DVD Review “The Cabbage Patch Kids’ First Christmas/The Little Troll Prince Holiday – Double Feature”

Starring: Danny Cooksey, Vincent Price, Jonathan Winters, Cloris Leachman, Don Knotts
Directed by: Ray Patterson
Distributed by: Warner Archive
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 71 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I may be a boy but I did grown up in the 80’s with a little sister. I remember watching “The Cabbage Patch Kids’ First Christmas”, which originally aired in 1984. It has been many years since then but now with a daughter of my own. I was excited to introduce her to the classic 1980’s Christmas special. Along with that special also included is the 1987 special “The Little Troll Prince Holiday”. This one I am not too familiar with but I certainly know the all-star voice cast including Vincent Price, Jonathan Winters, Don Knotts and Cloris Leachman. My daughter really seemed to enjoy both films quite a bit and wouldn’t take her eyes off the TV for “Cabbage Patch Kids”. This films aren’t overly Christmas themed but it was nice to start getting into mood even though it isn’t even Halloween yet, but that won’t stop me. I am sure we will be revisiting these too titles quite a bit over the next few months.

Official Premise: Fire up your Yule log and get set for an early Xmas, courtesy of Xavier Roberts and a wannabe gnome! The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas (1986) finds the magical brood leaving the safety of their Georgia hidden patch in search of the Christmas spirit in the big city courtesy of  Ruby Spears. Beyond the protection of their human guardian Xavier Roberts and Colonel Casey the stork, the kids find that the big city has its own brand of menace, one very similar to their own… Can they find the Christmas Spirit in time to help a very special orphan? The second feature, The Little Troll Prince (1984), finds Hanna-Barbera mixings Scandinavian folklore with traditional holiday spirit for a charming concoction about a royal monster that trades in menace for a simple life of domestic gnome-dom.

These films have never before been released on DVD and thanks to Warner Archive for making this DVD possible. I swear, a month doesn’t go by that this company doesn’t give live to some rare and unique film that was collecting dust. I did notice though that the transfers of the films were not the greatest. On Warner’s website, it says that they have been manufactured from the best-quality video master currently available, but they also haven’t been remastered or restored. Nonetheless, they still were completely watchable presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The Dolby Digital audio track included works well with the music, especially the songs in “The Little Troll Prince Holiday”. There were no additional special features included.

Blu-ray Review “Dracula: Prince of Darkness”

Actors: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir, Francis Matthews, Suzan Farmer, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell
Directors: Terence Fisher
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Hammer is known for delivering some of the best horror films of our time. “Dracula: Prince of Darkness” is the follow up to “Horror of Dracula (1958)”, which started Christopher Lee as the Count. In this film, he does not speak a single word in the film and yet still delivers such a great performance. His red eyes literally hypothesize you. The film was released in 1966 and yet it still works so well. It is so refreshing to see a classic vampire flick where crosses and light have such an amazing effect. Highly recommend for any fan of classic horror and of course Hammer flicks.

Four English tourists who are holidaying in the Carpathians are warned to avoid the castle in town. But when they are abandons in the mountains due to fear from the locals, they seek refuge by a carriage with no rider which leads them right to that very same castle they warned against visiting. They are welcomed by Klove (Philip Latham), who happens to be the sinister manservant of Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). He has plans for them to bring his master back to life.

The Blu-ray presentation from Millennium Entertainment is amazing. The 1080p transfer looks amazing and you forget that this film is nearly 50 years old. The audio track though in terms of Blu-ray standards is not amazing since it is only a Dolby Digital 2.0 track but I have to admit though it still sounded pretty amazing despite it not being HD. James Bernard’s score sounded brand new and very powerful, which is always a must with a Hammer production. This release also includes exclusive collectible lobby cards, which are a great bonus.

In terms of special features, this release continues to impress. There is a great commentary track with Christopher Lee, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews and Barbara Shelley. Must listen for any fan. There is a classic World of Hammer episode included “Hammer Stars Christopher Lee”. There is a documentary called “Back to Black. There is a “Restoration Comparison”, which really shows the shape of this film prior to this release and shows how much work went into making it look this good. Lastly there is the restored original trailer and stills gallery included.

Blu-ray Review “John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness”

Actors: Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong
Directors: John Carpenter
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Run Time: 102 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, the first time I saw “John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness”, I was really blown away.  But over the years, I have developed quite the love for this film.  It is not the most recognized Carpenter film over others like “Halloween”, “The Thing” and even “They Live” but is definitely a great film. If you are a horror fan, Carpenter really delivers fan-favorites with Donald Pleasence (“Halloween”), Lisa Blount (“Needful Things”), rock icon Alice Cooper (“Roadie”) and Victor Wong and Dennis Dun (both from Carpenter’s “Big Trouble In Little China”), So the cast feels like a big reunion.  It has also been a few years since I have seen this film probably (don’t laugh on VHS), so I was really blown away with this Blu-ray release. The film still holds up today, delivers a very creepy ambiance and arrives perfect time for Halloween. So if you are a horrorhound like myself you will be thrilled to see this film finally get the love it deserves.  Did I also mention the new cover art totally rocks!?

Official Premise: Master of horror John Carpenter (“Halloween”, “The Thing”) directs this terrifying battle between mankind and the ultimate evil. A group of graduate students and scientists uncover an ancient canister in an abandoned church, but when they open it, they inadvertently unleash a strange liquid and an evil force on all of humanity. As the liquid turns their co-workers into zombies, the remaining members realize they have released the most unspeakable horror of them all. Terror mounts as the team must fight to save the world from a devilish fury that has been contained for over seven million years.

Scream Factory really scored with the film’s Blu-ray presentation. The 1080p transfer in 2.35:1 aspect ratio is quite amazing. Being a big Carpenter fan, I have to admit that this is actually one of the best transfers for one of his films, especially the make-up effects which look stunning. Of course that might all chance when Anchor Bay releases their anniversary edition of “Halloween” later this month. In terms of audio options, we get both a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks. The 5.1 score definitely the most ass and takes the win, especially with the amazing  score delivered by Carpenter and Alan Howarth.

In terms of special features, Scream Factory really delivers the goods for this Blu-ray. “Sympathy for the Devil: An Interview with John Carpenter” is a 10 minute interview with the master of horror discussing the film. “Alice at the Apocalypse: An Interview with Alice Cooper” is an awesome new interview with the rock icon to discuss his role. “The Messenger: All New Interview with Actor and Special Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Grasmere” looks into both his role in the film and special effects work. “Hell On Earth: A Look at the Film’s Score with Co-Composer Alan Howarth” is a feature on the score. There is an “Alternate Opening from TV Version”, which is worth checking out. “Horror’s Hallowed Ground” features Sean Clark giving a hosted look at the film’s locations. There is a Q&A from the “Prince of Darkness 25th Anniversary Screening” from 2012’s Screamfest. There is a great audio commentary with John Carpenter and Peter Jason. Lastly there are trailer, radio spots and still gallery included.