Laserblast: “Mist,” “Lost Highway,” “Shrooms,” “Fingerprints,” Argento

Looking for blockbuster hits released on home video this week? Better look elsewhere, buster, for there are none to be had. However, if your interest lies more towards the esoteric and the unusual, or if you enjoy sifting through the DTV detritus looking for the occasional dusty gem, however flawed, then there are riches aplenty this week. Ironically, the “major” horror release is the least interesting of the bunch: Stephen King’s THE MIST (2007), which despite the possessory title was actually adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont, who made such a hash of it that it flopped miserably when released in theatres last year. That did not prevent the faithful from proclaiming the film an instant classic (in much the same way that the Rodriquez-Tarantino collective blindly overlooked the myriad flaws of GRINDHOUSE).

Presumably for the benefit of fans like these, there is a two-disc collector’s edition of the film, loaded with extras, including a black-and-white version. (Whoopee!) There is no indication that the film was ever intended to be in black-and-white, so this feels like a gimmicky way to drum up some interest in a film that dissipated from theatres like a fog blasted by a hot summer wind. (Darabont claims the monochrome version is the version he prefers because it emphasizes a connection with 1960s flicks like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD - a strange claim to make for a movie that feels more like a ’50s sci-fi invasion flick ramped up with modern CGI.) Other bonus features include an audio commentary by Darabont, a half-hour making-of documentary, three featurettes focusing on the special effects and action sequences, and eight deleted scenes (yes, this two-hour-plus B-movie could have been dragged out even longer).

Looking for something good, if a little more low-profile? David Lynch’s typically bizarre LOST HIGHWAY (1997) finally comes out in a widescreen DVD this week. The film had received a lavish laserdisc treatment but only a pan-and-scan DVD release in the U.S., forcing American fans to go searching for import discs. Weird and wonderful, the film is a personal favorite of mine. Some people seem to think it’s just a case of Lynch rehashing his familiar elements, but I think the pieces fit together brilliantly. It prefigures the later (and more critically adored) MULHOLLAND DRIVE, but this is a much darker trip, one that I enjoy taking over and over again. Mysteriously, the DVD contains no bonus features, which seems rather odd; at a screening of the film in Santa Monica two years ago, co-writer Barry Gifford indicated that a deluxe bonus DVD was in the works.

American fans of Italian director Dario Argento (whose THE THIRD MOTHER will hit U.S. screens this June) can rejoice – or perhaps not – at Anchor Bay’s Dario Argento Box Set that reaches store shelves this week. All of the titles were previously available, and there is little if anything new now that they have been boxed together. Still, if you are a haphazard collector who needs to fill the gaps on your shelves, this is a quick way to do it. The set features five titles: TENEBRE (1982), PHENOMENON (1985), TRAUMA (1993),  THE CARD PLAYER (2004), and DO  YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK? (2005). The first of these is Argento’s masterpiece; the second two are disappointments; and the last two show some signs of a return to form. Both TENEBRE and PHENOMENON are being released as single discs, separate from the set.

If you prefer something of more recent vintage, two films go direct-to-vide this week after making a favorable impression on the festival circuit: FINGERPRINTS (2006) and SHROOMS (2007). The former is a hit-and-miss mixture of ghost story and slasher motifs; it’s predictable, but it has its moments. The second is a novel attempt to combine the familiar slasher formula with a drug-trip movie, resulting in victims too stoned to evade their killer. It sounds like a spoof, but it’s actually a decent horror film, although the portrait of the hallucinogenic experience is pretty much made up for the movie and the ending is highly contrived twist. Still, both are worth checking out if you’re looking for something other than the usual Hollywood fare.

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

One Response to “ Laserblast: “Mist,” “Lost Highway,” “Shrooms,” “Fingerprints,” Argento ”

  1. [...] in March, we mentioned the release of the Dario Argento Box Set, but Amazon.com insists it is coming out this week. The set [...]