Candyman Blu-ray Review

Scream Factory had previously released the Candyman sequels on proper Blu-ray. Now they finally got to the original. As a testament to how vital the original film was, both Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd participate in bonus features.

The film is perfectly clear and maintains the film look of 1992, with grain. The grittier it gets as Helen (Madsen) explores inner city murder rooms, the more digital noise flickers, but you also see all the detail in graffiti covered cinder block. The filth covered bathroom is probably more vivid than you’d ever want, but this is horror after all. 1992 era Chicago is well preserved I. A time capsule and the closeups of the bees are pretty striking. The caked blood on Helen looks great too.

The Candyman Blu-ray has tons of interviews. Yes, lots of talk about bees. It’s very thorough on making of the film plus analysis of its themes and racial impact.

On one commentary track, Tony Todd disses Infinity War. He likes A Quiet Place and director Bernard Rose is a little more qualified on that one. That makes it a very modern discussion on the context of Candyman. In a few years it will become historic. They really go broad addressing other franchises and  their ‘90s careers to get to where Candyman fits. All the way up to modern day, where the rights sit and fans on Twitter. These are smart, deep guys and it’s great to have 100 minutes with them.

The other commentary with horror/Clive Barker experts are a lot more about Barker’s career and the adaptation.

Sleepwalkers Blu-ray Review

Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers is the classic tale of a pair of incestuous soul suckers who get killed by cats. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, but the new Scream Factory Blu-ray makes sure their story will last for generations to come.

The Columbia Pictures source must’ve been great because Sleepwalkers looks good even by Shout Factory’s high standards. It’s perfectly clear while retaining the film look. It’s a rare horror movie with a lot of daylight, and all the natural Midwest outdoorsy greenery is bright and detailed. And you can see all the detail in the creature and gore makeup. Actually, when Brian Krause cuts his arm you can clearly see the prosthetic portion hiding the blood pack, but it’s good. Highlight the artist’s’ work.

It’s so great seeing the early ‘90s Aero Theater preserved in HD. It’s actually in Santa Monica and the box office area and marquee are still the same. The lobby and concession stand are different now (no more Slush and the popcorn machine is on the other side now) but I can tell it’s the same layout with the stairs in the back. I can’t believe they had an arcade machine, but yeah a movie theater would in the ‘90s. It is also the setting for a gratuitous Walkman dance as was also common in the ‘90s.

Tanya Robertson was an interesting name for the heroine. If they remake it maybe they can call her Pamela Andersonson. Mick Garris and Madchen Amick joke about Tanya Roberts at the beginning of the commentary so I’m not alone.

On the commentary, Amick has a vivid memory and is very talkative, so it’s mostly her and Garris. Krause chimes in, just not as often. He reveals a bit more in his interview. Big news: Amick was fired from Dracula because they let go everyone who wasn’t British. Excuse me, what about Keanu Reeves? Or Winona Ryder for that matter. Alice Krige has unique memories in her interview too and all the behind the scenes interviews are thorough as usual.

Memoirs of an Invisible ManBlu-ray Review: See These Wonderful Effects

Available July 24

Memoirs of an Invisible Man was my all time favorite movie from 1992-1993. I thought it was a mesmerizing adventure full of beautifully creative visual effects and a poignant theme about feeling invisible. I’d soon see Pulp Fiction and have my cinematic world blown wide open, but I still love Memoirs. It wasn’t popular enough to get a full on special edition, even on a cult level, so I’m just glad Scream Factory put out a proper blu-ray to complete their John Carpenter collection.

The movie looks as clear and sharp as a Warner Bros. Blu-ray would. Carpenter shot everything widescreen so it still looks epic, and anamorphic so there’s a little curve. It says they did a 2K restoration, so not bad for an unpopular catalog title. It’s halfway to 4K!

Those inventive visual effects still hold up better than the last 20 years of CGI. Mostly it’s because the ideas were the spectacle. Seeing gum appear to chew itself, smoke fill clear lungs, viewing his own digestion and running in the rain were things we’d never even thought of before in previous invisible movies.

There were fun action scenes where Chevy Chase would disrobe to get away and that’s still more tangible than today’s digital paste jobs. Even Hollow Man years later looked more digital and they’d had eight more years to hone the technology.

WB has put out a dvd with bonus features so those are included again. Four minutes on the VFX show how important Memoirs was for ILM. Vintage on set interviews appear harmonious but rumor has it it was not. Outtakes have a bit more business at the Magnascopics building, an alternate dream sequence and a couple more bits in the beach house.

The Lawnmower Man Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

The Lawnmower Man blew my mind in 1992 thinking in the future I’d be able to go on virtual reality trips. At least for three years until Strange Days promised actual brain downloads (I’m still waiting.) Then it blew my mind again on video with an unrated cut that added significant scenes. I think I’d even read those scenes in a novelization or comic book adaptation but I couldn’t believe they’d actually filmed them. 

Watching the theatrical cut of Lawnmower Man now I don’t feel I need more. It’s fast paced and keeps the set pieces coming. The animated VR sequences look great in HD. While the animation is basic, the resolution of the Blu-ray still looks better than modern day Oculus Rift, but then of course it’s not 360 degrees. I think The Lawnmower Man holds up better than other CGI because it’s not intended to duplicate reality. You can accept it as a fantasy. CGI that’s supposed to duplicate real people and creatures is more glaring because it doesn’t totally look like those things.

The effects that bleed into the “real world” also exemplify what I feel is missing from modern effects. You can say that Jobe de-pixelating people doesn’t look real but what does a telekinetic VR God de-pixelating people actually look like? It’s not a real thing so it can look surreal.

Live action scenes hold up too, and Jobe’s early overalls and yellow shirt pop out as visual flare. The sound mix is oddly low. Dialogue is hushed, or jumps in mid sentence like mic levels weren’t calibrated. This was my first time seeing the extended cut in widescreen let alone HD.

The “Cyber God” behind the scenes feature is actually on disc one with the theatrical cut, not disc two as it’s labeled. No, Pierce Brosnan didn’t do an interview but you’ve got Jeff Fahey, Brett Leonard and other filmmakers. They address the short story adaptation but noticeably never refer to Stephen King.

Jack’s Back Blu-ray Review

Jack’s Back was a movie I remember always seeing in the video store but never renting. For decades, James Spader staring at me from a VHS box remained a mystery, so it was nice to finally settle that mystery with the new Scream Factory Blu-ray.

Now on Blu-ray

Now on Blu-ray

I don’t think I was missing much as the hook of a modern day Jack the Ripper was far less memorable than the very ‘80s twist of having Spader play twin brothers. The film itself looks super grainy and hazy with a film of smoke and fog, something which director Rowdy Herrington admits in his commentary went too far.

Not even the always thorough Scream Factory could get a new interview with Spader, but Harrington and other filmmakers discuss the film, including leading lady Cynthia Gibb. In his commentary, Herrington also connects Jack’s Back to his subsequent film Road House, including a cool Shane Black story. It’s a solid Blu-ray for an otherwise forgettable movie.