Anchor Bay not only delivered hordes of catalog favorites, but also became a distributor for many new films during the past decade. While much of it was your usual direct-to-video fare, a few of these efforts stand out. The comedy romp Dead and Breakfast is both gory and hysterical, featuring catchy music that sets the tone for its scenes, not to mention a song and dance number inspired by the late Michael Jackson. The company also had a hand in bringing together two sets of diminutive Full Moon icons in Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys. As awful as it sounds, the pint-sized smack down manages to be better than most of Full Moonís own efforts, as itís just a little bit too ridiculous and fun not to enjoy. With Feldog in a starring role, a Christmas setting and a plot ripped right out of the pages of the Halloween 3 script, itís hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Stevan Menaís Malevolence is a grim and violent throwback to the early 1970s slasher cycle. Featuring a moody, almost Carpenter-esque synth score and wonderful, natural cinematography, itís about as close as fans will get to the no-frills, drive-in films of a bygone era. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon thrusts us back into the post-Scream era, as this one features a tongue in cheek approach that parodies the rise of the anti-heroic slasher icons from the 80s. The film features the likes of Robert England (in a Dr. Loomis type role, no less!) and Zelda Rubinstein, and pays homage to the genre at nearly every turn.
Along the same lines, Adam Greenís Hatchet is similarly self aware; though it promotes itself as ďOld School American Horror,Ē the film feels a bit too meta, featuring the likes of Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, and even John Carl Buechler. Misleading promotion aside, Hatchet still managed to create an interesting new slasher in Victor Crowley, who carves up his victims in a variety of insane gore sequences. Another recent film of note from Anchor Bay is Paul Soletís Grace, which reveals just how terrifying child-bearing can be. The filmís powerhouse performances and its riveting, intense premise make it one of the best genre offerings from the past couple of years. Itís a film that manages to be gross, yet haunting, and keeps that balance all the way through the filmís final memorable frame.
Beyond these featured titles, Anchor Bay has distributed hordes of other recent efforts, such as a couple of Bruce Campbell vehicles (Man With the Screaming Brain and Alien Apocalypse), Menaís follow-up film, the horror comedy Brutal Massacre, and a couple of Jack Ketchum adaptations (The Girl Next Door and The Lost). The company was also responsible in brining the wildly popular Masters of Horror television series to home video. The series featured the likes of John Carpenter, Don Coscarelli, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento and Mick Garris behind the camera for a variety of short films. Other new films released direct-to-video included Heartstopper, Abominable, End of the Line, It Waits, and Demon Hunter, which ensured that it would be impossible to ignore Anchor Bay anytime you stepped foot into a video store.
Not content to simply release feature films, Anchor Bay further celebrated the genre with the release of a couple of documentaries. Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream celebrates the drive-in and grindhouse ethos that informed some of the genreís biggest cult hits, such as Night of the Living Dead and Eraserhead. The documentary also gave credit to one of horrorís biggest unsung heroes and a favorite of ours here at OTH: Bob Shaye, who ushered the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead into theaters through his company, New Line Cinema. Anchor Bay also followed up its successful Halloween documentary with the production of His Name was Jason, a fun retrospective of the Friday the 13th series thatís a must-own for any Jason fans out there. Featuring interviews with the cast and crew from each film, plus several special guests, itís the ultimate tribute to one of horrorís biggest and most infamous names.
In October of 2007, history repeated itself when Halloween and Dawn of the Dead made their debuts on the then-new Blu-ray format. They had a bit more company than their DVD brethren, as they were joined by Day of the Dead and Evil Dead 2 in a move that showed that the company hadnít forgotten their roots. Fittingly enough, the Canadian release of Bob Clarkís classic, Black Christmas, also slashed its way to high definition under the Anchor Bay banner, and it featured a much cooler cover than its American counterpart as well. The new high definition format also ensures that horror fans of the emerging generation will continue to be familiar with the name Anchor Bay. Since their merger with Starz Entertainment, the company has only grown in stature, and has even become the exclusive home video distributor for notable recent films such as The Crazies, Let Me In, and the I Spit on Your Grave redux. Though they now have become a division in the grand scheme of things at Starz, horror fans will never forget the companyís roots. For so many years, the Anchor Bay logo indicated a seal of quality that usually ensured that the contents within likely held something that could keep a fanís attention. The names might be slightly changed, and the still-emerging format might be a bit shinier, but we here at Oh, the Horror! certainly look forward to what the next thirteen years hold.
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