Behind The Screams, Part 3
Go behind-the-scenes of Scream Factory's very first releases with stories shared by Scream Factory creators Cliff MacMillan (Production and Acquisitions at Shout! Factory) and Jeff Nelson (Senior Director of Marketing at Shout! Factory) in 2017.
JEFF NELSON: I'll start off by saying that I absolutely love Cat People... but I didn't always feel that way. I remember renting it on VHS as a teenager and thought it was way over-the-top with its gore and sexual (and incestuous) themes. Was pretty grossed out (the arm rip scene was, and still is, severe). However, I loved Giorgio Moroder's score and found myself rewinding the jogging scene - in which Annette O' Toole is staked - several times because the soundtrack and visuals really complimented each other there.
Since then and over the years I have become a big fan of the film from all angles and feel it was ahead of its time. There's a nice balance of humor (Lynn Lowry's sex worker: "F*** off, I had to get a babysitter" cracks me up every time) and horror. Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell were purr-fectly cast and you believe their feline characteristics.
Was thrilled when we got this film as part of one of our deals with Universal even though it came at a personal cost to me. It was down to keeping this or The Sentinel (one of my all-time favorites) and we could only choose one. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! (Luckily, we secured The Sentinel years later.)
Our Blu-ray came loaded with fresh new extras with pretty much all the main cast--the biggest score being Kinski (which was a challenge in itself to lock down). Sales were a little slow out of the gate but made up over time.
April 2017. Cat People is now available on 4K UHD.
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS
CLIFF MACMILLAN: Night Of The Demons has always been a favorite of mine since the Republic VHS came out. Director Kevin Tenney was a huge help on putting the extras together. As far as extras go, it’s a nicely packed release that takes a detailed look at this genre favorite.
JEFF NELSON: What a rollercoaster of a project! We knew of Night of The Demons’ rabid fanbase so we tried to do everything we could to support it. Aine Leicht really came through corralling an impressive package of extras and worked closely with director Kevin Tenney and the cast.
I do amusingly recall that we did have some “drama” with some fans over our newly-illustrated art and the decision to put Scream Queen Linnea Quigley front-and-center instead of the character of Angela. Others had no issue with it. The passion and discussion just made for more people talking about the release, which is the goal of us in Marketing 🙂 The title sold very well for us and I’m very proud of it.
On a more personal note: I now watch Night Of The Demons every October (it really is a great Halloween-themed film) and I absolutely LOVE the opening credit sequence with its score and animation as it totally sets the mood for the fun to follow. We did a midnight showing of the film here at The Cinefamily in L.A. to a sold-out crowd and a robust cast reunion, which was also a lot of fun. I was fortunate to talk more directly with Kevin and Mimi Kinkade back when we were promoting the film during a Shout! TV Summer “drive-in” stunt. Both were are nice as could be. And Kevin, in particular, is a hoot!
JEFF NELSON: Witchboard holds a special place in my heart as I remembered seeing TV spots for it a lot before I went to see it in theaters with friends in high school. It has a charming quality to it and I loved Kathleen Wilhoite's goofy psychic character ("TTFN") and the interesting "bromance" between the two male leads. 🙂
I go on record saying that Witchboard should have been a "Collector's Edition" release and if I could go back in time I would have changed that. The fanbase was there and our extras (once again thanks to Aine Leicht and director Kevin Tenney) were more than robust. A year later we promoted the film in the Summer on Shout! TV and Tawny Kitaen came into the office to shoot a new interview for it. (Needless to say, many of our male staff were interested in her visit.) She was a lot of fun and very down-to-earth.
CLIFF MACMILLAN: I’ve never been a big Witchboard fan, but working on the film made me appreciate it more. Once again, Kevin Tenney really helped us put together a great (and stacked) release.
BAD DREAMS / VISITING HOURS
JEFF NELSON: This was one of those double-features I was super thrilled for. Not so much for Bad Dreams (sorry to the fans of it, of which I know there's plenty of) but for Visiting Hours--which is seriously one of my all-time favorite horror films.
In 1982 when Visiting Hours premiered, I was age 10 and was excited the moment I saw the memorable TV spots for this film--in which Atari-like video graphics turned a hospital building into a glowing skull. It's a slasher film alright, but not your typical Friday The 13th clone where teens are stalked. Adults play center stage and turn in decent performances: Lee Grant in the lead as a headstrong newswoman, Linda Purl as a kind nurse you really care for and Michael Ironside as the cold and crazed maniac. There are also some genuine scares and shocks that still hold up today. I've shown it recently to those who've never seen it and I have been surprised to see them jump at certain points. It's not perfect (the hospital security is a joke) but it works for me.
Back to Bad Dreams, I'm not a big fan of it personally but it does have its merits as a post-Nightmare on Elm Street inspired film. Jennifer Rubin keeps it together and director Andrew Fleming (of The Craft) brings in some creative and ghoulish touches. Come to think of it, I may need to give this a second chance very soon...
THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE
CLIFF MACMILLAN: It took some time but we were finally able to find good film elements to do a new HD transfer on The Slumber Party Massacre. The original production work done for the DVD collection was very fun. We shot at the Shout! Factory office for most of a Saturday. Cast and crew came in for each film and did interviews and commentaries. It went great--except for one difficult person. It was a fun day revisiting one of my favorite slasher series… and it was a fun day for all the talent who hadn’t seen each other in many years.
JEFF NELSON: Definitely a fun slasher film and I was more than pleased when we decided to give this one a high-def upgrade. I personally love the ‘80s synthesizer score and the wide-eyed driller killer, who is pretty hammy. Props to The Slumber Party Massacre being directed by a woman, Amy Holden Jones, and having a girls-fight-back climax that’s pretty darn satisfying. Also, there’s an extra on our disc with the actor who played the next-door neighbor that’s one for the books. See it to believe it.
CLIFF MACMILLAN: Sleepaway Camp was our first 2K scan, so we shot a look at the scanning process at Technicolor. I thought that was a fun way to celebrate our first scan. Having access to the original camera negative helped us deliver a greatlooking transfer. I think we delivered some great extras thanks to the help of writer/director Robert Hiltzik, Jeff Hayes and stars Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten.
JEFF NELSON: I remember in high school someone spoiled the ending of Sleepaway Camp by blurting out in math class, “The chick has a d**k!” I rented it soon thereafter and recall thinking the whole film was laughable and berserk—especially with odd characters (including Aunt Martha and the completely offensive cook who lusts after teens), acting (“Judy” plays a bitch right out of Dynasty at times) and dialogue (“Eat s**t and die, Ricky!” “Eat s**t and live, Bill.”)
I never dreamed it would turn into such a big cult film years later and that’s largely in part due to all the things I loved to rag on about it. It’s really a gem and definitely should be watched with friends or a crowd to get the full effect. Director Robert Hiltzik was a delight to work with and he was very involved—even right down to how Angela’s eyes looked on our Nathan Thomas Milliner-drawn key art. We truly lucked out with extras: Justin Beahm (Reverend Entertainment) did a bang-up producing them and many of the principal cast (Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, etc) came up to the bat. We also had great support and word-of-mouth support from the fans of the film and franchise. Our release did very well and so it was a no brainer to acquire Part 2 and Part 3 down the road when we had the chance.
THE FINAL TERROR
CLIFF MACMILLAN: I’ve been a fan of The Final Terror since I rented the Vestron VHS tape when it was released. We wanted to be able to release this film, along with Hellhole, but the film elements were sadly lost over the years. Thanks to some collectors, we were able to locate film prints, and using three film prints, we were able to put together a pretty good-looking HD master of this fun slasher film. We were very lucky to get film director Andrew Davis (who went on to do some great actions films like The Fugitive and Under Siege), Adrian Zmed, and Lewis Smith to discuss the film.
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