Abominable, Monster Night, The Norliss Tapes, Superstition, Voodoo Moon

Abominable Box ArtFor Anchor Bay Entertainment, Hallowe'en is Christmas. The company specializes in horror and suspense – releasing hard to find titles and financing, or co-financing imaginative, low-budget genre titles – and October is their big release month. This year, Anchor Bay brings chills old and new: Abominable – the Rear Window of horror flicks; Monster Night – a horror comedy for kids that won't embarrass their parents [mostly]; The Norliss Tapes – a chilling TV-movie from the man who gave us the original Night Stalker; Superstition – a seldom-seen, sly number from 1982, and Voodoo Moon – the ultimate demon versus a group of talented, but very mortal humans…

Abominable Box Art

Abominable

Preston Rogers [Matt McCoy] is returning home – much against his will – in the company of an obnoxious male nurse named Otis [Christian Tinsley] on orders from his therapist. The wheelchair-bound Rogers is not ready to face his demons – he lost his wife while mountain climbing, and the mountain can be seen from his livingroom window. What Rogers doesn't know is that he will soon have to face a demon of an entirely different sort…

Shortly after they arrive, Otis heads back into town to pick up a few things that they'd forgotten – leaving Rogers on his own. When five beautiful young women drive up and begin carrying stuff into the house next door, Rogers notices – despite his despondency. He also glimpses motion in the woods – which begin barely a stone's throw from the houses.

Long before Otis returns, Rogers is certain that someone – or something – is stalking the inhabitants of the two homes. One of the girls has vanished – leaving her cell phone in the middle of the road. Thus begins a night of terror – as Rogers, stuck in his wheelchair, is almost helpless to do anything…

Abominable is one of the best B-movies I've seen in recent years. Playing off the Rear Window-like situation, writer-director Ryan Schifrin weaves a suspenseful tale with a goodly number of jump moments that are enhanced by the careful building of suspense. The suspense comes from being able to use more than one mood, and to play each mood completely and with fidelity.

The first strike comes out of nowhere, as one of the girls chatters on her cell phone. The mood and the music are lighthearted, and then – she's gone! When three hunters stalk… something… the mood is, again, less than ominous – until the exact right moment…

Schifrin may be a freshman director, but he certainly knows precisely what he wants and how to get it. His use of certain angles shows us Rogers' growing sense of claustrophobia and futility as events escalate; his choice of shots make the girls' arrival and giddy chatter feel as real as gossip in a high school cafeteria. Even his choice of creature is exactly right for achieving the kind of chills – and laughs – the film provides.

It doesn't hurt that Schifrin's father, the great Lalo Schifrin [Mission: Impossible] provides the score – but even without that bit of family help, Abominable is a smart, suspenseful movie that works on all fronts: the characters are interesting enough to engage us; the situations are built to provide jump moments that have an emotional resonance; the comic relief is perfectly timed; the practical effects are far better than the budget should have allowed, and the CG are subtle and beautifully integrated.

Features include: audio commentary by Schifrin, Matt McCoy and Jeffrey Combs; Back to Genre – Making Abominable; deleted and extended scenes; outtakes and bloopers; Shadows – Schifrin's USC student film; Trailers; poster gallery; storyboard gallery, and, as a DVD=ROM feature, the film's screenplay.

Abominable – Grade: A-

Features – Grade: A

Final Grade: A-

Monster Night Box Art

Monster Night

Whilst the parental units are away…

The Ackerman family has just moved into their new home – a large, cheap, allegedly haunted house, and the children have begun school at Zombieski High [team name, The Zombies]. Isaac [Jake Thomas], who is a bit of a geek, finds himself hosting a Hallowe'en party while the aforementioned parental units [Robert Carradine, Vanessa Angel] head off to a faculty party.

Isaac, and his sister Dana [Taylor Dooley], try to balance the party with babysitting their younger brother, Vincent [Joss Saltzman], but things begin to go wrong when it seems tales of the house being haunted may just be true – and Vincent vanishes! How does this tie in the creepily named high school? Long story…

Monster Night is, by no means, a genre masterpiece – but it is entertaining in a lowest-common-denominator, with flashes of sly intelligence, kind of way. The movie combines many of the genre's best clich

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