Phantoms Review (1998)


My History With the Film:
I've always been a Ben Affleck fan. Okay, lemme rephrase that, I was a huge Kevin Smith fan in the 90's and early 2000's, and because of his casting of Ben Affleck in Chasing Amy and Dogma, I became a big Ben Affleck fan. Now, I'm sorta neutral on Affleck, but back in the early 2000's, I watched anything the man did. This included Phantoms, based on a Dean Koontz novel of the same name.

I rented Phantoms while working at Blockbuster and I went in with very low expectations. It had Liev Schreiber and Rose McGowan (both from Scream) joining Affleck. I recall really enjoying the film, although it was flawed. After rewatching it in early 2018, I have to agree with my memory. This is a film that can be broken into two parts: the first half which is awesome and the second half that is pretty terrible.

What the Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Two sisters arrive in a small town in Colorado where one hundred and a fifty residents are dead and another three hundred are missing.

What I Liked About It:
-The first half of this movie is great. The characters interacting in this amazing town that is abandoned out of the blue works so well. It’s terrifying, but sadly, the film goes a little off the rails after that. I don’t want to ruin what happens, but others characters get involved and slowly the plot goes from creepy horror to strange sci-fi. I would have loved another thirty or forty minutes of exploration in the quaint abandoned town.

-Live Schreiber turns it up to eleven and steals the show.

-The plot mentions moments in history where large groups of people went missing such as Roanoke and I felt like this gave the threat real credibility. The movie instantly went from insane to plausible in just one short conversation.

-The special effects are pretty good and there is one very intense scene early on that is especially impressive.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The tonal shift in the movie ruins it. I'm not sure how the book progresses but the first thirty minutes are truly a horror film, but then the film begins to shift into a conspiracy film and then finally into a science fiction film. In a way, you want to think it's inspired by The Thing, but John Carpenter showed us how to properly do a science fiction/horror film and in Phantoms the  script writer and filmmaker had no idea how to walk that line. It was either horror or sci-fi and the film was unable to walk that fine line and still be entertaining.

-The ending is horrible. I won't even go into it, but it's just horrible.

Additional Notes:
-Phantoms was in pre-production in the late 80's/early 90's, but New World Pictures filed for bankruptcy and the project was shelved.

-The beginning of this film inspired the original Silent Hill video game.

Rating:
If I were to rate the film based on the first thirty minutes, it's a solid eight out of ten. Unfortunately, the movie continues and turns into a convoluted mess and while I won't go as far as to say it's unwatchable, it's frustrating to see what becomes of the film. There is just so much potential wasted it's truly tragic.

Phantoms is a two out of five and is easily skipped.

Idle Hands Review (1999)


My History With the Film:
Idle Hands was the type of movie that I was “too cool” in high school to watch. It was hip, over-the-top, and a lot of fun, but I was too busy brooding and praising the cinematic work of real horror directors like Carpenter, Craven, and Romero. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and slap myself and tell me to lighten up and enjoy what the present has to offer. I missed out on so many good things by keeping my head buried in the past and dismissing all the present had to offer.

I ended up seeing Idle Hands around 2001 when I started working for Blockbuster. We got free movie rentals and I saw Jessica Alba on the back cover and figured it was worth a watch just for her. Jessica Alba led me to rent the movie, but the movie itself kept me entertained. It was a fun, fascinating flick that reminded me a lot of The Frighteners in parts. It kept that goofball 90’s teen vibe, while walking a fine line between horror in comedy that so many films fail at doing. I really enjoyed Idle Hands and have revisited a couple of times since that first viewing and it still holds up quite well.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A stoner’s right hand is possessed by the spirit of a serial killer.

What I Liked About It:
-Devon Sawa (Final Destination), Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Elden Henson (The Mighty Ducks) make a hilarious trio of stoners. In fact, I’d argue that Seth Green and Elden Henson steal the show anytime they are on the screen. They remind me a lot of the ghosts in The Frighteners.

-The movie is a third stoner film, a third horror, and a third teen comedy. It’s such a strange hodgepodge of genres that doesn’t try and operate tongue in cheek nor does it take itself too serious. It’s just a fun, goofy movie, about a possessed hand.

-Vivica A Fox (Independence Day) goes in with a crazy over-the-top performance that works in this film. It reminds me of Lucy Lawless (Xena) in Ash vs The Evil Dead.

-The soundtrack is fantastic. The Offspring make an appearance in the film and of course contribute to the film’s soundtrack. Sublime, Motley Crue, and 2 Live Krew have songs peppered throughout the film.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I actually forgot how much stoner humor was in this film. I’ve never been a fan of stoner films, but this film has enough teen movie in it that I can tolerate it.

-Jack Noseworthy’s character Randy really serves no purpose in this film. It also bothers me that they call him Randy because he looks like a grown up Jonathan Taylor-Thomas, who went by the name Randy on Home Improvement.

-This film is a comedy first that has some horror elements. I would have liked a little more horror since not once did I ever feel that anyone was in jeopardy.

Additional Notes:
-The magician Christopher Hart played the hand. He also portrayed Thing in The Addams Family.

-The school gym where the Halloween dance takes place was also used in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie and Jawbreaker.

-Idle Hands was a massive box office flop, earning only 4 million of its 25 million dollar budget back. It opened two weeks after the shooting at Columbine and this affected box office since the media's attention was on blaming the violence in video games, movies, and music on the shooting.

Rating:
Idle Hands is a fun movie and a worthy watch if you enjoy late 90’s teen horror flicks. It’s full of humor, a very attractive love interest, lovable losers, and a demonic hand. I wouldn’t say it’s a priority to see, but if you are looking for something a little different and something with a little humor, Idle Hands is a worthy watch especially for Seth Green and Elden Henson.

I rate Idle Hands a two and a half out of five and say it’s a low priority rental.

Scream 2 VHS, DVD, Blu ray, and Laser Disc Releases

Scream 2 didn't have near the convoluted release history that the first Scream film did, but after completing that list I knew I'd have to tackle the sequels.


Scream 2 Demo/Screener VHS (1998)
 
Screener tapes were often sent to video stores as a marketing tool. The studios would send out a copy of the movie while it was still in theaters (or just leaving theaters) to convince video store owners to buy copies of the film. The screeners were often shared with video store employees in order to get them excited about what was to come soon in hopes that their passion and excitement would rub off onto the customers.


Scream 2 VHS (1998)

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Promotional Featurette (7 Minutes)


Scream 2 DVD (1998)

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Theatrical Trailer


Scream 2 Collector's Series DVD (2001)


Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Promotional Featurette (7 Minutes)
-Outtakes
-Music Videos: Master P's "Scream" and The Kottonmouth Kings "Suburban Life"
-Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots


Ultimate Scream Edition DVD (2000)
Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Behind the Scream Documentary
-Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Promotional Featurette (7 Minutes)
-Outtakes
-Music Videos: Master P's "Scream" and The Kottonmouth Kings "Suburban Life"
-Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots

This is a four disc set that combines the 1998 Collector's Series discs for all three Scream films along with a fourth disc that is full of bonus features mostly relating to the first film. The only additional feature that discusses Scream 2 is the Behind the Scream documentary, which takes a quick overview of all three films in the franchise (up to that point).


Scream DVD Triple Pack (2009)
 

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Promotional Featurette (7 Minutes)
-Outtakes
-Music Videos: Master P's "Scream" and The Kottonmouth Kings "Suburban Life"
-Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots

This includes the 1998 Collector’s Series bundled alongside the Scream 2 and 3 Collector's Series. There are no additional features or extras.



Scream DVD Triple Feature (2011)

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Promotional Featurette (7 Minutes)
-Outtakes
-Music Videos: Master P's "Scream" and The Kottonmouth Kings "Suburban Life"
-Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots
 
The Scream DVD Triple Feature from 2011 is identical to the 2009 Triple Pack. It uses the same 1998 Collector's Series DVD with the same extras. The only major difference is the packaging which this time combines all three movies into one standard size amaray case.

 
Scream 1-4 DVD Pack (2018)

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Probably the same as the Collector's Edition, but I'm not 100% sure.
 
The Scream 1-4 Pack is the latest in Scream DVD releases having been released in January 2018. It's the only release in the United States to include all four Scream films in one collection. No extra features are listed on the back of the box and I haven't been able to confirm exactly what discs are in this particular set, but I'd assume its still the same Collector's Edition disc that was used in all the other releases. I don't see anyone going out of their way to make a new Scream DVD in 2018 for a budget set.

 
Scream 2 Blu-Ray (2018)

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Promotional Featurette (7 Minutes)
-Outtakes
-Music Videos: Master P's "Scream" and The Kottonmouth Kings "Suburban Life"
-Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots

Nothing new here, we get the same exactly SD extras found on the Collector's Series DVD.


Scream 5 Film Set Blu Ray (2011)
 
Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Marianna Maddalena, and Patrick Lussier
-Promotional Featurette (7 Minutes)
-Outtakes
-Music Videos: Master P's "Scream" and The Kottonmouth Kings "Suburban Life"
-Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots
-Documentary: Still Screaming (90 minutes)
-Documentary: Scream: The Inside Story (90 minutes)

This Blu ray set includes the same disc included in the Scream 2 Blu ray. Also included are Scream and Scream 3, and two documentaries found on separate discs (thus the Five Film set title.) Scream 4 is not included and I'm sure this poorly worded title has fooled people into thinking they were buying all four films.

The two documentaries (Still Screaming and Scream: The Inside Story) are not found on any other release outside of this package and barely discuss Scream 2 at all. It's worth noting that this is the only other content of any sort that looks at Scream 2 in anyway.

Missing is the thirty minute documentary from the "Ultimate Scream Edition."


 Scream 2 Laserdisc (1998)

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-None

 
Scream 2 DTS Laserdisc (1998)

Theatrical R-Rated Version
Extras:
-None

Still Screaming Documentary Review (2011)


My History With the Film:
Last year, I picked up the Scream Blu-Ray set and was excited to see two new documentaries covering the franchise: Still Screaming and Scream: The Inside Story. I decided to start with Still Screaming mainly because MasiMedia was behind the documentary, and they had previously done Halloween 25 Years of Terror and His Name was Jason, two enjoyable documentaries. I figured they knew how to make a good horror movie retrospective, so I'd start there.

What The Is Film About:
Still Screaming is a ninety minute look at how the film Scream was created and it's sequels.

What I Liked About It:
-The documentary talks to pretty much anyone associated with the production outside of Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox, Skeet Ulrich, and Kevin Williamson. Most of the interviews are small affairs and looked like they were shot in locations following fan conventions. It's not to say that it's amateurish, but you can tell these interviews weren't all performed in a nice office in a centralized location. It was great to hear from so many different voices with Wes Craven getting a large majority of the interview time.

-The documentary was honest. The cast and crew didn't shy away from Scream 3's short comings which was a relief to hear.

-It was nice hearing stories from Matthew Lillard, Elise Neal, Jerry O'Connell, Laurie Metcalf, and W. Earl Brown. They came to the documentary to have fun and tell stories unlike some of the cast (::cough:: Neve Campbell) who approached the documentary like it was a press junket.

-The filmmakers managed to interview the folks at Fun-World who created the iconic Ghostface mask. It was nice hearing how they came to be involved in the series and how much they take advantage of it now for their business.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The documentary begins with a Scream inspired opening scene that is atrocious. You can just see someone at the production company going, "Hey, this is the perfect time to make our own take on Scream and call it an homage." It's horrible. It's so campy, filled with bad acting, and almost plays like a spoof more than an homage. This should have been left on the cutting -room floor.

-Half of the film is dedicated to the first movie, while the second half is split between Scream 2 and 3. This means the sequels barely get any time dedicated to them, and Scream 4 is completely omitted since it had not been released yet. I think this documentary would have been better had it stuck solely on discussing the first film and left the sequels for a second documentary.

-Kevin Williamson is sorely missed from the interviews. He was so influential in the creation of this universe and changing the horror industry and not hearing from the man himself hurt the effectiveness of this documentary.

-Some interviewees were shot with a green screen behind them that then had a flashing/moving Ghostface. It's distracting and at times almost seemed like a trigger for a seizure.

Review:
Still Screaming is a perfectly adequate Scream documentary, but it never seems to crossover into being a good or great documentary. It feels rushed in production (no doubt to release it in time for Scream 4) and also in runtime. Ninety minutes to cover three movies is just not enough time, and the documentary doesn't feel complete since Scream 4 was not discussed.

I hold the Scream franchise is high regard and I think it deserves a high quality documentary like Crystal Lake Memories or Never Sleep Again, but this documentary is no where near that quality of those. I'd rate this film as a two and a half out of five and say watch it if you are a huge Scream fan, otherwise skip it.