Blu-ray Shopping Bag: Monsters: The Complete Series -

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Blu-ray Shopping Bag: Monsters: The Complete Series

Late Eighties Anthology Returns

By Robert T. Trate     March 18, 2014

The Horror Anthology arrives on DVD
© EOne
There have been several homages, knock-offs, and failed attempts at emulating The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling’s ground breaking series started a whole new genre of television, the Sci-Fi/ Horror TV anthology. It is our memories of that series, with its great characters, clever twists, and unprecedented collection of actors that make us a take a chance on the next TV anthology. EOne is bringing a late eighties relic out of the closet. Maniacs, I present to you, Monsters

The hook here is that these are more horrific stories that deal with the creepy crawlies of the dark and outer space. Now I won’t lie to you and say this is the best horror anthology of all time. It was a series I caught late and night when my parents stopped caring when I went to bed. The clever twists and cheesy make-up made it fun. I jumped at the chance to go back to my early teens and revisit the series. 

The series itself ran for three seasons, spanned four years, and had 72 episodes! The opening, linked below, borders on ridiculous, but gives us the right mindset for what you were about to experience. For my column I had to tackle this series and bring it to you Maniacs, but in a short presentation. I looked at the cast list, the writers, and directors to pick what I wanted to see. The series, on a whole, features appearances by Adrienne Barbeau, Linda Blair, Steve Buscemi, Gina Gerson, Frank Gorshin, Ashley Laurence, Meat Loaf, Tom Noonan, Chris Noth, John Saxon, Tony Shalhoub, Daivd Spade, Tori Spelling, and Lily Taylor. This is only a quick list, but it does span the spectrum of TV and Movie stars on their way up and down the ladder. I picked three episodes that had actors I wanted to see from that particular time. 

“Parents from Space” - Season 1, Episode 14 
To be completely honest, I had to see Batman’s The Riddler, Frank Gorshin, doing what he always does best, eating up the scenes. In a very heavy handed poor adopted girl story, Gorshin plays a cruel foster father who treats little Cindy (Mary Griffin) like a slave. Cindy's salvation arrives when two giant space rats arrive and inhabit the foster parents’ bodies. They, of course, are far better parents and Cindy has to choose between the good aliens and bad humans. A fun little story, but it’s clear why we never really heard from Mary Griffin again. Gorshin delivers in both roles and clearly had more fun playing the giant space rat. 

“All in Days a Work” - Season 1, Episode 21
I won’t be ashamed to admit that I picked this one because of Adrienne Barbeau. She is a babe through and through and a true queen of the genre. She plays a white magic witch who is asked by Steve (James Morrison, of 24 and Space: Above and Beyond fame) to remove his doppleganger from this plane of existence. After her son becomes involved, she reluctantly agrees.  Morrison is really good here as the yuppie who has summoned this creature. The weird part of the episode is the “special appearance by” Eddie Velez. Right, who again? Velez was the final member of the A-Team for its last two seasons. They must have thought he was the next big thing. We have the hindsight of knowing he was not. Tons of cheesy effects and creatures in this episode, but well worth it for Barbeau and Morrison making the most of it. 

“Jar” - Season 2, Episode 7
This one just had too many recognizable actors not to watch. Throw in the mad doctor, Fritz Weaver, from Re-Animator, the sexy Gina Gershon from Bound, and character actor, Richard Edson, from almost everything and you have a fun cast worth watching. A winter and summer couple come to a backwater hotel to get a way from it all. He is there to ditch her and she is there to ditch him. Edson plays a private investigator who falls for Gerson. Where is the monster in this tale? Weaver’s innkeeper grows them and sells them off as his own special pickles. Think a slimy version of the Alien Facehugger mixed with Cthulhu. It ends how you think it would, who are the real monsters?

I was thrilled with what I saw and hope to tackle many more of these. The downside is that there is little restoration done on the transfer. Perhaps this is the best that exists? Then again, the poor quality of the series hides the low budget effects. If you love monsters and horror anthologies, you will not be disappointed. 
Check out the original opening for the TV Series here.

Top 5 Picks of the Week:
1. The Hidden Fortress (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray/DVD)
2. Hunchback of Notre Dame [Blu-ray]
3. Saving Mr. Banks (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
4. Frozen (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy)
5. American Hustle (Two Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD +Ultraviolet Digital Copy)


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Jeff Dunham: Achmed Saves America [Blu-ray]

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Criterion Collection

The Hidden Fortress (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray/DVD) (1958)


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Showing items 1 - 3 of 3
shac2846 3/18/2014 8:40:01 PM

 I would be buying this today if it weren't for the fact that it's 90 bucks even on amazon. No features, no restoration. Like you said that probably helps but for that kind of money they could have at least done something extra. Hopefully the price goes down because I really want this for my collection.

fenngibbon 3/19/2014 12:18:27 AM

 Chiller TV shows Monsters marathons every so often.  It was sort of Night Gallery to Tales From the Darkside's Twilight Zone, but there are a number of good episodes, and The Demons, where a weird creature (played by Richard Moll) tries to summon a demon but gets the spell wrong and summons an insurance agent from Chicago instead, is genuinely funny.

TheFuzzyDan 3/19/2014 5:47:13 AM

The problem with TV series from the later 80's through most of the 90s is that while many were shot on film they were for the most part edited on video.  It was cheaper and no studio could have predicted at that time HD would exist. That's why when DVDs or Blu Rays are made from those series they are being taken from the only edited masters in existance, the videotape. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation was edited on video. It's fan-base is one of the few large enough to warrant the studio going back to the raw film stock and re-editing them from scratch for the Blu Ray releases (worth it, trust me). I'm just glad some series I enjoyed from that time were still edited on film and could be transfered in high-quality like Tales From the Crypt or The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.



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