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Rhino presents
Horrible Horrors Collection: Volume 1 (2004)

Walter Pritchard: What the hell's a matter now?
Jane Hardy: Just a chill.

- Joseph Cotten, Trish Van Devere from The Hearse

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 04, 2004

Stars: Trish Van Devere, Joseph Cotten, William Beckwith, Christine Moore, John Nolan, Carolyn Courage, Gary Warner, Steve Kanaly, Karen Carlson, Sonny Landham, Michael Gough, Candace Glendenning, Pat Cardi, Austin Stoker, Peter Carpenter, Dyanne Thorne, Lory Hansen
Other Stars: David Gauttreaux, Perry Lang, Med Flory, Al Hansen, Donald Hotton, Mavis Harris, Max Jacobs, Tim Gail, James Aubrey, Sarah Keller
Director: George Bowers, Roberta Findlay, George Gage, Norman J. Warren, Alex Nicol, Larry N. Stouffer

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (gore, language, nudity, sexuality)
Run Time: 12h:30m:00s
Release Date: October 05, 2004
UPC: 603497037025
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+B-B- D-

DVD Review

Rhino has dug deep into the trenches of the sometimes best if forgotten 1970s/1980s low-budget horror pool to assemble the appropriately titled Horrible Horror Collection: Volume 1, a budget-priced two-disc set of eight films running the gamut of genre plots. Most of the titles were originally put out under the Crown International banner, and the quality varies from silly to tolerable, with enough blood and nudity sprinkled throughout to make most of the dull spots acceptable.

These aren't great films, in fact a couple of them are just plain strange, but there is something to be said for Rhino's intent, even if the content is a little sketchy. Each disc contains two films per side, and here's how Volume 1 shakes out:

Disc 1/Side A

The Hearse (1980)
01h:39m:15s
Directed by George Bowers

The only widescreen title on Volume 1, and probably the most polished of the whole series, this film also features the most well-known cast of the bunch, with Trish Van Devere and Joseph Cotten starring. Van Devere is a lonely teacher who decides to move back to "the old family house", which in this case just happens to be in the mysteriously unfriendly town of Blackford. Her aunt died 30 years earlier, and apparently the townsfolk had some issue with her, because Van Devere gets the cold shoulder, that is in between leering glances from a few locals. Plenty of creepy music boxes, doors closing by themselves, creepy reflections in windows, and the obligatory neighing horses, though this is less about a hearse than it is about a weird old house and an aunt that just won't stay dead.

Prime Evil (1988)
01h:23m:04s
Directed by Roberta Findlay

The first of two Roberta Findlay films in this set, both of which ironically star the lovely Christine Moore. Probably the lamest entry of all eight films, this is your basic "ancient order of evil monks seek sacrificial victims" type, with Catholic priests not faring too well in Findlay's world, and of course there is much of talk of ancient talismans and the requisite "heresy that knows no bounds." There isn't really much going on in Prime Evil worth mentioning, and despite a laughable severed head sequence in the prologue this one is largely gore free, and unlike some of the other titles on this volume, nudity-free as well.

Disc 1/Side B

Terror (1978)
01h:24m:10s
Directed by Norman J. Warren

Not to be outdone by Roberta Findlay, this is the first of two Norman J. Warren films here. Terror has a fine prologue involving bear traps, burning someone alive, maniacal laughter and a particularly neat severed head scene that signifies the bringing on of some actual gore (as opposed to the first two films that just hint at it). The story then jumps to modern day, with a British film crew unknowingly marked for death by a vengeful spirit from long ago, and stock characters are dispatched by all manner of stabbings, courtesy of an ancient family sword and, most memorably, some errant glass shards. Plenty of bright red blood, and a strange and gratuitous strip club sequence.

Lurkers (1988)
01h:33m:40s
Directed by Roberta Findlay

Director Findlay shows up again, lugging along Christine Moore as her star in this story of a cello-playing cutie haunted by memories of her horribly abusive mother (she uses a hot iron on her young daughter), as well as a creepy blonde girl who looks like she stepped off the set of Village of the Damned. It seems that Moore's Cathy sees dead people all over town (via bad special effects) and just what's the deal with the creepy lady in the tan hippy garb? The gloomy supernatural payoff takes forever to get to, but astute genre viewers should have it pegged a mile away, including the coda. Moore is rather appealing to watch, and while not a world-class thespian, it's no surprise Findlay used her a couple of times.

Disc 2/Side A:

Fleshburn (1984)
01h:29m:41s
Directed by George Gage

Here's probably the most suspenseful of the eight titles here (though not really a horror film), and it stars towering Sonny Landham (Predator) as an escaped patient from the state hospital for the criminally insane who takes revenge on the psychiatrists who locked him up. It seems that having a "paranoid obsession with Indian witchcraft" is a bad thing, and when Landham kidnaps the four shrinks (including Steve Kanaly) and dumps them in the desert without food or water, he lurks in the shadows watching them fall apart. There is some mystical mumbo jumbo to give it a creepy edge, but this is essentially a surprisingly taut survival film that sadly misfires during the critical final moments.

Satan's Slave (1976)
01h:29m:30s
Directed by Norman J. Warren

It's Norman J. Warren time once again, and here he parades cult favorite Candace Glendenning (Tower of Evil) around in a fairly lifeless film about Satanism. Forsaking any negligible storytelling in a script from David McGillivray (whose best work it seems was House of Whipcord), Satan's Slave tosses in lots of skin to make the dull parts tolerable as things build to a fairly gory climax that might be a challenge to get to for even the most ardent genre fan. The story centers on Glendenning, who goes to stay with her uncle (Michael Gough) at his palatial estate, who in reality is the head of some Satanic cult trying to resurrect some ancient something or other. Like I said, plenty of nudity, but not much else.

Disc 2/Side B:

Twisted Brain (1974)
01h:31m:17s
Directed by Larry N. Stouffer

Also known as Horror High, Twisted Brain is your basic "revenge of the nerd" flick, with Pat Cardi playing the nebbishe science whiz Vernon Potts. After suffering horrific ridicule from teachers, coaches, and even the janitor, Vernon experiments with his beloved guinea pig Mr. Mumps, discovering a potion that turns the meek and mild into ravenous killing machines. What follows is a Jekyll and Hyde story, as Vernon downs the juice and kills all those who wronged him. Kind of campy, featuring an odd score that seems out of place (including a lame ballad that opens the film), Twisted Brain predates Toxic Avenger, but travels along a similar path (minus the nudity).

Point of Terror (1971)
01h:27m:19s
Directed by Alex Nicol

Winning the award for just plain silly, Point of Terror is a shagadelic early 1970s romp ripe with bad fashion, unintentional laughs and lots and lots of nekkidness. Tony (Peter Carpenter) is the Tom Jones-like house singer at The Lobster House, where apparently he is knee-deep in drooling women every night. When he falls for big-haired Andrea (the great Dyanne Thorne), he gets more than he bargained for, but he seems to do better than the guy in the wheelchair who ends up at the bottom of a swimming pool. The story is kind of dopey, relying on an ending that is beyond trite, and I'm hard-pressed to rationalize how this gets classified as horror, but if you're not laughing out loud during the opening song and dance number you are beyond help.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: There's only one widescreen film in the bunch (The Hearse, presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen!), with the rest presented in 1.33:1. As expected, quality varies greatly, with The Hearse looking the brightest and cleanest of them all. Most of the titles have their share of nicks, as well as smeary colors and sometimes impenetrable blacks; none of them, however, look completely horrendous. Not bad, considering these are really low budget titles.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: All titles are presented in mono, and though some features have a bit more hiss than others, overall voice quality is acceptable throughout all eight films, though screams tend to come across a bit shrill.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 80 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
2 Discs
4-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras of any kind to be found here, with two films per side on this two-disc set. Each film is cut into 10 chapters.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

A strange collection of low-budget horror films covering everything from Satanism to haunted houses to fringe-wearing lounge singers. They don't all work, but fans of B-movie horror should appreciate the bad acting, iffy effects, and frequent skin.

 


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