A familiar face in the horror world would find new life in the digital age, as Corman’s New World Pictures library would revert to Anchor Bay. In a cool limited edition set, the first two House movies from New World re-appeared on home video. A roaring good time by many of the minds behind Friday the 13th, the original House is just a step down from horror comedy gold and even features grindhouse bottom of the double bill favorite, Don't Look in the Basement on television within the movie! the ending gets pretty tense as the protagonist encounters the hell bent for revenge soul of an old Vietnam colleague. The Second Story is an underwhelming story with a cute caterpillar/dog creature and a funny subplot involving a great-great grandfather that'd been buried with a magic skull and had been alive for years in his coffin! The underrated Stephen King anthology, Creepshow 2 also made its official DVD debut with three solid stories featuring memorable catchphrases like "thanks for the ride, lady!" and "my hair gets me paid and laid!". A fun film overall with a choppy, animated wraparound, much entertainment is found throughout with a vicious blob creature, a surprisingly effective murderous wooden statue come to life, and a psychopathic hitchhiker that just will not stay dead! It's even topped off with a cameo by the man himself, Stephen King.
New World Pictures would also give rise one of the genre’s newest icons in the form of Hellraiser’s Pinhead. Anchor Bay brought Pinhead home in grand style with one of their signature limited edition tins, which housed the first two entries in the franchise. The 1987 debut film is already a modern horror classic; though you often see Pinhead lumped in with his slasher contemporaries, Hellraiser is anything but that. Instead, it’s plot-based, character-driven affair with an intricate story that muses on the destructiveness of deceit. It packs just as many gore-based shocks as well, as Frank’s slow, painful, and gruesome resurrection in the attic is brought to life by some of the genre’s best special effects. Frank’s fate would of course culminate in the now famous “Jesus wept” scene, which is among the most disturbing in the genre.
Hellraiser II: Hellbound is a more than worthy follow-up, featuring more elaborate visuals and a Christopher Young score that expands on the original’s haunting sounds. Usually cited as fan favorite, Hellbound explodes the creepy intimacy provided by the first film and takes viewers to the depths of a massive, hellish landscape that’s overseen by the monstrous Levithian. The film also attempts to match the disturbing, gruesome imagery of the original, as one character is bandaged up without skin and has to feed upon the flesh of corpses to gain it back. Ashley Laurence once again returns in the role of Kristy Cotton, and her Cenobite antagonists are also given a bit more screen time, especially Pinhead, whose backstory with the famous puzzle box is elaborated upon.
Anchor Bay would continue to deliver more minor cult classics from the New World library. The Stuff is Larry Cohen’s silly, satirical send-up of Big Tobacco and features over-the-top antics and clever gore effects. 1984’s C.H.U.D. is a similarly light-hearted, creature-feature affair that features gruesome make-up effects for its title characters and a government conspiracy subplot. Look out for John Goodman as a cop in one of his earliest screen appearances. The New World slasher, Return to Horror High, features another before-they-were-famous cameo in the form of George Clooney, who shows up for about ten minutes. This slasher parody shows self-reflexivity before it was made cool by films like Scream in the form of a “movie within a movie” plot. As a parody, it’s not overly silly and adheres to most slasher tropes (including an obligatory breast shot that we’re promised won’t be happening in the movie). With a zany cast (highlighted by Amos the Janitor) and irresistible cover art, this one is a late 80s slasher through and through.
One of the more infamous titles released dug out from the New World vault was Children of the Corn. Adapted from the Stephen King short story of the same name, the film sees Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton trying to survive a small town that’s been overrun by demonic children. Worshiping a mysterious entity known only as “He Who Walks Beyond the Rows,” the creepy little bastards perform ritual sacrifices to appease him. The film’s apocalyptic, desolate tone makes it a solid little creepfest that builds towards an action-packed and effects laden climax. New World’s horror-comedy efforts were also a highlight of Anchor Bay’s release pattern, as films like Transylvania 6-5000, Dead Heat, and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark all found their way to DVD under the AB banner. The New World library is quite an eclectic one, with something to offer for any horror fan, whether their fancy be slashers or silly romps like the Killer Tomatoes sequels.
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