Behind The Screams, Part 2
We're back with another installment of Behind The Screams, a look at the stories behind some of Scream Factory's first releases. Scream Factory creators Cliff MacMillan (Production and Acquisitions at Shout! Factory) and Jeff Nelson (Senior Director of Marketing at Shout! Factory) reflected on some of their favorite titles in 2017, and we're bringing those posts back for those who may not have read them. You can still purchase some of these releases as well as their updated 4K counterparts as part of our Shocktober sale through October 7th!
CLIFF MACMILLAN: It was great to have Dean Cundey join us for the color correction on The Fog. He never liked the color correction that had been done on the film on previous releases. He wanted the film to be darker and have a more bluish tint. I think the film is even moodier now with his approved transfer.
JEFF NELSON: Since The Fog is my favorite film of all time, this will be a lengthy one so thanks for letting me indulge a little bit…
I caught this film on the ABC Night at The Movies premiere in 1982 at age 10 and it captivated me immediately. It didn’t scare me as much as the original Halloween (which I had seen the year prior) but from the beginning of the Avco-Embassy swirling logo to its final shock frame I just somehow to took more to its story of supernatural revenge, seaweed-drenched dead sailors and glowing, attacking fogbanks. Whenever it would air for years later I would watch it—once even at midnight on October 31. I love it frame-by-frame, but the scene where the fog rolls down the hillside towards the lighthouse will always give me the goosebumps.
It was the first VHS I bought and the first CED disc (who remembers that?) I purchased too. Had the soundtrack, the book and even a video poster. I distinctly remember wanting to break some sort of movie-watching record but I stopped counting at around 100 times when I was about 17. God knows how many times I has seen it since, likely hundreds more. I once told John Carpenter this and he laughed and said “Dude, you’re sick.” LOL. I replied back: “You only have yourself to blame.” 🙂
You can only imagine my surreal state of shock then when many years later I would end up at a company that was putting out my favorite film on Blu-ray where I was partially responsible for its course. Talk about a full circle moment!
The artwork phase was the most challenging. Originally, I had commissioned someone who really knew the film to do the work but the creative wasn’t coming up to the precedent we had been setting with earlier releases and we had to move course in another direction with artist Justin Osbourn. The day I had to come to terms with letting the original artist go was hard one and it actually brought me to tears. (This is how passionate we sometimes are here on job.) Sometimes the more you love a project, the harder it can become because you feel the pressure of wanting to please other fans of the property, let alone yourself.
Despite that moment there were many more dream-come-true ones that played out. I got to meet Jamie Lee Curtis (shout out to Sean Clark for this – and who was responsible for us getting a rare interview with her), Tom Atkins, Dean Cundey (thanks to Killer POV for this) and Tommy Wallace. My favorite though was bringing Adrienne Barbeau down to Comic-Con and being able to sit next to her at a panel and her being a damn good sport when I did my “Stevie Wayne” impersonation. Another memorable moment was when Kristy Jett (formally of Fright Rags) and myself got to sit in quietly on the new audio commentary that Michael Felsher and Clark conducted with Atkins, Wallace and Barbeau. Geek Heaven right there folks!
So if you made it this far, thank you! Our release is still one our top-selling titles and still continues to do well. Very very proud of it. I once met Debra Hill years agoand sheepishly approached her to tell her how much this film meant to me. She couldn’t have been more kind and was genuinely appreciative. I think of that special exchange every time I watch the film now...and I am humbled and grateful to have played a small part in its legacy in its home entertainment form.
One last tidbit: Did you find the Easter Egg on the Blu-ray menu by now? Thank you, Cliff, for including that to bring out the 10 year-old in me every time I see it.
DAY OF THE DEAD
CLIFF MACMILLAN: Day Of The Dead was a fun one to work on. We pulled the original film elements to do a new HD transfer. I think our version looks great and really helps bring the gruesome gore to a new level. It’s always great to work with George A. Romero. He is such a great filmmaker and much like Wes Craven, he is always generous with his time when we are creating bonus content.
JEFF NELSON: So I must confess, until we acquired Day Of The Dead, I had never seen it. As a teen, I'd seen Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead of course but just couldn't bring myself to explore Day Of The Dead because I thought it would be too gory based on the stills I had seen in Fangoria. After watching it, I still have to say that Tom Savini's make-up effects are still potent and probably would have still been extreme for me back then. Regardless, it's a great film with some really unhinged characters and situations. Our release turned out great and lots of accolades went to both Nathan Thomas Milliner's art and Red Shirt Pictures' definitive and detailed extras.
PRINCE OF DARKNESS
JEFF NELSON: Prince Of Darkness is one of those films I had many thoughts on over the years . When it first came out in 1987, TV spots heavily-billing “From the Director of Halloween” ran constantly and prompted me as a teen to see in theaters on opening weekend. I loved it. Then, something changed years later in my 20s and when I revisited it, I found that I somehow didn't like it anymore for some foreign reason. Have no idea why it didn’t click. Then in my 30s, I caught it again on Fearnet and I became enthralled by it, even more so than when I first watched it. Again, with no rhyme or reason. Now, in my 40s and after seeing it several times through our release, I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite John Carpenter films. It truly captures a great sense of impending doom and offers up some truly frightening scenes that will haunt you forever. Those of you who are also fans know what I am talking about.
Our Collector’s Edition process went through really smoothly. Designer Justin Osbourn’s new take on the art was – and is still - absolutely breath-taking and appropriate. Extras were plenty and rich. To get John Carpenter, Alice Cooper and Sean Clark touring the church in one package was a dream (“This is not a dream”...had to throw that in) come true. We’re proud that we did this one right, that it sold well and that we’ve been able to expose the film more to others in a great presentation that hadn’t been done before.
NIGHT OF THE COMET
JEFF NELSON: It’s sort of impossible not to find Night Of The Comet enjoyable on many levels: You have the 80s time period, an apocalyptic Los Angeles, zombies, valley girls kicking ass and cult star Mary Woronov to boot! We were thrilled to get so many extras on this including perky involvement from actresses Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, the director Thom Eberhardt and many more. Night Of The Comet sold very well for us and we were glad to do it justice.
JEFF NELSON: Body Bags was a real treat to get--especially since we got to work directly with John Carpenter and his wife Sandy King Carpenter (who is pretty amazing I have to say. Mad respect for her.) Artist Justin Osbourn came through once again with really colorful new artwork and Justin Beahm majorly came through with tons of extras that included interviews with Stacy Keach and Robert Carradine. Speaking of Carradine, the segment that he stars in called "The Gas Station" is still super creepy till this day. Very "Carpenter" from look, feel and score. If you have not seen it, you should check it out. It's too bad this didn't turn into a weekly cable series as one can only imagine all the cool stories that could have been told.
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13
CLIFF MACMILLAN: I can’t quite remember which film I saw first on VHS - Halloween or Assault On Precinct 13. When VHS first came out, Media Home Entertainment was one of the early companies. I bought both Halloween and Assault On Precinct 13… I think it might have been at Wherehouse Records. They had a small display case. Since they were one of my first home video experiences, they are my favorite John Carpenter films. Sure, I love The Thing, but I think Assault On Precinct 13 is more of an important title to me. Halloween will always be number one because that one I did see in the theatres when it came out, on a double feature with Black Christmas. Talk about a scary experience for a 15-year-old in a dark theater. But Assault On Precinct 13 will always be number 2.
JEFF NELSON: Whenever I think of this movie, I think of its opening theme song that John Carpenter composed. Simple, memorable, and hypnotic...and stays with you for days. I also think of the "ice cream cone" scene with Kim Richards--which is still shocking to this day.
Assault On Precinct 13 was one of the first films in the Scream Factory brand where we bent the rules to include it. Every release prior had been in the horror or sci-fi genre, but here we had a thriller with gun battle. We made the call because it was a Carpenter film and it was certainly scary enough as a siege film. I don't regret the decision at all in hindsight.