That is, I didn't until I recently treated myself to a new renderer. At last the picture and sound quality - though still not as good as a pristine Blu-ray - is usually pretty solid. I've been burning through loads of movies on Netflix recently, and when it came time to make my stack of movies for Pre'Ween this year I decided I'd try something new. Rather than going the traditional route of spending way too much money on discs this October, I've chosen instead to watch most of this year's new releases via video-on-demand. Now that so many genre movies see release on VOD before disc (and in many cases either prior to or concurrent with their theatrical runs), it seemed a good plan.
What I didn't count on was just how difficult it would be to find release dates for upcoming VOD premieres. While it's possible to find release dates piecemeal on a title-by-title basis, almost no one curates a complete release calendar. The best I came across for genre movies was at The Horror Club, which the site's administrators do an admirable job of keeping updated.
Since they're already doing a fine job of it, what follows is simply a truncated version of their release calendar encompassing only the upcoming releases I'm jonesin' to see. Each entry offers a release date and key info, and you can click the movie's title to check out the trailer. Please remember, what follows is only a list of movies that captured my attention. I've not seen any of these movies yet, so don't mistake a title's inclusion as an endorsement. I suspect many of these titles, as well as my thoughts about them after I actually watch, will turn up in this year's edition of Diary Of A Movie Watchin' Madman near the end of October.
Director: Don Thacker
Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Adrian DiGiovanni, Danielle Doetsch
A depressed, reclusive thirty-something finds himself taking advice from a growth in his bathroom after a failed suicide attempt. Is the growth helping the troubled man, or does it actually have less than altruistic motives?
I can find almost no substantial information about Motivational Growth online save for a handful of early reviews that I'm determined to avoid until after I've seen it for myself. All I do know is that horror icon Jeffrey Combs voices a sentient bathroom fungus in this dark and disturbing festival darling. Honestly, though, that's all I need to know. Shut up and take my money already.
Open Windows (2014)
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Sasha Grey, Elijah Wood, Neil Maskell
An actress refuses to have dinner with a fan who wins a date with her in a contest. The shunned fan is persuaded by a man posing as the star's campaign manager to begin keeping tabs on her from his computer.
Nacho Vigalondo, director of the segment entitled Parallel Monsters in the upcoming V/H/S: Viral (see below), tackles his own full-length feature starring porn star Sasha Grey and budding horror icon Elijah Wood. The hook here is that the story unfolds in real time, with the titular open windows referring to the open windows on a computer screen. Early reviews have been harsh, but I'm intrigued by the concept as well as the casting.
And yes, I am familiar with Ms. Grey's other work. Attention must be paid to any actress who goes from a starring role in Anal Artists (2012) to a starring role in an Oscar nominated director's mainstream horror movie in just two short years.
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Stars: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Ti Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru
A young woman is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. Does she have an overactive imagination, or is the house actually possessed by a hostile spirit who's less than happy about the new living arrangement?
Housebound earned universal praise when it premiered at the SXSW festival in March, and it went on to claim the audience award at the Dead By Dawn festival in April. New Zealanders have displayed a knack for comedic horror in the past, so let's hope Kiwi director/writer Gerard Johnstone's first feature film lives up to the hype.
See No Evil 2 (2014)
Director: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Stars: Glenn Jacobs, Danielle Harris, Katharine Isabelle
A group of friends pays a late-night visit to the city morgue to surprise a morgue employee on her birthday. The one-eyed corpse of a brutal psychopath unexpectedly rises from the slab and resumes his savage rampage using hooks, surgical knives, and power saws.
The first See No Evil (2006) could elicit only a shrug from me, and it seemed like it must have been a franchise non-starter given how long it took for talk of a sequel to materialize. Then came the announcement that Jen and Sylvia Soska, hot off the success of the fantastic American Mary (2012), had signed on to direct See No Evil 2. Suddenly I'm interested again.
Have the Soska sisters just taken the paycheck, or will they succeed in injecting some new life into the tale of Jacob Goodnight's ongoing killing spree? The presence of genre stalwarts Danielle Harris and Katherine Isabelle in the cast seems encouraging. The Soskas will either be credited with reviving what appeared to be a moribund horror franchise solely on the strength of their own prowess as filmmakers, or they'll ruin their well-deserved genre cred with one high profile flame-out. No pressure, ladies.
Director: Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Todd Lincoln, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Lots of people - it's an anthology, man.
This third entry in the successful series of horror anthologies follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation.
Is there still gas in the V/H/S tank? New directorial talent for each successive entry keeps things fresh, but anthologies are notoriously hit-or-miss. So far though the good has outweighed the bad, so the franchise earns at least one more look. Never mind the fact that video cassettes don't go viral.
This year's iteration offers segments featuring the story of a deranged illusionist who obtains a magical object of great power, a homemade machine that opens a door to a parallel world, teenage skaters that unwillingly become targets of a Mexican death cult ritual, and a sinister, shadowy organization that's tracking a serial killer. That final segment, entitled Gorgeous Vortex and directed by Todd Lincoln, was not included in the movie's early screenings, and so it remains to be seen whether or not it will be included in the V/H/S: Viral VOD release.
Director: Jaume Balaguero
Stars: Manuela Velasco, Ismael Fritschi, Maria Alfonsa Rosso
A television reporter is rescued from the quarantined building featured in the franchise's first two entries and is taken to an oil tanker for examination. The soldiers manning the tanker are unaware that she carries the seed of the mysterious demonic virus within her.
Will [REC] 4: Apocalypse be available on VOD this Halloween? Truth is, I don't really know. The Horror Club says yes, but I've been unable to confirm that elsewhere. The movie releases theatrically on October 31st in Spain, so...maybe? I suppose the bigger question is whether or not we should even care after the hugely disappointing [REC] 3: Genesis. It's a testament to just how good the first two entries are that they engendered enough goodwill to insure that I do.
Director Jaume Balaguero returns, as does the narrative thread that follows Manuela Velasco's traumatized television reporter Angela Vidal. That's promising. The found footage angle that made [REC] and [REC] 2 so viscerally compelling is still absent, though, so who knows? Reviews from the premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival are encouraging, so I still maintain hope that this is a satisfying conclusion to the now somewhat tarnished franchise. If [REC] 4 does, indeed, show up on VOD this Halloween, I'm there.
A handful of other titles caught my eye, as well: The Houses October Built (2013) - available 10/10, The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) - available 10/16, Life After Beth (10/21) - available 10/21, and Horns (2013). The Alexandre Aja directed Horns is listed as being available on VOD either 10/3 or 10/31 depending upon the source.
EDIT 9/30 - It appears as though the VOD release date for Motivational Growth has been pushed back to 10/21, and [REC] 4 has been removed entirely from the VOD release schedule at The Horror Club.