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The Larry Fessenden Collection (2015) - Blu-ray Review

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The Larry Fessenden Collection - Blu-ray Review

5 beersWriter/director/actor/producer Larry Fessenden is still a dark apocalyptic mystery to me and, if I am being honest, I appreciate him for that.  He’s an artist who prefers to work outside of the studio system.  His films are personal and deeply moving; they also deserve a far wider cult following.  He takes horror – which often serves as a MacGuffin in his work – to higher levels by working real people and real situations into his narratives.  This elevates their intensity and renders them scary as hell.  

Now, if you’re only familiar with Fessenden through his disappointing Beneath film, then this next bit of writing is for you.  Please, do not judge him for that and use that relatively underwhelming release (it’s a film that is completely misunderstood) as a reason to dismiss this IMPORTANT collection from Scream Factory.  These films and the way they are shot – some 16mm blown to 35mm – are masterfully created with interesting edits, solid performances, good uses of gore, and aching narratives that resonate long past the closing credits.

This 4-film collection – featuring No Telling, Habit, Wendigo, and The Last Winter – seriously rocks with some well-timed and downright crafty terror.   You would be foolish to think otherwise.  Each one improves upon the other.  Watch these films in order of their year of release and you will see an artist improving himself and his message.  Honestly, more people need to be aware of what he is doing over at Glass Eye Pix and this release is a good portal into the weird and wild world of their cinematic releases.

Fessenden, regardless of the subject, makes deeply moving pictures.  He is concerned with the relationship man has to its environment and creatures therein.  And he very rarely allows for the message to dominate the medium.  All of which makes his picture truly important works. 

Take for example the first film that kicks off the set.  No Telling is a hauntingly original take on the whole Mad Scientist subgenre of horror flicks.  And it’s set in an isolated small community of farmers who live off of the land.  Their livestock and their crops are everything to them.  But one bad apple, courtesy of Geoffrey (Stephen Ramsey) and a governmentally owned house with a secret medical lab on it, is threatening to ruin everything.  Mix the creature experimentations occurring in the ultra-secret lab with Lillian (Miriam Healy-Louie), Geoffrey’s wife, own infertility issues and you have the makings of a poignant tale that is both wickedly smart and original.

In Habit, probably his best-known film as it was the one to originally garnish him a lot of attention, Fessenden stars as an alcoholic named Sam.  He is a man so captivated with a mysterious woman and broken by his own life that he fails to see her for what she truly is.  Anna (Meredith Snaider) is a vampire and she sees Sam, who struggles with his own memory, as exactly what he is: an easy target.  It is a film that serves its namesake well and is equally as unforgettable as his first feature. 

Wendigo concerns itself with another creature of the supernatural.  Appropriately named, this is a horror film that, once again, upends the horror genre with a disguised narrative about a legend that comes to roost inside one misfortunate event after the next. George (Jake Weber) and Kim (Patricia Clarkson) take their son, Miles (Erik Per Sullivan) out of New York City in order to spend some quality time in a small town deep in the mountains.  Their nightmare in the Catskills begins when they hit a deer with their car…

…and then there is The Last Winter.  As the final film in the collection, it is indeed the most polished. Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman) leads a team of researchers into Northern Alaska to discover the impact – if any at all – of an oil company’s efforts to build roads across the ice.  When a member of his group disappears and is found days later, weirdly silent and incapable of eating, theories about what is happening start appearing.  Mother Nature is not happy and, as each and every rescue attempt ends in flames and wreckage, it soon becomes apparent that that might very well be the case.

Scream Factory issues ALL of these films with NEW director-approved HD transfers and the crisp details are exciting and full of texture.  The results of their efforts are established quite early on with a strong visual upgrade for all of the films in the set.  However, it is with the supplemental material with which this set truly shines.  Across four disc, the bonus features – including short films, music videos, interviews, and making-of-featurettes – fill in the number of years in between each film.  Fessenden remained active and it shows as he constantly improved upon his art.  There is also a 24-page booklet of pictures, sketches and an essay written by Fangoria’s Michael Gingold included with the slipcovered set.

With the release of The Larry Fessenden Collection, Scream Factory spotlights one of the great talents STILL working outside of the studio system.  His influence continues to inspire.  If you know nothing of his art, this collection – clocking in at just over SIX hours of material – is a damn fine starting point.

The Larry Fessenden Collection - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- October 20, 2015
Screen Formats: varies
Subtitles
: varies
Audio:
varies
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; four-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

See Special Features for breakdown.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  See Special Features for breakdown.

Special Features:

Dig in! From archival interviews to the NEW audio commentaries, Fessenden is a marvel of information, making this release a MUST.

 

NO TELLING

  • NEW Director-Approved HD Transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p picture
  • English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound or 2.0 stereo
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director/Executive Producer Larry Fessenden
  • The Making Of No Telling (1991)
  • Archival Footage (1990)
  • Short Film, White Trash (1979) With New Music By Composer Will Bates
  • Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (1985-1990)

 

HABIT

  • NEW Director-Approved HD Transfer Presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p picture
  • English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound or 2.0 stereo
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Actor/Director/Writer/Editor Larry Fessenden
  • The Making Of Habit (1995)
  • Short Film, Habit (1981)
  • The Making Of Short Film Habit (1981)
  • Save You From Yourself Music Video
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Short Film, N Is For Nexus from Magnet Releasing's The ABCS Of Death 2
  • The Making Of N Is For Nexus
  • Frankenstein Cannot Be Stopped Music Video

 

WENDIGO

  • NEW Director-Approved HD Transfer Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p image
  • English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound or 2.0 stereo
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director/Editor Larry Fessenden
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Actors Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber And John Speredakos
  • Searching For The Wendigo – Behind The Scenes Featurette (2001)
  • Interview With Larry Fessenden (2001)
  • Wendigo: Animated Series Trailer
  • Short Film, Santa Claws (2008)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (2010)

 

THE LAST WINTER

  • Director-Approved HD Transfer Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p picture
  • English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound or 2.0 stereo
  • Audio Commentary With Co-writer/Director/Producer/Editor Larry Fessenden
  • The Making of "The Last Winter" – Full-length Documentary Featuring Deleted Scenes
  • Archival Footage (2005)
  • Short Film, Jebediah
  • Short Film, Origins
  • Short Film, Mister
  • Tired Of Killing Myself Music Video
  • NEW 2015 Interview With Larry Fessenden
  • Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (2014)

The Larry Fessenden Collection - Blu-ray Review

 

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