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The Horror Show (1989) - Blu-ray Review

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The Horror SHow - Blu-ray Review

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2 stars

The Horror Show, directed by James Isaac, has an interesting release history.  Critically panned, the film was eventually released overseas as the third film in the House series although it has nothing to do with a haunted house.  Weird, right?  The producers had to get their money back somehow, I guess.  There’s the beginning of an interesting picture here but cheese mixed in with all the blood and gore and ripping off of Nightmare on Elm Street is mostly what surfaces.

It’s a tragedy, really, because there are some clever moments here.  I’m not suggesting that The Horror Show is a hidden gem but, if you ignore much of late ‘80s vibe about it, the film – about a serial killer named "Meat Cleaver Max" (Brion James) returning from the grave to wreak hallucination havoc in the life of Detective Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henriksen) – could have been something pretty trippy.  Instead, we get piecemealed horror.  And, because James isn’t threatening enough, The Horror Show features a talking turkey on a serving plate.  You can’t get any more ‘80s than that.

Competently directed by Isaac, The Horror Show looks in no way like a first-time director’s premiere effort.  It’s solid and sinister and effectively uses jump scares to remind the audience that this is a horror film.   Henriksen, as he pursues James into another material plane, joins forces with a parapsychologist (Thom Bray) and disintegrates into madness to do battle with the devil.  Also descending is the acting.  James just doesn’t scare in the role of the serial killer.  His various accents are more hilarious than they are threatening.

There are a lot of very David Cronenberg moments in the film; lots of hallucinations, some topping the previous in order to build suspense.  And the practical effects are dangerously morose.  This doesn’t come as a surprise when you realize that Cronenberg was Isaac’s film mentor.  The surreal moments, however, are few and far between and, at times, very familiar.  I wonder if Wes Craven ever telephoned the producers about this one?

Unfortunately, the film goes out of its way to bore the rising suspense with cutaway shots and additional material that goes nowhere quickly.  This is not a character-driven movie and, in spite of his talents, this is not Henriksen’s finest moment in celluloid.  He’s a good guy, definitely not typecast here, and he commands the screen when he’s in front of the camera but even he struggles to rise above the hokey setting as he gets framed for Max’s supernatural murders.

The Horror Show isn’t horrible but – even for nostalgic value – it just isn’t very good.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Horror Show - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
95 mins
Director
: James Isaac, David Blyth
Writer
: Allyn Warner, Leslie Bohem
Cast:
Lance Henriksen, Brion James, Rita Taggart
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Go to Hell!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Don't look now, but your family's dead... just kidding."
Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 28, 1989
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 26, 2013

Synopsis: Detective Lucas McCarthy finally apprehends "Meat Cleaver Max" and watches the electric chair execution from the audience. But killing Max Jenke only elevated him to another level of reality. Now Lucas' family is under attack, his sanity in question, and his house haunted. Aided by a disreputable college professor, can Lucas reclaim his mind, house, and family? Features Lance Henriksen as the Lucas McCarthy and Brion James as Max Jenke. One of the few movies featuring these actors as main characters.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Horror SHow - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

2 stars



Blu-ray Experience
2 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 26, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Language:
English
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single DVD disc
Region Encoding: A/1

Brought to audiences from the fine folk over at Scream Factory, the horror-thriller offshoot of independent film distributor Shout Factory, the 1080p resolution is what you might expect from a lower budgeted horror film from the late 1980′s.  That’s a nice way of saying that it isn’t a poor quality job, but it’s not something that will be used to sell high definition televisions anytime soon.  The image is a touch soft, with somewhat weak blackness levels and some obvious grain and digital noise in spots.  The picture quality won’t offend, but it’s not going to inspire any raves either.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound fares a bit better here. The overall clarity is excellent, especially in provided stable and clear dialogue.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Scream Factory gives fans a nice series of interviews with Rita Taggart and Kane Hodder and that’s pretty much it.  This release is for fans of 1980’s schlocky horror only.

  • Interviews with Rita Taggart and Kane Hodder (11 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

{2jtab: Trailer}

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