Rave Reviews for NIGHT OF THE DEMONSSchlockmania Back-Up Blog’s Review of the Film: Night Of The Demons is a textbook example of a potboiler for the horror crowd and has become a favorite with many ’80s horror enthusiasts since its original release. It consists of a first half that sets up its characters with a lot of distinctly ’80s “party animal” humor and a second half that gleefully knocks those characters down in a cost-effective fashion by keeping it all in the same abandoned house.
Night Of The Demons has earned a cult following for its ability to function at that party movie level. The film benefits from an earnest cast that puts forth its best effort: Podewell is a solid “final girl,” Gallo is the wittiest of the bunch and Quigley is an enthusiastic presence whether she is topless, bottomless or coated in latex scare makeup. On that note, the film also benefits from excellent makeup effects by a young Steve Johnson, who comes with unique designs for the demons and enacts them with some innovative face-stretching prosthetics.
The most important element of Night Of The Demons is the direction by Kevin Tenney. He props up the film’s narrative with an attention to production values and cinematic craft, including a great haunted house location and sleek, colorful cinematography from David Lewis. Both elements keep the film interesting during its slow buildup.
Once the real horror material kicks in, Tenney cuts loose using a bag tricks cribbed from sources as diverse as Jaws and The Evil Dead. His direction shows a nice understanding of how to craft a set piece, particularly a tense moment on the roof, and the kinetic energy of his work keeps the film on its feet all the way to the end credits. He also crafts some memorable stand-alone moments along the way, the most popular with fans being an impressive moment where the possessed Angela dances to a Bauhaus song before a roaring fire and a freaky FX illusion where a tube of lipstick disappears into a breast via the nipple.
Simply put, Night Of The Demons is more of a funhouse ride than a movie. If you can roll with approach, this little romp has some charm on its own party-movie level.
Shlockmania’s Back-Up Blog writes of the extras: Night Of The Demons is a deluxe blu-ray/DVD set that offers an impressive array of extras old and new. This is a film with a strong cult audience and Scream Factory has really gone all-out to earn their favor with this release.
Things starts with a nice new transfer of the film. The blu-ray does well by a challenging film: the film takes place entirely at night, with much of it taking place in dimly-lit interiors. Black levels are appropriately strong and the colored lighting registers nicely. The overall image is nice and sharp for a vintage low-budget production, thus offering a testament to how skillfully shot the film is.
The extras begin with two commentary tracks, one new and one old. The new track features Kevin Tenney as leader/moderator and also features actors Cathy Podewell, William Gallo and Hal Havins plus FX maestro Steve Johnson. Unlike a lot of group tracks, this one is as strong on information as it is on enthusiasm. Tenney takes the lead and delivers a lot of specifics on the tight schedule and technical details, including interesting breakdowns of how many different camera moves were achieved. Johnson covers the makeup FX info and adds some wry asides about “chemical” use that kept him going on the shoot.
The actors supply fun comments specific to their experiences: Gallo has a funny/creepy tale about a run-in with a local during the shoot, and Podewell’s reaction to her brief butt-baring scene is a hoot. All in all, this track is strong on both info and entertainment, making it a fun listen for fans.
The other commentary track dates back to the old Anchor Bay DVD release and features Tenney along with producers Walter Josten and Jeff Geoffray. Tenney repeated a lot of stories from this track on the newer one, but this track is worthwhile for fans as it’s more subdued and analytical, looking at the movie from a film-biz perspective. There’s a lot of praise for writer/producer Joe Augustyn’s script, plus Tenney goes into detail on how the photography and production design enhanced the film. The director also reveals that every scene shot for the film was used in the finished edit!
The heart of the extras is “You’re Invited,” a 71-minute retrospective from extras producer Aine Leicht. Tenney, Augustyn, Johnson, the producers, and most of the cast appear in this comprehensive piece, which covers the film from its inception through production and distribution, also offering the contributors’ thoughts on the film’s following. The filmmakers are frank about their disagreements as the film came together, also revealing why the title was changed and a breakdown of script changes (usually implemented for budgetary reasons). There’s even an in-depth account of the film’s impressive opening animated titles sequence.
The actors get plenty of room to share their memories once the piece moves into the production phase, with everyone having something to say about the creepy house location, the horrors of the “blue smoke” used for diffusion in the interiors and the physical rigors of the makeup (Kinkade and Linnea Quigley get the most screen time in this area). On the latter note, Johnson is candid about the ego he invested in designing and enacting his effects – and he tells some great stories about how he fell for Quigley, whom he later married. The latter stages of the segment offer some interesting stories of how the film was successfully self-distributed and promoted. All in all, this is a consistently engaging and sharply-paced documentary, with Kinkade and Johnson being its biggest scene stealers.
Those entertained by the snippets of Kinkade in the documentary will be happy to see there is also a 22-minute interview piece devoted solely to her. A lot of this stuff is longer versions of clips used in the documentary, but there are some interesting bits rescued from the cutting room floor, including more info on the rigors of the makeup she had to wear in the Demons films and her later career as an animal rights advocate.
Along similar lines is a brief piece called “Allison Barron’s Demon Memories,” a 4-minute segment where the actress narrates a series of behind-the-scenes shots she kept from the film’s shoot. She covers a lot of ground in a short space, including the rigors of makeup and promoting the film during its theatrical release, and the selection of shots keeps it engaging.
The remainder of the extras are devoted to an extensive array of promotional material. For starters, there are no fewer than five types of coming attractions included here. The first is a theatrical trailer that starts in a comedic style and deftly shifts to horror, even managing to work in two topless shots(!). The TV spots are all edited down from the theatrical trailer: interestingly, they all use the same “the party’s just begun” dialogue in their tags. A video trailer is cut differently from the theatrical spot and makes great use of the Bauhaus song used in the film’s dance sequence. There’s even a radio spot that uses an amusing, faux-interview with patrons format and mentions the film’s infamous lipstick scene.
However, the most unique inclusion amongst the trailers is a promo reel aimed at video store owners. It starts like a trailer but quickly works in review quotes and box office statistics before closing with a breakdown off all the promotional items that the distributor would make available to purchasers (everything from a Spanish-language version of the film to a standee with a glowing lights in its eyes!).
The last items in the promo materials area are a series of four still galleries that offer over 300 different images. The behind-the-scenes gallery features many shots of the actors and crew at work, plus some interesting shots of the location sans visual effects trickery. A makeup effects gallery not only shows photos of Johnson at work but also an array of continuity Polaroids and some design sketches. Stills and publicity photos are captured in an area simply marked “photo gallery,” while posters for both titles of the film and full-color storyboards get their own gallery.
In short, Scream’s dual-format edition of Night Of The Demons is a real everything-but-the-kitchen-sink affair that goes the extra mile for this cult favorite. Any fan of the film will want to pick up this upgrade
An Article Describing the Extras on The Blu-ray WITCHBOARDAt Schlockmaniac Back-Up Blog: Scream Factory has a serious sweet tooth for ’80s horror, so it’s fitting that they’ve done the blu-ray honors for Witchboard, a serious cult fave with the ’80s horror crowd. It’s obvious that it’s also a favorite with the producers at Scream Factory as they put in quite an effort here, delivering a nice new transfer and supplementing it with an array of bonus features new and old.
Things start on a good note with a sleek-looking high definition transfer used on both discs. The blu-ray was used for this review and the results look nice for a mid-’80s low-budget film: black levels are solid during the night sequences, the colors have a new richness and the detail gets a new boost in clarity. The audio offers a lossless presentation of the film’s original mono mix: thus, there is no directional speaker activity but the blend of dialogue, music and effects works and has a nice punch.
The set’s cavalcade of extras begins with two commentary tracks. The first track dates back to the film’s Anchor Bay DVD release and features writer/director Kevin Tenney, producer Jeff Geoffrey and executive producer Walter Josten. It was the first film for all three, so they have pretty vivid memories of the production and are quick to share them.
Topics discussed include having to replace the cinematographer early in the shoot, the technical challenges involved in different set pieces and how the use of a Ouija board presented legal challenges that had to be deftly negotiated. Tenney self-deprecatingly notes the role that “dumb luck” played in their success, including how the sudden popularity of Stephen Nichols on TV and Tawny Kitaen in music videos helped spark interest when the film was released. All in all, it’s a good nuts-and-bolts track that gives you a sense of the work involved in making a polished low-budget film.
The second commentary track was recorded for this set and features Tenney with cast members Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite and James Quinn. It establishes a nostalgic and witty vibe early on, thanks to the chemistry of the participants. Quinn and Tenney were childhood friends (a topic they discuss here), so they make a pretty amusing pair of cut-ups; Wilhoite self-effacingly asks Tenney questions to keep him primed; and Nichols adds the occasional wry aside, with his mock-indignance about his hand model in the Ouija board scenes becoming a running gag.
There are fun tales of the rigors of the shoot, practical jokes and some revealing details from Tenney about why he took a long break from filmmaking. In short, this commentary offers a nice counterbalance to the other track and makes for a fun listen.
The heart of the video-based extras is a new documentary featurette on the film entitled “Possessive Entrapment.” Tenney, Geoffray and Josten are on hand to set up the genesis of the film and its production, including some interesting info on how Tenney left film school to make this movie, but it devotes more time to the cast and how different special effects were achieved.
Todd Allen, Kitaen, Nichols and Wilhoite also turn up in this piece to offer fond memories of working together and the occasional tale of pranks or on-set jokes. Allen in particular tells a funny tale about being recognized after the film by a girls tennis team in a hotel. FX coordinator Tassilo Baur is a great addition to the piece, offering detailed but concise accounts of how different set pieces were done. His opinion on Ouija boards also offers a good laugh. In short, this is an entertaining and fast-paced piece that will please Witchboard fans.
From there, the extras move into vintage material. First up is a “Making Of” piece that runs about 7 minutes. It’s really more of an informal EPK where interview snippets with the actors are interspersed with goofing around on the set and footage from the film, including a glimpse of the boat explosion prologue that was cut from the film.
The producers also had access to over 90 minutes of behind-the-scenes video footage from the production, and they parcel it out via a quintet of video segments. The first of these is simply called “Cast Interviews”: it’s half interview snippets with Allen, Nichols and Kitaen, who mainly discuss that they love the script because it’s so character-driven, and raw edits of footage from the film sans music, inserts or sound effects.
There are also two “On Set” interview segments, both 20 minutes each. The first has a few minutes with Allen talking about his experiences as a film actor before moving into a longer interview with Nichols. The chat focuses around his work in the film and he comes off as a charming, unpretentious type. The second segment features Tenney, Geoffray and cinematographer Roy Wagner. They all praise the dedication and skills of the crew, which helped them deal with the time and money limitations.
The last two segments are more casual, oriented around footage of production work. “Life On The Set” has lots of informal footage of the crew at work, a brief interview with a stand-in for Kitaen and footage of a makeup artist working on Allen and Kitaen. It livens up when Tenney walks in the room and they all start goofing on each other. “Constructing Witchboard” is a montage of footage from the last day of principal photography as the crew worked on a false window front and an elaborate camera rig. It’s not terribly exciting, but it gives an impression of the time and work involved in a film shoot.
The last few extras are devoted to promotional materials. There are two TV spots and a theatrical trailer for the film. Oddly, the TV spots do a better job of selling the film’s appeal. There are also two image galleries: a behind-the-scenes gallery includes around 200 shots from the set, including extensive coverage of the deleted boat-explosion prologue, and a promo gallery includes stills, posters and what appears to be some photos from a premiere.
In short, Scream Factory has created the jam-packed special edition of Witchboard that its fans have been waiting for, and it’s a nice complement to their equally extensive special edition for Tenney’s Night Of The Demons.
Director signings of WITCHBOARD and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS Hugely SuccessfulAt Los Angeles specialty video store Dark Delicacies, director Kevin Tenney recently held two highly popular signings of a pair of his cult '80s horror films, recently released on Blu-ray. At one, 100 copies of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS were signed and sold in 20 minutes. At the other, 100 copies of WITHCH BOARD went in 90 minutes. At both events, lines ran down the sidewalk, and some fans had to be disappointed.
Rescue Dawn Makes EW's 50 Best Films ListWerner Herzog's RESCUE DAWN, which Blue Rider helped finance and which Jeff Geoffray and Walter Josten associate produced, was recently selected number 41 on Entertaiment Weekly's "50 Best Movies You Never Saw" list.
"Backstory Today" Videos Debut on Blue Rider WebsiteOn October 9, Blue Rider's sister company Vumanity, which creates original web content, begins offering a selection of sample videos called "Backstory Today." It can be reached via the "Video" tab on our homepage(or by linking to www.backstory.com). Initially, 36 videos are presented,including those with Larry King, Joey Travolta, Cara, Randy Moss, Washinton Redskins Cheerleaders and Heath Evans. Talk show topics include film business success, diet, travel, music, social media, politics and books. Ultimately, "Backstory Today" will offer an online channel devoted to filmmaking.
The Big Bang, Starring Banderas Out on DVD and in TheatresThe $17 million action mystery thriller THE BIG BANG--starring Antonio Banderas, Sienna Guillory, William Fichtner, Sam Elliott, Delroy Lindo, Thomas Kretschmann and Rebecca Mader--was bridge-financed by Blue Rider. It opened in the U.S. on May 13, 2011 and had 2011 debuts in Poland (DVD), Chile, Lebanon, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Paraguay, Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, Sweden and Uruguay. The North American DVD came out on May 24, 2011. It is due to bow in Portugal on Sept. 6, 2012. Through June 18, 2012 more than 60.4% of the 4,076 people rating it at the Internet Movie Database gave it thumbs up.