When it comes to Comic-Con every year, we all have different things that we most look forward to. Sure, in Hall H, we’re probably going to get a slew of new trailers from all the big budget superhero movies, and hey, I love seeing all those. But for genre fans, I think the panel we most look forward to is with the fine fiends over at Shout! Factory / Scream Factory. It has become an annual tradition for them to announce a slew of new titles, and this year, they did not disappoint!
From their “cult” imprint Shout Select, we’ll be seeing Blu-Ray releases of INTO THE NIGHT, Joe Dante’s masterpiece MATINEE, THE PLAGUE DOGS and freakin’ MAC AND ME! From Scream Factory proper, we’re getting ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, EYE OF THE CAT, DARKMAN II & III and AMERICAN GOTHIC. And the movies getting the “collector’s edition” treatment will be CYBORG, THE STRANGERS, DRAG ME TO HELL, MISERY and the Christmas “slasher” classic SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT.
We have a great relationship with both Jeff Nelson and Cliff MacMillan from Scream Factory. They come on our podcast show Shock Waves (and before that, our previous incarnation Killer POV) a few times a year to bring us up to speed on the inner workings of the company. In keeping with that tradition, I spoke to both Jeff and Cliff after the big announcements to see what other details I could get out of them regarding their eagerly anticipated 2018 slate! Looks like it’s going to be one hell of a year for Scream Factory!
Blumhouse.com: Congrats on another successful panel at Comic Con! First and foremost, what was the general reaction to the announcements on the panel, both for the Scream Factory titles, as well as Shout Select?
Jeff Nelson: From what I could get from the room, and what I could see online afterwards, we did pretty well this year. I would say for the non-Scream stuff, MAC & ME has many more fans than you would think it does! That went over really well. INTO THE NIGHT also went over really well. Same for MATINEE, so I think from the non-Scream titles, those were the ones that got the most applause. I was on the panel announcing the Scream Factory stuff, and in person, the reaction to SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, MISERY, CYBORG, DRAG ME TO HELL and THE STRANGERS were all surprises. Online, afterwards, I saw there were a lot of fans of AMERICAN GOTHIC, and we were pleasantly surprised with the response to that one.
BH.com: It’s always interesting to hear how and why you choose some of these titles. Let’s start with AMERICAN GOTHIC since you mentioned that one. I remember the VHS box, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one before. And yet, a lot of people online seem to have a lot of fondness for it. What can you tell me about it?
JN: This was a film we’ve had steady requests for in the last 5 years at Scream, and we thought that this title was with another studio we couldn’t sub-license from. Correct me if I’m wrong, Cliff, but was that the story?
Cliff MacMillan: It was always with MGM. Originally, on VHS, it was a Vidmark release, which would lead you to think it’s a Lionsgate title, but MGM had it, and actually we lost it to another label. We ended up doing a trade with another label to get the title, so it worked out great for us.
JN: It is a very odd duck of a movie! Someone online said it felt like a pre-cursor to Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, and that’s an interesting way of putting it. Obviously, HOUSE is far more brutal and crazy, but this is about a fucked up family, and a group of young adults get trapped on an island with them. It’s bizarre! It’s from John Hough, the director of THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE. And just the fact that Yvonne De Carlo and Rod Steiger are a couple in it is insane in of itself!
BH.com: You guys did a really stellar job with your collector’s edition of Sam Raimi’s DARKMAN a few years back. Hearing the sequels from this announcement was a bit of a surprise! Can you talk a bit about DARKMAN II and DARKMAN III?
CM: Well, you’re right. DARKMAN did really well for us. It is surprising that we didn’t pick them up earlier, but there were always so many titles in the Universal library that we wanted, so we didn’t pick them up right away, but I’m glad we did get them. They’re fun sequels. There’s no Sam Raimi, but they’re still fun movies.
JF: Although these aren’t collector’s editions, we will have extras on these.
BH.com: Let’s talk about the two films I’m unfamiliar with, starting with ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE from 1958. What’s the story with this one?
CM: That one also had a good response. People are excited about it. It’s a great Bert I. Gordon movie from the MGM/American International library, and it feels a lot like it fits in with THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN and ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN. I just watched our new transfer the other day, and it’s a fun movie. It’s got the craziest scene… (Laughs) These people have been shrunk down and they’re being held by this mad scientist and they break out into this music number. I hadn’t seen the film in a long time, so I had forgotten about that, so when it happened, I just thought, “what the hell?!”
BH.com: Is that the only musical number in the movie? Is that why it stands out?
CM: Yeah! There’s just one music number in the whole movie.
JN: I’m now actually interested in seeing the film more because of that!
CM: “We’re being held hostage, but hey! Let’s break into a song and dance!” (Laughs)
BH.com: Sounds amazing! This was the same director behind THE FOOD OF THE GODS, which Scream Factory also put out, correct?
JN: Yep, and EMPIRE OF THE ANTS.
BH.com: The other one I’d never heard of is EYE OF THE CAT from 1969, and this one has never had a home video release. These are the titles that tend to excite me most, the ones I don’t know at all, because they usually tend to be long-lost forgotten gems.
JN: Well, I’m intrigued with this one. This was a title that was languishing in Universal’s vaults. And it has Michael Sarrazin in it, and Eleanor Parker of all people! And it’s from Joseph Stefano, the screenwriter of PSYCHO, it also has a Lalo Shifrin score, and for whatever reason, it just never got a legitimate home video release. When we saw the trailer online, we thought it looked crazy! There are cats attacking people, and people screaming in wheelchairs falling down hills in San Francisco. It just looked nuts! So, when we announced it, there were some people out there that had seen it and have owned a bootleg & are now thrilled that we’re putting it out. Every year, we try to have a few of these titles that are obscure, or have never seemed to have found a proper home. Last year, we had BLOOD AND LACE. I confess, I have not seen EYE OF THE CAT. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it based on the trailer. We love supporting these kind of films. We hope they sell, so we can put out more titles like this, and we do have more coming like this that we haven’t announced yet for 2018.
BH.com: The “Collector’s Editions”… you guys did not skimp out! Let’s start with CYBORG! I hope this is the first of several Van Damme movies!
CM: I’m the Van Damme fan. And it really is the movie that catapulted Van Damme. He had already done BLOODSPORT, he was just starting to make a name for himself, but I think it was this cool Sci-Fi/Martial Arts movie that launched him. It’s always been a favorite of mine, and a lot of fans out there have wanted a special edition of this movie, so that’s why we picked it up and hopefully we’ll be able to put together a nice little package for it.
JF: Sometimes if a Scream Factory title gets announced, people are puzzled by the Sci-Fi stuff. But we have to remind people that we also put out MAD MAX, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, MILLENNIUM, ROBOCOP 2 and 3. We have a bit of Sci-Fi. I think the impression is that Scream Factory is all horror, but we are a horror and sci-fi brand.
BH.com: Those titles you mentioned, as far as I’m concerned totally fit into the brand. If you grew up a horror fan, you probably grew up a fan of all the movies you just mentioned. Now, with CYBORG, I believe there’s a director’s cut? Are their multiple cuts of CYBORG, and if so, are you going to try to get them all on the disc since it’s a special edition?
CM: Well, we’ll certainly try. It’s always going to be up to the studio and the legal department whether we’re able to do that. But yes, of course, we’re going to try to do both cuts.
BH.com: I wanted to talk about some of the other collector’s editions you announced, because a lot of these titles have been available before, but now you’re giving them a proper upgrade. On top of the Comic Con announcements, you recently revealed that the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and George Romero’s LAND OF THE DEAD are coming. Can you talk a bit about bringing titles that have already been out to the Scream brand, and trying to add something new to it to make these stand out from the previous releases?
JN: The truth of the matter is, in the last few years, we’ve been doing a lot more of what you would consider a “double dip,” and they end up being our biggest sellers. We like to challenge ourselves. People thought “what more could they do for BLACK CHRISTMAS? Or TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2?” And we exceeded those expectations. When we’re looking at properties from studios, yes – DRAG ME TO HELL and THE STRANGERS are on the recent side, but Cliff and I have discussions and if we feel comfortable that we can bring new things to the table, whether it be a new transfer or new extras, that’s going to make this something a fan would want to get it again, then we’ll acquire it.
BH.com: You guys have a great track record of exceeding expectations on things like THE THING, and CHAINSAW 2, or RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, etc.
CM: You sometimes see the fans complain that we’re putting a title out again, but if we did nothing but movies like EYE OF THE CAT, we’d be out of business!
JN: Actually, that’s a really good point. Our Comic-Con announcements every year, they’re exciting, but they’re also met with days of comments online and chatter, just because they’re a lot to take at once. If you look at our list this year, or the last 3 years, we like to try to put something for everybody on there. People that don’t want double dips? Well, we’re giving you AMERICAN GOTHIC. And for people that don’t care about AMERICAN GOTHIC, then we’re giving you SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. We try to give a good balance and I think we do that.
BH.com: Well, tell me about THE STRANGERS and DRAG ME TO HELL, because these are two modern horror classics that deserve the “collector’s edition” treatment.
CM: We both like those titles a lot. It just seems like the original releases, yes they’re available, but they really don’t have any extras on them, and so we felt that we want to do our thing and bring the cast & crew together to talk about both of these movies, because they’re both great. We felt they needed to be redone, and redone with the kind of things our fanbase likes. A lot of people online were very excited, and we’re fine with double dipping, because they know we’re going to bring more to it.
JN: A few weeks ago, we announced LAND OF THE DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD for October. Both are from the same time period, relatively recent. Looking at the pre-orders from our site and from Amazon, they’re very strong. There is a base for that. What I love about our brand, is that we are able to cater to a lot of different tastes when it comes to the genre. We’re putting our ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE from the 50’s and we’re going all the way up to a decade ago and tapping into the fan bases of those films. I like that we do that. I think it makes us a one stop brand for all kinds of tastes.
BH.com: The one I’m excited about is MISERY because I have a bare-bones version on Blu-Ray, but right now, it seems like Stephen King is having this wonderful revival. Are you guys excited about MISERY?
JN: Oh my God, I love MISERY! I’ve seen it a dozen times, and when we had the opportunity to get this title, we just had to. We said, alright, if we get this title, there have been some extras that have been done before. And there has been covered pretty well. So, what more can we bring to it? I can tell you right here that we’ve already talked to Rob Reiner. And we definitely have a new interview in the can, so that’s good. We’ve already confirmed that we’ll be doing a new 4K film transfer on this, which is fantastic. There will be some other new extras, and the extras from before. It’ll be a nice package. We’ll hopefully be announcing the artwork soon. I mean, it’s MISERY. It’s a classic! It’s a movie that people like, even if they’re not horror fans. It’s just a great movie.
BH.com: The biggest reaction, as you mentioned earlier, was for SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. This is a huge title! I know a lot of people were unhappy with the transfer that Anchor Bay did. What can we expect from you guys for SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT?
CM: We do have the original negative, so we will be doing a new scan from the negative, so we will have a nice, beautiful new transfer. We also have a whole slew of extras that are in production right now. I think what we’ll deliver is the ultimate version of a classic Christmas horror title.
JN: With Cliff and I, I think we do a good job of representing fans from different points of view. Sometimes he picks movies that I don’t care for, and vice versa. But then there are a lot of movies we can come together on, and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is certainly one of them. Yes, the last Blu-Ray and DVD releases of this film left a lot to be desired. We see a path to be able to correct that. We know there’s going to be a lot of questions about transfers, and cuts of the film. We’re working through that right now. Cliff is working really hard on it. This is a fantastic title for us to get. We did really well with BLACK CHRISTMAS last year. I never thought in my wildest dreams that we’d have the other ultimate Christmas horror film! So, between those two and NEW YEAR’S EVIL, I think we’ve got Christmas and the holidays covered!
BH.com: A lot of people were expecting you to announce HELL NIGHT at Comic-Con because I believe the Barnes & Nobles website accidentally had a premature listing for it as one of your upcoming Blu-Ray releases. But it wasn’t announced and you briefly addressed why on the Scream Factory page. Do you want to clarify here why it wasn’t one of the Comic-Con announcements, and is it still a potential future title?
JN: I had this question directly asked at Comic-Con, so yes, I can address this again. HELL NIGHT is a title that yes, we are currently working on. It is with an independent licensor. Unfortunately, a retailer linked our pre-order links that were not supposed to go out. They did. We got caught a little off guard, because we were still in talks on how to put this together. And that’s still happening, but we weren’t at a place last Friday where we were able to make a formal announcement, which is why we also communicated that on our social media channels earlier in the week, just so that people weren’t expecting that to be a title that was going to be announced. We think the world of HELL NIGHT. We want to do it right. But we don’t want to announce something until we can be 100 percent sure that we can do it right. There are other titles that we also have lined up for 2018, and some of them are pretty darned big, but again, we weren’t in a place where we could announce them last Friday. You need to cross the T’s and dot the I’s, and that’s what we still have to do with HELL NIGHT.
BH.com: Gents, thanks so much for talking with me about the latest. We’re all looking forward to the next year ahead!