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Case Number 11451: Small Claims Court

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The Fearmakers Collection

Elite Entertainment // 2006 // 250 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // May 25th, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge Dennis Prince ran out and bought bags of pretzels and cans of Spanish peanuts, ultimately embarrassed when he realized the collection was called "Fearmakers," not "Beermakers." Please, help yourself to pretzels and peanuts in the court hallway.

The Charge

They know what scares you.

The Case

Horror hounds, rejoice! Here's a creepy compendium of insight and interviews focused on the founding fathers of film fear. This new 3-disc collection houses over four hours of analysis and anecdotes from those filmmakers who have shaped the horror, science-fiction, and mystery genres with their unique approaches to terror and tragedy. If you can't get enough of the horror experience, you'll surely devour this fun new release from Elite Entertainment.

The collection consists of 10 installments of the Fearmakers mini-documentaries, inspired by John McCarty's 1994 book of the same name. McCarty wrote and narrates each of these 25-minute episodes. In each, he selects a filmmaker who has made a significant contribution in shaping the horror and mystery film experience, delving reasonably deep into the individual's work and the lasting impression it has had in the genre. Numerous horror aficionados are tapped to provide talking-head commentary and provide observations and experiences, direct or indirect, attributed to the featured "fearmaker."

The EC-style outer cover immediately compels you to tear open the thick keepcase to get to the goods inside. On the three discs entombed within, you'll find the following:

Disc One
• Jack Arnold
The man responsible for making Universal-International a name synonymous with monsters and sci-fi mayhem during the 1950s brought forth the likes of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and Space Children (oops!).

• Tod Browning
Defying convention and often the mores of good taste, Browning is most noted for his summoning of Freaks, yet is also the fellow responsible for establishing the iconic visage of Dracula in 1931.

• William Castle
"Don't be afraid to let rip with all you've got and scream" urges the schlock showman who locked in his House on Haunted Hill, unleashed his 13 Ghosts upon us, and let loose The Tingler to scare the yell out of us.

Disc Two
• Roger Corman
The most frugal of the fearmakers, this "King of the Bs" took his budget-savvy bravado and delivered some pretty amazing results by way of The Pit and the Pendulum, It Conquered the World, and X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.

• Terence Fisher
Just when it seemed the classic monsters had turned to dust, this British director demonstrated that all they needed was an infusion of full-color blood and bulging bust lines, exemplified in Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, and The Mummy (1959).

• Tobe Hooper
The man responsible for tapping our mind's eye to convince us we saw what he never showed, this fellow started the splatter craze as far back as 1974 with the not-so-gory-yet-fully-unnerving Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Disc Three
• Roman Polanski
Besides his deranged tale of demonic daycare, Rosemary's Baby, this Polish-bred filmmaker also endured the brutal murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, a victim of the Manson Family.

• Jacques Tourneur
Maybe you're not immediately familiar with his name, likely because it's obscured by his notable producer, Val Lewton, but this stylistically visionary director is credited with pulpy classics like The Cat People (1942) and I Walked with a Zombie.

• Roland West
A master of the "old dark house" formula, this early contributor brought us 1926's The Bat, a film previously relegated as lost yet which resurfaced to the delight of genre fans.

• Robert Wise
A filmmaker of all styles and genres, this accomplished gentleman wasn't gilded by musical hits like The Sound of Music and West Side Story and dished up some great offerings including The Haunting (1963), The Andromeda Strain, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Easily, the featured filmmakers in this set are tops in their achievements and the manner in which their efforts helped establish and sustain the genre. In a couple of cases, we get direct interviews with these fear-mongers (Wise and Corman) while the balance are remembered and revered by other genre notables including Samuel Z. Arkoff (now deceased), Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Dario Argento, Stuart Gordon, and Richard Matheson. Refreshingly, we also catch some comments from genre documentarian Ted Newsom, whose Flesh and Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror is still the best of its kind.

Each of the 10 episodes here are presented in full frame format and sport an image quality that is on par with a televised presentation (not necessarily good, but not too terribly bad). Expect varying quality from the various film and trailer clips within each episode. The audio is offered in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo—it's serviceable and appropriate to the content. Sadly, there are no disc case inserts (a companion essay or movie poster reproductions?) and there are no on-disc extras (additional interview footage or additional film trailers?). So, what you see is what you get and perhaps, as genre lovers who can never seem to be satiated, it can never be enough.

All told, this is a fun collection that revels in the exploits of these master fearmakers and their beloved work. Easily, this is a must-buy for fear fans.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 89

Perp Profile

Studio: Elite Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 250 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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