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    “ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK” (Blu-ray Review)

    Of all the releases from beloved specialty distributor Scream Factory, it’s hard to argue that there was nothing on their 2015 slate as exciting as their reissue of John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. Sporting a brand new 2K transfer and a full second disc loaded with new features, Scream offered Carpenter completists the definitive ESCAPE Blu-ray, superior to previous releases in every way. Luckily, Scream has put their money where their mouth is, constructing an in-depth and gorgeous package that is guaranteed to impress even the most jaded Carpenter fanatic.

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    “SALEM: Season 2, Episode 3” (TV Review)

    With the third episode in the second season of SALEM, the narrative of the series is now running full steam ahead, with character development jumping leaps and bounds in directions we may not have necessarily expected. Such boldness is nothing new for the horror series, which often revels in unpredictability and misdirection, but rarely does a TV series add subversion on so many layers as the show begins to mix it’s trademark brand of edgy melodrama with in-story politics. And while those dynamics definitely make this episode, entitled “From Within,” a less action-packed affair than the previous two episodes, it certainly is equally as compelling.

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    “BATES MOTEL: Season 3, Episode 6” (TV Review)

    With the track record from the first and second season of BATES MOTEL, there was an aura of cautious optimism when this writer decided to cover the third season. But luckily, that faith has payed off in a big way, as BATES’ sixth episode this season is a full-on home run for the series, and introduced a milestone into the show’s familiar lore. And as Norman and Norma drifted apart further than ever before, Norman and “Mother” finally came together, and it offered one of the most surreal and satisfying scenes in the series’ history.

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    “CARRIE” (2002) / “THE RAGE: CARRIE 2” (Blu-ray Review)

    There’s no doubting that Brian De Palma’s CARRIE, the 1976 inaugural adaptation of Stephen King, is a classic of the horror genre. It’s classy, unsettling and genuinely scary, compounded with De Palma’s stylish vision and King’s distinct narrative voice. Yet in the years since, the various attempts to remake and recapture that eerie essence has proven difficult, and there’s no better example of that than the CARRIE TV-remake as well as Katt Shea’s THE RAGE: CARRIE 2. And with Scream Factory’s double feature Blu-ray, CARRIE completists can finally have these misbegotten fright flicks in high definition.

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    “THE BABADOOK” (Blu-ray Review)

    To some, including this writer, THE BABADOOK was one of the genuine masterpieces of macabre cinema last year, providing a near perfect balance of psychological horror and creature feature. To others, THE BABADOOK was a victim of a loudly whirring hype machine, offering a horror tale whose straightforward scares were disappointing to a fault. In that way, THE BABADOOK has posited itself as a film that there’s very little middle ground towards, and with the film now on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, the rest of the world at large will get a chance to experience THE BABADOOK for themselves, as well as get an insight on how THE BABADOOK came to be.

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    “SALEM: Season 2, Episode 2” (TV Review)

    For all the brutality and bloodshed on display, this writer sometimes forgets just how fantastical SALEM (and, to be honest, witchcraft in general) can be at times. While the show is very much steeped in horror, the higher concept magic and SFX always seem to immerse this writer deeper into the show’s universe in a way other horror shows seldom can. And doing so, it’s also a reminder that the heightened performances, dream logic and stylistic flourishes are all what make the show so entertaining, especially when matched with strong writing to boot.

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    “THE HARVEST” (Movie Review)

    Director John McNaughton secured his horror rep with the insinuating authenticity of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, and following a couple of more fanciful fear concepts in the intervening years, he returns to the real world with THE HARVEST. Only this time, there’s more than a touch of grim fairy tale to the film.

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    “CIRCUS OF THE DEAD” (Film Review)

    A weathered mannequin bust sits atop a vanity table dressed in a police cap and mustache evocative of Adolf Hitler. “Doo Wacka Doo”, a benevolent song from the 1940’s, plays with the scratch-crackle only vinyl records make.  We see a hand dip into a retro can of white cream, painting the face of a woman not fully in view.  With the swirl of an antique Barber chair the disturbingly beautiful masterpiece is finally revealed. A dead woman is seated; head cocked to the side. Her face made up with white clown makeup; a blue color on the tip of her nose.  In her hands a beautiful glass display showcases her crudely extracted heart.

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    “FIRE CITY: THE INTERPRETER OF SIGNS” (Film Review)

    To some filmmakers, a low budget is a terrifying thing, constantly ticking away as time and resources quickly work against your grand vision for a story. To others, however, a low budget can be something of a blessing in disguise, allowing ambitious ideas to work within a contained environment. In either case, a low budget warrants resourcefulness from a filmmaker, and in that case, a healthy imagination is always beneficial to roll with the financial and circumstantial punches. And in the case of Tom Woodruff Jr.’s FIRE CITY: THE INTERPRETER OF SIGNS, that imagination is on full display, allowing the Stan Winston alumnus to make a truly vibrant and intriguing story of monsters and men without peeling at the seams of its budget.

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    “BATES MOTEL: Season 3, Episode 5” (TV Review)

    While this writer had his doubts here and there, there’s no denying that BATES MOTEL is in a full upswing in their third season, taking a patient yet effective approach of tying together the obligatory White Pine Bay drama to that of the Bates family. Yet over the course of the fifth episode, entitled “The Deal,” the show hits on two essential themes that will likely usher in the horror of the show sooner rather than later. The first theme would be that of growth, with Dylan and Norma both taking large steps in improving their social and emotional standings, at least to a certain point. The second theme would be that of descent, with both Romero and Norman finding themselves on a downward slide into utter desperation. And in the middle lay those on either side of the fence, whether it be Emma, Caleb, Bob Paris, or Chick Hogan.

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    FANTASTICA Review Round-Up: Arrow Video’s UK Blu Slate!

    Whether it’s blaxploitation revenge flicks, scathing satire, sci-fi madness or spaghetti westerns, Arrow’s recent Region B Blu-ray slate has it all for fans of ’70s and ’60s cinematic fare. Offering top-tier special features, excellent video transfers and their trademark original mono soundtracks, Arrow is bringing cutting edge and cult classic cinema to high definition, and FANTASTICA recently had the chance to go through ’em all!

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