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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

American Horror Project [Blu-ray]

 

(Christopher Speeth, 1973 / Matt Cimber, 1976 / Robert Allen Schnitzer, 1976)

 

Released individually on Blu-ray in the UK on December 4th, 2017

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood The Premonition The Witch Who Came from the Sea

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: International Coproductions / Cinefear / AVCO Embassy Pictures

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtimes: 1:14:14.450 / 1:27:47.262 / 1:33:02.660

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood Disc Size: 28,692,203,198 bytes

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood Feature Size: 21,904,133,952 bytes

The Witch Who Came From the Sea Disc Size: 33,869,501,975 bytes

The Witch Who Came From the Sea Feature Size: 25,919,642,688 bytes

The Premonition Disc Size: 48,777,705,280 bytes

The Premonition Feature Size: 29,184,120,000 bytes

Video Bitrates: 35.02 - 35.08 Mbps

Chapters: 13 / 13 / 13

Case: Custom Blu-ray case

Release date: February 22nd -23rd

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (Carnival, Premonition) - 2.35:1 (Witch)

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

The Witch Who Came From the Sea Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

The Premonition Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Brand new 2K restorations of the three features
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
American Horror Project Journal Volume I - Limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new articles on the films from Kim Newman (Nightmare Movies), Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women) and Brian Albright (Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990)


MALATESTA'S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD - SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
Audio Commentary with Richard Harland Smith

Introduction by Stephen Thrower (3:41)

Brand new interview with director Christopher Speeth (14:06)
Brand new interview with writer Werner Liepolt (11:49)

Malatesta's Underground (10:11)

• Outtakes (2:59)

• Gallery (0:38)
Draft Script (BD/DVD-ROM content)
Production stills gallery


THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA - SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
Introduction by Stephen Thrower (4:52)
Audio commentary with director Matt Cimber, actress Millie Perkins and director of photography Dean Cundey

Tides and Nightmares - Making of Documentary with director Matt Cimber, DoP Dean Cundey, and actors Millie Perkins and John Goff (23:28)

Maiden Voyage - a featurette comprising interviews with Matt Cimber, DoP Dean Cundey, and actors Millie Perkins (36:15)
Lost at Sea - new interview with director Matt Cimber (3:55)

THE PREMONITION - SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

Introduction by Stephen Thrower (3:17)
Audio commentary with director-producer Robert Allen Schnitzer

• Pictures from a Premonition - Making of Documentary with Robert Allen Schnitzer, Henry Mollicone and Victor Milt (21:19)

• Interview with Robert Allen Schnitzer (5:51)
Brand new interview with composer Henry Mollicone
Interview with actor Richard Lynch (16:06)
Three Robert Allen Schnitzer short films: Vernal Equinox (30:09), Terminal Point (40:45) and A Rumbling in the Land (11:06)
4 Peace Spots (3:38)
Trailer (2:23) and TV Spots (3:27)

 

Bitrates:

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood

 

 

The Witch Who Came From the Sea

 

 

The Premonition

 

 

Description: Everyone knows the classic American horror titles: Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street, to name but a few. But we want to tell you a different story a story of the unsung heroes of American terror... Whether it s a film that has languished in obscurity, or a movie that's at risk of being lost due to lack of source materials, American Horror Project is here to ensure that these unique slices of the American Nightmare are brought back into the public consciousness and preserved for all to enjoy.

 

 

Volume I of this series presents three tales of violence and madness from the 1970s. Malatesta's Carnival of Blood (Christopher Speeth, 1973) sees a family arrive at a creepy, dilapidated fairground in search of their missing daughter, only to find themselves at the mercy of cannibalistic ghouls lurking beneath the park. Meanwhile, The Witch Who Came from the Sea (Matt Cimber, 1976), stars Mollie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank) as a young woman whose bizarre and violent fantasies start to bleed into reality literally. Lastly, every parent s worst nightmare comes true in The Premonition (Robert Allen Schnitzer, 1976), a tale of psychic terror in which five-year-old Janie is snatched away by a strange woman claiming to be her long-lost mother.

Newly remastered from the best surviving elements and contextualised with brand new supplementary material, with American Horror Project we can re-evaluate an alternative history of American horror and film heritage.

 

 

 

 

The Film:

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood
"Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood …looks like almost nothing else, with a handmade, collage-art-of-the-damned design that resembles the Manson Family remaking Magical Mystery Tour in the aftermath of a circus train derailment."

"Speeth obviously opted for visual audacity over linear storytelling… Modern viewers would be more inclined to words like 'psychedelic' or 'trippy.'"

"Malatesta's most striking features are undoubtedly its sets. A fever dream of craft fair cast-offs and repurposed garbage, the cavernous interiors resemble a collision of Warhol's Factory and a Coney Island sideshow..."

Excerpt from VideoWatchdog Magazine located HERE

Released individually on Blu-ray in the UK on December 4th, 2017

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood The Premonition The Witch Who Came from the Sea

The Witch Who Came From the Sea
Two interesting figures in offbeat cinema -- director Matt Cimber (who was married to Jayne Mansfield and directed her final film before going on to a handful of expressive blaxploitation efforts) and screenwriter Robert Thom (who wrote Wild in the Streets and Bloody Mama) -- teamed up for this unusual portrait of one woman's descent into madness. Molly (Millie Perkins) is a woman who is haunted by vivid memories of abuse and molestation at the hands of her father, who was a ship's captain; now middle-aged, Molly is obsessed by the ocean and images associated with pirates and sailing lore, which fill her with both fascination and loathing. Molly dotes on her young nephews (Jean Pierre Camps and Mark Livingston) and often spins tall tales for them in which her father is a noble hero, but her sister, Cathy (Vanessa Brown), is not comfortable with her presence, and soon the boys are old enough to spend their time elsewhere. Single and lonely, Molly longs for a man, and is openly attracted to strong, burly types, but at the same time she bears a deep hatred for them, and sometimes murders and dismembers the men she lures into her home. However, given Molly's penchant for fantasy, how much of her story is real, and how much is the product of her twisted imagination? Shot in 1971 but not released until 1976, The Witch Who Came From the Sea was one of the first feature films for cinematographer Dean Cundey, who later went on to work with Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The Premonition
This provocative, highly atmospheric horror movie tells the tale of a young girl who is terrified that her insane mother will take her away from her beloved foster mother. One day, the crazed real mother attempts to contact the girl at school, but her foster mother has a premonition and gets there in time to protect the girl. Eventually though, the real mother and her terrifying boy friend, a carnival clown, succeed and whisk her away, leaving the bereaved foster parents to enlist the assistance of a parapsychologist to help them interpret the foster mother's terrifying dreams and psychic connection to the girl and find her before it is too late.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

American Horror Project Vol 1 is released on Blu-ray in UK and North America (two weeks later) by Arrow Video.  It's region FREE with the same content/transfers in both packages.

 

There are three dual-layered Blu-ray discs - one for each film. They are all 1080P and from 'brand new 2K restorations' with max'ed out bitrates. I can't image better digital treatment will ever be available for these films.

 

There are scratches on Malatesta's Carnival of Blood and minor frame-specific damage I was able to capture on The Witch Who Came From the Sea (see samples below). The Premonition looks the best - and is the best film of the three although The Witch... is very intriguing with an interesting performance from Perkins. Generally, they are all very watchable - far superior to SD with better contrast, richer colors and depth. There is some appealing texture and no bothersome noise. This Blu-ray package offers a lot of value and it's easy to accept the less-than-perfect video - as each film appears to be a strong replication of the best available source.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Examples of Scratch/Damage

 

 

The Witch Who Came From the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frame Specific Damage

 

 

The Premonition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Arrow use a linear PCM mono tracks (24-bit) for all 3 films. Clear, flat and depth in the low-budget film's modest effect requirements. Screams - notable in - Malatesta's Carnival of Blood are sharp with a piercing quality. The Witch Who Came from the Sea has a score by Herschel Burke Gilbert (Witness to Murder, The Thief, While The City Sleeps) and it benefits from the uncompressed transfer adding an indecipherable moody quality to the character study. The Premonition has a score by Henry Mollicone. It can sound odd but it also suits the film's haunting atmosphere. All audio sounds reasonably supportive - occasionally rough-around-the-edges but consistent enough not to distract. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

 

Extras :

There are plentiful supplements on each disc, more than listed on Amazon or Arrow's website, and I have identified them in the listing above. The majority are Arrow-produced interviews and featurettes (1/2 to 1 hour's worth for each disc). It was interesting to see Robert Allen Schnitzer's three, politically and socially charged, short films from when he was quite young as a member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society): Vernal Equinox, Terminal Point and A Rumbling in the Land but I doubt I will revisit them. I will highlight two things that weren't initially listed. I really marvel at people who know their sh$t. I enjoy commentaries and Richard Harland Smith gives a super one for Malatesta's Carnival of Blood - it's fun and filled with great information - referencing older films - light, amusing and educational. Actually, there are commentaries for all three films and I also liked the, brief but excellent, introductions (also for all three) by Stephen Thrower. It really helps to follow these discussions and hear the interviews with cast and filmmakers to give you a better perspective on the productions. Arrow include DVDs - a Dual Format set - of all three films (with the same content as the BDs) and a reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil. Plus there is the American Horror Project Journal Volume I - a limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new articles on the films from Kim Newman (Nightmare Movies), Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women) and Brian Albright (Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990).

 

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood

 

 

The Witch Who Came From the Sea

 

 

The Premonition

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
American Horror Project Vol 1 is a fabulous idea by Arrow. These are not stellar examples of the genre but, with all the supplements, they can be substantially more appreciated than using the, tired, exploitive marketing of their day. We get three stacked Blu-rays with max'ed out a/v quality. It is probably more geared to those who indulge in the genre but I really like the fact that I have never seen the three films before. I was not into Carnival much - it seemed like exceptionally weak filmmaking, but I did like The Premonition as an odd, but effective effort and I will have to re-watch The Witch Who Came from the Sea a third time as it has some impressive indefinable qualities that separate it from associated flics. I am so impressed with how Arrow can find extensive positive characteristics about neglected, throw-away, films like these - one you might never have indulged in. It's akin to the disc owner being engaged in a film appreciation course! I'm looking forward to Volume 2. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

February 18th, 2016

Released individually on Blu-ray in the UK on December 4th, 2017

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood The Premonition The Witch Who Came from the Sea

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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