Like a lot of you out there, we here at Blumhouse.com are huge fans of what the fine folks at Scream Factory do. And one of the best things about the annual San Diego Comic-Con is that we can expect them to announce a huge batch of titles to get us through the remainder of the year. And this past weekend, they did not disappoint!
The announcement hailed new Blu-Ray editions of titles from David Cronenberg, Don Coscarelli, the POLTERGEIST sequels, the horror classic BLACK CHRISTMAS and much, much more! We caught up with Jeff Nelson, the head of marketing for Scream Factory, to get the inside scoop on the 13 recently announced titles and upcoming slate!
Blumhouse.com: So, how did Comic Con 2016 go for the Shout Factory/Scream Factory crew?
Jeff Nelson: We thought that Comic-Con went really smoothly for us this year. It went perfectly, actually. I was responsible for bringing down the talent from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD; Thom Matthews, John Philbin and Sean Clark from Horror’s Hallowed Grounds for a signing before our panel. And that went great. A really good turnout.
BH.com: The disc is great! The final product is really fantastic.
JN: We were just so pleased with everything we’ve been able to do with RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, and that was actually a title we announced last Comic-Con! So it was a year in the making and an interesting way to come full circle this year. The panel was well attended and the people there were truly engaged. Brian Ward, who also works here at the company and is a DVD producer, kept things very casual, conversational and let people know what we were doing.
BH.com: This has now become an annual tradition for you guys to announce a handful of titles at the convention. How do you go about deciding what’s going to be part of the Comic-Con announcement slate?
JN: While Cliff MacMillan continues to make deals, we look at titles we have on the horizon – we work so far in advance, so I kind of know what November, December, possibly January and Quarter 1 and 2 for the next year will look like. And that’s where I’m able to take a look at those titles and say, hey, do we have strong ones that we’re able to announce in advance, and where the deals have been signed? I can’t announce anything unless the deals are signed and done. There are other titles that we currently have cooking that would’ve been just as splashy that we couldn’t announce for Comic-Con, but we tried. It’s always about insuring the deals are done, and if the titles are compelling enough to announce. This year we had 13, last year we had 10.
BH.com: Well, let’s start with the Cronenberg stuff! In the same way that Criterion has their “filmmakers” that they showcase, you guys have built an interesting library that celebrates directors such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, Stuart Gordon. Criterion is usually the one that does Cronenberg titles, but this is exciting that you’ve got RABID and DEAD RINGERS!
JN: What’s really interesting was when Cliff and I were on the Shock Waves podcast earlier this year, I mentioned something like, “I’d love to work on Croneberg titles,” we knew we had these titles coming. We just couldn’t say anything on that podcast! I did the same thing with CARRIE. I have to throw off the scent sometimes! But our deals with DEAD RINGERS and RABID came from two separate partners, and we’re totally excited. This is David Cronenberg! Good Cronenberg! I personally love RABID. I think it’s one of those early movies that came out before DAWN OF THE DEAD but after NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD that has the same themes of contagion and virus outbreak. It’s very bleak and cold, and you sympathize with the heroine. It’s just a great movie. With DEAD RINGERS, so many people here in our offices are super excited about that title. I’ll tell you, I can’t wait to announce the artwork on those, because they look great. And they’re done in a very different fashion than we normally do. At this point right now these are scheduled for November. I’ll just leave it at that!
BH.com: Since you brought up the Shock Waves podcast earlier, can we give full credit to my co-host Elric Kane for SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 2 and 3?
JN: You know what? Here’s the deal. I would say that that podcast definitely helped. What happened after that podcast, I went back to the office, looked up our numbers for SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 1 on Blu-Ray. I talked about it with Cliff and our president. We did what we call a “profit and loss statement,” and we looked at the numbers, and thought releasing the sequels as a double bill, we should be fine. But that said… this means that everybody that wanted SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 2 and 3 on Blu-Ray, you have to buy it please! (Laughs) The numbers are tight, and SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 1 didn’t do as well as we had hoped, but it still did OK. Usually with sequels – and we’ve seen this with SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2 & 3, HOWLING 2 – there’s a decay, so we don’t want there to be a decay. We want people that bought the first Blu-Ray to buy these. And I know there’s a lot of SLUMBER PARTY 2 fans. They might be just as big if not bigger than the fans of the first one. Yes, Elric and the onslaught of social media people after that podcast certainly helped!
BH.com: You guys have tackled franchises before, but how do you feel about getting the POLTERGEIST sequels now? Because for me, growing up, POLTERGEIST 2 and 3 were the ones that were on heavy rotation on cable, so I saw those a lot! And I’m looking forward to these! Even though I already have the bare bones Blu-Rays!
JN: As people know, we have a relationship with MGM, for certain titles. We obviously don’t have access to the first POLTERGEIST, because Warners Brothers in involved and we just don’t have an in with them. But for POLTERGEIST 2 and 3, this was one of those things that Cliff suggested and we put it on the schedule. Although we don’t have details yet, I have said to Cliff that there are a few things we’re going to need to do in order for people to be willing to double dip, because they have been on Blu-Ray before as you mentioned. It’s still too early, but we can say we’re making them both collector’s editions. I have to tell you, out of all of the announcements, in person at the panel, POLTERGEIST 2 and 3 was met with some excitement, but not nearly as big as BLACK CHRISTMAS or BUBBA HO-TEP or the Cronenberg titles. But online, afterwards, totally different story. We’ve been seeing a lot of excitement online for those 2 films. We’ve had a lot of people come up and ask if we can get certain things, like deleted scenes. Know that we’re going to do our best. But also, remember we have parameters and limitations. We don’t own the films. We don’t know what materials MGM has yet. We don’t know what legal things we might come across. There’s always that to keep in mind, but we have a lot of fans that know those properties well and we’re going to do our best. I’m excited for them. The artwork is being worked on and I can tell people those will come out in 2017, probably early in the year.
BH.com: I have been one of those people that has been on the fence about getting that recent Canadian Blu of BLACK CHRISTMAS, so I’m glad I didn’t yet, because you just announced that one at Comic-Con too! What can you tell me about what to expect for your version? I mean, this is a classic horror movie to add to your library of titles.
JN: I am a huge fan of the original BLACK CHRISTMAS. I watch it every year, just like probably every one else does. There’s a humor to it, a coldness and a really scary feeling to it. If you turn off all the lights and pop that movie in around Christmas time, it’s creepy. The guy that ended up doing CHRISTMAS STORY, Bob Clark, did this movie! It’s an interesting book end to CHRISTMAS STORY that he would do these two quintessential Christmas movies. We were really fortunate to get this. We don’t have any details yet, but you can guess that we are probably going to try to get this out by Christmas. That is our goal. We are definitely going to try to do a new transfer. We’re still working on that. There were a lot of extras included in the previous editions and we’re in the process of trying to get those altogether. We will have new art work, along with the original theatrical artwork. We know that there’s pressure on us regarding this title. And I’ve got to be honest, every DVD or Blu-Ray release thus far has had some issue, whether it be the audio quality is a little out of sync. Or some other technical issue. We’ve taken a scope of what’s been done, and we’re aiming to make ours the last one, the definitive edition.
BH.com: You’ve done that already with titles such as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, ARMY OF DARKNESS and now RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, so I have complete confidence that you guys will deliver! I have to say, I watched HELLHOLE last night, and the fact that you guys put the love and care to restore that movie shows a lot of devotion and dedication! (Laughs)
JN: (Laughs) Someone asked us about titles at Comic-Con and I brought up HELLHOLE. We announced it, had to cancel it, then we got it again. It’s just had such a troubled release. And I looked at the pre-order numbers and they’re not all that. We went through all this effort for HELLHOLE! But here’s the thing, if we set out to do something, we want to do it and we want to do it right. With BLACK CHRISTMAS, the question has always been on the PQ of previous releases – people complaining about it being too grainy, etc. We just have to evaluate all the assets and see what we have to play with so we can do it. I’ll tell you – we’ll be able to look at it all, and whatever we come up with, we’ll be able to explain fully what we have to work with. You know how we do this! We try to explain as best as we can and do our homework.
BH.com: I’ve done several lists over the years of movies I’d love to see on Blu-Ray, and pretty much always at the top is BUBBA HO-TEP. It’s one of my favorite of Don Coscarelli’s films and I’m so excited that it’s finally getting a proper Blu-Ray release. What can you tell us about that one? Is Don involved the way he was for PHANTASM 2?
JN: I know that Cliff, a lot of people here at the office and fans out there are huge fans of this title. And it’s definitely a really interesting one. I mean, it’s Bruce Campbell as Elvis! It doesn’t get any wackier than that. Because of Coscarelli’s base, and the fact that we are working directly with him on this title, I think it’s going to come out great. There was a lot of enthusiasm for it. And if ever a movie was deserving of its cult following, it’s this one.
BH.com: The other thing that always excites me as a fan every time you make these Comic-Con announcements is that there are always a few titles that I’m not familiar with at all. I’d never heard of THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED or DEAD OF WINTER. What’s the story with these? And do you guys consciously try to incorporate obscure titles with these big announcements too?
JN: Well, sometimes it’s just a matter of the titles that we know are coming out from November and onward. And we realize that some of them are obscure. I could have made this list 10 titles, but we know there are fans of those movies out there as well, the obscure ones. When you roll them into one big announcement like this, they all get attention that they normally wouldn’t get, and you’re also able to say, there is something here for everyone. As far as those 2 films, we’re getting them from MGM. Not too many details yet, but THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMS has been requested quite a bit, kind of in the same way that BLOOD AND LACE had been previously. It’s a Spanish film and has lots of “slasher” tropes. We’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s one of Guillermo del Toro’s favorite movies. I’ve never seen it myself, but I’m totally looking forward to it! I looked at the trailer and thought, “yep. I’m down.” (Laughs)
JN: DEAD OF WINTER I saw as a kid in the 80’s, and I remember it being a thriller. I would probably pair it up with CURTAINS or THE THING, or YOU’LL LIKE MY MOTHER. I’m looking forward to that one too!
BH.com: What about WILLARD and BEN?
JN: Yes! Two obscure movies, for the first time ever, coming to Blu-Ray. We’ve had a lot of requests over the years for that, and a lot of people that tried gave up on those titles because there was a lot of legal wrangling’s surrounding them. For us to be able to clear that and get them, credit goes to Cliff MacMillan, because he’s been going after those titles for years, even before Scream Factory for Shout Factory. That’s a good win for us. I’m really pleased with our announcements this year. This year’s batch got generally met with our most positive comments yet. I don’t know what the hell we’re going to do for 2017 as an encore! But we’ll keep trying our best.
Be sure to “like” the official Scream Factory Facebook page to keep up to date on all their latest announcements. Follow them on Twitter as well. And for your convenience, you can stream their appearance on the Blumhouse.com presented horror podcast Shock Waves below!